The Last Luddite standing

Mobi-Snaps: Bang Sarae

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I’m still not in a good place and I’m having bad days and not so bad days, but I’m soldiering on and have not yet reached the point where I will be obliged to take some anti-depressant medication.

God knows! I take enough meds already.

I know I am getting worse because all the signs are there: lethargy, a slight buzzing in the head when I try to concentrate on something, excessive sleep, extreme grumpiness which has led to a number of temper tantrums, (which were completely unjustified), a general feeling of unhappiness and worry… and so on.

I have fallen out with two people this week; my friend, who lives not far from me but is out of the country for a few months, and his friend who has moved in to his house as a ‘house sitter’.

Last Sunday night, I was given the task of picking up this ‘house sitter’ at 1 a.m. from the airport and things started off on a bad foot. (He offered me a paltry 200 Baht as recompense me for my fuel which I declined on the basis that if you don’t know how much, then ask. It probably costs at least 700 Baht  – plus tolls – for a round trip to the airport from Pattaya.)

I won’t go into detail about my ‘fallings out’, but let’s just say that my friend is a congenital liar and I’m fed up with it, and his house-sitter friend is an arrogant bastard, who thinks he knows it all, even though he’s never been in Thailand before.

He kept telling me that he does everything the ‘New York’ way, even though he’s Dutch and lives in Seattle! Honestly – you couldn’t make it up if you tried.

Why do I always seem to find these flawed people? Or is it me? Is true that they are flawed? Or should I be making more effort to get on with people? Probably I should – I think this problem is a feature of my depression.

I have done very little work on my novel editing this week, and that in itself makes me feel worse. It’s a vicious cycle.

It has been very, very hard for me to sit down at my computer and write this week’s blog. Until the moment I started, I really didn’t believe that anything would get done, but somehow I managed to make a start, and I’m just struggling through it; hopefully I will get it finished.

Noo went out early this morning as she had to take her end of term examinations at school. When she returned – just before noon – I hadn’t eaten a thing all morning and didn’t feel at all hungry. Another symptom of depression I’m afraid.

I saw a chest doctor at the hospital this week and he took some X-rays and prescribed yet more drugs, but I confess I am none the wiser about my condition. He referred me to an ENT doc who stuck a camera up my nostrils and came up with the amazing revelation that my right nostril is very small! She also prescribed some meds.

I now have a ‘puffer’ for my chest and a ‘puffer’ for my nose. I have no idea what is going on, but I will go back next week and see what they have to say.



The Last Luddite standing

During the late 1990’s when I was at the top of my game, running a large multinational insurance conglomerate in the city of London, the practice of working from home was starting to take root across the UK, and indeed the rest of the western world.

I was always dead against it as I felt very strongly that the only way to realise a worker’s full potential, was to have him working in office, interacting with his managers and fellow workers. I totally rejected the concept that a home worker would be a happier worker. Well, maybe happier – but more productive? Never!

While I accept that a small percentage of the workforce might just work better in a home environment, the vast majority of any work force needs the mutual discipline of the office and work environment to spur them on and to ensure frankly, that the employer gets the maximum effort out of him or her.

Of course, very few agreed with me and I was always very much in the minority and was constantly accused by my peers of being a Luddite and refusing to accept the realities of modern life and to embracing new, modern ways of working.

But I stuck to my guns. While conceding that the incredible advances in technology meant that home workers could keep in touch with their employers on computer networks, and could even participating in such technical marvels as video conferencing, for me, nothing could replace face to face interaction.

If you want to get the best out of people, put them together and let them feed off each other’s ideas and initiatives.  Let their co-workers be their moral judges as regards their level of dedication, and their quality – and quantity – of their output. All this would be much more difficult to achieve if some, or all the staff were allowed to work remotely at home. Peer pressure is very important.

I admit that there certain situations where working from home might be appropriate, and some businesses will lend itself to such practices more than others, but I still maintain that for a vast majority of companies, allowing people to spend substantial periods of their workdays at home will lower productivity and fracture the ethos of the organisation.

 Ism sorry, but I just wouldn’t trust a home worker who had three kids and an absent father from putting in her full 8 or more hours at her desk. It’s human nature that she would take advantage of the fact that no one was supervising her. If it was me working at home, I’d be bunking off all the time…..

Maybe I shouldn’t judge others by my own miserable standards… well I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Imagine my delight when I recently came across this headline:

Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office

Yes folks, it seems at long last that someone agrees with me and is reversing the trend.

A memo explaining the policy change, from the company’s human resources department, says ‘face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture — a hallmark of Google’s approach to its business.’

In trying to get back on track, Yahoo is taking on one of the country’s biggest workplace issues: whether the ability to work from home, and other flexible arrangements, leads to greater productivity or inhibits innovation and collaboration.

Across the country, companies like Aetna, Booz Allen, Hamilton and Zappos are confronting these trade-offs as they compete to attract and retain the best employees.

Bank of America, for example, which had a popular program for working remotely, decided late last year to require employees in certain roles to come back to the office.

Zappos, the e-commerce company owned by Amazon, previously allowed some customer service agents to work from home, but now has a rule against working remotely. Interestingly, the company locks all office doors, except one, so that employees are forced to run into more people on the way out.

Silicon Valley perks, like cafeterias with free food, shuttle buses, gyms, ice cream parlours and dry cleaners not only make employees’ lives easier, but keep them on campus during the day and promote contact with other employees.

Google and Facebook, do allow people to work remotely, but only on a case-by-case basis, and both companies also strongly stress in-person collaboration.

Well at least no longer can I be accused of being a Luddite and refusing to accept changes in the workplace. My ideas seem to have found favour with the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Silicon Valley in general – hardly  monoliths of a dying, bygone age.


Apocalypse Obama (Follow up)

Yes folks, the doom and destruction predicted by your beloved President is nigh.

A U.S. park ranger, who did not wish to be identified, told a news reporter that supervisors within the National Park Service overruled plans to deal with the budget cuts in a way that would have had minimal impact on the public.

Instead, the source said, the park staff were told to cancel special events and cut interpretation services – the talks, tours and other education services provided by local park rangers.

Apparently, they want the public to feel the pain,‘ the ranger said.



‘Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be cancelled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013, until further notice.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours. We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular spring touring season’

The Obama administration announced this week that it would indefinitely suspend all tours of the president’s residence to help the nation cope with $85 billion in mandatory across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.

Across the country, parents and students preparing for spring-break trips to Washington were appalled, leaving tens of thousands of ticket-holders out of luck.

Administration officials claim they will make savings in having to assign extra secret service security staff to the tours. Apparently, the tours are handled by volunteers, and surely these secret service people have to paid anyway? What’s the President going to do? Lay them all off?

However, the long suffering America public who have been caught up in all this political bullshit, will be pleased to learn that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue. House Speaker John Boehner said that his chamber had found cuts in other areas to keep the building open.



Woe is Poh (Part 3)

I originally wrote in my blog of 3rd February about the legendary Thai Mafia king, Kamnan Poh, who was arrested after several years on the run, (i.e. hiding in his home in full view of family, celebrities, politicians and other Mafia henchmen).

You can find the original report HERE.

The following week (10Th Feb), I wrote a follow up to let you know that by some miracle, (i.e pressure brought to bear on the prison authorities by high ranking, influential members of  Poh’s family), Poh was transferred to Chon Buri prison in his home province.

It was stated at the time that even though he would have to leave prison to receive regular medical care, he was too old and sick to be a flight risk.

So we were all led to believe that Poh was under lock and key in Chon Buri prison and would be periodically taken for treatment at a nearby hospital. That’s what we thought…..

You can find Part 2 of my report HERE

We were all wrong!

On February 3rd, the day he was taken from Bangkok to Chonburi, he spent exactly 10 minutes at the prison, before being taken to a VIP room at a nearby private hospital, where he has been ever since.

Since then we have been treated to selected tid bits about the poor, murdering Poh’s Condition from his various sons – one of whom stated that ‘he should be out of an intensive care unit in two to three days, but he would be ventilated and under a close watch for infection in his lungs.’

Another son, (our beloved Mayor of Pattaya), denied that he would soon be out of intensive care and told us that he still had an irregular heartbeat!

(I get one when I read about all this BS!)

All this was a month ago and just when it might be reasonable to assume that dear Poh may have recovered sufficiently to return to jail and start his 30 sentence, we are told by Deputy Director General of the Department of Corrections that 75-year-old Kamnan Poh remained in critical condition after being knocked unconscious from a fall in the bathroom of his VIP room in a Chonburi hospital.

Hmm, yes… a nice little fall should be enough to keep him there for a few more months.

Sooner or later, this man is going to be allowed home on the grounds that he is too ill and old to go to jail… mark my words. In the meantime he will be waited on hand and foot by the trusty nurses and his personal lackeys at ‘a Chonburi hospital’, (probably Samitivej).



Mobi’s Moscars (Follow up)

I was pleased to note that members of the American Academy tended to follow my lead, and out of the 7 Moscar categories listed in my blog, (see HERE), they actually got 4 of them correct.

They got it wrong in the best actor category, as I simply refused to name Daniel Day Lewis as I thought his acting effort in Lincoln was, at best, adequate.

They also messed up in Best Movie category, where they gave it to Argo, despite the fact that both Life of Pi and Amour were infinitely better, and as for choosing Anne Hathaway in Les Mis as best supporting actress for singing one song… well the least said the better.

I have now seen the two missing films that featured prominently in the 2013 Oscar nominations.

The first, Flight, is a great movie and Denzel Washington is a positive tour de force, in the lead role of Captain Whip, an alcoholic airline pilot, who miraculously saves most of the passengers when the plane develops a serious fault.

It is very exciting and dramatic, as Whip is first acclaimed as a hero, but then comes under investigation and suspicion when blood tests show that he was drunk at the time of the accident.

It is the story of an alcoholic who is destroying his life and is a must see for alcoholics – recovering or otherwise. The screenplay must have been written by an alcoholic, or someone very close to alcoholics as for us Alkies, there is much in Whip’s behaviour that we can relate to.

If I had seen the film earlier, Washington would have definitely have been my first choice for best actor as he is way…way …better than Day Lewis.


Last night I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild, the other film that featured prominently in the nominations, and if Noo hadn’t been watching it with me, I would have turned it off.

The acting and cinematography are faultless, but the story – if there is a story – was, frankly, rubbish. I know my lack of understanding was partly due to my extreme difficulty in understanding a young girl speaking in a squeaky voice with a broad Louisiana dialect, but even if I had understood every single word, I doubt whether my opinion would have changed very much.

The movie drifts from reality to fantasy at the drop of hat and for the most part I have no idea which was which – as even the reality was more or less a fantasy.

I confess I knew next to nothing about this movie before I sat down to watch it, which is unusual for me, as normally I like to research  a film’s subject matter ahead of  viewing. So I admit this did not help my enjoyment of the movie, which was unremittingly grim and depressing. I don’t believe there was a single second of humour, in its entire length.

To make matters worse, I now find that all the major film critics unanimously have raved about this film, giving it their top star rating and generally drooling over every unfathomable aspect of it.

I was beginning to think that either I had lost it, or that I watched the wrong movie, when I happened to chance upon a piece by Vince Mancini entitled, ‘The Case against Beasts of the Southern Wild’.

Phew! Thank God I’m not the only one out here in movie audience-land that thinks that ‘beast’ was basically a load of old bollocks.

Here are a few choice snippets from Mr Mancini’s lengthy and erudite piece.

As a critic….. making sure the films you champion are worthy, to keep from burning your audience and becoming the boy who ‘cried wolf’, making film critics even more irrelevant than we already are…

… Beasts of the Southern Wild is a critic-bait film …

Here’s why the critics whiffed on this one:

‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is pretty good. It’s got soaring music, pretty cinematography, fantastical imagery that borrows heavily from Where the Wild Things Are, an impossibly cute little girl, and deep south swamp locations exotic to urbanized Yankees like me.

But if you can see past the craft, this tale of deep south swamp hobos and feral children that eat cat food has all the depth of one of those Levis slam poetry commercials. I thought we weren’t supposed to fall for the Magic Negro and the Noble Savage any more  Yet here it is, a whole movie full of them, plus folksy Cajuns who can’t open their mouths without homespun crypticisms aw shucksing their way out.

… ‘Beasts’ is beautiful and the film-makers are young, and may still have some great work in them yet, and you’ll hear lots of people describe ‘Beasts’ as “poetic.” But ‘Beasts’ has a lot of that kind of poetry that’s not the work of someone employing a non-linear form to more closely illustrate their thought process as they grope towards meaning, it’s more like someone using poetry to obfuscate a story that wouldn’t work as prose, because there just isn’t much there. A lot of swamp-jazz hocus pocus and gumbo mumbo jumbo, so to speak…..

There is much, much more, but I would imagine that the above is sufficient for you to get the general idea.

There is a movie-God out there somewhere,

I am not alone….


Click here for this week’s collection of  Mobi-Pics 



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