RWI (Reporters Without Irony)

Good to have The New York Times when you need to know that toilet paper should not be made from paper. Seems like the Times folks used a lot of paper to tell readers that toilet paper takes a lot of, well, paper, and that means trees. nytrecyc Unlike other products that don’t use trees of course.

Last line:

However, hope is on the horizon, if Hollywood is any indicator. The Times reported the Academy Awards ceremony last weekend used 100 percent recycled toilet paper at the Kodak Theater’s restrooms.

Now THERE is a job opportunity the unwitting, totally unironic Times reporter and editors have opened: Toilet paper recycler. They even have a great URL ending:

… earth/26charmin.html

Charming indeed.

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World ends, rich suffer most

So the Australians, it seems are so impoverished, so deeply in economic crisis, so utterly doomed, that they have to sell off their basic life necessities just to assure survival for one more miserable day. From Sydney, a heart-rending tragedy unfolds:

Luxury car dealer Normal Elkordi has never seen it this bad — financial high-flyers feeling the pinch of the global economic meltdown scrambling to sell their Ferraris for a loss.

“We’re not talking Holdens or Fords here, we’re talking Aston Martins, we’re talking Ferraris… I’ve never seen it like this before.”

As anxiety grips world financial markets and stock prices crash, the Sydney-based dealer is seeing increasing numbers of young executives come into his showroom, hoping to offload their near-new prestige autos.

It’s hard to imagine anything worse than having to sell your Ferrari in order to buy bread for your shoeless children. Surely hearts around the world go out to the suddenly impoverished people of Sydney, a lovely city that does not deserve such sudden and unpredictable disaster.

Yet it was only 11 years ago that a similar and terrible event was unfolding in Thailand. Thais really hated the IMF back then for their austerity measures, and burned a lot of effigies. But they also adapted.

Welcome to the “Market of the Formerly Rich,” a weekend affair where the baubles that sparkled so brightly during Thailand’s boom times are being sold off to pay the bills come due.

… The weekend market was the brainchild of a local Mercedes dealer who had a little time on his hands as the country slipped into recession.

Wasun Panon, who set up the market at his auto showroom, says he recognized that Thais were guilty of over-consumption, and he wanted to campaign for people to stop buying more new things, especially imported goods.

“We have bought too much of everything,” Wasun says. “Even if we stop buying things for a year or so, we’ll still have plenty to use that’s already here inside our country.”

Things were pretty tough in Thailand 11 years ago. The baht devalued from 25 to 50 per US dollar in a couple of months, companies shed jobs or just folded up, with more than 50 banks and finance companies going under.

It’s interesting that Thailand today is well back on its feet. The former market of the formerly rich is now a yuppie showplace called Log Home, filled with mostly restaurants, mostly expensive. loghome1

If you’ve worried about the tragic victims of the closing of Thong Lor Benz, fear not. No recession, no economic crisis will crush the love of the Mercedes Benz, not in Thailand at least.

So buck up Australia. You might not get that particular Ferrari back, but there are lots more where that one came from.

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Grab your seats

If you were there for the biggest Beatles concert on August 15, 1965, you can buy an actual  pair of seats from Shea Stadium.beat2

They’ve built a new stadium in New York, and the city is tearing down the baseball stadium where the Fab Four played. You can purchase two connected seats for only $869 (plus shipping) and the baseball team’s share of the net proceeds will go to charity.

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Samak and Burma, good buddies?

The Censorship Bureau of Burma (a government group, if that’s not already clear) has banned all coverage of demonstrations taking place in Thailand.

The website Irrawaddy.org (registration recently required) reports that the delayed CNN broadcasts allowed on Burma’s tiny 19-channel Family Entertainment pay-TV system, are shown only after they are stripped of all news about Thailand, which these days is only about the anti-government protests. Family Entertainment is a joint venture of the Forever Group and the Orwellian Ministry of “Information”.

“We (also) can’t report it in our magazine,” an editor in Burma wrote to the Irrawaddy website.

What is also not clear is the primary reason for the censorship. It could be that authorities fear that Thais will give Burmese people the idea of demonstrating peacefully against their government. Or it could just be a kind payback to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who has savaged pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, praised the military junta and explained to the world the leaders meditate, and are good men because they are obviously deeply religious Buddhists.

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More ‘Wanted’ posters

The Thaksin posters have got such wide distribution in both their real and their fake form.

So it’s only fitting the wanted posters for the disloyal oppostion get aired as well. Here are 7 of the 9 wanted posters for the leaders of the Yellow-Crested Loons. Senior leaders Sondhi Lim and the professed Buddhist for violence Major General Chamlong Srimuang are the top two on our poster.

This single poster (click for a large-size version) is by the Institute for Important Studies. The original posters were put on the web by the always readable Thai-language blog Thai E-News.

Seven wanted PAD leaders

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Only in America…

… do politicians mess with good songs.

Yes even here in Bangkok the chosen one was chosen and walked on water live.barackspeech

The second Obama stopped talking, the atmosphere-monkeys cranked up the country hit Only in America by Brooks and Dunn. I guess because, you know, Chicago politicians are real country fans. Full lyrics here:

But this song is a bit like Bruce Springsteen’s Born in America — the title says a lot but the words say more.

As Obama waved and basked and probably wished he had a cigarette for the post-orgasmic glow of Mile High, the singers reached the important part…

A welder’s son and a banker’s daughter,

All they want is everything.

She came out here to be an actress.

He was the singer in a band…

And the music immediately and suddenly stopped. That is because the next lines of the song is not about how these two folks attained their dream in Los Angeles but rather:

They just might go back to Oklahoma

And talk about the stars they could have been.

Only in America….

No one would suggest Obama might have to try for his dream and fail, after all, not even in someone else’s song.

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When journalists can’t spell

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand last Friday (Aug 18) presented a new documentary on the greatest cliche in Southeast Asian history: the “secret war” in Laos.

In The Most Secret Place On Earth, key players of the Secret War – former CIA agents, American pilots, Laotian fighters and war reporters – take us on a journey into the physical heart of the conflict: Top secret Long Cheng, where the CIA built its headquarters in 1962. It was from this base that the Secret War was largely planned and executed. As the war dragged on, Long Cheng became the busiest airbase in the world and a major centre for the global opium and heroin trade.

Well, at least the club executives said it was a documentary. Look carefully at the brochure, however.

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