Ian McNamara

Excuses, excuses

Loosely to do with education I suppose


More from the land where the purveyors of lame excuses appear to get their inspiration from the weird and wonderful world of "Ripley's Believe it or not".

First up, An entry from the "If you throw technical terms around, you can guarantee that no one will question you because they realize you don't know the answer yourself and then that would lead to loss of face all round." School of investigative journalism.

Today AIS promised that they couldn't listen into conversations as all phone calls were "digitally encoded" into a series "packets" of" zeros and ones". "Damn that sounds like hi-tech geek speak" uttered the masses, "Thank Thaksin that we have the technology to do this." Although we're not quite sure what a packet of ones and zeros looks like, why there's the need to do this or where we could get a refund should our ones and zeros become tainted with Cobalt-60, that stuff gets everywhere.

Sticking to layman's terms. A simple analogy to describe the miracle of digital encryption is importing a Benz, for example a 500SL, which, again purely hypothetically, is currently at the docks in Bangkok. Then paying three sixteen-year old self taught mechanics to strip it down into its component parts under the cover of darkness and the following day claiming it was imported as CKD and not CBU. I think that's something we can all relate you.

As we all know this mass of parts cant, be put back together again . . . . or can it. Due to advances in the wacky world of automotive engineering, mechanics can now rebuild a car that 48 hours previously existed only as numbered parts. Low and behold, the Benz is reborn shortly after passing through customs in numbered component form.

When I use my AIS phone I can, on days when the wind is in the right direction, I'm not inside a large building and I'm wearing my lucky socks get a signal that allows me to hear packets of ones and zeros in their unencrypted form. This leads me to believe that as well as having the technology to encrypt transmissions AIS also have the technology to decode it as well. For some reasons the journalist never got round to mentioning this fact to the wise man from phone empire, who went on to add "We have an order prohibiting any purchase of phone-tapping equipment for our own use." At which point no-one piped up -"So what if the purchase order was in the name of , say the bosses son, and the equipment was then leased back to AIS at a nominal fee. Would that be OK then?"

Taking their lead form the elders and betters you'll find that Thai students have long since done away with the common and garden varieties of excuses used by the British counterparts "A dog ate my homework." Therefore excuses of the "There was a slum fire and I lost all my belongings, including my homework, except my knock-off David Beckham 1999 treble winners bobble hat." And the yet more bizarre "My friend didn't do it for me." Are old hat to the majority of teachers.

What sadder to look at, in a disheartening "Thank God it's them and not me. That's just sad." kind of manner, are teachers' excuses for being late, not doing work that's required, not showing up etc. This is the one creative area where the Thai learners excel and the teacher fails. Possibly due to the chemicals involved during the creative process. One group dream up excuses whilst bouncing off walls in an MDMA-zing trance. The others whilst in a beer haze.

As the only thing you tend to remember clearly in the beer haze are panic attack flashbacks disguised as fond memories, excuses barely get above the "I didn't know about it." or "No-one told me about it." level. The purveyors of this type of excuse seem to believe that the verb ‘tell' also implies having the information received actually tattooed on the recipients forehead. Check the mirror and no tattoo = no recollection.

The ever faithful "food poisoning" gambit rears its head at a frequency that would have Governor Samark rushing to close down every food stall in a 500 metre radius of Sukhumvit Soi 4 if news ever reached him. The root cause is often not so much the one last squid-on-a-stick that was eaten but rather the susceptibility of the stomach lining to excess wheat, barley and hops. Teetotalers have reported that their drinks have been laced with these additives in numerous bars along the skytrain route. One moment they're discussing methods of eliciting phrasal verbs from a class and the next they wake up in the gutter outside a 7-11, with no clue as to what happened other their wallet being 1,000 Baht lighter and a book of matches from the ‘Number One' walk in motel taking the place of their genuine Zippo - a recently purchased relic from ‘Nam

No way would you get wrecked on a week night because you're a professional - one wearing a happy smile and whose blood shot eyes compliment the red chili stain adorning your freshly pressed, or at least it was 24 hours ago, shirt.

Take note, the one lesson we can all learn, whilst guests in this country, is to take a leaf out the guide to good corporate governance and be creative with your excuses. More AIS than Enron should be the aim.

Finally, in keeping with the spirit of Ripley's, a great man - well someone in email land - had a poser for me this week :

"I speak no Thai. How can I teach English?"

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.




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