June 2006 in Bangkok, Part III

After Part II

June 16-23, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Reader JFD from Boston sent these photos of buildings in which the King's father studied when he was a student at the Harvard Medical School. Also, pictured is the house on Longwood Avenue where the current King and his parents lived while at Harvard.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

When I GOOGLED "air distance between cities" I was directed to the "How Far Is It" site. I asked it how far Watcharee's Maine Lobster had to travel before it reached our table at the Millennium Hilton's "Prime" dining room. It quaintly told me how far a crow would have to fly.

"Distance between Bangor, Maine, United States and Bangkok, Thailand, as the crow flies: 8338 miles (13418 km) (7245 nautical miles)"

Wikipedia didn't really shed much light on why a crow was the chosen flight tool:

"As the crow flies" is a colloquial term used to describe the most direct route between two points on the Earth. It is most often used to differentiate distance along this route from that along a less direct route, such as a road or railroad, and is generally the same as the great circle route. Some people use the variation 'by the crow flies'.

"An example would be the distance between Key West and Pensacola, at the two opposite ends of Florida, in the United States. The most direct route by road is about 792 miles (1,275 kilometers); but a measurement directly across the Gulf of Mexico is only about 500 miles (800 kilometers)—as the crow flies."

But, Answers.com came up with a very plausible reason why crows and not dodo birds were chosen to measure great circle distances:

"In a straight line, by the shortest route, as in It's only a mile as the crow flies, but about three miles by this mountain road. This idiom is based on the fact that crows, very intelligent birds, fly straight to the nearest food supply. [Late 1700s]"

Last night we had a new waitress, as well as our old ones.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Thai government issued a special 60 baht note to commemorate the King's 60th year on the throne. Only 9,999,999 of them were issued. They were sold for 100 baht each; the profit will go to Thai charities. It is expected that almost 100% of the bills will never be 'spent' as their owners will want to treasure them forever.

PS: Bizarro continues on his roll with fuel conservation ... well ... maybe not. I guess it would be a plus if hell freezes over. Click here to see prior frugal fuel cartoons.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Young Bo is training to be a passenger.

PS: Reader JFD from Boston writes that Canada has also decided to issue a new design for its mid to high range denomination currency.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 (Pre-Journal)

Polo, anyone?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Between October 25 of last year and today these three down-river condominiums have stacked up quite a few floors.

And, right across the river from the Shangri-La hotel a new condominium, The River, is about to break ground.

A lot of the concrete "ghosts" that have populated the city since the 1997 economic crash are starting to get a real life ... witness the Millennium Hilton that died nine years ago as a Sofitel still-born.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 (Pre-Journal)

Ana, between chukkas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A little more than a year after these builder's boards went up, a motorcycle driver takes his lunch facing the 'dining room'.

PS: An interesting view of religion by film maker Josh Becker ... written about the time that Gibson's strange movie was to be released:

Religion is Evil
Josh Becker

I've just read the second article in two days about Mel Gibson's upcoming, self-financed film about the death of Jesus, "The Passion," and the controversy it's already causing before almost anyone has seen it. I just want to add in my two-cents' worth before I've seen it, either.

In point of fact, I don't give a good Goddamn about Gibson's movie or Mel Gibson, for that matter. I think he's a third-rate director and a second-rate actor who's never had the ability to master his American accent, and sounds like he comes from America's 51st state -- the state of anemia.

As these articles keep pointing out, Mel is part of a religious sect called "Catholic Traditionalists," who didn't even have a church in Los Angeles, so Mel went and built one. These nuts only perform their services in Latin, and have broken from the Roman Catholic Church over the Vatican's 1965 accord wherein they finally exonerated the Jews for the death of Jesus. But Mel's not willing to go there. He and the other Traditionalists obviously still harbor a grudge that the Jews were culpable for the death of Jesus.

Perhaps if the Jews actually ran Israel at the time of Jesus' death they would have been responsible, but of course they didn't. The Romans ran Israel and most of the world at that time and it was their rules everyone was following. Which isn't to say that the Jews themselves might not have executed Jesus for being a rabble-rouser, but they certainly wouldn't have crucified him -- that's a Roman tradition, and the Romans were rather traditionalists in their own way.

You know what? Who gives a flying fuck? Hello! This was 2,000 years ago.

But all of this meaningless hoopla just brings up other issues for me. First of all, Jim Caviezel plays Jesus in "The Passion." One more time a gutless motherfucker has cast a gentile as a Jew. Doesn't this offend anyone else but me? Jesus was Jewish. He was born a Jew, raised a Jew, and died a Jew, and all in the land of the Jews, Israel. His parents were Jews, all of the apostles were Jews, everyone he knew was Jewish, and if he returned today he wouldn't go to church he'd go to synagogue. The fact that over a billion Christians get down on their knees and pray to a dead Jew has always amused and fascinated me from the time I was a little kid.

But I'm going to take this whole issue one big step farther. Religion, of any denomination, sect or ilk, is the basis of nearly all that's evil on our lovely planet. Religion is not here to make anything better, it's only purpose to divide and separate us. We're the chosen people, you're not. Our God is the real God, yours is false and profane. Although we must show love and compassion for other members of our own religion, those of any other can be killed, tortured, and maimed because they're infidels. Religion, at its very heart, means I'm right and you're wrong, or you're right and I'm wrong, but someone's always got to be wrong.

I say that religion is the pretext for evil on our planet. Religion is the method whereby humans can rationalize their awful behavior to other humans and pawn it off as good deeds.

The basis of all Judeo-Christian religions, which includes Islam, is the old testament bible, which states very clearly "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Although I didn't know it at the time, nor is it even my title, the name of my first film is really much more appropriate: "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except." As George Carlin so aptly put it, except "if you believe in another invisible man than I do." In which case the root and basis of all these religions, the ten commandments, can be happily and easily be tossed out.

Evil does not run around in a red devil suit with horns. Evil runs around as fundamentalists of every kind, Christian, Jew, Muslim or Hindu. I'll leave out the Buddhists and the Quakers because I don't think they have ever bothered anybody. But they certainly aren't joining in with the rest of us, either. Religion is about separation, me and you, them and us, it has nothing to do with living with the rest of humanity in peace. Therefore, religion is the basis of evil.

Catholic priests have been seducing and raping young boys for over a hundred years, but are adamantly against homosexuality. Muslims say they believe in the ten commandments and that Abraham, Isaac, and Moses were all holy men, but all Muslims believe in the jihad and that anyone who is not a Muslim ought to be, and eventually will be, killed. Fundamentalist Christians, who also purport to believe in the ten commandments, really believe that when the apocalypse comes and Jesus returns, all the Jews will either have to convert to Christianity or will be killed, and that's perfectly okay. Of course, Jesus will be in the nearest synagogue praying to Yaweh while this mass murder is going on. And the Jews and Hindus all believe that they are the real chosen people and everyone is just screwed anyway.

This is all moronic, simple-minded, idiotic, pre-civilized, childish thinking. Any name that we knuckleheaded humans can give to this incredible animating power that we call God, be it Jehovah, Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Buddha, or Zoroaster, are all ridiculous bullshit.

As Joseph Campbell, the great historian of mythology, so clearly pointed out, anyone that takes any of these old books of mythology literally has completely missed the point. The bibles old and new, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Book of Zoroaster, and all the rest of the "holy" books are merely collections of mythology. They are metaphors and parables about how to live your life and how to face death. They are highly imperfect users manuals on how to get through this veil of tears we call life. If you actually believe that Jehovah is an old (white) man with a long beard who is watching each and every one of us over six billion humans and judging us, you're an imbecile. If you literally believe that Jesus is Jehovah's son, you've decided to turn off a big portion of your brain and not deal with reality. If you literally believe that if you kill an infidel that Allah will bless you with seventy-two virgins in the land of milk and honey, you've definitely got a screw loose. These are all myths. Period.

Yes, there probably were guys named Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha, but they were humans just like the rest of us. The fact that a lot of other desperate, unquestioning people gathered to them doesn't make them anything other than plain old humans.

Religion is all based on weakness and laziness. It's the throwing in of the towel on the mysteries of life. It's saying, I can't make head or tail out of any of this shit, so I'll just go with what everyone is doing. If they're all getting down on their knees, eating a cookie and believing it's the body of Christ, then I will too. If they're all wrapping themselves in leather thongs, covering their heads with beanies, and rocking back and forth, that's what I'll do. If everybody else is bowing to Mecca six times a day, I guess that's what I must do, too. This is the behavior of lemmings following other lemmings off the edge of the cliff. There is absolutely no difference between praying to Jesus, praying to Jehovah, bowing to Mecca, or lighting incense to Krishna, than there is sieg heiling to Hitler, blindly following Pol Pot into the killing fields, or chopping up Tutsis with machetes. It's all called thoughtless behavior.

It's part of our job as humans to think about and consider our place here on the planet and our position amongst all these other people. The second you abnegate this responsibility, you've fallen into an evil trap. As the writer Harlan Ellison has said, "We're all the same person under different skins," and that's truly a holy thought. All the religions on Earth want to point out is that we are all different, and we of our religion are better than those other unholy blasphemers. That's evil. And that is what all religion at its core is all about. Us and them. We're holy, they're infidels.

A word religions seem to really like, particularly the Jews is "tradition," which is the handing down of beliefs or customs from one generation to the next. This is another form of acceptance without questioning. For several hundred years an American tradition was, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." A good old Australian tradition was "the Abo-hunt," where they tracked down and shot the Aboriginal people for amusement. A good old European tradition was the pogrom, where, if your luck had turned sour, go kill some Jews. The Russians loved this tradition, but the French and Germans thought it was a pretty swell tradition, too. And it's always been a tradition of the Serbs to hate the Croats, the Hutus to hate the Tutsis, whites to hate blacks, Christians to hate Jews, Jews to hate the Palestinians, Hindus to hate the Muslims, and Muslims to hate everybody.

Well, let's just thank God for tradition, sing songs in its praise and dance the Hora.

Karl Marx said that "Religion is the opiate of the masses," and he couldn't have been more correct. Religion is a drug that encourages you to not think for yourself, and, in my very humble opinion, is much worse and far more deadly than heroin, pot, cocaine, and alcohol all put together. None of these other drugs breeds contempt for other people, but all religions do in one way or another. Religion is the insidious evil of our planet, and the sooner people start to wake up to that the sooner we can get on to bigger, more important issues like peace and goodwill toward others.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Almost six years ago Watcharee and I rode the very same Ferris wheel that is now operating in Bangkok's Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

The "Roue de Paris", as it is called, was created in 2000 to celebrate the ushering in of the new millennium. It is 60 metres tall and it can carry 252 people in its 42 cars. The Ferris wheel doesn't have a permanent foundation; rather, a stable platform in the form of ballast tanks that hold an enormous amount of water.

Next to the Ferris wheel there is a huge open-air beer garden offering live music and broadcasts of the World Cup football matches.

The Bazaar also is the home to more than 3,700 shops and restaurants.

Of course, these photos were taken while the sun was up.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Last night we took Kig (*) and Rung to the Hilton Millennium's Prime for dinner. Watcharee drove; we all ate.

Though I stuck with a traditional steak the girls were more eclectic in their selections.

The waitresses were the eye-dessert.

(*) Out of place, you say? Yes, she normally appears only on our Florida trips ... but for the past several weeks she has been in Thailand visiting her family (you have already seen her sister, Sa. Also, Kig's daughter has made at least one appearance at THOCBDC). This is the first time that she has been back to Thailand in more than four years.

Next: Part IV

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