Alien Thoughts

13 Apr 2016
Who is doing this to our Dear Leader?  General Prayut trots off to the US in search of more ‘oh look I’m in the same room as other world leaders so they must accept me’ photo ops and it is all promptly ruined by another burst of rampant paranoia. He told VOA he ‘met representatives of many countries’ (see, they do talk to him so Thailand is not the international pariah that some critics claim). 
1 Apr 2016
(In a luxury condo in Nakhon Si Thammarat.) ‘Geraldine darling, who’s Geralgine?’ ‘Mmm?’ ‘This web page lists the details of all the foreigners living in the south of Thailand and it says there is a Geralgine living at this address.’ ‘What?’ ‘Somebody’s been posting data from Immigration on the internet.’ ‘But getting it wrong at the same time.’ ‘Well it is Immigration.’ (In a rented room in deepest Sukhumwit) ‘Ahmed, look at this.  Somebody’s given us a map of targets.’
23 Mar 2016
So we can see there the pictures of Trump Air Force One touching down at Bangkok airport on the latest stage of the President’s whistle-stop foreign tour.  And in case any viewers are wondering about the name, remember that Air Force One was a military plane and so along with the rest of the military it has been privatized by presidential order.  We are now going over to our correspondent Tony Crane who is on the tarmac.  Tony, what can you see there? 
15 Mar 2016
Another school year over and time to reflect for a moment on all that budget wasted, and time and effort, and the young minds.  So sad. The Thai education system, you might have thought, would be near the top of the to-do list for any government that comes to power speaking the language of reform.  The whole shebang is so dysfunctional that anybody and his mother can pick holes in it, the latest critic being Supachai Panitchpakdi, ex-head of the WTO and UNCTAD.
10 Mar 2016
The code of omertà (silence) among mafia types is often portrayed as a form of honour among thieves.  Something like not snitching on your mates, a lesson you learned in the school playground to show you were brave, principled even, and prepared to stand up to the sadistic bullying of small-minded authoritarians called teachers.  But with all due respect to any members of the ʼNdrangheta, Cosa Nostra or Camorra who might be reading this – bollocks.
11 Feb 2016
The Thai police have reacted angrily to international coverage of the latest ‘vice’ raid, which is being portrayed as another bumbling bone-headed police farce.
31 Jan 2016
You may not have noticed this, but the escalators on the underground MRT in Bangkok have signs telling you not to walk and to hold onto the handrail.  But on the BTS skytrain, they tell you to walk on the left and stand on the right. Certainly the vast majority of passengers seem to be ignoring the signs.  This could be the confusion of having different systems in the same city, but I suspect it’s just the regular scoff-law attitude you get round here.
23 Jan 2016
‘Under the new regulation, those wanting to contest MP and Senate elections must not have parents and spouses who are MPs, senators, members of local administrative bodies, or local administrators.’ — Newspaper report on a new constitutional provision. It was a whirlwind romance.
19 Jan 2016
Maybe the military government is getting a bad rap over the alleged corruption concerning Rajaphakti Park.  I know one of their stated excuses for overturning the constitution and ousting a democratic government was the elimination of corruption, but it would be unreasonable to expect any government to be 100% spotless. 
5 Jan 2016
‘Gen Prayut said that other countries planned to use genetically modified (GM) plants during times of war or widespread disease that affected crop cultivation because they could be engineered to endure.’ News report explaining the government decision to withdraw its GMO bill, which had nothing to do with protests from farmers, consumers, exporters, the NESDB and the Ministry of Commerce – in fact just about everyone except the GMO companies whose fingerprints were all over the bill.
15 Dec 2015
Some years ago, I was in conversation with a retired government official who had been a high heidyin in the Bangkok governor’s office.  Bangkok was just recovering from the latest inundation and he was scathing in his criticisms of the administration of the day. He noted, correctly, that flooding in the capital seemed to be both more frequent and more severe.  I agreed, but mentioned climate change and other factors that were not directly under the BMA’s control.
8 Dec 2015
It’s beginning to get on my wick. Because of the BMA’s farcical idea of what constitutes a ‘cycle lane’, I have a choice. I can pedal along the gutter, prey to the insouciant homicidal tendencies of the average Bangkok motorist.  Or I can mount the footpath, use the ‘cycle lane’, and become myself predator, a danger to poor pedestrians. My confidence in my own magnanimity (and total lack of confidence in that of Bangkok bus drivers), induces me to choose the footpath.  But I am not out of danger there. 

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