Sunday, 30 June 2013

Introducing The Hello Haze Doll

Consumers line up to get their paws on a Hello Kitty character toy in a skeleton outfit. Source: AFP-JIJI
I am always slightly bemused by the Singaporean passion for the latest craze.  Whether it be the latest mobile device or a range of doughnuts, people will queue for hours just get their hands on the merchandise.

So it is now with a faceless stuffed toy taking their fancy.  I am referring to the ubiquitous and asexual Hello Kitty stuffed toy which McDonalds is selling along with its flaccid burgers.  Apparently these dolls are themed around fairy tales; so even the creative context of the toys comes from other sources.  An excellent example of marketing hype over substance.

Reuters reports that is a black Hello Kitty with a white skeleton and pink bow, based on a German tale called the "Singing Bone" that everyone one in line is fighting over.  Hundreds lined up for the midnight launch and before stocks ran out the police were called in to maintain law and order.

Not everyone succeeded in their quest to get their hands on the hello Kitty toy. McDonald's Facebook page recorded their frustrations.  One grandfather had hoped to get one for his young granddaughter but failed to do so.

"I am one unhappy grandfather! I had deliberately taken public transport in the haze to buy the 'Ugly Duckling'," he wrote, referring to hazardous levels of smog from Indonesian forest fires that recently wreathed Singapore before scattering.

"I tried 3 outlets without success."

While this speaks volumes of the devotion of a grandparent, why anyone would risk permanent lung damage for the sake of a plush toy  is beyond me.

Surely Singaporean toy manufacturers can come up with a local competitor that is more appropriate? I have in mind the 'Hello Haze Doll" based on Indonesian fairy tales of regional cooperation.

Just think of the toy accessories: the miniature face mask, the plastic portable respirator, a small phrase book of bahasa Indonesia excuses -  the list of possibilities is endless.

Maybe readers can suggest the names for these dolls?  Let me start the ball rolling.

First off the assembly line would be the "Wheezing Wilma" doll, a consumptive toy with a mechanical mechanism that emits a repetitive coughing sound.

Send me your ideas for this unique range of plush toys - I think we are on to a winner!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Today's New Art Works

Asteroid Belt 7
Roger Smith, 2013

Drawing For Asteroid Belt 7
Roger Smith, 2013

Drawing For Red
Roger Smith, 2013

Roger Smith, 2013
Click on the linked titles to go through to the limited edition prints

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Haze Poem

The Haze Poem

I amazed at the haze
and the ignorant bliss
of farmers who burn
as if nothings amiss

As I stand in the mall
looking out at the smog
there's just me and my mask
and a passing stray dog

Think I'll invent a huge solar powered fan
Sumatran focus in mind
Send it back if we can
Taste your own medicine
is my cunning plan

Roger Smith, 2013

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hazy Images & Leaf Masks

These images were sent to me by a friend in Singapore.  His office is in a heritage building with windows that are not airtight, so the space is trapping the effects of the current haze pollution.

Photo Credit: Professor Graeme Britton

On Friday June 21st, the PSI reading reached 401 which is  life threatening
Sometimes adversity brings out the best in people.  Twitter has been trending #mustbethehaze, with some original tweets (should that be excuses?)

And a tweeter with the nom de plume @TakeMyHandNFly posted this image, taken from the local Singapore news. I think it shows great innovation.

A new style in anti-haze mask!  Looks like a strip of banana leaf (?) and I'm not sure of its effectiveness
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, 21 June 2013

Polar Blasts and Hazy Recollections

Shoppers cover their mouths while out along Orchard Road, in Singapore.
Photo: Mark Cheong / The Straits Times
It's six in the morning and as I write a polar southerly is rattling the windows with hail and rain announcing the dawn.  The only thing in favour of this climatic reality is that the air is fresh; too fresh for the farmers in New Zealand's South island who are waist deep in snow trying to protect their livestock.

What a contrast with the choking stillness of the Indonesian haze that is enveloping Singapore in a caustic blanket.

I remember clearly my first experience of this  haze and wrote about it back in 2007 and in subsequent posts.  The thing that angered me then and angers me still, is the total disregard Indonesia has for its neighbours when it come to air pollution of this sort.

Singapore's NEA Regional Haze Map
Currently the Haze being experienced by my Singaporean friends is at record levels - PSI 250 at 11 pm last night which virtually guarantees respiratory problems for anyone who inhales it. Early in the day, at 1 pm, it had reached a record-high level of 371, beating the previous 1997 record of 226.

Air becomes "hazardous" when the PSI breaches 300 but believe me as one who has experienced it, it is very unpleasant to live and work in at much lower levels.

The Strait's Times reports that a senior Indonesian minister has hit out at Singapore on the haze, saying: "Singapore shouldn't be like children, in such a tizzy."  I note that this same Minister, one Agung Laksono,  is pictured in his air-conditioned office far away from any pollution (if you discount Jakarta's traffic).

Singapore's  Ministry of Health (MOH) having been doing what they can, closing schools and issuing N95 face masks and urging the population not to stockpile so there are enough to go around.

Out of the mouths of babes
A seven year old American child who is visiting her grandparents in Singapore is so upset that she cannot go outside to play that she wrote to the US President Barack Obama, asking him to tell his "good friend the President of Indonesia to stop burning the forest".

Sumatra Hotspots that generate the haze - Meteorological Service Singapore
What is particularly galling about this is that Indonesia does virtually nothing to curb this annual problem, despite taking money from the Singaporean government in the past to alleviate the situation and educate their farmers and those illegally clearing the land for oil palm plantations, using fire.

There is little the Singapore population and its government can do if its larger neighbour continues to behave in such a cavalier fashion. It is a small comfort to know that there is now a special subsidy scheme in place for Singaporeans who are suffering from respiratory problems or conjunctivitis because of the haze.

They can see their GP and only pay $10 with the Ministry of Health picking up the the rest of the bill. Meanwhile flight sin and out of Changi are disrupted, constructions sites and school closed down and even McDonalds has suspended its fast food delivery service.

My suggestion, stop sending money to Indonesia from support schemes that are clearly failing. Instead tally up the total cost of this economic impact due to the Sumatran haze and send the bill to the Indonesia through a world court.  See if that prompts their cooperation.

Stop Press: Haze PSI hits 401 at mnidday today!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

From Small Seeds A Vision Grows

The Koenigsegg Agera S hypercar
Singaporeans are known for being quick on the uptake but when it comes to moving around the republic, one of them will be even quicker.

A Ms Angela Tan, the wife of Singaporean investor Denis Chua, has just paid $5.3 million for a Koenigsegg Agera S hypercar. The vehicle (seems a bit of a put-down it call it thus) was built in a factory in Ängelholm, Sweden

This makes it the fastest and most expensive car in Singapore.  Not that being the fastest car on the roads is much of an advantage unless the owner is going to risk the wrath of the traffic police by screaming down Orchard Road at 1 am in the morning?

Not sure what the COE costs for such a vehicle would be?  Mind you, if you can afford a car that costs in excess of $S5 million you can surely afford to pay the taxes.

While the Agera S is busy pumping out carbon monoxide at a rapid rate, from the other end of the eco-spectrum comes the news that the former PM and Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew has continued his tradition of planting a tree.

This is the 50th year that he has done so. In the 1960's the overseas media took a somewhat perverse delight in labelling Singapore a concrete jungle.  The then PM responded to this by introducing the concept of a green Singapore. As the AsiaOne article puts it "he recognised that the introduction of greenery would soften the harshness of urbanisation and improve the quality of life in the city".

As one who thoroughly appreciated being able to walk under shady bowers during the heat of the day, the greening of Singapore is very much appreciated.  It just goes to prove that the seed of a vision planted half a century ago can grow into something that is of huge benefit to society.

And speaking of seeds, I see another idea is germinating.  The Yale-NUS College is to have 150 students in its first intake which is a great poke in the eye for the US-based, academic naysayers.  Pleased to see that they received 11,400 applications from over 130 countries and that one of the students is from New Zealand.

Well done Yale-NUS.  Long may you prosper!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Frog's Lament

The Frog's Lament

To be a frog in Singapore
is not for the faint hearted

Hashima is our common fate
from oviducts soon parted

and once they get a taste for it
...well the craze has only started.

Roger Smith, June 2013

Related articles

Monday, 10 June 2013

Two New Digital Art Works Today

Gestures 2
Roger Smith 2013

Ride Of Your Life
Roger Smith 2013
I have started to use to sell my work and make it accessible to the public.

Photography Prints     Art Prints

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Leechee Nuts? What are Leechee Nuts?

A Cooks Tour in Singapore with Anthony Bordain. Liked the Geylang market and the otak otak. Pity about the "slight tail wind" he experienced on the first night!

Personally though I prefer the tradional food courts.