This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Joe 0002

 

Dum Spiro, Spero.

“Economics, where the inmates get corporate funding to run the asylum.”
Mokurai

Happy Birthday Stevie.

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Well, so far today it’s been a good day. No one has called me an insensitive, dull-witted loser for a few days now (well maybe they have, but we’ll get to that later.) I woke up, dressed and walked to the health club. The overcast skies had departed briefly and the sun was shining. At the club, I sat in the lobby among the Old Men’s Caucus reading the newspapers and swapping stories.

After I did that for a while, I accompanied the Old Sailor to his locker where he took out a wooden box about the size of a small cigar box. He told me it contained the ashes of a close friend of his who had died a few months ago. The dead man’s sister, who lives in Ohio, sent them to the Old Sailor telling him that one of her brother’s last wishes was to send some of his ashes to the Old Sailor so that he could spread them around Bangkok’s houses of ill repute in his memory. So, the Old Sailor explained, he dutifully carried the box with him during his pleasure rounds sprinkling some of his friend’s remains around as he leaves the various establishments.

Now although at first this may seem to be simply a quirky amusing story, alas, it has a less appealing context. It demonstrates for the billion billionth time that the average human male equates his life with his genitals.

I suspect women tend to think there is more to their life than the happiness of their vaginas. I could never imagine a sane woman sending her ashes to her best friend and instructing her to sprinkle them over the floor of the singles bar whenever she leaves with some guy. Maybe pouring it into an ex-husbands coffee, perhaps.

After that, I left to do some banking and get my ticket to return to the US. For those interested in my peregrinations, I arrive in SFO sometime on the 23rd of August and intend to spend the evening in the Bay Area. From then until the end of the month I have no idea what my schedule will be or where I will bed down at night. However, I am looking forward to spending the Memorial Day weekend at my sister’s place in Mendocino.

After obtaining the ticket, I returned to the health club, swam, enjoyed a steam bath, showered and left for my weekly massage. Following that I walked back to my apartment, took a brief nap and wrote this. All and all it has been a good day so far.

Of course, I am of the temperament that believes that in life all good must be balanced by an equal or greater amount of bad. Although I try always to remain conscious of my motto, Dum Spiro, Spero (Where there’s Life there’s Hope), unfortunately, far too often I believe in its darker alternative: Dum Spiro, non Spero (Where there’s Life, there is no Hope). Nevertheless, whenever I feel entrapped in one of my periodic episodes of existential dread, I try to focus on the advice of three of my favorite American philosophers whose wisdom seems to me to fit most circumstances I face in my life:

Rosanna Rosannadanna: “It’s always something.”
Scarlett O’Hara: “Tomorrow is another day.”
Woody Allen: “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love.”

For those reading this you probably think I’m kidding. Well, let’s see about that.

Assume you have just experienced a serious tragedy. The first thing you may want to tell your self is, “It’s always something.” If that does not work for you, then try, “Tomorrow is another day.” That still doesn’t do it, then it may be time for you to try sex with someone you love (or at least never tells you they don’t feel like it right now).

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

Well, another pretty good day in the bank. It started at the Old Man’s Caucus at the health club. The Old Sailor and I decided to go to Khao San Road so that I can pick up a driver’s license. Despite its notoriety I had never been to Khao San Road before. It has been described as, “The Place to Disappear.” For years it was the backpackers center of Thailand where one could buy almost anything, especially drugs and STD. To me it looked more like the Venice California boardwalk than Bangkok, only the sellers in the stalls lining both sides of the street were not western tourists.

After securing the license, we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s where we were joined by Joe a man who looked like the cadaverous twin of Jerry Merrill. Both the Old Sailor and Joe hinted that they were suffering some truly life threatening maladies. Joe’s skin was pocked with oozing sores. I was disappointed to learn that although I thought they both were substantially older than I, they were actually two years younger.

I spent the afternoon sitting in that McDonald’s on Khao San Road listening to their stories of trips around the world with stolen credit cards, dope deals gone bad, scams that worked and those that didn’t and the mysterious disappearance of four kilos of gold. After that, we went to the travel agency and internet café around the corner where we played on Skype for a while talking to some guy in the Philippines in order to arrange for Joe’s accommodation’s there when he visits in two weeks. I decided to check with the agent to see if they would have been able to get me a better price for my air travel to the US than I was able to get after about a week of trying. I was quite upset they were able to find a ticket for one-third less than I had paid. We then said goodbye to Joe and left Khao San Road. After a two-hour bus ride through downtown BKK, I returned to my apartment.

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

Today was somewhat interesting. It rained and swimming was not an option. So after attending the Old Men’s Caucus at the health club, I only took a steam bath and shower. As I prepared to leave, I was enticed into a discussion with a likable, intelligent, paranoid conspiracy theorist. His name is Christopher. He was born in Australia of a Jewish father and Australian mother. His father’s family is originally from Transylvania but spent a few generations in Vienna before emigrating to Australia.

He identifies himself proudly as an anarchist and firmly believes in just about every conspiracy I have heard about and a few that I did not: The Twin Towers Conspiracy, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and so on and on. One of them I did not know about goes something like this:

Since the signing of Magna Carta, we unknowingly have been subject to Admiralty Law and not Common Law; which means that we are not individuals but chattel in the eyes of the law. Among the proofs of this amazing assertion was his claim that all birth certificates since then have been written on special paper usually used to write Bills of Lading for transporting goods by ship. Since Bills of Lading are often negotiable documents and can be used as security for debts, our birth certificates over the years have become owned by banks because they were used as collateral by nation states to secure their loans for various wars and the like. He says if you look at a real birth certificate instead of the copy you usually receive (the real ones are kept in the vaults of the major international banks) you will discover on the back stamps from the banks and financial institutions you have been pledged to.

This was probably the least shocking conspiracy he revealed in the several hour conversation I had with him. At one point, he mentioned that if your name is written in all capital letters on a document, that means you are a corporation and not an individual. At least that is what I thought he said.

It was, for me, a few hours fascinating voyage into the arcane world of the truly sublimely insane. Much better than the books I have been reading recently.

He claims he made enough money converting his training as a bio-chemist and phlebotomist into a series of blood testing centers around Australia and England to retire to Thailand. I thought this was an interesting choice of occupation for someone whose family is originally from Transylvania. Anyway, he invited me to join him for dinner one evening before I return to the US.

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

A few days ago I received an interesting email. It seems that about four years ago as I was closing down my law practice before escaping to Thailand, someone, I no longer remember, asked me to begin some litigation on his behalf for free. I pointed out to him that I did not do litigation and although during the prior few years of practice most of my clients failed to pay their bills, I was not interested in beginning another pro bono representation. The prospective client then explained that the statute of limitations to bring the action would run out in a few days and begged me, as a favor, to file the action so that he could have the time to find an attorney willing to represent him for free. Alas, always a sucker for a sad story, I agreed and filed the case. As could be expected, my friend did not secure alternative representation by the time a mandatory settlement conference was set up. I missed conference and was fined by the court. Ultimately the case was resolved with no further problems and I left the US. Unfortunately I forgot to pay the fine. Now over four years later I learn from my friends through the email that I have been prohibited by the Bar Association from further practice of law in California because I had failed to pay the fine.

Around the same time as my departure from the US, I also tried to retire from the Bar. I was told that in order to do so I would have to pay all unpaid back dues, a fee for retirement and annual dues to remain on inactive status. This conversation occurred during that time when the Bar Association had been unfunded by the California (In effect disbarred by California) and was somewhat desperate for money. After a few arguments over the telephone with representatives of the Bar about my inability to pay the back fees all at once and the unreasonableness of having to pay a fee and dues, no matter how small, to retire and receiving no satisfaction, I explained to them what I thought they could do with their demands. Eventually I began to receive notices by mail from the Bar Association which I assumed were continuing demands for payment of the dues. I treated them just the same as I treated notices from credit card companies demanding payment and threatening to ruin my already ruined credit rating; I threw them all unopened into the trash until, after about a year when my forwarding address ceased to be operative, they ceased. I assume some of these notices contained demands for the payment of fine as well.

At least I was not accused of moral turpitude. Although I certainly have in my life often turpituded my morals, my failing, it seems, was not the terps and tudes that usually gets the Bar Association’s knickers in a twist.

Now in order to save what remains of my reputation and avoid the malicious whisperings of those who should know better, I am faced with the option of possibility paying many thousands of dollars so that I can be reinstated and continue to pay the Bar Association in order to remain on inactive status. I find my chances of choosing this route highly unlikely.

On the other hand, one of my favorite mystery writers, Christopher Moore’s, main character in many of his novels is named Vinnie Calvino, a half Italian, half Jewish lawyer from NY who was disbarred who now lives in Bangkok and eaks out a living as a PI. I find, on the whole, the Calvino approach to dealing with recalcitrant bar associations rather romantic.

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing. I skipped over the California Coastal Commission because I have dealt with its creation at length in previous issues of T&T (although never completed).

C. The California State Coastal Conservancy.

2. Rational for creation of the Coastal Conservancy.

The 1973 voter approved Proposition 20 required the preparation of a plan for the preservation of the resources along California’s 1500 miles of coast by a new governmental entity, The California Coastal Commission. In order to prevent new development from subverting the Plan, the Commission was authorized to regulate all proposed new development within a band extending 1000 feet from the high water line. I was the chief counsel to the Commission in charge of, among other things, the creation and management of the regulatory program. Later I also wrote three elements of the Coastal Plan including the Government, Powers and Funding element that described the Commissions proposals for implementation of the substantive recommendations of the Plan.

The interim regulatory program allowed the Commission and its staff to experience first hand the dynamics of development along the coast and the limitations inherent in a regulatory program. Among these limitations we recognized the following:

1. Although it is capable of moderating the adverse impacts of new development or stopping it all together, regulation proved ineffective in altering negative forces already set in motion by prior development. Neither could it remedy the damage to resources that had already occurred.

2. Regulation, no matter how stringent, leaks. For innumerable reasons inappropriate or developments with unforeseen consequences get approved now and then continuing, albeit slower, the deterioration of the resource. The “leakage” inevitably confirms David Brower’s lament regarding attempts to protect the environment, “All our victories are temporary and all our defeats permanent.”

3. Regulation can stop additional bad things from happening, but it could not take action to create good things nor take preëmptive action. It could not restore degraded resources, build and manage access ways for the public to enjoy the coastline everyone was working so hard to protect, promote and create urban resources, establish physical boundaries to sprawl rather than simply attempting to impose juridical boundaries that ultimately “leak.”

4. Regulation must, for a number or reasons, treat the problems and resources as infinite; for example “wetlands should not be filled,” or “Developments should not interfere with significant public views,” and the like. Yet, in fact, the resources were finite. It was these specific wetlands that needed to be protected and those particular views. As a result regulation was not as sensitive to the more complex requirements of the individual resource.

5. Regulation was passive and reactive. One had to wait for a development to be proposed before a regulatory action could be taken. If the resource was extremely valuable one could not predict the dynamics that affect the decision nor the appropriateness of the action.

6. If the specific resource’s environmental merits were high enough then, leaving it exposed to the conflict of economic interests and value that push and pull those involved in the regulatory process, seem foolhardy.
(To be continued)

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: I don’t like your manners.
Marlowe: And I’m not crazy about yours. I didn’t ask to see you. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners, I don’t like them myself. They are pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings. I don’t mind your ritzing me drinking your lunch out of a bottle. But don’t waste your time trying to cross-examine me.
Chapter 25

I followed Mavis into the pool area where she had already settled into what appeared to be an amusing conversation with Lilly Park. For some reason I assumed it was about me. I approached them. Lilly turned to me with a big smile, said, “Well, here’s the great private detective. Come to shake me down again?”

“The threesome offer is still open,” I responded. “That’s the only type of shaking I’m interested in right now.”

“Ooh, I might just be into that. Can I bring a fourth?”

“Bring whoever you’d like.”

“Maybe I’ll bring Malcolm,” she said. “I heard you two get along real well.”

Malcolm Dornbush, the octogenarian real estate developer of many of San Francisco’s most notable high rises, philanthropist and major contributor to the City’s Democratic Party since there is no opposition party to corrupt. Oh and a major prick. He never forgave me for representing a competitor in a battle over which one could misuse the City’s environmental planning policies to benefit himself at the expense of the other as well as the public. I won.

A few weeks later at a political event at which we were both honored for our meretricious contributions to the party, Malcolm approached the table at which I was sitting along with a number of unmemorable political appointees to various city boards and commissions and in a loud voice berated me for causing him to lose some of his expected outrageous profits on the project. He also swore that he would never give me and my firm and legal work in the future and capped the diatribe off with a threat to destroy my career. I knew that the threat was meaningless. I was quite capable of destroying my career on my own and certainly did not need his help to do so.

I responded, “Mal, you can fuss and fume all you want, but you are an old man and I am much younger than you and I will always have the pleasure of knowing that I will outlive you and that you know it.” Actually I was not so sure. Even then I believed the fucker was so evil he would live forever.

“I thought I just heard someone mention my name. Was that you, Lilly my dear?”

The mostly bald, liver spotted creäture of darkness that was Malcolm Dornbush seemed to emerge from behind some vegetation that had hidden him like a swamp hides alligators. He was followed by his equally reprehensible son who rumor has it was so incompetent he was sent off to the bush leagues of Oakland to suborn that city into allowing him to fail at redeveloping an already misused piece of Port property.

“Why hello Dragon,” said the talking pus bucket as he turned to me. “I almost did not see you. You’re easy to miss among all these distinguished people. I see you know Lilly. I hear you do not get out of North Beach much anymore. Pity.” He smiled for a moment and continued, “As you can see I am still alive.”

“I congratulate you Mal, on your brilliance in living this long and forcing me to delay that inevitable day when I stand there and piss on your grave.”

“Ah, same old Dragon.” He pointedly turned his back to me and said to Lilly, “Come Lilly. I see Bertha Briggs the Chairwoman of the Port of Oakland over there. We have to say a few words to her about Alvin’s project. Why don’t you join us my dear?”

He, ever the Lothario, said the last to Mavis and with his arms spread wide like a farmer herding ducks moved them all off to where the ever loud Bertha was holding court. Mavis turned her head to me and shrugged before she and everyone else left me standing there alone.

 
DAILY FACTOID:

2013- The US has over 1.1 million lawyers and graduates about 40,000 more per year. The US leads the world in lawyers per capita. As a whole lawyers are among the highest paid professionals in the US. They produce little of value to the nation as a whole.

At the same time, we have only about 16000 physicists and 8000 materials scientists. They do not earn on average as much as lawyers do. A significant portion of the technological advancement that forms much of the economic foundation of the nation’s wealth depends on them.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“Even without being able to gauge the actual political power of wealthy citizens, we can confidently reject the view that extensive political power by the wealthy would be of little practical importance anyway because their policy preferences are much the same as everyone else’s. On many important issues the preferences of the wealthy appear to differ markedly from those of the general public. Thus, if policy makers do weigh citizens’ policy preferences differentially based on their income or wealth, the result will not only significantly violate democratic ideals of political equality, but will also affect the substantive contours of American public policy.”
Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans, by Benjamin I. Page, Larry M. Bartels, and Jason Seawright

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the country. It works the same in every country.”
Herman Goering during his testimony at the Nuremberg Trials.

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
Joseph Stalin

“What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream?”
Woody Allen

 

TODAY’S CHART:
603360_574908565884665_431395222_n
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
DSCN1864 - Version 2

Me at the beach holding up the sky like Atlas, except I do it with only one hand.

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Joe 0002

 

– Dum Spiro, Spero

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I woke up today in a very good mood. LM came by to make breakfast before heading off to work at the health club. While I was sitting at the table eating and fiddling with the computer, I was alternately grumbling and cursing sotto voce at the internet connection service that at times breaks down every few seconds, especially this morning. LM after observing me for a while said, “Some people think you are not 100 percent.” (That means somewhere in between insane and mentally retarded.) “Why do you say so,” I responded. (Note: The quotes are approximations and best guesses since our language deficiencies require us to communicate in a mixture of pidgin english and pantomime.) “At the movies you cry and talk to the screen like it is real and happening to you.”

My first thought was to feel sad for those people who were unable to emotionally involve themselves in a work of art, no matter how marginal. After all, the artists and others involved probably work hard trying to make a living at attempting to entertain you. I decided however, no response was the best response, so I grunted and returned to my recalcitrant computer.

She then said, “A lot of people have told me you are gullible, believe everything that they say and give all your money away.”

Now at this point, if I had any interpersonal sensitivities at all, I should have realized something was bothering her. Instead I was furious that here I was in a good mood, a state that requires, for a short time at least, forgetting your inadequacies and failures, when now this person had to go and remind me of them. So, I slammed the computer closed, finished dressing and stormed off to the Health Club.

Along the walk, I rattled back and forth between feeling sorry for myself, shame at my utter lack of empathy with LM or anyone else for that matter and furious that, with every step I took, many of my life’s innumerable embarrassments were now flooding back into my consciousness.

At the club, after reading the mornings newspapers and barely responding to the attempts of the aging ex US merchant marine guy sitting next to me to engage me in swapping stories of drugs, booze and sex, I put on my bathing suit went to the pool. Once I got into the water, I attacked it in fury, intending to swim until struck by a heart attack so that I could feel even more sorry for myself. Alas, all I got for my efforts was tired, so I left the pool took a steam bath showered and left the club.

I walked to my new favorite massage parlor nearby, where after two hours I began feeling better; not less self-absorbed, just less upset about it. I then went to Terminal 21 and had a root beer float at Swenson’s and things began to look and feel rosy enough that even the overcast sky could not disperse it.

I came home to my apartment crawled into my bed and wrote this. It is all about me of course, it is always all about me. I should change the name of this email series from “This and that…” to “It’s all about me, of course.”

I think I need to leave Bangkok and get a life.

*****

I have just returned from dinner and have re-read what I have written above. I am not going to erase it. This is a journal after all. But, let’s just take another look at what we have here: A guy gets up in the morning after a good sleep and someone makes him breakfast which he eats while playing on his computer and ignoring the world. He then takes a leisurely walk to the Health Club where after reading the newspaper and talking to a friend, he goes for a swim and take a steam bath followed by a lengthy massage and capped off by a root beer float. Returning to his apartment he takes a nap, plays some more on his computer and goes out and has a nice dinner. All this he considers to be something from which he must flee to find a better life because he happens to assume that someone hinted that he was an insensitive, dull-witted loser. Well, if you ask me, there certainly seems to be enough evidence here to prove that that person may be right.
**********

It has become obvious that the time has come for me to leave Bangkok and return to the US for a while. I originally thought I was going to leave on about the 14th or so of July when I planned to accompany HHH back to the US stopping briefly in Italy and the US East Coast. On the day before we were to leave, SWAC changed the plans and left in my place. I then had thought I would fly back sometime before HHH begins school on August 8th. Now that too appears unlikely.

I have now committed, in my mind at least, to leaving sometime around the middle of August. Having apparently no time constraints any longer, I have decided to treat myself to an adventure. I looked into flying somewhere odd, like Vladivostok or Bora Bora on my way back but those type of options have become too expensive for me in my reduced financial circumstances. I then looked into traveling by cargo ship, but that also is somewhat expensive and a bit difficult to arrange as they require those over 70 to have a physical check up and a doctor willing to certify that he would not need medical attention on the high seas. So here are the three options that I came up with. I ask whoever might read this to give me the benefit of their counsel:

1. Travel West by plane, stopping off in India (bucket list item) for a few days and visiting the Mogul architectural masterpieces outside of Delhi. Then on to Milan for a while visiting with friends followed by a flight to the East Coast and a visit with my daughter in Washington before returning to California. Unfortunately, in order to make this work financially I need to take advantage of a deeply discounted flight over the Atlantic that would not be available until mid-September.

2. While researching my travel options, I became fascinated by train travel options in Asia and looked into the railway that follows the Silk Route through Asia (another bucket list item). But that entire trip is also too expensive for me at this time and I had also promised Peter Grenell many years ago that I would take that trip with him. So instead, I decided to consider flying to Saigon and taking the train from there to Hong Kong and from there flying back to SF. The train ride would take six days. I probably would stop for overnights in places like Hanoi and Nanning extending the journey by another two or three days. It has been suggested by some of those to whom I mentioned I was considering this option, that I may still be suffering from something I inhaled many years ago when trips like this were common among my hippy peers. There may be something to be said for that since I would not see it as unlikely that I could find myself dead in the Chinese countryside somewhere about 150 miles outside of Hong Kong.

3. Forget the whole adventure fantasy, act my age and get on a plane that flies directly from BKK to SFO (and remember to get out of my seat and exercise every hour or so).

What do you think?

**********

I have just realized what may have motivated me to write the above items that obviously record my recent emotional disintegration. About a week or so ago I suddenly stopped reading any more novels, having read over 90 in the past 3 months sometimes reading for eight hours straight. I stopped because the Amazon program feeding that obsession has run out of books to promote that I am interested in reading much less buying. Reading has never been for me an information gathering or entertainment activity but rather an addiction. One, like most addictions, I use to avoid confronting reality. Of course, obsessive reading of escapist literature does not have the same physical downside as hard drugs or liquor. It’s more like taking Methadone. You get to keep your habit but you get no fun out of it (Well maybe a little fun. Perhaps it’s more like taking Oxycontin. You feel pretty good but, alas, without the orgasmic jolt.). As in ending any addiction, I suffer physical and psychological difficulties, tremors, sweating, waking at night screaming, ghosts and paranoia prompting the need to escape.

(Of course everything I have written so far is post hoc rationalization necessitated by the need to make sense out of the irrationality of history so that one can avoid responding to questions about what happened with “I haven’t the slightest idea” or as Vonnegut put it, “So it goes” or more appropriately “why are you wasting my time?”)

**********

DSCN1884<DSDSCN1883
My Neighborhood During the Daytime.

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. The end to fear is near:

Recently I read somewhere that taking Tylenol can diminish one’s sense of existential dread.

Wow, if Woody Allen used Tylenol rather than sex to ameliorate his fear of death, he still would be making funny movies instead of turning into an auteur.

2. How does one sign Sweet Adeline?
image

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

 

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Philip Marlowe: You wanna tell me now?
Vivian: Tell you what?
Philip Marlowe: What it is you’re trying to find out. You know, it’s a funny thing. You’re trying to find out what your father hired me to find out, and I’m trying to find out why you want to find out.

Chapter 24

Keeping an eye on Bumptious Bart as we advanced I suggested to Joe Vu that he remain outside and put his guerrilla training to good use and keep an eye on the comings and goings especially regarding Broad Bart and the Lincoln. He nodded assent and disappeared back the way we had come.

We walked past the Lincoln, I nodded and smiled at Big Bad Bart. He gave me a two-fingered salute and a too large smile back. I pushed open the silvered redwood plank gate and we entered into the grounds of Chez Reilly.

The grounds were covered with mostly overgrown and seemingly not well tended vegetation which I guessed was probably an intentional attempt to make it appear more rustic and natural. There were several brick and tiled walkways winding through the decorative forest. I could see people walking slowly along the paths or speaking together in small groups. One of the paths led to the house. The house itself was a low-lying split level ranch style whose exterior walls were mostly covered with dense vegetation. It appeared to be not so much a house as a wood-shake topped mound rising out of the bushes, punctured here and there with windows and doors, sort of like an unkempt house in Hobbit-town.

To our left as we walked along the path, was the obligatory large multi-leveled pool area, shimmering blue like a magnesium polluted pond in the jungle. Around the pool people had gathered especially near the small refreshment table behind which stood a young asian woman dispensing drinks. One of Sunee’s relatives I surmised. I thought I saw Lilly moving around the pool but I did not have time to investigate because we arrived at the door to the house and went right in. We were met by a Thai man in his late thirties who I recall being introduced to at one of my prior visits as Sunee’s brother. Given what I know about Thailand relationships, it is just as likely that he was Sunee’s Thai husband as her brother. He weid and held out his hand directing us toward the living room. Two older men were just leaving. I guessed they were business acquaintances of Clarence since I did not recognize them as being among the local politicians and hangers-on that I had come to know so well.

As we progressed toward the sunken living room, we passed an open door into the kitchen where Clarence and Sunee’s three children were at the table eating sandwiches the Philippine maid was serving.

We mad a right turn and walked down the three steps into the dimly lit living room, where Sunee sat straight-backed and alone on a sofa. There were a few candles lit by a small buddha shrine. As we got closer we could see the marks of tears on her cheeks. I could not however tell if those tears had actually flowed from her eyes which appeared dry and dark and as angry as a summer storm.

Mavis, ran over to her, hugged her and they immediately started jabbering back and forth as though they were childhood friends and not as people who had only met once. But, I guess woman are just more verbal than men, as innumerable scientific studies seem to indicate.

Sunee then turned to me and after I expressed my condolences, she told me how pleased he was to see me here and how highly Clarence thought of me. She then leaned toward me and in a low voice said that she would like to talk to me privately later. Mavis immediately suggested that we talk now and that she would leave, which she did just stopping at the top of the steps to speak with a young Asian couple who were waiting.

Sunee leaned forward, grasped my hand and said in almost a whisper, “I want you to find out how my husband died.” Taken a bit back by this I said, “I heard the police think he took his own life.”

“I know,” she responded angrily. “I don’t believe it. I want to hire you to find out.”

“Why me? Why not go to the police with your concerns?”

“Clarence said you were a great attorney at one time. He trusted you. I’m willing to pay. How much do you charge?”

“One Hundred dollars a day plus expenses, one week minimum, one half payment up front.” As usual when dealing with widows, orphans and women I’d like to sleep with, my business sense, such as it is, flies out the window. Any question raised of the conflict of interest presented by the fact that Martin Vihn is paying me for the same investigation, barely impinged on my conscience. The California Association of Private Investigators Code of Ethics is less that a page long and is voluntary. Anyway, it just requires disclosure of a potential conflict to a client where the conflict would prevent the investigator from performing a fair investigation. My investigations, if nothing else, are usually fair.

“Would you take a check?”

“Of course.” While she was reaching for her purse I asked. “Why do you think the police may be wrong? Do you suspect someone killed him?”

“Killed him? I don’t know, maybe. But who would do that? Everyone loved him. I just know he would never kill himself. It probably was an accident.” With that she handed me a check. I took out my card exchanged it for the check and said, “Call me when you feel up to it. I have a few questions.” I turned nodded to the waiting couple and left the room.

I paused by the front door, stood behind the brother who was ushering additional mourners in and tried to think through what just happened. I knew that most life insurance policies will not pay out for suicides. The widow probably knows that and is looking for an angle. But why me? Usually it is the attorney you retain to fight the the insurance company’s decision that hires the investigator. Also, this town has many investigators experienced it fighting the companies; like Fat Al, who should be here by now. Maybe, like just about everything associated with this mess there is less here than meets the eye. She could be just hedging her bets and wanting to collect some information before passing it on to which ever attorney she chooses. Maybe she hopes I come up with something good enough so that she does not have to split her take with the lawyers. I decided additional consideration of this at this time would probably not lead anywhere productive and so I exited the house.

Mavis was waiting just outside the door.

“So, what did the grieving widow want,” she said with a sly smile?

“Nothing much. She just wanted me to know how much Clarence respected my work.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“What, you think she told me something else?”

“No, I don’t believe Reilly respected your work.”

“Oh look, there’s Lilly,” she said and ran off leaving me standing there wondering whether I should be annoyed.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1661: Greek scholar Leo Allatius, who died that year, declared that Jesus foreskin ascended with him into heaven where it turned into the rings of Saturn.
[From Oliver Potzsch, "The Poisoned Pilgrim"]

(After NASA announced one of its space probes found that Saturn’s rings were composed of dust particles, Leo appeared with Sean Hannity on Fox News to claim Obama had secretly stolen the divine foreskin and was using it as a throw rug in the Oval Office.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“Empirical research suggests that parents’ economic resources affect their children’s future earnings abilities. Optimal tax policy therefore treats future ability distributions as endogenous to current taxes. We model this endogeneity, calibrate the model to match estimates of the intergenerational transmission of earnings ability in the United States, and use the model to simulate such an optimal policy numerically. The optimal policy in this context is more redistributive toward low-income parents than existing U.S. tax policy. It also increases the probability that low-income children move up the economic ladder, generating a present-value welfare gain of more than two and one half percent of consumption in our baseline case.”
Alex Gelber and Matthew Weinzierl: Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation when Children’s Abilities Depend on Parents’ Resources:

(I don’t really understand what they are saying here, but I am sure Occupy would agree with their conclusion that sending poor kids to good schools is, on balance, a good thing)

 
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
993945_10151565241741275_1655846873_n

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Metaphysical naiveté always ends in murder. It fragments the world. Little acts of kindness and charity mask the monstrous evil they abet. And the system rolls forward. The polar ice caps melt. The droughts rage over cropland. The drones deliver death from the sky. The state moves inexorably forward to place us in chains. The sick die. The poor starve. The prisons fill. And the careerist, plodding forward, does his or her job.

Chris Hedges, Truthdig

 
TODAY’S CHART:
2013_07_LifeExpectancy

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Statue in lake at Murang Boran

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Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Joe 0002

“Dum  Spiro, Spero” 

     as long as you’re breathing, there’s hope.

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The rainy season has brought overcast skies but little rain to BKK. The clouds seem to trap the pollution close to the ground. It feels like someone pressing piece of dirty wet gauze over my eyes and nose. Some days I find it hard to breathe. I cough more than usual and at times feel overwhelmed with exhaustion. Later this week I plan to go to Jomtien Beach (Paradise by the Sea), the next town down coast from Pattaya, (The Outskirts of Hell). I expect cleaner air there.

The monsoon rain clouds funnel up the Bay of Thailand where they then scurry along the Chao Phraya River running through BKK on their way up into the mountains near Chiang Mai to drop most of their moisture. They generally leave the beach areas around The Outskirts of Hell and Paradise by the Sea somewhat overcast free. Sea breezes push the air at the beaches inland leaving them relatively absent of air pollution.

After giving it some thought I decided I need to get a job (suggestions invited), not so much for the money, but because one ought not spend so much time alone with himself in a darkened room.
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Not a very pretty picture.

Sometimes, however, LM comes by and dances,
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or just sits and makes wool scarves that no one in Thailand will ever use.
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Hayden asked her to make a scarf he could give to his mom as a present, even though he knew SWAC would throw it out anyway. Once she started making them, LM refused to stop. My apartment now looks like something out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with wool scarves multiplying uncontrollably. I expect that one day I will come home and find that I am unable to get into my apartment because it’s filled floor to ceiling with knitted wool scarves. (“The Scarf that Swallowed Bangkok,” soon to become a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp.)

Most nights I eat at this restaurant:
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I only eat sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice or pork fried rice. Not so much because I particularly like those dishes, but because whenever I look at the menu for something else  I find it printed in Thai with slightly out of focus photos of the dishes, making them all look the same.

After dinner and watching the Thai soaps I go to sleep with my friends Gorilla and Douglas.
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Early on a dark and rainy Wednesday morning I left for Jomtien Beach. I went by van. Vans take about the same time to get there as do taxis but are significantly less expensive. The van driver was interesting. Although it is common for most Thai drivers to insist on using the shoulder for passing, he treated it as the high-speed lane. As a result, we got to our destination quicker than usual, especially when for unknown reasons he skipped the usual pee-pee break at the rest-stop where the vans generally gas up.

The sun was out when we arrived and thankfully the air felt much cleaner than in BKK.

This trip I did not stay at the guest house of the sad-faced lady with the child with the tragic birth defects but at a place with slightly larger rooms for about the same price near by. The street, Soi 2, is quite narrow with 4 to 6 story balconied shop houses lining each side. One can watch the life of the neighborhood going on in the streets below and on the balconies. It reminded me a bit like living in the Bronx.
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In the early morning I watched and listened to the Soi awaken. It is no Catfish Row, but I imagine someone could put it to music: The snap of the cloth as the woman in the apartment across from me hangs out her washing; The high-pitched murmurings of the yings (Thai for young woman) speaking into their mobile phones as they walk to or from work; The scrape and bang of the merchants raising the security barriers as they open their shops; The throaty rumble of the motorbikes; the chopping sound made by the woman with the sidewalk food stand as she prepares the day’s Papaya Pak Pak ( better known as Som Tam). All we now need is a happy-go-lucky beggar cheerfully greeting everyone as he passes by.

Last night, for some reason unknown to me, someone in the Soi below my room set up some amplifying equipment into which two drunken yings screamed off-key songs to no one in particular until two in the morning. Now and then a western tourist would wander by and snap a photograph of the clearly deranged young women.

During the day I walked along the beach about two miles early in the morning, and again at mid-day and once more in the evening. For most of the rest of the day I sat on a rental canvas beach chair under a large blue beach umbrella, watched the vendors pass by, stared at the surf and dozed.
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Some tipsy young men with their Thai women friends sat on the chairs on each side of me. Two Swedes to my left and a Brit to my right. There was a lot of laughing and loud talking. The vendors seemed to congregate around them smiling and joking. I was a bit jealous. “Why” I thought, “couldn’t I be as jovial and sociable?” Eventually the Swede sitting closest to me turned to me and asked “How come these vendors always stop and gather around me yet they pass you right by?

I responded, “Because as soon as they get close enough, I close my eyes and pretend I’m asleep.” The Swede stared at me for a while in silence then exclaimed, “Wow!” A few moments later, thoroughly embarrassed, I got up and left.

Sometimes I forget why people flock to Thailand in such great numbers. After all, its beaches are ok, but there are many other places with better. It’s cities are so polluted they rival Mexico City. Its historical buildings are interesting, but far less grand than those in a lot of countries. Most of the country sits in a sweltering swamp. Their people smile a lot but they are not smiles of kindness or concern. The traffic is as awful as anywhere in the world and corruption and cheating the tourist are endemic. It’s food is good but quality examples of it at a reasonable price can rarely be found anywhere a casual tourist could locate. So what is it that recently reminded me why I and many others come here?

In India, people twist their bodies into unnatural shapes and sit for years on dung heaps until they can ignore their discomfort, call it enlightenment and convince themselves that now they are truly happy. In China and Japan some go up mountains to where the air is thin and the ground is cold and where they sit until they can think of nothing at all and assume they have found contentment. Then they believe they are happy. In the US and many countries of the West as well as other “advanced” countries, people, day and night, engage in the single-minded pursuit of stealing wealth from others so that their stoned children can ride around a lake in a yacht and they can imagine they have accomplished something and then they can declare themselves really happy.

But here in Thailand there is a temple called Wat Po on the grounds of the royal palace where there, and in similar temples throughout the country, Thais from all over the nation gather to learn the traditional Thai art of rubbing another persons body until that person experiences a sense of something approaching bliss.

Imagine, if you will, in Saint Peter’s Basilica somewhere huddled among Bernini’s’ columns there is a similar school where cowled nuns and tonsured monks upon completing their course of study then go out into the world to, at an affordable price, apply their hands to the bodies of others, both men and women, so that they can know the experience of true orgasms and be happy.

That is why, over the years, people came to Thailand and why even now in some of the country’s most expensive accommodations on some of the most exclusive beaches many people can still find happiness.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: “You gotta convince me that you know what this is all about, that you aren’t just fiddling around hoping it’ll all… come out right in the end!”
Chapter 23

Joe arrived to drive us to the wake. He still wore the same black windbreaker but had changed his white T-shirt for the black Iron Maiden one that I had seen him wearing when we first met. He had also changed his black jeans for creased pants of the same color.

Joe and Mavis got into the front and I sat alone in the back. They immediately started talking in that black, stoner, California patois, adding a few mexican words to spice it up and mixing in a liberal use of the universal modifier “Fuck” in all its varieties. It annoyed me greatly because I could not understand anything they were talking about, although, at the time, I convinced myself my annoyance was based instead upon my objection to their juvenile misuse of the english language.

I decided to sit there and pout and fume. Finding that unsatisfying and unable to hold my attention for more than a few minutes, I turned to trying to understand what I intended to accomplish at the wake and more importantly why I was even bothering to try to do anything at all. Failure certainly remained a viable option. What if I don’t find out what happened to Holland or the shipment or even how Reilly was killed? I mean, really, were either the Tons of Fun or Martin Vihn going to do something to me if in the end I tell them I don’t know what happened? At worst they would just beat the shit out of me for spite. Even that was unlikely. So, what was I doing here? Looking good for the clients? I’ve got their money. I don’t need their respect, not that I expect to ever get it.

Why was what happened to two containers of furniture so important to Martin Vihn? They certainly could not be worth much. Why was finding Holland so important to Mavis and the Fabulous Fat Boys and not Martin? Who hired the Corpulent Cronies? Do I care? My professional ethics requires me to go through the steps, not necessarily come up with anything. Do I care about professional ethics? I don’t think so.

By this time we had passed through the City and approached the Golden Gate Bridge and, as is often the case when one does and the sun is shinning, all thoughts slide from ones consciousness replaced by infatuation with the panorama of the red-orange bridge, the water below, the boats on the bay, the cliffs and the mountains. To my right the City, its towers gleaming in the sun, always made me think of it as a mystical mythical place. Few cities rise up directly from the water so they can be seen whole from a distance. Hong Kong, but it is just an endless wall of towers, gaudy but not mystical. Lower Manhattan always appears too determined to be mythical. San Francisco is not a real City, it is too happy. It’s citizens care little about what goes on beyond its borders. Perhaps the smoke from the billion or so joints smoked here since the sixties has by now bonded with the ever-present fog leaving the place forever enshrouded in cannabis enhanced bliss.

By the time I had mused through my meditations about the City we were approaching the Rainbow tunnel which always signaled to me we were leaving one reality for another. I read somewhere that Marin County had more psychiatrists per capita than anyplace else in the whole world. I had always assumed that was because its residents believed that how they felt about themselves meant something to someone other than themselves.

As we passed through the tunnel I dutifully held my breath and placed my finger against the roof of the car as I had been taught and as I taught my children. Why we did it or where it began, who knows. It’s one of those things like certain rhymes one picks up in childhood that seems to come along with the dirt and air of the place where you grew up and eventually seeps into your genes.

Mavis and Joe Vu had stopped talking, put in their ear plugs connected to their respective smart phones and stared out at the road in front of them listening to their generation’s music. Again I felt excluded. I did not understand the music either.

Once we got to the other side, I picked back up on my meditation of the disappearing furniture mystery and my role in it to no greater effect on my understanding than before. Finally we turned off the freeway and drove into a wooded neighborhood nestled in one of the nooks and crannies of the Marin County hills somewhere on the outskirts of Mill Valley.

It was one of the older neighborhoods, originally redwood shacks used as vacation cottages by San Franciscans before the bridge was built when it was still a serious trip to get here. Over the years, others of the upwardly mobile class who now lived in them and commuted over the bridge to work in the City took them over. These new residents expanded the shacks to house their hopefully perfect nuclear families, sparing no expense to maintain the ambience of the neighborhood so that now instead of appearing like a normal subdivision it resembles nothing so much as abandoned piles of redwood blow downs among the trees still standing after the storm.

We turned from the main road on to the typically narrow unmaintained washboard roads of the subdivision. The cars of the mourners were parked all along the road and beyond leaving little space for another car to pass. We threaded our way so far into the bowels of the subdivision to find a place to park that I thought we would never find our way out again. We got out of the car. The area around us looked like an abandoned lumber yard. We wound our way along the rutted road back towards Reilly’s house. Joe, a founding member of the Junior Viet Cong of America led the way with the same aplomb as his ancestors creeping through the jungles of South East Asia. As we came around the last turn, along a pile of well weathered sticks that was the fence that hid Reilly’s property from view, we saw a large black classic Lincoln parked along the side of the lane directly in front of the gate to Reilly’s domain. Leaning against the automobile and staring off into the trees like a committed birdwatcher was our old friend Fat Franny II, the one named Bart.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 Jo-Jo’s book report:

Finished reading Nesbro’s “The Leopard.” It takes place sometime after the events in “The Snowman,” (soon to be a major motion picture guaranteed to be nothing like the book and starring someone who won’t look at all like detective Hole; probably a cute bankable male movie-star about a foot shorter than the book’s main character and 100 times better looking).

As I guessed from the hints in the previous novels and from what I know of Nesbro’s frequent trips to BKK, the story begins in the Far-East with Harry Hole holed up in Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road. The place is the successor to the walled City of Kowloon’s function as the center of the city’s petite underworld. I know about it because I recall one of my Hong Kong clients, as we passed it on the street one day, pointing up to it with pride as one of his family’s premier development projects and source of much of the family’s wealth.

My emotional connection with Hole increased with Nesbro’s description of him living alone in exile in a small dingy room drunk, stoned and broke. I of course, don’t drink much nor do drugs anymore, primarily because I cannot afford it but also because of my addiction fears. So, I exercise my obsessions by reading six hours or so a day lying on the bed in my darkened room – It is pretty much the same thing as being stoned but not nearly as pleasant.

Anyway, Harry returns to Norway in order to solve a series murders, which he does six or eight times. Each time he is ultimately proven to be wrong causing unbelievable pain and suffering to all around him. Finally, by foolishly stumbling into killing a few innocent people to save the woman he is sleeping with but who is not the woman he really loves, the whole thing ends with a bang so to speak.

One thing I do not like about the books is that in the few occasions when Harry does have sex (He, however, seems to have more as the series of novels progress. I expect the final novel will be indistinguishable from ordinary porn), it is always perfect with both parties deliriously in sync and cumming at the same time. Now, I don’t know what universe Nesbro lives in, but sex can be spectacular or it can be unsatisfying, but it is never perfect; one party always has to wait for the other or ends up lying in the wet spot.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but 23% of the world’s prison population. Of the 15 States with the largest percentage of their citizens incarcerated 13 of them are from the old South. Louisiana imprisons its citizens at over twice the rate of any other state in the union. The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the hight of apartheid.

What this means is that for the last 250 years the American South has been, for millions of people, one of the most oppressive places on earth. We should not forget that if you were a white German Protestant, Germany was a pretty cool place for you to live in the 1930s. You would have thought that you enjoyed all the fruits of liberty, freedom and economic health and that those imprisoned were criminals, foreigners or threats to your security.

It also should be noted that the Civil War was about the politics of power as well as slavery. Under the Constitution at that time it was permissible to count slaves as citizens for purposes of determining the number of members to the House of Representatives allocated primarily to the South while at the same time not allowing those same “pseudo-citizens” the right to vote on who those Representatives would be.

The various political controversies over who can vote at the polls that we are experiencing today carries on this dispute. Republicans, especially in the South want the ability to restrict which citizens can vote, but continue to insist the allocation of the number of their Representatives in Congress be based on including those whom they do not allow to vote.

To be fair and balanced, I should mention that, on the other hand, Democrats would like to enable everyone to vote and be counted, even foreign international travelers as they change planes in an American airport on their way to their destination in another country.

TODAY’S QUOTE:
“I have problems with a religion that says faith in itself is enough for a ticket to heaven. In other words, that the ideal is your ability to manipulate your own common sense to accept something your intellect rejects. It’s the same model of intellectual submission that dictatorships have used throughout time, the concept of a higher reasoning without any obligation to discharge the burden of proof.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer.

“There was only one thing emptier than having lived without love, and that was having lived without pain.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
kpt5hja

Each separate color shows an area with approximately the same population as California. The smallest of which elects about 6 US Senators and the largest almost 30. California is allowed only 2. The top ten states have over 50% of the nation’s population, but only 20% of the votes in the Senate. California with over 10% of the population has 2% of the votes. The 10 States with the smallest populations have less than 2% of the nations people but controls 20% of the Senate.

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Joe 0002

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I recently discovered a fascinating place in BKK called Muang Boran or, Ancient Thailand. I visited it with Nikki, Harley H Hayden and LM. It bills itself as the largest museum in the world. It is over twice as large as Disneyland.

Almost 40 years ago its founder, using ancient texts and drawings, began reconstructing on the site some of Thailand’s destroyed or demolished historical monuments. For example, he rebuilt at Muang Boran the royal palace at Ayutthaya razed by the Burmese in the 18th Century when they burned that city to the ground. Although many of the reconstructions are about one half the size of the originals, others like the Royal Palace (pictured below) are full-sized reproductions. In addition many archeological treasures have been excavated and reassembled at the site. Also, the park boasts a number of magnificent new full sized buildings (e.g. The Temple of Enlightenment below) as well as massive sculptures portraying historical and mythological themes.
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The Royal Palace

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Temple of Enlightenment

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The Center of the Universe

Several traditional towns have also been constructed and an entire fleet of royal barges lie at anchor along one of the canals. They even built one of the largest mountains in central Thailand on which they assembled a temple complex .
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The Temple on the Mountain

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The village on the river

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Rampant Nagas

Pookie says, “check it out.”

**********

For the last few days LM has dined almost exclusively on an assortment of bugs. Yesterday it was fried flying ants and today two-inch large water bugs wrapped in leaves. She sits watching her favorite soap operas plucking the fried bugs from a plastic bag, wrapping them in leaves and devouring them like popcorn. She tries to get me to join her. I did try the flying ants. They tasted like those little bits and shavings of popcorn you scrape up at the bottom of the bag you buy at the movies. I have nothing against eating insects and other arthropods having a long standing affection for escargot and I firmly believe that they represent a significant future caloric and nutritional source of food for the world’s growing population. Nevertheless, I am too old to overcome a lifetime of culinary socialization to try new things to eat now.

**********

It looks like I will be returning to the US sometime in early August. As usual when SWAC and Nikki get together travel arrangements tend to change at a rapid rate. My return by way of Italy and the East Coast got so far as to have reservations made shortly before they were cancelled. We also had planned a trip to Chiang Mai before departure in order for Harley H Hayden to spend a few days with his best and oldest friend Leo who lives there. Plans changed twice, once moments prior to leaving for the airport. The trip was cancelled much to the grave disappointment and annoyance of HHH and Leo, both of whom, for good reason, accused the adults involved of manipulating the result.

**********

The banks always win, part 2.

I few post ago I wrote that in response to the soaring dollar Thai banks have chosen to make up their arbitrage losses through changes in their ATM withdrawal fees. For a few years someone with an American Debit of Credit card could withdraw up to almost $700 with payment of a $5 fee. Immediately after the sudden collapse of the Thai baht following the US Fed announcing the possible end to quantitative easing, Thai banks limited the amount one could withdraw to about $350US and some banks raised their fees for such withdrawal to $6 making the cost for withdrawing $700 now $12. Well, due to I guess competitive pressure, the banks reduced their fee back to $5 per withdrawal, but, alas, agreed to limit the amount that can be withdrawn to about $175. Thus the fees to withdraw $700 has progressed from $5, to $12, to $20; a 400% increase in a month.

**********

HHH, Nikki and SWAC have left BKK and are now in Italy. Although I miss HHH, I feel immense relief at the lifting of the waves of anxiety that have affected me since I arrived back in Thailand.

**********

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Jo-Jo’s book report:

I just finished Nesbro’s “The Redeemer.” It deals with events that take place before those in “The Snowman,” the previous book of his that I read. It features, as do all the novels in this series, the screwed up alcoholic Norwegian police detective, Harry Hole (pronounced Ho – Lay). I identify with Harry because he is fucked-up, capable of turning every success into life-altering self destruction, and a confirmed obsessive-depressive who cannot maintain a relationship. He also has undertaken the hopeless task of raising someone else’s son and massively failing at it.

In this novel Nesbro does an interesting thing. He uses changes in points of view to provide the “red herrings” and diversions that appear in most modern mystery novels. In effect he relies on the readers tendency to assume that where there is no obvious indication that there has been a change in the point of view within scene, they are are experienced by a single actor.

We learn in the novel is that the Salvation Army, those uniformed, buttoned up, music playing, individuals who come out at Christmastime and stand beside a hanging iron stew pot ringing a bell, are in reality at times sex-crazed perverts and serial killers. They also hold summer camps where the adolescent future officers in the Army gleefully rape one another in preparation for the inevitable competition they will experience in their efforts to gain power within the organization.

Now, I was sent to summer camp for several years during my early adolescence and the most sex I ever experienced was a brief kiss (my first) with a blond haired girl from the girls’ camp on our the way back from watching the lights of the Village of Ossining dim as the town’s electricity was briefly diverted to Sing Sing prison’s electric chair during that evening’s execution. The only other sex I recall was standing around the campfire with the other boys jerking off into the fire. I assume they did not do this at the Salvation Army camp (or Christian camps in general) because of the number of potential Christian souls that would have gone up in smoke. That always struck me as highly inefficient. If all we do is wade through life so that God and Satan can divvy up the souls at the end with more than half those souls thrown into the fire anyway, why waste the time and effort, especially if it is all predestined? I guess you can say we wee lads at my camp were up to God’s work around those campfires.

Perhaps the primary difference between the camp in the book and my own summer camp experiences was that the former was a Christian religious camp directed to saving the souls of the committed while mine was directed to saving the disadvantage from something even less comprehensible. For example, my camp contained young people dragged out of the slums and ghettoes in the area in the belief that exiling us for two weeks in a somewhat remote sylvan setting would save us from a life of crime, alcoholism and self-abuse. Actually, none of us really understood the forest setting business since we were housed in army tents set up on dirt clearings and never ventured into the surrounding woods for fear of poisonous snakes, giant flesh eating raccoons and The Croton Creeper who our camp counselors assured us at night crept through the forests by the camp looking for little boys to devour.

I do not recall any rapes or violence like those that occurred at the Salvation Army camp in Nesbro’s book. Unless of course, one considers the violence dished out by one counselor or another who every now and then for some reason no one could understand would become overcome with rage and beat the shit out of some luckless camper. One of the first things we learned upon arriving at camp was who were the counselors most likely to exhibit this brand of craziness and how best to avoid them. If one could not avoid them, then it was best to scrupulously follow what ever direction they gave you, even if it ment jumping off the bridge into the stream were the Creeper lived. This reign of terror we later learned supposedly taught us discipline.

There were several classes of boys at the camps. There were those I called the heroes. They were usually larger more athletic boys so comfortable with their own vanity that they rarely troubled anyone. They were immune from threat by the bullies. The counselors liked them also.

There were of course the bullies who preyed on most of the rest of us. It would not be summer camp if there were not a lot of them around.

Among the rest of us, the real or potential victims of the bullies, there were those boys who were socially mature and aware enough to be able to divert the bullies attentions on to others not so accomplished. Later, I learned that this group usually became those who later in life were considered by many to be successful.

Obviously there was also the prey themselves. These were the repeated victims of the bullies. Without them no summer camp would be complete because then there would be no bullies. The prey were usually small or fat and cried a lot and sometimes wet the bed giving the bullies one more reason to humiliate them. They often became scientists or suicides when they grew up.

And finally there were those too socially inept to divert the bully’s attention but who out of fear or some other character defect fought back. Individuals in this group were not liked by anyone, had few friends and were considered troublemakers. About the only thing this last group got out of the camping experience was the knowledge that if for some reason they chose to protect a victim from a bully, they were assured neither the victim nor the bully found their interference welcome. Many of this last group eventually became drug addicts, alcoholics and/or manic depressives.

Note: Nesbro mentions BKK several time as the refuge of the parents of two of the protagonists who fled there after abandoning their positions in the Salvation Army. Nesbro is a regular visitor to Thailand and frequents the petite Bloomsbury of ex-pat mystery writers (Steven Leather, Chris Moore, John Burdett, Colin Piperrel and others) who frequently meet in assorted dives off Sukhumvit. I suspect future novels to focus more on Thailand and the Far-East.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing. I have skipped over the California Coastal Commission because I have dealt with it at length in previous issues of T&T (Although never completed).

C. The California State Coastal Conservancy.

1. Genesis

From 1973 through 1975 the California Coastal Commission created by a public initiative to develop a plan to manage development along its coast prepared the California Coastal Plan. I was the Commissions chief legal counsel, and in charge of its interim construction development permit program. In addition, I authored, in whole or in part, several elements of the Coastal Plan, the most pertinent for this article was the Government, Powers and Funding Element. That element developed the proposed governing structure for future protection of the California Coast.

The proposal envisioned a structure composed of three elements; the continuation of the existing regulatory program with substantially increased jurisdiction and with very specific coastal resource protection policies; the passage of a large public bond act in order to purchase lands so significant from an environmental and resource standpoint that even where tightly regulated they still needed to be shielded from normal economic forces, and the creation of a new type of governmental entity to be called the Coastal Conservancy. The plan went to the legislature. Three pieces of legislation were written and passed in 1976, The California Coastal Act, The Parks and Coastal Bond Act and the law that created California Coastal Conservancy.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Norris: Are you attempting to tell me my duties, sir?
Philip Marlowe: No, just having fun trying to guess what they are.

Chapter 22:

Back in the car Joe asked me if private investigators mostly find missing people.

I answered, “A detective of private investigator is hired to do a lot of things, but it is rarely if ever is he hired simply to find a missing person unless he is hired to find a missing heir. Most often he is retained to help a lawyer make a case for his client by finding the facts or documents needed. Sometimes he is hired to conduct background checks on potential employees. Sometimes he provides security. Sort of like you do for Martin. He serves court documents, like summons. It is a lot of fact gathering. Its pretty boring actually. It is a job like most jobs. It’s helps if you know what you are doing. It’s even better if you like what you’re doing. But mostly you’re doing it so you can eat, have a roof over your head or afford what ever turns you on.”

“Sounds pretty cynical boss.”

“Look, poor people have friends and family members who go missing. They do not hire private investigators. It often takes a lot of work and time find someone who does not want to be found. The reason why cops do very little more than take in the information when someone reports a missing person, is that a considerable amount of public funds will be spent on what needs to be done to track someone who probably is just off on a fling somewhere. But you, the detective, have got to eat. So, you charge for your time. Only rich people and corporations can pay you enough to allow you to live while you search. It is not cynicism. It’s reality.”

“So is that why you do not have an office like Al’s; to keep your costs low so poor people can afford you, sort of like if Mother Theresa was a cop?”

“No, it’s because I am not very good at it.”

“Sorry boss, I can’t buy that. Fucked up you may be, but I think you probably are pretty good at what you do, if and when you do it.”

“I’m not some athlete or rock star. I don’t need a cheerleader.”

“Ok, What about that cop Mai. She’s pretty hot? Thought I caught something between you two. You doing her?”

“That does not deserve an answer. So what do you think happened to Reilly?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re the great Viet Cong forward observer and fledging detective, what’s your guess?”

“I thought detectives don’t guess?”

“We’ll make an exception today.”

He thought for a few moments, then said, “We don’t know shit boss. We can’t even guess what if anything has happened with or to anyone. We cannot guess if Holland is really missing or even if the furniture is. The only thing we know is that Reilly is dead. And even there we do not know for sure how he died.”

“I agree.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We watch to see when they break for lunch. And, that we will begin at the wake this evening.”

I had him take me back to my loft, told him to dress in something suitable and pick me up later in the afternoon. I decided to begin my watching by calling Mavis and asking her to pick up lunch on the way over. She arrived with some pizza, coke and dope. She wore her formal black leathers that she assured me was suitable for a wake. After lunch, I watched her very closely until Joe Vu returned. During that time I did not observe anything suspicious except for a couple of times I don’t feel like mentioning.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“This ground has been trodden over a million times…. The standard argument that the market forces you to pay people what they are worth to your company is simply wrong. A very good developer can be worth millions of dollars a year to a software company. But she can’t command that much in salary because there are plenty of almost-just-as-good developers (and probably some just-as-good developers) who will work for, say, $150,000 per year. When you buy anything, you compare its value to that of the next best available alternative. Or, at least, that’s what you’re supposed to do…. Now, you might think that only one person in the whole world—let’s call him Ron Johnson—can increase the value of your company by $100 million, and no one else can come close. But unless Ron already has some deep connection to your company (e.g., Steve Jobs returning to Apple—and even in that case, his success was hard to foresee), you are almost certainly wrong. The marginal impact of a CEO is extremely hard to estimate in advance, and any expected value you come up with will be swamped by the standard deviation. The only honest answer is to say that there are a bunch of people who could probably help your company a lot, and that implies that you should hire the one who will do the job for the least money.”
James Kwak: CEO Salary Justification Season Is Open:

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), right-wing terrorists perpetrated 145 “ideologically motivated homicide incidents” between 1990 and 2010. In that same period, notes START, “al Qaeda affiliates, al Qaeda-inspired extremists, and secular Arab Nationalists committed 27 homicide incidents in the United States involving 16 perpetrators or groups of perpetrators.”

Last November, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center published a report on America’s violent far-right extremists. Its numbers were even more startling than START’s. “The consolidated dataset,” writes report author Arie Perliger, “includes information on 4,420 violent incidents that occurred between 1990 and 2012 within U.S. borders, and which caused 670 fatalities and injured 3,053 people.” Perliger also found that the number of far-right attacks had jumped 400% in the first 11 years of the 21st century.”
TomDispatch.com

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Bruh! Del the dunker homosapien was just fuckin around on a skateboard right next to me, and I was like, another black skater HOLY SHIT ITs Del!!”
Olivier Tomas Grandvoinet

“Killing man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.”
Howey, Hugh (2012-01-25). Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (p. 295). Broad Reach Publishing.

TODAY’S CHART:
america-is-really-big-were-so-big-that-our-states-are-bigger-than-many-countries-check-out-this-map-showing-states-that-are-the-size-of-whole-nations

This map shows the relative sizes of several countries compared to US states. Bangladesh which is about the same size of Illinois has over 150 million people while the State of Illinois has only about 13 million. Bangladesh, Japan and the Philippines together contain more people than live the entire US. The total population of the countries listed exceeds 1 billion.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Food Stands near Nana Plaza

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Shadow 0002

Happy Aphelion Day.

On June 5 ( 15 Shadow) the earth was at its aphelion its farthest point from the sun. I hope you celebrated it wisely.

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Went today to see the opening of the new movie, The Lone Ranger. It struck me as I left the theater that the arc of the great golden age of American civilization can be described as extending from Jay Silverheels to Jonny Depp.

Some critics have called the movie odd. Edward Scissorhands was odd. Alice in Wonderland was odd. Dark Shadows was odd. In fact anything with Depp in white face by definition is odd. What Depp does do here is give a master’s class in overacting that would make Stanislavski cringe in his coffin. If there were an Academy Award for vamping your audience this movie would qualify Depp for a lifetime achievement award. The final 30 minutes or so is one of the finest examples of destroy the scenery and smash the sets mayhem (with humor) one can hope to see in a movie. We will not be seeing its like again soon. And of course, with The William Tell Overture blaring in the background, the image of the white hatted masked man atop the white horse rampant will always stir the heart of 70-year-old little boys.

Note: The reviews are as odd as the film. One referred to the beauty of the images of the West Texas desert. West Texas could only hope its desert looked like that. Actually the deserts photographed are from Arizona and new Mexico primarily. Another review referred to the film as a remake of the 1930’s television program. I assume the reviewer is from generation X or whatever other generation that believes that television was always with us and that Julius Caesar had just caught his favorite reality show before stepping into that ill-fated Senate toilet.

Some reviewers complain that the movie is not a well assembled narrative. What have they been drinking? One goes to this movie to see Jonny Depp in white face as Tonto with a dead crow on his head. Everything else is gravy. Do they really think that people go to see Pirates of the Caribbean because it is the second coming of Captain Blood? No, they go to see Depp, Rush, Bloom and Knightley dress up like pirates, run around like crazy and say things like Arrragh. Narrative is so last century.

Finally, one review described it as failed irony. It’s not irony fathead, it’s slapstick. Slapstick is irony with roid rage.

Since I wrote the above I came across another review. This one criticized the film for its lack of a coherent message. Now, I do not know about the coherence thing, but if anything the movie has too many messages. For example: We learn that bankers and board members of railroad corporations are evil criminals and have much more hair on their face than anyone else in the movie; that heroes die and have their hearts devoured by bad guys with hair lips. We learn that bad guys who are not bankers or members of the RR board or directors are really skinny and ugly and stare a lot and although they do not shave they have less hair on their faces; that Chinese laborers working on the RR right of way were treated abysmally and apparently it was appropriate to assure labor peace by shooting dead any Chinaman who comments on working conditions; that drunken white horses can climb trees; that US cavalry captains with curly blond hair sell out indians for money; that wise old indian chiefs speak perfect idiomatic english and you wished they were your uncle rather than the drunk who shows up at your house on holidays; that the RR not only destroyed the environment but also stole the land from the indians even though it was hard to tell where the RR was going since the rails were either buried in the sand or ran straight into a mountain; that the indians had had it with the RR stealing their land and the silver that they did not know was there, so they wiped themselves out by committing mass suicide charging a train full of soldiers with hidden machine guns; that women only dressed in gingham and whenever anything interesting happened hugged their young sons, unless they were one-legged prostitutes in red dresses who were fitted with a carved Ivory prosthesis containing a shotgun inside; that no one respected white-faced Tonto even other indians; that kids will sell out their tribe for a shiny watch then become obsessed with a crow that was mysteriously killed; that a man in a white hat actually can ride a white horse down the center aisle of a train in order to save the gingham dressed woman; and that old people lie to kids about their own youth, and much much more…

Finally, did you know that Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on television, after the show went off the air always wore the costume, guns, mask and all whenever he appeared in public?

**********

LM mentioned that my preoccupation when working on my computer borders on obsession resulting in alienation with Hayden because of my sharp-tongued responses when he interrupts me. Earlier in the day I got angry with him when he told me that he would prefer going to Safari World with the nanny rather than coming with me to the movies.

As for my addiction to the computer, I think I have to refrain from using it when others are present. As to the Safari World v movie irritation, I probably am just losing it and am ready to return to the US.
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Multi-tasking
**********

At the urgings of the Honorable Jerry (with a J. Not the equally honorable Gerry with a G) I decided to strike up a conversation with the lonely man at the pool. At the end of each lap he stands for a while at the shallow end of the pool and stares or meditates on the high-rises in the distance. So I decided to wade over to stand in front of him, make eye contact and say something clever like “It’s a nice day, don’t you think?” Alas, no matter how long I stood there he did not look at me or acknowledge my presence but instead continued to contemplate the buildings.
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The lonely man meditating

The hotel in which the Health club and pool are located is frequented primarily by muslim and hindu visitors from South Asia, and Arabs from the Arabian peninsula. The women from the sub-continent even the muslims wear brightly colored clothing not the black burkas worn by Arab women. Interestingly, when they get to the pool many of them jump in fully clothed, their various scarves floating about them like multi-colored lily pads. This drives the Thai pool attendant nuts, since the hotel rules state specifically that bathing suits are to be worn in the pools.

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A young mother at the pool

The Indians, both muslim and Hindu usually are accompanied by their extended families and both men and women appear to be far more attentive to their children then westerners.

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Family vacation

**********

The good/bad David arrived in BKK. We had lunch where I learned he had been especially bad with a tattooed lady and others. Later the tattooed lady in question joined us. She showed me a photograph of a woman with reticulated python tattooed on her buttocks and asked me my opinion on whether she should get a similar one tattooed on hers. I told her that it seemed like a good idea to me.

**********

The next day Good/Bad David and I had lunch together where, alas, we drank too much wine which we continued at a bar on Soi 11 called Mulligan’s or something like that. We ended the evening at AVA’s where I watched David and Hayden play a cutthroat game of pool and where I ended the night sitting opposite the Tattooed lady, an experienced member of the world’s oldest profession and an attractive dermatologist. Before I could figure out the punch line, I was hustled into a taxi and sent home to sleep it off.

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The Good/Bad David with one of the threesome who sat at the table with me.

The Good/Bad David is off to Kenya on Friday to search the snake infested veld for evidence of petroleum reserves. I will miss him.

**********

Nikki arrived today. While not many could replace the good/bad David, Nikki made a solid try at it his first day in BKK.

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):

7. Departure.

Having accomplished what I had set out to do which was to get the program successfully under weigh, I began to feel it was time to leave MHIS. The idea of spending the rest of my professional life processing requests for hearings began to frighten me. A few months before taking the job I had spent three days taking a battery of tests at NYU in an effort to determine my career aptitude. The tests clearly showed that although I had graduated from law school and passed the bar, a career in law was not the best choice for me. Alas what it did demonstrate was that I was most suited for a career as an orchestra conductor.

It also revealed that I had no aptitude for any sort of repetitive endeavor. So strong was my antipathy normal routine activity that the psychologists administering the tests recommended I seek professional help.

So it was, that the moment I realized that I was no longer creating something but administering it, I began to go crazy. I did not realize it at the time but this was the major behavioral determinant of my life.

Although I left the MHIS many of the people I met while I worked there fifty years later still remain among the most vivid in my memory of all those I have met over the ensuing years. There was:

The Chief psychiatrist at Jacobi Hospital, a man who wore a cape that would swirl behind him whenever he entered a room. He lived in a large six-story brownstone on the upper west side of Manhattan before it gentrified. He owned the entire building. One floor he converted into an indoor basket ball court for his kids. On another floor in a large room located between the elevator and the reception rooms where he held his cocktail parties and dinners, he had installed his huge collection of African tribal art every single one of which featured a prominent engorged penis. His specialty was domestic relations. He invited me to join him behind the one way glass observing marital dispute resolution sessions. He opined once that all relationships are inevitably based upon dominance-dependency interaction.

The hospital administrator, a tiny woman, no more than 4′ 7″ tall who ran the operation without ever resorting the usual demonstrations of power. She was the kindest and most effective administrator I have ever met.

There were also the patients on the wards:

The pre adolescent serial killer, an 11-year-old boy who would by one ingenious method or another periodically escape the wards and then call the head of the psychiatric department of the medical school to taunt him about his escape. The boy had a magnetism about him that forced all who came in contact with him to love him and want to assist him. It was as though something had screwed up the brain’s wiring and created something that did not otherwise exist on earth. He died before his 14th birthday of a neurological disease that had been undetected. To this day I sometime wonder if there was not something more I could have done to help him.

The axe murderer, a short muscular man whose eyes blazed with fury. Whatever it was he saw in his mind, he wanted to fight it until he destroyed it.

The teen-aged boy in homosexual panic who at times would crawl into the bed of the catatonic woman and be found there the next morning clutching on to her in desperation.

And too many more to describe here.

And there were the ward attendants mostly black and inevitably gentle but firm with the patients. Among the attendants I especially remember the beautiful young woman who taught me that love could be a thing of joy. Something I had never experienced before and never would again.

I decided to leave to take a job as a trial lawyer. I always dreamed of becoming a great trial lawyer winning cases for the downtrodden, living hard and dying young. I wanted to be the best trial lawyer in the City. And I was for a while, racking up consecutive victories in jury trials that ranked with the best the City had produced until then. But I accomplished it at the cost of the destruction of my marriage, the death of my child, and watching my son, one of the happiest children I had ever known, age to become a thoroughly unhappy adult who despises me.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Convenient, the door being open when you didn’t have a key, eh?
Philip Marlowe: Yeah, wasn’t it. By the way, how’d you happen to have one?
Eddie Mars: Is that any of your business?
Philip Marlowe: I could make it my business.
Eddie Mars: I could make your business mine.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, you wouldn’t like it. The pay’s too small.

Chapter 21

Al Pischotti’s office was located on the Van Ness side of the Tenderloin, in an area that for years had been threatened with a rising tide of gentrification only to see it recede time and again. The building was almost one hundred years old and had experienced constant makeovers leaving it a hodgepodge history of cheap construction. The office on the top floor of the six-story building took up most of the floor. A single sided hallway ran around a small courtyard giving it a light cheery feeling even on cloudy days. In addition to Pischotti Investigations, a small one person law office and cruise ship discount travel agency shared the floor. The offices all had doors exiting onto the hallway as well as railroad car style between the offices of each business.

Al’s reception, as always, was manned by Al’s wife, Margo, a woman every bit as large in life and in physical presence as Al himself. She pretty much ran things while Al happily served as front man.

“Hiya Dragon,” Margo shouted out when we entered. “Where’ve ya been? Haven’t seen ya around in a while. Al’s got some people with him he’ll be through in a minute or so. He’ll be glad to see ya.”

She managed to get all this out without taking a breath. “Who’s this? she added upon noticing Joe.

“Good to see you too Margo,” I replied. “This is my new intern Joe Vu. I’ll only take a minute of Al’s time.”

“Take as long as you need. You planning to go big time, with an intern and all? Nice to meet ya Joe.”

Joe nodded seeming a little awed by Margo’s overwhelming presence.

“Have a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.” She said, turned to attend to the phone to inform Al, then seamlessly moved to shouting into the phone haranguing someone about an unpaid bill.

I sat. Joe continued standing taking in the photographs and certificates that took up every inch of space not covered by furniture or windows. The photo’s were mostly of Al with local political and business leaders. He was active in civic affairs and served on boards and commissions for a string of Mayors.

“Hey,” Joe shouted out. “He’s on the Parks Commission, can he get tickets for games?”

“Not just tickets kid. If ya play your cards right you can sit in the Commission’s private box,” Margo said somehow aware of him while also continuing her heated telephone conversation.

At that moment the door to Al’s office opened and two people exited with him. “Hey, Dragon,” he said when he saw me. “You know Mai and Saski.”

Mai Chang and Andy Saski are two homicide detectives with the City. Mai and I had a brief affair when she and Andy worked on the murder of one of my law firm partners a few years ago. Both the affair and the murder indirectly led to my ultimate departure from the firm.

There were a lot of “hi ya’s,” how’s it going’s” and “good to see you’s” to last a week or two. I introduced Joe to the cops as someone working with me on an assignment. There were then some “give us a call’s,” and “see ya around’s,” The detectives left and we joined Al in his office.

Al moved through the room like a container ship at full throttle and gracefully circled his desk. He had a small badge given to retired city police clipped to his belt. Also affixed to his belt was a tiny gun encased in a leather holster. He sat down at his large and exceptionally messy desk. He was a big man a little over six feet tall and shaped like a triangle with its base located around his upper thighs. He looked like one of those pear-shaped Disney cartoon characters who despite their bulk have the grace of a ballerina. He was one of the nicest people I knew.

“Mia and Saski and I are working a couple of things together.” he said. Al still sometimes worked with the cops on contract. At other times he voluntarily assisted them on politically delicate matters.

“They said that Reilly’s autopsy revealed nothing that would suggest he was murdered,” he added. “So you’re helping this guy out? He needs all the help he can get.” he continued genially looking towards Joe.

“He’s my intern. His name is Joe Vu.”

“I’m pleased to meet you Joe,” Al said. “Intern eh? So you want to become a private investigator?”

“My uncle want’s me to,” Joe replied.

“His uncle is a business man from San José who sometimes strays into shady but lucrative endeavors,” I added.

“Don’t we all?” said Al. “I guess Dragon here has begun teaching you about tracing missing persons; Social Security Traces, Voter Registration search, Uniform Commercial Codes, National Identifier, Forwarding Addresses, Driver Licenses, Criss-cross Directories and all the other things one can use on your computer?”

“Nah, he has me drive him around, watch old movies and listen to him talk crazy.”

Al laughed a hearty laugh. I just stared at Vu in annoyance.

“Well at least you’re observant. Observation is important. Do you think you are a good observer? “

“Well, I donno. My Grandfather…”

“His grandfather was a Viet Cong general,” I added trying to be helpful.

“My grandfather told me that it was by watching we were able to beat you guys. For example, American soldiers always stopped to eat; like the war was on hold while they had lunch. So they waited until the Americans stopped to eat and did whatever were needed to do then, like get in place for an ambush. Also they saw that you guys liked to travel the easy way along roads or in straight lines. Not like us crawling here and there through the jungle. So whenever we saw you stop to eat we could pretty much know where you would be, say in and hour or two. We’d wait there. Also, my grandfather said you guys would call in the helicopters as soon as the shooting started. But they knew where they were coming from and so they could position some others to wait where they knew you would fly over and shoot at you as you passed. You believed if you killed enough of us we would give up. But you did not realize that even if only one of us remained we still had learned enough about you to set an ambush and get away. Yeah I think I know something about watching. For example I know by watching that Boss here hopes this whole thing we’re doing for my uncle would go away and he can get back to blowing some dope and screwing his girlfriend. And so do I.”

Both Al and I were silent for a moment, then Al let out a booming laugh. “I’ll tell you what,” he said between chuckles. “I could always use a trained watcher. Call me whenever you would like some work.” He then turned to me and said, “I like this kid.” I, not so much.

“You seem like a bright kid. Why aren’t you in college?” Al inquired.

“As my uncle said, ‘this is America’ if you got enough money nothing else counts.”

“So, why does he have you working for Dragon here?”

“I guess it’s because he wants me to keep an eye on him,” he shrugged.

After a little more back and forth with Joe and a few jokes and comments at my expense, I mentioned to Al l that I would probably see him at the wake. Besides paying my respects to the widow, I wanted look around the property and talk to the mourners to see if I could get a line of the missing property. He did not think I would come up with anything. I agreed. I held little hope that I would find anything but felt I had to go through the motions.

I then asked Al for a contact at the Port who I could speak with who would help me try to trace the containers. With that name in hand, we left.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

“It was crime at the time, but the laws, we changed them: “Kevin Drum’s nickel summary works for me, comparing and contrasting the new decision, in Shelby County v. Holder with Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (PDF). ‘So here’s your nickel summary. If a law is passed on a party-line vote, has no justification in the historical record, and is highly likely to harm black voting, that’s OK as long as the legislature in question can whomp up some kind of neutral-sounding justification. Judicial restraint is the order of the day. But if a law is passed by unanimous vote, is based on a power given to Congress with no strings attached, and is likely to protect black voting, that’s prohibited unless the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Congress’s approach is one they approve of. Judicial restraint is out the window. Welcome to the 21st century.'”
John Holbo:Noted for June 27, 2013″ J. Bradford DeLong.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

1. A chicken in every pot and a solar array on every house.

7698_10151362734866275_783892216_n-1

(I do not know is the numbers are correct, but even if they are close to being correct, a program like this could have a similar impact on the US economy as previous major public improvement programs, like the nations RR network, freeway system, port and canal development, rural electrification and disaster related community re-construction and rehabilitation. I believe more of the wealth for which this nation boasts has been released by these public programs than could have been accomplished by private efforts alone. Private enterprise on the other hand has been effective in exploiting these resources, effectively turning the potential wealth released by the public investments into reality. On the other hand, some argue that the corruption [public and private] that accompanied and followed these investments made them not worth it.)
_
2. Everybody works hard. Some, alas, claim what they are paid really rewards their effort.

Bruce Bartlett, a former conservative, notes, ‘Only 61.8 percent of national income went to compensation of employees in 2012, compared with 65.1 percent in 2001.” Middle- and lower-class blue-collar workers are actually creating more, but getting less. While productivity has steadily increased by a total of 85 percent between 1979 and 2012, the inflation adjusted wage of the median worker rose by a paltry 6 percent and the value of the federal minimum wage fell by 21 percent.’

Richard Branson has said, ‘Yes, entrepreneurs may work hard, but I don’t think they actually work any harder than, say, doctors, nurses or other people in society…’
From Brad Delong’s Journal

B. Whispers of Forgotten Ancestors:

“I]mmigration… [in] the early 20th century, when it was overwhelmingly legal, documented, lightly regulated and European…. Millions of newcomers then were readily absorbed… the main objection was… that it was… filling America… with foreigners of unfamiliar tongues and customs… nonetheless… a familiar ring today. Both sides… praised immigration… while disagreeing as to whether newer arrivals were somehow fundamentally less desirable than those of yore….”
Drew Keeling

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Does a pope live in the woods?”
Sarah Palin

“The only trouble with retirement is…I never get a day off!”
Anon.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

998523_10151516398676275_731083818_n

TODAY’S CHART:
global-temperatures
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Water study

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Shadow 0002

TODAY FROM THAILAND:



A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Bangkok

Bangkok Thailand is a city of gleaming skyscrapers, elegant shopping centers and spectacular temples surrounded by vast areas teeming with those who have left somewhere else in hopes of somehow securing a better life. Many of these migrants or immigrants huddle in informal settlements of rude shelters mired in poverty often as great as that they have left behind. But they have two things going for them. One as old as ever in the hearts of migrants, hope. The other just as old, but requiring renewal wherever the poor and destitute gather, a sense of community.

**********

The Good/Bad David’s 59th birthday was last week. He spent it being bad in Pattaya. He complained that next year he will be 60. I told him not to worry, 60 is the new 50. 70 I found out was the new 60. Alas, I also discovered that 73, however, is just the same as the old 73 — there are just more of us around.

**********

Gary (Canadian hockey playing Gary, not not Pattaya, weight-lifting Gary) and his wife Pui who own a spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13, have given me a complementary pass for spa and massage services. This has made me very happy.

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If you are in BKK Pookie says check it out.

**********

SWAC is off to Italy for some reason. She plans to stay for a week. Harley H. Hayden will be spending most of that time with me when he is not spending it with someone else.

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Harley H. Hayden’s BKK Gang.

**********

LM had one last complementary movie ticket. Since we already have seen all the movies showing, we decided to see “The Sapphires” again. I wanted see if I could figure out what I really liked about the movie. Of course, any movie that has Chris O’Dowd playing Chris O’Dowd has to be great. Similarly, any film whose featured song is “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” cannot miss. I am still in love with Deborah Mailman. I cried some more. Maybe it was the music and the memories.

Quote:

Dave (Chris O’Dowd) :

“Before we go than, girls when I met you were doing all country and western thing and that’s fine we all make mistakes. But here is what we learn from that mistake. Country and western music is about loss. Soul music is also about loss. But the difference is in country and western music, they’ve lost, they’ve given up and they are just all wining about it. In soul music they are struggling to get it back, they haven’t given up.”

If you do go to see it please let me know why you think I like the movie as much as I do. Also perhaps you can help me understand why I find a plain-looking slightly overweight 40 plus year old woman trying to persuade her audience that she is a 20 something singing star so desirable.

**********

Today I went to Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s version of Central Park or Golden Gate park. For the major park in the city, it is a bit run down. I fed the fish stale bread I had lying around the apartment. The fish were large, voracious and in great numbers. They were not as large as the fish in the lake at the Dusit Zoo in BKK, some of those were four to five feet long. There were a few monitor lizards swimming about. Again they were not as large or as numerous as those in the lake at the Dusit zoo. We spent about a half hour pedaling a swan boat around the lake and then returned home. This visit made me happy too.

DSCN1460_2

A Lumpen at Lumpini.

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Free at last:

At about the same time as the US Supreme Court handed down their decision allowing same-sex couples to get married, the highest court in China declared that mutual masturbation among consulting adults even if performed in exchange for money or other incentives, when not accompanied by direct penile to vaginal penetration (fingers, tongues and almost everything else one can think of is ok) is not prostitution as prohibited by Chinese criminal law.

(Well,… at long last a happy ending, but maybe not free…)

Speaking of the US Supreme Court:

A few days before their historic decision granting homosexuals the freedom to marry the person of their choice, the US Supreme Court took away the right of many black people to vote. So what this means is that now gays can join the Republican Party without shame while a lot of African-Americans…still cannot vote even if they are Republicans.

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

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

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

6. Problems and insights.

c. Problems raised because they did not want MHIS there.

When something new is instituted there is a tendency among those supporting it to view those who may have opposed it as “enemies.” This applies more to Progressives than to conservatives, since the latter are not noted for proposing or supporting things that could be entitled “new.”

In the case of the MHIS, much of the opposition to its creation came from psychiatrists and hospital administrators. The former because they feared “second guessing” by lawyers of medical decisions and the latter for concerns about costs and administrative regularity. After the legislation was passed many of those hired to carry out the law continued to view them as the enemy.

When it comes to implementation of any program, I always believed that viewing any person or group as enemies was unproductive. I preferred to consider them resources.

In the case of the doctors, the literary image of them eager to imprison unwary patients was simplistic at best. Once persuaded that their fears that the patients would be agitated in ways that would disrupt their treatment and that I was not there to challenge their findings, they began to rationalize the patients will to be independent not only had legal implications but therapeutic as well they grudgingly began to support the program.

I spent a lot of my time right away with the doctors especially the department heads trying to understand their concerns and accommodate them where the patients legal rights would not be jeopardized.

Similarly I met with the hospital administrators, inquiring about their concerns and simplifying procedures. This seems an obvious approach, but most of the other district directors believed that a more adversarial posture with the “other side” as they described them was more protective of patient rights.

By the time I left, it was only in my area that the program had been fully integrated. More patient requested judicial hearings were held than in any other district. In addition, more patients were released and sent home. All with the active support of the hospital administrations.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: What will your first step be?
Philip Marlowe: The usual one.
Vivian: I didn’t know there was a usual one.
Philip Marlowe: Well sure there is, it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 of how to be a detective in 10 easy lessons correspondent school textbook and uh, your father offered me a drink.
Vivian: You must’ve read another one on how to be a comedian.

Chapter: 20.

We drove to Crissy Field in silence, parked and bought some ice cream at the small restaurant and souvenir shop in one of the converted military buildings. We walked across the restored marsh on the little wooden bridge. In front of us was the Golden Gate, the bridge soaring over the strait to our right. Massive tankers and container ships lumber through flotillas of pleasure craft while wind and kite surfers dart among them seeking the strongest breezes streaming between the headlands.

It was a sunny summer day, breezy and cool. I leaned over the fence looking at the restored marsh, my back to the Bay. Joe faced the other way watching the joggers and walkers pass by on the path in front of him.

Joe broke the silence. “So boss, what do we do next? Why are we here?”

I asked, “When you look at this wetland here, what do you see?”

He turned around, looked at the restored marsh for a moment then said, “OK,… I see some water, a lot of mud, a few ugly ass birds and a bunch of sick looking weeds. Do I pass?”

“It’s not a test. Wetlands like this are very fertile, a lot of things come here to eat, breed and grow, even humans used to hang around here, indians. I agree with you its pretty ugly for something that is a nursery of life; the water is pretty stagnant, barely covering the land underneath and it smells. There’s mud everywhere and the “weeds” as you call them crowd the shore pressing against one another, until like bankers they greedily seek more nourishment then the environment can supply and they die and eventually their husks will fill the marsh and it will disappear. The whole place reeks of death, and yet it is one of nature’s wellsprings of life. Nature made a mistake. No clear running water, crashing waves, or handsome trees. But here is where it, life, begins and flourishes hand in hand with death.”

“That’s sort of interesting boss. Weird too. What does this have to do about anything. You know private detecting or the case– er, the assignment.”

“This is a fake marsh. It was built by some rich people to memorialize what was here before. Sort of like a statue of a general on a horse representing some dead guy. In this case it looks like the real thing and acts a lot alike the real thing. But everything else that was there, that was a part of it is gone, even the indians. We have something else here, a new reality as well as a memorial”

“Are you stoned? it sounds like you’re stoned Boss. Did Martin freak you out? I remember at the temple monks talking like that, a lot of shit that makes no sense. Are you buddhist?”

I chuckled, pushed myself away from the fence and began to walk back to the car. Joe followed.

“Did you notice in the movies I told you to watch everything took place over a couple of days, yet the movie only took 90 minutes or so. What do you think they were doing during all the other time. Living that’s what, eating, sleeping, jerking off, shitting and going back to their offices earning a living. That’s what they were doing.”

“So, what, were going back to the office? You don’t have one.”

“You’re right, sort of. I do not have any other assignments as well as no office. On this assignment there is nothing to do until this evening. In the meantime we eat ice cream and stare at a bunch of mud. If I were buddhist I’d meditate to pass the time.”

“Does this mean you’ve figured it all out, solved it?”

“There is nothing very much to solve here. Nothing much has happened. Sometimes, most times, on most assignments nothing happens. People just imagine things.”

“Is that another rule Boss?”

I ignored him and continued on. We had passed around the edge of the restored marsh.

Joe said, “I don’t understand. You say nothing happened. The Reilly guy is dead that’s something and Martin’s furniture is missing that’s something too. And what about the two fat guys. That sounds like a lot of something.”

I responded, “As far as Reilly is concerned, he could have had an accident and fallen into the bay, or if he killed himself it could have been for a reason that had nothing to do with our investigation. And if he was in fact murdered, Reilly was an asshole, a lot of people could have off’d him and I’m sure many have reasons to do so. We have nothing that indicates the failed business deal we are investigating has anything to do with it, except they sort of happened near to one another in time; the failure of the deal and his death. Interesting, curious perhaps but indicative of nothing. We, you, me and the others happened on the scene. Our ego’s want to make it all related. That makes good mystery novels but bad investigations.”

“Does this mean you are going to have me watch another prehistoric black and white movie?”

“No, it means we are going to visit a real private detective one with an office, a badge and who even carries a gun.”

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Several times here in T&T and in some of my blog posts I argued that the modern financial system that first developed in the US and the north atlantic countries and has now spread throughout the world since 1980 has in fact limited the growth of world wealth rather than grown it as some of its supporters, such as that evil man Milton Friedman, predicted.

Brad DeLong has recently commented on the fact that in 1950 finance and insurance in the US accounted for less than 3% of GDP, but by 2011 accounts for almost 6% of GDP without measurable evidence that it has boosted growth by expected amounts.

Delong also pointed our a fundamental truth about the current financial system:

“There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money…”

He adds:

“Over the past year and a half, in the wake of Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff’s estimate that 2% of U.S. GDP was wasted in the pointless hypertrophy of the financial sector, evidence that our modern financial system is less a device for efficiently sharing risk and more a device for separating rich people from their money–a Las Vegas without the glitz–has mounted.

Recently in revisiting this problem Delong wrote:

“…the events and economic research of the past years have demonstrated three things. First, modern finance is simply too powerful in its lobbying before legislatures and regulators for it to be possible to restrain its ability to create systemic macroeconomic risk while preserving its ability to entice customers with promises of safe, sophisticated money management. Second, the growth-financial deepening correlations on which I relied do indeed vanish when countries move beyond simple possession of a banking system, EFT, and a bond market into more sophisticated financial instruments. And, third, the social returns to the U.S.’s and the North Atlantic’s investment in finance as the industry of the future over the past generation has, largely, crapped out. A back-of-the-envelope calculation I did in 2007 suggested that in mergers and acquisitions the world paid finance roughly $800 billion/year for about $170 billion/year of real economic value–a rather low benefit-cost ratio–and that appears to be not the exception but the rule.”

In other words, as I never tire of repeating, in one form or another the depredations of the parasite community impoverishes us all.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

blog_epi_gini_1979_taxation_0

(I have no idea what this chart means except I am informed that it is something I should be upset about.)

B. André Malraux on the capture of the French Resistance leader Jean Moulin on June 21 1943:

21st June 1943: French resistance leader Jean Moulin captured: The Resistance was gaining in strength; fugitives from the forced labour draft would soon be taking to the maquis. The Gestapo was growing stronger too, and the Milice were everywhere. It was a time when, out in the countryside, we listened tensely to the barking of dogs in the depths of the night; a time when multi-coloured parachutes, laden with weapons and cigarettes, fell from the sky by the light of flares burning in forest clearings or on windswept plateaus; a time of cellars, and the desperate cries of the torture victims, their voices like those of children… The great battle in the darkness had begun.

On 27 May 1943, the first meeting of the National Council of the Resistance was held in Paris, in the rue du Four.

Jean Moulin restated the aims of Free France: “to prosecute the war; to restore freedom of expression to the French people; to re-establish republican freedoms in a state which incorporates social justice and which possesses a sense of greatness; to work with the Allies on establishing real international collaboration, both economic and social, in a world in which France has regained her prestige.”

Then he read out a message from General de Gaulle, assigning the first Council of the Resistance its primary goal: to maintain the unity of the Resistance it represented.

Each of its members went in daily peril of his life. On 9 June, General Delestraint, commander of the secret army, unified at last, was taken prisoner in Paris.

There was no obvious successor, as so often happens in the secret world. Before the arrival of Serreules, Jean Moulin said on many occasions, “Had I been captured, I would not even have had time to brief a deputy…”. He wanted the appointment of a successor to be made with the agreement of the Resistance movements, particularly those in the south. He was to meet their representatives on 21 June, in Caluire.

They were waiting for him.

So, too, was the Gestapo.

Treason played its part – as did destiny, which made the normally punctual Jean Moulin three quarters of an hour late, only to be matched by the tardiness of the German police. Soon enough, they learned that they had captured the head of the Resistance.

Little good it did them. In the Montluc fort in Lyons, on the day that the Gestapo agent handed him writing materials because torture had left him unable to speak, Jean Moulin sketched a caricature of his torturer. As for what followed, let us turn to the stark words of his sister: “His part was played, and his ordeal began. Jeered at, savagely beaten, his head bleeding, his internal organs ruptured, he attained the limits of human suffering without betraying a single secret, he who knew everything.”

Let us be quite clear that, for the days in which he was still able to speak or write, the fate of the whole Resistance hung on the courage of this one man. As Mademoiselle Moulin put it, he knew everything.


TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…it fit like a metaphor.”
Bruen -The Dramatist

TODAY’S CHART:

800px-World_population_density_1994

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

254754_520979857922141_1053616045_n

Categories: Julu through September 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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