Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Steven Speilberg thought he was being mighty clever by filming "Memoirs of a Geisha" and, well, he was right. Probably will be a good movie. However, he pissed off the Japanese by not putting a single Japanese actress in a lead role. Instead, he put Chinese actresses in. This pissed off the Chinese because... well... they remember comfort women.

I'm kind of with the Japanese on this: I mean I've never read the book, but is it a martial arts adventure? Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh, both have acted in lots of action movies, including "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Was there not a single Japanese actress available who could play a geisha?

Well, perhaps the all-French remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" will go over well in heartland America as well? Oh! I know: A movie version of Broadway's "1776" with an all-Saudi cast! Bollywood does "Huckleberry Finn"? Well, maybe the Japanese will get even and do a remake of "All Quiet On The Western Front." That'll make a point.

Wish I Had Been There

I was reading last night about Max's Kansas City. It used to be a bar in New York City in the late 60's and early 70's (and now is a charity for artists) where everybody and anybody who was somebody (and equally — going to be somebody) used to hang out.

Counterculture celebrities (and real celebrities) partied side by side here: Andy Warhol at a table with a coterie of artists and gender-benders a few yards away from Mick Jagger, while the then-unknown Iggy Pop and David Bowie shared eyeliner tips. (Imagine Lou Reed and Patty Smyth sharing a dube in the can with Dennis Hopper and Warren Beatty.)

Maybe the nostalgia is creeping in. Maybe the grandiosity of the place is inflated in the retelling. Maybe Warhol only occupied "his regular table" once or twice a year, and maybe Mick's second (and last) visit qualified him as a "regular" for the history books. Maybe 99 nights out of 100, the place was half-filled by the ragtag forerunners of the same forver-nobodies that populate the Jaffa Café today: Interesting... but not legendary.

But I'll ponder that no further: I'll choose to think of Max's Kansas City as a place constantly populated by the elite of the Psychadelic age, where Kennedys — both real and figurative — rubbed elbows with transvestites and junkies even on Tuesday afternoons; where Bruce Springstein and Billy Joel stepped nervously onto the stage to entertain John Lennon and Allen Ginsberg with the first songs of their careers on some otherwise nondescript Wednesday night.

I like my glossed-over version of history better because, while it may or may not have ever been possible 40 years ago, it certainly is impossible today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Big Mistake

I made a major mistake at work:

In order to do a dictation, a doctor picks up the phone and starts punching in numbers, including the medical record number, before starting his dictation. When I open the job, all that is there is the medical record number. I click on a button, and all of the patient information associated with that medical record number is loaded into the document.

Well, this doctor, after having punched in all the numbers, apparently lost track of what he was doing, and in between punching in numbers, and starting his dictation, he changed patients on me, and I never noticed.

(To the doctor's credit, he did dictate the new MR# and the new patient name... but I didn't notice, as I was too busy doing other transcription-associated things at that moment.)

Anyway, in the realm of transcription mistakes, this one ranks near the top, and results in an instant "Corrective Action" form being filled out.

In other words, a written warning for my employee record... but I'll call it "Strike One".

Bummed Out

Just sitting down to start work after my "midnight break" (noontime here), and all the good work is gone. What's the first job of the day? An 18-minute dictation from inaudible, incomprehensible Dr. Zhang on an acute pancreatitis.


At least I can stare at the coconut trees, flowers, and cool breeze gently stirring the water in the swimming pool while I suffer through this and remind myself what I do lets me be where I am.

The Best Medicine

Do you remember the last time in your life when you laughed so hard that tears rolled down your cheeks and you couldn't breathe?

Took laughs like that at least once a day... usually at things on TV like midget Thai boxers and people accidentally falling in pools or getting hit with pies.

Well, being the best medicine, she'll live to be 100.

(As the sound of her laughing inspired this post, I had to go in and see what she was watching: Sure enough... it was a Chris Farley movie.)

A Common Sight

Is it just me, or are all the cars in Thailand silver, or some other metallic, silver-like color? I asked Took, and she said that silver is the "polite color." Heheh... wonder if that comes in handy when it is time to show your nonexistant insurance papers at the scene of an accident?And in case you are wondering, these photos were shot about 7 minutes apart. I took the first one in the parking lot of Friendship Supermarket... and the second one on the way home from there.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The New Harry Potter Movie

I didn't particular care for the last movie... Prisoner of Azkaban for the same reason I didn't particularly care for this movie: Huge parts of the movie were left unexplained due to time constraints.

OK people: You are making a movie for 12-year-olds. You need to explain stuff. If I had never read the books, I wouldn't have understood half of this movie. JK Rowling explained it in the books, why couldn't they explain it in the movie?

Oh... and if you happen to be Mike Newell, director of Goblet of Fire, reading this and you want to write and tell me that all of that info couldn't have been fit into a 2 hour movie, well I sort of agree with you... but the question is this: If you increased the length of the movie to 3 hours do you think any of the 3 zillion people who went to see it would have complained? Do you think that the $1 billion profit this movie is going to bring in would have suffered greatly by spending another $100 million for an extra hour of movie to include all of the information contained in the book?

My advice? Read the book. At least read the book before you see the movie.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Suksan Wan Gut!

Today was Bobby's third birthday party. Bobby is Steve's son.

Lessee... there were clowns who made pretty good balloon animals. This was definitely a hit with the Thai ladies, who (as always) live for brightly-colored plastic things of all types.

Mem (Steve's wife) got a very cool poodle with sunglasses, while Took got a pink panther. The whole thing got carried away when all the girls started placing take-out orders so they could bring home balloons to their friends. There was a magician too... but the kids lost interest when he let half a dozen doves fly around the room... the kids were running around trying to catch them. Oh... the feathers on the floor afterwards were a sad sight.

Bobby loves all things from Hot Wheels. I wish my parents had the common sense to invite all their friends to my birthday parties when I was a kid. Bobby (and Steve, whom I suspect likes Hot Wheels at least as much as Bobby) made out like a bandit. By the time that I got to Tesco Lotus' toy department, the entire Hot Wheels stock was sold out.

Steve's brother lives with his family up in Bangkok, and his parents (Bobby's grandparents) spend a lot of time in Thailand going back and forth between their houses. Steve's mother (upper left), is a retired teacher from New York, just like my mother.

...and like a pinhead, I didn't get a single photo of Bobby, the birthday boy.

Thanksgiving x2

Took and I went to Bob's for Thanksgiving dinner, where he had an all-you-can-eat buffet of smoked turkey, cornbread stuffing, et cetera, et cetera. There were about 50 people there, and I had a good time eating dinner with all my friends.

On Saturday, Rick from Margaritavilla had a Thanksgiving dinner of his own, with deep-fried turkey, Stove Top stuffing (a fave from my childhood), et cetera, et cetera.

Photo of Richard (left) and Reeza's Mike (second from left) sitting outside Margaritavilla before dinner was served.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Off To The Circus!

The Royal London Circus has been in town for a month performing, so Took and I went last night. First we stopped by Margaritavilla for a drink and chatted with Gene (who is back in town), Rick, and Robin. Then it was out to Zen, a new Japanese restaurant on the third (fourth) floor of Royal Garden Plaza, which was quite nice... although you really have to scour their menu to find an unfish thing to eat.

Then it was off to the circus!

Circus rule #1: Cotton candy in Thailand's heat and humidity has a shelf life of exactly 45 minutes. After that, it melts down to a block of pink sugar.

Circus rule #2: If you are going to call yourself the Royal London Circus, you have to have an Englishman in the show. What we saw was the Moscow Circus, under new management. Even the ringleader was Russian. (Even more odd, the taped voices that played in certain parts of the performance spoke english with American accents.) The horse trainer was Indian, and there were Chinese acrobats, but other than that, all the names were "Andre and Tatiana!", "The Sergitov Brothers!" and names like that.

Circus rule #3: Thai girls love big pink punchy balloons on long rubber bands more than life itself.

So Took got a punchy balloon, I got a bag of soon-to-be-something-other-than cotton candy (although Thailand goes with the British nomenclature, "candy floss" which I think is a crappy name compared to cotton candy). Then we took our front-row seats.

Yes... we were quite close. We were so close that the chalk from the trapeze artists was snowing down on us; so close we were could smell the horses; so close we coughed from the exhaust from the motorcycles.

So close, I wound up with the worst stiff neck from craning my neck up at all the aerial artists... damn. (Fortunately Took managed to rub it out pretty well during the intermission.)

Took had a wonderful time. She acted like she had never seen a trapeze act before... gasping and clapping right from the beginning.
The horses were kind of lame, but they managed to stand still long enough to take a photo with my even lamer camera phone.These Chinese acrobats were a lot of fun. They came out twice, the first time juggling straw hats, which was cool... and this was their second act. Took liked them a lot also. The grand finale was the Cage of Death™ motorcycle thingy. Seen it... yawn... 3 motorcycles inside a sphere going round and round... yup. Well: They did it with 5 motorcycles. I have to say, that was cool. Like I said, I was close enough, and I actually saw two of the riders helmets hit each other... but I suppose that they are used to that.

Anyway, I tried taking photos of the motorcycles in motion, but they are all just blurs, so I'm putting up this picture of them standing still.

Now, it's the next morning, and Took is in the kitchen telling Go all about the circus, so it was definitely worth the $11 tickets to go... even I had a great time. I'm going to have to take the big balloon away from her though, as she is running around the house bouncing it and laughing yelling "barskitbarl!"

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Question Is Do You Know Why This Is Funny?

But Buddha isn't actually Buddha. I thought Buddha was the big fat guy... but Buddha means enlightened... I don't know who the fat guy is, but a thin guy named Sid Arthur started it all.
— Eddie Izzard

Random Rambling

Being Thanksgiving... the day after Thanksgiving... nobody has gone to the doctor in at least a day. Nobody will be going to the doctor for another 2 days.

There is no work to do. (Well, unless I want to try to transcribe Dr. Rasfanjani dictating brain surgery with a mouth full of turkey.)

Well that gave me the opportunity to watch some of the bootleg DVD's that I bought the other night.

But my DVD player seems to have busted.

Well that gave me the opportunity to take the motorcycle down to be fixed, as the horn seems to have stopped working.

But the police stopped me for going the wrong way on a one way street.

The police are funny in Thailand: They let everybody break the law for years and years... until everybody is driving both ways on this one particular street... to the point where nobody even realizes that the street is actually a one-way street. Then the police come out and give everybody tickets.

Well, I suppose it's lucrative.

So $5 and 20 minutes later after a trip to the police headquarters, I was on my way again.

In related news, all the traffic lights that were turned off have been turned back on again... but this time without the counters. (When the light turned red, a digital readout below it would count down from 140+ seconds, which gave everybody the opportunity to find ways to avoid the red lights —or just say 'screw it' and drive through the red light.) Well, I suppose it is safer than not having any traffic lights at all.

And here ends the most rambling boring post ever on this blog.

Messing With Minds

It's fun to keep Took guessing about how much Thai I actually know. Sometimes she tries to test me by asking me if I know a Thai word. I always say it means some English word that she hasn't learned yet. That confuses her:

Took: "How do you say [some Thai word I don't know] in English?"

Me: "Agile."

Took: "What is ag... ag-eye... what did you say?"

Me: "I said [some Thai word I don't know]."

Took: "No... what does it mean in English?"

Me: "It means agile. I don't know what else it means."

Took: "Oh."

Then she goes and looks it up in the dictionary and comes back 10 minutes later and punches me in the arm.

Friday Cat Blogging

Bad Kitties (2:00 p.m.)

Good Kitties (3:00 p.m.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Death Penalty

Generally, I'm a supporter of the death penalty... but not strongly. Or, I should say was a supporter of the death penalty, as this story changed my mind.
Four days after a Bexar County jury delivered its verdict, Cantu wrote this letter to the residents of San Antonio: "My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years old. I got to the 9th grade and I have been framed in a capital murder case."

A dozen years after his execution, a Houston Chronicle investigation suggests that Cantu, a former special-ed student who grew up in a tough neighborhood on the south side of San Antonio, was likely telling the truth.

If the justice system was perfect, I would have no problem with the government killing the worst of the worst. I thought, at least in death penalty cases, the worst that we could do is kill a man who "most certainly did it"... maybe a little doubt about the details, but the general findings of the case were correct. That gave me pause, but not enough to switch me from pro to anti. However, this guy was executed for a crime he almost certainly wasn't even present for. That is as much a crime as the original crime itself, and now that I know such a thing has happened... and I am aware of it, I can no longer support the death penalty.

Yes... I am sure that you can e-mail me stories of this happening before, and if you had e-mailed them to me before I read this article, it would have changed my mind as well. But if there are stories like that out there, I didn't know about them. Now I do. I was never that strong a supporter of the death penalty. Now, I'm against it... not rabidly so, but against it nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ahem... But

CNN HEADLINE: Guilty of sex with [exceptionally lucky] student, [hot and sexy] teacher avoids prison.

IN RELATED NEWS: 14-year-old boy voted coolest male on earth by rest of male population for actually getting to live out every male's #1 boyhood dream.

Bilateral Boycott

This is rare.

First, the left wing boycotts Target because one of their pharmacists decided not to fill a prescription for "Plan B" abortifactant on religious grounds.

Now, the right wing boycotts Target because they don't allow Salvation Army buckets or the saying "Merry Christmas" at their stores.

(And I'm boycotting Walmart because they just suck.)

Interesting: The word history of "boycott".



Man, it's chilly this morning. I'm now to the point where the low 90's is just right.


I love reading my daily lineup of blogs (found on the right-side column on this page). However, now that there is Republican political blood in the water, a lot of the liberal blogs have just gotten to be exceptionally shrill.

"George Bush goes to Mongolia? What a loser."

That kind of thing.

The dialogue has gone from "How can we explain why Bush and the Republicans are a disaster?" to "What bad things can we say about Bush and the Republicans (and I need links to back me up)?"

Don't get me wrong... I still read the blogs faithfully, but I find myself skipping the articles that are obviously just manic rants of joy about how after years of blogging, payday has finally arrived.

Andrew Sullivan has managed to remain thoughtful and focused, and hasn't gone off the deep end... but he's basically conservative. He just has enough brain and honesty to recognize mistakes (his own and those of his political heroes) and ponder on them. The other conservative bloggers just make up excuses for the mistakes, look right past them, or (the only intellectually honest approach) explain why they aren't mistakes at all.

Well, to be honest, I'd rather have my favorite liberal blogs be shrill and vapid because the Republican powerhouse is collapsing, as compared to going back to, say, 2002... when "questioning the war makes you a traitor to America" was the rule of the day. (Remember the Dixie Chicks?)

Still though, in 12 or 13 months, when Democrats take back congress, I hope that the liberal writers can do something better than "neener neener."


"While the Democrats are focusing on how we were misled to war, Bush is focusing on how to mislead us out of it.

If we were wrong about why we went in, we have to be wrong about why we're leaving. Otherwise it sends our enemies the message that America lacks the will to remain incorrect."

Rob Corddry on The Daily Show

Light Blogging

I'm working extra hard for the next two weeks, so my blogging level — especially that of the bar scene — will be somewhat lower.

I've told myself since time immemorial that if I could just sit down and bust my ass for 2 weeks solid, I'd have enough money to buy all the stoopit stuff that I want... gold, gems, pool table, motorcycle, plasma TV, apartment filled with 4 mia nois... things like that.

(or at least enough money to pick one from that list)

So that's what I'm doing: Working for a change. Working for more than 3 hours a day for a change. Boring yes... but I'm sure that the mia noi (if I ever find one) will be thrilled.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I have 3 weeks of vacation time that I have to use before mid-April of 2006. With my tax refund coming, I can afford to go anywhere on earth I want to go to. I just have absolutely no idea of where to go. Rio for Carnaval would be nice. A jaunt around Europe is a possibility. Maybe I'll just tour Asia.

When you live in a tropical resort party town, thinking of places to go isn't easy.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This Is Cool

A list of the 100 oldest websites on the internet.


Stickman was noting in his weekly column that a lot of people commit suicide in Pattaya. It's true... although I disagree with Stickman that they are at all fishy (as in maybe murders disguised as jumps from extremely high places).

I have my own opinion as to why there are so many suicides in Pattaya.

A lot of people view Pattaya as a final hurrah... the last stop in life. They come here to live out the final months of a terminal illness, to make a temporary but final escape from dire situations elsewhere, or from just a general sense of despiration or depression. Whatever the specific reason, many people here consider themselves to be at the end of the line. They come here for one final blowout before ending things. It's simple: If you know that your life is ending, what better place than Pattaya to get one final rush of life before moving on to the hereafter?

Another reason is that many people choose death over leaving Pattaya. After living here for years, faced with the proposition of going back to the humdrum of farangland, many choose death. I know personally of 2 people who made that choice. Pattaya is life with the volume turned up to 11. It's hard for some people to fathom going on with life at any lesser level.

Dinner Party

Had Dr. Dave and Ahm over for dinner last night. Mike and Reeza were going to come as well, but Mike got stuck in a business meeting until late, and they never arrived.

I made Jil's World Famous spaghetti carbonara... recipe gleaned from my Belgian chef friend, Jerry. I improved on it by doubling all the yummy bits.

Next time, it will be my penne vodka.

Warm Wet Sense of Relief

My replacement ATM card arrived from Chase Manhattan. Once again, my money is something more tangible than a number on a screen.

I was out to dinner at Bob's, and he was talking about the misery and rigamarole he went through to get his ATM card replaced here. After hearing about that, I would like to let everyone know that Chase Manhattan is absolutely fabulous in "ease of use." Getting a new ATM card was hassle-free.

High Season

The large cloud banks have all floated away, leaving the sky a misty bright blue. A steady cool breeze — comparatively cold — is blowing. Temperatures are in the mid-80's... but was 76º when I woke up this morning.

High season has finally arrived. We won't see another cloud until sometime in April.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Last day of the pay period... Effin'A. Ya got your high-line pay. Ya got your stat-monitor 20% bonus. Ya got your weekend 15% bonus. Ya got your overtime 50% bonus on top of it all. Hourly rates that make New York City lawyers blush...

And the internet goes down all over Pattaya.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Holocaust Denial

I certainly have a low opinion of holocaust deniers... along with racists, homophobes, and people who in general spout bullshit that those of us with brains know better than to believe.

However, in Austria apparently it is actually illegal to be a holocaust denier, and David Irving, holocaust denier extraordinaire, is now in custody for it.

Thought content: Aside from (1) where you are, (2) the method of delivery, and (3) your station in life (see below), I would never regulate the content of a person's mind, or their right to speak it. Never. If those of us without brains who are too stupid to figure out bullshit when they hear it, that is not the fault of the person handing out the bullshit, and he or she shouldn't be liable.

(1) Separation of church and state: The thought content of a preacher in the pulpit and the thought content of a public school teacher at the lectern.

(2) Nuiscance: Thought content through loudspeakers in the middle of the night. Shouting in your face.

(3) Influence: Newspapers printing known malicious falsehoods. Politicians using political power or their position to propagate untruths designed to harm others and help themselves. Clergy threatening damnation for lack of faith, causing fear and spiritual intimidation. These examples listed are not illegal, but they are immoral... and in my personal opinion, sadly, are the most odious examples of the abuse of free speech.


For the first 5 years of his presidency, President Bush has never vetoed — or threatened to veto — a bill from Congress.

Now he has threatened to veto two: One that outlaws torture, and one that raises taxes on oil companies. Yes... that's right: The only two bills that President Bush dislikes enough to veto are bills against torture and big oil companies.

Worst. President. Ever.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Why did we go to war in Iraq?
  1. To find weapons of mass destruction.
  2. To stop soldiers from using devastating weapons on civilians.
  3. To reduce terrorism.
  4. To stop the Iraqi government from torturing its' people.

Any questions?

Loy Krathong Festivities

Last night was Loy Krathong... one of only 2 holidays I really celebrate anymore (along with July 4th... which is just a reason to have a party).

I rented Took this beautiful dress, and she went to the salon and had her hair styled and filled with flowers, and her makeup done. She had never actually dressed in traditional Thai fashion before, and the whole thing made her a little uptight to start off with. "I don't like this makeup!" "I'm too fat for this dress!" However, by the end of the evening, she had a grin on her face a mile wide, and she had a great time... as did I.

I myself dressed up in traditional Thai garb as well... a matching blue full-button silk blazer with a nehru collar with gold trim, some gold-colored extra-baggy knickerbockers, white over-the-knee socks, and black shoes.

Actually, it was I who made the difference: Thousands of Thai girls got all dressed up for Loy Krathong and Took blended right in, but very few farangs bothered to make the effort to get dressed up. Our matching ensemble was appreciated by everyone out on the town...

...and that was hundreds of thousands of people, all told. By the end of the evening, Took was proud to be out and be appreciated, which was at least as enjoyable for me as it was for her.

First, we went to the beach, where we met up with Mike, Reeza, Mike's friend Richard, his wife, and their little boy. We watched all the fireworks, and the thousands of aerial krathongs floating candles in the sky. Took and I bought a krathong, took it down to the seaside, lit the candles and incense, made our wishes, and then had a local boy wade out into the water and set it afloat.

After that, it was out to dinner. We were going to go to Vientienne restaurant, one of Pattaya's largest Asian restaurants, but I was suprised to discover that it had been torn down. (I later found it has moved to Walking Street.) We wound up having dinner at the Pig & Whistle, a British pub on Soi 7.

After dinner, we went to Walking Street, which was packed to the rafters. To add to the crowded feeling, lots of vendors had set up restaurants in the middle of the street, and the whole place was like a huge, long outdoor café. (I snapped this picture in a fairly uncrowded part of the street... damn camera phone.) It was actually almost too crowded to walk.

We met up with Dr. Dave and Ahm at Beavers, and then went over to TQ2, where we met up with Bob, his wife, and baby Jeanna. We had drinks and then made our way home at midnight.

Midnight was just the right time because Go was just getting ready to float her krathong in the pool. (Midnight is the "proper" time to float a krathong actually.) I'm not sure how long it took Go to make her krathong, but it was certainly beautiful, and we sat on the deck, and watched the krathong float, glow, and talked about what a great evening we had had.

Two Political Opinions

This is kind of like Bill Maher's, "New Rules".

Opinion #1: Suing your city whose official seal has crosses on it (and thus violates the separation of church and state) makes you a moron... fundamentally a correct moron, but a moron nonetheless... Especially if your town is called "Las Cruces". Perhaps these people should sue to have "Los Angeles" renamed to "Los Fairies". Hmm... maybe "St. Louis" could become "Ghost Louis"?

Opinon #2: Target department store is idiotic for hiring pharmacists who won't sell the "Plan B" anti-pregnancy-day-after drug because of their religious convictions. Who is dumber: The owner of a gun shop who hires somebody who refuses to sell guns to people, or the anti-gun nut who agrees to take the job in the first place? I can't see how it's illegal to hire a salesperson who won't sell your stuff, but it's certainly not the smartest thing you could do... especially when moving the whackadoo pharmacist over to the Sporting Goods section is so much easier. Why bother getting half a million pro-choicers riled up against your corporation over one freak who thinks that a microscopic clump of 2 (or possibly even 3) cells is the equivalent of a person?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cracking Up

There had been rumors: Little page-20 newspaper stories about temper tantrums, not-so-reliable tabloid blurbs about being back on the bottle, insider and ex-insider stories about inaccessibility and inflexibility.

However, now you have The Washington Times Magazine, which could theoretically be renamed "Inside Republican Washington Magazine", or "The White House Times"... usually the first (and only) published work that gets to go inside the White House to do feature length articles... writing this (link only temporary):
Bush rarely speaks to father, 'family is split'
President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

In addition, Matt Drudge, the first person Republicans call when they have news to share expands on it with this (link only temporary):
The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

Note that that list consists only of women? Weird.

History will judge President George W. Bush harshly... but it may also just judge him to be nuts. I don't need to wait for history: I believe that for the next 3 years, a madman will occupy the most powerful station on earth.

Hat tip to Americablog... I copied John's article almost word for word.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Good Article

This Slate article outlines exceptionally well about how Congress and the American people were misinformed and misled about Iraq's WMD program.


My ATM card is messed up... badly.

It still works: I can go to the ATM and check my balance... see my money... but can't get the ATM to fork over the dough. I spent 40 minutes on the phone with my bank, and they can't find anything wrong with my account. They're sending me a new card in the mail... but who knows if that new card won't have the same problem.

Fingers seriously crossed.

Loy Krathong

Tomorrow is the holiday called Loy Krathong... my favorite Thai holiday. It is kind of like Valentine's day. Everybody gets dressed up in traditional Thai dress and then goes and Loy (floats) Krathong. Krathong are little flower floats with incense and candles that you and your lover send down the river (or out to sea) with your hopes and wishes. Alternatively, you can use flying krathong, which are little hot air balloons that you set aloft in the night sky.

Unfortunately, Most krathongs are a slab of styrofoam, and the balloons are white plastic bags. Needless to say, cleanup on the day following Loy Krathong is always a painful sight, with the beaches of Pattaya and Jomtien literally covered with styrofoam and plastic bags.

Things are changing however: I saw that Carrefour was selling bread krathongs that are obviously much friendlier for the fish.

Took and I went to the local Thai formal dress shop and rented a pretty blue dress for her to wear tomorrow. They didn't have any shirts that fit me, so I'm having a nice blue silk overshirt made. (Overshirt is my invented word for something that isn't quite a blazer, but more substantial than a shirt.)

We'll cut quite a figure on Walking Street tomorrow evening.

I gave Go 200 baht for doing so well over her first couple of days. Bless her heart: She went out and bought things to make her own little krathong, which she politely asked permission if she could float in my pool tomorrow night.

Good Reading

Where can you read political commentary from famous people who don't really write political commentary for a living? Here, at the Huffington Post, where 300 or 400 famous people like Deepak Chopra, Alec Baldwin, Bob Barr, Sen. Barney Frank, Walter Cronkite, Kelly Preston, Rob Reiner, Cindy Sheehan, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Gore Vidal, and John Cusack (who wrote this diatribe recently) all maintain mini-blogs.

Sorry: They are all liberals. If you're looking for conservative-minded celebrity bloggers to read, they don't seem to exist.

Wildlife Update

The little songbirds that I set free — those that survived — seem to have set up house in the trees along the street next to my garden and are twittering happily.

The snail invasion continues apace. If I look, I can always find one or two stuck to a wall or something. One was making its way across my walk the other night and I stepped on it in the dark... sickening sound like stepping on your glasses. Now I know to keep an eye out for them. Surpringly the kitties leave them alone...

...unlike the lovebirds, who still get occasional furry lightning strikes. The pair pretty much stay up inside their penthouse and only come out when they know the coast is clear, and head for safety at the first sign of movement outside.

The chingchoks haven't fared as well. Not one of the tiny green geckos has been seen in over a week as the cats have nabbed them all, it seems. However, there is still a large Tookeh lizard over near my bedroom window who makes a "tookeh" bullfrog sound at night.

There are a whole lot of butterflies around my house. There are boring small white ones, some big black ones, and a husband/wife team that look like Monarch butterflies, but more brown than orange, who dance through the air together all over the place. I never see one without the other. Maybe in keeping with my lovebirds, I shall name them loverflies. There are giant tan and white moths too. The cats do like those and have gotten really good at leaping and snagging them out of the air. There are lots of other color butterflies that I can't see at the moment to describe... but they are out there.

There are also hummingbirds who fellate the flowers on my property. Every once in a while, they take the shortcut through my office window, past my head, and out the patio door, making me dive for cover each time, as a friendly hummingbird and a menacing 3-inch long bumblebee look quite similar to my entomophobic eye.

A large cat — I think it is the neighbor's — comes over the wall from time to time and sets up a howling as he paces my property. If it wasn't a boy, I would be certain the thing was in heat. He stays in the periphery so he is rarely seen... but he hides out, obscured in the bushes and makes a racket. I've got a collection of pebbles next to my desk so that when I hear him, I can chuck some in his direction, and the noise usually scares him back over to his native side of the wall.

A friend — Geoff actually — remarked that he didn't like cats because they really fuck with the wildlife population in the neighborhood. He's right. Unfortunately, I'm attached to my hairy little trio, and besides: Thailand has more wildlife per square meter than another other country on the planet... those species who don't make it in my tiny little slice of Thailand are doing quite fine beyond my property's borders.

Thai Pragmatism

That famous Thai Smile, known throughout the world, is supposed to broadcast "friendly, relaxed, welcoming" to the rest of mankind. However, that is really just a marketing ploy. The Thai smile actually means "disarming, masking, wiley".

Underneath the thin veneer of civility, Thai people share the same pragmatic brutishness as the Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Burmese of recent history. All they need is the people in charge... the government... to tell them to drop the pretense, and you will have a country of little brown psychopaths on your hands.

And the Thai government tends to do that with lethal guile: First it was the war on drugs, where the government winkwinked and nodnodded the message "the only good drug dealer is a dead drug dealer." Bam: 1,300 drug dealers off the streets... with bullets.

Now the Thai government is turning its focus to the unrest (read: terrorism) in the south of Thailand. Not only is the message, "the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist", but they are arming civilians down south as well.
About 20,000 residents will be trained and armed in the three southernmost provinces enabling them to defend their villages and spy on the movements of insurgents in the restive region, commander General Ruangroj Mahasaranond said yesterday.

Well, I never said it wouldn't work: Maybe 20,000 armed villagers with a license to kill is just the kind of enema that Pattani needs.

And yes: Those 20,000 Thai people will have a grin on their face a mile wide as they gun down the terrorists, and pretty much anybody else who they think needs killing. It just won't be the same smile you see in the tourist brochures.

So as not to scare off the tourists... (1) The Thai people are a communal people. Civility, service, and respect are utmost in their attributes. Violent Thai people, as a rule, are rare and frowned upon by Thai society. They would only practice violence en masse, such as is described above, with permission from community leaders (as is the case with most civilizations on earth). (2) Pattani is a world away from Pattaya and the rest of Thailand, and Muslims who are up to no good would have a very difficult time sneaking their way up the very narrow isthmus of Thailand through Buddhist (i.e. foreign) lands to cause mischief outside of their own provinces... and the terrorists have shown no indication that they ever plan to even make the attempt.

I'll Take The Funny Wherever I Can Get It

(And today it comes from Michelle Malkin... the hateful bitch.)

CNN's anchor Carol Lin referred to the two French teenagers of Tunisian descent whose death sparked the Paris riots as "African Americans".

This brought in several more remember whens:

During the last Olympics, one of the network airheads referred to black athletes as "African-Americans from all nations..."

Jay Leno's wife was attributed with the following variation on the African-American theme. Trying to articulate the difference between white Africans (those of European descent) and black Africans, the only descriptor she could come up with was African-American Africans.

OK... post is over. Please go back to loathing the racist skank now.

Lying To Save Your Skin

After last week's all-Republicans-out / all-Democrats-in election rout of the Dover, Pennsylvania school board over the introduction of Intelligent Design in science classes, Senator Rick Santorum (who, 12 months before the election, trails his challenger by 35 points; who is one of the right wing's most strident voices; who was named "one of the finest minds of the 13th century" by the Philadelphia Inquirer) came out today against Intelligent Design in the classroom:

Santorum's comments to The Times are a shift from his position of several years ago, when he wrote in a Washington Times editorial that intelligent design is a "legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom."

Heheh. Scramble much there Ricky? Pander much there Ricky? Flip-flop much there Ricky?

Hat tip to Pandagon.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hawm or Min?

The trees around my house are blooming with white flowers that fill the air with what I consider an exceptionally honeyed bouquet. Took thinks it's stinky... something along the "sickly sweet" line, I would imagine.

Hawm = mmmm.
Min = ewww.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Out For The Evening

Being Sunday night, it was out to TQ2 as per usual. All of the regulars were there, which totalled about 10 or 12 guys.

The only problem — if you can call it a problem... per your point of view — is that everybody feels the need to buy a round. I drink draft beer at TQ2. It takes me about 30 minutes to drink one. Unfortunately, every 15 minutes, somebody buys a round for the gang. I managed to drink 3 beers, but left 2 completely untouched.

No... I didn't buy a round. It would have been laughable and a waste: All the tables were covered with full glasses from previous rounds that nobody had gotten around to drinking. Why add to that?

Took went out to TQ2 with me last Sunday, but stayed home tonight. Sundays are all about socializing, which oddly enough, Thai girls really do not enjoy doing. It's probably one of the great misconceptions that farang guys have about Thai girls... but I've learned to understand: You can't take a Thai girl, and throw her in a crowd of other Thai girls and expect her to quote-unquote "make friends".

Thai people are friendly, and get along well, but they have zero ability to chat each other up; to make light conversation. It will happen eventually and possibly, like at this afternoon's house-warming party, but it's best not to expect friendships to develop between two thai girls just because they both were at a party together... and walking up to another girl standing around and saying, "Hi, I'm Took! Nice to meet you." That doesn't happen.

House-Warming Party!

Reeza and Mike moved into a new house on Soi Siam Country Club and invited all their friends over for a house-warming party. The crowd was mostly from Margaritavilla. Gene was there, just having gotten back from driving a cab for 6 months in Cincinnati.

Mike's new house has a nice swimming pool, and the temperature was perfect — unlike my own, which has icebergs floating in it. Reeza, Robin, and Apple worked the bar-be-que, and served up chicken, beef, pork, and lamb.

It was good to see all the folks from Margaritavilla. I had actually stopped going there because I didn't feel like seeing Geoff. Obviously I don't have to worry about that any more.

So, it was a good afternoon with my good friends having a good time.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Dinner Party!

Took and I had Dr. Dave and Ahm over for dinner. I had the gardners over before hand to till the flower beds, and Mr. Oo made sure the pool was sparkling clean.

Go waitressed for the first time in her life. Helluva first day on the job, and she did splendidly for someone who — other than the brief, rushed explanation I gave her of what to serve, and when — hadn't the slightest clue of what to do.

We had gin and tonics and a vegetable platter hors d'ouvres, a cold salmon appetizer, white wine, lobster bisque, and a grilled sea bass entree, and a blueberry pie. Go plated each one perfectly, managed to remember all the details (put out the bread with the soup, put the dill sauce on the fish, fix the coffee before dessert was served, and a dozen other things).

Seriously: Go remembering every little thing is small miracle from the Thai labor pool. It really doesn't happen that often. Therefore, I exercised my boss's perogative and upped her salary by 1,000 baht every month. I can't figure out why, but Took seemed even happier than Go about that.

Well, everybody here is very happy. Good dinner, good friends, good service. Happiness all around. Life doesn't get any better.

Ready, Set

Go is the new maid stepping up to the plate.

Actually, a friend of Toom's stopped by not knowing that Toom was no longer working here, and when she found out that there was a maid's position open, offered up her friend.

Odd, these Thai people: "You mean you scared the bejesus out of my friend Toom in a fury that shook the rafters, woke up the neighbors, and made her run for her life? Can my other friend come work for you?"


Geoff died of septicemia after being in a coma for 7 days. He apparently regained enough consciousness to squeeze his mother's hand and smile before passing away at the age of 35.

He committed suicide really. He was sick and he chose not to do anything about it. After seeing his girlfriend, Erin, emotionally wrecked, all I could think was "what a jerk he was." Suicide is something that is reserved for the unloved, the unmissed, or the terminally ill. Geoff was a fucker for throwing away a life that included love and caring and support from a strong, pretty, and smart girl no matter how much he messed up or how bad things were. I feel so sorry for Erin to have had to love a person like Geoff.

One In One Hundred Million

With 10,000 dateable girls here in Pattaya, what are the chances that I would start dating Took at about the same time that my chiropractor, Dr. Pack, started dating Took's best friend?

So Took and I are having (Dr.) David and Ahm over for dinner tonight. I'm going to find a restaurant to cater/deliver. Restocked the bar and bought wine as well. (I always need an excuse to restock the bar as it is too expensive to do just for the hell of it.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Monthly Visitor

Visa run today... 3½ hours out to Cambodia, 15 minutes in Cambodia, 3½ hours back home. Wash, rinse, and repeat in 30 days. Playing on (in?) the Thai/Cambodian border:
My friend Alan actually bought one of those Thai-government-issued "Thailand Elite" cards for $25,000. It gives him a renewable 5-year visa, super-VIP service at the airport and immigration, the ability to own land in Thailand, and a lifetime of free golf and massages and stuff.

It's a thought.

Friday Cat Blogging

I know that Khun Wolf died from dehydration, but this is ridiculous.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Best of luck next time around Geoff. My condolences Erin... you did all you could.

Tax Free

Did you know that for Americans, overseas income less then $80,000 is tax free? Neither did I. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion means my tax refund this year is exactly 100%.

[cartman voice] Sweeeet.

Second Job Starting Soon

Reeza's Mike is off to Seattle at the end of this month to get licensing rights to the mercury filtering technology from the scientists who created it. Then, he will get together with the filter designers in Australia to make a working model. Then, he and I will put together all the schematics and documentation. Then Mike will get together with [very large oil company] to fill their order.

Not necessarily in that exact order though.

Then, maybe Mike and I will fly around the world teaching oil industry workers how to install, maintain, test, and calibrate the filters. I don't know if that part will actually happen though.

Then, Mike will go back and design filter upgrades, different models for different applications, different configurations, et cetera, and the process will repeat itself each time for the forseeable future.

Knowing When You Are Beaten 2

This is a followup to "Knowing When You Are Beaten" and my friend George.

George is now in the Intensive Care Unit up in Bangkok with a 20% likelihood of surviving a massive liver abscess. His family has flown in from England to be with him.

Best wishes. Good luck.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Happens Every Time

...but never this decisively.

Every time a school board stacked with right-wing wackadoos tries to introduce "Intelligent Design" into the curriculum, the next time they are up for election, the voters take away their majority and the "ID" program is withdrawn.

This time around, in the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania, where the 8-member, all-Republican school board is in the middle of a court battle for ID in their district, all 8 Republicans were replaced with 8 Democrats... and that's not even a person-to-person match up. In other words, the Democrat with the least number of votes received more votes than the Republican with the most number of votes.

Dude, y'all are pwned. (or as John Aravosis puts it, "Now that's a mandate.")

Chrome Pole Report

Out to dinner at Bob's. I had his bar-be-que baked beans, potato salad, and french fries. (I'm dieting, ya know.)

After that it was off to TQ2 to hang out with the gang. Took was along with me, but went home early because she was bored and tired. Bob, Steve, Alan, and Eric were there, and I met a guy named Bryan who is in exporting, and a doctor named Jeff from Sacramento who has a really interesting schedule: He does 3 weeks on call, and then comes to Pattaya for 2 weeks' vacation. He has an apartment here... plus two houses and building a third. Pretty cool way to live, I think... although the plane rides must suck.

From there, five of us were off to Supermodel-A-Gogo, where all drinks are 50 baht... nice. We did discover a funny/annoying thing about this bar though when one of us tried to barfine one of the girls: The bar fines for the regular dancers are 500 baht. The bar fines for showgirls are 600 baht. This is perfectly normal actually, since showgirls dance in shows and, if the showgirls aren't in the bar, there aren't any shows. Duh.

However, Supermodel thinks show girls are the dancers who get up on stage and show off their tits. There are no (what you and I think of when we think of) shows in Supermodel. So, if you're going to Supermodel, and you see a girl you like, make sure she doesn't take her top off. Stupid rules... especially to try to pull out on a group consisting of several bar owners.

Then, we were all off to Coyotee for a round. Now, compared to Supermodel, Coyotee is almost nothing but shows and showgirls. Oh... and as far as nudity goes, no bar does more to please the eye than Coyotee.

After Coyotee, Eric, Bryan and I went up to Third Road to check out what we call the "upper class Thai bars". There are about a dozen of them there, catering to Thai people who can afford to drink Heineken over Chang.

So our first choice was "Bitchy Pub". Being Thailand, this name probably doesn't have the cringe factor among Thai people that it does among English-speakers — not to mention "Hot Ass Bar" down the road.

Hated it. It was dark enough and loud enough to be a nightclub, but there was no dancing... just lounging. Too much lounging made it a crap place to meet new people and socialize, so it's a place to go with 6 or 8 friends. However, the music is so loud that you really can only talk to the person seated directly next to you.

From what I could see in the twilit gloom, there were lots of pretty girls there though.

After that, it was south down third road to a karaoke bar. I normally hate karaoke, but since all the singers were cute Thai girls, and they all were at least reasonable singers, and they were all singing Thai music, it was fun. After the girls finish singing, they come and sit with you, so there is a little bit of a "hostess bar" vibe to the place at the same time. A return trip there is definitely in the cards for me.

Unfortunately, it was midnight and I had to go home so that I could get up to work in the morning... but not without stopping back by the shish kebab lady's stand in front of Coyotee bar for some chicken pita to munch before going to bed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

God Is Punishing You

Republican Congressman from Indiana Jeff Hostettler voted against a $1.4 billion aid package for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Guess whose district that massive tornado in Indiana tore through?

Guess who likes the sound of an aid package now?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pet Peeve

Well, not so "pet", and quite peeving.

Took has worked her way though all of my action movies on DVD. (She does her English workbook while she watches a movie.) Last night, we watched the only action-like movie that she hadn't seen yet: Saving Private Ryan.

Here is my genuine, "if I could change this about you, I would" peeve: Took laughed through a lot of the movie. Not at the blood and guts... but in other places no less improper. Example: A soldier with his hearing gone because of a grenade exploding next to it shouts and has to be shouted at in order to converse. Took found this quite funny. The mother collapsing on the front porch got a giggle.

The night before, we had attemped to watch "Meet the Fockers", which I thought would go over well. "Where's the funny parts?" Took asked about halfway through.

If she were a farang, I'd consider this a mental glitch... but being Thai (a race that laughs at odd times), and not always having a perfect undertstanding of what she is watching, I have to withhold judgment.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good News


It's a big-ass pile of Hummers that nobody wants to buy.

He heard a rumor that his local Hummer dealer was in a panic. With year-to-year sales down about 50%, his lot was being overrun with inventory. This was scaring away customers, so he found a nearby industrial park where he could store the oversized vehicles. Thus was born the great photo metaphor of the state of 21st century America: As Tim puts it, "Overweight, Overpriced, Inefficient, and Unloved".
Perhaps web sites like this one — where photos of people giving Hummers the finger are submitted — is having an effect. 10 MPG? Jeebus.

Ironically, if you buy an original, diesel, military-use H1 Hummer for weekend off-road insanity, I'll think you're pretty cool. But if you buy a street-only H2 Hummer to drive to the store, you're just a putz.


I suppose I should explain my "H1 good, H2 bad" position.

An H1 Hummer is a toy... a recreational vehicle designed for off road use. The reason it gets poor gas mileage is because it was designed for nature's worst terrain. Using it for its' designed purpose (tearing up wetlands, pastures, and wildlife reserves with massive tractor tires) is fine. However, an H2 Hummer is marketed (and used) primarily (or solely) as a street vehicle... and yet it still is based on an inefficient-for-the-street, off-road design.

If you use your H1 Hummer to drive the kids to school, you are as much of a dick as an H2 owner, and if you use your H2 only on the weekends to chase down Bambi in mud-spewing glee, then you are as cool as an H1 owner.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Fair Question

(via AmericaBlog)

Conservatives always love to talk about how there is no right to privacy in the constitution. They say that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, because it relies on a constitutional right to privacy... which doesn't exist.

So, why don't liberals propose a Constitional Amendment for the Right to Privacy? (A) It would end the argument of Roe v. Wade (and gay sex being illegal, and birth control), and (B) it would be a hoot to watch Conservatives run around trying to explain to everyone why privacy is a bad thing.

Afternoon Shopping

Add Ceasar salad dressing to the another-difficult-to-find-thing-in-Thailand list. Fortunately, that only puts my list at around 10 or 12 items. (Just as long as you are not fussy, that is: If you want dill pickles, no problem, but if you want Vlassic dill pickles, then you are out of luck.)

Friday Cat Blogging

Title: Kitty Pileup

Title: Bah... It's Just A Leaf.

Title: Kittysplat.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not Sure I Agree

A federal appeals court Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by parents outraged that the Palmdale school district in California surveyed their elementary school children about sex.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the parents' claim that they have the exclusive right to tell their children about sex.

Now, on the one hand, I think that when you enroll your child in a public school, you are indeed agreeing to let that school dictate the content of information/eductation that your child will receive.

However, I also think that parents shouldn't — by dint of that enrollment — give up the ability to dictate what goes into their child's head.

Hmm... I know for certain I disagree with the court decision... and would side with the parents in principle, but in practice if the parents had won, it would allow each student to receive a customized education from an institution poorly designed for such a feat.

My suggestion: Syllabuses sent home to the parents. Lesson plans made public. Teachers don't vary their classes from year to year that much, so it would only take a few hours to put together a one-time lesson plan for what they teach. Granted, it wouldn't cover every eventuality, such as student-initiated discussions about topics that one particular parent might find offensive, but that can't be blamed on the teacher, and it is the best solution I can think of, and certainly gives parents a good understanding of what their children are being taught. It also protects the teachers from irritated parents who could no longer claim to be ignorant about what their children are, or were going to be, taught.

In addition, a school newsletter would be nice... something mailed out to all parents once a month covering special curriculum, student-initated and student-run events, special guest speakers and lecturers, as well as the usual sports schedules, club activities, and cafeteria menu.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

You Say Scalito. I Say Scalito. (Then You Get All Pissed Off.)

The right wing wanted a Supreme Court nominee that was essentially Justice Antonin Scalia's twin brother. The White House nominates a Judge Alito, who is so much like Scalia that judicial pundits have called him "Scalito" for years. So, now the right wing is angry that everyone is calling him Scalito.

Call me confused, but isn't the fact that people are calling him "Scalito" kind of a good sign?

And Thanks Go Out To...

I would just like to express my deep personal gratitude to Crooks and Liars for allowing me to blow off work for 4 hours while I worked my way through their video archives of Daily Show clips, Real Time with Bill Maher clips, and on and on and on.

If you have high speed internet and an afternoon just asking to be wasted... this is the place to go.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Final Update on Miss International Queen 2005

(And this time I'm pretty sure it is the last one.)

Much to my surprise, only one newspaper covered the story... and I've been keeping an eye out.

Here are some photos lifted from the article.

Miss Thailand, Miss USA, Miss Korea.
Miss USA, Miss Brazil.

I'm Never Wrong 2

Porn lasted almost exactly 24 hours before quitting. Too bad... it's always the ones who get the most done that quit the soonest. Well, as I said, domestic help in Thailand comes and goes like the wind. (She said she didn't like being a maid... although both Took and I agree that we provide a pretty good work environment.)

It's All You Need To Know

The new HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine would save thousands of women from cervical cancer if innoculated early in life.

However, the whackadoo Christian right is against the vaccine because they believe it will encourage people to get laid.

See? Family values = Death before sex.

(That's precisely why I don't get the flu vaccine every year: It may encourage me to go out and eat other people's boogers.)

More School

Took and I went out today, and I signed her up for computer classes. She's going to start with a typing course, and then learn Windows, Microsoft Word and Excel. Reesa's Mike is more than happy to have Took come over to his office after classes for some real-world practice of typing letters and invoices and stuff.

After that, it was off to the bookstore, where Took picked out 4 or 5 little 40-cent English books to read at home. She's really geared up for her upcoming studies, which gives me a proud parent feeling.

What Is The Nuclear Option?

The nuclear option is a Republican Plan that will change the rules of the Senate to make filibustering (blocking) a Supreme Court nominee "against the rules." A filibuster is basically what a minority in Congress does when a motion is introduced to end debate and take a vote. The minority basically sticks its fingers in its ears and says, "La la la la... I can't hear you." They do that until the majority either says, "Fine... forget voting about it then," or the majority finds the 60 senators necessary to actually end debate and take a vote.

Right now, Republicans hold on 55 seats in the senate. Therefore, if every Democrat in the Senate decides to filibuster (keeping the debate open), the Republicans do not have the 60 votes necessary to stop the debate so that a vote can be taken.

So the Republicans, not having enough votes, want to change the rules to end the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees. How many votes does it take to change a rule in Congress? 67... seven more than the 60 needed to end a filibuster. So, how do the Republicans think they will end filibustering of a nominee if they don't have 67 votes?

They'll cheat.

Here is the wikipedia explanation:
Although the Senate's rules can normally only be changed by a two-thirds (67) vote, it was proposed to rise to a point of order that filibusters of judicial nominees are unconstitutional and/or otherwise improper. The Senate's presiding officer, normally the Vice President, could then rule on the point of order. Presumably Vice President Richard B. Cheney would be expected to sustain. The Democrats could then appeal the decision of the chair, a motion which the Republicans would immediately move to lay on the table. A motion to lay on the table is non-debatable, and would only require a simple majority vote to sustain the ruling of the chair. With success, Republicans would establish a precedent that judicial filibusters are out of order.
In my words: The Republicans will say, "We're not changing the rules. We're just saying that filibusters are not allowed."

Now, what do I think? Remember the saying "hoist on their own petard"? If the Republicans are going to make it impossible to filibuster a far right-wing Supreme Court nominee, they are also going to make it impossible to filibuster a far left-wing Supreme Court nominee. With the election picture for 2006 looking not-too-rosy for the Republicans, with a several-seat-loss quite possible, they are really going to have to do a gut check before enacting their "nuclear option." If they are trying to end the filibuster because they really believe it is an unfair tactic that has no use in a democracy, then they will do it. If they know deep down inside that it is a "heat of the moment" decision, designed to confirm a single Supreme Court justice, then they won't do it.

Truthfully though, the only way this is good for Republicans is if they can maintain a majority in Congress for the next 500 years. Otherwise, it is going to come back to haunt them when they are the ones in the minority, and a Democratic president likes the sound of "Chief Justice Michael Moore" backed up by "Associate Justice Rosie O'Donnel".

Gads That's Annoying

After insisting that all nominees should get an up-or-down vote when John Roberts was up for consideration, Republicans made sure that Harriet Miers didn't get that same up-or-down vote. Now that crazy right-wing Alito is the nominee?

"Let's give Judge Alito a fair up-or-down vote, not left or right," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
p.s. How crazy is he?
  1. He would make it illegal to get an abortion under almost any circumstances.
  2. He has ruled that women need to get their husbands permission before getting an abortion.
  3. He has struck down affirmative action laws, and attempted to "legislate from the bench" by actually trying to make it harder for minorities to make discrimination claims.
  4. He has sided with businesses in sexual harassment cases.
  5. He has allowed businesses to fire people with AIDS.
  6. Has voted to uphold strip searches of women and children who are not named on an arrest warrant, but were in the house where the person named on the warrant was found.
  7. Has voted to diminish protections of small businesses against large corporations.
  8. Although there is no actual ruling per se to refer to, most legal scholars say that Judge Alito will vote to overrule Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that made condoms legal.
(Source: pdf of PFAW Preliminary Review of Judge Alito.)
p.s.s. Alito, who voted against affirmative action, and tried to make it harder for minorities to prove discrimination, headed over to Capitol Hill today to have his picture taken with Rosa Parks' dead body. How fitting for Halloween, eh?
p.s.s.s. Remember talk of a "nuclear option", which the Republicans said they would enact if the Democrats tried to fillibuster a nomination, but then changed their mind when it was agreed that Democrats would only fillibuster an "extremist" nominee? Well, they've changed their minds again and may decide to break the rules and cast a procedurally illegal vote that says "thou shalt not fillibuster conservative nominees."