Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Descent of Man and Flash Floods

Passport photos track the descent of man. My latest travel document proves the point and replaced the older version as it had only a few months left before the expiry date.

I had reached the stage where airport security were spending an increasing amount of time looking back and forth from my face to the passport. It was definitely time for a change.

So for the past three months I have been a 'stateless' person. My old passport was transported to Wellington in the diplomatic bag along with my documentation for the replacement.

Being captive in Singapore for the duration has been no hard task as I would not have wanted to venture through Changi during the height of the recent APEC gathering.

There has been a steady parade of dignitaries visiting Singapore this past month; President Obama and the Chinese Premier Hu amongst them. By all accounts the meeting appears to have been a great success, with the possible exception of two South American countries whose home-grown spying spat saw them depart early.

I digress.

My new passport arrived yesterday resplendent with embedded chip in the back section. The somewhat chunky appearance of this embedded technology belies its sophistication, although nowhere in the accompanying pamphlet does it explain what exactly this chip does?

For all I know, my every waking moment could be being tracked by some minor official in the New Zealand capital, via satellite. This is not as far fetched as one might think as a whole industry has sprung up around microchips and tracking.

Parents in the UK now have the ability to use a tracking service which maps the movements of their children, through the location of their mobile phone, as can be seen in this promotional video.

The only drawback to this 'intelligent' passport is that the chip section is easily damaged so you would not want to have in in your back pocket in the middle of a Singaporean deluge; such as that which submerged sections of Bukit Timah last week.

Half a month's rain fell in an afternoon and the canal overflowed causing major flooding; a 50 year event according to the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim.

Some bloggers are blaming a "third world standard of drainage system" but this criticism is unfair. Forty or fifty years ago such street flooding was commonplace, with the local children rushing out to 'net' fish, crabs and vegetables that had floated away from the nearby wet market stalls.

This time around there were some washed out prestige vehicles but few if any fish were caught.

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