Posts Tagged With: Floods

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 8, 2011


Please see the blog:

1. Theodore Roosevelt, Populist Republican President:

“The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. That is what you fought for in the Civil War, and that is what we strive for now.”

2. David Frum, Republican political strategist attempting to save the party from itself.

“This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners.”

3. Ruth Porat, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, a member of the 1% urges and a Republican:

“The wealthiest can afford to pay more in taxes. That’s a part of the deal. That makes sense. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t agree with that. The wealth disparity between the lowest and the highest continues to expand, and that’s inappropriate.We cannot cut our way to greatness.”


1. September 2011:,

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, more Americans than last year believe the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates. The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept 8-12.

Now a new Pew poll provides further support for that finding. From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of moderate or liberal Republicans who say there is “solid evidence” the earth is warming jumped 22 percentage points, from 41% to 63% — 15 percentage points just since last year (from 48 to 63).

See, who said Republicans can’t learn? They simply might, however, be just a bit slow. Unfortunately, their elected officials seem a lot slower than their base.

2. Education matters:

Careers that require at least mid level skills or higher will grow faster.

3. China has 64 million empty apartments.


1. Thailand, Flood Aftermath:

As the flood water recedes and the clean-up gets under-weigh, proposals for dealing with future flooding abound. Almost all, if not all, imply continued development of the flood plain, which the King warned against two decades ago. Each of these proposals seek to handle future water flow from storms similar to those recently experienced. Without getting into the impacts of climate change or the ongoing debate over whether the recent floods were 100 year or 1000 year floods and whether it is cost effective to size your infrastructure to handle something that only occurs every century, no proposal that I have seen so far accounts for future development of the flood plain, but instead ignores what it makes more possible.

For example, the channels, canals, drainage structures and retaining basins are all proposed to be sized to handle future flooding. But they also allow even more development in the flood plain that would overtime increase the amount of water the infrastructure must handle, undoubtedly overwhelming them. Developers are proposing projects in which cement walls built to a hight of a certain level of flooding (significantly less than that recently experienced) surround the homes. Since these would be built in the flood plain, the result would be higher and more sever flooding because the water would have less area to spread out into.

The only way to avoid this is either to prohibit future building in the flood plain, which is impossible, or require all structures be built, as they have been traditionally, on stilts leaving the ground level free for water flow and drainage. Any impervious surface necessary would have to be compensated for with something like a drainage ditch of equal size as that covered by the impervious layer and dug down to a depth of one or two meters and filled with permeable material so that future flood water can be held and drained into the subsoil. This won’t happen either.

2. Thailand, petrol:

Thailand has ordered the use of petrol (for cooking primarily) phased out in one year and  replaced by ethanol produced from sugar plants. The petrol companies support the move, so do the sugar growers.

3. Thailand, pardons:

In honor of the his birthday The King has pardoned 26,000 inmates, but not Thaksin the Terrible who nevertheless remains at large.

4. Thailand, cuisine:

The number of Mr Donut stores in Thailand are expected to double in five years.

5. America:

According to Felix Salmon, without the Fed and the Treasury, the shareholders of every single money-center bank and shadow bank in the United States would have gone bust. He adds that he does not understand why officials from the Fed and the Treasury keep telling him that the US couldn’t or shouldn’t have profited immensely from its TARP and other loans to banks. Somebody owns that equity value right now. It’s not the government. But when the chips were down it was the government that bore the risk. That’s what a lender of last resort does. That’s why Bagehot’s rule is to lend freely but at a penalty rate. The bankers should not profit from the fact that they were over leveraged, and compelled the government to act as a lender of last resort.

6. American weather disasters:

America suffered a record 12 weather disasters this year that each caused at least $1 billion in damage.


Today December 5 is the Birthday of The King of Thailand, King Bhumibol. It is the end of the seventh 12 year cycle of his life which makes it special. It is also poignant for many Thais because the precarious nature of The King‘s health may mean it is possibly his last birthday celebration.

Although the celebration lasts for about a week, on his birthday itself a grand festival was held near the palace with 100s of thousands of people attending, fireworks throughout the city, interminable speeches by politicians and endless chanting by 100s of monks. Also there was a short speech by the obviously very ill monarch where he asked everyone to behave themselves.

As Kings go, Bhumibol in my opinion, is one of the best. Not that Kingship is one of the better systems of governance. It is not, being essentially a reward to the original biker gang-leader who slaughtered and raped his way to the top to allow his mostly inept descendants to have a free ride while participating in elaborate ceremonies, eating things too rich to be good for them, dressing uncomfortably and every now and then putting someone they did not like to death in very horrible ways. As in everything, experience and expectation to the contrary, every now and then the system throws up an exemplary individual. King Bhumibol is one.

During most of Bhumibol‘s reign, major political power in the country was exercised by some of the strangest dictators known to history (One dictator even had the improbable name of “Weird”). Nevertheless, Bhumibol carved out an exemplary niche for himself. Rarely, if ever, during his reign have the other political powers in the country concerned themselves with anything other than the welfare of the small group that exercised control over the military and commercial resources of the country who resided primarily in the nation’s capitol, largest city and commercial center, Bangkok. Until recently Bhumibol was not only the spiritual leader of the country, but its conservationist, environmentalist, cultural preservationist, water policy czar and rural development maven. He established and managed the nations national park system, developed and promoted the nations folk art, designed its water and flood protection systems, instituted a means of promoting village products throughout the country and the world and much much more.

He appears to be a most humble man. Most Kingships and nobility systems depend upon a system of religious deification, preservation of dignity, elaborate rituals and cultivation of support from the most powerful and conservative institutions in the nation. Bhumibol understood this but maintained only the slightest interest it, only as much as necessary. On formal occasions the rituals or prostration and the like were observed and noted. During his visits around the country pursuing his interests such rituals disappeared. For example, when reviewing a flood control site he often would roll out his maps and plans on the hood or the nearest vehicle oblivious to the usual pomp that surrounds royal excursions.

He is a scientist and inventor with many patents to his name (mostly for water projects), musician and composer, sportsman (won a gold medal in sailing in the Asian Games on December 12th which has become National Sports Day in Thailand) and much more.

Nice going big guy. Happy Birthday.


Again I regret the post has gotten too long and as usual, the saga of Vince and Isabella loses out.


a. Strange apocalypses:


Geologists worry that a future volcanic eruption at La Palma in the Canary Islands might dislodge a chunk of rock twice the volume of the Isle of Man into the Atlantic Ocean, triggering waves a kilometer high that would move at the speed of a jumbo jet with catastrophic effects for the shores of the US, Europe, South America and Africa.

Danger sign: Half the world’s major cities are under water. All at once.

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

1.To end the lie that Americans are overtaxed.

The above chart suggests that those that believe US taxes are too high may wish to move somewhere else. Clearly they would be very unhappy in Denmark, Sweden, Italy or a number of other countries, but perhaps they would enjoy moving to Mexico. America, love it and support it by paying your taxes, or leave it. Haven’t I heard something like that before? [By the way, I do not pay taxes any more, so I left]

2. To end theft of our tax dollars and erosion of our military strength by defense contractors.
“In the 1980s, there were legislative efforts to make contractors keep data on any should cost [Alternative to grossly more expensive ‘did cost’ pricing for military hardware] they did and make it available to the DoD, but those standards, especially Military Standard 1567A were finally vaporized by 1995 [during Clinton administration] with the historical cost advocates winning full control of the pricing in the DoD… this has lead to paying more for less and less weapons — more bucks for less bang.”
Dina Razor

c. Excerpts from Bill Moyer’s speech to Citizens United:

“No wonder the US Chamber of Commerce feels right as home with the landmark designation of its headquarters. 1615 H Street now masterminds the laundering of multi-millions of dollars raised from captains of industry and private wealth to finance — secretly — the political mercenaries who fight the class war in their behalf.

Even as the Chamber was doubling its membership and tripling its budget in response to Lewis Powell’s manifesto, the coalition got another powerful jolt of adrenalin from the wealthy right-winger who had served as Nixon’s secretary of the treasury, William Simon. His polemic entitled A Time for Truth argued that, “funds generated by business” must “rush by multimillions” into conservative causes to uproot the institutions and “the heretical strategy” [his term] of the New Deal. He called on “men of action in the capitalist world” to mount “a veritable crusade” against progressive America. Business Week magazine somberly explained that ,“…it will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have move.”

I’m not making this up.

And so it came to pass; came to pass despite your heroic efforts and those of other kindred citizens; came to pass because those “men of action in the capitalist world” were not content with their wealth just to buy more homes, more cars, more planes, more vacations and more gizmos than anyone else. They were determined to buy more democracy than anyone else. And they succeeded beyond their own expectations. After their 40-year “veritable crusade” against our institutions, laws and regulations — against the ideas, norms and beliefs that helped to create America’s iconic middle class — the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance.”

d. How To Talk Like A Republican (the new American Lexicon):

e. The differences between Europeans and Americans:

f. Testosterone Chronicles:

In an effort to be fair to both sides of the political divide I thought I would share this publicity photograph of my favorite political commentator.

Some of Apple Annie’s most endearing and courageous quotes:

“… just remember the lesson from my book: it just took a few shootings at Kent State to shut that down for good.”

“This is the first time they got bullets back… and that put an end to the protests pretty quickly.”

“I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.”
(Dr Tiller was the head of an abortion clinic assassinated two decades ago by anti-abortion activists)

“I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don’t want to impose my moral values on others.”

Sounds a lot like man talk

2. Also to read about a real “Bad Ass” go to:


“Extreme weather like the droughts in Russia, China and Brazil and the flooding in Pakistan and Australia [in 2010] have contributed to a level of food price volatility we haven’t seen since the oil crisis of 40 years ago. Unfortunately, this could be just a taste of things to come because in the next few decades the build-up of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere could greatly increase the risk of droughts, flooding, pest infestation and water scarcity for agriculture systems already under tremendous stress.” — John Beddington, UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (March 2011)



Because we will always have Paris.


Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. October 24, 2011




Comments on the flooding from my friend, the well-known ex-pat mystery writer Christopher Moore:

“News reports of cracks in flood walls, high tide on Monday, an unstoppable wall of water moving from the North and West into Bangkok, possible evacuation of FROC to Chon Buri. This is a long weekend in Thailand. Many have gone to Hua Hin or Pattaya. There is a nervous edge as people brace for a water world with food and water shortages, power blackouts, shutting down of transport and banking. It may be outside the power of government to prevent the flooding of Bangkok. No one can predict the amount of damage or the length of time before things resume to normal or what will emerge on the other side of this drama.”


Christine Lagarde, a partner of mine during my time at Baker and McKenzie

Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and now head of IMF, has recently announced that the IMF would no longer be willing to pick up a third of the total bill for rescuing Greece unless European banks were prepared to write off 50 per cent of Greek debt.

At last someone in power is willing to start the only sensible strategy for ending the debt crisis, default. The banks need to assume some responsibility and suffer significant losses instead of imposing them solely on the general public alone.


After lunch, my friend Pino who owns the restaurant in Belden Alley (along with four others) that Mike and I sat at, joined us and treated us to an ungodly number of rounds of grappa while we discussed Pino’s ongoing conflict with the Shorenstein Company,” that owns the adjacent parcel and intends to build a hotel complex using Belden Alley as the entrance to the garage.

Mike and I walked back toward his office where we parted and I headed to the tram to return home. Being befogged as I was from the grappa, I found myself in the midst of the “Occupy” protest in front of the Federal Reserve building in downtown San Francisco where I made several unrequested speeches on their behalf before hopping on the trolley.

The Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries o...

The Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries on the San Francisco Bay and an upscale shopping center located on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. The Bay Bridge can be seen in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next day I had lunch with another colleague, Bob Uram, at “the Slanted Door a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in the restored Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Bob is one of the better attorney’s that I know. His ability to deal in the nether world between the law and the ambiguity of administrative agencies is almost mystical. We sat outside at a table overlooking the Bay and the arriving and departing ferry boats and talked about things past.

On Friday morning I left SF to travel again to Sacramento, this time to go camping with Hayden, Joey the male maid and his adopted children James and John. Upon arriving in Sacramento, Norbert and Stevie met me at the train station with a sleeping bag they were loaning me for my adventure into the woods. They kindly drove me from Sacramento to El Dorado hills where I met my companions in the escapade, Joey (the new male maid), James (6 years old) and John (11) his adopted children and Hayden.

We roared off in Joey’s large extended cab late-model pick up heading toward the Sierras, stopping briefly in Placerville to hook up a large camper trailer to the truck. After about an hour or two we had climbed to about 5000 feet, deep into the land of the giant ponderosa and sugar pines, incense cedar and sequoia. We discovered that all the public campgrounds were closed for budgetary reasons, so we settled into an old private campground named Ice House Camp. Like most old private campgrounds in the Sierra it was best described as a slum in the forest. Its guano caked picnic tables more resembled kindling than something to eat at. The BBQ’s and fire pits were rusting back into the ground. On the other hand the trees that were no higher than shrubs when the campground was created on a part of the forest that had at that time been recently clear-cut, had now grown to cathedral-like splendor.

After downing a spaghetti dinner prepared by Joey on the stove in the trailer, we ineffectually attempted to start a fire in the fire pit that only succeeded when I donated my supply of newspapers and tissue paper to the attempt. We then sat around the flames toasting marshmallows. Surprising for me was the discovery that the new style marshmallows were not those one rounded square inch or so of congealed sugar, but have now ballooned into bricks of more that two inches on a side. Instead of biting through the bitter burned outer layer os sugar to get at the sweet warm mass at the center, these new super-sized marshmallows required consuming the burned outer layers and returning the unmelted and unheated layers to the fire to be toasted again.

The boys made s’mores. For those unfamiliar with s’mores, as I understand it northern California takes credit for their invention. They consist of pressing between two Grahame Crackers the freshly melted Marshmallow and a piece chocolate.

While staring at Hayden across the fire I was saddened by the realization that our relationship was soon to change. As his personality and approach to life are becoming set, my feeble attempts to aid him are becoming irrelevant and so things change and I must get on with my life. I washed all this, the bitter thoughts and the taste of burned marshmallow, down with an entire bottle of Amador Zinfandel.
Following devouring those gourmet desserts, at a request of the boys for a ghost story, I told one about the Sierra Creeper who snuck into the world from the darkness when Coyote opened up a slit in the darkness to allow the first people into the world. Then we went to bed in the trailer.

The next morning while Joey prepared a breakfast of scrambled eggs and chorizo, the children went fishing and my nose froze because the temperature had sunk down to the high thirties.

After breakfast, we drove to a relatively secluded spot where Hayden changed into his cameo outfit and Joey and the boys unlimbered their BB-guns and Pellet gun and took target practice at some tin cans and then marched off into the forest ostensibly to hunt some inoffensive tiny creäture or birds. Fortunately the innocent creatures seemed much more clever than the pseudo-hunters.

I remained behind leaning against a rock taking in the sun with my eyes closed. It all felt so manly that I soon trudged off into the woods to shit and wipe myself with pine needles (having burned all the tissue last night)

Below is a photographs of the crew at target practice. Given my feelings about guns, warfare and killing, I find it difficult even looking at the picture. It frightens me. I see no heroism in it, only the death of loved ones, yours or someone else’s.



Chapter: Fat Al’s Fantasy:

Fat Al wondered how best to acquire the background information about Red Star and the rest that Vince asked for. His musings were interrupted with visions of Isabella Yeung. Although happily married for 28 years, he was neither above nor beyond fantasizing. And, Isabella was something around which many fantasies could be built. She had challenged him, following the debacle that accompanied the last time he tried to tail her, to call her if he wanted to know her whereabouts, instead of engaging in a version of spy vs spy satire. So, taking her invitation as an excuse, he decided to call her before calling his other contacts.

She answered the first ring and in her deep throaty voice asked “What can I do for you Mr. Pischotti?”

A brief frission of excitement accompanied his surprise at her recognition of his number.

“Yes, how are you Ms Yeung,” he said lamely? “I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. I thought your request that I contact you included some information as well as your whereabouts.”

“Well, it didn’t,” she said. “But, what is it you want to know. If I know the answer I might tell it to you.”

“Thank you. I am trying to find out all I can about a company named ‘Red Star.'”

“Are you asking this on behalf of Vincent Biondi,” she enquired.

“Yes I am.”

Forty-five minutes later Fat Al closed the connection, leaned back in his chair and let out a sound somewhere between a sigh and groan.

He then began dialing up his friends and informers in the public safety and security agencies to try to verify the troubling information he had just received.


a. I didn’t know that:

Q: Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?
A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

b. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

God is still vacationing in Pattaya.

c. News from Diskworld:

1. The Wit, Wisdom and Sometimes Discomfort of Sir Samuel Vimes.

“A Blackboard Monitor: One who can erase the writings, somebody who can rub out what is there.”

2. Snippets from ‘Unggue Theology,’ by Pastor Oats.

“…in reality, most goblins observe the Unggue Had – what one might term the common and lax form of Unggue – which encompasses earwax, finger and toenail clippings, and snot. Water, generally speaking, is reckoned as not unggue, but something which goes through the body without ever being part of it: they reason that there is no apparent difference in the water before or after, as it were (which sadly shines a light on the freshness of the water they encounter in their underground lairs). Similarly feces are considered to be food that has merely undergone a change of state. Surprisingly, teeth are of no interest to the goblins, who look upon them as a type of fungus, and they appear to attach no importance to hair, of which, it has to be said they seldom have very much.”

3. Aphorisms from the Oblong Office:

“In short, a certain amount of harmless banditry amongst the lower classes is to be smiled upon if not actively encouraged, for the health of the city, but what should we do when the highborn and wealthy take to crime? Indeed if a poor man will spend a year in prison for stealing out of hunger, how high would the gallows need to be to hang the rich man who breaks the law out of greed?”
Lord Vetinari

d. Testosterone Chronicles:

“Sicarius… celebrated the feast of the Nativity… with Austrighiselus and the other neighbors…. The priest… sent a boy to invite some of the men to come to his house for a drink. When the boy got there, one of the men he invited drew his sword and did not refrain from striking him. He fell down and was dead…. Sicarius… took his arms and went to the church to wait for Austrighiselus. The latter heard about this and armed himself…. [B]oth parties suffered harm…. Sicarius got away unnoticed… made for his homestead… leaving behind… his silver, his clothes, and four of his servants who had been wounded. After he had fled, Austrighiselus broke into the building, killed the servants, and took away with him the gold, the silver, and the other things. When they appeared later before the people’s court, the sentence was that Austrighiselus was to pay the legal penalty for manslaughter…. Sicarius, forgetting about these arrangements… broke the peace… invaded the home, killed father, brother, and son, and having done away with the servants took all their belongings and their cattle. When we heard this, we grew greatly perturbed…”
Gregory, Bishop of Tours.

“Perturbed?” Freaked out is more likely I would think.

e. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

In my previous e-mail I mentioned that the author Furst was a classmate of Ruth’s. Actually he went to a nearby school but they had gone to camp together. My apologies to all concerned.




Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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