Today, me, my dogs and my new laptop are out here on the Lake- all alone against the wicked world .
I dropped my daughter and her husband at the airport on Monday evening, after a wonderful 15 days stay with us, and today, at the crack of dawn, little Noo, her son and her older sister (who arrived in Pattaya yesterday from her home in Sumut Songkran), set off on the long and winding road to their family home in Nong Kai, for three nights.
On the computer front, the Gods must be have been with me, as not only did I have a recent backup for all my files, but I had even backed up my latest documents, including, crucially, the very latest drafts of my novel, which I had saved on a thumb stick the evening before my disc crashed.
I did sweat for a few days over the possible loss of all my ‘business emails’ which were stored in ‘local folders’ in my Thunderbird email set up, but I managed to successfully recover them from my file back-up, so the only data I lost were a few TV videos that I had recently downloaded and hadn’t yet transferred over onto external hard disks.
My previous Laptop was an Acer 4736 with a 14 inch screen and pretty decent processor, ram and peripherals, and it has served me valiantly for over 3 years, with almost constant daily use. It was starting to get a little cranky, with increasingly frequent ‘hangs’ so when the disk crashed, I took it into the shop, who offered to put in a new hard disc disc for 3,000 Baht.
But after due consideration for the computer’s age, I decided it was time to put the dear old thing out to pasture and shop around for new young Acer buck. So after checking the internet for the latest lap top models in my price range, and following a careful assessment of exactly what would suit my requirements, I decided to look for another Acer which had a larger screen and keyboard with more powerful processing power and ram. It seemed that I could get something pretty decent within my price range, which was around 20K++ Baht. (around 400 quid)
In the event, I stumbled across a 15.6 inch model with specs that exceeded what I was looking for, at a specially reduced price of 25K. It is an Acer 5755G which has received excellent reviews and is sold in the UK for around 900 pounds, so I reckon I got a bargain. It has an Intel core15-2450M 2.5 GHZ microprocessor, 8 Gb of Ram, 1 terabyte HD, a usb3 port (and 2 usb 2 ports), HDMI/VGA/SD card reader ports and nvidia geoforce GT540 M graphics card, amongst many other features.
Unlike the UK , There seems to be little demand in Thailand for larger laptops, and I have noticed that there very few larger ones for sale in the stores. Nearly all of the models I have seen here, have 14 inch screens. This might account for the price reduction on my 15.6 inch,5755 – due to lack of demand.
So I am well pleased with my purchase, which I reckon is used about 95% of the time at home, and with a larger screen and keyboard, it is robust enough to do all the jobs I need it to do, but still light enough to take out for the occasional road or plane trip and to move around the house.
Of course it will take me a week or more to get everything set up the way I want it, but I have set up enough already to enable me to produce today’s (Wednesday’s) blog.☺
Is America becoming a bastion for double standards on religion?
One of America’s most respected and trusted newspapers, The New York Times, known colloquially as ‘The Old Gray Lady’, recently refused to publish an advertisement submitted by an organisation entitled ‘Stop Islamization of America’ which asked:
“Why put up with an institution that dehumanizes women and non-Muslims … [do] you keep identifying with the ideology that threatens liberty for women and menaces freedom by slaughtering, oppressing and subjugating non-Muslims… Join those of us who put humanity above the vengeful, hateful and violent teachings of Islam’s ‘prophet.’”
Fair enough to refuse this ad you might think; maybe at this time of increasingly bitter relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim world, it is wise not to provoke sensitive religious issues too much.
But the same paper, 2 weeks earlier, had agreed to run the following ad, submitted by the ‘Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation’ which asked Catholics:
“Why send your children to parochial schools to be indoctrinated into the next generation of obedient donors and voters?” The ad went on to call loyalty to the faith misplaced “after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top.”
A spokeswoman from ‘Stop Islamization’ said: “This shows the hypocrisy of The New York Times, the “gold standard” in journalism, and its willingness to kowtow to violent Islamic supremacist intimidation,”
So what did the ‘Old Gray Lady’ have to say about all this?
“We have not made a decision not to publish the ad you refer to…We made a decision to postpone publishing it in light of recent events in Afghanistan, including the Koran burning and the alleged killings of Afghani civilians by a member of the U.S. military. It is our belief that fallout from running this ad now could put US troops and civilians in the region in danger and we would like to avoid that.”
A catholic spokesman retorted by saying:
“It shows the disparate treatment and the duplicity of The New York Times, you can trash some religions, like Roman Catholicism, with impunity, but you cannot trash Islam?”
In this blogger’s opinion, this is by no means the first instance when the West, particularly the USA, has treated anything to do with our Islamic ‘friends’ with the utmost of ‘kid gloves’. They have bent over backwards to avoid offence of any kind, and in the process, they have trampled on our long held beliefs and traditions of freedom of expression and religion. But it is ‘open season’ on all other religions which can be trashed and insulted with impunity.
I am an avowed atheist, but I steadfastly defend basic human rights and democratic freedoms which allow both the propogation and the criticism of all religious beliefs.
Maybe the New York Times was right and is doing the ‘sensible, non-confrontational thing’, but I can’t help feeling that it is the thin end of the wedge. Once such a revered and respected institution like the New York Times embark on this kind of misguided course of censorship, God knows where it will all end.
Surely, in one of the biggest battle for the hearts and minds that the population of this world has ever experienced, it is time for someone, somewhere, to make a stand for the greater good, regardless of any short term consequences ?
The Bahrain Grand Prix – yes again…
A couple of days ago, that billionaire poison midget, Bernie Ecclestone, sneered at a BBC reporter when she asked him politely about the status of the Bahrain Grand Prix. ‘What do you know about Bahrain,’ he snapped at her.
The question is, Mr God almighty Ecclestone, is what do you know about Bahrain, that hasn’t been passed onto you by spokesmen of the authoritarian, fascist and rabidly undemocratic government of King Hamad?
With respect, Mister Ecclestone, I think it is reasonable to assume that the wonderful investigative work carried out by the brave reporters of Al Jazeera – for which they have received international awards and accolades – and which has since been followed up by the remainder of the world’s press, (including BBC and the major print press titles) – provides a far more in depth view of what is actually going on in Bahrain, than the distorted rubbish spouted by a few trumped up millionaires, and ‘has- been’ racing drivers (one Jackie Stewart immediately springs to mind), all of whom, have a vested interest in going ahead with the Bahrain Grand prix next weekend.
Yesterday, at a protest march in Al Dair, a small Shi’ite village north east of Manama, near the airport, thousands of protesters: men of all ages, chattering children, women dressed head to toe in black, many of them holding placards, all of them chanting slogans “Down with King Hamad” and: “No Formula One in Bahrain.” Every so often, a protester would peel off from the crowd and shake the hands of visiting journalists, thanking them for being there in person and imploring them to help them get their message out. It was the largest of several such protests.
Rubber bullets, remnants from previous clashes, lay scattered about. A 13-year-old girl, whose father was killed in police custody last year –beaten to death – was with her uncle, a politician in Bahrain’s main opposition party, Al Wefaq, which has called for seven days of protest to capitalise on the presence of F1.
An activist, who met with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone in London earlier this year in an effort to have the race cancelled, pointed out some of the other faces in yesterday’s crowd; a nurse who was beaten by police last spring after helping to treat injured protesters; a doctor, whose husband is a prominent local lawyer representing hundreds of protesters in jail.
With the grand prix coming up this weekend, many activists have been rounded up in the past few days. A 19-year-old student, said he had slept in three different houses over the past three nights after the police had come looking for him.
One man, who was wearing a red Ferrari polo shirt, said: “I love F1, “But not over our blood. They are forcing it on us.”
A taxi driver gave his thoughts on Sunday’s race. “I have two emotions,” he said. “One is that I am proud to have such a big event in Bahrain. But the other part of me feels shame. You will be welcome here because you are guests in my country, but you will be racing over blood this weekend.”
Asked if the race was not vital to the economy, he insisted that the average Bahraini would see little of the $400-500 million which the Bahrain GP organisers estimate it generates. “The government and their supporters own all these buildings,” he said, sweeping his hand in a wide arc to indicate the smart hotels of the diplomatic quarter.
Last night, as darkness fell, explosions lit up the night sky in Al Dair, and reports surfaced of larger-scale clashes in Sitra, and a car bomb in Manama itself.
Bahrain’s authorities have been at pains to reassure Bernie the Bastard that safety will not be an issue this week. Given the enormous security presence at the circuit, it is unlikely to be. But that has not entirely dispelled misgivings within F1’s 1,500-strong travelling army, who are expected to attend a highly politicised event.
The FIA and Ecclestone insist the race has ‘nothing to do with politics’ . Oh yeah???Countless posters about town bearing the slogan ‘UniF1ed: One Nation in Celebration’ suggest otherwise.
Human rights groups say reforms promised by Bahrain’s rulers in the wake of last autumn’s damning independent report amount to window dressing. Most informed people are of a similar opinion, having seen hard evidence that there is still torture, still discrimination, and little has changed since the mass protests which started on Feb 14 last year.
But until the US administration’s response to the horrendous human rights abuses in Bahrain become more vocal, (as it has now belatedly done on Syria), the world will largely ignore the bloody fight for democracy in this little corner of the Middle East, which just so happens to provide a safe harbour for the US Fifth Fleet….
I hope I am wrong, but have a nasty feeling that if they do not decide to pull out of this Grand Prix at the last moment, there may well be serious trouble a-brewing for the coming weekend.
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!…