Monthly Archives: May 2015

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pepe 0003. (October 21, 2014)

 
Destiny never gets there before you do. So, there’s no need to rush.”
Pookie...

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I was very pleased with the number of people who wished me a Happy Birthday on my 75th birthday. For some reason it was more important to me on this birthday than in the past when I preferred not to be reminded of the passage of time.

My daughter surprised me with a trip to DC either over the Christmas holidays or during the Cherry Blossom festival. I am inclined to choose Cherry Blossom time. I suspect Washington will be deep into the polar vortex in December.

Here in BKK I spent my birthday more or less like any other day; breakfast than swimming and so on. While swimming I felt anxious about returning to the apartment and getting back to all the things I had to do. I realized I have been experiencing this anxiety for couple of years now. It was much like I was still working and worried about getting back to the office. So I decided to break the habit and instead of rushing back and grabbing a quick lunch from the fridge, I treated myself to a long leisurely lunch and another pleasant meal at dinner. The next morning I woke up with severe food poisoning and spent much of the day at hospital wishing I were dead.

I was well by the following day and had an enjoyable lunch with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver swapping stories of Key West and the Caribbean. He was involved in the race to find the sunken treasure ship Atocha. His team lost to Mel Fisher. They did manage, however, to turn up some relics of far less value.

I get the impression that he longs to go back to the Caribbean, but feels he is trapped here in SE Asia for either lack of money or fear of arrest if he returns.
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When LM cleans up my apt., she refuses to kill any insects she finds crawling around the floor because she is Buddhist. Instead she sweeps those she finds out on to the balcony. Where they go from there is anyones guess.

I have ants that parade up and down (or down and up – one never knows with ants) the walls along corners or grout lines. She says I should not harm them because as long as I do not leave food around or crumbs in my bed, they will not bother me.

Now and then I lie on my bed and watch them scurry along the corner of the room in their eternal rush to work. Their industry annoys me. I have made a deal with them in my mind. As long as they stay in line, I will honor LM’s ethical concerns and they will remain unharmed but should even one step out he will feel my fury. After all I am the all-powerful dictator of my room – at least sometimes.
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Last night LM brought home fried grubs for me to eat as a treat. I refused. She said that at first she was hesitant to eat them but after  trying then she found them so good they became habit-forming. I still refused.
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Today after swimming the sky filled with black clouds turning the City as dark as night, The sky erupted drowning everything in a solid sheet of water. After about three hours of Sturm and Drang it ended leaving the sky bright with sun, the streets flooded and the temperatures as mind numbing as ever. For a few hours, however, the air seemed washed clean of the ever-present dirt and grime.

As I walked back to the apartment, I found that Soi Nana was flooded. This was the first time that I seen like that, although I am sure it had done so many times before. I hoped by walking on the higher portions of the sidewalks I could avoid wading through the gunk. No such luck.
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B. PHOTOS FROM THE HOOD:

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The migrant worker housing beside my apartment showing the large cisterns used for community bathing.

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A Hostel on my block made from old shipping crates.

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A bird in a bamboo cage just outside the door to my building, one of several cages. Maybe Yeates knows what kind of bird it is.

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The small restaurant across the street from the apartment where LM buys my Thai omelets.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Every once in a while I troll through back issues of T&T and come up with something in them that strikes my fancy. The following is from 2012:

War Movies

Yesterday I watched on television the movies Patton, Midway and Apocalypse Now. A television network was having a festival of war movies. While watching for about 8 hours, I began to notice something about the commercials that struck me as strange. Of the over 200 commercials presented during that time, only one was for an American produced manufactured item. All the rest were either ads for financial products, food products, stores that stocked mostly foreign manufactured goods, various entertainment efforts, a few communication companies and four ads for foreign produced automobiles.

War movies are mostly guy things. They are made for men and concerned with men doing men things. Killing each other in great numbers is a man thing. Crying in anguish over the death of a comrade killed by one of the survivors of those he and his comrade have just attempted to slaughter is another guy thing.

Women in war movies are rare. They appear only in an attempt to prove that in war movies the men are not, as most sensible people suspect, sleeping with each other.

At least one or two men in the war movies sleep with something that looks, even if it does not act, like a woman. These are generally portrayed as creatures whose minds are smaller than their vaginas. Although we are often exposed in the movies to the limits of their minds, we never actually see their vaginas. The men in the movies pretend their vaginas do not exist. One can surmise however that they must be robust for the men to be so interested in these insipid creatures during their inevitably brief appearances. It is either that or their shoes are too tight.

Apocalypse Now is the ultimate man’s movie. The plot is about a love affair between two men — a psychopathic, depressed, serial murderer and substance abuser who goes in search of another psychopathic, depressed serial killer (but alas not a substance abuser) and kills him; a war movie‘s version of orgasm.

Another notable feature of the movie is its emphasis on male speech patterns, or man-talk. Speech to a man is not an invitation to a dialog as it is with women but the declaration, in a simple laconic statement, of their world view at the moment as uncontested fact — even if no one else either agrees or has any idea what he is talking about.

For example, The Dennis Hopper character, a war photographer and to whom Captain Willard had just manly warned “You take my picture again I am going to kill you,”  asks Willard, who is tied up in a cage (SM alert), “Why would a nice guy like you want to kill a genius?”

Later he announces:

“The man is clear in his mind but his soul is mad.”

Robert Duvall portraying the surfing obsessed battlefield commander who loves waking up with the smell of napalm tickling his nostrils, after observing archly that “Charlie don’t surf,” comments:

“This war is run by four star clowns who are giving away the whole circus.”

Upon coming upon a platoon guarding a bridge at night during a particularly psychedelic fire-fight, Willard asks a one of the stoned platoon members, “Soldier who is in charge here?”  The soldier responds, “Ain’t you?”

“The horror. The horror.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

October 15: Feast Days and Holidays.
Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Hedwig of Silesia, Saint Thecla of Kitzingen. The Equirria or October equus, sacrifice of a horse to Mars. (Roman Empire). Global Hand-washing Day (International). Earliest day on which Sweetest Day can fall, while October 21 is the latest; celebrated on the third Saturday in October. (Great Lakes Region). White Cane Safety Day (United States).

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wants distribution of income to resemble the period from 1949 to 1979 rather than the period from 1980 to the present.
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B. Observations by Carroll Quigley:

“My experience and study of the destruction of civilizations and of the collapse of great empires has convinced me that empires and civilizations do not collapse because of deficiencies on the military or the political levels. The Roman army never met an army that was better than it was. But the Roman army could not be sustained when all these things had collapsed and no one cared. No one wanted to serve, no one wanted to pay taxes, no one cared.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”

(Are we repeating the Roman tragedy here in America, that we no longer care to pay taxes or serve because we are afraid it may benefit someone we do not like or fear?)

C. The Wit and Wisdom of Trenz Pruca:

On the Meaning of Words:

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah.”
http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Survival has never been a right… Survival has always been a matter of hard-earned elitism.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

“It’s a crying shame, yeah, so have a cry, feel ashamed and get over it. The rest of the week is coming on hard and its brakes are shot to hell.”
Burke, Declan. Eightball Boogie.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Claude Monet

 

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 PaPa Joe 0003 (October 15, 2014)

“Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.”

(Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human)

“Those periods in history when government disappears in favor of private organizations are usually called, ‘Dark Ages.’”
Trenz Pruca

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. CONTEMPLATING MY 75TH BIRTHDAY:

Today is my 75th birthday, at least here in BKK. It will not be so in NY where I was born until sometime tonight.

I spent the morning during my walk to breakfast, at breakfast, while swimming and at lunch, running through my mind various self-justifying stories about what the day means to me. I was going to write them down here because I thought some of them were pretty good. But, I’ll save you that pleasure. What really interests me today is Samuel Beckett. You know André the Giant’s friend who was so obsessed with cricket, – that Sam Beckett. (See Factoids below)

Well, Sam wrote a lot of books and plays when he was not driving André around or watching cricket matches. One novel in particular always fascinated me. It was about someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along until he bumps into something. This was all that the novel was about, all three hundred or so pages of it. I do not remember the name of the book. You can look it up.

Now, I know Beckett intended his story to explore solipsism (you can look that up too), a philosophy or view of life that fascinated him. But he was a storyteller and as I have pointed out previously one can never trust a storyteller, they always lie. The lies aside, what always interested me was that he was also wrong.

You see, even someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something is still a blood sack with a bunch of electrons floating around between neurons that have gathered from the environment various electrical and other forces, formed them into an image and then tells the blood sack what it is he is experiencing. Now, the deaf, dumb and blind someone without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along has no idea whether what he is being told is the truth or not. He may, actually, be floating through the air above a beautiful verdant landscape for all he knows. Something may be amiss among the neurons or they may just be playing with him. In fact, if he believes he is deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something, something is probably very wrong with his neurological machinery. Even if, in fact, he is deaf dumb and blind and slithering face down through a puddle of mud he may either panic and despair or laugh at the absurdity of it all. And, if the latter, he could then utter Reilly’s famous observation, “what a revolting development this is.”

Which brings me back to my 75th birthday. If you know who Reilly is, than you are probably at least as old as I am, and you know, as I do, that our “Use by” date is rapidly approaching.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have spent most of my recent spare time (spare time for me is time not spent in eating, exercising, walking about, sleeping and staring off into the distance) editing Quigley’s book “Weapons Systems and Political Stability” and preparing “Red Dawn” for publication. On the Quigley book, I have edited 500 out of some 1300 pages. After I complete the edits, mostly typo’s, paragraphing and some revising where the text has been garbled, I will then re-review it, put in some additional headings, decide how to handle the missing ending and write my forward. On “Red Dawn” I need to go back over it for continuity and write-up the final chapters.

I just went back over “Red Dawn” and found all my edits and formatting somehow disappeared. I don’t know why. Ugh..five weeks work wasted.

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Today was one of BKK’s hot stifling days.

I walked by the migrant worker housing site next to my apartment. It houses migrants from Cambodia or Burma, I do not know which. The homes are made of corrugated metal. There are two floors of flats with a person or family sharing a room, There is electricity to the rooms but no water.
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In the morning and the evening the residents gather beside two large rectangular concrete cisterns filled by a garden hose from somewhere. Here they bath in that wonderful way that they do, soaping, washing and drying themselves all the while wrapped in large colorful cloths and never showing their nakedness. Most of them are in their late teens or twenties, the men all boyishly handsome and the women slender and darkly beautiful. There are a lot of smiles but very little laughter.

It always strikes me as a beautiful and poignant scene as I walk by. I would like to take a photograph, but the Thais tell me it would be impolite and I am too shy to ask permission.

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

“For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures to be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years every justification of those structures have been developed by men to benefit men.”
Trenz Pruca

We often hear the slogan “The War on Women,” bandied about by those, on one side or the other, seeking political advantage. In fact, this war on women has been going on for over at least 5000 years. What we have now in politics in the United States and going on in the Near and Middle East is not so much a “War On Women” but a “War About Women.” Like it or not, those that continue to oppose the march of women to equality and more are faced with resisting one of the great turning points of human history.

About 10,000 years or so ago the Neolithic agricultural revolution got under-weigh. This new culture was unusual because it was centered on women. Women tilled the crops while men engaged in perfunctory hunting and caring for the few domestic animals available. The economic system, social system and the intellectual system for production of crops and production of children (workers) were considered under women’s control. This culture as far as we know was relatively peaceful. Derived from Mesolithic gatherers, it lacked the tradition of masculine violence and the need for war. These societies lasted for about 6000 years.

Eventually new technologies (e.g., the plow and animal husbandry) reduced the economic and social dominance of women and more warlike masculine hunting cultures ultimately moved in. Finally by about 3000 B.C, they had reduced women to the status of more or less chattel. A status that has lasted almost until the dawn of this century.

During the 1950’s or so, due to their greater longevity, wealth (not income) fell into the hands of women such that by some measures women held a greater overall percentage of the nation’s wealth than men. This did not help women much because that wealth was usually managed by men. Only a very few women had been able secure income and social status independent of male largesse.

Since then, technology, ideology and society have changed so that women have been able challenge dominance of men and begin to amass their own power and wealth as well as develop their own ideology. For example: in the conduct of war, because of computerization of many weapons systems, women have become as good as men in the science of killing and often better. In Kobane for example, the co-commander of the Kurdish forces defending the town from the forces of ISIL is a woman. Should they succeed in defeating the besiegers they may change the face of Near and Middle East society forever.

Also, in schools women are excelling and graduating in ever larger majorities. Even in such occupations that revel in male aggressiveness like derivative fund management, studies have shown that women run derivative funds substantially outperformed male run ones. To describe women as more risk averse than men as some studies do is unfair. It would be more accurate to say that they are simply less prone to periods insane irresponsibility than men.

Thus, about two decades ago after steady advancement of women since the 1940’s, the War About Women began in earnest. For example, I believe women’s excelling in school and scholarship encouraged, in part, the attack on schooling by the male dominated traditional religious denominations and conservative organizations.

In the Near and Middle East, it was not simply replacement of burka’s with Western dress, but the realization that these free and educated women inevitably would move into positions of economic independence and ultimately seek political power that they began to assume in the West that drove the reactionary mullah’s into a frenzy.

What is happening in the US and in the Near and Middle East is all about women and their destiny. Women stand at the threshold of real power, economic, social and intellectual and many men are afraid.

In the US the 2012 election was to a great extent about the future of lower middle and lower class white male privilege. 2014 is the first American election in which the issue is all about the attempts to halt and reverse the emerging and inevitable power of women.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

A. Samuel Beckett Used to Drive André the Giant to School. All They Talked About Was Cricket.

B. 2013: During all of 2013 there were 9,137 scientific peer-reviewed articles published regarding anthropogenic climate change (human caused global warming). Of those 9,137 articles only one denied it exists. That lone scientist lives in Russia. Almost 50% of Americans and Congressional Republicans as well as Fox News passionately believes that one Russian scientist is correct. All the rest of the scientists they are convinced are part of a massive conspiracy by the solar power industry and the Muslim Brotherhood to weaken America.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…the three basic foundations of political democracy. These three bases are (1) that men are relatively equal in factual power; (2) that men have relatively equal access to the information needed to make a government’s decisions; and (3) that men have a psychological readiness to accept majority rule in return for those civil rights which will allow any minority to work to build itself up to become a majority.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Unless these three criteria are met, voting, even where the franchise is broad, does not mean a Democracy exists. And, without #3 voting is no more than a symbolic exercise.

TODAY’S CHART:
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I find this map fascinating for some reason.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Women at work. 1930.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Papa Joe 0003 (October 10, 2013)

“In my dealings with others, I always try to treat them better in person than I treat them in my mind.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthday Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Today was the first day I felt well since I arrived. I got up believing that things could not be better – a bad sign since by definition everything from that moment on had to be worse.

I sprang from my bed and began to exercise vigorously before the mirror. I have a theory that the more ridiculous your exercise movements appear, the better they are for you. Since I was exercising starkers that morning, they appeared ridiculous indeed. (Note: “starkers” means stark raving mad or stark naked or both.)

I left the apartment and headed off to breakfast. The sun was shining and sky was a clear blue. It was just warm enough to encourage a thin-film of sweat, not the mind numbing heat of a Bangkok afternoon.
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Street scene along the way to the health club.

As I walked along Soi Nana, I saw an ambulance pull over with – Heart Attack Emergency Response Unit – painted on its sides. It seemed that they were lost. One of the technicians leaned out of the window to ask directions from two passers-by. Each gave a different route. A lengthy discussion ensued. I listened for a while and then moved on leaving them to eventually find their way to the, I am sure, now deceased heart attack victim.

After breakfast, I went to the health club and paid the exorbitant $50 fee for one month’s membership in the decrepit facility. I complained and requested a discount. They refused but offered me free use of a locker for the month provided I supply my own lock.

After my swim, I walked with the old sailor/deep-sea diver back to his hotel which was on the way to my apartment. We talked about drugs and alcohol, their benefits and drawbacks. I found out that he had not been to the airport to see anyone off, but to meet me on my arrival. He said he knew how it was for someone to arrive alone at an airport after a long flight with no one to meet him.

I then continued on to my apartment and took a nap.

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On the fourth floor of the building in the photo is my apartment. It’s not much but I call it home. Under the small tree every evening one or two families, with infants in hammocks, roll out reed mats and have dinner together. I makes me very happy to see them.

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After breakfast at Foodland, on my way to the health club, I usually walk through a very dark alleyway I refer to as “The Tunnel.” It is about four feet wide with shops on each side and extends and entire block. Since my last visit here, several of the massage parlors, pachinko shops and the like have been converted to tiny bars. These bars are open and lively at 8 AM. Light in the alley is provided by the opening at each end, some dim fluorescence here and there and a few colored lights on the beer advertisements in the bars. As I walk through, I can barely make out the outline’s of women’s shapes and their teeth when they smile. The men, mostly westerners, eye me warily as though I may be a threat or something.

Oh, and of course there are the bodies – usually one or two – not dead I think, but sleeping or sleeping it off. They allow me to indulge in my Augustinian arrogance. You know, “There but for…”, well not Grace or God certainly. How about, “there but for the invisible hand and the vagaries of fortune go I.” That great invisible hand and luck could just as well exalt me to physical comfort and existential anguish, or drop me unconscious in the gutter. All praise the hand of the Lord.

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Most people walking past The Tunnel would think it dangerous, I imagine. But I have been walking through here for years now and the only things that have happened to me have been, now or then receiving a slap on the back by a guy inviting me for a drink or a woman emerging from the darkness, pressing her body against mine and saying “Welcome mister” or, “Hello Pa Pa.”

With a smile I politely turn them down — not because I have an ethical or moral objection to what they are offering but because underneath it all, I’m a snob.

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This is the entrance to Foodland. Inside is a supermarket, pharmacy and bank. Also, it contains a small counter service café where I eat my breakfast most days. For the price, I consider it one of BKK’s best restaurants.

As long as I am doing show and tell on my regular eating establishments, the following photo shows the sidewalk café where I often eat lunch.
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And this is where I eat dinner a lot. The waitress is a ladyboy with the body of a NFL linebacker who entwines orchids in her thick black hair and wears rhinestone encrusted platform high-heels.
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During my walks I often encounter the feral urban fauna of the City. Pigeons of course, but rarely on the street, too dangerous. I can, however, hear them cooing in the trees. Those little brown birds found in most cities flock around, wrens, starlings or something. Yeates would know. The ones in BKK look a bit greasy. The house next door to my apt has several large aviaries by the road containing Parrots that make a racket at certain times of the day.
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The mangy soi dogs don’t approach you as dogs usually do looking for a handout or a sniff of your crotch, but silently slink away if you pass too close to them. Cats, mean looking creatures, peek out at you from dark places or sun themselves on tiny unreachable ledges. Then, of course, there are the rats that scurry beneath your feet from crevice to hole as you walk by. Despite their meekness, I suspect the rats are the most sociable of the lot. They are certainly the most numerous.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

“One of the benefits of traveling to other societies is that we are free to apply our prejudices when we observe their culture.”
Trenz Pruca

1. Food exports

Today the Bangkok Post reported that Thailand has become the world’s greatest exporter of insects for food with most of it going to the US. Thailand has over 20,000 “insect” farms.

Among the many questions I have is, who is buying this food? I have not seen packages of Genuine Imported Thai Insects on the shelves of Safeway or Raley’s — Whole Foods perhaps?

Another question is why do we have to import insects? Don’t we have enough of our own? Do Thai insects taste better than American ones?

2. Tourist murder solved?

A few weeks ago two tourists were killed in Thailand. There were no suspects. About two days ago the Thai tourist industry announced that violence against tourist hurts the industry. Yesterday the Thai police continued their remarkable success in solving all high-profile crimes by announcing they apprehended the murderers of the two tourists – two Burmese immigrant teenagers who confessed to the crime.

And yes, not even the Thais believe it.

3. Hell, a Family Resort.

The newspapers today also reported that the City Fathers of Pattaya (sometimes referred to as “The Outskirts of Hell”) announced their intention to turn the City into a “family resort” notwithstanding its reputation for sex of all varieties, crime and corruption. Pattaya is owned by the Thai counterparts to the same type of organization that created Sin City in the Nevada desert and now also wants to convert it to a Family Resort. Pattaya which experiences the mostly unreported death of a westerner or tourist almost every week is mobbed up from the soles of the jack-boots of the lowest policeman to the toupee adorning the mayor’s head.

Of course I exaggerate, Pattaya cops do not wear jack-boots and I haven’t the slightest idea if the mayor even owns a toupee.

4. Eye of the beholder.

The military has set up a committee to draft a new Constitution for Thailand, a central element of which would attempt to eliminate corruption. By law the members of the committee have to disclose their wealth. To probably no ones surprise, among the wealthiest and by far the largest in number of millionaires on the committee are the generals appointed to sit on it. How you might ask does a public employee, which generals are, become millionaires while on the job?

Since, they are not required to disclose the sources of their income, one can be reasonably sure that whatever the regulations to control official corruption may be, they will not apply to the military. I am sure the generals believe that the sources of their wealth are natural, the result or operation of a gracious and beneficent invisible hand, and therefore necessary for a healthy national economy.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In most periods of human history, exploitation of natural resources to satisfy human needs could be achieved with less expenditure of energy and with less danger, even in less desirable territories. In other words, war has never been a rational solution for obtaining resources to satisfy man’s material needs. …
…But of course, men have never been rational. They are fully capable of believing anything and of adopting any kind of social organization or social goals, so that warfare became at least a minor part of life in most societies.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Me standing before the entrance to the site of the Temple of Diana in Nemi, Italy (1997). I had spent almost 30 years, on and off, searching for it and found it on this trip when Ruth pointed it out the first time we passed by. Of course, as usual in Italy, the site was closed that day and no explanation given.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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