TODAY FROM AMERICA:
First things first; my most recent blog post for Smart+Connected Communities Institute has been published. It is about technological improvements in earthquake warning systems instituted by California’s Seismic Safety Commission. Click here if you would think you might be interested in reading it. Even if you are not interested in it click anyway (several times if you feel up to it) so that they may feel encouraged to continue to employ me.
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:
Alas my time here in California is rapidly approaching its end. I will leave for Florida on September 29 and then in quick succession on to DC, NY and Italy before returning to Thailand sometime around the third week in October.
Since returning to Sacramento, I have resumed my nanny duties, usually with little to distinguish one day from the next.
On Saturday I spent my morning at a local coffee house. Weekend mornings brings parents from the surrounding subdivisions taking their children there for breakfast. While waiting on line to give my order, the man in the line in front of me with two sub-seven year olds in tow, having heard the man in line behind me call out the name of one of his own three sub-seven year olds, commented to him that he thought it was an unusual name (I did not hear the name). The other man explained that he was a wine collector and had named all his children after wines. This one he explained was one of his favorite varietals grown in Napa Valley.
Later that day, Dick, Hayden and I traveled to the Mekouleme Hill ranch of Congressman John Garamendi for his annual BBQ. On the way we stopped at Bill and Naida’s ranch in Rancho Murietta because I wanted to say goodbye to them before leaving for Thailand. Both Bill and Naida looked remarkably well. That made me happy.
While at the ranch we toured Bill’s classic car collection that included this wonderful Woody:
Bill also had a classic red pickup from the 50’s that I lusted for. All of his cars are up for sale, if any of you are interested.
After leaving the ranch we travelled down route 49 that bisects the “Gold Country” and stopped at a place in Jackson called “Fat Freddy’s” where we sat at the counter eating lunch washed down with malted milkshakes and listened to the woman behind the counter’s stories about Jackson Phil (as opposed to Phil Jackson the legendary Lakers basketball coach) the legendary gold hoarding squirrel who stole one nugget too many and is now stuffed and adorns a shelf on the wall behind the counter.
We eventually arrived at the Garamendi ranch. The festivities featured country and western music, gold panning, petting zoos, aging politicians and more. The following is a photograph of Hayden on the tractor posing with the Congressman himself.
I remember him (Garamendi) from his first days in the State legislature in December 1974. He had come to Senator Jerry Smith’s office to be mentored in legislative process because Smith was assigned as his mentor. I thought he was a dick-head. Someone described him as a real boy-scout. Like I said a dick-head. Since then I am told he has mellowed out a lot.
After spending some time at the event reminiscing with Norbert and Stevie, we left and returned home.
The next day I watched the 49rs lose, plunging me into such deep depression that it required me to lie in bed and sulk for the rest of the day.
During the following week I settled back into executing my nanny and chauffeur duties and began packing for my departure on Friday. As usual, contemplation of leaving someplace where I have become relatively content made me sad enough to mist my eyes now and then as I folded my clothing into the suitcase. Nevertheless, the idea of staying here too much longer filled me with as much dread as leaving did sadness.
On Thursday morning we headed off to the courthouse in Placerville in hopes that this morning’s hearing would end the child custody case. Opposing counsel had notified us that repeated attempts to contact the petitioner for instruction regarding a response to our motion to dismiss failed and he had no choice but to not appear at the hearing. At the hearing the petitioner, without notification to anyone, called into the court and claimed no knowledge of his attorney’s attempts to contact him. The judge put the hearing off until the second week in October to allow petitioner to straighten things out with his attorney or to find new counsel.
The law is pretty clear on the subject. If a woman is married at the time the child is born, the husband at the time is the presumed father. In general the presumption is absolute unless the party wishing to be declared father can demonstrate an intimate nurturing relationship with the child the sundering of which would be catastrophic for the child’s well being. I cannot see how Petitioner reaches the threshold required in the published opinions to overcome the presumption. It seems to me that seven years of taking no for an answer does not an intimate parental relationship make.
While waiting for our case to come up on the agenda, we listened to a hearing on a dispute between a husband and his wife. It seems that the husband, who has an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Arizona, and his girlfriend, a medical marijuana user who admits to being stoned day and night, are living in the house that the wife previous lived in with the husband. The husband has not paid on the mortgage for 18 months or so and the mortgage company has not moved to evict him because the house is worth less than the mortgage. The wife, who has a series of arrests of her own on her record for shoplifting and other things, is pissed and wants the husband to be forced to sell the house and pay rent somewhere. When the judge hesitated, the wife produced a letter from a doctor claiming the loving couple’s 41/2 year old daughter had been sexually abused presumably while spending time with the husband and the stoner. The judge said he will have to read everything before deciding anything. Sheriff’s deputies had been called to protect the wife because the girl friend had made physical threats against the wife.
Humans are a fascinating species. I am convinced God created us because he or she (I refuse to take sides on the issue of God’s gender — although the Good Humor Man of my youth [see below] was always male) found presiding over the rest of the universe dreadfully dull and craved some amusement.
Later on in the day I took Hayden to his Taekwondo class. Sometimes parents while waiting for their children to finish their lessons read magazines and books to while away the time rather than to stare at their white uniformed loved ones jump around and grunt in make-believe mayhem. The place has accumulated a fairly well stocked library of bad novels and back issues of People Magazine left behind by the proud but bored parents. For the last few sessions, I had been reading a well thumbed through novel by John Gresham entitled The Bleachers and serendipitously I finished it up that but evening.
I normally avoid anything by Gresham. He writes with a very well written drab spare stylessness that passes for a style. His characters are one dimensional defined by the events around them. I think of him a similar to Elmore Leonard but without the wit and the humor. This novel was not his usual mystery, but a tear jerker for males about ex-football jocks returning to their small town to await the death of their high school coach. It was good enough to make me cry now and then. I like to cry when I read.
The following morning I hugged Hayden before he went off to school and we said our goodbyes. I cried some more. Than I left Sacramento on the first leg of my trip that may even eventually take me back to Thailand for the next few months.
TODAY’S MISLEADING FACTOID:
Graphic unavailable at this time
The yield per acre for wheat in England, France, and Germany and the yield for rice in Japan. These top-producing countries for the two most important cereals for direct human consumption have failed in the last 10 or more years to increase productivity.
(This chart was used by one of my otherwise generally reliable analysts, Jeremy Grantham, as evidence of one of the inevitable crises exacerbated by the effects of climate change and population growth; the leveling off of productivity increases for major food crops eventually breeding shortages and rising prices. [Grantham is an investment advisor after all.] What is misleading about this graph is that it shows the leveling off in four countries whose populations are not growing. Left unstated is whether or not per acre crop yields are increasing in countries with growing populations or whether additional acres of farm land are being devoted to these food crops in response to rising demand.
I expect crop yields are not increasing in any way as much as they did during the so-called “Green Revolution” of 30 or so years ago that, by keeping agricultural prices low, staved off wide spread social dislocation that could have been caused by rampant population growth at the time . Yes, hunger is a question of cost every bit as much as it is a question of ethics.
Similarly, I suspect that removal of crop land from production due to urbanization and climate change more than balances the unused acreage put into production due to the promise of higher prices.)
A. The Hundred-and-nineteenth Calypso of Bokonon (Vonnegut):
“Where’s my good old gang done gone?”
I heard a man say.
I whispered in that sad man’s ear,
“Your gang’s done gone away.”
Want to know just how crazy all sides — including mine — in this “hell debate” are? Watch the movie “Hellbound?” and take a peek into the asylum that is housing the people who are destroying the world. They now own a major political party and are running a Mormon opportunist who believes in nothing and his Ayn Rand/Jesus/God-nut sidekick who believes in way too much and who wants to take what little the poor have away in the name of opportunity.
Frank Schaeffer. His father was one of the founders of what we now know as the Religious Right in this country, and he write about his experience growing up in that family in the superbly written Crazy for God.
When I explained this (the biological irrelevancy of men to human species reproduction) to a female colleague and asked her if she thought that there was yet anything irreplaceable about men, she answered, “They’re entertaining.”
Taken from the NY Times opinion page article, Men, Who Needs Them? By Greg Hampikian.
The entertainment quality of men in general, in my opinion, is highly overrated.
F. Investment advice for those of us who are so foolish as to invest in anything Wall Street is peddling:
20 Ways Wall Street is Ripping Off Small Investors:
1. Providing nominal returns, not real returns.
2. Encouraging too much diversification, if that’s possible.
3. Hiding fees and expenses.
4. Turning you into a passive investor.
5. Convincing you that money markets are the same as cash.
6. Telling you that bonds are safer than equities.
7. Explaining that in the long run equities outperform bonds.
8. Simply by lying about their products.
9. Convincing you that their bank is a large, stable, safe operation to deal with.
10. Recommending products that have enormous sales commissions attached to them.
11. Cheating you on bid/ask spreads.
12. Selling you what they don’t want.
13. Measuring your success in dollars.
14. Lending your securities to others.
15. Ripping your eyes out if you ever try to close your account.
16. Grabbing any slight positive real return for themselves.
17. Sticking toxic waste to small investors.
18. Pretending they can pick stocks.
19. Acting like they are your best friend and they have your best interests at heart.
20. Knowing next to nothing about the value of holding real assets like gold and real estate.
John R. Talbott is a bestselling author and financial consultant to families whose books predicted the housing crash, the banking crisis and the global economic collapse.
I always liked Wilde. That one could write a passable jail-house poem, a reasonably good book, insult everyone, dress like he did and still become famous even before the creation of the internet, confirms my belief that God is the ultimate humorist.
Speaking of God and humor, did you know that while growing up I always thought that God was the Good Humor man. [For those that get this — you are showing your age.] Every afternoon the Good Humor man rang his bells in front of my house. The sound of those bells filled me with hope. Would your God do as much for you?
This is accurate except that it omits the importance of Occam’s Razor to scientific theory. That is, in its most basic terms, Occam requires that the simplest explanation that accounts for all the observable facts be preferred over the more complicated [However, as Einstein pointed out, “Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler.”.
Nevertheless, Occam’s Razor does not apply to fantasy, religion, politics, economics or sales. Perhaps it should, but if it did so, those worthy examples of human endeavor probably would soon disappear. I would miss fantasy though.