27 December, 2009

Caffeine Annonymous? No way, I'm NOT addicted to coffee, DEFINITELY NOT, and I'm certainly NOT in denial... OK?

Me in the morning before coffee.

Am I ambivalent about coffee? Well, yes and no. When I first read about the evils of coffee, I immediately gave up reading. Reality is only a crutch for people who can't handle coffee. Yep, for years I've had way too much blood in my caffeine circulation system.

High quality coffee is rare here in Chiangmai.

I attempted to persuade my doctor of the merits of my creed "Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway". There is rock-solid factual evidence for this, but he just didn't even want to listen, the redneck. Gee wiz, what's worse, Ignorance or Apathy? I don't know... and I don't care.

But because I'm cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, I pretended to take notice of his (clearly erroneous) "Red Alert" diagnosis next to the word "Caffeine" in my recent blood test. So I rashly promised to look up the local chapter of Caffeine Anon. Behind my back I tried to cross my fingers. They were jittering a bit too much, but I don't feel guilty at all about not going. I d-d-don't n-n-n-need to. OK OK, I may be a teensy bit schizophrenic... but at least I have each other. Allow me to introduce myselves. And I'm determined to follow my dreams - mm, except maybe the one where I'm naked in church...

...but hey, on the other hand, "university tests" have conclusively PROVED that double-shots of coffee are good for you when taken 3 times per day.
You can check it out for yourself using this elementary formula:

Internet cafe

Inoculatte /v/ To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

The "Novelty Coffee Drinking Event". I suggested many such new Sports Events to the Chinese government (photo gallery here) a whole week before the Beijing Olympics, but I never even heard a peep from them, the party-poopers.

They're just jealous because the voices are talking only to me. No, I haven't lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere.

Street Art coffee

Your conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
(my Rice Krispies packet said so)

23 December, 2009

2066 And All That:
Dear Copenhagen, there is no Planet B.

I'm cross at the folks who brought you Copenhagen. It's never a good thing to get FunkyPix2 cross. World leaders like Brown, Obama and Rudd risk their necks if I get cross. FunkyPix2 got very cross at Australia's John Ducklips Howard... and just look what happened to him.
Iran's Ahmedinejad has a genuine point, unfortunately, when he suggests that the major polluters such as Australia*, Canada, the UK and the USA (what I call the Un-Developing countries) need to seriously reconsider the assumed merits of Capitalism/Democracy. It's obvious enough that "Pro-profit = Anti-Climate": watch Obama lying about the great success of Copenhagen.
*Australia has the highest carbon emissions per head in the entire world... Shame Straya Shame.
But it's also obvious that no country which is constrained by a 3- or 4-year election horizon can effectively plan for the Longer Run. China, with its Socialist one-party system, is actually achieving far more than the West in terms of Green reforms, forest-planting, economic safety-nets etc. Admittedly, it's sometimes at a cost to sections of its citizens, but certainly far more benevolent than the military junta in Burma.
By contrast, Western Capitalism (formerly known as Colonialism) is designed to maximize profit and to concentrate it in the hands of a hugely wealthy elite - and to hell with the rest. Therefore the Global Common Good is almost inevitably a casualty, as the 2009 financial train-wreck amply demonstrates.
The Elephants in the Room, therefore, are the very institutions we're all expected to take for granted as immutable, beyond question, sacrosanct... they are
Capitalism & Democracy
If we refuse to question them or consider changes, we in the West are as guilty of Fundamentalism as the very people we so often accuse. If we unilaterally deny that our system is imperfect, we are complicit in its failures and must accept the consequences. By saying that, I will of course be smeared as a ranting member of some knot of sandalled left-wing zealots - but no, I'm just another local lad who is bold enough to point out that the emperor is, in fact, at least partly naked.
The most dire consequence of all is Rapid Climate Change.

In the following Short and Pugnaciously Cynical Photo Essay designed to assist World Citizens to cope with the coming Underwater Age (the real Age of Aquarius?), I pose more Questions than Answers:

I begin with the necessary Rapid Darwinian Adaptions which will clearly be necessary for future life underwater: Gill & Fin Surgery may soon bump facelifts as the number one elective procedure:
A Hollywood heart-throb of the future?
...or just a failed Prototype?

So, more realistically speaking, perhaps this
merman tailfin will be recorded by Historians as the
equivalent of the Wright Brothers' biplane flight:

When streets go under water - as parts of Bangkok already have -
you may have to adapt to overhead walkways to get around:

a dead thing...

Welcome to New Paris, in the year 2066...
...and Manhattan

...and here's a quicker solution for Climate Change Deniers such as Australia's stand-up comedian Opposition leader Mr Rabbit (member of Gravity Deniers and Flat Earth Society):

FUKITOL ...thoughtfully brought to you by

PS: Even the very name of Mr Rabbit's party - the "Liberal" Party (HO-HO) is a bare-faced lie. It ain't liberal, it's ultra conservative. It's Australia's equivalent of the Republican Right-wing Pro-lifers.
Do you want a really honest no-holds-barred summary of why Copenhagen was always destined to bellyflop? Click here.
A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
Hold that thought.

NEWSFLUSH !! ...and in Breaking Wind, here's an interesting interview with a Copenhagen insider who reveals who was really in control of negotiations. I've copied an extract:
EMMA ALBERICI: There certainly was an impression by the end of it that the West, led by the European Union and the US, was bullying the poor and developing world into submission, into signing up for some kind of binding emission cuts.
MARK LYNAS: Yeah well I think that's rubbish. I mean that's certainly not what I saw. If anything it was the West being bullied by the developing countries. Only the big ones, of course, because the smaller countries don't really have much of a voice.
EMMA ALBERICI: Who was it from China involved in this obfuscation? Was it the Premier, Wen Jiabao?
MARK LYNAS: No it wasn't Wen Jiabao and that's also significant that the Chinese forced Obama to sit opposite a sort of mid-level official in the Foreign Ministry. I don't know what the man's name was but he was obviously a very experience negotiator and he played a very inscrutable poker face approach really.
And he had to keep on leaving the room to make phone calls to his superiors as he put it because he was only a civil servant, leaving President Obama and all of the other leaders and Kevin Rudd included sitting there tapping their fingers waiting for him to come back with some news.
I think it was meant to cause offence and probably some offence was taken.
TONY EASTLEY: Mark Lynas, environmental adviser to the Maldives at the talks in Copenhagen, speaking there with Emma Alberici. 

21 December, 2009

Signing off for the Roaring Noughties - FunkyPix2's holiday season update

 Three Wise Pandas gazing at the shining Sa-tar in the Western sky.

Melly Cal-lit-mat !! to everyone from the Chiangmai Chapter of the Panda Chamber of Commerce. This is our holiday season greeting plus diary update so you can share a few moments from our 2009 year.

Activities from some of the early months of 2009 are summarised here (links all open conveniently in a new window).

In 2008 I posted that oh-so-cynical "Happy Kwanzaa" blog which de-bunked xmas - see it here - but this year we're all red-nosed and festive, choc-full of ho-ho's, and led by a cheer-squad of Shopaholic Pandas. Let us show you just how Christmassy the shops are here in (Buddhist) Thailand:

Pandas rock. The trendiest snowpersons are recognising
that black-and-white is the new red-and-green:

 ...and Thai people simply adore any new opportunity for tinsel or coloured lights...


The "other" father xmas (conveniently also sporting a red hat) muscles in on the Retail thing, but his hands-clasped 'wai' greeting is (unfortunately) not quite high enough according to Thai protocols, ie it doesn't demonstrate enough respect for the customer:

Thai Xmas gift baskets [see below] are pre-wrapped in the same tradition as Buddhist monk Donation Baskets. Each one has a unique [= random] selection of goodies ranging from cordial and fish sauce to biscuits and dried fruit. It represents an excellent way to sell up big on old stock which is approaching its use-by date. Smart Thai Retail Pandas cunningly pack it all in clear cellophane which inhibits date-checking. They've noticed that foreigners seem to buy more stuff at this time of year if it's coloured red and accompanied by out-of-tune children's choirs mangling 'Frosty the Snowman'. Anything to get a sale:

And now to some other 'non-xmas' moments... the King's birthday celebrations were taken seriously all over the country. Pink was the colour which the King's astrologer foretold would best assist his recovery from illness. Pink t-shirts therefore predominated at this candle-vigil outside the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok:

At the other end of Bangkok, life goes on as usual:

Outside the new Arts Centre opposite Tokyu Department Store and National Stadium Skytrain Station near Siam Square. What is mean?

Under the Skytrain, young [male] rap-dancers entertain pedestrians nightly with demonstrations of the art of Extreme Yoga, racking up unusually high laundry bills:

 A Thai take on "political correctness":

(Click to embiggen. Afterwards, click the BACK button)

...and there is sometimes a conscious attempt to be Green, but here
the supports for the letters were all made of wood.

Road Safety campaign, Thai-style.
The number 9 is regarded as lucky:

Puppies being trolleyed to their destiny at Bangkok's giant Weekend Jatujak Market.

As an ex-marketeer myself, I felt moved to capture the image of this old lady selling her basket of second-hand clothes. She'd carried and erected the umbrella, arranged her basket, then placed the yellow floral posy before kneeling and praying earnestly to it:

These five illuminated rooms on the 14th floor of Nakornping constitute our apartment. From R to L they are 1. lounge/corner balcony, 2. kitchen, 3. bedroom, 4. Peter's study/TV room, and 5. Marie's writing hideout/guest-room. No, we don't suffer from Affluenza - together, these rooms add up to no more than the area of a modest 2br house in Austraya:

Buddhist Wats (temples) often place guards at the gates.
(For size reference, check out the person standing near the door).

For connoisseurs of Chinglish (or Thainglish), Thailand is a riot.
This notice was in our lift:
Another notice recently read:

To All Resident.
After 13pm on 17th December 2009, if which room still can't watching
TV program, Contact office for report and tuning please

The exterior of an Arabian restaurant at Sukhomvit, Bangkok.
More chrome than you can wave a Shisha Pipe at:

Here's the best foodstall in Bangkok, in Soi Kasemsan 1 opposite White Lodge Guest House ("Why Losh Guess How"). I bet you won't pay more than 40 baht ($1.50) for the best Thai food on the planet:

...but for you Doubting Thomases, here's Westernized food offered in a glitzy upmarket supermarket cafe. Enjoy your thin sliver of bland "Silverfish" at a hefty price:

(PS: in Thailand,  "Father's Day" = the King's Birthday)

 ...and while we're discussing food, here are some recently-spotted additions to my collection of Asian menu bloopers:
..... * Pankled Coffee
..... * Soup with any kind of balls
..... * Shrimp paste with Saustes Egg
..... * Fried rice topped of shrimp paste sauce with Scomber
..... * Deep Fried Stuff with Red Bean
..... and at a Bangladeshi cafe: Hommose with Fool

Spotted in Siam Square: KIM the Nice Man's Shop

Air hostess announcement: "I hope you will be enjoyed on our fright to Chiangmai"

See you in 2010. Peter and Marie.