HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE DREAPER
TODAY FROM 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.
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:
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
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.
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).
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:
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/
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.”
Further evidence that the age of the “Revenge of the Vagina” is upon us. It’s about time.
When will we realize that if we do not take care of one another, no one will?
Pattaya (the Outskirts of Hell) taken from Gary’s window. Another reason to prefer Hell to Paradise.
- Winnie and I: Part I (papajoesfables.wordpress.com)