Wednesday, November 29, 2006
GEORGE ORWELL AND ME
Which brings me to George Orwell, who also had a better command of English than I have. I am a huge fan of Orwell. Not Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty-Four, those were the product of Orwell. The real man is in Down and Out in Paris and London, Burmese Days, The Road to Wigan Pier, and Homage to Catalonia. Read one. Read them all if you like honesty in literature and clear prose. The man bared his soul. Especially poignant is the essay, "Shooting an Elephant". He had to do it even though he knew it was wrong.
I know I don’t come up to his level in this blog but that was the goal line I never expected to cross. I’ve aimed high (to mix a metaphor) and given it a shot. Have I left things out in my little stories? Yes. Things that might make me look bad? Yeah, some things. But do you suppose Orwell put everything into his stories?
I have gone farther than Orwell, being an English Gentleman, could possibly go. I am satisfied with this blog so far. It is the essence of me. A couple of friends have suggested I write a book about my life. That is pretty much what I am doing here.
AFTERTHOUGHT: On the subject of hiding things in one’s life, when I went to get a job as a security guard there was an application to fill out and a list of questions. One of the questions was: Have you ever done anything illegal? What a great question. Only a moron would write “No.” Anyone who wrote, “No,” could immediately be dismissed as a moron and a liar.
Of course I answered, “Yes.”
So you might be wondering, “What has he done that is illegal?”
I will not deny anything because any denial of things not true will narrow it down to what is true.
AFTER-AFTER THOUGHT: There is also this parallel between Orwell and me (although I reiterate, in a different class): He started as an extreme leftist, even to the point of fighting on the Communist side in the Spanish Civil War. Then in later life he became the scourge of the left with his anti-Communist writings.
If one lives long enough does the truth become apparent? Ha, ha! That’s funny. No way. People get mired in the dried mud of a lifetime of their own and their ancestors’ opinions, which they will pass on to their offspring.
ONE MORE THING: I said to my friend, Alvin Duskin, that I had to be telling the truth herein because it would be too hard to remember so many lies.
No, he said, it’s easier to remember what you’ve written than what actually happened.
He’s got a point.
AND ANOTHER THING: George Orwell died at the age of 46. He had done many things and accomplished much. I married for the first time at 46 and had lived a varied and interesting life till then. I had always thought, in my adventures, I was trading longevity for excitement in my life. Much to my surprise, I have lived another varied and interesting life since then.
Monday, November 27, 2006
WRITING DOES PAY
A flight attendant for a major airline visited our house. She was up for a promotion to purser (I think that’s kinda like deck boss). The problem was she had to do six short essays in English and her English wasn’t that good (she was Thai). Being the resident (only) person in our soi (lane) who possessed a fluency in English, she came to me for help.
Each of the essays related to different aspects of her job. She had no ready answers and I knew little about her job so we began an intensive interview session.
For each of the six sections I had to cross examine her to find out all about it and then summarize it all into 150 words or so. It wasn’t cheating. The knowledge of the job and the attitude towards the job all came from her and she knew the subject thoroughly. All I did was squeeze it out of her and distill it into a short essay.
As I have often said, I am a mentally lazy man. You can ask all of my teachers who gave up on me. But this required intense concentration for two solid hours. It was exhausting. It usually takes me six hours of lazy thinking, casual drinking and musing to grind out 300 words. Here I did more than 900 words in just two hours.
The product though was as good as anything I have ever written. I felt satisfied with it.
Oh yeah, she got the promotion.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
THE FAMILY PET
DOG FOOD (A MODEST PROPOSAL)
A couple of days ago I was surprised on my walk to the school by the near absence of doggy poo on the sidewalk. There was only one smear. Also, I only saw one or two dogs on my walk. We are plagued, in my section of Bangkok by neighborhood dogs. Today there was only one deposit and I only spotted one loose dog. My average for loose dog spottings is about six and, curiously, that is about the average of dog dropping left on the sidewalks on any particular day. A coincidence? I think not.
I have never been a dog lover, to say the least. I may have been influenced by having been attacked by a dog as a preschooler. This might have put an unreasoning prejudice in my mind. The dog, with no adults in sight, bit me on the bridge of my nose. Perhaps I frightened it, although that is unlikely since it was much larger than me. My howls sent it off.
My family took me to an emergency hospital for rabies treatment. The scar remains.
That was only the beginning of my horrible encounters with neighborhood dogs as a very young boy. Dog owners, most of whom don’t like people, have set responses in defense of their vicious brutes:
“You shouldn’t show fear.”
Good advice. How about teaching your nasty animal not to want to kill little kids?
“He’s never hurt anybody before”
This after it has killed the baby.
“He won’t hurt you.”
Riiiight. As long as it knows you’re watching. If you weren’t around it would kill me.
Anyway, with the loose dogs in our Bangkok neighborhood, I had to establish dominance from the start. A dog threatened my two preteen girls on the first day I walked them to their new school. A couple of swift kicks in his direction kept him away from then on. Another dog snatched at a plastic bag of meat I was carrying home. I made sure to single him out for special treatment when I saw him again. And so it was for each dog at our first introduction. When you establish dominance from the start, they stay out of your way and, hopefully, they won’t attack your kids when you’re not around. Don’t give me bullshit that that’s Bangkok and not the US. Dogs are the same threat the world round.
Anyway, back to the opening. I saw few dogs and little doggy poo on my walks. Then I saw this article in The Bangkok Post. You can read it yourself *HERE* (if it’s still up). In case they take it down, I reprint it in its entirety.
NORTH NEW CULINARY TRENDS
Dog meat rising in popularity in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai _ Dog meat is gaining in popularity in this northern province, with an increasing number of roadside food stalls serving dog meat dishes over the past few years. Three food shops on the side of the Chiang Mai-Chom Thong highway in San Pa Tong district are enjoying the rising popularity of dog meat.
It is especially popular at this time of the year when the weather is getting cooler as dog meat lovers believe it helps to warm up the body and contains medicinal properties.
Rattanaporn Norkhat, a dog meat shop owner, said her customers are mostly youngsters and unskilled workers who believe the meat is full of nutrients.
The meat of black dogs is believed to be more nutritious than others and has become more popular. Ms Rattanaporn said she sold more than 10kg of black dog meat a day.
Dried dog meat was among her customers' other favourite items, she said.
Ms Rattanaporn said food shops that sell dog meat dishes place a black ceramic pot in front of the shop to send ''signals'' to dog meat lovers.
In Chiang Mai, fresh dog meat is available at 40 baht per kilogramme.
The price for a whole large-breed dog, particularly those of foreign breeds, can be as much as 600 baht.
Another dog meat seller said she had been running her business for four years.
''My clients say the meat is delicious,'' said the seller.
However, she said she always lied to new customers that the food was made from lamb or sheep meat, for fear that they would feel disgusted upon learning that it was dog meat.
Perhaps that has something to do with their thinning in our neighborhood. What a marvelous development. Dogs are finally useful for something other than manufacturing shit and killing little kids.
Friday, November 24, 2006
I have written in previous posts how they edit all nudity, tobacco smoking, and guns firing into people. Well recently the censorship got more severe. A section of a Jerry Lewis movie, The Bellboy, was cut out completely. In the picture, a lady came on stage to do some kind of an act. The screen went black. The word, Censored appeared in large letters. And then the movie went on to the next scene. Wow. A Jerry Lewis movie? I thought his stuff was mostly for kids.
Now I learn the Thai censors are busy on the internet. There was an editorial in today’s Bangkok Post. I seldom agree with those people but this time they seem to have everything in proper focus.
Here is part of what they write:
The Thaksin Shinawatra government occasionally tried to turn censorship into virtue by claiming it was all done on behalf of children. This is the familiar claim of all censors of course _ that they selflessly protect victims. But predictably, internet censorship under Mr Thaksin immediately turned from an anti-pornography crusade into a political act.
Meanwhile, internet news sites now show Thailand as just slightly better than Burma or China at allowing net access by citizens _ and far below the openness of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Before the Police Bureau on High Tech Crime stopped public reports earlier this month, it bragged it had blacklisted 34,437 websites. Of these ''illicit websites'' filtered since 2002, the police themselves said just 60% were pornographic. Nearly 4,000 were ordered closed by police because they allegedly violated national security. This, of course, is a well-known accusation and dodge by Thai censors. It is a carryover catchall, used to shutter newspapers and imprison innocent people decades before the internet came into existence.
This stuff was all news to me. I have to congratulate The Bangkok Post for pointing this out and taking a stand.
Good for them.
You can read the entire editorial *HERE*.
IN ADDITION: (Almost entirely off subject but interesting) In doing a little bit of reading for this post I came across this gem:
Not that Jerrymania was strictly a French thing. Lewis was voted director of the year three times in France, but he won the same honor in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
REASONS FOR THE THAI COUP
I haven’t seen this white paper but the description The Nation gives of its contents is disappointing to me. The most obvious reason for the coup in omitted and it causes me to wonder why.
Think about it.
There were repeated demonstrations against Prime Minister Thaksin’s administration of a hundred thousand or more people.
There was a questionable assassination attempt on Thaksin after which he fired a key general, replacing him with his own man.
I read reports of troops loyal to Thaksin being moved from the outer provinces to Bangkok where the demonstrations had taken place.
Somewhere on the horizon, or over the horizon, was the possibility of a catastrophic clash between Thaksin controlled soldiers and demonstrators.
Wouldn’t that be the number one reason for the coup? To prevent bloodshed? With that reason they wouldn’t have needed 35 pages. One would have sufficed and no one could argue with it.
How strange that it wasn’t even mentioned.
According to The Nation, all the reasons the military give for the coup are civilian problems, having nothing to do with the military and all of them are arguable.
The last line in the article is unconsciously funny:
After the military elite took control of the country on September 19, they were granted an audience with His Majesty, to report on the situation. It is a tradition in Thai politics that whenever a coup topples the government, the military reports to His Majesty.They have an established routine for military coups. That’s convenient because it is the 18th coup in the last 74 years. That’s one coup every four years or thereabout. The US hasn’t had that many presidents in that time.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
BACK TO BASICS
While in grammar school I was an avid reader. When I found an author I liked I stuck with him. I read the Oz series by L. Frank Baum, the seafaring novels of Howard Pease, and the Revolutionary War series by Kenneth Roberts, among others. What with after school baseball, this left me little time for schoolwork. A boy must have priorities.
Sitting in class was one of the most boring things I have done in my life and I have a low threshold for boredom. The result was that I was often sent to the school library as punishment for misbehavior. That’s pretty funny, like throwing Br’er Rabbit into the briar patch. I could browse to my heart’s content.
While browsing, I came across a beautiful, illustrated book on astronomy and the beginnings of life on earth. What a revelation that was to a preteen. The life I was living wasn’t true reality. Reality was that we were all living on a rock hurtling through space. My imagination soared.
I never had the discipline or patience to get a formal education in that area, but it’s fun for me to speculate and let my imagination soar farther.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely hope you get everything you want for Christmas,
And I hope I get everything you want too,
Because, in case you want something I never heard of, why should I be left out?
Indeed. Words to live by.
In a more serious vein, Kissinger recently said “Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq.”
CNN and other news media, in the interest of saving space, have edited the quote to have him saying “victory is no longer possible in Iraq.”
I’m sure they do not see the difference in meaning. It is just an honest mistake.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
O. J. BE BACK
The statement of one of his jurors after the trial was revealing. “I didn’t see no tape of him killing those people,” she said, or words to that effect. Sadly, if she had seen a tape she probably would have said, “You can fake a tape. How do I know that was really him?” As Jonathan Swift once said, “You cannot reason someone out of a position he has not been reasoned into.” Blacks in America wanted so much for him not to have committed those crimes, they fell victim to the delusion that he hadn’t.
Howard Stern has agitated the situation for years by asking virtually every black guest on his radio program, “OJ, guilty or innocent?” The answer and follow up questions usually made the guest look ridiculous. But Stern is an equal opportunity offender. He has had a member of the KKK on his program for years whom he makes look ridiculous by asking honest questions and receiving honest answers.
I was shocked when I heard this KKK leader side with the majority of the blacks on the OJ verdict. “He didn’t do nothin’ wrong,” the KKK guy said. Then he added, “He just did what was natural for him.” Chilling!
Well OJ is back again. (You can read about it *HERE*.) And guess what. He’s as dumb as ever. Right after the trial Jesse Jackson was heard to advise him to stay low and not say anything. Good advice for a guy who had just gotten away with murder. So what does OJ do? He wants to address a group of battered women! He wants to counsel battered women!
Words fail me.
UPDATE: The project was cancelled. Read about it *HERE*.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
PROBLEMS FOR LADIES OF THE NIGHT
There are always 20 to 50 ladies there during the day who are not employees. I have never been there after dark but I imagine it gets livelier. These ladies are private contractors. They range in desirability from 2 to 10. Their price, I imagine, varies in proportion. For the price of a beer they are glad to tell me their problems. Right now they do have a problem. The number of potential clients has been cut in half.
It’s not the recent military coup or the existing martial law that has reduced the clientele, although those didn’t help. No, the problem is the Thai Government, before the coup, changed the rules on visas. It used to be that a 30 day tourist visa could be renewed indefinitely simply by making a trip to the border and getting a new entry stamp. Perhaps as many as 50,000 Westerners have been living (many working) in Bangkok for years on 30 day tourist visas. (I have heard there are many more here with no visas at all.)
That is all changed now. Under the new rules a tourist visa can only be renewed once and will be granted only 3 times in six months. This is literally unsettling for many thousands here. Many have already gone to Cambodia which has very liberal rules on visas. Many more will follow. They haven’t many options because getting a non-tourist visa is difficult and probably impossible for most of them. (I am here on a one year retirement visa to get which I had to offer proof of my solvency. The bar for that is not low.)
As these Westerners leave, they are taking with them a lot of money that has been going into the Thai economy. Not just “Ladies of the Night” will suffer. All these men (some women also) spent money here. Practically none were indigent. I estimate that one could live sparsely in Bangkok on $500 a month. A one room apartment can be had for $100. But very few of these people lived at that level. More likely they put more than $1000 on average into the Thai economy. That loss will be felt at every level of the tourist and housing industry.
Friday, November 17, 2006
THE WAR ON DRUGS
You know why The United States has interfered for years and continues to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries?You can read the whole article *HERE*, (scroll down). In it I try to make the case that the “War on Drugs” not only cannot be won, it is foolish to try.
It is because The United States cannot control the drug problem within its own borders.
I did not know that Milton Friedman had made the same argument over 15 years before. He, of course, made the argument much better than I could or else I would have simply reprinted his words. Here is partly what he wrote in an open letter to Bill Bennett:
You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.
Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.
The entire letter is a great example of clear writing and logic. You can read it all *HERE*. What a pity that so little attention was paid to it.
Milton Friedman died yesterday. He was a great man. You can read his biography *HERE*.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
THE BRIT SITCOM
Our cable TV service here in Bangkok is unpredictable at times. Some hour long programs were simply cut off in the last ten minutes on Channel 8. That channel, for a couple of months, was sometimes carrying BBC programs. There was no schedule of what or when. All one could do was check there now and then to see what was on. Sometimes one got lucky.
A few times I caught a sitcom that was quite good and unique. It was the story of a superhero at home. He was married and had a baby in a cradle. At home he is a bumbling everyman, trying to keep his true identity a secret from nosy neighbors in a middleclass apartment house. When he got a call (I forget how) he donned his uniform and flew out the window to rescue people from an earthquake in Guatemala or whatever. (No, he didn’t carry a lunch pail, but that would be good.)
His wife was a normal human but the baby in the crib had superpowers also. He not only could speak but seemed much smarter than the old man. This was another thing they had to conceal from neighbors, friends and relatives.
In one episode, when the bumbling adult superhero was tied up in some complication, the baby had to don a little superhero uniform and fly off to do the adult’s work. Funny!
I never tuned in early enough to catch the name of this series and my inept research into BBC programming didn’t yield a clue.
This would be a sure hit on American TV because all it needs are good writers.
Oh yeah, a good cast might help too.
And a good producing team, come to think of it.
But that’s all it needs.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
But of all the dishes I invented, I never wrote anything down and I would forget the ingredients usually as soon as the meal was over. I had some standbys though, dishes whose ingredients were so simple and the family liked so much that I made them often. One of these was a tuna casserole. That’s a can’t miss dish hot or cold.
I decided to make that dish here in Bangkok. My Thai family had never heard of it. Then I looked on the shelf. The only pasta there was rice vermicelli. That comes in long, thin threads. They use it in soups. What the hell. I’d give it a shot.
It turned out pretty good so I’m writing down the recipe. The ingredients:
170 gm. (6 ounce) package rice vermicelli
2 6 1/2 oz cans chunk tuna in veg. oil
2 medium onions
2 full garlic flowers
2 oz chopped jalapenos (chopped dill pickles can be substituted)
2 oz chopped black olives
1 tablespoon horse radish
4 to 6 oz mayonnaise. (Depends on how dry you want it.)
Use a medium sized pot. Fill it half full of water and put it on low heat and cover. (Low heat because you have other stuff to do before it boils.)
Chop up the onions and garlic. Put them in a microwave proof bowl and put the oil from the tuna cans over them. Cover and microwave on medium high for 3 minutes. Leave an escape hatch for gas in case it gets too intense.
By that time the pot should be boiling. Shove in the vermicelli. Don’t worry about the size of the pot or the amount of water. Veremicelli collapses quickly into the liquid. But you must be careful of the timing. A minute should be enough. Any more and you get vermicelli mush. Drain thoroughly leaving the pasta in the pot.
Break up any large tuna pieces. Add all the ingredients to the pot (including the oil from the tuna cans). No need to heat the tuna, this is not a heat sensitive dish. Toss as you would a salad. You can transfer it to a bowl or serve from the pot.
It was a big hit here. My Thai family had never seen anything like it. One drawback, it is not as good the next day as a salad. It’s still good, but not as good as with macaroni.
NOTES: Only buy tuna in oil. What would you rather have, oil or water when the price is the same. Duh! I always found use for the oil. I used it to fry eggs if nothing else.
The jalapenos or pickles are to add the tang which many seafood dishes need. I once went to a locally famous chowder place in Orange County, CA. It’s The Crab Cooker on the Balboa Peninsula. The chowder was good but it cried out for vinegar. They didn’t have any. Can you imagine a seafood place that doesn’t have vinegar? But that’s Orange County, a place not famous for its restaurants.
Monday, November 13, 2006
WATERGATE WAS MY FAULT
But think about it.
Leaders don’t want to legalize the killing off of leaders because that would amount to suicide for some. They would much rather send hordes of commoners to their deaths, in effect, to defend themselves.
I think most people would agree that the assassination of Hitler at any time before or during the war would have saved countless lives. But that is probably an aberration. It is such a clear example of how an assassination would have been beneficial it probably shouldn’t be put into the equation.
In the other theatre, there was no single person whose elimination would have changed the course of the Japanese. Their entire leadership, including the Emperor, supported their war aims. We did, in effect, assassinate their leading military strategist, Admiral Yamamoto. In the end, Truman had to kill off a hundred thousand Japanese civilians to get their attention.
Idi Amin has been accused of killing of as many as 500,000 of his own people when he was bossman in Uganda. Knocking him off may have saved many lives but perhaps not. I am not familiar with African politics and the order of succession. But it probably wouldn’t have hurt.
Saddam Hussein would probably have been succeeded by one of his whacko sons if he had been terminated. On the other hand a message would have been sent. Not just to Iraq but around the world. Behave responsibly or face the consequences.
What does this have to do with me and Watergate? I’m getting to that.
In 1972 I was an unpaid “operative” for the Democratic Party. A good friend of mine was a National Committeewoman. I fed her some of my writing concerning the Presidential Campaign then going on. It pleased me greatly when sections of what I had written would turn up verbatim in a national speech by some prominent Democrat.
One of the things I wrote and sent along contained the phrase, “Richard Nixon is a man completely without principle.” I was delighted when Larry O’Brien, then the head of the DNC, used that phrase in a speech the same week. I understood Nixon. He was one of the most despicable men of that era. I knew that phrase would infuriate him because it was such a perfect description of him.
Shortly afterwards O’Brien’s offices in the Watergate were burglarized by Nixon’s men. Nixon’s motives for that had nothing to do with the presidential campaign, he had that sewed up. He wanted to get something on O’Brien, that’s why he sent in those burglars. He wanted to get even. That’s the way he was.
Now I don’t know if O’Brien got that phrase from me. I like to think he did but I know that he probably didn’t. It was a widely held belief that Nixon was unprincipled.
But the point is that there cannot be a national policy of assassination when such an unprincipled man can take over the reins of the government of The United States.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
They won’t discuss rules?
Okay. Make it clear that they will be establishing rules of engagement by their actions. What they do becomes a rule. We can now do that. They take no prisoners? Too bad. Now we don’t either. Beheading? We can do that. Why not?
Many people will argue that will lower us to the level of the opponents. What bullshit! Ask any of the guys who came out of serious fighting, especially against the Japanese in the pacific. You do what you have to and then you forget about it.
Will the human rights organizations object? You bet your sweet ass they will. But they will only object to us because they know if they went to the other guys, those other guys would cut off their balls and stuff them into the mouth of their decapitated head.
So let’s set up rules for the referee, since the human rights organizations seem to want that role. Let them show good faith and objectivity. Let them prove that they make as much effort to condemn the actions of each side. Let them show they believe that laws apply to everyone.
Friday, November 10, 2006
LADIES ONLY BAR? AN OUTRAGE!
Well, being one of Bangkok’s undesirables, I am outraged! What the hell did I come to Bangkok for if not the freedom to grope? That is man’s inalienable right! Just as the Puritans went to the new World for freedom of religion, I came to Bangkok for freedom to grope. And now they have bars to hide away in? That is against the laws of nature!
Besides, women love to be groped, especially by us guys who are three times their age and twice their weight. That is a scientific fact! You can check with Borat.
I would go on a groping expedition to crash that bar a straighten things out but the girl at the door would beat me up before I got in.
Seriously though, there is a lot in the article that surprised me. Bangkok seemed to me to be the most tolerant place in the world for confused sexual orientation. Yet the author of the article wrote, “Just years ago Thailand officially labeled homosexuality a mental illness.”
But I see a lot of it around me. There is a club just down the road from me called The Golden Dome that features an all “girly-boy” revue. It seems to do great business.
I took my friend, Alvin Duskin, to a top restaurant here in which our “waitress” was one of the two transvestites they employ (among dozens of other waiters and waitresses).
I have always thought, perhaps erroneously, that Bangkok was a hub for Western lesbians. Maybe that was because they reacted so negatively when I groped them.
(For those of you confused, I have switched back into humor again. But maybe if I have to identify it, it’s not humor.)
The perfect solution to these “ladies only” bars would be a bar that catered to “Bangkok’s undesirables” like me. I would open one up but, unfortunately, there seem to be thousands here already.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I THOUGHT I WAS DYING
So what to do?
Go see a doctor? Go to a hospital?
That’s crazy! You know what you find in doctor’s offices and hospitals? Sick people, that’s what. The last thing I want to be around when I’m dying is sick people. They depress me. I don’t want to be depressed when I’m dying. Besides, I might catch something.
So what to do?
Years ago I told my wife of 17 years, “When I know I’m dying I’ll start smoking cigars again. That’s how you’ll know.” But my addiction to nicotine finally ended. I had no desire for a cigar.
So what to do?
Ah! I had the perfect solution. I had a half bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label I’d been saving for a special occasion. That’s what I’d do. I wouldn’t want to leave that to the gigolo who would move in after I died as surely as night follows day.
So I drank it, partly in celebration of my demise and partly to screw up the inheritance.
And then the worst thing happened.
I didn’t die.
What a lousy turn of events.
Those symptoms weren’t repeated and, even worse, I felt fine.
I drank up all that Blue Label for nothing.
Those are the kinds of dirty tricks life plays on you.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN
This from the New York Times:
BEIT HANUN, Gaza Strip, Nov. 8 — Israeli tank shells killed 18 Palestinians, including eight children and six women, at a cluster of houses here on Wednesday, one of the largest single losses of life in Gaza in years.Read the entire article *HERE*.
From the AP:
…18 members of a family, including eight children, were killed in an Israeli artillery barrage on a densely populated Gaza neighborhood.
Read the article *HERE*.
From the Guardian:
The rest of it is *HERE*.
Yesterday's victims were all civilians and mostly women and children. Their deaths will fan the flames of a conflagration in danger of getting out of control.
Thirteen members of one extended family were killed and the dead included seven children and four women, residents and the Palestinian Health Ministry said.*HERE* is the rest of it.
(I added all the bold.)
So why am I confused? Because these news organizations never report how many women and children were killed when a suicide bomber blows themselves up in an Israeli pizza parlor or a bus. They will report total casualties but never break the figure down. That seems as if they are slanting the news to gain more sympathy for the Palestinians. What could be the reason for this? Why would a news organization slant the news?
Could it be they are afraid of Muslim reprisals if their reporting doesn’t favor the Muslims? We all know the Muslims are capable of reprisals, don’t we?
In that case it would simply be cowardice. That I can understand. Only a fool has never been afraid.
Or could it be that the Muslims insist on favorable reporting for a news organization to remain in their area of control?
In that case it would simply be business. Just like the Mafia, it is nothing personal. It is just business.
Either way, they seem to be slanting the news. Either way, they have a good reason.
TAKING THE ENEMY’S CAMP
Later, at Shiloh, the Confederates did the same thing when they overran the Union camps, giving Grant’s forces time to withdraw and establish strong defensive positions.
It is understandable that green soldiers would not know what to do next after taking the enemy’s camp.
I was reminded of this when I heard Howard Dean being interviewed on CNN the day before the election. He was asked what programs would be put forward if the Democrats won. He replied that he couldn’t know that until they had won. Even after being pressed, that was the gist of his response. They will figure out the next move after they get in.
I think it’s good for America that the Dems won. We need a two party system. But winning might turn out to be disastrous for the Democratic Party. If they behave responsibly they will alienate the wacky left, the Daily Kos and Democratic Underground types. Without their help they could not have won this last election. On the other hand, if they cater to the wackos, it might be decades before they win another national election.
This will be interesting to watch.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
FOOD IN THAILAND
There are a wide variety of international restaurants all over the place downtown. I live a long way from downtown. Sometimes I get a three day supply of sandwiches from Subway. We can get some excellent barbecued chicken nearby. Man cannot live on barbecued chicken alone, although I tried.
So I explored and made some discoveries. The major discovery is that prime beef is often available at under a dollar a pound. The catch is, you have to know what prime beef looks like. It is sold in a supermarket as generic beef and there is not a great demand for it in a Buddhist culture. So if you can recognize the marbling that indicates prime beef, you can get some excellent cuts.
Also the Thai canned pasta sauce, called Dusita is incredible. It is cheaper than the American Prego brand but they do not compare. (I compared them.) The number one ingredient, according to the label on the Thai sauce, is onions at 18%. Sausage and carrots are tied at 7% each. Prego looks like catsup by comparison.
So that’s a pretty good start. We’ve got prime beef and a pasta sauce.
I’m not going to starve.
CHRIS SHELTON AND THE TIGER COLLAPSE
So what happened?
It might be a coincidence, but on July 31 the team sent 1st baseman Chris Shelton to the minors and traded a rookie relief pitcher for Sean Casey of the Pirates to play 1st base. Chris Shelton had carried the Tigers in the early season. He had set an American league record by hitting 9 home runs in the first 13 games. Then his power fell off. He only hit 6 HRs in his next 70 games.
Sean Casey is a popular player in the clubhouse but he is a Bill Buckner type on the field. That is to say he is slow, has not much power, is not a good fielder, but usually hits for a decent average. Unfortunately he also looked out of shape.
It’s interesting to note that, while Shelton hit 9 HRs in the first 13 games, Casey only hit 8 for the season in 112 games.
Also, for the month of July, the “slumping” Shelton hit .288 with an on-base-pct of .363 and slugging of .388. That gave him an OPS of .751. Not bad for a player in a deep slump.
Casey, the rescuer, for the remainder of the season hit .245 with an on-base-pct of .288 and a slugging of .364. That gave him an OPS of .652 in 53 games. Some rescue.
Maybe that had something to do with the Tiger slump.
FREEDOM FINALLY IN SOUTH KOREA
Miniskirts no longer a crime in South Korea
Seoul, South Korea
02 November 2006 05:22
South Korea's "fashion police", who prowled the streets in the 1970s measuring the length of women's skirts, will soon officially be consigned to oblivion.Showing too much skin in public places will no longer be classed as indecent exposure and will be deleted from the Minor Offence Act, the National Police Agency has said.
You can read the entire article *HERE*.
I must confess I cried when I read that. As you all know, I have been campaigning for years to free our South Korean sisters from these primitive clothing shackles. At last my hard work has paid off. They can now walk in public with heads held high and with hems raised like civilized women everywhere in the Western World. And men can cry out, “We see thighs at last, thighs at last.”
They were going to name the new law after me but, unfortunately, all they did was delete an old law. There was talk of raising a statue of me in downtown Seoul, but I asked them not to.
I’m a modest guy.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
SEX IN AMERICA
This is from Reuters:
You can read the entire article *HERE*.
Men's testosterone levels declined in last 20 years
Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:23pm ET
By Anne Harding
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study has found a "substantial" drop in U.S. men's testosterone levels since the 1980s, but the reasons for the decline remain unclear. This trend also does not appear to be related to age.
The average levels of the male hormone dropped by 1 percent a year, Dr. Thomas Travison and colleagues from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, found. This means that, for example, a 65-year-old man in 2002 would have testosterone levels 15 percent lower than those of a 65-year-old in 1987. This also means that a greater proportion of men in 2002 would have had below-normal testosterone levels than in 1987.
"The entire population is shifting somewhat downward we think," Travison told Reuters Health. "We're counting on other studies to confirm this."
They hypothesized that the rising prevalence of obesity as well as the sharp decline in cigarette smoking might help explain their findings, given that testosterone levels are lower among overweight people and smoking increases testosterone levels. But these factors accounted for only a small percentage of the observed difference.
It's likely that some sort of environmental exposure is responsible for the testosterone decline, Travison said, although he said attempting to explain what this might be based on the current findings would be "pure conjecture."
"I think like most things that are complex, it's likely that there is no one cause," he said.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, January 2007.
Wow, what a mystery. And they looked everywhere and couldn’t find any clues. This then is a group of researchers who are, by definition, CLUELESS.
Okay. I’ll help them out. Here are the findings of a Stanford study:
The Porn BusinessThis is a very interesting article. You can read it all *HERE*.
Sex sells. As the number one income generator on the Internet today, pornography is a ripe business that will continue to grow along with the advancement of technology. With a reported annual growth rate of 40% since 1997, and the status of being the most queried subject on search engines, pornography is a thriving industry and one of the only successful e-businesses.
Then there is this report from two years ago by CBS News:
Porn In The U.S.A.This is another interesting report. You can read it all *HERE*.
Steve Kroft Reports On A $10 Billion Industry
Sept. 5, 2004
(CBS) Selling sex is one of the oldest businesses in the world, and right now, business has never been better. One of the biggest cultural changes in the United States over the past 25 years has been the widespread acceptance of sexually explicit material - pornography. In the space of a generation, a product that once was available in the back alleys of big cities has gone corporate, delivered now directly into homes and hotel rooms by some of the biggest companies in the United States
So those researchers into testosterone levels looked everywhere for a cause, except into the sexual habits of the American people. Do you think that might have something to do with it?
In a related story, here is an article from Slate:
How the Web Prevents RapeYou can read this article *HERE*.
All that Internet porn reduces sex crimes. Really.
By Steven E. LandsburgPosted Monday, Oct. 30, 2006, at 2:22 PM ET
Does pornography breed rape? Do violent movies breed violent crime? Quite the opposite, it seems.
First, porn. What happens when more people view more of it? The rise of the Internet offers a gigantic natural experiment. Better yet, because Internet usage caught on at different times in different states, it offers 50 natural experiments.
The bottom line on these experiments is, "More Net access, less rape." A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.