Thursday, May 5, 2011


I was warned by a lot of people before I moved here to watch out for the 'Asian work ethic'. I don't know how much stock to put in this, whether it's just a slightly xenophobic post-colonial inferiority complex, or whether everyone East of the Urals really does work like superhuman bee/robot hybrids. I'm a bit of an egalitarian so I assume every nationality has the right to be as lazy, rude, arrogant, greedy, stupid...etc as the next, so I'm not making judgement on the beebot question just yet. Like when people ask Michael Stipe if he is gay, he just says he is 'an equal-opportunities lech', I'm an equal-opportunities slob.

I suppose the question is whether there is space for laziness. I think it's fair to say that compared to the UK, in Asia, competitiveness is very much encouraged (something even 'communist' China is looking to rely on to sustain its economic growth). In Singapore this question takes on a bit more of a literal meaning; there really isn't space for inefficiency. Kids are pushed hard to do well in school. Graduates are pushed to work long hours. And, as in the West, consumers are pushed to spend, spend, spend. I guess this creates a vicious cycle that is inherent in any capitalist economy, but I've noticed it slightly more here than anywhere else. Although maybe that just comes with big-city living. The equation is: working long hours leaves less free time, this naturally increases the relative value of any remaining free time and, balanced with having more money from working long hours, means more to spend in less time. A smart strategy based on this would be to work yourself to near death, save the money, retire at 40, move to somewhere cheap, nurse yourself back from near death and enjoy yourself until you near death again. But what actually happens is people naturally want to make the most of their free time, and justify the grind they put themselves through, and so one of the great ironies of capitalism appears: you spend more to get less, and convince yourself it's worth it, because if it wasn't...

Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying I've been spending a lot since I got here, as can be seen from the new computer with massive HD monitor. Now, so much processing power, and no time to use it. Yay for capitalism; where you ask for a simple bank account and get sent a letter every day for 2 weeks from citibank including a chequebook, a debit card, a credit card you don't need, another credit card you didn't even ask for, and another chequebook (for the credit account you didn't want).

Nerd notes: PC is micro-ATX form factor (about the same footprint as a normal tower but half the height, superfluous credit cards shown for scale), intel core i5 2500, 4gb ram, nvidea geforce GTX 560 ti, 24" HD monitor (hacked kindle with custom wallpaper shown for scale)

1 comment:

  1. hi james, enjoy reading ur blog lah. ur sense of humour is so max. keep writing. i guess ur next big spend would b a speaker and a woofer...then a massage sofa...haha...

    by the way here is my deserted blog too