Choose your own bitter pill

I found some really good videos on YouTube, but they are all downers. I don’t know if it’s wise to watch so much sadness and suffering in one go, so I suggest choosing a single theme from the following:
1. Sadistic dolphin killings in Wakayama, Japan
“Each year, the idyllic and peaceful setting of the village of Taiji in southern Japan is shattered by almost unspeakable cruelty as incredible pain and ultimate death is inflicted on defenseless dolphins.” I actually had no idea that this was taking place so close to where I lived – it’s in Wakayama… If I had known that just a couple years ago…
Dolphin Massacre in Japan
Japanese Massacre – Dolphin killing in Taiji Japan
FUCK cultural preservation and FUCK the limpdick Japanese government for not stepping up to these sadistic rednecks – this is just wrong.

2. Thai Brides – A glimpse into the system

“Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends is a television documentary series, in which Louis Theroux gives viewers the chance to get brief glimpses of things they wouldn’t normally come into contact with. In most cases this means interviewing people with extreme beliefs of some kind, or just generally belonging to subcultures not known to exist by most or just frowned upon.” Louis Theroux is the youngest son of famed travel writer Paul Theroux and this episode exposes some pretty pitiful circumstances and individuals.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
That said, I’d buy Lake Palmer a beer anytime.

50 Years of Skyline

If the grand tour of Japan proposed on this Nissan page doesn’t include a couple of timed laps around the Osaka sotokanjo, it just ain’t worth doing. I remember one of the early Japanese car magazines that featured a reader’s photo corner where you could send in copies of your speeding tickets – the reader with the highest recorded speed won some sort of prize. Ah, those were the days (before 50+ kmph over speeding tickets cost you your license plus a night in jail).

Banks and Blades and Monster Geckos

One of the coolest things about rural Thailand is the prevalence of bladed tool vendors outside of banks and government building selling scythes, spades, hatchets, axes, machetes, and cooking knives of all sizes and types. I went to the tax office with some Japanese teachers last week and as they waited in line inside, I was just outside the window closest to the tax clerks, handling what could basically be desribed as a ghetto battle axe, with a rusty, roughly machined blade welded to a steel pipe that served as a handle. I don’t know if the clerks saw me outside in my adolescent dwarf warrior state, but when I went in they let me cut to the front of the line…
This morning I bought a big ghetto cleaver with a big hole cut in the blade to hang it from a nail on the wall, just before I went inside Kasikorn Bank to pay the monthly on my car. The security guard saw me test the blade with my thumb, make the purchase, and stroll into the bank and didn’t bat an eye… Which is kind of amazing since if all I had was a nightstick and someone pulled this on me, I’d wail like a beleaguered bitch and surrender my castle:

Of course, it bears asking if the monster living under the eaves of my house is going to be impressed:

I’m guessing: Not!
BONUS TOKAY GECKO (Latin: Gekko Gecko @ Linnaeus, 1758) TRIVIA:

  • “Tokays are the least lovable of the geckos. They are known for their nasty temperament, cheerfully biting the hand that feeds, cleans or otherwise comes into anything resembling close proximity to them.” (link)
  • Vietnam vets know Tokay Geckos as “fuck you” lizards (link), due to their mating calls (which last all goddamn night, believe me)

A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer

Old news, but:

Diamond Age, based on Neal Stephenson’s best-selling novel The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, is a six-hour miniseries from Clooney and fellow executive producer Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Productions.
When a prominent member of society concludes that the futuristic civilization in which he lives is stifling creativity, he commissions an interactive book for his daughter that serves as a guide through a surreal alternate world. Stephenson will adapt his novel for the miniseries, the first time the Hugo and Nebula award winner has written for TV. “

Clooney, you say? As in, George Clooney? Um, yep.
And to think I was going to call my future daughter Nell…

All you ever wanted to know about using squat toilets

I’ve lived in Asia for over a decade, so I’m used to squat toilets (as opposed to western-style toilets that you sit on). I prefer squat toilets everywhere except for my own bathroom, actually. I know that doctors and health professionals say that you don’t “get germs” from other people via toilet seat transfer, but what can I say? They probably live sheltered lives and have never SEEN the disgusting state of nasty public toilet seats – you know, the ones yellowed from age, with huge welts from cigarette burns, cracked in three separate pieces and with stinky bits of shit and god-knows-what stuck to it. You know, the kind that make you feel invaded by germs just by looking at them… Anyway, this post is not about squat vs. western style toilets, because in general, you use what’s available at the time (an exception to this would be the few public restrooms that provide BOTH types of toilets, but that’s beyond the scope of this post).
One thing I have been wondering about ever since I first came to Thailand is, what are the exact mechanics for wiping your ass when there’s no paper, but an open tank of water and a plastic scoop? I mean, I kind of get the drift that Mr. Finger(s) will be touching Mr. Browneye at some point in the procedure, but how the hell is that sanitary if everyone is using the same source of water? Let me state that a bit more concisely: Are my shit crumbs mixing with your shit crumbs? My enquiring mind wanted to know!
Also, what about the spray hose found in some Thai toilets?
And why do I see Thai people coming out of the restroom with large wet spots on their bums? Does this not bother them? (It bothers the hell out of me…)
Well, last night I stumbled upon a thread on the Thaivisa forums that shed some light on this situation: Thai Toilet Etiquette
Go check it out. It may give you an idea of how to wipe your ass if there’s no toilet paper in the stall and you’ve forgotten to take along some tissues (although I can’t believe there are actually people taking off their pants and hanging them around their necks in public restrooms!).

Nam’s ducky cowboy hat

We came across a roadside vendor selling cowboy hats at the end of last year, and this one just stood out.
In related news, I found a hidden horse ranch on the dirt road behind our house.
Now all I need is a good set of spurs!
UPDATE (transcribed from Google Talk session with Adam):
me: oh wait i just realized something
it’s not a duck is it
Adam: no
me: oops
always thought it was a rubber ducky
Adam: nah, dude, its like a chicken in a biscuit
me: godammit
oh well the name stays
this is nam’s ducky hat godammit
Adam: cool