Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The rumor that Steve Irwin, THE CROCODILE HUNTER, had killed a cameraman and fed him to the crocodiles has proven to be false. The supposed incident was said to have occurred because the cameraman shot ten seconds of film without Mr. Irwin in the frame.

“That’s all nonsense,” Mr. Irwin asserted loudly in his charming Aussie accent. “No harm has come to him. Cracky, he’s all right, mate.”

When asked where the cameraman was, Mr. Irwin replied vaguely, “He’ll be along directly.” Mr. Irwin went on to say that the ten seconds he was missing from the screen wasn’t important to him but he got thousands of emails from fans who thought he might be ill.

Mr. Irwin also said that it was not unusual for him to out of the frame. “It happens a lot.”

When asked if he could recall the last time that happened he replied, “Last season some time. Twice, I think.”

When asked if the same cameraman shot those scenes, Mr. Irwin replied,

“Cameramen come and go. Some just disappear, and there’s no accounting for them.”

At that, a female reporter became agitated and demanded to see the current cameraman.

The cameraman came out of a shack to the right, escorted by two of Mr. Irwin’s assistants. He looked pale and a little shaky but otherwise okay. Mr. Irwin stood alongside him while he made a statement. While he spoke, he glanced frequently at Mr. Irwin.

“I am well,” he said, “and unharmed. No one hit me in places where the bruises wouldn’t show and my family has not been threatened even though they know where they live. Thank you.”

With that, the cameraman was escorted away by the same two men.

So there you have it. The rumors are completely false. No harm has come to the cameraman.

In a related story, there’s a rumor that Steve Irwin’s Aussie accent is false. A man claims he woke him up in the middle of the night and Irwin spoke just as good English as you or me.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Years ago I tried to defend to potential publishers my observation that the main religion of the Vietnamese was a combination of beliefs in wood spirits and animalism. The potential publishers looked at statistics on the subject and rejected my views.

“No,” they said. “See here? It’s Buddhism and Catholicism. It’s written right there.”

Whoever compiled those statistics had never lived among the people. The people might say one thing but what they believed was something else.

Now there are Vietnamese scholars publishing papers saying exactly what I was saying years ago.

Today I will say that much of the world’s attitude toward terror depends on day-to-day emotions. There are always arguments to support any position, but it is emotions that rule.

The bombing of the wedding in Jordan carried out by a man and wife team has turned out to be disastrous for al Qaeda world-wide.

Today The Bangkok Post has an editorial titled: Time to stand against terror. You can read it *here*. (This may not be up for long or available to all. I don’t understand their rules of access or duration.)

Up till now the paper has been firmly in the terrorist camp. At least they have been an apologist for the terrorists. They have loved to print anti-American diatribes written by Arabs.

The switch, of course, is entirely emotional. A week from now, depending on the news of the day, they may feel entirely different. That feeling might require another editorial with a different point of view.

But, for now, they are firmly against terror.


There’s a Thai entertainment troupe called the LADY BOYZ. It is made up of transvestites and transsexuals. They are currently performing a cabaret show in Hong Kong.

Here is some of the report from The Bangkok Post:

“(The troupe) is playing to packed audiences of up to 3,000 mainland tourists a day – the very market targeted by the new Disneyland.

“All five daily shows at the 700-seat venue featuring the Golden Globe Cabaret are selling out with some offering standing room only, despite no local advertising.

“Much of the audience is mainland Chinese tourists who are being offered the show in short-break packages to Hong Kong at a price of $160-$200 per ticket”

I don’t know what a short-break package is but I assume the show is only part of a package. Still, that’s pretty impressive. 3,000 a day!

The new Disneyland has a capacity of 30,000 a day. According to their own figures, they averaged only 10,000 a day for their first 100 days.

Maybe if they put a dress on Mickey?

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Yeah, that’s right, I saw a UFO. (Did they probe you?)

No. I wasn’t abducted by aliens. I only saw a UFO. (I think they probed you.)

This happened in Can Tho. That’s the largest town on the Mekong Delta.

It was late in 1963. I was staying in the largest hotel in town. It may have had a dozen rooms. My room was on the third floor which was the top floor. It faced the street and the river beyond.

We had a large room and bath but there was no air conditioning, just an overhead fan.

The windows had no glass or screens, just vertical bars about 4 inches apart. We had a mosquito net on the bed to keep those things at bay. (Household tip: Spray the net before getting in so you don’t trap them inside with you.)

A colony of bats had taken up residence under the eaves of our hotel and some surrounding buildings. During the day they could be seen, hanging upside down, wherever it was convenient for them.

Some bats came into our room in search of food while we slept. They once tried to take a loaf of bread, wrapped in plastic, out of the room. The bars on the window blocked them. I could hear the bread fall to the floor several times. They finally gave up.

It was from this room and from that window that I saw the UFO.

A friend and I were having drinks after work when we heard some shooting. We went to the window. It was dark out except for the lights of the town. There were explosions and a lot of small arms fire just across the river near one of those lookout platforms. It looked like a fireworks display.

Then from the center of the town, this strange aircraft appeared. We saw it clearly by the lights of the town. It seemed to be rising from the ground. We could see no means of propulsion. It just rose slowly and flew off as a leisurely rate. It took no part in the fire fight across the river.

It was the strangest aircraft I had ever seen. It wasn’t shaped anything like an aircraft. It looked like a platform with two inch pipes on the deck, perhaps like a railing. It’s vague in my mind.

My friend and I never discussed it, then or ever.

I never mentioned it to anyone.

It remained a mystery.

Many years later I saw pictures of American experimental aircraft on TV. There was a brief shot of that strange flying platform. It was the same as the aircraft I had seen in Can Tho in 1963.

Mystery solved.

(Two inch pipes huh? I bet that was painful.)

Friday, November 25, 2005


Yeah, me, I turned 75.

That screwed up everything. My plans, my dreams, they’re up in smoke.

All my life, I planned to live to 65. I scheduled everything with that in mind.

When I started working overseas, I calculated that I was exchanging life expectancy for adventure. After all, it’s a lot less healthy in most undeveloped countries. Isn’t it? That’s what I’ve always heard. I thought it was a fair exchange. There is always a price to be paid to escape boredom.

But then when I turned 65, I wasn’t dead.

I truly was confused. I complained to my cousin, who is exactly my age, “I can still do a hundred yard dash. What’s going on? That can’t be right.”

Worse than that, I still lusted after women.

I said to my daughter-in-law, “I’ve looked into retirement homes but they don’t look right to me. The time is right but the feel is all wrong.”

What the hell do you do when you plan to die at 65 but you’re still alive?

It’s a real problem.

Now I’ve turned 75.

Research for my blog has forced me go to into some bars here in Bangkok. I enjoy playing the “How old am I?” game with the girls. I have to pull out my California drivers license for proof after they guess wrong. I ought to bet them drinks.

I enjoy dancing with them, (also research).

I still enjoy singing when I’m in voice, which is only about half the time.

I have planned what I’m going to do tomorrow.

I quit making plans beyond that.


I saw THE WEST WING for the first time yesterday. Rather, I saw a portion of the show. I couldn’t watch the whole thing.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or be alarmed. Hollywood has this make-believe president of the United States winning battles against evil Republicans who are the implacable enemy of the people.

My first reaction was to laugh. On one level it was hilarious.

But then I became alarmed. These people, the people behind the show, are serious. It occurred to me that they might be insane. They lose an election in the real world and then they pretend they won the election in their make-believe world.

On the other hand, it might be great therapy. Having their own pretend president might be the only way they can cope with the real world. They can imagine, for a magical hour, that they have their own president and all is right in their universe. This might be immensely soothing for them. It might be the only thing that keeps them going.

It is interesting that after they lost the last election, they immediately launched another show with another make-believe liberal president, this one a woman.

Are we to conclude that every time the liberals lose a presidential election in the real world, they will win in their pretend world. Will they have a new liberal president on television for every lost national election?

Would there be an audience for such programming?

Of course there would.

Whenever audience share comes up I think of a passage in one of Bill James’, the baseball guru, early books.

A prospective publisher didn’t think there would be a market for James’ works. The publisher said that the subject would interest only one percent of the public.

James pointed out that one percent of the public was more than two million people.

There will be twenty or thirty million people in need of therapy every time the liberals lose an election. That should be enough to support dozens of their pretend presidents.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


This is one that has stuck in my mind for years.

I read about this lady who, once a year, would look through her closet. Any clothes she hadn’t worn in that year she’d throw out.


That concept is so foreign to me that just thinking about it makes me dizzy.

I bought a topcoat in 1952. I seldom wore it but everyone needs a topcoat. That was my topcoat. No closet should be without one. My brother kept it for me while I was overseas.

When I moved to Bangkok, I no longer needed a topcoat. I gave it to Goodwill. I had kept it for 52 years.

Some years ago when the postage rate was raised by two cents I happened to listen to an interview of the head postmaster of a large eastern city.

He was asked, in a somewhat jocular vein, if he had a large supply of two cent stamps on hand.

No, he said, he hadn’t thought of that. There was no follow-up question.

I once did volunteer work in the local library. (That is a great way to meet the women that you would never meet in a bar.)

Everything had become computerized. What a great tool for a library. Especially for a library.

They could see in an instant which books were popular and which weren’t.

So I asked them, “Do you check what books are never taken out and get rid of them?”

No, they said, they hadn’t thought of that. There was no follow-up question.

Here is the library of the future:

It will start out with absolutely no books.

All the books will be on the computer.

People can browse on a computer.

The shelves will be filled with dust jackets of books available. That is for people like me, who just like to browse up and down the aisles.

When a book is requested, it is printed out.

When a book is returned, it is put on the shelf.

The library thus becomes filled with books that people have requested.

This is a concept so simple and perfect that it will never be done.

(Don’t bug me about binding. I hate to micromanage.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005


What I wanted to get to was the USIA. (United States Information Agency.)

I started off both those last two posts intending to write about them but I got too longwinded and off on tangents.

The USIA gets a budget every year as do all government agencies.

What they don’t spend goes back into the general fund and their budget is decreased by that amount the next year. Therefore, the primary goal of the USIA is to spend their budget.

No matter what their mission statement might say, money rules. A decrease in the budget will mean downsizing. The job you save might be your own.

I realized that when I was in Saigon during the late unpleasantness. The USIA had built a monumental edifice. (Okay, that’s redundant. So sue me.) It was called a library and was meant to improve the opinion of the Vietnamese people about America.

Lots of luck.

How could they be so stupid?

Who the hell would ever go into such an imposing building? The cyclo drivers and farmers whose support we needed? Or the college professors whose minds were already made up?

I’ll give you a clue: Except for the janitors, no one wearing sandals was ever seen inside that white elephant.

Can you say, “Waste of money?”

But I don’t like to criticize without offering a solution.

An obvious one is not to penalize an agency for saving money.

Here is another one: Comic books.

Huge American libraries overseas are a joke. They do not get to the target audience.

The target audience is the people on the street. The great mass of people who would never go into an imposing library in a lifetime.

Comic books are the solution. Only totally inept comic books would not succeed on some level in delivering a message.

Intelligently drawn and written, they could be very effective.

If the USIA is worried about not spending their entire budget, they could hire the best talent, buy the best presses, and develop the best delivery system and overpay everyone

Maybe they could spend it all.

Maybe it would do some good for a change.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I worked with a guy in Southern California who enjoyed explaining the Vietnamese people to me. He had been over there in the Army. He had spent his tour at the Long Bien supply depot which was about 20 miles NE of Saigon. His tour was less than a year.

He knew a lot about the Vietnamese because he had worked with one. Whenever the subject came up, he would recall his experiences with this one Vietnamese and use him to illustrate his point.

Long Bien was a pretty fortunate posting for someone in the Army. It had practically no incidents. One GI was killed by a mortar round in 1968.

It was also isolated. The road to Saigon was occasionally subject to VC roadblocks. Except for truck drivers, soldiers at Long Bien never saw Saigon. It was smart for them to do their entire tour on the base and go home feeling very lucky.

I doubt if my friend ever had a meal outside of the mess hall.

Very likely, that one Vietnamese that my friend continually brought up was the only Vietnamese he had ever met.

But one was enough.

We’ve all known people like that.


There was another guy that I met while I was over there. He was civilian who had been in Viet Nam for years at the time. Perhaps as long as I.

He bragged to me, get this, that in all the years he’d been there, he had never had one meal outside of a mess hall. Yes, he was bragging.

That depressed me. At the same time I felt very sorry for him.

There is mess hall food and there is mess hall food. In Viet Nam, not only was our military paying for everything, they were supplying everything even to the
construction camps. There was little chance of a gourmet meal. Or even an above average meal.

I some construction camps where I had worked before, the food had been spectacular, and I use that word advisedly.

In Peru at the top camp, in Iran at the Khaneh site, and at the Trinity River Dam, the food was, on a day to day basis, the best I had eaten in my life.

But still, if given idle time, we would travel to sample the local hospitality and vittles.

But this poor chap bragged that he had never eaten outside of a less than mediocre mess hall.

This in Viet Nam where French trained chefs, and even some French chefs, were everywhere. Which meant that excellent restaurants were everywhere.

Even on that Soc Trang job, way down on the Mekong Delta, I didn’t eat in the mess hall. Okay, maybe I ate there a half dozen times.

We lived in one of the two hotels in town. We lived in the big one, the one with six rooms.

There were a couple of restaurants in town where we ate. I even got them to pack me a lunch.

I had nothing against GI mess halls. The food at the Soc Trang Base was probable better than my restaurant in town. But I always felt I was imposing when I went to their mess hall. Given a reasonable option, I always chose not to.

Friday, November 18, 2005


I understood the Vietnamese. I knew how they would react in certain situations.

Here’s an example:

The government of South Viet Nam was pretty repressive in many ways. (Remember Madame Nhu, commonly referred to as the Dragon Lady? It was she who claimed to clap when monks burned.)

The Vietnamese police and military did a sweep through downtown Saigon one time. It was supposedly to help the war effort but, in reality, they were looking for girls in rooms with Americans. The government was against inter-racial sex.

I lived, at that time, in an apartment on Tu Do Street, the main street in downtown Saigon. They arrested my girl friend, put her in a truck loaded with women, and hauled her off. I was told she would be jailed anywhere from days to a month.

I knew exactly what I had to do. I found where they had taken her and went there. I checked in at the desk, telling them who I was there for.

Of course there was nothing they could do, that was expected.

Then I sat down to wait. The wooden chair was torture, the night was hot and muggy, there was no fan or air conditioner, and the mosquitoes swarmed.

People from inside came out now and then to see the American who was waiting all night. The word got all around as I knew it would.

When the shift changed in the morning there was much discussion at the desk with many looks in my direction.

Then they brought out my girlfriend and set her free.

She looked around in disbelief. Then she saw me and gave me a questioning look.

I just shrugged my shoulders.

I knew they would do that. I understood the Vietnamese.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


(More on Writing? You should call it Moron Writing. You remind me of Jerry Lewis. Remember when he lectured people on comedy when they cancelled his unfunny TV show? Who made you an expert on writing?)

That CHAPTER ONE that I posted below totally sucks. I can’t start off an action-adventure yarn with total blandness such as that. I have to begin with a grabber. I have to get the reader’s attention.

That chapter will have to be moved back a little.

Oh well, this is a learning process.

The first draft is finished. It’s about 100,000 words or 400 pages. I draw heavily on my experiences in Viet Nam and Iran but it’s total fiction. It is also totally on a hard copy only so I have to retype everything.

I plan to put the whole thing way back in the archives. Maybe I’ll put an excerpt up here now and then if something worthwhile appears.

The best writing, for me, is the stuff that is virtually written before I begin.

The two entries below are examples of that. The COBRA and the JESUS stories were complete in my head before sat down at the keyboard.

That doesn’t make them great prose, but stuff that is easy to write comes out easy to read.

That is my goal.

Sometimes I have to work very hard to make stuff easy to read.

UPDATE: That kibitzer entry at the beginning is an afterthought. It is pretty presumptuous for a totally unsuccessful writer to lecture on writing. That kibitzer can be pretty cruel, but he’s my best friend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


This happened in Viet Nam in 1967, I think. I know it was Viet Nam. I think it was 1967.

It was all a crazy chain of events. There was a free fire zone, a little revolver, some wild chickens, an eagle, a mortar crew, an animal stampede, and then the cobra. Oh yeah, I forgot the forest fire.

This is how it happened.

I got the job of hooking up the base at Cam Ranh Bay with the main north-south railroad which was about 20 kilometers inland through some heavy jungle.

The only catch was, my little railroad spur was entirely in a free fire zone.

The Korean White Horse Division was in charge of security in that sector. They offered me 10 soldiers for protection.

I thought that only 10 soldiers would just cause trouble so I decided to go in alone with only a Filipino survey crew and a bulldozer to clear the line.

Some funny things happened.

The navy put a Lt. JG in nominal charge of the project.

One day I discovered him walking up our cleared line. He didn’t seem to be armed.

“You’re not armed?” I asked him, just to make sure.

The kid turned pale and looked around. We were in thick jungle.

“You think I need to be?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I told him. “This is a free fire zone.”

“Are you armed?”

“Of course.” I raised the front of my shirt to show the pistol in my belt.

The kid looked confused and then thought of something.

“I don’t think I should allow that,” he said. “You’re a civilian.”

I laughed at him. “So you come out here unarmed and now you’re going to disarm me? Are you nuts?”

He turned around and went back to the base. He never came out there again.

Sometimes we spotted chickens along the trail; wild chickens. The hens were brown and drab looking. I wasn’t sure they were chickens until I spotted a rooster. The rooster was undoubtedly a rooster, but it was the most gaudy, colorful bird you’ll ever see.

I asked the survey crew if they would want me to shoot a chicken for them. They answered with an enthusiastic smacking of the lips.

So I became a hunter; a chicken hunter in the deep jungle.

But then there were no chickens to be seen. I couldn’t figure it out. As soon as I decided to hunt them, they disappeared.

I discovered what happened. An eagle had come into our area and was patrolling the trails. The chickens would stay hidden in the jungle as long as that eagle was around.

I damn sure wasn’t going into the jungle looking for them.

Then I got a shot at the eagle. It perched in the top of a tree about 50 yards away. I got it with my third shot. That was pretty good shooting using a .38 with a three inch barrel.

But the Americans heard the shooting way back at the Cam Ranh Bay defensive perimeter. A mortar crew started lobbing shells in out direction. They only sent us 3 or 4. They did no damage except one of them started a fire in the jungle.

That caused an animal stampede.

I was surprised at the number and variety of critters that came out of that bush. We had hardly seen any until then. But it all happened so quickly that I have only a vague memory of the event. And then too, I was distracted by a large, black snake that came straight towards me.

I took it to be a small python. (I had seen a large python nearby.) But my Filipino surveyors insisted it was a cobra. I heard them chanting, “Cobra, cobra,” as they went for their machetes and shovels.

“No,” I said. “That’s not a cobra. A cobra has a hood.” That’s the way it was in all the pictures.

Then they cornered the snake and it displayed its hood.

“Holy shit!” I said, “It’s a cobra.” But no one was listening.

They killed the snake.

The fire went out on its own. The jungle was too wet to burn for long.

The snake was eleven and a half feet long by official measurement.

I quit hunting chickens in the jungle.

I learned to never fire my pistol in a free fire zone.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Catherine Seipp wrote in the LA Times yesterday about a minister in Pasadena, the Reverend George Regas, encouraging his flock to vote for Senator Kerry in the last election.

During his sermon, the Reverend George Regas strongly intimated that Jesus Christ was solidly in the Kerry Korner. In fact the Reverend George Regas quoted Christ extensively on the subject. Yes, that’s right, he quoted Christ.

While Christ, according to the Reverend George Regas, did not directly support Kerry, he (Christ) was so critical of President Bush as to leave no doubt where he stood.

You can read the quotes as well as the entire article *here.*

Well, Jesus and I happened to be good buddies back in the old days. We hung together quite a bit. I decided to give him a call. He picked up right away. No secretary or anything. He was that kind of a guy.

“Jesus, baby. How they hangin’?”

“Valt, bubala.” He always spoke with a Yiddish accent. “Long time, no see. What you been up to?”

“Oh, this and that. I’m blogging now.”

“Blogging? What the **** is that?” I can’t tell you what he really said. We have an agreement.

“It’s a kind of writing. So how are you doing?”

“I’m comfortable, thank Father. I’ve got a place to sleep, three squares, but you know the best thing?”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t have to wear those **** sandals any more. I used to get such blisters on my big toe you wouldn’t believe.”

“You sound kinda like a hillbilly. So how did it feel in your first pair of shoes?”

“You puttin’ me down? You better not put me down. You know who my father is?”

“No man, I’m just bustin’ your balls a little.”

“Oh, okay. Anyway, I skipped shoes, went straight to slippers. There’s not much walking to do up here. I play a little bocci ball, shoot a little pool, play some gin, that’s about it. I can never beat my father at gin. I think he cheats.”

“The reason I called, there’s this guy in Pasadena who claimed you were talking to him before the last election.”

“I talk to a lot of people. I’m talking to people all the time. Sometimes they listen.”

That reminded me of something else. “Do you ever talk to Pat Robertson? He claims you do.”

“Pat Robertson!” He sounded really agitated. “Don’t mention his name to me. If I came back to earth again, he’d be trying to crucify me. Did you hear what they did to me the last time?”

“Yeah. I heard something about it.”

“It was guys like Robertson that did it. He’d be there hammering in the nails.”

“Oh. Anyway, there’s this guy in Pasadena claims you were against Bush in the election.”

“Oh yeah, I remember that. Yeah, that’s right. I was against Bush. That’s what I told him.”


“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

“Well, he says you had a long conversation with him about all the things that were wrong with Bush.”

“Nah. I never did that. I only told him that THE MUNSTER’S was my favorite TV show. I could never vote against Herman Munster.”

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Writer’s block is when you approach a blank piece of paper like a gay guy approaching a woman. It’s the last thing in the world you want to have anything to do with.

Of course it’s real. It’s silly to argue it’s not.

There are three causes:

1. You are bored with the subject.

2. You are tired.

3. You are not a writer.
4. You are gay

Here are four solutions:

1. Have at least two writing projects going at once. More than two would be better. I compare it to playing video games. After a couple of hours a game gets boring, but the one you played yesterday for a couple of hours might be fun today, even though you got bored with it yesterday. (I have a lot of idle, fun time.) You might be surprised how getting away to a different project might rejuvenate you when you get back. Project one will never quite leave your head. You might get back with your batteries totally recharged.

2. Rest. If you’re at home, take a nap or give it up for the day. If you’re at work, even a ten minute break will be beneficial. If you’re young, rejuvenation comes quickly. For an old guy like me, it sometimes takes a day or two.

3. If you’re not a writer, find a different line of work. There’s a hell of a lot of better ways to make a living.

4. On cause 4, I was just messin’ with ya’. I was seeing if you’d get down this far. I have to keep up my reputation as the anti-PC blog.

Below is one of my solutions to writer’s block. It is the first chapter of a novel. If I live long enough I will post the whole, damn, unreadable, thing on this blog.


Cause I feel like it.


Rudmetkyn was a mysterious man in a land of mysterious men. Few had ever heard of him but among those who had he was known by only the one name in a country where everyone was commonly known by three.

He lived twenty miles outside Moscow in a small villa when he could afford the most luxurious apartment in the center of the city. He had no military rank or government title when almost any could be his for the asking.

Although he had no official position, he wielded as much power in the government as any man in Russia. It was said that the President himself owed his position to Rudmetkyn’s support. This was also said, with as much basis in truth, about the previous president and the one before that, going all the way back to a few premiers in the time of the Soviet Union.

As a result, Rudmetkyn had become greatly feared as the ultimate power in the Russian Federation. That was mostly undeserved. The truth was he was less a maker of leaders than he was a picker of winners. It was part of his genius.

Rudmetkyn was a genius. His particular genius was in an area that might have left him undiscovered in a different culture in a different time. But he lived in the Russian Federation at this time and he thrived. In a land of suspicion and mistrust, it was the schemer and conspirator who ruled. That was the area of Rudmetkyn’s genius.

Over the years Rudmetkyn had built a reputation of absolute trustworthiness among the people with whom he worked. Every co-conspirator knew that he would do exactly what he said he would do.

He also had a reputation for ruthlessness toward people who crossed him. Several men had lost their lives or mysteriously disappeared after failing to fulfill a promise made to him.

It was interesting how these last events would occur. Word would be circulated that a certain prominent individual had hone back on his word to Rudmetkyn. For many that this rumor reached it would be the first they had ever heard his name. The prominent individual would suddenly die or disappear. Rudmetkyn’s name would be etched in the minds of all who had heard the initial rumor.

The power of these events went beyond reality and worked on men’s imaginations, sometimes creating rumors of rumors. Once, when a premier died after a short term in office, men would as themselves, “Had I not heard that the Comrade Premier had failed to live up to a promise made to Rudmetkyn?” Men would very discreetly ask the same question of each other. Thus was created a rumor of a rumor.

Very few people failed to fulfill a promise made to Rudmetkyn.


And now there is news of a police slow-down in France. You can connect *here*. Seems some politicians over there were speaking more highly of the rioting rabble than of the “noble” police trying to quell them.

Just another piece of evidence that you can’t please everyone.

*Roger Simon* brings up an interesting point about how much auto insurance will have to go up in France. That’s pretty obvious but I hadn’t thought of it.

Muslims have marked their cars so they will be spared. The reports were that it worked at first. It was reported that only “white,” meaning non-Muslim cars were being torched. But now it is not working as well.

Here’s my take:

I had kind of a rowdy youth, more to fit in than for anything else. If I and my associates (all being non-Muslims) had heard that Muslims were going around burning all cars except for those marked as belonging to Muslims, we would be out in a flash burning those Muslim cars. In a flash. That’s a no-brainer. And who would get blamed for it?

The Muslims are foolish to screw up France now. They are making problems that they will have to deal with in the future because France will eventually be all theirs. It is theirs for the taking.


Through the wombs of their women.

All those Muslim men have to do is live off French welfare and keep their women pregnant and France will be theirs.

It is inevitable.

Friday, November 11, 2005


There’s a column/article (it’s often difficult to tell the difference between opinion pieces and reporting) in today’s washingtonpost.com site. It has to do with military deaths in Iraq. You can read the article *here*.

Military deaths in Iraq, from all causes, are now at 2,035. There have been more in Afghanistan. I’m not sure of the total. I think it is under 200.

That is a heavy price. I mourn them. I mourn them all.

But think of what these brave Americans have helped to accomplish.

This war didn’t begin when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, but that was when it caught our attention. Before that they had announced they were at war with us and had attacked us several times. Their attacks had been treated like mosquito bites: We scratched the itch long after the perp had disappeared.

In the attack on 9-11 over 3,000 were killed, not just Americans, people of all nationalities. (At the time, I thought that was a blessing. When I saw those buildings collapse, I estimated 10,000 deaths.)

Since that time here is an incomplete list of the changes in the Middle East:

PAKISTAN: This was truly a rogue nation. They sponsored the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. They were always verging on war with India. A nuclear power, they were spreading the technology throughout the world. ONE scientist took the fall for that. (If you believe that, I have a bridge I’ll sell you.) Since, they have become an important American ally in the region, one we couldn’t do without. They have mended their fences and kicked ajar a gate with India. Still a questionable populous but a huge plus overall.

AFGHANISTAN: How soon we forget. The Russians were bogged down there for years. But this was the home of al Qaeda. We had to get them. Winter was coming on. Predictions were for a long, bloody campaign.

It was over in weeks with minimal casualties. We took almost as few weeks to succeed as the Russians took years only to fail.

The campaign went on.

Iraq fell.Libya declared themselves reformed and gave up their nuclear program.Syria withdrew from Lebanon.Diplomatic and military victories piling up one after another.

It has been one of the greatest military and diplomatic campaigns in history.

The cost has been severe: Over 2,000 of our military dead.

But anyone at the beginning would have estimated ten times that many deaths to achieve what has been achieved. That would have been the minimum estimate.

It has been a great campaign.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The show is no limit poker.

1. Tentative titles: No-Star Poker; 8 For the Money; Last Man Standing.

2. Premise: 8 people play no-limit poker, winner take all.

3. The people: All with personality. At least 2 women. Must know how to play poker. Should need the money. Hungry stand-up comics would be excellent. Focus should be on the game, but give and take at the table will be interesting.

4. The set up: 8 players and a professional dealer sit around the table. A pit boss (referee) is there. His decision on disputes is final. Need an overhead camera and at least two hand-held, roaming. Need an expert commentator in an isolated booth.

5. The money: Each player is given an equal amount in chips, assume $10.000. The winner gets $80,000. First eliminated gets $1,000, next $2,000 and so on until runner-up gets $7,000.

6. The games: The games are limited to Texas hold ‘em, 5 card stud, 7 card stud, and 5 card draw. In the beginning only the first two are allowed. With 7 players, 7 card stud is okay; with 6, any of those games is allowed. Never any jokers or wild cards.

7. Eliminations: First player eliminated goes into the isolated booth with the commentator to comment on his play and kibitz on the continuing play. Each does the same in turn, when eliminated, but if one is particularly good, he should stay.

8. The play: It’s dealer’s choice within the limits of paragraph 6. The deal rotates clockwise around the table but the professional dealer will deal for all.

The ante for each hand must be considerable in order to move the game along. In this example a reasonable amount would be $200 each to make a $1600 in the first hand at the beginning of play. This ante will be increased as players drop out and the survivors get richer. Perhaps a thousand dollar ante when only two are left.

When the ante puts a player all in then everyone matches that player’s ante and there is no more betting that hand. They play show-down for it all.

A player may go all in at any time. If he is called and loses, he is out.

If player one has more chips than player two, one can bet the amount of player two’s chips and put two all in if two chooses to call.

Any number of players can call a player who goes all in, but when a player goes all in and is called, there is no more betting.

9. The show: The roving cameras shoot everyone’s hole card which goes closed circuit to the isolated booth. After the opening deals, only the hands of the betters need be shown. The hands in play and the size of the pot can be shown on the side of the screen.

10. Summation: Drama, humor, riches, sudden death (sort of), brilliance, stupidity, this show has everything.

The one game can be stretched to 6 or more hour shows with editing and profiling participants. The actual card game could go 8 hours or longer but much would not be of interest .

Almost every network could have an interest in airing this sort of series.

Unknown comics would get national exposure. It’s a win, win situation.

The game can be done over and over unless freaks and misfits are put into the mix. Similarly, rich players playing to benefit charities would distract from the drama.

The focus must be kept on the game.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I was walking my two little girls to school this morning. As usual, music was running through my head. Sometimes I sing in my mind. We were half way to school before I realized I was singing “Three Little Maids From School” from the Mikado. (No, I wasn’t dancing, smart ass.)

I had to leer at two street vendors, brush up closer than need be to a lady on a crowded sidewalk, and lust in my heart after a young mother, just to restore my masculine credentials.


They have a peculiar way to reward success in our Bangkok school. Our older girl, the 12-year-old Fie, has been singled out as a good student. Her reward? She has been given extra classes. We now go to school a half hour earlier and come home an hour later. That is her reward.


One of the ways of getting around Bangkok is by motorbike. Not your own, you pile on the back of a bike driven by a professional driver. They are easily recognizable. They all wear orange vests and congregate at a biker stand when they’re not on the road. They are all over the place. There may be thousands in the city. It’s cheaper than a taxi but more expensive than a bus.

There is a biker stand at the entrance of our soi or lane. 6 or 8 bikers hang out there. One is a woman. That is not common.

There is another girl in our soi who goes to the same school as my kids. This ‘little’ girl is caloric endowed. I don’t know her name but I think of her as “Large Marge.”

The school is perhaps ¾ of a mile away. My kids and I walk it. It’s great exercise for me.

“Large Marge” takes a motorbike both ways.

She will always be “Large Marge.”

Sunday, November 06, 2005


AFP, the French newswire service, mentions that Muslims are involved in their riots for perhaps the first time. But the account is very sympathetic. Here is a brief excerpt from an interview from one of the participants:

"Look around you -- there is nothing here. Nothing. We live four to a room. Our parents go to work every day like zombies. But we have nothing. Even the jobs that there are round here go to people from elsewhere. This parking lot is like our living room. It is the only place we can go," he says.

The surroundings are indeed grim. The estate consists of a series of long low-rise buildings made of the cheapest 1970s materials and painted in an unsavoury off-white. Patches of scrubby grass are covered in rubbish and upturned wheely-bins.

"The police know us all by name. But when they come here they still beat down the door and order our parents to lie on the ground. And when they ask where we are from, we answer from here of course, but they say: 'No you're not. You're from Africa,'" says Abdelkarim.
*Here* is the entire article.

They go to work every day like zombies? Then I guess they don’t get paid. What use does a zombie have for money?

I’ll bet that clown is living off those working zombies, eating their zombie food and sleeping in the zombie bed that they provide.

Maybe if he went to work and contributed something, everyone could live better.

The big surprise to me in the riots is that there are no deaths reported. I should emphasize ‘reported.’ If those riots were in the US, even if only celebrating a sports win, there would be deaths, many deaths. If the reports are true, all I can say is (as “The Greek” said to The Godfather): Salud!

One awful man has said, “The riots would be over in a minute if the French knew who to surrender to.”

I think that’s a terrible thing to say and is totally unconstructive and is wrong and I apologize.

One important thing to consider is, as bad as the French reputation is on the battlefield, they have been formidable in handling prisoners. Apparently getting their opponents disarmed, helpless and in a jail cell turns French pussies into tigers.

I would not want to be one of those arrested in the rioting.


Shopping in supermarkets in the States was once my avocation/hobby/distraction, you name it. It was also a great exercise. Walking those aisles was sometimes my only exercise. I did not encourage company but, needless to say, no one ever wanted to come twice anyway.

I had a regular routine. The ads came out on Wednesday. I would make a list of the best buys. Some markets had a history of running out of their good buys early and not restocking. So sometimes, if it was worth the effort, I would move quickly.

On Sundays the coupons came out. These were the same as free money if they were for stuff I could use.

It should be no surprise that very often there were cents off coupons on the very items that were on sale in the ads. It is caused by a product getting loaded up in a warehouse somewhere and they are trying to unload it.

There were always two or three markets that doubled coupons in my area. Those were the only markets I shopped at with the coupons.

About the coupons. Clipping them didn’t mean I would use them. Some I clipped in hopes the item would go on sale. Some items, in my estimation, weren’t worth the price even with 2 dollars off. Of the coupons I clipped, I threw more away than I used

My hobby took up about 4 hours a week. When I was shopping for a family of 5, I saved about a hundred dollars a week. Some might say that’s not a good enough return for the time. But it was my hobby. I actually enjoyed doing it. Not many hobbies save money.

I would estimate that, over the years, I saved more than $50,000. That is a very conservative estimate. It could be double that.

It was a hard hobby/habit to kick. In later years, when I was only shopping for myself, I would still keep at it and leave bags of groceries at a senior center.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Again I am struck by the incredible similarities in the careers of Woody Allen and myself.

(Similarities? Name one.)

It’s as if we were twins, separated at birth, but then go on to lead identical lives.

(Are you nuts? What the hell have you done that would be remotely identical to what Woody Allen has done?)

Like he has that 34-year-old Asian wife who is 35 years younger than him.

(Yeah? So?)

I’ve got a 38-year-old Asian wife who is 36 tears younger than me. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

(That’s pretty boring.)

Here’s what Woody says in a recent interview:

Of his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, now 34, the Oscar-winning filmmaker said his relationship with her had taken on a "more paternal feeling" in recent years.
*Here* is the entire article.

So now he says he feels ‘paternal’ towards her. That’s interesting. I guess that means she doesn’t interest him sexually anymore. He feels like a father to her.

Too bad he didn’t feel like a father towards her 18 years ago when he was her father and was taking nude pictures of her.

Bad timing.

I guess she’s too old for him now. Those Korean women, I’ve heard, age fast.

That’s too bad.

I guess there was no way she could keep a hunk like Woody interested.

So now he’ll have to look for another 16-year-old that he won’t have paternal feelings for.


I plan on keeping my Thai lady another 10 years and then I’ll reevaluate.

Let’s see, I’ll only be 84 then. I’ll still be a hunk.

Won’t I?

(Sure you will.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Roger Simon has an interesting entry on his blog today called “An American in Paris.” Read it *here.*

It brought to my mind something I’ve thought about for years.

I have traveled a lot. In the past it has almost always been work related. I would be going to and from engineering and construction projects. The projects always seemed to be located in a wilderness somewhere.

My travel followed a pattern without variation: Land in the capital city. Spend a few days getting signed in and briefed and introduced around. Then off for months in the boonies.

The attitude of the local people toward me also followed a pattern, though not as rigid. Just about the only negative feelings I encountered among the populous was in the big cities. Get away from the big cities and the people seemed to be unanimous in liking Americans.

A cynic might say that was because the people in the boonies didn’t know us while the big city people did. There probably is a lot of truth in that.

But I think it had more to do with the native people themselves. I have always found that the people in the hinterlands were more good-natured and down to earth. I have always thought that to find what the people in a country are really like, you must get away from the big cities. For a glaring example: Don’t judge the population of France by the people of Paris.

Think about it. Would you want the people of the United States judged by the populations of New York City or Washington DC?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


This is an article from the AP:

NATO countries want to better tackle the biggest threat in Afghanistan — rampant drug trafficking and an economy dependent on opium farming — but many lack the money to do it, the organization's supreme allied commander in Europe said Thursday.
You can read the entire article here.

Here’s an item by [Andrew Stuttaford] in NRO

Wise words from Radley Balko on the subject of meth:

“Of course, if it weren't for the Drug War, we wouldn't have to deal with meth in the first place. It's a crude, homegrown substitute for the less potent, less volatile narcotics the government has made illegal. The similarities between meth and the vile, sometimes lethal bathtub gin people brewed during Prohibition are uncanny."

He’s right, of course, as he is to continue to highlight George W. Bush’s repellent war on pain relief.

Compassionate? Nope. Conservative? Nope.
Norm Stamper, the former chief of the Seattle Police Department, is the author of "Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing" (Nation Books, 2005). He has written a short article on the drug problem and policing same. Please, please, take a few minutes and read the article. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but so what? The important thing is to start a dialogue, which is something we do not have right now.

Read the full article *here.*

This is my take:

You know why The United States has interfered for years and continues to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries?

It is because The United States cannot control the drug problem within its own borders.

The Americans have failed at home so they go out and screw up other countries. Columbia has been in a state of civil war for years because of American ineptness at home. How many Columbians have died because of American failure/

The “War on Drugs” has been going on for more than 40 years. Are we close to winning? Not likely.

Has the situation improved since it began? Not likely.

If it goes on another 40 years, will we win? No.

Is there an end in sight? No.

Are we making headway? No.

Do we have anything to show for the 69 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) it is costing the country yearly?

Yeah. There is something. There are nearly three times as many Americans in prisons as there was when this effort started. Most of them for non-violent drug connected offences.

What a waste of assets.

What a waste of humanity.

Think about it, who has the greatest interest in continuing this so-called “War on Drugs?”

The drug pushers, that’s who. The criminals get the most out of the war on drugs. It is a bonanza for them. It keeps prices high and supply controlled by them. They are the bootleggers of today. And the war on drugs in the prohibition of today. And it is all just as futile as prohibition.

Some form of legalization should be explored.

It will happen sooner or later but sooner is better. It is inevitable. We must recognize it.

Some notes:

On the downside, legalization will cause a spike in the crime rate, and drug use, and drug related deaths.

Rationing would be a bad idea. That defeats the purpose.

Let it just be sold over the counter in drug stores.

What is the upside?

Hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders can be released from prison.

(Hopefully, they will not all be released on the same day.)

The billions that will be saved will not show up immediately. There will be immense expenses related to the relocation of people and assets.

The problem of so many people (mostly men) dumped on the economy will be great, but short time problems will be long time benefits.

We should not grow our own domestic product immediately or perhaps ever. The existing primary sources, who are mostly poor farmers, must be considered.

The religious right is nearly as much against legalizing drugs as the drug pushers. The combination of preachers and criminals, all with enormous sources of money, will be difficult to stand up against.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005


While I’m on the subject.

You want stupid advice? Here is stupid advice: “Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.”

That has got to be the worst advice in the history of cooking. The object of that advice is to keep you from being tempted to buy everything in the store. The assumption of that stupid advice is that you are stupid.

The result of that advice is that you buy bland food because you are not interested in food while you’re shopping. And then you cook bland meals. And then you are a bad cook.

But suppose you are on a budget. Isn’t that advice good then? Doesn’t it save you money?

If that’s your only aim, to save money, buy cabbage, beans and rice. Get some bullion cubes too for a meat flavor. That will give you many cheap, balanced meals.

Here is some good advice: “Always go shopping on an empty stomach.”

But suppose you are on a budget? (I’ll do some more on this subject later.)

Look in the bargain basement of the supermarket. You can often find refried beans. What the hell can you do with refried beans? Check in the canned meat section. There sometime are some cans of corned beef on sale. Then in the canned vegetables are some spiced, diced tomatoes.

There are the makings of a great casserole. I would add some cooked rice or a package of oriental noodles because I go crazy for bulk.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it, and I’m not hungry right now.



News Item: Paris based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 140th out of 167 in its 2005 Press Freedom Index.

Read full story here.

Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had this to say:

"I do not favor a subservient press. An unthinking press is not good for Singapore. But press freedom must be practised with a larger sense of responsibility and the ability to understand what is in, or not in, our national interests,"
More on this story here and here and here.

The bottom line is that the Paris based media watchdog group didn’t like it that the Singapore press operated as the propaganda arm of the government.

Is that the main criterion for a free press?

But wouldn’t that mean that The United States doesn’t have a free press?

Hasn’t The New York times and much of the American media operated as the propaganda arm of the Democratic National Committee for years?

I’m so confused.