Zack Apiratitham

Women in Thailand Parliament


Caroline Criado Perez in her book, Invisible Women:

As of December 2017, women made up an average of 23.5% of the world's parliamentarians, although this figure hides significant regional variation: Nordic parliaments are on average 41.4% female while Arab parliaments are on average 18.3% female.1 Women account for 10% or less of parliamentarians in thirty-one countries, including four countries that have no female parliamentarians at all. And in most countries precious little is being done to remedy this. (p. 272)

Naturally, this made me wonder what the figures are like in Thailand parliament.

From my research on the Thai National Assembly website, there are 78 women out of 489 MPs in the House of Representatives, making it 15.95% female. Note that this figure does include the first transgender MP elected to the Thai parliament, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, but they actually identify as non-binary. I'm counting them in as the stat I'm looking for is about how male-dominated the parliament is.

On the Senate side — where senators are not elected but appointed by the military government — there are 26 women out of 250 senators, making it 10.4% female.

In total, there are 104 women out of 739 MPs. This makes the Thai parliament as a whole only 14.1% female.

For perspective, Thailand's population is made up of 50.9% female, according to the most recent census conducted by National Statistical Office in 2010. And the current estimate by the United Nations for 2020 puts it at 51.34% female2.

Now let's see how Thailand fares against other countries3. Keep in mind the world average as of 2019 is 24.5% and in Asia it's at 19.7%.

Thailand's House of Representatives is ranked 132nd (out of 188 countries) in terms of percentage of women in the lower chamber or unicameral parliaments. Within South East Asia, it comes in at 8th out of 11 countries, beating out just Malaysia, Myanmar, and Brunei. The irony is that a lot of Thais often look down on their neighboring countries such as Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia as being less developed.

sea women in parliament house

Now for the Senate (again, not elected but appointed by the junta), out of 78 countries with an upper chamber, Thailand's is ranked 71st, only beating out countries such as Nigeria, Yemen, and Haiti. And amongst the 5 South East Asian countries with an upper chamber, it comes in dead last.

Needless to say, this is embarrassing for Thailand. But then what isn't embarrassing about this country's current political situation?


  1. http://archive.ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm ↩︎

  2. Data from UN World Population Prospects 2019 ↩︎

  3. The percentage for the House is going to be a bit lower here since the IPU's figure does not include Tanwarin. ↩︎




On Post-processing a Photograph


Francesco Carucci on PetaPixel:

The RAW image, which comes from reading the Bayer Filter Mosaic, can not be visualized without a transformation to create an RGB image that can be displayed on a screen or printed on paper.

The interpretation of the raw file to reconstruct colors from the Bayer Filter Mosaic (what is often referred to as “Color Science”) and produce the final image applies a number of subjective transformations and selectively throws away information. The subjective interpretation must happen somewhere between capturing an image and displaying it. Someone has to take the subjective decisions about what information to throw away, what information to keep and how to transform the information to be able to visualize it.

[...]

When you read “no filter” or “straight out of camera”, what you are really reading is “I’m leaving the post-processing choices to the engineers who designed the camera”.

Very well-put here by Carucci. I am a firm believer that a large portion, if not in some cases the majority, of the time it takes into creating a photograph is in the post-processing1. But in this day and age of digital photography, where any image can be conjured up in Photoshop, the words "post-processing" and "editing" have gotten the connotation that the producer of the work is not being truthful. It sometimes feels almost as if those who are so in-your-face about their "no filter" photos think they have some sort of moral high ground for not touching up their photos.

Now with great cameras being so ubiquitous thanks to smartphones, these "no filter" images are in fact so incredibly post-processed that there are probably way more adjustments done to these smartphone photos than how much an average photographer does to process their RAW images.

From Apple's press release for iPhone 11 back in 2019:

Next-generation Smart HDR uses advanced machine learning to capture more natural-looking images with beautiful highlight and shadow detail on the subject and in the background. Deep Fusion, coming later this fall, is a new image processing system enabled by the Neural Engine of A13 Bionic. Deep Fusion uses advanced machine learning to do pixel-by-pixel processing of photos, optimizing for texture, details and noise in every part of the photo.

So yeah, every image everyone takes nowadays is very much so post-processed.


  1. Of course, with the exception here being photojournalism. ↩︎




International Space Station LEGO Set Announced


Brickset (via Ars Technica, tweet):

Build and display this spectacular LEGO Ideas 21321 ISS (International Space Station). Packed with authentic ISS details, including a posable Canadarm2 and 2 rotating joints that coincide with 8 adjustable ‘solar panels’, this 864-piece set is a wonderful gift idea for space enthusiasts, adult LEGO fans or any experienced builder.

And:

This ISS (International Space Station) toy building kit for adults, measuring over 7” (20cm) high, 12” (31cm) long and 19” (49cm) wide, makes a beautiful display model that will catch the eye of every passer-by.

Announcement tweet from the official LEGO account:

An out-of-this-world building experience is coming! 🌙⭐️ The LEGO International Space Station is available February 1st!

Listed for $70 on the product page on LEGO website.

Just take my money already.




Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test


TechCrunch:

SpaceX completed a crucial test of a key safety system of its Crew Dragon spacecraft today. The test involved launching its Crew Dragon using a Falcon 9, though without any actual crew on board. The launch was then intentionally cut short, with the In-Flight Abort (IFA) system triggered to separate the Crew Dragon from the rocket about about a minute and a half into the launch process.

And:

The Falcon 9 rocket used her [sic] had flown on three previous missions, and was in fact the first booster produced as part of SpaceX’s run of human-rated variants of the Falcon 9 design. As intended, the Falcon 9 broke up once the Crew Dragon ejected, with the on-board fuel generating a pretty impressive explosion.

The best clip of the separation from SpaceX:

Crew Dragon separating from Falcon 9 during today’s test, which verified the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent

Then the subsequent explosion of the booster, from Spaceflight Now:

This spectacular series of photos shows the Crew Dragon abort and the expected explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket during today’s launch escape test over Florida’s Space Coast (📷: Katie Darby).

Loren Grush:

RIP Falcon 9. We saw it clearly fall from the sky




Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood | Tarantino at his Most Meta



Fantastic video essay on the new Tarantino film. This channel got an instant-subscribe from me with this video.

Side note: I saw this film in the theater when it came out and really enjoyed it. Regrettably, I actually had never heard of Tate–LaBianca murders or Charles Manson before seeing the film. Only after I came out of the theater did I finally learn from my girlfriend what that whole subplot was actually about.

Now I'm going to have to rewatch this film with this newfound perspective and context...




Some Thoughts on the AirPods Pro


I never owned the regular AirPods. It's not that I didn't want them — I really did — it's just that I never had good enough reasons to get them given my audio listening habits and what they had to offer. Plus a pair of regular EarPods with wires chopped off didn't really sound all that special to me. But since the release, the people on the web and those that I know in person who own them all say that the AirPods are some of their favorite Apple products. I think I would have gotten a pair if they had something more: perhaps noise cancellation or if they don't fall out of the ears so easily. After all, I loved those classic Apple's wired in-ear headphones.

Enter the AirPods Pro. After months of speculations, Apple announced in a press release and made available the long-awaited upgrade to their wildly popular and loved product, all within a two-day period. This pushed me over the fence, and I am now an owner of these headphones.

It just so happened that I was going to be on some long-haul flights not long after I got the AirPods Pro, so they were the perfect testing grounds for comfort and noise cancellation. Prior to the flights, my initial guess was that my Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I, ver. 3.0.3) would be more comfortable for such an extended usage, but it turned out the AirPods Pro were way more comfortable. It must be something to do with my ears because after a couple of hours with the Bose headphones on, my earlobes would always start to hurt as the earpads were pressing on them. With the AirPods Pro, that is not an issue. I'm not as sensitive as some people might be with this type of in-ear earbuds — I actually prefer them over regular earbuds that just sit on the edge of the ear canals — so I was able to wear them hours after hours on those flights. I even went to sleep and woke up with them still in my ears feeling no discomfort around or in them.

As you might know, there are usually quite a few announcements during long flights like these. With the Bose, I would have to either take them off completely, or move an earcup up off one of my ears onto the temple to be ble to hear the announcements. With the AirPods Pro, a click to pause followed by a 1-second hold to activate the Transparency mode was all it took to be able to hear the surroundings. Alternatively, I could just take one out of my ear and it would pause whatever media playing as well as turning on Transparency mode for the other ear. I personally found it to be a much more seamless and less of an annoyance than traditional headphones are in this situation.

The noise cancellation is way better than I expected. In the aircraft cabin at cruising altitude, the ambience noise was, according to my Apple Watch's Noise app, around 70-75dB, which was a perfect environment to test this. I compared them with the Bose headphones with no music and, to my surprise, the AirPods Pro did better at canceling out the noise than the Bose headphones. I did not at all expect this to be the case. And to get a similar level of isolation, I had to turn up the volume a bit more on the Bose. I believe this is due to the nature of the in-ear earbuds creating a seal in your ears blocking much of the noise, combined with the superb Active Noise Cancellation system.

Though when the music is playing, I find that the Bose headphones perform better when it comes to sound quality. This isn't really a fair comparison to begin with and I am no audiophile or have that acute a sense of hearing, but I can tell that the AirPods Pro do sound a bit flatter than the Bose. However, the AirPods Pro do produce quite a lot of bass in such a tiny package.

During one of those flights, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a baby crying a few rows ahead of me which I was completely oblivious of until I turned off the noise cancellation. I happily turned it back on again. The transition from Transparency mode to Active Noise Cancellation is super satisfying. It feels almost literally like the world disappearing right in front of you and you're now in your own world. By the time I flew back in another stint of flights totalling over 24 hours, I ended up just using the AirPods Pro the majority of the time. The only time I had to use my Bose headphones was when the AirPods Pro needed recharging.

The Transparency mode is interesting. With my Bose headphones, I'm used to this "headset" mode that happens sometimes during conference calls in which it relays the sounds the microphones pick up back into the headphones. It is a very off-putting experience since the headphones are canceling out the ambience noise but at the same time that very same ambience noise they're cancelling out, plus your own voice as you talk, is being played back. It kind of makes you feel like you have hyper-hearing or something. And with the AirPods Pro, I was half-expecting Transparency mode to be something like that. Again, to my surprise, it's better than I had anticipated. I can definitely tell that they're playing back what the microphones pick up but the effect is definitely not as startling an experience. To me it's very close to sounding perfectly natural, except it sort of has this quiet background static noise added to it. I can definitely hear the surrounding way more compared to when the Transparency mode is off. This is a very useful feature if you want to have a conversation while wearing them or be mindful of your environment when you're out and about.

The AirPods Pro also work with the Find My app (I actually have no idea if the regular AirPods do). What's really cool about this is that in the app there's a "Play Sound" option to help with locating them, just like with the iPhone and iPad. It starts with a quiet beeping that gets progressively louder. I thought this would only work if there's a device currently connected to them because clearly the AirPods Pro themselves are not connected to the internet to be able to receive the command to play the sound wherever they are in the world. But I did some testing by disconnecting them from my phone and going outside so they are out of range. I hit the "Play Sound" and after a few seconds the app said the sound was being played on them. A little puzzled, I came back inside and indeed the beeping sound was playing, and yet they were still disconnected from my phone. A notification then popped up on my phone saying that they were found by my iPad which was sitting in range of them.

IMG 5862

So I think what happens when you hit "Play Sound" on the Find My app is that the phone would first try to connect to the AirPods and play the sound on them. If it cannot find them, it would cycle through other devices you have signed in to your iCloud account and try to connect to them to play the sound. I tested this theory by bringing both my phone and my iPad out of range of the AirPods Pro and doing the same thing in the app. And sure enough, no sound was played. This is such a little thing but I find it so thoughtful and delightful. For all I know, this might already be the case with the regular AirPods and I'm just finding out about it now.

When you go into the Bluetooth setting and tap on the little "i" icon on the AirPods Pro, it brings up a custom settings page that allows for quite a bit of customization. This includes changing the name, select the noise control, and pick if you want the press-and-hold on the stem to trigger Siri or switch between noise modes, which can be set differently between the left and right ones.

Towards the bottom of the page, there is this interesting little option labeled Ear Tip Fit Test with caption "Check the fit of your AirPods1 ear tips to determine which size provides the best seal and acoustic performance". The test itself just plays this 6-second sound and uses the microphones to determine if the seal is optimal for best noise cancellation. It would tell you if the seal isn't perfect in one or both of the ears. Amusingly for me, I ran this test with all three ear tip sizes and they all reported perfect fits. So I'm just using the medium ones and saving the others as spare parts.

Some other nuggets:

  • The tip takes much more force to pull off than I thought. It felt like I was definitely going to break it.
  • The force buttons on the stems work great and require no getting used to. I thought the act of pressing on the stem would have pulled out or loosen the seal in my ears but they remain unaffected even after repeated pressing.
  • Despite the case being a bit larger than the regular AirPods, they fit perfectly in the tiny change pocket on my Levi's 511 jeans.
  • The case and the AirPods themselves do get dirty quite easily. And now with the in-ear earbuds, it's gonna be earwax town all up in there.
  • When you're charging the case on a wireless charging pad, you can tap on the case near the indicator light and it would lit up showing the charging status. Green for charged and amber for charging. Interestingly, this doesn't work if you're charging it via Lightning cable.
  • There were no Apple stickers in the box.

  1. Interesting omission of the "Pro" here despite the press release never calling the AirPods Pro just generic AirPods. Not sure what the official Apple style guide for this is. ↩︎




Fully Decked Out Mac Pro


mac pro decked out

So now that the new Mac Pro is available for sale, I figured I would go take a look at how much it costs with everything upgraded to the highest possible configuration. And as you can see in the screenshot above, it will cost you $52,748.

Apparently there is an 8TB SSD option coming soon so it will definitely be well over $53,000. For context, the MSRP for a brand-new BMW 5 Series is $53,900.

Then we can also add the Pro Display XDR with nano-texture glass with a Pro Stand which will add $6,998 to it. And why not make it a dual-monitor setup while we're at it.

So now this whole setup will set you back $66,744, excluding taxes.

mac pro cart

Well, at least the shipping is free.




16-inch MacBook Pro First Impressions Roundup


Marco Arment:

I’m on cloud nine. Look at this glorious keyboard! An Esc key! Inverted-T arrow keys! A millimeter of key travel! Enough spacing between the keys for our fingers to accurately orient themselves! And keystrokes will probably work, 100% of the time, for years!

[...]

The biggest change is that I finally don’t feel like it’s constantly fighting me. Its design doesn’t feel spiteful. It’s a computer that doesn’t seem to hate being a computer. I’m not afraid to use it in the world, and I’m not avoiding using it because it’s unpleasant. The butterfly keyboard was the opposite, it never got better, I never got used to it, and good riddance to it.

Following in the footsteps of the fantastic iMac Pro, updated Mac Mini, and upcoming Mac Pro, the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro ends a painful chapter of neglect and hubristic design of the Mac. Apple has finally turned the ship around.

John Gruber:

Really, I don’t think there’s anything I can write here that will convince you how good these speakers sound. However good you think I’m saying they sound, they sound way better than that.

[...]

We shouldn’t be celebrating the return of longstanding features we never should have lost in the first place. But Apple’s willingness to revisit these decisions — their explicit acknowledgment that, yes, keyboards are meant to by typed upon, not gazed upon — is, if not cause for a party, at the very least cause for a jubilant toast.

This is a MacBook you can once again argue is the best laptop hardware money can buy.

A lot of high praises for this new 16-inch MacBook Pro. The 15-inch MacBook Pro has been my main personal computing device since the 2010 model and now the 2019 model for work. So I spend a lot of time on them. This upgrade sure does look like it has almost everything I wish for.

Jason Snell (via Michael Tsai):

[D]espite the reduction in bezel size, this is a larger laptop than the 15-inch MacBook Pro—14.09 inches wide (up .34 inches or about 9 millimeters) and 9.48 inches deep (up .2 inches or about 5.2 millimeters). The 16-inch MacBook Pro is also thicker, by less than a millimeter, at 0.64 inches (1.62cm) thick.

[...]

Clearly Apple’s design philosophy here was to optimize for performance and battery life and allow the laptop to get a little larger if needed. After many years of Apple seemingly prioritizing thinness and lightness even in its products targeted at professional users, this is a refreshing shift.

[...]

The new studio-quality mic array has a signal-to-noise ratio that is so high, it rivals that of popular professional-grade standalone digital microphones. With 40 percent less hiss than before, recordings sound superclean and capture much more of the quieter detail

[...]

If you’re someone who was waiting to throw out the industrial design of the MacBook Pro for something that looks different, or to add back MagSafe and a card slot, this laptop will disappoint you. Apple apparently didn’t have those features high on its priority list, if they were even there at all.

And a little bit of insight from Phil Schiller in an interview with Roger Cheng:

To make this new scissor mechanism work appropriately in a notebook, we had to adapt it to the angle, which is different in a notebook than in a slanted desktop design for ergonomics. And it had to work in a design that had a backlight, which the notebook has that desktops do not.




Lewis Hamilton Won the F1 2019 World Championship


formula1.com:

Lewis Hamilton has stepped out of the great Juan Manuel Fangio’s shadow to join Michael Schumacher as one of only two drivers in history to have won as many as six F1 world championship titles.

What an incredible achievement. One more to go to match Schumacher with the most world titles of seven. I hope Hamilton will surpass him though I don't think it will be easy with the regulation changes coming up in the next couple of years.

Side note: I'm a complete newcomer to F1 but I highly recommend Netflix's documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive. It's what got me started with this sport.




John Gruber's AirPods Pro First Impressions


John Gruber of Daring Fireball:

[T]here’s no question how AirPods Pro compare to regular AirPods. The difference is like night and day. Amtrak trains are pretty noisy — especially at what we in the U.S. so adorably consider “high speeds” — but with AirPods Pro the clackety-clack rumble was effectively blocked out.

[...]

My corner store has a noisy refrigeration unit. With AirPods Pro on — playing nothing — I couldn’t hear it at all. I couldn’t tell that my dishwasher was running even though I was sitting right across from it in my kitchen.

The AirPods Pro's noise cancellation seems to be better than expected. Even MKBHD thought so too. I'm pretty sure it's no better than those in Bose and Sony over-ear headphones. But I'm going on some long haul flights soon and they are perfect testing grounds for this. I'll report back in a couple of weeks.

Also, an interesting tidbit:

The force sensor — the flat section on the earbuds stem that faces forward when in your ear — is effectively a button. But it’s not a button. It doesn’t actually move, and it doesn’t provide haptic feedback. But it acts like a button and — most importantly — sounds like a button. When you press it, the AirPod Pro plays a click. I use the singular AirPod there because the click only plays in the bud whose force sensor you pressed. The effect is uncannily like clicking a real button. In a similar way to how force touch trackpads on modern MacBooks and Touch ID iPhone home buttons feel like they truly click, the AirPods Pro force sensors feel like actual clicking buttons. They actually have more of a premium clicky feel than the truly clicking buttons on Apple’s wired EarPods, even though they don’t actually click. It’s uncanny, and Apple at its best.