Monthly Archives: September 2014

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Papa Joe 0002 – October 16 2013

 

Happy Birthday Anthony

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Since Nikki’s departure on Sunday, my days have become so regular and uneventful, I have begun to wonder if what I am experiencing is some form of death. On the other hand, in response to my concern about my increasingly frequent episodes of elation and depression, my doctor has restored my happy pills regime. As a result, I now face each insipid day with a satisfying sense of drooling pleasure.

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

One of my blog posts surprisingly was picked up by Brad DeLong’s Journal. This pleased me because it never happened before and because DeLong’s blog is one of my favorites. Of course, one of the reasons they may have reprinted it may have been because my blog essentially was about how perceptive an economist I believed DeLong to be.

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

Through Brad DeLong’s Journal, I recently have been introduced to a blog written by Ashok Rao that contains some of the most penetrating and insightful analysis of contemporary economic thought I have read in a long time. What is amazing, however, is not the quality of the analysis but that Mr. Rao is only 18 years old and a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes a one to two thousand word article almost every day reviewing the recent publications of some of the most eminent writers in the field. How does he find time to do his school work?

The following is one of his quotes that I liked a lot:

“We today owe our intellectual and humanitarian heritage to Franklin Roosevelt. Not because he vindicated principles of easy money or public finance. Not because he vindicated principles of modern liberalism. But – for the first time in the history of our nation and all nations – he demonstrated that government can exist for the great benefit of the many at the minor cost of the few. For almost a century both political parties have lived by this end, if disagreeing on the means.

There is an ideology that accommodates the worst of efficient markets, supply side economics, and neoliberal economists like Milton Friedman. It is called right-wing hackery, with Niall Ferguson as high priest.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

 

 

ENTER THE DRAGON:

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 30:

Mavis was in her shop when I arrived. She appeared to be cleaning the tattoo ink gun that I always thought resembled an assault weapon.

“OK,” I said. “Let’s try for the truth this time. You spoke with Holland. Were is he?”

She put down the weapon, gazed at the floor and said, “I do not know for sure.”

“But you have a pretty good idea.”

No answer for a few moments then, “Look I did not want anyone to get hurt, I only thought it might be a way to make a little money.”

“Confessions later, where’s Holland?”

“He has a friend who has a farm-house in the hills behind Pescadero. The friend travels a lot and Mark stays there now and then. I went there once. I do not know for sure if he’s there. He didn’t say. I’m just guessing.”

“Did you tell anyone besides Joe Vu about Holland’s call?”

“No..uh yes, I mentioned it to Lilly yesterday at the party..ah…wake.”

“Shit! Does she know about the farm?”

“I don’t know.”

I turned and stared out the shop window at the street and the Lexus in which Joe sat waiting. I tried to think. Did the Tons of Fun or whomever was running them know? They seemed not to. Why would they ask if I found something? Of course if they already found him, maybe they would want to know how close I was. Fuck, what am I doing here spinning out theories? I’m no fucking cop.

I turned back to her. “Let’s go over the story from the beginning.”

She haltingly began by telling how they met one day when he came into her shop for a tattoo. She eventually introduced him to Lilly. Besides buying some cocaine from him when he had some to deal she introduced him to Reilly who needed someone to help him with his remodel and Mark had been a carpenter at one time. Eventually Reilly told Mark about his dream to import furniture from Southeast Asia and sort of become another Ikea. Mark, Mavis and Lilly talked about this and Lilly mentioned Martin Vihn as a client looking for some cash investments. Eventually Mark became the go between with Clarence and Vihn. After about a month and a trip to Southeast Asia where he met with Clarence’s wife’s family things began to move along.

One day Mark came by the shop looking troubled. They went upstairs had a joint and Mark told her that someone wanted him to slip some jewelry into the shipment to be smuggled into the US. He was unsure about the risk but thought the money promised to him was enough to take the risk.

There were a few more trips back and forth to Asia one or two of which he was joined by Lilly. Then one night not long before the things were to be shipped, while they were sitting around stoned and Mavis suggested that maybe we could ship a little heroin also and they could split the sales. He did not say anything about it. The next morning she had second thoughts about it and told him so.

A few days before she hired me, Mark had told her the shipment had arrived but that more people knew about the smuggling than he thought. Mavis asked him who. He refused to answer but said that he thought their piece was secure. She began to scream at him that she had told him she did not want to be a part of it. That’s when he hit her and walked out. She had not heard from him until yesterday morning.

It was hard for me to believe anything she said but at the same time I hadn’t the slightest idea what if anything to disbelieve so I asked, “What did he say on the telephone call.”

“He said he was not far away and was in trouble and could I help him out. When I asked him what sort of trouble, he said that they may kill him. I asked who is trying to kill him, he said it was not something he wanted to tell me. He knew where the stuff was he said, ‘because I put it there.’ He said he needed money and help to get it away. I told him no, that I had hired you to find him and you had gotten hurt and I did not want anyone more to get hurt. Then he asked if you would be able to help him since there was a lot of money involved. I said I did not want you involved and asked him why he wasn’t asking Lilly or the gangster. He got himself in this mess and while I felt bad he had to get himself out of it. He threw a fit and threatened both me and you and hung up.”

“How do I get to the farm-house.”

“Why? Your not getting paid for this. Why put yourself in danger?”

“Well actually I am getting paid to find him but if I tell anyone about this I can’t promise he won’t be hurt.”

“I’m going with you. I know the way but I can’t describe it.”

Against my better judgement, I agreed.

“I have to change first.”

“Shit, Okay, I’m going to stay right here and watch. I don’t want you calling anyone.”

“Don’t you trust me?” she said with a smile.

“Not on my life.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1870 to Present : Worldwide, 1870 saw five ounces of copper mined per person in the world. Today we mine five pounds. Today there are about seven times more people alive than in 1870. That means the total amount of copper mined is about 100 times more than was mined then.

1870 saw one pound of steel produced per person in the world. Today we produce 350.That means today we produce 2450 times more steel.

(I doubt that mathematically this level of growth can continue very far into the future. If not, then what happens?)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

(What this chart really means to me is the regrettable tendency of this nation to enter foolish and unwinnable wars from the War on Drugs to the War in Iraq, that have proven to be a great drain on our treasury and which have impoverished us all. More empires and nations have vanished by engaging in improvident and fruitless wars than from just about any other cause one can think of. In fact, I cannot think of any nation, empire or civilization that has collapsed for being too generous to its ordinary citizens.)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

According to the Harvard Business Review:

“Most of the character traits that are truly advantageous for effective leadership are predominantly found in those who fail to impress others about their talent for management. This is especially true for women. There is now compelling scientific evidence for the notion that women are more likely to adopt more effective leadership strategies than do men. Most notably, in a comprehensive review of studies, Alice Eagly and colleagues showed that female managers are more likely to elicit respect and pride from their followers, communicate their vision effectively, empower and mentor subordinates, and approach problem-solving in a more flexible and creative way (all characteristics of “transformational leadership”), as well as fairly reward direct reports. In contrast, male managers are statistically less likely to bond or connect with their subordinates, and they are relatively more inept at rewarding them for their actual performance. Although these findings may reflect a sampling bias that requires women to be more qualified and competent than men in order to be chosen as leaders, there is no way of really knowing until this bias is eliminated.”

(Harvard Business School seems to have confirmed my assertions in prior posts that perhaps after 10,000 years of male control in society, they should be replaced by female management of our dominant institutions. This does not mean that woman would not screw up as badly as men, only that their screw ups would probably be less catastrophic on species survival than that of men.

After all, bashing someones head in with a club, which seems to be something men do exceedingly well, may have had an important historical role in species survival and prosperity. Today, however, with the extent of the global interaction of humanity’s major institutions and the incredible and potentially devastating power of its technology, bashing someones skull in even with a metaphorical club does not appear to me to be a behavior conducive to either institutional or species success or for that matter survival.)

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

Vasily Grossman in the Ukraine with the advancing Red Army discovers what the Germans did in Kazary:

“There’s no one left in Kazary to complain, no one to tell, no one to cry. Silence and calm hover over the dead bodies buried under the collapsed fireplaces now overgrown by weeds. This quiet is much more frightening than tears and curses.

Old men and women are dead, as well as craftsmen and professional people: tailors, shoemakers, tinsmiths, jewellers, house painters, ironmongers, bookbinders, workers, freight handlers, carpenters, stove-makers, jokers, cabinetmakers, water carriers, millers, bakers, and cooks; also dead are physicians, prothesists, surgeons, gynaecologists, scientists — bacteriologists, biochemists, directors of university clinics — teachers of history, algebra, trigonometry.

Dead are professors, lecturers and doctors of science, engineers and architects. Dead are agronomists, field workers, accountants, clerks, shop assistants, supply agents, secretaries, nightwatchmen, dead are teachers, dead are babushkas who could knit stockings and make tasty buns, cook bouillon and make strudel with apples and nuts, dead are women who had been faithful to their husbands and frivolous women are dead, too, beautiful girls, and learned students and cheerful schoolgirls, dead are ugly and silly girls, women with hunches, dead are singers, dead are blind and deaf mutes, dead are violinists and pianists, dead are two-year—olds and three-year-olds, dead are eighty-year-old men and women with cataracts on hazy eyes, with cold and transparent fingers and hair that rustled quietly like white paper, dead are newly-born babies who had sucked their mothers’ breast greedily until their last-minute.

This was different from the death of people in war, with weapons in their hands, the deaths of people who had left behind their houses, families, fields, songs, traditions and stories. This was the murder of a great and ancient professional experience, passed from one generation to another in thousands of families of craftsmen and members of the intelligentsia.

This was the murder of everyday traditions that grandfathers had passed to their grandchildren, this was the murder of memories, of a mournful song, folk poetry, of life, happy and bitter, this was the destruction of hearths and cemeteries, this was the death of the nation which had been living side by side with Ukrainians over hundreds of years …”
(Taken from Brad Delong’s Journal)

D. Important points noted:

1. Izabella Kaminska: Dark inventory, death of a city edition:

 

“As we’ve argued before, the world is beset by a capital crisis not a debt crisis. There is too much capital and not enough productive use for it — at least not in western markets.”

2. Alvaro Vargas Llosa: Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America:
“The erosion of national boundaries—and even the idea of the nation state—is already underway as people become ever more inter-connected across borders. A jungle of myth, falsehood and misrepresentation dominates the debate over immigration. The reality is that the economic contributions of immigration far outweigh the costs.”

(I have argued these points, for good or ill, for years now.

Capital does not induce demand. In the Real world, only a very few entrepreneurs seek to develop incipient demand where there is money available in the hands of a consumer, most try to capture what is already there by manipulating desires. No-one invests money to encourage demand where the consumer has no funds to buy what is offered for sale.

As for immigration, for many reasons, we are entering a period of perhaps the greatest migrations of humanity in history. While it is true migrants seek greater security, they usually do not seek welfare. In every society welfare pays too little to make the trip worth it even where their lives depend on it. That is why so many of them take jobs no one else wants to do.

I believe one of the main reasons for opposition to immigration is not simple racism, that is just an excuse, but the real fear that immigrants will work harder than natives at jobs they compete for. Recall the largest mass lynching in American History was of a group of Italian immigrants in Louisiana essentially because the immigrant community was willing to work longer and at lower pay than the white natives.)

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
1. Provide for the national defense.
2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1000922_10151550482679071_1194049097_n
(This chart makes it appear as though either we are the most lawless nation on earth or the most oppressive. Actually, we seem to imprison more people for victimless crimes like possession of marijuana than anywhere else. This trend accelerated in the 1990s and early 2000s when we began turning over operation of our prisons to private contractors.)

 

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Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Athena.

 

TODAY FROM AMERiCA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I received a call one night from my brother-in-law George informing me that my 95-year-old mom had been rushed to the hospital. The following morning I travelled to SF to see her. By then, my mom had been diagnosed with a urinary infection, shot up with antibiotics and returned to the nursing home. George and I visited her there. At first she was crying and complaining of the pain. As she began directing her usual insults at me, something that she has done for as long as I can remember, she seemed to perk-up enough so that when the nurse came into the room and told her the people in the nursing home lunch-room were asking about her she inquired if any of them were men. George and I then went to the cafeteria for lunch composed mostly of white and grey colored food. I offered a dish of vanilla ice cream to the woman in a wheel chair sitting opposite me. She declined saying her butt was too big already and then inviting me to take a look if I’d like. We returned to my mom’s room and, after settling her in for a nap, departed.

We then went to Bernie’s café in Noe Valley where we met Peter. We ordered coffee and then sat in the sun on the benches in front of Bernie’s and reminisced. Peter and George worked out the plot for the next mystery novel I would write and not finish. It concerned concentric circles and a well-known but very dead Scientologist who, through the internet, rented for the night Dragon’s apartment in BKK that looks a lot like mine and who expired in the arms of an equally dead Thai ladyboy. Dragon and a team of second-rate ex-pat novelists living in Thailand investigate.

Later I had dinner at my sister’s house with George and my nephew Brendan. Brendan plays in the band, “Not Sure, Not Yet,” whose next gig is somewhere in LA. My sister was in NYC as a panelist at a UN conference on social welfare organizations. Immediately following this she planed to attend the Bill Clinton conference at which my old partner Christine Lagarde current head at IMY is one of the keynote speakers. It has been over 20 years since I last spoke with either Clinton or Lagarde. They each have a different form of charisma. Clinton is like the warming sun after a cool night, while Lagarde in more like the electric turquoise shimmer of a glacier just before it tumbles into the ocean.

I waited for Nikki to arrive from Milan and when he did, he and I drove back to El Dorado Hills.

**********************************
Almost a week has gone by during which three grown and more of less aging men have spent most of their time responding to the whims of an 8 year old boy and enjoying it. I have alternated between furious bouts of black depression and gentle amusement punctuated by one night of boisterous drinking on the deck followed by a day of pain and suffering.

Recently I have been informed that a number of people I know consider me something between a tragic failure and an insufferable moocher. Now normally this would disturb me, being somewhat oblivious to my peculiar behavior and shocked when it is pointed out to me that it is looked at as both odd and undesirable. I can see where some may think that. God knows, at times I think it myself. But even if it were true, when I consider that one of those who has said that is the person who has repeatedly abandoned her child, I really don’t care too much. Nevertheless, I feel I have accomplished what I have set out to do, the boy is no longer teetering on the edge psychological and physical desolation so perhaps it is time for me to move on anyway.

I have begun to deal with my periodic bouts of boredom and depression by seriously exploring publishing options other than screeds in left-wing blogs read primarily by those who prefer spending most of their lives in dark rooms venting their spleen about things they will never have the ability to affect. I realize my stuff is not particularly good or especially interesting, but from what I have observed of what is out there that would place me somewhere in the middle. It, like life in general, is a lot like running in a marathon, you may never finish in the top 10, but just finishing itself can be considered a worthy accomplishment.

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

Nikki left and later that day I spent some time with my old friend Lina. She was just passing through the Sacramento area on her way back to her home in Southern California. She seemed happy to remind me of the many failures of my personal life. The next day I went to the doctor for a check up. He prescribed a lot of pills. That made me happy.

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

A lengthy digression on traveling and old Greeks:

I think here I should interrupt my usual narrative and share with you (well to be honest, impose upon you) my recent musings about traveling.

My approach to traveling is somewhat like my approach to life; it is not arriving at your destination that is important but what happened along the way. I call it Pookieism.

For example, assume that I depart from San Francisco intending to travel to, say Rome to visit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. If that is what I efficiently did and returned home equally efficiently, I for one would be unsatisfied indeed.

If on the other hand I were to depart on that same voyage and along the way be diverted by circumstances outside of my control or through my stupidity and thereby facing perhaps danger, or passion, beauty or tedium and return home without ever getting to see Michelangelo’s frescos (the chapel would probably be closed anyway, for repairs or for some obscure holiday), I would consider my trip a success.

I guess, one could consider Pookieism something like Buddhism, but from somewhat the opposite viewpoint. Where Buddhism urges one to withdraw from the unreality of perception, Pookieism suggests you revel in it.

When I look back into my life, anytime I single-mindedly pursued a goal and overcame many obstacles to achieve it, I almost always came away dissatisfied, became depressed and soon decided to spend my time doing something else. On the other hand whenever I was diverted from my path, or failed in achieving my goal or found myself hopelessly lost, I often was overjoyed. Why, because there was so much experience, so much pathos and so much joy. And, oh the stories…

Yes, of course there were things that to this day I wish never happened and if I could I would want not to have occurred, but they did and the exquisite if odious memories of the experience accompanies me like tattoos on the skins of generation Xers.

For those males of a certain age, some of you may recall that time when you were a kid and in your imagination played the announcer of your life. “The great slugger stands at the plate. Here comes the pitch. He swings. He misses….” Or, “Here is the world-famous runner running through the woods. Will he break the record? Oh no! He trips. He falls. Will he be able to get up, finish the race and break the record? Stay tuned.”

Well, I still do that. “Here is the aging hero walking along the side of the road recalling past loves, triumphs and failures. Out of the corner of his eye he spies a small yellow flower, stops and contemplates its beauty for a moment and then walks on, crosses the street, the freshly painted striping glowing so whitely in the sun it hurts his eyes. Suddenly he remembers he forgot to buy that bottle of milk. Should he return to the store or proceed on toward home? He stands there at the edge of the road, like the brave Ulysses on the beach contemplating whether to return home to the aging but loyal Penelope or spend another night in the arms of the beautiful Calypso?”

Speaking of Ulysses, Homer’s account is not quite how it happened.

One night the short, bandy-legged, scraggly bearded young man named Ulysses, who lived in a subdivision on a small island in the Adriatic, left the home on a cull-de-sac he shared with his wife, young son, various hangers-on, and a pack of dogs, telling everyone he was going to the store to buy a carton of milk, or an amphora of wine or new sandals or whatever. Now twenty years later he stood on the corner of the block down from his old home, broke, hungry and older. He contemplated the excuses he would tell his wife for his long absence. He concocted stories about ships and strange wars, jealous gods, wooden horses, one-eyed monsters and to cover up the long periods of time he spent living with a succession of comely young women, he fell back on the tried and true excuse of philandering husbands of the time, bewitchment.

On the other hand, the also aging but still zaftig and supposedly loyal Penelope wanted no part of the smelly midget bastard’s return. She had happily spent the past 20 years screwing the Theban pool boy and every young stud in town. The assholes return would only mean she would have to give up the good life and return to working on that goddamn loom. Besides, she needed an excuse of her own to explain why for the last 20 years the same old piece of cloth hung on that machine with no further work done on it since he left. She told all her boyfriends that she would choose one of them to settle down with when she finished weaving the cloth. They were so stupefied with the thought of getting into her toga whenever she lifted its hem for them they forgot all about the status of that rotting rag.

She believed however that she would need something better to convince the crafty asshole of her unbelievable 20 years of fidelity. She decided to elaborate on the story and planned to tell her returning husband, if unfortunately he should ever return, that she weaved at the loom all day and every night she tore out what she had done during the day. If the simple and unbelievable story had worked on her lovers why wouldn’t this expanded version work on that scheming lying bastard Ulysses?

Nevertheless, she still was surprised when the testosterone poisoned dwarf suddenly and unexpectedly showed up at her door and started killing all of her boyfriends and the Theban pool boy as well.

Sadly, Penelope was forced back to working all day at the goddamn loom and at night diddling herself while the drunken scumbag lay snoring among his dogs after buggering some prepubescent boy-chick.

As Holden Caulfield would say, “Crummy.”

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 29:

“So,” I said to the smiling Vietnamese killing machine sitting next to me. “Did you have a good time last night.” Although I was determined not to show any jealousy, I failed by asking the question.

He looked at me, his ever-present smile dimmed slightly. “Mavis insisted we stop at Rabat for a drink.”

Rabat is one of those 20 somethings hangouts that over the past few years have sprung up south of the City’s Market Street in the old warehouse district first abandoned by the industries that they were built to house and then by the dot-com inundation that collapsed as suddenly as it began. Now it is a place filled with hook-up bars on the verge of decline as the newest generation begins to realize they can achieve the same results with their smart phones for less money.

“After one or two drinks she said she did not want you getting hurt. I asked why she thought that you might be harmed. She said she had spoken with Mark Holland that morning and he seemed angry, maybe drunk or stoned and was making threats. She would not say anything more. I tried to get her to talk to Martin but she refused. I offered to take her home but she wanted to be alone. So I left.”

There was no reason to ask him if he then spoke to Martin and told him about his conversation, so I took out my phone and called Mavis.

She answered on the second ring with a flat, hello.

“It’s me Dragon. You OK?

“Yeah. What do you want?”

“I have to see you right away.”

“I’m busy right now.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Make time.”

I hung up and turned toward Vu.He had tensed up and was staring at the street. The limo had passed again and stopped halfway down the block. One of the Tons of Fun got out of the passenger side and started walking toward us. The Limo took off again down Columbus toward downtown.

As he approached he lifted his hands up in a gesture of peace and said “relax, I’ve just come to talk.” He pulled out a chair and sat down his bulk overwhelming it.

“OK Brett whats up?”

He looked at Joe for a moment and said, “I just thought I’d drop by and find out how you’re doing on my little assignment.”

Anna came by. He ordered an espresso and a Tirimisu. I said to Anna. “Make sure you get paid when you bring the stuff. I’ve had too many people leaving me with the check recently.” He chuckled.

“I had gotten the impression I was fired.”

“Nah, just a failure to communicate. So have you found out anything about Holland yet?”

“No, I think he’s long gone from here.”

The coffee and Tirimisu arrived. He downed the coffee in a single gulp and the Tirimisu in about three forkfuls. Pushed back from the table.

“I’m pretty sure he’s around here somewhere.”

“How do you know?”

“A hunch.”

“I sure would like to know who ever it is that is whispering your hunches into your ears.”

He laughed and strode off. By the time he disappeared around the corner, I realized he had not paid for his snack.

I looked at Joe he was still tensely staring after the Fat Man. “Relax,” I said. “What did you expect a gun battle right here in Downtown San Francisco?”

He stared at the traffic passing on the street in front of us and said. “Guns are useful only at a distance and to scare the inexperienced. If you use a gun and don’t hit your target you are either crazy, stupid or incompetent. If it happens with a lot of people around probably someone not involved will be hurt. I assume if someone wants to kill me he will do it by surprise or from someplace hidden. If I am lucky and he misses, I need to find someplace to hide. The first bullet in my gun is a blank set up to be very loud and produce a lot of smoke. I hope it will cause my attacker to duck or close his eyes momentarily giving me time to get away. I also will not kill an innocent bystander in my panic to return fire. You Americans think guns protect you. They do not. Your brain protects you. Guns are a very limited tool, more dangerous to you than to anyone else.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019aff58a4e0970c

B. Chronicles of the Parasites:

According to Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein in their article, The Growth of Modern Finance:

“The U.S. financial services industry grew from 4.9% of GDP in 1980 to 7.9% of GDP in 2007. A sizable portion of the growth can be explained by rising asset management fees…. Another important factor was growth in fees associated with an expansion in household credit, particularly fees associated with residential mortgages. This expansion was itself fueled by the development of non-bank credit intermediation (or “shadow banking”). We offer a preliminary assessment of whether the growth of active asset management, household credit, and shadow banking–the main areas of growth in the financial sector–has been socially beneficial….”

Several times here in T&T and in some of my blog posts I argued that the modern financial system that first developed in the US and the north atlantic countries and has now spread throughout the world since 1980 has in fact limited the growth of world wealth rather than grown it as some of its supporters, such as Milton Friedman, predicted.

Brad DeLong has recently commented on the fact that in 1950 finance and insurance in the US accounted for less than 3% of GDP, but by 2011 accounts for almost 6% of GDP without measurable evidence that it has boosted growth by expected amounts.

Delong also pointed our a fundamental truth about the current financial system:

“There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money…”

He adds:

“Over the past year and a half, in the wake of Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff’s estimate that 2% of U.S. GDP was wasted in the pointless hypertrophy of the financial sector, evidence that our modern financial system is less a device for efficiently sharing risk and more a device for separating rich people from their money–a Las Vegas without the glitz–has mounted.”

Recently in revisiting this problem Delong wrote:

“…the events and economic research of the past years have demonstrated three things. First, modern finance is simply too powerful in its lobbying before legislatures and regulators for it to be possible to restrain its ability to create systemic macroeconomic risk while preserving its ability to entice customers with promises of safe, sophisticated money management. Second, the growth-financial deepening correlations on which I relied do indeed vanish when countries move beyond simple possession of a banking system, EFT, and a bond market into more sophisticated financial instruments. And, third, the social returns to the U.S.’s and the North Atlantic’s investment in finance as the industry of the future over the past generation has, largely, crapped out. A back-of-the-envelope calculation I did in 2007 suggested that in mergers and acquisitions the world paid finance roughly $800 billion/year for about $170 billion/year of real economic value–a rather low benefit-cost ratio–and that appears to be not the exception but the rule.”

In other words, as I never tire of repeating, in one form or another the depredations of the parasite community impoverishes us all.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It used to be that crazy people were more-or-less evenly divided between the (northern) Republican Party and the (southern) Democratic Party. Now they are concentrated in the Republican Party. This matters–and is a source of great terror and dismay for the non-crazy Republicans, and for us all.”
Brad DeLong

 

TODAY’S CHART:
6a00e551f080038834019aff576401970c

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130924_064710_707_2
Rosy Fingered Dawn in El Dorado Hills

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Ann Vita and Richard McCarthy.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Today after leaving the car at the automotive shop for some maintenance, Dick dropped me off at Capitol Park in Sacramento to while away the hours until it was time to pick the car up. I always liked Capitol Park. The park features a huge variety of trees with their massive trunks and twisted roots as well as plenty of benches for the old, the homeless and now and then a state bureaucrat or two to sit and contemplate the meaning of sitting in parks.
IMG_20130916_111627_025
Fra Serra among the trees.

Many years ago, when I used to work in Sacramento, I recall scurrying through the park from my apartment or office to the Capitol building for meetings with various legislators, governors, staff, consultants, lobbyists and other detritus that haunted those not so hallowed halls. I remembered a sense of pleasure in my surroundings as I rushed through the Park, but I almost never stopped to wonder why I was rushing.

The Park has sprouted a number of monuments, as parks often do, that I did not recall existed when I previously spent time there. Most of them have to do with war. It is a strange mix of wars that whoever made the choice thought was worth remembering. There was an overgrown grove of bushes dedicated to the Civil War, but nothing commemorating the American Revolution. There was no monument to WWI. A simple plinth commemorated WWII. I could find no Spanish-American War or Korean War monuments. By far the most elaborate memorial however was dedicated to the Vietnam War. I sat on a bench nearby and tried to understand why it was that, with all the successful feats of martial arms engaged in by this country, we should spend so much time and effort memorializing a war we so clearly lost. Americans died in all the wars. Perhaps it is the poignancy of them having died for so little reason that makes us feel sadder about them than those lost in other more successful efforts at organized mayhem.

I then looked around to see if I could find any monuments dedicated to peace. I found statue devoted to Junipero Serra, but none to native Americans. There was a wonderful series of sculptures in memory of the State’s firefighters who had died, but none it appeared in remembrance of Cops who also lost their lives in the line of duty. Why was that?
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California firefighters with hoses rampant.

Finally I discovered a somewhat forlorn rose garden dedicated to peace tucked away in a far corner of the park. Overgrown and reedy as rose bushes tend to get when not maintained (I do not understand the connection between roses and peace). Plaques containing poems to peace written by schoolchildren were hidden close to the ground among the thorns.

A small mall-like extension between some state office buildings had been added to the Park containing a number of tripods upon which sat small glass plaques with writing so tiny they were almost impossible to read. A sign at the entrance to the mall explained that the tripods were situated so as to represent the location of the stars on the night California was admitted into the Union. At one end of the mall was a chute like ramp that itself ended with a brass ball on a column that was supposed to be an exact replica of the brass ball on the top of the Capitol dome that could be seen in the distance. The whole thing made no sense to me.
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It still seems like a waste to me.

In the morning after Dick dropped me off, I had a cup of coffee in a coffee-house across L Street from Capitol Park. The barista was a large austere blond woman with tattoos that could be seen snaking all over the exposed portions of her skin other than on her face. She reminded me of Mavis the tattooed lady in my mystery novel serial that is included with T&T, except that where Mavis is short and thin this woman was quite large. Also while Mavis’ tattoos expressed a consistent theme, the jungle in all its fecund mystery, this woman’s body decorations seemed to revel in disconnected bouts of aesthetic rapture.

After my tour of the Park and lunch at a Moroccan restaurant with Stevie and Norbert (I enjoyed the food and welcomed the company), I returned to the coffee shop hoping to catch a glimpse of the blond woman again. She was still there standing behind the counter. I sat at a table with my coffee and surreptitiously glanced at her and once found her looking back at me. I wanted to speak with her, ask her about her tattoos, about what it is like to work in the coffee-house, her hopes and her dreams, whether she ever contemplated sex with a seventy year old man. You know same old same old. I began to feel like an incipient stalker so I left and waited for Dick outside.

That night I dreamt about her. Not some sweaty image of impossible passion, but simply a picture of her standing behind the counter with me at the table, my coffee in front of me, staring out of the window, like an Edward Hopper painting, a frozen moment of existential loneliness.

***************************************************
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Politics at its most…whatever: Given the things the opposition has called Obama, I find the following report from Thailand to be less than shocking. It appears to be just another example of boys will be boys.

“Thai PM was called a “stupid bitch” by the leader of the opposition.”

“This was not the first time Ms. Yingluck was called อีโง่ (pronounced ‘ee-ngo’, equivalent to the English vulgarity of “stupid bitch” or “dumb bitch”). This specific epithet has been used among her haters so much so that googling the word will return mostly her pictures and caricatures of her image.”

The “stupid bitch” remark is the latest in a long line of vulgar insults Ms. Yingluck has been subjected to. Among the early high-profile insults, two years ago she was compared to a prostitute by a businessman (who described all women from Northern Thailand as “uneducated,” “lazy,” “intellectually retarded,” and “fit only for” working as prostitutes, not as prime minister). In May this year she was called an “evil woman, worse than a whore” by a well-known cartoonist. In the same month, the Office of Prime Minister website was hacked and the hackers turned the official page to show Ms. Yingluck’s picture with a caption “I’m a slutty moron.”
Kaewmala

(I refrain from comment, but see Testosterone Chronicles below.)

2. Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most widely read english language daily newspaper wrote some time ago:

“Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.”

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter: 28

The limo continued on up Columbus toward the Bay. Joe and Chang sat down again and began an animated conversation and laughing. Vihn had not moved. His mouth curved up a bit more. “Did you hear what I said,” he asked?

I pulled my chair back up to the table, waited a moment for my heart to slow down and replied in a somewhat higher voice than I wanted, “Did you see that?” What the fuck’s wrong with you?” “Your boys were about to start shooting, in broad daylight, in a busy street.”

“They were only doing their job. I trust them. Now please answer my question.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I heard you. So what. So everyone you know was trying to scam you. What the fuck did you expect? You’re not exactly in the fiduciary business yourself you know. Your furniture is gone, whatever was hidden was gone. Deal with it.”

“You are the only one who I know that was not involved.”

“Well good for me. If I had the chance I would have probably joined in the cluster fuck too.”

“This has become personal for me.”

“Martin, I doubt if anything is personal for you. What do you want from me?”

Anna arrived with his coffee. Martin leaned back a bit, picked up two cubes of sugar, dropped them into his cup and stirred them around. He then put down his spoon, looked back at me and said, “I want you to find Mark Holland. I need to speak with him.”

“Look, he’s long gone by now. If not, he’s too dumb to breathe, in which case he’s probably dead.”

“I have reason to believe he is hiding near-by and is definitely not dead.” With that he got up and added, “I’ve already told Robert Wu to deposit your usual fee. You’re making a pretty good living off of me. If you find Holland it will be worth it for both of us.”

Suddenly his car turned the corner and pulled into the bus stop. Obviously there was a signal passed between Vihn and Chang or Vu that I did not notice. I was impressed as he intended.

“Wait,” I said as he turned and began to slide into the back seat. “What information about Holland’s whereabouts do you have?”

“Joe will tell you,” he said as he began to close the door.

“I’ve heard that before,” I mumbled.

He hesitated for a moment, looked at me, nodded and closed the door. Chang got into the front passenger seat and they drove off. He never even sipped his coffee. Nor did the son of a bitch pay for it.

Joe Vu slipped into the seat vacated by Vihn. Instead of Vihn’s slightly turned up corners to his mouth, Vu sported the big arrogant smile he usually does. “How ya do’in boss?”

“Before I answer that,” I said. “Are you going to pay for Vihn’s coffee?

He looked at the cup, downed the coffee, made a face and said, “Too much sugar.”

 
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

One day while we sat at our usual table in the restaurant in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, the good/bad David mused that although he almost never votes in an American election he believed that at least right now neither Party seems capable of producing anyone who was either better or could defeat Hillary in the 2016 Presidential Election. He quickly added that he, personally did not like Hillary. He then asked if I would write something about a potential third-party candidacy bid by Hillary so that those so inclined could vote for her without having to specifically vote Democratic.

I pointed out that the there is a constitutional requirement prevents voters in a Presidential election voting directly for a candidate. They vote instead for a slate of electors each State pledged to one particular candidate or another. It is extremely difficult and expensive for a candidate to qualify for third party status in all 50 states. Also, I suspect that any candidate that could secure one of the major Party’s nomination would hesitate forgoing access to the fund-raising and election workers the Party contributes to its candidate in an election. So the only option available to a candidate like Hillary would be the possibility of running both as Democratic and as an Independent. Alas, I am unsure, but sincerely doubt, that even were the electors to be the same for both the Democratic Party and the Third Party, the votes on either line would be treated as anything other than separate. What this means is that, given the fact that the votes for the Democratic electors, the Republican electors and the Third party electors would be awarded to the specific Party and not consolidated, being on two tickets would split the vote between them. Thus in the case of Hillary actually reduce her votes vis-a-vis the Republican candidate.

But let’s assume I am wrong about this and the votes can be consolidated, would this be a good idea for Hillary? That would depend if polling indicated that the money and effort spent on qualifying and promoting the Third Party would somehow produce a better national result. For example would it pull more votes away from the Republican candidate to be worth it. On the other hand would the voter disenchanted with the Republican candidate or Party be more likely to vote independent than Republican or just stay home. Both outcomes would benefit Hillary, but one would be much less costly. That is simple hard-nosed electoral politics.

There is however in America today a need for a modicum of consensus on the Country’s leadership without requiring the destruction or abandonment of ideology or social relationships and a Hillary Clinton third-party candidacy could have that effect.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, women outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviors. Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines the dark side of personality: for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women.”
Harvard Business Review.

(Additional evidence of my belief that after 10,000 years of male dominance it is time for men to step aside and let women clean up the mess they have made.)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Bradshaw was so dumb he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘t’.”
Hollywood Henderson’s famous observation about ex-Pittsburg Steelers Quarterback and well-known sports commentator Terry Bradshaw’s legendary intelligence.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Granddaughter standing in front of her mural along with her mom.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Pops 26 0002

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

–Rick Santorum, Salon, October 2006

(Shit, who knew?)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:

Very little has gone on here in Paradise in the Foothills since I arrived. I spent a few pleasant dinners with Stevie and Norbert on Dick’s deck during which we discussed the pro-ported ancient Chinese arrival in California described in the new book, “1421.” It seems N&S had clients who owned the supposed landing sits upon which some of the books arguments are based. We also looked at some maps Norbert had prepared that showed parts of the California coastline as it looked about 15,000 years ago, at about the time the first native American’s showed up. Dick and I believe the main migration route of these early immigrants was along the shoreline exposed by the ocean’s retreat due to glaciation. The maps showed long stretches of plains and small hills now buried beneath the waves that made up most of the coast at that time. The string of coastal islands now stretching for hundreds of miles off the coast were, at that time one single massive island that approached the mainland as close as four miles or less. 13-15 thousand-year old sites of human habitation have been found on the islands.

I continue my nanny duties with triple H. He seems much more reticent and stand-offish with me then I remember him being just a few months ago.

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

The days go by with precious little to do; take HHH to and from school; play on my computer; worry about more than I should about what I can do little about. Excitement has consisted of backing the car into the wall around Dick’s house and a slight and hopefully profitable assignment regarding a trust that required an uncountable number of frustrating telephone calls with legions of bureaucrats at a bank.

Before one becomes aged, he or she can always try again when they fail (if they want to). You know, fall in love again, do another deal and so on. As one passes into the shadow of old age, trying again is not something that is often easy to do. In fact, the best thing I think I can do beside exercise and eat well is try to persuade myself that I am happy and attempt to find something interesting to do that is not too physically taxing. Writing T&T is one thing but I fear that I am beginning to lose my enthusiasm for entertaining myself this way. Some evenings I join Dick in drinking too much. It is enjoyable but its aftereffects are too debilitating and take a few days to disappear.

*********************************
A bit of excitement this past week, at least for lonely old men and the socially inept who spend a good part of their lives in darkened rooms or coffee houses spewing their obsessions into blogs and various social media. For the past few weeks, I have been clearing the detritus from my computer by re-posting much of it into various blogs. One of them is one of the nation’s major progressive blogs (or as my more right-wing friends refer to it, “communist” blog. Alas, if those who post there are todays version of communists, the left has fallen far indeed).

I like to post there because every once in a while I will write something mildly critical of the self-importance exhibited by many of those who declare themselves progressives, driving them to the verge of apoplexy. I say self-importance because it is very difficult to discern anything there rising to the level of a cohesive ideology. I often accuse the right-wing of suffering from irony deficiency (and of course stupidity but it is not wholly their fault that they have been persuaded that stupidity is a form of godliness.) Alas the left suffers from massive and dour fear their foibles would be seen as humorous. I often get the feeling that they believe the world would end or they fly apart should their self-importance not be treated with the seriousness that they believe it should be. While the right remains oblivious to how ridiculous they are, the left lives in mortal fear that they may be also.

Recently I wrote both a post and a comment in which I chided the left for often engaging in wishful thinking. For example, believing the tide of politics is running in their direction or that those elected officials certified as progressive will lead them into the promised land of a millennium of socialistic bliss. As for the latter point, elected politicians are at best your representatives not your leaders. They only lead if your terrorize them into it.

I wrote in my typically over-wrought style:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.”

One would have thought that with his bit of rhetoric I had plunged a knife into their collective belly. I could sense as I wrote it a moan of fury rising from those dark rooms with their smell of stale pizza and spilled beer — at least from the dozen or so people in those rooms that would actually read my post.

It was what passes for fun in my life now…

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: [impatiently] Now, let’s *talk* about the black bird.
Kasper Gutman: Let’s. Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can be got for that black bird?
Sam Spade: No.
Kasper Gutman: Well, sir, if I told you… If I told you *half*… you’d call me a liar.
Sam Spade: No, not even if I thought so.

Chapter 27:

I was back at my usual table on the sidewalk in front of Pino’s place in North Beach. I had spent the morning happily reviewing the temporarily renewed health of my bank account. I had called Vihn’s accountant earlier to make sure everything I had earned had been deposited. I was now about to dip my fork into my favorite dish, gnocchi. The food a Pino’s like most of the restaurants in the City is mediocre at best. I like eating here because I can sit on the sidewalk and watch that slice of my world that is North Beach sidled by. Anyway, you really have to work at it to screw up italian food. Alas, a lot of cooks I know work exceedingly hard to do just that.

Pino was at his usual post, leaning against the parking meter across the sidewalk from the entrance to his place. He broke from his annoying importuning of passers-by and inept attempts of flirting with any remotely attractive woman in the area within shouting range, to turn and briefly smile at me. I raised my glass of Barbera and saluted him. The only reason he was smiling and not greeting me with his usual scowl was that, with my new-found wealth, I was able to pay off my tab that morning.

“Fuck you fat face,” I thought and amused at my alliteration turned back to my bowl of gnocchi in marinara sauce. I had just popped a chewy morsel into my mouth when my phone vibrated. The screen showed it was Vihn. Still chewing happily I flipped it on.

“We need to talk,” Martin Vihn said without waiting for me to say hello.

“So talk,” I said.

“No, I would rather meet with you, face to face.”

“Why? I completed my assignments and now my office is closed for the rest of the month while I spend my hard-earned profits on a vacation somewhere.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. I could never tell with Vihn, if these long silences meant he was amused, furious or just slow. I guess, that is what frightened me most about him. I could not understand what was going on with him. Like most people I suppose I am scared shitless by what I do not understand or what I am unmotivated to find out about.

Anyway, in the eternal battle between discretion and curiosity, with me at least, curiosity always wins. So, I told him I would wait there at Pino’s for him. I finished the Gnocchi. Anna the waitress came by to clear the table and take my order for espresso with a lemon peel, no sugar. I like my coffee like my soul, bitter and black.

Anna is from the Ukraine but she is a bit darker many of the descendants of the Nordic Rus conquerors of the Slaves so she looks somewhat Italian. She attends City College and works here at Pino’s part-time. She claims she speaks italian fluently. I suspect Pino is running an immigration scam perhaps with a little white slavery of the side. But hey, she’s white, young and beautiful so who cares if her immigration status is a bit hinkey. There are a few more Eastern-European women like Anna who work the tables at Pino’s. I sometime try to hit on them. I get a lot of promises but no commitments.

I was halfway through my coffee when I spotted Joe Vu saunter around the corner. As though it was choreographed, Martin Vihn’s big silver Lexus rounded the same corner at the same time and stopped in the bus stop in front of me. He got out of the back seat. Chang exited the front. The Lexus then sped off. Chang joined Vu. They sat at an empty table next to the one adjacent to mine in which a middle-aged tourist couple picked at their Veal Parmigiano’s and stared at the North Beach traffic. I though back to what my father told me while running one of the several Italian restaurants he had opened to great reviews that promptly failed. “Never order Veal Parmigiano at a restaurant,” he said. “The cheese and the sauce ate there just to hide the cheap meat.”

Joe and Chang were dressed in their usual outfits. Black shades covered their eyes. Joe nodded at me slightly before he sat down.

Martin sat at my table, his back toward the street and stared silently as he always does before starting a conversation with me. He probably thought it made me uncomfortable and anxious. He was right.

Anna arrived to take his order. He turned toward her and ordered an espresso with sugar. I thought that may have been a good sign. Anna moved over to Joe’s table. There was some flirty banter and Anna returned inside the restaurant to put in the orders. Vihn still had not spoken. He had, however, resumed his stare.

I was trying to come up with an amusing comment on his attitude when he leaned toward me across the table. “Almost everyone but you and me, even my accountant, met with the furniture manufacturer in Chiang Rai.”

Before I could respond, I noticed both Joe and Chang spring up out of their chairs and reach behind their backs. I slammed back my chair preparing to run, wondering why they would choose to shoot me down in broad daylight. I pictured myself falling dead right in front of Pino with two bullets in my back. My murder would probably make his place famous. I hated the thought that my death could be the cause of that wimpy weasels success.

Suddenly I realized they were not looking at me but at the limousine slowly passing by on Columbus Avenue. I could see Bulbous Bart driving. His obese brother sat in the front seat alongside him. The back windows were darkly tinted but I still could make out what appeared to be someone in the back seat pressing close to the window facing us. This did not make me feel any better.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“In 1870 the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would have bought him (not her: women were paid less) about 5,000 calories worth of bread–5,000 wheat calories, about 2½ times what you need to live (if you are willing to have your teeth fall out and your nutritionist glower at you). In 1800 the daily wages would have bought him about 3,500 calories, and in 1600 2,500 calories. Karl Marx in 1850 was dumbfounded at the pace of the economic transition he saw around him. That was the transition that carried wages from 3500 calories per day-equivalent in 1800 to 5000 in 1870. Continue that for another two seventy-year periods, and we would today be at 10,000 calories per unskilled worker in the North Atlantic today per day.

Today the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would buy him or her 2,400,000 wheat calories.

Not 10,000. 2,400,000.”
Brad DeLong

(What this means is that after about 3000 to 4000 calories most of the rest of the 2.4 million excess calories go mostly to things we do not need to live. Or, as one commenter to my blogs wrote, “Its simple: it’s the shit you don’t need for the life you don’t want.” [by The Chop].)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
526520_10151632377386275_475064735_n
(While I agree with what Jason [whoever he is] says, I wonder if that is a picture of him and if so why is it included and if not, I wonder if this is actually an Abercrombie commercial about who else they refuse to sell to [nerds with thick glasses] or the kind of ties they decline to stock.)

B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

The good/bad David urged me to speculate on the potential of Hillary Clinton running as a third-party candidate for president in the 2016 presidential election so that people like him might find it possible to vote for her. Alas, David I have put this off another week. I promise, however, to try to get it into the next issue.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A man is what he has passion about,”
Sanderson, Brandon (2008-10-14). The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn.

“the real world is driven by two types of people. Those who want power and those who want money. The first want a statue, the second enjoyment. And the currency they use when negotiating with each other to get what they want is called corruption.”
Nesbo, Jo (2012-10-02). Phantom

 

TODAY’S CHART:
original-1

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20130831_191401_049
Sunset in the Foothills

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pops 0002

Dum spiro, spero

“Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it”
Anon

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Despite my fatigue with Thailand and my eagerness to leave, as my departure date inched closer I grew sadder. I have grown fond of the Old Man’s Caucus at the Health Club, the ministrations of my new masseuse, watching Thai soaps and applying my interpretation to the bizarre events that appear on the screen (and the stunningly bad acting), the few days every few months I spend conversing with David, the incomprehensible discussions with LM and more. Eventually, the time arrived and I sadly watched LM disappear from view as I passed through airport customs.

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

I remained for two days at my sister’s house in Berkeley. We spent most of that brief visit reminiscing about family. This time we focused on our Sicilian relatives with brief side-trips to memories and stories about those who came to the US from Sabina. My sister and brother-in-law and their two children Brendan and Katie spent most of Saturday conducting a garage sale in preparation for selling the Berkeley house in the next few months and relocating to their home in Mendocino. Some of the stuff I recognized from our homes back in NY over forty years ago including a slightly menacing ceramic clown that for some reason our father was obsessed with.IMG_20130824_133226_974

Even Bingo the dog was up for sale.

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

Ruth sent some emails regarding travels we had done together that I only dimly remembered. One was a trip to tour Area 51 of UFO fame. Dick had been invited on one of the earliest tours of the site allowing civilians. He asked me to join him and I in turn invited Ruth suggesting that after the tour we spend some time together in Las Vegas. Since she was traveling from LA and I from SF, I proposed we meet at the site. For some reason I did not show up. Ruth mentioned that she expressed her dismay at my behavior to another person on the tour who apparently knew me. According to Ruth he urged her not to take it personally and added that I, “did that sort of thing to people all the time.”

I eventually did show up in Vegas for the rest of the weekend.

It saddened me that those wonderful trips we took together, to Italy, the Columbia River Valley, the LA end of the Millennium Party had begun to drift so far from memory.
00002030
Ruth and I uncomfortable at a 60s revival costume party in the 90s somewhere in Culver City.

I always believed that life was lived for the variety of its experiences, the good and the bad, success and the failures. Alas, I now recognize that it all inevitably disappears from memory and except for the Butterfly Effect, it may just as well never have happened.

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

I am now in El Dorado Hills, recovered from jet lag and wondering how to fill my time. Yesterday I sat on the deck and marveled about the deep blue skies here that I love so much, until the 95 degree heat drove me inside again.
IMG_20130826_182839_516
Dick prepares a snack for us on the deck

HHH has just begun to enter that phase of childhood where young boys transition from an excited interest in everything to long periods of staring at nothing in particular. I visited with Norbert and Stevie on the way here.

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

As HHH and I virtually were entering the car to begin out trip to Mendocino for the Labor Day weekend when we received a call from she who at her insistence must not be mentioned deciding against his going on the trip. Alas I was so furious I took it out on HHH. I felt like a schmuck. I cancelled my trip so that Dick would not be unnecessarily burdened. He was great. He planned enough activities for the holidays to bring me out of my funk. Triple H and I went fishing in the lake by the library, spent two enjoyable days swimming at the community pool, attended the local high school football game (The home team was leading 35-0 by half time when we left), spent a morning at the huge flea market in Roseville, had a pleasant dinner with Stevie and Norbert and went to watch Triple H drive in a go-cart race.
IMG_20130901_095845_206
Fishing…

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

 

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Your story didn’t sound quite right.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, that’s too bad. You got a better one?
Eddie Mars: Maybe I can find one.
Chapter 26

I called out to Vihn when I was a few feet away. He turned and with that slight smile he affected, stared at me.

“I found something you need to see,” I said.

“I’ll join you after I see Ms. Reilly.”

“No, this is something you need to see right now.”

He hesitated a moment, shrugged and followed me across the yard.

When we got to the door of the cottage, I said, “Chang should stay here and make sure we are not disturbed.”

Vihn nodded to Chang and followed me into the house.

“Don’t touch anything,” I warned. “No sense in making it easier for anyone.”

We walked directly to the office in the back and stood by the door.

“I’ve found your furniture. At least some of it.”

We entered the room. Vihn crouched down and examined the pieces of furniture. I pointed to the waste basket. He looked in and nodded slightly.

“You’ve now involved me in a crime. Tell me again how this was just some household furnishings import deal.”

He look-up at me, said, “I should have known, but I didn’t”

“Did you kill him?”

“No. What makes you think it was murder.”

“Nothing, but there are only two condoms probably used to transport drugs and an awful lot more places to hide them. I’d ask whoever built the furniture and was involved in the shipment in Thailand what they know about it.” I hesitated a moment, “Why do you suppose he opened just the two condoms if there were more hidden?” Then I added, “I assume you don’t intend to tell the police about this?” He did not answer.

Said, “Well you know where to find me.” and with that I turned and left, collected Mavis from her gaggle of friends and departed the Reilly compound.

Outside Joe was standing with another of Vihn’s minions, whose name I had forgotten, eyeing Fat Bart. I motioned to him that it was time to leave. As he turned, I noticed a slight bump in his back at his waist. “You went to get your gun? Were you contemplating the Shootout in Marin?”

He chuckled. “No only you white guys would think of standing face to face with someone and shooting off guns at each other to prove who had the biggest dick. That just results in a good chance of your own willy being shot off. Did you know that at the OK Corral the stupid fuckers were only about 20 feet apart when they started firing at each other and most of the bullets missed? No, the only purpose of a gun is that if someone starts shooting at you and misses you can make enough noise to make him hesitate long enough for you to run away and hide. Then if he is as bad a marksman as he has already proven himself to be and dumb enough to try to find your hiding place then, you bet, he’s soon dead from my gun.”

We then walked back to the car in silence. During the drive back I again sat in the back seat and stewed over wise-ass Joe’s rejoinder and decided that I would be happy to be rid of him now that the investigation is over. But I wasn’t and the investigation wasn’t over either. Where was Holland? He probably would know what actually happened to Reilly and the shipment. As we approached my loft building I tried to tell myself that I did not care about finding Holland. But I was not convincing. So I told Mavis that I had a headache and wanted to be alone tonight.

I stood on he sidewalk and watched them drive off fully expecting the two of them to be balling the night away somewhere and that I probably would not see either of them again. I got very very depressed. I was jealous also.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

February 14th, 1884: Theodore Roosevelt watched his mother die from typhoid fever then went upstairs in his home to watch his wife die from child-birth an hour later. This all happened on Valentine’s Day and was Theo’s 2 year anniversary of getting engaged to his wife. He was 25. In his diary that day, he wrote simply that “The light has gone out of my life.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/surprising-pieces-of-trivia-2013-8#ixzz2dH8SSojP

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Since 2001 we’ve seen total wages rise 40% while:
Total rents are up 60%
Health care is up 100%
College is up 120%
Energy costs are up 80%
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=lVR

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is. Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.”
David Frum, Republican Consultant.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

o-RELIGION-MAP-570

 
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130901_192801_872
It looks a lot like sunset in Tuscany…

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Pops 0002

 

Dum spiro, spero.

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
–Napoleon
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

One morning a few days ago on my way to breakfast I had just passed Nana Plaza which bills itself as The Worlds Largest Adult Playground when I stopped to buy a newspaper from the old Thai woman at the newsstand right by the entrance.
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Morning at Nana Plaza.

Suddenly I noticed a commotion a few feet away. On the sidewalk, two ladies of the very late evening or the very early morning were fighting with each other. A crowd of Thais had quickly gathered around watching. Some were taking pictures with their smart phones. At first I thought the combatants had torn each others clothing off. but on closer look I realized that the shrink wrapped uniform usually worn by the sidewalk purveyors of passion for a price had rolled up like an old window shade into a small band of fabric around their mid-sections. They looked a lot like Sumo wrestlers with their tiny belts separating vast rolls of ponderous swinging flesh.

No one moved to intervene, including me because, in my case, I have learned from hard experience not to intervene in disputes like this unless one party is helpless and at risk or blood is being spilled. In this case each combatant had the other’s hair wrapped in a death-grip and with their free hand landing looping ineffective blows to each other’s back while at the same time trying to kick each other’s shins with their bare fee. Their greatest physical danger would occur if they lost their balance, fell and cracked their heads on the cement.

Eventually, some of the orange shirted motorcycle messengers came over and separated them. Strangely, after separated the fighters they would immediately leave them alone again. This allowed the combatants to quickly resume battling each other. It occurred at least four times until suddenly the fight just ended with each gladiator strutting around while trying to unravel their dresses in order to cover up their exposed stocks in trade. Despite the fact that a police substation stood on the corner about twenty feet away, no police showed up.

The entertainment over the crowd dispersed and I continued on across Sukhumvit through Little Arabia and into FoodLand where I ate my breakfast and read the newspaper.

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

The good/bad David is back in town. We had lunch a his favorite restaurant on the 5th floor of Terminal 21. We were joined by a friend of David’s, a man named Theo. I liked him immediately for having a name like Theo. He is British and spends about half the year in Thailand. He works as an assistant director on large commercials and some movies. As such, he spent much of his career in Los Angeles where he lived not too far from Ruth. I learned from him that assistant directors are a trade somewhat separate from directors. He spent much of the lunch explaining how it was a normal career progression to go from assistant director to director under the old studio system. But with the coming of the financial industry to the making of motion pictures, directors began to be chosen for their bankability and not for their expertise or creativity. Bankers poison everything. Once again people controlling the money believed they know everything but usually behave like neophyte gamblers.

Theo like millions of others has written a movie script or two that he carries around hoping to find someone to produce it. His most interesting script is about LA in 1948 when the City’s great jazz scene blossomed with the black jazz musicians moving in after the war. A the main character (true story) wins a major motorcycle race and saves the company that produces the vehicles. Between races, he spends time in the Jazz clubs where he falls in love and eventually meets Claude Rains dressed as a french policeman. He then abandons the woman he loves at the coffee shop in Santa Barbara Airport. He and Claude walk off together into the Sonoran Desert and were never seen again.

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

I set off to Paradise by the Sea for a couple of days before returning to the US. The Good/ and sometime bad David and I took off for the beach early one morning. We were driven there by two women friends of David’s who were very much in love with each other. After arriving we checked into the hotel and set off to our respective rooms for naps. That evening the women departed for The Walking Street to troll the lesbian bars. David and I walked to one of my favorite restaurants in Thailand, Cafe Des Amis. Not only is the French food excellent but it is an oasis of western civility. The place is owned by a westerner with the unusual name Blue. His wife is Thai. Her name strangely enough does not rhyme with his. They have an 18 month old son who spends his evenings at the restaurant (easy enough to do since they live in a house at the back of the property). We had dinner with Theo, my British assistant movie director friend and a woman who lives with a mysterious but wealthy english gold and jewel dealer.
DSCN1966
David, LM on the right and the mysterious gold dealers lady friend standing in the street outside of Cafe Des Amis..

Theo and I spent most of the evening happily discussing the golden age of film directing. We commiserated together over the passing of that art form. We also spent some time reminiscing about the a-cappella do-whop singing groups (e,g, Dion and the Belmonts and others) of the 50’s through the early 70’s.

The next morning I woke up somewhat hung over so I stayed in bed until noon when I went for a brief beach walk and then joined the two even more hung over young women for our drive back to BKK. David stayed in Pattaya.

I leave tomorrow for SF and must finish packing and preparation. Although I looked forward to my trip, I have begun to feel sad about leaving.
DSCN1953
LM’s recent efforts to create clothing accessories of no use in Thailand that I will carry in my luggage for disposal in the US. I am her sales rep. So let me know if you want to buy one, or would rather receive it as a gift.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

As some of you may know most of the streets of Bangkok were originally canals that were covered over for use by automobiles. The canals remain, however, a few feet below the surface of the roadway. They are dark, foetid and teaming with rats, snakes and raw sewage. Now and then they get blocked up or something goes wrong with the services that run through them. Then they must be opened and cleaned out a bit. Recently that happened along Sukhumvit, the major street near my apartment. By lifting out the heavy blocks of cement imbedded every 25 feet or so in the sidewalk that afford access the canals the grey greed sludge sluggishly flowing underneath have been exposed. Armies of blue uniformed Burmese and Cambodian immigrants are marched in like chain gang convicts in the southern US. The workers then lower themselves into the water where they stand sometime up to their necks in the foul water in order to reach down and grasp handfuls of mud that they lift up and dump into wheelbarrows stationed on the sidewalks above.

No Thai today would conceive of stooping so low as to this sort of work. These Cambodian and Burmese workers (male and female alike) work as much as 10-12 hours a day. They are considered by most Thais as stupid, lazy, prone to criminality and in Thailand only to secure the generous welfare benefits available in the country.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter 26

Instead following them I made my way across the yard toward the garage. The garage was a separate structure at the far end of the property. It was probably built back when automobiles were a rarity so it looked more like a storage shed and had that same aura of disrepair the residents of the subdivision worked so hard to achieve. Behind the garage a large workshop had been built, probably at about the same time as the original garage. Clarence expanded it significantly. He explained to me one evening that he intended to convert it into a separate house so that his children would have a place of their own to stay in if they were slow to cut the strings that bound them to their parents when they grew up. In the interim he intended to use it as his home office and man cave.

I stood by the door to the building and checked around to see if anyone was looking my way. Satisfied that no one seemed to give a damn about me, I pulled out the end of my shirt and used it to protect against leaving fingerprints as I tried the door to see if it was locked. It was not and I opened it quickly and stepped inside and closed the door.

I stood in a huge room that Clarence had planned as a combined dining room, kitchen and living room. It was littered with construction materials. Parts of the paneling had been completed. In a few places the studs in the wall were still exposed. The kitchen had been mostly finished and awaited installation of the appliances. I contemplated for a moment whether I could avoid leaving foot prints in the dusty floor, decided I could not so I set off anyway across the room toward a doorway opposite that I knew led to a short hall and two bedrooms in the rear.

The door to the first bedroom had not yet been hung so I could see most of it from the hallway. The Insides of that room looked a lot like the room I had just left; bits of construction material, detritus and dust. The second bedroom’s door was in place and closed. I tried to open it but it was locked. I thought about it for a moment and decided my attempts to minimize evidence of my visit was not going to work if I wanted to know what was inside. So, I kicked hard at the area around the doorknob. The flimsy material with which the door was made split under the blow and opened revealing a workroom containing a workbench against the far wall above which a panel of holed fiberboard was fastened on which some tools had been hung. Scattered about were sections of disassembled furniture.

The furniture was made out of thick pieces of darkly stained wood common in South-East Asia. I entered the room and crouched down by what looked like the riser that connected a chair’s seat to its arms. It was round and about two inches in diameter. Into the top was drilled a hole that looked a little more than an inch wide and six deep. The best I could determine about four pieces of furniture had been disassembled. Two heavy dining room arm chairs, a table and a cushioned living room chair. The table legs were much thicker than the chair’s risers and as far as I could tell had similar but larger holes drilled into them. The cushions on the easy chair had been ripped open revealing the white latex stuffing.

I squatted there for several long moments trying to understand what I was seeing. It was not too difficult but I did not want to jump to too many conclusions. I stood up and looked in the waste basket by the workbench. Among the litter were two condoms.

My discoveries seemed to clear up a few things. At least it appeared to confirm my conviction that we were probably dealing with a dope deal gone bad. Still, while moving from a suspicion to a conviction may be considered progress, it was slight indeed. It raised a few other questions in my mind. Not the least of which was why so many hiding places and what was Clarence’s role – mastermind or dupe? And Martin, while I would not have been surprised if he were lying about not knowing what was going on, I still doubted he could be so stupid. For that matter could anyone be stupid enough to ship dope so easily discoverable. It smelled amateurish and Martin was no amateur. Clarence perhaps, but why so many hiding places for what appeared to be a lot of whatever it was? I still did not know what. I guessed it was dope. But it could have been popcorn for all I knew.

I stood there for a while feeling anxiety crawling over me. Not fear per se, but distress that I found myself even more in the middle of something I did not what to be in the middle of. My job had been to attempt to locate some missing people and merchandise. Despite my best efforts to avoid doing so, I seem to have succeeded to some extent. But now I appear to be entwined in the middle of several serious crimes. The burgeoning tendrils of panic crept through me like strangler vines in the jungle enfolding the trees that produced the wood for the furniture strewn about me..

I realized that standing there quaking was not going to enable me to come up with anything allowing me to deal with or hopefully ignore what I had found out so far. I decided it would be best if I left hoping it all either went away or circumstances would force some action or decision on my part that would extricate me from all this.

One of those possible circumstances awaited me outside. Martin had arrived with his sidekick, Chang, They were heading toward the main house. Instead of simply leaving the property and hoping that no one would realize what I had seen and that everything would go away, I felt an uncontrollable urge to stir things up a bit. So, I moved to intercept Martin before he got to the house.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1934: Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act was passed by the US Congress, effectively outlawing marijuana in the country. A few years later HENRY ANSLINGER Director of Federal Bureau of Narcotics at the time explained why he supported criminalizing the growing and use of Hemp.

“Most (users of marijuana) are Negroes, Hispanics. Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from smoking marijuana. This marijuana makes White women want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

(Damn, here I thought smoking dope only got you high, no one told me about the white women before.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

A system along exactly these lines [of ObamaCare] has been operating in Massachusetts since 2006, where it was introduced by a Republican governor. What was his name? Mitt Somethingorother? And no trains have been wrecked so far. The question is whether the Massachusetts success story can be replicated in other states… the answer, so far, is a clear “yes.” In California, insurers came in with bids running significantly below expectations; in New York, it appears that premiums will be cut roughly in half…. Over all, then, health reform will help millions of Americans who were previously either too sick or too poor to get the coverage they needed, and also offer a great deal of reassurance to millions more who currently have insurance but fear losing it….
And the prospect that such a plan might succeed is anathema to a party whose whole philosophy is built around doing just the opposite…. So will Republicans actually take us to the brink? If they do, it will be crucial to understand why they would do such a thing…. Republicans may be willing to risk economic and financial crisis solely in order to deny essential health care and financial security to millions of their fellow Americans. Let’s hear it for their noble cause!”
Paul Krugman: Republican Health Care Panic…

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be The Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen To Use Terror As A Weapon To Try To Shake The Conscience Of The Free World.”

George W Bush

I always thought W bore a striking resemblance to Chauncey Gardener.

“I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

Arnold understood governance about as well as he did domestic relations.

 

“Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
Bill Clinton

Bill as we all know had a few interns under him who I am sure listened to his every word.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
2013_08_Happiness_0
It looks like if you want to be happy move to some city in California or to Vermont or convert to Mormonism. Alas, you will be wretched if you find yourself in the old south or the industrial midwest, except for Kentucky where despite having Mitch McConnell as your Senator appears slightly happier than the rest of the South. Probably because of the hope afforded them by the availability of mass suicides every other Tuesday.

South Dakota is clearly an outlier and has become even more miserable than ever since they learned that North Dakota, the only state more unpleasant to live in than theirs, had all the oil shale and its citizens will now all get rich and move to Florida or California and be happy while they have to continue to suffer through the dismal winters in their hovels on the windswept plains. [This one is for you David. I knew that sooner or later I would find something smarmy to say about your home state.]

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
DSCN1972
Jewelry from Thailand for sale cheap.

Contact my granddaughter Athena.

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

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