Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 (Singapore)

I LOVE WORK; I COULD WATCH IT FOR HOURS: Today, with the silt having settled in the river, I saw one small boat out on the river with a man in the bow wielding a small fish net--clearly looking for bits of trash. The river, and the marina bay are now part of the nation's key reservoir system. It now longer flows into the ocean, thanks to a barrage system. Aside from boats for tourists, there still seems to be very little recreation activity on the waterway. But the water remains a hallmark of the city and commands attention. Yesterday morning I came across a dredging operation in one corner of the bay (above). The driver was excellent at his handling of the shovel, from his cab on a floating machine (right). Actually, it looked like fun. Maybe there's some potential as a amusement park ride someday. The silt he brought up will be floated away, likely to be used for any of a number of landfill projects--as the ever-growing Singapore slowly edges its way out to the sea.

CLUBBIN' IT: We had a great dinner at the Second Floor restaurant in the American Club in the evening, with hosts Chew-Mee Foo Kirtland and Gordon Kirtland and their daughter Kim-Mei. Joining us were Stacy Choong and Dr. Toh Han Chong. Great food. Talk ranged far and wide (The Jackson Lab, food, American colleges, food, national service, maids, food, the Straits Times, food, and Tiger Woods, whom Duncan had spotted earlier in the day working out at the American Club). Then we settled for quite a while on YouTube (e.g., "cats that look like Hitler") and humor. They all encouraged us to make some quick clicks to the YouTube postings of the "Mr. Brown Show," which is widely known in Singapore. Han compared it to "Saturday Night Live." I dutifully followed orders and was intrigued by a spoof about the ways cooking with curry can affect relations with neighbors. Here's the video, but first, get Don McLean's song "Vincent" in your mind, starting with the familiar opening words of "Starry, Starry Night":

A TOUGH JOURNALISTIC DECISION: I was startled in the morning, when I opened the Straits Times (with breakfast before me) and came face-to-chest with this image of a burn-victim's scarred torso. Part of me applauds the decision to be very open journalistically. There's no need to sugar coat the tragedy and horrid effects of an attack at a workplace. But I wonder if newspapers in the U.S. would balk at printing such an image. My guess is that it would be done rarely. It might have blunted my appetite but it sure drove the point home, that the injuries were vast.

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