Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top Pot Pot

Decided to give myself a bit of quality mind improving time and took the better part of the day off today. Bought myself a copy of "Harry Potter and Deathly Hollows," the grand finale to the Harry Potter series. Have finished it and I've got Potter on the brain so to speak. Each and every one of the books has been utterly spell binding, which is quite appropriate when you consider the hero is a wizard and we're talking about the world of magic. JK Rowling deserves every penny of the billion plus dollars that she has earned.

What makes Harry Potter so readable is the fact that although it's essentially a children's story, it's packed with very deep and serious thems. Think of the Dementor's, beings that suck out all the happiness - hey, people who suffer from depression have the joy sucked out of them.

The seventh book is wonderful. She ties up many of the lose ends from the previous six books and somehow, you are left with the feeling that you need to reread the previous six. The themes of evil, love, power and magic are well presented.

For the sake of those of you who have not read the book, one of the characters who's been fairly unpleasent in the prevous six, is finally revealed to be a courageous and decent person. What was his motivation? The answer is "Love." He loved someone for most of his life and that love drove him to become a ....hero!

The second aspect of the story is the fact that you find the past of one of the more "Holy" characters. This is a character who is considered the greatest wizard of his generation, a leader of his people. Yet, in stead of seeking higher political office, he remains a mere headmaster. Finally, you know why. The character makes a point that those who make the best leaders are not those who seek power for its own sake but those who have leadership thrust upon them - they somehow find the qualities that they never thought they had and they maintain the ever moral compass, which those who seek power for its own sake tend to lose. (Think of 2000 campaign when GW Bush rightly pointed out that Al Gore was the type of person who would say ANYTHING to become president).

JK Rowling celebrates the rebellious streaks in the young. The Ministry of Magic is shown up for what most bureaucratic institutions are - slow and corruptable - staffed with people who become so "Power-Corrupt" their love for office stops them for doing the things that they know are right.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hongkies, Singaporeans, Indonesians and Malaysians

Being Hongkies is good because..

1. We are Hongkies and not Chinese.
2. We can talk and shout and nobody gives a damn.
3. Jackie Chan is our icon.
4. We can live in a 5' x 5' cubicle and call it luxury apartment. We even
need to pay $10,000 a month for this cubicle.
5. Our children can speak Cantonese at a young age.
6. We get to blame everything on Feng Shui or Tung Chee Hwa or the mainland
7. Gambling is more interesting than sex. Macau is the place to for thrills!
8. We produce a lot of Miss Hong Kong to the enjoyment of the rich and

We love being Singaporean because..
1. We are not Malaysians.
2. Everyone (especially the Malaysian) hates us, except ourselves.
3. Famous for Orchard Road and we love Geylang. Geylang is the place to go for thrills!
4. We have our own island.
5. We will never ever have yucky chewing gum stuck under our shoes.
6. We know how to enjoy our vacation in Malaysia - keep a few RM50 notes
before you enter the highway: You can throw anything, anytime, anywhere and always wash our cars at the resort.
7. We can speed up to 180 kilometers per hour and not ending up with a summon as long as we have RM50 with us to spare.
8. The men are always concerned, first question to ask a girl "Do you have CPF?"
9. Never fear of getting lost in our country - S$20 taxi ride will get you into the sea. Hahaha!
10. We'll never have to worry about finding Mr or Ms right because the government will find one for us.
11. 1 Singapore dollar = 2.5 Ringgit... nyek nyek nyek.
12. It's OK to be Kiasu. It's part of our culture.

Top reasons for being Indonesian are as follow

1. We are not Australian.
2. We live in the biggest country in South East Asia .
3. No pirates in Indonesia water if you exclude the Navy and Coast guards.
4. Everything is cheap, even our salaries...
5. We can blame everything to Suharto or BJ Habibie or Gus Dur or Megawati, who's next?
6. Only in Indonesia you can get involved in real demonstrations daily for different causes and see no results.
7. Our Rupiah is like a Yo Yo, it can go up and down just because IMF says so.
8. We burn everything and nobody gives a damn. We cause haze all over the
South East Asia and nobody can do a thing... nyek nyek nyek.
9. We don't need fire fighters as our neighbours will provide...

Being a Malaysian is the best because

1. World tallest twin towers, Best F1 circuit, largest roti canai, most
expensive toll rates, ...because Malaysia Boleh!
2. We can be driving, picking our nose, cursing another driver, talking on the handphone, adjusting the radio and bribing the traffic police at the same time.
3. We divorce by sending SMS.
4. Traffic summon can be settled on the spot with the traffic police.
5. We have Teh Tarik & Roti Canai on the Russian space ship.
6. We can save a lot of electricity b'coz our TV shows are so crappy.
7. We can blame everything on the haze or George Soros or government or opposition parties
8. Resourceful City Council, one person to drive the van, one to carry the ladder, one to change a street's bulb and three others watching.
9. We make 2 lane trunk roads into 3 lane highway and back to 2 lane when police are sighted
10. There's always something for the JKR to do. They dig, resurface the road, dig and resurface.
11. All main roads are designated highway because it gives Velooo a reason to collect toll.
12. Our government can never be wrong.
13. Our badminton players can only win on home grounds because we are kampung champions.
14. We have more water than Singapore ... nyek nyek nyek.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vive Le France....


Learn to Trust Arabs With Nukes: Sarkozy

TRIPOLI, 27 July 2007 — After agreeing to nuclear cooperation with Libya, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the West should trust Arab states to develop such technology for peaceful purposes or risk a war of civilizations.

France agreed Wednesday to help Libya develop a nuclear reactor to supply drinking water from desalinated sea water. The reactor might be supplied by French atomic energy firm Areva.

Sarkozy told reporters in Libya that to consider the Arab world “is not sensible enough to use civilian nuclear power” would, in the long run, risk a “war of civilizations.”

“Nuclear power is the energy of the future,” he said. “If we don’t give the energy of the future to the countries of the southern Mediterranean, how will they develop themselves? And if they don’t develop, how will we fight terrorism and fanaticism?”

Many Middle Eastern countries, including some worried about Iran’s nuclear program, are interested in developing atomic energy resources.

Claude Gueant, Sarkozy’s chief of staff, noted the nuclear cooperation deal means “a country that respects international rules can obtain civilian nuclear energy.”

Sarkozy denied any link between the nuclear deal and the release this week of six foreign medics who spent eight years in Libyan jails and were convicted of infecting hundreds of children with HIV.

He helped clinch the deal between Tripoli and the European Union to free the medics, removing a major obstacle hampering reconciliation between Libya and the West. “The only link one can make is that if the nurses had not been released, I would not have come,” he said.

Areva, the world’s biggest maker of nuclear reactors, deals with the full nuclear cycle from mining to waste. Libya said in February it would join Areva in exploring and mining uranium.

Saudi Arabia along with Gulf Cooperation Council partners Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates announced a joint project for peaceful nuclear energy, mainly for water desalination, in December last year.

Egypt, which suspended an earlier nuclear energy program after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, is looking to revive it to meet energy needs and conserve gas and oil reserves.

Libya and France also signed accords for a military-industrial partnership and cooperation in scientific research and higher education on Wednesday.

“I am trying to reassure a part of the Arab world,” said Sarkozy. “There is Libya, but all the other Arab states are looking at the way Libya will be treated following the release of the nurses.”

French green groups attacked the plan as a perilous masquerade that would encourage Muammar Qaddafi to get a nuclear bomb.

Sortir du Nucleaire (Get Out of Nuclear) said the official reason for the reactor was a “deception” as the civilian and military uses of nuclear technology were “indissociable.”

“Delivering civilian nuclear energy to Libya would amount to helping the country, sooner or later, to acquire nuclear weapons,” it said.

Rich in oil and gas, Libya is “very amply self-sufficient in energy,” the group argued. “If it wishes to diversify, it should logically give priority to solar energy: the country enjoys remarkable levels of sunshine all year long.”

Greenpeace France said the deal “poses an enormous problem in terms of nuclear proliferation” and branded it as “in keeping with the French policy of irresponsible export of nuclear technology.” Greenpeace pointed out that previous French presidents had signed nuclear deals with the former shah of Iran, ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and with South Africa during the apartheid era.

But experts said the plan posed no immediate risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. They said Libya was cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and had given up its nuclear weapons program in late 2003.

Since then “there has been very good cooperation with the IAEA,” a diplomat close to the Vienna-based IAEA said.

Nonproliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) added: “I don’t think there is any proliferation risk, given the fact that Libya is still cooperating with the IAEA (and) the manner it turned over and destroyed equipment.”

“(Libya’s) cooperation with the IAEA and British and American governments has been exemplary,” Fitzpatrick said. “It is important for the rest of the world to see that when a country abandons its nuclear weapons programs and weapons of mass destruction, there are tangible benefits. This cooperation (with France) is a direct result,” he added.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Worry and Joy

It's been a fairly busy day. Somehow or other most of my waking hours have been spent trying to tiddy up bits and pieces from jobs that have yet to be done and so as the expression goes, I'm quite knackered. Or at least I should be, have not worked this intensly for quite a while, which is probably saying something about moi and my affairs.

Managed to finish a script and a write up today. Fabulous Tan, one of my SME clients is offering a range of "Interesting" cosmetic services. When the business first started, I was sceptical. I still am. I know its awful to publicise this about my own client but the idea of a "Sun Tan" studio in Singapore is really comical. I mean we have more than enough sun and the culture here is for women to became fair rather than dark. Having said all of that the client is obviously doing something right. He's actually been expanding and somehow you can't help but want him to succeed. I think that's one of the reasons why I still support the guy. People who can defy logic and proving conventional reason wrong have the ability to bring you to interesting places. I mean, if I can sell a Sun Tan studio in Singapore I guess I can do pretty much anything.

Managed to get Julian to deliver a talk in Leng Kee Community Centre. He was really good. Could have been something to do with the fact that Julian is the perfect image of what every Chinese old lady hopes her daughters and grandaughters will bring home - in spite of being a very good cornea specialist (one of Singapore's best), Julian is a riddiculously young looking 38-year old. Anyway, Julian's secret to eternal youth aside, he was a hit. He handled the presentation and questions in Mandarin and Alcon managed to get very good exposure from the excercise.

Han Li called today. I'm a little worried. Thui is not feeling too good - bad enough for Han Li to want to fly back quickly. I still have this image of my baby girl as a ever ready bunny and the idea of her being less than that does not make me a happy bunny too.

Night ended at Number 5, a bar in Emerald Hill. Generally not my hang out. Too filled with Whisky Tango and SPG's and girls trying to be SPG's (Sarong Party Girls to reading Brits). Event was an SPCA (In the UK it would be the RSPCA) function and I was there at the invitation of one of my favourite radio producers.

Having said that, the event was a joy to behold. There was this band from South America, one local guy, two Cubans and a Columbian. Seriously, I love to hear Spanish being sung - could be something to do with the fact that I spent the better part of my student days with my head glued to Spanish sound track. But they were really good. Both the Columbian and Cuban chick were enchanting when they moved - for the life of me, I can't understand how the Whisky Tango could look at the SPG's after those two were performing on stage. The Columbian (black chick) could glide effortlessly while the Cuban (white chick) could really shake her booty. Cuba may be communist and Columbia may be a place where people get murdered like everyone else eats ice cream but for those two....I'd move anywhere they'll go to.

I think it must be something about the temprament. Its like whenever you see the Southern Europeans, South Americans and even the Philipinos gather together, there's always an atmosphere of pure joy. It's like when any of these groups gather together, they just let lose like no one else can and the joy that they have is infectious.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost at the halfway point

Its Wednesday morning and I thought I would bash a note out on the blog to see how the world outside me is doing before I hit the sack and get ready for another action filled day tomorrow. Life, as they say has been fairly decent, keeping me stressed up trying to finish a few bits and pieces of work here and there and getting my life off the ground.

Am now in the process of finishing the Home Affairs job with the boys at Consulus. It's going to be a bit of an adventure as I'm being brought into meet with the client on Thursday. Going to be someone from the Ministry, Cops and one of the other agencies I think. Been interesting working on the project - got a chance to get to know how the agencies work.

Yesterday was Flesh Ball's birthday. Quite funny. Got Julian to give her an eye-test for hyperopia (long-sightedness) and then brought her to lunch in the Fullerton. She said it was her dream to have a meal there and so I was nice. Always interesting to see the rolly-polly thing munching away at things.

Anyway, today was also good too. We had an Absolut event - Vodka 'nosing' and getting to know more about cocktails. I love booze events, you can get tipsey and have a legitimate claim to be actually working. Interestingly enough, I found out that Kristianstadt, where Vincent and I visited at the begining of the year is where the ABSOLUT AKADEMI is based. - And to think that the highlight of our trip there was the joy of eating Sweedish Pizza (run by Lebaneese) and playing on the new Nintendo Wi.

After that it was all about trying to tiddy up some stuff for 3M. They are organising a work place safety seminar, which I guess should be quite fun.

Anyway, it's now time to retire.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sleepy On Friday, In Need of beep, beer and FOOD

It's Friday, the proverbial end of the week that everyone seems to look out for. Everyone starts to unwind on Friday (though in Saudi they're already unwound and getting rewound) and I had to start Friday at a meeting with ISD. This is part of a project I'm working off with the guys at Consulus. Interesting meeting, the girl from ISD (Internal Security Department - Singapore version of MI5) studied theater and English and as things turned out had to seriously deflate my ego to tell me that I was probably not being monitored by ISD. Damn, I thought that was going to give me some street cred with the plebs.

Anyway, I managed to collect some more money today, which is always good. Being broke is quite a common occurance unless you are part of the rulling elite but not much fun either (unless you are part of the rulling elite - when things don't happen to you, it always seems so much more fun/funny)

Well, I guess, I'm just in a sleepy and hungry mood. Managed to edit one script, write a brand new one (admitedly with the help of some pointers) and emcee remarks - all this in aid of conference of health and work safety. Personally, workers should be exploited - I know, once you've been exploited you take a particularly childish delight in watching someone else get exploited by the evils of capitalism.

OK, need a nap - got to look for some where to crash before heading back to work

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Auction

It's not everyday where you get a eye-opening experience and so, when an aquaintaince of mine ended up getting into some trouble with the law today, I found myself hanging out at the scene of his troubles so that I could find myself indulging in a bit of voueristic pleasure at someone elses humiliation. I was, as the Singapore government is so fond of saying "Educated" in the way the due process of the law works and into an exciting world of vulture trading.

The saga began when a businesses asssociate of this aquaintaince decided to take the bugger to court for non-payment of loans. The clown decided to "Talk" things over with his business associate who was clearly in no mood to talk and so the guy's restaurant ended up having a "Writ of Seziure" issused against his restaurant. As luck would have it, this was the day that the court had to decided to auction off his "goods."

Actually his goods were more like "Bads". The man runs an Indian restaurant and catering service somewhere near the end of little India. The word is he caters for some of Singapore's more dignified people but has at the same time employed two parasites who were busy pretending to be sympathetic. Anyway, the bads that were to be auctioned off involved several steel tables used for chopping and a fridge that looked large enough to store a body ..... well at least it looked like it should have been storing bodies because the condition it was in made bodies look like a picnic in the park.

Anyway, the balifs were late and so the gang that attends these auctions had plenty of time to assess the goods on offer. Its an interesting group of people who attend these auctions. Many of the crowd had brought their own lorries (Cash and carry-same day delivery).

Like in all things capitalist, the Balif Sales Gang is multi-racial, mostly a good reflection of Singapore's ethnic make-up - majority Chinese, a few Indians and a Eurasian. Non of them look gentle, especially the women. But as long as you keep a respectable distance, nobody disturbs you.

Auction itself is pretty straight forward. Non of the glamour of the Keenland Yearling Sales or Southerby Auctions. But non the less, the process works on a similar principle. The regulars are quite sharp and seem to have a nose for value. Most of them walked out of the auction when it was clear that the price was going to be more than what they could have got on the resale value.

Outside of Geylang, this was capitalism at its naked best. You see people as they really are and you appreciate that the real economy of Singapore is not run by clowns with degrees but by sharp nosed traders with a good nose for value and relationship building (The Balif is obviously familiar with the usual gang).

I always had this fantasy that I could create a viable business going to baliff sales. Well, my fantasy was always at a slightly more elegant level, dealing in fabulous cars and watches of captured drug dealers and bankrupt movie stars. Never had the capital to get into this. Never had the guts to actually study and execute how this could be done.

But having seen todays auction, I'm intreagued. Its not that I plan to give-up my world of intangibles but somehow seeing street traders in action has excited me into wanting to have a decent side line. Perhaps its just me but I seem to think that Karang Gunni men (Rag and bone traders who by junk and sell it for more) are one the best things that keep Singapore running.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ge De Buk Ge De Buk Ge De Buk

Woke up fairly early this morning. Wasn't too difficult. Just got a very tight squeeze on the left arm and suddenly it was out of lala dream land for me. Nothing like having your arm squeezed until it turns blue to keep you alert.

Anyway, the long and the short of all of this is the fact that I managed to get the the darn thing taken off my arm and spent the morning in Changi General having an ultra-sound of my heart. Ultra sounds are quite kinky in a wierd way. You get gel smeared on your body but I didn't seem to mind - I had a good snooze at various moments. Nothing like having a good snooze to make ones morning.

Day has been quite OK. Had lunch with Allan and a new opthalomologist, Dr Gerard Chua, whom we are likely to work with on the Alcon account. Gerard Chua is a nice man, very loving towards his girlfriend. During lunch, he and girlfriend (who happens to be a nurse) held hands. He has to be a nice guy. For me, food comes first - which probably accounts for why I'm a cuddly 97 KG .

Anyway, its been quiet. Some of the press reverted on some of the pitches I sent out late last night. Won't get rich, its all part of the Alcon retainer but its good because every bit of news coverage keeps the client happy and more importantly, I think it helps get some important eye-care issues a higher profile. Alcon is one of those really nice clients where you manage to get a few pennies out of them and do a public service by publicising and 'educating' people are issues like cataracts, presbyopia and glaucoma. So, its nice to earn a few Karma points or whatever they have in the nether world or wherever one is supposed to go to after dropping dead.

Its been a fairly quiet week. Am seriously skint and somehow I need to raise survival cash pretty darn quickly. No, I'm not about to take up prostitution as a living, even if at times being a free-lance writer sometimes feels like being one (on second thoughts, its an insult to whores, they get in cash). But seriously, I'm not going to kill myself. Now that things are moving on GE Commercial Finance, I think the future looks a wee bit brighter or at least more interesting than it did this time last month. A case of ready to die before going into better things.