Bad Traffic

How bad is the traffic in Bangkok? Well, I have said this before and I think it every day: Lately it seems like it’s getting worse. But don’t take my word for it, I have photographic proof. The space between the houses – and that includes sidewalks and the streets surface and the gutters…really wanted to drive home all-inclusivity if the diffferent spacwa betwen the houses, you see? – has become so overcrowded that car dealerships started to plant their test-drive cars to the side of the buildings. Not that anybody would ever want or even could begin to fathom a test drive BECAUSE IT IS AT BEST A TEST STANDING IN A TRAFFIC JAM. The inly judgement you could pass after an hour in the car is, hiw good/bad the seats are, legroom, acoustics, isolation from the outside world with all its noises, smells and pollution.


So there you have it, that’s how bad traffic in Bkk is.

Cheers Markus \m/…..oh, yes and please stay sharp – it is more important than ever in this “unique” global political climate.

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A Little More Nighlife

I was out Friday night, shooting. Then I wondered how can I add four more images i a way that it continues the. The Maxi version. See, in the 80s, everyone who hat a hit in the charts released a so-called maxi single – which was an extended version of the original hit. The undisputed kings of Maxi Single releases were Frankie Goes To Hollywood – heck they released a whole album with maxi versions of three songs and it is called “The Whole 12 Inches” – get it?…tongue in cheek. But this is Willie Nelson and the Night Life song. So, think of this as the Maxi Version of “Night Life”.

Two ladies carrying their goods for the “emergency sales” to the girls in Soi 26.

Street food vendor caught in the perpetual Sukhumvit traffic jam.

Vendor of the original “Luke Skywalker Lightsaber”, with the Obiwan Kenobi seal of approval, taking his supper break.

All the rest of the poor souls in their cars caught in Friday night traffic – this was at around 10:00pm. What a way to waste one’s time.

Stay sharp and use public transportation, bicycles, skateboards or go on foot, if you don’t want to waste your time in traffic.

Markus \m/

 

Relative, As In “Compared To”

For many people hell became reality on Friday, January 20th 2017. No, why do I say that? In the country, that loves to proclaim itself as the leader of the free world, a new president was sworn in. A gentleman, who loves to boast and brag, yet with a reportedly very thin skin and a reportedly unique understanding of reality. But that’s not the point and not focus of this entry. As much as it may pain many people, especially the citizens of the United States – particularly the majority of thenpopulation that voted for the questionable democratic alternative, life will go on. America will not decay into a banana republic. democratic principles may be shaken a bit, but they will not break. There a checks and balances and a still free press. And if especially the free press will start to spend money on “shoe leather” and do journalism and explain the news, then everyone will weather the storm. Besides, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and judge him by what he does. He has the house majority, the senate majority, the presidency, the majority in more than half the states of the union, the govenorship in (I think) almost half of all states. You can’t have much more power – No More Excuses, for getting nothing done. I was just as shocken as all oth Trump opponents abut his inauguration speech – scarry, nightmarish stuff. I do wonder where he gets the ideas for these dystopian wasteland speeches. Yes, big cities have big bad soft underbellies, places whe you don’t necessarily go in alone, but they also have many, great  friendly neighborhoods, where people know each other and whe normal people live and the only Mad Max in the neighborhood is your neighbor’s Yorkshire Terrier. If you experiened life ina real banana republic, for example in any of the many central african dictatorships or Russia for that matter or China. Any form of dissent would get the dissenter repressed if not simply vanished. You have seen how the Trump supporters lifted theor supposed Champion to victory – identify your champion – make it known who you champion is and then lift her or him to victory at the next opportunity. Don’t lament, prepare instead.

I realized this yesterday, as we took a ride along the Golf and all,of a sudden we see this.


Yes it is kitsch as kitsch can, but it is also a beautiful picture of love, trust and care. And by extension gives me hope that this period of nationalism and narrow-mindedness shall pass, too.

Being a Global Nomand myself, I find it very sad, when people, judge others by their passport, language of color of their skin, because it eleominates the possibiliyu, that the other person may have something you might need, appreciate. even admire. I have spent tye first part of my working life in the hatd disk drive industry – most of you will not know what that is all about, as ling as the box inside your computer stores the birthday pictures from grandma’s 75th birthday bash. but this industry was and prpably still is hypercompetitive. so competitive, that it is an unwritten law that everyone abides by, that anybodymight just have THE IDEA that will give your company a huge competitive advantage. As a consequence,the HDD industry is very inclusive a as in German alongside, Czechs, Russian, Americans, Chinese, Nepalis, Indians, Indonesian, you name it we have it. That openness made for a beautiful environment. That does not mean, that there was no conflict and politics, but an ass was ass because he was an ass, not because of his heritage or the color of his skin.

Hm, just noticed I might have been rambling a bit. Yes the sky may be grey and ominous, but there will be sunshine, too and soon enough.


So keep,your chin up, do small good deeds to total stangers without conditions and tell them to stay sharp, too.

Cheers Markus \m/

I Had This Rug…

A little more than twenty years ago I lived in Southern California in a small condo community with 16 apartments. I was the only student, everyone else was properly working for a living – we were a pretty eclectic group. Being the new kid, I was lucky enough, that my room-mate and our neighbors pulled me right in into their little clique. Every Thursday – with Swiss clock precision – we would go to a neighborhood diner, called Froggys on Turquoise St in P.B. . We’d go every Thursday between 6:30 and 7:00pm and I had a California Cajun Chicken Sandwich – it was so good. The only regular girl in our group, Jen, of “Bob and Jen’s”, christened the occasion “Stoopi’Tuesday Because It’s Thursday”.

I still love this time in my life. It was very carefree, no worries barely any responsibilities. I lived a great life on a limited budget, right then and there. When my friends Peter and Michael visited me, they got to experience it, too. So much fun. Everyone talked about their week, fully knowing that twenty four hours the weekend was calling.

My wife know about this time in my life and its importance to me and the growing nostalgia with every year. And today, when I cam home, Barbara arranged for our own “Stoopi’Tuesday” at home.

She made a kick-ass California Cajun Chicken Sandwich and later we are going to watch The Big Lebowski – a movie that was shot in Southern California while I lived there, too. And we should expand the statement for the opening of the movie, that says “…that sometimes there is a man.” to:”…sometimes there’s a man or a woman.”

And right now, I find myself on the couch typing this little entry for you, while trembling with anticipation to start the movie.

Stay sharp and abide.

Cheers Markus \m/

Thailand In Christmas Fever

Yes, never a dull moment here. A few years ago, I was introduced my this gracious host country to the Christmas rabbits. This year is is the ever-popular Christmas Cats.


In the foreground you can see, the locals think way ahead. Setting up a heart reminds shoppers that Valentine’s Day is only about 50 days away. As the Scouts say:”Always be prepared”
Stay sharp and prepared and never loose your sense of wonder.

Markus \m/

Reconsider

So, the election in America is done. Trump won – Clinton lost. And while this comparison is a strange one, I am reminded of something Gandhi said:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” This sums Trumps campaign up. At first he was ignored, then he was perceived to run as a joke, then he was the nominee (supposedly) everyone hated and then he won. Am I happy about it? – NO!, I am not. But instead of lamenting, I am more curious why he won, more importantly, why he actually got as many votes as he did. Forget that he lost the popular vote and forget the antiquated concept of the electoral college. Why did Trump get votes? That is the real question? And the answer to this question is  – so I suppose – then also applicable, why populists are on the rise in other countries, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy.

In short it all has to do with education. Now why do I say this. I am not saying that people who vote for populists are dumb, but they are likely feeling left out. Their jobs did not recently leave for China, but they are stuck in dead-end jobs with low pay and few benefits and/or they are feeling that the political class has moved up a few floors in its ivory tower and is only talking to the populus, when it’s “voting time”. Politicians have simply forgotten their most basic mission – represent their voters. Your voters are your constituency. Not PACs, SuperPACs, corporations, lobbyists, it is about voters. Voters are not idiots. They may not all be rich or “sophisticated” or belong to exclusive clubs charging huge admissions, but the vast majority manages to live their lives on their own. They go to work, some of them to multiple jobs to make end meet. As a politician you are elected by exactly these people. They know that campaign is like courtship – you make promises you cannot keep, they know that. But, if they feel ignored by you and used and shut out, then frustration builds up.

And Donald Trump realized that he can take this energy of frustration and channel it to his advantage and benefit. Populists always know how to tap into the frustrations of the faceless masses and make them feel like they have a voice. In the Summer of 2015 Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel made the often with admiration cited statement regarding the refugee crisis: “We’ll manage this.” An encouragement filled with pathos and compassion, but no actionable plan, no expectations we set on how and why to manage the refugee crisis, specifically what to do to manage this refugee crisis. She did not see fit to provide a detailed plan and justification to the country and thus thus 18 month hence, the German right-wing populists are way up, entering city and state assemblies. In America, for decades there have been discussions, talks, fights, grand announcements and campaign promises around immigration reform, just as an example – all of them were hot air and broken. Politicians do not get much done of what’s important to their voters. Working people get something done – no matter how mundane, they have something to show for every day. “I stacked 2000 jars of tomatoes into a pyramid during my night shift.”; “I changed the diapers on an old gentlemen three times in the hospital today.” Outcomes are tangible and visible and they are always judged. So, when politicians talk and then fail to show clear outcomes with clearly laid out benefits and disadvantages for the people, the people see through it – sooner or later and that causes frustration and erodes trust in the “ruling class”.

The German right wingers, too, were first ignored, then laughed at and then fought to little avail to date. Don’t treat our voters like an undesirable, necessary evil, but honor them by working for them. Part of working for them is to set expectations, provide access to and set examples for education. And in a grander scale make it clear that things will continue to change – always. That as a nation or a community, we all need to be part of that change and ideally shape the change rather than reacting to it. Change sucks, if it is imposed from the outside. But if you drive change and you shape it you are the primary beneficiary. This applies to closed-door-deals o small groups of people as well as to national or international policy.

Donald Trump won votes because he does not have decades of baggage of broken political promises. Because he spoke a simple language. Whether right or wrong, he gave simple, memorable, quotable answers. If you want to connect with complex analysis of global situations and contexts, make sure you have an educated audience that will question your statements, that puts you on your toes.

We all know that manufacturing jobs that America or Europe lost to China will not come back. And if they ever did, who would fill them. People would have to be trained. Well, if we can train people to assemble TVs, stereos and radios, we can train them for many other things, too. The point is things will always evolve and that requires change – sometimes change is fun and sometimes not. 20 years ago, there were no social media, bit people wanted to change and they embraced the new technologies and they changed with the changing media landscape, in fact they drove the change. The good old days get better with each passing day, but they will never come back. In the words of Alice, of Alice In Wonderland fame:”I can’t go back to yesterday, I was a different person then.”

America is stuck with Trump for the next 4 years and so are the other governments as treaty partners, trade partners or adversaries. I would be very much surprised, if Trump turned out to be any different from any other politician. He just found a different path to  power. A path that many populists worldwide will turn from a path into to an eight-lane highway.

Make sure you educate yourself, you provide education to others and you demand opportunities for all for education from the people you elect to represent you. And question authority and then hold the elected authorities accountable. Ask for specificity and reasons.

Sorry, I can’t give more of a profound insight, but I think it has been a long time coming. While I see myself as a beneficiary of globalization, I can also see many who are definitely less fortunate than me. And one of the main differences between them and me is access to education and the importance knowledge has to me, the value of education in my upbringing and the value my social circles place on education. I do no know it any different than to continue to learn and I do not always like it, believe me. Then again, I also don’t like gravity when it makes me wipe out riding me my bike. But that does not mean I just stop riding my bike or I start yelling at gravity.

In summary (and to close the narrative to the title of this ramble): Education, provides insight to better understand the things happening around you, it enables you to gain status and it enables you to secure a better future. Maybe we should reconsider that the answer why Trump was elected is a simple one and look at the larger context why his voters became so frustrated, that they listened and then voted for his simple populist message.

Stay sharp gang.

Cheers Markus \m/