Thursday, November 29, 2007

Closing a Chapter

I've often wondered what the phrase "closing a chapter" actually means, in the context of life.

Unlike the pages of a storybook, life isn't sorted into neat little bundles of narrative, where events happen sequentially. Unlike prose, there is no discernible main plot and subplot to life, no protagonists, no antagonists, no foreshadowing, no metaphor beyond what the interpreter of life chooses to impose.

Where does that leave Pan Narren's, the storytelling ape?

I'm glad my friend has sorted out his issues. It's been such a long time. To be frank, I don't even miss the money anymore, because I've long since given up hope on it. I'm just glad that he's sorted himself out.

I wonder now, as I've wondered a lot in the past year, whether the money would have honestly made a difference. I don't know, but the speculation drives me fretful. I still wonder to this day, if I was able to make a difference, would I have made that different choice? Would I have avoided the pain, knowing that doing so I would give up the wonderful life I have now?

Life isn't a narrative. I can't flip the pages back, because I don't have any pages to flip back. I can't look forward and skip to the ending. All I can do is to live my life as best as I can.

In that sense at least, perhaps I can "close" this "chapter" with some dignity. Best wishes, old friend, and know that you mean a lot to me still.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Everything I Know about Leadership....

.....I learnt from Optimus Prime. Old School man, Old School.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

If Prosperity is so Important....

...why not go the whole hog?

I think I've been reading too many "Freakonomics" and "The Undercover Economist" type books recently. The latest in the series is "More Sex is Better Sex" where the author proposes certain improvements to our justice system. In the appendix of the book, he notes that David Friedman makes an even more radical proposal - that there should be many competing "microsystems" of justice as possible, with individuals subscribing to whichever justice system they prefer.

I say we go one step further.

If economic prosperity, minister performance and politics are so intertwined, I say we go the whole hog and allow a plutocracy in the truest sense of the word. Some points are:

  1. Everyone casts a DOLLAR vote for the candidate they want in power. Top 84 nominees takes all.
  2. All monies will be paid to a central depository. Electors can deposit cash any time they wish. Elections are triggered whenever the pot hits 10 million, and electors have 1 month where they can deposit monies from the day the pot hits 10 million.
  3. The winners of the vote has to fork out the cash. This cash goes to the people who have voted, equal to the amount they were willing to fork out.
  4. The excess in the pot goes to the lowest, I dunno, 10th percentile in terms of income.
  5. NONE of the money involved in this transaction will be taxable. Ever.
  6. MP's and Ministers get no cash pay. Instead, they get a basket of properties reflecting the overall economic prosperity of the country.
  7. Anyone becoming an MP and Minister must disclose all financial interests for the period they remain as MP's.
I sounds incredibly chaotic, but there's an elegance to what I'm proposing. What the system essentially does is to turn government over to the highest bidder. If no one likes the government, they can always be overthrown when the pot hits 10 million - which is a really small sum.

To maintain power, one must always be leeched of money to the lowest 10%, which will eventually accumulate enough to vote credibly as a collective body. Furthermore, to maintain power, one cannot just please the ultra-rich, cos a sufficiently big pool of middle class people will be sufficient to trigger an election.

The idea here is that you don't derive ANY benefit from being in government apart from your ability to make the economy grow. In short, you -will- be putting your money where your mouth is. If you can make the economy grow bigger than the money you've forked out, congrats - you've enriched yourself and everyone else in the process. If you can't, someone else will raise the 10 mil and overthrow you.

So, what do you think?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Armour Upgrade

Midevil Teddy Medium Armor

This is the latest iteration of my armour. I've dropped the coif, and added a gorget and spaulders to the mix. In addition, I'm now wearing knee cops (not shown in this picture), and will be adding elbow cops, a breastplate and possibly a helm, and my kit will be complete.

I've originally aimed for a Milanese style kit, but my kit is starting to look more Early Gothic Transitional, which is just as well.

Demo Team Upgrade

Princess' Bodyguards

Demo Team Upgrade 2

Arrowhead Compagnia

The rest of the demo team has obtained upgrades too. Here my knee cops are visible.

Tome and I

2nd Drill in Motion

Tome and I are still primary sparring partners, even in demos. Tome prefers staying at a distance while I prefer going up close and punching/grappling. It's still a toss up whose style will eventually dominate. Here, the ending is scripted - it casts no aspersions on Tome's ability as a fighter, the pesky dance-around-er. :)

Midevil Dinner

The boys with some well-deserved R&R after the demo.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Quote of the Day II

Scene: Greg briefs us for our latest demo. Most of us are clad in chainmail, some with bits of plate reinforcing vital points. One of my sword buddies, Uncle Chio, in particular has only recently started wearing chainmail regularly despite being a senior student.

Greg: Okay, Tome and KC will be doing 2nd and 3rd drill, Page and Josh will be doing 4th and 5th drill. The rest of you will stand around and look pretty. I know it's hard, but try.

-cue cheering, the loudest from Chio-

Greg: Oh wait, Uncle Chio will be reserve for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th drill.

Me: -turning to Chio- Well, I guess it's true then. Chainmail doesn't stop arrows.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Malaysian Judicial Corruption

I stumbled across this in the course of my work.

For the benefit of those of you who do not know who Ahmad Fairuz is, he is the Chief Justice of Malaysia. This tape allegedly reveals a top Malaysian lawyer, VK Lingham, brokering judicial appointments in the Malaysian Judiciary.

What makes this potentially more inflammatory is that the person who released this video is none other than Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Primer Minister and member of Justice Party (Kelidan). Here, he writes an heated critique of the Malaysian judiciary on the Wall Street Journal.

Former Lord President of the Federal Malaysian Courts (as the Chief Justice was then known) and the 9th Yang-di Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah has given a scathing critique of the Malaysian judiciary during the 14th Malaysian Bar Conference - an event poorly attended by Malaysian judges.

On September 26, 2007, 2000 Malaysian lawyers marched to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya. Labelled the "Walk for Justice", their demands were clear - remove Ahmad Fairuz as Chief Justice.

Today, the New Straits Times has reported that Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz' term has lapsed, and it is unclear at to whether his term has been renewed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.


The reason I write about this is threefold.

The first is to give recognition to the forces of globalisation - what happens to our nearest neighbour will undoubtably affect us. I have am dealing with a number of pending cases in Malaysia myself and news like this shakes my confidence that these matters will be handled fairly.

The second is a follow-on from the 377A fallout. While I am deeply disappointed with the failed attempt to repeal 377A, I am at least glad that there is some indication of listening in the Singapore government - much more so than the lack of response regarding the alleged corruption of the Chief Justice of Malaysia. In retrospect I suspect things could be a lot lot worse in Singapore, and for that, I am grateful.

The third is a cautionary tale concerning mixing religion with politics and justice. The former Chief Justice Abdul Fairuz is one of the judges rejecting Lina Joy's appeal to convert from Islam to Christianity. I note with a sense of irony the obvious parallels between this and 377A. To me, sauce for the gander is also sauce for the goose. What of the right to use a condom? How far away are we truly from echoing Lina Joy ruling?


As a final word - I'd prefer for this post not to be seen as a post in support of the failed 377A repeal, but of a timeline for a series of events that is happening very close to our shores. I intend for this post to raise more questions than answers, to discomfort more than to soothe. I see this as the only way we will learn to ask difficult questions about ourselves and state of affairs.