Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Midway from the Japanese perspective

Above is a video that nicely details the conditions that drove Japanese tactical decisions during the Battle of Midway. It ends with the sinking of 3 Japanese carriers by American dive bombers. Unfortunately, his promised Part II never got posted, so break off before the Japanese counter-strike and the eventual loss of their 4th carrier. Still, in the part we can watch the Japanese situation is explained very well.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The tomb of Ramesses VI

Click any image to enlarge
These are screencaps from a 3D virtual tour of the tomb of Ramesses VI. You can follow the link to take the tour. You control your movements in the tomb and what you're looking at as you traverse it. It's an interesting look into a pharaoh's resting place in the Valley of the Kings. I wonder what the effect was when it was lit by torches?

The tomb is from the 12th century BC. During Ramesses VI's reign the southern reaches of Egypt experienced some turmoil, control of Canaan (Palestine) was gradually lost and the economy suffered a downturn. Not the happiest of times.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Thursday, July 09, 2020

O-Negative (the kids go berserk, each in their own way)

Episode 25 of the Thai TV show O-Negative (Episode 24) starts at the point where Foon tells Peun that she's pregnant. There is a lot of stuff packed into this episode, so this will be a long recap.

I've started this post with a video of แค่เธอรักฉัน (Just You Love Me) which is the main theme song of the show. This version, sung by Tata Young, was used in the movie the show is based on. The clips in it are from the movie, I found it interesting to see the scenes with different actors. From the repeated viewings I've done of the episodes to write these recaps, that song has been seared into my brain, so you may as well have to hear it as well.

Anyway, after Foon tells Peun she's pregnant he stands there shocked, not saying anything as he absorbs the news. She leaves him and returns to her house where her parents are concerned about her because of her earlier tantrum. When she comes home she ignores their questions and goes into her room where she sits on the floor and breaks down crying again. With the amount of blubbering she's been doing I'm starting to get worried she'll dehydrate. Be sure to drink plenty of water Foon.

At least Daddy Peun's advice isn't so stupid this time around
Elsewhere, Peun is sitting in his back yard with his mom and dad. He has told them about Foon's pregnancy and says that he is pathetic and it is all his fault. He'll get no argument from us over that. He adds that he has no idea what to do. His dad tells him that he'll need to marry her because he got her pregnant.

Peun tells him it isn't so simple, that Foon won't agree to marry him. Both his dad and mom tell him it is too soon to know if she'll marry him or not. They tell him that both he and Foon need to calm down before they can really make that decision. Peun's dad also says he can talk to Foon's parents about a marriage. Actually, I think that's the route things would probably go, but Peun tells his father it is too soon for that.

His mother reminds him, "whatever happens between you two your child has done nothing wrong and has all the rights to be born into this world." Abortion is largely illegal in Thailand, a fact which will hang over much of what happens this episode.

We cut to that night, where we have a brief scene of Prim sitting on the back deck of her house and looking at a picture of her mother. She remembers her mom's advice that she should make friends first and then worry about dating.

I guess Art hasn't met a nice French girl
We then cut to an Art sighting. Heh, I almost forgot about him. He's wandering around Paris taking pictures of this and that. His voice over is the text of a postcard he is writing to O Group. He tells them he's doing fine. He won an amateur photography contest and received €3,000 for the victory. His pictures are also hanging in a galley and he's encouraged by his progress. Winters is coming, it is getting colder and he sometimes gets lonely. He hopes they can someday come to visit him.

When he is done writing the postcard he reaches into a box and pulls out an older postcard. It looks like the same type of card the vendor on the Bangkok/Kanchanaburi train sold. It is addressed to Prim, but was never sent.

We next see Prim outside of her house. She is looking at the postcard Art sent to O Group, She stands next to a taxi with a suitcase. She turns and looks wistfully over her shoulder back at her house. With the soundtrack dramatically blaring away, she gets in the cab and it drives off.

Foon asks Chompoo for a favor
We cut to Chompoo in her parent's Chinese pharmacy. She gets a call from Foon. When Chompoo answers it she's upset over last night's fight between Foon and Prim. She's also mad at Foon for not answering her earlier calls. Foon oddly replies, "nothing will happen anymore." Chompoo asks what's wrong and Foon asks for a pill. What pill Chompoo wonders. Foon wants an abortion pill.

Concerned, Chompoo goes over to Foon's house to talk to her. She doesn't bring an abortion pill, so Foon says she'll buy it elsewhere. Chompoo says nobody will sell her the pill. When Chompoo asks how long Foon has been pregnant she says three months.

Three months! The interlude on the beach was three months ago? So all this drama with Foon, Prim and Peun has been going on that long? The time-line in this stretch of the story is pretty wonky. Some of it may just be Thai story telling conventions, but I suspect part of it is because the producers of the show had to stretch a 104 minute long movie into 26 hour long episodes, and things that worked when they were compressed stood out a little more in the longer treatment.

Anyway, back to Chompoo and Foon. Chompoo continues to argue against Foon getting an abortion saying, "the baby has done nothing wrong. Why do you want to kill it?" Foon says she doesn't want to trouble her friend. Chompoo points out that Peun is a boyfriend and not just a friend. Foon corrects her, saying it is about a friend, that it is about Prim.

Prim? Oh right, Prim and Foon are supposed to be best friends. Chompoo continues to plead with Foon to not get an abortion, but Foon is convinced that, right or wrong, it is the only way to solve the problem.

Prim plots to hit the road
We then jump to a scene of Prim giving Ms. Duang the keys to her house and telling her to rent it. So, Prim is actually leaving Bangkok altogether. Ms. Duang asks Prim why she is doing this. Prim says it is for her friends. Ms. Duang guesses it is so Prim can visit her friends, but Prim replies, "for the sake of her friends."

About this point it begins to dawn on me that this sequence -- running all the way back to the arguments of the previous episode -- is about Prim and Foon's friendship falling apart more than anything. That's why Peun has avoided any real condemnation for his dirtball antics. Starting with the hazing in Episode 1, this show has repeatedly stressed the importance of group friendship above all else. Art, Peun, Foon and Prim orbiting each other romantically has caused O Group to fall apart.

That said, part of the problem with the show is it has never quite sold the notion that these kids are really such great friends. Aside from the time they came together to help Prim when she went crazy and started tending to her ghost mom, they mainly interacted by either sneaking around flirting with each other, telling lies, or occasionally all getting together to knock back beers at Go's bar. They seem more like acquaintances than close friends.

We cut to Foon's home studio where Peun is sitting and waiting for her. I wonder why he is so sweaty when I realize all the moisture is actually from tears streaming down his face. Seesh Peun, pull yourself together. He tries to call Foon and gets no answer. Feh, such heart string pulling isn't going to work on me. If he knew Prim was in a taxi headed to the airport he'd be after her so fast he'd create a sonic boom.

Chompoo frantically tries to stop Foon
We cut to Foon's car pulling up to a clinic. Inside Chompoo is absolutely frantic as she tries to talk Foon out of getting an abortion. She pleads, "please don't do this. You're committing a sin. The baby is innocent." Still, Foon is adamant. When Foon gets out of the car Chompoo continues to beg, she reminds Foon that what she is doing is illegal. In the end none of Chompoo's appeals work. Foon enters the clinic.

Chompoo is near hysterical. All she can think of is to call Peun to see if he can help and intervene with Foon. I've got to say that Goy Arachaporn Pokinpakorn, the actress who plays Chompoo, did a fine job of showing Chompoo sinking ever deeper into panic and desperation in these scenes. Then again, in spite of being largely the comic relief in the show, I think she's arguably been the best actor of the ensemble.

Foon faces her decision
In the clinic Foon is told to change into some other clothes for the operation. As she sits down in the chair the soundtrack switches to an a capella version of the theme song. We have a montage where we see Peun racing trying to make it to the clinic in time, Chompoo is distraught outside of the clinic, and Prim in the backseat of the taxi. As the doctor injects Foon with a local sedative she flashes back to happier times in earlier episodes. Then, as the doctor picks up the scalpel and forceps, we fade to black.

When we return Foon comes out of the clinic and hugs the tearful Chompoo. Foon says to Chompoo, "I'm sorry. I couldn't do it. I'm sorry." Upon hearing that, Chompoo goes from being upset to being ecstatic. She tells Foon that she did good, and promises to help raise the baby.

Foon then tells Chompoo she wants to apologize to Prim. Peun just misses them at the clinic as they leave to find Prim. In the car Foon tries to call Prim but gets no answer. At the same time Peun calls Chompoo. She doesn't answer and when Foon asks who it was calling Chompoo lies and says it was an unknown number.

However, Peun calls again and Foon sees his picture as the caller ID on the phone. Foon gets mad when she sees who is calling. Chompoo tells her she called Peun because she didn't know what else to do to try to stop Foon. Chompoo then tries to get Foon to talk to Foon, but that infuriates Foon even more who grabs the phone to turn it off. The two struggle over the phone. Uh... you might want to watch the road Foon.  

Remember kids - don't text and drive
As the girls fight over the phone a truck enters from a side road. Tires squeal. The girls scream. There is a crash.

When Chompoo comes to Foon is draped over the driver's wheel. After a brief shot of Prim in the taxi looking at her plane ticket to Paris, we join Chompoo who is riding in an ambulance with the badly injured Foon who is unconscious, in a neck brace, and covered with blood.

Foon gets rushed to the Samrong General Hospital. Peun arrives as they take Foon out of the ambulance and wheel her into the emergency room. The doctors and nurses do all matter of emergency medical things, sticking tubes in her and what-not, as Chompoo and Peun watch in tears.

We jump to the airport where Prim is standing in front of the arrivals/departures board. She gets a group message from Chompoo saying that there is an urgent need for O-negative blood donors. She claims the blood type is rare. Wait a second - rare? When, all the way back in Episode 2, they formed the O Group because they all had that blood type Art mocked the idea because it was such a common blood type. He even joked that everybody else on the ferry probably also had it.

However, in looking it up O-negative blood is rather rare at about 7% of the population. I guess the error was in the earlier scene. Anyway, in her message Chompoo goes on to say it is for Foon, who is in the ICU.

Foon's hat trick: no driver's license, texting while driving and no seatbelt
We cut to the waiting room at the hospital. Chompoo, Peun and Foon's parents are there. As they nervously wait a nurse walks by with the blood supply that Foon needs. Shortly after Prim arrives. After checking on Foon's condition, Prim is concerned about Chompoo's injuries. Chompoo has a bandage on her forehead. I notice it is in the same place as the bandage she got in Episode 3 after Art clobbered her. She tells Prim that she's OK, but that Foon wasn't wearing a seatbelt which is why she got injured more seriously.

Later we see Prim take out her airplane ticket and throw it in the garbage. She missed her flight coming back to see how Foon and Chompoo were.

Even later they are all in the waiting room again. Peun walks over and sits down next to Prim. He starts going on about how it is all his fault and that he caused it all. I hate to defend Peun, but Foon's astoundingly crappy driving had something to do with it as well. He then asks Prim what he should do, because he messed up everything. Prim responds, "you have to make everything right then." Sadly, she doesn't follow that up with a couple of knuckle sandwiches.

At that point the doctor comes out and says Foon has made it safely through whatever medical procedures they did. Foon's parents, Chompoo and Peun all rush into Foon's room. Prim stays back at the door. Foon's rich parents must be paying top dollar for her care, because I notice the nurses took the extra effort to apply makeup to Foon. It is important that one look their best while cutely convalescing.

Peun blabbers to barely conscious Foon that it is all his fault and that he now loves her. Prim, with a single tear rolling down her cheek, quietly says to herself, "I'm leaving, Foon." She turns and walks away.

Prim finds Art in Paris
We move to Paris where Art has just finished drawing a portrait for a tourist. Another customer arrives. When he looks up he is surprised to see it is Prim. He wonders how she found him. She says she remembered him saying he liked to draw at that spot, so she came to it to search for him. Yea, that sounds plausible.

He wonders who she came with and she tells him she came alone. He asks if she is on a vacation and she says no. He asks her what she's planning to do and she confesses she doesn't know. He closes his stand to take Prim sightseeing. First they go to his studio to drop off her luggage. It is a small loft he shares with the Thai photographer he works with. He again asks her what her plans are and she says she doesn't know, that she just wants to forget. He doesn't press her for an explanation.

He takes her to the Place Vendôme. He asks her if the others know she came to visit him. She tells him no, that she only told Ms. Duang about her trip. Art guesses that something happened. She only will tell him, "yes, sort of." He presses her to tell him what happened. Prim replies that she doesn't know where to start. He says, "what if you start with the climax? The climax that would absolutely shock me." She tells him Foon had a miscarriage. Art is shocked by that news. He wonders who the father is, guessing it was Ong-art. Prim tells him no, it was Peun.

It's raining by the time Art walks Prim to the room she's staying at. When they get there Art starts to leave, but sees that she's just standing at the door. He ask her why and she says she didn't get in touch with the landlord in time to get the key, so she'll just wait for somebody to go in or come out so she can get in. Art tells her that Paris isn't like Bangkok. That it's a security door and nobody will leave her in without a key. They decide she'll have to spend the night in Art's loft.

Maybe Mamma Foon will be the one that clocks Peun to shut him up
Back at the hospital Foon wakes up. Peun notices and immediately rushes over to her and starts bombarding her with apologies and asks her for forgiveness. She simply says, "no." He then goes off on how, during his time at her side in the hospital, he has gone through self-reflection and realized that he loves her and wants to be with her. She screams, "I don't want to hear it!" You and me both sister.

He keeps groveling and she keeps saying "get out." Finally, she musters enough strength to pull her hand free from his grasp and take a swing at him. Her parents step between them and tell Peun to leave as she cries, "Get him out. Get him out." He finally takes the none too subtle hint and leaves.

Peun is sitting in the hall of the hospital when the director of the show really lathers on the schmaltz. As Peun is sitting there a fellow rolls out his wife in a wheelchair. She's a new mom holding a baby. Peun emotes up a storm.

Meanwhile, back in the hospital room Foon's mom is telling her, "the baby is not with you anymore." This is the first Foon has heard of the miscarriage and all she can say is, "Nobody wants to be with me, mom" as she slowly disintegrates.

In Paris Prim and Art are walking back to his studio. Prim, not used to the Paris weather, is cold. He takes off his coat and puts it around her shoulders. Underneath it he's wearing the t-shirt she had bought him. When they get back to his studio she comments that she never saw him wear it before. He says he wears it all the time, just not when she's around.

Later he's fallen asleep and she's still awake. Let's see... Prim had a twelve hour flight from Bangkok, wandered around Paris looking for Art, went sightseeing with him, got locked out of her room and returned to his loft late at night. Does this girl ever sleep?

Anyway, she looks at his pictures and his books. She finds a box with postcards in it. Most of them are to postcards that were sent to Art. She smiles because he kept them. Then she finds the postcard which she recognizes is from the Bangkok/Kanchanaburi train.

She turns it over and sees that it is addressed to her. In the card he tells her that, aside from Peun, she was only the second person he ever brought to his house. He doesn't have many friends.
He apologizes for bossing her around, saying he didn't really know how to act, and that he didn't want her to get bored. He says he hopes she'll visit again.

He goes on to say, "Actually, I want you to move in and stay here with me. I just want to see your smile when I wake up." He talks about what happy moments these were and ends by saying, "these are the moments that I get to learn what it is like to love someone more than just a friend."  Prim is taken aback, realizing she is reading a love letter to her that Art wrote to himself, never really meaning to send.

The scales fall from Prim's oblivious eyes

Monday, July 06, 2020

The fumes of yesterday's debauch

The above video is about garum, an ancient Roman fish sauce that was a popular condiment. It is an entertaining and informative video by Max Miller of TastingHistory. In it, along with making a batch of garum, he talks about its history and reputation in ancient Rome.

In the below video he uses garum to make steamed mussels using a recipe from Apicius De Re Coquinaria (English translation), a 4th Century Roman cookbook.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Lopsided democracy and the 4th of July

Below is an old post of mine, originally put up on July 4th of 2010. As I write in the end of the post:
Americans forget how revolutionary we are. Jefferson's "all men are created equal..." is both intoxicating and destructive.
This Fourth of July I watch the statues coming down, the forced division into groups, and the attempts to reduce public discourse to one opinion and all I see is an ancient and reactionary way of ordering society. The lords in their manors and the serfs in their fields. It has been done time and time again. Me, I prefer Jefferson's "all men are created equal... "

Above is the song Dimonkransa sung by Myra Andrade of the Cape Verde Islands. Cape Verde received their independence from Portugal on July 5th, 1975. The liberation movement was led by the socialist African Party of Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). Andrade's father was a member of it, and in fact she was born in Cuba.

Upon independence Cape Verde was a single party government, but in 1990 at a party congress the PAICV approved the introduction of multiparty democracy. In the election that followed the opposition fared well, and Cape Verde has evolved into a stable multi-party democracy.

However, this is not a post about her politics, nor the sort of third world socialism that bubbles through the undeveloped world. It seems to me there is a deeper strata, a bedrock so to speak, which lies under the languid melancholy of her lyrics.

It was said that democracy,
Lopsided democracy,
It was said that democracy
Was like a hidden treasure,
But now that it has been found.
We have all opened our eyes
And each one, relying on his judgment,
Confidently declared that what was round was in fact square,
And went to work, with a great many theories,
To prove that he was right.

(lyrics from the version she sung on her first album Navega)

Andrade is ill at ease with democracy, but for social rather than political reasons. Early in the song she calls it 'lopsided democracy' and as its lyrics unfold her complaint is that each person, not matter how foolish they are (and she clearly thinks many if not most of them are fools), now express a cacophony of opinions and arguments that bury the truth. 

She ends the song singing of English businessman and listing names from Cape Verde's past, some who have been elevated and some who she fears are being forgotten, and expresses distress at this reordering of authority. 

Stripped to its bone, the song is about a lost elite. Andrade is expressing nostalgia for a short-lived one party rule and for an escape from European domination. Of course it is her party that should rule and she now makes her home in Paris. Perhaps it is she that is lopsided, rather than all of the happy fools she mocks?

The time will come when old Náxu’s opinions
Will not be held in higher esteem than those of a babe in arms.
People will come together and cry: enough!

Americans forget how revolutionary we are. Jefferson's "all men are created equal..." is both intoxicating and destructive. It is a hell of a thing not to have to step into the gutter to clear the side walk for a swaggering aristocrat. Andrade is intimidated by and dismissive of people who have opened their eyes, and each one, relied on their own judgment, but a free man knows better.

As for coming together and crying "enough"? That is exactly what our 4th of July celebrates. Happy 4th of July to you all.