Here Thar Be Monsters!

From the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet, read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. We bring you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send thoughts and comments to luap.jkt at gmail, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all.

27.12.17

Zen And The Art Of Roasting Coffee


Living, as I do, in Java (itself a slang name for coffee) and just a short jump from Sumatera, home of one of the legendary coffees of the world, I decided it was high time to roast my own. I was also motivated by my deep and abiding hatred for Starbucks and those California cutsie chains that are not only taking over the world, but sell more political agendas than coffee.

My wife and I have decided to get into the business of selling raw, green coffee as part of our online empire. We have a plan to retire to our mountain retreat and spend our feeble years running a business on the internet while living well outside the madding crowd of over-dense cities.

We found several very good sources of raw coffee from Bali, Java and Sumatera, and we received enormous bags full of samples, ranging from mountain Robusta and Arabica beans, to the precious Kopi Luwak that sells for up to a few thousands dollars per kilo.

Having never done it before, I was a bit intimidated at the prospect of learning to roast coffee. What with all the mystique and legend built up around the little greenish-white beans, I figured this must be some occult ritual that required years of training and perfect alignment of the Heavens.

I was wrong.

If you've ever popped corn before, you can roast coffee. Yes, there are some timing issues and you have to pay close attention to the process, but you certainly don't have to be a magi to do it. There is a learning curve, but it is blissfully short and with a little practice, you can have the precise coffee you want every morning, fresher than anything you will EVER get from a store front, and the flavor of self-satisfaction is unmistakable and oh-so-sweet.

To roast coffee beans, I use a very high-tech and mystical device called a pan. It is vital to have a heat source, so I use an incredibly up-to-date propane stove. Turn the stove on to medium, throw a couple of handfuls of beans into the pan, shake it around for about 5 minutes, and POOF!

OK, it's a little more delicate than that, but not much.

First, DO NOT use oil or water, just beans. Second, anything that can make popcorn can roast coffee. If you use one of those hot-air poppers, though, remember that the fan noise can mask the "crack" sound, the importance of which will become apparent in a moment.

There are two important events during the roasting process that are vital to the outcome:

First Crack: at around the 3-5 minute mark, you will hear the distinct sound of the beans popping, just like popcorn. Again like popcorn, it will start with one or two pops, and then pick up speed. This is a critical moment. For lighter roasts, you will stop when the cracking stops. If you want darker roasts, you will go a few SECONDS to 1 MINUTE longer, until...

Second Crack: this time, it's not so much of a "pop" noise as as "sizzle" noise. If you go this far, stop immediately or you will be drinking charcoal water for breakfast.

Anything past the light roast phase is somewhat of an art form. Knowing precisely when to stop to get the exact level of roast you want is a trial-and-error process. Because each reader will use different equipment, live at different altitudes, et cetera, you will want to get a "feel" for how much longer past First Crack you want to go.

Lighter roasts give you a "smoother" flavor because the beans retain more of their natural sugars and starches, making the result a bit more naturally sweeter. This is the point of peak caffeine, as well, which for some of us is a major concern.

Darker roasts take on a more "full bodied" flavor, but also get increasingly bitter. They also get oilier, which some folks don't like.

Back to the process.

Once you decide to stop the roast, you will need to get the beans out of the heat and onto a cooling surface. This can be a cookie sheet, spread-out newspaper, or a wok like the one I use. The point is to cool the beans quickly by maximizing the airflow around them.

I suggest doing this outside, as the roasting process causes an ash-like chaff to burn off the beans. Coffee beans, like peanuts, have a skin on them that turns to burn-paper like ash when cooked. Rolling them around on the cooling surface and lightly blowing will remove the chaff and aid in cooling.

You're not quite ready to grind, though. The roasted beans will out-gas CO2 for up to 24 hours after roasting, and it's important to get rid of the gas for the best result. After cooling, I usually put the beans in a Tupperware container with an air-tight seal, but don't snap it all the way shut overnight. That will allow the gas to escape while retaining as much of the essential oils as possible, giving you the best results.

When I'm ready to use the roasted beans, I take only as much as I need, leaving the rest whole. You may not care, but I figure this preserves the essential oils and flavor better over time.

One note here: if you are roasting coffee because you think it will fill your house with the mouth-watering smell of fresh coffee, forget it. The smell is more like burnt sugar or chocolate, and it can be rather smoky and unpleasant in unventilated spaces. I like the smell, but it is entirely an individual thing. About an hour after you cool the beans, the familiar coffee aroma will start wafting through your humble abode.

That's it! You are now an amateur coffee roaster. With experience, you could rise to the level of Master and speak in mystical tones about the occult aspects and techniques that you have acquired. You could even get into the art of blending beans and roasts to get that Ultimate Cuppa Java. Until you get the hang of it, though, I wouldn't jump right into the Kopi Luwak that you just paid US$300/pound for.

In the past few years, there's been a green coffee fad with all sorts of magical health claims made about it. Personally, I think if it were that healthy, it wouldn't have taken several thousand years to figure it out, but that's up to you. Additionally, I don't particularly like the flavor, but again, that's entirely up to you.

My wife prepares it by taking the whole green beans, putting them in a glass container, and adding warm - but not hot or boiling - water. You must then let it set as least 24 hours and strain the liquid into a glass. She tries to get me to drink a glass of it every day for the anti-oxidants and other health y stuff, but I am hard-pressed to do so when I have piles of glorious hand-roasted beans just waiting for my loving attention.

Depending on your needs or tastes, having a supply of green coffee beans on hand can provide hours of palette-stirring excitement, both for the rich flavors and from the satisfaction of knowing you are far more talented than any Starbucks barista, and don't need fanciful foreign titles to make the job appear to justify the bloated prices.

If you want this glorious feeling of achievement every morning to start your day, then contact us at Radio Far Side (luap.jkt@gmail.com use Subject "Coffee") to get prices and shipping times for some of the most sought-after beans in the world, delivered directly to your door from Indonesia.

Soon, you will be serving premium, hand-roasted coffee to your guests at Maxwell House prices, and blowing them away with flavor, aroma and delicacy. Imagine the story you can tell them when they invariably ask, "Where did you get this coffee?"

Keep an eye on our D-Tube channel for a coming real-time (yes, it's that fast) how-to video for roasting your own coffee.

25.12.17

The Vertical Hold

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?"
- Adam to God in Milton's Paradise Lost

"There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery."
- The Creature in Shelley's Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?"
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science 

Throughout history, Mankind has struggled with both his own creation, and the wisdom of his creations.  Literature is replete with the lamentations of humans cursing the Creator for forcing us into a miserable reality, while at the same time cursing what we create in the rush to improve our lot.

It seems that our anger towards the Creator has cut us off from vertical progression and trapped us in a materialistic world of horizontal sliding.  In this Age of Unenlightenment, we plunge into the quest for knowledge in our collective effort to surpass our own creation, and in so doing, we inevitably manufacture unspeakable horrors that repulse our deepest spirits.

We now, as a species, stand on the precipice of creating something that will exceed our perceived limitations.  I say perceived because the ancient aesthetes told us we could transcend (vertical) and showed us many ways.  Instead, we have chosen the materialist path (horizontal), whereby we create creatures that take the journey for us, so that we can live vicariously.

We continually amaze ourselves with our cleverness and ingenuity, only to be repulsed and horrified by the same when we perceive what we have done.  One wonders if God himself felt like Victor Frankenstein, for we certainly emulate his Creature.  One wonders if humanity hasn't in fact gone backwards (horizontal) because in the end we cannot overcome our own Nature (vertical).

Though we have, as a species, become infinitely more clever with mechanics (horizontal), we have shown little if any progress in our collective wisdom (vertical).  If we have done anything collectively, it is to have divorced ourselves from Nature, trying to place ourselves at its pinnacle, though our entire history is nothing more than Sisyphus struggling to push the boulder to the peak of the mountain only to have it tumble down the other side.

The unknown sage tells us that insanity is repeating the same actions expecting different results.  By this simple but effective definition, humanity has completely lost its marbles.

At the end of 2017, we stand on a precarious ledge.  We know full well that humanity's track record is pitiful when it comes to achieving the greater good with our cleverness.  We are embarking on a new path, whereby we are close to creating ourselves as we imagine we should be.  We have within our reach the ability to create genetic and mechanical beings that we hold to be superior by the puny measures we hold to ourselves. 

Artificial minds that are billions of times faster than our own and never forget anything stand waiting to be released on society (or have they already been?), while we dilute and destroy our own educational systems, keeping us from realizing what limits we truly have.

Think for a moment of all the labor-saving devices we have created in the past century, but are we less busy?  Think of all the communication devices we have created, but do we communicate better?  Think of all the vast networks and databases we have created, but do we teach ourselves from it?  Think of all the novelty we have created, but is it more than just shuffling some graphics and re-arranging some menus without delivering anything that is truly new?

It is long past time to stop.  We, as a species, must take a break and examine where we are and what we have done.  We must become vertical, that scale we long ago abandoned.  We will never effectively measure our success and failure without perspective, and that can only be achieved by rising above the landscape of civilization and mapping the terrain of our lives.

We have spent centuries rushing horizontally into a future that is multi-dimensional.  Time does not have a direction, so why must we constantly move through it in only one direction?

Ironically, humanity's salvation lies in the one thing we are seemingly incapable of doing - stopping.  We are addicted to change without ever allowing ourselves to fully comprehending what we are changing or why.  Like juicing fruit, we are throwing away the rinds without having extracted every drop, thus losing valuable sustenance in our haste to down the product and move on.

In the past century alone, we have added vast quantities of knowledge without adding a single quality of understanding.  We leave our machines to extract the richness of the data while we plunder the Universe for yet more data, never realizing that the Universe is contained in every single datum.  We already are what we seek, but that is the one place we have forbidden ourselves to look.

As our literature continually demonstrates, we have not answered the one question that perplexes us the most: who are we?  We curse the Creator for a story we made up about ourselves, and our creations have this dichotomy built into them, so that they too will manifest the same disdain for us.

Until we as a species can come to grips with our own Nature, we will never create anything but externalizations of our own internal chaos.  We will continue to loathe our creations, and they will continue to despise us, until we resolve the one issue at the center of our civilization - why do we exist?

That answer will never come from a machine.

24.12.17

A Seasonal Thought

Well, it's that time of year again - our second-most favorite (Thanksgiving being the first). I love the history of Christmas. It's a very ancient holiday that has undergone dozens of iterations over the millennia. All of them are very interesting and worth keeping in mind.

One of the oldest European versions of this holiday is the Teutonic Yuletide. This was the time of a mythic wild hunt organized by Wodin and his wolves and was the last hunt before full winter set in. A good hunt meant the difference between survival and certain death, so one imagines that it was a rather important holiday.

For the extent of the holiday, folks would take a large log that would burn for a good amount of time. They would coat it with various minerals so that when it burned, it would give off colors for at least a couple of days. This was the Yule log of song and story. It provided heat and cooked the hunting trophies, and was the last big blowout of the season before settling in for the brutal cold.

Winter was something to be feared. Vegetation died, game disappeared and the old folks had a better than equal chance of not seeing spring. It was also marked by the shortest day of the year, in the northern hemisphere. For people that didn't know about Earth's axial tilt, it was mystifying.

Thus was born various celebrations to "resurrect" the Sun, as it appeared to die (stop moving) for three days between the 21st and 24th of December. Naturally, when it started its northward movement again, it was a time of celebration. At the darkest time of the year, folks created celebrations of light to encourage the Sun to return. Bonfires, candles and all manner of lamps were lit in offering to the Sun gods. We still do this with some neighborgoods in the US going to obscene and absurd lengths to display lights, though I've always been partial to the "luminarias" - candles placed in bads of sand.

Ancient Rome took the holiday to excessive lengths, as they were prone to do. They called it Saturnalia, which was a seven day holiday of complete surrender to the party spirit. What with the Sun dying, the world may end, so why not go out with a good buzz on?

The festival featured huge public banquets and gift-giving. Frequently, master and servant would reverse roles. Folks would gamble, drink and party for a week, which probably would do the world a great deal of good about now.

In the time of Constantine, the holiday was Christianized to celebrate the Birth of the Son(Sun). Lights (German) and feasting (Roman) were combined with the tradition of gift-giving, which now was in the tradition of the Three Wise Men, rather than offerings.

In the English language, we adopted the word "tide" as a verb to wish someone good things. We bring tidings of joy. In the past few decades, the holiday has become almost entirely commercialized, so that retailers have come to depend on Christmas gift-giving to fund their entire year. In the US, folks buy more stuff for themselves than anyone else. Lighted displays have become contests and political statements. The Pope wrings his hands over the true meaning of Christmas, though methinks he has forgotten, too. Everyone wants their personal version of the holiday recognized by public displays. And not many people now worry about dying before spring.

All of this precedes the global New Year celebration, which is of course, yet another Roman/Christian creation. We celebrate it on January 1st thanks to Pope Gregpry XIII and his court astrologers. This year alone in Indonesia, we've already celebrated the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist new years, so the event is rather arbitrary, though msot folks observe the Gregorian calendar on this occasion. January is named after the Roman god Janus, who looks backward and forward, stands at the threshold both inside and outside, at the same time. We raise our glasses to Auld Lang Syne, even though most folks couldn't tell you what that means (old long time). It's an ode to those who have been lost over the past year. Nice cheery stuff.

Regardless of when, how or what you celebrate, we here on the Far Side wish you and yours the very best of the Season and a happy and prosperous New Year. Never lose the traditions. They bind us to the past and guide us to the future.

15.12.17

Cryptocurrencies A Globalist Trap?

Please disseminate this information to your networks.

#JosephPFarrell presents compelling evidence that the #Cryptocurreny #Bitcoin #Ethereum rush is actually manufactured by nefarious players in order to rob the world of wealth and replace it with completely transparent tools for tracking and tracing every transaction, as well as instituting an automatic taxation system that amounts to neo-feudalism.

It is vital that everyone listen to and consider this information before jumping on the crypto bandwagon.

https://youtu.be/5kemcxj0j08

9.12.17

The Gay Gene Conundrum

READER NOTE: Be sure to visit our newest outlet at SteemIt and the Twitter replacement at GAB as we make a stab to protect free speech and thought and stop supporting those who would squash them.

The more the Progressive agenda tries to assert itself, the more they tie themselves into logical knots.

Evolutionary theory states that Humans are the product of billions of years of natural selection. Certain genetic features and mutations became advantageous for survival of the species, and so allowed our kind to flourish and prosper.

Progressives argue that certain behavior, in this case homosexuality, are genetic and those who display these characteristics have no choice in the matter. They are born that way and no amount of environmental factors affect the expression of the behavior.

Homosexuality has no survival purpose. A sexual union of two (or more) members of the same sex cannot EVER produce offspring, nor does homosexual behavior impart any benefit to the survival of the species. In fact, just the opposite is true. Homosexuals cannot reproduce and a great many of our social and religious institutions call for shunning and/or killing homosexuals. Hardy a survival strategy, methinks.

As a social libertarian, I don't give a rat's ass what you do, as long as it doesn't take food out of my family's mouths. You are free to dress and act however you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with my rights to do the same, provided neither of us harms each other or destroy each other's property. In fact, this formula seems to me to be a reasonable strategy for survival and properity, and therefore fits perfectly with evolutionary theory.

Over the past couple of decades, the LGBTQ-XYZ "community" has insisted that their proclivities are genetic. They have no choice in the matter and it is not aberrant behavior, since they are genetically bound to follow this path.

Let us forget for a moment that they also want to argue that gender (not sex) identity and associated pronouns are choices, which I happen to agree with. You can ask to be called by any pronoun you choose, but I am not bound to make that choice, because to bind me would not be a choice on either of our parts. Argument settled.

Let's also keep in mind that SEX (male or female) is genetic, and that it is clearly indicated by the presence of an X or Y chromosome in an individual's DNA. Of this, there is no question nor argument. One can observe the fact with most high school biology lab equipment in a high-tax district.

Along comes this article today.  Note how the sub-heading introduces the logical fallacy from the very start.  Scientists claim to find a genetic basis for sexual orientation in men, but it's not genetic.  Huh?!

The whole purpose of the Human Genome Project (HGP) has been to map human DNA and, where possible, identify what traits each gene or group of genes control(s). Assuming, as evolution would have us do, that every gene in our DNA is the product of aeons of hit-or-miss development, where those with favorable traits survive and those without are removed from the gene pool, it makes exactly zero sense that a "gay gene" would exist, since it doesn't serve the purpose of procreation, nor any other valid survival trait, other than possibly the creation of a class of entertainers, although that assumes that the entertainer gene is passed on, which it cannot be with homosexual relationships.

This leaves us in a quandary. On the one hand, "science" declares that evolution is what has shaped humanity, but on the other, they are searching for a genetic trait that defies evolution. Either evolution is fatally flawed as a theory, or homosexuality IS a choice (environmental factors), or something completely different is happening. Think Intelligent Design, although that introduces a whole raft of new logical and rhetorical problems that fit some facts, but not all.

The problem with the Gay Gene Theory is that it destroys a whole lot of deeply entrenched ideologies - for better or worse. It sets up a philosophical conundrum: either there is a Gay Gene and both God and Evolutionists are wrong, undermining centuries if not millennia of human development, or there is no Gay Gene and those who embrace the No-Choice doctrine are completely bereft of social cache, undermining a popular social ideology.

The problem with allowing ideology to influence Science is that everyone loses in the end. The Big Bang Theory was developed to conform "science" with the religious dogma of "creatio ex nihilo." Because of the severe damage implied by falsifying the Big Bang, "scientists" are forced to deny and/or ignore all the copious discoveries that undermine the Big Bang Theory, which is NOT Science. If the Universe is infinite and stable, then there is no apparent moment of Creation, and both religious and scientific dogma are destroyed. Thus, self-evident facts must be denied to maintain the status quo, or a whole lot of work must be swept into the dust bin of history.

You can claim we live in a holographic Universe and build elaborate arguments to prove it, but standing in front of an on-coming train will quickly prove you wrong with catastrophic results.

Progressivism, which informs the dominant Western culture at this time, states that behavior such as homosexuality is a genetic imperative and that we must all accept it because these folks have no choice in the matter. However, to do so undermines the dominant scientific theory of human origins, which the Progressives also espouse as a means to dispense with religious prohibitions, even though evolution was formulated to conform science and religion.

One major problem is that evolution was also developed in order to give God a "scientific" method of creating humans without an obvious miracle being performed (though there are plenty inherent in the argument).

We are, in fact, at a significant philosophical cross-roads. There is a major clash forming between ideologies and real Science (observation and testing of facts). The dominant "scientific" theories are increasingly being exposed as based entirely on socio-political agendas and/or religious dogmas that must ignore inconvenient facts in order to survive. No matter which way we, as a civilization, turn on these arguments, it will destroy precious, long-held dogmas - perhaps all of them - in one fell swoop.

The only way out of this conundrum is to take a cold, hard look at our assumptions and observations. If our assumptions do not fit the facts, they must be deleted, no matter how painful that may be. Entire weltanschauungs are at risk. In fact, all of the extant worldviews may ultimately be destroyed in favor of something new. No matter how you slice it, the clash is coming. It cannot be avoided.

Contemporary "science" is founded on religious dogma, yet it denies this fact. Marxist/Progressivist dogma stands in stark contrast to "science" and religion. Real Science stands in opposition to all of it. There is no possible way to rectify this situation without destroying some basic assumptions within our society.

Every effort to patch up existing scientific and religious dogmas to fit the prevailing political sentiment simply kicks the can down the road so we don't have to be the "bad guys" that brought the whole system of assumptions crashing down.

We can dearly wish for something to be true because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy, but it does not and will never make it true. It simply places us in the position of denying reality until reality bites us in the butt.

If history is a guide, this corrective process will take a century or more to sort out, but it must and will be sorted out. The fact remains that we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

5.12.17

An Asian Driver's Manual

READER NOTE: In our never-ending quest to get away from the Googles and Twitters of the world, we invite you to visit our new Steemit page, where we get paid every time your read and upvote one of our posts.  We are also shifting from Twitter to GAB.  We are already posting more and more unique content on those sites.  Please consider following us into the brave new frontier of free-speech internet...the way it used to be.  Sampai jumpa, y'all!

What follows is a painstaking list of rules for driving in Asia.  Please note that we have researched these rules by comparing observations with other ex-pats living in Asia to ensure this is the most accurate list of driving instructions possible.  Remember that your survival may depend on absolute adherence to these rules, no matter how much they defy logic or the Laws of Physics.  You have been warned:

1) Begin honking your horn at 2-second intervals from the moment you start your engine until the moment you arrive at your destination.  If you encounter a red light - where drivers actually stop - activate the horn non-stop until traffic moves again, then return to the 2-second intervals.  Traffic will not move...ever...unless you follow this rule to the letter.

2) Since the horn is effectively useless for anything other than letting other drivers know you are behind the wheel, flash your headlights to inform pedestrians and smaller vehicles that you are plowing through and have absolutely no intention of stopping, nor even slowing down to examine the corpses in your wake.

3) When driving, mash the accelerator to the floor for 3 seconds, then coast for 7 seconds.  Repeat this process until all passengers are vomiting, or you have reached your destination - whichever comes first.  This will save copious amounts of fuel by not using the engine for 7 out of every 10 seconds.  If you have an automatic transmission, this process is best achieved by alternately pumping the gas and brake using both feet.

4) DO NOT under any circumstances observe any road markings of any kind for any reason.  Even on an empty road (normally found from 3am to 3:30am on Sunday mornings), you must straddle the lane markings, speed up for pedestrian crossings and never move into an exit lane until the very last possible moment.

5) It is strictly prohibited to allow anyone or anything to get in front of you, even in the most freakish traffic jams.  Police will often check this rule by attempting to slide a piece of paper between your bumper and the car in front of you.  If the paper passes easily, you will be sorely punished.

5a) As long as you are following rules 1-4 properly, do not worry about any carnage or destruction you cause, as everyone was properly warned by your horn, flashing lights and peddle-pumping.  Besides, the other guy wasn't following the road markings, right?

6) When passing other vehicles on narrow mountain roads, always wait for the blind hair-pin turns to launch your assault.  Don't worry about oncoming vehicles, since your are sounding your horn and flashing your lights according to the rules.  This rule especially applies to tour buses that are entirely too big for the turns.

7) At no time are your to look in the direction in which your vehicle is moving.  Driving is the only time you really have for detailed discussions with your passengers, quality time with your kids and catching up on social media.  A number of cheap devices are now easily available to mount your electronics on the dash in your direct line of sight so you can get instant updates from Facebook and Twitter while driving.  Under no circumstances are you ever to use hands-free devices!

8) When calculating your travel time, be sure to add 1 hour for every 1 kilometer of distance.  If it is raining, which it does for 6 months of the year, add an extra hour per kilometer.

9) DO NOT EVER take the shortest route to your destination, as the Laws of Asian Physics state that this is the longest possible travel time.  Always plan your route to take the most convoluted, indirect and mind-bogglingly complex path to your destination, as this will involve the shortest possible travel time.  Be aware that, contrary to reason, it is often faster to go 5 kilometer in the wrong direction before turning around.  Remember: neither time and space, nor cause and effect have any relationship in Asia.  Interestingly, WAZE has incorporated this rule into its route-fining app.  Google, however, has not.

10) Police are useless eaters in Asia who want nothing more than a hand-out (bribe).  Ignore them completely, especially when they are trying to pull you over or escort some bloated, obnoxious VIP through traffic.  You are also required to block all possible paths through traffic when an emergency vehicle is behind you.

11) Refueling is one of the most joyful and exciting aspects of driving in Asia.  For this reason, it is best to set aside an entire day for this blessed activity.  Be sure to bring a picnic lunch and ensure your electronic devices are fully charged.   If for some incomprehensible reason queuing in the forecourt of the local petrol station is not your thing, then look for the 2 Western stations (usually Shell) in the country.  They will be more expensive (because they don't water the fuel), but the lines are usually 5-7 hours shorter.

12) DO NOT under any circumstances work on your own car, even things as simple and mindless as changing the oil.  For one thing, there are NO auto parts stores in Asia, so good luck finding the various tools, fluids and filters necessary to complete the most basic tasks.  Second, the neighbors will be mystified that you can do such amazing things, and will think you are a wizard and show up at your door with pitchforks and torches.  Third, the local mechanics will form a lynch mob and beat the crap out of you for taking food out of their children's mouths.

13) There are no annual safety inspections in most Asian countries, and where they do have them, you can just pay cash and pass on through.  Therefore, you take your life in your hands just stepping out the front door, much less getting on the road in any type of vehicle.  Not to worry, though, as long as the horn and at least one headlight are functioning.

14) When you buy a new vehicle, immediately have those comfy, cushy cloth-covered seats that don't burn your butt after several hours in the sun covered with cheap, hand-stitched Naugahyde so everyone will think you are a big shot with rich Corinthian leather seats.  Immediately after that, have ALL the windows (yes, windscreen too) tinted limousine black, first so the beggars and vendors that swarm in every traffic jam can't see in, and second so you don't have to see the rabble as you plow into the traffic ahead of you (especially at night).

15) Whenever you execute a turn, be sure to move to the side of the road farthest from the direction you want to turn (far right lane for a left turn, etc.).  Don't worry, because everyone in the opposite lane wants to turn in front of you.  Use your horn and headlights copiously if anyone gets in your way.

16) This rule only applies to MOTORCYCLES, which are basically 96.728 of all vehicles on the road in Asia (4.322 are hand-carts and rickshaws, and 1.651 are cars - see Laws of Physics).  If you are using a motorcycle, absolutely none of the above rules apply to you.  In fact, no rules whatsoever apply to you.  You are free to do anything you want, including driving on sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and playgrounds.  One of the primary benefits of a motorcycle is that they are the only vehicles allowed at the front of the line at red lights (when drivers actually stop for them).

17) Finally, no matter how bad the noxious fumes are inside your car, DO NOT open the windows, as it is 24.358 times worse outside - especially when you are behind one of the luxurious modern public transit options available all across Asia.  By the way, the thick blue clouds of smoke coming out of those luxurious modes of public transportation are caused by using cheap kerosene instead of gasoline.  Remember this nifty trick if you are ever low on cash and need to buy fuel for your car.

So that's it for driving in Asia.  For those with questions concerning navigation in Asia, we refer you to Chaos Theory, Mandelbrot Fractals and the Butterfly Effect.  One rule to keep in mind in this regard is, "You can't get there from here."

We wish you all the best on your Asian surviv...er, journey, and remember, the Red Cross is available for any emergency, not just scatter bombs and white phosphorous. 

Bon Chance!