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Agent Orange - A Manmade Curse on Mankind

May 10, 2021 | 0 comments


When I worked for Esso Eastern in New York in the mid-sixties, I was in training to go to the Far East as part of the war effort.  Given the fact that I was at least twenty-five years younger than any of the old Far East hands employed there, recruitment of other youngsters just out of their MBA programs fell on my shoulders. The objective was to sign them up, train them a bit and then send them to Saigon and former Indo China parts unknown. My best strategy was to take them to the famous Toot Shor’s Bar, get...

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An Original Created in Japan

May 03, 2021 | 0 comments


For many years, the western world spoke derisively about products “Made in Japan.” That characterization began following WWII, as Japan copied many things and could produce them in a quality manner at a lower cost than elsewhere. However, that “copy-cat description” totally disappeared when they began to introduce a new world of Japanese electronics such as the Walkman. Moreover, as Japan in its history adopted Chinese characters into its written language and many other mainstays of Chinese culture, it was assumed that they lacked creativity.  However, though the Japanese people are steeped in tradition, they can build upon that tradition...

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Chinese Checkers Around the World

Apr 26, 2021 | 0 comments


Might as well start the day with a bit of trivia that you could drop on someone at a boring cocktail party if we ever have those events again in a pandemic world. The bit of trivia is the origin of Chinese checkers which actually came from Germany as “Stern-Halma” with the German word “stern” representing the star shape of the playing board. The name Chinese checkers was a marketing ploy by the U.S. Pressman brothers in 1928 to sell the board game.  In the modern world, good intentions often cause unintended consequences and the Chinese are usually quick to...

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Human Pawns in the Myanmar Chess Match

Apr 19, 2021 | 0 comments


On March 27, 2021, the military in Myanmar established a new daily death toll record when 114 lives were lost in their brutal crackdown on demonstrations following their February 1 coup against the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The protestors shown below are clearly in harm’s way as the state-run MRTV broadcast warned protestors that they could be “shot in the head” for defying the army. Sadly, children have been caught in the many rounds of military gunfire. Nonetheless, the protests continue.  The irony of the March 27 death toll rate was that some 100 miles to the...

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Freedom at Midnight—Documentary or Fiction

Apr 12, 2021 | 0 comments


Freedom at Midnight was written by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre as a non-fiction work to document the Indian independence movement and partition into two states which culminated in the creation of an Independent India and a Muslim Pakistan in 1948.  The book depicts the fury of both Hindus and Muslims by their communal leaders which resulted in countless deaths and relocation of massive numbers of people. It is hard to believe that it originated in the country that spawned the compassionate faith of Buddhism. I have had a continuous commercial engagement in the Indian oil industry for some thirty...

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I Have Lost Confidence in You!

Apr 05, 2021 | 0 comments


In 1979, I was approached by a headhunter to leave Exxon where I was the Exploration and Production Controller to join Superior Oil as the Chief Financial Officer. Superior was the largest independent oil and gas company in the industry and had recently gone through a major make-over led by Joe Reid. Joe had raided Mobil Oil to poach their head of exploration, head of production, head of Mobil Canada and innumerable Mobil staff. Joe thought he needed an Exxon financial guy to balance out all of the Mobil guys. Interestingly, Exxon and Mobil ultimately merged many years later. In...

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Welcome to Coupville, Thailand

Mar 29, 2021 | 0 comments


Many people are focused on the miserable coup in Myanmar though the U.S. had a brief brush with its own clear acts of insurrection on January 6, 2021. Nonetheless, Thailand has had 13 coups since 1932.  The Thai Enquirer recently published an article entitled Grading Thailand Various Coups. Out of the 13 successful coups, they graded them with one A-, one D- and the remainder with varying levels of F. It is worth noting that there were many more unsuccessful attempted coups over those almost ninety years.  The first bloodless coup occurred in 1932 representing a turning point in the...

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Dysfunctional Defines the Democratic Republic of Congo

Mar 22, 2021 | 0 comments


Most people do not give much thought to The Democratic Republic of Congo which is a prudent thing to do—investors lose most everything which can include their lives, diplomats can be killed and conservationists suffer physical injuries without adequate medical attention. With a last-minute presidential pardon, our former President did not give it much thought and lifted sanctions on one of the most corrupt foreign businessmen in the DRC, if not anywhere.  However, the businessman had retained the same lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who represented the former president in his first impeachment trial.  Maybe the flash cash and legal connection made...

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Can Anyone Send a Few Billion to Angola?

Mar 15, 2021 | 0 comments


Most of us are somewhat familiar with the adage that only Allah can make a perfect carpet.  Therefore, all Islamic carpet makers leave some small flaw in their carpet patterns. Well, in our pursuit of continued success in the international oil exploration and development business we left our flaws in Sub-Saharan Africa with a big chunk of change devoted to Cabinda, Angola. It becomes a spreading cancer when you grab an opportunity in Republic of Congo, pick up one in Cabinda, the neighboring enclave of Angola, and then cap it off with a position in Democratic Republic of Congo. That...

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An Afternoon with Sheikh Yamani

Mar 08, 2021 | 0 comments


On February 23, 2021 Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi oil minister for almost 35 years and the mastermind behind Opec which set the stage for the management of worldwide oil prices, died at the age of 90. The Times Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani Obituary is perhaps the most complete summary of this remarkable man's life. On March 25, 1975, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was murdered by his nephew while Yamani, standing next to him, caught him in his arms. Nine months later he looked down the barrel of a gun when he was one of eleven ministers of Opec...

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SAFETY PROTOCOLS REMAIN

Mar 05, 2021 | 0 comments


SAFETY PROTOCOLS REMAIN    Dear Customers,  In light of the recent announcement from the Texas Governor, removing the mask mandate and allowing the operation of 100% capacity, we feel that it is necessary to make our loyal customers aware that The Elephant Story will still require all staff to wear masks and maintain the previously implemented sanitation practices. The Elephant Story will continue to request that customers wear masks when entering the store and adhere to the current social distancing guidelines. During the past year, The Elephant Story has kept all these practices intact, out of respect and wellbeing of our employees, clients and community. ...

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The "Colonel Bogey March" Was a Bit Bogus

Mar 01, 2021 | 0 comments


I did not view the movie The Bridge Over the River Kwai when it premiered in 1957 and won an Oscar for Best Picture. However, years later I did see it after having travelled the Kwai River in Thailand a number of times in the late sixties and early seventies. In those days, it was a very dangerous place given the numerous ethnic armies that moved back and forth across the river from Burma into Thailand as part of a significant drug trade specializing in opium, legitimatized in part to fund the illegal U.S. war in Laos. I went up...

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A Lunar New Year in Lockdown

Feb 22, 2021 | 0 comments


For the previous fifteen years or so, we would spend Christmas in Texas and then head to the Far East. A year ago, the winter events included the Winter Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, travels throughout Vietnam and considerable time in Bangkok with lots of exposure to the Chinese side of New Year food delicacies. As you would expect this year, Christmas was spent in Texas and we remained home past February 12, 2021 which was the beginning of the Lunar New Year festivities representing the year of the Ox. On February 7, I saw a few minutes of The Super...

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A Coup but Fortunately Not in D.C.

Feb 15, 2021 | 0 comments


On December 11, 2020, we commented on the recent election in Myanmar in which the military junta that controlled the government lost its majority to Aung San Suu Kyi's party in Claims of Voter Fraud-The New International Blame Game. On February 1, the western world was shocked that the military thugs would not step down and therefore declared a coup and arrested Myanmar President Aung San Suu Kyi, the last vestige of freedom in a sea of military uniforms. Clearly, the western pundits had been very critical of the lady in her lack of an attack on the military in...

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A Glimpse of Life in A Dark Tunnel

Feb 08, 2021 | 0 comments


Approximately one million Rohingya people were driven out of Myanmar by the dim-witted, corrupt military regime and misguided Buddhist monks demonstrating a clear pattern of crimes against humanity. Another way to express the reality is that these people were fleeing their homes in order to save their lives. They settled in a miserable refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. If that name is familiar to you, it is because it appears in navigation flight paths as a well-known marker. Approximately one-half of those refuges are children which puts them in a precarious position with a host of risks.      ...

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Calm and Serenity with an Undercurrent

Jan 25, 2021 | 0 comments


After the political chaos of the United States in the past several weeks, calm and serenity is very appealing. Generally, my vision of calm is a Buddhist temple or a Shinto shrine particularly in the ancient city of Kyoto, Japan. Sadly, pandemic lockdowns are likely precluding much of the visits but one thing you can always count on in Kyoto is Ms. Naomi Hasegawa’s Ichiwa toasted mochi shop near an old Shinto shrine. The New York Times recently published an article entitled This Japanese Shop is 1,020 Years Old. It Knows a Bit About Surviving Crises. This image is taken...

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A Wee Bit of Weed History

Jan 18, 2021 | 0 comments


In the recent contentious U.S. Presidential election, voters of five states voted to legalize marijuana which brought the total number of states to 35 that have chosen to permit the consumption of medical marijuana. Moreover, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana though it is unlikely to get past the stodgy Senate. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said he was too concentrated on Covid-19 relief measures to focus on such a bill. On the other hand, maybe a couple of tokes would make him a more enjoyable and caring person. Clearly, inappropriate lengthy prison...

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Blue Helmets Under Dark Skies

Jan 11, 2021 | 0 comments


Some years back we took a huge corporate misstep into Sub-Saharan Africa. We lost massive amounts of money but no lives which makes us ahead of the normal game there. We were not content with only one exposure but were in three connected and troubled countries, Republic of Congo, Cabinda, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. The most problematic and dangerous of the three was the former Belgian colony of Zaire or what is today known as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I first went there immediately following a showdown between two brutal warlords with government promises of “blue skies”...

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2021 A Healthier Year & A Healthier You

Jan 07, 2021 | 0 comments


   If your New Year's resolution is to eat better or try new recipes, Asian cooking could be good for you! The Elephant Story's collection of Asian cookbooks are a great place to start your adventure.  Pair your cookbook with our apron or our unique collection of tabletop and kitchen cooking tools.     Healthy Thai Cooking $7.99 Asian Cooking $13.99 South-East Asian Soups $16.99    The Elephant Story Apron $24.00 Wood Salad  Serving Set $17.50 Wood Elephant Cutting Board $32.00   

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The Leading Ladies of Bangladesh

Jan 04, 2021 | 0 comments


I first went to Bangladesh in the early Nineties to sign an award of an oil and gas concession that subsequently became a significant natural gas field. It was being assigned to a very small company that we controlled though the work commitment was far beyond our financial capability. Therefore, we brought in an industry partner before the concession was signed. The CEO of our partner and I went there for the first time to sign the agreement with the government. As we were both athletic, we headed out for an early morning jog following our arrival and eventually realized...

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