July 9th, 2004

krazy koati

You got the touch

A politician has been holding press conferences at an alarming rate warning that the power outages in Singapore could lead to the country losing economic stamina, as people come to see the island as unreliable. My first response is to wonder, honestly, if anyone outside the circle of friends whom I've told about it even heard about the power failure last week. My second response is some sympathy. The political environment doesn't lend itself to getting your name in the paper: the People's Action Party has the sort of majority you're used to seeing only in cartoons, and people are generally fine with that. A big ``issue'' here can be should the North-East MRT Line continue to be operated by SBS Transit or be sold to the SMRT Corporation which runs the other two lines. Guy's gotta get press somehow.

My third, though, is wondering if he might have a point. I got caught in the power failure last Tuesday, which was your classic backup-systems-didn't problem. But since then were two more failures, last Friday and Sunday, though these were just construction accidents. There was another big outage a few months ago in north-central Singapore. There'll be unpredictable problems as long as Henry Petroski keeps writing, but maybe it is worth wondering whether there's preventable problems.

In other news South Korea plans to move the capital from Seoul to a brand-new city. The move, part of the campaign promises President Roh Moo Hyun made in 2002, is to even out regional economic development and relieve overcrowding. Approximately half the South Korean population lives in and around Seoul. The new city is to be started in 2007 and completed in 2013. The leading site candidate is the Yeongi-Gonju region of South Chungcheong, about a hundred miles south of Seoul. Seoul has been a Korean capital since the 14th century and its name (according to the news) literally means capital. This move makes me think of all the culture points they're giving up, indicating I play too much Civilization III.

Trivia: By the peace treaty signed 18 April 1667, the Netherlands surrendered to England rights over Manhattan island in exchange for the island of Run, an island about two miles long and one wide deep in (what is now) Indonesia. Source: Nathaniel's Nutmeg: How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History, Giles Milton.

Currently Reading: Louis Pasteur, Patrice Debré.