Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sir Bobby Charlton, King Kev And Newcastle United

Sir Bobby Robson

"My father had five sons. I had four brothers."

"Hitler didn't tell us when he was going to send over those doodlebugs, did he?"
- On why he was refusing to name his England team before a World Cup qualifer against Sweden in 1989.

"We didn't underestimate them. They were a lot better than we thought."
- Sir Bobby after England sneaked through against Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup.

"Look at those olive trees. They're two hundred years old - from before the time of Christ!"
- Sir Bobby illustrates how great life is in Barcelona.

"I played cricket for my local village. It was 40 overs per side, and
the team that had the most runs won. It was that sort of football."

"We don't train in this country. We train at the beginning of the season to get fit once the season starts, we're a nation of match-day footballers."

"They're two points behind us, so we're neck and neck."

"Football never surprises you and it never sometimes demoralises you."

"If we start counting our chickens before they hatch, they won't lay any eggs in the basket."

"We've got nothing to lose, and there's no point losing this game."

"I would have given my right arm to be a pianist."

"I do want to play the short ball and I do want to play the long ball. I think long and short balls is what football is all about."

"Their football was exceptionally good - and they played some good football."

"Eighteen months ago they [Sweden] were arguably one of the best three teams in Europe, and that would include Germany, Holland, Russia and anybody else if you like. "

"We're taking 22 players to Italy, sorry, to Spain... where are we, Jim?"
- On whether Paul Gascoigne should have gone to the 1998 World Cup.

"He's very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself nobody will catch him."

"The first 90 minutes are the most important."

"In a year's time, he's a year older."

"Anything from 1-0 to 2-0 would be a nice result."

"Home advantage gives you an advantage."

"The margin is very marginal."

"Well, we got nine and you can't score more than that."

"He's got his legs back, of course, or his leg - he's always had one but now he's got two."

"Everyone's got tough games coming up. Manchester United have got Arsenal, Arsenal have got Manchester United and Leeds have got Leeds."

"Manchester United will find it very intimidating with 100 screaming fans in the Bernabeu."

"I thought that individually and as a pair, they'd do better together."

"If you're a painter, you don't get rich until you're dead. The same happens with managers. You're never appreciated until you're gone, and then people say: 'Oh, he was OK'. Just like Picasso."

"What can I say about Peter Shilton? Peter Shilton is Peter Shilton, and he has been Peter Shilton since the year dot."

"When he was dribbling, he used to go through a minefield with his arm, a bit like you go through a supermarket"
- On Paul Gascoigne.

"Steve Hodge has been unfit for two weeks, well, no, for 14 days."

"Ray Wilkins' day will come one night."

"All right, Bellamy came on at Liverpool and did well, but everybody thinks that he's the saviour, he's Jesus Christ. He's not Jesus Christ."

"Jermaine Jenas is a fit lad. He gets from box to box in all of 90 minutes."

"If you see him stripped, he's like Mike Tyson. But he doesn't bite like Tyson."
- On Titus Bramble.

"Nobby Solano discharged himself from hospital after the Tottenham game and he's driving, living the life and aware of who he is."

"We can't replace Gary Speed. Where do you get an experienced player like him with a left foot and a head?"

"They can't be monks - we don't want them to be monks, we want them to be football players because a monk doesn't play football at this level"
- On Newcastle's disciplinary problems.

"If we invite any player up to the Quayside to see the girls and then up to our magnificent stadium, we will be able to persuade any player to sign."

"We mustn't be despondent. We don't have to play them every week - although we do play them next week as it happens."
- Following Newcastle's 2-0 league defeat by Arsenal who they then played the following Sunday in the FA Cup.

Alan Brazil: "I'm delighted to say we've got Sir Bobby Robson on the end of the phone, fresh from getting his knighthood at Buckingham Palace. Bobby, terrific news."

Sir Bobby Robson: "What is?"

Brazil: "You know, getting the old sword on the shoulder from Prince Charlie."

Sir Bob: "Eh? [Long pause] Oh yeah... well, it was a day I'll never forget."

"The crowd were expecting Craig Bellamy to come on and turn it around in an instant. They think he's a magician. He's not, he will be, but he hasn't got a magic wand. He hasn't played for seven months. He will be an October player. He's not a September player"

"I'm not going to look beyond the semi-final - but I would love to lead Newcastle out at the final"

"There will be a game where somebody scores more than Brazil and that might be the game that they lose."

"We used to have Shaka Hislop on our books but I've never heard of Shakira. Is she a singer?"
- On learning that the pop diva was staying in the same Barcelona hotel as his players in November.

Kevin Keegan

"The ref was vertically 15 yards away."

"There are two schools of thought on the way the rest of this half is going to develop; everybody’s got their own opinion."

"Goalkeepers aren’t born today until they’re in their late twenties or thirties."

"The game has gone rather scrappy as both sides realise they could win this match or lose it."

"I don’t think there’s anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona."

"They compare Steve McManaman to Steve Heighway and he’s nothing like him, but I can see why – it’s because he’s a bit different"

"There’ll be no siestas in Madrid tonight."

"By using his strength. And that is his strength - his strength."

"One of his strengths is not heading."

"Gary always weighed up his options, especially when he had no choice."

"I’m not disappointed – just disappointed."

"The tide is very much in our court now."

"Chile have three options – they could win or they could lose."

"That would have been a goal if it wasn’t saved."

"I came to Nantes two years ago and it’s much the same today, except that it’s totally different."

"The substitute is about to come on – he’s a player who was left out of the starting line-up today."

"I know what is around the corner – I just don’t know where the corner is. But the onus is on us to perform and we must control the bandwagon."

"Hungary is very similar to Bulgaria. I know they’re different countries."

"In some ways, cramp is worse than having a broken leg."

"The 33 or 34-year-olds will be 36 or 37 by the time the next World Cup comes around, if they’re not careful."

"England have the best fans in the world and Scotland’s fans are second-to-none."

"I’d love to be a mole on the wall in the Liverpool dressing room at half-time."

"It could be far worse for me if it was easy for me."

"Argentina won’t be at Euro 2000 because they’re from South America."

"They’re the second best team in the world, and there’s no higher praise than that."

"You’re not just getting international football, you’re getting world football."

"Luis Figo is totally different to David Beckham, and vice versa."

"Football’s always easier when you’ve got the ball."

"I want more from David Beckham. I want him to improve on perfection."

"The Germans only have one player under 22, and he’s 23"

"I’ve had an interest in racing all my life, or longer really."

"We managed to wrong a few rights."

"We are three games without defeat is another way of looking at it. But if we are honest we have taken two points from nine."

"I’ll never play at Wembley again, unless I play at Wembley again."

Newcastle United

Q: Why do so many housewives love newcastle?
A: Cos they stay on top for ages and then come second.

Fire brigade phones Bobby Robson in the early hours of Sunday morning...
"Sir Bobby, St James Park is on fire!"
"The cups man! Save the cups!" replies Sir Bobby.
"Well...the fire hasn't spread to the canteen yet, sir."

Q. What's the difference between the Toon keeper and a taxi driver?
A. A taxi driver will only let in four at a time.

Why do Geordie Supporters have Moustaches?
A: So they can look like their Mothers.

Quasimodo asks Esmeralda, "Am I really the ugliest b**tard in the world?"
"Why don't you go upstairs to the Magic Mirror and ask ?" says Esmeralda.
Quasimodo goes upstairs to the mirror and returns a few minutes later.
As he hobbles in Esmeralda asks "Well, what did the mirror say ?"
To which Quasimodo replies, "Who's Peter Beardsley?"

Monday, 26 October 2009

Timeless As Always

What's the difference between a painting, a photograph and a video?

Images presented in them capture different times of the action or event depicted. A photograph captures a slice of time - the split second of an image, resulting in a still image. A video consists of a continuation of a series of images, giving us a moving image.

A painting, on the other hand, is an image formed from an accumulation of different moments in time. A painting beautifully represents, in a split second, everything from the skill of the painter to his memories and passions, transcending the realities of time and space by rendering insignificant the formal barriers of past, present and future.

Sunday, 25 October 2009


A bunch of guys, me partly included, tried to be reeeaaal good buddies and help a friend of ours, only to have the whole situation turn on its head and mess him up pretty bad instead. Most times, it's always best to lay off because we think we know best when we usually don't. Help seldom comes through cleanly especially when the matter has more layers than we'd like to realize.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


My friend's MSN nick which can really pass off as FML:

"My roommate is on the Dean's List and he says it's damn easy to get in."

Before I could consider testing my hypothesis of whether girls think too much/have an automatic evaluative cognitive component, Mark Gungor discussed gender psychology and declared that girls are always thinking all the time, while guys on the other hand have a 'nothingbox' they can retreat into to not think about anything. Russell Peters further backed the claim and used it as stand-up material when discussing about how women are always thinking.

A song for a friend:

Life After Lisa
Bowling For Soup

I'm waking up and bakin'
Watching the parade
'cause today's the day I got over you
Taking out the trash
and the pictures that I stashed
Of the two of us in 1992

You stole my heart when Eddie Vedder was king
I gave you a foot massage I gave you my ring
You left me for a drummer 'cause you said I couldn't sing
But that's ok!

'Cause there'll be
No more mountain climbing in the rain
No more long hair clogging up the drain
No more... life will never be the same
Life after Lisa's not so bad at all

Saw you with the dude who gave us our first tatoos
Did he cover up my name - that was fast
Can you believe that I'm alive, still not working 9 to 5
And my little band is kicking some ass?
So when you asked me if I hated you now
It's not you it's just all the times I missed out
On sleeping with your roommate everytime you passed out
But, That's ok!

'Cause there'll be
No more mountain climbing in the rain
No more long hair clogging up the drain
No more... life will never be the same
Life after Lisa's not so bad at all

I'll bet you're saying to yourself
that you'll find somebody else like me
But all I've gotta say is there ain't no fucking way
that you're getting me to say
I'm sorry... Not today!!!

No more mountain climbing in the rain
No more long hair clogging up the drain
No more... life will never be the same
Cleaning up the house again
Listening to House of Pain
Having headaches in my brain
Listening to you complain
Shopping at the mall again
I'm out of rhymes I've gotta say
Life after Lisa's not so bad at all!!!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Abused Medicine

It is remarkable to me how economists can continue to push on and not be disillusioned about the disconnect between their work and reality. I'm not saying that what economists do are naive, useless or unrealistic. In fact, I think economics should represent the ideal state of affairs of transactions and give-and-take. But there are many things in reality that will always distort economics and affect the elasticity of the supply-demand of some resources.

Off-handedly I can think of the following very basic supply-demand distortions:

Minimum wages/employment
When an industry experiences lessened demand for its good or an oversupply in production, a firm should do something to reduce cost in order to stay afloat, and a part of this is linked to employment conditions. A free market dictates that wages are fluid in order for it to function well and should decrease when costs rise. But the reality is that labour often organises itself to resist such wage-decline and employment changes.

Lack of labour fluidity
In a nutshell, the free market states that the system always remains in equilibrium because of resource mobility. In the arena of labour, when one industry declines, another has to rise and this should pose no problems as labour can relocate itself to fill up the demand in those new industries. But this hardly happens easily. When a worker faces the prospect of leaving his/her current job for another, he/she has to learn new skills and sometimes give up a whole way of life. The global free market also largely overlooks the fact that traveling across borders, implicitly asserted as necessary, poses a great deal of inertia.

Another supply-demand curve distortion is marketing. It basically seeks to exploit consumer psychology to somehow keep demand high despite price increases. Price should be an indicator to the consumer of his/her utility for the good, and by right if the good doesn't change, a price increase should reduce consumer demand for it. But because of marketing, the price mechanism is affected and consumers continue purchasing goods despite price increases.

These things often create distortions that have to be compensated somewhere else in the market, but the repercussions aren't often traded off one-to-one, also because the consequences are unforeseen.

There are more I can think of if I decide to stretch my imagination, but the idea of economics being largely idealistic and somewhat utopian remains given how it can be distorted. I'm still for the idea that its role as an objective, neutral and rational prescription for policy or other matters is great, but in the hands of self-interested people with the know-how for exploitation and utility maximization (which just sounds downright political to me) this doesn't quite make sense.

But that's why sometimes I still have my reservations for blaming free markets alone for the plight of the third world, the lower class and the poor - it is really the people who want to run the free market in a political manner that results in the class inequalities of today. Sweatshops wouldn't happen if corrupted governments and their poor regulations can be exploited to keep labour oppressed (recall institutional strength - good legal frameworks - as an importance precursor for free markets), and fast food companies wouldn't be on such a roll if policy wasn't so strongly dependent on commercial interests (recall the separation of the state and economics as cardinally ideal). Seriously, what kind of justification can one conjure up to lobby against improved safety guidelines for workers?

That's why it looks kind of like abused medicine to me; something created in order to cure but instead misused as a drug.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Giant Corporation: The New Government?

It just suddenly struck me that if the evolution of big corporations (like, REALLY big - think ConAgra, DuPont and Mitsubishi, who have a stake in almost everything from broilers, cattle, crops, flour, automobiles, chemicals, tobacco to shipping) and the reality of their monopoly status is anything to go by, I think we are truly seeing a new form of governance emerging. Actually, if the traditional definition of a state is slightly tweaked, giant corporations won't merely be new forms of governance; they WILL be the new governments.

The Persistence of Realism

Realist literature emphasizing the unexpired role of the state will always draw our attention back to how different states, all essentially representations of governance and power, have robustly existed to this present day. In the process, their intellectual underpinnings have been battered by inquiry and skepticism in the light of capitalism and globalisation, but they have pulled through with little scratches. States still exert their authority on people in our modern day and age (perhaps even more so than ever) and in a remarkable way their physical evolution appears ever so insignificant, despite some changes that people who are only scratching at the surface exclaim about.

For example, some will assert that states have less physical control over people now that violence has lost its trendiness. Let's not consider third world countries for obvious reasons, but even in developed states, their control over populations is still as gripping as ever through non-physical means, such as policy driven by economics - your livelihood is now in the hands of bureaucrats who have ties and interests in certain industries. This is somewhat indirect control, but still as powerful as ever. Still, others may look at the global world today and point out that many global players now have the power to influence a powerful country like the US because of interconnectedness through trade and globalisation. But, do recall that it is precisely a system like this that the US wants and every country that is playing the global trade game today often had no choice but to join in, in the process having their traditions and cultures infiltrated by Americanisation (Ikenberry, 2002). This once again points to the realist nature of state self-interest.

The evolution process of states is remarkably sly and efficient. States waged war a few centuries ago to get power and expand territories because physical power through technological weaponry was the key. Monarchies rose as a result and colonialism became popular as undeveloped countries could be exploited for their resources. Later, the laws established by the international community after World War II outlawed violence and discrimination while upholding human rights and rule of law (paving the way for the spread of democracy while demolishing monarchies, colonialists, autocracies and dictatorships). States didn't sit still on that; to survive they embraced the new ideal - capitalism - and created new routes for conquest by seemingly focusing on economics rather than politics, while at the same time blocking off the surveillance of human rights by using the rule of law as a disguise for legitimacy. Legitimacy creates the moral support for a state to engage in its political dealings - The US was now free to impose itself on undemocratic countries as they were perceived as evil.

It is like how we think that a company that plants its own trees in order to produce paper is being environmentally considerate and therefore not 'bad', when in fact the mass production of the same types of trees in one plot of land (monoculture) is extremely detrimental to the ecosystem and we let it go unchallenged.

And even then, to think of states as now focusing on economics rather than politics seems to fall short of the defining nature of politics and power. I think it is actually more correct to say that economics is now the new form of politics that governments have come to employ in order to further their own interests.

The Growth of the Political Corporation

State and liberty are directly opposed, so they say. Capitalists, liberal economists and right-wing intellectuals will assert the undermining of the state when the free market prevails. When the history of agriculture and cattle farming is observed, such production has evolved from one where the unit of production is the self-reliant family - each family produced its own food from seed to plate with little surplus and with little purchase of capital - to one that consisted of many firms breaking up the production process and a lot of specialisation between a century to half a century ago (which would be argued to be a good example of a properly working free market) to one that is now shaped like an hourglass in our contemporary society - thousands of farmers at the top (production) and millions of consumers at the bottom, with only about four behemoth corporations in the middle controlling the entire process. The power relations are incredibly skewed in favour of these big corporations - one can pretend to imagine how competitive such a market can be. They have plenty of leverage in their hands.

These corporations got to where they are through mergers and acquisitions, in the process carrying out horizontal and vertical integration. It is hard to topple these big corporations because they have resources to waste in order to distort the market in their favour (and, as an afterthought, physical damage to them is not an option since war has been deemed illegal and being cut off from the goods they supply you might kill you). Their place in society has been cemented by their involvement with populations of people through the provision of services. In effect, they have so many dealings in a complex, inter-related web of production such that they have profoundly infiltrated the lives of people and have become indispensable, and interestingly this is much like states do.

This is where it begins to hit me that there is little that distinguishes a giant, integrated and monopolistic corporation from a state - both are revenue-collecting, bureaucratic, conquest-driven, coercive and politically powerful forms of governing/dominating a population. The political power of monopolies and governments require little elaboration. With political power, monopolies and governments have the capacity to reduce the liberties of people through coercion. Monopolistic corporations seek to gain ground and get bigger, as much as governments have been doing through imperialism, colonialism and war in the past. Both giant corporations and governments are characteristically administrative, impersonal and bureaucratic. Most importantly, corporations and governments both seek revenue from the people they 'serve', one through the sale of products and the other through taxation. It is this exchange of services for money that creates a social contract between the service-provider and the people, and in effect a form of state accountability and legitimacy is established. Conquest and taxation has historically been the precedent for states to gain basic legitimacy for existence in the eyes of their own citizens (Tilly, 1975).

At this moment, such a link between a corporation and governance may still seem unclear, but given the free rein that big corporations are increasingly bestowed with now (much of which is, admittedly, earned), there seems little to stop these corporations from casting their nets further and even taking over government functions once the time is right. Already, Big-Four-ish corporations are attempting to control more than just what they initially started out to do. Having more hands in different sectors of the market serves to facilitate the corporation's ability to control and establish power. As Hefferman (1998) argues, "economic power, not efficiency, predicts survival", directly refuting the assertion that it is efficiency which enables a firm to stay afloat in the competitive market. Even if this hypothesis is true though, I wouldn't expect it to happen any time soon - such a new world order would require a thorough remoulding of people's understanding of government before it can be accepted as politics. But we have seen it happen before when people replaced their chiefs with emperors, their emperors with dictators, their dictators with autocrats, and their autocrats with diplomats. Every one of these leaders have been politicians. The new guy might just be the corporate rat - and 'rat' might even be old.


Have we then created the robot that actually destroys its master when we allow corporations to assume political power? The objective and rational free market may breed a new form of statism if corporations rise to the level of government. Or is this merely another evolutionary path for states to prevail, as we have seen through the ages the rise of monarchies, autocracies, democracies and now corporations depending on what is fashionable (and provides access to political power) at that moment in time?

The important takeaway for me at least is that the corporation could very well completely replace the government one day, and that would be normal. Some might even hail it as 'progress'. It's not the Microsofts and McDonalds'es we're looking at, but rather the ones who can creep right into the very fabric of society such that everything you wear, eat and do has something to do with them. That's what makes corporations like Cargill and ConAgra scary - they're obscure and almost unheard of, but they mastermind the production of many of the things we purchase, from where the crops and cattle are grown to the shipment, transport and logistics, right down to the smallest chemical additives and ingredients in our food. Maybe in the future, the CEO of Singapore Dominance Pte. Ltd. could really be our prime minister, or the head of some Big-4 company could be the hegemonic president of the world. It would probably be some dude who broke down trade walls across the globe and has his fingers in many pies. In that hypothetical future, we would allow some corporate person to make policy decisions for us - who better than a shrewd business man in an economic world huh? It's just the emperor wearing new clothes.

Still, there is something universal (and thus intellectually beautiful) about how it unfolds. At the very heart of it, human nature drives each outcome. States are a spectre of the collective will of power-hungry people.


Hefferman, W. D. (1998). Agriculture and monopoly capital, Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine, 50(3), 46-61.

Ikenberry, G. J. (ed.) (2002). American Unipolarity: The Sources of Persistence and Decline" in America Unrivalled: The Future of the Balance of Power, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 285-310.

Tilly, C. (1975). The Formation of National States in Western Europe, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Friday, 16 October 2009


When ideas don't even have to be kept in check by the government because its loyal citizens do it for them, then we are reeeeeeeaaaally.... gone case.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Knowledge Is Power

We can accept that food shouldn't be taken for granted and it is a sin to waste it, because there are millions starving all over the world. That moral line of thought isn't difficult. But what about education? I would liken it to food, and I would never take a chance to learn for granted, because out there, millions of people, particularly children, are denied this valuable chance to learn.

In any case, this story about Babar Ali, the youngest schoolmaster (at 16 years old), and his little unofficial school in India should make the idea a little more salient and heartfelt.


To me, education and knowledge is so important because it liberates people. Enslavement of a people can only happen unchallenged when a population is illiterate and unenlightened. This dates back to past millenia, as language was only propagated exclusively among political elites so that everyone else could be easily utilised as unquestioning slaves. Without the access to language and knowledge, people are relegated to animals as their awareness is undeveloped and they can only rely on instinct and other people, which is dangerous because it then allows powerful men to elicit tyrannious acts at their whims and fancies. Only through an enlightened voice can an idea spread through communication, poetry, music, art and revolution, and only then will a tyrant begin to fear his people.

When idealistic liberals see utopia as the perfect society run by many rational men and a minimal state, this is the realistic beauty of the idea that everyone can think for themselves so that a whimsically intervening tyrant isn't necessary, unfortunately undermined by the reality that human nature doesn't often quite meet the cut because we are still quite flawed. A part of the problem lies with governments who do want their people to be muted, apathetic, fragmented and powerless, because traditionally, government is about power monopoly and consolidation and they thus rationally fear liberty.

And from what I've seen in articles like the Babar Ali story and other accounts of civil society in suppressed African and Middle Eastern countries is that people do thirst desperately for knowledge, sometimes even at the expense of their own safety. We have it here in affluent Singapore as a birth right.

What Babar Ali shows us indeed is that we can be the change we want to see. Let knowledge be the light, and seek it as much as we want to be free.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sink Or Swim

Sub-saharan African (SSA) politics tells us a contemporary tale of why the virtues of political liberty and freedom are still pretty much an idealist's dream. In spite of a successful campaign in bringing mulitparty and parliamentary politics to Africa (relative to Middle East instances such as Iraq and Afghanistan), many SSA states still run under dictatorships wearing the legitimized garbs of democracy and the rule of law.

Many SSA people still see the state as the ultimate prize for which they can attain resources to ensure the safety of their kin and ethnicity. One can't build a nation based on ideology as long as nobody cares enough beyond basic survival, as lives are still led in poverty. In the end, people only vote based on ethnicity because that is the only thing they are willing to trust in other to have their own interests secured. This has obviously resulted in many of the civil and ethnic clashes that are still pervasive today and hindering progress in the development of national cohesion in SSA.

The Prisoner's Dilemma is a microcosmic representation of many other social situations that can occur on a day to day basis, and as long as each individual perceives the losses to be great when the opportunity to gain from killing or stealing comes by, one can't depend on people to choose to act in goodwill. We are after all wired to act most conservatively when outcomes are presented to us in terms of losses, and these people in SSA have much to lose.

Only when the basic infrastructure of an educated civil society that doesn't have to grapple with the burdens of poverty is established can there be the hope that a stable democracy that upholds rights of liberty and freedom can run on its own.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Elmo's World behind the scenes! Brilliant.

Other than the madcap antics and stuff most of us already know, I like the nothingbox idea.

Slow, methodical speakers probably begin talking with the unconscious assumption that their words are worth listening to. It is like going into a warzone armed with little and assuming that people won't try and take you down.

Pour La Liberté

I believe profoundly that everyone wishes to be who they want to be, except that many people do not realise this innate desire and there are also many others who mute it.

Take for example girls dressing up. I think every girl wishes she could dress up nice and put on make-up without being judged for it. It's hardwired and there's nothing wrong for a girl to feel that way. Nothing wrong, until other people start putting her down for it, for whatever reason - the plainjane group she belongs to trying to keep her a part of them, the pretty group trying to play her down so that she can be kept in check and won't threaten their own privileged position, or maybe even society playing out enforcements of class distinction, so that this poor girl silences her will and 'knows her role' in the bigger scheme of things.

That's why I think when plainjane girls, who are initially perceived as simple, get attached and finally have a means out of the stigmatized roles they have been socially assigned to, they really surprise us and dress up more. With their new boyfriend, they don't have to conform to the wishes or expectations of the group they used to be associated with. They now have the (much more attractive) alternative of going out with the boyfriend wearing whatever they wanna wear, and not get flak for it.

This is but one example of the fear of expectations, even those that only exist in our minds but not in reality, imposing on us and making us a lot less than we can be. I think this is what diminishes a society and compromises on diversity and vibrance, and it's only to the loss of everyone else as well that we all can't do what we think is best for us.

Unfortunately, as most liberal-cynics will contend, "Most people want security in this world, not liberty." (H. L. Mencken)

But I'd always rather be faced with the inconvenience of having too much freedom, than a lack of it.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you... As we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson, as quoted by Nelson Mandella in a 1994 Inaugural Address.


Gosh. As the weeks go by and school pressure starts to pile up, not only because the curriculum dictates so but because people are not really people but sheeple instead, there's a serious spike in stupid, whiny behaviour. Especially on Facebook. Facebook is turning really trashy by the way, but I'll address that later.

A posts the status on Facebook saying, "omg, week 9... wish i could just fuck off from smu and die... so stress" and immediately what he gets is positive reinforcement with B clicking on the thumbs up button and commenting, "yeah man, me too" or C commenting, "smu seriously sucks la". It is fundamentally:
  1. One-up-manship in seeing who is most stressed out and worried about school,
  2. A community built around misery.
What kind of life is that? Suddenly it just seems cool to rejoice in being so damn unapologetically bogged down by school work and grades, because honestly it's all about the social validation.

On a side note, I really criiiiiinnnnge when people comment on break-up notices.

The quality of stuff that's on Facebook is also ostensibly going downhill, and while it's nobody's fault, everybody's actions has indirectly led to this. I think the reality usually goes like this: The ratio of crap to quality of anything in life is usually an 8:2. That hasn't really been a problem in the past because most of the time the 80% of noise made out there couldn't be heard. But because Facebook puts every small thing in the limelight, the amount of nonsense suddenly just gets lots of air-time and screams in thy face. Admittedly, I used to contribute to what it is today because I did share videos that I thought were really funny, but now I think there's no point anymore.

Google has recently released a new communication platform that apparently combines its email system with an interface that resembles Facebook, called Wave. It appears to look like a huge cross between email, SMS and MSN, where integration is key.

With the advent of Blackberrys making it so easy to get and stay connected such that MSNing and SMSing are like the same thing and people can always remain online, I think we are all indeed going to be more connected quantitatively, but my guess is that there's gonna be a big list of online people with very little talking going on.

I still appreciate communicating over a mug of beer with real people very much instead.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Anyhow Update

I've just been through a weekend that has left me extremely sunburnt and writhing in pain whenever I lie on my bed or towel-dry off after a shower.

Anyway, Social Sciences drew with Business 3-3 this morning, and at one time we were leading Business 3-1 only to squander it (like Sunderland) right at the death. I took the 3rd goal, breaking my field soccer scoring duck for the first time in a long, long time.

But what a game it was! We really took it to them. Next up, Economics on Friday.

Samba, Rio De Janeiro!


What a remarkable victory for Brasil!

It is particularly heartfelt because for some reason, I've grown up loving many things Brazilian. I've played soccer all my life and I love Brazilian soccer culture. I've always been fascinated with Capoeira since I first came across it in secondary school, and two years ago I gave it a shot and I'm addicted to it now. I love samba music. There's something about the multi-layered beats that really just makes me wanna get up and dance. You can't stand still to stuff like that. And while I've always been enthralled with the Spanish language, Portuguese is very and almost dialectically similar. It's a beautiful culture where the norm is to be happy, carefree and exuberant, and there is dance, song and life in everything they do. Brazil may not be politically sound, but their culture and cohesive identity keeps the people strongly united.

6 years to tidy the place up, and the show will begin!

Thursday, 1 October 2009


There has been a significant correlation between the level of legality of a country and its level of individualism. In other words, the more complex, reliable and encompassing a country's legal system is, the more it shifts from a collectivistic nature to an individualistic one.

There is good reason for this. It explains why western societies, steeped in centuries of legal tradition, are more individualistic. America and Europe have great legal traditions. China, on the contrary, didn't have any laws pertaining to many aspects of modern civilised society, including business and court settlements, until about half a century ago despite its long-drawn glorious history. In eastern, Asian societies, because the legal system is less established and less dependable, relationships are vital to ensuring that agreements are honoured. From a functionalist perspective, as a result, collectivism serves its purpose of keeping people bonded for good reason - trust comes not from a law-abiding contract, but from the honest word of each person involved in the agreement.

On the other hand, a sturdy legal system functions as a good arbitrator to settle disputes; thus people in individualistic societies have shifted the responsibility of ensuring that a deal stays clean to a system that punishes dishonourable people based on a code of objective law. This has allowed them to forgo the bonds of collectivism.

This is why capitalism/individualism and socialism/collectivism are dichotomously opposed. Capitalism is anchored on objective principles, such as individual rights, reason, non-coercion and the protection of property. Socialism is anchored on more fluid principles as altruism, subjective reciprocity and trust, and the subordination of man to the servitude of the greater collective.
In a country where the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people obviously holds sway, censorship is not simply a danger; even more than that, it is an enormous absurdity.

Whenever each citizen is granted the right to govern society, recognition has to be given to his capacity to choose between the different viewpoints which trouble his fellow citizens and to appreciate the different facts which may guide his judgment.

The sovereignty of the people and the freedom of the press are, therefore, two entirely related concepts, whereas censorship and universal suffrage are in contradiction and cannot long coexist in the political institutions of the same nation.

- Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America