Politics, Economics, Culture, and Impressions

Here are links to views on politics, economics, culture, and a bit of advice thrown in for good measure. In some cases we wrote them, and as of yet, agree with them. These are under " Jan's Jottings " and " GerryGrumblings ". We didn't write everything that is here. Under " We Agree " are those that — its obvious — we agree with and  think are important enough to point out. Under "Nonsense" are things that — excuse us — we think are nonsense. There is so much of this that we could fill a web of webs, so we only pick the really egregious or topical. And finally under the "Advice" category is a miscellany of recommendations that we have culled from our experience while travelling. Some of it is truly travel advice but not all.

Jan's Jottings

  • Election Fever (November 2004)
    Follow the 2004 Presidential Election with us as we travel through the US, Central America and Ecuador
  • Party enanigans (August 2002)
    What goes on in England when a couple decides to get married?  Find out here.
  • Why Learn a Language II? (June 2002)
    Another lesson in the unexpected benefits of learning a language.
  • This Year in Jerusalem (March 2002)
    Being a tourist in terrorist targeted Jerusalem in 2002.
  • Ras Mohamed Snorkeling (January 2002)
    Battling the waves to discover the serenity of life over the reef.
  • Why Learn a Language I? (June 2001)
    A language learner's adventure on the Vietnamese Chinese border.
  • A Hair-raising Experience (April 2001)
    Being in China you can be really pampered when you get your hair done. And that includes the pleasures of a massage, all for a small price.
  • Impressions of Vietnam (March 2001)
    Moving forests of deep green kumquat trees and rivers and mountains, range upon range of green-clad mountains, palm-fringed beaches. Does the beauty never end? That's the impression of Vietnam.
  • Impressions of Beijing (December 1999)
    Dusty, dusty, and friendly. That's the first and the lasting impression of Beijing. There are lots of wonderful sites but sometimes their memories pale by comparison to those of the dust and the people.
  • A Staircase to Heaven (November 1999)
    What's it like to climb 6600 steps to the top Taishan, one of the most famous mountains in China accompanied all of the way up by hawkers, tourists who want their picture taken with you, and passing lovely views and temples.
  • Ankling for Attention (July 1999)
    Do you have to get old? Are you human? Well, ankles and hips may wear themselves out, so before that happens, lets travel. Andele! 


  • Leg on the Lam (1993)
    A short story that Gerry wrote in 1993. Care to illustrate it? 
  • China WWII Boasting (January 2001)
    The Chinese communist government boasts that it defeated the invading Japanese. But it ain't so.
  • Vote 2000 Fairness (March 2001?)
    The US Presidential election was determined by court rulings as to what votes should be counted in Florida. Roger Ebert thought a great crime was committed and Gerry thinks he went overboard in his criticisms. See Voter Technology Project for more on the subject.
  • Response to Walden Bello's "You will reap what you sow" (September 2001)
    Bello writes shortly after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In guise of condeming the attacks Bello "explains" why they occurred in such a way as to attack the USA for multiple supposed faults through the last 60 years. These attacks have subsequently appreared in many forums. Here I respond to  each of the charges.
  • Saigon Evacuation (February 2002)
    The famous helicopter departure from the roof of the American embassy was a rescue of anti-communist Vietnamese, not part of the American retreat.
  • Osama Bin Laden (March 2002)
    Bin Laden financed his anti-USSR efforts in Afghanistan; it wasn't the CIA. Those who say so are usually part of the crowd who think every aspect of US foreing policy wrong and immoral. See the Bin Laden Book.
  • Death Penalty (August 2002)
    The arguments against the death penalty are more wishful thinking than logic.

We Agree

  • A Tragedy — Red Cross Double Cross By Lawrence S. Eagleburger 
    The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is a grouping of national organizations usually known as "The Red Cross". The Israeli version is the "Mogen David" (Star of David). The Federation has refused for decades to allow Mogen David to use the star instead of cross or crescent (the Moslem emblem). Now Eagleburger and others advocate that the American Red Cross withhold its membership dues until this policy is changed. Incidentally, the previous head of the American Red Cross was Dole, the wife of Senator Dole.

  • Proof of Loyalty - Food for Thought about Muslims in the West.
    What should American Muslims be doing with regard to the Arab-Muslim attacks on the World Trade Center? Do they have a duty to speak up and show their loyalty? Or, is the special scrutiny that they sometimes receive improper? We've put this "Letter to the Editor" under "We Agree" but actually think the issues are complicated and that the letter is a bit too harsh.


  • China's Water
    Lester R. Brown writes an article called "Falling Water Tables in China may soon Raise Food Prices Everywhere". There are some interesting facts but the conclusions are way off base because they assume a static situation. In a market economy (and even a planned economy, but China is well on its way to being a market economy) people innovate and find solutions to what would otherwise be shortages. The title comes from an assumption of a zero-sum world — what one country has/uses other countries can't have. But because of technology and searching for new resources the world isn't zero-sum. Today Europeans and Americans eat bananas, melons, beef, and many other products that come from half-way around the world. If Chinese start to do the same it probably won't mean that Europeans and Americans will pay more, but that farms in Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, etc will expand.


  • Hotel Picks
    Here are some of the hotels we have particularly enjoyed on our travels.
  • Language Tools
    What does the itinerant linguist consider must have tools for the journey?

Updated May 23, 2006