Wednesday, January 23, 2019

In Unrelated News: Umbrella Sales Have Plummeted

E@L has noticed, or their presence has been thrust upon him by the number of diversions and obstruction to his perambulations lately, sheltering awnings being constructed on footpaths (motorised-scooterpaths, motorised-skateboardpaths, shared-bikepaths) all around District 11 in recent months. He first noticed it when bus-stops were becoming linked to other bus-stops and to MRT stations with these rain aggregators and warm-air accumulators, and when very high shelters were being built over the driveways of condos and the petroleum dispensing convenience stores in his vicinity.

Rain aggregators? Because there is no guttering, the water falls in sheets from either side in drops larger than rain itself and, if there's a wind, it blows them onto the pedestrians (scooter riders, skateboard riders, bicyclists) with an enhanced density no matter where they traverse under the awning.

Warm-air accumulators? Because the hot sun blasting onto the roofs of these shelters warms them up like an oven to cook the scalps of passing alopeican pedestrian (etc.), while the exhaust from passing traffic gathers in its lees to makes the air taste stale and noxious.

And what happens when one walks in their umbrage, expecting an alleged degree of protection, as could possibly be the case, E@L concedes, in certain instances, and one had therefore left home sans umbrella and sans beret, but then, without warning, they stop. One becomes bereft of their shelter on exiting District 11, E@L supposes. E@L will tell one what happens. When the weather is inclement, or extra-clement as the case may be, one gets wet, and the bald ones get frontally, parietally, and temporally scorched.

Is this the Singapore one is comfortable (oh so comfortable) living in?

Add to this the luminal pollution! Singapore already has the highest light pollution score in the world, and when the many globes in these pathways are turned on at night, they will add (by reflection from the expanded areas of concrete beneath one's foot presumably) to this plethoric aura, it could jump a few places even higher!

By the way (way = path, geddit?), speaking of concrete, in order to foot (foot = walk, geddit?) the stands for this urban extravaganza, some of the paths do have to be widened, and so the council of District 11 (did E@L tell everyone he lives in District 11?) has decided it is an opportune time to build over many of the open drains which festoon the area. Shame! These rain-water runoffs do not sit filled with noisome stagnant "water" as in many other SEA cities (Bangkok, Jakarta, take a bow) but act efficiently when the downpour hits, and their lusty bubbling sounds are most restful E@L finds, from the shelter of his umbrella as he trudges in sodden sandals down the slight rise from Spooky Mansion* on Gilstead Rd. Hardly any of the children from the adjacent kindergarten fall in and get washed away, never to be seen or heard from again. Those open spaces are often the homes to well-rooted trees of prodigious size and they really add to the indiscrete charm of this bourgeois part of town. E@L will miss them (the trees, the gutters, the bourgeoisie), as he often does, fortunately, when rolling home mostly inebriated and partially disoriented from a night at various pub trivia events (his sole social encounterings these long, wearying days).



But E@L's sense of outrage is actually more of political and economic nature, and the prior observations are demonstrative of mild (indeed hypothetical) inconveniences to himself. Grumpy E@L Syndrome. Something akin to the infamous existential angst the great German writer Thomas Mann experienced when confronted (y-fronted) by the inconvenience that No.4 size underpants were too small, and No.5 size underpants too big. "Acid indigestion and constipation!" he exclaimed.


The true cause of E@L's adversarial stance to these structures is their demonstration of the outlandish profligacy of governmental expenditure - viz: it must cost a fucking fortune. Yes, surprise surprise surprise, the Singapore Gahmen has shit-loads of money. Obviously. Money to spend on completely unnecessary projects like these. (Take a fucking umbrella, people. You live in the fucking tropics! It's either going to be fucking hot, or fucking hot AND fucking raining at 2pm!)

Point being: they could be allocating this money elsewhere - especially social welfare (how many aunties and uncles cleaning up after in hawker centres for a pittance because they have no other income, or a living pension, or family support?), and a minimum wage... The Gahmen can complain about the loss of billions on bad investments, yet still have money floating around to fund grandiose extension to the MRT systems (already brilliant) and these dicky-little footpath covers. Jaysus!


Singapore political blogger Yawning Bread recently asks the question as to why would a country feel proud that hawker food is really cheap, and answers that it should be a national embarrassment that many Singaporeans don't make enough money to afford anything more elaborate. Hawker food for Singaporeans could be thought of (if it wasn't so brilliant) as the equivalent of what Maccas is for the indigent and for poor families in other countries. YB's issue is that lack of a minimum wage is screwing the spread of income, and income disparity is the underlying reason for cheap food in hawker centres.

Maybe we ought to be ashamed of our hawker prices and food court scene. The contradiction between the wide demand for cheap food and the high per-capita GDP suggests something really wrong with income and wealth distribution in Singapore.


When E@L hit the town in 2004, he purchased the most brilliant laksa he had ever had for $2.50. Now, 15 years later, in certain stalls in certain hawker centres, he can buy an equally damn good laksa for, maybe, $4.00. The YB link above cites a article on a hawker stall where the $1 price of a nasi lemak has remained unchanged for 32 years. You can't tell E@L that costs of producing this deal of a meal haven't risen extortionately.

And people says there's such a thing as progress!


Mind you, since certain changes *cough* have progressed (regressed?) at work, E@L's salary is not a million miles/dollar from what it was in 2004, and in fact it is a tad reduced from those yawning heights, plus he doesn't get business class flights on long hauls anymore. Even so, he remains a (slightly less) ridiculously overpaid expat, dragging away employment opportunities from locals, and he can go to Woolies and rack up a $200 bill in a heart-beat. (You can too, rich reader!)

Or E@L can get a taxi to a hawker centre, as has often done, which may seem perverse ($15 ride to get a $10 feast - including a large Tiger) when the MRT and buses are so cheap and convenient.

There is a bipolar wage level in Singapore... Income disparity. Do we blame capitalism, fascism, the PAP/Gahmen/Lee family, cult of personality, Thomas Picketty, Obama, Reagan & Thatcher & Malcolm Fraser, cultural Marxbrothersism, libertarianism, communism, Ismism?

Or do we blame "foreign talent" such as


*Spooky House.

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