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Archive for December, 2007

Too many people

Monday, December 10th, 2007

“In 1800 less than 3% of the world lived in cities. Most people lived their entire lives without ever seeing one

In 1900, 150 million people lived in the world’s cities. That number has now surged past 3 million and last year crossed another tipping point: more than half the people on Earth now live in cities. By 2050 — it will be more than 2/3 of us. Humans are now an urban species, cramming into vast urban agglomerations.”

192021.org [192021.org]

192021.org is an interesting site. An organization dedicated to dealing will all aspects of the urbanization of the human population of the Earth. It is mind boggling to think that more than 3 billion people live in cities — more than half the worlds population lives in cities.

I live in Singapore, one of the cities that 192021.org notes will have more than 20 million people living in it sometime in the 21st century — that is assuming that global warming does not cause the ocean to rise an wipe Singapore off the map completely. But I grew up on the very outskirts of the suburbs of a very small city, less than 40 thousand people! I enjoyed, still enjoy, wide open spaces, trees, mountains, fields of green growing things, the singing of bugs at night and birds in the day. I hope to be able to return to wide open spaces one day. I don’t want to call 20 million people neighbor.

Taxi Rage

Friday, December 7th, 2007

I can’t stand the cab system in Singapore.

It constantly drives me crazy. Between cab drivers who don’t understand, very simple, slowly spoken English, cab drivers who can’t get the car out of second gear –even on the expressway– and the classic ‘can show me? I new driver lah. Don’t know. Sorry!’ (which translates to either, ‘I can’t understand your accent’ or ‘I don’t know my way around Singapore.’)

I just spent… oh, 36 minutes by the clock on my phone, on the corner of my block (a major road by the way) trying to hail a taxi. During that time about 150 to 200 cabs went by. I finally gave up and just called off going to meet some mates for a drink because I’m too mad at this point about the whole cab system here in Singapore.

Why? Because it’s the most fucked up cab system I’ve ever been forced to use. To be honest I don’t really like cabs in general, but it’s the most efficient way to get around Singapore most of the day (with the exception of closing times: office closing times (about 6 in Singapore,) shop closing time (about 9pm) and bar closing time (which stretches from about midnight to 3am.)

Unfortunately for me my 36 minutes minutes falls just before midnight. So after 36 minutes standing on the street corner like some gigello with my arm saluting mein fuehrer I still did not have a cab. About 70% of the cabs I saw were hired. Another 20% were ‘on call.’ Which still leave about 10% but it’s the cabs in that 10% that make me so mad.

I saw one guy, in a blue Hyundai ‘comfort cab’ go around the block four times with his for hire sign on talking on his mobile.

I saw one guy in a while Mercedes cab pass me three times looking right at me and then keep driving. This is typical… they see a white guy and they assume if they circle the block he will call for a cab and they can get an extra four bucks for call.

Several other cabs with their for hire signs illuminated just speed on by like I did not exist — no doubt waiting for a call since it’s cab rush hour.

At least six cabs turned their ‘for hire’ sign off, or switched to ‘busy’ (which I assume means ‘I really need to take a crap… so I can’t pick anyone up.’) when they saw me. I guess they forgot to switch the roof signal off when the last passenger got out.

A bunch of cabs were on ‘shift change.’ Which is the biggest socialist nanny state screw up I’ve ever dealt with! Shift change came about because cab drivers say they can’t make enough money (cab rental is paid by the day, at least by most divers) so several guys team up to share a single cab. This means that, for example, one guy drives during the day for eight hour, then switches with another guy who drives for eight hour. The second guy switches with a third guy for the last 8 hours and the third guy returns the car to the first guy. The problem is that when they are going to switch drivers drivers will only pick you up if you are going somewhere near where they are switching with the other driver. Inevitably these guys don’t switch anywhere near town and so they are all headed to the Singapore boondocks for the switch. Which means 90% of the time they are not going your direction, but they still pull over to ask. And it never fails that while they are asking and then saying ‘no thanks’ to you empty, not of shift change cabs pass right by! This will make a kind, tree-hugging, bleeding heart liberal into a Nazi who wants to euthanize all the cab drivers in Singapore in oh, about 2 seconds.

And then… there are the cabs who do stop. But not for me. It went down like this (and this is typical): A couple or group walking along the side walk will pass me or come out of the door next to me, look at me and walk down the side walk against traffic. There they will wait, 20 meters from me for a cab! And every time they get a damn cab! Tonight there were 4 times this happened. First a group of four party kids (2 girls and 2 guys) dressed in bright colors, then a couple both in all blue and black, then a woman and her 2 kids and maid, and finally a couple of guys in way too tight cloths! 3 of the 4 groups got cabs that were dropping someone else off, all of them came to the sidewalk after me and all of them clearly saw me… in fact everyone but the mom looked at me as the cab drove off like it was a big joke.

The last straw was the silver cab that pulled up about five meters from me to drop some guy off and then after I walked over and before the guy got out pulled back into the street and drove on 20 meters to drop the guy off. As soon as the guy got out another guy standing there got in.

Un–fucking–believable.

They just busted a bunch of taxi drivers here for running an off-the-meter racket. Nights like tonight make me want to get tickets to see them caned. (We’ll not really…)

American Business

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

“The appearance of motion: it’s sad, wouldn’t you say, when this is what American business has come to.”

Robert X. Cringely, from “When Netowkrs Collide: AT&T suddenly doesn’t like Apple so much.” [pbs.org].

Back once again…

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I never posted anything to indicate that I was away so in retrospect I should announce that Candice and I (finally) went on our oft postponed Honeymoon to Italy in November. Thee weeks of Roman and Catholic ruins, good food and wine, and of course more Madonna and Child and Adoration of the Magi paintings than you can shake a stick at… But more on that in the next week or so as I get the photos cleaned up. I’ll save the adventures (and one major mis-adventure) for future posts. In this post it is suffice to say that we are back in action in Singapore.