Posts Tagged With: Adam Smith

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 Pepe 0003 (November 6, 2014)

TODAY FROM ITALY:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SICILY:

1. Segesta and Erice

I flew Ryan Air from Rome to Palermo. It reminded me of flying Icelandic Airlines in the 1960s. Among other things the seats did not recline. One woman sitting across the aisle from me boarded with a toy Maltese dog sporting a “service dog” emblazoned jacket. What sort of services a dog of that size could provide I refuse to speculate on. Although the woman had carefully complied with all procedures and was approved by the departure desk, the pilot insisted he was not authorized to fly with dogs. After many, many tense minutes the crisis was somehow resolved and we took off, dog and all.

I met my sister and George at the airport in Palermo and we immediately left for Erice.

Before arriving at Erice we stopped to view the impressive classical ruins at Segesta.

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Pookie in front of the temple at Segesta

Located on the top of a massif about 3000 feet above the plain and sea below Erice can be seen from most of western Sicily. At times because of its height it disappears into the clouds. I loved the place as soon as I saw it.

Upon our arrival, we checked into an old Carmelite nunnery converted into a hotel. Similar to my lodgings in Rome, the hotel maintained an aura of religiosity. It retained all of the religious trappings of its prior life, including a chapel for devotional use by guests.

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Checking into the “Carmine.”

We set off to explore the city and to have dinner. We were enthralled by the views from the city walls and the quiet peacefulness of the town. Now and then a bell would ring out marking the liturgical hours. The City, as small as it is, has 60 churches, most of which state appropriated during the Risorgimento and now house museums, artistic or scientific institutes or simply stand empty.

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A view from Erice

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Sunset

Later, of course, a fine dinner at a place suggested by the hotel.

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Maryanne and George at dinner

The following morning we continued our tour. One side of the city still has its ancient Phoenician walls.

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The ancient Punic walls— VII-V Century B.C.

The city, like Sicily itself, is triangular-shaped. At one point is the Cathedral and main gate. At another stands the Saracen-Norman castles.

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Castello de Pepoli

At the third point are the old Spanish and Jewish Quarters where our hotel was located.

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A street in the old Jewish quarter.

The city is high enough that I watched some clouds float across the plains and creep into Erice like tourists looking for espresso.

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Erice collage

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A final view from the heights of Erice

2. Camilleri — Vigata (Puerto Empedocle) and Montelusa (Agrigento)

Following an extended and mostly uninteresting drive from Erice we arrived at Agrigento, the Montelusa of the Montalbano novels by Camilleri. Agrigento an ancient Greek City boasts some of the finest examples of Greek classical temple Architecture.
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Maryanne at the Valley of the Temples

It was also the home of the playwright Luigi Pirandello. Camilleri’s first published book was a biography of Pirandello. The playwright, in a novel of his own written over 100 years ago, first named Agrigento Montelusa.

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George in front of the Pirandello homestead

We began at the Questura where Montalbano unhappily spent much time explaining his actions to his superiors. It stands across the street from its rival police force, the much reviled Carabinieri.
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The Questura

We visited the site of the school at which Camilleri was studying for his final exams when the Allies bombed it during WWII killing over 300 people. The event played and important role in the Terra-cotta Dog novel.

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The Churchyard where the school was located.

Camilleri’s middle name was Calogero. Saint Calogero, a much beloved saint in Sicily, is the patron saint of Agrigento. Calogero was black and arrived in Sicily from Africa sometime in the forth century. Calogero is a common name and surname in Sicily.

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The Church of Saint Calogero where Camilleri was baptized.

In one of the novels, I think it was The Snack Thief, Cantarella is sent off to collect some information from an accountant in the Arab Quarter of the city.

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The Arab Quarter – the accountant’s office is off to the right.

We visited a several other locations and then set off for Porto Empedocle, the fictional Vigata.

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Vigata

In almost every novel, at some point Montalbano will eat lunch at his favorite restaurant and later walk out on the jetty, sit on the flat rock beneath the lighthouse and consider whatever case he is working on or more than likely his life in general.

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The lighthouse and flat rock at the end of the Jetty

We drove past Marinella where Montalbano lived next to the beach in a much more modest house than the one pictured in the TV show. Unfortunately, because of construction of a project promoted by the very ambitious current mayor of Marinella, we were unable to get on to the beach itself.

We then went to the Turkish Steps an unusual marl formation that appears in The Voice of the Violin, I believe.

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The Turkish Steps and our guide Michelle

After visiting too many scenes from the novels to recount, we stopped at the restaurant owned by Enzo that Montalbano, after his beloved lunch place near his office was closed, with great trepidation tries and falls in love with. Enzo was not there but his brother-in-law was and we visited with him for a while.

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Pookie in front of Enzo’s restaurant.

Finally, we set off to our lodgings to rest before facing the city of Canicatti and our relatives.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

I sincerely apologize for sending these pallid travelogues to those devoted readers of T&T who look forward to my scintillating prose, trenchant observations and insightful clichés.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“… some alternative method of organizing large numbers of men had to be devised so that the energies of such men could be coordinated and directed and so that they could be deprived of much of what they produced in order to accumulate capital to be used for the creation of non-subsistence enterprises (from art and literature to war and monuments).”
Carroll Quigley.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Shadow 0003 (June 22, 2014)

 

“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.

Symmetry is a beautiful thing.”
Giufa

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOAN JACKSON

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

1. Last days at Paradise by the Sea:

On the border between “Paradise by the Sea” and “The Outskirts of Hell” there stood an isolated building among some empty lots. On the side of the building there was a sign affixed that read, “Heaven.” It was the day before I was to leave Paradise by the Sea and return to Bangkok. The Good/Bad David had brought me there. The entrance to Heaven wound through a dark passageway containing large vases with slightly wilting flowers. Gold drapes hung on the wall. It looked like the entrance to a mortuary. I guess that could be considered fitting.

Once inside the place was much more plush. It appeared a lot like a 1960’s piano bar in Las Vegas. I liked it. It was a vast improvement over my image of what Heaven would be like.

We were led by the hostess to a small dark room at back of the building in the center of which stood a solid black oval table.

Now some of you may recall that a few years ago I published, for your enjoyment, a few stories supposedly written by Giufa that sad-faced reprobate and chronicler of the “Forlorn Order of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table” (FOGNOT). The stories focused on the adventures of five Geriatric Knights who assembled in a place called The Kennel (where old dogs go to die) around another oval table, that one made of faux marble and gilt . I will not describe here what occurred that afternoon in Heaven around the coal-black oval table. I leave that job instead to the cynical, licentious and wholly untrustworthy Giufa, should he ever get around to it.
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Baba Giufa as a child.

I shall only add that about six hours later the Good/Bad David, Peter a man who I had been told dealt in precious metals and I left Heaven. The three of us climbed into a tricked-out, four door, short bed, pick-up truck. They drove me back to my hotel where I immediately fell asleep. The next day after a pleasant lunch with David and his friends, I boarded a bus and returned to Bangkok.

2. Back in Bangkok:

a. Monsoons:

The monsoon season in South Asia officially began on June 1. Since then angry clouds have filled the Bangkok skies. Very little rain has fallen in the city, generally only enough to make the already dangerous sidewalks slimy and slippery. With the blooming of el Nino in the Pacific this summer, chances are South Asia and Southeast Asia will experience a relatively dry year. On the other hand, Southern California should be wetter than it has been these last few years. Oh, the price of anchovies and sardines probably will rise also.

b. Pookie has a night out:

Having had it spending my afternoons and evenings in my apartment because of the curfew and the skies threatening rain that rarely comes, I decided to treat myself to a night out on the town. For me a night of the town has become simply finding a place to nurse a beer and watch the goings on. So one night I put on a clean shirt and stepped out from my building into the steaming hot air of BKK.

I ate dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, an open front place that takes up the bottom floor of a cheap rooming house on Soi Nana. There I ordered my usual sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice and a coke from the six-foot tall ladyboy who looked like an NFL linebacker with boobs and a cute pink bow in his hair. I watched an American movie on the overhead TV while I ate.

After dinner I walked up Soi Nana searching for a bar in which I could enjoy my beer. Now for those who have not been there, bars along Soi Nana are for the most part open front affairs with young women outside calling out to you to join them just like the sirens called out to Ulysses. But this old sea dog ignored them because he had his sights set on the bright lights of Nana Plaza.

Nana Plaza bills itself as the World’s Largest Adult Playground. It is situated only a few blocks from my apartment. Although for reasons of age, fear of STD and a general aversion to the hard sell I do not avail myself of the services offered at many of the establishments, nevertheless now and then I like to sit at one of the bars with my beer and watch.

Nana Plaza itself is a three-story or so U-shaped building with a large open space in the center. The building houses a number of Go-Go bars, Lady Boy bars and Beauty Salons to service the performers. In the center open area are a number of regular bars open to the sky.

I sat in one of them bought a beer and paid the hostess to not sit with me and try to cage drinks. The sounds of the music coming from the venues and the exuberance of the neon lights makes everyone feel a bit jittery, like they just snorted some cocaine. I sat there nursed my beer and observed.

The women and barkers standing outside the venues desperately attempted to entice each passersby to enter their place. The Ladyboys being men despite the makeup and potential genetic quirks, were more physically aggressive, sometimes surrounding the tourist like a pack of wolves. In one case even demonstrating specifically what she had to offer.

After I finished my beer, I walked home feeling had accomplished something.
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Nana Plaza at night
C. Massage:

A few days ago the Little Masseuse invited me to join her in getting a foot massage at a place she liked.

Contrary to what some may believe not every massage parlor in Thailand is a front for prostitution. Massage is a national pastime in Thailand. I have been in small villages in the country where it seemed like everyone was massaging everyone else, sort of like a band of simians removing lice from one another’s fur.

Thai massage itself is based on pressure points and a little rapid stretching of certain muscles and tendons. For the most part it was developed in the county’s temples, especially Wat Po adjacent to the Royal Palace. Students still go there for instruction.

Most legitimate massage establishments offer Thai massage, a deep tissue rubbing massage, foot massages (reflexology) and a few specialties like facial massages and the like. Often the place will offer only Thai massage or only foot massages.

Most of the illegal (prostitution is illegal in Thailand in order to augment police salaries) sexual oriented massage parlors are located around the various tourist areas of larger cities or at resort areas.

One can figure out if it is a legitimate if:

1. it is located outside of a tourist area,
2. It looks down scale
3. the posted prices are cheaper
4. the women and men offering the massages are older and do not look like fashion models between gigs.

If you are still uncertain, ask a Thai woman you can trust (one that is not receiving a kickback from the massage parlor). For most of the women I know, the massage is the thing. Anything else is purely incidental. If you ask a man however, it’s all in the incidentals.

One of the best massages I ever experienced was in Hat Yai. The King of Thailand had set up a program for blind people to learn massage. At the place in Hat Yai, both men had been blinded in acid attacks. A sighted women in the shop acted as cashier and assisted the masseur in locating the supplies they needed. It was obvious that the masseur had studied more that simple Thai massage, perhaps even formal anatomy. He played the muscles in my body like Ray Charles played the piano.

The massage parlor the Little Masseuse and I were going to was located just off Soi 19 behind Terminal 21. It was situated above a place called Mama’s Pizza just across the street from Mama’s Taqueria. (I do not know if there is a Mama’s Pad Thai, or Schnitzel or Borscht in Bangkok, but I have not been everywhere yet. Come to think of it, a fast food place called Mama’s Pad Thai, Schnitzel and Borscht would probably cause quite a stir in the culinary world).

Anyway we climbed up three flights on a rickety outdoor stairway to the small shop. It provided only foot massages at $4 an hour, a price considerably cheaper than most other places in the area. There were about 15 or so young men and a few women masseuses and 10 overstuffed chairs and ottomans. The massages were very good.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Human trafficking:

The english language newspapers in Bangkok were all aflutter over the report that the US had ranked Thailand among the worst countries for human trafficking. The responses from Thai government spokesmen ranged from outright denial that the problem exists to shock that the US would criticize an ally.

Human trafficking may actually be the worlds oldest profession. A recent study maintained that humans (usually children) were used as one of the systems of account for debt before the invention of coinage. Failure to timely repay the loan would force the pledged child into bondage.

Two personal stories:

How it was in Issan

When she was about 13 years old a woman doctor showed up at the home of the Little Masseuse in rural Thailand. The doctor purchased her from her parents to work in the Doctor’s infirmary in BKK cleaning the instruments and the office. She was given a bed in a tiny room to sleep in. After about two years the inevitable happened. LM was asleep in her room when she was awakened by someone rubbing her body. The Doctor’s husband had crawled into the bed with her. She screamed and cried and woke up everyone in the house. The next morning the Doctor told her that the would have to leave that day and return to her family in Issan.

How it was in Sicily

When she was 7 years old my mother’s father died leaving her and her three older siblings orphans and a significant estate. The oldest child was only 16 and a woman so it was felt that it was not appropriate for her to manage the estate. Her bachelor uncle stepped forward and agreed to marry her promising to take care of the three younger children. On almost the day after the wedding the uncle placed the three children on a boat to America having sold them to three families in the US to work as domestic help. My mother spent the next few years chained to her bed at night so she could not run away until her older brother reached eighteen left his keeper and took my mom and her sister to live with him.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Around 600 BC: The scribes assembling the Hebrew Bible included the Law of Jubilee in Leviticus. The law stipulated that all debts would be automatically cancelled “in the Sabbath year” (that is, after seven years had passed), and that all who languished in bondage owing to such debts would be released.

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.”
Leviticus 25:8-13

I think forgiving all debts every seven years is a great idea. It is strange that there are those who claim the Leviticus’ supposed prohibition of homosexuality is the unchanging word of God, yet the forgiveness of all debts every seven years somehow is no longer applicable. Who is it that decides what God really meant and when he was only kidding?

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

They want a capitalism with the simple balance that, The Father of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Adam Smith indicated was required for it to work. For example:

“Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate… It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms….

by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”

And:

“In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest.

Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”

On regulations:

”When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

On fairness:

“The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than that proportion.”

Finally denouncing vast differences in wealth and income, Smith praised a fellow economist’s tax proposal:

“To remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.”

It has always been a wonder to me why those who praise Capitalism so highly, hate it so much.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
m-emotional
My initial feeling is that somehow the colors are reversed.

 
GOODNIGHT AGENT 355 WHOEVER YOU WERE——

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 JoJo 0003 (May 25, 2014)

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others….”
Groucho Marx

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA

 

 
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. Still in America

Before leaving for Thailand, Bill Geyer and I attended a memorial in Sacramento for John Zierold. Beginning in the late 1960’s he was the Sierra Club lobbyist in the California State Capitol for many years . He also founded the Planning and Conservation League.

The years Zierold prowled the halls of the State Capitol were remarkable for the volume of environmental laws that passed out of the Legislature: CEQA, BCDC, The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, The California Coastal Act, The California Coastal Conservancy, The Tahoe Conservancy, The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and many others including billions of dollars in bond acts to preserve a lot of California’s majestic and not so majestic landscape .

Attending the memorial were many of the now aging players in the political battles during those years, most quite a bit fatter and a few like Bill Yeates and Bill Geyer a lot thinner. Attending were: Bill Kier, head or the Senate Office of Research (Bill was there during the early part of Jerry Brown’s first administration when we were having trouble finding a suitable candidate for the head of the Department of Forestry and Jerry suddenly blurted out, “Indians! Find me an Indian. They know all about the woods.”); Charlie Warren, the ex-Assemblyman who co-authored the Coastal Act; Joe Edmiston the first and still reigning Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; Gene Varininni, Energy Commission Commissioner; Dan Richards, one of my successors as Chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority; Bill Yeates who after working with me became one of the leading environmental advocates in Sacramento and many others including of course Stevie and Norbert.

The speeches, including mine, were mostly the rambling reminisces of old men. Women had generally not yet broken through the glass ceiling in enough numbers to join in the running of the bulls.

A few days later I had lunch with Bill Yeates at an excellent “slow food” pizzeria. I talked far too much.
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2. “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward,”

Now some may wonder (as I do) why, given the recent imposition of martial law in Thailand, I would choose to go there now. One reason is my tickets are non refundable. Another, although less compelling, is that I have been through civil disturbances like this many times before.

In 1964 or so, during the Harlem riots, I spent them standing at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in front of the Legal Aid office at which I worked watching the battle wax and wane in front of me. Across Lexington stood the hotel where Fidel Castro famously roasted chickens in the hallway. In that same hotel, as I was observing the fortunes of those who would soon be clients, a reporter who later won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the riots sat typing away. Later I got to know and detest that reporter. Still later it was discovered that he was so terrorized by the thought of being injured in the riots that he refused to leave his room or even look out the window and made up everything that appeared in his prize-winning reports.

A few years later in Rome during the student rebellion, I stood among a crowd in front of a university building and watched the protestors defenestrate an opponent who splattered on the cement a few feet from where I was standing.

About a year later, still in Rome, I attended a Fascist protest in Piazza Venezia during which the leader of the protest was crushed beneath the wheels of an army jeep – again a few feet from where I was standing. At another protest (Communist this time) I was caught by a squad of police with raised truncheons and saved myself by shouting “Don’t hurt me, I’m Canadian.”

And of course I participated in the mandatory anti-Vietnam War riots and protests in SF as well as attending various previous coups and protests in Thailand.

What I have learned from all this is that most riots and similar disturbances are localized for the convenience of the media and one must intend to go there to put oneself in harm’s way. Accidents may always happen but danger is something someone generally chooses to risk.
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3. Flight

The flight to Thailand was uneventful. The plane was not crowded. I was able to scare off a young woman who was eyeing the same row of empty seats that I was. That allowed me to stretch out and sleep in relative comfort except for the sound of retching from the woman across the aisle who vomited every hour or so and for the gentleman in the row in front of me who seemed to suffer an excess of intestinal gas.

There were only three westerners on the last leg of the trip into BKK. Passport control was almost empty.
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3. Ah, Thailand

By the time I arrived in Thailand, the martial law that had been announced just before I left had graduated to a full coup. A curfew had been imposed that upset both the owners and workers in the city’s bars and nightclubs and their mostly western (farang) customers. Television had been shut down except for the occasional appearance of a photogenic young military man describing the wonderful things being done by the military. A single very bad but very popular soap opera was permitted to be shown in the evening so that the people would have something to do during curfew.

The traffic was wonderfully light, mostly empty taxis and busses. I did not notice the presence of any military in my neighborhood.

In the afternoon I accompanied the Little Masseuse to a shopping center to buy some pillows. She explained to me that she had placed the pillows on the balcony to air out and the wind from a sudden storm blew them off the balcony and into the piles of dog shit that fill the alley between my building and the next. At first I did not believe her. However, I could not come up with a more rational story to account for the disappearance of the pillows. Apparently that same storm also took my underwear into the dog shit along with the pillows.

By the time we arrived at the department store my foot had swollen up like a week old rancid sausage. I could not remember if my doctor’s instructions were that I should go directly to the emergency room in that case or not. I decided not. So, I sat at a table by the food court with a coke while LM set about searching for suitable pillows. As I sat there, I occupied myself with trying to draw sensible generalizations from my observation of the people who passed by. The following is a bit of what I concluded while I sat there:

Farang men wear shorts more than Asians. On the whole, men were color blind except for gay guys. Perhaps it would benefit all men to spend a night or two on the wild side. They would probably dress better. Women on the other hand did not appear color blind. The ladies of the demimonde who paraded by wore pants so tight they appeared painted on or dresses short enough to expose their labia majora. At my age of course I am permitted observe such things without the hint of prurience.

Two low riders passed by with pants hitched somewhere about their knees, their tee-shirt draped down to cover most of the rest of their body. It is a style that I find difficult to understand. Of course from a line standpoint it is simply another version of south asian pantaloons with a straight line rather than the puffy one affected by the maharajas. The low rider style seems quite puritan. After all, although their pants are worn with the waist dropped close to the floor, like those of an over excited lover, the overall look still carefully hides any hint of the human body beneath the costume. (The daintily exposed upper buttocks and crack sported by amorous plumbers on the other hand could be considered quite racy)

What really “grinds my gears” are the two greatest disasters in men’s fashions in the last century John Kennedy’s refusal to wear a hat (may he roast in hell for it) thereby encouraging weak-willed men to go hatless except for that abortion, the baseball cap. I don’t care where you put the bill it still looks like crap. The second disaster was the creation of business casual by removing the only item of color in a mans outfit, the tie. I have heard tell by those who favored the style that ties were too restricting. I ask, was it that or was it that those saying this did not want to admit they were getting fatter?

As for women’s fashion, I like things cut on the diagonal. That is, a diagonal slash across the vertical line of the body. However that double bias cut on the bottom of some modern women’s dresses leaving two bits of fabric floating to the side like upside down wings and an inverted V pointing to their vagina is the greatest fashion mistake since the bustle.

I could go on about this and other things I thought about while I sat there but my foot began to feel better and LM returned with the pillows so we left, took a motor bike taxi and returned to my apartment.
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Back at the apartment LM showed me the results of her knitting during the time that I was away. Instead of wool scarves that have no use in tropical Thailand and which I buy from her as presents for my nearest and dearest in the US, she has knitted a bagfull of wool winter caps. They are quite colorful, some with pompoms on the top and some that did not get the shape of the head quite right and so they fetchingly flop over a bit. For those who received the scarves from me as presents in the past, beware, here come the caps.
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The next day I went swimming at the health club and then had a two-hour massage (the price has doubled to $20). Talked a while to Gary II (Canadian Gary not Chiang Mai Gary) who was working remodeling his hair salon and who was pissed because had to cancel his hockey game (yes there is hockey in BKK) because of the curfew.
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I learned that the Good/Bad David had suffered a crushed disk in his back and spent two weeks in the hospital. He is recuperating in Pattaya.
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There still has been no evidence of the military anywhere although the newspapers are reporting they have a new plan for governing the nation that will do away with the necessity of voting.
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B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

About 20% of the population, more or less, are what is referred to as vivid dreamers, those who know that they are dreaming and to some extent can control the content and length of their dreams. Many vivid dreamers also are able to recall their dreams faithfully for some time after. In my case some dreams become so imbedded in my memory that I can no longer distinguish them from real memories unless something focusses my attention on the unreality of my dream memory.

I have had such a dream memory of Malibu. Why Malibu, I ask myself? After all Malibu is nothing more than a rather ugly shrub choked semi-desert at the edge or the ocean. The people who live there I find are some of the most disagreeable, nasty, self-righteous people on the planet. For the most part they live there only because other wealthy people live there.

I once had a developer friend who told me, “my pappy told me always to sell to the rich. They will spend any amount of money to live next to one another.” Alas, my friend forgot his pappy’s direction, bought a savings and loan and promptly went bankrupt.

Anyway my dream, which I will relate in the next issue of T&T, is unusual in that I learn in the dream itself that my dream Malibu was a fantasy.
(to be continued)

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

As you know, I like to include items written by my T&T correspondents whenever I can. Here is something I found on Cort’s Facebook page that has an interesting take on Lee Harvey Oswald:

“Best book I read on the JFK assassination: Case Closed by Gerald Posner. It has some material on my parent’s accountant, George Bouhe, who I knew well. He was Russian and helped Russian immigrants. He knew LHO well and tried to persuade Marina to leave. According to Bouhe, and almost everyone else who knew LHO, including a psychiatrist who interviewed him at age 13, LHO was a dangerous, narcissistic, raving homicidal maniac. The book is well researched and written.”
Cort Holland

Pookie says, “check it out.”

 

 
DAILY FACTOIDS:

May 31, 2014, the 13th annual Masturbate-a-Thon will be held in San Francisco to celebrate the end of this year’s International Masturbation Month.

1980-1988: When Ronald Reagan took office, U.S. debt was under $1 trillion. After he left eight years later, debt was $2.6 trillion and the U.S. had moved from being the world’s largest international creditor to the world’s largest debtor nation.

 

 
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” was all about and what it really wanted:

It wanted society to avoid what Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations and the justly acclaimed Father of Capitalism warned against:

“But what all the violence of the feudal institutions could never have effected, the silent and insensible operation of foreign commerce and manufactures gradually brought about. These gradually furnished the great proprietors with something for which they could exchange the whole surplus produce of their lands, and which they could consume themselves without sharing it either with tenants or retainers. All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as they could find a method of consuming the whole value of their rents themselves, they had no disposition to share them with any other persons.”

Note: This quote isn’t from some Marxist manifesto. It’s from Book 3 of The Wealth of Nations. Smith denounces the rentier economy represented by large landowners in those days. Owners of financial debt instruments embody those rentiers today.

 

 
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The love of possessions is a disease with them. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbours away. If (North) America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough; the Indian would still have been dispossessed.”
Chief Sitting Bull

 

 
TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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I Love Trees but I Never Hug Them

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Capt. Coast 0003 (April 30, 2014)

“Logic doesn’t have to live in the real world. Logic is too busy planning its escape route.”

Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I have written before about the giant turkeys that inhabit this area of the foothills (no, I am not referring to Congressman McClintock). Today on the lawn of the Dr.’s office I was visiting I found the big Tom pictured below strutting about.
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***********************************************

I spent Easter with my mother and my sister’s family at the nursing home.
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Following that, Nikki, HRM and I travelled to Mendocino for a few days at my sister’s home there.
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I left my computer back in El Dorado Hills, suffered electronic communication withdrawal and compensated by reading back issues of The New Yorker.

We returned to Sacramento through Calistoga where Nikki had himself a mud bath. On the following Sunday Nikki left to return to Italy.
************************************************

I plan to go back to Thailand for a month sometime near the end of May.

B. POOKIES DREAMS (continued):

There’s not much to tell about how our affair began. It was night and I was walking by her hut. She stood in the doorway leaning against the frame, gazing at the sky. I walked toward her and directly on into the hut. She followed and we laid down together on the bed.

Most of the beds in the village consisted of a straw mat like they have in Japan at the bottom. On top of that one or two soft blankets or rugs or something like that were layered. Then a cool fitted sheet was placed over it all. In this case the sheet was white. The bed was comfortable if a bit hard, but certainly nowhere near as hard as some of the beds I slept on in Thailand.

After that first evening, when I was in the village, I spent almost every night in her hut. Generally we would sit on the bed our backs pressed against the cool mud wall staring at the night sky through the window on the opposite wall of the dark hut. That window provided a view of the night sky framed by a few black branches of trees. A wide streak of light bisected the night sky. It was as if a huge ribbon hung down from somewhere above the roof of the hut. On that ribbon there seemed to be festooned what looked like an infinite number of blinking Christmas lights, white, yellow, red and blue. So many that it seemed like a single pulsating band of light. Now and then a meteor would flash by. I never saw a moon.

The light from outside that window provided the only illumination in the room. I could just make out the outline of her face and the arc of her jaw line as it curved to meet her earlobe.

I could smell the harsh fragrance of the basic soap we all used in the village and the acrid smell of sweat mixed with the sandalwood aroma of the dust that was always with us. Floating through this melange of aromas was the hint of perfume from the shampoo she used. One of the few indulgences she allowed herself.

Eventually we would shimmy down on to the bed.

In the morning, before dawn, I would leave her hut and return to my own to prepare for the day.

We rarely spent time together during the day, even at meals. I would however occasionally see her walking through the village almost always surrounded by children. Now and then I would notice her meeting with people or escorting them around the village. Some of the visitors had suits, others were dressed in various forms of military uniform. There were also some in more casual dress that I assumed were academics of some sort or engineers.They often seemed to be vigorously arguing with her about something or other.

I began to sense tension and stress in the village and especially in Mama. When I asked her about it one night, she dismissed it as a minor irritant.

At first I thought it was merely the ongoing pressure of budget, funding, personnel and administrative matters that are ever-present in any organization and exacerbated by the lack of staff to handle the endless paperwork that is a way of life for most eleëmosynary organizations.

I had some experience about these things and I could sympathize with what she and the other members of the village were going through. Then, one night I found the young son of Tre and Yu unconscious by the side of the road. He had been severely beaten. (to be continued)

C. POOKIES BOOK REPORT:

Because I left my computer behind when I went on my vacation and waiting for re-issuance of my debit card for security reasons, (apparently it had something to do with the new computer virus everyone is concerned about), I have not read any books for the past week or so. I can however rant about The New Yorker Magazine with which I have a love hate relationship.

Like most people who pick up the magazine in the doctor’s waiting room or at someone’s home who for whatever reason subscribes, when I read the New Yorker I skip most of the articles and flip first to the cartoons. I do not find them funny. Someone from the New Yorker once told me with a Eustace Tully like sniff, they’re supposed to be amusing not funny.

Most of the cartoons appear to me to depict characters either collapsing into the ground like slowly deflating balloons or hovering on the verge of transparency. The captions often are snide (which I like) or point out one or another character’s social embarrassment, somewhat at the level of releasing a fart in a crowded room.

The poetry is atrocious. It can be described as poetic excrement. By the time I get to the second line I’m usually furious.

No one I know has admitted to me that they actually read the fiction pieces. They are usually written by a relatively famous Northeast alcoholic, sex-obsessed (or repressed) author, or someone who wishes to be. They really need to now and then try something like publishing the lyrics to a rap song. It would improve the poetry too.

The interesting thing about the non-fiction articles other than their length is that they all begin with great topic sentence that makes you believe you will be greatly informed if you read on. Alas, before I have even finished the first page, new themes are introduced or new characters and I either forget why I started reading the article or, if I have not forgotten, hope I will find it on the following page, often a forlorn hope. When I plod on to the end of the article, to the final paragraph, I frequently discover it lacks any sense of the immediacy with which it began. Or to put more or less into the words of T.S. Elliot it usually ends not with a bang but a whimper.

Now do not get me wrong, I like the New Yorker very much. It reminds me of rainy days and snowy nights on the East Coast with a fire burning in the fireplace or a notoriously dangerous exposed coil (glowing orange) electric heater, depending on one’s socio-economic status. Now and then there would be an article that would knock my socks off and I will always remember it. I love the covers. The magazine also always maintained its grammatical and stylistic standards even as it struggled to remain contemporary. And, I can pile them into stacks in my room for dipping into later (like one does with back copies of National Geographic) and it never looks like clutter.

The following are two quotes from the N.Y. Times that I think catch some of the essence of the magazine and the people who read it:

“The New Yorker magazine has announced that its complete 80-year archive will soon be available on eight computer discs. Some people found this development interesting. But to many, many, many others — and you know who you are, hoarders of America — the idea of being able to own eight DVDs containing every page of the 4,109 issues of the weekly magazine published between February 1925 and February 2005 was life-changing.”
Mimi Avins, July 14, 2005,

“Eleanor Gould Packard, the grammarian for the New Yorker magazine for 54 years whose search for logic, clarity and correct usage in sentences won her grateful as well as grudging admirers among the staff, has died. She was 87. She died Sunday. Her family did not give the cause of death. The first, last and only grammarian at the magazine got her start there in 1945 after sending a letter asking about job openings. In it she pointed out several errors she found in a recent issue.”
Mary Rourke, February 18, 2005

 

 
DAILY FACTOID:

During the mid 3rd Millennium BC, Sargon of Akkad wrote the following:

“My mother was a changeling (?), my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azurpiranu (the wilderness herb fields), which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose not over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was gardener Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and (fifty?) … years I exercised kingship.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“We today owe our intellectual and humanitarian heritage to Franklin Roosevelt. Not because he vindicated principles of easy money or public finance. Not because he vindicated principles of modern liberalism. But – for the first time in the history of our nation and all nations – he demonstrated that government can exist for the great benefit of the many at the minor cost of the few. For almost a century both political parties have lived by this end, if disagreeing on the means.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

B. An Ethical Focus:

“Today’s Needs

Give me:

Shelter from the Elements
Food for Mind and Body
Love of Family and Friends

Today’s Goals

Let me:

Bring Peace where there is Strife
Be Gentle and Courteous.
Grieve for the Misfortunes of Others
Be Compassionate and Charitable.
Be Patient.
Do no Harm.
Ask Forgiveness of those I have Harmed.
Forgive those who have Harmed me.
Avoid Damage to the Circle of Life.
Restore where I can what has been Damaged or Harmed.
Help those who Need it
Not Disparage Others.
Be Steadfast in the Face of Criticism for Doing Right.
Be Kind to those who Disagree with me.
Be Humble whenever I may be Exalted.”

I found the above while rummaging through my files. I am not sure who wrote it or why. I include it here because I like it since it is a moral bromide without appeal to a Supreme Being and it seems to include protection of the environment among its fundamental moral precepts. Compare those who may choose to live their lives following these rules with Juergen Stroop below.

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue…. Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved…. Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”
Juergen Stroop. Report to Nazi superiors regarding the extermination of the Jewish Community in the Warsaw Ghetto 1943.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”
Adam Smith

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

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Although the length and severity of the drought may be attributed to climate change, the predicted El Niño weather pattern expected to begin this summer may bring increased rain and hot weather to Northern California and Oregon relieving the drought. There is a good chance, however, it will bring only increasingly hot temperatures to the rest of the Southwest.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 30 Jo Jo 0002 (June 14,2013)

 

 

What Shakespeare should have written:

“First let’s kill all the bankers, the lawyers will then die of starvation.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Hayden arrived from Italy on Sunday, we spent the next two days together. We stayed at the Federal Hotel on Soi 11 so he could be nearer to SWAC and her mother and sister while we decided whether or not we would travel south to Phattalung in order to stay a week at our home there. Unfortunately all the flights and train accommodations were full for the next week so the trip was cancelled. Hayden has spent the last few nights with his old nanny at her house.

**********

I have spent the entire week wrestling with exhaustion and depression, perhaps for no other reason than a lingering cold or some other malady. Whatever it is, I feel like I am transitioning from the world of the merely aging to that of the truly aged.

**********

A few days ago Hayden and I ran into Gary and Pui and their son Gary II too. Gary is a Canadian and Pui is Tai. I have known Pui for almost as long as I have known SWAC. Pui lived with us briefly in SF. I no longer remember if she and Gary met in SF or in Thailand. They own a spa here that provides massage, nail and other cosmetic services. Gary tells me that there are Hockey leagues in Thailand and he plays in a senior league.

***********

This issue of T&T seems to me to be obscenely long and made up mostly of my rants. As usual, most of them range somewhere between bullshit and barely interesting. As I look it over again, the only thing I can recommend as worth reading, beside the amusing story of American family lost in my neighborhood here, is the note containing the long Jared Diamond quote.

I am quite fond of Diamond, the scientist and birder turned historian. Back when I was getting my degree in History we only studied the history of politics and male blood lust. Few if anyone then recognized that Darwin was perhaps a greater historian than scientist. My classmate, that fortunate child Winston Churchill, mentioned that physics, his major, was, after one learned some rudimentary mathematics, only history.

Perhaps that was why I rejected my scholarship advisors pleas that I major in physics also. I wonder what my life would have been like If I were now a 73-year-old ex-physicist living on social security rather than an aged un-employed attorney? But life is like that. First you scream in terror of the light and then you end cringing in fear of the darkness.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Soi Arab in Bangkok, between the Sukhumvit 3 a...

Soi Arab in Bangkok, between the Sukhumvit 3 and 5 roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Tourist Family Safely Returned To Thailand After Harrowing Night On Soi 3 — 4 Jun 2013

NANA – An American family of visiting tourists has been safely brought back to Thai soil after being lost for four hours in the lower Sukhumvit area, police reported yesterday.

The Waldens, comprising James, 43, his wife Meredith, 41, and their children Didi, 13, and Zachary, 9, were reported in healthy condition at Bumrungrad Hospital after an examination following their escape from the international territory known colloquially as “soi Arab.”

“It was the most frightening experience of our lives,” said a visibly shaken James. “One minute we’re in Thailand, enjoying our vacation, and then suddenly we’re in some other country full of Middle Eastern people, West Africans, and Indians. It was like something out of a bad science fiction movie.”

According to police, the Waldens accidental departure from Thailand began when they left their hotel, the Landmark, at 8pm to look for what they had been told was a good place for wood-fired pizza. Mistaking soi Loet Sin 2 for what they thought was soi 11, the family walked deep into a dark neighborhood of construction sites.

“Jim insisted we were on the right street but I knew something was wrong right away when we turned the corner and saw all those Indian restaurants,” said Meredith. “It just felt wrong.”

The family then wandered down soi 5 and attempted to enter Gullivers Pub, only to be pushed out by a brawl that was erupting between a drunken pack of British football fans and a hostile group of Israeli backpackers.

“I didn’t see any Thai people, anywhere,” noted Didi.

The Waldens then fled into the Nailert Foodland Plaza, where they became disoriented trying to find their way out again. Exiting a fire escape onto an alleyway, they then worked their way deeper into the warren of sub-sois that led to soi 3/1.

“Everyone around us was African,” said James. “We might as well have been in Africa. And I’ve never seen so many sandal shops in my life.”

After attempting in vain to find anyone who spoke either English or Thai, the Waldens spent 20 minutes working their way through a maze of leather stores, travel agencies, and sheesha pipe exporters, only to emerge on soi 3/1, where they were confronted by a bazaar of Middle Eastern and South Asian restaurants, women in burkhas, and men in robes and turbans.

“Poor Zach was so shocked that he just started shouting out ‘Terrorists! Terrorists!’” said Meredith. “We had to cover his mouth. It was embarrassing. Actually it was scary. People were staring at us, so I just grabbed the kids and went down the nearest alleyway.”

Emerging onto soi 3, the Waldens encountered “about 300” prostitutes of Middle Eastern and Russian origin, whose “huge asses” made it impossible to walk on the pavement towards Sukhumvit. Forced to go the other way, the family tried to ask for directions from one of the Thai vendors selling sex toys on the streetside.

“There were, like, a million vibrators and dildos,” recalled Didi. “That was like all they sold. It was gross.”

Unfortunately, every Thai vendor they encountered turned out to be deaf, and only gestured at the family using hand signs and large Casio calculators. Now completely terrified, the Waldens cut through an Ethiopian restaurant and fled into what appeared to be a large international hotel, the Grace.

“That was the worst place in the world,” said Meredith. “Like a nightmare, like a Twilight Zone episode. Every time we asked for directions it felt like we were interrupting an arms deal.”

The Waldens spent the next 90 minutes lost in the various areas within the Grace, including the bowling alley (“The balls weren’t even round”), the basement coffee shop (“The pit of hell”), and the mirrored casbah disco (“Men dancing with other men, but they were too ugly to be gay.”)

Around midnight the Waldens were finally rescued by a sympathetic transvestite named Pinki, who took them to the street, hailed a taxi, and instructed the driver how to get back to their hotel in Thailand. Once there, the hotel concierge noted their agitated state and called the hospital and the police.

The Waldens are expected to be released today, and have expressed optimism that they can complete their Thai holiday without incident. However, they have been warned to avoid the Nana area, as well as instructed not to enter the Thonglor area without first learning some basic Japanese.

(Thanks to Gary [Pattaya Gary, not Canadian Gary] for this bit of humor.

Alas, this is the pretty much the neighborhood in which I choose live while here in Thailand. Every morning I wander through it on my way to the health club on Soi 11. I eat breakfast at Foodland, check out the newest vibrator models in the sidewalk stands nearby, window shop for the latest designs in rhinestone encrusted sandals and get my haircut at the barbershop in the Grace Hotel. Although it has been years since I have observed the running of the bulls at Gulliver’s, I still find myself at times forced off the sidewalk by the generously hipped ladies of the night making one last morning troll before retiring. And, I’m sure Pinki is the name of that pretty ladyboy who always invites me to enjoy the best massage in Bangkok whenever I walk by.)

2. A Report from the Front Line in the Battle Against Global Warming:

In an effort slow the escalating release into the earths atmosphere of the serious sunlight absorbing gas, methane, in 2003 the government of New Zealand proposed a flatulence tax. It was not adopted because of public protest.

3. Educational innovation:

The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s major english language newspaper, featured an article regarding the pride that the Thai education agencies take in their elementary school program to teach students the proper way to use western style toilets.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

6. Problems and insights.

After attending the morning intake meetings a few times, I recognized two problems that I would have to deal with. The first was that something seemed wrong with the whole psychiatric process and the second was that no one liked a representative of the MHIS being there.

a. the psychiatric process. From the beginning of the development of psychoanalytical theory at the end of the 19th Century with its a priori categorizations of mental processes, an elementary concern hovered over the profession. As one of the more distinguished doctors in the hospital put it, “Essentially, we cannot determine whether we psychiatrists helped the patients at all or whether they got better on their own.”

Only a few years before this, a discovery was made that fundamentally changed how mental illness was to be treated. The administration of certain drugs (among the first was lithium) seemed to miraculously relieve some of the worst manifestations of mental illness, conditions that up until then often were considered incurable.

The use of this therapy was slow to be adopted because no one at that time really knew how the drugs worked. In addition, they often seemed to replace the illness with drug induced torpor. It also was difficult to maintain the pharmaceutical regime with patients who tended to forget or refuse to take their medicines once beyond the control of the hospital. And perhaps most significantly, it shredded the fundamental assumptions of the psychiatric practice without replacing it with alternatives. As for the latter, in essence, pharmacological psychiatry was a serious threat to the growth of the psychiatric treatment industry. Many highly trained individuals felt threatened.

At the intake meetings in a major urban psychiatric hospital this basic problem with psychiatry appeared evident to me, if not in terms of technically understanding it, then at least in terms experiencing elementary discomfort with what I saw.

!n 1965 as it had been for the past 100 years, severe mental illness was most often seen as a disease of the mind expressed in a bewildering array of categories and concepts over which psychiatrists of various schools could endlessly fight, much like economists do today. At least that was an improvement over the claims of demonic possession and moral turpitude that had been the common belief before then.

What was beginning to become clear by the early fifties however was that what was referred to as mental illness was most likely a defect of some sort in the brain and not in the mind, which had always been imagined as something like a soul hovering somewhere between physical reality and somewhere else.

We all know now, for example, that when we see the color red, what we actually see is photons or waves of different frequencies that strike a few nerve endings (usually of three distinct types) then flash through a few nerves connecting the eye to the brain. There the brain integrates all this into a cohesive image we call Red. If something upsets the eye (cataracts), nerve endings (genetic predisposition to color-blindness) or the brain itself (trauma, genetic issues or chemicals and drugs) we may not see red at all. In fact, as certain hallucinogenic drugs have shown, one may “see” almost anything from melting colors and shapes to ghosts and even as has been reported hearing colors as well. Some people are frightened when the brain fails to integrate the signals from the eye, like those experiencing a bad trip on LSD. Others like Monet or El Greco translate it into great art.

In 1965, even before the host of drug therapies became widespread, it was beginning to become clear that in most cases, certainly in the most severe cases of mental illness requiring hospitalization, the brain itself had suffered some trauma, genetic, physical, chemical, or whatever that was causing these symptoms. Environmental or social experiences then mediated how they were expressed or whether they were even expressed at all. In other words, just like with colors, the brains function to integrate the information into a sense of regularity and consistency failed.

Patients vacuumed up off the streets the night before the intake meeting because they appeared incapable of caring for themselves were brought to the hospital’s emergency room. Only the most severely distressed of them were admitted into the hospital wards where the next morning they were brought before the intake panel. After dividing out the elderly and those suffering chemical caused dementia, almost all of those remaining had one thing in common, terror. Some shutdown, others screamed and still others lashed out, but they all were tormented by something beyond their ability to handle it.

Imagine, if you will, walking down the street on the sidewalk and everything disappears into a black pit. Well, that is akin to what the patients experienced. The brain is supposed to provide a person the sense the world is reasonably regular and reliable at least as to the things we normally experience every day. Although we may intellectually know for example that the sidewalk beneath out feet is mostly empty space, our brain integrates our senses and memories and assures us we will not fall through. For whatever reason the patients brains are not presenting them with the underlying experiences of the physical world that we all assume are reliable and they panic.

Of course, with the prevalence of psychopharmacology today we rarely see this occur anymore even in the emergency rooms of major urban hospitals today. If the slightest evidence of this pathology is suspected, even if it manifests itself in early childhood, appropriate drugs are prescribed to correct whatever imbalances exist allowing in many cases healing to occur so that eventually the drugs are no longer needed. Even as it was then with hospitalization as the only therapy, the sooner following evidence of the pathology the patient is treated, the briefer was the time needed for recovery.

In 1965, however, there were more potential patients then there were beds available even with the huge mental hospital complexes that existed in the State of New York.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: So you’re a private detective. I didn’t know they existed, except in books, or else they were greasy little men snooping around hotel corridors. My, you’re a mess, aren’t you?
Philip Marlowe: I’m not very tall either. Next time I’ll come on stilts wear a white tie and carry a tennis racket.
Vivian: I doubt if even that will help.

Chapter: 18

I was awakened by the screeching doorbell. I had hoped it was Mavis bringing me café latte, donuts and some after dinner sweets. It was not. It was Joe Vu.

“Hiya Boss. You’re gonna be late. You look like hell. Nice place you got here,” he added as he walked by me into the loft.

“Did you bring the coffee and donuts? I can do without the sweets.”

“Huh”

“Never mind.”

Joe puttered around the house while I showered and dressed. We left and got into the car. It was a big black Lincoln.

“We’re downscale today,” I commented.

“Martin is using the Lexus.”

“How many cars does he have?”

“Lots, he collects them.”

“I saw the movie,” he added as we drove away from the curb.

“Movie?”

“Yeah, The Big Sleep, with Bogart and Bacall that you told me to watch. I don’t know about that Bacall, skinny bitch, no tits or ass.”

“They liked them like that then. Skinny ment rich and elegant. Today we still do skinny, but we add the tits and the butts, often fake ones, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Zaftig is out in the modern world.”

“I couldn’t figure anything out. Who killed the chauffeur and Rogan? And why was everything so dark? I liked the car though.

” Yeah, it was a sweet Plymouth. Nobody knows who killed the chauffeur or Rogan, not the guy that wrote the story, not the director of the movie and certainly not the actors. Life is like that and so is the private investigation business. Sometimes, hell most times, you simply do not know what happened and never will. And, just like in the movie, it probably doesn’t matter.

As for the dark and the shadows, in films and books that’s called noir. It’s French for dark. Dark shadows, dark thoughts and dark deeds. It’s not like real life at all. Everyone likes light in their life. If it gets too dark they go to sleep. Even bad things are usually done in the light, behind closed doors and in secret perhaps, but the lights are usually on.”

“So, I guess it was like the last one you had me watch, there’s nothing in the movie to learn about bring a private eye?”

“No, in this one there is a lot to learn and remember. For example, you’re never hired by people who have to choose between food and you. It’s always someone who has a some spare cash around. They can spend it on you or a new piece of matched luggage. It’s all the same to them. So make sure you get paid. Up front if you can.

The movie also tells you, don’t work at night. Its dangerous. Sometimes you have to work at night. Like when you’re sitting in your car with your camera watching, hoping to catch client’s husband disappearing into the motel. Still, in the world of private detecting or in life itself, nooners are safer or right after work. Late night trysts interfere with your sleep and should be avoided. Always try to charge more for night work.

Also, if your client has a good-looking daughter, sleeping with her makes the job more interesting. And if he has two, and you have to choose, choose the skinny one.

And finally never, ever have dealings with someone named Eddie Mars.”

“You’re very sick, boss. Why the skinny one?”

“I don’t know. It is one of life’s mysteries.”

We arrived at the IHOP at Fisherman’s Wharf where I was to meet Martin Vihn. We spent a good 15 minutes or so looking for a parking space. We found one half way to North Beach. We walked down the boring part of Columbus to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was chilly as it normally is in the mornings near the water. The swimmers from the Dolphin Club, their little shower caps peeking above the frigid waters near Hyde Pier had already completed most of their laps. The tourists, still drowsy, were beginning to arrive hoping to be amazed. The tee-shirt shops and souvenir stands were open and ready. As we turned toward the IHOP, a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge lit up by the morning sunlight gleamed over my left shoulder. There may often be fog in San Francisco, and like everywhere else people die here in mysterious circumstances, but to me noir was only something the City wore to a masquerade.

DAILY FACTOID:

A Golden Age?

montgomery-ward-1

(We who lived through the last half of the 20th Century undoubtedly have experienced one of the world’s greatest golden ages. However, the significance of the productivity multiples listed on the chart above needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The only productivity gains that really matter are in those related to food, energy [energy productivity gains are missing — how much more or less does it cost to travel a mile today than in 1900?] and health services. The food productivity increases are notably less robust than those experienced in the reproduction of Horatio Alger books. Also, almost all the significant gains in all categories listed in the chart occurred after WWII and based upon statistics for the first 14 years of the 21st Century those rates of growth in many areas are diminishing. In the case of food for example, the so called Productivity Multiple since 2000 actually has been decreasing.

Even in health services, despite the great advances in treatment during the past 50 or so years, their costs for similarly effective treatments has increased dramatically in the past few years so that in all too many cases the time-to-earn number is growing. Also with the emergence of antibiotic resistant diseases and a spate of new environmentally based maladies it is still up in the air as to whether the advances in health sciences will continue at the same pace and whether they will be affordable if they do.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

screen shot 2013-04-22 at 3.38.42 am

(Contrary to popular belief, at least since the Korean War US Federal Government spending [including welfare and Social Security], like budget deficits and the national debt, generally increased during Republican Administrations [except during the Eisenhower Administration] and usually fell during Democratic ones. The reasons for this vary and are often highly political. For example, during their periods in power Republicans generally lower certain taxes [most often on the wealthy and for rent seeking activities], while increasing governmental expenditures [usually by large increases in defense spending or in expanding direct transfers of federal revenue to states]. This produces a temporary appearance of prosperity, but over the long run the lowering of revenue and the maintenance or increase in expenditures leads inevitably to larger deficits and debts especially during those periods of prosperity when debts and deficits should be reduced.

Democrats, however, inheriting these increased deficits and debts, as well as criticism from the Party that created them that the promised expenditures upon which the Democrats ran for office would further increase those debt obligations, generally begin their administrations attempting to increase revenue [usually from those who benefitted from the other Party’s largess] or by cutting programs, usually those favored by the other Party [like Defense]. Proving once again that Democrats are wusses.

In any event, that’s not the problem. There is plenty of tax money received by the federal government to pay for the ever shrinking share of governmental revenues dedicated to things like defense and other discretionary expenses that the politicians like to fight over. It is the growth of transfer payments and not the shrinking share of revenue dedicated to general federal government operations, that appears at first to be a potentially serious problem.

Three of the largest components of the transfer payment or non-discretionary portion of the federal budget are, Social Security disbursements, transfers to state and local governments and various costs associated with health care.

Since 1970, US real GDP has grown a little more than three times more than it was then. Social Security payments, perhaps the largest component of transfer payments during this same time have increased more or less by the same amount [meaning its percentage of GDP has remained relatively stable].

Transfers to state and local governments on the other hand have exploded from almost nothing in 1965 to become, next to SS and Defense, the largest component of federal spending not included in the discretionary portion of the budget [The red, blue and green lines].

A major source of this huge growth occurred when the Nixon and Reagan Administration packaged many existing federal programs [such as housing and many welfare programs] into automatic transfers of tax revenues back to the states and local governments [this is partially why the poorly run State governments, primarily in the South, receive so much more federal revenue than they contribute in taxes]. This effectively put that money outside of the budget cutting debate, because no elected official likes to cut money received by his state; entitlements, if you will, that allow the state to balance its budget without raising taxes. [That Democrats went along with this dodge to fund state governments from federal revenue, further cements their reputation as the wuss party.]

The last major component of the non-discretionary spending that has grown significantly has been in health care. Independent of the issue of who is covered to receive health care and who is not, it is to try to control these costs that comprise a major goal of Obamacare. It is these cost control provisions and not the coverage provisions that those who can afford to directly oppose the program really most object to. Recall that the medicare drug program passed by the Bush administration was a direct redistribution of taxpayer funds to the drug industry without any cost controls. Obamacare thanks to the efforts of both Republican and Democratic legislators ended some of the most egregious aspects of that legislation.

Republicans are especially hesitant to curtail or eliminate transfer payments to their states [after all this was a tremendous victory for political expediency over policy]. Democrats feel the same way about Social Security. They both, until Obamacare came along, have been reluctant to take on the Health Services industry.)

B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

For those who pay attention to such things, in the last chapter of Enter The Dragon, Dragon had told Joe Vu to watch To Have and To Have Not. I made a mistake I ment The Big Sleep. Sorry.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Historically, Populism like most mass movements scours up both the worst and the best in a society as it scrapes across its depths. It is prompted by a deep mistrust of a community’s most powerful individuals and institutions who, its adherents believe, have misused and mishandled the trust they had been granted, violated the social contract if you will. As the indefatigable realist Machiavelli pointed out; ‘on the broad areas of public policy the general populace is almost always more reliable than the elite.'”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY’S CHART:

Chart_on_the_97.5_

(It never ceases to amaze me that I still am inundated by communications from those who, I suspect, decided to disbelieve the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change and search for something, anything, that agrees with their bias usually written by someone with the title of Dr. or Professor before his or her name. I surmise that before distributing the propaganda they never bothered to check to find out if the person is actually an expert in the field or if anyone who is, agrees with him.

One of the most recent missives refers to someone, whose name preceded by Dr. [area of expertise undetermined], who promotes the long discredited claim that vulcanism is responsible for all or most of the elevated carbon found in the earth’s atmosphere today.

The slightest bit of research would reveal that the carbon emitted by every eruption since records have been kept are included in most of the models developed by the scientists upon which the evidence for global warming are based. Did those people who blindly passed on the report without thinking about it actually believe that all the scientists who produced the 50,000 or so peer-reviewed articles confirming climate change just happened to overlook a major carbon source such as volcanos in their calculations?

Now in fairness to all the parties involved in the climate change controversy, I must admit that I have my own conspiracy theory on the matter to promote.

Since the beginning of the 19th Century when accurate meteorological records began to be kept, world population has grown to be more than six times larger than it was then. Today there are six billion more people alive than there were then. Yet the PPM concentration of carbon in the atmosphere [the claimed major factor in global warming.] has increased only by about 50%. Does this mean that had we maintained the population levels of 200 years ago, despite industrialization, the amount of green house gasses in the atmosphere would have remain static and perhaps even decreased? And, if so isn’t birth control the solution now?

If my speculation is accurate, then the mystery is why isn’t the birth control solution at the top of everyone’s agenda? I expect for the environmental community it is because to do so it would threaten to diminish their obsessive focus on industrial regulation. For conservatives it would mean accepting and promoting what to them is morally hateful; birth control, abortion and woman’s liberation. For the business community it means refocusing from supplying existing products to an expanding customer base, to the much more difficult task of creating new wants among existing buyers.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a quote by the economist Brad DeLong that I included in T&T a few weeks ago:

“Only with the coming of female literacy and artificial means of birth control can a society maintain both a slowly-growing or stable population and a substantial edge in median standard of living over subsistence.” *

And, it is equally appropriate for me to urge once more something I have advocated time and time again here in many T&T posts and in a number of blogs that the sooner the instruments of power in society world-wide are turned over to women, the more likely it is that we can avoid the Armageddon that may be rushing towards us.

* Note: Recent archeological evidence seems to indicate that it is overpopulation within certain pockets of hunter gatherers that led to the discovery of farming and that the resulting agricultural communities suffered a substantial decline in their caloric intake and general health as compared to the hunter gatherers that remained in the area.

According to Jared Diamond:

“There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early farmers obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops… Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed. Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease…

Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing élite set itself above the disease-ridden masses…

Farming could support many more people than hunting, albeit with a poorer quality of life. (Population densities of hunter-gatherers are rarely over on person per ten square miles, while farmers average 100 times that.) Partly, this is because a field planted entirely in edible crops lets one feed far more mouths than a forest with scattered edible plants. Partly, too, it’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it’s old enough to keep up with the adults. Because farm women don’t have that burden, they can and often do bear a child every two years…”)

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1350

Waiting for the bus.

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 JoJo 0002 (May 17, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I went to the Thai immigration office to get my one-year retirement visa renewed
The Little Masseuse kindly accompanied me to handle negotiations with the various transportation entities we were required to maneuver in order to get to and from the immigration office. She patiently sat outside the offices waiting for me to complete the process.

It was a much less traumatic experience than my previous visit. It took only about three hours or so.

Alas, after I had acquired the requisite stamps and paid the various fees I left, completely forgetting LM was there waiting for me. I was half-way home when I received a call from her inquiring how much longer the visa extension process would take.

How does one simply forget another human being? What level of self-absorption does it take to do that?

Somewhere in a past T&T I wrote of the three stages of a man’s old age: First you forget to zip it up, then you forget to zip it down, then you die.

I know I have passed through stage one. The periodic sense of cool breezes where there should be none reminds me of that. Alas, it appears that stage two is approaching much faster than I would like.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

You go girl II:

Today Thai television showed a surveillance video of the inside of an elevator. In the elevator stood a small girl or young woman dressed in a pink jacket. A light blue backpack was strapped to her back. The doors opened and a man much larger than the girl and dressed in dark clothing entered. As soon as the doors closed, he grabbed the girl and threw her against the back wall of the elevator. The girl then proceeded to beat the living shit out of him. By the time the elevator doors opened again the guy was lying in a foetal position on the floor of the elevator in a pool of his own blood.

(I have never seen or for that matter imagined a response to a surprise physical assault so sudden, focused, implacable and merciless as that little girl’s.

I wonder if the video was real. It had the blurry aspect of those type of surveillance videos. The girl seemed to move with the speed and power of one of those spandex attired superheroes. What would one call an elfin sized female superhero with a pink jacket and a powder blue backpack?

Speaking of superheroes in tights, when I left the American Embassy a few days ago its exterior walls had been covered in murals painted by local school children in one of those attempts by the State Department to achieve some sort of ambiguous rapport with the locals. The theme of the murals appeared to be the painter’s image of America. In the center of the exhibit was one panel containing a life-sized representation of Captain America in a red white and blue unitard leaping to defend truth justice and the American way complete with a little round shield, blazing red lipstick and huge almost frighteningly large breasts. America the beautiful…We should only hope.)

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

Chapter 15:

(Alas, this issue of T&T has grown so long that I felt adding an another 1000 words or so would be excessive. We will pick up again on the Dragon’s unwilling adventures in the next post.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following begins my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service:

1. Introduction:

It was 1965, the high point for those of us flooding out from the nations colleges and universities who, in response to JFK’s challenge to “ask what you can do for your country,” believed that their idealism could correct past injustices and create a brighter future. It was a few years yet before that idealism began to dissolve in the miasma of self-indulgence brought on by the counter-culture. It was six years before future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart‘s infamous memorandum called for the creation of a massive parasite community, a greater assembly of non-productive individuals than ever contemplated by any religion or governmental bureaucracy, made up of attorneys, economists, consultants and lobbyists dedicated to redistributing wealth from the productive elements of society, rich and poor alike, into their ever insatiable maw. It was still a few years before that dark avatar of amorality, Richard Nixon recognized that combining the worst aspects of the American South with the worst of the North and West was the road to iniquitous power. It was a little more than a decade before, in response to Stewart’s siren call, America’s youth in great numbers abandoned the study of science, engineering and even the debatable civilizing influence of the liberal arts and flocked to devour the intricacies of business, finance and law in the vain hope of raising themselves individually above the society in which they lived. By the mid-1980s the wellspring of JFK’s challenge had died leaving behind only a greater or lesser will to defend what had been accomplished and a vague periodic enthusiasm for restitution on behalf of the victim of the month. But that was later. Then we were certain we would make a difference.

In 1964, the New York State Legislature created the Mental Health Information Service to rectify the perceived festering sore that was New Yorks vast mental hospital system and bureaucracy. I had recently graduated from law school and to play a role in creating program to implement the law fascinated me. A few weeks before this I had participated in a three day testing program at NYU to determine my aptitude for various professional alternatives I may wish to pursue. The tests indicated that I was best suited for either conducting an orchestra or becoming a social worker. Since I had no musical abilities that I knew of but having recently been admitted to the NY Bar, the appearance of the hiring notice seemed fortuitous.
(To be continued)

DAILY FACTOID:

February 3, 1959: The Day the Music Died.

Monument at the crash site of the airplane car...

Monument at the crash site of the airplane carrying Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens; “The Day the Music Died” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not all the music died that day. Waylon Jennings who was also on the tour did not take the flight having given up his seat in favor of “The Big Bopper” who had the flu. Tommy Allsop lost a coin toss to Richie Valens for the last seat on the plane.

Dion Dimucci, the Dion of Dion and the Belmonts fame, did not board the ill fated charter aircraft that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper because he refused to pay the $36 fee.

(I knew Dion. He lived in the Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx, a heavily Italian area of NYC. I could see him doing that. Liked his music though.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

12404_564651120236040_70341764_n

(It should be pointed out the seven countries with the lowest child poverty rates identified by the gold bars are all countries that some have accused of being highly socialistic. These seven countries however are not included in that group of countries experiencing current economic difficulties that these same people attribute to the debts accumulated from their socialistic policies even though in fact those difficulties are almost exclusively due to their lassie faire approach to the unbridled greed of their banking and financial industries.)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

Lee

(A man’s man does not have to be 100% dick.)

C. More Evidence that Economics is a Religion and not a Science:

chart-1

The above chart represents the responses of a large group of economists to the question about the efficacy of current economic policy. It demonstrates what I and many other people have been saying and what many others believe, that economists do not know that they are doing and to bestow upon their area of study the title of a “science” whether modified by the word “social” or not is ludicrous. In fact, to me the predictive power of their field of study is not appreciatively greater than divination of the future from goat entrails. It has all the indicia of a religion. One might just as well flip a coin as ask an economist for advice on what policies to pursue to achieve a healthy national economy.

D. Interesting site:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/the-washington-super-whale-hedge-fundies-the-federal-reserve-and-bernanke-hatred.html#more

The above cited article by Brad DeLong is in my opinion the clearest and most understandable analysis of the financial crisis initiated by Citibank’s London hedge fund trader and of the nature of hedge funds in general. It also highlights why, conspiracy mavens aside, the Federal Reserve system was a pretty good idea.

But perhaps the most interesting thing to me and not discussed at all, was that the supervisor of the rogue trader who, upon realizing that the trader’s approach could either leave Citibank perhaps the most overwhelmingly wealthy entity on earth or bankrupt, chose to take the current loss in order assure preservation of the bank rather than risk it on the potential of becoming richer than Croesus, was a woman.

Would the exclusively male traders and managers at Lehman Brothers have made the same choice? Obviously not.

E. Tales of Inhumanity:

7th May 1943, The ‘end of the world’ approaches in the Warsaw Ghetto (Part II).

A young woman writes:

“Wham! Boom! The enemy is shooting machine guns and throwing grenades into the bunker. The bunker is partially covered with an avalanche of rubble. The people inside are acting courageously. With complete serenity, they look death in the face.

In silence, we honour the death of the people who are burning in the flames. The Germans are shooting every Jew that they find or taking and burning the bodies on the bonfire in the community courtyard at 19 Zamenhof Street. Hitler’s devotees, his dedicated servants and hangmen, who obey their leader’s orders, execute everything in accordance with the order which states that in 1945 there will not be a single Jew left in Europe.

Today, silence reigned for a long time. We lay on the bunks until late in the evening after four days of hunger. Everyone was satisfied because we ate something and went to sleep in a better mood. The appearance of these people, whose cheeks were already sunken, improved, their eyes brightened and a spark of life was once again discernible within them. Now everyone believes that he will be able to hold on.

Surprisingly, we have light again, the electricity is back. Maybe the sun will also shine for us. It’s really about time. We are cut off from the entire world, helpless and relying only on our own powers. No one talks about rescue. We are extending our existence with great effort.

Our lives are extremely threatened now, the danger is constant. The living standard is very low. The people are half-naked, dressed in rags, running around morosely on the stone floor. They can’t live and they can’t die.

I am amazed that in such conditions we have succeeded in surviving for three weeks. We know very well what kind of action this is because they announced it in advance. This is the extermination of Warsaw Jewry and, afterwards, our end.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

A. Sophokles – Antigone:

Antigone: No matter—Death longs for the same rites for all.
Creon: Never the same for the patriot and the traitor.
Antigone: Who, Creon, who on earth can say the ones below don’t find this pure and uncorrupt?
Creon: Never. Once an enemy, never a friend, not even after death.
Antigone: I was born to join in love, not hate—that is my nature.
Creon: Go down below and love, if love you must—love the dead! While I’m alive, no woman is going to lord it over me.
(From Brad DeLong’s Journal)

(See Pepe’s Potpourri D. above. The rogue trader’s manager that put preservation of the organization above untold wealth was fired. Little has changed in 3000 years. We men still behave like Creon. That is why I wrote some time ago:

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

B. Do you agree with this?

“Not all Republicans are racists, but most racists are Republicans.”
Anonymous.

TODAY’S CHART:

577687_10151572256535155_1868687208_n

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN0904

Silver and Blue

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. October 1, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. September 28, 1941: German troops massacre 40,000 Ukrainian Jews at Babi Yar.

Let us not forget the consequences of hate. Without a doubt everyone has had ancestors slaughtered for little more reason than their racial, religious, ethnic heritage, migration in search of a better life or simply because they stood in the way.

2. Statistics: Statistically you are likelier to be executed by Rick Perry than hit by a falling satellite.

And, I bet most of you are more terrorized of falling space junk than the Messiah from Texas. You shouldn’t be.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

I travelled by train to San Jose to have lunch with my good friend Bill. The day was warm and sunny and the train ride was pleasant and boring enough that I slept through most of it. Bill met me at the station and we drove in his new black Jag to a nearby Italian restaurant called “Paesano’s”. It is owned and operated by a man from Palermo Sicily called Pino. The food is a pastiche of dishes from several regions in Italy with an emphasis on the south of the country and adjusted for American tastes. We drank a bottle of Nero d’Avola wine from the area on the island near my mother’s native town. The food was quite good and I suggest that if you find yourself in San Jose and hungry for good Italian food this place will fit the bill.

After lunch we drove over to a new Restaurant/night club called “Myth” in which Bill is part owner. It is a very nice place that serves Greek food during the day and is a night-club on certain nights, with a live jazz group on Saturdays. What I especially like about it is that about one half of the place is out doors, for dining and partying al fresco. It apparently has become quite popular.

Bill and I sat at the bar and ordered some Greek wine. They had no “Retsina” so I ordered a white and Bill had a red. The bartender was a tall attractive young woman named Nichole. For reasons that I refuse to examine, I have a soft spot for woman bartenders especially those with tattoos. Nicole did not have any tattoos that I could see.

While we were drinking, a woman entered the place, walked up to the bar and offered to buy us a drink if we could give her four quarters for the parking meter. Bill and I rummaged through our pockets and found the change but declined the drink. She returned, sat a few stools down from us, ordered her own drink and told us that she was waiting for a friend.

Bill and I resumed our discussion that just happened to be about Cairo and smoking a Hookah. Our new friend then spoke up and said something like, “You’re talking about smoking. I like that.” Now, although reference to smoking can have many connotations not to mention meanings, Bill and I assumed she was speaking about Marijuana. Bill pointed out that we were discussing tobacco in a Hookah and I opined that perhaps she may have been thinking not about tobacco in a hookah but about rolling some weed in cigarette paper. “No,” she replied, “I prefer my smoke coming out of a pipe. This is California after all.”

Yes, it certainly is.

Bill had some client meetings to attend so he dropped me back at the train station and I made my way home.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter: Because I can no longer remember the chapter numbers, I have decided to start naming the chapters rather than numbering them. This one is called “Meg.”

Meg was naked, her steroid enhanced, chiseled body poised kneeling above him on the bed.

Outside the room the surf at Half Mood Bay rumbled, drowning out the sounds of automobiles on Highway One located about a hundred yards behind her home.

She lowered her head and with her tongue, gently explored Jack’s one eye. Ray moaned slightly and drew in his breath, She slowly licked the head and then Jack’s eye again. Then, placing her lips lightly on the tip of his penis, she gradually drew it into her mouth until her lips slid over the corona and lingered in the sulcus while she flicked her tongue again over the glans, then she proceeded down the shaft of his cock. He moaned again, his muscles going rigid as he entwined his fingers in her hair pulling it violently out and down while he thrust up forcing his cock deep into her mouth.

She loved the silky smoothness of the skin of his member, soft like velvet with the iron-hard prick beneath. She liked the pain as he pulled on her hair. She liked the ache in her sphincter where an hour or so before he brutalized it, thrusting deep within her. For the entire night they had gone without break from bed to shower to floor in an unending symphony of brutality and passion.

His moans grew louder as he drew her faster and deeper on him until with a sudden thrust the hot, bitter, salty brew sprayed into her mouth as he spasmed and then relaxed, his fingers falling from her hair.

As his breathing slowed and his erection wilted, she moved up and across his body bestowing light kisses on his body as she passed until she lay alongside him, her head nestled in the crook of his arm with her lips pressed against his neck.

She lay there a few moments, thinking first of Ray and languid ache in her that he brought on, than drifting off to confront the disturbing specter of Stephanie. Stephanie, her beautiful porcelain white skinned Stephanie. The night she died she had called Meg. Told her she couldn’t spend the night alone in that house and she was coming over the hill to spend it in Meg’s arms. She sounded upset, as she should be, not because of her asshole husband Sam’s death but because of its violence. But she never arrived. Then Meg got the call about the crash at Devil’s Slide.

When she arrived at the site, she found out it was Steph. The idiot medical examiner claimed it was an accident or suicide. Meg knew that it could not be. Devil’s slide was not on the route from Steph’s home to Meg’s place. Ray also expressed doubts about the official reported cause of Stephanie’s death.

She felt his breathing slow. He was drifting off into sleep.

“Not yet,” she whispered. “Once more for me.”

He smiled and with his eyes still closed he pulled her up towards him. She straddled his head with her knees. Her hands she pressed against the wall behind the bed. He gently ran his tongue along the sides of her clitoris and labia. She could feel her wetness. Her muscles tightened. He held her cheeks tightly. A finger fluttered around her aching asshole, prying it open and slipping the tip in and out. Suddenly he withdrew his tongue and sucked her steroid swollen clit into his mouth hard while plunging his finger deep into her ass. She felt the rush of blood and warmth spread throughout her body. Her muscles tightened until she became as rigid as a granite statue. As the flood of ecstasy swept from the fringes her body and plunged toward her cunt, she raised her face up toward the ceiling and let out a deep guttural scream.
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I didn’t know that:

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (“the graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus someone could be,”Saved by the Bell’‘ or considered a ”Dead Ringer.’
b. What Adam Smith (considered by some as the “father” of Capitalism) Really Said:

“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations [Book III, Chapter IV, p. 444].

c. From God’s Mouth to your Ears:

“They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera’s spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil.”

(Judges 5:30 NAB)

Well, there you are, God is good to his guys, especially if they are very good at raping and killing.

d. Profiles in presidential courage:

e. American Exceptionalism:

” . . . the only way to drive the US from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps is by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them.”
Osama Bin Ladin

Of course, no American government or political party would be so dumb as to fall for that.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Our riches, being in our brains, die with us…unless of course someone chops off our head, in which case, we won’t need them anyway.”
W. A. Mozart

Wolfie, stick to your music.

BONUS QUOTE:

“I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.”
Rick Santorum

Huh! An army of eunuchs? Will we restore the draft or ask for volunteers? What would happen to our military if this man became president? Remember, it was Genghis (Wolfie) Mozart, owner of the candy store in the village that I grew up in, who said, “An army that can’t fuck is an army that kills its own officers.”

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:


TODAY’S CHART:

(I bet a lot of people believe that the oil companies are holding on to all this cash so that they can do something good for them.)

Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. September 28, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

48 percent of Congress members are millionaires while only 1 percent of all Americans are millionaires.
55 members of Congress have an average wealth of $10 million and 8 members have an average wealth of $100+ million.
During the worst part of the recession 2008-2009, the median wealth of a congressional member rose $125K.
The median wealth of a House member is $700,000+, while the median wealth for a senator was over $2 million.
5 of the 6 Republican members of the new Super Committee for the Budget are millionaires.

Most of these congressional millionaires are opposed to Obama’s millionaire’s tax proposal. Who still believes we elect our legislators to represent us?

TODAY’S NEWS FROM AMERICA:

Times are Hard: One of the law firms that I had been associated with puts out a newsletter for its in-house attorneys and alumni. Its latest edition listed 72 job listings for attorney’s around the country.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Recently, I had dinner with my friend Peter Grennel at Bacco’s an Italian restaurant in Noe Valley, a SF neighborhood in which I used to live and in which Peter still does. We spent much of the dinner discussing the pleasure we received from reading Naida West’s California trilogy. He also sadly informed me of the demise of the Noe Valley Mystery Book Store, a neighborhood institution. It, alas, lost its lease due to rising rents.

I travelled to Sacramento to a few days with Hayden. He seemed in good spirits and not as jumpy. That may be due somewhat to SWAC’s medications. She seemed much less frenzied than usual. She did not once express to me a need immediately to move to somewhere else or to complain about her incompatibility with her son. Nevertheless, upon my arrival she immediately departed for obviously more interesting environment than that afforded by a six-year-old.

I took Hayden to play in his first basketball game. He joined a team of six-year olds called the Warriors that play in a local community league. He had no concept of the sport. Before beginning the game, his coach told him to keep his hands in the air while guarding his man. He spent most of the game running back and forth up and down the court with his hands over his head. It appeared his favorite part of the game was falling on the floor and wrestling for a loose ball. I later found out the game was televised on the local public access system. The Warriors tied their opponents, a team of seven-year olds. Go Warriors!

Hayden and I also had dinner with my friends Norbert and Stevie and got the latest news about things coastal and California State politics. I learned that Peter Douglas has resigned as Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission for health reasons. My liberal conscience and my chthonic emotions are warring over the nature of any comments I may have, so I will make none.

After spending about 5 days in Sacramento, I returned to SF. I travelled by train from Sacramento to Emeryville where I caught a bus to take me across the Bay Bridge into The City. It was a pleasant trip.

San Francisco was enjoying that agreeable sunny weather that seems to exist only in The City, in which one could wear either a t-shirt without feeling cold or an over-coat without breaking into a sweat.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter wherever we left off last:

Vince stared into Isabella’s eyes reflected in the make-up mirror.

“So,” he said slowly, “even if I were to agree with your dramatic conclusion, which I don’t, what could we do about it? It is the authors story after all.”

“We can try to change it,” she responded.

Vince broke out laughing with a laugh that was somewhere between mirth and nervousness.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said after finishing his show of feigned amusement. “It is the author’s story. The characters can do nothing about it. They only can play their part.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” she replied seriously. “Characters often make the story and the author respond to where the logic of his character leads. Even this author said that he was disappointed in his character Ike. He expected more of him.”

“I do not think that he ment quite what you think he ment, but,” he added thoughtfully, “I admit that I am intrigued somewhat by your suggestion. How do you propose we do this probably impossible thing.”

“Well, I do not really know for sure,” she said, “but we can start by after each scene you and I going over it to try to figure out what the hell is really is going on or what’s actually in the author’s mind, or even if he doesn’t know himself we can try to understand what could happen. We would be sort of like helping the Author along if you will…for our own benefit of course.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I didn’t know that:

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach on to the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or “The Upper Crust”.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ”Holding a Wake”.

b. The Difference Between a Traditional Conservative and a Modern Conservative:

A traditional conservative accepts that religious beliefs have no place in American government but morality does. The modern conservative insists that religious beliefs control governmental policies, but morality is optional.

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”
Song of Solomon 2:3

Solomon you rascal!

d. What Adam Smith (considered by some as the “father” of Capitalism) Really Said:

“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations [Book V, Chapter II, Part II, Article 1, pp. 906-07 ]

My god! Was Adam Smith actually a socialist?

e. Profiles in Presidential Courage:

“I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.”
John F Kennedy

It is truly tragic that in the two decades after President Kennedy’s assassination the political approach to carry out these uplifting sentiments were altered by his own party to no longer indicate a commitment to society’s progress toward rough economic justice and fairness for all the nation’s citizens, but instead to require a restricted focus on identity politics directed to benefit only those who rightly or wrongly claimed to have not shared in the nation’s largesse. It became an approach directed at pitting the poor and the disadvantaged against the poor and disadvantaged along racial, ethnic, and gender lines while the privileged and secure sat by, clucking their tongues at brutish intransigence of those who had the most to lose.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“[T]he Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.”
~ Obi-Wan Kenobe

“[W]e’re living in a Dark Age of macroeconomics.”
~ Paul Krugman

If Paul Krugman is Obi-wan Kenobi then Milton Friedman is Darth Vader. If then one considers Barak Obama as Luke Skywalker, then Milton Friedman would be Barak Obama’s father. That explains everything.

TODAY’S CHART:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. September 23, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

A Child Shall Lead Them: Recently a 13-year-old boy has discovered a means of making solar cells 20 to 50 percent more efficient by altering the normal design for solar arrays to that of a spiral as found in the usual arrangement of branches in trees.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

My last view of Bangkok as I winged away to return to the US was of the gathering clouds of the monsoon rains that quickly obscured the city below. The adventures of Princess LuckyGirl, Thaksin the Terrible, Cheeky Cherlerm and Abhsit the Unready have already begun to fade from my consciousness, as The Little Masseuse, who accompanied me to the airport, faded from my sight as I passed through security and customs into the boarding area.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN AMERICA:

I arrived in San Francisco last night at about 8pm and was pickedup by my daughter-in-law Anne and my grandson Anthony. The flight was remarkably unremarkable. I spent the time that I was not asleepwatching the video of the first 12 episodes of The Game of Thrones that I enjoyed very much. Like many others, I have read the novels over the years and became convinced the author has not the slightest idea about how he was going to resolve the many plot lines that he unleashed in his novels, a number of which seemed to just peter out. Like many of the aficionados of the work I was furious at his refusal to complete the set, promising to deliver the concluding book than failing to do so year after year until coterminous with production of the first book in the HBO mini-series, he published an over 1000 page tome, that I have not yet read but which I understand still does not tie everything up. I assume he hopes the mini-series lasts a decade or more.

First Impressions:

Sleeping: Last night I enjoyed a good sleep, on a soft bed, covered with a warm blanket and the windows open. In Thailand I sleep on a rock hard bed (as do most Thais) without covers (usually starkers) since the temperature in BKK even during the coldest part of the night rarely drops below 80 degrees and even the AC, if it exists and is working, rarely drops the temperature below 77. If I set the AC below that temperature, the Little Masseuse starts shivering and covering herself up with multiple blankets. When I explained that Americans prefer to sleep with the temperature in the high 60’s and in SF at least, I prefer it even cooler, she shuddered.

Dressing: Putting on more clothing than a light shirt and shorts (which, except for questions of modesty, in BKK is still too much clothing for me at least and I suspect most Westerners) was delightful.

English: Bernal Heights, San Francisco

English: Bernal Heights, San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walking: Today I walked the over six miles from Bernal Heights where I am staying to Downtown and then on to lunch in North Beach. I tell you this, not because I am proud of walking that far, but because the last time I was in the city I could not conceive of walking that far in one trip. It is one of the benefits of my exercise regime of the past two months that I can now spend hours doing something that a sensible human being would take minutes to do by riding in a car or a bus. I would never walk that far in BKK, first because it is too hot and second because Thais believe walking from place to place is a sign of low-class.

Banking: One purpose of my trip this morning was to get to my bank and withdraw my money before the Franchise Tax Board (California’s tax storm troopers) took it to pay my back taxes. Last time I was in the US and travelled to Italy I decided not to remove the pension funds the day of their deposit but to wait until I had returned to Italy. Sure enough, the FTB looted my account. This was especially bad for me since they effectively took my savings for the year as well.

Hats: The second purpose was to buy a Panama hat to replace the one destroyed by the little masseuse. She had complained that my existing Panama had begun to look and smell bad, a criticism I could somewhat agree with. So, one day while I was out, she decided to wash it in the washing machine and then scrub it with strong soap and a brush. When I returned she presented me with a mat of very clean Ecuadorian straw. When I complained that not only was I fond of the hat but that it was expensive, she replied, “Expensive maybe, but not very strong.”

Anyway, I had purchased that hat on Union Street during my last visit to the City. As I walked past the shop, the hat spoke to me, so I just had to go in and buy it no matter its impact on my budget. This morning I searched again for the shop and after I found it I told the shop girl, that I had travelled all the way here from Asia to replace the hat that spoke to me. She smiled, took my money and hustled me quickly out the door.

beatniks in the summer of 1969

beatniks in the summer of 1969 (Photo credit: Martin Pulaski)

Lunch: After banking and before buying my hat I walked to North Beach to eat lunch. For those unfamiliar with SF, North Beach is the so-called Italian neighborhood, home of overpriced generally mediocre italian restaurants and the ghosts of Beatniks past (Kerouac, Cassidy, Burroughs et al.) Two of my favorite places were closed. Franchetti’s which not only serves some of the best Southern Italian cooking in the area, but the husband and wife who run it and do the cooking came from a little town near Avellino in the mountains outside of Naples, not more than a mile from the town from which my grandfather emigrated. Panta Rai is the other restaurant. Its food, while acceptable, is not so good. What I like about the place, however, is that when I lived in the neighborhood, I got to know the waiters and owners. And, the owner always hired beautiful young Russian student waitresses who flirted with me. Also, I like to eat at the sidewalk tables since, as any italian knows, dining al fresco improves the taste of the food. In addition, the location ofthe place is at the Green St. and Columbus Street intersection, the busiest in the neighborhood. Another reasons why italians enjoy eating al fresco is that it is much more interesting to watch the world go by while eating, than simply sitting in a room with other diners burying their faces in the food.

Anyway, unfortunately, I ended up eating mediocre Spaghetti Bolognese at a sidewalk table at another near-by establishment.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed because the author is busy traveling.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I Didn’t Know That:

In the old days in Europe, people cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight, then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: ”Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old”.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over they would hang up their bacon, to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “Bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around talking and “chew the fat”.

b. What Adam Smith (Considered by Some as the “Father” of Capitalism) Really Said:

“Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favor of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favor of the masters.”
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, [Book I, Chapter X, Part II, p. 164]

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

“But it is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less.”
D. James Kennedy one of the theological progenitors of Rick Perry’s fundamentalist brain trust.
d. The Difference Between a Traditional Conservative and a Modern Conservative:

A traditional conservative believes that government is necessary but that its costs and efficiency are what matters. A modern conservative believes government is the problem.

e. Today’s Screed:

Some of you who have read these posts (and although I write these primarily for my amusement, I am pleased some of you do) have wondered about my fixation with religion in my posts over the past few months, often quoting unsympathetically from the Good Book and modern christian divines and at other times posting tidbits about the notorious personal lives of various religious leaders throughout the ages. One reader asked if I were a communist atheist. Communist I will leave for another time, atheist, hardly.

To me atheism and religion both represent the same syndrome, a fixation on what they do not and never can know. The organizing principle of most religions are based not on any morality but on exclusion (I’m saved but you’re not), except for something like Buddhism who’s organizing principle seems to be “I don’t give a shit what you believe because it doesn’t matter anyway.” Atheists, although generally a fiercely independent and curmudgeonly bunch, are equally affected, especially when they get together, as we experienced in, say, Soviet Russia where they practiced merely a less virulent form of intolerance.

No, what fascinates me is the penchant of these religious elites to blithely ignore the horror of their own history and their so-called sacred writings in their mad rush to control (Dominion, if you must) the fruits of society.

I find it frighteningly amusing to observe, certainly in the case of modern fundamental christianity, their leaders alliance with capitalism and its ideology (Atheists appear to mostly prefer communism). Their goal seems to be to expropriate the fruits of liberal democracy and capitalism without having to participate in the risks of the market, work hard, increase productivity and all the other requirements of a free enterprise economy. The purpose of the religious élite has always been to secure for themselves a by on what the rest of us have to do to survive.

(Have you noticed the tendency among most politicians to ape the religious élite more than their industrial padrones. They, especially those of a conservative bent, frantically seek to make money without working, while at the same time their voices thrash with emotion in anger at some of those whose labor affords them this option to live on the dole, who instead, taking the pols and religious élite as role models, attempt to get something for nothing.

I say send them all into the tomato or cotton fields to work alongside some illegal aliens and learn something about real life. Lets have our own “great leap forward,” except that instead of sending our intellectual elites out to enjoy the pleasures of rural and industrial toil we send out our conservative religious and political brethren (and perhaps a few of those classical economists who argue with a straight face, unemployment does not exist). It could not have any worse impact on our economy than that inflicted on it by our own brand of parasites; the politicians, bankers, fundamentalist preachers, lawyers and economists.)
f. Trolley Test iii:

Now let us look at the 5 woebegone people on the track facing the onslaught of the out of control trolley car.

Would your answer to the questions in the last to posts be the same if those five people were:
1. Illegal aliens, Mexicans fleeing from the border patrol.
2. Nuns
3. Children between the ages of 3 and 8 years of age.
4. Ghetto teenagers decked out in their colors or whatever else it is that the use today.
5. Your children or other members of your family.

White obviously this test cannot be validly used for scientific analysis lacking controls, priming and the other techniques required by this type of scientific study, I have used it to explore my own biases and morals. I have found in my case not only do my morals and ethics sadly range from situational to essentially nonexistent, but that without a doubt I would be so fearful and indecisive that I know that I would be unable to act relegating 5 people to their certain death.

But what about the default option, the one that says these five people are somewhere they should not be, whether through intent, mistake or ill-fortune they should not be there so what happens to them is not my fault? I should feel neither guilt for their misfortune nor take it upon myself to weigh their lives against any other. If I was the motorman and could not stop, it is their problem and not mine to play God.

On the other hand what about if they were my children or family members? What then?

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Now the Jedi are all but extinct.”
~ Obi-Wan Kenobe

TODAY’S CHART:

Rick Perry patron of illegal immigration?

Or, do immigrants work harder than indigenous white Americans? In the early part of the last century, a group of Italian immigrants in Louisiana, in the largest mass hanging in American history, were lynched because, in part, they were willing to work harder for lower wages than native rednecks. In this case, hanging them raised the cost of labor for employers, sort of like raising the minimum wage.

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. September 19, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

The US Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will cost more than $2 billion to repair the damage to the nation’s levees, dams and riverbanks caused by this year’s excessive flooding, a sum that dwarfs $150 million it currently has to make such repairs and that doesn’t account for damage from Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. Fair and Balanced Update: In my last post, I speculated about the reason behind the Media assault on the new Administration of Princess LuckyGirl as well as her party’s rapid implementation of some of its policies (especially on amnesty for Princess LuckyGirl‘s elder brother, the fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin the Terrible). I guessed it had something to do with possible  military co-option by the new government.

An article in today’s english language press (definitely not on the front page), reported that recent poll results showed an overwhelming majority (over 80%) of Thais opposed another military coup under any circumstances. In a related story, interviews, with a number of members of the military general staff have elicited the opinion from most of them that the previous military coup was a mistake and damaged the Thai economy. In still another associated story, the Yellow Shirts, the citizen group whose protests against the Thaksin associated government brought about the military coup and who strongly supported the Military’s war with Cambodia announced they intended to stay out of politics for a while.

It sounds as though the return of Thaksin the Terrible is imminent and people are beginning to line up to get on his good side.

2. Political Gibberish: Meanwhile, the man himself, Thaksin the Terrible, is spending a leisurely week in Cambodia, Thailand’s neighbor and recent opponent in a comic war over ownership of a temple in a disputed area along the countries’ border. He is there ostensibly to play golf and give a few lectures to a business conference. The newspapers published a photograph of him hugging “his good friend,” the prime minister of Cambodia, Thailand’s enemy only two months ago. When interviewed by the press during his sojourn and asked whether if he did return to Thailand would he reenter politics and assume the Prime Minister’s job, he responded with a string of political gibberish of which even I could make no sense.

3. Amnesty: It was also announced today, by the governmental agency responsible for making such announcements, that according to Thai law, anyone over 60 years of age convicted of a crime that requires incarceration for less than 3 years qualifies to petition the King for amnesty. Thaksin the Terrible, is 63 years old and has been sentenced to serve two years in prison.

Have we seen this movie before?

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Although I remain mostly in bed treating my illness, I still must bustle about to prepare for my return to California on Wednesday, September 24. Regrettably, a lot of what I had hoped to get done before departure will not get done.

The flooding in Thailand moves ever closer to Bangkok and is expected to arrive in the next few days. Bangkok like New Orléans is a city located for the most part below sea level. In the next decade, as a result of rising sea levels and increased precipitation it will face its own city altering catastrophic floods like New Orléans did. But unlike New Orléans, allowed to flood for political reasons, Bangkok being the capital city will struggle to divert the onslaught of the waters through massive public-works projects already under weigh or in planning. Technical exchanges with Holland and other countries to try to address the problem have increased recently.

While the public-works projects will have a beneficial effect on the Thai economy, I am dubious about their efficacy given the area’s geography and the speed and extent of sea level rise and climate change. I would be surprised if by 2050 Bangkok as we know it will even exist. But, alas, I will undoubtedly not be around to experience the accuracy of my prediction.

While lying awake one night unable to sleep due to the aches and miseries associated with my current malady and unwilling to watch another Steven Seagal movie or Thai soap, I turned on my Mac and reread the “This and thats” that I have written over the past few months. Usually when I finish a post and send it out, I generally find myself embarrassed and disgusted with what I imagine is the poor grammar, infantile emotions, self-indulgence, foolish assertions and many other things contained in it. While my rereading of the posts did not disabuse me of those feelings, I have to admit I enjoyed looking through them again. I was especially amused coming across some of my long forgotten obsessions. For those of you who may have actually read them, you have my sympathy.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

“What do you mean,” said the Vince character in response to Isabella’s expression of concern?

“Well, the way I see it, it is like your character said when we met at Ike’s house, what we have here is simply a third-rate business screw up, so what’s the big deal?”

“Go on,” Vince encouraged. “I still don’t see what you’re so concerned about.”

“These type of business failures and frauds happen every day, but people don’t go running around committing suicide, killing people or setting up fall guys.”

“Well, maybe the Brethren are publicity shy.”

“Maybe,” she continued. “But their involvement is easily dismissed publicly as only another case of some abused and defrauded investors. No, it is something more, something bigger that if it came out would threaten everything,”

“So, I still don’t see what you’re so upset about. This is a thriller. The author, if he knows what he is doing, would want a conspiracy, the bigger the better.”

“No, no that’s not it,” she exclaimed, her voice rising. “What’s our role, your role?”

“I’m the reluctant but courageous hero who after many harrowing adventures prevails over the forces of darkness,” he responds smugly. “And you, why you’re my doxy,” he adds with a smile and leans forward to peer more closely at his face in the makeup mirror.

“That would work,” she responds derisively, “if you knew something that threatens them, whoever they are, which you don’t. Or they think you know something, which you don’t . Or you could stumble over something which you won’t because everyone knows the only reason you were brought into this novel was to die.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I Didn’t Know That:

During the Middle Ages in Europe, the floor of most homes was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a “thresh-hold.”

By the way, this common use of dirt and thresh flooring is also the reason why we in the West, unlike in the East, customarily remain wearing shoes when entering a house.

b. What Adam Smith (considered by some as the “father” of Capitalism) Really Said:

“When masters combine together in order to reduce the wages of their workmen, they commonly enter into a private bond or agreement, not to give more than a certain wage under a certain penalty. Were the workmen to enter into a contrary combination of the same kind, not to accept of a certain wage under a certain penalty, the law would punish them very severely; and if it dealt impartially, it would treat the masters in the same manner.”
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations [Book I, Chapter X, Part II, p. 164].

c. From God’s Mouth to Your Ears:

“… I believe God was waiting for the biblical government of the Church to come into place under apostles and prophets. But this happened in 2001, when, at least according to my estimates, the Second Apostolic Age began. What more? I now think that in order for us to be able to handle the wealth responsibly, we need to recognize, identify, affirm, and encourage the ministry of the apostles in the six non-Religion mountains. They may or may not want to use the term `apostle’ but they will function in Kingdom-based leadership roles characterized by supernaturally empowered wisdom and authority. We have more work to do here.”
C. Peter Wagner (an ardent Rick Perry supporter), The Reformers Pledge.

Is he implying that  George Bush’s election ushered in the Second Apostolic Age? Why that would make good old George the modern Moses! Poor George, he gets blamed for everything. Hmm, is there somewhere one can go to sign up for one of those apostleships?

d. Profiles in Presidential Courage:

“As for the other six and a half billions of the deficit we did not just spend money; we spent it for something. America got something for what we spent—conservation of human resources through CCC camps and through work relief; conservation of natural resources of water, soil and forest; billions for security and a better life. While many who criticize today were selling America short, we were investing in the future of America.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

The Hamer people in Ethiopia have a formal rite of passage for boys before they can formally marry. They must run naked over a row of cows four times. In the Brazilian Amazon, the Satere-Mawe tribe have a more painful–and dangerous–manhood ritual. Boys must wear a glove woven with bullet ants twenty times.

f. The Trolley Test II:

Let us assume that in the example given in my last post, instead of the option of switching to an alternative track to avoid the trolley killing the five people on the track, you are on a bridge above the track, beside you stands a fat man. You know that the fat man, if he fell on the tracks, would stop the trolley and save the five people. Would you throw him off?

Now right here I must stop and admit I have a problem. Describing this person as a “Fat” man would, because of my liberal leanings force me to hesitate while I examine whether or not my progressive values are offended by the stereotype, causing me, in true liberal fashion, to do nothing resulting in the inevitable death of five people.

Now in order to avoid the sticky emotional problem of physically touching the person you intend to kill, assume the fat man is suspended in a basket above the tracks to be released to fall upon the tracks and stop the Trolley by you pressing a button.

1. Would you press the button now?
2. Would your answer be the same if the person in the basket was:
a. Adolf Hitler (or if you need a person in being, say Moammar Gaddafi),
b. Mother Theresa or Albert Einstein (or, Suu Kyi),
c. Michelle Bachman, (or the Republican of your choice)
d. Barak Obama (or Michael Moore or some other liberal you find obnoxious)
e. A young pregnant woman,
f. A child or,
e. One of your close relatives or friends?
3. Would you throw yourself off that bridge instead of any one of the above?
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Everything we’re seeing [the current financial crisis] makes sense if you think of the right as representing the interests of rentiers, of creditors who have claims from the past — bonds, loans, cash — as opposed to people actually trying to make a living through producing stuff. Deflation is hell for workers and business owners, but it’s heaven for creditors.”
Kuttner.

BONUS QUOTE:

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
Yoda
TODAY’S CHART:

Before and after September 11.


Do you think Osama bin Laden achieved his goal to destroy America’s economic might?

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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