This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pepe 0003. (October 21, 2014)

 
Destiny never gets there before you do. So, there’s no need to rush.”
Pookie...

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I was very pleased with the number of people who wished me a Happy Birthday on my 75th birthday. For some reason it was more important to me on this birthday than in the past when I preferred not to be reminded of the passage of time.

My daughter surprised me with a trip to DC either over the Christmas holidays or during the Cherry Blossom festival. I am inclined to choose Cherry Blossom time. I suspect Washington will be deep into the polar vortex in December.

Here in BKK I spent my birthday more or less like any other day; breakfast than swimming and so on. While swimming I felt anxious about returning to the apartment and getting back to all the things I had to do. I realized I have been experiencing this anxiety for couple of years now. It was much like I was still working and worried about getting back to the office. So I decided to break the habit and instead of rushing back and grabbing a quick lunch from the fridge, I treated myself to a long leisurely lunch and another pleasant meal at dinner. The next morning I woke up with severe food poisoning and spent much of the day at hospital wishing I were dead.

I was well by the following day and had an enjoyable lunch with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver swapping stories of Key West and the Caribbean. He was involved in the race to find the sunken treasure ship Atocha. His team lost to Mel Fisher. They did manage, however, to turn up some relics of far less value.

I get the impression that he longs to go back to the Caribbean, but feels he is trapped here in SE Asia for either lack of money or fear of arrest if he returns.
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When LM cleans up my apt., she refuses to kill any insects she finds crawling around the floor because she is Buddhist. Instead she sweeps those she finds out on to the balcony. Where they go from there is anyones guess.

I have ants that parade up and down (or down and up – one never knows with ants) the walls along corners or grout lines. She says I should not harm them because as long as I do not leave food around or crumbs in my bed, they will not bother me.

Now and then I lie on my bed and watch them scurry along the corner of the room in their eternal rush to work. Their industry annoys me. I have made a deal with them in my mind. As long as they stay in line, I will honor LM’s ethical concerns and they will remain unharmed but should even one step out he will feel my fury. After all I am the all-powerful dictator of my room – at least sometimes.
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Last night LM brought home fried grubs for me to eat as a treat. I refused. She said that at first she was hesitant to eat them but after  trying then she found them so good they became habit-forming. I still refused.
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Today after swimming the sky filled with black clouds turning the City as dark as night, The sky erupted drowning everything in a solid sheet of water. After about three hours of Sturm and Drang it ended leaving the sky bright with sun, the streets flooded and the temperatures as mind numbing as ever. For a few hours, however, the air seemed washed clean of the ever-present dirt and grime.

As I walked back to the apartment, I found that Soi Nana was flooded. This was the first time that I seen like that, although I am sure it had done so many times before. I hoped by walking on the higher portions of the sidewalks I could avoid wading through the gunk. No such luck.
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B. PHOTOS FROM THE HOOD:

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The migrant worker housing beside my apartment showing the large cisterns used for community bathing.

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A Hostel on my block made from old shipping crates.

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A bird in a bamboo cage just outside the door to my building, one of several cages. Maybe Yeates knows what kind of bird it is.

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The small restaurant across the street from the apartment where LM buys my Thai omelets.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Every once in a while I troll through back issues of T&T and come up with something in them that strikes my fancy. The following is from 2012:

War Movies

Yesterday I watched on television the movies Patton, Midway and Apocalypse Now. A television network was having a festival of war movies. While watching for about 8 hours, I began to notice something about the commercials that struck me as strange. Of the over 200 commercials presented during that time, only one was for an American produced manufactured item. All the rest were either ads for financial products, food products, stores that stocked mostly foreign manufactured goods, various entertainment efforts, a few communication companies and four ads for foreign produced automobiles.

War movies are mostly guy things. They are made for men and concerned with men doing men things. Killing each other in great numbers is a man thing. Crying in anguish over the death of a comrade killed by one of the survivors of those he and his comrade have just attempted to slaughter is another guy thing.

Women in war movies are rare. They appear only in an attempt to prove that in war movies the men are not, as most sensible people suspect, sleeping with each other.

At least one or two men in the war movies sleep with something that looks, even if it does not act, like a woman. These are generally portrayed as creatures whose minds are smaller than their vaginas. Although we are often exposed in the movies to the limits of their minds, we never actually see their vaginas. The men in the movies pretend their vaginas do not exist. One can surmise however that they must be robust for the men to be so interested in these insipid creatures during their inevitably brief appearances. It is either that or their shoes are too tight.

Apocalypse Now is the ultimate man’s movie. The plot is about a love affair between two men — a psychopathic, depressed, serial murderer and substance abuser who goes in search of another psychopathic, depressed serial killer (but alas not a substance abuser) and kills him; a war movie‘s version of orgasm.

Another notable feature of the movie is its emphasis on male speech patterns, or man-talk. Speech to a man is not an invitation to a dialog as it is with women but the declaration, in a simple laconic statement, of their world view at the moment as uncontested fact — even if no one else either agrees or has any idea what he is talking about.

For example, The Dennis Hopper character, a war photographer and to whom Captain Willard had just manly warned “You take my picture again I am going to kill you,”  asks Willard, who is tied up in a cage (SM alert), “Why would a nice guy like you want to kill a genius?”

Later he announces:

“The man is clear in his mind but his soul is mad.”

Robert Duvall portraying the surfing obsessed battlefield commander who loves waking up with the smell of napalm tickling his nostrils, after observing archly that “Charlie don’t surf,” comments:

“This war is run by four star clowns who are giving away the whole circus.”

Upon coming upon a platoon guarding a bridge at night during a particularly psychedelic fire-fight, Willard asks a one of the stoned platoon members, “Soldier who is in charge here?”  The soldier responds, “Ain’t you?”

“The horror. The horror.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

October 15: Feast Days and Holidays.
Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Hedwig of Silesia, Saint Thecla of Kitzingen. The Equirria or October equus, sacrifice of a horse to Mars. (Roman Empire). Global Hand-washing Day (International). Earliest day on which Sweetest Day can fall, while October 21 is the latest; celebrated on the third Saturday in October. (Great Lakes Region). White Cane Safety Day (United States).

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wants distribution of income to resemble the period from 1949 to 1979 rather than the period from 1980 to the present.
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B. Observations by Carroll Quigley:

“My experience and study of the destruction of civilizations and of the collapse of great empires has convinced me that empires and civilizations do not collapse because of deficiencies on the military or the political levels. The Roman army never met an army that was better than it was. But the Roman army could not be sustained when all these things had collapsed and no one cared. No one wanted to serve, no one wanted to pay taxes, no one cared.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”

(Are we repeating the Roman tragedy here in America, that we no longer care to pay taxes or serve because we are afraid it may benefit someone we do not like or fear?)

C. The Wit and Wisdom of Trenz Pruca:

On the Meaning of Words:

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah.”
http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

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

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

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Claude Monet

 

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 PaPa Joe 0003 (October 15, 2014)

“Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.”

(Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human)

“Those periods in history when government disappears in favor of private organizations are usually called, ‘Dark Ages.’”
Trenz Pruca

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. CONTEMPLATING MY 75TH BIRTHDAY:

Today is my 75th birthday, at least here in BKK. It will not be so in NY where I was born until sometime tonight.

I spent the morning during my walk to breakfast, at breakfast, while swimming and at lunch, running through my mind various self-justifying stories about what the day means to me. I was going to write them down here because I thought some of them were pretty good. But, I’ll save you that pleasure. What really interests me today is Samuel Beckett. You know André the Giant’s friend who was so obsessed with cricket, – that Sam Beckett. (See Factoids below)

Well, Sam wrote a lot of books and plays when he was not driving André around or watching cricket matches. One novel in particular always fascinated me. It was about someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along until he bumps into something. This was all that the novel was about, all three hundred or so pages of it. I do not remember the name of the book. You can look it up.

Now, I know Beckett intended his story to explore solipsism (you can look that up too), a philosophy or view of life that fascinated him. But he was a storyteller and as I have pointed out previously one can never trust a storyteller, they always lie. The lies aside, what always interested me was that he was also wrong.

You see, even someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something is still a blood sack with a bunch of electrons floating around between neurons that have gathered from the environment various electrical and other forces, formed them into an image and then tells the blood sack what it is he is experiencing. Now, the deaf, dumb and blind someone without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along has no idea whether what he is being told is the truth or not. He may, actually, be floating through the air above a beautiful verdant landscape for all he knows. Something may be amiss among the neurons or they may just be playing with him. In fact, if he believes he is deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something, something is probably very wrong with his neurological machinery. Even if, in fact, he is deaf dumb and blind and slithering face down through a puddle of mud he may either panic and despair or laugh at the absurdity of it all. And, if the latter, he could then utter Reilly’s famous observation, “what a revolting development this is.”

Which brings me back to my 75th birthday. If you know who Reilly is, than you are probably at least as old as I am, and you know, as I do, that our “Use by” date is rapidly approaching.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have spent most of my recent spare time (spare time for me is time not spent in eating, exercising, walking about, sleeping and staring off into the distance) editing Quigley’s book “Weapons Systems and Political Stability” and preparing “Red Dawn” for publication. On the Quigley book, I have edited 500 out of some 1300 pages. After I complete the edits, mostly typo’s, paragraphing and some revising where the text has been garbled, I will then re-review it, put in some additional headings, decide how to handle the missing ending and write my forward. On “Red Dawn” I need to go back over it for continuity and write-up the final chapters.

I just went back over “Red Dawn” and found all my edits and formatting somehow disappeared. I don’t know why. Ugh..five weeks work wasted.

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Today was one of BKK’s hot stifling days.

I walked by the migrant worker housing site next to my apartment. It houses migrants from Cambodia or Burma, I do not know which. The homes are made of corrugated metal. There are two floors of flats with a person or family sharing a room, There is electricity to the rooms but no water.
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In the morning and the evening the residents gather beside two large rectangular concrete cisterns filled by a garden hose from somewhere. Here they bath in that wonderful way that they do, soaping, washing and drying themselves all the while wrapped in large colorful cloths and never showing their nakedness. Most of them are in their late teens or twenties, the men all boyishly handsome and the women slender and darkly beautiful. There are a lot of smiles but very little laughter.

It always strikes me as a beautiful and poignant scene as I walk by. I would like to take a photograph, but the Thais tell me it would be impolite and I am too shy to ask permission.

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

We often hear the slogan “The War on Women,” bandied about by those, on one side or the other, seeking political advantage. In fact, this war on women has been going on for over at least 5000 years. What we have now in politics in the United States and going on in the Near and Middle East is not so much a “War On Women” but a “War About Women.” Like it or not, those that continue to oppose the march of women to equality and more are faced with resisting one of the great turning points of human history.

About 10,000 years or so ago the Neolithic agricultural revolution got under-weigh. This new culture was unusual because it was centered on women. Women tilled the crops while men engaged in perfunctory hunting and caring for the few domestic animals available. The economic system, social system and the intellectual system for production of crops and production of children (workers) were considered under women’s control. This culture as far as we know was relatively peaceful. Derived from Mesolithic gatherers, it lacked the tradition of masculine violence and the need for war. These societies lasted for about 6000 years.

Eventually new technologies (e.g., the plow and animal husbandry) reduced the economic and social dominance of women and more warlike masculine hunting cultures ultimately moved in. Finally by about 3000 B.C, they had reduced women to the status of more or less chattel. A status that has lasted almost until the dawn of this century.

During the 1950’s or so, due to their greater longevity, wealth (not income) fell into the hands of women such that by some measures women held a greater overall percentage of the nation’s wealth than men. This did not help women much because that wealth was usually managed by men. Only a very few women had been able secure income and social status independent of male largesse.

Since then, technology, ideology and society have changed so that women have been able challenge dominance of men and begin to amass their own power and wealth as well as develop their own ideology. For example: in the conduct of war, because of computerization of many weapons systems, women have become as good as men in the science of killing and often better. In Kobane for example, the co-commander of the Kurdish forces defending the town from the forces of ISIL is a woman. Should they succeed in defeating the besiegers they may change the face of Near and Middle East society forever.

Also, in schools women are excelling and graduating in ever larger majorities. Even in such occupations that revel in male aggressiveness like derivative fund management, studies have shown that women run derivative funds substantially outperformed male run ones. To describe women as more risk averse than men as some studies do is unfair. It would be more accurate to say that they are simply less prone to periods insane irresponsibility than men.

Thus, about two decades ago after steady advancement of women since the 1940’s, the War About Women began in earnest. For example, I believe women’s excelling in school and scholarship encouraged, in part, the attack on schooling by the male dominated traditional religious denominations and conservative organizations.

In the Near and Middle East, it was not simply replacement of burka’s with Western dress, but the realization that these free and educated women inevitably would move into positions of economic independence and ultimately seek political power that they began to assume in the West that drove the reactionary mullah’s into a frenzy.

What is happening in the US and in the Near and Middle East is all about women and their destiny. Women stand at the threshold of real power, economic, social and intellectual and many men are afraid.

In the US the 2012 election was to a great extent about the future of lower middle and lower class white male privilege. 2014 is the first American election in which the issue is all about the attempts to halt and reverse the emerging and inevitable power of women.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

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

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

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…the three basic foundations of political democracy. These three bases are (1) that men are relatively equal in factual power; (2) that men have relatively equal access to the information needed to make a government’s decisions; and (3) that men have a psychological readiness to accept majority rule in return for those civil rights which will allow any minority to work to build itself up to become a majority.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Unless these three criteria are met, voting, even where the franchise is broad, does not mean a Democracy exists. And, without #3 voting is no more than a symbolic exercise.

TODAY’S CHART:
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I find this map fascinating for some reason.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Women at work. 1930.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Papa Joe 0003 (October 10, 2013)

“In my dealings with others, I always try to treat them better in person than I treat them in my mind.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthday Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Today was the first day I felt well since I arrived. I got up believing that things could not be better – a bad sign since by definition everything from that moment on had to be worse.

I sprang from my bed and began to exercise vigorously before the mirror. I have a theory that the more ridiculous your exercise movements appear, the better they are for you. Since I was exercising starkers that morning, they appeared ridiculous indeed. (Note: “starkers” means stark raving mad or stark naked or both.)

I left the apartment and headed off to breakfast. The sun was shining and sky was a clear blue. It was just warm enough to encourage a thin-film of sweat, not the mind numbing heat of a Bangkok afternoon.
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Street scene along the way to the health club.

As I walked along Soi Nana, I saw an ambulance pull over with – Heart Attack Emergency Response Unit – painted on its sides. It seemed that they were lost. One of the technicians leaned out of the window to ask directions from two passers-by. Each gave a different route. A lengthy discussion ensued. I listened for a while and then moved on leaving them to eventually find their way to the, I am sure, now deceased heart attack victim.

After breakfast, I went to the health club and paid the exorbitant $50 fee for one month’s membership in the decrepit facility. I complained and requested a discount. They refused but offered me free use of a locker for the month provided I supply my own lock.

After my swim, I walked with the old sailor/deep-sea diver back to his hotel which was on the way to my apartment. We talked about drugs and alcohol, their benefits and drawbacks. I found out that he had not been to the airport to see anyone off, but to meet me on my arrival. He said he knew how it was for someone to arrive alone at an airport after a long flight with no one to meet him.

I then continued on to my apartment and took a nap.

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On the fourth floor of the building in the photo is my apartment. It’s not much but I call it home. Under the small tree every evening one or two families, with infants in hammocks, roll out reed mats and have dinner together. I makes me very happy to see them.

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After breakfast at Foodland, on my way to the health club, I usually walk through a very dark alleyway I refer to as “The Tunnel.” It is about four feet wide with shops on each side and extends and entire block. Since my last visit here, several of the massage parlors, pachinko shops and the like have been converted to tiny bars. These bars are open and lively at 8 AM. Light in the alley is provided by the opening at each end, some dim fluorescence here and there and a few colored lights on the beer advertisements in the bars. As I walk through, I can barely make out the outline’s of women’s shapes and their teeth when they smile. The men, mostly westerners, eye me warily as though I may be a threat or something.

Oh, and of course there are the bodies – usually one or two – not dead I think, but sleeping or sleeping it off. They allow me to indulge in my Augustinian arrogance. You know, “There but for…”, well not Grace or God certainly. How about, “there but for the invisible hand and the vagaries of fortune go I.” That great invisible hand and luck could just as well exalt me to physical comfort and existential anguish, or drop me unconscious in the gutter. All praise the hand of the Lord.

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Most people walking past The Tunnel would think it dangerous, I imagine. But I have been walking through here for years now and the only things that have happened to me have been, now or then receiving a slap on the back by a guy inviting me for a drink or a woman emerging from the darkness, pressing her body against mine and saying “Welcome mister” or, “Hello Pa Pa.”

With a smile I politely turn them down — not because I have an ethical or moral objection to what they are offering but because underneath it all, I’m a snob.

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This is the entrance to Foodland. Inside is a supermarket, pharmacy and bank. Also, it contains a small counter service café where I eat my breakfast most days. For the price, I consider it one of BKK’s best restaurants.

As long as I am doing show and tell on my regular eating establishments, the following photo shows the sidewalk café where I often eat lunch.
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And this is where I eat dinner a lot. The waitress is a ladyboy with the body of a NFL linebacker who entwines orchids in her thick black hair and wears rhinestone encrusted platform high-heels.
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During my walks I often encounter the feral urban fauna of the City. Pigeons of course, but rarely on the street, too dangerous. I can, however, hear them cooing in the trees. Those little brown birds found in most cities flock around, wrens, starlings or something. Yeates would know. The ones in BKK look a bit greasy. The house next door to my apt has several large aviaries by the road containing Parrots that make a racket at certain times of the day.
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The mangy soi dogs don’t approach you as dogs usually do looking for a handout or a sniff of your crotch, but silently slink away if you pass too close to them. Cats, mean looking creatures, peek out at you from dark places or sun themselves on tiny unreachable ledges. Then, of course, there are the rats that scurry beneath your feet from crevice to hole as you walk by. Despite their meekness, I suspect the rats are the most sociable of the lot. They are certainly the most numerous.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

“One of the benefits of traveling to other societies is that we are free to apply our prejudices when we observe their culture.”
Trenz Pruca

1. Food exports

Today the Bangkok Post reported that Thailand has become the world’s greatest exporter of insects for food with most of it going to the US. Thailand has over 20,000 “insect” farms.

Among the many questions I have is, who is buying this food? I have not seen packages of Genuine Imported Thai Insects on the shelves of Safeway or Raley’s — Whole Foods perhaps?

Another question is why do we have to import insects? Don’t we have enough of our own? Do Thai insects taste better than American ones?

2. Tourist murder solved?

A few weeks ago two tourists were killed in Thailand. There were no suspects. About two days ago the Thai tourist industry announced that violence against tourist hurts the industry. Yesterday the Thai police continued their remarkable success in solving all high-profile crimes by announcing they apprehended the murderers of the two tourists – two Burmese immigrant teenagers who confessed to the crime.

And yes, not even the Thais believe it.

3. Hell, a Family Resort.

The newspapers today also reported that the City Fathers of Pattaya (sometimes referred to as “The Outskirts of Hell”) announced their intention to turn the City into a “family resort” notwithstanding its reputation for sex of all varieties, crime and corruption. Pattaya is owned by the Thai counterparts to the same type of organization that created Sin City in the Nevada desert and now also wants to convert it to a Family Resort. Pattaya which experiences the mostly unreported death of a westerner or tourist almost every week is mobbed up from the soles of the jack-boots of the lowest policeman to the toupee adorning the mayor’s head.

Of course I exaggerate, Pattaya cops do not wear jack-boots and I haven’t the slightest idea if the mayor even owns a toupee.

4. Eye of the beholder.

The military has set up a committee to draft a new Constitution for Thailand, a central element of which would attempt to eliminate corruption. By law the members of the committee have to disclose their wealth. To probably no ones surprise, among the wealthiest and by far the largest in number of millionaires on the committee are the generals appointed to sit on it. How you might ask does a public employee, which generals are, become millionaires while on the job?

Since, they are not required to disclose the sources of their income, one can be reasonably sure that whatever the regulations to control official corruption may be, they will not apply to the military. I am sure the generals believe that the sources of their wealth are natural, the result or operation of a gracious and beneficent invisible hand, and therefore necessary for a healthy national economy.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In most periods of human history, exploitation of natural resources to satisfy human needs could be achieved with less expenditure of energy and with less danger, even in less desirable territories. In other words, war has never been a rational solution for obtaining resources to satisfy man’s material needs. …
…But of course, men have never been rational. They are fully capable of believing anything and of adopting any kind of social organization or social goals, so that warfare became at least a minor part of life in most societies.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Me standing before the entrance to the site of the Temple of Diana in Nemi, Italy (1997). I had spent almost 30 years, on and off, searching for it and found it on this trip when Ruth pointed it out the first time we passed by. Of course, as usual in Italy, the site was closed that day and no explanation given.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Papa Joe 0003 (October 4, 2014)

“Today the absence of government simply means government by corporations.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthdays to Athena, Aaron and Anthony

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. TWO MOTT STREET BOYS ON A CART, CIRCA 1900
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

SWAC arrived this evening to assume my nanny duties. I continue preparations to leave. For some reason, I am more anxious about this trip than my previous ones. I have always believed that it is the surprises of travel, good or bad, that make it worthwhile. Too much planing raises expectations that are almost never met. Still, this time I worry whether I planned enough as I pack and unpack my little suitcase to make sure I have included everything I should.
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Well, today it rained slightly on the Golden Hills. Not much, just enough to smudge the dirt on the car’s windshield. Very little moisture made it to the ground but it seemed to have cleared the air of today’s load of ash and smoke.
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Early Sunday morning, I grabbed my two suitcases (mine, the light one, SWAC’s, the heavy one to be delivered to her brother in BKK) and my computer and set off for the train station. Dick drove me to the Sacramento. terminal. There I boarded the early train to SF.
Usually, the cars are mostly empty and finding a seat easy. This morning, however, I caught the 49ers game-day train and almost every seat was filled with maroon-shirted fans happily on the way to this afternoon’s game, many of whom were getting a strong start on the train version of a tailgate party. When we got to Emeryville and I had to change to a bus to cross the bay into San Francisco. It was filled with orange-shirted SF Giant baseball fans.
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B. Pookies Adventures in San Francisco

In SF I had lunch with my daughter-in-law Annemarie, grandsons Anthony and Aaron and the new grandparents Peter and Barrie Grenell at a Savor on 24th Street. Later we visited with my granddaughter Athena who was painting a mural at the Mission Street Fair.
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Peter, Anthony,Barrie, Aaron, me
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Amanda, Jason

For those interested, Anthony has just moved to Vallejo. Aaron has started two businesses, a catering business and a landscape business. Ann tells me he is depressed because at twenty-years-old, his life is not turning out how he expected. Athena wants to become an artist among other things. She also often participates in feminist rallies and hopes to attend one in Texas.
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Athena the muralist

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Pookie the muralist

Peter, besides his role as grandpa, now plays in four different bands and is looking forward to retiring from the harbor district next year.
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In the evening I had dinner with my son Jason, his wife Heromi and my granddaughter Amanda. Then it was off to the airport.

C. ALONG THE WAY

I had a long uncomfortable plane ride to BKK. As I was getting in my seat and checking things one last time, I realized that I had either lost or left at home the small bag holding my tooth-brush, shaving equipment and all my medicines. While trying to convince myself that I was not senile, terminally stupid or going to die a horrible death during on the flight, I spent the next twenty-seven hours, worrying, sleeping fitfully, eating far too much airplane food to be healthy and watching movies,

One of the movies was John Turturro’s wonderfully touching and comic Fading Gigolo starring Woody Allen as Murray an aging owner of a failed bookshop turned part-time pimp who is living with a black woman with four children one of whom has head lice. Murray persuades Fioravante (Turturro), a flower store employee, to service his beautiful, wealthy and married dermatologist and other lonely middle-aged women. The movie’s central story is a a semi-sweet but ill-fated and unconsummated love affair between the gigolo and the widow of the Rabbi of a highly orthodox community in Brooklyn beloved by a shomrin (look it up) named Devi.

I liked the movie since it reminded me of my singularly unsuccessful attempt, in Rome many years ago, to experience life as a gigolo. My only so-called success in that doomed attempt was due to the sympathy of an exceptionally kind woman named Mona. I think I may write a short story or a novella based on the escapade.
zev72dan_medium
Mona

D. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

After twenty-seven hours of traveling including stops in Hong Kong and Singapore (where I spent the wait-over encased in a mechanical foot massage machine provided free by the airport for foot weary travelers), I arrived in BKK. The Little Masseuse who unfortunately had gotten the time of my arrival wrong, had come and gone from the airport. Surprisingly, I was spotted by my friend from the health club the old sailor and deep-sea diver who had just seen a friend off. We shared a two-hour taxi ride from the airport. When I arrived at my apartment I went immediately to sleep and did not leave my bed all of the next day and night.

On the third day I tried to leave but was still not feeling well so I remained in the apartment. By the fourth day I had located a supply to replace my missing medicines so I ventured forth to breakfast followed by a haircut, shave, facial scrub manicure and pedicure before lunch and then returned to the apartment for a nap.

First photo’s from Thailand:

IMG_20141002_093456_878

Me strutting along Soi Nana

IMG_20141002_091232_460

LM at breakfast in Foodland.

E. CONTEMPLATION OF DEATH AND DYING

Having lost my bag containing my medicines as I mentioned, the next day during one of my brief periods of fretful wakefulness, I realized that it would be several days before I could reach my Doctor, get the names of my medicines, and buy them at a local pharmacy. This fact confirmed my belief that my imminent death was highly likely. So, in my quasi-somnolent state, I contemplated what a good death in Bangkok would be for me. In no particular order:

Lying on a massage table, my face in the hole drool dripping from the corner of my mouth. The masseuse has just finished massaging my feet and lower legs and is spreading oil on the inside of my thighs.

Swimming in the health club’s outdoor pool, I have just taken a breath, and glimpse, floating on the water, the multi-colored fabrics of the indian woman who had entered the pool, as they do, fully clothed. As I dip my head under the water and exhale, silver bubbles flow behind me. Through the crystalline turquoise water I make out the sun dappled bottom of the pool.

Walking near my apartment, the sun shining, I fall through the sidewalk into the foetid canal and sewer that runs beneath BKK’s streets and as the slimy grey green ooze reaches my neck, I happily expire.

At the supermarket in the basement of Robinson’s I lean over a display of freshly opened Durian. The King of Fruit’s aroma reminds me of unwashed 1000 year old feet. I take a deep breath.

In Terminal 21 on the fifth floor, I sit at a booth at Baskin and Robins’. What passes for a root beer float in the area now that A&W can no longer be found, stands on the table in front of me. I press the vanilla ice cream deep into the soda and watch the foam fill the glass almost to overflowing. I suck deeply on the straw to see if I can forestall the foam from sliding down the glass and on to the table.

I am sitting in my room watching a Thai soap opera on the television. LM sits on the floor eating fish heads and munching on some foul-smelling Thai vegetable. The beautiful but dense ingénue in love with the handsome, quite stupid but rich leading man had just come from being physically and verbally abused by her rival for affection of said stupid, handsome but rich young man, now confronts a production value deficient ghost and stands mostly mute and unmoving through two sets of commercials. I expire, probably more from terminal boredom than the lack of medicines. My head leans gently against the wall where I remain until a little after midnight when the late night slapstick comedy shows end and LM shuts off the TV and realizes I had not collapsed on to my rock hard bed and covered my head with a pillow as I usually do.

At a sidewalk restaurant I sit and observe the the hazy street life in front of me while I chew on the first bite of my lunch. Two ladies of the evening on their way for an early start pass by, one dressed in a tight tan mini-dress that barely reaches the tops of her thighs and the other in a similar red dress. I topple forward and my face plunges into my one dollar plate of pork fried rice.

Standing on the Sukhumvit Road overpass, by Soi Nana observing the stopped traffic below I glance to my right and spy the King of Beggars sitting at his usual post on the sidewalk his leg, amputated above the knee, extended before him. I call him the King of Beggars because he always sits at the prime street corner in the area, is well dressed with a north African style skull-cap on his head and, unlike the other beggars, he always eats his lunch at one of the regular restaurants near by. His face is dark tan, his hair white. Above his well-trimmed white mustache his eyes grey as storm clouds meet mine.

Of course, I could always be run over by a speeding motorbike taxi, but that is just as likely if I am fully medicated as not, perhaps even more so.

Note: for those who have read this far and found the above entertaining the rest of this note is not for you. For those concerned about the state of my health (mental or physical) please know most of the missing medicines are various prescribed vitamins. Pretty much the only concern was with the loss of my doctor prescribed happy pills. True, sudden termination of the pills can produce withdrawal symptoms that are pretty awful. Also, should I decide to replace the drug with something like opium, LSD or Oxycontin it could be more than simply life threatening. Nevertheless, the withdrawal, jet-lag and exhaustion did make me feel as though death would be a welcome improvement.

I eventually manage to score the appropriate drugs from the pharmacy in Foodland. Everything else is the lies I tell myself. Lying to oneself is necessary for survival. If not, how would anyone make it through puberty? The ability to lie to oneself is natures compensation to those she has cursed with consciousness.
F. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

On the television news today it was reported that the country is experiencing an infestation of rabid ants who invade houses at night, climb into the beds of those who had been eating in the bed and not cleaning up before falling asleep and attacking every orifice of that person’s body in a crazed search for food.

LM assures me that she knows of a friend of hers who was so attacked and had to be hospitalized. I did not get much sleep again last night.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

From Pookie’s 2012 write-in campaign for President:

While reviewing old issues of T&T, I came across the following plank from my aborted write in campaign for President in 2012. I thought it remains valid today (the savings may be larger today).

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

Pookie’s platform includes a minimum of $600 billion over the next 4 years in budgetary savings by immediately ending the following welfare programs:

1. Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies.

There appears to be no conceivable impact on the nation’s oil and gas supply by removing these subsidies. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $80 billion.

2. Deferment of Taxes on Income of US controlled Corporations Abroad.

This subsidy seems to have little public benefit and only encourages offshoring of American jobs. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $200 billion.

3. Accelerated Depreciation on Equipment:

This is most often used by companies to avoid taxation entirely. It should only be allowed (as it was originally) as part of temporary stimulus legislation to encourage companies to buy equipment during recessions. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $140 billion.

4. Deduction for Domestic Manufacturing:

This deduction is simply a direct subsidy to companies. It is welfare pure and simple and has no place in the tax code. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.

5. LIFO (Last in First Out) Accounting:

This is simply a method to hide true profits. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion

6. Agribusiness Welfare:

Another unnecessary welfare program. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion.

7. Allow Government to Negotiate Prices for Medicare:

A direct subsidy to providers. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.

8. Annual tax break for drug companies direct to consumer advertising:

Why should we pay for drug company marketing to us? Estimated savings over next 4 years: $20 billion.

I would require the resulting savings of about $125 billion per year to be set aside and used to reduce the National Debt in any year where the GNP (or another suitable measure of the economy and society) exceeds 2.5% in growth (minus inflation) for the year or used for non-tax reduction stimulus funding (e.g. public works), or safety net expenditures (e.g. extending unemployment benefits) when it falls below 2.5%.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility, and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
Carroll Quigley, Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Papa Joe 0003 (September 23, 2014)

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

A. ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE POLICY:

The Sacramento Bee reported today that the Federal Administration just released its policies for combating Antibiotic Resistance. For many months my daughter, Dr. Jessica Petrillo, was actively involved on behalf of the State Department in developing the international portion of the national strategy and contributed to the framing of the Executive Order implementing that strategy. For her efforts she received The State Department’s Superior Honor Award.

In addition to her work on the current policies designed to protect us all from the threat of antibiotic resistant pathogens, for the past few years she also has contributed significantly to the development of actions and strategies to defend this Nation and the world from intentional biologic attack.

We all too often forget that it is not only those armed with a gun that safeguard our nation. Intelligence, commitment and dedication to the public good instead of simple pursuit of economic advantage are as important, if not more important, to our security.

Congratulations Jessica, I am very proud of you.

B. HOPI CEREMONIAL DANCERS CIRCA 1900:

xl_american_odyssey_406-407 - Version 4

C. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ELDORADO HILLS:

There was a strange phenomenon in the skies over The Golden Hills this morning. A huge forest fire of about 100,000 acres is burning a few miles further up towards the mountains. The smoke turned the Eastern skies a yellowish-grey. Through this pall the rising sun appears a deep iridescent red. I could look directly at it for ten or twenty seconds. It all looked like a view from another world out of a science fiction movie.
********************************

I have just learned that Peter and Barry Grenell became Grandparents a few months ago. The baby’s name is Anuhea which means fragrant breeze in Hawaiian. Congratulations to everyone involved.
********************************

The forest fire nearby is under control. We can now breathe air again free of smoke and ash.
I have packed a tiny suitcase for my trip to Thailand and Sicily. It is still too large for carry on for the airline (Ryan Air) I have chosen to fly from Rome to Palermo. Checking in the small bag will double my flight costs.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

QUIGLEY ON TOP

Security, Power and Political Instability

Introduction

In his unpublished magnum opus Weapons Systems and Political Stability Carroll Quigley attempts to provide a cohesive analytical structure to the morass of confusion regarding concepts of security and power. He goes on at length to demonstrate how the ideas he enunciates repeat in History and how the application of those concepts can explain most historical conflicts. I will not try to summarize his historical examples here but only attempt to lay out the operative concepts he identifies. The first thing I must point out is that he is not particularly discussing security from such things and famine or disease and the like, although he makes it clear that the lack of such security is more often than not a product of the exercise of power or the lack thereof. He is, however, examining the meaning of security in a clash of power among groups the effect of which could and often does produce tragic consequences to individuals often including death.

He begins by pointing out that security and power are different notions and that security has not always been a product of a state.

“Men have experienced security and insecurity throughout all human history. In all that long period, security has been associated with power relationships and is today associated with the state only because this is the dominant form which power relationships happen to take in recent times. But even today, power relationships exist quite outside of the sphere of the state, and, as we go farther into the past, such non-state (and ultimately, non-public) power relationships become more dominant in human life.”

Definition of Security

Security Quigley defines as:

“…the settlement of disputes involving clashes of wills within the group and the defense of the group against outside threats—are the essential parts of the provision of security through group life. They form the opposite sides of all political life and provide the most fundamental areas in which power operates in any group or community. Both are concerned with clashes of wills, the one with such clashes between individuals or lesser groups within the community and the other with clashes between the wills of different communities regarded as entities. Thus clashes of wills are the chief problems of political life, and the methods by which these clashes are resolved depend on power, which is the very substance of political action.”

The nature of power

He then goes on to ask and discuss, what is the nature of power and what is the relationship between power and security.

“Power,” he maintains, “is simply the ability to obtain the acquiescence of another person’s will.”

That is to obtain full cooperation, obedience to specific orders, or simple acquiescence.

The Basis of Power

These power relationships can be obtained by the exercise of one or more of what can be described as the triple basis of power in our culture: force, wealth or persuasion.

He states:

“The first of these is the most fundamental (and becoming more so) in our society, and will be discussed at length later. The second is quite obvious, since it involves no more than the purchase or bribery of another’s acquiescence, but the third is usually misunderstood in our day.

The economic factor enters into the power nexus when a person’s will yields to some kind of economic consideration, even if this is merely one of reciprocity. When primitive tribes tacitly hunt in restricted areas which do not overlap, there is a power relationship on the lowest level of economic reciprocity.

“The ideological factor in power relationships, which I have called persuasion, operates through a process which is frequently misunderstood. It does not consist of an effort to get someone else to adopt our point of view or to believe something they had not previously believed, but rather consists of showing them that their existing beliefs require that they should do what we want.”

Finally he explains regarding the above three bases of power:

“Of course, in any power situation the most obvious element to people of our culture is force. This refers to the simple fact of physical compulsion, but it is made more complicated by the two facts that man has, throughout history, modified and increased his physical ability to compel, both by the use of tools (weapons) and by organization of numerous men to increase their physical impact. It is also confused, for many people, by the fact that such physical compulsion is usually aimed at a subjective target: the will of another person. This last point, like the role of morale already mentioned, shows again the basic unity of power and of power relationships, in spite of the fact that writers like myself may, for convenience of exposition, divide it into elements, like this division into force, wealth, and persuasion.”

Psychological nature of power relations

In addition, he argues there exists a psychological nature in power relations. He proposes two analytical rules:

“1. Conflict arises when there is no longer a consensus regarding the real power situation, and the two parties, by acting on different subjective pictures of the objective situation, come into collision.
2. The purpose of such a conflict, arising from different pictures of the facts, is to demonstrate to both parties what the real power relationship is in order to reestablish a consensus on it.”

Influence of time in power relationships

A third influence on a power relationship is the changes that time may make to the above psychological rules and thereby the nature of a particular conflict.

Also, distance or space affect power relationships. If you cannot reach someone or some nation to apply the elements of power than a power relationship does not exist and usually cannot exist. In the modern world of course, although this criteria has diminished in significance, it most certainly has not been extinguished.

Relationships in the exercise of power

And finally “most power relationships are multilateral and not dual.” “Such multilateral systems,” he argues, “explain the continued existence of smaller states whose existence could never be explained in any dual system in which they would seem to be included entirely in the power area of an adjacent great power.”

Summary

In the political arena with its enormous complexities, attempts to use power no matter how applied often cause political instability. Nevertheless Quigley writes:

“In all such crises of political instability, we can see the operations of the factors I have enumerated. These are:
(1) the dichotomy between the objective facts and subjective ideas of power situations;
(2) the nature of objective power as a synthesis of force, wealth, and ideology in our cultural tradition; and,
(3) the complication of these operations as a consequence of changes resulting from time, from distance, and from a multiplicity of power centers.”

Examples of the relationship between power and security although described in the historical record laid out in the book will have to remain for another time.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“This same characteristic feature of our society, that we cannot use what we already have for the satisfaction of our needs unless we devote increasing increments of time and resources to different future desires, now pervades all aspects of our society. Everywhere our activities now have built-in feedback loops which require investment in future technical innovations creating new activities or there will be sudden collapse of our existing activities.”
Carroll Quigley. review of Ferkiss “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis, 1974”

TODAY’S CHART:
drugs
I have no idea what the scale on top refers to. Anyway, it applies to drug use in the UK so who cares. What ever abuse they indulge in, I am sure we can do better in the USA.

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

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 35 Pops 0003 (September 18, 2014)

“…[N]ilism is a male disease of the soul, because we are not bearers of life. Men do not carry hope the way women do.”
Michael Collins

Happy Birthday Uncle Mask and Ann

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. SPANISH MOSS
xl_american_odyssey_276-277 - Version 2_3

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The air has been so dry here at the edge of the Great Valley that Dick, HRM and I all came down with nosebleeds today. Either that or a great plague is sweeping into California. (For those who read The Earth Abides, the survivor lived in a cabin or was camping somewhere in these same foothills – if I remember correctly – when the plague wiping out most of humanity hit.)
**************************************

With reading Kautilya, the huge Quigley books and editing his “Weapons Systems and Political Stability,” as well as rewriting and finishing “Red Star,” I sometimes feel like I am back working in an office. I guess work is what we do when we’re too old to play and too young to wish that was what we were doing instead. Actually, what I am doing is really a hobby, there’s no money in it. A hobby is something we do instead of going to the movies or watching television when we have no work or are bored.
***********************************

Samuel Beckett’s writings explored the depths of solipsism. That is, talking to yourself to know you’re alive. So what is it all about? Well Alfie, it is not about the Grey Gay Dane’s quandary. It’s about Stayin’ Alive. Even if you can no longer dance, as long as you keep hearing the music you are still living.
*************************************

I talk to myself in my mind all the time. I guess we all do. I suspect some people have debates with themselves. I never debate. I only make speeches. I picture myself speaking to a small grey homunculus with large glistening eyes sitting silently in a huge chair in front of me as I go on and on. Me talking and it listening. It frightens me. I believe one day it will jump out of that chair, kick me in the balls and tell me to shut up.
*************************************

I’m not sure I really want to return here to The Golden Hills after my trip. It’s not that I am uncomfortable here. I am very comfortable. It’s just that I feel like a stranger visiting some place where I do not understand the language. Of course, I feel like a stranger everywhere but in some places, such as cities like BKK and New York, I feel many others are also and that gives me some consolation. It’s like we all know at least one thing about each other – that we come from somewhere else – and that gives us a sense of community – a community of the dispossessed.
**************************************

Summer wanes on the golden foothills at the edge of the great valley. The trees have not yet put on their fall colors but a good number nevertheless seemed to have given up. Their shriveled brown leaves drop unceremoniously to the ground to await the leaf-blowers.

I usually like the Autumn. It’s like the year, having put in its time, has gone into retirement. I will miss it this year. There is no Autumn in Thailand, just the ending or the Monsoons and the coming of the months when mid-day strolls in the sun are no longer life-threatening.
**************************************

My favorite waitress at Bella Bru Cafe where I have breakfast each morning has had a tough year. Somehow she broke her jaw and when it did not set right they had to break it again and reset it. Shortly after that she experienced severe pain in her arm that required another operation and the arm remaining in a cast for six months or more. Still, she remembers my regular order and has it ready when I walk into the place in the morning.

I do not know her name. Strangely, I know all about her medical history but find it too personal to ask her her name. I think she should be called Kate for some reason.

She probably makes minimum wage which is about one-half of what I get on Social Security. I wonder how she lives on that? I at least get free room and board while I am here. Still, when I was making about a million dollars a year, I spent more than I made and always felt I was living at the edge. Now I feel I am living better than I ever did then. Go figure.
**************************************

My daughter in law Ann Marie’s good friend Brooke has died in her sleep. I feel sorry for both of them.

Bill Yeates mother and father dies a short time ago. Bill and his wife Carol have travelled to Wyoming, a place his parents liked best, to bury them. I wish Bill and Carol well.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Kautilya, Arthashastra:

ANVIKSHAKI, the triple Védas (Trayi), Várta (agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade), and Danda-Niti (science of government) are what are called the four sciences.

Anvikshaki comprises the Philosophy of Sankhya (Metaphysics), Yoga (Concentration), and Lokayata (Logic and debate).

Righteous and unrighteous acts (Dharmadharmau) are learnt from the triple Vedas; wealth and non-wealth from Varta; the expedient and the inexpedient (Nayanayau), as well as potency and impotency (Balabale) from the science of government.
Kautilya, Arthashastra

In the West, Pythagorus and Plato developed a somewhat comparable system of education, Trivium (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric) and Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy) that was generally adopted during Medieval period. Kautilya’s system appears more practical, as it includes applied economics and politics. (Applied economics – get rich. Applied politics – kill your enemy.)

B. Book World from Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next or the one thereafter:

The ongoing story of Thursday inviting three characters into her home.

‘I opened the door to find three Dostoyevskivites staring at me from within a dense cloud of moral relativism.’

‘Allow me to introduce Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov.’
‘Actually,’ said the second man leaning over to shake my hand. ‘I’m Dmitri Razumikhin, Raskolnikov’s loyal friend.’
‘You are?’ said Raskolnikov in surprise. ‘Then what happened to Svidrigailov?’
‘He is busy chatting up your sister.’
‘My sister? That’s Pulkheria Alenandronova Raskolnikov, right?’
‘No,’ said Razumikhin in the tone of a long-suffering friend, ‘that’s your mother. Andotya Romanova Raskolnikova is your sister’
‘I always get those two mixed up. So who is Marfa Petronova Svirigailova?’
Razumikhin frowned and thought for a moment.
‘You’ve got me there.’
“‘It’s very simple,’ said the third Russian, indicating who did what on her fingers, ‘Nastasya Petronova is Raskolnikov’s landlady’s servant, Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova is your sister who threatens to marry down, Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova is the one who becomes a prostitute, and Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailova – the one you were first talking about — is Arkady Svidrigailov’s murdered first wife.’
‘I knew that’ said Raskolnikov in the manner of someone who didn’t, ‘so… who are you again?’
‘I’m Alyona Ivanovna,’ said the third Russian with a trace of annoyance, ‘the rapacious old pawnbroker whose apparent greed and wealth lead you to murder.’
‘Are you sure you’re Ivanovna?’ asked Raskolnikov in a worried tone.
‘Absolutely.’
‘And you’re still alive?’
‘So it seems.’
He stared at the bloody axe.
‘Then who did I just kill?’

‘Listen’ I said ‘I’m sure everything will come out fine in the epilogue. But for the moment, your home is my home.”’

(This drove my spell check crazy)

DAILY FACTOID:

1940:When some British Members of Parliament, led by Amery, put pressure on the government to drop bombs on German munition stores in the Black Forest, the air minister, Sir H. Kingsley Wood, rejected the suggestion with asperity, declaring: ‘Are you aware it is private property? Why, you will be asking me to bomb Essen next!’ Essen was the home of the Krupp munitions factories.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

(Did you know that one of the biggest disputes during WWII among advocates of strategic bombing was whether it was preferable to bomb industrial plants or worker housing?)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Are you an assassin? 

I am a soldier.

You’re an errand boy sent by grocery clerks to collect the bill.”
Conversation between Marlon Brando as Captain Kurtz and Martin Sheen as the soldier in Apocalypse Now.

(If the day ever comes when the common soldier realizes this, that will be the day they turn their guns on the grocery clerks.)

TODAY’S CHART:

wealth
I am not sure this chart means anything.

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Papa Joe 0003 (September 11, 2014)

“Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all– the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

Mayor Richard J Daley 1968

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. THE COSMOS,
slide_219532_853900_free
as envisioned by a Pakistani teenager
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EI DORADO HILLS:

I was feeling a bit out of sorts so I thought a visit to the Man Cave before picking up HRM at school would help. The Man Cave looks like a large dark living room; sofas, easy chairs and ottomans. There were five or six men there lounging about, smoking cigars and watching Sons of Anarchy on the big screen TV.

I had never seen the show before. It seems to be about the trials and tribulations of being a biker gang member. The actors and actresses stared solemnly at each other and spoke in tones so low that I could hardly make out what they were talking about but assumed it was very important to them because they never smiled.

No one seemed to work much. Now, I know dealing dope is not as vigorous work as digging ditches, but usually one has to do something – like meeting customers and suppliers, collecting money, distributing profits and the like – but these people did not do any of that. Maybe because they were not particularly good at anything but auditions. They seemed to fight a lot too. Maybe they were good at that also.

Anyway the visit did not cheer me up much. I have been feeling irritable and dissatisfied recently and unable to either understand or meet HRM’s needs. We argue every day and it makes me sad.

I look forward to my upcoming trip, at least the Sicilian part of it. I have not seen my Sicilian relatives and friends in about 35 years. I will try to take the Camilleri – Montalbano tour. There are two. One through Agrigento (Montelusa) and Porto Empedocle (Vigata) where the books are set and one in Ragusa where the TV series was shot. In Porto Empedocle there is a statue of Montalbano.

Montalbano-1b

When I lived in Canicatti, Sicily for a few months about 40 years ago, my favorite sea food restaurant was in Porto Empedocle.
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Here in The Golden Hills of suburban comfort, swimming season slowly bleeds into cross-country season. The hummingbirds have begun their long trek to the shores of the Caribbean. I sit here every morning in the Bella Bru Cafe watching through the window as flocks of young mothers, having dropped off their children at school, descend upon the outdoor tables that surround the fountain.

In Italy and even at times Thailand when sitting like this in some café, I usually have the feeling that everyone is talking to me even when they are not. Here each group seems encased in a bubble from which a low rumble of conversation escapes. Maybe it is not like that at all and I am simply eager to leave on my trip. On the other hand, perhaps it is just the increasing attacks of agita as I grow older that makes me more gloomy.
*****************************************************

Today at breakfast a woman walked into the cafe with her pre-school daughter in tow. She was wearing an American flag twisted around her neck as a scarf — I assume in remembrance of the twin towers attack. I recall 40 years or so ago displaying the flag like that would be considered an insult to it. It is interesting how malleable emotionally charged symbols can really be. Then again fashion rules all.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Quigley on top.

On the importance to society of dissent and the unimportance of ideology or labels:

Carroll Quigley believed that social arrangements, including governments, although they may begin by pursuing valid social goals, gradually become institutions serving their own purposes and needs. Without constant reform, those institutions eventually disintegrate.

In a prior post, I mentioned Quigley’s conviction that protection of minority rights may be even more important to a society than suffrage because suffrage not only is often less than universal but, even where it is broad and inclusive, groups other than the majority of the voters routinely wield the actual power. It is, he argued, minorities seeking their place in society that ultimately engender change and reform in a society.

In 1970 during the height of the chaos of the counter-culture movement and the terrors of cold war, Quigley was invited by a concerned Department of Defense to lecture at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy) on the nature and impact of dissent.

As shown in the quotes below, in that lecture he demonstrates the necessity of dissent to an organized society if that society is to remain capable of reforming itself to meet the challenges of the ever-changing and evolving environment which it must constantly confront and adapt to if it is to survive.

He also argues that ideology or labels are not significant determinants of the nature of the dissent but convenient tools for its expression (fashions if you will). As an example, the US Communist Party, first funded by Wall Street and then by the US government for their own purposes nevertheless still functioned as a mechanism of dissent, even against their paymasters.

“First of all, allegiance and dissent, it seems to me, are opposite sides of the same coin. We cannot have organized society without allegiance. A society cannot continue to exist without loyalty. But, I would further add, a society cannot continue to exist that is incapable of reforming itself, and the prerequisite to reform is dissent.

Allegiance is absolutely vital. But so is dissent. To me, allegiance means devotion to symbols and organizational structures, both of which are necessary in any society. Dissent, it seems to me, is the opposite side of the coin. It implies a critical approach to the symbols and to organizational structures of society.”
Presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on 24 August 1970

“No society can stand still. Its institutions must constantly adjust and evolve, and periodically undergo reform, because the needs they are supposed to serve are themselves constantly changing. And institutions cannot grow and reform unless the people whose needs they fail to serve, or serve badly, can make their dissatisfaction felt in short, unless they can actively dissent from things as they are. If dissent is stifled and denied redress, it builds up like a head of steam. Many people assume that dissent and the demand for reform are the first step toward revolution. They are mistaken. My study of history shows pretty generally that revolutions do not come from dissent. They come from a failure to reform, which leads to breakdown. It is quite true that misguided reforms which fail to attack real problems may also result in breakdown. But dissent, and reform responding to dissent, do not lead to revolution. They lead away from it.”
Ibid

“The Communist Party in this country was destroyed… It is extremely likely that by 1960 one of the chief sources of funds for the Communist Party in this country was the FBI spies who had joined it. And, the chief financial support of the Communists from about 1920 to about 1950 was Wall Street. Why? I do not know. If you’re interested, look up the story of The Institute of Pacific Relations; it was financed by Lee Higginson & Company of Boston, Frederick Vanderbilt Field of New York, and other big money interests.

When these people cut off this money, about 1949, the Communists were pretty much finished. Their only other source of money was Moscow, and Moscow has never been generous with funds for local Communist Parties, which they believe should support themselves. According to an FBI estimate, I believe, the Communists in this country are down to about 15,000 members. Take Angela Davis. She is emotionally alienated from our society, and for good reasons, but this has little to do with communism, even if she is a member of the Party. This is why I say ideology is not really important in dissent. People become Communists not because they like the ideology, but because they wish to demonstrate their opposition…”
Ibid.

Quigley maintained that the preservation of minority rights and dissent are two of the principle elements that make up “inclusive diversity,” perhaps the foundation on which our society is based and which he fears was being eroded and will over time lead to the shattering of our society*.

*NOTE: In this lecture over 40 years ago, Quigley predicts the potential rise of a movement in the United States from the disaffected and frightened lower middle class, (much like the Tea Party) that “…holds the key to the future. I think probably they will win out. If they do, they will resolutely defend our organizational structures and artifacts. They will cling to the automobile, for instance; they will not permit us to adopt more efficient methods of moving people around. They will defend the system very much as it is and, if necessary, they will use all the force they can command. Eventually they will stop dissent altogether, whether from the intellectuals, the religious, the poor, the people who run the foundations, the Ivy League colleges, all the rest.

It can be inferred from his comments that allegiance to what he calls the symbols, artifacts and organization of a society are more pronounced among those who have both a “future preference,” that is, are willing to make current sacrifices for future benefit and most threatened by the possibility those benefits will not exist when needed.

That group does not include the truly working poor who for the most part see little possibility of future preference or risk of falling further economically. What this group fears more is those whose social status may be even lower than theirs, blacks, Mexicans, poor immigrants surpassing them. (I was once told by a someone making less than a living wage for his family but more than the minimum wage that he supported the raising of the minimum wage as long as it was not raised as high as what he was earning.)

These latter, the working poor, are often male, bitter, despise the other classes, often racist and bear scant allegiance to society’s organizations or artifacts and only slightly more to its symbols. If they do join the disaffected lower middle class in something like the Tea Party, it can be fairly certain they will be the ones bringing the guns.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

A. Italian travels:

Ruth points out that our travels to Italy occurred in 1997 and that there were only two children along. The third, Athena, had not yet been born. I apologize for the error. It still was a happy time.

AnnMarie recalls that the photo was taken in Spoleto and that day may have been one of the highlights of our trip.

B. Quigley:

Terry Goggin reminded me that he too was a student of Carroll Quigley in the late 1950s and found his courses “terrific.” I regret the oversight.

He also pointed out Obama’s demand that the EEC nations commit as much of their GDP to the defense of Europe (NATO) as the USA and Estonia do could have the effect of rebuilding the Atlantic Alliance as Quigley would probably urge rather than the US bearing all the burdens while receiving a scant share of the benefits.

C. Complaints:

Several readers mentioned that I seem to complain a lot in T&T. I am sorry that it comes across like that.

Actually, I see it more as my tendency toward irony, cynicism (cynicism is irony of steroids) and sarcasm (sarcasm is cynicism on cocaine), my bemusement at life’s oddities, and a long standing discomfort with sharing any positive feelings I may have. As for the latter, for example, were I to see a beautiful sunrise, I might also picture in my mind the image of the sun as a melted piece of processed cheddar cheese on an english muffin and write down the image instead of the feeling of pleasure – or hunger. Somewhere in my early childhood I was persuaded that expressions of joy left one vulnerable but expressions of disgust or melancholy were ok.

I apologize and will try to be more positive. I will probably fail.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The U.S. still names] military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice.”
“Propaganda and the Public Mind: Conversations With Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian”

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Pops 0003 (September 3, 2014)

“I think of myself as mostly a bad man who at times tried to do good and now and then succeeded only to find those successes often were ephemeral in significance and ambiguous in result.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthday Good/Bad David

TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. RUTH GALANTER AND I SOMEWHERE IN ITALY SEVERAL YEARS AGO:
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We travelled with my son, daughter in law, and three grandchildren. I remember it as a happy time. (I think I still have those pants)
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

1. Three lessons, more or less:

On Saturday I drove to San Francisco to visit my mother, daughter and son.

My mother, who is 96, is clearly dying. Unfortunately for her, she is fully aware of it and lies in her bed in the nursing home in terror of the prospect. There is a big difference between knowing that the great existential serial killer lurks somewhere around the corner and actually having him grab you by the throat.

(Did you know that in Irish mythology Death is a woman named Morrigan and appears in the form of a crow?)

Later, I had an excellent lunch with my daughter at an overpriced restaurant near North Beach. Among her portfolios for the State Department, she co-ordinates the American participation in the World Health Organization’s response to the rise in antibiotic resistant microorganisms. The creation of antibiotic resistant pathogens by inadvertence or design can be considered as great a threat to the US as terrorists launching a biologic weapon. When we speak about honoring those who defend our nation we too often forget about the many like her that also do so, with their minds and not with guns.

She brought me a briefcase full of photographs that I had stored at a friend’s house when I got rid of everything I owned five years ago. I had forgotten about them. Looking through them made me sad.

I also visited with my son and his family. My granddaughter had just returned from Japan where she and her mother had spent the summer with her mother’s family. I gave each of them one of LM’s colorful knitted caps.
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I learned there is a significant difference between the borderline and poor libertarians/tea partiers and its middle class supporters who you often see at protests and on Faux News. They, the borderline and poor, make more than minimum wage but often less than a real living wage. They rent and live in substandard housing in run down neighborhoods. They feel abandoned by the liberals with their emphasis on middle class interests and their seeming indifference to placing groups of working class poor in conflict with each other. They hate Republicans for their slavish support of oppressive corporate interests. As a result they have become bitter, anarchistic and compulsive purchaser of guns.

2. A question:

The following in a photograph of my current state of sartorial splendor. Several people have urged me to change my Facebook photo because I look too angry in it. Do you think I should replace it with this photo as a better representation of what I have become? I am obviously not the least bit angry or for that matter embarrassed.

IMG_20140831_094724_176_3

3. Along the Cosumnes River:

HRM is studying California history with his fourth grade class, beginning with the Donner Party. For those unfamiliar with how California schools approach the State’s history, they do not begin with the arrival of the Native Americans or of the Spanish, but with the Donner Party where a group of arrogant fortune seekers try to cross the Sierra Mountains in winter, get trapped in the snow and are forced to eat each other to stay alive until the remnants of the group were rescued.

Anyway, we decided to spend the morning with Naida West and Bill Geyer at their ranch on the banks of the Cosumnes River. Naida as you know wrote that wonderful historical trilogy about the area around the ranch during the Nineteenth Century. The eldest of the Donner children who was 14 years old at the time was married off to an unspeakably obnoxious employee of John Sutter, Perry McCoon. He was in his late 30’s. They moved to a small adobe cottage on the property where he left the young Donner girl alone for long periods of time. In the novel the young girl made friends with an indian woman from the village nearby who she discovers was also Perry McCoon’s wife and had a child by him.

I thought this visit would benefit HRM’s studies and ingratiate him with his teacher. Naida showed us some old photographs of the Donner girl and some of the other settlers in the area. She also brought out some of the Indian and settler artifacts she found on the property.
IMG_20140829_133859_646

We visited the site of the original adobe house, Perry McCoon’s grave, the remnants of dam site over which the miners and the ranchers had a shoot out and the indian village that the miners destroyed while slaughtering most of the inhabitants in an effort to steal their gold.

B. READINGS:

I have begun reading three non-fiction books more or less simultaneously. The first is Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Times that I discuss in this and the previous issue of T&T.

I also am reading Quigley’s Weapons Systems and Political Stability. That book, although over 1000 pages long, was only partially completed when Quigley died. It eventually was published in manuscript form without editing. I am attempting to prepare an edited version with comments and summaries that I will issue in a new blog I hope to create.

The third book a translation of Kautilya’s Arthasatra (Economics) written in about 300BC as a treatise on governance for the Emperor-King of the Maurya empire Chandragupta. Chandragupta was one of Alexander the Great’s allies in his conquest of Western India (now mostly Pakistan) who after Alexander’s death rebelled against his successor Seleucus.

Kautilya was Chandragupa’s chief minister. His book bears great similarity to Machiavelli’s, The Prince written over 1800 years later except that Kautilya was much more bloody. An interesting chapter of the treatise concerns how to undermine a democracy* of which there were several in India at the time.

*Note: historically a democracy was and always has been government by a more or less large group with an equal say in limited aspects of governance in their society. It almost never meant universal suffrage. For example, in the Athens of Pericles, it meant, at best, male property owners with a much smaller group composed of the largest property owners exercising the most power. In the United States, it generally meant, at the beginning, white male Protestant property owners. The history of the US can be seen as a constant battle over the years to expand suffrage culminating in the mid 1960’s and receding since then. The first limitation to go was Protestant, then property owners, then ensued a 150 year un-concluded war over white interspersed with the removal of male as a limitation on suffrage.The recent reaction against expanding suffrage seeks to give those possessing significant wealth greater weight in both suffrage and power than those lacking it and to restrict by several means the exercise of the franchise by non-white Americans, the poor or recently naturalized citizens without wealth. Despite the overall expansion of suffrage, real power in the US has almost always been exercised by a much smaller group of men owning or heading immense economic entities. Usually these entities have been big industrial, natural resource or financial concerns and for a brief period large centrally controlled labor organizations. There has never been in America a power entity organized to represent the middle class, the intellectual and professional class or the consumer. Those are generally perceived as the prey of the other power groups and the potential unwitting supporters of whichever group defrauds them into believing they have a real unity of interest.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

QUIGLEY ON TOP

Carroll I hardly knew ye. Carroll-Quigley-1956 Carroll-Quigley-1956-Pr1_tn

I have never met anyone who has taken Carroll Quigley’s class at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service who has not agreed the experience was life changing, and that includes such diverse personalities as Bill Clinton and Pat Buchanan. Clinton in his Democratic Presidential Nomination Acceptance Address 16th July 1992, said this about Quigley:

“As a teenager, I heard John Kennedy’s summons to citizenship. And then, as a student at Georgetown I heard that call clarified by a professor named Carroll Quigley, who said to us that America was the greatest nation in history because our people had always believed in two things: that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so.”

I remember Professor Quigley, in the old military barracks that served us for classrooms back then, plunging down the aisle, arm outstretched as though it held a sword or a spear, shouting out the intimate details of whatever great world shaking battle we were learning about at the time. I recall also my shock when I learned that Plato was not just some Greek in a toga who was Socrates mouthpiece and talked a lot about caves and shadows, but that his ideas, for better of worse, but mostly for worse, may have shaped the fundamental beliefs of whole societies.

His book The Evolution of Civilization (1979) contains more or less the substance of his lectures. Tragedy and Hope (1966) containing over 1300 pages and the uncompleted Weapons Systems and Political Stability (1983) with over 1000 includes most of his lectures adjusted and expanded to cover the special focus of each book. The question this brings to mind of course is, given the multitude of facts and the breadth of the subject matter, how was it possible for the student to digest this knowledge. Even more remarkable is that many of us remember the specifics of the lectures, even as in my case over 50 years later.

He accomplished this feat of teaching by the immense theatricality of his lectures combined with breaking down the facts into repetitive categories and the surprising novelty of his insights. As an example of the latter, I opened Tragedy and Hope and extracted a random quote:

“Helmuth von Moltke, who had never commanded a unit so large as a company previously. Moltke’s great contribution was to be found in the fact that, by using the railroad and the telegraph, he was able to merge mobilization and attack into a single operation so that the final concentration of his forces took place in the enemy country, practically on the battlefield itself, just before contact with the main enemy forces took place.”

All I had ever known of von Moltke before was that he had humiliated the forces of Napoleon III of France. The surprise that he was an amateur and his vaunted strategy so simple, forever fixed these facts my mind.

Of course, the way it usually happens with successful military innovations, they become doctrines that others copy. The French military academies took the concept of mass assault and interpreted it as a question of morale. Unbelievably, French military doctrine following their defeat, maintained that defense was irrelevant, that mass attacks were the only strategy and the army with the highest morale would always win because the army with lower moral would run away. This also would produce fewer casualties. The Italians modified this theory to eliminate morale and opted to place machine guns at the backs of the troops instead of in front of them in order to shoot any who hesitated in the attack. Of course, at Caporetto it meant that the Italian troops charging the Austrian lines surrendered in mass when they reached the enemy’s trenches. Italian troops were not so dumb as to buy their leaders view of “Patria” as something to die for.

This military doctrine of bringing troops rapidly to a huge front for a mass attack collapsed in WW I when both sides ran into barbed wire, machine guns and trenches and died in huge numbers no matter how quickly they got to the battlefield or how high their morale.

Perhaps the central element of Quigley’s teaching is that it is the humanism of society and not its form of government that should be at its heart. For example, about minority rights he wrote:

“I define democracy as majority rule and minority rights. Of these the second is more important than the first. There are many despotisms which have majority rule. Hitler held plebiscites in which he obtained over 92 percent of the vote, and most of the people who were qualified to vote did vote. I think that in China today a majority of the people support the government, but China is certainly not a democracy.

The essential half of this definition then, is the second half, minority rights. What that means is that a minority has those rights which enable it to work within the system and to build itself up to be a majority and replace the governing majority. Moderate deviations from majority rule do not usually undermine democracy. In fact, absolute democracy does not really exist at the nation-state level. For example, a modest poll tax as a qualification for voting would be an infringement on the principle of majority rule but restrictions on the suffrage would have to go pretty far before they really abrogated democracy. On the other hand relatively slight restrictions on minority rights — the freedoms of speech, assembly, and other rights — would rapidly erode democracy.”
The Mythology Of American Democracy

Teaching was Quigley’s life. Many of those he taught intended to enter the United States Foreign Service. He believed they needed to comprehend the cultures they would work in and therefore he developed a method of analysis of culture, history and society that would aid them in their vocation and hopefully create a better world.

He was always was an optimist. Later in life, however, that optimism began to wane. I guess it was like a person who builds one of the world’s most beautiful buildings and warns those who inhabit it that they must remain vigilant against rust and rot only eventually to find the residents too busy pursuing what appears important to them individually to bother with what was necessary for them all.

He ended one of his last lectures with the following:

“Now I want to say good night. Do not be pessimistic. Life goes on; life is fun. And if a civilization crashes, it deserves to. When Rome fell, the Christian answer was, ‘Create our own communities.’“

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I see great things in baseball.”
Walt Whitman

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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A stunning photograph of a scuffle in the Ukraine Parliament bearing an astounding resemblance to a Renaissance painting. Actually, it is more Mannerist than High Renaissance. It is also an almost perfect example of chiaroscuro. Caravaggio would love it.

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Pops 0003 (August 25, 2014)

“Poets are not happy people.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. COMPOSITION IN RED AND GREEN:

xl_american_odyssey_276-277
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

In a modern upper middle class subdivision community like El Dorado Hills it is difficult to observe, like Thoreau did, the macrocosm in the microcosm, the larger in the smaller, the world in a blade of grass, society in the clash of competing ant colonies. The reason for this is that the novelty and chaos of the microcosm is determinately eliminated in a place like El Dorado Hills and replaced by orderly organization of the environment and the society living in it. It should be pointed out, I am speaking of organization and not regimentation. In fact, regimentation would be antithetical to the appearance of freedom the orderliness intends to convey. Alas, freedom, if one can use that generalization, reflects more in our adaptation and reaction to the vagaries of our environment. If our environment is too organized and orderly we risk being absorbed into it like a fly stuck in wet paint.

For this reason I often find few observations to write about here. How many ways can one discuss an organization or anything that de-emphasizes change.? The same trees appear in orderly rows along the parkway medians, distinctions among them blurred. Change seems slowed and conflict submerged in silence. I expect even the ant colonies have given up their competition over food.

A relief from this organized orderliness lies in the appearance here and there of feral animals who have adapted to this environment, wild turkeys, coyotes, snakes and the like. They romp fat and unwary across the landscape as long as the gates to the subdivision remain closed and the humans within disinclined or prohibited from killing and eating them.

Therefore, I welcome the odd and unknown clank and wheeze in the car requiring me to bring it in to the repair shop, as I did a few days ago, and, until the car is repaired, spend my day in and around Sacramento’s Capitol Park among my beloved trees.

Now, my friend Yeates is quite fond of birds and very knowledgable about them. I suspect that, from a smear of birdshit on the sidewalk, he could deduce the latin name of the avian shitter; the color of its feathers; where it was going and whether it was reading the NY times when it shat.

I, on the other hand, love trees. True, I do not know many of their species names unless I read them on a plaque affixed to the trunk, but I know I can hug them when I want to and which ones give good shade to old men sitting on benches in the park. I can tell the differences between those with rough barks and those with smooth. I know which ones would be good for climbing if I were 60 years younger. And, I can imagine grasping the highest branches and looking out over the countryside while wafting back and forth in the breeze unafraid of falling, confident that the branches will catch me in their arms before I hit the ground cradling me like a mother embracing her child.

Anyway, eventually I left the park and the trees for lunch with Stevie and Norbert where we played “ain’t it awful” while we ate.

B. A PLEASING COMMENT:

Naida West’s thoughtful and sensitive comment on my rumination in the previous issue of T&T about my upcoming 75th birthday pleased me greatly. I though you might enjoy it almost as much as I did.

“You wrote:

‘Someone’s 75th birthday seems to me to be an important milestone in life. One should spend those milestones with those with whom they had shared a portion of it, friends and family. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do so. …Maybe I’ll buy myself a birthday cake.’

I’ll go a step further and say: One’s 75th birthday IS an important milestone that ought to be shared with friends and family. I was happy to learn that my Carmel High School class of ’57 is throwing a birthday bash for all of us, since we’ve all turned, or will turn, 75 this year. We’re calling it the “57-75″ party — more than a reunion.

I recall my 2 birthday parties — the first a wondrous event with a kitchen table full of kids and my mother setting a birthday cake before me, ablaze with 4 candles. My father and I had held hands as we walked down the alley to the tiny corner grocery store to buy the candles, and I will always remember his loving tone as he spoke to me like I was a grown up. My cousin once removed, 7 at the time, leaned over and blew out the candles before I understood my role. Two of my aunts scolded him; he turned red, and I felt sorry for his embarrassment. My next and last birthday party occurred when I turned 8, with one friend there, and my brother and little sister.

Long ago I told my husbands, in turn, and my children, that I don’t care about my birthdays, that they needn’t bother their heads about it. Yet when I turned 75 in April, I felt it would have been nice to have some sort of shared celebration. Maybe I’m just an unfair old grouch looking back over 50 years of arranging birthday parties for my elders, my 2 husbands, and each of my 3 children from age 1 to about 15.

Yes, buy yourself a birthday cake! And consider me to be a spirit guest, as well as a member of the great class of ’57. In Carmel I’ll raise a glass of wine to you. A classmate who owns the party building, along with nearly every other building in downtown Carmel, has doubtless encountered evidence of your work.

Also from TNT, your dream: “…a reverse nightmare, waking up was the horror.”

Well said.”

I urge all of you who read this, to treat yourself (perhaps on your birthday) to Naida’s three wonderful historical novels set in the Cosumnes River area near Sacramento during the 19th Century. You will not be disappointed. You can order them at: bridgehousebooks@gmail.com.

Pookie says check it out.
C. A MESSAGE TO THE TOOTH FAIRY:

HRM wrote the following note to the tooth fairy which he placed under his pillow along with the detached tooth:

“Dear Tooth Fairy,

Did you ever take John Cena’s tooth? Yes__ or No___

Please respond.”

Clearly a future CEO; dynamic and imperious behavior set in an imaginary universe.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:
Quigley up top:

Carroll Quigley (1910-1977), one of the great but unheralded minds of the latter part of the 20th Century, wrote a book entitled “Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Times” (1965). He believed the explanation for the disintegration of a society can be identified in the gradual transformation of social arrangements functioning to meet real social needs into social institutions serving their own purposes regardless of real social needs.

Perhaps because of what it also revealed, his book mysteriously quickly disappeared from the selves of bookstores to be replaced four years later by a heavily edited version that eliminated much the book’s disclosures. In about 2002, the original version finally was republished.

To professor Quigley’s great dismay, the revelations in the book and the facts surrounding its publication became fodder for the tin-foil hat brigade, including Alex Jones, and inadvertently inspired the conspiracy culture that still infects America today. Although “Tragedy and Hope,” became the wellspring of innumerable conspiracy theories, Quigley strenuously objected to them all. He wrote:

“This radical Right fairy tale, which is now an accepted folk myth in many groups in America, pictured the recent history of the United States, in regard to domestic reform and in foreign affairs, as a well-organized plot by extreme Left-wing elements…. This myth, like all fables, does in fact have a modicum of truth. “

After describing the “modicum of truth,” he continues:

“I have no aversion to it (the organizations and activities that the conspiracy theorists base their conjectures on) or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies… but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”

In this and following issues of T&T, I will write more about Quigley, discuss and at times criticize his arguments and disclosures as well as provide examples of its content and of his other writings.

As an illustration, Quigley, rightly or wrongly, maintained that until the later half of the 19th Century society as reflected in history was the story of the economic, intellectual and military elites. The peasants and proletariat were, other than for the technology they used, of little account.

“it is revealing that the ideological appeal for allegiance in the last two thousand years of Europe’s history (and, indeed, in most of mankind’s earlier history) made almost no effort to reach or to attract the peasants, who were, throughout history down to the nineteenth century, not only the most numerous class in society but were also, of course, the economic support of the power structure. This failure to make ideological appeal to the most numerous and most necessary group in the community was a consequence of the facts of power which are being discussed in this book. Whatever the number of the tillers of the soil or the indispensable nature of their contribution to the community, their power has always been insignificant, except in the few, relatively brief periods when they have been of military importance to the community. Except for the period before about 4000 B.C., and for a few centuries in Roman history and an even briefer period in some areas of Greek history, the peasantry has played almost no role in military life and, accordingly, almost no role in political life of the communities which have made history. This military and political incapacity of the tillers of the soil, so glaringly evident under feudalism or during the Thirty Years’ War, was a function of the distribution of weapons and of military organization, and is a remarkable example of the weakness of economic necessity in contrast with the role of force in any society. As we shall see, the rise in political significance of peasants and farmers in the nineteenth century, a rise which never took them to a dominant position, was a consequence of changes of weapons, a fact almost unmentioned by historians of the modern period. A similar neglect of peasants has existed in most of history, but on a gigantic scale, in Asia and in Africa, and, above all, in China,…”
Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History. 1983, Washington DC: University Press of America.

Be that as it may, according to Quigley this élite produced a society in the West (including North and South America, etc.) that distinguished it from others and, without diminishing the values those other societies, it was something that he approved of.

“it is clear that the West believes in diversity rather than in uniformity, in pluralism rather than in monism or dualism, in inclusion rather than exclusion, in liberty rather than in authority, in truth rather than in power, in conversion rather than in annihilation, in the individual rather than in the organization, in reconciliation rather than in triumph, in heterogeneity rather than in homogeneity, in relativisms rather than in absolutes, and in approximations rather than in final answers.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Quigley believed that the intolerance or rigidity often evident in the religious practices and among some secular groups in the West were in the most part aberrations from its nature of relative inclusivity and diversity. I am less sanguine about this last point. It, however, has been reported that in the last few years of his life Quigley became more pessimistic about the West’s commitment to those ideals.

Quigley also published, The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis. First edition, 1961, New York: Macmillan, 281 pp., The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden. 1981, New York: Books in Focus, 354 pages, and Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History. 1983, Washington DC: University Press of America, 1064 pages.

DAILY FACTOID:
1775: Jeanne Baret of France, became the first woman to sail around the world. She did it disguised as a man so that she could assist botanist Philibert de Commerson, who was also her lover. One of them — quite probably Baret — discovered the Bougainvillea plant.

Ah, those French, always with the love and the flowers…

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

An honest commitment to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.

“‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security.”
Franklin Roosevelt 1944 message to Congress

Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?
B. A young man named Oliver:

Oliver’s brilliant response to comments disagreeing with a Facebook post of his.

“Kayleigh Sedlack: Don’t be part of the problem Olivier.. Let’s try to be positive and find peace.

Nick Mojica: He is the problem.

Olivier Tomas Grandvoinet: Heyyyy get that shit outta here, y’all aren’t the demographic I’m rallying with at the moment.”

C. More from Facebook

I just noticed that my time-line has reported my new life event: “started working at retired.” Thank God, here I thought I was only wasting my time.

TODAY’S QUOTE:
“Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
Lauren Bacall

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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The Good Gay Poet Walt Whitman.

“God is a mean-spirited, pugnacious bully bent on revenge against His children for failing to live up to his impossible standards.”
― Walt Whitman

Categories: July through September 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Papa Joe 0001 (September 28, 2012)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

First things first; my most recent blog post for Smart+Connected Communities Institute has been published. It is about technological improvements in earthquake warning systems instituted by California’s Seismic Safety Commission. Click here if you would think you might be interested in reading it. Even if you are not interested in it click anyway (several times if you feel up to it) so that they may feel encouraged to continue to employ me.

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Alas my time here in California is rapidly approaching its end. I will leave for Florida on September 29 and then in quick succession on to DC, NY and Italy before returning to Thailand sometime around the third week in October.

Since returning to Sacramento, I have resumed my nanny duties, usually with little to distinguish one day from the next.

On Saturday I spent my morning at a local coffee house. Weekend mornings brings parents from the surrounding subdivisions taking their children there for breakfast. While waiting on line to give my order, the man in the line in front of me with two sub-seven year olds in tow, having heard the man in line behind me call out the name of one of his own three sub-seven year olds, commented to him that he thought it was an unusual name (I did not hear the name). The other man explained that he was a wine collector and had named all his children after wines. This one he explained was one of his favorite varietals grown in Napa Valley.

Later that day, Dick, Hayden and I traveled to the Mekouleme Hill ranch of Congressman John Garamendi for his annual BBQ. On the way we stopped at Bill and Naida’s ranch in Rancho Murietta because I wanted to say goodbye to them before leaving for Thailand. Both Bill and Naida looked remarkably well. That made me happy.

While at the ranch we toured Bill’s classic car collection that included this wonderful Woody:
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Bill also had a classic red pickup from the 50’s that I lusted for. All of his cars are up for sale, if any of you are interested.

After leaving the ranch we travelled down route 49 that bisects the “Gold Country” and stopped at a place in Jackson called “Fat Freddy’s” where we sat at the counter eating lunch washed down with malted milkshakes and listened to the woman behind the counter’s stories about Jackson Phil (as opposed to Phil Jackson the legendary Lakers basketball coach) the legendary gold hoarding squirrel who stole one nugget too many and is now stuffed and adorns a shelf on the wall behind the counter.

We eventually arrived at the Garamendi ranch. The festivities featured country and western music, gold panning, petting zoos, aging politicians and more. The following is a photograph of Hayden on the tractor posing with the Congressman himself.
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I remember him (Garamendi) from his first days in the State legislature in December 1974. He had come to Senator Jerry Smith’s office to be mentored in legislative process because Smith was assigned as his mentor. I thought he was a dick-head. Someone described him as a real boy-scout. Like I said a dick-head. Since then I am told he has mellowed out a lot.

After spending some time at the event reminiscing with Norbert and Stevie, we left and returned home.

The next day I watched the 49rs lose, plunging me into such deep depression that it required me to lie in bed and sulk for the rest of the day.

During the following week I settled back into executing my nanny and chauffeur duties and began packing for my departure on Friday. As usual, contemplation of leaving someplace where I have become relatively content made me sad enough to mist my eyes now and then as I folded my clothing into the suitcase. Nevertheless, the idea of staying here too much longer filled me with as much dread as leaving did sadness.

On Thursday morning we headed off to the courthouse in Placerville in hopes that this morning’s hearing would end the child custody case. Opposing counsel had notified us that repeated attempts to contact the petitioner for instruction regarding a response to our motion to dismiss failed and he had no choice but to not appear at the hearing. At the hearing the petitioner, without notification to anyone, called into the court and claimed no knowledge of his attorney’s attempts to contact him. The judge put the hearing off until the second week in October to allow petitioner to straighten things out with his attorney or to find new counsel.

The law is pretty clear on the subject. If a woman is married at the time the child is born, the husband at the time is the presumed father. In general the presumption is absolute unless the party wishing to be declared father can demonstrate an intimate nurturing relationship with the child the sundering of which would be catastrophic for the child’s well being. I cannot see how Petitioner reaches the threshold required in the published opinions to overcome the presumption. It seems to me that seven years of taking no for an answer does not an intimate parental relationship make.

While waiting for our case to come up on the agenda, we listened to a hearing on a dispute between a husband and his wife. It seems that the husband, who has an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Arizona, and his girlfriend, a medical marijuana user who admits to being stoned day and night, are living in the house that the wife previous lived in with the husband. The husband has not paid on the mortgage for 18 months or so and the mortgage company has not moved to evict him because the house is worth less than the mortgage. The wife, who has a series of arrests of her own on her record for shoplifting and other things, is pissed and wants the husband to be forced to sell the house and pay rent somewhere. When the judge hesitated, the wife produced a letter from a doctor claiming the loving couple’s 41/2 year old daughter had been sexually abused presumably while spending time with the husband and the stoner. The judge said he will have to read everything before deciding anything. Sheriff’s deputies had been called to protect the wife because the girl friend had made physical threats against the wife.

Humans are a fascinating species. I am convinced God created us because he or she (I refuse to take sides on the issue of God’s gender — although the Good Humor Man of my youth [see below] was always male) found presiding over the rest of the universe dreadfully dull and craved some amusement.

Later on in the day I took Hayden to his Taekwondo class. Sometimes parents while waiting for their children to finish their lessons read magazines and books to while away the time rather than to stare at their white uniformed loved ones jump around and grunt in make-believe mayhem. The place has accumulated a fairly well stocked library of bad novels and back issues of People Magazine left behind by the proud but bored parents. For the last few sessions, I had been reading a well thumbed through novel by John Gresham entitled The Bleachers and serendipitously I finished it up that but evening.

I normally avoid anything by Gresham. He writes with a very well written drab spare stylessness that passes for a style. His characters are one dimensional defined by the events around them. I think of him a similar to Elmore Leonard but without the wit and the humor. This novel was not his usual mystery, but a tear jerker for males about ex-football jocks returning to their small town to await the death of their high school coach. It was good enough to make me cry now and then. I like to cry when I read.

The following morning I hugged Hayden before he went off to school and we said our goodbyes. I cried some more. Than I left Sacramento on the first leg of my trip that may even eventually take me back to Thailand for the next few months.

TODAY’S MISLEADING FACTOID:
Graphic unavailable at this time
The yield per acre for wheat in England, France, and Germany and the yield for rice in Japan. These top-producing countries for the two most important cereals for direct human consumption have failed in the last 10 or more years to increase productivity.

(This chart was used by one of my otherwise generally reliable analysts, Jeremy Grantham, as evidence of one of the inevitable crises exacerbated by the effects of climate change and population growth; the leveling off of productivity increases for major food crops eventually breeding shortages and rising prices. [Grantham is an investment advisor after all.] What is misleading about this graph is that it shows the leveling off in four countries whose populations are not growing. Left unstated is whether or not per acre crop yields are increasing in countries with growing populations or whether additional acres of farm land are being devoted to these food crops in response to rising demand.

I expect crop yields are not increasing in any way as much as they did during the so-called “Green Revolution” of 30 or so years ago that, by keeping agricultural prices low, staved off wide spread social dislocation that could have been caused by rampant population growth at the time . Yes, hunger is a question of cost every bit as much as it is a question of ethics.

Similarly, I suspect that removal of crop land from production due to urbanization and climate change more than balances the unused acreage put into production due to the promise of higher prices.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. The Hundred-and-nineteenth Calypso of Bokonon (Vonnegut):

“Where’s my good old gang done gone?”
I heard a man say.
I whispered in that sad man’s ear,
“Your gang’s done gone away.”

B. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
snapshot_051412_2.jpg
C. What Republicans say about Republicans:

Want to know just how crazy all sides — including mine — in this “hell debate” are? Watch the movie “Hellbound?” and take a peek into the asylum that is housing the people who are destroying the world. They now own a major political party and are running a Mormon opportunist who believes in nothing and his Ayn Rand/Jesus/God-nut sidekick who believes in way too much and who wants to take what little the poor have away in the name of opportunity.
Frank Schaeffer. His father was one of the founders of what we now know as the Religious Right in this country, and he write about his experience growing up in that family in the superbly written Crazy for God.

D. Electioneering:
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E. Testosterone Chronicles (“Men, Who Needs Them” Edition):

When I explained this (the biological irrelevancy of men to human species reproduction) to a female colleague and asked her if she thought that there was yet anything irreplaceable about men, she answered, “They’re entertaining.”
Taken from the NY Times opinion page article, Men, Who Needs Them? By Greg Hampikian.

The entertainment quality of men in general, in my opinion, is highly overrated.
F. Investment advice for those of us who are so foolish as to invest in anything Wall Street is peddling:

20 Ways Wall Street is Ripping Off Small Investors:

1. Providing nominal returns, not real returns.

2. Encouraging too much diversification, if that’s possible.

3. Hiding fees and expenses.

4. Turning you into a passive investor.

5. Convincing you that money markets are the same as cash.

6. Telling you that bonds are safer than equities.

7. Explaining that in the long run equities outperform bonds.

8. Simply by lying about their products.

9. Convincing you that their bank is a large, stable, safe operation to deal with.

10. Recommending products that have enormous sales commissions attached to them.

11. Cheating you on bid/ask spreads.

12. Selling you what they don’t want.

13. Measuring your success in dollars.

14. Lending your securities to others.

15. Ripping your eyes out if you ever try to close your account.

16. Grabbing any slight positive real return for themselves.

17. Sticking toxic waste to small investors.

18. Pretending they can pick stocks.

19. Acting like they are your best friend and they have your best interests at heart.

20. Knowing next to nothing about the value of holding real assets like gold and real estate.
John R. Talbott is a bestselling author and financial consultant to families whose books predicted the housing crash, the banking crisis and the global economic collapse.

TODAY’S QUOTE:
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I always liked Wilde. That one could write a passable jail-house poem, a reasonably good book, insult everyone, dress like he did and still become famous even before the creation of the internet, confirms my belief that God is the ultimate humorist.

Speaking of God and humor, did you know that while growing up I always thought that God was the Good Humor man. [For those that get this — you are showing your age.] Every afternoon the Good Humor man rang his bells in front of my house. The sound of those bells filled me with hope. Would your God do as much for you?

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S CARTOON:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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This is accurate except that it omits the importance of Occam’s Razor to scientific theory. That is, in its most basic terms, Occam requires that the simplest explanation that accounts for all the observable facts be preferred over the more complicated [However, as Einstein pointed out, “Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler.”.

Nevertheless, Occam’s Razor does not apply to fantasy, religion, politics, economics or sales. Perhaps it should, but if it did so, those worthy examples of human endeavor probably would soon disappear. I would miss fantasy though.

Categories: July through September 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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