“We are not who we think we are. We narrate our lives, shading every last detail, and even changing the script retrospectively, depending on the event, most of the time subconsciously. The storyteller never stops, except perhaps in deep sleep.”
Doctor Michael S. Gazzaniga, Neuroscientist.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CAMBODIA:
Having exhausted myself hiking and crawling around the ruins of Angkor, I decided to spend the time remaining before returning to Bangkok swimming in the tiny hotel pool and exploring the old French Quarter of Siem Reap (Siem Reap means “Defeat of Siam” to commemorate a victory over the Thais that never happened).
Siem Reap’s old French Quarter extends in a narrow strip along both sides of the river which are connected by gaily decorated and lighted covered bridges.
The French Quarter contains markets and sights mostly geared to delight tourists. The Old Market, located between Pub Street and the river, offers a mixture of souvenirs and a variety of food products. The Angkor Night Market and the Central Market mainly cater to tourists.
That is dried fish behind me.
The area is also packed with bars, small hotels, and restaurants of all types. The streets are crowded with tourists, tuk-tuks, food carts and mobile bars.
While most of the restaurants featured south-east Asian food, there were a few French Restaurants, a surprising number of Mexican places and a goodly number of Pizza parlors including one that featured pizza with crocodile topping.
I ate crocodile fried rice at this restaurant.
In the evenings’ everything was lit up like a carnival, the bars were full and music poured into the streets like the monsoon rains.
We spent most of the next two days before returning to Bangkok, walking around the markets, sitting on the bridges and staring into the water, eating in the restaurants and huddling under awnings to escape the afternoon showers.
And then we left and returned to Bangkok.
B. BACK IN BANGKOK.
As some of you know I suffer from depression and take “happy pills” to control it. Of course, when despite my medicine, I lapse into a depressive state, I rarely recognize it for what it is. “I am just tired,” I think, “If I nap a little longer I’ll feel better.” Or, “I think I am coming down with a cold.” Or, I am annoyed and snap at someone who perhaps I should be annoyed at, but otherwise, would avoid the snappishness. When I do come out of it, I usually recognize it for what it was. I then begin wondering if I should up my dosage.
Since returning from Cambodia, I have been down for some reason. I am out of it now. Still, I feel unhappy with my life here in Bangkok. It costs a lot to maintain my apartment and even more to travel back and forth. Why would I spend all that money just so I can walk back and forth to the health club, even if that walk takes me through a version of the theater of the absurd? Also, HRM is growing into his teenage years and I have become too old and frail to satisfy his needs for companionship. He still has Dick and Nikki and now Adrien to whom he has become quite attached. So, maybe it is time to look around for a last life change and a new adventure.
I approached the Old Sailor with the idea of returning with me to the Virgin Islands, buying a boat, and sailing around the Caribbean until one of us keels over from old age. I think that was too open ended for him at his age. Perhaps he is right.
Other options I have thought about, like relocating to Ecuador or Costa Rica or Taos or Sabina, run the risk of exacerbating the loneliness I often feel in Thailand even with the availability of the friends that I have made here.
Then again, tomorrow is another day — why plan for anything. As Rosanna Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”
It always is, even when it is not.
Anyway, a few days later after a morning at the health club, I had a delightful lunch at Monsoon with the Gemologist/Ethnologist/Artist/Soldier of Fortune Character in Cris Moore’s novels.
This is one of Richard’s Paintings entitled Painkiller.
I thought it would be interesting to include Richard’s write-up about the painting that appears in his catalog.
Painkiller is based on a photo I took many years ago of my friend Roberto and my wife Junko. Roberto is seated on his opulent opium bed draped with leopard skins. The panels behind him contain spackled violet, pure gold leaf, and butterflies, symbols of the metamorphosis. Below the panels are the four horses of the Apocalypse, galloping behind a plume of opium smoke burning in a gem encrusted ebony and ivory opium pipe. Roberto is a light lime green, an emanation or aura of death which I have seen sometimes in those who die violently. Roberto was murdered, stabbed in the back. There was an attempted murder of my wife Junko late last year when she was pummelled over the head repeatedly with a hammer. He died, she survived. This painting was cathartic in that it illustrates the murdered and the nearly murdered. The opium smoke dissipates into the atmosphere as does the transitory nature of life. ~ R.K. Diran, 2004
We discussed the financing of the gem trade, the problems artists have in selling their works and the tax based economics of the art world today. He informed me he has the world’s largest collection of ethnological photographs of the now vanished tribes of Burma and indicated his wish to exhibit them in the US. I agreed to look into it.
As you know, Richard is a featured character as the soldier of fortune in Christopher G. Moore’s novels about the Bangkok detective Vinnie Calvino. He was a little miffed that Moore’s most recent book “Jumpers” did not provide his character the quality of clever lines as in some of the other novels, nor did Moore consult him about some holes in the plot like the $700,000 counterfeit money printed with only a single plate.
Mostly, however, we spent the time swapping stories, discussing politics and commenting on the attractive women also having lunch at the restaurant.
Finally, I met with the Old Sailor. He reconsidered my proposal and suggested we explore settling on Hawaii instead. He has an 85-year-old Philippine dope grower friend who lives on the East side of the mountain on the big island. He says he has talked to his friend and they have many stories they could tell me about their life in among the islands during the 70’s and 80’s that they would like turned into a novel. I suggested we all meet in Hawaii during the winter holidays.
What is Elon Musk really up to?
Elon Musk is a phenomenon of our times. After a relatively brief period during which he made a lot of money but seemed to be reviled by his co-investors who removed him as CEO a few times, he launched a series of enterprises that appeared to gain the affection of investors and the media despite not yet turning a profit.
These ventures include: Tesla an electric automobile manufacturing and production company; SpaceX a reusable rocket and rocket engine development and production company; a battery research, manufacturing and production entity (in conjunction with other Musk operations); SolarCity a solar power provider (started by Musk’s cousins); Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system incorporating reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors; OpenAI, a not-for-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company; Neuralink, a neurotechnology start-up company, to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence; The Boring Company, a company to develop and operate massive boring machines to dig tunnels under the earth.
In addition, he has stated his intention to establish a colony of 80,000 people on Mars by 2040 and has expressed his wish to die there.
He has often claimed he is doing all this in order to change the world and humanity, including reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multi-planetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.
Now the carnival barker may actually believe it when he tells you that you could knock the milk bottles off the stand and win the stuffed animal, but I am sure that if you believe it you will lose your money.
So, let’s look at what he is doing and see what we can make of it. Of course, making himself and his family filthy rich goes without saying. But why this particular collection of initiatives? They imply something more than simple financial accumulation and the saving of humanity.
We can see some relationship between the car company and the solar company; the Hyperloop and the Boring Company; SpaceX and Mars. But, unless we consider him simply another mad scientist whose attention is focused on whatever he last finds interesting, something else must be going on — some goal, hinted at somewhere sometime.
I got a glimmer of what at least part of the solution to the conundrum might be when I learned Elon had a brother, Kimbal (He also has a sister, Tosca, a film maker).
After working with Elon on the original start ups, Kimbal took his money and headed to New York entered a school for chef’s and opened a string of mostly high priced organic restaurants. He eventually became fascinated with organic and low impact agriculture leading to the launching an urban farming incubator called Square Roots. Square Roots grows everything inside of stacked shipping containers in a warehouse in Brooklyn. Each shipping container can produce the same amount of crops as on two acres of farmland. A container can operate on as little as 10 gallons of recycled water a day (about one shower’s worth). Everything can be monitored by a computer which can also alter the climate in the container. The light comes from LED lighting. The only problem is finding a reliable source of energy.
For someone like Elon Musk, convinced that humanity on earth is doomed and obsessed with “making life multi-planetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars, his brothers work is a missing piece, Everything Musk does seem to be ultimately directed to this goal —the reusable efficient rockets to get the materials and the colonists there; the inexpensive solar arrays and batteries to provide and store energy; cost-effective machines to bore through the Martian soil since the majority of a permanent Martian colony would have to be built underground; efficient transportation systems integrated into the electric grid; compact highly productive agriculture; and a wise computer that can communicate directly with the minds of the colonists.
Unfortunately, even if everything else is successful, there still is something missing and overlooked (perhaps several somethings) that must be in place before this utopia-lifeboat can achieve its goal and flourish. (Cont.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Four Years Ago in T&T:
Chapter 20 from my never to be finished mystery novel, ENTER THE DRAGON:
Vivian: What will your first step be?
Philip Marlowe: The usual one.
Vivian: I didn’t know there was a usual one.
Philip Marlowe: Well sure there is, it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 of how to be a detective in 10 easy lessons correspondent school textbook and uh, your father offered me a drink.
Vivian: You must’ve read another one on how to be a comedian.
We drove to Crissy Field in silence, parked and bought some ice cream at the small restaurant and souvenir shop in one of the converted military buildings. We walked across the restored marsh on a little wooden bridge. In front of us was the Golden Gate, the bridge soaring over the strait to our right. Massive tankers and container ships lumber through flotillas of pleasure craft while wind and kite surfers dart among them seeking the strongest breezes streaming between the headlands.
It was a sunny summer day, breezy and cool. I leaned over the fence looking at the restored marsh, my back to the Bay. Joe faced the other way watching the joggers and power walkers pass by on the path in front of him.
Joe broke the silence. “So boss, what do we do next? Why are we here?”
I asked, “When you look at this wetland here, what do you see?”
He turned around, looked at the restored marsh for a moment then said, “OK,… I see some water, a lot of mud, a few ugly ass birds and a bunch of sick looking weeds. Do I pass?”
“It’s not a test. Wetlands like this are very fertile, a lot of things come here to eat, breed and grow, even humans used to hang around here, Indians. I agree with you its pretty ugly for something that is a nursery of life; the water is pretty stagnant, barely covering the land underneath and it smells. There’s mud everywhere and the “weeds” as you call them crowd the shore pressing against one another until like bankers they greedily seek more nourishment than the environment can supply and they die and eventually their husks will fill the marsh and it will disappear. The whole place reeks of death, and yet it is one of nature’s wellsprings of life. Nature made a mistake. No clear running water, crashing waves, or handsome trees. But here is where it, life, begins and flourishes hand in hand with death.”
“That’s sort of interesting boss. Weird too. What does this have to do about anything? You know private detecting or the case — er, the assignment.”
“This is a fake marsh. It was built by some rich people to memorialize what was here before. Sort of like a statue of a general on a horse representing some dead guy. In this case, it looks like the real thing and acts a lot like the real thing but, everything else that was there, that was a part of it, is gone even the Indians. We now have something else here, a new reality as well as a memorial”
“Are you stoned? It sounds like you’re stoned Boss. Did Martin freak you out? I remember at the temple monks talking like that, a lot of shit that makes no sense. Are you Buddhist?”
I chuckled, pushed myself away from the fence and began to walk back to the car. Joe followed.
“Did you notice in the movies I told you to watch everything took place over a couple of days, yet the movie only took 90 minutes or so. What do you think they were doing during all the other time? Living that’s what, eating, sleeping, jerking off, shitting and going back to their offices earning a living. That’s what they were doing.”
“So, what, we’re going back to the office? You don’t have one.”
“You’re right, sort of. I do not have any other assignments as well as no office. On this assignment, there is nothing to do until this evening. In the meantime, we eat ice cream and stare at a bunch of mud. If I were Buddhist I’d meditate to pass the time.”
“Does this mean you’ve figured it all out, solved it?”
“There is nothing very much to solve here. Nothing much has happened. Sometimes, most times, on most assignments nothing happens. People just imagine things.”
“Is that another rule Boss?”
I ignored him and continued on. We had passed around the edge of the restored marsh.
Joe said, “I don’t understand. You say nothing happened. The Reilly guy is dead that’s something and Martin’s furniture is missing that’s something too. And what about the two fat guys. That sounds like a lot of something.”
I responded, “As far as Reilly is concerned, he could have had an accident and fallen into the bay, or if he killed himself it could have been for a reason that had nothing to do with our investigation. And, if he was in fact murdered, Reilly was an asshole, a lot of people could have off’d him and I’m sure many have reasons to do so. We have nothing that indicates the failed business deal we are investigating has anything to do with it, except they sort of happened near to one another in time — the failure of the deal and his death — Interesting, curious perhaps but indicative of nothing. We, you, me and the others happened on the scene. Our ego’s want to make it all related. That makes good mystery novels but bad investigations.”
“Does this mean you are going to have me watch another prehistoric black and white movie?”
“No, it means we are going to visit a real private detective one with an office, a badge and who even carries a gun.”
A scientific paper in Nature in September 2013 indicated that there exists a complete ‘machine ecology beyond human response time’ in the financial world, where stocks are traded in an eye-blink, and mini-crashes and spikes can occur on the order of a second or less.
“When we try to push our financial trades to the limits of the speed of light, it is time to recognize that machines are interacting with each other in rich ways, essentially as algorithms trading among themselves, with humans on the sidelines.”
A. Sam on Top: Can Machines Evolve?
“A number of years ago, a team of research scientists tried to improve the design of a certain kind of computer circuit. They created a simple task that the circuit needed to solve and then tried to evolve a potential solution. After many generations, the team eventually found a successful circuit design. But here’s the interesting part: there were parts of it that were disconnected from the main part of the circuit, but were essential for its function. Essentially, the evolutionary program took advantage of weird physical and electromagnetic phenomena that no engineer would ever think of using in order to make the circuit complete its task. In the words of the researchers: ‘Evolution was able to exploit this physical behavior, even though it would be difficult to analyze.’
This evolutionary technique yielded a novel technological system, one that we have difficulty understanding because we would never have come up with something like this on our own.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
If one can generalize a gender based approach to Justice based on scientific studies, it is, “For men, first punish the guilty and for women, first protect the innocent.”
C. Today’s Poem:
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,
qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,
quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.
Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necessest;
qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem,
si sunt molliculi ac parum pudici
et quod pruriat incitare possunt,
non dico pueris, sed his pilosis
qui duros nequeunt movere lumbos.
Vos, quod milia multa basiorum
legistis, male me marem putatis?
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo.
Literal English Translation
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,
Cocksucking Aurelius and anus-busting Furius,
You who think, from my verses
Because they are delicate, that I have no shame.
For it is right for the devoted poet
To be chaste himself, but it’s not
Necessary for his verses to be so.
[Verses] which then indeed have taste and charm,
If they are delicate and have no shame,
And because they can incite an itch,
And I don’t mean in boys, but in
Those hairy old men who can’t get it up.
You, because you have read my many thousands of kisses,
You think me less of a man?
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.
Whoa, them Romans sure knew how to deal with their critics. I did not know that what I heard on the streets growing up (and later in the offices of the high and mighty) was poetry. Now if modern artists could only have the balls to respond to their critics like Catullus did, one of them might even become Press Secretary for Not My President.
From: Richard Diran
Date: August 2, 2017 at 15:00:31 GMT+7
“Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. Antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable”.
Theodore Kaczynski. Ph.D., IQ 167, Unabomber