As I write this, the hostile takeover attempt of two independent newspapers in Thailand has more or less been averted: Grammy group, the potential acquirer, agreed to reduce its stake to 20% of one newspaper, Matichon, and is apparently content with maintaining the stake in the other newspaper, Bangkok Post, at 23%. The public uproar over this event (not because the takeover attempt was hostile, but because Grammy group is widely seen as a willing “nominee” for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose aggressive anti-press stance is well known) was one main reason for the acquiror’s decision to withdraw. I think this is a good sign for our fledgling democracy, because it shows that 1) the people in general are much more alert and interested in conflict-of-interest issues in money politics than before, and 2) they are not afraid to voice their opinions. Let’s hope that this trend continues. It’s true that Thai press is far from the level of professionalism and accuracy the public deserves to get, but that doesn’t mean they should be silenced by politics. After all, a dog that barks up the wrong tree is still better than a dog that lets the thief into your home and covers up his tracks afterward.
So now that this potential crisis is fizzling out, let me get back to what I wanted to blog about several days ago: two excellent pieces of “informational art” by Francisco Devante Mibigatti, aka “mibi”, whose profile page at deviantART includes many more amazing drawings. The first artwork to your left (click the image for the full 1.8MB version) wonderfully breaks down the typically inscrutable US government’s budget for the fiscal year 2004, with great graphical detail and an excellent level of information. It would have been much better if all the numbers had percentages (of total budget) next to them, but it is easy to make calculations. It has taken the artist a year, and the result is a great piece of work that should help everyone see where the US taxpayers’ money is (or was, in this case) really going.
mibi’s second great piece of art is the satire of “How to Survive a Terror Attack” advice posted on the US Dept. of Homeland Security. Although it is mainly a satire of pictures on that website (as opposed to the content), it is still pretty funny 🙂 Click on the picture to see the full version.