Monday, April 28, 2008


As you age so mortality touches you that little bit harder. In the Western world, unless you are unlucky, your youthful brushes with mortality are as that oldest generation to which your grandparents belong begins to pass away. By the time you are late middle age the brushes are getting wider and you might even have played with it yourself. You begin lose friends of your own age. Now the Who's song of our generation doesn't seem so fine.

I wished I were religious but I'm not. I can only hope when I go that someone will say that I made their life a little bit happier at sometime. So to an old friend, 'Tim, you made my life a little happier.'

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Women

On today's BBC website's front page is news on two Labour women MPs. The 77 year old Gwyneth Dunwoody died and the 46 year old Angela Christine Smith didn't resign her junior government job after all.

I suspect both of these women are to the right of where I stand on many issues. One will be remembered for taking on the party leadership while the other will have to pull something out of the bag to not be remembered as yet another MP who backed down to Gordon Brown.

What is it with Gordon, does he batter people or what? Angela, if the change in the lowest tax rate is against your principles then go. Don't back down. Go to the police if he threatens you.

In 2001 the Labour leaders tried to move Gwyneth Dunwoody off of the chairmanship of the parliamentary transport committee as she was too independent for them. The Labour backbenchers rebelled and put her back. A bit more backbone today wouldn't go amiss.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

London Mayor, You're Havin' A Laugh

It looks like Boris Johnson is being found out rather quickly. I don't think keeping him hidden away will fool the London voters. I suspect that David Cameron and the Tory leadership never thought Boris, or BoJo to his friends, would seriously challenge Ken Livingstone.

Now he is in with a chance Cameron has problems. Does he keep Boris quiet and hope to win on an anti-Ken vote, but then face a year or so of extreme embarrassment as Boris is allowed to speak again as London's Mayor? Or does he let him speak and lose London? Maggie lost London and disbanded Ken's GLC so maybe that's his answer.

Never mind the principles Gordon

While Gordon tries to be the better Tory than Cameron I wonder if he remembers what he wrote in 1986? Already on the opposition front bench for Labour his biography of the Scottish socialist James Maxton was published. Below is Brown quoting Maxton.

"Round about Westminster, there hung nearly 800 years of hoary tradition. The rule driven into them from the day they arrived there was 'never mind about your political principles. Never mind about the suffering of the people you represent or your ideals, but for God's sake mind the etiquette of the place.' "

Who was writing about whom?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thai New Year

It's Songkran in Thailand today. That's the Thai New Year festival when everyone throws water over each other. Of course the traditional practice is to gently pour water over the hands of your elders, but out of the streets is pure fun and anarchy. It coincides with the hottest part of the year and it is very hot right now. So no walk this weekend or I might end up looking like the picture from Wikipedia below.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More on Boris

It seems that my view of the Jeremy Paxman's BBC London Mayor's Election debate is a fairly widespread one regarding Boris shooting himself in the foot. Anyway with the election only a couple of weeks away I thought I had better put a link in to a pro-Ken blog on the sidebar or you could just click here.

Watergate Problems

Here's a link to yesterday's Bangkok Post Outlook section article on a klong community at Wat Sai. Building a watergate had almost destroyed their traditional way of life. I suspect it wasn't so much the watergate as the bureaucratic control of the opening and closing of the gate. The men at the various gates do not have the authority to do this without the say so of someone behind a desk working office hours.

We see it over on this side of Bangkok also. At times when water could be let through to the river at low tide it isn't and areas upstream are flooding. Even on my own housing estate the pumps should be used to lower the lake levels before the rains start rather than after the roads are flooded. Many government departments are decentralising and maybe the Irrigation Department needs to as well. If the watergate workers became more like English lock-keepers and could control their gates it would be better. We might even get some klong tourism like they do in England with the narrow boat tours.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Boris The Unthinkable

I just watched Jeremy Paxman and the three main candidates for the London Mayor's job debating on the BBC. I must admit a few months ago I thought it was a no contest which recent polls show isn't the case. Also I thought the Tories had put Boris up as a bit of a joke candidate, just like when it was going to be Jeffrey Archer.

That second bit hasn't changed - he is a clown. God help London if he wins. This would be our own version of George Bush. How could this man ever have run a magazine? I'm not sure what his connection is with London, but running the city isn't on.

It should have been so easy for the two other candidates to attack Ken Livingstone on his record as he is the incumbent but instead neither could really get to him on anything including crime and the bendy busses. I think the reason is Ken is a good city administrator and fairly non-corrupt compared to most politicians.

The Liberal's Brain Paddick came across as bit too much of 'a plague on both your houses'. He will suffer I suspect with voters of my age group. Those who would vote for a policeman won't vote for a gay, and those who would vote for a gay won't vote for a policeman.

Bloody noses for the Chinese

I do think the Chinese leadership have done well, far better than Yeltsin did in Russia, in leading their country towards a mixed economy. What they fail to understand is that most people outside of China have a much higher regard for human rights than they have. Protests on the Oympic flame's route through London, Paris and San Francisco caught the Chinese government ill-prepared. Now it just sounds like bluster out of Beijing.

They have a bad record on human rights within their present day borders with both political opposition and minorities. Outside China their support for brutal regimes like Burma and Sudan upsets many. One of their problems is they have a tendency towards racism. 91.5% of China's population are ethnic Han according to Wikipedia. The government and many other Chinese often have a superior attitude when dealing with minorities in China and other Asians. It comes across as the elder brother or cousin to the smaller ethnic groups. You can see it going on in Tibet. In fact they behave in a similar way as the Brits did when we were a colonial power.

I wonder if there were no Beijing Olympics how many more Tibetans would be dead?

Klong Walk in Samut Prakan

Back on the east side of the Chao Phraya River last Sunday with about a 7 kilometer walk along the klongs of Samut Prakan. Heading west we reached the intersection of Sukhumvit and Srinakarin Roads so we were still outside of Samut Prakan's old town. Click on the Google Earth picture below for a better look at the route shown with yellow dots.

Again this week I had company which was good as it wasn't the most interesting canal I've walked. It was mainly rural with lots of fish farms and fairly sparse housing apart from the western end which had housing estates an a Chinese temple, Wat Bang Ping. We left the klongs for a short while to look for a signposted park but all we found was some fenced off marsh land. Hopefully the local government will protect it as it's important for drainage as well as nature.
Interesting finds pictured below were a pair of klong dredgers, solar powered pathway lamps and a polystyrene foam raft which had plants growing out of it although it was still in use. Click on the pictures for a better view.

Klong Dredgers
060408- 001

Solar Powered Lamps
060408- 004

Klong Raft
060408- 002

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sins of the Fathers

So Max Mosley is the son of Oswald Mosley. I didn't know that. I could have looked it up on Wikipedia as it's there.

For those who don't know, Max Mosley is president of something called the FIA which governs Formula 1 motor racing and other motor racing competitions. Oswald Mosley was of course the head of the pre and post WW2 fascist party in Britain. He was married to one of the Mitford sisters. Both of Max's parents were from the British aristocracy and friends of the rich and famous, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Max was bought up in the world of public (UK private) schools and Oxbridge universities.

I thought at first it was just my ignorance in not associating Max with his father. The two people I called after I found out also did not know, although they had seen Max's name in the papers many times and knew what he did. They were sensible people who usually have a better knowledge of current affairs than me.

We only found out because one of Murdoch's UK papers discovered a sex scandal involving Max Mosley, some prostitutes and Nazi uniforms. The paper, News of the World, is an embarrassment, with years of titillating the public on Sunday with sex scandals.

We shouldn't blame a son for the sins of his parents. That isn't fair. But if, say Ronnie Bigg's son became head of the FA how often would the papers be able to resist printing, "Joe Biggs, son of the Great Train Robber". Most that follow UK sport probably know that snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan's father is in prison for murder. So how come myself and the next two people I telephoned didn't know about Max Mosley.

On top of all this Max was, as a young man at least, and maybe still is a fascist. He went out on the streets campaigning for them. So why isn't it general public knowledge.? Usually I try to avoid conspiracy theories, but to me it looks like the old school tie and aristocrat networks at work.

What scares me about this is we could well have both an old Etonian London Mayor and a Tory cabinet filled with 'chaps' from the leading public schools in the near future. Everything will be decided behind closed doors and corruption will be on par with a banana republic. Don't trust these people.