Posts Tagged With: Bangkok Post

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Pookie 0003 (November 21, 2014)

Happy Thanksgiving — May we all give thanks to those generous Americans who gave food, kindness and welcome to a hopelessly lost band of immigrants (despite their refusal to learn the language).

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The rains are upon us in the Golden Foothills. Not enough to break the drought, but enough to make the days dark, gloomy and damp.

A few days later: The dark, gloomy and damp days continue without let-up. It is cold too. So after dropping HRM off at school, I usually huddle-up back in bed until it is time to pick him up. I feel like a kid again — snuggling under the blankets on a cold winter’s morning feeling warm and good. At 75 feeling warm and good is about as much as one can hope for.

Another day of two: Ah finally the sun has emerged. It makes me deliriously happy. It is a wonderful thing when ones contentment with life is dependent on such simple pleasures.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that did — II.

France

I do not recall where we landed, Calais perhaps. Jason and I got back into the Trojan 200 and drove off the ferry into France.

I had never been to Europe before. As for France, for some reason I had been convinced the French were rude, arrogant and anti-American and so it was my intention to drive through the country as quickly as possible, hopefully in a day or two.

It was late afternoon when we entered the town of St Omer, not too far from where we disembarked. We were both hungry and tired so I checked us into a small hotel with an attractive restaurant on the ground floor. I thought a good night’s rest and some food would better allow us to push through France into Italy as I had planned.

The room was pleasant and after we rested a bit, cleaned up and played around with the bidet and giggled (I had never seen one before), we went down to the restaurant for an early dinner.

As we entered the little restaurant, a rather arrogant looking waiter, a bit chubby with curly reddish hair, a bow tie and striped starched shirt and apron approached and motioned for us to follow him. After we were seated, he said something in French that I did not understand. I responded, in English of course, that I would like whatever he considered appropriate for dinner with an extra plate for my son. I also requested a glass of the house wine. He reddened a bit, made a slight noise like the chuffing of a hog and disappeared in a huff.

Now, my mother was a great cook and my family owned a number of Italian restaurants so I was used to eating good food, but I never had experienced the wonders of a full French meal before. I was stunned. Course after course was brought out and Jason and I happily and greedily ate them all for at least an hour and a half. (I learned a few years later that this place was a Michelin two-star restaurant)

The only problem was the wine. I asked for a glass and he brought me a bottle. I thought that I was about to be charged for the entire bottle. I was determined not to give the arrogant bastard the pleasure of fleecing me so I drank the whole thing (much later I learned that they only charged for the amount of wine one drank).

I was no stranger to drinking wine, being Italian-American, but this was long before the American wine revolution. The wines available in the US then were generally straw encased bottles of cheap Chianti, Italian Swiss Colony Red, Almaden white and the like. They always tasted as though the wine maker left a bunch of metal shavings at the bottom of the bottle. This wine was different, as smooth and mellow as a good night’s sleep.

Following the meal, I staggered with Jason back to my room and after putting him to bed fell into a long deep dreamless sleep.

Thereafter, my plan to race through France was at an end. Every day I would wake up a bit groggy, pack Jason and myself into the Trojan, drive two or three hours and stop to check into a hotel. We would eat lunch at which I would drink the entire bottle of wine. After this I would stagger back to our room and we would nap until dinner. As a result, my intention to traverse France in a day or two turned into a ten-day trek before we caught sight of the Alps.

One day shortly before reaching the mountains, we were traveling along a lovely two lane road through the French countryside, when I heard a large clank at the rear of the Trojan and it abruptly coasted to a stop. I got out of the car to find out what was wrong. What I saw appeared to me as though the Trojan was a giant prehistoric bug that had just taken a metallic crap in the middle of the road. The pile of metal was the car’s engine. This, I realized right away, was probably a much more serious problem than the mysterious stoppages.

Nevertheless, I proceeded with my usual approach to these things — changed Jason’s diapers, threw the used one into the bushes lining the road, walked with him a while and returned to the car. There I sat cross-legged on the road next to the pile of metal with Jason nestled on my lap and began to contemplate my options. I certainly did not relish the thought of hitch-hiking the rest of the way to Sicily. Nor was it appealing to contemplate finding a French mechanic who might be able to fix the machine. Eventually, I realized that the pile was composed of two large pieces of metal and a number of much smaller ones. This fact seemed to demand closer investigation. Jason by that time had fallen asleep so I carried him back to the cab, laid him on the seat and returned to the pile.

I picked up the two large pieces and found that they fit together perfectly. I then opened the engine cover and discovered I could fit those prices snugly around whatever was remaining attached to the vehicle. So, taking a long piece of thin wire that a prior owner of the auto had left in the cab, I carefully fitted the two pieces in place and then wrapped the wire tightly around the whole thing until it seemed relatively secure. I then fitted what small pieces I could back into the engine, throwing the remaining ones into the back of the car just in case they proved to be important.

Satisfied with my efforts, I returned to the cab, turned the key and after a few coughs, to my great surprise, the engine started and we drove off in the direction of the looming mountains. (to be continued)

DAILY FACTOID:

AD 325: Jesus becomes God

The Council of Nicaea: By a vote of 161 to 157, the surviving attendees at the Council declared that Jesus was God.

(Wow, I guess it is true that every vote matters. If just four votes had switched Jesus would have remained a carpenter and we may have elected a Republican as God instead.)
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Arrogance and Futility in Action — Cont.

The following is the second letter to the editor of the Bangkok Post advising the Thai government on how to draft their new constitution.

“To the editor of the Bangkok Post:

This, my second letter regarding Thailand’s current attempt to draft a constitution, focuses on dissent.

All social arrangements, including governments, although they may begin by pursuing valid social goals, gradually become institutions serving their own purposes and needs. Without constant reform, those institutions eventually disintegrate. In the case of a state, disintegration often takes the form of social turmoil and violent reaction, either of which may sweep away the constitutional foundations of a country. Perhaps the most effective means of generating reform is through public dissent.

Professor Quigley reminds us that allegiance and dissent are necessary components of any state capable of reforming itself.

‘First of all, allegiance and dissent, it seems to me, are opposite sides of the same coin. We cannot have organized society without allegiance. A society cannot continue to exist without loyalty. But, I would further add, a society cannot continue to exist that is incapable of reforming itself, and the prerequisite to reform is dissent.

Allegiance is absolutely vital. But so is dissent. To me, allegiance means devotion to symbols and organizational structures, both of which are necessary in any society. Dissent, it seems to me, is the opposite side of the coin. It implies a critical approach to the symbols and to organizational structures of society.’
(Presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on 24 August 1970)

He goes on to point out that preservation of the means for reasonable dissent is a necessity to forestall the tragedy of revolution and reaction.

‘No society can stand still. Its institutions must constantly adjust and evolve, and periodically undergo reform, because the needs they are supposed to serve are themselves constantly changing. And institutions cannot grow and reform unless the people whose needs they fail to serve, or serve badly, can make their dissatisfaction felt…. If dissent is stifled and denied redress, it builds up like a head of steam. Many people assume that dissent and the demand for reform are the first step toward revolution. They are mistaken. My study of history shows pretty generally that revolutions do not come from dissent. They come from a failure to reform, which leads to breakdown. It is quite true that misguided reforms which fail to attack real problems may also result in breakdown. But dissent, and reform responding to dissent, do not lead to revolution. They lead away from it.’
Ibid

Therefore I urge the committees drafting the constitution to include the right to dissent but, identify the reasonable means to exercise that right and include a process for redress of the grievances if the dissent continues and begins to threaten essential governmental services.

B. Pookie’s puerile epigrams:

Scientists tell us we know nothing but only think we do.

Religious leaders tell us we know nothing, but someone they have never met knows everything.

Politicians tell us that they know everything and we don’t.

Business people tell us, if it cannot be bought and sold it is crap.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…capitalism, because it seeks profits as its primary goal, is never primarily seeking to achieve prosperity, high production, high consumption, political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Any of these may be achieved under capitalism, and any (or all) of them may be sacrificed and lost under capitalism, depending on this relationship to the primary goal of capitalist activity— the pursuit of profits. During the nine-hundred-year history of capitalism, it has, at various times, contributed both to the achievement and to the destruction of these other social goals.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

TODAY’S CHART:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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This is a photograph of a fire rainbow. Fire rainbows appear when sunlight hits frozen ice crystals in high-altitude cirrus clouds. Because the fire rainbow actually involves no rain at all, scientists would rather we refer to this occurrence by its much less fun, but much more accurate title: the circumhorizontal arc. Since the arc requires both the presence of cirrus clouds and for the sun to be extremely high in the sky, it’s much more likely to be seen at latitudes closer to the equator.

May a circumhorizontal arc brighten your day.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 4 Pookie 0003 (November 19, 2014)

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels. Only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

While I nursed the remnants of my bronchitis, Nikki took over entertaining HRM. He left on Tuesday morning. Happily I am feeling better since my cough has, for the most part, disappeared.

The last days of autumn have come to the Golden Foothills. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn from deep red to brown. A carpet of fallen leaves covers everything not yet cleared by leaf blowers.

While on my daily walk, I observed the large Blue Heron that usually stays on the far side of the Duck Pond standing on the near side beside the path on which I was walking. As I got close it unlimbered its huge wings, took flight and slowly flapped back across the pond to its usual post. It was quite beautiful.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ITALY

1. A brief stay in Rome

I returned to Rome for two days before continuing on the Milan where I would catch the plane back to the US. I checked back in to the pensione on Via San Basilio, the place where they played Gregorian Chant at breakfast.
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Via San Basilio just off the Via Veneto

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My spartan room

During my time here with my sister a week ago, she indicated her wish to visit St Maria Maggiore Cathedral one of the four major Basilicas of Rome. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to it during our short stay, so I decided to visit it and take some photographs for her.

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The façade

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The interior

Despite its history and artistic significance, it is not my favorite of the basilicas. I prefer the Lateran Basilica for its dark and gloomy appearance and equally dark and gloomy history.
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The Lateran

The following day I took the train to Milan.
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The old walls by the train station.

2. Milano for a day

After a three-hour train ride I arrived in Milan and took a bus to Busto where Nikki lives. The next day we had lunch in Milan with Marco Gigi’s son at Gambero Rosso (The Red Shrimp) where we enjoyed a splendid risotto. After that, we went to see the restored “Last Supper,” that Nikki had never seen.

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Pookie in Milan

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The “Red Shrimp” restaurant (Gambero Rosso)
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Nikki, Marco and I at lunch

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The Church next to the refectory containing Last Supper. (Dome designed by Bramante)

The next morning after breakfast we flew off to the US.

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Our breakfast place in Busto

Traveling by plane with Nikki has its benefits. We get assistance through customs and passport control, help in making connections and better seats. The most unpleasant part of the trip was the huge delays on the Bay Bridge in SF at midnight.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that did.

England

In 1959 Britain’s Trojan Cars Ltd under license from Germany’s Heinkel Flugzuegwerke began selling the Heinkel’s bubble car as the Trojan 200. The car had three wheels and weighed a little over 1000 pounds. It had a one-cylinder four-stroke air-cooled engine that produced a grand total of 9 horse power that could push the vehicle to a top speed of a little more than 50 miles per hour over level ground. Portions of the automobile were constructed from surplus WWII airplane parts.

In 1968 I was living in London with my two and a half-year old son Jason and decided it was time to visit my relatives in Sicily. No one from my side of the family had visited there since 1928 when three of the four siblings of my maternal grandparents emigrated to America. So, one rainy and foggy London morning I, with my son and my luggage, walked to a nearby used car dealer and bought a Trojan 200. I bought it not because I thought about whether it was suitable for the trip, but because I liked the way it looked and it was cheap.
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The Trojan 200

I immediately piled my son, the one suitcase that held my worldly goods and a huge supply of disposable diapers into the vehicle and took off in what I had hoped would prove be the general direction of Sicily.

The first problem we faced was that the British drive on the right side of the road and I exited the used car lot directly into a busy one-way street in the opposite direction of traffic. There was not enough time to panic (as I am sure I would have preferred) so, I maneuvered my way through screeching tires and blaring horns until I reached a place where I could move on to the proper lane.

The second was escaping from the maze that is London in the general direction of Dover where I was reasonably confident I could find a ferry that would transport us to the continent. By keeping the River Thames on the right side of me, I was able to make my way to the edge of the city where I located signs pointing the way to the coast.

We soon found ourselves driving along a pleasant rural road heading toward our goal when suddenly the car stopped cold. I tried to suppress my worry by attending first to changing my son’s diaper and carefully depositing the used one behind a nearby bush. (In 1968 I had not yet become environmentally conscious or for that matter socially responsible.) We then went for a short walk to observe the visual pleasures of the English countryside. Upon our return, I placed my son back in the car, went to the rear of the vehicle and opened the cover to the engine. There I saw staring back at me a grimy little thing that seemed too small to propel a toy wagon much less an automobile.

My working thesis was that by staring at it long enough I would either be able to figure out what was wrong or frighten it sufficiently to scare it into operating again. After a few long minutes, it was clear the first option was not going to work, so I closed the cover, returned to the cab and turned the key to start the engine. I do not recall whether or not I was surprised but the engine started right up and we soon found ourselves back on the road to our destination.

Throughout the rest of the trip this mysterious stoppage would occur now and then. Rather than worrying, it gave my son and I the opportunity to commune together on beauties of whatever countryside we were passing through at the time.

Not too long after, we arrived at Dover or Folkestone or wherever the ferries docked. I originally wanted to take one of the hovercraft that had been newly introduced but the fare was too expensive. So, we parked in the cavernous hold of one of the regular ferries and immediately went up to the top floor and sat ourselves in front by the big glass window.

The sun had just parted the clouds leaving us in glorious sunshine. We chattered happily to each other and bounced up and down on our seats as the boat sped across the silver water towards the dark line of the continent on the horizon before us. (To be continued)

PEPE’S POTPURRI:

Arrogance and Futility in Action:

Recently I sent a series of four letters to the editor that were published in The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s premier English language newspaper. They pro-ported to advise the government on how they should draft their new Constitution. The following was the first:

“To the editor of the Bangkok Post:

Regarding the current struggle in Thailand to draft a new constitution, and having drafted and administered many laws, rules and regulations myself, I respectfully suggest the drafters consider the following policies formulated several years ago by professor Carroll Quigley of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Bill Clinton in his acceptance of the Presidential nomination said this of Professor Quigley:

‘As a teenager, I heard John Kennedy’s summons to citizenship. And then, as a student at Georgetown I heard that call clarified by a professor named Carroll Quigley, who said to us that America was the greatest nation in history because our people had always believed in two things: that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so.’

Among Professor Quigley’s fundamental requirements for any constitutional democracy are the preservation of a right to dissent and the protection of minority rights. Dissent I will take up in a later letter but as for minority rights Quigley states:

‘I define democracy as majority rule and minority rights. Of these the second is more important than the first. There are many despotisms which have majority rule. Hitler held plebiscites in which he obtained over 92 percent of the vote, and most of the people who were qualified to vote did vote. I think that in China today a majority of the people support the government, but China is certainly not a democracy.

The essential half of this definition then, is the second half, minority rights. What that means is that a minority has those rights which enable it to work within the system and to build itself up to be a majority and replace the governing majority. Moderate deviations from majority rule do not usually undermine democracy. In fact, absolute democracy does not really exist at the nation-state level. For example, a modest poll tax as a qualification for voting would be an infringement on the principle of majority rule but restrictions on the suffrage would have to go pretty far before they really abrogated democracy. On the other hand relatively slight restrictions on minority rights — the freedoms of speech, assembly, and other rights — would rapidly erode democracy.’

Thus any constitution whatever democratic variations it may take toward franchise, must provide a strong list of those rights reserved to the individual, such as freedom of expression, and assembly as well as security of their person and in their home. These and all similar individual rights should be clearly spelled out in the document.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I used to tell my students that the important thing in any election is the nomination. And when you come to the election itself, it doesn’t matter who votes, what’s important is who didn’t vote. Elections in the United States are increasingly decided by people who didn’t vote because they’re turned off for various reasons.”
Carroll Quigley

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Hostel on my block made from old shipping crates.

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

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

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

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

War Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later he announces:

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

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

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

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

“The horror. The horror.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

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

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

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

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

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

C. The Wit and Wisdom of Trenz Pruca:

On the Meaning of Words:

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah.”
http://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

***************************************

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.

IMG_20141006_150645_149

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.

*****************************************

IMG_20141005_090107_028

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.
IMG_20141010_141723_274

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.
IMG_20141010_142113_702

****************************************

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.
IMG_20141007_120305_139

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:
why-have-we-developed-such-income-inequality-in-part-because-the-average-hourly-earnings-in-this-country-havent-grown-in-50-years.jpg
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:
voting-infographic

(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. 26 Pops 0001 (September 10, 2012)

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
–W. B. Yeats

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

SWAC has thrown her back out and now walks about like an arthritic octogenarian. Hayden has come down with some form of stomach flu and Dick is in LA chasing earthquakes. As a result, I have been pressed into the role of part-time nurse to supplement my ongoing role of part-time nanny.

Last Saturday while visiting with Bill and Naida, after noticing the butterfly net Hayden had brought with him to fish for crawdads, Bill told me about his youthful adventures as an accomplished Lepidopterist. For almost an hour I listened, fascinated, to stories about butterfly hunting in Northern California 60 years ago. When he and his friends, the Crocker brothers, were about 10 years old they persuaded the State Parks Department to allow them to replenish the deteriorating collections at several of the parks. I learned all about how to get the wings spread properly when mounting the specimens and the many varieties of swallowtail fluttering around in the Sierra’s.

On Thursday I took the train from Sacramento to San José. I looked forward to dinner that night with Bill Gates and Jerry Smith. I had not seen Jerry in over a decade. For those unfamiliar with Jerry Smith, he was the State Senator who was the principle author of the California Coastal Act of 1976. He was later appointed to the Appellate Court by Jerry Brown at the end of Brown’s first turn as Governor of California over 30 years ago. After retiring Smith spent some time as an international consultant advising countries recently freed from soviet dictatorship on how to set up Anglo-American type judicial systems. Well after the time most people retire, he returned to school to study fine arts. He now is an accomplished sculptor.

We are perhaps the first generation in history where many of us live long enough in good health that we can enjoy five or six distinct careers during our lives and where it is not so strange to embark on one or two more after we reach 70.

Upon arriving in San Jose,  Bill met me in his new shiny Ferrari racing red Jaguar. We had lunch at a local men only dining club where the food was pretty good. After lunch we smoked cigars and drank brandy and the like in the game room where we discussed politics and the coastal act with a few of the members. They were all local developers except one who owned a string of radio stations in Texas and Florida. They appeared to be the remnants of the Eisenhower wing of the Republican party. As usual my inclination to pontificate was in full flower and so I talked and talked.

We later travelled to Saratoga where we had dinner with Jerry Smith and talked some more about California Coastal protection program. Jerry was the legislator who carried the bill. Before dinner we drank some wine and watched Obama’s acceptance speech. Jerry had cooked a great ravioli dinner accompanied by local wines and olive oil. After dinner we toured his house to look at some of his sculptures including a fascinating cast bronze replica of tree branches and wonderful outdoor bamboo arrangement in bronze and copper.

On the way home we stopped off at Bill’s nightclub Myth in downtown Sacramento. It has become quite a popular venue. There were about 400 people there at the time we arrived. By then I was exhausted and on the down side of the alcohol euphoria induced by the copious quantities I had consumed earlier in the day. I could only barely acknowledge the noise and the crowding and the remarkably large breasts that seemed required to work as a waitress in the place.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Oh no, we cannot be the worst!

In a survey conducted in over 80 countries, 2,000 people were questioned on which countries have the world’s worst beer. The results listed the United States as #1, followed behind by China, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Italy. Budweiser was ranked as the #1 worst brand in beer by the takers of the survey.

2. Oh no again!

durex-sexual-wellbeing-global-survey-2

(Blame it on the beer.)

C. THAI OBSERVATIONS

The Bangkok Post Reported on August 28, 2012:

“Thais top infidelity chart.”

Thai men are ranked on top and their women are ranked second as the world’s most unfaithul [sic] lovers, with well over half of them admitting to frequent infidelity, according to a survey conducted by Durex, a condom producer.

Women from Thailand are ranked the world’s second most unfaithul [sic] lovers, according to the survey report.

The survey of 29,000 women in 36 countries names the women of Ghana the world’s most unfaithful, with 62 per cent of the women questioned there admitting they often cheat on their boyfriends and husbands.

Thai women were just a little more faithful, with 59 per cent admitting to infidelity, followed by Malaysia with 39 per cent.

In fourth and fifth place were Russia (33 per cent) and Singapore (19 per cent).

As for men admitting to extramarital affairs, Thailand came out on top (54 per cent) followed by South Korea (34 per cent) and then Malaysia (33 per cent).

(But they still don’t do it as often as Greeks.)

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Pookie on Adultery:

I believe adultery violates God’s commandments, unless it is with a slave or concubine as the Bible permits. We should have uniform federal laws outlawing adultery, abortion and homosexuality unless you can afford it, or are a Republican candidate or are a priest, minister or Rabbi (Muslim clerics or rich people who profess Islam however are not excepted because to do so would be to condone sharia law. Also, they are not real Americans and they support terrorists.)

Adultery is a criminal offense in 23 states, with punishments ranging from a $10 fine in Maryland to life imprisonment in Michigan (at least according to one judge). It’s also prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That means, for example, that Newt Gingrich may have violated the law in some of those 23 states. Where does he stand on the issue of criminals running for office? What is the religious right and the Catholic Church’s stand on adultery? Is it such a sufficiently lesser sin than supporting a woman’s right to choose that it does not disqualify one from running for office? Is it a lesser sin than Homosexuality? If Newt were gay could he become president? Does the Religious Right have any morals what-so-ever? Does the Newtster? Why would anyone name their child after a lizard?

In fairness to the Newtster, I have searched but found no evidence that either Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid committed illegal adultery in one of the jurisdictions in which it is illegal. On the other hand it is probably safe to assume Bill Clinton did, but he did not divorce his wife although the weight of opinion, I believe, felt she should have divorced him. Ah well, they remain happily married and living separately so I guess every thing is ok.

I have it on good authority that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan have had heterosexual sex in over a decade. On the other hand it is a known fact that the muslim Barack Obama has been shtupping a black woman, but that does not count.

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

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

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

[Beware of people from Michigan!]

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

[Beware of Spiderman!]

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

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

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

[Beware of anyone who knows this!]
Today: 75 percent of Japanese women own vibrators. The global average is only 47 percent.

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

[Beware of Japanese women! They are just not that into you.])
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

1. It is about time to really deal with the deficit.
original
2. The Perceptive Republican:

Mike Lofgren served 16 years on the Republican staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees. He has an article in The American Conservative entitled, “Revolt of the Rich – Our financial elites are the new secessionists.” I largely agree with it. He states:

“Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension — and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?”

B. Electioneering:

1. Use of words in political discourse, conservative style:

“The Right’s also better than us (liberals) at taking new phrases and using them to inject their terrible ideas into the public discourse. “Boning poor people” sounds awful and almost no one would support that, but call it “welfare reform” and people can really get behind it. Everyone likes the idea of eliminating supposed abuses, after all. “Privatization” sounds way less terrible than “giving away public assets for pennies on the dollar” or “taking Social Security and putting it all on black.” Creationism in public schools bothers a lot of people, but “teaching the controversy” about “intelligent design” sounds way more palatable. Fortunately for America, though, the public at large didn’t fall for this.”
Stumbling Through the Halls of Power

2. A voice from the crypt
216149_10151036953121275_538890019_n

(Is Carville still alive or have I just forgotten that he always looked like a cadaver? I suppose the reason that Carville is usually the only Democrat commentator regularly invited to appear on Faux News is that he has been dead for the past five years.)

3. Which Group hates Obama most:

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.

C. Testosterone Chronicles: Penis file.

Researchers in Vietnam studying the marine life of the Mekong delta have identified a new species of the Phallostethidae family named Phallostethus cuulong . These are small fish found in rivers in South East Asia, easily distinguishable because of one bizarre anatomical feature – their penises are on their heads!

(On the other hand, dickheads are very common among humans.)

D. BOKONONISM: Sayings of Bokonon (Vonnegut)

On man’s power to control:
Any man can call time out, but no man can say how long the time out will be.

Also on man’s power to control:
It is not possible to make a mistake.
[ It is described as a “customary greeting given by all Bokononists when meeting a shy person.” ]

On history:
History! Read it and weep!

On religion:
Of course it’s trash!

On man’s destiny:
Today I will be a Bulgarian Minister of Education. Tomorrow I will be Helen of Troy.
We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodley do,
What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must;
Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
Until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.

On the ignorance of learned men:
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

On “the heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality, and the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it:
Midget, midget, midget, how he struts and winks,
For he knows a man’s as big as what he hopes and thinks!
TODAY’S QUOTE:
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TODAY’S CHART:
chart751

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. 2 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Ann Vita and Richard McCarthy.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Today after leaving the car at the automotive shop for some maintenance, Dick dropped me off at Capitol Park in Sacramento to while away the hours until it was time to pick the car up. I always liked Capitol Park. The park features a huge variety of trees with their massive trunks and twisted roots as well as plenty of benches for the old, the homeless and now and then a state bureaucrat or two to sit and contemplate the meaning of sitting in parks.
IMG_20130916_111627_025
Fra Serra among the trees.

Many years ago, when I used to work in Sacramento, I recall scurrying through the park from my apartment or office to the Capitol building for meetings with various legislators, governors, staff, consultants, lobbyists and other detritus that haunted those not so hallowed halls. I remembered a sense of pleasure in my surroundings as I rushed through the Park, but I almost never stopped to wonder why I was rushing.

The Park has sprouted a number of monuments, as parks often do, that I did not recall existed when I previously spent time there. Most of them have to do with war. It is a strange mix of wars that whoever made the choice thought was worth remembering. There was an overgrown grove of bushes dedicated to the Civil War, but nothing commemorating the American Revolution. There was no monument to WWI. A simple plinth commemorated WWII. I could find no Spanish-American War or Korean War monuments. By far the most elaborate memorial however was dedicated to the Vietnam War. I sat on a bench nearby and tried to understand why it was that, with all the successful feats of martial arms engaged in by this country, we should spend so much time and effort memorializing a war we so clearly lost. Americans died in all the wars. Perhaps it is the poignancy of them having died for so little reason that makes us feel sadder about them than those lost in other more successful efforts at organized mayhem.

I then looked around to see if I could find any monuments dedicated to peace. I found statue devoted to Junipero Serra, but none to native Americans. There was a wonderful series of sculptures in memory of the State’s firefighters who had died, but none it appeared in remembrance of Cops who also lost their lives in the line of duty. Why was that?
IMG_20130916_104823_829
California firefighters with hoses rampant.

Finally I discovered a somewhat forlorn rose garden dedicated to peace tucked away in a far corner of the park. Overgrown and reedy as rose bushes tend to get when not maintained (I do not understand the connection between roses and peace). Plaques containing poems to peace written by schoolchildren were hidden close to the ground among the thorns.

A small mall-like extension between some state office buildings had been added to the Park containing a number of tripods upon which sat small glass plaques with writing so tiny they were almost impossible to read. A sign at the entrance to the mall explained that the tripods were situated so as to represent the location of the stars on the night California was admitted into the Union. At one end of the mall was a chute like ramp that itself ended with a brass ball on a column that was supposed to be an exact replica of the brass ball on the top of the Capitol dome that could be seen in the distance. The whole thing made no sense to me.
IMG_20130916_114201_007
It still seems like a waste to me.

In the morning after Dick dropped me off, I had a cup of coffee in a coffee-house across L Street from Capitol Park. The barista was a large austere blond woman with tattoos that could be seen snaking all over the exposed portions of her skin other than on her face. She reminded me of Mavis the tattooed lady in my mystery novel serial that is included with T&T, except that where Mavis is short and thin this woman was quite large. Also while Mavis’ tattoos expressed a consistent theme, the jungle in all its fecund mystery, this woman’s body decorations seemed to revel in disconnected bouts of aesthetic rapture.

After my tour of the Park and lunch at a Moroccan restaurant with Stevie and Norbert (I enjoyed the food and welcomed the company), I returned to the coffee shop hoping to catch a glimpse of the blond woman again. She was still there standing behind the counter. I sat at a table with my coffee and surreptitiously glanced at her and once found her looking back at me. I wanted to speak with her, ask her about her tattoos, about what it is like to work in the coffee-house, her hopes and her dreams, whether she ever contemplated sex with a seventy year old man. You know same old same old. I began to feel like an incipient stalker so I left and waited for Dick outside.

That night I dreamt about her. Not some sweaty image of impossible passion, but simply a picture of her standing behind the counter with me at the table, my coffee in front of me, staring out of the window, like an Edward Hopper painting, a frozen moment of existential loneliness.

***************************************************
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Politics at its most…whatever: Given the things the opposition has called Obama, I find the following report from Thailand to be less than shocking. It appears to be just another example of boys will be boys.

“Thai PM was called a “stupid bitch” by the leader of the opposition.”

“This was not the first time Ms. Yingluck was called อีโง่ (pronounced ‘ee-ngo’, equivalent to the English vulgarity of “stupid bitch” or “dumb bitch”). This specific epithet has been used among her haters so much so that googling the word will return mostly her pictures and caricatures of her image.”

The “stupid bitch” remark is the latest in a long line of vulgar insults Ms. Yingluck has been subjected to. Among the early high-profile insults, two years ago she was compared to a prostitute by a businessman (who described all women from Northern Thailand as “uneducated,” “lazy,” “intellectually retarded,” and “fit only for” working as prostitutes, not as prime minister). In May this year she was called an “evil woman, worse than a whore” by a well-known cartoonist. In the same month, the Office of Prime Minister website was hacked and the hackers turned the official page to show Ms. Yingluck’s picture with a caption “I’m a slutty moron.”
Kaewmala

(I refrain from comment, but see Testosterone Chronicles below.)

2. Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most widely read english language daily newspaper wrote some time ago:

“Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.”

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter: 28

The limo continued on up Columbus toward the Bay. Joe and Chang sat down again and began an animated conversation and laughing. Vihn had not moved. His mouth curved up a bit more. “Did you hear what I said,” he asked?

I pulled my chair back up to the table, waited a moment for my heart to slow down and replied in a somewhat higher voice than I wanted, “Did you see that?” What the fuck’s wrong with you?” “Your boys were about to start shooting, in broad daylight, in a busy street.”

“They were only doing their job. I trust them. Now please answer my question.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I heard you. So what. So everyone you know was trying to scam you. What the fuck did you expect? You’re not exactly in the fiduciary business yourself you know. Your furniture is gone, whatever was hidden was gone. Deal with it.”

“You are the only one who I know that was not involved.”

“Well good for me. If I had the chance I would have probably joined in the cluster fuck too.”

“This has become personal for me.”

“Martin, I doubt if anything is personal for you. What do you want from me?”

Anna arrived with his coffee. Martin leaned back a bit, picked up two cubes of sugar, dropped them into his cup and stirred them around. He then put down his spoon, looked back at me and said, “I want you to find Mark Holland. I need to speak with him.”

“Look, he’s long gone by now. If not, he’s too dumb to breathe, in which case he’s probably dead.”

“I have reason to believe he is hiding near-by and is definitely not dead.” With that he got up and added, “I’ve already told Robert Wu to deposit your usual fee. You’re making a pretty good living off of me. If you find Holland it will be worth it for both of us.”

Suddenly his car turned the corner and pulled into the bus stop. Obviously there was a signal passed between Vihn and Chang or Vu that I did not notice. I was impressed as he intended.

“Wait,” I said as he turned and began to slide into the back seat. “What information about Holland’s whereabouts do you have?”

“Joe will tell you,” he said as he began to close the door.

“I’ve heard that before,” I mumbled.

He hesitated for a moment, looked at me, nodded and closed the door. Chang got into the front passenger seat and they drove off. He never even sipped his coffee. Nor did the son of a bitch pay for it.

Joe Vu slipped into the seat vacated by Vihn. Instead of Vihn’s slightly turned up corners to his mouth, Vu sported the big arrogant smile he usually does. “How ya do’in boss?”

“Before I answer that,” I said. “Are you going to pay for Vihn’s coffee?

He looked at the cup, downed the coffee, made a face and said, “Too much sugar.”

 
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

One day while we sat at our usual table in the restaurant in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, the good/bad David mused that although he almost never votes in an American election he believed that at least right now neither Party seems capable of producing anyone who was either better or could defeat Hillary in the 2016 Presidential Election. He quickly added that he, personally did not like Hillary. He then asked if I would write something about a potential third-party candidacy bid by Hillary so that those so inclined could vote for her without having to specifically vote Democratic.

I pointed out that the there is a constitutional requirement prevents voters in a Presidential election voting directly for a candidate. They vote instead for a slate of electors each State pledged to one particular candidate or another. It is extremely difficult and expensive for a candidate to qualify for third party status in all 50 states. Also, I suspect that any candidate that could secure one of the major Party’s nomination would hesitate forgoing access to the fund-raising and election workers the Party contributes to its candidate in an election. So the only option available to a candidate like Hillary would be the possibility of running both as Democratic and as an Independent. Alas, I am unsure, but sincerely doubt, that even were the electors to be the same for both the Democratic Party and the Third Party, the votes on either line would be treated as anything other than separate. What this means is that, given the fact that the votes for the Democratic electors, the Republican electors and the Third party electors would be awarded to the specific Party and not consolidated, being on two tickets would split the vote between them. Thus in the case of Hillary actually reduce her votes vis-a-vis the Republican candidate.

But let’s assume I am wrong about this and the votes can be consolidated, would this be a good idea for Hillary? That would depend if polling indicated that the money and effort spent on qualifying and promoting the Third Party would somehow produce a better national result. For example would it pull more votes away from the Republican candidate to be worth it. On the other hand would the voter disenchanted with the Republican candidate or Party be more likely to vote independent than Republican or just stay home. Both outcomes would benefit Hillary, but one would be much less costly. That is simple hard-nosed electoral politics.

There is however in America today a need for a modicum of consensus on the Country’s leadership without requiring the destruction or abandonment of ideology or social relationships and a Hillary Clinton third-party candidacy could have that effect.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, women outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviors. Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines the dark side of personality: for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women.”
Harvard Business Review.

(Additional evidence of my belief that after 10,000 years of male dominance it is time for men to step aside and let women clean up the mess they have made.)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Bradshaw was so dumb he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘t’.”
Hollywood Henderson’s famous observation about ex-Pittsburg Steelers Quarterback and well-known sports commentator Terry Bradshaw’s legendary intelligence.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Granddaughter standing in front of her mural along with her mom.

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Jo Jo 0002 (May 31, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

There has been a change at the health club where I spend most of my mornings. No, not a change in ownership or rules or even personnel. And certainly there has not been a change in the general run down nature of the place. It is as different from the chrome palaces of modern health clubs as it always has been. What’s changed has been its culture. Yes I know, unless it is some sweaty broken gym for boxers or more modern dojo’s for martial arts, most health club’s cater to a rather vanilla cross-section of young up and comers. But even there, if you look close enough and long enough at your own health club, you will soon see underneath the acres of spandex vague indications of a culture that separates your club from the one in the high-rise on the next corner.

The membership of the health club at the Ambassador Hotel in BKK of which I am a member and for which LM is employed as a masseuse, has always been made up of, in addition to guests in the hotel, mostly older men and women who preferred to pay a membership fee about one-half less than the membership fee at any of the other hotel health clubs in the area and did not mind the steady but slow deterioration in the facilities. Membership, like the facilities, has been declining for the entire three years I have been a member.

However, upon my return from the United States a few weeks ago I noticed that the membership decline has stopped and seemed to have reversed itself. The lockers in the locker rooms are now all taken and new banks of lockers have been installed. On the surface, these new members seem to be much like the existing members, older western males, local professional women and Indian and Arab men and women who are guests at the hotel.

Recently, LM has complained that the massage services that used to be supplied by 6 to 8 full-time women masseuses and a picture book of others on call has been reduced to two providers. Since the beginning of the month, there has been only one massage appointment made for either of those two. On the other hand, the number of male masseuses has increased from two to 8 or 12.

I suspect that usual massage business performed by female therapists has been undercut by the lower cost massage parlors that line the nearby streets in the neighborhood. On the other hand, no such outlets for connection and release exist for women in general, business women in particular as well as for men preferring a man’s touch but hesitant about frequenting the gay clubs nearby.

*****

This week I set off for a few days at Jomtien Beach. For those new to T&T or those that may not recall, I lived for almost a year in an apartment near the beach in this town. The building was called, Jomtien Beach Paradise Condominiums so I took to calling the area Paradise by the Sea. Since it is also about two miles from that emporium of erotic excess Pattaya, I added, Two Miles from the Outskirts of Hell to its description.

Paradise by the Sea used to be the native Thai beach resort area while Pattaya, the Outskirts of Hell, was reserved for western, mostly male tourists. Eventually the bright lights and noise of the Vietnam War enlisted mens R&R resort was overwhelmed by high rises, at first to house the ex-military who retired here hoping to maintain the dreams of that which nature is destined to erode. This was followed by ongoing attempts to convert the town to a traditional beach tourist attraction with its sin city reputation as an un-mentioned attraction. (As a beach resort minus the sex Pattaya deserves a Meh ranking at best.)

The high-rise condo and resort mania has overlapped into the adjacent city of Jomtien Beach driving the native Thais beyond its borders and replacing them first with a mixed bag of Western European and American males and more recently Russians primarily from Siberia.

I stay is a decidedly down scale guest house managed by a sad-faced woman whose teen-aged daughter immobilized by birth defects lies semi comatose on a cot in the lobby.

Two or three times a day I walk about a mile or two along the beach. I have stayed in some of the finest beach resorts in the world, but for some reason I find that I am more comfortable and at peace sitting on the balcony of my tiny room than I had been in any of those elegant establishments.

*****

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Princess LuckyGirl the prime minister of Thailand and sister of the deposed and fugitive prior Prime Minister of the country, Thaksin the Terrible, recently has travelled to other countries and has given speeches extolling the values of democracy. For some reason the opposition party led by the ex-Prime Minister whose party was never elected, Abhsit the Unready, believed it was awful for her to have done so. It seems that they believe that by speaking about the general benefits of democracy she is criticizing their time in power. — I think it is a cultural thing.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

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

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

3. My job interview:

The white marble Greco-Roman building housing the NY Supreme Court’s First Appellate Division contained the offices of the newly created Mental Health Information Services (MHIS). It was situated just off Madison Square Park at Madison and E. 25th street. To the east a few blocks the forbidding red brick buildings of Belview Hospital, NY’s première psychiatric hospital containing the infamous wards for the city’s criminally insane, rose above the East River. To the south sprawled Stuyvesant Town a city within the city. To the west the garment district and Chelsea ran in an arc from north to south and contained Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. Immediately to the north were the flagship emporiums of Macy’s and Gimbles. The old Penn Station and Madison Square Garden buildings are gone now but the rest remain, gentrified or like the garment district, pale shadows of their prior glory.

The newly installed executive director of the MHIS was a man rotund of belly and of face. With a mouth too large for even that face, thick eyeglasses and wispy hair on a head going prematurely bald, he looked a bit like a large frog. He wore a rumpled three-piece grey suit, white shirt and unassuming tie. His name was Simon Rosenzweig. He was a revelation to me.

Having attended what passed for a progressive Catholic High School and a Jesuit run University, I had a pretty clear idea of the Catholic Social Gospel and the mess the 2000 year criminal conspiracy represented by the Catholic hierarchy tried to make of it. I also knew what saintliness was all about. You know, washing the leper’s sores, feeding the poor and things like that.

I could never do that; never see myself off in the jungle somewhere bathing some feverous child dying of malnutrition. This always made me feel I was destined to be an incorrigible moral failure my entire life.

But here before me for the first time I recognized something or someone different. You see, that whole saintly thing was only intended to try to make the suffering lighter for those whose lives could not change. You know, “The poor are always with us.”

But in Simon here was someone who believed things could be changed so that the particular type of suffering no longer occurs. No more bathing of sores. Instead, if we change the conditions, the suffering itself can be diminished. In effect those engaged in this type of endeavor could be considered physicians to society. This, I decided, was what the Kennedy challenge was all about. I wanted to do that.

But there was a problem. You see, at that time, 1965, the US was still divided by those who went to Ivy league schools and those who did not. And to go to an ivy league school you had to be either white protestant, fabulously wealthy, or born with some preternatural intellectual, artistic of physical gifts. Also in general, unless you were a fully evolved advanced human being like Paul Robeson, you still had to be white or almost white, unless, of course, your father owned some country in Africa, South America or Asia and the assumption was that you would be going back there after you finished your education. As far as lawyers were concerned, even if you were an ivy league graduate, you often were not hired by the large Wall Street firms if you were, say, jewish, Puerto rican, italian or black unless you parents were major clients of the firm (and even then you could never aspire to becoming a partner). In those cases you went out to find jobs in industry or in government, set up your own firm or, moved to California.

At my interview Simon explained up front that the lawyer jobs in MHIS were intended to be slotted to ivy league graduates only. Nevertheless he allowed me to continue with the interview. At the end of the interview he sat there silently staring at me for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, he told me that even though I had not attended an ivy league school he was disposed to hire me because of all the young attorneys he interviewed I was the only one who spoke about the patients welfare and not the principles involved.

While I was happy to get the job, my feelings were somewhat equivocal. I was never all that good on legal principles so talking about the patients and their welfare was really all I that had going for me.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.
Kasper Gutman: Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.

Chapter 16:

I stared blankly at the phone after I disconnected from Mavis. I was pulled back from wherever I had gone off to by Joe Vu who had thrust his iPhone in front of me. I took it from him, put it to my ear and heard an angry Martin Vihn say:

“What were you trying to do with Lilly?”

Answered, “It doesn’t matter anymore. Clarence Reilly has been found.”

“What? Where?”

“Floating beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, dead.”

There was silence for a moment then, “Suicide?”

“I have no idea.”

Another momentary silence then, “I want you to find out how he died. Also what happened to the shipment.”

“Sorry, I don’t work for you anymore. My assignment was to find Reilly. I did. You want to hire me again, the terms are the same as before.”

Controlled anger flowed from the phone like waves of heat from a tenement fire.

“Who do you think you are?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know what you can have done to me. But, if you wanted to you could have done so when you first hired me. And, if you do it now you still are going to have to hire someone anyway. After all, like everything else in this case it’s all business, isn’t it?”

He chuckled. “OK. Same deal but this time I want you to find out how Clarence died and if someone killed him who. Also, what happened to the shipment of furniture.”

Following a little more negotiation and receiving the answers to some questions I had, I hung up, returned the phone to Joe and asked him to drive me home.

“To your place on Fourth not the Utah, right?” he said.

“How did you know?” I said only a bit surprised.

“I’m a detective in training.”

“Hmm. Put on some good clothing. We probably are going to a serious affair this evening. I’ll call you.”

He dropped me off. Once inside of my loft, I called Fat Al Pischotti. I met Fat Al while I was working my way through law school as an intern for Hal Lipset. Hal was a famous San Francisco detective who worked out of his home, a mansion in Pacific Heights. He was known far and wide for inventing the martini with a radio transmitter imbedded in the olive. It was useless since once and liquid was poured into the glass the transmitter no longer worked. It didn’t matter, the PR was worth it to Hal. Alas, with the coming of the computer age, the blue collar, shoe leather PI’s like Hal have been replaced by technology geeks who can acquire as much information in an hour as Hal at his best could gather in a week.

At that time Fat Al was a homicide detective for the City. After putting in his 20 years he promptly retired and opened his own detective agency. Actually Al was just the face, his wife ran the agency.

I asked Al as a favor to find out through his police contacts anything he could about Reilly’s death and to keep his ears open about the event I was sure would occur this evening.

After that, I took a shower, laid down in my bed and spent about an hour berating myself for allowing myself to get involved in all this foolishness. Just before I fell asleep, however, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had made more money this week than any other week since I started this business. Mavis was not too bad a benefit either.
DAILY FACTOID:

“[T]he net debts of Wal-Mart… have soared — up 5,760 percent since 1987. By comparison, the roughly 600 percent rise in the U.S. public debt over the same period looks restrained. Is Wal-Mart mad?”
http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/josh-barro-boehner-accidentally-explains-why-his-deficit-position-is-phony-bloomberg.html#more

(Although I often am in agreement with Professor DeLong, I must point out, who except the heirs of Wal-Mart’s founder cares if it collapses due to the madness of its managers, but the collapse of the US due to the madness of its political leaders is nothing to sneeze at.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tales of Inhumanity:

The Banality of Evil.

MAY 18, 1943, Report from Sturmbannfuehrer Gricksch to SS-Col. von Herff and Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler:

“The Auschwitz camp plays a special role in the resolution of the Jewish question. The most advance methods permit the execution of the Fuehrer-order in the shortest possible time and without arousing much attention.

The so-called “resettlement action” runs the following course:

The Jews arrive in special trains (freight cars) toward evening and are driven on special tracks to areas of the camp specifically set aside for this purpose.

There the Jews are unloaded and examined for their fitness to work by a team of doctors, in the presence of the camp commandant and several SS officers. At this point anyone who can somehow be incorporated into the work program is put in a special camp.

The curably ill are sent straight to a medical camp and are restored to health through a special diet. The basic principle behind everything is: conserve all manpower for work. The previous type of “resettlement action” has been thoroughly rejected, since it is too costly to destroy precious work energy on a continual basis.

The unfit go to cellars in a large house which are entered from outside. They go down five or six steps into a fairly long, well-constructed and well-ventilated cellar area, which is lined with benches to the left and right. It is brightly lit, and the benches are numbered.

The prisoners are told that they are to be cleansed and disinfected for their new assignments. They must therefore completely undress to be bathed. To avoid panic and to prevent disturbances of any kind, they are instructed to arrange their clothing neatly under their respective numbers, so that they will be able to find their things again after their bath.

Everything proceeds in a perfectly orderly fashion. Then they pass through a small corridor and enter a large cellar room which resembles a shower bath. In this room are three large pillars, into which certain materials can be lowered from outside the cellar room. When three- to four-hundred people have been herded into this room, the doors are shut, and containers filled with the substances are dropped down into the pillars.

As soon as the containers touch the base of the pillars, they release particular substances that put the people to sleep in one minute. A few minutes later, the door opens on the other side, where the elevator is located. The hair of the corpses is cut off, and their teeth are extracted (gold-filled teeth) by specialists (Jews). It has been discovered that Jews were hiding pieces of jewelry, gold, platinum etc., in hollow teeth.

Then the corpses are loaded into elevators and brought up to the first floor, where ten large crematoria are located. (Because fresh corpses burn particularly well, only 50-100 lbs. of coke are needed for the whole process.) The job itself is performed by Jewish prisoners, who never step outside this camp again.

The results of this “resettlement action” to date: 500,000 Jews. Current capacity of the “resettlement action” ovens: 10,000 in 24 hours.

(As I pointed out in an earlier post, it may be that there may have been crueler and greater genocides [e.g. the slaughter of the Native Americans], in none, however, do we have the extent of testimony by the victims themselves and obsessive record keeping by the murderers as we do in this one.

It is this testimony that should remind everyone of the horrors that can flow from hate and irrational fear. [It should be recalled that, until the attack on Pearl Harbor, a majority of Americans had no problem with the rhetoric and policies coming out of the Axis countries that ultimately led to the barbarity reported above.]

It is no defense to denying someone a job, education or medical treatment because of their racial, gender, ethnic or sexual orientation that, unlike what occurred in the 1930s and 40s, it has not yet ended in horrible death. Nevertheless, almost daily I receive emails and other communications or hear political leaders who proudly revel in their belief of the justice and equity of their fear and of their hate. They alas only too often call that hate, American values.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It was a rare fine night for a stroll down by the docks, the moon plump as a new pillow in an old-fashioned hotel and the undertow in the turning tide swushing its ripples silvery-green and a bird you’ve never heard before chirring its homesick tale of a place you might once have known and most likely now will never see, mid-June and almost midnight and balmy yet, the kind of evening built for a long walk with a woman who likes to take long walks and not say very much, and that little in a murmur you have to strain to catch, her laughter low and throaty, her humour dry and favouring lewd, eyes like smoky mirrors of the vast night sky and in them twinkles that might be stars reflecting or the first sparks of intentions that you’d better fan with soft words and a gentle touch in just the right place or spend the rest of your life and maybe forever wondering what might have been, all for the want of a soft word and a touch gentle and true.”

(This single 183 word long sentence opens the novel Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke. It has nothing at all to do with anything else that follows in the novel. That is much like the opening paragraphs of every chapter in his namesake James Lee Burke’s novels about the two male-bonded goodfellows of Iberia Parish in Louisiana that also have nothing to do with whatever follows in the chapter. But, they are beautiful.)

TODAY’S CHART:

nasa-climate-change-e1358345450589

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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(These same sentiments, enhanced by the patina of the intellectual rhetoric of the time, were applied with equal vehemence to immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Poland, China and Japan when they first began arriving here in America in large numbers. I wonder if the descendants of those immigrants feel that they and their ancestors were so much dumber then the progeny of those previous immigrants many of whom settled in Appalachia and the deep South and who either made or believed those claims.)

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Jo Jo 0002 (May 23, 2013)

Happy Birthday Jessica

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The past few days have seen the rains return to BKK. I do not know if we have tipped over into the rainy season yet or if this is just a temporary respite from the heat and the pollution. In any event, the pollution and the blazing heat have diminished, replaced with stifling humidity. As a result, except for my daily trip to the pool, I still spend most of my days huddled by the AC in my apartment reading. I have completed reading all 14 novels in the Dresden Files series that have been written so far. The author promises to write at least seven more.

We now know that Mab the Fairy Queen of the Winter Court of the Sidhe is not insane even though she had her daughter Maeve murdered. We also know the name of the being behind all the trouble that occurred in the previous 13 books. His name is Nemesis, although to call him that pisses him off so everyone prefers to call him the Adversary. Why that does not piss him off as much, I have no idea. We still do not know what is under the Cowl. Harry Dresden, the Wizard, did get laid again. Although he was willing, he was effectively raped by Mab since there was nothing he could do about it. The coupling itself, through what in the magic of fairyland passes for social media, was witnessed by all the residents of both the Summer and Winter Queendoms of the Sidhe.

*****

I really do not know what has been going on with me for the past few weeks. Whatever physical or emotional problems I had experienced since my hospitalization have been gone ever since my jet lag lifted a few weeks ago. Yet, since then I have done little but swim in the mornings and read straight through the day until I turn out the light at about 11pm to sleep. One day, I decided to break from reading and so I went to see a movie. That’s it. I feel like I should be doing something — almost anything. I even put off my trip to the beach for a week. I do not feel depressed. If fact just the opposite. Nevertheless I exhibit all the symptoms of depression except depression itself.

Since I finished the Dresden Tales I have returned to Bruen, Nesbro, Declan Burke and the Foreworld Tales. Every day I try to write a few sentences in This and that… but little else. Maybe I will do something next week. Time is getting short.

*****

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

In the Autumn of 2011, when the new Thai government came into power, it implemented a campaign promise to create a national health program that provides all Thais with health services for about one dollar US per visit. The program was conceived by the administrator of a hospital that had managed to develop and carry out the medical delivery systems in his hospital to such a high degree of efficiency that it allowed the hospital to charge the patient only a little more than that. The program passed in the first few hours of the new administration. A quasi-independent board was set up to administer it.

The hospital administrator that developed the program was appointed to head the new entity. I has proven wildly successful, much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutical industry (mostly foreign corporations) because unlike Obamacare in the US which in a compromise with the industry did not allow Medicare to freely choose the lowest cost supplier by forcing them to compete on price, the Thai program did. It was very successful in bringing down costs.

The Administrator of the Thai program has recently proposed to manufacture generic drugs in general use not patent protected in order to further reduce costs. That apparently was the last straw. Under pressure from the foreign pharmaceutical companies, the government sacked the administrator and turned the entire program over to administration by local political leaders.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

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

Chapter 15:

Most people believe that when faced with danger humans react in two ways, fight or flee. Actually there is a third way. I call it the bunny rabbit approach — freeze and be eaten. Unfortunately for me, I have found that the third option seems to be the default setting on my survival instinct. So, when I saw Fat Face sitting there in the car smiling at me my first impulse was to close my eyes and cringe. But, after a moment I realized that there was at least ten feet of sidewalk between me and the car in which he was sitting I relaxed a bit and after checking up and down the street I said”

“Where’s the Prince of Wales?”

“Huh” Fat Freddie responded. His smile disappearing.

“Your fat friend Gordie.”

“Uh…why don’t you get in the car here and you can give me your report,” he said obviously not getting my clever allusion to a scene in a fifty year old movie about Beau Brummel staring Stewart Granger (but for “Scaramouche” his greatest role).

“I thought you were going to call,” said I.

“Too busy. but I have time now.”

“Well,” I said. “There’s nothing to report. I still don’t know what happened to Holland. And I’m not getting into your car. You’re in the wrong area of the city for trolling. Try Land’s End.”

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my kidney either I was passing a stone or something hard was pushed into my back. A large hand then gripped my upper arm followed by a gravelly voice saying, “get in the car.”

It finally got to me. My fear was replaced by indignation at being forced to play a supporting role a third-rate gangster flick. Said:

“It talks. Is this the point when I say, is that a gun sticking into my back or are you just happy to see me. There’s a big difference between sitting in a car choking on Porky’s body oder and getting shot in the street. You’re not going to do it so let’s knock off amateur hour. Or to put it another way, go fuck yourself.”

Before I could do anything else or Fat Freddie could respond, I heard,

“Let’m go muthafucka.”

The grip on my arm loosened and I turned around. There was Joe Vu with his gun against Frank Fat’s neck.

“Fuck,” I screamed. “Are you all crazy?. Joe put the fucking gun away. No one’s shooting anyone. Were in the middle of a San Francisco Street. You Porky Two get back in the car.”

“It’s OK Bart,” the rotund one driving the car called out. “Get in the car.”

“Bart! Did you just call him Bart? Am I living in a Trivial Pursuits wet dream? He’s not a kid with yellow skin so that must make you Brett.”

Fat Tony or rather Bilious Bart walked to the car and got in. I realized that they actually did remind me of the aged and obese Garner and the guy that never made it in the movies. They smiled waved and drove off.

“I thought you were in trouble boss,” said Joe Vu slipping his gun back into his pocket.

I did not say anything as we walked back to our car but then thought I would screw with him a bit. Said,

“You think Martin hired them?”

“Nah,” he said as he walked around to the driver’s side and opened the door. “If he wanted to hurt you he’d have you hire his cousin as your student.”

I stared at him then got into the car. Said,

“You know, I think it’s all a game.”

“What do you mean boss.”

“Why me. Why hire me. I’m a no account PI. if anyone were really serious they would hire a real agency. This towns full of detectives. I don’t think either Martin, or Mavis or for that matter Lilly care all that much about either Reilly or Holland. The Tons of Fun were probably just toying with me.”

“Why do you do that boss?”

“What?”

“Make fun fat people like that.”

“Fat guys, blond beauty contest winners, politicians and Vietnamese sidekicks are still fair game. The PC police haven’t gotten to them yet.”

At that moment both our phones started ringing at the same time. It was Mavis on mine. She said,

“What did you do with Lilly?”

“She called you huh? Was she upset?

“Not really. Said she might take us up on a threesome. But that’s not why I called. After Lilly hung up, I went back to my painting. I like to listen to the radio news — for some reason music distracts me when I paint. Anyway, they just reported that Clarence Reilly was found floating near one of the piers at the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.”

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

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

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

2. The New York State Mental Health Hospital System in 1965:

During the Middle Ages in Europe at about the time that market towns began to flourish, the good burghers of those villages recognized that, in addition to criminals such as thieves and pick-pockets, disruptive individuals disturbing the peace were not good for business and so they were rounded up and one way or another punished. In addition to the normal drunk and disorderly, included among the breakers of the peace were those that in a future more civilized time were to be called the mentally ill; those whose physical behavior made them incapable of fending for themselves or those who defended themselves from the horrors of their own mind by adopting behaviors that were shockingly odd to those around them. Many of the latter were driven from the towns into the countryside or executed as witches or heretics.

Eventually the difference between the common criminal and the mentally ill began to be recognized and separate jails and prisons were constructed to house the latter. As these insane asylums as they began to be known grew in both size and number, periodic attempts were made to treat those in the asylums somewhat more humanely than they had been. Places like Charenton in Paris, although considered one of the most “humane,” inflicted all sorts of tortures on their inmates in efforts to “cure” them. Those were the enlightened places. In most asylums the cost of long-term care generally were contained by maintaining a high mortality rate.

In the middle of the Nineteenth Century with the coming of the Industrial revolution, the newly emergent upper middle class discovered to their horror that their newfound wealth did not shield them from being stricken with mental illness any less often than the poor (but, probably a good deal less often than the hugely inbred royalty of the time). Unlike the poor, however, who for example upon becoming too depressed to work would end up starving or incarcerated, many members of the middle class (except for the male primary bread winners) could lie in bed for as much as weeks at a time until the humors or vapors or whatever passed. And, these new industrialists had the wherewithal to hire care givers for their distressed family members.

As a result, as it was to be expected, individuals claiming expertise in nervous disorders clustered wherever there was money to be made. This was mostly a good thing because it got some people to think about what could be done with these types of illnesses and a few of them even began to look into what was going on with the patients in the asylums; if not for humanitarian reasons, then at least as experimental subjects.

During the later part of that century and the first two decades of the next, in central Europe a group of these practitioners attempted to piece together a scholarly synthesis of the conditions they had been hired to treat. Psychoanalysis was born and a revolution in treatment followed. They were wrong of course. They assumed that there was a defect in the mind that could be corrected by behavioral and environmental strategies such as actually talking to the patient in a way calculated to instill in the patient the belief that the analyst was really interested in the patients condition.

It was more a religion then a science in that, although it appeared to be on some level empirically descriptive, it was neither quantified nor particularly verifiable. (Some of the early associations of these practitioners even had rules that discouraged experimentation and often threw out any practitioner who did not precisely follow the association’s approved method of treatment.) Due, however, to its lavish use of metaphor and its complex description of human motivation, it did produce great art.

Also, the long-term interaction of the practitioner with the patient required by psychoanalysis and the subtle behavioral modification that were encouraged seemed to have had a mitigating effect on the severity and duration of the patient’s condition, much like bed rest has on a cold. It also was lucrative enough to attract the best and the brightest into the profession. This perhaps was its lasting impact because as a general rule the more people looking at a problem for whatever reason, the more likely you will find someone who actually figures out what to do about it.

By the middle of the Twentieth Century, due in part to the influx of specialists from Central Europe fleeing the horrors of that time and its incredible wealth, New York City became the center of the universe for psychiatric care. It was a time of great ferment and turmoil in the subject area. This concentration of money and expertise overflowed into the hospital system housing the mentally ill in New York State. Huge hospitals often containing the latest technology were built. Some of these hospital complexes were so large that in terms of population and land areas covered by buildings they could rank as small cities.

The patients in several large state run hospitals in a particular area would be sent there primarily from a central receiving hospital. Often the receiving hospital was associated with a medical school teaching hospital with a psychiatric treatment emphasis.

Police and family members would bring to the emergency rooms throughout the day and night individuals who appeared to be suffering no observable trauma or biological disease but who were clearly unable to care for themselves for some reason. After processing through the emergency room most were released and only the most disturbed were admitted to the wards.

By the following morning they each would be interviewed by the chief psychiatric resident at a meeting attended by other members of the hospitals medical and psychiatric staff as well as the institutions social service and administrative staff who would then decide whether to readmit them to the wards of the teaching hospital for a short-term stay, send them on to the appropriate state hospital for long-term care or release them.

One could be involuntarily incarcerated for mental illness, drug dependency and alcoholism. One had certain rights for a hearing regarding incarceration. But, what patient would ever know what those rights were? There was also a belief in a history of callous indifference to the welfare of the patients once they were admitted. Hence the Mental Health Information Service was created to remedy these concerns and to bring to the patients some semblance of understanding of their legal rights to both freedom as well as adequate medical treatment.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tales of Inhumanity:

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

A young woman writes:

“The Germans usually attacked us at night. Now they are expanding their attacks to the daytime as well. We must maintain absolute silence on our bunks so that the enemy will not discover us.

I am going out into the street. The streets – Mila, Zamenhof, Kurza, Nalewki, Lubecki – all are on fire. Workshops, apartments, stores, entire houses are burning. The ghetto is nothing more than a sea of flames.

A very strong wind is blowing, which fans the fire and carries the sparks from the burning houses to those that have not yet caught fire.

The fire destroys everything. The sight is horrifying, shocking. The fire spreads so quickly that people cannot escape from the buildings and they perish tragically. People with bundles run from house to house, from street to street. There is no salvation; no one knows where to hide. They search in desperation but there is no deliverance, no refuge, death rules everything.

The walls of the ghetto are surrounded. No one goes out and no one comes in. Clothing is burning on people’s bodies. Screams of pain, sobbing. Everyone wants to be saved, everyone tries to save his own life.

People are choking from the smoke. All are begging for help. Most of them, almost all of them, cry out to God: “God, show your power, have mercy on us.” God is as silent as a Sphinx and does not answer. And you, the nations, why are you silent? Don’t you see that they want to annihilate us? Why are you silent?

Despite the danger, Jews are running through the streets just to save their lives. Everything is engulfed in fire. It looks like the end of the world has come. “Save yourselves if you can!” The situation is horrifying, terrible. Everyone wants to be saved. Hell has come to earth. Dante’s Inferno – it cannot be believed and it cannot be described.

A new day is beginning. With the new day, there is a deathly silence. People are in their corners without food or water. A cemetery in flames. The sound of metal falling and of burning walls collapsing is heard.

The ghetto is burning for the fourth day. All we see are chimneys standing and the frames of the houses that burned down. In the first moment, this spectacle arouses a shudder of horror: yes, this is the work of Hitler’s vandals, who hope that the entire world will look this way. There is no doubt that they will not succeed in this.

In our thoughts, we return to the past. We’ve lost many things. The only thing left to us is our hiding place. Of course, it is not a safe place.

We live the day, the hour, the moment.”

A few days later the following report was filed by Juergen Stroop:

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

B. Races do not exist, but Racism does:

Why Racism is Foolish from the Perspective of Modern Genetics.

“If you ask for your DNA profile today from a company that specialized in “DNA ancestry” what you will get is essentially a picture of the “origin” of the different segments on your chromosome, so you’ll see that this segment over here (which is known to code for the following 10 genes) is African, while that segment next to it (which is known to code for the following 16 genes) is Native American. This is the obvious consequences of crossing-over, of course.

Making this fact so obvious, so front-and-center has very interesting consequences. Most importantly, it makes it clear that while one can speak of “African genes” or “Northern European genes”, one cannot extrapolate from that to an “African person”, at least not in the context of the Americas where four hundred years of random interbreeding has occurred.

All one can mean by “African person” is a less careful way of saying “person whose appearance genes are African”. It was expected that there would be substantial clustering and correlation between genes but, again in the Americas, this turns out largely not to be the case, so you may have African appearance genes, but that does not translate into an especially high probability that you have African blood genes or liver protein genes or (if you insist on that sort of thing) African sport and neuro-anatomy genes. And vice versa — you may look as Euro as they come, but chances are there was at least one African somewhere in the past ten generations or so, and that African left his/her genes in you — not as a diluted out “1024th of the blood” but as very definite stretches of DNA coding for very definite proteins.

You may insist on your whiteness all you like, but when genomic medicine becomes real, and the test reveals that you carry the African version of oncoprotein 134A, are you going to demand that you be given the “Euro” version of your cancer drug, the one that attacks oncoprotein 134B?”
Maynard Handley http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/dana-golstein-attention-jason-richwine-youre-not-the-first-guy-to-wrongly-believe-immigrants-are-dumb.html#more

(Sigh, yet they still however will deny they are racists even though they believe, Mexicans are stupid, African-Americans shiftless, Arabs homicidal and Barak Obama is a Communist from Kenya.)

TODAY’S QUOTES:

A. A message from Al:

6683_529487887094092_2007033411_n

(The next time you are out having coffee with your ‘frens’ and are busily engaged with your smart phone, remember it is probably already too late to do anything about Albert’s warning…. or to put it another way, welcome to our generation.

Recently I had lunch with a young woman acquaintance of mine. She spent most of our time together showing me all the wonderful applications on her iPhone. I was doubly jealous. Jealous that I did not have a cool iPhone with thousands of applications and jealous that she found the damned phone more interesting than me.)

B. Freedom:

“Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them…and those who feel no need to control themselves.”
by Sirenus

TODAY’S CHART:

obama-budget-1.png

(What this chart means is that after Hillary Clinton becomes President in 2016, she may find herself ranked as among the greatest Presidents in the nation’s history for having the ability to lower taxes and raise social expenditures while cutting the deficit and running a fiscal surplus, all because of the provisions contained in Barak Obama’s current budget. I am sure the Republicans will fight to the death to prevent this.)

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:

falsebalance-1

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1245

The Duck Pond in Summer.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Joey 0002 (April 9, 2013)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BERKELEY:

The medical procedure to remove the filter inserted in my vein to catch loose clots turned into something of a farce. Arriving at the hospital at 7:30 AM, I was soon stripped of clothing, interviewed at length by hospital security regarding valuables and poked and prodded for various tests. About an hour and a half later following questions from the nurse regarding medications and subsequent discussions with the operating doctor and my primary care physician it was determined that the operating doctor’s instructions to both me and my regular doctor were wrong and that I had to stop taking the meds for at least 24 hours. So I left and returned to my sister’s house.

At 10 AM the next day, the appointment time given to me by the treating physician, I arrived at the hospital and sat in the waiting room for about two hours. No one could explain why I had to wait.

Finally I went through the same various tests and procedures I had gone through the day before. This time for some reason they could not find a working vein for extracting blood for my blood work and for attaching the IV’s. So they explored. At least seven times they inserted the needles into my body and rooted around to find some blood.

The operation itself was anti-climatic taking all of about one minute to dope me up, slice into my neck and remove the filter.

Following the operation, the anesthesiologist showed me the filter. It was about an inch long and equally wide and looked a lot like a metallic spider. She pointed out a clot imbedded among the tines. She also said the she was certain she had seen me before. I assured her that that was unlikely.

Against the doctors orders, I decided to drive directly back to Sacramento. So I picked up Hayden and our luggage at my sister’s house and left.

During the drive I explained to Hayden that he had to make sure I did not fall asleep due to any residual effects of the anesthesia. So we played “What am I thinking.” A game I learned from the Dalls as something they used on long drives to divert their children. At one point, during a lull in the game I mentioned to H. that talking was a good thing to do to keep me awake.

He said:

“In that case, there is something you should know about me. I am really an alien from Cluton sent here by my parents. That is why I act like I do. I have three hearts and five stomaches one of which is dedicated exclusively to digesting fish smoothies. I also have three butts one of which I lost during the Butt Wars which we lost and is why my parents sent me here to earth. I am filled with ‘joy bubbles’ which allow me to float in air or water if I want. You should also know that music makes me crazy.”

With that he turned on the radio to a music station and acted…well crazy until finally and thankfully he shut the radio off.

Who knew?

(A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.)

Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of “This and that…” would permit them to fall within the class of no one.

We arrived at the house in El Dorado Hills at about 9PM. I turned the Clutonian over to Dick and put myself to bed.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

A Thai Comments on his Society:

Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most widely read english language daily newspaper wrote some time ago:

“Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.”

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: Everybody has something to conceal.

Chapter Eleven:

While my minder and putative student, the ex-delinquent Joe Vu, drove us off toward the library, I leaned back in my seat and tried to think. As is often the case the first thoughts to enter my mind were about money. In two days I collected almost $5000 dollars for little more effort than taking a shot to the jaw and having to change my clothing.

My second thought was about sex. In most cases it was usually the first. I did not know why it wasn’t that now. It certainly was not Mavis’ fault. The tattooed lady, my client, brought with her a perversity in the bedroom that one usually had to pay for. Still I wondered how much I was going to end up paying anyway.

Finally I got around to the case. What did I know about Holland and Reilly? They were hooked up in something, drugs still remained the most probable, along with Vihn, Mavis and God knows who else. They were missing and a lot of people were looking for them.

People look for other people for three reasons, money, sex or guilt. I don’t think any of the seekers here are feeling particularly guilty about the missing individuals. As for sex, Mavis seems quite able to satisfy herself and does not appear to be the jealous type. And, unless Reilly was shtupping his wife or girlfriend, Martin Vihn’s interest in him on that score made no sense unless he was a finocchio in heat – which I doubt. Whoever was running the Elephant Boys could have had a thing for Mark; extreme but still possible but highly unlikely given everything else that has gone on.

That leaves money. Someone has it and someone else wants it. Extortion seems possible but remote. So that means either Reilly or Holland have the money or information that leads to money and Mavis, Martin Vihn and the mysterious third party think they should have all or part of it. Nothing earth-shattering there or even useful.

I clearly will not get from either Mavis or Martin Vihn much about what the deal that somehow went bad and started all this was all about.

And what about the Two Ton Twins? Who were they working for?

Was someone else involved in the deal or somehow learned of it. On the other hand, maybe Reilly was the Tubby Tots boss and in hiding while for some reason looking for Holland.

Of course none of this really mattered. I was confident Reilly would show up whenever he finished with whatever else he was doing. I could rely on that. Vihn however scared me.

I knew I had to look good to my minder Joe Vu since he will report anything I do to Martin Vihn. That was annoying but probably not too difficult. If I just rooted around a lot and looked like I was working on finding Reilly I figured I could skate by. But what can I do to look like I was doing something? The only person in this mess that I knew about who I had not spoken to was Lilly Park. Meeting with her I decided would be something that would show Vihn I was on the job.

I did not worry about the long-term commitment I made to Vihn. I guessed once Reilly was found Marty would probably not want to continue to keep me on the tab at $1000 a month. Still it was good pay even if it was from a gangster. At least I thought he was a gangster. Even if he were a gangster he couldn’t be much worse that the so-called captain’s of industry that were my ex-law firm’s clients.

I turned to my smiling driver and said, “Joe?”

Joe: “Yeah boss – you finished doing number two now?

Me: “Huh?

Joe: “You know, the thinking thing.”

Me again: “Oh, yeah…uh…Not yet. But I’d like to know – what does Marty do for a living?”

Joe: “Never let him know you called him Marty. He hates that name.”

Me: “I’ll remember that. So what business is Martin Vihn in”

Joe: “You don’t want to know boss. Let’s just say he is in the import-export business.”

Me: “Are drugs part of that import-export business?”

Joe: “You don’t need to know that boss. Is this part of detecting?”

Me: “It is always good to know something about your client.”

Joe: “Believe me you know enough boss. Do you carry a gun? Detectives carry guns don’t they?”

Me surprised: “Not all do. I hate guns. Don’t carry one.”

Joe: “That’s OK.” He then reached over, opened the glove compartment and pulled out a black automatic pistol. “I have one just in case.” He waved it around.

Me shouting: “Shit! Put that back. You could hurt someone.” In fact, the only person I worried about being shot was me. I was always somewhat equivocal about gun control; not really caring who shot who or why – except kids of course. But I figured if a gun was discharged in my vicinity inevitably I would be the one shot. So I was willing to support gun control – not that I did anything about it except sign sidewalk petitions when I had nothing better to do and if there was a good-looking woman pushing the petitions.

Joe laughing: “OK boss.” He put the thing back into the glove compartment. “What are we looking for at the library?”

He had me there. Going to he library was the first thing that came into my mind to say in order to look like I was doing something. I had no idea where to begin looking for Reilly . Said, “I need to use their computers and reference library to begin tracking down Reilly.” That was the best I could come up with. What I really needed somewhere private to call Mavis. I could have gone home but I had no intention of letting Vu know where I lived.

When we arrived at the library I told Vu to drop me off, find a place to park and meet me in the reference room. That would get rid of him for a while and I could call Mavis without him listening in. Maybe I also could slip out of the place without him finding me.

I got out of the car and went into the building.

The new Main Branch of the San Francisco Public library was built about a decade or so ago and touted as one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the world. What that ment was that except for rooms dedicated to each of the more politically sophisticated interest groups at the time it was notably deficient in books on display. These were mostly locked away in stacks in the cavernous basements of the building, available to order. Like most of those who ardently supported the building of the library, I had never been in it. I had no idea where the reference room was located or even if there was one.

As soon as I got into the building I called Mavis and reprised my telephone call to her of yesterday without the shouting. I was in a library after all.

She said: “Oh yeah, Vihn. I forgot about him.”

Me, voice rising: “Forgot about him?”

Mavis: “Listen honey, I am in the middle of doing a customers back. He wants a jungle scene like mine and I’m in the middle of it. He grabbed my ass so I’m hiding a penis in the bushes.” She giggled. Continued: “We’ll talk more about it tonight. See ya, sweetie.” and she hung up.

I stood there looking at the phone when I heard, “Find what you’re looking for boss?”

Answered: “Uh… no. Let’s go.”

On the way to where he parked the car, I turned to Vu, said, “Look I’m exhausted. It’s late and I’m going home. I need to do more thinking. We’ll start again early tomorrow. I’ll walk from here.”

“No need boss, I’ll drive you.”

Clearly he was not going to let me get away that easy.

I directed him to the Utah Hotel on Fourth and Bryant. It was a low-cost single room occupancy hotel with an interesting bar on the ground floor. Told him I rented a long-term suite on the top floor. It was two blocks from my loft.

During the ride I asked him if he knew Lily Park. He indicated that she was one of Vihn’s attorney’s. Then he spent some time describing her looks and her body and explaining what he would do with the latter if he were given a chance to do so.

I said: “Was Martin Vihn fucking her?”

Joe: “I don’t know. All the ladies seem to like him. But he’s pretty cool about that.”

Me: “Is he gay?”

Joe laughing: “Fuck man you can get us both killed for even thinking that.”

When we arrived in front of the hotel, Vu turned to me and asked in all seriousness, “Is there anything I should be studying to learn about the detective business?”

I was taken aback. Thought as quickly as I could, said, “When you get home, go on line and watch the movie “The Maltese Falcon.” The version starring Humphrey Bogart. You ever seen it?”

“No,” but I heard of the Bogart guy, same as the old guys say when you slop up a blunt.”

“Yeah. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Meet me here at 9:30”

I got out of the car and walked into the hotel, waited a few minutes, went back out, checked to see that he had left and having satisfied myself that he had, walked home down Fourth Street.

DAILY FACTOID:

2012: 132 people provided over 60% of all the money contributed to political PAC’s in the US that year. That is only 0.000042 percent of the nation’s population.

(I strongly doubt any one of those 132 people gave that money without expecting something in return.

If you’re a politician, and you spend between 30 and 70 percent of your time begging for funds for the next election cycle, as American politicians do … who you gonna call? What are you going to offer them for their money?

There are 535 elected officials in Congress. They in effect work for those 132 people even though we, the rest of the 300 or so million Americans, pay their salaries.)
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

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(What does it say about a society that accepts that some fortunate few would become even richer while the rest of that society becomes poorer?)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

Review of Blood Sport, by Robert F. Jones, a re-issue of one of the greatest “mens” coming of age novels ever written:

“The best look at life as a man and the best description of (necessary?) madness ever put in print, there’s simply nothing like this book, nothing nowhere, nohow. R.F. Jones wrote a ‘lost’ masterpiece back in the 70s and I am SO glad to see it back in print. I can start giving it to the weak and the strong again, it’s good for what ails all of ’em. This saga of a man and his son’s journey up the Hassayampa river, complete with exotic mixed grill, tourist traps and deadfalls, madness, mau-maus and Ratnose qualifies as a defining point in Mens Fiction of the latter 20th century. Let me repeat that, this is fiction for Men. No one get their politically correct undies in a wad, that was just a fair warning, the last you’ll get around here. Anybody whining after that was said, Ratnose throws to the dogs. The point is, you’re on your own up the Hassayampa, and that’s a big hint. Come on along, anybody interested, you’ll figure out whether you need something you ain’t got soon enough. The bunch of yez, load your pockets with ammo and jerky, check the knife in your boot and start steppin’. See what’s waiting for you up the river. Something different waiting for everyone, a vision quest that will end or it won’t, maybe just a new assessment of your foodchain pecking order. The Hassayampa giveth and it taketh away. You’ll see what I mean, just look at the flotsam floating by, mastadons and marlin, atlatls and motorbikes. You’re checking your backtrail? Then you’re as ready as you’ll ever be. What’re you waiting on? The water’s just fine. It told me so it’s own self.”

(Anyone interested in learning what lies at the dark heart of maleness should read this book. Anyone who wants to understand why I believe it is time for men to step aside and women take over should read this book. The Hassayampa has been covered over and turned into a parking lot. The male myth is dead. Ratnose has retreated to where the gods of Olympus now dwell. No longer will men look into his eyes and duel with fly rods for the souls of their sons.)

C. Tales of Inhumanity.

Samuel Zylberstein:

“They packed 120 people into a boxcar designed for 20 people or 10 horses. The doors were slid shut and sealed, the windows boarded up and covered with barbed wire. We stood crammed inside the closed box, each person glued to the next, forming a single mass. We could not raise our hands or make the slightest movement.

Terrible scenes took place in the cars between people who had been condemned to death, people who had lost their wits. Everyone tried pushing through to the door or window to find a crack, just to get a gulp of air. Some were sobbing, others fainted, but there was no room for them to fall. Their bodies simply stayed in place, pressed between our own.

All desperate cries and sobs were in vain. No help was coming; no help could come. Human feelings disappeared; we were no longer human. The stronger tried to break away to climb over the heads of the others, to win a little space so they could see outside.
Some were shouting, “I have to look outside! I have to see where they’re taking me! I know this road. I’m not going to the gas chamber! I’m going to jump from the train! Live or die by a bullet! No gas for me! It’s the strongest who’ll survive!”

The engines pulled slowly as the train rolled on toward the victims’ doom. The cars were guarded on both sides. Ukrainians were lying on the roof. Sometime during the night people standing by the cracks in the window claimed they were taking us to Treblinka. The prisoners began to panic.

Someone pried up a board and a few people tried to jump from the train, but unfortunately no one managed to escape. The murderers kept the entire route lit with spotlights, so they’d be sure not to miss anyone who attempted to get away. A friend of mine who was in the car asked me to hold his coat while he jumped and then throw the coat after him. I watched him: No sooner had he jumped than he was hit. His coat was riddled by bullets as well.
Every time someone jumped, all the Ukrainians up and down the train started shooting at once. Occasionally the train would stop and start again, leaving behind a trail of corpses.

In the middle of the night they started shooting into the cars through the windows. The lucky ones were hit and killed. They were free. We could no longer stand it – the crowding, the stench, the unbeatable thirst; we were covered with sweat and blood, the blood of our brothers.

We did what we could to gain a little calm during our last hours. Our limbs had grown stiff we couldn’t straighten our arms. Our brothers’ blood was on our clothes; we couldn‘t wipe it of and had to use our teeth to tear the garments off one another’s body. Then we stood naked inside the crowded, stinking car. The thirst was indescribable; we tried using our tongues to wet each others lips.
Toward dawn our car became less crowded: about 40 people were already dead, most killed by Ukrainian bullets fired through the walls. We tried to clean up so as not to trample their bodies. Now we were a little more “comfortable,” at least able to sit down on the blood-covered floor, but with every passing kilometer our fear and despair grew.

A panic broke out when we reached Malkinia: “Listenl They’re going to run us straight from the cars to the gas chambers! O God, O God, where are you!”

What they saw through the cracks took the last hope away from those who still had any illusions. People tore their hair, scratched at their faces, and broke their fingernails. That’s what the last minutes are like before a gruesome death in the gas chamber.
But ten men in our car could count themselves happy; ten jews were treated kindly by fate. “Now is the time, comrades,” said Dr. Mantel. “We have a little more room.” Ten young healthy people sat together on the blood-stained floor. They kissed one another, said their farewells, and then swallowed a dose of cyanide.

One minute later nine more bodies were lying in the car. The tenth was not affected; his dose must have been insufficient. Oh, you happy people! You no longer have to suffer, no longer have to bear the terrible hell that we must face. They can poison you with gas and burn you all they want, but you will be numb to the suffering.

Everyone envied those nine souls.

Of 120 people locked inside the car, 37 were still alive when the train arrived at the platform.”
(Excerpted from Brad DeLong’s Journal.)

TODAY’S QUOTES:

POOKIE’S PUERILE EPIGRAMS:

1. Consciousness is nothing more than post hoc rationalization.

2. Humans are not rational animals, but rationalizing ones.

3. Consciousness is whatever one tells oneself to keep away the darkness.
TODAY’S CHART:

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TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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The Duck Pond in El Dorado Hills

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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