Daily Archives: June 18, 2012

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Capt. Coast 0001 (May 14, 2012)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE DREAPER

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

WINNIE and I

I walked in the blazing heat of the Bangkok sun to the health club today; heels striking the pavement heavily, shoulders hunched, head down checking the sidewalk in hopes of avoiding falling through a hole into one of those inky black and disgustingly dangerous sewers that were at one time canals. My neck jutted out parallel to the ground like that of a turtle or a chicken as I walked. Plodding along, I, as old men often do, ruminated through the parched grasses of memory. I surprised myself by finding I had become fixated on Winston Churchill.

No, not the balding, rotund, cigar smoking, alcoholic, bigot who many believe won World War II single-handedly despite the death of millions of allied soldiers and the unlimited aid of American industrial might, as well as the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of mostly non-white colonial serfs who gave up their lives at the request of the Free French generals in order to liberate a nation most of whose population had settled down happily and comfortably under the tyranny of the SS. No, not him, but Winston Churchill (of some number, I think III) a scion of an American offshoot of the legendary British family who attended Fordham College with me back in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Fordham was a Catholic, Jesuit run university located at a place called Rose Hill in the Bronx at the edge of a large Italian ghetto. Winnie, as he was called, enrolled at this second-rate Catholic university instead of ivy coated halls of Harvard or Yale to which his ancestry and wealth entitled him, because his fanatically Catholic mother insisted that he bide his time under the watchful eyes of the Jesuit order before receiving the rewards due a Churchill.

There was no question in anyones mind, least of all Winnie’s, that he was destined for great things. In addition to his name and heritage, he was clearly one of the five or six smartest students at the university. He also was tall as befitted a child of the nordic-germanic races as opposed to we much shorter celtic and mediterranean types that peopled the campus. He was blond, blue-eyed and handsome in a pretty sort of way. The only blemish on his appearance that I could recall was his blade thin nose that erupted from his face like a knife after slicing through a round of camembert. For someone who came from a race of either bulbous or beak-like probosci, Winnie’s nose simply appeared unimpressive to me. His nostrils were so narrow I wondered how he got enough air through them to survive. I half suspected that he had a bottle of compressed oxygen secreted nearby and would now and then slip out for a nip, like a Bowery denizen would nip at a bottle of Thunderbird encased in a brown paper bag.

However, what mostly set Winnie apart from the rest of us, and if you would have asked me at the time the rest of humanity, was his abiding belief that what was good for Winnie, was… well, all that really mattered. Now this did not mean that Winnie was mean or callous; no not at all. If an old woman walking in front of him on the sidewalk tripped and fell, Winnie would not hesitate to stop and help her up. And in response to the old woman’s expression of thanks, flash his broad smile as though her gratitude was his due. Of course, if the old woman tripped and fell into a puddle of mud, he would most likely walk right by. Wouldn’t anyone?

Anyway, in our senior year, many of us took the LSAT examination required for those of us planning to go on to law school. That year they introduced an additional day of exams directed at testing our general knowledge. When the results came back I scored 800 out of 800 on the general knowledge portion of the exam which was the highest in the school (Winnie was second but far behind me) and obviously no one in the State of New York had gotten higher since that was as high as the scoring system went.

Now I scored so high on this exam not because I was particularly smarter than anyone. I was not. My scores on the other two days or the exam proved this since they were barely adequate to get me into a second-rate law school. No, it was that my reading regime and obsessions with factoids gave me an advantage. That and the fact that this portion of the exam was multiple choice and I firmly believed that anyone that could not get at least 90 percent right on a multiple choice test, even if the test were in a foreign language that you did not understand, was mentally deficient.

Nevertheless, I was sort of pleased with the results. Not pleased enough to tell my mother, but pleased enough to hope some of the young women around campus would hear about it and think that I was interesting enough to date. This was the end of the 50s after all. Alas, it never happened.

As I contemplated my forlorn hope, I received a message from the Dean of Students requesting I come immediately to his office to discuss the results of the LSAT exam. Now, I do not remember how the message was delivered. This was after all before computers and mobile communication. I guess it was the usual method of communication available at the time; another student shouting at me as I walked across campus, “Hey Joe, the Dean wants to talk to you about the LSAT right away.”

So off I went with the hope of some official recognition that would intrigue the girl of my dreams.

Now, it is important to understand Jesuit management as laid down centuries ago by the order’s founder Ignatius of Loyola, a frustrated Basque ex-solder who because of an injury suffered in battle could no longer do what he knew best, kill people, decided to apply his soldierly skills on behalf of the Pope and make war on people’s minds. His management system required that the head guy (it had to be a guy) must be beloved. So his job was to say in public only things that made people happy and made them love him. His second in command had to be the prick and do all the dirty work. It was essential that the prick was deeply loathed by everyone so that the head guy looked even better by comparison.

At Fordham, as far as I knew, the second in command was the Dean of Students (actually I may have his title wrong it may have been the Dean of Discipline, but whatever).The Dean of Students was a prick.

I entered the Dean’s office. Although outside it was a bright spring afternoon the office was gloomy, curtains drawn. A small lamp on the desk provided most of the light. The room was furnished with that dark almost black wood furniture in that gothic style that Catholic religious of the time seemed to like so much. Winnie was there, sitting in a chair off to the side in an elegant upper class slouch, his knife nose pointed towards the ceiling a few feet behind the Dean’s desk. His face absent its usual slightly supercilious smile, his blue eyes blazing with annoyance or anger or something else that I could not guess at.

I took a seat before the Dean. The chair was one or those uncomfortable, tall backed, wooden chairs with twisted columns holding up a cross-piece of dark reddish-brown wood about a foot above my head. The wood slat had a lion’s head carved into it to go with the claws on the base of the chair’s legs. A similar much larger set of claws held up the Dean’s desk.

The Dean a man of average hight, with a round face and eyes that peered out at you through slits. Slits not so much like the epicanthic narrowed eyes of Asians but simply slits through which one could not see the eyes behind, only blackness. He wore a black cassock and a shawl of some sort. He leaned forward and asked in a low nearly inaudible voice, “Do you know your marks on the General Knowledge section of the LSAT exam?”

“Yes, father,” I responded.

“Who do you think you are,” he continued in that same low voice? “I know all about you. You never come to class. You do not complete your assignments. Your grades are barely even mediocre. What right to you have getting a higher mark than those students like Winston here who work so hard?”

Now, Winnie did turn in his assignments and I did not. That is so. But if truth be known, his attendance record was not all that much better than mine.

Anyway, I did not get to say anything, because with a flick of his hand the Dean dismissed me.

“Thank you, father,” I mumbled. I got up, passed Winnie who now had a broad leer on his face and I left the room.

I felt neither good nor bad, neither humiliated or angry, but only concerned about how I was going to go about meeting girls now…. After all I was barely more than a teenager, the Sixties actually did not begin in earnest until at least 1965 and no one really smoked dope except musicians. (to be continued)

NOTE: The above, I am sure you all recognize was written as entertainment. Although the events were as described, Winnie as I knew him then was far more complex and sensitive than I describe him here, as I hope so was I. The Dean of Students, however was a prick and will always be a prick.

As long as I am on the subject, why is it OK to call a man a prick but not OK to call a woman a cunt? Who decides these things anyway? I am sure that in the all girls Catholic schools of the time the nun counterpart to the Dean of Discipline (or Students or whatever) was a cunt and was so referred to as by any student that had run afoul of her.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Add Insult to Infamy:

The alleged escort at the center of the Secret Service scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, gave an exclusive interview to Today on NBC, describing the accused agents, among other things, as “stupid,” “idiots” and as having left “their duty behind.”

The 24-year-old Dania Londono Suarez told NBC that the Secret Service agents seemed accustomed to soliciting women, saying the three men who approached her were not shy, drinking vodka “like it was water” and as having shown off their bodies while they danced.

“I don’t know how Obama had them in his security force,” she added.

(Showing off their bodies while they danced? Don’t you think Obama is carrying this gay thing a little too far?)

2. Stars Fall from the Sky, Dewey LeBoeuf

It was of interest to me to read of the collapse of the mega law firm Dewey LeBoeuf. Dewey LeBoeuf was created out of the merger of long time Wall Street entrenched law firm Dewey Ballantine and the LeBoeuf firm (both firms included the names of a number of other attorneys in their titles as part of the compulsive ego gratification that accompanies the practice of law. Alas, those names are mostly gone from memory now; at least they are from mine.)

When I first got into the law racket about 45 years or so ago, Dewey was among the 4 or 5 most powerful law firms on earth and as such they believed their success depended upon prohibiting women, catholics, jews, black people, anyone who had not graduated from Harvard or Yale Law Schools, and a host of others from joining their partnership ranks. Anyway about 10 to 15 years ago, in addition to allowing some of those undesirables to join them as partners and having their brains beaten in commercially by those previously rejected attorneys who opened their own firms or joined those more amenable to their aspirations, like LeBoeuf, they lemming-like got carried away by the urge to merge or die that was so prevalent at that time and began looking for a match. Eventually they found LeBoeuf who was also trolling the streets.

While I sat on the management committee of Sheppard Mullin, a medium-sized California-based law firm, we were approached by both Dewey and LeBoeuf, each offering to lift up their skirts if we lift up ours. I and several members of the management committee had already decided to expand, but our preferred approach was to seek practice groups or firms with compatible practices in specific markets where we (our existing practice groups) wanted to be. I and I am sure some of the other committee members rejected the urge to merge for size and market weight that most large firms believed would lead them to untold wealth and power.

Anyway we looked into both Dewey and LeBoeuf and concluded that they were, among other things, already in decline. In Dewey’s case because, in part, the arrogance instilled by their previous prominence caused them to reject both practices and people their founders disdained and as a result life and fortune passed them by. LeBoeuf’s situation, if I remember correctly, was their thoughtless pursuit apparent business opportunities that failed to pan out. So, we rebuffed their advances.

Eventually they found each other, merged and did reasonably well at a time when anyone with a shoeshine box could do well and ultimately failed because despite their pretense of infallibility, they refused to recognize that the blind belief in their own talent is no substitute for appreciating that in general the times change us and not us them and the best we can do is adjust or hope we get lucky; and anyone can do that.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

I previously have written here and in my blog posts, the observation that we are witnessing a basic change in the world’s economic activity, beginning first in the so-called more developed nations.

In the 1700s economic’s as we tend to think of it was based primarily on understanding trade and the incipient industrial advances contributing to its growth. This was the time Adam Smith and his followers attempted to describe what they saw. By the Nineteenth Century industrialization spawned socialism and its reaction as an attempt by the emerging self identified élite calling themselves economists to illustrate the situation as they experienced it. Being addled by their own theories, they still relied on the analysis of Smith et.al. but added “updates” to attempt to preserve the theory and hopefully more accurately describe the situation as they found it. Few if any (Marx excepted) recognized the circumstances were totally new and may have required a completely new theory, analysis and description. After all, trade was no longer the driving force, production and consumption was.

In the Twentieth Century things changed again. The central focus of the “economy” morphed from production and consumption to getting people from here to there in order to produce or consume. It could be argued that the major portion of economic activity throughout most of the century was dependent upon transportation, not as merely the means of moving goods to market but the major driver of economic activity; in effect its purpose. The economists adjusted their old theories steadfastly refusing to recognize the fundamental change of everything.*

We are now facing perhaps another basic upheaval in economic activity. Social media and mobile communications have made transportation less central to ones life. Vehicle miles per person is steadily decreasing.


As a result, economic activity based upon getting people from here to there is also contracting. To a great extent that is what is exacerbating the current economic turmoil (if not its cause). We are entering a new economic age. Once again most economists fail to recognize it.**

* Note: Between the 1960s and about 2010 some commentators have suggested that there may have been another fundamental shift; from a transportation economy to one based upon the exchange of financial instruments. It arose because there appeared not to be enough industrial and transportation projects to sop up all the money that had been created. So, gambling on itself seemed to be a reasonable way to continue choosing winners and losers. This era appears to have been born and now be dying right before our eyes. It may have been either an exceptionally short-lived shift in the world’s economic foundation or merely a transition between two generations. In my opinion it is probably the latter.

** Note: Should this most recent pattern change fail to mitigate the effects of climate change, expect the next so-called “paradigm shift” to focus on remedial actions to limit the effects on the environment from the carbon byproducts and waste produced by the industrial and transportation economies bringing with it a new economic template. Economists at that time will still try to preserve their theories and will tell you that essentially nothing has changed in their analysis. Not only will they be wrong, but they still will not be able to predict anything of any importance to anyone with any greater accuracy than the flipping of a coin.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.

Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA)

Recently I have been involved in a series of email exchanges with Norbert, and environmental scientist Michael Vasey who is writing a paper about the genesis ESHA regulatory policy of the California Coastal Commission that has become so controversial. It has been fascinating watching their meticulous exploration through innumerable documents and interviews exploring almost 40-year-old memories to try to piece together how a concept that was originally ignored ultimately became so prominent a part of the coastal regulatory program.

It should be pointed out however, that at the time the Coastal Plan and the 1976 Coastal Legislation, environmentalism as we have come to know it was in its infancy. Novel ideas and concepts were constantly being thrown around as people struggled with how to deal with the negative environmental and social effects of development.

While preparing the Coastal Plan, the emphasis that had come down to us from previous efforts was to focus on what was uniquely coastal. After all the coastal zone was simply an area designated for special regulation not imposed elsewhere. So for all intents and purposed we tried to identify those “resources” that were essentially coastal. For example, beaches along the ocean could be considered “coastal” along with the dune systems surrounding them. A bunch of sand buried a mile or so inland under some turf generally would not considered a coastal resource. Just because something someone thought was valuable but had not relation to the coastal zone other than location and appeared other places inland would not be considered a coastal resource to be subject to the heightened regulatory regime being imposed along the coast unless one could demonstrate other things that “connected” it uniquely to the coast.

Carrying this out further, simply a natural process or flora or fauna habitat that would be impacted, but existed in abundance elsewhere outside of the coastal zone was not considered in need of unique coastal protection policies no mater how sensitive they may be, unless it could be demonstrated that there was some unique coastal value involved.

Take the buried sand, undoubtedly someone somewhere would for whatever reason want to have the Coastal Commission preserve it from alteration due to development. During the early days we, the Commission staff would require some convincing evidence that there was some unique coastal value involved and not simply something to be used to halt a development proposal.

Similarly some developments were considered dependent upon the Coast, such as ports and marinas and the like. If they were to go anywhere they had to go on the coast and so they were coastal dependent. Other developments did not have to be sited on the coast and could be accommodated inland. So where a non-coastal dependent development would impact coastal resources it could be denied. On the other hand in the case of a coastal dependent development one have to make value judgements between coastal dependent development and natural coastal resources. In most cases with coastal dependent development, at least in the Coastal Plan there was an assumption that, for a number of reasons, they would in most cases ultimately be built. So it was important that in these cases the analysis was not simply mitigation of coastal resource impacts but avoidance of impacts on other resources deemed significant as well.

It could be argued (and it was) during the development of the plan that an extractive resource located in the coastal zone was more or less coastal dependent (the Commission went through contortions in their attempt to bring flexibility into the process, even to the point of adding something called “coastal related” into the analysis).

So with reference to development of the ESHA, it could be argued that off shore oil was coastal dependent (or related) because it had to be extracted in the zone. So also were the necessary associated facilities, pipelines and the like. On the other hand, refineries did not have to be located in the coastal zone. In some cases it may have been less expensive if they were but that was not a necessary determinant. Similarly with power plants, which although at the time there was a strong economic argument for siting them in the Zone they were clearly not considered coastal dependent.

Because everyone was loath to flatly prohibit any particular class of development in the Coastal Plan and the recognition that large industrial facilities like power-plants and refineries have far greater direct and indirect impacts than say housing, the Coastal Plan evolved from identifying coastal resources and fashioning appropriate policies to protect them to developing rules dealing directly with large industrial development. The Coastal Commission staff believed that in those cases the evaluation be more comprehensive; sort of like a coastal oriented EIR. It is thus policies in the Coastal Plan dealing with large industrial projects that Norbert discovered the first glimmerings of ESHA, a concept almost devoid of coastal resource focused analytical content.

THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

REDACTED

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Since John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1961, job growth under Democratic presidents has out-gained that under Republicans by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis. During that period, non-government payrolls grew by almost 42 million jobs under Democratic presidents, compared to 24 million when a Republican party member was in power.

Yes, but Bloomberg as everyone knows is a socialist tool and all these jobs went to lazy black people and illegal aliens [and now homosexuals]. As we know from respectable unsigned posts on the internet this has all been orchestrated by Communist Muslim jihadists to take away our guns and liberty and to destroy Christianity.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

How Wall Street works and why is has become merely a means of massively transferring wealth from the investor (capitalist) to those who control the transactions (parasites).

Hedge Funds:

According to a recent report:

Hedge fund fees are egregious by any measure. The normal 2% management fee and 20% incentive fee have resulted in an enormous transfer of wealth from clients to the hedge fund industry. According to the report pretty much all the profits earned by hedge funds in excess of the risk free rate have been consumed by fees.

The report then points out:

“Hedge funds have garnered 28% of investor profits, although treasury bills averaged 3.2% over this same period so even using their own numbers reveals that in fact fees took 64% of the returns in excess of the risk free rate. This is for the hypothetical, equally weighted portfolio begun in 1994. It also ignores netting — winning hedge funds charge an incentive fee whereas losing managers don’t offer a rebate. By treating the industry as one giant hedge fund it ignores the fact that whenever an investor holds some losing hedge funds his effective incentive fee will be higher than the typical 20% of profits.” (Simon Lack)

In another comment Lack continues: “…in aggregate all the money ever invested in hedge funds would have been better off in treasury bills…”

As far as those unlucky investors whose hedge fund investments performed worse than the hypothetical investor, fees have consumed all the profits.

The chart below shows how much of a hedge fund profits are skimmed off by the funds managers:


B. E.L. Doctorow: “Primer on Unexceptionalism.”

PHASE TWO

If you’re one of the conservative majority of a refurbished Supreme Court, rule that corporations, no less than human beings, have the right under the First Amendment to express their political point of view. To come to this judgment, do not acknowledge that corporations lack the range of feelings or values that define what it is to be human. That humans can act against their own interest, whereas corporations cannot act otherwise than in their own interest. That the corporation’s only purpose is to produce wealth, regardless of social consequences.

This decision of the court will ensure tremendous infusions of corporate money into the political process and lead to the election in national and state legislatures of majorities of de facto corporate lobbyists.
POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
TODAY’S QUOTES:

A. Attributed to Carl Sagan:

“They laughed at Galileo. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

B. Green Bay Packers football quarterback Aaron Rogers on what he looks for in his centers and why he really likes Jeff’s butt:

“So those are the two things you look for: butt height and sweating. Jeff’s doing really well in both categories. … Low sweat ratio and solid butt height.”

C. From a submission by Dana in Stickman’s Blog. Stickman’s Blog focuses on the diseased underbelly of Pattaya, the Outskirts of Hell (Sent to me by Gary who lives in the center of it all):

“Thailand has three seasons: rainy, hot, and center-of-the-sun deathstar hot. It is the deathstar season now. Dogs are laying in the middle of the road hoping a car drives over them.”

TODAY’S CHART:

Further evidence that the age of the “Revenge of the Vagina” is upon us. It’s about time.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

When will we realize that if we do not take care of one another, no one will?

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Pattaya (the Outskirts of Hell) taken from Gary’s window. Another reason to prefer Hell to Paradise.


Categories: April 2012 through June 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 Capt. Coast 0001 (May 10, 2012)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Since it rained in Bangkok last week, the skies have been somewhat overcast and the temperature cooler (but see B.1 below).

I continue to spend my mornings at the health club and my afternoons in my apartment playing with my computer. My exercise effort and reduced my food intake has a resulted in my weight dropping to a level I have not experienced for over a decade. Good for me!

Alas, LM mentioned that the hotel management may close down the health club and consolidate its massage services into the Hotel Spa. The exercise facilities and lockers will be available then only for hotel guests. The reason they are considering this is that health club membership has fallen off greatly as members leave for the newer health club facilities in other hotels. The only part of the business that seems to be growing is the club’s increasing popularity with middle age and older women seeking massages with happy endings from the male masseurs working there. Surprisingly, and annoyingly for LM, many of the remaining elderly male members (not a joke) as well as the increasing number of Muslim hotel guests seek out their happy endings with the masseurs as well.

Recently I learned that Hayden would not be going to spend the summer in San Diego with the man he does not like. This man, by the way, is in effect a federal government policeman. At one time he served in the US embassy in BKK and along with his coworkers was known to be a frequent customer of similar services to those the notorious Secret Service officers were alleged to have bought in Cartagena.

During a trial in the US regarding an American citizen residing in SE Asia who may have violated US law, the principle evidence was supplied by a translator with whom it is alleged the arresting officer, our man from San Diego and previously BKK, was having an affair at the time. The conviction has been appealed because of this gross indiscretion.

It seems, our man from San Diego, had refused to agree to return Hayden to his mother after the summer was over so she decided not to send him there. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing I do not know. But in any case, Hayden may spend most of his vacation in the south of Thailand or in Italy or in the US while his mother spends it in the north of Thailand or somewhere he is not.

In any event, I may be returning to the US in early June, or I may be going to Italy or I may stay here.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Heat wave and stuff:

The Bangkok Post reported that the average daily temperature in Bangkok during April was over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Bangkok also has one of the lowest ratios of green space per resident in the world; Three square meters per person versus thirty-nine square meters per person average in the rest of the world’s major cities.

Thus it is in Bangkok that not only are you uncomfortable because it is hot, but you cannot breathe as well; nor does one have shade trees to walk under.

2. Indonesia; leading the way?

By 2014, Indonesia plans to ban exports of raw minerals in order to encourage local processing to add value and thereby redistribute the benefits of the country’s natural resources from foreigners to Indonesians.

I actually like this approach. Why shouldn’t countries (the US included) prohibit export of certain raw materials? It simply means that those with the money have to build factories in those countries producing the raw materials, thereby creating more higher paying jobs for its citizens.

3. China comes back down to earth:

In December, in one of my “This and that…” posts, I predicted that China’s economy would stumble during the early part of 2012. A recent HSBC survey shows manufacturing in China has contracted in April for the sixth straight month.

Hooray for me!

4. Lese Majesté:

Recently a 60-year-old man, affectionately referred to as “Uncle SMS” who a year ago had been jailed for 20 years for violating Thailand’s Lese Majesté law that prohibits anyone from insulting the Royal Family died of liver cancer. According to news reports he had been convicted for sending four SMS messages from his mobile phone to a government official that were deemed in violation of Lese Majesté laws. I have never seen copies of the messages but from reports it appears they were neither threatening nor directly critical of the monarchical institution. Uncle SMS claimed he had never sent the messages and that someone else had sent them after stealing his phone number. Uncle SMS requested bail 8 times and was rebuffed. Despite the fact that his tumor was obvious, the judge in denying bail opined that the accusations were serious and his illness not life threatening.

It should be noted that the King himself has said that Lese Majeste laws are unnecessary and that only through criticism from citizens could he know if he were doing a good job or not. Those who claim they most love the King and respect the Monarchy, however, refused to pay any attention to his request, as they also refuse to pay any attention to any of his requests if they clash with their political or financial goals. But they nevertheless, love and respect him with all their might. God help those who do not love and respect him as well as they do.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Who hid the Capitalist?

Capitalism arose when some people (eventually called Capitalists) joined together to pool their money to invest in a usually short-term enterprise like backing a trading venture to send lower cost goods somewhere where someone was willing to pay a lot more for them. Later they invested in things like brick factories and coal mines. Capitalists risked their invested money (and more if they had to pay off the debts of the venture should it fail) unless they were able to buy insurance.

This then was what originally we called Capitalism.

Government had little or nothing to do with the system except to keep general order. For example, you did not want people breaking into the coffee houses where these transactions were taking place shooting the capitalists and taking their money. This governmental activity, since government had to do it anyway to protect the king and his ascendency, did not cost much and taxes were relatively low.

Then an interesting thing happened. Governments of the time (usually Kings) saw a good way to raise money for things they wanted to do (like own the world) without increasing taxes. (Governments do this all the time and usually in the long run they get in trouble for it.) They told those people with money to invest, that if they invested it into a company called a “public corporation” set up by the government to carry out a specific task (e.g. Take someone else’s land establish colonies and import slaves to do the work) they will not be liable for any more money than the money they invest.

Corporations were not people. They were creations of the State. This was a prime example of government intruding into operation of the market by capping risk so that investors into corporations had a government created advantage over other capitalists. Investors into corporations were therefore not capitalists per se but could be called something like “corporatists.” (Why don’t Libertarians call for abolishment of the most fundamental intrusion of government into the so-called free market, limitation of financial risk represented by the corporate form?)

Corporatism is not Capitalism.

Another thing; people with money often did not wish to risk it in an investment where there was a chance that it could be lost. Instead, they found other people who needed the money and were willing to give the person with money something they owned of equal value that he then held until the money was returned. The person with money charged for the transaction. The transaction fee eventually was called interest, the man with the money the lender or the creditor and the man who needed the money, the debtor.

For a number of reasons, most of them bad, the lenders got the governments of the time to agree to use their swords and later guns to force the debtor to pay his debts and thereby freeing the lender from the difficulty of transferring and storing the debtors goods as well as the risk inherent in selling it should the debtor not repay the loan on time. But, the lender still charged interest for the less costly and risky transaction. What it ment was that the lender was able to transfer a significant amount of the cost of the transaction on to the general government and still keep the profits, arguing that the taxes (paid by everyone, but which the lenders usually strenuously objected to) charged by government made up for it. The enforcement of debt obligations, courts and the like added to the expense of general government.

The bond or the debt market is not capitalism and its denizens on Wall Street and elsewhere are not capitalists. If they were then they should not be asking government to shield them from risk (or at least they should be willing to pay their taxes).

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES,THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Removed for revision and reflection.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

The Federal Reserve was a Republican idea.
Social Security is solvent through 2038.
God is a particle.
George W. Bush held hands with the King of Saudi Arabia.
Evolution is real.
Since 1980 Republican administrations increased the national debt more than Democrats have.
The Earth is 4.54 billion years old.
Fox News is owned by an Australian and has a Saudi prince as a major investor.
Jesus was a Jew.
The current corporate tax rate is the lowest in 60 years
In 2011, the US became a net exporter of oil products — for the first time since 1949 — earning record profits for oil companies yet Americans pay almost $4 or more for a gallon of gas.
In Venezuela people pay less for fuel than for bottled water.
In Turkmenistan drivers are entitled to 120 gallons of free gasoline per month.
In Bahrain, which has almost no oil, the price of gasoline is $.78 per gallon.
Venezuela, Turkmenistan and Bahrain, as well as most other countries with low gasoline prices own their oil companies.

Therefore private oil companies are good for the environment. They keep gasoline prices high and thereby discourage driving, producing less CO2 resulting in lowering the greenhouse gasses and reducing the effects of climate change. Did you ever wonder why ownership of oil production by the Saudi government is not considered socialism by most conservatives but in Venezuela’s case it is?

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

1. It is time to return to the good old days when the US led the world in high wage work.

2. Perhaps it also is time our executives should get paid salaries similar to those paid to executives in countries whose corporate executives are eating our lunch?

What is even more amazing is that these same executives whose companies are steadily losing market share to more frugal executive paying foreign corporations often blame their relatively poor performance on US government interference while at the same time warning the rest of us to be wary of adopting the “socialist” policies existing in the countries whose corporate executives manage to compete for market share better than they do.

B. E.L. Doctorow: “Primer on Unexceptionalism.”

TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:

PHASE ONE

If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.

If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.

Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.

By cutting taxes and raising wartime expenditures, deplete the national treasury so that Congress and state and municipal legislatures cut back on domestic services, ensuring that there will be less money for the education of the young, for government health programs, for the care of veterans, for the maintenance of roads and bridges, for free public libraries, and so forth.

Deregulate the banking industry so as to create a severe recession in which enormous numbers of people lose their homes and jobs.

Before you leave office add to the Supreme Court justices like the ones who awarded you the presidency.

C. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

Although I do not feel like apologizing for anything today, I feel I must say something about why I believe, “This and that…” has recently become so boring to me and I assume to you. Perhaps it is due to the enervating effect of the heat wave since I returned. On the other hand my sadness for leaving behind Hayden and my friends and family who have been so kind and understanding to me may have affected me more that I realized. Or, it may be with the effective end of the Republican presidential nomination, I have become disappointed with the disappearance of God’s (that practical joker in the sky) chosen candidate for lunatic of the month. (Now, I certainly have my problems with Mitt, but give him credit for defeating all of God’s own candidates.) It may also be the ennui settling in as the realization that, “This and that…” is coming to its end. But, for whatever the reason, I apologize.

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

(Graphics unavailable at this time)
The map on the left shows the counties that voted strongly Republican in 2008 the purple mixed Republican and Democratic and the blue Democratic. The map on the right shows the same information but adjusted for population size. I guess it is safe to assume from these maps that Democrats prefer to be near water and where there are a lot of other people while Republicans seem not to like water and prefer to be left alone.

Pookie should appeal to all Americans, he likes cities but not people too much. He likes to swim but prefers to drink things other than plain water.
TODAY’S QUOTES:

1. “The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

2. “I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.”
~Robert Kennedy

3. “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

4. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

5. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

6. “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
~Abraham Lincoln

TODAY’S CHART:

 

If you do not think it can happen again, look at the results in the Greek election. The Greek unemployment rate has approached 25 percent and the Nazi Party in the recent election has garnered almost 10 percent of the vote to for the first time in 65 years win seats in a european national legislature.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Gary’s photograph of Pattaya Bay

Categories: April 2012 through June 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re thai r ment, by 3Th. June 28, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1863: May 18-July 4, Grant’s victory at Vicksburg marks the beginning of the end for the Confederate Rebellion that caused the American Civil War.

Less than 150 years later, the South wins the peace.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) ITALY:

About four hours later we arrived at Nikki’s condominium in Busto a small working class town located just outside of Milan adjacent to Malpensa Airport. We unpacked, cooked dinner and went to sleep. The following morning I was awakened by lot of shouting and banging of things being moved about. I left my room to find SWAC in the midst of packing and shouting. It seems that her period commenced (Her statement not mine) the previous night and that according to her, it was an absolute necessity we immediately depart the messy and cramped condominium for the supposedly spacious and elegant farm of her friends located almost completely across the top of the country from Milan, somewhere near Venice.

She insisted that I accompany them, stay the night and return to Milan the next morning, leaving Hayden and her to spent two or three weeks there. I demurred, explaining that I had had enough traveling for a while. Following somewhat emotional discussions and a series of telephone calls to the so-called friends, it was agreed that I would accompany them to the Veneto and remain with Hayden lodged at the farm while she returned to Milan with Nikki and departed for Thailand to return in about two weeks.

So, four or so hours later we drove into Sacile (pronounced Sah Chili) a town about 40 kilometers north of Venice. It is also known as “Il Giardino del Serenissima,” or something like that. It translates as “The Garden of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.”

Before reaching the center of town we stopped on a side street at a coffee shop/bar operated by a friend of SWAC and Nikki, a tall slender middle aged woman named Lucia. Outside the bar were a few tables, one of which was occupied by several locals playing the traditional Italian card games of Scopa and Brescola. They and the other patrons were generally drinking Prosecco, not the sweet bubbly crap one gets in the US but the refreshing local, hot weather afternoon, kick back and enjoy life drink. It was very good. We had two glasses and spent about an hour in pleasant conversation with Lucia, her strange boyfriend and some of the customers.

We then walked to the main plaza of the town that has a river running through it. Apparently, during the heyday of La Serenissima, barges from Venice would travel up the river to the small falls that made further travel difficult. The barges, carrying, I guess, things like Murano glass souvenirs, porcelain carnivalle mask and things like that would be off loaded and replaced by agricultural goods from the area and other things like cuckoo clocks carried over the alpine passes from Switzerland and Austria. The town sprung up to service this barge traffic, I assume to provide food, drink and entertainment to the lonely bargemen as they awaited their consignments.

The town is a picture postcard of what someone would imagine a venetian town should look like. At first blush it appears that the ancient town has reemerged from history. A closer look reveals something a bit more like one would find at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a use of post-modern architectural design flowing seamlessly into the few remaining vintage structures.

Post-modernism despite the acres of intellectual drivel generally written by those hoping to make some money off of it, is merely a form of colorful mostly straight edged Moderne (with pitched rather than flat roofs) as it existed before Walter Gropius sex crazed with Anna Mahler tarted it up into Bauhaus (Or had Gropius become a sexual deviant before the advent of Moderne, I never could remember which?). Essentially it consists of a series of rectangular planar facades painted or otherwise colored in earthy reds, yellows and beiges adorned with simple architectural elements, like plain arches ( now and then festooned with architectural artifacts). It was concocted by Venturi and Graves hungry for commissions out of their impression of the reconstruction of traditional domestic and small commercial structures in post war Italy as the local people filled in the bombed out spaces between the surviving historical structures with simplified copies of traditional design and painted them with a brighter version of the standard stucco. It spread back to Europe and It works here in Italy, since that was always the local vernacular architecture anyway.

In NY, Johnson, tired of living in glass houses and unable to diddle Anna himself, nevertheless attempted to capitalize on the post-modern craze by creating the worlds largest and perhaps ugliest misrepresentation of a piece of obsolete junk furniture as a New York skyscraper. San Francisco, ever ready to slavishly follow East Coast fashions adopted post modernism as the design element of its planning code thereby converting something generally simple into the gross monstrosity of pink tinged architecture that graces the City today.

Ah well, I liked Sacile a lot, even if it seemed little bit like an urban version of Danville.

As we walked about, I noticed that this was a town populated by people with prominent noses, from fleshy cyranoesque probiscai to hawk like aquiline appendages cleaving the air as they walked along like axe heads cleaving a log. These notable features adorned generally slender well dressed men and equally fashionable and sensuous women. Unlike the drab dark colors I found obliquitous in the US, here both the men and women were more colorfully attired. Although there was the usual excess of pre stressed jeans and off the shoulder tank tops, there was nary a velour exercise outfit to be seen,

After wandering around the city for about an hour our hosts arrived and we followed their automobile to their farm on the outskirts of a village with the pleasantly sounding name of Tamai. (To be continued…)

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed because the author is exhausted. Besides the delay will give Vince time to think up an appropriate response to the question posed by the comely and muscular Megs. Knowing Vince as well as I do, I expect his answer to be as ineffective and unimaginative as always.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Godwin’s law — An adage in Internet culture that states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” Coined by Mike Godwin in 1990.

You probably did not realize this but all these laws were actually written by Nazi’s.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“Conservatives are irony deficient.”

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Matthew 5:40-41)

So why is it that the religious right has so much difficulty accepting court decisions like Roe v. Wade?

d. You must be a Republican ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/)if you believe that:

“Bullies are manly but peacemakers are not.”

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

Researchers discovered that men with increased levels of testosterone “were more likely to use their own money punish those who were ungenerous toward them.”

The scientists concluded that, “Elevated testosterone causes men to behave antisocially.”

What a surprise.

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

I am full of crap about post-modern architecture.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.”

John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went;

Today’s Photographs:


Hayden by the River.

The Nattily Dressed Pookie in the Plaza.

Sacile the Picturesque.

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. June 23, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S FACTOID:

I have no idea what this chart is supposed to tell us. If you do please let me know.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:


POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) CALIFORNIA AND ITALY:

The following morning we left for LAX and our flight to Italy.

The depressing state of the American airline industry is additional evidence that the terrorists won. It was not the taking down of buildings, the killing of Americans or airplanes falling from the sky that was the goal of their attacks, but the subtle certainty of their understanding of the American psyche was their actual weapon. Their focus was to destroy the American economy by knowing precisely the reaction of America’s conservative elite’s thirst for power and profit. And we fell into the trap. Instead of making ourselves even stronger economically at home we wasted American treasure and dollars in unnecessary wars in the deserts of the middle east until we rewarded our attackers their victory, destruction of our economy. I consider the architects of our response nothing less than cynical traitors who wrapped themselves in the flag for personal benefit and power.

The American sad state of Airline travel is small but significant evidence of the extent of the terrorists success.

Anyway, following an especially uncomfortable flight, I arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport with swollen legs, aching back and a foul temper. We were met by Nikki, who had arrived from Chicago a few hours earlier.

After about two hours of trying to secure a rent-a-car for our trip to Milan during which we experienced the full fury of Italian efficiency, we set off.

Within minutes it became obvious that we were not going to make the 4 or so hour drive to Milan that evening as both SWAC and I began to complain to Nikki of our various discomforts. At my suggestion we agreed to spend the night in Orvieto a small hilltop city not far off the Autostrada.

As we entered the town, SWAC became quite excited as she thought she recognized the town as the site of George Clooney’s escapades in the movie “The American” or some such.

We located a pleasant B&B called “Las Palmas,” dropped off out luggage and set off in search of dinner which we found at an attractive restaurant a few doors away. Following a very enjoyable meal and the downing of two liters of local red and white wines among the three of us, we stumbled back to our respective rooms and to sleep.

The next morning we checked out of the B & B and set off in search of the Duomo and locations of scenes in the film that SWAC thought that she remembered.

Orvieto’s Duomo is an interesting church with a large romanesque interior and Italian gothic façade striped with green and white marble. Attached to the façade in a band about 30 feet wide and stretching across the entire front of the church is a series of Bas-reliefs that along with the view from the city walls are the towns glory.

Orvieto like many of the hill towns in this part of Italy specialize in a type of pottery called Faience. Each town promotes in a slightly different design on the pottery and ever since Faience pottery became beloved of collectors, each town has developed its own pottery “artist”. In Orvieto the renowned artist is the daughter of the owner of a pottery shop on the Plaza del Duomo called Giacomini.

For those with knowledge and experience with the California Coastal Commission, yes they are the relatives of the beloved suspender wearing, rotund, ex-Marin County Supervisor and Coastal Commissioner, Gary Giacomini sometimes also referred to as “Farmer Brown”.

Gary was an ardent environmentalist as long as it did not interfere with his and his family’s economic and political ambitions.

I spent about a half an hour swapping “Gary” stories with the family before we departed to search for the supposed locations of scenes from the movie, take photographs and return to the Autostrada to complete our journey to Milan. (To be continued…)
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter whatever:

Vince took into the office washroom the overnight suitcase he always kept available in his office in case he had to make sudden short business trips or pulled and all-nighter like this one. He washed as best he could, shaved, changed his clothing and returned to his office just as Ray arrived to accompany him to the San Mateo County office. Ray had obviously been called by Ike and was dressed in what for him passed for business attire, pearl button earrings, a military style camouflage jacket, matching camouflage pants and neon green Crocs on his feet.

When they arrived at the San Mateo and were immediately ushered into the office of Sheriff Megan (Megs) Polan, former beauty queen, body building champion and rising star in local Republican politics. Vince and Ray sat in chairs across the hygienically clean desk behind which Megs sat enthroned like a medieval duchess. Her still super toned body filled out her tan uniform so that it looked painted on. She had curly auburn hair that hung down to her shoulders and the steely blue eyes of either a stone cold killer or paranoid schizophrenic. She did not rise to greet them or speak but leaned across her desk and pushed a transparent evidence bag containing a small piece of paper towards them. As she bent forward Vince caught a glimpse of cleavage struggling to escape the casually unbuttoned shirt. He also noticed the large black pistol riding high on her hip. Vince disconcerted that he found himself turned on, in order to cover his embarrassment he dropped his eyes to the proffered evidence bag and studied its contents.

Inside the bag was a piece of paper torn from a small spiral bound notebook and written on it in a shaky hand was written the message, “If anything should happen to me, call Vincent Biondi” along with his personal mobile phone number.

“So Mr. Biondi,” Megs intoned in her surprisingly whiskey edged voice, “what can you tell me about this note and what may have happened to Mrs. Stephanie Coign last night?”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Bradford’s law — a pattern described by Samuel C. Bradford in 1934 that estimates the exponentially diminishing returns of extending a library search.

(Everyone knows that. Ask any student.)

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“All fortunes are based on Ponzi schemes.”

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

“…be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:13-14)

Ask for a raise and go to Hell.

d. You must be a Republican ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) if you believe that:

“Torture is necessary for the defense of American freedom but the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures is not.”

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

Wayne State University recently published the results of a study that concluded men with more testosterone are more likely to engage in competition with men with less testosterone when being presented with an attractive woman.
Source: Wayne State University

In other words Testosterone poisoned men haven’t the slightest idea of how ridiculous they are.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath, and hope we’ve set aside enough money to pay for our kids’ therapy.”
—Michelle Pfeiffer

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

ORVIETO DUOMO


FRONT OF GIACOMINI POTTERY SHOP.

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

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