Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Pure Ones Do Nothing

This is about evolution from philosophical ideas and ideals to religion and superstition, the nature of reality and the nature of myth. I am making five hardback editions of the book, having made several paperback versions previously. It is available for free download here:
I hope that others will find the material within as enjoyably interesting as I have.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bird baby

One of our dogs caught a baby mynah bird learning to fly. The kids brought it home and our next door neighbor gave us a small cage, which we used the first night. My wife's mother and grandmother, true-life jungle people, were here, and my mother-in-law stuck food down the little thing (about 2 inches wide and three long - was longer but the tail feathers fell out) with a toothpick. It was allowed outside, wandered about in the grass some. I brought it in - it really can't travel well! But due to it objecting to me (it didn't yesterday; too hungry and scared I guess) I was able to get food into its open mouth. One pellet didn't go down (mixed with banana made too big a lump I guess) so I tried the heimlick maneuver, then resorted to pouring a capfull of water down. Seems to have worked. The poor guy sure quieted down. Tired, I think...
We put it in a basket with one of the remarkable fancy nests one sometimes finds about here – see second photo … but due to very cool rain, it’s now back inside, sleeping with head tucked under wing.
A Facebook friend from Australia sez: “The common Mynah is a very serious threat to the survival of many parrots. It is illegal to release one into the wild… Mynahs… deprive the other birds form nesting sites… love humans and their food scraps… have been called feathered cane toads by many biologists.” Another FB friend: hummingbirds “can fly 500 miles without stopping. Black birds eat them… The black bird she pointed to could be a raven. They sometimes fly with their mouths wide open.”

When i first came here, 1988, the area was still largely forest, the population was small, few roads were even paved and most houses were wood. Now there are "metaled" roads everywhere, lots of cement shop-houses built 20+ years ago and never ever used, and ubiquitous wi-fi. We do have lots of national park, more than any other province, which I am glad of, but the forestry department competes well as most graft-filled (police, state railway and a few others run about neck and neck) and schools are mostly for nationalistic indoctrination. Our world's a mess; I think Chiang Rai is one of the finest places in it. But I will eventually release the crow or myna. If it chooses to stick around, that's OK too.

sorry about the picture quality. cameras having become obsolete, one uses hand-phones, but I don't. With much exasperation (!) I took those shots with an old lap-top...

When I was a kid, both in Decatur GA and Ft Wayne IN, local hardware store had a mynah on a post and it could say a few words. Light chain around a foot, though

A friend adopted a baby bird, raising it until it could go off on its own. She ran an outdoor bar, where I'd sometimes sit. The little bird would fly down to visit... she'd feed it sunflower seeds from her mouth.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Empire of Truth

Here in Chiang Rai, Thailand, between WiangPaPao and MaeSuai on Rt 118, at Ban MaePrik, is a Phra Naresuan shrine. At the back is a huge map purporting to be of King Naresuan’s empire, about 1600 CE. The area claimed for him is huge, encompassing Laos, much of Burma, a lot of Yunnan, the Thai/Malay isthmus and of course all of present Thailand. The map is a result of nationalist fantasy. The concept of a country, or of geographical boundaries, didn’t exist here back then. A king ruled people, including other kings (often relatives), not area. Tribute was paid, and this gets misinterpreted as a kind of tax affirming subject status. But were this the actual case, Southeast Asia would have been a part of China. No-one claims that.
The reason I’m bothered about this is another map, purportedly of the Khmer Empire of 900 CE, which includes all of Laos, some of Vietnam and Yunnan, and a lot of the isthmus. It’s ridiculous. Wikipedia, which shows that map (it also appears elsewhere on the Net), has become used as a propaganda device, manipulated, censored and sometimes controlled by powers with other concerns than truth. For instance, try finding out about the nefarious influence the sugar industry on international politics. You won’t get much of its sordid history. Or look up Armenia. You’ll no longer find that that country has been in four separate, non-contiguous locations. Explanation of WWI as the result of power vacuums resultant from decadence and decline in the Asutro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires should surely be easier to find. The internet isn’t supposed to be this way.
We need to be able to return to the challenges of conflicting viewpoints and messages, varied interpretations of information, and the right of people to challenge authority. But authority, as ever in the clutches of power madness, strenuously disapproves of that. Stuff needs to be swept under the rug or otherwise hidden away, so that the status quo will only be changed in the direction of, well, of destabilizing the power system by too rigorously reinforcing it.
Human power is never permanent. No matter what it does, power can’t stop change, can’t dictate what is real, and can’t reinvent the world. People in Laos KNOW they were never ruled by Khmers (well, except in the far south). People here in Chiang Rai, and north of here, know this too. Most interested historians also know it.
When fact presentation becomes overly influenced by special interests (nationalism, self-interest, corporate greed) instead of based on unbiased faith in truth as instrumental for the greater good, we get knowledge stratification at best, or, far too often, knowledge suppression. An inability to share is also an inability to enjoy the true fruits of labor, inspiration and intelligent, dedicated focus.
To understand the rise and fall of empires, the migrations of peoples, changes in linguistic usage and awareness, to truly know anything of our development, it’s necessary to contain the ego and stifle many desires. That the result can be worth it needs no proof.
The dark, curly-haired populace of Oc Eo and Funan were surely people who followed coastlines (back then lower) from Africa to Australia. They are no longer much in evidence in Cambodia, and one reason is wars of conquest which brought in other peoples – often highland ones.
Trying to administer distant peoples was only a recent folly; Angkor never tried to rule northern Laos, or the Thai/Malay isthmus. There is no reason to think they could have. Even Naresuan didn’t try to administer what he “conquered”! It was understood that distance from power-centers lessens power.
Much published research isn’t available to me; Amazon doesn’t want to ship here (Thailand) and purchasing electronic downloads sight-unseen makes little sense to me. I can’t afford it anyway, not and feed my children. It would be nice if the internet would provide better forums for discussion, but I suppose that would require an absurd new form of ‘peer-review’: deciding who has the right to the attention of whom.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vehicles in Thai

A new chapter of a book on "Thai Lingo" I've been working on for a few years:

Lesson 20: Vehicles

Cars are roat yohn (rot yon or roht yawn); on the news, motorcycles are rot jakayan yon (jakayan are bicycles). Otherwise they’re roht-kreuang or rot motor-sai. Pick-ups can be that (roht pick-up) or roht ka-bak.
One particularly Thai vehicle is the rowt ee-taan, flat-bed vehicles with the length of the steering column (kaen phuang ma-lai; the steering wheel itself, just phuang ma-lai) usually fully visible, often no roof, maybe a few boards for sides, and usually cluttered with old junk. Farm vehicles, they’re quite slow, not driven on busy roads, and typically have no license plate (tambian rot, which electric bikes, jakayan fai fai, don’t need either). Not so long ago farmers used quai lek (metal buffalos, which one walks behind) to plow fields; now they use roht tai na tractors.
A roht back-hoe is also called a roht makro, but I’ve yet to discover why. A front-end loader is a roht-tak or rot krat-din, a wrecker a rowt-laak, and a crane, roht crane. 10 wheelers are roht ban-tuk or rowt sip-loh. When two trailers are connected and pulled by one cab, that’s a rot-pheuang.
The trunk of a car is tii sai khong tai roht, usually simplified to tai roht. From British English, it can also be the boot (but on my car at least, a boot is also something at the inside of the two front-axle halves). Turn signals are sanyan fai, brakes, kreuang ham law or just brake, brake shoes, rong-tao break or pah-brake. Radiator, moh-nam. Spare parts, khreuang alai or just alai (low tone), as in yang alai, spare tire. Spark plugs are hua-tian (candle heads), transmission fluid nam-man geah. The horn to honk, tray (alternately shown as trae). Accelerator, ti raeng nam-man or just kan-raeng.
The seat of a motorcycle is boh-nang. Inner-tubes, yang-nai, while the outer tire, yang nok. The classifier for tires is sai. To increase tire air pressure, term lom.
Sai-fai-phuang are jump cables, a dent roi bup, and chon to hit something. So, tam rot boop jak gan chon kan means Make a dent by hitting another car. To coast is dap kruang roht lae ploi hail en long nin khao.
Dern mai ree-up (or riap) means it’s not running smoothly.

Monday, April 10, 2017


Clearing a path for a driveway to a section of my property I intend to sell off, I found borapet vines wrapped around a dead bamboo and extending underneath the ground-cover of dead bamboo leaves. I smashed and boiled some, drank the bitter infusion a couple times, and enjoyed a sense of strength and energy. Then worked too hard and afterwards became extremely tired… My wife had said not to use too much of it as it would make me 'mao' (drunk)
The bitterness can be ameliorated by adding licorice, honey and green tea.
Borapet is reputed to kill intestinal parasites. It certainly affects gut flora and activity, but perhaps not all for the good. After using it several times I couldn't eat anything with MSG (way popular and overused around here) without laying down for hours afterwards. I think that after not using borapet for a while I can enjoy Khao soi gai again, but am not yet ready to try.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Persian influence in the founding of Ayudhaya?

About 3000 years ago, a mountain people from the Badakshan area of Central Asia (northeastern Afghanistan and southeastern Tajikistan), an important trading center through which the “Silk Road” passed, became tempted by thoughts of wealth in lowlands to their west, which they were becoming strong enough to consider appropriating. These people of Kamboja, or Kambujiya, had strong belief in hierarchy, divine will and the right of might. To them, to be able to take was a mandate to do so, within the natural, moral compass and order of things. How could it be else-wise?
In the 9th century BCE they took Persis (now Fars Province of Iran, where Shiraz is), then Anshan (in the Zagros mountains of southwestern Iran), a quite ancient civilization, and soon the whole Iranian plateau.
The empire at around 500 BCE stretched from the Indus Valley in the east to Thrace and Macedonia; it eventually controlled Egypt and encompassed approximately 8 million square kilometers; in 480 BCE it is estimated to have had 50 million people. At its greatest extent, it had absorbed the modern territories of Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, most of Turkey, parts of Libya, Georgia and Azerbaijan, much of the Black Sea coastal regions and extensive parts of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Oman. They may well have been the root of the Ksyatriya caste, India’s ruling and military elite who were in charge of protecting society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime, and Gautama Buddha was most likely one of them (see the work of Ranajit Pal, who faces much disparagement but seems to me spot on, at least about some things).
Some of these Persian Ksyatriyas created the Srivijaya maritime empire, a splinter group from which met other Kambojas who had come overland (eventually following the path of the Mekong) to the Tonle Sap in what was then the kingdom of Chenla (Zhenla) and what is now Cambodia. These two groups, united by racial background and world-view, would have had trouble communicating verbally after a millennia and a half of differing influences on their language, but they saw the locals in quite the same way. Together they enslaved the local aboriginals, built the extensive Angkor Wat complexes, became known as the Khom and eventually formed the core of Siamese royalty and what became Thailand. As less than 1% has great difficulty holding in slavery over 99%, when drought and the Black Plague hit about 1300 CE, the Angkor Empire started to crumble, its edifices, by the time of the rise of Ayudhaya, left as a bad memory to become over-run by jungle, and the Khom were almost forgotten. Jit Phoumisak, called by some the only Thai intellectual, wrote about this, and seems as a result to have been executed. David K. Wyatt of Cornell University, the foremost historian on Thailand, might well have wanted to write on it, too, but wanted even more to be able to return to Thailand for visits, and so did not, although some of his later writings show interest in the surrounding controversies.
Srivijaya, like the Dutch and British East India Companies, merely expropriated ports, with “Factory” warehouses, and didn't attempt administration of colonies (Ligor, now Nakorn Sri Thammarat, Thailand, a possible exception), but the Khom rulers of the Khmer (pronounced “kha-may", the first syllable just like the Thai word for slave) raised rule to an art form, beguiling a gullible public with magical incantations and other bewitchery for half a millennium.

This is fascinating: in his “A history of Cambodia” David Chandler says, “In the 17th century, according to Dutch sources, foreign traders were required to love in specific areas of the new capitol, Udong, reserved for them and to deal with the Cambodian government only through appointed representatives, or shabandar.”
Wikipedia says, “S̲h̲āhbandar (Persian: شه‌بندر‎‎, lit. “harbourmaster”), was an official of the ports in Safavid Persia and one also known on other shores of the Indian Ocean. The Shahbandar (Port Master) was in charge of the traders and the collection of taxes. The office of shahbandar first appeared in Persia, and from there spread throughout the Indian Ocean basin.” Chandler doesn’t mention Persians though.
Yup, Persian influence in SE Asia goes WAY back. As Dr. Ranajit Pal put it, “evidence has revealed the presence of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, as far west as Persia. Family seals and records found at Persepolis, the ancient capital of the fourth Persian Emperor, Darius the Great, have been identified and associated with the names of Siddhartha Gautama and his father, Suddhodana Gautama. … Even the Indus Culture (India) is a colony of the Sumerian Empire, ...”
I was researching to write about Vasco de Gama for one of my novels, and ended up parroting others who had him meeting (and battling with) Arab traders in the Arabian Sea area, as if Persians would not have come down from the Persian Gulf… I’ve corrected that now. Clearly, Persians did travel and interact to the east and south of their home area, and why not? I’ve yet to have solid evidence for my speculations about their possible influence on Angkor, yet, though.
Seems likely to me that well before Persians became bureaucrats for Cambodian and Thai kings, they traded through a large coastal area extending until Chinese influence and control became too strong to deal with. Over centuries, they became knowledgeable in methods of control, lost interest in colonization or active political control in preference to manipulations through trade (for the most part), doing what Portuguese, Dutch and British later did with their “East India” companies. A break-away group forged Angkor, though, and kept an empire until Han population explosion and conquest of Han people by Mongols changed the socio-political situation enough that an alliance with T’ai peoples, emigrating for safety’s sake from their Southern Chinese homelands, seemed an appropriate recourse. Pressures from Vietnamese peoples may have contributed.
Anyway, mangroves clogging the northern shores of the Gulf of Siam were reduced in extent sufficiently that a new port city on the ChaoPraya River could be built, and a descendant of Shan/Lanna royalty invited to come rule. The rulers of Angkor and their hangers-on, Chinese merchants from Kwantung and others formed a new elite for this new city, which they called Ayudhaya, after a mythological city from the Ramayana tale. Eventually integration of their descendants with locals created the distinction from Malays that has become much more noticeable over the last century.
Cambodia was left with neither a strong elite nor much of a trading community (except for Vietnamese who took control of the ports that had exported their forest products), lost population and area and became a kind of satellite state controlled by Siamese and Vietnamese rivals.
This explains more to me than any other scenario I have encountered, and leaves fewer holes, less confusion, and so, utilizing Occam’s Razor, I accept it without the kind of proofs Western academicians prefer.

But I do have this: Tibet and Altai are high-altitude places a series of conquerors descended from. Tajikistan might be another. People from there, or other mountains nearby, conquered Persia and almost Ancient Greece. Their Achaemenid Empire was huge but historians have underestimated it, I think. They didn’t only go West, but also East, along the Old Silk Road and to the headwaters of the Mekong, down that river and finally to Cambodia, the name of which comes from them. Marco Polo’s ludicrous account of descending steadily downhill for three months, into what is now Myanmar, may well be a reflection of this, taken from stories Turk traders heard from Tajiks. After Cambyses II, (A Tajik descendant, I am suggesting), son of Cyrus the Great, uncle of Xerxes died in a Libyan sandstorm (or something close enough), some of his people turned back and tried India instead, forming the Kshatriyan caste of India and then the Srivijayan maritime empire based in Ligor and Java. One of their explorers, finding descendants of Tajik traders near Tonle Sap, decided to go for real empire instead of just trading, and with the help of a “5th column” of distant relatives, was able to found the Angkor Empire. In 1431, secrets of kingship gleaned over two millennium were used to found Ayudhaya, a trading partner for Southern Chinese loathe to remain subjects of Beijing (or Xanadu, X’ian, of Mongols, Ming or Qing). To accomplish this, when they were overthrown by a successful slave revolt, they allied themselves with T’ai princes pushed south not only by Mongol conquests but by Han Chinese population expansion. Later, others from Persia formed the backbone of Thailand’s Chakri Dynasty’s bureaucracy… Mountain people who ate fresh meat and forest products tended to be much hardier than lowland grain-eating agriculturists, and sometimes found opportunity to enrich themselves through their strength and simultaneously gain revenge on the “civilized” folk who despised them. To maintain supremacy, they found elaborate, formal high-church-like ceremony endowed with purported accouterments of power and embellished with semblances of magic importantly helpful. The pageantry, as it often does, worked, but they had to continually work at it, becoming, in a way, increasingly slaves to their slaves. Thus the switch to “maritime empire,” which was often equally rewarding but less demanding. Ports in India, Indonesia and at Ligor became havens of luxury. But some, as happens, sociopathically aspired to God-hood. Wealth and power weren’t enough; adulation and sycophancy were desired also. And so, Babylon, Constantinople, Angkor, Xanadu (X’ian) and perhaps Ayudhaya, although in its case, the mountain people must have been at greater remove from their ancestral mountains. I suspect it was similar with the Aztecs. Incas, however, stayed in their mountains (and I know little of their pageantry, except that they had plenty). I suspect that secrets of mass-manipulation have been handed down. This theory might help explain mafia influence in some current governments… Capishe?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lampang Medicinal Hospital herbs

Anyone know why Lampang Midicinal Plants Conservation Assembly products have disappeared from the shelves of ChiangRia healthfood shop shelves? Or have any opinions abuot this article?