December 1-15, 2002
"Res Ipsa Loquitur!"
"In order to really appreciate the wisdom of atheism you have to know something about religion."1 - Anonymous cleric
Iranian cleric denounces dog owners
A conservative Iranian cleric has denounced the "moral depravity" of owning a dog, and called for the arrest of all dogs and their owners.
Dogs are considered unclean in Islamic law and the spread of dog ownership in Westernised secular circles in Iran is frowned upon by the religious establishment.
Short-legged dogs were
the target of a previous
"I demand the judiciary arrest all dogs with long, medium or short legs - together with their long-legged owners," Hojatolislam Hassani is quoted as saying in the reformist Etemad newspaper.
"Otherwise I'll do it myself," said the outspoken cleric, who leads Friday prayers in the north-western city of Urumiyeh.
"In our country there is freedom of speech, but not freedom for corruption," he said.
Tehran journalist Mafiseh Kouhnavand told the BBC that the subject of dog ownership had been brought up many times before.
Hardline judiciary agents and police occasionally clamp down on the practice, fining owners and confiscating their pets from streets and parks.
In June, police banned the sale of dogs and penalized anyone walking a dog in public. The practice is seen by conservatives as a corrupting influence of decadent Western culture.
But despite the clampdowns, dog ownership has been on the rise, especially among rich Iranians in the north of Tehran.
"Now it has reached Urumiyeh, but some people were not ready for it," Ms Kouhnavand said.
Hojatolislam Hassani appears to be widening the scope of his anti-canine campaign. Last year, he publicly thanked police for their policy of exclusively confiscating short-legged dogs in Urumiyeh.
1 http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/scarves/islamicarticles.html - click on "dogs" for a satisfying read.
I hope that the night editor at THOCBDC was able to find the Bangkok Post article about 'our' dinner cruise. The three of us (myself, Alex and Karim) talked so much we really have to rely on the press for what we should have seen.
The Spirit House is there all year long. Of course, it serves a legitimate spiritual purpose.
Fortunately, the Santa Claus figure only has another three weeks to run as it acts only as a commercial greeter for the sponsoring shops in this small Silom Road mall.
Wisely, the local merchants have left the distasteful manger setting out of this otherwise profit-making seasonal display: yes, there is no strange post-partum delivery scene with a human baby lying on amniotic fluid soaked hay and surrounded by farm animals that were perversely attracted to it by the scent of spent placenta hunks.
It is national holiday here! Like with Mother's Day, Father's Day 'falls' on the monarch's birthday.1 Almost everything that is even vaguely connected with the 'trivial' side of life is closed.2
The King is the most highly revered person in Thailand, so there were many tributes to him. He is genuinely loved by the people of Thailand and the people who have made Thailand their home.
1 Can you imagine Father's Day in the USA being moved to coincide with the President's birthday; and Mother's Day following the First Lady?
2 Patpong is like Wall Street on September 12, 2001. Bars are shuttered.
Patpong has become too commercial?
No, it's not that. Patpong has always been about money.
The wrong product mix?
More than that! The wrong product! In the beginning there were no handbags, watches, scarves and pirated CDs. Just girls.
The men have only themselves to blame. They brought their wives or girl friends when they came to Bangkok ... foolishly thinking that while the 'little woman' shopped they could roam. But, the market place doesn't work that way. There's more money in selling fake Rolexes to ladies than the 'real thing' to men.
So, where have all the girls gone?
To Cowboy and Nana and Soi 31.
Though yesterday I grumbled about the changing face of the Patpong market, its merchants are not idiots when it comes to what sells. Though tee shirts like this one might not wear well in Miami or Dayton, the street vendors in Asia are selling to people who don't watch CNN for their news.
'Slumber parties', on the other hand are pretty much the same the world over. Watcharee's nieces are here for the night. They normally live 'up country' so a night in Bangkok is a special treat for them. After Watcharee and I go to bed I hope they don't sneak out; we left the cable tuned to VH1 Asia. Will that be enough?
Every Sunday Silom Road in the Patpong area is closed to motor traffic; it becomes a market: one by and for the people.
Yes, it's been a while, hasn't it? Anyway ...
Today we look at metal casting in Bangkok. Not little ones; huge ones. Over the past several years I have shown you, dear reader, a few snippets of this sort of thing. Usually those photographs have required flash illumination ... thus depriving us of any meaningful depth of field. Not willing to carry complicated lighting apparatus on my walks I've been limited to mono-sourced lighting. So today I set out in bright sunlight to capture some of the strange things that only catch the eye of furnishers of hotel lobbies, nouveau riche 'great rooms' and the recovery wards for users of '60s hallucinogens.
Meanwhile over at the machine works in Bristol, Sian is busy with her air gun. Whether Jan blanches as she passes 'her' canvas we don't know. What the night-watchman does when only he is about ... no one wants to know.
1 Letter-wise, one of the longest (lengthiest?) entries in NEWNES; and surely the longest one for December. But, only slightly longer than the entry commemorating the 156th anniversary of George Jacob Holyoake's public announcement of his philosophy of Secularism ... which, incidentally, takes place tomorrow. [The commemoration, that is.]
This week's issue of THAI FAMILY FEUDS AND MAKE-UPS was very one-sided on the grim side. Though the cover is a 'mixed bag' it's mostly blood and guts inside.
Yes, it was a very bad week for domestic spats that got totally out of control ... I mean, there was just no turning back to mend things, was there?
In one case "he said" ... or, maybe "she said" ... anyway, shots were exchanged ... fortunately small bore ammunition was used so the entry wounds were not disfiguring. They almost look alive, don't they? But, no, they are very much dead. Haunting the way the freshly dead can look so ... if not perky ... at least awake or drugged.
In the other ... well, it pretty much speaks for itself. She didn't have a chance to say too much ... hope she got it all out the first time around.
Inga Kosak won the first World Extreme Ironing Championship in Munich in September, beating 80 contestants (from 10 countries), who are judged on the degree of difficulty they can create for themselves in order to iron. One ironed while bouncing on a trampoline, another while surfboarding on a river, and another hanging upside down from a tree. Enthusiasts have photos of themselves ironing in remote mountain locations, where power for the steam iron must come from a generator (or a very long extension cord). The activity's founder, Phil Shaw, says he does it because ironing itself is particularly boring. [Toronto Star, 11-22-02; Boston Globe, 10-13-02]
The Patpong Corkscrew Club's very own Miss "Gift" shows off her freshly ironed club tee-shirt. Using only body heat she was able to produce this creaseless garment. Other photographs of club members can be found in many corners of THOCBDC. Most have nothing to do with ironing.
In Thailand almost any 'straw' is grabbed at in trying to come up with a winning lottery number. In past chapters THOCBDC has showed you, dear reader, how such disparate things as deformed banana plants, hermaphrodite pigs ... (or, was it a pig gifted with double trimmings?) ... and other deformities of nature have prompted people to find a winning lottery number somewhere in their 'meaning'. I have found an old footnote that will take you there, if you care.1
Well, this morning's Bangkok Daily News hit the nadir ... in man's search for lottery riches:
Apparently this five year old child died of leukemia. At least that is what the doctor said after pronouncing the child dead.
End of story?
Not by any means.
The 'dead' infant continued to carry on with its normal excretion functions even after its heart stopped beating. With regularity it passed waste. And, the infant did not begin the normally inexorable rotting process ... which invariably is quick on the heels of the grim reaper unless some embalming fluid is readily on tap.
So, what does this mean?
Well, over 1,000 people flocked to the infant ... not to bear witness to a miracle or a 'second coming' ... but in search of a winning lottery number. Dear reader, do you see those sticks in their hands? No, it's not incense that they are holding; rather, gambling sticks ... grab or lay down the 'right' number and your money problems are solved.
And, dear reader, this 'evacuating' infant will be someone's manna; through it the winning number will be revealed ... to somebody.
So, thousands believe.
Turning back the clock: can anyone remember where they read this? Hint: Loaded!
"Another titled lady got so drunk she confided in me that she didn't like being in the jungle because, since her bowel operation, whenever she wants to poo she has to stick her hand up her vagina and push the shit out."
1 New candidates for Si Quey inclusion appear almost daily. This morning's Bangkok Daily News featured the quasi-mummified body of a young boy who was recently found in a spirit house. Dead, but not decayed, his remains were fussed over by pickers in search of lucky lottery numbers (the 15th and the 30th of each month are the drawing days). Watcharee says that Thai people believe that finding something 'strange' augurs well for lottery number selections. Like strangely mutated banana plants and porkers gifted with the sex organs of both, this 'preserved' kid promises the glimmer of a work-free life to the players of bimonthly lady-luck.
In Bangkok Friday the 13th, for some odd reason, does not have the aura of bad luck about it that it seems to have back west.
However, The Bangkok Daily News was not shy in reporting some misfortunes that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that today is Friday the 13th1:
Why Is This Man Laughing?
The individual pictures were captioned by an outside source ... they are not translations of the Thai descriptions.
On a more wholesome tact ... Watcharee and I had dinner with Nuch and Alex aboard a converted rice barge that is now being operated by The Oriental Hotel as an upscale nautical Thai restaurant.
1 Probably because the calamities happened before the day's presses started their roll. The one 'crotch' shot is for balanced reporting.
PS "Screwy Tuskers" 2003.
Bangkok weather: generally clear with scattered clouds ... Low 29, High 33.
1 Photograph of direct descendant of Empress Ning.
PS: This photograph will only interest the Erickson children. It is the house they lived in ... in Wateringbury, Kent, England ... from 1969 to 1971.
This morning's Bangkok Post covered comics and sports.
1 THOCBDC should have a pretty good archive on this St. Petersburg murder. Linda and I visited the scene of the 'crime' during a Butterfield & Robinson trip several years ago. And just this last summer the CB3 team also called in on the various poisoning, strangling and shooting rooms for an independent investigation. Perhaps Paul can find some links.
Next: More December!