Bangkok Now, Who's Next?

smartknowledgeu's picture



Here’s a case of life imitating art above. Besides the massive confrontation between the military and protestors (Red Shirts) in Bangkok yesterday that yielded the above photo, the aftermath of the destruction of the Red Shirts’ camp yielded even more destruction, as looters set fire to an upscale mall, the Thai Stock Exchange, the central bank along with other large commercial bank offices, and the Channel 3 television station. More than 36 buildings were set ablaze last night in Bangkok. Below you can see a video of the upscale mall, Central World, on fire, and a photo of it during happier times last Christmas. Today it has been reported that damage was so extensive that it may need to be completely razed. Central World, a 1.024M square meter complex, is the second largest mall in Bangkok.


To grant you an idea of the absolutely chaotic and dangerous situation that furiously ignited so quickly in Bangkok yesterday, the equivalent scenario in New York would be if rioters set Fifth Avenue, the NY branch of the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and the CNN news station ablaze, all in a period of a few hours. Or in Los Angeles, the comparable scenario would be if the Beverly Center, Rodeo Drive, the Federal Reserve downtown, Bunker Hill, and ABC news station were all set ablaze.


While the Thailand conflict has been presented by the media as a war between the deposed and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters and the current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his supporters, the issue the mass media has not once addressed and will likely never address is an issue that even the majority of Red Shirts (the protestors) probably don’t even understand.  No matter whose side you are on, random destruction of a public mall and threatening the livelihood of innocent victims is uncalled for and wrong under any circumstance, so what possibly could have instigated such an outpouring of rage? People rarely dig deeper to get to the root causes of the ill-guided manifestations of desperation, so that's what we're going to do here.


While the bad results of a massive conflict makes for good news, it's very easy to fall into the media trap of categorizing these events as black v. white, us v. them, and evil v. good. However, in almost every one of these situations, many nuances of grey exist, and it is NOT as simple as Darth Vader v. Luke Skywalker.  Without getting into the politics of who’s right and who’s wrong in the Thailand conflict, let’s investigate an extremely important and underlying current of this conflict and every major economic conflict that is occurring in the world today - how a fraudulent global monetary system so significantly contributes to conditions of oppression and class division warfare.


US Congressman Ron Paul stated, “The Federal Reserve has been given the power, and the authority, to create money out of thin air. It’s fraudulent and it’s theft.” Since all Central Banks in the world all create money out of thin air and act in the same manner, they rob from all citizens of the world. However, the class that is always hurt the most by the actions of Central Banks is the poor, as the degradation and destruction of purchasing power hurts their very ability to survive. And when their ability to survive is threatened, this is when resistances form and revolutions occur. In the Western's leading nations, when situations such as those we are witnessing in Thailand and in Greece materialize, as seems inevitable now, the situations will likely be markedly worse. Why? Thoroughout history, revolutions have been sparked by two situations:

(1)When the poor have struggled for so long that they feel they have nothing to lose, even in death; or

(2) When the middle class of a country begins migrating into the ranks of the poor due to austere monetary policies imposed upon them by their bankers and governments.


In America, if this should happen, this will be a particularly dangerous situation, for the sinking of a particularly well-armed middle class into poverty would present a far more dangerous and complicated situation than one in which poorly armed protestors attempt to rise up against a well-armed opposition.


In 2008, world banks and western militaries acknowledged the very strong likelihood of civil unrest in the first world. Consider the following stories that were reported more than one-and-a-half years ago and by and large, laughed off by those that live in the Western world as Hollywood tall tales:

“Pentagon resources and U.S. troops may be used if needed to quell protests and bank runs during an economic crisis, the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Institute reported. ‘Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,’ the War College study states. Incidents of economic collapse, terrorism and disruption of legal order could require deployment of forces within the US, it said. A ‘strategic shock’ could require the nation to use ‘military force against hostile groups inside the United States.’”

“International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has warned that advanced nations could face civil unrest during distressful economic times. ‘[S]ocial unrest may happen in many countries – including advanced economies’ if the economic crises are not properly dealt with, Strauss-Kahn said. ‘He added that violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite,’ London's Guardian reported."


What is particularly telling in the above stories is that the managing director of the IMF, a notoriously elitist banking organization, admitted that our current financial system only benefits a “small elite.” For those that believe that the US Army War College’s Strategic Institute’s report of future civil conflict inside the US is far-fetched, you must realize that the bankers already KNOW that their current plan of destroying monetary value in all major global currencies will cause the middle class of Western nations to migrate into the ranks of the poor. The bankers already know that massive civil unrest all around the world is inevitable given the course they have chosen for all of us. The bankers are ALREADY CLOSELY MONITORING the situations in Greece, Thailand, Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, and other countries to understand how they must react to it when it hits the shores of the Western world. And because the bankers already know that their policies ensure uprisings in Western nations in future years, they are planning for it right now, six or seven steps ahead of the sleeping masses of people. Will the people wake up, or will it be checkmate already by the time they do?


Central World, under happier times


Central World, on fire.





I leave you, for inspiration, with a video of man's best friend leading the Greek resistance.












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PaperWillBurn's picture

"Central World, a 1.024M square meter complex, is the second largest mall in Bangkok."


It is the largest mall in Thailand, 2nd largest in SE Asia. I read today that it will be open again in 6 months..I highly doubt it

Marvin_M's picture

The US Government is primed to institute martial law at the slightest provocation or actual terror attack.  HSA ("threat level raised to and stuck at "Orange" since 9/11), led by the ridiculous Janet Napolitano, and Justice, with the inept Eric Holder at the helm, are run and manned by kneejerks to whom a lockdown of civil rights is much easier than adult level thinking.

The government's outrageous reaction and the left coast's absurd and irrational posturing over the reasoned response in Arizona to an actual threat to citizen's lives and property tells one everything one needs to know about the insane tendencies that prevail in places that can summon at a moment's notice the will to silence us.

Institutionalized insanity is the breeding ground of totalitarianism.

chindit13's picture

Do you have much experience with Thailand?  The vast majority of the rank and file of the two camps (Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts) are of the same approximate economic standing.  In fact, given the much higher cost of living in Bangkok, the Red Shirts (who tend to be from the north and northeastern countrysides) might well be better than the Yellows of Bangkok (except for the top level).  Lots of the Red Shirts are farm owners, small business owners, and probably have a fairly comfortable life at home with their land and pick-up truck.  Lots of Bangkok Yellow Shirts do not own a vehicle and use public transport.  One might describe it as city vs. country or educated vs. less educated, but to call it a rich vs. poor struggle is a stretch.

There have been lots of attempts to paint the Thai situation as something that it is not.  An oft used term in the country is "TIT".  This is Thailand.

I am sure more Thai residents will chime in here. 

Bringin It's picture

Chindit - I was in Bangkok soon after the most recent protest started.  It started with colorful flag waving, banner waving caravans flying around the expressways and surface streets before they set up road blocks in places like Sala Dang.  It occurred to me that someone stuck in the traditional left /right, rich v. poor dichotomy would be stunned by the vehicular wealth on display by the protesters.  Lots of shiny, brand new Toyotas and Issuzus streamimg by.

The poor in my home country, supposedly the richest on earth would be hard pressed to make a similar display of assets.

velobabe's picture

i am sorry.

your the sag wagon of the blogosphere, chinthe.

but i love you†

must be the time zone.

i am kinda late to the party, as well.

but i know i will always find you sweeping up the thoughts.

not that your interested, damn some shit is going down in the giro and the california amgen bike race. drugs, scandal and accusations. your probably asleep, anyway.


that is your best yet, babe†

bullchit's picture

I don't suppose the situation in Bangkok has anything to do with Thaksin wanting his $2 Billion back? (confiscated by the present Thai government) No, no. There would be no story, would there?


Windemup's picture

Without detracting from the original analysis, one critical point is missing.

A fundamental flaw in modern economic theory fails to recognize that it is labor applied to land that creates wealth. The return of wealth into the production equation yields Labor + Land + Capital = Wealth. It is Labor that employs Capital and not the other way around. Returns to labor are wages. Returns to capital are interest. Returns to land are rent. Economists all agree on this.

Governments and power structures around the world today fund themselves by confiscating labor and capital. Compared to them, land owners get off lightly. This impoverishes the laborer and enriches the land holding elite. The only remedy is Henry George's proposition that land be taxed at full value so as to eliminate land speculation entirely and taxes on labor and capital be removed so as to free them from bondage.

See Henry George's "Progress and Poverty" for further information. 



tip e. canoe's picture

always enjoy reading your missives JS.

as you know, there is a uniquely Thai character to what's going on in Bangkok that is much different than we are experiencing here.   in some ways, they are going through what the U.S. went through in the 18th century, rebelling against the 'divine right of the King'.  and Thaksin is in some ways a 21st century version of our founding fathers, an elite who went against the ruling class.

yet, it would be foolish not to see the link in the meme swirling around the globe like an ash cloud or oil blob.  what i find interesting to contemplate is not only how life mimics "art" (or what goes for art these days), but how art shapes life.   at what point do we as a human collective presage events through our thoughts & wishes?   where does the mind and the material intersect?  are all prophecies self-fulfilling?

perhaps a bit too esoteric, yet maybe incredibly important to begin to understand as the cloud of rebellion comes towards us from both shores.    where and how can we rewrite the script so that we can move beyond black vs. white, good vs. evil, left vs. right and begin to reshape the world in a manner that recognizes that all dualities are simply maya?

curious to know your thoughts...

Bringin It's picture

tip e. re. Thaksin and the Founding Fathers.  I almost coughed up a mango when I saw that.  Yes there are social justice issues that need to be and I think will be addressed, but the FFs did not loot the state, emgage in extra-judicial killings, crush free speech with million dollar slap-suits.  At least I don't think they did.  Did they?

I saw his lawyer, somebody Amsterdam, previously represented Russian oligarchs.  Fitting.

tip e. canoe's picture

Bringin It, FWIW, that was not meant to be a compliment or a defense of Thaksin.   more of a reflection of what he represents to some of the people there.  and yes, maybe the FF's weren't as slimy (but how do we know really?), but they were definitely the elite with all its accoutrements.   plus, you have to rewrite that role with all its modern trappings to get the proper audience in the seats.

again, i see Thaksin as a trickster and tricksters always blur the lines between good and evil to force people to rethink what good & evil really is.  i don't think it's as simple as black & white.

with that said, i defer to you as you are much more enlightened as to what's going on on the ground than i could ever be.  my info is 3rd removed from my Thai friends who are getting info from their families (and who all without question are vehemently opposed to Thaksin and fiercely loyal to the status quo).  

my question to you is: do you believe in any way that the Red Shirts, etc. have any validity to their criticisms of the King and his court?

p.s. maybe the FFs did not loot the state, engage in extra-judicial killings, crush free speech with million dollar slap-suits, but their successors seem to be doing a fine job of making up for it.   

Bringin It's picture

Thanks for the additional info Tip E.

The Red Shirts are a diverse group. 

Many of them are fullfilling what amounts to feudal responsibilities to their branch of the patronage system [and getting compensated for their efforts] while at the same time exercising what they see as their democratic rights.  These people, like almost all Thais, rever the King.  [Other members of the royalty do not fair so well and this raises the questions about what happens when HRH, who is in poor health, passes away.]

Among the Red Shirt leaders are many Communist agitaters/former Communists, trained in guerilla war techniques.  They opennly discuss sowing chaos and confusion using violence.  One can imagine that their ideology does not allow them to hold the Monarchy in esteem.  The leader of the grenade launching gunmen, Seh Dang would boast about his time killing Communists up north decades ago, so it is a strange brew indeed.  

The mysterious gunmen in black (MIB) are sometimes said to be current or former Border Rangers.  Some say they are not Thais.  I read an interview with a foreign correspondent who was one of the last to speak to Seh Dang before he got shot.  The writer was fluent in Thai and talked about the carnival atmosphere inside the barricades, talking and joshing with one and all as Thais love to do with the exception of the MIBs.  He called them stone faced and said they never answered any of his questions, never said a word.  I believe most of the rank and file do not see/understand/agree that they were being used as a screen for the gunmen to operate behind, but unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

When the army first moved in with shields and night sticks, that is, without employing lethal force to break up the barricades, a smoke grenade was fired into the group of officers leading the troops.  The smoke was to mark the target.  Then the MIB weapon of choice, M79 grenades rained down on the source of the smoke, killing the colonel in charge and badly wounding many around him.  I can imagine the Thai authorities were stunned by this combination of visciousness and skill.  At that point, both sides went to live ammunition and the rank and file anger reached the boiling point as they asked 'How can the authorities be shooting us down?'

People took refuge in a wat (temple) in the Central World complex.  Before the army broke down the barricades with APCs, some in the wat decided to leave and were gunned down as they came out of or approached the door.  Because the size of the mall structure would block any line of sight from outside, it seems the shots would have to come from inside the mall complex which was all still under the control of the Red Shirts.  But when medics and media reached the wat, one of the survivors of the night of terror, in the interview I saw, was emotional, sad and angry, blaming government for the killings.  So, who knows?      

Thailand has managed to remain free for hundreds of years while almost all of the non-Western world was colonized/homogenized.  The Thais had diplomatic and martial skills, but a lot of their ability to remain free is due I believe, to their unique culture of tolerance and welcoming, for lack of a better word.  'Siam Mapped' talks about a survey done in the late 60's asking Thais where they wanted to be reborn in their next life.  Something like two precent chose the Great PX/ America. The rest chose Thailand.  The Monarchy is emblematic of that culture.  Part of the bastion that keeps the dehumanizing alienating aspects of Western/Globalization at bay.  If the Monarchy goes, what was once Thailand will go with it.

You might be wondering where were the police in all of this?  The answer is that Thaksin came up through the police.

Lots of upcountry municipal buildings and banks are on fire.  I hope we can get back to normal soon.

And I agree the successors to our FFs are a disgrace.

tip e. canoe's picture

thanks for takin the time to break it down BI.  didn't know that Thaksin was a cop at one point...interesting twist.  it all runs very deep for sure.

someone on ZH asked recently (& rhetorically) if it was better to live in an benevolent dictatorship or a democracy.  the more i learn about the intricacies of the current events in Thailand (& US), the more i question my automatic Western assumptions of an answer.

Happy Mango.

Paul E. Math's picture

...the managing director of the IMF, a notoriously elitist banking organization, admitted that our current financial system only benefits a “small elite.”

I don't think it is just the financial system that benefits this small elite.  We have an entire economic system that does not compensate or reward people commensurate with their contribution to the economy.


fl3tch3r's picture

This is the best article i've seen explaining the events.

Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news and business from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam

and a good twitter feed is with plenty of links to photos


silvertrain's picture

 I would hate to know HOW ARMED some of our people are. I know many sport hunters that have on hand 8-10 guns, numerous compound bows,crossbows etc.. and thousands of rounds of lead.And these people have no ill intention to inflict pain on  anything other than a spring gobbler.

Canucklehead's picture

I am simply amazed at how good an investment guns, ammo and reloading equipment has been over the past 15+ years.  The returns are similar to art and some antiques.

Rebel's picture

I have found it somewhat ominous the difficulty buying any type of ammo the last 3 or 4 years. Production has not dropped, and one has to assume has increased to meet demand, yet the shelves have been empty. I buy ammo as a sportsman, but something else is going on.

BlackBeard's picture

yeah, 2 wars that have been going on for over 8 wars.  I remember a time when I was picking up Winchest white box for less than 5$ a box.  Now, it's around 11$ a box.

TBT or not TBT's picture

In Texas its not all pretty wood stocked shotguns for hunting, it's also combat handguns and semi-auto AK's, AR's, SKS, tactical shotguns, and the like.  Loaded and ready to go.   I don't see crowds of rioters coming up leafy streets in Dallas with looting and mayhem in mind.   Zombies might do that, but rioters would know better.

justbuygold's picture

Coming to a U.S city near you !   Read Financial Armaggedon.   The book has been 100% correct in predicting everything that has happened the last 3 years.  Civil unrest is the next step in the process.

Sudden Debt's picture

My Tailor has his shop in MBK, I hope he's still fine. It's hard to find a good tailor these days....

Bringin It's picture

Sudden - I don't think they torched MBK.  Maybe not Hi-So enough?

brodix's picture

We need another monetary model. Three hundred years ago debt based currency was a smart idea, since there was little economic data to determine how much money was necessary and debt grows at roughly the same rate as productivity. The situation now is that the financial system has been allowed and encouraged to turn the entire economy into a debt production machine to create the illusion of wealth far exceeding the productive capacity of the economy and often subverting actual production in the process. Which is to say that it was not deregulation that caused our current mess, so much as that deregulation was the presumed solution to the flaws inherent in a debt based currency. A lot of the money has been borrowed into existence for the purpose of speculation and the powers that be are more concerned with maintaining its value, at the expense of society, the productive economy and the environment.                  Since money is drawing rights to productivity, the question is how to formulate a viable and healthy production based currency system.                Money serves as a store of value and a medium of exchange. As a store of value, it is private property, but as a medium of exchange, it is a public utility. As property, there is the desire to accumulate as much as possible, but as a medium of exchange, more money than productivity eventually destroys the value of the money. Money should only be treated as a public utility. In that way, it would be similar to a road system. You own your car, house, business, etc. but not the roads connecting them and no one seriously cries socialism over that. The fact is that money already is a government owned public utility. Just try printing some, if you think otherwise.                 The reason banks and government like us to think of money as property is because it encourages us to use it in all economic transactions, which makes them potentially taxable. Treating money as form of public commons would make people very careful what value they would take from social relations and environmental resources to convert into currency in the first place. This would be healthy for society, the environment and the monetary system. Of course, it would create a slower, but more sustainable economy. We all like having roads, but there is little inclination to pave more than we need. If we applied the same principle to money, life would be in better shape. Instead of valuing ourselves by how big our bank accounts are, our sense of worth would be on how strong our community is and how healthy our environment is. A much smaller money supply would go a long way to limiting the size of the government and the banking system.                The function of the central bank is to make maintaining the value of the currency a public responsibility, while leaving private banks to profit from managing it. This is their error.  Political power also started as private enterprise and eventually became monarchy. When monarchs lost sight of the fact that their purpose was to guide their people, as opposed to simply exploiting them, they tended to be overthrown and eventually the whole system of hierarchal power was replaced by political power as a public trust. Democracy works by pushing power down to the level it is responsive. If we were to make banking a public function, it would also be bottom up. Local credit unions would use local deposits to loan to local enterprises and use the profits to fund local needs. They would then form regional banks for broader investments.                    With a debt based currency, there is an overwhelming need to create debt. A good example is government spending.  The current system is designed to overspend by buying votes for enormous bills that can only be passed or vetoed. This serves to create debt in order to store capital, as government debt is the primary investment vehicle. In the spirit of actual budgeting, a possible solution would be to break the spending bills down to their constituent items and have every legislator assign a percentage value to each item and then re-assemble them in order of preference. The president would draw the line at what would be funded. This would divide responsibility, allowing the legislature to prioritize, while giving the president final authority over total spending. Since making the cut would be graded on a curve, there would be much less incentive to trade favors and the percentage system would allow legislators to fine tune their granting of favors to other legislators and lobbyists. Since this would likely reduce funding for local projects, a system of local public banks would fill this need.             Another issue would be the variability of needs by different communities from their currencies, so possibly a system of various currencies could be developed, of different exchanges rates, inflationary expectations, etc. Then countries/banking collectives could join what most suits their needs and if necessary, switch from one to another, or start new ones. Obviously somewhat chaotic, but it would be an evolving system and would engender a deeper understanding of economics among the larger population, thus making them less vulnerable to financial predation.                 Rather than borrowing it into existence, there are other possibilities of managing the money supply. For one thing, the current method requires ever accelerating productivity to pay down the debt incurred and this in itself is running up against serious consequences. Not to mention that rent seeking from others productivity can be just as economically destructive to actual productivity, as authoritarian allocation of rewards, irrespective of productivity, can be.

A viable system needs to recognize excess money is inflationary and by the Fed's logic of selling bonds to reduce the money supply, excess currency is in the hands of those with an excess of wealth. So, since the stability of the currency is a public responsibility, it should be taxed, not borrowed. If we tax out excess currency to contain inflation, then how about tax credits to introduce money into the system, when prices seem to be deflating? That's what they are doing now, with all these rebates and it does serve to support productivity. Another method is for the government to spend it into the economy. This has been tried with various levels of success over the ages, but needs prudential management to not get out of hand.

Paladin en passant's picture

Taxing out the excess liquidity just gives the incompetent governments more crack cocaine to distribute; tax credits would then be the distribution channel for that deadly, addictive drug. Money for nothing and your chicks for free; bread and circuses. Your system would become impossibly corrupt within a few years.

PS: Paragraphs are your friend (and they're free).

brodix's picture

I'm certainly not saying there won't be holes to exploit, but thats going to happen in every system. I do think I somewhat addressed some problems of how governments allocate resources with the idea on government budgeting. A very large reason for government profligacy is it is designed into the system in order to create debt. If the president is given sole responsibility for setting the level of spending, but doesn't control the priorities, he will likely underspend to reduce inflation and over spend to control deflation. The legislators wouldn't just be able to pile on the goodies, because it would push all programs further down the curve and make more of them open to cutting. So pork barrel spending and freeloaders would come under a very  bright light.

 PS, Sorry for the spacing. I wrote that previously and it came out with no breaks when I posted it. Since I had to get to work, that was the only shortcut that worked.

AnAnonymous's picture

I dont know if the answer was made last time but in case it wasnt: how to distinguish between people living off their productivity and people chasing productivity of others?


Another point: there is a big incentive in a competitive enviromnent to seek more roads than 'needed'

Quick example:

pool of resources: enough to build one bridge

area a: has already one bridge, enough to convey cargo across the area. A second wont help up the productivity.

area b: similar as area but no bridge.

In a competition, area a has all an incentive to build a bridge to nowhere in order to prevent a rise in competitiveness by b.

A cant not raise absolutely  its competitiveness but can keep a relative competive edge on b by depriving b from the resources needed to build a bridge.

Once a built a bridge, the pool is depleted and b can no longer compete. Competition is over and a has achieved a monopoly on transportation (monopoly being the normal end of a competition process)

Bridges to nowhere are not a waste as they serve a purpose in competition: keeping others low.

tip e. canoe's picture

nice comment...this is why it is vital for each of us to separate the 2 functions and use different forms of 'money' for each respective function : medium of exchange & store of value.  it is up to each of us to decide for ourselves which forms of money we should best use for each.

open-source currency anyone?

Albatross's picture

When income disparity gets wider, every time

reality would catch up with 'neoliberal

crony capitalism'.


Wait until next round of mass strike protests

hit the streets of Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, ...

Gordon_Gekko's picture

What we are witnessing today in Bangkok and Greece (and soon the entire world) is the ripping off of the veneer of "economic development/growth", "oh we are such an advanced society" etc. NONSENSE platitudes and exposure of the sheer rotten state of today's bankster controlled world.

gerriek's picture

Austerity measures is the painful start of the healing process of years of credit overdose. The countries that start it first will come out of it first. 

TBT or not TBT's picture

"While the Thailand conflict has been presented by the media as a war between the deposed and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters and the current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his supporters...."

The ZH article doesn't elaborate what the hidden causes are.   It insinuates there are other causes, which on ZH means evil banksters, the local Fed, money itself, capitalism, usury, manipulated financial markets, and what have you.   But Thailand also knows quite a lot of violence from Muslim extremists.   Yeah.   Everywhere you look, that has nothing to do with poverty per se and almost everything to do with the cause of most poverty you find there...Islam, which prohibits any recognizable banking or much in the way of an open society, capitalism, markets and so on.   I'm not saying this is the issue here, I'm just pointing that the ZH article doesn't explain the rioting either.   Maybe it is over which leader ought to be in.

Gordon_Gekko's picture

the equivalent scenario in New York would be if rioters set Fifth Avenue, the NY branch of the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and the CNN news station ablaze, all in a period of a few hours.

Not that anyone except the banksters would miss them. Good riddance, I would say.

mikla's picture

I was pasting that quote when you did!

That scenario ... darn ... that would be terrible ...