On the way home, I saw that the tepid weather, steamed by bouts of half-hearted showers, had unleashed swarms of flying ants that swirled in festering clouds of tribute to amber Asherath poles. I can't remember the last time there was such an evening awash in flights of formicid frenzy. Amorous alates engage in midair copulation to spawn a milliard of new sterile sisterserfs who will plague picnickers and pasty-faced chefs till kingdom come. Such days of barometric dips affect not only social insects; the sudden storms also bring forth a wave of epiphytic blooms, as unwanted and unnoticed Dendrobiums shed their shell of green for a brief dance in dovish white that fades long before the next rise of moonlight.
I am certainly glad we don't stay in Toa Payoh. My weak duck heart wouldn't be able to take the periodic tremors that trouble those shaky parts. Nor would I like to share the anxiety of the uncle who was interviewed on TV describing how his fish tank shook and the water went asplash onto the floor. Unlike the solid granite formations of Mount Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh is an estate misbegotten on the tomb of an ancient wetland, a fact forgotten by many despite the no-brainer syncretism of its Hokkien-Malay moniker, which simply means "big swamp." As that old hymn goes, "all other ground is sinking sand".... well, not quite sand, but I am sure much quartz was poured in to drown the peaty sediments of east-central Singapore before the piling began. Alas, geology claims a belated revenge of sorts, channelling the vibes of distant fault-lines to the homely corners of HDB heartlands, interrupting the slumber of hundreds of day-shifters, a seismic reminder that this island dwells in a volatile rim of fire. These days though, our carbon-spurting economy is more likely to suffer the asthmatic aftershocks of forest fires than the mile-high eruptions of Krakatoan vulcans.
Up north in the peninsula, the ghosts of lost marshes are inflicting a different lesson to those who suffer a compulsion to drain every hectare of fresh water. Is it not a simple, worthy task to take a useless swamp that sits on a bed of immature coal and bleed it dry so that one might build a spanking new housing estate upon its lifeless soil? Why bother to factor in the cost of having to remove the embedded layers of organic matter that make such plots a sparkplug of subterranean combustion? But just think, if we had to add in the cost of digging up and removing all the peat before developing the land, there wouldn't be any profit left!
To me, 'barrage' conjures images of destructive artillery fire upon trenches of frail manflesh. Visionary hopes of a freshwater marina bulwarked by ambition and propelled by impressive buzz notwithstanding, I was pondering the upstream significance of an immense catchment by the bay. While a designated nature reserve and admirably protected by no less than Singapore's finest in number fours, the Nee Soon swamp, the island's last bastion of Sundalandic biodiversity, faces a future determined by environmental engineers and urban planners who know little about natural water tables and carbon sinks. What would be the likely drainage impact of this massive flood mitigator and leisure lake upon the living sponge that cools this island's torrid hills, saving them from a mightier heat or worse, the flame of dry spells? Could any visiting biologist or geographer care to comment?
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Some bloggers have written on the evidently sincere guy who risked a lifetime of multi-racial wrath to say (at a forum graced by a cabinet member of Indian origin) that inter-racial relationships threaten to dilute the racial heritage of proud cultures. I share the view of most webtizens that Herr Adolf Tan deserves no less than severe disparagement for his internalisation of Mein Kampf. However, as the virtual gadfly Agagooga (in a comment left on this blog) rightly noted, issuing a silencing tide of boos, as performed by the campus crowd, is no way to fight a racist. Nothing is achieved other than humiliating our local nazi and driving his spiritual comrades towards less vocal but no less potent expressions of their bigotry. Instead of telling him to just shut up, wouldn't it serve the cause of reason to engage this Chinese Aryan and reveal the moral and scientific vacuity of
social engineering eugenics, that neophytes to the dirty world of idea-mongering may recognise the ugly truths of ethnically-defined policies? Or might it be that the discussion of such facts strike too close to home for comfort?