Posts Tagged With: Andrea Camilleri

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Cold Tits 0003 (February 28 2013)

“Life is an application and not an operating system.”

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

When I was about seven years old we were quite poor. It was a few days before Christmas. My father was out of work and had disappeared, ostensibly to find a job. We did not have enough money for Christmas dinner nor for presents for my brother and I. The door bell rang. When my mom answered it, a young woman stood there smiling. She announced that they, the members of the Parish church, decided that we were the most destitute family in the Parish. She then happily presented us with a large turkey, baskets of food and presents for my brother and I.

I have always hated that woman. I could never forget the crushing humiliation I felt by that small bit of charity. Often I see her smiling face in my nightmares.

(“Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.” – John Dickinson (“1776”))
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Here in El Dorado Hills it is barely mid-February and the trees are already beginning to blossom. The crocuses have flowered and the recent rains have brought a green blush to the dun stained hills
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I now spend about six hours or so a day reading. It’s become an addiction, not too much different from alcoholism or gambling.

I have just finished a recent book about my favorite fictional repressed homoerotic couple, Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell in “Light of the World” by James Lee Burke. I wish they would just get it on with each other. It may lessen their dependency on mayhem, slaughter and alcohol.

This book finds our heroes in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana enjoying a vacation on the ranch owned by their friend, a well-known author and environmental radical. They are joined by Clete’s illegitimate daughter who was sexually abused as a child and used to be a hit-man (woman) called “Caruso” operating out of Miami on behalf of the Cuban and Italian mobs . She finally killed her abuser. Now she is a documentary film maker. Dave’s brought along his wife, an ex-Maryknoll nun who escaped the death squad slaughters of nuns in Nicaragua and married Dave (Come to think of it, the death squads don’t seem any worse than marriage to Robicheaux would be.) Also accompanying them is Dave’s adopted daughter Alafier, an orphan from El Salvador Dave rescued from the wreckage of a plane floating in the Gulf of Mexico and who after attending Reed College and Stanford Law School became an author just like Burke’s daughter of the same name did in real life.

In the early 70’s my son Jason and I used to spend a couple of weeks a year in the Bitterroot Valley with some friends there. They lived in a small A-frame that stood alone in the middle of the valley somewhere between Lolo and Hamilton or perhaps south of Hamilton, I do not remember which. No other structures could be seen only the valley’s flat grassy bottom with the mountains rising on each side. One winter the snow-covered the valley floor and we saw a herd of elk pawing the snow in front yard searching for the grass beneath. We watched them for hours as though we were looking at television or staring into an i-phone. Another time during the spring, we visited a ranch that raised and trained rodeo ponies and rode them all afternoon in the hills on the east side of the valley among the spring wild-flowers. Once while hiking in the Bitterroot mountains I got separated from my friend. He had Jason with him and I had his two children of about the same age with me. I am deathly afraid of bears. My friend had told me that these mountains were filled with Grizzlies. I got lost and began to cry. The children led me by the hand back to the car.

Anyway, our heroes Dave, Clete and their gang run amok among the mountains and valleys of western Montana in pursuit of a serial killer and also an evil petroleum billionaire leaving many many dead and maimed bodies in their wake. As in most of the other books in which he appears, Clete gets laid and the woman inevitably leaves him.

After reading the sixteen quadrillion books Burke has written in this series, I have become more fond of Clete. Dave could drop into a hole in the ground for all I care. Clete at least knows he is a screwed up violent alcoholic, Dave is a 12 stepper with all the cereal box morality and self-importance that implies. (I liked him better when he was still a drunk.) He also hallucinates, something I think is a hangover from his past hangovers. I suspect even the author has finally recognized Dave’s deficiencies. He has one of the villeins of the book, the son of the evil billionaire, say just before his head is blown off by a bullet from a rifle held by his illegitimate half-brother, a crazed ex-con who also has visions:

“We’ve researched every aspect of your life, Mr. Robicheaux. We have your psychiatric records, your pitiful statements about your dependency on your whore of a mother, your sexual history in Manila and Yokohama, the possibility of a homoerotic relationship with your fat friend, your constant whining about all the injustices visited on the miserable piece of swamp you grew up in. The fact that you take others to task for their mistakes has established new standards in hypocrisy.”
Burke, James Lee. Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 539). Simon & Schuster.

Pookie says check it out.
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HRM and his team Mother Lode Rugby (Go you Mothers) played two games in Gridley a remote town in the middle of ranch and orchard country in the northern Central Valley. They lost both games to different teams by the identical score of 60 to 5. I guess it shows some improvement.
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Last week or so I joined a local health club. So, now I have physical therapy two days a week and exercise at the health club about four days a week. That leaves one day a week when I refuse to get out of bed.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

I have been told recently from some of my correspondents in Thailand that the nature of the dispute causing the current demonstrations and turmoil in that country has changed from simple politics to concern about royal succession. The politics have always been centered on the conflict between the culture of corruption among the ruling economic and political élite and the alleged corruption concentrated in the hands of the family of Thaksin the Terrible the exiled ex-Prime Minister who had secured political power it has been said in return for programs that help the poor of the Country. It is now maintained by many that the conflict has shifted to the possibility that with the current King’s potential imminent demise the Throne will pass to his son. The son, it has been whispered about, is considered a creature of the same Thaksin the Terrible. Not only has it been alleged that the Prince received huge payments of cash from the ex-Prime Minister’s family in return for his support but that he himself is a monster who plotted to assassinate other members of the royal family competing with him for the crown. The leaders of the protest movement now insist that the demonstrations are not about political power but about preserving the Monarchy. Why having a king (or Queen in this case) more amenable to their interests is considered preservation of the Monarchy remains unaddressed.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
original-2
original-1
These charts, if accurate, show why the cycle of poverty in the US is so hard to break. My daughter Jessica suggested that perhaps we should simply declare that, with few exceptions, once one reaches 21 year of age he or she are on their own, but until then society should guarantee children their education, health care, food, adequate housing and the like.

B. A Little Bit of Twain:

“There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”
Mark Twain

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We’re born arsonists and we die firemen.”
Camilleri, Andrea; Sartarelli, Stephen. Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries) (p. 238). Penguin Group US.

“I can be very rude, and when I was younger and scary-looking, people were very rude to me. But there’s much less of that now. When you become famous, people are much nicer to you.”
Mina, Denise. The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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See charts in Pepe’s Potpourri above. By the way, Finland operates more or less what my daughter suggests.

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Categories: January through March 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

English: Map of Pitcairn Islands (rough), Paci...

Map of Pitcairn Islands (rough), Pacific Ocean, own work composed from various mapreferences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2011: According to UN estimates Pitcairn Islands is the worlds smallest country in terms of population containing just about 50 citizens.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Coup rumblings or show of force:

Military exercises by about 1000 élite troops are being held in Bangkok ostensibly so that the troops can show their support of the monarchy. In his speech to these troops the commander of the 1st Infantry Division (the troops that put down the Red Shirt protest last year) proclaimed, “All from the 1st Infantry Regiment are the Kings soldiers. Hence, you must be ready to act on commands of your superiors.” He then went on to urge them to have faith in their commanders and strictly obey their orders, and insisted that all soldiers should share the army chief’s stance.

Huh…what about the Kings stance or that of the democratically elected government?

b. Who runs the country:

It should be noted that although the current military high command apparently dominates the existing civilian government in power the opposition United Front for Democracy (UDD) is led by a general. The UDD has just severed its ties with the main opposition party, the Puea Thai (Thaksin and Red Shirt backed party).

Is this an attempt by the General to secure himself a position in the next government whether formed by coup or election?

c. Although it may only be proposed as electioneering propaganda the current ruling party proposes an interesting approach to taxes:

The ruling Democrats have proposed higher consumption taxes as a means of lowering the income gap. Now consumption taxes always have been criticized as a means for the very rich to transfer whatever burden of support for the government they may be asked to bear themselves to the poor, working and middle classes through progressive income taxes, not otherwise avoided by tax reductions on the rich by means of a flattened tax role or simple non progressive roll back of rates. Simply, the wealthiest people in a society spend relatively less of their income on consumable than the rest of us and apply more of it to savings and accumulation of capital. In an effort to defuse this criticism or disguise its impact by arguing that the wealthy would pay more for luxury goods that the rest of the population cannot afford and thereby contribute more funds to the public treasury that they now avoid through deductions applicable mostly to them, like deductions for investments into long-term mutual funds (by the way, providing a greater benefit to the operators of the mutual funds than to the investors who reap the benefits of this largess through fees).* There is however a history of progressive application of consumption fees in Thailand through escalating tax rates for increased electricity use, more costly luxury cars and some environmental pollution fees.

* ( If the mutual funds actually provided a greater rate of return on investment than competing investments then investors would so invest as classical economic market theory predicts. By pushing for this redistribution of tax burden, the financial industry that promoted it actually encourages less competition and efficiency than classical economic market theory demands. It is instructive to note how silent most classical economists in the US, who are primarily paid by the financial industry, remain when faced by violations of their theories in situations like this and in cases of other supply side subsidies, while on the other hand their voices tremble with indignation any proposed rise in the minimum wage.)

d. OK it is about the US and not Thailand, but nevertheless:

Standard and Poor rating agency which along with Moody’s generally considered co-conspirator in the world-wide financial collapse of 2008 for setting their ratings for the benefit of their clients and who went unpunished, have recently threatened to downgrade the US credit rating because of the stalemate in congress over the means to reduce the national debt. Who do you suppose is paying them for their action now?

By the way wouldn’t such a threat to the welfare of the country be classified as treason. If you recall only a short while ago [and perhaps even now] those who advocated a change in the country’s economic system were branded traitors.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am back in Paradise by the Sea for a few days packing up the apartment in preparation for my trip to the US. I regret having to give up the place, but economic considerations of maintaining an extra residence here during my stay in the US argue against keeping it. I am sure I can find a similar place upon my return.

English: Red shirt in Bangkok.

Red shirt in Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The little masseuse, a committed and determined red shirt supporter, spends much of her time watching the political debates on television. She attends all the Red Shirt rallies in Bangkok and some times attends the Yellow Shirt ones as well. When I ask her why she attends opposition events and listens so intently to their speeches on television, she says, “I want to understand exactly what they are saying so that I am better prepared.” I feel a little ashamed, I cannot stand watching Faux News.

I offered to take Hayden with me to spend a few days at the sea-shore and save her the burden of arranging for his care. Originally she agreed, then the day that we were to depart, SWAC claimed Hayden had a rash and needed to remain in Bangkok accessible to medical treatment in an emergency, so he could not come with me. The morning following my arrival here, I received a hysterical call from her demanding my return as soon as possible claiming she could not cope with the child and all the other things she had to do. Since I was going to return tomorrow anyway, I promised I would cut short my trip and return tomorrow to help relieve her anxiety.

I have not finalized my arrangements for my trip to the US yet, in part because I still do not know where I will be staying while I am in San Francisco attending to my medical issues.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed because this current issue of “This and that…” has become too damned long.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. The Mac Attack:

“Men act right only upon compulsion; but from the moment that they have the option and liberty to commit wrong with impunity, then they never fail to carry confusion and disorder everywhere. It is this that has caused it to be said that poverty and hunger make men industrious, and that the law makes men good; and if fortunate circumstances cause good to be done without constraint, the law may be dispensed with. But when such happy influence is lacking, then the law immediately becomes necessary.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the first 10 Books of Titus Livius, chap.111

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) :

“Competition in a 100 yard dash lasts about 10 seconds. Competition in the market lasts about the same length of time before someone “tries to game it.

c. Today’s chart (we all are one or at least L3 and 3 mostly):

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Without waiting for Pino’s answer, he slipped into one of those midget high-rises that were not more than twelve stories high, having been built around the same time as the chemical works and having just as quickly fallen into ruin, when not abandoned altogether. For someone approaching from the sea, Vigata rose up like a parody of Manhattan, on a reduced scale.”
Andrea Camilleri, The Shape of Water.

Camilieri’s Vigata is actually Porto Empedocle, a town on the southern shore of Sicily a few miles south-west of Agrigento [Montelusa in Camilleri’s novels.] When I lived in Sicily in the late 1960s, Porto Empedocle had not yet sprouted the high rises or industries referenced in the novels. At that time, the town was home to some of the best sea-food restaurants in the southern part of the island, however.

TODAY’S PHOTOS:

Contemporary Porto Empedocle :

Porto Empedocle

Porto Empedocle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 1, 2010

TODAY’S FACTOID:

A psychology professor at the University of Michigan calculated the happiness boost people get from sleeping an extra hour each night as equivalent to receiving a $60,000 annual raise.

I can see a book coming out of this, “How to Sleep Your Way to Wealth and Happiness.”

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

English: Andrea Camilleri Italian writer Itali...

English: Andrea Camilleri Italian writer Italiano: Andrea Camilleri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you fans of Andrea Camilleri, (and I know that some of you are) and his fictional detective Inspector Montalbano, I came across a web site offering a tour of places in Sicily mentioned in his novels.

The site also mentioned that in 2003. The town of Porto Empedocle in Sicily changed its official name to Porto Empedocle Vigata, after the name of the fictional town where his novels are placed.

This town and Agrigento (Montelusa in the novels) are close by to Canecatti, my Sicilian side of the family’s ancestral home. I lived there in the late sixties and early seventies. One of my favorite seafood restaurants was located on the wharf in Porto Empedocle. At that time the choices on the menu were usually limited to the daily catch or sea urchins. Not being fond of sea urchins I always chose the daily catch. Fortunately, the chef usually had several ways to prepare the fish to choose from. The meal. of course. was always accompanied by a pasta prepared al marinara or con vongele or some other sauce the chef may think up that day. One also always had fresh vegetables and fruit and all of it washed down with mineral water and strong Sicilian white or red wine. Naturally, the meal was finished off with espresso Sicilian style, so thick you could stand your spoon up in it, and some Sicilian pastries.

On the bluffs above the was the home of Luigi Pirandello now a museum and further on beyond the small green plain of Girgenti lay the hill on which Agrigento sits with greek temples, some almost entirely intact, standing out in a row atop a ridge below the town. In the evening the temples turn bright red in the light of the setting sun.

Tempio della Concorda (temple de de la Concord...

Tempio della Concorda (temple de de la Concorde) , Sicile, Italie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PAPA JOE’S TALES AND FABLES:

THE TALES OF BABA GIUFA

It was the Golden Age, after the pill and before the scourge of AIDs. Like all Golden Ages, people’s attention turned from mere survival, to self-indulgence, self-adsorption and self-aggrandizement or as some say Hedonism, Mysticism and Capitalism and still others simplified to Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.

Now at that time, the City of San Francisco was one of the centers of that age, often referred to as “new”, when society as a whole suffers from a mass attack of Alzheimer’s. In the City lived a man who wanted fame, fortune and sex, but believed it was his right to not have to work too hard for it. So, he decided to become a spiritual leader and called himself “Baba Giufa” because it sounded like something an eastern mystical religious guru who could become popular and attract a lot of followers would call himself.

Now Baba Giufa knew he needed to assemble his own followers to be successful in his new enterprise. So, one Saturday he put on a white busboy’s jacket, a pair of mostly white pants with a string belt, on his head he placed an old white Panama hat from which he had carefully cut off the brim and on his feet he wore a pair of pink rubber flip-flops. So attired, he went into Golden Gate Park at about 3PM. He sat himself down on the heavily traveled sidewalk along side the road that ran past the Japanese Tea Garden and the DeYoung Museumacross from the Band Shell.

He sat in what looked like the traditional Lotus position but really was not because he found the Lotus position too uncomfortable but as long as it looked a little like the Lotus position he thought that it would do for his purposes. He had no idea what to do with his hands, so he placed them palms up on his knees because he thought it looked like the picture of a Yogi master he saw somewhere. He closed his eyes and then he began to chant..

Instead of chanting, he actually was reciting the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Jabberwocky poems of Lewis Carroll which were the only two poems he had memorized while in high school. By reciting them in a very low and sing-song voice it seemed to sound a lot like chanting. Whenever he finished chanting one of the poems he would open his eyes as wide as he could until the iris seemed to float in a bloodshot white sea. He also stick his tongue out as far as he could. To most observers he appeared as though he was having a seizure of some sort. Then after a few moments he would retract his tongue, close his eyes and begin his chanting again.

Now after a while at this, a crowd began to gather around him, Some because they were upset that he was sitting on the well-travelled sidewalk forcing then to detour around him, others out of curiosity and still others attracted by his seeming otherworldliness.

Finally a skinny inquisitive young man with long flowing hair and a long scraggly beard that was in fashion at the time approached him and inquired, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Baba Giufa stopped his chanting, opened one eye, and stared at the young man for a while and then asked, “Do you have friends and family”?

“Why yes I do.” replied the startled you man.

“Then let me tell you this”, Baba Giufa responded in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “I am called Baba Giufa and I have found the secret to inner peace and happiness and if you want to share the secret with me then next Saturday at precisely 3 PM bring along your family and friends and I will return and instruct you all.”

With this, Baba Giufa rose from where he was sitting, passed through the crowd and went home.

Next Saturday at precisely 3 PM, Baba Giufa returned to the same place in Golden gate Park and found a crowd of about twenty people standing around. The skinny young man was siting on the sidewalk cross-legged directly to the right of where Baba had sat the previous Saturday. Baba took his seat and began his chanting and spasms. This continued until the inquisitive young man leaned in towards Baba and said in a loud voice, “Baba, last week you told me that if I gathered friends and family here at precisely 3PM on the following Saturday, you will instruct us all on the secret to inner peace and happiness”.

With that Baba Giufa rose from where he was sitting and looked over the crowd that had grown quite a bit larger since he had arrived.

Baba Giufa then asked the crowd, “How many here know what I am about to say? Raise your hands”.

No one raised their hands.

“Than why,” said Baba Giufa, “should I say anything to those who have no idea what I will speak about? I will return here next Saturday at precisely 3 PM and at that time I will instruct only those that really want to know, the secret of inner peace and happiness.”

With that Baba Giufa passed through the crowd, left the park and returned to his home.

On the next Saturday at precisely 3PM Baba Giufa returned to the park and resumed his seat and chanting. This time the crowd was much larger. Also, although the young man remained seated on his right, an attractive blond woman in a granny dress with flowers twisted into her hair sat on his left.

Again after a while the inquisitive young man leaned towards Baba Giufa and asked of him the same question.

Baba Giufa rose from his seat and observed the ever-growing crowd and shouted so that all could hear, “All those who know what I am going to speak about raise their hands.”

This time everyone had been instructed by the skinny inquisitive young man to raise their hands when asked that question and they all did so,

Baba Giufa look at them for a moment and then said, “Why should I speak at all to any of you when you all know what it is I am going to say? I will return here next Saturday at precisely 3 PM an instruct those who truly wish to know the secret of inner peace and happiness”.

With that he passed through the crowd, left the park and returned home.

On the third week, at precisely 3PM on Saturday Baba Giufa returned to the park. This time he carried a bunch of paper in one hand and a shoe box in the other. He found a crowd even larger than the last time. And, not only was the inquisitive man and the comely woman already seated on each side of his place on the sidewalk but several other seekers were assembled on the sidewalk as well. In addition, surrounding his place were several vases filled with multi colored flowers. He took his seat and handed to the inquisitive young man the bits of paper on which he had written his name, Baba Giufa, and his address and phone number. In front of himself he placed the shoe box in which he had cut a hole into the top and on which he had neatly lettered the word “Donations”. He began his chanting.

Eventually, the skinny man leaned towards Baba Giufa and asked the question again. This time Baba Giufa did not rise, instead he simply stared at the shoe box in front of him.

After a while everyone got the idea and several of the onlookers came forward and dropped money into the box. When Baba Giufa was satisfied that no further contributions were forthcoming, he stood up and addressed the crowd. “All of you here that know what I am going to say please raise your hand.”

About one half of the crowd, having been well-trained by now, raised their hands.

Then Baba Giufa said, “All those who do not know what I am about to say raise their hands.”

The otter half of the crowd did so.

“Well then,” said Baba Giufa, “I would appreciate it if those who know what I am going to say would tell those who do not. For those really interested in learning the way to inner peace and happiness I have given to my first disciple here, who shall hereafter be known as Babu Beardo, scraps of paper with my telephone number and address on it.”

And with that he picked up the shoe box made his way through the crowd and went home.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: “Don’t bother me with trifles. After 20 years, at last my father’s soul will be at peace. There will be blood tonight!.”

b. Today’s featured cognitive bias:

Interloper effectthe tendency to value third party consultation as objective, confirming, and without motive. Also consultation paradox, the conclusion that solutions proposed by existing personnel within an organization are less likely to receive support than from those recruited for that purpose.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It is never wise to drive an enemy to desperation.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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