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