Pope John XII (deposed by Conclave) was said to have turned the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano into a brothel and was accused of adultery, fornication, and incest (Source: Patrologia Latina). The monk chronicler Benedict of Soracte noted in his volume XXXVII that he “liked to have a collection of women”. According to Liutprand of Cremona in his Antapodosis, “They testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father’s concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse.” According to The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, John XII was “a Christian Caligula whose crimes were rendered particularly horrific by the office he held”. He was killed by a jealous husband while in the act of committing adultery with the man’s wife. (See also Saeculum obscurum)
(Not only that but he was infallible…At least that’s what he told all the girls. Ah, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, we hardly knew ya.)
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
I have just returned to Thailand from my trip to California. In San Francisco, after ten days of overcast skies and rain the sun finally appeared and then promptly disappeared two day’s later. I am now sitting in a Starbucks located in a huge shopping center in Bangkok called Siam Paragon (Assume something twice the size of the entire San Francisco Center and Westfield Mall site in San Francisco). It has all the shops recognizable in any American Mall (The lines at the Crispy Creame shop across the way extends down the aisle and all the way out the door to the mall) and more.
Given my short time back I did not believe I would have anything to report in this section. However I have just finished reading my first issue of The Bangkok Post since returning and learned:
1. A Thai Member of Parliament allied with an organization called, Thai Patriot Network (The Thai version of the Tea Party) has been shown on U-Tube to have crossed the disputed border into Cambodia and along with 6 other people has been arrested by the Cambodian authorities. Despite this being an obvious provocation, the Thai government has threatened war if the Cambodian authorities do not return the miscreants immediately. While as a whole the Thai military shies away from anything that could put their expensive equipment at risk, this disputed area is adjacent to the area controlled by the Thai elite forces that put down the Red Shirt protest. There is nothing like a little jingoism and military action to shore up an increasingly weakened administration.
2. The Government announced an interesting economic program to attempt to stem the continuing deterioration of the economic plight of the lower social and economic classes in Thailand. It consists of extending Social Security to the 24 million workers in the so called “informal” sector. That is the street venders and taxi drivers and the like that provide the safety net for the unemployed. Also, $250 maximum low interest loan program for these same people and free electricity for low use households. While these mostly benefit the ruling parties urban base, the program also includes a restructuring of the “egg” marked to increase revenue to poultry raisers and reduce the price of eggs. In addition a Community Courts system is proposed, free education to the disabled and increase funds for vocational education.
3. In speaking with a friend regarding the rumor mill, he told me that the rumor is that should the current king die, the crown prince is slated to be assassinated and replaced by his sister. Apparently the crown prince is not well liked by the populace because he lacks charisma and has not engaged in the kind of do good activities as his sisters. He is also accused of spending too much time with his political and military cronies. In fact, his real disability seems to be his flirtation with Taksin as well as his support and friendship with that faction of the military hierarchy replaced by the current ascendency. Although having a female monarch is unprecedented in Thailand,the belief is that his sister would reign in an apolitical manner like Queen Elizabeth. The assassination of a monarch has precedent in Thailand. The Current king came to power after his older brother was assassinated. In that case, shortly following the end of WW II the then King was considered sympathetic to the civilian government that replaced the pro-japanese military government. The Democrats were blamed for the assassination by their opponents in the military resulting in the previous anti-monarchial, pro japanese administration being returned to power and beginning a period of military rule in the in the country lasting more that a quarter of a century. It is interesting to note that the previously anti-monarchy military government immediately switched to becoming stridently pro monarchist’s and instituted the “Le Majeste” laws and reverence for the monarchy that marks Thailand today.
4. The Pattaya area of Thailand now receives 100,000 Russian tourists per month. Most of them are from Siberia. They rarely smile.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN 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.
Some of my Impressions of America after a one year absence:
Following the adjustment of my system to the shock of the relatively cool and dismal weather, my initial impression was distress at the dark, drab, shapelessness of the clothing that everyone seems to prefer wearing. It was interesting to me that when I commented to others about my perception they readily agreed that the fashion was indeed dark and perhaps drab, but they denied it was shapeless. One person even went so far as to hold up a dark grey T-shirt as evidence that some people (himself in particular) did not wear shapeless clothing. And indeed I could discern that it had the classic shape of a T-shirt.
Although the Bay Area looked mostly the same wherever I go, the latinization of the Mission district in San Francisco continues unabated, extending at least another 5 to 10 blocks in either direction along that thoroughfare and the neighborhoods surrounding it. On the other hand the Sinoization of North Beach appears to have slowed in favor of the Sunset.
The Holidays were as usual a mixed bag and the serious illnesses and suffering several of my friends made almost everything appear listless. Nevertheless, my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my daughter and seeing my son and his family along with my sisters family and my grand children cheered me up.
During my stay, I connected with many friends, Maurice Trad and his daughter Molly, Bill Gates, his daughter and his friend Tiffany, Peter and Barry Grenell, Sheldon Siegel, Terry Goggin et.al. and Bob and Charlotte Uram. Unfortunately I was only able to contact others by phone.
In Sacramento, I spent three lovely days with Bill Geyer and Naida West on their ranch and a day with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Surprisingly, I was asked to take Hayden with me during this time so that his mother could go off to the coast (Pismo Beach) with “friends”. He had just returned the prior evening from spending 5 weeks with a family he hardly knew in Seattle while his mother travelled to Thailand to have what appeared to me to be a face lift. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his company and was quite sad when I had to leave him and return to San Francisco.
I will have more about my trip and my impressions in later emails.
Since I have returned, I mostly have spent the time shaking off the effect of jet lag by massages and sleep.
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Attached is chapter three in which the plot begins to unfold. The hook is planted and therefore, instead of ending things here, the story goes on. (Alas chapter three has gone missing)
It is one of the chapters that I am toying with changing the point of view in a later revision. Would it help the reader to get Kitchen’s view of Vinnie (or Vince, I have to settle on one I think) rather than Vinnie’s self indulgent view of things? For example beginning the chapter with something like, “David Kitchen watched Vince, shambling slightly, head down as though in a fog cross the street and climb the steps to the cathedral avoiding as much as possible acknowledging anyone with little more that a nod of his head. A slight smile creased his face as he though how much Vinnie always appeared to him to be…”
My friend Naida West, an excellent novelist in her own right who I visited with during my stay in California, has reviewed the first two chapters and has given me a number of excellent suggestions. I look forward to revising those chapters soon.
a. From the Princess Bride:
Grandpa: She doesn’t get eaten by the eels at this time
The Grandson: What?
Grandpa: The eel doesn’t get her. I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.
The Grandson: I wasn’t nervous. Maybe I was a little bit “concerned” but that’s not the same thing.
b. The Wisdom of Baba Giufa:
Seeker: Baba Giufa tell me about racism in the United States of America.
Baba Giufa:There are only three black men in America. The holy trinity is Morgan Freeman, Samuel Jackson and Denzell Washington. All black sports stars and politicians are emanations from Samuel Jackson and all black singers and actors, people in the arts and all others are emanations of Denzel Washington. Morgan Freeman is God, but only in a supporting role and he is pissed.
There are a lot of black women, however. They are all descended from Ethel Waters. Butterfly McQueen did not exist.
Seeker: But,,but Baba doesn’t what you just said seem…er… seem maybe a little racist? Maybe not… oh, I do not know.
Baba Giufa: There are no races, my lad, only racists and we are all racists otherwise why would we invent the concept of race.
c. Today’s Cognitive Bias:
Endowment effect — “the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it”.
The world is a ball of dung and we are the worms that live in it and eat each other. The one who eats all the others wins — but he is still the last living worm in a lump of shit.
Tad Williams, Shadowrise.