Posts Tagged With: Baba Giufa

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 17 Pepe 0003 (November 4, 2914

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

This is my last night in Thailand on this trip. No matter how much I look forward to my next stop, I still feel a bit sad to leave.

Today I went to the health club in the morning as usual, but instead of swimming I spent my time swapping stories with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver. This time he told me about when he tried to enter the body bag business in Santo Domingo. He and a few of his buddies from the bar he frequented also tried to purchase a mobile crematorium to go with the body bags. They believed, since it was relatively quite expensive in The Dominican Republic to die and be buried, a full service mobile death service would be welcome. They were not able to get the business started for some reason. I guess you can say that it died.

Following this failure, he travelled to Australia where he bought a land-rover and decided to drive to the northern most point of the continent. There were no roads for the last six hundred miles back then, but he plodded ahead anyway. One night while he was camping he was attacked by giant cane frogs. After that he slept in his car.- – – Hey, I’m not making this stuff up. That was his story and I’m sure he’ll stick by it.
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This evening after dinner I went to the pharmacy and bought the various medicines I thought I would need for the rest of my trip. I decided to take my last walk through that cesspool of corruption and model of capitalist market driven society that is Soi Nana. For some reason as I walked along, Christmas carols kept popping into my head and I began humming “O holy Night.” The ladies of the holy night graciously stepped aside and smiled as the old man with the funny hat, a protruding belly, brightly colored shirt and carrying a cudgel as a walking stick strode by singing Christmas carols.
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Me on Soi Nana
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On my last day, on my way to the barbershop, I walked through the Arab-India-Africa section of BKK with its sandal shops and restaurants. It reminded me how much more attractive and clean it was than most other parts of the city. The restaurants are better also.
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And then, that evening, off to the airport.
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

Sometimes the lack of drama is welcome. The flight from Bkk to Rome was mostly uneventful, except for  the fact that I thought I was in for a long six-hour layover in Singapore. At least that airport provide travelers with a pool, sleeping cubicles and massage machines to tide them over. I was looking forward for a swim while whiling away my time between flights — at least before they told me at the check-in in BKK that I read my ticket wrong, I was going to Shanghai instead. So rather than enjoying the capitalist excess of Singapore airport, I experienced the socialist realism of Shanghai for six long hours.
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Shanghai Airport
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Each time I return to Rome in is with a little sadness. There are a few cities I call home — New York because I grew up there, San Francisco because I’ve lived there longer than in any other place and of course Bangkok because I live there now for some of the year and have done so for five years. There is also Barcelona and Istanbul, cities I love but have never lived in. Then there is Rome where I lived for about three years and to which I have returned innumerable times. If it were not so expensive, I very well might be living here now.

My lodging during this trip is in something I found in Air BNB. It is located less than a block off of the Via Veneto in central Rome. It is hostel-like usually housing religious groups of very modest means making pilgrimages to the city. It feels a little like a cult operation although the woman who runs it is very nice. It is quire basic. My bed is only a slight upgrade from a cot.

On my first day here I took my brother-in-law George on a tour of some of the well known tourist spots and to some places very few tourists visit. In the evening we along with my sister Maryann had dinner near Piazza Navona. Here are some photographs of the first day.

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George by the Colosseum
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George in the Forum contemplating classical antiquities.
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The next morning at breakfast, Gregorian Chant filled the air from somewhere in the building. I sat there listening and thought of the liturgical reform that I was so eager to promote in 1960 and so equivalent about the results a few years later. I feel like a monk, living in a plain cell, sleeping on a cot, listening to Gregorian Chant and worrying about liturgical reforms. Perhaps I should consider that option for the next phase of my life.

After breakfast I joined my Maryanne and George for the days stroll around the eternal city.
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Maryann and George at Cafe Greco

We began with coffee at Cafe Greco, then off to the Keats-Shelly museum located in the rooms overlooking the Spanish steps where John Keats died of tuberculosis. I do not consider my trip to Rome complete without visiting here.
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Maryann standing in front of the Spanish Steps and the building housing the Keates-Shelly Museum

Then up the Spanish Steps and past my old law office into the Borghese Gardens to visit the Borghese Museum, one of the worlds great museums with their collection of paintings Caravaggio (a thug and murderer but a great artist) and the Bernini sculptures (mostly statues commissioned by various princes of the Church depicting rapes and attempted rapes by sundry gods) and Canova (who was incapable of rape). The museum was sold out so we walked to the church displaying Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (psychosomatic rape). It was closed, so we decided to eat lunch. We found a great local restaurant a few blocks away from the tourist areas. After lunch we visited the ruins Baths of Diocletian where, as his last commission, Michelangelo designed a spectacular church. Located in this church is one of the wonders of the age, the Great Sundial. It was used to calculate the accuracy of the Gregorian Calendar prior to its introduction into use.

Then, off to visit Borromini’s great architectural triumph, the church of San Carlo, after which, to Berninini’s Saint Andrea followed by the Doria Pamphili palazzo with its huge collection of paintings. Finally we visited the Church of St Ignatius, the mother church of the Jesuits with its magnificent trompe l’oeil frescos. We finished off the day with drinks, overlooking the city at night from the rooftop terrace of the Intercontinental Hotel.

The next morning I discovered a few other guests had checked into the place I was staying at. They were middle-aged men with grey hair and chalky white faces. I guessed they must be priests, because only those who take permanent vows of chastity and spend their lives in darkened churches could have skin so pallid.

C. VOYAGE TO ROCCANTICA IN SABINA

Roccantica is a small town in Sabina about an hours drive from Rome. It is the original home of my paternal grandmother. My grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters. Some emigrated to the US others to Australia and South America and some stayed in or near Roccantica. The town is noted for, in the tenth century, sheltering Pope Nicholas II, who, having been chased from Rome by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto, took refuge in a tiny tower in the town where he was defended by the men of the town, all thirteen of them, during a two-year siege until it was lifted by Robert Guiscard’s arrival with his troops. For this act of singular heroism the Pope awarded the people perpetual exemption from taxes. The citizens of the town enjoyed this benefit for 900 years, until in was revoked after the unification of Italy during the Risorgimento.
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Roccantica

One of the country’s more prominent medieval reenactments is held once a year in the town.

The town is also noted for a remarkable work of folk art efforts by the local priest for the glory of God. In addition to his fame as a folk artist this priest, who because of his short stature was referred to as the dwarf priest, was in love with my grandmother and reputed to have had an affair with her. He dedicated his life’s work to her. I am convinced that he also was insane.
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Examples of the priestly folk art that dominates the town heights around the restored church.

It addition to that bit of notoriety, one branch of the family became wealthier than the other citizens of the town when one of them, a priest, became the private secretary to Pope Pius XII. Due to that bit of good fortune, that branch of the family inherited two of the town’s churches. The dwarf priest administered the local parish church and the state I believe owns the one he restored and adorned with his brand of folk art. Because of the peculiarities of Italian tax law the family keeps their two churches closed and locked so that the tax men will not learn of the artistic treasures within. As a result they remain living in genteel poverty despite their potential wealth.
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Maryann and George in front of the house in which my grandmother was born.

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A group of photographs including lunch in one of my favorite restaurants in all of Italy located in the town and a snapshot of Mary and I with some of the remaining relatives assembled in the house where my grandmother and all dozen siblings were born.
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Via San Giuseppe, the street on which I used to live
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The street by the apartment I lived in for about a year.

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The view from that apartment.

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Looking down on Roccantica

On the way back to Rome we stopped at the nearest town to Roccantica, Casperia. My son Jason grew up here.
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The walls of Casperia

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The municipal plaza in Casperia where Jason and I used to stay at times.

And so on to Sicily———

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A responsible government is one in which the real disposition of power in the structure is the same as it is in people’s minds or as it is in law (which is an objectification of how it is subjectively in people’s minds). In such a case, when people act on the basis of the picture they have of the situation, they will be acting on the basis of the real distribution of power because the two are about the same. Thus, there can be no sudden rude awakening from the fact that the situation is, in fact, different from what it is reputed to be.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

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

1. Food exports

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

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

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

2. Tourist murder solved?

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

And yes, not even the Thais believe it.

3. Hell, a Family Resort.

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

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

4. Eye of the beholder.

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

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

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

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

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 33 Pops 0001 (September 17, 2012)

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” 

Frederic Bastiat

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

After spending the night at my sister’s house in Berkley, we visited my mom and took her out for lunch in North Beach. This was the first time, despite her 94 years, that she appeared truly old, depressed and lonely.

The next two days I visited with my son and his family. I got my quarterly dose of reality TV. This time I watched something about living in Alaska. I got to see men (almost always men) trapping and killing animals; in this case beavers and a lynx. We got to see the lynx with its foot caught in a trap struggle to break free. After they dispatched the creature we were entertained by the hunters skinning and eating it. I fully understand the need of those living in remote areas to hunt and trap game, but how broadcasting the vicarious experience to overweight, indolent couch potatoes (like me) can be considered entertainment escapes me.

On the next day, I got to watch 22 overgrown men (always men) beat up on each other in an effort to push the inflated swine skin over an arbitrary chalk drawn line. Unlike the prior evening, I considered this great entertainment. As I am sure most of you already know the SF 49rs defeated the Green Bay Packers. Go Niners!

After the game I spent the rest of the afternoon in the park with Amanda my granddaughter.

Early Monday morning, I returned to Sacramento. While riding the J-Church to the train station, I contemplated my contribution to the transformation of the happy-go-lucky child that was my son into an angry and unhappy adult. So there I was that morning, just another old man sitting on the trolley before sunrise with tears in his eyes. Less so because of what has been and the pain it has caused but because we know that tomorrow will come and the tears if not forgotten will be added to the increasingly heavy burden of unresolved guilt.

The next day I bought a copy of the new novel about the Kennedy assassination by that Shakespeare of digression, Steven King. Never has a writer written so much so well about things that have nothing to do with the plot than King. He was far less verbose as a stoned alcoholic. Beware of writers in AA.

On the other hand Sheldon Siegel, a much less tiresome author has a new book out, The Terrorist Within. I look forward to reading it. As far as I know Sheldon is not in AA.

I spent the week back in Sacramento mostly as a chauffeur. When not driving various people around, I spent time preparing the responses to discovery requests in the custody litigation and finalizing the new post for the Smart&Connected blog.

At the end of the week my sister told me that she had met with a company that, on behalf of international organizations like The World Bank and various large foundations, advises and assists non-profits on social media issues. One of the managers knew about the Coastal Conservancy and had a very favorable opinion of it. Since I will be leaving California in about two weeks, I decided to spend the weekend following up on this. It will also give me an opportunity to visit with my family and Peter one last time before I depart.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Conservatives are right, Liberals control the media and everything else.

A study reported in Psychology Today, on which I commentated a few posts back, pointed out that in general conservatives are less intelligent than Liberals. It goes on to state:

Conservatives often complain that liberals control the media or the show business or the academia or some other social institutions. The Hypothesis explains why conservatives are correct in their complaints. Liberals do control the media, or the show business, or the academia, among other institutions, because, apart from a few areas in life (such as business) where countervailing circumstances may prevail, liberals control all institutions. They control the institutions because liberals are on average more intelligent than conservatives and thus they are more likely to attain the highest status in any area of (evolutionarily novel) modern life.

(OMG, the Right is…well, right. Life is a Left-wing conspiracy.)

2. “We will never have the élite, smart people on our side.”
Rick Santorum

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

A few posts ago I wrote about the coming election as perhaps the last hurrah for the white male ascendency in American politics. Today in an article by Gary Younge quoted in Daily Kos, he confirms the situation (Note the quote by a Republican strategist that I underlined):

“This could be the final hurrah for what became known as Nixon’s southern strategy in what is shaping up to be the most racially polarized election ever. Black support for the Republican party literally cannot get any lower. A recent Wall Street Journal poll had 0% of African-Americans saying they intend to vote for Romney. At 32%, support among Latinos is higher but still remains pathetically low given what Republicans need to win (40%) and what they have had in the past — in 2004 George W. Bush won 44%. As a result, the party of Lincoln is increasingly dependent on just one section of the electorate — white people. To win, Romney needs 61% of the white vote from a white turnout of 74%. That’s a lot. In 2008, John McCain got 55% from the same turnout. “This is the last time anyone will try to do this,” one Republican strategist told the National Journal. And Republican consultant Ana Navarro told the Los Angeles Times: “Where his numbers are right now, we should be pressing the panic button.” […]”

(In my last post I quoted the following:

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Obama’s support among white males without college degree fell to 29%, which is the lowest of any Democrat in recent history.”

I feel sad for these men; deluded by their history of ascendency over women of their class and other minorities, lied to by their political and religious leaders and misused by their employers, they have been misled to believe their ever so slight social standing was theirs by right and not earned by effort.)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“Obama ran on ‘change’ in 2008, but Mitt Romney represents a far more real and seismic shift in the American landscape. Romney is the frontman and apostle of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured while American communities fall apart. The entire purpose of the business model that Romney helped pioneer is to move money into the archipelago from the places outside it, using massive amounts of taxpayer-subsidized debt to enrich a handful of billionaires. It’s a vision of society that’s crazy, vicious and almost unbelievably selfish, yet it’s running for president, and it has a chance of winning.”
— Matt Taibbi, Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, Rolling Stone, August 29, 2012.

(Taibbi is a political polemicist who writes well. Although his basic facts are often correct, sometimes his rhetoric can be misleading. Romney may very well be considered a child of the conflict between manufacturers of transactions and manufacturers of products he was never a “pioneer.” The conflict, such as it is, has been going on for one hundred years or more.

The first break between the manufacturers of transactions, “transactionists” (In a broader context sometimes included among those referred to in classical economic literature as “rentiers”) and manufacturers of products occurred in the 1920s as they, the transactionists sought to obtain full partnership and ultimately dominate political and economic decision-making of society for their benefit. It brought on the Great Depression. Due to the New Deal’s emphasis on manufacturing, production and product development, the transactionists were reduced again to merely wealthy and fiscally conservative transaction managers for industrialists.

By the late 1970s and early 1980s they emerged again, but this time even the manufacturers of products were their enemies as they drove traditional manufacturing beyond our shores and persuaded the gullible and unwary that wealth accumulation does not require any products other than the transactions themselves.

Mitt was little more than a bench warmer on a very politically successful team.)

D. BOKONONISM – CALYPSOS:

The Fourteenth Calypso
When I was young
I was so gay and mean,
And I drank and chased the girls
Just like young St. Augustine.
Saint Augustine,
He got to be a saint.
So, if I get to be one, also,
Please. Mama, don’t you faint.

The Fifty-third Calypso
Oh, a sleeping drunkard
Up in Central Park,
And a lion-hunter
In the jungle dark,
And a Chinese dentist,
And a British queen–
All fit together
In the same machine.
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice–
So many different people
In the same device.

The Hundred-and-nineteenth Calypso
“Where’s my good old gang done gone?”
I heard a man say.
I whispered in that sad man’s ear,
“Your gang’s done gone away.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
TODAY’S CHART:
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(While this chart may contain interesting information, it is not very helpful. The presidential election, because of the electoral college system will be decided by the nature of the turnout primarily in Ohio. Without Ohio (and perhaps Florida) Romney probably cannot win . Obama on the other hand has a number of ways to put together 270 electoral votes required to prevail.

Control of Congress will depend more upon the number of women and minorities living in so-called competitive districts. If the district (or State) lacks minority voters in the percentages described the Republican will in most cases prevail.

Note: except for perhaps Florida the turnout percentage differences between men and women will remain constant. However the numbers of minorities varies greatly from district to district and state to state.)

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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Categories: July through September 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Shadow 0003 (July 1, 2014)

“Eschew mildew.”
Ruth Galanter’s poetically sage advice for me to follow during the monsoons.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

1. Escape from Bangkok:

Actually, leaving BKK was quite easy. The taxi arrived at my apt. promptly at 3am as promised and the driver only charged me a little more than normal for his trouble. It saddened me to leave BKK. Despite its gloomy skies, curfews, air pollution, broken sidewalks and fetid canals, it is, after all, my home now. I am a city boy. There have been four cities that I have called home, New York, Rome, San Francisco and now Bangkok. As cities go those are as good as any and better than most.

The problems started when I got to the airport. My retirement visa was due to expire a few days after my arrival. Unknown to me, I did not receive the normal 30 day visa upon entry. My entry visa expired on the same day as my retirement visa, so I had to pay a $400 dollar fine for overextending my stay.

On my flight from BKK to Seattle two people reading the Bible sat next to me. Now I have no problem with anyone reading anything and I am not overly superstitious, but given my concerns with Delta Airlines, I’ll admit to some anxiety.

In Seattle, as I went through customs, they discovered several packages of dried soup in my luggage. The inspector, a middle aged white man, asked me if I spoke english. I do not think he could have thought I was Thai so I assume he thought I was Mexican. I answered in the positive. Then he went all cop on me tearing apart my luggage and throwing LM’s knit caps all over the counter and on the floor. Upon locating the packages, he angrily shouted at me, “These packages contain meat projects. Why did you not indicate that you were carrying meat products?” I responded that I did not realize they did and in any event thought it applied only to fresh meat and products made mostly of meat. I shrugged. “Don’t get smart with me,” he screamed. “I could charge you a $1000 fine and have you arrested. You have done this before you know.” I thought silence at that moment was my best approach. He then strangely confiscated only two of the about 25 contaminated packages I had. He turned suddenly, said over his shoulder “I’m going to report you” and walked over to a table with a computer and sat down leaving me standing there amid the rubble of the contents of my luggage. He ignored me and typed away. I stood there. Finally one of the other agents motioned to me to pack up my things and leave, which I did.

Eventually I made it back to El Dorado Hills about 30 hours after I left my apt. in BKK. I took a shower and went right to sleep and did not wake up for almost 20 hours.

2. Morning in El Dorado Hills:

When I woke up, I walked the dogs. All trace of green has disappeared from the hills except for the leaves on the Valley Oaks. The houses along the street supposedly have drought resistant landscaping. Grass, only used along the borders, has started turning brown. When I looked closer at the landscaping, I saw that much of the ground cover and low bushes were dead or dying. Spider webs have begun covering them. It’s a bit creepy. So this is how it ends, neither in ice or fire nor with a bang or a whimper but desiccated and covered in cobwebs.

3. Exercise or bust:

I lost about twelve pounds during my stay in Thailand. Since returning I already feel as though I am gaining it back. Snacking is a way of life in the US.

I was given a two week trial membership in the El Dorado Hills upscale health club. Not as upscale as the country club, but more upscale than my existing proletarian health club. The new club has a pool. I now swim there in the morning and try to go to my old club in the afternoon. After that, I usually go to the man cave across the parking lot from my old health club for a beer and a cigar while I watch the world cup on a giant TV screen. The man cave is dark, dingy and comfortable with large overstuffed chairs and ottomans. The guys at the man cave are mostly overweight, tattooed and friendly. I’ve got the overweight part covered. Tattoos are out for me and friendly is just not my thing at this age – if it ever was.
IMG_20140628_145809_507
Outside the man cave.

I feel uncomfortable at the new health club. Perhaps it’s the lack of tattoos. Also, people seem less inclined to talk or joke with one another there. In fact, I do not recall seeing anyone smiling.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Many years ago when I was involved in coastal protection matters in California, I went for a walk through Point Reyes with Bill Yeates who was at that time, I believe,a Graduate Legal Assistant working with me. As we walked along, I was amazed at how Bill could predict what birds we would see in each bush and what a bird would look like from just hearing the sound it makes flapping its wings. Like any person lacking knowledge, I considered his abilities almost magical. On the other hand as a confirmed cynic, I suspected he was bullshitting me.

Sometime after that walk, Bill jokingly (or not) mentioned to several people that I could not be a real environmentalist because I knew little about the natural environment.

That is not completely true. As a city boy I know a lot about urban fauna. For example, I know a lot about rats, pigeons and cockroaches. I can tell the difference between a giant Norwegian Roof Rat and an ordinary brown or black rat by the sounds it makes as it scrabbles through the walls at night.

I know that, wherever old people sit on benches, pigeons will soon congregate. When entering a room, I can tell instantly under which appliance or piece of furniture a cockroach is hiding.

I do not understand why there are no groups or organizations dedicated to the protection of these urban species. I suggest that a Society for the Preservation of Urban Vermin (SPUV) be created to defend our urban friends from the millenia of bad press they have received and to shield them from wanton slaughter and cruelty to which they have been subject.

Why, for example, do we allow the existence of individuals and organizations whose sole purpose is to be paid to come on to your property and kill rats? Some even publicize that they eschew environmentally unsound killing techniques (poisons and gas). Instead these defenders of the environment smear peanut butter on rat traps that snap the necks of the unwary, if greedy, rat. Now I realize that, in the case of rats, catch and release poses some problems. For example, what would be an appropriate place to release these critters – your neighbors house?

Now pigeons are unique. They only exist as adults. Has anyone ever seen a baby pigeon walking around a city? I believe they reproduce like amoebas. They simply split down the middle when they need to create another pigeon. Have you ever noticed, for example, should a hawk decimate a flock of pigeons over say a particular town square, the next morning there appears to be exactly the same number of pigeons flying about?

Humans consider the juvenile of almost every species on earth cute. Even baby sharks when emerging from their mothers womb exude cuteness. Not cockroaches. Does anyone believe smaller cockroaches are cuter? Would you want to cuddle one?

For these reasons and more, I believe our urban friends need protection. Remember, when we all retreat again into deep dark caves because we have burnt the world to a crisp, who will accompany us? Why our friends the rat, pigeon and cockroach will. And when the earth has cooled and we leave again, only we and our friends together will greet that world. A world bereft of all living things – except gorse, broom and tumbleweeds. Gorse, broom and tumbleweeds survive because they are not of this universe and can never die.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

1. Lower student debt:
BN-CU892_paydeb_G_20140515160642
Having our nation’s youth begin their economic lives in debt does not seem like a good idea to me.

2. Eliminate Corporate Welfare Queens:
10373774_701093126625121_6893193739189791533_n

Why should taxpayers subsidize businesses that ought to compete? Perhaps there may be a reason in the case of introducing an important new technology, but subsidizing an almost 100 year old mature technology seems unreasonable.

B. Tales of Nasruddin:

The king once summoned Nasruddin to court.

“Tell me,” said the king, “you are a mystic, philosopher, a man of unconventional understandings. I have become interested in the issue of value. It’s an interesting philosophical question. How does one establish the true worth of a person or an object? Take me for example. If I were to ask you to estimate my value, what would you say?”

“Oh,” Nasruddin said, “I’d say about two hundred dinars.”

The emperor was flabbergasted. “What?! But this belt I’m wearing is worth two hundred dinars.”

“I know,” said Nasruddin. “Actually, I was taking the value of the belt into consideration.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

Erick Erickson, Conservative opinion leader and blogger in Redstate.

“I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes. That’s not much of a platform.

Trenz Pruca, spokesperson for himself and an unread, occasional blogger.

“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?”

TODAY’S CHART:
1999EastSt-1
Why does it appear muslims choose to congregate in the Republican heartland?

Categories: July through September 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.
IMG_20141121_104742_552
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.
IMG_20140614_193133_894
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. December 15, 2010

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2004, June. Yiddish schlimazel was one of the ten non-English words that were voted hardest to translate by a British translation company.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. Sign emblazoned on the front of an Indian made to order tailor shop on the main road between Paradise by the Sea and the Outskirts of Hell:

“ONCE TRIED, NEVER TRUSTED.”

2. Jomtien Beach Paradise Condominium pool rule # 5:

“MONTHLY VISITED; SKIN DISEASE NOT ALLOWED”

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I leave today. I do not know when I will get a chance to write again, but if I do not get an opportunity before I return, please have Happy Holidays.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Attached is Chapter 2. It is primarily back story and semi-autobiographical (the bane of inexperienced writers like me. I assume one grows out of it) It most likely will be dropped or redistributed in any final version, if there ever is a final version.

RED STAR

Chapter 2

He arrived at SFO at 11:30 in the morning. If he rushed he could check in at the posh Fairmont Hotel on the crest of Nob Hill in San Francisco, shower, shave get a bite to eat from room service and walk the one block from the Hotel to the Cathedral where the service was to begin at one o’clock.

During the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, the thought of Sam’s death prompted him to drift into musing about his own life.

Vincent Joseph Biondi was the eldest son of Marsha Cohen Biondi and James (Jack) Biondi. Vince as he was called was named in the Sicilian tradition after his paternal grandfather Vincent Biondi who with his new wife Elisa during the early part of the twentieth century left the little mountain top Sicilian town of Muselmeli whet they lived and whose only claim to fame was that it was the home and hideout of long time mafia chieftain Salvatore Rinna and emigrated along with many of their neighbors to the United States.

Vincent and Elisa settled in the working class Italian neighborhood in Yonkers New York called Nanny Goat Hill. Vincent eventually got a job in downtown Manhattan as a cutter in the fur trade. They had two daughters Regina and Seraphina neither of whom ever married but they were inseparable and happily lived together their entire lives.

James the middle son called Jack because his name was Giacomo in Italian, was born in 1925 in their rented house on the slopes of Nanny Goat Hill. After a stint in the Army, at the end of World War II , Jack returned to the Yonkers and joined his father’s trade. There he met his wife to be, Marsha.

The New York fur trade at that time was mostly run by Eastern European Jewish families with italian and jewish working class laborers doing the cutting and sewing of the fur coats that would then adorn the backs of the wealthy New Yorkers who could afford such things.

Marsha was a refugee who along with her aunt Estelle were the only members of their family to escape the Holocaust in Poland.

She worked for the same company that he did. They worked together in a large room, matching thin strips of fur, usually mink, to one another, tacking them to large plywood boards containing the pattern for the garment and finally stitching the narrow pieces of fur together to make the fur coat. The job was tedious and required great skill in matching and sewing the pieces together.

They married, in spite of the strong objections of Jack, Elisa and Estelle. They settled in Yonkers in a duplex on the Hill near Jack’s parents and Estelle came to live with them. Two years after Vinnie was born Marsha gave birth to a baby girl who they named Estelle. Jimmy the youngest was born three years later and Marsha declared that was rough children for her.

In the neighborhood, because his mother was Jewish, Vinnie was often called neighborhood the older boys in the “Kike”. His parents wanting Vinnie to have a good education struggled to send Vinnie to private and, parochial schools or when they just could not afford it, to public schools in good neighborhoods where they lied about their address to get him in. In these schools, not knowing his mother was jewish and often bereft of many other italian students, Vince was at times referred to by the other students as “Guinea” and by one teacher as the little WOP. Vinnie had a lot of fights during this time in both his neighborhood and his various schoolyards. At times he seemed to get into a fight or two almost every day. He lost most of them. That is probably where he developed his pugnacious nature and his heightened sense of insult.

Anyway after a checkered academic career through high school and a local Jesuit run university he drifted into law school, a fitting career given his Jewish and Sicilian genetic makeup except Sicilians in Italy and here in America preferred government service to the private practice of law while their Jewish brethren appeared more attracted to private practice. Vinnie, true to his genetic background bounced around between government jobs and private practice.

After the breakup of his first marriage Vinnie, as he usually did when things got bad, decided to pull up stakes and get away from it all. So he migrated to San Francisco California where due to a number of unforeseen events he, to his surprise, ended up as a partner with the esteemed McKenzie Reed Law Firm.

Vinnie never considered himself a particularly good lawyer. What attracted the Firm to Vinnie was not his legal acumen but his knowledge and experience with and in politics. Not the glad handing, back slapping and stabbing kind but the back room deals and payoffs that real politics was all about. Vinnie excelled in negotiating and revising bits of pending legislation so that the firms clients could maintain or preferably increase their income and wealth at the expense of the public.

It was also a plus that Vinnie was also a staunch member of the Democratic Party in an otherwise Republican firm. While the firm had many contacts within the Republican party, they needed entrée to the Democrats on behalf of their clients whenever that party was in power in the state or federal government. Vinnie fit the bill.

Vinnie mostly hated his clients as well as many of his partners. But because he was quite vocal in firm meetings about injustices he perceived being foisted on the employees, paralegals, associates and junior partners, as impervious to personal approbation, the other partners elected him to the management committee, primarily to shut him up he figured.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

1. From the Princess Bride:

Fezzik: “You never said anything about killing anyone.”
Vizzini: “I’ve hired you to help me start a war. It’s an prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition.”

2. The Wisdom of Baba Giufa:

Seeker: “Baba Giufa, what is the nature of God?”

Baba Giufa: “Kingfish.”

Seeker: “Kingfish! What does that mean?”

Baba Giufa: “Do you agree that in God is contained the ideal of all things?”

Seeker: “Yes, I think so.”

Baba Giufa: “And do you not also agree that when you look around you in the world most of what we consider success has been obtained by fraud and deceit?”

Seeker: “Well yes, I guess I mostly agree with that too.”

Baba Giufa: “Then you must also agree that, Kingfish is God.”

3. Today’s Cognitive Bias

Information bias – the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A father shall immediately put to death a son recently born, who is a monster, or has a form different from that of members of the human race.”
Roman law of the Twelve Tables (Table IV, Law III)

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 13, 2010

English: The thirteen retired Crayola crayon c...

English: The thirteen retired Crayola crayon colors: Lemon Yellow, Violet Blue, Blue Gray, Orange Red, Maize, Raw Umber, Orange Yellow, Green Blue, Blizzard Blue, Magic Mint, Mulberry, Teal Blue, & Thistle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DAILY FACTOID:

1990: Eight Crayola crayon colors– Maize, Raw Umber, Lemon Yellow, Blue G ray, Orange Yellow, Orange Red, Green Blue and Violet Blue– are retired into the Crayola Hall of Fame in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Emerson Moser, then Crayola’s most senior crayon moulder, also retired after 37 years. After moulding approximately 1.4 billion crayons, he revealed that he is actually color blind.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

Today’s Bangkok Post reports that the American DEA has posted notices in Thailand containing the face of the ethnic Wai tribe’s leader, and reputed drug lord, Wei Hsueh-Kan emblazoned on beer holders used to serve customers so that they can contemplate the $2 million reward while flirting with the bar girls.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

This morning I learned that the english language “Golden Oldies” radio station that I enjoy listening to while I drink my morning café latte is indeed broadcast from Thailand, in fact just down the road from here in the Outskirts of Hell.

As the date for my departure to the US becomes closer, I become more anxious. Why is that? I become older too. Are they related?

Last night I went out to buy presents for people I plan to see during my trip. Haggling made me tired so I gave up, ate a pizza and went home to bed.

Recently, while I was walking to the beach for my morning stroll, I met the old man from Texas with the walker. After exchanging pleasantries, he mentioned that he felt that things are going bad in the US with unemployment and Wikileaks and the like, but as a result of the election he hoped it would get better and there would be lower taxes and more jobs. “I do not like that socialism,” he opined. “It’s a lot like Communism.” He is on Social Security, medicare and disability and receives a veteran’s pension.

For those who wonder about these things, Petey the Wonder Dog still mans his post guarding the sand against the tide.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

A few months back I promised to send to you drafts of a potential mystery novel I have been playing around with. Here is the very rough draft of chapter one. The working title is “Red Star.” Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.

RED STAR

Chapter one:

“He was shot in the head. Please Vince come to the funeral. I think there is something we need to discuss.”

As he flew back to the US and to San Francisco to attend the funeral, he kept replaying in his mind yesterday’s telephone conversation with David Kitchen.

Sam Coign the mercurial Chairman of the law firm of McKenzie Reed had been found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head. The death occurred at his home in Woodside, a posh suburb of San Francisco where many of the captains of the Bay Area’s high Tech industry choose to live along with their parasites, the lawyers, CPAs and investment advisors who lived off of the fruits of their industry. He was found by his wife lying on the floor of his home office at the back of the house overlooking Sam’s beloved flower garden. A handgun was found near by. The police initially suspect suicide.

Kitchen explained all of this to him over his cell phone while Vinnie sat by the pool that serviced his condominium in Jomtien Beach Thailand where he had retreated to after taking early retirement from McKenzie Reed in a fit of piqué.

Kitchen served with him on the Firm’s so-called management committee. It was so-called because its members spent more time arguing than managing. Usually the arguments were between him and other four. He was almost always out voted. As a result Sam ran things as he saw fit. One day after several hours of bitter argument and shouting back and forth, he asked for and received early retirement. This was last year and he was 54 at the time.

He was tired of practicing law and tired of his life. All he wanted to do was go off somewhere and do nothing. But that would cost money, his divorce settlement and a series of disastrous investments left Vinnie with very little of it.

Nevertheless, having been long divorced, his children from his second marriage grown and hating the practice of law, he left to spend retirement with a restricted income in a low-cost jurisdiction. He chose Thailand for its tropical climate, relatively low-cost of living and frankly for its liberal view of sex.

When he asked if anyone had any idea about why Sam would do something like this Kitchen cryptically answered that he would rather not discuss it over the phone.

This did not disturb Vince at the time but coupled with Kitchen’s statement about the wish of the other members of the firm to speak with him about his, “arrangement,” it made much of the 21 hour trip across the Pacific Ocean a time of considerable anxiety.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

1. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

[Buttercup kisses the senile King]
The King:What was that for?”
Buttercup: “Because you have always been so kind to me, and I won’t be seeing you again since I’m killing myself once we reach the honeymoon suite.” 
“The King: “Won’t that be nice…. She kissed me.”

2. Teachings of Baba Giufa:

Seeker: “Baba Giufa, tell me, how is one to know the truth?”

Baba Giufa: “If you do not have enough information to know the truth of a statement (and you never do), you should assume it is a lie and seek for a motivation. And if you find one, no matter how far-fetched, then you are better off assuming it is more true than the original statement.”

3. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Endowment effect – “the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it”.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A state increases by being the asylum for the persons that are expelled and dispersed by other states.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 8, 2010

Looking down Filbert Street in North Beach, Sa...

Looking down Filbert Street in North Beach, San Francisco. Saints Peter and Paul Church towers over the neighborhood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PAPA JOE’S TALES AND FABLES:

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BABA GIUFA

Baba Giufa and the Irritating Young Man.

On day Baba Giufa and two of his female Dharmanoids were sitting at a sidewalk café in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Baba Giufa had become successful enough that he had replaced his bus-boys jacket with a resplendent white designer blazer. His pants were no longer string tied and off-white in color, but bright white slacks from the same designer. He had abandoned the pink flip-flops for the latest fashionable pair of trainers and although on his head he still wore a Panama hat with its black band and its brim cut off, it was no longer the old beat up one that he had previously sported.

His two Dharmanoids were dressed in scarlet gospel singer robes. He originally had them dress in white robes but when the laundry bill got too high for his tastes, he changed the color to that of the local football team of which he was an ardent fan. He called his female Dharmanoids his Befanas because they brought him presents.

Now it came to pass that on this day a group of about three young men passed by and seeing them sitting there drinking their espresso began to laugh and point at them. The leader of that particular group being, as leaders often are, also the most aggressive, came up to the table where Baba Giufa and his Dharmanoids sat.

“You three look ridiculous”, he shouted loud enough so that his friends could hear.

Baba Giufa ignored him.

“What’s your name weirdo,” the youth challenged?

Baba Giufa now looked directly into the young man’s eyes and after a moment or two responded calmly, “They call me Baba Giufa.”

“Bullshit,” cried the young man. ” Whats your real name?”

“My real name is unpronounceable,” said Baba Giufa in a soft voice.

“More bullshit, “ said the young man becoming redder in the face. “Everything is pronounceable, asshole.”

“So you think you can pronounce my real name then?” asked Baba Giufa.

“Ha, of course,” said the boy.

“I will tell you what” said Baba Giufa, “If you can pronounce my name, I will buy you and your friends each an espresso, and if you cannot then you and your mates will move along and leave us alone. Does that seem fair?”

“Stupid, but sure, ok” he responded turning and grinning at his friends, “Go ahead.”

And with this agreement in place Baba Giufa leaned forward slightly and simply stared even more intently into the boy’s face.

Finally after a while the young man became uncomfortable and said “Well? Say Something.”

To which Baba Giufa responded, “Ah, so you admit you cannot pronounce my real name?”

“What?” the young man exploded, “You haven’t said anything yet.”

“And that’,” responded Baba Giufa, “is why I am called Baba Giufa.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

The Princess Bride (film)

The Princess Bride (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a. Wisdom of the Princess Bride:

Westley: “Hear this now: I will always come for you.”
Buttercup: “But how can you be sure?”
Westley: “This is true love – you think this happens every day?”

b. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Trait ascription bias – the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as much more predictable.

c. From God’s mouth to your ears:

“He that is wounded in the stones or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”Deuteronomy 23.1.

Say what? So it is God that we must blame for man’s peculiar preoccupation. If we are so afflicted He says we cannot go to church. I always thought it had to do with something else. But God never liked that either.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Expenditures engender exactions, and exactions produce complaints.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesmen.

BONUS QUOTE:

“God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re fucked.”
-Braveheart

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

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

In 1950, there were 83 cities with populations exceeding one million; by 2007, this number had risen to 468.

Hmmm…. that is more than a five-fold rise. During this same period the total number of people on the earth only tripled. If things keep going at this rate, we will soon have more cities of over one million than we have people.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

During my weekly massage, my masseuse likes to watch the Thai soap operas on television while she administers the various pains and pleasures of her therapy.

Now, as I am sure we all know, soaps are a window into the dark, twisted soul of a society, so it is with Thai soap operas.

To me they all appear to tell the same stories and contain the same characters. There is the beautiful innocent heroine and the equally beautiful though not so innocent young woman. You can usually tell them apart by their eyebrows. The innocent heroine’s eyebrows are somewhat rounded, while her evil counterpart’s are straighter. They are accompanied by two equally attractive young men, one good and the other not so good. These four then are supported by a cast of actors and actresses of varying ages often playing family members of the protagonists. There are also one or two comic characters, usually played by ladyboys.

Although the stories are generally all the same, their location varies. I have seen Thai soaps set in the homes of the rich, and others in the homes of the poor living beside a klong somewhere. I have also seen them set in grocery stores, health clubs and farms. Some occur in modern times others in old Siam and still others are set in times of magic or in some guerilla campaign somewhere.

Anyway, this particular day the masseuse was watching a soap in which the straight browed beauty dressed all in black, carried a sword and had just done unspeakable things to a group of poor people locked in cages.

Viewing this through my western acclimated eyes that sees everything as a conflict between good and evil, no matter the atrocities performed by either side, I commented, “She must be the bad girl.”

To which my masseuse responded, “Good or bad, it makes no difference. She is beautiful and everyone cares about her and what she does. If she were not so beautiful no one would give a damn at all about her or anything she does.”

PAPA JOE’S TALES AND FABLES:

FURTHER TALES OF BABA GIUFA

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now Baba Giufa’s guru business prospered and he eventually moved into a large house near Dolores Park in San Francisco where he lived with his acolytes whom he called his Dharmanoids. Now the Dharmanoids consisted of eight young women, the skinny, bearded long-haired inquisitive young man named Babu Beardo who handled the business side of the operation and a heavy-set silent man named Edgar.

The largest room of the house had brightly polished dark wood floors and a great number of cushions strewn about on which the Dharmanoids, visitors and worshipers sat. The only furniture in the room was a large comfortable overstuffed chair in which only Baba Giufa sat. He sat on the chair because he hated sitting on the floor. He considered it very uncomfortable.

Here he sat, smoking his chillum, listening to music from india or by Bob Dylan and enjoying the smell of incense. Here he also greeted visitors and instructed the Dharmanoids and worshipers. He called this room his Shamrock.

One day one of the worshippers asked Baba Giufa, “Since most other religious leaders call their places of worship their ashram, temple or church, why do you call yours ‘Shamrock'”?

To which Baba Giufa responded, “The Shamrock is a plant with three equally sized and shaped leaves.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is to marry Humperdink in little less then half an hour so all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape, after I kill count Rugen.”
Westley: “That doesn’t leave much time for dilly-dally.”

b. Today’s Featured Cognitive Bias:

Authority bias – the tendency to value an ambiguous stimulus (e.g., an art performance) according to the opinion of someone who is seen as an authority on the topic.

c. Yiddish for the beginner (from Wikipedia) (cont.):

fleishig: made with meat.
ganef or gonif: thief, scoundrel.
gelt: money; chocolate coins eaten on Hanukkah.
glitch: a minor malfunction.
golem: a man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster.
goy: a Gentile, someone not of the Jewish faith or people.
haimish (also heimish): home-like, friendly, folksy.
huck; sometimes “hock”, “huk”, “hak”. etc.: to bother incessantly, to break, or nag.
kibitz: to offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer.
klutz: clumsy person.
kosher: conforming to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate.
kvell: to feel delighted and proud to the point of tears.
kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe; as a noun, a person who always complains.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The people are rich when the money does not go out of their country, when they are content with what their country produces, and when money is constantly brought into their country by those who want the products of their industry, which they supply to foreign countries.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman.

Categories: October through December 2010 | 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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