Friday, October 28, 2005


(I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I use a drug extensively. I’m drinking a rum and soda as I write this. I have used alcohol for 50 years.

Also, on one extended R & R at home from Viet Nam, I started popping Miltowns (an anti-depressant) like candy. I gradually, on my own, weaned myself down until I was clean.

Those are the only drugs I have ever used.)

Conservatives often demagogue the drug problem. Their common sense is held prisoner by the fear of upsetting their constituency. Very few have the courage to step up and be a leader.

When they do address the drug problem, they appear to be clueless.

Rush Limbaugh is a good example.

I listened to him religiously when his program first went nationwide. He was like a breath of fresh air. He was saying all the things most of us believed but had no chance to express. His was the voice of the common man.

But here is how he handled the drug issue. I heard him narrate this story more than once when the subject of legalizing marijuana came up. This was many years ago, long before he became a drug addict himself.

He worked with a guy, he told us, who used marijuana. This guy’s marijuana use then expanded into heavier drugs and he became an addict and his life went down the drain. End of story.

Marijuana, he would then lecture us, is a gateway drug and therefore should not be legalized.

Alright class, how many things can you see wrong with this argument?

Right, it is an anecdote about one man. We should not make the experiences of one man, even if true, the basis of national policy.

Okay. What else?

Right, he mentioned only marijuana as a gateway drug. What is a far more common gateway drug?

Right, alcohol, and why didn’t he mention that?

Right, because he uses alcohol and that would weaken his argument.

Now I have great respect for Rush Limbaugh. His ability to formulate an argument verbally might be unmatched in history. But he has had a nemesis or two (I don’t include Al Franken, who is a lightweight).

In his early years, Limbaugh got trumped a couple of times by very intelligent callers-in. That caused him to formulate the policy of: “It is the caller’s job to make the host look good.” So he wouldn’t take any more calls from anyone who had showed him up.

In his first year on national radio, the subject of abortion came up. He would give no opinion on the subject but said he would “think about it“ for a few days. Of course he was asking his audience for guidance. He had no dog in that fight. He was a 300+ pound fat man.

So he waited three days, got the feed-back from his audience, and came out firmly and eloquently pro-life, anti-abortion. He has been a staunch pro-lifer ever since.

That led me to the opinion that childless fat men should have no say and no vote on the subject of abortion. It should be obvious that their passions and interests are elsewhere.

The important point is that he had to check with his listeners before he could have an opinion. I doubt that he would risk alienating them on anything of grave national importance like drug policy. That is why much of his position should be discounted.

Intelligent discussion of drug policies should be led by liberals. But they are in such disarray they are unable to contribute anything positive to the country right now. On the contrary, they are likely to oppose anyone to their right who might bring up the subject.

It will take a man or group with courage from the center to broach this subject. Perhaps McCain’s little gang?


I never cooked at all until I got back from Viet Nam, with a kid in tow, at the age of 40. Some years later I seriously contemplated writing a cooking column for a newspaper. I never did, but it would have been interesting.

No one could have started further back or dumber than me. I’m the guy that didn’t remove the frozen dinners from the cartons before putting them in the oven. (It didn’t say to do that in the instructions.)

But I smartened up. Some people never smarten up.

Some years later, while shopping in a market, I saw a sale on some canned items.

“Look at that,” I said to the fat lady standing next to me, “that’s a great price for lentils.”

“Lentils,” she scoffed. “They taste awful.”

“No, no. You add cooked bacon or sausage pieces, a little spiced tomato sauce, and pour it over toast. It’s delicious.”

“Oh, well,” she said. “if you’re going to fix it up.” She made it sound as if that were cheating.

No my dear. That is what they call “cooking.”

There are two lessons to be learned from this. The first is fat people are good eaters, not necessarily good cooks. (My mother was obese and one of the all time worst cooks.) The second is that imagination is important to cooking. As soon as I pointed out how to “fix it up,” she could imagine how the taste would be improved. Trouble was, she couldn’t imagine it on her own.

Even when I was a novice cook I got the reputation of being a gourmet chef. That was due to deception.

They had a pot luck dinner in the mobile home park in which we lived. My first instinct was to get take out or brownies, both are always a fan favorite. Then I decided to try a little flim-flam. At that time Banquet had two types of frozen Chinese dinners. They were just a Chinese flavored stew with rice in a separate compartment.

I bought two of each, plopped them all together, rice and all, added a couple of seasonings, and there you go. I’d never heard of such a thing, but what the hell. It was a Chinese casserole

It was also a big hit at the Pot-luck. My pot came home empty. That’s the only vote that counts. So I got the reputation as an accomplished cook.

A little later a female resident in the park asked me for the recipe. She was one of the few who hadn’t been hostile to me so I relented. Actually, I wanted to brag about the con I had pulled off.

So I asked her if she could keep it a total secret. She swore she would. So I told her.

Everyone in the park had heard about it the next day. There went my “Master Chef” reputation.

So here is another important lesson to be learned about the secret of cooking: Don’t tell anyone your secret!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I loved baseball as a kid. I loved baseball as much as I hated school.

That was long before there was a Little League. It was long before the adults took over kid’s baseball.

There were almost never any adults watching us play. I played as often as I could, sometimes 7 days a week. No one in my family ever saw me play.

In our neighborhood there was only one adult who took any interest in our games. This guy lived across the street from our diamond. He had two boys for whom he had ambitions. He managed sandlot teams on which his boys played.

I admired him more than any other adult. The lone adult in a kid’s world is certain to get a lot of adulation from us kids. To be frank, he was my hero.

I never played on any of his teams. Our teams were always put together by us kids and we scratched to get organized and get equipment and get a schedule. Sometimes we played his team.

One time I was playing third base against one of his teams. This guy, my hero, was coaching at third base. There was one out with runners on first and second when a hard ground ball was hit to me. I fielded it cleanly, and then I heard this guy, my hero, shouting, “First base, first base.”

Of course I threw the ball to first base. I would have walked through fire if he told me to.

The first baseman dropped the ball. We had bases loaded with one out.

I looked over at my hero. “You dummy,” he said to me, “you should have tagged third and gone to second. You would have had a double play.” He laughed at me.

Now there was a life lesson. You have to be careful who you trust.

This guy, whom I worshipped, was a total creep. I had nothing but contempt for him after that.

I wish I could say we went on to win the game anyway but we didn’t. We lost, helped by my bonehead play.

I was reminded of that by a play in the third game of the World Series. Jermaine Dye was at bat. A pitch came in close to him, fouling off his bat. It looked to me and to the TV announcers that Dye turned to the umpire immediately and claimed the pitch had hit him. The umpire awarded Dye first base.

Paul Konerko followed with a home run.

Replays showed it was a foul ball. Dye later admitted it was a foul ball.

If it happened the way I and the TV crew saw it, that Dye first claimed to be hit and then the umpire called it that way, Dye could be having lots of problems in the future. He had put the umpire in the worst spot imaginable. He set up the umpire to blunder in one of the most important games of his life. Will there be umpiraly revenge? There would be if I were an umpire. Dye would never get another close call his way in his life.

I watched his at-bats closely in the next game. Unfortunately the Astros were sleepwalking. The Astro pitchers were grooving stuff to Dye instead of pitching off the plate to give the umpire a chance for revenge. Dye anticipated what might happen because he was swinging at anything close and connecting. There was only one pitch to hold up as evidence. It was six inches outside. The umpire, who was reputed to have a tight strike zone, called it a strike.

The season ended with that game.

Wait till next year.

Monday, October 24, 2005


While it’s true that I got kicked out of high school and only completed the 9th grade (see my bio), it’s not true that I went through life with a 9th grade education. That is just a brag on my part and an “in your face” at the school system that I did my best to not attend. You might find it hard to believe how much we hated each other.

(So you’ve been lying all this time about that 9th grade education.)

(Can I say I took some Clintonesque liberties with the truth?)

(In other words, you were lying.)


Later in life I accumulated a mass of college credits while attending a dozen or more colleges and universities. Not nearly as many credits I could have gotten if I had finished every course I had started, but if a course or instructor began to bore me, I’d dump it.

(Hey clown writer! How many I’s and me’s do you have in that sentence?)

(Who’s counting?)

I would totally discombobulate faculties. They had no control over me because I wasn’t attending their school for a credit or a grade. I was only there for an education. It was a concept completely foreign to them.

(What the hell does this have to do with Catch 22?)

(I’m leading up to it. Some day I’m going to write about my experiences with higher education.)

(Well be sure you don’t title it Catch 22 when you do.)

One of the courses I took was for comedy writing at UCLA. The instructor had impeccable credentials. He had been a writer for Mad Magazine and was a multiple Emmy winner as a writer on The Carol Burnett Show.

This titan of the industry turned out to be this little, insecure, Jewish guy.

(Well now I’m outraged. Now you’re an anti-Semite.)

(What did I say? He was little. He was insecure. He was Jewish.)

(Yeah. But I know where you’re going.)

We had some bull sessions in this class. Those were the things I liked most. During these I expressed my admiration for Lenny Bruce (see In Memory of Lennie Bruce in the Feb. archive) and for the movie Young Frankenstein among other things. Whenever I mentioned an enterprise that had involved Jews this instructor at UCLA would seem to inflate. I perceived him to grow inches taller. But a mention of a non-Jewish entertainer or enterprise would bring him back to his normal size.

(You were probably sticking pins into him.)

(Then who was blowing him up?)

(So what does this have to do with Catch 22?)

Then the discussion got around to novels. I had to say that Catch 22 was “The Great American Novel.” I called it a literary masterpiece. I said that Mark Twain was the pioneer and he had paved the way for the ultimate novel which was Catch 22.

It was only then, when I saw our little Jewish instructor inflate to King Kong proportions, that I surmised that the author of Catch 22, Joseph Heller, was a Jew.

Heller was inspired while writing this book. Athletes call it being “in the zone.” He caught a shooting star. For some people it comes and goes. For some it only happens once. Since it took Heller 16 years to finish the book, you can’t say he only was inspired briefly. But he put everything he had into this one book. Everything he had. And it’s all there between the covers.

(That’s it? You call that a revue?)

This thing is too long now. I will say one thing more. Some movements have tried to claim this book as their own, saying it expresses one thing or another.

I point out that Yossarian, the protagonist, had completed all the combat missions that were originally required. He only wanted to stay alive.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Come on in. Lie down on my couch there. I’m gonna explain a few things here.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t explain them before.

Well, the answer is simple: I didn’t understand them before.

And then the article about Louis Freeh’s book came out on Drudge. (Read the article here.)

Remember in the movie, Apocalypse Now, when Brando’s character describes the sudden flash of light in his mind when he discovered the VC had cut off the arms of the children he had vaccinated?

Okay! It drove him insane. Bad analogy.

But except for that… (Except for that? You clown! How can you say, except for that?) (This is my blog. I can say what I want.)

Anyway, the Louie Freeh stuff gave me a flash of insight.

(It didn’t drive you insane?) (No, it didn’t drive me insane. Maybe I should start over.) (No way. Let’s see how deep you can dig this hole.)

I was thinking, even before all this, and this was my biggest problem with President Clinton, that he was a security risk. I would hope that someone with his history and weaknesses could not gain high level security clearance at any government agency.

Blackmail is by far, by a country mile, the most common way of gaining access to a country’s vital secrets.

Some might argue that money is the more common way. That may be true in the first instance, but money is just the hook. Just as sex is just the hook. After someone receives the money or gets the sex, the threat of exposure keeps them in line. That is blackmail, my friend. Who can deny that President Clinton may have been vulnerable to blackmail?

In the history of the United States, what president would have been a bigger security risk than Bill Clinton?

I wish I could live another hundred years or so just to see how history will judge him.

(This is all bullcrap. History will love him. But what does this have to do with Bush?)

(I was getting to that.)

Remember when Clinton was at his lowest ebb, when he was involved in scandal after scandal?

(Now you got me confused. You mean before he was elected, or during his first term, or the first part of his second term, or the second part of his second term or in the last days of his presidency?)


I honestly thought that Clinton’s only problem was that he was a sex addict. But then I read in the article on Freeh that he took donations (small donations in the realm of world politics) in return for calling off investigations into deadly attacks on American nationals.

When he reached these low ebbs, his defenders would dig into the history of other presidents and say, “See, these guys were just as bad.” That was their defense.

(Oh yeah. Wasn’t Jefferson screwing a slave or something like that? I remember that. But so what?)

Let me put this in order:
1. The Freeh piece is not the first and by far not the last to come out on the Clinton years. I doubt if flattering pieces will see the light of day unless the publisher is willing to take a financial hit. Look for explosive exposes.
2. All in the inner circle, the outer circle, and most in the outer, outer circle were aware of the problems but went on to defend him never-you-mind.
3. It has resulted in tremendous guilt on the part of his defenders, a loss of self esteem and a feeling that they have betrayed their country by having defended him.
4. This, in turn, has resulted in a lashing out at Clinton’s successor in the presidency. The hatred that they heap on him is really hatred that they feel towards themselves for having defended a man of questionable integrity, to say the least.

And that is why President Bush is so hated by the left.

(That’s all BS and you know it.)

(Our hour is up. Check with the receptionist for your next appointment.)

(I’m never coming back.)

(That’s what you always say. We’ll discuss that next time.)

Friday, October 21, 2005


I drove the highways and back roads a lot during my seven years in Viet Nam. Probably much more than I should have. I drove by thousands of mud wall/thatch roof huts.

Outside many of these one-room hovels were brick and mortar edifices. These had been built in tribute to and in memory of a dead ancestor.

It always struck me how much the housing for the dead was so much better than the housing for the living. It seemed a huge waste of assets.

Such a waste is not limited to any particular culture.

When I was a young boy, my parents sent me to visit relatives in Northern California during summer vacation. It was a large family I visited. They had 7 or 8 kids of their own but it was a big house.

The father of this brood was a half Indian. (What does that have to do with the story?) (Nothing. That’s just to piss you off.)

Sometimes in the middle of the night, he would come home roaring drunk. (See, that’s why you had to point out he was half Indian.) (Not at all. What are you, a racist? Some of my best friends would come home roaring drunk in the middle of the night, and they’re not Indians.)
As a little kid, that terrified me. I’d hide under the covers.

Years later, as a young adult, I’d visit them occasionally. Just to show you how poor my family was, I was the “Rich Relative.” Now tell me that’s not sad. (You’re right, that’s sad.) They considered me rich because I always had a job that paid real money. They’d point me out to the small children. “See that feller over thar? He’s not on welfare!” And they’d stare at me with their mouths open like I was from another planet.

My uncle, the drunken Indian, (See, there you go again.) would always seem to be ill when I visited. I thought he was feigning it for my benefit because he was so embarrassed about how he’d behaved in my youth. (Why does it always have to be about you? The guy can’t be sick without it being about you?) (For once you’re right.) Then he died. (See! I’m doing my “I told you so” dance.) (Asshole!)

So the whole family went into their fake mourning. By that time there were married children so in-laws had to be sucked in. It was a disaster. Guilt was rampant. I think everyone in the immediate and extended family went into debt just to prove how much they loved this universally hated a-hole.

They may be paying off the debt to this day.

What a waste of assets.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


ty·rant ( P ) 1. An absolute ruler who governs without restrictions.
2. A ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner.
3. An oppressive, harsh, arbitrary person.

Harry Belafonte is an American icon.

Anyone who has followed his career knows that he was a sensitive, intelligent performer, immensely talented with enormous stage presence.

What the hell are they doing to him?

It all reminds me of the declining stage of another American icon’s life. That was Judy Garland. She had hangers on all around her, but they let her appear in public with lipstick smeared all over her face and her clothing in disarray. She deserved better than that.

Harry Belafonte deserves better than what his hangers on are letting him do now.

Now, in his decline, his entourage is allowing him to be shown in the worst possible light. It totally depresses me. It is Judy Garland all over again.

No matter what your politics, you have to give credit to the people handling Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston for getting them out of the spotlight when reduced capacity came on.

But Harry, our beloved Harry, they allow to go in front of a microphone when his diminishing intellect is obvious to all.

That is reprehensible.

I believe it is worse than simple carelessness. I believe some people are using a man who is not in control of his own thoughts.

Belafonte obviously has mental problems. Here is some, not all, the evidence (my comments in parenthesis). No educated person in their right minds would say these things.

1. He compared the current American administration to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

2. He referred to prominent African-American officials in the Bush administration as “black tyrants.” (Definition of “tyrant” above.)

3. He said, "Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Color does not necessarily denote quality, content or value,” (In this three step analogy I suppose then the blacks in America today are analogous to the Jews in Hitler’s Germany. Of course there were no Jew higher-ups in Hitler’s Germany. The well educated Belafonte of old knew that. Someone put that thought in his head as if he were retarded.)

4. When a white reporter asked him specifically who was a "black tyrant" in the Bush administration, Belafonte became confused and replied, “You.” (As I said, the Harry Belafonte of old had enormous stage presence. In some of his concerts there was give and take with the audience. To read that he was nonplussed by a single question from a reporter saddens me. At this stage of his life, he probably couldn’t spell “tyrant” let alone define it.)

5. And then he said this: "There's an old saying In the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and there were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master ... exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him." (Of course he was referring to Colin Powell, one of the most respected men in the world. Black writers quickly explained that Belafonte was calling Powell a “house n****r.” They spelled it out.)

I could go on, but that’s enough. All of this totally demeans Belafonte.

That is the equivalent of lipstick all over his face.

Come on you people!

He deserves better.

He’s obviously not in full control of his faculties. Walk him off the stage with dignity.

We love you, Harry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Today Transparency International issued their annual corruption ratings.

Big surprise: Some of the poorest nations in the world were the most corrupt. Bangladesh, Haiti, Nigeria, Chad, and Myanmar were at the top (or bottom) of that list.

I have lived in some relatively corrupt countries and visited some others. (I should point out that Thailand, my current residence, got an above average grade.) I have witnessed the thing (corruption) and thought about causes and cures.

When a country is corrupt, it occurs from top to bottom. What the visitor is most likely to witness is corruption in the police force because they are the most visible.

There is almost always a good reason for the police to be corrupt. They are not paid enough to support their families. They must steal to feed their children. This is known and expected up and down their organization. It is expected and condoned.

But that is just the most visible organization. The same problem occurs throughout the entire civil service. Low pay makes bribery necessary to exist.

Then it becomes habitual. Even rich civil servants have to be paid on the side because that is how the system works. They don’t know another way.

The obvious answer is to increase salaries of civil servants. These countries are so poor that is impossible. They don’t have the money to increase the salaries.

Why don’t they have the money? Because virtually no one pays their taxes. Why not? Because the tax rates are so high as to be confiscatory (meaning they take everything) so everyone has to cheat.

It all seems to add up to a giant Catch22.

There is only one way out and it has to begin with tax laws and the enforcement of same. They need to pass a reasonable tax rate and make severe penalties for non-compliance.

They need to increase the salaries of tax collectors so that bribery is not necessary to exist. There must be severe penalties for bribery among tax collectors.

You can see that would be a beginning. Start with the tax laws and the tax collectors.

Nothing would work overnight.

But the worst thing we can do and have done is to throw free money at them because they are poor.

Nothing corrupts more than free money.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Dave, my hippie friend in the 70s, acquired a dog, a female dog. (You can read about him in All the Great Songs in the June archive.)


This guy was a sociopath. That’s not an accusation, that’s a description.

Everybody has to be something, and that’s what he was. Don’t get me wrong. He was fun to be with, which is why he was my friend. Many, many sociopaths are fun to be with.

So what’s wrong with his having a dog?

A dog gives love but requires care and looking after. Dave required care and looking after. Is there something missing in that equation?

So I asked him, “What the hell do you want a dog for?”

He told me tearfully, “That dog loves me.”

“Why,” I asked, though I knew the answer.

He, although, was stumped. “She just does,” he replied.

“So the dog loves you because you’re there. If someone else was there, the dog would love someone else. What you’re getting is unearned love.”

“No,” he said, defensively without elaborating.

So I started my lecture.

How many times had I lectured this guy without a thing getting across? But it was good for me. It clarified things in my head. Verbalizing things helped to explain them to me.

“A dog,” I explained, “has two products: Unearned love and shit. Even though you don’t earn the first, you definitely earn the second. Do you see that? Is that going to be a fair tradeoff? You’re going to get unearned love and lots and lots of shit.”

“Come on, look at her,” he responded. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

There was no talking to him.

That first day he left the dumb dog with me while he had to go off and do something ‘important.’ The dog (surprise) crapped in my bathroom. Thankfully, it was on tile not carpet

I hollered at Dave when he got back.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “She’s got a problem. She’s been doing that a lot. I’ve been taking her to a vet.” Then a thought occurred to him. “Was it runny? Did you save some? The vet wants a sample.”

Now that’s a sociopath. His dog craps in my house and he hopes I saved a sample for his vet. How else could he use that to his advantage?

Of course the dog was not long for this world. She was hit in traffic. Dave mourned for a week, which was much longer than he’d mourn for a woman he’d dumped. In that week he explained to me countless times how the accident wasn’t his fault.

Then he vowed to get another dog.

I did my best to dissuade him for the sake of all dogdom.

I may have been successful.

He never had another dog while I knew him.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I’ve had an interesting relationship with the Bangkok English language papers.

Journalist ethics? That’s funny.

I believe they write their own “letters to the editor” to support their own editorial positions. Come on, that’s funny!

They take their lead from The New York Times, which means they are anti-American. They publish Paul Krugman religiously. They believe he is the second coming, if there is such a thing in the Buddhist religion. But they never follow up and publish the retractions of his lies that so embarrass the Times.

Today The Times published an editorial about the upcoming elections in Iraq that was filled with all the negatives they could think up.

Today The Bangkok Post published an editorial on the same subject. It was well thought out, balanced and right on the money. Read it here.

I was impressed and pleased so I sent them a complimentary email. Because they had heard criticism from me in the past, they don’t like to receive my mail.

That caused the following follow-up (this is to the editor):


I’m sure you know that your newspaper not only will not print opposing opinions but will reject all emails that might contain them.

Do you see some irony in this?

Probably not.

Let me explain.

You will stage demonstrations to support your right to free speech but will not even accept an opposing view.

That, you see, is ironic.

Do you see it?

Probably not.

This, in case you were wondering, is sarcasm.

Please make a note.

The following is an email that I sent today and the reason for the failed delivery:


Reporting-MTA: dns;

Received-From-MTA: DNS;

Arrival-Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 18:48:30 -0700

Final-Recipient: RFC822;

Action: failed
Status: 5.0.0
Remote-MTA: DNS;
Diagnostic-Code: SMTP; 554 : Helo command
rejected: Access-Denied-HOST.SSR-015
Last-Attempt-Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 18:51:41 -0700
Forwarded Message [ Download File Save to Yahoo! Briefcase ]
Fri, 14 Oct 2005 02:48:26 +0100 (BST)
"doa guest"



HTML Attachment [ Download File Save to Yahoo! Briefcase ]



Your editorial today, Iraq paints the country purple, was well thought out, balanced, and right on the money.

Way to go.

Walter Guest


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


The following is from Yahoo News:

Dodgers fire manager Jim Tracy

Tue Oct 4, 7:45 AM ET

Jim Tracy, 49, who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for the past five seasons, will not return for his final season, general manager Paul DePodesta announced.

"We felt strongly it was time for a change," DePodesta said.

The club posted a 427-383 record under Tracy, but struggled through an injury-plagued campaign in 2005. Prior to

Excuse me while I do my “I told you so” dance.

Is there any doubt that the firing of Tracy was caused by the blunder in spring training?

The item below was in my blog on April 9.


by Fanball Staff - Fanball.comTuesday, March 22, 2005NewsEric Gagne's spring debut was not as encouraging as fantasy owners hoped it would be. The Dodgers' All-Star closer faced four batters, throwing about 22 pitches, in the sixth inning of Monday's game against the Red Sox, but noticeably favored his left leg.

Gagne sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on February 24 during field drills. "I tried to protect it and not put too much weight on it," Gagne told the Associated Press after Monday's outing. "It feels pretty good right now. I knew it wouldn't feel good (during the game)."

Pitching coach Jim Colborn noted that Gagne's mechanics were off because he was favoring the knee so much.

Mar 23 On Monday, Gagne showed obvious discomfort in his left knee, which he sprained on Feb. 24. The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner did not limp or hop at the end of his delivery in his second outing.

Gagne said he scaled back his effort to about 75 percent and did not push off his back foot as much as he did Monday.``I treated it like a bullpen (session),'' he said. ``Last time, I tried my regular mechanics and I wasn't ready to do that yet. I don't care about results too much. I'm trying to find my comfort zone where I can land and not have the knee bite.''Gagne said there is no question he will be ready for the season opener April 5 in San Francisco.

April 2, 2005ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) - The good news for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that Eric Gagne's knee feels fine. The bad news is that the righthander's elbow does not.The Dodgers placed Gagne on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow Friday, one day after the closer experienced a strange feeling during an appearance against the New York Mets.

The mystery is what the hell could they have been thinking of? They let him pitch with bad wheels? Has nobody ever heard of Dizzy Dean?

UPDATE: This on June 21, 2005:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dodgers closer Eric Gagne will have season-ending surgery to fix a sprained ligament in his right elbow.The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner had a second MRI exam Tuesday and doctors concluded he needs Tommy John surgery. The All-Star reliever has a second-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament and was recently placed on the 15-day disabled list. His operation was scheduled for Friday."We're probably looking at about a year, maybe by the All-Star break next year he'll be back," manager Jim Tracy said.

Monday, October 10, 2005


That piece about Bill Bennett got me to thinking about my experiences with gambling and wondering why I had so much contempt for him. In my eyes, he’s a dumb, immoral guy who is pretending to be better than me. Better? Yes. You don’t lecture on morality unless you think you’re better than the lecturee. Isn’t that a given?

Dumb? Damned right he’s dumb.

In one of my many incarnations, I lived in Las Vegas for several years. During that time I made a study of gambling. Let me ‘splain how dumb Bill Bennett is. Slot machines are programmed so the house wins. (Duh) Is there a word in that sentence you don’t understand? The more you play, the less chance you have of winning. That is what odds and percentages do to you. (Duh, again.)

This gentleman got the host casino to bring a slot machine into his suite! (Triple duh.) (And of course he had a suite for free. How often do you find a sucker like that?)

How dumb can you get? After he lost a couple of hundred thousand in the slot, didn’t he detect a pattern? Did he think that by playing more, the odds would turn in his favor? (We are now beyond duh.)

His only defense/excuse would be that he became addicted.

So whom would you trust, an addict or a dummy?

There is one way, only one, to beat the slots. In downtown Las Vegas pick a slot near an open door with lots of pedestrian traffic outside. The casinos let these slots win so passerbys can hear them pay off and be attracted.

But these won’t be big money slots. They’ll be very noisy quarter machines.

Why did I choose to live in Vegas?

Because I was going through one of my many lows in fiduciary experiences and Las Vegas was a very inexpensive place to live.

While I was there, people like Bill Bennett, unbeknownst to them, partially supported me. It was their money, flowing into the system, that kept the cost of living so reasonable,

Countless times, while standing in line at one of the many buffets, a “VIP” was ushered to the front and given immediate seating. Was I offended? Hell no! It was that clown, the Bill Bennett heavy loser type, who was paying for the greater part of my dinner. Given the opportunity, I would have thanked him personally.

Las Vegas is a convention city. They had a huge convention of computer nerds while I was there. The Convention Center was jammed to overflowing with new computer products.

During that week the hotel and restaurant business was exceptional. But the gambling take was the lowest of the year. Guess why? The nerds were too smart to gamble.

There is a way to beat the casinos. A lady wrote a book about it. She did a combination of late night bingo games, slot tournaments, coupon collecting and so on. She cleared about $5,000 dollars a year. That’s an average of $15 a day. There you go. The casinos can be beat.

At the other end of the spectrum, the worst bet will be a slot in a just opened billion dollar casino. They have a big nut to pay off.

I came out a winner in my years there, talking only about gambling. The main reason was I seldom gambled. Anyone looking at my bio can see that I’m a lifetime gambler. But never when I believed the odds were against me.

I once bought $20 dollars in quarters and played a blackjack slot just to see how long it would last if I made every bet correctly. It lasted 8 hours over two days. A friend remarked that I got a lot of fun for my money. I didn’t think it was fun.

I analyzed the casino statistics to see which area paid off the best for the bettor. It was the Sports Book. And the best pay off in the sports book was the baseball games.

I charted all the odds for the baseball games and found a bet that paid off pretty good. I made that bet for rest of the season and won rather consistently. At the end of the season I was nearly a hundred dollars ahead. I never had enough confidence to make a big bet on it. But that was fun.

That’s my experience of gambling in Las Vegas.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I was delighted he got nailed by all this.

If you haven’t heard, this is what he said on his radio show:

"I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."
Conservatives have jumped to his defense. Here is what Jonah Goldberg writes:

Bennett was sincere when he said that aborting all black babies simply to lower the crime rate would be "ridiculous, and morally reprehensible." He could have just as easily said to the caller: "Hey, look, we could save a lot of money on skyrocketing education costs if only we aborted the mentally impaired and learning disabled. But you know what? Ends cannot justify the means of murdering the unborn." It would be silly to waste a lot of time trying to rebut him by saying, "Well, actually you wouldn't save that much money."

The former philosophy professor picked a hypothetical that he thought would make the horror of such utilitarianism obvious to everybody. Murder a whole generation just to lower the crime rate? Disgusting!

Bennett's real mistake was in thinking people would be mature enough to get it.

I have immense respect for Goldberg, but he misses the point by a country mile. Bennett’s real mistake was in saying such a stupid thing.

Conservatives are making a huge mistake in trying to defend the indefensible. Bennett is an embarrassment and will always be an embarrassment.

He is one of those addictive personalities who are looked to for leadership.

What a joke.

He wrote a guide for morality while gambling away vast sums on money.

He is a proponent of censuring the airwaves. What a hypocrite.

Now he gets his comeuppance.

This is an American tradition.

Like Al Capone.

They couldn’t get him for murder so they got him for tax evasion.

Now this distinguished gentleman gets the reputation as a racist.

I don’t really care if he is or not.

He was guilty of trying to stick his nose into programming.

It’s the American way.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Robert J. Birgeneau has recently become the Chancellor at UC Berkeley. He is launching a crusade to correct the under-representation of certain groups of students at the school. Read about it here.

Among the groups under-represented by percentages of population are: Blacks, Hispanics, Native American and whites.

The groups over-represented are: Asian-American and women.

So what is his plan?

Does he want to reduce the number of Asian and female students to increase the number of blacks, Hispanics, Native American and whites?

Ha, ha, ha!

No. He is just another emotional liberal who hasn’t really thought through what he is saying. Because what he is saying is, “We have too many women and Asians here.”

He saw the gross under-representation of blacks in particular and struck out at “The Man,” here represented by women and Asians, unbeknownst to him.

Wouldn’t it be great if an educator looked at a problem such at that and asked himself, “Why are these people over-represented? What are they doing right that these other people are doing wrong?”

Why do they never do that?

And why can’t they see that being so racial conscience makes them a racist?

“But,” they will argue, “we only want to ‘do good.’”

Right. Protect me from these people who only want to ‘do good.’

I’ve come up against racial prejudice a lot in my adult life from all sides. Some against me personally, even though I couldn’t be more white. My father was from Birmingham , England, and my mother from Texas, USA.

But I brought this kid home from Viet Nam.

What happened? How did I wind up with him?

In Asia, they have this thing about extended families. It is common for kids to be raised by near relatives. That’s great when you are the recipient. (Right now we have three kids with us and more come and go.) But my Vietnamese girl friend, my son’s mother, wanted to shunt my son off to her relatives.

No way.

The choice for me wasn’t even close. The kid or the lady?

So the lady was gone and the kid stayed.

It took me three and a half years of battling the State Dept. to get him out of that country but that’s another story. A big story, actually, because that had never been done before and the law was changed afterward.

We arrived in the US on my son’s 4th birthday. That was 1970. Single fathers were common, but very few with custody of the kid.

I think it raised hackles on some women.

“Where’s the mother?” they’d ask, sometimes accusingly.

A single mother was almost never asked, “Where’s the father,” and certainly never accusingly.

Sometimes, if they pissed me off, I would answer, “I killed her.”

For some reason, they never thought that was funny.

Our first confrontation with do-gooder racists happened on my son’s first day of kindergarten. It was with his teacher.

She was thrilled with the “diversity” she found in her class. So she went around the room and pointed out the ethnic differences. When she got around to my son, she informed the class that he was Chinese.

Well that was more than a surprise to my son. It was a shock! He had no idea he was Chinese.

I guess that was my fault. I had forgotten to explain to him that he had certain Asian features that might be mistaken for Chinese.

Anyway, he had no idea that he would be singled out as being so different from his classmates. His greatest wish was to be accepted by everyone as an equal.

He burst into tears.

That was not a small thing. Up to that time I had only seen him cry once.

He never cried when I took him to the doctor and he was given shots.

He never cried when I had to leave him to go to other Vietnamese provinces on assignment.

He didn’t cry when he fell against a curb and knocked out his two front teeth.

The only time I heard him cry was when a kid in the next apartment, with kinda’ thin walls in between, started crying rather loudly.

My kid started a sympathy cry.

That was it. The only time I had heard him cry.

But there, in his first day in kindergarten, a teacher who meant well, whose only motive was to “do good,” had made him cry.

A few years later I visited his classroom on Parents Day. On a large map strings were stretched out from our location to the place of each child’s heritage.

My kid’s string went to Viet Nam.

Where was I in that equation? Why shouldn’t my half of the heritage be represented? Why should it be a given that a kid who is half Asian is Asian?

Even far more profound in our culture, why is it a given that a kid who is half black, is black? Or even a quarter black person is considered black?

I can’t answer that but I know one thing for sure:

It is the people who continually point out the racial differences who do the most to promulgate racial differences.

I know they mean well but they seem to be incapable of seeing reality.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Some time ago I wrote that I would do some articles on the Bangkok sex trade.

The delay has mostly been to a lack of personal knowledge. I know it’s there and all around but I don’t go there. I live with a very nice lady and have no need of other very nice ladies.

But I’ll see what I can learn just by nosing around.

For instance, I dragged Dow, The Jungle Princess, to a sex show. I felt I owed it to my readers. All three of you.

“Sex Show” is somewhat of a misnomer. They should call it, “Get turned off sex for life show.”

The “Sex Shows” are limited to one lane, or alley (called soi), in downtown Bangkok. There are many, 8 to 12, perhaps more.

Also in this alley are many bars with dancing girls, not naked but nearly so. Out in the street is an extensive flea market.

Does this sound like a tourist trap?


There are three walking lanes in the alley. In the center, you walk through booths selling everything but groceries, cars and large home appliances. Perhaps they were selling groceries.
I forget.

On the sidewalk there are more booths on one side and the bars on the other. The doors of the bars are kept wide open so you can see the girls dancing in their underwear and hear the raucous music and “fun” going on inside.

Every bar advertises no cover charge and a “happy hour” that brings drinks down to $2.

Also on the sidewalk are these shills that go up to every touristy type and present them with a card that is a “menu” for the sex shows. The menu is not for you to keep. Evidently they can only afford one. I would have loved to have kept one to reproduce here. Maybe I’ll go back and steal one for you. Anything for my three readers. That would be good reporting.

I digress.

The shill presented us with this menu card.

The deal was: Free look. You stay, there’s a cover charge.

I said, “OK. Let’s go.”

We started to follow the shill.

All the sex shows, it turns out, are upstairs in this alley.

A guy stopped us at the bottom of the stairs while the shill ran up.

What the hell?

After a few seconds he let us go, so we followed the seedy looking guy up the stairs.

When we entered the upper floor, I saw we were the only ones there. The music was blasting away. There were four totally nude ladies moving on a center stage in time to the music. Some might say they were dancing.

I realized the shill had gone ahead to warn all that the suckers were coming and to start moving around.

It reminded me of that old joke:

“When does the show start?”

“When can you get here?”

As soon As we sat down we were charged a $15 cover which included a beer for me and a soft drink for Dow.

In part one of this “sex” show, a naked lady started extracting needles from her you-know-what. They were all tied together on a thread. She tied one end of the thread to a pole and pulled the needles out as she backed away. The thread was 15 or 20 feet long with needles every 4 inches.

When she reached the end I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to applaud.

I decided not to.

She walked offstage and came over to us, still totally nude, holding a small empty basket.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“My show,” she said. “You pay.”

“Oh, okay.” Caught off guard, I put 100 baht (about $2.50) in the basket. That was way too much I later learned.

Part two of this sex show consisted of two of the naked ladies lying on their backs, putting their rear ends up in the air, and tooting on little horns that they had inserted into their you-know-whats.

I must have stared at that like a deer caught in the headlights.

Dow looked over and laughed at my open-mouthed expression.

That went of for a while, and when they were finally finished, one of the horn ladies came over to us with that little basket.

I’m too much of a soft touch to stiff them, so I deposited another 100 baht.

I wondered what came next. Then I saw another of the naked ladies stuffing another bundle of the needles up her hey-nonny-nonny.

That was it for me.

I grabbed dow’s arm and we got the hell out of there.

There you have it.

That was a Bangkok sex show.

If you’re ever out this way. Don’t miss it.

(In my mind, I can hear someone say, “Wow! They toot horns out of their crotches while lying on their back with their butts in the air? What a turn-on!” But that’s my mind and I have little control over it.)