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Blog Archive September 2010

Burning Your Papers

You know that you are going to die sooner or later. Authors are no exception. Like their books, they have a shelf life. After you get over the shock and accept your fate, one of the first orders of business is put your affairs in order. Iíve always like that expression. Especially in Thailand where that can be a tall order during oneís life let alone on oneís death.

What caught my attention was an article in the New York Times about Franz Kafka:

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Posted: 9/30/2010 11:24:39 PM 


The Rise of Highchair Babies in the East

How do you feed a one-year-old baby?

Mind you this isnít about what you feed him or when you feed him. This isnít a trick question. Itís actually a quite profound cultural issue. Feeding a baby is an activity that takes planning. At this age they are like activated jelly with no hard bone structure to slow them down. Babies at feeding time are all waving arms and hands, and the mouth is a moving target. In other words, babies are pretty much the same around the world, but how we go about growing them into self-sufficient adults is highly dependent on the culture where they are born and raised.

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Posted: 9/24/2010 1:40:45 AM 


Auspicious Date

At times it seems in Thailand (and large part of Asia, including China) nothing in the public or private sector advances, no decision is made, no event announced until an Ďauspicious dateí and ďauspicious timeĒ have been calculated. Setting a wedding date, opening parliament, launching a new aircraft, meeting a client, opening a new business, and on and on.

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Posted: 9/16/2010 10:30:09 PM 


When Room 101 Became A Forensic Museum

Horror stalks us wearing a cultural mask. So how does one explain the commercial success of writers like Stephen King and Peter Straub who have written horror stories that have sold around the world and have been turned into blockbuster movies? King and Straub have a reputation for pushing the right fright buttons to make an international audience wince, sweat, and shiver with fear. But nothing beats the local boogey man to put the torch of fear into young children.

When I first came to Thailand more than twenty years ago, Thai parents trying to control a child who misbehaved or refused to go to bed at the appointed time, had a surefire way of ensuring See Uey. ďIf you donít do what I say, then See Uey will come into your room in the middle of the night, cut you open and eat your liver.Ē Thatís not an exact translation but reasonably close.

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Posted: 9/9/2010 10:07:02 PM 



While fellow blogger Colin Cotterill has his hounds lined up on the beach conducting a seminar on the finer points of the Trotsky movement inside the dog world, I am reporting from Eel Swamp. I am light years behind Cotterillís mind-meld that merges him into oneness with his dogs. The truth be told, I donít have all of my ducks in a row. I can see the evidence of the skid marks as evolution has braked hard as it passed me in the fast lane, leaving me on the shoulder of the road of life with a pair of binoculars and two ducks.

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Posted: 9/3/2010 3:00:41 AM 


The Mental Life of Dogs

I am back from the country hovel at Eel Swamp. For nearly a week I had mud, water and shit midway up my wellies. It is the Monsoon season. Rain or shine, spending time with animals is a good thing. Animals have a lot to teach us. Here are a couple of observations from studying my five dogs and two ducks. First, animals arenít divided into religion let alone into religious sects that target rivals like insurgents setting IEDs for the next Humvee to roll over. Second, animals donít hang out with each other because of a share ideology. They have no real politics to speak of. Like religion, politics, is simply absent from their day. You may protest that animals arenít rational, donít have logic or analysis working for them. True enough but at the same time animals never consult astrologers before making a decision.

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Posted: 8/26/2010 10:34:03 PM 


Sir Frank Kermode and Shigeo Tokuda: Scholar and Porn Star

I want to write about sex and about death. Since writing was invented it is hard to think of a writer who didnít embrace these two states of the human condition. They jockey throughout life like two racecars fighting for pole position, and we go along for the ride, strapped into the passengerís seat of both cars, pretending that we are at the wheel. We avoid thinking that sooner or later we are going to crash both cars. Our brains program us to believe that we are Formula A professional drivers. That individually our skill shapes, alters and controls our destiny. Itís a simple delusion that sitting in the back is the same as being at the wheel but it does pull us through the day (and night).

Thatís the reality of life. Your two cars are going over the cliff and into the void. Sex is the one that usually stalls out and sputters to a stop first. Old age sputters, too, and sometimes needs a little push before gravity takes over. And if you look in the rearview mirror, youíll see a long line of cars right on your bumper about to follow you into the void.

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Posted: 8/19/2010 10:19:57 PM 



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