TODAY FROM THAILAND AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND CALIFORNIA:
I am sure we all have had days (and perhaps weeks) when things simply do not feel right; where things that annoy you seem greater than they are. The past few days have been like that for me.
I am off to SF until Monday. I move from my nanny occupation to baby sitter. Hayden will not join me in SF as he is being taken to the local boxing match where the boyfriend of someones daughter is fighting (I later learned the boyfriend lost badly). Instead I have been pressed into babysitting my grand-daughter Amanda while her mom is busy elsewhere. I have always assumed that this was more or less a destined role as one grows older. For much of my childhood I was raised by my grandparents. I never thought about whether or not they had better things to do than watch over someone else’s child.
While lying in bed at my son’s apartment I could hear his wife and he arguing loudly as they do every night, It reminded me of when I was a child lying in bed listening to my parents seemingly endless arguments. Neither then nor now did I fear that the arguments might end in violence, instead the sense of impotence and futility that I could do anything about them kept me awake. Perhaps I could have done something, but I did not.
B. THAI OBSERVATIONS:
Thinglish: Modern Thai slang
“O” means OK in Thinglish. Apparently OK is not short enough for Thais.
Another highly popular new Thai slang word is fin. It is not a fish winglike organ. In Thinglish slang “fin” often means to “have an orgasmic experience” when you “finish”. Younger Thais must be a very happy, orgasmic bunch as they seem to feel “fin” in the most mundane of activities, from eating a piece of cake or watching a TV show, to enjoying a new cool gadget. The other oft-quoted word origin is “finale,” suggesting a “climax” in the final episode of a show.
From, A Woman Talks
Over two decades ago I had the opportunity to manage a governmental entity that among other things was charged with resolving conflicts between development, community and environmental concerns. We developed a process, relatively novel at the time, encouraging those involved or concerned (later to be called “stakeholders”) to solve their disagreements among themselves.
The process required a team of technicians that could immediately turn a suggestion into a visual representation. This included someone capable of converting the discussions as they occurred into visual and organized notes for all to see. It also included a compendium of the financial and fiscal resources currently available thus forcing the participants to consider the same type of tradeoffs government and private interests must make in deciding what can be done and how long will it take. Finally it required an entity, in this case our agency, who could more or less on the spot make commitments to carry out at least initial elements of the agreed upon program.
What surprised me the most was not that we were successful in almost all cases, as we were, but that despite the heated rhetoric expressed before regulatory or legislative bodies, or in the media the disagreements were so often so slight.
Although conflict resolution techniques and design charrettes continue to be used almost everywhere, our particular intensive program eventually fell into disuse. That was because the urban areas included in our jurisdiction were limited in number and once the specific issues in conflict were resolved in these communities they remained so for a decade or longer. Also the process was management and personnel intensive and inevitably such activities in any organization eventually are replaced by a more procedural and careerist focus.
Fast forward to today, modern communications technology and social networking appears to be transforming almost everything we do, from how and where we work to how we entertain ourselves and socialize.
In community and urban development we now have all the information we could want at our fingertips although not necessarily organized and usable. A simple internet research shows that we have a plethora online communities dedicated to community action of one kind or another. Yet what happens when these online communities conflict with one another? As anyone who has actually been involved in assisting in resolving significant conflicts, good intentions and talking things out are not enough. Not only must thoughts and ideas be converted into a communications medium so that each participant has the same understanding as everyone else, but immediate unbiased response on the technical facts must be available if the enthusiasm and commitment to the process is not to wither and die waiting for it. Finally the hard facts of the limits must be available in a usable form to the participants.
Social media, in regard to community planning provides an advanced medium for sharing of information and ideas and encouraging coöperation and should the participants agree collective action. However, before collective action can occur, especially for something a complex and contentious as community planning the most difficult form of group or collective action is resolving those conflicts that more often than not are the reason for undertaking the collaborative planning process in the first place.
Modern communications technology and social networks offer the promise of real resolution of community conflicts. Nevertheless, it remains a promise that needs to be addressed.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.
Detritus 35 years later (PART II):
POINT CABRILLO LIGHT HOUSE
In the nineteenth century the US, as well as most other industrializing countries in the world embarked, on a massive program of lighthouse construction. Although they aided somewhat in navigation, the main purpose of lighthouses was to reduce insurance costs for shipping (a welfare program for shippers) and as a side effect save the lives of a few sailors.
As a result, in the US at least, was the building of edifices as architecturally distinctive as those picturesque european castles built after gun powder rendered their predecessors obsolete.
By the 1970s communication and navigation technology had made lighthouses outmoded. Plans were made to begin tearing them down and using the lands on which they were situated for what was euphemistically called, “more productive uses.” In many cases it meant high cost housing for those with the wherewithal to live someplace no sensible person would.
Since the US at that time was a society wealthy enough to provide options to the human need to devour its resources in order to survive, organizations sprung up to protect these structures for their historic and esthetic values. Sentiment’s with which I heartily agreed. As a result, the Conservancy during my tenure set up a program to preserve these buildings along the California coast.
Since the Conservancy’s mandate included promoting public access to the coast, its program included opening these lighthouses and the lands surrounding them to the public and converting any associated structures (usually the Coast Guard light keepers residences) to low-cost hostels so as to provide lower cost overnight facilities to those unable to afford the usually higher cost visitor serving accommodations in the area or to serve specialized travelers such as hikers and bicyclists; thereby attempting to provide access for as many segments of the population as we could.
While I served as the Conservancy’s Executive Officer, the program assisted in preserving most of those lighthouses in California slated for closing.
Point Cabrillo was one of the first. It was located on over 300 acres of land covering the entirety of a large headland jutting out into the Pacific Ocean.
At comment on planning for this section of the California coast:
The first thing to recognize is that we often are talking about finite resources. In Mendocino there are only a limited number of coastal headlands along the coast. The mistake most land use regulators make is to assume the resources they are trying to protect are infinite in extent and the battle to preserve them never-ending . As a result they often propose such rules as “Coastal headlands shall be protected from adverse development and where possible…, etc.” Such policies generally neither protect nor preserve these areas in the long run since they are usually completely dependent on whether of not the economic development value of the parcels in question is significant enough to attract an excess of large well-funded developers competing to build on the parcel in question, or on the vagaries of changes in political winds. (In politics as in business and perhaps life itself, it usually comes down to a question of ROI)
By removing the most visually sensitive of these headland resources from the play of economic and political forces, what development potential there is would be redirected into the easier to regulate more forested areas inland and in the ravines and valleys between the headlands.
In addition to containing the lighthouse, this parcel (The Cabrillo Headlands) encompassed one of the larger and more significant headlands along this area of the coast.
(To be continued)
B. AD 325: Jesus becomes God
The Council of Nicaea:
By a vote of 161 to 157, the surviving attendees at the Council declared that Jesus was God.
Wow, I guess it is true that every vote matters. If just three votes had switched Jesus would have remained a carpenter and we may have elected a Republican as God. Don’t forget to vote.
A. Pookie’s puerile epigrams:
Scientists tell us we know nothing but only think we do.
Religious leaders tell us we know nothing, but someone who we will never meet knows everything.
Politicians tell us that they know and we don’t.
Business people tell us, if it cannot be bought and sold it is crap.
1. All you ever need to know about elections:
Democrats exaggerate. Republicans lie.
Whatever it is, it is neither as good nor as bad as a Democrat says it is. Whatever a Republican says it is, one can be reasonably confident it actually is the exact opposite.
Although this is a partisan political piece the underlying facts are accurate. What this tells me however, is that although it may be true Republicans are dumber than Democrats (see below), just because you are smart does not mean you will not act like an idiot and against what you know. It is sort of like the supposedly genius novelist that destroys his mind with alcohol.
1. The Books of Bokonon: Excerpts from the Sixth Book
[ This book “is devoted to pain, in particular to tortures inflicted by men on men”. ]
If I am ever put to death on the hook, expect a very human performance.
In any case, there’s bound to be much crying.
But the oubliette alone will let you think while dying.
2. Favorite quotes from Bokonon
Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.
It is never a mistake to say good-bye.
A lover’s a liar,
To himself he lies,
The truthful are loveless,
Like oysters their eyes!
God never wrote a good play in his life.
E. Testosterone Chronicles (penis file):
Relative to its size, a male water boatman (an insect about three-quarters of an inch in size) is the loudest animal on Earth. By rubbing their penis against their abdomen in an act called ‘stridulation,’ they can generate sound of up to 99dB. That’s louder than a jack hammer or train whistle. Luckily for us (as at this level sound can damage human hearing) the sound is dissipated by water and humans can’t usually hear the melodic sounds of water boatman rubbing their penises.
Do human water boatmen… you know the rest?
F. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
Ruth, in commenting on my assertion that the NAZI’s during the 1930s attempted to solve their unemployment problem by simply sending woman who were working back home, wrote:
“May I remind you that the US did the same thing when the men came home from WWII. Some women got fired and others became fodder for the household appliance and the crinoline industries–until Betty Friedan came along.”
I stand corrected and apologize.
It should be pointed out that both Germany and the US ultimately solved their respective employment problems by sending their young men off to die shooting each other.
I guess the war on women is just part of the ongoing wars on the young, the old, the poor, the infirm and those we do not like for some reason. I suppose the question is, who is it that wants these wars and why?
Note: Huffington Post reports a study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on IQ tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood.
For example, among the American sample, those who identify themselves as “very liberal” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 106.4, whereas those who identify themselves as “very conservative” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 94.8.
Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology, the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience.
Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Dodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.
I think the study is nonsense. As was proven in Germany in the 1930s and in many other cases, smart but immoral people seeking power and wealth know full well how to appeal to ill-informed people in order to achieve their own ends. They also know, and other studies demonstrate this, that these same stupid people will believe that they thought it up all by themselves. This is why scapegoating so often works.
How do you really know who these people are that seek to gain power by these means? Not by whom they hate (we all do this to some extent), nor if they believe in supply side or demand (wrong though the supplysiders may be) or even at what point they believe a fetus becomes human, but whether they attack education, science and learning.