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23 May 2016


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Ralph Reed

Nukes give States a tremendous case of blue balls that motivate all sorts of overcompensation and strategic myopia. Dial-a-payload will help I'm sure.


Col Lang,

Yes, I am Vienamese, one of the boat people who got out of VN after 1975. I grew up in VN during the war but never was in the military. I came back a few times to visit, after US and VN had established diplomatic relationship.

IMO, everything you and A.I.Schmelzer said about Vietnamese culture and its people attitude about foreigners, and in particular, Chinese, are all generally accurate, except for a few subtle points regarding the true feeling of the "Kinh" towars the minorities or the mutual distrust among Vietnamese and Chinese . The Vietnamese people are generally ethnocentric, but don't hate or despise "the others". Except during war time, everything was in chaos, not what it seems to be. Certainly, I never heard or seen the kind of racism that to the degree of the KKK against the blacks, for example. Actually, the term "moi" was no longer used during the 70s, the more popular term was/is "đồng bào thượng". It litterally translates as: people who came from the same embryo and live in the highlands :) It came from Vietnamese mythology that all people who live in the land were born from the same mother. A few of my friends in school were from the tribes from the highland. That "moi" degatogary term was not used among the youths in VN back then in the 70s, ever.

I think you will be pleasantly surpirsed if you ever travel to the VN in present days. You'll be held in high esteem and feel welcome as a former Green Beret and an American. The youths in VN don't really know anything about the war, except for occasionally seeing or hearing a slogan.


My appology, Col Lang. You are right. I was not paying enough attention and have mixed them up.



You may be reacting to the statement about VN food that I put on my FB page yesterday. I loathe VN "cuisine" and always did. I have an aversion to nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce). I find the smell revolting especially when it is used in cooking. I lived in the little town of Song Be in Phuoc Long province for a year (1968-69), not in a compound but in a two story house out in the middle of the town. This town was surrounded in enemy controlled territory near the Cambodian border. To defend the house I had a guard force made up of former ARVN soldiers who were ethnic Chinese. These men had been wounded out of the ARVN but not so badly as to be unable to be good guards. they, too, disliked VN cooking and they cooked for me, my headquarters staff and themselves out in the back yard. It was Cantonese, quite delicious. One of the troops had been a restaurant chef before he was drafted into the ARVN.
So, we ate well. There was a US Army "Landing Zone" (base) about five miles away.. The US Army's field supply system pushes supplies including food to the front. it does not await demand. The infantry at LZ Buttons was in the field most of the time eating field rations and so the Class A ration food kept arriving by air and piling up in the troops' absence. I was asked by the logistics people at LZ Buttons to let them give me food before it reached it "eat by" date. So, every few days a truck delivered army rations to my door. Produce, eggs, fruit, canned meat like Pullman style hams. as I said we ate well. The CORDS advisory team at the other end of town had a mess and we ate there at times just to show we were part of the group but the enemy had the distressing habit of shelling the mess at meal times so it was always a bit of a gamble to go eat with them. I had to eat VN food if people invited me to their homes, but have gotten really sick doing that a couple of time. I got a really bad case of amoebic dysentery after a feast of duck blood gruel and boiled duck feet. You chew on them as though they are an ear of corn. I also acquired Hepatitis Type B that way. I was the head of the part of DIA that is in that funny looking building at Clarendon. On one occasion a couple of my people dragged me to one of those restaurants for lunch. As I sat staring morosely at a bowl of Pho in front of me, the proprietor came and sat next to me. after a few minutes, he said "you don't remember me, Thieu Ta?" (major) I said to him, "I did not, lieutenant, but I do now. I am glad you got out in one piece." It was a heartfelt reunion, but I still do not like the food. pl



I never met any Cham as they were mostly down around Nha Trang and I was stationed further north. But I saw much of their ancestral Champa culture near Hoi An and along the shores of the Song Thu Bon. I was fascinated.

BTW your name, mariner, is apt for one interested in the Cham people. Long before many of them fled upriver towards Cambodia from the Viets they were known as lords of the sea. The body of water now known as the South China Sea was once known as the Champa Sea. They ruled the Spratly Islands now claimed by China, and they had even colonized a small slice of Hainan. They were definitely not Montagnards, they were more like Vikings than mountain people.

The Champa maintained an independent kingdom in south Viet-Nam up until 1832. That dovetails with what I was taught years ago that much of what is Viet-Nam south of the 17th parallel has been Vietnamese for a shorter time than the eastern seaboard of the United States has been American.

and the TPP are unlikely to be enough to counter the PRC. A deeper, more beneficial economic relationship will be needed.

Uuuh... Eeeeh???
Do you mean the TPP is meant to be beneficial to the local economy and populations and as such an instrument for "countering" the PRC?
Could you elaborate?


KH -

Watch out for those spring rolls! I also came down with a severe case of amoebic dysentery when in country which I attributed to a Viet spring roll that I chanced when I got tired of the ham&lima c-rations. Probably not a factor in Virginia though. Eat hearty. Unlike the Colonel I love Viet pho noodles with fresh mint leaves and indulge every time I get to Seattle.

And nuoc mam isn't half bad if you can get by the smell. Didn't the old Romans also have a fish sauce, from which came Worcestershire sauce in old England?

different clue


I read the old Roman fish sauce was called garum.


Babak Makkinejad

There is a story by Stansilaw Lem in which the leaders of a planet were trying to evolve a race of amphibian people. To that end, the entire planet had been flooded and people lived their lives half submerged in the water so as to develop into amphibians.

The depth of the water varied based on the prevailing policies at the center; at times water reaching up to their air holes and other times only to their chins.

On one occasion, when the leaders reduced water levels, the local functionary praised it and stated that he was never a firm believer in the possibility of evolving amphibian people in that manner.

The next change in direction from the "Centre", raised the water levels and the poor functionary disappeared.

Keith Harbaugh

Did you ever try the Cuban restaurant down on the plaza :-)
I was surprised that the building management (whoever that was; I don't know who it was) let such an obvious security risk occur.
It's really hard for people to avoid shop talk over lunch, especially if the lunch is lubricated.
As they said in WWII, "The walls have ears."


different clue -

thanks. my favorite aunt Rose, whose parents immigrated from southern Italy used to make a special spaghetti dish with a sauce made from garlic, olive oil, and anchovy paste. No tomato sauce, no cream. She only made it a couple of times a year or else her daughters, my cousins, threatened to leave home.


In Binh Dinh Province 1970 I remember eating meat(viand!), and bamboo shoots, rolled into a translucent leaf and dipped in nuoc maum. Smelled awful but didn't taste that bad. When I was in Saigon it seemed like the whole city smelled like nuoc maum.
Also back to "moi", I remember hearing someone refer to a baby with an american father as "mai". Same same as "moi"?


Dick T Well, good for you! You survived the experience. How long were you in the military, three years? I ate local chow for 29 years so don't get up on your high horse with me! "I went there and ate everything!" Well good, fathead! More pretentious BS from civilians! In Yemen an American major who had never eaten local food in his life told me he was going to a village for a wedding party. I advised him not to do it. He very nearly died and I had to arrange a USAF medivac to Germany. He was so f-----d up that he was retired from the army. pl



That sounds delicious. Do you have the recipe? pl


You're correct. 3 years 10 months 13 days.

different clue


I had never thought of such a thing for spaghetti. Sometimes when I am feeling energetic and diligent enough, I will make a salad for myself with a dressing based on lemon juice/olive oil/ garlic/ anchovy paste mash-mixed in. Also a small fine-grated onion and some mixed pre-grated parmesan-romano cheese. I spice with a heavy foot, I guess . . .

But anchovy paste is not a fermented product, so far as I know. So nuoc mam or indeed garum itself would be a far further step.


Dick T

"Thank you for your service." pl


MIke - the Cham are malayo-polynesians, great navigators. Prior to the European voyages of discovery these people had successfully sailed from their home seas as far as Madagascar (where the people speak a malay language) and Hawawii and Easter Island and probably North and South America. (Peruvian "native" chickens are genetically polynesian). Peopled the islands of the Pacific.

The Sunda Sea was once dry land, flooded out when sea levels rose when the great continental glaciers melted ~8 - 6 thousand BC. I think this set them in motion. Much as the peoples who once lived in now drowned shallow seas: the Black Sea basin, the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and in DOggerland (the land that once connected Britain and the Continent) were similarly flooded out.IMHO this is what set the Indo-european migrations in motion.

Fascinating thread - many thanks to all for sharing your knowledge, and Colonel, for maintaining the space and moderating the discourse.


Dick T

Sorry to have been such a shit. Please put it down to a cranky old man who is not feeling good. pl


Colonel -

I do not have my Aunt Rose's recipe, may she rest in peace. Her youngest daughter said her mom never wrote them down. But she thinks this internet recipe is probably closest except her mom mashed up all the anchovies in the sauce.


WARNING - unless both you and SWMBO indulge in this dish, keep your distance from her for awhile. Last time I indulged my bride slept in the guest bedroom.


divadab -

I always believed that Thor Heyerdahl had it backwards. I read his book KonTiki in the fifties when it was first translated. It seemed to me even then that he should have started the expedition in Tuamotu and sailed east.

J A Connor

Interesting comments, but I am still wondering about the central thesis of the Colonel's comments above. Are the VN to be our dictators of choice? The war may have been an exercise in naiveté, but there were underlying issue of real consequence.


mike - agreed. Heyerdahl had the gumption to do experimental archaeology but his ideas about egyptians and incas were pretty silly.

No doubt of this though - our ancient neanderthal ancestors sailed to Crete in boats of some kind - they got there by 170 bc. IMHO archaeologists really miss the role of sea and river navigation in human history.


My post was lame. Your comments made me feel young again. Haven't been chewed out by a colonel in almost 50 years..

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