17 November, 2009

Thailand is jealous of Burma's nuclear power:
Let them eat Yellowcake

Disposing of nuclear waste? No problem, the monk-on-duty
with the 'glow-in-the-dark' orange jump-suit will take care of it.

A nuclear-powered Thailand? Yep, it's back in the news. But it's sure to be safe if the Reactor is built next to a Buddhist Temple or, even better still, near a 'good luck' Amulet factory.

I expect bamboo scaffolding during the building process. And a fleet of barefoot cops on scooters as a Tsunami-like warning system in the event of a nuclear accident.

I do really love Thailand - honest - but hardly because of Thais' rigorous attention to workplace standards. Thai expertise in matters electrical, for instance, is at best dubious. Most "electricians" have zero idea of how to ground [earth] a circuit, a safety standard universally assumed in the west. I think that before attempting to build a nuclear power station, Thailand might first consider working out how to build a half-decent footpath.

Good cop, bad cop, sharing a scooter. The officer driving should fine his passenger
200 baht for not wearing a helmet. Also note the excuse for a 'footpath' (outside a Wat).

Then there's the issue of corruption and kickbacks. Sub-standard concrete, thin or missing reinforcement [etc] is the norm here as the brother-in-law's suppliers pocket their tea-money. To save cost and make up for having to pay bribes, walls made of bricks only 2" wide are frequently built without any internal reinforcement [see pic at left]. This is the happy-go-lucky land of mai-bpen-rai, and even though foreign nuclear contractors themselves may be rigorous in their own internal quality control, would they be able deal with the deep rooted systemic graft and concealment that exists here at all levels? Even renovating our apartment revealed to us the cut-throat commissions demanded for contracts ...and all with the blessing of the condo management. Outcome? It was us who ended up paying - grrrr - up to 20% extra on occasion... to people who did none of the work!

Getting nuclear power is also about keeping up with the Jonses. Thailand doesn't want to be caught in a position where it might be seen to lose face in the event that its arch rival Burma announces its own Nuclear Reactor. Am I kidding? No, unfortunately. Burma has been promised a smallish reactor by Russia, and has also reputedly had contact with North Korean technologists. Burma has been told by ASEAN that it would be kicked out if it got nuclear power, but the Burmese generals, generously bankrolled as they are by China, really couldn't give a toss. In fact, it would conveniently reduce pressure on them to tow the line with all that pesky Democracy stuff. And with fugitive Thaksin now an employee of Cambodia, I'm expecting a competitive tender from Phnom Penh at any minute.

There is a protest movement against the nuclear push here, but it is routinely belittled by the Puuyai ('big guys'] who control the media. The immediate assumption is that these silly protesters are getting in the way of Thailand's progress. My immediate comment - moving forwards is not necessarily a good idea when you're standing on the edge of a cliff. But what intrigues me is the relative low media profile of the nuclear issue in the eyes of the Thai public. Truth is that few Thais read newspapers, and many are painfully slow at reading at all. Reading isn't big in Thailand - except maybe comics. And Thai radio tends to be populist and lightweight, especially up here in the rural north. For many folks, it is more important to score the next 20 baht for a meal than waste time on remote issues involving rich people:

But to put things in perspective, here's an interesting time-line which aligns the recurring nuclear issue with the history of coups in Thai politics:

Gotta love the tsunami image.

NEWSFLUSH !!  in Breaking Wind from the Nation Newspaper:
Dramatic Thai nuclear update (Dec 24 2009).

And, of course, the expected rush on Nuclear Merchandise starts TODAY!! All available from FunkyPix2. All environmentally fairly safe and posted discreetly to you gift-wrapped in a comforting shade of green:

08 November, 2009

Obama vs Osama: the final round

 A new rising CEO on Wall Street forecasts Green Shoots:
"Just call me Al. Hey buddy, would you like a bit of - you know - poppy?
It might help you to remember all those innocent Afghani citizens."

Obama claimed that the war in Afghanistan was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" Al Quaeda. Well, that's been achieved already - they're not there anymore. So why not simply declare victory and bring the troops home?

Reducing the war effort might afford the opportunity to adapt infrastructure
towards more profitable ventures - so Americans can get decent health care.
Hmm... imagine this golf-hotel parked off Tokyo...BIG $$

Repeat: Al Quaeda isn't in Afghanistan any more - they've moved to Pakistan. So yet again the U Ass of A is fighting its war in the wrong country:

Time is running out and the war is spiralling out of control for Bush's ill-judged occupation of Afghanistan. Why do leaders in the West take so LONG to admit that there's an elephant in the room? Surely Obama and Brown recognize the reasons for the long history of military failures in Afghanistan.

There's a middle-eastern proverb: "It's me and my brother against my cousin... but it's me and my cousin against a foreigner". If Obama sends another 40,000 troops it will merely serve to further unite all Afghans against the West. Then when the West finally retreats due to sheer attrition and exhausted military budgets, a new generation of Afghan warlords will resume their traditional feuding. Attempting to fight that is like trying to herd cats: power structures have always been like that in Afghanistan. Afghans will never swallow democracy as we want to imagine it. Imposing one's own cultural practices and ideas onto someone else's country is known as Colonisation.
Mr Obama, please do the moral thing... and very soon.

Historians will write that the decision by Obama whether or not to send the extra 40,000 troops represented a pivotal point in the history of the American Empire, both financially and psychologically. For a start, the more ducks you parade in a shooting gallery, the more hits there are likely to be. Besides, sending any troops would sure make a mockery of his shiny new Nobel Peace Prize.

This isn't a war about military superiority, it's a war about attrition, and as predicted, that is already proving to be America's Achilles Heel. War doesn't determine who is right; war determines who is left. Bin Laden would be absolutely delighted if Obama sent more ducks-in-uniform and wasted even more of America's dwindling war chest in the process. Indeed, Afghanistan is becoming a highly successful decoy, distracting attention from the main event - Pakistan's vulnerable nuclear fuel.

As a world citizen, it would be less than responsible to unilaterally support either Obama OR Osama. As my blog is published on the Internet, a medium which is still largely Euro-centric, I'd like to redress the inevitable cultural imbalance a little by doing a brief flashback to an article I wrote back during the 2007 Australian election. It attempts to observe  the West through a less western prism by historically comparing Osama bin Laden with Jesus (this link will open in a new window for your convenience).

Here are some more photos which should be self-explanatory:

America's Secret New Weapon in Afghanistan
Concept by Alan Kayder Defence Corporation. Production by Haliburton (China)

I listened to some American financial news on CNN today.
Objectively, this is how I heard it:

"...and heerr is the nooze owda Wahl Street. Frahm Oss-trell-ya to Iddly eern Japeern, stahk mahrr-kets arre in a staid of shark eerfta the gumment released the laydess Consooma Cahnfidence fig-you-rz showing a toadally ah-sum thirdy-fahve perr sayant drahp in a single twenny-fourr hourr perriod. A Wide House spokesperrson cahmended thayat the cars was doo to a brudle prahpageernda baddle being fart on the Innernet bah cerdain eerndi-Cabidalist eerndi-Amerrkin Errubic parrdeez in Eye-rack, Pekisteern eernd Eerfghanisteern. Nahd even doo-ring the Bush Error wz therre everr search a meersive single fahl, despite that sayad tahm when Prsdnt Bush eercidentally ahdud Naydo to balm Noo Yark siddy. Sharp-keepers from Et-lenna to Bwahston ahl say thayat sales have plummedded: "Oh my guard, it's ebsolutely sharking... Folks ain't harrdly bart nuthin' today - it's a hawrrible prahblem frurse, eern ahm real whirried", cahmplained a worrkerr in a Florrrda drerg-storre. "Obeerma godda chayanj Amerrkin for-rn pahlsee, eernd also repayerr the Feral Social Securiddy lahs so we cayan ahl hayav serm prahsperridy ayat layast. Whaa, even impahverished Asian coundries like Thai-layan arre ahbviously bedder ahf thayan erse. We jess cain't kerry ahn!"