Critical bloggers

An interesting phenomenon is starting to happen.

There seem to be self-styled experts appearing online and taking on traditional institutions as if they knew any better. It’s not just the usual gripes about “Oh the baby bonus is such a farce”, but “You guys don’t know anything. I went through university and learnt all the things that the media/govt/bank sector should be. Here’s how you should have done it.”

Let me tell you I didn’t learn very much about the real world, business concerns, ethical dilemmas and so on in school. Academia lives in its own vacuum, which is fine as long as they don’t mess up shareholder value.

My challenge to all you people who think you’re so smart – find a job in the company/institution that you are unhappy with. Why be an armchair critic when you can actually effect real change? Or are you too scared to do so? Maybe you can’t even pass the entrance test.

Blogging problem #145 – Everybody has become a consultant. But who’s paying them to talk? When talk is cheap, is it worth talking?

The Pursuit Of Knowledge

As I grow older, I start to wonder about certain things that we assume to be the right thing to do.

For eg., is there a need to know as much as possible about anything? Otherwise known as “The Pursuit Of Knowledge”, a virtue eagerly promoted by everyone from your teachers to the prime minister, I find that it has some unpleasant side effects.

I mean, why is there then, a phrase called “When you know too much”? When do you know when you know too much? Is it when you realise that there wasn’t really any point in knowing all that you have discovered thus far? Or when you realise that knowing so much only makes you realise how little other people want to know about anything? If that is so, why be so different from other people, risking the label of being “difficult” or even “show-off”?

Knowledge is power, I agree. But knowledge, especially of mortal issues, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Mixed Media

See the new disclaimer below?

I like to gripe, but only because things could be a little better. This site has nothing to do with my company Singapore Press Holdings, and the views are entirely mine. If you are looking for insider information, juicy gossip, the scoops on any important joes, this place ain’t it. I’m afraid I lead a pretty boring heterosexual life with a nuclear family and nobody tells me anything exciting. If you want to find out more about how the local press works, please call our HR dept, perhaps there’s a job opening. But don’t cry when you take our super tough writing test ok?

Yeah, it’s to affirm that journalists and blogs do not mix, at least not in the way you’d like them to.

To cut the long story short, I’ve always believed you’ve got to be one stupid journalist if you are going to bring your working life online.

Meaning that you tell the whole world what went on in your work today, which other journalist you bitched about or why this newsmaker has a cute ass. Any journalist that lacks an internal monologue (see Austin Powers, scene when he is unfrozen from cryogenic sleep and mutters that Vanessa Kensington probably “shags like a minx” to her face) should not even be writing for the press.

You mean you can’t keep a poker face when your interviewee starts to give you hell or slams the door in your face? Or that you can’t keep an embargo?

In fact, I don’t even think journos should be posting stuff like when they’re stuck in some wartorn country and giving a blow-by-blow account online. Common (and market) sense tells you that you’re better off making your editor a happy lark with press exclusives than giving it away free to people who won’t remember your name next week. Yes, most rookie reporters are so enamoured with their new national byline, they have little idea that few people bother to scan every story for the famous author.

Ask me for a famous journo’s name off the top of my head and I can only name Roger Ebert ( And he covers stuff like Harry Potter. But don’t mess, he won a Pulitzer ok? And he writes better than 99% of people out there. I wonder who’s his copy editor….

Of course, the problem with a blog is that it IS internal monologue. I suspect this is what confuses many bloggers. They are equating internal monologues with free speech, which somehow equates to the “new age of journalism”.

Free speech is what I say to myself when I’m on the potty, anything else incurs a cost.

For eg. Never tell your wife you think Lin Chi-Ling is hot. Cost: “I’ll box you!”

Oh well, back to my photography and usual grouses on the general vague stuff.


There is this over-reliance on analysts to provide choice quotes in many news stories. I was miffed when I read today’s BBC online story that Coke was pulling Vanilla Coke out of the UK market. Coke didn’t say exactly why in the story, but here’s what the reporter wrote:

Analysts say the firm is trying to lure those turned off sugary soft drinks and looking for diet or health beverages.

“This means that Vanilla Coke has been doing badly and it is not working and not having the visibility that there is a decent chance that it will work longer term,” said Manny Goldman, a San Francisco-based beverage industry consultant.

The quote is obviously put there to represent what Coke wouldn’t say outright, but seriously, can the analyst have something more interesting to spout than the blatantly obvious?

What if I were an “industry analyst”?

Said Mr YH Tan, Singapore-based beverage taster with 29 years of saccharine experience : “Vanilla Coke is the bomb. It’s sweet, it’s sugary and it will kill your exercise regime with two sips. I love it, but I can understand why Coke wants to pull it out of a European market where people want more healthy drinks than your Pink Bandung-guzzling Asians. Over here, we don’t worry about getting fat because we work too hard to be drinking Coke all day long and then complaining about it.

“They’d better not pull Vanilla Coke out of Singapore or I’ll quit drinking Coke altogether. Or worse, I’ll drink Pepsi Twist which sometimes comes in a slightly larger value-added can.”

Generational Gap

“I worry that further withdrawal of the body will increasingly depersonalize creativity in our computerized age. It is already a given that many young architects can’t draw, relying on circuitry to do their imaging for them. Nor can many of them model, never having built things with their hands as children, and felt the pliancy and fragility of structures, the interrelationship of empty space and solid mass.” – Edmund Morris, Beethoven’s Paper Trail

Read article here (Word format)

A well written article that I came across in the Straits Times today. Unfortunately, ST cut down the article a bit due to space constraints and the story looked a little skewed as a result.

Much as I like the article, I disagree with Morris on the depersonalisation of creativity. One may come across more kids with little experience of the tactile (or anything traditional), but this just makes it easier for those who had done so to shine ever more in the mass of mediocrity.

History has consistently shown the majority of men are “average” – nothing more, nothing less. Most people will not bother to do more than the minimum in anything that they do, unless they seek a greater pleasure or power.

There is this tendency by the old fogeys to look upon the digitalisation of human beings as a dumbing down or making us plain lazy. This is nothing more than the generation gap, where parents are always aghast at the crap their children are consuming. One day Isaac will laugh at my MP3 collection too.