Beginning this month, and hopefully on a weekly basis henceforth, I’ll be posting some thoughts on stuff that’s happening in my life or in my head. This blog site is eight years old this year, and has been sorely disused ever since Facebook decided to take over the world.
Apart from the usual fiery letter to the press about the education system or some part of society that has broken down (eg. public transport, COE system etc), I have been spending too much time micro-blogging or re-posting stuff on Facebook. At the same time, my writing skills are getting rusty again. The site design just got a brand new refresh with WordPress 3.6 so I thought this is a good time to blog properly again.
So here goes (please comment if you have time to keep me going
On the St. Margaret’s Affair
As a balding bald guy, I am an authority on all follicle matters. And without needing to explain myself further, I think…
- The whole episode was a bloody waste of time. In my time, if you disobeyed the discipline master, you would have gotten a black mark in your records or gotten a very public caning. End of story.
- The school principal should not have made the students wear wigs. C’mon, they’re really uncomfortable and it’s very obvious they’re wigs when you’re wearing them. The girls would have garnered even more attention.
- The students could have been grabbing the opportunity to be rebellious. Who knows?
- This whole thing about shaving heads to raise awareness for cancer was good in the beginning as a charity cause. Then it turned into a whole media circus about the rights of self-expression, an all-rounded education, students’ rights and all that rubbish. It was pretty obvious to me that there were some people using this incident to push their own liberal agendas. Every school should be run by its principal and staff, not by social media.
- Not everyone looks good bald, especially if they do it by choice.
Here’s my suggestion to everyone who still feels strongly about the case – if you really want to fight for some cause, go bald the entire year. Because you will let more people know about your cause, and you won’t like the hair-growing-out phase anyway.
By the way, I stay bald because my cause is “Combovers make a mockery of men”.
New Old Media
Recently, there has been much talk about the impact of online bloggers, MDA restriction on news websites, Internet code of conduct and all that. I take an interest only because I used to be a journo, and sometimes I still feel a need to speak up about media literacy among our people. However, of late, I find myself caring less and less – I suppose it is from a weariness of seeing how nothing really changes very much here for the mainstream media (with the clear exception of the Today newspaper)
The mainstream media is fighting the onslaught of free news online, advertisers moving to digital channels and a general disinterest from the youth. Yet six years after leaving SPH, I still don’t see any visionary moves to cater to the digital audience, all I see are efforts to preserve the old revenue stream and structure of the workforce. And even then, I see journos having to work so much harder than before, catering to both demands of the print and online world.
In the 2000s, much was bandied about “citizen journalism” and while it was mostly BS or marketing talk then, it is now truly reality as many people have powerful smartphones that record really clear videos of all sorts of accidents, disasters and incidents. And who needs to tune in to radio to listen for traffic updates when you can just go online to check out real-time traffic flow? A lot of deep and analytical commentaries are written in print but how many actually read them behind the paywall?
At the same time, the online audience is filled with so many rabble-rousers and armchair critics, it’s actually quite tiring to read my Facebook or Twitter newstream on some days. It’s always easy to criticize someone else, but try doing their job before you speak up. So many young/old chaps think they are political mavens, media consultants, marketing gurus…. yet I bet you most of them just waste most of their waking hours posting comments on another Facebook page.
In response to these two diverse scenarios of static old media and angry new media, there have sprung up sites like The Breakfast Network (of which I contributed some articles earlier) and the new Independent. Will they change or improve media literacy, or revamp the news scene? I don’t know, but they are helmed by veteran journos that I really respect and I wish them all the best. I suspect in time to come, they will become the editors of the virtual newsroom, which is made up of a combination of ordinary people contributors and respected writers, helping to make sense of the massive flow of information flooding our personal challenges. How they will monetize this new world of information and pay their staff is another challenge altogether.
Then again, all I hope is that Singaporeans complain a little less and do a little more for their fellow men.
A repost of my earlier FB post: The deepest regrets of my life were about “failures of kindness” to other people. A few years ago, I swore to live a life without regrets but it was all about what I wanted to do for myself. I realized it wasn’t enough, and he explains it well.
In a current world of social media where there is so much hate, so much anger, so much accusation, written by people who are magnifying the unhappiness and unfairness of our meaningless lives and multiplying it with the uncontrolled vitriol of their brethren, I accept it, but I will walk the kinder way.
With that, I strongly encourage you to read this speech by George Saunders to a graduating class : Err in the direction of kindness.
The (Costly) Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The common wisdom in Singapore, or in Asia, is that motorbikes are cheap to maintain and use. I guess that is true for most riders in SG who are content to go around town on Class 2B (200cc capacity and below) bikes. For owners of higher capacity bikes, or perhaps it is just me, the cost of maintenance goes into the stratosphere for a variety of unexpected reasons.
Firstly, there is the cost of bodily protection. In recent months, I have lost some of that fearlessness as my kids get older and the prevalence of in-car video recorders demonstrate that some SG drivers and riders really don’t deserve their driving/riding licenses. In a rather expensive journey of discovery, I’ve been trying out different levels of protective gear, from full-mesh to textile/mesh to leather jackets.
The conventional wisdom is that leather jackets are a no-no in this crazy humid weather, but with a perforated jacket like the Dainese Racing Pelle Estivo (“pelle” means leather, “estivo” means summer in Italian), I’ve found that they are actually no hotter than a textile/mesh jacket. Any jacket will trap heat and moisture when riding on the roads here, and leather provides the best form of abrasion protection if your body decides to meet the road.
A leather jacket is heavy though and expensive (above $500), so most people will never consider it. I try not to be preachy about it, but when I see men or women on bikes with exposed arms and legs, I really fear for them. A light armored mesh jacket is the minimum riding gear in my opinion.
Another unexpected cost is that of keeping cats away from my bikes at the carpark. Recently, one stray cat decided to mark its territory and before long, my bike covers were smelling of awful cat piss. When Phoebe Buffay sang of “Smelly Cat” way back in the 90s, I don’t think she really knew what it really meant. Cat piss dries up fast (because they do small concentrated squirts) and the smell is impossible to get rid of.
I’ve had to wash my bike covers several times (it’s a real hassle) but the cats keep coming back. As one bro says, “Your bikes now belong to the cat.”
So I’ve tried spraying insecticide on the edges of my bike covers, but the cats still come back. Each time the rain washes the stuff away I need to reapply. Now I’m trying a repellent spray called “Get Off My Garden” and one bottle costs $18!
Dealing with the cats in my neighbourhood as been time consuming. Previously, one of them kept sleeping on my bike seat and leaving fur behind. I grew up with cats in a shophouse and I don’t remember smelling cat pee or dealing with fur at all.
While I know that it’s all great to be a cat lover and such, I often wonder what would people defending strays say if the cat came and pissed on their car or other belongings. The folks in my block sometimes just leave food strewn on the floor of the void deck to feed to strays, and they don’t realize this encourages rats and lizards to come eat as well. As long as it’s not in their house, it’s ok right?
That said, I’m thankful for those pet lovers who act responsibly and genuinely care for the welfare of both people and animals. Hopefully this new spray re-educates the annoying strays.