Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



Psst.  Are you planning a trip to Thailand?  Here's some good advice: Don't say anything negative about the Thai King.  Why?  Because it's against the law.  Thai officials will arrest you up, give you a sham trial and then lock you up!  Don't believe me?  Then ask JOE GORDON.  He helped translate the banned biography "The King Never Smiles."  On Thursday, he was convicted in a Bangkok court and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.  And...no...it doesn't matter if you're a Thai citizen, an American citizen or a visitor from Mars.  Say anything that "defames, insults, threatens, or is unflattering to the King" and you'll end up in jail. 

Psst.  Wanna impress someone from Thailand?  Here's some good advice:  Mention some random facts about King Rama IX.  You'll have a Thai friend for life.  Okay, it's hard to pronounce his real name (Bhunibol Adulyadej), so let's try these tidbits instead.  With 65 years on the throne, King Rama has the longest reign of any current monarch worldwide.  The King speaks three languages: Thai, French and English.  He is blind in his right eye after a car crash in Switzerland.  He holds a patent for a sprinkler design, composes jazz music and keeps two loaded pistols in his nightstand.  Finally, if your acquaintance is older, talk about how the King kept Thailand out of the Vietnam War.

Psst. Wanna know what not to talk about with folks from Thailand?  King Rama IX's wealth.  The anti-monarchists are furious about it and the conservatives are embarrassed by it.  Here are the facts: The Thai King is the richest royal on the planet.  Forbes estimates his wealth at $35 billion.  That bests Queen Elizabeth ($30 billion), the Sultan of Brunei ($20 billion) and the Saudi King Abdullah ($18 billion).  Rama owns three private jets including a Boeing 737 and an Airbus A319.  But the King is most proud of his crown jewels.  In fact, he owns the largest faceted diamond in the world.  The GOLDEN JUBILEE diamond has an amazing 545 carats!

Pssst. Are you planning to eat at a Thai restaurant soon?  Here's some good advice: Make sure there's a framed photo of the Thai King hanging on the wall.  Why?  Because everyone in Thailand worships the monarch and has pictures of him everywhere  So...if you want to know for sure the owners of the restaurant are from Thailand...look on the walls for that framed picture.  That way your meal will always be authentic and yummy!  You see, all other Asian nations (except Japan) have been colonized by a European power.  The kings and emperors of Laos, China, Burma, Korea...have all been long disposed and replaced by boring prime ministers.  But not in Thailand!  Here...and in Thai restaurants worldwide...the King still reigns supreme.

Psst. Wanna know how to annoy the crap out of your readers?  Begin five paragraphs the same exact way! Sorry about that literary stumble.  Okay...to summarize.  The love of the Thai king runs deep in the heart and minds of Siam.  This would be fine...except for the fact that the king actually believes he is above the law.  He is cool having astronomical wealth while many in his country of 66 million are horribly poor.  The final evidence of King Rama's lunacy is his official title.   As with Gaddafi and Kim Jong Il, King Rama has a ridiculous amount of flowery, descriptive words following his name.  Here it is:  (Thanks...Wikipedia!)

Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit

พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดช มหิตลาธิเบศรรามาธิบดี จักรีนฤบดินทร สยามินทราธิราช บรมนาถบพิตร
  • Phra—a third person pronoun referring to the person with much higher status than the speaker, meaning "excellent" in general. The word is from Sanskrit vara ("excellent").
  • Bat—"foot," from Sanskrit pāda.
  • Somdet—"lord," from Khmer "samdech" ("excellency").
  • Poraminthara—"the great," from Sanskrit parama ("great") +indra ("leader")
  • Maha—"great," from Sanskrit,  "maha"
  • Bhumibol—"Strength of the Land," from Sanskrit bhumi ("land") +bala ("strength")
  • Adulyadej—"Incomparable power," from Sanskrit atulya ("incomparable") +teja ("power")
  • Mahitalathibet—"Son of Mahidol"
  • Ramathibodi—"Rama," the Avatar of God Vishnu to become the great ruler"; from Sanskrit rama + adhi ("great") + patī ("president")
  • Chakkrinaruebodin—"Leader of the People who is from the House of Chakri, from Sanskrit Cakrī + nari ("men") + patī ("president")
  • Sayamminthrathirat—"the Great King of Siam," from Sanskrit Siam (former name of Thailand) + indra + ati ("great") + rāja ("king)
  • Borommanatbophit— "the Royalty who is the Great Shelter", from Sanskrit parama ("great") + nādha ("the one who others can depend on" or "Power/Right") + "pavitra" ("royalty")

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