Monthly Archives: October 2015

Krabi Vegetarian Festival Parade

The vegetarian festival in Thailand is called “Tet-sa-gan Gin Je” (Thai: เทศกาลกินเจ).  It is the celebration of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.  Je (Thai: เจ) is the word for vegetarian.  But it really means vegan with additional restrictions.  Like vegans, dairy is not allowed.  Also not allowed are garlic, onions, alcohol, and sex.  A few days ago there was a parade in Krabi Town.  Parades in Thailand are pretty much like parades in America.


There are spectators anxiously awaiting the start of the parade.  


There are participants marching down the parade route carrying banners for the organization they represent. In this case, one of the 80+ Chinese temples in Krabi.


There are people taking pictures.


There are floats. Though they are not as elaborate as in America. These are just some small statues on top of the cab of a pickup truck.


There are elaborate costumes.


There are cute kids having a fun time.


There is the blood…


And the tongue slashing.

Wait.  What!?  I’m pretty sure we don’t have this in America.  Now that I think of it, parades in Thailand are nothing at all like parades in America.


It was very crowded. Difficult to tell participants from spectators. Spectators would creep in closer and closer. Many people walking through the parade. Then everyone would get pushed back when a float / pickup truck needed to go by, only to creep back in a moment later.


Then there are the piercings. Some are very gruesome as you will see later.



It’s not just the women that pierce their cheeks.


All sorts of objects are used for piercing.


Unfortunately I didn’t get a very good picture but look closely. This guy has two weed wackers! One in each cheek.


Every now and then the parade would stop and the tongue slashers would put on a little show.


Even the little kids get in on the piercing action.


This guy appears to have pierced his cheek with a broken wheel from a motorbike.


Most of the people appeared to be in some kind of a trance-like state.


Plenty of blood.


A little hard to see but they guy squatting down is dancing directly over firecrackers.


Show from another group of tongue slashers.






Knives! And Thread?


He was flinging blood everywhere.


Saw guy again. Really getting into it.


Seems rather tame now.


More costumes.


And an ambulance in case anyone gets hurt.

Well, it was interesting.  I’ve been observing the festival with my girlfriend for 8 days now.  It started on the 12th and goes to the 21st.  Two more days and I can eat a hamburger and drink some beer.



We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming for something completely different.  A few days ago there was yet another mass shooting in America.  Over the last few days without fail people have been using this tragedy to advance their own political agendas.  Democrats are calling for a ban on scary looking guns and magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds.  Republicans are saying it’s not guns but our failing mental health system even though they have no intention of actually fixing it.

So I thought it would be interesting to compare the United States gun ownership rates, murder, and suicide to some other countries.

Country Guns / 100 people Murder* Suicide* Gun Murder* Gun Suicide*
United States 112.6 4.7 12.1 3.55 6.70
United States 1995 8.2
Japan 0.6 0.3 18.5 0.0 0.4
Switzerland 45.7 0.6 9.2 0.23 2.68
Sweden 31.6 0.7 11.1 0.19 1.20
Thailand 15.6 5.0 11.4
Australia 15 1.1 10.6 0.11 0.62
Australia 1995 1.7 13.0 0.3 2.1

*Rate per 100,000 people



United States – ‘Merica Fuck Yeah!  We’re number one in gun ownership.  We have the highest murder rate of other developed countries but despite the high rate of gun ownership we’re about average when compared to the rest of the world.  Suicide rates are similar to other developed countries.

Japan – Has almost no guns in private ownership and also has an extremely low murder rate with 0 murders committed with guns.  Amazing!  It would seem to support the Democrats conclusion to ban guns but what’s up with Japan’s suicide rate?  It’s off the charts.  Perhaps this suggests that banning guns would not do much to reduce the suicide rate in the United States.  If people want to kill themselves, it seems like they will find a way, gun or not.

Switzerland – Pro Second Amendment groups often like to use Switzerland as an example of guns not causing murder.  Switzerland has the second highest gun ownership rate in the world yet the murder rate is much lower than the United States.  It’s also interesting in that Switzerland allows people to store fully automatic assault rifles in their home while serving in the military and gives them the option to keep them when their service is done (after being converted to semi-automatic) yet these scary looking black rifles aren’t indiscriminately killing people on the street.

Sweden – Another country that has a relatively high gun ownership rate yet low murder rate.  It should be noted that Sweden (and I presume Switzerland) have stricter gun control laws than the United States with laws that require licensing and registration but I’m not yet convinced these laws are responsible for their drastically lower murder rates.

Australia – Is interesting because in 1996 there was the Port Arthur massacre.  In the wake of this tragedy the prime minister basically said, “OK, no more guns”.  There was a massive gun buyback and strict gun control laws were put into place.  So this gives us some data to compare the effect of these laws on the murder and suicide rates before and after they were implemented.  Since 1996, Australia has seen a decline in murder and suicide rates but the United States has also seen similar declines over the same period. Yet over this same time period, Australia has actually seen an increase in robbery and sexual assault while the United States has seen a decrease. Before 1996 the murder rate in Australia was already relatively low so I’m not sure how one would conclude gun controls similar to Australia would solve the United States gun violence problem.

Thailand – Oh Thailand!  My beloved “Land of Smiles”, full of kind, gentle, and peaceful Buddhists actually has a thriving gun culture!  Who knew!?  The firearm ownership rate is very close to Australia and has licensing and registration requirements but has murder and suicide rates similar to the United States.  I’m not sure how to explain this one.

To me it seems obvious guns are not the root cause of the gun violence problem in the United States.  It’s not even mental health.  Would stricter gun control and increased funding of mental health reduce gun violence?  Maybe, maybe not.  I picked the countries to compare above because they all have very different cultures.  I believe it is these cultural differences that are responsible for the varying murder and suicide rates.  Not the types of inanimate objects that people own.  When will people wake up and realize it’s not just guns or mental health but the entire culture of the United States?  Gun violence will not be reduced until a meaningful conversation on the root cause of these problems can take place.  I’m not sure what the solution is but it’s not banning guns and it’s probably something more along the lines of better education, eliminating poverty, social injustice, police brutality, and inequality.  Big issues that will take generations to address.  Not passing a feel good, do nothing gun control law.

I’m not confident any real change will take place when the media, society, and politicians are more interested in “calling out”, “slamming”, and “shutting down” other people through sound bytes, click bait articles, and deceptive tactics.