Tomorrow is the start of my third year in NTU. Looking back, I can’t remember anything useful that I learnt. In fact, I’m fairly certain I will forget all the course modules in their entirety by this time next year.

Each time I take a new module, it’s like opening up a new room in my mind, and stuffing it with all kinds of things. Each time the exams roll around, I arrange all the items neatly in the room for easy extraction. And each time the exams are over, I will close the room and lock the door, never to open it again.

A black hole. There’s one in each of our brains.

There are only two things memorable for the entire year, and none of them have to do with course curriculum.


I still like this letter a lot. It’s funny, it’s a story I can tell to others, and it’s something that will make me smile even after so long.

My letter was published and stirred up a mini shitstorm online, garnering hundreds of comments, mostly negative. Some viewed it as a failure. I saw it as an accomplishment. I had an audience, and the more worked up the people were, the more amusing it was. And the people who got it did laugh, which was all that matters.

All we want is a little attention.

True, I was hated, but I don’t mind being hated. In fact, I take perverse pleasure in being hated. Only when you are being hated that you know you are doing something right.

Giving up

It’s getting difficult to breathe.

There’s a major project due on Wednesday. Exams would start on Friday. And then for the following six days there would be four more exams. Things were getting a little too exciting.

Everything was entirely my fault. After all, the exams dates were known to all right from the beginning. You pick your own course based on the lesson timetable and the scheduled exams. And if you choose to squeeze everything together, nobody’s stopping you.

At that time, I didn’t care about the exam dates. I only looked at the lesson schedules and took the ones which were convenient to me. So what if exam dates were all squashed together? I reasoned. That’s a problem for Future Me to worry about. Present Me doesn’t have to worry about this.

In the blink of an eye, Future Me had become Present Me. I had to juggle everything at once. I had to prioritize. I had to manage my time well.

I can feel the time ticking away.

It was tough going through that, but the key takeaway from all these is that in the process, I think I grew up a little. I learned not to worry too much, and was able to handle stress better.

Just do your best at any given time, and let the Universe take care of things. Give up and surrender. It will save you much grief, much stress, and enable you to live a happier, stress-free life.

I think it worked. Everything worked out well in the end. So the lesson here is simply not to worry so much. It’s rarely worth it.

Another lesson is to simply get excellent project mates.


You might find all this stupid. And it’s perfectly alright to feel that way. Why would you want to be hated? Why would you deliberately bring unnecessary stress to yourself because of lousy planning?

For me, it’s solely for the experience. For the laughs that it will bring. For the stories that I can tell.

Sophomore—from the Greek sophos(wise)and moros(foolish).

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I Gave My Money WILLINGLY.

First of all, what I don’t understand is the vitriol and venom that’s coming from all the people who’ve never given a single cent to the church. Unlike other charities, the church has never once solicited funds from the public and all the money has come in from church members who believe in a cause and gave out of their own free will. Maybe you’re indignant that we’re dumb enough to be bamboozled into giving our money (which is hardly the case), but even if so, does it warrant this outcry from the angry mob?

Yes. Yes indeed. Why are people, who have never donated a single cent to the church, so angry with Pastor Kong Hee? The members donated the money WILLINGLY, for Pastor Kong Hee to do whatever he sees fit.  So technically, there’s no cause for concern, no legal issues at all, right?

Go read the article. It’s interesting and well-written.

And now, I have my own small confession to make. Something I should have posted a few months before, but was too timid to post.

Social Escorts, My Salvation

by Serendipity on JULY 2, 2012


By now, everyone seems to have an opinion (or a few) on social escorts, the Underaged Prostitute and the legion of sex-crazed clients. There are a lot of allegations flying around – the main ones being greed (for the Underaged Prostitute) and lust (for the clients).

Yesterday, I walked past the newsstands and this case made the front page for every local newspaper. Last checked, we’ve also made most of the International titles and social media looks like it’s about to explode from all the updates about the scandal.

That’s pretty epic.

I’m one of those sex-crazed clients, if you will.

I’ve been frequenting the vice ring for the past 15 years and this ring, the pimps, the escorts, they’ve changed my life. I know that sounds very cultish so let me try to break it down a little. We don’t worship Underaged Prostitute or any of the escorts and we have no illusions that they’re deities or saints or demigods. On some level, we’re all just a bunch of men who believe in a cause and are trying to control ourselves in our community. None of us are perfect but we are trying our best to be better and do better for the people around us.

On that same token, having seen all that the escorts and pimps have done for us over the past 15 years, it’s hard not to love and respect them the way we do. Clients of the escorts may seem fanatic and possibly a little crazy but if you’d just take the time to chat with them a little and hear their stories, you’d maybe understand why we’re this passionate.

There’s no way I’ll be able to summarize everything in a blog post but suffice to say that without this ring and its escorts, I wouldn’t be who or where I am today. They’ve been there for me at the lowest points of my life, shown me love and support without asking for anything in return and believed in me when no one else did. For that, I’ll always be grateful and that’s the reason why we sow our lives and time and money into making a difference in someone else’s life.

Come hell or high water, I’m proud to be a part of the clientele.

Now, moving on to the allegations.

First of all, what I don’t understand is the vitriol and venom that’s coming from all the people who’ve never given a single cent to “Underage Prostitute”. Unlike other countries, “Underage Prostitute” has never once solicited funds from the public and all the money has come in from clients who believe in a cause and gave out of their own free will. Maybe you’re indignant that we’re dumb enough to be bamboozled into giving our money (which is hardly the case), but even if so, does it warrant this outcry from the angry mob?

I mean, I don’t come into your family and lambaste you for how you’re spending your money. If you decide to build your kids a bowling alley in your basement, that’s your right. Or if you decide to splurge on a Breitling for your dad, or a Prada bag for your second grandaunt’s cousin’s daughter, that’s entirely up to you.

Initially, I got really upset at all the inflammatory attacks and veiled derogatory digs popping up on various social media platforms, but at this point, I’m fine taking the hits. I guess if it gives you a sense of moral and intellectual superiority to post your snide remarks and mean jokes, then it’s your prerogative, post away.

Call us sex-crazed, call us fools, call us whatever, that’s ok. Sticks and stones, you know.

That being said, I am incredibly encouraged by the show of solidarity and tenacity among the accused I consider my family. And don’t for one moment mistake this loyalty for blind faith. A lot of these so-called fools are some of the brightest minds I have ever met and we’ve done our due diligence by digesting all the facts and allegations. I’ve gone through the charge multiple times, read the news articles, and amassed as much information as I could from all sides.

Do I know every single detail? No. But I know enough to make an informed decision and here’s my take.

I have absolute trust in the fact that none of the money was used for underaged sex. I believe in the accused and there was certainly no intent to deceive, as had been alleged. The Escort has not breached the trust of the clients.

I make no apologies for giving every dollar that we gave and we will continue to do so knowing that the girl is of legal age.

Social escorts are my family. It has been for the last 15 years and I don’t think anything will ever change that.

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A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do

I was sleeping and when I opened my eyes, I saw two beautiful girls who had just boarded the bus.

They were dressed stylishly, which was pleasing to the eye. They were also dressed minimally, which was pleasing to a guy. Pretty and petite. Slim and sexy. Large black eyes. One with brown hair. The other with black. It didn’t matter. Both were attractive, and I loved both equally.

It must be my lucky day. The standing area in the bus was full, and they had to move to the back, which put them right before me. There was one empty seat beside me. And perhaps most importantly, there were no other empty seats on the bus.


They stopped next to the seat. There were two of them. There was only one empty seat.

They looked at the seat. They looked at each other. They looked at me.

I looked out the window.

There was silence for a while as the bus continued its journey. None of them made a move to sit. Both chose to stand. I felt a faint twinge of disappointment. Why wouldn’t they sit next to me?!!, I thought. I was depressed.

Girl A and Girl B continued to hover around the empty seat. Girl A shifted her weight from one leg to the other. She posed prettily. She threw a quick glance in my direction, to check if I’m listening. She said to Girl B, “there’s only one seat,” and glanced at me again. Girl B smiled and didn’t reply.

I continued staring out of the window.

Five minutes passed.

Sooooo tiring,” This time, it was Girl B who complained to Girl A. She said this in a louder voice. Loud enough so that I can definitely hear. She pouted prettily.

Then they waited.


I got it. I got the hint. They wanted my seat. They were tired. Their legs ached. And they needed to rest.

As a true gentleman, I have no choice in the matter now. These two lovely ladies have hinted, strongly, and I have to act. It was required of me. I must follow society’s conventions. Much as I dislike it, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.






And so, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

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How I Wonder What You Are

“How BORING!!” she declared with an air of finality.

I raised a quizzical eyebrow. We were talking about Astronomy. Personally, I didn’t find it boring.

Within my own head I’ve always had a rather big opinion about myself. I fill up the whole world. But in Astro, suddenly, I’m exposed to other worlds out there. It is an oddly disconcerting, albeit refreshing, experience. Behind my eyes I am a giant. Before my eyes I become a dust mote.

I had chosen the elective this sem based on the recommendations from my other friends. They didn’t find it boring either. We weren’t Physics students; we weren’t exactly enamored with the equations and figures and numbers. But to us, the subject itself was still quite acceptable. Perhaps a bit technical in the details, but big-picture wise, it’s interesting.


I asked around and found out that she wasn’t the only one. There were others who found Astronomy boring. I soon discerned a pattern.

It is mainly the girls that find Astronomy boring.

Why? Initially I find it uncanny, but well…the answers are pretty easy once I reflect on it. There are two main reasons; one empirical, one scientific.

First of all, astronomy requires lots of spatial awareness. Imagine yourself as one of the ancients. To map the location of the stars and the planets, all you have as information are the observations using the naked eye.

First you need to imagine patterns in the sky, so you can identify the same clusters of stars, night after night. Then you have to imagine how the Earth moves in relation to these stars, to determine why the positions change over time. Next you must imagine how other moving stars move, based on how the Earth is moving.

Only guys can fully appreciate the difficulties of the spatial awareness required. Only guys can understand the importance of spatial awareness in charting out the course for various objects. Only guys can recognize the genius behind the insights and perceptions that led to the current understanding of the universe. Girls simply cannot appreciate spatial awareness to the extent that we could, because unlike us, spatial awareness is not an important part of their everyday lives.


We deal with spatial awareness everyday.

Another reason, and perhaps much more valid, is this: Girls have small brains.

It’s scientifically proven. Science tells us that guys’ brains are bigger. Science tells us that guys’ brains are heavier. Science tells us that guys’ heads are bigger. Science is pointing a finger at the girls’ brains and frowning in displeasure.

This explains a lot.

Astronomy is a complex subject. It is a vast subject. It deals with the universe. It deals with infinity. Which is exactly why girls find astronomy boring.  Their minds simply can’t accept it. Their minds can’t fit in the enormity of the cosmos. Any attempt to fit the stars and suns into that tiny space is likely to burn a hole in their head. Only guys, with their bigger, more superior brains, have the capacity and mental fortitude to comtemplate the complexity of the cosmos.

Girls please don’t stare too long. I'm not liable if your heads explode.

So, to conclude, when girls find astronomy boring, it’s not their fault. It’s not that they are apathetic or indifferent or can’t be bothered.

It’s due to genetic differences. They are simply born inferior.


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Steve Jobs died.

It was only a few months ago that Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple. We all knew he was sick. We all knew that was the reason he stepped down. But none of us expected this – the swift, abrupt way he exited the world. He was gone. Just like that.

I’m not exactly an Apple fan. I’ve never had an iPad, iPhone, or iPod. But I admire Steve Jobs nonetheless.

The thing about Steve Jobs that left the biggest impression on me is not his products. To me, his products are merely by-products. It’s his life story, his ability to bounce back from failures, that impresses me.

In 1976, he founded Apple. In 1985, he was fired by the board, ousted from the very company that he founded. From the pinnacle of success he was pushed down into an abyss. Many of us would have languished at the bottom forever. But not him. He climbed back up. He was beaten down, but he did not stay down. In later years, he was to claim that being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him; “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

He went on to found Pixar, ending up with the hugely successful Toy Story. He returned to Apple as interim CEO in 1997, transformed the struggling company, and brought it to new highs.

He challenged monopolies. He revolutionized industries. He created products that millions of people around the world love. He was recognized as a genius, as well as a feared and respected competitor.


Jobs’ journey was not smooth sailing. He had failures, but failures cannot stop a person like him. In the long run, his success was more or less pre-ordained. Nothing can stop a person like him from achieving success.

I learnt in astronomy that supergiant stars have a short lifespan. Steve Jobs was such a supergiant. His life was short, but in that time, his brilliance and burning passion affected us all. He left the world, but also left behind a legacy. He changed the world for the better.

None of us can escape death. None of us can choose when we meet it.

But all of us can choose how we confront it.

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Success is the bright light that beckons us forth.

All our life, we work and study. We struggle and strive. We hope and dream. We want success, unceasingly, desperately.

And how do we define success? The things that people are most attracted to. Fast cars, money, branded goods. Respect. Power. Stature in society. The ability to say something and people will listen. The aura of invincibility. The feeling of importance. That is success.

Success is something tangible. It is something we can see and touch. The 5 C’s—Cash, Car, Condo, Credit card and Club are the Holy Grail.

Society tells us that is success so we believe that is success.

We are easily impressed. We are attracted to the most showy, the most flashy. We believe the shiniest object in the room will remain shiny forever. We extrapolate current achievements to future achievements. The best will remain the best, always.

“Johnny did so well in PSLE, he’ll definitely be somebody great in the future!” “Timmy is so smart, he’ll definitely be a Nobel Prize winner in the future!!” “Peter is such a high-flyer, he will definitely be the CEO of a major company in the future!!!”

It’s evolution. We can’t help it. We believe we know who will be successful based on something immediate, something that is happening right NOW!! Our brains are wired this way. Our ancestors define success as the size of the animal he has killed. He sees, he sprints, he spears and now the animal lies dead at his feet. SUCCESS! The rewards are immediate, clear for all to see. The most successful one is the one with the biggest hunt, simple as that.


But modern life is not simple. True greatness doesn’t follow the conventional path of success. Why are there so many billionaire college dropouts? Bill Gates is a dropout. Steve Jobs is a dropout. Mark Zuckerberg is a dropout. Together, they control three of the most powerful tech companies on the planet. Even for those who are not dropouts, their careers have been far from stellar. John Paulson, before his famous subprime bet, was regarded as a Wall Street washout. Investors turned against Michael Burry when he warned about the upcoming subprime crisis.

Then, they end up rich and we think that they are successful. Before that, we think they are failures, complete and utter failures. We laugh at them, we mock them.

But all along, despite what we think, these are the people who are truly successful, even before they become rich. The tenacity, the grit, the conviction in themselves and the willingness to go against the grain. These people are not successful because they become rich. These people are rich because all along, they are successful people. They may not be the best at the moment, but they are the best over time.

The path to true greatness is not a series of peaks, but a roller-coaster ride of ups-and-downs. But we like to ignore that. Every individual we see, we judge. We love the ones with brightness without; we ignore the ones whose brilliance burns within. And so, when the brightness fades, we find we don’t love them anymore, and we look for the next shiny object, the next hero to arise.


Success is the bright light that beckons us forth.

We are moths, millions of us searching for the spots of brightness in the everlasting gloom of life. But few of us will find it. Many of us will mistake the reflection of the light in the water as the light we are looking for.

We hunger. We thirst. We circle closer and closer.

Too late, we realize it’s just an illusion. Too late, we’re drawn in, unable to extricate ourselves. Too late, there’s no way back out.

All of us, we shall drown in our own tears.

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Greek Tragedy(?)

No idea on what the quoted prices are but Greek 10 yr bond yields are at 23.78%.

From a speculative point of view, this is interesting.

Greece’s GDP is only 2.5% of EU. Are they really going to let the peripheral economies threaten the core? Because that is exactly what will happen should Greece default. The Euro will suddenly look vulnerable. There is now a precedent for failure. It’ll become even more difficult to defend the Euro against the hordes of speculators. Other Eurozone economies, like Italy and Spain, will almost certainly be dragged down.

I still don’t think Greece will default.

On the other hand, if the Greek bonds are trading at only, let’s say, 30 cents on the dollar, even if Greece were to default, a recovery rate of only 40% means a profit of 33%. You still win.

From the ECB’s point of view, it’s also becoming cheaper and cheaper to bail out Greece. All they have to do is to go into the market and buy Greek bonds en masse since they are trading at such large discounts. It’s already been said before (by Tony Tan and others), the fiscal crisis in Europe is more of a lack of political leadership than anything else.

It is politically unpalatable, but bailing out the peripheral is still possible. Bailing out Spain and Italy, however, will be impossible.


If you are a cowboy, there’s another way to play the market. Take a look at the chart.

Theoretically it’s possible to just sell Greek CDS and use the proceeds to buy CDS on the other economies. In effect, you are betting that the spread will converge. You’ll only get royally screwed if Greece default and the market continue to assume that the default risk of other Eurozone economies stay the same.

This way, you don’t have to buy the bonds. You don’t even have to spend a penny when you take up the position.

Looks like a good LTCM trade.

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