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FROM SOAPY MASSAGE PARLORS TO SLIPPERY CHINESE INVESTORS

Feb 06, 2023 | 0 comments


FROM SOAPY MASSAGE PARLORS TO SLIPPERY CHINESE INVESTORS   The Bangkok Post has been a treasure trove of material regarding the underbelly of life in free and easy Thailand. You should recognize that Thailand has been a significant part of most of my life ranging from making a living to playing with the elephants. I have many close Thai friends and am about as near to being a Thai in terms of culture, language and thought process as possible. Therefore, I have looked forward to the daily press releases that define the place and the behavior of a famous Thai...

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WE SAY GOODBYE TO NATE THAYER HE FINALLY WORE OUT THAT BODY OF HIS

Jan 30, 2023 | 0 comments


WE SAY GOODBYE TO NATE THAYER HE FINALLY WORE OUT THAT BODY OF HIS A family friend sent me a text advising me that Nate Thayer had passed away at age 62. She said she was not certain that I knew Nate but could not imagine that our paths had not crossed over the years. She was “spot on!” I believe I first met Nate when he was somewhat focused on Mongolia as the Mongolian democratic youth movement had brought the communist government to a halt and created a democracy in the early 90s.  He was most likely working as...

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AN INDEPENDENT LOOK AT THE SCOREBOARD OF TRADE FAIRNESS

Jan 23, 2023 | 0 comments


AN INDEPENDENT LOOK AT THE SCOREBOARD OF TRADE FAIRNESS Reading newspapers that only fit one’s political and economic interests can be rather shallow and potentially hazardous to one’s economic health. Granted, it is always more comfortable to live in a world that ignores views which differ from yours but that is not unlike “drinking your own whiskey.” Recently, Nikkei staff writers published an article entitled Fairness, Not Just Democracy, To Be Key for Sailing Divided World. Whereas globalization has come to a screeching halt thanks to the old commie ugly ducklings of China and Russia, trade and business seems to...

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ARE BRICKS AND MORTAR NO LONGER NEEDED IN THE WORKSPACE?

Jan 16, 2023 | 0 comments


ARE BRICKS AND MORTAR NO LONGER NEEDED IN THE WORKSPACE? Bricks and mortar ended for me on March 16, 2020, when we scrambled to catch a flight out of London and return to Texas considering the U.S. Covid border closures. We never returned to our apartment or our office. As oil prices plummeted into a negative category, financial survival was the paramount need rather than an efficient office. We made it through that awful period by raising some additional equity and taking pictures off the walls. We have not returned to the traditional office environment though we have a small...

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BLOWBACK FROM OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

Jan 09, 2023 | 0 comments


A guest author has written the piece below regarding the destabilization of the Middle East. The research for the article came from Ghattas, Black Wave and Cleveland & Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East. BLOWBACK FROM OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush declared war on terrorism. Under the guise of the war on terror, the United States invaded Iraq, leading to the unintended consequence of increased religious conflict and sectarianism that has locked the Middle East in a state of conflict that continues to this day.   On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked...

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JUSTICE IN THE LOCKERBIE BOMBING MAY NOT BE LOST

Jan 02, 2023 | 0 comments


JUSTICE IN THE LOCKERBIE BOMBING MAY NOT BE LOST Many people may have forgotten one of the greatest aviation tragedies in history when on December 21, 1988, a bomb destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  The bomb blast onboard the Boeing 747 resulted in a death toll of 270 passengers and crew.  Moreover, the exploding aircraft virtually destroyed the small village of Lockerbie, Scotland and claimed a further 11 lives. The grainy photograph taken below from a BBC news reel illustrates the devastation encountered in the small village. . BBC News reported on December 16, 2022, that the...

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BEWARE THERE IS NO POLLUTION-FREE RISE WITH FOSSIL FREE FUEL

Dec 26, 2022 | 0 comments


BEWARE THERE IS NO POLLUTION-FREE RISE WITH FOSSIL FREE FUEL Certainly, electric vehicles are pollution free. However, getting to that point is a well-concealed and looming environmental disaster. The Nikkei Asia Review recently published an article entitled Dirty Metals for Indonesian Nickel to EV Battery Industry. Indonesia is “ground zero” for nickel production which is essential in the fabrication of batteries for electric vehicles. It produces 38% of the exponentially increasing world refined nickel production to meet battery demand. Taking a page from OPEC and its control of oil production, Indonesia is now evaluating an approach to create a similar...

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MOVE OVER ASIAN TIGERS-VIETNAM HAS COME TO HEAD THE ECONOMIC GROWTH TABLE

Dec 19, 2022 | 0 comments


MOVE OVER ASIAN TIGERS-VIETNAM HAS COME TO HEAD THE ECONOMIC GROWTH TABLE We have been active in the exploration and production of oil and gas in Vietnam for over twenty years and expect to be there for many more years to come. It has been a highly successful effort for Vietnam and their national oil company, while providing support for the increasing economic strength of the country. The practical alternative fuel source in Vietnam is coal which creates the most caustic fossil fuel emissions into the environment. Although solar power has been a focal point for several years, oil and...

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THE SNEAKY SAUDIS

Dec 12, 2022 | 0 comments


THE SNEAKY SAUDIS I once transited Saudi Arabia and swore I would never do it again.  The Saudi religious gestapo thought the cover on a book I was reading was suggestive and removed it. My previous Saudi experience had been Aramco-employed Saudis and a Saudi prince living high on the hog, but not eating pork, in Houston. The young Saudi prince relied on a close Thai friend of mine to write all his doctoral research papers. I had been all around the Middle East and thought I understood Islam, but I could not comprehend the mania of the Saudis. It...

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THE SOVIET KISS

Dec 05, 2022 | 0 comments


THE SOVIET KISS The passing of Mikhail Gorbachev received considerable news coverage though it was generally overshadowed by the noise of Putin in Ukraine. Nonetheless, if the images of all the historical leaders of the Soviet Union were placed in a Hall of Honor representing accomplishments for mankind, it would be a small exhibit as Gorbachev would be the only one who deserved such recognition.  The remainder of them would best be displayed in the loo.  One of the images of Gorbachev in the New York Times was him placing a kiss on the lips of Erich Honecker, the leader...

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THE SUBTLETY OF TAIWAN VERSUS THE SLEDGEHAMMER OF CHINA

Nov 27, 2022 | 0 comments


     THE SUBTLETY OF TAIWAN VERSUS THE SLEDGEHAMMER OF CHINA No one has ever maintained that Chinese Emperors ever acted in a subtle manner as far back as the Mongol conquests and subjugation of much of China in the 13th century. Perhaps Xi Jinping looks in the mirror every morning and pumps up his massive ego by imagining that his ancestors were famous, unforgiving conquerors as well. When this blog is published, we will have been to Taipei and, if everything works out okay, will be going back there again.  One might ask with all of Xi’s saber rattling of...

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LOY KRATHONG SAILED WITHOUT US

Nov 18, 2022 | 0 comments


LOY KRATHONG SAILED WITHOUT US I recognize that statement means very little to many of you out there. Apart from the Covid lockdown around the world, we normally go to Bangkok for my birthday. However, one gets to the point that the numbers generate disbelief relative to one’s lifestyle in the past. We were all set to be there this year though the timing of the trip was deferred because of the need to be in Vietnam on a much later schedule than planned. Accordingly, we missed Loy Krathong (ลอยกระทง), as well as my birthday celebration in Thailand. Loi Krathong, also...

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CALL TO ARMS! THE ACTION IN MYANMAR IS GETTING CLOSE TO MY PAST

Nov 11, 2022 | 0 comments


CALL TO ARMS! THE ACTION IN MYANMAR IS GETTING CLOSE TO MY PAST In the late sixties, adventure in Southeast Asia was readily at hand. The border frontier with Burma, or what is now Myanmar, was one of my favorites. It was not the sort of thing one would consider a leisurely camping experience, but friends in the Thai Communist Suppression Organization and the Thai government added a new adventure when flying to northern Laos became a bit routine.  You will note that the accommodations were not always up to Aman standards.  Moreover, my dress code and long sideburns would...

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CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE WORLD OF WINE

Nov 06, 2022 | 0 comments


CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE WORLD OF WINE    On February 1, 2022, we published a blog entitled Buddy Can You Spare a Sip of Wine? Since then, we have bottled our Ranger Red and Mahout Red wines which are available as gifts to our Zanzenberg Storyville and Storyville Bank Loft guests in Center Point, Texas where the vineyard is located.  Those grapes were harvested four years ago and the wine barrel-aged since that time. Over our twenty-year history of growing wine grapes, we have made wine on only a handful of occasions. Accordingly, it is a most difficult and expensive...

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PUTIN LEARNS FROM MISTAKES OF LYNDON JOHNSON AND BREZHNEV ERAS

Oct 28, 2022 | 0 comments


PUTIN LEARNS FROM MISTAKES OF LYNDON JOHNSON AND BREZHNEV ERAS In the summer of 1964, Lyndon Johnson spoke regarding the war in Vietnam – “We are not about to send American boys to do the job that Asian boys should do.” That promise was short- lived and some 58,000 Americans lost their lives as a result. In 1979, Leonid Brezhnev invaded Afghanistan with the resultant loss of some 15,000 Russian lives. Neither leader had a look at the historical failures of other powers who attempted to invade those two countries.    Some historians have argued that public anger over the...

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The Environment of Mongolia — First the Russians Followed by Climate Change

Oct 20, 2022 | 0 comments


The Environment of Mongolia — First the Russians Followed by Climate Change For the most part, the Russians left Mongolia following the peaceful democratic revolution of 1990.  A handful of Mongolian revolution leaders attended the 1992 Republican Presidential Convention in Houston. I came to know them as we were the only folks in the United States that had any commercial interest in Mongolia apart from tourism. Given my limited budget, I invited them to my house for homemade Mexican food and many margaritas and that was followed by a visit to a shopping mall. Shortly after that I found myself...

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MODI HAS THE MOJO AT THE MOMENT

Oct 17, 2022 | 0 comments


MODI HAS THE MOJO AT THE MOMENT In the fall of 1970, I was granted a long home leave to Texas from my base in Japan. Unfortunately, I had just moved from Tokyo to Yokohama several days before and no one had notified the car hire service of my new address.  As the only place I knew to get a taxi to the airport was the train station, I drove there, left the car with the keys in the ignition and made my way to the airport as a brief sabbatical awaited in Bangkok. I overstayed the allotted time in...

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ALL IS NOT WELL IN THE PARTY OF ABE

Oct 10, 2022 | 0 comments


ALL IS NOT WELL IN THE PARTY OF ABE To be clear, we are talking about Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan, and not honest Abe Lincoln though they both were victims of assassination. Over the years, the name Abe, pronounced Abé, has become synonymous with politics and government in Japan. The conservative Prime Minister Abe of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, LDP, was born into that arena as the grandson of a previous prime minister.  As Japan’s longest serving prime minister, he had recently stepped down for health issues and was subsequently assassinated for reasons no one could...

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A ROYAL ERA AND FRIENDSHIP COMES TO AN END

Oct 03, 2022 | 0 comments


A ROYAL ERA AND FRIENDSHIP COMES TO AN END For the past twenty-five years or so, we have spent approximately half of our time in the United Kingdom and Thailand.  The time in Thailand may have been influenced by a longer passionate history there but both places became an integral part of making a living and enjoying life. The world is still in a mourning period for the loss of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 following her reign of over seventy-years. In October 2016, another well-known and revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died at the age of...

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COURAGE AND THE THAI PASSION FOR FOOTBALL

Sep 26, 2022 | 0 comments


COURAGE AND THE THAI PASSION FOR FOOTBALL Four years ago, The Elephant Story published an article entitled The Wild Boars of Mae Sai Are Back Home. It covered the rescue of the twelve soccer/football team members and their coach from their life-threatening entrapment by rising flood waters in the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai, Thailand.  You will note in the image taken in the cave they are wearing football jerseys, which was their standard uniform and only clothing in their seventeen-day period of cave isolation. This summer, film maker Ron Howard released his Thirteen Lives documentary covering their ordeal...

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