This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Shadow 0002 (June 26,2013)

 

“destiny doesn’t do home visits,”
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz . The Prisoner of Heaven (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 204).

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Sometimes it feels like Thailand is more a prison than a refuge. I rarely get to talk to anyone anymore beyond necessary exchanges with people in stores and restaurants. LM speaks rudimentary english and I virtually no Thai so I spend most of my day reading bad novels. Some travel might help but I do not that much anymore. It has become too expensive and tiring. I could start hanging out in some of the local bars again. Unfortunately, they have become bad novels themselves. In addition to returning to Thailand for visa reasons, I had expected to spend the time baby-sitting Hayden. Alas, I am competing with the bright lights and excitement of the city and he has found many more ways to entertain himself than hanging out with a wheezy old ex-lawyer.

**********
Almost every morning for the past year or so during my swim at the health club another man did his laps alongside me. He appears to be a few years younger than me. He never smiles. For that matter neither do I. He breast strokes up and down the pool close to one of the sides. I swim more in the middle. He wears sunglasses as he swims. I have on goggles. We swim in silence. After finishing his swim, for the rest of the morning he lies on one of the lounges in the sun. I usually return to the locker room after about a five or ten minute rest. We have never spoken or acknowledged each others presence. I always thought of him as a lonely old man.

About a week ago when I arrived at the pool, I noticed him talking to another man, a guest at the hotel. The guest was accompanied by two Thai women who seemed to wait on him. Overhearing him speaking I guessed this other man was Irish. For about five days, whenever I went to swim, I saw the two of them standing in the water at the shallow end of the pool in animated conversation. My co-swimmer no longer swam his laps. He seemed happy and smiled a lot. Observing this, I thought perhaps that is what I am missing here. I need a friend. Someone to talk to and laugh with.

Bonding with another person may be, next to breathing and eating, a person’s most basic need. Some may think bonding has something to do with sex. You know, here in this case there are two guys happily spending time in each other’s company. Is there some overt or latent sexuality manifesting itself here? Actually, who cares how or with whom someone messages his or her sexual organs (except a few Republican Legislators and a a lot of priests, ministers and mullahs) or for that matter whether or not a person does it at all?

Yesterday he was back swimming laps. His Irish friend had left.

**********

This morning I woke up feeling as good as I have felt since January. It rained very hard last night, washing the ever-present pollution from the air. The air itself was thick and warm like on a pleasant summer day. The walk to the health club added to my sense of well-being. Most of he ladies and ladyboys of the morning I passed as I strolled along smiled and waved at me instead of calling out the irritating “massage?”, “Short Time?”. I expected that my swim itself would exhaust me and along with the coating of my lungs from the pollution as the incessant BKK traffic heated up eventually dampen my mood. By then the heat of the day would have grown too oppressive for life also. I assumed I would eventually stumble exhausted and depressed back to my apartment and crawl into bed.

That did not happen. I still felt good when I left the hotel. I decided to walk to Terminal 21, the seven or so floor shopping center nearby, to get a hard to come by ice cream soda. Each floor of the shopping center is named for a city, like Istanbul, Paris or Tokyo. San Francisco has two floors with a cable car teetering over the escalator and a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge spanning the open area between the two floors. The Swenson’s Ice Cream shop is located on one of the SF floors between the aisles designated Jackson and Ashbury.

After downing my drink I walked back home. The extra half mile to Terminal 21 and back did however tire me out. So I took a nap anyway.

**********

I Want to see what now has become my new favorite movie, The Sapphires, a low budget film that takes place in the late 1960′s. It is not great as movies go but it certainly brought tears to these old eyes. I am sure it means more to those like me who experienced that era. And also, I fell in love with Gail (Deborah Mailman) too.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. A murder most foul.
For the past week or so, the discovery of sensational murder and the political speculation surrounding it has gripped the media here in Thailand.

A billionaire (Thai baht) Thai business man was reported to have disappeared. The man had been convicted of and served time for fraud and for promoting ponzi-like schemes. He also was a vocal critic of another convicted felon, the ex-Prime Minister of Thailand who I have referred to in the past as Thaksin the Terrible. Thaksin the Terrible moreover is a fugitive, living in exile and also the brother of the current Prime Minister, Princess LuckyGirl.

Within a day of the billionaire scumbag’s reported disappearance, his driver was arrested. The driver immediately confessed that he murdered the tycoon in order to steal $150,000 that the victim had just withdrawn from his account. In Thai fashion, a massive media event was held starring the confessed killer surrounded by what looked like a thousand cops. The suspect led the hoards of police and trailing reporters and cameramen to the spot where the body was buried. There along with several other men he implicated, he re-enacted the gruesome crime for all the world to see.

As could be expected, the political party out of power led by the military coup installed previous prime minister Abhisit the Unready (and some think the Incapable), members of his party, and the attorney for the deceased scumbag all have suggested that somehow, Thaksin the Terrible, was behind the murder.

Now normally allegations of conspiracy like this I find as believable as Rambo movies. However, there may be more here than meets the eye or perhaps even less. The confessed murderer, obviously someone so dumb as to believe that as the last person to have seen the deceased before he went missing the police somehow would not immediately suspect him, nevertheless had the presence of mind to remove and destroy all the disks in the security cameras. In addition, he carefully arranged for co-conspirators to wait in the car to help him carry the body out of the house and bury it many miles away. Also, how the driver, a slender young man was able to single-handedly subdue and strangle a seemingly fit sixty year old has not been clearly explained. The re-enactment in front of the press was notably unconvincing. Finally, the deceased withdrew the $150,000 from his account only a few hours before he disappeared. No one seems to know why.

2. Voting:

The Thai constitution prohibits Buddhist monks and other religious officials from voting in national elections. It seems like a good idea to me.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

6. Problems and insights.

b. Problems raised by the psychiatric process.

I divided in my mind the patients brought before the intake panel into three categories. The first and by far the largest were the elderly poor suffering severe dementia who were found the night before abandoned and unable to care for themselves. In 1965 these elderly poor were immediately shipped out to spend the remainder of their lives in the massive state hospital complexes. The elderly, given their long term hospitalization, were gradually overwhelming the hospitals abilities to provide beds for treatment of anyone else.

In 1965 also Medicare passed in the Congress and was signed into law. We did not know it then, but ultimately it had a great deal to do with resolving the crisis. Medicare provided funds that allowed these same elderly to now be treated in private medical facilities. It effect Medicare transferred the cost of treating the elderly poor from State and local budgets to the Federal budgets and the care from public to private institutions.

MHIS was not set up to deal with this category of patient. Also, it was extremely rare that a receiving hospital, given the lack of beds, would not discharge an elderly patient still capable of expressing a desire to leave the hospital.

There was little I could do, other that urge the hospital’s social services staff to redouble their efforts to find family members who may wish to undertake care of the patient.

The second category were those patients I chose to call the “uninteresting.” They were those suffering symptoms that made them unresponsive, such as catatonics and those hallucinating visions of Jesus or angels and the like or other obsessive behaviors coupled with communication difficulties such as those caused by language, education or cultural impediments.

The third Category I called the “interesting group.” It was the smallest group.These patients were most often were suffering from some manifestation of a classical psychiatric category (sexual deviation or obsession, use of “crazy” behavior to protect their real crazy behavior [like believing they were someone actually else usually someone famous] and the like). These patients tended to be more educated, articulate and almost inevitably of trans-mountain, middle european, germanic or eastern european descent.

Since the receiving hospital was also a teaching hospital, those chosen to be admitted into that hospital received by far the best treatment and had the highest chance of a quick recovery. Inevitably those chosen to be admitted to the wards in the teaching hospital were from the “interesting group.” And, there was my problem. The quality of treatment was being apportioned, whether intentional or not, on racial, ethnic and other cultural grounds. The poor latinos often manifested their problems through visions of Christ standing at the foot of their bed. With Jesus in the room they rarely had interest in anything else and thus were sent to the state hospitals to be left mostly alone with their savior until he decided he, like the psychiatrists, had more rewarding things to do elsewhere.

Although it was not within the scope of my duties, I made it my goal to sensitize the medical administrative personnel the importance of exposing their students to the full range of pathologies thereby opening the better treatment programs to a broader range of ethnic and social groups. By the time I left the job, I felt satisfied that I had succeeded with this.

Patients in the interesting group were the also ones most likely to object to and request hearings on their incarceration. This prompted me to institute changes in the MHIS operating procedures to encourage more direct communication between MHIS personnel and patients on the wards.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Philip Marlowe: Oh, Eddie, you don’t have anybody watching me, do you? Tailing me in a gray Plymouth coupe, maybe?
Eddie Mars: No, why should I?
Philip Marlowe: Well, I can’t imagine, unless you’re worried about where I am all the time.
Eddie Mars: I don’t like you that well.

Chapter: 19

We arrived at IHOP about 10 minutes late. Martin Vihn had not yet arrived. I took a seat at a booth against the back wall and sat down facing the entrance. Joe slipped into the seat opposite me. A window was on my left through which I watched a man assemble a sidewalk stand. The waitress brought the menus. Joe got right down to studying it. I watched the man struggle with some pipes that held up an awning over his stand while I thought about my upcoming meeting with Vihn. My usual bouts with fear and uncertainty slithered through my mind like minks in heat. The worst part was wondering about what people, like Mavis or Fat Al would say if I was wrong and died. I imagined something like, “What on earth possessed him to take such a risk.” Last night I thought I had good and compelling reasons, but now I realized they were mere rationalizations for whatever was so deeply imbedded in my psyche that impelled me to act as I did.

Nothing new in that, I have become convinced most of the reasons we tell ourselves that we need to do something have little to do with why we do whatever it is we end up doing. They are merely a handy thing, whenever we are successful, to tell ourselves and others. You know, “I knew what I was doing all along.”

Joe brought me out of my musings. “I’m having the Belgian waffles. What about you?”

“I’ll probably have the blueberry short stack and fried eggs. For some reason I always get the same thing when I come here.”

Martin Vihn entered the restaurant followed by two of the young men I had seen before. One was dressed like Joe in tee-shirt and windbreaker. The other had on a dark hoodie. Martin had on a dark blue jacket over a white button down shirt and jeans. He came over to our table.

“Sorry I’m late. Traffic and parking”

Joe slid out from his seat. Said, “I’ll sit with Vinnie and Chang.” He walked over to the table where the other two young men who accompanied Vihn sat. Vu’s arrival prompted a lot of laughing and fist bumping.
Martin nodded to him and sat in the seat Joe vacated. The waitress arrived and we ordered. She then went over to the table where Joe and the others sat.

“Any word from the police on the cause of Clarence’s death?”, he asked.

“The autopsy scheduled for later this morning. The cops are being close-mouthed.”

“How do you think he died?”

“I’m not paid to guess.”

Martin rarely raises his voice but his anger blazed out of his eyes like campfire embers poked with a stick. “I’m paying you and if it is your opinion I want than then it is your opinion I’ll get.”

“He could have been walking along the shore reciting poetry tripped and fallen into the bay and drowned. I doubt whether it makes much or a difference to anyone how he died, even to the murderer, if he was murdered.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I can’t see you shipping drugs or anything else illegal this way. By reputation, you’ve been able to bring thing like that into the States with no problems in the past. There’s too many better ways. Dropping packages into the water offshore at night, trans-shipping through Alaska. Even if you were to do something like this, certainly not through the Port of Oakland. There are other less watched small ports like Eureka and Redwood City. So, I can’t figure you for something like a dope deal in this case. So, I ask myself, although he is such a prick I am sure a lot of people would like him dead, why would anyone involved in this case kill Clarence? Then there is the hiring of me. It can’t be all that important to hire a second rate shamus like me.” I stopped there and stared at him.

Martin’s silence lasted a long time as he stared at me. Our orders arrived before he answered and we began eating. After swallowing his first bite, Martin sat back and said:

“Look, whatever you think I may also be mixed up in, I am also a legitimate business man. I invested in a business to import into America furniture made in south east asia. Now the man who talked me into the investment and was supposed to manage the business is gone along with he merchandise.”

“But even so, two containers of furniture could not have been valuable enough for all your interest, not to mention knocking off Reilly if in fact he was killed.”

“You figured it out already. You’re cheap. I only spent $1000 dollars so far.”

“What about Joe?”

Vihn looked down at the table for a while. “He’s my brother’s son. I care about him. He refuses to go to college and is too interested in the wrong part of the family business. I thought following you around a while would help to get him interested in something else. That was a spur of the moment thing, I’m afraid.

“So you hired me as a babysitter?”

“A thousand dollars a month is pretty cheap for baby sitting these days,”
he said with a smile.

We ate our breakfasts in silence. Over coffee I assured him, I will try to find out how Reilly died and what happened to the furniture.

I then asked, “What’s Lilly’s role in this?”

“She’s my lawyer.”

“Nothing else.”

“It’s none of your business.”

I smiled, got up, collected Joe and left Vihn to pay the check.

On the way back to the car, I called Mavis. Told her that I would come by that afternoon and that we were going to attend Reilly’s wake.

For some reason the thought of Mavis, death and my current role got me ruminating about God and humor, God’s humor to be precise.

Humans are a fascinating species. I am convinced God created us because he or she (I refuse to take sides on the issue of God’s gender — although the Good Humor Man of my youth was always male) found presiding over the rest of the universe dreadfully dull and craved some amusement. While growing up I always thought that God was the Good Humor man. Every afternoon the Good Humor man rang his bells in front of my house. The sound of those bells filled me with hope. Would your God do as much for you?

I was pulled from my reveries by Joe shouting “Boss, boss!’

I stared at him as the world around me came into focus.

“Is there something wrong? You were talking on the phone and then you just stopped staring off at nothing. Are you OK? You thinking about the case? “

“Yeah. I’m OK. Rule whatever number… in private investigations there are no cases only assignments. And your current assignment is to find us some ice cream and drive me to Crissy Field.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Biblical Family Values:

“Look, I have two daughters, virgins both of them. Let me bring them out to you and you could do what you like with them. But do nothing to these men because they have come under the shelter of my roof.”
11. Genesis 19:8

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

Pill v Condom

The pill is almost exclusively a birth control device. A condom is primarily protection against STD. It also protects against conception.

The Pill is used by women to prevent unwanted conception freeing them to enjoy other aspects of their life. A condom allows a man to resist STD and avoid the bother of child support payments.

The Pill liberates women. Condoms do the same for men.

Condoms are sold over the counter in almost every drugstore in America. Women need a doctor’s prescription to buy the Pill.

Certain Republican and conservative legislators have proposed legislation making it more difficult for woman to learn about and to purchase the Pill. There has been no legislation proposed that I know of that requires a man to get a prescription to buy a condom or that prohibits anyone from teaching him how to put on a rubber.

C. What Shakespeare should have written:

“The quality of mercy isn’t worth as much as it used to.”
Trenz Pruca

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Banks always win.

The mere hint that the US Federal Reserve may at some unknown time in the future take actions that may cause a minuscule rise in the interest rates on US federal debt, caused equities markets around the world to crash as investors removed their money for possible reinvestment in the US treasury paper. As a result the exchange rates on many countries plunged in relation to the dollar.

In Thailand the exchange rate increased from 28 baht to the dollar to about 32 to the dollar (almost 10%) putting pressure on the liquidity of the Thai banks. The banks were unperturbed. In retaliation or in order to maintain the lifestyles of its managers, they reduced the amount of money that can be withdrawn at an ATM using an American issued credit or debit card from about $700 per transaction to $350 per transaction and increased the fee for the transaction from $5 per transaction to $6. Thus increasing their fee revenue for a $700 transaction almost 150%.

Of course my more conservative ex-pat friends probably will blame it all on Obama because I surmise they believe Banks being the private guardians of capitalism and free enterprise (their free exercise not yours) can be trusted to voluntarily act in the public interest when not subject to government interference especially when that government is run by a black, non-citizen socialist.

They have a point, not about black, non citizen, socialists but about government interference in this case. If the Bush administration had just let all the banks fail in 2008 and plunge the world into a depression rivaling the crash of 1929, the banks would have gone out of business and much of the financial industry splattered on the cement of Wall Street, leaving the rest of us free to try to figure out how to get most of us back to work and not worry about whether some bankers kid can afford the tuition at Amherst.

Yes, the black, non citizen, socialist ultimately went along with it. Proving thereby not only is he a true American political leader, and ardent Capitalist but a Democrat as well. Alas, he is only half-black.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I read an article once that said that when women have a conversation, they’re communicating on five levels. They follow the conversation that they’re actually having, the conversation that is specifically being avoided, the tone being applied to the overt conversation, the buried conversation that is being covered only in subtext, and finally the other person’s body language. That is, on many levels, astounding to me. I mean, that’s like having a freaking superpower. When I, and most other people with a Y chromosome, have a conversation, we’re having a conversation.”
Butcher, Jim (2012-11-27). Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (pp. 346-347).
TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1371

Harley Haystack Hayden (H’s new self chosen name) at the health club pool.

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 30 Jo Jo 0002 (June 14,2013)

 

 

What Shakespeare should have written:

“First let’s kill all the bankers, the lawyers will then die of starvation.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Hayden arrived from Italy on Sunday, we spent the next two days together. We stayed at the Federal Hotel on Soi 11 so he could be nearer to SWAC and her mother and sister while we decided whether or not we would travel south to Phattalung in order to stay a week at our home there. Unfortunately all the flights and train accommodations were full for the next week so the trip was cancelled. Hayden has spent the last few nights with his old nanny at her house.

**********

I have spent the entire week wrestling with exhaustion and depression, perhaps for no other reason than a lingering cold or some other malady. Whatever it is, I feel like I am transitioning from the world of the merely aging to that of the truly aged.

**********

A few days ago Hayden and I ran into Gary and Pui and their son Gary II too. Gary is a Canadian and Pui is Tai. I have known Pui for almost as long as I have known SWAC. Pui lived with us briefly in SF. I no longer remember if she and Gary met in SF or in Thailand. They own a spa here that provides massage, nail and other cosmetic services. Gary tells me that there are Hockey leagues in Thailand and he plays in a senior league.

***********

This issue of T&T seems to me to be obscenely long and made up mostly of my rants. As usual, most of them range somewhere between bullshit and barely interesting. As I look it over again, the only thing I can recommend as worth reading, beside the amusing story of American family lost in my neighborhood here, is the note containing the long Jared Diamond quote.

I am quite fond of Diamond, the scientist and birder turned historian. Back when I was getting my degree in History we only studied the history of politics and male blood lust. Few if anyone then recognized that Darwin was perhaps a greater historian than scientist. My classmate, that fortunate child Winston Churchill, mentioned that physics, his major, was, after one learned some rudimentary mathematics, only history.

Perhaps that was why I rejected my scholarship advisors pleas that I major in physics also. I wonder what my life would have been like If I were now a 73-year-old ex-physicist living on social security rather than an aged un-employed attorney? But life is like that. First you scream in terror of the light and then you end cringing in fear of the darkness.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Soi Arab in Bangkok, between the Sukhumvit 3 a...

Soi Arab in Bangkok, between the Sukhumvit 3 and 5 roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Tourist Family Safely Returned To Thailand After Harrowing Night On Soi 3 — 4 Jun 2013

NANA – An American family of visiting tourists has been safely brought back to Thai soil after being lost for four hours in the lower Sukhumvit area, police reported yesterday.

The Waldens, comprising James, 43, his wife Meredith, 41, and their children Didi, 13, and Zachary, 9, were reported in healthy condition at Bumrungrad Hospital after an examination following their escape from the international territory known colloquially as “soi Arab.”

“It was the most frightening experience of our lives,” said a visibly shaken James. “One minute we’re in Thailand, enjoying our vacation, and then suddenly we’re in some other country full of Middle Eastern people, West Africans, and Indians. It was like something out of a bad science fiction movie.”

According to police, the Waldens accidental departure from Thailand began when they left their hotel, the Landmark, at 8pm to look for what they had been told was a good place for wood-fired pizza. Mistaking soi Loet Sin 2 for what they thought was soi 11, the family walked deep into a dark neighborhood of construction sites.

“Jim insisted we were on the right street but I knew something was wrong right away when we turned the corner and saw all those Indian restaurants,” said Meredith. “It just felt wrong.”

The family then wandered down soi 5 and attempted to enter Gullivers Pub, only to be pushed out by a brawl that was erupting between a drunken pack of British football fans and a hostile group of Israeli backpackers.

“I didn’t see any Thai people, anywhere,” noted Didi.

The Waldens then fled into the Nailert Foodland Plaza, where they became disoriented trying to find their way out again. Exiting a fire escape onto an alleyway, they then worked their way deeper into the warren of sub-sois that led to soi 3/1.

“Everyone around us was African,” said James. “We might as well have been in Africa. And I’ve never seen so many sandal shops in my life.”

After attempting in vain to find anyone who spoke either English or Thai, the Waldens spent 20 minutes working their way through a maze of leather stores, travel agencies, and sheesha pipe exporters, only to emerge on soi 3/1, where they were confronted by a bazaar of Middle Eastern and South Asian restaurants, women in burkhas, and men in robes and turbans.

“Poor Zach was so shocked that he just started shouting out ‘Terrorists! Terrorists!’” said Meredith. “We had to cover his mouth. It was embarrassing. Actually it was scary. People were staring at us, so I just grabbed the kids and went down the nearest alleyway.”

Emerging onto soi 3, the Waldens encountered “about 300” prostitutes of Middle Eastern and Russian origin, whose “huge asses” made it impossible to walk on the pavement towards Sukhumvit. Forced to go the other way, the family tried to ask for directions from one of the Thai vendors selling sex toys on the streetside.

“There were, like, a million vibrators and dildos,” recalled Didi. “That was like all they sold. It was gross.”

Unfortunately, every Thai vendor they encountered turned out to be deaf, and only gestured at the family using hand signs and large Casio calculators. Now completely terrified, the Waldens cut through an Ethiopian restaurant and fled into what appeared to be a large international hotel, the Grace.

“That was the worst place in the world,” said Meredith. “Like a nightmare, like a Twilight Zone episode. Every time we asked for directions it felt like we were interrupting an arms deal.”

The Waldens spent the next 90 minutes lost in the various areas within the Grace, including the bowling alley (“The balls weren’t even round”), the basement coffee shop (“The pit of hell”), and the mirrored casbah disco (“Men dancing with other men, but they were too ugly to be gay.”)

Around midnight the Waldens were finally rescued by a sympathetic transvestite named Pinki, who took them to the street, hailed a taxi, and instructed the driver how to get back to their hotel in Thailand. Once there, the hotel concierge noted their agitated state and called the hospital and the police.

The Waldens are expected to be released today, and have expressed optimism that they can complete their Thai holiday without incident. However, they have been warned to avoid the Nana area, as well as instructed not to enter the Thonglor area without first learning some basic Japanese.

(Thanks to Gary [Pattaya Gary, not Canadian Gary] for this bit of humor.

Alas, this is the pretty much the neighborhood in which I choose live while here in Thailand. Every morning I wander through it on my way to the health club on Soi 11. I eat breakfast at Foodland, check out the newest vibrator models in the sidewalk stands nearby, window shop for the latest designs in rhinestone encrusted sandals and get my haircut at the barbershop in the Grace Hotel. Although it has been years since I have observed the running of the bulls at Gulliver’s, I still find myself at times forced off the sidewalk by the generously hipped ladies of the night making one last morning troll before retiring. And, I’m sure Pinki is the name of that pretty ladyboy who always invites me to enjoy the best massage in Bangkok whenever I walk by.)

2. A Report from the Front Line in the Battle Against Global Warming:

In an effort slow the escalating release into the earths atmosphere of the serious sunlight absorbing gas, methane, in 2003 the government of New Zealand proposed a flatulence tax. It was not adopted because of public protest.

3. Educational innovation:

The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s major english language newspaper, featured an article regarding the pride that the Thai education agencies take in their elementary school program to teach students the proper way to use western style toilets.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

6. Problems and insights.

After attending the morning intake meetings a few times, I recognized two problems that I would have to deal with. The first was that something seemed wrong with the whole psychiatric process and the second was that no one liked a representative of the MHIS being there.

a. the psychiatric process. From the beginning of the development of psychoanalytical theory at the end of the 19th Century with its a priori categorizations of mental processes, an elementary concern hovered over the profession. As one of the more distinguished doctors in the hospital put it, “Essentially, we cannot determine whether we psychiatrists helped the patients at all or whether they got better on their own.”

Only a few years before this, a discovery was made that fundamentally changed how mental illness was to be treated. The administration of certain drugs (among the first was lithium) seemed to miraculously relieve some of the worst manifestations of mental illness, conditions that up until then often were considered incurable.

The use of this therapy was slow to be adopted because no one at that time really knew how the drugs worked. In addition, they often seemed to replace the illness with drug induced torpor. It also was difficult to maintain the pharmaceutical regime with patients who tended to forget or refuse to take their medicines once beyond the control of the hospital. And perhaps most significantly, it shredded the fundamental assumptions of the psychiatric practice without replacing it with alternatives. As for the latter, in essence, pharmacological psychiatry was a serious threat to the growth of the psychiatric treatment industry. Many highly trained individuals felt threatened.

At the intake meetings in a major urban psychiatric hospital this basic problem with psychiatry appeared evident to me, if not in terms of technically understanding it, then at least in terms experiencing elementary discomfort with what I saw.

!n 1965 as it had been for the past 100 years, severe mental illness was most often seen as a disease of the mind expressed in a bewildering array of categories and concepts over which psychiatrists of various schools could endlessly fight, much like economists do today. At least that was an improvement over the claims of demonic possession and moral turpitude that had been the common belief before then.

What was beginning to become clear by the early fifties however was that what was referred to as mental illness was most likely a defect of some sort in the brain and not in the mind, which had always been imagined as something like a soul hovering somewhere between physical reality and somewhere else.

We all know now, for example, that when we see the color red, what we actually see is photons or waves of different frequencies that strike a few nerve endings (usually of three distinct types) then flash through a few nerves connecting the eye to the brain. There the brain integrates all this into a cohesive image we call Red. If something upsets the eye (cataracts), nerve endings (genetic predisposition to color-blindness) or the brain itself (trauma, genetic issues or chemicals and drugs) we may not see red at all. In fact, as certain hallucinogenic drugs have shown, one may “see” almost anything from melting colors and shapes to ghosts and even as has been reported hearing colors as well. Some people are frightened when the brain fails to integrate the signals from the eye, like those experiencing a bad trip on LSD. Others like Monet or El Greco translate it into great art.

In 1965, even before the host of drug therapies became widespread, it was beginning to become clear that in most cases, certainly in the most severe cases of mental illness requiring hospitalization, the brain itself had suffered some trauma, genetic, physical, chemical, or whatever that was causing these symptoms. Environmental or social experiences then mediated how they were expressed or whether they were even expressed at all. In other words, just like with colors, the brains function to integrate the information into a sense of regularity and consistency failed.

Patients vacuumed up off the streets the night before the intake meeting because they appeared incapable of caring for themselves were brought to the hospital’s emergency room. Only the most severely distressed of them were admitted into the hospital wards where the next morning they were brought before the intake panel. After dividing out the elderly and those suffering chemical caused dementia, almost all of those remaining had one thing in common, terror. Some shutdown, others screamed and still others lashed out, but they all were tormented by something beyond their ability to handle it.

Imagine, if you will, walking down the street on the sidewalk and everything disappears into a black pit. Well, that is akin to what the patients experienced. The brain is supposed to provide a person the sense the world is reasonably regular and reliable at least as to the things we normally experience every day. Although we may intellectually know for example that the sidewalk beneath out feet is mostly empty space, our brain integrates our senses and memories and assures us we will not fall through. For whatever reason the patients brains are not presenting them with the underlying experiences of the physical world that we all assume are reliable and they panic.

Of course, with the prevalence of psychopharmacology today we rarely see this occur anymore even in the emergency rooms of major urban hospitals today. If the slightest evidence of this pathology is suspected, even if it manifests itself in early childhood, appropriate drugs are prescribed to correct whatever imbalances exist allowing in many cases healing to occur so that eventually the drugs are no longer needed. Even as it was then with hospitalization as the only therapy, the sooner following evidence of the pathology the patient is treated, the briefer was the time needed for recovery.

In 1965, however, there were more potential patients then there were beds available even with the huge mental hospital complexes that existed in the State of New York.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: So you’re a private detective. I didn’t know they existed, except in books, or else they were greasy little men snooping around hotel corridors. My, you’re a mess, aren’t you?
Philip Marlowe: I’m not very tall either. Next time I’ll come on stilts wear a white tie and carry a tennis racket.
Vivian: I doubt if even that will help.

Chapter: 18

I was awakened by the screeching doorbell. I had hoped it was Mavis bringing me café latte, donuts and some after dinner sweets. It was not. It was Joe Vu.

“Hiya Boss. You’re gonna be late. You look like hell. Nice place you got here,” he added as he walked by me into the loft.

“Did you bring the coffee and donuts? I can do without the sweets.”

“Huh”

“Never mind.”

Joe puttered around the house while I showered and dressed. We left and got into the car. It was a big black Lincoln.

“We’re downscale today,” I commented.

“Martin is using the Lexus.”

“How many cars does he have?”

“Lots, he collects them.”

“I saw the movie,” he added as we drove away from the curb.

“Movie?”

“Yeah, The Big Sleep, with Bogart and Bacall that you told me to watch. I don’t know about that Bacall, skinny bitch, no tits or ass.”

“They liked them like that then. Skinny ment rich and elegant. Today we still do skinny, but we add the tits and the butts, often fake ones, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Zaftig is out in the modern world.”

“I couldn’t figure anything out. Who killed the chauffeur and Rogan? And why was everything so dark? I liked the car though.

” Yeah, it was a sweet Plymouth. Nobody knows who killed the chauffeur or Rogan, not the guy that wrote the story, not the director of the movie and certainly not the actors. Life is like that and so is the private investigation business. Sometimes, hell most times, you simply do not know what happened and never will. And, just like in the movie, it probably doesn’t matter.

As for the dark and the shadows, in films and books that’s called noir. It’s French for dark. Dark shadows, dark thoughts and dark deeds. It’s not like real life at all. Everyone likes light in their life. If it gets too dark they go to sleep. Even bad things are usually done in the light, behind closed doors and in secret perhaps, but the lights are usually on.”

“So, I guess it was like the last one you had me watch, there’s nothing in the movie to learn about bring a private eye?”

“No, in this one there is a lot to learn and remember. For example, you’re never hired by people who have to choose between food and you. It’s always someone who has a some spare cash around. They can spend it on you or a new piece of matched luggage. It’s all the same to them. So make sure you get paid. Up front if you can.

The movie also tells you, don’t work at night. Its dangerous. Sometimes you have to work at night. Like when you’re sitting in your car with your camera watching, hoping to catch client’s husband disappearing into the motel. Still, in the world of private detecting or in life itself, nooners are safer or right after work. Late night trysts interfere with your sleep and should be avoided. Always try to charge more for night work.

Also, if your client has a good-looking daughter, sleeping with her makes the job more interesting. And if he has two, and you have to choose, choose the skinny one.

And finally never, ever have dealings with someone named Eddie Mars.”

“You’re very sick, boss. Why the skinny one?”

“I don’t know. It is one of life’s mysteries.”

We arrived at the IHOP at Fisherman’s Wharf where I was to meet Martin Vihn. We spent a good 15 minutes or so looking for a parking space. We found one half way to North Beach. We walked down the boring part of Columbus to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was chilly as it normally is in the mornings near the water. The swimmers from the Dolphin Club, their little shower caps peeking above the frigid waters near Hyde Pier had already completed most of their laps. The tourists, still drowsy, were beginning to arrive hoping to be amazed. The tee-shirt shops and souvenir stands were open and ready. As we turned toward the IHOP, a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge lit up by the morning sunlight gleamed over my left shoulder. There may often be fog in San Francisco, and like everywhere else people die here in mysterious circumstances, but to me noir was only something the City wore to a masquerade.

DAILY FACTOID:

A Golden Age?

montgomery-ward-1

(We who lived through the last half of the 20th Century undoubtedly have experienced one of the world’s greatest golden ages. However, the significance of the productivity multiples listed on the chart above needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The only productivity gains that really matter are in those related to food, energy [energy productivity gains are missing -- how much more or less does it cost to travel a mile today than in 1900?] and health services. The food productivity increases are notably less robust than those experienced in the reproduction of Horatio Alger books. Also, almost all the significant gains in all categories listed in the chart occurred after WWII and based upon statistics for the first 14 years of the 21st Century those rates of growth in many areas are diminishing. In the case of food for example, the so called Productivity Multiple since 2000 actually has been decreasing.

Even in health services, despite the great advances in treatment during the past 50 or so years, their costs for similarly effective treatments has increased dramatically in the past few years so that in all too many cases the time-to-earn number is growing. Also with the emergence of antibiotic resistant diseases and a spate of new environmentally based maladies it is still up in the air as to whether the advances in health sciences will continue at the same pace and whether they will be affordable if they do.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

screen shot 2013-04-22 at 3.38.42 am

(Contrary to popular belief, at least since the Korean War US Federal Government spending [including welfare and Social Security], like budget deficits and the national debt, generally increased during Republican Administrations [except during the Eisenhower Administration] and usually fell during Democratic ones. The reasons for this vary and are often highly political. For example, during their periods in power Republicans generally lower certain taxes [most often on the wealthy and for rent seeking activities], while increasing governmental expenditures [usually by large increases in defense spending or in expanding direct transfers of federal revenue to states]. This produces a temporary appearance of prosperity, but over the long run the lowering of revenue and the maintenance or increase in expenditures leads inevitably to larger deficits and debts especially during those periods of prosperity when debts and deficits should be reduced.

Democrats, however, inheriting these increased deficits and debts, as well as criticism from the Party that created them that the promised expenditures upon which the Democrats ran for office would further increase those debt obligations, generally begin their administrations attempting to increase revenue [usually from those who benefitted from the other Party's largess] or by cutting programs, usually those favored by the other Party [like Defense]. Proving once again that Democrats are wusses.

In any event, that’s not the problem. There is plenty of tax money received by the federal government to pay for the ever shrinking share of governmental revenues dedicated to things like defense and other discretionary expenses that the politicians like to fight over. It is the growth of transfer payments and not the shrinking share of revenue dedicated to general federal government operations, that appears at first to be a potentially serious problem.

Three of the largest components of the transfer payment or non-discretionary portion of the federal budget are, Social Security disbursements, transfers to state and local governments and various costs associated with health care.

Since 1970, US real GDP has grown a little more than three times more than it was then. Social Security payments, perhaps the largest component of transfer payments during this same time have increased more or less by the same amount [meaning its percentage of GDP has remained relatively stable].

Transfers to state and local governments on the other hand have exploded from almost nothing in 1965 to become, next to SS and Defense, the largest component of federal spending not included in the discretionary portion of the budget [The red, blue and green lines].

A major source of this huge growth occurred when the Nixon and Reagan Administration packaged many existing federal programs [such as housing and many welfare programs] into automatic transfers of tax revenues back to the states and local governments [this is partially why the poorly run State governments, primarily in the South, receive so much more federal revenue than they contribute in taxes]. This effectively put that money outside of the budget cutting debate, because no elected official likes to cut money received by his state; entitlements, if you will, that allow the state to balance its budget without raising taxes. [That Democrats went along with this dodge to fund state governments from federal revenue, further cements their reputation as the wuss party.]

The last major component of the non-discretionary spending that has grown significantly has been in health care. Independent of the issue of who is covered to receive health care and who is not, it is to try to control these costs that comprise a major goal of Obamacare. It is these cost control provisions and not the coverage provisions that those who can afford to directly oppose the program really most object to. Recall that the medicare drug program passed by the Bush administration was a direct redistribution of taxpayer funds to the drug industry without any cost controls. Obamacare thanks to the efforts of both Republican and Democratic legislators ended some of the most egregious aspects of that legislation.

Republicans are especially hesitant to curtail or eliminate transfer payments to their states [after all this was a tremendous victory for political expediency over policy]. Democrats feel the same way about Social Security. They both, until Obamacare came along, have been reluctant to take on the Health Services industry.)

B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

For those who pay attention to such things, in the last chapter of Enter The Dragon, Dragon had told Joe Vu to watch To Have and To Have Not. I made a mistake I ment The Big Sleep. Sorry.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Historically, Populism like most mass movements scours up both the worst and the best in a society as it scrapes across its depths. It is prompted by a deep mistrust of a community’s most powerful individuals and institutions who, its adherents believe, have misused and mishandled the trust they had been granted, violated the social contract if you will. As the indefatigable realist Machiavelli pointed out; ‘on the broad areas of public policy the general populace is almost always more reliable than the elite.’”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY’S CHART:

Chart_on_the_97.5_

(It never ceases to amaze me that I still am inundated by communications from those who, I suspect, decided to disbelieve the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change and search for something, anything, that agrees with their bias usually written by someone with the title of Dr. or Professor before his or her name. I surmise that before distributing the propaganda they never bothered to check to find out if the person is actually an expert in the field or if anyone who is, agrees with him.

One of the most recent missives refers to someone, whose name preceded by Dr. [area of expertise undetermined], who promotes the long discredited claim that vulcanism is responsible for all or most of the elevated carbon found in the earth’s atmosphere today.

The slightest bit of research would reveal that the carbon emitted by every eruption since records have been kept are included in most of the models developed by the scientists upon which the evidence for global warming are based. Did those people who blindly passed on the report without thinking about it actually believe that all the scientists who produced the 50,000 or so peer-reviewed articles confirming climate change just happened to overlook a major carbon source such as volcanos in their calculations?

Now in fairness to all the parties involved in the climate change controversy, I must admit that I have my own conspiracy theory on the matter to promote.

Since the beginning of the 19th Century when accurate meteorological records began to be kept, world population has grown to be more than six times larger than it was then. Today there are six billion more people alive than there were then. Yet the PPM concentration of carbon in the atmosphere [the claimed major factor in global warming.] has increased only by about 50%. Does this mean that had we maintained the population levels of 200 years ago, despite industrialization, the amount of green house gasses in the atmosphere would have remain static and perhaps even decreased? And, if so isn’t birth control the solution now?

If my speculation is accurate, then the mystery is why isn’t the birth control solution at the top of everyone’s agenda? I expect for the environmental community it is because to do so it would threaten to diminish their obsessive focus on industrial regulation. For conservatives it would mean accepting and promoting what to them is morally hateful; birth control, abortion and woman’s liberation. For the business community it means refocusing from supplying existing products to an expanding customer base, to the much more difficult task of creating new wants among existing buyers.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a quote by the economist Brad DeLong that I included in T&T a few weeks ago:

“Only with the coming of female literacy and artificial means of birth control can a society maintain both a slowly-growing or stable population and a substantial edge in median standard of living over subsistence.” *

And, it is equally appropriate for me to urge once more something I have advocated time and time again here in many T&T posts and in a number of blogs that the sooner the instruments of power in society world-wide are turned over to women, the more likely it is that we can avoid the Armageddon that may be rushing towards us.

* Note: Recent archeological evidence seems to indicate that it is overpopulation within certain pockets of hunter gatherers that led to the discovery of farming and that the resulting agricultural communities suffered a substantial decline in their caloric intake and general health as compared to the hunter gatherers that remained in the area.

According to Jared Diamond:

“There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early farmers obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops… Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed. Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease…

Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing élite set itself above the disease-ridden masses…

Farming could support many more people than hunting, albeit with a poorer quality of life. (Population densities of hunter-gatherers are rarely over on person per ten square miles, while farmers average 100 times that.) Partly, this is because a field planted entirely in edible crops lets one feed far more mouths than a forest with scattered edible plants. Partly, too, it’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it’s old enough to keep up with the adults. Because farm women don’t have that burden, they can and often do bear a child every two years…”)

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1350

Waiting for the bus.

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Jo Jo 0002 (June 8, 2013)

 

Happy 95th Birthday Mom

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Today was my mom’s 95th birthday. I regret I was not able to be there to share it with her.

DSCN0841

**********

The rains have arrived in SE Asia. They begin at about mid-day and continue on and off through the evening. I go to the health club in the early mornings so that I can get my swim in before the downpour starts. Some, mostly Western, members of the club have taken to swimming during the rain (“Swimming in the Rain” was the title of a little known movie set in Seattle starring Jonny Weissmuller and Esther Williams). The health club staff advises against that. They say that the pool could be struck by lightning and boil the swimmers like lobsters in a pot. I believe that is far less likely in BKK than getting hit by a motor-bike taxi while walking along one of the City’s sidewalks, or for that matter, falling through those same sidewalks and disappearing forever into the foetid sewers underneath.

After the rains the air becomes heavy with warm moisture. The smells from the innumerable sidewalk food stands mingles with the stench risings from the sewers until I feel as though I am bathing in a bowl of week-old bouillabaisse.

**********

Most of my life I feared my tendency to become addicted to certain obsessive behaviors. That is why, for example, I rarely kept liquor or dope in my house although I freely indulged in them outside. For the most part whenever I would recognize (and recognition is the key since, like most people, my first defense was usually denial) the addiction I would quit. For example, when I was in my early teens I was addicted to chess (I was not particularly good at it but I was addicted none the less). I would play day and night. When I recognized the nature of my behavior, in panic I quit. Since then I only play now and then when social circumstances made refusal difficult. Perhaps that is one reason I tend to quit jobs and relationships as often as I do (the obsessive tendencies, not the chess).

One passion that I never really quit is reading. During my most recent bout of mania, I read about six or so hours a day. What’s worse is that I am not even comfortable or relaxed while reading. It would be nice if I had, say, a recliner to lie in where after a few moments I could fall into asleep and drool. Instead, I sit at the edge of my bed or on an uncomfortable kitchen chair engrossed with whatever trashy novel I may be reading. LM, whenever she comes to cook or clean, finds it bizarre to see me sitting rigid and unmoving for four hours or so at a time.

It surprised me then when, following weeks of worry that I was sinking into addiction, I found an author whose books for some reason satisfied me enough to halt my frenetic reading and to wait for his next effort .

By no means can this author be considered great or even semi-great. He is simply someone who writes a fairly interesting story with an easy style and has a mind like a junk yard. I like that a lot. I love authors that can comfortably integrate those bits and pieces of things found in his own mental junkyard into his tale. Perhaps that is why I always liked James Joyce despite his so-called “difficulty.” I always thought he was more boring than difficult. I enjoyed how he would pull things in from almost everywhere in literature, hide it within his story and challenge you to find it. Now, why he would hide things like that I never really understood. If someone found a carburetor from a 1956 Mercury in his junk yard, why would he hide it or call it something else unless he was trying to trick or play a joke on someone. I know Joyce is said to have once commented that if something took him 10 years or so to write he would want the reader to spend the same amount of time trying to understand it. How’s that for self-indulgent bullshit? I suspect Joyce was a bit of a poseur.

The James Joyce Martello tower at Sandycove, C...

The James Joyce Martello tower at Sandycove, County Dublin, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He must have felt quite insecure walking by the Martello Tower along the Strand with its grey water and overcast sky (The sun does not shine very often in Dublin, the Strand is the pits and the tower an unimposing dump). I have a feeling it was not just the lack of sunshine and the dull grey colors of the landscape that set him to brooding. I think he was depressed because he knew that in just about every pub within a mile or so from where he was walking there would be several people dead drunk with their heads down on a table, an empty glass of Guinness or half and half beside him who, upon being shaken awake, could rattle off at least a dozen or more stories and tales far more interesting, poetic and inventive than Joyce could ever dream of.

**********

Hayden arrives in BKK tomorrow after spending a week or so in Italy. It makes me both happy and anxious. Happy because I missed him, anxious because now I have to focus on his needs to the extent that I am aware of them.

**********

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

4. My Assignment.

I was placed in charge of mental hospitals in Bronx, Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. My job was to monitor patient intake into the system, provide the patients with information about their rights and to make myself available to assist them in understanding and exercising those rights. I also staffed the hearings held in the hospitals to adjudicate patient objections to involuntary incarceration. Although the area I covered was quite large, my job was made easier by the fact that the major receiving hospital for the area was Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. It was from Jacobi that patients processed there every day were distributed to the State Hospitals in the area.

As far as Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties were concerned, because of their substantially lower population densities and greater wealth, very much fewer involuntary patients were admitted into the hospitals located there.

In the mornings I attended the patient intake meetings at Jacobi. In the afternoons I toured the wards of the various hospitals. After a few months I was also assigned ward duty at the massive Manhattan State Hospital that occupied much of an island in the East River and Bellevue and its wing containing the criminally insane wards.

About once a week, I attended hearings, usually in Jacobi but sometime in other hospitals, at which the claims of the patients objecting to their incarceration were heard. The hearings were presided over by a judge from one of the trial courts in the district. I prepared a brief for the court on each case and was available to answer any questions that may arise.

5. Civil Liberties v Civil Libertarians.

The MHIS law was promoted by those concerned with protecting citizens from illegal or unnecessary incarceration whether civil or criminal. I am sure that many believed that civil involuntary incarcerations should not exist at all, but if they did exist then they were adamant that the procedures proscribed in law must be scrupulously adhered to. Sometimes, in my opinion, civil libertarians placed too great a reliance on the procedures of law courts to protect civil liberties. As a result they often confused access to those procedures with the civil liberties themselves. This manifested itself in at least two ways during my tenure with MHIS.

The first was to conflate the right of speedy access to a courtroom with the right to effective medical treatment. For example, no matter where one comes down in the debate about whether or not mental illness exists or the accuracy of standard psychological categories, when someone finds somebody lying in the gutter in a catatonic state unable to respond, almost everyone would agree that person should be brought directly to a hospital emergency room rather than dumped into a jail cell to await the determination by a non-medically trained individual such as a judge as to whether or not medical treatment is warranted.

This issue actually arose early in the MHIS existence. A woman was found on the Staten Island Ferry standing on the rail threatening to jump into the water. The cop on the scene managed to prevent the woman from jumping and then took her to the hospital where she could be examined and treated if need be. The more doctrinaire attorneys on the MHIS staff objected arguing that we should bring an action against the police officer in the name of the woman because as one of them put it, it was our job to eliminate discretion on the part of the police and that if she were taken directly to the jail she would be brought to court the next morning rather than the 48 to 72 hours it would take for a hearing to be arranged were she admitted into a hospital.

I opposed them making the following arguments:

1. It was not our job to monitor police procedures but to focus on the welfare of the patients.
2. There is a vast difference between imposing stringent procedures and protocols on public safety personnel that I supported and removing all discretion from them, which I did not.
3. The person was a danger to herself and not others and given that it appeared the severity and duration of episodes like this were directly related to the speed with which medical treatment was available to the patient, we were taking upon ourselves the “discretion” of deciding for this person her right to effective medical treatment, and,
4. Their position was simply nuts.

Simon agreed with me.

The second issue was the tendency to see all those who may have opposed the legislation or the program as enemies rather than interests. This will be explored in greater detail below.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Bryan: Who killed Thursby?
Sam Spade: I don’t know.
Bryan: Perhaps you don’t, but you could make an excellent guess.
Sam Spade: My guess might be excellent or it might be crummy, but Mrs. Spade didn’t raise any children dippy enough to make guesses in front of a district attorney, and an assistant district attorney and a stenographer.
Bryan: Why shouldn’t you, if you have nothing to conceal?
Sam Spade: Everybody has something to conceal.
Chapter 17.

It was about 4:30 when Fat Al called me back. I was already floating in that place between sleep and wakefulness when the call came in so it did not take too long to snap into more or less my usual awareness. Al began by explaining how sad Reiley’s death mad him and how highly he thought of him. I on the other hand couldn’t stand Reilly. His death, it seemed to me, just rid the world of another predator. I did not mention my feelings on the matter to Al but let him blubber along.

Al then reminisced about his warm relationship with Reilly, especially about meeting his wonderful family and having dinner at their house. I attended those dinners also. When Reilly thought he needed something from me and wanted to get it from me cheap, he invited me over for dinner. After about 15 minutes with the wife and kids at dinner they left while we finished eating and repaired to the living room where we drank wine and smoked dope and I listened to him go on about the wonders of eastern philosophy and the simple life while he sidled into suggesting how with my expertise and connections combined with his support and technical back-up we can both do well by doing good. Reilly was an alpha parasite.

I finally decided that l had enough of Al’s grieving and asked him what his contacts in the Department had to say about Reilly’s death.

“Well, it’s too early for them to say. There will be an autopsy and they will know more then.

“Al, these are cops were talking about. They have an opinion on everything — even their mothers pre-marital virginity–especially that. What do they think happened?

“Well, Dragon, they seemed more reticent than usual to tell me what they thought.”

“OK, That tells me something. What about the grieving widow. When are the almost high and mighty going out to pay their respects? At the wake?”

“Well, Chang the captain in charge of homicide is going out to Riley’s house tomorrow afternoon to pay his respects to his family. He invited me to tag along.”

“That’s quick.”

“Yeah, Reiley’s secretary called Chang in response to his call to express his condolences and said that Nok called her and told her that, although she is in shock, she recognized that Clarence’s friends would want to pay their respects. I guess it is sort of pre-wake since the body won’t be released until the autopsy is finished. That could take a day or two. And then another day more for the mortician to prepare the body.”

He promised to keep me up to date if he learned anything more from the police. I thanked him and hung up. I thought for a moment. I was still convinced that there was less here than meets the eye.

I called Mavis, explained I was not up to getting together tonight. I asked her if she had ever visited Reilly’s house. She said that she had gone there once with Lilly and Mark for a pool party on a Sunday afternoon. “He was very nice,” she added. “He said he was thinking of getting a tattoo and that if he decided to do so he would come to me.”

“Did he hit on you?”

“Oh, are you jealous of a dead guy?”

“Well did he?”

“Well I guess a bit, But he was mostly interested in Lilly.”

“Who else was there?

“The Vietnamese guy Marvin or whatever his name is. He had two young Vietnamese guys with him. One of them came to the shop for a tattoo a few weeks later.”

“Anybody else?”

“Yeah, a couple of more people. I think a port commissioner. An Asian woman. And a guy who sits on the Police Commission. And a few others, I don’t remember. I was stoned.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Oh about six months ago.”

“Was Mark Reilly’s dealer?”

She hesitated for a moment. “Yeah, I think so.”

“So what happened to the dope that came in the furniture shipment?”

“We smoked some of it.” “Oh!” She obviously remembered that she had told me before that she knew nothing about it. I ignored it. Said, “Go on.

“There was’t much. Only a key or two.”

“Weed only? What about cocain or heroin or pills?”

“Nothing that I saw.”

After telling her I would call tomorrow and hanging up I called Martin Vihn and told him some of what Al told me but made it appear as though the cops were leaning toward the murder possibility. I then asked him what would his response be if I had evidence the shipment contained drugs just as I had suspected all along.

“I’d say you were full of shit. But discussing it over the phone right now is not a good idea.”

So, we made arrangements to meet tomorrow for breakfast.

I thought about calling Lilly but changed my mind. She probably would hang up the phone as soon as she learned it was me on the phone. On the other hand, it could be worse. She might not hang up on me.

I decided that I probably would be seeing her again soon anyway so I can avoid winging it and prepare for the confrontation. I realized I would probably be winging it then also, so I called Joe instead of going back and forth about it any more.

I made arrangements for him to pick me up and drive me to my breakfast with Vihn. He asked me if there was another movie he should look at as part of his training to be a detective. I recommended, “Too have and have not.” He asked if Bogart was in this one too. I said he was, but that Bacall was a lot better looking than Brigit O’Shaunessey.

After the call, I scrounged through the refrigerator. Found some apples, and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, poured a glass of milk and spent the next three or so hours on my computer gathering background information before putting myself to bed.
DAILY FACTOID:

1847: The US Marine Corps Hymn begins with the words, “From the Halls of Montezuma..,” Those words commemorate the Corps’ participation in a battle in one of our country’s earliest imperialistic wars. The Corps suffered 90% casualties in the struggle for Mexico’s capitol city.

In that battle the US troops overran a badly undermanned Mexican garrison in the so called “castle” on Chapultepec Hill that guarded the entrance into Mexico City. A large portion of the defenders were made up of the students at the military academy (equivalent to a US high school) located at the site, some of whom were only 13 years old. The defenders, about 400 in all including about 100 teenage students from the academy, faced over 4000 battle hardened American soldiers. As the Mexican troops retreated when the assault rolled over them, six of these young men from the academy bravely but foolishly stayed behind to defend the Mexican flag. They were slaughtered by the American troops. Obviously, playing capture the flag was more important than the lives of a few teenage greasers.

Among the participants in this same battle was John Riley the leader of the Batallón San Patricio, a group of Irish immigrants forced into service by the U.S. Government during the Mexican-American War. Being Catholics, they were treated terribly by their Protestant superiors. They got fed up and decided to desert and join their fellow Catholics on the Mexican side. By all accounts, they fought valiantly throughout the war, but during the battle for Mexico City the Batallón San Patricio’s positions were overrun. As Chapultepec Castle fell, every last one of John Riley’s men was hung in front of him. The US commander waited to execute the Irishmen until the moment that the Mexican flag that the kids were shot for defending was lowered so that they could watch as they died. It has been reported that the U.S. generals didn’t kill John Riley along with his troops. They supposedly branded both of his cheeks with D’s for desertion, lashed him for a full day in front of his dangling men, and then handed him back to Mexico.*

Remember, only 14 years later many of the same American officers involved at Chapultepec, who so mercilessly executed the Irish Catholic deserters and the Mexican adolescents, themselves rebelled against the United States. And, following a war that saw the greatest percentage of the American population killed in any war in the nations history, not one of these men were executed for treason or spent significant time in prison. Many are now listed as among our nations greatest heroes.

Ulysses S. Grant, a legitimate hero at the Battle of Chapultepec,** as well as in the subsequent war to suppress a rebellion against the United States instigated by the slave owning aristocracy and who later was elected President of the United States, stated in his memoirs that in his opinion the Mexican-American War was “one of the most unjust wars ever waged on a weaker nation by a stronger one.”

On March 5, 1947, a few months before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec, another U.S. President, Harry S. Truman, traveling in Mexico at the time, placed a wreath at the monument to the six students and stood for a few moments of silent reverence. Asked by American reporters why he had gone to the monument, Truman said, “Brave men don’t belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it.”

* Note: one of the major purposes of the war with Mexico was to acquire additional territory in which to expand slavery in order to balance the votes in the US Senate of the more abolitionist inclined tier of newly created northern states carved out of the Louisiana Purchase. Mexico, by the way, at that time prohibited slavery which was one of the main reasons that a few years before the white Protestant Texans who had recently immigrated there sought independence from Mexico.

Finally as long as I started on the slavery issue, the argument often posed by many southern apologists that if we had only waited a few years the “peculiar” institution of slavery would disappear simply as a result of economic pressure on that inefficient system (the invisible hand again), begs the question of why then was it the South that seceded and attacked first when the rest of the nation, except for the somewhat disturbed John Brown, had done little more than make speeches about the immorality of slavery, hide a few escaped slaves and and elect a guy who, although he did not like slavery, admitted that he was not going to be able to do much more about it other than support prohibition of its extension into new territories, such as those taken from Mexico a decade or so before?

** Grant climbed up the bell tower, single-handedly captured a howitzer located there and then used it to fire on the Mexican troops below. Yes, in America even Rambo can become a US President, although not a very good one.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Testosterone Chronicles:

     “Boys grow up oblivious to the fairer sex. Their daily concerns involve Tonka trucks and Kung-Fu movies. But boys grow older. One day, a girl makes a subtle motion, a swish of hair, a bat of an eye, and suddenly the lad takes notice. That’s when all the problems start. It starts slow. He doesn’t work it out right away. He finds the Spanish teacher’s lectures more interesting. He double takes passing a billboard. Then one morning, he wakes up sticky. He learns to do it manually. He accumulates a collection of porn— a compendium the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the library of Alexandria burnt to the ground. He becomes an expert on female anatomy. He learns breasts. He learns butts. He can mentally image the entire high school cheerleading squad in a dramatic re-enactment of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. He prepares for all conceivable eventualities— and he’s entirely unprepared for the real thing.”
               B. Justin Shier. Zero Sight (Zero Sight Series, Book 1) ( Astraeus Press).

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Yeah, to a certain extent. I mean, it wasn’t my life. It wasn’t the center of my life. But I mean, when you’re — let me rephrase that. I enjoyed being president. And when you’re president, you’re famous. Now whether I enjoyed fame itself, I just, you know, you’d have to get the psychoanalyst on me,”
George Bush reflects on what being President of the most powerful country on earth ment to him.

TODAY’S CHART:

943513_10151481949516144_271185230_n

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

photo-7

Hayden at Como with skateboard.

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Jo Jo 0002 (May 31, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

There has been a change at the health club where I spend most of my mornings. No, not a change in ownership or rules or even personnel. And certainly there has not been a change in the general run down nature of the place. It is as different from the chrome palaces of modern health clubs as it always has been. What’s changed has been its culture. Yes I know, unless it is some sweaty broken gym for boxers or more modern dojo’s for martial arts, most health club’s cater to a rather vanilla cross-section of young up and comers. But even there, if you look close enough and long enough at your own health club, you will soon see underneath the acres of spandex vague indications of a culture that separates your club from the one in the high-rise on the next corner.

The membership of the health club at the Ambassador Hotel in BKK of which I am a member and for which LM is employed as a masseuse, has always been made up of, in addition to guests in the hotel, mostly older men and women who preferred to pay a membership fee about one-half less than the membership fee at any of the other hotel health clubs in the area and did not mind the steady but slow deterioration in the facilities. Membership, like the facilities, has been declining for the entire three years I have been a member.

However, upon my return from the United States a few weeks ago I noticed that the membership decline has stopped and seemed to have reversed itself. The lockers in the locker rooms are now all taken and new banks of lockers have been installed. On the surface, these new members seem to be much like the existing members, older western males, local professional women and Indian and Arab men and women who are guests at the hotel.

Recently, LM has complained that the massage services that used to be supplied by 6 to 8 full-time women masseuses and a picture book of others on call has been reduced to two providers. Since the beginning of the month, there has been only one massage appointment made for either of those two. On the other hand, the number of male masseuses has increased from two to 8 or 12.

I suspect that usual massage business performed by female therapists has been undercut by the lower cost massage parlors that line the nearby streets in the neighborhood. On the other hand, no such outlets for connection and release exist for women in general, business women in particular as well as for men preferring a man’s touch but hesitant about frequenting the gay clubs nearby.

*****

This week I set off for a few days at Jomtien Beach. For those new to T&T or those that may not recall, I lived for almost a year in an apartment near the beach in this town. The building was called, Jomtien Beach Paradise Condominiums so I took to calling the area Paradise by the Sea. Since it is also about two miles from that emporium of erotic excess Pattaya, I added, Two Miles from the Outskirts of Hell to its description.

Paradise by the Sea used to be the native Thai beach resort area while Pattaya, the Outskirts of Hell, was reserved for western, mostly male tourists. Eventually the bright lights and noise of the Vietnam War enlisted mens R&R resort was overwhelmed by high rises, at first to house the ex-military who retired here hoping to maintain the dreams of that which nature is destined to erode. This was followed by ongoing attempts to convert the town to a traditional beach tourist attraction with its sin city reputation as an un-mentioned attraction. (As a beach resort minus the sex Pattaya deserves a Meh ranking at best.)

The high-rise condo and resort mania has overlapped into the adjacent city of Jomtien Beach driving the native Thais beyond its borders and replacing them first with a mixed bag of Western European and American males and more recently Russians primarily from Siberia.

I stay is a decidedly down scale guest house managed by a sad-faced woman whose teen-aged daughter immobilized by birth defects lies semi comatose on a cot in the lobby.

Two or three times a day I walk about a mile or two along the beach. I have stayed in some of the finest beach resorts in the world, but for some reason I find that I am more comfortable and at peace sitting on the balcony of my tiny room than I had been in any of those elegant establishments.

*****

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Princess LuckyGirl the prime minister of Thailand and sister of the deposed and fugitive prior Prime Minister of the country, Thaksin the Terrible, recently has travelled to other countries and has given speeches extolling the values of democracy. For some reason the opposition party led by the ex-Prime Minister whose party was never elected, Abhsit the Unready, believed it was awful for her to have done so. It seems that they believe that by speaking about the general benefits of democracy she is criticizing their time in power. — I think it is a cultural thing.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

3. My job interview:

The white marble Greco-Roman building housing the NY Supreme Court’s First Appellate Division contained the offices of the newly created Mental Health Information Services (MHIS). It was situated just off Madison Square Park at Madison and E. 25th street. To the east a few blocks the forbidding red brick buildings of Belview Hospital, NY’s première psychiatric hospital containing the infamous wards for the city’s criminally insane, rose above the East River. To the south sprawled Stuyvesant Town a city within the city. To the west the garment district and Chelsea ran in an arc from north to south and contained Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. Immediately to the north were the flagship emporiums of Macy’s and Gimbles. The old Penn Station and Madison Square Garden buildings are gone now but the rest remain, gentrified or like the garment district, pale shadows of their prior glory.

The newly installed executive director of the MHIS was a man rotund of belly and of face. With a mouth too large for even that face, thick eyeglasses and wispy hair on a head going prematurely bald, he looked a bit like a large frog. He wore a rumpled three-piece grey suit, white shirt and unassuming tie. His name was Simon Rosenzweig. He was a revelation to me.

Having attended what passed for a progressive Catholic High School and a Jesuit run University, I had a pretty clear idea of the Catholic Social Gospel and the mess the 2000 year criminal conspiracy represented by the Catholic hierarchy tried to make of it. I also knew what saintliness was all about. You know, washing the leper’s sores, feeding the poor and things like that.

I could never do that; never see myself off in the jungle somewhere bathing some feverous child dying of malnutrition. This always made me feel I was destined to be an incorrigible moral failure my entire life.

But here before me for the first time I recognized something or someone different. You see, that whole saintly thing was only intended to try to make the suffering lighter for those whose lives could not change. You know, “The poor are always with us.”

But in Simon here was someone who believed things could be changed so that the particular type of suffering no longer occurs. No more bathing of sores. Instead, if we change the conditions, the suffering itself can be diminished. In effect those engaged in this type of endeavor could be considered physicians to society. This, I decided, was what the Kennedy challenge was all about. I wanted to do that.

But there was a problem. You see, at that time, 1965, the US was still divided by those who went to Ivy league schools and those who did not. And to go to an ivy league school you had to be either white protestant, fabulously wealthy, or born with some preternatural intellectual, artistic of physical gifts. Also in general, unless you were a fully evolved advanced human being like Paul Robeson, you still had to be white or almost white, unless, of course, your father owned some country in Africa, South America or Asia and the assumption was that you would be going back there after you finished your education. As far as lawyers were concerned, even if you were an ivy league graduate, you often were not hired by the large Wall Street firms if you were, say, jewish, Puerto rican, italian or black unless you parents were major clients of the firm (and even then you could never aspire to becoming a partner). In those cases you went out to find jobs in industry or in government, set up your own firm or, moved to California.

At my interview Simon explained up front that the lawyer jobs in MHIS were intended to be slotted to ivy league graduates only. Nevertheless he allowed me to continue with the interview. At the end of the interview he sat there silently staring at me for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, he told me that even though I had not attended an ivy league school he was disposed to hire me because of all the young attorneys he interviewed I was the only one who spoke about the patients welfare and not the principles involved.

While I was happy to get the job, my feelings were somewhat equivocal. I was never all that good on legal principles so talking about the patients and their welfare was really all I that had going for me.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.
Kasper Gutman: Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.

Chapter 16:

I stared blankly at the phone after I disconnected from Mavis. I was pulled back from wherever I had gone off to by Joe Vu who had thrust his iPhone in front of me. I took it from him, put it to my ear and heard an angry Martin Vihn say:

“What were you trying to do with Lilly?”

Answered, “It doesn’t matter anymore. Clarence Reilly has been found.”

“What? Where?”

“Floating beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, dead.”

There was silence for a moment then, “Suicide?”

“I have no idea.”

Another momentary silence then, “I want you to find out how he died. Also what happened to the shipment.”

“Sorry, I don’t work for you anymore. My assignment was to find Reilly. I did. You want to hire me again, the terms are the same as before.”

Controlled anger flowed from the phone like waves of heat from a tenement fire.

“Who do you think you are?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know what you can have done to me. But, if you wanted to you could have done so when you first hired me. And, if you do it now you still are going to have to hire someone anyway. After all, like everything else in this case it’s all business, isn’t it?”

He chuckled. “OK. Same deal but this time I want you to find out how Clarence died and if someone killed him who. Also, what happened to the shipment of furniture.”

Following a little more negotiation and receiving the answers to some questions I had, I hung up, returned the phone to Joe and asked him to drive me home.

“To your place on Fourth not the Utah, right?” he said.

“How did you know?” I said only a bit surprised.

“I’m a detective in training.”

“Hmm. Put on some good clothing. We probably are going to a serious affair this evening. I’ll call you.”

He dropped me off. Once inside of my loft, I called Fat Al Pischotti. I met Fat Al while I was working my way through law school as an intern for Hal Lipset. Hal was a famous San Francisco detective who worked out of his home, a mansion in Pacific Heights. He was known far and wide for inventing the martini with a radio transmitter imbedded in the olive. It was useless since once and liquid was poured into the glass the transmitter no longer worked. It didn’t matter, the PR was worth it to Hal. Alas, with the coming of the computer age, the blue collar, shoe leather PI’s like Hal have been replaced by technology geeks who can acquire as much information in an hour as Hal at his best could gather in a week.

At that time Fat Al was a homicide detective for the City. After putting in his 20 years he promptly retired and opened his own detective agency. Actually Al was just the face, his wife ran the agency.

I asked Al as a favor to find out through his police contacts anything he could about Reilly’s death and to keep his ears open about the event I was sure would occur this evening.

After that, I took a shower, laid down in my bed and spent about an hour berating myself for allowing myself to get involved in all this foolishness. Just before I fell asleep, however, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had made more money this week than any other week since I started this business. Mavis was not too bad a benefit either.
DAILY FACTOID:

“[T]he net debts of Wal-Mart… have soared — up 5,760 percent since 1987. By comparison, the roughly 600 percent rise in the U.S. public debt over the same period looks restrained. Is Wal-Mart mad?”

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/josh-barro-boehner-accidentally-explains-why-his-deficit-position-is-phony-bloomberg.html#more

(Although I often am in agreement with Professor DeLong, I must point out, who except the heirs of Wal-Mart’s founder cares if it collapses due to the madness of its managers, but the collapse of the US due to the madness of its political leaders is nothing to sneeze at.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tales of Inhumanity:

The Banality of Evil.

MAY 18, 1943, Report from Sturmbannfuehrer Gricksch to SS-Col. von Herff and Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler:

“The Auschwitz camp plays a special role in the resolution of the Jewish question. The most advance methods permit the execution of the Fuehrer-order in the shortest possible time and without arousing much attention.

The so-called “resettlement action” runs the following course:

The Jews arrive in special trains (freight cars) toward evening and are driven on special tracks to areas of the camp specifically set aside for this purpose.

There the Jews are unloaded and examined for their fitness to work by a team of doctors, in the presence of the camp commandant and several SS officers. At this point anyone who can somehow be incorporated into the work program is put in a special camp.

The curably ill are sent straight to a medical camp and are restored to health through a special diet. The basic principle behind everything is: conserve all manpower for work. The previous type of “resettlement action” has been thoroughly rejected, since it is too costly to destroy precious work energy on a continual basis.

The unfit go to cellars in a large house which are entered from outside. They go down five or six steps into a fairly long, well-constructed and well-ventilated cellar area, which is lined with benches to the left and right. It is brightly lit, and the benches are numbered.

The prisoners are told that they are to be cleansed and disinfected for their new assignments. They must therefore completely undress to be bathed. To avoid panic and to prevent disturbances of any kind, they are instructed to arrange their clothing neatly under their respective numbers, so that they will be able to find their things again after their bath.

Everything proceeds in a perfectly orderly fashion. Then they pass through a small corridor and enter a large cellar room which resembles a shower bath. In this room are three large pillars, into which certain materials can be lowered from outside the cellar room. When three- to four-hundred people have been herded into this room, the doors are shut, and containers filled with the substances are dropped down into the pillars.

As soon as the containers touch the base of the pillars, they release particular substances that put the people to sleep in one minute. A few minutes later, the door opens on the other side, where the elevator is located. The hair of the corpses is cut off, and their teeth are extracted (gold-filled teeth) by specialists (Jews). It has been discovered that Jews were hiding pieces of jewelry, gold, platinum etc., in hollow teeth.

Then the corpses are loaded into elevators and brought up to the first floor, where ten large crematoria are located. (Because fresh corpses burn particularly well, only 50-100 lbs. of coke are needed for the whole process.) The job itself is performed by Jewish prisoners, who never step outside this camp again.

The results of this “resettlement action” to date: 500,000 Jews. Current capacity of the “resettlement action” ovens: 10,000 in 24 hours.

(As I pointed out in an earlier post, it may be that there may have been crueler and greater genocides [e.g. the slaughter of the Native Americans], in none, however, do we have the extent of testimony by the victims themselves and obsessive record keeping by the murderers as we do in this one.

It is this testimony that should remind everyone of the horrors that can flow from hate and irrational fear. [It should be recalled that, until the attack on Pearl Harbor, a majority of Americans had no problem with the rhetoric and policies coming out of the Axis countries that ultimately led to the barbarity reported above.]

It is no defense to denying someone a job, education or medical treatment because of their racial, gender, ethnic or sexual orientation that, unlike what occurred in the 1930s and 40s, it has not yet ended in horrible death. Nevertheless, almost daily I receive emails and other communications or hear political leaders who proudly revel in their belief of the justice and equity of their fear and of their hate. They alas only too often call that hate, American values.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It was a rare fine night for a stroll down by the docks, the moon plump as a new pillow in an old-fashioned hotel and the undertow in the turning tide swushing its ripples silvery-green and a bird you’ve never heard before chirring its homesick tale of a place you might once have known and most likely now will never see, mid-June and almost midnight and balmy yet, the kind of evening built for a long walk with a woman who likes to take long walks and not say very much, and that little in a murmur you have to strain to catch, her laughter low and throaty, her humour dry and favouring lewd, eyes like smoky mirrors of the vast night sky and in them twinkles that might be stars reflecting or the first sparks of intentions that you’d better fan with soft words and a gentle touch in just the right place or spend the rest of your life and maybe forever wondering what might have been, all for the want of a soft word and a touch gentle and true.”

(This single 183 word long sentence opens the novel Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke. It has nothing at all to do with anything else that follows in the novel. That is much like the opening paragraphs of every chapter in his namesake James Lee Burke’s novels about the two male-bonded goodfellows of Iberia Parish in Louisiana that also have nothing to do with whatever follows in the chapter. But, they are beautiful.)

TODAY’S CHART:

nasa-climate-change-e1358345450589

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

972035_10151441431366275_2076552662_n

(These same sentiments, enhanced by the patina of the intellectual rhetoric of the time, were applied with equal vehemence to immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Poland, China and Japan when they first began arriving here in America in large numbers. I wonder if the descendants of those immigrants feel that they and their ancestors were so much dumber then the progeny of those previous immigrants many of whom settled in Appalachia and the deep South and who either made or believed those claims.)

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Jo Jo 0002 (May 23, 2013)

Happy Birthday Jessica

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The past few days have seen the rains return to BKK. I do not know if we have tipped over into the rainy season yet or if this is just a temporary respite from the heat and the pollution. In any event, the pollution and the blazing heat have diminished, replaced with stifling humidity. As a result, except for my daily trip to the pool, I still spend most of my days huddled by the AC in my apartment reading. I have completed reading all 14 novels in the Dresden Files series that have been written so far. The author promises to write at least seven more.

We now know that Mab the Fairy Queen of the Winter Court of the Sidhe is not insane even though she had her daughter Maeve murdered. We also know the name of the being behind all the trouble that occurred in the previous 13 books. His name is Nemesis, although to call him that pisses him off so everyone prefers to call him the Adversary. Why that does not piss him off as much, I have no idea. We still do not know what is under the Cowl. Harry Dresden, the Wizard, did get laid again. Although he was willing, he was effectively raped by Mab since there was nothing he could do about it. The coupling itself, through what in the magic of fairyland passes for social media, was witnessed by all the residents of both the Summer and Winter Queendoms of the Sidhe.

*****

I really do not know what has been going on with me for the past few weeks. Whatever physical or emotional problems I had experienced since my hospitalization have been gone ever since my jet lag lifted a few weeks ago. Yet, since then I have done little but swim in the mornings and read straight through the day until I turn out the light at about 11pm to sleep. One day, I decided to break from reading and so I went to see a movie. That’s it. I feel like I should be doing something — almost anything. I even put off my trip to the beach for a week. I do not feel depressed. If fact just the opposite. Nevertheless I exhibit all the symptoms of depression except depression itself.

Since I finished the Dresden Tales I have returned to Bruen, Nesbro, Declan Burke and the Foreworld Tales. Every day I try to write a few sentences in This and that… but little else. Maybe I will do something next week. Time is getting short.

*****

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

In the Autumn of 2011, when the new Thai government came into power, it implemented a campaign promise to create a national health program that provides all Thais with health services for about one dollar US per visit. The program was conceived by the administrator of a hospital that had managed to develop and carry out the medical delivery systems in his hospital to such a high degree of efficiency that it allowed the hospital to charge the patient only a little more than that. The program passed in the first few hours of the new administration. A quasi-independent board was set up to administer it.

The hospital administrator that developed the program was appointed to head the new entity. I has proven wildly successful, much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutical industry (mostly foreign corporations) because unlike Obamacare in the US which in a compromise with the industry did not allow Medicare to freely choose the lowest cost supplier by forcing them to compete on price, the Thai program did. It was very successful in bringing down costs.

The Administrator of the Thai program has recently proposed to manufacture generic drugs in general use not patent protected in order to further reduce costs. That apparently was the last straw. Under pressure from the foreign pharmaceutical companies, the government sacked the administrator and turned the entire program over to administration by local political leaders.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

Chapter 15:

Most people believe that when faced with danger humans react in two ways, fight or flee. Actually there is a third way. I call it the bunny rabbit approach — freeze and be eaten. Unfortunately for me, I have found that the third option seems to be the default setting on my survival instinct. So, when I saw Fat Face sitting there in the car smiling at me my first impulse was to close my eyes and cringe. But, after a moment I realized that there was at least ten feet of sidewalk between me and the car in which he was sitting I relaxed a bit and after checking up and down the street I said”

“Where’s the Prince of Wales?”

“Huh” Fat Freddie responded. His smile disappearing.

“Your fat friend Gordie.”

“Uh…why don’t you get in the car here and you can give me your report,” he said obviously not getting my clever allusion to a scene in a fifty year old movie about Beau Brummel staring Stewart Granger (but for “Scaramouche” his greatest role).

“I thought you were going to call,” said I.

“Too busy. but I have time now.”

“Well,” I said. “There’s nothing to report. I still don’t know what happened to Holland. And I’m not getting into your car. You’re in the wrong area of the city for trolling. Try Land’s End.”

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my kidney either I was passing a stone or something hard was pushed into my back. A large hand then gripped my upper arm followed by a gravelly voice saying, “get in the car.”

It finally got to me. My fear was replaced by indignation at being forced to play a supporting role a third-rate gangster flick. Said:

“It talks. Is this the point when I say, is that a gun sticking into my back or are you just happy to see me. There’s a big difference between sitting in a car choking on Porky’s body oder and getting shot in the street. You’re not going to do it so let’s knock off amateur hour. Or to put it another way, go fuck yourself.”

Before I could do anything else or Fat Freddie could respond, I heard,

“Let’m go muthafucka.”

The grip on my arm loosened and I turned around. There was Joe Vu with his gun against Frank Fat’s neck.

“Fuck,” I screamed. “Are you all crazy?. Joe put the fucking gun away. No one’s shooting anyone. Were in the middle of a San Francisco Street. You Porky Two get back in the car.”

“It’s OK Bart,” the rotund one driving the car called out. “Get in the car.”

“Bart! Did you just call him Bart? Am I living in a Trivial Pursuits wet dream? He’s not a kid with yellow skin so that must make you Brett.”

Fat Tony or rather Bilious Bart walked to the car and got in. I realized that they actually did remind me of the aged and obese Garner and the guy that never made it in the movies. They smiled waved and drove off.

“I thought you were in trouble boss,” said Joe Vu slipping his gun back into his pocket.

I did not say anything as we walked back to our car but then thought I would screw with him a bit. Said,

“You think Martin hired them?”

“Nah,” he said as he walked around to the driver’s side and opened the door. “If he wanted to hurt you he’d have you hire his cousin as your student.”

I stared at him then got into the car. Said,

“You know, I think it’s all a game.”

“What do you mean boss.”

“Why me. Why hire me. I’m a no account PI. if anyone were really serious they would hire a real agency. This towns full of detectives. I don’t think either Martin, or Mavis or for that matter Lilly care all that much about either Reilly or Holland. The Tons of Fun were probably just toying with me.”

“Why do you do that boss?”

“What?”

“Make fun fat people like that.”

“Fat guys, blond beauty contest winners, politicians and Vietnamese sidekicks are still fair game. The PC police haven’t gotten to them yet.”

At that moment both our phones started ringing at the same time. It was Mavis on mine. She said,

“What did you do with Lilly?”

“She called you huh? Was she upset?

“Not really. Said she might take us up on a threesome. But that’s not why I called. After Lilly hung up, I went back to my painting. I like to listen to the radio news — for some reason music distracts me when I paint. Anyway, they just reported that Clarence Reilly was found floating near one of the piers at the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.”

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service:

2. The New York State Mental Health Hospital System in 1965:

During the Middle Ages in Europe at about the time that market towns began to flourish, the good burghers of those villages recognized that, in addition to criminals such as thieves and pick-pockets, disruptive individuals disturbing the peace were not good for business and so they were rounded up and one way or another punished. In addition to the normal drunk and disorderly, included among the breakers of the peace were those that in a future more civilized time were to be called the mentally ill; those whose physical behavior made them incapable of fending for themselves or those who defended themselves from the horrors of their own mind by adopting behaviors that were shockingly odd to those around them. Many of the latter were driven from the towns into the countryside or executed as witches or heretics.

Eventually the difference between the common criminal and the mentally ill began to be recognized and separate jails and prisons were constructed to house the latter. As these insane asylums as they began to be known grew in both size and number, periodic attempts were made to treat those in the asylums somewhat more humanely than they had been. Places like Charenton in Paris, although considered one of the most “humane,” inflicted all sorts of tortures on their inmates in efforts to “cure” them. Those were the enlightened places. In most asylums the cost of long-term care generally were contained by maintaining a high mortality rate.

In the middle of the Nineteenth Century with the coming of the Industrial revolution, the newly emergent upper middle class discovered to their horror that their newfound wealth did not shield them from being stricken with mental illness any less often than the poor (but, probably a good deal less often than the hugely inbred royalty of the time). Unlike the poor, however, who for example upon becoming too depressed to work would end up starving or incarcerated, many members of the middle class (except for the male primary bread winners) could lie in bed for as much as weeks at a time until the humors or vapors or whatever passed. And, these new industrialists had the wherewithal to hire care givers for their distressed family members.

As a result, as it was to be expected, individuals claiming expertise in nervous disorders clustered wherever there was money to be made. This was mostly a good thing because it got some people to think about what could be done with these types of illnesses and a few of them even began to look into what was going on with the patients in the asylums; if not for humanitarian reasons, then at least as experimental subjects.

During the later part of that century and the first two decades of the next, in central Europe a group of these practitioners attempted to piece together a scholarly synthesis of the conditions they had been hired to treat. Psychoanalysis was born and a revolution in treatment followed. They were wrong of course. They assumed that there was a defect in the mind that could be corrected by behavioral and environmental strategies such as actually talking to the patient in a way calculated to instill in the patient the belief that the analyst was really interested in the patients condition.

It was more a religion then a science in that, although it appeared to be on some level empirically descriptive, it was neither quantified nor particularly verifiable. (Some of the early associations of these practitioners even had rules that discouraged experimentation and often threw out any practitioner who did not precisely follow the association’s approved method of treatment.) Due, however, to its lavish use of metaphor and its complex description of human motivation, it did produce great art.

Also, the long-term interaction of the practitioner with the patient required by psychoanalysis and the subtle behavioral modification that were encouraged seemed to have had a mitigating effect on the severity and duration of the patient’s condition, much like bed rest has on a cold. It also was lucrative enough to attract the best and the brightest into the profession. This perhaps was its lasting impact because as a general rule the more people looking at a problem for whatever reason, the more likely you will find someone who actually figures out what to do about it.

By the middle of the Twentieth Century, due in part to the influx of specialists from Central Europe fleeing the horrors of that time and its incredible wealth, New York City became the center of the universe for psychiatric care. It was a time of great ferment and turmoil in the subject area. This concentration of money and expertise overflowed into the hospital system housing the mentally ill in New York State. Huge hospitals often containing the latest technology were built. Some of these hospital complexes were so large that in terms of population and land areas covered by buildings they could rank as small cities.

The patients in several large state run hospitals in a particular area would be sent there primarily from a central receiving hospital. Often the receiving hospital was associated with a medical school teaching hospital with a psychiatric treatment emphasis.

Police and family members would bring to the emergency rooms throughout the day and night individuals who appeared to be suffering no observable trauma or biological disease but who were clearly unable to care for themselves for some reason. After processing through the emergency room most were released and only the most disturbed were admitted to the wards.

By the following morning they each would be interviewed by the chief psychiatric resident at a meeting attended by other members of the hospitals medical and psychiatric staff as well as the institutions social service and administrative staff who would then decide whether to readmit them to the wards of the teaching hospital for a short-term stay, send them on to the appropriate state hospital for long-term care or release them.

One could be involuntarily incarcerated for mental illness, drug dependency and alcoholism. One had certain rights for a hearing regarding incarceration. But, what patient would ever know what those rights were? There was also a belief in a history of callous indifference to the welfare of the patients once they were admitted. Hence the Mental Health Information Service was created to remedy these concerns and to bring to the patients some semblance of understanding of their legal rights to both freedom as well as adequate medical treatment.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tales of Inhumanity:

7th May 1943, The ‘end of the world’ approaches in the Warsaw Ghetto (Part III).

A young woman writes:

“The Germans usually attacked us at night. Now they are expanding their attacks to the daytime as well. We must maintain absolute silence on our bunks so that the enemy will not discover us.

I am going out into the street. The streets – Mila, Zamenhof, Kurza, Nalewki, Lubecki – all are on fire. Workshops, apartments, stores, entire houses are burning. The ghetto is nothing more than a sea of flames.

A very strong wind is blowing, which fans the fire and carries the sparks from the burning houses to those that have not yet caught fire.

The fire destroys everything. The sight is horrifying, shocking. The fire spreads so quickly that people cannot escape from the buildings and they perish tragically. People with bundles run from house to house, from street to street. There is no salvation; no one knows where to hide. They search in desperation but there is no deliverance, no refuge, death rules everything.

The walls of the ghetto are surrounded. No one goes out and no one comes in. Clothing is burning on people’s bodies. Screams of pain, sobbing. Everyone wants to be saved, everyone tries to save his own life.

People are choking from the smoke. All are begging for help. Most of them, almost all of them, cry out to God: “God, show your power, have mercy on us.” God is as silent as a Sphinx and does not answer. And you, the nations, why are you silent? Don’t you see that they want to annihilate us? Why are you silent?

Despite the danger, Jews are running through the streets just to save their lives. Everything is engulfed in fire. It looks like the end of the world has come. “Save yourselves if you can!” The situation is horrifying, terrible. Everyone wants to be saved. Hell has come to earth. Dante’s Inferno – it cannot be believed and it cannot be described.

A new day is beginning. With the new day, there is a deathly silence. People are in their corners without food or water. A cemetery in flames. The sound of metal falling and of burning walls collapsing is heard.

The ghetto is burning for the fourth day. All we see are chimneys standing and the frames of the houses that burned down. In the first moment, this spectacle arouses a shudder of horror: yes, this is the work of Hitler’s vandals, who hope that the entire world will look this way. There is no doubt that they will not succeed in this.

In our thoughts, we return to the past. We’ve lost many things. The only thing left to us is our hiding place. Of course, it is not a safe place.

We live the day, the hour, the moment.”

A few days later the following report was filed by Juergen Stroop:

“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.”

B. Races do not exist, but Racism does:

Why Racism is Foolish from the Perspective of Modern Genetics.

“If you ask for your DNA profile today from a company that specialized in “DNA ancestry” what you will get is essentially a picture of the “origin” of the different segments on your chromosome, so you’ll see that this segment over here (which is known to code for the following 10 genes) is African, while that segment next to it (which is known to code for the following 16 genes) is Native American. This is the obvious consequences of crossing-over, of course.

Making this fact so obvious, so front-and-center has very interesting consequences. Most importantly, it makes it clear that while one can speak of “African genes” or “Northern European genes”, one cannot extrapolate from that to an “African person”, at least not in the context of the Americas where four hundred years of random interbreeding has occurred.

All one can mean by “African person” is a less careful way of saying “person whose appearance genes are African”. It was expected that there would be substantial clustering and correlation between genes but, again in the Americas, this turns out largely not to be the case, so you may have African appearance genes, but that does not translate into an especially high probability that you have African blood genes or liver protein genes or (if you insist on that sort of thing) African sport and neuro-anatomy genes. And vice versa — you may look as Euro as they come, but chances are there was at least one African somewhere in the past ten generations or so, and that African left his/her genes in you — not as a diluted out “1024th of the blood” but as very definite stretches of DNA coding for very definite proteins.

You may insist on your whiteness all you like, but when genomic medicine becomes real, and the test reveals that you carry the African version of oncoprotein 134A, are you going to demand that you be given the “Euro” version of your cancer drug, the one that attacks oncoprotein 134B?”
Maynard Handley http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/dana-golstein-attention-jason-richwine-youre-not-the-first-guy-to-wrongly-believe-immigrants-are-dumb.html#more

(Sigh, yet they still however will deny they are racists even though they believe, Mexicans are stupid, African-Americans shiftless, Arabs homicidal and Barak Obama is a Communist from Kenya.)

TODAY’S QUOTES:

A. A message from Al:

6683_529487887094092_2007033411_n

(The next time you are out having coffee with your ‘frens’ and are busily engaged with your smart phone, remember it is probably already too late to do anything about Albert’s warning…. or to put it another way, welcome to our generation.

Recently I had lunch with a young woman acquaintance of mine. She spent most of our time together showing me all the wonderful applications on her iPhone. I was doubly jealous. Jealous that I did not have a cool iPhone with thousands of applications and jealous that she found the damned phone more interesting than me.)

B. Freedom:

“Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them…and those who feel no need to control themselves.”
by Sirenus

TODAY’S CHART:

obama-budget-1.png

(What this chart means is that after Hillary Clinton becomes President in 2016, she may find herself ranked as among the greatest Presidents in the nation’s history for having the ability to lower taxes and raise social expenditures while cutting the deficit and running a fiscal surplus, all because of the provisions contained in Barak Obama’s current budget. I am sure the Republicans will fight to the death to prevent this.)

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:

falsebalance-1

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1245

The Duck Pond in Summer.

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 JoJo 0002 (May 17, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I went to the Thai immigration office to get my one-year retirement visa renewed
The Little Masseuse kindly accompanied me to handle negotiations with the various transportation entities we were required to maneuver in order to get to and from the immigration office. She patiently sat outside the offices waiting for me to complete the process.

It was a much less traumatic experience than my previous visit. It took only about three hours or so.

Alas, after I had acquired the requisite stamps and paid the various fees I left, completely forgetting LM was there waiting for me. I was half-way home when I received a call from her inquiring how much longer the visa extension process would take.

How does one simply forget another human being? What level of self-absorption does it take to do that?

Somewhere in a past T&T I wrote of the three stages of a man’s old age: First you forget to zip it up, then you forget to zip it down, then you die.

I know I have passed through stage one. The periodic sense of cool breezes where there should be none reminds me of that. Alas, it appears that stage two is approaching much faster than I would like.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

You go girl II:

Today Thai television showed a surveillance video of the inside of an elevator. In the elevator stood a small girl or young woman dressed in a pink jacket. A light blue backpack was strapped to her back. The doors opened and a man much larger than the girl and dressed in dark clothing entered. As soon as the doors closed, he grabbed the girl and threw her against the back wall of the elevator. The girl then proceeded to beat the living shit out of him. By the time the elevator doors opened again the guy was lying in a foetal position on the floor of the elevator in a pool of his own blood.

(I have never seen or for that matter imagined a response to a surprise physical assault so sudden, focused, implacable and merciless as that little girl’s.

I wonder if the video was real. It had the blurry aspect of those type of surveillance videos. The girl seemed to move with the speed and power of one of those spandex attired superheroes. What would one call an elfin sized female superhero with a pink jacket and a powder blue backpack?

Speaking of superheroes in tights, when I left the American Embassy a few days ago its exterior walls had been covered in murals painted by local school children in one of those attempts by the State Department to achieve some sort of ambiguous rapport with the locals. The theme of the murals appeared to be the painter’s image of America. In the center of the exhibit was one panel containing a life-sized representation of Captain America in a red white and blue unitard leaping to defend truth justice and the American way complete with a little round shield, blazing red lipstick and huge almost frighteningly large breasts. America the beautiful…We should only hope.)

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

Chapter 15:

(Alas, this issue of T&T has grown so long that I felt adding an another 1000 words or so would be excessive. We will pick up again on the Dragon’s unwilling adventures in the next post.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following begins my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service:

1. Introduction:

It was 1965, the high point for those of us flooding out from the nations colleges and universities who, in response to JFK’s challenge to “ask what you can do for your country,” believed that their idealism could correct past injustices and create a brighter future. It was a few years yet before that idealism began to dissolve in the miasma of self-indulgence brought on by the counter-culture. It was six years before future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart‘s infamous memorandum called for the creation of a massive parasite community, a greater assembly of non-productive individuals than ever contemplated by any religion or governmental bureaucracy, made up of attorneys, economists, consultants and lobbyists dedicated to redistributing wealth from the productive elements of society, rich and poor alike, into their ever insatiable maw. It was still a few years before that dark avatar of amorality, Richard Nixon recognized that combining the worst aspects of the American South with the worst of the North and West was the road to iniquitous power. It was a little more than a decade before, in response to Stewart’s siren call, America’s youth in great numbers abandoned the study of science, engineering and even the debatable civilizing influence of the liberal arts and flocked to devour the intricacies of business, finance and law in the vain hope of raising themselves individually above the society in which they lived. By the mid-1980s the wellspring of JFK’s challenge had died leaving behind only a greater or lesser will to defend what had been accomplished and a vague periodic enthusiasm for restitution on behalf of the victim of the month. But that was later. Then we were certain we would make a difference.

In 1964, the New York State Legislature created the Mental Health Information Service to rectify the perceived festering sore that was New Yorks vast mental hospital system and bureaucracy. I had recently graduated from law school and to play a role in creating program to implement the law fascinated me. A few weeks before this I had participated in a three day testing program at NYU to determine my aptitude for various professional alternatives I may wish to pursue. The tests indicated that I was best suited for either conducting an orchestra or becoming a social worker. Since I had no musical abilities that I knew of but having recently been admitted to the NY Bar, the appearance of the hiring notice seemed fortuitous.
(To be continued)

DAILY FACTOID:

February 3, 1959: The Day the Music Died.

Monument at the crash site of the airplane car...

Monument at the crash site of the airplane carrying Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens; “The Day the Music Died” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not all the music died that day. Waylon Jennings who was also on the tour did not take the flight having given up his seat in favor of “The Big Bopper” who had the flu. Tommy Allsop lost a coin toss to Richie Valens for the last seat on the plane.

Dion Dimucci, the Dion of Dion and the Belmonts fame, did not board the ill fated charter aircraft that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper because he refused to pay the $36 fee.

(I knew Dion. He lived in the Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx, a heavily Italian area of NYC. I could see him doing that. Liked his music though.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

12404_564651120236040_70341764_n

(It should be pointed out the seven countries with the lowest child poverty rates identified by the gold bars are all countries that some have accused of being highly socialistic. These seven countries however are not included in that group of countries experiencing current economic difficulties that these same people attribute to the debts accumulated from their socialistic policies even though in fact those difficulties are almost exclusively due to their lassie faire approach to the unbridled greed of their banking and financial industries.)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

Lee

(A man’s man does not have to be 100% dick.)

C. More Evidence that Economics is a Religion and not a Science:

chart-1

The above chart represents the responses of a large group of economists to the question about the efficacy of current economic policy. It demonstrates what I and many other people have been saying and what many others believe, that economists do not know that they are doing and to bestow upon their area of study the title of a “science” whether modified by the word “social” or not is ludicrous. In fact, to me the predictive power of their field of study is not appreciatively greater than divination of the future from goat entrails. It has all the indicia of a religion. One might just as well flip a coin as ask an economist for advice on what policies to pursue to achieve a healthy national economy.

D. Interesting site:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/the-washington-super-whale-hedge-fundies-the-federal-reserve-and-bernanke-hatred.html#more

The above cited article by Brad DeLong is in my opinion the clearest and most understandable analysis of the financial crisis initiated by Citibank’s London hedge fund trader and of the nature of hedge funds in general. It also highlights why, conspiracy mavens aside, the Federal Reserve system was a pretty good idea.

But perhaps the most interesting thing to me and not discussed at all, was that the supervisor of the rogue trader who, upon realizing that the trader’s approach could either leave Citibank perhaps the most overwhelmingly wealthy entity on earth or bankrupt, chose to take the current loss in order assure preservation of the bank rather than risk it on the potential of becoming richer than Croesus, was a woman.

Would the exclusively male traders and managers at Lehman Brothers have made the same choice? Obviously not.

E. Tales of Inhumanity:

7th May 1943, The ‘end of the world’ approaches in the Warsaw Ghetto (Part II).

A young woman writes:

“Wham! Boom! The enemy is shooting machine guns and throwing grenades into the bunker. The bunker is partially covered with an avalanche of rubble. The people inside are acting courageously. With complete serenity, they look death in the face.

In silence, we honour the death of the people who are burning in the flames. The Germans are shooting every Jew that they find or taking and burning the bodies on the bonfire in the community courtyard at 19 Zamenhof Street. Hitler’s devotees, his dedicated servants and hangmen, who obey their leader’s orders, execute everything in accordance with the order which states that in 1945 there will not be a single Jew left in Europe.

Today, silence reigned for a long time. We lay on the bunks until late in the evening after four days of hunger. Everyone was satisfied because we ate something and went to sleep in a better mood. The appearance of these people, whose cheeks were already sunken, improved, their eyes brightened and a spark of life was once again discernible within them. Now everyone believes that he will be able to hold on.

Surprisingly, we have light again, the electricity is back. Maybe the sun will also shine for us. It’s really about time. We are cut off from the entire world, helpless and relying only on our own powers. No one talks about rescue. We are extending our existence with great effort.

Our lives are extremely threatened now, the danger is constant. The living standard is very low. The people are half-naked, dressed in rags, running around morosely on the stone floor. They can’t live and they can’t die.

I am amazed that in such conditions we have succeeded in surviving for three weeks. We know very well what kind of action this is because they announced it in advance. This is the extermination of Warsaw Jewry and, afterwards, our end.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

A. Sophokles – Antigone:

Antigone: No matter—Death longs for the same rites for all.
Creon: Never the same for the patriot and the traitor.
Antigone: Who, Creon, who on earth can say the ones below don’t find this pure and uncorrupt?
Creon: Never. Once an enemy, never a friend, not even after death.
Antigone: I was born to join in love, not hate—that is my nature.
Creon: Go down below and love, if love you must—love the dead! While I’m alive, no woman is going to lord it over me.
(From Brad DeLong’s Journal)

(See Pepe’s Potpourri D. above. The rogue trader’s manager that put preservation of the organization above untold wealth was fired. Little has changed in 3000 years. We men still behave like Creon. That is why I wrote some time ago:

“For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion on earth has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures to be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years every justification of those structures have been developed by men to benefit men.”)

B. Do you agree with this?

“Not all Republicans are racists, but most racists are Republicans.”
Anonymous.

TODAY’S CHART:

577687_10151572256535155_1868687208_n

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN0904

Silver and Blue

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Capt. Coast 0002 (May 12, 2013)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

April, May and June tend to be the hottest months of the year in Thailand. Since I have been here, the temperature has hovered well in the high 90s and low 100s .

For the first week or so I cultivated the hypochondria brought on by jet-lag and BKK air pollution. I attempted to while away my time by reading trashy vacation-time novels. You know, those novels you turn to when you are lying on the sand under an umbrella with nothing to do but stare at the water while bemoaning the fact that recreational drugs are not readily available to numb you even further into insensibility. I guess alcohol is an alternative but it always gives me agita.

In my case, I decided to read all 15 or so books of the Dresden Files at about one a day. I have just finished book ten. They are about Harry Dresden a wizard working as a private detective in Chicago battling the unending horrors escaping from the spirit world threatening to engulf the City in a reign of vampires and ghouls and unspeakable other creatures and bury it under 50 feet of ectoplasm.

Like I said trash, inventive trash but trash none the less. Now I know what some of you are asking yourselves, “I thought he said he was afraid of horror movies.” Well yes, movies; books not so much. I do not know why.

Anyway it has been somewhat interesting to observe that by reading the several books in this short period of time some of the overriding plot lines and emerging back stories have begun to manifest themselves. For example: Who really started the war between the Wizards of the White Council and the Vampires of the Red Court; Is Mab, Fairy Queen of the Winter Sidhe, really going insane; Who is behind the Cowl; Will Harry’s half brother Thomas, the incubus, truly find happiness as a hairdresser sucking bits of the life force from his adoring clients and; Will Harry ever get laid.* It seems the flash of even the slightest bit of skin from any female from 14 through 400,000 years old (many are almost immortal spirits after all) appears to turn Harry into a salivating imbecile. One would think that since wizards are masters of do-it-yourself Harry by this time would have learned how to relieve himself of his perpetual horniness. At least a half a dozen times per novel he finds himself with an erection moments before some horror from the netherworld beats the shit out of him. That is some bad Juju..

In his Notes, the author claims that he was fascinated with the Swords and Sorcery genre ever since as a child he first read the Hobbit and although throughout his writing career he tried to write similar fantasy novels he was not very good and it. He was very pleased, however, that readers seemed to like his wizard-detective stories.

Well, I am very happy for him. Throughout my life I wanted to grow up. I wasn’t very good at it and the best I could manage was to grow old. No one I know liked that at all, least of all me.

I went to the US embassy for some paperwork necessary for my visa extension. While I waited, the television in the waiting room was tuned into the Discovery Station as it always is when it is not tuned on to CNN. As usual the program was about things killing and devouring other things. I wondered why National Geographic marketing was aimed at the adolescent and seriously delayed post-adolescent male segment of the viewing public. Why not market say, for women? I would not presume to know what they would prefer, but I doubt it would be killing, blood and bones in high-definition color every time, all the time. When I looked around me, I saw the young men glassy-eyed and smiling staring up at the screen while the women for the most part looked down at the floor or at the notices and posters that covered the walls.

I thought the Discovery Channel was supposed to awaken the interest in young minds in science and discovery. What sort of scientists are they looking for that would be fascinated in learning more about how a killer whale rips the head off a seal or a lion disembowels a gazelle? Why not try love for a change?

(*Note: Some of these questions surprisingly have actually been answered in Book 11 which I have just finished reading. Harry gets laid although with unhappy results and his half-brother definitely has not found happiness. We still, however, do not know about Mab’s potential psychosis and who or what is behind the war or under the cowl. Alas, I may never find out the answers to these questions as Amazon has announced that my Kindle is now somehow outside its jurisdiction and refuses to provide me with a new password to correct it. I now have a flaccid Kindle.)

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

You go girl:

A 28-year-old female US sailor beat the bejesus out of a bus driver in Dubai after he pulled a knife on her and announced he was going to rape her. [...]
Basically, she got on the bus after shopping, he drove to a bus terminal, pulled a knife on her, and told her he was going to rape her. So she beat the crap out of him.

http://americablog.com/2013/04/female-us-sailor-beats-the-crp-out-of-bus-driver-who-tries-to-rape-her.html

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.

Chapter 14:

The question was simple enough. So was the answer: I was here to try to keep from having my ass kicked and she was the last person on a very short list that I haven’t spoken to. Of course I couldn’t say that with Joe Vu sitting here so I went with:

“I’m here on behalf of out mutual client, Martin Vihn. He would like to know what you have done with Clarence Reilly and wanted me to inform you that unless you return him before this evening, there will be no nookie for you tonight?”

I had to hand it to her, except for a slight tightening around the eyes, Lily showed absolutely no reaction to my question unlike Joe Vu who spit up his coffee all over his pants. Lilly said:

“Now I remember you. You were the one whose firm threw him out because he was crazy.”

Me: “Alas, I suffer an unfortunate condition. It’s like an unusual form of Tourette Syndrome. Every now and then, often in the most inappropriate situations, I have an irresistible impulse to blurt out the truth.”

Lilly: “Yes well…that’s not a particularly good condition for an attorney to have… With all due respect to Mr Vihn, and before I have security escort you out of the office, I would like you to know that I have no idea where to find my client Clarence Reilly and I am worried about him also. Good day, Mr. Dragon.”

Me: “Dragon will do.”

She got up and headed to the door out of the conference room. Before she reached the door, I said:

“Since Mark Holland is missing also, I’ve stepped into his shoes, so to speak, with Mavis. We’d like to know if you wanted to come over tonight for a threesome.”

She left the room with no indication that she heard what I said. I sat there for a moment staring at the door she left by then got up and left also. Joe followed. We went through the lobby and past the receptionist. She did not acknowledge our presence. Got to the elevator bank and pressed the button for the elevator. While we waited I noticed Joe staring at me.

“Well?” I said as the elevator arrived. As we stepped into the elevator he said, “Man, do you have to be crazy to be a detective? Because she’s right you’re nuts.”

Me:”What number rule are we on?”

Joe Vu:”Ah, rule number five, I think.”

Me again: “OK Rule Number Five: ‘When no one is paying any attention to you do something to make them.’”

Joe: “You could have set fire to the conference room or took your dick out and slammed it on the table.”

Me: “Hmm, those would work…a little too dramatic don’t you think?”

Joe: “So what did you hope to get from that?”

Me: “Maybe something and maybe nothing, who knows? But either way it will be information. That’s what investigators do. They gather and organize information. What they do not do is guess — even if it’s given a fancy name like deduction. If the information does not give you the answer then get some more — guessing just lowers your fees.”

I then added:

“Did you notice she never laughed, not even once? Not even out of embarrassment. Why do you suppose that is? She was insecure and offended? I don’t think so. But what do I know? Curious.”

The elevator doors opened. As we got out I told him that I would like some coffee. There’s a Peet’s in building Two on the street between Embarcadero Center buildings One and Two. I offered to buy him one. He refused and volunteered to get the car and drive it around to pick me up. I assumed he wanted to report in to Martin Vihn in private.

Before splitting up we went into the news and magazine store in the lobby. He to buy some gum and me a newspaper. I took out the sports section and handed the rest to him to take to the car.The shop had about half a hundred magazines displayed on racks. Being men we stopped a while to examine the covers. I then walked over to the coffee shop, leaving Joe engrossed in and chuckling at some soldier of fortune magazine.

The streets between the buildings are covered over by the mezzanine floor leaving them dark and uninviting. Having streets in the cool grey city of love cloaked in eternal gloom leaves them cold and foreboding. Scurrying away from them as quickly as possible is more likely on one’s mind than thoughts of love.

Peet’s Coffee sits at the intersection of the tunnel that runs through the building at street level and the street itself. I went in and ordered a small café latte. I leafed through the sports pages while waiting for my drink. I got the coffee, finished up a story about the San Francisco 49ers football teams most recent musclebound kamikaze acquisition and walked to the street to wait for Joe Vu.

There parked at the curb in a large silver-grey Mercedes and leaning out the window was the more talkative of the chubby twins. He had a big smile on his face and called out to me:

“Hiya sport.”

I shuddered. Not because of the chill or the sense of danger but because I felt caught in some strange time warp. Who the fuck calls anyone ‘sport’ anymore

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently President Obama in a well publicized speech encouraging toleration mentioned in general the historical contributions to our country of individuals, Americans, professing the Muslim faith. This has brought out the expected screams of anguish from those who seem to criticize our president for anything he says or does. I received an email from one of my correspondents, a middle-eastern non-muslim immigrant, forwarding a lengthy screed denying any contribution of anyone of that faith to our history and challenging anyone to demonstrate that any fought in the American Revolution, were residents during colonial times or otherwise contributed in any way to this country’s development. Well here are some:

1. “Islam is Peace” said President George W. Bush in a speech. He also once held hands with an Arab muslim.
2. 20% of the slaves brought to America were muslim thereby, I suspect, many of them predating the arrival on these shores of the ancestors of the people making the claims in the email.
3. Salem Poor, Yuef Ben Ali, Bampett Muhamed and Francis and Joseph Saba served in the American Revolutionary Army.
4.Estavanco was a muslim (North African Berber) who explored what is now Arizona and New Mexico for Spain.
5. Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad was a Fula Muslim from Timbo he became the religious leader and Imam for a slave community numbering approximately eighty Muslim men residing on his plantation. During the War of 1812, Muhammad and the eighty Muslim men under his leadership protected their master’s Sapelo Island property from a British attack. In 1829, Bilali authored a thirteen page Arabic Risala on Islāmic beliefs and the rules for ablution, morning prayer, and the calls to prayer. Known as the Bilali Document, it is currently housed at the University of Georgia in Athens.
6. In 1790, the South Carolina legislative body granted special legal status to a community of Moroccans
7. in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president.
8. In 1863 Muhammad Ali ibn Said (also known as Nicholas Said) enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was later granted a transfer to a hospital department, where he gained some knowledge of medicine.
9. Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb (November 9, 1846, Hudson, New York – October 1, 1916, Rutherford, New Jersey), a muslim convert, was an American writer, publisher, and the United States Ambassador to the Philippines.
10. 1840 Yemini and Turkish immigration begins. They settled primarily in Dearborn Mich., Quincy Mass and Ross North Dakota.
11. 1906 Bosnian Muslims settle in Chicago.
12. 1907 Polish Muslims settle in NY.
13. Two of the most prominent Chinese American Muslims are the Taiwan National Revolutionary Army Generals Ma Hongkui and his son Ma Dunjing, who moved to Los Angeles after fleeing from China to Taiwan. Pai Hsien-yung, son of the Chinese Muslim General Bai Chongxi, is a Chinese Muslim writer who moved to Santa Barbara, California after fleeing from China to Taiwan.
14. There are over 2000 mosques in the United States and the nation’s largest mosque, the Islāmic Center of America, is in Dearborn, Michigan.
15. There are more than 15,000 doctors practicing medicine in the USA who are of Pakistani origin alone and the number of Pakistani American millionaires was reported to be in the thousands.
16. 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners, with 19 percent claiming annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher (compared to 16 percent for the Muslim population as a whole and 17 percent for the U.S. average). This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.
17. As of May 30, 2005, over 15,000 Muslims were serving in the United States Armed Forces.
18. Data released from the 2010 U.S. Religion Census shows Islam was the fastest growing religion in America in the last 10 years, with 2.6 million living in the U.S. today.
19. Marine Corps Captain Aisha Bakkar-Poe a Muslim woman whose family emigrated from Syria said after 9/11, “Those terrorists must be reading a completely different Koran than the rest of us…This isn’t about Islam it’s about terrorism.”
(Much of the above is from Wikipedia)

(I do not particularly like Islam as I do not particularly like any of the Abrahamic religions if for no other reason than the horrors that they have inflicted on each other and others in their name, but I hate bigotry more.)

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

In the course of my life and my many careers I have been involved in development, start-up and management of four separate governmental entities that either have had significant effects on the society in which they operate. They are the State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service, The California Coastal Commission and its Coastal Plan, The California State Coastal Conservancy, and California’s High Speed Rail Authority. I have, to a greater of lesser degree, discussed each of these entities in prior issues of “This and that…” that can be found in the blog listed at the bottom of this page and in several other blogs and posts I have written.

I wrote a number of posts about how my involvement in California Coastal Program began and developed. However, for whatever reason, I did not complete the series. What got me thinking about writing this series now was a blog post I recently read mentioning that the Coastal Conservancy had virtually exhausted the billion dollar fund it had been using these past 35 years or so to preserve land and restore the natural resources of California’s coast. In addition, due in part to California’s current Governor Jerry Brown’s strong support for the State’s High Speed Rail program, that initiative for good or ill has found itself in the media spotlight.

I will begin in the next issue of “This and that…” with the Mental Health Information Service.

DAILY FACTOID:

Game of Thrones Linguist Interview Reveals High Valyrian Dragons, Wrong Khaleesis, and More:

“Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.
“A dragon is not a slave.”

Of note here: the word for dragon, zaldrīzes. Also, buzdari is stressed on the second syllable even though the a is not long because this isn’t actually a High Valyrian word: It’s an Astapori word that Dany is using on purpose. The High Valyrian word for slave is dohaeriros (whose root you may recognize), but the word they use in Astapor is buzdar, which has its roots in Ghiscari.”
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Testosterone Chronicles:

Why universal emancipation and social ascendency of woman is necessary for human survival.

“A human population with adequate food, and with reasonable pre-modern public health will do what the English settler population did in North America in the two centuries after 1600: it will double from natural increase each generation. Only Malthus’s “positive check”—plague, famine, children malnourished so that their immune systems are compromised and cannot fight off bacterial or viral infections, women so malnourished that they cease ovulating—can keep population stable. Even Malthus’s “preventative check”—priests threatening those who engage in illicit sexual intercourse with damnation, fathers refusing to let their daughters marry until the suitor is established with a farm of his own, brothers refusing to let younger lineage males marry until lineage resources increase, kings to enforce Poor Laws and confine vagrants and those without visible means of support—cannot do much. Only with the coming of female literacy and artificial means of birth control can a society maintain both a slowly growing or stable population and a substantial edge in median standard of living over subsistence.”
Brad DeLong (http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/demography-twentieth-century-economic-history-weblogging.html#more)

B. Tales of Inhumanity:

7th May 1943, The ‘end of the world’ approaches in the Warsaw Ghetto (Part I).

A young woman writes:

Five difficult and tragic days have passed. In this short time, we have had many experiences. Our living conditions were difficult from the moment we entered our hideaway and they became worse since we have taken in 45 people. Most of them had no food. At midnight on Monday, the electricity was cut off. We are now faced with a serious problem: how will we cook? We do not have stoves connected to a chimney. The bunker leaders deliberated this problem for three days and, in the meantime, arguments broke out. Brother fought with sister, friend fought with friend and they all fought among themselves. Hunger skipped no one.

The quarreling was so loud that the echoes were probably heard outside the bunker. The situation was terrible, and dangerous as well. The emotional state of the people is dreadful. Some of them lie on the ground unconscious. The most vulnerable are the children. We have already been through three days without hot food.

In the end, the problem of the kitchen was solved. But it is preferable to avoid addressing someone in order to maintain the silence because every question brings offensive and coarse replies. The people in the bunker are behaving without courtesy and consideration.The night was horrific. There was terrible irritability.

I witnessed a shocking event when Jews were removed from the bunker in a neighboring house. During my night guard duty I lay next to the judasz and listened to conversations going on outside.

The conversation between the Germans, full of irony and sadism, made my body go cold and my blood boil. Yes, the Germans are certain that they are justified. We are considered murderers and they want to present themselves as the epitome of morality and humanity. Descriptions of the blind hatred towards us, the persecuted and tortured, made me feel as though salt was being spread on my open wounds. Their words always ended with coarse laughter.
(From Brad DeLongs Journal)

(There have been many genocides in human history, a number of them perhaps greater and crueller even than the Holocaust that ended in 1945, but none so well documented by the victims themselves. This testimony allows us, perhaps for the first time, to glimpse the true horror of hatred.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

The Bible Speaks: On environmental protection.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

“Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:17-18)

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24)

“You must keep my decrees and my laws…. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:26, 28)

“You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

“If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)

“I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.” (Jeremiah 2:7)

(It is interesting how easy it is to use or misuse the bible to justify or condemn just about anything. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why our founding fathers were so adamant about separating church and state.)

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S CHART

6a00e551f080038834017ee9a68c2f970d

(Sort of looks a lot like a map of the vote in the last election. The dark blue counties containing the highest percentage of high achievers roughly corresponds to those counties that voted for Obama in the last election)

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1271

Yellow on Blue

Note: those interested in back issues of This and that…. they can be found at: josephpetrillo.wordpress.com

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Capt. Coast 0002 (May 3, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

On early Monday morning I left for Bangkok.

The day before I took Hayden and his friend Roland to see the 3D version of Jurassic Park. I do not like horror movies. They frighten me. Ever since I was a kid terrorized by a movie poster advertising Bela Lugosi as Dracula and unable to sleep without hearing the flutter of vampire wings outside my window, I have avoided all horror movies. I cannot even watch those movies featuring randy adolescents camping next to a cemetery or exploring a haunted house who, one by one, get gruesomely murdered. I do not know why it is that they scare me so much. I can watch war movies and various thrillers without fear, but put in a zombie, a deranged creature (I could not watch Godzilla) or some guy in a hockey mask, I freak out. No amount of persuading myself that it is just a movie helps. So it was that as I exited the theater ashen faced and shaking (I am not exaggerating. My whole body was shaking and it was not even a well done or very scary movie) the two eight-year-olds smirked and informed me happily that they were not afraid at all. Well, good for them.

During the flight, every hour or so, I would leave my seat and, as my doctors recommended, power-walk up and down the aisles from one end of the plane to the other. Every once in a while I would slip into the lavatory to examine myself for symptoms of something amiss. While there I generally would apply copious amounts of the complementary skin moisturizer and cologne. I also made sure I flushed the toilet just before leaving to let everyone on line waiting to use the restroom know that I was in there doing my business and not just fooling around or sitting there thinking about what would really happen if I tampered with the smoke detectors.

The worst part of the 20 or so hour trip however was wondering about what people would say if I got another blood clot and died. I imagined something like, “What on earth possessed him to take such a risk.” Before I left I thought I had good and compelling reasons, but now I realized they were mere rationalizations for whatever was so deeply imbedded in my psyche that impelled me to act as I did.

Nothing new in that, I have become convinced most of the reasons we tell ourselves that we need to do something have little to do with why we do whatever it is we end up doing. They are merely a handy thing, whenever we are successful, to tell ourselves and others. You know, “I knew what I was doing all along.”

The Little Masseuse met me at the airport upon my arrival in Bangkok. I left it to her to take charge of getting me back to my apartment. Actually the Taxi ride was the worst part of the trip. Bangkok traffic being what it is, it took us an hour and a half on the freeway to travel a distance not much farther than from SFO to downtown San Francisco. Since I was cramped into the backseat of one of those tiny automobiles that serve as taxi’s in Thailand and unable to move my legs, I was sure I would die there in a traffic jam on the skyway. I didn’t.

We eventually arrived in front the apartment building. The temperature outside was above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the pollution was so thick you could see it. We went straight into the apartment and turned the AC on high. LM massaged my feet and legs and I fell asleep while she went to by some things with which to make dinner.

As we ate we talked. I’m of Italian heritage. Talking at meals is an important part of the dining experience. I have read somewhere that there are cultures that do not see it quite that way. Anyway, as usual for LM and I, it was a limited, halting discussion since her mastery of english was rudimentary and my grasp of Thai non-existent. She did tell me a few more stories about life as a masseuse in a Bangkok health club (see below).

After dinner I slept for about 16 hours.

For the next two days I stayed mostly in the apartment drifting on and off to sleep as I dealt with jet lag. On the third day I made it to the health club and swam a few laps.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Oh where have you gone Annie Hall?

Recently I read that scientific studies have revealed that the fear of death in those suffering terminal illnesses can be ameliorated or eliminated by administering the active ingredient contained in a common over-the-counter pain reliever medication.

As a result, 10,000 years of one of the foundation pillars of human philosophy and art, speculation on the meaning of death, has been overcome by a bottle of Tylenol. What’s next? Will we find that the pangs of love can be ended by Preparation H ?….. Come to think of it, that would probably do it.

When I read the report I immediately felt sorry for Woody Allen. Imagine…”That’s it Woody, no more movies for you. Take two Tylenol and a suppository and after a good night’s sleep you will feel better in the morning.”

2. Back in Thailand.

When I left Thailand almost four months ago, the only serious political issue upon which the two major parties seemed to spend any time on was whether or not the deposed, exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin the Terrible brother of the current prime minister (or perhaps more accurately, prim minister), Yingluck Shinawatra, Princess LuckyGirl, would be allowed back into the country. Upon my return I have learned that the only serious political issue upon which the two major parties seemed to spend any time on remains whether or not the deposed, exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin the Terrible brother of the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Princess LuckyGirl, would be allowed back into the country.

3. It’s like this all over:

The standard governmental administered retirement benefit in Thailand used to be about $20 per month (no that is not a typo). The new so-called populist government recently raised it to about $23 per month. Those prognosticators hired by Thais making about 1000 times more than this warn that it will lead to the countries ruin.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Brigid Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.

Chapter 13:

Lilly Park in person was even more attractive than in her photograph. She wore a fresh white blouse that sparkled above the skirt of her power suit several shades darker and two inches shorter than that of her administrative assistant. Also unlike her administrative assistant, she was not wearing a jacket. A privilege of power, I suppose. She wore no jewelry except small pearl studs on her ear lobes and a fuck-you watch. Her hair was short, black and efficiently swept back across the tops of her ears. I made a mental note to ask Mavis if she had any tattoos.

She strode purposefully over to Joe Vu, who had risen from his seat and shook his hand. She greeted him warmly by name and mentioned that she had spoked with Martin Vihn last night.

She then turned her attention to me.

There have been studies that have shown that the two jobs containing the highest percentage of psychopaths are attorneys and corporate CEOs; more so than even cops and generals. So, when you look into the eyes of a lawyer or a CEO there is a relatively high probability a hardened criminal is looking back at you. Unlike the stone cold killers of the streets, who make up the psychopathic proletariat and who usually do the job by themselves, they, these psychopaths in suits, have learned how to destroy whoever gets in their way by using others. At least that’s how men do it. Other than to recognize that there are a lot fewer of them, what’s in the mind of women psychopaths, I cannot hazard a guess; except perhaps to observe that in my callow youth before it became misspent, I suspect some of them at least were those older woman we referred to as “Bad Girls.”

Bad Girls were those girls to whom your mind would wander from the Playboy Centerfold while you were doing your business in the bathroom and of whom you lived in fear because in some unguarded moment you might speak to them and they would ignore you.

I got the immediate impression that Lilly Park was a very bad girl and that I was seriously overmatched. Anyone that could ride on the back of Mavis’s Harley in the Dykes on Bikes segment of San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade and also comfortably sit in a partners chair in a major downtown law firm was someone to be reckoned with.

She held out her hand, not like men do at waist level, but as some super confident women do, at almost shoulder level and with a smile that did not make it up into her eyes. Said:

“I’m Lilly Park. Whom do I have the pleasure of meeting?”

No one speaks like that unless they were in an Edwardian costume drama or assumed you were an idiot.

Instead of grasping her offered hand, I handed her my business card and sat down at the conference table, mimicking her smile the best I could. Said:

“Most people call me Dragon.”

Her smile tightened slightly. She sat down stared at the card a moment and said:

“Well Mr. Dragon…”

“Just Dragon.”

“…Matt Dragoni rings a bell but I can’t place it. Have we met?”

“Maybe, at one time I was in the same racket as you a few buildings closer to the Bay.”

Her smile had almost totally disappeared by now.

“So what made you leave to become a…detective?”

“I thought looking into motel windows photographing errant husbands and wives would introduce me to a better class of people.”

“Well did it?” Her smile broadened a bit.

“Not really, I couldn’t see any difference.”

Her voice hardened. “So what brings you to my office today?”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

CEO_worker_pay_ratio

B. Waste in Defense Procurement:

According to Dina Razor, investigative journalist:

“For decades, the DoD has decided what each new weapon will cost by looking at what historically similar weapons “did cost” in the past. So, if you decide to buy a new fighter plane, you look at what the previous plane cost as the baseline, and then add on more for all the new advances and gadgets you plan to put on the new plane. This has been disastrous because all of the contractor’s fraud, waste and fat that were tolerated in the past plane’s costs by the ever-appeasing DoD bureaucracy now become the baseline for the new plane. This makes every generation of weapon more and more unaffordable as the waste and fraud from generations before is rolled over to the new weapon. The result is that the bloated costs are expanded exponentially and we have fewer and fewer weapons for more and more money …”

(In other words, military contractors and DOD contracting procedures are not making you safer. They are making you poorer.)

 

C. The Banality of Evil:

 

(Photograph unavailable at this time)

 
Statement made by Josef Blösche following his arrest in 1969:

“The Liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto: I have looked at the given photocopy. Concerning the person in the SS uniform, standing in the foreground of a group of SS members and holding a sub-machine gun in firing position and wearing a steel helmet with motorcycle goggles, this is me.

The picture shows that I, as a member of the Gestapo office in the Warsaw Ghetto, together with a group of SS members, am driving a large number of Jewish citizens out from a house. The group of Jewish citizens is comprised predominantly of children, women and old people, driven out of a house through a gateway, with their arms raised.

The Jewish citizens were then led to the so-called Umschlagplatz, from which they were transported to the extermination camp Treblinka.”
(From Brad DeLong’s Journal: Grasping Reality with Both Invisible Hands)

(I cannot look at that photograph without becoming physically ill.)

B. Tales of the Little Masseuse:

In Bangkok there is a world-famous hospital to which people from all over the world flock, especially from the Arab countries of the Middle East and from India. Although cosmetic surgery is one of the hospitals most lucrative services, is also does a thriving business in artificial insemination.

The hospital is located a few blocks from the health club in which the Little Masseuse works. Every now and then a gentleman would show up at the health club, plastic cup in hand, seeking assistance from the masseuses in depositing the precious fluid into the cups.

This would occasionally cause difficulties between the masseuses and the health club management. It seems that the deposit is required to presented back at the hospital within twenty minutes of its collection. This, at times caused the client to have to rush out with his valuable cargo well before the hour of massage he paid for was up, leading the management to accuse the workers of providing poor service or of outright dishonesty.

Anyway, one day a distinguished and portly Indian gentleman appeared at the health club and presented himself and his plastic cup to the Little Masseuse. In making idle conversation as she often does during a massage she asked him, “Why are you doing this?”

“Because I want to have children, two of them in fact, and this is the only way I can.”

“May I ask,” she inquired, “why have you not done this by yourself instead of coming here to the health club?”

He responded, “Because I want my children to be happy.”
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“My friends always ask me why I still have so much sex if I am not cumming, it’s not about the orgasm for me, it’s about the power and the energy I get from it. I am still frustrated because I haven’t cum but I get such a relief and a buzz from having that energy with another man. I love the excitement, the rush, the force and the overall act of sex. I also love seeing, hearing and feeling a man cum from having sex with me. I feel a sense of power once he has cum because he is delirious and exhausted where as I am completely in control of what has happened and I just feel satisfied, not sexually but mentally. I think that’s why I usually always go off a guy as soon as I have had sex with him because I have accomplished what I wanted to with him and now I’m bored so I want to go on to my next project. Whenever I go on a date with a guy I am not thinking about where this might go or what we may do on our next date, I’m thinking about how I can break him and manipulate him with sex. It’s like a game for me, I love finding out what will drive a man to do exactly what I want in bed, what gets him off and most importantly what his dirtiest turn on is as that is what fascinates and excites me the most.”
(http://sexandtheshameless.wordpress.com)

(Excerpt from a blog written by a woman who supposedly suffers from an addiction to sex describing her obviously unsuccessful efforts to break her habit.)

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S CHART:

reporting-matrix-2012-1_big

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1208

Clouds

Note: those interested in back issues of This and that…. they can be found at: josephpetrillo.wordpress.com

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Joey 0002 (April 17, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I have been back in El Dorado Hills for a few days now. It is that time of the year when the weather fluctuates wildly; a few days of sunny warmth like early summer followed by a few days of the dying winter’s cloudy cold. Little happens here. Or more accurately my life is fairly regular with little emotional involvement in what goes on around me.

I assume there are as many strange and interesting things going on here behind the doors of the quiet homes in the various subdivisions as anywhere else. But for the most part they do not spill over into the streets as they often do in cities; to lie there and fester and sometimes spread like a disease. And, as perhaps unfortunately so often the case entertain those like me for whom voyeurism is a profession. So, instead I have to entertain myself with simple things to keep from going mad with boredom.

For example, right outside the window of the cafe where I am sitting having breakfast there is a small fountain in the center of which a few jets of water shoot gaily into the air. The water then falls back on itself creating pillars of snowy white water. The morning sun strikes these liquid pillars creating an ever-changing mixture of shades, textures and shapes. So I stare at is much like I would stare into a fire in a fireplace until I pull away because I feel like an idiot for having so little to do that I have to stare at a puddle of water for amusement.

To fill in the time, I have taken to obsessive reading, filling up my kindle library with about 40 books in the last six weeks. Alas, I seem to have become addicted to stories featuring magic; you know, wizards and things like that. When I cannot sleep I curl up for hours with my computer reading about potions, werewolves and stuff. I am so ashamed. Damn you Harry Potter!

I did not feel up to traveling to SF last weekend but will try to make it next weekend since it will be my last before leaving for Thailand.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: “You don’t have to trust me as long as you can persuade me to trust you.”

Chapter 12:

The next morning at 9:30 I waited in front of the Utah Hotel on Fourth Street for the delinquent to pick me up. I replayed in my mind last night’s adventures with Mavis. The jungle’s mystery has disappeared replaced with the familiarity of the hunter returning to the clearing he calls home with a dead monkey draped over his back. In between hunts I told her about my day with Martin Vihn and Joe Vu. She claimed that she had never met Martin Vihn, but that one day someone who seemed to fit the description of Vu dropped by the Tattoo parlor to pick up Holland. She was never told where they were going. Vu hung around the shop for a while while Holland got ready. He joked with her about getting a jungle themed tattoo. She observed that Holland seemed nervous and obsequious around Vu which she thought was strange given how much younger Vu was and how immaturely he behaved.

I asked her again what she assumed they were up to in the business. She said that, as she understood it, they intended to import household furniture from South East Asia made from wood grown in the area. The furniture was designed as a modern version of traditional South East Asian furniture; sort of like the Vietnamese version of Scandinavian Design. Reilly was supposed to have contacts with large retailers in the US and elsewhere. The initial shipment, to be used as models, arrived about a week ago.

That was all she really knew about it she insisted. I still did not believe her, but I did not know why.

Joe Vu arrived right on time. As I got into the Lexus and he said “Where to boss?”

“One Embarcadero Center”

“What’s there boss?”

“Lilly Park…where there is money to be made there are always lawyers around.”

During the drive I probed Vu regarding the furniture import business. He pretty much confirmed Mavis’ story. I did learn however that Martin Vihn had an interest along with his younger brother in a large warehouse in Redwood City where the furniture was to be stored. I asked him when the furniture was due to arrive.

He said, “It arrived a week ago boss.”

“Well, what happened to it?”

“That’s the question Martin would like to ask Reilly after we find him.”

Given the fact that I was so focused on extricating myself from the clutches of my various clients with my fees intact that I failed grasp this essential bit of obvious information, I realized that it may be time I take things more seriously. Up until now I had assumed that Reilly or Holland or both had simply scampered off with the smuggled goods (dope or now that I think of it, precious stones) or the money from their sale. But to disappear a couple of containers full of furniture first seemed pretty extreme. Why?

Unable to proceed further on that tack, out of simple curiosity I asked Vu if Martin Vihn was born in Viet Nam. He explained that Martin and was born in Vietnam but was brought here as a baby after the fall of Saigon by his father, a high-placed General in the South Vietnamese Army. The family was large and well placed in both the South and among the Viet Cong.

I asked if he were born here also.

Vu: “No Boss, Martin sponsored me when I was eleven.” Added, “My family were the ones that kicked your ass.”

Me: “excuse me”

Vu: “The Cong man. My father was a general too. A Viet Cong General. He would tell me a lot of stories about the war for independence.”

Me: “That must have been interesting.”

Vu: “Yeah… every day both before and after school my father made me and my older brothers practice in case the The Americans returned or the Chinese invaded.”

Me: “What did you practice?”

He looked at me and smiled. “Killing and hiding, what the hell do you think we were learning – - Communist bullshit?” And then he burst out laughing.

We arrived at the Embarcadero Center complex.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

slide_224090_932007_free

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.”
Al Pacino

TODAY’S CHART:

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(Note: it should be pointed out that the above chart, if it is accurate, describes only the $650 billion Department of Defense budget. The total US defense budget in 2010 actually may total about $1.3 trillion, about double the expenditures in the DoD budget alone.

(Note: Graphic unavailable at this time)

These expenditures are greater than almost all the military outlays for all the other countries of the world combined. Is it so unreasonable to believe that at least 10% of those expenditures and wasted and inefficient? If so and they are eliminated it would end the current budget deficit and we still would be able to continue to spend more on defense than everyone else.)

TODAY”S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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White on Blue.

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Joey 0002 (April 9, 2013)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BERKELEY:

The medical procedure to remove the filter inserted in my vein to catch loose clots turned into something of a farce. Arriving at the hospital at 7:30 AM, I was soon stripped of clothing, interviewed at length by hospital security regarding valuables and poked and prodded for various tests. About an hour and a half later following questions from the nurse regarding medications and subsequent discussions with the operating doctor and my primary care physician it was determined that the operating doctor’s instructions to both me and my regular doctor were wrong and that I had to stop taking the meds for at least 24 hours. So I left and returned to my sister’s house.

At 10 AM the next day, the appointment time given to me by the treating physician, I arrived at the hospital and sat in the waiting room for about two hours. No one could explain why I had to wait.

Finally I went through the same various tests and procedures I had gone through the day before. This time for some reason they could not find a working vein for extracting blood for my blood work and for attaching the IV’s. So they explored. At least seven times they inserted the needles into my body and rooted around to find some blood.

The operation itself was anti-climatic taking all of about one minute to dope me up, slice into my neck and remove the filter.

Following the operation, the anesthesiologist showed me the filter. It was about an inch long and equally wide and looked a lot like a metallic spider. She pointed out a clot imbedded among the tines. She also said the she was certain she had seen me before. I assured her that that was unlikely.

Against the doctors orders, I decided to drive directly back to Sacramento. So I picked up Hayden and our luggage at my sister’s house and left.

During the drive I explained to Hayden that he had to make sure I did not fall asleep due to any residual effects of the anesthesia. So we played “What am I thinking.” A game I learned from the Dalls as something they used on long drives to divert their children. At one point, during a lull in the game I mentioned to H. that talking was a good thing to do to keep me awake.

He said:

“In that case, there is something you should know about me. I am really an alien from Cluton sent here by my parents. That is why I act like I do. I have three hearts and five stomaches one of which is dedicated exclusively to digesting fish smoothies. I also have three butts one of which I lost during the Butt Wars which we lost and is why my parents sent me here to earth. I am filled with ‘joy bubbles’ which allow me to float in air or water if I want. You should also know that music makes me crazy.”

With that he turned on the radio to a music station and acted…well crazy until finally and thankfully he shut the radio off.

Who knew?

(A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.)

Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of “This and that…” would permit them to fall within the class of no one.

We arrived at the house in El Dorado Hills at about 9PM. I turned the Clutonian over to Dick and put myself to bed.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

A Thai Comments on his Society:

Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most widely read english language daily newspaper wrote some time ago:

“Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.”

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: Everybody has something to conceal.

Chapter Eleven:

While my minder and putative student, the ex-delinquent Joe Vu, drove us off toward the library, I leaned back in my seat and tried to think. As is often the case the first thoughts to enter my mind were about money. In two days I collected almost $5000 dollars for little more effort than taking a shot to the jaw and having to change my clothing.

My second thought was about sex. In most cases it was usually the first. I did not know why it wasn’t that now. It certainly was not Mavis’ fault. The tattooed lady, my client, brought with her a perversity in the bedroom that one usually had to pay for. Still I wondered how much I was going to end up paying anyway.

Finally I got around to the case. What did I know about Holland and Reilly? They were hooked up in something, drugs still remained the most probable, along with Vihn, Mavis and God knows who else. They were missing and a lot of people were looking for them.

People look for other people for three reasons, money, sex or guilt. I don’t think any of the seekers here are feeling particularly guilty about the missing individuals. As for sex, Mavis seems quite able to satisfy herself and does not appear to be the jealous type. And, unless Reilly was shtupping his wife or girlfriend, Martin Vihn’s interest in him on that score made no sense unless he was a finocchio in heat – which I doubt. Whoever was running the Elephant Boys could have had a thing for Mark; extreme but still possible but highly unlikely given everything else that has gone on.

That leaves money. Someone has it and someone else wants it. Extortion seems possible but remote. So that means either Reilly or Holland have the money or information that leads to money and Mavis, Martin Vihn and the mysterious third party think they should have all or part of it. Nothing earth-shattering there or even useful.

I clearly will not get from either Mavis or Martin Vihn much about what the deal that somehow went bad and started all this was all about.

And what about the Two Ton Twins? Who were they working for?

Was someone else involved in the deal or somehow learned of it. On the other hand, maybe Reilly was the Tubby Tots boss and in hiding while for some reason looking for Holland.

Of course none of this really mattered. I was confident Reilly would show up whenever he finished with whatever else he was doing. I could rely on that. Vihn however scared me.

I knew I had to look good to my minder Joe Vu since he will report anything I do to Martin Vihn. That was annoying but probably not too difficult. If I just rooted around a lot and looked like I was working on finding Reilly I figured I could skate by. But what can I do to look like I was doing something? The only person in this mess that I knew about who I had not spoken to was Lilly Park. Meeting with her I decided would be something that would show Vihn I was on the job.

I did not worry about the long-term commitment I made to Vihn. I guessed once Reilly was found Marty would probably not want to continue to keep me on the tab at $1000 a month. Still it was good pay even if it was from a gangster. At least I thought he was a gangster. Even if he were a gangster he couldn’t be much worse that the so-called captain’s of industry that were my ex-law firm’s clients.

I turned to my smiling driver and said, “Joe?”

Joe: “Yeah boss – you finished doing number two now?

Me: “Huh?

Joe: “You know, the thinking thing.”

Me again: “Oh, yeah…uh…Not yet. But I’d like to know – what does Marty do for a living?”

Joe: “Never let him know you called him Marty. He hates that name.”

Me: “I’ll remember that. So what business is Martin Vihn in”

Joe: “You don’t want to know boss. Let’s just say he is in the import-export business.”

Me: “Are drugs part of that import-export business?”

Joe: “You don’t need to know that boss. Is this part of detecting?”

Me: “It is always good to know something about your client.”

Joe: “Believe me you know enough boss. Do you carry a gun? Detectives carry guns don’t they?”

Me surprised: “Not all do. I hate guns. Don’t carry one.”

Joe: “That’s OK.” He then reached over, opened the glove compartment and pulled out a black automatic pistol. “I have one just in case.” He waved it around.

Me shouting: “Shit! Put that back. You could hurt someone.” In fact, the only person I worried about being shot was me. I was always somewhat equivocal about gun control; not really caring who shot who or why – except kids of course. But I figured if a gun was discharged in my vicinity inevitably I would be the one shot. So I was willing to support gun control – not that I did anything about it except sign sidewalk petitions when I had nothing better to do and if there was a good-looking woman pushing the petitions.

Joe laughing: “OK boss.” He put the thing back into the glove compartment. “What are we looking for at the library?”

He had me there. Going to he library was the first thing that came into my mind to say in order to look like I was doing something. I had no idea where to begin looking for Reilly . Said, “I need to use their computers and reference library to begin tracking down Reilly.” That was the best I could come up with. What I really needed somewhere private to call Mavis. I could have gone home but I had no intention of letting Vu know where I lived.

When we arrived at the library I told Vu to drop me off, find a place to park and meet me in the reference room. That would get rid of him for a while and I could call Mavis without him listening in. Maybe I also could slip out of the place without him finding me.

I got out of the car and went into the building.

The new Main Branch of the San Francisco Public library was built about a decade or so ago and touted as one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the world. What that ment was that except for rooms dedicated to each of the more politically sophisticated interest groups at the time it was notably deficient in books on display. These were mostly locked away in stacks in the cavernous basements of the building, available to order. Like most of those who ardently supported the building of the library, I had never been in it. I had no idea where the reference room was located or even if there was one.

As soon as I got into the building I called Mavis and reprised my telephone call to her of yesterday without the shouting. I was in a library after all.

She said: “Oh yeah, Vihn. I forgot about him.”

Me, voice rising: “Forgot about him?”

Mavis: “Listen honey, I am in the middle of doing a customers back. He wants a jungle scene like mine and I’m in the middle of it. He grabbed my ass so I’m hiding a penis in the bushes.” She giggled. Continued: “We’ll talk more about it tonight. See ya, sweetie.” and she hung up.

I stood there looking at the phone when I heard, “Find what you’re looking for boss?”

Answered: “Uh… no. Let’s go.”

On the way to where he parked the car, I turned to Vu, said, “Look I’m exhausted. It’s late and I’m going home. I need to do more thinking. We’ll start again early tomorrow. I’ll walk from here.”

“No need boss, I’ll drive you.”

Clearly he was not going to let me get away that easy.

I directed him to the Utah Hotel on Fourth and Bryant. It was a low-cost single room occupancy hotel with an interesting bar on the ground floor. Told him I rented a long-term suite on the top floor. It was two blocks from my loft.

During the ride I asked him if he knew Lily Park. He indicated that she was one of Vihn’s attorney’s. Then he spent some time describing her looks and her body and explaining what he would do with the latter if he were given a chance to do so.

I said: “Was Martin Vihn fucking her?”

Joe: “I don’t know. All the ladies seem to like him. But he’s pretty cool about that.”

Me: “Is he gay?”

Joe laughing: “Fuck man you can get us both killed for even thinking that.”

When we arrived in front of the hotel, Vu turned to me and asked in all seriousness, “Is there anything I should be studying to learn about the detective business?”

I was taken aback. Thought as quickly as I could, said, “When you get home, go on line and watch the movie “The Maltese Falcon.” The version starring Humphrey Bogart. You ever seen it?”

“No,” but I heard of the Bogart guy, same as the old guys say when you slop up a blunt.”

“Yeah. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Meet me here at 9:30″

I got out of the car and walked into the hotel, waited a few minutes, went back out, checked to see that he had left and having satisfied myself that he had, walked home down Fourth Street.

DAILY FACTOID:

2012: 132 people provided over 60% of all the money contributed to political PAC’s in the US that year. That is only 0.000042 percent of the nation’s population.

(I strongly doubt any one of those 132 people gave that money without expecting something in return.

If you’re a politician, and you spend between 30 and 70 percent of your time begging for funds for the next election cycle, as American politicians do … who you gonna call? What are you going to offer them for their money?

There are 535 elected officials in Congress. They in effect work for those 132 people even though we, the rest of the 300 or so million Americans, pay their salaries.)
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

slide_224090_932006_free

(What does it say about a society that accepts that some fortunate few would become even richer while the rest of that society becomes poorer?)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

Review of Blood Sport, by Robert F. Jones, a re-issue of one of the greatest “mens” coming of age novels ever written:

“The best look at life as a man and the best description of (necessary?) madness ever put in print, there’s simply nothing like this book, nothing nowhere, nohow. R.F. Jones wrote a ‘lost’ masterpiece back in the 70s and I am SO glad to see it back in print. I can start giving it to the weak and the strong again, it’s good for what ails all of ‘em. This saga of a man and his son’s journey up the Hassayampa river, complete with exotic mixed grill, tourist traps and deadfalls, madness, mau-maus and Ratnose qualifies as a defining point in Mens Fiction of the latter 20th century. Let me repeat that, this is fiction for Men. No one get their politically correct undies in a wad, that was just a fair warning, the last you’ll get around here. Anybody whining after that was said, Ratnose throws to the dogs. The point is, you’re on your own up the Hassayampa, and that’s a big hint. Come on along, anybody interested, you’ll figure out whether you need something you ain’t got soon enough. The bunch of yez, load your pockets with ammo and jerky, check the knife in your boot and start steppin’. See what’s waiting for you up the river. Something different waiting for everyone, a vision quest that will end or it won’t, maybe just a new assessment of your foodchain pecking order. The Hassayampa giveth and it taketh away. You’ll see what I mean, just look at the flotsam floating by, mastadons and marlin, atlatls and motorbikes. You’re checking your backtrail? Then you’re as ready as you’ll ever be. What’re you waiting on? The water’s just fine. It told me so it’s own self.”

(Anyone interested in learning what lies at the dark heart of maleness should read this book. Anyone who wants to understand why I believe it is time for men to step aside and women take over should read this book. The Hassayampa has been covered over and turned into a parking lot. The male myth is dead. Ratnose has retreated to where the gods of Olympus now dwell. No longer will men look into his eyes and duel with fly rods for the souls of their sons.)

C. Tales of Inhumanity.

Samuel Zylberstein:

“They packed 120 people into a boxcar designed for 20 people or 10 horses. The doors were slid shut and sealed, the windows boarded up and covered with barbed wire. We stood crammed inside the closed box, each person glued to the next, forming a single mass. We could not raise our hands or make the slightest movement.

Terrible scenes took place in the cars between people who had been condemned to death, people who had lost their wits. Everyone tried pushing through to the door or window to find a crack, just to get a gulp of air. Some were sobbing, others fainted, but there was no room for them to fall. Their bodies simply stayed in place, pressed between our own.

All desperate cries and sobs were in vain. No help was coming; no help could come. Human feelings disappeared; we were no longer human. The stronger tried to break away to climb over the heads of the others, to win a little space so they could see outside.
Some were shouting, “I have to look outside! I have to see where they’re taking me! I know this road. I’m not going to the gas chamber! I’m going to jump from the train! Live or die by a bullet! No gas for me! It’s the strongest who’ll survive!”

The engines pulled slowly as the train rolled on toward the victims’ doom. The cars were guarded on both sides. Ukrainians were lying on the roof. Sometime during the night people standing by the cracks in the window claimed they were taking us to Treblinka. The prisoners began to panic.

Someone pried up a board and a few people tried to jump from the train, but unfortunately no one managed to escape. The murderers kept the entire route lit with spotlights, so they’d be sure not to miss anyone who attempted to get away. A friend of mine who was in the car asked me to hold his coat while he jumped and then throw the coat after him. I watched him: No sooner had he jumped than he was hit. His coat was riddled by bullets as well.
Every time someone jumped, all the Ukrainians up and down the train started shooting at once. Occasionally the train would stop and start again, leaving behind a trail of corpses.

In the middle of the night they started shooting into the cars through the windows. The lucky ones were hit and killed. They were free. We could no longer stand it – the crowding, the stench, the unbeatable thirst; we were covered with sweat and blood, the blood of our brothers.

We did what we could to gain a little calm during our last hours. Our limbs had grown stiff we couldn’t straighten our arms. Our brothers’ blood was on our clothes; we couldn‘t wipe it of and had to use our teeth to tear the garments off one another’s body. Then we stood naked inside the crowded, stinking car. The thirst was indescribable; we tried using our tongues to wet each others lips.
Toward dawn our car became less crowded: about 40 people were already dead, most killed by Ukrainian bullets fired through the walls. We tried to clean up so as not to trample their bodies. Now we were a little more “comfortable,” at least able to sit down on the blood-covered floor, but with every passing kilometer our fear and despair grew.

A panic broke out when we reached Malkinia: “Listenl They’re going to run us straight from the cars to the gas chambers! O God, O God, where are you!”

What they saw through the cracks took the last hope away from those who still had any illusions. People tore their hair, scratched at their faces, and broke their fingernails. That’s what the last minutes are like before a gruesome death in the gas chamber.
But ten men in our car could count themselves happy; ten jews were treated kindly by fate. “Now is the time, comrades,” said Dr. Mantel. “We have a little more room.” Ten young healthy people sat together on the blood-stained floor. They kissed one another, said their farewells, and then swallowed a dose of cyanide.

One minute later nine more bodies were lying in the car. The tenth was not affected; his dose must have been insufficient. Oh, you happy people! You no longer have to suffer, no longer have to bear the terrible hell that we must face. They can poison you with gas and burn you all they want, but you will be numb to the suffering.

Everyone envied those nine souls.

Of 120 people locked inside the car, 37 were still alive when the train arrived at the platform.”
(Excerpted from Brad DeLong’s Journal.)

TODAY’S QUOTES:

POOKIE’S PUERILE EPIGRAMS:

1. Consciousness is nothing more than post hoc rationalization.

2. Humans are not rational animals, but rationalizing ones.

3. Consciousness is whatever one tells oneself to keep away the darkness.
TODAY’S CHART:

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TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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The Duck Pond in El Dorado Hills

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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