Happy Birthday Jessica
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
The past few days have seen the rains return to BKK. I do not know if we have tipped over into the rainy season yet or if this is just a temporary respite from the heat and the pollution. In any event, the pollution and the blazing heat have diminished, replaced with stifling humidity. As a result, except for my daily trip to the pool, I still spend most of my days huddled by the AC in my apartment reading. I have completed reading all 14 novels in the Dresden Files series that have been written so far. The author promises to write at least seven more.
We now know that Mab the Fairy Queen of the Winter Court of the Sidhe is not insane even though she had her daughter Maeve murdered. We also know the name of the being behind all the trouble that occurred in the previous 13 books. His name is Nemesis, although to call him that pisses him off so everyone prefers to call him the Adversary. Why that does not piss him off as much, I have no idea. We still do not know what is under the Cowl. Harry Dresden, the Wizard, did get laid again. Although he was willing, he was effectively raped by Mab since there was nothing he could do about it. The coupling itself, through what in the magic of fairyland passes for social media, was witnessed by all the residents of both the Summer and Winter Queendoms of the Sidhe.
I really do not know what has been going on with me for the past few weeks. Whatever physical or emotional problems I had experienced since my hospitalization have been gone ever since my jet lag lifted a few weeks ago. Yet, since then I have done little but swim in the mornings and read straight through the day until I turn out the light at about 11pm to sleep. One day, I decided to break from reading and so I went to see a movie. That’s it. I feel like I should be doing something — almost anything. I even put off my trip to the beach for a week. I do not feel depressed. If fact just the opposite. Nevertheless I exhibit all the symptoms of depression except depression itself.
Since I finished the Dresden Tales I have returned to Bruen, Nesbro, Declan Burke and the Foreworld Tales. Every day I try to write a few sentences in This and that… but little else. Maybe I will do something next week. Time is getting short.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
In the Autumn of 2011, when the new Thai government came into power, it implemented a campaign promise to create a national health program that provides all Thais with health services for about one dollar US per visit. The program was conceived by the administrator of a hospital that had managed to develop and carry out the medical delivery systems in his hospital to such a high degree of efficiency that it allowed the hospital to charge the patient only a little more than that. The program passed in the first few hours of the new administration. A quasi-independent board was set up to administer it.
The hospital administrator that developed the program was appointed to head the new entity. I has proven wildly successful, much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutical industry (mostly foreign corporations) because unlike Obamacare in the US which in a compromise with the industry did not allow Medicare to freely choose the lowest cost supplier by forcing them to compete on price, the Thai program did. It was very successful in bringing down costs.
The Administrator of the Thai program has recently proposed to manufacture generic drugs in general use not patent protected in order to further reduce costs. That apparently was the last straw. Under pressure from the foreign pharmaceutical companies, the government sacked the administrator and turned the entire program over to administration by local political leaders.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.
Most people believe that when faced with danger humans react in two ways, fight or flee. Actually there is a third way. I call it the bunny rabbit approach — freeze and be eaten. Unfortunately for me, I have found that the third option seems to be the default setting on my survival instinct. So, when I saw Fat Face sitting there in the car smiling at me my first impulse was to close my eyes and cringe. But, after a moment I realized that there was at least ten feet of sidewalk between me and the car in which he was sitting I relaxed a bit and after checking up and down the street I said”
“Where’s the Prince of Wales?”
“Huh” Fat Freddie responded. His smile disappearing.
“Your fat friend Gordie.”
“Uh…why don’t you get in the car here and you can give me your report,” he said obviously not getting my clever allusion to a scene in a fifty year old movie about Beau Brummel staring Stewart Granger (but for “Scaramouche” his greatest role).
“I thought you were going to call,” said I.
“Too busy. but I have time now.”
“Well,” I said. “There’s nothing to report. I still don’t know what happened to Holland. And I’m not getting into your car. You’re in the wrong area of the city for trolling. Try Land’s End.”
Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my kidney either I was passing a stone or something hard was pushed into my back. A large hand then gripped my upper arm followed by a gravelly voice saying, “get in the car.”
It finally got to me. My fear was replaced by indignation at being forced to play a supporting role a third-rate gangster flick. Said:
“It talks. Is this the point when I say, is that a gun sticking into my back or are you just happy to see me. There’s a big difference between sitting in a car choking on Porky’s body oder and getting shot in the street. You’re not going to do it so let’s knock off amateur hour. Or to put it another way, go fuck yourself.”
Before I could do anything else or Fat Freddie could respond, I heard,
“Let’m go muthafucka.”
The grip on my arm loosened and I turned around. There was Joe Vu with his gun against Frank Fat’s neck.
“Fuck,” I screamed. “Are you all crazy?. Joe put the fucking gun away. No one’s shooting anyone. Were in the middle of a San Francisco Street. You Porky Two get back in the car.”
“It’s OK Bart,” the rotund one driving the car called out. “Get in the car.”
“Bart! Did you just call him Bart? Am I living in a Trivial Pursuits wet dream? He’s not a kid with yellow skin so that must make you Brett.”
Fat Tony or rather Bilious Bart walked to the car and got in. I realized that they actually did remind me of the aged and obese Garner and the guy that never made it in the movies. They smiled waved and drove off.
“I thought you were in trouble boss,” said Joe Vu slipping his gun back into his pocket.
I did not say anything as we walked back to our car but then thought I would screw with him a bit. Said,
“You think Martin hired them?”
“Nah,” he said as he walked around to the driver’s side and opened the door. “If he wanted to hurt you he’d have you hire his cousin as your student.”
I stared at him then got into the car. Said,
“You know, I think it’s all a game.”
“What do you mean boss.”
“Why me. Why hire me. I’m a no account PI. if anyone were really serious they would hire a real agency. This towns full of detectives. I don’t think either Martin, or Mavis or for that matter Lilly care all that much about either Reilly or Holland. The Tons of Fun were probably just toying with me.”
“Why do you do that boss?”
“Make fun fat people like that.”
“Fat guys, blond beauty contest winners, politicians and Vietnamese sidekicks are still fair game. The PC police haven’t gotten to them yet.”
At that moment both our phones started ringing at the same time. It was Mavis on mine. She said,
“What did you do with Lilly?”
“She called you huh? Was she upset?
“Not really. Said she might take us up on a threesome. But that’s not why I called. After Lilly hung up, I went back to my painting. I like to listen to the radio news — for some reason music distracts me when I paint. Anyway, they just reported that Clarence Reilly was found floating near one of the piers at the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.”
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.
A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service:
2. The New York State Mental Health Hospital System in 1965:
During the Middle Ages in Europe at about the time that market towns began to flourish, the good burghers of those villages recognized that, in addition to criminals such as thieves and pick-pockets, disruptive individuals disturbing the peace were not good for business and so they were rounded up and one way or another punished. In addition to the normal drunk and disorderly, included among the breakers of the peace were those that in a future more civilized time were to be called the mentally ill; those whose physical behavior made them incapable of fending for themselves or those who defended themselves from the horrors of their own mind by adopting behaviors that were shockingly odd to those around them. Many of the latter were driven from the towns into the countryside or executed as witches or heretics.
Eventually the difference between the common criminal and the mentally ill began to be recognized and separate jails and prisons were constructed to house the latter. As these insane asylums as they began to be known grew in both size and number, periodic attempts were made to treat those in the asylums somewhat more humanely than they had been. Places like Charenton in Paris, although considered one of the most “humane,” inflicted all sorts of tortures on their inmates in efforts to “cure” them. Those were the enlightened places. In most asylums the cost of long-term care generally were contained by maintaining a high mortality rate.
In the middle of the Nineteenth Century with the coming of the Industrial revolution, the newly emergent upper middle class discovered to their horror that their newfound wealth did not shield them from being stricken with mental illness any less often than the poor (but, probably a good deal less often than the hugely inbred royalty of the time). Unlike the poor, however, who for example upon becoming too depressed to work would end up starving or incarcerated, many members of the middle class (except for the male primary bread winners) could lie in bed for as much as weeks at a time until the humors or vapors or whatever passed. And, these new industrialists had the wherewithal to hire care givers for their distressed family members.
As a result, as it was to be expected, individuals claiming expertise in nervous disorders clustered wherever there was money to be made. This was mostly a good thing because it got some people to think about what could be done with these types of illnesses and a few of them even began to look into what was going on with the patients in the asylums; if not for humanitarian reasons, then at least as experimental subjects.
During the later part of that century and the first two decades of the next, in central Europe a group of these practitioners attempted to piece together a scholarly synthesis of the conditions they had been hired to treat. Psychoanalysis was born and a revolution in treatment followed. They were wrong of course. They assumed that there was a defect in the mind that could be corrected by behavioral and environmental strategies such as actually talking to the patient in a way calculated to instill in the patient the belief that the analyst was really interested in the patients condition.
It was more a religion then a science in that, although it appeared to be on some level empirically descriptive, it was neither quantified nor particularly verifiable. (Some of the early associations of these practitioners even had rules that discouraged experimentation and often threw out any practitioner who did not precisely follow the association’s approved method of treatment.) Due, however, to its lavish use of metaphor and its complex description of human motivation, it did produce great art.
Also, the long-term interaction of the practitioner with the patient required by psychoanalysis and the subtle behavioral modification that were encouraged seemed to have had a mitigating effect on the severity and duration of the patient’s condition, much like bed rest has on a cold. It also was lucrative enough to attract the best and the brightest into the profession. This perhaps was its lasting impact because as a general rule the more people looking at a problem for whatever reason, the more likely you will find someone who actually figures out what to do about it.
By the middle of the Twentieth Century, due in part to the influx of specialists from Central Europe fleeing the horrors of that time and its incredible wealth, New York City became the center of the universe for psychiatric care. It was a time of great ferment and turmoil in the subject area. This concentration of money and expertise overflowed into the hospital system housing the mentally ill in New York State. Huge hospitals often containing the latest technology were built. Some of these hospital complexes were so large that in terms of population and land areas covered by buildings they could rank as small cities.
The patients in several large state run hospitals in a particular area would be sent there primarily from a central receiving hospital. Often the receiving hospital was associated with a medical school teaching hospital with a psychiatric treatment emphasis.
Police and family members would bring to the emergency rooms throughout the day and night individuals who appeared to be suffering no observable trauma or biological disease but who were clearly unable to care for themselves for some reason. After processing through the emergency room most were released and only the most disturbed were admitted to the wards.
By the following morning they each would be interviewed by the chief psychiatric resident at a meeting attended by other members of the hospitals medical and psychiatric staff as well as the institutions social service and administrative staff who would then decide whether to readmit them to the wards of the teaching hospital for a short-term stay, send them on to the appropriate state hospital for long-term care or release them.
One could be involuntarily incarcerated for mental illness, drug dependency and alcoholism. One had certain rights for a hearing regarding incarceration. But, what patient would ever know what those rights were? There was also a belief in a history of callous indifference to the welfare of the patients once they were admitted. Hence the Mental Health Information Service was created to remedy these concerns and to bring to the patients some semblance of understanding of their legal rights to both freedom as well as adequate medical treatment.
A. Tales of Inhumanity:
7th May 1943, The ‘end of the world’ approaches in the Warsaw Ghetto (Part III).
A young woman writes:
“The Germans usually attacked us at night. Now they are expanding their attacks to the daytime as well. We must maintain absolute silence on our bunks so that the enemy will not discover us.
I am going out into the street. The streets – Mila, Zamenhof, Kurza, Nalewki, Lubecki – all are on fire. Workshops, apartments, stores, entire houses are burning. The ghetto is nothing more than a sea of flames.
A very strong wind is blowing, which fans the fire and carries the sparks from the burning houses to those that have not yet caught fire.
The fire destroys everything. The sight is horrifying, shocking. The fire spreads so quickly that people cannot escape from the buildings and they perish tragically. People with bundles run from house to house, from street to street. There is no salvation; no one knows where to hide. They search in desperation but there is no deliverance, no refuge, death rules everything.
The walls of the ghetto are surrounded. No one goes out and no one comes in. Clothing is burning on people’s bodies. Screams of pain, sobbing. Everyone wants to be saved, everyone tries to save his own life.
People are choking from the smoke. All are begging for help. Most of them, almost all of them, cry out to God: “God, show your power, have mercy on us.” God is as silent as a Sphinx and does not answer. And you, the nations, why are you silent? Don’t you see that they want to annihilate us? Why are you silent?
Despite the danger, Jews are running through the streets just to save their lives. Everything is engulfed in fire. It looks like the end of the world has come. “Save yourselves if you can!” The situation is horrifying, terrible. Everyone wants to be saved. Hell has come to earth. Dante’s Inferno – it cannot be believed and it cannot be described.
A new day is beginning. With the new day, there is a deathly silence. People are in their corners without food or water. A cemetery in flames. The sound of metal falling and of burning walls collapsing is heard.
The ghetto is burning for the fourth day. All we see are chimneys standing and the frames of the houses that burned down. In the first moment, this spectacle arouses a shudder of horror: yes, this is the work of Hitler’s vandals, who hope that the entire world will look this way. There is no doubt that they will not succeed in this.
In our thoughts, we return to the past. We’ve lost many things. The only thing left to us is our hiding place. Of course, it is not a safe place.
We live the day, the hour, the moment.”
A few days later the following report was filed by Juergen Stroop:
“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue…. Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved…. Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”
B. Races do not exist, but Racism does:
Why Racism is Foolish from the Perspective of Modern Genetics.
“If you ask for your DNA profile today from a company that specialized in “DNA ancestry” what you will get is essentially a picture of the “origin” of the different segments on your chromosome, so you’ll see that this segment over here (which is known to code for the following 10 genes) is African, while that segment next to it (which is known to code for the following 16 genes) is Native American. This is the obvious consequences of crossing-over, of course.
Making this fact so obvious, so front-and-center has very interesting consequences. Most importantly, it makes it clear that while one can speak of “African genes” or “Northern European genes”, one cannot extrapolate from that to an “African person”, at least not in the context of the Americas where four hundred years of random interbreeding has occurred.
All one can mean by “African person” is a less careful way of saying “person whose appearance genes are African”. It was expected that there would be substantial clustering and correlation between genes but, again in the Americas, this turns out largely not to be the case, so you may have African appearance genes, but that does not translate into an especially high probability that you have African blood genes or liver protein genes or (if you insist on that sort of thing) African sport and neuro-anatomy genes. And vice versa — you may look as Euro as they come, but chances are there was at least one African somewhere in the past ten generations or so, and that African left his/her genes in you — not as a diluted out “1024th of the blood” but as very definite stretches of DNA coding for very definite proteins.
You may insist on your whiteness all you like, but when genomic medicine becomes real, and the test reveals that you carry the African version of oncoprotein 134A, are you going to demand that you be given the “Euro” version of your cancer drug, the one that attacks oncoprotein 134B?”
Maynard Handley http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/dana-golstein-attention-jason-richwine-youre-not-the-first-guy-to-wrongly-believe-immigrants-are-dumb.html#more
(Sigh, yet they still however will deny they are racists even though they believe, Mexicans are stupid, African-Americans shiftless, Arabs homicidal and Barak Obama is a Communist from Kenya.)
A. A message from Al:
(The next time you are out having coffee with your ‘frens’ and are busily engaged with your smart phone, remember it is probably already too late to do anything about Albert’s warning…. or to put it another way, welcome to our generation.
Recently I had lunch with a young woman acquaintance of mine. She spent most of our time together showing me all the wonderful applications on her iPhone. I was doubly jealous. Jealous that I did not have a cool iPhone with thousands of applications and jealous that she found the damned phone more interesting than me.)
“Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them…and those who feel no need to control themselves.”
(What this chart means is that after Hillary Clinton becomes President in 2016, she may find herself ranked as among the greatest Presidents in the nation’s history for having the ability to lower taxes and raise social expenditures while cutting the deficit and running a fiscal surplus, all because of the provisions contained in Barak Obama’s current budget. I am sure the Republicans will fight to the death to prevent this.)
The Duck Pond in Summer.
- The Dresden Files (papajoesfables.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: The Dresden Files; Stormfront (lostbeyondthewall.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: White Night by Jim Butcher (sffreader.wordpress.com)