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The Tentacle

Tom McLaughlin

December 7, 2016
The Great White Hope’s Son-In-Law
Tom McLaughlin

The Great White Hope's transition team seems to defy his promises he made to his constituents. He appointed Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, an entrepreneur, a Wall Street investor and a Hollywood producer. Some might call him a Wall Street insider.

November 30, 2016
Lectures and Election Thoughts
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The election of the "Great White Hope" as president was a stunning surprise to everyone. It was about 3 p.m. here in Borneo when Hillary conceded, which made everything official.

November 23, 2016
Another Sticking Point…
Tom McLaughlin

Pontianak, Indonesia – I hate paying bribes. In this part of the world, extra money is expected, and we have to cough up, but Indonesia went beyond the pale this time.

November 16, 2016
A Smorgasbord: Cohen to Elections to Porcelain
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen is my favorite song. It was in my ‘20s and still is in my ‘60s. I like to listen to it while making love. It just brings something out in me in those intimate times.

November 9, 2016
A Day in the Life – with Great Hope
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Gosh, the weather is nice. It's cloudy and sunny most of the day allowing for temperatures only in the upper 80's. Really nice.

November 2, 2016
Misinformation Run Amok
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – We had one hell of brouhaha here. Let me start from the very beginning. The battle was over a dead guy named Ali, the companion to Alfred Wallace, who wrote the Law of Natural Selection along with Charles Darwin.

October 19, 2016
Dylan’s Prize Stirs Memories
Tom McLaughlin

I was stunned, really stunned when the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan. I didn't think those old fogeys had ever heard of the man.

October 12, 2016
Trump: The New Curse Word
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – The Trump catastrophe that embellished the nation over the weekend has run its course, and, hopefully, things have calmed down. The debate on Sunday was the usual encounter between the citizens and the candidates and nobody seemed to mention the controversy that exploded around the Republican presidential Contender.

September 28, 2016
Orangutan Birth Highlights A Problem
Tom McLaughlin

Semenggoh Wildlife Refuge, Malaysian Borneo – It is indeed an event when the wildlife center has new orangutan in the form a young baby born on Malaysia Day and my birthday, September 16.

September 21, 2016
My Obscure Journal Journey
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – After I had realized that I had made an important discovery, what happened to Ali, Alfred Wallace's companion, I decided to publish. The problem was, which obscure journal to choose. Most of these you have probably never heard of, but I was on a mission to let people know about the great event.

September 14, 2016
Unique Confirmation of Ali
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Lintang, Malaysian Borneo – We had to make certain that the pantun was real, independent of the Bomoh. To recap, an important clue had been the verses to a Malay poem (pantun) that had been handed down for generations.

September 7, 2016
Continuing the Search for Graves
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Area, Malaysian Borneo – Two weeks ago we found the grave of Ali Wallace, the sidekick to Alfred Wallace, who, along with Darwin, had announced the Theory of Evolution. It was a major find, but more work needed to be done.

August 24, 2016
At Last, Ali’s Grave
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Jaie, Malaysian Borneo – I was a bit frustrated trying to get to this kampung. The Bomoh told us he could not meet us until September. I said we were going without him.

August 17, 2016
Observing Beauty and School Selection
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The girls! Oh, good lord! The girls! About 50 of the most beautiful Swedish and Danish students have moved into my building for six months. They are here to take courses in management and engineering from a local University in some sort of exchange program.

August 10, 2016
Simple Mispronunciation Ends Long Search
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The hunt for Ali Wallace is over. I finally found him. It took nine years of searching, but the search ended a few days ago. Who is he?

August 3, 2016
A Proposal for The “Trump Barricade”
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – Suriani (my wife) and I watched the Republican and Democratic Conventions on CNN out of London. They started at about 6 a.m. here.

July 27, 2016
An Amazing Coincidence of History
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Bomoh, a Malay witch doctor we finally met, continued on with his conversation. You see, in his world, life is not linear.


July 20, 2016
Siti Sambas and Islamic Mysticism
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The mystical, the world between death and beyond, the metaphysical and the spirit world have all become part of the history I am trying to write about the Sarawak River Valley located on the island of Borneo. To travel here is to shake apart ones understanding of the world formed by a life time of scientific thinking.

July 6, 2016
Random Happenings I Can’t Change
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The weather sure has been crazy here in Borneo. It has been unseasonable cool with rain; and this is supposed to be the hot and dry season.

June 29, 2016
One Possible Scenario for Trump Presidency
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – There is land in the United States that is owned by the federal government. This land belongs to you and me. Some of the land is managed by the Park Service, like Assateague Island. This land belongs to you and me and stewarded by the Department of The Interior.

June 22, 2016
Blowing Up a Tradition
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – It has been unseasonably cool here for the past six weeks or so. The hot and dry days of June have been very wet with all day rains or heavy thunderstorms. Where we were supposed to only get a quick shower or two during the day, the skies have opened up. Really weird.

June 15, 2016
Ramadan Tradition in Borneo
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – It is Ramadan here, the fasting month. The mosque across the river is packed between 8 and 10 P.M. The call to prayers are louder and longer. They broadcast from loud speakers. There are about three of them and they all call differently, and beautifully.

June 8, 2016
Frustrating Long Hours Slip Away
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I decided to wipe out the genealogy project once and for all. I had let it linger for about 10 or 15 years or so coming back to it as the mood struck. It hadn't struck in a long while, more like it was just there.

May 25, 2016
Hidden Museum, Kris Showcase
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – We had another exciting weekend! The Friends of the Sarawak Museum (the state where I live) asked for volunteers to set up our collections and tell people about them. I suggested displaying our kris assortment. (A kris is a medium sized dagger, peculiar to the Malay world.)

May 18, 2016
The Thrill of Watching
Tom McLaughlin

"Tomorrow is Sports Day," my wife said on Saturday. "But he is only five years old," I countered. "Still, we have to go," she insisted. I almost said why, but I knew I was beaten. I would have to go.

May 11, 2016
Elections Here and There
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The elections here in Borneo are over. They were held on Saturday after 11 days of campaigning.


May 4, 2016
Father Berrigan – A Life Admired
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The war in Vietnam was a turning point for me during my junior year in high school. We were assigned to do a controversial topic for our speech class and, in a place where sentiment for the war was strong, I choose getting out of Vietnam. This was 1967.

April 27, 2016
Weather, Temples, Swimming and Cannon Fire
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The weather has been crazy! The peninsula (western shore to you Maryland Eastern Shoremen) has been suffering massive drought and high temperatures. Here in Kuching, it has been rainy and cool, not all day rains, but thunderstorms. It does keep us quite cool, well below 30 C (86 F). Nice.

April 20, 2016
Cleaning a Kris to Rejuvenate Its Spirit
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – For those who have not been following these columns, a kris is a dagger-like weapon used by the Malays. It is used in a thrusting motion for offense and defensive purposes.

April 13, 2016
Beads Touched by History
Tom McLaughlin