Middle East
September 23
"Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey."


Benjamin_the_donkey's Links
JULY 5, 2011 5:48AM

Equality at Last!

This July 4th, despite the discoraging news at home and from abroad, despite a failing economy and the  triumph of shameless, naked greed, despite three wars and and more on the way, despite our land's seeming irreversible slide into oligarchic oppression, we have one bit of good news worthy of… Read full post »

MARCH 29, 2011 12:07AM

Alas, Oman

Even the normally placid Sultanate of Oman has been caught up in the Arab world's recent wave of protest and rebellion. Though the protests have been largely peaceful and the police have generally taken a hands-off approach, there was some violence in the industrial city of Sohar, with at least one… Read full post »

I've been away for many months now, mainly for personal reasons. I'm back.

In response to the regime-toppling protests in Egypt, China's government recently banned internet seaches of the county's name. No more reseach on the pharaohs or the pyramids, kids! Presumably Bahrain, where protesters have s… Read full post »

My sons sitting in a sunlit window, a few days before I write these words, the first really cool day of the year. A half-eaten banana in the older boy's hand, the little one looking up at his brother with--what? A new expression, maybe a new feeling?  One not quite like… Read full post »

A couple of weeks ago, while walking with my 6-month-old son, my peanut-sized bladder made its needs known. Fortunately, I was passing a local park, and Taipei provides excellent toilet facilities in such places.

It was the usual setup--a few toilet stalls, a bank of uninals.  I parked Julian's… Read full post »

To my 5 or 6 readers: This series is moving beyond New York, so I've changed the title. Same thrilling story.

In Tokyo, I sometimes drank at a nameless wokingman's pub in Ikejiri-Ohashi, not far from my apartment. The barmainds were friendly and spoke some English, and they'd send out for… Read full post »

Working at Yale University in the '60s and '70s, neuropsycholgist Jose Delgado did pioneering work in mapping brain function. In his best-known experiments, he instilled aggressive behavior in cats by using electrodes to stimulate the thalamus.  Delgado found that these  animals could be ma… Read full post »

The phone call  from Miko was a surprise. I hadn't heard from her in months, and now she was on her way to New York. "I'll see you at the Washington Square arch on Tuesday at noon," she said. "I've missed you, RG." (I'd almost forgotten about that nickname....)

When I… Read full post »

Ever now an then one a them oldies still go off talkin bout things when theys kids an how good usta be, lotsa food an cars runnin an peoples all safe an nobody scared an shit. Then theys always cryin an boohoohooin an askin why why till sombody kick em in… Read full post »

Flora was tall, with curly red-blonde hair, and deadly smart. She always wore either extremely short skirts or extremely low-cut tops, but never both together. This, she once explained to me, was the rule: show them what you've got, but leave them wanting more. She had marvelously big, springy, pendu… Read full post »

In the context of the furor over U.S. health care and the danger of extending coverage to illegal aliens, I thought I'd share my recent experience with the health care sytem in Taiwan.

I came down with a case of the flu--not awful, but unpleasant: sore throat, sneezing, minor ear infe… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 17, 2009 5:07AM

Right-Wing Radio Host Arrested--What Next?

Internet radio host Hal Turner, variously described as a right-wing shock jock, a white supremacist and a neo-nazi, has been arrested for threats against three federal judges. The judges, Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer, had upheld a handgun ban in Chicago.

In a June 2 blog postin… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 12, 2009 6:24AM

The Masks we Wear on OS

I've been thinking about the way certain writers on OS build and maintain a following, and it seems a bit different friom how it happens in the wider world of writing and publishing. In that world, there are some writers known mainly for one thing-- think of Stephen King or John… Read full post »

A long time ago, I knew a liberal arts college undergraduate, a would-be writer, who often and loudly claimed that he had more talent and knowledge than any of of the faculty members, and didn't have a thing to learn from any of them.  He didn't have any reply when asked,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 25, 2009 3:49AM

Notable Nights in New York

I'd moved uptown, but my favorite places and people were still in the East Village and Lower East side. This was before gentrification, or at least before the mad, unstoppable rush of it. Alphabet city was still dodgy--used syringes on the stoops, used condoms on the basement steps. 1st and 2nd… Read full post »

AUGUST 21, 2009 5:35AM

I am the Scary Sex Wolf

I live in Taiwan. As places go, you can do far worse. That thought keeps returning as I see armed thugs greeting the President of the United States, and overtly racist right-wing hecklers disrupting town hall meetings, I have to be thankful that, as a white man in Asia, I'm not… Read full post »

AUGUST 18, 2009 5:44AM

Fish Cheer in Athens

My family and I were in Athens last December, a short vacation in Greece on my wife and son's way back to Taipei. I had  work to finish, so I'd have to go back to Albania for another two months before I could follow.  Our plan was to be based in… Read full post »

AUGUST 14, 2009 3:06AM

What Makes me a Southerner?

As some of you may have noticed from my previous post, my comments about the South aren't always kind. But the South, for better or worse, was the soil in which I grew into the peculiar, prickly specimen I am today. Transplanted or not, it's what I am and will remain.… Read full post »

AUGUST 11, 2009 11:16PM

The South and its Discontents

There's been an argument raging about the South.  Liberals, we're told,  shouldn't demonize or condescend to Southerners.  The South they imagine, the South of lynchings, Jim Crow, "separate but equal" and the KKK, isn't the South of today. And besides, even the South of yesterday wasn… Read full post »

AUGUST 4, 2009 2:26AM

Into the Big White

My wife has decided that she wants to lose her prefix. The prefix is "house-".

I don't blame her. After two years of struggling with (or against) two babies, she deserves a change. The trouble is, full-time employment would mean  turning over most of her paycheck to whoever is hired… Read full post »

 In Paris, it was the coldest January in decades. The icy streets were deserted; tourists were sparse, even in the Louvre.The exception was the gaggles of Japanese women, taking voracious advantage of the fact that their mid-winter holiday coincided with the French big winter sale week.

My the… Read full post »

I've lived in several countries, and spent time in quite a few more, and nowhere have I seen so much deference--often shading into outright fear-- accorded  the police as in the U.S. Nowhere else have I seen so much arrogance on the part of the police themselves. The recent arrest of… Read full post »

This  article was originally published, in an earlier version, in the June 2, 2008 issue of  the Taipei Times

To say that I worry about the growing ties between Taiwan's new KMT government and China is an understatement. I'm a U.S. citizen, but my home and family are here. I… Read full post »

JULY 16, 2009 11:34PM

A Zombie by any other Name

Though I've lived in Taiwan, off and on, for about five years, I'm ashamed to say that my command of the language is atrocious. This isn't because I'm a dolt; I know I'd be conversing smoothly in French or Italian if fate had placed me in one of those countries.… Read full post »

JULY 13, 2009 9:29PM

Kids Fall Down All the Time

I was shopping  with my son a few days ago. It was a Saturday, and the aisles at Carrefour were full of the full range--the careful elderly, goofball university students, young couples with strollers, the stolidly middle-aged. Nicholas, being the cute and gregarious kid he is, was eliciting smil… Read full post »