Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Charlton Athletic 1-0 Stoke

A good win against a tough league side. Sounds like they did everything about right. It puts Charlton back above local rivals Crystal Palace in the league which is always a good thing. Charlton are 5th. but only 4 points behind the leaders. In fact 10 points covers the first eleven teams which shows how competitive this league is. (For people of my age it's still Division Two, not the Championship, and it's Division One instead of the Premier League.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Elitism at Work

So Peter Hain resigns and Rose Gibb, who had already resigned, gets a £75,000 pay off. Rose Gibb was the chief of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust where up to 90 patients died due to a bacterial infection caused by poor cleaning. The cleaning problems were down to lack of staff. Rose Gibb was on a salary of £150,000. Alan Johnson made some noises about not paying her, but this was probably just to take our minds off the fact he didn't support his old friends in the postal workers union at the time. I don't want to take the cheap shots at Rose Gibb like Alan Johnson, the Murdoch tabloids can do that far better than either of us.

But... how can a government that made a point of giving the NHS so much more money than the Tories, and won the first Blair election against sleaze in the then Tory government, get into such a mess. It's the arrogance of the buggers that's get me. Peter Hain is not going to admit anything. Alan Johnson is not going to make any significant change to the NHS.

What is the problem with this New Labour. I suspect it's just a dose of elitism. They do trust the common people. They trust people like themselves, people who can be highly paid administrators in the NHS, not sisters, nurses and cleaners. The elite know better. Peter Hain can be as crooked as he wants because he is part of this elite.

Everyone wants to be a cavalier, nobody wants to be a roundhead. They all believe in their divine right to rule. There are no Levellers left. I'm no longer a revolutionary, but sometimes I wonder if the second British revolution is long overdue. We need a dose of common sense and commonwealth.

Or maybe Gordon Brown is like Oliver Cromwell's son Richard, just there to hand over power over to the cavaliers after his father's death. Just had a quick peep on Wikipedia. Richard Cromwell reigned for just 8 months. His enemies called him Tumbledown Dick and Queen Dick. What is it they calling Gordon Brown, Mr. Benn!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bangsue Junction Railway Yards

Bangsue Junction
Bangsue Junction

Bangsue Junction, it's a couple of syllables short of being a really exotic name. Not quite up there with some of the Indian railway names where you would expect to see William Holden falling in love with a beautiful Eurasian girl, in black & white of course.

I had seen the massive railway yards from the elevated expressway a couple of weeks ago while getting to the Morechit northern bus terminal and figured it would make a future walk. Sometimes for the walk I don't mind the lack of interesting scenery as then I can get some thinking done. Other-times some interesting sights can be the impetus needed to get out walking. Yesterday I shed fifty years and became a boy again and got to play with the railways.

Crashed Railway Carriage
Crashed rail carriage in the sidings

One of the good things about Thailand is that it can be fairly laid back on some of the official rules that are now accepted as gospel back home. I don't want to get too "Life on Mars" like, but things have changed, probably for the better, in the UK. Anyway, even with this laid back attitude I thought that a Sunday morning would be best for an exploration of yards as the security would be a little more lax. I drove over at 7 AM.

The yards are really massive and it makes sense that when the business press here talks about the State Railways of Thailand they talk about its property portfolio. The yards are split into cargo sidings, passenger carriages sidings and a large diesel engine workshop. I also found another area where the very upmarket Eastern & Oriental Express railway coaches were parked. These are part of an expensive tour taking in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Railway Carriage Homes
Railway workers homes

The railway security guys did catch up with me a couple of times just to see what I was up to. Exchanged pleasantries and all was well. Not the reaction if I did it in the UK I think. I did try and stay off the rails and we don't have electric rails here either. There were Sunday shifts both working in the goods yards and in the diesel shed, but everyone was friendly and it was a fine morning's walk. There is a community of railway workers that look fairly settled in a small hamlet made up of vintage railway carriages. Beautiful gardens and even a satellite dish.

Armoured Railcar
Armoured rail car

Near the southern end of the yards near to where the old steam engine in yesterday's picture was on display was this police armoured rail car. Now this looked like pure Hollywood. It should have been full of Federales while Pancho Villa attacked the train. Did Anthony Quinn ever play Pancho?

Getting home I found that it was an ex-British railcar taken to Malaya during the Emergency. 47 were built in the UK by D. Wickham in 1953. In the 1960s two were lent to Thailand and this must be one of those. Anyone who needs this type of information should try and get hold of an out of print book called "The Railways of Thailand" by an Austrian called R. Ramaer.

One last photo for now. Strange items left on a warehouse loading dock.

Railway Warehouse Loading Dock
Warehouse loading dock

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watford 1-1 Charlton Athletic

A good result seeing that Charlton had played extra time in the midweek cup game against West Bromwich Albion before losing on penalties. Sixth in the table today but still hoping for a top two finish.

Went for a drive to, and a walk in, the Bangsue railway yards this morning. More later, but here's a picture.

krupp 2-4-0

Saturday, January 19, 2008

An evening walk by Suvarnabhumi Airport

I did two trips to the Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday and on the first spied a long pathway on a wide canal that skirts the western edge of the airport. I decided that after the second trip I would walk a part of it. The problem was I didn't have a chance to do it until 5:45 PM. If you have never lived in the tropics then you wouldn't realize that dusk and dawn are relatively short periods here. One minute it's light and the next it's dark, and vice-versa.

Evening by the Airport 1
Looking south along the canal and getting dark

I'm not sure whether this is a canal dug to drain the airport area before its construction or one of the much older canals draining the eastern suburbs into the Samut Prakan Chao Prya River estuary. I could only walk about 20 minutes in daylight to the south before turning back and apart from the new airport there wasn't a lot of interest. There were some boys fishing with large cast nets and I was surprised to see large frogs, about 6 inches nose to tail, being reared in net pens in the klong.

Evening by the Airport 2
FedEx aircraft at the cargo terminal

The western side of the airport is the cargo area and one of the runways. Planes were taking off over me every few minutes so it's certainly busy. One last photo below. I'm not sure if I will do the whole walk on this canal as I think I have a few more interesting walks still to do.

Evening by the Airport 3
Looking across to the airport

Nothing Nice To Say

I was so hopeful I had something nice to say about Gordon Brown and his darling Darling. I almost did a post yesterday saying they were taking a principled stand and nationalizing Northern Rock. At least that way the taxpayer's money wasn't just cheap finance to some fat cat.

Instead he was on a plane to China along with Richard Branson. Today the BBC website says that Branson is confident he will get his hands on Northern Rock. Doesn't even need smoky rooms now, just a champagne junket to China.

Wouldn't it be good if instead of helping the likes of Branson it was the nurses who got the money. One of the boy Milibands says to the Fabian Society that Labour needs to show it's excited about a serving a fourth term in order to get elected. Well it might take a bit socialism to do that.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Has the Labour Party become too broad a church?

A great Scot and Labour Party leader, Keir Hardie, formed the Independent Labour party because he felt that the Liberal Party would not represent the working class although it relied on their votes.

Gordon Brown, also a Labour Party leader, calls for 'a government of all the talents' and invites strange people like Shirley Williams into it. Now we have more sleaze with Peter Hain's deputy leader campaign money. Now Peter calls himself a 'libertarian socialist', whatever that means. I'm sure he thinks he is, but all I remember is, he was the leader of the Young Liberals, not the Young Socialists. Must be something to do with him becoming Welsh.

There must be a base to the Labour Party's socialism. Sure we don't need another clause four, but we do need more than the wishy-washy liberalism the leadership gives us today. They are talking about nationalizing Northern Rock, but only because they know the public is watching and won't accept an old friends deal with likes of Richard Branson. There's just too much tax-payers money already in the kitty.

I do fail to understand how campaigning for the deputy leader's post can cost so much. It's an internal party election so a candidate just needs to get his views out to the party faithful in the branches, parliament and the unions. So you build a website, travel to branch meetings, produce a few thousand pamphlets, and spend £10,000. The money Peter Hain forgot to declare was £103,000 and that was just part of what he spent. What did he spend the money on? Were the candidates buying TV spots? I just don't see it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Charlton Athletic 4-1 Blackpool

Might be Charlton back on the winning way now. For me out here promotion to the Premier League means getting to see them on the TV next season. For the club it means a lot of money - from Murdoch's TV company of course. It does seem all is not well with the finances although that could be said for any team that isn't owned by an American or some sort of foreign mafioso.

Friday, January 11, 2008

JPMorgan buys mortgages from Northern Rock

From the BBC website - Rock sells off £2.2bn mortgages.

So JPMorgan starts to buy the assets of Northern Rock which is in debt to the government. No, surely not anything to do with Tony getting the bank clerk's job there?

The Evolution of Corruption

When I first arrived in this country it was very common to give small gifts to low level government officials to get things done. A bag of apples for the girls at the driving license office, a small amount for the upcountry policeman who pulled you over on an empty road for some sort of infringement or a New Year bottle of whiskey to the local municipal office.

I didn't really mind as I could afford it and these workers were on low wages. I had seen it all before in many third world countries. Now, as the country becomes wealthier, petty corruption at this level has almost disappeared. We even get number queuing tickets in government offices.

But corruption hasn't gone away. In fact there is probably more money involved than ever before but it is done mainly at the very top level of politicians and civil servants. It is done on payment for government contracts and people on both sides of the transactions become very wealthy. Word leaks out and we all know it is going on.

We will eventually reach the level where corruption becomes almost invisible; where all top government deals are done between friends, and friends of friends; where the old school tie rules; in fact we will become like the UK, but this will make the corruption even more costly to the country.

Shame, but at least Tony Blair can't legally start lobbying the government on behalf of JPMorgan for another six months, and he wouldn't break the law would he? And that Young Liberal, Peter Hain, wasn't promising any favours for that money he collected in the Labour deputy leader's election was he?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

J. P. Morgan or is it JPMorgan?

Today on the BBC website they tell us that Tony Blair is joining that citadel of laissez-faire capitalism, JPMorgan. Why doesn't that come as a surprise?

Meanwhile I have just started Gordon Brown's biography of James Maxton, the Glasgow socialist and leader of the Independent Labour Party. I suspect Brown's move to Thatcherism must have been harder than Tony's because he at least must have believed a little bit in socialism as a young man. So what bank gets Gordon?

James Maxton

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Real King of Britain

Rupert Murdoch's first royal visit to the UK

The problem with monarchs is we don't get to elect them and changing them can be quite a bloody business. I do think that as a majority in the UK would keep the monarchy, a compromise with republican sentiments would be to elect a monarch with some sort of recall if the enough signed a petition. Surely there must be better than Charles and Diana's two boys to come.

In the 15th. Century Wikipedia refers to the real ruler of England being Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, also know as the Kingmaker. Today's Kingmaker must be Rupert Murdoch. UK politicians beg his support. His power over the media is overwhelming. In 1992, using the Sun newspaper, he kept the Tories in power. Blair considered he had to make deals with Murdoch to win his election. Gordon Brown's spin doctors must live in fear of him backing Cameron.

But Murdoch is not even British. He was born Australian but because US laws forbid non-US nationals owning the media he became American. He is credited, and credits himself I suspect, in keeping Britain out of the Euro. How can we let this un-elected man have so much power.

Of course there is a long history of foreign press barons in the UK, from Beaverbrook to Conrad Black. Brown's people must be worried what way the Sun will lean. In a close election it will make the difference and like a poor maid who has given up her virginity what else has Gordon got to offer Murdoch.

Might be time to look back in history. The Earl of Warwick finally got his on the battlefield. Maybe Gordon Brown can take on Rupert Murdoch before he gets to pick another king. Push some US style laws through parliament and limit how much media a man or company can own. Take away his newspapers or television companies. Send his son packing. Get in first Gordon because Rupert is probably planning on doing it to you.