TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
Bangkok Thailand is a city of gleaming skyscrapers, elegant shopping centers and spectacular temples surrounded by vast areas teeming with those who have left somewhere else in hopes of somehow securing a better life. Many of these migrants or immigrants huddle in informal settlements of rude shelters mired in poverty often as great as that they have left behind. But they have two things going for them. One as old as ever in the hearts of migrants, hope. The other just as old, but requiring renewal wherever the poor and destitute gather, a sense of community.
The Good/Bad David’s 59th birthday was last week. He spent it being bad in Pattaya. He complained that next year he will be 60. I told him not to worry, 60 is the new 50. 70 I found out was the new 60. Alas, I also discovered that 73, however, is just the same as the old 73 — there are just more of us around.
Gary (Canadian hockey playing Gary, not not Pattaya, weight-lifting Gary) and his wife Pui who own a spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13, have given me a complementary pass for spa and massage services. This has made me very happy.
If you are in BKK Pookie says check it out.
SWAC is off to Italy for some reason. She plans to stay for a week. Harley H. Hayden will be spending most of that time with me when he is not spending it with someone else.
Harley H. Hayden’s BKK Gang.
LM had one last complementary movie ticket. Since we already have seen all the movies showing, we decided to see “The Sapphires” again. I wanted see if I could figure out what I really liked about the movie. Of course, any movie that has Chris O’Dowd playing Chris O’Dowd has to be great. Similarly, any film whose featured song is “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” cannot miss. I am still in love with Deborah Mailman. I cried some more. Maybe it was the music and the memories.
Dave (Chris O’Dowd) :
“Before we go than, girls when I met you were doing all country and western thing and that’s fine we all make mistakes. But here is what we learn from that mistake. Country and western music is about loss. Soul music is also about loss. But the difference is in country and western music, they’ve lost, they’ve given up and they are just all wining about it. In soul music they are struggling to get it back, they haven’t given up.”
If you do go to see it please let me know why you think I like the movie as much as I do. Also perhaps you can help me understand why I find a plain-looking slightly overweight 40 plus year old woman trying to persuade her audience that she is a 20 something singing star so desirable.
Today I went to Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s version of Central Park or Golden Gate park. For the major park in the city, it is a bit run down. I fed the fish stale bread I had lying around the apartment. The fish were large, voracious and in great numbers. They were not as large as the fish in the lake at the Dusit Zoo in BKK, some of those were four to five feet long. There were a few monitor lizards swimming about. Again they were not as large or as numerous as those in the lake at the Dusit zoo. We spent about a half hour pedaling a swan boat around the lake and then returned home. This visit made me happy too.
A Lumpen at Lumpini.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
Free at last:
At about the same time as the US Supreme Court handed down their decision allowing same-sex couples to get married, the highest court in China declared that mutual masturbation among consulting adults even if performed in exchange for money or other incentives, when not accompanied by direct penile to vaginal penetration (fingers, tongues and almost everything else one can think of is ok) is not prostitution as prohibited by Chinese criminal law.
(Well,… at long last a happy ending, but maybe not free…)
Speaking of the US Supreme Court:
A few days before their historic decision granting homosexuals the freedom to marry the person of their choice, the US Supreme Court took away the right of many black people to vote. So what this means is that now gays can join the Republican Party without shame while a lot of African-Americans…still cannot vote even if they are Republicans.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Note: the following continues my series about four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.
A. The New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):
6. Problems and insights.
c. Problems raised because they did not want MHIS there.
When something new is instituted there is a tendency among those supporting it to view those who may have opposed it as “enemies.” This applies more to Progressives than to conservatives, since the latter are not noted for proposing or supporting things that could be entitled “new.”
In the case of the MHIS, much of the opposition to its creation came from psychiatrists and hospital administrators. The former because they feared “second guessing” by lawyers of medical decisions and the latter for concerns about costs and administrative regularity. After the legislation was passed many of those hired to carry out the law continued to view them as the enemy.
When it comes to implementation of any program, I always believed that viewing any person or group as enemies was unproductive. I preferred to consider them resources.
In the case of the doctors, the literary image of them eager to imprison unwary patients was simplistic at best. Once persuaded that their fears that the patients would be agitated in ways that would disrupt their treatment and that I was not there to challenge their findings, they began to rationalize the patients will to be independent not only had legal implications but therapeutic as well they grudgingly began to support the program.
I spent a lot of my time right away with the doctors especially the department heads trying to understand their concerns and accommodate them where the patients legal rights would not be jeopardized.
Similarly I met with the hospital administrators, inquiring about their concerns and simplifying procedures. This seems an obvious approach, but most of the other district directors believed that a more adversarial posture with the “other side” as they described them was more protective of patient rights.
By the time I left, it was only in my area that the program had been fully integrated. More patient requested judicial hearings were held than in any other district. In addition, more patients were released and sent home. All with the active support of the hospital administrations.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Vivian: What will your first step be?
Philip Marlowe: The usual one.
Vivian: I didn’t know there was a usual one.
Philip Marlowe: Well sure there is, it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 of how to be a detective in 10 easy lessons correspondent school textbook and uh, your father offered me a drink.
Vivian: You must’ve read another one on how to be a comedian.
We drove to Crissy Field in silence, parked and bought some ice cream at the small restaurant and souvenir shop in one of the converted military buildings. We walked across the restored marsh on the little wooden bridge. In front of us was the Golden Gate, the bridge soaring over the strait to our right. Massive tankers and container ships lumber through flotillas of pleasure craft while wind and kite surfers dart among them seeking the strongest breezes streaming between the headlands.
It was a sunny summer day, breezy and cool. I leaned over the fence looking at the restored marsh, my back to the Bay. Joe faced the other way watching the joggers and walkers pass by on the path in front of him.
Joe broke the silence. “So boss, what do we do next? Why are we here?”
I asked, “When you look at this wetland here, what do you see?”
He turned around, looked at the restored marsh for a moment then said, “OK,… I see some water, a lot of mud, a few ugly ass birds and a bunch of sick looking weeds. Do I pass?”
“It’s not a test. Wetlands like this are very fertile, a lot of things come here to eat, breed and grow, even humans used to hang around here, indians. I agree with you its pretty ugly for something that is a nursery of life; the water is pretty stagnant, barely covering the land underneath and it smells. There’s mud everywhere and the “weeds” as you call them crowd the shore pressing against one another, until like bankers they greedily seek more nourishment then the environment can supply and they die and eventually their husks will fill the marsh and it will disappear. The whole place reeks of death, and yet it is one of nature’s wellsprings of life. Nature made a mistake. No clear running water, crashing waves, or handsome trees. But here is where it, life, begins and flourishes hand in hand with death.”
“That’s sort of interesting boss. Weird too. What does this have to do about anything. You know private detecting or the case– er, the assignment.”
“This is a fake marsh. It was built by some rich people to memorialize what was here before. Sort of like a statue of a general on a horse representing some dead guy. In this case it looks like the real thing and acts a lot alike the real thing. But everything else that was there, that was a part of it is gone, even the indians. We have something else here, a new reality as well as a memorial”
“Are you stoned? it sounds like you’re stoned Boss. Did Martin freak you out? I remember at the temple monks talking like that, a lot of shit that makes no sense. Are you buddhist?”
I chuckled, pushed myself away from the fence and began to walk back to the car. Joe followed.
“Did you notice in the movies I told you to watch everything took place over a couple of days, yet the movie only took 90 minutes or so. What do you think they were doing during all the other time. Living that’s what, eating, sleeping, jerking off, shitting and going back to their offices earning a living. That’s what they were doing.”
“So, what, were going back to the office? You don’t have one.”
“You’re right, sort of. I do not have any other assignments as well as no office. On this assignment there is nothing to do until this evening. In the meantime we eat ice cream and stare at a bunch of mud. If I were buddhist I’d meditate to pass the time.”
“Does this mean you’ve figured it all out, solved it?”
“There is nothing very much to solve here. Nothing much has happened. Sometimes, most times, on most assignments nothing happens. People just imagine things.”
“Is that another rule Boss?”
I ignored him and continued on. We had passed around the edge of the restored marsh.
Joe said, “I don’t understand. You say nothing happened. The Reilly guy is dead that’s something and Martin’s furniture is missing that’s something too. And what about the two fat guys. That sounds like a lot of something.”
I responded, “As far as Reilly is concerned, he could have had an accident and fallen into the bay, or if he killed himself it could have been for a reason that had nothing to do with our investigation. And if he was in fact murdered, Reilly was an asshole, a lot of people could have off’d him and I’m sure many have reasons to do so. We have nothing that indicates the failed business deal we are investigating has anything to do with it, except they sort of happened near to one another in time; the failure of the deal and his death. Interesting, curious perhaps but indicative of nothing. We, you, me and the others happened on the scene. Our ego’s want to make it all related. That makes good mystery novels but bad investigations.”
“Does this mean you are going to have me watch another prehistoric black and white movie?”
“No, it means we are going to visit a real private detective one with an office, a badge and who even carries a gun.”
Several times here in T&T and in some of my blog posts I argued that the modern financial system that first developed in the US and the north atlantic countries and has now spread throughout the world since 1980 has in fact limited the growth of world wealth rather than grown it as some of its supporters, such as that evil man Milton Friedman, predicted.
Brad DeLong has recently commented on the fact that in 1950 finance and insurance in the US accounted for less than 3% of GDP, but by 2011 accounts for almost 6% of GDP without measurable evidence that it has boosted growth by expected amounts.
Delong also pointed our a fundamental truth about the current financial system:
“There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money…”
“Over the past year and a half, in the wake of Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff’s estimate that 2% of U.S. GDP was wasted in the pointless hypertrophy of the financial sector, evidence that our modern financial system is less a device for efficiently sharing risk and more a device for separating rich people from their money–a Las Vegas without the glitz–has mounted.
Recently in revisiting this problem Delong wrote:
“…the events and economic research of the past years have demonstrated three things. First, modern finance is simply too powerful in its lobbying before legislatures and regulators for it to be possible to restrain its ability to create systemic macroeconomic risk while preserving its ability to entice customers with promises of safe, sophisticated money management. Second, the growth-financial deepening correlations on which I relied do indeed vanish when countries move beyond simple possession of a banking system, EFT, and a bond market into more sophisticated financial instruments. And, third, the social returns to the U.S.’s and the North Atlantic’s investment in finance as the industry of the future over the past generation has, largely, crapped out. A back-of-the-envelope calculation I did in 2007 suggested that in mergers and acquisitions the world paid finance roughly $800 billion/year for about $170 billion/year of real economic value–a rather low benefit-cost ratio–and that appears to be not the exception but the rule.”
In other words, as I never tire of repeating, in one form or another the depredations of the parasite community impoverishes us all.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
(I have no idea what this chart means except I am informed that it is something I should be upset about.)
B. André Malraux on the capture of the French Resistance leader Jean Moulin on June 21 1943:
21st June 1943: French resistance leader Jean Moulin captured: The Resistance was gaining in strength; fugitives from the forced labour draft would soon be taking to the maquis. The Gestapo was growing stronger too, and the Milice were everywhere. It was a time when, out in the countryside, we listened tensely to the barking of dogs in the depths of the night; a time when multi-coloured parachutes, laden with weapons and cigarettes, fell from the sky by the light of flares burning in forest clearings or on windswept plateaus; a time of cellars, and the desperate cries of the torture victims, their voices like those of children… The great battle in the darkness had begun.
On 27 May 1943, the first meeting of the National Council of the Resistance was held in Paris, in the rue du Four.
Jean Moulin restated the aims of Free France: “to prosecute the war; to restore freedom of expression to the French people; to re-establish republican freedoms in a state which incorporates social justice and which possesses a sense of greatness; to work with the Allies on establishing real international collaboration, both economic and social, in a world in which France has regained her prestige.”
Then he read out a message from General de Gaulle, assigning the first Council of the Resistance its primary goal: to maintain the unity of the Resistance it represented.
Each of its members went in daily peril of his life. On 9 June, General Delestraint, commander of the secret army, unified at last, was taken prisoner in Paris.
There was no obvious successor, as so often happens in the secret world. Before the arrival of Serreules, Jean Moulin said on many occasions, “Had I been captured, I would not even have had time to brief a deputy…”. He wanted the appointment of a successor to be made with the agreement of the Resistance movements, particularly those in the south. He was to meet their representatives on 21 June, in Caluire.
They were waiting for him.
So, too, was the Gestapo.
Treason played its part – as did destiny, which made the normally punctual Jean Moulin three quarters of an hour late, only to be matched by the tardiness of the German police. Soon enough, they learned that they had captured the head of the Resistance.
Little good it did them. In the Montluc fort in Lyons, on the day that the Gestapo agent handed him writing materials because torture had left him unable to speak, Jean Moulin sketched a caricature of his torturer. As for what followed, let us turn to the stark words of his sister: “His part was played, and his ordeal began. Jeered at, savagely beaten, his head bleeding, his internal organs ruptured, he attained the limits of human suffering without betraying a single secret, he who knew everything.”
Let us be quite clear that, for the days in which he was still able to speak or write, the fate of the whole Resistance hung on the courage of this one man. As Mademoiselle Moulin put it, he knew everything.
“…it fit like a metaphor.”
Bruen -The Dramatist