For the past week or so, the discovery of sensational murder and the political speculation surrounding it has gripped the media here in Thailand.
A billionaire (Thai baht) Thai business man was reported to have disappeared. The man had been convicted of and served time for fraud and for promoting ponzi-like schemes. He also was a vocal critic of another
convicted felon, the ex-Prime Minister of Thailand who I have referred to in the past as Thaksin the Terrible. Thaksin the Terrible moreover is a fugitive, living in exile and also the brother of the current Prime Minister, Princess LuckyGirl.
Within a day of the billionaire scumbag’s reported disappearance, his driver was arrested. The driver immediately confessed that he murdered the tycoon in order to steal $150,000 that the victim had just withdrawn from his account. In Thai fashion, a massive media event was held starring the confessed killer surrounded by what looked like a thousand cops. The suspect led the hoards of police and trailing reporters and cameramen to the spot where the body was buried. There along with several other men he implicated, he re-enacted the gruesome crime for all the world to see.
As could be expected, the political party out of power led by the military coup installed previous prime minister Abhisit the Unready (and some think the Incapable), members of his party, and the attorney for the deceased scumbag all have suggested that somehow, Thaksin the Terrible, was behind the murder.
Now normally allegations of conspiracy like this I find as believable as Rambo movies. However, there may be more here than meets the eye or perhaps even less. The confessed murderer, obviously someone so dumb as to believe that as the last person to have seen the deceased before he went missing the police somehow would not immediately suspect him, nevertheless had the presence of mind to remove and destroy all the disks in the security cameras. In addition, he carefully arranged for co-conspirators to wait in the car to help him carry the body out of the house and bury it many miles away. Also, how the driver, a slender young man was able to single-handedly subdue and strangle a seemingly fit sixty year old has not been clearly explained. The re-enactment in front of the press was notably unconvincing. Finally, the deceased withdrew the $150,000 from his account only a few hours before he disappeared. No one seems to know why.
- Homestay Cabins in Thailand (visit-chiang-mai-online.com)
- Soldiers, journalists hurt in bombings in Thailand (bigstory.ap.org)
- Debunking Thai Food Myths With Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker (seriouseats.com)
- Pressure Builds in Thailand over Proposed Amnesty Bill (voanews.com)
It never ceases to amaze me that I still am inundated by communications from those who, I suspect, decided to disbelieve the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change and search for something, anything, that agrees with their bias usually written by someone with the title of Dr. or Professor before his or her name. I surmise that before distributing the propaganda they never bothered to check to find out if the person is actually an expert in the field or if anyone who is, agrees with him.
One of the most recent missives refers to someone, whose name preceded by Dr. [area of expertise undetermined], who promotes the long discredited claim that vulcanism is responsible for all or most of the elevated carbon found in the earth’s atmosphere today.
The slightest bit of research would reveal that the carbon emitted by every eruption since records have been kept are included in most of the models developed by the scientists upon which the evidence for global warming are based. Did those people who blindly passed on the report without thinking about it actually believe that all the scientists who produced the 50,000 or so peer-reviewed articles confirming climate change just happened to overlook a major carbon source such as volcanos in their calculations?
Now in fairness to all the parties involved in the climate change controversy, I must admit that I have my own conspiracy theory on the matter to promote.
Since the beginning of the 19th Century when accurate meteorological records began to be kept, world population has grown to be more than six times larger than it was then. Today there are six billion more people alive than there were then. Yet the PPM concentration of carbon in the atmosphere [the claimed major factor in global warming.] has increased only by about 50%. Does this mean that had we maintained the population levels of 200 years ago, despite industrialization, the amount of green house gasses in the atmosphere would have remain static and perhaps even decreased? And, if so isn’t birth control the solution now?
If my speculation is accurate, then the mystery is why isn’t the birth control solution at the top of everyone’s agenda? I expect for the environmental community it is because to do so it would threaten to diminish their obsessive focus on industrial regulation. For conservatives it would mean accepting and promoting what to them is morally hateful; birth control, abortion and woman’s liberation. For the business community it means refocusing from supplying existing products to an expanding customer base, to the much more difficult task of creating new wants among existing buyers.
Perhaps it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a quote by the economist Brad DeLong that I included in T&T a few weeks ago:
“Only with the coming of female literacy and artificial means of birth control can a society maintain both a slowly-growing or stable population and a substantial edge in median standard of living over subsistence.” *
And, it is equally appropriate for me to urge once more something I have advocated time and time again here in many T&T posts and in a number of blogs that the sooner the instruments of power in society world-wide are turned over to women, the more likely it is that we can avoid the Armageddon that may be rushing towards us.
* Note: Recent archeological evidence seems to indicate that it is overpopulation within certain pockets of hunter gatherers that led to the discovery of farming and that the resulting agricultural communities suffered a substantial decline in their caloric intake and general health as compared to the hunter gatherers that remained in the area.
According to Jared Diamond:
“There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early farmers obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops… Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed. Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease…
Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing élite set itself above the disease-ridden masses…
Farming could support many more people than hunting, albeit with a poorer quality of life. (Population densities of hunter-gatherers are rarely over on person per ten square miles, while farmers average 100 times that.) Partly, this is because a field planted entirely in edible crops lets one feed far more mouths than a forest with scattered edible plants. Partly, too, it’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it’s old enough to keep up with the adults. Because farm women don’t have that burden, they can and often do bear a child every two years…”
- Hunters and farmers lived side-by-side for 2,000 years (terradaily.com)
- IAS 107: Reading: Jared Diamond’s Provocation: The Invention of Agriculture as a Big Mistake (delong.typepad.com)
- Hunter-gatherers and immigrant farmers lived together for 2,000 years in Central Europe (sott.net)
- The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race By Jared Diamond (attentiontoliving.wordpress.com)
- Stagnation and Poverty Outside the North Atlantic, 10000 BC-1870: A Deleted Scene from My “Slouching Towards Utopia?: The Economic History of the Twentieth Century” Ms. (delong.typepad.com)
- The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race (newsonpaper.com)
- Stone-Age Europeans stuck to hunter-gatherer diet long after neighbours took up farming: study (thestar.com)
1847: The US Marine Corps Hymn begins with the words, “From the Halls of Montezuma..,” Those words commemorate the Corps’ participation in a battle in one of our country’s earliest imperialistic wars. The Corps suffered 90% casualties in the struggle for Mexico’s capitol city.
In that battle the US troops overran a badly undermanned Mexican garrison in the so-called “castle” on Chapultepec Hill that guarded the entrance into Mexico City. A large portion of the defenders were made up of the students at the military academy (equivalent to an US high school) located at the site, some of whom were only 13 years old. The defenders, about 400 in all including about 100 teenage students from the academy, faced over 4000 battle hardened American soldiers. As the Mexican troops retreated when the assault rolled over them, six of these young men from the academy bravely but foolishly stayed behind to defend the Mexican flag. They were slaughtered by the American troops. Obviously, playing capture the flag was more important than the lives of a few teenage greasers.
Among the participants in this same battle was John Riley the leader of the Batallón San Patricio, a group of Irish immigrants forced into service by the U.S. Government during the Mexican-American War. Being Catholics, they were treated terribly by their Protestant superiors. They got fed up and decided to desert and join their fellow Catholics on the Mexican side. By all accounts, they fought valiantly throughout the war, but during the battle for Mexico City the Batallón San Patricio’s positions were overrun. As Chapultepec Castle fell, every last one of John Riley’s men was hung in front of him. The US commander waited to execute the Irishmen until the moment that the Mexican flag that the kids were shot for defending was lowered so that they could watch as they died. It has been reported that the U.S. generals didn’t kill John Riley along with his troops. They supposedly branded both of his cheeks with D’s for desertion, lashed him for a full day in front of his dangling men, and then handed him back to Mexico.*
Remember, only 14 years later many of the same American officers involved at Chapultepec, who so mercilessly executed the Irish Catholic deserters and the Mexican adolescents, themselves rebelled against the United States. And, following a war that saw the greatest percentage of the American population killed in any war in the nation’s history, not one of these men were executed for treason or spent significant time in prison. Many are now listed as among our nations greatest heroes.
Ulysses S. Grant, a legitimate hero at the Battle of Chapultepec,** as well as in the subsequent war to suppress a rebellion against the United States instigated by the slave-owning aristocracy and who later was elected President of the United States, stated in his memoirs that in his opinion the Mexican-American War was “one of the most unjust wars ever waged on a weaker nation by a stronger one.”
On March 5, 1947, a few months before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec, another U.S. President, Harry S. Truman, traveling in Mexico at the time, placed a wreath at the monument to the six students and stood for a few moments of silent reverence. Asked by American reporters why he had gone to the monument, Truman said, “Brave men don’t belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it.”
* Note: one of the major purposes of the war with Mexico was to acquire additional territory in which to expand slavery in order to balance the votes in the US Senate of the more abolitionist inclined tier of newly created northern states carved out of the Louisiana Purchase. Mexico, by the way, at that time prohibited slavery which was one of the main reasons that a few years before the white Protestant Texans who had recently immigrated there sought independence from Mexico.
Finally as long as I started on the slavery issue, the argument often posed by many southern apologists that if we had only waited a few years the “peculiar” institution of slavery would disappear simply as a result of economic pressure on that inefficient system (the invisible hand again), begs the question of why then was it the South that seceded and attacked first when the rest of the nation, except for the somewhat disturbed John Brown, had done little more than make speeches about the immorality of slavery, hide a few escaped slaves and and elect a guy who, although he did not like slavery, admitted that he was not going to be able to do much more about it other than support prohibition of its extension into new territories, such as those taken from Mexico a decade or so before?
** Grant climbed up the bell tower, single-handedly captured a howitzer located there and then used it to fire on the Mexican troops below. Yes, in America even Rambo can become an US President, although not a very good one.
- Mexican-American War (heathermunas.wordpress.com)
- A Reminder of a Conflict That Faded Into History (nytimes.com)
“The Auschwitz camp plays a special role in the resolution of the Jewish question. The most advance methods permit the execution of the Fuehrer-order in the shortest possible time and without arousing much attention.
The so-called “resettlement action” runs the following course:
The Jews arrive in special trains (freight cars) toward evening and are driven on special tracks to areas of the camp specifically set aside for this purpose.
There the Jews are unloaded and examined for their fitness to work by a team of doctors, in the presence of the camp commandant and several SS officers. At this point anyone who can somehow be incorporated into the work program is put in a special camp.
The curably ill are sent straight to a medical camp and are restored to health through a special diet. The basic principle behind everything is: conserve all manpower for work. The previous type of “resettlement action” has been thoroughly rejected, since it is too costly to destroy precious work energy on a continual basis.
The unfit go to cellars in a large house which are entered from outside. They go down five or six steps into a fairly long, well-constructed and well-ventilated cellar area, which is lined with benches to the left and right. It is brightly lit, and the benches are numbered.
The prisoners are told that they are to be cleansed and disinfected for their new assignments. They must therefore completely undress to be bathed. To avoid panic and to prevent disturbances of any kind, they are instructed to arrange their clothing neatly under their respective numbers, so that they will be able to find their things again after their bath.
Everything proceeds in a perfectly orderly fashion. Then they pass through a small corridor and enter a large cellar room which resembles a shower bath. In this room are three large pillars, into which certain materials can be lowered from outside the cellar room. When three- to four-hundred people have been herded into this room, the doors are shut, and containers filled with the substances are dropped down into the pillars.
As soon as the containers touch the base of the pillars, they release particular substances that put the people to sleep in one minute. A few minutes later, the door opens on the other side, where the elevator is located. The hair of the corpses is cut off, and their teeth are extracted (gold-filled teeth) by specialists (Jews). It has been discovered that Jews were hiding pieces of jewelry, gold, platinum etc., in hollow teeth.
Then the corpses are loaded into elevators and brought up to the first floor, where ten large crematoria are located. (Because fresh corpses burn particularly well, only 50-100 lbs. of coke are needed for the whole process.) The job itself is performed by Jewish prisoners, who never step outside this camp again.
The results of this “resettlement action” to date: 500,000 Jews. Current capacity of the “resettlement action” ovens: 10,000 in 24 hours.
It may be that there may have been crueler and greater genocides [e.g. the slaughter of the Native Americans], in none, however, do we have the extent of testimony by the victims themselves and obsessive record keeping by the murderers as we do in this one.
It is this testimony that should remind everyone of the horrors that can flow from hate and irrational fear. [It should be recalled that, until the attack on Pearl Harbor, a majority of Americans had no problem with the rhetoric and policies coming out of the Axis countries that ultimately led to the barbarity reported above.
It is no defense to denying someone a job, education or medical treatment because of their racial, gender, ethnic or sexual orientation that, unlike what occurred in the 1930s and 40s, it has not yet ended in horrible death. Nevertheless, almost daily I receive emails and other communications or hear political leaders who proudly revel in their belief of the justice and equity of their fear and of their hate. They alas only too often call that hate, American values.
- Anniversary 75 Years of Kristallnacht Tomorrow October 9 (4international.me)
- SS Reinhard Heydrich’s Secret Order for Kristallnacht (kristallnacht75.wordpress.com)
- Howard Jacobson: Jews Continue to Be Blamed for What Happened to Them (ruthfullyyours.com)
- Italy remembers 1943 roundup of Jews amid turmoil (bigstory.ap.org)
- Women in the Nazi killing fields (salon.com)
- Liveblogging World War II: September 28, 1943 (delong.typepad.com)
- Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is standard Arab textbook (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
April, May and June tend to be the hottest months of the year in Thailand. Since I have been here, the temperature has hovered well in the high 90s and low 100s .
For the first week or so I cultivated the hypochondria brought on by jet-lag and BKK air pollution. I attempted to while away my time by reading trashy vacation-time novels. You know, those novels you turn to when you are lying on the sand under an umbrella with nothing to do but stare at the water while bemoaning the fact that recreational drugs are not readily available to numb you even further into insensibility. I guess alcohol is an alternative but it always gives me agita.
In my case, I decided to read all 15 or so books of the Dresden Files at about one a day. I have just finished book ten. They are about Harry Dresden a wizard working as a private detective in Chicago battling the unending horrors escaping from the spirit world threatening to engulf the City in a reign of vampires and ghouls and unspeakable other creatures and bury it under 50 feet of ectoplasm.
Like I said trash, inventive trash but trash none the less. Now I know what some of you are asking yourselves, “I thought he said he was afraid of horror movies.” Well yes, movies; books not so much. I do not know why.
Anyway it has been somewhat interesting to observe that by reading the several books in this short period of time some of the overriding plot lines and emerging back stories have begun to manifest themselves. For example: Who really started the war between the Wizards of the White Council and the Vampires of the Red Court; Is Mab, Fairy Queen of the Winter Sidhe, really going insane; Who is behind the Cowl; Will Harry’s half brother Thomas, the incubus, truly find happiness as a hairdresser sucking bits of the life force from his adoring clients and; Will Harry ever get laid.* It seems the flash of even the slightest bit of skin from any female from 14 through 400,000 years old (many are almost immortal spirits after all) appears to turn Harry into a salivating imbecile. One would think that since wizards are masters of do-it-yourself Harry by this time would have learned how to relieve himself of his perpetual horniness. At least a half a dozen times per novel he finds himself with an erection moments before some horror from the netherworld beats the shit out of him. That is some bad Juju..
In his Notes, the author claims that he was fascinated with the Swords and Sorcery genre ever since as a child he first read the Hobbit and although throughout his writing career he tried to write similar fantasy novels he was not very good and it. He was very pleased, however, that readers seemed to like his wizard-detective stories.
Well, I am very happy for him. Throughout my life I wanted to grow up. I wasn’t very good at it and the best I could manage was to grow old. No one I know liked that at all, least of all me.
I went to the US embassy for some paperwork necessary for my visa extension. While I waited, the television in the waiting room was tuned into the Discovery Station as it always is when it is not tuned on to CNN. As usual the program was about things killing and devouring other things. I wondered why National Geographic marketing was aimed at the adolescent and seriously delayed post-adolescent male segment of the viewing public. Why not market say, for women? I would not presume to know what they would prefer, but I doubt it would be killing, blood and bones in high-definition color every time, all the time. When I looked around me, I saw the young men glassy-eyed and smiling staring up at the screen while the women for the most part looked down at the floor or at the notices and posters that covered the walls.
I thought the Discovery Channel was supposed to awaken the interest in young minds in science and discovery. What sort of scientists are they looking for that would be fascinated in learning more about how a killer whale rips the head off a seal or a lion disembowels a gazelle? Why not try love for a change?
(*Note: Some of these questions surprisingly have actually been answered in Book 11 which I have just finished reading. Harry gets laid although with unhappy results and his half-brother definitely has not found happiness. We still, however, do not know about Mab’s potential psychosis and who or what is behind the war or under the cowl. Alas, I may never find out the answers to these questions as Amazon has announced that my Kindle is now somehow outside its jurisdiction and refuses to provide me with a new password to correct it. I now have a flaccid Kindle.)
- Harry Dresden-Wizard: A review of Storm Front by Jim Butcher (shelftonightstand.wordpress.com)
- Emily S. Whitten, Jim Butcher and The Dresden Files (comicmix.com)
- Book Review: White Night by Jim Butcher (sffreader.wordpress.com)
- The Harry Potter Witch and Wizard Movie Series (movies.answers.com)
- Wizards, Ghouls, and Fairies! Oh My! – Costume SuperCenter (costumesupercenter.com)
- A review of Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4) (havebookswillreview.wordpress.com)
“If you ask for your DNA profile today from a company that specialized in “DNA ancestry” what you will get is essentially a picture of the “origin” of the different segments on your chromosome, so you’ll see that this segment over here (which is known to code for the following 10 genes) is African, while that segment next to it (which is known to code for the following 16 genes) is Native American. This is the obvious consequences of crossing-over, of course.
Making this fact so obvious, so front-and-center has very interesting consequences. Most importantly, it makes it clear that while one can speak of “African genes” or “Northern European genes”, one cannot extrapolate from that to an “African person”, at least not in the context of the Americas where four hundred years of random interbreeding has occurred.
All one can mean by “African person” is a less careful way of saying “person whose appearance genes are African”. It was expected that there would be substantial clustering and correlation between genes but, again in the Americas, this turns out largely not to be the case, so you may have African appearance genes, but that does not translate into an especially high probability that you have African blood genes or liver protein genes or (if you insist on that sort of thing) African sport and neuro-anatomy genes. And vice versa — you may look as Euro as they come, but chances are there was at least one African somewhere in the past ten generations or so, and that African left his/her genes in you — not as a diluted out “1024th of the blood” but as very definite stretches of DNA coding for very definite proteins.
You may insist on your whiteness all you like, but when genomic medicine becomes real, and the test reveals that you carry the African version of oncoprotein 134A, are you going to demand that you be given the “Euro” version of your cancer drug, the one that attacks oncoprotein 134B?”