2011: Recent surveys by Gallup found that world-wide roughly 700 million adults would like to migrate to another country permanently if they had the chance. The United States is the top desired destination country. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of these respondents, which translates to more than 165 million adults worldwide, name the United States as their desired future residence. With an additional estimated 45 million saying they would like to move to Canada, Northern America is one of the two most desired regions.
The rest of the top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 25 million or more adults would like to go) are predominantly European. Forty-five million adults who would like to move to the United Kingdom or to France as their desired destination, while 35 million would like to go to Spain and 25 million would like to relocate to Germany. Thirty-million consider moving to Saudi Arabia and an additional 25 million to Australia.
Hooray, for the USA. We are first again in something other than violent crimes and gun ownership. Should we consider channeling these new residents to Alabama [see Today’s Quote below] for indoctrination into American values. [30 million people want to migrate to Saudi Arabia? What’s that about?]
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
War and politics.
The on again off again pseudo war with Cambodia over an ancient temple, is on again. It seems as though the purpose of the current action is to kill about 10 troops and an equal number of civilians each day, and issue voluminous press releases demonstrating the military’s vigilance in defending the honor of King and country, in preparation for the up-coming elections (or coup). Make no mistake about it, this is the military’s private war. The civilian authorities have nothing to do with it other than to issue tepid assurances of support for the sacrifices of the troops in defense of the nations patrimony.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
The “Hot” season is upon us here. The relatively comfortable temperatures that we experienced since last October have been replaced by a furnace that drives most farangs and many Thais indoors as surely as would a snowstorm. As I sit in the apartment, air conditioners set at their highest and watch Hayden and Nina play, I stare at the heating world outside. I realize that unlike what I had been used to in the US where the heat rising from the ground would hide the world behind shimmering waves, fracturing it into pieces that disappear and reappear as the waves crest and recede, here the world keeps getting clearer and brighter slowly leaching out its colors until suddenly without warning it darkens as a cloud passes in front of the sun and when the sun comes out again the colors are magically restored.
Recently I have been spending more and more time at the little masseuse’s apartment. Usually when Hayden and maid depart on whatever task set for them by SWAC, I travel from the apartment I share with them, a few steps around the corner to the masseuse’s place. She is usually at work at the health club, dispensing towels and cold drinks to the members of the club and providing massages, happy or therapeutic as the case may be, to men and women alike.
The health club is located in the Ambassador Hotel. About 20 years or so ago the Ambassador was considered one of the more fashionable hotels in the city. Not as fashionable, nor expensive as the venerable Oriental Hotel situated on a prime riverfront site. And, unlike the Oriental which maintained its luster and physical plant, the Ambassador has grown old and not particularly gracefully.
When it was new the owner of the Ambassador had many large aquariums built and placed throughout the public areas, each containing a great variety of fish, most of which were and still are large in size and usually gold or silver in color.
Extending from within the building are large aviaries, some as much as four stories high. These hold a good number of interesting bird species, some individuals of which appear to me to have lived in the aviaries since the hotel first opened. While the aviaries and aquariums cannot be said to be in disrepair, they look and are old.
On the second and third floor terraces of the hotel are several smaller aviaries usually containing one or two larger colorful birds with either distinctive calls or whistles, or the ability to shout out a word or two to passers-by. One bird in an aviary located near the pool lets out an annoying wolf whistle any time a woman walks by.
Now and then I would take Hayden with me to see the fish in the aquariums and visit the birds in the aviaries. We would accompany the old caretaker on his rounds to feed the birds and clean their cages. Hayden would help out a bit and the old man would relate to him some facts about the particular bird in each cage they visited.
During their rounds, I would often sit on one of the chairs of the fantastically shaped collection of furniture strewn about the terrace, all made from the roots of giant teak trees, giving the terrace the look of leafless extension of the jungle itself. I would smoke a cigar and watch them, engage in serious discussion as they trundled from cage to cage.
The owner of the hotel periodically remodels and upgrades small portions of the premises, currently a new lobby is under construction. The hotel now caters primarily to Indian and Arab tourists.
The health club is still in an old run down condition. A few years ago, however, a new spa was constructed in another part of the hotel offering some of the same services as the health club (minus the fitness equipment) for at least twice the cost.
About four aging female masseuses work in the health club along with about eight younger men who also double as fitness trainers.
Anyway, I spend my afternoons in her tiny apartment, playing with my computer and napping. It is quiet there, the only sounds are the deep-throated hum of the air-conditioner and the rumble, almost more felt than heard, of the traffic on the highway a few blocks away.
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Chapter 19 (cont.)
“I think I understand basically what you are asking me to do,” he whispered. “However, do I also understand correctly, that among the reasons for the anxiety impelling you to seek counsel is that you believe, Coign’s death, the absence of Mr. Charles Bowman and the purloined files and Pepper and Rooney’s reticence all have something to do with ‘Red Star’?” “Otherwise, I see no urgency in your wish to retain my services. Nor for that matter do I see that my looking into the Red Star matter could in anyway protect your interests and better than existing counsel, unless you also believe that you may want me to look into the other issues as well, in which case that is entirely another matter”
Vince did not know whether to be amused at the man’s archaic mode of expression, annoyed at his assumptions or relieved at his perceptivity. Nevertheless he responded, “Yes, I guess your right. I do fear all these things are related, but I have no way of knowing if they do. I am also so focused on the management of the firm, as you know we’re are going through difficult times, as is the entire economy, that I feel out of my depth if they do, and I simply do not know who I can rely on to advise me except competent counsel of my choice and Pepper and Rooney would not be it”
Ike stared back at him for what seemed to be a long time, then said softly, “All right, I think I will have to first look into Red Star on my own and I will get back to you as soon as I can to let you know if I agree to accept the assignment. I admit, I find what you have told me interesting. In the meantime, I think you should, decide who it is I actually will be representing and begin assembling all the material that you wish me to review. You must understand, that if I do undertake this matter my office is ill-equipped to service a case of this size and complexity and I will be relying on retaining additional counsel that I trust. It could be expensive.”
With that he got up and departed with the same abruptness that Vince had left First’s office.
Vince handled his emerging buyer’s remorse by assuring himself that the guy had been recommended by Mike Daly, someone he trusted and that he actually liked dealing with old Ike. Nevertheless, he felt cornered by his old weakness of preferring to work with and trust people on the basis of their idiosyncrasies rather than what he may or may not know of their abilities.
He then put into a call to “Fat Al” Pischotti, his favorite PI who agreed to meet with him as soon as Vince got to Fat Al’s office at the corner of Bush and Larkin on the edge of the tenderloin district.
a. Today’s chart – Born Somewhere Else:
Percentage of each country (or territory) that is foreign-born migrants. Many former Soviet republics have seen a drop in foreign-born residents as scores of ethnic Russians left over the last two decades.
“There is no such thing as a free market. There is always a transaction cost.”
It costs money to get into the market, it costs money to participate in it and it inevitably costs money to get out. What’s so free about it?
A guest quote provided to me by my friend “Density.”
“If the Japanese knew anyone from Alabama they would have never bombed Pearl Harbor.”
– Richard Prior