Listening to: Miss Otis Regrets – Bryan Ferry – As Time Goes By Posted by Hello
OK, mid-work-day post, in case I forget:This biopic I must catch. Someone mentioned it once, about how it glosses over the seedier bits of Cole Porter’s life. Fuck that. It’s got Cole Porter’s songs, and a calvacade of cameos by Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Robbie Williams, Natalie Cole et cetera. Fun!

National (Service) Identity

Listening to: Sorrow – David Bowie – The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974

I was reading someone’s blog entry about how Singapore was totally devoid of any history or culture or national identity worth talking about, when I felt awash with indignation. The government had to invent national symbols, she wrote! Ignoramus! The lion city wasn’t named for nothing. The lion came out of the jungle and scared the crap out of the visiting prince. Our citizens still do. Only we take your crap and recycle it, then open a visitors’ centre dedicated to showing you how we scare the crap out of you, recycle your crap, and make a show of it, and ask if you’d like a drink of the stuff. I shit you not.

Common adversity is often the glue that bonds societies. Be forced to drink crap together and be a Nation. How else can you get 4 million folk from diverse ethnic backgrounds* to forge common traits?

I’m writing the following with a straight-face. I like the subject matter so much it is embarrassing. Yes, National Service. Every Singaporean male loves it but only a handful admits to it. Every Singaporean female hates it when her boyfriend bumps into a ‘camp-mate’ and begins an hour long catch up session, mostly reminiscing about what Sergeant Tan did when Corporal Lim shat his pants in the Armoured Personnel Carrier. Darling, an Armoured Personnel Carrier is like a tank, but it carries troopers like us who storm out of the Armoured Personnel Carrier all guns blazing, to fight the enemy. Isn’t that right, {insert army nickname of campmate} ?

While we’ll forever dispute the actual purpose of National Service in terms of national security, the one thing that’s turned out useful and dare I say, good, is the generation of men, after 36 years of compulsory conscription, who are truly homogenously Singaporean. Run out of things to say when you meet another guy? Ask what reservist unit he’s from. Excused from reservist? Which full time NS unit he served in. Excused NS? Say, ‘Whaddafuck? You lucky bastard”, and continue to talk about your own army experiences.

Yes, I am glad for National Service. There, I’ve said it. Off my chest.

*75% Chinese, 20% void-deck dwellers, 3% Serangoon Road jaywalkers, 2% overpaid arrogant Caucasians who steal 70% of our women.

In moderation

Listening to: Baseball Theme – Vince Guaraldi Trio – Jazz Impressions Of A Boy Named Charlie Brown

I still like my drink. Even if I can no longer drink all night without feeling crook. I felt crook all weekend after Friday night, when me and my mates attended Fly’s 5th anniversary nonsense party at Centro. Being an ex-employee almost guarantees an invite, but we might have pushed things too far for next year’s because we found a booklet of drink vouchers and used it. I haven’t been so drunk since I can’t remember.

That’s about all I care to say about the party. Or Fly.

Mel and a high-on-the-happy-side-Ben Except that my brother’s a photographer, and sponsored the party with his instant digital photo booth thingie

Geneva and other conventions

Listening to: O Mio Babbino Caro – Renée Fleming – Voices

The first of the accuseds in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was sentenced at a special court martial to 1 year’s imprisonment, reduction in rank, and discharge. I won’t say how ridiculously light the sentence is, regardless of whether the bastard has agreed to ‘co-operate with investigators’, except to say, 365 days in a military detention barracks is pretty tame compared with 365 days’ tour of duty in Iraq, what with the long-running Iraqi Festival of the Roadside Bomb and fringe ambushes.

According to the report, the accused knew what had happened at Abu Ghraib contravened the articles of the Geneva Convention, which made him even more culpable under the rules of the courts martial, I’d assume.

Here in Singapore, in the Singapore Armed Forces, we were recently educated during in-camp training, in between combat training revisions, on the articles of the laws of war in a series of long, sleep-inducing lectures, which were livened up by the screening of British made military education videos which resembled Monty Python more than anything. It was funny how the ‘enemy combatants’ in the videos were dressed like WW2 German soldiers. I don’t remember much else about the lectures, except for giggling at the lecturer, a young lieutenant, who read from the lecture notes verbatim, mangling words as ‘subterfuge’ into ‘subtle-fudge’, and perfidy into ‘pufeedee’.

Point is, you don’t need to pass a test based on the lectures given to know that what the buggers did at Abu Ghraib was absolutely wrong. It is no excuse whether the soldier involved was from a reserve unit, or whether he had been taught the rules of engagement and of dealing with civilians in the theatre.

Alright, I can’t resist putting the sentence into perspective: A reservist from my unit was sentenced to 10 days detention barracks because he went for a canteen break during a turn-out. They rejected his mitigation that the canteen auntie took too long to make his coffee.