Monthly Archives: May 2020

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Joey 0009. (April 15, 2020)

 

“Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.”
          Will Rogers (He made this comment about 90 years ago. Sometimes nothing changes)

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SELF-QUARANTINE:

 
Today is the fortieth day of our self-quarantine. It began like most of my days do now, quarantine or not, with my usual breakfast and then sitting in the reclining chair to watch the mornings news. What differed today was my recognition that, more or less, it also would be what the rest of our day would be like. We are beginning to run out of novel ways to entertain ourselves. I suppose by now that has become common for most of us stuck waiting for this pandemic to end. I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness.

Having read the prior paragraph and checked back through previous posts, I noticed that I often begin these issues of T&T with either over-melodramatic tales of woe or irrational joy. Why not? After all, I 80 years old and just woke up. Who the hell knows what I may feel like on any given morning.

Easter Sunday, same old, same old. Last night, I did not sleep well. My mind tossed about reviewing lengthy examples of what I would write here when I woke up. As expected, they are all gone now. Anyway, it is Easter.

For we Catholics (fallen away, apostate or believer), despite the vast number of feasts and holy days on the liturgical calendar, Christmas (Originally Saturnalia) and Easter ( Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan sex goddess) stand out as the most revered (Renewal and redemption — the renewal of the sun and the start of planting. Yes, redemption for what you did during the winter can be satisfied by a good spring plowing.) Although one would think all children would prefer Christmas and the presents they received, I liked Easter better. For me, Christmas always was filled with disappointment and family strife. Easter, on the other hand, required only dressing up in the new clothes you probably did not like, suffering through an over-long mass (loved the music and the smell of incense though) and no-one cared what you did thereafter.

 

B. Naida, Pookie, and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog Break Quarantine.

 

Anyway, on Easter Sunday we broke confinement. We were pretty stir-crazed, so, instead of church, we decided to drive into the country — to the Cosumnes River near the ranch where Naida used to live — the history of which was included in her remarkable books, The California Gold Trilogy (bridgehousebooks@gmail.com). It took only about fifteen minutes to get to the turn-off onto the unpaved portion of Latrobe Road. Naida told me it was the main road from the train station at Latrobe (a town that no longer exists) to Sacramento in the mid-1900s. Along the road, several buildings and structures still existed from the middle of the 19th Century that she mentioned in her books.

We expected the road to be empty but instead, there were a few motorbikes churning up dust and some cars with couples looking for someplace to park. The dirt road wound through a few enormous cattle ranches. Eventually, we also parked and got out of our car for a walk. The ranches have preserved the landscape as it more or less had been since the Native Americans roamed the area unmolested. The famous Oak Woodlands of California remain much as they did then. The grasslands, on which the woodlands stood, were cropped clean by the vast herds of Elk and other ruminants and resembled manicured golf courses. They also do so today except now they are trimmed by the grazing herds of cattle.

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Naida and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog standing in front of a typical Oak Woodland.

 

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Almost everywhere along the road and in the meadows spring wildflowers bloomed — California poppies, dwarf and standard lupin, fiddle necks, and others.
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We then drove through another large ranch that contained the remnant of the Gold Rush town of Michigan Bar. The miners in that town during the Gold Rush slaughtered the Native-Americans that lived on Naida and Bill’s old ranch located about a mile downstream on the Cosumnes River. Naida recalls the event in her novel, River of Red Gold. The novel also tells of the miners from Michigan Bar fighting a water war with the local ranches and killing Jared Sheldon a leader of the ranchers who were attempted to dam the river downstream to irrigate crops at Naida’s ranch site.
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A View Across the Cosumnes River to the Remnant of the Old Gold Rush Town of Michigan Bar.

 

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The old hotel in Michigan Bar.

 

While driving through the town two odd things happened. The first occurred when we parked to photograph a remaining tiny log cottage in which the miners lived (those that did not live in a tent or sleep in the open). When later I looked at the photo, I saw this:

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I do not know what caused this but I love the result so I included it here.

The second strange event began while I was taking the above picture. Not too far from us, an old car was parked with what looked like one person sitting in the front seat enjoying the river view. The car appeared to be an old Hudson or Mercury, you know, all black with tiny windows resembling the Bat-mobile. Suddenly he jumped out of the car and walked off a few steps at stood there as we drove away.

We drove on to the edge of town and stopped to photograph some wildflowers exposing their passionate spring colors along the side of the road. Suddenly, I noticed the black car speeding down the road toward us. It passed, went up the road away, turned around, and stopped by our car. There was a young man and a young woman in the front seat. The young man rolled down his window and said, “Can you take our picture?”

Forgetting all about social distancing, I agreed. Then remembering and being embarrassed to now refuse, I grabbed some lens-wipes l had brought along to clean my glasses hoping they would somehow protect me. I got out of our car, took hold of his camera trying but failing to grasp it with the lens-wipes, and prepared to take their photograph.

The young man was skinny, with a bleached white complexion, scrawny brown beard and a few odd small blue poorly executed tattoos, The woman, who seemed annoyed about something, had a little more heft to her, dark hair, and brown skin. I guessed her to be a Latina or perhaps of Native American extraction. They insisted on being photographed sitting on the car bumper and showing the car behind then rather than the beautiful landscape all around.

After taking the photographs, I returned to the car convinced that I had broken all the rules of social distancing and that within the next two weeks I would surely die.

Following that bit of misadventure, we drove onto the massive 15,000 acres Van Vleck Ranch. The Van Vleck’s were friends of Naida and Bill. I was in state government when Gordon Van Vleck was Secretary of Resources. He was a pleasant man who tried to do the right thing in a Republican administration. Both Gordon and his older brother Stan had die Stan while piloting his small plane over the ranch. Stan’s wife, Lynn, who inherited the ranch, shortly after his death had married a sheep rancher from Texas whose ranch was even larger than the Van Vleck’s. Naida wanted to visit them in order to see how her friend Lynn was doing because she had not been able to contact her for a while because she had misplaced her phone number. Lynn was at home and we, observing the proper social distancing protocols, had a delightful conversation.
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Naida and Lynn observe social distancing across the fence.

 
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The Van Vleck Ranch Center at dusk.

 
Following our visit, we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.

 

C. Back in the Enchanted Forest.

 

The next morning we woke up to discover that our portion of the subdivision was without water. We think that is because the HOC is installing a new water metering system. So, we spent the day just like we always do except today without water.

I think self-confinement is beginning to get to Naida. She has begun shouting at her smart-phone. It is not so much that she did not do it in the past. We all do now and then. I suspect that in the future we will recognize a new health hazard — smart-phone fury syndrome. Anyway, it is now happening more often. Like my own rage at sitting here reading Facebook posts and watching endless news programs on why we are confined and our President’s whining about how it is not his fault. We could go for another ride somewhere. It will be good for both of us. Instead, we decided to spend today watching crime shows like “Forensic Files.” They did not improve our mood.

At about 5PM having grown tired of learning about the several gruesome ways of committing murder, noticing the sun was shining brightly, and recognizing the meaning of the dog’s whining we decided to once again break containment and take a walk. This time we walked to the levee along the American River. The azaleas bloomed everywhere. There were a lot of people, mostly from nearby Sac State walking, running, bike riding, and generally enjoying this pleasant warm evening. We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.
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Azalea Madness in the Enchanted Forest.

 

D. OFF TO THE SANDHILL CRANE PRESERVE:

 

 

The following day we decided death by plague to be a superior method of meeting one’s maker than death by cable-news. So, we set off for the Sandhill Crane Preserve at some restored wetlands in the Delta near Gault. The sandhill cranes had long departed the wetlands and had returned to Canada for the summer. Nevertheless, I was eager to visit the restored wetland having a hand in promoting and developing early wetland restoration techniques over 40 years ago.

We took care this time to pack masks, food, drink, and rubber gloves. The wetland restoration was as well done as any I have seen and the wildlife surprisingly varied. We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.
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That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves. And, above all, remember to always keep on truckin…
th

 

 

 

 

DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:

 

 
A Few More 5000 Year Old Zany Aphorisms From Sumer.

The fox, having urinated into the sea, said: “The depths of the sea are my urine!”

For a donkey there is no stench. For a donkey there is no washing with soap.

For his pleasure he got married. On his thinking it over he got divSumerorced

To serve beer with unwashed hands, to spit without trampling upon it, to sneeze without covering it with dust, to kiss with the tongue at midday without providing shade, are abominations to Utu.

He came, he stayed a while; he finished, he did not stay put.

All-day long, oh penis, you ejaculate as if you have blood inside you, and then you hang like a damp reed.

To appreciate the earth is for the gods; I am merely covered in dust.

Bitterness afflicted the anus, but it entered by way of the mouth.

The dog gnawing on a bone says to his anus: “This is going to hurt you!”

 

 

Not only were the ancient Sumerians the creators of Civilization but they also seem to be the originators of slapstick comedy. That sounds reasonable. A civilization without humor cannot be considered civilized. Or, as Groucho said, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” Or, even more appropriately, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you too.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement.

 

Part II

 

INFORMATION, A NUMBER — Biology and Physics.
Most people, scientists in particular, are happiest with a concept when they can put a number to it. Anything else, they feel, is too vague to be useful. ‘Information’ is a number, so that comfortable feeling of precision slips in without anyone noticing that it might be spurious.

Two sciences that have gone a long way down this slippery path are biology and physics. The discovery of the ‘linear’ molecular structure of DNA has given evolutionary biology a seductive metaphor for the complexity of organisms and how they evolve, namely: the genome of an organism represents the information that is required to construct it. The origin of this metaphor is Francis Crick and James Watson’s epic discovery that an organism’s DNA consists of ‘code words’ in the four molecular molecular ‘letters’ A C T G, which, you’ll recall, are the initials of the four possible ‘bases’. This description led to the inevitable metaphor that the genome contains information about the corresponding organism. Indeed, the genome is widely described as ‘containing the information needed to produce’ an organism.

The easy target here is the word ‘the’. There are innumerable reasons why a developing organism’s DNA does not determine the organism. These non-genomic influences on development are collectively known as ‘epigenetics’, and they range from subtle chemical tagging of DNA to the investment of parental care. The hard target is ‘information’. Certainly, the genome includes information in some sense: currently an enormous international effort is being devoted to listing that information for the human genome, and also for other organisms such as rice, yeast, and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. But notice how easily we slip into cavalier attitudes, for here the word ‘information’ refers to the human mind as receiver, not to the developing organism. organism. The Human Genome Project informs us, not organisms.

This flawed metaphor leads to the equally flawed conclusion that the genome explains the complexity of an organism in terms of the amount of information in its DNA code.

Humans are complicated because they have a long genome that carries a lot of information; nematodes are less complicated because their genome is shorter. However, this seductive idea can’t be true. For example, the Shannon information content of the human genome is smaller by several orders of magnitude than the quantity of information needed to describe the wiring of the neurons in the human brain. How can we be more complex than the information that describes us? And some amoebas have much longer genomes than ours, which takes us down several pegs as well as casting even more doubt on DNA as information.

Underlying the widespread belief that DNA complexity explains organism complexity (even though it clearly doesn’t) are two assumptions, two scientific stories that we tell ourselves. The first story is DNA as Blueprint, in which the genome is represented not just as an important source of control and guidance over biological development, but as the information needed to determine an organism. The second is DNA as Message, the ‘Book of Life’ metaphor.

Both stories oversimplify a beautifully complex interactive system. DNA as Blueprint says that the genome is a molecular ‘map’ of an organism. DNA as Message says that an organism can pass that map to the next generation by ‘sending’ the appropriate information.

Both of these are wrong, although they’re quite good science fiction — or, at least, interestingly bad science fiction with good special effects.

If there is a ‘receiver’ for the DNA ‘message’ it is not the next generation of the organism, which does not even exist at the time the ‘message’ is being ‘sent,’ but the ribosome, which is the molecular machine that turns DNA sequences (in a protein-coding gene) into protein. The ribosome is an essential part of the coding system; it functions as an ‘adapter,’ changing the sequence information along the DNA into an amino acid sequence in proteins. Every cell contains many ribosomes: we say ‘the’ because they are all identical. The metaphor of DNA as information has become almost universal, yet virtually nobody has suggested that the ribosome must be a vast repository of information. The structure of the ribosome is now known in high detail, and there is no sign of obvious ‘information-bearing’ structure like that in DNA. The ribosome seems to be a fixed ‘machine’. So where has the information gone? Nowhere. That’s the wrong question.

The root of these misunderstandings lies in a lack of attention to context. Science is very strong on content, but it has a habit of ignoring ‘external’ constraints on the systems being studied. Context is an important but neglected feature of information. It is so easy to focus on the combinatorial clarity of the message and to ignore the messy, complicated processes carried out by the receiver when it decodes the message. Context is crucial to the interpretation of messages: to their meaning. In his book The User Illusion Tor Nørretranders introduced the term exformation to capture the role of the context, and Douglas Hofstadter made the same general point in Gödel, Escher, Bach. Observe how, in the next chapter, the otherwise incomprehensible message ‘THEOSTRY’ becomes obvious when context is taken into account.

Instead of thinking about a DNA ‘blueprint’ encoding an organism, it’s easier to think of a CD encoding music. Biological development is like a CD that contains instructions for building a new CD-player. You can’t ‘read’ those instructions without already having one. If meaning does not depend upon context, then the code on the CD should have an invariant meaning, one that is independent of the player. Does it, though?

Compare two extremes: a ‘standard’ player that maps the digital code on the CD to music in the manner intended by the design engineers, and a jukebox. With a normal jukebox, the only message that you send is some money and a button-push; yet in the context of the jukebox these are interpreted as a specific several minutes’ worth of music. In principle, any numerical code can ‘mean’ any piece of music you wish; it just depends on how the jukebox is set up, that is, on the exformation associated with the jukebox’s design. Now consider a jukebox that reacts to a CD not by playing the tune that’s encoded on it, as a series of bits, but by interpreting that code as a number, and then playing some other CD to which that number has been assigned. For instance, suppose that a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony starts, in digital form, with 11001. That’s the number 25 in binary. So the jukebox reads the CD as ‘25,’ and looks for CD number 25, which we’ll assume is a recording of Charlie Parker playing jazz.

On the other hand, elsewhere in the jukebox is CD number 973, which actually is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Then a CD of Beethoven’s Fifth can be ‘read’ in two totally different ways: as a ‘pointer’ to Charlie Parker, or as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony itself (triggered by whichever CDs start with 973 in binary). Two contexts, two interpretations, two meanings, two results. Whether something is a message depends upon context, too: sender and receiver must agree upon a protocol for turning meanings into symbols and back again. Without this protocol a semaphore is just a few bits of wood that flap about.

Tree branches are bits of wood that flap about, too, but no one ever tries to decode the message being transmitted by a tree. Tree rings — the growth rings that appear when you saw through the trunk, one ring per year — are a different matter. We have learned to ‘decode’ their ‘message,’ about climate in the year 1066 and the like. A thick ring indicates a good year with lots of growth on the tree, probably warm and wet; a thin ring indicates a poor year, probably cold and dry. But the sequence of tree rings only became a message, only conveyed information, when we figured out the rules that link climate to tree growth. The tree didn’t send its message to us.

In biological development the protocol that gives meaning to the DNA message is the laws of physics and chemistry. That is where the exformation resides. However, it is unlikely that exformation can be quantified.

An organism’s complexity is not determined by the number of bases in its DNA sequence, but by the complexity of the actions initiated by those bases within the context of biological development. That is, by the meaning of the DNA ‘message’ when it is received by a finely tuned, up-and-running biochemical machine. This is where we gain an edge over those amoebas. Starting with an embryo that develops little flaps, and making a baby with those exquisite little hands, involves a series of processes that produce skeleton, muscles, skin, and so on. Each stage depends on the current state of the others, and all of them depend on contextual physical, biological, chemical and cultural processes.
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

I have come to accept that here on our earth there are no heroes only different degrees of villainy.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:
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The poem below is an excerpt from a much longer one written by Renee Verona that I discovered while wandering through the internet. The poem appears to be based, in part, on Dante’s Paradisio. Verona, a self-published poet, has an internet site (https://rarityofparadise.com/). In it, he periodically publishes his poems and requests donations to enable him to continue his work.

It is not unusual for poets to try to find novel means of publishing their work. Whitman used to wander through the bars of NY (as did Blake in London) selling handwritten copies of his poems, and Shelly often stood on busy street corners and tossed bundles of his poems into the carriages of the noble and wealthy as they drove by.

What attracted me to Verona was, admittedly, less his poems than his audacity and some of the artwork that accompanies the poetry.

From “Obsidian and Alabaster.”

Through the reflection of my obsidian blade, I saw a jester drowning in the sorrows belonging to his hopeless witticism

Scarlet to cover the tulips that laid foolish, herald a cut-throat… forsaken in this storm praying for thunderbolts to alleviate me,

Sharp lighting to scream, and there, bury me within an unholy divinity as devilish is my creed,

Yet this clown that smirks comforts thee

Thine eyes have witnessed much suffering, men art, but demons chasing eternity, misguided by prophecy… and he dares to laugh

The reckless Montague a saint unto I… to empathize…to seize, realize a moment of freedom when all is cursed by hypocrisy

(…To despise… To visualize )

God favors the trickster, giving unto him a horrible truth that he bears with a grin ( a glimpse at how the world primarily sins)

Watch as they abandon themselves all for epicurean philosophies,

Drink a bit more the red wine, corrupt your soul a little more to hold a few pieces of sol …More the greed…this obsidian grow thirsty

Unsated…hungry… the blood moon calls, onward towards the twilight where hellhounds roam free, festering, and feasting

Fair Jester,

I will be an angel unto thee, unto you that bards hysterically… a sad epigram life has become ( everlasting is the hologram)

Forever is nevermore, soon we will have our reckoning…upon the sun we horde, shadows epithetical to the moon

The forgotten, the vigilant defacing the vox populi, simple mercenaries that seek only to bloom, the evening to forbore…

 

D. Giants of History: The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, World Traveler, ex-Pirate, and So On.
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It is always a pleasure to receive communication from my old and dear friend. He used to live in Thailand but I think he may have returned to his beloved Virgin Islands. Here are his two most recent messages

1. Am now at Walmart…”titusville” “old people struggling..to get inside…going to buy wine.”

2. Jerry _____ ..he was staying with pat. About the time when marcelle got pregnant…..dot and I were living in the slave quarters…..
Jerry would leave leave everyday “cleaned up” ..by 9 or so to work ..at the end of the day ..he would be back and we would meet upstairs .for drinks with Candeed. …he…would always COMPLAIN he could not get paid ..he would half to chase people to get paid….every day the same working hard and having trouble getting paid …this went on for months ..
…Guess what his job was

HE was selling Coke at FAT CITY
…..Dot and I moving to FRENCHTOWN>

Life in the Caribbean must very exciting.

 

E. Useful Simile of the Week:

 

“…like some mad weaving machine or a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble.”

Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“The most important role of the tribal Make-a-Human kit is to provide the tribe with its own collective identity, making it possible for it to act as a unit. Tradition is good for such purposes; sense is optional. All religions are strong on tradition, but many are weak on sense, at least if you take their stories literally. Nevertheless, religion is absolutely central to most cultures’ Make-a-Human kit.”

“The growth of human civilization is a story of the assembly of ever-larger units, knitted together by some version of that Make-a-Human kit. At first, children were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the family group. Then they were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the tribe. (Believing apparently ridiculous things was a very effective test: the naïve outsider would all too readily betray a lack of belief, or would simply have no idea what the appropriate belief was. Is it permitted to pluck a chicken before dark on Wednesday? The tribe knew, the outsider did not, and since any reasonable person would guess ‘yes’, the tribal priesthood could go a long way by making the accepted answer ‘no’.) After that, the same kind of thing happened for the local baron’s serfs, for the village, the town, the city and the nation. We spread the net of True Human Beings.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Joey 0009 (April 11, 2020)

 

“Trump is… a gang boss, born and bred. Brought up to screw civil society all ways up, not be part of it.”
          le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 222). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE PLAGUE:

 

 

I read somewhere that there is no reality only story — no matter, no energy, no universe, no love, no sorrow, no up or down — only stories. So, what is my story? This is especially pertinent now as I sit here during the great self-confinement of 2020. Who knows? Who cares? I only want to get back to a different story. One I used to know, with people I know. With goals other than simply waiting it all out. Does this make me a delusional bundle of narrative? You know, between you me and the storyteller? I don’t really care. I want out.

This morning I woke up earlier than I have for the past week or so. It was sunny outside following a couple of days of rain. That lifted my spirits. That and the fact that I had finally slept well after a few nights of disturbing dreams.

After screwing around on my smartphone a while (you know checking messages, reviewing the weather reports, sport stories, Facebook posts and a porn site or two) I got up, did significantly less than half of the exercises prescribed for by the physical therapist, I took my pills (Those that I have left) brushed my teeth, patted down my hair and dressed. I then set off downstairs for breakfast.

Naida, as usual, had arisen much earlier than I in response to Boo-boo the Barking Dogs barking. She went downstairs with him to let him out into our backyard to do his thing. I have come to believe this is more convenient and neighborly than putting the dog on a leash and taking him out to do his thing on the neighbor’s property.

After that, as usual, she, still in her housecoat, made her coffee and sat in her recliner to watch the morning news.

I strolled down the stairs slammed open the doors to the study where she was quietly sitting at peace enjoying her coffee with the dog on her lap and I belted out:

Hello my baby, hello my honey
Hello my ragtime gal
Send me a kiss by wire,
Baby, my heart’s on fire,

I do this routine at least four times a week (sometimes, but not often, I change the tune). I do not really know how this goes off with Naida. She always smiles and gives me a kiss when I bend my head down to receive one. Boo-boo the Barking Dog on the other hand generally scampers off her lap and hides under the desk. There are critics everywhere.

 

It rained for a day or two, I do not recall for how long. I have a vague recollection of writing in here about the minutia of our lives, but, if I had, it clearly has disappeared, most likely caused by the imps of the computer, those arbiters and critics of our life nowadays.

Anyway, today the seventh day of April the sun came out. The washing away of the pollen and civilizations grit (with an assist from social distancing) allowed nature to shamefully but happily expose itself with sparkling clarity. The tree on my back yard whose colors, the vibrancy of which, I rely upon to tell me that the glory of the day was worth experiencing gleamed in splendor.
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Frank called from Florida shortly after I had settled into my recliner with my usual breakfast of coffee and toasted English muffins slathered in butter and marmalade. He, like the rest of us, has settled into self-imprisonment comfortably having had the pleasure of experiencing its, joys, sorrows, and tedium in a far different circumstance a number of years ago. Like me and you and most of the world, he spends a lot of his time before the television viewing movies like a movie critic on steroids. He suggested I see “The Godfather of Harlem” a series of which about 10 episodes have been shown. It stars Forest Whitaker as the Godfather. He said it portrays many of the Italian Mafiosi I have met (Like Frank Costello) in actual historical events. He also recommended “Machine Gun Preacher,” a movie described as “The true story of Pennsylvanian [USA] biker Sam Childers, who overcame a life of drugs and violence to embrace Christianity and wage a 13-year war to free enslaved child in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, Africa.”

After exchanging stories of our current confinement, I hung up and looking out of the into at the splendor outside (a good name for a television movie), I suggested to Naida that we break out of our socially imposed confinement, leash up Boo-boo the Barking Dog, jump in the car and drive to Discovery Park. And we did.

Discovery Park lies on a low bluff at the confluence of the Sacramento and American River. The Native Americans called the area Mo’mol, (pronounced mok mal) The Big Drink.

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Someone Fishing at the Confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. (The clear waters American River coming from the right meets the muddy waters of the Sacramento. The buildings of downtown Sacramento loom in the distance.)

 

The Maidu group of Native-Americans inhabited the area of Sacramento around the Park prior to the arrival of the Spanish. According to Naida, this area in effect could be considered a Native-American town because of the number of villages supported by the enormous fecundity of the immediate area.

The park area itself during this period, according to Naida, was park-like, a meadow with huge trees of Black Walnut, Cottonwoods, Valley Oaks, and Sycamores growing around.

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Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog resting by the Massive Trunk of a Cottonwood.

 

Large trees still dot the landscape.
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The Native-Americans from the villages would often gather on the meadow for festivals and other get-togethers. Naida said that when the first Spanish explorers arrived at the confluence of the rivers and noticed its park-like visage and grazing elk one of them exclaimed that it was so beautiful it was like a sacrament of God. Hence the name Sacramento was born.IMG_8076

 

Today the park is a bit unkempt. Still, there were hikers, bicycle riders, and a few people just lounging around, all social distancing and enjoying the day. Many of Sacramento’s homeless were there also. They too were social distancing from one another and everyone else.

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That evening after returning home, I was exhausted and irritable. Trying to figure out what is going on after going through the usual, I suddenly remembered that I had run out of my happy pills several days ago. I had started taking them about 12 years or more ago because I was fed up with my inability to control myself when I was under stress or fatigued and convinced my psychoanalyst at the time that pills were quicker and less expensive than he was. Naida told me that Bill had been taking similar medicine to deal with some of the physical and psychological effects of his last months and she still had some. So I will be taking some tonight if we can find them.

The next day, I arranged for my original prescriptions to be filled. I was still feeling bad so Naida drove me to the Walgreens in El Dorado Hills to pick up those prescriptions and after that, we collected our groceries at the pickup spot at the Raley’s near our home.

On Thursday I drove into SF for my immunotherapy appointment. After parking, I put on my face mask. As I entered the Hospital everyone else was also wearing a mask and it was strangely quiet. After the treatment Drove to Peter’s house where Peter, Barrie, and I had a brief social distancing discussion through the car window. Then I drove home.

Friday was a day for naps.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

 

 

A. Gravity:

 

 

The gravitational attraction exerted by a single doctor at a distance of 6 inches is roughly twice that of Jupiter at its closest point to the Earth.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

B. Burning Wood:

 

 

Burning wood gains weight.
(This occurs because the oxygen added is heavier than the heat released. That is also why the bucket of ash the morning after feels so heavy as you take it out to the trash.)

 

 

C. Race, Racism, Thomas Jefferson, and Sally Hemmings:

 

 

“Race exists, of course, but its reality is not primarily biological. The reality of race is in the domain of the symbolic. Race is most real in the sense that, as is well-known, Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his black slave, Sally Hemings. Yet according to the only extant descriptions of her, Sally Hemings had light skin and long, straight dark hair. Why? Because only one of her four grandparents was African. She was a slave because of her symbolic ancestry, not because of her biological ancestry or her appearance.”
(http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/2019/12/i-coined-phrase-human-biodiversity.html)

 

 

D. Eternal Truths From Sumer.

 

 

Within a collection of proverbs written in ancient Sumer in about 2300 BCE, the following was discovered:

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband’s embrace.”

“To be sick is acceptable; to be pregnant is painful; but to be pregnant and sick is just too much.”

“In respect of both expenditures and capital goods, the anus is well supplied.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement. PART I

 

 

Introduction:

During this period of self-confinement as we begin to discover electronic entertainment remains inadequate to fill our thirst for distraction, I thought it may be interesting to some to learn of developments in modern science written in a simple, entertaining, and understandable way. To that I turn to the beloved Sir Terry Pratchett, the recently deceased O.B.E. and author of the many, many volume Discworld series who with his able coconspirators, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, produced a four-volume work entitled “The Science of Discworld” in which they attempt to explain and compare the science of Discworld (none only magic) and our earth, Roundworld, (no magic only science) and the universe in which it sits.

Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the bestselling Discworld series. He has been appointed OBE and a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to literature. Ian Stewart is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, and the author of numerous books on math and popular science, as well as science fiction novels coauthored with Jack Cohen. Jack Cohen is a professor of biology and honorary professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick.
The odd chapters of the four novels relate the adventures of the Wizards of the Unseen University located on Discworld in the center of that world’s largest, most dense, and least desirable place to live Ankh Morepark. They created the Roundworld universe which is contained within a small glass globe at Unseen University either in the offices of the Archchancellor of Unseen University Mustrum Ridcully, or in the subterranean offices next to or behind the boiler that provides heat and other things to the university occupied by the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography, Rincewind, or in the library presided over by the librarian. a 300-pound Orangutang named Ook because that was the only recognizable word he spoke. These Wizards and others periodically travel to their creation, Roundworld, attempting to right whatever they think has gone wrong and usually failing at it.

The even chapters, written for the most part by Stewart and Cohen, attempt to describe, quite successfully I believe, the mysterious science of Roundworld.

Although the four books explore a huge variety of things odd and mundane, this post entitled Part I contains excerpts only from chapter 18 of the second book in the Science of Discworld entitled, The Globe.

 

 

                                                    PART I.

 

Is information a concept, or a number? Is it meaning or message or is the medium the message?

 

 

INFORMATION IS A CONCEPT —

 

Information Technology.
Information is not a thing, but a concept. However, the human tendency to reify concepts into things has led many scientists to treat information as if it is genuinely real. And some physicists are starting to wonder whether the universe, too, might be made from information. How did this viewpoint come about, and how sensible is it?

Humanity acquired the ability to quantify information in 1948, when the mathematician-turned-engineer Claude Shannon found a way to define how much information is contained in a message — he preferred the term signal — sent from a transmitter to a receiver using some kind of code. By a signal, Shannon meant a series of binary digits (‘bits’, 0 and 1) of the kind that is ubiquitous in modern computers and communication devices… By a code, he meant a specific procedure that transforms an original signal into another one. The simplest code is the trivial ‘leave it alone’; more sophisticated codes can be used to detect or even correct transmission errors. In the engineering applications, codes are a central issue, but for our purposes here we can ignore them and assume the message is sent ‘in plain’.

Shannon’s information measure puts a number to the extent to which our uncertainty about the bits that make up a signal is reduced by what we receive. In the simplest case, where the message is a string of 0s and 1s and every choice is equally likely, the amount of information in a message is entirely straightforward: it is the total number of binary digits. Each digit that we receive reduces our uncertainty about that particular digit (is it 0 or 1?) to certainty (‘it’s a 1’, say) but tells us nothing about the others, so we have received one bit of information. Do this a thousand times and we have received a thousand bits of information. Easy. The point of view here is that of a communications engineer, and the unstated assumption is that we are interested in the bit-by-bit content of the signal, not in its meaning.

So the message 111111111111111 contains 15 bits of information, and so does the message 111001101101011. But Shannon’s concept of information is not the only possible one. More recently, Gregory Chaitin has pointed out that you can quantify the extent to which a signal contains patterns. The way to do this is to focus not on the size of the message, but on the size of a computer program, or algorithm, that can generate it. For instance, the first of the above messages can be created by the algorithm ‘every digit is a 1’. But there is no simple way to describe the second message, other than to write it down bit by bit. So these two messages have the same Shannon information content, but from Chaitin’s point of view the second contains far more ‘algorithmic information’ than the first.

Another way to say this is that Chaitin’s concept focuses on the extent to which the message is ‘compressible’. If a short program can generate a long message, then we can transmit the program instead of the message and save time and money. Such a program ‘compresses’ the message. When your computer takes a big graphics file — a photograph, say — and turns it into a much smaller file in JPEG format, it has used a standard algorithm to compress the information in the original file. This is possible because photographs contain numerous patterns: lots of repetitions of blue pixels for the sky, for instance. The more incompressible a signal is, the more information in Chaitin’s sense it contains. And the way to compress a signal is to describe the patterns that make it up. This implies that incompressible signals are random, have no pattern, yet contain the most information. In one way this is reasonable: when each successive bit is maximally unpredictable, you learn more from knowing what it is. If the signal reads 111111111111111 then there is no great surprise if the next bit turns out to be 1; but if the signal reads 111001101101011 (which we obtained by tossing a coin 15 times) then there is no obvious guess for the next bit.

Both measures of information are useful in the design of electronic technology. Shannon information governs the time it takes to transmit a signal somewhere else; Chaitin information tells you whether there’s a clever way to compress the signal first, and transmit something smaller. At least, it would do if you could calculate it, but one of the features of Chaitin’s theory is that it is impossible to calculate the amount of algorithmic information in a message — and he can prove it. The wizards would approve of this twist.

‘Information’ is therefore a useful concept, but it is curious that ‘To be or not to be’ contains the same Shannon information as, and less Chaitin information than, ‘xyQGRlfryu&d%sk0wc’. The reason for this disparity is that information is not the same thing as meaning. That’s fascinating. What really matters to people is the meaning of a message, not its bit-count, but mathematicians have been unable to quantify meaning. So far.

And that brings us back to stories, which are messages that convey meaning. The moral is that we should not confuse a story with ‘information’.
           Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

I have recently realized that I don’t leap to conclusions, I plunge headlong toward them.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

School of Truth

O fool, do something, so you won’t just stand there looking dumb.
If you are not traveling and on the road, how can you call yourself a guide?

In the School of Truth, one sits at the feet of the Master of Love.
So listen, son, so that one day you may be an old father, too!

All this eating and sleeping has made you ignorant and fat;
By denying yourself food and sleep, you may still have a chance.

Know this: If God should shine His lovelight on your heart,
I promise you’ll shine brighter than a dozen suns.

And I say: wash the tarnished copper of your life from your hands;
To be Love’s alchemist, you should be working with gold.

Don’t sit there thinking; go out and immerse yourself in God’s sea.
Having only one hair wet with water will not put knowledge in that head.

For those who see only God, their vision
Is pure, and not a doubt remains.

Even if our world is turned upside down and blown over by the wind,
If you are doubtless, you won’t lose a thing.

O Hafiz, if it is union with the Beloved that you seek,
Be the dust at the Wise One’s door, and speak!

HAFIZ. From: ‘Drunk On the Wind of the Beloved’ Translated by Thomas Rain Crowe

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“‘The Lords and Ladies,’ she said. ‘Who’re they?’ Nanny looked around. But, after all, this was a forge … It wasn’t just a place of iron, it was a place where iron died and was reborn. If you couldn’t speak the words here, you couldn’t speak ’em anywhere. Even so, she’d rather not. ‘You know,’ she said. ‘The Fair Folk. The Gentry. The Shining Ones. The Star People. You know.’‘What?’ Nanny put her hand on the anvil, just in case, and said the word. Jason’s frown very gently cleared, at about the same speed as a sunrise. ‘Them?’ he said. ‘But aren’t they nice and—’ ‘See?’ said Nanny. ‘I told you you’d get it wrong!’ You said: The Shining Ones. You said: The Fair Folk. And you spat, and touched iron. But generations later, you forgot about the spitting and the iron, and you forgot why you used those names for them, and you remembered only that they were beautiful … We’re stupid, and the memory plays tricks, and we remember the elves for their beauty and the way they move, and we forget what they were. We’re like mice saying, ‘Say what you like, cats have got real style.’

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder. Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels. Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies. Elves are glamorous. They project glamour. Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment. Elves are terrific. They beget terror. The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning. No-one ever said elves are nice.

Elves are bad.

          Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

80629191_10215651568511330_4741218224870260736_n

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joey 0009 — the twenty-eighth day of our confinement. (April 5, 2020)

 

“One thing about Republican presidents: They never went in much for plans. They only had one plan. It says, ‘Boys, my head is turned. Just get it while you can.'”
          Will Rogers

 
HAVE A HAPPY SOCIAL DISTANCING.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. AFTER TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF CONFINEMENT:

IMG_8046

Would you believe that six months ago I was bald?

 

 

B.POOKIE’S FURTHER ADVENTURES IN SOCIAL DISTANCE LAND:

 
Today is my 28th day in self-quarantine. It has begun to feel like years. I never thought that by becoming a recluse I would be seen as being socially conscious. On the other hand, in my case and a few others, I can think of that may be true.

This evening in keeping with the national social distancing policies during the coronavirus epidemic, Naida, Peter, Barrie, and I had a virtual dinner party. Naida and I were in our house in the Enchanted Forest here in Sacramento and Peter and Barrie were nestled in their home in Noe Valley in the Big Endive by the Bay. We were connected to each other by FaceTime. Naida and I enjoyed fettuccini arrabbiata with a side of raw cabbage and washed it all down with cran-raspberry juice. Peter and Barrie were dieting and refrained from dinner. We had a good time. We discussed these days of social distancing and the impact of the current plague on coffee and comfort.

I wonder when this epidemic is over if we will not find ourselves in a totally different world. People are discovering new ways to entertain themselves by devising different means of enjoying social interactions with others through the internet. And, what is more important, we are now beginning to find them enjoyable. Shopping has changed. Corporations may find that passing on the cost of real-estate to work at home employees is beneficial to their bottom line. I guess what I am saying is that we won’t go back to the way we lived before the plague nor how we worked. Whatever the trends and possibilities of the so-called connected society that may have been coming will be greatly accelerated by this damned plague.

On this same subject, while prowling through the internet, I came across the following in Daily Kos:

Here are some of the things that are going to fundamentally change.
A big return of Keynesian economics. Almost overnight, Republicans ditched their austerity mantra and quickly voted for a $2 trillion stimulus. There was no talk of “we need to balance the budget;” instead there was talk about keeping people whole.
A return to government expertise. Watching Dr. Fauci and other experts during this crisis has been very comforting because they tell the truth (which stands in stark contrast to Trump). Polls show that the public trusts them. Once this is over, expect the public to become a lot more comfortable with expertise.
A rise of teleworking: Modern technology allows people to work remotely. I’ve observed there’s a clear generational divide regarding this idea: old people dislike it, younger people are all over it. Once this is over, expect this idea to become part of the modern workforce
A huge rise in automation. One of the big problems with manufacturing in the current crisis is that large groups of people have to be in close proximity, which prevents social distancing. Expect factories to adopt automation at a faster pace to ramp-up production as this thing comes to an end. And this will lead to …
A future discussion and eventual adoption of Universal Basic Income: I’m behind in understanding the specifics of this concept, but I understand the basic idea, which is pure Keynesian in concept. Expect this to become a commonly expressed idea.
A complete rethinking of the US health care system. Watching this disaster unfold one thing has become very clear: the healthcare system has to change in a big way. I have no idea what it will look like. But it’s going to change. (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/29/1932324/-Accept-That-Everything-You-Understand-About-the-World-Will-Fundamentally-Change?utm_campaign=trending)

 

I am not so sure about some of these but clearly, times are changing.

This morning Naida awoke with severe pain in her right shoulder. She believes it is a return of something that occurred several years ago that was alleviated by a trip to a chiropractor. I am not so sure. Tonight we watched Fiddler on the Roof for the umpteenth time. Before that we saw Sterling Hayden in a great Noir feature whose name I forgot, and before that one with Cary Grant playing a doctor and before that…well, you get the picture. All the movies were very good, unlike some of those we see on other nights.

I usually work on my computer, read or eat during the movies. I, also, sometimes just sit there daydreaming — not so much fantasy or mulling over regrets but debating with myself about things like:

Is sufficiently advanced magic practically indistinguishable from technology? Or, can we hear the thoughts of thunderstorms or the conversations of dogs? And, for something to be true, does it have to be expressed in numbers? If so, does nature care whether humans can do sums? Also, if God were separate from the material universe, would then there be an entity greater than God, namely, the entire universe plus God? Even, which of the King’s sons win the hand of the fair princess? Perhaps, does feminism address the same questions as male-oriented models? Also, why is it the three Rs and not two Rs and an A? In addition, are homo sapiens not ‘wise men’ but apes that got what they wanted or were they simply apes who gave up trying? And finally, what really is ‘the magic word’?
(Note: Thanks to T. Pratchett’s The Science Of Discworld II, for much of the foregoing paragraph.)

I am getting sick of movies. Today they were all about baseball.

Today, a day or two after the baseball movies, I decided to move into the living room from the studio in order to get away from the tv while reading. I was immediately rewarded with a bit of a new and erotic interpretation of fairy tales like Cinderella. Most fairy tales, as that old lecher Freud pointed out some with a fairly racy interpretation and so does cinder girl’s glass slipper. It seems in the old German version of the tale, the young women of the kingdom gave the lusty young prince their “fur slipper” to try on for size. When the story arrived in France and was translated in that language ‘verre.’ Verre can be translated as either ‘glass’ or ‘fur’. The Grimm brothers went for the hygienic alternative, saving parents the danger of embarrassing explanations.

As long as I am going on about the real story behind the fairy tales of our youth, here is another one from the irrepressible Terry Pratchett.

Rumpelstiltskin was an interestingly sexual parable, too, a tale to program the idea that female masturbation leads to sterility. Remember the tale? The miller’s daughter, put in the barn to ‘spin straw into gold’, virginally sits on a little stick that becomes a little man … The dénouement has the little man, when his name is finally identified, jumping in to ‘plug’ the lady very intimately, and the assembled soldiers can’t pull him out. In the modern bowdlerized version, this survives vestigially as the little man pushing his foot through the floor and not being able to pull it out, a total non sequitur. So none of those concerned, king, miller or queen, can procreate (the stolen first child has been killed by the soldiers), and it all ends in tears. If you doubt this interpretation, enjoy the indirection: ‘What is his name? What is his name?’ recurs in the story. What is his name? What is a stilt with a rumpled skin? Whoops. The name has an equivalent derivation in many languages, too.
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I much prefer my fairy tales explained to me by Terry Pratchett than Joseph Campbell, don’t you?

Several days have gone by mostly sitting here in my recliner with the television rumbling on and Naida dozing off on the recliner next to me with the dog asleep on her lap. Sometimes I dip into Pratchett’s four volumes of The Science of Discworld and extract one phrase or another to paste in here for lack of anything else to write about.

Naida just woke up and told me that it is time to walk the dog. I used to think it was some obligation that life forced upon those with dogs in their house. Now I respond like the dog, excitedly running around the house tongue hanging out and looking for the leash.

Last night I thought, no believed, I had caught the dread coronavirus and was going to die before morning. A tickle in my throat, an upset stomach, a feeling of general malaise, and a few other things I no longer remember had me terrified. Naida said it was just a springtime allergy and gave me our last Loratadine pill. I was dubious and remained convinced of my imminent death. This morning I woke up feeling great. Later in the day, she discovered Loratadine pills she had purchased for the dog containing enough pills for all three of us to get through the next few weeks.

Today, whatever day this is, Naida scheduled a video conference call with her daughters, Sarah and Jennifer. She spent a few hours excitedly preparing for it — changing clothes, straightening her hair, reviewing the directions for operating the application. Boo-boo the Barking Dog slept and I happily banging away on the computer keys here recording the event. Thinking about it all, I could have been more up to date by recording everything on my smart-phone, but instead, I attempt to record it in words on paper— oops, on my screen. Damn, I wrote the word “paper” in the last sentence, and spellcheck changed it to “tape.” I give up, even the machines know what’s coming.

Alas, Naida’s conference call sadly was canceled in part because of technical difficulties.

Today I woke up at noon after a night of horrid dreams. It is raining outside and bit dreary but the tree at the back of the yard, at the height of its spring colors, cheers me up.

IMG_8048

 

That’s all. Keep on social distancing. Remember to say hello to yourself in the mirror every morning. You are always there for you.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

For every species, their main competition is members of the same species. They’re the ones that want exactly the same resources that the others of your species do. This goes for humans too. We compete with each other for resources. Collections of humans, whether tribes, states, empires, or whatever also compete for resources with other tribes, states, and empires.

This is the problem with human-caused climate change either local or global (we do have many examples of other species causing local climate change [recently at times with human assistance] and one or two examples of global climate change).

For this reason, global human-induced climate change cannot be dealt with unless humanity sees itself as one single society.

Even so, Malthus is correct in that without some means of controlling population or securing off-world resources ultimately we will destroy ourselves. Hope is the myrrh of disappointment.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 
This continues my posting of the entries in a diary I kept in 1963, 57 years ago. The diary and another one from 1964 for some unknown reason have accompanied me all these years through all my different life experiences. They are the only things that have, given my tendency to abandon or give away everything I have including wives every 10 years or so. The only other things that have remained with me consistently throughout the years are my children and a few dear friends. That is not too bad a deal I think.
May 18, 1963, Saturday.

I feel terrible about the exam. I must have done very poorly. I will do better on my next one.

President Kennedy has decided to visit the pope during his tour of Italy because, he says, of the Pope’s failing health. When John XXIII the world will lose a great man. Few men have done more for humanity and the human spirit in this quarter-century than Pope John. What makes his accomplishments more impressive is that he has done it all not through the use of power or dialectic but only through the greatness of and compassion in his soul.

(I cannot believe I used “myrrh” in a sentence. I was a little over-wrought about Pope John, but I was a practicing Catholic back then. I am a non-practicing Catholic. agnostic. or atheist now depending on the day you ask me.)

 

May 20, 1963, Monday.

It is raining today. It is on of those pleasant warm weather showers that I have always found enjoyable. It is like a dark curtain that drops over one separating him from the heat and dust of the day. It cleans the air as it cleans the mind.

We had a study session today in which we went over the previous contract exams. I found myself opposing every answer to the questions that were advanced by the other members of the practice group. Two of them left in disgust.

I hope I will do better on the next exam. I am sure I will.

 

May 22, 1963, Wednesday.

With every examination, I feel like I did poorly. I find myself faced with two choices, either I should drive myself harder so that I do better or should I allow the haunting question of whether what I am doing is worthwhile at all.

Perhaps deep analysis would solve the dilemma. Analysis in-depth, however, is not something accomplished in a single day. Sometimes it takes a whole life.

My social position is not one that lends itself to the dedication of one’s life to analyzing primary human problems even if those problems are our own. A choice of goals must be made but without some faith, it is probably impossible. Unfortunately in our society today that faith seems to have been driven from the hierarchy of human values.

(For the life of me, I do not know what I was talking about here. I clearly was having a bad day.)

 

May 23, 1963, Thursday.

Today, regretfully, I have not studied. Instead, I began reading a new book, Sea Venture. It is partly a historical tale based on the shipwreck of Ad. G. Sommers (?) on Bermuda Island. I wish I could read books with the cold analysis of a dispassionate reader. Instead, I always seem to find myself entering the story as a participant. The words disappear. I discover myself on the deck of that ill-fated vessel. With my modern prejudices and fears, I find myself deposited back in that exciting if cruel time. It is my hands running along the barmaid’s thighs as I prepare to rape her. It is my face feeling the spray of the water as we enter Portsmouth Harbor, my nose smells the stench of the ships hold, my stomach destroyed by years of bad diet and my heart longing for a new start in the New World.

Perhaps entertainment is better than self-improvement. It certainly is much more enjoyable.

(Maybe that is all I have ever wanted in my life — to sit and read. In that way I could live thousands of lives, travel everywhere even into worlds of fantasy, experience things I could never have experienced in my mundane life. I guess those more modern than I hooked into their smart-phones or computers experience even more that I did by reading. But alas, who brings the food. Perhaps that is the future, machines produce the food and delivered it to us sitting before our screens traveling through dreamland.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 
Today, I decided to drop into one of my favorite blog sites Logarithmic History (https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/). It is a blog that traces the history of the universe throughout the year beginning on January 1 with the Big Bang and ending on December 31 with today. The years progress, however, day by day on a logarithmic scale. The author explains:

“If you’re a bit hazy about logarithms, all you have to know is that each day of the year covers a shorter period in the history of the universe than the preceding day (5.46% shorter). January 1 begins with the Big Bang and covers a full 754 million years. January 2 covers the next 712 million years, and so on. Succeeding days cover shorter and shorter succeeding intervals in the history of the universe. At this rate, a given calendar date covers only a tenth as much time as a date 41 days earlier.”

“On this logarithmic scale, Earth is formed on January 20, trilobites arise toward the end of February, and dinosaurs meet their doom on April 6. The middle of the year finds Homo erectus giving way to early versions of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. October begins with King David and ends with Columbus. By December 7, we reach the year of the Beatles’ first LP (1963). December 31 covers just one year, 2017; calendar time and history-of-the-universe time finally coincide at midnight.”

 

Here is his entry for today March 28th, he discusses the rise of social insects.

“Certainly the statistics on social insects today are impressive.”

‘The twenty-thousand known species of eusocial insects, mostly ants, bees, wasps and termites, account for only 2 percent of the approximately one million known species of insects. Yet this tiny minority of species dominate the rest of the insects in their numbers, their weight, and their impact on the environment. As humans are to vertebrate animals, the eusocial insects are to the far vaster world of invertebrate animals. … In one Amazon site, two German researchers … found that ants and termites together compose almost two-thirds of the weight of all the insects. Eusocial bees and wasps added another tenth. Ants alone weighed four times more than all the terrestrial vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined.” E. O. Wilson pp 110-113”

“E. O. Wilson, world’s foremost authority on ants, and one of the founders of sociobiology, thinks that the origin of insect eusociality might have lessons for another major evolutionary transition, the origin of humans (and of human language, technology, culture, and complex social organization). In his book The Social Conquest of Earth he argues that a key step in both sets of transitions was the development of a valuable and defensible home — in the case of humans, a hearth site. Wilson returns to this argument in his book Genesis: The Deep Origin of Human Societies, just published, which I’ll get around to saying more about here eventually. On the same topic, Mark Moffett’s book The Human Swarm: How Human Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall, asks how it is that we somehow rival the social insects in our scale of organization.”

“One trait found in both ants and humans is large-scale warfare. Wilson gives an idea of the nature of ant warfare in fictional form in his novel Anthill. It’s an interesting experiment, but also disorienting. Because individual recognition is not important for ants, his story of the destruction of an ant colony reads like the Iliad with all the personal names taken out. But Homer’s heroes fought for “aphthiton kleos,” undying fame (and got some measure of it in Homer’s poem). The moral economy of reputation puts human cooperation in war and peace on a very different footing from insect eusociality. (Here’s my take on “ethnic group selection,” which depends on social enforcement, perhaps via reputation.)”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

 

People are not only people. They are people surrounded by things and circumstances. Human beings are their history. There is no such thing as an individual. We are each the sum of our history and the circumstances that enfold us.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

At a certain age
We wanted to confess our sins but there were no takers.
White clouds refused to accept them, and the wind
Was too busy visiting sea after sea.
We did not succeed in interesting the animals.
Dogs, disappointed, expected an order,
A cat, as always immoral, was falling asleep.
A person seemingly very close
Did not care to hear of things long past.
Conversations with friends over vodka or coffee
Ought not be prolonged beyond the first sign of boredom.
It would be humiliating to pay by the hour
A man with a diploma, just for listening.
Churches. Perhaps churches. But to confess there what?
That we used to see ourselves as handsome and noble
Yet later in our place an ugly toad
Half-opens its thick eyelid
And one sees clearly: “That’s me.”
     Czeslaw Milosz

 

D. Apologies, Regrets, Humiliations, and Comments:

 
Some comments on my previous post. I have omitted the names of the commenters because in the past some people objected to being identified.

1. This is an excellent and very funny blog. It cheered me up in the time of the Plague; or Corvid19. Or whatever this fucking thing is.

2. So, is it true that the Decameron is the product of the stories Boccaccio and his friends told each other while isolating themselves up on Bellosguardo hill while the plague raged below in Firenze?

Should we take some meaning from it? Or at least start looking for some equivalent enterprise?

3. Stay safe Al-Azeem!

4. In response to the entry that ends with “Naritivium essentially replaces magic in a universe without it”:

Sentence one takes me back to my days as a philosophy major. Epistemology- how do we know what we know? Etc. Are you sure phlogiston isn’t really real? And causality and David Hume: Prove it! — you can’t. But you can stick it in your desk drawer, as he did, and carry on. And of course, the Buddhists, for whom it’s all Maya and illusion, so go sit under a bodhi tree and seek apotheosis, OR: go wallow in social distancing and house arrest and hope your TV doesn’t conk out.

5. In response to “Speaking of ability, it has been said, or I have read it somewhere that most sane, rational human beings learn quite early on that you feel just as certain even when you’re wrong. For this reason, the strength of your belief is usually not a valid measure of its relation to reality”:

This, of course, is the root of much domestic strife and sitcom comedy. Imagine if everyone Didn’t do that. Probably if all were like that, it would describe the terminal boredom of heaven.

6. I have been thinking of you. Lots of time to think, as you mentioned. How are you planning to get your treatments in SF? It is even possible to get the treatments? Is it safe to go for them? I presume the overnight at Peter’s is not going to happen. I know that you will figure it out, because that is what you are good at, figuring hard things out. Better than most. You are also good at getting hard stuff done when you want to.

To which I responded, “I don’t know about getting hard things done. It is usually those who remain strong and give support that allows others to get the hard things done.”

7. Thank you for your email. Due to the Coronavirus, our office is closed until April 7, 2020.
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TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Nowadays only cosmologists and particle physicists are allowed to invent new kinds of matter when they want to explain why their theories totally fail to match observed reality.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S MYSTERY:

cinema_volta

DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS?

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S ART ODYSSEY:

Zoe Lacchei 5

 

ZOE LACCHEI

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