Daily Archives: June 5, 2012

This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. April 6, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

April 2011: Article published in the New Scientist asserts “Masturbation calms restless leg syndrome.

The article explains: “Too much of it will make you go blind — or so you might have been told. But for some, masturbation might have a real clinical benefit: it can ease restless leg syndrome (RLS). The insight could provide sweet relief for the 7 to 10 per cent of people in the US and Europe who suffer from the condition.”

The article continues: “While the proverbial five-knuckle shuffle has already been shown to protect men against prostate cancer and ease hay fever, researchers have yet to discover any detrimental side effects to the visual system.”

Will it, however, encourage restless hand syndrome? I love science.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. The Love Peace party:

English: BANGKOK. President Putin with Thai Pr...

English: BANGKOK. President Putin with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Русский: БАНГКОК. С Премьер-министром Таиланда Таксином Чинаватом. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A police captain and former interior minister under Thaksin formed a new party (called Love Peace party) to contest the next election. He appears backed by a number Red Shirt party (Pheu Thai) leaders as well as prominent ex-police generals. It seems he is also supported by a number of large Thai-chinese business families. His platform appears founded on the dictum that a democracy marked by political factions is no democracy (a very military point of view).

b. Sunny Skies:

As the south of Thailand cleans up from the distraction of the last weeks floods and landslides, the weather in Bangkok has shrugged off the recent cold spell and overcast skies and returned to its more normal condition, hot and sunny .

c. To coup or not to coup:

In response to repeated rumors in the press that a military coup is in the offing a Thai general warned, “Stop linking the armed forces [to the coup rumors}. Don’t ever separate the military from the people.”

Sounds like a coup is coming, in the name of “the people” obviously)

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The past few days have been anything but adventuresome. I have stayed close to the apartment and temporarily abandoned my normal exercise regime. I felt either fatigued or depressed, so I slept a lot.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMOIRS:

Recently I finished James Lee Burke‘s most recent novel. Burke is one of my favorite mystery writers. His series of novels featuring Dave Roebechaux is set in the swamps and bayous of Cajun Louisiana east of Lake Charles. The weather, terrain and history of that part of the US allows Burke to indulge his ability to weld atmosphere and description into paragraphs of mystical beauty. In between the poetry his stories concern Dave, an ex-NOPD cop, ex-alcoholic with a couple of ex-wives murdered as a result of his and his best friend, the whale like, elephantine( with a genetic predisposition to dressing badly*) Clete, another ex-NOPDcop and practicing alcoholic as they inflict pain and mayhem on the miscreants in their neighborhood during their homo-erotic adventures (Although there is not the slightest evidence of anything more between Dave and Clete than extreme example of male bonding, they do end up this particular novel in each others arms under somewhat ambiguous circumstances).

NOPD badge

NOPD badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

(* I have to confess that ever since I started wearing short pants and flowered shirts, my sartorial resemblance to Clete is uncanny [including the grossly protruding belly.] I however do not wear pork-pie hats, although like Clete at times I sport a Tilly.)

Now, violent vigilantism by anyone, especially members of the police force, should set my liberal addled mind trembling with disgust. But as usual with American tales of this type, I understand it is intended as a parable of good vs evil and all manner of bloody destruction is acceptable as long as good (or at least order) triumphs.

I recall when I was a kid living with my grandmother, watching stories on television of Hopalong Cassidy (Black Clothing, pearl buttons, white hat [never falls off] clean-shaven) and other cowboys (White hats [rarely falling off], generally lighter clothing, pearl buttons, impeccably groomed) including my favorite the skinny, diminutive but athletic Bob Steele (jeans and a dark shirt, white hat [falls off a lot], no pearl buttons, clean-shaved) dispatch the bad guys (Black clothing Black Hats no pearl buttons, usually unshaved). My grandmother, an italian immigrant would watch the mayhem for a while and comment in her broken english, “I don’t think you should be watching that. It is all about people killing one another. Children should not be seeing that.”

“Grandma” I would respond. “It’s only make-believe. Anyway it is about the good guys beating the bad guys. That’s good, isn’t it?”

“I don’t see how someone who kills someone else can be a good person” she would respond and walk off shaking her head.

Much of American literature and cinema has always featured this moral melodrama centered on killing for a good purpose (remember, in American hands the mystery novel original tales about the solving of a crime by generally pacifistic individuals using reason morphed into parables of brutality and revenge). It was in the 70’s however that Sergio Leone‘s Spaghetti Westerns showed what other cultures saw in the American moral parable, a homicidal maniac killing at random incidentally benefits people with whom the audience sympathize. The bad guys tend to appear even uglier than their predecessors and as badly shaven, the Hero (Clint) unshaven, poorly dressed (but he still looks cool) and much more handsome that the bad guys (he rarely loses his hat).

While dealing with the ambiguity of my emotions during the reading of the novel, I suddenly realized something that I had never considered before, Dave and Clete were the quintessential proletarian heroes abandoned by the progressive community during the sixties and seventies. (I bet you never thought that I could turn what I have written so far into a political screed. But, since I so clearly identify with Dave and Clete’s unapologetic obsessive compulsive personalities what more can you expect?))

Our working class heroes (OK Clete is a small businessman, but working class nonetheless. He still would prefer to be a cop), have a deep-seated mistrust of big business, big crime, big government, big religion and anybody in authority. They picture themselves as locked in a battle with them that, despite the occasional success, they will ultimately always lose. On the other hand they profess all the conservative moral verities of the working class, family, a kind of elemental piety, disdain for those who refuse to work to better themselves. Rough economic liberals as they may have been they saw the progressives of the sixties and seventies with their interest group politics as the work of bored suburban housewives and the spoiled children of the upper classes , lacking any real experience and understanding of poverty, pitting the poor against the poor on behalf of those in power all in the name of equality and nature while pissing on all those symbols, hard work, religion and the like that they, the poor and the working class required for solace in their sense of hopelessness. To the working class the admittedly mostly male virtues of being left alone to work, take care of their families and make their own way (and yes, get drunk and beat their wives) unhindered by the malicious machinations of the rich and powerful coupled with their cynicism that those so advantaged either cared for or benefited anyone but themselves, equality was the last thing they wanted.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter 16

Vince heard his cell phone ring. It was sitting on the table next to his bed. He left the bathroom,picked up the phone, threw himself on the bed and answered.

“Hello, how are you feeling?”

It was Isabella with her sexy, husky voice.

“Oh hi, OK I guess. I still have a head ache. How are you?”

Fine. I was just checking in to make sure you’re all-right.”

“Thanks. By the way I am not sure what happened last night happened quite the way you told me. I couldn’t hit the guy as hard as you told me. A punch to someone head as hard as that one appeared to be would probably have broken my hand or at least bruised it and yet my hand is unmarked.”

“Well, I couldn’t see too clearly,” she said sounding a bit annoyed. “Your body was in the way. Maybe you used some martial arts move or something. What else could have happened? You don’t think I could have done it, do you.”

“Hmmm… What I know about Martial arts, is… well nothing. You don’t think this was a result of what we were discussing at dinner, do you?”

“Its possible. We both will have to be careful.”

“I think I should go to the police.”

“No,” she said hurriedly. “We do not know for sure. It most likely was just an attempted mugging and frankly I am not particularly enthusiastic about getting involved with the police at this time.”

“Hmm…” he said, “I’ll get back to you in a few hours.”

He closed the phone, lay back in the bed and began to review what had transpired these past few weeks in an effort to make some sense out of it,

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Today’s Chart:

What response this chart really should evoke is not “Ain’t it Awful”or “Whose at fault”, but distress that given the fact that people tend to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains, those that most benefited from the largess of the past will fight harder to preserve their gains than those who had failed to share in the treasure will fight for their cut of societies beneficence [ and they have more money ]. Unless there is some external event [e.g., revolution, economic or social collapse] alas the rich will get richer and the poor, poorer. Be prepared.

b. Prehistoric art:

c. Today’s cognitive bias:

Campbell’s Law – The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

What this means is that, for example, the more that the above Today’s Chart is used to base social decisions upon the less likely it is that the poor will alleviate their condition.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a...

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a year before his death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~Edgar Allen Poe

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 2, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

70,000 BCE: At least 25,000 years before fully anatomically humans appeared on earth, a giant stone in the African Kalahari desert resembling a python was constructed, containing a hidden chamber and surrounded by broken spear heads. It has been suggested that it is possibly the site of ritual offerings and snake worship.

(or an early dope stash)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Second hand submarines:

The Thai newspapers today have followed up the story regarding the purchase of defective Ukrainian tanks by the Thai military by reporting the planed purchase of six secondhand submarines from Germany. The vessels are 30 years old and slated for decommissioning. They have an estimated life of at most an additional 10 years.

The Thai military announced that the needed the subs for national defense because nearby countries like Indonesia have some submarines. Unfortunately, conventional submarines, especially outmoded ones are designed for anti-shipping activities, the defense against which are not other submarines but air and surface vessel with anti submarine equipment.

An accompanying story revealed the real reason for the purchase. The military will have to create an additional command structure for the submarine force (More officer level appointments) and this plan for a Thai submarine fleet has existed for over 60 years and was developed during the Japanese domination of the country during WWII. Also, the military has obtained a greatly increased defense budget over which they, the military command, sets its own priorities. As I mentioned in my comments almost a year ago, this was part of the deal for military support of the current government and for suppression of the Thaksin and his Red Shirts.

(Bad ideas in the military apparently neither die nor fade away. If you give a general enough money he will bring back swords, horse cavalry and anti-ballistic missile defense. )

b. In addition to the recent earthquakes:

The weather in Thailand has become more extreme recently. There have been unusual flooding in many parts of the country, most recently in the south coupled with massive storms creating unheard of 15 to 25 foot waves in the Gulf of Thailand. The north and northeast of the country is suffering through its third year of drought.

Although attempting to generalize anything regarding climate from one season or a few months weather in a small area of the globe is unrealistic. It is interesting to note that local weather patterns experienced recently in Southeast Asia reflect precisely those predicted for the area on long-term world-wide climate models.

c. Catastrophe model:

A recent article in the Bangkok Post business section included a chart showing the yearly increase in the number of catastrophic events in the world since about 1970 as well as the annual insurance reimbursement for the damages. By far the majority of catastrophic events have been weather related, but the chart includes other natural phenomena such as earthquakes as well as man-made catastrophes.

The chart indicates the that the number of catastrophic events per year have increased almost 10 fold since 1970, while the amount of the damages covered by insurance has only grown by a factor of two or three.

Of course, a forty-year trend in world events is too brief a time period to draw general conclusions as to its cause or duration, however I can infer the following:

1. The weather and climatic trends described in the chart mirror the predictions of most climate models.
2. The increased disparity between the damages caused by these catastrophes and the amount covered by private insurance indicates either government is making up the difference through tax revenue or borrowing or more and more of the damage is going unrestored or compensated resulting in a decrease in actual sunk capital of a region or nation.

Also, in this article they describe the results that a well-known economist has drawn from this information. The economist, notes that the rate of return demanded by capital markets on debt and investments currently are higher than warranted by the apparent risks involved. This he maintains is the result of the market accounting for the unreimbursed costs and risks on the ever-increasing damage caused by the escalating number of large catastrophes.

Now if we discount for a moment my own questions about the validity of the assumptions used for this kind of economic analysis and its supposition’s reliability and assume that it more or less accurately describes the situation, then I think that one could vnture the following conclusions:

1. Inflation is just about as likely from the supply side as from the demand and monetary policy is probably inadequate a remedy.
2. Commodity prices (e.g., food and raw materials) should increase at a greater rate than justified by the temporary scarcity of the natural resources caused by the catastrophic events.
3. World capital availability will be diminished at an ever-increasing rate due to both this surcharge on capital and by the resulting inflation.
4. In an attempt to preserve their capital, those that have accumulated great amounts of it will seek its preservation by strategies that in one way or another impoverish production rather than using the capital to increase it, for as Adam Smith observed: “…all… men, love to reap where they never sowed….”

d. Sex Lottery:

The recent appearance of “Sex Lotteries” in and around the old capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya have been reported in the press. For about $1 (30 baht) one can buy a lottery ticket entitling the winner within three days or so of the announcement of the drawing to have sex with the woman of his choice, chosen from a book of photographs provided by the organizers.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am still drifting about trying to decide what to do during the next month or three. Since Hayden’s termination of his school semester and his departure to the US entail three to four weeks absent school, friends (who will be in school) or diversion, SWAC has indicated that she would be amenable to allowing him to join up with his friend Leo during the few days vacation Leo has between  completing his course in his current school and beginning his matriculation at his new school.

I suspect that she is agreeable to contemplate this option because of my unwillingness to remain in Bangkok during Hayden’s temporary forced retirement from schooling.

I also must decide if I will travel with them back to the US in early May. Right now I do not see a great problem with that since after arrival, initially I will be heading to SF and they to Sacramento.

On the other hand with SWAC all things are ephemeral at best.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed to increase suspense.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Machiavelli’s observations (The Mac. Attack?):

“In every republic there are two parties, that of the nobles (read here rich and the powerful individuals and institutions, [JP]) and that of the people; and all the laws that are favorable to liberty result from the opposition of these parties to each other.”
Discourses on the first 10 books of Titus Livius, chap IV.

Mac. was wrong. Although as Keynes observed, “In the long run we all are dead”, in the long run the “nobles” generally will prevail long before the rest of us depart.

b. Pookie’s epistle:

“Christianity was the first creed in history to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love.”
(Anonyomous)

Now I mention this not to point out any deficiency in Christianity, After all for as long as humanity has existed it has always sought comfortable metaphors to justify its penchant to slaughter its own kind. No, I only mention it as an especially apt example of humanity’s facility in the use of euphemisms to justify the murder and mayhem of members of its own species.

When humankind first dropped down from the trees like rotting fruit and stood upright to see above the grasslands of North-central Africa, it immediately set off seeking things to kill. Now some people argue that the first steps on the road to civilization was humanity’s discovery of the use of tools (technology) or symbols (language). I do not agree.

I believe that it was its dawning awareness, that unlike most other species, it could with impunity kill members of its own species, take their land, expropriate their reproduction machines and as a side benefit reduce the number of excess testosterone producers (and potential competitors). It was this awareness that made the creature we call human beings.

As we know, this was God’s way, as He, Himself, tells us in the sacred writings of the Peoples of the Book. For example in Joshua 10:40:

“Thus Joshua struck the whole country. He left not one survivor, as Yahweh, god of Israel had commanded. “

And also in Numbers 31,17.18:

“Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

Humanity, a symbol using animal, required ever more highfalutin words to encourage this unique behavior since plunder, loot and sex grew tiresome, especially as individuals aged and because about half of the species, females specifically, never completely bought into the idea. Eventually, this kill and conquer idea began to be seen by some as a scam to benefit a few members of one boy’s club or another. Even killing for “God” loses his savior faire after a while. So it became necessary for humanity periodically to come up with new words like honor, pride, patriotism, national defense, racial purity and the like to inspire enough people to go out and slaughter their neighbors to make it worthwhile. And although these words were pretty good at getting people up into a killing frenzy, it seemed the boys needed a never ending supply of  new words and phrases  to keep the, happy. No one had thought of killing people for love before the Christians came along. It worked very well for a while.

About one hundred years ago, that group of people currently occupying Northwestern Europe and North America realized that, in general, people seemed  get a little tired of killing one another for love, (or patriotism which briefly supplanted love) so they came up with and even better one word rational for slaying their adversaries, “Freedom”. Now we could happily kill people to make them free. (it should be noted that killing in the name of god appears to be a Middle-Eastern invention while killing for love Central-Mediterranean. )

Unfortunately, about a score of years ago or so, some people (another boys club most likely) realized that killing people to take their land and their reproductive machines while reducing the excess capacity of testosterone production was only a by-product of another even greater need; the need to periodically destroy the weapons and technology of destruction so that new ones can be made, thereby keeping people at work and happy and the owners of the organizations responsible for producing the ever more expensive killing machines rich and powerful.

Now it is true that the same effect could be had by tossing all the weapons and war material into a large bonfire every three years or so. But since the money to fuel the bonfire comes from the pockets of individuals, and while they may be happy to do so for a while for love, patriotism or freedom or whatever, they recognized, that the people paying for the bonfire may eventually decide to want to use their money to pay for other things than weapons to throw on to the fire. In fact, in the United States of America, there arose a debate on whether the collective funds (taxes or other exactions) should be used for things besides armaments, like roads or health care. This was ok as long as there was enough money. However, when the people paying decided that they did not want to pay more, or even as much as they had been, into the collective pot, it became incumbent upon those whose livelihood depended upon the bonfire to throw their overwhelming financial and political support to those opposed to the expenditure of their contribution of collective funds to benefit any other interest than that necessary to assuage their own fear. And as usual, in the eternal battle to control the hearts and minds of humanity, those with the most to gain win.

As Machiavelli observed 500 years ago:

“Those who counsel a prince have to fear lest he should have someone near him who in time of peace desires war, because he cannot gain his living without it.”

And for those who believe that eventually humanity (often referred to as “The People”) will recognize this and rise up and throw out those who have the wherewithal to understand and use humanity’s genetic blindness for their own benefit, it is not going to happen, never has, never will. Liberalism has never prevailed by revolution or by evolution. What we experience as periods of increasing liberality and freedom are usually merely temporary. Enjoy it while it lasts.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.”

~John Adams

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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