Thousands of protesters continued their occupation of Government House, the offices of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, whom the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) contend is corrupt and little more than a puppet for the ousted Thaksin Sinawatra. They have called for his resignation, but he has adamantly declined to cooperate.
"The government is in a dilemma. If they crackdown, that may cause a boomerang, but if they don't, they look weak," said the director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University.
After a week of protests, primarily in the Bangkok area, it still has not escalated into violence. And most recently the prime minister seems to have lost support from the Army. They are seen here relaxing on one of the many grassy lawns of the city.
It all began on August 26, when the PAD protesters gained control of the government operated NBT television building. Wearing yellow shirts to show allegiance to the King, they began broadcasting calls for the resignation of the present govenment, beginning with the Prime Minister. The state owned Railways have come to a complete standstill because so many of the Railway Union members called in sick, or just didn't show up for work, as a means of supporting PAD. Three outlying airports have also been closed, including the busy Phuket terminal.
There is a popular saying here, "T.I.T", "This Is Thailand". It is used by both Thai and foreigners, and can refer to anything odd, or especially Thai in nature. The political process of the country is definitely T.I.T.
"Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying. ...
There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined." .....
Enlightening article, with live videos, of "police democracy" in action. Scary stuff.
Yesterday was John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected, he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.
Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:
* She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.
* Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.
* She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
* Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.
* She doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.
* She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
* How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.
Keith Obermann and Rachel Maddow discussing Palin:
Yesterday I was at my local Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina Dog Chow for my loyal pet, Chipper, the Wonder Dog, and was in the checkout line when the woman behind me asked if I had a dog.
What did she think I had, an elephant? So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.
I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)
Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's ass and a car hit us both.
I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Wal-Mart won't let me shop there anymore.
Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say, and we're working on new ones everyday.
Got a hilarious letter in my spam file a few days back:
Приветствую вас, вы можете быть скептически получения электронной почты, потому что мы не встретились predtím, я г-н Патрик KW Чан (исполнительный директор и главный финансовый директор) на úbocí Сенг Банк Ltd, presto, я торговые предложения, связанного сумма $ 24000000,00 долларов США в моем банке, я знаю, мы.....
So Patrik K, Chan, "Chief Executive Director" of the Seng Bank, Ltd [presto???] writes to me in Russian, from an Italian address, informing me that his 'bank' is worth 24 million US dollars and that we can mutualy benefit from something which is left vaguely undisclosed. Yup, sure we can.
How stupid do these crooks think the citizens of the internet really are??? Discovered that Mr. Chen has hundreds of aliases, connected with various 'banks', as well as limitless email addresses. And all connected with vast sums of money, of course.
Loved the three language mishmash of requested information:
4.Private номер телефона,
5.Current rezidencní адрес
Sorry Patrik, but you are a 他媽的輸家, fottuto perdente, проигрыше, and I willl even throw in an extra, pendejo perdedor - all of which point in the direction of your being a fucking loser - and not a very bright one at that.
So if you should be bothered by mail from "Г-н Патрик Чан." <email@example.com> or Mr. Patrik Chan, do NOT answer it, but rather report it to the proper authorities. Yahoo has a page on the procedure for reporting email scams and phishers.
ORANGE PARK, Fla. — David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote “Evolution” in the rectangle of light on the screen.
He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact. His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m. prayer meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the school gymnasium.
“If I do this wrong,” Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, “I’ll lose him.”
In February, the Florida Department of Education modified its standards to explicitly require, for the first time, the state’s public schools to teach evolution, calling it “the organizing principle of life science.” Spurred in part by legal rulings against school districts seeking to favor religious versions of natural history, over a dozen other states have also given more emphasis in recent years to what has long been the scientific consensus: that all of the diverse life forms on Earth descended from a common ancestor, through a process of mutation and natural selection, over billions of years.
But in a nation where evangelical Protestantism and other religious traditions stress a literal reading of the biblical description of God’s individually creating each species, students often arrive at school fearing that evolution, and perhaps science itself, is hostile to their faith. .....
How can evangelical, literalist christians live in the contemporary world and not accept science? They talk to each other on their cell phones, ride around in automobiles, watch TV [and their rabid ministers], attend electrified churches with elaborate sound systems, surf the internet, accept medical attention and eat tons of junk food on a daily basis. EVERY one of these, and a myriad of other basic features of the contemporary world, is a result of the science — which they claim that they reject. Now this is a dichotomy which I simply do not understand. Are they all slightly schizophrenic?
And if they attempted to follow the endless rules and regulatiions in the old testament in a strictly literal fashion [the "inerrant" word of God] perhaps 90%, or more, of them would be dead by the hands of their fellow believers, who would be engaged in an endless stone throwing frenzy.
"I'm really not at all interested in what's going on inside the convention center: It's a bunch of people saying feel-good platitudes to get themselves elected, all studiously avoiding saying anything substantial that might annoy a voter."
PZ [Pharyngula] scores a bullseye, but of course I've been aware of this since I became interested in the poliitcal process in America over 60 years ago. Just imagine the positive effects on society if all the wasted time and obscene amount of money spent on political campaigning was actually used on something worthwhile.
May 25 is Towel Day, which I somehow seem to have missed this year. "Towel Day???", you ask, and the derision in your voice is audible.
Towel Day is celebrated every May 25 as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after his death on May 11, 2001. On this day, fans worldwide carry a towel with them during the day to demonstrate their participation and mourning of the author. The towel is a reference to Adams's popular science fiction comedy series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Très Chic Towel for the fashion conscious
From Chapter 3, HHGG —
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)"
Stylized stage set based on his novel The Golden Pavilion
Mishima, Yukio [in Japanese the surname is always written first] has long been one of my favorite Japanese authors. I have, over the years, voraciously consumed a large number of his novels. He was a prodigious writer and there are substantial biographical elements in nearly all his works. A brilliant author and man of many contradictions, he committed seppuku [ritual suicide], in 1970 while at the height of his literary career.
Last night I watched the new Criterion DVD of the 1984 film by Paul Schrader, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. A beautiful film on many levels, made even more so by Criterion with color corrections from the original release and the addition of several hours of additional information and interviews.
Paul Schrader’s genius is evident in the support personnel and Japanese actors which he amassed for this phenomenal biopic. The musical score by Philip Glass is outstanding.
It is presented in four broad chapters, Beauty, Art, Action, Pen and Sword, and they all swirl around the last day of his life with members of his elite special forces group, presented in natural color. His life, beginning with a sheltered childhood are shown in black and white, while the stylized sets from three of his most popular novels [The Golden Pavilion, Kyoko’s House, and The Runaway Horses] are shown in intense bold colors.
And extraordinary film on multiple levels which from the script to the production design and the music, every stage of this production strove for something special. And achieved it.
Videos of Schrader’s film have been banned from sale in Japan, although curiously it has been shown on TV there – with all references to his homosexuality having been removed.
Mishima’s plays, such as Rokumeikan [ 鹿鳴館 ], the Deer Cry Pavilion, continue to be presented in Japanese theater. Earlier this year Asahi TV presented a drama based on the play Rokumaikan, which is set during the Meiji era at the Rokumeikan, a social center that ultimately became a symbol of the Westernization process in Japan. This particular play is characateristic of the dicotamy of Mishima's complex character - an attraction to the west, and yet a desire to preserve, at all costs including his life, the ancient traditionalist Japan.