“Religious insanity is very common in the United States.”
Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
It’s been ten days or so since my last post before I got around to begin this one. Usually, I at least print out the headings for a new post when I send out the previous one. I do not know why it seems so hard to get started. Perhaps I need to adjust my medicines — or maybe it is the coming holiday season. I always found the holidays to be more stressful than joyful.
The intermittent rains have stripped the leaves from most of the trees except for the Indomitable Oak which the remains fully clothed while the other oak trees all around it stand spindly and naked.
On the weekend I traveled to SF — stayed the night with Peter, Barrie, and Ramsey. On Sunday I had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch with Peter, Ruth, and Don at a local French restaurant in Noe Valley. We discussed, old times, old friends and getting old. We laughed a lot.
Ruth and Her Boys
Meanwhile, back in the Golden Hills life crawls on. HRM, now in the first blush of adolescence, spends his free time among his peer group in what now is referred to by most as “the Scooter Gang.” When not touring the fake hills and valleys of the local skate parks they gather in one or another’s family garage endlessly disassembling and reassembling their outrageously expensive scooters.
For the past few months, my dreams have been especially enjoyable. The difference between the usual ennui of my days and the excitement of my nightly dreams were such that I could hardly wait to go to bed in the evenings. Last night things changed.
I dreamt I was at a very enjoyable party. Eventually, some friends and I decided to leave to get something to eat. After walking through some dark but crowded San Francisco streets, we passed through a busy elegant cocktail lounge where I somehow got separated from them. A youngish (anyone under 60) man with sandy hair called me over to his table. He was a psychiatrist —mine apparently. We discussed my psychological problems at length which I will not bother you with here. Eventually, his sister arrived at the table. She was attractive but blind in one eye which was all dark and milky. This should have warned me.
Anyway, she left and the psychiatrist and I and another gentleman departed from the bar to go somewhere else. As we walked along, I tried to talk to the psychiatrist but he ignored me and continued walking on like he was in a trance. He then climbed up an outside staircase of a building and disappeared inside (second warning). I and the other person continued on and then the shit hit the fan. As I write this, I no longer remember what happened but it was enough sufficiently frighten me that it forced me to wake myself up.
Since I could not go back to sleep fearing I would fall back into my nightmare, I decided to read a book.
The book concerned a man working for a secret British agency combatting the depredations on humanity by beings from the supernatural. The agency’s offices were accessed through a secret door behind a toilet stall in a London train station. Our hero was attending an agency training session when a creature of the underworld, or another dimension or something like that escaped and took over the body of one of the other students (“there were luminous worms writhing behind his eyes”), an agency accountant attending the class to better familiarize himself with the agency’s activity and procedures. Our hero had to kill the accountant in order to save the professor and the other students and was promptly suspended from active duty pending a thorough review of the matter. He arrived back home distressed only to find his roommates, Pinky, and Brains by name, attempting to cook an omelet without breaking the eggs.
At this point, I decided the dream could be no worse than the book so I turned out the light and slept soundly until morning.
Sometimes I speculate whether or not there is any difference between dreams and awareness, reality and fiction, mind and matter. After all, consciousness is located somewhere at the base of our brain stem. The brain stem controls our perception and thought. Didn’t the poet say, ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ I wonder if we dream after death, the sleep from which we never wake.
Will we eventually know what is consciousness? Do we care? Will we eventually be able to break it down into some irreducible bits like the Meletians insisted comprise reality? Even if we do, it is basically simply descriptive and perhaps even predictive but it does not tell us what it is. Like quantum theory when it tells us that time is broken into bits and in the space between the bits there is no time. Well, what actually is no-time?
The theory certainly is descriptive, we can assign numbers to it, and it has proven to be predictive. Beyond that, whether it makes any sense to anyone remains a question. Maybe that is one of the failures of a pure science like physics, it is only descriptive and predictive and sometimes we somehow feel that is not enough. Mostly, I think most of us don’t care. Some people believe in God in order to avoid the effort of thinking about things like this. Others probably think that those who think like this need a little God or a drink. Certainly, God is little more than place-saver for whatever we wonder about but do not know and do not want to spend too much time on it. Perhaps, Science, as we have come to perceive it, has become an itch deep within our minds. It may be inventive, provide physical comfort and expanded knowledge and more efficient ways of producing the energy we require to survive as a species, but do we really feel we know what we always have wanted to know — why us and who am I? On the other hand, does anyone really care? Perhaps we need to consider a “NEW SCIENCE.” On the other hand, perhaps ennui and disassociation many of us are feeling have less to do with who we are than what we are. Or maybe I just read too much fantasy fiction.
The next evening Dick returned from wherever he had been the past two days and suffering from a bad cold. HRM, after a day of scootering, arrived with three members of the scooter gang for a sleepover. They were very well behaved. In the morning HRM cooked breakfast for everyone. HRM was fascinated by one of the new members of the gang. He lives on the top of the hill in Serrano “where the rich people live.” “All the houses have double doors,” he marveled
This is all new to me. When I grew up boys never had sleepovers, girls had slumber parties, however.
Anyway, Dick retired to treat his cold. The scooter gang piled into HRM’s room, the heavy stench of pre-teen sweat and emerging testosterone crept out from under the door like miasmatic swamp gas. I returned to reading the adventures of the silly supernatural spy until I could feel bits of my brain turning to rot. So, I closed the computer, shut the light and went to sleep.
When I go for my morning walks lulled by the click of my walking stick on the path and the rasp of my breath in my ears, I sometimes pass into a state a lot like dreaming, except here my mind-voice keeps up a patter of words into my mind, like a boring lecturer going on about something until you pass into a trance hearing only the buzzing of the phonemes — click, breath, words —click, breath, words and so on. Sometimes these lectures I give myself seem quite good and I try to remember them so that I can post them here in T&T. At other times they are just trash, detritus to be left on the side of the path like a pile of leaves.
On Friday morning, dawn flung its delicate rosy fingers along the eastern horizon above the golden hills. As I drove HRM to school we played silly buggers and laughed a lot. Then it was off to breakfast at IHOP followed by a short trip down Bidwell for my doctor’s appointment before heading off to my sister’s house in Mendocino. I was in a great mood looking forward to the drive and the week on the coast.
After a bit of an annoying wait, the doctor arrived and announced that the CT scan I took last week showed the lymph nodes in my neck were enlarged. “This is bad, very bad,” he said. He sounded like he was angry and it was my fault his precious chemotherapy may not have worked. “You will have to get a PET scan, probably followed by a biopsy of the lymph nodes and if the biopsy is positive we will have to do immediate invasive surgery on your neck.” I was, to say the least, thunderstruck. Only two weeks ago the doctor managing my treatment, after shoving a tube through my nose and down my throat, announced that I was still in remission. What the hell happened in those two weeks?
The doctor then told me that everything has to proceed very quickly because if cancer has spread it will move rapidly throughout my system. I was devastated. I have appointments with my other two doctors on Tuesday and Friday of next week and await a call to set up the PET scan. I am worried, frightened depressed and angry.
The following is a work in progress. I am trying to find some generalizations that I can get my mind around that may help to give me some meaning to what we are experiencing in the US today. Any assistance will be appreciated.
A. The Five World Wars and Who Won Them:
World War I — 1914-1918 (The War to End All Wars)
Protagonists: German Empire (Allied Austria-Hungary Empire, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria) vs British Empire (Allied with French Empire, United States of America, Russian Empire, Italian Empire and the Empire of Japan)
Causes: Political opportunism by the armaments industry, lust for control of nearby resources and industries, corrupt and weak hereditary autocracies
How fought: primarily men, guns and tactics.
Winner: British Empire et.al.
How won: Superior manpower, and economic strength.
Result: Overthrow of hereditary autocracies and replacement with elected business autocracies, crushing economic burdens on the losers with a weakened autocratic leadership guaranteed to encourage resentment and search for a strong leader who would restore the nation’s glory. The collapse of the Russian Empire, German Empire, Ottoman Empire and the disappearance of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
World War II — 1939-1945 (The Second World War)
Protagonists: German Empire, Italian Empire and Empire of Japan vs British, American and French empires and the Russian Communist Empire (The Soviet Union).
Causes: Mismanagement of economies and corruption by the business autocracies that emerged after WW I. Emergent “strong-man” leadership and ideologies.
How conducted: primarily guns, men, ships, technology (air power, sonar, rockets, etc.) strategy.
Winner: American Empire (Allied with British Empire, French Empire, Chinese Empire ) and The Communist Russian Empire (The Soviet Union)
How Won: Manpower, economic strength, superior applied warfare technologies.
Result: Overthrow of Axis Fascist autocracies and replace with business autocracies. The world divided between business and financial elite led governments and bureaucratic dominated ones. The demise of German, Italian and French Empires followed soon by the disbandment of the empires of Britain and France.
World War III — 1948-1945 (The Cold War)
Protagonists: The American Empire (allied with client states in western Europe and military treaty organizations) vs The Soviet Empire (Allied to all so-called Communist countries including the Empire of China)
How conducted: Through economic competition to finance and assemble largest military organizations.
Winner: American Empire (Allied with NATO Nations and other US treaty nations)
How won: the economic collapse of loser due primarily to unsustainable defense budget competition and cost of sustaining allied regimes.
Result: Collapse and dismemberment of much of the Russian Communist Empire and hegemony.
World War IV — 2016-2017 (The Cyber War)
Protagonists: The remnant of the Russian Empire vs The American Empire.
How conducted: Cyber warfare, corruption, and bribery.
Winner: remnant of the Russian Empire.
How won: Application of cyber technology, bribery of political leaders lusting for power.
Result: American hegemony collapses.
Even a placebo can cure an imaginary illness. If you still feel sick then you should see your doctor or your psychiatrist. Similarly, when you are fearful or anxious you should confront those emotions. If they remain after you do so, then perhaps, you have something to be truly afraid of.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
The following is the last post in the Gun Girl series that I wrote several years ago. If you want to read about my wild week-long trip across Thailand you can find it at https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/category/the-adventures-of-gun-girl-and-pookie/.
GUN GIRL’S RETURN (ALMOST) – AND CELINE DEION SINGS
A few day’s ago, Gun Girl called inviting me to join her for dinner at a restaurant she likes nearby. She offered to pick me up at my condo at 7 PM that evening.
Following my late afternoon nap, I showered, shaved, powdered and scented myself, brushed my teeth, swirled some mouthwash, put on a new pair of pants and a just laundered shirt and waited.
At about 7:20 she called and said she had gotten into an accident with a motorcycle at a street corner close to my condo and asked me to assist her. I left and walked to the intersection of the street she mentioned and Beach Road. I did not see her and called her cell phone. She said that she was actually at the corner of the street a few blocks down from Beach Road but that she was getting things in order and no longer needed my help. She asked me to go back to the condo, promising to call when she had finished. I told her I would wait for her call at Cafe Le Mar instead.
I walked back to the restaurant and sat at the bar, ordered a coke and watched a music video of Celine Deion in concert. She would often stop between songs and speak to the audience for a very long time. As she spoke, the audience would alternately, cheer, laugh or cry. I had no idea what she said since I do not understand French.
She impressed me as a remarkably ungainly woman. She moves with all the awkwardness of a 13-year-old girl.
Her songs all sounded eerily the same. The same breathy two or three notes over and over again.
After watching and listening to her for over an hour, I thought I had gone insane.
In about 1992 fewer than 2 percent of Americans used the Internet. By 2002 most Americans were online. This seismic social change we must remember is now only a little over 15 years old.
But once the Internet came along, we were definitely on a superhighway to a certain destination with no likely looking exits. Before the Web, cockamamie ideas and outright falsehoods could not spread nearly as fast or widely, so it was much easier for reason and reasonableness to prevail. Before the Web, institutionalizing any one alternate reality required the long, hard work of hundreds of full-time militants—the way America’s fundamentalist Christians spent decades setting up their own colleges and associations and magazines and radio stations. In the digital age, every tribe and fiefdom and principality and region of Fantasyland—every screwball with a computer and a telecom connection—suddenly had an unprecedented way to instruct and rile up and mobilize believers, and to recruit more.
In every pocket, there is now a library, a phonograph, a radio, a movie theater, and a television, as well as a post office, a printing press, a telegraph, a still and video camera, a recording studio, a navigation system, and a radio and TV station. It is advanced technology indistinguishable from magic.
Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 260). Random House Publishing Group.
A. Anderson on Top:
In his remarkable recent book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, Kurt Anderson quotes a conspiracy theorist during the Civil War commenting about spiritualism and Abraham Lincoln.
“[I]n an 1863 exposé called Interior Causes of the War: The Nation Demonized and Its President a Spirit-Rapper, the author, a ‘resident of Ohio’ said it was no coincidence that abolitionism and the craze for communicating with the dead had taken off simultaneously during the late 1840s and 1850s. The spirits, dead people, “have a magnetism peculiar to themselves, fired with vengeance [and] hatred.” In other words, ghosts and their living American interlocutors—the spiritualists—were scheming to destroy the nation. “For a number of years before the war, the spiritualists were promised, by spirits, a president of their own faith.” Lincoln “sprang mysteriously from the prairies,” “selected by spirits for the very work—the equalization of white men and negroes—which he is now endeavoring to perform.” “These spirits…are now in control” of the Union. By means of “a secret hole in the White House, a rapping table,” “Mr. Lincoln, and at least a portion of his cabinet…are now holding spiritual circles in the executive mansion, and consulting spirits in regard to the prospects and conduct of the war.” The spirits had essentially hypnotized Lincoln and the Union leaders into thinking they’d win the Civil War in order to send America “down the broad road to ruin.”
Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 94). Random House Publishing Group.
As Anderson points out conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie and baseball. Well, thankfully, at least Lincoln was not accused of being a member of the Illuminati.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
One’s good deeds belong to someone else. Only one’s mistakes are truly one’s own.
C. Testosterone Chronicles:
“There’s a correlation between men in high-testosterone lines of work and women in adult industries.”
Mayne, Andrew. Name of the Devil: A Jessica Blackwood Novel. HarperCollins.
D. Today’s Poem:
I’m no weary lord,
I avenge no wrong,
I laugh no laughter,
Under crawlers’ feet,
My legs at full length
In a house of earth,
A chain of iro
About both ankles,
Caused by mead, by horn,
By Catraeth’s raiders.
I, not I, Aneirin,
Taliesin knows it,
Master of word-craft,
Sang to Gododdin
Before the day dawned.
This is the beginning of a lengthy late Sixth Century poem by Aneirin commemorating a battle in Northumbria where the Breton Gododdin tribe and nation was wiped out by the Picts and their allies and in which, the bard describes in exquisite detail how each member of the tribe’s war-lords met their death on the battlefield. This is one of those rare cases that history was written by the losers. In it is also the earliest mention of Arthur, the once and future king.
I am always glad to see TNT from Re Their r meant. I lean back in my chair knowing entertainment will ensue and hoping no bad news about you comes with it. You look good in the photo, and we are very glad that the horrendous bout with mouth-throat cancer is over. We would enjoy having you drive down to Sacramento to visit us in our new digs: Campus Commons.
Having not written, really written, for nearly a year, I am rusty. So this: We sold the ranch while I recovered from open-heart surgery. During the time I docu-signed seemingly endless forms (Bill continues to be cyberphobic and now can’t read small print) and I disclosed the problems of our old place, the ones that came to mind — lying only about having read and understood rafts of boilerplate — Bill’s vascular doctor told him he must have both his legs amputated above the knee. Distracted, I continued to stumble through the paperwork. For a couple of weeks Bill refused the surgery, but during escrow 3 specialists lined up to inform him that his condition had worsened and leg amputations would kill him promptly due to his weakened heart, lungs and kidneys. He tried to negotiate with them to amputate one leg only, the one with the gangrene spreading quickly on the heel of the toeless foot. But they stuck to their guns, claiming that one leg amputation would probably kill him, and if not, the strange wounds in the remaining leg would develop gangrene too and need to be amputated. The day the money arrived in our bank Bill was assigned to Hospice. Palliative care only, and likely 6 months or less to live.
2. From Neal:
Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been trying to gin up interest in putting money into a fund through the Coastal Conservancy to buy up fire prone lots and redesign development potential. I make sure to tell people that the Conservancy was conceived of as an environmental redevelopment agency patterned after Robert Moses authorities in New York. I recount how the creator of the Conservancy, one Joseph Petrillo, was a New Yorker who loved “The Power Broker”. I’ve got Doug Bosco and others on board. We may have a play. Your legacy survives!!!
Response to Neal:
I should relate a tale of how small is our world. My sister, as you know, runs an economic development non-profit in Mendocino County and advises the County on marketing. Today while discussing various matters including your initiative with the county CEO, the CEO suggested my sister contact the communications director of the organization of the counties in the state.
After the meeting, she called him and the first words out of his mouth were, “Are you related to Joe Petrillo?” Her response was, “It depends on who’s asking.”
As you have probably guessed, the person my sister was talking to was your brother.
And yes, my family does now control the world….. Greg works for the League of Counties. My brother Bill’s wife is chair of the Santa Rosa Junior College Board. Bill is a lawyer in Petaluma. Their son Scott is a public defender in Santa Rosa. Their son Brian is the key terrorism expert at Facebook. Brother Leland owns the biggest Janitorial supply business in Sonoma County with both his sons working with him. My daughter Jessica works for a startup in Seattle called UTRIP. It’s a travel website and she is the content director. My son Sam just got a job with the World Bank after spending a year in Kenya.
And we just keep plugging along, trying to stay relevant.
3. From Burma Richard:
Hope all is well. A very unique opportunity came my way last week when some Ethiopian tribal elders came in with a half kilo of uncut Emerald crystals.
The material as you can see below is fantastic, and all natural ( no oil treated) because they are the folks mining their deposit themselves the prices are excellent.
For those interested, the stones are ethically sustainable mining by hand and profits are returned to the community under the tribal elders.
We are just beginning to cut this crystal and are looking for private buyers, wholesalers, Jewelry manufactures,
If you have any leads please let us know.
As for pricing I can provide a list once there is interest but the stone on the left certified as 3.88ct would be $10,000 total.
This emerald simply glows.
More from Burma Richard:
You know Junko reminded me of a guy recommended for us to meet a couple of years ago who was a French documentary filmmaker. We went out to dinner and the guy asked me all kinds of questions about access to Chin State which I gave him.
He ate almost the entire dinner by himself including our portions and then proceeded to fill his pockets with the complimentary nuts on the table.
Then he was reluctant to pay.
Sounds like the same name.
Hope all is well and we miss you!
Wanted to say thanks ….. reading your blog today gave me a brief interlude from a hectic and often tedious schedule of meetings, stress, and worry. I continue to pursue my dream of wealth and happiness.
I am in Hong Kong and leave tonight for Bangkok and I am hoping for a calming few days at Temple where I hope to recharge my overloaded batteries.
Back USA with she who must be obeyed December 7.
You may be interested to know that I will be entertaining an Oncologist friend (Alessandra) and possible business partner in EDH December 10-12. She is quite well known and is resident at a cancer hospital in southern Brazil. She also dreams, not so much of wealth but of creating technology that truly helps her patients to lead more productive and longer lives. She is a very pleasant lady.
Have a great day
“Aye, aye! and I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out.”
Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. US: Harper & Brothers. 1851.