This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Joseph 0006 (January 1, 2016)

 

“Friends don’t let friends measure Page Views. Ever.”
Avinash Kaushik
Happy New Year: May 2016 have left you with only a headache and not a heartache and 2017 be not as bad as many of us think it will be.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Treatment has begun to take on the feeling of a deadly boring job. Get up, off to work, come home and prepare for the next day, catch a few social interactions and some entertainment where one can.

HRM has settled happily into the Christmas dither, shopping for presents and planning the cake he intends to bake for us. I asked him what he would like for a present. He said, “A toy I can play with for a day and then forget.”
Magic Mouthwash

The week that began with great promise as to the course of my treatment came to a close with me feeling more like road kill. So, I complained to the hoards of technicians attending me at the hospital that I was beginning to question the value of experiencing the pain I was having balanced against the possibly living five more years or so. They gave me a prescription that I was to pick up the next morning at a pharmacy near the hospital.

The next morning, I arrived at the pharmacy and was given a bottle filled with a pink liquid. The medicine was labeled, “Magic Mouthwash.”

Now, I am of that generation where referring to something as Magic this or that was usually not medicine and certainly not approved by the FDA. In addition, this particular medicine did not come accompanied by those inserts containing, in small and unreadable print, descriptions and warnings about your purchase. Instead, it contained a one-page notice that read in part:

Uses: Consult your pharmacist.
How to Use: Consult your pharmacist.
Precautions: Consult your pharmacist.
Drug Interactions: Consult your pharmacist.
Side effects: Consult your pharmacist.
Overdose: Call 911 or local poison control center.

So, I asked the pharmacist. He took me into a corner and, sotto voce, rattled off several long GrecoRoman words representing the contents of the medicine. I gleaned there were a least two antibiotics and a pain control substance. The other two or three ingredients escaped me.

Anyway, I took the magic mouthwash with me to the hospital parking lot where, in my car, I poured the amount of liquid the pharmacist recommended into a small plastic cup and swished it around my mouth.

Suddenly pain shot through my entire body and everything went white. Sort of like what happens when one takes those magic potions that appear so prominently in the cheap fantasy novels I am so fond of reading. When my eyes cleared, I fully expected to see a few pixies tossing gold dust dancing in the car in front of me, a unicorn in the parking space beside me and Marley’s ghost. Instead, I found myself free of pain and washed in a warm comfortable glow.

So, I left the car, skipped through the rain and into the hospital to find the chief nurse of the Radiation Oncology Department.

She was in her office dressed in fuzzy antlers and Santa Claus cap and a dark green tunic covered in Christmas ornaments. “What do you know about “Magic Mouthwash,” I enquired?

The nurse is from England and speaks with a Cockney accent so thick that, at best, I could understand only every other word. She also refers to me as “my darling” instead of Joe, or Mr. Petrillo or even Pookie. “Oh that,” she responded. “That’s your doctor, Dr. Jones’, favorite potion.(yes she used that word).” “He and the pharmacist cooked it up for when the patients are experiencing too much pain.” She then listed the ingredients like the pharmacist did. This time I caught that one of them was a steroid. That, I thought, explained the skipping through the rain.

“Oh,” I said. “Uh, what about the FDA?”

“Don’t worry my darling, all the ingredients have been approved. They only mixed them together. The patients seem to like it a lot.”

“I can well understand that,” I responded.

 

A Christmas story:

Twas the night before Christmas. I had spent much of the day searching through Amazon for a book I could read that did not make me unhappy. You know, slightly better than trash but not enough content to engage my emotions. You would think Amazon would be full of such things. But, I have already read most of those remotely tolerable and the blurbs describing the content of the books I had not read pained my recently damaged gag reflex. So, I took a swig of Magic Mouthwash, forced myself out of bed and went searching the house for entertainment. Perhaps, I would surprise Santa Claus stealing Christmas presents.

When I was just a young nubbin at Christmas time, I would pray that the gathering of my family for that joyous holiday would not end in a drunken brawl. That prayer was never answered. I also prayed I would get a long list of presents that greed and an inflated sense of self-worth convinced me I was entitled. Alas, usually on Christmas morning, if even one item on my list appeared under the tree, I would be surprised indeed.

I believed that the only person roaming around the house from the time we all went to bed until I woke up in the morning and rushed to the tree to gather my loot was that fat, phony Santa Claus. The god’s of gift giving, I was positive, had heard my pleas but that corpulent poser had lifted the presents from my house, thrown them into his sleigh and along with his eight flying antlered rats whisked them off to the North Pole where he could spend the year playing with them.

I swore that when I became old enough I would buy a gun, secrete myself somewhere near the tree and when that red-suited miscreant exited from the fireplace shoot him right between his beady thieving eyes.

Alas, long before I was old enough to get a gun, I stopped believing in that villainous mercenary elf or that Christmas was all about me.

Now that I am older, I have a better understanding of what Christmas means — nothing in heaven or hell can stop members of a family from despising one another if they choose to and, you should consider yourself lucky if, in life, you get anything you wish for.
Stumbling into the new year.

Christmas came and went, obviously it is not my favorite time of the year. I think of it as the Donald Trump of holidays — all bluster and fraud.

After another week of treatment, the new year began. I had little to do this week but to travel back and forth to my treatments and obsess about them. This week I was alarmed and amused by their side effects. The information I had been given when I began this adventure listed a whole host of potential side effects up to and including sudden death. All of them, the materials assured, were expected to be experienced by only a small minority of patients. It has been my misfortune to have found myself experiencing to a greater or lesser degree a majority of them, two of which I have found to be both interesting and amusing.

The first was brief periods of confusion and memory loss similar to dementia. For a few days, I found myself having difficulty remembering almost anything or understanding what people were saying. I would sit at the table with a smile on my face listening to Dick talk about something and not understand a word. When it all passed and I thought about it, I was more amused than horrified. The experience was more like being a young child again wondering what was going on, sort of like that period between the first toke on a joint and the paranoia as the high begins to dissipate.

The second side effect I was warned about was the possibility of a rash covering parts of the head face or upper body and in rare cases all three. Alas, my face, head, and chest are now covered with something that looks like it falls somewhere between a bad case of teenage acne and smallpox. I am confident it has not progressed to the bubonic plague level because my pustules have not turned black and dripping bloody pus.

The explanatory materials state that the rash usually clears up in a week or two or shortly after treatment is terminated. In some cases, unfortunately, it is permanent. That, of course, got me thinking about becoming permanently disfigured and looking like some cinema monster. Now, for the young, attractiveness is something to be concerned about in that ceaseless search for sexual partners and also, because many studies have shown that in competing for a job where attractiveness and intelligence were measured, the more attractive but less intelligent usually got picked.

Since neither a job nor competitive sexual encounters are any longer an interest of mine, I thought this had interesting possibilities. To walk into a room and have it all go silent with someone moaning, “Oh my God” or being approached on the street by some kindly soul who would exclaim, oh, you poor man, I feel so sorry for you. I will pray for you,” and then walk on by, had some real potential for chasing away the doldrums of boredom.
All in all, except for becoming stone deaf, bleary eyed and losing my sense of taste and wallowing in a miasma of dyspeptic emotions, I am feeling pretty good.That is what a cocktail of Benadryl and steroids and can do for you. I believe I am gaining muscle mass on my hallucinations,
Like many, I am not all that optimistic for 2017. I came into this world in 1939, 77 years ago, while the winds of chaos blew strong around the world and the world as we knew it ended plunging us into a decade of misery and slaughter never before seen. Now those chaotic winds are blowing once again and stronger than ever. In 2017, I am afraid, we may experience other endings, of our nation, our world and of course me. It is great, I guess, to have lived one’s life in the golden age between two great tragedies, but not particularly satisfying. Perhaps I can content myself with contemplating Jasper Fforde’s question in Today’s Quote below — have I done anything vaguely useful in the time I have been around? Who knows? Perhaps more accurately, should I even care about that now?

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

He lay on his bed with the smartphone lit to his Facebook page. He typed in the words, “I refuse,” and sent it on to all his Facebook friends. Then he turned his face up towards the ceiling and screamed, “Eat your heart out Marcel.”

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Everything comes to an end. A good bottle of wine, a summer’s day, a long-running sitcom, one’s life, and eventually our species. The question for many of us is not that everything will come to an end but when. And can we do anything vaguely useful until it does?”
Fforde, Jasper. The Woman Who Died a Lot: A Thursday Next Novel (p. 2). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Another fact about Jesus and, for that matter, the Apostles is that they were not poor. They have educated members of the middle class and perhaps even the upper classes. Jesus father is described as a carpenter. This would indicate he was an artisan, a home builder and furniture maker and not a laborer. Jesus and his apostles included rabbis and temple priests. The tax collector (Matthew) could not have gotten his position without political connections. As such, they were fully cognizant of the various streams of intellectual and religious thought that permeated Galilee at the time.

Finally and importantly, Jesus was a Jew, a Hellenic Jew, But a Jew nevertheless. He never said or even hinted at the creation of a new religion. As a Hellenic Jew, like Hillel and other great rabbis, he believed there was a meta-concept that transcended and unified the Law.

So, now that brings us to Big Paulie, or Don Paolo as I like to refer to him.

Categories: January through March 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 32 Pookie 0005 (December 18, 2016)

“Sex is a bit like scratching a rash — it’s nice when you stop.”
Taylor, Jodi. Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary’s Book 1) Accent Press.

 

To all:
Have a: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Sexy Saturnalia, Fun-filled Festivus, Carefree Kwanzaa, Yowling Yalda Night, Silly Shalako, Daring Dongzhi, Crazy Korochun, and of course, Zinger of a Ziemassvētki. (And don’t forget to celebrate Boxing Day.)

Today is a free day on my calendar. So, you may do whatever you like, but please be careful.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

For those who find themselves at a point in their lives in need of being amused by what little it takes to amuse them (usually surprisingly little if my experience means anything), I suggest reading the Jasper Fforde’s (yes, someone actually named their child, Jasper, — but I assume that would only be in families that spell Ford with two f’s) Thursday Next series of novels beginning with The Eyre Affair wherein Thursday provides the novel Jane Eyre with a better ending.

As the above rococo sentence shows, the winter rains have come to the Golden Hills, driving me inside with little to do except read third rate novels and contemplate the absurdities and emptiness of life’s purpose. Most days, Dick is at work, HRM at school and the dogs butt sniffing somewhere in doggy heaven. As a result, I, lacking a hobby or interest in social networking beyond Facebook, sit at the kitchen table trying to run through a book a day. Not all my reading consists of third-rate fantasy. The novels of the aforementioned Jasper double F struggles to rise above that classification. In fact, in style and inventiveness, he soars far above his peers. One would understand why once one realizes that all that he has written but for the redoubtable Thursday Next series, have been children’s books and as we all know the best writing and literature in the past fifty years has come in books for children. Imagine, if Dr. Seuss had decided to write a book of modern poems to add to his oeuvre, he would most likely have been ranked with Swinburne, Dunn and Bob Dylan as among the greatest poets in the English language.

As some of you who avidly read my posts may recall a quote I posted from one of Mr. Fforde’s previous novels that began:

“I opened the door to find three Dostoyevskivites staring at me from within a dense cloud of moral relativism.”
Book World from Jason Fforde and Thursday Next or the one thereafter.

And, continued with three or four paragraphs of the finest literary high-jinks this side of James Joyce.

In the novel I am now reading he opines:

“Working in fiction does give one a somewhat tenuous hold on reality, but it’s not the hold that’s tenuous— it’s the reality: Which reality? Whose reality? Does it matter anyway? And will there be cake?”
Fforde, Jasper. The Woman Who Died a Lot: A Thursday Next Novel (pp. 32-33). Penguin Publishing Group.

In the most recent book, the redoubtable Thursday Next, her husband Landon, her children Tuesday, (a teenage genius with hormonal problems who charges the boys in her school one pound [The author os British after all] to see her titties) and Friday, (barely post-adolescent frustrated when his future reveals that instead of a world renowned hero he is slated to murder Tuesday’s boyfriend and spend most of the rest of his life in prison) and her imaginary daughter Jenny, outsmart God, the Goliath Corporation, and her nemesis Jack Schitt and save the world. All of this mind you while settling into her new job as chief librarian of the Swindon All-You-Can-Eat-at-Fatso’s Drink Not Included Library.

 

B. CHRISTMAS SEASON 2016 — TOPPLING TREES AND SUPER GLUE.

One afternoon we arrived home to find our fully decorated Christmas tree lying on its side amidst a splatter of broken ornaments and spruce needles. Dick the engineer hypothesized that the tree, despite out heroic endeavor three days ago to balance it properly, was, in fact, unbalanced and it took the tree this long to realize it. So, we lifted up the tree, rebalanced it, placed additional weights on the bottom, redecorated it with the remaining ornaments and hoped for the best.

On Saturday, a day of horrendous rain and fog, HRM happily announced he was going out to play in the rain. Noticing one of the eyelets in his boots was detached he decided to reattach it with superglue before flitting about in the rain. As misadventure would have it, rather than attaching the eyelet to the boot he managed to glue both his own eyes shut. HRM, Dick and I, then spent the next eight hours in the emergency rooms of two separate hospitals where the doctors worked to unstick his eyelids. One of the doctors, who was quite amused by it all, took me aside and asked, “We see this a lot, where children [usually in the 3 to 6-year range] glue one eye shut with super glue, but we have never seen anyone who managed to glue both eyes shut. How did he do this?” “HRM,” I responded, “is a very special child.”

WWE blew in from SE Asia in concern for the welfare of her progeny and then promptly refused to accompany him to the ophthalmologist claiming she had more important things to do.

The first week of therapy has ended. I now have great admiration for those who have courageously faced much more severe illness and aggressive therapy. True I am a wuss, but nevertheless, it thoroughly exhausted me. Thanks to the kindness of Stevie and Norbert, it was not a bad as I feared.

Today I set off for the beginning of my second week of therapy. I was looking forward to it. That is very weird.

 

C. BOOK REPORT: TIMBUKTU — TAHIR SHAH

Ok, I admit I have been on somewhat of a Tahir Shah binge read for a while now. As you know, he usually writes about his own, mostly inept, adventures searching the nether parts of the world for imaginary places of legend and, of course, to his great disappointment and no one else’s surprise not finding them. In this book, a novel, he writes about the adventures of another person Robert Adams, an illiterate American seaman who in 1815 was shipwrecked off the African coast enslaved, taken to Timbuktu, the first westerner in 400 or so years to see the place. There he becomes a guest of the ruler of the city until he is enslaved again, dragged back across the Sahara where he is rescued by a French diplomat from Morocco who pays his slave price. After spending 3 years as a slave crisscrossing the Sahara before his rescue, he finally boards a ship to return him to America. Alas, he has shipwrecked again this time in England, where he becomes a beggar until he if found by an English nobleman who introduces him to an African Explorers Association where he tells his story and publishes a book giving him enough money to return to the US. This much is more or less true.

In Tahir Shah’s hands, this story becomes a historical novel, an adventure story, a satire, a polemic on slavery, a thriller, a detective story, a Victorian (well actually Regency) romance and as many other genres as can be mashed together in a single book. We meet the looney Prince Regent, Byron, Insane George III, Ambassador John Quincy Adams and just about everybody who was anybody in London at the time. It was all great fun.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Foreskin — Foreskin restoration dates back to the reign of Emperor Tiberius when surgical means were taken to lengthen the foreskin of individuals with either a short foreskin that did not cover the glans completely or a completely exposed glans as a result of circumcision. In classical Greek and Roman societies, exposure of the glans was considered improper and did not conform to the Hellenistic ideal of gymnastic nudity. Men with short foreskins would wear the kynodesme (a string that ties the inadequate foreskin together above the Glans then secured around the waist) to prevent exposure. As a consequence of this social stigma, an early form of foreskin restoration known as epispasm was practiced among some Jews in Ancient Rome. During World War II some European Jews sought foreskin restoration to avoid Nazi persecution.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI

A continuing exchange of views on previous T&T Post:

Ruth’s Comment:

“Hey Guys, you forgot Life with Luigi. My favorites, however, were Baby Snooks, Junior Miss, the Lone Ranger, and Sergeant Preston. Not soaps, except for Luigi, but “tune in next week….”

My Response:

While I listened to Life with Luigi, I could never warm up to this little, warm, dumb, mother obsessed Italian male with a pencil thin mustache. I was glad when we were allowed to graduate to Gangster-hood.

My evening radio diet began with Bobby Benson and the B Bar B Riders and continued, in no particular order through The Lone Ranger ( which until much later I thought was the Long Ranger and contemplated the meaning of that for several years), Allen’s Ally, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, The Shadow and The Green Hornet among others. When the music and the creaking door for Suspense Theater came on, I would shut off the radio and hide under the covers. I had a lot of nightmares.

My mornings started with Arther Godfrey, then Our Gal Sunday (could she really find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman? I doubted it), Helen Trent, Our Miss Brooks, Young Doctor Malone, and finally The Guiding Light. Then for about an hour, I would read the Colliers Encyclopedia that my parents were conned into buying by a door to door salesman. Later, I would leave the house because both my parents were working and walk across town to the library where I would read books from the adult section until the librarian would catch me and direct me to the children section. At that time Stevenson, Poe, and Dumas were considered adult books.

As you probably surmise, I rarely went to school, feigning sickness so that I could listen to my favorite radio shows. I was lucky I tested so well or they would have thrown me out of grammar school.

What still amazes me is that no-one at that time in that town thought it odd that a seven or eight-year-old boy would walk alone across town during a school day. HRM is eleven years old and we still do not allow him to walk alone through town. Not that he particularly wants to.

Peter’s Comment:

“I don’t recall Luigi – cultural blackout. But don’t forget The Second Mrs. Burton. Yes re: Fanny Brice, Sgt. Preston and the Lone Ranger. And, of course, The Fat Man: He’s stepping on the scale; weight (whatever it was); fortune-Danger!

I’ll be in the rocker at the end of the veranda, past the nod-outs, chuckling to myself as I quietly but firmly subdue the impulse to drool.”

My Response.

Damn, I forgot The Fat Man (237 pounds — audio of shows https://archive.org/details/otr_fatman),  The Second Mrs. Burton and Sgt. Preston (On King on you Husky) they were also favorite not to be missed shows. Why o why have they gone from us?

Peter’s Response:

“Rampant pathology hadn’t quite arrived yet in those days — at least not in our part of town. I used to take subway and bus across town to school without incident. The 25 percent who walked the streets talking to themselves were in their own worlds. Never actually saw a zip gun. Learned to look sharp and run fast.

He WAS the Long Ranger!! Tonto and Kato used to work out at the Polo Grounds when the Giants had away games. The Shadow did. And Gangbusters was heard with radio hidden under the covers. Dana Carvey and Mike Meyers weren’t born yet. Calcium deposits hadn’t started building up yet. So it goes.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The more flesh, the more worms,”
Rabbi Hillel

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

This is a continuation of a post I began a long time ago.

The First Centuries.

Galilee was a hotbed of religious ferment and cross-cultural interactions. It was also a center of Hellenic Judaism. Hellenic Judaism was common from Egypt through central Turkey. To the Hellenic Jews, ’Ḥoni’ became ‘Menelaus’; ‘Joshua’ became ‘Jason’ or ‘Jesus.’ The Hellenic influence pervaded everything, even in such strongholds of Judaism as Jerusalem. It modified the organization of the state, the laws, and public affairs, art, science, and industry, affecting even the ordinary things of life and the common associations of the people. The inscription prohibiting strangers to advance beyond a certain point in the Temple was in Greek and was probably made necessary by the presence of numerous Jews from Greek-speaking countries at the time of the festivals (see the “murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews,” Acts VI. 1). The coffers in the Temple which contained the shekel contributions were marked with Greek letters (Sheḳ. III. 2). It is, therefore, no wonder that there were synagogues of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Asiatics in the Holy City itself (Acts Vi. 9).

Hellenic Judaism produced the Septuagint in Egypt and influences Rabis like Hillel and his supporters. Jesus himself spent time preaching in the Hellenic cities of the Decapolis. Hellenic Judaism sought a more philosophical rationale for Judaism than simply reliance on interpretations of the law. They were not averse to bringing non-Jews into their congregation. In fact, they developed the seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated as follows:

Do not deny God.
Do not blaspheme God.
Do not murder.
Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.
Do not steal.
Do not eat from a live animal.
Establish courts/legal system to ensure obedience to the law.

During this period many, Hellenic Jewish leaders and the Jesus sect in Jerusalem argued for allowing membership of non-jews into the congregation if they commit to following the Noahide laws.*

*Note: 1. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation speaking of “the historical tradition of ethical values and principles, which have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws, transmitted through God to Moses on Mount Sinai.”

2. Also, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, more or less, agree with all these laws. All they disagree about is what they call God (Yahweh, Alla, and God) and who is the boss on earth. I am sure the Supreme Being has more important things to do than care about what name you use for him. Then that leaves only “the boss” to argue over. Isn’t that always what it is all about? Everyone either wants to be the boss or for their boss to be the big boss (otherwise they will put into for transfer),

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

IMG_2563

 

IMG_2565_2

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

“Err on the side of messiness. Sorting something that you will never search is a complete waste; searching something you never sorted is merely inefficient.”
Christian, Brian; Griffiths, Tom. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions. Henry Holt and Co.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SON JASON.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Article from KOZT Calendar of Community Events Mendocino:

“Death Cafe Ukiah

“Join with other community members at the Ukiah Community Center over tea and refreshments to talk about a subject that many find awkward or uncomfortable: Death and Dying. Adults and teens alike are invited to the comfy, confidential setting. The Death Cafe meets on the first Saturday of each month. Donations requested to cover expenses only.”

On Tuesday, they removed five teeth from my mouth, loaded me up with Hydrocodone and urged me to refrain from driving for a few days. The next morning, I drove to my sister’s house in Mendocino. The weather at the coast was cool and overcast with light sprinkles of rain falling now and then. I happily ensconced myself on the sofa by the large floor to ceiling windows through which I could see the gray and white ocean pulsing beyond the trees. I was as happy sitting there all day as I could possibly conceive of being anywhere.

On Thanksgiving, Maryann and George had another couple over for dinner. I was reduced to eating only soft mushy things in order to avoid the risk or reopening the wounds in my mouth — mashed sweet potatoes, yogurt, pumpkin soup and the soft stuffing. I prattled on with stories about New York teenage gangs of the 50s, mobsters I have known, and family oddities until even I was bored and so I excused myself and went to bed.

Saturday the rains stopped briefly and a wonderful rainbow appeared. I read two books that day while sitting on my favorite sofa.
IMG_2533

In the evening, I would watch episodes of Game of Thrones on HBO and marvel at the high production values and consistency despite the number of different directors it took to film the series. Of course, as the series successfully progressed more money was available for lighting, lavish sets and the like but the style and values remained high. I did notice the costumes changed from traditional replicas of medieval garments to more fashionable designs, like Prince Oberon’s (The Red Viper) flowered yellow Chesterfield, Jamie Lannister’s bitching leather jacket with offset lapels and Daenerys Targaryen’s skin tight white culottes under a flimsy split front blue dress.

Then it was time to leave. On Monday as I drove home, I stopped and strolled through Hendy State Park, an unlogged redwood grove about a half a mile off route 128 in Philo. For those who have never walked through a redwood grove, the first thing you are aware of is the silence, The sounds of wind, or cries of birds, or rustle of animals seems as though they have been swallowed up into the stillness. Then, you notice the massive tree trunks standing among the sorrel and ferns, the only undergrowth surrounding them. Your eyes are drawn upward until, through the gloom, the branches high above spread their greenery to catch the sun. Redwood groves are often described as nature’s cathedrals and like cathedrals, you first notice the silence and emptiness before the glories of the sculpted columns and the chromatic splashes of sunlight from the windows suddenly spring to life — like that first moment of stillness before the organist crashes his opening chord.
IMG_2554

 

B. BACK AMONG THE GOLDEN HILLS:

Attending to the administrative details of my treatment and bouts of depression have driven me to mope around the house. The second of our two dog’s, Pepe, has had to be put down. I feel very bad for Dick. Although I bought Pepe as a gift, 15 years ago, Dick has cared for it for most of the time since then. Nevertheless, even at his advanced age, tending to Pepe while Dick was away at work was a pleasant way to break the monotony of life in EDH. Looking after HRM, my other happy diversion has diminished somewhat since he entered middle school and begun his long transition from family dependency to peer group politics. As a result, I have found myself alone and bored. My sister suggests I join the local senior center and take up Pickle Ball. I would prefer to find a dark seedy bar in which to spend my evenings. Alas, this is EDH, seediness in not allowed — at least in public. So maybe it is Pickle Ball by default.

 

C. GOOD NEWS — BAD NEWS:

Good news: My cancer has not spread to other parts of my body. Bad News: I have cancer.
Good News: It is a type with a high rate of cure. Bad News: Donald Trump is going to be President.

 

D. SAD NEWS:

My sister’s son Brendan Dreaper and his friend Ashley Valdez planned to attend the concert at the site of the “Ghost Ship Fire” with a number of friends, including the members of the band Introflirt that Brendan was managing. Instead, they opted to spend the weekend with my sister in Mendocino. At least 5 of their friends died in that horrendous fire including members of the band. There is little one can do but mourn and remember those that died. For those, like Brendan and Ashley, left behind to grieve the loss of their friends my heart goes out to them.

In a Facebook Post, Brendan wrote in memory of his friends:

We are overwhelmed with deep sadness. The Oakland Ghost Ship fire claimed many beautiful lives. Among them were our friends, colleagues, and artists; Travis Hough of Ghost of Lightning and Nicole “Denalda” Renae and Ben Runnels of Introflirt.

Mixtape Artist Management welcomed Travis into our family in the summer of 2016. Always a pleasure to work with, Travis’ spirit and creativity brought light into every interaction.

By day, Travis was an expressive arts therapist, dedicating his time and energy to helping children in the East Bay community. Travis created his musical project, Ghost of Lighting as a means of exploring and understanding his own psyche. He believed that healing through music is not only possible, but also necessary, and shared that belief with others in everything that he did.

Introflirt also joined the Mixtape family in the summer of 2016. They dubbed their sound “croonwave” and made it their mission to create a “soundtrack for the insecure.” The band believed in creating spaces where being an outsider actually meant being an insider, where insecurities were transformed into strengths. Their songs invited listeners to celebrate their individuality and both Ben and Nicole exhibited fierce individuality and creativity both on and off the stage.

We will miss Travis, Nicole, and Ben terribly and know that there are so many people that they touched, both personally and through their music, who will miss them as well.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Because my rendition of my favorite era’s of history (especially the First Centuries) has gotten exceptionally long and idiosyncratic (boring), I have moved it to the end of the post.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“The world’s most difficult word to translate has been identified as ‘Ilunga,’ from the Tshiluba language spoken in south-eastern DR Congo.… Ilunga means ‘a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.’”
—BBC NEWS

I hereby promise everyone hereinafter I will Ilunga them. … Somehow that does not sound right.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Dialogue on Top:

An imaginary dialogue between a young person with ambition and an older person with experience:

Young Person asks— “Do you have any pointers you can give me?”

Experience Person responds — “Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.”

YP — “Please explain.”

EP — “You’re young you still have that sparkle in your eye that drive to go out and save the day and let the rest sort itself out. But when you think like that, people can take advantage. Employers want your services. Agents want a cut of your pay. Companies want you to sell their products. If you’re not careful, you give yourself away for less than you’re worth. You trust people who you shouldn’t. You play with fire, and you get burned.”

“That’s my advice to you, ‘Don’t get burned.’”

YP —I was more looking for things like keys to advancement.”

EP — “Oh … that. Just survive. Live through enough experiences, and you’ll advance. For an intelligent and smart person with your kind of background, that’s the easy part. But if you do that long enough, eventually you learn that your job isn’t about being self-sufficient or doing the right thing. Really, we just do what we do for money. And when that finally starts to sink in, you face the hard part of professional life: the big questions.”

YP —“The big questions?”

EP —“Yeah. Is there more to life than just advancement and looting? Are we more than just numbers in some accountants ledger, statistics written on our resume? And the big one, the one that haunts you every night on the job: Why are we doing this anyway?”

( Adapted from Orconomics: A Satire [The Dark Profit Saga Book 1] by J. Zachary Pike. Gnomish Press LLC.)

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

All stories have at their heart either a great truth or a great lie. The better the story the less we can tell which one lies at its heart.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Ends
On worried wings
he softly sings
of dreams of fire
and ghostly things
with deep desire.

He cries in vain
though woes remain
beneath the sun
he feels the pain.

Without desire
for those things
he banks his fire.
Burned wood sings
through smokey wings.

Without such pain
beneath the sun
the coals remain.
He cries in vain.

 

C. Some Comments on Previous T&T Post.

Peter.

This T&T is brilliant. Perhaps the diagnoses, prognosis, and specialists’ joy in rambling on with their shoptalk, coupled with the political horror and, lastly, the unnerving implications of oral sex, resulted in unanticipated flashes of insight, eloquence, and dreariness, leavened only by med-promises of endless joyful pharmaceuticals.

Finished The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Thanks for the tip. Marvelous! Vivid enough to spur memories of sights, smells, and the incredible human comedy that is India. Shah certainly traveled rough. I recall my first trip when I traveled third class when I wasn’t hitchhiking. Anyway would be, and was an experience, but he really appears to be an intrepid adventurer. After your description of the Peru trip, I really wonder about this guy. Gotta read that book and see the film.

Just heard the following via Barrie from Facebook:

A plane encountered trouble and was going to crash. There were four passengers and only three parachutes. The first passenger was Stephen Curry of the Warriors, who identified himself and said his team needed him, and he took the first parachute and jumped out. The second passenger was Donald Trump, who said he was the new president and the smartest president and the people needed him, and he took the second parachute and jumped. The third passenger was the Pope, who said to the fourth passenger, a 15-year-old boy, that he was old and had little time left, and told the boy he should take the remaining parachute. The boy replied, “There’s a parachute for you, too. Trump took my school bag.”

As to what Aristotle said, such is karma and definition of neurosis or insanity.

Yes, those First Centuries are fascinating. I remember taking a class in college in my senior year (by that time I was a philosophy major, a fitting end after engineering, physics, history and pre-med), from a guest professor from OSU about that period. Your listing of the Judean factions and their scab-picking and worse animosities highlights the risks and limitations of ancient high-density village-level living. We didn’t have that sort of problem in our 13-story Manhattan apartment house (it said 14 because they were afraid to call the top floor 13 – pitiful), though; people left each other alone; like walking down the street and avoiding eye contact, a standard NYC street-smarts item to dodge the loonies and aggressive.

Don’t forget the Manichaeans and the Gnostics. I don’t think we had any Manicheans or Gnostics in my building; we were too busy running down the stairs racing the elevator to the ground floor to be concerned about competing belief systems. A Gnostic or two would have been fun- this, the insight of decades of reading, travel, and exposure to really good comedians.

Today we are preparing for a non-turkey repast with a former colleague/friend and spouse who live on a boat in South San Francisco. I thought they might want to stretch their legs a bit.

Regards to Maryann and George from us.

As Bob and Ray would perhaps have said if they were with us today, “Write if you get work, hang by your thumbs, and make sure those medicos fork over the drugs.”

My Response.
Hi,
I do not know if I responded yet. I’ve been bouncing between false euphoria and dark depression as I deal with doctors, administrators and insurance companies. I’ve gotten five teeth pulled and a load of drugs but no treatment yet.

Check Tahir Shah’s family. Talk about high performers. A famous Sufi scholar Idres Shah was his father, one sister is a filmmaker and the other a journalist.

I forgot to mention, probably the only people who receive T&T old enough to know who Bob and Ray were are you, Ruth and me.

Peter Again.

False euphoria beats a blank.

So, B&R might close with “write if you get more good drugs and don’t chew on your tongue while you search for lost teeth.” As for Mary Backstage Noble Wife, instead of hailing from a little mining town out west, perhaps she really hailed from a broom closet behind the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier, in constant hiding from being dragooned into attending interminable Coastal Commission hearings while dreaming of finally meeting up with Henry Morgan and fleeing to Wrigley’s Catalina mansion for salubrious joy to the tune of endless Bobby Darrin songs.

So the Shah family is a bunch of over-achievers. I’m exhausted considering the possibilities. Question: Do Sufi twirlers ever get dizzy?

MY RESPONSE.

Oh, by the way, I was also a fan of Helen Trent — “Can a successful and accomplished business woman over the age of 35 find love and happiness?” Alas, she never did —perhaps if she hung out at the Santa Monica pier she would have.

And for all those who expresses their concern and best wishes for my health, thank you.
 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_2548
THE FOUR GENERATIONS: my father Jack, grandfather Joe, son Jason and I.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

This is a continuation of the First Centuries saga, 300 BC to 300 AD, I began many issues of T&T ago.

JESUS

Of all founders of great religions in history, Jesus may be the least significant to the system of belief created in his name.

The reason for this is not because some historians question his existence since there is no independent corroboration of it in contemporary sources who were not members of his sect. This lack of independent historical corroboration is not unusual for supposed founders of religion. There is none for Moses, Abraham or David and supposed creators of other great religions that exist today. Perhaps the one we have the most independent corroboration about before modern times is Mohamed. Among the facts that support this conclusion is that although we have independent knowledge of people who were his contemporaries that the New Testament claimed he knew, like John the Baptist and James the Just these sources do not mention Jesus. Also, Galilee was known for its “miracle workers” some of whom were named in independent texts and Jesus was not.

On the other hand, besides the similarity with other religious founders and that his ministry was relatively brief we do have some documents from which his existence can be inferred, although it is, as I have written, quite unimportant from a historical perspective whether he lived or not.

Within 10 to 15 years after his supposed death on the cross and before the first written biography, the Gospel of Mark, one list of the documents written about him include:

30-60 Passion Narrative
40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
50-60 1 Thessalonians
50-60 Philippians
50-60 Galatians
50-60 1 Corinthians
50-60 2 Corinthians
50-60 Romans
50-60 Philemon
50-80 Colossians
50-90 Signs Gospel
50-95 Book of Hebrews
50-120 Didache
50-140 Gospel of Thomas
50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
50-150 Apocalypse of Adam
50-150 Eugnostos the Blessed
50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
65-80 Gospel of Mark
70-100 Epistle of James

This list shows a lot was written about Jesus within the first two to three decades of his supposed death, not all of which made it into the Bible, and that they were authored as far away from Jerusalem as Egypt, Macedonia, and Rome. The first three entries on the list, if their order and early dates are accurate indicate: that within a few years of the event someone named Jesus died on a cross between two thieves; that he proclaimed a number of sayings that appear later in the Gospels, and; within a decade or two of his supposed death a significant —gathering of the cult existed as far away as Macedonia. While this certainly is not proof, it is enough to continue this discussion as though he did exist although, as I said, it is not very important. Another noticeable thing about the list is the number of documents written by Paul, which is important and which I will get to soon.

One of the most consequential things to remember about Jesus, whether he existed as a person or an idea, is that he came from Galilee and not Jerusalem.
(to be continued)

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

“We are what we repeatedly do.”
Aristotle
HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

First, I learn that my body has turned against me. Then, my country went insane. It was not a good beginning to the week. So, I overdosed on valium and crawled into bed hoping I could escape into my fantasy world. No such luck. I could not sleep. For the remainder of the week, I refused to read a newspaper, open either my computer or cell phone or look at television. I did sober up one day and slip out of my room to see a movie, Dr. Strange. I thought it was appropriate.

The next week, I was forced to leave the house and begin the rounds of the specialists who poked and prodded me, stuck needles in several different parts of my body and rammed hoses down my nose and my throat while they rambled on with happy talk punctuated with brief descriptions of the pain I would suffer from the treatment they were so eager to provide me.

I tried to get my mind around why, at my age, I would want to submit myself to all that for the sole purpose of living a few extra years reading second-rate novels while I slowly lose my hearing, sight and mind anyway. I mean, it is not as though I am looking forward to the glories of a Trump presidency or watching the Bay rise to cover the Embarcadero or even the possibility of a 49r Super Bowl.

But they, the doctors, the specialists, five so far, whose separate offices are spread across the Great Valley, all seem to be excited about the coming battle. I think the cure may be more important to them than it is to me. They happily croon of the high probability of success and boost my morale by pointing out that the treatment I will go through is far less painful and demeaning than experienced by others with much more severe malignancies. I respond, that I am a hypochondriac, a coward, have an unbelievably low threshold of pain and begin whimpering when I drive by a hospital. I also pointed out I am a depressive held together with massive amounts of happy pills. They counter with promises of an unlimited supply of drugs of my choice to keep me pain-free and happy.

Amusingly, I guess, my problems with my throat and tongue they tell me are caused by HPV. It seems women relatively often develop cervical cancer from this form of STD. “But,” I told the doctor, “I haven’t gone down there in many years.” He explained that it can take 30 years or so for the tongue and throat cancer to develop. I thought this was a rather sad fact to contemplate. Even pleasure can be deadly. In my last T&T, I pointed out that shark bite causes fewer deaths than vending machines. Now I discover that oral sex is even more deadly than those predatory machines. Sometimes I read SciFi novels about humans who land on another world only to find the flora and fauna there to be deadly to humans. It seems as though we do not have to travel to distant planets to find that danger. Here on earth, it appears that just about anything can kill you, especially members of your own species and the machines they create supposedly for your convenience.

On a lighter note, after dropping HRM off at school in the mornings as I drive to Bella Bru for breakfast, I top a rise in the landscape that exposes a magnificent view of a huge stretch of the Great Valley (the Central Valley). For some quirky reason, much of human development disappears from view and I imagine it appears as it did to the indigenous peoples of the area or the first invaders from the East, vast and empty. I often wonder what those invaders from the East, the American so-called settlers thought when they saw what appeared to be that vast emptiness spread out below them. Certainly not simply a potential homestead and the romance of a new life, but also, and more likely, given the reasons for their migration, something that can be cheaply exploited, like a lion topping a hill and seeing what appears to be unlimited herds of gazelles grazing on the grass below.

The cold weather and rains have moved into the Golden Hills ending my swimming for the year and forcing us to spend more time in the house. It is Thanksgiving week vacation for HRM and he remains bubbly and bored spending more time on his computer than is probably good for him. Dick is occupied with caring for the dog, Pepe, who clearly has only a few days or weeks to live. It will be hard for him when the dog dies. I think he has been closer to it than to any person in his life. I, on the other hand, content myself with reading and drifting off to sleep and my dream life. I plan to spend the holidays in Mendocino with my sister. Nikki flies in to entertain HRM and Dick, I suppose, will get on with his grieving.
IMG_2527_2
Twilight in the Golden Hills

B. MORE FROM TAHIR SHAH:

Pasted Graphic
Paititi

In previous issues of T&T, I have discussed a few of the books by travel writer Tahir Shah. They generally discuss Mr. Shah’s low cost, somewhat bumbling and humorous expeditions to locate non-existing or mythical places or people — King Solomon’s Mine’s, the Gonds of Gondwana Land, Indian magicians and most recently the last refuge of the Inca’s, Piatiti in the Madre de Deus cloud forest of Peru. I thought his inept explorations, often relying on the stories of odd individuals he meets along the way, were literary devices intended to make his obviously humorous travelogues more interesting. However, in doing some background research on the most recent of his works I am reading, The House of the Tiger King, I am no longer so sure about that.

In the book, Tahir is accompanied by a Swedish father and son team of documentary filmmakers, their backer, a mysterious Ukrainian banker named Yuri, and a Bulgarian film student named Boris. They prove to be even more incompetent at filmmaking than Tahir is at exploring, losing much of their film along the way. Nevertheless, they produced a full-length documentary of the expedition whose production values are abysmal even for an art form known for low productions standards. Nevertheless, having located the documentary on YouTube, I found it a fascinating accompaniment to the book.

For security, the expedition hires an American ex-Vietnam veteran living in Peru on a diet consisting primarily of psychedelics. He quits halfway through the voyage and steals most of the exposed film and all of the expeditions morphine. Also accompanying them is the Seventh-day-Adventist leader of a small Peruvian village in the area who insists that the fabled city of Piatiti exists and had been found by a headhunter living in another village in which the residents supposedly still hunts heads. The head-hunter, when they locate him, denies he found the city but later recants and agrees to join them if they agree that after the expedition they will take him to Cusco to visit a whore house and a disco. The Seventh-day Adventist also warns them that the evil spirits that guard the city will require a dead body in payment for letting them through. This prompts a trip across Peru and a midnight raid of a 4000-year-old cemetery containing thousands of ancient mummies in order to secure the required dead body — no, I am not kidding you. I will not tell you how it all turns out other than to let you know that in the end of both the story and the film the head-hunter gets his trip to Cusco.

The documentary film can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNEvq6bQ4-A. For maximum amusement, I suggest reading a portion of the book, then watching the corresponding part of the film before going on to the next portion of the book.

I can assure you that after watching the film and reading the book you will be left with that most perplexing of all questions bedeviling humanity — Why?

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The following continues a review of those eras of human history about which I have developed a fondness. In this case, it is the era I call the First Centuries, from 300 BC to 300 AD.

After the death of Herod the Great and the division of his Kingdom among his four heirs, the seething dissatisfactions among groups and polities along the Western shore of the Middle East began to boil over. Let us begin by listing some of the contending factions, many of whom disliked each other.

There were the various ethnic groups, the Nabateans, the Judeans, the Galileans, the Arameans, the Phoenicians, and the Egyptians including the ethnic Hebrews who resided there for about 500 years and the Theraputea. To the North in what is now Syria and Central Turkey groups of Hellenized Hebrews lived among the various tribes as did those Hebrews that lived in southern Mesopotamia. Then there were the Hellenes who were everywhere and of course the Romans who ruled them all. Among the Hebrews, few if any had ever even visited Judea and their ethnic cousins and co-religionists that lived there. It can be imagined that until the missionaries from Judea after the Maccabean revolution and Herod’s missionary management reforms armed with the Septuagint these peoples had little understanding of the various accretions to the laws and legends that had occurred over the hundreds of years of separation.

In was in Judea itself, however, that the most significant sectarian factionalism occurred. There we had:

The Sadducees, the minders of the temple and the Judean nobility who managed and profited from the sacrifices in the temple (Judaism was a sacrificial based religion like that of all the other Semitic tribes in the Middle East at the time.) They had been reorganized by Herod when he built the temple.

The Pharisees, I guess you could call them the canon lawyers. They focused on explaining and interpreting the various rules found in the sacred writings.

The Essenes, they can best be analogized to the Albigensians of the Middle Ages, semi-monastic communities. But. where the Albigensians frowned on sex, the Essenes were obsessed with bathing, the parentage of the chief priest of the temple, and the pettifogging way of the Pharisees.

The Baptists, begun by John as a merger of Hellenic cynicism (rejection of civilization and a return to the wild) and the bathing obsession of the Essenes, raising it to the level of a requirement for joining the group perhaps equal to circumcision.

The Zealots (the Sicarii faction of which were the ISIL of the time) dedicated to overthrowing Roman domination and Hellenic moral relativism.

None of these groups liked each other very much but they all hated the Romans although it is uncertain whether they hated them more than they hated each other.

There were probably also other groups active at the time in Jerusalem politics including a bit later the Jesus Church or faction. I guess we should now take a slight detour to discuss the phenomenon of Jesus who although is less important to our story than Paul and the Pharisees (Rabbis) was a necessary transition.
To be continued.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

When lecturing before the of Defense Institute in the 1970’s Professor Quigley was asked, how much support did he believe the dissenters in this country were getting from the Communists?

Quigley replied:

I’m sure the Communists are supporting the dissenters. But the Communists are of no importance. The Communist Party in this country was destroyed. Read Shannon’s history. It is extremely likely that by 1960 one of the chief sources of funds for the Communist Party in this country was the FBI spies who had joined it. And the chief financial support of the Communists from about 1920 to about 1950 was Wall Street. Why? I do not know. If you’re interested, look up the story of The Institute of Pacific Relations; it was financed by Lee Higginson & Company of Boston, Frederick Vanderbilt Field of New York, and other big money interests.

When these people cut off this money, about 1949, the Communists were pretty much finished. Their only other source of money was Moscow, and Moscow has never been generous with funds for local Communist Parties, which they believe should support themselves. According to an FBI estimate, I believe, the Communists in this country are down to about 15,000 members. Take Angela Davis. She is emotionally alienated from our society, and for good reasons, but this has little to do with communism, even if she is a member of the Party. This is why I say ideology is not really important in dissent. People become Communists not because they like the ideology, but because they wish to demonstrate their opposition, just as young people let their hair grow and won’t polish their shoes or wear neckties.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

It is not how you make your life that matters, but what you believe your life to be.
C. Today’s Poem

Dropping the Bow, by Andrew Schelling provides a selection from King Hala’s Gaha-kosa(“Book of Songs”), the original of which consists of 700 poems (approximately 200 BCE to 200 CE) Despite being penned by hundreds of different poets, the poems are all of the same meter, and contain approximately thirty-two syllables. Most of them deal with love. As selected and translated by Schelling, they are brief, usually erotic, and often emotionally charged, as this one by Hala himself:

Mother
with the blink of an eye
his love vanished
A trinket gets
dangled
into your world
you reach out and it’s gone

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The object explained a great deal. The man was an Aghori sadhu. My interest in the trophy heads of the Naga headhunters had led me to the Aghoris. Their beliefs are close to those of traditional shamans. The Aghoris said to have the power to overcome evil spirits, were traditionally confirmed cannibals. Their libations, which once included human blood, are drunk from the bowl of a human skull. But to an Aghori, the skull is far more than a simple drinking vessel. It contains the spirit of the deceased. The soul remains the Aghori’s prisoner until the skull is cremated. Such jinns, spirits, are tamed and put to work by the sadhu in his world of shadows.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Pepe 0005 (November 4, 2016)

 
“I see great things in baseball.”
― Walt Whitman

 

 

My condolences to Bill Yeates and his family for their great loss.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO:

One Sunday, I traveled to San Francisco to visit my mom, my son Jason and his family, and to have coffee with Peter. While sitting outside Bernie’s coffee shop in Noe Valley, I realized that something about the Golden Hills and my life there has been lacking, Laughter. Laughter seems in short supply in El Dorado Hills. Smiles, there are plenty. Why wouldn’t there be smiles? It is as close to being an ideal place to live as one can imagine. Nevertheless, I rarely hear the sound of laughter, real deep booming out of control laughter. Without laughter is one truly alive — or even healthy? When I am with HRM, I often laugh, but otherwise nada. I need to either find someone up there in the Golden Hills like Peter who can make me laugh or perhaps, I should start rewatching my favorite comedy movies or maybe old Groucho, You Bet Your Life, reruns. Laugh more — you won’t regret it.

As for my mom, she has recovered nicely from her broken hip. She even played an enjoyable game of tossing the ball around with my granddaughter and me. She would throw the ball at me when I wasn’t looking, bounce it off my head and then break out laughing. It annoyed the hell out of me.
IMG_2489_2

While sitting outside of Bernie’s drinking our coffee, Peter started a story about a trip he took many years ago. A little way into it, he stopped and said that he could not remember if what he was saying was true or if he was just making it up. I urged him to continue in any event because it seemed like a good story. So he did — and it was — something about Frank Lloyd Wright, a burning automobile, and an old lady sitting and looking out her window someplace in Nebraska.

About a week later, I returned to SF to show my cousin Frederica around the city. She had just arrived from Italy and had never seen the City before. While there, I received a call from my doctor with the most distressing news possible. Nevertheless, we continued our tour of the most impressive sights in the city and ended up for coffee with Peter at Bernie’s in Noe Valley. (Peter can be considered one of the city’s more impressive sights.) Frederica was indignant that instead of a spoon to stir the sugar into her espresso she was given one of those disposable wood stirring sticks. After a crazy time maneuvering through rush hour traffic in downtown, she took the train back to Menlo Park where she is staying with some friends and I proceeded on back to the Golden Hills.
IMG_2517
Frederica and I

 

B. BOOK REPORT: THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE by Tahir Shah.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu
While conversing with Peter in front of Bernie’s coffee shop, for some reason, we got into a discussion about India where Peter and Barrie spent many years and where I have, for a long time, longed to go. I mentioned a book about India I read several years ago of which I was quite fond. I could not remember its name but promised Peter I would search for it and let him know. After three days of searching on my computer, I located the book and sent the information to Peter. I also decided to buy the book on Amazon and reread it on my Kindle to see if it was as enjoyable as I remembered.

After reading a few pages, I recalled that the book was also one of the reasons I had put off traveling to India. You see, when I travel, I prefer traveling alone and although I enjoy the “Great Sights” like anyone, I especially like searching for the odd and a little dangerous — like the night I found myself in a knife fight in a rural town in Turkey that eventually prompted the leader of the Turkish mafia to demand I persuade him why he should not have me killed. I knew India for me would never be merely a visit to the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort and the like, but a lifetime commitment.

“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you. You can stay at home and read of others’ experiences, but it’s not the same as getting out of trouble yourself.”
Shah, Tahir. The Complete Collection of Travel Literature: In Search of King Solomon’s Mines, Beyond the Devil’s Teeth, House of the Tiger King, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Travels With Myself, Trail of Feathers. Secretum Mundi.
Anyway, I guess the book can be considered a travelogue. There are many great travel books, like “A Short Walk Through the Hindu Kush,” and several by Krakauer that read like great novels. Tahir Shah’s book is one also — where the travel leaves off and the novel begins, however, is difficult to discern.

The book begins with Tahir Shah as a young boy in England visited by Hafiz Jan, the hereditary Afghan guard of the tomb of his ancestor the great Muslim general Jan Fishan Kahn (a nom de Guerre that translates to, “He that Scatters Souls.”) He traveled to England because he had a vision of young Tahir, the last of his line, falling into a culvert and dying. He believed it was his duty to prevent it. Hafiz Jon is welcomed by Tahir’s father and takes up residence in Tahir’s home where he sleeps on the floor in front of his bedroom door. The Afghan guard had also spent some time before assuming his hereditary duties guarding the tomb as an apprentice to a great magician in India. The magic we are talking about here is not magic but illusion — the illusion of Houdini and the Indian god-men and sadhus for thousands of years. He began teaching the eager young Tahir the secrets of illusion. The training went well until one day, during an exhibition of Tahir’s magic educational accomplishments, a mishap occurred that almost set his parents on fire. Soon after, Hafiz Jan was sent back to India to resume his hereditary duties.

Years later, Tahir, as a young man, traveled to India found the guard, apprenticed himself to the guard’s teacher, a rather overbearing sort and after a mostly unpleasant education sets off at the request of his teacher to travel throughout India searching for “insider information.” What one learns along with Tahir are the tricks of the trade of the god-men, sadhus and the like that have enthralled millions of poor and gullible Indians and attracted hundreds of westerners to journey there to sit at the feet of holy mystics absorbing their wisdom — for a price.

“Because,” he called out, “we were on a quest . . .” “A quest for what?” “For a third eye. You see, in the seventies, India was Disneyland … it was the Disneyland of the soul.”… “[W]e had all been to India in search of the third eye, but had left with nothing but diarrhea.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

Among these Godmen, Tahir and his sidekick, a 13-year-old thief and con-artist named Balu, spent some time at a luxurious mostly pink ashram of a well known Guru and in addition to describing at length the oddness of the entire set up, recounts some of his more private weirdness:

“When it came to divine eccentricity, Sri Gobind was no exception. His followers took great pride in the tales of their teacher’s irregularities. Every so often, gripped by an insatiable desire, the guru would jump naked from his bed. Running into the heart-shaped gardens, he would relieve himself in the bushes. Or, in the middle of an address, he had been known to rip off all his clothes and anoint his flabby belly with buffalo milk butter. Each morning, his fans averred, the holy man would douse himself in a bath of potassium permanganate. The immersion gave his skin its exotic purply-brown tinge. He would dress his hair with a pomade of seasoned egg whites,-dab his earlobes with witch hazel; and spray his nether regions with his own blend of catnip cologne.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

Along the way, Tahir explores the economic and social life of India through stories about the people he meets such as the cadaver collectors and their business of providing the bones for the skeletons in most medical school classrooms of the world, and the women who rent cows after the owners milk them in the morning then stand on the street corners during the day selling the pleasure of feeding the cow to passers-by and in the evenings selling the cow patties to brick makers and so on. The reason why India with its incredibly concentrated population is not sitting on a pile of garbage and human refuse is that that very garbage and refuse is the resource that supports much of the population.

“Real travel is not about the highlights with which you dazzle your friends once you’re home. It’s about the loneliness, the solitude, the evenings spent by yourself, pining to be somewhere else. Those are the moments of true value. You feel half proud of them and half ashamed and you hold them to your heart”
Tahir Shah

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

PS: Amazon had a special on where one could buy all of Tahir Shah’s travel books for the price of one, so I bought them all. I am now enjoying his story about finding a fake map of the mythical King Solomon’s mines in a curio shop in Jerusalem and setting off to Ethiopia where he believes the mines described in the fake map might have been located — if they were real. There he hires a taxi driver as an interpreter, travels by some of the most uncomfortable and dangerous modes of transportation imaginable, explores an illegal gold mine where children are sent into the narrow tunnels and many of them die, spends several nights in an Ethiopian jail, just misses a dinner with Idi Amin, is befriended by the manager of a government gold mine who wants to emigrate to America, travels to a land where the men, instead of head hunting for a hobby, cut off the testicles of their enemies and carry them in sacks around their necks and so on and on. Alas, despite the danger and discomfort he finds nothing but adventure.

“Most journeys have a clear beginning, but on some, the ending is less well-defined. The question is, at what point do you bite your lip and head for home?”
Tahir Shah

(It sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?)

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

1. For every human on Earth, there are 1.6 million ants. The total weight of all those ants, however, is about the same as all the humans.

(Hmm, this would mean a single human would weigh the same as 1.6 million ants. Those must be very small ants.)

2. Ten percent of all the photos ever taken were taken in the last 12 months.

(I bet more than half of them are of cats or dogs and posted on Facebook.)

3. Shakespeare made up the name “Jessica” for his play Merchant of Venice.

(Why?)

4. Your chances of being killed by a vending machine are actually twice as large as your chance of being bitten by a shark.

(How does a vending machine kill?)

5. Nowhere in the Humpty Dumpty Nursery Rhyme does it say that Humpty Dumpty is an egg.

(Another of life’s verities shattered.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. DeLong on Top:

“The authors say the US went off the rails in the 1980s, when government suddenly became the problem, and hundreds of years of institutions were torn down and simply not replaced. The result is a flabby, bloated economy that is bland and non-productive. Moves in the 80s have resulted in a “negative sum healthcare system” that is entirely about processing claims, with providers hiring armies of clerks to do battle with clerks of the insurers and government over codes and reimbursement. Totally nonproductive, consuming hundreds of billions of dollars every year. There is also the financial sector, producing literally nothing, except massive amounts of new money out of thin air, or rather from computer entries in accounts. Cash issued by governments now accounts for just 6% of the money supply, as central banks have been bypassed completely. The nonproductive financial sector siphons the brightest minds and has more than doubled its share of the economy, without producing, improving or exporting anything. Quite the opposite, as wealth is concentrating to the detriment of the vast majority, including to the detriment of governments that enabled it all. Healthcare and finance account for a quarter of the American economy.”
Review by David Wineberg of, Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy by Stephen S. Cohen, and J. Bradford DeLong.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Life is one-half lies — lies you tell yourself or tell others, and one-half truth — truth that batters your beliefs or demands your acceptance. Without both, there are no stories. Without stories, what is there to life?”

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

The Mystery

This poem is ascribed to Amergin, a Milesian prince or druid who settled in Ireland hundreds of years before Christ. It is taken from the Leabhar Gabhala, or Book of Invasions and translated by Douglas Hyde (see note below).

I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am the beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am the wild boar in valour,
I am a salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a word of science,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who created in the head the fire.
Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?
(If not I)

Note: ”The three short pieces of verse ascribed to Amergin are certainly very ancient and very strange. But as the whole story of the Milesian Invasion is wrapped in mystery and is quite possibly a rationalized account of early Irish mythology no faith can be placed in the alleged date or genuineness of Amergin’s verses. They are of interest, because as Irish tradition has them as being the first verses made in Ireland, so it may very well be they actually do present the oldest surviving lines of any vernacular tongue in Europe except Greece.”
Douglas Hyde, The Story of Early Gaelic Literature.

 

C. What’s wrong with professional football today?

Professional football viewership has begun to decrease sharply. There have been many theories proposed to account for this. I believe the real reason is evident by simply looking at the sidelines during a game. It used to be that the coaches who prowled along the sidelines had that lean and hungry look, like Bill Walsh and Tom Landry. Now when one looks at those same sidelines it seems as though the coaches are auditioning for the role of Santa Claus in a Christmas pageant. If in an activity where the participants are expected to maintain a regime of rigorous self-improvement, how can one expect from them high performance when their mentors are advertisements for self-indulgence?

 

D. Comments on my prior post:

From Naida:

Hi Joe
Thanks for Ruth’s ballot advice— enlightening and entertaining. I hope she keeps sending that summation in election years. Every time I’m in the voting booth looking at the propositions I feel angry. People are elected and paid to decide those issues, yet I must do that work! — an old lady out here with many other things to do, putting off those pesky propositions until it’s too late and then hoping I know enough, usually skipping most of them and fearing that hoards of people more ignorant than I, are randomly stabbing at yes or no and collectively making wrong decisions. Hiram Johnson meant well, and the Initiative was good for a several decades, but no longer. IMO

Re turkeys:
In their brown-feathered, genetically-unaltered state turkeys are good travelers, following the waterways and making good time. They coast for long distances between wing flaps. The rivers are not barriers (Suisun Strait would be). But they can’t travel during hatching time. The moms form babysitting co-ops, 3-4 per group, about 12 pullets per mom. Those flightless fuzzy balls on long legs observe their aunties and moms pecking and scratching for seeds, bugs and more. The moms relieve each other as sentries, hopping to a high boulder. Round and round she turns, slowly. Intently watching for potential enemies. If she sees anything suspect, she emits a loud piew-piew-pieu, and they all vanish into the brush.

Someday I should publish my article on the dispersal of turkeys in CA, escapees from missions Carmel and San Jose. The State Dept of F & W tells everyone that turkeys were first introduced to CA in 1906. Actually they were re-introduced after being exterminated along with 100s of other bird species during the gold rush. Brown turkeys are smart. I’ve seen them dive-bomb our horse in coordinated attacks, circling and taking turns. They like to see him buck and kick out. They sleep in oak trees. In the early morning the leader floats down and stands there long enough to know the place is safe. Then, on signal, they all go down to breakfast.

 

From Barrie:

My family lived in the Seabrook house in Rhinebeck in 1953, the summer my dad was an actor at the Hyde Park Playhouse. There was a death mask of Wm Seabrook at the top of the stairs. He committed suicide. It was a wonderful summer and we went to tea at Valkill, Elinor Roosevelt’s home. My mother had introduced herself when Mrs. Roosevelt came to see Pygmalion in which my dad was Col Pickering.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3rd. 25 Papa Joe 0005 (October 14, 2016)

 

“Since large-scale human cooperation is based on myths, the way people cooperate can be altered by changing the myths — by telling different stories.”

Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Cloudless deep blue skies arch above the Golden Hills bringing autumn crisp temperatures in the mornings. I love swimming in water warmer than the air.

Since my return, I have not seen the Moonstone Peckerhead Turkey Gang strutting up the street. Perhaps, they are hiding out because it is getting close to Thanksgiving. Do Turkey’s migrate? If so, they cannot fly very far. They would have to walk or hitchhike. Or maybe they just do not go far away. Perhaps, they do not get much farther south than Ione or Merced.

One day while walking the dog, I saw four large deer standing on the verge across the street from me. They simply stared at us for quite a while, then scampered off up the hill.

Neither the deer nor the turkeys would survive long in Bangkok. Now that I think about it, the people there eat insects. Why don’t they eat the pigeons? Maybe that is what I am eating when I order chicken fried rice at the sidewalk food stands. I wonder what the pork fried rice is made from?

I cannot deny the gated communities that make up El Dorado Hills and its parks are beautifully landscaped and laid out. I assume the empty streets behind those gates, more than the gates themselves give a sense of security to those that live. Interesting things may be happening within the McMansions but not on the streets. That is the difference between rich and poor communities. The poor live more of their live’s in public, on the streets. The boredom also gives a sense of security, I guess — if nothing is happening then nothing is happening to me.

Recently, however, something has happened. Evan of EvanTube has moved into one of the mansions on the ridge that I can see across the valley from Dick’s deck. Evan, as a five-year-old, managed to make over a million dollars on YouTube opening up packages of toys and increased that take substantially every year until now at 9 or 10 he was able to move his family from Modesto or someplace like that so that he can attend the far above average schools here in the Golden Hills. This has excited those like HRM who have followed his spectacular career. According to HRM, everyone likes the young millionaire.

This shows the difference between today’s schools and those in my day and neighborhood. Then, someone with a rep would be immediately challenged in the schoolyard. You make your rep there or nowhere.

Speaking of young hoodlums in training. Because so many of the stately homes of the golden hills are rented out for one reason or another, not all the kids in the schools are from middle and upper-class families. In HRM’s class, there is a boy named Raul. Both his parents are in jail. Some of his classmates warned HRM to stay away from Raul. They say he vapes on the bus on the way to school and if you try to speak to him he will slap you. HRM wanted to find out if Raul really would slap him if he said hello, so he went up to him and said, “Hi, they call me Haystack. How are you doing?” Instead of slapping him, Raul gave HRM a high five.

 
B. TWO UPSIDE DOWN NOSES — 77:

Today is my 77th birthday. To me, that means, I have seen the beginning of many more things that never existed before then I will see in the time remaining to me. Although I was born into a world on the verge of the greatest slaughter of human lives in history, WWII, the Holocaust, The Great Leap Forward, I lived through what undoubtedly was the greatest Golden Age of Humanity. That’s not too bad when you realize that all you really have to show for your time here are your experiences —even if those experiences are merely watching it all unfold.

 

C. BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS:

Below are the California ballot recommendations for the coming election that Ruth and others developed. I found them very helpful even where I disagree.

BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NOVEMBER 2016

These are my recommendations for the state measures, informed by discussion among a dedicated group of Venice residents who undertake to share researching the propositions and try to arrive at either consensus or a clear statement of our disagreements. If you have questions, I will try to answer them.

I will send recommendations for the County measures, including judges, and the City of LA measures in a separate email.

FEDERAL OFFICES:

President: Hillary Clinton
US Senator: Kamala Harris
(Loretta Sanchez would not be bad, but our consensus was Kamala Harris would be better)
STATE PROPOSITIONS:

The biggest challenge is figuring out how many taxes/bonds you are willing to swallow for various good causes and then prioritizing the numerous relevant propositions. In addition to the state measures, LA County has two—one a bond and one a sales tax increase–, and LA City has at least two bond issues.

51: School bonds
School population is going down, but school buildings are aging. Many have no air conditioning. Some opponents think it’s better to have local school districts bond-fund rather than the state. Supporters of 55 think relying on locals doing it themselves puts an unfair burden on the poorer school districts.

52: Hospital fee program
Yes

53: Revenue bond issues over $2 billion must go to a vote of the people.
No!
If this passes, there has to be an election (and associated campaign) every time the state wants to engage in a massive infrastructure project. This proposition is aimed at stopping the Delta tunnel and the bullet train, both projects adopted by the elected officials. Campaigns are expensive and time-consuming, and the winds of public sentiment can change many times during the period it takes to complete a major project. It’s not only Rome that wasn’t built in a day. (We did split on this one—it turns out to depend on whom you trust least: elected officials or uninformed voters.

54: Legislation and proceedings.
No.
This is being promoted as increasing transparency in government by requiring that every change in every bill be publicly noticed and on the internet for 72 hours before any action. It sounds great, but it will make negotiating and compromise well nigh impossible. It would probably also prevent getting a budget out on time.

55: Extending an existing tax that was originally approved as “temporary.”
Yes.
It is a tax on incomes of $250,000 and up, funds schools and healthcare, and has been in effect without disrupting the economy.

56: Increase the tax on cigarettes.
Yes.
The tax hasn’t been increased in many years. This proposition also includes taxing e-cigarettes and funding programs to discourage those as well as the old-fashioned ones.

57: various changes to sentencing and parole.
Yes.

58: Multi-lingual education.
Yes.
This proposition undoes the English-only law adopted early 20 years ago in recognition that students learn subject matter best in the language most familiar even while learning a new language.

59: Advisory vote urging repeal of Citizens United.
Yes.
Although the vote has no practical effect, it has important symbolism.

60: Require performers in porn films to use condoms.
No.
There are all sorts of obligations to test and treat already in place, this proposition would create a whole new structure to police (probably ineffectively) the porn industry, and the industry which alas employs a whole lot of people could easily just leave the state. This is the brainchild of the same guy who is behind a totally different City proposition coming in March that would limit private real estate development.

61: Drug prices.
No.
(Surprise!) This would require that the state pay no more than the VA pays for drugs. The VA negotiates prices with the drug companies. Our fear is that adopting this proposition would mean the VA would get a worse deal. (Apply here Ruth’s Rule of Legislation: if it takes less than 30 minutes to figure out how to abuse the proposed law, just vote against it.) Bernie Sanders is doing major ads in favor of this. He must not have applied Ruth’s Rule.

62 and 66: Death Penalty
62 abolishes the death penalty; 66 is the prosecutors’ response to 62 and leaves it in place but shortens the long, expensive, and mandatory appeal procedures.
If you favor abolition, vote yes on 62 and no on 66. If you want to keep the death penalty, vote no on 62 and yes on 66.

63: Ammunition sales
Yes. (Do we really need to discuss this?)

64: Marijuana
We did not have consensus on this one but leaned yes.

65 and 67: Plastic bags
67 is a statewide ban on those flimsy plastic bags you used to get in grocery stores. 65 is the bag manufacturers’ bait-and-switch antidote to 67. 65 takes the fees grocery stores now charge for your paper bag away from the stores and puts them into a new environmental fund (which someone has to administer). The manufacturers’ argument is that the stores shouldn’t get to “make a profit” from the bags. Since the stores have to buy the bags anyway, it’s a safe bet that if they can’t charge for them, they’ll have to raise prices on the products that go into the bags in order to fund having to buy them.
I vote no on everything to do with banning “single use” bags because I don’t believe they are single use. Everyone I know uses them for household garbage or cleaning up after pets. What the ban proponents want you to do is buy genuinely single-use bags: you buy them for the sole and specific purpose of putting something in them to put in the landfill.
Everyone else at the discussion recommends no on 65 and yes on 67, the statewide ban.
Whatever you do, don’t vote yes on both of them because whichever gets more total votes is the one that will prevail. Thus if create-the-fund gets more votes than the ban, the ban does not take effect.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

The following is the continuation of something I began in a prior post a long time ago:

The First Centuries: Herod continued…

Certainly about the time of the Maccabees, the Judeans and the related people who followed the Septuagint and associated writings sought to remain in contact with one another. In addition to Judea, there were significant communities in Galilee, Egypt, Southern Mesopotamia, and the Syrian saddle and the Southcentral Turkish highlands from Aleppo to Tarsus. Many of these people had little of no relationship with Judea or Jerusalem. At first, contact probably occurred through itinerant traders but eventually, a more formal system developed which included instruction in the Law for the outlying areas and transfer of money for the operation in Jerusalem.

Herod being the consummate businessman and needing money for construction of the Second Temple and other things regularized the system, giving to members of the Judean nobility specific areas in which to operate and amounts to be returned to the Royal and Temple treasuries. While this does not have much to do with our story here, it does so not long after Herod’s death. And die he did, a rather gruesome death.

After his death, his kingdom was divided by the Romans among his three surviving sons and his sister. One son Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea. Another, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. the third son became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan, and Salome I was given a toparchy including the cities of Jabneh, Ashdod, and Phasaelis. What an ethnarch, tetrarch, toparchy are, I have no idea.

Shortly after the dividing up of Herod’s kingdom, the shit hit the fan.
(to be continued)

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Among my Cracked Histories, Tomyris and the Massegetae is one of my favorites. A version appears in the book listed below at the end of the piece. It can also be found in my blog Trenz Pruca’s Journal (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/every-now-and-then-we-should-stop-what-we-are-doing-and-consider-tomyris-and-the-massengetae/)

“Every now and then we should stop what we are doing and consider Tomyris and the Massegetae.

I believe, it is worthwhile to occasionally contemplate Tomyris and the Massegetae, if not for its impact on history then for its elucidation of the ability of a determined woman to lead her country in a time of crisis.

Tomyris Queen of the Massegetae reigned over a semi-nomadic nation in South-central Asia at the time Cyrus the Great Emperor of Persia and ruler of just about every other place anyone had heard of, ravaged that part of the world. (This was about four or five hundred years before Jesus walked the earth preaching peace and unleashing, often in his name, 2000 years of bloodshed far beyond that which the world had experienced for the previous 4000 years.)

“One day, Cyrus marched his armies into the land of the Massegetae, an area he noticed he had forgotten to conquer. He exclaimed to his comrades in arms, “Hey here’s a place where I haven’t killed many people yet. Let’s have some fun.”

Tomyris’ son and about a third of the Massegetae troops rode out to meet Cyrus and his marauders. They were quickly defeated and Tomyris’ son (clearly not a chip off his mom’s block) taken prisoner. This was familiar stuff to Cyrus who, whenever he wanted to kill some people, usually was confronted by their young sons who shouted at him that they would fight back if he tries to kill them. He would kill them anyway and make the rest slaves. It was good being Cyrus.

So Cyrus walked or rode or however conquerers traveled back then, up to what passed for a wall surrounding what passed for a city to the nomadic Massegetae. With Tomyris son in tow, he strutted back and forth in front of those walls and shouted to Tomyris that she should surrender her town and country, such that it was.

Tomyris, that tough old bird, climbed to the top of those walls, hiked up her skirt, stared down at the strutting Cyrus, and shouted back:

“Now listen to me and I will advise you for your good: give me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over one-third of the Massegetae. If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.”

Thus, Tomyris Warrior Queen of the Massegetae responded to Cyrus the Great, Emperor of Persia, conqueror of the greatest empire of the ancient world and leader of the largest and most technologically advanced army of the time.

Cyrus refused Tomyris’ advice. So, she personally led the charge of her forces and destroyed his army. After her victory, she searched the battlefield herself until she found Cyrus’ body, then she cut off his head and made his skull into her favorite goblet.

This leads me to conclude that one should never mess with a woman named Tomyris, or for that matter, a Massegetae who some ancient historians believe became the Huns. (I heard that there is a biker gang in South Dakota named the Massegetae whose leader is a six-foot-six-inch transsexual named Tomyris.)

For those interested in learning more about the Massegetae, this is what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus had to say about them:

“In their dress and mode of living, the Massegetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for headgear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.”

“The following are some of their customs; – Each man has but one wife[…]“yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massegetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Jaxartes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”

I have a few concerns and questions about the Massegetae life-style:
1. How does one have one wife held in common?
2. How old do you have to be before they come for you and boil you up with a cow or two?
3. How pissed off with your lot in life would you be if you were forced to live on beef, fish, sour milk and a grandfather or grandmother now and then? Enough to want to go and beat the shit out of someone, I would imagine.”

Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo. “Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” iBooks. ”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

All stories have at their heart either a great truth or a great lie. The better the story the less we can tell which one it is.
B. Today’s Poem:

My revision to the opening stanza of Taliesin:

I have been many things,
before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow many colored sword.
I have been a tear in the air.
I have lived as the faintest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
a book among words.

 

C. Correspondence with Peter:

From Peter

Your story suggests a possible sequel for Omar, a la Rocky II, III, etc.: Something about Omar and O.Henry attend the conversion of Charles Martel to Islam in the White Horse Tavern – the latter because the Alhambra was being rehabbed to condos; and of course Dylan Thomas sitting at the bar, raging about not going gently into the good night, and Omar, O. Henry, the now-beatific Martel, Baby Ruth and Mr. Goodbar come over to Thomas and say “Sadducee ya so glum, chum, let’s off to Soi Cowboy and find you a Comely Princess to take your mind off your troubles until you can wax poetic again.” Etc., etc.

So, back in EDH. That must be rather surrealistic after BKK, let alone Beijing airport. How about Trump Tower West to jazz it up a bit? Bankrupt in three. Windup Girl wins the Laguna Beach Pageant, settles in the EDH West Tower Suite as Trumpette #4, and, as biblical flood waters rise, floats away on her pet monitor lizard Saladin.

Sorry to hear about your mom’s fall and fracture; elderly broken hips are not happy.

Blast from the past: I stopped in to Ye Olde SCC for a brief chat with Sam Schuchat. Talk about weird. First time since 1994. They will move into the Oakland State building by the end of the year. Terminal dreariness…..

Band played for the recent SF Alzheimers Walk fundraiser. Biggest crowd ever, if only each for 30 seconds as they passed by, cheering. Next week we’re at the annual Oakland Plant Exchange again: people bring their plants to exchange for other people’s plants. Think of the angles. We’re adding to our collection of odd venues.

Speaking of Naga headhunters, my bandmate told of one of his island trips years ago, this one to Fiji. The fijians were cannibals up until not long ago. They witnessed a folk dance that was quite vigorous and militaristic – probably led to the cooking cauldron in times past. Which made me think of old man Seabrook, who traveled to west Africa during the 1920s, including visiting with some cannibals. He decided ‘when in Rome’, and tried the fare as offered by the villagers. Didn’t say it tasted like chicken. Later, he got up to Timbuktu, as did Geoffrey Moorehouse, who wrote of his trek across the Sahara in 1970 and had to leave after four days because of all the tourists. Now it’s islamic crazies burning books. Back in Rhinebeck, NY, Seabrook used to chain his wife up naked on a long chain out in the spacious yard, according to Barrie, who stayed there with her family — near where Seabrook’s place was — one summer many years ago when her father was doing summer theater up there. No ocelots, though.

Happy birthday, Joe, in advance, in case I forget while my hearing aids’ batteries die.
My response:

Thanks,

My mom seems ok. They fixed the hip but she seems unwilling to wake up. The doctors think they may have overdosed her with morphine. I hope she enjoys the trip.

EDH is so quiet after BKK that I keep thinking my hearing loss has gotten worse.

I wish it would have been possible for Seabrook and the Gemologist to meet each other — cannibals, headhunters, zombies, clouded leopards, jewels and women in chains — oh my.
Peter responds:

Sounds like they would have had a great time exchanging yarns. Oh my indeed.

Reminds me of that movie, I think it was The Once And Future King, with Michael Caine and Shawn Connery (??).

As to the quiet of EDH, why not open a combination Zen sasheen zendo (for the cognoscenti), health farm, spiritual energy alignment center, “happy ending” massage parlor, and Harbin Hot Springs operation? With a small track similar to the paseo that Mexican young people do around the zocalo but bigger to enable the Lamborghini/Ferrari/Jaguar/Henry J crowd to cruise around. Noise police would cruise the center with THX1137-somber looming menace in appropriate Armani/Versace garb. Housing values would soar, major eateries would flock, throngs would zoom to EDH to see and be seen, and Kardashian and other fabulous jewelry would be heisted weekly to provide a smidgen of zest for the otherwise somnolent, would be-narcisisst post-Trump crowd. Lots of material for HDH’s video show, which would broadcast continuously on screens in all the Best establishments. Periodic events such as the Basso Profundo contest to determine the best performers of “Ommmm”; or the Gossamer Wings Ephemeral Fly-By contest to choose the “Maxwell Parish would have chosen you” Floating Nymph award. Don’t know how all this would affect your hearing loss.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Lest there be any well-intentioned persons who do not perceive the difference … between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and the meanest affairs of life, to the extraordinary confusion of ignorant minds, let them understand that it is always the latter, and never the former, which is satirized here. Further, that the latter is here satirized as being, according to all experience, inconsistent with the former, impossible of union with it, and one of the most evil and mischievous falsehoods existent in society…. It may appear unnecessary to offer a word of observation on so plain a head. But it is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip, and idle in the heart; or against the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who, in the words of SWIFT, have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another.”
Preface to the Charles Dickens Edition, THE PICKWICK PAPERS (1868).

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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The Namibia Superstar, a photograph by Richard K. Diran. (http://www.diranart.com/web/index.php?option=com_expose&Itemid=28 )

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Papa Joe 0005 (October 2, 2016)

 

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
~ Jimi Hendrix

 

 

Happy Birthday to my granddaughter Athena and Happy Anniversary to my sister MaryAnn and her husband George.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

One afternoon when it was not raining, we decided to walk to Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s central urban park. LM liked to feed the birds (mostly pigeons and a few large crows) and the fish (gaping toothy jaws large enough to swallow your arm).

As we began to climb the steps to the sky-path over the freeway and into the park, we were stopped by some police who told us to wait. After a little while, I saw a cavalcade of automobiles from the Royal Family’s fleet come speeding down the freeway. “Oh look,” I said and pointed to the cars. “It must be a member of the Royal Family.”

After the motorcade passed by, one of the policemen approached and got into a heated conversation with the Little Masseuse. “What’s going on,” I inquired? “They want to arrest you for pointing at the Royal Family entourage,” She answered. According to LM, they felt that what I did was disrespectful and they could possibly mistake my pointing for a gun.

I guess, unlike in the United States, the police in Thailand first announce their reasons for possibly killing you instead of waiting until after you are dead.

It was agreed, eventually, that I was adequately warned and could spend the rest of the day neither behind bars nor dead.

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Lumpini Park, like many great city central parks, is magnificent in concept but a bit seedy and down at the heel in places. Recently, the large Monitor Lizards that inhabit the lake have taken to the land and eaten a few joggers……. No, I’m kidding. They have not eaten any joggers but have frightened a few tourists, so there is a highly publicized effort by the authorities to capture them and transport them to a more appropriate location. Some have suggested that location is probably the woks in the kitchens of some of the authority’s families.
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One day at lunch, I asked the Gemologist how the cultures of those lost tribes of Burma that he spent so many years photographing are holding up. He said their cultures are mostly all gone. It happened faster than he had expected. Surprisingly, except for the Muslim Rohingya tribe, it has not been by the force of arms of the Burmese government but through the introduction of modern fashions and technologies. If the Naga people still go headhunting, they do so in Old Navy knock-off tee shirts and find their way through the jungle using google maps on their iPhones.
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The next few days were spent trying to get some exercise in between the rains, struggling all one morning to get the presidential debate on my iPhone, and listening to more stories from the deep sea diver. One of the tales was a harrowing story about accompanying his flying instructor, a stunt pilot, to Columbia to pick up a small plane and fly it back to Key West. When they arrived, they found that although the plane lacked ignition, brakes and several other important mechanical parts, it carried a load of made in Columbia product and a baby ocelot (who got loose in the cockpit somewhere over Panama). The flight back to Key West included stops in Nicaragua, Mexico and one or two other places along the way. Apparently, there was also some problem with the gas since they had to fly with a fifty gallon can of gas in the cockpit along with a jury-rigged hose passing through the dashboard into the engine. Oh, and now and then there were women (there always are in stories like this) who had to sit on their laps because there were not enough seats. (What they did with the Ocelot during those times I never found out.)

And then, it was time to leave the teeming and steaming streets of Bangkok and return to the Golden Hills where the air is clean, the stories and people are few, and where the indigenous wildlife of pigeons, rats, and wandering packs of soi dogs are replaced by turkeys, coyotes, and tiny steam cleaned pedigreed canines on leashes.

 

B. From Bangkok to El Dorado Hills:

My return to America was long but nowhere as traumatic as the flight out. I had an entire row to myself on the flight to Beijing and so I stretched out and slept. I had a nine-hour layover in Beijing but luckily they have a by-the-hour hotel in the airport so I rented a tiny room, showered, slept — and dreamed.

I dreamt I was in a small kingdom in ancient China, appropriately. The king’s comely daughter had taken a liking to me. (In my dreams, I am usually younger and far more attractive than I am in real life.) Suddenly, a faction of the king’s retainers organized a coup and killed all the royal family except the Comely Princess who I saved. Together we organized a resistance, fought back and eventually killed all the coupsters only to find, at our moment of triumph, the Emperor with all his troops lined up outside the wall of the city wondering why there was so much turmoil in this tiny little kingdom in his empire and whether he should just burn it to the ground and kill everyone and be done with it. The Comely Princess suggested we set up two thrones on the top of the city walls in which she and I would sit and shout down at the Emperor that we were now firmly in control and were his loyal subjects. Well, he bought that little bit of theater and marched away. In celebration, the Comely Princess and I agreed to get married that evening. As I was preparing for the nuptials and drinking a glass of rice wine, the enraged princess stormed into the room and accused me of sacrificing one of our most beloved retainers to the cause. I tried to explain to the now not so Comely Princess that it was his choice but she was having none of it. So, I soon found myself seated on the horse I rode in on looking back at the city. I wondered whether the whole thing was simply a ruse by the Comely Princess to make herself a Regal Queen. It wouldn’t be the first time in my life something like this happened. For a moment I thought about gathering supporters, killing the now Regal Queen and taking back the kingdom. I decided against that. I am pretty good at fighting my way out of any imbroglio I find myself in, but starting from scratch was always too much work, so I rode off.

In case you are interested, I was dressed in Chinese boiled leather armor over my jeans with my straw fedora on my head. I may be young, handsome and competent in my dreams but I still dressed funny. By the way, my horse was gray.

During the ten hour flight from Beijing to SF, I watched two movies, The Huntsman, because I adore Charlize Theron, especially when she is tearing up the scenery, and the old Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster film Vera Cruz. Coop is an aging plantation owner and ex-Confederate Army officer who believes he fought for freedom and that the southern plantation life was built on land and big houses and not on slavery. Being freedom loving, he eventually supports the Mexican peasants against the Emperor Maximilian. Since they were peasants and only seemed able to sing and dance and throw themselves blindly at the Emperors machine guns, they obviously needed Cooper and Lancaster to save them. I will also see any movie with Lancaster in it just to see his insane smile.

Other than that, I took some valium to sleep the rest of the way. It took about 5 hours to get from SFO to El Dorado Hills where everyone seemed uncomfortable because I arrived a day sooner than expected. I also learned that my 99-year-old mom fell and broke her hip.

As I have said often, “Getting there is often far more interesting and pleasant than being there.”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

This is a continuation of my somewhat irreverent retelling of some of my favorite eras of history:

It was Judea and especially Jerusalem that gave Herod agita. Most other the other parts of his kingdom seemed to accept his harsh but relatively peaceful administration with what passed for equanimity. But, in faction-riddled Judea, it seemed everyone hated everyone else and that all they seemed to agree on was that they all hated him, mostly for being Idumean and not Judean. So he did what all competent rulers do in cases like this, he threw money at them. He first lavished it on those who made up what passed for the upper class, the priests and Sadducees who he reasoned would then keep the other malcontents under some control.

When that didn’t work, he struck upon a more audacious scheme. He would rebuild their Temple and he would make it the greatest temple of the time and people from throughout the Levant and even the known world would flock to Jerusalem to see this wonder, worship there and spend their money. This he thought, reasonably so, would make everyone happy.

With his usual vigor, he set upon this task. First, he built a mountain in the city enclosed in walls so that it could be seen from everywhere and on the top of this mountain he built the most magnificent temple of his time.

While it made believers far and wide proud they had such a magnificent thing, alas, it did not stop the Judeans and especially the Jerusalemites from arguing even more about things they had been arguing about for at least a century and to his dismay they even found more things to argue about.

But while all this arguing and faction building is important, it is not important here for our story at this time but will be a little later. What is important is that Herod the businessman (like the not so successful but equally insane businessman or our time Donald Trump) did not want to use his own money to fund his largess. And what he came up with would change the world.
(to be continued)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Below is reproduced one of my favorite flights of fancy stories I wrote about six years ago. I also like it because its literary references could only be identified by people over sixty and so the piece effectively was born dead. I do, however, recommend reading O. Henry. He really was a con man, embezzler, and pharmacist until he joined the literary world and became a liar for hire.

Posted in FRACTURED FACTOIDS, VOYAGES IN MY MIND:
FROM RUBAIYAT TO RUBY OTT ON THE RUBY YACHT AND HOME AGAIN

All my life I have often taken voyages of the mind as I have pursued some research thread or another. Anyway, the internet is a marvelous vehicle for anyone who enjoys traveling without leaving one’s bed.

In my most recent voyage, I had been traveling north, escaping from the devastation of Ninth Century Southern Italy, with some Jewish merchants and settled with them in the Rhine Valley only to be forced to move eastward into the Pale, when the armies of Western Christendom had made that land too dangerous for my Hebrew brethren.

Shortly thereafter, I was at the home of the local Rabbi in a shtetl deep within the Pale somewhere in eastern Poland when that good man began to become quite emotional and upset about a radical Sephardic Rabbi named Maimonides who lived among the Muslims and was obviously corrupted by them. According to the Rabbi, this Maimonides was attempting, in his erroneous writings on sacred subjects, to humanize the faith of their fathers.

I decided to visit Maimonides at his family home in Egypt where he was working as the physician to the Sultan, Saladin. One evening shortly after I arrived, I asked the honorable doctor-rabbi to instruct me in his teachings. He responded to my request by saying“Pookie, before embarking on a voyage into Hebrew esoterica, you should first travel to Persia and stay a few evenings in a caravansary called ‘The Perfumed Garden.’”

I did so and one evening while relaxing in the hot tub after the day’s debauch, I met a fellow traveler who introduced himself to me as Mercury Ali. We got to talking about this and that and after swapping some tales of our respective voyages, he suggested that that evening we attend the salon of the well-known Hori, Scheherazade where he assured me that the finest stories in all of Persia could he heard. “Be careful,” he warned me, “the tales are so beguiling they can become addictive.” It has been rumored that some of the attendees at the salon had become so besotted that they remained there for over 1000 nights.

Assuring him that I will take his warning seriously, I accompanied him to the salon. I admit, I soon began to find myself becoming hooked on the conversation. After a few nights with Haroun al-Rashid, Delilah the Crafty, and any number of men named Sinbad (Aladdin and Ali Baba, to my regret, were off on some adventure or another), I met up with another attendee, the besotted tent-maker, mathematician and astrologer Omar Khayyam. He invited me to spend the next few days with him and a couple of Horis, and a few bottles of Napa Valley’s finest jug wine under some trees in the desert somewhere.

One morning, having finished off the jugs of wine, I found myself with Omar banging on the door of a local tavern demanding the proprietor open the premises so that we could resume our drinking.

After a downing a few cups of chardonnay in the cool common room of the tavern, I fell asleep on the table and woke up in the early part of the Twentieth Century in Greenwich Village in New York City at the house of two hippies who were dancing with each other while reciting Omar’s verses.

It seems that Bob Babbitt and his wife, Jessie, were having a party to celebrate the end of their short unhappy experiment with sobriety. Among the guests was a gentleman who went by the obvious alias of O. Henry. I was later to learn that he was a convicted embezzler, ex-con and drunken pharmacist from North Carolina who was hiding out in New York in the witness protection program under an assumed name.

He suggested that since the current party was winding down, that I join him at another get-together in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana hosted by a friend of his called Idaho. It was a reception in honor of the newest residents of the valley, Homer K. M. and, his girlfriend Ruby Ott.

The following morning, we joined Rocky and Bullwinkle on Bullwinkle’s boat the “Ruby Yacht” and traveled down the Bitterroot to Veronica Lake where we spent the day.

P.S. Omar (who was previously a member of the Taliban) and Scheherazade now are living together in an apartment in North Beach San Francisco with another illegal alien couple from Guatemala who formerly served in the Sandinista army. Omar and Sherry (the name she goes by now) are strong supporters of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer when they are not out campaigning for the “Green Party”. 

(https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/)

NOTE: If you read this far, here is the connection to the complete collection of O. Henry’s tales: (http://www.gutenberg.org/author/O._Henry), You can read his short stories, “The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball” and “The Handbook of Hymen” should you want to take my voyage in reverse.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Forty percent of all women who are married to police officers are abused.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

In the United States, we have often elected to public office the stupid and at times The crazy. It has only recently, however, that most of those we elect happen to be both stupid and crazy.
B. Today’s Poems:

1. Virago

I am Wo — Man
I break stallions to harness
They ride me for my pleasure
They tend my flocks
And in the end
I paste their memories
in my scrapbook.

2. Seize the Day.

“So seize the day! hold holiday!
Be unwearied, unceasing, alive
you and your own true love;
Let not the heart be troubled during your
sojourn on Earth,
but seize the day as it passes!
Ancient Egyptian poem 1160 BC

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Metaphysical naiveté always ends in murder. It fragments the world. Little acts of kindness and charity mask the monstrous evil they abet. And the system rolls forward. The polar ice caps melt. The droughts rage over cropland. The drones deliver death from the sky. The state moves inexorably forward to place us in chains. The sick die. The poor starve. The prisons fill. And the careerist, plodding forward, does his or her job.”
Chris Hedges, Truthdig

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Papa Joe 0005 (September 23 2016)

 

Happy Birthday, Richard McCarthy (Uncle Mask), and Ann Vita (Who my calendar says is nine years old).
“Uber is ubiquitous.”
Peter Grenell

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Today a rat ran between my legs and tripped me as I walked along Soi Nana back to my apartment.

Outside of that little event, the days here have been mostly rainy and devoid of drama. In the mornings the sun comes out long enough for me to get in my swim at the health club — then off to my massage and back to the apartment and lunch before the rains begin. One weekend, we went to Jomtien Beach and stayed at the guest house of the sad-faced woman with the child whose maladies condemn her only to lie on a cot and be fed. During the mornings and the evenings, we walked along the beach and enjoyed stirring sunrises and magnificent sunsets.
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Other than that, I have mostly spent time talking with a few friends and acquaintances and swapping stories.
The Deep Sea Diver.

Several times during my stay, I visited with the deep sea diver who, after seeing the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, left the potential of life as a mob enforcer in Pennsylvania to become a commercial deep sea diver in Florida and the Caribbean. After a career of underwater construction, treasure hunting, salvage, commercial sailing and various less savory occupations, he washed up in Bangkok where he lives in a small hotel room near my apartment.
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The Deep Sea Diver posing before a massive anchor he salvaged using only truck tire inner-tubes that he transported to salvage sites in the van in the background.

In his locker at the health club, he keeps a couple cigar boxes filled with the ashes of two friends who had asked him to spread them around their favorite Bangkok Bars and Night Clubs after they died.

The walls of his room are covered with pictures of his adventures and mementos of friends who have passed away. Each time a friend dies, he pins a remembrance onto his wall, drinks a pint of cheap Thai whiskey and morns.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5

The most recent death was of Manfred Dietrich, 83. Hung on the wall is a piece of sail-cloth Dietrich had made for the deep sea diver and pinned to it, Manfred’s obituary.

Manfred left Germany at an early age and when he was seventeen he sailed as a crew on the three-masted ship to Si.Thomas in the Caribbean. He found an abandoned house 0n an Island in the middle of St. Thomas Bay where he settled and became a well-known sailmaker. He never learned to swim and rarely left the island except for short trips into St. Thomas in a small sail boat. The deep-sea diver and his gang also lived on the island for a while. They became friends with the sailmaker. The sail-maker was found next to his sailboat. He apparently planned to take it out to go to St. Thomas, fell out of the boat, and drowned.

One day, while I was visiting, the old sailor he told me about the time he lived on Easter Island for several months with his then girlfriend. It was all quite spooky, the large statues everywhere and the Chilean Government who administers the island had been sending criminals to the island to replace natives who expressed any interest in independence. One afternoon, he and his girlfriend attended the annual Rodeo at which they round up the wild horses on the island, herd them into a large stone circle and under the solemn eyes of those somber effigies, slaughter them in the most horrendous and bloody way possible well into the night — like something out of a Lovecraft novel.

Although he is a bit laconic and not given to lengthy stories, during our visits, I toured the world through him, from the South Pacific to the gigantic WWII statues in Moscow, to crossing Australia from Perth to Sidney and back again and living for a month or two in the shadow of Ayres Rock — from the Florida Keyes during the days of the cigarette-boat runs to Lisbon where some of the dealers invested their money.

As he told me, “I loved diving and sailing, but I lived my life to travel and see the world.”
The Gemologist.

There are those lucky few of whom it can be said, “They lived a life of adventure.” Richard, with whom I had a few boozy story filled afternoons during my current stay in Bangkok, is one of them. Described as an American adventurer, gemologist, artist, ethnographer, trader in gemstones, art and ethnic arts dealer, and restauranteur, I was introduced to him about a decade ago, by the Canadian author and Bangkok resident Christopher G. Moore. In several of his novels, Richard appeared as a soldier of fortune whose derring-do assisted Vinny Calvino, Moore’s fictional ex-pat detective, to a successful resolution of his case.

He grew up in the Bay Area, graduated from the California institute of Art, owned a restaurant in San Francisco’s Japan Town and attended the Gemological Institute of America before his love affair with the area and his business interests led him to South-East Asia. I first met him in the Lone Star, an ex-pat dive in Bangkok’s Washington Square Area. The area was a haunt of the US military, especially Air-America personnel and others during the Viet Nam War and after. It also attracted ex-pat writers and other artists. Unfortunately, the Washington Square area has recently been demolished and replaced with a large condominium development. Here is a cite to the mystery writer Dean Burdett’s elegy to the passing of Washington Square http://www.wowasis.com/travelblog/?p=5166 . It contains Richard’s (Burma Richard as he has been called at times) painting of the last day of the Lone Star.
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Southern Chin

It was about 1980 when Richard began crossing the border from Thailand into Burma and into the dangerous mountains of Burma where he found not only rubies and sapphires but long lost and little-known tribes. These tribes were in danger of disappearing due to their decades-long battles with the Burmese government. Richard began photographing them and eventually produced an ethnographical masterpiece, The Lost Tribes of Burma. Here are two of those photographs.

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NAGA
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AKHA

(The male in the photographs is from the Naga tribe that is reputed to still practice head hunting.)

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Rubies on Gold, from Richard Durian’s ‘Burma Collection” http://www.diranart.com/web/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

As a gemologist in South-East Asia, his business brought him into contact with interesting people and involved in fascinating situations, such as meetings with agents of South American drug dealers looking to buy gems or dealing with hard-nosed Chinese gem dealers. Here is part of a story that appears in his blog about a gem deal gone bad:

“In strand fashion, the room boy in a starched white suit arrived with the tall glass of Cointreau on a silver tray and brought it to my table. Giving him a few hundred kyats, I waited until the door shut behind him and picked up my diamond with the tweezers, the one I had brought with me, and suspended it underneath the thick clear liquor to break the surface tension, and dropped it in a liquid free fall. I mentally noted the known diamond’s rate of falling as I brought it nearly to the surface and released again.

Then I took the Chinese seller’s diamonds and one by one, holding them under the surface of the Cointreau, released them and watched the rate of sinkage. Invariably, his diamonds fell at a rate almost twice that of my diamond. I compared my diamond to the rate of sinkage with my ruby. The ruby, possessing a greater density than my diamond, sank noticeably quicker. I then submerged his diamond with my ruby and released them into the Cointreau at the same time. Holding my face closely to the glass of Cointreau, I saw his diamond sink more quickly than my ruby. Something was definitely wrong. Estimating a ratio of sinkage between the two materials, I determined his diamond must be substantially softer than natural diamond owing to the distinct polishing marks on the girdle of every one of his stones. I crossed the room and had the Chinese seller and the European buyer observe the test with their own eyes. Several times I performed the hydrostatic test in the Cointreau as they looked on incredulously.

I told them that in my opinion as a gemologist that these stones were not diamond, in fact could not be diamond, but were a Russian stimulant, cubic zirconium, which has a specific gravity of 5.70 nearly double that of real diamond, and that is why they fell twice as fast while submerged in the Cointreau.

The buyer hastily gathered up his money and stuffed it into a bag. The Chinese seller became the red color of a thermometer bulb, spitting in Cantonese staccato, and in English how thirty years in the business made him an expert and how his people in Hong Kong were beyond reproach, but he knew that the test could not lie. If he wasn’t trying to swindle, then he had been swindled. Either way, the deal was off.” http://www.diranart.com/

For those interested in learning more about him here is a cite to an article in Asia Week: http://edition.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/98/0227/feat2.html and here is his own version of his travels among the Lost Tribes of Burma in a speech he gave in Rangoon where he was introduced by the Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the occasion of his donation of the photographs to the National Museum on Yangon. http://www.burma-richard.org/2013/11/the-vanishing-tribes-of-burma.html
The Musician and the Newspaperman.

My long time friend Cordt, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute who now lives in Chiang Mai, came to Bangkok one weekend. Cordt is a musician who plays in a classical rock/rockabilly group in Chiang Mai. Although the government discourages foreign musicians from performing in local clubs, by last minute announcements and the internet, his group has been able to build up a considerable a local following.

Cordt is also an artist, specializing in collages and has begun showing his work at local galleries.
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Cordt Holland, Rockabilly. http://www.cordtholland.com/

We agreed to meet at a bar on Soi 11 where Chris Moore was previewing a documentary he produced about the controversial painter Peter Klashorst.
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By Peter Klashorst
As usual with documentaries of this sort the subject is allowed to go on incessantly about himself as though the director fears to cut out any of his immortal words. There are no immortal words. There is only confirmation of our current biases.

Anyway, after the show, Cordt, Scott (the newsman of the heading, recently retired for the Bangkok Post), LM and I went to a Mexican restaurant further along the Soi where we drank pitchers of Margaritas made with bad tequila, ate some Mexican food and laughed a lot until we were quite drunk.

img_2206Cordt, Scott, and LM

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

This is a continuation of my ramble through my favorite eras of history that I began in a previous post.

The First Centuries:

The Romans were a different breed of conqueror. They did not conquer simply because it was there, or for the glory of the kingdom, or to expand the marvels of their culture or even to rape and steal the land and wealth of those they conquered. No, the Roman conquests were a business and only a business, and in the Levant when the Romans arrived along with them came Herod who the Romans installed as king of most of their holdings in the area — sort of like a branch manager or CEO of a subsidiary.

Now Herod is one of those people called The Great, and great he was. He was undoubtedly the greatest architect and city builder of his time. He was one of the greatest business minds of his generation capturing the date trade and arranging business deals with other world leaders like Cleopatra and Marc Anthony. He kept his kingdom relatively peaceful and prosperous and made his pastiche of a kingdom more than just an intersection for the armies of the great empires to pass through on their way to slaughter each other. For the first time, Judea meant something among the nations of the world, maybe not as much as Rome but certainly as much as anyone else in the area.

Herod was also insane. He liked killing his wives (of which he had a good number) and his children (also a good number). He thought they all were out to kill him and take away his kingdom (probably a good guess). When later in his reign he retreated to Masada, he built a massive palace on one end of the mesa and carved out a 24-hour orgy pit in the face of the bluff about 100 feet from the top where he could look out from his aerie and see a good portion of his kingdom. At the far opposite end of the mesa, he built a few McMansions for his wives and children so that he could keep an eye on them and they could not sneak up on him at night or scramble down the sheer cliffs and escape to cause trouble.

He also was good at taking care of the Judeans who were suspicious of him. You see, he wasn’t a Judean, he wasn’t even a Galilean he was an Idumean. When the Maccabees went on their little conquering spree they took over the adjacent kingdom to the southwest, Idumea. The Idumeans did not belong to the same club as the Judeans and Galileans and others who lived in Egypt, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. So, after their defeat, the more ambitious of the Idumeans, among which were Herod’s parents, surrendered a body part and joined the club. As a result, the Judeans were wary of him and he knew it and so he took action mollify them. None of which, by the way, included living his own life according to Judean Law.
(to be continued)

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Code of Hammurabi —value of a fetus and of a woman:

209. If a superior man strikes a woman of superior class and thereby causes her to miscarry her fetus, he shaHerodll weigh and deliver ten shekels of silver for her fetus.
210. If that woman should die, they shall kill his daughter.
211. If he should cause a woman of commoner class to miscarry her fetus by the beating, he shall weigh and deliver five shekels of silver.
212. If that woman should die, he shall weigh and deliver thirty shekels of silver.
213. If he strikes a slave-woman of a superior man and thereby causes her to miscarry her fetus, he shall weigh and deliver two shekels of silver.
214. If that slave-woman should die, he shall weigh and deliver twenty shekels of silver.

Biblical marriage:

‘If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife’ (Deuteronomy 22: 28-9).

(By the way, when I first traveled to Sicily in the late 1960s that was still the law in certain parts of the island. If you wanted to marry the girl of your dreams and she refused you, you and some of your best buds broke into her house, abducted the object of your affections and raped her. Now, despoiled of her dowry value she was required to marry you. You did not even have to pay the 50 shekels.)

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A.Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Muriel Rukeyser opined; “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

While I agree about the stories, I disagree about atoms.

The universe, as we have known for about 100 years now, is made of quanta and not atoms. And, as science tells us, quanta do not exist until observed. (You know Heisenberg’s cats and all that.) And, when we observe quanta, then we can know things like their location, state, history and even gain a glimpse of their possible future. In other words, things exist only when we know their story.

The question remains, however, do stories exist before they are told to another?

 

B. Today’s Poems:

Steamboat Willie

I saw Mickey Mouse
As Steamboat Wille
On the telly
Last night
We both have skinny arms
But I can’t whistle.

The Avatar

On worried wings.
he softly sings
of dreams of fire
and ghostly things
with deep desire.
C. Comments on my previous post:

1.Aline.

Joe, I love your dreams. Who cares what they mean — if they make you laugh, keep dreaming! I am retiring on 11-30-16 so please change my email to ——————so I do not miss any of your further adventures, be they in Mendocino, Thailand or your dreams.

My response:

Thank you. I do not know how the office will manage without you. Hopefully, you’ll get to travel more and take more of those wonderful photographs.

2. Peter.

So you made it to BKK, Joe-good! Of course, your travel tale reminds me why Travel can be fascinating except for the Systems and Functionaries that Get In The Way and make it complicated and dreary. Being a hypochondriac doesn’t help, but that’s your cross to bear.

Little Masseuse is perceptive.

Thinking of which (bearing crosses), your First Centuries musings remind me that I just finished reading Christopher Moore’s (not “G” Moore) book “Lamb”. If you haven’t, you must read this. It’s told by Biff, best childhood friend of Jesus. ‘nuff said.

Incidentally, I couldn’t remember what I just read and had to get up and check the bookshelf to find out that it was “Lamb”. The potential bright side to this is that if it starts occurring for/to/by you, you’ll forget about the stuff you get hypochondriac about. Further, you could photo the rich red ketchup pee, wait a bit and eat some beets, and photo the deep purple pee from that (wear your Prince outfit). Do this with a few more colorful foodstuffs, create an exhibit with picture captions from suitable bits from your dreams, and display it at one of the galleries in the newly rediscovered and now-hip Dogwatch neighborhood, get noticed, become really rich and notorious (famous is fleeting), and travel in your own plane named in big letters the mysterious “REDPEE”.

Alternatively:

The Moonstone Circle glamor car riff is brilliant. You must acquire, rent, or otherwise obtain a beat up, mauve, anonymous Pinto or Henry J and slip into the “drive around” and see what happens. Have HRM video the reactions. Put That on Youtube.

I assume Maryann is recovered, and Mendocino too.

Meanwhile, muse news: Half of the band recorded an album of Americana-like originals in a proper studio (Grammy winner) in Oakland Jack London Square area. Others will record when schedules permit. The thing is aimed to surface next March. Technology uber alles. (Uber is ubiquitous.) Tomorrow we play at a spot along the annual Alzheimers fundraising walk (Ft. Mason-Marina-and back) – if I remember to get picked up. Our recent gig on the Sacramento Wine Train was fun in its own fluid fashion. The train got burglarized the night before our event; some train gear got ripped off. Nothing is sacred except the right to get as fabulously wealthy as you can at everyone else’s expense – and the Wailing Wall.

Non sequitur: The Coastal Conservancy will move from 1330 Bway into the Oakland State office building at the end of the year.

Anon.

My response:

Hypochondria is not a very good companion when you travel. But then it doesn’t do much for you at home either. On the other hand, I guess it is a comfort lying in your own bed when you’re having an imaginary illness.

LM is usually right, unfortunately.

As for the First Centuries, I still have to go through Herod the Insane, The Good Gay Jesus and Paulie the Apostate Mafioso.

Purple Pee would be a good name for a Hip Hop movie.

I have been meaning to read “Lamb.” Maybe this is a good time to get to it. Has anyone ever had a friend named “Biff,” or for that matter even known anyone named “Biff?” Maybe only God can have a friend called “Biff?” Maybe Biff pees purple. I bet Jesus would have liked that. Biff is a dogs name. Maybe Biff is a dog. Have I gone on long enough on this Biff riff? I’ll stop now.

MaryAnn is getting better — Mendocino, not so much.

Glad to hear that now that you are entering your late 70’s, your music career is taking off. Next, they will book your group at Carnegie Hall and the building will be stolen — by Biff. I can’t get Biff out of my mind. I’m Biff addled.

I agree it’s a Non-Sequitur. Perhaps Biff……..
3. AnnMarie.

Thank you for sharing the amusing story of hypochondria on your flight. It made me giggle out loud. I hope you are feeling better, and most of all, I’m glad you didn’t die. 😉

My response:

Thank you, I am glad I didn’t die too.

 

Categories: July through September 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 34 Pops 0005 (September 16, 2016)

 

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

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Roving bands of wild turkeys have taken over the streets of EDH. On our street, Moonstone Circle, the local gang begins flocking in the morning at one end of the street and continues pecking and gobbling along it until they reach the other end or the heat of the day forces them to take shelter like everyone else. I’ve named them the Moonstone Peckerhead Gang. (Now, I know that peckerhead is synonymous with dickhead, someone so stupid he may as well be thinking with his genitals, in other words, irretrievably stupid — but we are talking about turkeys here, the avian species to which that description most applies since the unfortunate disappearance of the Dodo.)

As long as I am writing about life in the Golden Hills — ever since HRM has gotten old enough to be fascinated with calling out the make and models of cars as we drive about, I have been stunned by the number of Teslas, Ferraris, Lamborghinis Maseratis, Bentleys and the like driving through the neighborhood. A few drivers spend their days in their outrageously priced vehicles tooling around the local shopping center parking lots for some reason.
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On weekends groups (usually made up of middle-aged overweight men) owning similar brand automobiles gather in the same shopping center parking lots, drinking lattes from Starbucks. They then jump into their cars and drive aimlessly through the town in packs. They remind me of the Moonstone Peckerhead Gang — all dressed up with nowhere to go.

The weekend was pleasant. On Saturday night, Dick and I had dinner with Stevie and Norbert on the patio of a restaurant overlooking the lake in Town Center. We talked about things that mostly took place about 40 years ago. The next day, I had lunch with Naida and Bill at the same restaurant. They had their new dog with them that they acquired from the rescue center. The three of us are about a decade older than my companions of the previous evening and Bill and me, at least, have passed our use by date. We discussed books, current events and future goals along with sharing recent personal medical adventures. Bill took a moment to delve into the past to dredge up a story about when he and the recently deceased Warren Hinckle served on the staff of the Stanford University humor magazine.

Mornings, after breakfast, I walk around Town Center Lakes for exercise. The path takes me past the health club pool. Since I am not allowed to swim until after my post-op doctor’s appointment, I often stop by the fence that separates the pool from the path and watch the swimmers. At that time of day, the pool is usually taken by the “alters’” (people my age and a bit younger) dance exercise class (wet Zumba, dripping disco ??). I sometimes get the urge to dance with them — they in the water and me on the path. Of course, I would be too embarrassed to do so. So I don’t.
img_2154
So after a few more days of doing nothing really, it was time to leave for Thailand

 
B. POOKIE’S MARVELOUS ADVENTURE FROM EL DORADO HILLS TO BANGKOK or FEAR AND LOATHING IN HYPOCHONDRIAVILLE:

As most of you know by now, I am a hypochondriac. I overreact to the slightest bodily unease with visions of my imminent demise. I guess you can say I am a melodramatic hypochondriac. What follows is my experience during my recent travels to Thailand.

With SWAC’s 20 kilo suitcase to deliver to friends and family in Thailand in tow, Dick dropped me off at the Capital Corridor station in Sacramento. About four hours later, I found myself standing at the Air China counter at SFO listening to the attendant tell me that there were no aisle seats available. I responded that if I did not get an aisle seat I would die of a pulmonary embolism like I almost did once before and I would bleed all over the plane from my recent operation and then my estate would sue the airline for all they were worth* and there would be a lot of trouble. She laughed, repeated “trouble” and gave me an aisle seat.

(* As my old torts professor told us that the victim in a lawsuit is worth far more injured and in permanent horrible pain than dead. So if you are ever at fault in an accident make sure your victims are dead and not injured. You will make your insurance company very happy.)

In the plane, a Philippine-American woman of indeterminant age (clearly too old to be young and a few years short of being old) sat in the middle seat next to me. She asked if I would be willing to change seats with her. I laughed and said, “I fought too hard for this seat to give it up now.”

During the flight, as I watched the movies (mostly cartoons), I noticed the woman next to me talking to the movie on her screen. So, I shut down mine, watched hers, and listened to her non-stop dialogue with the actors.

About two-thirds of the way across the Pacific, I realized I had not taken my blood thinner pill. Convinced I would die of an embolism if I did not do so, I rooted through my carry-on, found the bottle, and swallowed a pill. Alas, after I had done so, I recalled that I normally break the pill apart and take only about one-quarter of it. Believing my now super-thinned blood would soon leach into my body cavity followed by the bursting of the scars from my recent operation, I was sure I would be dead before we landed in Beijing.

I did not die. Instead, I experienced the Chinese international flight transfer passengers ritual. In the USA, the TSA continues to add more and more personnel to stand around and bully passengers but they never seem to increase the number of lanes for processing. The Chinese, on the other hand, place a single functionary at each end of several long halls through which the transferring passengers are forced to walk. Each functionary slowly checks over the same traveler’s documents (passport and ticket) as they pass from hall to hall. Finally, the travelers having had their passports checked by several functionaries, arrive at a place where many signs are posted requiring the passengers to empty their luggage of just about everything they could possibly carry and place them in separate bins to pass through the security equipment. This whole procedure so slows down the process that only a single security apparatus is adequate to handle the dribbling in of passengers as they emerge from the lengthy bureaucratic gauntlet.

Anyway, off I flew from Beijing on a much smaller aircraft. One without personal TV at each seat. About an hour into the five-hour flight, I developed a need to use the lavatory.

When I was discharged from the hospital after my recent operation, I was given a number of sheets of paper describing what I should or shouldn’t do as I recuperate. On one, in bold type, was written: YOU MAY EXPERIENCE AN EPISODE WHEN YOUR URINE STREAM IS THE COLOR AND TEXTURE OF CATSUP. THIS IS NORMAL. DO NOT BE AFRAID. At my post-op meeting with the urologist three days before my flight, the doctor repeated the warning and urged me not to be afraid if this happens. So here I was in the tiny restroom of an airplane 35,000 feet above China and I looked down to see a steady stream of catsup flowing out of my body into the bowl. Despite all the warnings, I was afraid — very afraid.

I made my way back to my seat and sat there somewhat rigidly, persuaded I was sure to die before we arrived in Bangkok. We arrived in BKK at about midnight and I was still alive. I took a taxi to my apartment and upon entering it went directly to the bathroom. The catsup was still flowing.

Now, convinced death certainly would overtake me before morning, I contemplated the possibility of spending my last night on earth running up Soi Nanna, dashing through the ladyboy center of the universe at Nana Plaza, climbing to the top of the building and throwing myself off to crash through the roof of Bangkok Hooters or Bangkok Bunnies night club as a demonstration of my opposition to the corporate commercialization of what used to be simple two-part exchanges. Alas, like most people when confronted with the end having not completed their bucket list, I went to bed — and dreamed:

I dreamt I was a very very rich and very corrupt man who realized that the world was rapidly going to hell, primarily because of the activities rich and corrupt people like me. I could, I thought, use my wealth and power to protect myself and continue living the high life while the world careened to its end. Perhaps even building a huge underground bunker somewhere in the Rockies where I could live with my mothballed yachts and automobiles until it all blew over.

Alas, I realized instead, sooner or later things would get so bad that the proles would grab their guns, break into my bunker and shoot my sorry ass even before the rest of the world ends. So, I decided the best way to protect myself was to save the world myself and while so doing become even richer and more corrupt. As an added benefit, should I be successful, I, eventually, would be considered a saint or hero by the public who survive along with me.

The next day I woke up at about noon and found that I was still alive. In the bathroom, I checked and found the catsup gone replaced by something that looked more like year old green tea dregs. I took this as a sign that I would live for a few more days at least, so I decided to eat a breakfast of instant coffee and some buns from 7/11 that were renowned for their lack of taste. By the time I finished eating and staring at the wall, it was 4 o’clock and almost time for dinner, so I dressed, went to a small restaurant near the apartment and had a pretty good plate of sweet and sour pork. I returned to my apartment and was struck with jet-lag so I went back to bed. And I had another dream:

I was riding in a car driving along a ridge near the California Coast and as I looked our over the ocean I saw, far off, a wave building that was higher than the ridge we were driving on. The driver said it looks like we were going to be hit by several giant tsunamis and we must get over the mountains and into to the Central Valley to be safe. He drove me about five miles inland where he dropped me off to meet my brother. We planned to ride our bicycles across the coastal range and into the valley. But, unfortunately, my bike was lost. So my brother (who was nine years old) and I ran for our house. We climbed to the third floor hoping to ride out the Tsunami. The first wave hit. I protected my brother with my body. We survived. I knew we had to leave before the next wave arrived.

I went to the front of the house where some relatives lived to see if they survived. I despised this family — no that’s not strong enough — I loathed them. Even that is not strong enough. I hated them since I was two when I went directly from the security of my baby bottle to loathing these people. (I have many unresolved anger management issues in my dreams.)

During my youth, not knowing where my parents were, I spent much of my time being passed around to various families among whom were these particular relatives. Among the many reasons for my hate of them in addition to their generally detestable behavior was that they told me told me Santa Claus was not real then laughed at my disappointment. Actually, there was one member of the family I could tolerate. He was always very nice to me. Many years later I learned he became a serial child molester.

They all survived the tsunami except for my uncle by marriage’s mother. “I had hoped you all were dead” I screamed at them. “I’m glad the old lady is dead. Now we don’t have to drag her wretched boney ass across the mountains.” I ran back up to the third floor and picked up my brother who had shrunk from a nine-year-old to a three-year-old.

We stood there by the window looking out at the mountains. We saw our father driving what looked like a 1925 Rolls-Royce Phaeton racing a 2016 black Lexus down the mountain. They drove straight at the house. At the last moment. they swerved off in a wide circle around the house. When they appeared again, they seemed to be heading back up the mountain. Suddenly my father’s car slid on a puddle of water, skidded across the road, bumped over the curb careened through a large parking lot and over another curb, smashed through a fence and climbed up a billboard where they stopped teetering on the edge. My mother and father exited the car and climbed down from the billboard on which it hung. My father stood there, arms upraised shouting, “Why me God? Why me?” My mother, furious, stalked away. They were dressed in 1940s style. My mom in a smart floral print dress and a tiny hat and my father looking a bit like Clyde Barker.

I was distraught, I imagined that we would have to walk up the mountain with slight hope of crossing it before the next tsunami. In addition, I would have to carry my now screaming and urine soaked brother. I also would be traveling in the company of relatives I despised and wished were dead while being forced to listen to my parents argue. I imagined my mother saying something like, “Why God? I’ll tell you why God. Because you’re stupid, no you’re a fucking idiot, that’s why God.”

Suddenly I started laughing uncontrollably and the laughing woke me up and it woke up the Little Masseuse who was sleeping on the floor at the foot of the bed. She said, “You crazy. You very crazy.”

I lay back on my pillow and tried to figure out what the dream meant. I remembered that I had read somewhere that dreaming about water had something to do with sex. Putting that together with the rest of my dream, I realized I did not want to go there. So, I practiced my breathing exercises and contemplated the words of that great American philosopher and wry observer of antebellum Georgia society Scarlett O’Hara who, following Sherman’s laying waste to everything important in her life, opined, “Tomorrow is another day.”

At least, I certainly hope so.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

This is the continuation of a somewhat irreverent look at those eras in history of particular interest to me and over which I obsess.

The First Centuries, continued.

The reckoning began in the mountains not too far from Jerusalem. Not everyone loved the Hellenes. Among the goat herders, smugglers and camel drivers of rural Judea the hijinks and highlife of the cities did not sit well. And as often happens in these cases, a group of aggressive young men took up the cause of freedom or, in this case, the protection of their way of life from what appeared to be godless liberalism. The aggressive young men were five brothers. They were called the Maccabees or translated, “Hammers.” And, hammers they were. As a guerrilla band, they eked out the conquest of the stony hills and eventually the hedonistic and increasingly Hellenic City of Jerusalem. And, as these things go, having achieved their objective of imposing a Calvinistic state on Jerusalem and the rest of Judea, they set of to conquer Samaria, Galilee and a few other bits and pieces or the area — well, just because they could — until they had built themselves a nice little kingdom, not large as kingdoms go but not too shabby. During the conquests, sadly the brothers were killed one by one until none remained. Not to worry, one of the cousins valiantly volunteered to take on the onerous job of King. He was no hammer and held on for dear life.

During the one hundred or so years of the Maccabees and the Hasmonean (The Maccabee family name) dynasty, the Judean national emphasis became more pronounced in the religious documents as several new books were added to the bible, older ones revised, and commentaries written. The Maccabees alone added four new books glorifying their exploits and their Judean historical focus. This was so outrageous that even the Hebrews of the time rejected including them in the Old Testament. For some reason, the Christians. on the other hand. decided to add the first two to their version.

So, not only did we have all the problems associated with monotheism, the personal and only deity, but now we have this God obsessed with in a tiny group of people almost a club or fraternity where membership, primarily limited to legacy admissions, was otherwise exceedingly difficult to obtain requiring the surrender of a piece of applicants body.

What I find most remarkable, however, is that this one and only God chose as the promised land for his people the dry rocky land that included Jerusalem and the surrounding hills. He could have chosen Tahiti or Tuscany or hundreds of other places more promising. Even in the Middle-East except for the desert itself, this was about the least desirable real estate one could imagine. But who knows why God does what he does. Maybe he was pissed off at them for getting lost in the desert.

Anyway, while everyone was arguing about this and that, the Romans arrived, and along with the Romans came King Herod and for everyone in the area as well as for much of the earth the world changed and not for the better.
(To be continued perhaps)

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1641. Massachusetts enacts the first slavery law in the British colonies in order to enslave its indigenous Native American population.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

 

B. Today’s Poem:

Washington Mews
Rowan Ricardo Phillips, 1974

I won’t ever tell you how it ended.
But it ended. I was told not to act
Like it was some big dramatic moment.
She swiveled on her heels like she twirled just
The other day on a bar stool, the joy
Gone out of it now. Then she walked away.
I called out to her once. She slightly turned.
But she didn’t stop. I called out again.
And that was when, well, that’s just when
You know: You will always be what you were
On that small street at that small time, right when
She left and Pluto sudsed your throat and said,
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche
Tú la quisiste, y a veces ella también te quiso.

 

C. Comments on my previous post:

1. Terry.

Well, Warren made the front page of the Chronicle ABOVE THE FOLD!

God speed my friend!

It’s too bad he never saw it. He would have loved the placement of his obit. And the photo of his being arrested for walking his dog without a license.

An amazing character who I had the privilege to know.

2. Stevie.

…and back page above the fold in this morning’s NYT..

3. Madelyn.

I just arrived in Mendocino where we have a cottage on the coast. We came from Oregon and stopped at Lake Earl and Tolowa which was a place I helped keep from mechanical breaching so that lot owners could build on their submerged lots. It is achingly beautiful and peaceful and a mystery next to Crescent City and the worst prison in Ca. Stuff like this makes me happy–the lagoons not the prison

You’ve written about your adventures in Mendocino so often that you must feel something about this place, or at least your family here. I would live here, arrested in the 60’s if not for my urban mate.

So glad you are feeling better and missed the surgery together. Absolutely the best way to have surgery. Feel well and happy in Thailand.

My response:

thank you. my sister has a house in Mendocino on the north side of the high school. it is one of the older ones with a water tower.

we have a family story about how my sister came to love Mendocino and promised herself she would live there eventually.

when she was 16 she and her friend Andrea came out to san Francisco to visit me. they really had never traveled before and relied on me to watch over them. she asked if there was any place I recommended she visit. I suggested Mendocino. they inquired if I would drive them. I explained that I was too busy on things coastal and suggested they take a bus. then I promptly left. so, the girls found a bus which arrived in Mendocino in the dead of night. they spent a horrific night in the old sand and sea hotel fighting off rats. they were tired and angry (at me mostly) when they got up the next day. It was a beautiful day and when she emerged from the hotel and saw the town and the bluffs and water she immediately decided that this was where she wanted to live.

4. Fede.

I’m glad to hear you Are feeling well and happy!
If I was there I drove you at home!!!

No one shouldn’t come back home alone after a surgery… I read you are going in Thailand , so
Please take a lot of pictures and send me some of them 🙂
Take care of you,
5. Aline.

Loved the description of your surgery and driving yourself home! GO, JOE, GO!!!

And to all those who offered to drive me home from the hospital if they had known I needed a ride, thank you.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Finance regularly outspends every other industry on lobbying efforts in Washington, DC, which has enabled it to turn back key areas of regulation [remember the trading loopholes pushed into the federal spending by the banking industry in 2014?] and change our tax and legal codes at will. Increasingly, the power of these large, oligopolistic interests is remaking our unique brand of American capitalism into a crony capitalism more suited to a third-world autocracy than a supposedly free-market democracy.”
Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.

Urban Edginess— https://planningimplementation.wordpress.com/

Categories: July through September 2015, July through September 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005 ( August 25, 2016)

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005

“Fair is a body pigment, that’s all it is.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 495). Harper Collins.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Because there was no one available to drive me, I drove myself to the hospital. After passing through admitting, I found myself lying on a bed in the pre-op ward. The people involved in the surgery each came by to chat, the nurse, the doctor who wrote all over my body with indelible ink so he would not forget what he was supposed to be doing in the operating room — and the anesthesiologist. I told the latter, “Look, I don’t do pain well. I do not want to see anything, hear anything or feel anything. And, when I wake up, I want to be happy.” “ Happy,” he said, “I understand.”

As they were rolling the bed toward the operating room, anesthesiologist sidled up to us like a schoolyard dope dealer. He was carrying a large hypodermic in one hand. When I asked what it contained, he garbled two polysyllabic words I did not understand, and added, “ Also something I am not allowed to mention.” He then plunged the hypodermic into my IV line and ran off chuckling.

They wheeled me into the operating room and placed the bed next to the wall where I would wait for everything to be made ready. I closed my eyes, after a few moments I became annoyed it was taking so long, so I opened my eyes and said to the nurse, “What’s taking so long?” She said, “The operation’s over, you’re in the recovery room now.” I was very happy. I remained happy the entire evening. I even enjoyed the hospital food. I remained happy three days later as I write this.

I was scheduled to leave the hospital the day after the operation but they would not let me leave unless someone came to drive me home. I tried find someone to do so, but no one was available. I thought I would just sneak out, get in my car and drive home. But, they refused to remove the IV before whoever was driving me showed up. I thought of just ripping it out and making a break for it, but like I said I don’t do pain well. So, I suggested they call a taxi. They did so. The nurse removed the IV to allow me to dress and left to deal with her other patients. I quickly dressed, walked out of the ward and the hospital, got into my car, and drove myself home. When I arrived home, I received a call from the nearly hysterical nurse asking where I had gotten to. I told her that since I saw no one on the ward to accompany me after I dressed, I decided to walk to the reception area to wait for the taxi. There I met some people I knew that kindly drove me home. I suggested she call the taxi company and cancel the ride. Although I was still happy, I was sad about the stress I caused the nice kindly nurse. On the other hand, I was home and I was pleased I did not have to go back to pick up my car.

My euphoria extended to my desires. Things that had been reduced to smokey memory exploded in blazing promise. I guess that makes me now a dirty old goat. There is nothing more reviled than a dirty old goat — no, make that everyone reviles a dirty old goat other than the dirty old goat himself. He knows the condition is ephemeral and temporary like puberty. He knows that to anyone who lived for over 75 years one, two, or three years of anything is just a drop in the bucket of one’s life and the next best thing to meaningless.

After my post op meeting with my doctor next week, I plan to travel to Thailand for a month.

In the meantime, I spend the mornings walking around the lake in Town Center and the afternoons escaping the heat by resting in the house with blinds drawn.
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Town Center Lake

During my morning drive to his new Middle School, HRM makes sure I laugh during the entire trip so that I am diverted from droning on with grandfatherly advice.

There has been a massive earthquake in Italy yesterday. Its epicenter was about 20 miles from my familiy’s towns in Sabina. My son Jason is there now on vacation. I called him. He was ok but they were still feeling the aftershocks. There appeared to be little damage in Casperia or Roccantica where most of the relatives live.
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Casperia

B. WARREN HINCKLE, RIP:

Warren Hinckle died today. Although he gave voice to the political aspirations of the counter-culture of the 1960s, most people from San Francisco would recognize him as the eye-patch wearing journalist-political gadfly who a few weeks before election day would publish a political broadsheet happily skewering most of the candidates.

While I could never say we were friends, over the years we would occasionally meet up and spend a delightful time together drinking heavily and talking deeply. Many of those meetings occurred at an annual Christmas/New Year’s party in a well-known Greek restaurant attended by many of the City’s great, near great and those who thought themselves as great. Hinckle and I would retire to a booth and enjoy a pleasant boozy few hours swapping political tales and scandals. Another time, we sat in the stands together at a Superbowl in Miami when the Niners demolished San Diego and spent much of the second half when the game was far out of reach for SD, gossiping about the peccadilloes’ of the high and the mighty.

While no one would refer to him as kind and gentle, he took such joy in his occupation and his one eye would twinkle so gaily that, even if you were the object of his diatribes, you would sooner rather than later forgive him.

Although I will miss him, the City of San Francisco will miss him more. He undoubtedly will be enshrined in the pantheon of the City’s greatest characters along with The Emperor Norton, Dashiell Hammett, and Carol Doda.
From his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“‘Warren was the godfather of California — and you could say, national —progressive journalism,’ said David Talbot, whose book ‘Season of the Witch’ details the tumultuous history of San Francisco from the 1960s to the early ’80s. ‘As a newsman, he just loved the ’60s as a story, with all its weirdness, from the Black Panthers to hippies in the Haight to the Kennedy assassination. No publication caught it better than Ramparts — it led directly to publications like Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and Salon,’ the web magazine Talbot co-founded in 1995.’”
“One of the milestone moments for Mr. Hinckle came when he assigned Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby in 1970 for Scanlan’s Monthly. The resultant rollicking article, ‘The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,’ not only launched the over-the-top, personalized journalism that came to be known as gonzo, it began a lifelong friendship between Mr. Hinckle and Thompson.”

“‘In the beginning, we all believed,’ Mr. Hinckle wrote on the first page of the book (His autobiography, ‘When you have a Lemon, make Lemonade’). ‘We believed in many things, but mostly in America. If the decade must be summarized, it could be said that the youth of America, who had so recently studied it in civics classes, tested the system — and it flunked.’”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The First Centuries: (continued from last post)

Around 300 BC everything changed — at least in the part of the world we are interested in. About then, The Boy King of Macedonia, Alexander, soon to be granted the title, The Really Great, graduated from middle school and decided he wanted to see the world before continuing his education. So, along with about 40,000 of his closest friends he set off and along the way conquered much of the known world (at least the world known to him and his friends) and a lot of the world they never knew about — until about 10 years later they found themselves camped on the edge of a river in India. One evening, most of his friends came up to The Really Great and said, “Look Alex, it’s been 10 years now, it’s really been fun but we really have to get back to our education and jobs. So, tomorrow we are heading back. You can come along or not.”

Alex cried. He knew they had to get back, but he really had his heart set on spending a few weeks on a beach on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, kicking back and drinking Mai Tais with little pink umbrellas.

So, the next day they set off back to where they came from and where some of his closest friends, his bros, poisoned Alex and split up his empire among themselves. Now although this is important, it is not what interests us here. What does interest us here is that Alex and his Hellenes (what they were called instead or Greeks) would plant whole cities filled with Hellenes every place they went, like rabbit droppings. It seems for some reason, a whole lot of Hellenes wanted to live anywhere but Greece.
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Hellenes — apotheosis?

Even near Galilee in Canaan they built 10 cities for these Hellenes to live in called the Decapolis (“ten cities” in greek).

Another thing about these Hellenes was that they were way cool. They loved sex with everyone of any age and any sex. They partied late into the night drinking strong wine and talking about triangles, walking into walls, and smokey shadows in caves. They liked dressing up like the KKK and going into caverns late at night, bringing in blindfolded people who wanted to join their club and making them believe they were going to die or eat ca-ca. Then they would then take off the blindfolds and discover they were eating dolmas and not ca-ca and everyone would slap them on their back and they would become very happy knowing they could now do this to others.

Also, many of the Hellenes could write, not just the scribes, accountants, and priests in the temple and what they wrote about was marvelous, like the meaning of putting your toe in a fast flowing stream or the meaning of words you always thought you knew what they meant, really mean something you never thought about. They seemed to be curious about everything.

About 100 years after they arrived on the scene, some of the more curious of these Hellenes would encourage a few Semitic speakers to write down in Greek the collected stories of some of their people. They copied these tales into a book, or scroll more likely, called the Septuagint for reasons too long to tell here. What is interesting about this book is that it was not written in Canaan but in Egypt where the fantasies of Anknahten still floated around the elite and educated class and where the Hellenes living in and around Alexandria in Egypt were also into some crazy mystical shit and crystals.

Back in Canaan and just about everywhere these Hellenes settled, many Nabateans, Arameans, Samaritans, Judeans and other Semitic speaking people moved into the cities with the Hellenes to enjoy the good life. Many Hellenes also moved into local cities like Jerusalem where they continued their antics — A lot like the Hippies flooding into SF in the sixties.

Alas, many of the people living in the hills, dells, and hamlets of Canaan did not like the Hellenes ideas and behavior and saw them as irresponsible and dangerous, and a threat to their way of life. Sort of like in the sixties when most of the country saw the Hippies with their sex, drugs, rock and roll and enlightened consciousness as a threat to their way of life. It seems there are always those who believe being happy and enjoying oneself is irresponsible and evil, but being angry, miserable and oppressed as they were was nature’s way. So it was also in Canaan at the time and, like the satisfaction many Americans felt after Altamont, a lot of people went about searching for a reckoning of sorts.
(to be continued in the next post)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Of all the honors I have received, the one of which I am most fond was when the secretaries of the California Office of Planning and Research voted me “Telephone Asshole of the Year.”

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Globally, the value of all outstanding derivatives contracts (including credit default swaps, interest rate derivatives, foreign exchange rate derivatives, commodities-linked derivatives, and so on) was $630 trillion at the beginning of 2015, while the gross market value of those contracts was $21 trillion.”
Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. On Top: Ecological Causes of the war in the Middle-East.

In an insightful analysis Gianluca Serra, examines the Civil War in Syria. He points out that it is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes — a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a ‘rural intifada’ of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

“A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.
Back in 2009, I dared to forecast that if the rampant desertification process gripping the Syrian steppe was not halted soon, it could eventually become a trigger for social turmoil and even for a civil war.

I was being interviewed by the journalist and scholar Francesca de Chatel- and was feeling deeply disillusioned about Syrian government’s failure to heed my advice that the steppe, which covers over half of the country’s land mass, was in desperate need of recuperation.

I had just spent a decade (four years of which serving a UN-FAO project aimed at rehabilitating the steppe) trying to advocate that livestock over-grazing of the steppe rangelands was the key cause of its ecological degradation.

However, for the Syrian government’s staff, it was far too easy to identify and blame prolonged droughts (a natural feature of this kind of semi-arid environment) or climate change (which was already becoming a popular buzzword in those years). These external causes served well as a way to escape from any responsibility — and to justify their inaction.

In an article on The Ecologist, Alex Kirby writes that the severe 2006-2010 drought in Syria may have contributed to the civil war. Indeed it may — but this is to disregard the immediate cause — the disastrous over-exploitation of the fragile steppe ecosystem.

Before my time in Syria, as early as the 1970s, international aid organizations such as the UN-FAO had also flagged the dire need to not apply profit-maximization principles and to therefore not over-exploit the fragile ecosystem of the Syrian steppe.

Denial versus the power of an image

Finally, tired of repeating the same words all the time, I resorted to showing the government staff a self-explanatory picture taken in March 2008, a year of intense and dramatic drought. An image speaks more than a million words, I thought.

The picture [ not included] portrayed a fence separating a steppe terrain in two parts: the area on the left was open to sheep grazing; the area on the right had been instead protected for at least 10 years. The image revealed a lunar rocky landscape on the left, and a blossoming pasture on the right.

The image simply evidences, without need for any words, that the Syrian steppe ecosystem is perfectly adapted to cope with droughts — yes, even with extreme droughts exacerbated by climate change. However, this landscape can succumb easily to human irrationality and indifference. In front of that image, even the most verbose governmental staff would come to a pause — the jaw dropped for a moment.

In 2014, three years after social unrest first and then a brutal civil war erupted in the country, Francesca de Chatel published an interesting essay arguing that the inability of the Syrian government to tackle the rampant steppe’s ecological crisis, steadily unfolded over the course of 50 years of sustained mismanagement, has been one of the key triggers of the armed conflict in the country.

She mentions as other critical triggers the too fast economic liberalization plan, high rates of unemployment and corruption, and, sure enough, a long-term and suffocating lack of freedom.

Over-exploitation of an ecosystem

The Syrian steppe covers 55% of the country’s territory. This vast steppe land, together with portions from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has been grazed sustainably by nomadic indigenous pastoralists (Bedouins) for centuries (if not more). Each tribe and clan was linked to certain seasonal pastures and this ensured the sustainability of the grazing — a practice finely calibrated on the need of plant regeneration.

These pastoralists of Arabia are known to have been pioneers in establishing ‘protected areas’ (hema): certain pastures were relieved from grazing, permanently or temporary, in order to allow keeping the whole ecosystem healthy and functional.

The beginning of the ecological degradation and destruction came with the modern state, so keen to uncritically import ideas of maximization of agricultural yields from the Soviet Union: in particular the central government decided to nationalize the steppe in 1958, establishing de facto an open access system — a well-known recipe for ecological disaster.

Through this arrangement the customary link between the natural resource and its user was interrupted — abruptly disowning the traditional ecological knowledge of this ancient people. The pastures, not managed and protected anymore by the tribes, started to be over-grazed by free-ranging pastoralists.

A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

A similar sort of story of gross mismanagement took place in the eastern part of the Syria’s steppe land, the territory east to the Euphrates, allocated to intensive agriculture via irrigation through underground water.

Water has been pumped from limited underground reserves without much control for decades — so that wells had to be dug every year deeper and deeper with increasing consumption of fuel.

Year by year, desertification sets in

The alternation of wet and dry periods (sometimes lasting up to 5-7 years) is a key structural and natural feature of this kind of environment. The relentless ecological degradation of this semi-arid fragile ecosystem produced a gradual and steady decrease of its resilience in the face of cycles of droughts made increasingly more severe and frequent by a long-term regional drying pattern linked to the greenhouse effects.

Note that increasing the resilience of ecosystems is actually one of the key natural solutions as adaptation to climate change, as it is currently referred to within the circles of climate change international aid work.

While in the past the steppe was able to recover even following intense periods of droughts, during the past decade pastoralists and farmers have started to complain about a sharp and ineluctable reduction in soil fertility and an increase of frequency of fierce dust storms due to erosion.

An evident desertification process has been on display across the steppe land for quite some time. Recommendations to reduce the ecological pressure on this fragile environment — from myself and others — went unheard.

Ecological crisis fans the flames of rebellion

Following a recent cycle of intense drought during 2006-2010, the agriculture system eventually collapsed in eastern Syria greatly facilitated by an abrupt halt of government subsidies and consequent soaring prices of fuel for wells.

At the same time, the ecological impoverishment of the rangelands reached unheard-of levels. “The drought only brought to light a man-made disaster,” said a local journalist from eastern Syria to the International Crisis Group in 2009.

This combined ecological crisis of croplands and rangelands created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the rural areas of the country, followed by massive internal displacements, that the government clearly failed to tackle and manage.

For the first time ever Syria, known to be proudly autonomous in terms of food production (and actually even exporting food), had to rely on a massive international emergency food aid in 2008.

It is therefore not a coincidence that the uprising in 2011 started in provincial towns rather than in the major urban centres of Damascus and Aleppo, Francesca De Chatel argues, aptly defining the rebellion as a “rural Intifada” — one in which Bedouin tribes of steppe origin played a key role.

The same sort of conclusions were reached in analyzing the triggers of the Darfur war that took place from 2003 to 2010 not far from Syria. Darfur suffered from precisely the same sort of over-exploited semi-arid ecosystem, while once again rural and indigenous people were the victims, including nomadic pastoralists.

Life-enabling ecological conditions first

Only in recent times has the key role of ecological conditions in shaping the socio-economy of human populations and civilizations been fully acknowledged and understood. Thanks to a solid western ‘modern’ cultural legacy, until a short time ago, there had been quite strong resistance preventing an appreciation of the link.

Still, in our current consumerist society’s mainstream (sub)culture, nature is perceived as nothing else than a commodity or an ornament for National Geographic covers. But certainly our lifestyle and economy is still completely dependent on available natural resources and on functional ecosystem services.

The good news seems to be that eventually and increasingly these days, the link between ecology and economy (and socio-politics) is analyzed, elaborated and underlined. After all, ecology and economy have the same suffix ‘eco,’ derived from the Greek oikos (home), not by coincidence.

Mismanagement of earth’s resources

Climate change is a major threat to the whole human civilization in the short and medium term — as it is already emerging in the eastern Mediterranean and Syria, and other parts of the world. This ultimate challenge is like the last call for humanity to start reforming deeply an anti-life economic system, as well argued by Naomi Klein in her last book This Changes Everything.

Hopefully, this new awareness will be the basis for a new era in which the economy is deeply reformed in line with the principles of ecology. The time has come to wisely adapt the ‘norms and rules of the house’ (= Economy in Greek) to the foundation principles of the house (Ecology= ‘knowledge of the house’ in Greek) — and not the other way round, as we have thought and done during the past 200 years.

Otherwise, we will simply re-enact once again the same kind of drama that seemingly has already occurred innumerable times on the planet in the course of the human civilization parable. Civilizations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they did not change.”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while, all too often, all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.

C. Today’s Poems:

Love is not splendid

Love is not splendid
At best
it is
a blister on your foot
or an empty room.
I live on borrowed things

I live on borrowed things
On stories and songs
On breath and brawn

Borrowed then left
When I move on.
THE BIG STORM

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.

 

D. Comments on my previous post:

1. Ann Marie.

I was glad to hear you were feeling better. Hope MaryAnne is as well.

You said you drove yourself to the hospital, and I didn’t see any follow-up on that. Everything ok?

As always it’s fun to read your stories. Hope you’re doing ok.

2. Peter.
Ozymandias and the old creeping the petty pace till the last syllable of recorded time (or, now, until the next commercial).

I’m reading a fascinating book called “Brazillionaires” by Alex Quadros. About this group of people who have $2-$30 BILLION! EACH. He suggests that it may be partially genetic, but however, they have a tremendous drive to achieve – what he finally concludes is – power. After awhile the goodies that immense riches can provide recede into the routine. The energy, the entrepreneurial urge, the incessant work — one of the richest married a gorgeous carnaval queen and Playboy centerfold who eventually left him because he worked all the time — guess some have it, some don’t. I don’t. Although I rule my ant farm with an iron fist.

Look, it’s clearly the Age of Kali. The drought, the fires, the floods, the poisoning of the land and water, the spreading hordes of too many people, the Trumpians whose outpatient privileges should have been revoked long ago — Scandinavia is too small, too white, too lacking in Rosso buco and Lenny Bruce — chanting, chanting, …..

Ok, so the Semites kept going back and forth between Egypt and Babylon, over hundreds of years. Now the so-called modern humans migrated in dribs and drabs out of Africa over a long period, crossing into Mesopotamia and on to China, the islands, and Australia, while others turned north and west into Europe. But eventually the Semites could’t sit still and did their little migratory dance, creating myths and legends to eventually justify booting out whoever was occupying their next stopover. Here’s the goofy part: And people Believed this stuff! Accepted it as “gospel”. No one learned anything — except he who wins writes the history.

As I said, he who wins writes the history. Viva the alphabet, though. After all, the oral tradition lasts roughly two hundred years or so. Even with eventual evolution to practical telepathy, that can’t last longer. And while the Internet Archive folks are valiantly trying to save everything on the internet before it, too, vanishes, in the end will still be the alphabet. Presumably.

Oh yes! I remember the evening in your house where we reviewed the draft sign logo and discussed at length whether the feet should look more “realistic” and less stylized. And lo, there they are.

My response.

Thanks for the comments. Some will go into next t&t. After my operation, I am well enough to travel. I plan to leave for Thailand on Sept. 2. Return Oct 2 or thereabouts. Maybe I’ll see you then.

Never forget, although old Ozy’s head in the clouds soon disappeared, his Birkenstock shod feet remained forever in the sand. What this means, as you get older you realize that the health of your feet is more important than the health of your head.

The tragedy of bazillionairs it that they can no longer truly experience the pleasures of poverty although carnival queens and playboy centerfolds may help to ameliorate that loss.

I suspect the age of Kali begins for each of us at birth. And ends when all we have left is our feet in the sand.

Please give Sherry my best.

I will see you soon — hopefully before Ozy and Kali get up to dance to Blind Lemon Pledge.

Peter again.

Glad to hear you up and around. How’s Maryann doing?

Indeed, healthy feet rule. My father lost a foot to diabetes in his later years; real drag. I hope I avoid that. As to “health of head,” my brother told me once, after he had made one of his regular visits to his then mother-in-law who had ended in a home and was more or less physically ok [he was an RN] and I inquired about her, said: “She’s happy as a clam.” Wasn’t much going on, though.

Re: brazillionaires, yes, they are monomaniac about work, many are little short guys, don’t eat much, don’t do much else. I recall my father, who knew John D. MacArthur a little, said about him, that even in his very late years he awoke early and went to the office every day, miming old dog old tricks. Seems none of them had a money bin to dive into like Scrooge McDuck. No joy.

Pettiness is Not next to godliness: The letter “b” key on my laptop is not working properly, so I often have to back up [just did] to make sure it prints. I’m postponing the inevitable trip to the apple store to get it fixed (and argue against buying a new machine because of the IMMENSE HASSLE of transferring everything. Meanwhile, having finished “Originals” and “Brazillionaires, I’ve started reading the next book, “Chaos Monkeys”; this, from a guy who worked at Goldman Sachs and then went to Silicon Valley, ending up at Facebook. All sounds awful. Money fixation causes really pathological behavior – but we knew that.

Kali Mata ki jai!! and bon voyage. I assume you’ll leave all of your yellow and red T-shirts at EDH. See you after your return, apparently on Gandhi’s birthday.

3. Aline.

OK. You can’t leave it hanging like that. Why did you drive yourself to the hospital? Are you okay?

My response.

I had a minor overnight procedure scheduled. No one was available to drive me to and from the Hospital. The operation was a success and I am back home now.

I enjoyed your photographs from your trip to Sicily. It seemed like you had a great time.

Aline again.

One cannot have a bad time in Sicily. The only bad thing was the trip was too short. I rode in a Fiat down cobble stairs through narrow streets scaring people and cats. I saw the best war memorial museum I have ever experienced. It was very realistic. There were pictures of Catania before the bombing, an air raid signal went off and we all ran into a bunker, the lights went off and we heard bombs going off and the bunker shook. After a time, the all clear was sounded and we left the bunker to view pictures of Catania after the bombing. Chilling. Then a complete shock – coming out of the museum, Comican was going on with many people dressed in their favorite anima characters. I also met with Anthony Provenzano, son of Tony Provenzano who ran the Mafia for years.

4. Bill.

You “outed” me. I did not expect to re-read my email to you in the latest “This and that . . .”. Carol would be a bit brought down about me discussing her health. Although I am touched by your thoughtfulness in sharing your thoughts about what we are going through. Anyway, I am glad these folks know the opportunity you provided me and that you are to blame for what I did or did not do well thereafter. I do recall that hike at Pt Reyes. The hike and my birding were getting in the way of your desire to get to Bolinas for some ice cream. One of my favorite trips that summer was an all day trip to Napa/Sonoma and finding an out-of-the-way vintner who named an especially drinkable jug red wine after his grandfather JD Martin. I think the vintner’s name was Tom Johnson (he is probably a very wealthy vintner now). When Tom told you why they named the wine JD Martin Red Table Wine – because they combined some varietals that just did not quite make the grade on their own, but when mixed together made the kind of red wine his wife’s grandfather loved to drink — you and I bought 4 cases of the jug wine. The end of that trip was challenging when you burned up your VW’s engine, because you ignored the red light on your dash that had you looked in the owner’s manual would have told you your catalytic converter was overheating. I ended up pushing that VW for a few hundred feet up the Golden Gate Bridge (that bridge is not flat!) until a Golden Gate Bridge tow truck pushed us the rest of the way and then towed you to some gas station. I think Don Neuwirth was with us. I remember Don sharing your aversion to the natural environment.

Be well my friend and mentor.

My response.

I apologize. As usual I acted without thinking.

When I started writing T&T eight years ago, I began to include comments and correspondence at the bottom of my blog when I repost it. I found however that it could go for many months before anyone acknowledged they had read it. So, I began including them in the body of T&T so I would not forget them. Recently for some reason, I have received more comments than usual and my excitement overcame me.

I hope I did not upset Carol. Please give her my apologies also.

Unless you object, I will strike out anything that could be construed as referring to her.

As for you comment. On that day we hiked Point Reyes, I recall a bird flew by in front of me from a bush on the side of the trail to one on the other. You did not see it, but when I exclaimed, you identified it merely from the sound it made as it flew by. To me that was magic.

Thanks for reminding me of that memorable trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.

My operation appears to have been a success, so I am leaving for Thailand next week. I will return in October. I hope I will be able to visit with you then.

Bill again.

Great news about your operation. Enjoy your trip to Thailand.

No need to strike anything from This & that. No worries.

Yes, I hope we can get together upon your return to the Golden Hills and State.

I hope your sister is feeling better.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S TEST:

The following is the test HRM was given on his first day of middle school. I bet you cannot pass it.

img_2150IMG_2150.jpg

Categories: July through September 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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