This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Mopey 0005 (February 2, 2016)

 

“One of the more dangerous pleasures of great wealth is that you never have to hear anyone tell you that you are completely wrong.”
David Frum, Atlantic Monthly (1/1/16)
In Memory of Concepcion Picciotto: Peace at last.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Sun has hit the Golden Hills after over a week of rain and overcast skies. On the East Coast, people are digging out following the Blizzard of 2016. One of the reasons I migrated to California from New York so many years ago was to feel joy in the sun after a little rain rather than the pain in my lower back and frozen fingers as I dug out from snowdrifts and slush.

So, the sun came out again for a few days and I resumed my swimming at the health club. My chest still hurt so my usual exercise regime was greatly limited. Nevertheless, it was good to get out of the house for a while. Only a few more days remain before SWAC arrives with her newest ATM and I head off to Mendocino.

Rooting around in a forgotten briefcase, I found a few old photographs of some paintings I completed during my “painter phase.” Here are two:
IMG_0937

IMG_0944

I started the painting enterprise because I was fed up with the drudgery of law work and thought I could begin a new more exciting career as a twenty-first Century Peter Paul Rubens or perhaps even a Thomas Kinkade and support myself thereby. You know, in it for the money like Kinkade and like Peter Paul barely touching a brush while his assistants did all the work.

I eventually found it cost more to produce the paintings than I could ever sell them for. It also was boring (As some of you know, after 3 or 5 years of doing anything, I either self-destruct or go into hibernation or both). So, I gave up the enterprise. Actually, if you were to ask me, the paintings look better as photographs than they did as paintings. They were not art, even ordinary art. Here below is a very pedestrian painting, but the painter is a professional, not a hack like me (or T. Kinkade):
Pasted Graphic
Emile Albert Gruppe

The paintings are all gone now. My son has about six, a few are in Thailand somewhere and my daughter has one. Where the rest ended up, I have no idea. Many were sold at the grand garage sale seven years ago where I disposed of eight containers full of my stuff including 6000 books, several $4000 Brioni suits, my snow globe collection, a player piano and lots and lots of other things.

Today we purchased the Bearded Dragon Lizard for which HRM has been agitating for a while now. At our urging, he gave it the very uninspired name of Puff the Bearded Dragon.
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On Sunday, before leaving to spend a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister, Dick, HRM and I went to have breakfast at one of our favorite spots, The Purple Place, a few blocks from our house. There we learned that the tornado of a few weeks ago that I had thought touched down in the next town apparently struck here as well. According to the vet Dick takes his dogs to, the tornado bounced along the center of the road, hopped over the vet’s office skidded across the road and took off the roof of the building next to the Purple Place before jumping up to Cameron Park, the next town east, where it lifted a few more roofs. The damaged building was still wrapped in plastic.

Before heading up to Mendocino, I drove to San Jose for lunch with the original Bill Gates, not that pale imitation that happens to be the world’s richest person but the genuine original. It was the week before the Super Bowl and the city was all atwitter. The cameras were out awaiting the arrival of the teams while music blared from the displays in the park nearby. The official SB souvenirs shop had just opened for business and so we, of course, went in. I bought a couple of “official” coffee mugs and a Tee-shirt for HRM.
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Then it was off to Mendocino to spend a cold and rainy February at the edge of the Pacific. I arrived after dark, happy that I avoided any accidents like the last time I drove here.

The following day it was sunny, so I walked into town for a cafe latte and a cheese danish. I then strolled along the bluffs the taking photographs that of scenes I had taken many times before. I did find a view that I had not photographed before. Here it is.
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When I got back to my sister’s house, I noticed my car had a flat tire. I decided to take a nap and not think about it for a while.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Why does ISIL remain so difficult to defeat and why does it appear to be a reoccurring phenomenon?

It seems to me that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and even Boko Haram are all manifestations of the same thing. They are an ideology and not organizations as we tend to think of them. That is why the Chechen fighters who battled Russia seeking independence can move comfortably from there, to Afghanistan, to Iraq and now to Syria and believe they are fighting for the same goal. This is not too different from the State-Socialist Bolshevik ideology that fired up the wars for colonial independence 80 years or so ago. They usually achieved independence and quickly morphed into military dictatorships or dropped their strident socialism as soon as they got a taste of the beguiling delights of consumerism.

Contrary to prior policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we occupied the land, at least temporarily, while we installed a governing organization that we called democratic but many others referred to as a puppet regime, we are no longer seeking to either hold land or impose a specific regime. Also, the US now concentrates on targeting the insurgencies leaders and not merely on killing its soldiers. That is a change from Viet Nam where we racked up the kills of soldiers and civilians to no avail.

ISIL and the others remain ideologies [Islam is mostly the cover] opposed to the organizations that are the dominant economic powers of the day and not an organization like those we are used to dealing with. Killing its leaders, like killing its followers will not work. New leaders and new followers are easy to find. Occupying the land and imposing a regime we know now does not work either.

So what works? I do not know, but we have had great success battling competing ideologies with massive economic development. Young men inflamed with the possibility of becoming rich usually do not have time to pick up a gun.

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

2010: Republican businesswoman Meg Whitman spent $177 million on the race for Governor of California and lost. Jerry Brown spent $37 million and won.

2016: The New York City Police Force is the seventh largest army in the world.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the third in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY that I began in previous posts.

“Any community of persons consists of the land on which they are, the people who make it up, the artifacts which they have made to help them in satisfying their needs, and, above all, the patterns of actions, feelings, and thoughts which exist among them in relationships among persons and between persons and artifacts. These patterns may be regarded as the organization of the people and the artifacts on the terrain. The organization, with the artifacts but without the people as physical beings, is often called the “culture” of the community. Thus, we might express it in this way:

1. Community = people + artifacts + patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions
2. Community = people + culture
3. Community = people + artifacts + organization.

The significance of these relationships will appear later, but one very important one closely related to the major purpose of this book may be mentioned here. When two communities are in conflict, each trying to impose its will on the other, this can be achieved if the organization of one can be destroyed so that it is no longer able to resist the will of the other. That means that the purpose of their conflict will be to destroy the organization but leave the people and artifacts remaining, except to the degree that these are destroyed incidentally in the process of disrupting their organization in order to reduce their capacity to resist.

In European history, with its industrialized cities, complex division of labor, and dense population, the efforts to disrupt organization have led to weapons systems of mass destruction of people and artifacts, which could, in fact, so disrupt European industrial society, that the will to resist is eventually destroyed. But these same weapons, applied to a different geographical and social context, such as the jungles of southeast Asia, may not disrupt their patterns sufficiently to lower their wills to resist to the point where the people are willing to submit their wills to those of Western communities; rather they may be 7 forced to abandon forms of organization which are susceptible to disruption by Western weapons for quite different and dispersed forms of organization on which Western weapons are relatively ineffective.

This is what seems to have happened in Vietnam, where the Viet Cong organizational patterns were so unfamiliar to American experience that we had great difficulty in recognizing their effectiveness or even their existence, except as the resistance of individual people. As a result, we killed these people as individuals, without disrupting their Viet Cong organization, which we ignored because it was not similar to what we recognized as an organization of political life in Western eyes, and, for years, we deceived ourselves that we were defeating the Viet Cong organization because we were killing people and increasing our count of dead bodies (the majority of whom certainly formed no part of the Viet Cong organization which was resisting our will).”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“There are two great evils in the world, punishing yourself and harming others. There are only two goods, forgiving yourself and aiding others. Everything else is either fantasy or entertainment.”

C. Email from Naida West:

“I truly enjoyed your most recent blog. Especially the historical statistics on U.S. debt, which contradict so much of R vs D political debate: Muse from the DMV waiting room; Your mom and the benefits of “functional irascibility” — makes me feel better about my irascibility; And Quigley on the human need for cooperation with others.

The latter reminded me of the final line written by Chris McCandlas (sp?) — the college grad who left home, girlfriend, and society, experienced life on the road as an engaging & intelligent bum, hitchhiked to the Alaskan wild seeking happiness in nature, and died of dehydration and starvation after eating a toxic root that looked like an edible root depicted in his book on Alaskan plants. He survived the long painful bout of vomiting and diarrhea and wrote in his diary: “I made it!!!!” (4 exclamation points his ) However, he found himself to be too weak to go down the rocky, sloping embankment to the raging river to re-fill his plastic gallon jug or go hunting for an animal to kill. So, becoming ever weaker, he wrote his last words: “Happiness is not real unless it is shared.” I watched the movie Sunday night on Pivot TV, ending at 3 a.m. and couldn’t sleep until the sky was light.”

D.Today’s Poem:

Proud Mary

Left a good job in the city
Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
Pumped a lot of pane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
‘Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have [if you got] no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
John Fogerty

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Damn, now we are going to have to worry we are getting too tall. By the end of the century, we may all be 7’2” tall — too big for our houses, cars or burial plots.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
on-approaching-life-after-death
The Happiest Photograph of the Year.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Mopey 0005 (January 23, 2016)

“He always liked laundromats. They’re like waiting rooms for people who never travel.”
—Zoran Drvenkar, Sorry.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUTH

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

(El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life. One would think from my comments that I dislike it here. On the contrary, someone once said that living east of the San Diego Freeway in Los Angeles is a form of death; at my age living here in the golden hills is like death’s minor leagues — I get to practice before moving up to the big time.)

The sun broke through for part of the day. So, I decided to go swimming for the first time since my accident. It made me happy.
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On Sunday, I went to see Revenant. I liked it — Over two hours of Leo DiCaprio in agony (Leo Agonistes). Leo biting the head off a live fish and eating it; Leo eating a raw buffalo liver; Leo mauled by a bear; Leo sleeping naked inside the body of a dead horse; Leo’s body sewn up like a torn pair of jeans; Leo freezing in snow and icy water; Leo falling off a cliff; Leo swept away down a raging river; Leo frothing at the mouth; Leo covered in his own blood; Leo covered in animal’s blood. Leo covered other people’s blood; Leo shot; Leo knifed; Leo choked and so on. Oh, there was also a story, something about Native Americans, sons, wives who float in the air and disappear, and revenge on white men who never bathe. There was a lot of snow too. And subtitles. Leo deserves and Academy Award — not for acting but for surviving. Don’t miss it you will never forget it — even if you want to.

For dinner this evening, HRM decided to make pizza for his dinner. He made the dough, kneaded it, assembled the toppings and cooked it. The pizza tasted very good — certainly a lot better than Round Table or Mountain Mike’s.
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On Wednesday, I went to the DMV office to register my new automobile. About an hour and a half into my wait, sitting there on the hard plastic chair staring at the drop ceiling and listening to the seductive automated voice calling out the numbers like she was lying there next to me whispering into my ear, “B, zero, two seven go to window number nine,” I realized that I was as content as I could be anywhere. I guess I was experiencing satori — a spiritual awakening. I imagined that many of the great religions were created in DMV offices. The bible tells us that Jesus disappeared from public view until he began his ministry when he was 30. I suspect, he spent that time quietly sitting in a DMC office believing that the “meek shall inherit the earth.” Buddha while waiting five hours to renew his driver’s license persuaded himself that it was only tolerable if, in fact, it was not real. While Mohammed, on leaving the DMZ office, decided to conquer all the worlds DMV offices by promising his followers that if they died in the effort they would find themselves alone in a DMV office with 72 virgins behind the counter. Did you know that the biblical heaven and Hell are, in fact, DMV offices? In Heaven, you sit on hard plastic seats staring at the golden ones behind the counter, the saints and the angels, waiting for your number to be called and when it is called you get to approach the counter and get your license renewed by one of the golden ones after which you get to go back to your seat and wait for your number to be called again. Hell is just another DMV office except there are no seats, the heat is turned up to the highest level and your number is never called.

The person I bought the car from was a law enforcement officer. He insisted on putting a lower sale price on the transfer documents in order to save some money on Taxes. I, a one-time officer of the court in a profession with a strict code of ethics, did not object because I told myself I did not want to offend him. So I took full advantage of the reduced registration fee.

After returning home from the DMV office, I learned my 98-year-old mother had fallen while getting out of bed. I was pretty convinced she fell because she intended to run away from the nursing facility in order to return home to cook dinner for me and my sister. Anyway, they quickly and properly swept her off to the hospital for a CT scan and other tests — all of which were negative. She was returned to the nursing home where I am sure she demanded to be allowed to leave so that she could find a job.

I hope she lives to see her 100th birthday so that she might receive congratulations from Obama or whomever, or Jerry Brown or even Sylvester Stallone. It would make her very happy. She will, however, still insist she needs to go home and cook for her family, find a job and maybe a boyfriend. Functional irascibility is the secret to a long and happy life — well, perhaps not so happy at times.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

National Debt and Deficit.

In the national and candidates debates during this election year, as in all other presidential years, the words “debt” and “deficit” are thrown about in order to justify one’s political position or criticize an opponent’s. Actually, it is usually a smoke screen since historically (at least since WWII) both parties run similar annual budget deficits with Republican administrations since the election of Ronald Reagan running somewhat larger annual budget deficits and both parties showing a somewhat similar growth in the National Debt as a percentage of GDP. The difference between the parties often comes down to what that Budget Deficit goes to pay for. Traditionally, for Republicans generally, it goes to pay for enhanced military development and tax relief for private capital expenditure and formation and higher income individuals with Democrats leaning more toward paying for social programs, public works, and tax relief for consumers and lower income workers.

Recently, I came across some information from the US Treasury Department on the annual US budget deficit, the total National Debt by year, US GDP and US National Debt as a percentage of GDP going back to at least 1929. I was able to cull the following from those spreadsheets.

First some definitions: The Budget Deficit is those government expenditures (including payments on the National Debt) not covered by revenues in a given year. For the most part from a policy standpoint, the annual deficit for any single year tends to be not all that significant except during times of great stress like wars and economic panic. The National Debt is what the Federal Government owes at any given time.

Let’s look at two lists I prepared from US Treasury spreadsheets going back to the end of WWII that I hope will shed a little light on the nature of the political rhetoric.

Percentage increase in total National Government debt by President during his term.

Reagan 186%
Bush 2 101%
Bush 1 54% (4 years)
Obama 53% (7 years)
Ford 47% (3 years)
Carter 43% (4 years)
Nixon 34% (5 years)
Clinton 32%
Johnson 13% (5 Years)
Kennedy 8% (3 years)
Eisenhower 9%
Truman 3% (7 years)

National Debt as a percentage of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product at a President’s final budget.

Obama 106.7% (7 years)
Bush 2 85%
Truman 69.7% (7 years)
Bush 1 60.5% (4 years)
Eisenhower 51.3%
Clinton 56.2%
Reagan 51.4%
49.5% Kennedy (3 years)
35.9% Johnson (5 years)
Nixon 32.6 (5 Years)
Ford 31. 4% (3 years)
Carter 31.3% (4 years)
The second list is probably more important and informative since it relates the National Debt to the size of the economy at the time. While Bush 2 and Obama appear to have the larger percentage, a significant portion of those increases came at the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of Obama’s as they struggled to deal with the Great Recession ($1.1 trillion DEFICIT for the last year of Bush2 and $1.5 trillion DEFICIT for the first year of Obama). It demonstrates how great an economic crisis it was. (A similar spike would appear if these charts continued back to the great depression. Under Roosevelt, the depression and WWII increased the National Debt well over 1000%.) One takeaway is that after WWII, the size of the National Debt as a percentage of GDP decreased through all administrations Republican and Democrat alike until Reagan took office. Since then it has steadily increased except during the Clinton years. The most significant impacts on both Annual Deficits and the National Debt since Reagan took office has been a large reduction in taxes on upper-income individuals, non-earned income, and corporations, funding of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and the Obama stimulus.

Another way of looking at this, and perhaps even more illuminating, is how many percentage points over his predecessor a President increased the National Debt as a percentage of GDP when he left office:

Bush2 28.8
Obama 21.7
Reagan 20.1
Bush1 9.1
Carter -.1
Ford -1.2
Kennedy -1.8
Nixon -3.3
Johnson -13.6
Eisenhower -18.4
Clinton -13.5
The above clearly shows Clinton and Reagan as outliers. The difference between them appears to be almost exclusively their approach to taxes on higher earners and corporations. The list also further demonstrates the massive distortion of governmental finances engendered by the Middle Eastern wars and the Great Recession.

I believe that a national economy works better and the growth of National Debt moderated when a significant portion of public expenditure works its way through the economy from the bottom (like fuel in a furnace) rather than from the top. How that is done should be the basis of public debate (welfare, public works, incentives to work or to hire people, or consumer tax relief and so on).

I have no idea of the ideal size of National Debt a mature nation should carry but suspect it depends on the interest rate on the debt and the ability of the nation to service the debt during times of crisis. That is why I believe Keynes prescription to run budget deficits during times of crisis and surpluses during periods of growth is sound politics and prudent fiscal policy.

Note: It should be pointed out that total US debt as a percentage of GDP from all sectors went from approximately 1.5 times GDP in 1946 to a little less than 4 times GDP today. In 1946, the total US debt-to-GDP ratio was 150%, with two-thirds of that held by the federal government. Since 1946, the federal government’s share of total US debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen from about 2/3 to a little over 1/4. On the other, hand the share of total US Debt as a percentage of GDP of the financial sector, has increased substantially from less than 1% in 1926 to about 28% in 2009 with much of that growth occurring in the private Non-Government backed securities area. Government backed debt part of the financial sector, such as Ginnie Mae etc., has remained a relatively stable while private financial debt has soared from 0% to about 12% of the total US debt as a percentage of GDP. The ratio for households has risen nearly as much, from 10% of total debt as a percentage of GDP to about 24%.

In other words, while federal debt as a portion of the nations economy generally has been falling, private debt has been growing substantially.
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So, what does all this mean? Dammed if I know. I do know however, that those who tells us they do know, usually don’t, and if they do, what they tell us is often a lie.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

The following continues the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY that I began in my previous post.

“In recent years there has been a fair amount of unproductive controversy about the real nature of man and what may be his real human needs. In most cases, these discussions have not got very far because the participants have generally been talking in groups which are already largely in agreement, and they have not been carrying on any real dialogue across lines of basic disagreement. Accordingly, each group has simply rejected the views most antithetical to its own assumptions, with little effort to resolve areas of acute contradiction. There are, however, some points on which there could hardly be much disagreement. These include two basic facts about human life as we see it being lived everywhere. These are:
(1) Each individual is an independent person with a will of his own and capable of making his own decisions; and
(2) Most human needs can be satisfied only by cooperation with other persons.

The interaction of these two fundamental facts forms the basis for most social problems.

If each individual has his own autonomous will making its own decisions, there will inevitably be numerous clashes of conflicting wills. There would be no need to reconcile these clashes, if individuals were able to satisfy their needs as independent individuals. But there are almost no needs, beyond those for space, time, oxygen, and physiological elimination, which can be satisfied by man in isolation. The great mass of human needs, especially those important ones which make men distinctively human, can be satisfied only through cooperative relationships with other humans. As a consequence, it is imperative that men work out patterns of relationships on a cooperative basis which will minimize the conflicts of individual wills and allow their cooperative needs to be satisfied. From these customary cooperative relationships emerge the organizational features of the communities of men which are the fundamental units of social living.”

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions on Cooking:

“BTW, last night I watched the HBO airing of “The Godfather” movies back-to-back-to-back. Afterward, I was jonesin’ in the worst way for pasta marinara ad Scaloppine alla Marsala . . . in Sicily.

Back in 1985, when I was working on the Bolsa Chica LUP “confirmation” stage, I went to lunch with Darlene Frost and several others at North Beach Restaurant in — where else? — the terrific Italian community of North Beach in The City. The marinara had a sweetness I couldn’t identify, and the waiter actually told me how the chef did it. It was pureed carrots, which I’d guessed, but the chef used BABY FOOD carrots . . . and I thought that was brilliant. You can peel, chop, steam, and puree carrots . . . or you can open jars of baby food carrots. I’ve done it that way ever since.

My scaloppine recipe is the result of a dozen years of trying to duplicate the Scaloppine from Giulio’s in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. The secrets are getting the right balance of lemon juice and dry sherry (I’ve found that even a dry Marsala is too overly powerfully nutty), since the sherry flavor breaks down after a few minutes, and sautéing the veal (or chicken breast) in extra virgin olive oil and butter.

I did it for 120 people at a wedding reception years ago when I did catering for fun (and some profit). The wedding planner pulled ALL of my help to do the champagne toast BEFORE dinner, and I was cooking three different kinds of pasta by myself, planning the cooking times of each and getting the amounts done for four lines of diners on two long tables — penne marinara, fettuccine Alfredo, and farfalle in pesto (red, white, and green, of course!). I was cooking like an octopus, but I’d sautéed all of the veal ahead of time, set it aside, then did the reheating at the last minute, since veal toughens if it’s left to simmer too long. It all worked, and I got a bonus of several hundred dollars (it was a pretty elegant reception, as evidenced by their insistence on veal).

BTW, when my daughter had a 16th birthday party for about 60 friends (and their parents — they knew of my cooking reputation!), she wanted the three pastas I’d mentioned above. She was a full-on vegetarian by then, so those three worked great.

Final secret: If Italian sausage is too pricey to use for a large group, or of someone has moral problems with using pork products, I use ground turkey but add some pepper flakes, grind some fennel seed, and add some whole seeds. It tastes just like Italian sausage for a fraction of the price.

Yes, I seriously need to do my new cookbook . . . .”

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

D. Today’s Poem:

Buddhist Barbie

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches ‘All is emptiness’
and ‘There is no self.’
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.
Denise Duhamel

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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David laughs it up in Jomtien Beach with a bored LM and photo bomb.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Joseph 0005 (January 14, 2016)

 

“…art is long and critics are the insects of a day.”
Randall Jarrell

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.

My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.

Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.

Today, following our Sunday morning trip to Denio’s Auction, HRM whipped up some Nutella crepes with bananas.
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HRM is at school, Dick is at work, I have no car, it has been rainy and cold and I sit at home all day with little to do other than wondering if I am serving any function at all here in the Golden Hills other than consuming resources.

On Friday, the first day in a while without rain, after leaving HRM at school, Dick dropped me off at Bella Bru for breakfast. Because of the rain and not having a car, I had not been there in a while. After breakfast, I walked the two and a half miles back home carrying my computer and a bag of groceries. Most of the trees that normally do so have dropped their leaves for winter — except the Zombie Tree (or the Obstinate Oak as I called it a few issues back) still tightly clutches to itself a few leaves as green as springtime. Like many of us, it probably fears the worst.
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On another sunny winter day, I walked down to the newly restored Duck Pond where I sat on a bench and contemplated time, impermanence and sinus headaches.

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Having decided all my weeping and wailing about not having personal transportation was unbecoming an adult, I purchased an automobile. Alas, even though it is an inexpensive used vehicle, due to my strained financial situation, I have been forced to cancel my planned February visit to Thailand. Instead, I will most likely be spending that month mainly visiting with friends and staying a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister and her husband.
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MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Since this is the beginning of the seventh year of T&T, I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:

January 17, 2010: From Thailand.

“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.

Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:

The misspelled Bastards: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.

“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.

“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.

Some coming of age French flick with the usual but much more intelligent teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.

Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/this-and-that-january-17-2010/

January 11, 2011: From Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-january-10-2011/

January 1, 2012: From Thailand.

“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-12-joseph-0001-january-1-2012/

January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.

“I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course, if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or someplace like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they cannot move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes, that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.

Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog, ‘A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?’”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-16-joseph-0002-january-4-2013/

January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.

“I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and I am too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-27-joseph-0003-january-16-2014/

January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.

“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-20-joseph-0004-january-9-2015/

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

170 AD — The Hon Hanshu, a compilation of information regarding the nations of the West, written in China that year, contained the following:

“The king of this country [Da Qin] always wanted to send envoys to the Han, but Anxi (Parthia), wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].

In the ninth Yanxi year [166 CE], during the reign of Emperor Huan, the king of Da Qin (the Roman Empire), Andun (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), sent envoys from beyond the frontiers through Rinan (Commandery on the central Vietnamese coast), to offer elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, and turtle shell. This was the very first time there was [direct] communication [between the two countries]. The tribute brought was neither precious nor rare, raising suspicion that the accounts [of the ‘envoys’] might be exaggerated.”
Hou Hanshu, ch. 118. See TWR Section 12.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Fifteen years or so before the Counter-Culture declared the word the mystical basis of everything worthwhile, Carroll Quigley described his approach to history as holistic. The following excerpt from his unfinished work, Weapons Systems and Political Stability sets out some of the initial concepts from which he builds his analysis of history.

Necessary vs important.

The inability of most of us to distinguish between what is necessary and what is important is another example of the way in which one’s immediate personal experience, and especially the narrow and limited character of most personal experience, distorts one’s vision of reality. For necessary things are only important when they are lacking and are quickly forgotten when they are in adequate supply.

Certainly the most basic of human needs are those required for man’s continued physical survival and, of those, the most constantly needed is oxygen. Yet we almost never think of this, simply because it is almost never lacking. Yet cut off our supply of oxygen, even for a few seconds, and oxygen becomes the most important thing in the world. The same is true of the other parameters of our physical survival such as space and time. They are always necessary, but they become important only when we do not have them. This is true, for example, of food and water. It is equally true of security, for security is almost as closely related to mere physical survival as oxygen, food, or water.

The less concrete human needs, such as those for explanation or companionship are, on the other hand, less necessary (at least for mere survival) but are always important, whether we have them or lack them. In fact, the scale of human needs as we have hinted a moment ago forms a hierarchy seven or eight levels high, ranging from the more concrete to the less concrete (and thus more abstract) aspects of reality.

Hierarchy of human needs.

We cannot easily force the multi-dimensional complexities of reality and human experience into a single one-dimensional scale, but, if we are willing to excuse the inevitable distortion arising from an effort to do this, we might range human needs from the bottom to the top, on the levels of (1) physical survival; (2) security; (3).economic needs; (4) sex and reproduction; (5) gregarious needs for companionship and love; (6) the need for meaning and purpose; and (7) the need for explanation of the functioning of the universe. This hierarchy undoubtedly reflects the fact that man’s nature itself is a hierarchy, corresponding to his hierarchy of needs, although we usually conceal the hierarchical nature of man by polarizing it into some kind of dualistic system, such as mind and body, or, perhaps, by dividing it into the three levels of body, emotions, and intellect.

In general terms, we might say that the hierarchy of human needs, reflecting the hierarchy of human nature, is also a hierarchy ranging from necessary needs to important needs. The same range seems to reflect the evolutionary development of man, from a merely animal origin, through a gregarious ape-like creature, to the more rational and autonomous creature of human history. In his range of needs, reflecting thus both his past evolution and his complex nature, are a bundle of survivals from that evolutionary process.

The same range is also a kind of hierarchy from necessary things (associated more closely with his original animal nature) to important things (associated more closely with his more human nature). In this range the need for security, which is the one that concerns us now, is one of the more fundamental and is, thus, closer to the necessity end of the scale. This means that it is a constant need but is important only when we do not have it (or believe we do not have it).”
Carroll Quigley, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY, (1983) University Press of America,

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Dum spiro, spero,” (As long as you’re breathing, there’s hope) someone wrote a long time ago. In my opinion, that hope, unfortunately, is generally pointless since optimism is usually unwarranted.

C. Today’s Poem:

 

THE MOURNING SONG
OF THE POOR MOTHERLESS ORPHAN
DANCE TO DRUMBEATS

I was very small when my mother died,
when my father died.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Raised by the hands of friends,
I have no family here on earth.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Two days ago my friends died,
and left me insecure
vulnerable, alone. Ay ay!

That day I was alone
and put myself
in a stranger’s hand.
Ay ay, my lord!
Evil, much evil passes here
on earth. Perhaps
I will never stop crying.

Without family,
alone, very lonely I walk,
crying day and night
only cries consume my eyes and soul.
Under evil so hard.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Take pity on me, put an end
to this suffering.
Give me death, my Beautiful Lord,
or give my soul transcendence!

Poor, poor
alone on earth
pleading insecure lonely
imploring door to door
asking every person I see to give me love.
I who have no home, no clothes,
no fire.
Ay my lord! Have pity on me!
Give my soul transcendence
to endure.
Ancient Mayan Poetry, Songs of Dzitbalché (1440)

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Given that the world is indeed in the midst of the Age of Kali, optimism for positive outcomes is essentially futile.”
Peter Grenell

“I can play amateur politics at home with my 9-year-old. I don’t need to do it at the professional level.”
Barry Bennett top advisor to the Ben Carson presidential campaign following his resignation.

“Conservative politics are so closely intermingled with a lucrative entertainment complex that it is frequently impossible to distinguish between a political project (that is, something designed to result in policy change) and a money-making venture.”
Jonathan Chiat

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Correlation or causation?

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Free Day 0004 (December 21, 2015)

“Rumor is always more exciting than truth.”
Bruen, Ken. Purgatory (Jack Taylor series Book 10) (p. 186). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Joyous Saturnalia, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza, Holidays and New Year!

Today is a Free Day on Pookies Calendar — so, do whatever you like as long as it does not hurt you or anyone else.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Since returning to the Golden Hills, it has been overcast and cool with brief episodes of light rain. Mornings, as usual, after I drop HRM off at school, I eat a breakfast at Bella Bru Cafe of toasted cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese accompanied by a cafe latte. I sit at the booth by the window with a view of the fountain. The gray skies turn the usual gaily sparkling water glum and somber along with my mood.

I have changed into my winter outfit. Instead of the yellow fisherman’s vest I usually wear, I now sport a green wool vest over which I usually put on the suede leather Italian jacket I purchased at Denio’s flea market. Gone is my yellow straw hat, replaced by either one of LM’s creations or a crumpled leather hippie fedora. I wear jeans of course. I have only one pair that I usually wear every day. A second pair, too small in the waist, I wear whenever the other pair is being washed. When the sun is out and often when it is not, I put on brown-gold aviator sunglasses that turns the colors of the trees and hills beautifully brilliant, which pleases me no end as I drive around.
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In spite of the cloudy skies, it seemed almost warm enough to swim — so I did.
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Upon completing my laps, I noticed the clouds had darkened the sky considerably and the pool was empty except for me. This made me anxious, so I scurried inside, showered, changed and returned home to nap.

B. POOKIE’S TRIP TO AND FROM MENDOCINO:

On Friday, I left for Mendocino. I usually plan for up to four rest stops along the way. The first is at the Nut Tree on Route 80 for a coffee at Peet’s, exploration of the Jelly Belly store for their newest flavors, and a walk around the kids park. The second stop, which I skipped on this trip, is the overlook by route 37 where one can view the old Marine World Park and San Francisco Bay beyond, followed by a pause at Cloverdale for a gas-up and a Cafe latte at Starbucks. Then I took 128 over the ridge past the sad sight of the oaks dying from blight caused by an inattentive logger. The Spanish moss and other parasites that were slowly killing them made the dying trees appear iridescent in the gloom.

When I arrived in Booneville my last rest stop, I learned that the road was closed due to flooding. I chanced driving further unwilling to make my way back to 101 (never back) for an additional two-hour drive over the Coast Range. I arrived at the Navarro where, being famished, I enjoyed a late lunch of a salami and cheese sandwich, a bag of Joe’s Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips that I could not resist and a pepperoni stick. In the autumn, they hold a Charlie Musselwhite festival there.
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Navarro Store and its monument to music in the redwoods.

Further along, I ran into the road closure so I backtracked a short way and took a side road over the ridge to Elk about 20 miles south. I happily drove on, eating my potato chips and licking my fingertips, until I reached Highway One and headed north to Mendocino. The sun played hide and seek with the line of squalls that threw up giant waves against the rocks and cliffs of the coast leaving the water a blazing white froth that flashed almost painfully brilliant ivory when struck by the sun.

The Car Crash

I arrived in Mendocino and had just begun my turn into the short private street that led to the driveway of my sister’s house when a large pickup truck driven by a middle-aged man who had obviously been enjoying the view of the turbulent white-foamed ocean waves as they swirled into the nearby cove slammed into me.

My car was driven across the road and totaled. I suffered significant bruising to my chest from the exploding airbags. I was lucky my brother-in-law George the Mensch, a member of the local fire and rescue squad, showed up a minute later and handled things since I was in shock and too much pain to do much of anything for myself other than to sit in his truck and moan.

I was also lucky that a few weeks ago, in response to a recall, because the airbag company originally installed airbags that ejected shrapnel as well as the airbag when they discharged, we had the air bags replaced. Fate is funny that way.
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The next morning the pain in my chest was a lot worse and my emotions at a low ebb. I could not move my upper body much at all. I notified Dick and thankfully he seemed more concerned with my health than with the fate of his car.

Nikki called me the next day to see how I was feeling. SWAC, on the other hand, sent me an angry email blaming me for losing her ability to use the automobile registered in Dick’s name that I paid for. She demanded I move permanently to Thailand so that she could come to the US and take care of HRM. I did not respond to the provocation.

The following day, Jason and family arrived. That evening, well drugged up on pain suppressors, I accompanied them to the Christmas Lights Display at the Ft. Bragg Botanical Gardens.

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Almost 40 years ago, the Coastal Conservancy, through a timely grant for the purchase of some adjacent ocean front land and the upgrade of their facilities, rescued the Gardens from imminent foreclosure. The Gardens are now an important part of the Fort Brag Community. The Display concluded with a community marshmallow toast.
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On Sunday, I dragged myself to accompany them on a trip to the magnificent Pacific Star Winery to buy some wines for Christmas dinner and to pass an hour in conversation with Sally the irrepressible winemaker and her partner the redoubtable Mark. I bought a bottle of Charbono and one of Charbera before another squall struck driving us into the car and back to Mendocino.

That night, seriously drugged up, I sat immobile in the corner, a heating pad clutched to my breast with one hand and a glass of Champagne in the other while George and Maryanne’s Christmas open house whirled around me. Many of the revelers were the same members of the Mendocino Fire and Rescue group that responded to my crash. Several them came by and inquired about my health.

After that, I spent the next three days mostly in bed feeling sorry for myself and complaining a lot. Dark ugly purple bruises began to creep across my chest.

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By Wednesday, I felt sufficiently better so as to be able to breathe deeply enough to hopefully forestall the buildup of liquid in my lungs that might cause pneumonia. I left with my sister for San Francisco where I took the train to Sacramento and waited at the station for Dick to come by and drive me back to El Dorado Hills.

Alas, the car I use to drive HRM back and forth to school and run errands when the Honda is not available has broken down and cannot be driven until it is repaired. Dick has gone off for three days of hearings taking his car with him. As a result, I am stuck in the house, dependent on HRM’s schoolmate’s parents to bring him back and forth from school. The nearest shops are two miles away so I spent the day trying to walk around the neighborhood while persuading myself that pain makes me stronger.

On Friday, feeling muzzy and disoriented, I finally decided to visit the doctor. Not having an automobile, I walked over three and a half miles to his office, stopping only for breakfast at Bella Bru. While walking along, I happily took photographs of the Oaks of Winter, including one of a massive tree whose brown desiccated leaves refused to drop and who still showed some green ones furiously resisting death. I named it, The Obstinate Oak.
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The Obstinate Oak

The doctor, after listening to my symptoms and learning of my walk, said that I needed to have my head examined. He insisted that I take a nap in one of his examining rooms while his staff arranged for a taxi to take me to have my head examined and then back home.

The results of the CT-scan showed I had suffered a concussion in the accident. The doctor advised me to take it easy for another week or so.

This hopefully ends Pookie’s Delightful Car Crash Adventure.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“In the American system ‘costs’ are fiscal or financial limitations that have little connection with the use of scarce resources or even with the use of available (and therefore not scarce) resources. The reason for this is that in the American economy, the fiscal or financial limit is lower than the limit established by real resources and, therefore, since the financial limits act as the restraint on our economic activities, we do not get to the point where our activities encounter the restraints imposed by the limits of real resources (except rarely and briefly in terms of technically trained manpower, which is our most limited resource).”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“As for things like GM crops, GM is merely a more efficient and safer method of improving crops than the radiation method we have been using for the last 100 years. Yes, there is probably not a single bite of food that you eat today that has not been genetically modified. The problem is a question of adequate regulation. Those who already are fearful resist putting their safety in the hands of others. As someone having been intimately involved in difficult regulation from all vantage points, I am sympathetic to their concern.”

C. Today’s Poem:

The Germ
A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.
Ogden Nash

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Human society is not a deterministic system but a collective learning process”.
Victor Ferkiss

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

The chart below depresses me. It shows the US producing STEM graduates at a lower rate than almost all other developed countries and many less developed ones as well. No country can maintain its financial, military or ideological dominance while standing in the ashes of its education system.

This is what occurs when a political party or interest groups demean education and science. As a result, in order to maintain any claim to being a technologically advanced and financially innovative country, we may be forced to import many of our scientists and engineers — perhaps even from Syria. (See also Quigley quote above)
Pasted Graphic.jpg

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Pookie 0004 (December 7, 2015)

 

“People don’t do things for big ideas. They do it for personal reasons, then justify their actions with moral arguments.”
Hertling, William. The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) (p. 120). liquididea press.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Back in Bangkok the monsoons seem to be ending, the skies are clearing and the temperature relatively moderate. I had dinner with Gary, Pui and their irrepressible four-year-old GJ in a pretty good restaurant on Soi 8 named Bek5.
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GJ with an unnamed young lady.

On most days, after mornings at the health club followed by a massage at Gary’s Silk Spa on Soi 13, I have lunch at a tiny restaurant near my apartment followed by a brief walk until the heat gets to me.
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The restaurant on Soi Nana

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Soi Nana a short distance from my apartment.

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A nearby Klong (canal).

I then return to my apartment and nap the afternoon away while LM works on the knitted wool hats that she sells to tourists on the downtown sidewalks (or, more often than not, to me).
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Sometimes she wakes me up to model them.
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Nikki arrived in Bangkok for a two-day stay. He suggested dinner at a restaurant on the Chao Phraya River across from the Temple of Dawn. We took a taxi there with a driver who assured us he knew the way. After circling the Royal precincts, at least, four times and asking innumerable other taxi drivers and pedestrians, we figured out that he was hopelessly lost. We exited the taxi near the palace grounds, found our way to a hotel and asked for directions. The restaurant was just a few steps away down an alley we had passed several times. At least, we got to see the Palace and Wat Po lit up at night and the elaborate light displays in celebration of the Kings birthday.
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A street scene near the Palace parade grounds.

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Wat Po at night.

The restaurants were on a dock first used by the palace to receive construction materials and later by the British for their Imperial commercial ventures. There were two restaurants one slightly more upscale than the other. We chose the more modest establishment and were delighted with the view of the temple, the river, and the brightly lit dinner cruise boats drifting by.
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Nikki modeling his new knitted cap with the designer watching.

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A pink dinner cruise ship passing the Temple of Dawn.
Near our apartment there runs an elevated bicycle, motorbike and walking trail that extends from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center near Asoke, along a fetid canal and through the remnants of one of Bangkok’s legendary slums to peter out somewhere near Wireless Road not far from the American embassy. I like to walk along there early in the evening when it is cooler and sit by the lake at the convention center to watch the bikers or joggers pass by or walk above the ramshackle neighborhood observing the street life below.
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Homes along the Klong.

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Bicyclists in the park
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The lake at the Convention Center park.

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A view of Klong Toey slums.

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Another view.
Then, with my suitcase filled with this year’s consignment of knitted caps for Christmas gifts, I left Bangkok.

The plane ride was not too bad. I slept through most of the 22-hour trip, ate woeful food and watched a couple of movies. As was my tradition, I did not speak to my seat-mate.

After arriving at SFO, I had lunch with Peter at a very nice place in Noe Valley followed a few hours later with a 50th birthday celebration for my son at another good restaurant in West Portal.

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After the party, we returned to Jason’s apartment where he insisted on filling me with vitamins, minerals, and other substances that he assured me would cure me of any sicknesses I may acquire, sharpen my mind, end athletes foot, lengthen my life and teach me how to play the piano. Convinced all it would do is kill me, I nevertheless swallowed it all confident that I was playing my assigned role in the eternal drama of parents giving up their lives for the happiness of their progeny. After this, my son and I discussed the mistakes we had made in our lives, offenses given and taken, whether libertarianism is superior to liberalism, the mastery of Stephan Curry and the plight of the 49rs. I awoke the next day at 3:20 in the afternoon to an empty apartment surprised that I was still alive or terrified that in life after death I was condemned to be confined eternally alone in the last place I had seen before expiring.

I quickly packed up my things and trundled off to the train that would take me back to the golden hills of El Dorado. On the train, I cried. Whether it was because I was terminally exhausted, tired of life or suffering through withdrawal, I did not know but soon decided I did not care because they all seemed the same.

B. THE OLD SAILOR/DEEP SEA DIVER/PIRATE’S STORY:

One morning as I lay on a lounge chair by the pool, the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver and perhaps Pirate stopped by to chat. He takes Aikido lessons at the health club and enjoys steam baths. He keeps the ashes of two friends in cigar boxes in his locker. Periodically, as they requested, he scatters their ashes in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute throughout South East Asia.

He reminisced about his life as a deep sea salvage driver and treasure hunter in the American Virgin Islands during the sixties and seventies.

Inspired by the movie Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he left his life of petty crime in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a government program to train underwater salvage and construction specialists.

After a few years, he found himself living in the Virgin Islands and along with about four or five others, made up an itinerant band of underwater salvage and construction workers — sort of a wet monkey-wrench gang without the social consciousness. He worked on the underwater construction of the St Thomas Airport, and also pipelines, gas lines, petroleum structures, in-situ aquariums and the like.

With his VW bus loaded with ten Scuba air containers, ten truck tire inner-tubes and a two-way radio, he prowled the island on behalf of the coast guard or various insurance companies lifting sunken boats using the inflated inner tubes or searching for saleable salvage.

At one time he and his friends competed with Mel Fischer to locate the Atocha. They searched around Marathon Island and Fischer between Key West and Tortuga. They found cannons and anchors, bottles and bones, but Fischer found the gold.

For a while, they supported themselves by every morning securing the hawsers over the bollards when the cruise ships arrived in port and releasing them when they sailed in the evening. They also searched the bottom of the sea for salvage, mostly anchors that they sold to boat owners and bottles they sold through consignment shops (blue bottles from the 19th Century and earlier were destined for apothecaries and usually held poisons).

At times, he also worked as a sailor, boat builder and sail maker. For two years, he crewed the Colgate heirs family yacht, a 150-200 ft three-masted schooner named the Lorelei Lee. But mostly, he caroused until he decided to travel around the Pacific (Including a stint in the merchant marine delivering supplies to the American troops in Viet Nam), often living the delightful life of a beach bum and eventually ending up in Bangkok in a single room of a downtrodden hotel where his walls are covered with wonderful photographs of his life and where he keeps a running list of friends who have died.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“It might be stated as a general rule that any organization functions only with and against those who accept its basic principles of organization and values.”
Carroll Quigley

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that it’s citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?”

C. Today’s Poem:

Night of the Succubus — Rhyming Couplets

It took me with its mouth and tongue.
It took me as though I were young.
It took me in the night.
It took me in my fright.
It took me till dawn was spread.
It took me till I was dead.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The Church had created the concept of the university and had established the first of them in the twelfth century. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk, was arguably the greatest mathematician of the thirteenth-century*. Bishop Robert Grosseteste was the first man to write down the necessary steps for performing a scientific experiment. Jesuits had built the first reflecting telescopes, microscopes, barometers, were first to calculate the constant of gravity, the first to measure the height of the mountains on the moon, the first to develop an accurate method of calculating a planet’s orbit, the first to devise and publish a coherent description of atomic theory.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (pp. 56-57). Random House Publishing Group.

*Gerbert, later Pope Sylvester II, was the greatest mathematician of the 10th Century.

Alas, shortly after this period of vibrant scientific exploration, the Church, in an effort to out intolerant the new religions of Europe’s north, shut down scientific inquiry for the next 400 years.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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A surprising image perched atop a bar near my apartment.

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 POOKIE 0004 (November 26, 2015)

 

“Wealth is power, and power is the only thing about which culture cares.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd ThomKoontz, Dean.as Novel (pp. 46-47). Random House Publishing Group.
HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY JASON.
CONGRATULATIONS BILL YEATES ON YOUR SUCCESS AT THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON.

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My granddaughter Amanda dressed for Halloween and posing with my 98-year-old mom.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

On November 11, I left the Golden Hills on the first leg of my return to Thailand. The light rail clawed its way into Sacramento where, after too long a wait, I boarded the train and scrabbled across the Great Valley toward San Francisco.

I spent the evening at Peter and Barrie’s. At a local restaurant, we had an excellent dinner accompanied by a good Sicilian Nero d’Avola wine. The next morning, Peter dropped me off at the airport and after about a day of varying levels of discomfort, I arrived in Bangkok at about 2AM. I do not recall having traveled through the City at this time in the morning before. Not that I haven’t. I may have. It’s just that I do not remember. The bars were mostly closed but the “street vender” bars were in full riot. Nana Plaza was eerily lightless, but the ladies and ladyboys of the night mingled with their patrons in a black seething mass that slopped out into the street.

I slept most of the next day. The few times I was awake the Little Masseuse would tell me stories. One was about an older man who lives in the country.

The old man’s story:

Every day the old man spends the daylight hours rummaging through garbage cans for food and other necessities. He especially searches for bits of electrical wire. In the evenings, through well past midnight, he melts down the bits of wire and burning off any coating. Every month, he produces a one-kilogram lump of copper that he sells for about $20, on which he augments his dumpster diving.

I try to swim every day at pool in the health club located in the Ambassador Hotel on Soi 11. The health club now includes a Muay Thai training facility to go with the pool, gym, racquetball courts, yoga rooms, Karate lessons and Chinese fan dancing instruction.
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Some parrots in the Ambassador Hotel’s extensive aviaries.

After swimming, I usually have a massage at my friend Gary’s spa (The Silk Spa) on Sukhumvit Soi 13. If you are in Bangkok give it a try. Especially experience the new two-person sauna that Gary built himself. Gary is Canadian, plays in an Ice Hockey League in Thailand and is often followed around by a precocious four-year-old named GJ.
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On Wednesdays, the Little Masseuse and I go to Terminal 21 to see a movie (Wednesday tickets are only $3 each.) Each floor of Terminal 21 is dedicated to a different city. The photograph below is part of the San Francisco display.

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After a week, we took a van to Jomtien Beach to spend a few days by the seashore. The ride was longer than usual. We seemed to go a different way than we usually do. We passed an attractive small lake and through the town of Sri Racha, neither of which I had seen before.

The small hotel we usually stay at was full so we found an even less expensive one for $17 per night.
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In the evenings, we walked along the beach.
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We also ambled along the seashore in the early mornings.
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On our walks along the beach, we were often accompanied by a small pack of beach dwelling Soi Dogs.
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Soi Dogs are the indigenous feral dogs of Thailand. They rarely bark or growl and skitter away if you come too close to them. The King of Thailand claims they are the country’s native dog and seeks AKC recognition for them.

One morning we came across a group of ladyboys overacting on the beach and frolicking topless in the water.
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The Good/Bad David joined us for lunch one day at a pretty good Mexican restaurant in the gay quarter of Jomtien Beach.
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The gay quarter is located in a lovely complex just off the main road to the beach. While the gay community still lived in shadow and in Thailand was the object of ridicule, the complex deteriorated. But now, acceptance of their life-style has rejuvenated the area. At night, it is quite joyful, if a bit startling when the rent boys call out and comment on your physical endowments as you walk by.
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For about three hours over margaritas, we exchanged stories. David kept us enthralled with tales about his life as a safety expert in the Jungles of Borneo and Nigeria and on the sands of Arabia in the employ of the plunderers of world’s billion-year solar energy reserve of hydrocarbons — stories about armed men and boats equipped with 50 cal machine guns — of sudden deadly explosions — of giant crocodiles and poisonous snakes — of days and nights living, under a sentence of death, in a fortified encampment. When not engaged in derring-do, he lives in Thailand where he relaxes in his own special way. If there were a Nobel Prize for hedonism, David would be a repeat winner.

Along with his other stories, David related the recent travails of Tina, a friend of us both and of whom we are fond.

Tina’s story:

Tina is a sex worker struggling to raise two children alone. Her daughter is now nine-years-old and her son twelve. In the past, she usually worked during the day and rushed home to greet them when they returned from school and to spend the evenings with them whenever she could. She now has reached that age where her appeal as a sex worker has diminished. At first, she toiled as a manager of a cocktail lounge called Heaven, when that did not work out, she opened a small bar of her own that failed. Now she walks the streets of Pattaya, her son watching over his sister in their small apartment until she comes home.
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Tina at Heaven.
After leaving David we passed an interesting place that contained an artists studio and gallery, bar, night club, restaurant and foot massage facility.
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We decided to enjoy a foot massage. The Masseur told us his story
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The Masseur’s Story:

It seems that a few years ago he found his dream job working as a Massage Therapist and rent boy at the Happy Massage parlor across the street. He enjoyed working there and was popular with the customers. Alas, over the years he put on weight and soon the customers no longer sought his services. So, he now has been relegated to working the sidewalk foot massage station across the street. He is very distressed by his current situation. Nevertheless, he gives a great foot massage.

One evening, we went for dinner at an Italian Restaurant we like in the gay quarter. Da Nicola is owned by a father and son from a town (Licata) in Sicily quite near that of my mother’s town (Canicatti). The father considers the wines from Canicatti the best in Sicily. He should know, the house wine in the restaurant, although from Australia, is excellent even though served a little too chilled. The food there is as good Italian food and pizza as you will find in the Pattaya area.
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David laughing at something while the Little Masseuse ignores him.
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The Owner of the Restaurant, LM with the pizza oven in the background.
A few days after returning from Jomtien Beach, my favorite Thai holiday, Loi Krathong, the festival of the lights with which the Thais welcome in the new year, was celebrated. Tiny boats made of flowers and festooned with lit candles are set afloat on the nearby waterways.
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We went to a lake near my apartment where thousands had gathered, bought our Krathongs and found a place by the lake to launch them.
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As we tried to light the candles, a strong wind suddenly struck making them impossible to light. The wind was quickly followed by a torrential downpour causing a panic among the thousands since most had not brought umbrellas. Everyone fled to try to squeeze into the various inadequate public transportation options (No one in their right mind would try to drive in Bangkok to something like this). All in all, the Festival of the Lights came to a dismal end.
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On Thanksgiving, I dined on a plate of pork fried rice garnished with cucumbers and onion shoots.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Only Sicilians Sit at the Table:

“Through the other window could be seen an empty table, apparently reserved for the sit-down. At the back, there was an espresso machine in the middle of the room, where the players occasionally refilled their little cups. Shortly before 9 p.m., Gross’s team arrived. Bayonne Joe Zicarelli left his companions to chat quietly with Nicky and Hicky. Gross nodded stiffly to the innkeepers. While they all were waiting, Hicky, the more serious hood, kept staring at Gross, who interpreted the glare as attempted intimidation. Then, the evening’s judge came walking slowly down the sidewalk, dignified looking, but overdressed for such warm weather in a heavy dark suit. His fedora looked much like Bayonne Joe’s, but the brim was snapped up, not down like Joe’s in gangster-movie style. The judge was Peter Crocciata, then in his 70s, known to police as a consiglieri or elder statesman in the Bonano crime family. As Crocciata approached, Nicky, Hicky, and Bayonne Joe moved quickly toward him. Each embraced him and kissed him on the cheek. Their haste made it seem as if more points would go to the hood who hugged him first. Judge and greeters went into the club, leaving the others outside. Marino and Vogedes stood by themselves, away from Gross and his allies, DiGilio, and Sinatra. They all could see the sit-down through the window, but they couldn’t hear what was being said. Gross quietly asked Sinatra why the principals weren’t inside–didn’t the judge want to get the story from the horse’s mouth? “Only Sicilians sit at the table,” Sinatra replied. “That’s how it’s done.””
Gangsters inc. http://z14.invisionfree.com/GangstersInc/index.php?showtopic=1097

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

.

One of my favorite people, the legendary stripper Carol Doda, has died. Before there were Kardashians there was Carol Doda — except Carol had talent. She could sing and dance. She had brains and heart and she was the first to open carry her forty-fours. She was the first topless stripper in San Francisco’s North Beach, a notorious scandal at the time. I got to know her long after her stripping career ended. She never stopped performing, singing now and then at clubs around town. I met her one evening when she was having dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, The Columbus Restaurant in North Beach. We had dinner there that night and many times thereafter. She was bluff, outspoken and canny, a joyful and entertaining dinner companion.

In her later years she opened up a tiny lingerie shop down a small alley off Union Street. I stopped by the lingerie shop every time I happened to be in the Union Street area in order to spend a few minutes chatting with her that inevitably turned into an hour or so. My daughter-in-law Annmarie indicated that she would send customers from her bridal store to Carol’s shop because she sold a special type of bra there. Everything about Ms. Doda was special. I hope she did not die alone. Rest in peace Carol.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

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

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The quickest way to lose power is to use it and not succeed.”

C. Today’s Poem:

We know this much
Death is an evil;
we have the gods’
word for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing
Sappho

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“My own decision to deal with man’s civilized history as a sequence of separate civilizations was based, in part, on a conviction that organizational and intellectual factors were at least as important as technological and economic forces in determining the history of any civilization, and that the ability of such a civilization to utilize the technical knowledge available to it, either from its own invention or from diffusion from other cultures, depends, to a great extent, on non-materialist factors, especially those associated with accepted outlook and organizational patterns.”
Ribeiro,The Civilizational Process.

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Pepe 0004 (November 10, 2015)

 

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“Homo homini lupus.” (Man is a wolf to man.)
Plautus

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Halloween came and went. I dragged myself begrudgingly along the by-ways of El Dorado Hills following pint-sized beggars in outlandish costumes as they greedily panhandled the local burghers for flavored sugar.
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Local Sight on Halloween Night

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The Day after Halloween

After a day or so of a good rain, gentle so it soaked into the parched soil, the trees seemed happier. Their branches drooped less and their leaves began to unfold. The next day the sun came out so I went for a swim at the health club. I love swimming when the air is cool (it was in the mid-fifties) and the water warm. I floated more than swam, staring at the sky or idly watched the bottom of the pool edge by as I slowly completed my laps.

HRM baked another chocolate cake most of which I devoured. A few days later, he made some tasty artisan bread from a recipe that he and his friend Jake found on u-tube.

I am reading two books at the same time — one chapter from one and then one from the other. I guess you can consider both of them sf/fantasy novels. One written by cj cherryh leans more towards swords and sorcery science fiction with an underlay of the Welsh legends of Morgaine who later morphed into Morgan le Fey of King Arthur and Merlin fame
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Morgan le Fey

— the other, by China Mieville, more a steampunk story about conflicts over language in a world far in the future.
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Despite the vast differences between the stories and the styles of their authors, they have begun to intertwine in my mind into the semblance of a third story — Morgaine, her deadly (Vorpal?) sword Changeling in hand, rides madly across the cosmos toward that lonely, small, strange, planet at the edge of the universe where humans have taught the hugely competent and hugely huge indigenous people how to lie and then addict them like crack freaks to the sound of someone talking shit to them. Then these native metaphor junkies start killing each other and everything else until they are persuaded to enter a linguistic twelve-step program. Meanwhile, in Eddy Poe’s world, the Raven still cries “Nevermore Lenore.”

I cannot wait to get back to Bangkok where the bizarre is real life, the government an indolent autocracy, everyone lies and the sex is twenty dollars retail.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Goodfellas

Wiseguys Jimmy Burke, Tommy DiSimone, and Henry Hill:

“In 1970, there is a welcome party in Robert’s for the just free from prison William “Billy Batts” DeVino of the Gambino family. Present were Jimmy Burke, Tommy DiSimone and Henry Hill, Batts is busting DiSimone’s balls and DiSimone tells his friends that Batts is a dead man. 11 June 1970 William “Billy Batts” DeVino (49) comes to Hill`s bar “the Suite” to drink something and later also arrive Tommy and Jimmy. Jimmy keeps Batts talking while DiSimone goes out to get a pistol and a bodybag. The two then start to beat up William “Billy Batts” DeVino while wiseguy Alex Corcione is still present and Hill sends him away, they kill Batts and had his body disappear. “
Gangsters Inc. http://z14.invisionfree.com/GangstersInc/index.php?showtopic=1097

C. NOMINATION FOLLIES CONTINUED:

1. For about a week following the third debate debacle, the Republican candidates for the nomination have been meeting behind closed doors in an effort to decide among themselves how to avoid being asked questions from the debate moderators they do not want to answer. One proposal that seems to have gained some traction avoids having them forced to think on their feet and answer questions posed by the “liberal” media they chose to host the debate. Instead, they suggest replacing the questions with the candidates reading statements written by their campaign staffs, then go home and call it a debate. Fox news has described those meetings as reminiscent of the Mafia conclave at Appalachia.

Meanwhile on the Democrat side, The Blond Dreadnaught laughs at the Republican imbroglio and tells the nation she loves everyone especially women and children. She demonstrates she is the most experienced candidate on foreign policy by claiming, “Putin (Ivan the Disrober) can take off his shirt all he wants, but I am the only candidate who can de-pants him.” What one does with a naked Putin is anyones guess. But you can be sure of one thing, the Republicans in Congress will hold hearings to get to the bottom of the scandal.

The Green Mountain Socialist, by taking his grandchildren trick or treating, celebrates that least socialist of holidays, Halloween — those without, begging handouts from those with (real socialists don’t beg). Later he introduces legislation to decriminalize marijuana. Republicans are thought to be considering supporting his initiative because stoners don’t vote.

2. In the two weeks since the disastrous Republican third debate, everyone seems to have gone to ground. The media living on rumors and conjecture while the candidates remain cocooned within the protective arms of their campaign apparatus, firing warning shots at any of their competitors who dares to stick their heads out of their foxholes.

3. The Brain Surgeon opined that the pyramids in Egypt were not built by aliens (illegal of not) but by the biblical Joseph to store grain. The fact that most of the pyramids were made of large stone blocks and the space within tiny indeed would make Joseph the first proponent of modern conservative economic ideology — expending huge sums of money and enslaving a nation in order to build a granary that could only store enough grain to feed the idle rich one percent.

4. The lesser of the lesser Bushes stated that he would make a better President than he is a candidate for the nomination.

5. Marco The Water Boy Rubio claims he has a solution for all the nation’s fiscal problems but still needs time to figure out his own financial affairs. He is expected to blame the government for his failure to understand what is going on in his own life.

 

 

REMEMBRANCE OF POSTS PAST:

I have been writing T&T for about six years. Many of the stories in them I have reposted in my blogs. I thought I would post the cites here for a few of them.

My first blog post in “Papa Joe’s Tales, Fable and Parables,” concerned Peter and the Master of the Lingam:

https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/the-raising-of-the-lingam/

Later I wrote a group of “Parables for Our Times”:

https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/parables-for-our-time-the-parable-of-the-lions-and-the-gazelles/

https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/the-parable-of-the-thoughtful-gladiator/

https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/the-parable-of-the-fair-and-just-society/

https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/the-parable-of-the-gazelles-and-the-lions-ii/

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1950: Just under 750 million people lived in urban areas. Today, that figure has ballooned to more than 4 billion — more than half the world’s entire population — and the upward trend is set to continue. By mid-century, about 6.3 billion people will live in cities.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“ I’ll just touch on something else: secrecy in government. Secrecy in government exists for only one reason: to prevent the American people from knowing what’s going on. It is nonsense to believe that anything our government does is not known to the Russians at about the same moment it happens.“
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“If you cannot impose your will on someone without guns or force, you do not have the power you thought you did.”

C. Today’s Poem:

Found as a comment to publication in, http://flavorwire.com/217118/10-poems-everyone-needs-to-read of William Carlos Williams poem “This is just to say.”

“This isn’t poetry. This is complete bullshit. Oh, I’m sorry–how about if I wrote it like this?

This isn’t poetry.
This is complete bullshit.
Oh, I’m sorry
How about if
I wrote it like this?”
NishiHundan 1

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“F × S = k. The product of Freedom and Security is a constant. To gain more freedom of thought and/or action, you must give up some security, and vice versa. These remarks apply to individuals, nations, and civilizations. Notice that the constant k is different for every civilization and different for every individual.”
Larry Niven’s Fourth Law of the Universe.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Pepe 0004 (November 1, 2015)

 

“Stories tell you all you need to know.”
Belateche, Irving, The Origin of Dracula (p. 156). Laurel Canyon Press.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life.

Today, the caesious skies above the Golden Hills filled up with rolling clouds promising cooling temperatures and a bit of rain. Too cold for swimming, I contented myself with a little Poe, some apples and a glass of cranberry juice. Later, after a nap, I pondered if I could do more to entertain myself. Unable to think of anything, I left Hans Pfaall in his balloon somewhere over the North Pole and waded into the problems of Morgaine the qujalan and Vanye her ilin, pursued by Thiye of Hjemur the Immortal Lord of Rahjemur, as they fled across Andur-Kursh in a desperate effort to close the Gates at Ivrel.

Later, HRM and I giggled and shouted our way to the orthodontist. Returning home feeling I had a satisfactory day so far, I took a second nap after which we enjoyed a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs accompanied by a bottle of Lone Buffalo Zinfandel given to us by Stevie and Norbert. I then puttered about on T&T, posted a few articles in my blogs and went to bed believing that I had accomplished more this day than I started out to do.

Unfortunately, my dreams raised a symbolic re-creation of something that I failed at in my past. I was only able to rescue part of it in my dream. After a brief period of dissatisfaction, I persuaded myself that I had done better in my dream than I had done in real life, so I woke up the next day in a good mood.

My life feels like I am swimming through a vat of maple syrup. It tastes good and the smell is delightful, but the going is slow and the blueberry pancakes are missing.

B. MORE NOMINATION FOLLIES:

1. The Blond Dreadnaught proceeds in stately procession swamping her rivals, leaving them a glimpse pant-suited confidence marching off toward the Nomination. The nation’s press, gnashing their teeth at the loss of their story lines, beg the Republicans to conjure up another scandal out of thin air.

The Blond Dreadnaught’s campaign for the nomination, freed from the need to distinguish herself from her rivals, will now drop any pretense of policy and concentrate exclusively on promoting her love of everyone, especially women and children, but not the NRA and Republicans (unless of course they are women or children).

The Green Mountain Socialist continues to fly around the country performing his wickedly accurate impression of Larry David. In an effort to burnish his green credentials, he proposed the legalization of Marijuana.

Martin the Man it seems got his start in politics playing Irish Music in Boston bars. He claims a good dose of Irish music and a few pints of Guinness can solve any national problem. I tend to agree with him.

2. On the Republican side, the Brain Surgeon has leapt into the lead in some polls. A few pundits have opined his popularity rests of on such national unifying themes as preventing college professors and students from disagreeing with him or equating those he does not like with Hitler. Other commentators suggest that the reason for his surprising rise in popularity is that at his public appearances he appears either drugged or dead, which they claim is a quality a segment of the American public wants to see in their President. The liberal and conservative press are beside themselves in anguish. They dread the expected collapse of their ratings in a presidential campaign between a scandal-less Clinton and a Zombie.

3. The Donald, having seen The Brain Surgeon rise in the polls and displace him as leader of the pack, claimed it is obvious that unless the polls show him leading they are not scientific. At his campaign rallies, The Donald’s supporters have adopted the old American custom of beating up those who disagree with them. The Donald promised his supporters that he would introduce that tradition into the White House as soon as he is elected.

4. While tending bar before the second Republican debate, The South Carolina Nonpareil briefly peeked out of his closet to announce that he would consider marrying Grim Carly for her money. (As I have said, sometimes you cannot make this stuff up.) Meanwhile, Kasich of the Longface wondered what had become of his party — something many of us have been wondering also.

5. The Republicans candidates for their Party’s nomination completed the third of their scheduled 10 debates. They primarily attacked the moderators as being part of the liberal media for asking questions they did not want to answer. The Donald tweeted during the debate that he was embarrassed being there. So were most of those watching, I suspect. Everyone criticizes CSMB for not keeping control over the debate. In fairness to the moderators, it should be pointed out that they are news readers and not kindergarten teachers. Anyway, most commentators believe Water Boy won the debate by responding to The Lesser of the Lesser Bushes’ claim he has missed the most votes among all Senators because he keeps “French Hours,” that he is not lazy because other Senators miss votes too. (I cannot wait for the SNL version.) Others thought Cruz the Munster won because he was best at refusing to answer the questions. Nevertheless, the consensus among the common folk was that The Donald won because he was… well, The Donald.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

While there may be several claimants for responsibility for the current crisis in the Middle East, I believe the following article describes the most likely culprit. Although Climate Change may have exacerbated the situation, as the article demonstrates, not all contributing factors are direct causes. It is simply the Tragedy of the Commons played out on a larger scale.

How Russia and Western Style Capitalism Set the Stage for the Horror that is Syria Today — and no it is not about oil.

“Over-exploitation of an ecosystem

The Syrian steppe covers 55% of the country’s territory. This vast steppe land, together with portions from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has been grazed sustainably by nomadic indigenous pastoralists (Bedouins) for centuries (if not more). Each tribe and clan was linked to certain seasonal pastures and this ensured the sustainability of the grazing — a practice finely calibrated on the need of plant regeneration.

These pastoralists of Arabia are known to have been pioneers in establishing ‘protected areas’ (hema): certain pastures were relieved from grazing, permanently or temporary, in order to allow keeping the whole ecosystem healthy and functional.

The beginning of the ecological degradation and destruction came with the modern state, so keen to uncritically import ideas of maximization of agricultural yields from the Soviet Union: in particular the central government decided to nationalize the steppe in 1958, establishing de facto an open access system — a well known recipe for ecological disaster.

Through this arrangement the customary link between the natural resource and its user was interrupted — abruptly disowning the traditional ecological knowledge of this ancient people. The pastures, not managed and protected anymore by the tribes, started to be over-grazed by free-ranging pastoralists.

A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

A similar sort of story of gross mismanagement took place in the eastern part of the Syria’s steppe land, the territory east to the Euphrates, allocated to intensive agriculture via irrigation through underground water.

Water has been pumped from limited underground reserves without much control for decades — so that wells had to be dug every year deeper and deeper with increasing consumption of fuel.

Year by year, desertification sets in.

The alternation of wet and dry periods (sometimes lasting up to 5-7 years) is a key structural and natural feature of this kind of environment. The relentless ecological degradation of this semi-arid fragile ecosystem produced a gradual and steady decrease of its resilience in the face of cycles of droughts made increasingly more severe and frequent by a long-term regional drying pattern linked to the greenhouse effects.

Note that increasing the resilience of ecosystems is actually one of the key natural solutions as adaptation to climate change, as it is currently referred to within the circles of climate change international aid work.

While in the past the steppe was able to recover even following intense periods of droughts, during the past decade pastoralists and farmers have started to complain about a sharp and ineluctable reduction in soil fertility and an increase of frequency of fierce dust storms due to erosion.

An evident desertification process has been on display across the steppe land for quite some time. Recommendations to reduce the ecological pressure on this fragile environment — from myself and others — went unheard.

Ecological crisis fans the flames of rebellion

Following a recent cycle of intense drought during 2006-2010, the agriculture system eventually collapsed in eastern Syria greatly facilitated by an abrupt halt of government subsidies and consequent soaring prices of fuel for wells.

At the same time, the ecological impoverishment of the rangelands reached unheard-of levels. “The drought only brought to light a man-made disaster,” said a local journalist from eastern Syria to the International Crisis Group in 2009.

This combined ecological crisis of croplands and rangelands created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the rural areas of the country, followed by massive internal displacements, that the government clearly failed to tackle and manage.

For the first time ever Syria, known to be proudly autonomous in terms of food production (and actually even exporting food), had to rely on a massive international emergency food aid in 2008.

It is therefore not a coincidence that the uprising in 2011 started in provincial towns rather than in the major urban centres of Damascus and Aleppo, Francesca De Chatel argues, aptly defining the rebellion as a “rural Intifada” — one in which Bedouin tribes of steppe origin played a key role.

The same sort of conclusions were reached in analyzing the triggers of the Darfur war that that took place from 2003 to 2010 not far from Syria. Darfur suffered from precisely the same sort of over-exploited semi-arid ecosystem, while one again rural and indigenous people were the victims, including nomadic pastoralists.
Gianlucca Serra, UN — FAO.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

“One Punch” Sammy Santoro was one of the terrors of my youth as well as one of its dark heroes. (He beat the shit out of Richie Santaliquito twice and he and his gang was about to do the same to me and a friend for knowing Richie until “Chickie” Muscalino interceded on our behalf.) I have written about him in T&T before. The last I had heard of him, he had an operation going using a “little person” to break into homes. I always wondered what had happened to him. For some reason, I thought he had died in the electric chair. Recently by chance, I found the following in a 1972 appellate brief in New York.

“The indictment charged that Santoro and Tortora, along with Joseph Chiaverini, Gene Genaro and Nicholas Rattenni, lent money to Joseph Formiglia although they had reasonable grounds to believe that the money would be used by Formiglia to make extortionate loans. It further charged that they had used extortionate means to collect the money loaned to Formiglia.”

“The scheme began in November 1969 when Formiglia, a jeweler, borrowed $400 from Santoro, promising to pay $40 a week interest until the $400 principal was repaid. Shortly after this first loan was made Formiglia wanted additional money, but did not want to borrow it under his own name. Thus he conceived the idea of borrowing from Santoro on the pretext that he himself was relending the money at usurious rates. Beginning in early December 1969, Santoro made additional loans to Formiglia, amounting to approximately $11,000 by the middle of February 1970. Tortora frequently was present when these loans were made. Rattenni was present at two of the transactions.”

“By late February 1970, Santoro suspected that Formiglia was not actually relending the money. Chiaverini was delegated to go with Formiglia on his next collection date to visit his “customers.” When Formiglia protested that his customers might not like this arrangement, Santoro said, ‘We’ll go around and collect the f____’ money or we’ll break their heads if they don’t pay us.’”

“Formiglia feigned sickness on the collection date, but this merely confirmed Santoro’s suspicions that Formiglia’s customers were nonexistent and that the “loans” were only a pretense to cover Formiglia’s own borrowing. Santoro met with Formiglia and threatened to split Formiglia’s tongue or put a ‘bullet through [his] head’ unless the money was repaid.”

“A few days later Tortora went to the jewelry store where Formiglia worked and told him, ‘My man, you are in a lot of trouble . . . what are you going to do about these f______ loans.’ No arrangements for repayment were made, however. Later that day Santoro telephoned Formiglia, who said that he was going out of town, whereupon Santoro replied, ‘Have a good time because it’s your last trip.’ The next week Tortora went to Formiglia’s store and told him to show up at a meeting at Genaro’s fish market regarding repayment of the loans or Tortora would ‘drag [him] up by [his] head.’”

“Frightened by these threats, Formiglia called the Yonkers Sheriff’s office and was instructed to telephone Tortora and delay the meeting one day. The Sheriff’s office then recorded the conversation.”

“Wearing a hidden tape recorder supplied by the Sheriff’s office, Formiglia met with Tortora the following day at the fish market. Tortora accused Formiglia of juggling the loans and suggested that to repay the loans Formiglia might have to rob a store. Tortora then telephoned Santoro and put Formiglia on the line. Santoro said that if Formiglia did not pay he would break Formiglia’s wife’s head and burn down his house. Tortora then told Formiglia that he better work out a deal to repay the money.”

“The next day Formiglia arranged to go to Santoro’s house, ostensibly to repay the loans. He brought with him money supplied by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. After Formiglia had been in the house a short while, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office entered and arrested Santoro with his hands on the money. Tortora was later arrested by the FBI.”

Sammy skipped out on the trial and disappeared. I could find no further record of him.

Note: Nicholas Rattenni or as he was also known, “Cockeyed Nick” was the head of the mob in Westchester County and a Capo in the Genovese family. He owned a garbage company and controlled refuse collection in the County as well as the construction trades. I used to caddy for him and some of his button men at a local golf club. (They tipped well, so carrying their golf bags became a highly competitive and political competition among the caddies.) A few of the button men were friends of my family. Most of the button men I knew had fled to Florida and other places before the events described in the opinion took place.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

May 20th 2009. In Manhattan, Brian McLaughlin president of the city’s Central Labor Council was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing $95,000 from a Little League fund for the Electchester Athletic Association in Flushing, Queens – cash raised through donor letters that promised, “A Child in Sports Stays Out of the Courts.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Professor Carroll Quigley on how the Western Great Powers subdued the rest of the world from the 16th through the 20th Centuries:

“In many cases this military superiority was so great that it did not have to be applied in battle. The native rulers yielded and allowed their own communities to be destroyed by the non-military weapons of Europe, such as its disease, commercial practices, and legal rules. From this arose the curious result that the English-speaking peoples were able to persuade themselves that they had not needed their military power at all. They spoke of “peaceful economic penetration of colonial areas” even when natives were dying by millions, as in China, from the innovations they had brought in. By “peaceful” they came to mean, not that weapons had not been used because European military power was so overwhelming, but that weapons had had nothing to do with it. The perfect example of this is the opening of Japan to Western commerce by Perry over a century ago. Only to Americans did this appear as peaceful economic action; the Japanese knew then, as we know now,
that it was a conflict of power even if that did not become overt.”
Weapons Systems and Political Stability (1976).

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The so-called neoliberal economics born at the at the University of Chicago is little more than an operating manual for sociopaths.”

 

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Street Cries

When dawn’s first cymbals beat upon the sky,
Rousing the world to labour’s various cry,
To tend the flock, to bind the mellowing grain,
From ardent toil to forge a little gain,
And fasting men go forth on hurrying feet,
BUY BREAD, BUY BREAD, rings down the eager street.

When the earth falters and the waters swoon
With the implacable radiance of noon,
And in dim shelters koils hush their notes,
And the faint, thirsting blood in languid throats
Craves liquid succour from the cruel heat,
BUY FRUIT, BUY FRUIT, steals down the panting street.

When twilight twinkling o’er the gay bazaars,
Unfurls a sudden canopy of stars,
When lutes are strung and fragrant torches lit
On white roof-terraces where lovers sit
Drinking together of life’s poignant sweet,
BUY FLOWERS, BUY FLOWERS, floats down the singing street.

– Sarojini Naidu

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

”Consciousness is an accidental by-product, a feedback loop to conserve resources.”
Mather, Matthew. Darknet (p. 249).

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Pepe 0004 (October 24, 2015)

 

“Were traditions rational, they’d be procedures.”
Butcher, Jim. The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass. Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On my actual birthday, Dick and Hayden had a party for me featuring a chocolate birthday cake Hayden baked alEll by himself. It was delicious.
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The turkey gangs still stalk the neighborhood streets looking for trouble.
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Following our visit to the Reptile Show a few weeks back, HRM has been lobbying us to buy a Bearded Dragon lizard he intends to name “Puff.” So far, we have resisted his entreaties by requiring him to achieve behavioral standards we are confident he could never meet. And, if he does meet them, sharing the house with Puff the Bearded Dragon would be a small price to pay.

This is my favorite time of the year to swim in the health club’s pool. The air is as cool or cooler than the water. Much quicker than at other times, I move beyond consciousness into an endorphin high. (Endorphin High is a place for deprograming annoyingly happy people.)

I plan to depart for Bangkok on the 12th of November and return the 2nd week in December.

On the weekend, there was a book sale at the local library. In the free bin was a 1944 edition of the Tales of Edgar Allen Poe illustrated with those black and white woodcut prints that I used to hate so much as a kid but which I now love. I look forward to reading some of his lesser known tales like Mellonta Tauta, The Imp of the Perverse and The Unparalleled Adventures of Hans Pfaall.
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Woodcut from Ligela

My planning blog Urban Edginess ( https://planningimplementation.wordpress.com/) is now being followed by someone self-identifying as MASTER NECRO MEGA-DAMAGE RAPEFACE. In his blog, he pushes a book entitled “Behead All Satans” that I assume he has written. He describes it as “…a modern-day Mein Kampf, only funnier.” I am pleased I am finally getting noticed. Eddie Poe, eat your heart out.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Nomination Follies:

a. The Donald threatened to boycott the presidential debates hosted by CNBC because he did not want to make an opening statement explaining why he is running for President or stand on his feet insulting everyone for as long as he did for Fox News. CNBC capitulated, not wanting to lose the debates biggest comedy star.

Grim Carly insisted that The Donald and the Brain Surgeon, who also threatened not to appear, were not real candidates since real candidates like her will suffer any sort of humiliation in order to win. One wag opined that if Grim Carly really wanted to destroy Planned Parenthood she should get herself appointed CEO.

b. The Brain Surgeon raised the second highest haul of money among the candidates. Almost 75% of that haul went to pay for the cost of obtaining the money. After securing the loot, he promptly decided to leave campaigning for awhile and go on a book tour to sell his book explaining how he will run the country if he is elected. He promised to deal with our tax dollars with the same efficiency that he treats his campaign fundraising and the Federal Government with the same commitment that Caribou Barbie showed to the Government of Alaska. Most recently he told the nation that he no longer goes around stabbing people or beating them with a baseball bat. He refused, however, to agree not to do so if he becomes President.

The Brain Surgeon, according to one poll, is now leading the Republican field in Iowa. I understand he has secretly offered free lobotomies for anyone willing to vote for him. Most of those who were offered the deal responded that they did not need them.

c. Meanwhile on the Democrat side: The Green Mountain Socialist explained why we should be more like Denmark — that is, we should be a country of six million tall blond people with free college tuition and health care and a fondness for cheese, light beer and vacationing near the Mediterranean. Many people agree. On SNL Larry David gave an impression of Bernie that was so good that I am tempted to vote for David as a write-in candidate.

Joe “Smiler” Biden, who had not been running, decided not to run. He did, however, leave open the option to run for something somewhere at a time and place to be decided later.

Hillary, the Blond Dreadnaught, promised that she will not use a gun in her hunt for sound bites. She then, after suffering through an 11-hour hearing, shot the Republican members of the Benghazi Committee dead with a 45 she had hidden in her brassiere. The Republican National Committee accused her of not being truthful with the nation. She responded, she opposes the NRA but supports 2nd Amendment rights for hunting, especially for those hunting Republican elected officials. The remaining Republican members of the House decided that investigating Planned Parenthood would be safer.

Among the also-rans, Lincoln (Mr. Bean) Chafee assured the press that in the first few weeks of the presidency he will do whatever a lot of people seem to want him to do. About two weeks later Mr. Bean dropped out of the race because all 10 people who supported his candidacy were too embarrassed to show their faces in public. He said he wanted to concentrate on World Peace instead. Deadeye Jim Webb after shooting a terrorist at his fund-raiser shouted, “I bet that will get their attention.” When it didn’t, he dropped out of the Democratic primary to run as an Independent, or maybe a Whig or a Mugwump. Meanwhile, Martin (the Man) O’Malley took off his shirt to flex his muscles for the cameras. Later he played the guitar and sang a Taylor Swift tune on the View. None of them could explain why they were running in the first place, although The Man O’Malley said that now that the other two have dropped out, he will be better able to get out his message — whatever it is.

d. Among the Republican still running for some reason, the Lesser of the Lesser Bushes pointed out that 9/11 was a shining example of keeping America safe. His big brother M, in an attempt to help his struggling sibling out, announced he never liked The Munster. Meanwhile The Munster, plotting to end something or other, hides out somewhere in Alabama while Marco “Water Boy” Rubio told his wealthy contributors that he may or may not be for or against whatever. Finally, ex-Governor of New York Pataki — who unbeknownst to most of the world is also running for the Republican nomination — indicated that although in his opinion neither the Donald nor The Brain Surgeon were qualified to be president, if either of them win the nomination, he would probably vote for them rather than The Blond Dreadnaught despite her obvious qualification.

2. The Real Immigration Problem.

The real immigration problem facing the US is not the legal or illegal movement of humans across our borders (which by the way is decreasing). It is the invasion by viruses, bacteria, and disease-carrying parasites from the tropical and warmer sections of the globe to the more temperate areas, including the US. This migration is brought about by human-induced global warming (or if you do not believe humans are causing climate change, then the historical variation in climate caused by volcanos, sunspots and/or God). Whether it is dengue fever creeping into areas previously free of the disease or sand flea-born organisms causing human physical deformation, or insects, mold, and parasites that threaten our agriculture and forests or something else, they represent perhaps today’s greatest threat to our society. An economic and social threat to our nation that both the Defense Department and the CIA believes may be as great as, or even greater than, that posed by terrorists or armed invasion. Unfortunately, neither political party has addressed this menace.

Simply stopping further global warming is not sufficient. Global temperatures have already climbed enough to allow these organisms to relocate across our borders or to travel beyond their previous boundaries. Even if we take all the necessary steps to halt climate change right now, the best estimates have the global temperature rising another degree or two Celsius. These organisms have begun their migrations and its magnitude is sure to increase. The clock is ticking.

C. BOOK REPORT:

Peter and Barrie Grenell gave me a number of books for my birthday. One of which, 50 Shades of Grey, I explained that although I appreciated the thought behind the gift, I would not read — not because I am averse to deviant sex or even enslaving your sex partner but since the male protagonist is a billionaire, I felt I could not relate. The perverse fantasies of a retiree on Social Security are far less grandiose and focus more on the capacity to function than the ability to compel.

I have however read two of the other books so far.

The first was a fantasy novel by a first-time author Bill O’Malley entitled Rook. It concerns a secret British governmental agency dedicated to countering supernatural threats to the Country. Since it deals with the activities of a governmental agency, a lot of the book has to do with the foibles of bureaucracy. Its chief protagonist is an engaging and highly competent bureaucrat. Unfortunately, she no longer exists. Her body is inhabited by a woman with no memory who must operate on notes left to her by her body’s prior occupant. Like many first novels, its inventiveness is not entirely matched by its style or cohesion.
The second book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, is a more conventional fantasy based on traditional Polish fairy tales. It features a damsel in a tower. But, imagine instead of Rapunzel, the Beauty and the Beast are locked therein except that the Beast is a handsome asexual wizard with a Pygmalion complex. It is a delightful book for those who enjoy reading novels directed at post-pubescent adolescent girls. It is wonderfully well written as one would expect of an experienced novelist based in Manhattan who could just as well have written for The New Yorker. I loved it immensely.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“Many people assume that dissent and the demand for reform are the first step toward revolution. They are mistaken. My study of history shows pretty generally that revolutions do not come from dissent. They come from a failure to reform, which leads to breakdown. It is quite true that misguided reforms which fail to attack real problems may also result in breakdown. But dissent, and reform responding to dissent do not lead to revolution. They lead away from it.”
Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

C. Today’s Poem:

Where is the world we roved, Ned Bunn?
Hollows thereof lay rich in shade
By voyagers old inviolate thrown
Ere Paul Pry cruised with Pelf and Trade.
To us old lads some thoughts come home
Who roamed a world young lads no more shall
roam.
Herman Melville, excerpt from To Ned.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The very wealthy have little need for state-provided education or health care; they have every reason to support cuts in Medicare and to fight any increase in taxes. They have even less reason to support health insurance for everyone, or to worry about the low quality of public schools that plagues much of the country. They will oppose any regulation of banks that restricts profits, even if it helps those who cannot cover their mortgages or protects the public against predatory lending, deceptive advertising, or even a repetition of the financial crash.

To worry about these consequences of extreme inequality has nothing to do with being envious of the rich and everything to do with the fear that rapidly growing top incomes are a threat to the wellbeing of everyone else.”
Angus Deaton, winner Nobel Prize for Economics 2015.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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This woman is a completely computer generated image. Virtual reality indistinguishable from real life is imminent.

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 26 Papa Joe 0004

 

“Patience is a virtue, but waiting is a skill.”
Wight, Will. Of Darkness and Dawn (The Elder Empire: Shadow Book 2). Hidden Gnome Publishing.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Naida West commented on the previous issue of T&T:

“Your blog today is marvelous. Every part of it, including the flow. Weltschmertz isn’t listed, but it lives in much that you write and choose to quote. I laughed out loud at many of the sections, Proust and more. “

Thank you, Naida you have always been more kind to me than I deserve.

Actually, as I pointed out to her in response, I always saw myself as cynical and sarcastic with a strong dollop of ennui (a feeling of fatigue and dissatisfaction packaged with a bit of self-indulgent posturing) rather than consumed with the gnawing sadness and world-weariness of Weltschmerz.
http://mentalfloss.com/article/58230/how-tell-whether-youve-got-angst-ennui-or-weltschmerz

As for angst, not in the least — except for when I read Facebook posts from my more conservative Facebook friends — like those arguing that President Obama lied when he expressed his sadness at another slaughter of our children while they innocently sat learning in school. They, my Facebook friends, seem to believe that despite the fact that the use of guns on American soil by armed Americans have killed more of our citizens than all the terrorists and all the foreigners in all our wars combined, we are somehow safer and more free than we would be if we did not have guns to protect us from the depredations of other gun toting citizens.

Their argument, by the way, seems often to be supported by the claim that in Obama’s Chicago, where relatively strict gun control laws are in effect, a lot of people still die from gunshot wounds, therefor everything he says about ravages of unrestricted gun ownership must be a lie.

The skies above the Golden Hills have cleared following a few days of cloudiness and a smattering of rain and days of unblemished cyan through cerulean from horizon to horizon have returned. The Fall, however, is upon us and the desiccated leaves of the sycamores have begun fluttering to the ground. It is still warm, warm enough to swim which I do assiduously.

My seventy-sixth birthday prompted me to think about epitaphs. The winning one was:
“I came. I saw. I did not like what I was seeing, so I left.”

Some of the also-rans were: “His life had its ups and downs. It gave him indigestion,” “He hated winter,” “I never saw a good reason to get out of bed,” “Some lived their life like there were no tomorrows. To him there were only yesterdays,” “I really did not want to leave. I was only looking for a change of scenery,” “I could have done better, but the stories would not have been as interesting,” “I wanted to leave the world better off than I found it. I never knew why,” “His was always a work in progress,” and, “sometimes, it just doesn’t matter.”

The operation on my left eye went as uneventfully as my first. Unlike during the operation on my right eye two weeks ago, nothing particularly humorous occurred.

I am a bit jealous and annoyed today. The Haystack Show has had more viewers and followers in the few months HRM has been producing it than my five blogs have in the four years or so of their existence. I think it may be time to fold up my tent.

Turkey flocks strut around the neighborhood streets and yards like peacocks strutted the palace grounds of the Raja’s. Of course, our yards are no oriental palace garden and turkeys’ are no peacocks but, a male gobbler in full arousal can still put up quite a display of plumage.
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On Friday after dropping HRM off to school, I drove to Mendocino to spend the weekend with my sister Maryann and her husband George the Mensch. As I left Highway 101 and headed west over the mountains and through Anderson Valley my mind left me and I was barely aware of the drive. I drifted off into writing an essay in my mind entitled “Tu-Tus, the National Football League, and Jaques D’Ambrose’s Package.” Yorkville and Booneville barely registered as I drove through and Philo and Navarro not at all. When I entered the darkness of the Redwood groves consciousness returned. I had always assumed there were only three groves along the highway. It surprised me that I counted, at least, eight before reaching the weedy banks of the Navarro River and the coast. I turned up Coast Highway and wound along the edge of the ocean. I arrived safely at my sisters house a half hour later and, of course, immediately took a nap.

The next day, under an overcast sky, we went for a walk along the bluffs and through the town to the bookstore. Later we went to the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department barbecue where we:

examined the equipment;
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ate ice cream;
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listened to music;
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watched the kids play junior fireman;
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saw a demonstration by fireman demolishing a car;
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met Smokey the bear and,
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had my picture taken with George the Mensch in full gear.
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Later Peter and Barrie Grenell arrived. We walked along the coast and then had drinks out on the deck.
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Still later at dinner, I talked too much.

The following day we visited the magnificent Pacific Star Winery located on PCH just before the mysterious town of Westport and the Lost Coast beyond. The winery sits on the cliff above the surf. If you are ever in the neighborhood, I urge you to visit there, sample the wines and have a picnic beside the ocean. Do not miss sitting awhile in the afternoon sun on Dad’s Bench on the north side of the property above the white spume and the water churning among the rocks. You will not want to leave.

The winery from PCH.
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Our picnic wine poured by the ever vivacious Sally the Winemaker.
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Sitting on Dad’s Bench,
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and enjoying the view.
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That night we held a dinner party for my birthday. It was one of the most enjoyable birthday parties of my life. Making the long four-hour drive to join us were Naida West looking fetching in her 1970s flaring skirt and her husband Bill Geyer looking hale but gaunt after his brush with death. Naida is the author of the magnificent historical California Gold Trilogy.
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Also, Terry Goggin former assemblyman and itinerant businessman arrived in his little maroon Porsche fresh from negotiating an oil and gas deal in Louisiana. He looked dapper in his fedora and leather jacket.
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Stevie Dall and Norbert with his encyclopedic knowledge of almost everything were there also. The Dalls took a break from working day and night preparing the Mendocino LCP amendments to join us.
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Given the intimate knowledge of the last 40 or so years of California politics of the people assembled there, the conversation was fascinating and amusing. The stories ranged from mysterious archeological discoveries in California to the idiosyncrasies and peccadillos of the State’s elected officials.

The next morning after breakfast, I drove back to EDH. I must have taken the long way because this time I counted driving by 15 major redwood groves.

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. It is not that a libertarian candidate for the Senate in Florida sacrificed a goat and drank its blood that is newsworthy, but that so many Americans still believe in his party’s platform.
( “I’m glad there’s a goat-sacrificing eugenics guy supported by neo-Nazis running for the US Senate in Florida, because we need more diversity in the upper chamber.” Daily Kos))

2. Recently, I heard that some believe that the government is intentionally altering our weather and causing the drought in California. Why the government would want to do this, other than Hillary’s concern Jerry Brown may enter the presidential primary, remains a mystery. I, however, believe it is because the government is angry on account of the failure of Jade Helm to take over Texas.

3. Politics in the United States has ceased to be a forum for deciding how the nation greets the future, but a production value deficient reality show.

Picture, Hillary (the Blond Dreadnaught) and Bernie (the Green Mountain Socialist) stark naked setting off into the jungle to survive for two weeks on insects and paparazzi while Smiling Joe Biden stands ready to rip off his clothing if one of them falls into a vat of public ennui. Or, Carly (the Grim) and The Donald similarly unattired, climbing onto an oil rig in the Gulf to battle each other in an attempt to secure the endorsement of a ravenous horde of crazed billionaire campaign contributors.

Performance has replaced policy. — And, what a week it has been.

Hillary appeared on the comedy show Saturday Night Live lampooning herself and The Donald for being “politicians.” She also proved that she could sing on key. As a result, her poll numbers rose. I expect to see Bernie appear soon along with Louis C.K at his basement stand-up comedy venue in the Village.

The lesser of the lesser Bushes, with precious little to trade with, gamely traded wit with Colbert.

The Donald continued to bring along his own comedy review wherever he goes and still insisting they love him in Mexico. At one performance, he brought up on to the stage perhaps the only Latina in the audience who squealed and jumped up and down waving an American flag while The Donald told the audience that she was his greatest fan and he had never met her before in his life.

Meanwhile Carly the Grim, admitting she has no sense of humor, nevertheless got into the swing of things by promising her supporters that as President she will do for the nation what she did for Hewlett-Packard and Lucent Technologies.

Rubio (Water Boy), performing his usual impression of a deer caught in the headlights, assured the voters that he may or may not do something about something or other.

Not willing to be outdone by his competitors on the national stage, Ted (The Munster) Cruz promised next week to close down the world, perhaps even the universe — a real show stopper.

Lindsey Graham (the Carolina nonpareil), Senator from South Carolina, gave one of the best stand-up performances of the week. When asked, now that his state is under about 10 feet of water and he was looking for federal disaster relief, why did he, a few years ago, vote against the same relief for other states battered by Hurricane Sandy, he responded that he could not remember. A few days later he wowed the crowd by announcing that he now believes climate change is real.

The Brain Surgeon won the weekly hilarity sweepstakes, however, by joking that the victims of the mass murder in Oregon could have done more than simply getting themselves shot. He suggested that if he were there, he would have told the other students, “Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he cant get us all.” Later in the week, he mentioned that once when he was dining at the Popeye’s Organization he was accosted by a man with the gun. Thinking quickly he responded, “It’s not me you want, it’s the guy over there.” Perhaps we can include pointing to some other guy in the intruder training being taught to school children now. (Remember nuclear war training of 50 years ago when school children were taught to duck under a desk before being immolated in a nuclear attack?) The Brain Surgeon not resting on his laurels followed all this up by quipping that the slaves really had it good. (Did you know according to a study I recall reading somewhere, the highest percentage of psychopaths in any occupation may be among brain surgeons?)

I wonder, shouldn’t we just strip them all naked, drop them in the middle of the Everglades and let them fight their way out through Opa-Locka and downtown Miami, the winner gets the White House? (Vladimir Putin [Vlad the Disrober] asked to join but he was turned down as a professional at stripping naked in public and running around in the woods. He was so upset at the rejection, he decided to bomb Syria. Meanwhile, Merkel’s application languishes while the judges determine if the photographs of her as young woman posing naked at the beach is enough to disqualify her from ever sunbathing again.)

I am convinced that although we might not have a President here, we probably have an Emmy winner.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

We cannot easily force the multi-dimensional complexities of reality and human experience into a single one-dimensional scale, but, if we are willing to excuse the inevitable distortion arising from an effort to do this, we might range human needs from the bottom to the top, on the levels of (1) physical survival; (2) security; (3).economic needs; (4) sex and reproduction; (5) gregarious needs for companionship and love; (6) the need for meaning and purpose; and (7) the need for explanation of the functioning of the universe. This hierarchy undoubtedly reflects the fact that man’s nature itself is a hierarchy, corresponding to his hierarchy of needs, although we usually conceal the hierarchical nature of man by polarizing it into some kind of dualistic system, such as mind and body, or, perhaps, by dividing it into the three levels of body, emotions, and intellect.

The inability of most of us to distinguish between what is necessary and what is important is another example of the way in which one’s immediate personal experience, and especially the narrow and limited character of most personal experience, distorts one’s vision of reality. For necessary things are only important when they are lacking, and are quickly forgotten when they are in adequate supply. Certainly the most basic of human needs are those required for man’s continued physical survival and, of those, the most constantly needed is oxygen. Yet we almost never think of this, simply because it is almost never lacking. Yet cut off our supply of oxygen, even for a few seconds, and oxygen becomes the most important thing in the world. The same is true of the other parameters of our physical survival such as space and time. They are always necessary, but they become important only when we do not have them. This is true, for example, of food and water. It is equally true of security, for security is almost as closely related to mere physical survival as oxygen, food, or water.

The less concrete human needs, such as those for explanation or companionship are, on the other hand, less necessary (at least for mere survival) but are always important, whether we have them or lack them. In fact, the scale of human needs as we have hinted a moment ago, forms a hierarchy seven or eight levels high, ranging from the more concrete to the less con-crete (and thus more abstract) aspects of reality.

In general terms, we might say that the hierarchy of human needs, reflecting the hierarchy of human nature, is also a hierarchy ranging from necessary needs to important needs. The same range seems to reflect the evolutionary development of man, from a merely animal origin, through a gregarious ape-like creature, to the more rational and autonomous creature of human history. In his range of needs, reflecting thus both his past evolution and his complex nature, are a bundle of survivals from that evolutionary process. The same 4 range is also a kind of hierarchy from necessary things (associated more closely with his original animal nature) to important things (associated more closely with his more human nature). In this range the need for security, which is the one that concerns us now, is one of the more fundamental and is, thus, closer to the necessity end of the scale. This means that it is a constant need but is important only when we do not have it (or believe we do not have it).

Two basic facts about human life as we see it being lived everywhere. These are:
(1) Each individual is an independent person with a will of his own and capable of making his own decisions; and
(2) Most human needs can be satisfied only by cooperation with other persons.
The interaction of these two fundamental facts forms the basis for most social problems.

KEY Concept
But there are almost no needs, beyond those for space, time, oxygen, and physiological elimination, which can be satisfied by man in isolation. The great mass of human needs, especially those important ones which make men distinctively human, can be satisfied only through cooperative relationships with other humans. As a consequence, it is imperative that men work out patterns of relationships on a cooperative basis which will minimize the conflicts of individual wills and allow their cooperative needs to be satisfied. From these customary cooperative relationships emerge the organizational features of the community of men which are the fundamental units of social living.
Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

Could be worse. It could’ve been “Veni vidi VD:” “I came; I saw I had VD.” At least you came, though.

As for me, my life has been a work in progress; it seems, though, that the workers have been on strike a lot of the time.

I’ve always told my kids that I wanted a funny epitaph — you know, something on the order of “I TOLD you guys I was hurting!” or “Guess my home planet couldn’t beam me up in time,” or some such smart-ass things. But they’d look at me and say, “Epitaph??? We’re not burying you — we’re just dumping you on a steep curve in the forest.”

I would either prefer doing the “bake and shake” method of disposal, and Ian and Kristen can decide between themselves who gets stuck with the urn, or if I ever have a spare 10 large (as if THAT is ever going to happen), I’d love to have my ashes turned into a diamond. It would give literal meaning to being the family jewels. But Kristen balked at that, saying she thought it is gross, wearing your dead Dad in a necklace or ring.

That would be one flawed gemstone!

The best idea would be for them to just stick it in my rock collection display with the other pure elements on the shelf dedicated to those — I already have sulfur; carbon in the form of coal, graphite, and diamond (but there’s no such thing as too many diamonds!); bismuth, with its cool skeletal “hopper crystal” form; iron and nickel in the form of a meteorite; gold; copper; mercury; silicon; aluminum (well, foil — ores like bauxite are lumps of dirt); lead; and one or two others I’m sure I’m forgetting.

I won’t have any way of knowing, mind you. But self-delusion can be good sometimes.

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“You can tell a country or a civilization is in decline when wealth becomes more important than accomplishment, bankers more revered than scholars and children fear for their lives in school.”

 

D. Today’s Poem:

Excerpt from John Ashford’s poem, “Daffy Duck in Hollywood”

Just now a magnetic storm hung in the swatch of sky
Over the Fudds’ garage, reducing it–drastically–
To the aura of a plumbago-blue log cabin on
A Gadsden Purchase commemorative cover.
Suddenly all is Loathing.

 

I agree with Ashford, “Suddenly all is Loathing.”

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“You’re wasting your time, and I don’t want you to waste mine. In the clown car that is the Republican Party, she’s the ultimate clown.”
Todd Bartlem, Carly Fiorina’s first husband’s response to a request by the press for an interview.

(Bitter, bitter)

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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