0168 – The Patient Saboteur + Questions for Singapore

These words were largely written on 6 January 2014.

Just scanned a bunch of books via goodreads and deleted a bunch of drafts from my blog, which have been cluttering up my blogspace (think of it as desk clutter- too many papers everywhere, to the point where I no longer know what is what). This in turn clutters up my headspace, which is horrible if you need to do any sort of creative work. So I’ve been trying to declutter and eliminate.


I’ve known for a long time that decluttering is important; what’s interesting is how I sometimes get large chunks of it done, and sometimes I get stuck for extended periods of time. I guess this happens in a lot of other pursuits, too: writing, fitness, music, etc. The holy grail in all cases is to take baby steps everyday and make it a part of one’s lifestyle. Systemic rather than band aid solutions. Easy to say, of course.

Environment is #1

I think the most important thing is environment. The biggest leaps I made in recent times- beating my cigarette addiction, my Facebook addiction, and developing a work ethic- were all largely a consequence of me leaving my old circumstances and hanging out with a new group of people. Very little of it had anything to do with me. I can’t claim credit. If my boss started smoking and wasting time on Facebook tomorrow, I can guarantee you that I would be right next to him doing the same thing. So it’s not like I’ve transcended peer pressure. I’ve just been blessed with a different environment, different peers, and I’ve been absorbing that instead. I’m still a significantly porous individual.

So the question is, how do I engineer my environment further in a way that gets me to do even more of what I want? Leaving my guitar in the living room makes me play it more. I’ve felt myself being a little more accountable and even more productive now that my team and I use Asana at work. It’s just a little harder to avoid.

The Patient Saboteur

I once said that one of my childhood insights was that I could always outlast anybody who’s supposed to police me- parents, teachers, etc- everybody is ultimately fallible, and everybody has their own life to worry about. This was great was when my goal was to avoid being policed by people whom I felt were “bad” for me, people who didn’t get it. But this wasn’t a very nuanced strategy, and it backfires on me because I developed a very physical, preconscious internalized response to all deliberate, overt direction, even good ones. I’m bad at following instructions, even when I realise that they’re “good” or otherwise sensible instructions, and that I ought to follow them.

Interestingly, this only applies to deliberate, overt direction. I’m phenomenal at following my subconscious appetites- lazing around, wasting time online. Picking up a book can be hard, but if I get into it, it’s hard to tear myself away. It becomes a non-negotiable internal drive.


How do I generate content, write blogposts? 
It’s a pretty big, broad question to which I don’t have precise answers to. This particular post is being written partially because I’ve always been kinda intending to, but primarily because my colleagues and I decided to explicitly describe our processes.

I suppose I should start from the beginning. The earliest stuff I wrote… I simply aggregated jokes, links and pictures and tried to curate them in a tasteful way for anybody who might drop by my website. It was intended for people I’d personally give the URL to. So it was a vanity project.

Later I started blogging, I think at least in part because my classmates were doing it. We’d all link to one another and read each others’ blogs, kind of like Facebook status updates are today. It was very “this is how my day went”. Once in a while there’d be an angry rant about something…

So as a general rule I’d write about whatever pleased me. I’d describe my personal life, maybe comment on current affairs and on things that bothered me about school, or the music scene that I used to participate in. I posted essays from school that I was proud of (discuss the influence of celebrities on teenagers), and when I discovered a sg_ljers community on livejournal,  I wrote a passionate post about how we forgot how to be gracious and kind in the pursuit of economic development. I got some nice responses there, I think, and it may have inspired me to write more social commentary.

I’d bitch about the media and the government and I’d get a lot of attention for that. I’d also write lots of cringe-worthy how-to guides, cheesy things like how life ought to be lived, how there are life lessons in poker (I such at poker). I wrote about Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert. I did gig reviews and album reviews. I liked the idea of being a blogger and I suppose I was imitating other bloggers I had seen. I wanted to explore grand ideas- if I could describe and promote heroism, I would be a hero too, somehow.

What is my best work? I’m not too sure. I feel like most of my work (if not all of it) is crap. A lot of the stuff with the most hits is populist pandering. I think I need to kinda “archive” that stuff. I think my analysis of mean girls, in its tentative, draft – like state is still more valuable than some of the ignorant stuff I’ve written about Singapore politics.

What is ecommerce? What is marketing? My head is way too messy. I need to get rid of Facebook, Reddit etc and focus on answering questions. I think that’s what blogging should really be about. The exploration of interesting questions.

  1. How much does container shipping really affect Singapore?
  2. Why doesn’t the PAP have better marketing/PR?
  3. How does Singapore’ s government work, exactly?
  4. How do we get more overseas people to vote in 2016?
  5. What can intelligent everyday Singaporeans do to make Singapore a better place?
  6. How can we encourage better conversations?
  7. How can we direct more attention, energy and resources to the social enterprises that matter?
  8. How do we improve our education system?
  9. What are the threats to Singapore’s sovereignty, national security that Singaporeans need to be worried about?
  10. How will Singapore cope with driverless cars, electric cars, 3d printers?
  11. Is it possible to get people to spend less money on 4d/toto?
  12. Why are we taking so long to implement designated smoking areas? (We have designated red light districts.)
  13. How do we encourage more people to blog, thoughtfully?
  14. are the most promising Singaporean companies, startups, enterprises?
  15. Why do we not yet have a catalogue of Singaporean art, books, novels,  music?
  16. Why don’t Singaporean musicians do covers of the music of their predecessors?
  17. Why are so many Singaporeans so financially illiterate?
  18. Can we incorporate this into our broader culture?
  19. How can we accelerate LGBTQ acceptance in Singapore?
  20. How can we help our young men get more out of their NS experience?
  21. What can we do to make the SG dating scene less bad?

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