“Since large-scale human cooperation is based on myths, the way people cooperate can be altered by changing the myths — by telling different stories.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Cloudless deep blue skies arch above the Golden Hills bringing autumn crisp temperatures in the mornings. I love swimming in water warmer than the air.
Since my return, I have not seen the Moonstone Peckerhead Turkey Gang strutting up the street. Perhaps, they are hiding out because it is getting close to Thanksgiving. Do Turkey’s migrate? If so, they cannot fly very far. They would have to walk or hitchhike. Or maybe they just do not go far away. Perhaps, they do not get much farther south than Ione or Merced.
One day while walking the dog, I saw four large deer standing on the verge across the street from me. They simply stared at us for quite a while, then scampered off up the hill.
Neither the deer nor the turkeys would survive long in Bangkok. Now that I think about it, the people there eat insects. Why don’t they eat the pigeons? Maybe that is what I am eating when I order chicken fried rice at the sidewalk food stands. I wonder what the pork fried rice is made from?
I cannot deny the gated communities that make up El Dorado Hills and its parks are beautifully landscaped and laid out. I assume the empty streets behind those gates, more than the gates themselves give a sense of security to those that live. Interesting things may be happening within the McMansions but not on the streets. That is the difference between rich and poor communities. The poor live more of their live’s in public, on the streets. The boredom also gives a sense of security, I guess — if nothing is happening then nothing is happening to me.
Recently, however, something has happened. Evan of EvanTube has moved into one of the mansions on the ridge that I can see across the valley from Dick’s deck. Evan, as a five-year-old, managed to make over a million dollars on YouTube opening up packages of toys and increased that take substantially every year until now at 9 or 10 he was able to move his family from Modesto or someplace like that so that he can attend the far above average schools here in the Golden Hills. This has excited those like HRM who have followed his spectacular career. According to HRM, everyone likes the young millionaire.
This shows the difference between today’s schools and those in my day and neighborhood. Then, someone with a rep would be immediately challenged in the schoolyard. You make your rep there or nowhere.
Speaking of young hoodlums in training. Because so many of the stately homes of the golden hills are rented out for one reason or another, not all the kids in the schools are from middle and upper-class families. In HRM’s class, there is a boy named Raul. Both his parents are in jail. Some of his classmates warned HRM to stay away from Raul. They say he vapes on the bus on the way to school and if you try to speak to him he will slap you. HRM wanted to find out if Raul really would slap him if he said hello, so he went up to him and said, “Hi, they call me Haystack. How are you doing?” Instead of slapping him, Raul gave HRM a high five.
B. TWO UPSIDE DOWN NOSES — 77:
Today is my 77th birthday. To me, that means, I have seen the beginning of many more things that never existed before then I will see in the time remaining to me. Although I was born into a world on the verge of the greatest slaughter of human lives in history, WWII, the Holocaust, The Great Leap Forward, I lived through what undoubtedly was the greatest Golden Age of Humanity. That’s not too bad when you realize that all you really have to show for your time here are your experiences —even if those experiences are merely watching it all unfold.
C. BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS:
Below are the California ballot recommendations for the coming election that Ruth and others developed. I found them very helpful even where I disagree.
BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NOVEMBER 2016
These are my recommendations for the state measures, informed by discussion among a dedicated group of Venice residents who undertake to share researching the propositions and try to arrive at either consensus or a clear statement of our disagreements. If you have questions, I will try to answer them.
I will send recommendations for the County measures, including judges, and the City of LA measures in a separate email.
President: Hillary Clinton
US Senator: Kamala Harris
(Loretta Sanchez would not be bad, but our consensus was Kamala Harris would be better)
The biggest challenge is figuring out how many taxes/bonds you are willing to swallow for various good causes and then prioritizing the numerous relevant propositions. In addition to the state measures, LA County has two—one a bond and one a sales tax increase–, and LA City has at least two bond issues.
51: School bonds
School population is going down, but school buildings are aging. Many have no air conditioning. Some opponents think it’s better to have local school districts bond-fund rather than the state. Supporters of 55 think relying on locals doing it themselves puts an unfair burden on the poorer school districts.
52: Hospital fee program
53: Revenue bond issues over $2 billion must go to a vote of the people.
If this passes, there has to be an election (and associated campaign) every time the state wants to engage in a massive infrastructure project. This proposition is aimed at stopping the Delta tunnel and the bullet train, both projects adopted by the elected officials. Campaigns are expensive and time-consuming, and the winds of public sentiment can change many times during the period it takes to complete a major project. It’s not only Rome that wasn’t built in a day. (We did split on this one—it turns out to depend on whom you trust least: elected officials or uninformed voters.
54: Legislation and proceedings.
This is being promoted as increasing transparency in government by requiring that every change in every bill be publicly noticed and on the internet for 72 hours before any action. It sounds great, but it will make negotiating and compromise well nigh impossible. It would probably also prevent getting a budget out on time.
55: Extending an existing tax that was originally approved as “temporary.”
It is a tax on incomes of $250,000 and up, funds schools and healthcare, and has been in effect without disrupting the economy.
56: Increase the tax on cigarettes.
The tax hasn’t been increased in many years. This proposition also includes taxing e-cigarettes and funding programs to discourage those as well as the old-fashioned ones.
57: various changes to sentencing and parole.
58: Multi-lingual education.
This proposition undoes the English-only law adopted early 20 years ago in recognition that students learn subject matter best in the language most familiar even while learning a new language.
59: Advisory vote urging repeal of Citizens United.
Although the vote has no practical effect, it has important symbolism.
60: Require performers in porn films to use condoms.
There are all sorts of obligations to test and treat already in place, this proposition would create a whole new structure to police (probably ineffectively) the porn industry, and the industry which alas employs a whole lot of people could easily just leave the state. This is the brainchild of the same guy who is behind a totally different City proposition coming in March that would limit private real estate development.
61: Drug prices.
(Surprise!) This would require that the state pay no more than the VA pays for drugs. The VA negotiates prices with the drug companies. Our fear is that adopting this proposition would mean the VA would get a worse deal. (Apply here Ruth’s Rule of Legislation: if it takes less than 30 minutes to figure out how to abuse the proposed law, just vote against it.) Bernie Sanders is doing major ads in favor of this. He must not have applied Ruth’s Rule.
62 and 66: Death Penalty
62 abolishes the death penalty; 66 is the prosecutors’ response to 62 and leaves it in place but shortens the long, expensive, and mandatory appeal procedures.
If you favor abolition, vote yes on 62 and no on 66. If you want to keep the death penalty, vote no on 62 and yes on 66.
63: Ammunition sales
Yes. (Do we really need to discuss this?)
We did not have consensus on this one but leaned yes.
65 and 67: Plastic bags
67 is a statewide ban on those flimsy plastic bags you used to get in grocery stores. 65 is the bag manufacturers’ bait-and-switch antidote to 67. 65 takes the fees grocery stores now charge for your paper bag away from the stores and puts them into a new environmental fund (which someone has to administer). The manufacturers’ argument is that the stores shouldn’t get to “make a profit” from the bags. Since the stores have to buy the bags anyway, it’s a safe bet that if they can’t charge for them, they’ll have to raise prices on the products that go into the bags in order to fund having to buy them.
I vote no on everything to do with banning “single use” bags because I don’t believe they are single use. Everyone I know uses them for household garbage or cleaning up after pets. What the ban proponents want you to do is buy genuinely single-use bags: you buy them for the sole and specific purpose of putting something in them to put in the landfill.
Everyone else at the discussion recommends no on 65 and yes on 67, the statewide ban.
Whatever you do, don’t vote yes on both of them because whichever gets more total votes is the one that will prevail. Thus if create-the-fund gets more votes than the ban, the ban does not take effect.
The following is the continuation of something I began in a prior post a long time ago:
The First Centuries: Herod continued…
Certainly about the time of the Maccabees, the Judeans and the related people who followed the Septuagint and associated writings sought to remain in contact with one another. In addition to Judea, there were significant communities in Galilee, Egypt, Southern Mesopotamia, and the Syrian saddle and the Southcentral Turkish highlands from Aleppo to Tarsus. Many of these people had little of no relationship with Judea or Jerusalem. At first, contact probably occurred through itinerant traders but eventually, a more formal system developed which included instruction in the Law for the outlying areas and transfer of money for the operation in Jerusalem.
Herod being the consummate businessman and needing money for construction of the Second Temple and other things regularized the system, giving to members of the Judean nobility specific areas in which to operate and amounts to be returned to the Royal and Temple treasuries. While this does not have much to do with our story here, it does so not long after Herod’s death. And die he did, a rather gruesome death.
After his death, his kingdom was divided by the Romans among his three surviving sons and his sister. One son Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea. Another, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. the third son became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan, and Salome I was given a toparchy including the cities of Jabneh, Ashdod, and Phasaelis. What an ethnarch, tetrarch, toparchy are, I have no idea.
Shortly after the dividing up of Herod’s kingdom, the shit hit the fan.
(to be continued)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Among my Cracked Histories, Tomyris and the Massegetae is one of my favorites. A version appears in the book listed below at the end of the piece. It can also be found in my blog Trenz Pruca’s Journal (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/every-now-and-then-we-should-stop-what-we-are-doing-and-consider-tomyris-and-the-massengetae/)
“Every now and then we should stop what we are doing and consider Tomyris and the Massegetae.
I believe, it is worthwhile to occasionally contemplate Tomyris and the Massegetae, if not for its impact on history then for its elucidation of the ability of a determined woman to lead her country in a time of crisis.
Tomyris Queen of the Massegetae reigned over a semi-nomadic nation in South-central Asia at the time Cyrus the Great Emperor of Persia and ruler of just about every other place anyone had heard of, ravaged that part of the world. (This was about four or five hundred years before Jesus walked the earth preaching peace and unleashing, often in his name, 2000 years of bloodshed far beyond that which the world had experienced for the previous 4000 years.)
“One day, Cyrus marched his armies into the land of the Massegetae, an area he noticed he had forgotten to conquer. He exclaimed to his comrades in arms, “Hey here’s a place where I haven’t killed many people yet. Let’s have some fun.”
Tomyris’ son and about a third of the Massegetae troops rode out to meet Cyrus and his marauders. They were quickly defeated and Tomyris’ son (clearly not a chip off his mom’s block) taken prisoner. This was familiar stuff to Cyrus who, whenever he wanted to kill some people, usually was confronted by their young sons who shouted at him that they would fight back if he tries to kill them. He would kill them anyway and make the rest slaves. It was good being Cyrus.
So Cyrus walked or rode or however conquerers traveled back then, up to what passed for a wall surrounding what passed for a city to the nomadic Massegetae. With Tomyris son in tow, he strutted back and forth in front of those walls and shouted to Tomyris that she should surrender her town and country, such that it was.
Tomyris, that tough old bird, climbed to the top of those walls, hiked up her skirt, stared down at the strutting Cyrus, and shouted back:
“Now listen to me and I will advise you for your good: give me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over one-third of the Massegetae. If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.”
Thus, Tomyris Warrior Queen of the Massegetae responded to Cyrus the Great, Emperor of Persia, conqueror of the greatest empire of the ancient world and leader of the largest and most technologically advanced army of the time.
Cyrus refused Tomyris’ advice. So, she personally led the charge of her forces and destroyed his army. After her victory, she searched the battlefield herself until she found Cyrus’ body, then she cut off his head and made his skull into her favorite goblet.
This leads me to conclude that one should never mess with a woman named Tomyris, or for that matter, a Massegetae who some ancient historians believe became the Huns. (I heard that there is a biker gang in South Dakota named the Massegetae whose leader is a six-foot-six-inch transsexual named Tomyris.)
For those interested in learning more about the Massegetae, this is what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus had to say about them:
“In their dress and mode of living, the Massegetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for headgear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.”
“The following are some of their customs; – Each man has but one wife[…]“yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massegetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Jaxartes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”
I have a few concerns and questions about the Massegetae life-style:
1. How does one have one wife held in common?
2. How old do you have to be before they come for you and boil you up with a cow or two?
3. How pissed off with your lot in life would you be if you were forced to live on beef, fish, sour milk and a grandfather or grandmother now and then? Enough to want to go and beat the shit out of someone, I would imagine.”
Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo. “Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” iBooks. ”
A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
All stories have at their heart either a great truth or a great lie. The better the story the less we can tell which one it is.
B. Today’s Poem:
My revision to the opening stanza of Taliesin:
I have been many things,
before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow many 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.
C. Correspondence with Peter:
Your story suggests a possible sequel for Omar, a la Rocky II, III, etc.: Something about Omar and O.Henry attend the conversion of Charles Martel to Islam in the White Horse Tavern – the latter because the Alhambra was being rehabbed to condos; and of course Dylan Thomas sitting at the bar, raging about not going gently into the good night, and Omar, O. Henry, the now-beatific Martel, Baby Ruth and Mr. Goodbar come over to Thomas and say “Sadducee ya so glum, chum, let’s off to Soi Cowboy and find you a Comely Princess to take your mind off your troubles until you can wax poetic again.” Etc., etc.
So, back in EDH. That must be rather surrealistic after BKK, let alone Beijing airport. How about Trump Tower West to jazz it up a bit? Bankrupt in three. Windup Girl wins the Laguna Beach Pageant, settles in the EDH West Tower Suite as Trumpette #4, and, as biblical flood waters rise, floats away on her pet monitor lizard Saladin.
Sorry to hear about your mom’s fall and fracture; elderly broken hips are not happy.
Blast from the past: I stopped in to Ye Olde SCC for a brief chat with Sam Schuchat. Talk about weird. First time since 1994. They will move into the Oakland State building by the end of the year. Terminal dreariness…..
Band played for the recent SF Alzheimers Walk fundraiser. Biggest crowd ever, if only each for 30 seconds as they passed by, cheering. Next week we’re at the annual Oakland Plant Exchange again: people bring their plants to exchange for other people’s plants. Think of the angles. We’re adding to our collection of odd venues.
Speaking of Naga headhunters, my bandmate told of one of his island trips years ago, this one to Fiji. The fijians were cannibals up until not long ago. They witnessed a folk dance that was quite vigorous and militaristic – probably led to the cooking cauldron in times past. Which made me think of old man Seabrook, who traveled to west Africa during the 1920s, including visiting with some cannibals. He decided ‘when in Rome’, and tried the fare as offered by the villagers. Didn’t say it tasted like chicken. Later, he got up to Timbuktu, as did Geoffrey Moorehouse, who wrote of his trek across the Sahara in 1970 and had to leave after four days because of all the tourists. Now it’s islamic crazies burning books. Back in Rhinebeck, NY, Seabrook used to chain his wife up naked on a long chain out in the spacious yard, according to Barrie, who stayed there with her family — near where Seabrook’s place was — one summer many years ago when her father was doing summer theater up there. No ocelots, though.
Happy birthday, Joe, in advance, in case I forget while my hearing aids’ batteries die.
My mom seems ok. They fixed the hip but she seems unwilling to wake up. The doctors think they may have overdosed her with morphine. I hope she enjoys the trip.
EDH is so quiet after BKK that I keep thinking my hearing loss has gotten worse.
I wish it would have been possible for Seabrook and the Gemologist to meet each other — cannibals, headhunters, zombies, clouded leopards, jewels and women in chains — oh my.
Sounds like they would have had a great time exchanging yarns. Oh my indeed.
Reminds me of that movie, I think it was The Once And Future King, with Michael Caine and Shawn Connery (??).
As to the quiet of EDH, why not open a combination Zen sasheen zendo (for the cognoscenti), health farm, spiritual energy alignment center, “happy ending” massage parlor, and Harbin Hot Springs operation? With a small track similar to the paseo that Mexican young people do around the zocalo but bigger to enable the Lamborghini/Ferrari/Jaguar/Henry J crowd to cruise around. Noise police would cruise the center with THX1137-somber looming menace in appropriate Armani/Versace garb. Housing values would soar, major eateries would flock, throngs would zoom to EDH to see and be seen, and Kardashian and other fabulous jewelry would be heisted weekly to provide a smidgen of zest for the otherwise somnolent, would be-narcisisst post-Trump crowd. Lots of material for HDH’s video show, which would broadcast continuously on screens in all the Best establishments. Periodic events such as the Basso Profundo contest to determine the best performers of “Ommmm”; or the Gossamer Wings Ephemeral Fly-By contest to choose the “Maxwell Parish would have chosen you” Floating Nymph award. Don’t know how all this would affect your hearing loss.
“Lest there be any well-intentioned persons who do not perceive the difference … between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and the meanest affairs of life, to the extraordinary confusion of ignorant minds, let them understand that it is always the latter, and never the former, which is satirized here. Further, that the latter is here satirized as being, according to all experience, inconsistent with the former, impossible of union with it, and one of the most evil and mischievous falsehoods existent in society…. It may appear unnecessary to offer a word of observation on so plain a head. But it is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip, and idle in the heart; or against the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who, in the words of SWIFT, have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another.”
Preface to the Charles Dickens Edition, THE PICKWICK PAPERS (1868).
The Namibia Superstar, a photograph by Richard K. Diran. (http://www.diranart.com/web/index.php?option=com_expose&Itemid=28 )