Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IN CASE YOU CAN'T GET TO MALAYSIA TO SEE ONE OF THOSE APRIL SUNSETS: Yesterday, I included a photograph of an island off Langkawi that resembled a dragon's mouth. It's a particularly popular spot in April when--if the viewer is positioned well--the sun appears to set right down the throat of the hungry dragon. I am re-doing the photo (at right) with a red circle representing the setting sun. (Yes, it has a hole in it; I can't figure out how to fill in the circle. Call it a sun spot.) This can't replace the real thing, of course. Feel free to make the trip to Langkawi anyway. It's a beautiful place. I included a parting shot (top) from Langkawi, showing some petals floating on an infinity pool. This is what February looks like in Langkawi.

CRANE WATCHING: Those of you with trigger fingers on your investment devices will be glad to know that I am back in a position to continue the Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator. Here's how things have looked since this began on Feb. 16:

Feb. 16
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Cranes Up (Bad): 11
Cranes Down (Good): 17

Date: Feb. 17.
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Cranes Up (bad): 5.
Cranes Down (good): 23

Date: Feb. 18
Time: 8:28 a.m.
Cranes Up (bad): 12
Cranes Down (good): 16

Date: Feb. 19-22
(No crane-counting figures available. Annual Meeting of International Association of Crane Counter(s) in Langkawi, Malaysia.)

Date: Feb. 23
Time: 8:25 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 6
Cranes Down (good): 22

BEACH READING: On the way to Langkawi last Friday night, I was shocked to see that the bookstore in the Changi Airport here in Singapore had copies of Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, which is based on extensive interviews with Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister, longtime statesman, and current Minister Mentor of Singapore. I had looked for a copy at a large (make that "huge") bookstore on Orchard Road but was told it was sold out and they were waiting for additional copies. I bought it at the airport. I have read about 100 pages of the tome and have found it quite thought-provoking. This is a man, of course, whom many Westerners tend to dismiss because of the controls he put in place in Singapore. He, too, dismisses many Westerners and their arguments on behalf of "liberal democracy" (not easy to define or implement). Anyway, I am enjoying both the content and the form in which the book is presented. More later as I get further into it. I wanted to read it to get a better handle on this distinctive place. There is a strong pragmatic overtone. It flows with Thomas Friedman's "Serious About Singapore" column in the Jan. 29 issue of The New York Times.

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