January 2013 through March 2013

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Joseph 0002 (January 14, 2013)

Note: Take a look at “Live Blogging from World War II: Russell Braddon on the Burma Railroad” below for an excellent first person view of his life as a grunt during WWII

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

 

The morning of my departure from Thailand, I set off from my apartment and headed to “FoodLand” for breakfast. I wound my way through the ladies and ladyboys of the morning, noon and night strolling along Soi Nana, still working. They called out to me “Hello papa.” I ignored them. Nana Plaza, the central edifice of the red light district slouched off to my right. The morning light exposing its dinginess.

 

I was mired in the deep depression I always experience just before leaving on a trip. The open front bars with their raised counters directly abutted the sidewalk. Constructed just above pedestrian head level, the counters allow the customers to look over the pedestrians and observe the neighborhood wildlife it all its variety. As I passed one of the establishments, suddenly I felt my hat fly off from my head. I assumed it had been caught on one of the roofs or umbrellas of the vendors carts sharing the sidewalk with me. I immediately spun around looking for it but I could not find it either impaled on a structure or rolling on the ground. Then I looked up at the counter and noticed one of the patrons sitting there clutching my crushed hat and smiling as though he had just won the Nobel Prize. I could not tell if at 8AM this was his first drink of the day or whether he had been rooted there the night before.

 

Irritated, I snatched my hat back.

 

“Hey,” he said, his smile broadening. “It’s only a joke.”

 

“You think its funny,” I responded? “How funny would you think it would be if I took that drink sitting there at your elbow and dumped it on your head?” “It would be pretty funny to me,” I added.

 

“Hey, hey now, no need to get angry. It was a joke.”

 

Having raised the drink dumping issue, I could feel the itching in my fingers urging me to carry out the threat, not because I was particularly angry, but because I was intrigued at its cinematography. I could visualize the you-tube video going viral. Alas, discretion prevailed and I just walked off.

 

By the time I had gone a few steps, I began to feel like crap. Why couldn’t I have just smiled and went on my way? I felt as though I had just made the world a little bit darker. It did not help lighten my mood.

 

Foodland where I had breakfast, is one of my favorite places to eat in BKK. It is a counter service restaurant in a supermarket. Not only is it the least expensive food in the neighborhood other then from the sidewalk carts, but it serves both Thai and western meals (e.g., Ham Steak, American Breakfasts and the like).

 

After breakfast, I stood outside and waited, along with the supermarket clerks, LM and a few others, for the monk who comes by every morning at about this time with his begging bowl. He eventually arrived and collected enough food to open a small grocery store. It filled two large trash bags and two standers-by were pressed in to service to help him carry it off. He sat on a stool someone had found for him and everyone but me got down on their knees. One of the woman tugged at me to kneel also. I refused. There was no way I was going to kneel on one of BKK’s dog-shit-and-god-knows-what-else covered sidewalks. I bowed my head instead. The monk chanted briefly and then waved his hand over the tiny mob of kneeling woman with a bowing farang in their midst. I assumed that was the blessing since is was a lot like what I see the Pope do on television on Easter Sunday when he blesses the throngs kneeling on the pigeon-shit-and-god-knows-whatever-else lined the pavements at the Vatican. My mood lightened after the benediction. I sort of convinced myself it was auspicious for my trip.

 

On the way back to the apartment I was sniffling a-lot. In addition to depression, I also usually come down with some malady or another when I travel. Noticing my sniffles LM said that in Thailand sniffles are impolite. Actually what happened was that she mimed sniffling and said “In Thailand, not polite.” She then demonstrated Thai style politeness in that circumstance by walking to the curb, delicately depressing one of her nostrils with a finger and blowing a luggie into the street. “That is how you do it in Thailand,” she added unnecessarily.

 

I considered entertaining a discussion on intercultural social mores, but decided against it. Went back to the apt., finished packing and left for the airport.

 

While in that semi-comatose state one often finds oneself in while waiting to board the plane, it struck me that this was probably as good a day as any to leave BANGKOK.

 

During the flight, I tried to mitigate the discomfort of a 12 hour flight in a center seat, by holding my own Woody Allan film festival gleaned from out of the airlines selection of in-flight entertainment. Although I find all off Allan’s movies delightful, I could not help but conclude that they all seem to be about wealthy people with too much time on their hands and too much Valium in their blood streams. Allen’s oeuvre could probably be entitled: “Stoned without Consequences.”

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

 

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

Creation myth update #3: Maybe we are not in Mr Rogers’ neighborhood anymore Toto, part II.

 

When observing a lion and a giraffe, it is pretty easy to tell that they are separate species, they look different and they behave different. Even when they look somewhat alike for example a lion, cheetah or a leopard one quickly notices enough behavioral differences to conclude that they were different species. Sometimes, however, it takes a long time and a lot of observation before differences between animal species are recognized, especially if they look alike. So it is with the two species of Chimpanzee (Genus: Pan), the Common Chimpanzee (Species: troglodytes) and the Bonobo (Species: paniscus). The Chimps were “discovered” by people living outside of Africa about the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, yet it was not until the middle of the Twentieth Century that those who study this sort of thing realized that troglodytes was not paniscus. It took decades of constant observation thereafter to recognize how different their behaviors really were.

 

Bonobo

Bonobo (Photo credit: Fat Steel Panda)

 

 

 

One reason for this difficulty in recognizing the chimp – bonobo difference, is that, among the “Great Apes” (e.g, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, us, and the now extinct early Hominids that we met on our travels out of Africa) although we may not look alike, we do spend most of their days pretty much alike. We all sleep, eat, pick our noses and examine what’s hanging from our finger-tip, sit and stare in the distance, belch and fart, defecate and throw our feces at each other, have sex, scratch, poke sticks into termite nests, examine what comes out attached to the stick for a while then lick it off (like licking an ice cream cone), scratch, sit and stare some more, go about our business getting something to eat, and so on: you know, same old same old.

 

Chimpanzee. Taken at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Chimpanzee. Taken at the Los Angeles Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Although, to a significant extent, we can tell the difference between many of the Great Ape species easily by how they look and things like that; arboreal or terrestrial, big or small, hairy or less so and so on, not so with chimps and bonobos. Not only do they look a lot alike but at first it was assumed they behaved the same. Then one day some scientists, who had probably spent a good part of their lives in the bush, noticed that now and then groups of male chimps would go out a kill one or two other chimps for fun or would patrol boundaries of their territory and kill any chimp from another tribe that wandered in. The scientists then tried to determine if this was an aberration or a regular behavior pattern. Finding it to be something that chimps often do, they then decided to see if bonobo’s did the same thing. Armed with the results of their studies on this and other behavioral oddities of the chimps, scientists spent decades with Bonobo’s looking for similar behavior.

 

They were surprised. Instead of killing those of their own kind they did not like, the bonobos engaged in every conceivable sexual perversion imaginable with just about anyone who came along as a means, the researchers reasoned, to avoid conflict (that it may have been smarter and a lot more fun, never seemed to enter the researchers minds.) Included among the milder examples of the bonobo’s lascivious behavior was the practice of rubbing each others genitals just to say hello. I imagine approaching someone and rubbing his or her genitals, in human society would not be considered a friendly act nor would it reduce aggression. More the worse for us.

 

So there you have it. Two species of Ape looking a lot alike and most of the time behaving a lot alike but when it came to dealing with others, responding quite differently. One aggressive and territorial and the other not so. One believing in “make love not war,” and the other in “Fuck you, its mine.” One more like us and the other more like we would like to be. Perhaps it is this conflict in self-image that has prompted the dichotomy within humans that has caused them so much pain over the ages.

 

I suspect that when our ancestors moved into Eurasia, although they more or less physically resembled the Hominids already there, they behaved differently in a lot of ways. Our ancestors may have behaved more chimp-like and those already living there more like bonobos.

 

This does not mean that the existing hominids were passive and did not engage in violence even savage violence but only that it was, in general, manifested differently. If one were to try to take the food from the mouth a bonobo, I suspect he would fight you just as savagely as a chimp would. Also, it does not mean that chimps and Homo Sap Saps spend their days killing or dreaming about killing members of their own species. It only means that they had predilections in many things, reactions to stimuli one can say, by which they conducted their lives that affected how they behaved toward each other and those they considered not members of their tribe. For example I suspect for the earlier hominids violence was limited primarily to the hunt and at direct threats while Sap Sap, like the chimps, saw territorial issues and group membership as perhaps more significant.

 

In addition there appeared to be another archeological clue that may demonstrate a fundamental social and behavioral difference between the earlier species and the newer migrating hominids. Archeological, anthropological and genetic evidence, such as found in the Denisova cave seem to show that the pre HSS hominid’s of different species would at times live together and, as indicated above, fewer remains showed intra or inter-species violence among other hominids than they showed inter-species violence among HSS. Also the inhabited caves seems to be a lack of evidence of HSS occupation at the same time as the other Hominids, before or after perhaps but rarely, as far as can be determined, at the same time.

 

Also related to this seeming aversion or clannishness among the new arrivals, it appears that the earlier hominids easily trekked back and forth through each others territory without too much of a problem. There is even evidence that some of them were able to return to Africa now and then. On the other hand, HSS almost never backtracked. It was almost 20,000 years of migration before they began to intrude into territory they had previously passed through. I suspect, one of the reasons for this reticence was that, as they knew they, their long-lost cousins would, chimp like, view them as enemies and try to drive them away or kill them.

 

Although analogy is a poor form of proof, it sometime is helpful in making things clearer although alas at other times unfortunately muddling everything up. With that caveat, consider the lion with her kill. Just as she sits down to snack on the gazelle she killed she looks up and sees a pack of jackals or hyena’s inching in. She smacks at one and they scatter. Unlike, her experience with other lions who once she establishes dominance would move off to find something else to eat that did not require a fight, these scavengers stay and stare, saliva dripping from their teeth ready to rush in and grab something if she is distracted for a moment. Often, the lion, instead of enjoying its meal, is so disturbed it abandons its kill and moves off. Scavengers and pack predators behave like that. Even if the lion remembers the event and moves off to hunt somewhere other than where she met the hyenas, she would soon find that implacably they followed her.

 

At the risk of over simplification, I believe our ancestors most likely behaved more like a mix of pack predator and committed scavenger, perhaps resembling a wolf pack of a biker gang as much as anything else. The other hominids, however, although they also most likely scavenged for a significant portion of their diet, more resembled predators like the lions, in their behavior and attitudes.

 

I imagine, those hominids to be somewhat like the gentle giants we all are familiar with. The football player who while he it doing his job during the game does it with shocking savagery but after the game is gentle as can be, avoids confrontation at all costs but if challenged or cornered reacts at though he were back playing the game. Sort of like Lenny in Of Mice and Men or Frankenstein’s Monster capable of great violence but generally avoiding it unless necessary for his job. And if a mistake occurs and someone is unintentionally killed well it is regrettable. He feels sad perhaps also feels sad for the others who have lost someone, but it has happened and cannot be undone so he is prepared, maybe even with heavy heart, to get on with his life. Imagine his uncomprehending surprise, when he is faced with a mob of weak and puny creatures with pitchforks and torches out to murder him for something that could not be changed.

 

Next: Creation myth update #3: Maybe we are not in Mr Rogers’ neighborhood anymore Toto, part III: Meet the new Neighbors.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

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

 

1. Social Security recipients do not owe the US for its largess, the US owes Social Security recipients for taking our money.

 

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What is unclear to me is why do Republicans and conservatives want to take away the money that I put into my social security account for my retirement and use it to pay off Chinese bond holders? Our social security distributions are “earned benefits,” not entitlements.

For that matter, why did Republicans and conservatives take my money from out of the Social Security Trust Fund into which I placed it in trust for my future and use it in order to fund a war instead of taxing the working public at that time and now refuse to give it back to me?

Also why is it that I, who placed my money into the trust fund for my future, am accused by Republicans and conservatives to be a “taker” while those “workforce dependent” individuals refusing to pay their share of the general obligations of society are referred to as, “job creators?”

And, why do Republicans and conservatives seem so committed to not paying me back for what they borrowed from my retirement account without my consent but appear so eager to see everyone else paid back who voluntary lent money to the government? Could it have something to do with those “unelected legislators” otherwise known as corporate lobbyists?

 

2. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem.”
Ezra Klein, Washington Post.

 

defense-spending-hills

 

“Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”
     Brad Plummer, Washington Post

 

The only government that today appears truly out of control or more accurately a poor return on “taxpayer investment” seems to be military spending. Republicans actually want to increase that spending while cutting other (as yet unspecified) portions of the budget. Does anyone believe that their position has anything to do with national defense? Would anyone really feel less safe if we reduced defense spending to what it was before the Iran/Afghanistan conflicts began now that those wars are effectively over? Does everyone understand that cutting the defense budget by $100 billion a year, leaving it still with a budget 1/3 larger than before those wars, will effectively eliminate the budget deficit?

 

B. Live Blogging from World War II: Russell Braddon on the Burma Railroad.

 

“Once again time ceased to have any significance, for almost a year no man knew what day of the week nor what week of the month nor even what month of the year it was. It was just 1943 and the Railway. If one were to survive it was essential not to acknowledge the horror that lay all around, still more not to perceive the effect it had upon oneself. It was not wise ever to look in a mirror.

 

Life accordingly evolved into a blur of continuous work, people dying, guards bellowing, heavy loads to be carried, fever which came in tides of heat and cold on alternate days, dysentery and hunger. All those became the normal. Upon them, occasionally, an event super-imposed itself with sufficient violence to be remembered. There was little scope for planning one’s way of life. To preserve my health, I vowed to wash whenever it rained, lying under the dripping edge of the hut, and to clean my teeth every day, using the tooth-brush Piddington had given me and ground-up charcoal for powder.

 

Charcoal was also useful as a medicine against dysentery. To preserve some dignity, I vowed I would shave at least once a week if only I could remember the days. To preserve my self-respect, I vowed that whenever necessary I would make the latrines or bust; and to preserve at least some mental agility, I determined to learn off by heart one page a day of Mr Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

 

As the days succeeded one another for the rest of that black year, this particular vow became increasingly difficult, but I managed never to yield to the temptation of excusing myself from my task – and in return derived a perverse pleasure from the daily assimilation of so much vile prose.”

 

C. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter five: At the airport with no place to go – Part 4):

 

“No,” I shouted, hysteria overcoming any sense of decorum and common sense I had left. “You do not understand, I am not going anywhere today.” I then explained my story once again and handed the little slip of paper to him.

 

He looked at it, nodded, got up and went over to his office mate, a slightly older uniformed man with a little more braid. They talked, looked over at me, ten leafed through my passports and talked some more. Finally, the younger man turned to me, handed back my passports and said, “Immigration, second floor.”

 

“But, but,” I spluttered. “The man at downtown immigration said airport fourth floor. See he wrote it down here.” I offered him the slip of paper.

 

He did not take it, but repeated more firmly this time, “second floor immigration.”

 

Sensing defeat, I pleaded, “How do I find it? What if they send me back up here again?”

 

“I will take you,” he responded.

 

Somewhat relieved I followed him back through the offices, past the customs officers through security and then across the building to a bank of elevators. I got in the elevator. He reached in. Pressed the button for #2 and quickly walked away as the doors closed on me.

 

The elevator did not stop at the second floor.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

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What amazes me is that were I to show this quote to todays crop of conservatives or members of the modern Republican Party or those ditto-heads who email me things from Limbaugh and other right-wing noise makers they consider clever or insightful, they would shoot back that I was merely a lock-step liberal from San Francisco.

In fact, what these people do not recognize or understand is that most of those Americans they smugly and ignorantly accuse as being liberals are basically good old traditional Republicans and conservatives. It is they, those who like Limbaugh and his cronies scream the loudest about the state of American society, who are neither conservative nor Republican. What they are are radical anarchists and haters of America.

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 

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Bangkok – River Scene

 

 

 

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Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joseph 0002 (January 7, 2013)

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Preparing for departure on a trip is a dead time in one’s life.

Cordt arrived in town last night interrupting the tedium for a few hours. He invited me to have dinner with him and Scott. Scott, originally from the Bay Area, now lives in BKK and works as an executive for the Bangkok Post the main english language newspaper in Thailand. Scott was SWAC’s first husband, but now is happily married to another Thai woman and has two daughters.

LM and I joined them for dinner at a place called Bourbon Street, a restaurant that features Cajun food. I ordered blackened catfish that although it was quite good was neither blackened nor catfish.

Bourbon Street was originally in a section of BKK called “Washington Square.” During the Vietnam war that area had been favored by the CIA and Air-America operatives. Both Scott and I knew a number of these aging spooks and soldiers of fortune who still live around there. They are slowly dying off now and taking their stories with them.

Later we went up to the top floor lounge where we had a drink and talked a lot about music. Both Scott and Cordt are accomplished musicians who had played with professional bands now and then during their past lives.

After drinks, Scott and Cordt wanted to see one of the cabaret type sex shows at Nana Plaza, the red-light entertainment district near my apartment. LM and I joined them.

The show itself was a pale copy of what could be found in any stripper joint in the US. A few simulated sex acts followed by the meat-market of go-go dancers staring at themselves in the mirror as they slithered around the poles. There were no darts puncturing balloons on the walls, ping-pong balls shot into the upper galleries, razor blades, frogs and similar things appearing from where they should not be and no Marlboro smoking vaginas. The management seemed to have chosen performers who had not yet had breast implementation surgery so they all looked like long-haired pre-adolescent boys in bathing suits. Scott and Cordt called one of the women over to sit with us. She was very pleasant and mostly naked. I wondered if it was easier or more difficult to be pleasant when one was naked. LM and I left soon thereafter and returned to the apartment where I continued on with my departure preparations before retiring for the night.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Soap Opera madness.

A new scandal in Thailand has erupted over cancellation of a popular soap opera on Thai television. The soap was about a likable, incorruptible Prime Minister and his exceptionally corrupt deputy. No one knows for sure why the show was cancelled beyond vague whisperings from the station hosting the show that there were political considerations involved in the decision. Representatives of the minority political party have alleged that the deposed fugitive prime minister living in exile, Thaksin the Terrible, was behind the cancellation. Spokespersons for the deposed fugitive ex-prime minister living in exile responded that he does not own a television that gets the soap opera where he currently resides and that he would never watch it anyway.

2. Saving the Environment.

In other news several, several officials of the Thai governmental agency responsible for forestry, resources and the environment have been reassigned to other posts after their wives complained that they were keeping mistresses, sometimes as many as three or four. When agency representatives offered to fire the errant husbands, the wives objected. It seems they did not want to lose their livelihood but only to remove their spouses from their current temptations and one would assume, extra-marital expense obligations.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Creation myth update #3: Maybe we are not in Mr Rogers’ neighborhood anymore Toto.

Before returning to the story about the genetic history of humanity described in some of the recently published books on the subject I have read during the past few months, I thought a slight detour would be appropriate.

While most people who study the subject generally agree that a small group of anatomically modern humans, probably about 20 or so, left Africa sometime between 60,000 to 45,000 years ago and populated the rest of the planet, for many years it was assumed that except for an odd Neanderthal or two, the world outside of Africa was unpopulated allowing Homo Sapiens Sapiens to walk in and take control of the vast open spaces of the earth. After all, the only creatures that walk upright, use tools and talk on earth today are we Homo Sap Saps.

Alas, recent paleontological and genetic discoveries seem to indicate that the huge landmass called Eurasia was chock full of upright walking, tool using, trash talking hominids most of whom were bigger and stronger than the puny creatures that made up that forlorn little band containing the ancestors of most of us that had left Africa about 50,000 years ago.As far as can be determined by anthropological, paleontological and genetic discoveries so far, our band of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Very very smart people) faced not only Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Denisovians who we discussed last chapter, but also Homo Erectus (upright people), Homo floresiensis (sometimes referred to as the “Hobbits”), maybe a few Homo heidelbergensis (people from Heidelberg who auditioned for “The Student Prince” and have scars on their cheeks.) and possibly others we do not know about yetThat is a lot of people whose neighborhoods H Sap Sap was about to invade. Some of them like the Neanderthals and the Denisovans had larger cranial capacity (bigger heads) than HSS and may very well have been smarter. They all could speak, use fire and appear to have developed languages. Also they all used tools similar to those used by HSS and lived in small hunter-gatherer groups. Finally, except for the Hobbits which were pygmies living in Indonesia, they all were larger and a heck of a lot stronger than Sap Sap. Here is a comparison between a Neanderthal skeleton and a fully modern human one:

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Neanderthal skeleton on the left and modern human on the right.

Neanderthals had massive, broad shoulders, about 8% larger than their modern human contemporaries. Their pec muscles were enormous, up to twice the size of today’s average human. Neanderthals had shorter, wider muscular upper arms. The bones in their forearms were actually bowed from muscles that must have powered a grip that could crush stone. Neanderthal fingers and thumbs had upwards of twice the strength of modern humans. All of this upper body musculature was anchored on a solid foundation of massive quads that specialized in explosive power and side-to-side movement. Neanderthals were probably better at throwing than their modern contemporaries (It has been suggested that some Neanderthals escaped extinction and have been recruited by professional football and rugby teams around the world).

So, given that they were bigger, stronger, perhaps even brighter than our ancestors and possessed comparable technology, how did our ancestors manage to get rid of them all and take over the world?

Some theorized we dazzled them with our technology. The problem with that is we all began with about the same technology – rocks. At some point we made our rocks a little sharper edged than they did with their rocks, which some argue shows that we were really smarter than they were. On the other hand, our ancestors initially lived by combing the beaches where they probably used shells for scraping and cutting things. The edges of shells are pretty sharp. It is just as likely that we were used to sharper tools and formed the edges of appropriate rocks to mimic them. There is no need to postulate an act of genus when most people in fact try to hold on to favored technologies as long as they can. In any event, the neanderthals adopted the new technology pretty quickly anyway. And, certainly simply wielding a sharper edged stone tool was not going to make the difference in a fight with someone who was capable of bringing down a giant mastodon armed only with a rock and who could break your bones with his bare hands.

Some others say we were physically better able to handle the extreme climate changes of the time. Unfortunately for this theory, these various hominids had been dealing successfully with even greater climate shifts for hundreds of thousands of years before they ran into HSS.

Another theory is that we out-competed them for food. This makes no sense to me because if we killed all the game we would die also.

There must have been other reasons why the last few of the Neanderthals ended up reduced to sitting in a cave in Gibraltar chewing on uncooked seal meat waiting patiently to expire as a species.

The guests are gone from the pavilion high,
In the small garden flowers are whirling around.
Along the winding path the petals lie;
To greet the setting sun, they drift up from the ground.

Heartbroken, I cannot bear to sweep them away;
From my eyes, spring soon disappears.
I pine with passing, heart’s desire lost for aye;
Nothing is left but a robe stained with tears.
     Li Shang-Yin, ninth century BCE

Consider this, although the remains of the other early hominids often show broken bones and other injuries from their incredibly hard and difficult lives, it is rare that their remains are discovered with their head crushed in with a rock, or with a spear point up its rectum or tied up, beaten with clubs and thrown into a bog like is only too often found among human remains.

I think perhaps at least part of the answer, lies in understanding the difference between our nearest non-hominid cousins the chimpanzees (pan troglodytes) and the bonobos (pan paniscus). The bonobos are a pretty peace-loving, although by even human standards a stunningly over-sexed, species. The chimpanzees, on the other hand, seem to be the only species other than HSS who kill for the hell of it.

Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground –
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.
     Minamoto Yorimasa, 1104-1180

(Part 2 of Mister Rogers Neighborhood to be included in next post.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Joe Montana could have become my friend:

I, and I assume others when they reach my age, sometime think back over our lives and speculate about what may have been or what it is we really regret. With me there are many things such as the death of loved ones or pain I have caused others that bring me sadness or fill me with remorse. But, in almost all of them, although I wish they never happened, I do not see how avoiding or reversing them would have altered my life all that much. There was, however, one event I recall that I am convinced may have made a difference.

It was during the early Nineties. I was visiting Rome Italy and it was as hot as it gets in that town towards the end of Summer. The city was mostly deserted, the Romans had left town for their annual holiday at the seashore and most tourists remained in their air-conditioned hotel rooms awaiting the cooler temperatures of evening. I was standing in line with my then wife Denise to buy tickets to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman Forum. There was only one other group ahead of us braving the burning sun; a family made up of man and a women with four strikingly blond pre-adolescent children in tow. The woman was about six feet tall, also blond and movie star attractive. The man was even taller, sandy-haired and athletic looking. Suddenly I recognized him. It was Joe Montana, the legendary American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. I guess you can say I was gobsmacked to see him there in Rome standing so close to me.

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In addition to the victories and the statistical records that most sports aficionados use to judge excellence and without which all else is almost irrelevant, what I admired most about Montana was his preternatural grace and his gamblers instincts. I recall once watching him play in one of the Superbowls, he had just thrown a pass that the receiver eventually caught for a touchdown. Nevertheless, it was not the touchdown but the fluidity with which Joe leapt into the air and threw the ball that enthralled me. He was every bit as graceful as a ballet dancer; not tutus and en pointe ballet graceful but something more masculine and forceful.

I used to attend performance of the New York City Ballet when I lived in the Big Apple. The principle male dancer at that time was, Jacques d’Amboise. When standing at rest on the stage he looked a lot like a champion body builder after he had just put down his barbels. When, however, he moved it was as smooth, graceful and beautiful as drops or water slowly dancing in the sunlight. Balanchine, the choreographer for the Company then, believed that the male ballet dancer was little more than a mobile post upon which the ballerina was displayed, exalted in all her lithe sensuous feminine glory. Nevertheless, when d’Ambiose lifted his partner up and carried her across the stage everything else on that stage disappeared except the image of his power and grace. So it was for me with Montana on that pass. I felt as though I had achieved satori. Everything else on the field dissolved from view but Joe when, as though in slow motion, he pushed off with one leg, rose into the air and in perfect synchronicity arced his arm across his body as he released the ball.

His gamblers instincts were not those of a risk-taker but of someone who knew the probabilities and above all the psychology of the game. At one time during an interview, I recall him describing a drive, probably in one or another of the Superbowls. He said something like, “I was driving them crazy, dinking and dunking (throwing short passes for 3 or 4 yards) them here and there, until they began to lean forward and inch in eager to stop what we were doing, and then I threw it over their heads for a touchdown.”

“He possessed an almost mystical calmness in the midst of chaos, especially with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. While others saw turmoil and danger after the snap, Montana saw order and opportunity. He was Joe Cool, the unflappable king of the comeback.”
     Larry Schwartz, ESPN

So there he was, in Rome, that day, standing about a foot away from me. One part of me, delirious with excitement, wanting to say something, something like “Joe! Joe Montana, what are you doing here in Rome?” while another part terrorized me into silence at the realization of how stupid that sounded and how embarrassed I would feel after saying it – especially if he ignored me.

I thought about mentioning to Denise that Joe Montana stood in the line in front of us. Denise was a woman of legendary assertiveness with a tongue as sharp as the edge of a Samurai’s sword. Although she would not have known Joe Montana from Bozo the Clown, she was much more likely than me to strike up a conversation, lacking the shyness that comes with awe and idol worship that I was feeling. Alas, I could see that she was already annoyed at how long it was taking them to buy their tickets and well on her way to flinging some insult at them as only she could. So, I hesitated saying anything fearing that she would offend them and I would lose my opportunity to meet Joe and maybe become his friend.

They eventually got their tickets and passed through the gate into the Forum. We got ours and followed. Right behind the gate we came upon them again. The children were sprawled on various broken bits of Roman History complaining bitterly, as children often do, about the heat and whining about why they had to be here and not back in the hotel at the pool. I could see that Joe Cool was at the edge of losing the legendary calmness that allowed him to bring Notre Dame from 22 points back in the fourth quarter to win in the Cotton Bowl. He snapped back at them, probably a lot like any other parent in a similar situation would when being harassed by whining children “You can’t. You have to learn about culture. There is a lot of culture here.”

I knew that I could step in and help out. Over the years I virtually haunted the Forum. I knew more about it than any guide. I knew the history, the gossip, even what was traded in the market that was set up in the swamp between the hill the future rulers of the world lived on in somewhat upgraded caves and the larger hill on which the more respectable Sabines resided and from whom their wives and daughters were reputed to have been carried away by the Romans in the dead of night and upon the fecundity of those stolen wives and daughters built an empire. I had crawled into places few are allowed to go or for that matter ever went or even would want to go. I knew which toilets were the cleanest. I knew where to find shade and the location of the coolest water. I knew I could keep the children entertained and enthralled and that Joe and his wife would like that and we might become friends.

I imagined that since I had lived in Rome for a few years and knew interesting places to go and appealing places to eat that Joe and his wife would never otherwise know about or go to, we could go out some evening and have dinner together. I knew that Denise with her bottomless reservoir of humor and behavioral oddities would amuse them and we would become friends.

But I did not do anything. I just stood there. Then Denise irritably called out, “Hurry up, its hot.” and I went on. For a while, as we made our way through the rubble of an empire, I would see them prowling through other parts of the ruins. Then they were gone.

Since that day, now and then, I think about what could have been. Even as I write this now, I am convinced that if Joe Montana had become my my friend, my life might somehow have been better, happier even. Some of my other friends might even have become jealous. I would have liked that.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Reader’s comments:

I am always pleased to transmit something interesting written or said by one of my “This and that…” correspondents. The following briefly discusses a book about Winston Churchill. On the whole, I am not as big a fan of the bigoted, overweight, cigar smoking, alcoholic, trust fund baby as are many, but even I must agree that it is doubtful that anyone else in England at that time would have been so cocky and self-assured as to be able to lead the world through those very, very dark days. The interesting thing about the piece is its take on Hitler’s potential winning hand and Churchill’s role as the little boy with his finger in the hole in the dike:

“I’m reading the third volume of “The Last Lion” “Defender of the Realm” Paul Reid’s (filling in for William Manchester) biography of Churchill 1940-1965.

Now there was a man who had absolutely no reason to win, no logical way out; but win he did. He did it by surviving just long enough to allow his enemies to make stupid mistakes: invade Russia (Hitler) attack the US (Japan) and, of all things declare unprovoked war on the US (Hitler).

The biography makes clear that had Hitler turned south (not stopping in Greece but on to Suez and Persia) in 1941, rather than east (Russia), he would have dismembered the British Empire and cut off the Home Islands from the Dominions and India, leaving Britain a ruined hulk, to which America might have had great pity, but was in no mood to go to war for.

Had he done that he could have persuaded Japan to attack, not Pearl Harbor, but Singapore and Bombay, grabbing all the resources Japan needed and avoid war with the US. It was a flat-out winning hand which Hitler’s Admirals, and Army General Staff pleaded with him to do. Why, pray tell , didn’t he do it. Because he was really only a talented huckster, with no real strategic sense and a WW I enlisted man’s brain, able to comprehend only land war against those he, in his deranged mind, saw as inferior beasts not capable of beating the great Germanic race.

The human race really lucked out, (like in the Cuban Missile Crisis) one more time.

I’m struck by the sheer luck of the draw that Churchill was there to plug the dike long enough for fate to take its course. Kennedy was there to prevent Curtis Le May from launching Armageddon. There must be a God. But if the Pope is not his vicar on earth (which he clearly isn’t), Churchill and Kennedy certainly were. I really do wonder about “The Force” in large human affairs.”

The above was sent to me by Terry Goggin. In addition to serving in the California State Legislature, Terry also was an instructor at West Point in military history and the role of politics in military affairs and has written a book on the same. He is now a restaurateur in Manhattan.

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

1. Milton Friedman is a poo-poo head.

18209_361004763995038_650580507_n

Although the above is a blatant oversimplification, grossly misleading and proof that liberals can be as superficial as conservatives, I post it here only because it allows me to bring up a rant about Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman is the economist who popularized what is sometimes referred to as conservative economics. He was trained as an actuary which perhaps explains his inability to recognize human motivation and social aspiration as a factor in economic analyses, If Friedman were alive, I suspect that, as I have seen him do in similar situations, he would insist that the impulse behind the actions of both individuals in the above graphic was the same: self-interest and greed. Gates did what he did only because it made him feel good and therefore Friedman would argue was simply another form of greed. That he was unable to recognize the difference, in my opinion, even though he clearly made significant contributions to statistical analysis in economics, it still puts Friedman right up there among the greater malefactors in human history.

2. Republicans and European Austerians are dead wrong on the economy

In the International Monetary Fund working paper entitled “Growth Forecast Errors and Fiscal Multipliers,” Messrs. Blanchard and Leigh calculate IMF and European economists underestimated the euro-for-euro effect of cutting government budgets. While economists expected that cutting a euro from the budget would cost around 50 cents in lost growth, the actual impact was more like 1.50 per euro.

What I believe this means is that by cutting government budgets so that the rate of return expectations for financial institutions like banks are preserved reduces the amount of money in the economy available for the rest of us by a factor of three to one. In other words, the only reason to cut governmental budgets in this economic environment was to preserve confidence in the financial community that they would receive 100% of their expected profits when those debts become due. The cost of that assurance required the rest of us to earn less money now by a factor of three to one in favor of the banksters’. Or to put it a third way, in return for something that produced nothing other than a feeling of confidence among bond holders a lot of the rest of us had to lose our jobs.

C. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter five: At the airport with no place to go – Part 3):

So, I followed her, ever hopeful that this time it would all work out. She led me to Airport security. After I passed through the usual minor strip-search, I looked around for the woman. She was gone leaving me confused about what I was supposed to do next. I decided approaching the two uniformed passport officers I had seen her speaking with was the most reasonable thing to do.

I walked over to the counter they sat behind. Told them my story while waving around the increasingly wrinkled, sweat stained and forlorn piece of paper. I handed them my passports. They leafed through them knowingly. Spoke to each other. Then looked over at me and spoke to each other again. Finally one of them took possession of the passports turned towards me and told me that he would handle it. I was elated.

“Give me your boarding pass,” he demanded. I plunged into depression. With my voice rising with my hysteria I said, “No, no you do not understand” and I began to tell my story again and wave the little piece of paper around, at which point a younger man in a darker uniform with a bit more ribbons and braid arrived. Spoke to the passport officer. I repeated my story again and showed him the piece of paper.

“No problem,” he said. “Come with me

I followed him through the passport review post and into an office that contained two desks behind one sat a similarly uniformed officer and behind the other he sat down. He leafed through the passports. Just to be sure, I explained everything again and showed him the piece of paper one more time. “No Problem,” he smiled and turned to fiddle a bit with his computer. My happiness level began to rise one more time.

Finally he finished whatever he was doing, satisfied he turned to me and asked, “Now where is it you are traveling to today?”

(Unfortunately, to be continued.)

D. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

His Story – Her Story:

Ruth pointed out that in the 1970’s “Herstory” was a common term in Woman’s Studies programs and the like. I explained, “Alas, the Her Story boomlet of the 1970’s, like so much of the optimism of that happy and somewhat stoned time, was crushed in the reaction of the 1980’s that, as we know, swept even some of those closest to us into darkness once again.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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TODAY’S POEM:

“The pipes of our organs are broken
Our harps have lost their strings that were tuned
That might have made the great lamentations of Ireland
Until the strong men come back across the sea
There is no help for us but bitter crying,
Screams, and beating of hands, and calling out.”
     Lament written by an Irish Priest during the “Time of Troubles.”
TODAY’S CHART:

Fig.A.lrg

The issue of wether recent climate changes have shown a marked warming trend or whether human activities have have had a significant effect on them is well settled. It is true, however, that so called “natural” influences on climate have been going on ever since the earths atmosphere was formed. Since humans have been on earth they have had at times a moderating influence of these natural variations, making their effects a little better or a little worse, usually in a particular local setting. For example, if there were a “natural” dry period causing increased desertification in a particular locality and humans overgrazed on the margins of the desert thereby increasing it, it could be said the humans made the climate induced desertification worse.

In about 1950-60 this all began to change. Human influence on the climate at least in so far as its accelerating warming trend began to dominate the changes and any “natural” influences essentially only moderating effects. It is for this reason that those who, for one reason or another, oppose any conclusion that human induced climate change exists, are able to point to periodic “natural” events that halt or even for a brief time reverse the general trend of escalating global temperatures as evidence that the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion regarding climate change is wrong.

For example, I have seen it asserted in emails from several of the usual suspects and in various anti-climate-change blogs, that from 1940 to almost 1980 world temperatures actually declined therefore global warming is a myth. Similarly, I seen it argued that from about 1980 to 1997 the rate of increase was slowing down. Alas, many people accepted those assertions at face value having nothing to go on but the naïve belief that the person making the claim would not lie to them.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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I am not generally a fan of Feinstein. I have had too many dealings with her to be so. But on this issue, banning assault weapons, she has, for almost 20 years, not only been right but consistent and forceful.

 

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Joseph 0002 (January 4, 2013)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. Pookie’s new blog?

I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or some place like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they can not move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.

Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog “A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?”

Everyone I assume is familiar with history. History is “His Story,” the songs and stories men tell to themselves, about themselves and for themselves. His Story probably began about 50,000 years or so ago when the biggest dickhead in town turned to the skinny smart guy and said,”Sing a song about me or I will push your face into the bottom of the campfire.” And so it has been ever since.

Of course women have songs and stories too, but men never seem to have gotten around to remembering very many of them or writing them down.

Did you ever wonder why, in the few cases where the His Storians got around to retelling a woman’s story or song, say like Catherine the Great or Boadicea’s, they sound a little incredulous. Like, “No shit! She did that? Wow.”

It never ceases to amaze me that we men, who happily can sit around the campfire getting drunk and stoned, contemplating raping one or more of the women in the band while recalling with pleasure killing a shitload of humans or other animals earlier in the day, rarely if ever seem to realize that some of the women simply do not get it. That is why we men are all so surprised when every hundred years or so some woman gets pissed off when she recognizes what had been done to her and wrecks havoc in retribution.

2. Travel Plans:

I plan to leave Bangkok and return to the US on January 11th. I will remain mostly in El Dorado Hills taking care of Hayden. SWAC is planning to return to Thailand the same day that I depart. I expect to remain in the US until at least March 11, a few days after Hayden’s eighth birthday.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. That explains a lot.

The Bangkok Post reported recently a study that revealed almost 40% of Thai males between the ages of 40 and 70 are impotent a lot of the time.

2. Lead.

It has been reported by Mother Jones Magazine and in several scientific journals, that one of the major reasons for the dramatic drop in US crime rates since the early 1970’s has been the removal of lead from gasoline. It seems that even slight traces of lead cause significant damage to children’s brains.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Creation myth update #2: Something new lurks in the bushes:

A few days ago, while rooting around in the bowels of the internet, I was surprised to discover that it is true that science never sleeps. After the five or so books I had read on the subject written in the past three years had been published or were in galley or proof, too late for the authors self-congratulatory words to be changed, a few new discoveries regarding the genetic history of humanity emerged that if not throwing everything into a tizzy and least has left a lot of people bemused.

During the latter portion of 2010 the genetic code of a finger bone of a female living about 40,000 years ago was unravelled and lo and behold it was discovered that some of it also appears in the genetic structure of our merry band making its way along the coast of Asia on its way to Australia.

Several things make this discovery especially surprising. The first of which was that the lady in question was not human. Well, not human human or Homo Sapiens Sapiens (so named by scientist Carl Linnaeus in a fit of fervent racial superiority, and meaning the “really smart one” as opposed to other Homo sapiens whatevers who are just “pretty smart”) but a hitherto little known group named the Denisovans after the cave in which their remains were found. (We do not know what they will be officially called yet. Perhaps, Homo Sapiens Denisovans or “the pretty smart people who lived in the Denisova cave a long time ago and where we much smarter people found their bones and figured all this out.”) Among the remains in this cave were also found those of Neanderthals and Neanderthal-Denisovan hybrids. Eventually, after the others had left, humans found their way there and for the last 20,000 years or so have kept coming back.

Denisova

Denisova cave complete with tourists

This seemingly lusty group had other surprises in store. One of which is that this love cave is in the Altai Mountains in Southeastern Russia, a long way away from the beaches of Southeast Asia where Homo Sap Sap on his way to Australia was lazing his days on the sand eating oysters and drinking Mai-tais. It is a pretty long way to go for recreational sex, if you ask me.

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Someone’s rendering of what a Denisova woman may have looked like. Actually she bears some resemblance to a few of the ladies and ladyboys that currently float around Nana Plaza.

So after a lot of study and thought, it was determined that that part of Russia was about as far as the Denisovans would travel for trysting with the Neanderthals and that they in fact spent most of their time in and around, you guessed it – Thailand, where H sap sap dallied for a while and where the Denisovians contributed their genetic material to a long line of Australians and Melanesians (about 8% of their genetic code).

Around about the same time in 2010, it was also discovered that more or less somewhere in the modern state of Israel, Neanderthals interbred with members of our H Sap Sap ancestors too. (Now I will leave for another time a discussion of whether the insane Sand-god of the Peoples of the Book was actually a Neanderthal rapist. But, I suggest you consider Michelangelo’s depiction of the Creator on the Sistine Ceiling that appears to look a lot like HSN [Homo sapiens neanderthalensis] with his beetle brow, hirsutism and broad muscled upper body.)

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Someone’s idea of what a Neanderthal looked like. Clearly he had many of the physical qualities Michelangelo liked in his men. Equip him with long white hair and beard, dress him in a toga and he could look a lot like God. (Unfortunately he also looks a lot like the photographs of some of my Sicilian relatives.)

All of us, other than Africans and Melanesians, have 1 to 4% Neanderthal genes.

So it seems wherever they went on their beach-side vacation either Mrs. or Miss HSS slipped off into the bushes to spend some quality time with a local. And, after the birth of the somewhat strange-looking offspring, it was all hushed up until it disappeared into family legend only to be eventually revealed by a bunch of nosey scientists.

Now you may think I am being sexist in telling this story. But strangely enough I am not, at least not as much as one would think. According to Professor Dr, Svante Paabo who unraveled the mystery of this ancient interspecies mating:

” So the most reasonable thing is that this was, yes, modern human women with Neanderthal men that were presumably very attractive to them.”

Also, surprisingly, it seems that only HSS females were impregnated. HSS men, if they tried, do not appear to have succeeded.

My sister is coming to me
my heart dances
and I open my arms to her.
My heart is at home
like a fish in its holding tank
O night, be mine forever,
now that my queen has come!
Ancient Egyptian poem (Cairo vase, poem A, #5)

Why did it not work with the men? No one really knows. Perhaps it was merely chance. I believe, however, that the Neanderthals and Denisovans, who were much stronger than the relatively skinny HSS and had larger cranial capacity, simply were more physically or mentally able to resist their approach. Or perhaps, even had HSS males resorted to gang rape, to which I suspect they may have been more accustomed, its sperm may simply have been too puny.

So seize the day! hold holiday!
Be unwearied, unceasing, alive
you and your own true love;
Let not the heart be troubled during your
sojourn on Earth,
but seize the day as it passes!
Ancient Egyptian poem 1160 BC

In any event, it is believed that among the benefits of HSS breeding with Neanderthals and Denisovians is that the latter gave to HSS certain genes that made them immune to a number of diseases. As Dr. Jonica Newby another member of the scientific team that unravelled the gene sequences in these early hominids observed:

“What that means is that sex with Neanderthals and Denisovans helped our ancestors colonize the world. So it looks like our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers took one for the team.”

Note: these interspecies trysts among our ancestors were not a common experience. Apparently, over a period of about 10,000 years or so, they occurred only once or twice in the Near-east and a few more times than that in Southeast Asia.

(to be continued – Next: Maybe we are not in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood anymore Toto.)

DAILY FACTOID:

September 1854: U.S. Senator David R. Atchison (D-MO) and a good Christian in letter to U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis:

“[O]ur people are resolved to go in [to Kansas] and take their niggers with them…. [Within six months we will have] the Devil to play in Kansas… We are organizing. We will be compelled to shoot, burn, and hang, but the thing will soon be over: we intend to “Mormonize” the abolitionists…. In a public speech, I advised the squatters in Kansas and the people of Missouri to give a horse thief, robber, or [murderer] a fair trial, but to hang a Negro thief or abolitionist without judge or jury. This sentiment met with almost universal applause…”

1981: Lee Atwater, one-time chair of the Republican National Committee and member of the Reagan administration:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger’. By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ – that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing [and] states’ rights. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites … obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘nigger, nigger’.”

(It appears as though all that has changed in over the past 160 years in American politics is the name of the political party and nature of their rhetoric. [I am sure you noted that “abolitionist” were the “liberals” of their day.]
I believe these two quotes could just as well open about every discussion that attempts to describe current conservative political philosophy and the positions taken by the modern Republican Party. In other words, one needs to determine if what is being said is a principle or merely a rhetorical subterfuge for a century old racial fear that is no longer politically acceptable to be expressed in its rawest form. After all, Atwater’s approach to political persuasion can be viewed as clearly an advance over Atchison’s.

In these statements, Atchison and Atwater demonstrate the undiminished power fear and hate wield in the contest for political power in the United States. Atwater establishes the efficacy of rhetoric to shield this fear and hate from scrutiny. Rhetoric, like ideas and actions, has consequences.

Those who seek to possess or preserve wealth or power through the political process can rarely gain it in a democratic society unless they can ally themselves with the fears and hates of those in the majority whose economic and social position is more tenuous than theirs.

Although, we can take just about any issue of current political significance to demonstrate how Atwater’s insight works in practice, let’s take a look at gun control:

Does anyone still really believe the gun control debate is about the Constitution, freedom or liberty?

Forget for a moment the influence of a few large gun manufacturers who in one way or another fund the lobbying and public relations activities of the NRA, does anyone believe that gun control regulations will prevent hunters from hunting?

No one, not even the NRA believes that unlimited access to firearms will protect school children from crazy white guys with assault rifles. As unrealistic as it may be, even they propose, highly trained and most likely regulated armed guards as a means to safeguard children while they attend classes.

Would anyone really feel safer if everyone on an airplane carried a gun instead of the occasional trained Air Marshall?

Does anyone believe that our armed forces will suddenly go AWOL thereby allowing a squad of Muslim Al Qaeda terrorists to invade and take over the country? Or even a part of it, like say South Dakota?

Is it believable to conceive even the possibility that the nations domestic public safety apparatus will be commandeered by Barak Obama in order to impose his brand of Bolshevism on the country?

As for protecting ones homes and businesses, there has never been a credible proposal from gun control advocates that would prohibit trained and licensed individuals from access to guns with which to protect their homes and businesses.

So, if it is not about hunting, foreign invasion and domestic revolution or protecting one’s home and business, what is it that has those who oppose any form of gun control so frightened of that they no longer trust the police to assure public safety?

Criminals?

Violent crime, has been decreasing in the US and, outside of the South, localized in most part to a few large cities. The vast majority of crimes of violence are domestic squabbles exacerbated by access to guns [especially in the South where they seem to kill and maim their spouses and relatives with shockingly more regularity than people in the rest of the country].

How about, nigger, nigger, nigger or spic, spic spic?

Freedom, liberty, anti-terrorism, public safety and protection from criminals, are they abstract enough for you?

Note: Now before those reading this consider it simply to be another rant of mine against evil Republicans and in favor of saintly Democrats let me explain something. From the later part of the 1950’s through 2003, I have been involved to a greater of lesser degree in the affairs of both political parties on the local, State and Federal levels. At times, I was a political operative of some sort, first for Republicans and then later for Democrats. At other times I represented interest groups, governmental agencies and private clients in the political process.

From the Fifties to the latter part of the eighties, I had developed close personal and professional relationships with many Republican elected officials on both coasts and in Washington. They and many of their leaders, Eisenhower, Brooks, Rockefeller, Lindsey (before his change of parties) and before them my ethnic heroes, La Guardia and Marcantonio, whatever else their foibles and moral failings may have been, to a man shared with thoughtful Democrats of the time (as did Goldwater and Reagan) a belief that society and government must assure the health, safety and education of all the nations children, assist those citizens in need, provide a living wage for its workers, assure a sound economy, guarantee the right of working men to collectively negotiate with their employers, resist any one group of citizen’s attempt to exercise undue control over others and on many other similar issues. Where they differed was often regarding the extent and cost of achieving these goals and the best means of delivering them.

They believed along with the Democrats of the time, that those who received a greater portion of the benefits of the nation and society than others had a greater civic, not just moral but civic, duty to pay significantly more than those less fortunate in order to assist those in the country in dire need, or for those like public safety and military personnel, medical workers and teachers who have chosen to accept lesser remuneration in return for their public services and to fund the education of all the nations children as well as provide for the common defense and the public infrastructure so necessary for economic development and social mobility.

These Republicans that I knew then were repulsed by many of those in the Democratic Party, who cynically used the programs that they all had agreed upon, to benefit their often corrupt and racist supporters, subverting most of it from ever reaching those to whom it was intended. This situation remained until LBJ attempted to put an end to this hypocrisy. Unfortunately, his actions allowed Nixon, Atwater and people like them to cynically use the dissatisfaction among those who believed that they were losing an advantage that buffered them from poverty and despair, in order to secure political power for themselves and their supporters.

Were I to ask those pre-Atwater moderate Republicans, and I actually did ask some of them, whether or not the Second Amendment protected in addition to firearms used for hunting, sport and defense the right of individuals to carry concealed weapons manufactured for armed forces use to hunt down and kill people, they would have been shocked that anyone would consider that it did.

One in fact responded more or less:

“Consider what it would mean for public safety officials and the ability of the police to suppress violent crimes were criminals or those intent on crime free to carry, without license or registration, concealed military armaments designed to inflict the maximum damage on an enemy. And even more, think what it would do to civic order and public safety were those who distribute these weapons of mayhem into the stream of commerce free, even if they do so negligently, to do so without responsibility if they were later to be used in a crime.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter Four: At the airport with no place to go – Part 2):

I got to door M-28 with plenty of time to spare – except there was no door. The only M-28 I found was a counter at the end of a long row of counters for various airlines. The only doors nearby were two departure gates. So I nervously stood there waiting for my assignation. Twenty minutes after the hour came and went, then thirty minutes. When forty minutes came and went, I was really concerned, so I approached a woman sitting behind counter M-28 and told her my story and waved the little piece of paper. Instead of smiling blankly or ignoring me as most Thais would do this woman unleashed an exceedingly vicious attack on me saying that she did was not interested in nor cared about my troubles and that this was an airline counter and I should not be standing there. She pointed to the boarding gate and told me to go stand there if I must stand near some doors.

Taken aback, I was speechless and stepped a few feet away from the counter to try to figure out what to do next. I decided to go to one of the gates and try there. Maybe the rude counter Nazi was right.

So I went to the gate and found a woman in uniform, explained my story and waved the piece of paper as well as my passports. She smiled took my passports, leafed through them as though she knew what she was looking for and said, “I understand. Stay right here. I will be right back.” She took my passports passed through security and went-up to two uniformed passport officers behind their counters. They talked. They all looked my way. Then she turned and came back with a large smile on her face. Like someone suffering Stockholm Syndrome my heart leapt for joy at her smile.

“It is all taken care of,” she said. “Come with me.” (To be continued)

B. What Republicans think of their party:

Norman Ornstein (Republican consultant) and Thomas Mann (Liberal commentator) in their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” :

“. . . the Republican party, has become an insurgent outlier – ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

1. Herbert Hoover

“In its broad aspects, the proper feeding of children revolves around a public recognition of the interdependence of the human animal upon his cattle. The white race cannot survive without dairy products.”

There you have it. Since one of the effects of going over the fiscal cliff could have been a rise in milk prices, we have proof that Obama was out to destroy the white race. However, included in the fiscal cliff compromise, Congress agreed to legislation extending the farm bill thereby halting the potential rise in milk prices for one year. The white race has gotten a temporary reprieve.

2. An unknown Indian

“The Spanish, French and English kill each other if no one else is available.”

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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Actually they may both be liberals since they did not buy tickets but instead wanted a free look over the fence. On the other hand, they all could be Republicans since they believe they as job creators are exempt from paying for tickets like everyone else.

TODAY’S CHART:

nyt-blow-clip

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Note: those interested in back issues of This and that…. they can be found at: josephpetrillo.wordpress.com

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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