Wow, you disappear for a couple of weeks and all hell breaks loose.

Thailand was lovely and I had a great time relaxing on the beach and enjoying the beer and food. There were protests going on while I was there, but in recent days things have taken a turn for the nasty as gangs of rival political parties have taken to the streets and there have been reports of shootings amongst the running violence. What this could do for a country that plainly needs foreign tourism and investment hardly bears speculating…

The nominations of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin for the job of Vice-President of the USA have dominated the internets for a while. Time to look at them.

I’ll deal with Joe Biden first since he’s the one which is the least surprising and the most sensible. He’s the more-experienced counterweight to Obama’s perceived lack of experience which makes political sense.

Biden’s been behind some of the more devious elements of the Bush years, including helping with the spurious notion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He supported the invasion of Iraq, which is in direct opposition to Obama’s supposed ani-war rhetoric. His foreign policy experience is long, but doubtful in its integrity – just look at his attitude to NATO for starters.

He’s also an intelligent, if not long-winded speaker who will bring some measure of wit and depth to the campaign. It would be hard for McCain and Palin to hold their own against him in any serious debate. He’s been known to let his mouth get ahead of his mind though, as well as plagarize the speeches of other politicians. It could spell disaster for Obama if he comes across as uninteligible or boring.

Thise are two things that Sarah Palin cannot be accused of – especially with the revelations that are coming out just mere days after her surprise unveiling to the media.

My initial reaction was that she could clinch the election for McCain since she is the cynically perfect choice for a VP to counter McCain’s age and perceived softness on traditional Republican core issues such as abortion and guns. Oh and she’s a woman – so that’ll get the disillusioned Clinton supporters to switch camps. Or maybe not.

And, as much as I hate to say it, the fact that she’s a former beauty queen gives her the ‘babe’ factor which will get the men voting for her based on looks alone. Rush Limbaugh nailed that one on the head. (“Babies, guns, Jesus” – indeed)

She is a religious nut. She states that she believes in creationism. She’s a member of a loony Pentacostalist church. She opposes abortion in all cases – including cases of rape and incest. That alone disqualifies her as an ethical and moral human being.

Of course there’s the question of her pregnant daughter and her self-confessed ‘redneck’ boyfriend. Of course they’re going to get married and raise the family together, but you have to wonder what kind of life it’s going to be when the father (who is currently 18) says that he’s didn’t want kids and perfers hanging out with his friends. Oh yeah – that’s gonna be a GREAT marriage!

There’s also the current ongoing investigations into allegations of corruption involving Palin and decisions she’s made as govenor of Alaska.

I believe McCain was forced into this as a move of desperation after his preferred choices were knocked back. Let’s face it. He nominated her after only meeting her once before and after a quick job interview where she was offered the job on the spot. I can’t think of a situation where that’s happened to me – even bar and waiting jobs at university.

The McCain camp’s reaction to any criticism of Palin? It’s sexism. Good one, yeah. Just ask McCain.

You think I’m spending too much time on Palin and not enough on Biden? Well, elections really are a storm in a media teacup. There really isn’t much they’ve had to say about Biden – hence the danger that he could be perceived as ‘boring’. Palin’s unfolding soap opera will become media fodder for at least the next few months as the baby saga unfolds. Maybe this is something that McCain is hoping for since Obama’s charisma dominated the media for so long. Perhaps Obama’s indecisiveness is going to be his undoing.

Once again, the election boils down to character issues and things that should not be factors in choosing the next leader of the USA.

Once again, the wrong people are gunning to become president.

Really can we impeach Bush yet? “Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century” Wuh?! I love the questions posed by the fictional reporter in the article. Not to be outdone, McCain said, “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.” Nice one John.

Can we at least get Bush before he does this?

Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, wrote this good piece summing up what the USA has done to screw things up in the past few years.

But Russia is back and is flexing its imperialist muscles, like it or not. As America’s power declines, it’s shaping up to be an interesting century…

It’s been over ten years since the collapse of Yugoslavia, and more and more details are emerging about what really went on. One thing that should be made clear is that it was a religious war between Muslims, Catholic Christians, and Orthodox Christians. The nationalities are just geographical pointers since people were identified and killed by their religion primarily.

By the way, there’s a war in Somalia.

Sarah Palin is not the only creationist nut to get an airing today. I’ll also nominate Vince Fenech, who would be a harmless creationist nut if he wasn’t in charge of the education of children.

The Olympics deserve a mention since they did happen while I was away. London’s going to have a hard time following up on this one since they won’t have access to thousands of low-paid slave workers. They may also have to spend time proving their ceremonies are legitimate, since the Beijing organisers did such a good job of faking theirs. The ceremonies weren’t the only things that were faked however. Take this building for example. Oh, and actually I’m not at all surprised that the pretty girl was miming. From a theatrical point of view it made sense. I’m more disappointed that the children dressed in regional costumes to represent the different ethnicities of China turned out to all be Han Chinese. That was an opportunity for a good gesture on behalf of the organisers and the government but it would have rung hollow amongst those other communities once they found out the truth. It also looks like they may have stolen the arrangements of the national anthems played at the medal ceremonies too. No wonder the government were so keen to crack down on the media as well as the people…

In Japan, the prime minister revealed a massive economic stimulation package, which primarily consisted of cash loans to companies to keep them propped up, then promptly resigned. I guess it was his turn to see the writing on the wall. So we’ll have another PM – that’s the third in three years. Looks like things are back to normal.

August is an interesting time in Japan. Summer is at its peak and children are enjoying their summer holidays. It’s a great time to go travelling and to enjoy the outdoors before the Autumn monsoon and the cooler weather returns. It’s also a time to remember the end of the Second World War and some of the events of that period – many of which are being lost in the mists of history.

I think I have found a new hobby – exploring the ruins (haikyo) of Japan’s failed modernisation. Ruins of ancient civilizations are cool too, but this really gets me going!

The latest Japanese fetish? DVDs of pretty women cutting and shaving their hair. I wonder how much they were paid…

So it turns out that all that jogging and puffing away on treadmills in the gym is bad for you after all.

When I’m dying I want to be hooked up on this kind of medical program please.

Tesla would be smiling in his grave. Workable wireless power for all.

Jeremy Clarkson needs to be nominated for a kinghthood for his services to the English language. And for an Englishman, his insights into Japanese culture are remarkably perceptive.

Lastly, Muppets and the mystery of what happened to Grover.