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.
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?
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.
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.”
(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
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.”
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.
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.)
“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.