theorycast.01 :: Acid Flask Interview (Podcast)


Get to know the mysterious Singaporean blogger previously known as Acid Flask (now Elia Diodati) in our first podcast interview entitled theorycast.01 :: acid flask interview. This is also my first enhanced podcast, complete with chapter bookmarks, photos and hyperlinks, so those with iTunes 4.9 and/or an iPod Photo will get to see these extra content.

Recorded during our recent New York City trip on the 4th of July, I ask Elia Diodati to spill the beans on himself, give us a peek into his daily academic life in the United States, and to share fond memories of Singapore (which naturally simmers down to comfort foods such as Char Kway Teow).

We also get into the thick of things as I tap onto his experience as an ex-government scholar to discover how government scholarships work, how they compare to other scholarships internationally, the hard decisions one has to make before committing into a government bond, and finally, what made him realized it wasn’t for him.

From our point of view, we speak constructively about where we see Singapore on a global scale, and what we could possibly do to improve Singapore’s outlook. An emergent theme was for individuals to think for themselves and not to rely on existing local norms for socio-economic cues. Adding to this, I share my views on why I think it is important for Singaporeans to see and experience cultural differences (e.g. by travelling), while Elia Diodata elaborates on this by saying how we need to see the box in order to be able to step out of it (or realizing we can’t step out of it at all). I hope for this podcast to serve as an “idea springboard” on how we can jumpstart Singapore’s future.

Podcast Chapters for theorycast.01
From Shakespear to Restrooms = 00:42
Differences in America and Singapore = 03:57
Daily Life as Acid Flask = 09:55
International Perspective on Govt Scholarships= 13:06
Constructive Criticism on Singapore = 21:13
Should we learn to take more risk? = 37:41
Experiencing Differences to know Differences = 43:26
An Invisible National Identity = 47:44

Listen to theorycast.01 :: Acid Flask interview (AAC format / 55min / 13.2MB)
In case you can’t playback AAC files, here’s the plain MP3 version.

22 thoughts on “theorycast.01 :: Acid Flask Interview (Podcast)

  1. I didn’t know how long it was going to be… we just kept talking and talking until we realized it was getting really late. 🙂

  2. Really interesting interview….best part is when Penny is going to sleep and you guys were having a ball talking about NYC.

    Time to have a video about NYC and the highlights of the people interviewed!!!!

    Damn long download manz

  3. Love the unscripted interview….it’s singaporeans discussing issues close to their heart. How often does one get to hear the views of someone who chose an alternative path when it comes to education and their future?

  4. Glad you enjoyed it Reiki. I hope to get more feedback so future interviews will have better content. BTW: From my usual 200+ hits per day, I’m now getting 500+ hits thanks to linking to this article. 🙂

  5. The analogy of Singapore being like Sim City was pretty amusing. But unfortunately it’s so true. Sometimes I wonder if ordinary citizens of Singapore are seen as anything more than just ‘manpower’. The country is a well-oiled machined that has maximised its efficiency that allowed it to leap to a prosperous and reputable nation in one generation at the cost of civil liberties, most notably being that of free speech. But like Kevin said, now that we are successful, how do we make that ‘graceful’ transition into a developed country with the right mindset? We cannot be a truly civilised society bearing a constant fear of the ruling government. How can we still bare our hypocratic system of so-called democracy when we lack the very things that define it. Revolution in Singapore is a scary thought. But there are advocates of non-violent methods to political change. And like anything worth having, it doesn’t come easy.

    From what I hear, the majority of those politically-aware and vocal citizens do practice alot of self-censorship in public and those that brave the government and raise serious issues are acknowledged, but simply ignored afterwards. Nothing is gained by listening to your people and not acting on it. It all seems too plastic; an act to show the government really “cares” about your opinion. An act that is somewhat similar to the whole ‘legalising’ of chewing gum. I am disappointed that fear conqueres most Singaporeans into self-censorship, but the fact that more and more citizens are becoming aware totally makes up for it….

  6. Clyde: I’m glad you’re sharing your two-cents on this issue… I also see Singapore having two kinds of Singaporeans: those who have nothing to say and those who have something to say, but are quick to self-censor. Both do so because either way, they know there’s no way anyone would really pay attention to them. Yes, all this talk about the govt. wanting to listen seems too flowery to me… I was optimistic, but whether the hegemonic party wanted it or not, they have successfully shaped a homogeneous society that no longer has a voice of their own. I fear for our future… how do we transition from this?

  7. Hi Kevin, I know this is a long overdue response! I probably should have checked back on this thread a lot sooner but work has been bogging me down. Well OK that’s probably not entirely true if you’ve visited my blog recently and know that I am still writing…ha. I couldn’t find your archive section and had to find a link here via Singabloodypore…lol.

    So it seems this discussion is still just down to 2 of us?
    In my opinion, the recent events in SIngapore such as the NKF scandal have shown signs of ‘moving forward’. We need to transition from the generally pacified population that we are into one that will embrace the country for WHO we are and not what we are. The problem is that in Singapore, people are seen to be serving the government rather than the other way round. The Singaporean identity is restricted in so many ways because of suppression of speech. Our identity has instead somewhat been contoured by the fine lines of the law. We are conditioned from young to have instilled within us a sense of undoubted nationalism and faith in the system. Every morning thousands of schoolkids say the national pledge without even knowing the meaning of the word ‘democracy’ that they utter each time.

    So how do we move forward? I think the first and most obvious step is simply to spread awareness. Making reference to a Matrix-like world again, it will be hard to ‘free’ minds as they get older. I could not see myself persuading a coffeeshop ‘uncle’ who’s set in his ways to vote against the PAP. But the great thing I think is that the youth of today seem more open minded than the generation before us perhaps. These are the future leaders of Singapore and even the government, or at least the Lee family, is smart enough to know that if they had to instill their ideologies in anyone, it would be our age group. Quoting from someone else, the typical Singaporean teen today couldn’t care less about voting a political party leader, but would spend 50 cents voting for someone on Singapore Idol.

    But we ARE making progress. I don’t doubt that. Just by blogging about political opinions and encouraging others to share is doing enough on our part as bloggers. We have a ‘legitimate’ amount of local bloggers to justify a blogosphere. This IS a very powerful tool and important front for our campaign on spreading awareness. Popular blogs like Singabloodypore and yours drive in visitors by the HUNDREDS. When Chee Soon Juan had his recent book-signing session, he would have achieved immense success just by having a fraction of your visitors. Plus you are not asked to hand over your blog materials, pictures, sources etc after you blog about something political 😉

    The petition for Durai of NKF to step down was definitely a significant step forward for the people. Firstly it addressed to the public about transparency issues with the NKF that also reflect on the government. But it also let politically aware people like us know that there are many others like us who are willing to speak up. The silent protest by four people reeked of authoritarianism when an ENTIRE squad of riot police were needed to handle FOUR, SILENT, and nonviolent protestors. But more importantly, it shows that local activists are growing and I hope this is nothing short of a spearhead for others to find the courage to use non-violent disobedience to effect political change. There’s a video I’ve been trying to get hold of by Howard Zinn called We Can’t Afford to be Neutral on a Moving Train that discusses this matter, but in an American context. Nevertheless, people like Chee Soon Juan share a common goal with Mr Zinn.

    On a personal level, I am happy with the general number of people getting involved in political discussion. We still have a long way to go. But three months ago, I was naive enough to think I was the only one in my age group who actually gave a second thought about the way this country is run. If yesterday we were a pacified people, today four people silently protest, who knows what tomorrow will bring.

    PS: Thanks again for the mention of my polyblog in your article “The flipside of the Singaporean Blogosphere”, though I didn’t quite see how XiaXue fitted into the “flipside”..heh. I sometimes change the pictorial theme of the blog, as you will see it’s now not Poser Nation anymore. Sorry for the confusion. Our blog content however still remains the same. We are three people who met at university in England. Leech is from England and Martha is from Brunei.

  8. I’m not very optimistic about this remark, that “the youth of today seem more open minded than the generation before us perhaps.” I get a strong sense – just a sense, really – threading through a couple of JC forums that the values for the next generation would remain conservative ones. Having said that, however – and this may sound trite or cynical – it depends very much on the dynamic between youths and the potent voices (government, parents, teachers, etc). One finds, and this is only my experience, that valuing the voice of youth remains largely an exercise in paying lip service. We’re, more often than not, too afraid of the likelihood of youths taking it all out of control.

    I liked the beginning of the interview most when you guys were talking about mundane stuff. 🙂 I can so identify with all that talk about the weather, char kuay teow, how the Singaporean identity strengthens when abroad, etc. . . .

  9. Clyde: Thanks for sharing more about the “threesome” blog you run… and yes, we do need more discussion in this arena in the blogosphere, rather than using blogs as simply personal diaries.

    I’m glad everyone who responded to the interview shared similar concerns that the generations ahead are indeed less open minded than popularly thought. While pop culture deems that we think different, the problem is that we still don’t think for ourselves but rely on external validations to justify our own thinking. Be it corporate marketing campaigns on sex and media consumption, to government propaganda on why certain fees must go up, the danger lies where we no longer question the anyone.

    Indeed, the NKF incident is more important as a potential sign that the public may have a voice in the way the system is run. If we can better understood the mechanics/pattern of how this public outcry was first performed and enacted upon, perhaps there’s potential that we could recreate a positive outcome for the public when it comes to future events that required the attention of any governing body.

    Sigh… as an entity with a voice, perhaps we should come together to form our own superblog that covers the more “potent” realms of Singapore’s affairs. A thought…

  10. Hi Y. Maybe I should rephrase that. While the majority of youths still appear to have a herd/sheep mentality and follow whatever trash they are showing on MTV these days, those who DO know a thing or two about politics can at least objectively argue the subject. I’m sure most teenagers you know probably couldn’t give a toss about politics while madly texting away to vote on Singapore Idol. Maybe they have a hard time finding the motivation to get involved in the subject. Maybe most are just too damn comfortable to fix something that ‘aint broke’.

    Still, I believe the youth is a major resource of political support..or has the potential to be anyway. If the PAP is trying to tap their resources, why isn’t the Democratic Party doing anything to rally their support? I would like to see young Singaporeans, including teenagers, take leadership roles in campaigning for what they think is right. I’d like to see the day when the singaporean student who says the national pledge every morning acts on the word ‘democracy’. I’ve often wondered how it would be possible to incite interest in politics amongst the youth. How about subtle messages printed on tshirts (the important part being subtle)? Would that be ‘hip’ enough? I can definitely think up a few crude ones for the crowd that likes a little bit of implied rudness in their wardrobe…heheh. But since this is a PG-13 blog, I shall not be sharing here. heh

    A superblog that acts as a hub for Singaporean political activity sounds like a great idea. Maybe I could even sell my tshirts there…… (just kidding) But seriously, a superblog/site with many key connections would serve the interests of many. You can handle the incoming PAP threat/hatemail. 😉

  11. Technically speaking: we can easily set one up.
    Politically speaking: there is nothing wrong so long as we don’t slander anyone.
    Legally speaking: being in the United States means different jurisdictions apply.

    Imagine a superblog consisting of popular socio-economic-political bloggers… it can be tricky to manage, but as long as we try to keep our checks and balances, we might be able to pull it off. Start thinking of cool names… 😛

  12. How do you say La Revolution in malay? heheh

    Hmm.. a blog with an element from each of them would be interesting. Who do you have in mind so far? What about getting official democratic party members involved too? Is getting Chee Soon Juan involved a bit too ambitious? I get the feeling he’s not taking full advantage of the cyberworld yet. It might be a lot more efficient than hawking books on the city street where everyone’s busy to get somewhere else.

    Legally speaking, does that jurisdiction apply still if you came back to Singapore? I mean, the A*Star incident seemed to show intimidation knows no geological boundaries. What exactly defines jurisdiction anyway… you being in America? or the blog being hosted in america.

  13. I believe it’s harder for the legal arm in Singapore by being abroad, the content and the actual hosting. Either way, it’s wiser to tread carefully in this domain.

    I am thinking of an aggregator which links to a few of us bloggers. Sorta like highlights from various current affair blogs. Do you use skype? Do contact me and we’ll chit chat.

  14. I see… so you’re thinking of a similar direction that Steve McDermott has taken by archiving news articles? Except we hunt original journalistic pieces by ordinary bloggers. Sounds like a good idea. I haven’t got Skype, nor a webcam or microphone unfortunately. But if I ever get a Skype thing going, I’ll make sure to let u know.

  15. A “superblog” sounds like an interesting idea. Imagine a blog formed by contributors based in different places around the world. . .Well, if anyone’s up to it. . .I’m open to participating in an ad-hoc or less ad-hoc team. Can chew on that. I’m a Singaporean based in NZ, recently completed my masters. I’m pretty sure I won’t be home anytime soon. 🙂

  16. Have to start small and build up slowly… this way we can ensure quality posts. Anyhow will have to really plan on how to approach this… it’s really much very up in the air now.

  17. I read a blog by this guy called XenoBoy for the first time today. He’s got some mad journalistic talent there you ought to check him out if you haven’t before. Yawning Bread also comes to mind when I think of bloggers with a unique journalism style. Come to think of it, I feel kinda overly flattered now that you put my blog amongst others like Singabloodypore and Singapore Rebel (Flipside of the SG Blogosphere) and have admit I am humbled by some serious local political bloggers out there! heh… I casually mentioned our idea to Xenoboy and he seems to support the idea. I think there is a vast resource of “flipside” bloggers out there. The merger and contributed talent would do good to create an environment serving as a beacon of free speech and as a forum for serious political discussion. And hopefully in time to come, a tool in the mass awakening of the People and inspiration to propagate democracy and political awareness. Here’s the link to Xeno’s latest post:

  18. Apologies for not keeping up with local politics, but yes, we should take affirmative action on our own. As mentioned, we could collectively work on “flipside superblog” which aggregates some of the interesting bloggers you mentioned. Sigh, busy semester for me… wonder if I can manage my time properly. Maybe you can blog more about such bloggers, and turn your blog into a central blog for all things political… 🙂

  19. Pingback:

Comments are closed.