Friday, 19 October 2012

Today's Print

Learning To Fly
Roger Smith, 2012

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Morning Rambles In Queenstown

It's not usual that I feature the photographic portfolios of other photographers on this blog but the exception is the work of Frank Starmer.

Frank lived in the same condo as I did,Queens, which is as its name suggests in Queenstown, Singapore.  I would often seem him trudge off in the morning with his camera gear and tripod as he went in search of insects and particularly spiders.  He is still doing so and generously puts his work online and allows non commercial sites to share it.

Bee Harvesting - Frank Starmer

Morning Butterfly - Frank Starmer

Hoverfly - Frank Starmer
I always find it interesting that two photographers in the same environment can respond to their surroundings in totally different ways.  Frank takes macro images using special lens to capture the structure and colour of nature while I chose to focus on the broader visual aspects of Queenstown.  Both in our own way recording the things that inspired us about Singapore life.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What Goes Online, Stays Online

There an old adage "What goes online, stays online" and once you have written something on Facebook or dispatched a 'rant' via email its is forever in the public arena.

This is a hard lesson that Amy Cheong, a swiftly sacked assistant director of NTUC membership, has just learned.  When she vented her spleen in a derogatory Facebook posting about Malay wedding on a void deck I doubt that she realised the full implications of what she had just done.

Singapore is very determined to maintain racial harmony and the lessons of past history have not been forgotten.  A racially cohesive society that welcomes diversity is a more productive, happier and more governable society.

The Police have subsequently issues an arrest warrant for Ms Cheong on the basis that here comments "promote ill-will and hostility between different races in Singapore".  To her credit she has at least apologised for her insensitive post.

So why was she motivated to make the comments in the first place?  Apparently she found the noise for the HDB void deck where the Malay wedding was being held, too much to bear.

Communal living in HDB blocks does mean you are in close proximity and affected by the actions of others. When these intrude on one's own peace and calm then it can be stressful.  Ms Cheong has belatedly admitted that this is no reasonable cause to be derogatory about another race.

Harmony has to be continuously worked at; it could well mean putting up with food smells, celebrations and customs that are alien to one's own culture.

But I would also like to think that there is a quality of mercy in any civilised society and that this serious indiscretion will not forever ruin a life of someone, who had presumably up until this point been a contributor to the greater good through employment with NTUC?

Channel News Asia report the Director of Singapore Internet Research Centre at NTU, Professor Ang Peng Hwa, as saying: "In this case because the community reacted, in a way she has been punished. Because people sort of know now, this lady probably wouldn't be hired for a front-line job."

He went on to say that such incidents will likely occur again and this is probably correct.

...and on a different tack entirely I came across this satirical cartoon which poked gentle fun at the need to build up Singapore's population.


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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Protectionist Rubbish And Deadly Contests

I'm up front about this; I own a Huawei phone.  This according to a US Congressional Committee report now makes me a contributor to the global security risk.  What a lot of rubbish!

Even the US media seem to have cottoned on the the idea that this pronouncement might have more to do with trade protectionism than any actual risk.  According to the Wall Street Journal Huawei are routinely shut out of the US takeover market on one pretext or another.

It seems to me this is all about politics, especially with the lead up to the US Presidential elections which are taking place in a few weeks time.

I have no plans to change my mobile on the basis of shonky evidence and I suspect that there are many others just like me.

Meanwhile in the "Land of the Free" people's minds have been taken of the subject of unemployment, poverty and pestilence by the introduction of novelty events such as the South Florida Roach eating contest.

The winner, one Edward Archbold, consumed dozens of the live bugs as well as an entree of worms and is not surprisingly now deceased.

No one spared a thought for the cockroaches, which according to the report were from an inventory of insects "that were safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles".

You may well ask, what prize would motivate a presumably sane human being to participate?  The grand prize was....a Python.

The deceased only other 'claim to fame' was a prior arrest in 2004 on a charge of indecent exposure.  He now has even more exposure but didn't live to see it.

I can't see this style of event catching on in Singapore any time soon  given the size of cockroaches one finds in the tropics.  Those that manage to secrete themselves in the back of a Hawker stall are particularly rotund, as was the one that ran across my legs in an eatery off Orchard Road a few years ago.

Fortunately the NEA is rather strict about such matters so I can't really see the Great Singapore Roach Contest ever rivaling the Great Singapore Sale.

Still I would love to have been there to have taken a photo of the contest action using the camera on my Huawei phone.  But of course that would never have happened as it is potentially 'bugged'.
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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Picky Cabbies

Source: Stomp
I am often impressed by the efforts of cabbies to reign in the bad habits of passengers.  There are the usual reminders that if you through up in the vehicle you will be liable for the cleaning of the interior.  In other countries one also find a security grill between you as the passenger, and the driver, especially when travelling in less salubrious districts.

But the home computer-generated sign in a Singapore cab (pictured right) takes restrictions to a whole new level.  As I have never been tempted to clip my toenails or pick my nose in a cab these announcements do not apply to the likes of me.

However it makes one think that maybe other are not so 'picky' or perhaps that should be "more picky"?

More disturbing is the news today that a new SARS-like virus has been discovered in the Middle East.  This will be of particular concern to the Singapore as the SARS epidemic itself had a major impact on both its health and the economy.

With Changi being a major air traffic hub, any one of the thousands of passengers who pass through it daily could be carriers of a virus. And on the subject of viruses, yesterday I got my annual 'flu shot in an effort to ward off any influenza that might come around in the next twelve months.  This has been my custom for the past five years and I got my first inoculation in Singapore when the organisation I worked for provided free doctors visits for this purpose.

This year's jab has left me a tad lethargic and snuffly for twenty four hours but the long term benefits should outweigh the temporary side effects.  Luckily my sniffles will not be attracting the attention of  Singapore cabby and there will be no picking!
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