April through June 2014

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Mopey 0005 (February 10, 2016)

 

“When lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday, cash me out.”
~Frank Sinatra

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA
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TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

A few sunny days on the Mendocino coast allows me to sip my morning coffee and enjoy the view:
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One day, I drove into Fort Bragg to have my tire repaired. Waiting for the repairs allowed me to do what I love doing best, wandering aimlessly. Among my wanderings, I visited the Noyo Headlands Park that the Agency I created and headed, the California Coastal Conservancy, helped to bring about. The Park represents to me an ideal use of an urban waterfront — an environmentally sensitive open park along the shorefront. I believe it will soon be considered one of the nation’s premier oceanfront park and restoration areas. Now if we can only get the City of Fort Bragg to post proper signage along PCH so that people can find it, it will be a boon to the City’s economic health and to the environment.
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I urge you to visit it and see if you agree with me.

The overcast skies and rain have returned. Still the walks along the bluffs are exhilarating — the churning surf battering the black cliffs below. Now and then I notice a tiny bit of color among the bushes as I walk by.
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One morning, the sun was out. My walk along the bluffs took me to an area that, despite my almost 50 years of visiting here, I had not gone before. I felt a little like Kirk and Spock visiting a new world — except here there were no large breasted aliens with skin tight costumes, colorful body paint, and prominent dark eyebrows. What there was, however, were white crested waves pounding the bluffs and curling onto the black sand beaches hidden among the cliffs.
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Later, as the sun dropped toward the horizon, we strolled along the bluffs again.
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All this dramatic natural beauty began to irritate me. I longed for a sidewalk, curb and a gutter blocked up with urban refuse. So, after my morning walk, I fled north to Fort Bragg in the hope that I could find a dingy bar filled with out of work loggers or a cafe with the paint peeling off the walls where I could drink weak American coffee.

As I approached the town and circled the round-a-bout, I took the road that said, “No exit,” or something like that, since it agreed with what I was feeling. I drove up what John Olmstead called the Mendocino Ecological Staircase in hopes that I would find a forgotten tavern among the Redwoods. The homes, more shacks than homes, became shackier as I drove, the fences more home made and the “No Trespassing” signs more prevalent. I realized I was entering the zone that 20 or 30 years ago harbored the areas high-value cash crops. I soon came to the end of the road and retraced my steps down the Staircase.

At the edge of the city, another road stretched off to the East. This road promised to cross the mountains to Willits on Highway one. I suspected, since this was a numbered road, a roadhouse would exist somewhere along it. So, I drove again up the staircase until I reached a sign that announced a curvy road for the next 25 miles. I knew that roadhouses only existed on straight-a-ways and I decided to forgo the possibility of encountering the ghost of Patrick Swayze and returned to Highway 1.

After passing through the harbor in hope I would find a fisherman’s dive with no luck, I drove into the back streets of Fort Bragg.
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I had just about given up when I spotted a place on a woebegone corner of the city that seemed to have some promise.
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I parked, went in and found what I was looking for. The twelve stools at the bar were filled with men and women, most of whom were my age or older. Nearly all of the men wore baseball caps and a few were dressed in work clothes. A woman with blond hair, who now would be referred to a naturally proportioned, presided behind the bar. Although I intended to order ginger ale, I decided to order the bar’s special amber ale instead. I felt it would be more appropriate. Much of the discussion around me involved the bar’s multiple Super Bowl pools whose mathematical basis was far beyond my comprehension.

A man sitting next to me knew Duke Snyder when they both lived in Compton. They would meet walking their dogs and discuss baseball and life while their dogs humped each other.

In the corner sat a man with dark skin and a magnificent beaked schnozz, I thought he was either Native American or Mediterranean based upon the size of his proboscis. I know schnozzes — we Italians revel in the potatoes or hatchets grafted onto the front of our faces. We believe it makes us look distinguished. I learned that during the 1950s, the beaked one pitched triple A ball for a team in South Carolina before his arm gave out. I was in heaven. Next to him sat a small dark woman with many tattoos who kept bouncing up and down running off to talk excitedly with someone else sitting at the bar.

Feeling happy, I ordered a second ale.

Later, more people showed up including a younger woman who seemed to be over six feet tall. She had long braided blond hair. She slammed down the drinks like she was born to it. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and appeared happy to be there or at least happier than being where they were before they got there.

I left after I finished my second ale because I wanted to be able to drive home and I had begun to feel the buzz. When I die, I want my ashes sprinkled on the floor of the place.

Later that night, we all returned to Fort Bragg because in was “First Friday” when all the galleries stay open until late at night. I bought an old used book that contained some interesting illustrations. We then had dinner at a Mayan Fusion restaurant in the harbor. It was quite good.

The next morning we hiked along the bluffs of Spring Ranch just south of the town of Mendocino. Spring Ranch is a Coastal Reserve created by California State Parks and the California Coastal Conservancy.
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It is an example of the type of project I had in mind when I wrote the Conservancy Concept into California’s Coastal Plan, shepherded the legislation through the legislature and administered the agency during its formative years. It not only removes the land from the vagaries of regulatory conflicts but begins to push back the impacts of prior land uses, ranching and the like, through restoration. At the time the Conservancy was proposed, restoration of environmental resources was not a high priority of the State and in the case of wetlands opposed by many in the environmental community as well.
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The Reserve is long and relatively narrow, stretching from PCH to the ocean for several miles. This type of public acquisition, small narrow units, along with the purchase undeveloped subdivisions along the coast were frowned upon by the State because of management and cost issues. Yet, we believed they were necessary if critical coastal resources were to be preserved and the goals of the Coastal Plan achieved. I am pleased to see that, in part through the efforts of the Conservancy, up and down the coast these objectives are now accepted.
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Although the several entrances are a little difficult to see, once you do, you can stroll down across the coastal terrace, along the bluffs, and through a magnificently restored cypress grove. There are a few benches along the way where you can sit and watch the tumultuous surf crash of the rocks, and if the season is right, see whales migrating and seal pods roaming the waters and hauling themselves onto the rocks to sunbathe.
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The Reserve is an excellent counterpoint to the more urban Noyo Headlands Park a few miles north. You should visit both if you are in the area, and don’t forget to stop at Point Cabrillo lighthouse and park and the Mendocino Botanical Gardens also, another Conservancy project in the area I am proud of. And, of course, end your trip sipping the wines at Pacific Star Winery while sitting on Dad’s Bench watching the sun dip into the ocean.

That afternoon, as I suggested above, we had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery.
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I bought a new hat there also.

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The next day was Superbowl Sunday. I wasn’t feeling very well so after breakfast I returned to bed for most of the day. The following day the temperature reached 80 degrees. It is not natural for it to be so warm in February. After my walk, I napped to avoid the heat of the day as though I was still in Thailand.

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
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This is a photograph of my painting of a view in Cinque Terre. The painting itself was from a photograph I had taken of the place. The painting was then photographed and that photograph was photographed to present here. The colors and tints of the painting and the current photograph are not quite the same.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the fourth in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY.

The importance of organization.

“The importance of organization in satisfying the human need for security is obvious. No individual can be secure alone, simply from the fact that a man must sleep, and a single man asleep in the jungle is not secure. While some men sleep, others must watch. In the days of the cavemen, some slept while others kept up the fire which guarded the mouth of the cave. Such an arrangement for sleeping in turns is a basic pattern of organization in group life, by which a number of men co-operate to increase their joint security. But such an organization also requires that each must, to some degree, subordinate his will as an individual to the common advantage of the group. This means that there must be some way in which conflicts of wills within the group may be resolved without disrupting the ability of their common organization to provide security against any threat from outside.”

“These two things—the settlement of disputes involving clashes of wills within the group and the defense of the group against outside threats—are the essential parts of the provision of security through group life. They form the opposite sides of all political life and provide the most fundamental areas in which power operates in any group or community. Both are concerned with clashes of 8 wills, the one with such clashes between individuals or lesser groups within the community and the other with clashes between the wills of different communities regarded as entities. Thus, clashes of wills are the chief problems of political life, and the methods by which these clashes are resolved depend on power, which is the very substance of political action.”

“All of this is very elementary, but contemporary life is now so complicated and each individual is now so deeply involved in his own special activities that the elementary facts of life are frequently lost, even by those who are assumed to be most expert in that topic. This particular elementary fact may be stated thus: politics is concerned with the resolution of conflicts of wills, both within and between communities, a process which takes place by the exercise of power.”

“This simple sentence covers some of the most complex of human relationships, and some of the most misunderstood. Any adequate explanation of it would require many volumes of words and, what is even more important, several lifetimes of varied experience. The experience would have to be diverse because the way in which power operates is so different from one community to another that it is often impossible for an individual in one community and familiar with his own community’s processes for the exercise of power to understand, or even to see, the processes which are operating in another community. Much of the most fundamental differences are in the minds and neurological systems of the persons themselves, including their value systems which they acquired as they grew up in their own communities. Such a value system establishes priorities of needs and limits of acceptance which are often quite inexplicable to members of a different community brought up in a different tradition. Since human beings can be brought up to believe almost anything or to put up with almost anything, the possible ways in which the political life of any community can be organized are almost limitless.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Trenz Pruca’s First Rule of Management:

If most people agree with what you plan to do, don’t do it.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

He came home. Said nothing.
It was clear, though, that something had gone wrong.
He lay down fully dressed.
Pulled the blanket over his head.
Tucked up his knees.
He’s nearly forty, but not at the moment.
He exists just as he did inside his mother’s womb,
clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness.
Tomorrow he’ll give a lecture
on homeostasis in metagalactic cosmonautics.
For now, though, he has curled up and gone to sleep.
Wislawa Szymborska

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.”
Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Canicatti Sicily, 1968

 

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Categories: April through June 2014, January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 JoJo 0003 (June 1, 2014)

 

“It takes two people to make a deal: a desperate man and a winner.”
Wight, Will. City of Light (The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy: Book #3). Hidden Gnome Publishing.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. One day like many others

The curfew remains in effect (10 PM to 6 AM I think). Still no sign in my neighborhood of military or effects of the coup. In the morning I walk past Nana Plaza and through the Arab neighborhood to Foodland my favorite breakfast place (two eggs, 1 strip of bacon, coffee, toast and juice for $2) and then to the health club for my morning swim. I have a new exercise regime. Instead of doing just one more like the personal trainers used to urge that I hated and eventually caused me to quit exercising, I now do one less. I feel much better and happier.
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Himself at lunch

After exercise and my massage, I sometimes eat lunch and then go home and lie on the rock hard bed until dinner which I usually eat in my room. Then, about when the curfew starts, I go to sleep.
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2. Someplace for old men

I have resumed my morning meetings with the old men (farang’s) at the health club. We sit around on flea infested chairs, read the two local english language newspapers and lie about our past lives.

Today one of the “alters” who lived in Oakland and used to have a tax preparation business in the Bay Area mentioned that he did not think that climate change was caused by humans. “After all,” he added, “think about all the money those scientists are making from government grants to find that humans caused global warming when in fact for the last decade the temperature has remained stable.” When I suggested that one would think that the hydrocarbon industry would have a larger economic interest than these scientists, he responded, “Not true, they are happy to supply natural gas if Obama would only allow the Keystone pipeline to go through.” He was surprised when I told him I thought Keystone was an oil shale pipeline and not a gas line. We agreed not to talk about climate change any more and turned our conversation to other significant political issues of interest to him like why Nancy Pelosi has had so many face lifts and why Joe Biden is so dumb.
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3. The most dangerous thing in Bangkok

Bangkok, also known as the City of Angeles, can be a dangerous place, with the occasional military coup, rampant STD, suffocating air pollution, sporadic food poisoning, rats and cobras, corrupt cops and things like that. But by far the greatest danger is its sidewalks and what lies beneath them. Cracked and broken sidewalks that can fracture an ankle of the unwary cover the ancient canals which now serve as the City’s sewers. Often the sidewalk gives way and someone falls into foetid sludge below.

About a month before I arrived an elderly farang (western man) who lived in my apartment block went for a walk. Just outside the apartment the sidewalk collapsed beneath him and he fell through into the muck below. He was taken to the hospital and has not been seen since.

A few days ago a squad of Cambodian and Burmese migrants showed up to clean out those same sewers. They had to jump in to the rat and snake infested water, drag out the mud and mire with their bare hands and deposit it in plastic containers. Since then those containers have been standing lined up at the side or the road waiting for someone to do something with them.

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Barrels of muck

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New cover over hole through which the old man fell
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4. I hate growing old (version #1273)

For the first time that I can remember, I had a panic attack that lasted throughout the night, robbed me of sleep and, as I lay there alone in by bed, convinced me that my numbered days had ben reduced to single digits. The next day I felt so awful that I could barely make it to breakfast and decided to skip my exercise and return home. I intended to write here how I detested my steadily eroding capabilities due to age.

Alas, when I arrived back at my apartment, I realized that for the last three days or so I had forgotten to take the dozens of pills my doctors require me to take every day and actually was going through various forms of withdrawal the most serious of which was withdrawal from my happy pills.
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I don’t always sleep alone. (The monkey is named Douglas. I call the Gorilla, Gorilla)
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B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

Malibu in my mind (continued)

Some background is needed in order to understand the initial story line of the dream. As most of you know there is a sort of a space race by private enterprise to design a reusable space vehicle that would allow very rich people to fly off into the edge of space and return just like those not yet rich people called astronauts. The astronauts are trained and paid by the government (you and I) and perform scientific experiments that may benefit humankind. The rich people of course are unqualified to do anything of the sort except pay for the experience. So they will hire these currently highly trained governmental employees to become space taxi drivers and to forget about benefits for humanity so they, the rich, can have the same experience as the experts with none of the burden of actually doing anything.

Nevertheless, the market being what it is, some entrepreneurs will seek, in the spirit of competition, to offer a somewhat lower cost alternative even if it is something of marginal public benefit. That is where the dream begins. One of these low-cost operations, lets call it Rocket Blue or SouthWest Space Flights decided on an unusual publicity stunt to launch their service. They managed to find 10 people from the Midwest who had never been out of the Midwest or to the coast of California where the launch was to take place. These 10 people were given a free flight on the maiden voyage of the vehicle. They would be accompanied by two real Californians who also knew something about the coast, presumably so they could point out points of interest as the rocket roared off into space.

That is where I come in, I was one of these two even though I am not a real Californian. The other one was none other than Joe Edmiston. I assume that our employers believed Joe and I added a certain cachet to the venture. This is a dream after all.

Anyway the vehicle itself was clearly low-cost, looking less like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than the inside of a leaky wooden boat.

We discovered, as we were settling into our seats, that these 10 accidental tourists were an obnoxious and argumentative lot. Considering that Joe and I are masters of the art of being querulous and unpleasant, the trip began with less than happy camaraderie.

Anyway, off we went into the edge of space. To me the final frontier was somewhat of a disappointment, basic black with stars that did not twinkle but stared malevolently at you like the unthinkingly eyes of a million wolves reflected in the light of the campfire just before they attack. The disk of the earth below all blue, white brown and green has been seen so often in photographs, logos, SF movies and the like that it was hard to work up some element of surprise or awe at the sight.

In any event, we thankfully soon began our descent.

Now as I have repeatedly pointed out, this is a low-cost spaceship operation. As such, instead of designing the vehicle to land on an airport runway upon its return from space as the high price enterprises do, in our case the vehicle deployed a large parachute to hopefully gently deposit us on the ground where several cars and trucks could meet us and return us to where we took off.

This approach is much like that used in those hot air balloon rides. You know, where you get up god-awfully early in the morning while it is still too chilly to be out and about. You are then stuffed into a basket with too many people you do not know while the fire device that inflates the balloon shatters the silence (as well as your eardrums). You take off and float a few hundred feet over supposedly beautiful scenery that you pay little attention to because you are dealing with one or more of: agoraphobia, claustrophobia or vertigo and praying that you do not vomit or fart. You fly for an hour or so and eventually land with a bounce or two in someones back yard or if you’re lucky a park where your transportation is waiting to take you back to where you parked your car, and to warmth.

In our case, we had taken off from Vandenberg and were supposed to land somewhere near the Pismo-Nippomo Dunes. Unfortunately, a strong gust of wind blew us in the opposite direction and we landed in the ocean off Point Dume. Kerplunk! (To be continued)

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

For those who are fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden adventure series, his latest Skin Game, the 15th book in the series, is out. In this adventure, Harry, Chicago’s only professional wizard and now the Winter Knight is sent by Queen Mab to steal the Holy Grail from Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve done without a hitch since the last time I saw you, Dresden. You walk through the door and everything goes to hell.”
“That’s embroidered on my towels, actually,” I said.

“What you are telling me,” she said, “is that you have never shared your life with another over the long term. The closest you have come to it is providing a home and affection for a being which is entirely your subject and in your control.”
“Well, not at bath time…”

“I know you’ve been aching to have your hands on my staff,” I said to Ascher, as Nicodemus examined the altar for himself. I held out my hand. “But I’d rather be the one fondling my tool. Wizards are weird like that.”

Pookie says, “check it out.”
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Don’t mess with Facebook

A day following the announcement by the coup leaders that a commission has been formed to look into Facebook and other social media, the Facebook internet page went down for an hour throughout the nation. The public outcry was so great that the military had to publicly declare that they had nothing to do with it. Who did is still unclear at this time.

2. In general it is the General

A little noted aspect of the current military coup is that the coup several years ago that toppled Thaksin the Terrible, the exiled fugitive prime minister (and pater familias of the recently ousted government) was precipitated by his attempt to replace the military leadership with members of his own class at the nations élite military school from which the army general staff is chosen.

In Thailand the military is effectively independent of any other governing institution in the country. Its general staff is chosen in lock step from the élite military academy. When one class retires the next one takes over.

In previous issues of T&T I warned that until the current military commander retires in September of this year a coup remains a high probability.

In fact, according to reports, the coup was well and secretly planned by the Chief of Staff and a small group of plotters including an outside attorney to occur before September when Thaksin the Terrible’s class was scheduled to take over.

It is important to note that although the coup leaders carefully detained the political leaders of both warring factions more or less equally, within the national police and the military the removals and transfers almost exclusively have been of officers sympathetic to the ousted prime minister.

As it is so often in politics, nothing is precisely as it seems.
DAILY FACTOID:

Sometime in the 1960’s: How Hillary met Bill at Yale: She got up from her desk, walked over to him, extended her hand, and said, “If you keep looking at me, and I’m going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I’m Hillary Rodham.”
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” was all about and what it really wanted:

It wanted those who make the laws to approach them the way that Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism suggested:

“To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers…The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Politics is the fight over which elites rule, not whether.”
Gooserock (Daily Kos)

“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”
William Jennings Bryan at the 1896 Democratic Convention.

Nothing changes.

TODAY’S CHART:

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I simply do not understand where they get only 475,000 people killed by humans in a year. I would think 475,000 could be done in an ordinary afternoon if we really put our minds to it.
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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This in a photo of a 1860 drawing of a member of the Camorra a Neapolitan criminal gang. In the 1970’s the fashion style sported by the gangster returned to threaten us all.

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Shadow 0003 (June 22, 2014)

 

“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.

Symmetry is a beautiful thing.”
Giufa

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOAN JACKSON

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

1. Last days at Paradise by the Sea:

On the border between “Paradise by the Sea” and “The Outskirts of Hell” there stood an isolated building among some empty lots. On the side of the building there was a sign affixed that read, “Heaven.” It was the day before I was to leave Paradise by the Sea and return to Bangkok. The Good/Bad David had brought me there. The entrance to Heaven wound through a dark passageway containing large vases with slightly wilting flowers. Gold drapes hung on the wall. It looked like the entrance to a mortuary. I guess that could be considered fitting.

Once inside the place was much more plush. It appeared a lot like a 1960’s piano bar in Las Vegas. I liked it. It was a vast improvement over my image of what Heaven would be like.

We were led by the hostess to a small dark room at back of the building in the center of which stood a solid black oval table.

Now some of you may recall that a few years ago I published, for your enjoyment, a few stories supposedly written by Giufa that sad-faced reprobate and chronicler of the “Forlorn Order of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table” (FOGNOT). The stories focused on the adventures of five Geriatric Knights who assembled in a place called The Kennel (where old dogs go to die) around another oval table, that one made of faux marble and gilt . I will not describe here what occurred that afternoon in Heaven around the coal-black oval table. I leave that job instead to the cynical, licentious and wholly untrustworthy Giufa, should he ever get around to it.
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Baba Giufa as a child.

I shall only add that about six hours later the Good/Bad David, Peter a man who I had been told dealt in precious metals and I left Heaven. The three of us climbed into a tricked-out, four door, short bed, pick-up truck. They drove me back to my hotel where I immediately fell asleep. The next day after a pleasant lunch with David and his friends, I boarded a bus and returned to Bangkok.

2. Back in Bangkok:

a. Monsoons:

The monsoon season in South Asia officially began on June 1. Since then angry clouds have filled the Bangkok skies. Very little rain has fallen in the city, generally only enough to make the already dangerous sidewalks slimy and slippery. With the blooming of el Nino in the Pacific this summer, chances are South Asia and Southeast Asia will experience a relatively dry year. On the other hand, Southern California should be wetter than it has been these last few years. Oh, the price of anchovies and sardines probably will rise also.

b. Pookie has a night out:

Having had it spending my afternoons and evenings in my apartment because of the curfew and the skies threatening rain that rarely comes, I decided to treat myself to a night out on the town. For me a night of the town has become simply finding a place to nurse a beer and watch the goings on. So one night I put on a clean shirt and stepped out from my building into the steaming hot air of BKK.

I ate dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, an open front place that takes up the bottom floor of a cheap rooming house on Soi Nana. There I ordered my usual sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice and a coke from the six-foot tall ladyboy who looked like an NFL linebacker with boobs and a cute pink bow in his hair. I watched an American movie on the overhead TV while I ate.

After dinner I walked up Soi Nana searching for a bar in which I could enjoy my beer. Now for those who have not been there, bars along Soi Nana are for the most part open front affairs with young women outside calling out to you to join them just like the sirens called out to Ulysses. But this old sea dog ignored them because he had his sights set on the bright lights of Nana Plaza.

Nana Plaza bills itself as the World’s Largest Adult Playground. It is situated only a few blocks from my apartment. Although for reasons of age, fear of STD and a general aversion to the hard sell I do not avail myself of the services offered at many of the establishments, nevertheless now and then I like to sit at one of the bars with my beer and watch.

Nana Plaza itself is a three-story or so U-shaped building with a large open space in the center. The building houses a number of Go-Go bars, Lady Boy bars and Beauty Salons to service the performers. In the center open area are a number of regular bars open to the sky.

I sat in one of them bought a beer and paid the hostess to not sit with me and try to cage drinks. The sounds of the music coming from the venues and the exuberance of the neon lights makes everyone feel a bit jittery, like they just snorted some cocaine. I sat there nursed my beer and observed.

The women and barkers standing outside the venues desperately attempted to entice each passersby to enter their place. The Ladyboys being men despite the makeup and potential genetic quirks, were more physically aggressive, sometimes surrounding the tourist like a pack of wolves. In one case even demonstrating specifically what she had to offer.

After I finished my beer, I walked home feeling had accomplished something.
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Nana Plaza at night
C. Massage:

A few days ago the Little Masseuse invited me to join her in getting a foot massage at a place she liked.

Contrary to what some may believe not every massage parlor in Thailand is a front for prostitution. Massage is a national pastime in Thailand. I have been in small villages in the country where it seemed like everyone was massaging everyone else, sort of like a band of simians removing lice from one another’s fur.

Thai massage itself is based on pressure points and a little rapid stretching of certain muscles and tendons. For the most part it was developed in the county’s temples, especially Wat Po adjacent to the Royal Palace. Students still go there for instruction.

Most legitimate massage establishments offer Thai massage, a deep tissue rubbing massage, foot massages (reflexology) and a few specialties like facial massages and the like. Often the place will offer only Thai massage or only foot massages.

Most of the illegal (prostitution is illegal in Thailand in order to augment police salaries) sexual oriented massage parlors are located around the various tourist areas of larger cities or at resort areas.

One can figure out if it is a legitimate if:

1. it is located outside of a tourist area,
2. It looks down scale
3. the posted prices are cheaper
4. the women and men offering the massages are older and do not look like fashion models between gigs.

If you are still uncertain, ask a Thai woman you can trust (one that is not receiving a kickback from the massage parlor). For most of the women I know, the massage is the thing. Anything else is purely incidental. If you ask a man however, it’s all in the incidentals.

One of the best massages I ever experienced was in Hat Yai. The King of Thailand had set up a program for blind people to learn massage. At the place in Hat Yai, both men had been blinded in acid attacks. A sighted women in the shop acted as cashier and assisted the masseur in locating the supplies they needed. It was obvious that the masseur had studied more that simple Thai massage, perhaps even formal anatomy. He played the muscles in my body like Ray Charles played the piano.

The massage parlor the Little Masseuse and I were going to was located just off Soi 19 behind Terminal 21. It was situated above a place called Mama’s Pizza just across the street from Mama’s Taqueria. (I do not know if there is a Mama’s Pad Thai, or Schnitzel or Borscht in Bangkok, but I have not been everywhere yet. Come to think of it, a fast food place called Mama’s Pad Thai, Schnitzel and Borscht would probably cause quite a stir in the culinary world).

Anyway we climbed up three flights on a rickety outdoor stairway to the small shop. It provided only foot massages at $4 an hour, a price considerably cheaper than most other places in the area. There were about 15 or so young men and a few women masseuses and 10 overstuffed chairs and ottomans. The massages were very good.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Human trafficking:

The english language newspapers in Bangkok were all aflutter over the report that the US had ranked Thailand among the worst countries for human trafficking. The responses from Thai government spokesmen ranged from outright denial that the problem exists to shock that the US would criticize an ally.

Human trafficking may actually be the worlds oldest profession. A recent study maintained that humans (usually children) were used as one of the systems of account for debt before the invention of coinage. Failure to timely repay the loan would force the pledged child into bondage.

Two personal stories:

How it was in Issan

When she was about 13 years old a woman doctor showed up at the home of the Little Masseuse in rural Thailand. The doctor purchased her from her parents to work in the Doctor’s infirmary in BKK cleaning the instruments and the office. She was given a bed in a tiny room to sleep in. After about two years the inevitable happened. LM was asleep in her room when she was awakened by someone rubbing her body. The Doctor’s husband had crawled into the bed with her. She screamed and cried and woke up everyone in the house. The next morning the Doctor told her that the would have to leave that day and return to her family in Issan.

How it was in Sicily

When she was 7 years old my mother’s father died leaving her and her three older siblings orphans and a significant estate. The oldest child was only 16 and a woman so it was felt that it was not appropriate for her to manage the estate. Her bachelor uncle stepped forward and agreed to marry her promising to take care of the three younger children. On almost the day after the wedding the uncle placed the three children on a boat to America having sold them to three families in the US to work as domestic help. My mother spent the next few years chained to her bed at night so she could not run away until her older brother reached eighteen left his keeper and took my mom and her sister to live with him.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Around 600 BC: The scribes assembling the Hebrew Bible included the Law of Jubilee in Leviticus. The law stipulated that all debts would be automatically cancelled “in the Sabbath year” (that is, after seven years had passed), and that all who languished in bondage owing to such debts would be released.

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.”
Leviticus 25:8-13

I think forgiving all debts every seven years is a great idea. It is strange that there are those who claim the Leviticus’ supposed prohibition of homosexuality is the unchanging word of God, yet the forgiveness of all debts every seven years somehow is no longer applicable. Who is it that decides what God really meant and when he was only kidding?

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

They want a capitalism with the simple balance that, The Father of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Adam Smith indicated was required for it to work. For example:

“Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate… It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms….

by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”

And:

“In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest.

Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”

On regulations:

”When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

On fairness:

“The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than that proportion.”

Finally denouncing vast differences in wealth and income, Smith praised a fellow economist’s tax proposal:

“To remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.”

It has always been a wonder to me why those who praise Capitalism so highly, hate it so much.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
m-emotional
My initial feeling is that somehow the colors are reversed.

 
GOODNIGHT AGENT 355 WHOEVER YOU WERE——

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 JoJo 0003 (May 25, 2014)

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others….”
Groucho Marx

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA

 

 
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. Still in America

Before leaving for Thailand, Bill Geyer and I attended a memorial in Sacramento for John Zierold. Beginning in the late 1960’s he was the Sierra Club lobbyist in the California State Capitol for many years . He also founded the Planning and Conservation League.

The years Zierold prowled the halls of the State Capitol were remarkable for the volume of environmental laws that passed out of the Legislature: CEQA, BCDC, The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, The California Coastal Act, The California Coastal Conservancy, The Tahoe Conservancy, The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and many others including billions of dollars in bond acts to preserve a lot of California’s majestic and not so majestic landscape .

Attending the memorial were many of the now aging players in the political battles during those years, most quite a bit fatter and a few like Bill Yeates and Bill Geyer a lot thinner. Attending were: Bill Kier, head or the Senate Office of Research (Bill was there during the early part of Jerry Brown’s first administration when we were having trouble finding a suitable candidate for the head of the Department of Forestry and Jerry suddenly blurted out, “Indians! Find me an Indian. They know all about the woods.”); Charlie Warren, the ex-Assemblyman who co-authored the Coastal Act; Joe Edmiston the first and still reigning Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; Gene Varininni, Energy Commission Commissioner; Dan Richards, one of my successors as Chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority; Bill Yeates who after working with me became one of the leading environmental advocates in Sacramento and many others including of course Stevie and Norbert.

The speeches, including mine, were mostly the rambling reminisces of old men. Women had generally not yet broken through the glass ceiling in enough numbers to join in the running of the bulls.

A few days later I had lunch with Bill Yeates at an excellent “slow food” pizzeria. I talked far too much.
*************************************

2. “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward,”

Now some may wonder (as I do) why, given the recent imposition of martial law in Thailand, I would choose to go there now. One reason is my tickets are non refundable. Another, although less compelling, is that I have been through civil disturbances like this many times before.

In 1964 or so, during the Harlem riots, I spent them standing at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in front of the Legal Aid office at which I worked watching the battle wax and wane in front of me. Across Lexington stood the hotel where Fidel Castro famously roasted chickens in the hallway. In that same hotel, as I was observing the fortunes of those who would soon be clients, a reporter who later won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the riots sat typing away. Later I got to know and detest that reporter. Still later it was discovered that he was so terrorized by the thought of being injured in the riots that he refused to leave his room or even look out the window and made up everything that appeared in his prize-winning reports.

A few years later in Rome during the student rebellion, I stood among a crowd in front of a university building and watched the protestors defenestrate an opponent who splattered on the cement a few feet from where I was standing.

About a year later, still in Rome, I attended a Fascist protest in Piazza Venezia during which the leader of the protest was crushed beneath the wheels of an army jeep – again a few feet from where I was standing. At another protest (Communist this time) I was caught by a squad of police with raised truncheons and saved myself by shouting “Don’t hurt me, I’m Canadian.”

And of course I participated in the mandatory anti-Vietnam War riots and protests in SF as well as attending various previous coups and protests in Thailand.

What I have learned from all this is that most riots and similar disturbances are localized for the convenience of the media and one must intend to go there to put oneself in harm’s way. Accidents may always happen but danger is something someone generally chooses to risk.
****************************************

3. Flight

The flight to Thailand was uneventful. The plane was not crowded. I was able to scare off a young woman who was eyeing the same row of empty seats that I was. That allowed me to stretch out and sleep in relative comfort except for the sound of retching from the woman across the aisle who vomited every hour or so and for the gentleman in the row in front of me who seemed to suffer an excess of intestinal gas.

There were only three westerners on the last leg of the trip into BKK. Passport control was almost empty.
******************************************

3. Ah, Thailand

By the time I arrived in Thailand, the martial law that had been announced just before I left had graduated to a full coup. A curfew had been imposed that upset both the owners and workers in the city’s bars and nightclubs and their mostly western (farang) customers. Television had been shut down except for the occasional appearance of a photogenic young military man describing the wonderful things being done by the military. A single very bad but very popular soap opera was permitted to be shown in the evening so that the people would have something to do during curfew.

The traffic was wonderfully light, mostly empty taxis and busses. I did not notice the presence of any military in my neighborhood.

In the afternoon I accompanied the Little Masseuse to a shopping center to buy some pillows. She explained to me that she had placed the pillows on the balcony to air out and the wind from a sudden storm blew them off the balcony and into the piles of dog shit that fill the alley between my building and the next. At first I did not believe her. However, I could not come up with a more rational story to account for the disappearance of the pillows. Apparently that same storm also took my underwear into the dog shit along with the pillows.

By the time we arrived at the department store my foot had swollen up like a week old rancid sausage. I could not remember if my doctor’s instructions were that I should go directly to the emergency room in that case or not. I decided not. So, I sat at a table by the food court with a coke while LM set about searching for suitable pillows. As I sat there, I occupied myself with trying to draw sensible generalizations from my observation of the people who passed by. The following is a bit of what I concluded while I sat there:

Farang men wear shorts more than Asians. On the whole, men were color blind except for gay guys. Perhaps it would benefit all men to spend a night or two on the wild side. They would probably dress better. Women on the other hand did not appear color blind. The ladies of the demimonde who paraded by wore pants so tight they appeared painted on or dresses short enough to expose their labia majora. At my age of course I am permitted observe such things without the hint of prurience.

Two low riders passed by with pants hitched somewhere about their knees, their tee-shirt draped down to cover most of the rest of their body. It is a style that I find difficult to understand. Of course from a line standpoint it is simply another version of south asian pantaloons with a straight line rather than the puffy one affected by the maharajas. The low rider style seems quite puritan. After all, although their pants are worn with the waist dropped close to the floor, like those of an over excited lover, the overall look still carefully hides any hint of the human body beneath the costume. (The daintily exposed upper buttocks and crack sported by amorous plumbers on the other hand could be considered quite racy)

What really “grinds my gears” are the two greatest disasters in men’s fashions in the last century John Kennedy’s refusal to wear a hat (may he roast in hell for it) thereby encouraging weak-willed men to go hatless except for that abortion, the baseball cap. I don’t care where you put the bill it still looks like crap. The second disaster was the creation of business casual by removing the only item of color in a mans outfit, the tie. I have heard tell by those who favored the style that ties were too restricting. I ask, was it that or was it that those saying this did not want to admit they were getting fatter?

As for women’s fashion, I like things cut on the diagonal. That is, a diagonal slash across the vertical line of the body. However that double bias cut on the bottom of some modern women’s dresses leaving two bits of fabric floating to the side like upside down wings and an inverted V pointing to their vagina is the greatest fashion mistake since the bustle.

I could go on about this and other things I thought about while I sat there but my foot began to feel better and LM returned with the pillows so we left, took a motor bike taxi and returned to my apartment.
*********************************************

Back at the apartment LM showed me the results of her knitting during the time that I was away. Instead of wool scarves that have no use in tropical Thailand and which I buy from her as presents for my nearest and dearest in the US, she has knitted a bagfull of wool winter caps. They are quite colorful, some with pompoms on the top and some that did not get the shape of the head quite right and so they fetchingly flop over a bit. For those who received the scarves from me as presents in the past, beware, here come the caps.
********************************************************

The next day I went swimming at the health club and then had a two-hour massage (the price has doubled to $20). Talked a while to Gary II (Canadian Gary not Chiang Mai Gary) who was working remodeling his hair salon and who was pissed because had to cancel his hockey game (yes there is hockey in BKK) because of the curfew.
***********************************************

I learned that the Good/Bad David had suffered a crushed disk in his back and spent two weeks in the hospital. He is recuperating in Pattaya.
***********************************************

There still has been no evidence of the military anywhere although the newspapers are reporting they have a new plan for governing the nation that will do away with the necessity of voting.
*************************************************

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

About 20% of the population, more or less, are what is referred to as vivid dreamers, those who know that they are dreaming and to some extent can control the content and length of their dreams. Many vivid dreamers also are able to recall their dreams faithfully for some time after. In my case some dreams become so imbedded in my memory that I can no longer distinguish them from real memories unless something focusses my attention on the unreality of my dream memory.

I have had such a dream memory of Malibu. Why Malibu, I ask myself? After all Malibu is nothing more than a rather ugly shrub choked semi-desert at the edge or the ocean. The people who live there I find are some of the most disagreeable, nasty, self-righteous people on the planet. For the most part they live there only because other wealthy people live there.

I once had a developer friend who told me, “my pappy told me always to sell to the rich. They will spend any amount of money to live next to one another.” Alas, my friend forgot his pappy’s direction, bought a savings and loan and promptly went bankrupt.

Anyway my dream, which I will relate in the next issue of T&T, is unusual in that I learn in the dream itself that my dream Malibu was a fantasy.
(to be continued)

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

As you know, I like to include items written by my T&T correspondents whenever I can. Here is something I found on Cort’s Facebook page that has an interesting take on Lee Harvey Oswald:

“Best book I read on the JFK assassination: Case Closed by Gerald Posner. It has some material on my parent’s accountant, George Bouhe, who I knew well. He was Russian and helped Russian immigrants. He knew LHO well and tried to persuade Marina to leave. According to Bouhe, and almost everyone else who knew LHO, including a psychiatrist who interviewed him at age 13, LHO was a dangerous, narcissistic, raving homicidal maniac. The book is well researched and written.”
Cort Holland

Pookie says, “check it out.”

 

 
DAILY FACTOIDS:

May 31, 2014, the 13th annual Masturbate-a-Thon will be held in San Francisco to celebrate the end of this year’s International Masturbation Month.

1980-1988: When Ronald Reagan took office, U.S. debt was under $1 trillion. After he left eight years later, debt was $2.6 trillion and the U.S. had moved from being the world’s largest international creditor to the world’s largest debtor nation.

 

 
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” was all about and what it really wanted:

It wanted society to avoid what Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations and the justly acclaimed Father of Capitalism warned against:

“But what all the violence of the feudal institutions could never have effected, the silent and insensible operation of foreign commerce and manufactures gradually brought about. These gradually furnished the great proprietors with something for which they could exchange the whole surplus produce of their lands, and which they could consume themselves without sharing it either with tenants or retainers. All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as they could find a method of consuming the whole value of their rents themselves, they had no disposition to share them with any other persons.”

Note: This quote isn’t from some Marxist manifesto. It’s from Book 3 of The Wealth of Nations. Smith denounces the rentier economy represented by large landowners in those days. Owners of financial debt instruments embody those rentiers today.

 

 
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The love of possessions is a disease with them. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbours away. If (North) America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough; the Indian would still have been dispossessed.”
Chief Sitting Bull

 

 
TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
1508569_822649224422757_7678208443533729264_n
I Love Trees but I Never Hug Them

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Capt. Coast 0002 (May 12, 2014)

“In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.”
Terry Pratchett

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE DREAPER

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE VISITS THE STATE CAPITOL:

1. A walk in the park:

A few days ago the car needed to be serviced. After dropping off the automobile, Dick drove me to Sacramento where I waited for the repair shop to complete the repairs.

He left me by the Capitol. After some coffee at a café with tattooed lady baristas, I walked into Capitol Park located directly behind the Capitol building. I love Capitol Park. It is one of my favorite urban parks. Although smaller than Central Park or Golden Gate Park, I find that I enjoy my time there as much as I do in those larger parks. Basically it is a large arboretum with hundreds of fully mature trees from all over the world. I wandered around for an hour or so contemplating each tree and reading the little information plaque identifying its species and common name. It is a little known fact that there are three or so redwood trees in the park that were grown from seedlings that traveled to the moon on one of the Apollo missions. They are referred to as the “Moon Trees.” For years their location was a secret in order to forestall eager collectors from removing the trees until they got big enough to fend for themselves.

Another thing I enjoy there is visiting the small memorials to various wars and other things nestled among the trees. They’re a lot more humble than the garish marble mausoleums demanding our worship that abound Washington DC.

2. BT and me:

While walking I came upon a plaque dedicated to BT Collins embedded in the concrete in front of a bench. I sat down on that bench to reminisce.

For those who did not know him, BT lost an arm and a leg leading a Guerrilla team in the early days of the Viet Nam War when we were still assisting the South Vietnamese government defend itself before deciding to take over the entire war. He returned, was fitted with prothesis’ attended Santa Clara Law School and was working in the first Jerry Brown administration in the Governor’s office when I met him. Ultimately he served in many capacities in State government most often as the person who actually got things done. He was outrageous in word and deed. While Director of the State’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the controversy over aerial spraying of pesticides to combat a fruit fly invasion, in order to prove its safety he famously drank a glass of the pesticide in front of reporters.

One day while sitting in a bar with BT and getting seriously drunk, we, as drunks often do, became sloppily nostalgic about our past lives. We traced our paths from those adjacent bar stools back to NY, to Westchester County, to Stepinac High School and into the same classroom. Until that point neither of us and recognized the other as having known each other previously. He sat in the back of that classroom at one side among the Irish toughs and I sat on the other side of the back row among the Italian thugs.

Every year while I was working in Sacramento he and I would collaborate on a bill to reform portions of the Civil Service law. We would appear together before the appropriate legislative committee each year and never receive a single vote in favor of our proposal.

A life-long Republican, he could teach many so-called liberals about compassion for the underdog.

Rock on BT….

3. I know a Reuben when I see one:

At about lunch time I sat at some outdoor tables on L Street directly across from an entrance to the Capitol. I thought that as the people in the Capitol left for lunch I would recognize some and perhaps have lunch with them and talk of old times. I recognized no one and no one recognized me.

I then tried to guess which of the people walking by was a legislator. I identified one by the sneer he wore on his face when he thought no one was looking at him.

I ordered a Reuben sandwich for lunch that turned out to be fried chicken.

IMG_20140506_122920_854_2
A Selfie of Pookie at the Capitol

4. On monuments and things:

In the afternoon I resumed my walk through Capitol Park. I sat for a while at one of my favorite monuments dedicated to those that served in WWII. The monument itself is an elongated pyramid with a broken top and a crack down the middle. Its smooth facades are imprinted with actual photographs of scenes from the war that appear like ghosts emerging from the mists of time.

World War II I consider one of this nation’s three “good” wars.The other two were the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. For whatever other objectives one can also ascribe to these wars, a major purpose of each was to establish a transcendental ideal of freedom.

The Revolutionary War was fought to free the nation from government by hereditary wealth and power by those who controlled the nations resources. The sons and daughters of the homicidal maniacs who established the dynasties managed one of the greatest PR coups of all time by persuading everyone to refer to them as “Nobles.”

The Civil War engaged in an effort to end that pernicious institutional representation of the concept that human beings were merely economic objects that could be bought and sold at will.

In World War II the allied nations took up arms against the ideology that humanity can be divided into classes in which some enjoy the full rights of citizenship and respect and others were not quite human and so forfeited their rights even to their own lives solely because of the accident of their birth or the nature of their beliefs.

Of course these wars against those three curses of humanity: Government by inherited wealth; Monetizing a person’s value and; Classification of groups of people where some groups enjoy fewer rights, including the right to live (racism is but one aspect of this) did not end those scourges. They only addressed the clear and present danger presented by those institutions that promoted or represented them. The scourges are always with us only their names change over time. They always change their names.

IMG_20140506_141937_798
The World War II Memorial in Capitol Park

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS (Continued):

I called someone over to run and find one of the paramedics that worked in the village. We bundled the injured child into an old Land Rover and drove him to the hospital.

The hospital located about 10 miles away on the other side of the valley was quite new and surrounded by a small town. I assumed the town was peopled by medical personnel who worked at the hospital and those who worked in the preserve but were unwilling to live the spartan lifestyle enforced by Mama in the village.

Tre, Yu and I sat outside the emergency room waiting. Mama arrived a few minutes later and waited silently with us.

The child, all bandaged up and still unconscious was placed in a hospital room after emerging from the emergency ward. There we spent the night. Tre, Yu and I alternately napping and talking quietly among ourselves. Mama sat in a chair rigid and silent, never moving her eyes from the child as though she was willing him to recover. Recover he did and we all returned to our various duties.

Following this I learned that the preserve had been under political, economic and physical assault for many months. Terrorists, resource extraction organizations and the like all hungered for access to the reserve and its resources.

It was a though having fouled every place else (their own nests so to speak) they now ravenously looked at this unspoiled place like the rapist observing his next victim.

Many preserve workers had been injured and some killed. On one of my visits another child had been attacked and Mama and I spent another sleepless night at the hospital.

I noticed on each of my visits the stress on her exacted a greater and greater physical toll. Then on day when I returned to the village I learned that she had been taken to the hospital. I rushed there and into her room. She was lying in bed. He body was horribly shriveled. Her skin had lost its luster and appeared dry and brittle like a piece of cardboard.

I stayed there with her day and night. She still ran the preserve from her bed. She continued to decline. Finally I told her that I had some experience it managing organizations like the Preserve and I would be happy to do so until she got better. She said, “No, this is my life, my world. Your life is somewhere else.” I woke up back in my bed. I knew she had died.

I returned to the village two more times after that to visit with my friends. But, the colors of the place seemed washed out and I had trouble holding on to the dream for more than a few moments. Eventually I stopped going there.

Since then every once in a while in that period between sleep and wakefulness the image of us in the hut, or on the rock outcropping or even in the hospital hovers for a while before disappearing. It comforts me knowing that this is not a dream but a memory. END.

C. ABOUT PEIG, A BOOK REPORT:

“I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge. I have experienced much ease and much hardship from the day I was born until this very day. Had I known in advance half, or even one-third, of what the future had in store for me, my heart wouldn’t have been as gay or as courageous it was in the beginning of my days.”
Peig Sayers, Peig,

Peig Sayers’, Peig, is considered one of the classics of Gaelic literature as well as all literature. She lived much of her life on Great Blasket Island off the Western Coast of Ireland. The island at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula is bleak and barren. It housed between 100 to 150 souls until in the 1940’s the Irish Government in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility removed the remaining twenty-two of them and resettled them in other parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the islanders objected to the relocation.

Peig was an old woman when approached by a representative of the Irish Folklore Commission and asked to write the story of her life on that forlorn island.
IMG_20141020_192528_725
Peig in her cottage

40 years ago I travelled to Blasket. I was ferried there from the mainland in one of those tar covered little leather boats that used to be common in the western part of the country.
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Drying the boats

I met the ferry-man in the pub that stands on the bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and persuaded him (for a few dollars) to row me there. There is a regular motor ferry now.

Although the passage between the islands is no more than a couple of miles wide, it was too stormy and impassable during much of the year for the small traditional row boats available at the time the island was inhabited. So, the residents of Blasket were often marooned and had to live exclusively on what they could glean on the island.

The tiny village on the lee of the island lay in ruins and deserted. I climbed through the ruins and into Peig’s cottage. It was little more than rocks piled on one another for walls with more rocks to make the roof (I understand it has been made into lodging for a small hostel now). Peig’s home contained a single room in which she spent most of her life.
IMG_20141020_192628_845
Peig’s cottage today

Beyond the village exposed to the fierce winds off the Atlantic the rest of the island was covered in a thick mat of furze, Irish gorse and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath much of it. When I walked on it it supported my weight. It felt as though I was walking on a springy mattress. There were no trees or bushes. I climbed part way down the cliffs on the island’s north side where the residents would scramble down to pilfer the eggs of the shore birds that nested there. I did not go further than perhaps 10 feet or so because the cliff quickly became much steeper. It was on those steep cliffs according to Peig that several of Blasket’s citizens met their death trying to secure enough food to carry them through the winter storms.

As hard as life was on Blasket, during the Irish persecutions and famines several mainland families settled on the island, “Because life was better there.”

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Blasket was that Peig was not the only one from there who wrote a Gaelic literary classic. Two others, Twenty Years a Growing and The Islandman, were written by Blasket natives also.

How hard was life on Blasket? Tomas O’Crohan in The Islandman wrote the following about his children:

“Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help us! The very first of them that we christened was only seven or eight years old when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they went as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to save the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me. Before long I lost him, too.”

images-1
Blasket Village ruins. Ireland in the distance.

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: During this year 146 American children were given the name Khaleesi at birth. Khaleesi is the word for “Queen” in a made up language found in the “Game of Thrones.” Before 2013 no one in real life had ever borne that name.

In about that same year a Restaurant named Khaleesi’s was opened in Mission Texas featuring pizza.

Pizza was the favorite food of the Targaryan nobility. They cooked the pizza in dragon fire.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
MilitarySpendingSince1947

It is often said that generals (and countries) fight new wars using the strategies and tactics of the last. Unfortunately for the generals and many politicians alike, it appears that the real wars of today among the major powers are economic and not military.
B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

Re: The NEW YORKER

As you know I like to post some of the well written and interesting comments I receive about things I have written in T&T. This from Stevie:

“Over half a century ago as an 11-year-old growing up in a California railroad town that, for all I know, still doesn’t have a book store, I had the good fortune to make friends with a recent transplant from New York whose mother subscribed to The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, The Saturday Review AND (always my favorite) , The New Yorker.

This was definitely a horizon widener over the Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Boys Life (my brother’s), True Magazine (my father’s — and mine), True Story Magazine (my mother’s), Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek (mine) that we received at my house, and my grandparents’ Life, Look, and Reader’s Digest, all of which I read from cover to cover.

The one thing they (almost) all had in common were cartoons, and I attacked every new issue from the back thumbing through quickly to read every one of the cartoons as quickly as I could. In The New Yorker, though, I would again go through, once more starting from the back, to read the poetry, followed by the book and movie review.

Only then would I turn to the fiction (there were frequently multiple stories, as I recall, at that point) to savor it the way I do the last morsel of lobster or abalone, leaving everything else to be read (of course I read everything else — there were just so many books one could carry back and forth to the library on a bike!) haphazardly, in no particular order.

That’s still the way I read The New Yorker. I did attempt reading the electronic version on my iPad but gave it up when I couldn’t even muster the interest to make it through the cartoons, which don’t seem to read as well from front to back…

This past issue had a Shirley Jackson story — almost 50 years posthumous — but I keep hoping something new and exciting will come along, and I’ll read it in The New Yorker :o)”

The Huffington Post reports:

“The New Yorker led the pack Thursday night at the annual National Magazine Awards, winning four prizes…

Love the magazine as I do I still find its Poetry inept, the articles too long and at times insipid and the cartoons, amusing but not funny. I suggested to Stevie that some rap lyrics could greatly improve things.

big_mac_rap_lyrics_by_nicoletheawesomehog-d5m59xv

According to Matt Daniels (http://rappers.mdaniels.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com) a designer, coder and data scientist at something called Undercurrent in New York City, after analyzing the percentage of unique words used by various rap artists with Shakespeare, fifteen rappers use of unique words exceeded The Bard’s for roughly equivalent sets. Aesop Rock came in first by a mile followed by Wu-Tang Clan, Kool Keith and Cunnlynguists.

So, no apologies this time.

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such abominable business.”
Albert Einstein

“Once guns were made, who would unmake them?”
Hough Howey. Wool Omnibus Edition (p. 319). Broad Reach Publishing.
TODAY’S CARTOON:
20110504_113932_15263

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Capt. Coast 0003 (April 30, 2014)

“Logic doesn’t have to live in the real world. Logic is too busy planning its escape route.”

Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I have written before about the giant turkeys that inhabit this area of the foothills (no, I am not referring to Congressman McClintock). Today on the lawn of the Dr.’s office I was visiting I found the big Tom pictured below strutting about.
IMG_20140417_083649_989
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I spent Easter with my mother and my sister’s family at the nursing home.
IMG_20140420_122025_385_2
Following that, Nikki, HRM and I travelled to Mendocino for a few days at my sister’s home there.
IMG_20140422_160255_780
I left my computer back in El Dorado Hills, suffered electronic communication withdrawal and compensated by reading back issues of The New Yorker.

We returned to Sacramento through Calistoga where Nikki had himself a mud bath. On the following Sunday Nikki left to return to Italy.
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I plan to go back to Thailand for a month sometime near the end of May.

B. POOKIES DREAMS (continued):

There’s not much to tell about how our affair began. It was night and I was walking by her hut. She stood in the doorway leaning against the frame, gazing at the sky. I walked toward her and directly on into the hut. She followed and we laid down together on the bed.

Most of the beds in the village consisted of a straw mat like they have in Japan at the bottom. On top of that one or two soft blankets or rugs or something like that were layered. Then a cool fitted sheet was placed over it all. In this case the sheet was white. The bed was comfortable if a bit hard, but certainly nowhere near as hard as some of the beds I slept on in Thailand.

After that first evening, when I was in the village, I spent almost every night in her hut. Generally we would sit on the bed our backs pressed against the cool mud wall staring at the night sky through the window on the opposite wall of the dark hut. That window provided a view of the night sky framed by a few black branches of trees. A wide streak of light bisected the night sky. It was as if a huge ribbon hung down from somewhere above the roof of the hut. On that ribbon there seemed to be festooned what looked like an infinite number of blinking Christmas lights, white, yellow, red and blue. So many that it seemed like a single pulsating band of light. Now and then a meteor would flash by. I never saw a moon.

The light from outside that window provided the only illumination in the room. I could just make out the outline of her face and the arc of her jaw line as it curved to meet her earlobe.

I could smell the harsh fragrance of the basic soap we all used in the village and the acrid smell of sweat mixed with the sandalwood aroma of the dust that was always with us. Floating through this melange of aromas was the hint of perfume from the shampoo she used. One of the few indulgences she allowed herself.

Eventually we would shimmy down on to the bed.

In the morning, before dawn, I would leave her hut and return to my own to prepare for the day.

We rarely spent time together during the day, even at meals. I would however occasionally see her walking through the village almost always surrounded by children. Now and then I would notice her meeting with people or escorting them around the village. Some of the visitors had suits, others were dressed in various forms of military uniform. There were also some in more casual dress that I assumed were academics of some sort or engineers.They often seemed to be vigorously arguing with her about something or other.

I began to sense tension and stress in the village and especially in Mama. When I asked her about it one night, she dismissed it as a minor irritant.

At first I thought it was merely the ongoing pressure of budget, funding, personnel and administrative matters that are ever-present in any organization and exacerbated by the lack of staff to handle the endless paperwork that is a way of life for most eleëmosynary organizations.

I had some experience about these things and I could sympathize with what she and the other members of the village were going through. Then, one night I found the young son of Tre and Yu unconscious by the side of the road. He had been severely beaten. (to be continued)

C. POOKIES BOOK REPORT:

Because I left my computer behind when I went on my vacation and waiting for re-issuance of my debit card for security reasons, (apparently it had something to do with the new computer virus everyone is concerned about), I have not read any books for the past week or so. I can however rant about The New Yorker Magazine with which I have a love hate relationship.

Like most people who pick up the magazine in the doctor’s waiting room or at someone’s home who for whatever reason subscribes, when I read the New Yorker I skip most of the articles and flip first to the cartoons. I do not find them funny. Someone from the New Yorker once told me with a Eustace Tully like sniff, they’re supposed to be amusing not funny.

Most of the cartoons appear to me to depict characters either collapsing into the ground like slowly deflating balloons or hovering on the verge of transparency. The captions often are snide (which I like) or point out one or another character’s social embarrassment, somewhat at the level of releasing a fart in a crowded room.

The poetry is atrocious. It can be described as poetic excrement. By the time I get to the second line I’m usually furious.

No one I know has admitted to me that they actually read the fiction pieces. They are usually written by a relatively famous Northeast alcoholic, sex-obsessed (or repressed) author, or someone who wishes to be. They really need to now and then try something like publishing the lyrics to a rap song. It would improve the poetry too.

The interesting thing about the non-fiction articles other than their length is that they all begin with great topic sentence that makes you believe you will be greatly informed if you read on. Alas, before I have even finished the first page, new themes are introduced or new characters and I either forget why I started reading the article or, if I have not forgotten, hope I will find it on the following page, often a forlorn hope. When I plod on to the end of the article, to the final paragraph, I frequently discover it lacks any sense of the immediacy with which it began. Or to put more or less into the words of T.S. Elliot it usually ends not with a bang but a whimper.

Now do not get me wrong, I like the New Yorker very much. It reminds me of rainy days and snowy nights on the East Coast with a fire burning in the fireplace or a notoriously dangerous exposed coil (glowing orange) electric heater, depending on one’s socio-economic status. Now and then there would be an article that would knock my socks off and I will always remember it. I love the covers. The magazine also always maintained its grammatical and stylistic standards even as it struggled to remain contemporary. And, I can pile them into stacks in my room for dipping into later (like one does with back copies of National Geographic) and it never looks like clutter.

The following are two quotes from the N.Y. Times that I think catch some of the essence of the magazine and the people who read it:

“The New Yorker magazine has announced that its complete 80-year archive will soon be available on eight computer discs. Some people found this development interesting. But to many, many, many others — and you know who you are, hoarders of America — the idea of being able to own eight DVDs containing every page of the 4,109 issues of the weekly magazine published between February 1925 and February 2005 was life-changing.”
Mimi Avins, July 14, 2005,

“Eleanor Gould Packard, the grammarian for the New Yorker magazine for 54 years whose search for logic, clarity and correct usage in sentences won her grateful as well as grudging admirers among the staff, has died. She was 87. She died Sunday. Her family did not give the cause of death. The first, last and only grammarian at the magazine got her start there in 1945 after sending a letter asking about job openings. In it she pointed out several errors she found in a recent issue.”
Mary Rourke, February 18, 2005

 

 
DAILY FACTOID:

During the mid 3rd Millennium BC, Sargon of Akkad wrote the following:

“My mother was a changeling (?), my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azurpiranu (the wilderness herb fields), which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose not over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was gardener Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and (fifty?) … years I exercised kingship.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

“We today owe our intellectual and humanitarian heritage to Franklin Roosevelt. Not because he vindicated principles of easy money or public finance. Not because he vindicated principles of modern liberalism. But – for the first time in the history of our nation and all nations – he demonstrated that government can exist for the great benefit of the many at the minor cost of the few. For almost a century both political parties have lived by this end, if disagreeing on the means.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

B. An Ethical Focus:

“Today’s Needs

Give me:

Shelter from the Elements
Food for Mind and Body
Love of Family and Friends

Today’s Goals

Let me:

Bring Peace where there is Strife
Be Gentle and Courteous.
Grieve for the Misfortunes of Others
Be Compassionate and Charitable.
Be Patient.
Do no Harm.
Ask Forgiveness of those I have Harmed.
Forgive those who have Harmed me.
Avoid Damage to the Circle of Life.
Restore where I can what has been Damaged or Harmed.
Help those who Need it
Not Disparage Others.
Be Steadfast in the Face of Criticism for Doing Right.
Be Kind to those who Disagree with me.
Be Humble whenever I may be Exalted.”

I found the above while rummaging through my files. I am not sure who wrote it or why. I include it here because I like it since it is a moral bromide without appeal to a Supreme Being and it seems to include protection of the environment among its fundamental moral precepts. Compare those who may choose to live their lives following these rules with Juergen Stroop below.

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue…. Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved…. Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”
Juergen Stroop. Report to Nazi superiors regarding the extermination of the Jewish Community in the Warsaw Ghetto 1943.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”
Adam Smith

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

20140422_usdm_home-638x492
Although the length and severity of the drought may be attributed to climate change, the predicted El Niño weather pattern expected to begin this summer may bring increased rain and hot weather to Northern California and Oregon relieving the drought. There is a good chance, however, it will bring only increasingly hot temperatures to the rest of the Southwest.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

1032-934x

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Capt. Coast 0003 (April 16, 2014)

 

“The joy of theft is the lack of overheads.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The heat of Summer has struck the foothills like lightning struck Ben Franklin’s house key. Temperatures have reached the high 80’s in the foothills and the 90’s in the valley. I expect in a few weeks the hills will lose their green and turn golden for a moment before sliding back to their usual dull brown.
**********************************

Every day between 7:30 to 7:45 AM after I drop HRM off at school I go to Bella Bru Cafe for breakfast of a non-fat caffe latte and a cinnamon raison bagel with cream cheese. The people working there have gotten to recognize my car when I enter the parking lot and they have my order prepared by the time I walk into the Cafe. I am pleased with this slight but welcome confirmation of my existence.
************************************

Along the main road in El Dorado Hills there are two large rocks upon which people paint birthday greetings. Every year on the day before his birthday I do so for HRM. This morning while driving by I noticed one of the rocks announced, “Violet is 5.” I have no idea who Violet is and why I found that particular message rememberable, other than I like the name Violet and 5 years old is younger than most of the celebrants noted on the rocks. In any event Happy Birthday Violet.
**************************************

HRM is nine years old. He still believes in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. This morning we had a discussion about how much money the Tooth Fairy must have in order to for her go traveling around the world paying people for their lost teeth.

Is there a time when adults are obliged to explain to children some of life’s realities? It is the same time as when they explain (if ever) birds, bees and storks?
****************************************

B. POOKIE’S DREAM (continued):

A few days later I was invited to ride along on a truck going deeper into the preserve. I jumped at the chance. We started well before sunrise and drove through forest and savannah for several hours until the solid green wall of the jungle rose up before us. Nestled at the edge of that seemingly impenetrable mass of vegetation was a small village.

The people of the village did not appear to me to be African at all. Traditional Peoples south of the Sahara tended to be pastoralists and farmers, not hunter gatherers. Nor did they look a lot like natives of the Sahel and further south. They looked in fact more like the indigenous people in the South American rain forest or Borneo pictured in National Geographic which is where my dream probably got them from. They were mostly bronze skinned and festooned with bones and beads piercing their septums or ear lobes or hung in their hair or on strings around their necks, arms or ankles. Their hair ranged from tightly curled to early Beetles bangs. They wore various colored dyes on their faces and bodies. I did not notice any scarifications or tattoos.

They were, of course in keeping with their National Geographic genesis, mostly naked. The children, starkers, running every which way, screaming and laughing. The men, the older the more pot-bellied, bare but for a ragged cloth over their privates or nothing at all. One or two sporting a penis sheath. The women, naked breasts becoming more slab like and drooping towards their waste as they aged, here and there sported a grass kirtle or a piece of cloth or leather like the men. The younger women, their brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples protruded proudly from their chests.

For males of my age, I suspect many of us recall that time before Playboy began publication when most of us got our pre-adolescent titillation from surreptitiously staring at the brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples in the photographs of the ubiquitous National Geographic magazines of which it seemed every home had at least a modest supply. I wondered at the time, being too young and inexperienced to understand the subtleties and complexities of racial prejudice, why brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples were freely exposed while white breasts with pink nipples were covered with cloth. I concluded that to most adults white breasts with pink nipples must have appeared too horribly ugly and therefore needed to be hidden from view.

I met the representatives of the preserve, a middle-aged man and a youngish woman. They were both dressed like the other residents of the village. The man sporting a grey beard and thick white hair might have been European or Middle Eastern, but his skin was burned so dark and leathery it was difficult to tell. The woman seemed clearly of African descent. They shared the duties of providing medical services to the people of the village as well as those deeper in the jungle and conducting anthropological and sociological studies. They also accompanied and assisted scientists and others allowed into the preserve.

I was told that the residents of the village were quite antagonistic to strangers. I learned this first hand as I toured the settlement. The residents seemed happy and often laughing except when I came close. Then they became silent, sullen and almost threatening. As my guides explained, they see themselves as protectors of the preserve and everyone else as a threat. It all appeared to me to resemble the theory behind the establishment of those seed banks deep in the arctic so that in case of a disaster we would have stock to begin again. Admirable but naïve I thought .

I was taken briefly into the jungle to observe hunting by the villagers. After a lot of walking about, missed shots and mutterings they managed to bring down a small monkey with a blow gun.

All in all I was happy to leave and return to the village where I was staying.

After a few more days, I left the village to return home. I did not go back through the armed town containing my Armenian relatives, but drove on a very curvy road through some mountains. Now and then subdivision development appeared along the side of the road that seemed suspiciously like those in the foothills where I now reside. Eventually we topped a ridge where I could see the coastal plain before me and the airport. Beyond the airport was the ocean. At that point I woke up.

Over about the next year and a half, I returned to the village six or eight times. Sometimes I would fly into the airport near the ocean, at others I would find myself in the armed town and now and then I would just appear in the village itself.

The first time I returned, Mama and I became lovers. (to be continued)

 

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

Declan Burke

I thought it’s time to write about my current man-crush, the Irish mystery and thriller author Declan Burke. Burke’s novel’s, read like Ken Bruen on steroids (try Slaughter’s Hound). His agent advised him that he could make more money writing comic mysteries like Leonard and Hiaasen. So, although he writes more or less the same stories of violence and degradation as Bruen, his bad guys say and do things a bit dumber while his chief protagonist’s rapid fire patter suggests the recent ingestion of about pound of cocaine.

He like Bruen lives much of the time in the perpetual fog and drizzle of western Ireland. They both set the locus of many of their novels there. This misty dark landscape, I believe, has something to do with the tenor of their stories.

Just think, I spend my days in constant sunlight sitting on a warm deck observing flowers, birds and clouds and it still pisses me off. Imagine how angry I’d be if every day I’d go outside to be met with only fog, wind, drizzle and cold.

My personal favorite Declan Burke novel is Absolute Zero Cool. Not so much for its plot but because there are more explosions of one liners per page than in a string of Chinese firecrackers. It’s as though Philip Marlowe returned and found himself slogging through a bog in Galway.

Pookie says, check it out.

“Survival has never been a right… Survival has always been a matter of hard-earned elitism.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

“It’s a crying shame, yeah, so have a cry, feel ashamed and get over it. The rest of the week is coming on hard and its brakes are shot to hell.”
Burke, Declan. Eightball Boogie.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1177: In that year the Pharaoh Ramses III defeated the so-called “Sea People” in a series of battles in the Nile Delta saving Egypt from the destruction experienced during the previous 50-100 years by every other major empire and power in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near and Middle East thus ending the Golden Era of the Bronze Age and ushering in an almost 500 year-long Dark Age.

Prior to that era of turmoil, that area supported the following major powers: The Hittite Empire, Mycenaean/Cretan Empire, Assyrian and Kassite/Babylonian Empires, Mitanni Empire and Egypt. It also encompassed the mostly independent kingdoms of Ugarit (Syria), Canaan, Cyprus, Hausa, Troy (Troad) and a number of others. Every one was swept away and disappears from history except Egypt which nevertheless spiraled into a decline from which it never recovered. (Note: Assyria experienced two centuries of decline before being replaced by the neo-Assyrian Empire)

Almost every society (again with the exception of Egypt) lost the ability to read and write for almost 200 years. Cuneiform writing and the languages of most of those countries disappeared from history as completely as did the nations that supported them. It was replaced mostly by the Phoenician writing system we use today. Aramean became the lingua-franca of the Near and Middle East.

A host of connected causes including climate change, earthquakes and a complacent, self-protecting aristocracy of inherited wealth have been blamed for the massive migrations, revolutions and warfare that utterly destroyed that civilization. Such a complete disintegration of a culture was not to be seen again until the collapse of the Roman Empire 1700 years later.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”
Martin Gilens, Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page Northwestern University. Perspective on Politics.

 

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

Progressives can slap themselves on the back all they want, but as usual they have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped, trained and financed while all too often all the Progressives have is their optimism to sustain them as the barricades are overrun while they wait for popular support that never comes.”
Trenz Pruca

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“That, in its essence, is fascism–ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 
TODAY’S CHART:
funny-graphs-architects

 
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
374-934x

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joey 0003 (April 10 2014)

 

“Nil mortifi, sine lucre. Remember. No killing without payment.”
(Motto of the Assassins Guild.)
Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld) (p. 62). Harper Collins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

It is the season of the Swimming Cult. About two hundred other parents, various family members and I attended the orientation for the Sierra Sharks swim team that I signed HRM up for. It felt more like we were sending the kids to reform school than to an enjoyable athletic adventure. They seemed to have considerably more interest in what jobs the parents sign up for than in the welfare of the swimmers.

I agreed be responsible for checking the swimmers conformity to the rules as they make their lane turns during the meets. I intend to allow considerable opportunity for innovation.
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Hosts of California Poppies are blooming gold against the deep green or the hills. Mustard fields, a bright yellow ,have joined them. In the late afternoon from the rocking chair on the deck I watch hummingbirds and bees feed on the flowering trees.
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Today I saw five people walk past the house. Shocked, I stood in the driveway staring at them with my mouth open. One of them, a middle-aged man saw me and waved before continuing on out of view. They were followed by the postman in his little white truck who stopped by our post box on the side of the road and filled it with advertisements and offers of untold riches.
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I miss Thailand. Although it is not what it used to be and in a sad state of decline, it still has a certain seedy electric excitement much like the Las Vegas Strip. Now don’t get me wrong, El Dorado Hills is quite nice. Some magazine just ranked it the seventh best place in America to raise a family. But let’s face it, who wants to spend all their time someplace certified for family values. That’s like watching only G rated movies.

For example, in Bangkok each morning during the mile or so walk from my apartment to the health club I am almost guaranteed to see or experience the following: at least three offers of sexual congress, one of which will be from someone of uncertain gender; a fight between two ladies of the night complete with tearing off of clothes and pulling of hair; one person lying on the sidewalk in a coma or dead; a dozen or so rats scurrying away from my feet as I walk along; packs of soi dogs so mangy, flea ridden and rabid that should they ever chance upon a PETA meeting the participants would shoot them on sight; one or more farangs (Westerners), partly clothed and drunk, vomiting into the gutter; a rupture in the sidewalk every five feet or so that should I step on it wrong I would break an ankle or pitch into a sewer that runs underneath; several sidewalk stands purveying the latest in vibrator technology and pharmaceutical breakthroughs in male virility enhancement; other stands selling every possible mechanism for killing another human being that does not require gunpowder or dynamite; every sort of pirated good you can conceive of; food stands and sidewalk cafe’s selling almost every kind or food you would or would not want to eat; a hundred or so bars and go-go places including one specializing it BJ’s and another in anal sex; an equal number of massage parlors; a bazillion cars all stopped solid in the daily mother of all traffic jams and another bazillion motor bikes many carrying more than two passengers. Oh yeah, a lot of noise and air so thick with pollutants that it takes at least 10 minutes off your life for each breath you take. Now and then there is a political demonstration of some sort with the participants wearing either red or yellow shirts bitching about something I don’t understand. Police and soldiers heavily armed with about every weapon imaginable lounging around the side streets in great numbers as I pass by. All this backed by a huge unending series of monoliths containing hotels, office buildings and high-priced condominiums impassively reflecting in their mirrored sides the turmoil on the streets below.

In El Dorado Hills about the only things that change are the clouds.
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B. POOKIES DREAM (continued):

A great brown and grey cloud billowed at the far end of the valley through which plunged a stampede of animals. Not like the great Serengeti migration where large herbivores run the gauntlet of predators but a stampede of all sorts of animals, herbivore and predator alike. Elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, wild pigs and warthogs, even monkeys and chimpanzees plunged down the valley toward us. It looked a lot like the start of the SF Bay to Breakers race. I was so frightened I considered waking myself up. But recalling Mama’s calming words, I plopped down on the nearest rock, my heart pounding almost as loud as the the sounds of the hooves and paws plunging toward us.

The herd split into two, each half passing the rock outcropping on opposite sides. The others on the rocks with me clapped and laughed. Suddenly a large male lion all ruff and fangs detached itself from the herd and sprang up the rocks right toward me. It swerved just before it reached me, brushed by and bounded over the top or the outcropping to rejoin the stampede leaving me little worse for wear other than a slightly strained sphincter.

A rhinoceros bumped out of the pack stumbled up the rocks a few feet, fell down and struggled to get up again. A child sitting nearby leaned over and patted it on its horn. The beast chuffed, backed itself down and ran off.

After the animals passed leaving only the rumble of their passage further down the valley and swirling clouds of dust, everyone on the rocks clapped and cheered like the Forth of July crowds after the fireworks.

We then all walked off into the woods until we came to a stream. Everyone dove in to clean off the dust and dirt. Some removed their clothing and others jumped in clothes and all. I decided to explore the stream a bit and walked away until I could no longer hear their cries and laughter. I soon came to a place where the stream widened out into a small pool. Across the way the stream entered the pool in a small two-step waterfall. The upper stories of the forest were pulled back around the pool allowing the sunlight to flood down glittering the spray of the waterfalls and turning the bottom of the pool iridescent.

The trees surrounding the pool although open to the sun at their tops crowded the pool in a seemingly impenetrable wall. Sitting or hopping about on the branches of the trees were hundreds of birds of every color and shape of feather. Where they did not hide the trees behind from view, thousands of butterflies fluttered about filling up the spaces. Strangely there was no sound of birds calling to one another, only the thrumming of their wings and the shushing of the waterfall. After a while I began to think the whole thing was spooky and so I returned to the village.
(To be continued)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

While I agree in principle with the sentiments expressed below, their intemperance probably results from living ones life, as the author does, in a thatched roof cottage on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean encased in almost constant fog.

“The theory of democracy holds that the most wretched is rightfully equal in status to the most powerful. This is history.

This is bunk.

Democracy is political theory reaching back 5,000 years to the pyramids for inspiration, an apex dependent on a broad foundation for its very existence. It is the few bearing down on the millions, and the millions feeling proud that they have provided an unparalleled view of the universe for the few. Democracy is a blizzard of options so thick it obscures the fact that there is no choice.

The cradles of democracy, London and Philadelphia, deployed genocide as a means of social engineering, in Australia and North America respectively, a full two hundred years before Hitler and Stalin began their pissing contest in Poland.

It is no coincidence that democracy evolved in tandem with the Industrial Revolution. Democracy and capitalism are symbiotic parasites. Democracy’s truth is not one man, one vote; it is one man, one dollar. Democracy’s truth is the abrogation of the individual’s rights in favor of collective procrastination, while those running the show exercise censorious control on behalf of the nervous disposition of the collective will….

Democracy has replaced religion as the opiate du jour. Democracy is the ostrich with its head in the sand and its ass in the air, begging to be taken in traditional pirate fashion. It is the subjugation of the people, by the people, for the people. It is the inalienable right to purchase your personalized interpretation of liberalized slavery. It is the right to sell your soul to the highest bidder. It is the right to pay for the privilege of being alive….

For some reason most dictators fail to realize that the trick to democracy is to have the slaves buy and sell themselves. The trick is to incentivize slaves to invest in their slavery, to pay for their own prisons, shackle themselves to brick and mortar.

The trick to democracy is in ensuring the slaves’ capacity for self-regulation is not taken for granted. The trick is to maintain the healthy tension between democracy and capitalism, so that one does not undermine or overshadow the other. The trick is to ensure that the slaves’ investment retains the illusion of value. Failure to do so will result in the slaves questioning the worth of their dollar and/or vote. The answer to this question is delivered in blood.

Masters of the Universe, do not say you weren’t warned.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

B. More reflections on fly fishing:

I am always flattered when someone responds positively to something I wrote in T&T. The following is from Naida West. As you know, I consider Naida’s historical trilogy, The California Gold Trilogy, to contain three of the finest historical novels written about America. Unlike others who merely place their story in another era, Naida’s involves mostly actual people taken from diaries and other sources to which she adds missing thoughts, motivations and dialogue and a character or two. Her characters are not kings and queens and the like, but real ordinary (and some not so ordinary) people who populated the banks of the Cosumnes River more than 100 years ago.

“I loved your reflections of fly fishing, such as this: “(Fly fishing) is a type of meditation for those who like to be uncomfortable while doing it and are infatuated with gear.”

Here’s a reflection of my own:

My lawyer father, a delightful actor on life’s stage if one winked at his pursuit of women and booze, grew younger before my eyes as he neared his favorite trout streams. By the time we left the road and bumped violently over bushes and rocky outcroppings seeking a place to stop, he was a wide-eyed child at Barnum and Bailey’s tent door. He bounced out to retrieve his gear while I steeled myself for a day of boredom with the windows up, my only excitement murdering mosquitoes that had snuck in while the door had been open. As the sun edged across the sky I poached in my sweat, recalling the day I explored a riverbank in shorts while he fished. The angry welts all over me, overlapping even under my shirt, just about killed me or so I thought. My dad had scoffed and said I should control the effects with my mind like he did. Umm, no. He admired swamis who barefooted across glowing coals.

Yet for an hour or two, coming and going, I had my dad to myself. At the wheel he recited story-length poems by Longfellow, Gray, Coleridge, and Poe, using theatrical emphasis to convey the meaning of outdated idioms. Between poems he answered questions about the words and phrases, always in an interesting way, repeating the stanzas where they were used. I memorized some of those poems before my mother & grandmother hauled us to CA, and in the 8th grade my teacher had me go from room to room in Carmel High School reciting them to classrooms of older kids. I saw my dad only a handful of times after we left Idaho, though he lived until 1989.”
Naida

It is great to be reminded that there was a time when people quoted Longfellow, Poe and others instead of relying on street corner argot and advertising slogans to prove their intellectual integration with the greater American culture. I, myself, often sprinkle my speech with the word “fuck.” It signifies my affinity for the common idiomatic mode of discourse we Americans use to express ourselves.

Speaking of Longfellow, I always felt he got a raw deal from the critics. He was part of a movement that began with Washington Irving and continued until Whitman gave up the ghost in an orgy of pantheistic individualism. They tried to create a new song unique to America out of the diverse traditions of those living or migrating to the continent at the time. True it was mostly wrapped in Yankee sensibilities. Native American, Knickerbocker, Frontiersman, Acadian, Settler at the edge of the primeval wilderness and even the sad songs of slavery were all bundled into a single melody, recognizable even where altered. A violin differs from and oboe in its history, shape and sound. But, in a symphony by Brahms, joined together they create a song far different from what either could accomplish separately. No one criticizes old Johannes for failing  to allow each instrument its own solo. Even Jazz requires the solos to doodle around with the underlying theme. (Come to think of it, Jazz was another attempt to meld the diverse music of several cultures relying in part on the fundamentals of European folk music, African syncopation and rhythm, and Klezmer instramentalization.)

Romantic and fuzzy headed, this movement died at mid-century when the two true songs of America emerged, one indescribably evil and malicious. The other almost as bad, lacking a unifying theme other than simple revulsion.

Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, an attempt to use new interest at the time in Native American culture and legends to create a syncretic myth for the new country, has been soundly criticized. At first the criticism appeared to emanate from the trolls of that era who focused, in part, upon the poems idealization of a people whom they believed deserved their extinction. Later, because the poem relied on the study of Native American culture by a man who was one of the first to take an interest in their way of life, it was ridiculed because significant portions of that research was in error and more recent studies decades after the poem’s publication came to different conclusions. This is like criticizing the ancient Egyptians for not using reenforced concrete to construct their pyramids.

Did you know that the recitation of the Song of Hiawatha provides greater psychological and physical benefits than meditation? It’s true, try it. Find a quiet room, darkened but not devoid of light. Make yourself comfortable and slowly in a hushed voice as deep you can manage recite the poem making sure you accent it properly.

Longfellow used the trochaic meter instead of the iambic that is more comfortable for Indo-European speakers. It is a more common rhythm in Ural-Altaic languages (in this case Finnish) that Longfellow believed, rightly or wrongly, reflected the language of the First Peoples. In any event, for some English speakers it seems to produce chthonic rhythms that reverberate in the marrow of their bones like the moan of a cello.

Try it, you’ll like it. Do not begin with that portion of the poem that we learned in grade school but at the beginning with the Introduction. To get you started I include it here:

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.
I repeat them as I heard them
From the lips of Nawadaha,
The musician, the sweet singer.”

Note: Do not try this with Evangeline or any of the Acadian poems. Those rhythms can cause mild stomach upset to the inexperienced.

 

C. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

Metaphor rhymes with pinafore.
But can a pinafore become a metaphor?

I apologize for the above, regret it and am truly humiliated.
 
TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett

“Spence patted him on the shoulder and said, “Goodnight, Bogie.” Bogie turned his eyes to Spence very quietly and with a sweet smile covered Spence’s hand with his own and said, “Goodbye, Spence.” Spence’s heart stood still. He understood.”
Kathrine Hepburn describing the last time she and Spencer Tracy (another man’s man who died in much the same way) saw Humphrey Bogart.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

Map showing what those place names actually mean:
17

I was born in New Yew Tree Estate, lived a while in The Land of the Main Hill Wood, and went to college in Marsh Farm before moving to Saint Little Frank One in the Land of the Succession.

 

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