Thoughts # 10 Stick, An Unreasonable Man?
As I get older I seem to get incredibly stronger.
OK, you may be wondering how. Well, perhaps it is just my perception but I must be stronger because how else would I be able to hold 1,400 books in just one hand and, with that very hand, how could I possible require only the use of two fingers to do so? Well as much as I would like to kid myself that I am getting stronger my little secret is very little indeed. As a matter of fact, in light of what it can do, it is tiny in comparison and only weighs 170 grams. It can keep going for 15 hours, which is roughly the length of time I spent on pleasurable activities with my teeruk when in bed (yes I am Italian, how did you guess) excluding pre and after showers. Despite its lasting power it does neither get hot nor does it sweat. What is it then? It is something called a Kindle;
So while in the old days, every so often, I would have to assemble a couple of Pickford removal boxes and split the books between those I would keep and those I would donate to the local hospice now I do not have to do so and when I have exceeded 1,400 books I do not have to re-arrange my library or have a new section built somewhere in the house because they are all at the back of this screen and I can store some in the “Cloud”. No, I have not gone mad, that is what they call their backup and recovery system
And the framed screen is so thin and so small that it can be carried with ease. As a matter of fact my teeruk wanted to play hide and seek with it or is it treasure’s hunt? It does not matter what the name of the game was really but she had me looking for it everywhere and guess where it was? Yes you guessed right and of course when I noticed it, well, it was a pleasure to look at it I can assure you.
Now, what does all this have to do with a Readers’ submission or a Thai-centric site? Well I was wondering how convenient it will be to view our own submissions on a Kindle. It has already Wi-Fi and 3G and the more expensive model also includes a dedicated email address and it can access both Wikipedia and Google. As if that is not enough, and this is a dream for someone like me who loves to become lost in reading, it has this most elegant feature eliminating the drawbacks of a physical book insofar as there is no book's glue, no stitching, or ink. All this basically disappear and, unlike a physical book, it is so light that you can get lost in your reading, not the technology.
Am I being unreasonable? Am I setting my expectations too high? Somehow, this does not sound right but, frankly, the thought of this question is irrelevant in this context because what matters is that I was reading George Bernard Shaw on my Kindle and I was captivated by a line where he remarked, “All progress depends on the unreasonable man”.
Now that is some quote, I thought and no sooner had I put down the book, pardon me, the Kindle, my eyes were caught by an old obituary from a discarded Sunday paper I was about to throw away. I cannot precisely put my finger on it but for some reason, I decided to read this first as a warm up before tackling the far more interesting Stickman’s weekly column.
On this occasion the obituary was that of Michael Stern Hart and it struck me as odd that his obituary was appearing before my eyes the very same morning I had decided to sit at the kitchen table with my Kindle, something that I do not usually do and, in case you do not happen to know, Mr Hart was the pioneer of the e-books and he has died not too long ago aged 64. May the Lord take care of his soul.
Now, if you had met him, you may have been forgiven to surmise that this American man was as mad as a hatter and in a way this does not come as a surprise but rather as further statistical evidence that Americans are, as a matter of fact, well, frequently at least, quite mad. Only Italians are perfect but everybody knows that, so what is the point of reminding everyone? Hold your horses American brothers and please do not blame old Tommaso for the way everyone loves you and respects you round the world. I mean, where would we be without your zealousness that the world is populated by insurgent Arabs (actually thinking of the one in Soi Cowboy you may well be right) and fanatical Muslims and without your innate belief that as the life of a number past prophets were cut rather abruptly the only one that can save us all from the evil and various cataclysms of the world is, well, you? OK let’s change the terminology and let’s say that Americans are not mad but eccentric. Is that better? Anyway I digress by seemingly engaging in a meaningless diatribe especially as many of my good friends are actually Americans. The point is that if progress belongs to the unreasonable man, then it follows that one must do what one believes one should do no matter of what others think that what one does may seem like a permanent derangement and, believe it or not, I am not talking about myself.
At this point before I lose you completely let me put to you a simple premise. What would you think of a man that one day, decided to start typing the entire Bible and then the novels of Jane Austen and who followed those with many more big volumes in his computer until by 1987, after 15 years since he had started, he had amassed an unbelievable 313 books? You see this is what Mr Hart did and then through technology with the arrival of scanning software, computer memory and the internet he realised his big ambition and not before long, some 36,000 works of literature were available to be downloaded free by anyone on the World Wide Web. With that, information, knowledge, erudition, wisdom, call it as you wish was available at the touch of a button and a few clicks of the mouse.
Now, pause for a moment and reflect, if you will, dear Brothers and Sisters. We are part of one big community here, are we not? A community held by that venerable nutty reader and editor in chief who responds to the name of Stick. Well my dear siblings, I am not going to ask you if you believe that Stick is an unreasonable man, of course he is unreasonable, that simple fact we have known for a very long time now. Is he bothered by the passion and conviction of what we write? I would suggest that he may be. As an example, let me remind you what he did recently after those interminable spells of rain which recently afflicted the fascinating city of Bangkok by turning its streets once more into a Venetian laguna. He acted promptly and with such dedication by beginning a daily update of the Bangkok floods. That is what I call service. Was it unreasonable for him to do so? You bet! And in that unreasonableness rests the core of his success.
It is a documented fact by now, well known all over Bangkok, that the mere appearance of Stick the prophet in Sukhumvit had the same effect that Moses had on Yam Suph also known as the Red Sea and in just a matter of hours from the moment Stick raised his medium length staff to the sky the water stopped and receded like a soi dog kicked by its owner back into its place. (By the way, if you care for data or you are damn curious or you are simply called Korski, then please refer to the Biblical narrative of the escape of the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus13:17-14:29)
Mind you, had the water not obeyed him, what a romantic grand entrance into Nana Plaza that would have been for Stick, aboard a fine gondola, but I digress caught in my emotional happy memories of Venezia la Serenissima.
Moving on, we have by now established, I hope, that after a decade at the helm, Stick is an unreasonable man but also a formidable modern age prophet and what evidence of progress can he provide under his stewardship? I hear you say. Well Brothers and Sisters, you are seeing it right now through your own eyes reading my very hurriedly put together notes as I dash to make another deadline and deliver to you another exclusive. Yes Brothers and Sisters, you guessed right once more. The evidence is provided by “The Readers’ Submissions” and more than 7,000 of them. A vademecum of truly biblical proportion next to which “War and Peace” is kids’ stuff and which is far too big to store even for the Kindle. This monumental work provides specific information and instructions on how “Farang Brothers and Sisters” can survive in what was the Land of Smiles and which more often than not it seems, regrettably, to be turning into the Land of Shady practices.
I put it to you that Stick IS the reason as to why the “flying club” has not increased his depressing membership. He IS the reason as to why some of us have decided to stay a little sober on a Sunday morning while feverishly awaiting his weekly delivery. He IS the reason why we can apply damage limitation to the various traps laid ahead for us. He IS the reason why when your teeruk says “I love and I miss you…” and in the same breath “Can you buy me that original Louis Vuitton bag and all related accessories that go with it because it was my dear mother’s last wish and it also happen to match my sick buffalo’s skin” alarm bells of all sounds and descriptions ring at the highest pitch in your head. Yes Brothers and Sisters, from the pulpit of a Bangkok skyscraper, preacher Stick is not asking us to repent, oh no! He is just advising us to be vigilant through an intelligent and well put together site, where his pictorial evidence is just as powerful as the written medium. He is delivering loud and clear simple messages such as “Caveat Emptor” and/or “Cave Canem” (Stick is fluent not just in Thai by the way but also Latin, Swahili, Maori, Mandarin and Neapolitan dialect in case you did not know).
Gone are the days when Brothers fell to the demand of a teary eyed teeruk and succumbed to the pecuniary embarrassment of the infamous Sin Sot. Gone are the days when the Arab could tempts us with his glitzy neon lights and when long time fees were expected for short time services. Gone are the times when we passively were too frightened to ask as to why the meter would not be switched on during a taxi ride and gone are the times when a tuk tuk demanded 100thb to drive us from the Nana car park to the Stumble Inn in Soi 4. Or more accurately, gone are the days when these facts could be concealed from the Stickmanite community. Then again “Ignorance” is not a defence in Law, so too bad for those who do not keep up to date.
It seems to me, we now have an opportunity to witness an epochal transformation by becoming yet a little wiser. Brothers Dana and Phet and Korski and Sawadee2000 and Caveman and Chiang Mai Kelly and far too many others to quote have taken the first brave steps by debunking myths and forewarning us with their most interesting writings. They have continued with their regular pilgrimage to provide an insight dissecting normalcy and expectations including useful dos and don’ts and venturing in unknown and faraway places. Sure there still are and there will always be those who prefer to appeal to Stick’s sense of fairness and plead with him with insistence to publish their “personal” complaints about something that one of our esteemed pioneers may have had the courage to say but “Americans and English” Brothers I call on you first, I call on your strong sense of independence and ask you do we really need to justify our belief in freedom of expression? Do we have a need to waste time on pointless demonstrations of intolerance comparable to the desire to pee every hour or so from a baby in nappies? Of course not. Therefore, let those few complainers who are unworthy of being addressed as Brothers and Sisters delude themselves that they may have something or other important or meaningful to say when they launch into a gratuitous attack of another reader/writer. Instead let’s firmly plant our stake-like submissions in the Stickland soil for all to see and let’s continue to open every outer layers of this inviting and fascinating smelly onion also known as the Thai world. Let’s invade their territory with our custom. Let’s observe, let’s learn Thai like a native, let’s infiltrate, let’s share and let’s get wiser as a result.
God bless you all (except the Arab in Soi Cowboy).