Hot times: A weather forecast

Forecast: Cloudy times, with a good chance of precipitate moral outrage.

demagogue

chimp angryHere in Bangkok, and just about wherever else in this world you look, the moral warriors are out and about on all sides making angry chimp faces at each other. So what’s new, eh?

In the course of a recent archaeological investigation of my hard drive, I came across the following screed, composed sometime in the mid-1990s, judging by associated potshards of popular culture and carbon 14 dating of … Read more

Hypotheses and certainties

Hypothesis: Education should aim at producing critical thinkers, citizens who can choose intelligently between competing claims regarding our proper ends and means as individuals and communities.

Really critical thinkers are in relatively short supply in any country. In Thailand, some would argue, there’s an actual cultural bias against critical thought. Questioning the way things are can easily become confrontational, and thus bad form. Impolite.  Such a taboo might explain why even today a lot of teachers react badly to … Read more

Some dimensions are darker than others

There are rogues, and there are rogues. There follow reports of close encounters with two very different species of actor in the current Thai political maelstrom:

Hobnobbing with the Ronin.

Squeakish-clean candidate for office.

Useful additions to the many perspectives on the troubles?  Colorful, anyway.

Cry havoc

Photos by the lovely Ms. Plug

Bangkok remains relatively calm. Misleadingly so, perhaps. Forget about lavish tides of good sense in the coming days, if not years—not that we had to wade through much of it in the past, here or anywhere, come to that. Dourness rools, OK!

The beast of unreason has been let slip, and it’s time for civil folk to look askance at strangers in the street, to avoid the shadows and to watch their asses. But Read more

Mourning after

It’s a glorious morning in Bangkok, one so far unmarred by columns of smoke or rattle of gunfire. The Bangkok Post has run A NATION MOURNS as its front-page headline. I’d be interested to know what it is people believe we should be mourning, at this point.

One candidate: the fact that—Thai or otherwise—we’re human, all too bloody human. It’s really sad to see how reliably, everywhere and throughout history, demogogues are able to lead crowds of nice people into … Read more

Starving writers & gouty moguls

New penance for starving writers: black-pepper oatmeal cookies (from Scotland, culinary capital of the universe). I have them with sencha tea.

My companion du jour says they aren’t sweet, aren’t delicious and are way too expensive (only available at Villa, in Bangkok). Neither has she any use for hair shirts or unheated garrets.

Actually, in Bangkok all garrets are unheated, at least by human design. Same goes for the penthouses, for that matter. What do starving writers and gouty moguls … Read more

Dei ex machina and laid-back hi-so hysteria

It’s been hard to focus on work, what with the pace of events, the phone calls and the temptation to check the Twitter and e-mail universe every minute or so for breaking news.

Yesterday I also kept finding myself drawn to the roof of our apartment building for a panoramic view of events. (These photos were taken by the lovely Ms. Plug, a downstairs neighbor and freelance photographer who joined me.) What with the spotter plane soaring around the Baiyoke … Read more

Cross-cultural onomatopoeia

My friend and fellow scrivener Steve Van Beek lives in the area currently cordoned off by the security forces—right there in the middle of both the political heat and Bangkok’s worst heat wave in years. He’s waiting to see whether a repairman can get through to fix his ailing air-conditioner.

In passing, Steve also tells me the expression “to be on the fritz” dates from the very outset of the 20th century, and probably derives from the sound of … Read more

Hey, but we’re living in a Golden Age

Here’s something from a collection I call “Leary’s Laws.”

“Things are always going to get worse, and we just have to take what friggin’ solace we can from that. What it means, we’re always living in a golden age, at least looking back from any time in the future.”

(Leary, in Yawn: A Thriller, by Collin Piprell)

So go ahead and take what solace you can from that. You might also want to stock up on canned … Read more

Apocalyptic cosmophobia

Jack, here. Looking back at the earlier exchange (22 April 2010) between Collin, S. Tsow and “Osho”—and then looking at Collin’s notion (today) that the iPad will end human existence as we’ve known it—I reckon the following is apropos.

Apocalyptic cosmophobia.

Just roll that one around on your tongue. A genuine cocktail party conversation stopper. DAVE BERRY HAS PROBABLY ALREADY USED IT TO NAME A NEW ROCK BAND.

Apocalyptic cosmophobia may first have been used to refer to popular readings … Read more