Author Archive

Hands off our internet


It took this to reanimate matulos. So it’s important.

Not content with having the least free press in the “developed” world, our beloved leaders have decided that the intertubes must be equally crippled. At their discretion of course.

This is not on. Show your displeasure at the appointed time and place.

That is all.

Categories: pol

It’s raining again

Apropos of the last post: Today, with fairly mild and persistent rain since last night, there are nice big patches of water where one doesn’t normally see them, like Upper Serangoon Road (fed by a puddle in the former cemetery), Bendemeer Road (nice muddy stuff coming off the construction site @ City View @ Boon Keng), and Sam Leong Road.

No pix, sorry, but here’s one from last July.

Say, aren’t BMWs supposed to have perfect 50/50 weight distribution? Oh well…

I hope Delft Hydraulics wrote themselves a nice get-out-of-future-disputes letter when the fingers start getting pointed in earnest. These are not the letters you are looking for.

Categories: climate, flood

Venice of the East

( alt title: A series of unfortunate experiments, item 6224* )

So the Minister for the Environment has determined that the flood incident at Orchard Rd was “caused by an intense storm”. Let’s dive below the surface (groan) of this statement and see where a bit of arithmetic might lead us to. This could be a PSLE maths question some day.

Boon or bane? We report, you decide.
(photo credit: Green Future / Flickr)

The PUB’s webpage on Marina Barrage ( is most informative. From there, we learn that the barrage has a catchment area of 10,000 hectares, and that during high tide, “giant pumps which are capable of pumping an Olympics-size swimming pool per minute will drain excess storm water into the sea”.

The Minister also acknowledged in Parliament (9 Feb 2009) that any litter thrown into canals in areas as far upstream as Ang Mo Kio will end up in the Marina Reservoir.

Let’s do some sums to see how this works out when it rains. Read more…

Cautious equipment

Well, this is a break from a break, but we all need those sometimes.

The following sign was spotted today at the inlet stack of a swimming pool complex. What does it mean?

Hmm… maybe it means that right now, there is a piece of personal protective equipment, which is conducting chemical charging in a cautious manner. Well done, equipment! Give that hard-working equipment a pat on the back for being cautious. It’s real small, too. Couldn’t see any sign of it around the, er, sign.

Then again, if the equipment is so smart, we wouldn’t need it to be protecting a person. It could be a chemical charging-bot or something instead, right?

For some more clues, let’s look at the sign which appears just above:

That makes slightly more sense. “Before you do chemicals charging here, go find some cautious personal protective equipment and put it on first.” But since we already know it can do the charging all by itself, it might treat you as… superfluous and make an… exception to its personal protective capabilities.

Matulos, stop being so literally-bloody-minded, you say! Obviously, that word Cautious is meant to be Caution. Duh!

Sorry, can’t help myself.

And now back to your regular programming.

Categories: engrish Tags: , ,

Stop ACTA now (updated)

And now a break from our transport obsession focus, to look at the fascinating subject of international copyright law.

What is ACTA? It’s the worst thing to happen to the internet since C14Li5 ads. Actually, even worse than that – you can delete spam, but if ACTA is implemented, it’ll be like a rootkit for all your legal systems. Good luck deleting it at that point.


Stop the madness


ACTA – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – is a multilateral (many nations) treaty being secretly negotiated now between 38 or so countries including the US, various EU states, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and… Singapore. You might guess from the title that it’s all about stopping fake designer handbags from being sold as the real thang (TM), or melamine milk powder (think of the children!).

You would guess wrong, because those laudable objectives are cover for the real and far more nefarious purpose: pushing US copyright law across the whole world through the backdoor (Bahasa Melayu: “main belakang”), brought to you by the content distribution industries.

The proposed terms include:

  • enhanced border searches for infringing materials – make sure you are carrying all the receipts or CDs for those tracks on your iPod or phone or computer
  • mandatory criminal sanctions for copyright infringement
  • forcing ISPs to monitor users for copyright infringment and hand over their details to copyright holders
  • three-strikes internet disconnection for suspected – NOT convicted – copyright infringers.

Allow me to explain how this is equal to legislating through the backdoor.

Normally, for those of you with parliamentary lawmaking factories, laws are introduced by the party in power, debated, amended and then voted on in public. Of course, the parliamentary drafting has lately been outsourced to interested industry groups, but that is just an instance of garbage in, garbage out.

BUT – if said industry group can finagle a treaty among countries to implement certain laws to its liking – why then, that international treaty overrides local laws. And each government can go home to its peasants, er constituents, and claim “but we must implement this as the law of the land because we are obliged to honour our treaty obligations under international law! Think of the childrenz!!!111”. And so the treaty takes effect in all countries which signed up (38, remember).

But don’t just take it from me. Here’s the expert opinion:

Michael Geist, including a disappointing yet not unentirely unexpected reference to Singapore’s desire for opacity. What, you may wonder, could be the quid pro quo from the US in return for this client state advocacy of the head office’s preferred position?

Geist’s ACTA timeline (warning: slightly painful colour scheme)

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Free Software Foundation

New York Times

Washington Post

Der Speigel (Googlefied auf Englisch)

This is a distributed denial of service attack done in the shadows, like so many scurrying roaches.

What can you do to stop it?

– Complain to your elected representatives (if any, haha) or your nominated executive body involved in the negotiations. In Singapore, the whole deal is all so sooper sekrit, it’s hard to tell whether that should be Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs, IPOS, or what? Just get hold of them all.

Spread the word

– (long shot) Write to your favourite content-distribution company and tell them that if they manage to get ACTA passed, you will stop buying their products. I’m putting this in the long shot category because an industry that sues its customers in an attempt to maintain its obsoleted business model is hardly going to be interested in said customers’ feedback, but your mileage may vary.

Get to it!

UPDATE 2010/06/20: The Free Software Foundation has published a firm, simple declaration on ACTA which you can sign. Of course this link is to the explanation of why the declaration is needed, after which you can jump to the declaration itself. What, you don’t expect to sign stuff on the Internet blindly, do you?

Minister admits error in Parliament, 2nd minister denies it outside

Admittedly, that’s not the way these two stories were spun by the mainscream media. But that’s how it went down.

Recap: The car floodgates were thrown open in 2004 when the “forecast” deregistrations were kicked into, um, overdrive and the COE presses went pedal to the metal. Upton Sinclair strikes again (see top right of this here blog): all that yummy excise tax and licences and permits from the extra cars would have been so hard to pass up, don’t you think.


Another lovely day on the roads
(Credit: lynac –

Read more…

Categories: transport Tags: , , ,

US Supreme Court decrees one dollar one vote

Not in so many words of course. But that is the impact nonetheless, so the 2.3 centuries of pretending that the system is all about one person one vote are over.

I can’t see any problems here…
Photo credits: Turkinator,

To see why, click on. Read more…

Categories: pol Tags: , , , ,