Posts Tagged With: Cambodia

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    18 Joe 0006 (August 4, 2017)

“We are not who we think we are. We narrate our lives, shading every last detail, and even changing the script retrospectively, depending on the event, most of the time subconsciously. The storyteller never stops, except perhaps in deep sleep.”
Doctor Michael S. Gazzaniga, Neuroscientist.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CAMBODIA:
Having exhausted myself hiking and crawling around the ruins of Angkor, I decided to spend the time remaining before returning to Bangkok swimming in the tiny hotel pool and exploring the old French Quarter of Siem Reap (Siem Reap means “Defeat of Siam” to commemorate a victory over the Thais that never happened).
IMG_3045
Siem Reap’s old French Quarter extends in a narrow strip along both sides of the river which are connected by gaily decorated and lighted covered bridges.
IMG_3123
The French Quarter contains markets and sights mostly geared to delight tourists. The Old Market, located between Pub Street and the river, offers a mixture of souvenirs and a variety of food products. The Angkor Night Market and the Central Market mainly cater to tourists.
IMG_3103
That is dried fish behind me.
The area is also packed with bars, small hotels, and restaurants of all types. The streets are crowded with tourists, tuk-tuks, food carts and mobile bars.
IMG_3113
While most of the restaurants featured south-east Asian food, there were a few French Restaurants, a surprising number of Mexican places and a goodly number of Pizza parlors including one that featured pizza with crocodile topping.
IMG_3099 - Version 2
I ate crocodile fried rice at this restaurant.
In the evenings’ everything was lit up like a carnival, the bars were full and music poured into the streets like the monsoon rains.
IMG_3125
We spent most of the next two days before returning to Bangkok, walking around the markets, sitting on the bridges and staring into the water, eating in the restaurants and huddling under awnings to escape the afternoon showers.
 IMG_3101
And then we left and returned to Bangkok.
IMG_3145
B. BACK IN BANGKOK.
As some of you know I suffer from depression and take “happy pills” to control it. Of course, when despite my medicine, I lapse into a depressive state, I rarely recognize it for what it is. “I am just tired,” I think, “If I nap a little longer I’ll feel better.” Or, “I think I am coming down with a cold.” Or, I am annoyed and snap at someone who perhaps I should be annoyed at, but otherwise, would avoid the snappishness. When I do come out of it, I usually recognize it for what it was. I then begin wondering if I should up my dosage.
Since returning from Cambodia, I have been down for some reason. I am out of it now. Still, I feel unhappy with my life here in Bangkok. It costs a lot to maintain my apartment and even more to travel back and forth. Why would I spend all that money just so I can walk back and forth to the health club, even if that walk takes me through a version of the theater of the absurd? Also, HRM is growing into his teenage years and I have become too old and frail to satisfy his needs for companionship. He still has Dick and Nikki and now Adrien to whom he has become quite attached. So, maybe it is time to look around for a last life change and a new adventure.
I approached the Old Sailor with the idea of returning with me to the Virgin Islands, buying a boat, and sailing around the Caribbean until one of us keels over from old age. I think that was too open ended for him at his age. Perhaps he is right.
Other options I have thought about, like relocating to Ecuador or Costa Rica or Taos or Sabina, run the risk of exacerbating the loneliness I often feel in Thailand even with the availability of the friends that I have made here.
Then again, tomorrow is another day — why plan for anything. As Rosanna Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”
Pasted Graphic
It always is, even when it is not.
Anyway, a few days later after a morning at the health club, I had a delightful lunch at Monsoon with the Gemologist/Ethnologist/Artist/Soldier of Fortune Character in Cris Moore’s novels.
Pasted Graphic_1
This is one of Richard’s Paintings entitled Painkiller.
I thought it would be interesting to include Richard’s write-up about the painting that appears in his catalog.
Painkiller is based on a photo I took many years ago of my friend Roberto and my wife Junko. Roberto is seated on his opulent opium bed draped with leopard skins. The panels behind him contain spackled violet, pure gold leaf, and butterflies, symbols of the metamorphosis. Below the panels are the four horses of the Apocalypse, galloping behind a plume of opium smoke burning in a gem encrusted ebony and ivory opium pipe. Roberto is a light lime green, an emanation or aura of death which I have seen sometimes in those who die violently. Roberto was murdered, stabbed in the back. There was an attempted murder of my wife Junko late last year when she was pummelled over the head repeatedly with a hammer. He died, she survived. This painting was cathartic in that it illustrates the murdered and the nearly murdered. The opium smoke dissipates into the atmosphere as does the transitory nature of life. ~ R.K. Diran, 2004
We discussed the financing of the gem trade, the problems artists have in selling their works and the tax based economics of the art world today. He informed me he has the world’s largest collection of ethnological photographs of the now vanished tribes of Burma and indicated his wish to exhibit them in the US. I agreed to look into it.
As you know, Richard is a featured character as the soldier of fortune in Christopher G. Moore’s novels about the Bangkok detective Vinnie Calvino. He was a little miffed that Moore’s most recent book “Jumpers” did not provide his character the quality of clever lines as in some of the other novels, nor did Moore consult him about some holes in the plot like the $700,000 counterfeit money printed with only a single plate.
Mostly, however, we spent the time swapping stories, discussing politics and commenting on the attractive women also having lunch at the restaurant.
Finally, I met with the Old Sailor. He reconsidered my proposal and suggested we explore settling on Hawaii instead. He has an 85-year-old Philippine dope grower friend who lives on the East side of the mountain on the big island. He says he has talked to his friend and they have many stories they could tell me about their life in among the islands during the 70’s and 80’s that they would like turned into a novel. I suggested we all meet in Hawaii during the winter holidays.
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:
What is Elon Musk really up to?
Elon Musk is a phenomenon of our times. After a relatively brief period during which he made a lot of money but seemed to be reviled by his co-investors who removed him as CEO a few times, he launched a series of enterprises that appeared to gain the affection of investors and the media despite not yet turning a profit.
These ventures include: Tesla an electric automobile manufacturing and production company; SpaceX a reusable rocket and rocket engine development and production company; a battery research, manufacturing and production entity (in conjunction with other Musk operations); SolarCity a solar power provider (started by Musk’s cousins); Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system incorporating reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors; OpenAI, a not-for-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company; Neuralink, a neurotechnology start-up company, to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence; The Boring Company, a company to develop and operate massive boring machines to dig tunnels under the earth.
In addition, he has stated his intention to establish a colony of 80,000 people on Mars by 2040 and has expressed his wish to die there.
He has often claimed he is doing all this in order to change the world and humanity, including reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multi-planetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.
Now the carnival barker may actually believe it when he tells you that you could knock the milk bottles off the stand and win the stuffed animal, but I am sure that if you believe it you will lose your money.
So, let’s look at what he is doing and see what we can make of it. Of course, making himself and his family filthy rich goes without saying. But why this particular collection of initiatives? They imply something more than simple financial accumulation and the saving of humanity.
We can see some relationship between the car company and the solar company; the Hyperloop and the Boring Company; SpaceX and Mars. But, unless we consider him simply another mad scientist whose attention is focused on whatever he last finds interesting, something else must be going on — some goal, hinted at somewhere sometime.
I got a glimmer of what at least part of the solution to the conundrum might be when I learned Elon had a brother, Kimbal (He also has a sister, Tosca, a film maker).
After working with Elon on the original start ups, Kimbal took his money and headed to New York entered a school for chef’s and opened a string of mostly high priced organic restaurants. He eventually became fascinated with organic and low impact agriculture leading to the launching an urban farming incubator called Square Roots. Square Roots grows everything inside of stacked shipping containers in a warehouse in Brooklyn. Each shipping container can produce the same amount of crops as on two acres of farmland. A container can operate on as little as 10 gallons of recycled water a day (about one shower’s worth). Everything can be monitored by a computer which can also alter the climate in the container. The light comes from LED lighting. The only problem is finding a reliable source of energy.
For someone like Elon Musk, convinced that humanity on earth is doomed and obsessed with “making life multi-planetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars, his brothers work is a missing piece, Everything Musk does seem to be ultimately directed to this goal —the reusable efficient rockets to get the materials and the colonists there; the inexpensive solar arrays and batteries to provide and store energy; cost-effective machines to bore through the Martian soil since the majority of a permanent Martian colony would have to be built underground; efficient transportation systems integrated into the electric grid; compact highly productive agriculture; and a wise computer that can communicate directly with the minds of the colonists.
Unfortunately, even if everything else is successful, there still is something missing and overlooked (perhaps several somethings) that must be in place before this utopia-lifeboat can achieve its goal and flourish. (Cont.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Four Years Ago in T&T:
Chapter 20 from my never to be finished mystery novel, ENTER THE DRAGON:

Dragon’s Breath.

Vivian: What will your first step be?
Philip Marlowe: The usual one.
Vivian: I didn’t know there was a usual one.
Philip Marlowe: Well sure there is, it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 of how to be a detective in 10 easy lessons correspondent school textbook and uh, your father offered me a drink.
Vivian: You must’ve read another one on how to be a comedian.

Chapter: 20.

We drove to Crissy Field in silence, parked and bought some ice cream at the small restaurant and souvenir shop in one of the converted military buildings. We walked across the restored marsh on a little wooden bridge. In front of us was the Golden Gate, the bridge soaring over the strait to our right. Massive tankers and container ships lumber through flotillas of pleasure craft while wind and kite surfers dart among them seeking the strongest breezes streaming between the headlands.

It was a sunny summer day, breezy and cool. I leaned over the fence looking at the restored marsh, my back to the Bay. Joe faced the other way watching the joggers and power walkers pass by on the path in front of him.

Joe broke the silence. “So boss, what do we do next? Why are we here?”

I asked, “When you look at this wetland here, what do you see?”

He turned around, looked at the restored marsh for a moment then said, “OK,… I see some water, a lot of mud, a few ugly ass birds and a bunch of sick looking weeds. Do I pass?”

“It’s not a test. Wetlands like this are very fertile, a lot of things come here to eat, breed and grow, even humans used to hang around here, Indians. I agree with you its pretty ugly for something that is a nursery of life; the water is pretty stagnant, barely covering the land underneath and it smells. There’s mud everywhere and the “weeds” as you call them crowd the shore pressing against one another until like bankers they greedily seek more nourishment than the environment can supply and they die and eventually their husks will fill the marsh and it will disappear. The whole place reeks of death, and yet it is one of nature’s wellsprings of life. Nature made a mistake. No clear running water, crashing waves, or handsome trees. But here is where it, life, begins and flourishes hand in hand with death.”

“That’s sort of interesting boss. Weird too. What does this have to do about anything? You know private detecting or the case — er, the assignment.”

“This is a fake marsh. It was built by some rich people to memorialize what was here before. Sort of like a statue of a general on a horse representing some dead guy. In this case, it looks like the real thing and acts a lot like the real thing but, everything else that was there, that was a part of it, is gone even the Indians. We now have something else here, a new reality as well as a memorial”

“Are you stoned? It sounds like you’re stoned Boss. Did Martin freak you out? I remember at the temple monks talking like that, a lot of shit that makes no sense. Are you Buddhist?”

I chuckled, pushed myself away from the fence and began to walk back to the car. Joe followed.

“Did you notice in the movies I told you to watch everything took place over a couple of days, yet the movie only took 90 minutes or so. What do you think they were doing during all the other time? Living that’s what, eating, sleeping, jerking off, shitting and going back to their offices earning a living. That’s what they were doing.”

“So, what, we’re going back to the office? You don’t have one.”

“You’re right, sort of. I do not have any other assignments as well as no office. On this assignment, there is nothing to do until this evening. In the meantime, we eat ice cream and stare at a bunch of mud. If I were Buddhist I’d meditate to pass the time.”

“Does this mean you’ve figured it all out, solved it?”

“There is nothing very much to solve here. Nothing much has happened. Sometimes, most times, on most assignments nothing happens. People just imagine things.”

“Is that another rule Boss?”

I ignored him and continued on. We had passed around the edge of the restored marsh.

Joe said, “I don’t understand. You say nothing happened. The Reilly guy is dead that’s something and Martin’s furniture is missing that’s something too. And what about the two fat guys. That sounds like a lot of something.”

I responded, “As far as Reilly is concerned, he could have had an accident and fallen into the bay, or if he killed himself it could have been for a reason that had nothing to do with our investigation. And, if he was in fact murdered, Reilly was an asshole, a lot of people could have off’d him and I’m sure many have reasons to do so. We have nothing that indicates the failed business deal we are investigating has anything to do with it, except they sort of happened near to one another in time — the failure of the deal and his death — Interesting, curious perhaps but indicative of nothing. We, you, me and the others happened on the scene. Our ego’s want to make it all related. That makes good mystery novels but bad investigations.”

“Does this mean you are going to have me watch another prehistoric black and white movie?”

“No, it means we are going to visit a real private detective one with an office, a badge and who even carries a gun.”

DAILY FACTOID:
A scientific paper in Nature in September 2013 indicated that there exists a complete ‘machine ecology beyond human response time’ in the financial world, where stocks are traded in an eye-blink, and mini-crashes and spikes can occur on the order of a second or less.
“When we try to push our financial trades to the limits of the speed of light, it is time to recognize that machines are interacting with each other in rich ways, essentially as algorithms trading among themselves, with humans on the sidelines.”
 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A. Sam on Top: Can Machines Evolve?
“A number of years ago, a team of research scientists tried to improve the design of a certain kind of computer circuit. They created a simple task that the circuit needed to solve and then tried to evolve a potential solution. After many generations, the team eventually found a successful circuit design. But here’s the interesting part: there were parts of it that were disconnected from the main part of the circuit, but were essential for its function. Essentially, the evolutionary program took advantage of weird physical and electromagnetic phenomena that no engineer would ever think of using in order to make the circuit complete its task. In the words of the researchers: ‘Evolution was able to exploit this physical behavior, even though it would be difficult to analyze.’
This evolutionary technique yielded a novel technological system, one that we have difficulty understanding because we would never have come up with something like this on our own.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
  If one can generalize a gender based approach to Justice based on scientific studies, it is, “For men, first punish the guilty and for women, first protect the innocent.”
C. Today’s Poem:
Catullus 16
Original Latin
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,
qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,
quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.
Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necessest;
qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem,
si sunt molliculi ac parum pudici
et quod pruriat incitare possunt,
non dico pueris, sed his pilosis
qui duros nequeunt movere lumbos.
Vos, quod milia multa basiorum
legistis, male me marem putatis?
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo.
Literal English Translation
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,
Cocksucking Aurelius and anus-busting Furius,
You who think, from my verses
Because they are delicate, that I have no shame.
For it is right for the devoted poet
To be chaste himself, but it’s not
Necessary for his verses to be so.
[Verses] which then indeed have taste and charm,
If they are delicate and have no shame,
And because they can incite an itch,
And I don’t mean in boys, but in
Those hairy old men who can’t get it up.
You, because you have read my many thousands of kisses,
You think me less of a man?
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.
Whoa, them Romans sure knew how to deal with their critics. I did not know that what I heard on the streets growing up (and later in the offices of the high and mighty) was poetry. Now if modern artists could only have the balls to respond to their critics like Catullus did, one of them might even become Press Secretary for Not My President.
TODAY’S QUOTE:
From: Richard Diran 
Date: August 2, 2017 at 15:00:31 GMT+7
“Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. Antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable”.
Theodore Kaczynski. Ph.D., IQ 167, Unabomber

 

TODAY’S CHART:

479939_473436239344059_1792805814_n

Advertisements
Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    11 Joe 0006 (July 29, 2017)

 

 

 

I talk to myself in my mind all the time. I guess we all do. I suspect some people have debates with themselves. I never debate. I only make speeches. I picture myself speaking to a small gray homunculus with large glistening eyes sitting silently in a huge chair in front of me as I go on and on — me talking and it listening. It frightens me. I believe one day it will jump out of that chair, kick me in the balls and tell me to shut up.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CAMBODIA:

Those, like me, with only a 30-day visa who wish to remain longer in the Land of Smiles, must leave the country briefly and receive a new visa upon reentry. Usually, this means a run to a nearby country such as Cambodia, Myramar or Malaysia. I always wanted to visit Angkor in Cambodia. Although I know I will not visit everything on my prime bucket list, Angkor in Cambodia is on my secondary or fall back bucket list. So it was off to Cambodia for me.

We left for the airport at about six AM. I do not recall ever being up and about BKK that early in the morning. There may have been once or twice I came back home at that time but I am sure my diminished consciousness then erased any memory of them.

Anyway, the giant Koi were swimming gayly in their pool, the homeless sleeping on their cardboard beds and the ladies of the night on their way home passing the ladies of the morning on their way to work. We arrived at the airport in good time for our flight and without serious discomfort or difficulty, we landed in Siem Reap Airport Cambodia at 11 that same morning.

A tuk-tuk sent by the hotel met us and drove us to the hotel. I had spent a considerable amount of time choosing what appeared to be an elegant small relatively inexpensive hotel. The people at the hotel were quite nice but the hotel itself was, I am sorry to say, a bit of a dump. I later learned this is a common feature of all but the largest and newest hotels in the area.
IMG_3108
A Cambodian Tuk-tuk.

Siem Reap is a small dusty ex-French-provincial town with a delightful market and food center in the old French quarter along the river.

The next morning the tuk-tuk driver who drove us from the airport returned to take us to the archeological sites.

The first site was Angkor Wat itself.
w7HceYvKPm
Angkor Wat is reputed to be the largest religious monument in the world. While the size and the scope of the buildings were impressive, what astonished me most was the exuberance of the open areas enclosed by the walls (over 400 acres) and the magnitude of the moat (over 600ft wide) that surrounded the complex. Later I learned that nothing of the old city streets and buildings made of perishable material that filled the open areas now remains.
IMG_3053 IMG_3060

IMG_3068 IMG_3078

 

We also visited the old royal city of Angkor Thom (nine square miles within the moat encircled walls) and the state temple, the Bayon.

IMG_3079

 
We followed that with a stop at Ta Prom an eleventh-century monastery containing spooky trees whose roots appear to be eating the buildings and which were featured in the movie Tomb Raider. This was definitely a tourist favorite.

 

IMG_3094 IMG_3091

 

I especially liked the Bas-reliefs that appeared in the various buildings.
IMG_3058 IMG_3081

 

The ancient city of Angkor at its height in the 12th Century was the largest city on earth containing about one million inhabitants in an area of about 200 square miles. It was not until 19th Century London that another city in the world matched that in population. The Khmer empire reached its height at about the same time as Europe entered the High Middle Ages, China experienced the Song dynasty, and India saw the expansion of the Chola Dynasty. The next 200 years or so, primarily due to the migrations out of central Asia (and Scandinavia) during the height of the Warm Medieval Climate Anomaly, saw the destruction of theses empires, including the Khmer, or in the case of Europe the collapse of its culture and the fragmentation of its various polities

Anyway, the day’s tour required a lot of walking and climbing up and down stairs and through narrow low ceiling hallways and I was exhausted, so I canceled my next day’s visit to the more remote archeological sites and decided to explore Siem Reap instead.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Five Years Ago In T&T, I wrote much of the following. I have included some more recent information and added a new conclusion.

 

— A study by Carla Harenski and collaborators revealed that when looking at pictures of immoral acts, women’s judgments of severity correlate with higher levels of activation in emotion centers of the brain, suggesting concern for victims, whereas men show higher activation in areas that might involve deployment of principles. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4174863/]

(What this seems to me to mean, if one can generalize it to a gender based approach to public policy, is: “For men, first punish the guilty and for women, first protect the innocent.”)

— In another study conducted by Tania Singer and collaborators, they discovered that when men watch wrongdoers getting punished, there is activation in reward centers of their brains, whereas women’s brains show activation in pain centers, suggesting that they feel empathy for suffering even when it is deserved. [ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bakadesuyo/~3/bea6srN06Qs/do-women-and-men-have-different-moral-values#ixzz1dEZVO7XD%5D

— Numerous studies reviewed by Rachel Croson and Uri Gneezy found that women are more likely than men to reciprocate acts of kindness.https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&hl=en&user=TkNx8nUAAAAJ&citation_for_view=TkNx8nUAAAAJ:u5HHmVD_uO8C

In an analysis of the range of findings of the emotional differences between men and women in situations that could affect social decision-making, the authors opine that on the whole, women seem to be more empathetic and more focused on the collective good. This is broadly consistent with the suggestion by at least one of the researchers that women are more likely than men to base moral decision on a care orientation, whereas men gravitate more towards principles.

Even in that last vestige of unvarnished aggression and greed, the modern derivatives market, recent studies show that women outperform men.
,
— In a review of returns from January through November 2013 by Rothstein Kass, hedge funds run by women returned almost 10 percent on the funds invested while those run by men barely topped 6 percent.

According to Meredith Jones, a director at Rothstein Kass:

“There have been studies that show that testosterone can make men less sensitive to risk-reward signals, and that comes through in this study.”

The numbers are even more eye-popping for the six years from January 2007 through June 2013. Hedge funds run by women returned 6 percent compared with a 1.1 percent loss of the HFRX Global Fund Index. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained only 4.2 percent during the same time.

All which shows that not only do women hedge fund managers out perform men significantly but also beat the index which some economists maintain is impossible over time.

— My old professor, Carroll Quigley, who was a consultant to the Defense Department during WWII, told me that studies conducted during the war on responses to high-stress situations (like combat or assaults on hospitals) some men exhibited behavior that could be seen as heroic while others appeared cowardly. Women, on the other hand, appeared far less subject to these impulsive behaviors and mostly continued to do their jobs.

Also, women, absent external social influences, seem to outperform men in school to a greater and greater degree as those social limitations diminish.

After reviewing these reports and others, I wrote in Trenz Pruca’s Journal:

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

Can anyone really dispute that, had history, philosophy, economics and even science during these 10,000 years been written by women rather than men, their so-called fundamental verities would be much different then what we have now?

So what can we conclude? Women are more prone to protect the innocent, reciprocate kindness, focus on the collective good and less impulsive than men. When one adds that these qualities seem to also allow women to out-perform men even in the so-called manly activity like war and securities trading, is there any reason why women should not only be entitled to equality but the leadership of society as well?

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Peter on Top:

Some of Peter’s comments on the previous T&T post:

On life and Calcutta — is there a difference?

It’s all endless life — until it ends. Reminds me of the people who were going around the world for their honeymoon and would pass through India. Asked what to do for a couple of days. I said go to Calcutta (now Kolkata, of course), but it’s like Dante’s Inferno. You might take the next plane out. They went, and they did. Life’s kaleidoscope where the energy continues until there’s just Brownian Motion, but we’re gone by that time. Meanwhile, joys and sorrows in the Age of Kali.

On knowledge, olive oil, and atomic bombs:

How do we know what we know? Hume proved causality cannot be proved, so he stuck his notes in his desk drawer and got on with life.

I read an amazing tome, a classic, by Richard Rhodes about the Making of the Atomic Bomb. He went all the way back to the physicists of the late 19th century and early 20th – Germany in the ten’s and twenties. Factoid: Six Hungarians, including Teller and Szilard, were among the geniuses who developed the physics that led to fission and the bomb. This, and the Kochs, and the streets of BKK and Calcutta and NYC: Meanwhile, now reading about the glories and scams about extra virgin olive oil, the foundation of Mediterranean civilization. Next time you’re in town, we’ll visit our local 24th st. olive oil emporium. This as part of “….universe irrational and let it go at that.”

On quantum mechanics in Frascati with antipasto:

Once the box is opened and found to be empty, was the cat in there at one time? If Krishna is the ninth incarnation of Vishnu, which incarnation of the cat was in the box if it was in fact in the box at some point in time? And, if the box is still closed, which quantum mechanics would imply that nothing is set yet, does the box contain, not a cat, but extra virgin olive oil that is Not bogus veg oil smuggled in from Turkey? Reinforcing the notion of letting the irrational universe go and, with Hume, kicking back with cool Frascati and antipasto under an ancient olive tree.

On the meaning of life:

I always thought that life for people who had a calling or a vocation was easy. I will get my name up in lights; I will serve god; I will get rich. Whatever. In the absence of that, I figured survival and prospering would do.

More on the meaning of life:

The Tarot deck brother Jim gave me many years ago that was created by some woman in Sonoma includes a card the motto if which says: “Time Narrows as it passes.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

“In the matter of the preservation of liberty, despair is not an option.”

 

 

Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Happy Birthday Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

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

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

I left the apartment and headed off to breakfast. The sun was shining and sky was a clear blue. It was just warm enough to encourage a thin-film of sweat, not the mind numbing heat of a Bangkok afternoon.
IMG_20141010_141147_626_2
Street scene along the way to the health club.

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20141005_132658_516_2

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

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

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

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

IMG_20141006_150645_149

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

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

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

IMG_20141005_090107_028

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

As long as I am doing show and tell on my regular eating establishments, the following photo shows the sidewalk café where I often eat lunch.
IMG_20141010_141723_274

And this is where I eat dinner a lot. The waitress is a ladyboy with the body of a NFL linebacker who entwines orchids in her thick black hair and wears rhinestone encrusted platform high-heels.
IMG_20141010_142113_702

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

During my walks I often encounter the feral urban fauna of the City. Pigeons of course, but rarely on the street, too dangerous. I can, however, hear them cooing in the trees. Those little brown birds found in most cities flock around, wrens, starlings or something. Yeates would know. The ones in BKK look a bit greasy. The house next door to my apt has several large aviaries by the road containing Parrots that make a racket at certain times of the day.
IMG_20141007_120305_139

The mangy soi dogs don’t approach you as dogs usually do looking for a handout or a sniff of your crotch, but silently slink away if you pass too close to them. Cats, mean looking creatures, peek out at you from dark places or sun themselves on tiny unreachable ledges. Then, of course, there are the rats that scurry beneath your feet from crevice to hole as you walk by. Despite their meekness, I suspect the rats are the most sociable of the lot. They are certainly the most numerous.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

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

1. Food exports

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

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

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

2. Tourist murder solved?

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

And yes, not even the Thais believe it.

3. Hell, a Family Resort.

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

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

4. Eye of the beholder.

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

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

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

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
10588900_10204867413902150_189178716_n_2
Me standing before the entrance to the site of the Temple of Diana in Nemi, Italy (1997). I had spent almost 30 years, on and off, searching for it and found it on this trip when Ruth pointed it out the first time we passed by. Of course, as usual in Italy, the site was closed that day and no explanation given.

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

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

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

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

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

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

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

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

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

Have we seen this movie before?

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

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

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

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

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

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

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

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

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

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

“Well, maybe the Brethren are publicity shy.”

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

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

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

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

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

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I Didn’t Know That:

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

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

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

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

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

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

c. From God’s Mouth to Your Ears:

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

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

d. Profiles in Presidential Courage:

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

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

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

f. The Trolley Test II:

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

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

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

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

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

BONUS QUOTE:

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

Before and after September 11.


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

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Capt. Coast 0001 (April 20, 2012)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The temperature in BKK over the past few days has hovered around the 100 degree mark. Even some of the Thais have begun complaining about it. I did not swim today, the water in the pool has gotten too hot, so I worked out in the air-conditioned gym. There was no one in the gym but me. Even the attendants were nowhere to be found. It was spooky. After a while I began to feel that I was a character in a movie; either a horror movie or some thriller where I find myself running for my life from a band of rogue secret service agents looking for the prostitute who ratted them out and who had taken refuge in the health club sauna. I freaked out, showered quickly and left the building only to find the streets emptier than usual. So I hurried home, turned on the AC and buried myself under the covers in the dark.

Before my exciting jaunt to the health club, I stopped at the barber shop that I like in the Arab section of the city along the route from my apartment to the health club. The barber shop charges $5 for a hair cut, $5 for a shave, $5 for a manicure, $5 for a pedicure, $5 to have the skin on your feet rubbed off and $5 to have your ears cleaned by having a bunch of sharpened metal chopsticks plunged down you ear canal and wiggled about.

The news in Thailand also seems effected by the heat. Princess Lucky Girl, the Prime Minister has left on a visit to Beijing China. It is cooler there. As for the government she left behind, little seems to be going on, as though they all are waiting for something. The only activity seems  the continuing acrimonious but desultory debate over proposals to grant amnesty to Thaksin the Terrible, deposed, fugitive, exiled ex Prime Minister and brother to Princess Lucky Girl the current Prime Minister. Thaksin the Terrible himself recently announced at a gathering of supporters held in Cambodia a few miles from the Thai border that he planned to return to Thailand for his birthday in three months or so. The debate on the matter has gone on so long that even the Thai pundit community and the opposition could barely bestir themselves to comment on it. One interesting note: during the legislative debate on the amnesty proposal, in the middle of a slide show to show something or other about the issue, a pornographic slide appeared. The speaker of the chamber promptly appointed a committee to investigate.

In good news, there has not been a bombing or a flood in a while, although there has been a flurry of earthquakes that rocked the tourist mecca of Phuket. Immediately following the earthquake swarm, the Phuket tourist bureau declared, that there will be no more earthquakes in Phuket and the tourists should feel comfortable to return.

Meanwhile Gary, who fled to Cambodia to escape Songkran, reports that the people in Cambodia seem to like aging western retirees more than the Thais do, as long as you do not tell them you are American.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY, MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES, THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Still awaiting either inspiration, perspiration or a desperate request.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. 8300 BC – 1700 – Today

Long-Run Growth: In 8300 BC there were roughly 5 million people in the world—with an average standard of living of about $500/year. In 1700 there were roughly 640 million people in the world—with an average standard of living also of about $500/year. Today there are about seven billion people in the world. Approximately 5 billion of those subsist on an annual income that averages about $500/year ($1-$3 per day). 2 billion people do better than that. In other words all the benefits of industrialization and technological progress of the last 300 years went into growing the total population ten-fold and increasing the wealth of a little less than 1/3 of that population. Or to put it another way, today there are 8 times as many people living at $500 a day than there were in 1700. On the other hand, there are many many more of us today living at more than $500 per day than there were in 1700. Hooray for us. That is progress.
2. 2012

Here is one thing we in the US have not fallen behind other nations. So I ask, why did the secret service have to travel all the way to Columbia? Buy American I say.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Where have you gone cowboy?

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

A part of a primer for social studies in our times.

And if your preference is history then how about:

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such abominable business.”
~ Albert Einstein

“Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.”
–Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince

“It used to be that crazy people were more-or-less evenly divided between the (northern) Republican Party and the (southern) Democratic Party. Now they are concentrated in the Republican Party. This matters–and is a source of great terror and dismay for the non-crazy Republicans, and for us all.”
Brad DeLong

TODAY’S CHART:

This is another of those charts that I am not sure I understand what they are getting at. It seems to imply that should we significantly cut the entitlement programs we would have a lot of old and disabled people begging on the streets or competing as best they can with existing low-income workers, driving everyone’s wages down so that younger management types have a better life. What’s wrong with that?

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

I do not know about you, but I find something unsettling about this photograph. Polar Bears are supposed to float about on pieces of ice in the middle of the ocean, not climb mountains.

Categories: April 2012 through June 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. April 25, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2011: Recent surveys by Gallup found that world-wide roughly 700 million adults would like to migrate to another country permanently if they had the chance. The United States is the top desired destination country. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of these respondents, which translates to more than 165 million adults worldwide, name the United States as their desired future residence. With an additional estimated 45 million saying they would like to move to Canada, Northern America is one of the two most desired regions.

The rest of the top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 25 million or more adults would like to go) are predominantly European. Forty-five million adults who would like to move to the United Kingdom or to France as their desired destination, while 35 million would like to go to Spain and 25 million would like to relocate to Germany. Thirty-million consider moving to Saudi Arabia and an additional 25 million to Australia.

Hooray, for the USA. We are first again in something other than violent crimes and gun ownership. Should we consider channeling these new residents to Alabama [see Today’s Quote below] for indoctrination into American values. [30 million people want to migrate to Saudi Arabia? What’s that about?]

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

War and politics.

The on again off again pseudo war with Cambodia over an ancient temple, is on again. It seems as though the purpose of the current action is to kill about 10 troops and an equal number of civilians each day, and issue voluminous press releases demonstrating the military’s vigilance in defending the honor of King and country, in preparation for the up-coming elections (or coup). Make no mistake about it, this is the military’s private war. The civilian authorities have nothing to do with it other than to issue tepid assurances of support for the sacrifices of the troops in defense of the nations patrimony.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The “Hot” season is upon us here. The relatively comfortable temperatures that we experienced since last October have been replaced by a furnace that drives most farangs and many Thais indoors as surely as would a snowstorm. As I sit in the apartment, air conditioners set at their highest and watch Hayden and Nina play, I stare at the heating world outside. I realize that unlike what I had been used to in the US where the heat rising from the ground would hide the world behind shimmering waves, fracturing it into pieces that disappear and reappear as the waves crest and recede, here the world keeps getting clearer and brighter slowly leaching out its colors until suddenly without warning it darkens as a cloud passes in front of the sun and when the sun comes out again the colors are magically restored.

Recently I have been spending more and more time at the little masseuse’s apartment. Usually when Hayden and maid depart on whatever task set for them by SWAC, I travel from the apartment I share with them, a few steps around the corner to the masseuse’s place. She is usually at work at the health club, dispensing towels and cold drinks to the members of the club and providing massages, happy or therapeutic as the case may be, to men and women alike.

The health club is located in the Ambassador Hotel. About 20 years or so ago the Ambassador was considered one of the more fashionable hotels in the city. Not as fashionable, nor expensive as the venerable Oriental Hotel situated on a prime riverfront site. And, unlike the Oriental which maintained its luster and physical plant, the Ambassador has grown old and not particularly gracefully.

When it was new the owner of the Ambassador had many large aquariums built and placed throughout the public areas, each containing a great variety of fish, most of which were and still are large in size and usually gold or silver in color.

Extending from within the building are large aviaries, some as much as four stories high. These hold a good number of interesting bird species, some individuals of which appear to me to have lived in the aviaries since the hotel first opened. While the aviaries and aquariums cannot be said to be in disrepair, they look and are old.

On the second and third floor terraces of the hotel are several smaller aviaries usually containing one or two larger colorful birds with either distinctive calls or whistles, or the ability to shout out a word or two to passers-by. One bird in an aviary located near the pool lets out an annoying wolf whistle any time a woman walks by.

Now and then I would take Hayden with me to see the fish in the aquariums and visit the birds in the aviaries. We would accompany the old caretaker on his rounds to feed the birds and clean their cages. Hayden would help out a bit and the old man would relate to him some facts about the particular bird in each cage they visited.

During their rounds, I would often sit on one of the chairs of the fantastically shaped collection of furniture strewn about the terrace, all made from the roots of giant teak trees, giving the terrace the look of leafless extension of the jungle itself. I would smoke a cigar and watch them, engage in serious discussion as they trundled from cage to cage.

The owner of the hotel periodically remodels and upgrades small portions of the premises, currently a new lobby is under construction. The hotel now caters primarily to Indian and Arab tourists.

The health club is still in an old run down condition. A few years ago, however, a new spa was constructed in another part of the hotel offering some of the same services as the health club (minus the fitness equipment) for at least twice the cost.

About four aging female masseuses work in the health club along with about eight younger men who also double as fitness trainers.

Anyway, I spend my afternoons in her tiny apartment, playing with my computer and napping. It is quiet there, the only sounds are the deep-throated hum of the air-conditioner and the rumble, almost more felt than heard, of the traffic on the highway a few blocks away.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter 19 (cont.)

“I think I understand basically what you are asking me to do,” he whispered. “However, do I also understand correctly, that among the reasons for the anxiety impelling you to seek counsel is that you believe, Coign’s death, the absence of Mr. Charles Bowman and the purloined files and Pepper and Rooney’s reticence all have something to do with ‘Red Star’?” “Otherwise, I see no urgency in your wish to retain my services. Nor for that matter do I see that my looking into the Red Star matter could in anyway protect your interests and better than existing counsel, unless you also believe that you may want me to look into the other issues as well, in which case that is entirely another matter”

Vince did not know whether to be amused at the man’s archaic mode of expression, annoyed at his assumptions or relieved at his perceptivity. Nevertheless he responded, “Yes, I guess your right. I do fear all these things are related, but I have no way of knowing if they do. I am also so focused on the management of the firm, as you know we’re are going through difficult times, as is the entire economy, that I feel out of my depth if they do, and I simply do not know who I can rely on to advise me except competent counsel of my choice and Pepper and Rooney would not be it”

Ike stared back at him for what seemed to be a long time, then said softly, “All right, I think I will have to first look into Red Star on my own and I will get back to you as soon as I can to let you know if I agree to accept the assignment. I admit, I find what you have told me interesting. In the meantime, I think you should, decide who it is I actually will be representing and begin assembling all the material that you wish me to review. You must understand, that if I do undertake this matter my office is ill-equipped to service a case of this size and complexity and I will be relying on retaining additional counsel that I trust. It could be expensive.”

With that he got up and departed with the same abruptness that Vince had left First’s office.

Vince handled his emerging buyer’s remorse by assuring himself that the guy had been recommended by Mike Daly, someone he trusted and that he actually liked dealing with old Ike. Nevertheless, he felt cornered by his old weakness of preferring to work with and trust people on the basis of their idiosyncrasies rather than what he may or may not know of their abilities.

He then put into a call to “Fat Al” Pischotti, his favorite PI who agreed to meet with him as soon as Vince got to Fat Al’s office at the corner of Bush and Larkin on the edge of the tenderloin district.
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Today’s chart – Born Somewhere Else:

Percentage of each country (or territory) that is foreign-born migrants. Many former Soviet republics have seen a drop in foreign-born residents as scores of ethnic Russians left over the last two decades.


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

“There is no such thing as a free market. There is always a transaction cost.”

It costs money to get into the market, it costs money to participate in it and it inevitably costs money to get out. What’s so free about it?

TODAY’S QUOTE:

A guest quote provided to me by my friend “Density.”

“If the Japanese knew anyone from Alabama they would have never bombed Pearl Harbor.”
– Richard Prior

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science an...

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science and Society Picture Gallery: Al Capone (1899-1947), American gangster, 17 June 1931. ‘Al Capone sent to prison. This picture shows the Bertillon photographs of Capone made by the US Dept of Justice. His rogue’s gallery number is C 28169’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s factoid:

1929 May 7Chicago Outfit hit-men Albert Anselmi and John Scalise, two of the men suspected in the murder of North Side Gang leader Dean O’Banion and fellow mob boss Joseph “Hop Toad” Giunta, the current Unione Siculiana President were all killed during a lavish party held at Al Capone’s residence. The party was a ruse by mob boss Al Capone to lure the three men to their deaths after their plan to gain leadership of the Chicago Outfit by eliminating Capone was uncovered. The men were beaten to death by Capone, who used a baseball bat to commit the murders.

(They fall for the party bit every time.)

Today’s news from Thailand:

1. Flush with new funds (I do not know from where) and increasing popularity in Northeast Thailand, the opposition party (Red Shirts) are preparing for expected victory in the general elections scheduled for sometime next year, when and more importantly if they occur. I guess the following can be anticipated between now and then:
a, The military will redouble its efforts to institutionalize the organizational changes under-weigh within the military high command and within its chief rival the national police.
b. The military will use the remaining States of Emergency (over primarily Red Shirt areas) to destroy their infrastructure and intimidate potential voters.
c. The military will seek to institutionalize their administrative control over the rebellious South.
d. The current government while having no real option but to rely on the military will contribute by continuing their efforts to create legal barriers to the return of ex-prime minister Thaksin and by supporting populist appearing policies in hopes of winning over some voters.
e. Should all this fail and a Red Shirt victory appear possible then, if the military feels confident enough in their power, look for an attempted accommodation with the Red Shirts over budget and personnel issues and failing that suspension of the elections or another coup.

2. In Phnom Penh Cambodia the police have begun arresting “anarchist” cattle who are blocking traffic.

Karen people, rice growing in Doi In

Karen people, rice growing in Doi In (Photo credit: pierre pouliquin)

3. The clashes along the Thai Burma border between Karen rebels and the Burmese army appear to be abating. The conflict seems to have been touched off by a rebel group within the Karen forces who for some reason objected to an agreement between the Burmese government and the Karen leadership to turn over the guarding of the border with Thailand to the Karen forces.

Pookie’s adventures in Thailand:

Today I discovered that I was only about 5 pounds over my target weight. Whether my most recent weight loss has been the result of diet, exercise or due to my recent attack of food poisoning, I do not know.

This morning a went for my usual stroll through “Little Crimea.” The beach culture that I walk through is as alien to me as the surrounding Thai lifestyles and customs. I feel fortunate to be able every morning to experience three distinct societies; Thai through my interaction with the merchants and wait-people at the café where I always feel a bit like I am somehow doing something wrong; European with my discussions with Ian from Scotland ( who has lived here in Thailand for over 30 years) about things like how drunk was Winston Churchill during World War II and finally; The Great Slavic Nation whose mores are as opaque to me as any.

As usual, temporizing has come to my rescue with respect to my trip planning. Until yesterday my schedule was dependent to a considerable degree on the situation with Hayden. Yesterday I discovered that SWAC is depositing him with a family in Washington DC, thereby eliminating any possibility of my seeing him either in the US or in Italy. So, now my plans are to return to the US in mid December, visit with friends and family during the holidays, have my medical check-up and return to Thailand in early January.

Papa Joe’s fables and tales:

THE MASSEUSE’S TALE OF A NIGHT OF RAIN AND AN UMBRELLA.

Recently my masseuse told me that a few nights ago it had been raining heavily in Bangkok. She had retreated to her tiny room and lay upon her bed. Because the roof leaked badly she had opened her tiny umbrella to protect herself from the dripping water. She was unable to sleep. After a while there was a knock at her door and upon opening it she found the homeless woman who lived in the alley by her room standing there dripping wet. She invited her in and they spent the night waiting out the storm together huddled under the umbrella.

“That was very nice of you.” I said.

She looked at me quizzically and said, “She held the umbrella for half the night so that I could get some sleep.”

I guess the moral of this tale is, “When it is raining and the roof leaks and all you have is a small umbrella, charity can keep you dry and help you to get some sleep.”

Mopey Joe’s memories:

TOO MANY JOES (CONT.)

JOE (CONT.)

Joe’s business prospered and not long after the birth of Jack (my father), he along with a distant relative named Biancchi formed a construction company named Petrillo and Biancchi Construction.

Joe ran the operations side and Biancchi who could read and write English was in charge of office matters. The business succeeded beyond all expectations. It became one of the first significant Italian-American construction companies in the United States. They specialized in heavy construction, roads and the like. They built many of the roads in Westchester County as the United State’s vast road building and paving enterprise was just getting under-weigh to accommodate the motor car.

This was also a period of great movement of people from New York City into what they considered the bucolic environment of Westchester County. Petrillo and Biancchi built the infrastructure for the neighborhoods to accommodate these new style immigrants. The move from the City although first seen as  indication of material success soon became a frenzied flight from the real or imagined evils of the City.

Joe built the house on Dante Avenue in Tuckahoe. Today that home would be considered relatively modest in size, but for an immigrant family it was huge. More importantly it was built on Dante Avenue.

Dante Avenue, despite its name, had been off-limits for Italian Americans at that time. On it lived those who for one reason or another could not or would not live in Scarsdale or Bronxville, Jews because they were prohibited by deed and “gentlemen’s agreements” (as were Italians and Blacks), successful WASP businessmen in the area who wanted to live more closely to their businesses and others sensible and independent enough to realize that they could build their largish houses much cheaper in Tuckahoe that in the gold-plated restricted communities around them.

Joe and his family were the first Italian-Americans to move to Dante Avenue. There was little resistance, even if there was some concern, since most of the other residents tended to be somewhat iconoclastic for the time.

By about 1928, with his oldest son approaching nine or so, Joe decided he wanted to enjoy the wealth he had amassed and return to Italy in a style that would have been denied to him had he remained there and not emigrated to the United States. So, he sold his interest in the company to his partner for some cash and notes that could allow him to live back in his native country as almost a minor nobility.

Pepe’s potpourri:

1. The wisdom of Miracle Max:

Miracle Max: [Lifts and drops the arm of the dead Westley] “I’ve seen worse.”
The Princess Bride

2. My newest patron saint, Saint Moses the Black:


Moses was a gang leader in 5th century Egypt (Sort of like the 5th century version of the leader of the local “Hells Angels” or the “Mongols” or the Egyptian Al Capone if you will) and murderer and thief.

One day he was trapped by the authorities. In order to escape capture and avoid almost certain execution, Moses ducked into monastery and claimed sanctuary. Fearing arrest should he leave the precincts of the monastery, Moses wisely became a monk.

Shortly thereafter 4 brigands invaded the church to loot the poor box or something. Our Moses was on duty that night. He caught the thieves, beat them up and dragged them off to face the Abbot.

This thrilled the abbot. He announced to the other monks that Moses had seen the light of God since he only beat the shit out of the thieves and did not kill them.

When the good abbot died, the other monks acclaimed Moses abbot. It seems that at the time defense of the Holy Writ was better served by two fists than pious prayers.

Moses died in his seventies while leading a counter-attack on a local biker gang that had the temerity to assault Moses’ monastery.

Now here is a saint I think I can pray to.

Today’s quote:

When evening comes, I return home [from work and from the local tavern] and go to my study. On the threshold, I strip naked, taking off my muddy, sweaty work day clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and, in this graver dress, I enter the courts of the ancients, and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death; I pass indeed into their world.
Niccolo Machiavelli describing his exile in a letter to Francesco Vettori.

Today’s Photo:

Hayden’s friend Leo and his father Gerry.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: