Our kids don’t read anymore!

11 Months, 7 days, still sober.

Yes, folks, I’m now well into uncharted territory and am edging ever closer to my very first alcohol-free anniversary; an anniversary that I share with no lesser personage than Jesus Christ himself – well near as makes no difference – his birth, my spiritual enlightenment….

If I was still attending AA, I would probably soon qualify for one of their special ‘gongs’, but I guess I will survive well enough without. In fact I believe I will survive a lot better without any input from my good friends at AA. I now know that for me, AA simply does not work, but that doesn’t preclude it working for other alcoholics.

I have been meaning to write about my views on this for some time.  In fact, ever since Thai Visa, in their esteemed wisdom refused to let me express my personal theories on AA in their own forum, I have had it on my agenda to write a small tract in my blog.  No doubt I will get around to it soon.

Mobi Babble

My attempts to sell my car have pretty much ground to a halt during this season of severe floods.

I did have one guy from Bangkok, who seemed seriously interested in buying it, but the floods impacted his plans and he cancelled a trip to come and see it at the last moment. A few weeks later, he re-contacted me and suggested  that if I still hadn’t sold it then maybe I would be prepared to reduce the price. He wasn’t a Thai, for if he was, he would have known that in this country, we never reduce prices, even if we can’t sell something for years – in fact in the case of property, we are more likely to put the price up that reduce it.

My main man in the used car business in Bangkok has advised me that the car market has ground to halt until the country is dry again – nobody is in the mood to buy and sell cars. This will probably be in the New Year and interestingly he has advised me that the luxury-end used  cars, like mine, which are less ‘vulnerable’ to flooding, will probably go up in price .  As I was saying…

Anyway, as time has gone on, I am not even sure if I really want to sell it any more; I am torn between keeping it and continuing to enjoy driving a beautiful machine, or selling it and having fun with something a bit different. Either way, I am not too bothered and I am certainly not so desperate that I will drastically reduce the price. I’ll just let matters take their course and see how things go.

Since my return from the UK back in September, the furthest I have ventured from Pattaya has been to Chon Buri to have my car serviced. I cancelled a trip to Hua Hin in November, partly because of the floods, and partly because I was hoping for a quick sale of my car.

But now things are getting back to normal and I have given up the idea of a quick sale, I have decided to spend a couple of nights in Bangkok, where I will see my cardiac and diabetes specialists and do a bit of shopping , after which, I will drive on up to Nong Khai with Noo for three nights.

It is almost a year since we have been up there and I know she is missing her family; it will also be a nice break for me – it’s good to get away every now and then – even at my advanced age – and ‘re-charge the batteries’, as they say.

I confess I haven’t been too well as of late and am getting quite worried about it. I cannot shake off the chest pains I get when I go for my afternoon stroll and I now find that my blood pressure is alarmingly high, despite the mountain of blood pressure reducing and heart slowing drugs that I take, so I better have my cardiologist check me over.

I haven’t seen her for more than two years so it is way overdue. I am concerned that I may need a procedure which will be very costly – money that I can ill afford, but there’s no point bumbling along blindly in the dark. I better find out the worst and then consider my options.

Will those crazy, hazy, nonsense days of EU bureaucrats ever end?

Some time ago I wrote a piece about some of the ridiculous laws and regulations that have been enacted through the years by unelected officials in Brussels.

(see: HERE )

So in these days of imminent collapse of the Euro and increasing talk about Britain taking back some of its previously surrendered sovereignty, is there a glimmer of hope on the horizon that one day soon we will finally rid ourselves once and for all from all from these ghastly, European self- seeking, power-hungry, business-stifling pencil pushers?

In the past we have suffered from EU bureaucrats dictating that only cucumbers which are ‘practically straight’, ( i.e. those which had a gradient of no more than 1 in 10), can be legally sold, and  that ‘bendy’ bananas, knobbly carrots and other misshapen fruit and vegetables are forever banned from the food shelves of Britain.

We have long since suffered from rules which prohibit fresh food products being sold in British markets by pounds and ounces, (perpetrators being subject to jail sentences), and more recently, the EU decreed that food could only be sold by weight and never by quantity; hence it was no longer legal to sell eggs or even bread rolls by the dozen or half dozen.

Then, last year, we had the most baffling edict of all – the ruling that a swede can be called a ‘turnip’, provided it is in a Cornish pasty!!!

That incomprehensible ruling must have taken some beating, but we can always rely on the twisted and perversely- cunning minds of these nameless officials to come up with something even more perplexing.

Yes, my friends, can you believe that last week the EU outdid itself and ruled that bottled water manufacturers could no longer advertise their product as helping to prevent dehydration. Why? Apparently, because of a lack of scientific evidence. The ruling is based on the premise that if, for example, a person was suffering from severe diarrhoea, then drinking water would not necessarily cure them of dehydration.

I ask you…..

Now I hold no brief for bottled water manufactures, as most, if not all of whom, make ridiculous profits on a largely superfluous product, the contents of which, can be obtained free from any water tap in most EU countries. (Not so, I hasten to add in Thailand).

But don’t you think that in these days of global financial meltdown and so many unsolvable world conflicts, that these highly paid civil servants of the EU could spend their time doing something a little more constructive than pedantically nit-pick on the earth-shattering issue of whether or not drinking water can alleviate dehydration?

The Arab Spring and Western Hypocrisy.

I have written quite a lot on this subject this over the past few months, which included supporting the NATO led action in Libya and also, in particular, trying to bring attention the brutal repression that has been going on in Bahrain.

I have also decried the equally brutal suppression that was taking place in Syria, long before the world finally accepted that it could no longer stand by and keep their mouths shut, which is what most of them would dearly like to do.

There is still very little world reaction to the unbelievable crimes that were and still are being committed in Bahrain, and now, to cap it all, the world is totally and utterly lip-tied on the repression that is currently going on in Saudi Arabia.

A recent 73 page report, published last week by Amnesty International, has accused Saudi Arabia of reacting to the Arab Spring by launching a wave of repression. In their report, the human rights group said hundreds of people had been arrested, many of them without charge or trial.

Prominent reformists had been given long sentences following trials that Amnesty described as “grossly unfair”. So far, unrest has largely been confined to the Shia minority in the east of the country.

The report comes a little more than a week after clashes in the eastern region of Qatif left four people dead. Shia Muslims in the area have complained for years of economic discrimination and religious persecution, and were angered by the harsh suppression of Shia protesters in neighbouring Bahrain earlier this year. (Saudi troops entered Bahrain to assist the authorities there, without a word of protest from anyone in the west.).

Amnesty accuses the Saudi authorities of arresting hundreds of people for demanding political and social reforms or for calling for the release of relatives detained without charge or trial. The abusive practices being employed by the Saudi Arabian government are worryingly similar to those which they have long used against people accused of terrorist offences.”

The report says that since February, when sporadic demonstrations began – in defiance of a permanent national ban on protests – the Saudi government has carried out a crackdown that has included the arrest of mainly Shia Muslims in the restive Eastern Province.

Last week 16 men, including nine prominent reformists, were given sentences ranging from five to 30 years in prison. Amnesty said they were blindfolded and handcuffed during their trial, while their lawyer was not allowed to enter the court for the first three sessions.

“Peaceful protesters and supporters of political reform in the country have been targeted for arrest in an attempt to stamp out the kinds of call for reform that have echoed across the region,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

“While the arguments used to justify this wide-ranging crackdown may be different, the abusive practices being employed by the Saudi Arabian government are worryingly similar to those which they have long used against people accused of terrorist offences,” he said.

Amnesty says that the government continues to detain thousands of people on terrorism-related grounds. “Torture and other ill-treatment in detention are widespread”, it says; an allegation Saudi Arabia has always denied.

Amnesty says the government has drafted an anti-terror law that would effectively criminalise dissent as a “terrorist crime” and allow extended detention without charge or trial.

Questioning the integrity of the king would carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years, according to Amnesty. The four who died in Qatif last week were killed when security forces opened fire using live ammunition, an indication that tensions in the predominantly Shia Eastern Province continue to escalate.

A Shia activist said at least one of those killed was unarmed when he was shot dead at a checkpoint for failing to stop. The others died the following day as protests erupted at his funeral, he said.

So why does the world continue to remain silent?  I don’t really have to tell you – it’s a three letter word that begins with the letter ‘O’

Our kids no longer read books

It was reported the other day that almost 4 million children in the UK do not own a single book, and to put this in perspective, that is one in three of our kids under the age of 16.

Now this isn’t because the UK is third world country and parents cannot afford to buy books for its kids. On the contrary, as the country has become richer, the number of child book owners has become fewer, down from one in ten kids only seven years ago to one in three today.

In fact, I would wager that if the UK was a third world country then then a higher percentage of our kids would probably own books. They would have far greater incentive to better themselves and get themselves out of their lives of poverty.

Personally, I cannot conceive of a childhood which didn’t include owning and reading books.

I know it’s a big jump from ‘non- book owning kids’ to the recent riots, but at the time of the riots, I was struck over and over again by the youths’ claims that they did it because they were bored. At a time of unrivalled prosperity, notwithstanding the current economic problems, when kids have so much to keep them amused, I found it absolutely astonishing that they committed these unspeakably selfish and anti-social crimes because they were bored.

So maybe the intellectual stimulation derived from watching semi pornographic pop videos, gratuitously violent films and playing even more gratuitously violent video games, isn’t sufficient to keep our kids from becoming bored out of their tiny minds?

I cannot ever recall being bored when reading books by my favourite authors.

I also wonder whether the mere act of reading books may contribute positively to the development of a child’s knowledge and understanding of the world and people around them; and would therefore hold them in good stead when faced with a choice of  either taking part in mindless looting or doing something constructive and meaningful with their lives.

I actually don’t blame the kids – and not even their parents. As a nation we seem to have lost our way in how to educate and raise our offspring. For me, it all started in the late sixties, when the ‘bleeding heart’ labour-left hijacked the once greatly admired British education system and ruined it for generations to come.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!…