This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. February 23, 2011

“The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.”
~Oscar Levant


February 26, 1564, Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury England to Catherine Marlowe and John Marlowe, a shoemaker. He attended Cambridge University, lived a life of high adventure as a spy, wrote some of the greatest plays and poetry in the english language and died in a barroom brawl before he was 30.

(Don’t forget to celebrate.)


Same old, same old.

There is a Palm Oil crisis in Thailand. Palm Oil is used by the majority of Thai’s for cooking. The price of Palm Oil is rising as is the price for food, natural resources and precious metals. Food prices are under somewhat greater pressure than the other two because climate change and extreme weather has begun to affect harvests. To add to the pressure, the so-called investment community (the rich and their advisors), fearing inflation, are moving money out of some financial instruments and into commodities as a hedge.

Because Palm Oil is essential to most Thais, the government initially acted to raise short-term supplies by removing some of the limits on the importation of the oil. This met with opposition from those in the financial community and some of the palm oil producers that would benefit most from the rise in prices. In addition to the usual political pressure articles suddenly started appearing in the press written by so-called experts that Thai producers and workers will be adversely affected. Also the producers simply warehoused the additional supply in hopes of increased future prices. The Government then effectively terminated the trade liberalization to the benefit of the producers and financial interests. Nevertheless, the government recognizing the dependence of the average Thai on the oil and the imminence of national elections, limited the retail price of the oil. While this had a lesser effect on the financial speculators, the producers see their profits squeezed down from obscene to normal and have reacted with fury. Stay tuned. One way or another, despite the best efforts of some in the government, the average Thai citizen is in for another screwing.

On a completely different matter the Thai newspapers contained a comment by Moammar Gaddafi on the demonstrations in Libya:

“This is my country, my country.”



This morning I dropped Hayden off at school and proceeded along Soi 4 to Sukhumvit. Some of the shops and bars were just opening for the day’s business. The Restaurants and cafes serving breakfast were in full swing with bleary eyed farangs trying to down their first coffee of the day. A few of the ladies of the night were still out on the streets. Whether they were out trying to get an early start on the day’s business or just hoping for one last score on their way home to sleep away the sunshine hours after last nights commerce, I do not know.

I stopped at a Starbuck’s at the corner of Sukhumvit and Nana for a Cafe Latte and to read the newspaper and then proceeded to the barber shop. The barber shop I use is located in the Arab quarter because we of the olive skin race, (bordering the Mediterranean and extending into the mountains of Persia and Afghanistan), tend to be generally more hirsute than the races from the north, south and east of our homeland.

I ordered a shave and a deep ear cleaning. Now, for those unfamiliar with the it, deep ear cleaning is a process that would probably be banned in North America or Europe. The barber inserts a series of long sharp instruments into ones ear and scrapes, swabs and otherwise digs out what ever he or she finds in there. In my case it must have been a lot since when I left the shop, the insistent noise of Bangkok appeared louder than when I went in.

From the barber shop, I walked through the back alleys of Arab town with their shops and cafes and travel agencies and the like catering to the mostly Muslim population of the area. The air smelled of spices, shawarma and falafel reminding me of my love of the cuisine.

I come out of the alley in front of Gulliver’s, a large barn like club. Inside there are several circular bars around which in the evenings young women sit in hopes of being hit on by preferably older and wealthier farangs.

I walk past Food Land Market. It houses a counter inside serving some of the least expensive good food, western and other, in BKK.

I enter a tunnel that runs between Soi’s. It is dark and filled on both sides with tiny bars, food stalls and shops. The tunnel exits next to an establishment named The Beer Garden. It is basically a downscale version of Gulliver’s and is referred to by some as “The Chicken Farm.” I cross the street and pass through the driveway alongside the Amari Hotel that ends in a large parking lot that skirts the abandoned lobby of what I guess is another hotel, on the doors of which are sculpted a magnificent brace of swans.

The parking lot ends at Soi 11 adjacent to the Rain Tree Spa and across from my destination, the Ambassador Hotel, containing the health club and pool I use for my morning exercises.

Following my workout, I walk along Sukhumvit to Soi 4 to go back my apartment. I often stop in the Landmark Hotel and visit the Asia Books store located in the lobby to see if there and any new releases I want to read.

As I walk along, every now and then a rat would poke its head out through a crack in the sidewalk, I guess for a glimpse of sunlight and perhaps safety from the dangers of the dark subterranean canals that lie just below the pavement, their fetid waters home to rats, snakes and god knows what else. When Bangkok enclosed most of their canals to provide the motorways for the modern city, it created a miasmatic swamp just below the city’s streets. Who knows what is breeding down there. The sewers of Paris are palaces compared to these. Novels have been written of escapes through the sewer systems of many cities, even New York. But if you’re trapped in Bangkok’s I doubt the possibility of survival. I sometimes wonder if in a hundred years or so some new creature or creatures would rise from those mephitic waters, a plague perhaps, or something larger than minuscule disease bearing organisms. Something looking like the Naga’s of Thai myths, multi-headed serpents ascending from those hidden waterways and careening down the then flooded streets pursuing the few remaining inhabitants of the city.

Arriving home, I usually grab my computer and go to the small restaurant across Soi 4 from my apartment, really not much more substantial than a sidewalk cart where I have lunch. It has the benefit of free wi-fi access, so I play with the internet, check on the 49rs and write things like this until it is time to pick Hayden up from school.


A few weeks ago (or maybe not so long ago), I opined that the fiction novel is dying and soon to be replaced by Twitter and Facebook fiction. Well, today an article appeared in the paper that reporter that young bloggers are abandoning blogs for Twitter and Facebook essentially because blogs are more passive and less immediate while Twitter and Facebook seems to be more in your face kind of communication. So I guess were I to write Chapter 10 in Twitter is would go something like this:

Isabella, looking hot enters the bar where Vince is sitting and tells him that he may be at the fall guy for the Brethren and Red Star. She leaves when David Kitchen arrives.

(Maybe that’s how Elmore Leonard learned to write.)

Chapter 10.

Vince entered the noisy restaurant. To his left was a large slightly raised platform containing a long bar and several small cocktail tables. To his right was a doorway leading to the eating area guarded by the unsmiling wannabe model hostess.

The Bar was lined with the usual young professionals looking to hook up one way or another that night. He took a seat at one of the cocktail tables facing the door and ordered a ginger ale from the waitress that appeared promptly at his side.

At precisely six-thirty the door opened and Isabella Yeung walked in. She seemed to like making grand entrances thought Vince. At least she likes being on time.

She was dressed in what he could only describe as high-end hooker. Her full black hair fell in glistening ringlets to her shoulders. Overly large hoop earrings peeked our from under her coiffure. She had on shimmering metallic top, clinched around the neck leaving her shoulders bare and split into a fringe above her navel and falling to just touch the top of her black micro-skirt. Her feet were encased in black multi-strapped four-inch heels. Over her bare shoulders was a long-sleeved black see through net vest, ruffled at the edges.

Her eyes locked of his and she strode directly over to his table and, as he now realized was her way, immediately sat down.

“Would you like a drink,” he asked?

“The same as you are having, ginger ale.”

He grunted, beckoned over the waitress and placed the order.

“Ok, so you are a private investigator showing me you have done your homework on me by knowing that I generally drink ginger ale. I hope you have been able to learn more than that.”

“Oh, a lot more.”

“There is a lot to know,” he responded. “Much more than there seems to be about you.”

“You probably have not looked in the right places.” She countered, that same placid stare did not for wander from his face even for a moment.

He was getting quite annoyed and frustrated by her arrogant self-assurance and if he could admit it to himself, a bit desperate. She was a very attractive woman and he appeared to be getting nowhere with her.

“Do you know agents Kittrel and Gonzales?” he asked hoping the sudden change in topic would throw her off her game and reveal something.

“No should I?”

Her ginger ale arrived. “How about a Mr. Jessel?”

For the first time her eyes left his face as she reached down, picked up the drink, took a sip and said, “I do not think so. Why?”

“All three appeared at my office this afternoon to ask me about ‘Red Star’ one of the things you chose to warn me about earlier. So, if you are not working with the Feds and will not tell me who you represent, why are you here? Is this game only to play with me because I find you attractive or is there something else on your mind?”

The hint of a smile appeared on her face that did not reach her eyes.

“This is not game,” she said. “I have been investigating the Brethren for some time now and it has led me to ‘Red Star’. I was making some headway and now you show up. You are an arrogant, self-important fool, just the tool to be used by those cleverer than you so that you become the fall guy and derail everything that has been done so far.”

Vince was stunned to silence. Then he heard a voice say, “Well well, if it is not the seductive Ms Yeung and my managing partner. Enjoying a little private discussion?I hope I am not disturbing you?”

It was David Kitchen. He had arrived early for our meeting.

“No you did not disturb anything at all, Mr. Kitchen, I was just leaving.” and with that she got up and without further comment to either Vince of David strolled out of the Restaurant with the same aplomb with which she walked in taking the longing glances of most of the males at the bar along with her.

“I trust you are not being taken in by her?” said Kitchen as he slid into the recently vacated seat.

“I have no idea what that was all about,” he replied. “Obviously you know more than I. All I know is that she is one good-looking piece of merchandise, but probably nuts.”

“A few weeks ago she showed up in my office asking questions about ‘Red Star.’ I directed her to address any questions to our firm attorney.” David added. “You would be well advised to do the same. I have reason to believe she is working for one of the suppliers to ‘Red Star’ looking for anything that would give them a preference in a possible bankruptcy.”

“She does not appear very professional about it.” Vince opined.

“There is more there then meets the eye, I think. But there sure is a lot to meet the eye as well.”


a. Book World from Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next or one the thereafter:

The continuing tale of Thursday’s invitation to three characters to take refuge in her home:

“He turned to the third Russian.
‘Tell me, Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin: who precisely is Marfa Petronova Svidrigailova?’
‘I’m sorry,’ said the third Russian who had been staring at her shoes absently, ‘but I think there has been some kind of mistake. I’m not Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin, but Alyona Ivanova.’
Razumikhin turned to Raskolnikov and lowered his voice.
‘Is that your landlady’s servant, the one who decides to marry down to secure her fortune or the one who turns to prostitution in order to stop her family descending into penury?’
Raskolnikov shrugged.
‘Listen’ he said, ‘I’ve been in this book for over one hundred and thirty years, and even I can’t figure that out'”
(To be continued.)

b. Today’s cognitive bias:

Reminiscence bump — the effect that people tend to recall more personal events from adolescence and early adulthood than from other lifetime periods.


“As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce. ”
~Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

(So much for the invisible hand.)

Categories: January 2011 through March 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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