Wednesday, December 27, 2006


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Sunday, December 24, 2006


Thai children watch an elephant dressed as Santa spin a hoola hoop on its trunk.

Photo from Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 23, 2006


PICTURE: "LOL? What do you mean by that? Are you calling me a name? Are you saying I'm a little old lady?" Posted by Picasa


Here’s a little piece in today’s The Corner.

MALDEF's president informs me that his group wasn't at the deportation-equals -Nazism press conference, as the Reuters story I linked to implied. Instead, as the San Antonio paper's coverage made clear,the conference was hosted only by "LULAC President Rosa Rosales and local community-activist organizations."
Posted at 1:48 PM

No I’m not leaving anything out. How many people in the world would have any idea what the hell that was about? Of course you could look up the RE and the links - if your interest is tweaked. That’s a big IF.

And those acronyms. We are being buried in those things. Luckily there is a site on the web called The Acronym Finder. That thing is so useful I will put a link to it on this site.

Just for fun I looked up MALDEF. That is Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. LULAC? That is League of United Latin American Citizens. You really have to be deep into that stuff to know what’s going on. Who could answer a quiz on that?

The other day there was a piece about Warren Bell getting a nomination to the CPB. Now I know of Warren Bell and we exchange notes occasionally, but I’m getting old and forgetful and those letters (CPB) meant nothing to me. I had to look it up. Here are the Acronym Finder’s first choices:

Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa Decemlineata)

Canada Premium Bonds

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Communist Party of Britain

There were quite a few more choices. The correct answer, I deduced, was C. That’s pretty funny when you have a multiple choice.

I keep seeing LOL on notes and correspondence. I’ve never figured out what that means so I looked it up. Evidently there are a few meanings such as:

Laugh Out Loud

Love of Life

Lots of Love

Lots of Luck

Little Old Lady

There are many more which are probably irrelevant. That’s the order on the list which might be the order of usage.

Evidently when someone writes that on a note it can mean anything they want it to mean.

That’s convenient.

Friday, December 22, 2006


MERRY CHRISTMAS Posted by Picasa


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There have been discussions about reviving the draft, most recently in The Washington Post which you can read *HERE*. I have some views and observations on the subject.

When I first went to Vietnam in 1962 there were only a couple of thousand Americans, civilian and military, in the country. I was surprised that some of the military were draftees. I thought that was totally wrong. We had a fairly large standing army at the time. What was the point of sending draftees to a war zone when plenty of professional were available?

Another thing that irked me, actually outraged me, was to see American women over there. Why? Because I knew if there was ever an evacuation they would take the women first. The presence of American women in a war zone cut down my chances of survival. Never mind combat, women should never be allowed anywhere there is a remote chance of evacuation. Their very presence cuts down the chance of men making it out alive.

What does that have to do with the draft? Maybe nothing. But maybe if all the women were put in administrative jobs in the States, it would free up men for the combat zone. I don’t give a damn about Political Correctness. The PC people will bang their heads on this one. It is the same PC that insists women should be in combat that would say they should be evacuated first if it came to that. Those two schemes cannot co-exist. Enough of that. I’m still pissed about Vietnam.

Here’s a good question: If they start up the draft again, will they have the same requirements to be drafted as they have for enlisting? You can read the requirements for enlisting *HERE*. Note that they require high school education or equivalent. I enlisted at the age of 17. I wouldn’t be eligible today. I was expelled from high school. So, if they keep the same requirements, all a guy has to do is drop out of high school and he beats the draft?

Of course my question was rhetorical but it points out a basic flaw in the system, which is the requirement for a high school education. It would be silly to have that requirement in order to be drafted. So it is silly to have it as a requirement for enlistment.

Why not give kids a second chance? I detested school but I thrived in the military. There may be tens of thousands of kids out there like I was. They worry about the time needed to train properly? Okay, here’s an answer for that. If the education requirement is waived, the guy has to sign up for a longer hitch, say six years. Problem solved. He turns out to be a discipline problem? They get weeded out in basic training. Three guys in my group of 60 didn’t make it when I took basic. I think very few of them had HS diplomas.

The PC people will knock heads on this one also. “It will mean more minorities will do the fighting!” Yeah, so?

It will also get a lot of kids out of the ghetto.

Thursday, December 21, 2006



This from Bangkok’s newspaper The Nation.

Cold snap claims first victim

A 38-year-old man died of exposure yesterday in Muang district of the northern city after drinking alcohol and falling asleep without a blanket, a doctor said. Ashi Silao, a planter for a tree shop, is the first casualty of the cold weather this year. He was found dead in a T-shirt and trousers.

I’m sorry about the guy dying but what perfect weather we’re having. We haven’t used our air conditioners in more than a week. At night it gets below 70. This winter here is like a mild summer in Southern California.

Now I’m starting to worry about Global Cooling. Maybe we should start encouraging polluters since that seems to be our only control of the weather.


I was walking through a mall with a Thai friend and wanted to brag about the women flirting with me.

“Wow,” I said, “you should see the looks I’m getting.”

“Sure,” he replied instantly. “They know you have money.”

That’s what friends are for, I guess.

Isn’t it?


My Thai family has gone bonkers over spaghetti. Even the little one, who is a reluctant eater, scarfs it down. We have many different sauces to put on it.

They also like hot dogs. There is a Thai produced German sausage here that is excellent.

I have learned to cook beef in the microwave. I use an igloo shaped plastic contraption that fits over everything in the oven. They are common in Bangkok and might be found anywhere.

Put a thawed 2 pound roast in a bowl and oil everything down before putting it in the microwave. Leave it uncovered but put the igloo-shaped contraption over everything with the vents closed. Set the microwave to defrost for 10 minutes. Turn the roast and put it back for another 5 minutes, still on defrost. Then turn it again.

To see if you’re getting close, cut down the center with a knife. You’re looking for a pinkish but cooked color for the best results. If it’s too raw cook it another 5 minutes, always on defrost. Repeat until satisfied. I got great results from this.

Remember, contrary to folk legends, microwaves heat from the outside in. Larger roasts might get too well-done outside before the inside is done.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


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I am bad at sourcing quotes. Either that or the quotes I remember are so unimportant they are forgotten. I thought it was John Stuart Mill who said something like: “I would claim no right for my country that I would not immediately grant to all other countries.” In looking through his quotes I could not find it, nor could I find it being said by anyone else. I won’t claim that one for myself though. That one is too good for me.

Here’s one that I know is mine because I’m composing it as I write:

“Any country that makes laws or commits acts that are discriminatory towards American citizens or property should have the same laws or acts applied to their citizens or property.”

I thought of that when the Japanese were letting American produce rot on their docks in an underhanded effort to discourage imports. It’s disgraceful that the United States took no action. If they turned around one boatload of Hondas all of that crap would have ended in a flash. They don’t want to import US beef? Okay, we’ll quit buying you motor bikes until you change your mind.

Then I started thinking about that again when all this immigration conflict began. The Mexicans, in particular, complain about US immigration laws and how they are enforced. Even the president of Mexico has criticized US laws.

Okay, here’s a solution that is sure to satisfy the Mexican contingent involved in that stuff. Why not adopt Mexican immigration laws to apply to Mexicans in the US? Just adopt all the immigration laws on the books in Mexico or perhaps just what is in the Mexican constitution. What could be more fair that that?

There is even some precedent because a United States Supreme Court Justice recently cited a foreign law when writing an opinion. So it is a small step to adopt their law.

What is their law? A guy did some research for The Institute of World Politics. Here is some of what he found:

By J. Michael Waller

Mexico's constitution expressly forbids non-citizens to participate in the country's political life.

The Mexican constitution denies fundamental property rights to foreigners. If foreigners wish to have certain property rights, they must renounce the protection of their own governments or risk confiscation. Foreigners are forbidden to own land in Mexico within 100 kilometers of land borders or within 50 kilometers of the coast. Article 27 states,

The Mexican constitution denies equal employment rights to immigrants, even legal ones, in the public sector. Article 32: "Mexicans shall have priority over foreigners under equality of circumstances for all classes of concessions and for all employment, positions, or commissions of the Government in which the status of citizenship is not indispensable. In time of peace no foreigner can serve in the Army nor in the police or public security forces."

The Mexican constitution guarantees that immigrants will never be treated as real Mexican citizens, even if they are legally naturalized.

The Mexican constitution forbids immigrants and naturalized citizens to become members of the clergy. Article 130 says, "To practice the ministry of any denomination in the United Mexican States it is necessary to be a Mexican by birth."

The Mexican constitution singles out "undesirable aliens." Article 11 guarantees federal protection against "undesirable aliens resident in the country."

The Mexican constitution states that foreigners may be expelled for any reason and without due process. According to Article 33, "the Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose remaining he may deem inexpedient to abandon the national territory immediately and without the necessity of previous legal action."

The entire article is *here*.

So what’s wrong with adopting their laws and treating Mexican citizens the way American citizens are treated in Mexico? What could be fairer than that?

Am I missing something here?


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


When I reached my destination, a future construction site, there was a French construction camp, fully built, right alongside. They were there to build a damn which they hadn’t started on yet, being too busy building their camp. I noticed a beauty shop while driving through their camp. They have quite a different culture.

I had to go and pay my respects to the French project manager so he would know what I was doing in the area and so he could anticipate the huge influx that would follow me. It was also in my mind that we might be treated as chance visitors to American construction camps were treated. In the American camps we would greet and treat lowly backpackers as if they were royalty, providing them with food and housing for as long as they wished to stay. Crazy Americans.

In contrast, French were quite reserved. They hesitantly said they could put me up but not my Greek companion. Being an American that, of course, left me no choice. We were both thrown on the local economy.

The local civilization was a village called Rudbar. It can be found on the map below to the west-northwest of Qazvin. Luckily the village had a hotel. Many villages that size did not, but it was on a route to the Caspian Sea used by truckers. The hotel was located at the bottom of a deep canyon. (Years later I heard that much of Rudbar was wiped out by an earthquake. No doubt it was that portion in the bottom of that canyon. Iran was the worst place for earth tremblers I had ever been, and I was raised in San Francisco.)

It was a two story hotel with perhaps eight rooms. We were given a large room on the bottom that had a dirt floor. The “rest room” was a hole in the ground outside. I noticed squashed bed bugs on the bed linen and asked for clean sheets.

“But these are clean,” the hotel manager protested. “They have only been slept on once.” He reluctantly changed them.

There was only one place we could park our vehicle: the police compound. Every police outpost in these kinds of villages was surrounded by walls. Our equipment and supplies would be safe there. We gave them food and money in exchange.

My orders were to phone our headquarters in Tehran if and when we found the construction site. When I asked to use ‘the’ phone, I was directed to a building close by. This was the phone building. It contained the only phone in the village. The entire function of that building was to house that one phone. The phone sat on a table in the middle of a large room as if it was some kind of an idol.

We actually got through to our main office. The connection was pretty bad. They seemed amazed that I really called. They had never heard of Rudbar but thought that was a funny name. That was the extent of our conversation.

I finished my site survey in a week and headed back to Tehran. That was the first one I had done. They were so pleased at the result that I was given the job of site investigation for keeps. I went out first and alone to every new construction site to do surveys and scout around.

Lucky me.


ROADMAP: This is the area written about in the preceding and following pieces. Qazvin is west of Tehran and Hamadan is in the lower left corner. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 18, 2006


My previous post about driving through Iran barely touched upon it. I wrote it May 14, 2005. You can read it *HERE* (scroll down). I didn’t do it justice. That was one of the great adventures in my life. That and rerouting the railroad in the Peruvian Andes (which I also haven’t mentioned much) both happened before I was 30. Good times.

The company I worked for in Iran (Morrison Knudson) got these construction projects in far flung places and needed some useful idiot to go out to investigate the sites. Good thing I was available. A lot of smarter idiots would have turned the job down.

My job was to locate a camp site convenient to the project and do a complete survey on a prospective landing strip and later do the design for it. I also operated heavy equipment during its construction, but that was later. Also useful on the assignment was finding and mapping aggregate deposits, which meant sand and gravel for concrete, not to mention water. Fun times.

The only way to do it was to drive out of Tehran to these sites because they were remote and I needed equipment which was unattainable anywhere not to mention that car rentals at a provincial airport was unheard of.

So I set off in a station wagon packed with equipment and enough packaged and canned goods to feed me a month. (The food items were useful for barter and gifts.) With me was a little Greek chap who was an amazing linguist and who could also drive. In the area to which we were going, many languages were spoken. My little friend never let me down.

The first lesson implanted on me was that you must fill your gas tank at every station because the next station was about ¾ of a tank away. The first gas on our trip was in Qazvin, west of Tehran. We had to search for the station because there was only one and it wasn’t on the main road.

(To digress a bit: Some years later a Communist leader came to America and commented, “What a waste of assets,” when he saw gas stations on all four corners of an intersection. At the time, I agreed with him, as any good liberal/socialist would. But now I know that’s wacky. That kind of thinking caused the long lines for, and the rationing of, toilet paper in some countries. If the free market couldn’t support a gas station on all four corners of an intersection they wouldn’t exist.)

Needless to say, the oil industry was then and is now a state owned monopoly in Iran. Much to my surprise, there were no long lines at the gas station, although the next station was about 200 kilometers away in any direction.

We left the “main road” at Qazvin and headed northwest toward the Caspian Sea on a secondary road. When we arrived at the site of our future project there was a French construction camp adjacent to it. They were just about to start building a damn there. Although I couldn’t see any work having been done on the damn, their permanent camp was just about finished. That was not the way American projects were run. We always started on the project immediately while living in tents. The permanent camp was given low priority.

To be continued… For an excellent full road map of Iran go *HERE*.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


PICTURE: The Boo Ali Circle, Hamadan, Iran, in more modern times. The hotel might be one of those buildings, but I don't think so. Posted by Picasa


In writing the following piece I was reminded of a hotel I stayed at in Hamedan, Iran. I recalled that the name of the place was Boo Ali. It was nearly 50 years ago so I wondered if that could really have been the name. The memory can play tricks and the name did seem odd. But in this modern day of googling it’s easy to look things up. And there it was:

Tel: 81-33070, 33071
Fax: 81-33072
Activity: Hotel services

There really is a hotel by that name in Hamedan (my spell-check says it’s Hamadan but I’ll go with what they use here). You can see for yourself *HERE*.

It was perhaps the most remarkable hotel I have ever stayed in. It was like staying in a large Persian museum. Everything looked very, very expensive. All the furniture seemed to be antique. Thick carpeting covered walls as well as the floor. Ancient armor lined the hallways separated by luxurious, old furniture.

It cost five dollars a night to stay there but the hotel was almost empty. There was very little traffic on the roads in those days so there were few travelers.

There is no point to this piece except to brag about my memory.


Fanatics of one persuasion would say, "She's not a Muslim. Kill her."
Fanatics of another persuasion would say, "She's not a Christian. Condemn her to hell."
What a crazy world. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006


Notice how closely Islam's inception is associated with war. From 623 to 777, a span of 154 years, there are 83 military conflicts involving the Muslims...and that is just what I have recorded here. Is Islam a religion of peace? Muslims tell me it is. But....

So begins a page titled “The Chronology of Early Islam.” The dates and battles are listed. The Prophet Muhammad himself led the Muslim army in more than 20 of the battles. Most encyclopedias note that he was a general as well as a religious leader. Many describe him as a ‘brilliant general’ or words to that effect.

Has there ever been another founder of a religion referred to thusly? Has there ever been another religious founder even involved in warfare?

I am no expert, (and I eschew research) but I doubt it. (There is only a handful to choose from after all.)

Do not the two (teaching morality and warfare) seem mutually exclusive?

Somehow I cannot picture Christ or Buddha going around saying, “Believe in my god or I will kill you.”

But that’s pretty much what Muhammad did. He made them an offer they could not refuse. Put me back there and I would have converted in a heartbeat.

“Let’s see. What are my choices? Oh yeah. Love Allah or die. Hey man, I’ve always loved Allah. Allah’s my guy. I’ve just been fakin’ it with them Zoroastrians.”

Some choice.

(I must repeat here that far more people have been killed in the name of the Christian religion than have been killed by Muslims. But the Christians have been around longer.)

So Islam, in the beginning was a religion dependent on warfare, based on warfare. Had it not been taken over by navel contemplators, Islam might have ruled the world long ago.

The same thing, (being taken over by navel contemplators) happened to the Christian religion. That period is called The Dark Ages. It came about when most Christian religious leaders decided that all the knowledge necessary for life was contained in the bible. Other knowledge was superfluous. Books were burned and independent thought was shut down.

Islam is now in its dark age. Many, if not most, of its leaders believe that only knowledge the Koran is necessary to live life. Many of their schools teach only that. Much independent thought has been shut down.

Trouble is, they start to look around and see where that has got them. They are so far behind the western world it will take them decades to catch up.

What to Do?

There are only two choices for them:

1. Modernize Islam.

2. Bring the rest of the world down to their level.

Being a religion founded on warfare, the second was their natural choice. A majority of Muslims would favor that, even though many will not own up to it.

Too bad for them and for us. It is a choice they cannot win but it will be a long time before they learn that. Always remember, ignorance is on their side. Hate is on their side. Ignorance and hate are powerful weapons in war.

Also on their side is a lack of understanding in the west. Much of Europe and a large element in The United States do not recognize the problem. We have been doing much less than fighting them with one arm tied behind our back. So far we have been fighting them with two fingers of our left hand.

But even if we were totally mobilized, I don’t think we could defeat them. Their organizations will come and go, springing up here and there. It will be like that game, Whack-a-Mole. But sooner or later, one of them will have that suitcase nuke. Iran will see to that. So it won’t be a fun game.

In the end this is a Muslim problem. Only the Muslims will be able to solve it. They can only solve it by going for choice one above. Still it will take decades. One American general estimated a century

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


PICTURE: I confess I sometimes look at pretty girls on the internet. I am a bad person. Someone please stop me. I need counseling among other things too numerous and evil to mention. I sometimes try to decide which one is the best. Then I get all confused. So many girls and so little time. Posted by Picasa


More than 40 years ago the San Francisco Giants brought a pitcher from Japan. Here is the story about that:

Relief pitcher Masanori Murakami can roughly be described as "the Jackie Robinson of Japanese baseball." Murakami, from Otsuki, Japan, was the first player from that nation to appear on a major league roster, albeit briefly. Though Murakami only appeared in 54 games for the San Francisco Giants from 1964 to 1965, his legacy as a baseball pioneer cannot be denied. Murakami's abbreviated appearance in the States, and his eventual return to Japanese baseball, is a story shrouded in mystery and international intrigue. Ironically, after Murakami, the U.S. would not see another Japanese player in its major leagues for another thirty years.
The rest of that article is *HERE*.

There is no mystery about what happened. Anyone who followed baseball at the time knows what happened. The Japanese totally welshed on the deal that brought Murakami to the States. The previous owners of the pitcher, giving a Gallic shrug, said, “You do not sell a major league pitcher for (X).” (X) being whatever the previous owner received for the rights to Murakami. The previous owners were probably shocked by the success Murakami had in American baseball. They then unilaterally reclaimed the pitcher, in effect stealing him back from his legitimate owners. They undoubtedly had the approval of the Japanese government in doing this.

The protests of the baseball people were quashed by the US State Department in the interest of international relations. That is why there was no Japanese player in its major leagues for another thirty years. The Americans had learned they could not trust the Japanese. Mystery solved!

Now the Red Sox are in negotiations with another Japanese pitcher. Here is some of the story:

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and agent Scott Boras, philosophically worlds apart in the Daisuke Matsuzaka negotiations, put aside their differences at the 11th hour and are near completing a multiyear deal for the coveted Japanese pitcher. The Globe's Gordon Edes has confirmed that the sides have reached a preliminary agreement on a $52 million, six-year contract, including escalators that could bring the total as high as $60 million.
The entire article is *HERE*.

Missing from the article is the fact that Matsuzaka has two more years to go on his contract in Japan for which he is paid 2 million a year. The Red Sox paid 51+ million dollars just for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, none of which can go to the pitcher. If the Red Sox do not reach an agreement with the pitcher, all that money, 51+ million dollars, must be returned to them.

Wouldn’t it be great if they can’t come to an agreement and the Japanese have to return the money and Matsuzaka has to go back to working for a lousy 2 mil a year? Wouldn’t that be perfect revenge for what they did in the Murakami incident?

Yes, I’m still pissed off about that.

I’m still pissed off about Pearl Harbor too.

UPDATE: They came to an agreement:

Daisuke Matsuzaka's six-year, $52 million contract was announced Thursday by the Boston Red Sox, who hope he will follow Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez as an ace on the Fenway Park mound.

Add the team's winning $51.11 million bid for negotiating rights to the Japanese ace, which must be paid to the Seibu Lions by Dec. 21, and Boston's investment comes to $103.11 million. That doesn't include $8 million in escalators based on Matsuzaka winning awards.

Read the story *HERE*.


These are the two stars in the movie The Candidate. Can you guess which one is Peter Boyle? Posted by Picasa


This from Forbes:

Peter Boyle, the actor who played the hilariously grouchy father on "Everybody Loves Raymond" as the final note of a distinguished career that also included a memorable role in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein," has died. He was 71.

This is one of many obits *HERE*.

I could never watch him without thinking of the “disguise” he wore in a great movie. I’m talking about when he was in the 1972 movie The Candidate which starred Robert Redford. Boyle played the clever, manipulative campaign manager who, much to his and everyone else’s surprise, got a sure loser (Redford) elected.

Boyle co-starred in that movie. It was the role of a lifetime. Yet hardly anyone in the general public knew he was even in it. Why? Because he wore a heavy beard throughout so no one could recognize his face. What a disastrous career decision that was.

I wear a beard because I’ve grown old and I want to hide all the evidence of a misspent life that has warped my face. The beard is my disguise. It prevents people from seeing the person I really am.

But an actor makes his living for the most part by getting recognized by the public. I think the beard Boyle wore did serious harm to his career.

But that’s just my opinion.


These are some old acquaintances. The guy who captured me in the story below looked a lot like this. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I gotta tell you about the time I was captured in Vietnam. This happened in ’67 while I was working on the railroad spur into Cam Ranh Bay. I wrote about that in A Cobra Finds Me. No, it didn’t happen while we were out in the boonies in a free fire zone. It happened on the highway to Nha Trang.

The US contractor (RMK-BRJ) at Cam Ranh Bay had loaned us a pickup for use in our railroad design. They told us we couldn’t take it off base after dark. Well Cam Ranh Bay was one of the most perfect harbors in the world, but there wasn’t much civilian type civilization going on there, if you get my meaning. A friend and I drove to Nha Trang one night. Nha Trang was maybe 30 miles to the north. They had some kinds of adult recreation going on there. We found a bar loaded with booze and girls. It was no surprise. It was kinda’ the point of the mission.

We both got pretty soused, if you can believe that. When it came time to leave, my friend refused.

“I’ve fallen in love,” he explained.

I could believe that because it had happened before to him. In fact it happened nearly every time we went out together. He was a very loving guy.

“We gotta go back,” I told him.

“You go,” he said. “I’ll catch a ride in the morning.”

It was no use arguing with him. When he was in love it was like an elephant in musth. And if you could see him, you’d know how apt that description is.

So I took off back to the base without him. Little did I know that someone had stolen the radiator cap of the pickup. Without the radiator cap the water evaporated and the engine overheated. Half smashed myself, I drove until the engine just bound up and stopped. There I was, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a war, and on a deserted road in the middle of the way between Nha Trang and Cam Ranh Bay.

I had to make a decision in my drunken state. I decided to walk the rest of the way to Cam Ranh Bay. How long would it take? 15 miles? I thought I could do that in maybe 4 hours. So I started out.

It was pitch black. I had gone less than a mile before someone in black pajamas rose out of the side of the road. This guy had an assault weapon trained on me. He was heavily armed with a pistol, grenades, knives and a cartridge belt.

What I did next wasn’t brave because I felt no fear whatsoever. Bravery is something you do despite being afraid. What did I do? I said, “Hey buddy, how ya’ doin’?” Now I didn’t know who the hell this guy was or who’s side he was on. I figured I was probably captured, but I felt no fear. I get fatalistic in those kinds of situations.

He marched me down the road until we came to self-defiance outpost. It turned out I was captured by our side. They let me sleep there on a cot and gave me water for the radiator in the morning and sent me on my way.

End of story.

Monday, December 11, 2006


"Frack, fuss, what's the difference? Just do me." Posted by Picasa


Scott Adams who authors the Dilbert comic strip also writes a daily blog. He’s been doing this for a couple of years. It is a regular stop for me. I read all the new and some of the old. (I got that phrase from a close friend in the service when he explained to me the advantages of wiping your butt with a corn cob. “It gets all the new and some of the old,” he bragged.) His blog (Scott Adams blog, not the guy from the service) is called simply The Dilbert Blog. I haven’t finished all of the old yet which I’m thankful for. Have you ever read a book so good that you’re sorry when you finished it? I’m going to have put a permanent link to his blog though it will profit me not. It’s for the benefit of my two readers. He gets a couple of hundred comments daily so he doesn’t really need any help from me.

The other day he had a post about the use of the word “frack” as an expletive aboard the Battlestar Galactica. This is part of what he writes:

Galactica is a military ship under continuous threat of annihilation by Cylons. If you were on that ship, you’d be cursing too. For example, you might be tempted to yell “frack!” when you discover that the hot chick who fracked your brains out is actually a frackin’ Cylon who is now pregnant with your frackin’ baby that is half human and half frackin’ toaster.
You can read the entire post *HERE*. It’s pretty funny with some social comment thrown in.

This reminded me of an experience I had back in Portola Junior High School (San Francisco). I had gotten into the habit of using the word “fuss” a lot. I would say for instance, “Don’t fuss around,” or, “Quit fussing around.” I said it to someone in front of a teacher in a Social Science class. She didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.

“What did you say?” She demanded of me.

I was genuinely surprised at her reaction. “I told him to quit fussin’ around,” I replied. I was a disciplinary problem at the school, which gave me a bad reputation but, unbeknownst to them, I was also exceptionally well read and meanings of word were very important to me. The kid was definitely fussing around and I told him to stop it. Why that would be a problem for the teacher eluded me.

She stared at me, trying to decide what to do. She couldn’t send me to the principal’s office for saying “fuss,” could she?

Finally she said, “Don’t ever use that word in my classroom again!”

I looked at my friend. “Fuss?” Then it finally occurred to me, she thought I was using “fuss” as a substitute for “fuck.” But that was completely wrong. My friend was fussing, he wasn’t fucking. I should have gone to the blackboard and drawn pictures for the teacher to explain the difference. How could she be teaching Social Science and not know the difference between fussing and fucking.

No wonder they expelled me a short time later. I was too smart for them.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Have you ever wondered what Howard Stern would look like if he had been born a woman? Probably not. Posted by Picasa


I once wrote in a comment to another blog that there were far more people killed in the name of Christianity than there were people killed in the name of Islam. The response to that was pretty funny. “Who have the Christians ever killed?” “He must be talking about the Nazis. Those weren’t Christian killings.” And so on until it was dismissed.

No, I hadn’t even thought about the Nazis; although now that you mention it…

The Jews bragged about their slaughters in the Old Testament. It seemed like 50,000 Philistines were slew on every page. (The poor Philistines, where are they today?)

The Christians, in a reversal of roles, could only mention how persecuted they were. The slaughters came later.

I will ignore the Crusades and the Inquisition among other things too numerous to count.

In the age of discovery, the pope divided the known world in half between Portugal and Spain. That was to avoid conflict between the two primary Catholic seafaring nations and to insure that all lands and peoples encountered came under the influence of the Catholic Church. Catholic priests accompanied almost all voyages.

Hence the adventures in South America. In South America alone, the Christians were responsible for more deaths than the Muslims could claim in their history. The reason given for the invasion of South America was to convert the savages to Chrisianity. The real reason was gold.

In more modern times, the French used the Christian Missionary ruse to expand their empire. They sent missionaries first to convert a number of the natives. At the first sign of problems, real or imagined, with the host regime, the French sent in their military and conquered the entire country. That is what happened in Indo-China which led to a war you may have heard about.

The Japanese were clever. They recognized the ruse and severely limited the operations of the missionaries, confining them to a single location and overseeing their behavior.

The point of this segment is that the Christians cannot take a holier than thou attitude toward the Muslims in the matter of converting by the sword.

Muslims have converted people by killing and conquest.

Christians have converted people by killing and conquest.

They have both done this.

They are much the same in this respect.

Friday, December 08, 2006


"Are you trying to say Islam is not the religion of peace?" Posted by Picasa


The Kurdish tribe mentioned previously was non-Arab Sunni Muslims living in Iran. (There are a few ethnic Iranian tribes of nomads but, for the most part, Iranians are non-tribal.) That Kurdish tribe had been battling other Kurdish and Arab tribes and the Persians (Iranians) off and on for thousands of years, since before they became Muslim. It is a testament to their fighting prowess that they are still in existence.

In the Arab world there are hundreds of tribes all of which, through necessity, are warlike and have a custom of fighting each other without a great deal of provocation. In Iraq there are 150 identifiable tribes. This is from Wikipedia:

Most Iraqis identify strongly with a tribe ('ashira), and nearly half of Iraqis are more loyal to their clans or tribes than to the national government. Thirty of the 150 or so identifiable tribes in Iraq are the most influential. Tribes are grouped into federations (qabila). Below the level of the tribe, there are the clan (fukhdh), the house (beit) and the extended family (khams).
You can read the entire entry *HERE*. This entry makes clear the problems of trying to put a Western (American) political system in the middle of an Arab civilization.

There are two excellent, true to life movies that depict reality in that region. The Man Who Would Be King starred Sean Connery and Michael Caine and was based on a Rudyard Kipling short story. The story parallels pretty much how Mohammed managed to conquer the region except Mohammed had nucleus of tribesmen around him while the Sean Connery character did not. Mohammed also linked his conquests to religion which gave him much more power over his followers.

Also, Mohammed was probably quite mad which inspired fear and superstition in the Arab tribesmen. That would explain all the contradictions in the Koran which allow people to interpret it any way they want. It would also help explain the heights of Arabic prose which I’m told he reached in his writings. A bi-polar personality can sometimes achieve some marvelous things on the up-swings.

The other movie that would aid in understanding the region is Lawrence Of Arabia. This is a marvelous depiction of the squabbling tribes which a semi-mad Brit could unite against the Turks. But in victory their squabbling results in not achieving their goals. Their squabbling results in their not having a voice in the victory conference.

Much of the identical problem can be seen in Iraq today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Absolutely shameful! A photo of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei is being disrespected. I am outraged! Posted by Picasa


This could be big news (from Pajama Media):

Three days ago, Iran’s dictator, Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei, was rushed to the vast medical facility traditionally known as “Vanak” hospital (it now has an Arabic name that means “the 12th Imam Hospital”), a 1,200-room facility that saves half of its beds for the leadership.

Khamenei is known to be suffering from cancer, and taking considerable quantities of an opium-based pain killer. He has lost more than 17 pounds in the past ten months, and was told last spring that he was unlikely to see another New Year (In the Iranian calendar, the New Year begins at the end of March).

Khamenei first complained of chills, and then broke out in a cold sweat. He lay down to rest, and began to lose feeling in his feet, at which point his aides got him to the hospital.

You can read the entire article *HERE*.

Strange that I haven’t seen this reported elsewhere. Change doesn’t mean improvement, but it couldn’t get much worse.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006




I thought Teddy Roosevelt said this or words to this effect: “As long as Americans believe all the people in the world are just like them, they are doomed to fail in foreign relations.” I can’t find that quote attributed to him or to anyone else so I will take it as my own until challenged.

President Bush has said, “All men yearn for freedom,” or words to that effect.

He couldn’t be more wrong and that points up the problem. Americans are such narcissists as a people, they want to remake all the governments in the world in their own image. They believe that, since the people are just like them, all they need is a government like theirs and all the problems will be solved in an instant.

What they forget is, it took The United States nearly 250 years to make it what it is today. And it inherited several thousand years of Greek, Roman and British contributions to civilization. Much of the world has never come in contact with any of that.

Perhaps this observation will help explain one different culture:

Some years ago I was invited to lunch by a Kurdish Khan in northwest Iran. His castle-like residence, mostly built of stone, was atop a steep hill in the center of one of his villages. He could brag that all the land in view was his. That was true except for the mountains of Iraq on the horizon. I didn’t point that out.

The Khan was very rich. The people who lived in his villages were very poor. They were modern serfs. They all worked for the Khan and owned very little. Were they unhappy? Hell no! They loved and respected the Khan and would die for him. They had a place to sleep. They had food to eat. They got laid. For all of that they thanked the Khan. What more could a man ask?

Freedom? They wouldn’t have known what the hell you were talking about. They had everything they wanted. The most important thing to them was they belonged. They belonged to their family, their tribe and their people. They had a place in life and they belonged in that place.

They didn’t have electricity but maybe someday it would come. That would be good.

(Author’s note: This is part one of a series. I try to keep each of these entries between 300 and 600 words so as not to wear anyone out.)


The Aussie cricket team celebrates their victory. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 04, 2006


I was in an Aussie pub on Sukhumvit here in downtown Bangkok when I overheard something at the next table. A couple of Aussies were talking about someone scoring 206 runs. Wow! I knew they weren’t talking about America. The record there, for any season, couldn’t be much more than 170 runs. I wondered how many games they played.

I had to ask, “Excuse me, how long does the season last in Australia?”

Aussies always seem to be polite, especially to this dumb Yank. “We play all year round, mate. The sun always shines somewhere.”

“Oh, well, that explains it. I heard you talking about someone scoring 206 runs. So how many games did he play that season to do that?”

“We call ‘em matches, mate. He did that in one match.”

I suddenly realized we weren’t talking about baseball here. “One match?”

They laughed at my surprise. “One inning, really,” the other guy added.

I could only echo, “One inning?”

“Yeah,” the other Aussie added, “But the inning lasted three days, mate.”

I regained my composure enough to say, “Well, that explains it.”

“Here,” the first Aussie said, handing me a newspaper, “you can read all about it here, mate.”

I thanked him and started to learn all about cricket. Here are some of the highlights from the news reports:

When Collingwood was out a ball before tea for 206, having borne England's innings for more than 6 1-2 hours, he had become the first English batsman to record a double century in Australia for 70 years.

After a momentary slip when three wickets fell for 23 runs, England was able to declare at 551 for six, with the match under its control and the series balanced.

There was further joy for the visitors when a pumped-up Flintoff took first test centurion Justin Langer's wicket for four in a fiery spell just before stumps.

Australia ended the day on 28-1, with Matthew Hayden on 12 and dangerman Ricky Ponting on 11.

Flintoff (38 not out) smashed McGrath over mid-wicket for six and a few minutes later, McGrath was given a huge Bronx cheer by England's supporters when the veteran quick conceded his 100th run.

I did understand “Bronx cheer” but it was hard to believe the rest was in English. They even printed a box score on the match:



A Straussc Martyn b Clark 14
A Cookc Gilchrist b Clark27
I Bellc and b Lee60
P C'woodc Gilchrist b Clark206
K Pietersenrun out158
A Flintoffnot out38
G Jonesc Martyn b Warne1
A Gilesnot out 27
Extras (10lb, 2w, 8nb) 20
Total (6 wickets dec, 168 overs)551

Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-45, 3-158, 4-468, 5-489, 6-491

Bowling: B Lee 34-1-139-1 (8nb, 1w),

G McGrath 30-5-107-0, S Clark 34-6-75-3, S Warne 53-9-167-1 (1w),

Clarke 17-2-53-0


J Langerc Pietersen b Flintoff4
M Haydennot out12R Pontingnot out11
Extras (1nb) 1
Total (1 wickets, 9 overs)28

Fall of wickets: 1-8

Bowling: M Hoggard 5-1-14-0,

A Flintoff 4-0-14-1 (1nb).

Australia trail by by 523 runs.

It all looks like a fun game. I wonder why it never caught on in America. You can learn more about it *HERE* and *HERE*.

Good luck.

UPDATE: England, it turned out, lost that match. I thought the thing was over but it seems a cricket match lasts five days and the Aussies came back and won it. I saw no hint that the match was going on. Here’s a report:

LANCASHIRE cricket manager Mike Watkinson admitted he was surprised to see England lose the Second Test match after such a strong start.
You can read the summation *HERE*.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


A stupid American dinner guest of Gwyneth Paltrow does a spit-take on hearing her views on foreign relations. Posted by Picasa

British more intelligent than Americans says Paltrow

I never thought I’d be in the position of having to defend a Hollywood star but she’s absolutely right about this. First, here’s the complete article. Then I’ll tell you why she’s right-on about this.

British more intelligent than Americans says Paltrow
By Stone Martindale

Dec 2, 2006, 19:00 GMT

American actress and now British resident Gwyneth Paltrow has shared her thoughts on the differences between the UK and USA, and feels the Brits win hands down in the scintillating dinner talk department, among other things.

"I love the English lifestyle, it's not as capitalistic as America. People don't talk about work and money, they talk about interesting things at dinner," she told "NS," the weekend magazine supplement of daily Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias on Saturday.

"I like living here because I don't fit into the bad side of American psychology. The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans," the 34-year-old added.

Paltrow lives in London with Coldplay's frontman Chris Martin.

Neighboring American and now transplanted Brit, Madonna, 48, who married British film director Guy Ritchie six years ago, offers Gwynnie good advice.

"She's like an older sister. Everything I have gone through, she went through ten times worse and ten times longer. She gives me good advice about how to say no and take care of myself," said Paltrow.

Several American actresses have declared their love for living the British life, including rocker Courtney Love, who recently made an announcement she was thinking of relocating permanently to Britain.

What is left out of the story is the terrible treatment she received at the hands of her stupid dinner guests in America. Whenever Ms Paltrow started to explain her views on worldly matters, her dinner guests took turns at doing spit-takes. That is just unbelievably brainless not to mention bad manners. In addition, three women and one man peed in their pants at the dinner table while Ms Paltrow was giving her solutions to world problems. No wonder she was disgusted with Americans.

The English are far more intelligent. Has anyone ever heard of a British gentleman doing a spit-take no matter what the inducemant? Has anyone ever heard of a British lady peeing her pants at the dinner table? Of course not. They are too intelligent.

And polite.

UPDATE: Gwyneth explains:

As for where the quotes came from, Paltrow says she did not give an interview to the Portuguese daily newspaper, though she did give a press conference – in Spanish – for an endorsement she did in Spain.

"This is what I said. I said that Europe is a much older culture and there's a difference. I always say in America, people live to work and in Europe, people work to live. There are positives in both," says the actress, adding, "Obviously I need to go back to seventh-grade Spanish!"

ME: I believe her. That is a very reasonable explanation. The original report did come from a Portuguese newspaper. I think she is telling the truth.

Friday, December 01, 2006


This is an all male band here in Bangkok called Venus Flytrap. Transvestites here are called girly-boys. Posted by Picasa


I went to City College of San Francisco in my late 20s thinking to legitimize my position as a civil engineer. This was silly I see in retrospect. I already was an engineer by definition, meaning I had the title, the pay, and the duties. (That could only happen in America and only in certain professions.)

CCSF was a tough school. In my first semester there were only five straight A students who had a full credit load. (I was one.) They wouldn’t give me credit for any of my work related subjects, even surveying although I probably knew it far better than the instructor. They said I had to take a course in trigonometry.

Trig and I were fast friends. I loved trig. When I worked on the realignment of the railroad in Peru, I slept with trig. I worked out horizontal curves in my sleep. I swear that is true.

But they told me I had to take a class in trig if I wanted credit for it.

The class was jammed as was almost every class in that school. They had a couple of thousand students who did not qualify for a four year college.

The practical application of trig is pretty simple. It is all a matter of looking up tables and multiplying. If you use sine where you should have used cosine, it will be pretty obvious in the answer. The same is true of tangent and cotangent. It is all pretty simple.

But what the instructor was teaching was foreign to me. He was teaching the theory of trig. What the hell for, I wondered. It was mostly way over my head.

I had learned in high school (Balboa, San Francisco) not to question a teacher’s methods. In a math class, as a 15-year-old, I suddenly saw an easier way to explain what the teacher was talking about. I stayed after class and showed him my idea on the blackboard. He sent me to the principal’s office and ordered me never to return. (In his defense, I have never had people skills.)

But despite that experience, I stayed late one day and questioned the CCSF instructor discreetly and respectfully. He told me to be patient. The class was too large. As soon as there were enough dropouts, he would get into the real subject.

That weasel was deliberately making the course tough so students would drop out, probably never to try trigonometry again since it appeared to be so difficult. Why? He told me his work load was too heavy. He didn’t want to grade so many papers.

I was disgusted, not only with him but with the whole school system. I wonder how many lives that despicable man had changed for the worse by blocking access to easily available knowledge. I dropped that course although I was doing OK in it. I couldn’t hide my contempt for that man.

I gave up the idea of getting an engineering degree. I wasn’t going to put myself at the mercy of such loathsome creatures. I continued taking courses at colleges and universities but on my terms, not for grade or credit, but for an education. Most instructors hated that. They had no power over me. Tough.

Some instructors became my friend though. I even dated one. So they weren’t all bad.