“It takes two people to make a deal: a desperate man and a winner.”
Wight, Will. City of Light (The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy: Book #3). Hidden Gnome Publishing.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
1. One day like many others
The curfew remains in effect (10 PM to 6 AM I think). Still no sign in my neighborhood of military or effects of the coup. In the morning I walk past Nana Plaza and through the Arab neighborhood to Foodland my favorite breakfast place (two eggs, 1 strip of bacon, coffee, toast and juice for $2) and then to the health club for my morning swim. I have a new exercise regime. Instead of doing just one more like the personal trainers used to urge that I hated and eventually caused me to quit exercising, I now do one less. I feel much better and happier.
Himself at lunch
After exercise and my massage, I sometimes eat lunch and then go home and lie on the rock hard bed until dinner which I usually eat in my room. Then, about when the curfew starts, I go to sleep.
2. Someplace for old men
I have resumed my morning meetings with the old men (farang’s) at the health club. We sit around on flea infested chairs, read the two local english language newspapers and lie about our past lives.
Today one of the “alters” who lived in Oakland and used to have a tax preparation business in the Bay Area mentioned that he did not think that climate change was caused by humans. “After all,” he added, “think about all the money those scientists are making from government grants to find that humans caused global warming when in fact for the last decade the temperature has remained stable.” When I suggested that one would think that the hydrocarbon industry would have a larger economic interest than these scientists, he responded, “Not true, they are happy to supply natural gas if Obama would only allow the Keystone pipeline to go through.” He was surprised when I told him I thought Keystone was an oil shale pipeline and not a gas line. We agreed not to talk about climate change any more and turned our conversation to other significant political issues of interest to him like why Nancy Pelosi has had so many face lifts and why Joe Biden is so dumb.
3. The most dangerous thing in Bangkok
Bangkok, also known as the City of Angeles, can be a dangerous place, with the occasional military coup, rampant STD, suffocating air pollution, sporadic food poisoning, rats and cobras, corrupt cops and things like that. But by far the greatest danger is its sidewalks and what lies beneath them. Cracked and broken sidewalks that can fracture an ankle of the unwary cover the ancient canals which now serve as the City’s sewers. Often the sidewalk gives way and someone falls into foetid sludge below.
About a month before I arrived an elderly farang (western man) who lived in my apartment block went for a walk. Just outside the apartment the sidewalk collapsed beneath him and he fell through into the muck below. He was taken to the hospital and has not been seen since.
A few days ago a squad of Cambodian and Burmese migrants showed up to clean out those same sewers. They had to jump in to the rat and snake infested water, drag out the mud and mire with their bare hands and deposit it in plastic containers. Since then those containers have been standing lined up at the side or the road waiting for someone to do something with them.
New cover over hole through which the old man fell
4. I hate growing old (version #1273)
For the first time that I can remember, I had a panic attack that lasted throughout the night, robbed me of sleep and, as I lay there alone in by bed, convinced me that my numbered days had ben reduced to single digits. The next day I felt so awful that I could barely make it to breakfast and decided to skip my exercise and return home. I intended to write here how I detested my steadily eroding capabilities due to age.
Alas, when I arrived back at my apartment, I realized that for the last three days or so I had forgotten to take the dozens of pills my doctors require me to take every day and actually was going through various forms of withdrawal the most serious of which was withdrawal from my happy pills.
I don’t always sleep alone. (The monkey is named Douglas. I call the Gorilla, Gorilla)
B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:
Malibu in my mind (continued)
Some background is needed in order to understand the initial story line of the dream. As most of you know there is a sort of a space race by private enterprise to design a reusable space vehicle that would allow very rich people to fly off into the edge of space and return just like those not yet rich people called astronauts. The astronauts are trained and paid by the government (you and I) and perform scientific experiments that may benefit humankind. The rich people of course are unqualified to do anything of the sort except pay for the experience. So they will hire these currently highly trained governmental employees to become space taxi drivers and to forget about benefits for humanity so they, the rich, can have the same experience as the experts with none of the burden of actually doing anything.
Nevertheless, the market being what it is, some entrepreneurs will seek, in the spirit of competition, to offer a somewhat lower cost alternative even if it is something of marginal public benefit. That is where the dream begins. One of these low-cost operations, lets call it Rocket Blue or SouthWest Space Flights decided on an unusual publicity stunt to launch their service. They managed to find 10 people from the Midwest who had never been out of the Midwest or to the coast of California where the launch was to take place. These 10 people were given a free flight on the maiden voyage of the vehicle. They would be accompanied by two real Californians who also knew something about the coast, presumably so they could point out points of interest as the rocket roared off into space.
That is where I come in, I was one of these two even though I am not a real Californian. The other one was none other than Joe Edmiston. I assume that our employers believed Joe and I added a certain cachet to the venture. This is a dream after all.
Anyway the vehicle itself was clearly low-cost, looking less like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than the inside of a leaky wooden boat.
We discovered, as we were settling into our seats, that these 10 accidental tourists were an obnoxious and argumentative lot. Considering that Joe and I are masters of the art of being querulous and unpleasant, the trip began with less than happy camaraderie.
Anyway, off we went into the edge of space. To me the final frontier was somewhat of a disappointment, basic black with stars that did not twinkle but stared malevolently at you like the unthinkingly eyes of a million wolves reflected in the light of the campfire just before they attack. The disk of the earth below all blue, white brown and green has been seen so often in photographs, logos, SF movies and the like that it was hard to work up some element of surprise or awe at the sight.
In any event, we thankfully soon began our descent.
Now as I have repeatedly pointed out, this is a low-cost spaceship operation. As such, instead of designing the vehicle to land on an airport runway upon its return from space as the high price enterprises do, in our case the vehicle deployed a large parachute to hopefully gently deposit us on the ground where several cars and trucks could meet us and return us to where we took off.
This approach is much like that used in those hot air balloon rides. You know, where you get up god-awfully early in the morning while it is still too chilly to be out and about. You are then stuffed into a basket with too many people you do not know while the fire device that inflates the balloon shatters the silence (as well as your eardrums). You take off and float a few hundred feet over supposedly beautiful scenery that you pay little attention to because you are dealing with one or more of: agoraphobia, claustrophobia or vertigo and praying that you do not vomit or fart. You fly for an hour or so and eventually land with a bounce or two in someones back yard or if you’re lucky a park where your transportation is waiting to take you back to where you parked your car, and to warmth.
In our case, we had taken off from Vandenberg and were supposed to land somewhere near the Pismo-Nippomo Dunes. Unfortunately, a strong gust of wind blew us in the opposite direction and we landed in the ocean off Point Dume. Kerplunk! (To be continued)
C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:
For those who are fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden adventure series, his latest Skin Game, the 15th book in the series, is out. In this adventure, Harry, Chicago’s only professional wizard and now the Winter Knight is sent by Queen Mab to steal the Holy Grail from Hades, Lord of the Underworld.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve done without a hitch since the last time I saw you, Dresden. You walk through the door and everything goes to hell.”
“That’s embroidered on my towels, actually,” I said.
“What you are telling me,” she said, “is that you have never shared your life with another over the long term. The closest you have come to it is providing a home and affection for a being which is entirely your subject and in your control.”
“Well, not at bath time…”
“I know you’ve been aching to have your hands on my staff,” I said to Ascher, as Nicodemus examined the altar for himself. I held out my hand. “But I’d rather be the one fondling my tool. Wizards are weird like that.”
Pookie says, “check it out.”
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Don’t mess with Facebook
A day following the announcement by the coup leaders that a commission has been formed to look into Facebook and other social media, the Facebook internet page went down for an hour throughout the nation. The public outcry was so great that the military had to publicly declare that they had nothing to do with it. Who did is still unclear at this time.
2. In general it is the General
A little noted aspect of the current military coup is that the coup several years ago that toppled Thaksin the Terrible, the exiled fugitive prime minister (and pater familias of the recently ousted government) was precipitated by his attempt to replace the military leadership with members of his own class at the nations élite military school from which the army general staff is chosen.
In Thailand the military is effectively independent of any other governing institution in the country. Its general staff is chosen in lock step from the élite military academy. When one class retires the next one takes over.
In previous issues of T&T I warned that until the current military commander retires in September of this year a coup remains a high probability.
In fact, according to reports, the coup was well and secretly planned by the Chief of Staff and a small group of plotters including an outside attorney to occur before September when Thaksin the Terrible’s class was scheduled to take over.
It is important to note that although the coup leaders carefully detained the political leaders of both warring factions more or less equally, within the national police and the military the removals and transfers almost exclusively have been of officers sympathetic to the ousted prime minister.
As it is so often in politics, nothing is precisely as it seems.
Sometime in the 1960’s: How Hillary met Bill at Yale: She got up from her desk, walked over to him, extended her hand, and said, “If you keep looking at me, and I’m going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I’m Hillary Rodham.”
What “Occupy” was all about and what it really wanted:
It wanted those who make the laws to approach them the way that Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism suggested:
“To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers…The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”
“Politics is the fight over which elites rule, not whether.”
Gooserock (Daily Kos)
“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”
William Jennings Bryan at the 1896 Democratic Convention.
I simply do not understand where they get only 475,000 people killed by humans in a year. I would think 475,000 could be done in an ordinary afternoon if we really put our minds to it.
This in a photo of a 1860 drawing of a member of the Camorra a Neapolitan criminal gang. In the 1970’s the fashion style sported by the gangster returned to threaten us all.