This and That from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. ( 12 Joseph 0001) January 1 2012


     1. Education matters, so does music:

Music lessons are linked to higher IQ throughout life, according to research by E. Glenn Schellenberg, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Six years’ lessons lifted children’s IQ scores an average 7.5 points; those gains eroded to two points by college age, says a study published in 2006 in the Journal of Educational Psychology.

In a study this year, researchers at the University of Kansas found practicing musicians who are active for a decade or more continue to post higher IQs beyond age 60.

     2. US motor vehicle deaths:

(I do not know what this graph in intended to tell us except that, since “Unsafe at Any Speed” was published in about 1970 and the regulation of automotive safety began, the highway death toll has dropped dramatically.)

     3. Watt?!

You eat 2000 kcal/day. Thatʼs 97 Watts (W).

Your house used 306 kWh last month. Thatʼs 400 W.

The tag on the refrigerator says it will use 400 kWh per year. Thatʼs 45 W.

The hot water heater says it produces 30,000 Btu/hr. Thatʼs 8800 W.

Your natural gas bill is 30 Therms per month. Thatʼs 1200 W.

The U.S. generates about 4000 TWh per year. Thatʼs 450 GW.


     1. Menu item of the year (from Crutchley):

The menu of restaurant in Udon Thani features “flied ponk.”

(As Crutch points out, “a must for all ‘ponk’ lovers in the kingdom.”)

     2. Prime Minister Princess Lucky Girl at year’s end:

With her good looks and style, refusal to respond to direct questions and Board Chairman approach to management has made her the teflon Prime Minister, immune from all that could undermine her continuing popularity. Even a natural disaster and her administrations arguable inept and confused handling of it, has not appreciably dented her supporters enthusiasm. What else would one expect with someone named Yingluck.

     3. Lese majesté:

It is fascinating to me to observe the insistence of the Thai Military that they are the protectors of the Royal Honor, while steadfastly retaining their independence of Royal wishes or direction. For example, they firmly oppose changes to the Lese majesté law under which a foreign translator who had translated an unauthorized biography of the

Royal Family, and a 80-year-old man who had text 4 lines of questionable text to friends both received prison sentences of over 15 years each. They insist that it is their duty to protect the Monarchy, vaguely threatening a coup should the law be tampered with.

On the other hand, the King himself’s insistence than he does not need the law because public criticism is the means by which he can judge whether of not he is doing a good job for the country is equally steadfastly ignored by the General Staff.

     4. New Years celebrations in Key West Florida:

In summer temperatures at Key West, Fla., three separate New Year’s Eve drops were planned for midnight celebrations:

A giant facsimile of a conch shell would be lowered at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering hole when he lived in Key West.

At the Schooner Wharf Bar, the bar owner dressed as a pirate wench would drop down from a mast of a tall sailing ship.

And at the Bourbon Street Pub complex, a drag queen named Sushi would descend in a glittering 6 foot red women’s high heel.


Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand at the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.

Later that evening at dinner in the tiny restaurant near the apartment where we usually eat dinner when we go out, the only other table was occupied by three young people, obviously students. One was a very tall slender Thai woman sporting dread locks down to her waist. I later learned she was a student studying English in Singapore, home for the holidays. They were singing karaoke on a portable machine supplied by the proprietor of the place. They asked me to join in and still in my manic stage, I did, singing a soulful and doleful version of “100 (or was it 500, I can never remember) Miles.” I wanted to follow it up with “My way” and “Country Road,” but desisted because I felt I would be pushing my welcome. The Little Masseuse said it was ok for me to sing as long as I did not dance on the street corner. She asked me if I did that back in the US and promised to take me to a place where I could sing and dance to my heart’s content.

New Year’s Eve in Bangkok:

On New Year’s Eve, at about 6pm I decided to treat myself to a slice of pizza. I walked up Soi Nana to one of the two pizza parlors on the street, the one calming it serves New York style pizza. I ordered a slice of what looked like pepperoni and a coke for $1.33 and read my book. In was the latest from Eco entitled “The Prague Cemetery.” As usual with most of Eco’s books since Foucault’s Pendulum, it was erudite, well written, fascinating and a little bit superficial.

My pizza slice tasted better than the last time I ate there, so I ordered another, ate it and set off for an early evening stroll on Soi Nana.

The street, usually a somewhat serious place of business and commerce purveying sex, alcohol and drugs, was more festive this evening. A forlorn but enthusiastic group of dragon dancers accompanied by loud noises and acrobatics moved from bar to bar, thrusting its giant dragon head as far into the open front of the establishments as they could. There were a few fireworks set off by the local street children and along the sidewalks some of the locals had set up small barbecues for picnic parties.

The Ladies and Lady-boys of the night were out, dressed in their holiday finest. In any contest of fashion splendor, however, the lady-boys win hands down. The fashion sense of their undress were more spectacular, their hairdo’s and makeup finer, and their breasts much larger, exposing all but the dreaded, illegal and shameful nipple. The physics of achieving such upthrust exposure would make Steven Hawking marvel.

The Ladies, on the other hand, were more subdued and seemed more relaxed. Gone was the grim determination of the normal working day, usually begun with an early morning visit to the temple to pray that someone would buy their body that day, replaced with a sense that today was a holiday and the desperate plying of their trade could be put off for a day.

Not so the Lady-boys, they were going for the gold tonight.

After returning to my apartment and taking a nap, I went to the area around the World Center where BKK’s New Year’s Eve countdown festivities would take place. There were thousands and thousands of people there aimlessly milling about much like New Year’s Eve in Times Square except there you got to mill about in crushing crowds while freezing your ass off while here you got to do the same until you felt faint from heat prostration.

There was some entertainment, mostly by a third level American pop singer, but most people merely waited and milled about. Then at midnight a pleasantly noisy fireworks display brought in the new year.

We were standing by the local McDonald, which was hosting a VIP party on the sidewalk in front. Ronald McDonald left the party and graciously posed and preened for photographs with some of the crowd.

Then the crowds began to disperse. We waited a few minutes for the worst of the crush to move on, then began to make our way toward Sukhumvit and home.

At one point the crowd was funneled through a narrow area, bounded on one side with the fence separating the entertainers from the masses and on the other a wall about 10 feet high supporting a plaza area upon which was another VIP gathering.

Here the crowd moving in one direction met up with those going in the other and pandemonium erupted. The rent- a-cops on the plaza at one end of the wall were urging the crowd forward into the vortex, while those at the other end were doing the same. The security guards in the middle however were urging everyone to turn around and go back.

Now, the Thais do not seem to be as prone to panic as westerners, but it began to break out nonetheless as the mass of bodies crashed and vibrated. People began passing children up to those on the wall to remove them from the danger of suffocation or trampling, followed by some women who were also passed up. Then the “me first,” men began scrambling up leaving the remaining women and children to fend for themselves.

At first I sort of enjoyed abandoning myself to the ebb and flow of the crowd and being taller that most Thais avoided the confusion and anxiety of those who could not see what was going on around them.

After a while, I grew tired of all this. Being larger and heavier than most Thai’s and knowing the Thai abhorrence of confrontation, I decided to simply bull my way through, Ugly American style, dragging along whomever in my wake.

I felt uncomfortable pitting my bulk against the much smaller Thai men, so I tried to direct my path through the largest men I could find and simply push them out-of-the-way. Unfortunately, I could not avoid bumping into some of those much smaller than I. I still remember the look on one young man’s face as I inadvertently broke his sunglasses as I pushed past him.

Nevertheless, without too much difficulty, I waded through the human mass, reached the end of the impasse and turned into a side street where much to my surprise were hundreds of BKK’s finest police lounging around in their busses or sitting on steps. Not a single one had been deployed in crown control.

Anyway, feeling a bit elated by my bath of adrenaline and testosterone, we walked the mile of so back to Soi Nana, then took a motorbike taxi the rest of the way to the apartment.

I hope you all had a Happy New Year also.




Alas, poor Vince, he will have to remain trembling in that stairwell for a few more days


     1. The 14 defining characteristics of Fascism:

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each. Here are the final four:

          11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

         12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

         13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

         14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

     2. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

          a. Let’s get the largest return for our money:

          b. Corporations should pay their fair share:!

     3. Signs you are smarter than average:

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that female and male adolescents with

an IQ score below 70 or above 110 are more likely to be virgins.

(I wonder if this means the first time I did it I got smarter or dumber? If I remember correctly I was pretty stupid as an adolescent, given the number of years I spent trying to do it and failing. Anyway it finally it happened. We were both drunk so, I guess it could be considered a form of rape, although I am not sure I recall who was the raper and who was the rapee. Oh well, at least, as a result, my IQ may have increased from “borderline deficient” to “below average.”)

     4. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

Peter G wins the prize for pointing out that, in England the pubs would close at that time to give the publican a chance to clean the place out. I recall in NY the closing time was somewhere around 4 to 5AM for the same reason. Way to go Peter.

He also points out that since this is the end of the Age of Kali, he expects the train to eventually depart again from out of the rubble of the station. He adds also that the world will not be taken over by a race of giant spiders, but he remains silent about the bright future of the Naked Mole Rat.


Please see the blog:

     1. Buddy Roemer on Super PAC’s:

Politics has been completely corrupted by “Super PACs” and other special interest money, and the worst offender is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who received $1.8 million from Freddie Mac, the troubled government sponsored mortgage giant, for providing dubious strategic advice. “I want as president a woman or a man who is clean, who has the power to lead and who tells the truth,” Roemer says. “Newt does not fit those characteristics.”

     2. Clarence Thomas on Republicans:

“Even as someone whoʼs labeled a conservative – Iʼm a Republican, Iʼm black, Iʼm heading up this organization in the Reagan administration – I can say that conservatives donʼt exactly break their necks to tell blacks that theyʼre welcome.”





Categories: January 2012 through March 2012, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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