Daily Archives: June 6, 2012

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 11, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Percentage of civilian deaths among all the fatalities in recent wars:

World War I – 15%
World War II – 65%
Since World War II – 90%

With the advent of remote warfare [drones , etc.] soon only civilians will die in wars. Will we still pin medals for bravery on the uniforms of soldiers of the future? Maybe we should issue medals to surviving civilians instead.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. To coup or not to coup:

1) It has been pointed out by some commentators that since the 1934 coup that overthrew the absolute monarchy, every coup has been preceded by representatives of the military announcing there would be no coup.

2) The representative of the Elections Commission claimed that there was a plot to launch a “‘silent coup’ controlled by the military but fronted by ‘respectable figures'”. “This” he continued “would be eerily similar to the ‘holiday’ proposed by the People’s Alliance for Democracy: an appointed government without political parties.”

3) There has been a report of a secret meeting of military and civilian political leaders that decided there must be an interim national government, but they could not figure out how to overthrow the system without a military coup so the meeting was adjourned.

4) Some surmise that a military coup has already been agreed to, but a few military leaders are still searching for tactics that would mitigate international sanctions that would most likely follow a military led overthrow of the current civilian government.

5) This flurry of rumor and intrigue appears all to have been generated by a poll released a week or so ago that shows the “Red Shirts” backed by deposed prime minister Taksin could prevail in the coming election.

b. Who is really in charge here:

It looks like the military leadership has excluded any significant policy role for the government in the border dispute with Cambodia. The military refers to the conflict in the possessive, “Theirs.”

c. Cluster flak:

A BLU-3 Pineapple cluster bomblet at the Imper...

A BLU-3 Pineapple cluster bomblet at the Imperial War Museum. Photo by Max Smith (myself) and released into the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the response to the accusation of some in the international community that the Thai military used the much reviled “cluster bombs” in their border dispute with Cambodia, a Thai governmental spokesman said, “It depends on how you define the term [Cluster Bomb].”

Shades of Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am now back in Bangkok and feeling ill. I am becoming increasingly concerned about my health. Because of this I am planning my return to the US to be sooner rather than later.

Two weeks ago SWAC encouraged me to make arrangements for Hayden to visit with his Chiang Mai friend Leo. I was delighted and did so informing my friends Choti and Gerry, Leo’s parents. They in turn set about planning for our visit during Songkran, the Thai spring water festival. Two days before our departure, as I should have foreseen, SWAC changed her mind.

I now plan to return to Paradise by the Sea tomorrow in an effort to regain my health and composure.

Since school ended for Hayden last week my role here has changed. He is spending more and more time with the maid and has seemed to be developing a close bond with her. It is a shame that, like the maid in Chiang Mai, he soon will be torn from the only nurturing female figure in his life. I shudder to think of what dark psychological brew is being cooked up there deep in his sub-conscious,

It has been said that affection for a child is the only type of love that is directed toward separation. To make sure no one ever forgets this, nature invented teenagers.

Perhaps it is a function of advanced age for one whose time is getting shorter to spend a moment of that time on senseless musings on the meaning of life. One would think that the meaning would be related to procreation and continuation of the species. Nevertheless, I have the impression that for most of us individually we act as though it’s meaning and purpose is something like maturity and self actualization. God knows, I have spent most of my life failing at both. But if you think about it for 3 million years or so our species and progenitors lived just about long enough to breed before we died. Only about a century ago did any but the fortunate few live to accomplish anything but toil for our daily bread, breed and die. Perhaps genetically, mother nature never equipped us to become mature and achieve self actualization and that is why as a rule we are so bad at it.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

Further tales of the little masseuse:

Recently while leaving Paradise by the Sea to return to Bangkok the little masseuse and I took the small converted pick up truck transit vehicle called a songtheuw from the condo to the bus station to catch the Pattaya-Bangkok bus. When we arrived at the bus station my masseuse went to pay the songtheuw driver our fare. Suddenly an enormous row ensued. The drive jumped out of his vehicle, leaving the other passengers to wait while the two of them went at it, shouting at each other.

For a while I enjoyed the spectacle of the diminutive masseuse all 5 feet of her and the much larger bus driver (about my size) shred the Thai cultural requirement of Jai Yen (Maintaining a cool heart). Finally I stepped between them and the driver returned to his vehicle and drove off in a huff.

When I asked my friend what had had caused the argument, she answered:

“I tried to pay the driver the usual 10 baht (about 30 cents) per person fare, but he insisted that I pay 20 baht instead. I asked him why he is demanding twice the amount for the ride than I usually pay. He answered, ‘That was when you travelled by yourself, this time you are traveling with a farang.'”

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Announcement: Would anyone who cares about what happens next in the novel please let me know. If no one does, I will inform the characters that they can brush off their resume’s and seek employment in other novels or (shudder) advertising copy.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Religious history laid bare:

Tertullian

Tertullian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 200 AD, the great early Christian theologian and Doctor of the Church, Tertullian, argued that Jesus was a eunuch (c. 200 AD) . He wrote,“…He stands before you, if you are willing to copy him, as a voluntary spado (eunuch) in the flesh.” And elsewhere: “The Lord Himself opened the kingdom of heaven to eunuchs and He Himself lived as a eunuch. The apostle [Paul] also, following His example, made himself a eunuch…”

(Tertullian also noted the existence of a third sex (tertium sexus) among heathens: “a third race in sex… made of male and female in one.”
Tertullian, On Monogamy, 3: )

Oh my, could Jesus have been a “ladyboy.” Does this mean that in the mornings when I walk past Nana Plaza on my way to the gym, I may be seeing the reincarnations of the Christ?

Now that I think of it, it could be. Sometimes when I am approached by one or another soliciting me for early morning sex, I mumble, Jesus Christ, give me a break. It’s eight o’clock in the morning.”)

b. What is wrong with Economics today:

A few weeks ago I sent out a list of some of the problems that I saw with classical and neoclassical economic theory. A few more have been suggested by Robert Nadeau. He believes the mathematical theories relied upon by mainstream economists are predicated on the following unscientific assumptions:

The market system is a closed circular flow between production and consumption, with no inlets or outlets.
Natural resources exist in a domain that is separate and distinct from a closed market system, and the economic value of these resources can be determined only by the dynamics that operate within this system.
The costs of damage to the external natural environment by economic activities must be treated as costs that lie outside the closed market system or as costs that cannot be included in the pricing mechanisms that operate within the system.
The external resources of nature are largely inexhaustible, and those that are not can be replaced by other resources or by technologies that minimize the use of the exhaustible resources or that rely on other resources.
There are no biophysical limits to the growth of market systems.

c. Today’ chart:

TODAY’S QUOTE:

I thought it would be enjoyable to revisit one of my all-time favorites:

“God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re fucked.”
-Braveheart

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 9 2011

“Any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence is indistinguishable from God.”
Shermer’s Last Law

Could god actually be a gelatinous mass with six eyes?

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1934. Fascist plot to overthrow the US government bared.

American General Butler revealed a ‘Fascist Plot’ to seize government by force. He claimed a bond salesman, as representative of Wall St. group, asked him to lead an army of 500,000 in a March on Capital. In addition, Veterans of Foreign Wars commander James E. Van Zandt stated to the press that, “Less than two months” after General Butler warned him about the plot, “he had been approached by ‘agents of Wall Street’ to lead a Fascist dictatorship in the United States under the guise of a ‘Veterans Organization’ .”

Those bond salesmen, still did all-right. Not only did they eventually make trillions of dollars, but about 70 years after their initial inept attempt, they took over the US government anyway without firing a shot.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Gender wars (more reasons to love science):

Although not strictly news about Thailand, a recent article in the Bangkok Post referenced a study conducted at Harvard or Oxford or someplace prestigious like that, where men and women’s brains were Cat scanned while they were looking at cartoons. The study concluded that women do not expect amusedment but receive great pleasure from it when they are. Men on the other hand expect the cartoons to be funny and are very disappointed when they are not.

This explains to me the reactions of the participants in the scenario where the husband on his way to shower passes the bed in which his wife is calmly enjoying reading a novel, drops his towel and sings out “Ta da” and proceeds on happily to the shower laughing to himself. The wife looks up briefly and unamused returns to her book feeling somewhat annoyed, wondering why she bothered marrying him in the first place.

Imagine, however, if at the moment of exposure, the wife looks up and calmly says, “Not now, I do not have my microscope with me.” The man would experience sudden and complete depression, if not deflation, and stomp off to the shower with thoughts of committing spousal abuse dancing in his head. On the other hand the wife would most likely smile and chuckling to herself return to reading her book. She may even feel a bit of guilty fondness and sympathy for the jerk.

The question remains, why do we even bother trying to live together?

b. Possible Military Coup in Thailand:

As a follow-up to my previous item regarding rumors of a possible military coup and the attempt by the Supreme Commander of the Thai armed forces to warn off any potential military plotters, the newspapers today point out that this general, although nominally the head of all the Thai armed forces, has virtually no control over the Army. The Army was the wellspring of the most recent coups and is now, since the put down of the Red Shirt protests firmly in control of the hard-line members of the military represented by the graduates of a particular class of the Thai main military school. The Supreme Commander on the other hand is not considered a hardliner, is a member of the competing military class and is due to retire soon.

It all sounds ominous.

By the way, perhaps the planned purchase of the submarines is intended to restore some balance among the branches of the armed forces, or compensation for the Army’s purchase of tanks whose only purpose could conceivably be a coup, or a payoff to the navy by the army to remain neutral in any internal unrest.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Delayed because:
a. The rest of this email is already too long
b. I have in fact spent most of my time recently writing this, reading, sleeping and see c. below.
c. I am currently in Jomtien Beach sitting in the immigration office becoming terminally bored waiting for the issuance of my re-entry permit for my impending trip the US (I am number 183 they currently are servicing number 106. I arrived here at 8:30 AM it is now 11 AM. I will be here a while more I fear.)

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed pending evidence that anyone cares.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. The problem with economics today:

The physical theory that the creators of neoclassical economics used as a template was conceived in response to the inability of Newtonian physics to account for the phenomena of heat, light and electricity. In 1847 German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz formulated the conservation of energy principle and postulated the existence of a field of conserved energy that fills all space and unifies these phenomena. Later in the century James Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann and other physicists devised better explanations for electromagnetism and thermodynamics, but in the meantime, the economists had borrowed and altered Helmholtz’s equations.

The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd—they substituted economic variables for physical ones. Utility (a measure of economic well-being) took the place of energy; the sum of utility and expenditure replaced potential and kinetic energy. A number of well-known mathematicians and physicists told the economists that there was absolutely no basis for making these substitutions. But the economists ignored such criticisms and proceeded to claim that they had transformed their field of study into a rigorously mathematical scientific discipline.

Strangely enough, the origins of neoclassical economics in mid-19th century physics were forgotten. Subsequent generations of mainstream economists accepted the claim that this theory is scientific.
Scientific American Magazine » April 2008 The Economist Has no Clothes, by Robert Nadeau.

b. Today’s book report:

I am currently reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book “Blood Rights” in which she postulates the source of the human lust for war is not, as has previously been believed, its prehistoric experience with hunting (too male-centered) but with humanity’s status as prey of the fearsome predators that hunted our predecessors soon after they first dropped down from the trees. I tend to agree with her that the great hunter myth is wrong, before we hunted we were prey. We scavenged and we ran away. As a result we, humanity, developed those human traits that we know so well, anxiety, suspicion and a pathological fear of the unknown or the different. It could perhaps be argued that the function of art, education and knowledge is to reduce the number of unknown things to be fearful of, replacing them with what we really should be fearful of, not what is out there but what is in us.

She goes on to suggest that actual warfare began in about 12,000 BC when with the world-wide disappearance of large mammalian herbivores and predators rendered the male hunter-defenders under employed. As a result they took to drinking, fighting, stealing from their neighbors and beating their wives. While I agree with the timing of disappearance of the large mammals, and the resulting anguish, it is just as likely that the urge to war was generated by the realization that taking your weaker neighbor’s food and resources was easier than the now extreme rigors and insecurity of the hunt. As a rule, humans always have been fairly easy prey. We just replaced the tooth and the claw of the great hunters of the jungle with human gangs with better weapons.

Unfortunately she seems to stray from her thesis a bit when she attempts to argue that her observations somehow justifies the erroneous contention of many feminists that women are just littler men who bear children.

She pictures the prehistoric women strapping their baby on to her back, throwing he dugs over her shoulder and leaping upon the menacing saber toothed tiger with equal if not greater ferocity then her male companions who, it might be added, are unburdened by either child or breasts. Mother Courage in animal skins.

Really now, do we need that image to prove that male chauvinism, is as muddle-headed as most males themselves.

While I am sure women joined in protecting the tribe as they tramped through the predator infested grasslands of north central Africa, in fact, given the short life span of these proto-humans and their omni-temporal sexual proclivities, most mature women of the tribe would be either pregnant or lactating. It would be foolish and unnecessary for them to be on the front line of danger except in the most dire of circumstances.

I think it is sufficient to recognize that from a species perspective woman are much more valuable than men. A tribe of 100 men and one woman will soon go extinct. A tribe of 100 woman and one man will probably survive. (This is not to deny the nigh probability that the sole representative of his or her sex in the suggested examples would soon die of exhaustion.)

In the battle for survival of the tribe from predation men are expendable, women are not. it could be argued that women are expendable in childbirth [just ask the Catholic Church and the Pentecostal mafia].Talk about giving up ones life for society, childbirth has taken a greater toll on women than all the wars of history have taken on men . If we are able to draw any genetic predisposition from the situation it is that men are conditioned to die often for no real reason while women are conditioned to survive and take care of themselves (that is why they are generally smarter than men). Until recently women had no choice but to give up her life for the benefit of the species in childbirth. Men have always had the choice of giving up their life in war even though most of them were too dumb or testosterone poisoned to realize it.

She also argues from the historical evidence of  existence of a number of ferocious goddesses, such as Kali, Artemis, the Gorgon and so on, that it somehow indicates in pre-historic times men acknowledged women could be as blood thirsty as they. While that is undoubtably true as history and the “Badass of the Week” website will attest, the conclusion that women are just like men or that they can and should do what men do does not follow. (If they want to do it, that’s another thing, foolish as that may be.) In her eagerness to right the wrongs imposed on women by male mythmaking, she is selling her gender too cheaply.

At one point where she dismisses the female goddesses of agriculture and fecundity as male constructs. She argues that the prehistoric figurines found throughout the much of the Eurasian continent that have been interpreted as fertility representations in fact merely reflected that women of the time were generally fat. She then wonders why depictions of men in cave paintings showing them a small and skinny with big penises are not considered fertility symbols also.

Nevertheless, the divisive intellectual conflict between feminism and male chauvinism aside, it seems to me the central problem with her theory of the genesis of war is the basic mistake that she and most other commentators (male or female) make when theorizing about the fundamental causes of armed conflict. They fail to differentiate between the psychological, social and genetic makeup of those who go off to fight in wars and those that send them there.

To me, humanity’s predisposition to warfare is explained not by simply whether they were originally predator or prey but by the fact that when they first dropped from those protective trees and trembling stood upright so that they were able see above the grasses of the veldt, they looked about for four things, predators, prey, sex and someone to do the dirty work or to take the fall.

Imagine if you will, a small band of proto-humans are set upon by a ravenous saber-toothed tiger. One of the men guarding the tribe turns to the one next to him and says, “Quick Smith run over there and punch that thing in the nose.”

Smith in his manly exuberance does so.

“Oh-oh” says the first man. “Too bad for Smith, brave of him though. Well, lets push on while the cat is busy with him.” He turns to the rest of the tribe as they prepare to run away and shouts, “We shall remember Smith’s sacrifice for all eternity.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” 
~H.L. Mencken

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: