Alien Thoughts

19 Aug 2019
‘Where learned you that oath, fool?’ (William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 1 Scene 2)  
5 Aug 2019
Dear Mr Natthaporn Sir, No one can misunderestimate the tremendous service you have rendered to the nation by exposing the link between the Future Forward Party and the insidious subversive international secret society known as the Illuminati and by petitioning the Constitutional Court to have the party dissolved on these grounds.  
20 Jul 2019
The recent unexpected death of former Prime Minister Gen Prem Tinsulanonda – What?  Yes I know he was 98 but I would have put folding money on him reaching his century, wouldn’t you?  As I was saying, the death of Gen Prem has had us reviewing the 1980s when he presided over a series of fractious coalitions in a system of semi-democracy or semi-dictatorship, take your pick.
16 Apr 2019
We’re going to have to find something else. You mean sedition won’t be enough?  But he’s admitted giving that chappy a ride home and he’s now in his party, thick as thieves.  Cut and dried for a military court, surely. Well, yes, they may make that stretch to aiding and abetting in escaping arrest.  But even then it’s not going to look good in court when they show that the NCPO rep who persuaded the students to leave the police station at the time is the same officer who is now bringing charges of evading arrest. 
2 Apr 2019
Suppose you are running an elitist authoritarian political system with one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the world.  You’ve managed to spin out your democracy-free administration for almost five years – longer than any democratically-elected government has ever lasted.  But the pressure is mounting to acquire at least the appearance of democratic rule.  Besides, you are getting a bit irritated at being called ‘the last military dictatorship in the world’. So what can you do?
22 Feb 2019
We all have a favourite mistranslation.  Personally, I have always cherished ‘poitrine de culottes’ as an endearingly ingenuous rendition in French of ‘chest of drawers’. But mistranslations can have more serious consequences. In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then President of Iran, said that Israel ‘must be wiped off the map’.  Cue a chorus of condemnation from all corners. 
7 Feb 2019
In the case of Hakeem al-Araibi, the Thai government claims that its hands are tied.  They can do nothing.  They are only following the law, protocol, the judicial process – anything but justice and common sense. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 6 February which absolved themselves of all responsibility.  Once they received the Interpol red notice (since withdrawn as invalid) and the request for extradition from Bahrain, ‘legal proceedings in Thailand regarding Mr Hakeem had already started and could not be reversed’. But they never had to start.
20 Dec 2018
Well I never.  One Facebook post and some questionable statistics (ultimately from the Bank of Thailand) and suddenly economic equality is the new buzz.  Thailand is, according to just one source, Number One in the world for economic inequality.  And the powers that be are not happy. Before now, almost every comment on the national economy health and well-being has been couched in terms of GDP.  A random sample of recent articles in One Of The Bangkok Newspapers reveals how.
18 Oct 2018
On the morning of 9 August, a bus stopped in the market area of the town of Dahyan in northern Yemen, close to the border with Saudi Arabia.  People at the scene reported that warplanes had been circling the area for an hour or so, a common occurrence.  The area was crowded with civilians.  Well, it is a market.
15 Sep 2018
The tourist had left his mobile phone in a Bangkok taxi.  This kind of thing happens on a daily basis so you would think that when he reported it to a police station, they would have a procedure in place to deal with it. And they do.  But it’s not what you might think. First there is the rigmarole of the bai chaeng khwam, the police report.  Did you note the licence number of the taxi, which is helpfully stencilled inside the cab?  Of course not.  Did you note the driver’s name on the dashboard card?  Even less likely.
7 Sep 2018
So who are we talking about?
27 Aug 2018
There is growing linguistic turmoil in academia. To understand why, you need to recognize the growing importance of academic publications, both for individual scholars and for educational institutions. The average workaday university teacher has two major academic responsibilities: teaching and research.  Good teaching, which you might think was the core competence of a teacher, is difficult to measure in a reliable way.  Student ratings quickly become beauty contests and measuring by exam results can be skewed by the incompetence, or recalcitrance, of the students.

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