This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 35 JoJo 0005 (June 19, 2016)

 

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

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On Saturday, Dick suggested a drive through an area of the foothills I had not visited before. I welcomed the diversion because I had become desperately bored spending my days in the Golden Hills without even HRM’s antics to divert me. Also, spending hours alone allowed me the time to pathologically dwell on my health problems, every twinge a creeping threat every small pain a message of more to come.

We set off down Latrobe Road.  Latrobe, as the main rail head 150 years ago, used to be the center of things in the area  until new roads and rail lines bypassed it. Now all that remains is a few stores and a gas station.
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I always liked this drive. As I watched the lonesome beauty of the oak-studded foothills pass by, I remembered long ago stopping by the side of a road like this, sneaking through the fence and climbing to the top of some gold carpeted hill. We lay in the shade of an oak tree drinking wine, eating some bread and cheese and smoking a joint. Later, beneath a cloudless sky, we made love. I was not very good at it. Not the drinking of the wine or eating the cheese, I was always good at those. Over the years, I learned the importance of pleasing your partner. It doesn’t just happen because you are in love or whatever. It no longer matters now, alas.

We turned east further into the foothills of Amador County and passed through some tiny hamlets I had never seen before.
IMG_1940
Small wineries began to appear here and there some with elegant restaurants attached.
IMG_1943

The wine region did not consist of large valleys filled with vineyards like in Napa, or the Dordogne or the rolling hills of Tuscany, but looked more like the vineyards of the Apennines — the crossing of a pine covered ridge into a tiny valley with a few vineyards then over the next ridge to another valley and more vineyards.

IMG_1946
Eventually, we arrived our destination, the town of El Dorado and a one-time biker bar now tourist attraction for aging ex-bikers named Poor Red’s. Poor Red’s was originally built as a weigh station for Wells Fargo. It was called Kelly’s Bar from 1927 until around 1945. A guy named “Poor Red” won the bar in a game of dice, and he and his wife “Rich Opal” took it over soon after. They ran it for many years until recently when Poor Red and Rich Opal were convicted of tax evasion. They now are serving time in prison and a new owner runs the place. The Gold Cadillac cocktail was invented here and the place is reputed to be the largest purveyor of the Italian liquor Galliano in the world — not much of a claim to fame but good enough for a tiny town in the foothills. After downing their signature drink and eating a not too bad pulled pork sandwich, we returned home.
Pasted Graphic
During the past few days, something occurred interesting enough that it prompted me to want to record it here. I decided to first spend a few days thinking over how I would write about it. Alas, I then forgot what it was that got me so excited. So, I decided to go to the movies instead.

The first movie I saw was Neighbors. I thought it was just meh. Two days later I went to see Nice Guys and liked it a lot. It was good to see a movie with clever patter to go along with an enjoyably unbelievable plot. A lot of people died. That was ok since most of them were bad guys and it was a comedy after all. I liked Russell Crowe as a fat PI — there was something Wellsian (Orson not H. G. ) about him. i then watched “my Cousin Vinny” on television for the umpteenth time and fell in love with Marisa Tomei once more.

After spending several days watching movies, staring at my computer screen and worrying about the health of my kidneys, I decided it was time for me to get away for a few days, so I left for Mendocino.

 

B. NONNA TERESA MAKES A BREAK FOR FREEDOM:

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Recently I got news that my 98 or 99-year-old mother (my sister and I disagree about her actual age and my mom refuses to tell us) fell and injured her head while trying to break out of the nursing home at which she resides. She was taken to the hospital where she had two stitches inserted in her forehead. She returned to her bed in the nursing home not too much the worse for wear.

A couple of years ago I read a novel entitled “The One-Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Ran Away.” It told the story about a 100 year-old-man who ran away from his nursing home as they were preparing to celebrate his 100th birthday. He fell in with a group of criminals, grifters, and a sympathetic cop, made a lot of money and ended up living in Indonesia or someplace like that with his 70-year-old Thai girlfriend.

I always suspected that should my mom ever successfully break out of confinement, she would probably immediately organize a criminal gang of her own made up old ladies specializing in shoplifting and random muggings. She would then take her ill-gotten gains and settle down with her boyfriend in someplace like Colma in an apartment above a restaurant named “Nona Teresa’s Eggplant and Ditalini House.”

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The senseless tragedy in Orlando Florida saddens me — people slaughtered only because of whom they chose to love. Once again in America, an angry young man armed with a gun murdered a bunch of people he did not know because he did not like or approve of them for some reason or other. Shame on us.

What is worse, I am neither shocked nor horrified. I fear I (and perhaps many of us) am becoming inured to this senseless mayhem. Mass murder with guns is to be expected in today’s America. It has become as constant as the tides. Yet, we do nothing. Shame on us.

We are urged by those who profit from the nation’s sorrow, to pick up guns to defend ourselves in order to be able to kill those we do not like and fear before they do so to us. Alas, in all likelihood, this will all end only when the last of us kills the last of them and they pry our guns from both of our cold dead hands. Shame on us.

We live in a reign of terror where we never know if or when some young man with hate in his heart and a gun will turn that gun on us or on our children. Shame on us.

And yet, our government that under the Constitution is charged with ensuring “domestic tranquility” does nothing while many of our elected representatives tell us that this same Constitution requires this reign of terror in order to preserve our freedom and liberty. Shame on us.

I am sure we all have noticed that rarely does an angry young woman pick up a gun and slaughter a bunch of innocent people solely because she does not like something about what they believe or who they choose to love. Perhaps we are approaching gun control all wrong. Of the almost 1000 mass shootings in America since Sandy Hook all, every single one, has been carried out by a man (one San Bernardino, he had a female accomplice). Maybe only women should be allowed to possess and carry guns. Not only might this eliminate these horrid mass killings, but reduce the incidence of rape and domestic violence as well

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Since 1945, no independent country recognized by the UN has been conquered and wiped off the map.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 370). HarperCollins

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“By now it is clear to most thinking people that every decision we make on major public problems simply makes matters worse.”
Carroll Quigley in his review of Ferkiss “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis”,’1974.

 

B. Hierarchy of American belief in equality.

“Despite its proclamation of the equality of all men, the imagined order established by the Americans in 1776 also established a hierarchy. It created a hierarchy between men, who benefited from it, and women, whom it left disempowered. It created a hierarchy between whites, who enjoyed liberty, and blacks and American Indians, who were considered humans of a lesser type and therefore did not share in the equal rights of men. Many of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were slaveholders. They did not release their slaves upon signing the Declaration, nor did they consider themselves hypocrites. In their view, the rights of men had little to do with Negroes.”

“The American order also consecrated the hierarchy between rich and poor. Most Americans at that time had little problem with the inequality caused by wealthy parents passing their money and businesses on to their children. In their view, equality meant simply that the same laws applied to rich and poor. It had nothing to do with unemployment benefits, integrated education or health insurance. Liberty, too, carried very different connotations than it does today. In 1776, it did not mean that the disempowered (certainly not blacks or Indians or, God forbid, women) could gain and exercise power. It meant simply that the state could not, except in unusual circumstances, confiscate a citizen’s private property or tell him what to do with it.

The American order thereby upheld the hierarchy of wealth, which some thought was mandated by God and others viewed as representing the immutable laws of nature. Nature, it was claimed, rewarded merit with wealth while penalizing indolence. All the above-mentioned distinctions — between free persons and slaves, between whites and blacks, between rich and poor — are rooted in fictions.

Yet, it is an iron rule of history that every imagined hierarchy disavows its fictional origins and claims to be natural and inevitable. For instance, many people who have viewed the hierarchy of free persons and slaves as natural and correct have argued that slavery is not a human invention. Hammurabi saw it as ordained by the gods. Aristotle argued that slaves have a ‘slavish nature’ whereas free people have a ‘free nature’. Their status in society is merely a reflection of their innate nature.

Ask white supremacists about the racial hierarchy, and you are in for a pseudoscientific lecture concerning the biological differences between the races. You are likely to be told that there is something in Caucasian blood or genes that makes whites naturally more intelligent, moral and hardworking. Ask a diehard capitalist about the hierarchy of wealth, and you are likely to hear that it is the inevitable outcome of objective differences in abilities. The rich have more money, in this view, because they are more capable and diligent. No one should be bothered, then, if the wealthy get better health care, better education and better nutrition. The rich richly deserve every perk they enjoy.
Harari, Yuval Noah . Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 134). HarperCollins.

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The two great lies:

The first is, ‘if you work harder, you will have a better life” — For some perhaps but probably not you. For society as a whole. however, every time we passed the threshold where working longer and harder, such as during the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions, the health, happiness and yes even wealth of the mass of people declined. But, some would point out, it allowed us to produce and accommodate far more of us. A questionable benefit if there ever was one.

The second lie is,“If we work harder, our children will have a better life.” Again yes for some, but, historically, for most the benefits were short-lived and eventually many of the children lived worse lives.

So what does this tell us? Work less, spend more time with your families and friends, live frugally replacing things with experiences, have fewer children with more adults caring for and loving them.

 

D. Today’s Poem:

“One day I wrote her name upon the strand
But came the waves and washed it away
Again I write it with a second hand
But came the tide and made my pains his prey.”
Edmund Spenser

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.”
Aaron Burr

 

 

 

A LITTLE SOMETHING FROM JOE HILL:

Long-haired preachers come out every night
To tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
But when asked how about something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
That’s a lie

And the starvation army they play
They sing and they clap and they pray
‘ Till they get all your coin on the drum
Then they’ll tell you when you’re on the bum:

You’re gonna eat, bye and bye, poor boy
In that glorious land above the sky, way up high
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die
Dirty lie

Holy Rollers and jumpers come out
They holler, they jump, Lord, they shout
Give your money to Jesus they say
He will cure all troubles today

And you will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky, way up high
Work and pray, boy, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

If you fight hard for children and wife
Try to get something good in this life
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell
When you die you will sure go to hell

You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die

Workingmen of all countries, unite
Side by side we for freedom will fight
When this world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain:

Well, you will eat, bye and bye
When you’ve learned how to cook and to fry
Chop some wood, it’ll do you good
You will eat in the sweet bye and bye

Yes you’ll eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky, way up high
Work and pray, and live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die
That’s a lie….
Joe Hill, 1910

 

Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 JoJo 0005 (June 11, 2016)

 

“Justice ought to be a synonym for mercy, not an alternative
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize) (p. 215). Little, Brown and Company.
Happy Birthdays to Bill Yeates, my daughter Jessica and my mom (Nona Teresa).

Remember July 15 is National Be a Dork Day.
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Hold the Door, Hodor. R.I.P.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:

Hot weather has struck the Golden Hills this week. The green grass has begun to show off its flaxen locks. The trees seem to bend beneath the weight of the sullen sun.

The Indomitable Oak Haiku

Of all the trees here,
the indomitable oak
Is my favorite.

A few weeks ago at my pre-travel medical checkup, they found urine in my kidneys and so I now carry around a catheter and bag. It is uncomfortable in the heat but, thankfully, will be removed well before I depart.

As far as my summer travels are concerned, it appears that instead of visiting Sicily after my sojourn through Milan, Sacile, Rome, and Sabina, I will be spending a week or so in Copenhagen and Malmo Sweden before departing for Thailand. The entire trip to Europe seems a bit too hectic for my tastes.

HRM, Dick and I spend our evenings agonizing over the Warriors’ playoff games. After the game, Dick and I would watch episodes of the Alec Gluiness’, Smiley Series. It really is time for me to begin traveling again and get a life .

The temperature has soared to over 100 degrees now for several days — close to boiling the piss in my urine bag. I had not checked the temperature at the beginning of the heat wave. Thinking it was only about 80 degrees, I persuaded myself that I was suffering heat flashes and exhaustion prior to my imminent demise. It was a relief discovering that I was expiring from simple heat stroke instead of some disgusting malady buried deep within my body.

One day, I went to a bar in Town Center named “The Relish Bar.” It specializes in serving hotdogs and hamburgers along with its drinks. I sat at the bar instead of one of the tables and ordered a hotdog with mustard and relish and a craft beer they had on tap. Next to me sat a woman with long straight brown hair. She was young, probably in her early twenties. In front of he was a half eaten hotdog smothered in ketchup, relish and sauerkraut and a whiskey of some sort on the rocks. I am highly prejudiced against people who put ketchup on their hotdogs so I decided to ignore her.

My order arrived and as I lifted my hotdog to my mouth I heard a sob. I glanced at the woman and noticed she seemed to be crying. “Mixing sauerkraut with ketchup will do that to you,” I thought. Nevertheless, I turned toward her and asked, “Is something wrong miss?” She turned towards me, a few strands of hair falling in front of her face, eyes fear wide with tears and said, “I don’t want to have to move to Canada.”

The catheter did not remedy the problem. So, I now have to submit to a series of tests and examinations. As a result, I had to cancel my trip to Italy and Sweden. I am disappointed to miss visiting friends and family in Italy and my trip to Sweden and Denmark. On the other hand, I was quite happy to avoid traveling with SWAC. So I hugged HRM and bid them both goodbye and left for Mendocino and the film festival.

Sadness at leaving
The ones who brighten our days
Makes journeys longer.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Equipped with a new more comfortable urine bag, I hit the road to Mendocino stopping for a few hours in Petaluma to visit with Neal Fishman and his wife Maxine. Both Maxine and Neal worked with me at the Coastal Conservancy. He became the highly effective legislative liaison for the Conservancy.

We often forget that the real heroes omf a movement or an organization are those who labor at moving them ahead at critical points. Following my agreement with the Speaker to place 300 million in the first of a series of bond acts, Neal was instrumental in securing an additional billion dollars more in several park and open space bond acts that enabled the Conservancy to save much of the open space and develop many of the restoration projects that have preserved and enhanced coastal resources for all of us. His intelligence, openness, and understanding of legislators concerns helped make the Conservancy trusted on both sides of the political divide.

After leaving them, I drove on to my sister’s house, dropped off my things and walked to the theater to see the first film, “Jaco” about the great and tragic bass guitarist Jaco Pistorius. The next day I saw a film entitled “Trash Dance,” a documentary about dancing garbage men and women exposing their equipment. Both movies were entertaining despite the annoying tendency of most documentaries to interrupt the story line with interminable interviews.

Later, we attended a birthday party at the house of the Llama people (they breed llamas) next door to my sister where we ate magnificent paella made by the paella lady.
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Llamas always remind me of the Ogden Nash Poem:

The Lama
The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.*
— Ogden Nash

Two days later, I left for San Francisco and my mom’s birthday party. My sister and I disagree about her age. She maintains mom was born in 1918 and I believe it was 1917. In either case Happy Birthday mom.
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Birthdays for the old
Like flowers in the springtime
Vibrant but too brief.

Then back to the Golden Hills and my medical tests.
* to which Nash appended the footnote,
“The author’s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.”

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

In previous posts, I explored the Federal Government debt-deficit definitions and history. (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/national-debt-and-deficit/ and http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/02/14/1485087/-National-Debt-and-Budget-Deficits).

This post examines the historical size of interest payments on the Federal Debt and their impact on the Government’s ability to manage its budget. I hope it is easy to understand and possibly corrects some of the hysteria and misstatements on all sides about the Country’s ability to service its debt and its impact on governmental programs and national security.

Perhaps the most significant concept to keep in mind is how the interest on this debt relates to income. One of the easiest ways to understand this is to think about it in reference to a person’s household debt. Basically, it is not how much debt you have but whether your income is sufficient to meet the periodic payments to pay off your debt and allow you to retain enough money live a good and decent life and you expect that income not to change dramatically for the worse all of a sudden.

Now, some recent history:

1. Interest payments on the Federal Debt as a percentage of total federal outlays:

According to a White House report on the budget released in 2014 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/ap_4_borrowing.pdf) the following are Interest payments on the National Debt as a percentage of total federal outlays at the beginning of each decade since 1950:

1950 (About end of Truman Administration) interest payment on Federal Debt amounted to 11.4 percent of all Federal Government spending.

By 1960 at the end of Eisenhower’s reign it had dropped to 8.5 percent.

1970, despite costs of the Vietnam War during this decade (through the Kennedy, Johnson, and half of Nixon’s administration), it had decreased to 7.9 percent .

By 1980, when Reagan assumed office, the ratio of interest payments to debt had increased to 10.6 percent largely because the inflation crisis of the 1970s increased borrowing costs.

Despite the end of the inflation crisis, by 1985, about half way through the Reagan administration, it had ballooned to 16.2 percent of Federal outlays where it remained until Clinton took office.

In 2000, when Clinton left office, it had fallen to 13 percent.

By 2014, it had further decreased to 7.4 percent where it has more or less hovered since.

So, today the ratio of interest payments on the Federal Debt to total federal outlays is among lowest it has been since 1950 (except for the early years of the Bush II administration as they used up the Clinton budget surplus).
2. Interest Rates as a percentage of Gross National Product (GNP)

Perhaps more significant is the ratio of interest payments to GNP.

Interest payments on the Federal Debt as a percentage of GNP stood at 1.7 percent in 1950 and held relatively steady until 1980 when Reagan assumed the presidency. In 5 years it ballooned to 3.6 percent. Beginning with the Clinton Administration, It has steadily fallen until reaching 1.4 percent just before the Great Recession after which it grew to 1.8 percent by 2015. In great part, the recent growth was held in check by historically low-interest rates.

To conclude, it appears the ability of the Federal Government to pay our debts remains more or less equivalent to its ability to pay its debts at any time in the last 65 years or so and substantially better than during the Reagan years. So, the sky is not falling.

If there is something to be worried about, it is the explosive growth of private debt especially household debt. Government debt has not grown much over the years and when it has it has usually been to bail out overextended private Financial and Corporate interests of to fund a war.

 

So what about the future?

There are estimates that, if we do nothing, by 2020 Federal Debt interest payments as a percentage of total Federal outlays will rise to 12.4 percent and to 2.7 percent of GNP. High but still lower than during the Reagan years when it was “Morning in America.”

Nevertheless, perhaps, something should be done to moderate that potential rise. Cutting Federal Spending seems unlikely. As the following chart indicates, Defense spending, Medicare and Social Security seem to make up an outsized portion of Federal spending. Cutting Food Stamps may please some people and assist others in their re-election but they have no significant effect on either the deficit or the debt. Democrats will riot in the streets to prevent tampering with Medicare and Social Security while Republicans, the Military Industrial Complex and a few Democrats will fight to the death to prevent the cutting of a favored military system.

www.usnews

So what to do?

Well, modestly raising taxes on non-productive income and wealth such as capital gains could probably do wonders.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

I regret that in my last T&T I did not notify everyone that several years back, I had declared May 8 PUN DAY. A quick check of the internet turned up May 15 as Pun Day based on an algorithm that measured how many times Pun Day was mentioned on social media. In the UK, it falls on February 8. Other days also have been proposed. Austin Texas held an O’Henry Pun-Off World Championship on May 16.

Anyway, I wrote the following:

PUN DAY
During my travels, like many who go on vacation, I like to send to close and not too close friends emails (today’s postcards) regaling them of my good fortune in traveling the world and their ill-luck at being forced, for whatever reason, to remain at home. Not too long ago, I settled for a while in Jomtien Beach, Thailand and began to send out an incessant stream or emails regarding my new life. During a particularly frustrating period of trying to adjust to life there, I received a few emails from some of my correspondents commenting that my recent emails dwelled too much on the difficulties of my ex-pat life and were becoming a bit of a downer.

Although I thought I was just providing a humorous take on the foibles of my current situation, I took the criticism seriously and I realize that perhaps I may have fallen into a rut. So one morning when I awoke I decided to do something different and declared that day May 8, Pun Day.

I got the idea for this, as I usually get most of my ideas, from one of my favorite authors William Kotzwinkle. As with Henry David Thoreau, he is a favorite of mine — not necessarily because of his literary output (Although he did write the screenplay for “ET the Extraterrestrial” and the stories for the “Walter the Farting Dog” series) but for the audacity of attempting a literary career with a name like Kotzwinkle.

Anyway, in his novel “The Fan Man,” about an archetypical New Yorker who, during the hot sticky days of the New York City summer, travelled about the City holding in front of him one of those little battery operated fans to cool himself off (Hence “The Fan Man” in case you have not already guessed). In one of the chapters of the book our Fan Man wakes up and declares that day to be “Dorky Day” in which he would only speak the word Dorky throughout the day [By the way for those with interest is such things Dork is a common and respected name for boys in Armenia]. The remainder of the chapter, for about 10 to 12 pages, consists exclusively of the word Dorky repeated endlessly (Dorky,Dorky, Dorky… for those who may need help visualizing) broken only by the variously perplexed or angry responses of the other citizens of the City whose paths may have crossed that of our hero on that day.

Shakespeare must have eaten his heart out. Can you imagine what the world of the theater would have been had Hamlet instead of “The play’s the thing, in which we’ll catch the conscience of the King,” announced, “today is Dorky Day?”

Anyway, Pun Day comes also from one of my other literary mentors, Cuzin Irwin (to whom I beg forgiveness) who sent me the following:

it’s Snow White’s birthday.
The dwarves buy her a camera as a present.
She is ecstatic and takes pictures of everything she sees.

She takes the film in to be developed.
She goes back the next day to pick the pictures up.
The man behind the counter shakes his head as if to say, “No”.

Snow White cries.
The man behind the counter says
“Don’t worry Snow White, someday your prints will come.”

And for all you Snow Whites out there, may you prints come soon, but please always use protection or you may end up with a Kotzwinkle.

Have Pun.

Ciao…
Alas, with the coming of the smartphone, poor Snow White’s prints never did arrive. So, she went home with an Android.

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

A. The politics of race and age:

The Tea Party is overwhelmingly white (89 percent, in fact). 75 percent of Tea Partiers are 45 years old or older, moreover, roughly 60 percent are men. It is a movement of and for old white men.

B. Blame the immigrant is as old as America:

“The first known outbreak of yellow fever had occurred in 1703, before its malignancy even had a name. It was simply called “the great sickness.” The blame that first summer fell on a ship from St. Thomas that arrived in Manhattan peculiarly close to the beginning of the outbreak. Ever since, suspicion attached itself to these “vessels from one of the sickly ports of the West Indies.”
Collins, Paul. Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America’s First Sensational Murder Mystery. Crown/Archetype.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. A Story about the First Moon Landing:

“On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon. In the months leading up to their expedition, the Apollo II astronauts trained in a remote moon-like desert in the western the western United States. The area is home to several Native American communities, and there is a story – or legend – describing an encounter between the astronauts and one of the locals.

One day as they were training, the astronauts came across an old Native American. The man asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they were part of a research expedition that would shortly travel to explore the moon. When the old man heard that, he fell silent for a few moments, and then asked the astronauts if they could do him a favor.

‘What do you want?’ they asked?

‘Well,’ said the old man, ‘the people of my tribe believe that holy spirits live on the moon. I was wondering if you could pass an important message to them from my people.’

‘What’s the message?’ asked the astronauts?

The man uttered something in his tribal language, and then asked the astronauts to repeat it again and again until they had memorized it correctly.

‘What does it mean?’ asked the astronauts?

‘Oh, I cannot tell you. It’s a secret that only our tribe and the moon spirits are allowed to know.’

When they returned to their base, the astronauts searched and searched until they found someone who could speak the tribal language, and asked him to translate the secret message. When they repeated what they had memorized, the translator started to laugh uproariously. When he calmed down, the astronauts asked him what it meant. The man explained that the sentence they had memorized so carefully said, ‘Don’t believe a single word these people are telling you. They have come to steal your lands.’
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 287). HarperCollins.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

1. I think it was Darwin who pointed out that one’s chances of surviving to breed are greatly diminished by disparaging the size of someone’s junk when that other person is carrying a machete.
2. Alas, the purpose of electoral politics in a democracy, such as ours, often seems to be to instill fear into the ignorant, ill-informed, naive and hopeless and to persuade them that they can become part of a great movement to find and eradicate whatever causes that fear.

It also seems that whenever the politics of fear overflows, it would be an appropriate remedy to choose as a leader of government someone chary of simple solutions with unknown consequences and repulsed by the cascading wall of emotions directed at punishing those whom the fearful have been led to believe are responsible for their problems.

C. Today’s Poem:

Jumping Off a Rock — “Haiku”

I jump off a rock.
The wind rushes by my face.
A splash of water.
By HRM

D. Today’s Psychobabble:

The four stages of competence:

1. Unconscious incompetence:

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

2. Conscious incompetence:

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

3. Conscious competence:

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

4. Unconscious competence:

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

I have always preferred to settle my life into Unconscious Incompetence and leave consciousness to those believing there is a benefit in competence.

 

Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 JoJo 0005 (May 20, 2016)

“Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 390). HarperCollins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Complaining about the weather in California is like someone who makes $250,000 a year telling you how hard it is to make ends meet. I understand what they mean but have a hard time sympathizing.

For about a ten days or so here in the Golden Hills of El Dorado the skies have been mostly overcast with a light rain now and then punctuated by the light show that accompanies wonderfully loud thunderstorms. Because I still fear the thunder, I pull the sheets up about my ears.

One day, the internet router stopped working leaving me unable to access Facebook, HRM could not get into YouTube and Dick well… whatever. We desperately searched for the cause — unsuccessfully. It reminded me of many years ago running around the house with the Rabbit Ears, trying to clear the dreaded snow from the television screen so that I could watch Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.

Anyway, I ended up calling India or someplace like that where someone who I could barely understand re-booted the router and tried to sell me an application that he promised would allow me to fix it on my own in the future.

My plans for the summer continue to be unresolved. So far all that is settled is that I will leave on June 4 for Mendocino, then depart for Milan on the June 9. After that who knows. Sometime at the end of June or even early July, I will travel to Thailand and stay there for one or two months.

Jason and I are looking to buy a home in the Sabina area of Italy. This is the one we seem to have settled on. It has two bedrooms and comes with 57 producing commercial olive trees
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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

I have been reconsidering the presidential primary elections now that the number of candidates has been reduced to two and one-half. I used to think this year’s primary process was absurd and have written some snarky pieces about them here and elsewhere. The ridiculous behavior of many of the candidates and the vicious conduct of many of their supporters have turned the process of electing a President into an embarrassment for the electorate as the candidates and their groupies descend from schoolboy taunts to vicious and misleading attacks. Nevertheless, I suspect, something has emerged that transcends the words and policies of the candidates. Something that may be more revolutionary.

With Trump, what separated him from his primary opponents seems to be his appeal to the white male working class, frustrated at the bleakness of their lives. He promises them, at least, the comfort of symbols — pride, flag, country and a God of sorts. On the other side, Sanders has also attracted in great numbers the young white males, in his case from the intellectual elite and middle classes. White males, no longer the dominant voting block, have become a swing group. Still powerful because their interests or fantasies are reflected in the bias of the media to a far greater extent than the interests or fantasies of any other segment of the electorate — women, the young, the old, other defined minorities and so on.

In the middle, Clinton seems the favorite of women and most of those groups deemed non-white. All three candidates have focused their policies and appeals primarily on those groups who see in them the solution to their concerns about our society and their role in it. In other words, on one side there are the concerns and interests of women and the non-white minorities and on the other the white males divided into two groups by ideology and social standing.

The hatred of white males toward Clinton is unprecedented. Those supporting Trump and Sanders seem to be saying that somewhere there may a woman who could be acceptable to us but just not this one, even if most women disagree.

This Presidential election seems to be more or less a replay of the last two, except where the liberal white males joined in with minority voters and women to enable a black man to win they now are adrift and threaten not to vote if their choice is not nominated. Since American elections are decided not by who votes but who does not vote, these voters threaten to sit the election out to throw away their votes thereby effectively joining forces with those white males energized to vote for the candidate of the party they usually oppose.

Trump has no real policies to better the lives of his supporters. He does, however, assure them a balm to their fears and a slice of pride. Bernie, on the other hand, promises an updated traditional New Deal type Democratic solution to certain long-simmering economic problems. He is not particularly focused on the social issues faced by minorities and women.

Clinton, unlike the other two candidates who concentrate on a few hot-button issues that appeal to their primarily white male supporters, understands the job of a President encompasses much more than a simplistic appeal to the concerns of their primary support groups (e.g., Targeting Immigrants and Muslims or wall street and the rich). Nevertheless, she has her own support groups, women, non-white minorities and children on whom she focusses her attention. And that is her revolution.

It is not whether she is acceptable to white males (or males in general) because she speaks out on issues they believe important (like for example, Warren does about Wall Street or say Bachman on immigrants) that matters, but her concentration on female empowerment, something most men either fear or do not understand. It is not enough, for example, to restore Glass-Steagall to law and leave the male hierarchy intact in order to ameliorate the discomfort both the Trump and Sanders supporters have with Wall Street’s domination of the economy and the political process. Her revolution is her determination that the board rooms should also be dominated by women and minorities (preferably female minorities) and the hedge funds be run by women managers. Take a look at her proposal for the Federal Reserve. It calls not simply for the removal of the bankers on the boards, a proposal on which both she and Bernie agree, but their replacement by women and minorities so that the board looks and acts more like America. This is the revolution.

These have always been a central theme of Clinton’s policies ever since she first stepped into the public arena. If she is successful, it promises to become the major and most lasting revolution of the millennium.

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

While trolling through back issues of T&T, I came across a report of the following conversation I had with HRM in 2012 as we were driving back from the Bay Area after some medical tests:

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

He said:

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

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

Who knew?

A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.
Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of ‘This and that…’ would permit them to fall within the class of no one.”

4-up on 3-1-13 at 6.18 PM

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Today, the earth’s continents are home to billions of Sapiens. If you took all these people and put them on a large set of scales, their combined mass would be about 300 million tons. If you then took all our domesticated farmyard animals – cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens – and placed them on an even larger set of scales, their mass would amount to about 700 million tons. In contrast, the combined mass of all surviving large wild animals – from porcupines and penguins to elephants and whales – is less than 100 million tons. Our children’s books, our iconography, and our TV screens are still full of giraffes, wolves and chimpanzees, but the real world has very few of them left. There are about 80,000 giraffes in the world, compared to 1.5 billion cattle; only 200,000 wolves, compared to 400 million domesticated dogs; only 250,000 chimpanzees – in contrast to billions of humans. Humankind really has taken over the world.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 350). HarperCollins.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Simple Psychology: Dunning—Kruger Effect.

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer an illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

In my experience, the D—K effect among highly skilled individuals is their mistaken assessment of their ability to explain what they do to themselves as well as to the so-called relatively unskilled.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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 has been developed by men to benefit men.

C. Today’s Poem:
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Sculpture of the poet Taliesin on permanent loan to the Order of Sancta Sophia, Pennal.

“I have been many things,
Before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow multi-colored sword.
I have been a tear in the air.
I have lived as the faintest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
A book among words.”*
Taliesin, 500 ACE
(*My revisions to translation).

The Birth of Taliesin:
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Ceridwen and Gwion Bach by Tim Rossiter.

“The magical story of Taliesin (t-ah l-ee eh-sin) – Hanes Taliesin – begins with the goddess Ceridwen (KEH-rihd-wehn) stirring her Cauldron over her cooking fire. Ceridwen is the triple-goddess in her form as elder or ‘crone’. Her Cauldron is the source of everything, for she is God in the aspect of Creator. At this point, the Cauldron is the source of poetic inspiration (awen in Welsh) and of all wisdom and knowledge. She has her son Gwion Bach (which might be translated “Little Man-ling”) stir and watch the pot. Accidentally, three drops fall from the Cauldron onto Gwion’s thumb, and he sucks his thumb. With this act he becomes filled with all knowledge – and, seeing danger ahead for himself, scurries.

There follows a magic hunt, in which Ceridwen chases Gwion, Gwion shape-shifts into a hare, then an otter, then a bird, and Ceridwen shape-shifts in pursuit. Gwion then becomes an ear of grain and Ceridwen turns herself into a hen and eats him. The symbolic meaning is fairly transparent: Gwion, the archetypal Human Person, acquiring a little wisdom, flees from fire (the cauldron) via earth (hare), water (otter) and air (bird), all of them changing forms within the great cosmic delusion of Creation (hence, “shape shifting”); but the Divine Mother is in constant pursuit, ever coaxing Her child back to Herself. Eventually, the Human becomes totally humble, submitting himself to a state of being (one grain) in which he can be wholly absorbed into the Divine Consciousness…….

…..and, as often happens in a story when grain is a symbol, he is reborn. The Hanes Taliesin tells us that Gwion now spends nine months in the womb of Ceridwen and is then reborn as Taliesin. Ceridwen wills neither to keep him nor to kill him, so she leaves him in a basket by Gwyddno’s royal salmon weir. There he is found by Prince Elffin, son of King Gwyddno Garanhir of Ceredigion.

Elffin is frustrated. He was there, allowed to fish for salmon for the first time in his life, and instead of catching any he caught this darned baby. The baby Taliesin immediately sings Elffin a poem, in which he proclaims himself “loquacious though not yet able to speak” (reminiscent of Krishna’s comparably surprising day-of-birth speech to his father), informs him “I was once little Gwion Bach but now I am Taliesin”, and promises the young prince that he will one day be worth more to him than even as inconceivably big a day’s catch as three hundred salmon.”
https://kingarthursomerset.wordpress.com/about/

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Is it possible that the relationship between humanity and evil is similar to the relationship between the ocean and an iceberg floating on its surface? Both the ocean and the iceberg are made of the same material. That the iceberg seems separate is only because it is in a different form. In reality, it is but a part of the vast ocean.… It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.”
Liu, Cixin. The Three-Body Problem (p. 28). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

his and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Capt. Coast 0005 (May 4, 2016)

T

“History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was plowing fields and carrying water.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 101). HarperCollins.

Today, May 4, is Star Wars’ Day (see below).

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

It is April 15 and little has happened of note other than the passage of time. The sun seems to have made it beyond the spring clouds; morning follows night; things measured only by emotions; sleep disturbed by dreams. The great Elizabethan theatrical producer and sometime writer wrote, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” (The Tempest Act 4, scene 1) It is beyond rounded, more like impregnated the way ricotta impregnates cannoli filling. We sleep at night and often move through the day like we are still asleep, the mind wandering on its merry way as it does at night with little connection to the world around us. We live our stories, those narratives we tell ourselves until we pass beyond our service area.

It has been a week since I wrote the above. Things have happened but I have forgotten them. Perhaps, I wrote some down here but for some reason, they got erased. Anyway, it is raining today and I decided to skip exercise at the health club and stay indoors lying in bed snacking on grapes and Hostess Chocolate Cup Cakes while I type this.

One day, I went for a walk on the “New York Trail” near my house. Along the trail, there are signs warning of mountain lions. There is one area that the trail passes through that I especially fear that mountain lions are hidden in the bushes. Below is a photograph of that stretch of trail. I usually turn back when I reach here. I did so again that day.

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Later in the week, Lena arrived in Sacramento. I met her there and took her to tour the State Capitol which she had never seen. She was thrilled with the restoration of the building and took many photographs. Then I accompanied her on a walk through Capitol Park beneath my beloved trees. She was less thrilled. We then went to the Crocker Museum where an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s portraits was on display. I preferred the nineteenth-century landscapes that make up most of the museum’s permanent collection.
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So, for about a week now I have suffered with a slight, but still miserable, cold. Last night was the worst — waking up coughing, raw throat, burning eyes sleeping fitfully with disturbing dreams. Finally toward morning following a rather disturbing event that I will not go into, I found myself traveling in the desert.

I was riding a bicycle pulling a small wagon loaded with camping equipment and a bottle of vodka. The desert landscape resembled the Burning Man in its early days, little encampments of shaggy people constructing oddly shaped dreams from refuse. I came across one that appeared to be a twisted derrick with a pod of some sort attached to it. As I approached, a bearded figure sitting in the crane shouted, “We are going to the moon.” And with that, the pod detached and shot up into the sky. I could see it contained a person since it had metal limbs extending from the pod. It was very exciting.

The pod, so high it was barely visible, circled the desert. Suddenly, it plummeted to earth, plunging behind a small building. The ugly loud crash startled a nearby flock of crows cawing into the air. I felt terrible.

The crows circled the small building for a while then returned to their roosts. From behind the building, a small woman, not elfin and slender, but broad-faced and broad-bodied came running trailing pieces of the pod behind her. She passed me with a big smile on her face shouting, “I made it! I made it!” With that, I decided it was a good point to wake up and start the day. And so I did.

While swimming one day, I noticed in the sky a wispy cloud that looked like the ghost horse (Pooka) all skeletal tattered and menacing. It disturbed me. Not because I am superstitious but because it forced me to stop and persuade myself that I wasn’t.
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Today while driving HRM to school he told me that it was Star Wars Day. “May the Fourth be with You.”

B. BOOK REPORT:

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British Warriors

I have just finished reading the last novel in Bernard Cornwall’s trilogy about King Arthur. Previously, I read the first nine novels of his series set in the time of King Alfred of England and his immediate descendants. While both series can be classed as historical novels, they each concern the life of a made up hero who has an out of proportion impact on the affairs of the kings and times they tell about.

We know that at the end of the Fifth and the beginning or the Sixth Centuries a warlord with the name of Arthur lived. We also know that during that time the Saxon invasion of England was temporarily halted and about a generation of relative peace followed. All the rest is legend and surmise.
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Arthur

Britain had a population of about 4 million throughout the Roman ascendancy. It collapsed to about 2 million within a few decades following the Roman legions departure. Many people left Britain along with the military. Some were Roman elite who returned with the armies to the remnant of the empire. Many others, the Celtic aristocracy primarily, emigrated to Brittany and Galicia in Spain. Most of the others died of disease, hunger and slaughter as civic order collapsed.

The Saxon migrations into the rapidly depopulating England, during the two hundred or so years it lasted, totaled only about 30 to 50 thousand people. The warbands on both sides rarely were larger than 100 or so armed men, not much bigger than a modern biker gang. They terrorized the small hamlets (about 50 families each) that made up most of the villages in the depopulated country. They killed the men raped the women and stole whatever goods the people may have had, until they realized that they could increase their profits by offering the villagers, for a price, protection from other biker gangs and, more likely, protection from themselves. With the extra money, they paid those who were better at playing the harp than fighting to make up songs about how great they were.
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British habitations following departure of Romans
Into this chaos rode Arthur and his 20 or so henchmen riding large war horses (Dark Ages Harleys) and engaged the Saxon gangs in a series of lightning raids into their turf. The horses were probably descendants of the mounts of the Samaritan cataphracts (Heavily armed mounted troops from Samaria) that the Romans imported to Britain to pacify the country.
I find it interesting that following the conquest of Britain by the Romans, they brought in an alien ruling elite and superior social organization but left the indigenous population subservient but intact. Relative peace and prosperity reigned over the island for four hundred years. Following the departure of the Romans, the native Britons fought amongst themselves until the Saxons arrived with their war of extinction. About 100 years following the peace Arthur secured after his victory at Mount Badon, the Saxons succeeded in driving the Britons into the mountains of Cornwall and Wales. Then, for about two hundred years, the Saxons fought amongst themselves until they also were faced with a war of extinction from Danish invaders. Alfred halted the invasion and his decedents pushed them back until about 100 years later the Normans conquered them all, Saxons, Danes and ultimately Britons, bringing in a ruling class that provided superior social organization and relative peace for the subservient indigenous population for the next 400 years or so — by then almost everyone thought they were English.

Anyway, all the novels were good old swords and a little sorcery along with a lot of grunting and killing in battles and more killing and raping after the battles ended and a lot of drinking of mead and ale and more killing and raping and a lot of oaths pledged and broken and Kings and Queens and starving and diseased peasants and so on.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

PETRILLO’S MUSINGS:

Adam Smith’s stated that “The profits of production must be reinvested in increasing production.”

I would assume from that that the good A. Smith may have agreed that if the profits of production go into building up wealth and not reinvested in increasing production, it is not Capitalism or a capitalist system but rather something else — perhaps something more like the royal system he lived in where the profits of production went to increasing the wealth of the entitled classes or into rent based assets.

Similarly, the debt and credit system are not Capitalism. They existed long before Capitalism developed. They proved exceptionally helpful and often assisted in increasing production but the bankers need for timely repayment is not the same as the investors wish for profit and may at times suppress production in order to satisfy the need for repayment. Also, as we have seen in the past 50 years or so, the bank based financial system encouraged the replacement of production with production-less wealth creation, thus requiring government to periodically step in to boost confidence by transferring public wealth in order to prop up the banks thereby making non-production based assets even more valuable. In effect, companies producing goods can fail but banks producing paper wealth cannot. I always felt that the banking system, since it often in the long run substitutes debt and credit for investment, risk and the reinvestment of the profits into increasing production is the anthesis of Capitalism.

Corporations are not Capitalism. They are a state sponsored scheme to encourage investment in production that investors would otherwise consider too risky. True, like debt and credit they may be helpful and perhaps essential in increasing production but they also have downsides. Investors having significantly limited liabilities as well as microscopic ownership interests leave operational oversight, to management, a few large investors, and various investor agents all of whom may have and often do have interests other than increasing production. They also, in the long run, substitute organizational preservation to production. Reinvestment of the profits of production in increasing production becomes a far lower priority to keeping Wall Street happy.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

‘Kushim!’ is the first recorded name in History. He was an accountant in Mesopotamia somewhere about 5000 or more years ago. It is interesting and telling that the first recorded name in history belongs to an accountant, rather than a prophet, a poet or a great conqueror. The second name we know from about the same time in Gal-Sal. He was a slave owner and the next two names we know about were his slaves En-pap X and Sukkalgir. So the first people whose names we know of were an accountant, a slave owner, and two slaves — no heroes and no Kings. The first King’s name showed up a couple of generations later.

What this shows is that little has changed in 5000 years. The world is still run by accountants, business owners (slave owners) and workers (slaves), Kings, Heroes, and Prophets are just entertainment.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Religious Thoughts:

No one knows if God exists.
No one knows if He does not exist.

In the beginning ,there was the Singularity. The Singularity became the Universe.
The Universe generated life.
Life evolved in complexity and awareness until it delivered a symbol using, self-aware entity we call Humanity.
Humanity then ordered its perception of everything into the known, the Empirical and into the unknown, the Belief and the ethical, the Moral.
The empirical system most complex, organized and integrated we call “Science”.
The belief system most comprehensive we call “Religion”.
The unknown is infinite.
The known is ever expanding and evolving.
Science and Religion are one and cannot conflict.
The unknown remains infinite as Science expands.
When Science discerned the earth was not the center of the universe religion continued unlimited.
Whoever claims that the fruits of Science are wrong because they conflict with Religion are wrong.
All things change and evolve, the form evolves, the science evolves, the religion evolves. Even God evolves.
Humanity enunciated (developed) the prime Moral rule, “Do good and avoid evil”. All religious sects agree.
Humanity put forth the means to carry out the prime rule, “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you,” Most religious sects have enunciated this rule in one form or another.
It means the individual measures the rule.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Humans and domesticated animals are two of nature’s evolutionary success stories. Unfortunately for domesticated animals, there is only too often a vast discrepancy between evolutionary success and individual suffering.”

C. Today’s Poem:

A young man’s plea for the return of his wife

“Of marriage? Judge, I want to say,
It’s deep and homeward, safe and soft,
As evening birds make to their loft,
Or horses to their beds of hay.”

“Of women I knew nothing deep;
I lived alone and worked my fields,
And fed my cattle, milked their yields,
And nightly, wearied, laid to sleep.

But I believed that man needs more,
And so I set myself to learn
Of marriage, everywhere I turned,
By watching couples evermore.

I saw young men with beardless cheeks
Dancing with their shining brides.
I saw old gray-haired men besides
Look fond as though they’d wed but weeks.

And then I thought and thought so much
Of what Life needs to make it pure,
I understood man must be sure,
Yet tender with his loving touch,

And never coarse and never mere,
Watchful that he do his duty,
Husband, lover, to his beauty,
Trusted guardian of his dear.

I thought and thought of how I might,
Love a woman who would give,
Her hand to me and come and live
Beneath my roof from morn till night.

I found a woman, sweet and pretty,
Good of nature, clear of eye,
Kind in spirit, soft of sigh,
Who didn’t need me to be witty,

Who knew that I could love with force,
Who judged my feelings were sincere,
Who sensed that I would hold her dear,
Who saw I was an untapped source

Of kindness, warmth and deep affection,
Care and conscientious thought,
Who believed a true man ought
Give his wife his best protection.

She married me, I married her,
A day of days, the sun shone brighter,
Our hearts, we found, were never lighter,
And then I knew it—love’s the spur.”

“For the short time we were married,
I did my best to love this girl,
I never grizzled like a churl,
And always made sure that I carried

Heavy weights, like sacks or logs
Or furniture from room to room,
I combed the horses with the groom,
And fed the cats, the birds, the dogs.

The other matters that I tended,
Sweeter things that women need,
A lovely flower, a glass of mead,
A smile to praise a garment mended.

I ate her food with hearty joy,
I chose for her the finest leather,
For boots to brave inclement weather,
Loved her hearty or when coy.

If I came into the house,
And she stood there, unawares,
I chased her laughing up the stairs
And kissed her neck, soft as a mouse.

Every night I held her close,
Stroked her softly, caresses deep,
Smoothed her forehead, and in sleep,
Held her safely till she rose.

As I speak these words this morning,
It must sound as though I brag,
But my motive is to drag
My hurt heart out of its mourning.”

“The truth is, judge, I lost my lady
Not to any man who’s moral.
Pretty soon he’ll pick a quarrel,
And he’ll dump her somewhere shady.

But if she’ll come and take my arm,
I’ll so love her, so regard her,
Do my best to work much harder,
Even try and learn some charm.

I may be dull and somewhat boring,
But I love her perfect skin,
And the way she tilts her chin,
And her little whispered snoring.

I love the way her tiny hand,
Can crack a nut, or milk a cow,
I love above all that she knows how
To draw pictures in the sand

Of faces, insects, beasts, and birds,
And writes rhymes that never scan.
She whistles better than a man;
I love her sense of the absurd.

We dwelt quietly on a hill…
I’m an ordinary man…
Her body’s soft, much softer than
A fledgling’s—God, I love her still.”

Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 203). HarperCollins.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally, they reach a point where they can’t live without it.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 87).

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Joey 0005 (April 13, 2016)

“If you find yourself thinking in circles, stop thinking.”
Wight, Will. Of Dawn and Darkness (The Elder Empire: Sea Book 2). Hidden Gnome Publishing.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:

So, I returned to Kirkwood with my grandson Anthony who was to give a skiing lesson to a truly remarkable three-year-old. I also met their equally remarkable parents, a Thai couple who fled Thailand to avoid an arranged marriage and spent weeks homeless in Detroit. He eventually got his engineering Master’s Degree and she completed her education also. At some point, they moved to California where she works at Stanford Hospital in the Neurology Department and he quit his job to become a full-time house-husband.
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We spent the evening in a comfortable cabin with a great view.
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Since then it has been back to the same old grind, in between driving HRM to and from school, I swim, nap, eat and read. Sometimes I drive HRM to his Flag Football games and to his Basketball training.
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One day, with little else to do, we visited The Serpentarium to search out a replacement for Puff the Bearded Dragon.

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Not at night, however, is my existence so peaceful. My dreams are not nightmares since there is no fire breathing mare bearing down on me, no fear of injury or death, just hopelessness and a suffocating frustration. I drift, not knowing if I am awake or not until I hear my heartbeat and feel the room around me.

A few posts ago, I wrote a poem, The Night of the Succubus. While I drift in my half-wakened state, I feel as though I had just encountered it in those dreams leaving me exhausted and disturbed. Often I cannot get back to sleep for hours. Strangely, unlike my usual dreams they disappear from my memory almost instantly when I wake up — gone without leaving a story behind, only dread.

A few days ago, I realized that a memory I had cherished was fake. Many years ago I lived in Little Italy in New York City, on the top of a seven-story walk up while attending Law School. After I passed the bar and began to try cases, whenever I would win at trial (and I always did) in the nearby law courts, I would walk to Vincent’s for a dish of Calamari covered their hottest hot sauce (it was almost purple) and begin my drinking for the night. Little Italy, where I also remember nights walking down the steps to the mob run Blue Grotto for Lobster Fra Diavola and fried mozzarella.

I also carried other memories of Little Italy — its tiny restaurants in a covered bazaar with Chinese produce markets next door — travels with my grandfather to meet relatives on a side street, Mafiosi all, silent unsmiling men and stern-faced women. These last two memories I realized were only dreams I thought were real. Dreams I had carried throughout my adult life as real to me as anything I had experienced. Gone now.

Will my memories, one by one, prove to be fakes and disappear until none remain when I die? Perhaps it’s that I have been dreaming about these past few days.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto — Update.

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About 4 years ago, I wrote a series of humorous and not so humorous posts about us, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, that we, in a fit or pathological grandiosity named ourselves and that can be translated as Wise Wise Men, Very Smart Guys, Wise wise Guys, Smarty Smarty Pants, Smart Asses and so on. We needed to repeat Sapiens twice because we discovered guys, way back when, who looked pretty much exactly like us but seemed to be not so smart so we added another Smart to make sure no one confused us with them. And, before I forget, we called ourselves Homo, Man, and not human or men and women, or us even, because in the beginning, most of this stuff was written by men who liked to use a dead language to show that they were very smart and you weren’t and that women were not men and not worth a fig.

The previous posts were prompted by some new scientific discoveries about these wise guys and girls that had blown the minds of the Latin-spouting smarty, smarty pants (Homo Sap. Saps.) The first discovery was that although there were a number of what the Latin-spouting smarty pants named Homo something or other living at the time Smarty, smarty pants dropped by, such as, Homo floresiensis [Flower man from Borneo or someplace like that. Only three feet tall and perhaps an early Leprechaun or Hobbit]; Homo Erectus [Erect man — don’t think to hard about this]; Homo tsaichangensis [The guys from Taiwan]; Homo neanderthalensis [The big German guys]; Homo rhodesiensis [Our man in Rhodesia or Zimbabwe]; Homo sapiens idaltu [Fairly smart folks from Ethiopia {Tall too}]; Archaic Homo sapiens [Cro-Magnon or not so wise old people] and Red Deer Cave people [your guess is as good as mine], there lived someone in a cave in a God forsaken part of Russia, without a Latin name. Well, this shook everyone up who was into this sort of thing. After all, who knows how many people were out there at that time without Latin names. Anyway, they gave her and her people the temporary name Denisovans after the God-forsaken cave they found her in entertaining some big Germans and Wise Wise Men and who knows what else.
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Oh, and by the way she was obviously a her and that’s really when the bones began to hit the fan.

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Deni Denisova herself.

You see, at about the same time, DNA sequencing (similar to NSA spying but smaller) became all the rage and someone decided to do a DNA sequencing on Deni’s (my name for her) knucklebone and tooth, about all of her they found, to see if they could discover something and become famous on social media. And oh did they find something!
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Deni’s Tooth — One can tell by the state of her tooth Deni chose another profession over becoming a dental hygienist.

First, we have to understand that perhaps three or four hundred years ago some guy living in Europe decided it would be good and perhaps even biblical to give all living things Latin names. And it would be even better to divide them between those that looked a lot alike but each thought the other was so ugly they did not want to breed unless it was closing time and they were both blind drunk and if they did, their children, if there even were some, would be so screwed up they would avoid bars altogether. These they called species another Latin word meaning species. For example, in the Genus (see below) that includes Horses, Donkeys, and Zebras, we know that horses find donkeys as ugly and sin and vice versa, but should they be forced into it would produce an unwanted bundle of joy that would be a mule and have no Latin name and no prospects.

The other word was genus which meant all the species that looked more alike than they looked like others. Then they gathered all these genuses into something called Families for some reason and Families into other Latin names and so on. But, we do not have to concern ourselves with that now.

So, what was the surprise? Well, even though my old college professor Carroll Quigley said it was not so, most of the Latin namers believed the various Homo’s ( By the way, having realized that more than half of the members of the species were not men which is what the Latin word homo means they tried very hard to make amends by insisting Homo really meant “human or something else or changing it to something like hominoid (mannoid) all of which remains, at best, problematical solutions to repairing bruised egos.) Anyway, they believed these species thought each other unredeemablely ugly and so avoided having children with them or at best played lonely shepherd in the night.

Well, low and behold, what they discovered was that Deni was keeping a cave for more than just getting in out of the cold. Not only was Deni offering her services to those hunky but low brow Germans, but us, or at least our long dead grandparents as well. Later, we discovered our long ago grandmothers and grandfathers were doing it with the Hunky Germans and God knows who else also. It seems that about 60,000 years ago those caves were the hookup bars of the Stone Age.
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It was bad enough to find out that our ancient grandparents did not honor family values but that the parts of our genes our brawny cousins gave us were often the best, like our immunological resistance. Since it was not too long after this that our cousins disappeared, it perhaps could be argued that the portions of DNA we gave them was similar in effect to the small-pox the Europeans gifted the Native Americans with.

Since then there have been additional developments, perhaps not so momentous, but those will have to wait for my next post.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Some have asked where the name Pookie came from. I have explained that when HRM was a little over one-year-old, I used to call him ‘pookie’ whenever I came home from work. He, thinking I was saying my name, began calling me Pookie. So the name stuck to me and not to him.

But that begs the question — What is a Pookie? Well perhaps it comes from the old Irish word Pooka (or Phouka or Puca)

THE POOKA (PHOUKA, PUCA)
Pooka
Pooka

No fairy is more feared in Ireland than the pooka. This may be because it is always out and about after nightfall, creating harm and mischief, and because it can assume a variety of terrifying forms.

The guise in which it most often appears, however, is that of a sleek, dark horse with sulfurous yellow eyes and a long wild mane. In this form, it roams large areas of the countryside at night, tearing down fences and gates, scattering livestock in terror, trampling crops and generally doing damage around remote farms.

In remote areas of County Down, the pooka becomes a small, deformed goblin who demands a share of the crop at the end of the harvest: for this reason several strands, known as the ‘pooka’s share’, are left behind by the reapers.

In parts of County Laois, the pooka becomes a huge, hairy bogeyman who terrifies those abroad at night; In Waterford and Wexford, it appears as an eagle with a massive wingspan; In Roscommon, it appears as a black goat with curling horns.

The mere sight of the Pooka may prevent hens laying their eggs or cows giving milk, and it is the curse of all late night travelers as it is known to swoop them up onto its back and then throw them into muddy ditches or bog-holes. The pooka has the power of human speech, and it has been known to stop in front of certain houses and call out the names of those it wants to take upon its midnight dashes. If that person refuses, the pooka will vandalize their property because it is a very vindictive fairy.

The origins of the pooka are to some extent speculative. The name may come from the Scandinavian pook or puke, meaning ‘nature spirit’. Such beings were very capricious and had to be continually placated or they would create havoc in the countryside, destroying crops and causing illness among livestock. Alternatively, the horse cults prevalent throughout the early Celtic world may have provided the underlying motif for the nightmare steed.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Two great lies.

“If you work harder you will have a better life” — For some perhaps but probably not you. For society as a whole, however, every time we passed the threshold where working longer and harder were required, such as during the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions, the health, happiness and yes even wealth of the mass of people declined. Those who worked less, royalty, administrators, merchants and military fared much better. But, some would point out, there were far more of us. A questionable benefit if there ever was one.

“If we work harder our children will have a better life.” Again yes for some, but historically for most, the benefits were short-lived and eventually most of the children lived worse lives.

So what does this mean? Work less, spend more time with your families and friends, live frugally replacing things with experiences, have fewer children with more adults caring for and loving them.

B. Today’s Poem:

I Am Not Old

I am not old…she said
I am rare.
I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.
I am the retrospective
Of my life as art
I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense
I am the fullness
Of existing.
You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found
I am a treasure.
I am a map.
And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey
Ask me anything.
~ Samantha Reynolds ~

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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The Death of Cleopatra, painted by somebody with an overwrought imagination.

 

Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 8 Joey 0005 (March 29, 20160

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Trenz Pruca as a Young Mole Rat.

 

“Beware of women who do not sing and men who do not weep.”

Trenz Pruca

Happy St. Joseph’s Day to me! Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Happy Easter.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The sun has finally broken through the black and gray sky. Mushroom flocked lawns glisten green while formerly dry gullies shelter white-water torrents. I swam for two hours today in the cold air beneath cerulean skies dotted with drifting cotton-candy clouds. It was glorious.

Now that the recent rains have filled our reservoirs to overflowing, we are immediately barraged by calls to lift water saving rules notwithstanding the drought having demonstrated that water is a limited resource. This confirms once again that we humans seem incapable of resisting the urge to devour all available resources until they disappear and so do we. Living within our means does not appear to be part of our genetic code.

The dark cloud has packed her bags and flown across the Pacific allowing sunlight back into the house.

Today a woman showed up at the health club pool. She wore a metallic mini-bikini held together with silver dollar sized metal rings. I wondered how could she swim with all that metal. Thankfully she did not go into the water. Instead, she strutted around and sun bathed briefly. Some of the men puffed themselves up and also swaggered about. I felt as though I was watching a Quail mating ceremony. Since it seems about all I can puff up these days is my belly and my jowls, I did not join the party.

The health club cafe has a new owner, Cheyenne Rauda, a recent UC Davis graduate. She explained to me how she was going to change the place. It seems she intends to convert it into a more gourmet affair. Why would a second rate health club need gourmet food? I guess, like most alters, I’m beginning to find change unsettling. I asked her if she would agree to continue serving my favorite Tuscan Turkey sandwich. She agreed. I felt better.

A few more days of rain and then the sun returned from holiday somewhere. HRM began his spring vacation. We await Nikki’s arrival. He plans to take HRM to Lake Tahoe for a few days. I may go along if I can be back before Easter Sunday. I plan to drive into the City to spend the day with my mother and sister and whichever other relatives choose to join us.

HRM, Nikki and I went off to Lake Tahoe for four days of skiing. The first morning, on our way to Heavenly, at HRM’s insistence we stopped at an IHOP for breakfast. As we sat down, I heard from the booth behind us someone shout, “Papa Joe.” It was my grandson, Anthony. He was in Tahoe to give skiing lessons to a client. The next day he took HRM along with him on the slopes and managed to train him up from the bunny slopes to black diamond.
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After returning to EDH, I left for SF on Easter Sunday. My first stop in the City was for coffee with Peter followed by an Easter Egg hunt in his back yard.
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Then it was off to visit my 99-year-old mom followed by stops at the homes of several grandchildren and a return to EDH.

B. Book Report:

On March 17, while roaming through the Amazon website, I came across a book by Frank Delaney entitled “Ireland: A Novel” about Irish stories and storytelling.

My memories Ireland have always been magical ever since that day many years ago when I was sitting in a pub somewhere in Kerry drinking a half and half. Beside me, a man slept slumped over the bar. He suddenly woke up and turned to me — hair wild, sticking out here and there like shards of glass, face red and lumpy, watery grey-blue eyes and missing a few teeth behind a stubbled jaw.

“De ye know how d’Irish lost da battle o d’Boyne?” he said to me in a brogue so thick I could barely understand him. He then launched into an hour-long tale of King Billy with his shining armor and King Jimmy who ran away — about the last minute fording of the river by the English cavalry preventing the out manned and out gunned Irish from achieving a stunning victory and changing history. I was enthralled.

Weeks later, standing on the hill at Newgrange overlooking that same Boyne winding through the green far below, I could, in my mind, see the wounded King Billy riding off after being shot by the Irish gunners, rallying his troops to victory and the silver river turning red with blood.

I turned from that scene and entered Newgrange, the massive 6000-year-old structure older than the Pyramids, older than Stonehenge (no one claimed it was built by aliens either). Bending low, I followed the long dark tunnel (people could freely enter then) to the large room in the center where no light penetrated.

On the longest night of the year, the winter Solstice, whoever it was that may have worshiped there so long ago gathered and awaited the dawn. Upon the sun’s first breasting of the horizon, a shaft of light would flash through a passage above the tunnel and illuminate the chamber in a brilliant magical glow. How wonderful, I thought, it must have been for those from a society bereft of movies, social media, books and the like to gather here once a year and experience such splendor.

Anyway, that and my fondness for storytelling prompted me to order the book and begin reading it on my Kindle. As strange as it may seem, it was not until later that I realized that it was also Saint Patricks Day.

I found the novel delightful. It contains a series of tales told by an itinerant storyteller. The stories about Ireland include The Architect of Newgrange, King Connor’s Comeuppance, Saint Patrick Drives the Snakes along with the Devil from Ireland, Brendan Discovers America, and Finn McCool’s Wedding.

“THE GREAT IRISH WARRIOR, FINN MACCOOL, had the longest arms and the fastest legs and the fairest hair and the bluest eyes and the broadest shoulders and the soundest digestion of any man ever living. He was a god, a leader, a warrior, a hunter, and a thinker. And he was a poet.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 152). HarperCollins.

(Hmm, by “soundest digestion” did the storyteller mean the ability to eat everything from rusty nails to spoiled meat or was he focused on the other end of the digestive tract, stools, neither watery nor hard as rocks?)

All these tales were linked in the novel by the account of a young man’s obsession with stories and storytelling and his long search for the itinerant storyteller who he had met in 1951 when he was still a child. Although the storyteller relates most of the tales, the young man does also, including an appealing story about Brian Boru.

There is a wonderful lecture by the fictitious but delightful history professor T. Bartlett Ryle, who loved Spenser’s poetry but hated his harsh treatment of his beloved Irish. The lecture given at his first class with his new students may be one of the most amusing expositions of what the story of history is and is not. It begins:

“THE MOST DISGRACEFULLY NEGLECTED PERIOD of Irish history stretches from the year seven-ninety-five to the year eleven-seventy. Those dates are in what many people call the Dark Ages. I am not one of those people. And I sincerely doubt that any of your teachers has clearly defined the centuries of the Dark Ages, so let us strap them down here and now. Most of the stuff that’s spoken about that era is good enough to grow roses in.”

“I dislike the term Dark Ages. Day by day, ancient texts, and archaeology’s finds are brightening those centuries, and it may well prove to be the case that one day the Ages won’t deserve to be called Dark anymore. The word you should be searching for is medieval. In my lectures you’ll hear only the terms early medieval, high medieval, and late medieval. Let me see nothing else in your essays. You may write about the sexing of chickens—there’s deep sympathy around here for that sort of thing. You may write about the effect of drought upon a toper. You may write about the fate of maiden ladies who work in bishops’ houses. But you may not write about the Dark Ages.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 229). HarperCollins.

He goes on:

“So: old Irish, Vikings, and Normans—three people on one island; my purpose here is to pick a way for you through that mixture and give you a teaching our history since the Normans that’ll render you fit to go forth, marry decently, raise a family, live to a ripe old age, evacuate your bowels no more than once daily, cultivate your garden, or if you prefer, spend your life in low dives, gambling on two flies climbing up a wall while drinking cheap liquor imported from Rumania. I hope you’re still with me—in spirit if not in spite.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 232). HarperCollins.

Santayana’s statement that “Those who do not remember history are forced to repeat it” is partially true. We humans, singly or collectively, seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. We also suffer from our common tendency to concentrate on the minutia we understand and avoid where we can the difficult complexities. For example, the introduction of the steel plow, the internal combustion engine or the transistor may have changed everything but we still went about our lives and politics obsessed with the same things we have always been obsessed with, among which is how to control and ultimately consume all the resources necessary for us live and our species to survive.

“When politicians and those who observe them consider matters, they frequently fall into the trap of assuming—hopefully, or desperately, depending which side they’re on—that a status quo may last forever. They forget what changes things—events. That’s what all politics are changed by—events.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 234). HarperCollins.

The young man, Ronan by name, goes on to become a storyteller himself wandering the byways, homes and pubs of the country where, in return for shelter food and some Guinness and Irish whisky, he told stories of old Ireland, of its heroes and its villains, its suffering and triumphs even about Kings Billy and Jimmy at the famous Battle of the Boyne.

“We merge our myths with our facts according to our feelings, we tell ourselves our own story. And no matter what we are told, we choose what we believe. All “truths” are only our truths because we bring to the “facts” our feelings, our experiences, our wishes. Thus, storytelling—from wherever it comes—forms a layer in the foundation of the world; and glinting in it we see the trace elements of every tribe on earth.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

It is a fundamental aspect of Economic Democracy, that there be ready availability of critical fundamental information about a nation’s economy and its distribution. It is simple, wealth, like military might, and for that matter religious ideology should not be permitted to manipulate the public well-being for its own purposes because its purposes are inconsistent with that of democracy. The founders of this nation recognized the danger to a free society posed by militarism and religious sectarianism and attempted to address it in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other fundamental documents of this country that make up our social contract. Those protections are now under intense attack and must be resisted.

Also, it is time to further that work by establishing additional rights to protect the individual from what Teddy Roosevelt called the “Malefactors of Great Wealth”. Just as it allows the free exercise of religion and the implied ability to protect ourselves from militarily imposed tyranny from within and without, our fundamental declaration of rights must include the protection of the individual and the social contract from those individuals and institutions of great wealth and political power whose interests are not consistent with the liberty of the individual citizen. Abolishing our ability to take collective action through government as proposed by the Libertarians is as antithetical to Liberty as would be surrendering our right to a common defense against those who would otherwise impose their will on us.

With in mind, one of the statistics often relied upon by the media, government, and often economists to show the size of a nation’s economy,the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of similar measures, troubles me. It is often used to compare national economies as well as to demonstrate an economy’s growth over a period of time. Among the many reason for its inadequacy, one seems to me especially appropriate. GDP is a gross number that includes the cumulative effects of population growth. Since in most advanced economies population growth has stagnated or is even declining, it would be better, I believe, for purposes of comparison and growth to show the GDP per person in an economy along with its relative distribution.

In this way, policymakers can concentrate on, or be forced by the public informed by these figures, to concentrate on distribution and individual economic growth.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another.

(If the above is true, then it is normal human behavior to consider oneself a fraudulent dip-shit. Similarly, we can now safely assume that those who appear supremely confident are likely suffering from a significant personality disorder.)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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 even with numbers.

B. Today’s Poem:

I Held A Shelley Manuscript by Gregory Corso

My hands did numb to beauty
as they reached into Death and tightened!

O sovereign was my touch
upon the tan-inks’ fragile page!

Quickly, my eyes moved quickly,
sought for smell for dust for lace
for dry hair!

I would have taken the page
breathing in the crime!
For no evidence have I wrung from dreams–
yet what triumph is there in private credence?

Often, in some steep ancestral book,
when I find myself entangled with leopard-apples
and torched-skin mushrooms,
my cypressean skein outreaches the recorded age
and I, as though tipping a pitcher of milk,
pour secrecy upon the dying page.

(Did you know that Shelley (Percy B.) used to stand by the side of the road and toss copies of his poems through the open windows of the carriages as they drove by? Corso (Nunzio G.), on the other hand, liked mushrooms.)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In the past, the United States has sometimes, kind of sardonically, been described as a one-party state: the business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That’s no longer true. It’s still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is moderate Republicans, who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic [sic] Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.”
Norm Chomsky

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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The beginning of the successful rebellion by the Irish against England, Easter Monday morning April the Twenty-Fourth, 1916

 

Interestingly, both the IRA and the Provos were terrorist organizations that killed many innocent people (even, I believe, in the US) and engaged in a long protracted war against a trusted ally for 80 years or more. I do not recall any calls for a war against Christians or for a halt to immigration from Europe because those immigrants might include terrorists.

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Cold Tits 0005 (March 14, 2016)

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“Your mind, never active at anytime, is now even less than ever so. All I heard was a kind of rattle, unintelligible even to me who knew what was intended. I can’t go on, I’ll go on: You invent nothing, you think you are inventing, you think you are escaping, and all you do is stammer out your lesson. To every man his little cross. Till he dies. And is forgotten.”
Samuel Beckett

 

Happy Birthday Hayden

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S BRIEF ADVENTURE IN SAN FRANCISCO:

Every time I return to San Francisco, I am surprised at the changes to the City that have occurred since the last time I have been there — more high-rises, more coffee shops, more parks being re-landscaped, more people who do not dress like San Franciscans used to dress.

Anyway, I spent two nights with my son Jason and his family watching a sci-fi thriller and holding a small birthday party for my granddaughter Amanda (she is 11).
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A couple of afternoons with Peter Grenell sipping coffee at Bernie’s in Noe Valley talking old men’s talk and telling oft-repeated stories. One evening I traveled to Pacifica to hear his band “Blind Lemon Pledge” play at Cheers, an interesting night spot in that coastal community.

Then, a lunch with the ever vivacious and interesting Kathleen Foote at a nice little restaurant on Market Street named “Alta” where she regaled me with stories of her recent trips to India and Cuba. All in all, it was a pleasant four days. Then it was off to the Golden hills — home again, home again jiggity jig.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Back to breakfast at Bella Bru, swimming through the pain, long naps, short walks, bitter memories, and dreams of what could have been. As Marcel Proust observed, ”Experiences are less real when you have them than when you either remember them or imagine them.” Ain’t that the truth?

Meanwhile, the Wicked Witch of the East pads up and down the hallways like a crazed cockroach searching for its ball of shit.

Today, I wait for the rain. It is supposed to last for six days. The skies are already a deepening gray. I think happy thoughts about its beneficial effects on the current drought in order to prepare myself for the horror of spending most of the week cooped up in a house with a deranged wraith. It could be worse, I guess. I could be just a metaphor.

Thinking of metaphors brings me back again to Samuel Beckett. There was a time when I voraciously devoured all his works. It was a time I was more depressed than usual. I could never tell whether Sam was cynical, depressed or suffering from some as yet unnamed personality disorder. My favorite novel of his was “Krapp’s Last Tape.” It fascinated me how someone, who in his plays rarely had his characters speak more than one word of dialogue whenever it was their time to declaim, could expend so many words on the subtle miseries of dying.

“It’s so nice to know where you’re going, in the early stages. It almost rids you of the wish to go there. There is man in his entirety, blaming his shoe when his foot is guilty. Don’t wait to be hunted to hide. What a joy to know where one is, and where one will stay, without being there. You wiser but not sadder, and I sadder but not wiser. I don’t understand how it can be endured.”
S. Beckett

Two days of low gray skies and little rain. Perhaps today is the day the skies open up and wash the Golden Hills down into the Great Green Valley.

I disagree with writers like Proust. If it can’t be boiled down to one sentence (or two if you are especially loquacious) then it’s probably not worth writing about. It is certainly not worth reading about.

The difference between Donald Trump and Adolph Hitler is that Hitler, at least, believed the shit he was saying.

It is hard to believe that one political party considers the primary qualification for President of the United States is the size of the candidate’s dick. Perhaps it has always been that way.

I constantly see comments in Facebook and social media from men claiming they don’t hate all women, just Hillary, and all you women will simply have to wait until one we white men approve of comes along.
On Sunday, thanks to Stevie and Norbert, I escaped to Lone Buffalo Winery in Ophir for their Buffalo Chili feast. Stevie also gave me the DVDs of the entire Montalbano television series. I can see hours in front of the TV in my future.

Monday was HRM’s birthday. He baked his own birthday cake.
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Alas, Puff the Bearded Dragon’s short life has ended. The vet said he was sold to us with a birth defect. Both H and I cried — he for Puff and I for him.

I have surprisingly actually completed writing a book. It is essentially a collection of some of the posts from my blogs. Now that I placed them into a word processor that prepares them for publication, I cannot get them out again to do so. Nor, can I figure out how to format it so that it produces one rather than two columns in the final draft. I guess, I have to content myself with the satisfaction of having completed something. I suppose this is a good thing since it avoids the embarrassment of having others read it.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

The Problem with Electric and Self-driving Automobiles:

I support the movement toward electric vehicles and self-driving automobiles. They are a necessary component of any comprehensive assault on the looming crisis of human-induced climate change. There is, however, an emerging problem that should be examined and solutions proposed and implemented— the sooner the better.

The automotive system in the United States, as it is in most countries, can be described as predominately individually owned vehicles operated on collectively owned and maintained public rights of way. In the US, this system of right of ways is funded, not from the government’s General Fund, but chiefly by a type of user tax based upon levies on gasoline and other petroleum products used to power the vehicles.

Since about the turn of the Century, miles driven per person have fallen consistently year after year. Increased mileage rates per gallon of gasoline have risen putting additional stress on the various Highway Trust Funds. Major replacement of aging bridges and tunnels must now use the government’s general funds if they are to be repaired at all.

What will happen to the nation’s roads and highways during the 2020s when electric cars and trucks are expected to make up significant portions of the vehicles using the nation’s roadways? They are now given a free ride. That cannot continue. Solutions should not wait for the crisis to occur that may leave the highway fund in a hole that it may never be able to fill.

Although there appear to be several credible ways to resolve this emerging problem, we are talking about changing a nation’s entire system for funding its most significant transportation network upon which its economy is based. It will take time to work out the politics, procedures, and technologies of any system we settle on.

We should be doing this now before not after the crisis hits us.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

According to a Gallup poll,18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Almost all of those that do, vote Republican and watch Fox News.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the seventh in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY. It discusses the relationship between security and power.

Security and Power

Introduction

“Just as our ideas on the nature of security are falsified by our limited experience as Americans, so our ideas are falsified by the fact that we have experienced security in the form of public authority and the modern state. We do not easily see that the state, especially in its modern sovereign form, is a rather recent innovation in the experience of Western civilization, not over a few centuries old. But 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.”

“For thousands of years, every person has been a nexus of emotional relationships, and, at the same time, he has been a nexus of economic relationships. In fact, these may be the same relationships which we look at from different points of view and regard them in the one case as emotional and in another case as economic. These same relationships, or other ones, form about each person a nexus of power relationships.”

“In the remote past, when all relationships through which a person expressed his life’s energies and obtained satisfaction of his human needs were much simpler than today, they were all private, personal, and fairly specific relationships. Now that some of these relationships, from the power point of view, have been rearranged and have become, to a great extent, public, impersonal, and abstract, we must not allow these changes to mislead us about their true nature or about the all-pervasive character of power in human affairs, especially in its ability to satisfy each person’s need for security.”

“The two problems which we face in this section are: what is the nature of power? And, what is the relationship between power and security? Other questions, such as how power operates or how power structures change in human societies, will require our attention later.”

The nature of power

“Power is simply the ability to obtain the acquiescence of another person’s will. Sometimes this is worded to read that power is the ability to obtain obedience, but this is a much higher level of power relationship. Such relationships may operate on many levels, but we could divide these into three. On the highest level is the ability to obtain full cooperation. On a somewhat lower level is obedience to specific orders, while, still lower, is simple acquiescence, which is hardly more than tacit permission to act without interference. All of these are power relationships which differ simply in the degree and kind of power needed to obtain them.”

The triple basis of power in our culture

“The power to which we refer here is itself complex and can be analyzed, in our society, into three aspects: (1) force; (2) wealth; and (3) persuasion. 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. Such a relationship may exist even among animals. Two bears who approach a laden blueberry bush will eat berries from opposite sides of the bush without interfering with each other, in tacit understanding that, if either tried to dispossess the other, the effort would give rise to a turmoil of conflicting force which would make enjoyment of the berries by either impossible. This is a power relationship based on economic reciprocity and will break down into conflict unless there is tacit mutual understanding as to where the dividing lines between their respective areas of operation lie. This significant subjective factor will be discussed later.”

“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. This is a point which has been consistently missed by the propaganda agencies of the United States government and is why such agencies have been so woefully unsuccessful despite expenditures of billions of dollars. Of course, it requires arguing from the opponent’s point of view, something Americans can rarely get themselves to do because they will rarely bother to discover what the opponent’s point of view is. The active use of such persuasion is called propaganda and, as practiced, is often futile because of a failure to see that the task has nothing to do directly with changing their ideas, but is concerned with getting them to recognize the compatibility between their ideas and our actions. Propaganda also has another function, which will be mentioned later and which helps to explain how the confusion just mentioned arose.”

“On its highest level, the ideological element in power becomes a question of morale. This is of the greatest importance in any power situation. It means that the actor himself is convinced of the correctness and inevitability of his actions to the degree that his conviction serves both to help him to act more successfully and to persuade the opposition that his (the actor’s) actions are in accordance with the way things should be. Strangely enough, this factor of morale, which we might like to reserve for men because of its spiritual or subjective quality, also operates among animals. A small bird will often be observed in summer successfully driving a crow or even a hawk away from its nest, and a dog who would not ordinarily fight at all will attack, often successfully, a much larger beast who intrudes onto his front steps or yard. This element of subjective conviction which we call morale is the most significant aspect of the ideological element in power relationships and shows the intimate relationship between the various elements of power from the way in which it strengthens both force and persuasion.”

“It also shows something else which contemporary thinkers are very reluctant to accept. That is the operation of natural law. For the fact that animals recognize the prescriptive rights to property, as shown in the fact that a much stronger beast will yield to a much weaker one on the latter’s home area, or that a hawk will allow a flycatcher to chase it from the area of the flycatcher’s nest, shows a recognition of property rights which implies a system of law among beasts. In fact, the singing of a bird (which is not for the edification of man or to attract a mate, but is a proclamation of a residence area to other birds of the same habits) is another example of the recognition of rights and thus of law among non-human life.”

“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.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

It seems to me that in the United States, the difference between conservatives and liberals comes down to the following:

Conservatives believe that Liberals are capable of preternatural genius in fomenting secret criminal conspiracies to assault what Conservatives are convinced is the fundamental rightness of their view of the world.

Liberals simply believe Conservatives are stupid.

 

C. Today’s Poems:

 

1. Bump by Spike Milligan

Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
Should not really give one a fright.
It’s the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!
2. THE BIG STORM, not by Spike Milligan

They say,
it is coming,
THE BIG STORM.
They say,
it will knock down bridges,
with its howling wind,
flood valleys,
scrape the earth from the hills
and end the drought.
They say,
it will do all of that and more.

I stare
through the window
at the grey-black sky
and wonder
if I will be disappointed.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“More and more often one was obliged to initiate an investigation by trying to sort out what the police had been up to. Not infrequently this proved harder than clearing up the actual case.”
Sjowall, Maj; Wahloo, Per. The Locked Room: A Martin Beck Police Mystery. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Cold Tits 0005 (February 24, 2016)

 

“Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo” (“I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”)
Epicurean epitaph

Happy Birthday, Giannantonio.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S CONTINUING ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

The Pygmy Forest.

One day I decided to hike through Mendocino’s Pygmy Forest Reserve. Saving the Pygmy Forest was what got me into coastal resource preservation many years ago. A chance meeting with John Olmstead beneath the shadow of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid caused me to spend the next fifteen years of my life trying to protect the coast of California. John, the grandson of Fredrick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame, is one of the unsung heroes of the conservation movement.

To be perfectly honest, when he showed me the scrawny little trees that made up the forest, I was less than impressed. But, after passionately explaining to me how they came to be and the importance of preserving the Mendocino Ecological Staircase, as he so poetically described it, on which they grew, I threw my hat into the ring so to speak.
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John was my idol. There was little he would not do, no amount of money he would borrow with little hope of paying it back, no lie, no level of begging he would stoop to, no machinations of government and individuals he would not engage in, all in order to preserve these forlorn little twisted trees from disappearing beneath the bulldozers blade — all with no benefit to himself, no wealth, no fame, and few real friends.

The Lost Coast of Cape Mendocino.

On another day, I decided to drive up to Westport and into Cape Mendocino and the Lost Coast.
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Westport is a tiny town on a bluff above the Pacific supposedly riddled with ghosts. It is the last town before Highway 1 turns inland in order to avoid the dark mountainous terrain of the Lost Coast. I always liked this stretch of the highway. It is one of those places in the world where calling it somewhere that time forgot is justified.
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Passing beyond the town and turning inland, I found one of the dirt roads that lead into the heart of Lost Coast.
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Over forty years ago Joe the Hippie and his flower child girlfriend driving a beat up Plymouth 1957 sedan would also turn off here and brave the ruts and washouts to hike, camp, smoke and then drive on through to Ferndale and beyond. We would sometimes pass through Whitethorn and Honeydew, two of the tiny towns hidden in the Cape Mendocino forests, where the cultivators of the major cash crop in the area, big fierce bearded men and long-faced and long dressed women, would stand in front of their clapboard home and silently stare at us as we drove by.
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The road I chose traversed two ridges and passed high above the surf. I traveled through dark redwood groves festooned with signs that warned “No Trespassing. Area Patrolled.” I chose this to mean “shoot on sight,” not because I believed I would be shot if I wandered about but to persuade myself not to park the car and go hiking into the forest just for spite — and get lost.

I drove by a moss encrusted redwood that I called the “Old Man in the Tree” for obvious reasons.
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Finally, descending from the ridge, I entered a relatively broad valley with a creek (Usal Creek) running through it. A bridge crossed the creek into a sprawling primitive campground containing a few tents and some vans fitted out for camping.
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After parking my car at the edge of the black sand beach, I went for a hike through the woods that bordered the creek. As I sauntered along I ran into this:
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There were at least six bucks in the herd and two does. Not wanting to disturb them, I made my way back to the beach and walked along it until I feared the rising tide would cut off my return.
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After wandering around a bit and sitting on a log staring at the surf, I returned to my car and began the drive back to Mendocino. Along the way, I stopped at the store in Westport to buy a cream soda and a bag of potato chips.
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A Stroll along South Noyo Headlands Park.

On Saturday, we visited South Noyo Headlands Park. If anything, it is even more spectacular than the North Park. When they are connected in the next year or two, the park system will extend almost 12 miles along the coast passing through several magnificent landscapes. I have no doubt this park is destined to become one of the great urban/rural oceanfront parks of the world.
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The Druid Sisters’ Tea Party.

That evening, we attended the Druid Sisters Afro, Celtic, Belly Dance Tea Party at the Hill House in Mendocino. The group Soul Elixir, with Pilar Duran (daughter of the great jazz guitarist Eddie Duran) and Claudia Paige (who played drums for the Grateful Dead and other groups) was the first to perform. They were magnificent. The Second group the Druid Sisters (vocals, drums, and fiddle) followed with a marvelous fiddle player (Kathy Buys) and a strong-voiced singer with red hair that the princess in “Brave” would envy (Cyoakha O’Manion). Claudia Paige played the drums here also. Both groups also performed together while the belly dancers wound their way through the audience.

Many of those attending the festivities were of a more advanced age and dressed like they thought Druids would dress — lots of beads and crystals, flowing clothing and even sandals on some. They also danced to the music with the undulating abandon I had last seen at the hippie encampment on the beach below the Mendocino bluffs over 40 years ago. It was great.

One woman, perhaps even older than I, done up in a long flowing dress with a hunting knife hanging from her belt, danced the entire night or at least swayed about waving her hands like she was casting a spell on us all. My sister thought that with her long slender hands and knobby knuckles she was a Witch and not a Druid. I expressed no opinion on the matter.
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The Druid Sisters and Soul Elixir Together on Stage.

The B. Bryan Wildlife Preserve.

Our veneration of nature having been reinforced by the Druids, we set off the following morning for Point Area and a 200-acre estate dedicated to endangered African hoofed animals. We toured the reserve in a safari vehicle, saw the grazing gazelle, antelope, zebra and giraffe herds, fed the giraffes carrots held in our mouths and learned a lot — that certain types of Zebra, are not only obnoxious, but they plan their births during the rainy season so that they could hide their foals from predators in the newly grown brush; all the things one can tell about the health of wild animals by examining their poop; and, that there are only 760 Rothschild Giraffes, the tallest on earth, left in the wild.
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Pookie and the Rothschild Giraffe.

As we left the preserve I thought California with its large open grasslands, the demise of its logging industry, and relatively strong environmental and land use laws could be a wonderful place for establishing large preserves in order to save many of the world’s endangered ruminants and perhaps some of the large predators.

SAVE THE ROTHSCHILD GIRAFFES.

Leaving Mendocino.

I spent my last few days here trying to figure out how I would occupy myself during the four days between when I had to leave here and when I was scheduled to return to El Dorado Hills. Camping for a night or two seemed attractive. I always liked short turns of camping. Many years ago I did a lot of it. I was never a “gear” person. Usually just throwing down a sleeping bag under a tree sufficed.

B. BOOK REPORT: SWAN’S WAY.

Actually, this is not a report about a book I have read, but it is a report about a book. While rummaging through the marvelous little bookstore on Main Street in Mendocino, I happened upon a graphic novel pro-porting to tell the story, Swan’s Way, that makes up the first part of Marcel Proust’s seemingly endless magnum opus about memory. According to the book jacket, the graphic novel was created so that those who found wading through Proust’s rumination’s on social minutia tedious would find this format more interesting and thereby be able to enjoy the marvel that was Proust. As I leafed through the book, however, I found it to contain mostly panels of people sitting or standing in various Edwardian rooms along with the visibly unhappy little Swanie sulking somewhere. I could not understand how that was supposed to alleviate the tedium.

Fiction is the art of the storyteller. Should you read something written by a storyteller and find in it anything transcendental, it is likely that the transcendence you find lives in you and not in the words of the storyteller — unless, you are responding to a reviewer who insists that if you do not see in the work what he or she sees you are clearly defective.

That is why we read fiction, not for what the storyteller or even the erudite reviewer brings to it but what we take away from it. It is ours alone.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

Communities and cooperation:

“In the most general terms ,we might say that men live in communities in order to seek to satisfy their needs by cooperation. These needs are so varied, from the wide range of human needs based on man’s long evolutionary heritage, that human communities are bound to be complex. Such a community exists in a matrix of five dimensions, of which three dimensions are in space, the fourth is the dimension of time, and the fifth, which I shall call the dimension of abstraction, covers the range of human needs as developed over the long experience of past evolution. This dimension of abstraction for purposes of discussion will be divided into six or more aspects or levels of human experience and needs. These six are military, political, economic, social, religious, and intellectual. If we want a more concise view of the patterns of any community, we might reduce these six to only three, which I shall call: the patterns of power; the patterns of wealth; and the patterns of outlook. On the other hand, it may sometimes be helpful to examine some part of human activities in more detail by subdividing any one of these levels into sub-levels of narrower aspects to whatever degree of specific detail is most helpful.

In such a matrix, it is evident that the patterns of power may be made up of activities on any level or any combination of sub-levels. Today, in our Western culture we can deal with power adequately in terms of force, wealth, and ideology, but in earlier history or in other societies, it will be necessary to think of power in quite different terms, especially social and religious, which are no longer very significant in our own culture. The great divide, which shunted our culture off in directions so different from those which dominate the cultures of much of Asia and Africa down to the present, occurred about the sixth century BC, so if we go back into our own historical background before that, we shall have to deal with patterns closer to modern Asia or Africa than to our own contemporary culture.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“One of the most important things in deciding which candidates to vote for in an election is whether you believe you can persuade them to your position after the election not whether or not they agree with you before it.”

C. Today’s Poem:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
‘I live with my brat in a high-rise flat,
So how in the world would I know.’
Roald Dahl

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me; if I am only for myself, what am I, and if not now when?”
Rabbi Hillel

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:
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Pilar Duran

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Cyoakha O’Manion

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Cold tits 0005 (February 17, 2016)

 

“A man with no memory is a man with no foresight.”
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize) (p. 260). Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Some mornings, instead of walking along the bluffs, I stroll along the beach beneath them where the Big River empties into the ocean.
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In the late 1960s and early 70’s when the hippie phenomenon was morphing into the counter culture this vast expanse of sand used to be the site of a hippie encampment. Makeshift tents and driftwood shelters sprung up overnight and disappeared just as suddenly. Music filled the air along with the smoke of campfires and weed. People danced naked and clothed. The air smelled of iodine, marijuana and patchouli. And the colors — tie-dye shirts, beads of many hues, macrame headbands, long flower print dresses, and real flowers everywhere, all dimming in memory.
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A flower someone left in the sand.

 

The sea has reclaimed much of the beach. The sea caves and coves where those too shy to copulate on the open sand retreated for privacy and where later more permanent encampments sprung up are gone now beneath the waves.

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Thereafter, I walk under the Highway 1 bridge and along the sandy beach that runs up the river a short way.
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Once, I saw a woman swimming in the river with her dog
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I then usually amble up the old logging road that rises onto the bluffs above the river through shady redwood groves and sunny outlooks on the cliffs above the river.
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When I get tired, I retrace my steps until I reach a bench where I rest a while staring at the river, marshes and now and then boaters with their oars splashing until my reverie ends usually by another hiker walking by who insists on greeting me. I then walk back through the town to my sister’s house and take a nap.
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One of the things I notice on my walks is the evolution of the graphics on informational signs. During the early days of the Coastal Conservancy, I noticed the absence of anything other than bureaucratese in simple block letters. “Who would stop and read these,” I thought? “Would they take anything away from this?” So, I proposed creating informational signs designed by creative artists (not graphic designers) to be placed on our projects. No one agreed. Encouraged by this support I went ahead anyway, hired an artist who created a group of wonderfully attractive signs highlighting the flora and fauna that the sign described.
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Fort Bragg this week announced the competition for local artists to design the informational signs at Noyo Headlands Park and even the decorations on the bathrooms. On my walk through the Big River SMCA, I saw some well-designed informational signs containing interesting artwork. It pleased me to see that the idea has caught on.
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One slightly overcast day I walked along the Fort Bragg bluffs from the railroad bridge to the beginning of the Mekerricer State Park Dunes. A strong breeze blew in from offshore roiling the surf and creating waves almost 20 feet high.
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I rested for a few moments at the dunes by the Snowy Plover nesting area before returning.
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Snowy Plovers?

 

One day, I drove inland to walk a trail through the Pygmy Forest where my involvement with coastal protection began. But that is another story — for the next issue of T&T perhaps.
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With all those signs I encounter warning me of the danger from mountain lions as I walk along dark forest trails, I have to add another pathological fear to that of bears and bikers. Perhaps, I need Bill Yeates to explain why a frail elderly person on the verge of senility as he walks alone through the gloom of the woods, should not be afraid of those supposedly shy and gentle animals.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently, a physicist at MIT, Jeremy England, theorized that “…the more likely evolutionary outcomes are going to be the ones that absorbed and dissipated more energy from the environment’s external drives on the way to getting there.” England reasons from this that creation of large molecules necessary for life occur whenever certain conditions are met, that self-replication and greater structural organization are mechanisms by which a system could dissipate more energy. In other words, life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and the more evolved we are the more chaos we create in the universe.

Now, of course, this is merely a theory and I have no way of knowing if it has been peer reviewed or replicated. But let’s assume that it is correct. Then of course, once these molecules are formed, the rules of evolution (what ever they may be ( adaptation, mutation or thermodynamic exchanges) apply. Among the things this may mean, two stand out to me. The first is that life is simply the extension of the mathematical model of the universe with at least a phase of ever greater complexity. This may give some comfort to those who believe in an eschatological universe that I will touch on later. Another option, however, is that life is little more than a quantum parasite.

The second point, if the study is true, implies that life must be capable of developing and evolving in a similar response in many environments, certainly within the Goldilocks Zone and perhaps elsewhere. So given the number of years the universe has been in existence, the fact that many star systems and galaxies are far older than ours and that there are over 120 billion galaxies each containing more than 300 billion star systems, where is everyone?

Sure we’ve listened conscientiously for energy waves from the cosmos containing some alien civilizations version of “Green Acres,” and sent out into the void our own tiny spaceships with pictures of naked men and women bearing a message somewhat like, “hey, how’re ya doin,” with no success in eliciting a response from what probably is a trillion civilizations out there. Why? Could it be they know what we are like and want nothing to do with us? Or, maybe no one is there and we really are alone.

 

 

PAPA JOE’S TALES:

 

Trenz Pruca and the return of the Naked Mole Rat.

I have mentioned that my friend Trenz Pruca, who provides me with his many observations some of which I pass on to you, was a six-foot-three-inch white rat. I was wrong. I had assumed he was a white rat from the few times we met because of his rodent-like denture and my youthful conjecture that, unlike me and my swarthy Mediterranean neighbors who were not, those individuals with slightly pink skin were white. Nevertheless, I noticed no tail emerging from his long almost floor length dark coat and the strange un-rat-like bluntness of his snout. He was, in fact, a naked Mole Rat, one of those hardy, courageous and gentle creatures so beloved of scientists and odd individuals everywhere. He finally admitted to it when I pressed him during one of our visits. The long dark coat and cap protected his sensitive skin from the sun and also hid his nakedness as modesty demanded. He required the thick dark glasses held together by adhesive tape because his vision was poor and light disturbed his eyes.

 

“Why?” I asked one day, “do you live here and not with your own kind?” He stared at me silently for a while, a long while as he often did. Then finally when I just thought he would not, he responded in a soft voice, “I assume you noticed I am quite large.” “Yes,” I acknowledged. “But why with humans?” Again a very long silence. Then, “True, you humans are rather untrustworthy, barbaric and not very bright, and you spend all too much time talking foolishly about yourselves.” More silence, finally: “But I decided sitting in a dark coffee house with you humans was slightly preferable to living in a cave somewhere with a bear or similar creature, eating raw meat and grunting and growling and scratching myself — only slightly better, you understand.”

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
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During my several visits to Costa Rica, I met an artist named Miguel. He was well known in the country for his heroic actions during the Costa Rican War of Independence and for establishing many of that nation’s wonderful ecological reserves. He was in his mid-eighties then. He told me he used only his current nine girlfriends as models. They all would gather at his home most days to cook and take care of him and watch him paint.

I liked his painted images very much. He painted primarily in a pointillist style — applying small points of color rather than brush strokes to build up the images. I took photographs of several of his paintings, cut out those images that I liked and applied them to my canvas replacing the pointillism with brush strokes. I eliminated Miguel’s more colorful backgrounds, exchanging them for solid black as in this photograph.

I created about 15 or so paintings this way, including a triptych that hung in my bedroom. The lower quarter of the center panel contained a woman lying with her back to the viewer. Only that portion from her hip to just below her shoulder appeared, producing an elongated S-curve between it and the blackness. The panel on the right contained the same woman’s back but above it, I included Miguel’s image of a forest fire, all reds, blacks, and yellows.

The left panel had the same S curve but in the space above were painted three women I called the graces. This panel was a disaster so I never hung it hoping to try again sometime later but instead, I gave up painting.

The painting here contains images from two separate works of Miguel’s that I joined together. The elongated shoulder of the woman on the right occurred because I had photographed Miguel’s painting at an angle. When I projected the image onto the canvas I noticed it but left it that way because I thought it looked cool.

I was never happy with the black backgrounds. They looked empty. I wanted them to appear full the way Rothko’s do in his paintings, but that was far beyond my ability.

Now that I think about it, I could have just let the black brushstrokes feather off towards the edge of the painting leaving it with the color of the canvas showing through — sort of like someone painting the side of a barn and walking off with it unfinished.

I got a similar effect by using the matting control on the photograph.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the fifth in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY.

The elements of Power

“In our own tradition, the power which resolves conflicts of wills is generally made up of three elements. These are force, wealth, and ideology. In a sense, we might say that we resolve conflicts of wills by threatening or using physical force to destroy capacity to resist; or we use wealth to buy or bribe consent; or we persuade an opponent to yield by arguments based on beliefs. We are so convinced that these three make up power that we use them even in situations where different communities with quite different traditions of the nature of power are resisting. And as a result, we often mistake what is going on in such a clash of communities with quite different traditions of power. For example, in recent centuries, our Western culture has had numerous clashes with communities of Asiatic or African traditions whose understanding of power is quite different from our own, since it is based on religious and social considerations rather than on military, economic, or ideological, as ours is.”

“The social element in political power rests on the human need to be a member of a group and on the individual’s readiness to make sacrifices of his own desires in order to remain a member of such a group. It is largely a matter of reciprocity, that individuals mutually restrain their individual wills in order to remain members of a group, which is necessary to satisfy man’s gregarious needs. It is similar to the fact that individuals accept the rules of a game in order to participate in the game itself. This was always the most important aspect of power in Chinese and other societies, especially in Africa, but it has been relatively weak in others, such as our Western society or in Arabic culture of the Near East. The religious element was once very important in our own culture, but has become less so over the past five centuries until today it is of little influence in political power, although it is still very important in forming the framework of power in other areas, most notably in traditional Tibet, and in many cultures of Asia and Africa.”

“The inability of persons from one culture to see what is happening in another culture, even when it occurs before their eyes, is most frequent in matters of this kind, concerned with power. Early English visitors to Africa found it quite impossible to understand an African war, even when they were present at a “battle.” In such an encounter, two tribes lined up in two opposing lines, each warrior attired in a fantastic display of fur, feathers, and paint. The two armies danced, sang, shouted, exchanged insults, and gradually worked themselves up into a state in which they began to hurl their spears at each other. A few individuals were hit and fell to the ground, at which point one side broke and ran away, to the great disgust of the observing English. The latter, who hardly can get themselves to a fighting pitch until after they have suffered casualties or lost a battle or two, considered the natives to be cowardly when they left the field in flight after a few casualties. What they did not realize was that the event which they saw was not really a battle in the sense of a clash of force at all, but was rather an opportunity for a symbolic determination of how the spiritual forces of the world viewed the dispute and indicated their disfavor by allowing casualties on the side upholding the wrong view. The whole incident was much more like a European medieval judicial trial by ordeal, which also permitted the deity to signify which side of a dispute was wrong, than it was to a modern European battle.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“In any large organization there is no greater action that can be taken to improve its performance than cutting its upper management personnel by at least 50%.”

 

C. Today’s Poem:

“Where I’m From”
by Brendan Dreaper

I am from backyards,
from grass and sprinklers.
I am from the wood,
of the benches and deck I remember.
Worn thin by many feet.
Long kitchen counters,
smooth as marble.
Cookie dough sticking,
to the cold stone.

I am from snow forts,
hard packed snow in gloved hands.
I’m from warm fires,
and hot chocolate
warming on the stove.
I’m from books,
fantasy and mystery
that enlighten my mind.

I am from one story,
to two stories,
bedrooms are shared,
and then broken apart.
I’m from family,
unbroken unchanged.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“People can ask questions, but where there is no money, there are no answers.”
Sanderson, Brandon. The Bands of Mourning: A Mistborn Novel (p. 168). Tom Doherty Associates

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Mopey 0005 (February 10, 2016)

 

“When lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday, cash me out.”
~Frank Sinatra

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA
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TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

A few sunny days on the Mendocino coast allows me to sip my morning coffee and enjoy the view:
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One day, I drove into Fort Bragg to have my tire repaired. Waiting for the repairs allowed me to do what I love doing best, wandering aimlessly. Among my wanderings, I visited the Noyo Headlands Park that the Agency I created and headed, the California Coastal Conservancy, helped to bring about. The Park represents to me an ideal use of an urban waterfront — an environmentally sensitive open park along the shorefront. I believe it will soon be considered one of the nation’s premier oceanfront park and restoration areas. Now if we can only get the City of Fort Bragg to post proper signage along PCH so that people can find it, it will be a boon to the City’s economic health and to the environment.
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I urge you to visit it and see if you agree with me.

The overcast skies and rain have returned. Still the walks along the bluffs are exhilarating — the churning surf battering the black cliffs below. Now and then I notice a tiny bit of color among the bushes as I walk by.
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One morning, the sun was out. My walk along the bluffs took me to an area that, despite my almost 50 years of visiting here, I had not gone before. I felt a little like Kirk and Spock visiting a new world — except here there were no large breasted aliens with skin tight costumes, colorful body paint, and prominent dark eyebrows. What there was, however, were white crested waves pounding the bluffs and curling onto the black sand beaches hidden among the cliffs.
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Later, as the sun dropped toward the horizon, we strolled along the bluffs again.
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All this dramatic natural beauty began to irritate me. I longed for a sidewalk, curb and a gutter blocked up with urban refuse. So, after my morning walk, I fled north to Fort Bragg in the hope that I could find a dingy bar filled with out of work loggers or a cafe with the paint peeling off the walls where I could drink weak American coffee.

As I approached the town and circled the round-a-bout, I took the road that said, “No exit,” or something like that, since it agreed with what I was feeling. I drove up what John Olmstead called the Mendocino Ecological Staircase in hopes that I would find a forgotten tavern among the Redwoods. The homes, more shacks than homes, became shackier as I drove, the fences more home made and the “No Trespassing” signs more prevalent. I realized I was entering the zone that 20 or 30 years ago harbored the areas high-value cash crops. I soon came to the end of the road and retraced my steps down the Staircase.

At the edge of the city, another road stretched off to the East. This road promised to cross the mountains to Willits on Highway one. I suspected, since this was a numbered road, a roadhouse would exist somewhere along it. So, I drove again up the staircase until I reached a sign that announced a curvy road for the next 25 miles. I knew that roadhouses only existed on straight-a-ways and I decided to forgo the possibility of encountering the ghost of Patrick Swayze and returned to Highway 1.

After passing through the harbor in hope I would find a fisherman’s dive with no luck, I drove into the back streets of Fort Bragg.
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I had just about given up when I spotted a place on a woebegone corner of the city that seemed to have some promise.
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I parked, went in and found what I was looking for. The twelve stools at the bar were filled with men and women, most of whom were my age or older. Nearly all of the men wore baseball caps and a few were dressed in work clothes. A woman with blond hair, who now would be referred to a naturally proportioned, presided behind the bar. Although I intended to order ginger ale, I decided to order the bar’s special amber ale instead. I felt it would be more appropriate. Much of the discussion around me involved the bar’s multiple Super Bowl pools whose mathematical basis was far beyond my comprehension.

A man sitting next to me knew Duke Snyder when they both lived in Compton. They would meet walking their dogs and discuss baseball and life while their dogs humped each other.

In the corner sat a man with dark skin and a magnificent beaked schnozz, I thought he was either Native American or Mediterranean based upon the size of his proboscis. I know schnozzes — we Italians revel in the potatoes or hatchets grafted onto the front of our faces. We believe it makes us look distinguished. I learned that during the 1950s, the beaked one pitched triple A ball for a team in South Carolina before his arm gave out. I was in heaven. Next to him sat a small dark woman with many tattoos who kept bouncing up and down running off to talk excitedly with someone else sitting at the bar.

Feeling happy, I ordered a second ale.

Later, more people showed up including a younger woman who seemed to be over six feet tall. She had long braided blond hair. She slammed down the drinks like she was born to it. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and appeared happy to be there or at least happier than being where they were before they got there.

I left after I finished my second ale because I wanted to be able to drive home and I had begun to feel the buzz. When I die, I want my ashes sprinkled on the floor of the place.

Later that night, we all returned to Fort Bragg because in was “First Friday” when all the galleries stay open until late at night. I bought an old used book that contained some interesting illustrations. We then had dinner at a Mayan Fusion restaurant in the harbor. It was quite good.

The next morning we hiked along the bluffs of Spring Ranch just south of the town of Mendocino. Spring Ranch is a Coastal Reserve created by California State Parks and the California Coastal Conservancy.
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It is an example of the type of project I had in mind when I wrote the Conservancy Concept into California’s Coastal Plan, shepherded the legislation through the legislature and administered the agency during its formative years. It not only removes the land from the vagaries of regulatory conflicts but begins to push back the impacts of prior land uses, ranching and the like, through restoration. At the time the Conservancy was proposed, restoration of environmental resources was not a high priority of the State and in the case of wetlands opposed by many in the environmental community as well.
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The Reserve is long and relatively narrow, stretching from PCH to the ocean for several miles. This type of public acquisition, small narrow units, along with the purchase undeveloped subdivisions along the coast were frowned upon by the State because of management and cost issues. Yet, we believed they were necessary if critical coastal resources were to be preserved and the goals of the Coastal Plan achieved. I am pleased to see that, in part through the efforts of the Conservancy, up and down the coast these objectives are now accepted.
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Although the several entrances are a little difficult to see, once you do, you can stroll down across the coastal terrace, along the bluffs, and through a magnificently restored cypress grove. There are a few benches along the way where you can sit and watch the tumultuous surf crash of the rocks, and if the season is right, see whales migrating and seal pods roaming the waters and hauling themselves onto the rocks to sunbathe.
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The Reserve is an excellent counterpoint to the more urban Noyo Headlands Park a few miles north. You should visit both if you are in the area, and don’t forget to stop at Point Cabrillo lighthouse and park and the Mendocino Botanical Gardens also, another Conservancy project in the area I am proud of. And, of course, end your trip sipping the wines at Pacific Star Winery while sitting on Dad’s Bench watching the sun dip into the ocean.

That afternoon, as I suggested above, we had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery.
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I bought a new hat there also.

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The next day was Superbowl Sunday. I wasn’t feeling very well so after breakfast I returned to bed for most of the day. The following day the temperature reached 80 degrees. It is not natural for it to be so warm in February. After my walk, I napped to avoid the heat of the day as though I was still in Thailand.

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
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This is a photograph of my painting of a view in Cinque Terre. The painting itself was from a photograph I had taken of the place. The painting was then photographed and that photograph was photographed to present here. The colors and tints of the painting and the current photograph are not quite the same.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the fourth in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY.

The importance of organization.

“The importance of organization in satisfying the human need for security is obvious. No individual can be secure alone, simply from the fact that a man must sleep, and a single man asleep in the jungle is not secure. While some men sleep, others must watch. In the days of the cavemen, some slept while others kept up the fire which guarded the mouth of the cave. Such an arrangement for sleeping in turns is a basic pattern of organization in group life, by which a number of men co-operate to increase their joint security. But such an organization also requires that each must, to some degree, subordinate his will as an individual to the common advantage of the group. This means that there must be some way in which conflicts of wills within the group may be resolved without disrupting the ability of their common organization to provide security against any threat from outside.”

“These two things—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 8 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.”

“All of this is very elementary, but contemporary life is now so complicated and each individual is now so deeply involved in his own special activities that the elementary facts of life are frequently lost, even by those who are assumed to be most expert in that topic. This particular elementary fact may be stated thus: politics is concerned with the resolution of conflicts of wills, both within and between communities, a process which takes place by the exercise of power.”

“This simple sentence covers some of the most complex of human relationships, and some of the most misunderstood. Any adequate explanation of it would require many volumes of words and, what is even more important, several lifetimes of varied experience. The experience would have to be diverse because the way in which power operates is so different from one community to another that it is often impossible for an individual in one community and familiar with his own community’s processes for the exercise of power to understand, or even to see, the processes which are operating in another community. Much of the most fundamental differences are in the minds and neurological systems of the persons themselves, including their value systems which they acquired as they grew up in their own communities. Such a value system establishes priorities of needs and limits of acceptance which are often quite inexplicable to members of a different community brought up in a different tradition. Since human beings can be brought up to believe almost anything or to put up with almost anything, the possible ways in which the political life of any community can be organized are almost limitless.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Trenz Pruca’s First Rule of Management:

If most people agree with what you plan to do, don’t do it.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

He came home. Said nothing.
It was clear, though, that something had gone wrong.
He lay down fully dressed.
Pulled the blanket over his head.
Tucked up his knees.
He’s nearly forty, but not at the moment.
He exists just as he did inside his mother’s womb,
clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness.
Tomorrow he’ll give a lecture
on homeostasis in metagalactic cosmonautics.
For now, though, he has curled up and gone to sleep.
Wislawa Szymborska

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.”
Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Canicatti Sicily, 1968

 

Categories: April through June 2014, January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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