February 1-8, 2004
The Sunday's Goriest: again it's the end of the week ... and that time for otherwise bored Bangkok families to pull themselves around the great Thai tabloids. For it is the white gloved hand of the helpful policeman or coroner that points them the way to all the stuff that's fit to see.
PS: Is this further evidence that God is bipolar?
From BBC NEWS (World Edition):
Stampede brings carnage to Hajj
At least 244 people have been trampled to death at the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the minister in charge of the event, Iyad Madani, has said. He said a similar number of pilgrims were injured during the stampede, which lasted 27 minutes.
The stoning of the pillars is the most dangerous part of the Hajj.
The disaster happened as pilgrims flocked to the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Mecca, to hurl stones at pillars representing the devil. (*)
"There was more than 400 metres of people pushing in the same direction (which) resulted in the collapse of those next to the stoning area ... and those behind. That led to panic," he said.
Mr Madani, quoted by Reuters news agency, said some pilgrims were "not organised" and their personal belongings had caused obstructions.
The stoning ritual is usually the most dangerous part of the Hajj - last year 14 pilgrims were crushed to death during it, and 35 died in a 2001 stampede.
The Hajj is now at its climax, with the traditional stoning of pillars representing the devil, followed by the religious feast of Eid al-Adha, when animals are sacrificed. (**)
As rescuers went to the scene, security officials attempted to control the crowds to prevent further crushing.
Physically exhausted after three days of rites, pilgrims surged forward to cast their stones.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims crossed over and under the 15-metre (50-foot) bridge spanning a small valley between two cliffs at Mina.
Pilgrims converged on the main pillar from all directions, shouting "God is greatest!" while others chanted "Harder! Harder!" as the faithful threw their stones, Reuters reported.
"I assure you that all the preparations are always made, but we don't always know God's intentions. What happened will be evaluated," Mr Madani said. (***)
He said another 272 pilgrims had died of natural causes during the Hajj.
All able-bodied Muslims are required to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime, if they can afford it.
(*) With all that confusion perhaps those stones were being lobbed at God's pillar ... by mistake, of course! (But, still, that would piss anyone off; even God, especially if he was having one of his 'black' days).
(**) Watch it, God might like furry animals ... he may even have pets around his Place. Remember the Ark ... or is that a Bible thing?
(***) Maybe God just thinks you guys are assholes.
P.P.S. Paul writes:
"This year's balloon festival at Château d'Oex, Switzerland is reaching its peak this weekend. It's hard to believe that four years have passed since our 'eventful' Saturday at the festival in 2000. For those who were not following this site in those days, or for those who have forgotten, here is my story of that day in the Pays d'Enhaut district ... this weekend, four years ago."
THOCBDC's candid camera has captured (albeit in bad focus and on grainy film) the terrible toll that has been suffered by Bangkok KFC franchisees ... all because of Asia's avian flu.
In my 'backyard' (just next-door, actually) there is this nice face off between a centuries old Buddhist temple and a one year old Roman Catholic University building.
I rather like the picture!
PS: Meanwhile, down in Patpong, the dirty commercial side of Bangkok is taking on its rough underpinnings. In a few hours it will be all bright lights and whores in the doorways.
This is a panoramic view from the Taksin Bridge ... looking south and down the Chao Phraya River. Eventually this direction leads to the sea.
THOCBDC's main transmission site is auspiciously placed.
More than two years ago THOCBDC investigated the mysterious case of the Sofitel Hotel ... the one on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Apparently some strange growth retarding disease had savagely ravaged the place not long before its scheduled opening. Like a baby born without a brain, from the outside it looked OK; but when poked nothing moved. And when ... to carry this anatomy thing a bit further ... a cyclopean optical probe forced its way to the innards, well, all that was seen was unfinished business. As if God had though better about completing the job.
Yesterday THOCBDC returned to the zombie. Though still 'dead', its caretakers had sutured off the major cavities. No longer visible were its major, albeit not pumping, organs. Only the remains of the escalator were on view; the remainder of the hulk lay behind a not very cosmetic wall.
PS: Though the Nana Entertainment complex (*) is a vast warren of pleasure pits, little is known of the gangways that feed into this 'mother' ship. With lower rents (and lower beer prices), they easily offer less for less. Norwegians, being a frugal lot (high taxes at home?), naturally are drawn to these down-market places. Pouring 70 baht beers and dishing up girls who are either long of tooth or wide of girth, they are favorites with the Norse people.
(*) Pictured on these pages many times.
These little red boxes are found all over Bangkok. No wires or pipes lead into them. They have no antennas. And, Bangkokians pay no attention to them.
Any guesses? No fair if you can read Thai.
Reader Candice Logan from Pendumbu in Sierra Leone writes:
"The red boxes! Are they for absentee voting?"
Reader Gunter Heinemann from Paysandu, Uruguay hopes:
"For the anonymous condemnation of neighbors? If so, I wish we had some."
PPS: Bible Study founder, Brother Harry, writes:
"Do those red things have anything to do with filthy Bangkok sex? Are they Patpong Valentine's Day condom machines?"
Take Back Valentine's Day! Get a Heart On For Jesus!
Valentine's Day has always been nothing more than a shameless celebration of promiscuity. In grade schools throughout the land, six-year-olds are encouraged to fill their classmates' shoeboxes with sexually predatory demands like, "Be Mine!" Hearts are everywhere - red and round like ripe baboon anuses when the monkeys are in heat. Grown women are running around with their hearts on fire for any stranger with a Whitman's Sampler. But all these people whipped into a fornicating frenzy have their hearts turned off to the one person who matters - Jesus! Well, we at Landover Baptist are going on record, saying we've got a heart on for Jesus! Landover Baptist joins Christians nationwide in implementing the "Iíve Got a Heart On For Jesus!" campaign to teach children the importance of living chaste, sin-free lives. The program replaces the secular "holiday" of "Valentine's Day."
No, Brother Harry, you too ... like readers Candice and Gunter ... have completely missed the target. Those little red boxes do not contain Valentine's Day condoms.
Let's open the box and see what's inside. Once this is done your task should be a snap ... and you don't even have to be fluent in Thai to figure out the answer.
"The bridge is still safe." Presumably that is the purpose of the mysterious red box; each day someone from the Bureau of Bridges walks across the bridge ... and if he makes it safely to the other end (where the box is afixed), he notes (on a paper in the box) that nothing strange happened to him while he crossed the bridge.
It's a foggy day in Bangkok.
PS: Reader Don Bull from Virginia writes:
"It is a maintenance schedule for the red box! Just like the schedules in the restrooms at Walmart."
THOCBDC thinks this is the defacto correct answer.
Next: Part II