This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Papa Joe 0002 – October 16 2013

 

Happy Birthday Anthony

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Since Nikki’s departure on Sunday, my days have become so regular and uneventful, I have begun to wonder if what I am experiencing is some form of death. On the other hand, in response to my concern about my increasingly frequent episodes of elation and depression, my doctor has restored my happy pills regime. As a result, I now face each insipid day with a satisfying sense of drooling pleasure.

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

One of my blog posts surprisingly was picked up by Brad DeLong’s Journal. This pleased me because it never happened before and because DeLong’s blog is one of my favorites. Of course, one of the reasons they may have reprinted it may have been because my blog essentially was about how perceptive an economist I believed DeLong to be.

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

Through Brad DeLong’s Journal, I recently have been introduced to a blog written by Ashok Rao that contains some of the most penetrating and insightful analysis of contemporary economic thought I have read in a long time. What is amazing, however, is not the quality of the analysis but that Mr. Rao is only 18 years old and a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes a one to two thousand word article almost every day reviewing the recent publications of some of the most eminent writers in the field. How does he find time to do his school work?

The following is one of his quotes that I liked a lot:

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

There is an ideology that accommodates the worst of efficient markets, supply side economics, and neoliberal economists like Milton Friedman. It is called right-wing hackery, with Niall Ferguson as high priest.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

 

 

ENTER THE DRAGON:

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 30:

Mavis was in her shop when I arrived. She appeared to be cleaning the tattoo ink gun that I always thought resembled an assault weapon.

“OK,” I said. “Let’s try for the truth this time. You spoke with Holland. Were is he?”

She put down the weapon, gazed at the floor and said, “I do not know for sure.”

“But you have a pretty good idea.”

No answer for a few moments then, “Look I did not want anyone to get hurt, I only thought it might be a way to make a little money.”

“Confessions later, where’s Holland?”

“He has a friend who has a farm-house in the hills behind Pescadero. The friend travels a lot and Mark stays there now and then. I went there once. I do not know for sure if he’s there. He didn’t say. I’m just guessing.”

“Did you tell anyone besides Joe Vu about Holland’s call?”

“No..uh yes, I mentioned it to Lilly yesterday at the party..ah…wake.”

“Shit! Does she know about the farm?”

“I don’t know.”

I turned and stared out the shop window at the street and the Lexus in which Joe sat waiting. I tried to think. Did the Tons of Fun or whomever was running them know? They seemed not to. Why would they ask if I found something? Of course if they already found him, maybe they would want to know how close I was. Fuck, what am I doing here spinning out theories? I’m no fucking cop.

I turned back to her. “Let’s go over the story from the beginning.”

She haltingly began by telling how they met one day when he came into her shop for a tattoo. She eventually introduced him to Lilly. Besides buying some cocaine from him when he had some to deal she introduced him to Reilly who needed someone to help him with his remodel and Mark had been a carpenter at one time. Eventually Reilly told Mark about his dream to import furniture from Southeast Asia and sort of become another Ikea. Mark, Mavis and Lilly talked about this and Lilly mentioned Martin Vihn as a client looking for some cash investments. Eventually Mark became the go between with Clarence and Vihn. After about a month and a trip to Southeast Asia where he met with Clarence’s wife’s family things began to move along.

One day Mark came by the shop looking troubled. They went upstairs had a joint and Mark told her that someone wanted him to slip some jewelry into the shipment to be smuggled into the US. He was unsure about the risk but thought the money promised to him was enough to take the risk.

There were a few more trips back and forth to Asia one or two of which he was joined by Lilly. Then one night not long before the things were to be shipped, while they were sitting around stoned and Mavis suggested that maybe we could ship a little heroin also and they could split the sales. He did not say anything about it. The next morning she had second thoughts about it and told him so.

A few days before she hired me, Mark had told her the shipment had arrived but that more people knew about the smuggling than he thought. Mavis asked him who. He refused to answer but said that he thought their piece was secure. She began to scream at him that she had told him she did not want to be a part of it. That’s when he hit her and walked out. She had not heard from him until yesterday morning.

It was hard for me to believe anything she said but at the same time I hadn’t the slightest idea what if anything to disbelieve so I asked, “What did he say on the telephone call.”

“He said he was not far away and was in trouble and could I help him out. When I asked him what sort of trouble, he said that they may kill him. I asked who is trying to kill him, he said it was not something he wanted to tell me. He knew where the stuff was he said, ‘because I put it there.’ He said he needed money and help to get it away. I told him no, that I had hired you to find him and you had gotten hurt and I did not want anyone more to get hurt. Then he asked if you would be able to help him since there was a lot of money involved. I said I did not want you involved and asked him why he wasn’t asking Lilly or the gangster. He got himself in this mess and while I felt bad he had to get himself out of it. He threw a fit and threatened both me and you and hung up.”

“How do I get to the farm-house.”

“Why? Your not getting paid for this. Why put yourself in danger?”

“Well actually I am getting paid to find him but if I tell anyone about this I can’t promise he won’t be hurt.”

“I’m going with you. I know the way but I can’t describe it.”

Against my better judgement, I agreed.

“I have to change first.”

“Shit, Okay, I’m going to stay right here and watch. I don’t want you calling anyone.”

“Don’t you trust me?” she said with a smile.

“Not on my life.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1870 to Present : Worldwide, 1870 saw five ounces of copper mined per person in the world. Today we mine five pounds. Today there are about seven times more people alive than in 1870. That means the total amount of copper mined is about 100 times more than was mined then.

1870 saw one pound of steel produced per person in the world. Today we produce 350.That means today we produce 2450 times more steel.

(I doubt that mathematically this level of growth can continue very far into the future. If not, then what happens?)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

(What this chart really means to me is the regrettable tendency of this nation to enter foolish and unwinnable wars from the War on Drugs to the War in Iraq, that have proven to be a great drain on our treasury and which have impoverished us all. More empires and nations have vanished by engaging in improvident and fruitless wars than from just about any other cause one can think of. In fact, I cannot think of any nation, empire or civilization that has collapsed for being too generous to its ordinary citizens.)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

According to the Harvard Business Review:

“Most of the character traits that are truly advantageous for effective leadership are predominantly found in those who fail to impress others about their talent for management. This is especially true for women. There is now compelling scientific evidence for the notion that women are more likely to adopt more effective leadership strategies than do men. Most notably, in a comprehensive review of studies, Alice Eagly and colleagues showed that female managers are more likely to elicit respect and pride from their followers, communicate their vision effectively, empower and mentor subordinates, and approach problem-solving in a more flexible and creative way (all characteristics of “transformational leadership”), as well as fairly reward direct reports. In contrast, male managers are statistically less likely to bond or connect with their subordinates, and they are relatively more inept at rewarding them for their actual performance. Although these findings may reflect a sampling bias that requires women to be more qualified and competent than men in order to be chosen as leaders, there is no way of really knowing until this bias is eliminated.”

(Harvard Business School seems to have confirmed my assertions in prior posts that perhaps after 10,000 years of male control in society, they should be replaced by female management of our dominant institutions. This does not mean that woman would not screw up as badly as men, only that their screw ups would probably be less catastrophic on species survival than that of men.

After all, bashing someones head in with a club, which seems to be something men do exceedingly well, may have had an important historical role in species survival and prosperity. Today, however, with the extent of the global interaction of humanity’s major institutions and the incredible and potentially devastating power of its technology, bashing someones skull in even with a metaphorical club does not appear to me to be a behavior conducive to either institutional or species success or for that matter survival.)

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

Vasily Grossman in the Ukraine with the advancing Red Army discovers what the Germans did in Kazary:

“There’s no one left in Kazary to complain, no one to tell, no one to cry. Silence and calm hover over the dead bodies buried under the collapsed fireplaces now overgrown by weeds. This quiet is much more frightening than tears and curses.

Old men and women are dead, as well as craftsmen and professional people: tailors, shoemakers, tinsmiths, jewellers, house painters, ironmongers, bookbinders, workers, freight handlers, carpenters, stove-makers, jokers, cabinetmakers, water carriers, millers, bakers, and cooks; also dead are physicians, prothesists, surgeons, gynaecologists, scientists — bacteriologists, biochemists, directors of university clinics — teachers of history, algebra, trigonometry.

Dead are professors, lecturers and doctors of science, engineers and architects. Dead are agronomists, field workers, accountants, clerks, shop assistants, supply agents, secretaries, nightwatchmen, dead are teachers, dead are babushkas who could knit stockings and make tasty buns, cook bouillon and make strudel with apples and nuts, dead are women who had been faithful to their husbands and frivolous women are dead, too, beautiful girls, and learned students and cheerful schoolgirls, dead are ugly and silly girls, women with hunches, dead are singers, dead are blind and deaf mutes, dead are violinists and pianists, dead are two-year—olds and three-year-olds, dead are eighty-year-old men and women with cataracts on hazy eyes, with cold and transparent fingers and hair that rustled quietly like white paper, dead are newly-born babies who had sucked their mothers’ breast greedily until their last-minute.

This was different from the death of people in war, with weapons in their hands, the deaths of people who had left behind their houses, families, fields, songs, traditions and stories. This was the murder of a great and ancient professional experience, passed from one generation to another in thousands of families of craftsmen and members of the intelligentsia.

This was the murder of everyday traditions that grandfathers had passed to their grandchildren, this was the murder of memories, of a mournful song, folk poetry, of life, happy and bitter, this was the destruction of hearths and cemeteries, this was the death of the nation which had been living side by side with Ukrainians over hundreds of years …”
(Taken from Brad Delong’s Journal)

D. Important points noted:

1. Izabella Kaminska: Dark inventory, death of a city edition:

 

“As we’ve argued before, the world is beset by a capital crisis not a debt crisis. There is too much capital and not enough productive use for it — at least not in western markets.”

2. Alvaro Vargas Llosa: Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America:
“The erosion of national boundaries—and even the idea of the nation state—is already underway as people become ever more inter-connected across borders. A jungle of myth, falsehood and misrepresentation dominates the debate over immigration. The reality is that the economic contributions of immigration far outweigh the costs.”

(I have argued these points, for good or ill, for years now.

Capital does not induce demand. In the Real world, only a very few entrepreneurs seek to develop incipient demand where there is money available in the hands of a consumer, most try to capture what is already there by manipulating desires. No-one invests money to encourage demand where the consumer has no funds to buy what is offered for sale.

As for immigration, for many reasons, we are entering a period of perhaps the greatest migrations of humanity in history. While it is true migrants seek greater security, they usually do not seek welfare. In every society welfare pays too little to make the trip worth it even where their lives depend on it. That is why so many of them take jobs no one else wants to do.

I believe one of the main reasons for opposition to immigration is not simple racism, that is just an excuse, but the real fear that immigrants will work harder than natives at jobs they compete for. Recall the largest mass lynching in American History was of a group of Italian immigrants in Louisiana essentially because the immigrant community was willing to work longer and at lower pay than the white natives.)

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
1. Provide for the national defense.
2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1000922_10151550482679071_1194049097_n
(This chart makes it appear as though either we are the most lawless nation on earth or the most oppressive. Actually, we seem to imprison more people for victimless crimes like possession of marijuana than anywhere else. This trend accelerated in the 1990s and early 2000s when we began turning over operation of our prisons to private contractors.)

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Athena.

 

TODAY FROM AMERiCA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I received a call one night from my brother-in-law George informing me that my 95-year-old mom had been rushed to the hospital. The following morning I travelled to SF to see her. By then, my mom had been diagnosed with a urinary infection, shot up with antibiotics and returned to the nursing home. George and I visited her there. At first she was crying and complaining of the pain. As she began directing her usual insults at me, something that she has done for as long as I can remember, she seemed to perk-up enough so that when the nurse came into the room and told her the people in the nursing home lunch-room were asking about her she inquired if any of them were men. George and I then went to the cafeteria for lunch composed mostly of white and grey colored food. I offered a dish of vanilla ice cream to the woman in a wheel chair sitting opposite me. She declined saying her butt was too big already and then inviting me to take a look if I’d like. We returned to my mom’s room and, after settling her in for a nap, departed.

We then went to Bernie’s café in Noe Valley where we met Peter. We ordered coffee and then sat in the sun on the benches in front of Bernie’s and reminisced. Peter and George worked out the plot for the next mystery novel I would write and not finish. It concerned concentric circles and a well-known but very dead Scientologist who, through the internet, rented for the night Dragon’s apartment in BKK that looks a lot like mine and who expired in the arms of an equally dead Thai ladyboy. Dragon and a team of second-rate ex-pat novelists living in Thailand investigate.

Later I had dinner at my sister’s house with George and my nephew Brendan. Brendan plays in the band, “Not Sure, Not Yet,” whose next gig is somewhere in LA. My sister was in NYC as a panelist at a UN conference on social welfare organizations. Immediately following this she planed to attend the Bill Clinton conference at which my old partner Christine Lagarde current head at IMY is one of the keynote speakers. It has been over 20 years since I last spoke with either Clinton or Lagarde. They each have a different form of charisma. Clinton is like the warming sun after a cool night, while Lagarde in more like the electric turquoise shimmer of a glacier just before it tumbles into the ocean.

I waited for Nikki to arrive from Milan and when he did, he and I drove back to El Dorado Hills.

**********************************
Almost a week has gone by during which three grown and more of less aging men have spent most of their time responding to the whims of an 8 year old boy and enjoying it. I have alternated between furious bouts of black depression and gentle amusement punctuated by one night of boisterous drinking on the deck followed by a day of pain and suffering.

Recently I have been informed that a number of people I know consider me something between a tragic failure and an insufferable moocher. Now normally this would disturb me, being somewhat oblivious to my peculiar behavior and shocked when it is pointed out to me that it is looked at as both odd and undesirable. I can see where some may think that. God knows, at times I think it myself. But even if it were true, when I consider that one of those who has said that is the person who has repeatedly abandoned her child, I really don’t care too much. Nevertheless, I feel I have accomplished what I have set out to do, the boy is no longer teetering on the edge psychological and physical desolation so perhaps it is time for me to move on anyway.

I have begun to deal with my periodic bouts of boredom and depression by seriously exploring publishing options other than screeds in left-wing blogs read primarily by those who prefer spending most of their lives in dark rooms venting their spleen about things they will never have the ability to affect. I realize my stuff is not particularly good or especially interesting, but from what I have observed of what is out there that would place me somewhere in the middle. It, like life in general, is a lot like running in a marathon, you may never finish in the top 10, but just finishing itself can be considered a worthy accomplishment.

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

Nikki left and later that day I spent some time with my old friend Lina. She was just passing through the Sacramento area on her way back to her home in Southern California. She seemed happy to remind me of the many failures of my personal life. The next day I went to the doctor for a check up. He prescribed a lot of pills. That made me happy.

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

A lengthy digression on traveling and old Greeks:

I think here I should interrupt my usual narrative and share with you (well to be honest, impose upon you) my recent musings about traveling.

My approach to traveling is somewhat like my approach to life; it is not arriving at your destination that is important but what happened along the way. I call it Pookieism.

For example, assume that I depart from San Francisco intending to travel to, say Rome to visit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. If that is what I efficiently did and returned home equally efficiently, I for one would be unsatisfied indeed.

If on the other hand I were to depart on that same voyage and along the way be diverted by circumstances outside of my control or through my stupidity and thereby facing perhaps danger, or passion, beauty or tedium and return home without ever getting to see Michelangelo’s frescos (the chapel would probably be closed anyway, for repairs or for some obscure holiday), I would consider my trip a success.

I guess, one could consider Pookieism something like Buddhism, but from somewhat the opposite viewpoint. Where Buddhism urges one to withdraw from the unreality of perception, Pookieism suggests you revel in it.

When I look back into my life, anytime I single-mindedly pursued a goal and overcame many obstacles to achieve it, I almost always came away dissatisfied, became depressed and soon decided to spend my time doing something else. On the other hand whenever I was diverted from my path, or failed in achieving my goal or found myself hopelessly lost, I often was overjoyed. Why, because there was so much experience, so much pathos and so much joy. And, oh the stories…

Yes, of course there were things that to this day I wish never happened and if I could I would want not to have occurred, but they did and the exquisite if odious memories of the experience accompanies me like tattoos on the skins of generation Xers.

For those males of a certain age, some of you may recall that time when you were a kid and in your imagination played the announcer of your life. “The great slugger stands at the plate. Here comes the pitch. He swings. He misses….” Or, “Here is the world-famous runner running through the woods. Will he break the record? Oh no! He trips. He falls. Will he be able to get up, finish the race and break the record? Stay tuned.”

Well, I still do that. “Here is the aging hero walking along the side of the road recalling past loves, triumphs and failures. Out of the corner of his eye he spies a small yellow flower, stops and contemplates its beauty for a moment and then walks on, crosses the street, the freshly painted striping glowing so whitely in the sun it hurts his eyes. Suddenly he remembers he forgot to buy that bottle of milk. Should he return to the store or proceed on toward home? He stands there at the edge of the road, like the brave Ulysses on the beach contemplating whether to return home to the aging but loyal Penelope or spend another night in the arms of the beautiful Calypso?”

Speaking of Ulysses, Homer’s account is not quite how it happened.

One night the short, bandy-legged, scraggly bearded young man named Ulysses, who lived in a subdivision on a small island in the Adriatic, left the home on a cull-de-sac he shared with his wife, young son, various hangers-on, and a pack of dogs, telling everyone he was going to the store to buy a carton of milk, or an amphora of wine or new sandals or whatever. Now twenty years later he stood on the corner of the block down from his old home, broke, hungry and older. He contemplated the excuses he would tell his wife for his long absence. He concocted stories about ships and strange wars, jealous gods, wooden horses, one-eyed monsters and to cover up the long periods of time he spent living with a succession of comely young women, he fell back on the tried and true excuse of philandering husbands of the time, bewitchment.

On the other hand, the also aging but still zaftig and supposedly loyal Penelope wanted no part of the smelly midget bastard’s return. She had happily spent the past 20 years screwing the Theban pool boy and every young stud in town. The assholes return would only mean she would have to give up the good life and return to working on that goddamn loom. Besides, she needed an excuse of her own to explain why for the last 20 years the same old piece of cloth hung on that machine with no further work done on it since he left. She told all her boyfriends that she would choose one of them to settle down with when she finished weaving the cloth. They were so stupefied with the thought of getting into her toga whenever she lifted its hem for them they forgot all about the status of that rotting rag.

She believed however that she would need something better to convince the crafty asshole of her unbelievable 20 years of fidelity. She decided to elaborate on the story and planned to tell her returning husband, if unfortunately he should ever return, that she weaved at the loom all day and every night she tore out what she had done during the day. If the simple and unbelievable story had worked on her lovers why wouldn’t this expanded version work on that scheming lying bastard Ulysses?

Nevertheless, she still was surprised when the testosterone poisoned dwarf suddenly and unexpectedly showed up at her door and started killing all of her boyfriends and the Theban pool boy as well.

Sadly, Penelope was forced back to working all day at the goddamn loom and at night diddling herself while the drunken scumbag lay snoring among his dogs after buggering some prepubescent boy-chick.

As Holden Caulfield would say, “Crummy.”

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 29:

“So,” I said to the smiling Vietnamese killing machine sitting next to me. “Did you have a good time last night.” Although I was determined not to show any jealousy, I failed by asking the question.

He looked at me, his ever-present smile dimmed slightly. “Mavis insisted we stop at Rabat for a drink.”

Rabat is one of those 20 somethings hangouts that over the past few years have sprung up south of the City’s Market Street in the old warehouse district first abandoned by the industries that they were built to house and then by the dot-com inundation that collapsed as suddenly as it began. Now it is a place filled with hook-up bars on the verge of decline as the newest generation begins to realize they can achieve the same results with their smart phones for less money.

“After one or two drinks she said she did not want you getting hurt. I asked why she thought that you might be harmed. She said she had spoken with Mark Holland that morning and he seemed angry, maybe drunk or stoned and was making threats. She would not say anything more. I tried to get her to talk to Martin but she refused. I offered to take her home but she wanted to be alone. So I left.”

There was no reason to ask him if he then spoke to Martin and told him about his conversation, so I took out my phone and called Mavis.

She answered on the second ring with a flat, hello.

“It’s me Dragon. You OK?

“Yeah. What do you want?”

“I have to see you right away.”

“I’m busy right now.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Make time.”

I hung up and turned toward Vu.He had tensed up and was staring at the street. The limo had passed again and stopped halfway down the block. One of the Tons of Fun got out of the passenger side and started walking toward us. The Limo took off again down Columbus toward downtown.

As he approached he lifted his hands up in a gesture of peace and said “relax, I’ve just come to talk.” He pulled out a chair and sat down his bulk overwhelming it.

“OK Brett whats up?”

He looked at Joe for a moment and said, “I just thought I’d drop by and find out how you’re doing on my little assignment.”

Anna came by. He ordered an espresso and a Tirimisu. I said to Anna. “Make sure you get paid when you bring the stuff. I’ve had too many people leaving me with the check recently.” He chuckled.

“I had gotten the impression I was fired.”

“Nah, just a failure to communicate. So have you found out anything about Holland yet?”

“No, I think he’s long gone from here.”

The coffee and Tirimisu arrived. He downed the coffee in a single gulp and the Tirimisu in about three forkfuls. Pushed back from the table.

“I’m pretty sure he’s around here somewhere.”

“How do you know?”

“A hunch.”

“I sure would like to know who ever it is that is whispering your hunches into your ears.”

He laughed and strode off. By the time he disappeared around the corner, I realized he had not paid for his snack.

I looked at Joe he was still tensely staring after the Fat Man. “Relax,” I said. “What did you expect a gun battle right here in Downtown San Francisco?”

He stared at the traffic passing on the street in front of us and said. “Guns are useful only at a distance and to scare the inexperienced. If you use a gun and don’t hit your target you are either crazy, stupid or incompetent. If it happens with a lot of people around probably someone not involved will be hurt. I assume if someone wants to kill me he will do it by surprise or from someplace hidden. If I am lucky and he misses, I need to find someplace to hide. The first bullet in my gun is a blank set up to be very loud and produce a lot of smoke. I hope it will cause my attacker to duck or close his eyes momentarily giving me time to get away. I also will not kill an innocent bystander in my panic to return fire. You Americans think guns protect you. They do not. Your brain protects you. Guns are a very limited tool, more dangerous to you than to anyone else.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019aff58a4e0970c

B. Chronicles of the Parasites:

According to Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein in their article, The Growth of Modern Finance:

“The U.S. financial services industry grew from 4.9% of GDP in 1980 to 7.9% of GDP in 2007. A sizable portion of the growth can be explained by rising asset management fees…. Another important factor was growth in fees associated with an expansion in household credit, particularly fees associated with residential mortgages. This expansion was itself fueled by the development of non-bank credit intermediation (or “shadow banking”). We offer a preliminary assessment of whether the growth of active asset management, household credit, and shadow banking–the main areas of growth in the financial sector–has been socially beneficial….”

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 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.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It used to be that crazy people were more-or-less evenly divided between the (northern) Republican Party and the (southern) Democratic Party. Now they are concentrated in the Republican Party. This matters–and is a source of great terror and dismay for the non-crazy Republicans, and for us all.”
Brad DeLong

 

TODAY’S CHART:
6a00e551f080038834019aff576401970c

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130924_064710_707_2
Rosy Fingered Dawn in El Dorado Hills

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Ann Vita and Richard McCarthy.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Today after leaving the car at the automotive shop for some maintenance, Dick dropped me off at Capitol Park in Sacramento to while away the hours until it was time to pick the car up. I always liked Capitol Park. The park features a huge variety of trees with their massive trunks and twisted roots as well as plenty of benches for the old, the homeless and now and then a state bureaucrat or two to sit and contemplate the meaning of sitting in parks.
IMG_20130916_111627_025
Fra Serra among the trees.

Many years ago, when I used to work in Sacramento, I recall scurrying through the park from my apartment or office to the Capitol building for meetings with various legislators, governors, staff, consultants, lobbyists and other detritus that haunted those not so hallowed halls. I remembered a sense of pleasure in my surroundings as I rushed through the Park, but I almost never stopped to wonder why I was rushing.

The Park has sprouted a number of monuments, as parks often do, that I did not recall existed when I previously spent time there. Most of them have to do with war. It is a strange mix of wars that whoever made the choice thought was worth remembering. There was an overgrown grove of bushes dedicated to the Civil War, but nothing commemorating the American Revolution. There was no monument to WWI. A simple plinth commemorated WWII. I could find no Spanish-American War or Korean War monuments. By far the most elaborate memorial however was dedicated to the Vietnam War. I sat on a bench nearby and tried to understand why it was that, with all the successful feats of martial arms engaged in by this country, we should spend so much time and effort memorializing a war we so clearly lost. Americans died in all the wars. Perhaps it is the poignancy of them having died for so little reason that makes us feel sadder about them than those lost in other more successful efforts at organized mayhem.

I then looked around to see if I could find any monuments dedicated to peace. I found statue devoted to Junipero Serra, but none to native Americans. There was a wonderful series of sculptures in memory of the State’s firefighters who had died, but none it appeared in remembrance of Cops who also lost their lives in the line of duty. Why was that?
IMG_20130916_104823_829
California firefighters with hoses rampant.

Finally I discovered a somewhat forlorn rose garden dedicated to peace tucked away in a far corner of the park. Overgrown and reedy as rose bushes tend to get when not maintained (I do not understand the connection between roses and peace). Plaques containing poems to peace written by schoolchildren were hidden close to the ground among the thorns.

A small mall-like extension between some state office buildings had been added to the Park containing a number of tripods upon which sat small glass plaques with writing so tiny they were almost impossible to read. A sign at the entrance to the mall explained that the tripods were situated so as to represent the location of the stars on the night California was admitted into the Union. At one end of the mall was a chute like ramp that itself ended with a brass ball on a column that was supposed to be an exact replica of the brass ball on the top of the Capitol dome that could be seen in the distance. The whole thing made no sense to me.
IMG_20130916_114201_007
It still seems like a waste to me.

In the morning after Dick dropped me off, I had a cup of coffee in a coffee-house across L Street from Capitol Park. The barista was a large austere blond woman with tattoos that could be seen snaking all over the exposed portions of her skin other than on her face. She reminded me of Mavis the tattooed lady in my mystery novel serial that is included with T&T, except that where Mavis is short and thin this woman was quite large. Also while Mavis’ tattoos expressed a consistent theme, the jungle in all its fecund mystery, this woman’s body decorations seemed to revel in disconnected bouts of aesthetic rapture.

After my tour of the Park and lunch at a Moroccan restaurant with Stevie and Norbert (I enjoyed the food and welcomed the company), I returned to the coffee shop hoping to catch a glimpse of the blond woman again. She was still there standing behind the counter. I sat at a table with my coffee and surreptitiously glanced at her and once found her looking back at me. I wanted to speak with her, ask her about her tattoos, about what it is like to work in the coffee-house, her hopes and her dreams, whether she ever contemplated sex with a seventy year old man. You know same old same old. I began to feel like an incipient stalker so I left and waited for Dick outside.

That night I dreamt about her. Not some sweaty image of impossible passion, but simply a picture of her standing behind the counter with me at the table, my coffee in front of me, staring out of the window, like an Edward Hopper painting, a frozen moment of existential loneliness.

***************************************************
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Politics at its most…whatever: Given the things the opposition has called Obama, I find the following report from Thailand to be less than shocking. It appears to be just another example of boys will be boys.

“Thai PM was called a “stupid bitch” by the leader of the opposition.”

“This was not the first time Ms. Yingluck was called อีโง่ (pronounced ‘ee-ngo’, equivalent to the English vulgarity of “stupid bitch” or “dumb bitch”). This specific epithet has been used among her haters so much so that googling the word will return mostly her pictures and caricatures of her image.”

The “stupid bitch” remark is the latest in a long line of vulgar insults Ms. Yingluck has been subjected to. Among the early high-profile insults, two years ago she was compared to a prostitute by a businessman (who described all women from Northern Thailand as “uneducated,” “lazy,” “intellectually retarded,” and “fit only for” working as prostitutes, not as prime minister). In May this year she was called an “evil woman, worse than a whore” by a well-known cartoonist. In the same month, the Office of Prime Minister website was hacked and the hackers turned the official page to show Ms. Yingluck’s picture with a caption “I’m a slutty moron.”
Kaewmala

(I refrain from comment, but see Testosterone Chronicles below.)

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

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

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter: 28

The limo continued on up Columbus toward the Bay. Joe and Chang sat down again and began an animated conversation and laughing. Vihn had not moved. His mouth curved up a bit more. “Did you hear what I said,” he asked?

I pulled my chair back up to the table, waited a moment for my heart to slow down and replied in a somewhat higher voice than I wanted, “Did you see that?” What the fuck’s wrong with you?” “Your boys were about to start shooting, in broad daylight, in a busy street.”

“They were only doing their job. I trust them. Now please answer my question.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I heard you. So what. So everyone you know was trying to scam you. What the fuck did you expect? You’re not exactly in the fiduciary business yourself you know. Your furniture is gone, whatever was hidden was gone. Deal with it.”

“You are the only one who I know that was not involved.”

“Well good for me. If I had the chance I would have probably joined in the cluster fuck too.”

“This has become personal for me.”

“Martin, I doubt if anything is personal for you. What do you want from me?”

Anna arrived with his coffee. Martin leaned back a bit, picked up two cubes of sugar, dropped them into his cup and stirred them around. He then put down his spoon, looked back at me and said, “I want you to find Mark Holland. I need to speak with him.”

“Look, he’s long gone by now. If not, he’s too dumb to breathe, in which case he’s probably dead.”

“I have reason to believe he is hiding near-by and is definitely not dead.” With that he got up and added, “I’ve already told Robert Wu to deposit your usual fee. You’re making a pretty good living off of me. If you find Holland it will be worth it for both of us.”

Suddenly his car turned the corner and pulled into the bus stop. Obviously there was a signal passed between Vihn and Chang or Vu that I did not notice. I was impressed as he intended.

“Wait,” I said as he turned and began to slide into the back seat. “What information about Holland’s whereabouts do you have?”

“Joe will tell you,” he said as he began to close the door.

“I’ve heard that before,” I mumbled.

He hesitated for a moment, looked at me, nodded and closed the door. Chang got into the front passenger seat and they drove off. He never even sipped his coffee. Nor did the son of a bitch pay for it.

Joe Vu slipped into the seat vacated by Vihn. Instead of Vihn’s slightly turned up corners to his mouth, Vu sported the big arrogant smile he usually does. “How ya do’in boss?”

“Before I answer that,” I said. “Are you going to pay for Vihn’s coffee?

He looked at the cup, downed the coffee, made a face and said, “Too much sugar.”

 
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

One day while we sat at our usual table in the restaurant in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, the good/bad David mused that although he almost never votes in an American election he believed that at least right now neither Party seems capable of producing anyone who was either better or could defeat Hillary in the 2016 Presidential Election. He quickly added that he, personally did not like Hillary. He then asked if I would write something about a potential third-party candidacy bid by Hillary so that those so inclined could vote for her without having to specifically vote Democratic.

I pointed out that the there is a constitutional requirement prevents voters in a Presidential election voting directly for a candidate. They vote instead for a slate of electors each State pledged to one particular candidate or another. It is extremely difficult and expensive for a candidate to qualify for third party status in all 50 states. Also, I suspect that any candidate that could secure one of the major Party’s nomination would hesitate forgoing access to the fund-raising and election workers the Party contributes to its candidate in an election. So the only option available to a candidate like Hillary would be the possibility of running both as Democratic and as an Independent. Alas, I am unsure, but sincerely doubt, that even were the electors to be the same for both the Democratic Party and the Third Party, the votes on either line would be treated as anything other than separate. What this means is that, given the fact that the votes for the Democratic electors, the Republican electors and the Third party electors would be awarded to the specific Party and not consolidated, being on two tickets would split the vote between them. Thus in the case of Hillary actually reduce her votes vis-a-vis the Republican candidate.

But let’s assume I am wrong about this and the votes can be consolidated, would this be a good idea for Hillary? That would depend if polling indicated that the money and effort spent on qualifying and promoting the Third Party would somehow produce a better national result. For example would it pull more votes away from the Republican candidate to be worth it. On the other hand would the voter disenchanted with the Republican candidate or Party be more likely to vote independent than Republican or just stay home. Both outcomes would benefit Hillary, but one would be much less costly. That is simple hard-nosed electoral politics.

There is however in America today a need for a modicum of consensus on the Country’s leadership without requiring the destruction or abandonment of ideology or social relationships and a Hillary Clinton third-party candidacy could have that effect.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, women outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviors. Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines the dark side of personality: for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women.”
Harvard Business Review.

(Additional evidence of my belief that after 10,000 years of male dominance it is time for men to step aside and let women clean up the mess they have made.)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Bradshaw was so dumb he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘t’.”
Hollywood Henderson’s famous observation about ex-Pittsburg Steelers Quarterback and well-known sports commentator Terry Bradshaw’s legendary intelligence.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Granddaughter standing in front of her mural along with her mom.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Pops 26 0002

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

–Rick Santorum, Salon, October 2006

(Shit, who knew?)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:

Very little has gone on here in Paradise in the Foothills since I arrived. I spent a few pleasant dinners with Stevie and Norbert on Dick’s deck during which we discussed the pro-ported ancient Chinese arrival in California described in the new book, “1421.” It seems N&S had clients who owned the supposed landing sits upon which some of the books arguments are based. We also looked at some maps Norbert had prepared that showed parts of the California coastline as it looked about 15,000 years ago, at about the time the first native American’s showed up. Dick and I believe the main migration route of these early immigrants was along the shoreline exposed by the ocean’s retreat due to glaciation. The maps showed long stretches of plains and small hills now buried beneath the waves that made up most of the coast at that time. The string of coastal islands now stretching for hundreds of miles off the coast were, at that time one single massive island that approached the mainland as close as four miles or less. 13-15 thousand-year old sites of human habitation have been found on the islands.

I continue my nanny duties with triple H. He seems much more reticent and stand-offish with me then I remember him being just a few months ago.

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

The days go by with precious little to do; take HHH to and from school; play on my computer; worry about more than I should about what I can do little about. Excitement has consisted of backing the car into the wall around Dick’s house and a slight and hopefully profitable assignment regarding a trust that required an uncountable number of frustrating telephone calls with legions of bureaucrats at a bank.

Before one becomes aged, he or she can always try again when they fail (if they want to). You know, fall in love again, do another deal and so on. As one passes into the shadow of old age, trying again is not something that is often easy to do. In fact, the best thing I think I can do beside exercise and eat well is try to persuade myself that I am happy and attempt to find something interesting to do that is not too physically taxing. Writing T&T is one thing but I fear that I am beginning to lose my enthusiasm for entertaining myself this way. Some evenings I join Dick in drinking too much. It is enjoyable but its aftereffects are too debilitating and take a few days to disappear.

*********************************
A bit of excitement this past week, at least for lonely old men and the socially inept who spend a good part of their lives in darkened rooms or coffee houses spewing their obsessions into blogs and various social media. For the past few weeks, I have been clearing the detritus from my computer by re-posting much of it into various blogs. One of them is one of the nation’s major progressive blogs (or as my more right-wing friends refer to it, “communist” blog. Alas, if those who post there are todays version of communists, the left has fallen far indeed).

I like to post there because every once in a while I will write something mildly critical of the self-importance exhibited by many of those who declare themselves progressives, driving them to the verge of apoplexy. I say self-importance because it is very difficult to discern anything there rising to the level of a cohesive ideology. I often accuse the right-wing of suffering from irony deficiency (and of course stupidity but it is not wholly their fault that they have been persuaded that stupidity is a form of godliness.) Alas the left suffers from massive and dour fear their foibles would be seen as humorous. I often get the feeling that they believe the world would end or they fly apart should their self-importance not be treated with the seriousness that they believe it should be. While the right remains oblivious to how ridiculous they are, the left lives in mortal fear that they may be also.

Recently I wrote both a post and a comment in which I chided the left for often engaging in wishful thinking. For example, believing the tide of politics is running in their direction or that those elected officials certified as progressive will lead them into the promised land of a millennium of socialistic bliss. As for the latter point, elected politicians are at best your representatives not your leaders. They only lead if your terrorize them into it.

I wrote in my typically over-wrought style:

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

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.”

One would have thought that with his bit of rhetoric I had plunged a knife into their collective belly. I could sense as I wrote it a moan of fury rising from those dark rooms with their smell of stale pizza and spilled beer — at least from the dozen or so people in those rooms that would actually read my post.

It was what passes for fun in my life now…

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: [impatiently] Now, let’s *talk* about the black bird.
Kasper Gutman: Let’s. Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can be got for that black bird?
Sam Spade: No.
Kasper Gutman: Well, sir, if I told you… If I told you *half*… you’d call me a liar.
Sam Spade: No, not even if I thought so.

Chapter 27:

I was back at my usual table on the sidewalk in front of Pino’s place in North Beach. I had spent the morning happily reviewing the temporarily renewed health of my bank account. I had called Vihn’s accountant earlier to make sure everything I had earned had been deposited. I was now about to dip my fork into my favorite dish, gnocchi. The food a Pino’s like most of the restaurants in the City is mediocre at best. I like eating here because I can sit on the sidewalk and watch that slice of my world that is North Beach sidled by. Anyway, you really have to work at it to screw up italian food. Alas, a lot of cooks I know work exceedingly hard to do just that.

Pino was at his usual post, leaning against the parking meter across the sidewalk from the entrance to his place. He broke from his annoying importuning of passers-by and inept attempts of flirting with any remotely attractive woman in the area within shouting range, to turn and briefly smile at me. I raised my glass of Barbera and saluted him. The only reason he was smiling and not greeting me with his usual scowl was that, with my new-found wealth, I was able to pay off my tab that morning.

“Fuck you fat face,” I thought and amused at my alliteration turned back to my bowl of gnocchi in marinara sauce. I had just popped a chewy morsel into my mouth when my phone vibrated. The screen showed it was Vihn. Still chewing happily I flipped it on.

“We need to talk,” Martin Vihn said without waiting for me to say hello.

“So talk,” I said.

“No, I would rather meet with you, face to face.”

“Why? I completed my assignments and now my office is closed for the rest of the month while I spend my hard-earned profits on a vacation somewhere.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. I could never tell with Vihn, if these long silences meant he was amused, furious or just slow. I guess, that is what frightened me most about him. I could not understand what was going on with him. Like most people I suppose I am scared shitless by what I do not understand or what I am unmotivated to find out about.

Anyway, in the eternal battle between discretion and curiosity, with me at least, curiosity always wins. So, I told him I would wait there at Pino’s for him. I finished the Gnocchi. Anna the waitress came by to clear the table and take my order for espresso with a lemon peel, no sugar. I like my coffee like my soul, bitter and black.

Anna is from the Ukraine but she is a bit darker many of the descendants of the Nordic Rus conquerors of the Slaves so she looks somewhat Italian. She attends City College and works here at Pino’s part-time. She claims she speaks italian fluently. I suspect Pino is running an immigration scam perhaps with a little white slavery of the side. But hey, she’s white, young and beautiful so who cares if her immigration status is a bit hinkey. There are a few more Eastern-European women like Anna who work the tables at Pino’s. I sometime try to hit on them. I get a lot of promises but no commitments.

I was halfway through my coffee when I spotted Joe Vu saunter around the corner. As though it was choreographed, Martin Vihn’s big silver Lexus rounded the same corner at the same time and stopped in the bus stop in front of me. He got out of the back seat. Chang exited the front. The Lexus then sped off. Chang joined Vu. They sat at an empty table next to the one adjacent to mine in which a middle-aged tourist couple picked at their Veal Parmigiano’s and stared at the North Beach traffic. I though back to what my father told me while running one of the several Italian restaurants he had opened to great reviews that promptly failed. “Never order Veal Parmigiano at a restaurant,” he said. “The cheese and the sauce ate there just to hide the cheap meat.”

Joe and Chang were dressed in their usual outfits. Black shades covered their eyes. Joe nodded at me slightly before he sat down.

Martin sat at my table, his back toward the street and stared silently as he always does before starting a conversation with me. He probably thought it made me uncomfortable and anxious. He was right.

Anna arrived to take his order. He turned toward her and ordered an espresso with sugar. I thought that may have been a good sign. Anna moved over to Joe’s table. There was some flirty banter and Anna returned inside the restaurant to put in the orders. Vihn still had not spoken. He had, however, resumed his stare.

I was trying to come up with an amusing comment on his attitude when he leaned toward me across the table. “Almost everyone but you and me, even my accountant, met with the furniture manufacturer in Chiang Rai.”

Before I could respond, I noticed both Joe and Chang spring up out of their chairs and reach behind their backs. I slammed back my chair preparing to run, wondering why they would choose to shoot me down in broad daylight. I pictured myself falling dead right in front of Pino with two bullets in my back. My murder would probably make his place famous. I hated the thought that my death could be the cause of that wimpy weasels success.

Suddenly I realized they were not looking at me but at the limousine slowly passing by on Columbus Avenue. I could see Bulbous Bart driving. His obese brother sat in the front seat alongside him. The back windows were darkly tinted but I still could make out what appeared to be someone in the back seat pressing close to the window facing us. This did not make me feel any better.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“In 1870 the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would have bought him (not her: women were paid less) about 5,000 calories worth of bread–5,000 wheat calories, about 2½ times what you need to live (if you are willing to have your teeth fall out and your nutritionist glower at you). In 1800 the daily wages would have bought him about 3,500 calories, and in 1600 2,500 calories. Karl Marx in 1850 was dumbfounded at the pace of the economic transition he saw around him. That was the transition that carried wages from 3500 calories per day-equivalent in 1800 to 5000 in 1870. Continue that for another two seventy-year periods, and we would today be at 10,000 calories per unskilled worker in the North Atlantic today per day.

Today the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would buy him or her 2,400,000 wheat calories.

Not 10,000. 2,400,000.”
Brad DeLong

(What this means is that after about 3000 to 4000 calories most of the rest of the 2.4 million excess calories go mostly to things we do not need to live. Or, as one commenter to my blogs wrote, “Its simple: it’s the shit you don’t need for the life you don’t want.” [by The Chop].)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
526520_10151632377386275_475064735_n
(While I agree with what Jason [whoever he is] says, I wonder if that is a picture of him and if so why is it included and if not, I wonder if this is actually an Abercrombie commercial about who else they refuse to sell to [nerds with thick glasses] or the kind of ties they decline to stock.)

B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

The good/bad David urged me to speculate on the potential of Hillary Clinton running as a third-party candidate for president in the 2016 presidential election so that people like him might find it possible to vote for her. Alas, David I have put this off another week. I promise, however, to try to get it into the next issue.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A man is what he has passion about,”
Sanderson, Brandon (2008-10-14). The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn.

“the real world is driven by two types of people. Those who want power and those who want money. The first want a statue, the second enjoyment. And the currency they use when negotiating with each other to get what they want is called corruption.”
Nesbo, Jo (2012-10-02). Phantom

 

TODAY’S CHART:
original-1

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20130831_191401_049
Sunset in the Foothills

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pops 0002

Dum spiro, spero

“Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it”
Anon

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Despite my fatigue with Thailand and my eagerness to leave, as my departure date inched closer I grew sadder. I have grown fond of the Old Man’s Caucus at the Health Club, the ministrations of my new masseuse, watching Thai soaps and applying my interpretation to the bizarre events that appear on the screen (and the stunningly bad acting), the few days every few months I spend conversing with David, the incomprehensible discussions with LM and more. Eventually, the time arrived and I sadly watched LM disappear from view as I passed through airport customs.

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

I remained for two days at my sister’s house in Berkeley. We spent most of that brief visit reminiscing about family. This time we focused on our Sicilian relatives with brief side-trips to memories and stories about those who came to the US from Sabina. My sister and brother-in-law and their two children Brendan and Katie spent most of Saturday conducting a garage sale in preparation for selling the Berkeley house in the next few months and relocating to their home in Mendocino. Some of the stuff I recognized from our homes back in NY over forty years ago including a slightly menacing ceramic clown that for some reason our father was obsessed with.IMG_20130824_133226_974

Even Bingo the dog was up for sale.

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

Ruth sent some emails regarding travels we had done together that I only dimly remembered. One was a trip to tour Area 51 of UFO fame. Dick had been invited on one of the earliest tours of the site allowing civilians. He asked me to join him and I in turn invited Ruth suggesting that after the tour we spend some time together in Las Vegas. Since she was traveling from LA and I from SF, I proposed we meet at the site. For some reason I did not show up. Ruth mentioned that she expressed her dismay at my behavior to another person on the tour who apparently knew me. According to Ruth he urged her not to take it personally and added that I, “did that sort of thing to people all the time.”

I eventually did show up in Vegas for the rest of the weekend.

It saddened me that those wonderful trips we took together, to Italy, the Columbia River Valley, the LA end of the Millennium Party had begun to drift so far from memory.
00002030
Ruth and I uncomfortable at a 60s revival costume party in the 90s somewhere in Culver City.

I always believed that life was lived for the variety of its experiences, the good and the bad, success and the failures. Alas, I now recognize that it all inevitably disappears from memory and except for the Butterfly Effect, it may just as well never have happened.

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

I am now in El Dorado Hills, recovered from jet lag and wondering how to fill my time. Yesterday I sat on the deck and marveled about the deep blue skies here that I love so much, until the 95 degree heat drove me inside again.
IMG_20130826_182839_516
Dick prepares a snack for us on the deck

HHH has just begun to enter that phase of childhood where young boys transition from an excited interest in everything to long periods of staring at nothing in particular. I visited with Norbert and Stevie on the way here.

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

As HHH and I virtually were entering the car to begin out trip to Mendocino for the Labor Day weekend when we received a call from she who at her insistence must not be mentioned deciding against his going on the trip. Alas I was so furious I took it out on HHH. I felt like a schmuck. I cancelled my trip so that Dick would not be unnecessarily burdened. He was great. He planned enough activities for the holidays to bring me out of my funk. Triple H and I went fishing in the lake by the library, spent two enjoyable days swimming at the community pool, attended the local high school football game (The home team was leading 35-0 by half time when we left), spent a morning at the huge flea market in Roseville, had a pleasant dinner with Stevie and Norbert and went to watch Triple H drive in a go-cart race.
IMG_20130901_095845_206
Fishing…

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

 

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Your story didn’t sound quite right.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, that’s too bad. You got a better one?
Eddie Mars: Maybe I can find one.
Chapter 26

I called out to Vihn when I was a few feet away. He turned and with that slight smile he affected, stared at me.

“I found something you need to see,” I said.

“I’ll join you after I see Ms. Reilly.”

“No, this is something you need to see right now.”

He hesitated a moment, shrugged and followed me across the yard.

When we got to the door of the cottage, I said, “Chang should stay here and make sure we are not disturbed.”

Vihn nodded to Chang and followed me into the house.

“Don’t touch anything,” I warned. “No sense in making it easier for anyone.”

We walked directly to the office in the back and stood by the door.

“I’ve found your furniture. At least some of it.”

We entered the room. Vihn crouched down and examined the pieces of furniture. I pointed to the waste basket. He looked in and nodded slightly.

“You’ve now involved me in a crime. Tell me again how this was just some household furnishings import deal.”

He look-up at me, said, “I should have known, but I didn’t”

“Did you kill him?”

“No. What makes you think it was murder.”

“Nothing, but there are only two condoms probably used to transport drugs and an awful lot more places to hide them. I’d ask whoever built the furniture and was involved in the shipment in Thailand what they know about it.” I hesitated a moment, “Why do you suppose he opened just the two condoms if there were more hidden?” Then I added, “I assume you don’t intend to tell the police about this?” He did not answer.

Said, “Well you know where to find me.” and with that I turned and left, collected Mavis from her gaggle of friends and departed the Reilly compound.

Outside Joe was standing with another of Vihn’s minions, whose name I had forgotten, eyeing Fat Bart. I motioned to him that it was time to leave. As he turned, I noticed a slight bump in his back at his waist. “You went to get your gun? Were you contemplating the Shootout in Marin?”

He chuckled. “No only you white guys would think of standing face to face with someone and shooting off guns at each other to prove who had the biggest dick. That just results in a good chance of your own willy being shot off. Did you know that at the OK Corral the stupid fuckers were only about 20 feet apart when they started firing at each other and most of the bullets missed? No, the only purpose of a gun is that if someone starts shooting at you and misses you can make enough noise to make him hesitate long enough for you to run away and hide. Then if he is as bad a marksman as he has already proven himself to be and dumb enough to try to find your hiding place then, you bet, he’s soon dead from my gun.”

We then walked back to the car in silence. During the drive back I again sat in the back seat and stewed over wise-ass Joe’s rejoinder and decided that I would be happy to be rid of him now that the investigation is over. But I wasn’t and the investigation wasn’t over either. Where was Holland? He probably would know what actually happened to Reilly and the shipment. As we approached my loft building I tried to tell myself that I did not care about finding Holland. But I was not convincing. So I told Mavis that I had a headache and wanted to be alone tonight.

I stood on he sidewalk and watched them drive off fully expecting the two of them to be balling the night away somewhere and that I probably would not see either of them again. I got very very depressed. I was jealous also.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

February 14th, 1884: Theodore Roosevelt watched his mother die from typhoid fever then went upstairs in his home to watch his wife die from child-birth an hour later. This all happened on Valentine’s Day and was Theo’s 2 year anniversary of getting engaged to his wife. He was 25. In his diary that day, he wrote simply that “The light has gone out of my life.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/surprising-pieces-of-trivia-2013-8#ixzz2dH8SSojP

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Since 2001 we’ve seen total wages rise 40% while:
Total rents are up 60%
Health care is up 100%
College is up 120%
Energy costs are up 80%

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=lVR

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is. Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.”
David Frum, Republican Consultant.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

o-RELIGION-MAP-570

 
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130901_192801_872
It looks a lot like sunset in Tuscany…

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Pops 0002

 

Dum spiro, spero.

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
–Napoleon
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

One morning a few days ago on my way to breakfast I had just passed Nana Plaza which bills itself as The Worlds Largest Adult Playground when I stopped to buy a newspaper from the old Thai woman at the newsstand right by the entrance.
DSCN1883
Morning at Nana Plaza.

Suddenly I noticed a commotion a few feet away. On the sidewalk, two ladies of the very late evening or the very early morning were fighting with each other. A crowd of Thais had quickly gathered around watching. Some were taking pictures with their smart phones. At first I thought the combatants had torn each others clothing off. but on closer look I realized that the shrink wrapped uniform usually worn by the sidewalk purveyors of passion for a price had rolled up like an old window shade into a small band of fabric around their mid-sections. They looked a lot like Sumo wrestlers with their tiny belts separating vast rolls of ponderous swinging flesh.

No one moved to intervene, including me because, in my case, I have learned from hard experience not to intervene in disputes like this unless one party is helpless and at risk or blood is being spilled. In this case each combatant had the other’s hair wrapped in a death-grip and with their free hand landing looping ineffective blows to each other’s back while at the same time trying to kick each other’s shins with their bare fee. Their greatest physical danger would occur if they lost their balance, fell and cracked their heads on the cement.

Eventually, some of the orange shirted motorcycle messengers came over and separated them. Strangely, after separated the fighters they would immediately leave them alone again. This allowed the combatants to quickly resume battling each other. It occurred at least four times until suddenly the fight just ended with each gladiator strutting around while trying to unravel their dresses in order to cover up their exposed stocks in trade. Despite the fact that a police substation stood on the corner about twenty feet away, no police showed up.

The entertainment over the crowd dispersed and I continued on across Sukhumvit through Little Arabia and into FoodLand where I ate my breakfast and read the newspaper.

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

The good/bad David is back in town. We had lunch a his favorite restaurant on the 5th floor of Terminal 21. We were joined by a friend of David’s, a man named Theo. I liked him immediately for having a name like Theo. He is British and spends about half the year in Thailand. He works as an assistant director on large commercials and some movies. As such, he spent much of his career in Los Angeles where he lived not too far from Ruth. I learned from him that assistant directors are a trade somewhat separate from directors. He spent much of the lunch explaining how it was a normal career progression to go from assistant director to director under the old studio system. But with the coming of the financial industry to the making of motion pictures, directors began to be chosen for their bankability and not for their expertise or creativity. Bankers poison everything. Once again people controlling the money believed they know everything but usually behave like neophyte gamblers.

Theo like millions of others has written a movie script or two that he carries around hoping to find someone to produce it. His most interesting script is about LA in 1948 when the City’s great jazz scene blossomed with the black jazz musicians moving in after the war. A the main character (true story) wins a major motorcycle race and saves the company that produces the vehicles. Between races, he spends time in the Jazz clubs where he falls in love and eventually meets Claude Rains dressed as a french policeman. He then abandons the woman he loves at the coffee shop in Santa Barbara Airport. He and Claude walk off together into the Sonoran Desert and were never seen again.

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

I set off to Paradise by the Sea for a couple of days before returning to the US. The Good/ and sometime bad David and I took off for the beach early one morning. We were driven there by two women friends of David’s who were very much in love with each other. After arriving we checked into the hotel and set off to our respective rooms for naps. That evening the women departed for The Walking Street to troll the lesbian bars. David and I walked to one of my favorite restaurants in Thailand, Cafe Des Amis. Not only is the French food excellent but it is an oasis of western civility. The place is owned by a westerner with the unusual name Blue. His wife is Thai. Her name strangely enough does not rhyme with his. They have an 18 month old son who spends his evenings at the restaurant (easy enough to do since they live in a house at the back of the property). We had dinner with Theo, my British assistant movie director friend and a woman who lives with a mysterious but wealthy english gold and jewel dealer.
DSCN1966
David, LM on the right and the mysterious gold dealers lady friend standing in the street outside of Cafe Des Amis..

Theo and I spent most of the evening happily discussing the golden age of film directing. We commiserated together over the passing of that art form. We also spent some time reminiscing about the a-cappella do-whop singing groups (e,g, Dion and the Belmonts and others) of the 50’s through the early 70’s.

The next morning I woke up somewhat hung over so I stayed in bed until noon when I went for a brief beach walk and then joined the two even more hung over young women for our drive back to BKK. David stayed in Pattaya.

I leave tomorrow for SF and must finish packing and preparation. Although I looked forward to my trip, I have begun to feel sad about leaving.
DSCN1953
LM’s recent efforts to create clothing accessories of no use in Thailand that I will carry in my luggage for disposal in the US. I am her sales rep. So let me know if you want to buy one, or would rather receive it as a gift.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

As some of you may know most of the streets of Bangkok were originally canals that were covered over for use by automobiles. The canals remain, however, a few feet below the surface of the roadway. They are dark, foetid and teaming with rats, snakes and raw sewage. Now and then they get blocked up or something goes wrong with the services that run through them. Then they must be opened and cleaned out a bit. Recently that happened along Sukhumvit, the major street near my apartment. By lifting out the heavy blocks of cement imbedded every 25 feet or so in the sidewalk that afford access the canals the grey greed sludge sluggishly flowing underneath have been exposed. Armies of blue uniformed Burmese and Cambodian immigrants are marched in like chain gang convicts in the southern US. The workers then lower themselves into the water where they stand sometime up to their necks in the foul water in order to reach down and grasp handfuls of mud that they lift up and dump into wheelbarrows stationed on the sidewalks above.

No Thai today would conceive of stooping so low as to this sort of work. These Cambodian and Burmese workers (male and female alike) work as much as 10-12 hours a day. They are considered by most Thais as stupid, lazy, prone to criminality and in Thailand only to secure the generous welfare benefits available in the country.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter 26

Instead following them I made my way across the yard toward the garage. The garage was a separate structure at the far end of the property. It was probably built back when automobiles were a rarity so it looked more like a storage shed and had that same aura of disrepair the residents of the subdivision worked so hard to achieve. Behind the garage a large workshop had been built, probably at about the same time as the original garage. Clarence expanded it significantly. He explained to me one evening that he intended to convert it into a separate house so that his children would have a place of their own to stay in if they were slow to cut the strings that bound them to their parents when they grew up. In the interim he intended to use it as his home office and man cave.

I stood by the door to the building and checked around to see if anyone was looking my way. Satisfied that no one seemed to give a damn about me, I pulled out the end of my shirt and used it to protect against leaving fingerprints as I tried the door to see if it was locked. It was not and I opened it quickly and stepped inside and closed the door.

I stood in a huge room that Clarence had planned as a combined dining room, kitchen and living room. It was littered with construction materials. Parts of the paneling had been completed. In a few places the studs in the wall were still exposed. The kitchen had been mostly finished and awaited installation of the appliances. I contemplated for a moment whether I could avoid leaving foot prints in the dusty floor, decided I could not so I set off anyway across the room toward a doorway opposite that I knew led to a short hall and two bedrooms in the rear.

The door to the first bedroom had not yet been hung so I could see most of it from the hallway. The Insides of that room looked a lot like the room I had just left; bits of construction material, detritus and dust. The second bedroom’s door was in place and closed. I tried to open it but it was locked. I thought about it for a moment and decided my attempts to minimize evidence of my visit was not going to work if I wanted to know what was inside. So, I kicked hard at the area around the doorknob. The flimsy material with which the door was made split under the blow and opened revealing a workroom containing a workbench against the far wall above which a panel of holed fiberboard was fastened on which some tools had been hung. Scattered about were sections of disassembled furniture.

The furniture was made out of thick pieces of darkly stained wood common in South-East Asia. I entered the room and crouched down by what looked like the riser that connected a chair’s seat to its arms. It was round and about two inches in diameter. Into the top was drilled a hole that looked a little more than an inch wide and six deep. The best I could determine about four pieces of furniture had been disassembled. Two heavy dining room arm chairs, a table and a cushioned living room chair. The table legs were much thicker than the chair’s risers and as far as I could tell had similar but larger holes drilled into them. The cushions on the easy chair had been ripped open revealing the white latex stuffing.

I squatted there for several long moments trying to understand what I was seeing. It was not too difficult but I did not want to jump to too many conclusions. I stood up and looked in the waste basket by the workbench. Among the litter were two condoms.

My discoveries seemed to clear up a few things. At least it appeared to confirm my conviction that we were probably dealing with a dope deal gone bad. Still, while moving from a suspicion to a conviction may be considered progress, it was slight indeed. It raised a few other questions in my mind. Not the least of which was why so many hiding places and what was Clarence’s role – mastermind or dupe? And Martin, while I would not have been surprised if he were lying about not knowing what was going on, I still doubted he could be so stupid. For that matter could anyone be stupid enough to ship dope so easily discoverable. It smelled amateurish and Martin was no amateur. Clarence perhaps, but why so many hiding places for what appeared to be a lot of whatever it was? I still did not know what. I guessed it was dope. But it could have been popcorn for all I knew.

I stood there for a while feeling anxiety crawling over me. Not fear per se, but distress that I found myself even more in the middle of something I did not what to be in the middle of. My job had been to attempt to locate some missing people and merchandise. Despite my best efforts to avoid doing so, I seem to have succeeded to some extent. But now I appear to be entwined in the middle of several serious crimes. The burgeoning tendrils of panic crept through me like strangler vines in the jungle enfolding the trees that produced the wood for the furniture strewn about me..

I realized that standing there quaking was not going to enable me to come up with anything allowing me to deal with or hopefully ignore what I had found out so far. I decided it would be best if I left hoping it all either went away or circumstances would force some action or decision on my part that would extricate me from all this.

One of those possible circumstances awaited me outside. Martin had arrived with his sidekick, Chang, They were heading toward the main house. Instead of simply leaving the property and hoping that no one would realize what I had seen and that everything would go away, I felt an uncontrollable urge to stir things up a bit. So, I moved to intercept Martin before he got to the house.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1934: Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act was passed by the US Congress, effectively outlawing marijuana in the country. A few years later HENRY ANSLINGER Director of Federal Bureau of Narcotics at the time explained why he supported criminalizing the growing and use of Hemp.

“Most (users of marijuana) are Negroes, Hispanics. Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from smoking marijuana. This marijuana makes White women want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

(Damn, here I thought smoking dope only got you high, no one told me about the white women before.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

A system along exactly these lines [of ObamaCare] has been operating in Massachusetts since 2006, where it was introduced by a Republican governor. What was his name? Mitt Somethingorother? And no trains have been wrecked so far. The question is whether the Massachusetts success story can be replicated in other states… the answer, so far, is a clear “yes.” In California, insurers came in with bids running significantly below expectations; in New York, it appears that premiums will be cut roughly in half…. Over all, then, health reform will help millions of Americans who were previously either too sick or too poor to get the coverage they needed, and also offer a great deal of reassurance to millions more who currently have insurance but fear losing it….
And the prospect that such a plan might succeed is anathema to a party whose whole philosophy is built around doing just the opposite…. So will Republicans actually take us to the brink? If they do, it will be crucial to understand why they would do such a thing…. Republicans may be willing to risk economic and financial crisis solely in order to deny essential health care and financial security to millions of their fellow Americans. Let’s hear it for their noble cause!”
Paul Krugman: Republican Health Care Panic…

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be The Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen To Use Terror As A Weapon To Try To Shake The Conscience Of The Free World.”

George W Bush

I always thought W bore a striking resemblance to Chauncey Gardener.

“I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

Arnold understood governance about as well as he did domestic relations.

 

“Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
Bill Clinton

Bill as we all know had a few interns under him who I am sure listened to his every word.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
2013_08_Happiness_0
It looks like if you want to be happy move to some city in California or to Vermont or convert to Mormonism. Alas, you will be wretched if you find yourself in the old south or the industrial midwest, except for Kentucky where despite having Mitch McConnell as your Senator appears slightly happier than the rest of the South. Probably because of the hope afforded them by the availability of mass suicides every other Tuesday.

South Dakota is clearly an outlier and has become even more miserable than ever since they learned that North Dakota, the only state more unpleasant to live in than theirs, had all the oil shale and its citizens will now all get rich and move to Florida or California and be happy while they have to continue to suffer through the dismal winters in their hovels on the windswept plains. [This one is for you David. I knew that sooner or later I would find something smarmy to say about your home state.]

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
DSCN1972
Jewelry from Thailand for sale cheap.

Contact my granddaughter Athena.

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

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:
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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:
DSCN1661
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.
DSCN1811
Not a very pretty picture.

Sometimes, however, LM comes by and dances,
DSCN1788
or just sits and makes wool scarves that no one in Thailand will ever use.
DSCN1827

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:
DSCN1825

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.
DSCN1393

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.
DSCN1832 - Version 2

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.
DSCN1871

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

DSCN1746 - Version 2<DSCN1746 – Version 2.jpg>
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

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