31 October, 2006

Ghosts are real in Thai culture

Thai children near a statue of a Phii Phret ghost (see below).
An English teacher in Bangkok yesterday published an article titled “The Haunted Kingdom” in which he reported some revealing responses by his secondary Thai pupils on the subject of ghosts (The Nation, Oct 28). Ghosts are not part of Buddhism at all, but come from much earlier Animist belief system in which ancestor spirits must be kept pacified. Ancestor spirits are the eternal owners of the realm and we humans are mere temporary residents. Ghosts are accepted by Buddhist culture, however, as Buddhism is so eclectically all-embracing of human needs. Hence the proliferation of elaborate Spirit-houses – places where spirits may live comfortably, with daily food & drink which they ‘consume’. For more background, check out two short blogs from the first volume of FunkyPix, Ancestor houses and Thousands of Spirit Houses are concentrated in this spot.

But not all ghosts (“phii” in Thai) are so co-operative and nice. Judging by ads for numerous horror films fearuring ghosts, Thais simply adore being terrified. Here’s a short list of some favourite ‘phii’:

Phii Kraseu - the most feared ghost of all. Usually a woman’s head, trailing intestines, glowing heart and bleeding organs, floats around at night to find human entrails and dirt to eat. Thais often know she has visited them when they find grisly streaky marks where she has wiped her mouth on their laundry.

Phii Phret with matching K9 accomplice.

Phii Hai – haunts sites where people have died a violent death. These ghosts do not yet know they are dead, so try to occupy the souls of living people who come too close… hence the Thais’ fear of returning to the Tsunami beaches. Phi Hai only find peace by luring a victim to an identical death. Their souls are informed of their death after 100 days by means of a ceremony, but until that time, BEWARE!

Phii Mae Naak – a woman who dies in childbirth returns to look after her husband… see an illustrated review of this Thai horror movie.

Phii Krahang – lives in barns. Its feathered body, half-bird, half-man, glows at night while it wanders in search of food (oddly enough, like Thai people themselves, most Thai ghosts are very fond of food).

Phii Phret – this is how evil-doers and parent-abusers end up… a translucent male ghost as tall as a tree, eternally wailing and hungry because its mouth is only the size of a pin-hole [see main photo above].

And so on - the list is long. In response to his account of being pursued through a forest by a pale-faced Phii Kraseu, one Thai boy wrote: “I became caught in the screamy moment and can’t do anything. Tears come out of my eyes because of fearing”.

A girl recounted how she encountered a Phii Phret in her grandmother’s backyard at night: “It had hands and foots very big and a thin body more tall than trees. It yelling and hungry”.

Another girl wrote: “My mum told me if I do wrong the Phret ghost will come to me. My hair’s arm stand up and I’m very suspicious”.

A fourth student, however, wryly observed:
“I used to fear Phii Phret, but now I think some bad people is scary more than ghosts”.

'Halloween' with a Thai twist

Halloween has been colonised BIG-time by Thais. Here some kids partake in a department store competition, but I'd say it's an even bet as to whether this would actually attract or repel customers. Even avowed sceptics will often 'wai' ("just in case") when passing a shrine honouring a feared ghost.

By the way, it's best to avoid brushing your hair 100 times in front of a mirror at midnight, surrounded by burning candles. It makes Thai ghosts particularly VICIOUS.

30 October, 2006

Mystery photo essay:
You decide what it all means

Sydney Aqualung Club HQ

A non-consumer, therefore not worth rescuing from starvation

Amazon river, 2006

Somewhere south of Wollongong (see the end of this page
if you'd like to listen to this iceberg)

Give this beast a name.

Hey, if you need a caption to this one, it's time to up your medication.


The top-secret solution is encoded below...

Use your Idiot-Detecting Mouse to solve the rest of the puzzle:

Global Warming Bush loves Johnnie Ducklips Howard

If you're STILL unsure, watch this short flash animated cartoon (with sound) by Nicholson of 'The Australian'. Very 'funny'. It loads quickly, then you can click out and be right back in your beloved FunkyPix2.

Would you like to listen to the sounds of an antarctic iceberg on this mp3 recording? Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute used seismic technology, normally used for measuring earthquakes and tectonic movements, to record sounds made by the B-09A iceberg. The 50 x 20 kilometre iceberg had collided with an underwater peninsular and was slowly scraping around it. Then it stuck fast to the seafloor, causing tidal pressure to force water through its crevasses and tunnels at high pressure. The iceberg literally started ‘singing’. This recording was originally at 0.5Hz, far below the range of human hearing, so the mp3 recording is speeded up to bring it into audible range.

Extinction of the dinosaurs, Round 2...
For sale - used planet

United Planets Building, Mars, August 12, 3006.
Martian scientists today announced that their expedition to the deserted planet Earth had discovered proof that there were once vast oceans covering two-thirds of its surface. Today in 3006 it is a dry ghost-hulk of a planet.

The new information confirms popular mythology which tells of Earth once being a blue planet, not brown. Observed patches of ‘cloud’ were not water vapour at all, but actually remnants of ancient bushfire smoke.

Asked what had caused the mass extinction of life on Earth, Martian scientists denied that it had been hit by a giant asteroid. Instead, they claimed, their probe had recently discovered irrefutable evidence of irresponsible leadership.

The space-probe’s robotic cameras had found a fossilized newspaper half-buried in dust, fortunately protected in what appeared to be an ancient bomb-crater. Cameras beamed images of the newspaper back home to to Mars where its script was de-ciphered, even though the final two lines had faded. It read:

The USA and Australia still refuse to
sign Kyoto Protocols on Climate Change.
Even up to January 2013, Howard suggests
building token Wind and Solar Farms instead of arranging
effective longer-term corrective solutions.
(Coal industry jobs must be protected in
marginal electorates, Howard continues to argue).

Martian scientists have hypothesised that there had been a previous mass extinction of dinosaurs on Earth several million years earlier, also attributable to massive climate change. It was clear, though, that none of the obvious lessons had been learned by the second generation of dinosaurs. Paleontologists believe they were much smaller, lacked tails, smoked, and walked on their hind legs.

Surprise! Why is England now SUPPORTING the UN's proposal for Arms Control?

The funny pic to get your attention...

Britain, along with the USA, China, Russia, France and Germany, ranks among the largest Weapons Manufacturers in the world. (Brits: are you actually proud of that?) Now that the UN is finally doing the proper thing by legislating for Arms Control, why then has Britain decided to vote ‘Aye’? Isn’t that contrary to its own commercial interests?

Not at all. Britain supports international Weapons Regulations not because it has peace and human rights at heart, but because it figures that’s the better way to suppress growing commercial opposition… the free market for weapons doesn’t suit England any more, now that an increasing number of countries are manufacturing armaments. Being 'top dog' in Weapons manufacturing for the last two hundred years been the 'engine' of British empire.

For some excellent reports on the current debate, I can do no better than to refer you to this page in the Guardian Unlimited, but now I will appear to digress a little…

When in doubt, check History: FP2 casts a backward glance at England’s Ghosts of Christmases Past, the sad and salacious saga of the origins of the British Arms Industry…. (scene dissolves to sepia pictures of sailing ship, and wafting snatches of ‘Rule Britannia’)… fade to a sepia-tinted font and toff-nosed voice-over…)

One of the wealthiest British families of the 17th century was the Evelyn family, populated by a sprinkling of politicians, Knights etc, including the gentle and celebrated John Evelyn the Diarist – although he is less familiar to most than Samuel Pepys. John’s dad and grand-dad had made their massive fortunes – literally – out of manufacturing gunpowder, an invention "borrowed" from the Chinese some time before.

The young John Evelyn basked in his family’s wealth, spending his time designing English gardens in his rambling estates, and becoming erudite about topics botanical. He could tell you about soil structure, how to espalier roses, and (importantly) how to grow trees. He even published a book on tree propagation (“Sylva") at the invitation of the Royal Society. (He also generously funded hospitals for wounded sailors returning from battle.)

The Royal Society, England’s equivalent of L’Academie Française, represented the new cutting edge of Britain’s scientific contribution to the ‘Enlightenment’. If you had Science at your disposal, why not exploit it to get commercial advantage? But why would the Royal Society bother pursuing the young John Evelyn, a gentleman conservationist at heart, to publish information about tree propagation, of all things?

Easy answer. England’s oak forests had been reduced to almost zilch through massive use of timber for housing. No-one had bothered to re-plant the forests because there was no short-term profit to be made by doing so. Suddenly, the Royal Navy discovered it couldn’t get enough oak to build ships and it panicked – the Dutch, Portuguese and French were beating them to East Asia, busily building colonial empires. Solution? Get help to plant oak forests… fast.

In short, it’s safe to say that without John Evelyn’s assistance in re-planting the oak forests of England, there would not have been enough ships to defeat Napoleon at Waterloo, the crucial turning point for British sea-power and its subsequent pursuit of Empire.

Painting by T. Allom of an imaginary scene from the British Opium Wars,
in the Golden Triangle Opium Museum, Chiangsaen, Northern Thailand.

Take, for instance, the Opium Wars with China in the 1840s. ‘Great’ Britain was instrumental in creating the ‘Golden Triangle’ by militarily forcing Thailand, Burma and Laos to grow opium on an industrial scale at low cost (ie, Britain=drug producer). Then, using its new-found Naval supremacy, it took over Singapore and Hongkong as "drug forwarding depots" and forced China (against its government's expressed will) to buy opium at inflated prices (ie, Britain=drug pusher). Learn more about the three Opium Wars here.

But without the increase in the number of ships, all the gunpowder in the world would not have helped. As it happens, the combination of ships + gunpowder secured the basis of the world’s largest ever Arms Industry and Colonial Empire, all in the name of supposedly innocent Mother England.

Until now, that is.

Recently, smaller interlopers are emerging in the weapons-manufacturing game, and are getting savvy at skirting the existing ‘regulations’ about selling weapons by exporting the parts only, then assembling them in the countries-of-destination. In a manner similar to the diaspora of nuclear technology, conventional weapon technology is now in the hands of these smaller “Johnny-come-latelys”...and England finds that most inconvenient. And so does the American Gun-Lobby, incidentally.

England realises, however, that it can no longer suppress this 'bottom-up' competition. Therefore, backing the UN’s latest Arms Control proposal is, by default, the next best option. The way would then, theoretically at least, be open to future sanctions against those who would dare compete for its own grisly profits.

OK, let’s see Yahoo try to put me in prison over that. But you can only trust the evidence of your eyes, as in this pic...

PS: Marie is distantly related to John Evelyn the Diarist, but assures me she doesn't have a secret stash of gunpowder under the bed. I'm grateful for small mercies...

27 October, 2006

catholic church declares
“Open Season on children”

(I realise this isn't a Catholic sign - but it suits my purpose - and
who says other churches are spotless on the paedophilia issue?)

Yet again, the catholic church has effectively given the nod to sexual assualt against children. To shelter paedophile priests is nothing less than being an ‘Accessory to the Crime’.

The church’s shroud of sacred secrecy and protection of sexual proclivity among its frocked ones has now been normal practice for centuries. Apparently, it is officially more important to protect institutions than children.

The Vatican’s highly secret document Crimen Sollicitationis, updated recently by no less than Cardinal Ratzinger before he became pope, required clergy not only to be silent about paedophile priests, but also now to refer all complaints directly to Rome. This ‘Crimen’ document is so ‘top secret’ that various popes have decreed that it must be held in parish safes "under lock and key". However, FunkyPix2’s official Papal Inquisition Sniffer Squad (PISS) has obtained a copy of it translated from Latin – read it for yourself here.

Now that child-sex is officially OK, School teachers and youth leaders can legitimately join the candy-hunt for under-size sex victims – with Rome turning a tolerant blind eye. Tally-HO, Junior!

The person who signed off on this moral train-wreck is none other than POPE BENEDICT. Yes, the one elected after a puff of ambiguous grey smoke. He hasn’t softened his Holy Rottweiler tactics in decades, and he ain’t about to change anytime soon. He forgives a priest who screws children, then even offers him a new parish as good as his last one.

Celibacy is a disastrous artificial restriction to impose on any red-blooded human – an obvious and blunt denial of the existence of hormones… a complete ‘no-brainer’. Until several hundred years ago there was no problem about Celibacy in the priesthood - they neatly side-stepped it by taking mistresses. "Illegitimate" children were deemed not to matter because they couldn't inherit property - the church thereby automatically inherited it. Rome looked away from unholy dalliances – in fact, several popes had illegitimate children too. Read some amazing facts here, from the pen of a refreshingly frank cleric. Hey, the real world is never what you thought it was. Wait till you get to the bit about abortions in nunneries.

However, once even mistresses became a no-no, I suggest that the church’s deliberate solution to the intensified problem of Celibacy was to clandestinely condone child-sex as a convenient 'steam-valve' for horny priests. This has already been the norm for several centuries, hence is so well-entrenched. After all, children, unlike adults, are relatively easy to subdue both during and after the molestation. Children (and intellectually-challenged adults) are relatively inarticulate inexperienced people, as yet un-worldly and powerless, less able to retaliate. Low-hanging fruit. It’s not so different from the recent case of Australian soldiers torturing kittens to death in Townsville - a despicable betrayal by the very people in whom we should be able to feel most trust.

May legal prosecution of the Vatican proceed ASAP, in particular respect to the fugitive priests it is physically sheltering within its semen-stained walls. As the Vatican is a State unto itself with its own laws, it can shelter anyone, including confirmed paedophiles. The crime of condoning paedophilia should be sufficient to collapse the entire edifice of ever-compounding lies which now comprises the catholic church. Surely there are moral limits to diplomatic immunity. "Thou. Shalt. Not. Lie".

I add my name to the escalating hordes of complainants: I too have been a victim of sexual abuse (not by a priest, but nevertheless, I'm a victim whose life has been left in psychological tatters). If the legal paper trail leads right to the pretentious pinnacle of St Peter’s, then So. Be. It. Company CEOs get dismissed if they betray share-holders or conceal criminal actions by employees. Why should it be any different for popes? However, forget the usual Golden Handshake: God in Her wisdom can lock away a secret document of instructions at the Pearly Gates…perhaps titled Crimen Selloutationis?

Click to view a timeline of the development of Celibacy in the catholic church… and some shocking facts about the church’s hypocrisy.

Did you know?? ...that until 1916 the catholic church required that a woman who was facing her husband who was wearing a condom "must resist him as if he were a rapist".

Give up surfing, Bush.
Time to head for the beach, pal.

The photo shows surfer G. Bush confronting his future, both in the Middle East and at home. Game Over, George. But for the citizens of Iraq, one of the richest nations on Earth, it’s the beginning of a long expensive struggle to recover. You can bet the USA will wriggle out of paying the cost by continuing to claim that it doesn’t recognize the International Court of Justice. Everybody else on the planet does, ...George. George? .......Ge-orrrrge?

Yesterday, George told anybody who would listen that the USA is winning the war in Iraq. Yes, George.

The Washington Post reported that October’s death toll stood at a shocking 96. They forgot to point out that meant american deaths, and that about 2,600+ Iraqi citizens also died during that same month.

An american serviceperson patrols Baghdad's sufing beach.

Enough cartoons and jolly fun. Here at FunkyPix2, we're seriously aggressive on the issue of Peace... the Blogs of War are on the march.

Here’s a photo (one of many) that ought to help turn the tide of the American War: do you remember that famous photo of Vietnam’s young screaming napalm-burned girl?

An american Marine comforts a fatally-injured Iraqi child:

...and can you put yourself in this boy's position?
Probably not - he's got no feet.

Amen and Awomen. Over to you, voters of america. If you vote for Bush, it will confirm to the world that you approve of the fates of these kids.

~ Caveat Emptor ~

26 October, 2006

Like the pope, Sheik al Hilali shoots himself in the foot

It's the old "It's Eve's fault" myth yet again... when will it ever go away? The unfortunate sexist implications of Sheik al Hilali’s disdainful comments about women and meat are obvious enough, but there is a curious corollary to them. The flip-side is that if men simply cannot control themselves at the sight of an un-veiled woman – even to the point of excusing her rape - then surely that positions men at the same level as animals.

A dog, for instance, cannot control its responses when it senses a bitch on heat: it does not possess sufficient power of reason, the benefit of broad ethical education, nor sense of ‘society’ to consider the merits of more civil behaviour. I would be less than impressed if the good Sheik considered all men as the equivalent of dogs, but FP2 cannot logically draw any other conclusion from his words. And I note that the Sheik, too, is a man himself.

While talking of corollaries, why not solve the problem by forcing all men to wear an iron girdle to impede the offending poky bit. The female mufti could then decree specific times when the girdle could be removed - for married men only, of course.

Gosh, how silly of me J I do note that Sheik al Hilali has apologized, though – which is much more than the pope will ever muster. Neither will ever resign.
I wonder whether the Sheik might be able to resist this outfit in one of my earlier posts.
See also my post about the evils of men wearing
ties in public.
I readily acknowledge the inappropriateness of a cartoon depicting a Muslim with a pet dog, but it was just too neat to resist for the purposes of this post. I apologise but won't resign. Also, fair's fair... inappropriateness is a two-way street... but to assume a democratic environment and a level social playing-field merely reveals cultural bias and ignorance of history. Jesus, it's hard to be PC... oops, oh my god I blundered again. Thank christ there's an option for your comments right below here êêêêêê I need a coffee.

25 October, 2006

True-blue Aussie patriots might prefer not to peek through this keyhole...

Howard the Bully
( Nicholson, in
"The Australian").

Howard the
Colonial Master
( Dyson, in
"The Age")

WARNING: If you prefer to avoid reading uncomfortable news about Australia, read no further. Otherwise, Read on, McBotanyBay Boatpeople...

All the political noise coming from the Pacific about Julian Moti is only a Sprat to catch a Mackerel. Or perhaps a Red Herring.

First - a little background. Ongoing instability and poverty in the Pacific region is largely a by-product of the thoughtlessness of European Colonialism, and subsequent ham-fisted attempts after WW2 to fix the mess. It was a game called Let’s rape them economically then piss off and leave them to fix their own mess. The recent Moti spat is only the smoke from the fire of the latest round in the eternal repair process... superficial re-patching of old patches by government employees who no longer really care. Hey, it's all history, ain't it?

True. Welcome to History - you're standing in it.

As the saying goes, a Camel is a Horse designed by a committee. For instance, after WW2, both Timor and PNG were slashed into halves by a straight line drawn on government maps - regardless of minor details like mountains or rivers. Bougainville was allocated to PNG instead of to the Solomons, in defiance of geography, cultural links or Logic. Many Pacific islands are economically unviable because their traditional solutions and cultures have been swept away by Colonial invaders in the 19th century – and later. For instance, don’t imagine for a moment that post-1987 Fiji is now somehow stable and free from the threat of another coup.

These heal-resistant carbuncles are no different from those in other regions of the post-Colonial aftermath. They are largely the fault of we Europeans - and now that Colonialism has had its wicked way with its victims, we no longer care. Let them eat cake. This was evident yesterday in the dismissive attitude and arrogant smirk of Johnny Dubya Ducklips when he threatened sanctions by withdrawing Australian Aid from the Solomons. Money, of course, is the weapon-of-choice of agents of Globalisation (=code for “Colonialism, Round 2”). Howard is simply ‘joining the dots’ in George Bush’s "How-To" manual… eg., witness the financial suffocation of Palestine.

So - what DOES Australia really want in the Pacific? The first part of the answer is simple. It wants what all Colonialists have always wanted – quick profits via economic exploitation. Look no further than Australia grasping no less than 90% of the Timor Sea revenues from East Timor, the poorest country in the WORLD - and our suffering neighbour. (FunkyPix2 hereby apologises to the East Timorese people).

But in the Pacific region there’s another even more sinister agenda: it's the R-word so hated by "whiter-than-white" Philip Rude-ock: R-E-F-U-G-E-E-S.

It's happening. Sea-levels are rising even more quickly than expected and are already threatening to inundate some lower-lying Pacific nations. Yesterday, not at all co-incidentally, one Pacific politician pointed this fact out - as you too might well do if the sea were overflowing your doorstep. He said he hoped "larger nations" would notice and do the right thing (hint hint), a politely oblique reference to Australia’s shameful approach to the Kyoto Protocol.
(Bush and Howard remain the world’s only two rogue renegades from Kyoto... and don't be sucked in by Howard's "too-little-too-late" band-aid announcement of his pet Solar project. A massive $420 million solar power plant will provide just 154MW of electricity -- about one sixth the power generated by even a modest coal-fired plant.

Obviously, if one cares to listen between the lines of the sound-bites, Australia’s strategy is now to be deliberately "less-than-friendly", to put Pacific nations at arm’s length, not to be so ‘matey’ any more. And Howard is succeeding spectacularly. This policy 'sea-change' is being introduced at this point in order to pre-empt and deflect the looming requests from thousands of environmental refugees who will soon be knocking on Australia’s door. The islanders' requests will hardly be unreasonable in the dire circumstances, but I think we can all predict Howard's cold response. "Siev X2", but with a cast of thousands.

The media-hype currently whipped up over Julian Moti (Downer's convenient Sacrificial Lamb) is merely a circuitous Means to that less-than-savoury End, a dark, un-written xenophobic agenda. Everybody in the Pacific knows it, but most Australians can't see through the Julian Moti smokescreen.

Designer Demonisation is becoming typical of Australia’s racist and un-ashamed revival of the White Australia Policy. White Australia has already refused entry to Tuvaluans. At least there was once a veneer of multi-culturalism. Whatever happened to mateship? ...the fair go?
Fuzzy-wuzzy angels, where are you now?

The next line is not blank - it contains a Vital Secret Message. I invite you to use your Message-Sniffing Mouse to decipher it:

Here's the message ---> Howard SUCKS.

And to conclude... click on this short flash animated cartoon by Nicholson of the Australian’ newspaper. In it, Australia's Great Leader reveals his scientific arguments against the science of Global Warming. Next week, FP2 brings you his arguments in support of the Flat Earth Theory.

Links to a relevant article in climateark.org here,
and Scott Burchill in 'The Age', Oct 25, 2006 here.

23 October, 2006

It’s Iraq, stupid…

Bush + Blair = Blush. I blush at the mess we’ve created in Iraq. Big Lie #2 is getting frequent airplay now that the mid-term US elections are looming. It bleats repeatedly: “We must stay in Iraq otherwise it will collapse into chaos”.

Our Great Leaders (Dear Leaders) tell us that only Western values, enforced by the barrel of a gun, can save the hapless Muslim from his own worst enemy – himself.

On the 'stay/leave' issue, I can do no better than to urge you to read this article by Simon Jenkins, and to this video video by Sean Smith (both of the Guardian Unlimited). The former addresses Big Lie #2. The latter destroys the lingering media-myth that Iraquis are seriously preparing to take control of their own country. It brutally exposes the careless attitudes of both Coalition and Iraqi troops, and shows damning footage of their paralysing loss of morale.

...and a new angle on american tactics - cute metaphors:

...and to conclude:- the Australian angle on the 'cut-and-run' issue... (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Oct 2006)

19 October, 2006

GEORGE PELL & friends. Mad King George II, and in the other corner, Kim Jong II

(Sorry, just had to do up this pic - resistance was floortile :-) ...and if you'd like a scary-funny insight into some of Kim Sung II's eccentricities, read this article in The Gazette. Everyone already knows King George II's eccentricities... and they're all plain scary.

Meanwhile, here's George Pe II for the family album:

Gee whiz, he'd never get through Passport Control in Heathrow while wearing blatant religious symbols and strange headgear like THAT. Far too affronting... a definite "mark of separation", and therefore clearly SUBVERSIVE, wouldn't you say, Mr Straw? FunkyPix2 insists that George Pell be removed from his job immediately.

{ begin scary music } ...preferably a threateningly extended sub-bass note...

FP2's investigations reveal that George Pell is undoubtably a senior catholic operative, implicated in the indoctrination of young recruits in religious schools around Sydney.

{ end scary music }

His catholic church claims to be a 'Champion of the Poor'. I'd remind Sgt Pell that some of their poverty might indeed be attributable to his beloved policy on birth control. The catholic church has, in fact, been openly and unrepentantly infiltrating and colonising many poor countries in Asia, Africa and South America. These are very places where, co-incidentally, birth rates are exploding out of control.

No - what matters more is not the problems of people in distant countries, but rather the prospects of a better job (and an even funnier hat) for George himself. Sgt Pell daydreams of one day being promoted to the rank of... POPE. Then he'll be in a stronger position to introduce his Flat Earth Doctrine AND convince Bush that it's finally time to re-conquer Constantinople.

(Hell help us if the Pell becomes Pope).

Meanwhile, he just has to go on being party to that Conga-line of Corporate Suck-holes by parroting what he hears said by other extremist right-wing factions - like the British, American and Australian governments.

(Dear oh dear - my Netiquette isn't up to my usual stellar standard today :-)

17 October, 2006

Flood update #2: Bangkok is beginning to evolve back to its former self

Bangkok is again becoming the "Venice of the East". Not willingly, mind you... canoes don't have air-con or automatic windows. But, on the other hand, they don't need air-bags.

However, for many of the khlong-dwellers, life goes on as usual. It's just that the water-levels have risen a little higher than usual. Perhaps they were right in the first place.

Politicians get in on the act to show they are doing something about the flood problem. Here, various party leaders accompany the new Prime Minister Surayad (second from left) on a staight and narrow stroll in front of a convenient clutch of media cameras. They are proving not only that they are "out there doing battle", but also that they are entirely accustomed to balancing along traditional narrow walkways like this. In other words, "We're genuine Thais with the common touch, just like all of you voters".
FP2's ever-alert Scrutineer Squad has spotted the scam, though... notice the person walking along dry ground on the right. SPRUNG.

Each one is desperate not to be the first to overbalance. Now that would be regarded as a very bad omen indeed, literally flagging the end of that person's career. You might think I'm exaggerating. Wrong.

Thailand's traditions adapt as times change

Inset: Marie walks past a traditional watering hutch.

It is common along roads in Thailand to see small hutches with lidded terracotta water-pots (see inset). These were/are for weary travellers to drink: offering a drink is the hospitable and traditional thing to do. Terracotta, being porous, allows evaporation - and thus keeps the water cool.

This one outside a Chiangmai department store near us flaunts an updated water-cooler instead, but still retains the traditional hutch as a sign of intent that people will recognise. Our apartment block has a traditional hutch just outside its foyer, complete with plastic ladle hanging from a hook.

16 October, 2006

Thailand’s motor-scooter culture

Two Thai kids play on a scooter in Chiangmai, Thailand.
Young Thai children often spend their days on or around the family vehicle while mum or dad work on the roti stall – these days more often a motor-scooter than a car. A car is beyond the budget of many Thais, so an entire family might use a scooter. It’s not uncommon to see an entire family of 3 or 4 helmet-less people on one, sometimes more if there are small children and a dog. The little tyres bulge, the little motor strains...

This utilitarian attitude to things is common. Load up your elephant, ute or bicycle to the absolute hilt – if it breaks down irreparably, well, tough – just get another one. All things decay – that’s the way of Impermanence and Karma... and who are we to dare challenge an eternal law like that?

Those principles seem to apply to internet bandwidth too. If a server supplies bandwidth sufficient for 1000 users, it is not uncommon to cram 3000 users into it, in order to maximise profit. Then they’ll plead ignorance [=innocence] if folks complain about the Net being slow in Thailand... and offer the ubiquitous Thai smile.

15 October, 2006

Citizens stick it to the Howard government over the Siev X memorial

Hopefully, the Siev X could help to sink Howard yet.

NEWS ITEM: Tomorrow afternoon in Canberra, hundreds of people are expected to turn out on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin for an exhibition to mark the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X, during which 353 asylum seekers drowned. The ceremony will go ahead despite the fact that the organisers don't have official permission to hold it. Organisers claim their original plans for a memorial were thwarted at the last minute.

FP2's COMMENT: Yes, the plans were thwarted because orders came from the highest levels in Canberra to enforce an obscure Australian law which prohibits a permanent memorial to anything until ten years after the event.

However, FunkyPix2 has noticed that this conveniently exhumed law hasn’t prevented Johnny Dubya Ducklips from endorsing a vote-winning memorial to Steve Irwin, or to the victims of the Bali bombing. QED. Selective suppression of free speech of this magnitude doesn't even happen in post-coup Thailand with its allegedly 'undemocratic military dictatorship'.

...which, incidentally, isn't the case - see FP2's article from September 21, "Dubya Ducklips condemns Thai Coup"; click on September 2006 in Archives >>

C'mon Aussie, c'mon.... flame up your torches and DO something about your own untidy backyard!

Howard relies on people's apathy. However, that means YOU can ultimately be held partly responsible for the drowning of the 353 people on board the Siev X because YOU voted Dubya Ducklips back into power. But YOU can fix that... YOU can vote against him next time.

... but I would avoid voting for any clone of the 'Liberal' Party - like Labor. Get yourselves a real Opposition for a change... take courage. History is the sum of individual actions. For instance, the people of Latin-America are not tolerating crap from politicians any more.

Why not enrol in Amanda Vampire's TAFE subject "Border Protection 101"? As a preview of the course content, view this short flash animated cartoon by Nicholson of ‘The Australian’.

13 October, 2006

Rumsfelt test-drives his new weapon. "SURELY we can do better than a mere 650,000".

Donald Rumsfelt, pictured putting his new Bunker-Buster through its paces.

Ladies and Jellybeans, the Wide House is proud to introduce its latest mobile bunker-buster, featuring unique carpet-bombing technology PLUS the capacity to extinguish rogue Bush-fires.

It's the nucular-powered "Rumsfelt U-P2" multi-purpose model, brought to you by your friendly Lockheed-Martin Munitions Corporation, with help from your local Olmert Compassion Foundation.

Rums bin Felt was inspired to design the U-P2 after He heard that 650,000 Iraqi citizens had died in His war.
His shocked reaction:
"Only 650,000 dead? Jesus Christ, you mean we missed some?"

The zappy new Rumsfelt U-P2 is also available commercially from FunkyPix2 for a mere $650. Add $50 extra for the personally signed model (on the seat). Available only in various shades of dark brown (sorry, cannot guarantee colour consistency).

SCOOP !! Counter-Coup alert !!
Thaksin's BACK !!

Thaksin disguises himself to look like a normal tourist to sneak back into Thailand.
Standing next to an imitation foam tank, he waited for the TV cameras to arrive, then suddenly disrobed, revealing tights and a funny cape, and unleashing fistfuls of hot cash among innocent bystanders. (Perfectly normal behaviour for Thaksin).

First pictures!! Thaksin Shinawatra disguised himself as a western tourist and succeeded in getting through Bangkok's Customs and Immigration (although we do suspect a little gift changed hands behind the bomb-scanning machine.......)

You may have twigged that this is (mostly) bullsh*t. Seriously now, Thaksin may well be returning to Thailand at some stage. What a stage entry that will be. Legal processes are gearing up to seize his assets and hopefully extradite him from England, once the new government establishes that he broke Thai law. That ain't gunna be hard to prove... and not only that he avoided tax on the ShinCorp sale to Singapore - there's more:

The Financial Times (of London, where our man is holed up) reported:

"During Mr Thaksin's tenure in office, ShinCorp has benefitted from various favourable government decisions. These include: the reduction of the crushing licence fee burden of iTV, the group's TV channel; Board of Investment tax breaks for Shin Sattelite's IPStar project; and delays in creating a National Telecom Commission which was supposed to create a level playing field in the skewed mobile industry. ShinCorp has also diversified into new ventures, including aviation with Thai AirAsia... The venture was swiftly granted a range of government breaks, including a 50% discount on docking fees by the Airports Authority, and income tax breaks......" ...and so on...

Singapore's privately-owned Temasek Corp, which trustingly (=naively) bought ShinCorp from Thaksin, is suddenly panicking and considering reducing its ownership from 96% down to 49% to meekly comply with Thai law (pity that Temasek's lawyers couldn't have investigated the legal side of things properly before the deal was signed...... or did Thaksin quietly pay them out months ago while on one of his government-funded "family shopping trips" to Orchard Rd?).

Now suddenly the Singapore government is stepping in to the negotiations (!?). Me wonder why... It might have something to do with the fact that the shares were bought at 49 baht each, and now they're trading at only 25. That could amount to much more than a mere blip on Singapore's STI Stock Exchange. With that magnitude of loss at stake, Thaksin had better guard his ill-gotten profits from lawsuits... if the Thai government's newly-restored Anti-Corruption Commission doesn't get the first bite, that is.

Read more details in Thailand's 'The Nation' newspaper here.

Pssst! ...would YOU like to get YOUR share of Thaksin's dosh too? If so, simply send $20 (CASH) to the management of FunkyPix2 and we'll include your name in a class action. No need to explain your grounds - we'll make it all up for you. That's what lawyers are for.

STOP PRESS: Just as FP2 predicted, Thaksin has just made a phone call to the new PM, indicating that he'd like to return. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation...

Pope joins the Republican neo-cons, just in time to save the mid-term elections

“Thank Christ pope Benedict’s joined the Republican Propaganda Machine".

George Dubya Bush must be inwardly grinning at his extraordinary luck. The Global Village Idiot couldn’t have wished for a more powerful ally with mates in high places to assist him to lose his War even faster. Now Bush and his Matrix-of-Evil has big-time ideological cred in the one-man War on Terrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

As a reward, the White House might let the wanna-be-populist pope appear on American Idle on the episode when Gen. Pinochet gets to be adjudicator. The pope’s compliance doesn’t come cheap, though - the Vatican’s professional fee was reputedly more than the GDP of the British Virgin Islands and Tonga put together.

BREAKING NEWS !! FP2 has just obtained reliable insider blab that the previous pope did not die of natural causes. A top secret and previously unknown Vatican Euthanasia committee was privately advised of the diagnosis of “coma” and “several years in a vegetative state”. Once they heard those dreaded words, the pope was quietly bumped off to avoid getting the church into yet another un-winnable faith/reason debate. He'd previously pleaded with them to do it, but of course they wouldn't: their private compassions were suppressed entirely by doctrinal herd-mentality. Can’t afford to let inconvenient facts get in the way of a Good Story and a Happy Christian Ending.

PS: FP2 knows all the salacious details, but we’ve had an offer from ‘No Idea’ magazine which we simply can’t refuse.

12 October, 2006

The LATIN MASS is back. Somebody goofed. Amen.

Specimen of a has-bean pope.

Someone should let these protesters know that the previous pope officially abolished Christian Hell. Apparently Hell never existed. There – another lie exposed. With any luck, though, Islamic Hell is still functioning and available to all deserving christians. They could re-name it "Abu Grahaib2", perhaps.

So! The pope Benedict XVI is going to resurrect the Latin Tridentine Mass, eh? Quod Est Demonstratum et Caveat Emptor kuhn yàak durm arai dii mái (fooled you, huh – the last bit’s in Thai).

Hmm, all this conservative-regressive winding-back-the-clock is consistent with the pope’s recent deliberate efforts to re-start the Crusades. All he needs to do now is to endorse Jack Straw’s racist anti-veil comments, and the Vatican might get a free fireworks display - perhaps like the recent US ammunition dump in Baghdad.

FunkyPix2 wonders if Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (who was excommunicated for using Latin after it was banned) will ever be “re-communicated”. I doubt it – too much loss of face – even though in 1570, Pope St Pius V ruled that priests could use the Tridentine rite forever, “without scruple of conscience or fear of penalty” [God’s italics].

So... who was it who bungled?????

.....(a) God?
pope Pius? or...
.....(c) pope Benedict?

Send your answer to FunkyPix2. The first correct answer drawn out of the cardinal's funny hat will win an exciting Latin-Thai dictionary, compliments of the Vatican souvenir kiosk.