Thursday, November 30, 2006


"President Bush is preparing to build his
presidential library. ... Bush's is
expected to cost $500 million.
That's more than three times the cost of
the Clinton library, and more than all
the other libraries combined,
which makes you wonder,
how many Garfield books can there be?"

Daily Report: Chrome Pole Report

First half of the day went per script... although today was two-thirds of a day instead of half a day. (Baloney sandwiches for lunch.)

This evening, it was off to TQ2 with Willie for Bob's free barbeque buffet (along with the standard/obligatory hanging out with friends type of evening). It was Willie's first time to TQ2 and he was properly impressed with the music ("I told you so Willie!") and the food ("I told you so Willie!") and the friends buying rounds ("I told you so Willie!"). Willie thus pledged all the remaining Thursdays in his life to TQ2.

--> Photo of my TQ2 girlfriend (as opposed to my all-the-other-times girlfriend, Pui), this is Jip, whose name rather comically/oddly matches the name of this blog, J.I.P. (I define a TQ2 girlfriend as "a good friend of my girlfriend's who works at my favorite bar whom, in the absence of my girlfriend, I buy drinks for, cuddle with, talk to and (most importantly) will not get in trouble for associating with.")

Now normaly, Thursdays for Jil consist of TQ2, a visit to the banana pancake people, and then home by 9:00 p.m. But, with the dilettante greenhorn Willie by my side, the night simply could not be called to end. Therefore...

First, it was of to Catz, home of one of Pattaya's best happy hours (until 9:30 p.m.) where all drinks are 65 baht.

Then it was off to "Roxy" (which has replaced "Electric Blue"... and whatever came in between) for a beer. (Jil's official bar report: Well worth a visit, once you've seen all the shows at Angelwitch.)

From there, it was over to Champion A-GoGo where I got to see something so special-slash-odd that a friend had to remind me "Jil, don't you dare take a picture." Don't worry: I won't forget/remember, and neither will anyone else who was with me.

So did I mention Mad Mick is back in town?

After Champion, Willie, Mad Mick and I went off to the Beach Club to perform gynecologic exams (why anyone would go to Beachclub for a different reason is beyond me) and then finally off to home. (The pancake people were tragically absent from Soi Marine Plaza tonight. Damn them all.)

So, as per usual, I shall remind myself that the average Thursday night in Pattaya of drunken revelry, ogling girlie ta-tas, drinking, eating, fondling and carousing is what the average person back home hopes to do one night per decade in order to justify their sad existence back home.

Keep saving up my poor friends. Someday... for 2 or 3 days perhaps... all of this can be yours. Me? I'll be back next Thursday, as per usual.

(NOTE: Time stamp artificially manipulated to get this post to correspond to the date it refers to.)

A JIP Public Service Announcement

If you are calling because you want to give me money, beer, or a sexy hot oil rub, please remember after midnight tonight to start sticking an "8" in front of the "9" in the area code of my mobile phone, so it would be 089-247-xxxx instead of 09-247-xxxx.

If you are calling from America because you want to call and tell me you are sending Spaghetti-O's, you would dial 011-66-89-247-xxxx.

Everyone else who isn't calling about Spaghetti-O's, money, beer, or hot oil can continue dialing in the old fashion. I'm sure you'll still get through.

(Oh shitake. I forgot that I had business cards made up just last week... with the old number. How stoopit was that?)

Another JIP New Music Showcase

Emotionally, instinctively, we know that we are supposed to hate bands like this: A group of young guys wearing sloppy clothes (chosen by image consultants pret-a-porter in Milan), and stubbly beards and tousled hair (fixed that way by $400 an hour stylists).

But as you get older, you realize that everybody from Elvis onwards has kept up appearances, and you stop looking and just listen.

So here we have "The Feeling" (band site (turn down your volume), wikipedia site), a British group which isn't quite a boy band because they do play their own instruments (and I'm assuming they write their own music). But they are definitely pop. Very pop, and very 70's... but well done and polished.

Here is their video, "Never Be Lonely." I personally like the song "Love It When You Call", but they don't have a video for it out yet (although there is a audio-only version of it on YouTube here).

If Only Life Were That Simple

Some residents of one tall building in Pattaya are complaining that the construction of another tall building between their building and the beach is going to spoil their view of the ocean.

Well, don't worry kids. I'm sure that in a few years, somebody else will come along and build another tall building in front of the second tall building and spoil their view as well, and then the karmic levels will balance out all over again.

To tell the truth though: If you want an unobstructed ocean view, don't buy an apartment that is half a kilometer back from the beach, looking out over some of the most valuable undeveloped commercial property in Southeast Asia. Like it or not, 20 years from now, the entire beachfront, all 40 miles from Bang Saray in the south to Bang Lamung in the north is going to be shoulder-to-shoulder condominiums, with occasional gaps of ground-level developments filled with million-dollar bungalows. Everybody knows that, and complaining about it is just pissing in the wind.

You Don't Always Get To Hear Both Sides

A couple of days ago, six Imams (Muslim clerics) were rather brusquely removed from a US Airways flight leaving Minneapolis for Phoenix. The Imams claim it was because they had been doing Muslim prayers at the gate before the flight. This, according to the imams, spooked the passengers, and "a passenger rebellion" of sorts ensued, causing the imams to be arrested, held, and in a couple of cases, even banned from catching another flight (due to having caused a disturbance).

Quite disturbing that an airline would treat Muslim passengers like that, eh?

Well, it seems that sometimes a story is too good to be true. If the reporters filing the original story had bothered to talk with the flight attendants, the pilots, or any of the passengers on that plane, they might have gotten the other side of the story.

Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists [Jil: They mean terrosists riding a plane for the purpose of discovering security details... a "dry run" if you will.] and were not merely engaged in prayers, according to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials.

Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."

A pilot from another airline said: "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline induindustry."

Now, I'm always a person who never takes either side completely at its word, and am skeptical of everything that anybody says.

But when you have six people of a close-knit group — of a like mind — accusing several dozen heterogeneous people bearing little or no relation to one another of having acted irrationally... and then those several dozen people together but separately divulge rather important information regarding the original six people; reasons that justify what we originally thought to be a rather extreme reaction; reasons that the first six people didn't even mention in their first statement to the press... well, that gets my "doubt everyone equally" policy all askance.

I'll go out on a limb here and make an accusation: The Imams were tired of getting that "terrorist lookout" vibe from everyone in the airport and decided (either right then, or prior to the fact) to perform some (could-be-construed-as-terrorist-activity-if-you-are-biased-towards-that-kind-of-thing) actions that would raise suspcisions. Then they would get in trouble for that suspicious activity, the press would come and shove microphones in their faces, and they would be able to say, "This is racial profiling! All we were doing was praying. These people just hate Muslims."

That's my take.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


"Vice President Dick Cheney visited
Saudi Arabia over the weekend, and
he's very popular in Saudi Arabia,
over there he's known as
Lawrence of Arrhythmia."

Daily Report: Abused By Penguins

You know how my mornings go by now. I should probably just stop mentioning them altogether.

Willie and Frank came over for lunch. Faced with one farang exceptionally willing to eat Thai food (Willie), one farang who will eat the easy-going Thai food (Jil), and one farang who wants everything served with a warning label (Frank), Pui and Go actually had a good time putting together a meal we would enjoy, which was chicken soup, stir-fried vegetables, and shrimp.

After that, it was off to the pool where we floated (although, I'm proud to say, I exercised) for an hour or so.

The evening found Pot and I driving to Big C to join Steve and his family for the movie "Happy Feet." Can't say I cared for it much. There were a couple of real laughs, but mostly just the visual comic effect of penguins dancing or falling or sliding or swimming. Good for the little kids though, in light of that fact.

I hurt my ankle by crushing it between a cement post and the foot rest on my motorcycle. Not busted... just sore, swollen and bruised. Hopefully better in a day.

Came home from the movie and did some work to make it... yes, say it with me: A half day of work.

Wow! This Guy Has Committed Major Dumbassery

OK. Check this out:

Imagine you are a famous writer for a big conservative news web site. You'd have to be pretty smart, pretty successful, and pretty correct in the things you say, right? You wouldn't write an entire article that is so boneheadedly wrong that even an eighth-grade Social Studies student could point out your idiocy, right?

Let me present to you Dennis Prager, currently topping the Stupidest Person On The Internet charts with his new hit, "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on"

Let me give you just a few short sentences, and see if you, Joe (or Joelle) Blogreader have more American civic knowledge than a high 'n mighty famous Conservative Columnist. (Not that the title of the article shouldn't give you your answer forthwith.)
"Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."
Class? Anyone? Can anybody explain why Mr. Prager gets an F in civics?

Why of course! Members of Congress aren't required to do a damn thing when they take an oath. Bible? No. Raise your right hand? No. Not at all. No such requirement. What's really fun is that this is the more complicated answer. Did anybody think of the easier answer? Class? Anyone?

Why of course! Everybody knows this: It is written right there in the American constitution that there will never be a religious test for a candidate for public office. Would you define requiring somebody to take an oath on the Bible a religious test? Duh.

Man. I want to get a cushy writing job like Prager's. I'm at least half as stupid as he is (today), so I figure I have a shot.

(By the way, I would just like to add that this reveals the true shallowness of conservative Christian thought and behavior recently. All those cries they were making, calling for the election of politicians of faith... Politicians of moral values... Politicians willing to bring God into the debate... Would Conservative Christians welcome a Muslim politician who has the same opinion on abortion, marriage protetion, and family values as they do? Exactly: Only Christians need apply.)

Borat Is To Kazakhstan As Bruno Is To Austria

Sacha Baron Cohen will next be dusting off his old character, Bruno (the gay Austrian with a fetish for patent-leather-clad goosestepping types) for his next movie. Austria is of course none to thrilled to have a neo-Nazi nancyboy doing for them what Borat did for Kazakhstan.

Problem is, Cohen's schtick relies on him not being recognized. Hopefully there are enough people left on earth who don't know who he is that he can get away with another movie.

Wednesday Pot Blogging

In Thailand, you're not officially clean until Mommy gives you a good powder coat. (It's hilarious standing ouside of Pot's school in the morning, as all these little powder-faced Thai kids show up, ready to start their day.)

Another Thai Drink Recipe

I blame Willie for the name, although it isn't too bad.


This is the fabled lumyai (ลำไย)... also called longan. (Wikipedia entry) It's like a grape, but with a tough tan-colored rind and a single large seed inside.

The reason the good Lord invented the lumyai is so that its' juice could be mixed with Jack Daniels.

Lumyai... Jack... Lumberjack. (Like I said: Blame Willie.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Daily Report: It's All About The Lunch Break

Up early. Worked half a half day.

Willie and Kak came by, and Maid Go cooked a nice pile of Thai food. There were stir-fried vegetables, sticky rice, papaya salad, fried chicken, fried pork, and a big pile of lumyai fruit to top it all off. (Well, it beats the baloney sandwiches I had originally planned.)

After that, we grabbed beer and went to the pool. Pui and Kak relaxed in deck chairs, while Willie and I soaked.

After that, it was back to work (half a half day, sigh) and then a quick Bond movie (Goldeneye), and then an hour in front of the blog trying to get a tennis ball to bounce and trying to find a good Abba photo.

There Is Always Time For Abba News

"Hi. My name is Jil, and I am an Abba fan." (Everyone else at the Abbaholics Anonymous meeting: "Hi Jil.") "It's been 12 days since I last listened to 'Mamma Mia', and I'm holding up pretty well. Taking it one day at a time." (Everyone applauds my strength and courage.)

An Abba museum is opening in Stockholm. Satin jumpsuits, platform shoes, and lots of things with sequins will obviously represent a majority of the features.

Well, if they ever create a Nobel Prize for blogging, then it is likely that I will eventually find myself in Stockholm, and will find a moment to pop on in for a look.

Kind of Reminds Me Of The Bubble Wrap

Just a little something to make blogs an even more complete waste of time. (Go here for the bubble wrap if that is more your speed.) Put your record in the comments section. Oh... and if you send me the $5 entry fee, you'll be eligible for the $4 first prize if you win.

(It's kind of like "Pong" isn't it? Except this game doesn't cost $100 and you don't need your dumb ol' sister to man the other paddle in order to play.)


"John Kerry said he's still considering
a White House run in 2008 and he
insisted his botched joke will
not undermine his campaign
-- his botched personality might."

Wal-Mart To Open Stores In India

You know the New World Order has come home to roost when you have Indian peasants buying Chinese crap from an American retail corporation. (Here's the link if you care.)

Kid Rock And Pamela Anderson Divorcing

I live in the city of Pattaya, a place that was invented soley for the purpose of getting stupid people to marry each other.

So, I think I'm qualified to comment here.

What can you learn about your spouse in the 4 months after the wedding that you didn't know beforehand that is so important that divorce is the only answer? And... If such a thing is learned, then the question needs to be asked: How much frickin time did y'all spend getting to know each other before getting married?

Seriously, if your marriage only lasted 4 months, then there HAD to be someplace deep in your heart where you knew that you two wouldn't last... say... 5 years. If you knew that it wouldn't last 5 years (let alone 5 months), why get married?

Seriously. I'm curious. I mean, do one of you have a terminal disease, where you believed that your ability to tolerate each other would outlast your collective health? Was there some money involved? A boost to your fame perhaps? If that's all you wanted, why didn't you just put out another porn video?

There's some ridiculously childish stuff going with these two.

And don't get me started on that ditz, Britney.

Ode To An Electric Flyswatter

My favorite item in my house is not my television.
It's an electrical flyswatter that fries bugs
          without the need to squish 'em.

It's a safety-orange tennis racket but the bugs don't seem to notice.
When flames are shooting out your ass,
          I guess it's hard to focus.

The loud crackle of burning bugs is my primary satisfaction.
I scare my maid when I run around the house
          with my electrical frying contraption.

At only 150 baht, it's easily the best ratio of cost to enjoyment....
house filled with that fried fly smell
          through its judicious employment.

It doesn't work on cats... I tried... as I'm sure you'll likely ask,
But turning it off, and trying to adjust the grid with my finger
          nearly set me on my ass.

So if you want to buy a flyswatter with electrical power.
I can recommend it without hesitation,
          but don't use it in the shower.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Post For My Father

My father is a PE electrical engineer, and an avid hotrodder. This should get him going.

Here ya go dad: 3-phase, 4-pole electric motor, 248hp peak (185kW), 200+ ft lbs of (constant from zero RPM) torque, redline 13,500 rpm, regenerative "engine braking", 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds, 250 miles EPA highway.
I think this quote sums it up:
The Tesla Roadster’s specs illustrate what it does (0 to 60 in about 4 seconds) — as well as what it doesn’t (zero emissions, zero motor oil). With one moving part in the motor, no clutch, and two gears, it’s not only a joy to drive, but to own as well. There is no motor oil to change; no filters, belts, or spark plugs to replace; no oxygen sensors to mistrust before an emissions test — in fact, no emissions test required ever. Other than inspection, the only service we recommend for the first 100,000 miles is brake and tire service.
And for me? This is the first (really attractive, marketable) shot across the bow of big oil and middle eastern dictatorships. Tesla Motors have my best wishes at making this a monstrous success. (Here is another article.)

Daily Report: Playing With The Short Bus Kids

Woke up reasonably well today, and got in half of a half day before Willie stopped by and we moseyed on down to the pool and floated and bobbed and I moved my fatness around in an aquaerobic fashion for a while.

Then it was back home for baloney sandwiches, and having fun rockin' with my blog all afternoon. (I did some work as well... another half half day, but only half speed.)

Bond movie again tonight... Timothy Dalton. Gave up watching due to boredom. I've seen Real Bond now. I just can't go back.

(Today's obscure music reference is "The Dead Milkmen." If you need an off-the-wall lyric, and Morrisey didn't sing it, your second stop should always be these guys... misfits after my own heart.)

(Hat tip to Kireblade. Nice work.)

9 Out Of 10 E-mail Messages Are Now Spam

This is getting ridiculous. They also talk about pirated home computers being used to send e-mails. I'm pretty sure my old stand-apart computer that I use for stupidity like MP3s, personal e-mail, pron, and stuff like that is infected. I've got to take that poor old thing off line and upgrade. Windows 98: Bluh.

Actually, my favorite idea for stopping spam is one that has been around for 14 years, and is pushed by Microsoft: Make each computer "solve a puzzle" (i.e. pause for about 8 or 9 seconds) to send a single e-mail. I send 20 or 30 e-mails a day, and that would be 3 or 4 minutes of my computer's processing time. However, a spammer, in order to send 1 million spam e-mails a day would need 100 computers running full tilt 24 hours a day. (And 1 million e-mails is about 1% of what a spammer sends on an average day.)

It really is time to do something, and working from the source of the e-mail is the best approach.

Easy Entertainment

Pot came into my office today and had taken off his school dress shirt, and was carrying it. I told him to put it back on. Pot — I don't think — has ever put on his own shirt before, but he welcomed the challenge.

(I didn't laugh at him but I had tears rolling down my cheeks on the inside...)

I've never seen so many varied and failed attempts to put on a shirt. Everything from putting it on the floor and trying to put both arms through at once (only to get it stuck going past his head) to somehow (I still don't know how) getting one arm in correctly, but the other arm on inside out and upside down.

Pot finally looked at me (with his arms hoplessly trapped behind his back), and could tell what I was thinking, and burst out laughing too.

Today had a lot of laughing in it... but Pot and his shirt were the highlight.

Monday Vinnie Blogging

Mom and Dad like lots of decorative headwear for Vincent. That's OK. I bought Pot a motorcycle helmet that looks like a ladybug, complete with antennae. So the funny hats on kids thing must run in the family.

Mormon Educational Series

Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, and a Mormon, is one of the front runners for the Republican Presidential nomination in the 2008 elections. Andrew Sullivan started off quite a stir when he said (paraphrased), "If a candidate for office is religious, I welcome him without questioning about his religion. If a candidate for office says his religion will dictate how he governs, then... well... I do have a few questions about his religion." Here is a great quote from Sullivan to sum it up:

"For my part, I'm uninterested in Romney's personal religious practices. But I am concerned that Romney believes that America had a "divine founding". When? Does he mean the Declaration of Independence? Does he mean the period when Mormons believe Jesus arrived in America and hung out for a while shortly after the resurrection? Or when exactly? A person's private faith is irrelevant to me. But if it means he holds that one country on earth has a special divine founding, then that has serious ramifications for foreign policy, at the very least. Could someone fill me in on what Romney may mean by America's "divine founding"? Obviously Washington and Jefferson weren't gods (although Mormons believe they now could be, right?) So what role did the Mormon God play in founding America? This is an important question for understanding a potential president's political philosophy. And since the theocons believe in bringing religious doctrine into the public square as a basis for political decisions, and Romney is the theocon candidate, how can they object to the dialogue?"
Of course, the subject eventually moved to the discussion about Mormon underwear. (Not because Andrew wanted to know what would happen to America if the President wore faith-based boxers, but because he simply didn't know about it previously, and thought it was interesting.) That of course led to Mormons basically saying, "We don't talk about those things."


I grew up near Palmyra (where Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church grew up), and went to the Hill Cumorah pagent there (performed upon the hill on which the golden tablets were found). I enjoyed the show, and found it interesting... but in the same way I found studying the Greek pantheon interesting. Mormonism is a religion that, the more you know about it, the more you discover how vastly different it is from Christianity, which is a fact that most people don't realize.

That brings us to a new series put out by (liberal comedian playing the part of Conservative blowhard and rabble-rouser) "Jesus' General JC Christian", which explores some of Mormonism's more interesting facets.

Now, if anybody wants to complain to me (or JC Christian) about poking fun at Mormons, hold your breath: Nobody is making this stuff up. Nobody is embellishing the facts. Nobody is passing judgment. The only leaps of logic that are occurring are that: (1) the writings of the Mormon faith say X, Y, and Z; (2) all good Mormons believe the writings of the Mormon faith; (3) Mitt Romney is a good mormon.

So, when we say that Mitt Romney believes that "God lives on a planet near a star called Kolob." That's a perfectly fair logical conclusion based on the fact that he is a Mormon.

And, just to add: I don't care what your opinion is regarding Mormon teachings. If you ever find yourself near Rochester, New York, then go check out the Hill Cumorah pageant. It's a pretty cool thing to see, its free, and I promise you will enjoy it immensely.

As for any truth in religion, I could care less. My opinion is that if a religion makes all of its followers generally nicer, more prone to help the unfortunate, and more peaceful and tolerant, then it is a good religion. If a religion makes certain of its members generally more close-minded, ignorant, intolerant and violent, then it is a bad religion.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Daily Report: The Blessing Of Beerless Birthdays

Today, it was off to Steve's house for his son Bobby's fourth birthday party. In Pattaya, kid's birthdays are really important to the expatriate community, because it is one of the few regular ways to get a dozen families together all at one time. (And we expatriates do truly enjoy going to a social event where heavy drinking is actually a bad thing. It makes us feel responsible for a change.)

There were two birthdays actually, Steve's son, and Owen's daughter. So Steve had purchased 2 piñatas for the occasion. The first piñata broke open easily, but the second one took quite a bit of bashing to get open, but finally a big pile of candy landed on Steve's driveway, and a mad scramble ensued. (I got all the Snickers bars, although I had to beat several of the other kids away with the piñata stick.) Everybody bought remote control cars for Bobby, so there were half a dozen of them zooming around the driveway, living room, and front patio.

After that, all the kids wound up in the pool, and Bobby blew out his candles poolside. Two clowns showed up and made balloon animals. Grandma and Grandpa Blumenthal took videos and enjoyed watching the kids play. Most of the guys sat around in the air conditioning of Steve's living room talking about real estate in between helping kids put batteries in toys, or making funny faces at babies, or grabbing a camera and walking off to capture a bit of memorabilia for the day.

Aussie Owen introduced Pot and Kevin to silly string. Pot started to cry when he first got a bunch of the stuff on him, but then quickly turned into a crackerjack marksman when given a bottle of his own silly string and was sent to retaliate against Owen. The general rule is "expatriate = big kid."

Pui, as per usual, homed in on the nearest baby and stared at the little lump of joy all googly-eyed until the baby's mother loaned her over to Pui's adoring arms. (Everybody bugs Pui on a regular basis that one child is not enough, but Pui is still making up her mind on that particular subject... although her keen interest in every baby that she sees does make one speculate what she is really thinking.)

Anyway, I got a quarter day of work in before the party, and a quarter day of work in after coming home. Here is to hoping that next week sees me actually doing a real day's work. Readers Voted Most Retarded by JIP

Story: Tuktuk driver on Phuket stabs tourist over fare dispute. readers comments (paraphrased):

1. If the tourist knew Thai culture better this wouldn't have happened.
2. Why was the tourist arguing in the first place?
3. Well, the tourist was Welsh. (Jil: OK, I know that was a joke.)
4. The tourist was drunk, so he probably deserved it.
5. The tuktuk driver should be ripping off drunk tourists. It's only fair.
6. The tuktuk driver did what any Thai person does in this situation.
7. The British are all criminals, so why judge the Thai guy so quickly?
8. Blame the Phuket government for not hiring nice tuktuk drivers.
9. It was 3:30 a.m., so the tourist obviously had it coming.

What a bunch of apologist douchebags.

These people honestly believe that certain tourist behavior naturally and always should lead to a Thai putting them in the hospital. They think, without apology or doubt, that if you go against the Thai way of things, the Thais ("they're barbarians, but they're our barbarians, dammit, and we love them") have every right become violent and assault people.

I don't know why, but there are so many foreigners like this who live in Thailand who honestly think that stabbing and robbing tourists is (and should be) just a normal part of Thai culture. They believe that certain tourists are just naturally inclined — by their behavior or ignorance — to be culled from the tourist herd. They use catch phrases like "TIT" (which stands for "This Is Thailand", meaning that it bears no further explanation), or "som nam na" (which means "too bad for you" in Thai, or, translated into that mocking Simpson's kid's laugh: "Hah Hah!") to ridicule tourist ignorance and excuse Thai behavior.

(As an aside, I do riducle tourists who are duped into taking knockout pills by prostitutes, and then get robbed of all of their belongings. But, (1) it is hard to argue that theirs is not a grand stupidity, and (2) I don't make excuses for the prostitutes who do it.)

Anyway, as I said, apologist douchebags. Each and every one.

Miss Alcazar Crowns Top Female Impersonator

Transsexuals, or in the local English slang "ladyboys", or the local language "kathoey", are one of Pattaya's biggest tourist attractions.

From the 2 monstrous venues of Tiffany's and Alcazar, each doing 3 Moulin Rouge style shows a night to thousands of Asian tourists, all the way down to the pickpocketing drug addicts who prowl Beach Road after midnight, ladyboys are everywhere in Pattaya. (You might even walk into Burger King, and have your order taken by a feminine, lipsticked, powdered Thai man.)

Ladyboys are immensely popular in Asia and particularly in Thailand. Thus, every year, both the Tiffany Show and Alcazar hold annual pageants to find Thailand's prettiest ladyboy, and they are nationally televised events. (Also, Tiffany's started an international competition a couple of years ago. This year's winner was Miss Mexico.) This week, Alcazar had it's pagaent.

Anyway, if you ever come to Pattaya, I've seen both Tiffany's and Alcazar's shows and enjoyed the hell out of both of them. They are huge productions... the world's largest drag shows, if you will, with million-dollar production budgets. They are worth a visit.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Daily Report: Beach and Barbeque

Pui, Pot, and I joined Willie and Kak, Gong and Birt for a day at the beach. We rented a boat for $50 and had ourselves ferried out to the islands off of Pattaya for sun and surf. Great effin' weather, considering that when I woke up the clouds were really threatening over my house.

As per usual, whenever I get out to Larn Island (called "Ko Larn" in localese), I had my kilo of crab. Willie and I soaked in the warm water. Kak and Pui ate and ate. Kong, Birt, and Pot played and played. Typical makings for a perfect tropical day.

As the sun was setting, we had our boat back take us back to Pattaya. We noticed the new tourist submarine out in the bay as well. That might be fun to do someday.

Anyway, it is so much nicer going out to Ko Larn on your own private boat. It was 20 minutes from standing on Beach Road to sitting down in your beach chair on Ko Larn — as opposed to 1 hour-plus-plus when going by the slow ferry. (Granted, the slow ferry is $4 per person, so if you're tight on cash, it'll at least get you with sand between your toes.)

When we got back to town, Kak invited us back to the bungalow for barbeque, and we spent the evening drinking Heinekens and eating grilled squid, shrimp and chicken. (Dont'cha love Willie's and Kak's place? $130 a month, plus utilities.) Well, at about 8:00 I was tired and ready to go home, but Pui, having a blast chit-chatting, gave me an earfull about not wanting to leave, so I went in and fell asleep on Willie's bed until 10:00 when Pui woke me up and we finally got home after a very long, lovely day.

Lil' Six-Legged Bastards

If ants in America were as fast, cunning, and effective as the ants here in Thailand, they would hold a majority of Congress right now, as well as The Stanley Cup.

10 minutes.

That's how much time passes between setting something down on a table, and coming back and finding a dozen ants having a fiesta. That number doubles about every 10 minutes after that.

I'm going to have to spray.

OK Mom, I'll Believe You Now When You Say It

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force.
Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

The View From My Window

A few months ago, columnist and blogger Andrew Sullivan had the brilliant idea of asking people to mail in photos of the view out the window next to the desk where they read his blog at. I guess what he expected was a desk lamp and pencil holder in the foreground, and perhaps the skyline of Soho or the mountains of Arizona in the background. What he got instead was a collection of some of the most amazing backyard, frontyard and plain old beautiful shots ever from all over the world. He was going to run the series for just a couple of days, but "The View From Your Window" series has been so popular that he has had it going now for a couple of months, and it shows no signs of letting up.

Now obviously, I have nothing remotely interesting to photograph from my window... or at least anything that Andrew Sullivan would put on his blog... but I know that at least my mother would be interested, and hence:

The view from my window.

Daily Report: Dinner And A Movie

I got in a half day's work, but managed to spread it out over a full day.

After that, it was out to dinner with Stan and Mem to L'Oliviers, and then back to Stan's house to watch The Life Of Brian. Then, home to bed.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Comedy Central Versus You Tube

First off: I love You Tube. I truly believe that they are one of the most important websites on the internet in the last 5 years, and probably one of the top 3 most important in the history of the internet so far. They basically brought internet-based video to the masses... and did it in a such way as to avoid piracy. That's exceptionally important when you think about it.

Now, along comes Comedy Central and tells You Tube "No more shall our videos appear on You Tube!"

How stupid is that?

First: The Daily Show and a hundred times moreso, The Colbert Report owe a lot of their success to You Tube. I doubt there are many people who have stopped watching Comedy Central because of You Tube. More likely, every time somebody watches a Stewart or Colbert clip on You Tube, it reminds them to tune into Comedy Central that night.

Second: Why the fuss? (1) Nobody is selling Comedy Central's content. (2) Nobody is modifying Comedy Central's content. (3) Nobody is copying Comedy Central's content from You Tube. (4) Nobody is otherwise profiting from Comedy Central's content. Most importantly, (5) Comedy Centeral sure as hell isn't paying a penny for having their content hosted on You Tube. (Do you have any idea how much 50,000 hits of a 10 megabyte file costs the host server in bandwith? That's 500 gigabytes. That's more than $1,000 for just a single video clip. You Tube was hosting 15 or 20 Comedy Central clips a month like that.) With Comedy Central hosting all its own videos now, it is paying for the server bandwidth instead of You Tube.

And finally, Third: Why would Comedy Central want to make it inconvenient to view these clips? Putting a You Tube video on a blog is a simple thing. You just copy and paste. You Tube's video player and the selected video are embedded right into the blog. It's easy and user friendly to watch the videos. One click on the You Tube viewer is all it takes to start the video playing. Now, in order to view a Comedy Central clip, you have to first click on a link that takes you to Comedy Central's web site. Then, most annoyingly, you have to actually locate the video you are looking for (assuming it is still on the front page, otherwise it is off to the archives!), and then you have to pop open Comedy Central's video player. Compared to the "Oh look! (click)" of You Tube, watching a Comedy Central video now now falls in "Why bother?" territory.

I can't figure out what the folks at Comedy Central (and any other television channel who is saying, "Please stop exposing our shows to millions of potential viewers.") were thinking here. I really can't. I just hope that eventually they pull their heads out of their collective asses and start allowing people access to their content via You Tube again.

The Popular Sport of Suicide In Pattaya

A large number of people commit a voluntary checkout from this mortal coil while on holiday in Pattaya. It's not that suprising really: Life goes down and down and down, and thus desparate people come to Pattaya where life is (supposedly) as good as it gets for one last hurrah before going home for good. Sick people, sad people, ruined people, fugitive people... always lonely people. They all come here for one last drink, one last cuddle. Then they do it.

Of course, this begs the question of the logic behind having 2 shooting ranges in Pattaya. They are exceptionally popular (once, twice) places for suicidal people to visit and rent a gun to... well... fire off a couple of shots.

I suppose — to be macabre about it — if there weren't shooting ranges in Pattaya, that would just mean that instead of 50 people a year in Pattaya taking a header off their hotel balcony, it would be 53 or 54.

Hey. That's Muh Boy Yer Talkin' Bout. I'll Slap Ya.

What is really telling is that this was a group of Arab businessmen and businesswomen cheering the badmouthing of (the current) President Bush in front of his father. Well, I can't say he (they) didn't have it coming. I can't say he (they) shouldn't be surprised. (Tip 'o the hat to C&L.)

The oil-rich Persian Gulf used to be safe territory for former president Bush, an oil man who brought Arab leaders together in a coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's troops out of Kuwait in 1991.

But gratitude for the elder Bush, who served as president from 1989-93, was overshadowed by the foreign policy of his son, whose invasion of Iraq and support for Israel are deeply unpopular here.

"We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world," a woman audience member bluntly told Bush after his keynote speech.

Bush appeared stunned as the audience of young business leaders whooped and whistled in approval.

The retired president had just finished a folksy address on leadership by telling the audience how deeply hurt he feels when his son the president is criticized.

Being in Thailand, outside looking in at America, it really is stunning how much the world has turned on America in just a few years.

I genuinely suspect that at this late date, if we had dropped nuclear bombs on Afghanistan immediately after 9-11 and killed thousands of innocents (along with Osama Bin Laden), 5 years after having done such a thing, we would probably be better-liked today in the world than we are now with the ever-annoying war in Iraq hanging over our heads like a sachet of limburger cheese.

A Post For My Sister

My sister, Nancy, has a PhD in Mathematics from Columbia University. Therefore, this attempt at math humor is probably the equivalent of a fart joke for her, but the rest of us mere mathematical mortals should appreciate it.

Why Thailand Is Better

When I woke up today, my allergic sinusitis was ridiculous, and my cough from postnasal drip had woken me up several times last night.

I sent Pui to the store with one word written on the back of a business card: "Allergies."

Pui went to the pharmicist and came back with cetirizine to block histamines, theophylline to stop bronchospasm, and prednisilone, a corticosteroid.

Total cost? $2. Time required? 10 minutes.

Friday Cat Blogging

Today on NatGeo, we see a fight to the death between a cat (Felis domesticus) and a predatory toothbrush (Dentis sparklingus). Note the innocuous approach of the toothbrush towards the cat. Playing the bristly, standoffish oral hygiene aide is the toothbruth's ploy to lure its prey.

The cat, falling for this false sense of security, picks up the toothbrush and she is allured by the minty scent of it's prickly fur... yet another facet that the toothbrush uses to draw in its next meal. Still though, even at this late stage, the toothbrush feigns inaction.

The cat, thinking she has found incredible luck to have an edible, minty thing within fall blithely within her grasp, foolishly, and fatally, brings the toothbrush close to her own mouth for her first bite. Upon sensing the dental decay closing in around it, the toothbrush acts.

Quickly, the toothbrush springs to life, and rapidly dominates its hapless prey. The cat, taken clearly by surprise, rears back, but the toothbrush is already doing it's job, attacking plaque and fish breath mercilessly. The cat's teeth cannot withstand the onslaught.

The cat is on her back, using the last of her energy to try to pry the carnivorous toothbrush from her jaws, but it is too late. The minty fresh scent that the cat had found so appealing earlier is now an overpowering odor, filling the cat's senses as she slips into darkness.

The cat, now conquered by the smaller, yet stronger toothbrush (whose regular diet of flouride-rich Crest makes it healthy and powerful), lies still, eyes glazing over, as the toothbrush completes its final work of the hunt, gorging itself on leftover bug bits from between teeth.

And, finally we witness what is one of the stranger habits of the wild carnivorous toothbrush: After killing its prey, the wild toothbrush will lie next to the carcass of it's most recent meal, and keep itself warm in the fading body heat of the recently deceased.