Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space

When we conquer our fears we see a beauty that would otherwise not have happened.

Nude photography

I like nudes. I make no excuses for not liking them. The human body is beautiful.

I also think the people who object to such photography are bores, probably pedophiles, and hypocrites.

From MonsterChildren - Jennifer Stenglein

Cheerleaders are paid $125 per performance and $9 an hour????

"The cheerleaders were paid $125 a game, with no additional compensation. However, as of this season cheerleaders are paid $9 an hour, California's minimum wage, for all hours they work." 

Good grief - how come they are paid so low??? Time, youth, and beauty is fleeting. You cannot pay enough money to retain them - you can certainly hire them though. You can hire the time of accountants, politicians, consultants, even preachers. I'm not sure why there is such a stigma over hiring the time of a pretty woman (or two).


My whale swim video is up.

"Go" Heat run whale swim from Yauming Chiam on Vimeo.

One of my whale swim videos is up for viewing. It was taken last week - I used my GoPro3 Black+. video camera. No strobes. No flash. No filters. The only I used apart from the camera and the waterproof housing was a cheap plastic stick handle to mount it on.

Kiko, the fisherman's son, and Mark, a trained whale swimmer guide took us out in a long boat. We cruised around til we spotted the whale spray. The boatman followed the whales for awhile to make certain their intentions (of not breaching)  and then Mark got us into the water to swim with them.

This is one of the moments.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life live. Live it gloriously

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” — Faye Travers (The Painted Drum, Louise Erdrich)

I used to read a lot of books. There's not much to do on the boat so I'm getting a chance to read again. Its a good habit. Your get to learn things. lol. My brain is totally unmotivated at the moment - like a kite on a windless day.

But click on the link - and add them to your must-read collection.

One thing I want to add to that comment is - Life will break you eventually. Eventually we will all die. No one gets the chance to live forever. But some people go through life thinking that they will live forever. They work to no end. Our youth is also precious. We have to live now or we will never.

Live life. Live it gloriously.

Daniel Dennett - how to criticize without sounding like an arsehole

How to compose a successful critical commentary:
  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
If only the same code of conduct could be applied to critical commentary online, particularly to the indelible inferno of comments.
But rather than a naively utopian, Pollyannaish approach to debate, Dennett points out this is actually a sound psychological strategy that accomplishes one key thing: It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion.

Feeling very Life Aquatic now

Awesome fan art posters of my fav scuba movie - "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"

Yeah, the expedition feels like the movie now - we even had one crew last year eaten by a shark... just a nibble only... she's ok now.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Buying Gold Medals

There was once a father who had a son. There was a sporting event at his son's school. The father who was a smart man realized that his son would probably not win. Besides it detracted from the more important goals of studying for exams. The father still wanted a gold medal. So the father took some money from his son's college fund which his son had been working for - and hired someone to impersonate his son at the Sports event. That person won. The father gave the person some money and took the medal home. The father now had a gold medal to proudly hang in the dining room.

That parable just about sums up my opinion of the decision by the govt to stack the sporting teams with talented foreign born players.

True - other nations - including Australia also give citizenships to talented foreign born sports people as well. But Singapore goes over the top with this tactic of minting fresh citizens for the purpose of winning sports medals more so than other nations.

Seriously what the fuck is the point?

Its about the same as making a bunch of Germans, Russians, Maoris, and Africans into citizens so Singapore can field a winning soccer team, ice-hockey team, rugby, or basketball team at the next international games. Imagine it. The extend of their citizenship only goes so far as holding a pink IC.

Here's a question for you - What really makes a Singapore citizen Singaporean?

Instead of doing that cynical approach to sports - I think its much better to spend the nation's money on its own locally born citizens. Here are some examples:

1. Spend the money on training our sports teachers. Its highly important that our sports and physical education teachers are knowledgeable about the whole dynamics of muscle growth and training. Think of the amount of good it would do to the nation if the sports teachers were highly skilled and knowledgeable - they could teach entire generations of citizens to be more aware and conscious of their health and physical training.

Money that goes into this field also goes into creating our own Sports Industry.

2. Raise up our own sports people. Some grumpy cynic might complain, "What for - they won't win" But Singapore spends billions of dollars on its armed forces and military. I'm not saying its wasted money (sidetopic: consider how much Hong Kong govt spends on its own military.) But if Singapore is prepared to spend so much money on its own armed forces - why not devote some money towards training and sponsoring its own locally born sports people?? Each dollar spent on a Singapore born sports person also goes to his Singapore family, his parents, his children and would quite likely encourage a Singaporean child to do the same rather than swotting for the exam in an air-con room. Some of them might even win. This is Nation-building stuff.

If you disagree with this - you might want to consider the sheer amount of man hours spent by each Singaporean male and the contributions made by his family in NS (not to mention the number of Singaporeans killed or maimed in the line of duty). NS conscripts are being paid fuck all. And what for? Don't talk about duty when you are being paid a highly exorbitant (public) salary.

We pay taxes. We stay law abiding citizens.... Wait... What for?

You might as well hire Gukhas to defend our nation... Hmmmm.... oh wait a minute.... :D

I don't mind if the (minted fresh citizens) foreign born players stay in Singapore and contribute to the culture of Singapore - but if they go back home after they won the medal and got their prize money and whatever monetary reward they were promised by the Gahmun - what's the point? Basically you hired some foreigner to win the medal for you.

It would be cheaper just to go to a shop in Chinatown and make a copy of the gold medal and put a photoshoped face next to it.

But if you are running the country like a business corporation than it does make more economic sense to purchase foreign sports talent. Cheap, efficient, sure-fire success. Using that sort of brutal logic and you will ignore the welfare of old aged citizens who can't work anymore and withhold their CPF pensions... your citizens not producing enough kids - no problem just increase the migration intake - whatever... you want cheaper workers - you want oprofits - you don't want to pay your citizens a living wage? you don't want to open another university? you don't want to spend more money on national education? NO problem - hire foreigners  - any kind of economic rational idea to promote the interests of the rich and powerful- no matter how cruel, souless is worth contemplating.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


I'm staying at Alibaba Backpacker Lodge (a sizable house in Nuku'alofa owned by a former Iranian refugee)* - by coincidence members of a whale watching expedition were here too. Marine biologists by training - all very nice people. I could see that our Captain would be delighted to meet them and I brought it up with him. They came over for dinner - all 9 of them including their Aussie boat crew that they had chartered. Wow, I don't think our little ship could handle that many people on board. It was a really great time for all. An Aussie sausage sizzle.

I confess however I felt a bit claustrophobic being in such a small space with so many people. I got tongue tied and couldn't think of anything interesting to say.

But here's the strange part - one of the crew was talking to them about what we may find, the problems associated with our mission - stuff I'm pretty sure I told them the same thing earlier at the guest house. And he held their attention like a teacher in a primary school room.

Sometimes I think force of personality, charisma, gift of the gab plays a big part in any social gathering. I'm not sure why but I've keep on wanting to fade in the background. Yet I feel a slightly intense desire to participate to talk - at the same time I feel shy and uncomfortable in speaking.

I do talk but I notice they don't seem to listen. Could it be my accent or style of talking?

Its late... gotta go to sleep. The whale researchers are going to be spending a week there - and I'm hoping to catch at least one trip out with them. But despite the initial friendly banter at the start - I sense a certain distance from them now. I feel like a bee thats gone to the wrong hive. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that I like eating at a Tongan restaurant that served turtle meat. Maybe they think that all Chinese people are the same.

I don't know. Sometimes I'm quite clueless about group dynamics. Subtle clues, gestures, words, phrases, mannerisms and suddenly I've accidentally mixed sulfuric and concentrated nitric acid


You should see the awful look in my face when that happens.

But you've got to try and not withdraw. Learn from each experience and push on. Learn more. Think more. And try and always radiate a happy positive countenance.

* The Iranian refugee who could pass off as the Shah of Iran - ran away from Iran during the Iraq-Iran War when he was 15 years old.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Cruel memories

I'll begin this post with an image I have in my mind - of a neighbor who accidentally got the wrong letter in his mail box. It was a beautiful postcard - gorgeous handwriting - a bevy of pretty stamps. He looked at it for a second - in a flicker of a nano second - he knew it was for his neighbor upstairs. A love message full of radiant hope. But like an error message flowing thru this rigid mindset and getting rejected - he tore the postcard up.

Its not mine. That's all he thought. Not mine. A cruel, indifference - like a disease that grew as a child in his brain and heart and festered and blossomed bearing cruel acts such as these - big and small. Every week he would attend church with his family. Sing Christian songs of love and profess for all to see what a wonderful Christian man he was.

The above may or may not have happened. Just a story that has crept into my mind today.

What I find unfathomable is when people who are suppose to love you behave abominably cruel, even brutal. My mother and father - God fearing Christians - never miss a Sunday service ... my salient memories of them like photos on a wall are marked with the ones where they beat me, said cruel things to me, treated me like shit unnecessarily so. I can be kind to you but I won't - why should I? I forgive them but I can't forget them.

A random thought went through my head - a story my sister reminded me of. When were were children our family had to cross an overhead bridge to go to a hawker food centre. My father was working as an engineer for a top company. We were very affluent. And there was a man sitting on the overhead bridge - he had been involved in some terrible accident. He was blind and he was missing his limbs. We walked over him like he was a piece of shit. Isn't that cruel? Awful even? It wouldn't have cost my dad anything to have given him something for his next meal - but he didn't. He hated beggars.

There is this void, this gulf between us - my father is long dead - but my mother is still alive. I talk to her now and its like talking to a stranger. She hates the things I usually like. I try and find some common ground though and that brings me some joy - but she never looks me in the eye when she compliments something I've done well or bought.

I think she's suffering from some mental disease - probably bi-polar which explains her mood swings. But there is no excuse for her pedantic behavior.

What irritates me is when people I consider my friends laugh about it - and say she's being eccentric in a condescending tone. A rage builds up inside me and I feel like yelling out, "NO SHE'S FUCKING NOT! SHE'S FUCKING INSANE. CAN'T YOU FUCKING SEE THAT!!!!!?????"

I don't like getting angry. Like a incoming tide in a polluted sea- it brings in trash onto the beach.

I try and shrug it off - I don't know how to deal with her. I've got more luck bringing down Jesus from Heaven than trying to take her to see a psychiatrist or mental health counselor.

There were signs of her mental disorder when we were children and I blame my father for not doing more to address it - but smart as he was - he was probably blind to such matters.

I think about my grandfather and father who both made incredible fortunes and largely didn't enjoy them - squandered away much later by insane relatives - or maybe they did - if it is possible to love money for the sake of it - those two Christian stalwarts would be dead guilty.

I smile though - what's the point? This sort of wealth is no better than those childish internet games.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Back at port

We're back in port. The weather in Nomoku has worsen. A fishing boat disappeared two days ago in rough seas - suspected capsized. I hope they are found safe sheltering in some remote island.

I'm going to stay at a backpacker's for a few days. Get my own room, chill out... and also to just get away from my crew mates.

Fact is - we haven't commenced work - the mag broke down - the weather is shit - and I'm not enjoying boat life very much when one of the crew keeps on picking at me.

Today when we got into port - I got a drink for the captain - placed my drink on the table and was just about to starting chatting with him when the crew member gave me this look and complained I was occupying too many places on the boat. FFS - its just one drink on a table that can fit four people - wtf is her problem???

Get this - she was sitting on the bridge table which can fit 4 people - there was no one else there except for her - and my drink placed on the opposite end. Rather than politely asking me to move my drink so she can sit on that end of the table - she rudely told me off.

I felt like asking her - "So how big is your arse? Is it so big you need the whole fucking table?"

But really that sort of talk just goes down and makes things worse - next thing you know its going to be WW2.

Anyway - fuck all that. I'm going to sit in my room and finish reading "Never Let me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro .

Friday, August 01, 2014

Prostitution and corruption in Singapore

Personally I have no objections to what people do in their own time so long as they aren't getting hurt or hurting someone else. That's why I don't see a problem with women selling their bodies - its afterall a service like masseurs, cooks, in fact anyone who offers a service... I scratch your back, you pay for my time and effort.*

What I do find objectionable is when people get exploited - like this Singaporean policeman exploiting Thai women and tricking them to work obscene hours and conditions for him. How can that fucker smile like that?

What I do find strange is how pimps can somehow manipulate women to work for them willingly - somehow the girls even fall in love with the pimp - their exploiter. That is indeed mystifying to me how a pimp can command the respect, loyalty and devotion of the women he is exploiting. Maybe its the same way an Army General can do the same with his soldiers - ordering them to fight and die for him willingly. Or for that matter Labor politicians... I hope these people - pimps, generals, politicians spend eternity in horrible agony reaping the karma they have sown.

I want to live in a world where people do not get exploited. People do not get cheated. And wealth is not concentrated in the hands of a few. But this is the state that the world is in now.

Maybe I don't understand human emotions. I find myself being generous with my friends and relatives- and strangely I find that the more I give - casually even - the more some people take me for granted. It really is peculiar. Maybe there is a flaw in my nature - or some unseen sign that I have at my back - painted in neon colors "SUCKER".

We watched a film yesterday called "The Ides of March" - which alludes to the murder of Julius Caesar and Roman conspiracies. It offers a pretty fucked up view of US politics. I'm finding it sad as I grow up that sometimes one has to be cruel, unkind deliberately so to manipulate people to like you. But do I want to be such a person? No.

*Talking about time and effort - can someone explain to me how come the bankers and lawyers responsible for the subprime disaster that resulted in the lost of billions of dollars to ordinary people - are still being paid extraordinary sums of money?

Son Of Rogues Gallery - "Asshole Rules The Navy"

Any song that combines Capt'n Kidd and bum has to be hilarious. True enuf.