A Neurotic in an Exotic Land; The Adventures of Professor Lucas

Here you will find some related writings (generally not as funny as the book) and a little info about the author, as well as an excerpt from the book.
The photo above should have been the book's cover!--and it
should be turned around!

All rights reserved.

Although some of the items I've now posted differ in their mood and style from the book itself, I am posting them here anyway because they date from roughly the time period in which the book was written--and, I believe they share a certain ambience with it. (note added 14 March 2010)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

health care and paperwork....

While living in Slovakia, I was seriously ill and required hospitalization.

At the time, as far as I recall, I did not fill out very many forms. I did, however, have a small plastic card which indicated that I was part of the state system of health care.

Recently, I have been living in the USA with my eighty-something parents. They frequently visit doctors, and, on every visit without exception, are asked to fill out forms, and are provided legalistic documents for their signature.

That demand upon their time stands in sharp contrast to the paperwork free spending which
went on in Iraq at the beginning of the occupation. (I do not mean to suggest that anything has changed today; but the link below is to an article written five years ago.)

I am attaching a link to provide the details:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Among my many adventures in the Slovak Republic was my year-long battle with the managers of a certain Slovak international school, during which my fondness
for the term "fascism" provoked intense criticism.

What I learned was that "fascism" had a very specific meaning for my audience.

But I think it's something of a reductio if such a general term is limited in scope
to only one period of time. You don't want simply to refer to some event
as a bare particular, but surely the interest in the thing is what properties it has
what laws of nature are involved and such!--and especially the goodness and badness involved!

To be sure, it's also absurd when every bad person is described as a "Hitler".

Along these lines, I am now re-discovering that "Bolshevism" is a term
more prominent for UK speakers of English than for me.

I say that because I just read Andrew Cockburn remarking that the UK had to let up its ban on food imports to Germany after World War One--"for fear of promoting Bolshevism"

(LRB 22 July 2010 Andrew Cockburn, "Worth It")

I was once accused of being a Bolshevik by someone at the "Guardian" newspaper.
After my "Letter from Bratislava" had been published (you can find the letter in the archives of this blog), I complained at the delay before I received my check.
My correspondent at the Guardian described me as a "Bolshevik" when I complained.

Absurd really. There should be a precise term for this sort of falsification.

When someone says something true, conjure up visions of a vivid sort of violent
injustice, and destruction of all social order.... hmmmm...... something like
capitalism and capitalists.....

So, according to this lose use, capitalists too are... bosheviks?

("Bolshevik" doesn't belong to my active vocabulary, and I am not a participant in UK culture, and since email is such a dry medium, I might be missing the possibility that my correspondent was joking. But look! See here! All my life I have been paying in advance for certain services (like using the Internet now), but I have only been paid after I had made my contribution....So, to me, that suggests something rotten. I have to pay first for what I get. but I am paid later, and sometimes late for what I give. THAT IS NOT FUNNY!

An Afterthought:

Surely, someone is thinking: What about credit!? You could borrow money! But borrowing money is altogether different. An employer gets to benefit from my effort and my schooling without paying me up front, and retains power over me in the form of various forms of control. I have no similar power over a bank that loans me money.
But even if I could borrow without interest, I don't like the idea of adding the banker
as a middleman.

More generally, credit, in the real world, puts power in the hands of those who least deserve it. I know very well there is a fairy tale about how banks spread money around like manure, but it's just not reality. A more detailed and scholarly objection to credit as an institution (because it is an institution which increases undeserved privilege and power) can be found in the economist Robin Hahnel's book, "The ABC's of Political Economy". (Pluto Press 2002) In brief, credit markets allow individuals to increase personal wealth out of proportion to effort or sacrifice.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dead Links

I have just noticed that there are some dead links here--all to the
Journal of Mundane Behavior.

This happened once before, but the JMB eventually came back.

If it doesn't re-appear, I should be able to find the advertised articles
and post them at this cite.

So, check back in either case if you are interested.