Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yes I'm Still Here.

Had Girlfriend's children and a friend from England staying with me over the last mont so a bit busy. Will update soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Note on Iraq

Sorry for the recent delay. Sometime paradise is to compelling to blog!

Before I return to bloggin about the joys of Thailand, a note of seriousness.

PREFIX for those who claim the 2nd Iraq war was "illegal" and other such stuff.
Iraq violated the terms of the cease fire agreement at the end of the 1st Gulf War. In fact, they violated the terms on a daily basis.Without all the drama of WMDs and whatever else it's that simple: The 1st war NEVER ended and a state of conflict continued to exist between Iraq and the allies form the 1st war.

Also, once The UN Security council authorized force in the 1st war they cannot stop the primary parties from continuing the fight without a direct revocation of that authorization. Colin powell giving speeches and presenting what in hindsight looks like dubious evidence of WMD production was all a show and completely unnecesary from a legal standpoint. It was necesary from a political standpoint in that The Bush admin. was trying to muster public support and using the corrupt institution of The UN as an available avenue.

That covers those who like to throw out propaganda phrases,"illegal war," instead of argument.

Prior to the war, I was in favour of the invasion. Not for grand political reasons or grand religious reasons. I was in favour because I saw with my own eyes the absolute face of evil one day (around 2000/1) in the Iraqi/Kuwait desert. That face WAS Saddams Republican Guard. Thieving, coldblooded, murderers. So I supported the invasion but was still uneasy in that I wasn't sure Bush and co. had a plan for after the military victory. Now my fears have come to their worst realizations.

Now back to the topic (justifications for a war which was already entered into 4 years ago aside):

I agree with some that the "war" proper was already fought and won. US Forces are now engaged in a police/nationbuilding/stabilization role for which they are neither trained nor equipped.

US Military forces, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen are the Best trained and equipped military force that humanity has ever seen. They are the best at what they are trained to do. (This is said with much much respect for numerous British Forces I also had the honour of working with. They just dont have the same scale of force) BUT, one needs to ask the question, "What are they trained and equipped to do?"

They are trained to kill. It's that simple.
If you want a simpler answer: They are trained to put ordnance on target.
And guess what, they are great at it. Whether it be the pilot dropping a laser guided bomb or the Marine rifleman in a small unit firefight, they do that job exceeding well. Why? Because the treasure and experience of ou nation was put behind them in the training and equipment.

Now what are they doing?
Learning on the fly to conduct counter insurgency?
This is a job suited for either guerrillas or Special Forces NOT GI Joe regular army/marine.

Policing a nation which either can't or won't police itself?
This is a job for dedicated, experienced peacekeepers or POLICEMEN.

Building a nation?
This is a job for politicians and diplomats NOT soldiers/sailors/marines/airmen.

Taking crash courses in IED defusement?
This is a job for dedicated EOD (explosive ordnance personell) trained workers.

Occupying a restless nation which is becoming more and more hostile to our prescence?
This has never been either something our forces are either good at or wish to do.

So where does that leave us? Well it leaves the military holding a giant bag (dropped in their laps by politicians with minimal forethought) containing a giant [censored] sandwich and expecting them to take a bite every single day.

When I hear talk from the left about "End your illegal occupation! End your war of aggression!" all I hear is blah blah blah with no readily available solutions or plans.

When I hear talk from the right with their "Don't cut and run!" "Stay the course! "We're winning!" "It's getting better!" "One more push!" all I hear is blah blah blah blah with only poor or self decieving solutions.

IOW Both sides smell like they are full of BS and we have still left our troops in the middle with the [censored] sandwich.

I don't proclaim to have all the answers for extracting ourselves from this horrid situation. I have some suggestions though.

1) Stop the feckin talking points meaningless political BS from both sides.

2) Have realist military and political leaders (from every spectrum) examine it in a nonbiased light. (Yeah yeah I know, that's what the Baker Iraq commision was supposed to do) Oh yeah and lets try to do it right this time.

3)Lets start asking soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen for their suggestions. (Not another fecking general or admiral with a career at stake but [censored] groundpounders.)

4) Stop generalizing this situation as either a grand "crusade against radical Islam" OR an imperialistic enterprise of the evil USA. (See point 1)

5) How about a gradual withdrawal from the populated areas of Iraq to the Southern Borders (ports and oilfields). Create one, or several, very large military base(s) and let Iraq sort themselves out. We can maintain our strategic prescence protecting the oilfields and maintaining a bulwark against any Iranian forays into Iraq. We would still be there but NOT fighting in the streets everyday for a nebulous cause against both our enemies and supposed friends.

Sure this idea has some problems but it seems to accomplish several key objetives:
A) We haven't "cut and run" for those who abhor such thoughts.
B) Our force would be supremely adept at defending a base stronghold (not within a city) aainst all attackers in open territory.
C) We still have a significant military force in place to guaratee ours and much of te world's strateic interests in the region.

Thanks for reading and if you only take one thing away from this, please start the process of rational discussion vice pointless namecalling and propagandizing on both sides.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Motorbike--Climb--Falls--Dam: A trip report in Pix.

My villamate, my gf and I ride on over to Khatu Falls (prominently marked on the Phuket Map) to discover not quite what I expected. At the bottom there is what appears a bubbling brook with a couple of wading areas. After asking about, it seems it doens't really become a "falls" until well into the rainy season (starting in bout a month). Still some pretty scenery was found.

Children frolicking in the wading pools at the bottom.

We discovered an upward spiraling stairway into the jungle and decided to see if there be any sights to see higher up. After around a 400meter climb upwards (a bit tiring I must admit) we found the uppermost part of the "falls" deep into the jungle.

30min climb to find a dry bed. Bah!

Having come this far, we decided to crack on into the jungle proper (the stairway had long since ended) to see if we could at least get a nice view. Another 25mins of near vertical jungle climbing and we reached Kathu MTN summit.

The weary yet triumphant MadYank, climber.

After the climbdown, we had a nice Thai meal at the local food shack then proceeded on bike to Bang Wat Dam to see if Dam really meant Dam.

Upon finding the dam (nestled way down a back road right next to a lush country club golf course), we were greeted with some very nice vistas (read excellent destop background pics)

Enjoy! And standby for the Wat Chalong Trip Report.

Muay Thai in Phuket Town.

(Pics to follow later once I get the right USB cord to DL off Puk's camera)

Muay Thai down in Phuket Town, PK, (having been warned that most if not all of the Patong boxing rings were at least semi fake, we ventured into a far more "Thai oriented" area).Long and annoying negotiations with different taxi drivers to get us from Patong down to PK. Eventually settle on an overpriced taxi (1000THB) to bring us there wait for us then bring us back. I'm sure we could have arranged better, but we left it a bit late (1hr before the boxing started).

Sos, after a 20min drive in the taxi, (sheet, after 2 weeks in Phuket I'd almost forgotten what it's like in a car, I've been tooling aroud on my motorbike for what seems like forever.) we arrive at the boxing arena (Sawit Gym/training camp/boxing stadium). Puk got out and tried to buy the tix for the three of us at Thai discount prices but to no avail. She got the 50% Thai discount, but my villamate and I had to pay full Farang Fare of 1200TB for ringside seats (900THB for outer ring seats). As we entered the arena, we realized it's smallish and no one checks the tix anyways so we could have bought outer ring and just moved to rigside if we wanted to (as most farangs were ringside and The Thais had outer ring seats). Seeing this, we promptly sat down right on the edge of the apron and awaited the show.

Looking for a little side action (we gots a little gambool in us) but both completely clueless on the form/favorites of the 9 bout fight, we decide to have a tiny 50THB wager on each fight with me taking all of the red corner fighters and my villamate taking all the blue corner fighters. NOTE even this random method can have painful gambooling repurcussions. On a 9 card fight I managed to lose 500THB???? (As the fights wore on I started getting in a deeper hole as most of the red fighters were going down by either decision or KO so I kept going for the dbl and treble wager on the next fight and still losing).

Onto to the fighting action. The first bout was listed on the card as a 50lb weight class. Prior to the emergence of the figters we were speculating on how old the competitors could possibly be at just 50lbs. Well, we were awarded a fierce battle atween what seemed like two 5 year olds. Red had a fierce "50 cent stare" and blue looked timid but had a definite height and reach advantage. After the opening ceremonies (which were similar for each fight) of a ceremonial dance center ring and a trace of the ropes with brief prayer in each corner) the action commenced. These 2 kids fought as hard as any 2 Brooklyn street fighters I can remember growing up. Red turned out to be a bull rushing brawler with strong punches but he could not hold up to the more technical and skillful kicking ability of blue. Thus, blue won by decision.

After the fight, I was reflecting on both the brutality and beauty of the spectacle of 5 year olds in such a contest. Their discipline and determination was startling for some so young and yet twas still a bit disturbing watching little kids "kickin the sheet" out of each other.

The next three fights moved on with slight rises in weight class and age. One of the hardest battles was atween what seemed two 14year olds who fought so fiercely that my villamate remarked "The winner must get to lose his virginity tonight!" Of course, red won this fight wit a crushing kick/punch combo to the head that sent red spiraling to floor in a KO and requiring smelling salts to reawaken.

The 5th match shall be known as the sick OUTDRAW! Having doubled the stakes on this fight of 16yr olds, red was opening a big ole can of ass whuppin on blue through 2 rounds. The whuppin was so intense, we were both shocked Blue managed to stay standing in the 2nd round after absorbing so much punishment. Well, it seems Blue had been adopting a solid "rope'a'dope" stategy and at the stat of the 3rd round, red was visibly tired and blue KOed him in the 1st 30 seconds with a devastating series of kicks to the head.

Onto the next interesting fight...45lb weight class! What? 45lb? Tis it possible? Yep! Cus they were 6 or 7yr old GIRLS! LOL! These chicks fought as fierce, if not fiercer than the young boys. After three rounds, and not a single incident of standard catfight hair pulling :), blue, of course, won by decision deepening my 1st foray into Muay Thai betting.

As the main event rolled around, I was in the hole for about 250THB and decided to "get out of it" on the last fight. I was confident that any farang named, Olaf, from Estonia, weighing in at 200lbs, had to have a decent shot against a local Thai journeyman. my villamate graciously accepted the dbl or nothing bet and the fight commenced. Olaf had about a 7inch height advanage and easily the same advantage in reach. The Thai fighter also looked a little old and possily out of shape. The first 2 rounds went as expected with Olaf's superior power, reach, and kicking punishing the Thai fighter. At this point, I'm thinking "yeah HA! I'm out of it!" Unfortunately, Olaf ran out of gas shortly into the 3rd round and the fiht went to decision with the Thai guy winning on decision after out boxing him for te last 2.5 rounds. BAH! So I got to pay the full 1000THB taxi fare.

We had the taxi drop us off at Bangla Road back in Patong to continue the birthday merriment. We eventually wandered into the back of "Soi Disco something or other" for a few drinks whilst watching the bar girls a dancing. The mix was 10% hot, 50% doable, 20% meh, and 20% Yuck/ladyboy.

At our first bar, my villamate kept getting propositioned by an energetic somewhat cute 30something woman with an amusing surprise. When she opened her mouth, she was missing almost her entire row of upper teeth. Needless to say this was "offputting" for both of us, though Puk did find it quite amusing. At this bar I managed to lose something like 7 straight games of connect 4 to the head bar matron (LOL trying to beat a professional connect 4 player). After 2 drinks we moved onto the front of the soi to "Sharky's Bar," where all the dancers were dressed in schoolgirl outfits.

Once we landed at Sharky's Bar, my villamate and I commenced drinkin and Puk went for a walk to get some food from the street carts. She returned about 40 mins later with a cake and candles and we had a little bday song and party there with the bargirls chowing down some cake! One of the bar matrons took great enjoyment in speading icing all over my villamate's face!.

Summary: Muay Tai (at a real arena/gym outside of the heavy farang traffic areas) was deffo a good night out depsite being on the V expensive side for Thailand. It's worth one trip just to experience the spectacle and ritual. Bangla Rd....Well it's Bangla Rd on a Friday night, LOL!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm Back Folks! Oh Yeah! and I'm in Thailand!

Some piccy pix of my home in Phuket.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

FInally Found a Vid of My Monte Carlo Millions Knockout

BAH! Swede Got me!

It's around Minute 4 of this video.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cure for Pain


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Poker in a Picture

Every other Hand feels like this.