October through December 2014

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Pepe 0003 (October 26, 2014)

“You and I can argue issues all day and it won’t affect our friendship, but the minute I question your motives you will never forgive me.”
Dwight David Eisenhower (“who saw the world as a place almost without evil” – Quigley)
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. STUNNING PHOTOGRAPH BY IRENE SNYDER PROVIDED BY CORDT HOLLAND
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

This morning after breakfast as I walked through the tunnel to get to the health club, I saw a mêlée occurring at one of the small dark bars (really just a plank with stools and open to the alley) that line the passageway. At least six or seven people were milling around grabbing and shoving each other while a slightly larger number stood about watching, shouting and holding back others. This was a lot of people swarming about in a space no larger than a small hotel room. And, it was only 9AM in the morning.

Now I assume most people, especially an alter like me, would either not proceed until things quieted down or find another way to get to their destination. I instead waded right in to get a closer look at the action. I did not consider it either foolish or irresponsible.

Twenty years or so ago while visiting Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas with Dick McCarthy and Sylvia Earle the oceanographer and one time director of NOAA, a TV camera located under a dock picked up a Barracuda feeding frenzy and displayed it on the TV where we were having dinner. Sylvia immediately stood up, and said, “I’ve never experienced a Barracuda feeding frenzy before. I have to see it up close.” She then ran from the bar and jumped into the water in the midst of the crazed fish. Now, that I think is foolish and irresponsible. Walking into bar where a bunch of drunken Thai women are swinging broken beer bottles at each other was a walk in the park by comparison.

Anyway, it seems that one woman had gotten very drunk and another woman, who may have worked in the bar, accused her of stealing some money. The drunk went after her with a broken beer bottle. In breaking the bottle a shard flew across the room striking on the forehead a farang sitting at the bar opening a large cut that bled profusely. Several other people seemed to be reluctantly trying to separate the fighters or perhaps even joining in on one side or another. Apparently the drunk girl was a Burmese migrant which added to the resentment of the Thais. Another bar girl was attempting to persuade two more not to intervene against the Burmese woman.

I pushed my way through everyone and walked on knowing that, as usual with bar fights, if it has gone on this long its dénouement would be undramatic. Fatigue would soon reduce the fury to name calling and then the regrets begin – but no tears. There are rarely tears in bar fights.
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Speaking of tears, there have been a number of studies that indicate that women cry more readily than men. I doubt that. Certainly here in Thailand women don’t cry. They pretend to at times, but that is something else.

When I was a child living on the streets, homeless or in rat infested basements, I never recall my mother crying or for that matter any of the other women we knew in similar circumstances. The men, including my father, cried in frustration, despair and in self-hate for their failures, but never the women, even those who were beaten. Only the loss of a child could bring tears to their eyes.
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Spent part of the day wandering around BKK with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver. We met a friend of his, a historian from Australia named Glenn who published several books about economic history and is an acquaintance of Chris Moore, the mystery writer. We met at coffee shop in a shopping center on Asoke Road where he was buying out of date food to bring home for dinner. Writing academic books on economic history does not pay much. Later over lunch, the Old Sailor told me the history of one of the beach front bars I used to drink at in St. Thomas fifty years ago. Then it rained, so I went home and took a nap.
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A sidewalk food vendor in front of my apartment.

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Pookie looking good in his new shirt of many colors.

C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

About Protests, Power and Oligarchy

An article from the NY times reprinted in The Bangkok Post, reported that the Chinese government met with the wealthy Hong Kong oligarchy to urge them to refrain from comments about Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s attempts to deal with the ongoing protests. Apparently the oligarchs are concerned that Leung was too autocratic — not to the students, but to them. In other words, Leung refused to do whatever it was the oligarchs wanted. They also were worried that Leung was someone who exhibited “a streak of economic populism who might some day raise taxes to pay for greater social spending” — This in a Communist country no less.

Leung for his part announced yesterday that he opposed fully open elections because the poor would predominate and skew “politics and policy towards poor people.” I am sure this pleased the oligarchs very much prompting Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man who makes most of his money off of the people of Hong Kong to state, “I sincerely urge everyone not let today’s passion become tomorrow’s regret. I earnestly urge everyone to return home immediately to your families.”

Hong Kong has the highest discrepancy in income and wealth between the very rich and everyone else in all of Asia.

We should also remember that in democratic Athens, the oligarchs were fully prepared to betray democracy and their country to their enemies in order to install an autocratic government run by them. Oligarchs have no country other than the one that best protects their wealth and political power. You can wave the flag all you want, but if you move your wealth to another country simply to increase your profits you’re no patriot.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

From Trenz Pruca:

“Economics is a philosophy for supplying parasites with an operating system that provides the most efficient means of devouring its host.”

Note: Parasites usually do not kill their hosts because they have a natural intelligence that makes them too clever to do so. Humanity on the other hand has little natural intelligence left. Evolution has replaced it with symbolic intelligence that enabled it to master its environment by using and thinking with symbols. Humanity’s species intelligence is generally dictated by who has power over its symbols. Those with the most power over humanity’s symbols usually care more about maintaining that power than about the health of their species host.

DAILY FACTOID:

I thought I would post here for your amusement one of my favorite, silly Daily Factoids from T&T about two years ago:

“2000 years: For 2000 years, 666 has been the number of the dreaded anti-Christ. An unlucky number for many, even the European parliament leaves seat number 666 vacant. The number is from the book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible. However, in 2005, a translation of the very earliest known copy of the Book of Revelation clearly shows it to be 616, not 666! The 1,700 year old copy was recovered from the city of Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, and deciphered by a paleographical research team from the University Of Birmingham, UK. The team was led by Professor David Parker. (Listverse)

Note: According to Wikipedia, area code 616 is the area code for the Grand Rapids and Grand Haven Michigan metropolitan areas, which includes Kent, Ionia and Ottawa counties, and parts of neighboring counties.

(Beware of people from Michigan)


Also, Earth-616 is the name used to identify the primary continuity in which most Marvel Comics titles take place.

(Beware of Spiderman!)

Finally, 616 is the 25th member of the [H-A-X-Z Sequence], coming after 265, 351, 465 (it is the sum of the first two of these). 616 is a polygonal number in four different ways: it is a heptagonal number, as well as 13-, 31- and 104-gonal.

It is also the sum of the squares of the factorials of 2,3,4. i.e.. (2!)^2 + (3!)^2 + (4!)^2 = 4+36+576=616.

The Roman numeral for 616, DCXVI, has exactly one occurrence of all symbols except for L whose value is less than 1000 (D=500, C=100, X=10, V=5, I=1)

(Beware of anyone who knows and understands this!)

Today: 75 percent of Japanese women own vibrators. The global average is only 47 percent.

No wonder the Japanese birth rate is falling. This also may explain the last place finish by the Japanese in the sexual frequency Olympics. I understand that 616 is the model number of the most popular vibrator in Tokyo.

(Beware of Japanese women! They are just not that into you.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

They want our wealth back.
original

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Quigley on the conservative backlash to change in America’s security and its international role.

“On the whole, the neo-isolationist discontent was a revolt of the ignorant against the informed or educated, of the nineteenth century against the insoluble problems of the twentieth, of the Midwest of Tom Sawyer against the cosmopolitan East of J. P. Morgan and Company, of old Siwash against Harvard, of the Chicago Tribune against the Washington Post or The New York Times, of simple absolutes against complex relativisms, of immediate final solutions against long-range partial alleviations, of frontier activism against European thought, a rejection, out of hand, of all the complexities of life which had arisen since 1915 in favor of a nostalgic return to the simplicities of 1905, and above all a desire to get back to the inexpensive, thoughtless, and irresponsible international security of 1880.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

“On the whole, the neo-isolationist discontent was a revolt of the ignorant against the informed or educated, of the nineteenth century against the insoluble problems of the twentieth, of the Midwest of Tom Sawyer against the cosmopolitan East of J. P. Morgan and Company, of old Siwash against Harvard, of the Chicago Tribune against the Washington Post or The New York Times, of simple absolutes against complex relativisms, of immediate final solutions against long-range partial alleviations, of frontier activism against European thought, a rejection, out of hand, of all the complexities of life which had arisen since 1915 in favor of a nostalgic return to the simplicities of 1905, and above all a desire to get back to the inexpensive, thoughtless, and irresponsible international security of 1880.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

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

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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pepe 0003. (October 21, 2014)

 
Destiny never gets there before you do. So, there’s no need to rush.”
Pookie...

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

I was very pleased with the number of people who wished me a Happy Birthday on my 75th birthday. For some reason it was more important to me on this birthday than in the past when I preferred not to be reminded of the passage of time.

My daughter surprised me with a trip to DC either over the Christmas holidays or during the Cherry Blossom festival. I am inclined to choose Cherry Blossom time. I suspect Washington will be deep into the polar vortex in December.

Here in BKK I spent my birthday more or less like any other day; breakfast than swimming and so on. While swimming I felt anxious about returning to the apartment and getting back to all the things I had to do. I realized I have been experiencing this anxiety for couple of years now. It was much like I was still working and worried about getting back to the office. So I decided to break the habit and instead of rushing back and grabbing a quick lunch from the fridge, I treated myself to a long leisurely lunch and another pleasant meal at dinner. The next morning I woke up with severe food poisoning and spent much of the day at hospital wishing I were dead.

I was well by the following day and had an enjoyable lunch with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver swapping stories of Key West and the Caribbean. He was involved in the race to find the sunken treasure ship Atocha. His team lost to Mel Fisher. They did manage, however, to turn up some relics of far less value.

I get the impression that he longs to go back to the Caribbean, but feels he is trapped here in SE Asia for either lack of money or fear of arrest if he returns.
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When LM cleans up my apt., she refuses to kill any insects she finds crawling around the floor because she is Buddhist. Instead she sweeps those she finds out on to the balcony. Where they go from there is anyones guess.

I have ants that parade up and down (or down and up – one never knows with ants) the walls along corners or grout lines. She says I should not harm them because as long as I do not leave food around or crumbs in my bed, they will not bother me.

Now and then I lie on my bed and watch them scurry along the corner of the room in their eternal rush to work. Their industry annoys me. I have made a deal with them in my mind. As long as they stay in line, I will honor LM’s ethical concerns and they will remain unharmed but should even one step out he will feel my fury. After all I am the all-powerful dictator of my room – at least sometimes.
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Last night LM brought home fried grubs for me to eat as a treat. I refused. She said that at first she was hesitant to eat them but after  trying then she found them so good they became habit-forming. I still refused.
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Today after swimming the sky filled with black clouds turning the City as dark as night, The sky erupted drowning everything in a solid sheet of water. After about three hours of Sturm and Drang it ended leaving the sky bright with sun, the streets flooded and the temperatures as mind numbing as ever. For a few hours, however, the air seemed washed clean of the ever-present dirt and grime.

As I walked back to the apartment, I found that Soi Nana was flooded. This was the first time that I seen like that, although I am sure it had done so many times before. I hoped by walking on the higher portions of the sidewalks I could avoid wading through the gunk. No such luck.
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B. PHOTOS FROM THE HOOD:

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The migrant worker housing beside my apartment showing the large cisterns used for community bathing.

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A Hostel on my block made from old shipping crates.

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A bird in a bamboo cage just outside the door to my building, one of several cages. Maybe Yeates knows what kind of bird it is.

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The small restaurant across the street from the apartment where LM buys my Thai omelets.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Every once in a while I troll through back issues of T&T and come up with something in them that strikes my fancy. The following is from 2012:

War Movies

Yesterday I watched on television the movies Patton, Midway and Apocalypse Now. A television network was having a festival of war movies. While watching for about 8 hours, I began to notice something about the commercials that struck me as strange. Of the over 200 commercials presented during that time, only one was for an American produced manufactured item. All the rest were either ads for financial products, food products, stores that stocked mostly foreign manufactured goods, various entertainment efforts, a few communication companies and four ads for foreign produced automobiles.

War movies are mostly guy things. They are made for men and concerned with men doing men things. Killing each other in great numbers is a man thing. Crying in anguish over the death of a comrade killed by one of the survivors of those he and his comrade have just attempted to slaughter is another guy thing.

Women in war movies are rare. They appear only in an attempt to prove that in war movies the men are not, as most sensible people suspect, sleeping with each other.

At least one or two men in the war movies sleep with something that looks, even if it does not act, like a woman. These are generally portrayed as creatures whose minds are smaller than their vaginas. Although we are often exposed in the movies to the limits of their minds, we never actually see their vaginas. The men in the movies pretend their vaginas do not exist. One can surmise however that they must be robust for the men to be so interested in these insipid creatures during their inevitably brief appearances. It is either that or their shoes are too tight.

Apocalypse Now is the ultimate man’s movie. The plot is about a love affair between two men — a psychopathic, depressed, serial murderer and substance abuser who goes in search of another psychopathic, depressed serial killer (but alas not a substance abuser) and kills him; a war movie‘s version of orgasm.

Another notable feature of the movie is its emphasis on male speech patterns, or man-talk. Speech to a man is not an invitation to a dialog as it is with women but the declaration, in a simple laconic statement, of their world view at the moment as uncontested fact — even if no one else either agrees or has any idea what he is talking about.

For example, The Dennis Hopper character, a war photographer and to whom Captain Willard had just manly warned “You take my picture again I am going to kill you,”  asks Willard, who is tied up in a cage (SM alert), “Why would a nice guy like you want to kill a genius?”

Later he announces:

“The man is clear in his mind but his soul is mad.”

Robert Duvall portraying the surfing obsessed battlefield commander who loves waking up with the smell of napalm tickling his nostrils, after observing archly that “Charlie don’t surf,” comments:

“This war is run by four star clowns who are giving away the whole circus.”

Upon coming upon a platoon guarding a bridge at night during a particularly psychedelic fire-fight, Willard asks a one of the stoned platoon members, “Soldier who is in charge here?”  The soldier responds, “Ain’t you?”

“The horror. The horror.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

October 15: Feast Days and Holidays.
Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Hedwig of Silesia, Saint Thecla of Kitzingen. The Equirria or October equus, sacrifice of a horse to Mars. (Roman Empire). Global Hand-washing Day (International). Earliest day on which Sweetest Day can fall, while October 21 is the latest; celebrated on the third Saturday in October. (Great Lakes Region). White Cane Safety Day (United States).

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wants distribution of income to resemble the period from 1949 to 1979 rather than the period from 1980 to the present.
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B. Observations by Carroll Quigley:

“My experience and study of the destruction of civilizations and of the collapse of great empires has convinced me that empires and civilizations do not collapse because of deficiencies on the military or the political levels. The Roman army never met an army that was better than it was. But the Roman army could not be sustained when all these things had collapsed and no one cared. No one wanted to serve, no one wanted to pay taxes, no one cared.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”

(Are we repeating the Roman tragedy here in America, that we no longer care to pay taxes or serve because we are afraid it may benefit someone we do not like or fear?)

C. The Wit and Wisdom of Trenz Pruca:

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.”
http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Survival has never been a right… Survival has always been a matter of hard-earned elitism.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

“It’s a crying shame, yeah, so have a cry, feel ashamed and get over it. The rest of the week is coming on hard and its brakes are shot to hell.”
Burke, Declan. Eightball Boogie.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Claude Monet

 

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 PaPa Joe 0003 (October 15, 2014)

“Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.”

(Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human)

“Those periods in history when government disappears in favor of private organizations are usually called, ‘Dark Ages.’”
Trenz Pruca

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. CONTEMPLATING MY 75TH BIRTHDAY:

Today is my 75th birthday, at least here in BKK. It will not be so in NY where I was born until sometime tonight.

I spent the morning during my walk to breakfast, at breakfast, while swimming and at lunch, running through my mind various self-justifying stories about what the day means to me. I was going to write them down here because I thought some of them were pretty good. But, I’ll save you that pleasure. What really interests me today is Samuel Beckett. You know André the Giant’s friend who was so obsessed with cricket, – that Sam Beckett. (See Factoids below)

Well, Sam wrote a lot of books and plays when he was not driving André around or watching cricket matches. One novel in particular always fascinated me. It was about someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along until he bumps into something. This was all that the novel was about, all three hundred or so pages of it. I do not remember the name of the book. You can look it up.

Now, I know Beckett intended his story to explore solipsism (you can look that up too), a philosophy or view of life that fascinated him. But he was a storyteller and as I have pointed out previously one can never trust a storyteller, they always lie. The lies aside, what always interested me was that he was also wrong.

You see, even someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something is still a blood sack with a bunch of electrons floating around between neurons that have gathered from the environment various electrical and other forces, formed them into an image and then tells the blood sack what it is he is experiencing. Now, the deaf, dumb and blind someone without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along has no idea whether what he is being told is the truth or not. He may, actually, be floating through the air above a beautiful verdant landscape for all he knows. Something may be amiss among the neurons or they may just be playing with him. In fact, if he believes he is deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something, something is probably very wrong with his neurological machinery. Even if, in fact, he is deaf dumb and blind and slithering face down through a puddle of mud he may either panic and despair or laugh at the absurdity of it all. And, if the latter, he could then utter Reilly’s famous observation, “what a revolting development this is.”

Which brings me back to my 75th birthday. If you know who Reilly is, than you are probably at least as old as I am, and you know, as I do, that our “Use by” date is rapidly approaching.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have spent most of my recent spare time (spare time for me is time not spent in eating, exercising, walking about, sleeping and staring off into the distance) editing Quigley’s book “Weapons Systems and Political Stability” and preparing “Red Dawn” for publication. On the Quigley book, I have edited 500 out of some 1300 pages. After I complete the edits, mostly typo’s, paragraphing and some revising where the text has been garbled, I will then re-review it, put in some additional headings, decide how to handle the missing ending and write my forward. On “Red Dawn” I need to go back over it for continuity and write-up the final chapters.

I just went back over “Red Dawn” and found all my edits and formatting somehow disappeared. I don’t know why. Ugh..five weeks work wasted.

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Today was one of BKK’s hot stifling days.

I walked by the migrant worker housing site next to my apartment. It houses migrants from Cambodia or Burma, I do not know which. The homes are made of corrugated metal. There are two floors of flats with a person or family sharing a room, There is electricity to the rooms but no water.
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In the morning and the evening the residents gather beside two large rectangular concrete cisterns filled by a garden hose from somewhere. Here they bath in that wonderful way that they do, soaping, washing and drying themselves all the while wrapped in large colorful cloths and never showing their nakedness. Most of them are in their late teens or twenties, the men all boyishly handsome and the women slender and darkly beautiful. There are a lot of smiles but very little laughter.

It always strikes me as a beautiful and poignant scene as I walk by. I would like to take a photograph, but the Thais tell me it would be impolite and I am too shy to ask permission.

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

“For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures to be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years every justification of those structures have been developed by men to benefit men.”
Trenz Pruca

We often hear the slogan “The War on Women,” bandied about by those, on one side or the other, seeking political advantage. In fact, this war on women has been going on for over at least 5000 years. What we have now in politics in the United States and going on in the Near and Middle East is not so much a “War On Women” but a “War About Women.” Like it or not, those that continue to oppose the march of women to equality and more are faced with resisting one of the great turning points of human history.

About 10,000 years or so ago the Neolithic agricultural revolution got under-weigh. This new culture was unusual because it was centered on women. Women tilled the crops while men engaged in perfunctory hunting and caring for the few domestic animals available. The economic system, social system and the intellectual system for production of crops and production of children (workers) were considered under women’s control. This culture as far as we know was relatively peaceful. Derived from Mesolithic gatherers, it lacked the tradition of masculine violence and the need for war. These societies lasted for about 6000 years.

Eventually new technologies (e.g., the plow and animal husbandry) reduced the economic and social dominance of women and more warlike masculine hunting cultures ultimately moved in. Finally by about 3000 B.C, they had reduced women to the status of more or less chattel. A status that has lasted almost until the dawn of this century.

During the 1950’s or so, due to their greater longevity, wealth (not income) fell into the hands of women such that by some measures women held a greater overall percentage of the nation’s wealth than men. This did not help women much because that wealth was usually managed by men. Only a very few women had been able secure income and social status independent of male largesse.

Since then, technology, ideology and society have changed so that women have been able challenge dominance of men and begin to amass their own power and wealth as well as develop their own ideology. For example: in the conduct of war, because of computerization of many weapons systems, women have become as good as men in the science of killing and often better. In Kobane for example, the co-commander of the Kurdish forces defending the town from the forces of ISIL is a woman. Should they succeed in defeating the besiegers they may change the face of Near and Middle East society forever.

Also, in schools women are excelling and graduating in ever larger majorities. Even in such occupations that revel in male aggressiveness like derivative fund management, studies have shown that women run derivative funds substantially outperformed male run ones. To describe women as more risk averse than men as some studies do is unfair. It would be more accurate to say that they are simply less prone to periods insane irresponsibility than men.

Thus, about two decades ago after steady advancement of women since the 1940’s, the War About Women began in earnest. For example, I believe women’s excelling in school and scholarship encouraged, in part, the attack on schooling by the male dominated traditional religious denominations and conservative organizations.

In the Near and Middle East, it was not simply replacement of burka’s with Western dress, but the realization that these free and educated women inevitably would move into positions of economic independence and ultimately seek political power that they began to assume in the West that drove the reactionary mullah’s into a frenzy.

What is happening in the US and in the Near and Middle East is all about women and their destiny. Women stand at the threshold of real power, economic, social and intellectual and many men are afraid.

In the US the 2012 election was to a great extent about the future of lower middle and lower class white male privilege. 2014 is the first American election in which the issue is all about the attempts to halt and reverse the emerging and inevitable power of women.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

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

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

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…the three basic foundations of political democracy. These three bases are (1) that men are relatively equal in factual power; (2) that men have relatively equal access to the information needed to make a government’s decisions; and (3) that men have a psychological readiness to accept majority rule in return for those civil rights which will allow any minority to work to build itself up to become a majority.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Unless these three criteria are met, voting, even where the franchise is broad, does not mean a Democracy exists. And, without #3 voting is no more than a symbolic exercise.

TODAY’S CHART:
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I find this map fascinating for some reason.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Women at work. 1930.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Papa Joe 0003 (October 10, 2013)

“In my dealings with others, I always try to treat them better in person than I treat them in my mind.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthday Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Today was the first day I felt well since I arrived. I got up believing that things could not be better – a bad sign since by definition everything from that moment on had to be worse.

I sprang from my bed and began to exercise vigorously before the mirror. I have a theory that the more ridiculous your exercise movements appear, the better they are for you. Since I was exercising starkers that morning, they appeared ridiculous indeed. (Note: “starkers” means stark raving mad or stark naked or both.)

I left the apartment and headed off to breakfast. The sun was shining and sky was a clear blue. It was just warm enough to encourage a thin-film of sweat, not the mind numbing heat of a Bangkok afternoon.
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Street scene along the way to the health club.

As I walked along Soi Nana, I saw an ambulance pull over with – Heart Attack Emergency Response Unit – painted on its sides. It seemed that they were lost. One of the technicians leaned out of the window to ask directions from two passers-by. Each gave a different route. A lengthy discussion ensued. I listened for a while and then moved on leaving them to eventually find their way to the, I am sure, now deceased heart attack victim.

After breakfast, I went to the health club and paid the exorbitant $50 fee for one month’s membership in the decrepit facility. I complained and requested a discount. They refused but offered me free use of a locker for the month provided I supply my own lock.

After my swim, I walked with the old sailor/deep-sea diver back to his hotel which was on the way to my apartment. We talked about drugs and alcohol, their benefits and drawbacks. I found out that he had not been to the airport to see anyone off, but to meet me on my arrival. He said he knew how it was for someone to arrive alone at an airport after a long flight with no one to meet him.

I then continued on to my apartment and took a nap.

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On the fourth floor of the building in the photo is my apartment. It’s not much but I call it home. Under the small tree every evening one or two families, with infants in hammocks, roll out reed mats and have dinner together. I makes me very happy to see them.

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After breakfast at Foodland, on my way to the health club, I usually walk through a very dark alleyway I refer to as “The Tunnel.” It is about four feet wide with shops on each side and extends and entire block. Since my last visit here, several of the massage parlors, pachinko shops and the like have been converted to tiny bars. These bars are open and lively at 8 AM. Light in the alley is provided by the opening at each end, some dim fluorescence here and there and a few colored lights on the beer advertisements in the bars. As I walk through, I can barely make out the outline’s of women’s shapes and their teeth when they smile. The men, mostly westerners, eye me warily as though I may be a threat or something.

Oh, and of course there are the bodies – usually one or two – not dead I think, but sleeping or sleeping it off. They allow me to indulge in my Augustinian arrogance. You know, “There but for…”, well not Grace or God certainly. How about, “there but for the invisible hand and the vagaries of fortune go I.” That great invisible hand and luck could just as well exalt me to physical comfort and existential anguish, or drop me unconscious in the gutter. All praise the hand of the Lord.

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Most people walking past The Tunnel would think it dangerous, I imagine. But I have been walking through here for years now and the only things that have happened to me have been, now or then receiving a slap on the back by a guy inviting me for a drink or a woman emerging from the darkness, pressing her body against mine and saying “Welcome mister” or, “Hello Pa Pa.”

With a smile I politely turn them down — not because I have an ethical or moral objection to what they are offering but because underneath it all, I’m a snob.

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This is the entrance to Foodland. Inside is a supermarket, pharmacy and bank. Also, it contains a small counter service café where I eat my breakfast most days. For the price, I consider it one of BKK’s best restaurants.

As long as I am doing show and tell on my regular eating establishments, the following photo shows the sidewalk café where I often eat lunch.
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And this is where I eat dinner a lot. The waitress is a ladyboy with the body of a NFL linebacker who entwines orchids in her thick black hair and wears rhinestone encrusted platform high-heels.
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During my walks I often encounter the feral urban fauna of the City. Pigeons of course, but rarely on the street, too dangerous. I can, however, hear them cooing in the trees. Those little brown birds found in most cities flock around, wrens, starlings or something. Yeates would know. The ones in BKK look a bit greasy. The house next door to my apt has several large aviaries by the road containing Parrots that make a racket at certain times of the day.
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The mangy soi dogs don’t approach you as dogs usually do looking for a handout or a sniff of your crotch, but silently slink away if you pass too close to them. Cats, mean looking creatures, peek out at you from dark places or sun themselves on tiny unreachable ledges. Then, of course, there are the rats that scurry beneath your feet from crevice to hole as you walk by. Despite their meekness, I suspect the rats are the most sociable of the lot. They are certainly the most numerous.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

“One of the benefits of traveling to other societies is that we are free to apply our prejudices when we observe their culture.”
Trenz Pruca

1. Food exports

Today the Bangkok Post reported that Thailand has become the world’s greatest exporter of insects for food with most of it going to the US. Thailand has over 20,000 “insect” farms.

Among the many questions I have is, who is buying this food? I have not seen packages of Genuine Imported Thai Insects on the shelves of Safeway or Raley’s — Whole Foods perhaps?

Another question is why do we have to import insects? Don’t we have enough of our own? Do Thai insects taste better than American ones?

2. Tourist murder solved?

A few weeks ago two tourists were killed in Thailand. There were no suspects. About two days ago the Thai tourist industry announced that violence against tourist hurts the industry. Yesterday the Thai police continued their remarkable success in solving all high-profile crimes by announcing they apprehended the murderers of the two tourists – two Burmese immigrant teenagers who confessed to the crime.

And yes, not even the Thais believe it.

3. Hell, a Family Resort.

The newspapers today also reported that the City Fathers of Pattaya (sometimes referred to as “The Outskirts of Hell”) announced their intention to turn the City into a “family resort” notwithstanding its reputation for sex of all varieties, crime and corruption. Pattaya is owned by the Thai counterparts to the same type of organization that created Sin City in the Nevada desert and now also wants to convert it to a Family Resort. Pattaya which experiences the mostly unreported death of a westerner or tourist almost every week is mobbed up from the soles of the jack-boots of the lowest policeman to the toupee adorning the mayor’s head.

Of course I exaggerate, Pattaya cops do not wear jack-boots and I haven’t the slightest idea if the mayor even owns a toupee.

4. Eye of the beholder.

The military has set up a committee to draft a new Constitution for Thailand, a central element of which would attempt to eliminate corruption. By law the members of the committee have to disclose their wealth. To probably no ones surprise, among the wealthiest and by far the largest in number of millionaires on the committee are the generals appointed to sit on it. How you might ask does a public employee, which generals are, become millionaires while on the job?

Since, they are not required to disclose the sources of their income, one can be reasonably sure that whatever the regulations to control official corruption may be, they will not apply to the military. I am sure the generals believe that the sources of their wealth are natural, the result or operation of a gracious and beneficent invisible hand, and therefore necessary for a healthy national economy.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In most periods of human history, exploitation of natural resources to satisfy human needs could be achieved with less expenditure of energy and with less danger, even in less desirable territories. In other words, war has never been a rational solution for obtaining resources to satisfy man’s material needs. …
…But of course, men have never been rational. They are fully capable of believing anything and of adopting any kind of social organization or social goals, so that warfare became at least a minor part of life in most societies.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Me standing before the entrance to the site of the Temple of Diana in Nemi, Italy (1997). I had spent almost 30 years, on and off, searching for it and found it on this trip when Ruth pointed it out the first time we passed by. Of course, as usual in Italy, the site was closed that day and no explanation given.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Papa Joe 0003 (October 4, 2014)

“Today the absence of government simply means government by corporations.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthdays to Athena, Aaron and Anthony

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. TWO MOTT STREET BOYS ON A CART, CIRCA 1900
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

SWAC arrived this evening to assume my nanny duties. I continue preparations to leave. For some reason, I am more anxious about this trip than my previous ones. I have always believed that it is the surprises of travel, good or bad, that make it worthwhile. Too much planing raises expectations that are almost never met. Still, this time I worry whether I planned enough as I pack and unpack my little suitcase to make sure I have included everything I should.
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Well, today it rained slightly on the Golden Hills. Not much, just enough to smudge the dirt on the car’s windshield. Very little moisture made it to the ground but it seemed to have cleared the air of today’s load of ash and smoke.
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Early Sunday morning, I grabbed my two suitcases (mine, the light one, SWAC’s, the heavy one to be delivered to her brother in BKK) and my computer and set off for the train station. Dick drove me to the Sacramento. terminal. There I boarded the early train to SF.
Usually, the cars are mostly empty and finding a seat easy. This morning, however, I caught the 49ers game-day train and almost every seat was filled with maroon-shirted fans happily on the way to this afternoon’s game, many of whom were getting a strong start on the train version of a tailgate party. When we got to Emeryville and I had to change to a bus to cross the bay into San Francisco. It was filled with orange-shirted SF Giant baseball fans.
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B. Pookies Adventures in San Francisco

In SF I had lunch with my daughter-in-law Annemarie, grandsons Anthony and Aaron and the new grandparents Peter and Barrie Grenell at a Savor on 24th Street. Later we visited with my granddaughter Athena who was painting a mural at the Mission Street Fair.
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Peter, Anthony,Barrie, Aaron, me
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Amanda, Jason

For those interested, Anthony has just moved to Vallejo. Aaron has started two businesses, a catering business and a landscape business. Ann tells me he is depressed because at twenty-years-old, his life is not turning out how he expected. Athena wants to become an artist among other things. She also often participates in feminist rallies and hopes to attend one in Texas.
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Athena the muralist

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Pookie the muralist

Peter, besides his role as grandpa, now plays in four different bands and is looking forward to retiring from the harbor district next year.
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In the evening I had dinner with my son Jason, his wife Heromi and my granddaughter Amanda. Then it was off to the airport.

C. ALONG THE WAY

I had a long uncomfortable plane ride to BKK. As I was getting in my seat and checking things one last time, I realized that I had either lost or left at home the small bag holding my tooth-brush, shaving equipment and all my medicines. While trying to convince myself that I was not senile, terminally stupid or going to die a horrible death during on the flight, I spent the next twenty-seven hours, worrying, sleeping fitfully, eating far too much airplane food to be healthy and watching movies,

One of the movies was John Turturro’s wonderfully touching and comic Fading Gigolo starring Woody Allen as Murray an aging owner of a failed bookshop turned part-time pimp who is living with a black woman with four children one of whom has head lice. Murray persuades Fioravante (Turturro), a flower store employee, to service his beautiful, wealthy and married dermatologist and other lonely middle-aged women. The movie’s central story is a a semi-sweet but ill-fated and unconsummated love affair between the gigolo and the widow of the Rabbi of a highly orthodox community in Brooklyn beloved by a shomrin (look it up) named Devi.

I liked the movie since it reminded me of my singularly unsuccessful attempt, in Rome many years ago, to experience life as a gigolo. My only so-called success in that doomed attempt was due to the sympathy of an exceptionally kind woman named Mona. I think I may write a short story or a novella based on the escapade.
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Mona

D. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

After twenty-seven hours of traveling including stops in Hong Kong and Singapore (where I spent the wait-over encased in a mechanical foot massage machine provided free by the airport for foot weary travelers), I arrived in BKK. The Little Masseuse who unfortunately had gotten the time of my arrival wrong, had come and gone from the airport. Surprisingly, I was spotted by my friend from the health club the old sailor and deep-sea diver who had just seen a friend off. We shared a two-hour taxi ride from the airport. When I arrived at my apartment I went immediately to sleep and did not leave my bed all of the next day and night.

On the third day I tried to leave but was still not feeling well so I remained in the apartment. By the fourth day I had located a supply to replace my missing medicines so I ventured forth to breakfast followed by a haircut, shave, facial scrub manicure and pedicure before lunch and then returned to the apartment for a nap.

First photo’s from Thailand:

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Me strutting along Soi Nana

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LM at breakfast in Foodland.

E. CONTEMPLATION OF DEATH AND DYING

Having lost my bag containing my medicines as I mentioned, the next day during one of my brief periods of fretful wakefulness, I realized that it would be several days before I could reach my Doctor, get the names of my medicines, and buy them at a local pharmacy. This fact confirmed my belief that my imminent death was highly likely. So, in my quasi-somnolent state, I contemplated what a good death in Bangkok would be for me. In no particular order:

Lying on a massage table, my face in the hole drool dripping from the corner of my mouth. The masseuse has just finished massaging my feet and lower legs and is spreading oil on the inside of my thighs.

Swimming in the health club’s outdoor pool, I have just taken a breath, and glimpse, floating on the water, the multi-colored fabrics of the indian woman who had entered the pool, as they do, fully clothed. As I dip my head under the water and exhale, silver bubbles flow behind me. Through the crystalline turquoise water I make out the sun dappled bottom of the pool.

Walking near my apartment, the sun shining, I fall through the sidewalk into the foetid canal and sewer that runs beneath BKK’s streets and as the slimy grey green ooze reaches my neck, I happily expire.

At the supermarket in the basement of Robinson’s I lean over a display of freshly opened Durian. The King of Fruit’s aroma reminds me of unwashed 1000 year old feet. I take a deep breath.

In Terminal 21 on the fifth floor, I sit at a booth at Baskin and Robins’. What passes for a root beer float in the area now that A&W can no longer be found, stands on the table in front of me. I press the vanilla ice cream deep into the soda and watch the foam fill the glass almost to overflowing. I suck deeply on the straw to see if I can forestall the foam from sliding down the glass and on to the table.

I am sitting in my room watching a Thai soap opera on the television. LM sits on the floor eating fish heads and munching on some foul-smelling Thai vegetable. The beautiful but dense ingénue in love with the handsome, quite stupid but rich leading man had just come from being physically and verbally abused by her rival for affection of said stupid, handsome but rich young man, now confronts a production value deficient ghost and stands mostly mute and unmoving through two sets of commercials. I expire, probably more from terminal boredom than the lack of medicines. My head leans gently against the wall where I remain until a little after midnight when the late night slapstick comedy shows end and LM shuts off the TV and realizes I had not collapsed on to my rock hard bed and covered my head with a pillow as I usually do.

At a sidewalk restaurant I sit and observe the the hazy street life in front of me while I chew on the first bite of my lunch. Two ladies of the evening on their way for an early start pass by, one dressed in a tight tan mini-dress that barely reaches the tops of her thighs and the other in a similar red dress. I topple forward and my face plunges into my one dollar plate of pork fried rice.

Standing on the Sukhumvit Road overpass, by Soi Nana observing the stopped traffic below I glance to my right and spy the King of Beggars sitting at his usual post on the sidewalk his leg, amputated above the knee, extended before him. I call him the King of Beggars because he always sits at the prime street corner in the area, is well dressed with a north African style skull-cap on his head and, unlike the other beggars, he always eats his lunch at one of the regular restaurants near by. His face is dark tan, his hair white. Above his well-trimmed white mustache his eyes grey as storm clouds meet mine.

Of course, I could always be run over by a speeding motorbike taxi, but that is just as likely if I am fully medicated as not, perhaps even more so.

Note: for those who have read this far and found the above entertaining the rest of this note is not for you. For those concerned about the state of my health (mental or physical) please know most of the missing medicines are various prescribed vitamins. Pretty much the only concern was with the loss of my doctor prescribed happy pills. True, sudden termination of the pills can produce withdrawal symptoms that are pretty awful. Also, should I decide to replace the drug with something like opium, LSD or Oxycontin it could be more than simply life threatening. Nevertheless, the withdrawal, jet-lag and exhaustion did make me feel as though death would be a welcome improvement.

I eventually manage to score the appropriate drugs from the pharmacy in Foodland. Everything else is the lies I tell myself. Lying to oneself is necessary for survival. If not, how would anyone make it through puberty? The ability to lie to oneself is natures compensation to those she has cursed with consciousness.
F. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

On the television news today it was reported that the country is experiencing an infestation of rabid ants who invade houses at night, climb into the beds of those who had been eating in the bed and not cleaning up before falling asleep and attacking every orifice of that person’s body in a crazed search for food.

LM assures me that she knows of a friend of hers who was so attacked and had to be hospitalized. I did not get much sleep again last night.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

From Pookie’s 2012 write-in campaign for President:

While reviewing old issues of T&T, I came across the following plank from my aborted write in campaign for President in 2012. I thought it remains valid today (the savings may be larger today).

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

Pookie’s platform includes a minimum of $600 billion over the next 4 years in budgetary savings by immediately ending the following welfare programs:

1. Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies.

There appears to be no conceivable impact on the nation’s oil and gas supply by removing these subsidies. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $80 billion.

2. Deferment of Taxes on Income of US controlled Corporations Abroad.

This subsidy seems to have little public benefit and only encourages offshoring of American jobs. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $200 billion.

3. Accelerated Depreciation on Equipment:

This is most often used by companies to avoid taxation entirely. It should only be allowed (as it was originally) as part of temporary stimulus legislation to encourage companies to buy equipment during recessions. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $140 billion.

4. Deduction for Domestic Manufacturing:

This deduction is simply a direct subsidy to companies. It is welfare pure and simple and has no place in the tax code. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.

5. LIFO (Last in First Out) Accounting:

This is simply a method to hide true profits. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion

6. Agribusiness Welfare:

Another unnecessary welfare program. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion.

7. Allow Government to Negotiate Prices for Medicare:

A direct subsidy to providers. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.

8. Annual tax break for drug companies direct to consumer advertising:

Why should we pay for drug company marketing to us? Estimated savings over next 4 years: $20 billion.

I would require the resulting savings of about $125 billion per year to be set aside and used to reduce the National Debt in any year where the GNP (or another suitable measure of the economy and society) exceeds 2.5% in growth (minus inflation) for the year or used for non-tax reduction stimulus funding (e.g. public works), or safety net expenditures (e.g. extending unemployment benefits) when it falls below 2.5%.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility, and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
Carroll Quigley, Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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