Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: February 2008

Thaksin Returns to Thailand


Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was taken into police custody Thursday after arriving on Thai soil and ending 17 months of exile to face corruption charges, police said.

Thai authorities took the 58-year-old billionaire politician into custody after his arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong, said police Maj. Gen. Thaweesak Toochinda, the head of airport immigration police.

Two arrest warrants were issued for Thaksin after the September 2006 coup that ousted him. He faces corruption charges in two separate cases that date to his time in office from 2001-2006 and could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison.

His return to Thailand to fight charges of corruption and abuse of power ends 17 months of self-imposed exile Thursday, returning to Thailand to fight charges of corruption and abuse of power…

You can find additional coverage in the Bangkok Post, The Nation, and over at Bangkok Pundit.

Big Think

Big Think is a sort of YouTube for intelligent debate, with public intellectuals weighing in on a variety of topics. The New York Times has the back story.

Related deep-thinking site (but with more text and fewer videos):, a longtime favorite of mine.

(Thanks to BA for the link.)

Talking Pet Bowl

The Chatterbowl -- talking dog/cat bowl [NOT MY IMAGE]

The Chatterbowl allows pet owners to record messages that play back when their furry friends eat or drink.

(Via Buzzfeed.)

As you know, ridiculous pet products are a favorite of mine. Witness such previous postings:

— The pet peek

— The “oral hygiene kit” for pets

— The dog-powered scooter

“Warm Whiskers” eye pillows

— The rubber lips chew toy

How People Work

The Early Bird... [Not My Cartoon]

Here’s a long list of how people go about doing their jobs. Profiled here are artists, writers, musicians, robotics researchers, actors, cyclists, and more.

The Future as Seen from 1978

The Usborne Book of the Future was published in 1978 and envisions the world in the year 2000 “and beyond.”

Some of my favorite predictions include:

— the human-robot space exploration teams,

military troops transported by rocket and then dispatched via armed “hovercars,”

— these crustacean-like aliens pondering high-tech crystal balls,

— (under the heading 1991-2000) sunlight-reflecting mirrors in space that provide light for the dark side of the earth,

— (under the heading 2001-2050) an “electromagnetic catapult” on the moon used to fling mining materials to “space factories.”

On Classic Fishing Lures, Art, and Urban Legends


Fishing tackle as objets d’art? Damn straight.

Field and Stream‘s got an excellent photo gallery of the 50 Greatest Fishing Lures of All Time, many of which are simply beautiful. The Dardevle Spinnie, for example, is awfully pretty. I also love the sleek Rapala, the flamboyant Rooster Tail, the irreverent Hula Popper, and the bulbous Berkley Bat Wing Frog. (Okay, so that last one might not be so easy on the eyes, but you’ve gotta love fishing with something that resembles a miniature frog.)

My all-time favorite lure, though, is the Mepps Aglia (above), which I would argue is just as attractive as many contemporary women’s brooches I’ve seen. It is nothing less than a work of art.

Related fishing post: remember when my buddy Chad caught a deer in the Chesapeake Bay last summer? Well, his photos from the event were subsequently forwarded via email — each sender embellishing the tale a bit — to such an extent that some labeled it an urban legend. But it’s not. You can even look it up on

Takraw in The Onion

Sepak takraw (or simply takraw in Thai), is a volleyball-like game played with the feet using a rattan ball. The sport is popular throughout Southeast Asia, but especially so here in Thailand.

The game doesn’t get much attention outside of Asia, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across this fake video report on The Onion News Network. The spot features elaborate NFL-style TV graphics, breathless analysis, and a Keyshawn Johnson reference:

“Ngyuen Thi Buch Thuy: ‘Just Give Me The Damn Sepak Takraw Ball'”

North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, N. Korea [not my image]


The Worst Building in the History of Mankind

It’s the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea, where the world’s 22nd largest skyscraper has been vacant for two decades and is likely to stay that way … forever.

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn’t the just the worst designed building in the world — it’s the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.

This architectural gem, you might remember, was number one on the list of Asia’s Top Five Craziest Buildings that I penned last year.

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