The US Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will cost more than $2 billion to repair the damage to the nation’s levees, dams and riverbanks caused by this year’s excessive flooding, a sum that dwarfs $150 million it currently has to make such repairs and that doesn’t account for damage from Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
1. Fair and Balanced Update: In my last post, I speculated about the reason behind the Media assault on the new Administration of Princess LuckyGirl as well as her party’s rapid implementation of some of its policies (especially on amnesty for Princess LuckyGirl‘s elder brother, the fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin the Terrible). I guessed it had something to do with possible military co-option by the new government.
An article in today’s english language press (definitely not on the front page), reported that recent poll results showed an overwhelming majority (over 80%) of Thais opposed another military coup under any circumstances. In a related story, interviews, with a number of members of the military general staff have elicited the opinion from most of them that the previous military coup was a mistake and damaged the Thai economy. In still another associated story, the Yellow Shirts, the citizen group whose protests against the Thaksin associated government brought about the military coup and who strongly supported the Military’s war with Cambodia announced they intended to stay out of politics for a while.
It sounds as though the return of Thaksin the Terrible is imminent and people are beginning to line up to get on his good side.
2. Political Gibberish: Meanwhile, the man himself, Thaksin the Terrible, is spending a leisurely week in Cambodia, Thailand’s neighbor and recent opponent in a comic war over ownership of a temple in a disputed area along the countries’ border. He is there ostensibly to play golf and give a few lectures to a business conference. The newspapers published a photograph of him hugging “his good friend,” the prime minister of Cambodia, Thailand’s enemy only two months ago. When interviewed by the press during his sojourn and asked whether if he did return to Thailand would he reenter politics and assume the Prime Minister’s job, he responded with a string of political gibberish of which even I could make no sense.
3. Amnesty: It was also announced today, by the governmental agency responsible for making such announcements, that according to Thai law, anyone over 60 years of age convicted of a crime that requires incarceration for less than 3 years qualifies to petition the King for amnesty. Thaksin the Terrible, is 63 years old and has been sentenced to serve two years in prison.
Have we seen this movie before?
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
Although I remain mostly in bed treating my illness, I still must bustle about to prepare for my return to California on Wednesday, September 24. Regrettably, a lot of what I had hoped to get done before departure will not get done.
The flooding in Thailand moves ever closer to Bangkok and is expected to arrive in the next few days. Bangkok like New Orléans is a city located for the most part below sea level. In the next decade, as a result of rising sea levels and increased precipitation it will face its own city altering catastrophic floods like New Orléans did. But unlike New Orléans, allowed to flood for political reasons, Bangkok being the capital city will struggle to divert the onslaught of the waters through massive public-works projects already under weigh or in planning. Technical exchanges with Holland and other countries to try to address the problem have increased recently.
While the public-works projects will have a beneficial effect on the Thai economy, I am dubious about their efficacy given the area’s geography and the speed and extent of sea level rise and climate change. I would be surprised if by 2050 Bangkok as we know it will even exist. But, alas, I will undoubtedly not be around to experience the accuracy of my prediction.
While lying awake one night unable to sleep due to the aches and miseries associated with my current malady and unwilling to watch another Steven Seagal movie or Thai soap, I turned on my Mac and reread the “This and thats” that I have written over the past few months. Usually when I finish a post and send it out, I generally find myself embarrassed and disgusted with what I imagine is the poor grammar, infantile emotions, self-indulgence, foolish assertions and many other things contained in it. While my rereading of the posts did not disabuse me of those feelings, I have to admit I enjoyed looking through them again. I was especially amused coming across some of my long forgotten obsessions. For those of you who may have actually read them, you have my sympathy.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
“What do you mean,” said the Vince character in response to Isabella’s expression of concern?
“Well, the way I see it, it is like your character said when we met at Ike’s house, what we have here is simply a third-rate business screw up, so what’s the big deal?”
“Go on,” Vince encouraged. “I still don’t see what you’re so concerned about.”
“These type of business failures and frauds happen every day, but people don’t go running around committing suicide, killing people or setting up fall guys.”
“Well, maybe the Brethren are publicity shy.”
“Maybe,” she continued. “But their involvement is easily dismissed publicly as only another case of some abused and defrauded investors. No, it is something more, something bigger that if it came out would threaten everything,”
“So, I still don’t see what you’re so upset about. This is a thriller. The author, if he knows what he is doing, would want a conspiracy, the bigger the better.”
“No, no that’s not it,” she exclaimed, her voice rising. “What’s our role, your role?”
“I’m the reluctant but courageous hero who after many harrowing adventures prevails over the forces of darkness,” he responds smugly. “And you, why you’re my doxy,” he adds with a smile and leans forward to peer more closely at his face in the makeup mirror.
“That would work,” she responds derisively, “if you knew something that threatens them, whoever they are, which you don’t. Or they think you know something, which you don’t . Or you could stumble over something which you won’t because everyone knows the only reason you were brought into this novel was to die.”
a. I Didn’t Know That:
During the Middle Ages in Europe, the floor of most homes was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “dirt poor.”
The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.
As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a “thresh-hold.”
By the way, this common use of dirt and thresh flooring is also the reason why we in the West, unlike in the East, customarily remain wearing shoes when entering a house.
b. What Adam Smith (considered by some as the “father” of Capitalism) Really Said:
“When masters combine together in order to reduce the wages of their workmen, they commonly enter into a private bond or agreement, not to give more than a certain wage under a certain penalty. Were the workmen to enter into a contrary combination of the same kind, not to accept of a certain wage under a certain penalty, the law would punish them very severely; and if it dealt impartially, it would treat the masters in the same manner.”
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations [Book I, Chapter X, Part II, p. 164].
c. From God’s Mouth to Your Ears:
“… I believe God was waiting for the biblical government of the Church to come into place under apostles and prophets. But this happened in 2001, when, at least according to my estimates, the Second Apostolic Age began. What more? I now think that in order for us to be able to handle the wealth responsibly, we need to recognize, identify, affirm, and encourage the ministry of the apostles in the six non-Religion mountains. They may or may not want to use the term `apostle’ but they will function in Kingdom-based leadership roles characterized by supernaturally empowered wisdom and authority. We have more work to do here.”
C. Peter Wagner (an ardent Rick Perry supporter), The Reformers Pledge.
Is he implying that George Bush’s election ushered in the Second Apostolic Age? Why that would make good old George the modern Moses! Poor George, he gets blamed for everything. Hmm, is there somewhere one can go to sign up for one of those apostleships?
d. Profiles in Presidential Courage:
“As for the other six and a half billions of the deficit we did not just spend money; we spent it for something. America got something for what we spent—conservation of human resources through CCC camps and through work relief; conservation of natural resources of water, soil and forest; billions for security and a better life. While many who criticize today were selling America short, we were investing in the future of America.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.
e. Testosterone Chronicles:
The Hamer people in Ethiopia have a formal rite of passage for boys before they can formally marry. They must run naked over a row of cows four times. In the Brazilian Amazon, the Satere-Mawe tribe have a more painful–and dangerous–manhood ritual. Boys must wear a glove woven with bullet ants twenty times.
f. The Trolley Test II:
Let us assume that in the example given in my last post, instead of the option of switching to an alternative track to avoid the trolley killing the five people on the track, you are on a bridge above the track, beside you stands a fat man. You know that the fat man, if he fell on the tracks, would stop the trolley and save the five people. Would you throw him off?
Now right here I must stop and admit I have a problem. Describing this person as a “Fat” man would, because of my liberal leanings force me to hesitate while I examine whether or not my progressive values are offended by the stereotype, causing me, in true liberal fashion, to do nothing resulting in the inevitable death of five people.
Now in order to avoid the sticky emotional problem of physically touching the person you intend to kill, assume the fat man is suspended in a basket above the tracks to be released to fall upon the tracks and stop the Trolley by you pressing a button.
1. Would you press the button now?
2. Would your answer be the same if the person in the basket was:
a. Adolf Hitler (or if you need a person in being, say Moammar Gaddafi),
b. Mother Theresa or Albert Einstein (or, Suu Kyi),
c. Michelle Bachman, (or the Republican of your choice)
d. Barak Obama (or Michael Moore or some other liberal you find obnoxious)
e. A young pregnant woman,
f. A child or,
e. One of your close relatives or friends?
3. Would you throw yourself off that bridge instead of any one of the above?
“Everything we’re seeing [the current financial crisis] makes sense if you think of the right as representing the interests of rentiers, of creditors who have claims from the past — bonds, loans, cash — as opposed to people actually trying to make a living through producing stuff. Deflation is hell for workers and business owners, but it’s heaven for creditors.”
“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
Before and after September 11.
Do you think Osama bin Laden achieved his goal to destroy America’s economic might?