Archive for November, 2010

Must be high season in Thailand

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Thailand

You can always tell when it is high season in Thailand by the increase in reports of farang tourists jumping from high rises and engaging in various crazy behavior. Today’s news includes the story of a Norwegian man who jumped from the 14th floor of the Phuket Palace Hotel which is located in Patong. The usual reason behind these kind of jumps is a combination of drinking/drugs and getting fleeced by their new “girlfriend”. I don’t know about this particular case but it fits the pattern, particularly since it was in Patong where the garbage people of Phuket are concentrated.

The other story today was of a British man in Pattaya (so this is expected) who got into a fight with his “girlfriend”, locked himself in their apartment and set it on fire. When the firemen broke in he was stabbing himself in the chest with a broken glass bottle. Just another day in Pattaya. I wonder if the many foreigners who “bought” retirement homes in Pattaya cringe when they see this kind of news. I mean, to me it would be embarrassing if friends and family knew I lived in a place like that. And “bought” is in quotes because we all know that a foreigner can’t own land in Thailand so they paid multiple times the Thai price just to live there temporarily.

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The shocking news of finding over 2,000 aborted fetuses at a Thai temple is still circulating and has reached the international press now. Now we get to observe how news is colored by cultural foundations as the story is reported. Today’s example was a story by the BBC. First quote, referring to offerings left at the place where the fetuses were found:

The offerings have been left to ease the transition of restless souls from this life to the next.

Fundamental flaw number one. Buddhism recognizes the fundamental truths of existence, one of which is non-self. Non-self is a rather subtle concept and is lost on most people. Basically it identifies existence as a process, not an entity. There is, in fact, no abiding entity in anything that exists. Everything arises and dissipates from the effects of processes. Upshot – there is no soul. The idea of soul is fundamentally flawed as easily demonstrated by several simple mental experiments. Applying western cultural notions to the act of making offerings in Thailand is a mistake. But the classic mistake is when westerners describe Buddhist chanting as “praying to Buddha”. Fundamentally flawed thinking.

The bulk of the BBC story is about how this shocking story is going to change the way abortion is viewed by Thais. That is also a mistake. In Buddhism there is no confusion about when life begins and when it is wrong to kill. So there aren’t any of these impertinent arguments about how a fetus is not a human being because it can’t live outside the body. That specious argument is irrelevant. In Buddhism it is wrong to kill any being under any circumstances. Doing so means you will eventually suffer the karmic consequences. Also in Buddhism life is recognized to begin at the moment of conception. A person’s “true” age includes the nine months in the womb. That is the age used to determine if a man is eligible to ordain.

The only change, if there will be any, will perhaps be more discussion about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies among teens, which is the group that is probably having most of the abortions. And also, perhaps, more support of young women who get pregnant and have the baby.

Quantitative easing explained

Posted: November 14, 2010 in Economy

Confused about this whole “quantitative easing” thing? Suspect it’s nothing but a bunch of double speak for another government scam? Here’s a great little video that sums up the situation in a brief six minutes.

I’ve made a few posts previously about some of the odd claims about medical tourism to various places. Being in Thailand I get to experience the health care here first hand on a regular basis. That experience prompted me to write up a little article busting a few common myths about medical tourism to Thailand. It’s up at the Ezine Articles website now so if you follow that link you can have a look.

The three myths I talk about are easy and sort of obvious, although the one about malpractice recourse is a little more opaque for someone who doesn’t regularly read news about Thailand. There is a fourth myth that I plan to write about in the future. It’s about the quality of care from private hospitals versus public hospitals in Thailand. I’m going through something at the moment, a saga of sorts, and some of the experiences have been rather enlightening. Long story for a future post or article.

How many countries are now claiming they are a top medical tourism destination? It seems like the list is getting pretty long and full of some very doubtful names. Today I saw a story that claims Iran is one of the world’s leading countries medical tourism. There are a lot of generalities but no numbers in the story. So when they claim that Iran is among the top 10 in the industry there isn’t much to base that on. They did say that Iran ranks second after America in bone spinal implants. That’s a pretty fine niche there. Maybe it’s true. Numbers? Not mentioned. They claim that most of their patients come from England, Sweden and Persian Gulf countries. The patients from Persian Gulf countries is a believable claim. The others – not so much. So this little story goes in the call ’em out category because it just isn’t credible and sounds like nothing but fluff given the complete lack of numbers and statistics.