Category Archives: Thoughts from the expats corner

Jack Corbett has now been living full time in Thailand as an expat. This category encompasses a wide range of thoughts and subjects from the perspective of being in a strange land thousands of miles from the United States where the culture oftentimes seems to be 180 degrees apart from the values and beliefs of the West.

Wordperfect versus Microsoft Word

The bottom line is Word for Windows is unacceptable. While Microsoft’s Word might be able to masquerade as a competent Word processor for those who don’t have to do anything more challenging than to write letters or memos, it is a complete nightmare to work with for anyone who must do far more complex and challenging projects such as formatting a print ready novel. But before comparing Microsoft Word to Corel’s Wordperfect it’s necessary that I bring everyone up to date on how we got to this sorry state of affairs.

A few years back even before Windows 95 was just getting established, I used to really enjoy doing my Word processing with Microsoft products. Back then Microsoft had a beautiful little program called Microsoft Works for Dos. It had three basic components, a Word processor, a spreadsheet and a database module, and each component was accompanied by an absolutely terrific hands on tutorial program that was far superior to anything Microsoft has produced since. But after a year or two the Windows operating system started to take over. Microsoft was quick to introduce its Microsoft Word for Windows which according to most software reviews was far more user friendly than Wordperfect’s first releases of its Wordperfect for Windows. I wound up getting a copy of each and I kept trying out one, then the other. I quickly found, however, that the not so user friendly Wordperfect was at least as easy to work with as the far more favorably reviewed Microsoft Word for Windows.

It wasn’t long,however, that Microsoft started to virtually give away its Word for Windows software. Meanwhile I wrote and published my first novel, Death on the Wild Side and even typeset the entire novel with the help of Wordperfect’s excellent technical support department. That was back in 1995 when I was able to call Wordperfect any time I liked while being hand held through all the intricacies of line and word spacing, gutter margins, and formatting for two sided printing. But of course that level of technical support costs money so back in those days Wordperfect needed to pass the cost of all that superb technical support onto its customers by charging them a pretty hefty initial price for its Word processing software. What I didn’t realize back then was that Microsoft was throwing out the seeds of addiction to an unsuspecting user base. In those days, just as now, when every time you bought a new computer you had to buy Microsoft’s operating system. However, to make the bitter pill of being forced to buy Windows a little easier to swallow Microsoft would often include a freebie or two that would go with the computer and operating system software. That freebie usually included either a free CD of Microsoft Word for Windows or Microsoft Works. At first Microsoft Works contained an abbreviated version of its full blown Microsoft Word software but it wasn’t long before it supplied the full featured version of Word even though its Spreadsheet module didn’t have all of Excel’s capability.

So here’s what happened. Nearly everyone buying a computer wound up getting some version or the other of Microsoft’s Word for Windows for free, or so they thought. Meanwhile Wordperfect, which had previously dominated the word processing software market languished since its high priced software couldn’t compete with free. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft, which by this time was the dominant player in computer software heavily advertised its products in such magazines as Computer World and P.C. Magazine. Well, I think you already know how that one went. Think Computer World or P.C. Magazine’s going to give a bum review to the company that’s done the most advertising in their pages?

Allow me to demonstrate how such magazines have consistently trashed Wordperfect while giving excellent reviews to a product that is completely unacceptable to anyone who’s serious about his writing. I quote P.C. Magazine’s latest review of Wordperfect X-6:

WordPerfect vs. Word
The major attraction of the suite is WordPerfect, the only modern word-processing app that makes gives me almost total control over the way my documents look. Microsoft Word, in contrast, sometimes seems to have a mind of its own—formatting documents in ways I never intended, or unpredictably retaining or discarding formatting in text imported from a Web browser. But WordPerfect almost always does exactly what I want. And it’s the only modern app that still formats and organizes documents by inserting normally-invisible “codes” in the text, so when you want to troubleshoot the formatting of your document, you can open a “Reveal Codes” pane at the foot of the editing window, find the code that’s causing the problem and either remove it or double-click it to change its settings. The “Reveal Codes” pane has always looked ugly, but the new version changes the font and color so it’s not as hard on the eyes as it once was.

In contrast to WordPerfect’s code-based formatting, Microsoft Word and all other modern word-processing apps format documents by “painting” them with attributes such as fonts and margins, and it’s almost impossible to tell where the invisible format “painting” begins and ends. If you’ve ever deleted a few letters in Word, only to find that that the format of a whole paragraph changed unexpectedly, you’ll see the point of WordPerfect’s method. Of course, Microsoft Word performs tricks that WordPerfect can’t do at all, like split a document window so you can edit the first and last page of a file on the same screen.

Now, here’s what this review tells us. It tells us that there is no way to predict how one’s final output is going to wind up looking in Microsoft Word and that it has a mind of its own. This means that when I write a book, I’m not creating the book, I am allowing Microsoft to make my book look the way Microsoft wants it to look. It also tells us that Microsoft’s Word Processor is tremendously difficult to use since its nearly impossible to try to figure out how Microsoft has changed a document’s formatting or how I can go about changing it so my document looks the way I want it to look.

But let us not forget that Microsoft is paying P.C. Magazine a lot more advertising dollars than Corel is so the reviewer who’s being paid by P.C. Magazine must come up with some miraculous way to give more stars to Word than he’s giving to Wordperfect even though he’s already said that Word is a terrible program, although he’s not said it directly. So in the last sentence the reviewer states that Microsoft Word allows the user to edit both the first and last pages of a document of a file on the same screen.

Now just what kind of nonsense is that? At first the reviewer for P.C. Magazine states that it’s nearly impossible to edit a document properly in Word under any circumstances, and then after he tells us you can’t do it, that it’s a huge advantage to be able to edit the first page and last page of a document on the same screen. Now do you really want to be able to edit the first and last pages of a document on the same screen? I don’t. I can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time so why would I want to be able to do that?

Nevertheless it’s obvious that the reviewer probably actually hates Word just as much as I do, but he can’t actually come out and say what he really thinks because if he did, he might wind up losing his job. So his conclusion goes as follows:

“ For years I’ve been using WordPerfect and Word side-by-side. Neither is ideal, but once you’ve learned—as I have—what WordPerfect can do that Word can’t, you may not be willing to live without it.”

The bottom line is Microsoft Word gets 4.5 stars whereas Wordperfect only gets 4 even though Wordperfect can do so much more than Word ever could.

My experiences with Word have been so horrible that I wouldn’t even be using it if I wasn’t being forced to rely upon it. I have recently published still another book in Kindle format. My problem is that I cannot upload a Wordperfect file to Amazon’s web site. Instead I must use a doc Windows file or a pdf file. It’s easy to write the e book in Wordperfect. The formatting’s a cinch and the file winds up looking perfect no matter how many pictures it contains, tables or captions. Moreover, Wordperfect converts its wordprocessing files into perfect pdf’s that in theory should work very well when they are uploaded to Amazon’s web site for e book publishing. Unfortunately the table of contents that works in the pdf file does not work in the resulting Mobi or Kindle file once its uploaded and converted at Amazon. So that alone forces me to go back to using Word.

Just about everything about Word is terribly difficult, from its outlining feature to doing something as simple as page numbering. The ribbon interface is difficult to say the least which requires me to do internet google searches on just about anything I want to do in Word. My latest revelation from doing a google search was that I had been suspecting that Word was automatically compressing the pictures I was inserting into my latest book. Since there were 115 pictures this wasn’t a small deal. For one thing, the overall size of the file I was submitting to Amazon was only about sixty percent the size I had calculated it out to be. So when I went through the ribbon to see if there was a feature for compressing pictures I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Which was typical. Google, however told me where to find it, and sure enough there it was. Word automatically defaults so that it compresses any pictures one puts into his documents. I was overjoyed. Here I had spent days formatting 115 pictures so that each one represented the best compromise I could come up with between quality and file size. Amazon, after all would be charging me more than seventy-five cents each time a customer bought one of my e–books at so many cents a megabyte. I had been thinking the cost would be more like a dollar and a quarter based on my file size. The end result was I had used my graphics arts program to compress my images at a 30 % factor and here Microsoft was compressing them even more.

Wordperfect’s X-6 Office software now has an e book publishing feature. What it does is it will transform the wordperfect file one is working on to a Mobi file which one can then upload to Amazon thus bypassing the need for using Microsoft. When I had finished using the e book publishing feature everything turned out letter perfect. I was able to create perfectly formatted columns and I was able to easily create captions for a large number of those 115 pictures that came out just the way I wanted them to look. The e book that I wound up with at the Amazon web site was perfect in every way except for two unacceptable glitzes. At this point I don’t know if it was something I did or if Corel has not quite perfected its e book publisher yet. The first problem is that the image or picture that would be the first page the potential buyer of my book would see was only about a quarter the size it should have been. It looked like a postage stamp. The second defect was that there were a few lines of code or garbage appearing on the page between the title page and the publishing page. Other than that the table of contents worked like a champ and all my tables, margins, and captions underneath my pictures were gorgeous.

I was forced into using Microsoft Word and it took me something like three extra days doing what I had already done in Wordperfect. When I published my Word file to Amazon most of my picture captions were either missing entirely or they were all over the place. The tables were all screwed up as well. I wound up having to delete all my captions, and then when I tried to put new lines of text in that weren’t actually captions but which I hoped would appear similar to captions I found out that they’d appear on top of some of my pictures instead of beneath them or they’d appear a paragraph down from where I had placed them. As for the caption feature in Word, the bottom line is it didn’t work. At least not when it came to doing an e book.

I also had a problem with some of my tables. Many of them would be hidden behind my pictures and even when I moved the pictures around with my mouse oftentimes I couldn’t find them. But their being there in the first place sure played havoc with where how some of my other lines of text appeared. Only by actually deleting the pictures could I find some of the hidden tables.

I was having such a tough time that I decided to try saving my Word files in docx format instead of doc, because this being a much more up to date file type and being billed as being more fully featured I felt that it might allow me to do some things in Word that I had been able to do easily in Wordperfect such as my captions. But once I tried converting the 2003 Microsoft doc file to a 2007 docx file and uploaded it to Amazon I found that the docx file format had turned a lot of my formatting to absolute gibberish.

I finally got the job done so now I have a new e book for sale over at Amazon. But it still doesn’t appear exactly as I’d like. So I then moved onto publishing a printed version of my new book. Among other things this meant having to deal with all 115 pictures again since print requires a resolution of at least 300 dpi whereas e book publication is best done at 72 dpi. The pictures would be far larger than the ones I had been putting into my E book file so I wound up having to deal with inserting all those pictures again, captions, etc. But surprise surprise, I was no longer having to deal with Word. I might be dealing again with Amazon but this time I’d be uploading all my files to their Createspace web site which is the one that’s used for their paperback printing business. And Createspace does do a good job with pdf files.

I could line up all my text and my margins exactly the way I wanted them to appear, and when it came to dealing with the pictures, once I had prepared a picture the way I wanted it in my graphics arts program all I had to do was to click on the 72 dpi picture that was already there, go to “content” which I found easily with one click of my mouse and change the filename, and voila, my new picture would instantly appear replacing the old one. My caption if I already had one appeared just the way it had before, and if it didn’t it was very easy to correct. Sure, all this took a little time but there was no frustration at all because everything worked the way it should work while the process of making all my adjustments and formatting changes was very intuitive.

Make no mistake. Wordperfect is very easy to use and it does what it’s supposed to do. You can write complex books with it, prepare newspaper and magazine layouts, insert pictures while sizing and placing them exactly as you want them to appear. As for Word, as one of the reviews I once read about it suggested, “it handled e-mail very well.” Now I don’t know what email has to do with word processing but I suppose someone has to give Word a star for something that it handles responsibly because as a Word processor, it’s so bad that it shouldn’t be allowed to be sold anywhere.

Extreme Guns and Babes for an Adult World on Kindle

Extreme Guns and Babes for an Adult World is now published on Kindle. Hopefully I can finish a printed version in a month. This is my fourth book and the first I’ve published on Kindle before doing a printed edition first. The book is heavily picture orientated and since a book containing full color images is so expensive to produce I felt Kindle represented a far more affordable way to showcase a work whose primary appeal centers around pictures. So yes, I want to create a copy of this book, but that’s for myself more than it is for those who want to buy the book and have the best possible reading experience possible. I think electronic publishing is the future, but I still want to have my own copy that I can see, feel and touch of something that’s entirely my own that represents a combination of the best that I could do with a camera, or with a Graphics Arts program to design the book itself let alone how well or badly I could write. But the pictures will be much smaller and they will be in black and white so for most of you who are interested in this book, I recommend getting it on Kindle.

The title itself says a lot about this book. For one thing I produced the book within the context of the adult world–that is the adult entertainment world of strippers, topless dancers, feature entertainers and topless clubs. I did some of my photo shoots in topless clubs, And all of my models without a single exception were strippers or feature entertainers. I wrote over twenty of my articles for Xtreme Magazine, a small adult magazine on the East Coast and I did without exception all my own pictures of the models who were used in my articles. Some of the articles never made it into Xtreme for one reason or the other. For one thing I had stopped writing for Xtreme in 2004. The real irony, however, was that I was writing gun articles in an adult magazine in the first place or that I was writing for a magazine on the East Coast when I was living in the Midwest.

Jeremy was the reason I was able to write gun articles for an adult magazine. When I met Jeremy he was Xtreme’s editor. Now he’s in charge of all four of Xtreme’s franchises and has to concentrate on making money for the magazine. But by the time Jeremy asked me to write an article about my .454 Casul revolver, he was writing a large portion of Xtreme’s articles himself. There was the Horror Scope, and no, that is not a misspelling. Jeremy’s horoscopes were insanely funny. And when I first started out writing for Xtreme Jeremy was writing his Adventures of the Backdoor Man in his Search for the Holy Tail, series. By the time he wrote his “The Laundryman Pervert” which he did not publish in Xtreme it was obvious that Jeremy was pretty far out there. My article on my .454 Casul, a revolver that’s so powerful that it would often be used to hunt elephants and Alaskan Brown Bear, represented an abrupt departure from anything that could be expected from an adult magazine focusing on T &A. By the time I completed it there was nothing in it about women. There were no pictures and no mention of them whatsoever. The same was true for my second gun article. For my article about the Uzi, I went to a university library where I dug up a few 1967 articles covering Israel’s Seven Day War. Although I actually put a couple hundred rounds through a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun the article pivoted around the Historical reasons Israel would arm its troops with such a short ranged weapon. It was only after those first two articles that women were brought into the gun articles as models.

There are several aspects about the Xtreme Weapons magazine articles that made them unique . First, they never were written for an audience whose concern is only about guns. Since Xtreme was a free magazine that could be found in topless clubs and other adult venues, it had to be put together in a way that was appealing to a readership that was far less technically inclined than your typical readers of gun magazines. But more than most men, I have a keen interest in History so I’d often bring out the Historical context causing each weapon to evolve the way I did. If anything I departed most from what people might expect from a series of gun articles called Xtreme Weapons and Babes in an Adult World. For the most part the articles are all about guns just as one might expect out of any other gun article. True enough, a lot of time was spent choosing the models for the photo shoots accompanying the articles. There was also a lot of attention to detail during the photo shoots, not only from me, but also from the women posing with the weapons. These are exotic entertainers after all and what most people don’t realize is the women are very professional when it comes to doing pictures. Most women for example might pose in front of a camera for two or three pictures for vacation photos and wind up telling their husband or boyfriend photographer, “That’s enough,” but adult entertainers will insist that two hundred pictures be taken knowing full well that nothing less than perfection will do, and that the lighting for a picture can change at a moment’s notice or the slightest change of expression will ruin a picture not to mention that the most favorable angles need to be taken of a model to show off her figure to her advantage. Typically my photo shoots for the Extreme Guns and Babes for an Adult World would comprise between one and two hundred pictures.

Above all I wasn’t just some guy out to make a buck who’s snap up a couple of women to shoot pictures of them with guns. I was somewhat of a gun nut myself who truly looked forward to doing each gun article as an opportunity to fully explore the potential of those weapons I was personally interested in. Consider that my first gun was a 30-06 Springfield I worked all summer for when I was just twelve years old. This was no pellet gun or even a .22. It shot three and a half inch shells and it would penetrate right through a thirty inch tree. So when I’d be contemplating what weapon to cover next for Xtreme I’d start thinking about what kind of gun I wanted to shoot next or which gun I had read a lot about, oftentimes from boyhood on, and then I’d set about trying to find a specimen for my next gun article. When it came to the M-1 Garand, I went out and spent eight hundred dollars of my own money just so that I could personally find out all the great things about the M-1 that gave the American infantryman a huge edge over his counterparts during the 2nd World War. The same thing happened to me with the Springfield M-1 A. When I first wrote about the rifle for Xtreme I had taken Darien Ross all the way down to Vic Meyers’ farm so that she could model with his M-15, which was a fully automatic version of the M1’s successor. But I became so intrigued with my own article that I went out and bought my own Springfield M-1 A, which is a commercialized version of the miliary’s M14 and M15’s. The same would prove true with my M-16 article. Again, I took the model, in this case Arianna a del to Vic Meyer’s farm where she could pose with an M-16. But it wasn’t long after Xtreme Published the article that I bought my own M-16 in the form of an AR-15 which is the civilianized version of the military weapon.

I think everyone involved had a terrific time doing those Xtreme Weapons photo shoots that were the heart of the gun articles. The girls loved posing with the guns, oftentimes getting to shoot automatic weapons in the process. And since I didn’t have any automatic weapons which are illegal to own unless one has a specialized license to have or sell them, I was able to get my hands on about anything I wanted because I could offer the gun dealers who had them a part in the photo shoots that centered around a very attractive personable adult entertainer. It took a lot of far sighted fun loving people to get all those photo shoots and magazine articles done starting with an editor who wanted to produce something that was far more interesting than what all the other magazines were printing and it took a group of women who’d be willing to spend a lot of their time getting to and from the photo shoots without receiving any direct cash reimbursement. And then there were the gun dealers. It’s not easy to find a 50 caliber tripod mounted machine gun and then it needs to be set up for the photo shoot. So I owe all of them a lot for all their hard work and time. This is the result of all that went into over two years of all that tremendous effort.

One night in Pattaya’s go-go bars proves Thailand is “Amazing”

Because my neighbor Lenny is headed back to San Diego in a couple of days we decided to meet for dinner down on Walking Street and hit a few go-go bars. For this mission for which I’d leave my girlfriend back at the condo I also needed to have my good friend Ross along as well. So we all met at the Beer Garden at 7:45 and sat at a table overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. I had the Lasagne and a couple of beers, the Lasagne running 190 baht which is $6.33 which is more than reasonable considering the terrific atmosphere of the place. The Beer Garden is owned by a New Zealander who goes by the moniker Pattaya Pete, who one of our waitresses told me has not been at the restaurant for quite awhile.

Now Pattaya Pete is an exceptional guy, not being greedy the way so many restaurant owners are who have restaurants that front directly on the Gulf. Let me give you a couple of examples of this. I belong to a health club at the Centara Hotel which is roughly half a mile down the street from my condo. The Pattaya Centara Grande is a five star hotel which is one hotel out of a chain located in Hua Hin, Bang Kok, Trat, and Krabi here in Thailand as well as in Singapore and other cities in Asia. In the front of the Centara is a theme park that has a number of swimming pools for one thing and this theme park stretches out to Centara’s beach on the Gulf of Thailand. Among other things, one of the pools is called “The River”. I once waded around the River’s entire length and paced it off and found it to be roughly 360 yards long throughout its meandering course. I believe the River is modeled from a tropical rainforest. It has a tunnel that is 90 yards long. There are cliffs along the sides of the River and there are pedestrian walk bridges overhead. I will often swim its entire length, not once but two or three times although I don’t think swimming the River is the greatest exercise in the world. This is because of the artificial current that sweeps swimmers along its entire length that give me an estimated speed of say 2 miles an hour even if I’m barely moving my arms and legs. Most of the hotel’s guests do not swim the River. Instead they float its length on clear colored plastic rafts.

My membership at the Centara Fitness Center gives me free access to Centara’s magnificent tennis courts, but its inside the health club where I spend most of my time. The health club has a wide assortment of exercise machines costing up to $15,000 each. Lately I’ve been putting my own music on a usb device which I plug into a usb receptacle on the treadmill or elliptical machine. Last night I brought in two of my USB devices one with the music on it, most of it Golden Oldies, the other with the Pimsleur Thai language course. I did lesson 10 (out of 30) while doing one hour on the elliptical before switching to the music USB. It costs over $1000 for an annual membership for two but my girlfriend and I believe its well worth it and spend a couple of hours in the health club 5 to 6 days a week. But I’m digressing here. I was talking about the Beer Garden down on Walking Street and Pattaya Pete and after that I must go on about the go go bars.

The point I’m making is Pattaya Pete is not a greedy person and his business is now paying off in spades because Pattaya Pete unlike most Thais takes good care of his customers. When you join the Centara you get a plastic card with your picture on it. Among other things you get 15 % off on all food and beverages except for during Centara’s Happy hours in its bars. My girlfriend and I used to go to one of Centara’s restaurants called the Flame for its terrific salad bar buffets. We’d order a Chilli or grilled chicken for roughly 330 baht or whatever was cheapest on the menu and that would get us the salad bar at no extra charge. But when I paid $1200 for my 1 year health club membership Centara started doing its salad buffets as stand alones but charged 450 baht for them and if you”d get say the chilli, you’d have to pay extra for the salad buffet, so my 15 % discount turned out to be worthless. Another example is another of Centara’s restaurants,the Oasis, which used to charge 160 baht $5.33 for an excellent club sandwich. It wasn’t long that the hotel restaurant upped its prices to 280 baht or $9.33 for the same sandwich while increasing its prices on nearly all its dishes for a similar amount. So it doesn’t amaze me that most of the hotel’s restaurants are practically empty most of the time. But that’s typical Thai management for you that hasn’t figured out yet about the economic principles of supply and demand. The thinking here is that if you don’t sell many meals you increase the prices of those meals thinking that’s going to get you more money. Thankfully not all Thai managers think that way, but most of them do.

There is that restaurant down on the beach next to Centara. I went there with some friends and my girlfriend where I paid 350 baht for my spaghetti and on top of that the restaurant was charging a 10 percent service charge. But here at Pattaya Pete’s Beer Garden I was having a much better meal, the spaghetti for 190 baht, and with no service charge. So I had commented to one of my waitresses, “This place seems pretty empty now that low season has hit, but I’ll still bet you have over 100 people here. And during high season, the last time I was here I’ll bet you had 150 people here.” I had even heard that Pete used to let Thai women come into his place and at a certain time he had a special happy hour for them during which they got their first drink free. So what happened is Pete wound up getting a lot of free lancers coming into his restaurant and this got a lot of men coming in who wanted prostitutes to take home with them but who were unwilling to pay the bar fines charged in the Walking Street go-go bars. So now, a man who comes to the Beer Garden not only gets the terrific atmosphere of this large open air establishment that juts right into the Gulf of Thailand, it also has great prices for food and drinks, and all these free lancers to pick from if he’s so inclined. So it’s no small wonder that there’s always a big crowd here.

Our first stop was at the Lighthouse, a go go bar that has two rows of small tables on both sides of a long narrow stage on which about 15 go go dancers were showing off their stuff. Like most go-go bars, the Lighthouse has two shifts of girls taking their turns on the stage so there’s about thirty girls working here and in the case of the Lighthouse, many of them are drop dead gorgeous. YOu will never find such an assortment of beauty in the United States, and I don’t care where you go, even if it’s the most elite, expensive strip gentlemen’s club in your city. Ross turned to me and said, “It’s all the fish heads and rice these girls have been eating that does it. I love it here. This is the best place on earth.”

Lenny’s seated to my left and Ross is on my right. The beer here is 135 baht which is getting close to five bucks a bottle. Draft beer is cheaper but it seems like every time Ross and I get down to Walking Street and order draft beer that we get sick. So we always get the bottled beer now, both of us believing that the go go bars are not washing their glasses properly. Right off Lenny spies a terrific looking girl on stage while Ross and I are commenting on another girl who is equally attractive. Ross calls out to a waitress to get the girl off the stage for him so that he can buy her a drink. A couple of minutes later the girl is sitting between Lenny and me. She looked on the tall side up on the stage. Many of them do because of the high heels they are wearing and because you are often looking upwards at them. But sitting next to me this girl appeared very petite and without an ounce of flab on her, like a Thai version of Barbie Doll. Lenny bought the girl a drink, which surprised Ross and me because normally Lenny is pretty cheap, but then again, at go go bars it’s av-requirement that you call a girl off the stage.

For a moment another very pretty girl appeared only two feet in front of the two small tables we sat at. Suddenly one of the waitresses asked us if we wanted her to sit with us. Ross was quick to tell the waitress, “My Owl Kap,” which means “No thank you.” as I gave both women a sign of disinterest.

“it’s a waste of money to buy girls drinks here,” said Ross. It’s a show club and I’ll bet that girl sitting next to Lenny will be asking 4000 baht and she won’t be doing any long times either. Well, 4000 baht is around $130 U.S. or so and that doesn’t even count the bar fine one has to pay the go go bar.

“Yep…..and as soon as the girl leaves you after you have her over for the short time she’s likely to be going to a Thai karaoke bar where she is going to give your money to some young Thai guy who she’s going to pay for sex.” Either that or she’s going to be coming back here hoping to do another short time with someone else or hitting one of the go go bars like Tony’s disco or Lucifers and do a short time with someone she meets there who’s not about to pay a barfine.

We agreed that neither of us would be throwing our money away, not even to buy a girl a single drink. Not here, anyway, and me, if I did barfine a girl where would I take her? Even if a walked her down to a nearby short time hotel someone who knew my girlfriend might see me with a go go girl in tow and she’d be very quick to tell my girlfriend as soon as she got the chance. But i also found the idea of giving my money to some Thai guy to be pretty disgusting.

Meanwhile Lenny was negotiating with the pretty girl sitting next to us. She was willing to do a short time with him she said but when he tried to explain to her that he wanted her for long time and where we lived in Naklua she acted as if she had no idea where Naklua was. Ross commented, “She doesn’t care where Lenny takes her, she only cares about getting a short time done as quickly as possible.”

On the way to the next go go bar once we were all out on the street, Lenny told us the girl was willing to do a short time for 2000 baht which Ross told him was a much more fair price than he thought she’d be charging. That’s around sixty dollars. However Lenny also told us the bar fine was now 800 baht at this go go club and that adds another $27.00 to the price so the whole thing would be about $90. But with the American dollar going down as much as it has been lately we are getting up to more like $100.00. I told Ross I’d probably be able to get the girl down to 1500 baht or even 1000 baht. Here’s the way I’d do it. First I’d not take any girl out of the Lighthouse or any other go go bar unless I was paying her a price that I was comfortable paying. I used to go to the hottest go go bar in Pattaya. I’d go there a few times without paying any of the girls but finally I offered one of the girls 1000 baht for short time back at my condo. She went for it. Later when she was out with another customer I bought another girl a drink, a girl who knew the girl I had been paying 1000 baht to and I offered to take her back to my condo for 1’000 baht, but first I told her this is what I was paying the first girl. The second girl agreed to my price and I took her back to my condo for 1000 baht plus the bar fine of 600 baht. I continued to do this until I had bar fined six different girls all at the same go go bar and each time I approached a girl I would tell her, “This is what I pay all the girls, 1000 baht.” Thing was I knew all the girls were talking to each other and they all knew I was a 1000 baht man. Meanwhile most of the customers at this club were Japanese or Korean and I can say with absolute certainly that they were paying several times as much as I was paying.

Lenny almost went back to bar fine the girl. Instead, we went to Roxy’s just up the street. Here the beers were once again 135 baht for a bottle. Ross was immediately approached by one of the prettiest girls in the place who simply followed us to the table we were being escorted to and took a seat next to him. He bought her a drink and for awhile she snuggled up next to him. But after fifteen minutes or so she was called out onto the stage and she never returned to our table, and probably because she asked him for a second drink and he had refused to buy it for her. Then Ross and Lenny noticed one of the more attractive girls sitting with several of the other girls near the stage and both commented, “She’s making signs at the other girls. I’ll bet she’s deaf.”

Ross got a waitress to ask the girl to join us at our table. He bought her a drink, and she was, as suspected, completely dead and dumb. The girl asked the waitress for a pen and then she brought out a piece of paper. On it she wrote, “I am deaf.” This started a series of paper exchanges with Ross replying to the girl and the girl in return replying to her as they passed the paper and pen between them. She was a pretty little slip of a girl with clever eyes. All three of us agreed that there were advantages to having a girlfriend who was deaf and dumb. “It would almost be like the Stefford wives,” I told Ross.

Our next stop was Spanky’s a go go bar where a lot of “Spanking” went on. The club had these clubs that looked like cut down baseball bats but they were soft and flexible so it didn’t hurt at all if you struck someone with one. But they’d make a noise that sure made it sound like one’s victim was getting a real shellacking. Before we even got in the door one of the girls took my hat off my head, told me she’d be coming back to me wearing it and then she disappeared into the dressing room. A few minutes later she took a seat next to me and I ordered a drink for her. Later she asked for a tequila and since I was already thinking about tequila and all the tequilas I had drunk with all those strippers I used to drink with back in the U.S. I ordered one for both of us, then another.

Rather than get into what was going on, suffice it to say that the girl was all over me and the more tequila she had drunk the more she lost her inhibitions. It was time to leave and go to the next place. Which was Baby Dolls.

Well let me tell you, there sure were a lot of godawful girls in there. None of them approached us although later on one girl came over from the stage and took a seat next to mine at the small table next to us. But she just sat there remote and disinterested so I let that well alone. The music was terrific at Baby Dolls however.

One thing about most go go bars is they play their music for their girls and not for their customers. So they wind up playing all this syntho music which isn’t music at all being computer created garbage and they also play a lot of what I call Da Da music. that’s music consisting of two, which is not even three beats as in “Da Da Da Da……then more quickly now, “Da da da da. The loudness of the notes either increases or decreases and so does the frequency but it’s all linear and just two beats. It’s complete crap. This is one of the reasons all my German friends won’t go go the go go bars. Germans just won’t put up with it. Their tastes are simply too refined. In fact, as it turns out, it’s Germans who are the biggest fans of old English and AMerican songs dating back to the 1960’s Which is ironical because most of my English and American friends don’t care what is playing at all. Here at Baby Dolls they were getting their music right.

But it was time to leave. I had promised my girlfriend I’d be back by 2 a.m. and we had only forty-five minutes before I’d have to catch a baht taxi back to my motorbike which I’d then drive down the backstreets back to my condo. Ross and I chose the Silver Star as our last place.

Taking seats right up against the stage, we ordered our beers and then Ross commented, “It’s getting close to closing and the girls have all turned into zombies.” Then he added…..”These girls are all the rejects from all the other clubs” But some of them were pretty good looking. It’s just that they were all acting as if we weren’t even there. But I had caught the eye of one of the girls who was sitting by herself away from the stage. By this time Lenny had long ago left us. But after a few minutes the girl who had been sitting alone who I had my back to now that I was sitting in front of the stage brushed by me a couple of times jostling me as she walked past me. I just kept jostling her back, just hard enough to make it clear that I was doing it on purpose. Then I told her in Thai, “Your hair is yellow. You are Russian.” This started even more flirting back and forth but she never came up to me to sit next to me, nor did she ask for a drink. Had it been much earlier in the evening or if I had stayed later, one way or the other she would have been sitting next to me. But as it turned out another girl, one of the most attractive girls in the whole place came up to me as I sat next to Ross. My mind now blurs thinking how it started, and really it doesn’t matter, but I started feeling the girl’s stomach which was flat as a board and then I told her she was same same me, and that I was not fat and then I had her feel my stomach as I took up from my chair.” Then she started pushing herself up against me and putting her arms around me until our bodies touched all the way up and down from our breastbones to our knees as we held each other tight.

Then she took a seat next to mine and I kept telling her how pretty she was but I had a girlfriend back waiting for me at the condo and I had to be back at 2:00. A few minutes later I left her after saying goodbye both to her and the other girl I had been flirting with.

It took just five minutes for the first baht taxi to pull away from the curb and to pull away filled with passengers and for the taxi that was next in line to back up to take the spot that had been occupied by its predecessor. A group of people who had been waiting their turn got on. In an instant this taxi was filled as well and I wound up standing on the step that had been mounted just below where the pickup truck’s bumper would normally had been. It costs just 10 baht to go anywhere up or down the line the baht taxis followed. In this case the taxis were all going as far as Naklua which meant 10 baht would be taking me all the way to the Tavern Restaurant where I had parked my motorbike. Baht taxis were converted pickup trucks which had two long bench seats facing each other in their beds. Over the heads of he passengers fiberglass roofs had been mounted to protect the occupants from the rain. On the bottom of the roof within easy reach of the passengers were three or four buzzers which looked like little doorbells. The baht taxis operated like buses traveling up and down their routes letting off each passenger when he pushed a doorbell. This is a great deal for thirty cents which would be paid by each passenger as soon as he dismounted from the pickup bed after which he’d walk over to the driver’s window and hand over a ten baht coin, or if he didn’t have the correct amount he’d hopefully receive his change. I mentioned hopefully because some unscrupulous drivers will tell a passenger that he doesn’t have any change so if the customer pays him say a twenty baht note, he will pocket the entire amount.

I’ve been pick pocketed twice on these baht buses. The modus operandi is as follows. Usually two or three individuals will get on the taxi who clearly do not belong in that particular place at that particular time. For example, there will be an attractive 15 year old girl with an older woman who’s usually downright ugly and old enough to be more than old enough to be the girl’s mother. But say it’s 1 o’clock in the morning. The older woman and the young girl clearly do not belong in that time at that place. One expects for example to see Westerner’s returning to their hotels or condos. So there might be single guys going home along or couples, even groups who have been going to the entertainment spots together. There might be a single Thai guy, or a girl wanting to go home to bed who’s been working somewhere in a bar or selling movies or clothing or whatever while going from bar to bar hawking her merchandise to the customers. There might be even two bar girls going home together or going to a disco where they can hopefully pick up customers. But an old bag of a lady with a 15 year old girl? They just don’t fit in here at 1 a.m. They certainly have not been shopping together because all the shopping centers and markets have closed down a long time ago.

And that’s exactly what happened to me one of the times I was being pick pocketed. The way it went is this young girl came over and sat right up next to me, almost against me. She had been carrying some sort of a coat or blanket and she put it up on top of her lap and then she started rubbing her hand around under the blanket. Then the old bag who was with her came over from where she had been sitting across from us and two passengers over and the old bag sat on the young girl’s lap. I even thought to myself, “they are trying to pick pocket me, and here’s how it’s working. The old bag comes over to upset my concentration. Meanwhile the girl will get her hand into my pocket.

One friend of mine, a Norwegian had been pick pocketed by a small crew of thieves. A lady boy sat across from him and engaged him in conversation as the lady man’s accomplice sat up next to my friend. My friend was distracted by his conversation with the lady man and didn’t even feel the accomplice pull his wallet from his pocket. Knowing what had happened to my friend I was now on guard, expecting to be pick pocketed, but I wanted to catch them in the act. I could sense the girl’s hand beneath the blanket near me up against my upper leg. And I kept waiting to feel her hand go down into my pocket but I never felt a thing. She was so good that even though I was waiting for it I never felt anything and suddenly my wallet was gone, the young girl and her much older companion got off the taxi with one or two people who were traveling with them and that was that.

One night I was returning back from Walking Street with two of my friends when four girls got on the taxi who once again did not fit in with coming out of nowhere in Naklua at 1 a.m. Once they boarded the taxi and took their seats my friends and I started talking about pick pockets while all of us were very careful so as not to let the girls sit anywhere near us. Within five minutes all four girls got off the taxi, but not one of them paid the driver. Later, when I paid the driver the 10 baht taxi fare I got a close look at his eyes and I knew he was a hard man with dishonest eyes. Clearly he was in on it, knowing only too well who the girls were and what they were up to.

So here I was standing on the rear step of the baht bus when Ross comes up next to us driving his motorbike. We exchange a few words and then Ross passes us on his way home. The man standing on the step next to me asks, “Do you know that man?” I tell him that Ross is an American friend of mine who’s been drinking with me all night.”

“Why does he drive a motorbike and you riding the taxi?” the man asks.

“Well most of my friends are not as smart as me,”i tell the man. I know that most of these drivers around here are complete idiots, some of the worse in the world and I’m scared to death of them. Especially at night and especially when I”m drinking. So I’ve left my motorbike up the street which I’ll pick up in a few minutes and drive once I’m out of the traffic. Actually I own a car and a motorbike.

The man agrees with me. And when I ask him where he’s from he tells me he’s Russian and he’s from Siberia where it gets awfully cold.

I know all about Siberia I tell the man. You Russians sent your famous writer, Dostoevsky to Siberia.” I then tell the man that I’ve found Siberians to be the most friendly out of all the Russians I’ve met and how I know from History how it was 25 Siberian divisions which turned the tide against the Germans during the battle for Moscow during World War II.

At this point the two Russian women are smiling a lot and making a comment or two. In no time the bus approaches the Tavern Restaurant so I have to get off the taxi and say goodbye to the Siberian and the two Russian girls.

Amazing Thailand and Pattaya’s the most exciting city in the entire country. One moment I’m cussing all the Russians who are clogging up my street who don’t have the common sense to realize they are not on a sidewalk but on a street meant for cars and that standing out in the middle of the street is not the place to be holding a conversation. And most of them can’t speak one word of Thai and no more than five words of English, those being “Me Russia. No speak English.” But that afternoon I”ve got a beautiful shapely Russian woman exercising next to me on the elliptical machine next to mine. Then after encountering one unsmiling Russian face after the other I meet someone like this Siberian, who speaks excellent English and super friendly to boot.

I get back to my condo at ten minutes to two. My girlfriend is in the large bedroom with the light on watching television waiting for me.

My reply to “Why are Thai women so sexy”

This came from The Looking Glass Magazine Forum as my reply to a new member to the forum that I created at http://www.alphapro.com/forums2.htm

(My reply was to this) I love Thai women because they are very skinny and fit. Thai food is healthy and they don’t eat much fast food. Another thing about them is good skin. And finally, they know how to take care of man and please him. Femininity is the sexiest thing about any woman

You have made some good points here. Sadly, there is a tendency here in Thailand towards fatness. Thai women,in general like most women everywhere, do not like to exercise. Now it might be different back home in the village, but here in Pattaya nearly everyone owns or has access to a motorbike. So most Thais will not walk with the exception of those Thais who will jog or walk for exercise. But this is a relatively small percentage, same as it is in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile more and more Thais are getting addicted to the kinds of fast foods readily available in the 7-11’s here, Family Marts etc as well as to a lot of Western foods. My girlfriend,for instance, loves Spaghetti and Pizza. However, a lot of Thai women are quite willing to cook, and I do mean everyday. And a good Thai woman is very talented at cooking. They do not view this activity as something men should do. It is just something women are expected to do and they prefer going to the local markets where the produce is fresh and cheaper than the supermarkets. Also…being the social people they are they seem to enjoy eating in groups, and when they do, it’s not pizza they are eating…it’s Papaya salad, otherwise known as Pok Pok, which is pretty spicy and therefore promotes good metabolism.

So it’s a mixed bag here. It seems fatness is spreading all over the world from the U.S. This includes even China and Thailand and this is largely due to the natural human inclination not to exercise, the introduction of a lot of sugars into diets that were formerly largely sugar free, a growing addiction to Western food, substitution for walking with motorbikes and cars now that other countries are becoming more prosperous, and the proliferation of 7-11’s, Family Marts and similar convenience stores where processed foods are immediately available.

Still….Thailand has in my opinion the absolutely most beautiful girls on earth, and Pattaya has a huge concentration of them. Meanwhile the U.S. in particular has become the land of fat. It’s gotten to be so bad in the U.S. that even reputable magazines such as “Time” and “Newsweek” are coming up with articles that claim that exercising on a regular basis does no good and that going to the gym on a regular basis might actually encourage people to indulge themselves into eating that special desert afterwards or having that extra martini. Now this is complete rubbish. I have noticed that Russian women (many of whom are also godawful fat) who do exercise take their exercise much more seriously than most Americans do. When they get on the treadmill or elliptical machine they get on it and stay on it for forty minutes or an hour and it’s no nonsense all the way. There’s none of this getting off the treadmill to answer a cell phone call or to continue to go through the motions of exercising while talking on the phone. But I’ve seen Koreans, Taiwanese and Thais do it. And that is a huge reason why so many Russian women have such gorgeous bodies. For that matter a lot of Russian men take their exercise very seriously, but from what I’ve seen the men seem to prefer strength building exercise such as free weights and strength building machines instead of aerobic forms of exercise. Ever wonder why the Russians did so extremely well in the Olympics and usually trashed Americans when it came to sports requiring great strength? Its not because the Communist system created a lot of inhuman robots which it then filled with testosterone. Russians in general simply take their exercise more seriously than Americans. When they go to the gym, they go there to exercise, not to see and to be seen or not so that they can go home and brag about how often they go to the gym, but somehow it never seems to get results.

As far as Thai women being far more feminine than Western women, I agree with you absolutely. And this is no myth. This is based on my personal experience after living in Thailand for more than six years now and having had four live in Thai girlfriends, the first one for 7 months, the second girl for 19 months, the third for 10 months and my present girlfriend now for over 3 years. Western women cannot have their cake and eat it too. They must decide….do I want to be sexy and attractive or so I want to compete with men? Most of them have chosen by their own free will to choose being manlike over being feminine and sexy. So sorry girls, if I and so many men like me have chosen to take my male libido elsewhere in the form of outsourcing. It’s because our libidos have for some time existed in a state of suspended animation.

What I have seen in my Thai girlfriends and Thai women in general is they view personal appearance and sexiness as a worthy goal in itself–perhaps even the greatest goal of all. They revel in shopping for good looking attractive clothing and then they will spend hours putting it on, trying different garments and even shoes in front of the mirror asking me, “Am I sexy or not?” They enjoy it when I call them cute. Whereas many Western women might consider it offensive if I call them cute because they might take this as my not taking them seriously. They shower at least twice a day, and never, not once have I ever been around a Thai woman who smelled bad. In fact, they view people from other nationalities as being dirty because of a lack of personal hygiene, notably people from India and oftentimes even Chinese. And as far as taking care of the man, most of them do tend to do that. I think it’s largely on account of their being culturally brain washed. That is they learn early on that it is a woman’s job to do ALL the cleaning and the cooking and doing the dishes the laundry, the ironing. This is women’s work and it’s the man’s job to do other things.

But now that I’ve said all these nice things about Thai women…BEWARE. Because like all women or for that matter people everywhere in the world, people are not created equal. There are good and bad, and there’s plenty of bad to go around here, even in Thailand.

Why are Thai Women so Sexy?

There’s two reasons. The first is, they want to be women, not men. The second reason we are not sure of, although we can hazard a few guesses. But certainly we can say that physically Thai women are physically superior to Western women for whatever reason. This is a fact although this fact might be arguable. The picture is of a sloth and to a sloth this sloth is sexy. It might be that a sloth might be sexy to some men as well and it could very well be that some men prefer fat women. For those who do we advise you to leave immediately and go to a fat women’s web site. For those who don’t, please read on.

My first point is Thai women want to look and to behave like women whereas most Western women want to be men. That is a fact. Just take a look at many of today’s action movies. Do you see women behaving like men or like women? Compare such modern day movies to say “King Kong” where Jessica Lange played the object of King Kong’s affections. That was back in 1976. That was thirty-six years ago and Jessica Lange was one helluva babe. As for King Kong, who could argue with his manliness and strength. Certainly Jessica lange, the female protagonist in the movie could not begin to match King Kong’s great strength, courage and other male virtues. She was feminine, weak, and beautiful and as such she appealed immensely to the courageous, virile King Kong. Now let us advance the time frame ten years to “Aliens” starring Sigourney Weaver. The vulnerable feminine Jessica Lange has just been replaced by super heroine Sigourney Weaver who is smarter and stronger than all the men. And so the stage changed with women playing roles where they can fight as well or better than men who they can usually out think at every turn as well.

For better or worse what has emerged is a new breed of action hero and women have sought this as their role model. Meanwhile Thai woman have been content to be just a woman. And I should know as I am on my fourth and hopefully my last Thai girlfriend. At 95 pounds she doesn’t even pretend to be able to match my physical strength. She enjoys going out shopping for new clothes, hats and shoes. But never mind….such things are cheap here and for the most part she uses her own money. And after she’s bought something she will revel in looking at herself in front of a full length mirror (notice how I wrote full length mirror) which she can use not to view just her head but her entire body from her feet upwards. She will then oftentimes model other garments and ask me which I like the best or if she’s sexy or not.

The clothing is well styled and it’s well suited for showing off a girl’s figure. Very seldom will you ever see a Thai woman wearing a suit. You will not find them wearing gunny sacks either or extra large body bags,colored black, to hide most of their bodies. Thai women revel in showing off their trim little figures. They love wearing high heels, which everyone knows are a pain to walk in, but they like the high heels and the higher the better because they know that high heels gives them a longer legged and lankier figure which makes them look as tall as possible.

Very seldom will you find Thai women wearing U.S. or Thai army fatigues because they think they look cool wearing them. They are well dressed even when they do down to the beach. Style is everything and appearing like a man just doesn’t get it.

My next point is Thai women simply have much more beautiful bodies. They are slim and they have tight little butts, which is something that is more rare than gold these days in a Western woman. My girlfriend tells me part of the reason for this is all the spicy food they eat. She’s right. I just looked up chilli peppers and spicy food on the Internet which verifies much of what she’s told me. Thais eat spicy food and chilli peppers to excess, and I will tell you this, when you eat food as spicy as my girlfriend like it you will sweat a lot, your metabolism goes up and that causes a person to lose weight. Furthermore Thais do not view eating out as driving their cars up to a McDonalds window where they won’t have to walk more than forty feet to get into their cars in the first place. And they don’t keep frozen pizzas in their fridge either. I’ve been living here for six years now and although I have a full sized kitchen with every amenity I want, I still don’t have an oven that we can use for cooking pizzas and other heath robbing meals.

For all I know you might be into sloths but for most of us who want women who act like and look like women Western countries such as the United States forgot a long time ago what it means to have a good body or what it means to act like a woman. It is no wonder why virtual sex has become so popular in the West or why there’s a do it myself revival. If you want the real thing, however, you had better be coming to Asia where women still have the bodies and attitudes of women. And here the sexiest women of them all are the Thai women.

Why am I doing the GOP cartoon strip?

I can’t draw so why should I even attempt doing a cartoon strip? It’s very simple. The entire reason for my doing the GOP cartoon strip is an act of unbridled patriotism. http://www.thailandlooking.com/looking/index.htm For one thing, the Republican party is not at all what it once was when it offered Americans clear alternatives to what the other party was offering. There used to be such a thing as a moderate Republican whose attitudes and views represented a mainstream America in which either a moderate Republican or a moderate Democrat was often willing to vote for either party depending on which party seemed to have the most qualified candidate. I remember not many years ago watching a debate between the conservative commentator and writer, William Buckley, and Norman Mailer. In my judgment the debate was no contest with the conservative,Buckley, winning over his much more liberal opponent. Today, there are no more William Buckleys. Today’s GOP makers and shakers are comprised of the likes of political candidates such as Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Christine O’Donnel many of whom probably cannot even place Iceland on a map. Meanwhile the Bill Buckley’s have given way to such pundits as the Sean Hannidys and Glenn Becks of Fox News, and the likes of radio talk show kings of venom as Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh. Ronald Reagan, who was once considered to be an ultra conservative would be considered to be an ultra liberal in today’s Republican party . Since those days the Republican Party has been hijacked by a right wing that refuses to acknowledge that climate change could even possibly be man made while catering to Christian evangelism as it preaches either Creationism or Intelligent Design (which amounts to the same thing) as the origins of the human species rather than evolution. Things haven’t been this bad since the glory days of the Spanish Inquisition when they used to burn witches. The GOP has even found its own propaganda machine of enormous power and influence in Fox News. It has dedicated itself to defeating Barrack Obama from the first day he took office while denying that it was the policies of President Bush that caused the great recession. The GOP blamed today’s huge deficits entirely on Obama while it conveniently forgot that Bill Clinton handed William Busch a balanced budget which the Republicans blew into an out of control deficit by starting two wars while implementing not one but two tax decreases to pay for them just for starters. To a man, the Republican party has tried to block every Obama initiative at every turn, in a relentless and uncompromising effort to ensure his failure just so it can win the next election. I see this not just as an ongoing attack on our president but upon the United States itself. By doing everything in its power to destroy everything our president is doing just to make itself look good, the GOP is guilty of treason. After all isn’t doing everything in your power to ensure that the nation fails, treason? It is treason, especially when the nation is on a perilous perch overseeing a Great Recession that is on the verge of becoming a Great Depression far more traumatic and longer lasting than what the world experienced during the 1930’s.

Adolf Hitler had his Joseph Goebbels heading his powerful propaganda machine. The GOP and its new ultra conservative base has its Fox News, which is arguably even more influential than anything the Nazis ever were able to deploy because of the huge technological advantages possessed by television and the internet. So far the Ultra Conservatives, the GOP and Fox News are winning by being able to shape public opinion to their way of thinking. Unfortunately I have utterly no talent whatsoever at drawing. When I submitted my fifth Dick Fitswell short story to Jeremy McTeague who was then my editor over at Extreme Magazine Jeremy asked me to try to create a cartoon, and when I told Jeremy I absolutely could not draw, he asked me to try anyway. And so I did, and after trying my best Jeremy sent me an email that said, “You are right, Jack. You cannot draw.” The cartoon I had sent Xtreme was never published. But here I am again, creating cartoons when I know I am completely devoid of talent. But I must do what I can even if it’s to influence just one person that Fox News and the GOP are as dishonest and spiritually bankrupt as it gets.

Handling Israel

The solution is very simple—-stop the Jewish settlements on the Left Bank now. But the questions to this are the how and why do we accomplish this. The how is to simply tell Netanyahu “The gravy train stops” until you do. “All aid ceases as of now, our umbrella of military support ends as of now, and never mind those “friends of Israel lobbies” that have wielded a completely unjustified influence over American foreign policy because as of this moment our ears are deaf to their demands. As to why—-because it’s the only right thing to do. Justice demands it.

I used to think of Israel as this tiny nation, where the survivors of the holocaust emigrated to, valiantly defending itself against its Arab enemies and winning in the face of overwhelming odds. So I cheered whenever Israel won because I equated its conflicts as battles between the forces of the righteous underdog against the forces of evil. Until—that is, my second trip to Israel when my wife and I boarded our flight to Egypt in Tel Aviv.

On the plane we met several Californians distributing their literature describing the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population. On that flight we learned how the Israeli state systematically cowed Palestinian males into accepting their underdog status by jailing practically every Palestinian youth by the time he was twenty on one pretext of the other. We learned the truth about all those wondrous Jewish settlements and kibbutzes providing homes for Jews emigrating to Israel from all over the world, especially from Russia and other Eastern European countries. The truth was entire villages were being forced at gunpoint to move elsewhere to make room for the newcomers. Never mind the fact that such villages had vineyards and orange groves that had existed for thousands of years in Palestinian hands. Never mind that one’s family had lived in the same house for several generations or more. If the Israelis wanted you out, you might have just three days to move your possessions somewhere else before the bulldozers came in.

The Californians were members of a large Christian church congregation that had paid their travel expenses to Israel so that they could find out and spread the truth about all the atrocities Israel was committing against the Palestinian people. But after returning to the United States my vision of Israel had not been tainted completely until the revelations of the Californian church group were aired on sixty minutes. And that did it. Not only had I learned about the bull dozing of all those Palestinian homes and the forced ejections of their owners from the mouths and handouts of the Californians, here I was actually watching it all happen before my very own eyes on television. From that moment on I stopped being a fan of Israel. But that was back in something like 1990. Twenty-two years have gone by since then and nothing’s changed.

But Israel is our great ally in the Mideast, right? Yeah, since when? We supply the jets, the M-16 rifles, and the money and Israeli turns around to become the world’s greatest supplier of MIG parts by shooting Russian built planes out of the sky. But seriously, what has Israel ever done for the U.S.? Its occupation of Jordanian and Syrian territory ever since the successful conclusion of the 7 day war of 1967 has given Americans nothing more than a seedbed for terrorism and one huge headache. And oh yes….a reason for cheering on the sentimental underdog–those feisty outnumbered survivors of the Holocaust fighting back against tremendous odds. Oh those poor Jews.

But don’t think me for one moment to be anti-Semitic though. The members of my maternal grandfather’s family are buried in Chicago in a Jewish cemetery, and it was this revelation together with the fact that two of my grandfather’s sisters were named Esther and Lydia that caused my sisters and I wonder if our mother wasn’t 50 % Jewish. It’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just that certain groups are very bad news, not just for the rest of the world, but for the more progressive, intelligent members of Jewish society.

I will not point out two incidents involving the Orthodox Israeli Jews of Mea Shearim just to show how diverse this thing, called Jewishness is, and how what seems to benefit one group of Jews is of no benefit to others and might go so far as to undermine the goals and aspirations of such other elements of the Jewish nation of Israel. The first was on my first trip to Jerusalem. Our tour guide, David, used a cane to help him walk because of injuries he had suffered while fighting in four of Israel’s wars. Our group that was composed both of Christians and Jews had just gotten out of our tour bus in the middle of Mea Shearim when suddenly we were confronted by what appeared to be a lynch mob of bearded men wearing the black robes and hats of Israeli Jewish antiquity. Our group nearly incited a riot because of the appearance of most of the women getting off the bus whose dress had exposed their arms and legs. To the inhabitants of Mea Shearim such a “public display of nudity” was an unforgivable atrocity. Our group ended up retreating into our tour bus as David raised his cane to fend off the mob.

The second incident was during my second visit to Israel. My wife and I had just gotten off the plane in Tel Aviv. We accosted a taxi and asked the driver to take us to our hotel in Jerusalem and then we climbed into the cab. Before our driver could get underway, a bearded Israeli wearing the funny hat and clothes started speaking to him in Hebrew. Then the man got in. Our driver then waited another ten minutes for three of the funny looking man’s friends to arrive and then he took us all to Jerusalem. It takes roughly thirty minutes to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but this time it took us at least one hour to get to our hotel because the driver took his new passengers to Mea Shearim which was way out of our way before depositing us at our hotel.

For me, the inhabitants of Mea Shearim are the product of a very odious time warp. Furthermore I cannot see them doing anything good for the modern Israeli state. From my understanding Israel doesn’t police Mea Sherim nor does it have any of its military in Mea Sherim. I believe the Orthodox Jews of Mea Shearim are exempt from military service and perhaps even of having to pay taxes to the Israeli government.

But whereas Mea Shearim might be a curious eye sore and a pain in the butt for most Israelis, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right wing supporters are just pure evil, ironically in the same sense as those S.S. who were responsible for the Final Solution’s treatment of Jews during the Second World War. Their game plan is to keep building new residential areas in the left bank so that this entire area that would be part of the Palestinian portion of a new two state division of Israel would resemble a checkerboard which would later give the Israelis reason to claim that a two state solution is impossible.

And it is this perpetuation of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands that Netanyahu has given our president Obama as a take it or leave it proposition. All of this amounts to Netanyahu pointing a gun at Obama’s head and saying…..”You try and stop us from continuing to dispossess these Palestinians and I am going to convince my American friends of Israel to combine all of its considerable political and economic power to cost you this next election.

So…it’s Israel first and American second. “We have more power than you have, Mr. Obama so if you think we are behaving the same way Americans did during the Westward expansion as they were exterminating American Indians to make room for new settlers in their native lands, there is simply nothing you can do about it.

These are not the actions of an ally. It’s time for Israel, to have to take care of its own back from now on. It’s the only just thing to do.

Publish “Dick Fitswell, man in search of the Perfect penis fit”?

Should I publish Fitswell or not?  The man in search of the Perfect penis fit s first five misadventures already appearing in two adult magazines. But Jim Lilly’s advice not to write Fitswell under my normal pseudonym still haunted me. Jim Lilly was the owner of the Wild Times Magazine, a small St. Louis based adult publication, and Jim was excited about getting me to create Dick Fitswell, having come all the way over from the St. Louis side to my East side apartment. Jim might have been all fired up about Fitswell, but I wasn’t. I wanted him to publish, Return to Visions a piece I had written about my returning to Visions Gentlemen’s club of my favorite strip clubs down scenic route 157 that meanders along the Mississippi River bluffs where the river long ago had made its channel. That night I had taken one of the dancers home from the club the long way. Early that morning, the girl and I had gone over to Monk’s Mound, climbed its steps and surveyed the landscape, a hundred feet below us, in the moonlight–a landscape of prehistoric Indian mounds of a once proud civilization now called Cahokia Mounds. To make a long story short I reluctantly agreed to write Fitswell in return for Jim’s publishing Return to Visions in his magazine. And now, after having finally written 28 episodes the real issue is whether to pull the plug and to publish the new Fitswell book or not.

Dick Fitswell is a horrible man whose only goal in life is to bang as many women as possible. But this single goal is only a means to an end, which is to find the perfect fit for his overly large male appendage. Whether he gets along with a woman or doesn’t and whether she’s a good person or not doesn’t matter, and for that matter whether she’s beautiful, although it helps, doesn’t begin to measure up to whether she fits or not. The Fitswell stories are pornographic, and I’ve never liked porn very much. But ever since getting halfway through writing the first Dick Fitswell story I’ve never stopped laughing as I’ve brought my character through one improbable misadventure after the other. Whereas the least enjoyable part of writing about Fitswell’s experience was writing about him having sex, I’d have the most fun thinking about where I’d drop him off next and how I could create a situation where Fitswell would get his just deserts right after doing something despicable to one of his female victims.

The question once again is, if I go even more public with Fitswell while admitting that I’m his creator, will this jeopardize any possible success for “Death on the Wild Side” or “Welcome to the Fun House?” And would I be tainting the name Jack Corbett by publicizing a book whose content is so pornographic? But the word pornographic doesn’t really fit here, however. I never intended my Fitswell stories to arouse the erotic instincts of my future readers. Instead my whole intent was to poke fun at the kind of men who behave like wanna bee Fitswells as well as those women who stupidly fall for such cretins. It was only when I got nearly halfway through writing the Fitswell series that organized religion became the subject of several of the stories.

If there has ever been any question of holding back on the Fitswell book, the Republican Party’s turning to the Far Right as we approach the coming election has convinced me to go full steam ahead. I find its policies, and its lying along with its chief propaganda tool, “Fox News” to be a hundred times more appallingly grotesque than anything Dick Fitswell does in my stories even if there wasn’t any humor in them or even a glimmer of hope for good satire. Fitswell is in the face, crude writing that is impossible to ignore, and I’m not sure how he’s going to be taken. It’s time for a few good laughs, however, and I think Fitswell’s time has come.

So I’m doing it. Expect the Fitswell paperback within two weeks.

When Westerners cannot manage their Thailand condos the U.S. must stop nation building.

Our first Thai manager was a complete idiot who wouldn’t have made it as a janitor in the United States, but I didn’t realize just how empty headed he was until I came down to his office and asked him to pull up the Quickbooks accounting system which I had loaded onto his computer two months earlier. After seeing he didn’t have one iota of condo business on it, I absolutely could not believe the man had been so derelict of his duties. I had been training our condo secretary how to run the accounting system I had been setting up, and I had told both her and our manager that it was critical for them both to back up their computers daily. I had even driven my motorbike six miles one way to purchase two USB devices–one for each of them. And I had shown both of them how to both back up and restore the Quickbooks file. What he had was no more than a bare bones prototype of what the secretary and I had wound up with to handle all our condo’s business. But I suppose it was too much for him to ask the secretary for the accounting file so he could recreate it on his computer. He didn’t have the password the secretary and I had decided on, and he must have felt he would have lost too much face by even asking. Well, he lost his face all right, all of what little he had left in my eyes. But by then he probably didn’t even care, not after that little face losing episode I put him through after the infamous condo garden incident.

I’m going to refer to the little man as Peanut which is what General Stilwell called Chiang Kai Shek while commanding the American presence in Burma during World War II. Peanut had the skinny little face of a ferret without the lithe animal’s strength so I’d have to describe our Thai manager’s face as a chipmunk’s but skinnier. Stilwell’s Peanut was ineffectual beyond description, having allowed the Japanese to occupy much of China during the war while hardly putting up a fight. He preferred saving his troops to fight the Communists after allowing the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and India to fight all the battles. Ole Peanut head never even minded that millions of Chinese civilians had been murdered in countless ways from burial alive to being used for bayonet practice. The man even had the audacity to threaten a separate peace with Japan so that he could bilk even more money from the United States to add to his private war chest. The man had no pride and no love for his people whatsoever. Our Thai manager was just as avaricious as Stilwell’s Peanut and every bit as corrupt. He just didn’t have the gold plated opportunity Chiang had.

On the bottom floor of our condo facing the street there are five shops. Between the street and the shops there is a strip of landscaping that is roughly seven by thirty meters. The builder had five or six small trees planted in this area, most of them palm trees, with a few shrubs thrown in and a ground cover of various short plants that had grown thickly together enough to drown out any emerging weeds. As I remember it the landscaping had only been there a few months when Peanut called to ask me if I could meet with him the following Monday to discuss a few plants with him and someone who I understood to be the owner or manager of a landscaping company. Peanut’s English was not so hot, but it was clear to me that he would be there. I confirmed that I’d be at the condo all day and would discuss with him the progress we had been making on our Quickbooks accounting system. What was not so clear was why should we be replacing any plants in the first place. From what I could tell the landscaping was doing just fine and most of the plants had seemed quite healthy.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a landscaping expert. That being said, I spent 23 years farming, had been successful at raising corn and soybeans, and I had not only planted over 200 trees in my yard, I had also planted by hand over an acre of over fifty vanities of old Illinois Prairie plant seeds and this project had also been a complete success. I had been the kind of guy who would walk around my yard every day to observe the progress of my cherished trees and other plants. And I had not changed since moving to Thailand. I concluded that peanut felt we had a few shrubs or other small plants that had not done well and therefore needed to be replaced.

By 1 p.m. I had not received one call from Peanut. Then I noticed from my balcony several Thai workmen digging up our garden area with shovels and other small tools. I immediately went down stairs and walked outside to see what was going on. Our condo maintenance man was there talking with the work crew but our manager was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t take long to find out that Peanut had taken the day off to drive to Bangkok which is over two hours away. I had been stood up, and I was furious.

Back then I was one of a three person committee the condo owners had elected to supervise our little peanut. But our committee chairman had made it clear to everyone that committee members were not supposed to be giving orders to our condo staff or to directly manage condo affairs in any way. The chairman of the committee, who also happened to be the German builder we had bought our condos from had warned that too many misunderstanding would arise and that it was best to let Thais deal with the Thais. So all I did was to watch the workers start to destroy the entire landscaping in front of our building. By the time they’d get done only the trees would remain. I tried to get our committee chairman on the phone but he didn’t answer. Then I got on my motorbike and drove to the law office down in Central Pattaya where our third member of the committee worked for a Thai law firm. I found the woman sitting at her desk and immediately got down to showing her pictures I still had in my digital camera of our condo garden being raped and pillaged.

Chollada didn’t know anything about it. And since I certainly didn’t, this left at least two out of three committee members who Peanut decided to simply run roughshod over. By the time I finally caught up with the ferret faced Thai manager with a chipmunk’s smile, what had been a carpet of weed smothering plants had been reduced to bare earth. It would be at least another month before Peanut’s improved plant varieties made their appearance. Most of the replacement plants were to be nothing more than a weak looking variety of grass that would die out in the first six months.

The next time I saw Peanut, which was about two days later, I asked him, “How much are you spending on your little project? He gave me a figure which started at roughly $400.00, but when I asked him what the number was a few days later it had already escalated. The final number was 25,000 baht which was approximately $800. Now that might not seem like much but by Thai standards it is because I doubt if anyone who had been working on digging out our plants was making more than $200 a month.

By this time I had a page of our condo bylaws with me which I angrily shoved in front of Peanut’s nose. Then I pointed out to the man, “Do you see here where it says you, the condo manager, are not authorized to spend more than 5000 baht ($125.00) while acting alone. For you to be able to spend 25000 baht you have to have permission from at least one member of our committee.”

It was all there in black and white and I remembered how we had discussed all of this in a committee meeting so our manager could have no excuse that he didn’t know better. And do you know what his reply was? It was—–“I can do it because I am authorized to do whatever I feel is necessary.”

Now just imagine the audacity of the man. What he was saying to me was, “I can overrule any time I like what you and your committee decide because I am Thai and you are (with the exception of Chollada) falang (Westerner). I replied: “No. You are wrong and out of line. You must obey your committee and you have taken money from our owners without permission. The result of my outburst was the little weasel stalked back to his office and every time I would go back in to discuss how he and the secretary were doing with the accounting system, he’d simply stonewall me. The matter was not resolved until we had our next committee meeting. Our chairman pointed out that we were both wrong. The manager had been wrong to have exceeded his authority whereas I was wrong because I had lost my temper with the man and that there are better ways of handling such disagreements. Our chairman then announced that he would pay the 25,000 baht over expenditure out of his own pocket to spare our condo owners from having to pay for such an unjustified expense.

There is no question in my mind that Peanut had made a nice commission off his little garden project. I suspected it then and later on when I had another debacle with him over which insurance company was going to handle our building insurance for the next year, I was certain that he, and most managers like him expect a cut simply because they are managers. He would not win this time but had he gotten his way he would have gotten a 15,000 baht cut out of a total insurance premium of 80,000. Through all of this I learned a lot about the Thai concept of face. Because I had told Peanut exactly what I thought of him he would have nothing to do with the new accounting system and because of that our secretary failed to get started on it until well into February instead of January 1 of the new year. Meanwhile I had been assuming that the secretary and the manager had been following my instructions and had started to log all new business into Quickbooks. Whenever I’d ask the manager how he was getting along with implementing the new system he’d lie to me and tell me everything was going just fine. I was getting “the treatment Thai style which is to ignore all instructions from Westerners, and then to later on pretend not to have understood the necessity for action.

I really think what I learned while on our condo committee and afterwards, even now, has impacted even the way I view U.S. foreign policy. In the case of condo management in Thailand it is against the law for Westerners to be condo managers. By law one has to have a Thai. That is a mistake because for the most part Thai managers are incompetent and dishonest. Certainly this is the case with condo managers in our neck of the woods. The chairman of our committee made a huge mistake by not backing me on the garden incident. He should have done exactly what I had done which was to let Peanut have it. We should have fired him on the spot. And then, I don’t care if we’d have to interview thirty people to hopefully get the right one. I would have advised our telling each candidate: “We fired the last one and this is why. Around here it’s not up to you. It’s our way or the highway.” And the more I read about how the United States has handled so many countries I feel we have been making the same mistake over and over. The mistake is for us to assume that we can get a group of individuals representing a country whose values are almost totally different from ours to work with us effectively while respecting the fact that it’s we who are footing the bill as well as much of the bloodshed being spilled on their behalf. We then assume that they are like Americans and that they will do their utmost to help us get the job done to make their country a better place for most of the people who have to live there. Most of these people in these power elites are a bunch of self serving canine who have no interest in serving their fellow countrymen whatsoever.

The South Vietnamese generals and politicians didn’t help us try to win their war for them when Vietnamese youths were out driving their motorbikes to sell drugs to American soldiers who were doing the lions share of all the fighting that had to be done. And as far as Chiang Kai Shek was concerned the only thing he accomplished against the Japanese and later the Communists who kicked him and his corrupt legions out of China was to steal enough money from his country and the U.S. government that was bank rolling his hopeless cause was to salt enough money away to be able to start all over again on the Island of Taiwan. And as far as the Koreans for whom over 40,000 American servicemen gave their lives for in the Korean War, all I’ve gotta say is this…”There’s Korean only nightclubs here in Pattaya that I cannot gain admittance to because I am of the wrong race.” And how about all those policemen and servicemen on the side of our allies in Afghanistan who are off murdering American soldiers? A lot of good all that nation building in Afghanistan has done. Now I’ll admit that burning all those Korans didn’t help but I really think the Koran was simply a symbol and not the real reason. For one thing our allies were murdering our soldiers before the Koran was ever burned. The bottom line is I’m sure most of our so called allies were thinking, “Who are these square heads anyway to think they can teach us anything or that we want to live our lives the way they live theirs. We will just take their money and when we feel like it we will run away with it.” It’s Chiang Kai Shek all over again, but then again, very few Americans ever read their History.

I say, all this nation building we supposedly have been trying to do is absolutely the wrong way of doing things. It’s expensive, it detracts from the real mission which is to destroy the enemy, and in the long run it does not win us friends. We dropped three times as many bombs on Vietnam as we did during WWII in all theaters and we did a lot of nation building in Thailand while using it for the bulk of our airbases back then. Today, Thailand is going through a Russian invasion where even my own street is starting to look like Little Russia. But isn’t that why we got into Vietnam in the first place…to keep the Russians out?” The restaurant next door to my condo does not even offer a menu in English. I cannot even drink Budweiser beer here even though Anheuser Busch is the largest beer company in the world. I suppose after the Thais shafted the Carlsberg brewery company so badly that it picked up and left Thailand that the chief decision makers at Anheuser Busch decided: “We sure aren’t going to make the same mistake Carlsberg did by setting up a brewery in Thailand.” In Vietnam strangely enough, today, long after the Communists won I haven’t seen any signs in Russian. At all the museums I”ve been to the languages used at the exhibits are Vietnamese, French and English. And I can drink Budweiser there. As far as nation building goes, It no doubt worked well in such countries as Germany after World War II. But there is a huge difference between Germans and say Thais or Chinese or Afghanistani’s. Germans have the same values as Americans. With the other nations I’ve mentioned which I feel are only a small portion of the countries I might include on my list, the cultural differences are so vast that neither side is going to respect the other. So if and when it comes to winning a war, I certainly wouldn’t be expecting any help from those who appear to be my allies. What might have seemed to be the oddball in this entire mix is Japan. Certainly in so many ways its culture might have seemed to be vastly different from the U.S. But when you really think about it ever since Admiral Perry sent his gunboats into a Japanese harbor the Japanese suddenly woke up and wanted to learn everything they could from the West. Even after World War II, the Japanese were willing to learn from the West at a furious pace so among their achievements they allowed General MacArthur to show them the way to Democracy during the U.S. occupation. I absolutely cannot see the same thing happening in a country such as Afghanistan, or Iraq, and in so many other places in the world, and I certainly cannot see it happening in Thailand where the concept of face is so strong and nationalism so deeply entrenched that foreign leadership is despised far too often while anything that is Thai is revered.

We need to learn out lessons well from the Peanuts, both of them.

Outsourcing, Thai Style

Yesterday I went to a new construction site in Pattaya. A new condo building is being built here, and it’s due for completion six months from now. Except for the construction foreman the laborers are from Cambodia and Burma. The owner of the company is Thai. I’ve been told he owns a Ferrari and a Mercedes. I asked someone in the know, “Are all these workers illegals? remembering an American bar owner friend of mine who was once arrested by the police for talking to a customer in the bar he owned. “No,” my contact replied, “They are all legal. The company hiring them is too large and well established to be hiring Cambodian and Burmese illegals.” Which I interpreted to mean that the owner had probably been buying work permits at hugely discounted prices from a government employee whose palms he had been greasing.

From my observations of construction work going on in my neighborhood, I have noticed that most of the workers do not look or carry themselves as Thai. As for my own condo building, I used to visit the construction site at least twice a week when I’d wander from floor to floor to compare the different types of units while observing the progress that had been made. On reflection, knowing what I know now, the workers on the general construction crew did not appear to be Thai.

I’ve been told that Thais do not like working construction jobs because the work is too hard. I never believed that. There’s just too many Thais going from bar to bar at night trying to sell DVD movies to the customers, flowers, Polaroid pictures and what have you. The real answer is, the men who make the wheels turn in this country love their Ferraris and Mercedes too much. So I asked my girlfriend about it, and she told me the Burmese and Cambodian construction workers were getting around 4500 baht a month. This is in a country where our own cleaning women in my condo building are getting between 6000 and 7000 baht so with the baht presently at a rate of exchange of 1 American dollar to thirty baht this means that cleaning women are getting $200 a month while Cambodians and Burmese doing construction work are getting just $150 a month.

Well, I’ve been back to the villages upcountry to see how the people live in Issan, and I’ve met a lot of Thai men who are unemployed or who are just barely eking out an existence doing a little of this or that. I’ve also met a lot of bar girls who will stay with a man they really don’t like for as little as $250 a month. They do it because their brothers and sisters don’t have jobs and because they only have sixth grade educations and can’t find anything for themselves. So do I believe that Thai people are too lazy to want to work construction jobs? No I do not. I think the sentence is incomplete when it reads, “Thai people do not want to work in the dirty, sweaty and dangerous conditions construction work entails,” to “Thai people do not want to risk their lives working for just 4500 baht in such conditions.”