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The Perils of Making Sense in a Parallel Universe

Posted by intellisg on August 15, 2007

perils.jpgI am sure you’ve experience it before. It goes like this: you read, see or hear something in the real world and form an opinion on it. Then you log on only to find the same topic written in an opposite way. It leaves you wondering, “hey, did I miss something or what?”

Calm down, you’re not in the “twilight zone,” you’ve just stepped into the “parallel universe.” – the internet.

The Parallel universe is a self-contained separate reality coexisting with our own known world, it implies a relationship with our own universe. The internet and the MSM is perhaps one of the starkest representation of this motif where truths are as malleable as chewing gum. Often differing to such a degree one can even draw endless contradictory accounts to suggest they are two different worlds set so far apart – heaven and earth would do quite nicely to describe the relationship.

What’s really behind this contradictory depiction of the truth? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in B'hood, Philosophy | 2 Comments »

20 Minutes to a More Philosophical You

Posted by intellisg on July 16, 2007

This article represents a completely amateurish effort to engage in philosophy and is an appeal to the intelligent public for suggestions and feedback.

From the horror stories told by my colleagues, speed dating sessions can be a mind numbing experience. Once my friend asked this lady from SDS what her interests are. She replied that she likes to “eat and sleep” (I can also confirm that she was not trying to funny). On a different occasion, my friend asked another lady what are her aspirations to which she gave the deeply profound reply,”I don’t know.”

Some studies actually show that under the influence of alcohol, men gave higher ratings to the women they met at a singles bar. Since most dating events do not actually involve alcohol, it is already quite hard for singles to get into groups to appreciate each other’s physical appearances.

Hope should not come in the latest advances of cosmetics surgery. Why not try to become a better conversationalist and a more interesting person for a change? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chris Ng, Philosophy | 3 Comments »

Searching for a Place called Home – The Return

Posted by intellisg on June 19, 2007

home.jpgHAVE you ever asked where home is? No. I am not asking geographically. I know precisely where Singapore is: 01º 22′ N, 103º 48′ E. A tiny sliver of land immediately north of the equator positioned just off the southern edge of the Malay Peninsula between Malaysia and Indonesia.

I am asking in a philosophical sense,

“Where really is home in your heart?”

Against the backdrop of a globalization, more and more Singaporeans are finding themselves working abroad these days. This brings into sharp focus, the need to look deeper into what really constitutes loyalty and citizenry in the context of the question –where is home? Along side this goal there is also a plan to increase the population of Singapore to 6.5 million – how does this sit with the whole notion of nationhood? What notions would be conflated by the need to forge a national identity and shared destiny? Can this be reasonably accomplished? And more importantly how does this all add up to call our tiny dot – home? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Philosophy, Sociology | 10 Comments »

The Right To Be Rightly “Educated.” – A Personal Journey.

Posted by intellisg on June 14, 2007

harvard.jpgHOW many Harvard graduates does it take to change a lightbulb?

Only one – he holds the bulb and the world revolves around him. It’s supposed to be a private joke that’s reserved for those who had the privilege of an Ivy League education, but there’s a serious under current. For one, it implies there’s a mythical quality surrounding an Ivy Leaguer that somehow allows him to “open doors” which would otherwise remain firmly closed.

How true is this myth? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Education, Philosophy | 7 Comments »

The Inconvenient Truth – Lessons in Decision Making.

Posted by intellisg on June 7, 2007

HONESTY and sincerity are of course commendable traits in business and politics, but leaders and even followers like us all have to tread a fine line: to tell the truth can sometimes do more damage than good. If you don’t know what I am talking about, please move on to the next great read. This article is reserved for those who have to regularly struggle between telling the truth. Or settling for outright fibbing – still around? I thought so, even the best of us are sinners in this regard.

Lying is a necessary skill and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. It’s indispensable when it comes to managing oneself and others. We all learn sooner or later the perils of being truthful. If you don’t believe me, just consider the following questions: “do I look fat in this dress?” – “do I look younger with this hair style?” – “can you see that I’ve have slimmed down?” Get the drift, telling the truth can often be hazardous to your health and even more damaging to your wallet. Some lies are just plain heroic, “He went the other way!” Others encourage and edify “don’t be silly of course you will recover and come back stronger than ever before!” Most of us accept while the truth is generally good most of the time it doesn’t always serve a noble purpose – that’s the cue for the “inconvenient truth” i.e necessary lie, to step in – please make room, siam!. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Philosophy | 29 Comments »

The Grey Man In A Black & White World.

Posted by intellisg on March 15, 2007

Have you noticed how people these days are increasingly perceiving the world only in terms of black & white? The trend is every where these days, in newspapers, magazines, TV, blogs and even in ordinary day to day conversations. It’s a litany that typically gets played out too often. Even our minds are resigned to it, filtering it out automatically, hardly even registering its existence. Like the imperceptible hum of our computers, finger nails growing or even the fire extinguisher, one doesn’t really notice it. Till now of course, because I am going to ask you to tune in to what I am talking about, the black & white world.

If you are wondering what the babble is. It’s called post realist speak. Which tells us all, we are either plugged in or out, connected or offline, hip or square, globalizing or dinosauring, progressing or regressing, competitive or vegetating, enriching or disabling, enlightened or dimmed, successful or failed, right or wrong, moral or immoral, with us or against us. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Philosophy, Satire | 17 Comments »

What’s Missing From the 2% GST Hike?

Posted by inspir3d on February 28, 2007

Why are principles, philosophies, constitutions, treaties and “isms” often attached to schools of thought? Isn’t it enough for policy makers to say, “no one will be left behind” or “we will help those who need help.” After all where is the complexity here, they (the policymakers) are even using plain and simple English (presumably for our benefit) to express a clear intention to render assistance to the needy. So what is all the fuss about? Why complicate our already complicated lives by trying to define and delineate the spirit and intention of the recent 2% GST hikes? Besides we all know any attempt to define anything these days is simply an idle, academic pursuit which never amounts to anything of practical value. What do you think really? I am interested to know – but before you rush off to answer this question. Let’s consider why historically man has traditionally seen the need to define schools of thought ranging from welfare, political theories, tools of statecraft, conventions, codes of conduct and even something as trivial as the Japanese tea ceremony. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Economics, Philosophy, Politics | 24 Comments »

Respecting the Mandate of Leadership – Lessons from the “Clash of the Titans”*

Posted by inspir3d on February 12, 2007

“You will all do it again!” the man said in a calm voice to the assembled concubines who had begun to break out in a chorus of laughter. The stranger nodded to his officers as they proceeded to arrest the two lead concubines. These were no regular soldiers, the King of Wu said to one of his ministers. Their chain mail battle worn and their movements sure possessing a confidence which only those who were accustomed to warring possessed. When the two concubines were brought to kneel before the stranger, the King of Wu leaned forward from the raised pavilion. Sensing something amiss, he scribbled a note, it merely read,

“Spare these ladies, our meat and wine will be tasteless without their company.”

When the note was brought to the stranger, he merely looked up at the distant figure seated in the pavilion and smiled, then with a wave of his hands the two ladies were decapitated by his men.

That chilly morning as the King of Wu and his ministers watched his army of concubines marching flawlessly to the sound of the drumbeat, the stranger looked on with the practiced eye of a commander who had seen more wars than the countless hairs on his head. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Philosophy, Politics | 27 Comments »

2001: A Space Odyssey – The Story of a “Covert” Monolith in Singaporean Blogosphere.

Posted by inspir3d on February 6, 2007

If I had to do it all over again, I would never watch Stanley Kubrick’s seminal futurist epic “2001: A Space Odyssey” unless I knew I was going to die the following day. I say this only because after the show all other sci-fi movies just look like soggy two dimensional pop-up bedtime stories.

In its glorious digitally restored DVD format, it doesn’t take one very long to realize that this is how all sci-fi movies are supposed to be crafted. Kubrick’s work is perhaps the finest in 2001 – the most visionary- and arguably the best the sci-fi genre has ever produced. It is certainly one of those rare films that merits consideration as a work of art.

It was inspired by Arthur Clarke’s fascinating short story “The Sentinel,” and I wouldn’t even try to explain the deeper meaning of the film; as Clarke once said,

“If you understand ‘2001’ completely, we failed.” So there you go, in a neat nutshell. If you happen to figure out the film, there are one of a few possibilities, you’re are either a reincarnation of Kubrick or you’ve been watching one of those South American dubbed versions, where the evil computer HAL (incidentally this is the computer from hell which also happens to be the name of the server, I am posting from, now you know why there are so many spelling and grammatical mistakes) actually laughs like a mad pirate. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Culture, Philosophy, Politics | 19 Comments »

Fahrenheit 451 – Intellectuals, We Dam Well Need Them So Singapore!

Posted by inspir3d on January 27, 2007

In Fahrenheit 451, a 1966 film, based on Ray Bradbury’s classic, director Francois Truffaut paints a frightening vision of a dystopian future, where firemen don’t put out fires – they start them to burn books. In this world books are evil. In this future scope, society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal – a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad and anything resembling intellectualism and philosophy is simply corruption.

Fire Captain Beatty (the main protagonist boss) explains it this way, “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs…. Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”

The main character, Guy Montag, bears the number 451 on his helmet. Coincidentally, this is also the temperature at which books ignite. Montag seems to be a robot of sorts, a machine simply following orders.  His mission to destroy homes contaminated with books is mandated by the government. Though he initially seems moderately content with his job and his life, Montag’s mind reflects the condition of his futuristic society: empty. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Culture, Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

Why We Just Need To Snuff Out Col Kurtz – Apocalypse Now

Posted by inspir3d on January 15, 2007

“Apocalypse Now” (AN) is perhaps the quintessential Vietnam movie to end all Vietnam movies. Although it got mixed reviews, audiences were unanimous: Apocalypse Now was a movie that had all the powers to disturb. With some extraordinary set pieces, Coppola certainly achieved his aim of wanting to give his audience a grand scale of the horror, the madness, the sensuousness and the moral dilemma of the Vietnam War.

The quest for Col Kurtz, (played by an obese Marlon Brando) loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s 1902 short novel, “Heart of Darkness” is like a nightmarish Disneyland ride which ends when we and Capt Willard (played by Martin Sheen) are forced to listen to twenty minutes of the muddled mumblings of the crazed Brando, as he quotes T.S. Eliot. But it has a kind of grandeur of the preceding hundred and twenty minutes or so. Brando’s last words, “The horror! The horror!” summed up not only the theme of the film, but also Coppola’s personal belief that the film had become his own personal Vietnam, and he was turning into Kurtz.

“It’s scary to watch someone you love go into the centre of himself and confront his fears, fear of failure, fear of death, fear of going insane.”

Eleanor Coppola once wrote about the precarious mental disposition of Francis Coppola during the difficult filming of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines which was dogged by unfavorable weather conditions, budget overruns, bureaucratic red tape and a temperamental cast.

After three and a half years after it started shooting, with the initial thirteen-week schedule becoming two hundred and thirty-eight days, and the budget having risen implausibly from $12 to $31 million, much of it coming out from Coppola’s own pocket, Apocalypse Now finally opened in New York in August 1979. Although it got mixed reviews and would take nearly five years to break even – it was a resounding success. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Philosophy, Politics | 15 Comments »

Reading Beyond The Lines

Posted by inspir3d on January 11, 2007

I heard of his madness, the one where he leans over and ask with a glazed look,

“Have you finished with those biscuits?”

Only for one to cringe and reply,

“Really, I’ve had enough….thank you.”

He proceeds to crush the biscuits in a saucer only to disappear away humming a tune. It was a form of madness, many said.

One day when I knocked on his door to discuss my Ph.D. dissertation everything proceeded quite sanely, till of course, his renowned madness surfaced, when he asked the question,

“Have you finished with the biscuits?”

“Yes.” I replied gingerly.

As he began to crush the biscuits into a saucer, I did the same in an attempt to share in his madness – I had read somewhere, one should seek to imitate the actions of others to gain their trust and confidence.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Philosophy | 10 Comments »