Category Archives: Bali Skeptic

Nice Guys Finish Last, Again

“Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell …”  “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” 1854, Alfred, Lord Tennyson Sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, a man feels the need to gird his loins as best he can — preferably with Kevlar — and venture into the minefields of the gender wars, unmindful of the Bouncing Betties that might emasculate him. Walk with me. Not long ago I read an article on with the title, “Spiritual Women Have More Sex.” For many men, this succinct headline tells them all they need or want ... [ Read More ]

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Too Much

“Dear Lord, please send us another oil boom, and we promise that this time we won’t piss it away.” – Yet  another Texas and Oklahoma bumper sticker of the   oil bust of the 1980s The music didn’t stop until after 3 a.m. It never does. You’ve heard it, same as me, with that thumping bass that comes across the rice fields at night from some near or distant hamlet. Maybe it’s a youth bazaar, maybe some enterprising young man has set up a café in a nearby village to give poor Javanese girls a place of employment (out of ... [ Read More ]

Taking on the Facebook Follies

“I want to be left alone.” – Greta Garbo, enigmatic screen star of the 1920s and 1930s People are often surprised to find that I am on Facebook. They assume that I am too cranky and crusty to get much joy out of something so social; they put me down as a curmudgeon who trolls the comments sections of online articles looking to pounce on the grammatically and  logically challenged. I will admit to being often tempted – but when out of every 10 comments after an article, only one shows any sign of rational thought, not to mention proper spelling ... [ Read More ]

Crank Up the Obsolescence

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done … Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?” Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 My five-year-old son has taken to telling me I don’t know anything. This is probably something I signed up for when I became a father, but I didn’t think I would have to start dealing with that sort of an attitude from my oldest offspring until his teen years. Maybe it is just another sign of the digital age and the faster ... [ Read More ]

Overpaid, Oversexed, Over Here

 “I against my brother, I and my brother against our cousin, I, my brother and our cousin against the neighbors, all of us against the foreigner.” – Bedouin proverb Some ideas should die at inception – Donald Trump’s comb-over, any Pamela Anderson movie, using large concrete balls to plug up a mud volcano – and it is often difficult to understand why some concepts too cornball to survive serious scrutiny, actually do. Indonesia’s own most recent one – in a long line of grand beauts – is the still-not-dead idea of requiring foreign men wanting to marry Indonesian women to pay ... [ Read More ]

Kids These Days, I Tell You

“Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Woulda’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us!” – Michael Palin of Monty Python in the Four Yorkshiremen sketch Parents in Singapore put children on waiting lists for  playgroups and Montessori schools before they are born and register for primary schools years in advance. A sister-in-law in America has the summer activities for her pre-teen girl and boy planned out until their ... [ Read More ]

We All Get Down and Dirty

“Please don’t tell my folks I work in the oil patch. They still think I’m a piano player in a whorehouse.” –  Texas and Oklahoma bumper sticker The men and companies who help keep this old world   running – which it mostly does on coal, diesel, gasoline and jet fuel – aren’t having such a good few weeks. There is BP’s little problem in the Gulf of Mexico, the collision between two tankers on May 25 in Singapore, and then the series of recent mining accidents that remind us that thousands of miners die each year — because of poor ... [ Read More ]

The Mother of All Pragmatism

“We love the earth and the earth loves us.”      a performer at the Earth Day festival on April 24 to raise funds for the Ubud Community Playground If the earth loves us, then the old gal has got to be one tough mother. I mean, she tries to do us in all the time. At the end of April, a tornado in Mississippi in the southern United States killed 10; earlier last month an earthquake in China killed more than 2,000, with the death toll still rising; and sometime between now and the end of the year, almost surely some ... [ Read More ]

Tiger Doesn’t Owe Us a Thing

      “If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.” Dean Martin I am going to pick on a man I have never met. His name is Tim Dahlberg, a sports columnist for The Associated Press. He has a couple of books out, one about the American swimmer Gertrude Ederle, who in 1926 became the first woman to swim the English Channel, and another about the city where he lives, Las Vegas, which he calls “the Boxing Capital of the World.” He is not, then, a fresh journalism school grad with an inflated sense of the importance of his proclamations to ... [ Read More ]

No City of Angels

“I’m tired of this dirty old city. Entirely too much work and never enough play. And I’m tired of these dirty old sidewalks. Think I’ll walk off my steady job today.” — Merle Haggard Jakarta does no favors for itself. It’s disheveled, mismanaged, clogged with traffic, and full of people so disconnected from any larger community that their own comfort and convenience trump any consideration of the needs of others or the common good. It is a brutal and fetid place. But like it or not – and some do like it – it is one of the    great cities ... [ Read More ]