Archive for January 21st, 2010
I do love National Geographic. If you don’t read it each month, you should! The January 2010 edition of National Geographic is loaded with articles that will transport you all over the world. You can learn about a sublime Scottish island, you can learn of the bionic limbs in cochlear implants, and you can learn how the clown fish is imperiled in the wake of the movie “Nemo.”
I’d like to report on two other articles today. The first one is about the island nation of Singapore, which achieved independence from the British in 1963. How did Singapore become modern-day Singapore, where the per capita income for its 3.7 million citizens is better than that of many Western countries? it’s an exceedingly clean city where 90% of households own their own home. Its unemployment rate is only 3%. All of this was the plan long ago. Lee Kuan Yew, who has been officially or unofficially in charge of the country for more than 40 years. He was educated in London, and then came back home to make English the official language of Singapore–he also had a business plan and it paid off well. He is a hardliner in many ways, including cracking down on governmental corruption “until it disappeared.” Now that sounds like a good idea. Consider, also, that anyone dropping even a cigarette butt or a candy wrapper in Singapore can be fined $200. If you are caught a second time, you will be sentenced to walk around picking up other people’s trash. Now there’s another good idea. Why do we tolerate people who dump their trash in public areas in America?
Tthe Government of Singapore works very hard to make sure that its own citizens live outstanding moral lives. There is a new casino going up in Singapore, and the casino will roll out the red rug for foreign visitors (so that Singapore will make money off of them), but the casino charges a $70 fee to people from Singapore to discourage them from gambling.
The National Geographic indicates that Singapore’s population control program is “overly successful.” Despite bonuses being offered by the government for having babies, the Singapore birth rate is at less than replacement value. It seems that they are too busy working. “Singapore’s have less intercourse than almost any other country on earth” An influx of immigrants keep the population from shrinking, allowing the plant to continue: “giddy financial growth fueling never ending construction and consumerism.”
A separate article called “restless spirits” explores the beliefs many Chinese people have with regard to an afterlife. There is a lot of good information here. I found it interesting that among the valuables (such as a bottle of alcohol or a pack of cigarettes) some Chinese people have included “paper grave money for use in the afterlife, the bills bearing a watermark that said,’The Bank of Heaven Co., Ltd..’” I also learned that many Chinese believe that their their ancestors took on bureaucratic duties. They keep the dead busy in Chinese heaven!
Back in the Shang dynasty (more than 1000 years ago), the Chinese sacrificed human victims to placate the ancestors. More than 1,200 sacrificial pits have been found, most of these containing human remains. Some of the inscriptions found in the graves indicate that the Chinese were asking their dead ancestors to make offerings of their own to even higher order powers. This article is full of interesting insights about Chinese police regarding the afterlife.
I placed the NG links for the above articles. Beware, though, that the online versions of the articles are abridged versions of the print versions.