This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Shadow 0003 (June 22, 2014)

 

“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.

Symmetry is a beautiful thing.”
Giufa

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOAN JACKSON

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

1. Last days at Paradise by the Sea:

On the border between “Paradise by the Sea” and “The Outskirts of Hell” there stood an isolated building among some empty lots. On the side of the building there was a sign affixed that read, “Heaven.” It was the day before I was to leave Paradise by the Sea and return to Bangkok. The Good/Bad David had brought me there. The entrance to Heaven wound through a dark passageway containing large vases with slightly wilting flowers. Gold drapes hung on the wall. It looked like the entrance to a mortuary. I guess that could be considered fitting.

Once inside the place was much more plush. It appeared a lot like a 1960’s piano bar in Las Vegas. I liked it. It was a vast improvement over my image of what Heaven would be like.

We were led by the hostess to a small dark room at back of the building in the center of which stood a solid black oval table.

Now some of you may recall that a few years ago I published, for your enjoyment, a few stories supposedly written by Giufa that sad-faced reprobate and chronicler of the “Forlorn Order of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table” (FOGNOT). The stories focused on the adventures of five Geriatric Knights who assembled in a place called The Kennel (where old dogs go to die) around another oval table, that one made of faux marble and gilt . I will not describe here what occurred that afternoon in Heaven around the coal-black oval table. I leave that job instead to the cynical, licentious and wholly untrustworthy Giufa, should he ever get around to it.
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Baba Giufa as a child.

I shall only add that about six hours later the Good/Bad David, Peter a man who I had been told dealt in precious metals and I left Heaven. The three of us climbed into a tricked-out, four door, short bed, pick-up truck. They drove me back to my hotel where I immediately fell asleep. The next day after a pleasant lunch with David and his friends, I boarded a bus and returned to Bangkok.

2. Back in Bangkok:

a. Monsoons:

The monsoon season in South Asia officially began on June 1. Since then angry clouds have filled the Bangkok skies. Very little rain has fallen in the city, generally only enough to make the already dangerous sidewalks slimy and slippery. With the blooming of el Nino in the Pacific this summer, chances are South Asia and Southeast Asia will experience a relatively dry year. On the other hand, Southern California should be wetter than it has been these last few years. Oh, the price of anchovies and sardines probably will rise also.

b. Pookie has a night out:

Having had it spending my afternoons and evenings in my apartment because of the curfew and the skies threatening rain that rarely comes, I decided to treat myself to a night out on the town. For me a night of the town has become simply finding a place to nurse a beer and watch the goings on. So one night I put on a clean shirt and stepped out from my building into the steaming hot air of BKK.

I ate dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, an open front place that takes up the bottom floor of a cheap rooming house on Soi Nana. There I ordered my usual sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice and a coke from the six-foot tall ladyboy who looked like an NFL linebacker with boobs and a cute pink bow in his hair. I watched an American movie on the overhead TV while I ate.

After dinner I walked up Soi Nana searching for a bar in which I could enjoy my beer. Now for those who have not been there, bars along Soi Nana are for the most part open front affairs with young women outside calling out to you to join them just like the sirens called out to Ulysses. But this old sea dog ignored them because he had his sights set on the bright lights of Nana Plaza.

Nana Plaza bills itself as the World’s Largest Adult Playground. It is situated only a few blocks from my apartment. Although for reasons of age, fear of STD and a general aversion to the hard sell I do not avail myself of the services offered at many of the establishments, nevertheless now and then I like to sit at one of the bars with my beer and watch.

Nana Plaza itself is a three-story or so U-shaped building with a large open space in the center. The building houses a number of Go-Go bars, Lady Boy bars and Beauty Salons to service the performers. In the center open area are a number of regular bars open to the sky.

I sat in one of them bought a beer and paid the hostess to not sit with me and try to cage drinks. The sounds of the music coming from the venues and the exuberance of the neon lights makes everyone feel a bit jittery, like they just snorted some cocaine. I sat there nursed my beer and observed.

The women and barkers standing outside the venues desperately attempted to entice each passersby to enter their place. The Ladyboys being men despite the makeup and potential genetic quirks, were more physically aggressive, sometimes surrounding the tourist like a pack of wolves. In one case even demonstrating specifically what she had to offer.

After I finished my beer, I walked home feeling had accomplished something.
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Nana Plaza at night
C. Massage:

A few days ago the Little Masseuse invited me to join her in getting a foot massage at a place she liked.

Contrary to what some may believe not every massage parlor in Thailand is a front for prostitution. Massage is a national pastime in Thailand. I have been in small villages in the country where it seemed like everyone was massaging everyone else, sort of like a band of simians removing lice from one another’s fur.

Thai massage itself is based on pressure points and a little rapid stretching of certain muscles and tendons. For the most part it was developed in the county’s temples, especially Wat Po adjacent to the Royal Palace. Students still go there for instruction.

Most legitimate massage establishments offer Thai massage, a deep tissue rubbing massage, foot massages (reflexology) and a few specialties like facial massages and the like. Often the place will offer only Thai massage or only foot massages.

Most of the illegal (prostitution is illegal in Thailand in order to augment police salaries) sexual oriented massage parlors are located around the various tourist areas of larger cities or at resort areas.

One can figure out if it is a legitimate if:

1. it is located outside of a tourist area,
2. It looks down scale
3. the posted prices are cheaper
4. the women and men offering the massages are older and do not look like fashion models between gigs.

If you are still uncertain, ask a Thai woman you can trust (one that is not receiving a kickback from the massage parlor). For most of the women I know, the massage is the thing. Anything else is purely incidental. If you ask a man however, it’s all in the incidentals.

One of the best massages I ever experienced was in Hat Yai. The King of Thailand had set up a program for blind people to learn massage. At the place in Hat Yai, both men had been blinded in acid attacks. A sighted women in the shop acted as cashier and assisted the masseur in locating the supplies they needed. It was obvious that the masseur had studied more that simple Thai massage, perhaps even formal anatomy. He played the muscles in my body like Ray Charles played the piano.

The massage parlor the Little Masseuse and I were going to was located just off Soi 19 behind Terminal 21. It was situated above a place called Mama’s Pizza just across the street from Mama’s Taqueria. (I do not know if there is a Mama’s Pad Thai, or Schnitzel or Borscht in Bangkok, but I have not been everywhere yet. Come to think of it, a fast food place called Mama’s Pad Thai, Schnitzel and Borscht would probably cause quite a stir in the culinary world).

Anyway we climbed up three flights on a rickety outdoor stairway to the small shop. It provided only foot massages at $4 an hour, a price considerably cheaper than most other places in the area. There were about 15 or so young men and a few women masseuses and 10 overstuffed chairs and ottomans. The massages were very good.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Human trafficking:

The english language newspapers in Bangkok were all aflutter over the report that the US had ranked Thailand among the worst countries for human trafficking. The responses from Thai government spokesmen ranged from outright denial that the problem exists to shock that the US would criticize an ally.

Human trafficking may actually be the worlds oldest profession. A recent study maintained that humans (usually children) were used as one of the systems of account for debt before the invention of coinage. Failure to timely repay the loan would force the pledged child into bondage.

Two personal stories:

How it was in Issan

When she was about 13 years old a woman doctor showed up at the home of the Little Masseuse in rural Thailand. The doctor purchased her from her parents to work in the Doctor’s infirmary in BKK cleaning the instruments and the office. She was given a bed in a tiny room to sleep in. After about two years the inevitable happened. LM was asleep in her room when she was awakened by someone rubbing her body. The Doctor’s husband had crawled into the bed with her. She screamed and cried and woke up everyone in the house. The next morning the Doctor told her that the would have to leave that day and return to her family in Issan.

How it was in Sicily

When she was 7 years old my mother’s father died leaving her and her three older siblings orphans and a significant estate. The oldest child was only 16 and a woman so it was felt that it was not appropriate for her to manage the estate. Her bachelor uncle stepped forward and agreed to marry her promising to take care of the three younger children. On almost the day after the wedding the uncle placed the three children on a boat to America having sold them to three families in the US to work as domestic help. My mother spent the next few years chained to her bed at night so she could not run away until her older brother reached eighteen left his keeper and took my mom and her sister to live with him.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Around 600 BC: The scribes assembling the Hebrew Bible included the Law of Jubilee in Leviticus. The law stipulated that all debts would be automatically cancelled “in the Sabbath year” (that is, after seven years had passed), and that all who languished in bondage owing to such debts would be released.

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.”
Leviticus 25:8-13

I think forgiving all debts every seven years is a great idea. It is strange that there are those who claim the Leviticus’ supposed prohibition of homosexuality is the unchanging word of God, yet the forgiveness of all debts every seven years somehow is no longer applicable. Who is it that decides what God really meant and when he was only kidding?

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

They want a capitalism with the simple balance that, The Father of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Adam Smith indicated was required for it to work. For example:

“Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate… It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms….

by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”

And:

“In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest.

Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”

On regulations:

”When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

On fairness:

“The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than that proportion.”

Finally denouncing vast differences in wealth and income, Smith praised a fellow economist’s tax proposal:

“To remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.”

It has always been a wonder to me why those who praise Capitalism so highly, hate it so much.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
m-emotional
My initial feeling is that somehow the colors are reversed.

 
GOODNIGHT AGENT 355 WHOEVER YOU WERE——

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 JoJo 0003 (May 25, 2014)

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others….”
Groucho Marx

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA

 

 
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. Still in America

Before leaving for Thailand, Bill Geyer and I attended a memorial in Sacramento for John Zierold. Beginning in the late 1960’s he was the Sierra Club lobbyist in the California State Capitol for many years . He also founded the Planning and Conservation League.

The years Zierold prowled the halls of the State Capitol were remarkable for the volume of environmental laws that passed out of the Legislature: CEQA, BCDC, The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, The California Coastal Act, The California Coastal Conservancy, The Tahoe Conservancy, The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and many others including billions of dollars in bond acts to preserve a lot of California’s majestic and not so majestic landscape .

Attending the memorial were many of the now aging players in the political battles during those years, most quite a bit fatter and a few like Bill Yeates and Bill Geyer a lot thinner. Attending were: Bill Kier, head or the Senate Office of Research (Bill was there during the early part of Jerry Brown’s first administration when we were having trouble finding a suitable candidate for the head of the Department of Forestry and Jerry suddenly blurted out, “Indians! Find me an Indian. They know all about the woods.”); Charlie Warren, the ex-Assemblyman who co-authored the Coastal Act; Joe Edmiston the first and still reigning Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; Gene Varininni, Energy Commission Commissioner; Dan Richards, one of my successors as Chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority; Bill Yeates who after working with me became one of the leading environmental advocates in Sacramento and many others including of course Stevie and Norbert.

The speeches, including mine, were mostly the rambling reminisces of old men. Women had generally not yet broken through the glass ceiling in enough numbers to join in the running of the bulls.

A few days later I had lunch with Bill Yeates at an excellent “slow food” pizzeria. I talked far too much.
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2. “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward,”

Now some may wonder (as I do) why, given the recent imposition of martial law in Thailand, I would choose to go there now. One reason is my tickets are non refundable. Another, although less compelling, is that I have been through civil disturbances like this many times before.

In 1964 or so, during the Harlem riots, I spent them standing at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in front of the Legal Aid office at which I worked watching the battle wax and wane in front of me. Across Lexington stood the hotel where Fidel Castro famously roasted chickens in the hallway. In that same hotel, as I was observing the fortunes of those who would soon be clients, a reporter who later won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the riots sat typing away. Later I got to know and detest that reporter. Still later it was discovered that he was so terrorized by the thought of being injured in the riots that he refused to leave his room or even look out the window and made up everything that appeared in his prize-winning reports.

A few years later in Rome during the student rebellion, I stood among a crowd in front of a university building and watched the protestors defenestrate an opponent who splattered on the cement a few feet from where I was standing.

About a year later, still in Rome, I attended a Fascist protest in Piazza Venezia during which the leader of the protest was crushed beneath the wheels of an army jeep – again a few feet from where I was standing. At another protest (Communist this time) I was caught by a squad of police with raised truncheons and saved myself by shouting “Don’t hurt me, I’m Canadian.”

And of course I participated in the mandatory anti-Vietnam War riots and protests in SF as well as attending various previous coups and protests in Thailand.

What I have learned from all this is that most riots and similar disturbances are localized for the convenience of the media and one must intend to go there to put oneself in harm’s way. Accidents may always happen but danger is something someone generally chooses to risk.
****************************************

3. Flight

The flight to Thailand was uneventful. The plane was not crowded. I was able to scare off a young woman who was eyeing the same row of empty seats that I was. That allowed me to stretch out and sleep in relative comfort except for the sound of retching from the woman across the aisle who vomited every hour or so and for the gentleman in the row in front of me who seemed to suffer an excess of intestinal gas.

There were only three westerners on the last leg of the trip into BKK. Passport control was almost empty.
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3. Ah, Thailand

By the time I arrived in Thailand, the martial law that had been announced just before I left had graduated to a full coup. A curfew had been imposed that upset both the owners and workers in the city’s bars and nightclubs and their mostly western (farang) customers. Television had been shut down except for the occasional appearance of a photogenic young military man describing the wonderful things being done by the military. A single very bad but very popular soap opera was permitted to be shown in the evening so that the people would have something to do during curfew.

The traffic was wonderfully light, mostly empty taxis and busses. I did not notice the presence of any military in my neighborhood.

In the afternoon I accompanied the Little Masseuse to a shopping center to buy some pillows. She explained to me that she had placed the pillows on the balcony to air out and the wind from a sudden storm blew them off the balcony and into the piles of dog shit that fill the alley between my building and the next. At first I did not believe her. However, I could not come up with a more rational story to account for the disappearance of the pillows. Apparently that same storm also took my underwear into the dog shit along with the pillows.

By the time we arrived at the department store my foot had swollen up like a week old rancid sausage. I could not remember if my doctor’s instructions were that I should go directly to the emergency room in that case or not. I decided not. So, I sat at a table by the food court with a coke while LM set about searching for suitable pillows. As I sat there, I occupied myself with trying to draw sensible generalizations from my observation of the people who passed by. The following is a bit of what I concluded while I sat there:

Farang men wear shorts more than Asians. On the whole, men were color blind except for gay guys. Perhaps it would benefit all men to spend a night or two on the wild side. They would probably dress better. Women on the other hand did not appear color blind. The ladies of the demimonde who paraded by wore pants so tight they appeared painted on or dresses short enough to expose their labia majora. At my age of course I am permitted observe such things without the hint of prurience.

Two low riders passed by with pants hitched somewhere about their knees, their tee-shirt draped down to cover most of the rest of their body. It is a style that I find difficult to understand. Of course from a line standpoint it is simply another version of south asian pantaloons with a straight line rather than the puffy one affected by the maharajas. The low rider style seems quite puritan. After all, although their pants are worn with the waist dropped close to the floor, like those of an over excited lover, the overall look still carefully hides any hint of the human body beneath the costume. (The daintily exposed upper buttocks and crack sported by amorous plumbers on the other hand could be considered quite racy)

What really “grinds my gears” are the two greatest disasters in men’s fashions in the last century John Kennedy’s refusal to wear a hat (may he roast in hell for it) thereby encouraging weak-willed men to go hatless except for that abortion, the baseball cap. I don’t care where you put the bill it still looks like crap. The second disaster was the creation of business casual by removing the only item of color in a mans outfit, the tie. I have heard tell by those who favored the style that ties were too restricting. I ask, was it that or was it that those saying this did not want to admit they were getting fatter?

As for women’s fashion, I like things cut on the diagonal. That is, a diagonal slash across the vertical line of the body. However that double bias cut on the bottom of some modern women’s dresses leaving two bits of fabric floating to the side like upside down wings and an inverted V pointing to their vagina is the greatest fashion mistake since the bustle.

I could go on about this and other things I thought about while I sat there but my foot began to feel better and LM returned with the pillows so we left, took a motor bike taxi and returned to my apartment.
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Back at the apartment LM showed me the results of her knitting during the time that I was away. Instead of wool scarves that have no use in tropical Thailand and which I buy from her as presents for my nearest and dearest in the US, she has knitted a bagfull of wool winter caps. They are quite colorful, some with pompoms on the top and some that did not get the shape of the head quite right and so they fetchingly flop over a bit. For those who received the scarves from me as presents in the past, beware, here come the caps.
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The next day I went swimming at the health club and then had a two-hour massage (the price has doubled to $20). Talked a while to Gary II (Canadian Gary not Chiang Mai Gary) who was working remodeling his hair salon and who was pissed because had to cancel his hockey game (yes there is hockey in BKK) because of the curfew.
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I learned that the Good/Bad David had suffered a crushed disk in his back and spent two weeks in the hospital. He is recuperating in Pattaya.
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There still has been no evidence of the military anywhere although the newspapers are reporting they have a new plan for governing the nation that will do away with the necessity of voting.
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B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

About 20% of the population, more or less, are what is referred to as vivid dreamers, those who know that they are dreaming and to some extent can control the content and length of their dreams. Many vivid dreamers also are able to recall their dreams faithfully for some time after. In my case some dreams become so imbedded in my memory that I can no longer distinguish them from real memories unless something focusses my attention on the unreality of my dream memory.

I have had such a dream memory of Malibu. Why Malibu, I ask myself? After all Malibu is nothing more than a rather ugly shrub choked semi-desert at the edge or the ocean. The people who live there I find are some of the most disagreeable, nasty, self-righteous people on the planet. For the most part they live there only because other wealthy people live there.

I once had a developer friend who told me, “my pappy told me always to sell to the rich. They will spend any amount of money to live next to one another.” Alas, my friend forgot his pappy’s direction, bought a savings and loan and promptly went bankrupt.

Anyway my dream, which I will relate in the next issue of T&T, is unusual in that I learn in the dream itself that my dream Malibu was a fantasy.
(to be continued)

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

As you know, I like to include items written by my T&T correspondents whenever I can. Here is something I found on Cort’s Facebook page that has an interesting take on Lee Harvey Oswald:

“Best book I read on the JFK assassination: Case Closed by Gerald Posner. It has some material on my parent’s accountant, George Bouhe, who I knew well. He was Russian and helped Russian immigrants. He knew LHO well and tried to persuade Marina to leave. According to Bouhe, and almost everyone else who knew LHO, including a psychiatrist who interviewed him at age 13, LHO was a dangerous, narcissistic, raving homicidal maniac. The book is well researched and written.”
Cort Holland

Pookie says, “check it out.”

 

 
DAILY FACTOIDS:

May 31, 2014, the 13th annual Masturbate-a-Thon will be held in San Francisco to celebrate the end of this year’s International Masturbation Month.

1980-1988: When Ronald Reagan took office, U.S. debt was under $1 trillion. After he left eight years later, debt was $2.6 trillion and the U.S. had moved from being the world’s largest international creditor to the world’s largest debtor nation.

 

 
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” was all about and what it really wanted:

It wanted society to avoid what Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations and the justly acclaimed Father of Capitalism warned against:

“But what all the violence of the feudal institutions could never have effected, the silent and insensible operation of foreign commerce and manufactures gradually brought about. These gradually furnished the great proprietors with something for which they could exchange the whole surplus produce of their lands, and which they could consume themselves without sharing it either with tenants or retainers. All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as they could find a method of consuming the whole value of their rents themselves, they had no disposition to share them with any other persons.”

Note: This quote isn’t from some Marxist manifesto. It’s from Book 3 of The Wealth of Nations. Smith denounces the rentier economy represented by large landowners in those days. Owners of financial debt instruments embody those rentiers today.

 

 
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The love of possessions is a disease with them. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbours away. If (North) America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough; the Indian would still have been dispossessed.”
Chief Sitting Bull

 

 
TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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I Love Trees but I Never Hug Them

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Capt. Coast 0002 (May 12, 2014)

“In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.”
Terry Pratchett

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE DREAPER

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE VISITS THE STATE CAPITOL:

1. A walk in the park:

A few days ago the car needed to be serviced. After dropping off the automobile, Dick drove me to Sacramento where I waited for the repair shop to complete the repairs.

He left me by the Capitol. After some coffee at a café with tattooed lady baristas, I walked into Capitol Park located directly behind the Capitol building. I love Capitol Park. It is one of my favorite urban parks. Although smaller than Central Park or Golden Gate Park, I find that I enjoy my time there as much as I do in those larger parks. Basically it is a large arboretum with hundreds of fully mature trees from all over the world. I wandered around for an hour or so contemplating each tree and reading the little information plaque identifying its species and common name. It is a little known fact that there are three or so redwood trees in the park that were grown from seedlings that traveled to the moon on one of the Apollo missions. They are referred to as the “Moon Trees.” For years their location was a secret in order to forestall eager collectors from removing the trees until they got big enough to fend for themselves.

Another thing I enjoy there is visiting the small memorials to various wars and other things nestled among the trees. They’re a lot more humble than the garish marble mausoleums demanding our worship that abound Washington DC.

2. BT and me:

While walking I came upon a plaque dedicated to BT Collins embedded in the concrete in front of a bench. I sat down on that bench to reminisce.

For those who did not know him, BT lost an arm and a leg leading a Guerrilla team in the early days of the Viet Nam War when we were still assisting the South Vietnamese government defend itself before deciding to take over the entire war. He returned, was fitted with prothesis’ attended Santa Clara Law School and was working in the first Jerry Brown administration in the Governor’s office when I met him. Ultimately he served in many capacities in State government most often as the person who actually got things done. He was outrageous in word and deed. While Director of the State’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the controversy over aerial spraying of pesticides to combat a fruit fly invasion, in order to prove its safety he famously drank a glass of the pesticide in front of reporters.

One day while sitting in a bar with BT and getting seriously drunk, we, as drunks often do, became sloppily nostalgic about our past lives. We traced our paths from those adjacent bar stools back to NY, to Westchester County, to Stepinac High School and into the same classroom. Until that point neither of us and recognized the other as having known each other previously. He sat in the back of that classroom at one side among the Irish toughs and I sat on the other side of the back row among the Italian thugs.

Every year while I was working in Sacramento he and I would collaborate on a bill to reform portions of the Civil Service law. We would appear together before the appropriate legislative committee each year and never receive a single vote in favor of our proposal.

A life-long Republican, he could teach many so-called liberals about compassion for the underdog.

Rock on BT….

3. I know a Reuben when I see one:

At about lunch time I sat at some outdoor tables on L Street directly across from an entrance to the Capitol. I thought that as the people in the Capitol left for lunch I would recognize some and perhaps have lunch with them and talk of old times. I recognized no one and no one recognized me.

I then tried to guess which of the people walking by was a legislator. I identified one by the sneer he wore on his face when he thought no one was looking at him.

I ordered a Reuben sandwich for lunch that turned out to be fried chicken.

IMG_20140506_122920_854_2
A Selfie of Pookie at the Capitol

4. On monuments and things:

In the afternoon I resumed my walk through Capitol Park. I sat for a while at one of my favorite monuments dedicated to those that served in WWII. The monument itself is an elongated pyramid with a broken top and a crack down the middle. Its smooth facades are imprinted with actual photographs of scenes from the war that appear like ghosts emerging from the mists of time.

World War II I consider one of this nation’s three “good” wars.The other two were the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. For whatever other objectives one can also ascribe to these wars, a major purpose of each was to establish a transcendental ideal of freedom.

The Revolutionary War was fought to free the nation from government by hereditary wealth and power by those who controlled the nations resources. The sons and daughters of the homicidal maniacs who established the dynasties managed one of the greatest PR coups of all time by persuading everyone to refer to them as “Nobles.”

The Civil War engaged in an effort to end that pernicious institutional representation of the concept that human beings were merely economic objects that could be bought and sold at will.

In World War II the allied nations took up arms against the ideology that humanity can be divided into classes in which some enjoy the full rights of citizenship and respect and others were not quite human and so forfeited their rights even to their own lives solely because of the accident of their birth or the nature of their beliefs.

Of course these wars against those three curses of humanity: Government by inherited wealth; Monetizing a person’s value and; Classification of groups of people where some groups enjoy fewer rights, including the right to live (racism is but one aspect of this) did not end those scourges. They only addressed the clear and present danger presented by those institutions that promoted or represented them. The scourges are always with us only their names change over time. They always change their names.

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The World War II Memorial in Capitol Park

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS (Continued):

I called someone over to run and find one of the paramedics that worked in the village. We bundled the injured child into an old Land Rover and drove him to the hospital.

The hospital located about 10 miles away on the other side of the valley was quite new and surrounded by a small town. I assumed the town was peopled by medical personnel who worked at the hospital and those who worked in the preserve but were unwilling to live the spartan lifestyle enforced by Mama in the village.

Tre, Yu and I sat outside the emergency room waiting. Mama arrived a few minutes later and waited silently with us.

The child, all bandaged up and still unconscious was placed in a hospital room after emerging from the emergency ward. There we spent the night. Tre, Yu and I alternately napping and talking quietly among ourselves. Mama sat in a chair rigid and silent, never moving her eyes from the child as though she was willing him to recover. Recover he did and we all returned to our various duties.

Following this I learned that the preserve had been under political, economic and physical assault for many months. Terrorists, resource extraction organizations and the like all hungered for access to the reserve and its resources.

It was a though having fouled every place else (their own nests so to speak) they now ravenously looked at this unspoiled place like the rapist observing his next victim.

Many preserve workers had been injured and some killed. On one of my visits another child had been attacked and Mama and I spent another sleepless night at the hospital.

I noticed on each of my visits the stress on her exacted a greater and greater physical toll. Then on day when I returned to the village I learned that she had been taken to the hospital. I rushed there and into her room. She was lying in bed. He body was horribly shriveled. Her skin had lost its luster and appeared dry and brittle like a piece of cardboard.

I stayed there with her day and night. She still ran the preserve from her bed. She continued to decline. Finally I told her that I had some experience it managing organizations like the Preserve and I would be happy to do so until she got better. She said, “No, this is my life, my world. Your life is somewhere else.” I woke up back in my bed. I knew she had died.

I returned to the village two more times after that to visit with my friends. But, the colors of the place seemed washed out and I had trouble holding on to the dream for more than a few moments. Eventually I stopped going there.

Since then every once in a while in that period between sleep and wakefulness the image of us in the hut, or on the rock outcropping or even in the hospital hovers for a while before disappearing. It comforts me knowing that this is not a dream but a memory. END.

C. ABOUT PEIG, A BOOK REPORT:

“I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge. I have experienced much ease and much hardship from the day I was born until this very day. Had I known in advance half, or even one-third, of what the future had in store for me, my heart wouldn’t have been as gay or as courageous it was in the beginning of my days.”
Peig Sayers, Peig,

Peig Sayers’, Peig, is considered one of the classics of Gaelic literature as well as all literature. She lived much of her life on Great Blasket Island off the Western Coast of Ireland. The island at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula is bleak and barren. It housed between 100 to 150 souls until in the 1940’s the Irish Government in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility removed the remaining twenty-two of them and resettled them in other parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the islanders objected to the relocation.

Peig was an old woman when approached by a representative of the Irish Folklore Commission and asked to write the story of her life on that forlorn island.
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Peig in her cottage

40 years ago I travelled to Blasket. I was ferried there from the mainland in one of those tar covered little leather boats that used to be common in the western part of the country.
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Drying the boats

I met the ferry-man in the pub that stands on the bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and persuaded him (for a few dollars) to row me there. There is a regular motor ferry now.

Although the passage between the islands is no more than a couple of miles wide, it was too stormy and impassable during much of the year for the small traditional row boats available at the time the island was inhabited. So, the residents of Blasket were often marooned and had to live exclusively on what they could glean on the island.

The tiny village on the lee of the island lay in ruins and deserted. I climbed through the ruins and into Peig’s cottage. It was little more than rocks piled on one another for walls with more rocks to make the roof (I understand it has been made into lodging for a small hostel now). Peig’s home contained a single room in which she spent most of her life.
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Peig’s cottage today

Beyond the village exposed to the fierce winds off the Atlantic the rest of the island was covered in a thick mat of furze, Irish gorse and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath much of it. When I walked on it it supported my weight. It felt as though I was walking on a springy mattress. There were no trees or bushes. I climbed part way down the cliffs on the island’s north side where the residents would scramble down to pilfer the eggs of the shore birds that nested there. I did not go further than perhaps 10 feet or so because the cliff quickly became much steeper. It was on those steep cliffs according to Peig that several of Blasket’s citizens met their death trying to secure enough food to carry them through the winter storms.

As hard as life was on Blasket, during the Irish persecutions and famines several mainland families settled on the island, “Because life was better there.”

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Blasket was that Peig was not the only one from there who wrote a Gaelic literary classic. Two others, Twenty Years a Growing and The Islandman, were written by Blasket natives also.

How hard was life on Blasket? Tomas O’Crohan in The Islandman wrote the following about his children:

“Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help us! The very first of them that we christened was only seven or eight years old when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they went as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to save the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me. Before long I lost him, too.”

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Blasket Village ruins. Ireland in the distance.

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: During this year 146 American children were given the name Khaleesi at birth. Khaleesi is the word for “Queen” in a made up language found in the “Game of Thrones.” Before 2013 no one in real life had ever borne that name.

In about that same year a Restaurant named Khaleesi’s was opened in Mission Texas featuring pizza.

Pizza was the favorite food of the Targaryan nobility. They cooked the pizza in dragon fire.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
MilitarySpendingSince1947

It is often said that generals (and countries) fight new wars using the strategies and tactics of the last. Unfortunately for the generals and many politicians alike, it appears that the real wars of today among the major powers are economic and not military.
B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

Re: The NEW YORKER

As you know I like to post some of the well written and interesting comments I receive about things I have written in T&T. This from Stevie:

“Over half a century ago as an 11-year-old growing up in a California railroad town that, for all I know, still doesn’t have a book store, I had the good fortune to make friends with a recent transplant from New York whose mother subscribed to The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, The Saturday Review AND (always my favorite) , The New Yorker.

This was definitely a horizon widener over the Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Boys Life (my brother’s), True Magazine (my father’s — and mine), True Story Magazine (my mother’s), Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek (mine) that we received at my house, and my grandparents’ Life, Look, and Reader’s Digest, all of which I read from cover to cover.

The one thing they (almost) all had in common were cartoons, and I attacked every new issue from the back thumbing through quickly to read every one of the cartoons as quickly as I could. In The New Yorker, though, I would again go through, once more starting from the back, to read the poetry, followed by the book and movie review.

Only then would I turn to the fiction (there were frequently multiple stories, as I recall, at that point) to savor it the way I do the last morsel of lobster or abalone, leaving everything else to be read (of course I read everything else — there were just so many books one could carry back and forth to the library on a bike!) haphazardly, in no particular order.

That’s still the way I read The New Yorker. I did attempt reading the electronic version on my iPad but gave it up when I couldn’t even muster the interest to make it through the cartoons, which don’t seem to read as well from front to back…

This past issue had a Shirley Jackson story — almost 50 years posthumous — but I keep hoping something new and exciting will come along, and I’ll read it in The New Yorker :o)”

The Huffington Post reports:

“The New Yorker led the pack Thursday night at the annual National Magazine Awards, winning four prizes…

Love the magazine as I do I still find its Poetry inept, the articles too long and at times insipid and the cartoons, amusing but not funny. I suggested to Stevie that some rap lyrics could greatly improve things.

big_mac_rap_lyrics_by_nicoletheawesomehog-d5m59xv

According to Matt Daniels (http://rappers.mdaniels.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com) a designer, coder and data scientist at something called Undercurrent in New York City, after analyzing the percentage of unique words used by various rap artists with Shakespeare, fifteen rappers use of unique words exceeded The Bard’s for roughly equivalent sets. Aesop Rock came in first by a mile followed by Wu-Tang Clan, Kool Keith and Cunnlynguists.

So, no apologies this time.

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such abominable business.”
Albert Einstein

“Once guns were made, who would unmake them?”
Hough Howey. Wool Omnibus Edition (p. 319). Broad Reach Publishing.
TODAY’S CARTOON:
20110504_113932_15263

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Capt. Coast 0003 (April 30, 2014)

“Logic doesn’t have to live in the real world. Logic is too busy planning its escape route.”

Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I have written before about the giant turkeys that inhabit this area of the foothills (no, I am not referring to Congressman McClintock). Today on the lawn of the Dr.’s office I was visiting I found the big Tom pictured below strutting about.
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I spent Easter with my mother and my sister’s family at the nursing home.
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Following that, Nikki, HRM and I travelled to Mendocino for a few days at my sister’s home there.
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I left my computer back in El Dorado Hills, suffered electronic communication withdrawal and compensated by reading back issues of The New Yorker.

We returned to Sacramento through Calistoga where Nikki had himself a mud bath. On the following Sunday Nikki left to return to Italy.
************************************************

I plan to go back to Thailand for a month sometime near the end of May.

B. POOKIES DREAMS (continued):

There’s not much to tell about how our affair began. It was night and I was walking by her hut. She stood in the doorway leaning against the frame, gazing at the sky. I walked toward her and directly on into the hut. She followed and we laid down together on the bed.

Most of the beds in the village consisted of a straw mat like they have in Japan at the bottom. On top of that one or two soft blankets or rugs or something like that were layered. Then a cool fitted sheet was placed over it all. In this case the sheet was white. The bed was comfortable if a bit hard, but certainly nowhere near as hard as some of the beds I slept on in Thailand.

After that first evening, when I was in the village, I spent almost every night in her hut. Generally we would sit on the bed our backs pressed against the cool mud wall staring at the night sky through the window on the opposite wall of the dark hut. That window provided a view of the night sky framed by a few black branches of trees. A wide streak of light bisected the night sky. It was as if a huge ribbon hung down from somewhere above the roof of the hut. On that ribbon there seemed to be festooned what looked like an infinite number of blinking Christmas lights, white, yellow, red and blue. So many that it seemed like a single pulsating band of light. Now and then a meteor would flash by. I never saw a moon.

The light from outside that window provided the only illumination in the room. I could just make out the outline of her face and the arc of her jaw line as it curved to meet her earlobe.

I could smell the harsh fragrance of the basic soap we all used in the village and the acrid smell of sweat mixed with the sandalwood aroma of the dust that was always with us. Floating through this melange of aromas was the hint of perfume from the shampoo she used. One of the few indulgences she allowed herself.

Eventually we would shimmy down on to the bed.

In the morning, before dawn, I would leave her hut and return to my own to prepare for the day.

We rarely spent time together during the day, even at meals. I would however occasionally see her walking through the village almost always surrounded by children. Now and then I would notice her meeting with people or escorting them around the village. Some of the visitors had suits, others were dressed in various forms of military uniform. There were also some in more casual dress that I assumed were academics of some sort or engineers.They often seemed to be vigorously arguing with her about something or other.

I began to sense tension and stress in the village and especially in Mama. When I asked her about it one night, she dismissed it as a minor irritant.

At first I thought it was merely the ongoing pressure of budget, funding, personnel and administrative matters that are ever-present in any organization and exacerbated by the lack of staff to handle the endless paperwork that is a way of life for most eleëmosynary organizations.

I had some experience about these things and I could sympathize with what she and the other members of the village were going through. Then, one night I found the young son of Tre and Yu unconscious by the side of the road. He had been severely beaten. (to be continued)

C. POOKIES BOOK REPORT:

Because I left my computer behind when I went on my vacation and waiting for re-issuance of my debit card for security reasons, (apparently it had something to do with the new computer virus everyone is concerned about), I have not read any books for the past week or so. I can however rant about The New Yorker Magazine with which I have a love hate relationship.

Like most people who pick up the magazine in the doctor’s waiting room or at someone’s home who for whatever reason subscribes, when I read the New Yorker I skip most of the articles and flip first to the cartoons. I do not find them funny. Someone from the New Yorker once told me with a Eustace Tully like sniff, they’re supposed to be amusing not funny.

Most of the cartoons appear to me to depict characters either collapsing into the ground like slowly deflating balloons or hovering on the verge of transparency. The captions often are snide (which I like) or point out one or another character’s social embarrassment, somewhat at the level of releasing a fart in a crowded room.

The poetry is atrocious. It can be described as poetic excrement. By the time I get to the second line I’m usually furious.

No one I know has admitted to me that they actually read the fiction pieces. They are usually written by a relatively famous Northeast alcoholic, sex-obsessed (or repressed) author, or someone who wishes to be. They really need to now and then try something like publishing the lyrics to a rap song. It would improve the poetry too.

The interesting thing about the non-fiction articles other than their length is that they all begin with great topic sentence that makes you believe you will be greatly informed if you read on. Alas, before I have even finished the first page, new themes are introduced or new characters and I either forget why I started reading the article or, if I have not forgotten, hope I will find it on the following page, often a forlorn hope. When I plod on to the end of the article, to the final paragraph, I frequently discover it lacks any sense of the immediacy with which it began. Or to put more or less into the words of T.S. Elliot it usually ends not with a bang but a whimper.

Now do not get me wrong, I like the New Yorker very much. It reminds me of rainy days and snowy nights on the East Coast with a fire burning in the fireplace or a notoriously dangerous exposed coil (glowing orange) electric heater, depending on one’s socio-economic status. Now and then there would be an article that would knock my socks off and I will always remember it. I love the covers. The magazine also always maintained its grammatical and stylistic standards even as it struggled to remain contemporary. And, I can pile them into stacks in my room for dipping into later (like one does with back copies of National Geographic) and it never looks like clutter.

The following are two quotes from the N.Y. Times that I think catch some of the essence of the magazine and the people who read it:

“The New Yorker magazine has announced that its complete 80-year archive will soon be available on eight computer discs. Some people found this development interesting. But to many, many, many others — and you know who you are, hoarders of America — the idea of being able to own eight DVDs containing every page of the 4,109 issues of the weekly magazine published between February 1925 and February 2005 was life-changing.”
Mimi Avins, July 14, 2005,

“Eleanor Gould Packard, the grammarian for the New Yorker magazine for 54 years whose search for logic, clarity and correct usage in sentences won her grateful as well as grudging admirers among the staff, has died. She was 87. She died Sunday. Her family did not give the cause of death. The first, last and only grammarian at the magazine got her start there in 1945 after sending a letter asking about job openings. In it she pointed out several errors she found in a recent issue.”
Mary Rourke, February 18, 2005

 

 
DAILY FACTOID:

During the mid 3rd Millennium BC, Sargon of Akkad wrote the following:

“My mother was a changeling (?), my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azurpiranu (the wilderness herb fields), which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose not over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was gardener Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and (fifty?) … years I exercised kingship.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

“We today owe our intellectual and humanitarian heritage to Franklin Roosevelt. Not because he vindicated principles of easy money or public finance. Not because he vindicated principles of modern liberalism. But – for the first time in the history of our nation and all nations – he demonstrated that government can exist for the great benefit of the many at the minor cost of the few. For almost a century both political parties have lived by this end, if disagreeing on the means.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

B. An Ethical Focus:

“Today’s Needs

Give me:

Shelter from the Elements
Food for Mind and Body
Love of Family and Friends

Today’s Goals

Let me:

Bring Peace where there is Strife
Be Gentle and Courteous.
Grieve for the Misfortunes of Others
Be Compassionate and Charitable.
Be Patient.
Do no Harm.
Ask Forgiveness of those I have Harmed.
Forgive those who have Harmed me.
Avoid Damage to the Circle of Life.
Restore where I can what has been Damaged or Harmed.
Help those who Need it
Not Disparage Others.
Be Steadfast in the Face of Criticism for Doing Right.
Be Kind to those who Disagree with me.
Be Humble whenever I may be Exalted.”

I found the above while rummaging through my files. I am not sure who wrote it or why. I include it here because I like it since it is a moral bromide without appeal to a Supreme Being and it seems to include protection of the environment among its fundamental moral precepts. Compare those who may choose to live their lives following these rules with Juergen Stroop below.

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue…. Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved…. Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”
Juergen Stroop. Report to Nazi superiors regarding the extermination of the Jewish Community in the Warsaw Ghetto 1943.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”
Adam Smith

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

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Although the length and severity of the drought may be attributed to climate change, the predicted El Niño weather pattern expected to begin this summer may bring increased rain and hot weather to Northern California and Oregon relieving the drought. There is a good chance, however, it will bring only increasingly hot temperatures to the rest of the Southwest.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Capt. Coast 0003 (April 16, 2014)

 

“The joy of theft is the lack of overheads.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The heat of Summer has struck the foothills like lightning struck Ben Franklin’s house key. Temperatures have reached the high 80’s in the foothills and the 90’s in the valley. I expect in a few weeks the hills will lose their green and turn golden for a moment before sliding back to their usual dull brown.
**********************************

Every day between 7:30 to 7:45 AM after I drop HRM off at school I go to Bella Bru Cafe for breakfast of a non-fat caffe latte and a cinnamon raison bagel with cream cheese. The people working there have gotten to recognize my car when I enter the parking lot and they have my order prepared by the time I walk into the Cafe. I am pleased with this slight but welcome confirmation of my existence.
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Along the main road in El Dorado Hills there are two large rocks upon which people paint birthday greetings. Every year on the day before his birthday I do so for HRM. This morning while driving by I noticed one of the rocks announced, “Violet is 5.” I have no idea who Violet is and why I found that particular message rememberable, other than I like the name Violet and 5 years old is younger than most of the celebrants noted on the rocks. In any event Happy Birthday Violet.
**************************************

HRM is nine years old. He still believes in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. This morning we had a discussion about how much money the Tooth Fairy must have in order to for her go traveling around the world paying people for their lost teeth.

Is there a time when adults are obliged to explain to children some of life’s realities? It is the same time as when they explain (if ever) birds, bees and storks?
****************************************

B. POOKIE’S DREAM (continued):

A few days later I was invited to ride along on a truck going deeper into the preserve. I jumped at the chance. We started well before sunrise and drove through forest and savannah for several hours until the solid green wall of the jungle rose up before us. Nestled at the edge of that seemingly impenetrable mass of vegetation was a small village.

The people of the village did not appear to me to be African at all. Traditional Peoples south of the Sahara tended to be pastoralists and farmers, not hunter gatherers. Nor did they look a lot like natives of the Sahel and further south. They looked in fact more like the indigenous people in the South American rain forest or Borneo pictured in National Geographic which is where my dream probably got them from. They were mostly bronze skinned and festooned with bones and beads piercing their septums or ear lobes or hung in their hair or on strings around their necks, arms or ankles. Their hair ranged from tightly curled to early Beetles bangs. They wore various colored dyes on their faces and bodies. I did not notice any scarifications or tattoos.

They were, of course in keeping with their National Geographic genesis, mostly naked. The children, starkers, running every which way, screaming and laughing. The men, the older the more pot-bellied, bare but for a ragged cloth over their privates or nothing at all. One or two sporting a penis sheath. The women, naked breasts becoming more slab like and drooping towards their waste as they aged, here and there sported a grass kirtle or a piece of cloth or leather like the men. The younger women, their brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples protruded proudly from their chests.

For males of my age, I suspect many of us recall that time before Playboy began publication when most of us got our pre-adolescent titillation from surreptitiously staring at the brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples in the photographs of the ubiquitous National Geographic magazines of which it seemed every home had at least a modest supply. I wondered at the time, being too young and inexperienced to understand the subtleties and complexities of racial prejudice, why brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples were freely exposed while white breasts with pink nipples were covered with cloth. I concluded that to most adults white breasts with pink nipples must have appeared too horribly ugly and therefore needed to be hidden from view.

I met the representatives of the preserve, a middle-aged man and a youngish woman. They were both dressed like the other residents of the village. The man sporting a grey beard and thick white hair might have been European or Middle Eastern, but his skin was burned so dark and leathery it was difficult to tell. The woman seemed clearly of African descent. They shared the duties of providing medical services to the people of the village as well as those deeper in the jungle and conducting anthropological and sociological studies. They also accompanied and assisted scientists and others allowed into the preserve.

I was told that the residents of the village were quite antagonistic to strangers. I learned this first hand as I toured the settlement. The residents seemed happy and often laughing except when I came close. Then they became silent, sullen and almost threatening. As my guides explained, they see themselves as protectors of the preserve and everyone else as a threat. It all appeared to me to resemble the theory behind the establishment of those seed banks deep in the arctic so that in case of a disaster we would have stock to begin again. Admirable but naïve I thought .

I was taken briefly into the jungle to observe hunting by the villagers. After a lot of walking about, missed shots and mutterings they managed to bring down a small monkey with a blow gun.

All in all I was happy to leave and return to the village where I was staying.

After a few more days, I left the village to return home. I did not go back through the armed town containing my Armenian relatives, but drove on a very curvy road through some mountains. Now and then subdivision development appeared along the side of the road that seemed suspiciously like those in the foothills where I now reside. Eventually we topped a ridge where I could see the coastal plain before me and the airport. Beyond the airport was the ocean. At that point I woke up.

Over about the next year and a half, I returned to the village six or eight times. Sometimes I would fly into the airport near the ocean, at others I would find myself in the armed town and now and then I would just appear in the village itself.

The first time I returned, Mama and I became lovers. (to be continued)

 

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

Declan Burke

I thought it’s time to write about my current man-crush, the Irish mystery and thriller author Declan Burke. Burke’s novel’s, read like Ken Bruen on steroids (try Slaughter’s Hound). His agent advised him that he could make more money writing comic mysteries like Leonard and Hiaasen. So, although he writes more or less the same stories of violence and degradation as Bruen, his bad guys say and do things a bit dumber while his chief protagonist’s rapid fire patter suggests the recent ingestion of about pound of cocaine.

He like Bruen lives much of the time in the perpetual fog and drizzle of western Ireland. They both set the locus of many of their novels there. This misty dark landscape, I believe, has something to do with the tenor of their stories.

Just think, I spend my days in constant sunlight sitting on a warm deck observing flowers, birds and clouds and it still pisses me off. Imagine how angry I’d be if every day I’d go outside to be met with only fog, wind, drizzle and cold.

My personal favorite Declan Burke novel is Absolute Zero Cool. Not so much for its plot but because there are more explosions of one liners per page than in a string of Chinese firecrackers. It’s as though Philip Marlowe returned and found himself slogging through a bog in Galway.

Pookie says, check it out.

“Survival has never been a right… Survival has always been a matter of hard-earned elitism.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

“It’s a crying shame, yeah, so have a cry, feel ashamed and get over it. The rest of the week is coming on hard and its brakes are shot to hell.”
Burke, Declan. Eightball Boogie.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1177: In that year the Pharaoh Ramses III defeated the so-called “Sea People” in a series of battles in the Nile Delta saving Egypt from the destruction experienced during the previous 50-100 years by every other major empire and power in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near and Middle East thus ending the Golden Era of the Bronze Age and ushering in an almost 500 year-long Dark Age.

Prior to that era of turmoil, that area supported the following major powers: The Hittite Empire, Mycenaean/Cretan Empire, Assyrian and Kassite/Babylonian Empires, Mitanni Empire and Egypt. It also encompassed the mostly independent kingdoms of Ugarit (Syria), Canaan, Cyprus, Hausa, Troy (Troad) and a number of others. Every one was swept away and disappears from history except Egypt which nevertheless spiraled into a decline from which it never recovered. (Note: Assyria experienced two centuries of decline before being replaced by the neo-Assyrian Empire)

Almost every society (again with the exception of Egypt) lost the ability to read and write for almost 200 years. Cuneiform writing and the languages of most of those countries disappeared from history as completely as did the nations that supported them. It was replaced mostly by the Phoenician writing system we use today. Aramean became the lingua-franca of the Near and Middle East.

A host of connected causes including climate change, earthquakes and a complacent, self-protecting aristocracy of inherited wealth have been blamed for the massive migrations, revolutions and warfare that utterly destroyed that civilization. Such a complete disintegration of a culture was not to be seen again until the collapse of the Roman Empire 1700 years later.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”
Martin Gilens, Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page Northwestern University. Perspective on Politics.

 

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

Progressives can slap themselves on the back all they want, but as usual they have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped, trained and financed while all too often all the Progressives have is their optimism to sustain them as the barricades are overrun while they wait for popular support that never comes.”
Trenz Pruca

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“That, in its essence, is fascism–ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 
TODAY’S CHART:
funny-graphs-architects

 
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
374-934x

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joey 0003 (April 10 2014)

 

“Nil mortifi, sine lucre. Remember. No killing without payment.”
(Motto of the Assassins Guild.)
Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld) (p. 62). Harper Collins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

It is the season of the Swimming Cult. About two hundred other parents, various family members and I attended the orientation for the Sierra Sharks swim team that I signed HRM up for. It felt more like we were sending the kids to reform school than to an enjoyable athletic adventure. They seemed to have considerably more interest in what jobs the parents sign up for than in the welfare of the swimmers.

I agreed be responsible for checking the swimmers conformity to the rules as they make their lane turns during the meets. I intend to allow considerable opportunity for innovation.
*********************************************************

Hosts of California Poppies are blooming gold against the deep green or the hills. Mustard fields, a bright yellow ,have joined them. In the late afternoon from the rocking chair on the deck I watch hummingbirds and bees feed on the flowering trees.
*********************************************************

Today I saw five people walk past the house. Shocked, I stood in the driveway staring at them with my mouth open. One of them, a middle-aged man saw me and waved before continuing on out of view. They were followed by the postman in his little white truck who stopped by our post box on the side of the road and filled it with advertisements and offers of untold riches.
***********************************************************

I miss Thailand. Although it is not what it used to be and in a sad state of decline, it still has a certain seedy electric excitement much like the Las Vegas Strip. Now don’t get me wrong, El Dorado Hills is quite nice. Some magazine just ranked it the seventh best place in America to raise a family. But let’s face it, who wants to spend all their time someplace certified for family values. That’s like watching only G rated movies.

For example, in Bangkok each morning during the mile or so walk from my apartment to the health club I am almost guaranteed to see or experience the following: at least three offers of sexual congress, one of which will be from someone of uncertain gender; a fight between two ladies of the night complete with tearing off of clothes and pulling of hair; one person lying on the sidewalk in a coma or dead; a dozen or so rats scurrying away from my feet as I walk along; packs of soi dogs so mangy, flea ridden and rabid that should they ever chance upon a PETA meeting the participants would shoot them on sight; one or more farangs (Westerners), partly clothed and drunk, vomiting into the gutter; a rupture in the sidewalk every five feet or so that should I step on it wrong I would break an ankle or pitch into a sewer that runs underneath; several sidewalk stands purveying the latest in vibrator technology and pharmaceutical breakthroughs in male virility enhancement; other stands selling every possible mechanism for killing another human being that does not require gunpowder or dynamite; every sort of pirated good you can conceive of; food stands and sidewalk cafe’s selling almost every kind or food you would or would not want to eat; a hundred or so bars and go-go places including one specializing it BJ’s and another in anal sex; an equal number of massage parlors; a bazillion cars all stopped solid in the daily mother of all traffic jams and another bazillion motor bikes many carrying more than two passengers. Oh yeah, a lot of noise and air so thick with pollutants that it takes at least 10 minutes off your life for each breath you take. Now and then there is a political demonstration of some sort with the participants wearing either red or yellow shirts bitching about something I don’t understand. Police and soldiers heavily armed with about every weapon imaginable lounging around the side streets in great numbers as I pass by. All this backed by a huge unending series of monoliths containing hotels, office buildings and high-priced condominiums impassively reflecting in their mirrored sides the turmoil on the streets below.

In El Dorado Hills about the only things that change are the clouds.
************************************************************

 

B. POOKIES DREAM (continued):

A great brown and grey cloud billowed at the far end of the valley through which plunged a stampede of animals. Not like the great Serengeti migration where large herbivores run the gauntlet of predators but a stampede of all sorts of animals, herbivore and predator alike. Elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, wild pigs and warthogs, even monkeys and chimpanzees plunged down the valley toward us. It looked a lot like the start of the SF Bay to Breakers race. I was so frightened I considered waking myself up. But recalling Mama’s calming words, I plopped down on the nearest rock, my heart pounding almost as loud as the the sounds of the hooves and paws plunging toward us.

The herd split into two, each half passing the rock outcropping on opposite sides. The others on the rocks with me clapped and laughed. Suddenly a large male lion all ruff and fangs detached itself from the herd and sprang up the rocks right toward me. It swerved just before it reached me, brushed by and bounded over the top or the outcropping to rejoin the stampede leaving me little worse for wear other than a slightly strained sphincter.

A rhinoceros bumped out of the pack stumbled up the rocks a few feet, fell down and struggled to get up again. A child sitting nearby leaned over and patted it on its horn. The beast chuffed, backed itself down and ran off.

After the animals passed leaving only the rumble of their passage further down the valley and swirling clouds of dust, everyone on the rocks clapped and cheered like the Forth of July crowds after the fireworks.

We then all walked off into the woods until we came to a stream. Everyone dove in to clean off the dust and dirt. Some removed their clothing and others jumped in clothes and all. I decided to explore the stream a bit and walked away until I could no longer hear their cries and laughter. I soon came to a place where the stream widened out into a small pool. Across the way the stream entered the pool in a small two-step waterfall. The upper stories of the forest were pulled back around the pool allowing the sunlight to flood down glittering the spray of the waterfalls and turning the bottom of the pool iridescent.

The trees surrounding the pool although open to the sun at their tops crowded the pool in a seemingly impenetrable wall. Sitting or hopping about on the branches of the trees were hundreds of birds of every color and shape of feather. Where they did not hide the trees behind from view, thousands of butterflies fluttered about filling up the spaces. Strangely there was no sound of birds calling to one another, only the thrumming of their wings and the shushing of the waterfall. After a while I began to think the whole thing was spooky and so I returned to the village.
(To be continued)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

While I agree in principle with the sentiments expressed below, their intemperance probably results from living ones life, as the author does, in a thatched roof cottage on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean encased in almost constant fog.

“The theory of democracy holds that the most wretched is rightfully equal in status to the most powerful. This is history.

This is bunk.

Democracy is political theory reaching back 5,000 years to the pyramids for inspiration, an apex dependent on a broad foundation for its very existence. It is the few bearing down on the millions, and the millions feeling proud that they have provided an unparalleled view of the universe for the few. Democracy is a blizzard of options so thick it obscures the fact that there is no choice.

The cradles of democracy, London and Philadelphia, deployed genocide as a means of social engineering, in Australia and North America respectively, a full two hundred years before Hitler and Stalin began their pissing contest in Poland.

It is no coincidence that democracy evolved in tandem with the Industrial Revolution. Democracy and capitalism are symbiotic parasites. Democracy’s truth is not one man, one vote; it is one man, one dollar. Democracy’s truth is the abrogation of the individual’s rights in favor of collective procrastination, while those running the show exercise censorious control on behalf of the nervous disposition of the collective will….

Democracy has replaced religion as the opiate du jour. Democracy is the ostrich with its head in the sand and its ass in the air, begging to be taken in traditional pirate fashion. It is the subjugation of the people, by the people, for the people. It is the inalienable right to purchase your personalized interpretation of liberalized slavery. It is the right to sell your soul to the highest bidder. It is the right to pay for the privilege of being alive….

For some reason most dictators fail to realize that the trick to democracy is to have the slaves buy and sell themselves. The trick is to incentivize slaves to invest in their slavery, to pay for their own prisons, shackle themselves to brick and mortar.

The trick to democracy is in ensuring the slaves’ capacity for self-regulation is not taken for granted. The trick is to maintain the healthy tension between democracy and capitalism, so that one does not undermine or overshadow the other. The trick is to ensure that the slaves’ investment retains the illusion of value. Failure to do so will result in the slaves questioning the worth of their dollar and/or vote. The answer to this question is delivered in blood.

Masters of the Universe, do not say you weren’t warned.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

B. More reflections on fly fishing:

I am always flattered when someone responds positively to something I wrote in T&T. The following is from Naida West. As you know, I consider Naida’s historical trilogy, The California Gold Trilogy, to contain three of the finest historical novels written about America. Unlike others who merely place their story in another era, Naida’s involves mostly actual people taken from diaries and other sources to which she adds missing thoughts, motivations and dialogue and a character or two. Her characters are not kings and queens and the like, but real ordinary (and some not so ordinary) people who populated the banks of the Cosumnes River more than 100 years ago.

“I loved your reflections of fly fishing, such as this: “(Fly fishing) is a type of meditation for those who like to be uncomfortable while doing it and are infatuated with gear.”

Here’s a reflection of my own:

My lawyer father, a delightful actor on life’s stage if one winked at his pursuit of women and booze, grew younger before my eyes as he neared his favorite trout streams. By the time we left the road and bumped violently over bushes and rocky outcroppings seeking a place to stop, he was a wide-eyed child at Barnum and Bailey’s tent door. He bounced out to retrieve his gear while I steeled myself for a day of boredom with the windows up, my only excitement murdering mosquitoes that had snuck in while the door had been open. As the sun edged across the sky I poached in my sweat, recalling the day I explored a riverbank in shorts while he fished. The angry welts all over me, overlapping even under my shirt, just about killed me or so I thought. My dad had scoffed and said I should control the effects with my mind like he did. Umm, no. He admired swamis who barefooted across glowing coals.

Yet for an hour or two, coming and going, I had my dad to myself. At the wheel he recited story-length poems by Longfellow, Gray, Coleridge, and Poe, using theatrical emphasis to convey the meaning of outdated idioms. Between poems he answered questions about the words and phrases, always in an interesting way, repeating the stanzas where they were used. I memorized some of those poems before my mother & grandmother hauled us to CA, and in the 8th grade my teacher had me go from room to room in Carmel High School reciting them to classrooms of older kids. I saw my dad only a handful of times after we left Idaho, though he lived until 1989.”
Naida

It is great to be reminded that there was a time when people quoted Longfellow, Poe and others instead of relying on street corner argot and advertising slogans to prove their intellectual integration with the greater American culture. I, myself, often sprinkle my speech with the word “fuck.” It signifies my affinity for the common idiomatic mode of discourse we Americans use to express ourselves.

Speaking of Longfellow, I always felt he got a raw deal from the critics. He was part of a movement that began with Washington Irving and continued until Whitman gave up the ghost in an orgy of pantheistic individualism. They tried to create a new song unique to America out of the diverse traditions of those living or migrating to the continent at the time. True it was mostly wrapped in Yankee sensibilities. Native American, Knickerbocker, Frontiersman, Acadian, Settler at the edge of the primeval wilderness and even the sad songs of slavery were all bundled into a single melody, recognizable even where altered. A violin differs from and oboe in its history, shape and sound. But, in a symphony by Brahms, joined together they create a song far different from what either could accomplish separately. No one criticizes old Johannes for failing  to allow each instrument its own solo. Even Jazz requires the solos to doodle around with the underlying theme. (Come to think of it, Jazz was another attempt to meld the diverse music of several cultures relying in part on the fundamentals of European folk music, African syncopation and rhythm, and Klezmer instramentalization.)

Romantic and fuzzy headed, this movement died at mid-century when the two true songs of America emerged, one indescribably evil and malicious. The other almost as bad, lacking a unifying theme other than simple revulsion.

Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, an attempt to use new interest at the time in Native American culture and legends to create a syncretic myth for the new country, has been soundly criticized. At first the criticism appeared to emanate from the trolls of that era who focused, in part, upon the poems idealization of a people whom they believed deserved their extinction. Later, because the poem relied on the study of Native American culture by a man who was one of the first to take an interest in their way of life, it was ridiculed because significant portions of that research was in error and more recent studies decades after the poem’s publication came to different conclusions. This is like criticizing the ancient Egyptians for not using reenforced concrete to construct their pyramids.

Did you know that the recitation of the Song of Hiawatha provides greater psychological and physical benefits than meditation? It’s true, try it. Find a quiet room, darkened but not devoid of light. Make yourself comfortable and slowly in a hushed voice as deep you can manage recite the poem making sure you accent it properly.

Longfellow used the trochaic meter instead of the iambic that is more comfortable for Indo-European speakers. It is a more common rhythm in Ural-Altaic languages (in this case Finnish) that Longfellow believed, rightly or wrongly, reflected the language of the First Peoples. In any event, for some English speakers it seems to produce chthonic rhythms that reverberate in the marrow of their bones like the moan of a cello.

Try it, you’ll like it. Do not begin with that portion of the poem that we learned in grade school but at the beginning with the Introduction. To get you started I include it here:

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.
I repeat them as I heard them
From the lips of Nawadaha,
The musician, the sweet singer.”

Note: Do not try this with Evangeline or any of the Acadian poems. Those rhythms can cause mild stomach upset to the inexperienced.

 

C. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

Metaphor rhymes with pinafore.
But can a pinafore become a metaphor?

I apologize for the above, regret it and am truly humiliated.
 
TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett

“Spence patted him on the shoulder and said, “Goodnight, Bogie.” Bogie turned his eyes to Spence very quietly and with a sweet smile covered Spence’s hand with his own and said, “Goodbye, Spence.” Spence’s heart stood still. He understood.”
Kathrine Hepburn describing the last time she and Spencer Tracy (another man’s man who died in much the same way) saw Humphrey Bogart.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

Map showing what those place names actually mean:
17

I was born in New Yew Tree Estate, lived a while in The Land of the Main Hill Wood, and went to college in Marsh Farm before moving to Saint Little Frank One in the Land of the Succession.

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Joey 0003 (March 24, 2014)

“When you die, the first thing you lose is your life. The next thing is your illusions.”

Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld). Harper Collins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The rains of the past few weeks have prompted the foothills to blush green. Every day I do pretty much the same few things at about the same time. As a result I have begun to lose track of time. I, for example, no longer know how long it has been between calls to people with whom I have previously been in regular contact. Everything seems the same day after day except for the clouds. I like the clouds here at the edge of the foothills. They are gloriously variegated from cottony white to pearlescent, sometimes grey and searing black as well as red, pink, orange and even yellow (see Today’s Photograph below).

*******************************
The “Mothers” rugby team played two games today. The first was against the team that beat them 95 to 5. This time they only lost 30 to 15. The second game however was a different story. They played the team made up of South Sea Islander kids, half of whom were girls. After less than three minutes the Mothers were down 30 to 0 so the coach halted the slaughter and requested the Islanders play with only the smallest and youngest (8 and under) members of the team. They fielded 6 members and the Mothers “loaned” them six of their worst scrubs to make up the difference. While the Mothers scrubs wandered around the playing field in semi oblivion, the remaining six Islanders continued to run up the score by another 30 points in 10 minutes before the game was called to save our team from further embarrassment. HRM was however voted by the refs as the Best Tackler of the Game, primarily for a thunderous last second tackle on an opponent running free toward the goal-line to the cheers, ohs and applause of the bloody minded parents watching the game.

*****************************

I am sick again and have been forced to lie in bed for about a week oozing bodily fluids while I wait for antibiotics and other various medicines to kill off those little buggers who have found my body an ideal place in which to vacation.

When once or twice a day I stumble out on the deck for a bit of sun and fresh air I notice that not only was this a year without winter here at the edge of the foothills but one without spring as well. We seem to have sprung directly into Summer. The grasses and trees starved for water have, in response to the feeble rains a week or so ago, panicky thrust their seeds and pollen into the air in order to propagate themselves before they brown and die as the drought regains control. Alas, the resulting hay fever and allergies have added to whatever miseries the vacationing bacteria and viruses have brought me.

******************************

The rugby season has ended with the expected thundering defeats for the Mothers at the regional tournament. Swimming season now begins. I sit at the edge of the pool, along with a group of proud mothers encouraging our charges to ever greater efforts while we fiddle with our smart phones.

 

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

I am what is referred to by some as a vivid dreamer. That is, my dreams are in color, I know that I am dreaming and I can alter them as they go along. I also can wake myself up if things get too stressful. Moreover, I generally remember a lot of them in their entirety. Sometimes, those dreams become as real in my memory as any other experience. Periodically I used to analyze which of my memories were real and which were dreams in order to purge those not real. I no longer do that. I now believe, if it is there it is as real as any memory.

I prefer sleep to being awake because on the whole my dreams are far more interesting and exciting than my waking life is. I guess that goes for most of us.

Perhaps a little over a score of years ago I dreamt I was flying in a plane. We passed from the ocean over the land somewhere in Africa where we landed. I then took a small jitney bus that drove directly from the airport into the desert. The desert was not the sandy dune desert of Lawrence of Arabia, but barren, dusty and rocky like parts of West Texas. After a day or two we arrived at a small city of mud-walled buildings. In the center of the city was a large dirt plaza filled with men with guns, shooting them into the air and shouting at people in cars or busses and stopping them as they tried to make their way through the plaza. The men seemed to be grouped into gangs with no one group in charge. They appeared mediterranean in complexion with large bushy mustaches. They wore dark pants and vests over their shirts. I assumed they were Muslims since most of them wore ragged turbans on their heads.

They would not allow our bus to continue, so I disembarked and walked into the city to search for some distant relatives whom I knew lived in the town. The relatives strangely were Armenian shopkeepers. I found their shop. I never learned what they sold there. The relatives lived above the shop. After I explained who I was, they welcomed me in. The father, a man of about 60, was relatively short statured, clean-shaven with a round face topped by a mostly bald head with a few long black hairs combed over. He had two grown sons, they were much taller than he, broad-shouldered and moustached. Strapped to their backs were guns of some sort. Their sister was a slender dark girl of about 14, I guess. She wore a light-colored dress imprinted with small pink flowers. The mother was thin like the daughter with more grey hair than the father. I told them I had been stopped by the gunmen in the plaza and I wanted to continue on to the jungle beyond the desert. He said that it would be difficult under the current chaotic circumstances to secure permission to travel beyond the City. He said he would have to think about it and promised to do his best. In the meantime, they prepared a dinner in my honor attended by the father’s brother and his family. After the dinner the brothers spoke with each other in a corner of the room out of my hearing. Eventually the father came over to me and told me that the leader of one of the strongest militia was a friend of his and he thought he could arrange passage for me.

Early the next morning after saying good-bye and thanking everyone I, accompanied the older son, returned to the plaza and after enduring several threats and insults from the militia leader, was put into an old Range Rover and allowed to continue on my way.

We drove on across that stoney dusty desert well into the early afternoon when the landscape began to change, first into scrub lands and then into a grassy savannah. Small copse of trees dotted the terrain here and there. Near to sunset we topped a small ridge and saw a little valley beyond. The savannah continued across the valley along with the dirt track we had been following until along the smaller ridge on the opposite side the green expanse of the forest began abruptly. Where the road disappeared into the trees, I could see a small village of conical mud-walled houses nestled in the shade of the trees stretched out along the road.

At sundown we arrived at the village. I got out of the vehicle at the edge of the village. About 10 or so adults and innumerable children assembled around the vehicle as I disembarked. One man approached. He seemed to be in his late twenties or early thirties. I guess he was Somali or other Cushite speaker, thin, light brown complexion and a straight narrow nose. He greeted me and asked what had brought me to the village. I answered that I had heard about what they had accomplished in creating their vast environmental and ethnological preserve and I wanted to see it for myself. This was the first time in the dream that I had become aware of what I was doing here.

He contemplated me for a moment then said, “Mama discourages casual visitors to the reserve.” At first I thought MAMA was an acronym for the NGO operating the place. I was soon disabused of that assumption when he glanced to a large woman standing off to the side surrounded by passel of young children.

She was a large woman, large indeed, about an inch or two taller than me and at least 50 pounds heavier. Her skin was a deep chocolate color and a thick dark tangled ring of hair floated around her head like Medusa’s snakes. She wore a deep blue tent like dress that fell from her shoulders almost all the way to the ground. Thick red stripes containing faint yellow pinstripes broke up the wall of blue.

“Perhaps I can persuade her to let me stay,” I said. “I don’t think so,” he responded quickly. “But it is too late in the day to send you back, so you can stay the night as our guest and if she is not too busy perhaps you can try to persuade her tomorrow.”

With that he led me into the town past several of the huts to one a little back from the road. “This is my house,” he said. “You can stay here for the evening. There is a cot in the back. You can leave your backpack there. I will show you where to wash up and you can join my family and others for dinner.”

The hut was nicely sized containing a single room. It seemed to be used only for sleeping. I found a small cot at the back and with both relief and trepidation dropped my backpack on it and rejoined my host.

He showed me to a surprisingly comfortable bathhouse with both hot and cold tubs and showers. It seemed to be available to both sexes.

After my bath he led me to a clearing a little way from the village. Here there were benches and a few sturdy wooden tables. Several modern grill type cookers and other tables containing copious amounts of food surrounded a large campfire around which on a variety of strange tripod like contraptions other pots and viands hung over the flames.

I met my host’s wife and their two small children. She was young and quite attractive. I am sorry to say, I no longer remember their names even though they became some of the closest friends I had even known. That’s the way it is with dreams.

The clearing filled up with what appeared to be at least a hundred adults and even more children running about. The others seemed to be a mixture of ethnicities and races, predominately African but I could see some Europeans and Asians also among the crowd.

Although I remember the food was delicious and the feeling that I enjoyed myself immensely I recall little more about the evening other than that whenever I glanced across the campfire through the flames I saw Mama on the other side staring at me with what appeared to me to be hard cold angry eyes.

After the dinner I returned to the hut, laid down on the cot and fell immediately asleep.
(to be continued)

 

C. MOPEY’S BOOK REPORTS:

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”
Logan Pearsall Smith
1. The Ripper

At Ruth’s suggestion, I read Isabel Allende’s new novel. Unlike her previous novels, this time she tries the mystery genre. Her husband William C. Gordon, an attorney in SF, writes mystery novels set in The City during the sixties. Allende’s novel, The Ripper, is also set in the City but takes place currently, more or less. Nevertheless, much of the novel revolves around a shard of the sixties that lasted to the present day – the occupants and clients of a holistic medicine clinic in North Beach several of whom I could comfortably associate with some of the denizens of the counter-culture I met during those fabled if somewhat blurred times.

Pookie says check it out.

“…no one gets rich working,”
Allende, Isabel. Ripper (p. 152). Harper Collins.

2. Steam

Sir Terry Pratchett the beloved author of the innumerable “Discworld” novels was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year or so ago. “Discworld,” for those who do not know, is a flat world on a disc resting on the backs of four huge elephants standing on the shell of an enormous tortoise slowly making its way across the galaxy. The denizens of “Discworld” are delightfully human (even the humans), and humanly delightful. “Steam” is his most recent book. Although it is not as madly surprising and bizarrely inventive as his previous works, it still overflows with Sir Terry’s special brand of humor and insight.

To Sir Terry, captains of industry, commerce and banking are inevitably criminals, hucksters and scoundrels but they seem to do as good a job as anyone would do under the circumstances. Of course it helps, if the government is run by a highly trained assassin instead of a mass murderer. Sir Terry believes that is the best of all political arrangements. He thinks magic is a good thing because it is very funny when its spells go wrong, which they inevitably do. He also believes that goblins, golems, vampires, trolls, werewolves, and various other species of sentient being, more or less, are quite amusingly human and often even more so than humans themselves once you get to know them, even McFeegles.

Pookie says check it out.

“It is now known to science that there are many more dimensions than the classical four. Scientists say that these don’t normally impinge on the world because the extra dimensions are very small and curve in on themselves, and that since reality is fractal most of it is tucked inside itself. This means either that the universe is more full of wonders than we can hope to understand or, more probably, that scientists make things up as they go along.”
Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld) (p. 313). Harper Collins.

Note: I also read Pyramids published several years ago in which Sir Terry reveals that the greatest mathematicians in the universe are camels who, alas have found no one within that same universe they deem worthy enough to share that knowledge with.

Pookie says check that out also. In fact read all or Pratchett’s books. There are so many of them you could read them for the rest of your life and still be happy.

 

 
DAILY FACTOID:

Sometime about the middle of the century or during the latter half of it, those of us still alive will experience a day not experienced by humankind since the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries when Genghis Kahn slaughtered about 10% of humanity living at that time and the following Plague carried by fleas riding along on those sturdy Mongolian ponies offed another 10%.

On that day in the near future according to several demographic studies there will be fewer humans living on the planet then the day before. This will occur not because some new Genghis or Plague will ravage us (although that remains a real possibility), but because of the education and liberation of women, increasing living standards and urbanization will have resulted in not enough babies born to offset the death rate among oldies.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

1. The Great Gatsby Curve
slide_267889_1844551_free

For those who consider those nordic countries as small and homogenous and thereby not applicable to the situation in the USA, note that their combined population is slightly less than that of Canada and their percentage of foreign-born residents is greater than that of the USA and most other industrialized nations (Although it does beg the question of whether anything in Canada is applicable to the US). On the other hand, in terms of sheer numbers the US leads the world in foreign-born residents as it has more or less from its beginning.

2. Study by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:

A new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

“By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources ”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over ‘the last five thousand years.’”
B. A bit more Twain*:

“When I look around me, I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. To mention only a few: The Atheist, The Theosophists, The Infidel, The Swedenborgians, The Agnostic, The Shakers, The Baptist, The Millerites, The Methodist, The Mormons, The Christian Scientist, The Laurence Oliphant Harrisites, The Catholic, and the 115 Christian sects ( the Presbyterian excepted), The Grand Lama’s people, The Monarchists, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Republicans (but not the Mugwumps!), The Buddhist, The Blavatsky-Buddhist, The Mind-Curists, The Faith-Curists, The Nationalist, The Mental Scientists, The Confucian, The Spiritualist, The Allopaths, The 2000 East Indian sects, The Homeopaths, The Electropaths, The Peculiar People, The–

“But there’s no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational. This should move us to be charitable towards one another’s lunacies.”
Mark Twain, Christian Science

* we need more twains and fewer singularities.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.”
~ J. Garcia

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Always assume everyone is an idiot. This saves time.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20140131_172058_675_3
Sunset over El Dorado Hills

 

Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Cold Tits 0003 (February 28 2013)

“Life is an application and not an operating system.”

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

When I was about seven years old we were quite poor. It was a few days before Christmas. My father was out of work and had disappeared, ostensibly to find a job. We did not have enough money for Christmas dinner nor for presents for my brother and I. The door bell rang. When my mom answered it, a young woman stood there smiling. She announced that they, the members of the Parish church, decided that we were the most destitute family in the Parish. She then happily presented us with a large turkey, baskets of food and presents for my brother and I.

I have always hated that woman. I could never forget the crushing humiliation I felt by that small bit of charity. Often I see her smiling face in my nightmares.

(“Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.” – John Dickinson (“1776”))
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Here in El Dorado Hills it is barely mid-February and the trees are already beginning to blossom. The crocuses have flowered and the recent rains have brought a green blush to the dun stained hills
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I now spend about six hours or so a day reading. It’s become an addiction, not too much different from alcoholism or gambling.

I have just finished a recent book about my favorite fictional repressed homoerotic couple, Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell in “Light of the World” by James Lee Burke. I wish they would just get it on with each other. It may lessen their dependency on mayhem, slaughter and alcohol.

This book finds our heroes in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana enjoying a vacation on the ranch owned by their friend, a well-known author and environmental radical. They are joined by Clete’s illegitimate daughter who was sexually abused as a child and used to be a hit-man (woman) called “Caruso” operating out of Miami on behalf of the Cuban and Italian mobs . She finally killed her abuser. Now she is a documentary film maker. Dave’s brought along his wife, an ex-Maryknoll nun who escaped the death squad slaughters of nuns in Nicaragua and married Dave (Come to think of it, the death squads don’t seem any worse than marriage to Robicheaux would be.) Also accompanying them is Dave’s adopted daughter Alafier, an orphan from El Salvador Dave rescued from the wreckage of a plane floating in the Gulf of Mexico and who after attending Reed College and Stanford Law School became an author just like Burke’s daughter of the same name did in real life.

In the early 70’s my son Jason and I used to spend a couple of weeks a year in the Bitterroot Valley with some friends there. They lived in a small A-frame that stood alone in the middle of the valley somewhere between Lolo and Hamilton or perhaps south of Hamilton, I do not remember which. No other structures could be seen only the valley’s flat grassy bottom with the mountains rising on each side. One winter the snow-covered the valley floor and we saw a herd of elk pawing the snow in front yard searching for the grass beneath. We watched them for hours as though we were looking at television or staring into an i-phone. Another time during the spring, we visited a ranch that raised and trained rodeo ponies and rode them all afternoon in the hills on the east side of the valley among the spring wild-flowers. Once while hiking in the Bitterroot mountains I got separated from my friend. He had Jason with him and I had his two children of about the same age with me. I am deathly afraid of bears. My friend had told me that these mountains were filled with Grizzlies. I got lost and began to cry. The children led me by the hand back to the car.

Anyway, our heroes Dave, Clete and their gang run amok among the mountains and valleys of western Montana in pursuit of a serial killer and also an evil petroleum billionaire leaving many many dead and maimed bodies in their wake. As in most of the other books in which he appears, Clete gets laid and the woman inevitably leaves him.

After reading the sixteen quadrillion books Burke has written in this series, I have become more fond of Clete. Dave could drop into a hole in the ground for all I care. Clete at least knows he is a screwed up violent alcoholic, Dave is a 12 stepper with all the cereal box morality and self-importance that implies. (I liked him better when he was still a drunk.) He also hallucinates, something I think is a hangover from his past hangovers. I suspect even the author has finally recognized Dave’s deficiencies. He has one of the villeins of the book, the son of the evil billionaire, say just before his head is blown off by a bullet from a rifle held by his illegitimate half-brother, a crazed ex-con who also has visions:

“We’ve researched every aspect of your life, Mr. Robicheaux. We have your psychiatric records, your pitiful statements about your dependency on your whore of a mother, your sexual history in Manila and Yokohama, the possibility of a homoerotic relationship with your fat friend, your constant whining about all the injustices visited on the miserable piece of swamp you grew up in. The fact that you take others to task for their mistakes has established new standards in hypocrisy.”
Burke, James Lee. Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 539). Simon & Schuster.

Pookie says check it out.
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HRM and his team Mother Lode Rugby (Go you Mothers) played two games in Gridley a remote town in the middle of ranch and orchard country in the northern Central Valley. They lost both games to different teams by the identical score of 60 to 5. I guess it shows some improvement.
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Last week or so I joined a local health club. So, now I have physical therapy two days a week and exercise at the health club about four days a week. That leaves one day a week when I refuse to get out of bed.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

I have been told recently from some of my correspondents in Thailand that the nature of the dispute causing the current demonstrations and turmoil in that country has changed from simple politics to concern about royal succession. The politics have always been centered on the conflict between the culture of corruption among the ruling economic and political élite and the alleged corruption concentrated in the hands of the family of Thaksin the Terrible the exiled ex-Prime Minister who had secured political power it has been said in return for programs that help the poor of the Country. It is now maintained by many that the conflict has shifted to the possibility that with the current King’s potential imminent demise the Throne will pass to his son. The son, it has been whispered about, is considered a creature of the same Thaksin the Terrible. Not only has it been alleged that the Prince received huge payments of cash from the ex-Prime Minister’s family in return for his support but that he himself is a monster who plotted to assassinate other members of the royal family competing with him for the crown. The leaders of the protest movement now insist that the demonstrations are not about political power but about preserving the Monarchy. Why having a king (or Queen in this case) more amenable to their interests is considered preservation of the Monarchy remains unaddressed.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
original-2
original-1
These charts, if accurate, show why the cycle of poverty in the US is so hard to break. My daughter Jessica suggested that perhaps we should simply declare that, with few exceptions, once one reaches 21 year of age he or she are on their own, but until then society should guarantee children their education, health care, food, adequate housing and the like.

B. A Little Bit of Twain:

“There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”
Mark Twain

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We’re born arsonists and we die firemen.”
Camilleri, Andrea; Sartarelli, Stephen. Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries) (p. 238). Penguin Group US.

“I can be very rude, and when I was younger and scary-looking, people were very rude to me. But there’s much less of that now. When you become famous, people are much nicer to you.”
Mina, Denise. The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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See charts in Pepe’s Potpourri above. By the way, Finland operates more or less what my daughter suggests.

Categories: January through March 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Mopey 0003 (February 12, 2014)

 

Happy Birthday Amanda.

 

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Victor Hugo describing what his novel “Les Meserables” is all about.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I guess for California this can be called “The Year Without Winter.” Here it is in early part of February in the Northern Central Valley and it is too warm for me to sit out in the afternoon on the deck behind the house. While they freeze and trudge through the snow on the East Coast, I am looking for a place to go swimming. It has also been the longest number of days without rain for the area since the latter part of the 19th Century. Sometimes I go to the park that overlooks the great Folsom Reservoir. It looks more like a desert surrounding a mud flat than a lake.
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When I go to bed at night, I usually surround myself along with my stuffed animals Oscar the seal, Gorilla No-name and Douglas the Monkey along with my computer, books and magazines so that when I wake up in the middle of the night I can read myself back to sleep.
IMG_20140126_112927_750_2
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I sometimes begin T&T with the words “Dum Spiro, Spero” which means where there is life there is hope. If this is true then it seems to me the Descartes who opined “Cogito ergo sum,” (I think therefore I am), must be wrong. Thinking, science tells us, is mostly post hoc rationalization. Perhaps it should be “Dum Spero, Spiro,” where there is hope there’s life.

On the other hand, “Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.” (Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human) may be just as appropriate.
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I go to physical therapy two times a week for my leg. I have grown to enjoy it, the physical therapy not the pain in my leg. It is a bit like a senior citizens health club. It pleases me also because almost everyone, except for the therapists who are both younger and very much slimmer, are even fatter than I am. Say what you want about we Americans but one thing is true, we definitely are an obese lot.
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On day while driving I listened to the Sacramento classical music station; you know music by mostly white boy bands from the Beetles to Clash. It really was not my teenage music, that was more from Frankie Lyman to well, the day the music died. I guess Classic Rock was more my stoner years. Anyway, I was listening to Joplin sing “Bobby McGee.” After the song the announcer mentioned that Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin were lovers until she died. I did not know that or if I did I had forgotten. That raised my estimation of both of them greatly.

Some critics criticized Joplin’s style and voice. I never understood that. Singing to me is the art of individual voices and probably almost infinite in variety. Like most notable singers, Joplin appeared to have a unique voice that distinguished her from other singers. Some time ago I assembled on tape over 50 performances of women’s voices from Joan Sutherland to Carmen Miranda. I loved that collection and would play it constantly. Denise called it my “Tragic Hearts Tape” because of the common theme of unrequited or lost love, but some definitely were not sad. Callas’ “Cara Nome” and even Joplin’s Bobby McGee were more upbeat than sad. Anyway D borrowed the tape and lost it.

For me the music finally really died in about 1992.
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On Sunday’s I usually attend HRM’s rugby games. Two weeks ago he ran the wrong way and scored for the other team. Last Sunday while the Broncos were being shellacked in the Super Bowl, his team Motherlode Rugby (Go you mothers!) lost 95 to 5.
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Last week HMR and I attended Congressman John Garamendi’s Birthday Party/Fund Raiser/Crab Fest in Vacaville as guests of Norbert and Stevie.
IMG_20140125_193204_224
HRM at his good friend Congressman John Garamendi’s birthday crab fest. The Congressman is making a speech in the background.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
photo 1
The above photograph was sent to me from Thailand by Nikki. It shows Sukhumvit Road one of BKK’s major arteries shut down by the long running anti-government protests. Unlike in other countries where streets shut down by protesters are often crowded with gangs of young men on the verge of riot, in Thailand the vacated streets are instantly filled by sidewalk vendors.

 

 
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

T&T from February 10, 2011 three years ago today:

I have begun to settle in to my new surroundings. More or less my day goes as follows: 8:30 walk Hayden to school; 9:00 to gym to swim, exercise and take a sauna; at noon lunch in an inexpensive restaurant close to my apartment; 1 PM nap; 2-3 read or work on computer; 3 PM pick up Hayden from school and help him with his home work; 4 PM read or computer time while Hayden plays with the children downstairs; 7 PM dinner; 8:30 prepare for bed.

On weekends I go to my apartment in Paradise by the Sea and on Wednesday and Thursday I include my massage in my daily activities.

The maid has moved into the spare bedroom. I assume that now that the maid is in place to supervise Hayden, SWAC will find some pretext to encourage me to leave and return full-time to Paradise by the Sea. The apartment has maid’s quarters located off the kitchen with its own separate entry into the hall. The room is windowless and feels more like a dungeon. There is a small toilet, actually more a hole in the floor of a closet. The maid will not be relegated to these quarters but will have one of the three bedrooms for her own.

The results of my medical tests have revealed that although the CT scan of my abdomen shows my kidneys looking like road kill, my kidney functions are normal. I need to have an operation to clear up the remainder of my plumbing in the near future in order to avoid possibly living the rest of my life in dialysis. I will probably have the procedure done in the US as early as April.

The street on which we live in BKK begins (or ends if you prefer) at a gate to a huge parcel of land in the center of the city. The gate announces that beyond is “The Tobacco Monopoly if Thailand”. I have no idea what it is about. The property is filled with a great number of ramshackle low-rise wooden buildings and a few run down parks. From this gate Soi 4 travels generally north past my apartment building and a few other mid to lower class condominium building and hotels. Family restaurants and push carts line the street along this section of the road until it passes Hayden’s school where in begins to become progressively more populated with massage parlors, bars and budget hotels until it disgorges into the traffic nightmare known as Sukhumvit. Across Sukhumvit, Soi 4 becomes Soi Nana and passes through Arab(and Indian) town before going on to wherever.

On Soi 4 just before it meets Sukhumvit sits Nana Plaza, the first neighborhood one arrives at when one passes the gates into Hell. There, surrounding a small crowded plaza, rises three and four-story connected buildings where one can whatever perversions and titillation one desires from ordinary Go-Go bars, to ladyboy lounges to short time units.

Like in the US where urban private schools tend to locate in transition zones (the rent is cheaper), so it is with Hayden’s school. This morning as I walked Hayden up to the gate of the school across the street along an extended cement platform in front of some shops, a beefy fortyish bald farang, naked to the waist, reeled obviously stoned. He had scars on his head and body but was surprisingly bereft of tattoos. Accompanying him was a naked lady-boy clearly showing the major points of her conflicting sexes (known as “pre-op”) and another professional woman. It appeared that they had spent the night there and as the lady-boy put on what seemed to be the man’s shirt to cover the most conflicting parts of her, the man himself staggered across the street and tried to enter on the school grounds.

Now like most private schools and important buildings in BKK, in the morning and evening, stationed by the gate are four or so regular BKK police  to direct traffic. The School also has its own set of uniformed security. One spiffy dressed cop (all BKK cops dress spiffy) held up one hand palm vertical to the ground in the universal sign of stop and with the other made a no-nonsense gesture that the farang should return to the other-side of the street.

Now it is important to understand that at no time did the Thai cop in any way indicate he would touch the farang nor did he evidence any demonstration of anger. That would cause him to appear less than human and lose face. Imagine what people from this culture must see when they view western entertainment that shows uncontrolled fury and violence as a manly virtue. John Wayne must appear to them to be like a circus clown (come to think of it…. American football with its glorification of anger and violence probably appears to be played by water buffalo rather than humans.)

Anyway, the bald farang took the hint, returned to the other-side of the street and after a short period of slack-jawed milling about the trio ambled off in the general direction of the gates of hell.

After it was all over, I asked Hayden what he thought.

He said, “The girl was naked and the policeman had a gun”.

Just in case you may think that Hayden is too young to know the meaning of the word naked, I few nights ago while we were preparing for bed, he took off all of his clothing and put a paper bag on his head like a hat, pranced in to the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and announced, “Look at me. I’m the Naked Chef.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

A. Samuel Beckett Used to Drive André the Giant to School. All They Talked About Was Cricket

B. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the floor of most homes was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a “thresh-hold.”

By the way, this common use of dirt and thresh flooring is also the reason why we in the West, unlike in the East, customarily remain wearing shoes when entering a house.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

I don’t know what this is about:

Alliteration mumbles
Metaphor lies, and
Metonymy sounds like something you buy on the Mercantile Exchange.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“However, as we know from John A. Hobson, one of England’s best economists, imperialism is the direct and necessary outgrowth of such accumulation. Capitalists could no longer finance sufficient profit on domestic consumption alone, requiring large and bountiful export markets. Furthermore, domestic industry would no longer require capital at a rate commensurate with high profits, which would need to be invested somewhere.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
CorrectionalHealthcare_Fig_4
In about 1980 or so, when the prison population growth really took off, privatization of our prisons began and the War on Drugs commenced. What that demonstrates is that the private market really is more efficient than government and the War, if one considers incarceration a casualty, has caused more American casualties than all of our wars combined and was even less effective than the war in Iraq.

 

Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Joseph 0003 (January 16, 2014)

 

Dum Spiro, Spero
“as long as you’re breathing, there’s hope.”

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

1. Before Christmas

A Great Blue Heron has taken up a sometime residence for the season at the Duck Pond a few blocks from my house. When I pass by during my walks, it makes me happy to see it standing there at the edge of the pond all majestic, silent and deadly.
IMG_20131219_133637_072
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I always thought the depression that comes on me at this time of the year was brought on by memories of the horrors of the winter holiday season, the death of my child, the anguish of observing the failed hope of my parents mired in poverty as they sank deeper in debt to satisfy their children’s greed fueled expectations. I now believe it is much simpler than that. It is simply the darkening of the skies and the chilling of the air that brings on feelings of desolation like a cloying mist. I guess that is why a light in the gloom, a campfire, a candle or the tinkling lights of holiday display cheers most of us up; the festival of the lights, sympathetic magic to encourage the return of sunlight and warmth. I think it is also appropriate to feel this way as we age, cold becomes more unbearable and the dimming of the light more frightening. The Drunken Poet’s urging to, “…not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” seems to me easier done at the end of Summer than in the depths of Winter. Who needs to go through another February.
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Went to SF for a day. Had dinner at Pino’s Brindisi restaurant on Beldon Alley. The food was even better than I remembered. While walking through the City I realized how much I missed city life. A few days later I returned to the same restaurant with my daughter Jessica to have our annual holiday season dinner. It was the same evening of the last professional football game at Candlestick Park before it is demolished and the 49rs move to Santa Clara. I had gotten up at seven AM that morning to drive SWAC to the airport for her return to Thailand. I waited there a couple of hours to pick up Nikki arriving from Frankfurt to drive him the Emeryville Train station so he could travel to Sacramento to spend the holidays with Triple H. The time spent waiting at the airport and enjoying dinner with Jessica totaled about 5 hours at best. I arrived at my sister’s place in Berkeley to spend the night somewhat after 10pm which means I spent approximately 10 hours driving in the car to travel a distance of about 45 miles.
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A day or two before my epic drive I attended my sister’s Christmas open house at her home. Most of the guests were dressed appropriately for Berkeley in various shades of casual grey. I met a man there named Lloyd who the day before arrived in the Bay Area after walking here from St Louis. I asked my sister what Lloyd did for a living. She said as far as she know he walked.

Earlier in the day I spent a few hours with Peter Grenell sitting in the sun in front of Bernie’s Cafe drinking coffee and reminiscing. Our conversation produced such bon mots as, “Artists, the shock troops of gentrification,” describing those lower level employees of organizations (mostly women) who actually do the work as those who are “unclouded by visions of self-importance,” and finally describing our (Peter’s and mine) current state of being as “benign senility.”
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2. January 13, 2014 (23 Joseph 0003)

I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and was too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.

The duck pond is divided into two separate ponds, an upper pond which at this time of year is covered in a russet colored scum of what I guess is dead algae (see photograph above) and a lower pond than is mostly clear with a few clumps of green algae floating about. Between them a trickle of water flows over the dam on the upper pond under a small wooden bridge into the lower pond. As I stood on the bridge I noticed what looked like excavation dirt piled under the bridge for some reason. I went down under the bridge to investigate and stood on a rock to examine the pile and discovered it was made up of the dead russet algae through which water trickled into the lower pond.
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Christmas Eve I spent at my sisters for a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with our closest 25 or so relatives and friends. My mother was there in her wheel chair. I drove her back to the nursing home before driving myself back to El Dorado Hills.
IMG_20131224_163109_994-1

Christmas morning I woke up with severe pains in my foot. We opened presents. Dick prepared a lobster dinner for Nikki Hayden and I. We invited Stevie and Norbert to join us. By the evening I could barely walk and my foot began to swell. Nevertheless, the next day I drove with HHH to Mendocino, stopping for a few hours at Discovery Park on the way.
IMG_20131229_122225_598
The walrus and the Haystack

The pain increased and walking got even more difficult. George helpfully supplied me with generous doses of Motrin. I had a great time there despite my difficulties. We, of course, had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery with Sally.
IMG_20131231_150355_296

We celebrated the New Year appropriately with funny hats and noise makers.
IMG_20131231_191240_138
Lloyd, Hayden, Maryann, George

When I returned to El Dorado Hills my leg had swollen a lot so I went to the doctor and after several days of testing learned that a clot had formed again in my calf and I now am back on blood thinners and spend most of my time lying down with my leg elevated and reveling in my misery.

 

 

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

As I have written here in T&T and in many of my blog posts, I believe that the world desperately needs to turn the reigns of economic and political leadership from men to women. While in times past it may have been sensible and properly celebrated in song and story for groups of under-employed young men to raid the lands of milk and honey, kill all the able-bodied men and enslave their women and children claiming that either their god or their inherent superiority justified it, modern technology makes this ideology inherently dangerous to the survival of humanity. The risk taking gene so useful in the past seems perilous now.

Even in that last vestige of unvarnished aggression and greed, the modern derivatives market, recent studies show that women outperform men.

From January through November 20013, a study by Rothstein Kass hedge funds run by women returned almost 10 percent on the funds invested while those run by men barely topped 6 percent.

According to Meredith Jones, a director at Rothstein Kass:

“There have been studies that show that testosterone can make men less sensitive to risk-reward signals, and that comes through in this study.”

The numbers are even more eye-popping for the six years from January 2007 through June 2013. Hedge funds run by women returned 6 percent compared with a 1.1 percent loss at the HFRX Global Fund Index. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 4.2 percent during the same time.

All which shows that not only do women hedge fund managers out perform men significantly but also beat the index which some male economists maintain is impossible over time.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: During all of 2013 there were scientific 9,137 peer-reviewed articles published regarding anthropogenic climate change (human caused global warming). Of those 9,137 articles only one denied it exists. That lone scientist lives in Russia. Almost 50% of Americans and Congressional Republicans as well as Fox News passionately believes that one Russian scientist is correct. All the rest of the scientists they are convinced are part of a massive conspiracy by the solar power industry and the Muslim Brotherhood to weaken America.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019affe580a3970d

What one may conclude from this chart is that the current financial system is not set up to provide funding for innovation, economic development and capital improvements but to provide fees for those engaged in what we lawyers call churning.

B. A bit of Twain:

“I was a mugwump. We, the Mugwumps, a little company made up of the unenslaved of both parties, the very best men to be found in the two great parties–that was our idea of it–voted sixty thousand strong for Mr. Cleveland in New York and elected him. Our principles were high, and very definite. We were not a party; we had no candidates; we had no axes to grind. Our vote laid upon the man we cast it for no obligation of any kind. By our rule we could not ask for office; we could not accept office. When voting, it was our duty to vote for the best man, regardless of his party name. We had no other creed. Vote for the best man–that was creed enough.”
Mark Twain’s Autobiography (North American Review, Dec. 21, 1906)

C. Something everyone should read:

I recently ran across a letter to a parishioner written by a Baptist Minister of all people entitled “A Letter to Louise”(http://godmademegay.blogspot.com/p/letter-to-louise.html) that I recommend everyone should read. While its focus is a rebuttal to those individuals and religious leaders who condemn homosexuality as contrary to biblical lore, it is really an examination of the essence of morality.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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