austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Do you come from another world or from some distant star

The other day I got out to the Singapore Discovery Centre for the first time since it was renovated. They spent something like a year and change at it, and this was the first chance I'd taken to go back. Sad to say, in the renovations they've taken out the exhibit in which they demonstrated how Singapore was kept safe by subjecting robots to cruel psychological experiments in which they learn fundamentals of strategy from a simulation of Basil Liddell-Hart. Even more sadly, they have an explicit no-photographs policy, so while I got some pictures of the outside, I don't have photos of the new exhibits.

That's not to say there aren't odd features to it. Even from outside there's several banners on the flagpoles attempting to convince people who've taken the bus (which, by the way, only stops across the not-too-busy highway, and there's no pedestrian overpass; you have to either jaywalk or go a fair bit out of your way to the nearest intersection). The first seem to fit pretty naturally to the theme: ``Every family has a hero -- who's yours?'' The second is also pretty easy to figure out: ``How has the past shaped your future?'' It's the third that baffles me: ``Does your Yes always come with a But?'' I was getting ready to ask the ticket-seller, but he was quite eager that I understand the movie (a 45-minute thing about Risk) and the bus tour were scheduled for the times posted on the sign behind him, and on the pamphlet he handed me.

One of many odd exhibits was a little video starring the Merlion, which is given that creepy pseudo-animation where different faces are jammed randomly over its face. In this video the Merlion feels threatened by cynical young Singaporeans who view him as a synthetic icon created for marketing purposes. To counter this, he sings a goofy song with a refrain like ``When I'm the Singa/ I'm the Singa in Singapore'' (``Singa'' meaning ``Lion'', you see, and they're trying to match `singa' with `singer'), and the creepy animated Merlion determines other ``So Singapore'' things include food. ``After food it's got to be me?'' ``No, Merlion, it's HDB'' (the Housing Development Board, which built the vast majority of housing here). This carries on through many things, and the Merlion concludes: ``Artificial but real like Singapore/ like a fish I can roam/ But I stay here cause/ this is my home.'' Finally, the Singaporeans come to like the Merlion, and they all sing, ``Seen a lot of challenges/ we'll see a lot more/ but we'll take them as they come/ cause we're so Singapore!'' I still don't know how this gets back to the question about your yesses.

Trivia: At the end of the US Civil War, John D Rockefeller had a fortune of about US$50,000. Source: A New History of the United States, William Miller.

Currently Reading: The Collapse of Barings, Stephen Fay.


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