A Full May

It has been a full May of 世俗之事 or sentient world matters.

The financial markets have been more than volatile across all market classes, lurching from one headlined news to the next. Whether this is a harbinger of a real sea-change in longer-term market direction or not, it has certainly provided more opportunities for the shorter-term trader; in terms of action at least but not necessarily for his overall bottomline.

Apart from the increased opportunities/dangers offered by the markets, this May has also seen it’s share of ‘sentient world matters’, from global affairs to regional events, from national figures to more personal family matters:

-The death of an elder in the extended family, in the same week as the passing of a monumental elder statesman and stalwart of the Old Guard leadership of this island-nation (who is regarded as the architect and prime mover of almost everything held to be now excellent in this modern city of Spore, lieutenant only to the dear old PM but whom even LKY himself deferred to);
-A possible rare misslip in official communication regarding mother-tongue language examination standards leading to an unexpected groundswell of sentiment and rather heated public debate on language matters, between mother-tongue/Chinese and English;
-The continuing oil ‘spill’ half a world away (now acknowledged to be an unprecedented oil leak disaster), to a much smaller but no less distressing oil spill and sludge drudge in home waters (and almost on my doorstep);
-And quite possibly the most heightened political and military tensions in East Asia for the last few decades, together with what seems to be a total misreading of the real issues motivations stakeholders involved, beyond the functionary Six-Party Talks
(the crux and most important Power-Structure at question here, may lie not with the affiliated contention between the superpower and superpower-to-be, but the most common power-structure hierachy of all time — the Laius/Oedipus father/son legacy struggle;
plus the most appropriate historical framing of the current geo-political circumstances may need to reach back more than a thousand years to find a similar precedent, in this most turbulent land of 东北/Northeast Asia/Manchuria and korean peninsula).

A very full May, indeed.


5 thoughts on “A Full May

  1. Don, I live directly on the Gulf of Mexico and chimed in about my thoughts of the spill. I ended up having to delete about 50 comments and turn off the comment section on the subject. All I did was to apply a quantitative approach to calculating the magnitude. People as far away as North Dakota labeled me as being a heartless corporate tool and worse. In the immortal words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we just all get along.”

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Sorry for the late reply.

    [I have been flat on my back and mostly incapacitated for the last several days: an old herniated spinal disc injury fell me like lumberjacked-timber over the weekend, and I’ve spent the last few days on my back staring up and ‘sailing a million ceilings’ in a painkiller and muscle-relaxant induced purple haze.]

    I can imagine that reactions to the oil spill will run the gamut, from overzealous outraged umbrage to dismissive diffidence, as well as more cool and calculated responses like yours. I can’t say I’ve got my head wrapped around all the facts and possible repercussions of the Gulf spill and am leery of unjustifiably commenting on this explosive issue.

    What I can say is how I feel about the much smaller oil spill which occurred off the Singapore coast on 24th May about two weeks ago:

    While I don’t live directly on the beachfront (there are no residential properties on the beaches and coasts on the main Spore island, all non-commercial/non-military coastal areas are public spaces, mainly parks), I live about as near as it gets, a few minutes walk from the largest and longest coastal park on the island, which runs along the eastern seaboard from almost the town area at the south-central tip all the way to the airport in the north-east coast, running almost 30 km in length.
    This, is my playground:

    When news arrived regarding the tanker collision and oil spill in waters about 13km south-east of Spore, the estimation was that if prevailing winds and currents continued, the oil slick from the 2500 tonnes of spilled crude (about 1 day’s worth of the amount pouring from the BP spill) will reach Spore’s eastern coast the next day. How wrong they were.

    In the late afternoon of the same day, signs that the slick will hit the beaches much earlier under the prevailing southern winds (we are at the cusp of the season of the South-west monsoon) began to appear; pieces of driftwood and debris all soaked and blackened in heavy thick crude oil started washing up on the beaches. By late night, patches of the slick had already arrived. The experts had underestimated the winds and currents.

    For a week after that, the slick blanketed the eastern and north-eastern coasts, and the noxious fumes and smells of crude hung heavily in the air. My 30km long playground and walking route was hit squarely and almost entirely.

    [I had mused that the spot of the collision, its distance from Spore and togther with the prevailing winds, meant that the east and north-east coasts became the worse-hit areas for the subsequent oil slick and sludge drudge.

    If only the collision had occurred just 5km further to the west, then most of the slick will wash up on the Jurong/Bukom islands on the western coasts where the petrochemical complexes and refineries are located, and where sludge and fumes are no big deal.

    Or 5km further to the north, than the slick will probably just miss the coasts of Spore and end up on the shores of a northern neighbour.
    If only…

    Apologies for my meandering and incoherent reply. It has to be the pain from my pinched nerve and the drugs talking. Need to go and lie down now. Whatever the state my 30km-long-playground is in, walking along it is now only a remote dream probably weeks and weeks away.

    Ahh…the purple haze has me in its embrace already…
    In this puffy magic dragon state, I agree enthusiastically and slurrily; we all should just get along…shiny happy people holding hands and all that yah…


  3. Hard to imagine a couple months of the spill if yours only represented one days’ worth. You probably did the math before they revised the estimates. The full magnitude of the consequences of this spill will not be understood for many years. I just hope that in that time technologies will improve sufficiently to mitigate at least some of the results of these disasters.

  4. Don, when I did the math, I used “Worse case scenario” in order to not underestimate the severity. I’m just curious that the media has been harping on this spill when there was one in Mexico of several magnitudes worse. Oh well, in ourn country, the 24/7 media has to tll us how bad it is all the time in order to keep the population under control by keeping them angry at each other and not the government.

    Sorry about the pinched nerve and my empathy. I had one last year that required surgery and all is well. However, for awhile I was able to live in a drug induced bliss before I had to return to reality.. Get well my friend. Jeff

  5. Hi ld,

    The consequences can be truly hard to imagine…
    And whether in vain or not, I share your hope for whatever technologies, both now and future, can do to help our human debacles.

    Hi Jeff,

    When this old back problem first hit ten years ago, I opted for non-surgery and the required long, slow and painful healing process…
    which involved some tough decisions on lifestyle changes, giving up of certain sports+activities, a refocus on the rehabilitative aspects of previous martial arts training; and even dropping an entire weight-class from cruiserweight/mid-80s kg (college obsession with achieving 20″ guns/biceps and a 50″ chest), to a middleweight/mid-70s kg more suitable for my natural physiology and thin-boned 1.8m frame.

    The good news is, all prognoses indicate that this time round it is nowhere near as bad. I know this old problem well and what is needed to heal and recover properly…
    And am just glad that this time, I don’t have to wear a steel-barred brace/’corset’ under my shirt for the next 6 months!


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