Saturday, March 31, 2007

Daily Report: Sucky Saturday

I only worked for about 90 minutes today, but did almost 700 lines. Still though... a very bad day since my goal on Saturdays is 1,800 lines.

The DSL internet is down and I'm switched over to dial-up, which sucks too.

I watched some educational type programs this evening: A documentary on Drake's voyage along the West Coast of North and South America, and then a documentary on the early life of Mohammed. Maid Go cooked chicken with peanut sauce, and sticky rice.

Off to bed nice and early for a change.

Eight Minutes of Exotic Cars and Techno Music

Something that seems fitting for a Saturday afternoon.

(Hat tip to my old friend from college, SYAO.)

Conservatives, Christians And The Environment

The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. Leviticus 25:23-24.

One of the most surprising things about Republicans to me is their adamant refusal to engage and embrace pro-environmental issues as part of their own agenda. The most conservative thing you can do is to conserve... and yet you have Republican radio talk show hosts telling us that we should not be worrying about protecting endangered species through conservative logging and fishing practices; that we should be pooh-poohing alternative energy initiatives because they are more expensive than carbon-based fuels; and, most noticeably, that we should be questioning and dismissing the science behind global warming.

Christian resistance to environmentalism is even more difficult to understand. If you are a Christian, what do you think Jesus would have to say about polluted rivers, extinct species, vanished forests, and acid rain? If anybody has a duty to preserve and protect the environment, it is Christians, who are told from the very first pages of the Bible that they were given dominion over this planet by God, and it is their responsibility, as instructed by God, to care for it.

(Now don't get me wrong: I'm not a big fan of government-sponsored environmental regulations, because they DO have a tendency to infringe on property rights. However, I am a fan of government-sponsored environmental initiatives, such as calling for "an X% reduction in such-and-such pollution in 5 years" and then giving incentives to accomplish (or disincentives to ignore) the initiatives. But foremost of all, I believe that it is up to us, as a society, to be careful with our immediate environment, and to be conscientious of the environment when we purchase goods and conduct business.)

Anyway, here is an evangelical pastor who is insisting that people practice environmentalism as part of a Christian life. Pastor Joel Hunter has decided to place some of his focus on parts of the Bible that instruct people to care for the earth and everything in it... and he is receiving a great reception from the thousands of people he preaches to.

I have a message for Rush Limbaugh and Senator Inhofe and all of the conservative bloggers out there who think that making fun of Al Gore and his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is a great way to save big business and the oil companies and auto manufacturers from having to implement "unnecessary" expensive, environmental friendly programs: It's a message that smart, caring, concerned, Christian people are ignoring, and rightly so. Whatever point these pro-pollution pundits may have to make, it can't trump the original point that the Bible made in Genesis: "God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

The pro-environment message is really simple to grasp: Regardless of what anybody tells you about greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, drilling in the Arctic, saving the spotted owl, reducing our dependence on oil... it doesn't mean a damn thing. It doesn't usurp the most simple message of all... the message that everybody should live by: This is our planet, and we should respect it, manage it, conserve it, and care for it. No more. No less.

The One-More-Reason-To-Love-Firefox Post

Okay... actually this is a reason to dislike Firefox.

When you have a dodgy internet like I do, sometimes not all the images on a webpage download. Then you wind up with the "broken picture" empty space on your webpage (see below). In Internet Explorer, of course, you just right click on the broken image, and select "Show Picture", and IE makes another attempt to download the photo.

Firefox seems to have no such option. If you select "View Image", it will give you options to open the image in another browser window, but not to just retry to download the image and place it where it belongs.

If anybody knows how get Firefox to do this (without refreshing the entire page, naturally), let me know. Otherwise, I have to count that as my first complaint about Firefox.

In Internet Explorer above, you can right click on a broken image
and try to download it again. Firefox below has no such option.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Daily Report: Captain's Corner and Quatermass

My work went about the same as yesterday: 5 hours, 2000 lines... half a day.

For dinner, it was out to Captain's Corner all you can eat 350 baht steak buffet. Captain's Corner is on Thappraya Road (the road that runs over the hill between Pattaya and Jomtien... hop on any baht bus going to Jomtien, and you go on Thappraya Road). It is about 300 meters up from the intersection of Thappraya and Third Road (where the overpass is) on the left side with a brick wall in front of it to block out traffic.

It's a fine meal if you like steak... just steak... and only steak. They have a buffet of Thai food and a small salad bar but really: Steak, only steak. The selection of steaks is fair, and they are cooked pretty well. However, if you want a side of vegetables, or gravy — although I didn't ask, so I can't say for sure — they aren't to be found. (They did have baked potatoes and corn on the cob though.)

The decor is really nice, being an outdoor restaurant in a courtyard with some nice plant life, some sculptures, fountains, a nearby swimming pool, and the staff was better than average.

After dinner, it was back to Stan's house where we watched the first half of the 3-hour BBC miniseries from 1958 called Quatermass And The Pit, which is a sci-fi thriller about finding a 5-million-year-old spaceship buried under London. Stan first watched it when he was 6 or 7 years old, and described it as the scariest thing he had ever seen, and claimed that he had watched most of it "while hiding behind the settee" in his living room. I don't think it is a scary movie for grownups, but the story is great... really great. I'm looking forward to watching the second half.

Friday Cat Blogging

As the weather heats up here in Thailand, everybody is looking for ways to stay cool. Poopy Cat has found the tiles in the bathroom to be quite nice.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quotacious

"Let's begin in Washington, where I am pleased to say that after just a few scant months in power, congressional Democrats have made great strides in their efforts to lose the war in Iraq. Last Friday, the House put yet another cherry on its treason sundae by narrowly passing a war spending bill calling for the end of combat operations by next September. A plan Republicans immediately denounced as an admission of failure, opposed to their plan, which is failure without admission."

John Stewart

Daily Report: Half Day, Moving Day

I was up early, thanks to Poopy Cat making a racket. Well... 8:00 is sort of early. I spent most of the morning installing a firewall on my old computer. It has always been a virus receptacle, and since I don't e-mail from it, don't do anything except graphic editing, MP3 downloading, and pron surfing, I just left the viruses alone, and they me.

However, My Old Faithful, Control Center 107, has been starting to get buggy lately, so I evicted the viruses, and am now talking to you from the secure confines of a firewall. "Can you hear me??? Good." (It's from an old Verizon commercial... you youngsters wouldn't get it.)

My first half of the day went well: 2,000 lines in 5 hours... my standard. Riza and Maid Go got together today, and Go learned how to make cottage pie, which is what I had for lunch at 4:00. After that, I took a nap. However, instead of getting back to work, I decided to cash in my chips and call it a day. Instead, I went downstairs, and had an evening of Discovery Channel. Mike joined me at 7:00 and we watched "Really Big Things" and "Mythbusters."

Pui and all of her friends in the neighborhood spent the day helping another friend move. Now she is sitting at the friend's new house passing the bottle around. She'll be home late.

The One-More-Reason-To-Love-Firefox Post

My eye is easily distracted. Whenever I'm reading a website, and there is one of those flashy advertisements over on the side, it always grabs my eye and makes me lose my place when I'm reading. With Firefox, no problem: Right click on the picture, and select "Block Images from _____.com" and in a few seconds, you are left with a nice, peaceful empty space. Way cool.

Boneheaded Iranians Making Fools Of Themselves

So Iran seizes 15 British sailors who were part of a boarding party inspecting a merchant ship, claiming that the ship the sailors were operating from, the HMS Cornwall, was in Iranian waters at the time.

In response, Britain provides a set of coordinates indicating where the sailors were captured, showing the HMS Cornwall to be in Iraqi waters... not Iranian waters.

Iran comes back with, "Oh of course you would give false coordinates to try to prove us wrong. THESE are the actual coordinates where we captured your sailors." (And they provided a new set of coordinates where they insisted the HMS Cornwall was operating.)

Problem is that the new set of coordinates the Iranians provided also shows the British sailors were captured in Iraqi waters... not Iranian waters.

And we're nervous that this country might develop a nuclear weapon? They can't even find their own country (or at least it's territorial waters) on a map.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quotacious

There's good news for Iraqi nature lovers. A newly formed conservation group called Nature Iraq has published the country's first ever bird guide. Yes! What a great place to go birding! Let's say we throw on some camouflage, grab some high-powered binoculars, and go lurk. What could go wrong? ... Still, you have to admire the optimism. Imagine a day when Iraqis will want to see something flying towards them in the air."

Lewis Black (Daily Show)

Ladyboys Rounded Up, Fined, And Released

I think that one of the principal problems with ladyboys in Pattaya is that there isn't a ladyboy gogo bar for them to work in. There is the Jenny Star Bar for kathoeys on Walking Street, but I think that the central, open-front, very public location scares off a lot of potential customers who are a little bit shy about being seen hitting on a ladyboy. I think the ladyboys know this, and that is why they go to the shadows of Beach Road.

Somebody could make a fair amount of money by opening up a transsexual gogo bar in Pattaya that is someplace close to — but not directly on — the major tourist thoroughfares in Pattaya. God knows that there are enough guys out there who like ladyboys a whole bunch to support one gogo bar... and God knows there are enough good-looking ladyboys in Pattaya to staff one gogo bar.

Anyway, as things are now, the ladyboys all hang out on Beach Road and eventually they start being stupid and pissing everybody off. Then the cops come along, round them all up, charge them 200 baht... (I like this sentence in the article: "Because this group were not seen committing a crime they could only be fined 200 Baht each at Pattaya Police Station before being released." It tells you a lot about a ladyboy's bottom-of-the-barrel status in Pattaya) ... before sending them right back to what they were doing before.

Wednesday Pot Blogging

I took Pot's picture, and then while he was standing here, cropped it, and uploaded it. He thought it was all really cool.

Daily Report: Golden Parachute

Another fine day of work. My 2-week pay periods always start off like gangbusters, but the last few days revolve around the sentiment, "Well, there's always the next pay period to get some real work done."

By the way... I'm really enjoying Firefox. Thanks to reader Andy for getting on my case about getting my blog to work with Firefox, causing me to download it. It's a really nice interface. I definitely recommend it.

I'm watching the dollar keep going down against the baht. Now I'm reading that the housing market in America is about to go kaboom. Well, that can' be good.

I've decided that when I get my tax return check, I'm just going to do the same thing I did last year: Buy gold, and then cash it in when I need to over the year. I had originally thought that I would just keep the money in my American bank and wait for the baht to reverse itself before putting my hands on it, but it looks like that hoped-for reversal won't be happening anytime soon. It's probably best to get my money changed over to baht immediately... before I lose even more on the exchange rate. (And I figure if I keep the money in gold, then in case the baht should go kaboom as well, the value of gold might not follow it.)

I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to buying that 70-inch Sony high-definition television, but just in the past 4 weeks while waiting for my check, the exchange rate has caused the price of it to go up $400. I like to waste my money... but that's different. It can wait.

Oh well. Nothing else I can do about it really.

I've got a toothache... had a toothache. Lots of Tylenol, Norgesic, and Drambuie and I'm now numb from the neck up. Neck down too, now that I think about it.

10-Year-Old Driver Illegal But Okay Say Police

It's one of the things that foreigners in Thailand — especially foreigners from Europe and America, et. al. — have to learn to accept: There are laws in Thailand, but the police are allowed to ignore or enforce the law as they deem necessary. In America or Europe, if you break a law, the police may decide to let you off with a warning — as long as you don't plan on repeating the offense — but they will always enforce the law by stopping you from doing whatever it was you were doing. However in Thailand, the police may simply decide that the law doesn't... or shouldn't... apply for a given circumstance, and will allow the law to be broken in the interest of either common sense, propriety, or just because they don't feel like hassling people. (Other not-so-nice reasons will go unmentioned, natch.)

Here we have a 10-year-old kid who helps his parents out with their delivery business by driving a van around their neighborhood. Is it illegal for 10 year old kids to drive in Thailand? Of course. Are the police going to stop him? Of course not.
Muang Nakhon Ratchasima deputy commander Pol Lt Col Prasit Premkamol said allowing children aged 10 years old to get behind a wheel was illegal, according to traffic laws.

However, this was a case of a "good kid" helping his parents and the boy only drove around his neighbourhood. Thus, permission could be granted, the officer said, adding that Satang must not be allowed on main roads with heavy traffic or to drive long distances.
Well, I don't have a problem with it: I don't live in the kid's neighborhood, so I don't have to worry about him plowing me down. I'll have a problem when every other 10 year old kid helping out with his parents' business decides that they want to be a "good kid" and get behind the wheel. After all, we now know: It's illegal... but it's okay.

Hat tip George at Thaivisa.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bar Girl Stabs Customer In His Apartment

This is a new one for me: A bar girl, on a barfine at a customer's apartment, wound up stabbing the guy who barfined her.

Now of course, Thai wives and girlfriends stab their farang boyfriends all the time... the old "crime of passion". However, this is more or less a case a Thai girl trying to kill a guy she just met. Self defense maybe? If so, didn't just menacing with the knife do the trick? Regardless... it must have been one hell of an argument to have on a first date. Well... that's what you get for barfining girls from Soi 6.

I can't imagine what this old fellow could have done to warrant a punctured lung... not that anything warrants a punctured lung, of course... and hope they catch Ms. Psychogirl soon. She probably should be easy to find, since she was a barfine.
Update:

Well they caught the girl. He says / she says. They both agree that she didn't get paid for services rendered. He says she came back to the place with a knife and demanded all his money and attacked him. She says she forgot her purse in the apartment and she was defending herself when the guy attacked her when she went back.

Quotacious

"Dick Cheney again this week was in the hospital. He was experiencing discomfort in his leg. And the doctor asked Cheney if he stretches. Cheney said, 'Are you kidding? I linked 9/11 with Saddam Hussein.'"

Bill Maher

Daily Report: Temple Fair

Great day of work today. After work had a beer with Mike.

At 8:00 it was off to the temple fair with Pui, Pot, Maid Go, and Mike's Riza. Pui was all excited about going. As we drove down the road all the way there, she would see her friends and call out, "Hi Nok! We're going to the temple fair!" "Hey Gob! Turn off the TV and come to the temple fair!"

The first thing Pui did was walk us straight to the massage tent, where she plopped me down in a chair and picked out the strongest hands in the house and had them massage my feet while she and Maid Go (and Pot) went and made merit at the temple. When my massage was finished, I bought Pot a plastic sword filled with blinking lights for $2.

After that, it was off to play on the bumper cars. Bumper cars in Thailand are a little bit different than they are in America. First of all, they go about twice as fast as the ones in America — about the speed of a brisk jog. They hit each other so hard that a high-speed collision right on the side of another car will heave that edge of the car a good 7 or 8 inches off the ground. It's not a gentle sport, and you will likely bruise something. Second, there is no wall around the bumper car arena. Everybody gathers round like it's a dance floor. You know it's your turn to drive when all the headlights on the cars go out. Then, without waiting for the cars to stop moving, everybody rushes out and jumps in on one side of the bumper car while the prior occupant gets out on the other side. If you don't get a car on the first try... get off the dance floor before you get run over, and wait for the next chance.

Oh and the best parts: There is no foot pedal accelerator — the car just goes as fast as it can until you turn off the electricity. And, there are no seatbelts. (Oh, and of course, we have Thai people and electricity again: When the bent hanger thingy pressing against the electrified overhead mesh stops working, the ride operators will come over, dodging speeding cars, and reach up and adjust it for you. If that doesn't work, they have a spare bent hanger thingy in their back pocket and will do a quick change out right on the spot to get you on your way.)

Can Pot go on the bumper cars? Why of course he can. As far as the ride operators are concerned, if Pot wishes to become a little 40-pound projectile in a high speed collision, that's his business... not theirs.

Pot hopped in a car with Riza before I had time to formulate the "why might this be a bad idea?" thought, and off they went. The first smack, and Pot bounced off the front padding. Second smack and he got up close and personal with the steering wheel. Of course, what could Riza do? She was in a car with a stuck accelerator and no brakes. One of the ride operators saw Pot's dilemma and came jogging out and sat down on the edge of the car and proceeded to prove that he is the Jackie Stewart of bumper cars by spending the next 4 minutes driving Riza and Pot around without a single collision.

Afterwards, Pot came staggering off the dance floor, rubbing his forehead where he bashed it on the steering wheel. "Can I go again mom?"

Instead, we put him on the little airplanes-go-in-a-circle ride for 15 minutes before calling it a night.

The Bifurcated Exchange Rate Mystery

We have to accept as fact the comment that one of my readers made (his logon is "Aquanauts Dive Centre & Instructor Training Internships", which isn't really a name, so we'll call him "ADC" for short) regarding what has happened with the Thai exchange rate: That there is one exchange rate inside of Thailand, and one exchange rate outside of Thailand. (If you look at the exchange rate tracker on my blog, you can see this in action: The Coinmill exchange rate currently reads 34.75 (we'll call it 35 for ease of math), and the Yahoo.com exchange rate currently reads 32.5.)

Indeed: There are 2 exchange rates. Can't argue with that. However, this is theoretically impossible.

Think about it this way: I have $1,000. I go to someplace that is offering the 35 baht exchange rate, and from there, I receive 35,000 baht. I take that 35,000 baht and go to the "offshore market", and I sell my 35,000 baht at the 32.5 baht rate and receive $1,075. I repeat that 5 times and I have $1,500. That's $500 for doing nothing more than shuffling money around a few times. I could make millions in a very short period of time with zero risk.

Is this really what happens? I assume not, because otherwise (a) everybody would be doing it, and (b) simple economic impetus through the flow of currency between the two exchange forums would correct the different rates until they achieved parity... which is why I said it is theoretically impossible.

However, as I said: Hard to argue with your own two eyes. There are 2 different exchange rates. A mystery indeed.

I'm hoping that Mr. ADC is still around, or someone with an equal surfeit of knowledge on currency exchange will come along to explain this. I'd really like to know... or I'd really like to know where I can get in on the currency exchange action. I could use a quick million.
UPDATE: Reader Jakal responds.
I am no expert on the exchange rate system. The statement of 2 different exchange rates is correct and all currencies have this. It is not new to Thailand. What is new is Thailand has been manipulating thier onshore rate as compared to the offshore rate thereby causing a large gap between the 2. They do this to protect thier exporters profits and investments.

If it worked as they planned they could control the currency rate in Thailand. The problem is to do this they must keep buying dollars from the world markets to prop up the dollar because it is weak around the world due to the Housing slump and Iraq. Also no matter how many dollars they buy they cant do it forever which is why I see the onshore and offshore rates getting closer to each other. Which will cause it to strengthen even more.

My opinion is that this will lead the Thai economy crashing down in 1 year due to an impossible policy.

Many countries manipulate thier currency rates especially China and US. But they also only go so far to do this. Thailand has gone too far by investing millions. Also making failed policies of business protectionism. I dont wish this to happen but it is inevitable and too late to make corrections to fix it.

The ability to make money by buying onshore and selling offshore is possible. The problem with that is many banking rules inside and outside of Thailand are designed to prevent large profiting by doing that. We are prevented from taking currency out of Thailand through the protectionist system Thailand has set up recently. We are also limited by the amount you can carry on your person to $10000 dollars at least in the US. Lastly it would have to be a pretty large split between the 2 rates to make it profitable due to the fees charged by banking institutions associated with foreign currency exchange around the world.

MY advice is to position your portfolio for the the day the economy crashes if you want to profit. When it happens thier will be great deals to be made for those who have the liquidity to take advantage of the situation. But whatever you do dont keep it in a Thai Bank! Save now and reap the rewards in July 2008 when the currency rates reverse thier current trend. The Baht will be the weakest it has ever been and the dollar will be the strongest around the world again.

Most people will ignore my advise and will regret the opportunity they have missed. To each their own.

UPDATE #2:

Reader Soros came in and left a comment that makes my head hurt with its brilliance. I won't copy and paste it here, because it will make this post far too long... but you're a grownup and can click over to the comments yourself.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Daily Report: Cottage Pie

I only worked in the afternoon today... but got the right amount of work done for an afternoon, which is an improvement. I spent the morning working on the article on exchange rates, which is generating quite a bit of interest. The numbers of the exchange rate I mentioned were incorrect (as explained to me by my readers; thank you all) but I think that the fundamental economic factors I postulated about are still valid — if not quite as acute as they would have been with an even lower exchange rate.

Anyway, Riza cooked dinner for Mike and I tonight: Cottage pie, and it was quite excellent.

After that, it was back home to mess around on the internet for a while.

Don Muang Airport Is Open Once Again

Domestic flights are now flying to and from Don Muang airport, although all international flights, as well as domestic tourist-heavy flights (i.e. flights to and from Phuket, Chiang Mai, et. al.) are still landing at the new Suvarnabhumi airport.

It's cool that Don Muang is open again. It seems like the ultimate "Welcome To Thailand": Landing at an airport where your plane could get hit by a golf ball. It just speaks volumes.

(photo courtesy of Ms. Seuss at Flickr)

Farang Faces 7½ To 75 Years For Lese Majeste

Recently, a Swiss man pled guilty to the crime of defacing with spray paint a portrait of the king... one of Thailand's most serious crimes. He faces a minimum sentence of 7½ years, although diplomatic wrangling apparently could get him more leniency.

I'll only add comment by quoting his majesty:
The king himself, who celebrated 60 years on the throne last year, said in an earlier birthday speech that he would no longer take lese-majeste charges seriously as it would put him above criticism.

"I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know," he said. "If you say the king cannot be criticised, it means that the king is not human."
And here is a BBC link that has a few thoughts worth mentioning.
UPDATE:

Since this article seems to be getting a lot of hits, here is the original story I posted back in December. The Farang was quite drunk (no... not an excuse), and may have been hired by Thai people to do it. Just some background for you.

Quotacious

"The White House is adamant that its advisers retain the right, if they so choose, to lie ... without consequence. It's executive privilege. ... If Karl Rove knew he'd one day be forced to testify under oath about the advice he gave the president, he'd have to limit that advice to things that weren't shameful, illegal, or spectacularly bone-headed"

John Oliver (The Daily Show)

Monday Vinnie Blogging

I think Vinnie is trying to suck intelligence out of Ivan through cerebral osmosis.

The Incredible Thai Baht Is Killing Thailand

My own in-depth analysis of what is going to happen.

The Thai baht's value against the dollar continues to fall. In exchange rate vernacular, this is called a "strong" baht: It takes fewer Thai baht to buy dollars now than it has in 20 10 years; you get fewer Thai baht when you exchange your dollars now than you have gotten in 20 10 years. The Thai baht is now 32 to the dollar, whereas a year ago it was 40 baht to the dollar.

What does that mean for Thailand? Well, it's simple: The price of everything in Thailand has gone up 20% or more in the past year for anyone who doesn't deal solely and expressly in Thai Baht. If you'll look in the right-hand column of my blog, you will see an exchange rate area. Click on the 1-year (1Y) buttons and you can see that every major currency on the planet has lost ground to the Thai Baht over the past year. The dollar is merely the worst performer of those currencies.

So, all those companies who were planning big purchases in Thailand — an order from Japan for 50,000 computer hard drives, 30 tons of shrimp for Seattle, or a container loaded with fine Thai silk headed for Korea — are going to put them off until this exchange rate problem goes away (if they assume it will go away, or otherwise cancel them completely). This is going to cause major problems for Thailand: Thailand's export economy is going to grind to a halt eventually as people start "waiting out" what can only be... had better only be... a temporary dip in the exchange rate.

That, of course brings me to the question: What do I predict is going to happen in the long run?

No other southeast Asian currencies have been following the baht's lead: They are all weak against the Thai baht as well. Therefore Thailand can't take the other Asian economies for a ride. Only the Thai export prices are skyrocketing. This leaves foreign importers of Southeast Asian goods with the choice of going to other countries in Southeast Asia to make their purchases, which leaves Thailand markets vulnerable.

Most foreign importers have a fair amount of faith and consistency in where they obtain their product, and will bear some price fluctuation at the expense of having a consistent and reliable supplier, but given enough incentive (such as they have now), they can and will go looking in other places such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia (and even emerging Viet Nam) for better prices on the things they buy. Thai industries will begin losing their foreign customers to nearby countries with more equitable exchange rates and lower labor costs.

The first Thai industry to lose customers will be the farming sector, second will be the low-end manufactured goods sector, third will be the minerals and natural resources sector, fourth will be the service sector, and fifth and finally (should the exchange rate remain poor for long enough) will be the high-end manufactured goods sector.

The question of long-term damage to the Thai economy is one of how many customers the Thai export business loses. If the baht remains strong for more than a few more months, then it is possible that a good portion of Thailand's export customers will have looked into which other countries can provide their products.

Having looked, those customers might have leaped. Every day that the baht stays at this level, this prospect becomes more and more likely. This would cause permanent damage to Thai industries (especially the incredibly vital agricultural sector), because foreign customers aren't as quick to jump back and forth between suppliers of product as domestic ones are. This means that the lost customers of Thai export goods will not return to the Thai markets until the price of those goods (i.e. the exchange rate) is actually better than it was before the baht began its run-up. Therefore, long-term damage to Thai exports will only be completely reversed once the exchange rate climbs up to... oh... some number in the mid-40s, I would guess.

So in the end, Thailand will emerge as a damaged economy. Just how damaged is a function of how many customers the export industry loses to neighboring countries. Just how many customers they lose is a function of the speed in which the Thai baht rebounds. If the Thai baht reverses and starts to improve quickly, then of course, customers will stick around and wait out the current currency crisis. However, if exporters get the impression that the Thai baht is going to remain stuck at this level for a while, or starts to climb in such a way that it is expected to be a very slow recovery, then many export customers will jump ship for better deals in other countries.

It all remains to be seen.

So the final equation is this: (1) How many markets outside of Thailand supply the products that Thailand exports? (Or: 2) How many Thai products can be substituted for something similar, if no supply outside of Thailand exists? (3) How do the prices of other countries' equivalent (or substitute) products compare to Thailand's? (4) How cost-sensitive are the foreign importers of these products? (5) How faithful are the foreign importers of these products to their Thai suppliers?

If you have the answers to those questions, you have the answer to the currency crisis.

My best guess is that the Thai baht really cannot go too much lower. This recent drop of 5% in a single week was probably the deal-breaker. It could be defined as a "ridiculous drop"... too much for the market to bear. Therefore, this is the time when the Thai economy will really see an impact. Look for the exchange rate to start correcting itself soon. Expect to see exchange rates in the high 30's within a few months. That's my best guess.

(Of course, if the Thai government once again decides to get involved in adjusting the value of the Thai baht, then once again all bets are off.)
UPDATE:

I had wondered about the dual exchange rate that had been causing everybody (as well as my 2 different currency exchange tracking programs on my website) to quote 2 different exchange rates: The 32.1 rate and the 34.8 rate. A reader from "Aquanauts Dive Centre & Instructor Training Internships" made a good point, notwithstanding his rather rude description of my writing as "uninformed crap."
You're [sic] blog is a decent diversion, but becomes annoying when you pontificate on something you don't understand correctly.

1) WRONG -- The baht is not the strongest in 20 years. Before 1997 the baht was at 23-24 to the dollar, where it was fixed for decades. [JIP says: Actually, the 20 was a typo... I meant to type 10... don't know why I put 20... two times no less. Thanks for pointing that out. (I remember why now: I was thinking the crash was in 1987 instead of 1997. Sorry.)]

2) WRONG -- The Baht is NOT 32 to the dollar -- at least not anywhere that matters.

Since the currency controls imposed ealier [sic] this year, the Thai forex market has bifurcated. There is now an "onshore" and "offshore" market. The Offshore market is very very VERY small and, as a result, very volatile. Hence the reampant [sic] speculation and soaring Baht rate.

It's the same as the OTB market in the US. Penny stocks, little liquidity, big swings.

The "real" baht market is onshore, in Thailand, where most of the baht actually is. Here the rate, today, is 34.87. (Check the Bangkok bank website.)

So, basically, the forex rates on your website are worthless and actually less than that, as showing the had [sic] offshore rate actually scares more tourists away.

Trhe [sic] onshore rate is the one that matters. Tourists who bring travelers checks and cash them here get THAT rate. (If you pull from an ATM, though, you get the offshore rate.)

Likewise, exporters are getting the onshore rate as payments are done via bank transfers, LOCs and the like. These are all translated in Thailand and get the better rate.

It's not the end of the world. The sky is not falling. It's just uninformed crap like this that makes people think so.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Daily report: Work Free Fun Day

I didn't get any work accomplished today, but I did finally put to rest all of the Firefox problems related to my blog. (I think that might be the last of the blog template adjustments for a while... hopefully... as they are time/work consuming.)

This afternoon, it was out to Bob's BBQ for Gina's second birthday. Pui bought Gina a new dress, while I bought Gina a choo-choo train with letter block cars. (Which present do you think went over better with toddler Gina? Good guess, but you would be wrong.)

In the evening, it was out by myself to TQ2. I met up with Bob, Stan, and the rest of the crowd. From there, it was briefly off to Champion A-Gogo (the best gogo in Pattaya for those interested in bottomless A-Gogo) with Stan, Jew, and Mad Mick for a couple of drinks.

Then, it was a quick stop at the chicken swarma stand before heading home.

Fundamentalist Christianity Versus The Taliban

Of course there are differences, but mostly in degree.

TheRebelution.comHard-core fundamentalist Christians hate it when open-minded, free-thinkers compare them to the Taliban... and there are some ways in which that comparison is, of course, unfair: There are no death penalties and beatings for blasphemy, they don't keep women out of school / cars / work / social situations in general, and... well... uh... I'm sure there are at least one or two other differences that would differentiate what a fundamentalist Christian views as a "perfect Christian society", and the social order that the Taliban actually accomplished in Afghanistan... but I can't think of any more right now.

Oh! Of course: One is Muslim and the other is Christian.

But every other difference that can be pointed out is only a matter of degree really. The Taliban doesn't allow any movies, any music, any dancing, et cetera. Christian fundamentalists wouldn't allow most rated-R movies (and any other movie with a "subversive message"), most popular music, most dancing, and most other et ceteras out there, leaving only Biblically-approved, not-offensive-to-God pursuits and entertainment.

In other areas, fundamentalist Christians wouldn't carry things as far as the Taliban would, but they certainly would apply a "modified, modern, liberal Taliban model" to some aspects of life. In a perfect Christian society, they wouldn't ban any or all non-Christian religions, but they would limit their recognition in the public square, while lifting up Christianity wherever possible. They would teach Christian history and philosophy in schools, even to non-Christian children. They might even discriminate against members of other religions... but they wouldn't actually ban their practice. (However, like the Taliban, they might ban their proselytizing.)

Then finally, we come to "modesty for women." In a Christian fundamentalist world, they wouldn't put women in burkas, but they certainly would insist on a modesty and style of dress that has not been seen in this country for over 75 years, give or take, depending on the specific subject matter being discussed. They would insist on cultural and behavioral and social roles for women that predate the Women's Lib movement. They might not punish offenders with beatings, as the Taliban did, but in a fundamentalist-Christian-dominant society, social ostracism would certainly be the least that would happen.

Now, for those of you who would say that "Christian fundamentalists aren't like the Taliban because they are not terrorists", the only reply is, Of course they aren't. Not now, at least.

Christianity is not under siege by an invading army (at least in any meaningful or major way) anywhere in the world, and Christianity has no Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, et cetera, to anger it to action.

Do you really think that if Christianity and Western Civilization were facing a life-or-death crisis of faith and social structure from an outside malevolent force, that those same Christians (or even you and I perhaps) wouldn't rush to it's defense? You can bet they would. In order to safeguard the future of Christianity, Christian culture, American culture, and America itself they would give their lives in any way they could... up to and including terrorist acts against an enemy. Ask anybody from Northern Ireland and they'll probably tell you what zealous Christians are capable of, if belief and faith is strong enough.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Daily Report: Firefox Technobabble

I got a little work done today, but being the weekend, my regular accounts ran out of work early on and I called it quits after about 2 hours.

I downloaded Firefox today and checked out what my blog looked like using that particular browser. I was able to correct a few bugs — mostly caused by not giving <FONT> tags corresponding </FONT> tags before putting in new <FONT> tags... an HTML no-no. Some other things — such as the standard spacing issues — are only things I would notice, and I'm going to leave them alone.

The one thing that has me stumped is the fact that in Firefox, none of the "style.display.block" attributes work. Therefore all of the little green links that pop up definitions when you roll your mouse over them work, and neither of the popup menus (the map and list of gogo bars) at the top of the blog work either.

The annoying part is that these items work fine in Firefox when you are looking at the preview version of the blog in Blogger, but in the live version it doesn't work. Very frustrating.

Anyway, I spent the evening watching a couple of John Travolta movies... "Wild Hogs", which is the motorcycle, non-drag version of "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Judy Numar", and "Lonely Hearts", which was a movie about the Lonely Hearts Killers. I went on the internet afterward and read about them here, and the movie certainly embellishes and sensationalizes quite a bit, and changes the interpersonal workings of the killers all around. I have to admit it did make for a more interesting movie though. I guess that they couldn't get Salma Hayek to balloon up to 250 pounds to properly get into character.
UPDATE:

I finally located and fixed the source of the problem that people using Firefox were experiencing with my site: Firefox "didn't like" (for lack of a better way of putting it) the DOCTYPE that my blog was using. (You have no idea how much work I had to go through to find that problem.) Unfortunately, changing the DOCTYPE to anything other than the one supplied with my original template caused Internet Explorer to go wrong.

So what did I have to do? I had to try the incredibly risky and brave procedure of putting a "Conditional DOCTYPE" on my site, hiding one DOCTYPE from Firefox, and hiding one DOCTYPE from Explorer.

Four hours of work just so that one of my readers could check out my list of gogo bar websites... and I was happy to do it. Am I a blogger who is dedicated to his readers or what?

Jeff Corwin Attacked By Elephant In Cambodia

Jeff Corwin Attacked By Elephant
Jeff Corwin got tossed by an elephant
in Cambodia, and injured his elbow.
Jeff Corwin and Anderson Cooper were doing a wildlife series in Cambodia when an elephant grabbed Jeff's elbow and gave him quite a serious yank, causing some injury but, as Jeff notes here, not too terrible.

Domesticated elephants are amazingly gentle creatures, and in comparison with their size and strength and regular interaction with humans, accidents involving them are incredibly rare. To me, based on the video from CNN.com (seen below and at the link above) it looks like the elephant was either thinking that Jeff's elbow was something to eat and was trying to get it in his mouth, or more likely the elephant was just being playful or bitchy for some reason.

The plight of elephants and their mahouts in southeast Asia is dire indeed. Elephants used to be present at every logging area and construction site in Thailand. Unfortunately logging is no longer done in Thailand due to deforestation, and construction sites have found that the gasoline for a bulldozer is cheaper than the food for an elephant. Elephants are quite simply unemployed.

(It was popular for a while with tourists to have the Elephants walking through places in Pattaya like Walking Street and Soi 7, where for 20 baht (50 cents), you could buy a bag of vegetables to feed an elephant, but the city government stopped the practice for safety fears.)

Anyway, hopefully someday soon southeast Asia can find something to do with its unemployed domesticated elephants... and continue to keep the natural habitat of the wild elephants intact as well.

Here's the video from Headline News via YouTube:

Dead and Buried But Not Forever

The Fifth Chinese Cemetary Exhumation Ceremony is coming up soon. They call it "the greatest merit making ceremony". Well, they have to put a positive spin on this somehow... because it certainly would be hard to convince me to go out to a cemetery and dig up dead people just for the hell of it.

Anyway, for those of you who feel you need to get in one more "goodbye" for dear ol' Grandad, this month could be your chance. Once he's out of the ground, it's straight off to the furnace with him. If you feel like joining in on some grade-A merit-making/tomb-raiding, I'm sure there are extra shovels to be had.

Thais and Electricity Are An Awful Combination

There are many sad truths about Thai people, but one of the greatest truths of all is that they are exceptionally stupid when it comes to dealing with electricity. In fact, it almost seems to be a proven fact that a Thai person's Intelligence Quotient goes down in direct proportion to how close they get to high voltage.

(Plug in a kitchen utensil with metal parts into an outlet in your house or apartment in Thailand, and you will find — as often as not — that the Thai electricians who wired your residence did not bother to complete the circuit. Your stuff therefore isn't grounded. Your coffee machine's metal parts are now carrying a live charge. ZAP.)

Look at this picture above. What you see there is a metal bar sticking out of the ground and holding up live electrical wires. What you see floating in the water is a dead guy. Get the idea?

Look at this picture here. This is the Pattaya utilities company hard at work. Do you really think they know what all of those lines are? Do you really think that none of those lines on the ground is carrying a charge?

Personally, I'm impressed that the electricity somehow manages to stay on most of the time. Well... I guess when you have that many wires, it's hard to take all of them out at once.

Criminalizing Drugs Using Common Sense

Scientific study instead of politics brings not so surprising results

A report out in The Lancet (subscription required, here is another "free" article) takes an interesting (i.e. logical) approach to figuring out how harmful mood/mind-altering substances are: Take each drug, and rank it based on...
  1. its "propensity to cause physical harm", including acute/ immediate effects, chronic/long-term effects, and specific effects regarding IV drug use;
  2. its "propensity to cause dependent behavior", including physical dependence, psychological dependence, and withdrawal reactions; and
  3. the "propensity to cause social harm", including violence, accidents/damage, effects on immediate family, and health-care costs.
So what are the results?

Well, if you ask doctors, scientists, and law enforcement officials (instead of politicians), here is how they rank the 20 most common illegal (and legal) drugs in terms of what I shall call the "how bad they are" measure.
1. Heroin
2. Cocaine/crack
3. Barbiturates (sedatives)
4. Methadone (pain killer)
5. Alcohol
6. Ketamine (psychedelic)
7. Sleeping pills
8. Amphetamines
9. Tobacco
10. Buprenorphine (pain killer)
11. Marijuana
12. Inhaling solvents
13. 4 MTA (stimulant)
14. LSD/acid
15. Ritalin (ADHD drugs)
16. Anabolic steroids
17. GHB (the "date rape drug")
18. Ecstasy
19. Poppers / Rush (inhalers)
20. Khat (chewable stimulants)
One thing that I find interesting is that narcotic pain medications are not on the list anywhere, although in America they are highly abused. (OxyContin is a particular target of abuse — just ask any unfortunate chronic back-pain sufferer, like Rush Limbaugh.) This is a British study, and hence the inclusion of "Khat", an East African leaf chewed for its caffeine-like properties, not commonly found in America.

Anyway, the most obviously surprising findings are the ones highlighted in blue... things that most people with common sense (and a little bit of knowledge of drugs) have known for ages: In terms of addiction, health costs, and damage to the world immediately surrounding the addict, alcohol is by far one of the most damaging drugs available today. Tobacco is more damaging to life and health than marijuana. LSD is only mildly addictive or damaging, and Ecstasy is barely so, if at all.

So therefore, I would like to put forth the suggestion to all of you bar owners in Pattaya that from now on you replace all of your alcohol with LSD and ecstasy, and all of you tobacco smokers have to switch over to marijuana. It is scientifically-proven that the world will be a better place if you do.
UPDATE:

Just to add another bit of "you already knew this, but maybe not" knowledge: It is literally impossible to overdose on marijuana. It is essentially impossible to overdose on LSD (unless you take 1,000 doses). How much alcohol do you have to drink before you wind up in the hospital? See Andrew Sullivan for details.
Alcohol thus ranks at the dangerous end of the toxicity spectrum. So despite the fact that about 75 percent of all adults in the United States enjoy an occasional drink, it must be remembered that alcohol is quite toxic. Indeed, if alcohol were a newly formulated beverage, its high toxicity and addiction potential would surely prevent it from being marketed as a food or drug. This conclusion runs counter to the common view that one's own use of alcohol is harmless.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Daily Report - Dinner And A Movie

Bad work day today.

Pui and I met up with Stan and Mem for dinner, as we do every Friday, but this week we didn't go out — just stayed at Stan's house.

We had ham and chicken pies and onion rolls for dinner, and watched "The Third Man" (with Orson Welles) on video.

May Have A Point, The Wrong Guy To Make It

Former Vice President Al GoreSenator Kit Bond (R-Missouri)If you stay in the Senate long enough and cast enough votes, it is inevitable that eventually you will vote on something one way, and then come out at a future date contradicting the position you made when casting that vote.

The other day, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri was debating Al Gore at a Senate hearing on the science of global warming when he pulled out the old "What about the children?" trick:
Sen. Bond unveiled a giant poster of a little girl whose family is so poor they can't afford to heat their home in the winter, then asked how Gore could conscionably ask that folks like this pay more for energy (since clean coal and renewables are both more expensive than plain old dirty coal).
Unfortnately, just 18 months ago, Senator Bond voted against the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which would have provided financial assistance to "a little girl whose family is so poor they can't afford to heat their home in the winter".

Now I know that this is the old trick of attacking the messenger and ignoring the message, but that's politics. I personally don't have an answer for Senator Bond. Pretty much everything new and improved is more expensive than the old... even for poor people. That's life. Just because something better is more expensive doesn't mean we take a pass on advancing our ways of doing things. If that was the case, we would still be watching 8 channels of programming on 20-inch black and white TVs. (And don't tell me poor people haven't managed to shoulder that new cost.)

I might make a suggestion for the Senator though: Next time, he might consider voting to take 0.0001% of the $1 trillion that the U.S. Government spends every year, and using it to help poor families heat their homes, instead of pointing an accusatory finger at a guy who is just trying to keep God's Green Earth clean and healthy. I'm generally not keen on taxing and spending, and believe that all mankind should handle the work and expense of keeping the environment clean instead of relying on the government to do it, but it seems to me that some expenses are more worthwhile than others.

By the way Mr. Gore: The next time a Senator pulls the cheap brainless stunt of putting up the picture of a sad-faced child and saying, "Do you want this poor child from Pittsburgh to freeze?" put up your own picture of a sad-faced child and say, "Do you want this poor child from Fiji to drown?"

(Hat tip to Americablog.)

Friday Cat Blogging

Caught In The Rain

Lickety Split As The Lightning Crashes.

There is a big storm moving through Pattaya right now... a deluge and lightning barrage on a grand scale.

Of course all the other people had to shut down their computers for the duration. Me? I have a UPS with surge protection, and am chugging right through. You wouldn't believe how fast my internet is all of a sudden.

The Most Barbaric Thing Imaginable

What is a 6-year old going to do with 72 virgins?
BAGHDAD: The police said Wednesday that children had been used in a weekend car bombing in which the driver gained permission to park in a busy shopping area after he pointed out that he was leaving his children in the back seat.

The account appeared to confirm one given Tuesday by a U.S. general. He said children had been used in a bombing Sunday in northern Baghdad and labeled it a brutal new tactic by insurgents to battle a five-week security crackdown in the capital.
To my Iraqi readers (if there should be any):

This is not America's problem. This is your problem. Whether you personally condemn strapping children to bombs and exploding them in a market or not, apparently some of your fellow Shias think it is a good idea. If you are a Sunni, you know perfectly well that another Sunni somewhere in Baghdad is dreaming about sacrificing his own children in an explosion of revenge.

America didn't bring you to this level, nor did Israel, Thailand, The Philippines, India, The Netherlands, the suburbs of Paris, a magazine in Denmark, or the South of Nigeria, or Croatia, or Ethiopia, or Darfur. Not even other Muslims who don't believe the same way you do could bring you to this level. None of these places, and none of the people who inhabit them are so evil that they could beget the evil being practiced within your ranks of followers.

This evil stems from your people's own indiginous animosity and your people's own set of religious values and cultural beliefs. I'm sure you disagree with me as much as you disagree with the bombers themselves, but you cannot deny that the actions of these barbarians stem from feelings of hatred instilled in them... more by the encouragement and sentiment of their own people than by the actions and injustices committed by others.

The world is full of inequities. How a population handles those inequities is not a measure of the inequities themselves but is instead a window onto the mindset of the population dealing with them. Sacrificing children as a means to lash out against those inequities is the sign of a population whose problems lie primarily internally... not externally. This bombing is the sign of a cultural cancer that only Muslims — not American soldiers — can cure.

America will be leaving Iraq soon, and frankly the American people have pretty much decided to let you commit genocide there against other Muslims. We understand: It is our fault. We took away Saddam Hussein, the death squads, the brutal repression, and chemical Ali, which were the only things keeping you from each others' throats, and for that we are sorry. Some of us thought you were capable of handling freedom. (Some of us, including myself, knew from the very beginning that you weren't capable of handling freedom, and while you'll have to excuse my pessimism, as you can see it wasn't misplaced.) Personally, I'm sure that another brutal dictator will come along eventually and scare you all into submission. Either that, or all of the Sunnis... or all of the Shia... in Iraq will be refugees or dead.

As you can guess... America and I are pretty much to the point of not caring anymore. We've seen what things you value and what things you will throw away in an attempt to harm others, and we've decided that those are not values worth defending with our soldiers' lives.

Good luck to you, and may God bless you and protect your children.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quotacious

"President Bush held a news conference where he accused the Democrats of playing politics with the firing of U.S. attorneys. You know, the attorneys he fired for not playing politics."

Jay Leno

Daily Report: Mom's Birthday

I was up a little bit earlier today, but still got started with work late.

Spent the evening messing around with social bookmarking links, and then called my mother in Florida for her birthday. It was nice to talk with my brother-in-law too.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Some Days I Would Vote To Disband The UN Too

The other day, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women closed its fifty-first session with a vote.

Did it vote to condemn the brutal rape and murder of women in Darfur? Nope. Did it vote to encourage the Saudis to end misogynist laws against women? Nope. Did it vote to ostracize Iran for condemning adulterous women to death? Nope. Did it vote to condemn China for forcing women to have abortions? Nope.

Nope. None of those things.

It simply voted to declare Israel as being the only country on the planet that is in "violation of Women's rights." The vote passed 40-2, with only United States and Canada voting against the measure.

Sometimes The Signs Are All There...

... and you either don't see them or you choose to ignore them.

Nixon ResignsThere are times in your life when — regardless of whether you are deeply religious, or an out-and-out athiest — you receive a signal from above that maaaaybe you need to take a step back and think about things for a minute; the kind of signal that should send a shiver down the spine of any normal person; the kind of signal that says that God is really trying to tell you something.

In 1973, during the Watergate hearings, the White House was forced to hand over audio recordings that were made between President Nixon and visitors in the Oval Office. When the tapes were examined, it was discovered that (damn! rats! of all the luck!) what might have been one of the most important conversations in hudreds of hours of recordings — a conversation between Nixon and his Chief of Staff — was accidentally erased.

Total time missing: 18 minutes.

In 2007, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the Department of Justice was forced to hand over all e-mails that were made regarding U.S. Attorneys. When the e-mails were examined, it was discovered that (damn! rats! of all the luck!) what might have been one of the most important periods of the entire e-mail collection — the period of time right before the U.S. Attorneys were fired — was accidentally missing.

Total time missing: 18 days.

(I'm guessing that the DOJ just needs some time to — how shall I put this? — "correct a few spelling errors" in that particular group of e-mails before passing them along to the Senate Judiciary Committee.)

Yeah. Uh-huh. This is going to end well for the White House.

Just A Video About Thai Drivers In Pattaya

For those of us who spend a lot of time here, we look at this video and chuckle, and say, "Yup... that's the way they always drive. It's that way everywhere you go... if not worse." For those of you who have never been to Thailand before, you'll not believe your eyes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Quotacious

"According to a transcript of a U.S. military tribunal released Wednesday, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed admitted to planning the 9/11 attack, saying, 'I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z.' He then politely asked the interviewer to kindly remove the curling iron from his butt."


Daily Report: Unhatched Chickens and Loud Voices

I'm depressed. Stupid and depressed. Mostly depressed.

The latest date both the IRS and New York State promised me that my tax refunds would arrive was yesterday... Tuesday. Therefore, my life today was supposed to be filled with all kinds of exciting little purchases and joys and reliefs and maybe just a few carefree hours where I could say, "Screw work." Of course, my money hasn't arrived.

To make matters worse, having gotten paid on Friday, and expecting money on either Monday or Tuesday, I went out and was a little too improvident with my cash this past weekend. Therefore I've gone from the expectation of rolling in dough today to the reality of (short-term) poverty.

I'm taking it surprisingly hard actually: I realized recently that I haven't even left my room for 3 days, except to give Pot his medicine (see below), and have slept 12 hours yesterday and today. (I've still managed to keep up a moderate work level though... so thats something.)

I'm not sad or anxious or angry... just deflated. Well... the money will arrive eventually.

Anyway, moving on...

Pot had a toothache tonight while his mom was out. He was crying, so Go and I tried to give him some crushed aspirin in sweetened milk. He wouldn't take it... although he has taken it so many times before that he knows it works like magic. Instead, he wanted to sit on his bedroom floor and cry.

So, Go and I decided to just ignore him. After about 20 minutes of trying and failing to get him to drink the spoonful of milk, we left him alone with the medicine and told him that we had done everything we could to help him, and he was now on his own.

Of course, being ignored just made Pot furious, and he started screaming and ranting and raising one hell of a ruckus. I let that go on for about 10 minutes.

Then I came out of my room and with my biggest, loudest shout... and in English (because Pot can't understand it, so it's just a sonic boom) yelled "Eat your medicine Pot before I shove it down your throat!!!" Well, the force of my voice sent Pot back about 2 steps, and then I went and picked up the spoonful of medicine, asked Pot politely in Thai to eat his medicine, and Pot swallowed it without a word. Then I picked up Pot and sat with him on the bed, and gave him a tissue and within 2 minutes, he had stopped crying.

It's easy to forget that Pot never hears anything but nasally little Thai voices all the time. His mother can get really loud when she's angry, but in the speaker world, she's the tweeter... I'm the subwoofer. If you're a tiny 5 year old kid, and you have a 220-pound angry subwoofer coming at you putting out 90 decibels, you tend to forget about everything else in the world real quick.

Anyway, I'm not spanking Pot anymore. The couple of times I have spanked him, I didn't like how I felt after doing it: It's similar to how I used to feel after I got in fights at school when I was a kid — adrenalized, jumpy, and nervous. I still will give Pot a swat in the head when he does something stupid... but it's more an action than an impact. Now, I guess I'll stick with yelling.

Besides: I'm going to sign Pot up for Tae Kwon Do classes at the start of the next school year, and he'll be able to kick my ass in short order... but not able... never able... to out-yell me.

Temporary Post

If you see anything wrong with the appearance / layout / design / template / accessibility of my blog, could you please put in a comment? Thank you.

President Bush Now Knows How Clinton Felt

President BushGlenn Greenwald has a great summary.

Apparently members of President Bush's White House staff are going to be subpoenaed to testify before Congress to answer questions regarding the firing of U.S. Attorneys... very similar to when President Clinton's White House staff were subpoenaed to testify before Congress during the Lewinsky affair.

President Bush has vowed that he can resist the subpoenas of his staff because of the power of "executive privilege"... much like President Clinton vowed he would do when he was going through his Lewinsky affair. (President Clinton didn't succeed using executive privilege then, and President Bush likely won't succeed using it this time either. Nixon tried the same ploy in Watergate and failed too.)

What was the Republican reaction when President Clinton threatened to use executive privilege to prevent his White House staff from testifying? Quotes like "No one is above the law," and "hiding behind executive privilege," and "being held accountable," went flying around.

How does that compare to Republican reaction when President Bush threatens to use executive privilege? Mmm.... Not quite so harsh this time.

Tony Snow
Tony Snow is caught between
the rock of his opinion and the
hard place of President Bush's
plans to use "executive priv-
ilege" to block subpoenas.
(An amusing fact that Glenn Greenwald points out is that the biggest critic of President Clinton's use of "executive privilege" to shield White House staff from Congressional subpoena in 1998 was Tony Snow, then a conservative columnist and Fox News commentator, and who is now President Bush's press secretary. Tony Snow is going to have to come out at a White House press conference soon and put a positive spin on the exact same thing he criticized President Clinton for doing a decade earlier. Good luck getting the press to buy that one.)

It's funny: I always thought about how it was a very bad idea for Republicans to support some of the things that President Bush did, because at some point in the future, a Democratic President may decide to go ahead and do the same things that President Bush did, and then the Republicans wouldn't really have the ability to condemn that future Democratic President when they supported President Bush before for doing the same thing.

It's funny: I always thought about how it was a very bad idea for Republicans to condemn some of the things that President Clinton did, because at some point in the future, a Republican President may decide to go ahead and do the same things that President Clinton did, and then the Republicans wouldn't really have the ability to support that future Republican president when they condemned President Clinton before for doing the same thing.

Shows you how little I know about Republicans. An elephant never forgets? Sheah right.
UPDATE:

A good point from one of my favorite writers, the king of snark, James Wolcott:
When Dick Cheney famously told Pat Leahy to go fuck himself, he and the rest of the administration clearly never anticipated the day when Leahy would return to the powerful chairmanship; I think they internalized Karl Rove's visionary scheme of a permanent Republican majority and thought the future was in the bag. Now they're holding the bag and it's leaking all over their laps.

Man Electrocuted While Climbing Tree In Pattaya

I wasn't going to write about this story regarding a man who was electrocuted while trying to pick mangos out of a tree close to electrical wires with an aluminum pole after a heavy rain, but there was a bit of gallows humor at the end of the article that really gave me a case of schadenfreude.
He fell from the tree in front of his shocked wife.
Heh. You think she was shocked?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Final Update On Pattaya Russian Murder Case

In and interview with police, Pattaya Daily News gets a final rundown on the killing of tourists Tatiana Tsimfer and Liubov Svirkova.

The official stance of the police is that the Anuchit Lumlert pumped a ton of bullets into the two ladies on the beach because they saw his face, and started screaming when he was trying to rob them.

Then, he apparently ran off leaving mobile telephones and wallets on the table on the beach in front of the bodies.

Anuchit was apparently out of jail more or less only temporarily, and was shortly to be on his way back to do at least a 4-year sentence for a previous robbery when he killed the ladies.

The police seem pretty comfortable with their conclusions about the motive for this murder, and although they are continuing their investigation, they consider all the major details to have been worked out and settled.

We'll see.

Quotacious

"You know what's interesting about this election? Several of the candidates are men who have been divorced more than once. See, we have to expect this from politicians now. It's not like the old days ... when a politician would stay married to the same woman his entire life, you know, like Bill and Hillary."


Daily Report #1787

I overslept quite a bit today. I got to bed so late on Sunday night (and up so early on Monday morning) that when I went to sleep on Monday night, my body decided to call in my tab. Thus, I was sound asleep for about 12 solid hours.

Work today was the same as yesterday: Got in a whole first half day of work, and nothing to follow.

I put together a pull-down menu of gogo bar websites up at the top of the blog. I'm going to try to add a bunch more pull-down link farms in the future, I think. If you have any specific ideas for a group of links that you think would be helpful, suggestions are welcome. Now that I've done the first one, the rest are easy to add.

Pattaya In The News Again. As Always, Not Good

Four guys who look like they could come off of a sales brochure for a Miami Beach retirement community were arrested in Pattaya today For Unlawful Carnal Knowledging young girls. Long prison sentences seem probable though pointless, given these geezers' proximity to oblivion.

An interesting note: I have my news trawler set to "Pattaya", and if any news source in the world writes about Pattaya, I'll know about it.

So, who covered this story?

The Washington Post. BBC News. Reuters. The San Diego Tribune. The Scotsman. The only news sources from non-English speaking countries [insert Scottish joke here] which covered this story was "SwissInfo" from Switzerland and a Romanian site that had the story as well, but they were just running the Reuters automated news feed, and — once again — the story was only in English.

Another thing of note was that almost every article had to add in some sort of throwaway sentence describing Pattaya's "notorious" reputation. (I would link to the Bangkok Post article, which was particularly damning of Pattaya, but their website sucks, and no link shall remain unbroken there.)

No wonder there are no more English-speaking tourists in Pattaya... but still hundreds of thousands of tourists from everywhere else. (Well, of course that's not quite true: We still have lots of English-speaking tourists, but for these particular folks, it is specifically because of the raffish and ribald news stories about Pattaya that they come to visit.)