Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Truth about Life and Earth Hour

The simple truth about life is no pain, no gain.

If you really want to help the earth, earth doesn't need one hour. It doesn't need one day. It needs decades of sacrifice to undo the decades of damage we've already done to it.

So stop being a hypocrite. If you really want to help, learn to live without that air conditioner. Start walking to the shop instead of driving. Stop changing your handphone so often. Stop buying the latest gadgets just because you happen to have a passing fancy.

The ruination of this earth is grounded in one simple problem, human greed and a selfish desire for convenience at any cost. As long as we continue to buy voraciously the products of this system and demand an artificially sustained standard of living, we feed the materialistic system that devours the resources existing and damages the environment.

In the end, it's simple. Saving this earth is not going to be convenient. Are you willing to take the pain to get the gain of a clean future? That is a question that cannot be answered in one hour. Think about it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Being on edge...

Lack of sleep makes me edgy... gives me the feeling of a sharp blade being struck on a stone... or the need for a shot of raw burning tequila.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Hello, my name is Jon and I have a problem. I'm a Sarah Brightman addict. It all started 1 month ago, when I got a new pair of speakers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It wouldn't take a genius to realise that I have always thought and still do think that President Obama is overhyped. In recent days, it seems that I'm not alone in wondering what exactly he's bringing to the table. Following this is an excellent piece by Paul Krugman on the new President and the American economy. Taken from the New York Times, Jan 22nd 2009.

Stuck in the Muddle

Like anyone who pays attention to business and financial news, I am in a state of high economic anxiety. Like everyone of good will, I hoped that President Obama’s Inaugural Address would offer some reassurance, that it would suggest thatthe new administration has this thing covered.

But it was not to be. I ended Tuesday less confident about the direction of economic policy than I was in the morning.

Just to be clear, there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with the address — although for those still hoping that Mr. Obama will lead the way to universal health care, it was disappointing that he spoke only of health care’s excessive cost, never once mentioning the plight of the uninsured and underinsured.

Also, one wishes that the speechwriters had come up with something more inspiring than a call for an “era of responsibility” — which, not to put too fine a point on it, was the same thing former President George W. Bush called for eight years ago.

But my real problem with the speech, on matters economic, was its conventionality. In response to an unprecedented economic crisis — or, more accurately, a crisis whose only real precedent is the Great Depression — Mr. Obama did what people in Washington do when they want to sound serious: he spoke, more or less in the abstract, of the need to make hard choices and stand up to special interests.

That’s not enough. In fact, it’s not even right.

Thus, in his speech Mr. Obama attributed the economic crisis in part to “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age” — but I have no idea what he meant. This is, first and foremost, a crisis brought on by a runaway financial industry. And if we failed to rein in that industry, it wasn’t because Americans “collectively” refused to make hard choices; the American public had no idea what was going on, and the people who did know what was going on mostly thought deregulation was a great idea.

Or consider this statement from Mr. Obama: “Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.”

The first part of this passage was almost surely intended as a paraphrase of words that John Maynard Keynes wrote as the world was plunging into the Great Depression — and it was a great relief, after decades of knee-jerk denunciations of government, to hear a new president giving a shout-out to Keynes. “The resources of nature and men’s devices,” Keynes wrote, “are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. We are as capable as before of affording for everyone a high standard of life. ... But today we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand.”

But something was lost in translation. Mr. Obama and Keynes both assert that we’re failing to make use of our economic capacity. But Keynes’s insight — that we’re in a “muddle” that needs to be fixed — somehow was replaced with standard we’re-all-at-fault, let’s-get-tough-on-ourselves boilerplate.

Remember, Herbert Hoover didn’t have a problem making unpleasant decisions: he had the courage and toughness to slash spending and raise taxes in the face of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, that just made things worse.

Still, a speech is just a speech. The members of Mr. Obama’s economic team certainly understand the extraordinary nature of the mess we’re in. So the tone of Tuesday’s address may signify nothing about the Obama administration’s future policy.

On the other hand, Mr. Obama is, as his predecessor put it, the decider. And he’s going to have to make some big decisions very soon. In particular, he’s going to have to decide how bold to be in his moves to sustain the financial system, where the outlook has deteriorated so drastically that a surprising number of economists, not all of them especially liberal, now argue that resolving the crisis will require the temporary nationalization of some major banks.

So is Mr. Obama ready for that? Or were the platitudes in his Inaugural Address a sign that he’ll wait for the conventional wisdom to catch up with events? If so, his administration will find itself dangerously behind the curve.

And that’s not a place that we want the new team to be. The economic crisis grows worse, and harder to resolve, with each passing week. If we don’t get drastic action soon, we may find ourselves stuck in the muddle for a very long time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2009 and beyond...

It's always audacious to try and predict the future, especially if you're not God.

Being me and sticking my head where it doesn't quite belong however, this is what I now (2009) think will happen in the next 10 years :
  1. America will retain it's economic dominance. The American military will continue to be the most dominant military force in the world. America will stop "nation-building" in Afghanistan, reducing it's forces to merely what is necessary for maintaining a central Asian beachhead.
  2. Rapid ageing in the "old Europe" states will constrain the ability of the EU to emerge as a capable counter force to American economic power. Anti-immigration sentiment will continue to be a factor limiting the influx of brain power needed to capitalise on the emerging world order. Traditional european acceptance of large government will result in legislative roadblocks which will limit the ability of sectors within the EU to innovate.
  3. Multi-polar, supra-national organisations will continue to polarise. The nation state will continue to remain the ultimate political unit.
  4. Economic unions will emerge, engines of growth will likely emerge from Central Asia and North America.
  5. China will undergo a period of instability followed by a period of insularity with a moderate to rapid cooling of growth. Tensions between the coastal regions and the inland regions will become a threat to Chinese unity. China will not achieve a blue sea navy capable of significant force projection. The PLA will continue to be used primarily for internal pacification.
  6. Russia will likely undergo another round of blood letting as it moves towards a sustainable economy. This evolution will continued to be paid for with petro dollars as the price of energy rebounds to it's actual cost and continues to climb. The Russian governement will succeed in establishling an adequate buffer zone around western Russia.
  7. Japan will suffer a political implosion. In the background, the Japanese armed forces will slowly take on a more aggressive role in assuring Japanese interests on foreign shores. Japanese resistance to immigration will have a significant impact on the ability of indigenous Japanese firms to innovate. Japanese firms will continue to move beyond Japan's shores to create new centers of innovation and tap new talent.
  8. India will succeed in consolidating it's economic position. Pakistan and the interwoven problem of Kashmir will continue, however, it's impact on actual Indian policy will continue to diminish. India will have a great need for infrastructure development creating an opportunity for international firms to increase involvement.
  9. Global instability will continue with the number of low intensity conflicts staying relatively constant. No significant big power confrontations of a militaristic nature will emerge between the currently existing regional powers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Post of 2009

It's human to realise inadequacy only when it's shoved in your face. Damn you, Edith Piaf. You just demand Aegos...

Poor T20s. Not yet a month old and your owner has already grown sharper ears.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Virginia Reel

So anyway, my aunt calls me at 1pm on a saturday afternoon.

Aunt : "Jon, I need music for the Virginia Reel. I'm not very good at finding these kind of things on the Internet."

Me : "What's the name of the song that you want me to find?*"

Aunt : "It's just called the Virginia Reel la.. That's the name of the song."

* The virginia reel is a dance, not a song in itself.

How do you tell your aunt that people who upload stuff to the internet generally just don't listen to this kind of music?

Anyhow, the story has a happy ending... 2 hours of searching through porn and malware and goodness finally yielded... John Hartford - Old Virginia Reel. Bless his soul, whoever it was that uploaded it.