Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Year Ago

or

Finally, He Posts New Year's Pictures...from Last New Year's

As of yesterday I had been away from home for one year; we left on the 28th on an 18 hour flight and landed on the thirtieth. Dates are crazy. As of about 2-3 PM today I have been a resident of Thailand for a year. If you had asked me two years ago if I'd ever live in Thailand, I probably would have laughed at you and said no; and yet I have six more months.

365 days ago I landed in Suvarnabhumi airport (several weeks after it had been released by the PAD) and took a taxi in to Bangkok. We got situated in our hotel, vegged out for a couple of minutes, and then went in to the city to Central World mall.


They may not be a predominantly Christian country but Thais will certainly take any reason to throw a party or decorate like crazy. The malls are absolutely dripping in lights and displays for several weeks and huge trees are found both on the inside and the outside of the malls. They last through days after New Year's, which is why I have pictures of them even though I wasn't in Bangkok last year on the 25th.



New Years itself sees large celebrations, and last year we spent most of the night on a blocked off road in front of Central World. Normally stopping in the middle of this street would have gotten you turned to paste by several cars, and run over by a motorcycle taxi to boot. But for New Year's it is fertile ground for laying down, and camping out while you wait for the count down.



Finally midnight strikes and there is great applause and fireworks are launched, to great cheering and celebrating; the same the world over. If I closed my eyes during the applause and the explosions, I could have been home. Thirty seconds earlier, during the countdown, wasn't quite so familiar however given they were counting down in Thai.


video

I haven't talked a whole lot about New Year's eve. There was originally some debate as to what we were going to do. Nathan wanted to go to Central World and see what they were doing, while his friend Susie wanted to go to a club called Santika. Nathan pressed, and Susie isn't the argumentative sort, and so we went to the mall.

Due to a combination of faulty pyrotechnics, terrible insulation, fewer doors than required by fire code and plate glass windows, 59 people were killed and many more injured as Santika burned down. So yeah, I got to call my mom on New Year's day to reassure her I hadn't died in a horrible fire, no doubt making her quite confident of the time I would be spending in Bangkok.

After that things progressed, and you know how the rest of the year went. My next post will be more of a reflection on a year here, I just wanted to finally throw up the couple of pictures I had from last New Year's.

T-Minus 1 hour 20 minutes till New Year's 2010, Happy New Year's everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

But What If They're Acquitted?

or

The Rule of Law



Apparently I need to stop watching U.S. Television. Or at least reasonable facsimiles thereof, because I keep getting embroiled in wasting braincells on the hyped up controversies of Cable News I was so happy to leave behind (to adopt the Thai versions, which involve more riots, and fewer words I understand).

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to stand trial in New York City, they say, before immediately following the most ancient rule of steady and intelligent journalism: Running in little circles of panic and shouting. (When your faced with danger, when beset by doubt, run in little circles, wave your arms and shout!)

I think it is a terribly damning statement of the culture America has let itself adopt that the biggest story of a news cycle when we're trying to get health care for the approximately seventy four trillion people in the U.S. who can't afford it is people losing their shit about Obama bowing to a diminutive Japanese figurehead and someone getting a normal trial.

Giuliani was on Fox News talking about how it is a terrible idea, that the terrorists can use this to recruit. I was frothing at the mouth for those statements, unchecked by fact or reason as they are, before he dropped the big whammy: "We don't often take criminals back to the scene of the crime."

Now according to the Golden God of Information, Wikipedia, Rudy Giuliani graduated cum laude from the New York University School of Law in 1968. But clearly this is a malicious lie made up by trolls on the internet wishing to smear the reputation of the NYU School of Law, because I find it hard to imagine that you could spend 3 years there, make law review, and receive a J.D. with honors and not have heard of a couple of things.

Like Juris-fricking-diction. You know, that thing where you tend to be tried in the same area you committed the crime in, jackass? If I murder someone in Denver they normally don't send me to Portland for the trial!

Now, as my brother will be quick to point out, there are circumstances where you do move jurisdiction, such as when it can be proven that a defendant will not be able to get a fair or impartial trial in the area he should be tried in, necessitating the change to an area where they can. And had Rudy been arguing this point, that the likelihood of Sheikh Mohammed getting a totally impartial trial in New York is somewhere between 'My bed turning to solid gold in the next twenty minutes' and 'Me waking up in the morning in the body of a 75 year old German woman named Gertrude von Hohffensteffen', I would have respected him for it. As it stands, however, it strikes me as both a particularly moronic bit of political grandstanding and a particularly damning review of the legal curriculum at NYU.

But my favorite argument came, unsurprisingly, from the actual paid commentators of Fox News. Aside from the 'turning New York prisons into terrorist training camps' trite, my absolute favorite was run several times along these lines: 'What if he is acquitted' or 'What if it's thrown out for technicalities'. Because what it boils down to is 'What if we've fucked up so badly we don't get to kill him?'

We've had this guy since 2003, and we have him on record admitting that he was part of it. If we can't build a case that will stand up to cross examination, or if we blow this because we don't follow the rules, then we deserve to lose. We've had him for six years, people, and the government isn't that incompetent.

But more than that it bothers me we have to make this argument at all. You can't argue that someone shouldn't have a trial just because someone might not be found guilty, or we don't have a rule of law. I can even understand the necessity of military courts and tribunals, but I also think it's important to keep in our minds that the military tribunal should not be the first and most common court of the land. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed doesn't represent a recognized nation, state or army, and no state of war existed when his crimes were committed. It may well have been an act of war but first and foremost it was an attack on the citizens of this country in general and of New York City in particular, and it is in the name of those citizens that the trial should be held.

And all philosophical points aside, what do you think the odds are that a group of New Yorkers is going to find him not guilty in a building mere blocks away from Ground Zero? And, as John Stewart pointed out, what do you think would happen if he was found not guilty and they had to let him out on to the streets of New York City? There isn't a jurisdiction, a judge or a jury in America that would find him innocent. We could send Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to a trial by jury in the leper colony on island of Molokai, Hawaii and he would still get the chair. And when he goes in to prison, do you think its' more likely that he'll start a new gang, or get shanked in the prison yard? Let's be real here, people.

If we blow this case because we try to bend the rules then we deserve all of the scorn and dire consequences that will follow. The best way to combat the lies and hate spread by these terrorists is to give them this trial, to follow every law and procedure and inane little dance so that everything is above the board. Let them be shown that the American legal system works and extends its protection even to the lowest scum before they're found guilty in the single fairest trial we have ever produced. Let's show the world that the Rule of Law still has a place in America.

Because that is what this is about. This is the proper place to try him, in the court of the People. An open court, subject to oversight and regulation, not a shadowed council behind locked doors. We will not be judged based on how well we uphold that rule to the criminals we like, but to the ones we would like to string up from a tree. And if we don't do this, if we hide or lie or shadow ourselves on this issue, then we deserve the consequences. You cannot argue someone should not get their fair trial because they might get off, because then you don't have the rule of law. Then you have star chambers, and secret councils, and shadowy tribunals, and all of the things that should scare the shit out of people, as opposed to whether or not Obama is a socialist. Because if we give up this we have a lot of things, but they aren't American, and they certainly aren't Just.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Liberal

or

Ranting



I've been watching a lot of Glenn Beck and Fox News recently. Or at least I've been watching a lot of the coverage that the Daily Show has of Glenn Beck and Fox News, which I'll be the first to admit likely doesn't show me the whole spectrum of their opinions. But I've been trying to keep up with the health care debate to find out if I might actually have some when I go back to the states, and a lot of what has been said well and truly pisses me off.

I've been a card carrying Democrat since I registered to vote for the 2004 election, and anyone who was surprised I registered as a Democrat clearly hadn't been paying attention. And at not one point in the time I have been a member of the Democratic party have I ever woken up in the morning and said 'Golly, you know what I hate? Liberty. And freedom can suck my balls.' Not once.

I love freedom, and when it comes to liberty not only have I had the Kool-Aid but I've made some to share. I believe whole heartedly in a Government that cannot restrict my right to practice whatever religion I want, that cannot tell me what I have to believe, and that cannot tell me who I can or cannot get married to. I believe in a government whose right's extend to my bedroom or my body only in circumstances where I am trying to set them on fire or the rough equivalents, because dammit that's what freedom means. It means if I want to have gay sex up and down the states of California, Louisiana and Mississippi I can damn well do so; if I want to marry someone named Roger and adopt a child so long as we promise (the same as any other adoptive couple) not to screw the kid up substantially more than we individually are screwed up that Roger and I can have our chance to give that child years of therapy the same as everyone else. Not, to assuage my mother, that I'm planning on marrying someone named Roger.

It is not a contravention of liberty for the government to say 'Hey, if you can't afford to keep yourself from dying of the common cold every year, we'll pass a buck or two'. Do you think for a moment that a majority of Americans would choose to have their health care run by the government if they could help it? I wouldn't take a government issued piece of toilet paper if I could help it, since I'd probably have to sign for triplicate and wait in line for an hour, by which point the issue likely would have resolved itself in any case.

And I'm sorry, it isn't a dire Nazi-esque abrogation of your rights to have to pay five dollars a year to make sure fifty million Americans can afford to get a freaking flu shot and some preventive maintenance. While the GOP is railing about how much this is going to cost, let's remember how much a 500 million dollar and unto this point entirely defective missile defense program could buy at RiteAid; do you think we could get some chicken soup with all that money spent on wiretapping phones so the FBI knows exactly when I'm calling a phone sex line, dirty g-men that they are? I bet we could get at least a bowl, how about you.

We're accused of trying to force everyone to walk in lockstep with our morality, but it is the Catholic church in D.C. that is saying they will be unable to provide shelter and services if that city passes laws allowing same sex marriages as it has been talking about. Because paying for up to 1/6th of the U.S. population to be able to stop from getting the Herp is clearly the work of Lucifer, but holding tens of thousand of people hostage to your close minded morality simply because thinking about gay marriage makes you uncomfortably tingly is fine, Archbishop? Way to turn the other cheek you sanctimonious prig. Do you think Jesus is up there in heaven going "Way to go, that is exactly what I meant by 'turn the other cheek' and 'love thy neighbor'. When I talked to the Samaritans, who were pariahs from Jewish society for a difference in belief they were born in to, I totally would have just pimp slapped em if they had been gay."

But two things really get me. One of them I've been arguing for years, and as always one of the best views on it comes from the West Wing, which I will crib from heavily and without notation, MLA or Chicago style (haha, suck that liberal arts education). Liberal. When in the course of our history did Liberal become a bad word, and why in the hell did we let it happen?

Liberalism has been the driving force behind this country since day 1. Liberalism is challenging the status quo when it doesn't work to make it work better, and not just hanging on to something because it's how we've done it for a while now. Liberalism took a group of people in the British colony of America and made them say 'What if we actually had a say in the governance of this land we're on, and the people writing the laws have only seen in paintings'. Liberalism passed the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act when the industries that were poisoning our world had no desire to change the way it was. Liberalism gave women the right to vote, gave the same Medicare to our seniors that they love while going to town hall meetings and saying they don't support government health care.

And liberalism freed the slaves.

Yes, I went there. And yes it was a Republican President who freed the slaves, but under no definition ever set forth at the time would Abraham Lincoln have been conservative on the issue of slavery. Abraham Lincoln may have said some things that we scratch our heads at now but he was miles to the left of a majority of the country for a long time on his beliefs of slavery.

The Republican party was founded by liberals, by men who saw the status quo sucked musket balls and wanted to throw it out the window if that is what it took. It was founded by Democrats who were sick of the South's stagnation and control of the party, by Whigs who were tired of nobody wanting to even talk about slavery, and by Free Soilers who wanted the whole thing to stop. Men of conscience and character who were not afraid to look at the way things were and loudly say 'Bollocks'.

So by God in Heaven I am a Liberal and I am proud of it, because time and time again when there is a need for men of conscience and character to lead the country in to a new age, to say 'Hell no' to an outdated system that no longer protects the freedoms and liberties of our citizens, it will be the Liberals leading the charge. Because we are at the vanguard of rights for all citizens regardless of their race, their gender, their religion or their sexuality. Because we are willing to examine ideas from outside our experience and judge if they have merit, rather than dismissing them with a knee jerk ideological reaction. A true liberal can be in favor of sensible gun ownership, gay rights, small government where applicable, universal health care, and supporting the troops. And I am proud to be all of those things, I will always be proud to support those things, and I will no longer allow men of small mind and smaller character to take what I am and turn it in to a curse word.

And God Dammit if I see one more person comparing health care (universal, intergalactic, socialized, antisocial or otherwise) to the Nazis I am going to declare a Jewhad on their asses and just go sixteen different kinds of crazy, got it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Away With Darkness and Gloom

or

No, I'm not Depressed, why do you ask?


I sat out at a little bar on 101/1 (my soi) last night. It was a beautiful night, warm but with a cool breeze and the setting sun making the few clouds pink and purple. I had good, spicy food and a nice cool beer, and a decent book to read. It was a wonderful night, and highlights just how easy it is to have good times in Bangkok even without profundities of liquor and prostitution.

Of course 2 hours later there was so much rain I was half inspired to collect animals two by two, but the rapid weather changes just remind me of home.

After I got a couple of emails from my last several posts asking 'so how are things, really', I realized that perhaps my blog had been negative recently, and that was giving the wrong impression. So first and foremost, allow me to say:

I am having a lot of fun in Bangkok. 99% of the time I do not regret moving out here, and even though I am looking forward to the possibility of going home next July I do know there will be things I miss here for the rest of my life.

Are there things that I think are messed up here? Yes. I will not miss the idle wondering whether another political protest will turn into a giant clusterfuck. I will not miss the curious looks I get every time I get off at the Nana BTS station, with the locals wondering if I am another farang looking for a hooker (for the record, my embassy friends live near Nana).

I will not miss the truly silly situations I seem to get in to at school, the overly sensitive hippy dippy kids glove approach that makes me (the uber-liberal-sensitive-pinko) wince and long for a little bit of tough love. I won't miss the raise I was supposed to but never got, or the particular breed of fly or ant that seems to come from my upstairs neighbor in to my apartment. Or the cockroaches the size of my thumb.

I won't miss the smell of the city, or the flooding, or the trash; it might be kind of nice, I concede, to come back to a city where 'City Planning' is more than the punchline to a joke, and the sidewalks do not have more protrusions than a military obstacle course.

But when I do come home there are going to be a whole host of things that I will miss about Bangkok and Thailand. Some of them are the comforts, some of them are more emotional or ephemeral.

Bangkok is the first city in which I have had my own apartment. No roommates, not paid for by my parents or our student loans or a combination of the two, but an apartment paid for entirely out of my pocket and entirely in my own name. Sure it is the size of a hotel room and no kitchen, but it is mine.

Teaching at Glory is the first job I've ever gotten as a Bachelor of Arts, since I got it after I graduated. Sears I was essentially graduated for, but given their hiring policy required a pulse and we think did not exclude someone who wanted to eat the still beating heart of every third customer, it doesn't count. This job required me to have gone to school and gotten my silly and meaningless degree, rather than just thinking it was cute I had it.

And this is the first time I have lived more than an hour away from my parents in my life (not accounting for traffic). I didn't go to college across the country, and even with crazy stupid I-25 traffic I was still no more than two hours away. This is the first time I've been away and as close to totally on my own as I am likely to ever get.

Beyond those emotional milestones there are also the myriad of comforts that Bangkok offers. It is October, and when Denver is always on edge for a blizzard it has not been below 70 degrees farenheit here. We had an outdoor SCA event in October and were not freezing, or running from precipitation.

I can have a feast of a meal, as I did yesterday, and spend a pittance. A plate of ka pow gai (spelling incorrect, a chicken stir fry with rice), a big beer, two cokes, a plate of som tam (spicy papaya salad) and sticky rice all for six dollars. And that was going absolutely wild; I can eat for a dollar and twenty five cents a day.

I like not having a car, and my life is so much cheaper for it. If I could realistically ditch my clunker back in the States and survive, I would. As limited and in need of expansion as Bangkok's mass transit system is, between cheap taxis and a skytrain and the subway, I can get anywhere I need to go in a good amount of time for a variable amount of money. The same cannot be said of getting places in the Denver Metro area. During rush hour the skytrains show up every three minutes, as compared to fifteen or thirty for Denver. And they run from 5 AM until 11 PM.

Thai movie theaters are without peer in comfort, and as much as you want to spend there is that much more comfort. A Thai movie will never be oversold on accident because there are assigned seats; you may get a bad seat, but you have that choice going in. And if you want to spend 600 baht a person and get a huge sofa sleeper instead, well there are theaters that offer that.

Thai malls make American malls look small, diseased, and uninspired. Central World makes the Mall of America look like it was designed by people with limited imagination and small, pitiful dreams. Without fail every Thai movie theater has at least one food court, restaurant row and either a bowling alley or a movie theater. A majority of them, at least the big ones (MBK, Siam Paragon, Central World) have both, or more than one. And the malls are more than just clothing outlets with a Sbarro's (I'm looking at you, Park Meadows). Siam Paragon and Siam Emporium are the upper crust malls, Central World is the everything mall, MBK is the bargain and teen and cell phone mall, while Pantip is the Electronics Mall. Pantip might have a couple of clothing stores, but you go there to buy a laptop or a camera. Even Cherry Creek is primarily clothing stores or bedding/housewares stores with some other things thrown in.

I never figured how Nathan could be bored in Denver. I moved from Denver to Greeley when I went to University and that was quite an adjustment; getting used to the idea that if I wasn't out drinking or eating, the town closed at like 9 PM; certain movies would never open in Greeley, which was new. Moving back to Denver was coming back to the big city after a long absence, being back in a city where there were multiple play houses and concert venues and there was hardly ever a movie that didn't open there.

And then Bangkok, which is one of the great metropolises of the world. I can see now how Denver would seem restricting when no matter what you want to do there is some way of doing it until about 4 AM in Bangkok. The only time I have ever seen things really closed is a brief stretch from 4 AM until 4:30 AM when I came back from Laos the second time. Other than that New York cannot have anything on Bangkok for being the City that Never Sleeps, because Bangkok must be one hell of a power napper not to collapse in a heap.

I live, I work, I play. I am the founding seneschal of an SCA group where there has never been an SCA group before. I autocratted (ran) the first event in the group, even if I didn't win the Coronet. I have seen things maybe one percent of America will ever see, and done things no one I know has ever done. I have had a seder in Bangkok, celebrated Songkran (even though this one was Black Songkran), and toasted events and milestones (birthday, first sca group) with great people I respect in settings both high and low in this great city.

So I am not alone, or depressed, or bitter and raging against the world. Do I wish that Brits would come over here and be less stupid so they don't paint us all with the brush of their whiteness? Yes. But except for the fact that my family is elsewhere is there anywhere else I'd rather be?

Absolutely not.

Matt/Uji

Monday, September 07, 2009

Situational Intelligence


I frequently joked when I worked at Sears, a time of my life I prefer not to discuss if possible, that whenever someone entered a retail or service space they lose 50 IQ points, and I very rarely received any arguments to the contrary. This has led, in various places and with various people, to amusing situations such as:

'Should I take my car to the pedestrian mall?'

An argument where I vigorously tried to dissuade someone from believing the 1 1/2 carat gold connectors at the end of a 'premium' HD Cable did anything.

Having to explain approximately 4,754,422 times that if you had cable you did not need a digital converter box. Note that for those of you who know the Sears I worked at this is approximately four million seven hundred and fifty four thousand more customers than we actually had, but sometimes we had to explain it twice.

Dad being told that a woman didn't want a book on Taoism (pronounced correctly), but a book on Taoism (pronounced incorrectly)

Every Sears Protection Agreement sale ever (although this usually requires 75+ points of IQ loss).

And Nathan once attempting for a half an hour to make someone understand the difference between a digital converter and a DVD in the ultimate absurdist take on 'You can't get there from here.'

I thought, as I am want to do, that surely there could be no greater example of situational or locational intelligence loss as the shoppers at Sears and other retail stores experience. And yet, as happens so frequently in my life, I was proven wrong simply by continuing to exist, as if nature went out of it's way to provide further examples. Two things challenged this assertion.

First off, I began teaching. The whole world of education must be insane if the rest of it is anything like some of the environments that we run in to at Glory. I have received so many weird and unusual complaints that I have felt the need to make several blog posts and Facebook updates on the subject. Parents who are totally reasonable in the outside world who lose it when you start dealing with their precious little flowers.

And secondly I read an article stating that based on the total number of deaths per year, Thailand is the most lethal tourist spot for Britons. Accompanying the article was vox populi commentary weighing in on why this was so. The general consensus was that more than anyone else in the world or anywhere else in the world, when British people come to Thailand they just totally lose their shit.

Drunk driving, blithely wandering around bad parts of town, starting fights, buying drugs...the commentary section was this litany about the sins of Brits when they come to Thailand. Now in their defense this same litany could be given for any nation that visits Thailand, and it is easier to visit Thailand from the U.K. then from America, but it made me think.

The most dangerous state of mind for your IQ level is not 'I need to buy a plasma tv', but apparently 'I'm on vacation'. It is one of the fascinating things about living abroad, is getting to see just how many people do come out and throw away any standards of politeness or etiquette. My first week here with Nathan we were eating at a burrito shop in a mall, with a woman yelling at the serving staff because they brought her a smoothie not a Daquiri, and where the hell was her Tequila.

Important to note above and beyond the fact that she was using the same tones for a lack of liquor that people use when McDonalds gives them a fried chicken head in their McNuggets was the fact that it was 11:30 AM, and she was there with husband and more importantly child.

This ties in to my commentary on me-generations, but apparently the modern western world has decided that the moment you are on vacation the wheels of the universe exist only to supply you with a constant stream of entertainment, food and alcohol. I have seen just staggering displays towards local culture and people by tourists in my time, a distinction that you only really get to see when you live in a place versus visiting there.

Vacation is about enjoying yourself, I don't deny that. My Mom and Step-Dad like going to lighthouses. I personally find that terminally boring, but I don't deny them their dubious coastal pleasures. But that light-bearing enjoyment doesn't come at the expense of anyone who has to deal with them, except maybe Sean if he doesn't learn to love the lighthouse. Why have we decided that when we travel we get to be stupid, lazy and indolent?

I remember arguing when I was in France with someone on the trip, can't remember who, why it was unreasonable for them to expect all the signs and people at the Eiffel Tower to be in or speak English. As much as you'd think common sense would make it a cliche, I have heard many a farang out here using the 'speak slowly and loudly' method of translation.

And we wonder why people think we're stupid?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Somewhere the Greatest Generation is Weeping...

or

When the next generation makes me look like a hard-ass, there is something wrong here...


I posted on my Facebook a while back that I had been told by the school that I was no longer allowed to cross out student's wrong answers, but was instead to circle them, because seeing a page with lots of crossed out answers would make the children feel bad. My question of why our response should be 'I'm sorry that seeing 9 out of every 10 questions crossed out made you feel bad, I'll circle them next time' as opposed to 'Well, if you don't want to see so many things crossed out then you should study more' went largely unanswered.

My first response to this was of course disbelief. I think that if I had told my teachers that they should not cross out answers because it made me feel bad, they would have responded exactly as I was want to; that the responsibility for their being so many red marks on my paper was not their responsibility but mine, and only I had the power to change it. If my parents had done the same, the answer would probably have been a more polite version of the same.

But here's the thing I realized: My parents wouldn't have gone to the school to make that complaint. With all the love of good parents they would have told me to study more if I wanted to see fewer marks on the sheet, and that it was the teacher's job to mark my answers wrong. And more importantly than the realization that my parents, who would go to bat for me for anything major that I needed, wouldn't have considered this a real complaint was this realization: That among all of the silly complaints I did have about school, this was never one of them.

I was never exactly a big tough guy during school, physically or mentally. The most common appellations I give to myself in conversation are 'doughy' 'pasty' and 'Jewboy', the last one not indicating lack of emotional toughness as much as a lack of ability to be a professional sport's star (because that's all that stands in my way). I've learned to have a pretty thick skin about a lot of things, but for a lot of years that wasn't true. I was very much desperate to be accepted, and totally retarded on how I went about it, while at the same time trying to hide that behind my (self-inflated) brilliance.

So what does it say that I apparently had, at my most emotionally frail, more emotional resilience than the kids at my school?

When I posted that Mom said that she was told the same thing, with the additional caveat that she couldn't use red pens any more for the same reason. I did not have one person comment to me that they supported this, and yet if it is infecting both Bangkok and Denver (not known for similarities or closeness), it must be fairly epidemic.

I think it's sad that the next generation doesn't have any appreciation of work or sacrifice, and I think it is sad that someone from the first mega-Instant Gratification generation is the one saying it. It makes me feel incredibly old to say, but how have we come to a generation that seems to have no concept of sacrifice for gain or reward for effort?

I realize that it is the fault of my generation and the one immediately before me. For a long time I was very self-centered and spoiled in that way, but I went to college and kind of mellowed the heck out (although I still blog, which seems to be the ultimate act of net vanity). If I hadn't had that mellowing out and space to examine myself, I can easily see me passing on virtues to my theoretical children that would lead to situations like this.

Add to this that Glory does not serve a poor demographic in general, given that our base cost is 60,000 per three month term when a lot of the people in the city live on 6,000 a month, and we are serving a solidly upper middle class group of people. The upper middle class and the lower upper class (confused yet?) have not traditionally been known for their restraint or humility, and between sports classes and private tutoring and easy to get out of mandatory military service and not seeing anything crossed out on their paper any more, I don't think there is a lot of time for these lessons to be imparted to the kids I teach.

I never had a great work ethic, and I still struggle with a finely tuned tendency towards procrastination, but at least I'm self-aware enough to recognize that I am not owed everything in life for nothing (although I'd like to be), and that the hardships I suffer are generally of my own making (although I'd like them not to be). While I did get the chance to move to Thailand and go to various Asian nations because of it, I recognize that I didn't work hard in college and so I ended up working at Sears, and had to pretty much leave the country to get serious professional experience.

I know I'm not the only one who cares that we are training a generation of whiners and sissies, and I'm not sure what I can do about it. I just know that every time we've needed to pull something major out in the USA, in the World, in the whole of History, it has come through hard work and sacrifice; nothing is ever given to us on a silver platter. And maybe it's just that I'm in this now; maybe the Greatest Generation were whiners before World War II and just got their shit together for a couple of years there. But I just wonder what we'll be willing to sacrifice in 40 years, when all of our leaders had to be protected from the evil of crossed out wrong answers?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Loss of Lions


News is still coming in on exactly where and when, but CNN is reporting that Senator Ted Kennedy died this evening U.S. time, succumbing to his fight with brain cancer.

Even though he had known for months it is still tragic, the passing both of one of the last lions of the left in the U.S. Senate and the end to the political dynasty that lasted from Camelot through Iraq. For many people who did not grow up in the Kennedy generation, Edward Kennedy was the only link to a near mythic time and to two of the tragedies that rocked our country in the 1960s, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.

No matter how you feel about his politics it is safe to say that one of the last of the old guard of the Senate has passed away, and a dynasty is truly at an end. We mourn the loss of Edward Kennedy.
Wenn es Dienstag ist, muss es Zeit für Lappalien sein!


(If it is Tuesday...)

When Nathan was here we tried valiantly to find a trivia game, but struck out on the two we tried. One said over the phone they had stopped, the other said that when we got there and were greeted by their creepy midget dressed as a Leprechaun.

However, once he returned to the States Nathan came through, and found trivia at The Londoner Pub. A nice place that brews it's own (decent) beer, a little expensive for dinner but an entertaining trivia round. We came in 7th out of 12th, decent for our first time.

So here are (some of) the questions! There were 75 questions; some I can't remember, and some relied on music or pictures so we couldn't transcribe. Answers to follow at the end

1) In what year did the British reach an agreement to establish a trading post in Singapore?

2) Who starred as Rick Decker in Blade Runner?

3) With what country does Austria share its' shortest land border?

4) With what 3 countries does Vietnam have a border?

5) In 1997 what country changed its' mailboxes from red to green?

6) Where did the QE1 burn down and sink?

7) If you write the numbers from 1 to 100, how many times do you use the number 9?

8) What U.S. University is home to the Fighting Irish? (Easy for us, but there were a lot of Brits at the Pub)

9) Which of the following numbers is not a prime: 319, 521, 103

10) According to Warhol, how many minutes of fame do you get?

11) What U.K. city is known as the 'Granite City'?

12) In which Asian country was the Rickshaw invented?

13) What color is Cerulean?

14) How long is a nano second?

15) In 'Gone with the Wind' what was the name of Scarlett O'Hara's home?

16) On which continent is the nation of Israel on?

17) What was the name of the terrorist group responsible for the murder of the Israeli Olympians at the 1972 Munich Olympics?

18) In what year were the Rome Olympics, which is also the year Ben Hur won Best Picture at the Academy Awards?

19) How many years in prison did the gang of 12 get for the 'Great Train Robbery' in 1964?

20) What North African City's name means 'White House' in Spanish?

21) What was the first Asian country to host a Formula One (F1) race?

22) What is Absolute Zero in Farenheit, to the nearest 10 degrees?

23) If you go two miles south, two miles east and two miles north and end up where you started, where are you?

At the end of each round was a question where you had to name 4 things, and then get 2 bonus points for telling what the Common Denominator (theme) was.

24) A) Crack or Crevasse
B) A controlled opening
C) Main highway or road
D) A group of people convened for a specific purpose or task
THEME:

25) 1) End
2) An outer garment
3) A false appearance of quality
4) To grow or increase in prosperity
THEME:

26) 1) A.K.A. Kit Walker
2) Varying by a slight degree
3) Fictional terrorist organization
4) Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
THEME:










ANSWERS:

1) 1819
2) Harrison Ford
3) Lichtenstein (Like 34 kilometers)
4) Laos, Cambodia and China
5) Hong Kong, China
6) Hong Kong, at the time not China
7) 20 (9, 19, 29, 39, 49, 59, 69, 79, 89 and then 90-99)
8) Notre Dame
9) 319
10) 15
11) Aberdeen
12) Japan
13) Blue
14) One billionth of a second
15) Tara
16) Asia
17) Black September
18) 1960
19) 307, we guessed 312 and won a free round of bad drinks
20) Casablanca
21) Japan
22) -459.67 degrees, we guessed 450. Made it by .33
23) North Pole
24) A) Vein B) Valve C) Artery D) Chamber THEME: Parts of the heart
25) A) Finish B) Coat C) Gloss or Veneer D) Wax THEME: Things you do to furniture or a car
26) A) The Phantom B) Shade C) SPECTRE D) The Shadow THEME: Ghosts.