Posts Tagged With: Bangkok

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

 

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

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NAGA
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AKHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_2206Cordt, Scott, and LM

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

The First Centuries:

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

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

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

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

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

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

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

Biblical marriage:

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

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

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A.Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

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

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

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

 

B. Today’s Poems:

Steamboat Willie

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

The Avatar

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

1.Aline.

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

My response:

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

2. Peter.

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

Little Masseuse is perceptive.

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

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

Alternatively:

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

I assume Maryann is recovered, and Mendocino too.

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

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

Anon.

My response:

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

LM is usually right, unfortunately.

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

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

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

MaryAnn is getting better — Mendocino, not so much.

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

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

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

My response:

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

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Joey 0005 (April 13, 2016)

“If you find yourself thinking in circles, stop thinking.”
Wight, Will. Of Dawn and Darkness (The Elder Empire: Sea Book 2). Hidden Gnome Publishing.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:

So, I returned to Kirkwood with my grandson Anthony who was to give a skiing lesson to a truly remarkable three-year-old. I also met their equally remarkable parents, a Thai couple who fled Thailand to avoid an arranged marriage and spent weeks homeless in Detroit. He eventually got his engineering Master’s Degree and she completed her education also. At some point, they moved to California where she works at Stanford Hospital in the Neurology Department and he quit his job to become a full-time house-husband.
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We spent the evening in a comfortable cabin with a great view.
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Since then it has been back to the same old grind, in between driving HRM to and from school, I swim, nap, eat and read. Sometimes I drive HRM to his Flag Football games and to his Basketball training.
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One day, with little else to do, we visited The Serpentarium to search out a replacement for Puff the Bearded Dragon.

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Not at night, however, is my existence so peaceful. My dreams are not nightmares since there is no fire breathing mare bearing down on me, no fear of injury or death, just hopelessness and a suffocating frustration. I drift, not knowing if I am awake or not until I hear my heartbeat and feel the room around me.

A few posts ago, I wrote a poem, The Night of the Succubus. While I drift in my half-wakened state, I feel as though I had just encountered it in those dreams leaving me exhausted and disturbed. Often I cannot get back to sleep for hours. Strangely, unlike my usual dreams they disappear from my memory almost instantly when I wake up — gone without leaving a story behind, only dread.

A few days ago, I realized that a memory I had cherished was fake. Many years ago I lived in Little Italy in New York City, on the top of a seven-story walk up while attending Law School. After I passed the bar and began to try cases, whenever I would win at trial (and I always did) in the nearby law courts, I would walk to Vincent’s for a dish of Calamari covered their hottest hot sauce (it was almost purple) and begin my drinking for the night. Little Italy, where I also remember nights walking down the steps to the mob run Blue Grotto for Lobster Fra Diavola and fried mozzarella.

I also carried other memories of Little Italy — its tiny restaurants in a covered bazaar with Chinese produce markets next door — travels with my grandfather to meet relatives on a side street, Mafiosi all, silent unsmiling men and stern-faced women. These last two memories I realized were only dreams I thought were real. Dreams I had carried throughout my adult life as real to me as anything I had experienced. Gone now.

Will my memories, one by one, prove to be fakes and disappear until none remain when I die? Perhaps it’s that I have been dreaming about these past few days.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto — Update.

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About 4 years ago, I wrote a series of humorous and not so humorous posts about us, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, that we, in a fit or pathological grandiosity named ourselves and that can be translated as Wise Wise Men, Very Smart Guys, Wise wise Guys, Smarty Smarty Pants, Smart Asses and so on. We needed to repeat Sapiens twice because we discovered guys, way back when, who looked pretty much exactly like us but seemed to be not so smart so we added another Smart to make sure no one confused us with them. And, before I forget, we called ourselves Homo, Man, and not human or men and women, or us even, because in the beginning, most of this stuff was written by men who liked to use a dead language to show that they were very smart and you weren’t and that women were not men and not worth a fig.

The previous posts were prompted by some new scientific discoveries about these wise guys and girls that had blown the minds of the Latin-spouting smarty, smarty pants (Homo Sap. Saps.) The first discovery was that although there were a number of what the Latin-spouting smarty pants named Homo something or other living at the time Smarty, smarty pants dropped by, such as, Homo floresiensis [Flower man from Borneo or someplace like that. Only three feet tall and perhaps an early Leprechaun or Hobbit]; Homo Erectus [Erect man — don’t think to hard about this]; Homo tsaichangensis [The guys from Taiwan]; Homo neanderthalensis [The big German guys]; Homo rhodesiensis [Our man in Rhodesia or Zimbabwe]; Homo sapiens idaltu [Fairly smart folks from Ethiopia {Tall too}]; Archaic Homo sapiens [Cro-Magnon or not so wise old people] and Red Deer Cave people [your guess is as good as mine], there lived someone in a cave in a God forsaken part of Russia, without a Latin name. Well, this shook everyone up who was into this sort of thing. After all, who knows how many people were out there at that time without Latin names. Anyway, they gave her and her people the temporary name Denisovans after the God-forsaken cave they found her in entertaining some big Germans and Wise Wise Men and who knows what else.
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Oh, and by the way she was obviously a her and that’s really when the bones began to hit the fan.

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Deni Denisova herself.

You see, at about the same time, DNA sequencing (similar to NSA spying but smaller) became all the rage and someone decided to do a DNA sequencing on Deni’s (my name for her) knucklebone and tooth, about all of her they found, to see if they could discover something and become famous on social media. And oh did they find something!
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Deni’s Tooth — One can tell by the state of her tooth Deni chose another profession over becoming a dental hygienist.

First, we have to understand that perhaps three or four hundred years ago some guy living in Europe decided it would be good and perhaps even biblical to give all living things Latin names. And it would be even better to divide them between those that looked a lot alike but each thought the other was so ugly they did not want to breed unless it was closing time and they were both blind drunk and if they did, their children, if there even were some, would be so screwed up they would avoid bars altogether. These they called species another Latin word meaning species. For example, in the Genus (see below) that includes Horses, Donkeys, and Zebras, we know that horses find donkeys as ugly and sin and vice versa, but should they be forced into it would produce an unwanted bundle of joy that would be a mule and have no Latin name and no prospects.

The other word was genus which meant all the species that looked more alike than they looked like others. Then they gathered all these genuses into something called Families for some reason and Families into other Latin names and so on. But, we do not have to concern ourselves with that now.

So, what was the surprise? Well, even though my old college professor Carroll Quigley said it was not so, most of the Latin namers believed the various Homo’s ( By the way, having realized that more than half of the members of the species were not men which is what the Latin word homo means they tried very hard to make amends by insisting Homo really meant “human or something else or changing it to something like hominoid (mannoid) all of which remains, at best, problematical solutions to repairing bruised egos.) Anyway, they believed these species thought each other unredeemablely ugly and so avoided having children with them or at best played lonely shepherd in the night.

Well, low and behold, what they discovered was that Deni was keeping a cave for more than just getting in out of the cold. Not only was Deni offering her services to those hunky but low brow Germans, but us, or at least our long dead grandparents as well. Later, we discovered our long ago grandmothers and grandfathers were doing it with the Hunky Germans and God knows who else also. It seems that about 60,000 years ago those caves were the hookup bars of the Stone Age.
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It was bad enough to find out that our ancient grandparents did not honor family values but that the parts of our genes our brawny cousins gave us were often the best, like our immunological resistance. Since it was not too long after this that our cousins disappeared, it perhaps could be argued that the portions of DNA we gave them was similar in effect to the small-pox the Europeans gifted the Native Americans with.

Since then there have been additional developments, perhaps not so momentous, but those will have to wait for my next post.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Some have asked where the name Pookie came from. I have explained that when HRM was a little over one-year-old, I used to call him ‘pookie’ whenever I came home from work. He, thinking I was saying my name, began calling me Pookie. So the name stuck to me and not to him.

But that begs the question — What is a Pookie? Well perhaps it comes from the old Irish word Pooka (or Phouka or Puca)

THE POOKA (PHOUKA, PUCA)
Pooka
Pooka

No fairy is more feared in Ireland than the pooka. This may be because it is always out and about after nightfall, creating harm and mischief, and because it can assume a variety of terrifying forms.

The guise in which it most often appears, however, is that of a sleek, dark horse with sulfurous yellow eyes and a long wild mane. In this form, it roams large areas of the countryside at night, tearing down fences and gates, scattering livestock in terror, trampling crops and generally doing damage around remote farms.

In remote areas of County Down, the pooka becomes a small, deformed goblin who demands a share of the crop at the end of the harvest: for this reason several strands, known as the ‘pooka’s share’, are left behind by the reapers.

In parts of County Laois, the pooka becomes a huge, hairy bogeyman who terrifies those abroad at night; In Waterford and Wexford, it appears as an eagle with a massive wingspan; In Roscommon, it appears as a black goat with curling horns.

The mere sight of the Pooka may prevent hens laying their eggs or cows giving milk, and it is the curse of all late night travelers as it is known to swoop them up onto its back and then throw them into muddy ditches or bog-holes. The pooka has the power of human speech, and it has been known to stop in front of certain houses and call out the names of those it wants to take upon its midnight dashes. If that person refuses, the pooka will vandalize their property because it is a very vindictive fairy.

The origins of the pooka are to some extent speculative. The name may come from the Scandinavian pook or puke, meaning ‘nature spirit’. Such beings were very capricious and had to be continually placated or they would create havoc in the countryside, destroying crops and causing illness among livestock. Alternatively, the horse cults prevalent throughout the early Celtic world may have provided the underlying motif for the nightmare steed.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Two great lies.

“If you work harder you will have a better life” — For some perhaps but probably not you. For society as a whole, however, every time we passed the threshold where working longer and harder were required, such as during the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions, the health, happiness and yes even wealth of the mass of people declined. Those who worked less, royalty, administrators, merchants and military fared much better. But, some would point out, there were far more of us. A questionable benefit if there ever was one.

“If we work harder our children will have a better life.” Again yes for some, but historically for most, the benefits were short-lived and eventually most of the children lived worse lives.

So what does this mean? Work less, spend more time with your families and friends, live frugally replacing things with experiences, have fewer children with more adults caring for and loving them.

B. Today’s Poem:

I Am Not Old

I am not old…she said
I am rare.
I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.
I am the retrospective
Of my life as art
I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense
I am the fullness
Of existing.
You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found
I am a treasure.
I am a map.
And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey
Ask me anything.
~ Samantha Reynolds ~

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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The Death of Cleopatra, painted by somebody with an overwrought imagination.

 

Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Pookie 0004 (December 7, 2015)

 

“People don’t do things for big ideas. They do it for personal reasons, then justify their actions with moral arguments.”
Hertling, William. The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) (p. 120). liquididea press.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Back in Bangkok the monsoons seem to be ending, the skies are clearing and the temperature relatively moderate. I had dinner with Gary, Pui and their irrepressible four-year-old GJ in a pretty good restaurant on Soi 8 named Bek5.
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GJ with an unnamed young lady.

On most days, after mornings at the health club followed by a massage at Gary’s Silk Spa on Soi 13, I have lunch at a tiny restaurant near my apartment followed by a brief walk until the heat gets to me.
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The restaurant on Soi Nana

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Soi Nana a short distance from my apartment.

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A nearby Klong (canal).

I then return to my apartment and nap the afternoon away while LM works on the knitted wool hats that she sells to tourists on the downtown sidewalks (or, more often than not, to me).
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Sometimes she wakes me up to model them.
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Nikki arrived in Bangkok for a two-day stay. He suggested dinner at a restaurant on the Chao Phraya River across from the Temple of Dawn. We took a taxi there with a driver who assured us he knew the way. After circling the Royal precincts, at least, four times and asking innumerable other taxi drivers and pedestrians, we figured out that he was hopelessly lost. We exited the taxi near the palace grounds, found our way to a hotel and asked for directions. The restaurant was just a few steps away down an alley we had passed several times. At least, we got to see the Palace and Wat Po lit up at night and the elaborate light displays in celebration of the Kings birthday.
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A street scene near the Palace parade grounds.

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Wat Po at night.

The restaurants were on a dock first used by the palace to receive construction materials and later by the British for their Imperial commercial ventures. There were two restaurants one slightly more upscale than the other. We chose the more modest establishment and were delighted with the view of the temple, the river, and the brightly lit dinner cruise boats drifting by.
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Nikki modeling his new knitted cap with the designer watching.

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A pink dinner cruise ship passing the Temple of Dawn.
Near our apartment there runs an elevated bicycle, motorbike and walking trail that extends from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center near Asoke, along a fetid canal and through the remnants of one of Bangkok’s legendary slums to peter out somewhere near Wireless Road not far from the American embassy. I like to walk along there early in the evening when it is cooler and sit by the lake at the convention center to watch the bikers or joggers pass by or walk above the ramshackle neighborhood observing the street life below.
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Homes along the Klong.

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Bicyclists in the park
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The lake at the Convention Center park.

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A view of Klong Toey slums.

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Another view.
Then, with my suitcase filled with this year’s consignment of knitted caps for Christmas gifts, I left Bangkok.

The plane ride was not too bad. I slept through most of the 22-hour trip, ate woeful food and watched a couple of movies. As was my tradition, I did not speak to my seat-mate.

After arriving at SFO, I had lunch with Peter at a very nice place in Noe Valley followed a few hours later with a 50th birthday celebration for my son at another good restaurant in West Portal.

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After the party, we returned to Jason’s apartment where he insisted on filling me with vitamins, minerals, and other substances that he assured me would cure me of any sicknesses I may acquire, sharpen my mind, end athletes foot, lengthen my life and teach me how to play the piano. Convinced all it would do is kill me, I nevertheless swallowed it all confident that I was playing my assigned role in the eternal drama of parents giving up their lives for the happiness of their progeny. After this, my son and I discussed the mistakes we had made in our lives, offenses given and taken, whether libertarianism is superior to liberalism, the mastery of Stephan Curry and the plight of the 49rs. I awoke the next day at 3:20 in the afternoon to an empty apartment surprised that I was still alive or terrified that in life after death I was condemned to be confined eternally alone in the last place I had seen before expiring.

I quickly packed up my things and trundled off to the train that would take me back to the golden hills of El Dorado. On the train, I cried. Whether it was because I was terminally exhausted, tired of life or suffering through withdrawal, I did not know but soon decided I did not care because they all seemed the same.

B. THE OLD SAILOR/DEEP SEA DIVER/PIRATE’S STORY:

One morning as I lay on a lounge chair by the pool, the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver and perhaps Pirate stopped by to chat. He takes Aikido lessons at the health club and enjoys steam baths. He keeps the ashes of two friends in cigar boxes in his locker. Periodically, as they requested, he scatters their ashes in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute throughout South East Asia.

He reminisced about his life as a deep sea salvage driver and treasure hunter in the American Virgin Islands during the sixties and seventies.

Inspired by the movie Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he left his life of petty crime in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a government program to train underwater salvage and construction specialists.

After a few years, he found himself living in the Virgin Islands and along with about four or five others, made up an itinerant band of underwater salvage and construction workers — sort of a wet monkey-wrench gang without the social consciousness. He worked on the underwater construction of the St Thomas Airport, and also pipelines, gas lines, petroleum structures, in-situ aquariums and the like.

With his VW bus loaded with ten Scuba air containers, ten truck tire inner-tubes and a two-way radio, he prowled the island on behalf of the coast guard or various insurance companies lifting sunken boats using the inflated inner tubes or searching for saleable salvage.

At one time he and his friends competed with Mel Fischer to locate the Atocha. They searched around Marathon Island and Fischer between Key West and Tortuga. They found cannons and anchors, bottles and bones, but Fischer found the gold.

For a while, they supported themselves by every morning securing the hawsers over the bollards when the cruise ships arrived in port and releasing them when they sailed in the evening. They also searched the bottom of the sea for salvage, mostly anchors that they sold to boat owners and bottles they sold through consignment shops (blue bottles from the 19th Century and earlier were destined for apothecaries and usually held poisons).

At times, he also worked as a sailor, boat builder and sail maker. For two years, he crewed the Colgate heirs family yacht, a 150-200 ft three-masted schooner named the Lorelei Lee. But mostly, he caroused until he decided to travel around the Pacific (Including a stint in the merchant marine delivering supplies to the American troops in Viet Nam), often living the delightful life of a beach bum and eventually ending up in Bangkok in a single room of a downtrodden hotel where his walls are covered with wonderful photographs of his life and where he keeps a running list of friends who have died.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“It might be stated as a general rule that any organization functions only with and against those who accept its basic principles of organization and values.”
Carroll Quigley

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

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

C. Today’s Poem:

Night of the Succubus — Rhyming Couplets

It took me with its mouth and tongue.
It took me as though I were young.
It took me in the night.
It took me in my fright.
It took me till dawn was spread.
It took me till I was dead.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The Church had created the concept of the university and had established the first of them in the twelfth century. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk, was arguably the greatest mathematician of the thirteenth-century*. Bishop Robert Grosseteste was the first man to write down the necessary steps for performing a scientific experiment. Jesuits had built the first reflecting telescopes, microscopes, barometers, were first to calculate the constant of gravity, the first to measure the height of the mountains on the moon, the first to develop an accurate method of calculating a planet’s orbit, the first to devise and publish a coherent description of atomic theory.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (pp. 56-57). Random House Publishing Group.

*Gerbert, later Pope Sylvester II, was the greatest mathematician of the 10th Century.

Alas, shortly after this period of vibrant scientific exploration, the Church, in an effort to out intolerant the new religions of Europe’s north, shut down scientific inquiry for the next 400 years.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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A surprising image perched atop a bar near my apartment.

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 POOKIE 0004 (November 26, 2015)

 

“Wealth is power, and power is the only thing about which culture cares.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd ThomKoontz, Dean.as Novel (pp. 46-47). Random House Publishing Group.
HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY JASON.
CONGRATULATIONS BILL YEATES ON YOUR SUCCESS AT THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON.

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My granddaughter Amanda dressed for Halloween and posing with my 98-year-old mom.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

On November 11, I left the Golden Hills on the first leg of my return to Thailand. The light rail clawed its way into Sacramento where, after too long a wait, I boarded the train and scrabbled across the Great Valley toward San Francisco.

I spent the evening at Peter and Barrie’s. At a local restaurant, we had an excellent dinner accompanied by a good Sicilian Nero d’Avola wine. The next morning, Peter dropped me off at the airport and after about a day of varying levels of discomfort, I arrived in Bangkok at about 2AM. I do not recall having traveled through the City at this time in the morning before. Not that I haven’t. I may have. It’s just that I do not remember. The bars were mostly closed but the “street vender” bars were in full riot. Nana Plaza was eerily lightless, but the ladies and ladyboys of the night mingled with their patrons in a black seething mass that slopped out into the street.

I slept most of the next day. The few times I was awake the Little Masseuse would tell me stories. One was about an older man who lives in the country.

The old man’s story:

Every day the old man spends the daylight hours rummaging through garbage cans for food and other necessities. He especially searches for bits of electrical wire. In the evenings, through well past midnight, he melts down the bits of wire and burning off any coating. Every month, he produces a one-kilogram lump of copper that he sells for about $20, on which he augments his dumpster diving.

I try to swim every day at pool in the health club located in the Ambassador Hotel on Soi 11. The health club now includes a Muay Thai training facility to go with the pool, gym, racquetball courts, yoga rooms, Karate lessons and Chinese fan dancing instruction.
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Some parrots in the Ambassador Hotel’s extensive aviaries.

After swimming, I usually have a massage at my friend Gary’s spa (The Silk Spa) on Sukhumvit Soi 13. If you are in Bangkok give it a try. Especially experience the new two-person sauna that Gary built himself. Gary is Canadian, plays in an Ice Hockey League in Thailand and is often followed around by a precocious four-year-old named GJ.
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On Wednesdays, the Little Masseuse and I go to Terminal 21 to see a movie (Wednesday tickets are only $3 each.) Each floor of Terminal 21 is dedicated to a different city. The photograph below is part of the San Francisco display.

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After a week, we took a van to Jomtien Beach to spend a few days by the seashore. The ride was longer than usual. We seemed to go a different way than we usually do. We passed an attractive small lake and through the town of Sri Racha, neither of which I had seen before.

The small hotel we usually stay at was full so we found an even less expensive one for $17 per night.
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In the evenings, we walked along the beach.
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We also ambled along the seashore in the early mornings.
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On our walks along the beach, we were often accompanied by a small pack of beach dwelling Soi Dogs.
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Soi Dogs are the indigenous feral dogs of Thailand. They rarely bark or growl and skitter away if you come too close to them. The King of Thailand claims they are the country’s native dog and seeks AKC recognition for them.

One morning we came across a group of ladyboys overacting on the beach and frolicking topless in the water.
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The Good/Bad David joined us for lunch one day at a pretty good Mexican restaurant in the gay quarter of Jomtien Beach.
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The gay quarter is located in a lovely complex just off the main road to the beach. While the gay community still lived in shadow and in Thailand was the object of ridicule, the complex deteriorated. But now, acceptance of their life-style has rejuvenated the area. At night, it is quite joyful, if a bit startling when the rent boys call out and comment on your physical endowments as you walk by.
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For about three hours over margaritas, we exchanged stories. David kept us enthralled with tales about his life as a safety expert in the Jungles of Borneo and Nigeria and on the sands of Arabia in the employ of the plunderers of world’s billion-year solar energy reserve of hydrocarbons — stories about armed men and boats equipped with 50 cal machine guns — of sudden deadly explosions — of giant crocodiles and poisonous snakes — of days and nights living, under a sentence of death, in a fortified encampment. When not engaged in derring-do, he lives in Thailand where he relaxes in his own special way. If there were a Nobel Prize for hedonism, David would be a repeat winner.

Along with his other stories, David related the recent travails of Tina, a friend of us both and of whom we are fond.

Tina’s story:

Tina is a sex worker struggling to raise two children alone. Her daughter is now nine-years-old and her son twelve. In the past, she usually worked during the day and rushed home to greet them when they returned from school and to spend the evenings with them whenever she could. She now has reached that age where her appeal as a sex worker has diminished. At first, she toiled as a manager of a cocktail lounge called Heaven, when that did not work out, she opened a small bar of her own that failed. Now she walks the streets of Pattaya, her son watching over his sister in their small apartment until she comes home.
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Tina at Heaven.
After leaving David we passed an interesting place that contained an artists studio and gallery, bar, night club, restaurant and foot massage facility.
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We decided to enjoy a foot massage. The Masseur told us his story
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The Masseur’s Story:

It seems that a few years ago he found his dream job working as a Massage Therapist and rent boy at the Happy Massage parlor across the street. He enjoyed working there and was popular with the customers. Alas, over the years he put on weight and soon the customers no longer sought his services. So, he now has been relegated to working the sidewalk foot massage station across the street. He is very distressed by his current situation. Nevertheless, he gives a great foot massage.

One evening, we went for dinner at an Italian Restaurant we like in the gay quarter. Da Nicola is owned by a father and son from a town (Licata) in Sicily quite near that of my mother’s town (Canicatti). The father considers the wines from Canicatti the best in Sicily. He should know, the house wine in the restaurant, although from Australia, is excellent even though served a little too chilled. The food there is as good Italian food and pizza as you will find in the Pattaya area.
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David laughing at something while the Little Masseuse ignores him.
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The Owner of the Restaurant, LM with the pizza oven in the background.
A few days after returning from Jomtien Beach, my favorite Thai holiday, Loi Krathong, the festival of the lights with which the Thais welcome in the new year, was celebrated. Tiny boats made of flowers and festooned with lit candles are set afloat on the nearby waterways.
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We went to a lake near my apartment where thousands had gathered, bought our Krathongs and found a place by the lake to launch them.
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As we tried to light the candles, a strong wind suddenly struck making them impossible to light. The wind was quickly followed by a torrential downpour causing a panic among the thousands since most had not brought umbrellas. Everyone fled to try to squeeze into the various inadequate public transportation options (No one in their right mind would try to drive in Bangkok to something like this). All in all, the Festival of the Lights came to a dismal end.
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On Thanksgiving, I dined on a plate of pork fried rice garnished with cucumbers and onion shoots.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Only Sicilians Sit at the Table:

“Through the other window could be seen an empty table, apparently reserved for the sit-down. At the back, there was an espresso machine in the middle of the room, where the players occasionally refilled their little cups. Shortly before 9 p.m., Gross’s team arrived. Bayonne Joe Zicarelli left his companions to chat quietly with Nicky and Hicky. Gross nodded stiffly to the innkeepers. While they all were waiting, Hicky, the more serious hood, kept staring at Gross, who interpreted the glare as attempted intimidation. Then, the evening’s judge came walking slowly down the sidewalk, dignified looking, but overdressed for such warm weather in a heavy dark suit. His fedora looked much like Bayonne Joe’s, but the brim was snapped up, not down like Joe’s in gangster-movie style. The judge was Peter Crocciata, then in his 70s, known to police as a consiglieri or elder statesman in the Bonano crime family. As Crocciata approached, Nicky, Hicky, and Bayonne Joe moved quickly toward him. Each embraced him and kissed him on the cheek. Their haste made it seem as if more points would go to the hood who hugged him first. Judge and greeters went into the club, leaving the others outside. Marino and Vogedes stood by themselves, away from Gross and his allies, DiGilio, and Sinatra. They all could see the sit-down through the window, but they couldn’t hear what was being said. Gross quietly asked Sinatra why the principals weren’t inside–didn’t the judge want to get the story from the horse’s mouth? “Only Sicilians sit at the table,” Sinatra replied. “That’s how it’s done.””
Gangsters inc. http://z14.invisionfree.com/GangstersInc/index.php?showtopic=1097

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

.

One of my favorite people, the legendary stripper Carol Doda, has died. Before there were Kardashians there was Carol Doda — except Carol had talent. She could sing and dance. She had brains and heart and she was the first to open carry her forty-fours. She was the first topless stripper in San Francisco’s North Beach, a notorious scandal at the time. I got to know her long after her stripping career ended. She never stopped performing, singing now and then at clubs around town. I met her one evening when she was having dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, The Columbus Restaurant in North Beach. We had dinner there that night and many times thereafter. She was bluff, outspoken and canny, a joyful and entertaining dinner companion.

In her later years she opened up a tiny lingerie shop down a small alley off Union Street. I stopped by the lingerie shop every time I happened to be in the Union Street area in order to spend a few minutes chatting with her that inevitably turned into an hour or so. My daughter-in-law Annmarie indicated that she would send customers from her bridal store to Carol’s shop because she sold a special type of bra there. Everything about Ms. Doda was special. I hope she did not die alone. Rest in peace Carol.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“To get back to sovereignty and the structure of the state, another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial- managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The quickest way to lose power is to use it and not succeed.”

C. Today’s Poem:

We know this much
Death is an evil;
we have the gods’
word for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing
Sappho

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“My own decision to deal with man’s civilized history as a sequence of separate civilizations was based, in part, on a conviction that organizational and intellectual factors were at least as important as technological and economic forces in determining the history of any civilization, and that the ability of such a civilization to utilize the technical knowledge available to it, either from its own invention or from diffusion from other cultures, depends, to a great extent, on non-materialist factors, especially those associated with accepted outlook and organizational patterns.”
Ribeiro,The Civilizational Process.

 

Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Joe 0004 (July 31, 2015)

 

“You will never be the world. Other people will do as they will do and you will have to determine what you will do about that. That is your business.”
Cherryh, C. J. Tracker: A Foreigner Novel (Foreigner series) (p. 206). DAW.

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. A NIGHT IN AMMAN JORDAN:

I decided to fly to Bangkok on Royal Jordanian Airlines with a long stop-over in Amman because of the frisson of excitement in flying near a war zone, the price and the long layover that I thought would allow me to spend a few hours in the city, having dinner and viewing some of the sights. When I arrived the complications of finding my way through the airport, customs and transportation forced me to give up that plan. However, behind transfer desk a man informed told me that the airline allowed me to spend the layover at the local Marriott for free including a meal. “No tips,” he added. I surmised that that was an invitation for baksheesh discussions.

The hotel was about three or four miles from the airport and stood alone in the desert. The sun was still shining and I could see what I thought was the outskirts of Amman on the horizon. Everything else was low sand dunes traversed by a couple of roads. The desert had a slight floral scent that differed from the woody scent of the deserts in the American southwest. I had a first class room, a good meal a shower and a welcome sleep. I even enjoyed the baksheesh negotiations.

I took no photographs, alas. However knowing that some of you prefer the pictures to the writing, I have included a photo of Dubai from the air. Dubai was my alternative layover to Amman. I’m happy with my choice.
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Perhaps on my next trip, I will spend an extra day or two in Amman and visit Petra — another bucket list item.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

My last few posts were more or less a travelogue in two to three sentence bites. No matter how I tried to alter the chronology or slip in irrelevant stories, the travel through a place or between places remained foremost.

Bangkok, however, is my home (at least one of them for the time being), and no matter how exotic it may or may not be, the place becomes mere background to my daily experiences. I eat, sleep, exercise and so on. Every now and then as I go about my day something I see or experience interests me, but rarely temples, art or ceremonies.
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For example, I took HRM to the Aquarium in the basement of the Paragon Shopping Center.
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Another day we went to a snow park.
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A few days ago I met at Donut World with the old sailor and his friend an economist for coffee, donuts, and talk. The economist had just had his prostate removed. We, despite the camaraderie, looked at each other through the frightened hollow eyes of those who finally realize the last roundup is near to hand.

The old sailor has been a professional deep sea diver, a sailor, a treasure hunter and perhaps a pirate. He keeps two dead bodies in his locker at the health club (at least their ashes which he, at the deceased’s request, spreads in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute around the world). HRM spent a pleasant morning looking at photographs of the old sailors career.

I have two new shirts now. One primarily white I consider my day and formal summer outfit. The other, a Tommy Bahama design given to me by Nikki who bought it in China, is my night and formal winter attire.
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I live by one of Bangkok’s major tourist attractions, Nana Plaza. At lot of things go on there that the government denies
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This is a photograph of Soi Nana. I live at the other end of the street. Nana Plaza is on the left.
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Looking in the opposite direction across Sukhumvit Road is Arab Town.
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It looks a lot like Soi Nana until you get close. A lot of Bangkok is like that.
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Sometimes I vary my walk to the Health Club by going down an alley.
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The health club has a new manager. He comes from Australia. He promises to make the place one of the premier health clubs in the city. In the meantime for the past three weeks, he cannot make up his mind as to whether members are to be allotted one or two towels per day.

On most days, I have breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Foodland and then walk through the dark little alley to the health club. The alley now has a bar catering to Africans. It is loud and cramped. Not to be outdone the Burmese bar next door has turned up the volume of the music. Everyone is dancing as I try to squeeze through the gyrating bodies and grasping hands.
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When one is living in a place and retired like me, almost anything that breaks the routine I can find interesting. Today we spent five hours at a local university dental school mostly observing the wonderfully bizarre procedures that needed to be completed before I could have my teeth cleaned. After that, we had a foot massage. I then went back to the apartment and took a nap.
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At the university pointing at something.

Tomorrow I go to Paradise by the Sea one mile from the Outskirts of Hell for a reunion of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table at a place called Heaven or maybe not since Heaven was busted by the Thai cops a few weeks ago.

We stayed where we usually stay at a small hotel called “Bamboo” because of the bamboo plants in front of the place that have overgrown their planter pots. It was started a few years ago by a German Gay couple and seems to be the best-maintained hotel on the block. The Little Masseuse (now retired) managed to negotiate the price down from $30 a night to 20 by pleading that I was not a rich old American, but a poor sick old man. As proof, she argued that I must be poor for hanging out with an unattractive sixty plus year old lady like her instead of a beautiful 30-year-old. She still thought it was too much to pay for a room and urged my to stay at a place $8 cheaper where you had to sleep on the floor. I told her my current penury is not such that I must descend to that level of discomfort. She believes paying more than $1.50 for dinner is irresponsible.
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That night the Good/Bad David, Bill G., a young attorney from Bill’s firm who had never visited Thailand before, Dennis and I strolled along the Walking Street in the Outskirts of Hell where we ran into HRM, his mom, her latest financier, and their driver. I took HRM to the Muay Thai fights a little way along the street where one of his favorite fighters was performing.
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HRM scores a punch and a kick on the champion.

After seeing off HRM and his entourage, Bill and his crew and I visited one of his GoGo bars on Soi Six. I left early leaving the others enjoying themselves. I felt too depressed at my age and circumstances to get into the swing of things and was embarrassed. I need to up my dosage of happy pills.
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During the mornings at daybreak, we walk along the beach for exercise and to observe all the dead things and sodden plastic flotsam that littered the beach before the beach chair concessionaires swept the detritus back into the gulf. Many young Thais frolicked along the shore taking pictures of one another or jumping fully clothed into the waves. Thais prefer the beach before or after the sun makes it only suitable for western tourists to be out.
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Later we toured some of the competitors to Dennis and Bill’s clubs — not very exciting. If you are in the Pattaya-Jomtien Beach area, however, I urge you to visit “Heaven” at Soi 11 Kasetsin, Cosy Beach Pratamnak. Tell Tina who will greet you, that I sent you. The other place you may want to visit is Winchester. It is owned by Bill and Dennis.

One evening David, LM (now retired) and I had a pretty good pizza and cannelloni at an Italian restaurant in the Jomtien Complex that is also the gay area of Jomtien Beach. It is called “Da Nicola.” The owners were from the area of Sicily my family comes from. When they learned my family comes from Canicatti, they promptly declared that the best wine in Sicily comes from there.

Upon returning to Bangkok and resuming my life there, I saw that the dark alley containing the bars that I walk through after breakfast on my way to the Health Club has been mostly torn down. It was explained to me that it was done to make it better. I could not help but notice the section removed was the portion containing the bars catering to Africans and Burmese.
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One day the Thais celebrated the Prince’s birthday. Over the years, the much married royal seemed to be universally loathed. Rumors of the murder of his many mistresses and overall behavior abounded among the population of the country. But with the impending death of the much beloved King, the Prince’s birthday was a useful moment to rehabilitate him with a televised ceremony fit for a god which he did not attend but instead was represented by a 10 story photograph before which the great and near-great of the country sung his praises and lit an immense number of candles. In my apartment LM (now retired) lit a cantle and stood in front of the television reverently holding it in her hands for the entire hour-long ceremony.
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Dick arrived and HRM and I accompanied him to visit the aviary in the hotel that also encompasses the health club.
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And so my trip slowly cam to an end. A movie with HRM and LM (now retired), a delightful lunch with Gary, swimming almost every day, lots of naps and finally the struggle to pack and get to the airport.
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C. WHAT I THINK ABOUT WHEN I AM BORED:

I am a great supporter of gay marriage or marriage between members of the same sex even if they are not gay. I believe it is superior to so-called traditional marriage. Think about it. A woman and a man get married often because after a few days of passion they believe their affection will last forever and that this qualifies them to have and raise the next generation. What usually happens in short order, however, is they begin arguing over just about everything including how to raise the kids, while the kids usually have no idea why they are squabbling since most kids find their ordinary days just fine. In about 50% of the cases the loving parents divorce (or even worse not) and the kid grows fucked up anyway.

In my case, my parents argued all the time. I never could figure out why most of the time. After they argued, my father would get drunk for a while and my mom would find a reason to hit me with a wooden spoon (I was Italian-American after all). I think that is the cause of my problems with women. I always looked for a woman who could cook like my mother, wash and clean and now and then beat me with a wooden spoon. I could manage to connect with women quite willing to beat me with a symbolic wooden spoon, but they usually balked at the cooking and cleaning.

But I digress. Gay marriages need not run into this problem as much as traditional marriages do. After all, what’s marriage but a contract that sets out the economic rights and duties of the parties. This is important especially for those rich enough to afford a prenup but too stupid to get one.

Some believe marriage is necessary to procreate and raise children. In this age of rent a womb and the purchase of the hot semen of the body type and mental acuity of choice, procreation seems more a question of cost than who one procreates with.

I’ve always been wary of designer progeny. For example, imagine a bright guy with a lot of money but lacking in physical prowess and comely features. In the hopes that his children will be beautiful, athletic and bright, he searches for a zaftig beautiful woman athlete empty headed enough to marry him. But, it is probably just as likely the kids will be a scrawny idiot as anything else. It would be the same with the brilliant woman captain of industry who beds the ripped pool boy only to find that his mind was also ripped with muscle instead of neurons.

But I digress again. You see, men and women living together can never understand each other. They are like a separate species who in the long run irritate each other to the detriment of their children. That’s probably why so many of us are fucked-up.

Assume two guys, they do not even have to be gay but they are best buds, like the Thunder Buddies, Ted and John. They like to hang out together on the sofa watching football drinking beer, farting, and scratching their crotch. One day they decide to get married to each other in order to take advantage of retirement or death benefits and also raise some kids produced through some rent a womb internet site. They probably happily live together farting and scratching, rarely fighting while teaching their kids to joyfully fart, scratch and watch football. Or, on the gay queen end of the spectrum, the couple could raise their kids gleefully painting their toenails and applying perfect mascara or whatever else it is they are into.

As for two women marrying, even Thelma and Louise when they drove off that cliff could have benefited by a marriage license should one of them have survived the fall. Two women who marry could rent a stud and raise their children to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara or whatever. Or on the bull dike end of the spectrum teach them to fart, scratch their crotch and watch football on television. They all probably will be content and so will the kids.

Of course, then we will be raising two types of people, those who like to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara and those who like to fart and scratch their crotch. Unfortunately, I fear soon someone will start a new religion, or go on Fox News and argue it is bad for the nation that one group of happy tykes likes mascara and painted toenails and another farting and scratching and that marriage should be limited to one parent who likes one and another who likes the other so that the children can receive the full experience of being human.
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

The recent drought in Thailand has wrought havoc with the nations rice crop prompting the country’s Prime Minister to suggest the distressed farmers rely less on water-dependent crops like rice and plant more profitable crops that use less water, like a herb that he heard promotes male virility.

I few weeks later, this same worthy announced farmers were to be cut off from government controlled water supplies in favor of urban uses. He also announced the drought will end next month and the farmers who are not growing male virility herbs can again begin growing food for the nation. He later recommended that those who have water voluntarily share it with those who do not. He almost sounds like he is running for the US Republican Presidential nomination. I should be more careful, statements like the last one could get me arrested here.

Recently Wikileaks reported that Thailand was among the countries who purchased eavesdropping equipment allowing it to spy on its citizens. This same unelected but self-described democratically popular leader denied the report but added, that the nation’s citizens and others have nothing to fear if they are not doing something illegal. Something illegal includes criticism of the nations leaders or their actions.

The proposed new Thai Constitution would make it illegal and unconstitutional for legislators and the public to object to any project included in any five-year development plan established and adopted by a commission of non-elected political appointees.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Frank Capra, the famous Italian-American movie director, during WWII, directed a number of propaganda films for the United States Military under the general title of “Why we Fight.” Shortly after the war, he directed, on behalf of the US Signal Corps a short movie entitled, “Your Job in Germany,” in which he cautions American Servicemen about fraternization with the German populace in violation of international agreements among the victorious allies.

Now, I am not here to apologize for Capra’s rampant misguided conservatism or the “bitter and angry” anti-German tenor of the film, but given the recent events regarding the German government’s aggressive and implacable attitude on behalf of the German banking establishment against the ordinary people of Greece, even to the point of violating the fundamental doctrine of neo-liberal economics that both sides of a commercial agreement should bear the risks without governmental interference, perhaps another look at the film is warranted.

Capra, in the film, reminds us of Germany’s repeated aggressions — first in 1870 under “Otto von Bismarck,” then in 1914 under “Kaiser Wilhelm II,” and finally in 1939 under “Adolf Hitler.” Each time before the aggression commenced he points out through extensive flashbacks and newsreels the German people were portrayed as industrious, fun-loving, dancing and singing and full of good cheer. Well, once again the German people are happy and perhaps are singing and dancing also.

Capra was clearly wrong in attributing to the people as a whole responsibility for repeatedly following the siren call of their ruling classes, whether Junker, Nazi or modern Banker. Clearly those ruling classes appear to have learned by now that the road to lebensraum may not lie through the barrel of a gun but perhaps more effectively through one-sided agreements, enforced by non-elected international bureaucrats where the non-German, the non-Banker and the poor bear all the risks flowing from the failure of a commercial contract.

Arguments have been made that in the previous cases had the other great powers (or even one other) resisted the slide into a shooting war much pain and suffering could have been avoided. Alas, once again the shortsightedness of big power politics (for example, the US worry about Russia requires it to weigh allowing Germany free rein in Europe against the risk of losing their support for US policies confronting supposed Russia aggression) may only make things worse — until it is too late.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“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 MYTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Carroll Quigley presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on August 17, 1972.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“It sickens and infuriates me to see the cynical hypocrisy of conservatives. And yesterday I heard that Social Security Disability payments could be cut 19% by the GOP-controlled Congress. The funding will run out next year, and there is an impasse between Democrats and the GOP. Obama has been all too willing to cave in on such negotiations, but if the 10.9 million people who will lose on average $190 a month — this, for people like me who HAVE no other income, no means of other support, and no ability to do so — if this happens right before the 2016 elections, the GOP could end up like the Whig Party . . . in the political graveyard with other assholes, like the Know Nothings (which the GOP should be called!).”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

1. Government protection of investors.

“Government shielding of investors wealth from full liability for the actions of a corporation violates a fundamental tenet of neo-liberal economic theory and makes almost everything it rationalizes invalid. Until investors in commercial enterprises are forced to protect their wealth through the purchase of insurance as they did before the government created the state enterprises we call corporations, neo-liberal economic analysis is substantially flawed.”

2. Political Correctness.

“I think political correctness has gone too far. After all. what could be offensive about calling Jesus Christ a gay fish monger?”

D. Today’s Poem:

Endless daze, sweaty nights

Long night until morning,
Dream breasted, shadow stalked.
Arid lips salt sweated.
Laughter dreams and horror
Dawn faded long ago.
Dreamless sleep’s dark nightmare
Now haunts our withered days.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Cold Tits 0004 (March 14, 2015)

 

“A man is never too young to kill, never too wise, never too strong, but he can damn well be too rich.”
Brown, Pierce. Golden Son (The Red Rising Trilogy, Book 2 (p. 41). Random House Publishing Group.

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett. Discworld will live forever.
Pratchett, the inverse of Spock, turned logic on its head and found truth. May they enjoy each other’s company wherever they are.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The weather in EDH has gone from pleasant to marvelous, the afternoons in the mid-seventies. The sky a deep blue, now and then dappled with clouds.

A few days ago I read that some scientists suspect the perception of the color blue is a recent innovation for humanity. They were put on to this theory by the fact that Homer never mentioned the color blue in his works (nor did most ancient texts such as the Bible). Homer’s description of the Aegean as the “wine dark sea,” a sea that to us today is decidedly blue, led them to conclude, either the sea was a different color then (wine is not blue even at its darkest) or something was different in the color perceptions of the ancients. They then discovered that people in societies today that have no word for blue, when asked the color of the sky, most often respond that it was colorless. A modern tribe that has no word for blue but several for green can see differences in green not perceived by the rest of us. So given that colors are merely reflections of certain frequencies of light, what is going on? This freaks me out. When I look at the deep blue skies over the golden foothills what, if anything, am I seeing?
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Alas, still no rain. Paradise before the fall?
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So, I have now completed a PET and a CT (CAT) scan. I guess my next one will be a RAT, BAT or perhaps even a VET scan.
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Nikki arrived. He plans to stay for about a week. This means that a lot more noise and a bit more laughter it the house. H has been fitted with braces and is unhappily suffering through the irritation of getting used to them.
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With Nikki attending to H, I spend even more of my time in my room trying to find something interesting to read other than Facebook and trashy novels. Recently I even have begun to look forward to my medical appointments.
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While having coffee with Reed a few days ago, he mentioned that the Coastal Conservancy staff said that they did not know what a coastal restoration project is, despite the fact that their implementing legislation specifically directs the agency to do them.
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During breakfast with Nikki, he asked what would I do if I was no longer living in EDH. I said that I would probably still do much of what I do now. I would divide my time between; California, probably as much as possible with my sister and brother in law in Mendocino; Italy, at Nikki’s home at Saliceto in the Alpine foothills or Sabina or Sicily; and Thailand, although I would prefer moving out of BKK and back to the beach. Winters at the beach in Thailand, Spring and Fall somewhere along the California coast and Summers in the Alps it seems would not be such a bad life.

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Mendocino, California

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Saliceto, Italy
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Roccantica in Sabina

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Sicily

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Jomtien Beach, Thailand
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My visit to the orthodontist with H was a revelation. The waiting area was more playroom than office with its jungle motif, separate play areas and massage chairs for parents. The staff of about 20 or so seemed to have overdosed on ebullience as though they had hit the nitrous-oxide on the way to work. The staff was all women except for the man himself, the orthodontist, the chief giggler himself — the lord of the manor — the Caliph. I used to wonder who lived in those super large homes that line the ridges of EDH. I now imagine they are all inhabited by happy-talking orthodontists.
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El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life.
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Well, I can put my hypochondria back in its box for a while. The PET scan came back negative for any evidence of migration by big C into other parts of my body. Now, if the biopsy shows signs of it in the nodule itself, the doctor believes it can be safely removed without resort to either radiation or chemo.
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My very dear friend from Sicily, Luigi (Gigi) Gallo, who suffers from Parkinson’s, recently slipped, fell and broke his leg. He appears to be recovering. I hope all goes well with him. Last year, after an over 40-year hiatus, I visited Sicily and had a wonderful time with him, catching each other up on our lives over the last 40 years and reminiscing about our time together in Sicily and Rome.
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B. BOOK REPORT:

I read “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins. It is an interesting book in spite of it being a best seller. All ten or so characters in the novel are reprehensible. It is difficult to care about which ones deserve to die (they all deserve to do so). Yet, their very insensitivity to their own irresponsibility despite their intense and constant preoccupation with it that gives the story whatever appeal it has.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

As for one of the primary organizational elements of Western society, capitalism, in its constantly changing form over its 1000 year existence, Quigley has the following to say about its role:

“…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.

Although Quigley refers to it in this other works of his, the above quote does not mention the impact on society of Debt and the Merchants of Debt, Creditors, even though they are many thousands of years older than Capitalism and Capitalists. If one were to rewrite Quigley’s quote with debt in mind, it might go something like this:

“Debt and Creditors, the Merchants of Debt, because they seek repayment of the loan and the interest due thereon as their primary goal, never seek prosperity, high production, high consumption, direct political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Instead they seek to assure that the value of the principle and interest remain constant or increase by encouraging depression of the economy to eliminate the potential for that prosperity, high production and high consumption to encourage inflation and reduce the value of their future returns. Interest in political power is limited to issues of so called “sound money” politics. Over their 4000 year history, the Merchants of Debt have rarely, if ever, contributed anything to a society’s patriotic improvement or moral uplift other than to assist in their destruction now and then.”

It is important to understand that banking and capitalism, although they more often than not work together, they are not the same thing nor do they have the same institutional goals or the same impacts on society. Capitalism is as subject to the demands of the Merchants of Debt as is the rest of society. Because of the overwhelming impact of debt on society, the Old Testament of the Bible and most civilizations until the 10th Century AD in Europe encouraged periodic forgiveness of debts. It could be argued that the Lord’s Prayer New Testament plea to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” refers to the Old Testament practice as well as, if not more than, it does to other moral transgressions.

There exists and inherent conflict between Capitalists and the Merchants of Debt. The former risk their wealth on investments in enterprise, the latter abhor risk of any sort.
B. Molly’s Poem:

A New Years Poem
I have a desperate attraction to new beginnings
Sometimes the numbers on the calendar look so beautiful
I think
Today’s the day I drink less and run more
No smoking, all veggies
Honesty, integrity, self-reliance, perseverance, creativity,
No fear, live large,
Dream big, be bright, believe in love and believe in yourself!
And I do
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Sometimes I just feel it, on a Tuesday
Today’s the day I keep doing yoga
I don’t back down when I’m right
I go to bed at a reasonable hour, pay my bills on time
Clean out the toe jam, learn all those languages
All the little steps start here and I’m climbing
I can feel it now, right now, and I won’t look back
This is it!
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Then I find myself making the same mistakes
Who manufactured the grooves in my record?
How would it feel if the DJ scratched me across the turntable?
The dissonant rip, like a zipper coming undone
A cut away from the 4/4 time that I was trying so hard to hold
But this is why the crowd came to the club
To hear the sound of the universe tearing into a new song
The maligned has become music
We throw our hands up and we dance
I am scratched across the turntable and the crowd is screaming
We are scratched and screaming
And the dj takes it back, and the song plays
All of it is beautiful
Every moment new
Every moment auspicious
Every moment beginning
Molly Trad

C. Zander’s Perceptions

“Lentil Soup and Lent

Yesterday I made a pot of lentil soup as well as a loaf of bread, since the weather demands it. I realized that while my back was screwing with me last week, I missed out on Mardi Gras on Tuesday. I have not been a practicing Catholic for . . . yikes. That would be over a half a century. I do dig McDonald’s having cheap Filet o Fish sandwiches (YEEE-Hah!!) during Lent, so naturally I will take advantage of that for the next 5 weeks.

But here’s the thing. Stay with me on this: When the kids were still in elementary school and their mom was on the dating scene, which I called the “Boyfriend of the Month Club,” I decided not to date. One parent dating like a rat in heat and dragging impressionable young kids to these men’s homes was bad enough; it didn’t need to be repeated by me.

I knew that the dating cycle was about 5 weeks is because that is how often I’d be asked for my recipe for scaloppine alla Marsala, the dinner she’d prepared for those guys. And I wouldn’t date.

It got to the point, though, that those years were adding up. Because I did the celibate parent thing voluntarily, I believe I should be allowed to give it up for Lent. Got it now?

So in Rome, we’ve got Il Papa, Pope Francis, who reflects virtually political and social position I have. I’m going to throw myself at his mercy and see if there is a special dispensation in his heart to allow me to give up celibacy for Lent. I’m guessing that he’d go for it. Hell — he can even live vicariously through me, if he wants. So I am confident.

Do I have any volunteers?
Pete Xander

D. Granddaughter’s Painting:
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Athena Petrillo

E. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
Epicurean Paradox

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Sometimes I wonder if the American South is really another country or whether most Southerners are actually illegal aliens residing in the US. Surely a people who are so poorly educated, in such ill health, so superstitious and immoral and so unambitious cannot be real American citizens. Should we require them to go back to where they came from? Who would have them?

These people seem to insist on remaining poor, illiterate, diseased, religion obsessed and immoral. Shouldn’t we allow them to endure that state? Perhaps laws like, unemployment, social security, Obama care and the like should not apply to the South?

We do not have a poverty problem or a racial problem or a health problem or a moral problem or an immigration problem in the United States. We have a Southern problem. We have always had a Southern problem.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Point Cabrillo Light House, Mendocino

 

Categories: January through March 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Joseph 0004 (December 21, 2014)

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Happy Holidays to all.

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“Every saint has a past,and every sinner has a future.”
Oscar Wilde. A Woman of No Importance.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Well, for the last three years almost unbroken sunshine has fallen on The Golden Hills with bringing with it a terrible drought. For the past three weeks there has been very little sunshine at all. The rain dribbles from the grey skies and flowing along the gutters sweeping the streets clean of leaves.

I am back on antibiotics and feeling better but implacable advancing age grapples with my spirit and is now winning two out of three falls.

HRM is inexorably moving from dependence and fear to independence and self-awareness. My role lessens — from guide to observer.

A mud soaked holiday season approaches, its color certainly will not be white except high in the mountains.

The leafless trees scratch the grey skies, winter is here. Some may see it as an ending but I prefer to look at it as merely a preparation for spring — another rebirth, a promise. It is only we, in the winter of our lives, who know there are no more promises, no more springs. Nevertheless, we endure — for a while.

There is a nine-year old in town who has won the national cross-country championships. Hayden has raced against him in local races. It is fun to watch the young champion run, finishing the 2.5 mile course often 300 yards ahead of the second place runner, sometimes even passing the high-school runners pacing the race.

At one race Hayden went up to him at the starting line and said to him “You will probably win an athletic scholarship to a good school. I am happy for you.”

By the way December 20th in the Gregorian Calendar is a free day in Pookies calendar. The day you can do whatever you want. So, enjoy — but try to avoid hurting yourself or others.

We ought to give that day a catchy name. Any suggestions?

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Maurice Trad has died. Maurice’s friendship saved me at a time I thought I could not be saved. He was always a better friend to me than I ever was to him.

I will miss you Maurice. Rest in Peace.
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B. BOOK REPORTS:

Sara King: Legend of Zero

It is always a sign of the deterioration of my mental health whenever I bury myself in obsessive reading to the exclusion of almost everything else. Usually it means I am teetering on the edge of depression too deep even for my happy pills to remedy. At Ruth’s suggestion, I am ripping through the Martin Beck mystery series. Interspersed with these I have begun reading Sara King’s Legend of Zero series. It is not her books that fascinate me. They are post contact warrior stories where humans and other alien species find themselves in foxholes together fighting an intergalactic war. Sort of like Starship Trooper except the insects are on our side and fighting among themselves because the entire universe is controlled by a galactic state that finds itself every few years putting down a rebellion by one or another of the bazillion species that make up the state. The rebels are usually the most horrible species one can imagine but not nearly as horrible as members of the state’s ruling caste. Everyone talks like post adolescent soldier grunts from WWII. For those that like this stuff it is pretty good and better than most.

However, what really interest me is the author. She lives somewhere in the wilds of Alaska. Her publicity picture shows a middle-aged child of the counter-culture from the 70’s — floppy hat, loose cotton clothing — standing before what looks like an organic garden. She says that she intends to “change the world” with her character writing. I do not know what that is or whether it is a good thing, but maybe she, like Zero the main character in her books, may well do so. She says:

“My name is Sara King and I’m going to change the world.
My goal is simple. I want to champion, define, and spread character writing throughout the galaxy. (Okay, maybe we can just start with Planet Earth.)”
King, Sara . Zero Recall (The Legend of ZERO, Book 2). Parasite Publications.

Pookie says check it out….

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that Could

IV Sicily
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Jason and I stood on the ferry’s deck as it approached the Port of Palermo, the three thousand-year old harbor originally built by the Phoenicians. The morning sun was shining brightly —the water a deep blue-green and the low-lying city a dusty brown with red arabic cupolas here and there and the cathedral a mix or gothic and moorish architecture rising up in the center.

At that time, 1968, the city had not yet sprawled beyond its medieval walls. Along the shore those walls still bore the scars WWII bullets. Mount Pellegrino loomed over the city like a frozen storm.
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Palermo Harbor with Mt Pellegrino in the background

As the ferry docked Jason and I ran down into the hold, squeezed into the Trojan 200 and waited for the doors to open. They opened slowly. Light penetrated the gloom. The noise was almost painful as the engines in the vehicles revved up together, and then we moved down the ramp and into the city.

We drove into and through the city looking for the road that would take us across the Island to its southern shore and Canicatti our destination.

While driving through the city we passed San Cataldo, The Cathedral and the Opera Houses and then we out beyond the walls heading toward the center of the Island.
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San Cataldo

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Palermo Cathedral

At that time there were no highways in Sicily, mostly two lane roads often rural and at times unpaved crossed the Island. Each road connected a town with the nearest one to it, pass through the center of the town and meander on to the next village.

After leaving Palermo, the first village we came to was perched on top of a mountain. The road swooped in long switchbacks until it entered the village. We started up the hill but soon the 9 hp engine could go no further. So I got out of the car and pushed it up the mountain to the edge of the town. It was getting very hot and I began to sweat a lot. I got back into the car and drove it through the village. As we wound our way through the narrow streets,The people came out to watch us pass by. Unlike towns in other parts of Italy where the people would shout, smile and gesture, the villagers here lined the road in silence — the women mostly dressed in black and the men with their caps slouched low over their foreheads. Only a child now and then would smile. When we came to the end of the settlement, I saw that the road swooped down from the mountain top, crossed a small valley and then careened up another mountain upon which sat the next village. And so it went. I would leave a village, drive the car as fast as it would go on the down slope so that I could get as high a possible up the next slope, then get out of the car and push.
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The Road up to Mussomeli

Troina,_sicily
(The above photograph was taken in 1970. It shows the single narrow road up to the village. It also shows the land as treeless, barren and rocky. It no longer is that today. After 2000 years trees are again returning to Sicily.)

Finally about eight hours later, I had travelled a total of 80 miles, my clothing drenched with sweat and every muscle aching. I decided I could go no further than the next village but as we emerged, I saw below not another mountain top village at the end of the road but a rather large town in the valley, Canicatti.

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived in the town. It was larger than I thought. That was a problem. I knew the last name of my relatives, Corsello, and the town in which they lived, Canicatti but that was all, no address and no first names. I had thought Canicatti would be a small village where everyone knew everyone else, but it was a rather large town instead. I drove into the town past a small park where I learned later my mother used to play as a child and stopped by a coffee-house with chairs and tables sprawled haphazardly about. The wall by the café was pock-marked with bullet holes. I was later to find out that is was the site of the Canicatti massacre where American soldiers slaughtered a number of townspeople for no reason.

So, I started asking if anyone knew where a family named Corsello lived. Someone mentioned some people by that name lived just around the corner. We drove there. It was a new building one of the few in the town at that time. I found the name on a card and pressed the button. “Qui e” someone responded. After a somewhat difficult conversation since I did not speak Italian and they did not speak English we managed to discover that they were in fact the right family and they came down from their apartment to greet us. They invited us in. But before entering Vincenzo the patriarch asked, “What are we going to do about the car. We cannot leave it here where it will be stolen.” (to be continued)
DAILY FACTOID:

2012: In Thailand a worker killed another worker with a machete after being taunted for having a small penis.

(I think is was Darwin who pointed out that a man’s chances of surviving to breed are greatly diminished by disparaging the size of someone junk when that other person is carrying a machete.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
BN-CU892_paydeb_G_20140515160642_2

This may be one of the most disheartening charts I have posted so far. What this means is that many of those graduating from college today are so deeply in debt that the normal process of exploring options and settling into a career are denied to them.

It also encourages students, rather than educate themselves to be able to handle social and economic changes, to prepare themselves for only jobs available upon graduation despite recent experience demonstrating that those jobs may disappear long before their working lives end. We are no longer educating students but merely engaging in vocational training.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The state is a good state if it is sovereign and if it is responsible. It is more or less incidental whether a state is, for example, democratic. If democracy reflects the structure of power in the society, then the state should be democratic. But if the pattern of power in a society is not democratic, then you cannot have a democratic state. This is what happens in Latin America, Africa and places like that, when you have an election and the army doesn’t like the man who is elected, so they move in and throw him out. The outcome of the election does not reflect the power situation, in which the dominant thing is organized force. When I say governments have to be responsible, I’m saying the same thing as when I said they have to be legitimate: they have to reflect the power structure of the society. Politics is the area for establishing responsibility by legitimizing power, that is, somehow demonstrating the power structure to people, and it may take a revolution, such as the French Revolution, or it may take a war, like the American Civil War. In the American Civil War, for example, the structure of power in the United States was such — perhaps unfortunately, I don’t know — that the South could not leave unless the North was willing. It was that simple. But it took a war to prove it. “
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good-Night.

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

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:

unknown
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.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 JoJo 0003 (June 1, 2014)

 

“It takes two people to make a deal: a desperate man and a winner.”
Wight, Will. City of Light (The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy: Book #3). Hidden Gnome Publishing.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. One day like many others

The curfew remains in effect (10 PM to 6 AM I think). Still no sign in my neighborhood of military or effects of the coup. In the morning I walk past Nana Plaza and through the Arab neighborhood to Foodland my favorite breakfast place (two eggs, 1 strip of bacon, coffee, toast and juice for $2) and then to the health club for my morning swim. I have a new exercise regime. Instead of doing just one more like the personal trainers used to urge that I hated and eventually caused me to quit exercising, I now do one less. I feel much better and happier.
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Himself at lunch

After exercise and my massage, I sometimes eat lunch and then go home and lie on the rock hard bed until dinner which I usually eat in my room. Then, about when the curfew starts, I go to sleep.
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2. Someplace for old men

I have resumed my morning meetings with the old men (farang’s) at the health club. We sit around on flea infested chairs, read the two local english language newspapers and lie about our past lives.

Today one of the “alters” who lived in Oakland and used to have a tax preparation business in the Bay Area mentioned that he did not think that climate change was caused by humans. “After all,” he added, “think about all the money those scientists are making from government grants to find that humans caused global warming when in fact for the last decade the temperature has remained stable.” When I suggested that one would think that the hydrocarbon industry would have a larger economic interest than these scientists, he responded, “Not true, they are happy to supply natural gas if Obama would only allow the Keystone pipeline to go through.” He was surprised when I told him I thought Keystone was an oil shale pipeline and not a gas line. We agreed not to talk about climate change any more and turned our conversation to other significant political issues of interest to him like why Nancy Pelosi has had so many face lifts and why Joe Biden is so dumb.
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3. The most dangerous thing in Bangkok

Bangkok, also known as the City of Angeles, can be a dangerous place, with the occasional military coup, rampant STD, suffocating air pollution, sporadic food poisoning, rats and cobras, corrupt cops and things like that. But by far the greatest danger is its sidewalks and what lies beneath them. Cracked and broken sidewalks that can fracture an ankle of the unwary cover the ancient canals which now serve as the City’s sewers. Often the sidewalk gives way and someone falls into foetid sludge below.

About a month before I arrived an elderly farang (western man) who lived in my apartment block went for a walk. Just outside the apartment the sidewalk collapsed beneath him and he fell through into the muck below. He was taken to the hospital and has not been seen since.

A few days ago a squad of Cambodian and Burmese migrants showed up to clean out those same sewers. They had to jump in to the rat and snake infested water, drag out the mud and mire with their bare hands and deposit it in plastic containers. Since then those containers have been standing lined up at the side or the road waiting for someone to do something with them.

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Barrels of muck

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New cover over hole through which the old man fell
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4. I hate growing old (version #1273)

For the first time that I can remember, I had a panic attack that lasted throughout the night, robbed me of sleep and, as I lay there alone in by bed, convinced me that my numbered days had ben reduced to single digits. The next day I felt so awful that I could barely make it to breakfast and decided to skip my exercise and return home. I intended to write here how I detested my steadily eroding capabilities due to age.

Alas, when I arrived back at my apartment, I realized that for the last three days or so I had forgotten to take the dozens of pills my doctors require me to take every day and actually was going through various forms of withdrawal the most serious of which was withdrawal from my happy pills.
DSCN1393
I don’t always sleep alone. (The monkey is named Douglas. I call the Gorilla, Gorilla)
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B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

Malibu in my mind (continued)

Some background is needed in order to understand the initial story line of the dream. As most of you know there is a sort of a space race by private enterprise to design a reusable space vehicle that would allow very rich people to fly off into the edge of space and return just like those not yet rich people called astronauts. The astronauts are trained and paid by the government (you and I) and perform scientific experiments that may benefit humankind. The rich people of course are unqualified to do anything of the sort except pay for the experience. So they will hire these currently highly trained governmental employees to become space taxi drivers and to forget about benefits for humanity so they, the rich, can have the same experience as the experts with none of the burden of actually doing anything.

Nevertheless, the market being what it is, some entrepreneurs will seek, in the spirit of competition, to offer a somewhat lower cost alternative even if it is something of marginal public benefit. That is where the dream begins. One of these low-cost operations, lets call it Rocket Blue or SouthWest Space Flights decided on an unusual publicity stunt to launch their service. They managed to find 10 people from the Midwest who had never been out of the Midwest or to the coast of California where the launch was to take place. These 10 people were given a free flight on the maiden voyage of the vehicle. They would be accompanied by two real Californians who also knew something about the coast, presumably so they could point out points of interest as the rocket roared off into space.

That is where I come in, I was one of these two even though I am not a real Californian. The other one was none other than Joe Edmiston. I assume that our employers believed Joe and I added a certain cachet to the venture. This is a dream after all.

Anyway the vehicle itself was clearly low-cost, looking less like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than the inside of a leaky wooden boat.

We discovered, as we were settling into our seats, that these 10 accidental tourists were an obnoxious and argumentative lot. Considering that Joe and I are masters of the art of being querulous and unpleasant, the trip began with less than happy camaraderie.

Anyway, off we went into the edge of space. To me the final frontier was somewhat of a disappointment, basic black with stars that did not twinkle but stared malevolently at you like the unthinkingly eyes of a million wolves reflected in the light of the campfire just before they attack. The disk of the earth below all blue, white brown and green has been seen so often in photographs, logos, SF movies and the like that it was hard to work up some element of surprise or awe at the sight.

In any event, we thankfully soon began our descent.

Now as I have repeatedly pointed out, this is a low-cost spaceship operation. As such, instead of designing the vehicle to land on an airport runway upon its return from space as the high price enterprises do, in our case the vehicle deployed a large parachute to hopefully gently deposit us on the ground where several cars and trucks could meet us and return us to where we took off.

This approach is much like that used in those hot air balloon rides. You know, where you get up god-awfully early in the morning while it is still too chilly to be out and about. You are then stuffed into a basket with too many people you do not know while the fire device that inflates the balloon shatters the silence (as well as your eardrums). You take off and float a few hundred feet over supposedly beautiful scenery that you pay little attention to because you are dealing with one or more of: agoraphobia, claustrophobia or vertigo and praying that you do not vomit or fart. You fly for an hour or so and eventually land with a bounce or two in someones back yard or if you’re lucky a park where your transportation is waiting to take you back to where you parked your car, and to warmth.

In our case, we had taken off from Vandenberg and were supposed to land somewhere near the Pismo-Nippomo Dunes. Unfortunately, a strong gust of wind blew us in the opposite direction and we landed in the ocean off Point Dume. Kerplunk! (To be continued)

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

For those who are fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden adventure series, his latest Skin Game, the 15th book in the series, is out. In this adventure, Harry, Chicago’s only professional wizard and now the Winter Knight is sent by Queen Mab to steal the Holy Grail from Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve done without a hitch since the last time I saw you, Dresden. You walk through the door and everything goes to hell.”
“That’s embroidered on my towels, actually,” I said.

“What you are telling me,” she said, “is that you have never shared your life with another over the long term. The closest you have come to it is providing a home and affection for a being which is entirely your subject and in your control.”
“Well, not at bath time…”

“I know you’ve been aching to have your hands on my staff,” I said to Ascher, as Nicodemus examined the altar for himself. I held out my hand. “But I’d rather be the one fondling my tool. Wizards are weird like that.”

Pookie says, “check it out.”
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Don’t mess with Facebook

A day following the announcement by the coup leaders that a commission has been formed to look into Facebook and other social media, the Facebook internet page went down for an hour throughout the nation. The public outcry was so great that the military had to publicly declare that they had nothing to do with it. Who did is still unclear at this time.

2. In general it is the General

A little noted aspect of the current military coup is that the coup several years ago that toppled Thaksin the Terrible, the exiled fugitive prime minister (and pater familias of the recently ousted government) was precipitated by his attempt to replace the military leadership with members of his own class at the nations élite military school from which the army general staff is chosen.

In Thailand the military is effectively independent of any other governing institution in the country. Its general staff is chosen in lock step from the élite military academy. When one class retires the next one takes over.

In previous issues of T&T I warned that until the current military commander retires in September of this year a coup remains a high probability.

In fact, according to reports, the coup was well and secretly planned by the Chief of Staff and a small group of plotters including an outside attorney to occur before September when Thaksin the Terrible’s class was scheduled to take over.

It is important to note that although the coup leaders carefully detained the political leaders of both warring factions more or less equally, within the national police and the military the removals and transfers almost exclusively have been of officers sympathetic to the ousted prime minister.

As it is so often in politics, nothing is precisely as it seems.
DAILY FACTOID:

Sometime in the 1960’s: How Hillary met Bill at Yale: She got up from her desk, walked over to him, extended her hand, and said, “If you keep looking at me, and I’m going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I’m Hillary Rodham.”
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wanted those who make the laws to approach them the way that Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism suggested:

“To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers…The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Politics is the fight over which elites rule, not whether.”
Gooserock (Daily Kos)

“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”
William Jennings Bryan at the 1896 Democratic Convention.

Nothing changes.

TODAY’S CHART:

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I simply do not understand where they get only 475,000 people killed by humans in a year. I would think 475,000 could be done in an ordinary afternoon if we really put our minds to it.
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Unknown
This in a photo of a 1860 drawing of a member of the Camorra a Neapolitan criminal gang. In the 1970’s the fashion style sported by the gangster returned to threaten us all.

 

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

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

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. VOYAGE TO ROCCANTICA IN SABINA

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

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

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

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

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

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The view from that apartment.

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Looking down on Roccantica

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

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

And so on to Sicily———

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

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

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