Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
~John Stuart Mill
1805. The Viennese man Johann George Lehner invents the Frankfurter.
(I always thought his name was Nathan and he lived on Coney Island.)
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
Today while sitting on the beach at Paradise by the Sea with Nicky and Hayden watching the Siberian hoards filling the strand around us like grunion during a full moon, I commented that I thought it strange that it was so rare to see any of them smile. Nicky observed that during his travels through Russia and Siberia a few years ago, outside of the larger cities, running water into homes was rare. I responded that if that was true Thailand must appear to them to be a first world country.
Of the few times I have seen what passes for a smile among the Siberians, they appeared to scrunch their mouth into a brief frozen rictus somewhere between a grimace and a grin. Americans on the other hand, in addition to smiling easily when amused, often smile as a signal of non aggression and sometimes embarrassment. During my stays in Europe, that often prompted many Europeans that I encountered to consider us Americans slightly addled and empty-headed. In Europe smiles were reserved for humor. Meeting people required a more serious demeanor. It was a matter of respect.
Thailand has been called, “The Land of Smiles.” I read somewhere that a Thai has 13 types of smile. I believe nine of those smiles mean, “I’ll get you later, you son of a bitch.” One means, “I have gotten even with you.” One is, “You lost face and I haven’t,” and one is for pleasure, usually exhibited when some farang embarrasses himself. The final type of smile is reserved for other Thai’s and we foreigners never get to see it.
When she was not too much older that Hayden, my daughter Jessica suffered similar fears of the night and of sleeping that he does, and for similar reasons. So, every night at bedtime, I used to tell her long involved tales within a never-ending story. To her great annoyance often the stories would put me to sleep well before her.
With Hayden, I make up separate shorter stories every night in an effort to avoid nodding off during the telling. Last night’s story was a tale in a series about Danny, a boy of about Hayden’s age, and his pony Acorn. Danny had ridden Acorn to school where the Good Princess Zoe (the same name as Hayden’s teacher) sent him on a quest to the Mountains of the East to free the Prince of Words from the evil witch Miss Spelling and prevent her from turning the world into a dark place of unreadable books and a babble of unintelligible speech. Danny had to spell his way to dispatch Miss Spelling, free the prince and save the world. When I finished, I asked him what he thought of the story.
“Who is Miss Spelling’s mommy?” he responded.
I could not answer him but promised to reveal it to him in a later story. I could use your help. Does anyone out there know Miss Spelling’s mommy?
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Chapter 8, in which Vince, still in search of a plot for his story, contemplates giving it all up and returning to Thailand.
As he sat in the automobile trying to digest the news of Charlie’s disappearance into the Alaskan wilderness, Vince put a call into his cross-dressing secretary Ray to instruct him to go to Sam’s house and collect all the files in the “Secret Room”.
“OK I will get right on it,” he answered. “Would you like more information on Ms. Woo-woo,” he added?
“You know the background of that Isabella Yeung woman you asked me to look into.”
“No, I’m too busy.” Then he remembered that he had agreed to meet with her tonight. “OK what did you find out?”
“I think her parents or relatives were Theodore Yeung a successful computer scientist specializing cryptography and Isabella Zeffino Yeung a well known neurosurgeon. They died 15 years ago in an unexplained small plane crash in upstate New York 15 years ago.”
“So, what makes you think they were related?”
“I located an order of the probate court in New York City three years ago releasing the contents of Theodore and Isabella’s Estate to an Isabella Yeung. What is odd however there is no record of the Yeung’s having a daughter only a son, David. He apparently was a Navy Seal and went missing about eight years ago on some hush hush mission in central America and is presumed dead.”
“So, he could have married this Isabella.”
“No marriage license.”
“Could have married anywhere. What makes you think it is our Isabella?”
“Similar ages names and nothing else on the record.”
“Hm, sounds pretty flimsy to me. Look don’t waste any more of your time on this, just get on over to Coign’s house and pick up those files as soon as you can.”
“OK boss,” and he hung up.
Vince thought for a moment about today’s surprises and tried to make sense of them. He quickly gave up and drove back to the office.
When he arrived Nina told him that there were some people in reception wanting to meet with him. He walked into the reception area and found three people sitting on the low uncomfortable furniture that seems to be the standard for reception areas in doctor and lawyers offices. They stood up when he approached them.
“I am agent Kittrel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” said the beefy one. “And this is Agent Gonzales,” he continued indicating a dark stocky woman on his right “and this in Mr. Jessel from the Department of Defense.”
Jessel appeared to be far beyond retirement age for a federal employee, tall, wispy white hair, stooped.
“Wait right there,” said Vince. “You know better than this. If this is about Red Star, the firm has retained counsel and all communications must go through him”
Ronald Bekker of the well known white collar crime boutique firm in the City named Bekker and Schulman had been retained by the firm to represent it in the investigation. The attorney’s of the firm potentially involved also had all hired their own lawyers.
“We are not here to discuss the investigation,” beefy said. “But since you are the new managing partner of the firm we thought it would be a good idea to introduce ourselves to you”
“OK, you have and it is still inappropriate. Thank you for your consideration in stopping by. The firm wants to cooperate fully with the investigation. I trust I will be seeing you all again in the presence of Mr. Bekker, not too soon I hope.” Vince gestured toward the elevator bank.
“Oh,” said the spokesman, “I am sure you will, and very soon.” As they moved off toward the elevators. The old one lagged a bit behind the other two and with a wintry smile said, “It was a pleasure meeting you Mr. Biondi. I have heard a lot about you.”
“I doubt it. Both the pleasure and the lot,” responded Vince as he turned and made his way back to his office.
Once back in his office he slumped forward in his chair. He shook his head and thought, this is all too much stress, maybe I should just quit and return to Thailand.
Then he sat back, looked up at the ceiling as a hard smile crossed his face and said aloud, “God, how I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
a. Book World from Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next or one thereafter:
The ongoing story of Thursday inviting three characters into her home.
“Welcome to my home, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov.”
‘Oh,’ said Raskolnikov, impressed that I knew who he was. ‘How did you know it was me? Could it have been the subtle way in which I project the dubious moral notion that murder might somehow be rationalized, or the way in which I move from denying my guilt to eventually coming to terms with an absolute sense of justice and submitting myself to the rule of law?’
“Neither,” said I. “It’s because you’re holding an axe covered in blood and human hair.” (To be continued…)
b. Today’s cognitive bias:
Availability heuristic — estimating what is more likely by what is more available in memory, which is biased toward vivid, unusual, or emotionally charged examples.
“Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.”