Monthly Archives: April 2016

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Mopey 0005 (January 23, 2016)

“He always liked laundromats. They’re like waiting rooms for people who never travel.”
—Zoran Drvenkar, Sorry.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUTH

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

(El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life. One would think from my comments that I dislike it here. On the contrary, someone once said that living east of the San Diego Freeway in Los Angeles is a form of death; at my age living here in the golden hills is like death’s minor leagues — I get to practice before moving up to the big time.)

The sun broke through for part of the day. So, I decided to go swimming for the first time since my accident. It made me happy.
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On Sunday, I went to see Revenant. I liked it — Over two hours of Leo DiCaprio in agony (Leo Agonistes). Leo biting the head off a live fish and eating it; Leo eating a raw buffalo liver; Leo mauled by a bear; Leo sleeping naked inside the body of a dead horse; Leo’s body sewn up like a torn pair of jeans; Leo freezing in snow and icy water; Leo falling off a cliff; Leo swept away down a raging river; Leo frothing at the mouth; Leo covered in his own blood; Leo covered in animal’s blood. Leo covered other people’s blood; Leo shot; Leo knifed; Leo choked and so on. Oh, there was also a story, something about Native Americans, sons, wives who float in the air and disappear, and revenge on white men who never bathe. There was a lot of snow too. And subtitles. Leo deserves and Academy Award — not for acting but for surviving. Don’t miss it you will never forget it — even if you want to.

For dinner this evening, HRM decided to make pizza for his dinner. He made the dough, kneaded it, assembled the toppings and cooked it. The pizza tasted very good — certainly a lot better than Round Table or Mountain Mike’s.
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On Wednesday, I went to the DMV office to register my new automobile. About an hour and a half into my wait, sitting there on the hard plastic chair staring at the drop ceiling and listening to the seductive automated voice calling out the numbers like she was lying there next to me whispering into my ear, “B, zero, two seven go to window number nine,” I realized that I was as content as I could be anywhere. I guess I was experiencing satori — a spiritual awakening. I imagined that many of the great religions were created in DMV offices. The bible tells us that Jesus disappeared from public view until he began his ministry when he was 30. I suspect, he spent that time quietly sitting in a DMC office believing that the “meek shall inherit the earth.” Buddha while waiting five hours to renew his driver’s license persuaded himself that it was only tolerable if, in fact, it was not real. While Mohammed, on leaving the DMZ office, decided to conquer all the worlds DMV offices by promising his followers that if they died in the effort they would find themselves alone in a DMV office with 72 virgins behind the counter. Did you know that the biblical heaven and Hell are, in fact, DMV offices? In Heaven, you sit on hard plastic seats staring at the golden ones behind the counter, the saints and the angels, waiting for your number to be called and when it is called you get to approach the counter and get your license renewed by one of the golden ones after which you get to go back to your seat and wait for your number to be called again. Hell is just another DMV office except there are no seats, the heat is turned up to the highest level and your number is never called.

The person I bought the car from was a law enforcement officer. He insisted on putting a lower sale price on the transfer documents in order to save some money on Taxes. I, a one-time officer of the court in a profession with a strict code of ethics, did not object because I told myself I did not want to offend him. So I took full advantage of the reduced registration fee.

After returning home from the DMV office, I learned my 98-year-old mother had fallen while getting out of bed. I was pretty convinced she fell because she intended to run away from the nursing facility in order to return home to cook dinner for me and my sister. Anyway, they quickly and properly swept her off to the hospital for a CT scan and other tests — all of which were negative. She was returned to the nursing home where I am sure she demanded to be allowed to leave so that she could find a job.

I hope she lives to see her 100th birthday so that she might receive congratulations from Obama or whomever, or Jerry Brown or even Sylvester Stallone. It would make her very happy. She will, however, still insist she needs to go home and cook for her family, find a job and maybe a boyfriend. Functional irascibility is the secret to a long and happy life — well, perhaps not so happy at times.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

National Debt and Deficit.

In the national and candidates debates during this election year, as in all other presidential years, the words “debt” and “deficit” are thrown about in order to justify one’s political position or criticize an opponent’s. Actually, it is usually a smoke screen since historically (at least since WWII) both parties run similar annual budget deficits with Republican administrations since the election of Ronald Reagan running somewhat larger annual budget deficits and both parties showing a somewhat similar growth in the National Debt as a percentage of GDP. The difference between the parties often comes down to what that Budget Deficit goes to pay for. Traditionally, for Republicans generally, it goes to pay for enhanced military development and tax relief for private capital expenditure and formation and higher income individuals with Democrats leaning more toward paying for social programs, public works, and tax relief for consumers and lower income workers.

Recently, I came across some information from the US Treasury Department on the annual US budget deficit, the total National Debt by year, US GDP and US National Debt as a percentage of GDP going back to at least 1929. I was able to cull the following from those spreadsheets.

First some definitions: The Budget Deficit is those government expenditures (including payments on the National Debt) not covered by revenues in a given year. For the most part from a policy standpoint, the annual deficit for any single year tends to be not all that significant except during times of great stress like wars and economic panic. The National Debt is what the Federal Government owes at any given time.

Let’s look at two lists I prepared from US Treasury spreadsheets going back to the end of WWII that I hope will shed a little light on the nature of the political rhetoric.

Percentage increase in total National Government debt by President during his term.

Reagan 186%
Bush 2 101%
Bush 1 54% (4 years)
Obama 53% (7 years)
Ford 47% (3 years)
Carter 43% (4 years)
Nixon 34% (5 years)
Clinton 32%
Johnson 13% (5 Years)
Kennedy 8% (3 years)
Eisenhower 9%
Truman 3% (7 years)

National Debt as a percentage of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product at a President’s final budget.

Obama 106.7% (7 years)
Bush 2 85%
Truman 69.7% (7 years)
Bush 1 60.5% (4 years)
Eisenhower 51.3%
Clinton 56.2%
Reagan 51.4%
49.5% Kennedy (3 years)
35.9% Johnson (5 years)
Nixon 32.6 (5 Years)
Ford 31. 4% (3 years)
Carter 31.3% (4 years)
The second list is probably more important and informative since it relates the National Debt to the size of the economy at the time. While Bush 2 and Obama appear to have the larger percentage, a significant portion of those increases came at the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of Obama’s as they struggled to deal with the Great Recession ($1.1 trillion DEFICIT for the last year of Bush2 and $1.5 trillion DEFICIT for the first year of Obama). It demonstrates how great an economic crisis it was. (A similar spike would appear if these charts continued back to the great depression. Under Roosevelt, the depression and WWII increased the National Debt well over 1000%.) One takeaway is that after WWII, the size of the National Debt as a percentage of GDP decreased through all administrations Republican and Democrat alike until Reagan took office. Since then it has steadily increased except during the Clinton years. The most significant impacts on both Annual Deficits and the National Debt since Reagan took office has been a large reduction in taxes on upper-income individuals, non-earned income, and corporations, funding of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and the Obama stimulus.

Another way of looking at this, and perhaps even more illuminating, is how many percentage points over his predecessor a President increased the National Debt as a percentage of GDP when he left office:

Bush2 28.8
Obama 21.7
Reagan 20.1
Bush1 9.1
Carter -.1
Ford -1.2
Kennedy -1.8
Nixon -3.3
Johnson -13.6
Eisenhower -18.4
Clinton -13.5
The above clearly shows Clinton and Reagan as outliers. The difference between them appears to be almost exclusively their approach to taxes on higher earners and corporations. The list also further demonstrates the massive distortion of governmental finances engendered by the Middle Eastern wars and the Great Recession.

I believe that a national economy works better and the growth of National Debt moderated when a significant portion of public expenditure works its way through the economy from the bottom (like fuel in a furnace) rather than from the top. How that is done should be the basis of public debate (welfare, public works, incentives to work or to hire people, or consumer tax relief and so on).

I have no idea of the ideal size of National Debt a mature nation should carry but suspect it depends on the interest rate on the debt and the ability of the nation to service the debt during times of crisis. That is why I believe Keynes prescription to run budget deficits during times of crisis and surpluses during periods of growth is sound politics and prudent fiscal policy.

Note: It should be pointed out that total US debt as a percentage of GDP from all sectors went from approximately 1.5 times GDP in 1946 to a little less than 4 times GDP today. In 1946, the total US debt-to-GDP ratio was 150%, with two-thirds of that held by the federal government. Since 1946, the federal government’s share of total US debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen from about 2/3 to a little over 1/4. On the other, hand the share of total US Debt as a percentage of GDP of the financial sector, has increased substantially from less than 1% in 1926 to about 28% in 2009 with much of that growth occurring in the private Non-Government backed securities area. Government backed debt part of the financial sector, such as Ginnie Mae etc., has remained a relatively stable while private financial debt has soared from 0% to about 12% of the total US debt as a percentage of GDP. The ratio for households has risen nearly as much, from 10% of total debt as a percentage of GDP to about 24%.

In other words, while federal debt as a portion of the nations economy generally has been falling, private debt has been growing substantially.
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So, what does all this mean? Dammed if I know. I do know however, that those who tells us they do know, usually don’t, and if they do, what they tell us is often a lie.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

The following continues the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY that I began in my previous post.

“In recent years there has been a fair amount of unproductive controversy about the real nature of man and what may be his real human needs. In most cases, these discussions have not got very far because the participants have generally been talking in groups which are already largely in agreement, and they have not been carrying on any real dialogue across lines of basic disagreement. Accordingly, each group has simply rejected the views most antithetical to its own assumptions, with little effort to resolve areas of acute contradiction. There are, however, some points on which there could hardly be much disagreement. These include two basic facts about human life as we see it being lived everywhere. These are:
(1) Each individual is an independent person with a will of his own and capable of making his own decisions; and
(2) Most human needs can be satisfied only by cooperation with other persons.

The interaction of these two fundamental facts forms the basis for most social problems.

If each individual has his own autonomous will making its own decisions, there will inevitably be numerous clashes of conflicting wills. There would be no need to reconcile these clashes, if individuals were able to satisfy their needs as independent individuals. But there are almost no needs, beyond those for space, time, oxygen, and physiological elimination, which can be satisfied by man in isolation. The great mass of human needs, especially those important ones which make men distinctively human, can be satisfied only through cooperative relationships with other humans. As a consequence, it is imperative that men work out patterns of relationships on a cooperative basis which will minimize the conflicts of individual wills and allow their cooperative needs to be satisfied. From these customary cooperative relationships emerge the organizational features of the communities of men which are the fundamental units of social living.”

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions on Cooking:

“BTW, last night I watched the HBO airing of “The Godfather” movies back-to-back-to-back. Afterward, I was jonesin’ in the worst way for pasta marinara ad Scaloppine alla Marsala . . . in Sicily.

Back in 1985, when I was working on the Bolsa Chica LUP “confirmation” stage, I went to lunch with Darlene Frost and several others at North Beach Restaurant in — where else? — the terrific Italian community of North Beach in The City. The marinara had a sweetness I couldn’t identify, and the waiter actually told me how the chef did it. It was pureed carrots, which I’d guessed, but the chef used BABY FOOD carrots . . . and I thought that was brilliant. You can peel, chop, steam, and puree carrots . . . or you can open jars of baby food carrots. I’ve done it that way ever since.

My scaloppine recipe is the result of a dozen years of trying to duplicate the Scaloppine from Giulio’s in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. The secrets are getting the right balance of lemon juice and dry sherry (I’ve found that even a dry Marsala is too overly powerfully nutty), since the sherry flavor breaks down after a few minutes, and sautéing the veal (or chicken breast) in extra virgin olive oil and butter.

I did it for 120 people at a wedding reception years ago when I did catering for fun (and some profit). The wedding planner pulled ALL of my help to do the champagne toast BEFORE dinner, and I was cooking three different kinds of pasta by myself, planning the cooking times of each and getting the amounts done for four lines of diners on two long tables — penne marinara, fettuccine Alfredo, and farfalle in pesto (red, white, and green, of course!). I was cooking like an octopus, but I’d sautéed all of the veal ahead of time, set it aside, then did the reheating at the last minute, since veal toughens if it’s left to simmer too long. It all worked, and I got a bonus of several hundred dollars (it was a pretty elegant reception, as evidenced by their insistence on veal).

BTW, when my daughter had a 16th birthday party for about 60 friends (and their parents — they knew of my cooking reputation!), she wanted the three pastas I’d mentioned above. She was a full-on vegetarian by then, so those three worked great.

Final secret: If Italian sausage is too pricey to use for a large group, or of someone has moral problems with using pork products, I use ground turkey but add some pepper flakes, grind some fennel seed, and add some whole seeds. It tastes just like Italian sausage for a fraction of the price.

Yes, I seriously need to do my new cookbook . . . .”

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I think of myself as mostly a bad man who at times tried to do good and now and then succeeded only to find those successes often were ephemeral in significance and ambiguous in result

D. Today’s Poem:

Buddhist Barbie

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches ‘All is emptiness’
and ‘There is no self.’
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.
Denise Duhamel

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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David laughs it up in Jomtien Beach with a bored LM and photo bomb.

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Joseph 0005 (January 14, 2016)

 

“…art is long and critics are the insects of a day.”
Randall Jarrell

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.

My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.

Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.

Today, following our Sunday morning trip to Denio’s Auction, HRM whipped up some Nutella crepes with bananas.
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HRM is at school, Dick is at work, I have no car, it has been rainy and cold and I sit at home all day with little to do other than wondering if I am serving any function at all here in the Golden Hills other than consuming resources.

On Friday, the first day in a while without rain, after leaving HRM at school, Dick dropped me off at Bella Bru for breakfast. Because of the rain and not having a car, I had not been there in a while. After breakfast, I walked the two and a half miles back home carrying my computer and a bag of groceries. Most of the trees that normally do so have dropped their leaves for winter — except the Zombie Tree (or the Obstinate Oak as I called it a few issues back) still tightly clutches to itself a few leaves as green as springtime. Like many of us, it probably fears the worst.
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On another sunny winter day, I walked down to the newly restored Duck Pond where I sat on a bench and contemplated time, impermanence and sinus headaches.

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Having decided all my weeping and wailing about not having personal transportation was unbecoming an adult, I purchased an automobile. Alas, even though it is an inexpensive used vehicle, due to my strained financial situation, I have been forced to cancel my planned February visit to Thailand. Instead, I will most likely be spending that month mainly visiting with friends and staying a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister and her husband.
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MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Since this is the beginning of the seventh year of T&T, I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:

January 17, 2010: From Thailand.

“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.

Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:

The misspelled Bastards: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.

“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.

“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.

Some coming of age French flick with the usual but much more intelligent teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.

Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/this-and-that-january-17-2010/

January 11, 2011: From Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-january-10-2011/

January 1, 2012: From Thailand.

“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-12-joseph-0001-january-1-2012/

January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.

“I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course, if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or someplace like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they cannot move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes, that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.

Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog, ‘A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?’”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-16-joseph-0002-january-4-2013/

January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.

“I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and I am too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-27-joseph-0003-january-16-2014/

January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.

“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-20-joseph-0004-january-9-2015/

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

170 AD — The Hon Hanshu, a compilation of information regarding the nations of the West, written in China that year, contained the following:

“The king of this country [Da Qin] always wanted to send envoys to the Han, but Anxi (Parthia), wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].

In the ninth Yanxi year [166 CE], during the reign of Emperor Huan, the king of Da Qin (the Roman Empire), Andun (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), sent envoys from beyond the frontiers through Rinan (Commandery on the central Vietnamese coast), to offer elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, and turtle shell. This was the very first time there was [direct] communication [between the two countries]. The tribute brought was neither precious nor rare, raising suspicion that the accounts [of the ‘envoys’] might be exaggerated.”
Hou Hanshu, ch. 118. See TWR Section 12.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Fifteen years or so before the Counter-Culture declared the word the mystical basis of everything worthwhile, Carroll Quigley described his approach to history as holistic. The following excerpt from his unfinished work, Weapons Systems and Political Stability sets out some of the initial concepts from which he builds his analysis of history.

Necessary vs important.

The inability of most of us to distinguish between what is necessary and what is important is another example of the way in which one’s immediate personal experience, and especially the narrow and limited character of most personal experience, distorts one’s vision of reality. For necessary things are only important when they are lacking and are quickly forgotten when they are in adequate supply.

Certainly the most basic of human needs are those required for man’s continued physical survival and, of those, the most constantly needed is oxygen. Yet we almost never think of this, simply because it is almost never lacking. Yet cut off our supply of oxygen, even for a few seconds, and oxygen becomes the most important thing in the world. The same is true of the other parameters of our physical survival such as space and time. They are always necessary, but they become important only when we do not have them. This is true, for example, of food and water. It is equally true of security, for security is almost as closely related to mere physical survival as oxygen, food, or water.

The less concrete human needs, such as those for explanation or companionship are, on the other hand, less necessary (at least for mere survival) but are always important, whether we have them or lack them. In fact, the scale of human needs as we have hinted a moment ago forms a hierarchy seven or eight levels high, ranging from the more concrete to the less concrete (and thus more abstract) aspects of reality.

Hierarchy of human needs.

We cannot easily force the multi-dimensional complexities of reality and human experience into a single one-dimensional scale, but, if we are willing to excuse the inevitable distortion arising from an effort to do this, we might range human needs from the bottom to the top, on the levels of (1) physical survival; (2) security; (3).economic needs; (4) sex and reproduction; (5) gregarious needs for companionship and love; (6) the need for meaning and purpose; and (7) the need for explanation of the functioning of the universe. This hierarchy undoubtedly reflects the fact that man’s nature itself is a hierarchy, corresponding to his hierarchy of needs, although we usually conceal the hierarchical nature of man by polarizing it into some kind of dualistic system, such as mind and body, or, perhaps, by dividing it into the three levels of body, emotions, and intellect.

In general terms, we might say that the hierarchy of human needs, reflecting the hierarchy of human nature, is also a hierarchy ranging from necessary needs to important needs. The same range seems to reflect the evolutionary development of man, from a merely animal origin, through a gregarious ape-like creature, to the more rational and autonomous creature of human history. In his range of needs, reflecting thus both his past evolution and his complex nature, are a bundle of survivals from that evolutionary process.

The same range is also a kind of hierarchy from necessary things (associated more closely with his original animal nature) to important things (associated more closely with his more human nature). In this range the need for security, which is the one that concerns us now, is one of the more fundamental and is, thus, closer to the necessity end of the scale. This means that it is a constant need but is important only when we do not have it (or believe we do not have it).”
Carroll Quigley, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY, (1983) University Press of America,

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Dum spiro, spero,” (As long as you’re breathing, there’s hope) someone wrote a long time ago. In my opinion, that hope, unfortunately, is generally pointless since optimism is usually unwarranted.

C. Today’s Poem:

 

THE MOURNING SONG
OF THE POOR MOTHERLESS ORPHAN
DANCE TO DRUMBEATS

I was very small when my mother died,
when my father died.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Raised by the hands of friends,
I have no family here on earth.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Two days ago my friends died,
and left me insecure
vulnerable, alone. Ay ay!

That day I was alone
and put myself
in a stranger’s hand.
Ay ay, my lord!
Evil, much evil passes here
on earth. Perhaps
I will never stop crying.

Without family,
alone, very lonely I walk,
crying day and night
only cries consume my eyes and soul.
Under evil so hard.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Take pity on me, put an end
to this suffering.
Give me death, my Beautiful Lord,
or give my soul transcendence!

Poor, poor
alone on earth
pleading insecure lonely
imploring door to door
asking every person I see to give me love.
I who have no home, no clothes,
no fire.
Ay my lord! Have pity on me!
Give my soul transcendence
to endure.
Ancient Mayan Poetry, Songs of Dzitbalché (1440)

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Given that the world is indeed in the midst of the Age of Kali, optimism for positive outcomes is essentially futile.”
Peter Grenell

“I can play amateur politics at home with my 9-year-old. I don’t need to do it at the professional level.”
Barry Bennett top advisor to the Ben Carson presidential campaign following his resignation.

“Conservative politics are so closely intermingled with a lucrative entertainment complex that it is frequently impossible to distinguish between a political project (that is, something designed to result in policy change) and a money-making venture.”
Jonathan Chiat

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Correlation or causation?

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Free Day 0004 (December 21, 2015)

“Rumor is always more exciting than truth.”
Bruen, Ken. Purgatory (Jack Taylor series Book 10) (p. 186). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Joyous Saturnalia, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza, Holidays and New Year!

Today is a Free Day on Pookies Calendar — so, do whatever you like as long as it does not hurt you or anyone else.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Since returning to the Golden Hills, it has been overcast and cool with brief episodes of light rain. Mornings, as usual, after I drop HRM off at school, I eat a breakfast at Bella Bru Cafe of toasted cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese accompanied by a cafe latte. I sit at the booth by the window with a view of the fountain. The gray skies turn the usual gaily sparkling water glum and somber along with my mood.

I have changed into my winter outfit. Instead of the yellow fisherman’s vest I usually wear, I now sport a green wool vest over which I usually put on the suede leather Italian jacket I purchased at Denio’s flea market. Gone is my yellow straw hat, replaced by either one of LM’s creations or a crumpled leather hippie fedora. I wear jeans of course. I have only one pair that I usually wear every day. A second pair, too small in the waist, I wear whenever the other pair is being washed. When the sun is out and often when it is not, I put on brown-gold aviator sunglasses that turns the colors of the trees and hills beautifully brilliant, which pleases me no end as I drive around.
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In spite of the cloudy skies, it seemed almost warm enough to swim — so I did.
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Upon completing my laps, I noticed the clouds had darkened the sky considerably and the pool was empty except for me. This made me anxious, so I scurried inside, showered, changed and returned home to nap.

B. POOKIE’S TRIP TO AND FROM MENDOCINO:

On Friday, I left for Mendocino. I usually plan for up to four rest stops along the way. The first is at the Nut Tree on Route 80 for a coffee at Peet’s, exploration of the Jelly Belly store for their newest flavors, and a walk around the kids park. The second stop, which I skipped on this trip, is the overlook by route 37 where one can view the old Marine World Park and San Francisco Bay beyond, followed by a pause at Cloverdale for a gas-up and a Cafe latte at Starbucks. Then I took 128 over the ridge past the sad sight of the oaks dying from blight caused by an inattentive logger. The Spanish moss and other parasites that were slowly killing them made the dying trees appear iridescent in the gloom.

When I arrived in Booneville my last rest stop, I learned that the road was closed due to flooding. I chanced driving further unwilling to make my way back to 101 (never back) for an additional two-hour drive over the Coast Range. I arrived at the Navarro where, being famished, I enjoyed a late lunch of a salami and cheese sandwich, a bag of Joe’s Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips that I could not resist and a pepperoni stick. In the autumn, they hold a Charlie Musselwhite festival there.
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Navarro Store and its monument to music in the redwoods.

Further along, I ran into the road closure so I backtracked a short way and took a side road over the ridge to Elk about 20 miles south. I happily drove on, eating my potato chips and licking my fingertips, until I reached Highway One and headed north to Mendocino. The sun played hide and seek with the line of squalls that threw up giant waves against the rocks and cliffs of the coast leaving the water a blazing white froth that flashed almost painfully brilliant ivory when struck by the sun.

The Car Crash

I arrived in Mendocino and had just begun my turn into the short private street that led to the driveway of my sister’s house when a large pickup truck driven by a middle-aged man who had obviously been enjoying the view of the turbulent white-foamed ocean waves as they swirled into the nearby cove slammed into me.

My car was driven across the road and totaled. I suffered significant bruising to my chest from the exploding airbags. I was lucky my brother-in-law George the Mensch, a member of the local fire and rescue squad, showed up a minute later and handled things since I was in shock and too much pain to do much of anything for myself other than to sit in his truck and moan.

I was also lucky that a few weeks ago, in response to a recall, because the airbag company originally installed airbags that ejected shrapnel as well as the airbag when they discharged, we had the air bags replaced. Fate is funny that way.
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The next morning the pain in my chest was a lot worse and my emotions at a low ebb. I could not move my upper body much at all. I notified Dick and thankfully he seemed more concerned with my health than with the fate of his car.

Nikki called me the next day to see how I was feeling. SWAC, on the other hand, sent me an angry email blaming me for losing her ability to use the automobile registered in Dick’s name that I paid for. She demanded I move permanently to Thailand so that she could come to the US and take care of HRM. I did not respond to the provocation.

The following day, Jason and family arrived. That evening, well drugged up on pain suppressors, I accompanied them to the Christmas Lights Display at the Ft. Bragg Botanical Gardens.

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Almost 40 years ago, the Coastal Conservancy, through a timely grant for the purchase of some adjacent ocean front land and the upgrade of their facilities, rescued the Gardens from imminent foreclosure. The Gardens are now an important part of the Fort Brag Community. The Display concluded with a community marshmallow toast.
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On Sunday, I dragged myself to accompany them on a trip to the magnificent Pacific Star Winery to buy some wines for Christmas dinner and to pass an hour in conversation with Sally the irrepressible winemaker and her partner the redoubtable Mark. I bought a bottle of Charbono and one of Charbera before another squall struck driving us into the car and back to Mendocino.

That night, seriously drugged up, I sat immobile in the corner, a heating pad clutched to my breast with one hand and a glass of Champagne in the other while George and Maryanne’s Christmas open house whirled around me. Many of the revelers were the same members of the Mendocino Fire and Rescue group that responded to my crash. Several them came by and inquired about my health.

After that, I spent the next three days mostly in bed feeling sorry for myself and complaining a lot. Dark ugly purple bruises began to creep across my chest.

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By Wednesday, I felt sufficiently better so as to be able to breathe deeply enough to hopefully forestall the buildup of liquid in my lungs that might cause pneumonia. I left with my sister for San Francisco where I took the train to Sacramento and waited at the station for Dick to come by and drive me back to El Dorado Hills.

Alas, the car I use to drive HRM back and forth to school and run errands when the Honda is not available has broken down and cannot be driven until it is repaired. Dick has gone off for three days of hearings taking his car with him. As a result, I am stuck in the house, dependent on HRM’s schoolmate’s parents to bring him back and forth from school. The nearest shops are two miles away so I spent the day trying to walk around the neighborhood while persuading myself that pain makes me stronger.

On Friday, feeling muzzy and disoriented, I finally decided to visit the doctor. Not having an automobile, I walked over three and a half miles to his office, stopping only for breakfast at Bella Bru. While walking along, I happily took photographs of the Oaks of Winter, including one of a massive tree whose brown desiccated leaves refused to drop and who still showed some green ones furiously resisting death. I named it, The Obstinate Oak.
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The Obstinate Oak

The doctor, after listening to my symptoms and learning of my walk, said that I needed to have my head examined. He insisted that I take a nap in one of his examining rooms while his staff arranged for a taxi to take me to have my head examined and then back home.

The results of the CT-scan showed I had suffered a concussion in the accident. The doctor advised me to take it easy for another week or so.

This hopefully ends Pookie’s Delightful Car Crash Adventure.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“In the American system ‘costs’ are fiscal or financial limitations that have little connection with the use of scarce resources or even with the use of available (and therefore not scarce) resources. The reason for this is that in the American economy, the fiscal or financial limit is lower than the limit established by real resources and, therefore, since the financial limits act as the restraint on our economic activities, we do not get to the point where our activities encounter the restraints imposed by the limits of real resources (except rarely and briefly in terms of technically trained manpower, which is our most limited resource).”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“As for things like GM crops, GM is merely a more efficient and safer method of improving crops than the radiation method we have been using for the last 100 years. Yes, there is probably not a single bite of food that you eat today that has not been genetically modified. The problem is a question of adequate regulation. Those who already are fearful resist putting their safety in the hands of others. As someone having been intimately involved in difficult regulation from all vantage points, I am sympathetic to their concern.”

C. Today’s Poem:

The Germ
A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.
Ogden Nash

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Human society is not a deterministic system but a collective learning process”.
Victor Ferkiss

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

The chart below depresses me. It shows the US producing STEM graduates at a lower rate than almost all other developed countries and many less developed ones as well. No country can maintain its financial, military or ideological dominance while standing in the ashes of its education system.

This is what occurs when a political party or interest groups demean education and science. As a result, in order to maintain any claim to being a technologically advanced and financially innovative country, we may be forced to import many of our scientists and engineers — perhaps even from Syria. (See also Quigley quote above)
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Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Pookie 0004 (December 7, 2015)

 

“People don’t do things for big ideas. They do it for personal reasons, then justify their actions with moral arguments.”
Hertling, William. The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) (p. 120). liquididea press.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Back in Bangkok the monsoons seem to be ending, the skies are clearing and the temperature relatively moderate. I had dinner with Gary, Pui and their irrepressible four-year-old GJ in a pretty good restaurant on Soi 8 named Bek5.
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GJ with an unnamed young lady.

On most days, after mornings at the health club followed by a massage at Gary’s Silk Spa on Soi 13, I have lunch at a tiny restaurant near my apartment followed by a brief walk until the heat gets to me.
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The restaurant on Soi Nana

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Soi Nana a short distance from my apartment.

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A nearby Klong (canal).

I then return to my apartment and nap the afternoon away while LM works on the knitted wool hats that she sells to tourists on the downtown sidewalks (or, more often than not, to me).
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Sometimes she wakes me up to model them.
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Nikki arrived in Bangkok for a two-day stay. He suggested dinner at a restaurant on the Chao Phraya River across from the Temple of Dawn. We took a taxi there with a driver who assured us he knew the way. After circling the Royal precincts, at least, four times and asking innumerable other taxi drivers and pedestrians, we figured out that he was hopelessly lost. We exited the taxi near the palace grounds, found our way to a hotel and asked for directions. The restaurant was just a few steps away down an alley we had passed several times. At least, we got to see the Palace and Wat Po lit up at night and the elaborate light displays in celebration of the Kings birthday.
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A street scene near the Palace parade grounds.

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Wat Po at night.

The restaurants were on a dock first used by the palace to receive construction materials and later by the British for their Imperial commercial ventures. There were two restaurants one slightly more upscale than the other. We chose the more modest establishment and were delighted with the view of the temple, the river, and the brightly lit dinner cruise boats drifting by.
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Nikki modeling his new knitted cap with the designer watching.

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A pink dinner cruise ship passing the Temple of Dawn.
Near our apartment there runs an elevated bicycle, motorbike and walking trail that extends from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center near Asoke, along a fetid canal and through the remnants of one of Bangkok’s legendary slums to peter out somewhere near Wireless Road not far from the American embassy. I like to walk along there early in the evening when it is cooler and sit by the lake at the convention center to watch the bikers or joggers pass by or walk above the ramshackle neighborhood observing the street life below.
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Homes along the Klong.

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Bicyclists in the park
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The lake at the Convention Center park.

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A view of Klong Toey slums.

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Another view.
Then, with my suitcase filled with this year’s consignment of knitted caps for Christmas gifts, I left Bangkok.

The plane ride was not too bad. I slept through most of the 22-hour trip, ate woeful food and watched a couple of movies. As was my tradition, I did not speak to my seat-mate.

After arriving at SFO, I had lunch with Peter at a very nice place in Noe Valley followed a few hours later with a 50th birthday celebration for my son at another good restaurant in West Portal.

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After the party, we returned to Jason’s apartment where he insisted on filling me with vitamins, minerals, and other substances that he assured me would cure me of any sicknesses I may acquire, sharpen my mind, end athletes foot, lengthen my life and teach me how to play the piano. Convinced all it would do is kill me, I nevertheless swallowed it all confident that I was playing my assigned role in the eternal drama of parents giving up their lives for the happiness of their progeny. After this, my son and I discussed the mistakes we had made in our lives, offenses given and taken, whether libertarianism is superior to liberalism, the mastery of Stephan Curry and the plight of the 49rs. I awoke the next day at 3:20 in the afternoon to an empty apartment surprised that I was still alive or terrified that in life after death I was condemned to be confined eternally alone in the last place I had seen before expiring.

I quickly packed up my things and trundled off to the train that would take me back to the golden hills of El Dorado. On the train, I cried. Whether it was because I was terminally exhausted, tired of life or suffering through withdrawal, I did not know but soon decided I did not care because they all seemed the same.

B. THE OLD SAILOR/DEEP SEA DIVER/PIRATE’S STORY:

One morning as I lay on a lounge chair by the pool, the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver and perhaps Pirate stopped by to chat. He takes Aikido lessons at the health club and enjoys steam baths. He keeps the ashes of two friends in cigar boxes in his locker. Periodically, as they requested, he scatters their ashes in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute throughout South East Asia.

He reminisced about his life as a deep sea salvage driver and treasure hunter in the American Virgin Islands during the sixties and seventies.

Inspired by the movie Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he left his life of petty crime in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a government program to train underwater salvage and construction specialists.

After a few years, he found himself living in the Virgin Islands and along with about four or five others, made up an itinerant band of underwater salvage and construction workers — sort of a wet monkey-wrench gang without the social consciousness. He worked on the underwater construction of the St Thomas Airport, and also pipelines, gas lines, petroleum structures, in-situ aquariums and the like.

With his VW bus loaded with ten Scuba air containers, ten truck tire inner-tubes and a two-way radio, he prowled the island on behalf of the coast guard or various insurance companies lifting sunken boats using the inflated inner tubes or searching for saleable salvage.

At one time he and his friends competed with Mel Fischer to locate the Atocha. They searched around Marathon Island and Fischer between Key West and Tortuga. They found cannons and anchors, bottles and bones, but Fischer found the gold.

For a while, they supported themselves by every morning securing the hawsers over the bollards when the cruise ships arrived in port and releasing them when they sailed in the evening. They also searched the bottom of the sea for salvage, mostly anchors that they sold to boat owners and bottles they sold through consignment shops (blue bottles from the 19th Century and earlier were destined for apothecaries and usually held poisons).

At times, he also worked as a sailor, boat builder and sail maker. For two years, he crewed the Colgate heirs family yacht, a 150-200 ft three-masted schooner named the Lorelei Lee. But mostly, he caroused until he decided to travel around the Pacific (Including a stint in the merchant marine delivering supplies to the American troops in Viet Nam), often living the delightful life of a beach bum and eventually ending up in Bangkok in a single room of a downtrodden hotel where his walls are covered with wonderful photographs of his life and where he keeps a running list of friends who have died.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“It might be stated as a general rule that any organization functions only with and against those who accept its basic principles of organization and values.”
Carroll Quigley

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that it’s citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?”

C. Today’s Poem:

Night of the Succubus — Rhyming Couplets

It took me with its mouth and tongue.
It took me as though I were young.
It took me in the night.
It took me in my fright.
It took me till dawn was spread.
It took me till I was dead.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The Church had created the concept of the university and had established the first of them in the twelfth century. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk, was arguably the greatest mathematician of the thirteenth-century*. Bishop Robert Grosseteste was the first man to write down the necessary steps for performing a scientific experiment. Jesuits had built the first reflecting telescopes, microscopes, barometers, were first to calculate the constant of gravity, the first to measure the height of the mountains on the moon, the first to develop an accurate method of calculating a planet’s orbit, the first to devise and publish a coherent description of atomic theory.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (pp. 56-57). Random House Publishing Group.

*Gerbert, later Pope Sylvester II, was the greatest mathematician of the 10th Century.

Alas, shortly after this period of vibrant scientific exploration, the Church, in an effort to out intolerant the new religions of Europe’s north, shut down scientific inquiry for the next 400 years.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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A surprising image perched atop a bar near my apartment.

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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