April 2011 through June 2011

Second quarter 2011

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. May 12, 2011


1. 1837: Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Robert Southey was published.

2. 2011: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a report prepared by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 48 women are raped every hour.

How much American’s really value those who took down Osama bin Laden:

Maybe we should draft fortune 500 CEO’s, put them in uniforms and drop them on some Al Qaeda stronghold. It may not frighten the terrorists, but I bet is helps out our economy.


mission district

mission district (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, on a pleasant warm sunny day while strolling down Mission Street as it plunges through San Francisco’s Mission District, I thought about some of the changes that have occurred in the area since I first arrived there in 1970.

For those of you who may be reading this and have never visited the City or are unfamiliar with it, the Mission district, is now the barrio of San Francisco. Originally a working class district, peopled mostly by Irish laborers and later a few of the italian immigrants that did not settle in and around North Beach, in the late sixties began its conversion into the barrio as the previous residents moved into the suburbs.

Mission Street, the districts “main street,” I have watched evolve from the low-priced furniture store district and shops servicing the white working class accompanied by a collection of seedy bars and local restaurants, to conversion into markets for the residents of the emerging barrio. Then as now, because of the relatively low rents, the area attracted few upscale restaurants. In the 70’s my favorite was La Traviata an Italian restaurant, During the early 90’s Delfinia’s opened on 18th street. It became Julia Child’s favorite restaurant in the City. It remains one of the City’s best if not the best restaurant. At the same time, Valencia, a street running parallel to Mission exploded into a gormet ghetto producing some of the City’s finest restaurants. During the late 90’s, some nightclubs and associated establishments began populating Mission Street itself.

From the early 1970’s until now , the Mission was renowned for its latin dance clubs. I sometimes used to go to Caesar’s Latin Palace owned by a man who was a perennial candidate for mayor, running essentially to eliminate the regulations that inhibited his plans for his establishment, like remaining open all night and things like that.

Once a famous bongo player from Cuba performed at the club and Francis Ford Coppola decided to make a documentary about the musician. The night they were filming the documentary, I went to the club with my daughter Jessica who was about 7 years old at the time and her mother. Jessica had been dressed, at her request,t in an appropriate costume, including a turban on her head. While I danced with her mother, Jessica decided to put on her own performance on the dance floor. He dancing became so torrid that the film crew and the band invited her on to the stage and her impromptu dance was recorded as a significant portion of the documentary.

As I continued my walk, I noticed that Caesar’s Palace had been replaced by a differently named dance hall and I wondered what had happened to Caesar. I was sure he’d had stopped running for mayor by now having never garnered more that a few hundred votes in any election. Almost as soon as that thought passed into my mind, pasted on the wall was a sign urging the citizens of the mission group to vote for him for mayor. Good luck, Caesar.


Delayed for several reasons including concerns about Vince. What’s up with him? By now most main protagonists in the usual mystery novel or thriller would have either been shot at, beaten up or at least have recognized the basic elements of the plot. Not our Vinnie. He blithely continues on, not recognizing or it seems imagining himself in danger. Hamlet like, he steadfastly ignores the evidence laying all over the plot and continues to look to others to do his work for him.

Fat Al, Ike and even Ray seem more interesting and competent. (I am thinking that if I ever try to write another novel, the rotund and donnish Ike could become a Nero Wolf type character, with Ray as his Archie.)

Perhaps Vince should be murdered or something in the next few chapters. No, better he is shot and lies in a coma in the hospital so if needed he court be resuscitated as a character in a later novel. All the action can take place around his hospital room, sort of like that scene in the Godfather where Michael saves his wounded father. Now Michael, there was a suitable main protagonist for a thriller.

And what about that Isabella, there is only so much mysterious “femme fatale,” one can take. At some point she either has to either stupidly put herself in danger so that the male hero can save her or in more modern guise the male gets in trouble and she rescues him by being more of a man than he is. I guess a little of that may be apparent in the scuffle in the street after they leave the restaurant. Also, I am not particularly enamored with her once she is out of character. What it with the grunge or whatever it is look. Maybe she has to go too.


a. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels, only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

b. Today’s chart:



“With $55 oil we don’t need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.”
President George W. Bush in 2005.

If it was good enough for George why isn’t it good enough for the Republican members of Congress?

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. May 7, 2011


2011: It has been reported that Chuck Norris, the martial artist-turned-actor-turned-Internet meme-turned-wingnut who has entered a new phase of his career as a regular writer of columns in Tea Party publications, had been regularly plagiarizing large portions of his columns.

Sadly, it seems that intellectual honesty was not part of Walker, Texas Ranger‘s charm.*

*Please note: I have plagiarized almost everything in this item. Is it plagiarism if you admit it? If you do not make money on it should the author care? Besides the original author of the piece was clearly a vicious deranged liberal. Who cares where Walker got his material? Nobody believes it anyway. Please lay off the lawman.


Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer

Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflections on Osama bin Laden:

Osama bin Laden set out to bankrupt America, betting that American leaders would spend trillions — every last cent in the Treasury — on trying to defeat him. According to Ezra Klein:

“[I]t isn’t quite right to say bin Laden cost us all that money. We decided to spend more than a trillion dollars on homeland security measures to prevent another attack. We decided to invade Iraq as part of a grand, post-9/11 strategy of Middle Eastern transformation. We decided to pass hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts and add an unpaid-for prescription drug benefit in Medicare while we were involved in two wars. And now, partially though not entirely because of these actions, we are deep in debt. Bin Laden didn’t — couldn’t — bankrupt us. He could only provoke us into bankrupting ourselves. And he came pretty close.”


We are experiencing some of the few very warm days that the City of San Francisco enjoys during the year. In a few weeks the rising overheated air of the Central Valley will suck the offshore fog bank through the Golden Gate to cover the City in its summer blanket of cooling fog. Until then the City’s citizens enjoy their few short weeks of summer. I few days ago, I rode past Dolores Park of the tram. The Park was filled with thousands of people most of whom were laying on the grass as though they were at the beach.

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dolores Park is a marvel of an urban park. Built on the side of a hill that rises above the Mission District of the City, it was designed constructed as a series of large terraces cut into the hill. It resembles a gigantic theater facing the stage on which the towers and spires of downtown San Francisco ascend like some shining Olympus awaiting its actors to begin some tragedy or comedy about the mercurial lives of the gods.


Chapter 20 (cont.)

Vince stared at the door through which Ray’s picturesque presence disappeared. He smiled, shook his head, sat back for a moment, then leaned forward and dialed Stephanie’s number. She answered at the first ring as though she were waiting for his call.

“Hi Steph, it’s me Vince Ray said you wanted me to call.”

“Oh Vince,” she slurred. “What an interesting and handsome young man.”

“Ah yes, that he is, interesting I mean. What did you want to tell me?”

There was silence for a moment and then she said in a much firmer voice, “Can you come down here this evening? We could have dinner. I have some things to tell you that I think you should know.”

“Is it about Sam’s death?”

“Yes, and more.”

“I think that is something you should tell the police not me.”

“Oh Vince, I couldn’t do that. In affects the firm and others. I need your advice too. Can’t you come tonight” She pleaded?

Vince became a bit annoyed. All he could picture is the potential of a wrestling match with the drunken bereaved widow. Not that she’s not a very desirable piece he thought for a moment. “You must understand, I am quite busy. Why not tell me over the phone what it is you think I should know?”

“No Vince,” she almost shouted. “Someone could be listening to our telephone conversations. Same was always worried about wire tapping. Besides there is too much to tell over the phone. All those secret so-called prayer meetings.”

That grabbed Vince’s attention. “Does this have anything to do with the Brethren,” he inquired?

“Yes, that’s them. How did you know about them, I haven’t told anyone about them, Not the police. Not that nosey nasty women,”

Woman,” Vince asked. “Do you remember her name?”

“Not really, said she was a private investigator.”

“Isabella Young,” Vince suggested.

“That may be it, Do you know her? Imagine only two days after Sam’s death she comes around asking questions about him, I did not even invite her in. Just told her to leave me alone.”

“OK, I’ll tell you what,” He sighed. “I really will be working here until late tonight on things I canny put off. How about, I rearrange my morning schedule and I come out there for say lunch?”

“I guess it can wait until lunch tomorrow,” she drawled. “All right, I will see you then. I will look forward to it. Let’s say noon. Please don’t disappoint me Vince. This is important.” And she hung up.

Vince sat there for a moment. “Isabella sure gets around,” he thought. “Why would I let myself get roped into lunch? I must be getting either lonely and horny.” He then almost automatically began to punch Isabella’s number into the phone, and then stopped when there was a knock on the door. His 2 PM appointment had arrived.


a. Today’s Chart:

Note: 1. This chart may not give an accurate picture of the various presidential contributions to the National Debt. If it were in constant dollars, the total 1981 debt would be larger and Obama’s share appear somewhat smaller with each the other presidents’ shares appearing slightly larger the further back from the present date they were incurred.
2. It also fails to identify which parties controlled Congress during the various administrations. Much of the Clinton and W. Bush debts were incurred during Republican controlled Congresses, while Democrats controlled Congress through most of the Reagan, Bush I and Obama regimes.
3. Nevertheless, it was the Republican administrations, that abandoned their traditional fiscally conservative roots, repeatedly claiming whenever they presented their grossly out of balance budgets, that deficits did not matter.

On the other hand according to a report in the NY Times:

“Together, the economy and the tax bills enacted under former president George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent by President Obama, wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated revenue. That’s nearly half of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt. Federal tax collections now stand at their lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years.”

The so-called “Debt Problem” appears to be more a function of declining revenues than any increases in domestic spending other than military budget augmentation.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

On Markets:

“A market is something that one goes into to buy groceries and usually has a prefix affixed to it like “super”. Everything else is a casino.”


“The excessive hoarding of riches by some denies them to the majority, and thus the very wealth that is accumulated generates poverty.”
The recently beatified Pope John Paul II.

Does this clearly socialistic and perhaps communistic statement disqualify him from sainthood?

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. May 5, 2011


2011: As of 16 February there were over 156 million public blogs in existence.

Alas, most with nothing to say. On the other hand, it can also be said that there are 156 million people out there who have the ego strength and confidence or who live in a world of such terminal fantasy so as to believe that they have something important or interesting to say. Good for them, and good for me, since I am one of them.


Osama bin Laden has been killed. Many of the same people who believed the War in Iraq was initiated to remove weapons of mass destruction, now claim the reports of Osama’s death are all a part of a grand liberal conspiracy to get Barack Obama reelected.


Noe Valley, San Francisco, California, USA.

Noe Valley, San Francisco, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday was blissfully warm and sunny. In the early afternoon I went into the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco to have coffee with my friend Peter Grenell.

For those of you not familiar with the City of San Francisco, it is a city of distinct neighborhoods. Noe Valley is one of the few that has gentrified gracefully. In the forty or so years that I have observed  the area’s evolution,  escalating home prices forced a few people to move out by. Most happily sold into the rising real estate market and moved to Danville or some place like that. Chain stores, although some exist along its main commercial street, have not overwhelmed the area.

The area began as a working family community of attached wood sided single family Victorian homes and duplexes. In the mid-sixties, the working class families, as was fashionable at the time, moved to the suburbs in a mistaken belief they would finding a better life and schools there. Artists seeking lower cost accommodations moved in, followed almost immediately by the hippies. The neighborhood transformed into a hip, funky, artsy scene.

They were in turn followed in the early seventies by young marrieds, often civil service employees, looking for a hip locale and attracted by the relatively inexpensive property prices at the time.

After a brief flirtation with the City’s lesbian community that was searching for a Castro District they could call their own, the dot-com inundation broke upon the neighborhood as the new young millionaires saw the area as fitting their ideal lifestyle, hip and expensive. Fortunately for the neighborhood that tide rapidly crested and the area retained its now somewhat upscale but still mixed appearance and atmosphere.

Some working class families still live there alongside rapidly aging artists and hippies, a few pioneer lesbian couples and the remnants of the now significantly less wealthy dot comers. The young bureaucrats, most of whom have made it into the upper reaches of the bureaucracy remain usually in same houses they purchased 30 years ago.

For about a decade I lived there too, in a 100-year-old Italianate Victorian two unit building. Before I purchased it, the building had served as a well-known crash pad for artists and hippies who had left the East coast in search of California dreaming .

Some of the old shops persist, like Haystack Pizza and Tuggy’s Hardware and Shu Fat’s grocery but others like Herbs Cafe are gone.

I met Peter, a man of about my age, at a coffee shop that had occupied the same spot for many years but was now called Bernie’s’ Cafe. It was owned by a woman named Bernie who had worked there during its previous incarnation and eventually purchased it.

Peter and I sat in the sun on benches in front of the shop, drank our coffee, stared at the parade of neighborhood people strolling by (a number of whom I recognized) and reflected about how lucky it was being old as we were to sit in the sun like we were and not be anxious that there was something we needed to do.

After a few hours, we walked up 24th St. ( the main commercial street) about a block to a bar called Bliss something or other to hear some live jazz.

Most Sundays, Larry Voukovitch, a mainstay of the SF jazz scene for as long as I can remember, performs there. A colleague of mine, Kerry Shapiro, was Larry’s manager when Kerry wasn’t otherwise lawyering.

Larry was appearing that day with his geriatric Croatian quartet. I really do not know it they were Croatian (although they clearly were geriatric and a quartet), but the base player, from whom Peter is receiving lessons in the instrument, was originally from that part of the world. On sax was Peter Yellin another fairly well-known and aging jazz musician.

There were also about 12 to 15 other people about my age there to listen to them. Additionally, two young japanese women from Tokyo in their early 20’s sat there attentively. One was a teacher (music I assume) and the other an aspiring jazz singer here to learn at the feet of the masters. (Peter and I deduced the aged and balding base player and the willowy japanese jazz singer were an item. We guessed this after observing them walking hand in hand align 24th St. Aren’t we the little gossips now.)

Thank God or the vagaries of chance, that there exists in this world a nation like Japan full of obsessive compulsive personalities willing to travel the world to obsessively immerse themselves the dying western musical performing arts. Should the dark ages descend as some predict, I believe the Japanese will assume the role of medieval monks and keep alive the remnants of western musical culture.

As I listened to them play, I was reminded of New York in the late fifties and sixties when the cool sophisticated New York jazz sounds of musicians like Oscar Peterson could be heard in dives in Greenwich Village and elegant nightclubs like the Embers just off Times Square.( Of course then we, the audience, were usually drunk and stoned. I, however, now listened to Larry and the Gang on nothing stronger than lemonade.)

During that era the centers of music and jazz in the US were New York, Chicago, New Orléans, St Louis and San Francisco, until they were driven out by the sounds of rock and rhythm and blues coming primarily out of Memphis and Detroit.

During the bands second set the Japanese singer (named Miyomi) got up and sang a pretty good version of Gershwin’s Summertime.

Letter, as the sun set behind Twin Peaks and the temperature cooled, I walked the mile or two back to where I was staying. In San Francisco the sun does not simply set, after it passes behind the peak, the City east of the mountain lies in shadow while the sky remains brightly late afternoon for an hour or so.

Even when one is experiencing great sadness life can be wonderful. Don’t miss it.


Chapter 20

Ray was dressed today in comfortable flats, dark unfashionable culottes from which protruded his hairy muscular calfs, a bolero jacket over a white dress shirt and regimental striped tie. He had a large loop earring dangling from his left ear and his head was wrapped in a variegated red bandana from which his multicolored hair peeked out.

He sat down in one of the chairs in front of Vince’s desk after setting the hand-truck containing the file boxes along the wall next to the door and said, “That lady, Mrs Coign, is a piece of work”.

“How so?”

“Well, at first I did not think she would let me in.”

“I think I could guess why. Stephanie’s led a sheltered life,” Vince said. “Were you dressed like that?”

“Yeah, I didn’t have time to go home and change into my office outfit. Anyway when she did open the door she had a large glass in her hand filled, I guess, with booze. She looked ripped.”

“So what happened next?”

“She took me back through the house to the little room in the back, took a big swallow from the glass, pointed and said, ‘It’s all in there.'”

“I started going through the files and she stood there for a while watching me until she finished whatever was in the glass, and then asked ‘would you like something to drink?”’

“‘Water would be fine’ I said and went back to work. She disappeared for a while and when she returned she had my water and had refilled her glass. She then started talking almost non stop, asking me about what is was like working at the firm, what you were like, How awful it had been finding Mr. Coign dead. I felt like she was hitting on me.”

I guess that startled you,” interjected Vince?

“No, not at all, I’m AC/DC all the way.” He smiled at Vince as he said that.

Vince’s smile faded. “Go on, did she say anything else?.”

Ray’s smile broadened, “She then began going on about her husband and the firm. What a prick he was and how no one really knows what was really going on at the firm.”

Go on,” encouraged Vince, now intrigued.

“There was not much more. I had finished packing everything upend as I wheeled the files out to the door she said, ‘Have Vince call me when you get back to the office. There is a lot of things he should know. A lot of things I can tell him.'”

Anything else?”


“OK thanks. By the way you should be getting a call from a private investigator named Al Pischotti. I would like you to coördinate with him on the Isabella Yeung research.”

“Cool” and with that he got up and sauntered out of the office, leaving Vince staring at the door as it closed behind him. (to be continued)


a. Today’s Chart:

The end of the road for white males?

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“Corporations were originally created to carry out specific goals of the state. Now the state appears to exist only to carry out the specific goals of the corporations.”

c. What’s wrong with economics today?

Bankers do not believe the neoclassical economists’ baloney about the discipline of the free market, but they sure want you to.

“Lots of bankers knew that things were in trouble, and they went on — they did it anyway…Some of them did it because they could bet against it. Some of them did it because they could make fees by helping clients who were betting against it. And some of them did it just to keep the machine doing it and make huge bonuses.”
ProPublica reporter Jesse Eisenger on the 2008 financial collapse.


If anyone in sickness has undergone surgery at the hands of physicians or has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy. But if anyone in good health has castrated himself, if he is enrolled among the clergy he should be suspended, and in future no such man should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this refers to those who are responsible for the condition and presume to castrate themselves, so too if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians or by their masters, but have been found worthy, the canon admits such men to the clergy.”
Council of Nicaea 325, canon 1.

This quote demonstrates the evolutionary ability of religion and theology to change with the times. Under the Old Testament if one was “wounded in the stones,” one could not attend temple. Under the “New Covenant,” even if you were castrated by barbarians you could still be a priest. If it was so important for one to be able to do it, why does the Catholic Church and others make such a to do in favor of not doing it? Now that I think about it why do they put priests in dresses?

Unfortunately, neither the New or Old Testaments nor the Koran appeared to prohibit one from engaging in their respective ministries if they were pederasts. I conclude from this that God really wants men (especially his ministers) to be able to do it, but was less concerned with whether they did it or not or with whom they did it to.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. May 2, 2011


1995: At the super maximum prison in Pelican Bay California, guards boiled an inmate named Vaughn Dortch alive.

Although it could be argued that this was merely an attempt to reduce the terrible overcrowding in California’s prisons, anyone with a name like Vaughn Dortch was probably white trailer trash and deserved to die.

By the way, you all may be pleased to learn that when California in 1980s began its massive prison expansion as part of the War on Drugs (about 80% of the prison population has been incarcerated for drug related violations), it embarked on the largest prison building program in the history of the world, larger that the Gulags and larger than World War II Germany.

Hooray for us. We’re number one. Thank God they did it in time though. Think of all the criminals that now would be walking our streets today if they had not.

The construction and operation of prisons was one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing segments of governmental expenditures during the past two decades in California, and one of the major reasons for California’s fiscal crisis. Yet the Republicans in the State Legislature (and some of the Democrats) staunchly refuse to cut this massive public welfare and spending program as part of any proposal for reducing public debt through reduction of governmental expenditures. Why you ask? Public interest or public safety, perhaps? No, the Prison employee unions are some of the largest contributors of campaign funds to the Party. Republicans supporting, a public employee union? If it gets them elected, why not? On the Federal level the same approach to cutting wasteful military expenditure depends on which party receives the most campaign contributions from the defense industry.


I do not know if it was because I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle this morning with its news reportage values even lower than the, Bangkok Post or my residence in a foreign country has atrophied my appreciation of the subtleties of my native culture, but I could find no news, even of a humorous kind, worth repeating. This I found disconcerting since it was Sunday and having nothing better to do, I assiduously worked through even the enormous quantity of advertising inserts. By the way, who reads the advertising inserts except the bored and hopeless and they are not going to buy anything anyway?


I guess I should begin with my departure from the condemned building in Bangkok that was my residence for the past two months. At 8:30 AM, Hayden, the maid and I were picked up by “Uncle Ute” and taken to the airport. Uncle Ute is the policeman boyfriend of SWAC’s brother Nong. We loaded 4 large red suitcases and 4 pieces of “carry-on” bags at least one of which contained enough food to satisfy any cravings or hunger pains we may experience during our trip.

We arrived at the airport and met up with SWAC and “Uncle Scott,” a casual friend of SWAC’s. SWAC also had two carry-ons and an enormous suitcase of a powered blue color.

We were also met by a man and a woman in uniform. The woman, introduced to us as SWAC’s cousin, appeared to work for Thai customs. The man was airport security. SWAC explained that they were going to assist us through the process. SWAC was in her glory, happily demonstrating her power and connections to the maid, uncles Scott and Ute and, of course, me.

We checked in and SWAC, Hayden and I were ushered into the private confines of the VIP priority passport control station where the passport control officer pointed out the SWAC’s passport had expired. It was an amazing transformation. SWAC, who up until then maintained a regal and imperious air as though she was the member of some royal familiar another, collapsed into the bewildered helplessness of the farmer’s daughter, that she actually is, visiting the big city for the first time.

It was agreed that I would continue on with Hayden and she would follow later after resolving her passport problem.

The flight was long and uneventful, except for Hayden’s discovery of a little boy of his same age as him in the seat in front of us. They bonded, much to the discomfort of everyone sitting around us as they yelled and giggled and climbed over and under the seats.

We arrived and with two luggage trolleys piled high with the over large suitcases. As a result, we were singled out for meticulous luggage inspection by the US Customs Service that took over an hour.

After two days together in San Francisco during which Hayden and I occupied ourselves in various activities that would only appeal to very young boys and very old men, SWAC arrived. She was transported from the Airport to where Hayden and I were staying in a large white pickup truck driven by “Uncle Joe,” in order to collect Hayden and luggage mountain. (Why would anyone buy a “white” pick-up truck?)


Vince returned to his office a little after noon and stopped by the desk of Nina, his administrative assistant as secretaries are called now, and asked her to order a BLT sandwich and a Coke as he planned to eat lunch working at his desk. Nina informed him that she had received a message from Alaska, that the bush pilot they had retained to fly into the fishing camp where Charley Bowman was vacationing radioed that when he arrived there the other patrons of the camp reported that Charley had not returned from his hike to his favorite fishing spot and that a search had been organized to try to find out what had happened to him.

Vince stared as her while he tried to control the burning sensation he was beginning to feel in his empty stomach. “Well, let me know immediately if there is any news. Also I am going to be quite busy for the next hour or so and I do not want to be disturbed by anything, unless of course it is news about Charley. Also, let Ray know I want him in my office with the files from Sam’s at 2 PM.”

He stalked into his office threw himself into his chair and muttered “shit” then dialed David’s extension. He was determined not to bear the cost of Ike’s legal fees. He told David that he wanted the Executive Committee to approve his hiring of Ike to represent him and their agreement for the firm to bear the cost. David immediately objected, but Vince was not above threatening him with his immediate resignation if he did not agree. He then telephoned each member of the Executive Committee until he had enough votes and stopped, drafted a memorandum of the minutes of the telephone meeting of the EC and asked Nina to deliver it to the EC members he had called and wait until each one signed it.

He then put in a call to the managing partner of the Washington DC office. Sam’s death and the general economic distress of the firm had prompted several of the partners in the DC office to threaten to leave for another firm. He spent about a half hour outlining his plans for turning around the firms fortunes and asking the partners in the office to allow him some time to get this all done. As expected, the DC managing partner countered with an attempt to extort the firm for a greater share of firm revenue for the DC partners. Vince promised that he would discuss it with other members of the EC and get back to him. He had no intention of doing so, for now.

He then called his office manager, Quentin Cooper and scheduled an hour meeting with him at 2:30 that afternoon to review the firms financial status and other administrative issues.

It was now two PM and t his office door swung open without a knock or any other announcement and the ambiguously dressed but ever confident Ray walked in pulling a hand truck piled high with file boxes.


a. Privatize this:

“What we have today with the intelligence business is something far more systemic: senior officials leaving their national security and counterterrorism jobs for positions where they are basically doing the same jobs they once held at the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies–but for double or triple the salary and for profit. It’s a privatization of the highest order, in which our collective memory and experience in intelligence–our crown jewels of spying, so to speak–are owned by corporate America.”
Tim Shorrock, Spies For Hire.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“Corporations would not exist if their investors had to assume the same economic risks as any other individual in a free society.”

c. Today’s Chart:

Annual Expenditure in Dollars

Basic Education for all $6 billion*

Cosmetics in the USA $8 billion

Water and sanitation for all $9 billion

Ice-cream in Europe $11 billion

Reproductive health for all women $12 billion

Perfumes in Europe and the USA $12 billion

Basic health and nutrition $13 billion

Pet Foods in Europe and the USA $ 35 billion

Business Entertainment in Japan $17 billion

Cigarettes in Europe  $ 50 billion

Alcoholic drinks in Europe $ 105 billion

Narcotic drugs in the world $ 400 billion

Military spending in the world $ 780 billion


“Every bureaucracy seeks to increase the superiority of the professionally informed by keeping their knowledge and intuitions secret. Bureaucratic administration always tends to be an administration of ‘secret sessions’, in so far as it can, it hides its actions and knowledge from criticism…The concept of the “official secret” is the specific invention of bureaucracy.”
Max Webber, Economy and Society.

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 27, 2011


2011: Although the percentage of foreign-born individuals in the US population is about 12%, forty percent of Ph.D. scientists working in the United States were born abroad, the great majority of them not of European descent.

What does this mean? Could it mean that native-born Americans are incorrigibly stupid? Maybe, after all about half of them voted for the Republican Party in the last election. Or perhaps it means if we do not put a stop to this flood of PhD’s across our porous borders soon all the smart people in the country will be foreign-born. Do you really want to live in a country like that?


a. The Faux War:

The phony border war over ownership of an ancient temple continues. Each side claims the other fired the first shots and that they were only defending themselves from aggression. The armies of both sides have begun removing their national civilians from the area; all the better to assure no-one but the respective militaries report what is going on. The removal of civilians also provides a clear field to expend large amounts of ammunition so that the respective military budgets can be augmented to replace that lost as well as provide additional reserves just to be safe. A few dozen soldiers on each side will of course give up their lives so that their deaths can be used as symbols of national courage for making the ultimate sacrifice for country and King. Of course no one asked either the King or the citizens of the respective countries, if they actually wanted these young men to bravely give up their lives for a pile of old ricks.

b. Malaysians can dance:

The government of Malaysia announced that it will allow its citizens to dance the “Poco-Poco” if they want to.

c. The Easter Bunny refuses to visit New Zealand for Easter. Threatens never to return:

During the Easter Holidays 24,000 bunnies were shot dead in the annual rabbit hunt on the South Island of New Zealand.

d. The Hell with the Women and Children, Save the Dammed Beer First:

Recently, a group of men in Australia were riding in a pick-up truck loaded with cases of beer. The beer and one man riding in the back of the vehicle fell off the truck as it rounded a curve in the road. The other members of the group stopped the truck, salvaged the beer, reloaded it on to the back of the truck and drove off, leaving the man, who had fallen off, behind to die.

e. Lese Majesté:

A Thai senior government official, supported by the Army Chief of Staff, threatened to charge a well-respected academic who proposed an “Eight-point proposal” to reform the monarchy in a lecture, with violating Thailand’s Lese Majesté law for insulting the monarchy. No one asked the King if he was insulted by the proposals.

For your information, what I have just written here could also be construed as a violation of the law, making me a criminal. All of you reading this have also probably violated the same law. See you in jail. It could be fun.


This is probably my last post from Thailand for a month or two since I will be returning to the US tomorrow.

While sitting in the apartment watching the children play and laugh, I thought back to my childhood to see if I could remember laughing. I could recall times that I cried, some of them very clearly, but laughter, nothing came to mind. I must have laughed, all children do. My childhood was not so grim that it never could have happened. Perhaps happiness is just something we assume as children and so, at best, vaguely remember it when it happens, but sorrow is so unanticipated it sears itself into our memories.


It was one of those sunny days becoming more and more common in the Bay Area perhaps one of the few more welcome effects of global warming, so Vince decided to walk to Fat Al’s office and give himself some time to try to think things through. He walked up Market Street. He had been told that it had been called by the old timers as “the slot”. It has traditionally been considered the City’s main street.

When he arrived at the Bush Street its junction with Market, he turned right on to Bush and began the long climb up and along the side of Nob Hill, skirting Union Square. Beyond Union Square as he walked along he could look to his left along the streets that intersected Bush down into San Francisco’s Tenderloin, the repository of the City’s lost souls undergoing a make over by the Asian immigrants moving in sensibly to take advantage of the relatively cheap rents (and property values) of an area close to the City’s downtown.

Finally he arrived at the crossing of Bush and Larkin. Fat Al’s place of business was located on the top floor of a small four-story brick building perched on the southwest corner.

Fat Al operated out of the top two floors, while the bottom two floors were occupied by a small civil engineering firm owned by an attractive Iranian-American woman who also owned the building.

Vince pressed the button beside the entrance that announced “Pischotti Investigations,” heard the buzzer magnetically unlocking the door, pushed the door open, walked to the small elevator and took it to Fat Al’s office on the fourth floor.

Upon exiting the elevator into the cramped office space Vince was greeted by Marge, Fat Al’s wife and office manager. Marge is a big woman every bit as tall as Vince, with a round smiling face that matched her personality and a bushy head of what was once dark blond hair beginning its metamorphosis to grey.

“Hy ya Vince,” She called out. “Great to see ya. The big man’s all excited about you comin by. Go right in. He’s waiting”

Vince smiled, winked and waved at Marge and walked into Fat Al’s office.

Fat Al, upon seeing Vince enter immediately rose from his old wooden office chair, circled his cluttered desk and grasped Vince in a suffocating bear hug. “Vince,” he shouted. “You’re back home. How’re ya doing? You look great. How’re those Thai girls treating you? What can I do for you?” he rambled on not giving Vince the time to answer even if he could, crushed as he was in the bear hug.

He released Vince but still held him by the shoulders and looking into Vince’s eyes said in a little softer voice, “You look good amico. Glad to have you back.”

Then dropping his arms and returning to his chair which squeaked loudly as he dropped his great bulk into his chair, inquired, “What’s up buddy”

Unlike the seeming bowling ball hardness of the equally endomorphic Ike, Fat Al’s adipose tissue seemed to cascade from his narrow shoulders to settle happily and loosely about his gargantuan hips, buttocks and lower belly. Vince thought for a moment that perhaps he was surrounding himself with all this heft in reaction to the health club fitness induced anorexia of the First and David. “Shakespeare was right,” he thought. “About skinny people, not attorneys,” he amended quickly.

Fat Al Pischotti at one time had been the head of the City Police Department’s Homicide Division. He still likes wearing his police special in a little holster affixed to bis belt. After putting in his 20 years to qualify for retirement, he took his pension and left the force to become one of the legion private investigators in the Dashiell Hammett Sam Spade tradition for which the City is so proud and whom they treat of celebrities. His business consisted mostly of skip traces and domestic squabbles, not the type of things Vince and his cohorts in the large law firms needed for the type of private investigations required by their corporate clients. For those matters they hired new style PI firms, usually large multi-office enterprises staffed by accountants and people with the word “forensics” contained somewhere in their title.

But for Vince’s purposes Fat Al was just what he wanted and needed now.


a. Today’s Chart.

Migration of seniors from the US to Mexico:

Interesting, Mexico gives us their young and we in turn give them back our old. Perhaps we can arrange an exchange. For every unemployed teenage Mexican receiving unemployment benefits we will accept the return of one American senior living on a social security pension inadequate to cover their living expenses in the US.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

One of the most important goals for any democratic government should be to avoid removing risk from enterprise. Yet it currently appears that just about the only function of government has become to shield enterprise from risk.”


“A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men.”

Camille Paglia as quoted on Masculine Virtues site.

As much as I may have to admit it, on this Camille may have a point. If she is right, we men may be dumber than I thought. According to her, unlike women who have no choice in the matter but to be as strange and bizarre as they often are, we men do, yet we do nothing about it but ask some other guy what he thinks)

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. April 25, 2011


2011: Recent surveys by Gallup found that world-wide roughly 700 million adults would like to migrate to another country permanently if they had the chance. The United States is the top desired destination country. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of these respondents, which translates to more than 165 million adults worldwide, name the United States as their desired future residence. With an additional estimated 45 million saying they would like to move to Canada, Northern America is one of the two most desired regions.

The rest of the top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 25 million or more adults would like to go) are predominantly European. Forty-five million adults who would like to move to the United Kingdom or to France as their desired destination, while 35 million would like to go to Spain and 25 million would like to relocate to Germany. Thirty-million consider moving to Saudi Arabia and an additional 25 million to Australia.

Hooray, for the USA. We are first again in something other than violent crimes and gun ownership. Should we consider channeling these new residents to Alabama [see Today’s Quote below] for indoctrination into American values. [30 million people want to migrate to Saudi Arabia? What’s that about?]


War and politics.

The on again off again pseudo war with Cambodia over an ancient temple, is on again. It seems as though the purpose of the current action is to kill about 10 troops and an equal number of civilians each day, and issue voluminous press releases demonstrating the military’s vigilance in defending the honor of King and country, in preparation for the up-coming elections (or coup). Make no mistake about it, this is the military’s private war. The civilian authorities have nothing to do with it other than to issue tepid assurances of support for the sacrifices of the troops in defense of the nations patrimony.


The “Hot” season is upon us here. The relatively comfortable temperatures that we experienced since last October have been replaced by a furnace that drives most farangs and many Thais indoors as surely as would a snowstorm. As I sit in the apartment, air conditioners set at their highest and watch Hayden and Nina play, I stare at the heating world outside. I realize that unlike what I had been used to in the US where the heat rising from the ground would hide the world behind shimmering waves, fracturing it into pieces that disappear and reappear as the waves crest and recede, here the world keeps getting clearer and brighter slowly leaching out its colors until suddenly without warning it darkens as a cloud passes in front of the sun and when the sun comes out again the colors are magically restored.

Recently I have been spending more and more time at the little masseuse’s apartment. Usually when Hayden and maid depart on whatever task set for them by SWAC, I travel from the apartment I share with them, a few steps around the corner to the masseuse’s place. She is usually at work at the health club, dispensing towels and cold drinks to the members of the club and providing massages, happy or therapeutic as the case may be, to men and women alike.

The health club is located in the Ambassador Hotel. About 20 years or so ago the Ambassador was considered one of the more fashionable hotels in the city. Not as fashionable, nor expensive as the venerable Oriental Hotel situated on a prime riverfront site. And, unlike the Oriental which maintained its luster and physical plant, the Ambassador has grown old and not particularly gracefully.

When it was new the owner of the Ambassador had many large aquariums built and placed throughout the public areas, each containing a great variety of fish, most of which were and still are large in size and usually gold or silver in color.

Extending from within the building are large aviaries, some as much as four stories high. These hold a good number of interesting bird species, some individuals of which appear to me to have lived in the aviaries since the hotel first opened. While the aviaries and aquariums cannot be said to be in disrepair, they look and are old.

On the second and third floor terraces of the hotel are several smaller aviaries usually containing one or two larger colorful birds with either distinctive calls or whistles, or the ability to shout out a word or two to passers-by. One bird in an aviary located near the pool lets out an annoying wolf whistle any time a woman walks by.

Now and then I would take Hayden with me to see the fish in the aquariums and visit the birds in the aviaries. We would accompany the old caretaker on his rounds to feed the birds and clean their cages. Hayden would help out a bit and the old man would relate to him some facts about the particular bird in each cage they visited.

During their rounds, I would often sit on one of the chairs of the fantastically shaped collection of furniture strewn about the terrace, all made from the roots of giant teak trees, giving the terrace the look of leafless extension of the jungle itself. I would smoke a cigar and watch them, engage in serious discussion as they trundled from cage to cage.

The owner of the hotel periodically remodels and upgrades small portions of the premises, currently a new lobby is under construction. The hotel now caters primarily to Indian and Arab tourists.

The health club is still in an old run down condition. A few years ago, however, a new spa was constructed in another part of the hotel offering some of the same services as the health club (minus the fitness equipment) for at least twice the cost.

About four aging female masseuses work in the health club along with about eight younger men who also double as fitness trainers.

Anyway, I spend my afternoons in her tiny apartment, playing with my computer and napping. It is quiet there, the only sounds are the deep-throated hum of the air-conditioner and the rumble, almost more felt than heard, of the traffic on the highway a few blocks away.


Chapter 19 (cont.)

“I think I understand basically what you are asking me to do,” he whispered. “However, do I also understand correctly, that among the reasons for the anxiety impelling you to seek counsel is that you believe, Coign’s death, the absence of Mr. Charles Bowman and the purloined files and Pepper and Rooney’s reticence all have something to do with ‘Red Star’?” “Otherwise, I see no urgency in your wish to retain my services. Nor for that matter do I see that my looking into the Red Star matter could in anyway protect your interests and better than existing counsel, unless you also believe that you may want me to look into the other issues as well, in which case that is entirely another matter”

Vince did not know whether to be amused at the man’s archaic mode of expression, annoyed at his assumptions or relieved at his perceptivity. Nevertheless he responded, “Yes, I guess your right. I do fear all these things are related, but I have no way of knowing if they do. I am also so focused on the management of the firm, as you know we’re are going through difficult times, as is the entire economy, that I feel out of my depth if they do, and I simply do not know who I can rely on to advise me except competent counsel of my choice and Pepper and Rooney would not be it”

Ike stared back at him for what seemed to be a long time, then said softly, “All right, I think I will have to first look into Red Star on my own and I will get back to you as soon as I can to let you know if I agree to accept the assignment. I admit, I find what you have told me interesting. In the meantime, I think you should, decide who it is I actually will be representing and begin assembling all the material that you wish me to review. You must understand, that if I do undertake this matter my office is ill-equipped to service a case of this size and complexity and I will be relying on retaining additional counsel that I trust. It could be expensive.”

With that he got up and departed with the same abruptness that Vince had left First’s office.

Vince handled his emerging buyer’s remorse by assuring himself that the guy had been recommended by Mike Daly, someone he trusted and that he actually liked dealing with old Ike. Nevertheless, he felt cornered by his old weakness of preferring to work with and trust people on the basis of their idiosyncrasies rather than what he may or may not know of their abilities.

He then put into a call to “Fat Al” Pischotti, his favorite PI who agreed to meet with him as soon as Vince got to Fat Al’s office at the corner of Bush and Larkin on the edge of the tenderloin district.

a. Today’s chart – Born Somewhere Else:

Percentage of each country (or territory) that is foreign-born migrants. Many former Soviet republics have seen a drop in foreign-born residents as scores of ethnic Russians left over the last two decades.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

“There is no such thing as a free market. There is always a transaction cost.”

It costs money to get into the market, it costs money to participate in it and it inevitably costs money to get out. What’s so free about it?


A guest quote provided to me by my friend “Density.”

“If the Japanese knew anyone from Alabama they would have never bombed Pearl Harbor.”
– Richard Prior

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 23. 2011

English: Map of Pitcairn Islands (rough), Paci...

Map of Pitcairn Islands (rough), Pacific Ocean, own work composed from various mapreferences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2011: According to UN estimates Pitcairn Islands is the worlds smallest country in terms of population containing just about 50 citizens.


a. Coup rumblings or show of force:

Military exercises by about 1000 élite troops are being held in Bangkok ostensibly so that the troops can show their support of the monarchy. In his speech to these troops the commander of the 1st Infantry Division (the troops that put down the Red Shirt protest last year) proclaimed, “All from the 1st Infantry Regiment are the Kings soldiers. Hence, you must be ready to act on commands of your superiors.” He then went on to urge them to have faith in their commanders and strictly obey their orders, and insisted that all soldiers should share the army chief’s stance.

Huh…what about the Kings stance or that of the democratically elected government?

b. Who runs the country:

It should be noted that although the current military high command apparently dominates the existing civilian government in power the opposition United Front for Democracy (UDD) is led by a general. The UDD has just severed its ties with the main opposition party, the Puea Thai (Thaksin and Red Shirt backed party).

Is this an attempt by the General to secure himself a position in the next government whether formed by coup or election?

c. Although it may only be proposed as electioneering propaganda the current ruling party proposes an interesting approach to taxes:

The ruling Democrats have proposed higher consumption taxes as a means of lowering the income gap. Now consumption taxes always have been criticized as a means for the very rich to transfer whatever burden of support for the government they may be asked to bear themselves to the poor, working and middle classes through progressive income taxes, not otherwise avoided by tax reductions on the rich by means of a flattened tax role or simple non progressive roll back of rates. Simply, the wealthiest people in a society spend relatively less of their income on consumable than the rest of us and apply more of it to savings and accumulation of capital. In an effort to defuse this criticism or disguise its impact by arguing that the wealthy would pay more for luxury goods that the rest of the population cannot afford and thereby contribute more funds to the public treasury that they now avoid through deductions applicable mostly to them, like deductions for investments into long-term mutual funds (by the way, providing a greater benefit to the operators of the mutual funds than to the investors who reap the benefits of this largess through fees).* There is however a history of progressive application of consumption fees in Thailand through escalating tax rates for increased electricity use, more costly luxury cars and some environmental pollution fees.

* ( If the mutual funds actually provided a greater rate of return on investment than competing investments then investors would so invest as classical economic market theory predicts. By pushing for this redistribution of tax burden, the financial industry that promoted it actually encourages less competition and efficiency than classical economic market theory demands. It is instructive to note how silent most classical economists in the US, who are primarily paid by the financial industry, remain when faced by violations of their theories in situations like this and in cases of other supply side subsidies, while on the other hand their voices tremble with indignation any proposed rise in the minimum wage.)

d. OK it is about the US and not Thailand, but nevertheless:

Standard and Poor rating agency which along with Moody’s generally considered co-conspirator in the world-wide financial collapse of 2008 for setting their ratings for the benefit of their clients and who went unpunished, have recently threatened to downgrade the US credit rating because of the stalemate in congress over the means to reduce the national debt. Who do you suppose is paying them for their action now?

By the way wouldn’t such a threat to the welfare of the country be classified as treason. If you recall only a short while ago [and perhaps even now] those who advocated a change in the country’s economic system were branded traitors.


I am back in Paradise by the Sea for a few days packing up the apartment in preparation for my trip to the US. I regret having to give up the place, but economic considerations of maintaining an extra residence here during my stay in the US argue against keeping it. I am sure I can find a similar place upon my return.

English: Red shirt in Bangkok.

Red shirt in Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The little masseuse, a committed and determined red shirt supporter, spends much of her time watching the political debates on television. She attends all the Red Shirt rallies in Bangkok and some times attends the Yellow Shirt ones as well. When I ask her why she attends opposition events and listens so intently to their speeches on television, she says, “I want to understand exactly what they are saying so that I am better prepared.” I feel a little ashamed, I cannot stand watching Faux News.

I offered to take Hayden with me to spend a few days at the sea-shore and save her the burden of arranging for his care. Originally she agreed, then the day that we were to depart, SWAC claimed Hayden had a rash and needed to remain in Bangkok accessible to medical treatment in an emergency, so he could not come with me. The morning following my arrival here, I received a hysterical call from her demanding my return as soon as possible claiming she could not cope with the child and all the other things she had to do. Since I was going to return tomorrow anyway, I promised I would cut short my trip and return tomorrow to help relieve her anxiety.

I have not finalized my arrangements for my trip to the US yet, in part because I still do not know where I will be staying while I am in San Francisco attending to my medical issues.


Delayed because this current issue of “This and that…” has become too damned long.


a. The Mac Attack:

“Men act right only upon compulsion; but from the moment that they have the option and liberty to commit wrong with impunity, then they never fail to carry confusion and disorder everywhere. It is this that has caused it to be said that poverty and hunger make men industrious, and that the law makes men good; and if fortunate circumstances cause good to be done without constraint, the law may be dispensed with. But when such happy influence is lacking, then the law immediately becomes necessary.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the first 10 Books of Titus Livius, chap.111

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

“Competition in a 100 yard dash lasts about 10 seconds. Competition in the market lasts about the same length of time before someone “tries to game it.

c. Today’s chart (we all are one or at least L3 and 3 mostly):


“Without waiting for Pino’s answer, he slipped into one of those midget high-rises that were not more than twelve stories high, having been built around the same time as the chemical works and having just as quickly fallen into ruin, when not abandoned altogether. For someone approaching from the sea, Vigata rose up like a parody of Manhattan, on a reduced scale.”
Andrea Camilleri, The Shape of Water.

Camilieri’s Vigata is actually Porto Empedocle, a town on the southern shore of Sicily a few miles south-west of Agrigento [Montelusa in Camilleri’s novels.] When I lived in Sicily in the late 1960s, Porto Empedocle had not yet sprouted the high rises or industries referenced in the novels. At that time, the town was home to some of the best sea-food restaurants in the southern part of the island, however.


Contemporary Porto Empedocle :

Porto Empedocle

Porto Empedocle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. April 22, 2011


2010: According to a report from the US Department of Justice, the US has the highest incidence of violent crimes in the world. Every year one out of every four persons in the US is a victim of crime. In 2009 an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million property crimes and 133,000 personal thefts were reported against US residents 12 and over. The violent crime rate was 17.1 victimizations per 1000 persons. (American soldiers stationed in some war zones seem safer than the average American in many of their own neighborhoods)

The US also ranks first in the world in the number of privately owned guns (90 million guns in a population of 300 million). An average of 12,000 gun murders per year in also the among highest total of civilian gun deaths in the world. (Thank God for the second amendment, could you imagine what the total carnage would be were Americans stripped of their arms.)

I can only assume his mayhem and slaughter are caused primarily by those non-american hoards illegally flooding across our border, and the liberal coddling of the criminal classes. Either that or we Americans are the most violent barbaric people on the face of the earth.


a. More about subs:

The Thai Defense Minister has suggested to the Thai Navy that instead of buying six used submarines from Germany for 7.7 billion baht that they purchase instead two submarines of the same design from Korea for 40 billion baht. The Navy indicates that it will accept the alternative if the submarines are new.

Now if six submarines were necessary to protect the Thai homeland, why would only two, more expensive submarines of the same design, provide the same level of protection?

b. Election insults:

The Thai government has accused 18 opposition Red Shirts of insulting the monarchy, a crime under Thai law. The King in statements over the years has repeatedly stated that he is not above criticism and that criticism can only help him to be a better King. Under Thai law the Thai King has no say on whether or not he believes he has been insulted.

c. More about Songkran:

In Bangkok, home to innumerable sex clubs, nudie bars and the most vibrant sex tourism industry in the world, three teenage girls were fined for obscenity for dancing topless in the street before a crowd of Songkran revelers. It was claimed the girls demeaned the great Songkran festival. The same festival, by the way, celebrated by mass inebriation and indiscriminate assault by water gun.

As a result of the official reaction against lewdness in the streets of the capitol, the culture minister ordered the removal from the ministry’s website a painting by a notable Thai artist of three topless women dressed in ancient Thai costumes welcoming in the new year. The Culture Minister observed “Sometimes art and obscenity overlap” and wryly added, “Perhaps we have to buy bras to cover up [several well known public sculptures] to prevent obscenity.”

Thailand appears to be getting more and more like the US every day.


Since I recommenced posting into my blog the daily number of “hits” have increased dramatically, from about 3 per day to about 20 per day. True, most of the “hits” are advertisements for things like costume jewelry and “Broccoli,” but to those of us with weaker egos, any recognition is acceptable.

I have returned to Bangkok from PbS to resume my baby sitting duties only to discover that a six year old Thai girl has been added to the household at least temporarily. She is the daughter of one of the women who used to work at AVA. SWAC thought that it would be good for Hayden to stay with a friend and bond these last few weeks before being wrenched away into a new environment.

Actually, I find I enjoy having the both of them around. The mischief of one child can often be tiresome and repetitive, but the mischief of two I find endlessly unpredictable and amusing.


Chapter 19:

Seamus Arroyo Cohen proved to be a relatively short man built like a bowling ball on legs. Vince could see that it was not simply fat that filled out his trunk. The way he walked and the stability of his mass indicated a relative air of strength, if not fitness. Rising above that rotund mass, seemingly without the aid of a neck, was a rather small head complete with well groomed full head of dark brown hair and a similarly tinted meticulously trimmed full beard. He was wearing an elegant if somewhat dated grey three piece suit. All in all he appeared to Vince to resemble a character out of an Edwardian movie, lacking only the frock coat and walking stick.

He walked briskly over to where Vince was sitting, sat himself down offered his hand and said in a voice no louder than a whisper, “Mr. Biondi, it is a pleasure meeting you.”

“Ah… how did you know it was me,” Vince inquired, startled.

“You are the only one in this particular Starbuck’s that looked like a troubled, big firm lawyer. Besides, there are only three other customers in here, two are women and the third is a young man hunched over his computer, who does not appear to be more than 25 years old. It did not require the deductive reasoning capability of a Sherlock Holmes to ascertain that you were the person I came here to meet. Excuse me for a moment.”

He then gracefully heaved his bulk back out of the chair and went to the counter to order a Grande Cafe Americano.

Vince smiled as he watched this strange, soft spoken man wait patiently for his order.

When he reseated himself at the table with his coffee Vince said, “Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for agreeing to meet on such short notice.”

Please, you can call me ‘Ike.'”


“Yes,” he said in that same soft voice, “at the Department of Justice no one liked calling me Seamus, or Cohen, much less Arroyo, so at first they started calling me Sam. I never liked the name Sam and told them so and for some reason they switched to Ike. I actually liked the name Ike and so Ike I became.”

“Well then, Ike it is. I’m called Vince, most of the time. Let’s get down to business shall we?”

From the ensuing conversation and what he had been able to gather from his conversation with Mike Daily, Ike had been one of the brightest stars in the Department of Justice’s While Collar Crime division in Washington DC, when suddenly he quit, moved out to San Francisco a little over two years ago and bought the victorian that he remodeled it to his tastes. He now spends his time attending to his world renown Korean celadon pottery collection, taking lessons of the Sarod at Ali Akbar Kahn’s institute in Marin County, learning to play the banjo and attempting to grow orchids in a hot house on the top floor of his home. His basement he fitted out into a law office. He did not look for nor accept many cases, only those that interested him. He retained a part time legal secretary (according to Mike a women of unusual beauty and physical endowments) and an intern provided by the local law schools whom he could and would mentor. A Korean man and wife who lived in a unit at the back of the house and provided domestic help.

Vince explained his concerns. He began with the reasons he originally left the firm, why he thought he accepted the offer to return, what he has found here; Sam’s death, his secret room, Charlie’s involvement at the time of Sam’s death and the disappearance of the files, the Red Star matter and the involvement of firm management, the visit from the FBI and his discomfort with the First’s responsiveness to Vince’s inquiry. All and all he told him everything he could think of, except about Isabella. He was not sure why he left her out but he did.

“What I would like to retain you to do Ike, is to represent me primarily on the Red Star matter. We will begin there. I’d like you to review the files and use your knowledge and connections with the DOJ to find out what if anything is going on and then advise me as to what actions I should take.” (continued)


a. For Dr. Seuss’ aficionados upon reaching the age of 70:

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

“Wherever you have supply meeting a demand you will have someone trying to make a profit by making it not so.”


“After all, what is your host’s purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they’d have simply sent champagne and women over to your place by taxi.” 
~P.J. O’Rourke

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 19, 2011


1964, November 4: Terry Reilly’s minimalist masterpiece “In C” premiered in San Francisco. Alfred Frankenstein, the San Francisco Chronicle said about listening to it, “At times you feel you have never done anything all your life long but listen to this music and as if that is or ever will be.”

Steve Reich another prominent American composer played the electric piano that night.

Several years later, through my then friends Mel Moss and Rasa Gustitus, I got to know Reilly, the marvelous sitar virtuoso Krishna Bott and many other musicians (Hamza el-Din, Ali Akbar Kahn, and even Peter Grenell) in the vibrant Bay Area music scene that existed during the 1970s and continued until it began to fade at the end of the 80’s. Reich had left the Bay Area and returned to New York before I had arrived in 1970. Reputedly he couldn’t stand California’s descent into hippiedom and mysticism. Besides the job prospects for composers were better on the East Coast.

Many of those same musicians would show up at the cottage in the rear of Mel and Rasa’s home on Jersey Street to jam on the amazing collection of home-made and folk musical instruments Mel had collected and stored there. Sometimes I would join them. The music at times would go on from early afternoon until two or three in the morning. Although, I understand that Reilly attended some of these sessions, I do not recall if I was there at the time he did. Everyone was usually too stoned and into the music making to know, care or remember.


a. Songkran:

The government of Bangkok was among the sponsors of what was reputed to be the world’s biggest water gun fight. Guinness is now checking if Bangkok mêlée has surpassed the size achieved by the current title holder for a similar event previously held in Spain.

b. Insurance:

Insurgents in the southernmost provinces of Thailand have begun setting up their own businesses to help finance the increasing cost of the rebellion. Among their new business ventures are firms that charge other companies doing business it those provinces 3000 baht per month to assure the covered companies that their assets will be immune to damage due to insurgency attacks.

c. Electioneering:

Puea Thai election slogan.



I plan to return from Paradise by the Sea at SWAC’s urgent request that someone (me) needs to attend to Hayden as she and the maid are too busy with their responsibilities at AVA Wine Bar to do so. I expect grief, anguish and conflict when I tell her that I have to return to PbS on Tuesday evening to finish packing in preparation for my trip to the US. She has volunteered to book my flight to SF for me so that I can accompany Hayden and her on their voyage to wherever. I suspect that she will attempt to pry some money out of me as commission for arranging the flight, claiming EVA has raised their prices.

Here in PbS, I continue my morning walks and afternoon swims. This evening, I went down to the pool for my swim and sat on one of the pool side lounges to finish up reading today’s newspaper. Upon finishing, I leaned back and suddenly felt awash with anxiety that I had something to do and I was wasting my time. I realized that I often feel that way, that I must be doing something and not be idle. Luckily for me, doing something included reading and watching television. While contemplating this, I also realized that I was sitting up in the lounge chair and that when I was lying prone, say on a bed, I had no such feelings of anxiety. So I decided, not to take my swim but return to my apartment and lie down. I did so and my anxiety disappeared.


Chapter 18 (cont.)

The First wrinkled his aquiline nose slightly as though he detected a whiff of something that smelled bad. He then spoke. “That is an interesting question and request.” “Hmm… are you sure you want to get in to that,” he asked buying some time?


“Well, then, ah, I will have to look into whether my representation of the partnerships as a whole under those changed circumstances, may affect my obligations to the individual partners, and of course whether or not there is anything in the partnership agreement that may limit that course of action.”

Vince knew that normally such hesitation by any attorney is a prelude to opening negotiations regarding fees, but here he got the distinct feeling that the First appeared ill-disposed to the request. “Well,” he said, “please look into it and let me know what you think by the end of the day, if that is at all possible.” And with that Vince without further ceremony excused himself and left the First’s office.

Convinced that the First was unwilling to antagonize potential future clients represented by his tainted clients, Vince decided to seek other advice. He first called Mike Daly of the firm of Daly and Perez. Although crime of the white-collar variety was not Mikes specialty, he knew Mike and his partner and ex-wife Rosie and followed their careers for a while now. He liked and admired them and trusted their advice.

Mike answered his cell phone on the first ring. After an exchange of greeting and inquiries as to the welfare of their respective families, Vince explained his quandary.

“Vince, since you have been away, Rosie and I closed up our practice and returned to the Public Defender’s office. We were always happiest there. Anyway, as you know that federal corporate stuff is not my field or interest. However, I can recommend that you confer with someone who I think is one of the most brilliant practitioners in the area. But I have to warn you he is quite unusual, and may be too unconventional for a white shoe firm like yours.”

Seamus, Arroyo, Cohen agreed to meet Vince at the Starbucks at the corner of Market Street and Drum Street in downtown San Francisco. It seems that attorney Cohen practiced out of the basement of his home in a large restored Italianate stick Victorian house on Liberty Street in the Mission District.


a. Projected Patterns of Precipitation Changes:

These maps, prepared by the IPCC in 2007, display the anticipated changes in precipitation (in percent) for the period 2090–2099, relative to 1980–1999. The values indicated are multi-model averages (that is, assembled out of many different computer models) for December to February (left) and June to August (right). White areas are where less than 66% of the models agree and stippled areas are where more than 90% of the models agree.
(I assume the white areas indicate a disagreement among the models over gradations and not of trends. If that is so, the maps are even more disturbing. For example in the June to August map the United States is entirely white between two large areas where the models agree to a substantial drop in precipitation from normal. Does this mean the US as a whole is in for increased wetness or increased dryness and the only disagreement is how much? The answers, would, for example, indicate whether the central portion of the US would or would not experience substantial migration.*)
If they accurately predict the future weather patterns pictured, what these maps show is that (as I mentioned in a previous post), precipitation in Northeast North America and Northeast Asia may increase up to 20%, while Southwest North America (from Southern California through Texas and south to Panama) and the Mediterranean basin (Southern Europe and North Africa) and the Near and Middle East will substantially dry up.
These projections signify on a social level , among other things, the probability of significant human migration from the drying regions and increased weather caused catastrophe costs in the areas receiving greater rainfall.
Two things should be noted. The first is the potential expanded cloud cover due to greater precipitation over much of the northern hemisphere may slow and even reverse shrinkage of the Arctic and Greenland ice sheet melt, thus slowing sea water rise. Secondly the highly populated portions of northeastern US and Asia (China, Korea and Japan) may for a while experience the feeling of a cooling trend.

* While a single weather event cannot be generalized into a trend, the recent unprecedented rash of tornadoes throughout the middle of the US, would be consistent with the type of weather events that could be expected within that particular white area on the maps.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

“There is no such things as supply and demand because they are both infinitely manipulatable.”


“A wasteland, dominated by these maniacs, these creeps, who were trying to make everyone write this crazy creepy music”
American composer Steve Glass describing the European musical avant-garde he encountered in Paris during his studies there during the 1960s.

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 17, 2011

The portrait supposedly of Christopher Marlowe...

The portrait supposedly of Christopher Marlowe found during renovations of the Masters Lodge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


1587. Christopher Marlowe‘s Tamburlaine his first play to be performed on stage in London. It told the story of the conqueror Timur ( also known as the “Lame” a comment on his physiognomy and not his sense of humor. As far as we know he had none, although he was known at times to smile broadly at the slaughter of the populations in the cities that he sacked. ), who rises from shepherd to warrior to emperor. It is among the first English plays in blank verse, and, along with Thomas Kyd‘s The Spanish Tragedy, generally is considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre.

50 years or so later, the religious right of that time, succeeded in banning theatre altogether.


a. Don’t hold your breath:

The Bangkok Post reported today that the Japanese government has ordered the operator of the damaged nuclear plant to pay each family displaced by the catastrophe about $12,000. As could be expected, the people who lost their home complain that it is not enough. One can assume that in all likelihood before any money reaches the injured parties, the company will claim it does not have the resources to fund the program, as a result the government will probably agree to pick up the tab then spend years figuring out how to do so, ultimately abandoning the program under pressure from the bond rating agencies, the business community and the conservative press claiming the nation is accumulating too much debt.

It is interesting to note how easy it is today for a government to abandon its promises to its people but never to its creditors. In a usually vain attempt to maintain its all important bond rating and to protect the value of the capital and rate of return of its lenders, it will forgo educating its people, or attending to their health and welfare. In Ireland, Ireland, Portugal of Greece it so far has made no difference to the downward spiral of their economies whether they accept or reject the conditions imposed on them in the so-called bailouts . If that is so, then why in heavens name would their governments shackle their people to penury in order to preserve the return on capital to some bankers and investors in Germany, Switzerland, England or New York)

b. Electioneering:

The current party in power in Thailand, in preparation for the upcoming election has derided the opposition’s promise to increase the minimum wage to 300 baht per day ($10), claiming their own proposal for increasing the minimum wage by 25% is better for employers.

25% of what?

c. It all sounds so reasonable:

A spokesman for the opposition party claimed that the country would return to peace if the exiled former leader of the party Thaksin was allowed to return to Thailand. He also assured everyone that if he were allowed to come back, Thaksin, would not demand the return of the more than one billion dollars confiscated from him and his family for corruption.


Recently, after a hiatus of over six months, I have begun to republish items into my blog ( http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) Why I have resumed doing so, I am not sure. Perhaps I became tired of snips and pieces of things cluttering up my desk-top, then again perhaps not.

Anyway, as some of you know, the reason I tell myself (and you) that I write things like the blog and even “This and that…” is purely for my own pleasure. I refuse to admit to anything other than that.

A few days ago, I received my first real comment to one of my posts. The commenter said he liked my work and left me a cite to his own blog. I admit to being thrilled at receiving this acknowledgement of my existence and I immediately responded with a “thank you” note as I felt blogging etiquette probably required. I also dutifully clicked into his site as I again felt it was only the right thing to do.

My correspondent’s site primarily consisted of an ad. for a product called “Broccoli.” Broccoli it seems is essentially a wide rubber band  used to secure ones cash in lieu of a wallet. The rubber band in this case was decorated with a piece of silver metal, I assume to make it look serious.

A video hosted by a stereotypical beefy member of a well-known subset of my southern Italian ethnic group replete with gravelly voice and wavy black hair accompanied the advertisement.

He demonstrated the different ways one could wrap the rubber band around the “Wad” as he repeatedly called it. The so restrained wad firmly affixed the cash and even credit cards so that the twin evils of unsightly loose cash and overstuffed wallets were avoided. There was even a medical type snippet demonstrating how an overstuffed wallet in ones rear pocket can cause back pain. The video ended with a solicitation for investors in the company. If anyone is interested I still have the email address.

Remember “Never leave home without your Broccoli.”


Chapter 18

As he disconnected the phone, Vince threw himself back on his bed, stared at his hand and began to feel fear. Not fear of the unknown that often just makes one more wary and suspicious, but fear that he has lost control in the unknown. It was as though something larger than him was bearing down on him and he could neither run from it, dodge it, fight it or even know it before it overwhelmed him. Wariness and suspicion were not enough to avoid being overwhelmed. Why did he feel that way?

He closed his eyes and thought back to the day following his interrupted interview with Isabella at the bar in Bizzare.

Early in the morning he had gone to the offices of the firm’s outside counsel retained to handle any fallout from what he now referred to as the “Red Star Affair.” Pepper and Rooney, was a boutique criminal law firm, specializing in defending large corporations and wealthy individuals accused or about to be accused of what has become euphemistically known as White Collar Crimes as though violent crimes could only be committed by the working and unemployed classes, the blood on the hands of most white-collar criminals washed clean by intermediaries.

Most large firms had their own White Collar Crime practice groups, but they always were uncomfortable with it like it was somehow not respectable or perhaps even slightly diseased. Also, its practitioners were suspect, mostly coming from those same State and Federal entities that were persecuting the firm’s clients. Nevertheless, in order to please those same the clients and assure them that they were prepared to service their every legal need, they usually kept the practice group and its attorneys around. Many good WCC attorneys, especially well-known litigators, therefore sensing their second class status in the large firms firm, left to form their own boutiques. Pepper and Rooney was one such firm.

Adam, Ansel, Pepper, often referred to as “First” or among his close friends as “Al” was one of the reigning heavyweights of the practice. He was tall, whippet thin but obviously in shape, hawk nosed and dark hair expensively dyed. He was dressed in the overpriced casual style affected by successful San Francisco attorneys; designer jeans, bespoke shoes, costly subtly patterned dress shirt worn without tie with sleeves meticulously rolled up to reveal precisely one-quarter of the forearm.

Upon entering the First’s sanctum, Vince was made to stand briefly as the great one pantomimed finishing up some exceedingly important task. He stood up, reached his hand across the desk and as they shook hands said with a frosty smile, “Mr Biondi, it is a pleasure meeting you finally. I know you must be very busy getting settled in your new position.” As he resumed his seat in his expensively leathered, throne like mechanical marvel of a chair, he added genially “How is that going?”

Vince refusing to take the bait at $1000 per hour, responded “I am here to get your advice about how I should go about arranging for the suspension from the partnership of all those partners involved in the ‘Red Star’ matter on which your firm is representing ours.” (Continued)


a. Today’s chart:

Population distribution on earth (2007):
What should be noted as an error in the chart is that East Asia (China, Japan and Korea) is a quite separate entity from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and South-East Asia, and South-West Asia). The latter actually dwarfs East Asia in population and economic and population growth.* One also should note that the “West” (North, Central and South America, Russia, Europe and Australia and New Zealand) also contains about 30% of the world’s population, more than China or East Asia. The so-called “West” also occupies, by far, the largest portion of the earth’s land mass, arable land and natural resources. Africa contains and will continue to support the fastest population growth on the planet.

*Thus, population distribution on earth can also be looked at as basically comprising only 4 major population zones, East Asia, South Asia, The West and Africa. With the world potentially poised on the edge of massive migrations of Peoples from the desertifying portions of the world, distribution of Peoples will change, with the affected South Asian and African populations colonizing large portions of the western world.

Advice you should be giving your children is to marry South Asians or Africans, or advise them to move to Canada or Siberia and counsel any of their children born there to so marry.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

On Economics as a Science:

In Science, a physical theory that is logically consistent may be considered truth only until falsified. In Economics, a sociological theory that is logically inconsistent is often considered true even when falsified.


By popular request:

“Now listen to me and I will advise you for your good: give me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over one-third of the Massagetae. If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.”

Queen Tomyris Receiving the Head of Cyrus, Kin...

Queen Tomyris Receiving the Head of Cyrus, King of Persia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomyris Warrior Queen of the Massegetae to Cyrus the Great, Emperor of Persia, conqueror of the greatest empire of the ancient world and leader of the largest and most technologically advanced army of the time. Cyrus refused and Tomyris personally led the charge of her forces that destroyed his army. After her victory, she searched the battlefield herself until she found Cyrus’ body, then she cut off his head and made his skull into her favorite wine goblet.

(Never mess with a woman named Tomyris, or for that matter a Massegetae. For those interested however, this is what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus had to say about them:

“In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for head-gear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.”
“The following are some of their customs; – Each man has but one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Jaxartes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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