I’m administering the first of four speaking tests this week, starting from the lowest performers in class first. I’m way behind schedule and have only finished seven out of forty-three… This is a special kind of hell.

Boy (?) Scouts

I know that boy scout leaders in other countries wear khaki uniforms as well, but it’s just too common of a sight in Thailand. They take their scout positions very seriously here, and the thing that gets me is that the scout leader uniform is just a giant version of the ones worn by the scouts themselves. So sometimes I’ll be attending some official function with school presidents and deans and other demigods-in-their-own-mind and some poindexter in a half-length khaki uniform and clip-on tie will amble up on stage and start presenting awards or whatever… It’s really quite trippy.

I guess the moral of this story is that if you happen to come across a sweaty, middle-aged man in Thailand dressed like a little boy scout, complete with brimmed hat and fake leather shoes, don’t worry! He’s not a pedobear! He’s a leader of… boys!

Tobita Shinchi Rap

I’ve been wanting to post this video for some time now, but forgot where I put the link. It is, quite simply, brilliant:

For those who don’t know, Tobita Shinchi is one of the historical red light districts in Osaka. Located in Nishinari-ku, the brothels operate to this day, largely unaffected by anti-prostitution laws and the police. It is the largest brothel district in Kansai.

The equivalent of madames stand in the genkan (entryways) of their homes and beckon passers-by to come in with clapping and hand gestures, ostensibly “for a meal” where they might just happen to “hit it off” with one of the young women living there. This is how they skirt around the law.

Comparisons are often made between Tobita and Amsterdam, but I have to say that the former is not geared toward tourism – it’s scary walking down the small streets at night, and foreigners that hang around there are usually not up to any good. The safest way to check it out is by car, behind tinted windows. This often elicits the flashiest performances by the madames trying to get business.

INN-DARA SMS Spammers deserve to die

I use text messaging on my mobile quite sparingly, as is the case with voice calls as well, since my life has become devoted to babies. So it’s a real irritation that some stupid fucking Thai celebrity news service called INN-Dara has been spamming me with 15-20 messages every day for the past two weeks; it’s basically caused me to stop checking messages altogether.

I’m on DTAC, and all the other people I know receiving this spam are also on DTAC. However, calling DTAC to complain has proved unhelpful – they simply say that this is a “service” that will cut off automatically after 15 days if we don’t subscribe.

DTAC and INN-Dara, please take notice: NOBODY LIKES YOUR FUCKING SPAM! PLEASE CHOKE ON FETID RAT DROPPINGS AND DIE HORRIBLY, SLOWLY, AND PREFERABLY AWAY FROM THE VIEW OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN (and don’t let us know about your funeral by text message, either – nobody wants to go).

UPDATE: Of course, within seconds of publishing this post, I received a new message from INN-DARA. Aaaaaaaargh!! Karma’s a bitch, bitches!

UPDATE: I’ve found out how to unsubscribe from this irritating as hell service (a tested solution). From your DTAC phone, dial *74852 and press the call button. You should receive a final message that you have unsubscribed. If you are on another mobile carrier such as True Move or AIS, or are subscribed to another “service” perpetrated by the spammers at INN News, refer to the chart below (I’m keeping it on my server so as not to send these fuckers any traffic). What really gets to me is that DTAC won’t tell you how to unsubscribe; it’s quite obvious they are getting paid to allow this spam on their network.

Dropbox vs. Google Docs for document backup

Hey, that rhymes, yo.

Before Dropbox came along (I actually tried 3 or 4 similar services, but Dropbox was the best), I was backing up all of my Office documents (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint) in Google docs, which replaced the time-honored practice of e-mailing documents to myself… As it turns out, I was better off doing just that, because I recently discovered that a lot of the formatting in the documents (particularly tables and tabs) were being corrupted by Google docs, whereas I haven’t had a problem with e-mail attachments for many years.

But all of that is moot now because Dropbox has largely replaced both e-mail backups and flash drive transfers (for “small” files) between all of my PCs. Don’t get me wrong, I still use Google docs on a regular basis and prefer it to any other Microsoft Office alternative (although not to Office itself), but for pre-existing Office document backup and fidelity, I prefer Dropbox.

An Island of 31 Square Miles

15 years ago, there were rumors of a lone wild man living in the Amazon forest. The rumors were confirmed by sightings and, eventually, contact by Brazilian government officials who determined that he was the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe.

To protect him, they created a 31 square mile sanctuary which was meant to stop the encroachment of land-hungry settlers and loggers.

This is one of the most interesting things I’ve read in a while and you can check it out over at Slate: The Most Isolated Man on the Planet