Monthly Archives: August 2014

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Joe 0002

 

Dum Spiro, Spero.

“Economics, where the inmates get corporate funding to run the asylum.”
Mokurai

Happy Birthday Stevie.

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Well, so far today it’s been a good day. No one has called me an insensitive, dull-witted loser for a few days now (well maybe they have, but we’ll get to that later.) I woke up, dressed and walked to the health club. The overcast skies had departed briefly and the sun was shining. At the club, I sat in the lobby among the Old Men’s Caucus reading the newspapers and swapping stories.

After I did that for a while, I accompanied the Old Sailor to his locker where he took out a wooden box about the size of a small cigar box. He told me it contained the ashes of a close friend of his who had died a few months ago. The dead man’s sister, who lives in Ohio, sent them to the Old Sailor telling him that one of her brother’s last wishes was to send some of his ashes to the Old Sailor so that he could spread them around Bangkok’s houses of ill repute in his memory. So, the Old Sailor explained, he dutifully carried the box with him during his pleasure rounds sprinkling some of his friend’s remains around as he leaves the various establishments.

Now although at first this may seem to be simply a quirky amusing story, alas, it has a less appealing context. It demonstrates for the billion billionth time that the average human male equates his life with his genitals.

I suspect women tend to think there is more to their life than the happiness of their vaginas. I could never imagine a sane woman sending her ashes to her best friend and instructing her to sprinkle them over the floor of the singles bar whenever she leaves with some guy. Maybe pouring it into an ex-husbands coffee, perhaps.

After that, I left to do some banking and get my ticket to return to the US. For those interested in my peregrinations, I arrive in SFO sometime on the 23rd of August and intend to spend the evening in the Bay Area. From then until the end of the month I have no idea what my schedule will be or where I will bed down at night. However, I am looking forward to spending the Memorial Day weekend at my sister’s place in Mendocino.

After obtaining the ticket, I returned to the health club, swam, enjoyed a steam bath, showered and left for my weekly massage. Following that I walked back to my apartment, took a brief nap and wrote this. All and all it has been a good day so far.

Of course, I am of the temperament that believes that in life all good must be balanced by an equal or greater amount of bad. Although I try always to remain conscious of my motto, Dum Spiro, Spero (Where there’s Life there’s Hope), unfortunately, far too often I believe in its darker alternative: Dum Spiro, non Spero (Where there’s Life, there is no Hope). Nevertheless, whenever I feel entrapped in one of my periodic episodes of existential dread, I try to focus on the advice of three of my favorite American philosophers whose wisdom seems to me to fit most circumstances I face in my life:

Rosanna Rosannadanna: “It’s always something.”
Scarlett O’Hara: “Tomorrow is another day.”
Woody Allen: “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love.”

For those reading this you probably think I’m kidding. Well, let’s see about that.

Assume you have just experienced a serious tragedy. The first thing you may want to tell your self is, “It’s always something.” If that does not work for you, then try, “Tomorrow is another day.” That still doesn’t do it, then it may be time for you to try sex with someone you love (or at least never tells you they don’t feel like it right now).

********************

Well, another pretty good day in the bank. It started at the Old Man’s Caucus at the health club. The Old Sailor and I decided to go to Khao San Road so that I can pick up a driver’s license. Despite its notoriety I had never been to Khao San Road before. It has been described as, “The Place to Disappear.” For years it was the backpackers center of Thailand where one could buy almost anything, especially drugs and STD. To me it looked more like the Venice California boardwalk than Bangkok, only the sellers in the stalls lining both sides of the street were not western tourists.

After securing the license, we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s where we were joined by Joe a man who looked like the cadaverous twin of Jerry Merrill. Both the Old Sailor and Joe hinted that they were suffering some truly life threatening maladies. Joe’s skin was pocked with oozing sores. I was disappointed to learn that although I thought they both were substantially older than I, they were actually two years younger.

I spent the afternoon sitting in that McDonald’s on Khao San Road listening to their stories of trips around the world with stolen credit cards, dope deals gone bad, scams that worked and those that didn’t and the mysterious disappearance of four kilos of gold. After that, we went to the travel agency and internet café around the corner where we played on Skype for a while talking to some guy in the Philippines in order to arrange for Joe’s accommodation’s there when he visits in two weeks. I decided to check with the agent to see if they would have been able to get me a better price for my air travel to the US than I was able to get after about a week of trying. I was quite upset they were able to find a ticket for one-third less than I had paid. We then said goodbye to Joe and left Khao San Road. After a two-hour bus ride through downtown BKK, I returned to my apartment.

********************

Today was somewhat interesting. It rained and swimming was not an option. So after attending the Old Men’s Caucus at the health club, I only took a steam bath and shower. As I prepared to leave, I was enticed into a discussion with a likable, intelligent, paranoid conspiracy theorist. His name is Christopher. He was born in Australia of a Jewish father and Australian mother. His father’s family is originally from Transylvania but spent a few generations in Vienna before emigrating to Australia.

He identifies himself proudly as an anarchist and firmly believes in just about every conspiracy I have heard about and a few that I did not: The Twin Towers Conspiracy, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and so on and on. One of them I did not know about goes something like this:

Since the signing of Magna Carta, we unknowingly have been subject to Admiralty Law and not Common Law; which means that we are not individuals but chattel in the eyes of the law. Among the proofs of this amazing assertion was his claim that all birth certificates since then have been written on special paper usually used to write Bills of Lading for transporting goods by ship. Since Bills of Lading are often negotiable documents and can be used as security for debts, our birth certificates over the years have become owned by banks because they were used as collateral by nation states to secure their loans for various wars and the like. He says if you look at a real birth certificate instead of the copy you usually receive (the real ones are kept in the vaults of the major international banks) you will discover on the back stamps from the banks and financial institutions you have been pledged to.

This was probably the least shocking conspiracy he revealed in the several hour conversation I had with him. At one point, he mentioned that if your name is written in all capital letters on a document, that means you are a corporation and not an individual. At least that is what I thought he said.

It was, for me, a few hours fascinating voyage into the arcane world of the truly sublimely insane. Much better than the books I have been reading recently.

He claims he made enough money converting his training as a bio-chemist and phlebotomist into a series of blood testing centers around Australia and England to retire to Thailand. I thought this was an interesting choice of occupation for someone whose family is originally from Transylvania. Anyway, he invited me to join him for dinner one evening before I return to the US.

******************

A few days ago I received an interesting email. It seems that about four years ago as I was closing down my law practice before escaping to Thailand, someone, I no longer remember, asked me to begin some litigation on his behalf for free. I pointed out to him that I did not do litigation and although during the prior few years of practice most of my clients failed to pay their bills, I was not interested in beginning another pro bono representation. The prospective client then explained that the statute of limitations to bring the action would run out in a few days and begged me, as a favor, to file the action so that he could have the time to find an attorney willing to represent him for free. Alas, always a sucker for a sad story, I agreed and filed the case. As could be expected, my friend did not secure alternative representation by the time a mandatory settlement conference was set up. I missed conference and was fined by the court. Ultimately the case was resolved with no further problems and I left the US. Unfortunately I forgot to pay the fine. Now over four years later I learn from my friends through the email that I have been prohibited by the Bar Association from further practice of law in California because I had failed to pay the fine.

Around the same time as my departure from the US, I also tried to retire from the Bar. I was told that in order to do so I would have to pay all unpaid back dues, a fee for retirement and annual dues to remain on inactive status. This conversation occurred during that time when the Bar Association had been unfunded by the California (In effect disbarred by California) and was somewhat desperate for money. After a few arguments over the telephone with representatives of the Bar about my inability to pay the back fees all at once and the unreasonableness of having to pay a fee and dues, no matter how small, to retire and receiving no satisfaction, I explained to them what I thought they could do with their demands. Eventually I began to receive notices by mail from the Bar Association which I assumed were continuing demands for payment of the dues. I treated them just the same as I treated notices from credit card companies demanding payment and threatening to ruin my already ruined credit rating; I threw them all unopened into the trash until, after about a year when my forwarding address ceased to be operative, they ceased. I assume some of these notices contained demands for the payment of fine as well.

At least I was not accused of moral turpitude. Although I certainly have in my life often turpituded my morals, my failing, it seems, was not the terps and tudes that usually gets the Bar Association’s knickers in a twist.

Now in order to save what remains of my reputation and avoid the malicious whisperings of those who should know better, I am faced with the option of possibility paying many thousands of dollars so that I can be reinstated and continue to pay the Bar Association in order to remain on inactive status. I find my chances of choosing this route highly unlikely.

On the other hand, one of my favorite mystery writers, Christopher Moore’s, main character in many of his novels is named Vinnie Calvino, a half Italian, half Jewish lawyer from NY who was disbarred who now lives in Bangkok and eaks out a living as a PI. I find, on the whole, the Calvino approach to dealing with recalcitrant bar associations rather romantic.

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing. I skipped over the California Coastal Commission because I have dealt with its creation at length in previous issues of T&T (although never completed).

C. The California State Coastal Conservancy.

2. Rational for creation of the Coastal Conservancy.

The 1973 voter approved Proposition 20 required the preparation of a plan for the preservation of the resources along California’s 1500 miles of coast by a new governmental entity, The California Coastal Commission. In order to prevent new development from subverting the Plan, the Commission was authorized to regulate all proposed new development within a band extending 1000 feet from the high water line. I was the chief counsel to the Commission in charge of, among other things, the creation and management of the regulatory program. Later I also wrote three elements of the Coastal Plan including the Government, Powers and Funding element that described the Commissions proposals for implementation of the substantive recommendations of the Plan.

The interim regulatory program allowed the Commission and its staff to experience first hand the dynamics of development along the coast and the limitations inherent in a regulatory program. Among these limitations we recognized the following:

1. Although it is capable of moderating the adverse impacts of new development or stopping it all together, regulation proved ineffective in altering negative forces already set in motion by prior development. Neither could it remedy the damage to resources that had already occurred.

2. Regulation, no matter how stringent, leaks. For innumerable reasons inappropriate or developments with unforeseen consequences get approved now and then continuing, albeit slower, the deterioration of the resource. The “leakage” inevitably confirms David Brower’s lament regarding attempts to protect the environment, “All our victories are temporary and all our defeats permanent.”

3. Regulation can stop additional bad things from happening, but it could not take action to create good things nor take preëmptive action. It could not restore degraded resources, build and manage access ways for the public to enjoy the coastline everyone was working so hard to protect, promote and create urban resources, establish physical boundaries to sprawl rather than simply attempting to impose juridical boundaries that ultimately “leak.”

4. Regulation must, for a number or reasons, treat the problems and resources as infinite; for example “wetlands should not be filled,” or “Developments should not interfere with significant public views,” and the like. Yet, in fact, the resources were finite. It was these specific wetlands that needed to be protected and those particular views. As a result regulation was not as sensitive to the more complex requirements of the individual resource.

5. Regulation was passive and reactive. One had to wait for a development to be proposed before a regulatory action could be taken. If the resource was extremely valuable one could not predict the dynamics that affect the decision nor the appropriateness of the action.

6. If the specific resource’s environmental merits were high enough then, leaving it exposed to the conflict of economic interests and value that push and pull those involved in the regulatory process, seem foolhardy.
(To be continued)

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: I don’t like your manners.
Marlowe: And I’m not crazy about yours. I didn’t ask to see you. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners, I don’t like them myself. They are pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings. I don’t mind your ritzing me drinking your lunch out of a bottle. But don’t waste your time trying to cross-examine me.
Chapter 25

I followed Mavis into the pool area where she had already settled into what appeared to be an amusing conversation with Lilly Park. For some reason I assumed it was about me. I approached them. Lilly turned to me with a big smile, said, “Well, here’s the great private detective. Come to shake me down again?”

“The threesome offer is still open,” I responded. “That’s the only type of shaking I’m interested in right now.”

“Ooh, I might just be into that. Can I bring a fourth?”

“Bring whoever you’d like.”

“Maybe I’ll bring Malcolm,” she said. “I heard you two get along real well.”

Malcolm Dornbush, the octogenarian real estate developer of many of San Francisco’s most notable high rises, philanthropist and major contributor to the City’s Democratic Party since there is no opposition party to corrupt. Oh and a major prick. He never forgave me for representing a competitor in a battle over which one could misuse the City’s environmental planning policies to benefit himself at the expense of the other as well as the public. I won.

A few weeks later at a political event at which we were both honored for our meretricious contributions to the party, Malcolm approached the table at which I was sitting along with a number of unmemorable political appointees to various city boards and commissions and in a loud voice berated me for causing him to lose some of his expected outrageous profits on the project. He also swore that he would never give me and my firm and legal work in the future and capped the diatribe off with a threat to destroy my career. I knew that the threat was meaningless. I was quite capable of destroying my career on my own and certainly did not need his help to do so.

I responded, “Mal, you can fuss and fume all you want, but you are an old man and I am much younger than you and I will always have the pleasure of knowing that I will outlive you and that you know it.” Actually I was not so sure. Even then I believed the fucker was so evil he would live forever.

“I thought I just heard someone mention my name. Was that you, Lilly my dear?”

The mostly bald, liver spotted creäture of darkness that was Malcolm Dornbush seemed to emerge from behind some vegetation that had hidden him like a swamp hides alligators. He was followed by his equally reprehensible son who rumor has it was so incompetent he was sent off to the bush leagues of Oakland to suborn that city into allowing him to fail at redeveloping an already misused piece of Port property.

“Why hello Dragon,” said the talking pus bucket as he turned to me. “I almost did not see you. You’re easy to miss among all these distinguished people. I see you know Lilly. I hear you do not get out of North Beach much anymore. Pity.” He smiled for a moment and continued, “As you can see I am still alive.”

“I congratulate you Mal, on your brilliance in living this long and forcing me to delay that inevitable day when I stand there and piss on your grave.”

“Ah, same old Dragon.” He pointedly turned his back to me and said to Lilly, “Come Lilly. I see Bertha Briggs the Chairwoman of the Port of Oakland over there. We have to say a few words to her about Alvin’s project. Why don’t you join us my dear?”

He, ever the Lothario, said the last to Mavis and with his arms spread wide like a farmer herding ducks moved them all off to where the ever loud Bertha was holding court. Mavis turned her head to me and shrugged before she and everyone else left me standing there alone.

 
DAILY FACTOID:

2013- The US has over 1.1 million lawyers and graduates about 40,000 more per year. The US leads the world in lawyers per capita. As a whole lawyers are among the highest paid professionals in the US. They produce little of value to the nation as a whole.

At the same time, we have only about 16000 physicists and 8000 materials scientists. They do not earn on average as much as lawyers do. A significant portion of the technological advancement that forms much of the economic foundation of the nation’s wealth depends on them.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“Even without being able to gauge the actual political power of wealthy citizens, we can confidently reject the view that extensive political power by the wealthy would be of little practical importance anyway because their policy preferences are much the same as everyone else’s. On many important issues the preferences of the wealthy appear to differ markedly from those of the general public. Thus, if policy makers do weigh citizens’ policy preferences differentially based on their income or wealth, the result will not only significantly violate democratic ideals of political equality, but will also affect the substantive contours of American public policy.”
Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans, by Benjamin I. Page, Larry M. Bartels, and Jason Seawright

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the country. It works the same in every country.”
Herman Goering during his testimony at the Nuremberg Trials.

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
Joseph Stalin

“What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream?”
Woody Allen

 

TODAY’S CHART:
603360_574908565884665_431395222_n
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
DSCN1864 - Version 2

Me at the beach holding up the sky like Atlas, except I do it with only one hand.

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Joe 0002

 

— Dum Spiro, Spero

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I woke up today in a very good mood. LM came by to make breakfast before heading off to work at the health club. While I was sitting at the table eating and fiddling with the computer, I was alternately grumbling and cursing sotto voce at the internet connection service that at times breaks down every few seconds, especially this morning. LM after observing me for a while said, “Some people think you are not 100 percent.” (That means somewhere in between insane and mentally retarded.) “Why do you say so,” I responded. (Note: The quotes are approximations and best guesses since our language deficiencies require us to communicate in a mixture of pidgin english and pantomime.) “At the movies you cry and talk to the screen like it is real and happening to you.”

My first thought was to feel sad for those people who were unable to emotionally involve themselves in a work of art, no matter how marginal. After all, the artists and others involved probably work hard trying to make a living at attempting to entertain you. I decided however, no response was the best response, so I grunted and returned to my recalcitrant computer.

She then said, “A lot of people have told me you are gullible, believe everything that they say and give all your money away.”

Now at this point, if I had any interpersonal sensitivities at all, I should have realized something was bothering her. Instead I was furious that here I was in a good mood, a state that requires, for a short time at least, forgetting your inadequacies and failures, when now this person had to go and remind me of them. So, I slammed the computer closed, finished dressing and stormed off to the Health Club.

Along the walk, I rattled back and forth between feeling sorry for myself, shame at my utter lack of empathy with LM or anyone else for that matter and furious that, with every step I took, many of my life’s innumerable embarrassments were now flooding back into my consciousness.

At the club, after reading the mornings newspapers and barely responding to the attempts of the aging ex US merchant marine guy sitting next to me to engage me in swapping stories of drugs, booze and sex, I put on my bathing suit went to the pool. Once I got into the water, I attacked it in fury, intending to swim until struck by a heart attack so that I could feel even more sorry for myself. Alas, all I got for my efforts was tired, so I left the pool took a steam bath showered and left the club.

I walked to my new favorite massage parlor nearby, where after two hours I began feeling better; not less self-absorbed, just less upset about it. I then went to Terminal 21 and had a root beer float at Swenson’s and things began to look and feel rosy enough that even the overcast sky could not disperse it.

I came home to my apartment crawled into my bed and wrote this. It is all about me of course, it is always all about me. I should change the name of this email series from “This and that…” to “It’s all about me, of course.”

I think I need to leave Bangkok and get a life.

*****

I have just returned from dinner and have re-read what I have written above. I am not going to erase it. This is a journal after all. But, let’s just take another look at what we have here: A guy gets up in the morning after a good sleep and someone makes him breakfast which he eats while playing on his computer and ignoring the world. He then takes a leisurely walk to the Health Club where after reading the newspaper and talking to a friend, he goes for a swim and take a steam bath followed by a lengthy massage and capped off by a root beer float. Returning to his apartment he takes a nap, plays some more on his computer and goes out and has a nice dinner. All this he considers to be something from which he must flee to find a better life because he happens to assume that someone hinted that he was an insensitive, dull-witted loser. Well, if you ask me, there certainly seems to be enough evidence here to prove that that person may be right.
**********

It has become obvious that the time has come for me to leave Bangkok and return to the US for a while. I originally thought I was going to leave on about the 14th or so of July when I planned to accompany HHH back to the US stopping briefly in Italy and the US East Coast. On the day before we were to leave, SWAC changed the plans and left in my place. I then had thought I would fly back sometime before HHH begins school on August 8th. Now that too appears unlikely.

I have now committed, in my mind at least, to leaving sometime around the middle of August. Having apparently no time constraints any longer, I have decided to treat myself to an adventure. I looked into flying somewhere odd, like Vladivostok or Bora Bora on my way back but those type of options have become too expensive for me in my reduced financial circumstances. I then looked into traveling by cargo ship, but that also is somewhat expensive and a bit difficult to arrange as they require those over 70 to have a physical check up and a doctor willing to certify that he would not need medical attention on the high seas. So here are the three options that I came up with. I ask whoever might read this to give me the benefit of their counsel:

1. Travel West by plane, stopping off in India (bucket list item) for a few days and visiting the Mogul architectural masterpieces outside of Delhi. Then on to Milan for a while visiting with friends followed by a flight to the East Coast and a visit with my daughter in Washington before returning to California. Unfortunately, in order to make this work financially I need to take advantage of a deeply discounted flight over the Atlantic that would not be available until mid-September.

2. While researching my travel options, I became fascinated by train travel options in Asia and looked into the railway that follows the Silk Route through Asia (another bucket list item). But that entire trip is also too expensive for me at this time and I had also promised Peter Grenell many years ago that I would take that trip with him. So instead, I decided to consider flying to Saigon and taking the train from there to Hong Kong and from there flying back to SF. The train ride would take six days. I probably would stop for overnights in places like Hanoi and Nanning extending the journey by another two or three days. It has been suggested by some of those to whom I mentioned I was considering this option, that I may still be suffering from something I inhaled many years ago when trips like this were common among my hippy peers. There may be something to be said for that since I would not see it as unlikely that I could find myself dead in the Chinese countryside somewhere about 150 miles outside of Hong Kong.

3. Forget the whole adventure fantasy, act my age and get on a plane that flies directly from BKK to SFO (and remember to get out of my seat and exercise every hour or so).

What do you think?

**********

I have just realized what may have motivated me to write the above items that obviously record my recent emotional disintegration. About a week or so ago I suddenly stopped reading any more novels, having read over 90 in the past 3 months sometimes reading for eight hours straight. I stopped because the Amazon program feeding that obsession has run out of books to promote that I am interested in reading much less buying. Reading has never been for me an information gathering or entertainment activity but rather an addiction. One, like most addictions, I use to avoid confronting reality. Of course, obsessive reading of escapist literature does not have the same physical downside as hard drugs or liquor. It’s more like taking Methadone. You get to keep your habit but you get no fun out of it (Well maybe a little fun. Perhaps it’s more like taking Oxycontin. You feel pretty good but, alas, without the orgasmic jolt.). As in ending any addiction, I suffer physical and psychological difficulties, tremors, sweating, waking at night screaming, ghosts and paranoia prompting the need to escape.

(Of course everything I have written so far is post hoc rationalization necessitated by the need to make sense out of the irrationality of history so that one can avoid responding to questions about what happened with “I haven’t the slightest idea” or as Vonnegut put it, “So it goes” or more appropriately “why are you wasting my time?”)

**********

DSCN1884<DSDSCN1883
My Neighborhood During the Daytime.

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. The end to fear is near:

Recently I read somewhere that taking Tylenol can diminish one’s sense of existential dread.

Wow, if Woody Allen used Tylenol rather than sex to ameliorate his fear of death, he still would be making funny movies instead of turning into an auteur.

2. How does one sign Sweet Adeline?
image

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

 

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Philip Marlowe: You wanna tell me now?
Vivian: Tell you what?
Philip Marlowe: What it is you’re trying to find out. You know, it’s a funny thing. You’re trying to find out what your father hired me to find out, and I’m trying to find out why you want to find out.

Chapter 24

Keeping an eye on Bumptious Bart as we advanced I suggested to Joe Vu that he remain outside and put his guerrilla training to good use and keep an eye on the comings and goings especially regarding Broad Bart and the Lincoln. He nodded assent and disappeared back the way we had come.

We walked past the Lincoln, I nodded and smiled at Big Bad Bart. He gave me a two-fingered salute and a too large smile back. I pushed open the silvered redwood plank gate and we entered into the grounds of Chez Reilly.

The grounds were covered with mostly overgrown and seemingly not well tended vegetation which I guessed was probably an intentional attempt to make it appear more rustic and natural. There were several brick and tiled walkways winding through the decorative forest. I could see people walking slowly along the paths or speaking together in small groups. One of the paths led to the house. The house itself was a low-lying split level ranch style whose exterior walls were mostly covered with dense vegetation. It appeared to be not so much a house as a wood-shake topped mound rising out of the bushes, punctured here and there with windows and doors, sort of like an unkempt house in Hobbit-town.

To our left as we walked along the path, was the obligatory large multi-leveled pool area, shimmering blue like a magnesium polluted pond in the jungle. Around the pool people had gathered especially near the small refreshment table behind which stood a young asian woman dispensing drinks. One of Sunee’s relatives I surmised. I thought I saw Lilly moving around the pool but I did not have time to investigate because we arrived at the door to the house and went right in. We were met by a Thai man in his late thirties who I recall being introduced to at one of my prior visits as Sunee’s brother. Given what I know about Thailand relationships, it is just as likely that he was Sunee’s Thai husband as her brother. He weid and held out his hand directing us toward the living room. Two older men were just leaving. I guessed they were business acquaintances of Clarence since I did not recognize them as being among the local politicians and hangers-on that I had come to know so well.

As we progressed toward the sunken living room, we passed an open door into the kitchen where Clarence and Sunee’s three children were at the table eating sandwiches the Philippine maid was serving.

We mad a right turn and walked down the three steps into the dimly lit living room, where Sunee sat straight-backed and alone on a sofa. There were a few candles lit by a small buddha shrine. As we got closer we could see the marks of tears on her cheeks. I could not however tell if those tears had actually flowed from her eyes which appeared dry and dark and as angry as a summer storm.

Mavis, ran over to her, hugged her and they immediately started jabbering back and forth as though they were childhood friends and not as people who had only met once. But, I guess woman are just more verbal than men, as innumerable scientific studies seem to indicate.

Sunee then turned to me and after I expressed my condolences, she told me how pleased he was to see me here and how highly Clarence thought of me. She then leaned toward me and in a low voice said that she would like to talk to me privately later. Mavis immediately suggested that we talk now and that she would leave, which she did just stopping at the top of the steps to speak with a young Asian couple who were waiting.

Sunee leaned forward, grasped my hand and said in almost a whisper, “I want you to find out how my husband died.” Taken a bit back by this I said, “I heard the police think he took his own life.”

“I know,” she responded angrily. “I don’t believe it. I want to hire you to find out.”

“Why me? Why not go to the police with your concerns?”

“Clarence said you were a great attorney at one time. He trusted you. I’m willing to pay. How much do you charge?”

“One Hundred dollars a day plus expenses, one week minimum, one half payment up front.” As usual when dealing with widows, orphans and women I’d like to sleep with, my business sense, such as it is, flies out the window. Any question raised of the conflict of interest presented by the fact that Martin Vihn is paying me for the same investigation, barely impinged on my conscience. The California Association of Private Investigators Code of Ethics is less that a page long and is voluntary. Anyway, it just requires disclosure of a potential conflict to a client where the conflict would prevent the investigator from performing a fair investigation. My investigations, if nothing else, are usually fair.

“Would you take a check?”

“Of course.” While she was reaching for her purse I asked. “Why do you think the police may be wrong? Do you suspect someone killed him?”

“Killed him? I don’t know, maybe. But who would do that? Everyone loved him. I just know he would never kill himself. It probably was an accident.” With that she handed me a check. I took out my card exchanged it for the check and said, “Call me when you feel up to it. I have a few questions.” I turned nodded to the waiting couple and left the room.

I paused by the front door, stood behind the brother who was ushering additional mourners in and tried to think through what just happened. I knew that most life insurance policies will not pay out for suicides. The widow probably knows that and is looking for an angle. But why me? Usually it is the attorney you retain to fight the the insurance company’s decision that hires the investigator. Also, this town has many investigators experienced it fighting the companies; like Fat Al, who should be here by now. Maybe, like just about everything associated with this mess there is less here than meets the eye. She could be just hedging her bets and wanting to collect some information before passing it on to which ever attorney she chooses. Maybe she hopes I come up with something good enough so that she does not have to split her take with the lawyers. I decided additional consideration of this at this time would probably not lead anywhere productive and so I exited the house.

Mavis was waiting just outside the door.

“So, what did the grieving widow want,” she said with a sly smile?

“Nothing much. She just wanted me to know how much Clarence respected my work.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“What, you think she told me something else?”

“No, I don’t believe Reilly respected your work.”

“Oh look, there’s Lilly,” she said and ran off leaving me standing there wondering whether I should be annoyed.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1661: Greek scholar Leo Allatius, who died that year, declared that Jesus foreskin ascended with him into heaven where it turned into the rings of Saturn.
[From Oliver Potzsch, “The Poisoned Pilgrim”]

(After NASA announced one of its space probes found that Saturn’s rings were composed of dust particles, Leo appeared with Sean Hannity on Fox News to claim Obama had secretly stolen the divine foreskin and was using it as a throw rug in the Oval Office.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“Empirical research suggests that parents’ economic resources affect their children’s future earnings abilities. Optimal tax policy therefore treats future ability distributions as endogenous to current taxes. We model this endogeneity, calibrate the model to match estimates of the intergenerational transmission of earnings ability in the United States, and use the model to simulate such an optimal policy numerically. The optimal policy in this context is more redistributive toward low-income parents than existing U.S. tax policy. It also increases the probability that low-income children move up the economic ladder, generating a present-value welfare gain of more than two and one half percent of consumption in our baseline case.”
Alex Gelber and Matthew Weinzierl: Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation when Children’s Abilities Depend on Parents’ Resources:

(I don’t really understand what they are saying here, but I am sure Occupy would agree with their conclusion that sending poor kids to good schools is, on balance, a good thing)

 
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
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TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Metaphysical naiveté always ends in murder. It fragments the world. Little acts of kindness and charity mask the monstrous evil they abet. And the system rolls forward. The polar ice caps melt. The droughts rage over cropland. The drones deliver death from the sky. The state moves inexorably forward to place us in chains. The sick die. The poor starve. The prisons fill. And the careerist, plodding forward, does his or her job.

Chris Hedges, Truthdig

 
TODAY’S CHART:
2013_07_LifeExpectancy

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Statue in lake at Murang Boran

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Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Joe 0002

“Dum  Spiro, Spero” 

     as long as you’re breathing, there’s hope.

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The rainy season has brought overcast skies but little rain to BKK. The clouds seem to trap the pollution close to the ground. It feels like someone pressing piece of dirty wet gauze over my eyes and nose. Some days I find it hard to breathe. I cough more than usual and at times feel overwhelmed with exhaustion. Later this week I plan to go to Jomtien Beach (Paradise by the Sea), the next town down coast from Pattaya, (The Outskirts of Hell). I expect cleaner air there.

The monsoon rain clouds funnel up the Bay of Thailand where they then scurry along the Chao Phraya River running through BKK on their way up into the mountains near Chiang Mai to drop most of their moisture. They generally leave the beach areas around The Outskirts of Hell and Paradise by the Sea somewhat overcast free. Sea breezes push the air at the beaches inland leaving them relatively absent of air pollution.

After giving it some thought I decided I need to get a job (suggestions invited), not so much for the money, but because one ought not spend so much time alone with himself in a darkened room.
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Not a very pretty picture.

Sometimes, however, LM comes by and dances,
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or just sits and makes wool scarves that no one in Thailand will ever use.
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Hayden asked her to make a scarf he could give to his mom as a present, even though he knew SWAC would throw it out anyway. Once she started making them, LM refused to stop. My apartment now looks like something out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with wool scarves multiplying uncontrollably. I expect that one day I will come home and find that I am unable to get into my apartment because it’s filled floor to ceiling with knitted wool scarves. (“The Scarf that Swallowed Bangkok,” soon to become a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp.)

Most nights I eat at this restaurant:
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I only eat sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice or pork fried rice. Not so much because I particularly like those dishes, but because whenever I look at the menu for something else  I find it printed in Thai with slightly out of focus photos of the dishes, making them all look the same.

After dinner and watching the Thai soaps I go to sleep with my friends Gorilla and Douglas.
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Early on a dark and rainy Wednesday morning I left for Jomtien Beach. I went by van. Vans take about the same time to get there as do taxis but are significantly less expensive. The van driver was interesting. Although it is common for most Thai drivers to insist on using the shoulder for passing, he treated it as the high-speed lane. As a result, we got to our destination quicker than usual, especially when for unknown reasons he skipped the usual pee-pee break at the rest-stop where the vans generally gas up.

The sun was out when we arrived and thankfully the air felt much cleaner than in BKK.

This trip I did not stay at the guest house of the sad-faced lady with the child with the tragic birth defects but at a place with slightly larger rooms for about the same price near by. The street, Soi 2, is quite narrow with 4 to 6 story balconied shop houses lining each side. One can watch the life of the neighborhood going on in the streets below and on the balconies. It reminded me a bit like living in the Bronx.
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In the early morning I watched and listened to the Soi awaken. It is no Catfish Row, but I imagine someone could put it to music: The snap of the cloth as the woman in the apartment across from me hangs out her washing; The high-pitched murmurings of the yings (Thai for young woman) speaking into their mobile phones as they walk to or from work; The scrape and bang of the merchants raising the security barriers as they open their shops; The throaty rumble of the motorbikes; the chopping sound made by the woman with the sidewalk food stand as she prepares the day’s Papaya Pak Pak ( better known as Som Tam). All we now need is a happy-go-lucky beggar cheerfully greeting everyone as he passes by.

Last night, for some reason unknown to me, someone in the Soi below my room set up some amplifying equipment into which two drunken yings screamed off-key songs to no one in particular until two in the morning. Now and then a western tourist would wander by and snap a photograph of the clearly deranged young women.

During the day I walked along the beach about two miles early in the morning, and again at mid-day and once more in the evening. For most of the rest of the day I sat on a rental canvas beach chair under a large blue beach umbrella, watched the vendors pass by, stared at the surf and dozed.
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Some tipsy young men with their Thai women friends sat on the chairs on each side of me. Two Swedes to my left and a Brit to my right. There was a lot of laughing and loud talking. The vendors seemed to congregate around them smiling and joking. I was a bit jealous. “Why” I thought, “couldn’t I be as jovial and sociable?” Eventually the Swede sitting closest to me turned to me and asked “How come these vendors always stop and gather around me yet they pass you right by?

I responded, “Because as soon as they get close enough, I close my eyes and pretend I’m asleep.” The Swede stared at me for a while in silence then exclaimed, “Wow!” A few moments later, thoroughly embarrassed, I got up and left.

Sometimes I forget why people flock to Thailand in such great numbers. After all, its beaches are ok, but there are many other places with better. It’s cities are so polluted they rival Mexico City. Its historical buildings are interesting, but far less grand than those in a lot of countries. Most of the country sits in a sweltering swamp. Their people smile a lot but they are not smiles of kindness or concern. The traffic is as awful as anywhere in the world and corruption and cheating the tourist are endemic. It’s food is good but quality examples of it at a reasonable price can rarely be found anywhere a casual tourist could locate. So what is it that recently reminded me why I and many others come here?

In India, people twist their bodies into unnatural shapes and sit for years on dung heaps until they can ignore their discomfort, call it enlightenment and convince themselves that now they are truly happy. In China and Japan some go up mountains to where the air is thin and the ground is cold and where they sit until they can think of nothing at all and assume they have found contentment. Then they believe they are happy. In the US and many countries of the West as well as other “advanced” countries, people, day and night, engage in the single-minded pursuit of stealing wealth from others so that their stoned children can ride around a lake in a yacht and they can imagine they have accomplished something and then they can declare themselves really happy.

But here in Thailand there is a temple called Wat Po on the grounds of the royal palace where there, and in similar temples throughout the country, Thais from all over the nation gather to learn the traditional Thai art of rubbing another persons body until that person experiences a sense of something approaching bliss.

Imagine, if you will, in Saint Peter’s Basilica somewhere huddled among Bernini’s’ columns there is a similar school where cowled nuns and tonsured monks upon completing their course of study then go out into the world to, at an affordable price, apply their hands to the bodies of others, both men and women, so that they can know the experience of true orgasms and be happy.

That is why, over the years, people came to Thailand and why even now in some of the country’s most expensive accommodations on some of the most exclusive beaches many people can still find happiness.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: “You gotta convince me that you know what this is all about, that you aren’t just fiddling around hoping it’ll all… come out right in the end!”
Chapter 23

Joe arrived to drive us to the wake. He still wore the same black windbreaker but had changed his white T-shirt for the black Iron Maiden one that I had seen him wearing when we first met. He had also changed his black jeans for creased pants of the same color.

Joe and Mavis got into the front and I sat alone in the back. They immediately started talking in that black, stoner, California patois, adding a few mexican words to spice it up and mixing in a liberal use of the universal modifier “Fuck” in all its varieties. It annoyed me greatly because I could not understand anything they were talking about, although, at the time, I convinced myself my annoyance was based instead upon my objection to their juvenile misuse of the english language.

I decided to sit there and pout and fume. Finding that unsatisfying and unable to hold my attention for more than a few minutes, I turned to trying to understand what I intended to accomplish at the wake and more importantly why I was even bothering to try to do anything at all. Failure certainly remained a viable option. What if I don’t find out what happened to Holland or the shipment or even how Reilly was killed? I mean, really, were either the Tons of Fun or Martin Vihn going to do something to me if in the end I tell them I don’t know what happened? At worst they would just beat the shit out of me for spite. Even that was unlikely. So, what was I doing here? Looking good for the clients? I’ve got their money. I don’t need their respect, not that I expect to ever get it.

Why was what happened to two containers of furniture so important to Martin Vihn? They certainly could not be worth much. Why was finding Holland so important to Mavis and the Fabulous Fat Boys and not Martin? Who hired the Corpulent Cronies? Do I care? My professional ethics requires me to go through the steps, not necessarily come up with anything. Do I care about professional ethics? I don’t think so.

By this time we had passed through the City and approached the Golden Gate Bridge and, as is often the case when one does and the sun is shinning, all thoughts slide from ones consciousness replaced by infatuation with the panorama of the red-orange bridge, the water below, the boats on the bay, the cliffs and the mountains. To my right the City, its towers gleaming in the sun, always made me think of it as a mystical mythical place. Few cities rise up directly from the water so they can be seen whole from a distance. Hong Kong, but it is just an endless wall of towers, gaudy but not mystical. Lower Manhattan always appears too determined to be mythical. San Francisco is not a real City, it is too happy. It’s citizens care little about what goes on beyond its borders. Perhaps the smoke from the billion or so joints smoked here since the sixties has by now bonded with the ever-present fog leaving the place forever enshrouded in cannabis enhanced bliss.

By the time I had mused through my meditations about the City we were approaching the Rainbow tunnel which always signaled to me we were leaving one reality for another. I read somewhere that Marin County had more psychiatrists per capita than anyplace else in the whole world. I had always assumed that was because its residents believed that how they felt about themselves meant something to someone other than themselves.

As we passed through the tunnel I dutifully held my breath and placed my finger against the roof of the car as I had been taught and as I taught my children. Why we did it or where it began, who knows. It’s one of those things like certain rhymes one picks up in childhood that seems to come along with the dirt and air of the place where you grew up and eventually seeps into your genes.

Mavis and Joe Vu had stopped talking, put in their ear plugs connected to their respective smart phones and stared out at the road in front of them listening to their generation’s music. Again I felt excluded. I did not understand the music either.

Once we got to the other side, I picked back up on my meditation of the disappearing furniture mystery and my role in it to no greater effect on my understanding than before. Finally we turned off the freeway and drove into a wooded neighborhood nestled in one of the nooks and crannies of the Marin County hills somewhere on the outskirts of Mill Valley.

It was one of the older neighborhoods, originally redwood shacks used as vacation cottages by San Franciscans before the bridge was built when it was still a serious trip to get here. Over the years, others of the upwardly mobile class who now lived in them and commuted over the bridge to work in the City took them over. These new residents expanded the shacks to house their hopefully perfect nuclear families, sparing no expense to maintain the ambience of the neighborhood so that now instead of appearing like a normal subdivision it resembles nothing so much as abandoned piles of redwood blow downs among the trees still standing after the storm.

We turned from the main road on to the typically narrow unmaintained washboard roads of the subdivision. The cars of the mourners were parked all along the road and beyond leaving little space for another car to pass. We threaded our way so far into the bowels of the subdivision to find a place to park that I thought we would never find our way out again. We got out of the car. The area around us looked like an abandoned lumber yard. We wound our way along the rutted road back towards Reilly’s house. Joe, a founding member of the Junior Viet Cong of America led the way with the same aplomb as his ancestors creeping through the jungles of South East Asia. As we came around the last turn, along a pile of well weathered sticks that was the fence that hid Reilly’s property from view, we saw a large black classic Lincoln parked along the side of the lane directly in front of the gate to Reilly’s domain. Leaning against the automobile and staring off into the trees like a committed birdwatcher was our old friend Fat Franny II, the one named Bart.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 Jo-Jo’s book report:

Finished reading Nesbro’s “The Leopard.” It takes place sometime after the events in “The Snowman,” (soon to be a major motion picture guaranteed to be nothing like the book and starring someone who won’t look at all like detective Hole; probably a cute bankable male movie-star about a foot shorter than the book’s main character and 100 times better looking).

As I guessed from the hints in the previous novels and from what I know of Nesbro’s frequent trips to BKK, the story begins in the Far-East with Harry Hole holed up in Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road. The place is the successor to the walled City of Kowloon’s function as the center of the city’s petite underworld. I know about it because I recall one of my Hong Kong clients, as we passed it on the street one day, pointing up to it with pride as one of his family’s premier development projects and source of much of the family’s wealth.

My emotional connection with Hole increased with Nesbro’s description of him living alone in exile in a small dingy room drunk, stoned and broke. I of course, don’t drink much nor do drugs anymore, primarily because I cannot afford it but also because of my addiction fears. So, I exercise my obsessions by reading six hours or so a day lying on the bed in my darkened room – It is pretty much the same thing as being stoned but not nearly as pleasant.

Anyway, Harry returns to Norway in order to solve a series murders, which he does six or eight times. Each time he is ultimately proven to be wrong causing unbelievable pain and suffering to all around him. Finally, by foolishly stumbling into killing a few innocent people to save the woman he is sleeping with but who is not the woman he really loves, the whole thing ends with a bang so to speak.

One thing I do not like about the books is that in the few occasions when Harry does have sex (He, however, seems to have more as the series of novels progress. I expect the final novel will be indistinguishable from ordinary porn), it is always perfect with both parties deliriously in sync and cumming at the same time. Now, I don’t know what universe Nesbro lives in, but sex can be spectacular or it can be unsatisfying, but it is never perfect; one party always has to wait for the other or ends up lying in the wet spot.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but 23% of the world’s prison population. Of the 15 States with the largest percentage of their citizens incarcerated 13 of them are from the old South. Louisiana imprisons its citizens at over twice the rate of any other state in the union. The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the hight of apartheid.

What this means is that for the last 250 years the American South has been, for millions of people, one of the most oppressive places on earth. We should not forget that if you were a white German Protestant, Germany was a pretty cool place for you to live in the 1930s. You would have thought that you enjoyed all the fruits of liberty, freedom and economic health and that those imprisoned were criminals, foreigners or threats to your security.

It also should be noted that the Civil War was about the politics of power as well as slavery. Under the Constitution at that time it was permissible to count slaves as citizens for purposes of determining the number of members to the House of Representatives allocated primarily to the South while at the same time not allowing those same “pseudo-citizens” the right to vote on who those Representatives would be.

The various political controversies over who can vote at the polls that we are experiencing today carries on this dispute. Republicans, especially in the South want the ability to restrict which citizens can vote, but continue to insist the allocation of the number of their Representatives in Congress be based on including those whom they do not allow to vote.

To be fair and balanced, I should mention that, on the other hand, Democrats would like to enable everyone to vote and be counted, even foreign international travelers as they change planes in an American airport on their way to their destination in another country.

TODAY’S QUOTE:
“I have problems with a religion that says faith in itself is enough for a ticket to heaven. In other words, that the ideal is your ability to manipulate your own common sense to accept something your intellect rejects. It’s the same model of intellectual submission that dictatorships have used throughout time, the concept of a higher reasoning without any obligation to discharge the burden of proof.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer.

“There was only one thing emptier than having lived without love, and that was having lived without pain.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
kpt5hja

Each separate color shows an area with approximately the same population as California. The smallest of which elects about 6 US Senators and the largest almost 30. California is allowed only 2. The top ten states have over 50% of the nation’s population, but only 20% of the votes in the Senate. California with over 10% of the population has 2% of the votes. The 10 States with the smallest populations have less than 2% of the nations people but controls 20% of the Senate.

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Joe 0002

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I recently discovered a fascinating place in BKK called Muang Boran or, Ancient Thailand. I visited it with Nikki, Harley H Hayden and LM. It bills itself as the largest museum in the world. It is over twice as large as Disneyland.

Almost 40 years ago its founder, using ancient texts and drawings, began reconstructing on the site some of Thailand’s destroyed or demolished historical monuments. For example, he rebuilt at Muang Boran the royal palace at Ayutthaya razed by the Burmese in the 18th Century when they burned that city to the ground. Although many of the reconstructions are about one half the size of the originals, others like the Royal Palace (pictured below) are full-sized reproductions. In addition many archeological treasures have been excavated and reassembled at the site. Also, the park boasts a number of magnificent new full sized buildings (e.g. The Temple of Enlightenment below) as well as massive sculptures portraying historical and mythological themes.
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The Royal Palace

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Temple of Enlightenment

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The Center of the Universe

Several traditional towns have also been constructed and an entire fleet of royal barges lie at anchor along one of the canals. They even built one of the largest mountains in central Thailand on which they assembled a temple complex .
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The Temple on the Mountain

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The village on the river

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Rampant Nagas

Pookie says, “check it out.”

**********

For the last few days LM has dined almost exclusively on an assortment of bugs. Yesterday it was fried flying ants and today two-inch large water bugs wrapped in leaves. She sits watching her favorite soap operas plucking the fried bugs from a plastic bag, wrapping them in leaves and devouring them like popcorn. She tries to get me to join her. I did try the flying ants. They tasted like those little bits and shavings of popcorn you scrape up at the bottom of the bag you buy at the movies. I have nothing against eating insects and other arthropods having a long standing affection for escargot and I firmly believe that they represent a significant future caloric and nutritional source of food for the world’s growing population. Nevertheless, I am too old to overcome a lifetime of culinary socialization to try new things to eat now.

**********

It looks like I will be returning to the US sometime in early August. As usual when SWAC and Nikki get together travel arrangements tend to change at a rapid rate. My return by way of Italy and the East Coast got so far as to have reservations made shortly before they were cancelled. We also had planned a trip to Chiang Mai before departure in order for Harley H Hayden to spend a few days with his best and oldest friend Leo who lives there. Plans changed twice, once moments prior to leaving for the airport. The trip was cancelled much to the grave disappointment and annoyance of HHH and Leo, both of whom, for good reason, accused the adults involved of manipulating the result.

**********

The banks always win, part 2.

I few post ago I wrote that in response to the soaring dollar Thai banks have chosen to make up their arbitrage losses through changes in their ATM withdrawal fees. For a few years someone with an American Debit of Credit card could withdraw up to almost $700 with payment of a $5 fee. Immediately after the sudden collapse of the Thai baht following the US Fed announcing the possible end to quantitative easing, Thai banks limited the amount one could withdraw to about $350US and some banks raised their fees for such withdrawal to $6 making the cost for withdrawing $700 now $12. Well, due to I guess competitive pressure, the banks reduced their fee back to $5 per withdrawal, but, alas, agreed to limit the amount that can be withdrawn to about $175. Thus the fees to withdraw $700 has progressed from $5, to $12, to $20; a 400% increase in a month.

**********

HHH, Nikki and SWAC have left BKK and are now in Italy. Although I miss HHH, I feel immense relief at the lifting of the waves of anxiety that have affected me since I arrived back in Thailand.

**********

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Jo-Jo’s book report:

I just finished Nesbro’s “The Redeemer.” It deals with events that take place before those in “The Snowman,” the previous book of his that I read. It features, as do all the novels in this series, the screwed up alcoholic Norwegian police detective, Harry Hole (pronounced Ho – Lay). I identify with Harry because he is fucked-up, capable of turning every success into life-altering self destruction, and a confirmed obsessive-depressive who cannot maintain a relationship. He also has undertaken the hopeless task of raising someone else’s son and massively failing at it.

In this novel Nesbro does an interesting thing. He uses changes in points of view to provide the “red herrings” and diversions that appear in most modern mystery novels. In effect he relies on the readers tendency to assume that where there is no obvious indication that there has been a change in the point of view within scene, they are are experienced by a single actor.

We learn in the novel is that the Salvation Army, those uniformed, buttoned up, music playing, individuals who come out at Christmastime and stand beside a hanging iron stew pot ringing a bell, are in reality at times sex-crazed perverts and serial killers. They also hold summer camps where the adolescent future officers in the Army gleefully rape one another in preparation for the inevitable competition they will experience in their efforts to gain power within the organization.

Now, I was sent to summer camp for several years during my early adolescence and the most sex I ever experienced was a brief kiss (my first) with a blond haired girl from the girls’ camp on our the way back from watching the lights of the Village of Ossining dim as the town’s electricity was briefly diverted to Sing Sing prison’s electric chair during that evening’s execution. The only other sex I recall was standing around the campfire with the other boys jerking off into the fire. I assume they did not do this at the Salvation Army camp (or Christian camps in general) because of the number of potential Christian souls that would have gone up in smoke. That always struck me as highly inefficient. If all we do is wade through life so that God and Satan can divvy up the souls at the end with more than half those souls thrown into the fire anyway, why waste the time and effort, especially if it is all predestined? I guess you can say we wee lads at my camp were up to God’s work around those campfires.

Perhaps the primary difference between the camp in the book and my own summer camp experiences was that the former was a Christian religious camp directed to saving the souls of the committed while mine was directed to saving the disadvantage from something even less comprehensible. For example, my camp contained young people dragged out of the slums and ghettoes in the area in the belief that exiling us for two weeks in a somewhat remote sylvan setting would save us from a life of crime, alcoholism and self-abuse. Actually, none of us really understood the forest setting business since we were housed in army tents set up on dirt clearings and never ventured into the surrounding woods for fear of poisonous snakes, giant flesh eating raccoons and The Croton Creeper who our camp counselors assured us at night crept through the forests by the camp looking for little boys to devour.

I do not recall any rapes or violence like those that occurred at the Salvation Army camp in Nesbro’s book. Unless of course, one considers the violence dished out by one counselor or another who every now and then for some reason no one could understand would become overcome with rage and beat the shit out of some luckless camper. One of the first things we learned upon arriving at camp was who were the counselors most likely to exhibit this brand of craziness and how best to avoid them. If one could not avoid them, then it was best to scrupulously follow what ever direction they gave you, even if it ment jumping off the bridge into the stream were the Creeper lived. This reign of terror we later learned supposedly taught us discipline.

There were several classes of boys at the camps. There were those I called the heroes. They were usually larger more athletic boys so comfortable with their own vanity that they rarely troubled anyone. They were immune from threat by the bullies. The counselors liked them also.

There were of course the bullies who preyed on most of the rest of us. It would not be summer camp if there were not a lot of them around.

Among the rest of us, the real or potential victims of the bullies, there were those boys who were socially mature and aware enough to be able to divert the bullies attentions on to others not so accomplished. Later, I learned that this group usually became those who later in life were considered by many to be successful.

Obviously there was also the prey themselves. These were the repeated victims of the bullies. Without them no summer camp would be complete because then there would be no bullies. The prey were usually small or fat and cried a lot and sometimes wet the bed giving the bullies one more reason to humiliate them. They often became scientists or suicides when they grew up.

And finally there were those too socially inept to divert the bully’s attention but who out of fear or some other character defect fought back. Individuals in this group were not liked by anyone, had few friends and were considered troublemakers. About the only thing this last group got out of the camping experience was the knowledge that if for some reason they chose to protect a victim from a bully, they were assured neither the victim nor the bully found their interference welcome. Many of this last group eventually became drug addicts, alcoholics and/or manic depressives.

Note: Nesbro mentions BKK several time as the refuge of the parents of two of the protagonists who fled there after abandoning their positions in the Salvation Army. Nesbro is a regular visitor to Thailand and frequents the petite Bloomsbury of ex-pat mystery writers (Steven Leather, Chris Moore, John Burdett, Colin Piperrel and others) who frequently meet in assorted dives off Sukhumvit. I suspect future novels to focus more on Thailand and the Far-East.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing. I have skipped over the California Coastal Commission because I have dealt with it at length in previous issues of T&T (Although never completed).

C. The California State Coastal Conservancy.

1. Genesis

From 1973 through 1975 the California Coastal Commission created by a public initiative to develop a plan to manage development along its coast prepared the California Coastal Plan. I was the Commissions chief legal counsel, and in charge of its interim construction development permit program. In addition, I authored, in whole or in part, several elements of the Coastal Plan, the most pertinent for this article was the Government, Powers and Funding Element. That element developed the proposed governing structure for future protection of the California Coast.

The proposal envisioned a structure composed of three elements; the continuation of the existing regulatory program with substantially increased jurisdiction and with very specific coastal resource protection policies; the passage of a large public bond act in order to purchase lands so significant from an environmental and resource standpoint that even where tightly regulated they still needed to be shielded from normal economic forces, and the creation of a new type of governmental entity to be called the Coastal Conservancy. The plan went to the legislature. Three pieces of legislation were written and passed in 1976, The California Coastal Act, The Parks and Coastal Bond Act and the law that created California Coastal Conservancy.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Norris: Are you attempting to tell me my duties, sir?
Philip Marlowe: No, just having fun trying to guess what they are.

Chapter 22:

Back in the car Joe asked me if private investigators mostly find missing people.

I answered, “A detective of private investigator is hired to do a lot of things, but it is rarely if ever is he hired simply to find a missing person unless he is hired to find a missing heir. Most often he is retained to help a lawyer make a case for his client by finding the facts or documents needed. Sometimes he is hired to conduct background checks on potential employees. Sometimes he provides security. Sort of like you do for Martin. He serves court documents, like summons. It is a lot of fact gathering. Its pretty boring actually. It is a job like most jobs. It’s helps if you know what you are doing. It’s even better if you like what you’re doing. But mostly you’re doing it so you can eat, have a roof over your head or afford what ever turns you on.”

“Sounds pretty cynical boss.”

“Look, poor people have friends and family members who go missing. They do not hire private investigators. It often takes a lot of work and time find someone who does not want to be found. The reason why cops do very little more than take in the information when someone reports a missing person, is that a considerable amount of public funds will be spent on what needs to be done to track someone who probably is just off on a fling somewhere. But you, the detective, have got to eat. So, you charge for your time. Only rich people and corporations can pay you enough to allow you to live while you search. It is not cynicism. It’s reality.”

“So is that why you do not have an office like Al’s; to keep your costs low so poor people can afford you, sort of like if Mother Theresa was a cop?”

“No, it’s because I am not very good at it.”

“Sorry boss, I can’t buy that. Fucked up you may be, but I think you probably are pretty good at what you do, if and when you do it.”

“I’m not some athlete or rock star. I don’t need a cheerleader.”

“Ok, What about that cop Mai. She’s pretty hot? Thought I caught something between you two. You doing her?”

“That does not deserve an answer. So what do you think happened to Reilly?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re the great Viet Cong forward observer and fledging detective, what’s your guess?”

“I thought detectives don’t guess?”

“We’ll make an exception today.”

He thought for a few moments, then said, “We don’t know shit boss. We can’t even guess what if anything has happened with or to anyone. We cannot guess if Holland is really missing or even if the furniture is. The only thing we know is that Reilly is dead. And even there we do not know for sure how he died.”

“I agree.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We watch to see when they break for lunch. And, that we will begin at the wake this evening.”

I had him take me back to my loft, told him to dress in something suitable and pick me up later in the afternoon. I decided to begin my watching by calling Mavis and asking her to pick up lunch on the way over. She arrived with some pizza, coke and dope. She wore her formal black leathers that she assured me was suitable for a wake. After lunch, I watched her very closely until Joe Vu returned. During that time I did not observe anything suspicious except for a couple of times I don’t feel like mentioning.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“This ground has been trodden over a million times…. The standard argument that the market forces you to pay people what they are worth to your company is simply wrong. A very good developer can be worth millions of dollars a year to a software company. But she can’t command that much in salary because there are plenty of almost-just-as-good developers (and probably some just-as-good developers) who will work for, say, $150,000 per year. When you buy anything, you compare its value to that of the next best available alternative. Or, at least, that’s what you’re supposed to do…. Now, you might think that only one person in the whole world—let’s call him Ron Johnson—can increase the value of your company by $100 million, and no one else can come close. But unless Ron already has some deep connection to your company (e.g., Steve Jobs returning to Apple—and even in that case, his success was hard to foresee), you are almost certainly wrong. The marginal impact of a CEO is extremely hard to estimate in advance, and any expected value you come up with will be swamped by the standard deviation. The only honest answer is to say that there are a bunch of people who could probably help your company a lot, and that implies that you should hire the one who will do the job for the least money.”
James Kwak: CEO Salary Justification Season Is Open:

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), right-wing terrorists perpetrated 145 “ideologically motivated homicide incidents” between 1990 and 2010. In that same period, notes START, “al Qaeda affiliates, al Qaeda-inspired extremists, and secular Arab Nationalists committed 27 homicide incidents in the United States involving 16 perpetrators or groups of perpetrators.”

Last November, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center published a report on America’s violent far-right extremists. Its numbers were even more startling than START’s. “The consolidated dataset,” writes report author Arie Perliger, “includes information on 4,420 violent incidents that occurred between 1990 and 2012 within U.S. borders, and which caused 670 fatalities and injured 3,053 people.” Perliger also found that the number of far-right attacks had jumped 400% in the first 11 years of the 21st century.”
TomDispatch.com

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Bruh! Del the dunker homosapien was just fuckin around on a skateboard right next to me, and I was like, another black skater HOLY SHIT ITs Del!!”
Olivier Tomas Grandvoinet

“Killing man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.”
Howey, Hugh (2012-01-25). Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (p. 295). Broad Reach Publishing.

TODAY’S CHART:
america-is-really-big-were-so-big-that-our-states-are-bigger-than-many-countries-check-out-this-map-showing-states-that-are-the-size-of-whole-nations

This map shows the relative sizes of several countries compared to US states. Bangladesh which is about the same size of Illinois has over 150 million people while the State of Illinois has only about 13 million. Bangladesh, Japan and the Philippines together contain more people than live the entire US. The total population of the countries listed exceeds 1 billion.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Food Stands near Nana Plaza

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Shadow 0002

Happy Aphelion Day.

On June 5 ( 15 Shadow) the earth was at its aphelion its farthest point from the sun. I hope you celebrated it wisely.

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Went today to see the opening of the new movie, The Lone Ranger. It struck me as I left the theater that the arc of the great golden age of American civilization can be described as extending from Jay Silverheels to Jonny Depp.

Some critics have called the movie odd. Edward Scissorhands was odd. Alice in Wonderland was odd. Dark Shadows was odd. In fact anything with Depp in white face by definition is odd. What Depp does do here is give a master’s class in overacting that would make Stanislavski cringe in his coffin. If there were an Academy Award for vamping your audience this movie would qualify Depp for a lifetime achievement award. The final 30 minutes or so is one of the finest examples of destroy the scenery and smash the sets mayhem (with humor) one can hope to see in a movie. We will not be seeing its like again soon. And of course, with The William Tell Overture blaring in the background, the image of the white hatted masked man atop the white horse rampant will always stir the heart of 70-year-old little boys.

Note: The reviews are as odd as the film. One referred to the beauty of the images of the West Texas desert. West Texas could only hope its desert looked like that. Actually the deserts photographed are from Arizona and new Mexico primarily. Another review referred to the film as a remake of the 1930’s television program. I assume the reviewer is from generation X or whatever other generation that believes that television was always with us and that Julius Caesar had just caught his favorite reality show before stepping into that ill-fated Senate toilet.

Some reviewers complain that the movie is not a well assembled narrative. What have they been drinking? One goes to this movie to see Jonny Depp in white face as Tonto with a dead crow on his head. Everything else is gravy. Do they really think that people go to see Pirates of the Caribbean because it is the second coming of Captain Blood? No, they go to see Depp, Rush, Bloom and Knightley dress up like pirates, run around like crazy and say things like Arrragh. Narrative is so last century.

Finally, one review described it as failed irony. It’s not irony fathead, it’s slapstick. Slapstick is irony with roid rage.

Since I wrote the above I came across another review. This one criticized the film for its lack of a coherent message. Now, I do not know about the coherence thing, but if anything the movie has too many messages. For example: We learn that bankers and board members of railroad corporations are evil criminals and have much more hair on their face than anyone else in the movie; that heroes die and have their hearts devoured by bad guys with hair lips. We learn that bad guys who are not bankers or members of the RR board or directors are really skinny and ugly and stare a lot and although they do not shave they have less hair on their faces; that Chinese laborers working on the RR right of way were treated abysmally and apparently it was appropriate to assure labor peace by shooting dead any Chinaman who comments on working conditions; that drunken white horses can climb trees; that US cavalry captains with curly blond hair sell out indians for money; that wise old indian chiefs speak perfect idiomatic english and you wished they were your uncle rather than the drunk who shows up at your house on holidays; that the RR not only destroyed the environment but also stole the land from the indians even though it was hard to tell where the RR was going since the rails were either buried in the sand or ran straight into a mountain; that the indians had had it with the RR stealing their land and the silver that they did not know was there, so they wiped themselves out by committing mass suicide charging a train full of soldiers with hidden machine guns; that women only dressed in gingham and whenever anything interesting happened hugged their young sons, unless they were one-legged prostitutes in red dresses who were fitted with a carved Ivory prosthesis containing a shotgun inside; that no one respected white-faced Tonto even other indians; that kids will sell out their tribe for a shiny watch then become obsessed with a crow that was mysteriously killed; that a man in a white hat actually can ride a white horse down the center aisle of a train in order to save the gingham dressed woman; and that old people lie to kids about their own youth, and much much more…

Finally, did you know that Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on television, after the show went off the air always wore the costume, guns, mask and all whenever he appeared in public?

**********

LM mentioned that my preoccupation when working on my computer borders on obsession resulting in alienation with Hayden because of my sharp-tongued responses when he interrupts me. Earlier in the day I got angry with him when he told me that he would prefer going to Safari World with the nanny rather than coming with me to the movies.

As for my addiction to the computer, I think I have to refrain from using it when others are present. As to the Safari World v movie irritation, I probably am just losing it and am ready to return to the US.
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Multi-tasking
**********

At the urgings of the Honorable Jerry (with a J. Not the equally honorable Gerry with a G) I decided to strike up a conversation with the lonely man at the pool. At the end of each lap he stands for a while at the shallow end of the pool and stares or meditates on the high-rises in the distance. So I decided to wade over to stand in front of him, make eye contact and say something clever like “It’s a nice day, don’t you think?” Alas, no matter how long I stood there he did not look at me or acknowledge my presence but instead continued to contemplate the buildings.
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The lonely man meditating

The hotel in which the Health club and pool are located is frequented primarily by muslim and hindu visitors from South Asia, and Arabs from the Arabian peninsula. The women from the sub-continent even the muslims wear brightly colored clothing not the black burkas worn by Arab women. Interestingly, when they get to the pool many of them jump in fully clothed, their various scarves floating about them like multi-colored lily pads. This drives the Thai pool attendant nuts, since the hotel rules state specifically that bathing suits are to be worn in the pools.

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A young mother at the pool

The Indians, both muslim and Hindu usually are accompanied by their extended families and both men and women appear to be far more attentive to their children then westerners.

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Family vacation

**********

The good/bad David arrived in BKK. We had lunch where I learned he had been especially bad with a tattooed lady and others. Later the tattooed lady in question joined us. She showed me a photograph of a woman with reticulated python tattooed on her buttocks and asked me my opinion on whether she should get a similar one tattooed on hers. I told her that it seemed like a good idea to me.

**********

The next day Good/Bad David and I had lunch together where, alas, we drank too much wine which we continued at a bar on Soi 11 called Mulligan’s or something like that. We ended the evening at AVA’s where I watched David and Hayden play a cutthroat game of pool and where I ended the night sitting opposite the Tattooed lady, an experienced member of the world’s oldest profession and an attractive dermatologist. Before I could figure out the punch line, I was hustled into a taxi and sent home to sleep it off.

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The Good/Bad David with one of the threesome who sat at the table with me.

The Good/Bad David is off to Kenya on Friday to search the snake infested veld for evidence of petroleum reserves. I will miss him.

**********

Nikki arrived today. While not many could replace the good/bad David, Nikki made a solid try at it his first day in BKK.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

7. Departure.

Having accomplished what I had set out to do which was to get the program successfully under weigh, I began to feel it was time to leave MHIS. The idea of spending the rest of my professional life processing requests for hearings began to frighten me. A few months before taking the job I had spent three days taking a battery of tests at NYU in an effort to determine my career aptitude. The tests clearly showed that although I had graduated from law school and passed the bar, a career in law was not the best choice for me. Alas what it did demonstrate was that I was most suited for a career as an orchestra conductor.

It also revealed that I had no aptitude for any sort of repetitive endeavor. So strong was my antipathy normal routine activity that the psychologists administering the tests recommended I seek professional help.

So it was, that the moment I realized that I was no longer creating something but administering it, I began to go crazy. I did not realize it at the time but this was the major behavioral determinant of my life.

Although I left the MHIS many of the people I met while I worked there fifty years later still remain among the most vivid in my memory of all those I have met over the ensuing years. There was:

The Chief psychiatrist at Jacobi Hospital, a man who wore a cape that would swirl behind him whenever he entered a room. He lived in a large six-story brownstone on the upper west side of Manhattan before it gentrified. He owned the entire building. One floor he converted into an indoor basket ball court for his kids. On another floor in a large room located between the elevator and the reception rooms where he held his cocktail parties and dinners, he had installed his huge collection of African tribal art every single one of which featured a prominent engorged penis. His specialty was domestic relations. He invited me to join him behind the one way glass observing marital dispute resolution sessions. He opined once that all relationships are inevitably based upon dominance-dependency interaction.

The hospital administrator, a tiny woman, no more than 4′ 7″ tall who ran the operation without ever resorting the usual demonstrations of power. She was the kindest and most effective administrator I have ever met.

There were also the patients on the wards:

The pre adolescent serial killer, an 11-year-old boy who would by one ingenious method or another periodically escape the wards and then call the head of the psychiatric department of the medical school to taunt him about his escape. The boy had a magnetism about him that forced all who came in contact with him to love him and want to assist him. It was as though something had screwed up the brain’s wiring and created something that did not otherwise exist on earth. He died before his 14th birthday of a neurological disease that had been undetected. To this day I sometime wonder if there was not something more I could have done to help him.

The axe murderer, a short muscular man whose eyes blazed with fury. Whatever it was he saw in his mind, he wanted to fight it until he destroyed it.

The teen-aged boy in homosexual panic who at times would crawl into the bed of the catatonic woman and be found there the next morning clutching on to her in desperation.

And too many more to describe here.

And there were the ward attendants mostly black and inevitably gentle but firm with the patients. Among the attendants I especially remember the beautiful young woman who taught me that love could be a thing of joy. Something I had never experienced before and never would again.

I decided to leave to take a job as a trial lawyer. I always dreamed of becoming a great trial lawyer winning cases for the downtrodden, living hard and dying young. I wanted to be the best trial lawyer in the City. And I was for a while, racking up consecutive victories in jury trials that ranked with the best the City had produced until then. But I accomplished it at the cost of the destruction of my marriage, the death of my child, and watching my son, one of the happiest children I had ever known, age to become a thoroughly unhappy adult who despises me.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Convenient, the door being open when you didn’t have a key, eh?
Philip Marlowe: Yeah, wasn’t it. By the way, how’d you happen to have one?
Eddie Mars: Is that any of your business?
Philip Marlowe: I could make it my business.
Eddie Mars: I could make your business mine.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, you wouldn’t like it. The pay’s too small.

Chapter 21

Al Pischotti’s office was located on the Van Ness side of the Tenderloin, in an area that for years had been threatened with a rising tide of gentrification only to see it recede time and again. The building was almost one hundred years old and had experienced constant makeovers leaving it a hodgepodge history of cheap construction. The office on the top floor of the six-story building took up most of the floor. A single sided hallway ran around a small courtyard giving it a light cheery feeling even on cloudy days. In addition to Pischotti Investigations, a small one person law office and cruise ship discount travel agency shared the floor. The offices all had doors exiting onto the hallway as well as railroad car style between the offices of each business.

Al’s reception, as always, was manned by Al’s wife, Margo, a woman every bit as large in life and in physical presence as Al himself. She pretty much ran things while Al happily served as front man.

“Hiya Dragon,” Margo shouted out when we entered. “Where’ve ya been? Haven’t seen ya around in a while. Al’s got some people with him he’ll be through in a minute or so. He’ll be glad to see ya.”

She managed to get all this out without taking a breath. “Who’s this? she added upon noticing Joe.

“Good to see you too Margo,” I replied. “This is my new intern Joe Vu. I’ll only take a minute of Al’s time.”

“Take as long as you need. You planning to go big time, with an intern and all? Nice to meet ya Joe.”

Joe nodded seeming a little awed by Margo’s overwhelming presence.

“Have a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.” She said, turned to attend to the phone to inform Al, then seamlessly moved to shouting into the phone haranguing someone about an unpaid bill.

I sat. Joe continued standing taking in the photographs and certificates that took up every inch of space not covered by furniture or windows. The photo’s were mostly of Al with local political and business leaders. He was active in civic affairs and served on boards and commissions for a string of Mayors.

“Hey,” Joe shouted out. “He’s on the Parks Commission, can he get tickets for games?”

“Not just tickets kid. If ya play your cards right you can sit in the Commission’s private box,” Margo said somehow aware of him while also continuing her heated telephone conversation.

At that moment the door to Al’s office opened and two people exited with him. “Hey, Dragon,” he said when he saw me. “You know Mai and Saski.”

Mai Chang and Andy Saski are two homicide detectives with the City. Mai and I had a brief affair when she and Andy worked on the murder of one of my law firm partners a few years ago. Both the affair and the murder indirectly led to my ultimate departure from the firm.

There were a lot of “hi ya’s,” how’s it going’s” and “good to see you’s” to last a week or two. I introduced Joe to the cops as someone working with me on an assignment. There were then some “give us a call’s,” and “see ya around’s,” The detectives left and we joined Al in his office.

Al moved through the room like a container ship at full throttle and gracefully circled his desk. He had a small badge given to retired city police clipped to his belt. Also affixed to his belt was a tiny gun encased in a leather holster. He sat down at his large and exceptionally messy desk. He was a big man a little over six feet tall and shaped like a triangle with its base located around his upper thighs. He looked like one of those pear-shaped Disney cartoon characters who despite their bulk have the grace of a ballerina. He was one of the nicest people I knew.

“Mia and Saski and I are working a couple of things together.” he said. Al still sometimes worked with the cops on contract. At other times he voluntarily assisted them on politically delicate matters.

“They said that Reilly’s autopsy revealed nothing that would suggest he was murdered,” he added. “So you’re helping this guy out? He needs all the help he can get.” he continued genially looking towards Joe.

“He’s my intern. His name is Joe Vu.”

“I’m pleased to meet you Joe,” Al said. “Intern eh? So you want to become a private investigator?”

“My uncle want’s me to,” Joe replied.

“His uncle is a business man from San José who sometimes strays into shady but lucrative endeavors,” I added.

“Don’t we all?” said Al. “I guess Dragon here has begun teaching you about tracing missing persons; Social Security Traces, Voter Registration search, Uniform Commercial Codes, National Identifier, Forwarding Addresses, Driver Licenses, Criss-cross Directories and all the other things one can use on your computer?”

“Nah, he has me drive him around, watch old movies and listen to him talk crazy.”

Al laughed a hearty laugh. I just stared at Vu in annoyance.

“Well at least you’re observant. Observation is important. Do you think you are a good observer? ”

“Well, I donno. My Grandfather…”

“His grandfather was a Viet Cong general,” I added trying to be helpful.

“My grandfather told me that it was by watching we were able to beat you guys. For example, American soldiers always stopped to eat; like the war was on hold while they had lunch. So they waited until the Americans stopped to eat and did whatever were needed to do then, like get in place for an ambush. Also they saw that you guys liked to travel the easy way along roads or in straight lines. Not like us crawling here and there through the jungle. So whenever we saw you stop to eat we could pretty much know where you would be, say in and hour or two. We’d wait there. Also, my grandfather said you guys would call in the helicopters as soon as the shooting started. But they knew where they were coming from and so they could position some others to wait where they knew you would fly over and shoot at you as you passed. You believed if you killed enough of us we would give up. But you did not realize that even if only one of us remained we still had learned enough about you to set an ambush and get away. Yeah I think I know something about watching. For example I know by watching that Boss here hopes this whole thing we’re doing for my uncle would go away and he can get back to blowing some dope and screwing his girlfriend. And so do I.”

Both Al and I were silent for a moment, then Al let out a booming laugh. “I’ll tell you what,” he said between chuckles. “I could always use a trained watcher. Call me whenever you would like some work.” He then turned to me and said, “I like this kid.” I, not so much.

“You seem like a bright kid. Why aren’t you in college?” Al inquired.

“As my uncle said, ‘this is America’ if you got enough money nothing else counts.”

“So, why does he have you working for Dragon here?”

“I guess it’s because he wants me to keep an eye on him,” he shrugged.

After a little more back and forth with Joe and a few jokes and comments at my expense, I mentioned to Al l that I would probably see him at the wake. Besides paying my respects to the widow, I wanted look around the property and talk to the mourners to see if I could get a line of the missing property. He did not think I would come up with anything. I agreed. I held little hope that I would find anything but felt I had to go through the motions.

I then asked Al for a contact at the Port who I could speak with who would help me try to trace the containers. With that name in hand, we left.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

“It was crime at the time, but the laws, we changed them: “Kevin Drum’s nickel summary works for me, comparing and contrasting the new decision, in Shelby County v. Holder with Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (PDF). ‘So here’s your nickel summary. If a law is passed on a party-line vote, has no justification in the historical record, and is highly likely to harm black voting, that’s OK as long as the legislature in question can whomp up some kind of neutral-sounding justification. Judicial restraint is the order of the day. But if a law is passed by unanimous vote, is based on a power given to Congress with no strings attached, and is likely to protect black voting, that’s prohibited unless the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Congress’s approach is one they approve of. Judicial restraint is out the window. Welcome to the 21st century.'”
John Holbo:Noted for June 27, 2013″ J. Bradford DeLong.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

1. A chicken in every pot and a solar array on every house.

7698_10151362734866275_783892216_n-1

(I do not know is the numbers are correct, but even if they are close to being correct, a program like this could have a similar impact on the US economy as previous major public improvement programs, like the nations RR network, freeway system, port and canal development, rural electrification and disaster related community re-construction and rehabilitation. I believe more of the wealth for which this nation boasts has been released by these public programs than could have been accomplished by private efforts alone. Private enterprise on the other hand has been effective in exploiting these resources, effectively turning the potential wealth released by the public investments into reality. On the other hand, some argue that the corruption [public and private] that accompanied and followed these investments made them not worth it.)
_
2. Everybody works hard. Some, alas, claim what they are paid really rewards their effort.

Bruce Bartlett, a former conservative, notes, ‘Only 61.8 percent of national income went to compensation of employees in 2012, compared with 65.1 percent in 2001.” Middle- and lower-class blue-collar workers are actually creating more, but getting less. While productivity has steadily increased by a total of 85 percent between 1979 and 2012, the inflation adjusted wage of the median worker rose by a paltry 6 percent and the value of the federal minimum wage fell by 21 percent.’

Richard Branson has said, ‘Yes, entrepreneurs may work hard, but I don’t think they actually work any harder than, say, doctors, nurses or other people in society…’
From Brad Delong’s Journal

B. Whispers of Forgotten Ancestors:

“I]mmigration… [in] the early 20th century, when it was overwhelmingly legal, documented, lightly regulated and European…. Millions of newcomers then were readily absorbed… the main objection was… that it was… filling America… with foreigners of unfamiliar tongues and customs… nonetheless… a familiar ring today. Both sides… praised immigration… while disagreeing as to whether newer arrivals were somehow fundamentally less desirable than those of yore….”
Drew Keeling

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Does a pope live in the woods?”
Sarah Palin

“The only trouble with retirement is…I never get a day off!”
Anon.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S CHART:
global-temperatures
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Water study

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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