“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
1. An author speaks:
I read an interesting article in one of the local english language newspapers recently.
A fairly well-known British author on a speaking tour of Southeast Asia was asked how he got into writing. He explained that after university he was working as a geologist in South Asia when he read a travel book written by another well-known writer, John Morris, about his experiences accompanying an expedition to climb Mt. Everest. Impressed, he decided he wanted to become a writer also and promptly wrote to Mr. Morris for advice. Mr Morris wrote back that, if he wanted to become a writer, he should first get a job as a newspaper reporter.
The author returned to England and got a job as a reporter for a newspaper in a small english town. He then wrote back to Morris asking what he should do now. Morris advised him to gather up a suitable number of articles he had written, and send them to him for his review and comment. The author did and after an exchange of letters asked permission to visit Morris in his home. It was granted and a few weeks later the author found himself in front of the door to Morris’ home. Upon entering he saw someone with long hair kneeling in the vestibule. Assuming it was Mrs. Morris he enquired, “Mrs. Morris?” To which the person responded, “no, she is upstairs and will be down in a moment,” and left.
Mrs. Morris and her daughter did indeed come down and after a pleasant chat invited the author to spend the night in the guest room.
That night before retiring he noticed a note on the bed addressed to him. The note explained that the person who met him at the door was John Morris and that he had always believed he was a woman in a man’s body and was leaving in a few weeks for an operation that would rectify the situation. The note added that if the author was not offended by this and still wanted to be the writers friend, they could meet again in the morning. He did and they did. The operation went on as planned and the now Jan Morris has been the authors best friend since then.
2. A passing:
Today while at the health club the Little Masseuse told me that her ex-husband had died suddenly yesterday. Her eyes were glistening through her blurred mascara as she explained the he was found slumped in his seat on the bus he was riding. No one knew he was dead until the bus had gotten to its last stop. The other passengers thought he was just another old man sleeping off the day’s exhaustion.
He had been living with their son after the relationship he had left LM for broke up. Before that he was a member of the Thai Coast-Guard.
LM asked me for 1000 baht (about $30) to defray funeral and burial costs. I agreed.
Last night or perhaps the night before, I could not get to sleep, terrorized by the fear I would pass through my declining years alone; perhaps still here in my little room in BKK. Estranged is an odd word and yet I wonder why it feels so appropriate to me. My choice I suppose.
LM must be suffering now. Although it was long past their time together, it was still a big part of her life for as long as it lasted. Now permanently severed. Scary.
I know I am a little more than a mobile ATM. Could there be a mutual dependency there? Of course there could.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Ladies only parking
In Bangkok, several parking structures have a “ladies only” parking floor equipped with female guards to enforce the mandate. The walls and columns of these exclusive domains usually are highlighted in pink.
Pink, as everyone knows, is the color more adored by women than any other. As opposed to grey which men prefer because they are all color blind.
It is unknown at this time if Chazz Bono will be allowed to park on these floors.
2. Choose your ring tone
An international cell phone company recently announced that they are developing a magnetic tattoo ink that would cause a person’s skin to vibrate whenever he or she has an incoming call.
Where would you choose to place your vibrating tattoo?
3. Dangerous occupation.
Today the Bangkok english language press reported the death of two rubber tappers working on separate rubber plantations in Thailand. One involved a woman who, while engaged in tapping the rubber trees to collect the latex, was killed by a herd of stampeding wild elephants. On another plantation a woman engaged in the same activity was eaten by a tiger.
Do not allow your children to grow up and become rubber tappers.
I ran across an interesting commentary by the ever insightful Brad Delong regarding Nick Eberstadt’s Book, A Nation of Takers. I thought I would share it with you.
“It is a curious and remarkable thing. Go to Nick Eberstadt’s A Nation of Takers and you discover him writing about:
‘The breathtaking growth of [personal] entitlement payments…. In 1960, U.S. government transfers to individuals from all programs totaled $24 billion. By 2010, the outlay for entitlements was almost 100 times more… the nominal growth in entitlement payments… was rising by an explosive average of 9.5% per annum for fifty straight years…’
But of that 9.5%, 6.9% simply matches the growth of potential nominal GDP from inflation, labor-force growth, and productivity growth.
That leaves excess entitlement spending growth of 2.6%/year.
That excess has three causes. First, 38% of federal transfer programs are health programs. Few indeed drop out of work today and become moochers because they want to qualify for Medicaid, or they look forward to Medicare. A government that pays doctors for treating sick people does not a nation of takers make.
Second, an aging population since 1960 is responsible for 1/10 of today’s non-health transfers. And the depressed economy is responsible for another 1/7: more old people, families that don’t normally qualify for food stamps qualifying for them because of unemployment, and workers who paid into the unemployment insurance system using it for what it was intended for. This is not a shift in the generosity of our safety net.
Subtract off these, and you are left with the third cause: our non-health safety net has become more generous over the past two generations.
By how much?
The non-health aging- and cyclically-adjusted transfer spending of the federal government has grown since 1960 relative to potential GDP at a rate of 0.9%/year.
That is less than one-tenth of Eberstadt’s headline number.
It is that less than 1%/year growth rate is supposed to have turned us from a self-reliant entrepreneurial people in 1960 into ‘a nation of takers’, an ‘an incoherent amalgam of interest groups … vying for benefits … at the expense of other Americans’ today?
That dog won’t hunt. That fish won’t swim. That bird won’t fly.
The systemic crisis in right-of-center use of arithmetic runs far deeper than just polling.”
Recently, I have received a number of e-mails and and have come across several other references to articles, graphs and the like that in one way or another attempt to make the same point that Eberstadt tries to make, prompting me to share this response. All of DeLong’s assertions are easily verifiable from standard reference sources.
The US in the past four years has gone from an also ran in the petroleum production sweepstakes to being on the verge of becoming the worlds largest producer. Yet, the price of gasoline has not gone down. It may also help to understand what is going on to know that the per person fossil fuel use in the US has been decreasing irrespective of its per unit price.
Hmmm… increasing energy production leading to energy independence; stable, if high, fuel prices and a declining use of climate changing fossil fuels….something here must be Obama’s fault.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
Model of Money Management or why Wall Street is untrustworthy.
According to a study by Gennaioli, Shleifer, and Vishny:
“Trust in the money manager reduces an investor’s perception of the riskiness of a given investment, and allows managers to charge higher fees to investors who trust them more.
Money managers compete for investor funds by setting their fees, but because of trust the fees do not fall to costs.
Managers consistently underperform the market net of fees, but investors still prefer to delegate money management to taking risk on their own.
Fees involve sharing of expected returns between managers and investors, with higher fees in riskier products.
Managers pander to investors when investors exhibit biases in their beliefs, and do not correct misperceptions.
Despite long run benefits from better performance, the profits from pandering to trusting investors discourage managers from pursuing contrarian strategies relative to the case with no trust.”
Or, as John Maynard Keynes wrote: “in banking it is often better to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally”.
Or, you give them your money – they give you nothing in return, but you feel good about it.
Does this mean we should fire our financial advisors and brokers or that we should just not believe anything they say?
Did we really need a scholarly study to tell us that brokers rip us off?
B. Yiddish words everyone should know:
A general word that calls for a reply. It can mean, “So?” “Huh?” “Well?” “What’s up?” or “Hello?”
Exclamation of dismay, grief, or exasperation. The phrase “oy vey iz mir” means “Oh, woe is me.” “Oy gevalt!” is like oy vey, but expresses fear, shock or amazement. When you realize you’re about to be hit by a car, this expression would be appropriate.
Or plats. Literally, to explode, as in aggravation. “Well, don’t plotz!” is similar to “Don’t have a stroke!” or “Don’t have a cow!” Also used in expressions such as, “Oy, am I tired; I just ran the four-minute mile. I could just plotz.” That is, collapse.
It means “deep peace,” and isn’t that a more meaningful greeting than “Hi, how are ya?”
To drag, traditionally something you don’t really need; to carry unwillingly. When people “shlep around,” they are dragging themselves, perhaps slouchingly. On vacation, when I’m the one who ends up carrying the heavy suitcase I begged my wife to leave at home, I shlep it.
A clumsy, inept person, similar to a klutz (also a Yiddish word). The kind of person who always spills his soup.
Cheap, shoddy, or inferior, as in, “I don’t know why I bought this schlocky souvenir.”
Someone with constant bad luck. When the shlemiel spills his soup, he probably spills it on the shlimazel. Fans of the TV sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” remember these two words from the Yiddish-American hopscotch chant that opened each show.
A jerk, a stupid person, popularized in The Last Unicorn and Welcome Back Kotter.
Excessively sentimental, gushing, flattering, over-the-top, corny. This word describes some of Hollywood’s most famous films. From shmaltz, which means chicken fat or grease.
Chat, make small talk, converse about nothing in particular. But at Hollywood parties, guests often schmooze with people they want to impress.
Yiddish developed among the Ashkenazi, one of the three main branches of Judaism. The other two being the Sephardim (primarily originating on the Iberian peninsula) and the Mizrahim comprising most of the others. The Sephardim and the Mizraham, if they spoke it at all, did not speak yiddish as their mother tongue as did many of the Ashkenazi before emigrating to the US.
They all more or less can trace their patrimonial heritage through the male Y chromosome to a single individual living somewhere in the middle east about 5000 years ago, about the time when Abraham was reputed to have lived. A recent study of the Cohen, the traditional priestly class descended from Aaron, Moses’ brother, using DNA from males with that surname world-wide, indicates that most of them are descended from a middle eastern male alive about 3000 years ago; about the time the Bible indicates that Moses and Aaron lived. Given that several hundred years of the most intensive archeological investigation in the world, while turning up scads of evidence of the other Peoples and nations mentioned in the Bible, failed to turn up much evidence at all of Jewish history older than somewhere between 200 and 600 BC, it is remarkable that modern genetics has been able to confirm at least this part of the story. (Not that it proves that Abraham, Moses and Arron actually existed, but it does confirm that during those times there was in all likelihood some horny goat-herd in the Near East busy shtupping a shikse or two thereby giving birth not only to the great Jewish nation but, in all likelihood, a significant portion of the population of the entire Mediterranean basin. I guess it could fairly be observed that Arron wielded a mighty rod.)
The Ashkenazi male line descends primarily through southern Italian and Sicilian Jews who migrated into Northern Europe about 400-600 AD to escape persecution by the newly dominant Christians. Genetically Southern Italians and Sicilians and the Ashkenazi appear to be closer related to each other than to most of the rest of trans-montain Europe. Unlike the other branches of Judaism, the Ashkenazi seem to have picked up a small but strong Central-Asian component primarily from the Caucuses and the area around the Caspian Sea, the ancestral home of the Khazar’s, the almost legendary medieval Jewish empire.
On the matrilineal side DNA testing shows that although there is strong evidence of middle eastern origins among the women, there is significantly more evidence of non-middle eastern origins then among the men (Again with the Shikses.)
Among the Ashkenazi there is a high incidence of Tay Sachs an inherited and inevitably fatal disease. The Sephardim and the Mizrahim seem to have no greater incidence of the disease than the general population, an indication that the effects of natural selection and genetic drift happen quite rapidly and do not require the eons that mutations take to be reflected in a population. The Tay Sachs’ discovery may have revealed another startling fact, that the genes causing Tay Sachs may be related to those controlling for intelligence.* Based on standard IQ testing as much as 20% of the Ashkenazi score 120 or higher, scoring higher in verbal and mathematical elements and lower in spatial than the general population (in other words, great scientists and writers but lousy athletes). In the general population the average is about 4-5% including for the Sephardim and Mizrahim. It is not so hard to guess why that is the case. The Christian pogroms and prohibitions against land owning for the Jews and against charging interest for the Christians coupled with high literate demands of the rabbinate made those excelling in abstract thought high quality breeders so to speak.
On the other hand, among the Christian West, strangely enough, those who were most literate were prohibited from breeding. From the fall or the Roman empire until the success of the Protestant revolt, for the most part, the most literate of the Western Christians were forced into the clergy who, unless they were Popes or Cardinals, were strongly discouraged from breeding.
Instead we placed our genetic basket on the shoulders of homicidal maniacs whose claim to fame was their preternatural ability to take someone else’s technology and turn it into a more highly efficient means of slaughter.
As luck would have it, due to the plague almost wiping us out, and our short-term tendency to compensate by breeding like rabbits, coupled with our forced procreation of prescient psychopaths equipped with proficient killing machines and a resistance to disease, we in the West were able to conquer the world. Hooray for us.
*Note: Contrary evidence for the genetic connection between Tay Sachs and a certain type of intelligence is provided by the fact that the Irish appear also to be prone to the disease. On the other hand, perhaps the Hibernians were one of the lost tribes of Israel like the American Indians and just about everyone else, except for the Mormons, who never get lost.
Turritopsis nutricula is an immortal jellyfish. Some people believe it may hold the secret of immortality for humans.
After reaching sexual maturity, this jellyfish is able to reverse its aging process and become a polyp again. The ability to reverse the life cycle is probably unique in the animal kingdom, and allows the jellyfish to bypass death, rendering the Turritopsis nutricula biologically immortal. Lab tests showed that 100% of specimens reverted to the polyp stage.
I fucking love science.
But, do I want to be a polyp – even an immortal one?
- A Nation of Takers Hurtles Toward the Fiscal Abyss (frontpagemag.com)
- By No Means a Nation of “Takers”… (delong.typepad.com)
- Rachel Maddow Tears Apart Dick Morris After Receiving Letter From His Lawyer (mediaite.com)