There's nothing quite like seeing a dozen uniformed men holding rifles walking around a familiar place to make you feel really horribly insecure. This wasn't over anything particularly frightening, you understand. It's just that I went past the location of the National Day Rally. This is a sort of State of the Union-like address by the Prime Minister, explaining to the nation how everything is going wonderfully, but we'll have to all work harder in future to keep things going well. Naturally the area was being secured so that the upper ranks of Singapore's government, not to mention a fair number of actual normal Singaporeans, could gather.
Compared to the US State of the Union it's a much more tame affair, without nearly so many attempts by the President's party to force a standing ovation. Actually, the only ovations I noticed were when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong introduced some of the guests, such as the person who lead the team for Singapore's entry into the Robo-World Cup, or the leader of a similar contest for cooking, or some schoolkids who did stop-motion animation projects explaining why Singapore is a great place, two of which were shown. You won't be seeing a two-minute clay-animation video when the President of the United States gets to explaining why the state of the union is strong, but urgent work is needed to make it stronger.
One of the great challenges is, as usual, the population. Singapore this year has seen a minor baby boom, with nearly 46 children born to date, but it's not enough to keep the population level, never mind growing. He proposed making better use of the Internet to keep and make better emotional contact with Singaporeans who go overseas, and to see about encouraging people to become Singaporeans the way you can't go to any web site without seeing an offer for a United States green card in the banner ads. I'm happy to do my part for the Singaporean population, but I'll have to ask them to meet me halfway by having someone around to keep me hired.
The rally speech ran a bit long, making the 9:30 news start late. I was interested and a bit delighted to see that the ``time is currently ... '' animation that precedes the start of the news actually is synchronized to the current time. I'd guessed they just had something that ran from 9:29:51 to 9:30:00. The time stamp in the animation at the start of the news has 9:30:00 coded into it, though.
Trivia: The telegraphic alphabet of Sir William Fothergill Cooke and Sir Charles Wheatstone's five-needle electric telegraph had no letter `Q'. Source: The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage.
Currently Reading: Joseph Henry: The Rise of an American Scientist, Albert E Moyer.