TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
April, May and June tend to be the hottest months of the year in Thailand. Since I have been here, the temperature has hovered well in the high 90s and low 100s .
For the first week or so I cultivated the hypochondria brought on by jet-lag and BKK air pollution. I attempted to while away my time by reading trashy vacation-time novels. You know, those novels you turn to when you are lying on the sand under an umbrella with nothing to do but stare at the water while bemoaning the fact that recreational drugs are not readily available to numb you even further into insensibility. I guess alcohol is an alternative but it always gives me agita.
In my case, I decided to read all 15 or so books of the Dresden Files at about one a day. I have just finished book ten. They are about Harry Dresden a wizard working as a private detective in Chicago battling the unending horrors escaping from the spirit world threatening to engulf the City in a reign of vampires and ghouls and unspeakable other creatures and bury it under 50 feet of ectoplasm.
Like I said trash, inventive trash but trash none the less. Now I know what some of you are asking yourselves, “I thought he said he was afraid of horror movies.” Well yes, movies; books not so much. I do not know why.
Anyway it has been somewhat interesting to observe that by reading the several books in this short period of time some of the overriding plot lines and emerging back stories have begun to manifest themselves. For example: Who really started the war between the Wizards of the White Council and the Vampires of the Red Court; Is Mab, Fairy Queen of the Winter Sidhe, really going insane; Who is behind the Cowl; Will Harry’s half brother Thomas, the incubus, truly find happiness as a hairdresser sucking bits of the life force from his adoring clients and; Will Harry ever get laid.* It seems the flash of even the slightest bit of skin from any female from 14 through 400,000 years old (many are almost immortal spirits after all) appears to turn Harry into a salivating imbecile. One would think that since wizards are masters of do-it-yourself Harry by this time would have learned how to relieve himself of his perpetual horniness. At least a half a dozen times per novel he finds himself with an erection moments before some horror from the netherworld beats the shit out of him. That is some bad Juju..
In his Notes, the author claims that he was fascinated with the Swords and Sorcery genre ever since as a child he first read the Hobbit and although throughout his writing career he tried to write similar fantasy novels he was not very good and it. He was very pleased, however, that readers seemed to like his wizard-detective stories.
Well, I am very happy for him. Throughout my life I wanted to grow up. I wasn’t very good at it and the best I could manage was to grow old. No one I know liked that at all, least of all me.
I went to the US embassy for some paperwork necessary for my visa extension. While I waited, the television in the waiting room was tuned into the Discovery Station as it always is when it is not tuned on to CNN. As usual the program was about things killing and devouring other things. I wondered why National Geographic marketing was aimed at the adolescent and seriously delayed post-adolescent male segment of the viewing public. Why not market say, for women? I would not presume to know what they would prefer, but I doubt it would be killing, blood and bones in high-definition color every time, all the time. When I looked around me, I saw the young men glassy-eyed and smiling staring up at the screen while the women for the most part looked down at the floor or at the notices and posters that covered the walls.
I thought the Discovery Channel was supposed to awaken the interest in young minds in science and discovery. What sort of scientists are they looking for that would be fascinated in learning more about how a killer whale rips the head off a seal or a lion disembowels a gazelle? Why not try love for a change?
(*Note: Some of these questions surprisingly have actually been answered in Book 11 which I have just finished reading. Harry gets laid although with unhappy results and his half-brother definitely has not found happiness. We still, however, do not know about Mab’s potential psychosis and who or what is behind the war or under the cowl. Alas, I may never find out the answers to these questions as Amazon has announced that my Kindle is now somehow outside its jurisdiction and refuses to provide me with a new password to correct it. I now have a flaccid Kindle.)
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
You go girl:
A 28-year-old female US sailor beat the bejesus out of a bus driver in Dubai after he pulled a knife on her and announced he was going to rape her. […]
Basically, she got on the bus after shopping, he drove to a bus terminal, pulled a knife on her, and told her he was going to rape her. So she beat the crap out of him.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.
The question was simple enough. So was the answer: I was here to try to keep from having my ass kicked and she was the last person on a very short list that I haven’t spoken to. Of course I couldn’t say that with Joe Vu sitting here so I went with:
“I’m here on behalf of out mutual client, Martin Vihn. He would like to know what you have done with Clarence Reilly and wanted me to inform you that unless you return him before this evening, there will be no nookie for you tonight?”
I had to hand it to her, except for a slight tightening around the eyes, Lily showed absolutely no reaction to my question unlike Joe Vu who spit up his coffee all over his pants. Lilly said:
“Now I remember you. You were the one whose firm threw him out because he was crazy.”
Me: “Alas, I suffer an unfortunate condition. It’s like an unusual form of Tourette Syndrome. Every now and then, often in the most inappropriate situations, I have an irresistible impulse to blurt out the truth.”
Lilly: “Yes well…that’s not a particularly good condition for an attorney to have… With all due respect to Mr Vihn, and before I have security escort you out of the office, I would like you to know that I have no idea where to find my client Clarence Reilly and I am worried about him also. Good day, Mr. Dragon.”
Me: “Dragon will do.”
She got up and headed to the door out of the conference room. Before she reached the door, I said:
“Since Mark Holland is missing also, I’ve stepped into his shoes, so to speak, with Mavis. We’d like to know if you wanted to come over tonight for a threesome.”
She left the room with no indication that she heard what I said. I sat there for a moment staring at the door she left by then got up and left also. Joe followed. We went through the lobby and past the receptionist. She did not acknowledge our presence. Got to the elevator bank and pressed the button for the elevator. While we waited I noticed Joe staring at me.
“Well?” I said as the elevator arrived. As we stepped into the elevator he said, “Man, do you have to be crazy to be a detective? Because she’s right you’re nuts.”
Me:”What number rule are we on?”
Joe Vu:”Ah, rule number five, I think.”
Me again: “OK Rule Number Five: ‘When no one is paying any attention to you do something to make them.'”
Joe: “You could have set fire to the conference room or took your dick out and slammed it on the table.”
Me: “Hmm, those would work…a little too dramatic don’t you think?”
Joe: “So what did you hope to get from that?”
Me: “Maybe something and maybe nothing, who knows? But either way it will be information. That’s what investigators do. They gather and organize information. What they do not do is guess — even if it’s given a fancy name like deduction. If the information does not give you the answer then get some more — guessing just lowers your fees.”
I then added:
“Did you notice she never laughed, not even once? Not even out of embarrassment. Why do you suppose that is? She was insecure and offended? I don’t think so. But what do I know? Curious.”
The elevator doors opened. As we got out I told him that I would like some coffee. There’s a Peet’s in building Two on the street between Embarcadero Center buildings One and Two. I offered to buy him one. He refused and volunteered to get the car and drive it around to pick me up. I assumed he wanted to report in to Martin Vihn in private.
Before splitting up we went into the news and magazine store in the lobby. He to buy some gum and me a newspaper. I took out the sports section and handed the rest to him to take to the car.The shop had about half a hundred magazines displayed on racks. Being men we stopped a while to examine the covers. I then walked over to the coffee shop, leaving Joe engrossed in and chuckling at some soldier of fortune magazine.
The streets between the buildings are covered over by the mezzanine floor leaving them dark and uninviting. Having streets in the cool grey city of love cloaked in eternal gloom leaves them cold and foreboding. Scurrying away from them as quickly as possible is more likely on one’s mind than thoughts of love.
Peet’s Coffee sits at the intersection of the tunnel that runs through the building at street level and the street itself. I went in and ordered a small café latte. I leafed through the sports pages while waiting for my drink. I got the coffee, finished up a story about the San Francisco 49ers football teams most recent musclebound kamikaze acquisition and walked to the street to wait for Joe Vu.
There parked at the curb in a large silver-grey Mercedes and leaning out the window was the more talkative of the chubby twins. He had a big smile on his face and called out to me:
I shuddered. Not because of the chill or the sense of danger but because I felt caught in some strange time warp. Who the fuck calls anyone ‘sport’ anymore
Recently President Obama in a well publicized speech encouraging toleration mentioned in general the historical contributions to our country of individuals, Americans, professing the Muslim faith. This has brought out the expected screams of anguish from those who seem to criticize our president for anything he says or does. I received an email from one of my correspondents, a middle-eastern non-muslim immigrant, forwarding a lengthy screed denying any contribution of anyone of that faith to our history and challenging anyone to demonstrate that any fought in the American Revolution, were residents during colonial times or otherwise contributed in any way to this country’s development. Well here are some:
1. “Islam is Peace” said President George W. Bush in a speech. He also once held hands with an Arab muslim.
2. 20% of the slaves brought to America were muslim thereby, I suspect, many of them predating the arrival on these shores of the ancestors of the people making the claims in the email.
3. Salem Poor, Yuef Ben Ali, Bampett Muhamed and Francis and Joseph Saba served in the American Revolutionary Army.
4.Estavanco was a muslim (North African Berber) who explored what is now Arizona and New Mexico for Spain.
5. Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad was a Fula Muslim from Timbo he became the religious leader and Imam for a slave community numbering approximately eighty Muslim men residing on his plantation. During the War of 1812, Muhammad and the eighty Muslim men under his leadership protected their master’s Sapelo Island property from a British attack. In 1829, Bilali authored a thirteen page Arabic Risala on Islāmic beliefs and the rules for ablution, morning prayer, and the calls to prayer. Known as the Bilali Document, it is currently housed at the University of Georgia in Athens.
6. In 1790, the South Carolina legislative body granted special legal status to a community of Moroccans
7. in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president.
8. In 1863 Muhammad Ali ibn Said (also known as Nicholas Said) enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was later granted a transfer to a hospital department, where he gained some knowledge of medicine.
9. Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb (November 9, 1846, Hudson, New York – October 1, 1916, Rutherford, New Jersey), a muslim convert, was an American writer, publisher, and the United States Ambassador to the Philippines.
10. 1840 Yemini and Turkish immigration begins. They settled primarily in Dearborn Mich., Quincy Mass and Ross North Dakota.
11. 1906 Bosnian Muslims settle in Chicago.
12. 1907 Polish Muslims settle in NY.
13. Two of the most prominent Chinese American Muslims are the Taiwan National Revolutionary Army Generals Ma Hongkui and his son Ma Dunjing, who moved to Los Angeles after fleeing from China to Taiwan. Pai Hsien-yung, son of the Chinese Muslim General Bai Chongxi, is a Chinese Muslim writer who moved to Santa Barbara, California after fleeing from China to Taiwan.
14. There are over 2000 mosques in the United States and the nation’s largest mosque, the Islāmic Center of America, is in Dearborn, Michigan.
15. There are more than 15,000 doctors practicing medicine in the USA who are of Pakistani origin alone and the number of Pakistani American millionaires was reported to be in the thousands.
16. 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners, with 19 percent claiming annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher (compared to 16 percent for the Muslim population as a whole and 17 percent for the U.S. average). This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.
17. As of May 30, 2005, over 15,000 Muslims were serving in the United States Armed Forces.
18. Data released from the 2010 U.S. Religion Census shows Islam was the fastest growing religion in America in the last 10 years, with 2.6 million living in the U.S. today.
19. Marine Corps Captain Aisha Bakkar-Poe a Muslim woman whose family emigrated from Syria said after 9/11, “Those terrorists must be reading a completely different Koran than the rest of us…This isn’t about Islam it’s about terrorism.”
(Much of the above is from Wikipedia)
(I do not particularly like Islam as I do not particularly like any of the Abrahamic religions if for no other reason than the horrors that they have inflicted on each other and others in their name, but I hate bigotry more.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
In the course of my life and my many careers I have been involved in development, start-up and management of four separate governmental entities that either have had significant effects on the society in which they operate. They are the State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service, The California Coastal Commission and its Coastal Plan, The California State Coastal Conservancy, and California’s High Speed Rail Authority. I have, to a greater of lesser degree, discussed each of these entities in prior issues of “This and that…” that can be found in the blog listed at the bottom of this page and in several other blogs and posts I have written.
I wrote a number of posts about how my involvement in California Coastal Program began and developed. However, for whatever reason, I did not complete the series. What got me thinking about writing this series now was a blog post I recently read mentioning that the Coastal Conservancy had virtually exhausted the billion dollar fund it had been using these past 35 years or so to preserve land and restore the natural resources of California’s coast. In addition, due in part to California’s current Governor Jerry Brown’s strong support for the State’s High Speed Rail program, that initiative for good or ill has found itself in the media spotlight.
I will begin in the next issue of “This and that…” with the Mental Health Information Service.
Game of Thrones Linguist Interview Reveals High Valyrian Dragons, Wrong Khaleesis, and More:
“Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.
“A dragon is not a slave.”
Of note here: the word for dragon, zaldrīzes. Also, buzdari is stressed on the second syllable even though the a is not long because this isn’t actually a High Valyrian word: It’s an Astapori word that Dany is using on purpose. The High Valyrian word for slave is dohaeriros (whose root you may recognize), but the word they use in Astapor is buzdar, which has its roots in Ghiscari.”
A. Testosterone Chronicles:
Why universal emancipation and social ascendency of woman is necessary for human survival.
“A human population with adequate food, and with reasonable pre-modern public health will do what the English settler population did in North America in the two centuries after 1600: it will double from natural increase each generation. Only Malthus’s “positive check”—plague, famine, children malnourished so that their immune systems are compromised and cannot fight off bacterial or viral infections, women so malnourished that they cease ovulating—can keep population stable. Even Malthus’s “preventative check”—priests threatening those who engage in illicit sexual intercourse with damnation, fathers refusing to let their daughters marry until the suitor is established with a farm of his own, brothers refusing to let younger lineage males marry until lineage resources increase, kings to enforce Poor Laws and confine vagrants and those without visible means of support—cannot do much. Only with the coming of female literacy and artificial means of birth control can a society maintain both a slowly growing or stable population and a substantial edge in median standard of living over subsistence.”
Brad DeLong (http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/demography-twentieth-century-economic-history-weblogging.html#more)
B. Tales of Inhumanity:
7th May 1943, The ‘end of the world’ approaches in the Warsaw Ghetto (Part I).
A young woman writes:
Five difficult and tragic days have passed. In this short time, we have had many experiences. Our living conditions were difficult from the moment we entered our hideaway and they became worse since we have taken in 45 people. Most of them had no food. At midnight on Monday, the electricity was cut off. We are now faced with a serious problem: how will we cook? We do not have stoves connected to a chimney. The bunker leaders deliberated this problem for three days and, in the meantime, arguments broke out. Brother fought with sister, friend fought with friend and they all fought among themselves. Hunger skipped no one.
The quarreling was so loud that the echoes were probably heard outside the bunker. The situation was terrible, and dangerous as well. The emotional state of the people is dreadful. Some of them lie on the ground unconscious. The most vulnerable are the children. We have already been through three days without hot food.
In the end, the problem of the kitchen was solved. But it is preferable to avoid addressing someone in order to maintain the silence because every question brings offensive and coarse replies. The people in the bunker are behaving without courtesy and consideration.The night was horrific. There was terrible irritability.
I witnessed a shocking event when Jews were removed from the bunker in a neighboring house. During my night guard duty I lay next to the judasz and listened to conversations going on outside.
The conversation between the Germans, full of irony and sadism, made my body go cold and my blood boil. Yes, the Germans are certain that they are justified. We are considered murderers and they want to present themselves as the epitome of morality and humanity. Descriptions of the blind hatred towards us, the persecuted and tortured, made me feel as though salt was being spread on my open wounds. Their words always ended with coarse laughter.
(From Brad DeLongs Journal)
(There have been many genocides in human history, a number of them perhaps greater and crueller even than the Holocaust that ended in 1945, but none so well documented by the victims themselves. This testimony allows us, perhaps for the first time, to glimpse the true horror of hatred.)
The Bible Speaks: On environmental protection.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)
“Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:17-18)
“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24)
“You must keep my decrees and my laws…. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:26, 28)
“You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33-34)
“If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)
“I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.” (Jeremiah 2:7)
(It is interesting how easy it is to use or misuse the bible to justify or condemn just about anything. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why our founding fathers were so adamant about separating church and state.)
(Sort of looks a lot like a map of the vote in the last election. The dark blue counties containing the highest percentage of high achievers roughly corresponds to those counties that voted for Obama in the last election)
Yellow on Blue
Note: those interested in back issues of This and that…. they can be found at: josephpetrillo.wordpress.com
- Harry Dresden-Wizard: A review of Storm Front by Jim Butcher (shelftonightstand.wordpress.com)
- Review: “Dead Beat” by Jim Butcher (knitewrites.wordpress.com)
- Tiny, but Fierce! (defendthebook.wordpress.com)