Ron Paul Country: Mongolia in California

Ron Paul Sign

California is, for the most part,Mongolia. Erase the coasts and the canals that suck water from the north to feed Big Asparagus and whiten the teeth of Valley Girls, it would be as desolate as the steppes of Central Asia. Driving throughthe high desert between Bakersfield and Las Vegas I note two landmarks: a graveyard for embalmed airliners, in permanent holding pattern at Mohave airport, and a shrine for Republican presidential
candidate Ron Paul. Paul is what is known as a Libertarian, a sect of American politics that wavers between admirably cranky conservatism and loco-weed lunacy: just right for the build-a-wall, save-the-republic denizens of this landscape of coyotes, cactus and bullet-riddled road signs.


Democracy and Debauchery


Oh, we Americans are a wild and crazy bunch: toiling hard and productively, spreading democracy by day…partying hard by night. Or is it partying day and night? According to a new report on travel trends, we Yanks are binge drinking, G-string snapping “debaucherists,” longing for the eternal spring break.


Lost in Tschotskiland: An Essay on Souvenirs and Crafts: Audio

Sedona, Arizona – Batik Paints, Bali

I am at the dump with a truckload of…STUFF: a rusty old Weber barbecue with a missing wheel, two CD players that cost more to fix than replace, a typewriter table (remember those?), old tax receipts, and souvenirs, boxes of worthless STUFF that is given or sent to me because I am a travel writer and therefore deemed an easy mark for bribery.

AUDIO STORY: Lost in Tschotskiland

Taxis of the World

Taking a taxi ride is an instant way to form some conclusions about a place. In Beijing, for example, I was assaulted by a silent driver and Chinese rap song that kept going on and on and on.for about 100 minutes. China, it seems, is embracing the rhythms of western economics and culture faster than China’s leaders would like to admit. In a similar musical assault in Brazil a few years ago, Brazilian pop blasted through a torn speaker in back of me as the cabbie blew kisses at young women we passed.who completely ignored this Latin Lothario.


Mighty Morfin’ Airplanes: Nanotechnology Explained (sort of)

“I am endeavoring, ma’am, to construct a mnemonic circuit using stone knives and bearskins.”
Mr. Spock on Star Trek

In the mid `90s, sages like MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte told us to think about bits instead of atoms. Atoms were unwieldy hard goods.”stuff” like steel and rock. You needed forklifts to move them. Bits were nimble little song and dance men that two-stepped around The Internet and recombined as everything from airline bookings to Britney Spears videos.