A sobering thought

A sobering thought

First I thought I was still suffering from my New Year's day hangover when I read SB's astonishing suggestions for the political development in Thailand in 2012 (Postbag, Jan 1). It didn't get any better when reading that letter again after sobering up. Does this soft-hearted but rather naive American really suggest that ''all differences between the political parties be put aside''?

This would mean that we really need only one party and _ as Pheu Thai was overwhelmingly elected to power _ follow SB's advice and ''in the spirit of democracy pull together and support the party in power''. He could start with this sort of advice in his own country and see how the Democrats and the Republicans could pull together.

Like Pheu Thai, Hitler was also overwhelmingly and democratically elected to power and the majority of the hood-winked German voters pulled together to support him.

The rest is history.

Yes, ''corruption needs to be eliminated permanently'', but to start with calling Thaksin anything else but a ''fugitive former PM'', (maybe unfairly ousted former PM?) and insist on him facing the music would hardly be conducive to reconciliation and eliminating corruption in the future.

Luckily my mood improved greatly when I discovered Crutch's forecast for 2012 in today's Bangkok Post.

Much closer to reality.


To forgive, or not ...

Forgiveness is a great human ability. If somebody sincerely is sorry about what he/she has done and wants to do better in the future, forgiveness is the right thing to do. If somebody however is hell-bent to do exactly the same as in the past and maybe even worse then forgiveness is absolutely not in order. No, this person should be fought with all strength, it does not matter how many votes he/she got. We all know how money can trample on democracy.


River under a river

Tunneling has been suggested by some experts in Thailand as an absolute necessity for future flood control and flood prevention here, but modern high-rise buildings have pilings (foundations) so deep that they might preclude putting tunnels under a city like Bangkok.

The exception to that, of course, is the Chao Phraya River itself: it would involve a massive undertaking, but a huge tunnel running deep under the Chao Phraya a river-under-a-river that could be opened or closed, if desired, could conceivably double the current capacity of the river. As all viable ideas should be considered, this is one more.


English as she is noted

2012 has been designated as ''The English Speaking Year'' by Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul in preparation for the full advent of Asean Economic Community participation in 2015. A new notion of cross-cultural communicative competence is needed, which recognises ''English as a World Language'' serving as a productive means to enhance regional, international and intra-cultural perspectives.

Achieving communicative competence will help transform developing young minds into knowledgeably curious adult creative thinkers. The individualised learner-centred focus should help enable each and every student to freely express himself or herself on matters relevant to everyday life and to become savvy participants in determining their own future decision-making priorities.

Communicative competence integrates learning and playing, for a fun-tastic edutainment blend of high energy tasks and activities, including games. songs, role-play, improvised dialogs and oral interviews, all intended to motivate and interest students with authentic functional-notional content from across the curriculum which appeals to a variety of learning styles. The developmental focus is on:

- stimulating communicative competence and applied usage not boring obsolete grammar-translation

- active involvement not passive indifference

- lively activity not deadly passivity

- understanding and being understood not faultless fluency

- daring to risk making mistakes not fear of committing incorrect errors

- realistic pursuit of excellence not idealised unachievable perfection

- striving for practical ''want to'' know-how not compulsory, theoretical ''have to'' abstracts

- becoming self-aware articulate speakers not mimicking parrot-like quackers

It should be noted that English is ''an'' not ''the'' international language, standing alongside respectable alternatives such as Chinese, Arabic and Spanish, with the shared goal of encouraging and promoting linguistic multiversity. Already nearly a quarter of the world's population is fluent or functionally competent in English, and the figure is growing steadily, especially via the Internet where 80% of computerised data and 85% of all information stored are in English. The IT future is now.


Doggone _ my mistake

In my letter of Jan 1 I urged the readers to Google ''oh for the life of me puppy mills''. I should have told them to Google ''oh for the LOVE of me puppy mills''. By putting in this correction the readers will be able to Google the information about how dogs from the puppy mills are treated in Thailand. I apologise for my error.


The fine print

Will someone at the Bangkok Post kindly make a decision for the New Year not to print so often on black backgrounds? Khun Voranai's 2 pages in ''Spectrum'' were extremely difficult to read, as were many other items in the Sunday Post.

The Post has occasionally used tan on a pale blue background as well, rendering reading nearly impossible. Get sensible, guys! The newspaper is for me to read, not for you to test your creativity in color contrasts and newsprint.


Solar at a dollar

''Many analysts project a higher cost for solar photovoltaic energy because they don't consider recent technological advancements and price reductions,'' says Joshua Pearce, adjunct professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queens University in Ontario, Canada. ''Older models for determining solar photovoltaic energy costs are too conservative.''

Equipment costs are determined based on dollars per watt of electricity produced. One 2010 study estimated this cost at US$7.61. According to Dr Pearce, the current real cost is under $1 per watt for solar panels purchased in bulk.

Dr Pearce believes solar photovoltaic systems are near the ''tipping point'' where they can produce energy for about the same price as other traditional sources of energy _ including energy produced by fossil fuels.

When compared to the costs of nuclear power plants, solar is head and shoulders a better deal, as there are large open-ended costs with nuclear, such as disaster mop-up responsibilities, ill-defined disposing of waste, and inevitable decommissioning of plants.

Chiang Rai

136 Na Ranong Road Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110
Fax: +02 2403666 email: postbag@bangkokpost.co.th

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