March 16th, 2006

krazy koati

Waiter, waiter, percolator

The Consumers Association of Singapore is looking into price-fixing allegations against three coffee shops on Queen Street. The three allegedly agreed last month to all raise prices on coffee and tea by ten cents, which could be a violation against the Competition Law. Coffee merchants associations have pointed out that individual shops are perfectly free to set their prices as they like, and the Consumers Association agrees; it's only when groups collude that a problem may arise. Coffee and tea merchants point out the prices for both have not changed since 1994. Yeo Guat Kwang, president of the Consumers Association, just hopes for transparency in coffee shop economics.

Last weekend in what I have to suppose was a crackdown, there were 67 incidents of smuggling detected at the land checkpoints into Singapore. Three cases were cigarette smugglers. With one person, when the customs officials discovered the first few boxes hidden in his motorcycle's components, he tried to ride off. When that failed, they found the other 160 boxes hidden in it. There was another fellow who tried to smuggle in ten boxes in his underwear. I expect the photograph the evening news had will get out on the Internet somewhere, probably as a Livejournal user icon, because it was just a shot of him -- head out of frame, lighting that harsh mug shot style -- with his belly slightly exposed and boxes clumsily poking out his briefs, and it was hard to not look at it and start snickering and to think of how proud the man's parents must be.

There was a further report about that Different Bridge with the helix spiral design. One of the features of its design is it should use only about one-fifth the steel of a more standard bridge design. Producing something that would look good on postcards was important, but it's hard to overlook a data point like that. The Different Bridge is supposed to be made of stainless steel, which they say will reduce maintenance expenses, although it makes me think of kitchenware more.

Trivia: Charles Ellis, placed in charge of the Golden Gate Bridge's detailed design calculations, had only on-the-job training in engineering; his academic degrees were bachelor of arts degrees in mathematics and Greek. Source: Remaking the World, Henry Petroski.

Currently Reading: The Man With Nine Lives, Harlan Ellison.