January through March 2014

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Joey 0003 (March 24, 2014)

“When you die, the first thing you lose is your life. The next thing is your illusions.”

Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld). Harper Collins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The rains of the past few weeks have prompted the foothills to blush green. Every day I do pretty much the same few things at about the same time. As a result I have begun to lose track of time. I, for example, no longer know how long it has been between calls to people with whom I have previously been in regular contact. Everything seems the same day after day except for the clouds. I like the clouds here at the edge of the foothills. They are gloriously variegated from cottony white to pearlescent, sometimes grey and searing black as well as red, pink, orange and even yellow (see Today’s Photograph below).

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The “Mothers” rugby team played two games today. The first was against the team that beat them 95 to 5. This time they only lost 30 to 15. The second game however was a different story. They played the team made up of South Sea Islander kids, half of whom were girls. After less than three minutes the Mothers were down 30 to 0 so the coach halted the slaughter and requested the Islanders play with only the smallest and youngest (8 and under) members of the team. They fielded 6 members and the Mothers “loaned” them six of their worst scrubs to make up the difference. While the Mothers scrubs wandered around the playing field in semi oblivion, the remaining six Islanders continued to run up the score by another 30 points in 10 minutes before the game was called to save our team from further embarrassment. HRM was however voted by the refs as the Best Tackler of the Game, primarily for a thunderous last second tackle on an opponent running free toward the goal-line to the cheers, ohs and applause of the bloody minded parents watching the game.

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I am sick again and have been forced to lie in bed for about a week oozing bodily fluids while I wait for antibiotics and other various medicines to kill off those little buggers who have found my body an ideal place in which to vacation.

When once or twice a day I stumble out on the deck for a bit of sun and fresh air I notice that not only was this a year without winter here at the edge of the foothills but one without spring as well. We seem to have sprung directly into Summer. The grasses and trees starved for water have, in response to the feeble rains a week or so ago, panicky thrust their seeds and pollen into the air in order to propagate themselves before they brown and die as the drought regains control. Alas, the resulting hay fever and allergies have added to whatever miseries the vacationing bacteria and viruses have brought me.

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The rugby season has ended with the expected thundering defeats for the Mothers at the regional tournament. Swimming season now begins. I sit at the edge of the pool, along with a group of proud mothers encouraging our charges to ever greater efforts while we fiddle with our smart phones.

 

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

I am what is referred to by some as a vivid dreamer. That is, my dreams are in color, I know that I am dreaming and I can alter them as they go along. I also can wake myself up if things get too stressful. Moreover, I generally remember a lot of them in their entirety. Sometimes, those dreams become as real in my memory as any other experience. Periodically I used to analyze which of my memories were real and which were dreams in order to purge those not real. I no longer do that. I now believe, if it is there it is as real as any memory.

I prefer sleep to being awake because on the whole my dreams are far more interesting and exciting than my waking life is. I guess that goes for most of us.

Perhaps a little over a score of years ago I dreamt I was flying in a plane. We passed from the ocean over the land somewhere in Africa where we landed. I then took a small jitney bus that drove directly from the airport into the desert. The desert was not the sandy dune desert of Lawrence of Arabia, but barren, dusty and rocky like parts of West Texas. After a day or two we arrived at a small city of mud-walled buildings. In the center of the city was a large dirt plaza filled with men with guns, shooting them into the air and shouting at people in cars or busses and stopping them as they tried to make their way through the plaza. The men seemed to be grouped into gangs with no one group in charge. They appeared mediterranean in complexion with large bushy mustaches. They wore dark pants and vests over their shirts. I assumed they were Muslims since most of them wore ragged turbans on their heads.

They would not allow our bus to continue, so I disembarked and walked into the city to search for some distant relatives whom I knew lived in the town. The relatives strangely were Armenian shopkeepers. I found their shop. I never learned what they sold there. The relatives lived above the shop. After I explained who I was, they welcomed me in. The father, a man of about 60, was relatively short statured, clean-shaven with a round face topped by a mostly bald head with a few long black hairs combed over. He had two grown sons, they were much taller than he, broad-shouldered and moustached. Strapped to their backs were guns of some sort. Their sister was a slender dark girl of about 14, I guess. She wore a light-colored dress imprinted with small pink flowers. The mother was thin like the daughter with more grey hair than the father. I told them I had been stopped by the gunmen in the plaza and I wanted to continue on to the jungle beyond the desert. He said that it would be difficult under the current chaotic circumstances to secure permission to travel beyond the City. He said he would have to think about it and promised to do his best. In the meantime, they prepared a dinner in my honor attended by the father’s brother and his family. After the dinner the brothers spoke with each other in a corner of the room out of my hearing. Eventually the father came over to me and told me that the leader of one of the strongest militia was a friend of his and he thought he could arrange passage for me.

Early the next morning after saying good-bye and thanking everyone I, accompanied the older son, returned to the plaza and after enduring several threats and insults from the militia leader, was put into an old Range Rover and allowed to continue on my way.

We drove on across that stoney dusty desert well into the early afternoon when the landscape began to change, first into scrub lands and then into a grassy savannah. Small copse of trees dotted the terrain here and there. Near to sunset we topped a small ridge and saw a little valley beyond. The savannah continued across the valley along with the dirt track we had been following until along the smaller ridge on the opposite side the green expanse of the forest began abruptly. Where the road disappeared into the trees, I could see a small village of conical mud-walled houses nestled in the shade of the trees stretched out along the road.

At sundown we arrived at the village. I got out of the vehicle at the edge of the village. About 10 or so adults and innumerable children assembled around the vehicle as I disembarked. One man approached. He seemed to be in his late twenties or early thirties. I guess he was Somali or other Cushite speaker, thin, light brown complexion and a straight narrow nose. He greeted me and asked what had brought me to the village. I answered that I had heard about what they had accomplished in creating their vast environmental and ethnological preserve and I wanted to see it for myself. This was the first time in the dream that I had become aware of what I was doing here.

He contemplated me for a moment then said, “Mama discourages casual visitors to the reserve.” At first I thought MAMA was an acronym for the NGO operating the place. I was soon disabused of that assumption when he glanced to a large woman standing off to the side surrounded by passel of young children.

She was a large woman, large indeed, about an inch or two taller than me and at least 50 pounds heavier. Her skin was a deep chocolate color and a thick dark tangled ring of hair floated around her head like Medusa’s snakes. She wore a deep blue tent like dress that fell from her shoulders almost all the way to the ground. Thick red stripes containing faint yellow pinstripes broke up the wall of blue.

“Perhaps I can persuade her to let me stay,” I said. “I don’t think so,” he responded quickly. “But it is too late in the day to send you back, so you can stay the night as our guest and if she is not too busy perhaps you can try to persuade her tomorrow.”

With that he led me into the town past several of the huts to one a little back from the road. “This is my house,” he said. “You can stay here for the evening. There is a cot in the back. You can leave your backpack there. I will show you where to wash up and you can join my family and others for dinner.”

The hut was nicely sized containing a single room. It seemed to be used only for sleeping. I found a small cot at the back and with both relief and trepidation dropped my backpack on it and rejoined my host.

He showed me to a surprisingly comfortable bathhouse with both hot and cold tubs and showers. It seemed to be available to both sexes.

After my bath he led me to a clearing a little way from the village. Here there were benches and a few sturdy wooden tables. Several modern grill type cookers and other tables containing copious amounts of food surrounded a large campfire around which on a variety of strange tripod like contraptions other pots and viands hung over the flames.

I met my host’s wife and their two small children. She was young and quite attractive. I am sorry to say, I no longer remember their names even though they became some of the closest friends I had even known. That’s the way it is with dreams.

The clearing filled up with what appeared to be at least a hundred adults and even more children running about. The others seemed to be a mixture of ethnicities and races, predominately African but I could see some Europeans and Asians also among the crowd.

Although I remember the food was delicious and the feeling that I enjoyed myself immensely I recall little more about the evening other than that whenever I glanced across the campfire through the flames I saw Mama on the other side staring at me with what appeared to me to be hard cold angry eyes.

After the dinner I returned to the hut, laid down on the cot and fell immediately asleep.
(to be continued)

 

C. MOPEY’S BOOK REPORTS:

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”
Logan Pearsall Smith
1. The Ripper

At Ruth’s suggestion, I read Isabel Allende’s new novel. Unlike her previous novels, this time she tries the mystery genre. Her husband William C. Gordon, an attorney in SF, writes mystery novels set in The City during the sixties. Allende’s novel, The Ripper, is also set in the City but takes place currently, more or less. Nevertheless, much of the novel revolves around a shard of the sixties that lasted to the present day – the occupants and clients of a holistic medicine clinic in North Beach several of whom I could comfortably associate with some of the denizens of the counter-culture I met during those fabled if somewhat blurred times.

Pookie says check it out.

“…no one gets rich working,”
Allende, Isabel. Ripper (p. 152). Harper Collins.

2. Steam

Sir Terry Pratchett the beloved author of the innumerable “Discworld” novels was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year or so ago. “Discworld,” for those who do not know, is a flat world on a disc resting on the backs of four huge elephants standing on the shell of an enormous tortoise slowly making its way across the galaxy. The denizens of “Discworld” are delightfully human (even the humans), and humanly delightful. “Steam” is his most recent book. Although it is not as madly surprising and bizarrely inventive as his previous works, it still overflows with Sir Terry’s special brand of humor and insight.

To Sir Terry, captains of industry, commerce and banking are inevitably criminals, hucksters and scoundrels but they seem to do as good a job as anyone would do under the circumstances. Of course it helps, if the government is run by a highly trained assassin instead of a mass murderer. Sir Terry believes that is the best of all political arrangements. He thinks magic is a good thing because it is very funny when its spells go wrong, which they inevitably do. He also believes that goblins, golems, vampires, trolls, werewolves, and various other species of sentient being, more or less, are quite amusingly human and often even more so than humans themselves once you get to know them, even McFeegles.

Pookie says check it out.

“It is now known to science that there are many more dimensions than the classical four. Scientists say that these don’t normally impinge on the world because the extra dimensions are very small and curve in on themselves, and that since reality is fractal most of it is tucked inside itself. This means either that the universe is more full of wonders than we can hope to understand or, more probably, that scientists make things up as they go along.”
Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld) (p. 313). Harper Collins.

Note: I also read Pyramids published several years ago in which Sir Terry reveals that the greatest mathematicians in the universe are camels who, alas have found no one within that same universe they deem worthy enough to share that knowledge with.

Pookie says check that out also. In fact read all or Pratchett’s books. There are so many of them you could read them for the rest of your life and still be happy.

 

 
DAILY FACTOID:

Sometime about the middle of the century or during the latter half of it, those of us still alive will experience a day not experienced by humankind since the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries when Genghis Kahn slaughtered about 10% of humanity living at that time and the following Plague carried by fleas riding along on those sturdy Mongolian ponies offed another 10%.

On that day in the near future according to several demographic studies there will be fewer humans living on the planet then the day before. This will occur not because some new Genghis or Plague will ravage us (although that remains a real possibility), but because of the education and liberation of women, increasing living standards and urbanization will have resulted in not enough babies born to offset the death rate among oldies.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

1. The Great Gatsby Curve
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For those who consider those nordic countries as small and homogenous and thereby not applicable to the situation in the USA, note that their combined population is slightly less than that of Canada and their percentage of foreign-born residents is greater than that of the USA and most other industrialized nations (Although it does beg the question of whether anything in Canada is applicable to the US). On the other hand, in terms of sheer numbers the US leads the world in foreign-born residents as it has more or less from its beginning.

2. Study by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:

A new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

“By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources ”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over ‘the last five thousand years.’”
B. A bit more Twain*:

“When I look around me, I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. To mention only a few: The Atheist, The Theosophists, The Infidel, The Swedenborgians, The Agnostic, The Shakers, The Baptist, The Millerites, The Methodist, The Mormons, The Christian Scientist, The Laurence Oliphant Harrisites, The Catholic, and the 115 Christian sects ( the Presbyterian excepted), The Grand Lama’s people, The Monarchists, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Republicans (but not the Mugwumps!), The Buddhist, The Blavatsky-Buddhist, The Mind-Curists, The Faith-Curists, The Nationalist, The Mental Scientists, The Confucian, The Spiritualist, The Allopaths, The 2000 East Indian sects, The Homeopaths, The Electropaths, The Peculiar People, The–

“But there’s no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational. This should move us to be charitable towards one another’s lunacies.”
Mark Twain, Christian Science

* we need more twains and fewer singularities.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.”
~ J. Garcia

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Always assume everyone is an idiot. This saves time.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Sunset over El Dorado Hills

 

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Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Cold Tits 0003 (February 28 2013)

“Life is an application and not an operating system.”

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

When I was about seven years old we were quite poor. It was a few days before Christmas. My father was out of work and had disappeared, ostensibly to find a job. We did not have enough money for Christmas dinner nor for presents for my brother and I. The door bell rang. When my mom answered it, a young woman stood there smiling. She announced that they, the members of the Parish church, decided that we were the most destitute family in the Parish. She then happily presented us with a large turkey, baskets of food and presents for my brother and I.

I have always hated that woman. I could never forget the crushing humiliation I felt by that small bit of charity. Often I see her smiling face in my nightmares.

(“Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.” – John Dickinson (“1776”))
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Here in El Dorado Hills it is barely mid-February and the trees are already beginning to blossom. The crocuses have flowered and the recent rains have brought a green blush to the dun stained hills
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I now spend about six hours or so a day reading. It’s become an addiction, not too much different from alcoholism or gambling.

I have just finished a recent book about my favorite fictional repressed homoerotic couple, Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell in “Light of the World” by James Lee Burke. I wish they would just get it on with each other. It may lessen their dependency on mayhem, slaughter and alcohol.

This book finds our heroes in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana enjoying a vacation on the ranch owned by their friend, a well-known author and environmental radical. They are joined by Clete’s illegitimate daughter who was sexually abused as a child and used to be a hit-man (woman) called “Caruso” operating out of Miami on behalf of the Cuban and Italian mobs . She finally killed her abuser. Now she is a documentary film maker. Dave’s brought along his wife, an ex-Maryknoll nun who escaped the death squad slaughters of nuns in Nicaragua and married Dave (Come to think of it, the death squads don’t seem any worse than marriage to Robicheaux would be.) Also accompanying them is Dave’s adopted daughter Alafier, an orphan from El Salvador Dave rescued from the wreckage of a plane floating in the Gulf of Mexico and who after attending Reed College and Stanford Law School became an author just like Burke’s daughter of the same name did in real life.

In the early 70’s my son Jason and I used to spend a couple of weeks a year in the Bitterroot Valley with some friends there. They lived in a small A-frame that stood alone in the middle of the valley somewhere between Lolo and Hamilton or perhaps south of Hamilton, I do not remember which. No other structures could be seen only the valley’s flat grassy bottom with the mountains rising on each side. One winter the snow-covered the valley floor and we saw a herd of elk pawing the snow in front yard searching for the grass beneath. We watched them for hours as though we were looking at television or staring into an i-phone. Another time during the spring, we visited a ranch that raised and trained rodeo ponies and rode them all afternoon in the hills on the east side of the valley among the spring wild-flowers. Once while hiking in the Bitterroot mountains I got separated from my friend. He had Jason with him and I had his two children of about the same age with me. I am deathly afraid of bears. My friend had told me that these mountains were filled with Grizzlies. I got lost and began to cry. The children led me by the hand back to the car.

Anyway, our heroes Dave, Clete and their gang run amok among the mountains and valleys of western Montana in pursuit of a serial killer and also an evil petroleum billionaire leaving many many dead and maimed bodies in their wake. As in most of the other books in which he appears, Clete gets laid and the woman inevitably leaves him.

After reading the sixteen quadrillion books Burke has written in this series, I have become more fond of Clete. Dave could drop into a hole in the ground for all I care. Clete at least knows he is a screwed up violent alcoholic, Dave is a 12 stepper with all the cereal box morality and self-importance that implies. (I liked him better when he was still a drunk.) He also hallucinates, something I think is a hangover from his past hangovers. I suspect even the author has finally recognized Dave’s deficiencies. He has one of the villeins of the book, the son of the evil billionaire, say just before his head is blown off by a bullet from a rifle held by his illegitimate half-brother, a crazed ex-con who also has visions:

“We’ve researched every aspect of your life, Mr. Robicheaux. We have your psychiatric records, your pitiful statements about your dependency on your whore of a mother, your sexual history in Manila and Yokohama, the possibility of a homoerotic relationship with your fat friend, your constant whining about all the injustices visited on the miserable piece of swamp you grew up in. The fact that you take others to task for their mistakes has established new standards in hypocrisy.”
Burke, James Lee. Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 539). Simon & Schuster.

Pookie says check it out.
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HRM and his team Mother Lode Rugby (Go you Mothers) played two games in Gridley a remote town in the middle of ranch and orchard country in the northern Central Valley. They lost both games to different teams by the identical score of 60 to 5. I guess it shows some improvement.
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Last week or so I joined a local health club. So, now I have physical therapy two days a week and exercise at the health club about four days a week. That leaves one day a week when I refuse to get out of bed.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

I have been told recently from some of my correspondents in Thailand that the nature of the dispute causing the current demonstrations and turmoil in that country has changed from simple politics to concern about royal succession. The politics have always been centered on the conflict between the culture of corruption among the ruling economic and political élite and the alleged corruption concentrated in the hands of the family of Thaksin the Terrible the exiled ex-Prime Minister who had secured political power it has been said in return for programs that help the poor of the Country. It is now maintained by many that the conflict has shifted to the possibility that with the current King’s potential imminent demise the Throne will pass to his son. The son, it has been whispered about, is considered a creature of the same Thaksin the Terrible. Not only has it been alleged that the Prince received huge payments of cash from the ex-Prime Minister’s family in return for his support but that he himself is a monster who plotted to assassinate other members of the royal family competing with him for the crown. The leaders of the protest movement now insist that the demonstrations are not about political power but about preserving the Monarchy. Why having a king (or Queen in this case) more amenable to their interests is considered preservation of the Monarchy remains unaddressed.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
original-2
original-1
These charts, if accurate, show why the cycle of poverty in the US is so hard to break. My daughter Jessica suggested that perhaps we should simply declare that, with few exceptions, once one reaches 21 year of age he or she are on their own, but until then society should guarantee children their education, health care, food, adequate housing and the like.

B. A Little Bit of Twain:

“There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”
Mark Twain

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We’re born arsonists and we die firemen.”
Camilleri, Andrea; Sartarelli, Stephen. Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries) (p. 238). Penguin Group US.

“I can be very rude, and when I was younger and scary-looking, people were very rude to me. But there’s much less of that now. When you become famous, people are much nicer to you.”
Mina, Denise. The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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See charts in Pepe’s Potpourri above. By the way, Finland operates more or less what my daughter suggests.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Mopey 0003 (February 12, 2014)

 

Happy Birthday Amanda.

 

“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 describing what his novel “Les Meserables” is all about.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I guess for California this can be called “The Year Without Winter.” Here it is in early part of February in the Northern Central Valley and it is too warm for me to sit out in the afternoon on the deck behind the house. While they freeze and trudge through the snow on the East Coast, I am looking for a place to go swimming. It has also been the longest number of days without rain for the area since the latter part of the 19th Century. Sometimes I go to the park that overlooks the great Folsom Reservoir. It looks more like a desert surrounding a mud flat than a lake.
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When I go to bed at night, I usually surround myself along with my stuffed animals Oscar the seal, Gorilla No-name and Douglas the Monkey along with my computer, books and magazines so that when I wake up in the middle of the night I can read myself back to sleep.
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I sometimes begin T&T with the words “Dum Spiro, Spero” which means where there is life there is hope. If this is true then it seems to me the Descartes who opined “Cogito ergo sum,” (I think therefore I am), must be wrong. Thinking, science tells us, is mostly post hoc rationalization. Perhaps it should be “Dum Spero, Spiro,” where there is hope there’s life.

On the other hand, “Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.” (Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human) may be just as appropriate.
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I go to physical therapy two times a week for my leg. I have grown to enjoy it, the physical therapy not the pain in my leg. It is a bit like a senior citizens health club. It pleases me also because almost everyone, except for the therapists who are both younger and very much slimmer, are even fatter than I am. Say what you want about we Americans but one thing is true, we definitely are an obese lot.
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On day while driving I listened to the Sacramento classical music station; you know music by mostly white boy bands from the Beetles to Clash. It really was not my teenage music, that was more from Frankie Lyman to well, the day the music died. I guess Classic Rock was more my stoner years. Anyway, I was listening to Joplin sing “Bobby McGee.” After the song the announcer mentioned that Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin were lovers until she died. I did not know that or if I did I had forgotten. That raised my estimation of both of them greatly.

Some critics criticized Joplin’s style and voice. I never understood that. Singing to me is the art of individual voices and probably almost infinite in variety. Like most notable singers, Joplin appeared to have a unique voice that distinguished her from other singers. Some time ago I assembled on tape over 50 performances of women’s voices from Joan Sutherland to Carmen Miranda. I loved that collection and would play it constantly. Denise called it my “Tragic Hearts Tape” because of the common theme of unrequited or lost love, but some definitely were not sad. Callas’ “Cara Nome” and even Joplin’s Bobby McGee were more upbeat than sad. Anyway D borrowed the tape and lost it.

For me the music finally really died in about 1992.
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On Sunday’s I usually attend HRM’s rugby games. Two weeks ago he ran the wrong way and scored for the other team. Last Sunday while the Broncos were being shellacked in the Super Bowl, his team Motherlode Rugby (Go you mothers!) lost 95 to 5.
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Last week HMR and I attended Congressman John Garamendi’s Birthday Party/Fund Raiser/Crab Fest in Vacaville as guests of Norbert and Stevie.
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HRM at his good friend Congressman John Garamendi’s birthday crab fest. The Congressman is making a speech in the background.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
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The above photograph was sent to me from Thailand by Nikki. It shows Sukhumvit Road one of BKK’s major arteries shut down by the long running anti-government protests. Unlike in other countries where streets shut down by protesters are often crowded with gangs of young men on the verge of riot, in Thailand the vacated streets are instantly filled by sidewalk vendors.

 

 
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

T&T from February 10, 2011 three years ago today:

I have begun to settle in to my new surroundings. More or less my day goes as follows: 8:30 walk Hayden to school; 9:00 to gym to swim, exercise and take a sauna; at noon lunch in an inexpensive restaurant close to my apartment; 1 PM nap; 2-3 read or work on computer; 3 PM pick up Hayden from school and help him with his home work; 4 PM read or computer time while Hayden plays with the children downstairs; 7 PM dinner; 8:30 prepare for bed.

On weekends I go to my apartment in Paradise by the Sea and on Wednesday and Thursday I include my massage in my daily activities.

The maid has moved into the spare bedroom. I assume that now that the maid is in place to supervise Hayden, SWAC will find some pretext to encourage me to leave and return full-time to Paradise by the Sea. The apartment has maid’s quarters located off the kitchen with its own separate entry into the hall. The room is windowless and feels more like a dungeon. There is a small toilet, actually more a hole in the floor of a closet. The maid will not be relegated to these quarters but will have one of the three bedrooms for her own.

The results of my medical tests have revealed that although the CT scan of my abdomen shows my kidneys looking like road kill, my kidney functions are normal. I need to have an operation to clear up the remainder of my plumbing in the near future in order to avoid possibly living the rest of my life in dialysis. I will probably have the procedure done in the US as early as April.

The street on which we live in BKK begins (or ends if you prefer) at a gate to a huge parcel of land in the center of the city. The gate announces that beyond is “The Tobacco Monopoly if Thailand”. I have no idea what it is about. The property is filled with a great number of ramshackle low-rise wooden buildings and a few run down parks. From this gate Soi 4 travels generally north past my apartment building and a few other mid to lower class condominium building and hotels. Family restaurants and push carts line the street along this section of the road until it passes Hayden’s school where in begins to become progressively more populated with massage parlors, bars and budget hotels until it disgorges into the traffic nightmare known as Sukhumvit. Across Sukhumvit, Soi 4 becomes Soi Nana and passes through Arab(and Indian) town before going on to wherever.

On Soi 4 just before it meets Sukhumvit sits Nana Plaza, the first neighborhood one arrives at when one passes the gates into Hell. There, surrounding a small crowded plaza, rises three and four-story connected buildings where one can whatever perversions and titillation one desires from ordinary Go-Go bars, to ladyboy lounges to short time units.

Like in the US where urban private schools tend to locate in transition zones (the rent is cheaper), so it is with Hayden’s school. This morning as I walked Hayden up to the gate of the school across the street along an extended cement platform in front of some shops, a beefy fortyish bald farang, naked to the waist, reeled obviously stoned. He had scars on his head and body but was surprisingly bereft of tattoos. Accompanying him was a naked lady-boy clearly showing the major points of her conflicting sexes (known as “pre-op”) and another professional woman. It appeared that they had spent the night there and as the lady-boy put on what seemed to be the man’s shirt to cover the most conflicting parts of her, the man himself staggered across the street and tried to enter on the school grounds.

Now like most private schools and important buildings in BKK, in the morning and evening, stationed by the gate are four or so regular BKK police  to direct traffic. The School also has its own set of uniformed security. One spiffy dressed cop (all BKK cops dress spiffy) held up one hand palm vertical to the ground in the universal sign of stop and with the other made a no-nonsense gesture that the farang should return to the other-side of the street.

Now it is important to understand that at no time did the Thai cop in any way indicate he would touch the farang nor did he evidence any demonstration of anger. That would cause him to appear less than human and lose face. Imagine what people from this culture must see when they view western entertainment that shows uncontrolled fury and violence as a manly virtue. John Wayne must appear to them to be like a circus clown (come to think of it…. American football with its glorification of anger and violence probably appears to be played by water buffalo rather than humans.)

Anyway, the bald farang took the hint, returned to the other-side of the street and after a short period of slack-jawed milling about the trio ambled off in the general direction of the gates of hell.

After it was all over, I asked Hayden what he thought.

He said, “The girl was naked and the policeman had a gun”.

Just in case you may think that Hayden is too young to know the meaning of the word naked, I few nights ago while we were preparing for bed, he took off all of his clothing and put a paper bag on his head like a hat, pranced in to the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and announced, “Look at me. I’m the Naked Chef.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

A. Samuel Beckett Used to Drive André the Giant to School. All They Talked About Was Cricket

B. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the floor of most homes was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a “thresh-hold.”

By the way, this common use of dirt and thresh flooring is also the reason why we in the West, unlike in the East, customarily remain wearing shoes when entering a house.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

I don’t know what this is about:

Alliteration mumbles
Metaphor lies, and
Metonymy sounds like something you buy on the Mercantile Exchange.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“However, as we know from John A. Hobson, one of England’s best economists, imperialism is the direct and necessary outgrowth of such accumulation. Capitalists could no longer finance sufficient profit on domestic consumption alone, requiring large and bountiful export markets. Furthermore, domestic industry would no longer require capital at a rate commensurate with high profits, which would need to be invested somewhere.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
CorrectionalHealthcare_Fig_4
In about 1980 or so, when the prison population growth really took off, privatization of our prisons began and the War on Drugs commenced. What that demonstrates is that the private market really is more efficient than government and the War, if one considers incarceration a casualty, has caused more American casualties than all of our wars combined and was even less effective than the war in Iraq.

 

Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Joseph 0003 (January 16, 2014)

 

Dum Spiro, Spero
“as long as you’re breathing, there’s hope.”

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

1. Before Christmas

A Great Blue Heron has taken up a sometime residence for the season at the Duck Pond a few blocks from my house. When I pass by during my walks, it makes me happy to see it standing there at the edge of the pond all majestic, silent and deadly.
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I always thought the depression that comes on me at this time of the year was brought on by memories of the horrors of the winter holiday season, the death of my child, the anguish of observing the failed hope of my parents mired in poverty as they sank deeper in debt to satisfy their children’s greed fueled expectations. I now believe it is much simpler than that. It is simply the darkening of the skies and the chilling of the air that brings on feelings of desolation like a cloying mist. I guess that is why a light in the gloom, a campfire, a candle or the tinkling lights of holiday display cheers most of us up; the festival of the lights, sympathetic magic to encourage the return of sunlight and warmth. I think it is also appropriate to feel this way as we age, cold becomes more unbearable and the dimming of the light more frightening. The Drunken Poet’s urging to, “…not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” seems to me easier done at the end of Summer than in the depths of Winter. Who needs to go through another February.
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Went to SF for a day. Had dinner at Pino’s Brindisi restaurant on Beldon Alley. The food was even better than I remembered. While walking through the City I realized how much I missed city life. A few days later I returned to the same restaurant with my daughter Jessica to have our annual holiday season dinner. It was the same evening of the last professional football game at Candlestick Park before it is demolished and the 49rs move to Santa Clara. I had gotten up at seven AM that morning to drive SWAC to the airport for her return to Thailand. I waited there a couple of hours to pick up Nikki arriving from Frankfurt to drive him the Emeryville Train station so he could travel to Sacramento to spend the holidays with Triple H. The time spent waiting at the airport and enjoying dinner with Jessica totaled about 5 hours at best. I arrived at my sister’s place in Berkeley to spend the night somewhat after 10pm which means I spent approximately 10 hours driving in the car to travel a distance of about 45 miles.
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A day or two before my epic drive I attended my sister’s Christmas open house at her home. Most of the guests were dressed appropriately for Berkeley in various shades of casual grey. I met a man there named Lloyd who the day before arrived in the Bay Area after walking here from St Louis. I asked my sister what Lloyd did for a living. She said as far as she know he walked.

Earlier in the day I spent a few hours with Peter Grenell sitting in the sun in front of Bernie’s Cafe drinking coffee and reminiscing. Our conversation produced such bon mots as, “Artists, the shock troops of gentrification,” describing those lower level employees of organizations (mostly women) who actually do the work as those who are “unclouded by visions of self-importance,” and finally describing our (Peter’s and mine) current state of being as “benign senility.”
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2. January 13, 2014 (23 Joseph 0003)

I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and was too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.

The duck pond is divided into two separate ponds, an upper pond which at this time of year is covered in a russet colored scum of what I guess is dead algae (see photograph above) and a lower pond than is mostly clear with a few clumps of green algae floating about. Between them a trickle of water flows over the dam on the upper pond under a small wooden bridge into the lower pond. As I stood on the bridge I noticed what looked like excavation dirt piled under the bridge for some reason. I went down under the bridge to investigate and stood on a rock to examine the pile and discovered it was made up of the dead russet algae through which water trickled into the lower pond.
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Christmas Eve I spent at my sisters for a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with our closest 25 or so relatives and friends. My mother was there in her wheel chair. I drove her back to the nursing home before driving myself back to El Dorado Hills.
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Christmas morning I woke up with severe pains in my foot. We opened presents. Dick prepared a lobster dinner for Nikki Hayden and I. We invited Stevie and Norbert to join us. By the evening I could barely walk and my foot began to swell. Nevertheless, the next day I drove with HHH to Mendocino, stopping for a few hours at Discovery Park on the way.
IMG_20131229_122225_598
The walrus and the Haystack

The pain increased and walking got even more difficult. George helpfully supplied me with generous doses of Motrin. I had a great time there despite my difficulties. We, of course, had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery with Sally.
IMG_20131231_150355_296

We celebrated the New Year appropriately with funny hats and noise makers.
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Lloyd, Hayden, Maryann, George

When I returned to El Dorado Hills my leg had swollen a lot so I went to the doctor and after several days of testing learned that a clot had formed again in my calf and I now am back on blood thinners and spend most of my time lying down with my leg elevated and reveling in my misery.

 

 

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

As I have written here in T&T and in many of my blog posts, I believe that the world desperately needs to turn the reigns of economic and political leadership from men to women. While in times past it may have been sensible and properly celebrated in song and story for groups of under-employed young men to raid the lands of milk and honey, kill all the able-bodied men and enslave their women and children claiming that either their god or their inherent superiority justified it, modern technology makes this ideology inherently dangerous to the survival of humanity. The risk taking gene so useful in the past seems perilous now.

Even in that last vestige of unvarnished aggression and greed, the modern derivatives market, recent studies show that women outperform men.

From January through November 20013, a study by Rothstein Kass hedge funds run by women returned almost 10 percent on the funds invested while those run by men barely topped 6 percent.

According to Meredith Jones, a director at Rothstein Kass:

“There have been studies that show that testosterone can make men less sensitive to risk-reward signals, and that comes through in this study.”

The numbers are even more eye-popping for the six years from January 2007 through June 2013. Hedge funds run by women returned 6 percent compared with a 1.1 percent loss at the HFRX Global Fund Index. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 4.2 percent during the same time.

All which shows that not only do women hedge fund managers out perform men significantly but also beat the index which some male economists maintain is impossible over time.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: During all of 2013 there were scientific 9,137 peer-reviewed articles published regarding anthropogenic climate change (human caused global warming). Of those 9,137 articles only one denied it exists. That lone scientist lives in Russia. Almost 50% of Americans and Congressional Republicans as well as Fox News passionately believes that one Russian scientist is correct. All the rest of the scientists they are convinced are part of a massive conspiracy by the solar power industry and the Muslim Brotherhood to weaken America.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019affe580a3970d

What one may conclude from this chart is that the current financial system is not set up to provide funding for innovation, economic development and capital improvements but to provide fees for those engaged in what we lawyers call churning.

B. A bit of Twain:

“I was a mugwump. We, the Mugwumps, a little company made up of the unenslaved of both parties, the very best men to be found in the two great parties–that was our idea of it–voted sixty thousand strong for Mr. Cleveland in New York and elected him. Our principles were high, and very definite. We were not a party; we had no candidates; we had no axes to grind. Our vote laid upon the man we cast it for no obligation of any kind. By our rule we could not ask for office; we could not accept office. When voting, it was our duty to vote for the best man, regardless of his party name. We had no other creed. Vote for the best man–that was creed enough.”
Mark Twain’s Autobiography (North American Review, Dec. 21, 1906)

C. Something everyone should read:

I recently ran across a letter to a parishioner written by a Baptist Minister of all people entitled “A Letter to Louise”(http://godmademegay.blogspot.com/p/letter-to-louise.html) that I recommend everyone should read. While its focus is a rebuttal to those individuals and religious leaders who condemn homosexuality as contrary to biblical lore, it is really an examination of the essence of morality.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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