“I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.”
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
As I type this, I am also watching Ethel Waters sing one of my favorite songs, “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe” in the 1939 movie, “Cabin in the Sky.” A little ego boost every now and then is a good thing.
Before turning on the movie and writing this, I had just returned from lunch in the Golden Hills with HRM, Jake, and Kaleb at their favorite fried chicken places — for me it is not so much a favorite.
This morning, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. Gerry, our leader, who usually runs these get-togethers, had been taken to the hospital yesterday evening with a heart problem of some sort. Nevertheless, following an exchange of information about how to contact Gerry and express our wishes for her speedy recovery, we shouldered on. Someone described the elaborate Halloween party we were throwing for the young children who live in the subdivision and the children of the children of the much more common old people who live in it. It seems those sponsoring the party have created an entire Halloween town out of cardboard for the children to frolic in. Someone else discussed the problem of termites and described the free termite inspection service provided by the HOC. It is pleasant, every now and then, to be reminded that there are people everywhere trying to do nice things for no other reason than kindness — well, perhaps a bit of comfort, self-interest, and guilt come into it as well, but they are merely like spices added to a good meal.
There being no more announcements, we broke up into small conversational groups. There were only three males at the breakfast. Each of us sat in chairs as far removed from one another as possible. None of us moved from our chosen fortress. The significantly more numerous female attendees seemed to comprise two sociological groups. Those who remain alone or sitting in small groups and those who moved around engaging the others in conversation. Naida and Winnie were of the latter cohort. They moved from group to group like bees gathering pollen.
Winnie and I compared photos. She of her former home in Salmon Idaho and I of that portion of our trip to the same area. Winnie and her husband, a distinguished architect from LA, moved to Idaho when he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. He wanted to die someplace surrounded by nature. They lived there for over twenty years. He did not die. They then decided to move into the Enchanted Forest. I do not know why. He is now in his nineties and remains vigorous but cantankerous. Interestingly, he designed the Methodist church in Salmon who’s minister was Naida’s uncle, the children of whom we had traveled to Salmon to visit. He also designed the Sacagawea monument in the town.
Sacagawea and Me in Salmon Idaho.
Sunday evening, we decided to drive with Boo-Boo the Barking Dog to Discovery Park, at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, where the Spanish explorers first landed in the mid-sixteenth century. There they discovered the largest Native-American settlement in the area. They also noticed that the grass on the top of the mesa was so cropped by the roving herds of Elk that they considered it park-like (This had some significance but I no longer recall what it was.) Naida told me the Native-Americans from the other villages in the area would periodically gather here for dances and parties. Now and then dances and parties are still held here. We walked around for a while, then set off for home.
Boo Boo the Barking Dog and Naida Under the big Cottonwood Tree at Discovery Park.
On the way home, we decided to stop for dinner at a restaurant among a group of night-clubs on J. Street. We ordered squash filled ravioli. It was quite good. While we were eating, a young woman with very long blond hair and very short shorts sitting at the bar left her seat, came over to our table, and asked if we were married. I responded that this was only our first date.
After registering her squeals of surprise, we admitted, in fact, we had been together for about one year and a half but had known each other for over forty years. Following a few more rounds of chit-chat, she returned to her place at the bar. After finishing our meal, we returned home where we watched a reality TV program about gangbangers who found redemption.
Last week, Naida was not feeling well so on Wednesday she stayed home while I took the train alone to the Big Endive for my immunology treatment at UCSF. It was the first time I had taken the train to my appointment. I wanted to see whether traveling by train back and forth every three weeks would be more convenient and less exhausting for Vecchi like Naida and me.
B. BACK IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
The train trip along with various public transport connections took about three hours to get me from Sacramento to Peter’s house — about the same time it takes by car with moderately heavy traffic. I was more relaxed and rested when I arrived as well. Since Barrie was in LA visiting her sister who was quite ill, Peter and I decided to have dinner at Bacco’s. I ordered my usual Gnocchi. We were joined by my grandson Anthony and his girlfriend.
They brought me some product from the boutique cannabis store that soon will open in Dog-patch of which Anthony’s GF was manager. It consisted of samples of higher-priced, expensively packaged products that they hoped I would try and evaluate. They included a topical salve, a flavored drink, mints, chocolate, and the like. The cannabis industry is being rapidly veblenized. That is, marketing more expensive goods when there are cheaper alternatives available because most consumers think it will impress others in one way or another. One side effect of the Veblen Effect is that profits to the producers (growers) are reduced while those to the packagers and marketers soar.
The following morning Peter drove me to the hospital for my scheduled immunology infusion. Following my appointment, I walked from Mission Bay to the bus terminal where I caught the train back to Sacramento and home. The walk to the terminal was interesting. I had not walked around this part of downtown San Francisco in a long time. Some places I recognized, but most had changed beyond recognition.
C. TIME GOES ON LIKE IT OR NOT:
On Monday, Naida was depressed about forgetting her tennis match. So in order to cheer her up, I took her with me to pick up HRM from school after which she and I had lunch at Selland’s in Town Center. We sat at a table on the veranda overlooking the lakes. Following that, I gassed up the car and decided to have it washed. While driving into the washing facility, I crashed the car into a wall crumpling its left fender. On the way home, Naida was no longer feeling depressed, but I was. Upon arriving home, I went straight to bed hoping tomorrow would be a better day.
And it was. I got to drive HRM to his dental appointment where he had six cavities filled. In the evening, Naida and I, having given up on the day’s news, watched several movies none of which I really recall, but I do remember that I enjoyed them.
On Saturday, Boo-boo the Barking Dog, for some reason failed to wake us up in time to attend the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. Naida and I decided to spend the morning in geriatric hanky-panky. I find geriatric hanky-panky superior to juvenile hanky-panky because it lasts longer and one never knows what can or cannot happen. Later we had a breakfast of pancakes and then watched Andy Griffith ham it up in A Face in the Crowd.
I do not recall what happened between Wednesday and Saturday except that on Friday night I dreamt I was dying. Strangely, I was neither unhappy nor frightened but instead content and resigned. Naida who woke me up during the dream told me she had done so because I had stopped breathing. Strange.
Saturday evening, Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I went for a walk along the American River. As we walked along, we noted the extensive blow-down of trees and tree-limbs throughout the Enchanted Forest and along the river caused by the heavy winds of the past few days. When we got to the clearing by the river where we like to stop for a while and take in the view, we sat on a log and watched while some people in the picnic area across the river tried to get a car that was half-submerged out of the water. After several failures, they did. A little later flocks of Canadian geese flew in out of the setting sun and paddled their way to the little wooded island in the middle of the river where they would spend the night.
Monday, we spent the morning doing what has become our favorite pastime, sitting next to each other holding hands, listening to Boo-boo the Barking Dog bark at anything that moves within 50 feet of the house, watching television and reading or playing on the computer. Perhaps it is just our age catching up with us. Still, we sit here passing the hours singing at times and laughing a lot. It could be worse.
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
On Tuesday, Naida spent the Morning playing tennis and I sat alone fooling around on the computer. After Naida returned, we turned on the news and learned about the killing of nine people six of them children traveling in an American car caravan in Mexico. The news reports initially seemed to blame a Mexican drug cartel connection to the murders. Naida commented that she believed the caravan was composed of a fundamentalist Mormon family traveling from the US to their home in one of the sect’s communes that had been set up in the area by polygamous Mormons following Utah admittance into the Union as a State at the end of the 19th Century on the condition polygamy be banned.
Naida told me about a writer friend of hers who was a “sister” wife at one of the communes. The friend, Irene Spencer, the second of 10 wives and mother of 14 children, wrote a book about escaping from the community. Spencer also wrote another book about the almost ceaseless violence among the sects. She told Naida about the horrendous carnage between the communities that began by a falling out between two brothers (each claiming “Prophet” status, one of whom was her husband), They commenced an internecine war with each other over control of the sect. Over 50 people have been killed over the past 25 years or so.* Both brothers now are dead but the feud continues.
Sometime later the news broke the name of the dead and of the community, there were heading to for a wedding. It was the same community as the one her friend fled from. She tried to call her friend who had moved to California but discovered she died two years ago.
(*In the 1970s and 1980s, Ervil LeBaron, brother of the leader of the LeBaron community, launched his own Mormon offshoot sect in which he and his followers believed they had a right to kill those who had sinned. The group murdered at least 25 people, one expert told the LA Times. (https://news.yahoo.com/more-hundred-years-ago-mormons-205004653.html))
Later, while walking the dog through some of the dark pathways of TEF, we met another elderly couple who recently moved into the area after spending much of their lives living in the woods beyond Nevada City. They invited us into their home. While touring their kitchen they suddenly forced us into their large-sized micro-wave, cooked us on high for 90 minutes, placed us in a pie-crust, added a bit of cinnamon and sugar, baked us in the oven for another hour and had us for breakfast the next morning.
It’s Friday, neither Naida nor I recall much about the last few days other than they have been mostly pleasant. I think, given my general inactivity and shredded memory, I should give up writing T&T as a journal. Maybe I should just write strange short-short stories. You know, like this old fucker who is so distressed about being old, forgetting everything, immobile and dyspeptic, he spends his days on his computer sending emails to the friends about sitting in his chair and sending emails to his friends or better yet weird Facebook postings to his Facebook friends. Can one have electronic friends one either never sees or never met? I have a Facebook friend who I know has been dead for six years. Children used to have imaginary friends. Now that they are aged decrepits more and more of their friends are just electric pulses.
Ah, one day later, things changed. Well, perhaps not so much. Let’s begin with my receiving an email from one of my dearest friends in Thailand with two little stories about recent events in his life. Much like the stories I write about here in T&T (See below). Stories far far better than I could ever hope to write.
Then, Naida and I set off for the Saturday Morning Coffee. We walked from our house to the Nepenthe Clubhouse. We walked through brown, red, and gold leaves that covered the paths. Like kids we giggled while kicking them about, stepping on them and hearing them crackle. We both wear hearing aids. Although the hearing-aids may not work so well helping us understand what someone may be talking about, the snapping sounds of the leaves as we crushed them underfoot was ideally suited to whatever frequency the hearing aids were attuned to. We heard them like firecrackers a Fourth of July and we laughed.
About 30 people attended the coffee, eight men and about 22 women. More i Vecchi (old people) then I had ever seen at these events. Gerry, our leader, had returned from whatever hospitalization prevented her from presiding a few weeks ago. Announcements were made. I could not make out what they were about so I just sat there smiling like the village idiot. Later Naida told me she could not hear much either.
After the announcements, Paul the architect, Winnie’s husband came by and described at length how he designed the Sacagawea park in Salmon and picked out everything in it. I recalled that except for the two statues, everything else seemed to be just rocks.
Then off to the Golden hills. HRM called asking me to drive him and the Scooter Gang to COSTCO in Folsom so that they could eat their pizza for lunch. They think COSTCO pizzas are “the best.”
It is autumn in the Enchanted Forest. Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I went for a walk through the Enchanted Forest this evening. We walked further than we usually do along paths I had not been on before. It was a lot longer walk than I had attempted for many months except for that track in SF from the hospital to the bus station a few weeks back. It tired me out, but I was pleased I did it.
All youse guys take care, ya hear….
This is a continuation of something I began in my previous post. Terry commented on it (see below). I tend not to be too fond of Ruskin and his theory that great men make history and its modern colliery that there is no grand theory of history and historians should concern themselves only with seeking out and recording events. I tend to believe geography and demographics are destiny and not the actions of individuals whether they be clever or clowns. I am more comfortable with historians like Braudel, Toynbee, and Quigley who try to find a broader rationale for events than the successes and failures of individuals. They may be out of academic fashion, but at least they try to present generalizations that can be tested — not to mention that upon analysis and my own experience the great men (and women) were most often anything but.
“…were… the great men (as) history paints them… Or were they just yesterday’s mediocrities, bloated up with centuries of stolen credit into today’s towering heroes?”
Abercrombie, Joe. A Little Hatred: 1 (The Age of Madness) (p. 440). Orbit.
Putin’s first initiative following the Crimea incursion was to attack eastern Ukraine. The West’s response with both economic sanctions and massive military aid to Ukraine was enough to convince Putin that Russian economic and military strength was inadequate (as Terry points out below) to successfully nibble at the border states (the Eastern Tier and the Southern Tier) to the Russian homeland. Then Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
Now, although I am convinced that Putin has some control over Trump and interfered in the 2016 Presidential election on his behalf, it is not necessary that that be true. It could be that Trump is either just a preternaturally brilliant strategist as his supporters believe or insufferably ignorant, incompetent and devoid of either morals or knowledge of the rudiments of history as his opponents allege.
In any event, following Brexit and the Trump election, Putin first appears to have managed to midwife the public bromance between two insecure megalomaniacs, Trump and Kim Jong-un. By providing Kim and his ego with equal billing and the American President and the opportunity to humiliate him, it solidifies to some extent Russia’s relationship with Korea placing an antagonist on China’s flank and threatening Japan America’s ally.
With the recent abandonment of America’s Kurdish allies in Syria in favor of Turkey and the replacement of American troops by Russian at previously American occupied bases, it seems to me that the two hundred year geopolitical stalemate had been shattered. The northern and eastern Asian empires in their south-Asian obsession had punctured through the 200-year imaginary but strategic barrier threatening the hydro-carbon life-line for western Europe and leaving only India to oppose them in the area. Russia, despite the fact that it is relatively militarily and economically feeble now (or soon), will be able to dictate price and mix of hydrocarbon products available to the West.
Of course, when talking geopolitics nothing is as real, rewarding, or dire as they may appear. Britain may have gained an economic and military advantage over other nations from its control of the southern tier of the Asian continent in the nineteenth century but at what cost. It lasted less than a hundred years, produced untold misery in the southern tier and in Britain, created a few exceedingly wealthy families and ultimately reduced England to a second rate power. The United States blindly took over Britains role, ostensibly for ideological reasons, but primarily to preserve the West’s effective monopolistic power over the worlds hydrocarbon market which within 20 years or so it let slip from their absolute control to such an extent that a new ideological foe (Muslim Terrorism) needed to be invented and military adventurism re-started.
One good result may result from all this. If and when Trump’s expensive golf shoes are removed from the necks of the people of this country, the US and Europe, if they are not persuaded to abandon the hydrocarbon economy by the threat of climate change perhaps the potential loss of our stranglehold on the hydrocarbon market may persuade us and Europe to do so.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Tuesday, January 29, 1963.
I did not do much than today other than bringing to my brother Jimmy the information materials about the Puerto Rico trip.
I feel sad tonight. Sad because I fear I will not be successful. I look at my abilities and my knowledge and am convinced I can be. On the other hand, within me, I believe there is a demon preventing me from taking the necessary action.
In order to accomplish anything notable, I believe, a person must either love himself so much he believes himself superior to others, or hate himself so much it drives himself to accomplish whatever goals he sets for himself. To doubt which it is or to doubt his commitment could make him as impotent as a eunuch in a whorehouse.
Perhaps I should try to analyze it more, or submit myself to analysis. Alas, analysis, more often than not, rarely leads to either a solution or to action. Action needs a spontaneous explosion of spirit.
Sunday, February 3, 1963.
A lot has happened since I last wrote in here.
The Washington trip was interesting (see enclosed letter [now lost])
I dated Stephanie Friday night. It went very well. Richie and his blind date got along quite well also. This surprised me I expected him to do something outrageous. Instead, he acted almost like a gentleman.
I was still ill from drinking too much in Washington and was limited to drinking Coca-Cola. Perhaps I should keep up the practice.
School begins again tomorrow. I hope to do better this semester.
Hope is often more rewarding than success.
Tuesday, February 5, 1963.
We had a meeting tonight of the Young Democrats of Yonkers. It was held to decide on the organization’s constitution. I was not allowed to vote because I failed to attend the prior meeting. I was, however, permitted to speak and make proposals. Most of my proposals were adopted.
I originally opposed the abolishment of the Executive Committee and spoke against it. I was however unprepared for the proposed compromise. It was a good compromise. It proposed combining the wards into sections thereby lowering the membership on the committee.
Wednesday, February 13, 1963.
I just finished reading Walter Lippmann’s The Public Philosophy. It surprised me that a modern American writer advocates traditional philosophy
“… there is a deep disorder in our society which comes not from the machinations of our enemies and from the adversaries of the human condition but from within ourselves.”
I double-dated with Kevin McMahon last night — Susie had arranged a date for me with Muriel, one of her friends. I think she likes me. That is a surprise given the lack of interest she showed in our previous meetings. I spent all the money I had made Saturday on our date.
I am experiencing a period of total lethargy. This happens often to me. I guess I am just lazy. I should try to be more active.
My parents seem to be becoming more annoyed with my presence at home. Today they suggested that I move into an apartment of my own.
Tomorrow I need to take a more assertive role on the World’s Fair Deal or I will find myself out in the cold.
(I haven’t the slightest idea what the “World’s Fair Deal” was all about.)
Thursday, February 14, 1963.
We nominated officers for the YDY. We nominated Tony Russo for president. I admitted I was still a registered Republican. I need to get that changed if I hope to be able to do anything with the organization I worked so hard to create.
I visited Maria tonight. We did not seem to get along with each other as I had hoped we would. Jennifer was there also. She is very statuesque.
I cannot write and more tonight because I am Listening to a debate between Roy Cohen and Love on the merits of the Sobel Treason (I have no idea what a Sobel treason is. Perhaps it is a misspelling) Cohen debates well. He is demolishing Love.
Friday, February 15,1963.
A poem to Robert Frost.
Above the stones from crumbling walls,
Alongside the thresher and the derrick,
Within the redwoods stately halls
Someone loves a poet.
Behind the wooden podium
Before the T.V. screen
Within the hearts of everyone
Someone loves a poet.
A note from my daughter a few years ago:
Some stats i thought you’d be interested in:
U.S. population numbers
In the past 16 years, the number of people added to the US population would come in at 35 in the ranking of countries by population.
Also – by trumps rhetoric making the US great again (if we assume approx. 1950s) would place us at half the population we have now (which comes to removing enough people to rank as #9 on the list of countries by population — more than the entire population of Russia; which is also more than the sum of Germany and UK populations)
It is the same old story, “Demographics is destiny.” Too few people and everyone else pisses on you — too many and you begin pissing on yourselves.
A. Naida and Joe’s Travels on Top:
3. From Swan Valley Idaho to Jackson Hole and Two Nights in a Conestoga Wagon in Buffalo Valley Montana.
Sadly, we left Christy and Swan Valley drove across the Continental Divide and dropped down into Jackson Hole. I had passed by this way several times before on the interstate north or south of the town but never through it. Those trips included cross country jaunts with my daughter Jessica on her way to Harvard, a cross-country hitch-hike adventure with my son Jason on our way to Italy, and several on my own. The town itself struck me as up-scale and undistinguished. We drove through it without stopping and continued on to our lodgings in the Grand Teton National Park.
We drove to Buffalo Valley. We had made reservations to spend two nights in Conestoga wagons. It was interesting. There were no bathrooms in the wagons and it rained on and off both days. We would have to walk across a field to a bathroom.
Adjacent to the Wagons and Teepees (yes there were a bunch of them too) there was a lodge that, according to a brochure, was originally the house of a notorious outlaw.
We also began to feel the effects of the altitude so the first day we spent most of it napping and recovering. Later in the afternoon, we went for a drive up the valley and then to a small burg named Hatchett where we had a good dinner after which we sat on a sofa by the fireplace. It was cozy. Out of the window, we could see that autumn had arrived. When we left Sacramento it was still summer. We had now driven into autumn. The world outside the window was bright yellow and gold, the sky overcast obscuring the tops of the mountains. The descending dusk and the flickering light of the fire made the evening magical.
4. Through Yellowstone to Gardner Montana.
The next morning we left for Gardner Montana at the North entrance to Yellowstone Park. We drove the length of the park to get to Gardner. We stopped a few times including at Old Faithful. The area around the geyser had been greatly developed since I last visited 20 years ago. There were now several large buildings including two hotels. It made me sad especially since the quality of the food had not progressed as much as the development.
We continued on eager to get to our lodging at Gardiner at a reasonable hour. Along the way, Naida told about her childhood memories of Yellowstone Park. She came here often with her father for day trips. She said she always considered the Park to be in her backyard.
As we drove on, I began to become disappointed that we had not come across any of the large mammals that I expected to see. Then we came upon this bison grazing by the side of the road.
After which we passed this wonderful and magical rainbow:
As we approached the northern entrance to the park, we saw a crowd of cars and people watching two elk attempting to rut. (Naida told me it was rutting season now) I took a photograph of the buck. Later, because he was so far away across the meadow, I enlarged the picture hoping to show him better. I liked the result. It looked a bit like an impressionist painting. Here it is:
At dusk, we arrived at the small western Montana town of Gardiner that serves as the northern gateway to Yellowstone Park and drove about four miles beyond the town to a small hotel in which we were to spend the next three days. After checking in, we drove back into the town for dinner at a western bar and restaurant named The Iron Horse Bar and Grill where we had a surprisingly good meal of lasagna for Naida and shepherd pie with bison for me. I also learned one of the differences between Idaho and Wyoming, and Montana. In Montana, they are willing to drink publicly. Idaho and Wyoming because of the Mormon influence they are more discrete and tend to do their drinking in their homes.
The Iron Horse Bar and Grill in Gardiner Montana.
We then returned to the hotel where we took long pleasant baths and went to sleep.
(To be continued)
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Make no mistake about it, to the biosphere humanity is a disease.
C. Today’s Poem:
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me.
Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.
Mama, life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.
Didn’t mean to make you cry,
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.
Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.
Mama, ooh (any way the wind blows),
I don’t wanna die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.
I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Never let you go (Never, never, never, never let me go)
Oh oh oh oh
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go.)
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.
So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.
(Ooooh, ooh yeah, ooh yeah)
Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.
Any way the wind blows.
D. Andy’s Musings:
Terry wrote a comment to Part One A Brief Commentary on Recent World Events that appeared in the previous T&T post. He wrote:
Re our friend Vladimir:
Begin with the fact that Russia has an economy the size of Italy’s. Now he is a very clever spymaster. But he is a disaster as a leader of Russia. Compare him to the great leaders of Russia: Peter the Great and Cathrine the Great and his deficiencies are glaring. He has not created a state that can build and support new economies and crafts adapted to its 21st-century environment, as both of those leaders did. Instead, he has created a one-dimensional economy based on carbon: oil and gas. That will lead to a dead end. His military is really a 21st-century joke. It’s got shiny new planes, but very few squadrons. It’s got a navy than can barely steam out of port, and frequently has “accidents” such as an explosion that sinks a submarine. And his foreign policy is reduced to sneaky political attacks that are quickly exposed and become sick jokes such as Trump. Poor Russia!
Now China is another matter. Very smart and clever, the Chinese quietly steal the best of 20th-century technology and have created a miracle economy. But try as they might, they cannot create anything original. Why: because their leadership tries to control thought, communication among elites of all stripes and sits on a powder keg of massive poverty. They are in a difficult spot. To truly expand their economy to support a population of 1.4 billion people, they must release their creative minds to develop the next great invention. They try but have been unable to do so. Take an example: Quantum Computing. The Chinese State has spent untold billions trying to develop this fastest of all known computing capabilities and to date has not been successful. Google, Google of all enterprises, has just announced the successful development of a quantum computer that will perform in minutes calculations that would take an IBM supercomputer days if not weeks to do. Google is the ultimate of 21st-century enterprise with free-flowing thought and communication through all of its elite 21st-century minds. Now China will simply try to steal the technology, rather than try to invent it. Trump and Warren and others have a point. Cut China off from access to US technology and very carefully monitor, if not prohibit, Chinese students, etc. from our Universities.
To be continued.
For the most part, I agree with Terry. My post, as one can see above, was not intended as a paean to The Vertically Challenged Autocrat in the Kremlin but to set up a discussion on the potential geopolitical implications of Trump’s actions in Syria. As for China, again I tend to agree with most of what Terry has written. The Chinese approach to encouraging immigration by its citizens especially by setting up both small and large business particularly in South and South-east Asia in an attempt to create large and wealthy China sympathetic population in the area. The US failure to effectively counter China’s initiatives much beyond sending sone warships to sail around a few small contested islands in the south-pacific is simply more evidence of America’s retreat from its long-held obsession. It might require post-Trump US administrations to re-evaluate some of the nation’s long term economic and geopolitical goals. That could be a good thing.
E. Giants of History: Richard.
There are some friends whose friendship for one reason or another transcends other friendships. My friend Richard is one of them. An American ex-pat living in Thailand, he is also a gemologist, soldier of fortune, raconteur, renowned ethnologist, restaurateur and story-teller, character in a series of novels by Christopher Moore, artist, sculptor, doper and drinker, smuggler, man about town, martial arts aficionado, owner of the finest collection of Hawaiian shirts this side of Paris, lives with his wife in a home with a menagerie of birds and other wildlife that rivals some zoos and at one time had as their house cat a clouded leopard that slept in the bed with them. He recently sent me the following:
The other day I was sitting with Sultan Ishmael Nasir at the bar we frequent watching the R. Crumb characters file past when a young man, built like one of those muscularly overburdened bare-knuckled tattooed cage fighters wandered in. He was hopping on one leg and asked to join us.
Seems he is a mercenary doing the devil’s duty in Fallujah Iraq. It is easily believed. I asked him why he is limping?
Turns out he tripped on a curb in Bangkok and tore a ligament.
The other night we went to a movie theater here to see Joker. The theater was black with only a semblance of light on the stairway. My hands were full with a tub of fresh buttered popcorn and a cold Singha Beer. My eyes hadn’t adjusted and I fell tits over tea kettle down the stairs. I wondered if I had hurt myself, but stood upon the well-padded stairs and realized the beer was intact and I had lost only a small scattering of popcorn.
I ascribe this inane skill to being knocked on my ass a thousand times during karate.
Three of these men [Tupi Indians from Brazil], ignorant of the price they will pay someday … ignorant of the fact that of this intercourse will come their ruin … poor wretches …were at Rouen, at the time the late King Charles IX was there [in 1562]. The king talked to them for a long time; they were shown our ways, our splendor, the aspect of a fine city. After that, someone asked their opinion and wanted to know what they had found most amazing. They mentioned three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and I am very sorry for it; but I still remember two of them. They said that in the first place they thought it very strange that so many grown men, bearded, strong, and armed, who were around the king (it is likely that they were talking about the Swiss of his guard) should submit to obey a child, and that one of them was not chosen to command instead. Second (they have a way in their language of speaking of men as halves of one another), they had noticed that there were among us men full and gorged with all sorts of good things and that their other halves were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these needy halves could endure such an injustice, and did not take the others by the throat, or set fire to their houses.
I had a very long talk with one of them. … When I asked him what profit he gained from his superior position among his people (for he was a captain, and our sailors called him king), he told me that it was to march foremost in war. … Did all his authority expire with the war? He said that this much remained, that when he visited the villages dependent on him, they made paths for him through the underbrush by which he might pass quite comfortably.
All this is not too bad — but what’s the use? They don’t wear breeches.
Of Cannibals. Essays of Montaigne