2015 03 05



Here are some of the external events of my life. It is a list of dates with some notes. It came after a friend listed me on social media, and I began to get questions. I used it to tell people what happened to me. My memory is not exact.

1949. Born Portland, Oregon, USA

1950. Brother, Dino, born

1950 – 1951. My parents took my brother and I to live for a year in Crete, where they were from.

1951 – 1957. We live in various bad apartments in downtown Portland, Oregon. I spent a lot of time running around on the streets, which I loved. I can remember the time before supermarkets and strip malls, when towns had butcher shops, bakeries, big open air markets, etc.

1957? We moved from downtown to 75th avenue, a modest middle class neighborhood.

1957? – 1963. Glenhaven grade school in Portland. An excellent school.

1963 – 1967. James Madison High School in Portland. JM was an outstanding public high school.

1967- 1968. Pomona College outside of Los Angeles. I did independent study. I hitchhiked into LA sometimes.

1968. Concerns about democracy, human nature, and the war in Viet Nam interfered with my ability to study and led me to drop out after one year.

1968. I tried to enlist in a military service. I enjoyed the enlistment process until I realized the recruiters were lying.

1968. As a result, I decide to be a conscientious objector.

1968 – 1969. While waiting for my case, I went to school at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

1969 – 1971. For my alternative service as a conscientious objector, I worked for Planned Parenthood in Oakland, CA. One duty I had was to drive a van around the Bay area for mobile family planning clinics. I learned a lot from the people and the job.

1969. While living in Oakland, I met my first wife, Virginia Lowe (Ginnie). She was a student at California College of Arts and Crafts. She was a painter.

1971. My parents were both getting sick and old. My father was about 80. They wrote requesting my help. As a result, my CO work ended after a year on a hardship allowance.

1971 – 1972. Ginnie and I returned to Portland, where we she, my brother, and I helped my parents.

Ginnie and I both got jobs at the University of Oregon Med School Hospital in Portland, which is linked to Multnomah County Hospital. I worked taking tissue samples, mostly drawing blood from outpatients. The outpatient clinic did a lot of work on diabetes patients. I also did duty on some wards. The wards I remember are the children’s cancer ward and the renal (kidney) ward.

I learned that people get sick mostly from stress. I could not be a doctor because I could not treat the cause of illness, the problems that cause the stress. There is little point in treating symptoms if you are not allowed to treat the root causes of disease. This lesson I took into other arenas. Social problems have to be addressed. That is one reason I went into anthropology.

1973? Ginnie got a BA from Portland State in Medieval literature.

1973 – 1976. Ginnie and I both went to UO in Eugene. Dino and his friends were there too. Ginnie worked on an MA in Medieval Studies and I eventually settled on anthropology.

1973 (?) Mother dies.

1974 (?) Father dies less than a year later.

1974. From a course taught by John Fentress, I discover animal behavior studies. I worked at the animal behavior unit, run by Jenny Ryon, who helped me much. I worked on projects with a visiting scholar, Tim Roper, who let me be co-author on a paper, and helped me in other ways too.

1975. I discovered sociobiology, which is the study of how individual strategies based on evolution lead to social organization. Eventually this became my main academic commitment.

1975 – 1976. I discovered Japanese (“Shotokan”) karate, as taught by Sensei Robert Graves. Learning from him was one of the great experiences of my life. It stuck with me always.

1976. Ginnie said she no longer wanted to go to school, so I had to go to grad school.

1976. I got an NSF graduate fellowship to support three years of graduate school. I went to Harvard.

1976 – 1977. I had a miserable time at Harvard Anthropology. I don’t explain here why.

1976. Ginnie decided she wanted to go back to school in Folklore. We went to separate schools. Ginnie got into Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

1977. I leave Harvard and go to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

1977 – 1980. I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and go to UM. I like AA. Besides anthropology, I studied economics, animals, sociobiology, and popular culture, nearly all on my own.

The town of Ann Arbor had an outstanding pop culture environment. I loved New Wave, Punk, Power Pop, and politically aware music. AA had several clubs devoted to those kinds of bands, including one run by Patti Smith and her husband Fred Smith.

1977 or so. I began to learn Tai Chi Chuan (“Tai chi” or “Taiji Quan”). I saw the relation between Tai Chi and karate. I still love both and do both.

1978 or so. Ginnie and I got divorced. We remain on good terms.

1978 and following. I have always had health problems. They grew worse.

1979 or so. I dislike academia. Yet I then that I had few options. This contradiction adds much to my stress.

1981 – 1984. I did field work in Thailand. I got a Fulbright fellowship, Wenner-Gren fellowship, and support from the UM, to do the fieldwork.

The total time was just less than 3 years. Of that, I spent about 4 months in Bangkok. Most of the time was spent in a coastal village on the Gulf of Thailand. Some of the people there became some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. Unfortunately, now nearly all of my old friends are dead.

Despite some really good times, field work was hard, and always has been hard. I was really tired all the time.

The Southern Thai are not gentle, and can be quite violent. My host had killed a man in a bar fight. One next door neighbor had killed at least one man and maimed at least one other. One next door neighbor was a pirate, raping and murdering Vietnamese boat people. My best friend had killed at least one man.

Young men in Thailand know Thai style boxing (muai Thai), and wanted to “spar” with me. Eventually somebody was going to get hurt too. So I stopped martial arts, and didn’t pick it up again for too long.

The most powerful gangster in Southern Thailand, and maybe in all of Thailand, lived about 20 kilos from where I lived. He got interested in me and my work, and visited a couple of times. Then, around 1983, his house was surrounded by armed men in uniform, and he and eight of his family were massacred.

When I first went to Southern Thailand, it was in the beginning of an ecological disaster such as you see on TV. While there, I got to watch the forests cut, pollution, and floods. I watched forests taken over by palm plantations and rubber plantations. I saw “swamps” dammed and filled. This was all very sad. Every time I went back, I saw how the process had continued along. I got to understand the roots of the problem in overpopulation and in the way that people treat nature. What I had learned about nature, economics, and animals was relevant to see all this properly.

1981. I met Nitaya, my present wife. She was a teacher at language school. She was a town-and-city person, not from the villages where I did fieldwork. She did adjust well to field work in the country later on. She has a BA degree from a college in Thailand.

1983. Nit and I got married. I went through the immigration procedure for her.

1985 – 1989. Nit and I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, mostly in married student housing. I taught, mostly as a TA, and I worked on my dissertation. It took so long because I had a mass of raw data and I had to learn a whole lot of skills, such as how to program computers.

I faced four academic identities: Southeast Asian specialist, development specialist, anthropologist among increasingly anti-science anthropologists, or sociobiologist. I could not find a place among any of them. Nit and I were marginalized, and that took a toll on both of us.

I loved teaching and had skill in it. I put a lot of time into it, and this slowed my progress in academia and contributed to stress.

1990 – 1995. I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ohio University in Athens, OH.

The kids were good people. I had a great time teaching. One year, I was voted the best professor at OU, an honor I value as much as any awards I have gotten.

On the other hand, Ohio University and the Department of Soc/Anth were horrible. I came into a civil war there and suffered as a result. The alienation that Nit and I had felt at Michigan continued at OU. I did not get tenure, and did not want tenure.

I went to Thailand at least twice on short trips to prepare for future field work. I visited other schools in the US at least twice to study Thai culture, especially popular culture such as movies.

My health problems got progressively worse. Consulting with doctors did not help much.

1990 – 1995. About 1993, one of my best friends in Thailand murdered the man who had hosted me from 1981 through 1983. This event created a big problem for my relations there.

1995 – 1996. I got a senior Fulbright to go to Thailand.

I went to Thailand to study shrimp farming. I was at (Prince of) Songkhla University (PSU) in far Southern Thailand, at the Coastal Research Institute or “CORIN”. Shrimp farming was new industry that exploded after 1988. It was a huge source of revenue but also a threat to nature, farming, and traditional life. My research was exactly what was needed, and things should have been great.

But the person who ran CORIN was a sociopath. I do not go into details. He blocked my research and tried to force me to do only what benefited him. The university would not override him to help me.

Fortunately, CORIN had a project in a Muslim fishing village that it did not want to do, so I did it instead, and Nit and I did our own research about the village while we were there. We were in-and-out of that village several times a week for about a year. That was fun.

1996. There were some good people at PSU not at CORIN. One was a feminist friend name “Toom”. Three non-Thai friends were Tyra, Richard Friend, and Simon Funge-Smith.

A good Thai friend was Professor Nithi. He was about my age. He won the Magsaysay Award (“Asian Nobel Prize”) for his work with people who lived in the forest and took care of the forest as a way of life and without state help. Then, just after my year at PSU was over, he suffered a massive stroke. Nit and I cared for him at the hospital for weeks. When he recovered, he did not even remember us.

1997. Because Nit stayed overseas for more than a year, she lost her resident alien status. Nobody at Fulbright or the State Department had ever mentioned this possibility to us. To get back to the US, we would have to go through the entire immigration procedure again.

1997. My best friend where I had done my first field work, Na Khin, died in a traffic accident. He was a pioneer in mixed tropical cultivation. He had just cleared all the debt from his land, and so was able to buy the pickup truck that killed him.

Within four years, that made three deaths of people close to me, and the virtual deaths of Professor Nithi and of my good friend who had killed my host. That was too much for me.

1996 – 2000. I did not want to go back to American academia. Living entirely on our savings, Nit and I studied shrimp farming on our own throughout Southern Thailand. We drove into every cranny of the South, and then into almost every other place in Thailand as well.

I learned a lesson against PC expectations: small-scale shrimp farmers were the worst abusers of nature while large-scale businessmen farmers were best at working within nature. The future of good shrimp farming lay with middle to large scale farmers. Nit and I became friends with a group of large-scale shrimp farmers. We visited their farms many times, and I went to their association meetings regularly. Ever since then, I have felt comfortable with business people. I also learned about other aspects of the business such as transport, storage, and marketing.

Despite learning a lot, and spending four years there, I published nothing. I did not want to get labeled as a “shrimp guy”. It would take me too far out of the way here to explain more.

Besides shrimp farming, I studied Thai culture and popular culture, including movies, TV shows, and novels. I was able to buy used paperback Penguin classic books, and eventually I read a couple hundred. That was fun.

Our work schedule was simple: Three or four days a week, Nit and I drove all around Southern Thailand and talked to shrimp farmers. Three days a week, I read books in English and Thai, watched TV mostly in Thai, and watched Thai movies.

2000. I returned to the US before Nit, largely to prepare the way for Nit to follow. To get Nit back, I had to take and keep a job under strict conditions. I had met Claude Boyd of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Boyd studies water quality, has a lab, works with catfish farmers in Alabama, with shrimp farmers in various places, and does projects for business and government. He needed somebody who could chaperone Asian students around catfish farms in West Alabama, talk to farmers there, and make sure the students were OK. I did that while I waited to fulfill the requirements for bringing Nit back.

My health got progressively worse until about 2006.

2000. Nit taught little children in a school in Northern Thailand while she waited for me to take care of the immigration documents. She really loved that.

2001. Nit returns. She is totally burned out and bummed out. She desperately needs a rest and some security. We had far exceeded her levels of tolerance for uncertainty. She needed peace.

2001 and following. My job shifted from chaperoning students to doing research projects for Boyd and for a senior professor named Wayne Shell. I think I am the only one in Auburn who could have done some of them. You can see some of them in other notes.

Eventually, though, I began to see these projects as a dead end.

The situation came to a head in 2005 to 2006 when we did a project for the World Wildlife Fund about the conditions of the catfish raising industry in West Alabama. The catfish industry in Alabama is quite solid in its ability to get along with nature and society, similar to Thai shrimp farming. WWF is certainly an outstanding NGO, and it understands practicality. Yet it became clear that private business people and NGOs could not cooperate to achieve the best for nature and society, and that the fault lay equally with both sides. The root of the problem is human nature and in culture.

2000 to 2011. My job situation at Auburn was deplorable but common in America. Technically I am a temporary part-time worker although I work full time or more. I had no benefits, no sick leave, and did not have a raise in eleven years. I took a month off every year with no pay so the University could keep me in my status. These were not the conditions I agreed to when I first agreed to come here. I gained sympathy for working people and the realities they face such as low wages and no health care. It is not a good way to live. It also gave me insight into how working people are not realistic, in assessing their situations and in what they expect from politicians.

2002 and following. Nit did not have a job at first. She volunteered at various places such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and teaching adults for their GED. She learned a lot. Then she got a job at Auburn University library. The job provides security. Nit does not want to leave to seek a better place. She wants to stay here until she had put in enough years to get a pension. Given the previous ups and downs of our lives, I don’t blame her. Since now it would probably do me no good to go somewhere else to seek a job, I might as well stay here and do what work I can until Nit gets her pension and things settle out. This is how it stands at the moment.

2000 and following. I studied topics that I had wanted to finish for a long time: economics, religion, Christianity in particular, English literature, in particular poetry, mathematics, and physics. This reading prepares the way for improving health and later other projects.

2005 and following. I consulted a sleep specialist in Tuscaloosa who gave me good advice about sleep. By gaining some control over my sleep, I was able eventually to gain more control over other aspects of my health problems. I began to do Tai Chi and karate again regularly. I settled some long-standing deep problems about my personal integrity in the world. After that, I began to feel better. Now I feel better than I have since I was 25 years old.

2005. I finished a book I had wanted to write since high school. It is called “First Book in Economics”. It explains economics for people who never studied economics and don’t like math. It is still relevant now in 2014. I (self-) published it on the Internet. It is available on my website.

2010. I finished the first of two books on religion. This book is called “Jesus for Most People”. The title explains the book. I (self-) published it on the Internet. It is available on my website.

2010. Sometime between the economics book and the end of the Jesus book, I settle my issues of my integrity in the modern world.

2011 09 30. My job with Boyd ends. The money ran out. I have no other job, and prospects for getting a job in Auburn are very low. I am not discouraged or unhappy. We intend to stay here until Nit has put in her years for the Alabama retirement program and U.S. Social Security, about 2021.

2015. I finished a book on religious stances and major religions. This book ends my major writing about formal religion. It is available on my website.

2015 and following. Building on the first economics book, I intend to write three more short simple books on particular topics in economics. The research is largely done. I will put these on my website too.

2015 and following. I continue research in mathematics, sociobiology, physics, anthropology, and economics. I will write on economics, sociobiology, anthropology, and maybe math. I see no end to this process, nor do I want an end. This is great fun.