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NANCY PELOSI DOES THE TWO-STEP IN TAIWAN

Sep 05, 2022 | 0 comments


NANCY PELOSI DOES THE TWO-STEP IN TAIWAN There was much saber rattling by the Xi Jinping controlled mainland China crowd over the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. The Taiwanese have been at odds with the mainland for at least the past seventy years. Moreover, Xi Jinping is at odds with anyone who stands in the way of him being confirmed as “Emperor for Life” at the November meeting of the Communist Party Politburo. His most recent Covid-19 performance and the disastrous impact on the Chinese economy have raised some eyebrows at the Politburo.  Therefore, the insult of...

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TAMIL NADU LEADS THE WESTERN WORLD IN WASTE MANAGEMENT

Aug 29, 2022 | 0 comments


TAMIL NADU LEADS THE WESTERN WORLD IN WASTE MANAGEMENT Perhaps it is surprising to have two back-to-back stories set in South Asia though this one has a happy ending and represents good and most welcome news for our environment. In the early nineties, it was like stepping back in time to visit our office in Madras and go to the Madras Club for curry and a gin tonic after work. The club shown here was built in 1832 at the height of the British Raj days in India. Those days are gone but the club is still going strong though...

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SRI LANKA JOINS THE LIST OF FORMER BRITISH COLONIES TO GO UPSIDE DOWN

Aug 22, 2022 | 0 comments


SRI LANKA JOINS THE LIST OF FORMER BRITISH COLONIES TO GO UPSIDE DOWN Some years ago, Joey and I took a most enjoyable tourist trip to Sri Lanka which is rich in Buddhist history along with kind of a sleepy atmosphere. The only chaotic moment was when we departed from Galle and tried to make our way through an airport terminal which was operating at a minimum of 300% of capacity and jammed with tourists and backpackers. Otherwise, it was a very special and spiritual place that reflected a deep history and commitment to Buddhism as this image reflects.  That...

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U.N. FORCES CAUGHT IN CONGO CHAOS

Aug 15, 2022 | 0 comments


U.N. FORCES CAUGHT IN CONGO CHAOS For many years, I have always spoken derisively of United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.  The U.N. members could sleep easy by feeling that they had addressed the risks of conflicts in developing countries by supplying U.N. Peacekeepers.  Other developing countries could bill out the cost of their locals that were rounded up to be peacekeepers while keeping the majority portion of what they billed to the U.N. The ill-trained and poorly compensated hapless peacekeepers had one primary objective and that was to stay alive rather than maintaining law and order. Simply stated, my experience in...

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ONE MAN'S DISGUSTING SMELL IS ANOTHER MAN'S AMBROSIA

Aug 08, 2022 | 0 comments


ONE MAN'S DISGUSTING SMELL IS ANOTHER MAN'S AMBROSIA The durian fruit has that effect on most everyone. A dear friend of many years commented on a recent blog that closed with an image of a Vietnamese man transporting durian fruit on the back of his bicycle. She said she could smell the distinctive smell by just looking at the photograph. It turns out, The Bangkok Post recently published an article entitled Welcome to Durian Country which is, in fact, the remote area of Uttaradit’s Laplae district of Thailand where the most delicious varieties of the “King of Fruits” are the...

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Ban Taklang - Home To Education, Elephants, and Buddhism

Aug 01, 2022 | 0 comments


Ban Taklang - Home To Education, Elephants, and Buddhism Maricel Ballon, one of our two English teachers in Ban Taklang, just sent me a photographic portrayal of life in the educational process in Ban Taklang, Thailand. The Elephant Story has had a presence there for many years to educate the youth of the village by providing English instruction and supporting veterinary care for some 300 elephants. The elephant culture has been intertwined in this village of maybe 1,000 residents for thousands of years though they are only one of three elements in that community.  Together with John Roberts of The...

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THE KING OF THE BOY SCOUTS

Jul 25, 2022 | 0 comments


THE KING OF THE BOY SCOUTS After over 50 years of close involvement in Thailand, including two years as a resident in the late sixties, much of the history and culture of Thailand becomes imbedded in your soul. From time to time, I have considered living there again but it is difficult to abandon my Texas roots. The first Thai offshore oil and gas exploration concession that I and a close Thai friend acquired thirty years ago, we put into a company named Thaitex. That name pretty much covered our roots on both sides as my Thai associate had lived...

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TODAY'S VIETNAM IS A DIFFERENT PLACE

Jul 18, 2022 | 0 comments


TODAY'S VIETNAM IS A DIFFERENT PLACE I first went to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, some fifty years ago. In the early nineties, I returned to discover the undeveloped potential there and chose to be a participant in their future growth and prosperity. Initially, the perception of the outside world was that their path to economic growth would be the result of their natural resources. My perspective was oil and gas which worked out extremely well, as I just attended a massive party in Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate our milestone of having produced over 100 million barrels...

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THE SMELL OF NAPALM IN THE MORNING

Jul 11, 2022 | 0 comments


THE SMELL OF NAPALM IN THE MORNING Back in the “Black and White Days” of 1966, I was recruited by the Far East subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey to ultimately work in Southeast Asia as part of the dead-in war effort there. It was a compelling argument to be your own person with no uniform requirements though there would be deniability of your presence if something went south. Before being shipped out, I was sent to New York for training where I became an expert on the marathon Paris Peace Talks to end the absurd Vietnam War. Another...

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HONG KONG AND SHIANGHAI WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

Jul 05, 2022 | 0 comments


HONG KONG AND SHIANGHAI WILL NEVER BE THE SAME In 1968, I stopped in Hong Kong while in route to Southeast Asia to begin my lifelong adventure there. Since that time, both Hong Kong and Shanghai have changed dramatically for the worse in the past five to ten years or so. At that time, Hong Kong was an escape hatch from the war troubles of Southeast Asia to shop, stay at wonderful hotels and enjoy both western and Chinese food. In fact, I sent one of my people to Hong Kong to buy a duty-free tape recorder as a senior...

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BACK TO SCHOOL IN BAN TA KLANG

Jun 27, 2022 | 0 comments


BACK TO SCHOOL IN BAN TA KLANG We have just received updates from our English language teachers in Ban Ta Klang, Thailand which is home to some three hundred elephants supported by The Elephant Story and The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation . Everything seems to be returning to normal there following the extended pandemic lockdown. The isolation of the village from the rest of Thailand likely lessened the Covid impact on these people. The students were excited to return to school as were our teachers, Maricell Ballon and Rachel Mae. There are a lot of smiles on the faces...

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CAVIAR IS HEALTHY AND DOES NOT SUPPORT THE RUSSKIES

Jun 20, 2022 | 0 comments


CAVIAR IS HEALTHY AND DOES NOT SUPPORT THE RUSSKIES For some ten years I was a frequent flyer to Russia where I became a frequent consumer of Russian caviar.  On an early trip there, following the collapse of the Former Soviet Union (FSU), we pulled up to the curbside drop off at the Sheremetyevo airport. We were getting out of the car as my Texas associate asked our Russian handler – was there anything we should not take out of the country – and she responded “caviar.” Quickly, the Russian baggage handler had my suitcase loaded with caviar in front...

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HOW FORTUNATE WAS I TO LIVE IN JAPAN IN 1971 AND 1972

Jun 13, 2022 | 0 comments


HOW FORTUNATE WAS I TO LIVE IN JAPAN IN 1971 AND 1972 From one standpoint, I was quite fortunate to be in Japan at that time as my two youngest daughters were born in Yokohama, Japan. On the other hand, from the standpoint of political and economic upheaval in the world, it was a perfect storm.  Three massive political and economic events occurred during that period though only two of them impacted me in a major way.  Nikkei Asia recently published an article entitled Lessons from ‘Two Nixon Shocks of 1971 Still Valid .” Richard Nixon is shown announcing a...

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SO NEAR BUT SO FAR AWAY

Jun 06, 2022 | 0 comments


SO NEAR BUT SO FAR AWAY In 1970, I was transferred by Esso Eastern to work in Tokyo and was based there until 1973.  I was less than enthusiastic about leaving the exciting edge of life in Southeast Asia, particularly Bangkok and Laos.  Nonetheless, Esso did not expect anyone to disagree as several of us young expatriate Americans were working under Critical Skill Deferments from the U.S. Government.  Moreover, Esso was relatively generous to permit absences on my part to the jungles of my favorite places, both asphalt and true jungle foliage. At that time in Japan, we were focused...

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POLLUTION GUIDANCE FROM THE UNWASHED

May 30, 2022 | 0 comments


POLLUTION GUIDANCE FROM THE UNWASHED Thailand has three distinct seasons: Cool from November—February, Hot from March—May, and Rainy (Monsoon) from June—October. A few weeks ago, The Bangkok Post reported that the Thai capital of Bangkok and the northern city of Chiang Mai were on the hit parade of the top five most polluted cities in the world behind the consistent leader of Beijing. Bangkok is polluted principally due to automotive emissions while the pollution in Chiang Mai arises from slash and burn farming, burning of crop residues, and forest fires due to the tinder box nature of the hot season....

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DEMOCRACY ALWAYS TRUMPS AUTOCRACY

May 23, 2022 | 0 comments


DEMOCRACY ALWAYS TRUMPS AUTOCRACY In the past couple of months, the world has taken a dramatic turn that illustrates the frailty of autocratic governments in two of my least favorite places on the planet—China and Russia. I had business dealings in China for some twenty years and was a pioneer in the privatization of a Russian state oil company. Fortunately, all our people made it out of both places with no loss of life and we made money. Once out, I swore I would never go back and have held to that conviction. Current events suggest few westerners would be...

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Apocalypse Now-Fact or Fiction

May 13, 2022 | 0 comments


APOCALYPSE NOW-FACT OR FICTION The film Apocalypse Now was released in 1979 starring Marlo Brando as a renegade CIA officer in the Special Activities Division.  If one had to ask what that division represented, you did not need to know. Brando starred as U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz who had gone rogue at an outpost in Cambodia pursuing his own guerilla war, mounting the heads of his adversaries on posts around his army of indigenous tribal forces. The plot line of the movie is the ultimate assassination of Colonel Kurtz in his remote base in Cambodia.  ...

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Thanks To Allah The Taliban Goes Legit

May 09, 2022 | 0 comments


THANKS TO ALLAH THE TALIBAN GOES LEGIT Recently, I read in my daily edition of the Bangkok Post the front-page news that the Taliban had outlawed the cultivation and harvest of poppy in Afghanistan as opium to ultimately refine into heroin. You might ask why that is a front-page event in Thailand? Without heroin sourced from Afghanistan, Myanmar could conceivably become the number one opium/heroin center in the world. The significance to Thailand is that it has long been a distribution center of opium and heroin to other parts of the world despite efforts on the part of the government...

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Up In Smoke Is Not That Easy

May 02, 2022 | 0 comments


UP IN SMOKE IS NOT THAT EASY Recently, Russians have attempted to obfuscate their well-documented but denied war crimes in Ukraine by highlighting a Russian fuel depot that went up in smoke. A Rosneft oil products terminal was bombed near the southern Russian city of Belgorod. Helicopters destroyed the major Russian fuel facility two days after the Russians blew up a high-pressure gas trunkline across the border in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The Ukraine government neither confirmed nor denied that they carried out the obvious act of reciprocity, which is shown here in the Upstream Oil and Gas publication...

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The French Laissez Faire Attitude

Apr 24, 2022 | 0 comments


THE FRENCH LAISSEZ FAIRE ATTITUDE Following a long career in the international oil and gas world, I have always been intrigued by the French approach to this industry. The overreaching French attitude to most everything is defined by the “laissez faire” description – a policy of letting things take their own course without interfering. I always found French banks and companies most enjoyable to visit in Paris with long, liquid meals and great camaraderie. On the other hand, they can be frustrating partners in oil ventures as well as difficult adversaries as they historically have not been as vigilant regarding...

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