January through March 2016

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 8 Joey 0005 (March 29, 20160

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Trenz Pruca as a Young Mole Rat.

 

“Beware of women who do not sing and men who do not weep.”

Trenz Pruca

Happy St. Joseph’s Day to me! Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Happy Easter.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The sun has finally broken through the black and gray sky. Mushroom flocked lawns glisten green while formerly dry gullies shelter white-water torrents. I swam for two hours today in the cold air beneath cerulean skies dotted with drifting cotton-candy clouds. It was glorious.

Now that the recent rains have filled our reservoirs to overflowing, we are immediately barraged by calls to lift water saving rules notwithstanding the drought having demonstrated that water is a limited resource. This confirms once again that we humans seem incapable of resisting the urge to devour all available resources until they disappear and so do we. Living within our means does not appear to be part of our genetic code.

The dark cloud has packed her bags and flown across the Pacific allowing sunlight back into the house.

Today a woman showed up at the health club pool. She wore a metallic mini-bikini held together with silver dollar sized metal rings. I wondered how could she swim with all that metal. Thankfully she did not go into the water. Instead, she strutted around and sun bathed briefly. Some of the men puffed themselves up and also swaggered about. I felt as though I was watching a Quail mating ceremony. Since it seems about all I can puff up these days is my belly and my jowls, I did not join the party.

The health club cafe has a new owner, Cheyenne Rauda, a recent UC Davis graduate. She explained to me how she was going to change the place. It seems she intends to convert it into a more gourmet affair. Why would a second rate health club need gourmet food? I guess, like most alters, I’m beginning to find change unsettling. I asked her if she would agree to continue serving my favorite Tuscan Turkey sandwich. She agreed. I felt better.

A few more days of rain and then the sun returned from holiday somewhere. HRM began his spring vacation. We await Nikki’s arrival. He plans to take HRM to Lake Tahoe for a few days. I may go along if I can be back before Easter Sunday. I plan to drive into the City to spend the day with my mother and sister and whichever other relatives choose to join us.

HRM, Nikki and I went off to Lake Tahoe for four days of skiing. The first morning, on our way to Heavenly, at HRM’s insistence we stopped at an IHOP for breakfast. As we sat down, I heard from the booth behind us someone shout, “Papa Joe.” It was my grandson, Anthony. He was in Tahoe to give skiing lessons to a client. The next day he took HRM along with him on the slopes and managed to train him up from the bunny slopes to black diamond.
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After returning to EDH, I left for SF on Easter Sunday. My first stop in the City was for coffee with Peter followed by an Easter Egg hunt in his back yard.
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Then it was off to visit my 99-year-old mom followed by stops at the homes of several grandchildren and a return to EDH.

B. Book Report:

On March 17, while roaming through the Amazon website, I came across a book by Frank Delaney entitled “Ireland: A Novel” about Irish stories and storytelling.

My memories Ireland have always been magical ever since that day many years ago when I was sitting in a pub somewhere in Kerry drinking a half and half. Beside me, a man slept slumped over the bar. He suddenly woke up and turned to me — hair wild, sticking out here and there like shards of glass, face red and lumpy, watery grey-blue eyes and missing a few teeth behind a stubbled jaw.

“De ye know how d’Irish lost da battle o d’Boyne?” he said to me in a brogue so thick I could barely understand him. He then launched into an hour-long tale of King Billy with his shining armor and King Jimmy who ran away — about the last minute fording of the river by the English cavalry preventing the out manned and out gunned Irish from achieving a stunning victory and changing history. I was enthralled.

Weeks later, standing on the hill at Newgrange overlooking that same Boyne winding through the green far below, I could, in my mind, see the wounded King Billy riding off after being shot by the Irish gunners, rallying his troops to victory and the silver river turning red with blood.

I turned from that scene and entered Newgrange, the massive 6000-year-old structure older than the Pyramids, older than Stonehenge (no one claimed it was built by aliens either). Bending low, I followed the long dark tunnel (people could freely enter then) to the large room in the center where no light penetrated.

On the longest night of the year, the winter Solstice, whoever it was that may have worshiped there so long ago gathered and awaited the dawn. Upon the sun’s first breasting of the horizon, a shaft of light would flash through a passage above the tunnel and illuminate the chamber in a brilliant magical glow. How wonderful, I thought, it must have been for those from a society bereft of movies, social media, books and the like to gather here once a year and experience such splendor.

Anyway, that and my fondness for storytelling prompted me to order the book and begin reading it on my Kindle. As strange as it may seem, it was not until later that I realized that it was also Saint Patricks Day.

I found the novel delightful. It contains a series of tales told by an itinerant storyteller. The stories about Ireland include The Architect of Newgrange, King Connor’s Comeuppance, Saint Patrick Drives the Snakes along with the Devil from Ireland, Brendan Discovers America, and Finn McCool’s Wedding.

“THE GREAT IRISH WARRIOR, FINN MACCOOL, had the longest arms and the fastest legs and the fairest hair and the bluest eyes and the broadest shoulders and the soundest digestion of any man ever living. He was a god, a leader, a warrior, a hunter, and a thinker. And he was a poet.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 152). HarperCollins.

(Hmm, by “soundest digestion” did the storyteller mean the ability to eat everything from rusty nails to spoiled meat or was he focused on the other end of the digestive tract, stools, neither watery nor hard as rocks?)

All these tales were linked in the novel by the account of a young man’s obsession with stories and storytelling and his long search for the itinerant storyteller who he had met in 1951 when he was still a child. Although the storyteller relates most of the tales, the young man does also, including an appealing story about Brian Boru.

There is a wonderful lecture by the fictitious but delightful history professor T. Bartlett Ryle, who loved Spenser’s poetry but hated his harsh treatment of his beloved Irish. The lecture given at his first class with his new students may be one of the most amusing expositions of what the story of history is and is not. It begins:

“THE MOST DISGRACEFULLY NEGLECTED PERIOD of Irish history stretches from the year seven-ninety-five to the year eleven-seventy. Those dates are in what many people call the Dark Ages. I am not one of those people. And I sincerely doubt that any of your teachers has clearly defined the centuries of the Dark Ages, so let us strap them down here and now. Most of the stuff that’s spoken about that era is good enough to grow roses in.”

“I dislike the term Dark Ages. Day by day, ancient texts, and archaeology’s finds are brightening those centuries, and it may well prove to be the case that one day the Ages won’t deserve to be called Dark anymore. The word you should be searching for is medieval. In my lectures you’ll hear only the terms early medieval, high medieval, and late medieval. Let me see nothing else in your essays. You may write about the sexing of chickens—there’s deep sympathy around here for that sort of thing. You may write about the effect of drought upon a toper. You may write about the fate of maiden ladies who work in bishops’ houses. But you may not write about the Dark Ages.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 229). HarperCollins.

He goes on:

“So: old Irish, Vikings, and Normans—three people on one island; my purpose here is to pick a way for you through that mixture and give you a teaching our history since the Normans that’ll render you fit to go forth, marry decently, raise a family, live to a ripe old age, evacuate your bowels no more than once daily, cultivate your garden, or if you prefer, spend your life in low dives, gambling on two flies climbing up a wall while drinking cheap liquor imported from Rumania. I hope you’re still with me—in spirit if not in spite.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 232). HarperCollins.

Santayana’s statement that “Those who do not remember history are forced to repeat it” is partially true. We humans, singly or collectively, seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. We also suffer from our common tendency to concentrate on the minutia we understand and avoid where we can the difficult complexities. For example, the introduction of the steel plow, the internal combustion engine or the transistor may have changed everything but we still went about our lives and politics obsessed with the same things we have always been obsessed with, among which is how to control and ultimately consume all the resources necessary for us live and our species to survive.

“When politicians and those who observe them consider matters, they frequently fall into the trap of assuming—hopefully, or desperately, depending which side they’re on—that a status quo may last forever. They forget what changes things—events. That’s what all politics are changed by—events.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 234). HarperCollins.

The young man, Ronan by name, goes on to become a storyteller himself wandering the byways, homes and pubs of the country where, in return for shelter food and some Guinness and Irish whisky, he told stories of old Ireland, of its heroes and its villains, its suffering and triumphs even about Kings Billy and Jimmy at the famous Battle of the Boyne.

“We merge our myths with our facts according to our feelings, we tell ourselves our own story. And no matter what we are told, we choose what we believe. All “truths” are only our truths because we bring to the “facts” our feelings, our experiences, our wishes. Thus, storytelling—from wherever it comes—forms a layer in the foundation of the world; and glinting in it we see the trace elements of every tribe on earth.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

It is a fundamental aspect of Economic Democracy, that there be ready availability of critical fundamental information about a nation’s economy and its distribution. It is simple, wealth, like military might, and for that matter religious ideology should not be permitted to manipulate the public well-being for its own purposes because its purposes are inconsistent with that of democracy. The founders of this nation recognized the danger to a free society posed by militarism and religious sectarianism and attempted to address it in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other fundamental documents of this country that make up our social contract. Those protections are now under intense attack and must be resisted.

Also, it is time to further that work by establishing additional rights to protect the individual from what Teddy Roosevelt called the “Malefactors of Great Wealth”. Just as it allows the free exercise of religion and the implied ability to protect ourselves from militarily imposed tyranny from within and without, our fundamental declaration of rights must include the protection of the individual and the social contract from those individuals and institutions of great wealth and political power whose interests are not consistent with the liberty of the individual citizen. Abolishing our ability to take collective action through government as proposed by the Libertarians is as antithetical to Liberty as would be surrendering our right to a common defense against those who would otherwise impose their will on us.

With in mind, one of the statistics often relied upon by the media, government, and often economists to show the size of a nation’s economy,the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of similar measures, troubles me. It is often used to compare national economies as well as to demonstrate an economy’s growth over a period of time. Among the many reason for its inadequacy, one seems to me especially appropriate. GDP is a gross number that includes the cumulative effects of population growth. Since in most advanced economies population growth has stagnated or is even declining, it would be better, I believe, for purposes of comparison and growth to show the GDP per person in an economy along with its relative distribution.

In this way, policymakers can concentrate on, or be forced by the public informed by these figures, to concentrate on distribution and individual economic growth.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another.

(If the above is true, then it is normal human behavior to consider oneself a fraudulent dip-shit. Similarly, we can now safely assume that those who appear supremely confident are likely suffering from a significant personality disorder.)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Meaning of Words:
Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah even with numbers.

B. Today’s Poem:

I Held A Shelley Manuscript by Gregory Corso

My hands did numb to beauty
as they reached into Death and tightened!

O sovereign was my touch
upon the tan-inks’ fragile page!

Quickly, my eyes moved quickly,
sought for smell for dust for lace
for dry hair!

I would have taken the page
breathing in the crime!
For no evidence have I wrung from dreams–
yet what triumph is there in private credence?

Often, in some steep ancestral book,
when I find myself entangled with leopard-apples
and torched-skin mushrooms,
my cypressean skein outreaches the recorded age
and I, as though tipping a pitcher of milk,
pour secrecy upon the dying page.

(Did you know that Shelley (Percy B.) used to stand by the side of the road and toss copies of his poems through the open windows of the carriages as they drove by? Corso (Nunzio G.), on the other hand, liked mushrooms.)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In the past, the United States has sometimes, kind of sardonically, been described as a one-party state: the business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That’s no longer true. It’s still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is moderate Republicans, who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic [sic] Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.”
Norm Chomsky

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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The beginning of the successful rebellion by the Irish against England, Easter Monday morning April the Twenty-Fourth, 1916

 

Interestingly, both the IRA and the Provos were terrorist organizations that killed many innocent people (even, I believe, in the US) and engaged in a long protracted war against a trusted ally for 80 years or more. I do not recall any calls for a war against Christians or for a halt to immigration from Europe because those immigrants might include terrorists.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Cold Tits 0005 (March 14, 2016)

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“Your mind, never active at anytime, is now even less than ever so. All I heard was a kind of rattle, unintelligible even to me who knew what was intended. I can’t go on, I’ll go on: You invent nothing, you think you are inventing, you think you are escaping, and all you do is stammer out your lesson. To every man his little cross. Till he dies. And is forgotten.”
Samuel Beckett

 

Happy Birthday Hayden

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S BRIEF ADVENTURE IN SAN FRANCISCO:

Every time I return to San Francisco, I am surprised at the changes to the City that have occurred since the last time I have been there — more high-rises, more coffee shops, more parks being re-landscaped, more people who do not dress like San Franciscans used to dress.

Anyway, I spent two nights with my son Jason and his family watching a sci-fi thriller and holding a small birthday party for my granddaughter Amanda (she is 11).
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A couple of afternoons with Peter Grenell sipping coffee at Bernie’s in Noe Valley talking old men’s talk and telling oft-repeated stories. One evening I traveled to Pacifica to hear his band “Blind Lemon Pledge” play at Cheers, an interesting night spot in that coastal community.

Then, a lunch with the ever vivacious and interesting Kathleen Foote at a nice little restaurant on Market Street named “Alta” where she regaled me with stories of her recent trips to India and Cuba. All in all, it was a pleasant four days. Then it was off to the Golden hills — home again, home again jiggity jig.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Back to breakfast at Bella Bru, swimming through the pain, long naps, short walks, bitter memories, and dreams of what could have been. As Marcel Proust observed, ”Experiences are less real when you have them than when you either remember them or imagine them.” Ain’t that the truth?

Meanwhile, the Wicked Witch of the East pads up and down the hallways like a crazed cockroach searching for its ball of shit.

Today, I wait for the rain. It is supposed to last for six days. The skies are already a deepening gray. I think happy thoughts about its beneficial effects on the current drought in order to prepare myself for the horror of spending most of the week cooped up in a house with a deranged wraith. It could be worse, I guess. I could be just a metaphor.

Thinking of metaphors brings me back again to Samuel Beckett. There was a time when I voraciously devoured all his works. It was a time I was more depressed than usual. I could never tell whether Sam was cynical, depressed or suffering from some as yet unnamed personality disorder. My favorite novel of his was “Krapp’s Last Tape.” It fascinated me how someone, who in his plays rarely had his characters speak more than one word of dialogue whenever it was their time to declaim, could expend so many words on the subtle miseries of dying.

“It’s so nice to know where you’re going, in the early stages. It almost rids you of the wish to go there. There is man in his entirety, blaming his shoe when his foot is guilty. Don’t wait to be hunted to hide. What a joy to know where one is, and where one will stay, without being there. You wiser but not sadder, and I sadder but not wiser. I don’t understand how it can be endured.”
S. Beckett

Two days of low gray skies and little rain. Perhaps today is the day the skies open up and wash the Golden Hills down into the Great Green Valley.

I disagree with writers like Proust. If it can’t be boiled down to one sentence (or two if you are especially loquacious) then it’s probably not worth writing about. It is certainly not worth reading about.

The difference between Donald Trump and Adolph Hitler is that Hitler, at least, believed the shit he was saying.

It is hard to believe that one political party considers the primary qualification for President of the United States is the size of the candidate’s dick. Perhaps it has always been that way.

I constantly see comments in Facebook and social media from men claiming they don’t hate all women, just Hillary, and all you women will simply have to wait until one we white men approve of comes along.
On Sunday, thanks to Stevie and Norbert, I escaped to Lone Buffalo Winery in Ophir for their Buffalo Chili feast. Stevie also gave me the DVDs of the entire Montalbano television series. I can see hours in front of the TV in my future.

Monday was HRM’s birthday. He baked his own birthday cake.
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Alas, Puff the Bearded Dragon’s short life has ended. The vet said he was sold to us with a birth defect. Both H and I cried — he for Puff and I for him.

I have surprisingly actually completed writing a book. It is essentially a collection of some of the posts from my blogs. Now that I placed them into a word processor that prepares them for publication, I cannot get them out again to do so. Nor, can I figure out how to format it so that it produces one rather than two columns in the final draft. I guess, I have to content myself with the satisfaction of having completed something. I suppose this is a good thing since it avoids the embarrassment of having others read it.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

The Problem with Electric and Self-driving Automobiles:

I support the movement toward electric vehicles and self-driving automobiles. They are a necessary component of any comprehensive assault on the looming crisis of human-induced climate change. There is, however, an emerging problem that should be examined and solutions proposed and implemented— the sooner the better.

The automotive system in the United States, as it is in most countries, can be described as predominately individually owned vehicles operated on collectively owned and maintained public rights of way. In the US, this system of right of ways is funded, not from the government’s General Fund, but chiefly by a type of user tax based upon levies on gasoline and other petroleum products used to power the vehicles.

Since about the turn of the Century, miles driven per person have fallen consistently year after year. Increased mileage rates per gallon of gasoline have risen putting additional stress on the various Highway Trust Funds. Major replacement of aging bridges and tunnels must now use the government’s general funds if they are to be repaired at all.

What will happen to the nation’s roads and highways during the 2020s when electric cars and trucks are expected to make up significant portions of the vehicles using the nation’s roadways? They are now given a free ride. That cannot continue. Solutions should not wait for the crisis to occur that may leave the highway fund in a hole that it may never be able to fill.

Although there appear to be several credible ways to resolve this emerging problem, we are talking about changing a nation’s entire system for funding its most significant transportation network upon which its economy is based. It will take time to work out the politics, procedures, and technologies of any system we settle on.

We should be doing this now before not after the crisis hits us.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

According to a Gallup poll,18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Almost all of those that do, vote Republican and watch Fox News.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the seventh in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY. It discusses the relationship between security and power.

Security and Power

Introduction

“Just as our ideas on the nature of security are falsified by our limited experience as Americans, so our ideas are falsified by the fact that we have experienced security in the form of public authority and the modern state. We do not easily see that the state, especially in its modern sovereign form, is a rather recent innovation in the experience of Western civilization, not over a few centuries old. But men have experienced security and insecurity throughout all human history. In all that long period, security has been associated with power relationships and is today associated with the state only because this is the dominant form which power relationships happen to take in recent times. But even today, power relationships exist quite outside of the sphere of the state, and, as we go farther into the past, such non-state (and ultimately, non-public) power relationships become more dominant in human life.”

“For thousands of years, every person has been a nexus of emotional relationships, and, at the same time, he has been a nexus of economic relationships. In fact, these may be the same relationships which we look at from different points of view and regard them in the one case as emotional and in another case as economic. These same relationships, or other ones, form about each person a nexus of power relationships.”

“In the remote past, when all relationships through which a person expressed his life’s energies and obtained satisfaction of his human needs were much simpler than today, they were all private, personal, and fairly specific relationships. Now that some of these relationships, from the power point of view, have been rearranged and have become, to a great extent, public, impersonal, and abstract, we must not allow these changes to mislead us about their true nature or about the all-pervasive character of power in human affairs, especially in its ability to satisfy each person’s need for security.”

“The two problems which we face in this section are: what is the nature of power? And, what is the relationship between power and security? Other questions, such as how power operates or how power structures change in human societies, will require our attention later.”

The nature of power

“Power is simply the ability to obtain the acquiescence of another person’s will. Sometimes this is worded to read that power is the ability to obtain obedience, but this is a much higher level of power relationship. Such relationships may operate on many levels, but we could divide these into three. On the highest level is the ability to obtain full cooperation. On a somewhat lower level is obedience to specific orders, while, still lower, is simple acquiescence, which is hardly more than tacit permission to act without interference. All of these are power relationships which differ simply in the degree and kind of power needed to obtain them.”

The triple basis of power in our culture

“The power to which we refer here is itself complex and can be analyzed, in our society, into three aspects: (1) force; (2) wealth; and (3) persuasion. The first of these is the most fundamental (and becoming more so) in our society, and will be discussed at length later. The second is quite obvious since it involves no more than the purchase or bribery of another’s acquiescence, but the third is usually misunderstood in our day.

“The economic factor enters into the power nexus when a person’s will yields to some kind of economic consideration, even if this is merely one of reciprocity. When primitive tribes tacitly hunt in restricted areas which do not overlap, there is a power relationship on the lowest level of economic reciprocity. Such a relationship may exist even among animals. Two bears who approach a laden blueberry bush will eat berries from opposite sides of the bush without interfering with each other, in tacit understanding that, if either tried to dispossess the other, the effort would give rise to a turmoil of conflicting force which would make enjoyment of the berries by either impossible. This is a power relationship based on economic reciprocity and will break down into conflict unless there is tacit mutual understanding as to where the dividing lines between their respective areas of operation lie. This significant subjective factor will be discussed later.”

“The ideological factor in power relationships, which I have called persuasion, operates through a process which is frequently misunderstood. It does not consist of an effort to get someone else to adopt our point of view or to believe something they had not previously believed, but rather consists of showing them that their existing beliefs require that they should do what we want. This is a point which has been consistently missed by the propaganda agencies of the United States government and is why such agencies have been so woefully unsuccessful despite expenditures of billions of dollars. Of course, it requires arguing from the opponent’s point of view, something Americans can rarely get themselves to do because they will rarely bother to discover what the opponent’s point of view is. The active use of such persuasion is called propaganda and, as practiced, is often futile because of a failure to see that the task has nothing to do directly with changing their ideas, but is concerned with getting them to recognize the compatibility between their ideas and our actions. Propaganda also has another function, which will be mentioned later and which helps to explain how the confusion just mentioned arose.”

“On its highest level, the ideological element in power becomes a question of morale. This is of the greatest importance in any power situation. It means that the actor himself is convinced of the correctness and inevitability of his actions to the degree that his conviction serves both to help him to act more successfully and to persuade the opposition that his (the actor’s) actions are in accordance with the way things should be. Strangely enough, this factor of morale, which we might like to reserve for men because of its spiritual or subjective quality, also operates among animals. A small bird will often be observed in summer successfully driving a crow or even a hawk away from its nest, and a dog who would not ordinarily fight at all will attack, often successfully, a much larger beast who intrudes onto his front steps or yard. This element of subjective conviction which we call morale is the most significant aspect of the ideological element in power relationships and shows the intimate relationship between the various elements of power from the way in which it strengthens both force and persuasion.”

“It also shows something else which contemporary thinkers are very reluctant to accept. That is the operation of natural law. For the fact that animals recognize the prescriptive rights to property, as shown in the fact that a much stronger beast will yield to a much weaker one on the latter’s home area, or that a hawk will allow a flycatcher to chase it from the area of the flycatcher’s nest, shows a recognition of property rights which implies a system of law among beasts. In fact, the singing of a bird (which is not for the edification of man or to attract a mate, but is a proclamation of a residence area to other birds of the same habits) is another example of the recognition of rights and thus of law among non-human life.”

“Of course, in any power situation, the most obvious element to people of our culture is force. This refers to the simple fact of physical compulsion, but it is made more complicated by the two facts that man has, throughout history, modified and increased his physical ability to compel, both by the use of tools (weapons) and by organization of numerous men to increase their physical impact. It is also confused, for many people, by the fact that such physical compulsion is usually aimed at a subjective target: the will of another person. This last point, like the role of morale already mentioned, shows again the basic unity of power and of power relationships, in spite of the fact that writers like myself may, for convenience of exposition, divide it into elements, like this division into force, wealth, and persuasion.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

It seems to me that in the United States, the difference between conservatives and liberals comes down to the following:

Conservatives believe that Liberals are capable of preternatural genius in fomenting secret criminal conspiracies to assault what Conservatives are convinced is the fundamental rightness of their view of the world.

Liberals simply believe Conservatives are stupid.

 

C. Today’s Poems:

 

1. Bump by Spike Milligan

Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
Should not really give one a fright.
It’s the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!
2. THE BIG STORM, not by Spike Milligan

They say,
it is coming,
THE BIG STORM.
They say,
it will knock down bridges,
with its howling wind,
flood valleys,
scrape the earth from the hills
and end the drought.
They say,
it will do all of that and more.

I stare
through the window
at the grey-black sky
and wonder
if I will be disappointed.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“More and more often one was obliged to initiate an investigation by trying to sort out what the police had been up to. Not infrequently this proved harder than clearing up the actual case.”
Sjowall, Maj; Wahloo, Per. The Locked Room: A Martin Beck Police Mystery. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Cold Tits 0005 (February 24, 2016)

 

“Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo” (“I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”)
Epicurean epitaph

Happy Birthday, Giannantonio.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S CONTINUING ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

The Pygmy Forest.

One day I decided to hike through Mendocino’s Pygmy Forest Reserve. Saving the Pygmy Forest was what got me into coastal resource preservation many years ago. A chance meeting with John Olmstead beneath the shadow of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid caused me to spend the next fifteen years of my life trying to protect the coast of California. John, the grandson of Fredrick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame, is one of the unsung heroes of the conservation movement.

To be perfectly honest, when he showed me the scrawny little trees that made up the forest, I was less than impressed. But, after passionately explaining to me how they came to be and the importance of preserving the Mendocino Ecological Staircase, as he so poetically described it, on which they grew, I threw my hat into the ring so to speak.
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John was my idol. There was little he would not do, no amount of money he would borrow with little hope of paying it back, no lie, no level of begging he would stoop to, no machinations of government and individuals he would not engage in, all in order to preserve these forlorn little twisted trees from disappearing beneath the bulldozers blade — all with no benefit to himself, no wealth, no fame, and few real friends.

The Lost Coast of Cape Mendocino.

On another day, I decided to drive up to Westport and into Cape Mendocino and the Lost Coast.
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Westport is a tiny town on a bluff above the Pacific supposedly riddled with ghosts. It is the last town before Highway 1 turns inland in order to avoid the dark mountainous terrain of the Lost Coast. I always liked this stretch of the highway. It is one of those places in the world where calling it somewhere that time forgot is justified.
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Passing beyond the town and turning inland, I found one of the dirt roads that lead into the heart of Lost Coast.
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Over forty years ago Joe the Hippie and his flower child girlfriend driving a beat up Plymouth 1957 sedan would also turn off here and brave the ruts and washouts to hike, camp, smoke and then drive on through to Ferndale and beyond. We would sometimes pass through Whitethorn and Honeydew, two of the tiny towns hidden in the Cape Mendocino forests, where the cultivators of the major cash crop in the area, big fierce bearded men and long-faced and long dressed women, would stand in front of their clapboard home and silently stare at us as we drove by.
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The road I chose traversed two ridges and passed high above the surf. I traveled through dark redwood groves festooned with signs that warned “No Trespassing. Area Patrolled.” I chose this to mean “shoot on sight,” not because I believed I would be shot if I wandered about but to persuade myself not to park the car and go hiking into the forest just for spite — and get lost.

I drove by a moss encrusted redwood that I called the “Old Man in the Tree” for obvious reasons.
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Finally, descending from the ridge, I entered a relatively broad valley with a creek (Usal Creek) running through it. A bridge crossed the creek into a sprawling primitive campground containing a few tents and some vans fitted out for camping.
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After parking my car at the edge of the black sand beach, I went for a hike through the woods that bordered the creek. As I sauntered along I ran into this:
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There were at least six bucks in the herd and two does. Not wanting to disturb them, I made my way back to the beach and walked along it until I feared the rising tide would cut off my return.
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After wandering around a bit and sitting on a log staring at the surf, I returned to my car and began the drive back to Mendocino. Along the way, I stopped at the store in Westport to buy a cream soda and a bag of potato chips.
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A Stroll along South Noyo Headlands Park.

On Saturday, we visited South Noyo Headlands Park. If anything, it is even more spectacular than the North Park. When they are connected in the next year or two, the park system will extend almost 12 miles along the coast passing through several magnificent landscapes. I have no doubt this park is destined to become one of the great urban/rural oceanfront parks of the world.
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The Druid Sisters’ Tea Party.

That evening, we attended the Druid Sisters Afro, Celtic, Belly Dance Tea Party at the Hill House in Mendocino. The group Soul Elixir, with Pilar Duran (daughter of the great jazz guitarist Eddie Duran) and Claudia Paige (who played drums for the Grateful Dead and other groups) was the first to perform. They were magnificent. The Second group the Druid Sisters (vocals, drums, and fiddle) followed with a marvelous fiddle player (Kathy Buys) and a strong-voiced singer with red hair that the princess in “Brave” would envy (Cyoakha O’Manion). Claudia Paige played the drums here also. Both groups also performed together while the belly dancers wound their way through the audience.

Many of those attending the festivities were of a more advanced age and dressed like they thought Druids would dress — lots of beads and crystals, flowing clothing and even sandals on some. They also danced to the music with the undulating abandon I had last seen at the hippie encampment on the beach below the Mendocino bluffs over 40 years ago. It was great.

One woman, perhaps even older than I, done up in a long flowing dress with a hunting knife hanging from her belt, danced the entire night or at least swayed about waving her hands like she was casting a spell on us all. My sister thought that with her long slender hands and knobby knuckles she was a Witch and not a Druid. I expressed no opinion on the matter.
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The Druid Sisters and Soul Elixir Together on Stage.

The B. Bryan Wildlife Preserve.

Our veneration of nature having been reinforced by the Druids, we set off the following morning for Point Area and a 200-acre estate dedicated to endangered African hoofed animals. We toured the reserve in a safari vehicle, saw the grazing gazelle, antelope, zebra and giraffe herds, fed the giraffes carrots held in our mouths and learned a lot — that certain types of Zebra, are not only obnoxious, but they plan their births during the rainy season so that they could hide their foals from predators in the newly grown brush; all the things one can tell about the health of wild animals by examining their poop; and, that there are only 760 Rothschild Giraffes, the tallest on earth, left in the wild.
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Pookie and the Rothschild Giraffe.

As we left the preserve I thought California with its large open grasslands, the demise of its logging industry, and relatively strong environmental and land use laws could be a wonderful place for establishing large preserves in order to save many of the world’s endangered ruminants and perhaps some of the large predators.

SAVE THE ROTHSCHILD GIRAFFES.

Leaving Mendocino.

I spent my last few days here trying to figure out how I would occupy myself during the four days between when I had to leave here and when I was scheduled to return to El Dorado Hills. Camping for a night or two seemed attractive. I always liked short turns of camping. Many years ago I did a lot of it. I was never a “gear” person. Usually just throwing down a sleeping bag under a tree sufficed.

B. BOOK REPORT: SWAN’S WAY.

Actually, this is not a report about a book I have read, but it is a report about a book. While rummaging through the marvelous little bookstore on Main Street in Mendocino, I happened upon a graphic novel pro-porting to tell the story, Swan’s Way, that makes up the first part of Marcel Proust’s seemingly endless magnum opus about memory. According to the book jacket, the graphic novel was created so that those who found wading through Proust’s rumination’s on social minutia tedious would find this format more interesting and thereby be able to enjoy the marvel that was Proust. As I leafed through the book, however, I found it to contain mostly panels of people sitting or standing in various Edwardian rooms along with the visibly unhappy little Swanie sulking somewhere. I could not understand how that was supposed to alleviate the tedium.

Fiction is the art of the storyteller. Should you read something written by a storyteller and find in it anything transcendental, it is likely that the transcendence you find lives in you and not in the words of the storyteller — unless, you are responding to a reviewer who insists that if you do not see in the work what he or she sees you are clearly defective.

That is why we read fiction, not for what the storyteller or even the erudite reviewer brings to it but what we take away from it. It is ours alone.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

Communities and cooperation:

“In the most general terms ,we might say that men live in communities in order to seek to satisfy their needs by cooperation. These needs are so varied, from the wide range of human needs based on man’s long evolutionary heritage, that human communities are bound to be complex. Such a community exists in a matrix of five dimensions, of which three dimensions are in space, the fourth is the dimension of time, and the fifth, which I shall call the dimension of abstraction, covers the range of human needs as developed over the long experience of past evolution. This dimension of abstraction for purposes of discussion will be divided into six or more aspects or levels of human experience and needs. These six are military, political, economic, social, religious, and intellectual. If we want a more concise view of the patterns of any community, we might reduce these six to only three, which I shall call: the patterns of power; the patterns of wealth; and the patterns of outlook. On the other hand, it may sometimes be helpful to examine some part of human activities in more detail by subdividing any one of these levels into sub-levels of narrower aspects to whatever degree of specific detail is most helpful.

In such a matrix, it is evident that the patterns of power may be made up of activities on any level or any combination of sub-levels. Today, in our Western culture we can deal with power adequately in terms of force, wealth, and ideology, but in earlier history or in other societies, it will be necessary to think of power in quite different terms, especially social and religious, which are no longer very significant in our own culture. The great divide, which shunted our culture off in directions so different from those which dominate the cultures of much of Asia and Africa down to the present, occurred about the sixth century BC, so if we go back into our own historical background before that, we shall have to deal with patterns closer to modern Asia or Africa than to our own contemporary culture.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“One of the most important things in deciding which candidates to vote for in an election is whether you believe you can persuade them to your position after the election not whether or not they agree with you before it.”

C. Today’s Poem:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
‘I live with my brat in a high-rise flat,
So how in the world would I know.’
Roald Dahl

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me; if I am only for myself, what am I, and if not now when?”
Rabbi Hillel

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:
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Pilar Duran

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Cyoakha O’Manion

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Cold tits 0005 (February 17, 2016)

 

“A man with no memory is a man with no foresight.”
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize) (p. 260). Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Some mornings, instead of walking along the bluffs, I stroll along the beach beneath them where the Big River empties into the ocean.
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In the late 1960s and early 70’s when the hippie phenomenon was morphing into the counter culture this vast expanse of sand used to be the site of a hippie encampment. Makeshift tents and driftwood shelters sprung up overnight and disappeared just as suddenly. Music filled the air along with the smoke of campfires and weed. People danced naked and clothed. The air smelled of iodine, marijuana and patchouli. And the colors — tie-dye shirts, beads of many hues, macrame headbands, long flower print dresses, and real flowers everywhere, all dimming in memory.
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A flower someone left in the sand.

 

The sea has reclaimed much of the beach. The sea caves and coves where those too shy to copulate on the open sand retreated for privacy and where later more permanent encampments sprung up are gone now beneath the waves.

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Thereafter, I walk under the Highway 1 bridge and along the sandy beach that runs up the river a short way.
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Once, I saw a woman swimming in the river with her dog
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I then usually amble up the old logging road that rises onto the bluffs above the river through shady redwood groves and sunny outlooks on the cliffs above the river.
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When I get tired, I retrace my steps until I reach a bench where I rest a while staring at the river, marshes and now and then boaters with their oars splashing until my reverie ends usually by another hiker walking by who insists on greeting me. I then walk back through the town to my sister’s house and take a nap.
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One of the things I notice on my walks is the evolution of the graphics on informational signs. During the early days of the Coastal Conservancy, I noticed the absence of anything other than bureaucratese in simple block letters. “Who would stop and read these,” I thought? “Would they take anything away from this?” So, I proposed creating informational signs designed by creative artists (not graphic designers) to be placed on our projects. No one agreed. Encouraged by this support I went ahead anyway, hired an artist who created a group of wonderfully attractive signs highlighting the flora and fauna that the sign described.
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Fort Bragg this week announced the competition for local artists to design the informational signs at Noyo Headlands Park and even the decorations on the bathrooms. On my walk through the Big River SMCA, I saw some well-designed informational signs containing interesting artwork. It pleased me to see that the idea has caught on.
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One slightly overcast day I walked along the Fort Bragg bluffs from the railroad bridge to the beginning of the Mekerricer State Park Dunes. A strong breeze blew in from offshore roiling the surf and creating waves almost 20 feet high.
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I rested for a few moments at the dunes by the Snowy Plover nesting area before returning.
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Snowy Plovers?

 

One day, I drove inland to walk a trail through the Pygmy Forest where my involvement with coastal protection began. But that is another story — for the next issue of T&T perhaps.
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With all those signs I encounter warning me of the danger from mountain lions as I walk along dark forest trails, I have to add another pathological fear to that of bears and bikers. Perhaps, I need Bill Yeates to explain why a frail elderly person on the verge of senility as he walks alone through the gloom of the woods, should not be afraid of those supposedly shy and gentle animals.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently, a physicist at MIT, Jeremy England, theorized that “…the more likely evolutionary outcomes are going to be the ones that absorbed and dissipated more energy from the environment’s external drives on the way to getting there.” England reasons from this that creation of large molecules necessary for life occur whenever certain conditions are met, that self-replication and greater structural organization are mechanisms by which a system could dissipate more energy. In other words, life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and the more evolved we are the more chaos we create in the universe.

Now, of course, this is merely a theory and I have no way of knowing if it has been peer reviewed or replicated. But let’s assume that it is correct. Then of course, once these molecules are formed, the rules of evolution (what ever they may be ( adaptation, mutation or thermodynamic exchanges) apply. Among the things this may mean, two stand out to me. The first is that life is simply the extension of the mathematical model of the universe with at least a phase of ever greater complexity. This may give some comfort to those who believe in an eschatological universe that I will touch on later. Another option, however, is that life is little more than a quantum parasite.

The second point, if the study is true, implies that life must be capable of developing and evolving in a similar response in many environments, certainly within the Goldilocks Zone and perhaps elsewhere. So given the number of years the universe has been in existence, the fact that many star systems and galaxies are far older than ours and that there are over 120 billion galaxies each containing more than 300 billion star systems, where is everyone?

Sure we’ve listened conscientiously for energy waves from the cosmos containing some alien civilizations version of “Green Acres,” and sent out into the void our own tiny spaceships with pictures of naked men and women bearing a message somewhat like, “hey, how’re ya doin,” with no success in eliciting a response from what probably is a trillion civilizations out there. Why? Could it be they know what we are like and want nothing to do with us? Or, maybe no one is there and we really are alone.

 

 

PAPA JOE’S TALES:

 

Trenz Pruca and the return of the Naked Mole Rat.

I have mentioned that my friend Trenz Pruca, who provides me with his many observations some of which I pass on to you, was a six-foot-three-inch white rat. I was wrong. I had assumed he was a white rat from the few times we met because of his rodent-like denture and my youthful conjecture that, unlike me and my swarthy Mediterranean neighbors who were not, those individuals with slightly pink skin were white. Nevertheless, I noticed no tail emerging from his long almost floor length dark coat and the strange un-rat-like bluntness of his snout. He was, in fact, a naked Mole Rat, one of those hardy, courageous and gentle creatures so beloved of scientists and odd individuals everywhere. He finally admitted to it when I pressed him during one of our visits. The long dark coat and cap protected his sensitive skin from the sun and also hid his nakedness as modesty demanded. He required the thick dark glasses held together by adhesive tape because his vision was poor and light disturbed his eyes.

 

“Why?” I asked one day, “do you live here and not with your own kind?” He stared at me silently for a while, a long while as he often did. Then finally when I just thought he would not, he responded in a soft voice, “I assume you noticed I am quite large.” “Yes,” I acknowledged. “But why with humans?” Again a very long silence. Then, “True, you humans are rather untrustworthy, barbaric and not very bright, and you spend all too much time talking foolishly about yourselves.” More silence, finally: “But I decided sitting in a dark coffee house with you humans was slightly preferable to living in a cave somewhere with a bear or similar creature, eating raw meat and grunting and growling and scratching myself — only slightly better, you understand.”

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
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During my several visits to Costa Rica, I met an artist named Miguel. He was well known in the country for his heroic actions during the Costa Rican War of Independence and for establishing many of that nation’s wonderful ecological reserves. He was in his mid-eighties then. He told me he used only his current nine girlfriends as models. They all would gather at his home most days to cook and take care of him and watch him paint.

I liked his painted images very much. He painted primarily in a pointillist style — applying small points of color rather than brush strokes to build up the images. I took photographs of several of his paintings, cut out those images that I liked and applied them to my canvas replacing the pointillism with brush strokes. I eliminated Miguel’s more colorful backgrounds, exchanging them for solid black as in this photograph.

I created about 15 or so paintings this way, including a triptych that hung in my bedroom. The lower quarter of the center panel contained a woman lying with her back to the viewer. Only that portion from her hip to just below her shoulder appeared, producing an elongated S-curve between it and the blackness. The panel on the right contained the same woman’s back but above it, I included Miguel’s image of a forest fire, all reds, blacks, and yellows.

The left panel had the same S curve but in the space above were painted three women I called the graces. This panel was a disaster so I never hung it hoping to try again sometime later but instead, I gave up painting.

The painting here contains images from two separate works of Miguel’s that I joined together. The elongated shoulder of the woman on the right occurred because I had photographed Miguel’s painting at an angle. When I projected the image onto the canvas I noticed it but left it that way because I thought it looked cool.

I was never happy with the black backgrounds. They looked empty. I wanted them to appear full the way Rothko’s do in his paintings, but that was far beyond my ability.

Now that I think about it, I could have just let the black brushstrokes feather off towards the edge of the painting leaving it with the color of the canvas showing through — sort of like someone painting the side of a barn and walking off with it unfinished.

I got a similar effect by using the matting control on the photograph.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

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

The elements of Power

“In our own tradition, the power which resolves conflicts of wills is generally made up of three elements. These are force, wealth, and ideology. In a sense, we might say that we resolve conflicts of wills by threatening or using physical force to destroy capacity to resist; or we use wealth to buy or bribe consent; or we persuade an opponent to yield by arguments based on beliefs. We are so convinced that these three make up power that we use them even in situations where different communities with quite different traditions of the nature of power are resisting. And as a result, we often mistake what is going on in such a clash of communities with quite different traditions of power. For example, in recent centuries, our Western culture has had numerous clashes with communities of Asiatic or African traditions whose understanding of power is quite different from our own, since it is based on religious and social considerations rather than on military, economic, or ideological, as ours is.”

“The social element in political power rests on the human need to be a member of a group and on the individual’s readiness to make sacrifices of his own desires in order to remain a member of such a group. It is largely a matter of reciprocity, that individuals mutually restrain their individual wills in order to remain members of a group, which is necessary to satisfy man’s gregarious needs. It is similar to the fact that individuals accept the rules of a game in order to participate in the game itself. This was always the most important aspect of power in Chinese and other societies, especially in Africa, but it has been relatively weak in others, such as our Western society or in Arabic culture of the Near East. The religious element was once very important in our own culture, but has become less so over the past five centuries until today it is of little influence in political power, although it is still very important in forming the framework of power in other areas, most notably in traditional Tibet, and in many cultures of Asia and Africa.”

“The inability of persons from one culture to see what is happening in another culture, even when it occurs before their eyes, is most frequent in matters of this kind, concerned with power. Early English visitors to Africa found it quite impossible to understand an African war, even when they were present at a “battle.” In such an encounter, two tribes lined up in two opposing lines, each warrior attired in a fantastic display of fur, feathers, and paint. The two armies danced, sang, shouted, exchanged insults, and gradually worked themselves up into a state in which they began to hurl their spears at each other. A few individuals were hit and fell to the ground, at which point one side broke and ran away, to the great disgust of the observing English. The latter, who hardly can get themselves to a fighting pitch until after they have suffered casualties or lost a battle or two, considered the natives to be cowardly when they left the field in flight after a few casualties. What they did not realize was that the event which they saw was not really a battle in the sense of a clash of force at all, but was rather an opportunity for a symbolic determination of how the spiritual forces of the world viewed the dispute and indicated their disfavor by allowing casualties on the side upholding the wrong view. The whole incident was much more like a European medieval judicial trial by ordeal, which also permitted the deity to signify which side of a dispute was wrong, than it was to a modern European battle.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“In any large organization there is no greater action that can be taken to improve its performance than cutting its upper management personnel by at least 50%.”

 

C. Today’s Poem:

“Where I’m From”
by Brendan Dreaper

I am from backyards,
from grass and sprinklers.
I am from the wood,
of the benches and deck I remember.
Worn thin by many feet.
Long kitchen counters,
smooth as marble.
Cookie dough sticking,
to the cold stone.

I am from snow forts,
hard packed snow in gloved hands.
I’m from warm fires,
and hot chocolate
warming on the stove.
I’m from books,
fantasy and mystery
that enlighten my mind.

I am from one story,
to two stories,
bedrooms are shared,
and then broken apart.
I’m from family,
unbroken unchanged.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“People can ask questions, but where there is no money, there are no answers.”
Sanderson, Brandon. The Bands of Mourning: A Mistborn Novel (p. 168). Tom Doherty Associates

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

 

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

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA
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TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling happy, I ordered a second ale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

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

The importance of organization.

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

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

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

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

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Trenz Pruca’s First Rule of Management:

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

 

C. Today’s Poem:

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

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
FullSizeRender_1
Canicatti Sicily, 1968

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Mopey 0005 (February 2, 2016)

 

“One of the more dangerous pleasures of great wealth is that you never have to hear anyone tell you that you are completely wrong.”
David Frum, Atlantic Monthly (1/1/16)
In Memory of Concepcion Picciotto: Peace at last.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Sun has hit the Golden Hills after over a week of rain and overcast skies. On the East Coast, people are digging out following the Blizzard of 2016. One of the reasons I migrated to California from New York so many years ago was to feel joy in the sun after a little rain rather than the pain in my lower back and frozen fingers as I dug out from snowdrifts and slush.

So, the sun came out again for a few days and I resumed my swimming at the health club. My chest still hurt so my usual exercise regime was greatly limited. Nevertheless, it was good to get out of the house for a while. Only a few more days remain before SWAC arrives with her newest ATM and I head off to Mendocino.

Rooting around in a forgotten briefcase, I found a few old photographs of some paintings I completed during my “painter phase.” Here are two:
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IMG_0944

I started the painting enterprise because I was fed up with the drudgery of law work and thought I could begin a new more exciting career as a twenty-first Century Peter Paul Rubens or perhaps even a Thomas Kinkade and support myself thereby. You know, in it for the money like Kinkade and like Peter Paul barely touching a brush while his assistants did all the work.

I eventually found it cost more to produce the paintings than I could ever sell them for. It also was boring (As some of you know, after 3 or 5 years of doing anything, I either self-destruct or go into hibernation or both). So, I gave up the enterprise. Actually, if you were to ask me, the paintings look better as photographs than they did as paintings. They were not art, even ordinary art. Here below is a very pedestrian painting, but the painter is a professional, not a hack like me (or T. Kinkade):
Pasted Graphic
Emile Albert Gruppe

The paintings are all gone now. My son has about six, a few are in Thailand somewhere and my daughter has one. Where the rest ended up, I have no idea. Many were sold at the grand garage sale seven years ago where I disposed of eight containers full of my stuff including 6000 books, several $4000 Brioni suits, my snow globe collection, a player piano and lots and lots of other things.

Today we purchased the Bearded Dragon Lizard for which HRM has been agitating for a while now. At our urging, he gave it the very uninspired name of Puff the Bearded Dragon.
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On Sunday, before leaving to spend a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister, Dick, HRM and I went to have breakfast at one of our favorite spots, The Purple Place, a few blocks from our house. There we learned that the tornado of a few weeks ago that I had thought touched down in the next town apparently struck here as well. According to the vet Dick takes his dogs to, the tornado bounced along the center of the road, hopped over the vet’s office skidded across the road and took off the roof of the building next to the Purple Place before jumping up to Cameron Park, the next town east, where it lifted a few more roofs. The damaged building was still wrapped in plastic.

Before heading up to Mendocino, I drove to San Jose for lunch with the original Bill Gates, not that pale imitation that happens to be the world’s richest person but the genuine original. It was the week before the Super Bowl and the city was all atwitter. The cameras were out awaiting the arrival of the teams while music blared from the displays in the park nearby. The official SB souvenirs shop had just opened for business and so we, of course, went in. I bought a couple of “official” coffee mugs and a Tee-shirt for HRM.
IMG_0952

Then it was off to Mendocino to spend a cold and rainy February at the edge of the Pacific. I arrived after dark, happy that I avoided any accidents like the last time I drove here.

The following day it was sunny, so I walked into town for a cafe latte and a cheese danish. I then strolled along the bluffs the taking photographs that of scenes I had taken many times before. I did find a view that I had not photographed before. Here it is.
IMG_0958

When I got back to my sister’s house, I noticed my car had a flat tire. I decided to take a nap and not think about it for a while.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Why does ISIL remain so difficult to defeat and why does it appear to be a reoccurring phenomenon?

It seems to me that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and even Boko Haram are all manifestations of the same thing. They are an ideology and not organizations as we tend to think of them. That is why the Chechen fighters who battled Russia seeking independence can move comfortably from there, to Afghanistan, to Iraq and now to Syria and believe they are fighting for the same goal. This is not too different from the State-Socialist Bolshevik ideology that fired up the wars for colonial independence 80 years or so ago. They usually achieved independence and quickly morphed into military dictatorships or dropped their strident socialism as soon as they got a taste of the beguiling delights of consumerism.

Contrary to prior policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we occupied the land, at least temporarily, while we installed a governing organization that we called democratic but many others referred to as a puppet regime, we are no longer seeking to either hold land or impose a specific regime. Also, the US now concentrates on targeting the insurgencies leaders and not merely on killing its soldiers. That is a change from Viet Nam where we racked up the kills of soldiers and civilians to no avail.

ISIL and the others remain ideologies [Islam is mostly the cover] opposed to the organizations that are the dominant economic powers of the day and not an organization like those we are used to dealing with. Killing its leaders, like killing its followers will not work. New leaders and new followers are easy to find. Occupying the land and imposing a regime we know now does not work either.

So what works? I do not know, but we have had great success battling competing ideologies with massive economic development. Young men inflamed with the possibility of becoming rich usually do not have time to pick up a gun.

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

2010: Republican businesswoman Meg Whitman spent $177 million on the race for Governor of California and lost. Jerry Brown spent $37 million and won.

2016: The New York City Police Force is the seventh largest army in the world.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the third in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY that I began in previous posts.

“Any community of persons consists of the land on which they are, the people who make it up, the artifacts which they have made to help them in satisfying their needs, and, above all, the patterns of actions, feelings, and thoughts which exist among them in relationships among persons and between persons and artifacts. These patterns may be regarded as the organization of the people and the artifacts on the terrain. The organization, with the artifacts but without the people as physical beings, is often called the “culture” of the community. Thus, we might express it in this way:

1. Community = people + artifacts + patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions
2. Community = people + culture
3. Community = people + artifacts + organization.

The significance of these relationships will appear later, but one very important one closely related to the major purpose of this book may be mentioned here. When two communities are in conflict, each trying to impose its will on the other, this can be achieved if the organization of one can be destroyed so that it is no longer able to resist the will of the other. That means that the purpose of their conflict will be to destroy the organization but leave the people and artifacts remaining, except to the degree that these are destroyed incidentally in the process of disrupting their organization in order to reduce their capacity to resist.

In European history, with its industrialized cities, complex division of labor, and dense population, the efforts to disrupt organization have led to weapons systems of mass destruction of people and artifacts, which could, in fact, so disrupt European industrial society, that the will to resist is eventually destroyed. But these same weapons, applied to a different geographical and social context, such as the jungles of southeast Asia, may not disrupt their patterns sufficiently to lower their wills to resist to the point where the people are willing to submit their wills to those of Western communities; rather they may be 7 forced to abandon forms of organization which are susceptible to disruption by Western weapons for quite different and dispersed forms of organization on which Western weapons are relatively ineffective.

This is what seems to have happened in Vietnam, where the Viet Cong organizational patterns were so unfamiliar to American experience that we had great difficulty in recognizing their effectiveness or even their existence, except as the resistance of individual people. As a result, we killed these people as individuals, without disrupting their Viet Cong organization, which we ignored because it was not similar to what we recognized as an organization of political life in Western eyes, and, for years, we deceived ourselves that we were defeating the Viet Cong organization because we were killing people and increasing our count of dead bodies (the majority of whom certainly formed no part of the Viet Cong organization which was resisting our will).”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“There are two great evils in the world, punishing yourself and harming others. There are only two goods, forgiving yourself and aiding others. Everything else is either fantasy or entertainment.”

C. Email from Naida West:

“I truly enjoyed your most recent blog. Especially the historical statistics on U.S. debt, which contradict so much of R vs D political debate: Muse from the DMV waiting room; Your mom and the benefits of “functional irascibility” — makes me feel better about my irascibility; And Quigley on the human need for cooperation with others.

The latter reminded me of the final line written by Chris McCandlas (sp?) — the college grad who left home, girlfriend, and society, experienced life on the road as an engaging & intelligent bum, hitchhiked to the Alaskan wild seeking happiness in nature, and died of dehydration and starvation after eating a toxic root that looked like an edible root depicted in his book on Alaskan plants. He survived the long painful bout of vomiting and diarrhea and wrote in his diary: “I made it!!!!” (4 exclamation points his ) However, he found himself to be too weak to go down the rocky, sloping embankment to the raging river to re-fill his plastic gallon jug or go hunting for an animal to kill. So, becoming ever weaker, he wrote his last words: “Happiness is not real unless it is shared.” I watched the movie Sunday night on Pivot TV, ending at 3 a.m. and couldn’t sleep until the sky was light.”

D.Today’s Poem:

Proud Mary

Left a good job in the city
Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
Pumped a lot of pane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
‘Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have [if you got] no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
John Fogerty

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
male-heights-from-skeletons-in-europe-1-2000-clark-645x403.0

Damn, now we are going to have to worry we are getting too tall. By the end of the century, we may all be 7’2” tall — too big for our houses, cars or burial plots.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
on-approaching-life-after-death
The Happiest Photograph of the Year.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Mopey 0005 (January 23, 2016)

“He always liked laundromats. They’re like waiting rooms for people who never travel.”
—Zoran Drvenkar, Sorry.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUTH

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

(El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life. One would think from my comments that I dislike it here. On the contrary, someone once said that living east of the San Diego Freeway in Los Angeles is a form of death; at my age living here in the golden hills is like death’s minor leagues — I get to practice before moving up to the big time.)

The sun broke through for part of the day. So, I decided to go swimming for the first time since my accident. It made me happy.
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On Sunday, I went to see Revenant. I liked it — Over two hours of Leo DiCaprio in agony (Leo Agonistes). Leo biting the head off a live fish and eating it; Leo eating a raw buffalo liver; Leo mauled by a bear; Leo sleeping naked inside the body of a dead horse; Leo’s body sewn up like a torn pair of jeans; Leo freezing in snow and icy water; Leo falling off a cliff; Leo swept away down a raging river; Leo frothing at the mouth; Leo covered in his own blood; Leo covered in animal’s blood. Leo covered other people’s blood; Leo shot; Leo knifed; Leo choked and so on. Oh, there was also a story, something about Native Americans, sons, wives who float in the air and disappear, and revenge on white men who never bathe. There was a lot of snow too. And subtitles. Leo deserves and Academy Award — not for acting but for surviving. Don’t miss it you will never forget it — even if you want to.

For dinner this evening, HRM decided to make pizza for his dinner. He made the dough, kneaded it, assembled the toppings and cooked it. The pizza tasted very good — certainly a lot better than Round Table or Mountain Mike’s.
IMG_0917

On Wednesday, I went to the DMV office to register my new automobile. About an hour and a half into my wait, sitting there on the hard plastic chair staring at the drop ceiling and listening to the seductive automated voice calling out the numbers like she was lying there next to me whispering into my ear, “B, zero, two seven go to window number nine,” I realized that I was as content as I could be anywhere. I guess I was experiencing satori — a spiritual awakening. I imagined that many of the great religions were created in DMV offices. The bible tells us that Jesus disappeared from public view until he began his ministry when he was 30. I suspect, he spent that time quietly sitting in a DMC office believing that the “meek shall inherit the earth.” Buddha while waiting five hours to renew his driver’s license persuaded himself that it was only tolerable if, in fact, it was not real. While Mohammed, on leaving the DMZ office, decided to conquer all the worlds DMV offices by promising his followers that if they died in the effort they would find themselves alone in a DMV office with 72 virgins behind the counter. Did you know that the biblical heaven and Hell are, in fact, DMV offices? In Heaven, you sit on hard plastic seats staring at the golden ones behind the counter, the saints and the angels, waiting for your number to be called and when it is called you get to approach the counter and get your license renewed by one of the golden ones after which you get to go back to your seat and wait for your number to be called again. Hell is just another DMV office except there are no seats, the heat is turned up to the highest level and your number is never called.

The person I bought the car from was a law enforcement officer. He insisted on putting a lower sale price on the transfer documents in order to save some money on Taxes. I, a one-time officer of the court in a profession with a strict code of ethics, did not object because I told myself I did not want to offend him. So I took full advantage of the reduced registration fee.

After returning home from the DMV office, I learned my 98-year-old mother had fallen while getting out of bed. I was pretty convinced she fell because she intended to run away from the nursing facility in order to return home to cook dinner for me and my sister. Anyway, they quickly and properly swept her off to the hospital for a CT scan and other tests — all of which were negative. She was returned to the nursing home where I am sure she demanded to be allowed to leave so that she could find a job.

I hope she lives to see her 100th birthday so that she might receive congratulations from Obama or whomever, or Jerry Brown or even Sylvester Stallone. It would make her very happy. She will, however, still insist she needs to go home and cook for her family, find a job and maybe a boyfriend. Functional irascibility is the secret to a long and happy life — well, perhaps not so happy at times.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

National Debt and Deficit.

In the national and candidates debates during this election year, as in all other presidential years, the words “debt” and “deficit” are thrown about in order to justify one’s political position or criticize an opponent’s. Actually, it is usually a smoke screen since historically (at least since WWII) both parties run similar annual budget deficits with Republican administrations since the election of Ronald Reagan running somewhat larger annual budget deficits and both parties showing a somewhat similar growth in the National Debt as a percentage of GDP. The difference between the parties often comes down to what that Budget Deficit goes to pay for. Traditionally, for Republicans generally, it goes to pay for enhanced military development and tax relief for private capital expenditure and formation and higher income individuals with Democrats leaning more toward paying for social programs, public works, and tax relief for consumers and lower income workers.

Recently, I came across some information from the US Treasury Department on the annual US budget deficit, the total National Debt by year, US GDP and US National Debt as a percentage of GDP going back to at least 1929. I was able to cull the following from those spreadsheets.

First some definitions: The Budget Deficit is those government expenditures (including payments on the National Debt) not covered by revenues in a given year. For the most part from a policy standpoint, the annual deficit for any single year tends to be not all that significant except during times of great stress like wars and economic panic. The National Debt is what the Federal Government owes at any given time.

Let’s look at two lists I prepared from US Treasury spreadsheets going back to the end of WWII that I hope will shed a little light on the nature of the political rhetoric.

Percentage increase in total National Government debt by President during his term.

Reagan 186%
Bush 2 101%
Bush 1 54% (4 years)
Obama 53% (7 years)
Ford 47% (3 years)
Carter 43% (4 years)
Nixon 34% (5 years)
Clinton 32%
Johnson 13% (5 Years)
Kennedy 8% (3 years)
Eisenhower 9%
Truman 3% (7 years)

National Debt as a percentage of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product at a President’s final budget.

Obama 106.7% (7 years)
Bush 2 85%
Truman 69.7% (7 years)
Bush 1 60.5% (4 years)
Eisenhower 51.3%
Clinton 56.2%
Reagan 51.4%
49.5% Kennedy (3 years)
35.9% Johnson (5 years)
Nixon 32.6 (5 Years)
Ford 31. 4% (3 years)
Carter 31.3% (4 years)
The second list is probably more important and informative since it relates the National Debt to the size of the economy at the time. While Bush 2 and Obama appear to have the larger percentage, a significant portion of those increases came at the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of Obama’s as they struggled to deal with the Great Recession ($1.1 trillion DEFICIT for the last year of Bush2 and $1.5 trillion DEFICIT for the first year of Obama). It demonstrates how great an economic crisis it was. (A similar spike would appear if these charts continued back to the great depression. Under Roosevelt, the depression and WWII increased the National Debt well over 1000%.) One takeaway is that after WWII, the size of the National Debt as a percentage of GDP decreased through all administrations Republican and Democrat alike until Reagan took office. Since then it has steadily increased except during the Clinton years. The most significant impacts on both Annual Deficits and the National Debt since Reagan took office has been a large reduction in taxes on upper-income individuals, non-earned income, and corporations, funding of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and the Obama stimulus.

Another way of looking at this, and perhaps even more illuminating, is how many percentage points over his predecessor a President increased the National Debt as a percentage of GDP when he left office:

Bush2 28.8
Obama 21.7
Reagan 20.1
Bush1 9.1
Carter -.1
Ford -1.2
Kennedy -1.8
Nixon -3.3
Johnson -13.6
Eisenhower -18.4
Clinton -13.5
The above clearly shows Clinton and Reagan as outliers. The difference between them appears to be almost exclusively their approach to taxes on higher earners and corporations. The list also further demonstrates the massive distortion of governmental finances engendered by the Middle Eastern wars and the Great Recession.

I believe that a national economy works better and the growth of National Debt moderated when a significant portion of public expenditure works its way through the economy from the bottom (like fuel in a furnace) rather than from the top. How that is done should be the basis of public debate (welfare, public works, incentives to work or to hire people, or consumer tax relief and so on).

I have no idea of the ideal size of National Debt a mature nation should carry but suspect it depends on the interest rate on the debt and the ability of the nation to service the debt during times of crisis. That is why I believe Keynes prescription to run budget deficits during times of crisis and surpluses during periods of growth is sound politics and prudent fiscal policy.

Note: It should be pointed out that total US debt as a percentage of GDP from all sectors went from approximately 1.5 times GDP in 1946 to a little less than 4 times GDP today. In 1946, the total US debt-to-GDP ratio was 150%, with two-thirds of that held by the federal government. Since 1946, the federal government’s share of total US debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen from about 2/3 to a little over 1/4. On the other, hand the share of total US Debt as a percentage of GDP of the financial sector, has increased substantially from less than 1% in 1926 to about 28% in 2009 with much of that growth occurring in the private Non-Government backed securities area. Government backed debt part of the financial sector, such as Ginnie Mae etc., has remained a relatively stable while private financial debt has soared from 0% to about 12% of the total US debt as a percentage of GDP. The ratio for households has risen nearly as much, from 10% of total debt as a percentage of GDP to about 24%.

In other words, while federal debt as a portion of the nations economy generally has been falling, private debt has been growing substantially.
IMG_0924

So, what does all this mean? Dammed if I know. I do know however, that those who tells us they do know, usually don’t, and if they do, what they tell us is often a lie.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

The following continues the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY that I began in my previous post.

“In recent years there has been a fair amount of unproductive controversy about the real nature of man and what may be his real human needs. In most cases, these discussions have not got very far because the participants have generally been talking in groups which are already largely in agreement, and they have not been carrying on any real dialogue across lines of basic disagreement. Accordingly, each group has simply rejected the views most antithetical to its own assumptions, with little effort to resolve areas of acute contradiction. There are, however, some points on which there could hardly be much disagreement. These include two basic facts about human life as we see it being lived everywhere. These are:
(1) Each individual is an independent person with a will of his own and capable of making his own decisions; and
(2) Most human needs can be satisfied only by cooperation with other persons.

The interaction of these two fundamental facts forms the basis for most social problems.

If each individual has his own autonomous will making its own decisions, there will inevitably be numerous clashes of conflicting wills. There would be no need to reconcile these clashes, if individuals were able to satisfy their needs as independent individuals. But there are almost no needs, beyond those for space, time, oxygen, and physiological elimination, which can be satisfied by man in isolation. The great mass of human needs, especially those important ones which make men distinctively human, can be satisfied only through cooperative relationships with other humans. As a consequence, it is imperative that men work out patterns of relationships on a cooperative basis which will minimize the conflicts of individual wills and allow their cooperative needs to be satisfied. From these customary cooperative relationships emerge the organizational features of the communities of men which are the fundamental units of social living.”

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions on Cooking:

“BTW, last night I watched the HBO airing of “The Godfather” movies back-to-back-to-back. Afterward, I was jonesin’ in the worst way for pasta marinara ad Scaloppine alla Marsala . . . in Sicily.

Back in 1985, when I was working on the Bolsa Chica LUP “confirmation” stage, I went to lunch with Darlene Frost and several others at North Beach Restaurant in — where else? — the terrific Italian community of North Beach in The City. The marinara had a sweetness I couldn’t identify, and the waiter actually told me how the chef did it. It was pureed carrots, which I’d guessed, but the chef used BABY FOOD carrots . . . and I thought that was brilliant. You can peel, chop, steam, and puree carrots . . . or you can open jars of baby food carrots. I’ve done it that way ever since.

My scaloppine recipe is the result of a dozen years of trying to duplicate the Scaloppine from Giulio’s in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. The secrets are getting the right balance of lemon juice and dry sherry (I’ve found that even a dry Marsala is too overly powerfully nutty), since the sherry flavor breaks down after a few minutes, and sautéing the veal (or chicken breast) in extra virgin olive oil and butter.

I did it for 120 people at a wedding reception years ago when I did catering for fun (and some profit). The wedding planner pulled ALL of my help to do the champagne toast BEFORE dinner, and I was cooking three different kinds of pasta by myself, planning the cooking times of each and getting the amounts done for four lines of diners on two long tables — penne marinara, fettuccine Alfredo, and farfalle in pesto (red, white, and green, of course!). I was cooking like an octopus, but I’d sautéed all of the veal ahead of time, set it aside, then did the reheating at the last minute, since veal toughens if it’s left to simmer too long. It all worked, and I got a bonus of several hundred dollars (it was a pretty elegant reception, as evidenced by their insistence on veal).

BTW, when my daughter had a 16th birthday party for about 60 friends (and their parents — they knew of my cooking reputation!), she wanted the three pastas I’d mentioned above. She was a full-on vegetarian by then, so those three worked great.

Final secret: If Italian sausage is too pricey to use for a large group, or of someone has moral problems with using pork products, I use ground turkey but add some pepper flakes, grind some fennel seed, and add some whole seeds. It tastes just like Italian sausage for a fraction of the price.

Yes, I seriously need to do my new cookbook . . . .”

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I think of myself as mostly a bad man who at times tried to do good and now and then succeeded only to find those successes often were ephemeral in significance and ambiguous in result

D. Today’s Poem:

Buddhist Barbie

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches ‘All is emptiness’
and ‘There is no self.’
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.
Denise Duhamel

 

TODAY’S CHART:
Vox_LessWarMainGraph_Revised.0

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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David laughs it up in Jomtien Beach with a bored LM and photo bomb.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Joseph 0005 (January 14, 2016)

 

“…art is long and critics are the insects of a day.”
Randall Jarrell

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.

My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.

Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.

Today, following our Sunday morning trip to Denio’s Auction, HRM whipped up some Nutella crepes with bananas.
IMG_0869

HRM is at school, Dick is at work, I have no car, it has been rainy and cold and I sit at home all day with little to do other than wondering if I am serving any function at all here in the Golden Hills other than consuming resources.

On Friday, the first day in a while without rain, after leaving HRM at school, Dick dropped me off at Bella Bru for breakfast. Because of the rain and not having a car, I had not been there in a while. After breakfast, I walked the two and a half miles back home carrying my computer and a bag of groceries. Most of the trees that normally do so have dropped their leaves for winter — except the Zombie Tree (or the Obstinate Oak as I called it a few issues back) still tightly clutches to itself a few leaves as green as springtime. Like many of us, it probably fears the worst.
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On another sunny winter day, I walked down to the newly restored Duck Pond where I sat on a bench and contemplated time, impermanence and sinus headaches.

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Having decided all my weeping and wailing about not having personal transportation was unbecoming an adult, I purchased an automobile. Alas, even though it is an inexpensive used vehicle, due to my strained financial situation, I have been forced to cancel my planned February visit to Thailand. Instead, I will most likely be spending that month mainly visiting with friends and staying a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister and her husband.
IMG_0892

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Since this is the beginning of the seventh year of T&T, I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:

January 17, 2010: From Thailand.

“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.

Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:

The misspelled Bastards: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.

“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.

“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.

Some coming of age French flick with the usual but much more intelligent teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.

Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/this-and-that-january-17-2010/

January 11, 2011: From Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-january-10-2011/

January 1, 2012: From Thailand.

“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-12-joseph-0001-january-1-2012/

January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.

“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 someplace 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 cannot 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?’”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-16-joseph-0002-january-4-2013/

January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.

“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 I am 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.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-27-joseph-0003-january-16-2014/

January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.

“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-20-joseph-0004-january-9-2015/

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

170 AD — The Hon Hanshu, a compilation of information regarding the nations of the West, written in China that year, contained the following:

“The king of this country [Da Qin] always wanted to send envoys to the Han, but Anxi (Parthia), wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].

In the ninth Yanxi year [166 CE], during the reign of Emperor Huan, the king of Da Qin (the Roman Empire), Andun (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), sent envoys from beyond the frontiers through Rinan (Commandery on the central Vietnamese coast), to offer elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, and turtle shell. This was the very first time there was [direct] communication [between the two countries]. The tribute brought was neither precious nor rare, raising suspicion that the accounts [of the ‘envoys’] might be exaggerated.”
Hou Hanshu, ch. 118. See TWR Section 12.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Fifteen years or so before the Counter-Culture declared the word the mystical basis of everything worthwhile, Carroll Quigley described his approach to history as holistic. The following excerpt from his unfinished work, Weapons Systems and Political Stability sets out some of the initial concepts from which he builds his analysis of history.

Necessary vs important.

The inability of most of us to distinguish between what is necessary and what is important is another example of the way in which one’s immediate personal experience, and especially the narrow and limited character of most personal experience, distorts one’s vision of reality. For necessary things are only important when they are lacking and are quickly forgotten when they are in adequate supply.

Certainly the most basic of human needs are those required for man’s continued physical survival and, of those, the most constantly needed is oxygen. Yet we almost never think of this, simply because it is almost never lacking. Yet cut off our supply of oxygen, even for a few seconds, and oxygen becomes the most important thing in the world. The same is true of the other parameters of our physical survival such as space and time. They are always necessary, but they become important only when we do not have them. This is true, for example, of food and water. It is equally true of security, for security is almost as closely related to mere physical survival as oxygen, food, or water.

The less concrete human needs, such as those for explanation or companionship are, on the other hand, less necessary (at least for mere survival) but are always important, whether we have them or lack them. In fact, the scale of human needs as we have hinted a moment ago forms a hierarchy seven or eight levels high, ranging from the more concrete to the less concrete (and thus more abstract) aspects of reality.

Hierarchy of human needs.

We cannot easily force the multi-dimensional complexities of reality and human experience into a single one-dimensional scale, but, if we are willing to excuse the inevitable distortion arising from an effort to do this, we might range human needs from the bottom to the top, on the levels of (1) physical survival; (2) security; (3).economic needs; (4) sex and reproduction; (5) gregarious needs for companionship and love; (6) the need for meaning and purpose; and (7) the need for explanation of the functioning of the universe. This hierarchy undoubtedly reflects the fact that man’s nature itself is a hierarchy, corresponding to his hierarchy of needs, although we usually conceal the hierarchical nature of man by polarizing it into some kind of dualistic system, such as mind and body, or, perhaps, by dividing it into the three levels of body, emotions, and intellect.

In general terms, we might say that the hierarchy of human needs, reflecting the hierarchy of human nature, is also a hierarchy ranging from necessary needs to important needs. The same range seems to reflect the evolutionary development of man, from a merely animal origin, through a gregarious ape-like creature, to the more rational and autonomous creature of human history. In his range of needs, reflecting thus both his past evolution and his complex nature, are a bundle of survivals from that evolutionary process.

The same range is also a kind of hierarchy from necessary things (associated more closely with his original animal nature) to important things (associated more closely with his more human nature). In this range the need for security, which is the one that concerns us now, is one of the more fundamental and is, thus, closer to the necessity end of the scale. This means that it is a constant need but is important only when we do not have it (or believe we do not have it).”
Carroll Quigley, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY, (1983) University Press of America,

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Dum spiro, spero,” (As long as you’re breathing, there’s hope) someone wrote a long time ago. In my opinion, that hope, unfortunately, is generally pointless since optimism is usually unwarranted.

C. Today’s Poem:

 

THE MOURNING SONG
OF THE POOR MOTHERLESS ORPHAN
DANCE TO DRUMBEATS

I was very small when my mother died,
when my father died.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Raised by the hands of friends,
I have no family here on earth.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Two days ago my friends died,
and left me insecure
vulnerable, alone. Ay ay!

That day I was alone
and put myself
in a stranger’s hand.
Ay ay, my lord!
Evil, much evil passes here
on earth. Perhaps
I will never stop crying.

Without family,
alone, very lonely I walk,
crying day and night
only cries consume my eyes and soul.
Under evil so hard.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Take pity on me, put an end
to this suffering.
Give me death, my Beautiful Lord,
or give my soul transcendence!

Poor, poor
alone on earth
pleading insecure lonely
imploring door to door
asking every person I see to give me love.
I who have no home, no clothes,
no fire.
Ay my lord! Have pity on me!
Give my soul transcendence
to endure.
Ancient Mayan Poetry, Songs of Dzitbalché (1440)

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Given that the world is indeed in the midst of the Age of Kali, optimism for positive outcomes is essentially futile.”
Peter Grenell

“I can play amateur politics at home with my 9-year-old. I don’t need to do it at the professional level.”
Barry Bennett top advisor to the Ben Carson presidential campaign following his resignation.

“Conservative politics are so closely intermingled with a lucrative entertainment complex that it is frequently impossible to distinguish between a political project (that is, something designed to result in policy change) and a money-making venture.”
Jonathan Chiat

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Correlation or causation?

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_0886

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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