Saturday, August 8, 2009

Murdoch puts Fonzi out of his misery :)

In an attempt to keep having something to write about, I have decided to try doing a weekly post of things I found interesting over the past week.

I only thought up the idea this morning, so this weeks post will be very light on.

Murdoch plans to charge for all news websites:
I have not paid for a newspaper for years, so this could present a big change to my life - I expect the change will be that I won't read newspapers, and not that I will start paying for news:)

We intend to charge for all our news websites … If we’re successful, we’ll be followed by all media.
What will Fonzi do if The Nation and Bangkok Post follow suit - surely he will not pay them?
Although, perhaps it will not apply to The Nation and Bangkok Post because as Murdoch also said:
"Quality journalism is not cheap" (that excludes many newspapers, including many Murdoch papers:)

What's happening with the Thaksin asset seizure case?
The Supreme Court hearings started on 16th July, but since then there have been no reports (in the English media).
It's obviously going to take a long time, but I'm surprised there have been no more reports.
Are they 'closed' hearings? The attached report does not seem to indicate they are closed as they referred to the initial witness testimony's.
Does anyone know what's going on?

Police reshuffles, Sondhi assisination case etc:
Its hard to keep up with the annual police & military reshuffles, which as usual seem to be much more about politics & favours, than rewards under any sort of meritocracy.
Other bloggers have been doing a good job on the matter, but one thing that really struck me was the incestuous nature of things at the top levels of Thai society and institutions.

These are just off the top of my head, and I really do hope someone already has a database of the full extent of these relationships (or are inspired to compile one - Do you still have spare time, Mr Wrigley?):
- Police General Patcharawat Wongsuwan (now on holiday?) happens to be the brother of General Prawit Wongsuwan, the Defence Minister.
- Deputy PM Korbsak Sabhavasu and his brother Prapote, who happens to be deputy director of the Sufficiency Economy Office for Community Development

Not forgetting of course the Thaksin Shinawatra & Potjaman Damapong clan:
- ex PM Somchai Wongsawat (married to one of Thaksin's sisters)
- ex Army Chief, Chaisit Shinawatra (Thaksin's cousin)
- Pol Gen Priewphan Damapong, a deputy national police chief (brother of Potjaman)

I'm sure I am only just touching the tip of the iceberg here, and this does not even include the various provincial 'strongmen' nor another often alluded to 'network', so I really would like to see some aspiring (brave) Phd student write up a complete summary as I think it would make very interesting reading (perhaps it has already been done?)

Religion and Politics:
Interesting articles and comments here and here over at New Mandala.
My only comments are
- I think the Santi Asoke people really are in seige mentality, they think they are doing the right thing, but IMO they, and those of the red shirts who are dyed in the wool Thaksin supporters, are actually made from the same mould.
- Regarding the southern situation, due to the way some of the killings have been carried out, I am still wary that the religious aspect not be completely downplayed as merely Islam being employed as a 'resource that the militant movement mobilizes for political ends'.
- Regarding the ongoing "Red' v "Yellow' situation, despite reports of Abhisit's government being about reconciliation and harmonization and putting out political fires, I still think its a powderkeg, as robbing masses of their votes, repressing dissent, having closed secret trials, and handing out draconian jail sentences, will inevitably have consequences, no matter how much education the people receive from the military about democracy.
Overall I think the hero worshipping of Thaksin by some (many?) red shirts is misguided, but I still have sympathy for the reasons why they continue to choose to vote for him and his proxies.

In the meantime, I'm just gonna cross my fingers and hope sanity and humility somehow will gain credence and popularity, in Thailand, and in the world:)

Purpose of Life: Quick Update

Longer term followers of my ramblings will recall I struck out in pursuit of a New Hobby some months ago, and I suppose I am now in a position to report my findings, as my recent holiday gave me the time to catch up on nearly all the reading I had planned.

In my quest, I was drawn to the following people:

- Eckhart Tolle (read "A New Earth")

- E F Schumacher (read "A Guide for the Perplexed")

- J. Krishnamurti (listened to various speeches, and read the book "Total Freedom" which is a summary of his major themes)

- Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (read "Handbook for Mankind")

Don't ask me why I chose those particular authors, as all I can say is they were the ones that appealed to me when I came across them, however perhaps the main reason was that their styles were, to me, not too 'preaching' and dogmatic, and they each encouraged the individual to consider for themselves, and not just have blind faith in them.

Overall, at this stage, I have come to the conclusion that the purpose of my life is just to be the best human I can be, and to never stop trying to improve.
For me that does not mean being rich or famous, having many possessions, being smarter, faster, more beautiful, or whatever are the usual measures of 'success', but rather (for me) it's just to be able to show as much love as I can.
When I say love its not in the usual connotations of the word, and instead I mean in in the way Krishnamurti describes love as:
- Humility, Gentleness, Consideration, Patience & Courtesy.
(I know - I clearly have a long way to go in my journey:)

For me the lasting impressions from each author were the following:

from Eckhart Tolle:
There's no point in blaming one tribe, group, nation, race, gender for evil of the present or past, and realise "There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness"

also: If, in whatever you are doing you cannot be in a state of either Acceptance, Enjoyment or Enthusiasm, then you are likely to be doing harm to yourself and others.

from Krishnamurti:
In addition to the aforementioned concept of Love, I found Krishnamurti very helpful on the psycholgical aspects of what is happening in our minds.
How Thoughts from stored memories, knowledge (which is always limited) and experiences, create Desire & Fear (including comparisons/identifications) and how projecting to the future and back to the past keeps most of us in a state of Disorder.

I also particularly like his concept of 'Meditation', which I interpret as:
Having an attentive mind to all that is going on (that being Disorder from the stored memories/experiences)
It's not concentration, suppressing, controlling or measuring, but rather an underlying and hopefully constant awareness.

from E F Schumacher:
His 'Four levels of Being' made it clear how we should be pursuing developing our human characteristics, not pandering to our animal instincts.
Also his 'Four fields of Knowledge' clarified how we are usually only seeing half of any picture.
For a good summary of Schumachers great little book see this Wikipedia article.

from Buddhadasa:
The reality that things are Impermanent & Unsatisfactory - however I admit I am still struggling with the concept of Non-Selves/Non-Self
(the latter is hard for me to grasp because I still cannot help feeling there is more to a human than the sum of all the atoms of which they are comprised - its unlikely that any serious Buddhist scholars bother reading my blog, but if you do, can you please set me straight on this concept?)

Sorry that this post, and my conclusions, are not particularly scholarly, philosophical, intellectual, or spiritual, but I'm just not interested, nor capable, of such things at this stage of my journey, and perhaps I never will be:)