Happy New Year to All…
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:
1. San Francisco:
I took the train to San Francisco, met George who drove us St. Ann’s Home to visit my mom. My sister prepared a small Christmas party for her. She was quite lively and happy although she kept getting confused about whether we were celebrating Christmas or her birthday.
Mom and I
Aaron, Athena, Nona Teresa and Pookie
At the funeral for Maurice someone observed that when Maurice asked you how you were he really did want to know how you were. I agree. No one I have ever known seemed so genuinely interested in those he met. His love for his daughter Molly was remarkably unqualified and selfless. It was reciprocated. When giving the eulogy Molly broke down in tears. Maurice and Molly were as much a part of our extended family as those related by blood or marriage.
Maurice was a cigar aficionado and his cigar collection was distributed to the mourners in his memory.
I drove to Mendocino with my sister Maryann and her husband George to spend Christmas there. We stayed in the water-tower because their house was being remodeled. My sister invited several friends to spend the holiday with us. They rented a beachfront house in Cleone for everyone to stay at. Beside Maryanne and George’s son and daughter and their respective partners, there was a woman friend who we learned actually attended Woodstock and had the photographs to prove it. Another family, neighbors of my sister when they lived in Berkeley, were accomplished musicians. On Christmas Day we were joined by yet another Berkeley neighbor. I had a wonderful time. It is great to finally experience a Christmas that I actually enjoyed. That is a new experience for me.
Preparing the food
I received several great books for Christmas. I still, however, had to complete the series I was already reading before I could dig into them.
Ever since opening up The Hobbit for the first time, I have had a weak spot for Swords and Sorcery and Fantasy genre. True, it has at times produced some of the worlds greatest literature such as, in the West, Homer, Wolfram Von Eschenbach, Poe and more recently Tolkien, Tad Williams, Donaldson, Ursula LeGuin, and Rowling among others. Nevertheless, for the most part, it ranks next to romance novels among the dregs of fiction. As with my life in general it is often among the dregs that I find myself the happiest.
Swords and Sorcery and Fantasy as a rule, no matter how exalted its literary pretensions, is usually what can best be described and the glorification of Autarchy. They are morality tales for the aristocracy. People born with privilege or inherited superiority struggle to rise to the top against a dark adversary, usually someone just the same as they are but more of a dick. The moral is generally don’t be an asshole to people beneath you unless you have to and if a lot of them die in order for you to survive, that’s ok because they are better off with you in charge than the other guy.
Anyway, I just completed reading a four book series called The Evermen Saga. Although the novels are quite good, the author’s life is probably more interesting than the books .
The author James Maxwell a young man who likes to travel and apparently writes these books in order to continue his hobby. His first he wrote on an island in Thailand, the second on a beach in New Zealand, the third in the Austrian Alps and the fourth on Malta.
Pookie says, “check it out”
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
The Little Car that Could:
In order to store the car during my stay in Canicatti my cousin Giovanni called a friend who had a large garage attached to his home. The friend, Luigi (Gigi) Gallo, came over and we took the car to his garage. I was convinced the car was on its last legs, or wheels. The engine stopped working before we got to the garage. We pushed it the rest of the way. Once we arrived and settled the car in the garage, I unceremoniously turned my back on it and walked away.
Today forty years later I feel bad about that. After all it safely took my young son and me almost 2000 miles across a continent from north to south, through one of the earths great mountain ranges. Yet as far as I was concerned its use to me was finished.
During the next four years or so while I lived in Sicily and Rome and even after I returned to the US, I would, at Gigi’s urging, return to the garage and check on it as its tires slowly flattened and dust and grime turned its white surface a pitted grey.
Eventually Gigi took it out to his farm in the country where the children could play in the slowly rusting hulk. One time, for some reason, thieves stole it. Gigi called the police who found it and returned it in even worse shape than before.
As restoration began
Gigi eventually became a locally well-known race car driver. When his son, Marco, was about 14 years old Marco decided to restore the thing he played in for most of his life. According to Marco, he remembered the stories his father told him about the strange American and his young son who drove in the automobile across Europe from London to Canicatti. He wanted to see what the car originally looked like. So he contacted the Trojan Automobile Club and began assembling the car’s original parts and restored it. There now is only one Trojan 200 in Sicily and one in Rome. Marco also became a successful race car driver and now lives in Milan and is a practicing sports nutritionist.
Gigi and the Trojan shortly after restoration
The joy and the pain of a journey is increased by who and what one travels with. For this somewhat epic trip I was fortunate to have my young son and the Trojan along. I could not ask for better traveling companions.
A. City Planning:
“Recent developments in the global system of cities present a curious paradox. With the cost of communications declining almost to zero and substantial, though less dramatic reductions in transport costs, there is now little technical requirement for most kinds of production to be undertaken in any particular location, or for elements of production chains to be located close to each other. This fact has had dramatic consequences for the organization of manufacturing industry. Simple production chains involving the import of raw materials, usually from developing countries, for processing in a specialized centre, have been replaced by far more complex structures.
Yet, in important respects, the dominance of a small number of ‘global cities’ has never been greater. In this paper, it is argued that the dominance of global cities reflects a desire for clustering on the part of finance sector professionals and corporate executives. It seems likely that such clustering provides private benefits by enhancing the value of personal contacts, but reduces the efficiency and profitability of the corporate sector.”
John Quiggin. Abstract to Cities, Connections and Cronyism. 2006.
B. Famous Errors of Prognostication:
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
H. M. Warner (1881-1958), founder of Warner Brothers, in 1927
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson (1874-1956), Chairman of IBM, 1943
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
Yale University management professor in response to student Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith graduated from Yale in 1966 went on to found Federal Express Corp. 1966-1970)
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
Bill Gates (1955-), in 1981
“I’ll just touch on something else: secrecy in government. Secrecy in government exists for only one reason: to prevent the American people from knowing what’s going on. It is nonsense to believe that anything our government does is not known to the Russians at about the same moment it happens.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, AD 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.