Wondered if guy working for my wine shop/bar in Thailand has personal appeal

ImageI was born without the gene that allows a person to tell a nice-looking *man* from not lice-looking (whereas women I, of course, have no trouble).

Looking at a guy I really can’t tell if he is an 8 out of 10 or a 2.

I wondered about one of my salespeople (kind of an odd duck) — he has worked for me for more than a year and I wondered about the connection he is making with people.  Do women see him as handsome?  How do men who notice such things regard him the same, or as manly?

This was terribly crass, but I am the owner, so I asked two of our cute bartenders for a woman’s take.

“Just circle the number.”  So, was he,











They seemed to be answering that they liked the guy personally, but that wasn’t my question, and we tried to clarify with one another in broken English.  Did I want these ladies to rate the quality of his work?


No.  As a man, where did he rate?, I specified.  Their answer caught me by surprise:

“He — not man,” they calmly assured me.

Ah, eureka!  But of course, it’s hermaphroditicThailand! Some kind of transgender deal!  No wonder I couldn’t quite get a bead on my employee! 

— O.T.

Attacking a Convoy with a Bomb of Molten Copper.

What better vantagepoint to tell you of this, than from right here in my walled compound in Baghdad!  Well!  So, a concave cone made of copper is used to seal an explosive charge in an improvised explosive device:

An example of a Shaped charge IED

Thia creates a hollow space in front of and along the axis of the charge.

Shaped charge penetrates a steel plate (from left to right) showing spall and jet plasma on both sides of the armor plate.When the explosive is detonated by a mobile-phone trigger, somehow “the copper transforms into a forceful jetstream of molten metal known as “plasma,” as the internet explains.  “This plasma jet easily perforates ordinary steel armor, hitting the surface at a speed of 8,000 meters per second and extremely high pressure.” Some say that there is no armor in the world that can stop this plasma, though I have no idea.  “If the plasma is not obstructed by a target within few meters, it solidifies into a kinetic slug which is less effective against heavy armor,” but short-range attacks, say, from a roadside trashcan to a passing vehile can inflict ghastly damage.

One of my colleagues here was killed yesterday by one of these while riding in armored civilian convoy.  His guard team was all banged up, too, but they have already been released from hospital after removing shrapnel.  Some spotter was waiting for the opportunity presumably, and dialed the bomb phone at just right moment.  There were brief references on major U.S. news outlets yesterday.

The deceased was said to be pushing 70.  He was an American who came to this small compound reluctantly for just a 5 day financial consultancy, and he was scheduled to fly out the next morning.  It could have been any of us, on any day.


— Overreach THIS!

Another fun way to get fired! Getting into a snit with the boss’s wife!

I consider this a life lesson, and I picked it up from the sad case of Donald Regan as recounted in Bob Woodward’s oddball-but-often-fascinating book Shadow.

I have long since learned, just as introduction to my little topic here, never to do this:

Never tell a spouse not to tell something to their other half.  Cause they’re going to to tell one another, and you’ll look sneaky to both of them.

And now I’ve learned for certain, “Never get into arguments or bad relations with the boss’s wife.”  I hadn’t realized this meant so much.

Nancy Reagan is arguably a person of some integrity, but a real odd duck for sure.  In the White House, she consulted with an astrologer on good days and bad days for her husband to have meetings, sign documents.

At first people did not believe this, but it is fully documented and it drove Don Regan (the President’s chief of staff) — bananas.

Look at it from his perspective:  he had coordinated with the State Department, Reagan himself, the national security team, the diplomatic community, relevant Cabinet officials, and countless others, for Reagan to (say) sign a treaty on a certain day.

But he hasn’t cleared it with Nancy and the astrologer and it was a bad joo-joo day that day, so the deal’s off!

Regan found this maddening.  He later said he began to color-code his calendar divided into good days, bad days, and iffy days.

But is getting fired any better?

Nancy figured out sooner or later that Don Regan couldn’t abide her, of course.  What do you think she said to Ronnie about her antagonist when she and the President were snuggling between the sheets together?

“I know that Don Regan hates me, but if he’s your guy, I want you to stick by him?!” Here’s what she’d have said — she has come to realize that Don is disserving the President, bringing him down.  It’s not about her, she’ll insist, perish the thought!

I always wondered what Don Regan had done wrong, how he got canned, and here it is, on February 23, 1987:

The President had been pushed by Nancy and ex-staffer Michael Deaver to fire somebody else over Iran-Contra.  Who do you figure Nancy had in mind, gentle reader?   President Reagan sat down with Don Regan and lamented the “paralyzing disagreements” that Regan had had with Nancy.

Regan had grudgingly accepted the astrology, and had just been trying to protect the President from what he thought were stupid and crazy ideas.  But the lesson here is that life does not work that day.  Regan explained that he did not consider it his job to work for Nancy.  The President reminded him of his pledge to leave the Administration if he ever became a burden.

Regan must have thought he was just getting a talking-to, and he said he’d stick to that pledge — he’d go any time the President asked. Regan probably didn’t imagine it would be any time soon, but Reagan said it would be best if Regan left immediately, before the latest Iran-Contra report came out.

Regan was horrified.  If he left before the report came out, that was like throwing him to the wolves!   Donald Regan *was* the problem, is what that meant!  The President spun some meaningless fluff about how it would be a good send-off, and Regan was mortified (and fired).

So why was he really canned?  Well, because in their minds, they needed to symbolically fire someone.  And by having bad relations with the guy’s wife, Donald Regan got himself nominated.  And loyalty didn’t matter, nor hard work, nor results, nor the fact that he had little to do with Iran-Contra.  It was those “paralyzing disagreements”, i.e., pissing off the guy’s wife.  And that’s right out of the boss’s mouth!

To me, a lesson.  I have internalized, and I intend to carry this with me from now on, friends.  When Donald Regan figured that an employee does not answer to the boss’s wife, he was fucking dreaming!   –O.T.

Among the exotic names of the world!

So I have to work with people with odd names (to us!) in my job.  Goodness knows how our names sound to them!   I am forever in different countries and the names are often specialized.

Oddest to date appeared just a few days ago in an Arabic-speaking country where I am now becalmed.  Two different chaps I have met in my work who both have the same Arabic name, pronounced as:


Not kidding. Arabic letters don’t line up one-to-one with ours, so you could write it different ways (as with the Libyan leader’s name, right?).   I’m trying to write the above as Mawfaq or something, to try to disguise it (partially!) in print.

But the pronunciation is the foregoing.   So each morning for me it’s now a cheery, “Good morning, Mo’fuck!” — O.T.

P.S., there is also, of course, this raunchy 1943 relic  from Moscow you may have heard about — http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/we-all-feel-like-that-now-and-then.html

You’re next, Rachel Maddow!

Rachel Maddow

It’s clear enough that COMCAST pulled the trigger on Keith.

If you want to believe otherwise, Start with the fact that MSNBC is on record saying they informed Comcast that Keith would be leaving.

So Comcast gets this message and says,
“Gee, Olberrmann’s your top earner!  Whaddya know!  And we’re buying your company in a few days!  But anyway, we have this high principle that we don’t weigh in on these things. It’s not in our contract with you that we can’t weigh in, so we’re not barred or anything.  And if we stand idly buy while you do this, we are going to lose a lot of money, with the top earner gone.  And this termination is why? A fit of pique, did you say?  How much money do we make off of the touchy guy who can’t manage Olbermann’s ego?

No matter.  We just feel very strongly that you need independence during the last days before we take over.  Independence  to make personality-based decisions that will hurt us for many years.  So we’ll stand mute, while we just take that big, big hit.  Thanks!”

Seem believable?  That’s what you’d need to swallow.
TMZ had the story within hours — COMCAST did it.  No surprise.  And now we’ve got an actual  confession, thanks to Politico’s good memory:
“When Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts was asked last May what he would do if Olbermann began attacking any Republican member of Congress after the takeover, he replied, according to the New York Post, ‘Let’s have that conversation in 12 months, when we’re playing with live ammo.’”

It sounds more like a Charles Bronson revenge massacre movie than the L’il Bo Beep double-talk they were selling on Friday.  Except this is real.  They’re all Republicans over at Comcast, as you can tell from the breathtaking quote.
Rachael, they made their move on Keith just 3 days after they bullied their merger past the feckless regulators.  As Roberts made clear above, it’s about politics, and “live ammo” awaits you if you “attack” a Republican.
You are a marked woman.    The others as well.  So sorry to say it.  Thank you so much for everything!!! — O.T.

Heartless Dick Cheney expecting a birthday soon!

Naw, don’t feel bad for the old misanthrope, that pic marked a low point, and now he’s looking meaner and crueler with each passing day.  Still, he has “end-stage” heart disease and no longer uses a human heart.  What he’s got does not beat, it just flows. No, I’m not jiving you!  Just woooosh!  It’s a temporary pump, only intended to buy time awaiting transplant surgery.

Former vice president to George W Bush, Dick Cheney is interviewed on the Today show where he airs his current views on current policies

But!  But, he becomes ineligible for a heart transplant on 30 January, when he reaches 70 years.


Still, come on, do you really think that’s going to slow him down?  Lord Vader, stymied by some stupid rule? Puh-lease!! (You and I would *totally* be screwed in his situation, of course.) Remember, this Dick is a five-time draft dodger!  He’s inventive!  Let’s watch and see what he comes up with!  Birthday Dick!

Are you against pics of scantily clad women?

The Huffington Post sure ain’t.  Today their Entertainment section has got eleven headlines about women in various states of undress.  News we can use!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entertainment/

Christina Hendricks Weight Kardashian Nearly Nude

They may change this heaving assortment by the time you read, but Huff Post is a perennial source for this material, so don’t despair, gentle reader!  Or gentle, uh…

$$$ Winning *DIRTY* on ebay!! $$$

I have been an ebay-er for about 10 days, I have never bid at auction before anywhere, and I have the following observations:

1. The first rule is to note the closing date/time when your auction will be over.

2. If you see an item you might be interested in, whatever you do, don’t bid on it!  And *don’t* authorize ebay to make bids on your behalf – their only interest is to jack up the price by getting into bid wars! Anyhow, bidding?? That is so Old Millenium anyway! Let some other jerks do the bidding while you skulk in the reeds unnoticed!

It’s nobody’s business whether you like an item or not – keep it that way.

cartoon of an auction guy

Like Vito said to his strapping lad Sonny Corleone, “Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking!”

Continue reading “$$$ Winning *DIRTY* on ebay!! $$$”

Tell us your favorite short musical lyric!

I’m a bit twisted as we well  know, so there’s nothing surprising about my choice, below.  (Starts out idyllic before complications ensue.) What about yours?  Please keep it short and punchy, if you can!

And include a YouTube or some link to a recording, too, please!

Mine is from the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwyssoOsDQ4

I was dreaming of a steel guitar engagement

When you drank my health in scented jasmine tea

Then you knifed me in that dirty, filthy basement

With that jaded, faded, junky nurse, what pleasant company!

Jagger/Richards. Decca Records, recorded March 9, 1969 and finished June 10.  The way Wiki heard it, “The song opens with a slide piece and quickly moves into a solo acoutic guitar strumming C, F, and G chords before bass, drums, and piano join in respectively.” 🙂

Only Ones Of Their Kind, On New Year’s.

Yes, I work in international development, in a bad war zone out here.

Lots of international consultants like me are here, supposedly helping the local people get on their feet.  We are guarded by paramilitaries from many countries.

Frank and Harry are the only two African American consultants and they don’t work directly with one another.  Both are smart, capable, proud, likeable, and easy-going. All day they are in meetings, presentations, conference calls where there are no other African American souls anywhere.  Year after year.  Hard to imagine how they feel exactly.  They sure stood out at parties last night – when do they not?!

There are about 150 or 170 men here right now, and maybe 10-12 women, about 4 of whom are really cute.  Imagine the attention they get!  The cutest of them all is a very nice girl, not stuck up, gets hit on all the time, every day.  And when alcohol is involved, obviously it’s worse and more complicated.  Nothing like a skirt to spice up the conflict.

She has taken an unexpected shine to your humble narrator (Oh, brother!!), although fortunately I don’t have to deal with that very much, for as soon as she gets sentimental, there always appears some lovestruck romeo moving in on the “action.”  But she cornered me at one of our New Year’s Eve parties and she wanted to unload.  She looked terrible and I thought someone had hit her – no, she had been crying cuz yet another loverboy had professed his true feelings, she tried to be gentle in getting rid of him, and it got ugly.  I just started to comfort her a bit, saying “Look, you’re the hottest girl here and you’re nice – not a jerk.”  She rejoined, falsely, that she was the *only* female here.  Not true at all, but one can certainly imagine why she feels this way – panicky even.  And just as she began to pour her heart out, a bunch more of dreamy guys moved in on us.  And I was off the hook again and slipped away!  Bwah-hah-hah!!

A little group of South African paramilitaries were raising a glass with me – I know a lot of these guys for many years.  Things change, though, and this time something was new, one of them was black.  (And practically jet black at that – an important detail in their still-very-troubled society.)   He was a fascinating fellow and he knew a lot about numerous European languages – no wonder he was successfully pioneering in a white man’s mini-world!  An ugly moment developed, probably nothing in the slightest bit new to any of them, when another South African joined us.  The new arrival shook everyone’s hand and the black guy, being farthest away, was last to be greeted.  He made what he thought would be a merry joke out of that, saying “See, the blacks are always the last ones!” and we all laughed.  The newcomer let his true feelings out slightly, though, “joking” back that “You’re lucky to have me shaking your hand!”  Barf!  That’s what passes for party banter in their changing mileu, and we can see the awfulness right beneath the surface still.  Barf!

Well, God bless them all – I lift my champagne flute (or wartime facsimile!) to the brave outsiders – everywhere!  Happy 2011 to them especially, and to all of you!  Be safe and be happy, everybody! — O.T.