Thursday, March 31, 2005


Wait! Don’t hang up! I’ve had an interesting adversarial relationship with algebra. Most would say I won. I know I lost. But I eventually came to realize it was through no fault of my own.

It all began after I got kicked out of high school. (They called me a bunch of names like ‘incorrigible,’ ‘undisciplined’ and ’habitual truant.’ Do you think that’s fair? I was just a kid!)

I thought I was through with school. (A line from Woody Allen struck a note with me. In his fifties he said something like, “I give thanks when I wake up every morning that I don’t have to go to school today.”)

Then they told me I had to go to something called ‘continuation.’ How often? Every God damned day! What was the point of getting kicked out of school if I still had to go to school?

If I got a job it was only one day a week, so I got a job.

In this ‘continuation school’ they put me in an algebra class. I glanced at that crap now and then and it looked pretty simple, but mostly I slept in that class.

As soon as I turned 17 I put an end to school by joining the Air Force. Believe me, getting out of school was a major reason in my enlisting.

Flash ahead two years.

The armed forces hold a world wide competition among enlisted men for entry to West Point. I applied. Why not?

I killed on the exam. I got the highest score on the base. Only it wasn’t high enough to get into West Point. The exam was in three parts. In two parts I had a near perfect score. Trouble was the third part was algebra in which my score was dismal. Just a moderate score would have gotten me into West Point.

Justice? I don’t know. I can’t imagine me being a success in a military academy. I was still pretty undisciplined. They booted me up to staff sergeant at age 20 but that was because the Air Force rented me out to civilian contractors to run civilian survey crews. They pretty much had to give me some rank but that had little to do with the military or discipline. (At least I had become corrigible.)

Flash ahead 9 or 10 years.

After coming ‘home’ from Iran I decided, for some odd reason, to pursue a degree in engineering. I was already an engineer by definition (meaning that was my title and pay grade).

I enrolled at City College of San Francisco. Of course they put me into college algebra. I must say I creamed that course. In this junior college the class met daily. Every day there were problems to solve in class. Every day there was homework. Then there were periodic tests, and the mid-term and the final.

I got one problem wrong.

In the whole semester!

Everyone and the record would say that I mastered algebra. In truth, I failed miserably. Why? I had to cheat on every word problem. When they gave me a word problem I would solve it first through math and intuition, and then work backwards to set up the algebraic formula that would give the correct answer.

What the hell good is that? If you can’t solve word problems, then algebra has no practical application. And so it has been in my life.

Maybe the title of this essay should have been “Words and Me.” I’ve had the same problem with other types of word problems. I cannot do crossword puzzles or even give simple definitions of words.

But, as I wrote in the beginning, I have come to realize that it is through no fault of my own. That’s just the way my mind works. You have to play with the hand you were dealt.


Here are some facts and opinions (mine) about Gilligan’s Island:

It was on for three seasons. A total of 98 episodes were made.

Before the last episode was aired, the show was put into global syndication.

It has been re-run more times than any show in history.

It has been seen in more countries than any show in history.

Yes, even more than I Love Lucy or My Mother the Car.

Gilligan and The Skipper are one of the best comedy teams in history.

Why was it cancelled after only 3 seasons?

For one thing the critics hated it. (Critics are elitists who must always dislike low-brow shows. They must always prove they are better than you, which is the only reason they are critics. Even after the low-brow show is a huge success, they will not admit they are wrong. They will insist you are wrong.)

Network heads, also elitists and probably influenced by the critics, were contemptuous of the show. They changed the time and day of the broadcast every season.

The show never cracked the top 10 in the ratings although it always did well. In its last season it won its time slot.

I was a big fan of the show.

So why did I title this essay UN-MEMORABLE HUMOR?

Because, although I have probably seen every episode multiple times, they are always like new to me. I can never remember a single episode. That can be partly explained by my habit of reading or writing while I’m watching TV. I’ve been ridiculed for reading, playing a video game and watching TV at the same time. But that’s what I do.

The light, friendly, pleasant, humorous tone they achieved on that show is better than almost any background music I can think of. That is not a knock. It is a huge compliment. There is some great background music around.

But it was certainly un-memorable humor.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


I can never remember jokes. I once collected humor but no more (I couldn’t bring everything to Thailand). Out of the thousands of jokes I’ve heard I remember only a handful.

Here’s one:

A guy asks a pretty young thing, “Do you smoke after sex?”
Pretty Young Thing: “I never looked.”

If I were asked who is (was) the best stand-up I’d have to say Bob Newhart. Talk about memorable. When he does stand-up now, a good portion of his audience recites his monologues along with him. That is the definition of memorable. I can even remember lines from his “lesser” routines such as (without looking anything up):

The submarine bit.
A movie in Africa.
Seven lost cities of the Incas.
Bus driver school.

Those are some of his “B” list material that I haven’t heard or heard of in over 20 years. Still it is all familiar to me.

His writing and delivery are unmatched in American humor. There was never an excess word. I’ve often wondered if he dashed it off in moments of inspiration or if he labored over every word as I have to do (without near the success).

Lenny Bruce was great in his own way. He paved the way and took all the heat for comics to come. But for pure stand-up, Bob Newhart is the king.

Friday, March 25, 2005


I never paid much attention to the weather as a kid. As a young adult, working outside, it became very important to me.

When I worked as a surveyor for the City and County of San Francisco (starting pay $270 a month), rain meant a day off with pay. That conditioned me, like Pavlov’s dogs, to have a life-long affection for rain.

So where did I go on my first non-military overseas job? Perhaps the driest place on earth. The Southern Peruvian Desert. I heard that it hadn’t rained in that desert, and the western Andes that bordered it, in 40 years. It didn’t rain all the time I was there, but we did have a fog or two.

I looked it up. Average annual rainfall in that area is 9mm or 3/8 of an inch. That sounds high. Maybe they count the moisture the fogs leave.

Four or five years later I was in Da Nang, RVN, when a “tropical storm” hit. They called it a tropical storm but it was worse than the two typhoons I experienced in the Pacific. In just two days we got 21 inches of rain. Yearly average rainfall in San Francisco is 19.33 inches. I guess that made up for Peru.

Then I settled down in Southern California. That is a semi-arid region 400 miles south of “The City,” as San Francisco is known. I won’t say the frequent droughts depressed me, but the occasional rain cheered me so much that perhaps I had been depressed without knowing it. Perhaps I had learned to live with it without recognizing it.

Then when I decided to move to Thailand I was looking forward getting back into a tropical climate. Come on monsoon! The more rain the better.

So what happens? Southern California has record rainfall. Thailand is having a record drought.

I just can’t win.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Dan Rather had a flaming tire around his neck? I didn’t know that.

The following is from Greg Palast who writes for the Observer in England.

Wednesday Mar 9, 2005
By Greg Palast

Without his make-up, Dan looked like hell warmed over: old, defeated, yet angry. And he told our television audience something that just blew me away. American journalists, Dan Rather said, simply may not ask tough questions about George Bush or his wars.

“It’s an obscene comparison," Rather said, "but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around people’s necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be neck-laced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck."

Talking to another reporter, Dan told it straight about the careerism that keeps US reporters in line. “It’s that fear that keeps [American] journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore-in on the tough questions so often.” Silence as patriotism.

He admitted, “One finds oneself saying, ‘I know the right question, but you know what, this is not exactly the right time to ask it."

It was making him ill and he was ready to say, basta, enough. Suddenly, there was fire in those eyes. "It's extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted and I'm sorry to say that, up to and including this moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current Administration revels in that, they relish and take refuge in that."

Of course, Dan said all these things to a British audience. But back in the USA, Dan had promised America he would be a good boy, a trained press puppy who would poop on the paper set down for him. He told his US audience, "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up, just tell me where." But CBS' million-dollar man was about to step out of line.

In 2003, BBC Television questioned George Bush's career as Viet Nam era Top Gun fighter pilot. In the British broadcast, I held up a confidential letter from Justice Department files stating that Poppy Bush had put in the fix to get Junior Bush out of 'Nam and into the Texas Air Guard. George could spend the war protecting Houston from Viet Cong attack.

A year after the BBC broadcast, the I'm-going-to-be-a-real-journalist-now Rather decided to run the same story on 60 Minutes. And just as he predicted, the press-police at the network and in the White House seized him and lit the tire around his neck.

What was Dan's mistake? Yes, yes, he shouldn't have embellished the story with a document he couldn't fully source. But that memo (not the one in the BBC report) was about a side issue, not the key accusation, that Senior Bush got Junior out of the draft. Despite not a jot of evidence that the main story of draft-dodgin' George was wrong (BBC never withdrew it), CBS cited Rather's insistence on the veracity of that report as grounds to crush his career and his reputation.

Rather was convicted by a corporate kangaroo court. Dickie Thornburgh, who had been Poppy Bush's Attorney General and owed his big salaries and career to the Bush family, ran an "independent" investigation which concluded -- surprise! -- the Bushes had done no wrong. It was Dan that committed the evil. That whacky conclusion went along just fine with the diktat of Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom, CBS' owner, that a "Republican administration is better for media companies."

In "Darkness at Noon," Arthur Koestler explained why old Communists, brought up for trial by Stalin, still sang the system's praises -- just before they were shot. To do otherwise would have been to cast doubt on the cause to which they sacrificed their lives. Now, Dan Rather, like those soon-to-be executed victims of Stalin, has bowed his head in silence in the face of the evil purge. To do otherwise, I suppose, would be to acknowledge that his career has been a path of increasing salaries and celebrity bought by increasing toady-dom. Imagine if Edward R. Murrow, after having exposed Joe McCarthy, replied to criticism by bowing his head for the noose-man.

Rather died as a journalist years ago by accepting the evil gag orders of the media moguls. Still, I applaud his attempt with the Bush story to kick his way out of his professional coffin. Unfortunately, his current silence simply gives aid and comfort to the censoring corporate news-killers.

Tonight, Rather read off his last "news" broadcast, if you can call it that. To Dan the newsman, and to American journalism, all I can say is, rest in peace.

I wonder why Dan didn’t say all that to his audience in America. It would have given everyone a chance to understand him better.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I was at the Blame Bush site. That is a satirical site that I tried before and found tedious. Satire is difficult to create and maintain. Yesterday it was hilarious. Not only the posts but the comments. Woe be to the unaware comment contributor who takes it all to be serious. Those animals will tear off his head and piss down his neck (much to my enjoyment).

There was a link to some other funny stuff. This site was the Democratic Underground. They had the premise, with several documents and pictures to prove it, that Bush Sr. was present at and involved in the Kennedy assassination. I thought that was pretty funny also. Then, as I read farther, I started to wonder if this was satire or if they were serious.

Well, if it’s satire, they got me. If you can’t be sure, then the jokes on you.

But if they are serious, they are insane. I know that’s an overused word and an underused diagnoses [I’m not sure what that means but it sounds pretty clever], but think about it: These people think they have evidence to prove that Bush Sr. was present at and involved in, the Kennedy assassination!

No. Nobody could be that nuts. I’ve been had. It won’t be the first time. It is all just a big put-on.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Our country needs a two party system. Right now the Republicans are chortling at the self destruction of the Democrats. But, in the long run, that will be terrible for the country. The right will become more and more arrogant and are certain to abuse their powers.

Right now Michael Powell and his brethren on the FCC should be indicted for extortion for withholding broadcast licenses until millions of dollars were paid to them.

This is an issue the left, especially the bloggers, ought to exploit. I haven’t seen a word about it. Perhaps they are afraid of being seen to come to the defense of Howard Stern. That is foolish. Repression always starts with the most easily repressed and then it works its way to YOU! Free speech issues ALWAYS affect EVERYONE.

The Dems desperately need some adults to lead them. It will take more than one person. A group of them have to get together and decide to put the country ahead of their party. It’s not good enough just to oppose everything bush does. It’s not good enough just to hate Bush. The American people are repelled by that in greater and greater numbers.

The Dems need to focus of their positives. They need to say what they can do better than the other guy. And I don’t mean retreating from battles and surrendering sovereignty to international organizations. That won’t get them anywhere.

Most of all, the Dems need to quit being so damned emotional. It is very, very difficult to have a logical discussion with them when they are so emotional that they can’t organize their thoughts.

I have been having some email exchanges with a childhood friend. He is a scientist and the smartest guy I know. He was getting straight A’s in school while I was getting straight F’s. I doubt that he reads this blog so I send him a few select posts. When I sent him the post, CAN LIBERALS BE TRUSTED?, this was his response: (Willie was my nickname.)

From your tirades, I assume you like and approve of an administration that blatantly lies to you about WMD, missiles, poison gas, nuclear threats and commits billions and a burgeoning debt, costs thousands of deaths and ruins tens of thousands of lives with unforgettable wounds for an alleged threat that never existed, all because some bad guy tried to take out dad and your friends can make money. Willie, I thought you were smarter than that.

Here was my response:

I would love to have a political dialogue with you. I respect you immensely so perhaps you can make me see the error of my ways. But you weren't off to a good start. Your response seemed like that of a knee jerk liberal.

1. You changed the subject. Think of being undercover in Cuba and somewhere up the chain of command is Michael Moore or the equivalent.

2. You listed DNC talking points. They work good on bumper stickers but do not contribute to conversation.

3. You questioned my intelligence ("I thought you were smarter than that"). Liberals always do that. If someone can't see your point of view, they must not be too bright. Bush is dumb. Reagon (sic) was dumb.

If you look at my profile on my blog,, you'll see that I worked in the Johnson campaign in 1964. One of my rants is titled RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOULD GO TO JAIL. One coming up compares Ashcroft to the Taliban.

See! Fair and balanced. If you disagree with something, leave a comment.

Hope you guys had a sweet Christmas and have a great year ahead.

Then, after I nudged him to reply, along came this:

Sorry I don't reply as often as you desire, but I don't have time to live in front of a PC screen Life's too short to be wasting that kind of time, and I have other things I would rather do. Since I as an individual cannot really have any influence on anything that happens here or in the world, all I can do is bitch a bit when I see or feel something is stupid. However, those in power don't really care what people like me think or feel and they will continue to do whatever helps line their and their friends pockets. Greed has not been outlawed. Unfortunately, that was something that wasn't taught us in Portola or Bal. And most of us were too stupid to learn on our own and never able to achieve any position of power to exercise our own version of greed.
But I still feel this administration is a long term disaster for the USA. I am sorry for our grandchildren. Personally, I won't feel the consequences with at most 10 years left on this planet. But life here 25-50 years from now is incomprehensible to me now. I just hope the kids can manage. A class society with the greatest gap between classes is rapidly developing, possible to become as bad as that which we had read about in history classes, even in junior high. With blue collar jobs disappearing into China and the only things for young people to get into are jobs at minimum pay of $6.50 an hour, I have no hope for their future.

So enjoy your retirement in Southeast Asia. Forget the woes of the world. Love your wife as long as the pecker stays up, and hope she still loves you when it no longer stays up.

I’m no psychologist but I suspected something on the order of clinical depression. I was afraid I was pushing him over the edge so it was time to stop pushing. From then on I sent him only stuff that might cheer him up. He hasn’t responded since. I hope he’s okay.

But those are the views of a very bright liberal. If you look at the left-blogs, he is not far from their mainstream. They need to organize all that intellect and energy.

Where are the adults?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Giuiland Sgrena is, in case you haven’t followed it, the Italian reporter who was recently released by her captors in Iraq.

Call me a cynic but it has occurred to me that she couldn’t have done more harm to our coalition in Iraq if she had planned it.

Here are some facts:

She is a reporter on a Communist Italian newspaper.

She and her newspaper have been against our mission in Iraq since forever.

She had been warned, emphatically, not to go there because it was dangerous.

She went anyway but not to mingle among the 3000 Italian soldiers who are part of our coalition.

She instead went to a place in the country where she was in harm’s way and was without adequate protection.

Surprise! She was “kidnapped” by the assassins.

Surprise! She is not one of the many beheaded by the assassins.

She is “released” after, reportedly, a ransom of 6 million dollars is paid, which would amount to a donation to the assassins, which her paper might have gladly made anyway if they knew where to send the money.

While speeding off to freedom her car is fired upon when it, reportedly, fails to slow at an American checkpoint. An Italian is killed.

In her interviews and writings since then she has told several conflicting accounts of the latter incident.

Her only consistent position is that the assassins are good (those are the guys who “kidnapped her and threatened her life”), and the Americans are bad (those are the guys who are fighting the guys who “kidnapped her and threatened her life“).

So what is the net result when a pro-assassin, communist reporter visits Iraq against the advice of her country?

The assassins are, reportedly, 6 million dollars richer.

The Italian Prime Minister, a loyal American ally while his people are not, is besieged by many, including his Foreign Minister. There is some danger that the entire 3,000 man Italian contingent in Iraq might be withdrawn.

As a bonus, the Italian secret service man who was killed at the road block might have been anti-assassin.

Wow! What a trip!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I’m giving these things away like candy. This time I’m giving away a Nobel prize in medicine. The first one will be for whoever adopts the ideas I put forward when I solved THE CASE OF THE MISSING WATER ON MARS (see below). This one will be for whoever proves the value of environment in medicine.

Here’s a little background:

I was stationed at Eglin AFB on Florida’s panhandle one summer “a while” ago. I won’t say how long. They put me in the base hospital for a trivial thing. It had to be 100 degrees outside. The temperature inside the hospital was kept around 70. It was like going into a meat locker. The cold was a shock when you entered. All the patients in the ward I was in caught cold.

Flash forward eight or nine years.

I was camped in northwest Iran in July. We had all just arrived. There was “a thing going around,” not connected with the dysentery that we all got. The “thing” was a 72 hour sickness that absolutely floored some of us. It brought fever and chills and a loss of appetite and strength.
The temperatures was in the 90’s outside and over a hundred inside my tent. To this day I remember how comforting that heat in my tent was to me. The chills were much worse than the fever and I could feel the heat giving me strength.

Sometime later I was seated next to a doctor an a trans-Pacific flight. I asked him about the temperatures being kept so low in hospitals. He said he noticed, when he made his rounds, that a lot of patients were bundled up. He seemed to be connecting the two for the first time. Then he said that he and other doctors with outside practices merely throw a smock over their business suits before making their rounds. A higher temperature would make it very uncomfortable for them.

Perhaps that helps explain why, when you go in with a broken leg, you die of pneumonia; you go in with colon cancer, you die of pneumonia; you go in with malnutrition, you die of pneumonia.

Back to my premise:

Just being instrumental in raising hospital temperatures won’t get someone a Nobel prize, no matter how much deserved. What is needed is some in-depth research into the effect of temperatures and humidity in treating various illnesses. That is where the Nobel prize awaits. When a doctor can prescribe temperature and humidity in the same way he prescribes medicine, then someone has made a great contribution. A Nobel worthy contribution.


This is from a long time ago.

A frog comes in to see the Wizard.

The frog says, "I want you to turn me into a frog."

The Wizard looks at him and says, "You are a frog."

The frog goes and looks at himself in a mirror and says, "Wow! You're good."

He turns to the Wizard and asks, "How much do I owe you?"

Monday, March 07, 2005


When I started this thing I had ideas for maybe six pieces and wondered what I’d do after that. Problem solved. I’ve gotten this far and now have a backlog of ten more pieces. And then things come along like this and the previous essay, AMERICAN FRIED RICE, that weren’t in the schedule that I manage to squeeze in.

My favorite place to write is at the Grand Hotel which is not far from our house. The Jungle Princess and I are members of their pool, spa and exercise facility. While she swims in the pool and steams in the sauna, I write. I write longhand which I sometimes do even when alongside my computer. The longhand process is somehow easier for me. Alongside the pool at the Grand, I can usually finish an essay in one sitting.

Before I was most productive when I was writing for a known audience, like a writing class. Here, there is hardly any audience that I know of. And still I am quite content to write and post, write and post, write and post. Who knows, maybe someday someone will read this crap.

UPDATE: I saw on the internet that I am being plagiarized. How do I feel about that? I would rather be credited, but I am glad that someone is reading this crap. I would rather be read and stolen from than not be read at all.


They have a dish here in Bangkok called “American Fried Rice.” It is on just about every menu that I am able to read. All restaurants that I have gone to have an English translation of their menu (sometimes only one), and I almost always find that item.

What is it? There is a bed of ordinary fried rice surrounded by a slice of ham, a pork sausage, and a fried chicken leg and topped with a fried egg. These ingredients do not vary.

Where does it come from? It would be interesting to know but I have no idea. It is a dish that I have seen nowhere else in the world.

Here are some more menu and food observations:

A nearby restaurant called “13 Coins” has a dish called “Steak Sinatra.” The steak is larger than its regular steak and is cooked with several varieties of vegetables and served covered with a thick gravy and with a side of French fries.

The menu at a restaurant in a massage parlor lists a hamburger sandwich for 150 Baht (about US $3.50). It also list a filet mignon for 150 Baht. Tough choice. (The steak was pretty good.)

I tried a hamburger sandwich once. I couldn’t finish it. It had an unusual taste. From spices I think. Yes they do have McDonald’s here (not near as many as in Singapore) but I haven’t tried them yet. I also spotted a couple of Burger King’s and some KFC’s.

UPDATE: The Pizza Store here has a seafood pizza which is delicious. Toppings include shrimp, imitation crab and clams. The rolled up outer crust is stuffed with imitation crab. This is one The Jungle Princess can eat. She is Buddhist and has dietary restrictions. We get that pizza delivered at least once a week.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Howard Stern is a scamp. He knows how to get people to talk. More than once a prominent black rapper has been in to talk about his stable of whores and how he keeps them in line by hitting them with his shoe. I doubt all of that is true.

Mr. “T” came in once and Stern started off the interview by asking him how his mother was.

Well Mr. “T” just about went bananas. “Why you talkin’ ‘bout my mother?” He wanted to fight anyone and everyone in the studio. He finally stormed out without hitting anyone.

I’m sure Stern did it on purpose. He had learned in a pre-interview that it was a sensitive topic. But it made great radio.

Mr. “T” came back a short time later and gracefully apologized. In his defense, he had been going through some difficult times.

I have a cousin whom I dearly love even though she is a hopeless liberal. (From the audience: “How liberal is she?”) She has lived all her life in Berkeley and worked at the university. Is that a clue?

I love to tweak her. I started a sentence, “Jews are different be…”

She pulled a Mr. “T” on me. “Different!? They’re not different! You can’t say that!” Etc. Etc. Etc.

When her tirade stopped, I began again, “Jews are different because…”

Again she interrupted and wouldn’t let me continue.

After a while I asked her to explain what was wrong with the word ‘different.’

She thought about it and finally decided, “Nothing, I guess.”

So I finished my sentence. “Jews are different because they go to temple on Saturday.”

She realized she’d been had, but that was no reason for her to hit me. (I would have sued but Johnny Cochran said he was busy.)

Which brings me to the point of all this. Das is a blogger out of Seattle ( ) who has made kind comments about this site. I enjoy browsing his site because it gives me ideas. (My post: WHY I’M HIDING IN THAILAND is really all about him.)

He posted an essay about his Seattle neighborhood about the time I posted THE VANDALS, and we had this exchange. (Some irrelevance removed.)

Walter Guest said...
The big difference between immigration today and during the previous history of the country is that immigrants today, in general, do not wish to assimilate. Previous immigrant groups wanted greatly to assimilate. Except, of course, for the Jews, who will assimilate nowhere, and look what that has got them.9:24 PM

Das said...
Walter - hey, I've got to object to your comment that Jews don't assimilate - I mean that doesn't make sense to me - The Jews have been in America since the beginning and their contribution to every area of life has been was their sense of complete assimilation into pre-WWII Germany that delayed their response to the fascism directed at can you mean?
9:26 AM

I think I was supposed to go on the defensive there. I detect, perhaps, a question if that was an anti-Semitic remark.

Strangely, the first time I heard this (refusal to assimilate) was from a Jewish girlfriend some years ago. That was her idea of pillow talk. There was no doubt what she was referring to: Intermarriage and mixing blood lines. She was for it. (I dodged that bullet.)

The ultimate in assimilation is absorption. A group adopts the culture and religion and intermarry and mix blood lines.

That’s why the British people can say they’ve never been conquered although their islands have been. They absorbed all who conquered them so they are now both the conquered and the conquerors.

In my old neighborhood the different nationalities and religions mixed with great gusto, eagerness and steaming hormones, paying no attention to the despair of immigrant parents. The only exception was the Jews who, for the most part, only married Jews. That was at the root of my remark about assimilation.

Of course in America they have assimilated much more than in Europe. It was my Jewish girlfriend of old who mocked the preservation of “scary blood lines” and actually made that quote, “Look what that has got them.”

I’m not going to cop out, I agree with her completely, but there’s nothing anti-Semitic in that. They hold on to their religion, culture, traditions and bloodlines. Good for them. There’s nothing wrong with that.

If you’re offended, it’s your problem not mine.

UPDATE: Das was right. (But so was Walter.) (This is posted after the first two comments below.)

First, two points.

1. I hate to let facts interfere with an interesting discussion.

2. I hate to do research or anything else that might remotely resemble work.

That being said, I actually spent 13 seconds looking this up on

Jewish identity is declining sharply.

Of 5.6 million Jews, 2 million American Jews live in households identified as non-Jewish
60% of Jews below 40 years of age live in households identified as non-Jewish

20% of Jews over 60 years of age live in households identified as non-Jewish
Intermarriage rates are increasing dramatically.

Before 1965, 10% of Jews who married, did so outside the faith.

Since 1985, 52% of Jews who married have done so outside the faith.

Children are being raised as non-Jews.

1 million, or 54% of all American Jewish children under the age of 18 are being raised as non-Jews or with no religion.

Fertility Rates are not high enough to replenish the religion.

The average fertility rate of American Jewish women is 1.4 children per household. The replacement level is 2.1 children.

Less emphasis is being placed on a Jewish education.

In 1962, 540,000 Jewish children were attending afternoon weekend schools, and 60,000 were enrolled in day schools. By 1990, fewer than 240,000 Jewish children attended
afternoon /weekend schools and 140,000 attended day schools.

NET LOSS -- 220,000 Jewish children.

Traditional Shabbat observance is extremely low.

Only 36% of Jewish households light the Shabbat Candles.

Of the population that consists of people who were born Jewish and are Jewish by choice, only 11% attend synagogue weekly.

* All Statistics taken from Council of Jewish Federations' 1990 National Jewish Population Survey. This is the most comprehensive source of American Jewish data available

My observations from when I was growing up prove to be right on the money. But times, they are a-changin’.

Again, there in no good or bad in all of this from my point of view. I only make observations as a neutral observer.

Friday, March 04, 2005


I was raised in a neighborhood in San Francisco populated mostly by the families of immigrants. We were all Democrats. That was taken for granted. The only votes a Republican could get there were ethnic votes. That is, if they ran an Irishman they could get the Irish vote, and so on.

So I was a confirmed liberal well into adulthood, never even considering an alternative, but never getting active in a political campaign.

When the Kennedy-Nixon campaign came along I stood on the sidelines, sure that Kennedy would win in a landslide. Looking at both candidates, through the eyes of a liberal, I couldn’t see the possibility of any other outcome. The closeness of that election was a shock to me.

Skip ahead four years. I had just returned from 18 months in Viet Nam and it was Johnson against Goldwater. It looked like a cinch to me but so did the last one. I volunteered at the Johnson headquarters and they put me in charge of the speakers bureau for Northern California.

This was my first contact with the real liberals, the hard-core liberals, the political liberals, and it was a revelation to me. They treated me decently but it was clear that we were not equals. They were professionals and I was an unknown entity that might need indoctrination. They were hard to talk to. It was like walking on egg shells. I like to kid around (see post below) and a lot of my humor is self deprecating. That kind of stuff was greeted with a fish eye stare. Especially if it included our candidate or our campaign. Worse than that, they would totally reject facts which I knew to be true. Here are some examples:

1. Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French army who spent years on Devil’s Island after being falsely convicted of a crime. It was a cause celebre (I hope that’s right) for liberals around the world. After he was released with a full pardon there was a case in which someone was suspected of a similar crime. When told about it he was heard to say, “Well, you know, where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

When I related this story to a liberal coworker all I got was that stare. “No,” he said, “that never happened.”

All I could do was stare back and wonder how he could know that. I didn’t know if it was true, but I knew I read it and I couldn‘t say it wasn‘t.

2. In asking me about my travels, I mentioned the most difficult thing was the lack of trained technicians in Northwest Iran. We had to train our own. That was difficult because we would get them to a certain level then, the next day, they would seem to have forgotten.

I got ‘That Stare’ again. “No,” I was told. “That never happened.”

That shocked me. I was there. I saw it happen. And yet they told me it didn’t happen. I started to see that what I said went against their fundamental beliefs so they had to reject it.

3. I overheard a conversation in which they were talking about blacks being brought to America as slaves. Someone was saying there were 50 or 100 million black brought here. (I later found that it was some popular folk fiction going around in those days that was being generally quoted as gospel.)

My B. S. detector kicked in. Numbers were my life and those didn’t make sense. I butted into their conversation and showed them that one or two thousand would have to be landed every day to achieve that figure. It did not compute.

This time they were shocked and they had to concede it didn’t make sense.

4. There was a group of us eating lunch when I was asked what the Vietnamese people thought of us.

I told them there were no problems. They seemed to like us just fine.

They pressed me to recall any incident.

“There was one. It happened in a restaurant in a small town (Soc Trang) down on the Mekong Delta. This old lady came up to my table and hollered at me about something. I asked my interpreter what she wanted and he told me to forget it. She was just a crazy lady.”

My liberal friends looked at each other and I realized, intuitively, that this was what they were looking for. This was all the evidence they needed. The Vietnamese hated us. If they had been newsmen they would have rushed out to file that story.

These things made me realize I could never be a real liberal.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


The Jungle Princess and I go out at night about once a week to a massage parlor. Not for a massage. In fact, the girls who work in them would be very surprised if you went there only for a massage.

No, we go for dinner and entertainment and to shoot pool, and to let me ogle the beautiful women. There are six of these “massage parlors” that we frequent. All are within a short cab ride of our house. There are dozens of others in that range but we only frequent six. These six all have decent restaurants. Some have live entertainment. Some have pool tables. All have beautiful women.

About me looking at other women. The Jungle Princess and I have discussed it and have come to a very mature agreement. It is okay for me to look, but if I go any farther, she will cut my dick off. You see where mature negotiations can get you? Is she serious? I don’t know. But she likes to put live crawdads by the hundreds into our aquarium and then watch our fish hunt them down. I’m not going to take any chances.

In the “massage parlors” the young masseuses flirt with me professionally. The young waitresses flirt with me innocently. The young masseuses are far more beautiful. The young waitresses are far more sexy. They are all openly envious of The Jungle Princess. It is great for my ego. It is great for her ego. (I should mention that we very seldom see another westerner in our area of Bangkok.)

The Jungle Princess likes to play pool. She plays poorly. I haven’t played much in over 50 years (holy crap, that’s half a century!). When I did play I was no better than average with no hope of getting any better.

The last time we played I got into THE ZONE. I made three of the greatest shots that I have ever seen made anywhere! Bystanders (there are always bystanders) cheered and clapped. All three shots involved banking the cue ball before it could hit the object ball. They started thinking I was some kind of professional. Then when I missed simple, nearly straight in shots, they thought I was just taking it easy on the girl. Wrong. I was trying my best. I’m just a lousy player who made three miraculous shots in one set.

Why am I telling you all this? I felt like it.