Posts Tagged With: Christian

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Pepe 0008 (August 21, 2019)

“Time narrows as it passes.”
Saying on a Tarot card my brother Jim gave to Peter Grenell many years ago.
To my friend Eric, the old sailor, deep-sea diver, and pirate — Keep on Truckin.
To my beloved sister, Maryann, best wishes for a successful “Startup Mendocino” on August 25 in Ukiah.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Today I went swimming for the first time since last October. I walked to the Nepenthe pool here in the Enchanted Forest and sat on one of the reclining beach chairs in the shade of some redwood trees until I felt ready to swim. It was not much of a swim. I couldn’t complete even one lap, but I paddled around a bit and did some walking back and forth across the shallower end of the pool. It’s a start.

That evening after we went to bed, I remembered that I had not driven the car from the overnight no-parking tow-away zone in front of our house to where I normally park it during the night. I jumped out of bed, threw on Bill’s red velvet robe and ran out the door to attend to the problem. Now Bill was a big man, much bigger than I am, five or six inches taller and about 100 pounds heavier so his red velvet robe hung down to the tips of my crocs and draped loosely around my body. It appeared more like a paint tarp thrown loosely over an armchair than a robe. I looked like a disheveled dissolute medieval Cardinal newly returned from the grave running around at night searching for heretics to burn at the stake. I got into the car and drove it to the proper parking area and then walked back home through the paths and streets of the Enchanted Forest like a crimson specter carrying a Shillelagh. I suspect I will be brought before the HOC to explain why I had chosen to haunt the neighborhood.

As Frank tells us, “Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few.” The last precious few days have not only dwindled down to smokey memory but most of those memories have disappeared.

I swam again a few days later — more vigorously this time. That evening, we watched Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remmick, George C. Scott, and Ben Gazzara. The Gazzara family (Ben’s relatives) owned the shop, a grocery store, in Canicatti, Sicily next door to my family’s “Tabacci.” How is that for a remote and inconsequential factoid? (Another inconsequential factoid is that the presence of Zs in the last name of southern Italians signifies that they are descended from the Arab and Moorish settlers during their more than 300 years (Ninth to the Eleventh Centuries) occupation of the Island and the southern mainland. OK one more: Jews were the only ones to migrate to Sicily instead of invading it. In 1492, the same year that Columbus arrived in the Americas beginning the conquest, genocide (ethnic cleansing), and repopulation of those two continents, the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, recent conquerors of Sicily and sponsors of Columbus’ expedition, expelled those Jews, many of whom resettled in those parts Germany beyond the reach of the Christian crusaders and thus became a major component of the stateless Jewish nation of the Ashkenazim.)

This morning, I took a shower. I know that’s nothing momentous, but while my PICC line was in, I could neither shower nor swim. I thought to myself as I stood there for a long, long time with the water crashing down on me, how wonderful it was to shower again after eight months of sponge baths. That, in turn, reminded me of when I was a kid, in the second grade. We lived in a storefront with a soaped-up window. We had only a toilet and cold water, so every evening my mom would heat up water in a kettle on the stove and pour it into a galvanized tub in which she bathed my brother and I. Yes, it has been a long time from May to September.

Later, Naida and I discussed something amusing and interesting that I wanted to write about here but I forgot what it was. Only the sense that it was amusing and interesting remains. That’s good enough for me.

On Thursday night, we went to the B-street Theater housing Sacramento’s premier live theater group. We saw The Last Match, a one-act play about a tennis match at the US Open between the aging US champion on the verge of retirement and the young upstart Russian challenger, and their wives. It was a well-staged fascinating comedy-drama. The only problem with the show was that even with my hearing-aid turned up, I could only make out about a quarter of the words spoken by the actors. I blamed it on the failure of modern acting schools to focus on projection and diction and not on any deficiency in me or my auditory equipment.

The next day I planned to spend the morning swimming. Instead, I occupied the entire day extending well into the evening watching old Red Skelton movies. I know, I should be shot and put out of my misery. Who watches Red Skelton movies today? Whoever watched Red Skelton movies? I didn’t when I was a kid —not even Saturday mornings at the Tuckahoe Itch where for 25 cents we watched a double feature, a bunch of cartoons and Movietone News of the Week. OK, I admit, I enjoyed watching them this week, especially “The Whisperer” series — truly an adventure in silliness.)

hayden… teenage forgetting — grandparents v parents — Bella bru — sunglasses — lake — zumba pool — condo — rose garden — bookstore — Hamilton quote — epstein

I wrote the above as a mnemonic device so I could come back after a few days and hopefully recall what happened. It is now a few days later. Let us see how well it worked.

Hayden — I recall leaving home at 8AM and driving into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake in order to drive to a large skatepark camp near Tahoe. I stopped in the Bela Bru parking lot and called H because I suspected he would have changed his mind and forgotten to call and tell me.

Teenage forgetting — He answered the phone and said they changed their mind and had forgotten to call and tell me.

Grandparents v parents — I have no idea why I added this except perhaps grandparents and the very old (alter cocker?) tend to be more forgiving of the foibles of the young than parents because, I guess, but for a vague sense of one more disappointment among many, they have little enough to do anyway so there was usually nothing else they had to give up.

Bella Bru — so, having little else to do, I entered Bella Bru ordered my favorite breakfast of Cafe Latte and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with Cream cheese.

Sunglasses — for the rest of the day, I believed I had lost my favorite sunglasses. I tore the car apart and searched the house for them. That evening, as I sat in the recliner, I looked down and found the glasses had been hanging from one of my shirt buttons all day.

Lake — After breakfast, I went for a walk around the lakes at Town Center.

Zumba pool — I walked past the morning Zumba dancing class exercising in the health club pool.

Condo — and past the construction of the new and controversial 200 unit condominium project. It was not the best planned and designed concept. I would have preferred a walking street through the site with additional commercial on the ground floor. In any event, I support adding residential units to large shopping centers like Town Center so it had my silent approval for however much it is worth.

Rose Garden — After my walk around the lakes, I sat there and enjoyed myself contemplating something I no longer remember.

Book store — After meditating or whatever in the rose garden I walked to the bookstore, A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books. I seem to recall there were a few books that interested me. I no longer remember the titles of any of them.

Hamilton quote — I have no idea what this relates to or to what quote I was referring to unless it was this one I had read a few days ago:

Pasted Graphic
Epstein — Given the current news surrounding everything about this man, this could refer to almost anything.
A strange and mysterious thing came flying over the back fence today — a small box. In that box nestled a coffee cup filled with candy. It is sitting on a cabinet next to where I am typing this. I wonder about it. Perhaps it is a magic cup. Maybe if I rub it three times, a coffee genie will pop out and offer me three wishes. This requires some deep thought.

On Monday, I drove again into the Golden Hills. It was HRM’s first day of high school. I stopped again at Bella Bru, this time for lunch. As I was ordering, to my surprise N, Hayden’s mom, called to me. She was there with Jake’s mom. I joined them and we spent most of the lunch discussing the problems of teenagers. I then picked up H and Jake at the skatepark. They were very excited and happy about their first day of high school. I dropped them off at D’s house and returned to the EF.

A few more days have passed by. I assume I must have done something of at least moderate interest. Yesterday, I felt sick and spent most of the day in bed. Today, I felt better. That interests me even if it does no one else.

Well, today is Wednesday. Last night Naida could not find her wallet. We tried to remember when she used her credit card last. One of the places we considered she may have left it was at the Theater. In our attempts to recall the day we attended the play, I was convinced it was Saturday. She was not sure and thought we went there on Friday. Today at the theater we discovered it was Thursday (as I had written above but had not checked). My memory failures are going beyond simply humorous stories about the foibles of aging.

How about that, It is Friday evening already. It is Irene Dunne day on TCM.

We attended the Saturday Morning Coffee. I am beginning to enjoy talking to the people there rather than just sitting in the corner observing them and writing about it here. Perhaps I am growing up. Winnie, who is on immunotherapy, seems to be doing well. She was distraught when she first was diagnosed with brain cancer. Now that it seems to have been halted, at least for a while, she tries hard to enjoy every day as much as possible. Good for her. I also had a lengthy conversation with another woman, She worked in the legislative bill room while the Coastal Act was going through the process. Later, while working for a workman’s comp. company, she retained one of the attorneys from my firm for some legal work. This is another example of the “small world” aspect of coincidence. She also told me that one of Senator Henry Mello’s sons often attends the coffee but was not there today.

After that, I left again for the Golden Hills and picked up HRM, Jake, and Kaleb and drove to Placerville where we had lunch before I dropped them off at “Joe’s Skate Park.” While they were skating the cement hills of the park, I nosed around through some of Placerville’s shops. Later on the way back to EDH, the chattered on about their excitement over starting high school. I tried to leave them with Pookie’s Ten Cent Words of Wisdom for Adolescents by explaining that their high school years would be among the most memorable of their lives, but they should understand that because this is the time in one’s life most open to deep feelings and emotions inevitably they would find some things as bad as they had ever experienced before but they needed to know and remember that they will pass. Pretty mundane if you ask me.

The next day, was Ice Cream by the Pool Day where many of those who attend the Saturday Morning Coffee sat around the pool, ate ice cream and talked. Naida and I had an enjoyable conversation with Winnie about life and loves past. On the way back to the house we ran into the new neighbor who had worked for Lehman Brothers and now sells memberships in some sort of a travel club. He told us the man who had moved into the other side of us (The one who tried to chat up Naida) used to be an immigration lawyer in the Bronx. Small world indeed.

On Monday, I picked up HRM and Jake after school and took them to lunch. Alas, they wanted to go to Chick’a’fil which I am trying to boycott because of their support of Trump and their stance on LGBT. I decided to remain silent about political issues and went with them.

This morning, Naida and I woke-up and began chatting to each other about our dreams. We had both dreamt about summing up our lives, our successes, and failures. She on the difficulties, successes, and failures of being a woman trying to make her way in the world and me about the places I have been and the things that I have seen and the places and things I would never see and experience.

So, now it is time to travel again to the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion.

Take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

In an effort to keep my mind from obsessing on the state of the world which I am convinced is rapidly approaching the end of times and away from trashy novels and old movies, I sometimes like to dwell for a bit on why things are like they are. No, not why did Trump get elected or why is the environment in a terminal tailspin, but the bigger picture like, is there a general rule explaining the why? Sort of like a thought experiment. Not because I expect to come up with any general principles of use to anyone, but only to amuse myself and then forget.

Let’s take agar in a Petri Dish. Place something in it like cells, bacteria or whatever and if properly prepared and some outside source of energy, such as light, is added, they grow and grow until either an external event occurs to halt the growth or they consume the agar and die. Life on earth is a bit like life in a Petri Dish, just add some light and the life grows until it consumes all that it feeds on and dies. But life on earth has lasted for billions of years and hasn’t consumed the resources that sustained it. Well, perhaps once or twice it consumed one or more of the resources necessary for its survival and it died in one or more of the five or six mass extinctions earth experienced. So what?

In Harvard, a young physicist/mathematician postulated that life is a mathematical formula and can (will) occur always and everywhere. It is probably true for the organic compounds necessary for life as we conceive it, but others who have studied this seem to believe that to go from organic compounds to bacteria or to eukaryotes requires a very unique environment such as certain deep ocean thermal vents with a complex composition. This is all well and good, but we need some generalization as to “what is life” to help make things clearer.

Schrodinger back in 1944 postulated that life is something small in size and permanent in time (crystals he believed at the time). Watson and Crick proved this up except instead of a crystal they discovered it was a complex molecule (DNA). In order to maintain that life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, Schrodinger seems to argue that the biosphere is not an isolated system because the cost of this order is the release of heat into the environment and the capture of free energy mostly from the sun.

This I found interesting and helpful. When coupled with the fact that many believe the biosphere extends as a band from somewhere below the surface of the lithosphere (ground) up until it dissipates somewhere near the stratosphere, it helps me to explore a possible concept on which I believed I could replace my uninformed uncertainty with dogmatic bias.
(to be continued if I feel up to it)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

The following continues the reproduction of the entries in my diary from 1963 that I had begun in the previous T&T post. It also includes my current comments and clarifications on the entries.
January 9, 1963

Today started well. I saw some of the prettiest women on the subway this morning. Fatigue, however, from lack of sleep dulled my whole afternoon. I even cut class so that I could come home early and rest.

I am falling behind in my studies. I do not think I will finish Introduction to Law by exam time.

(All this worry about the exams turned out to be just my usual flight into hysteria. In fact, when the exam results came out, I placed second in the class. This convinced me law school was a snap, so I began cutting class and ignoring my studies. I even arrived drunk to my spring partnership exam. As a result after the spring exams, I almost flunked out. From then on I tried to get back on top but, at best, my marks were undistinguished. I went on to be a very mediocre attorney, but a better than average advocate.)

 

January 10, 1963

I received a letter from Tad. He really is in the Army. All along, I thought he was pulling one of his frauds again. His vocabulary has gone Army.

He wrote about meeting Suzi, Kevin’s old girlfriend, in Washington on New Year’s. She told him that I was “harmless.” Maybe I am. Nevertheless, no man should take such a blow to his devoutly cultivated reputation lying down. I need to get of a few defamations about her and her girlfriends. I need to write back to Tad soon.

On a brighter note, I got nine more girls to sign up for the trip to Bermuda.

My studies are still going poorly and I am concerned.

My parents had another argument tonight. They tried to use me as a mediator. I refused hoping to avoid trouble. No such luck, I ended up in trouble anyway for refusing.

(Tad was one of those Georgetown boys (like Justice Kavanaugh), a trouble maker and carouser with a strange, to me at least, sense of morality (more a doctrinaire commitment to ritual than a sophisticated understanding of ethics). He was also a close friend. He was one of a group of students I hung with including Pat Buchanan and the entire Buchanan clan as well as David Hearne, one of the Irish ambassador’s sons who a decade later made headlines by running over an elderly pedestrian with his car and claiming diplomatic immunity to avoid liability. The oldest of the ambassador’s sons, Maury, was a compulsive gambler. Bob, my roommate at the time (and later manager of Prince, The Lovin Spoonful, and Earth, Wind, and Fire among others) and I used to make some extra change indulging Maury’s passion by fleecing him at a crooked card game in our rooms. He knew it was crooked but didn’t seem to mind. Later, Maury died by shooting himself while practicing quickdraws with a loaded pistol from a shoulder holster.

We all spent a lot of time together drinking, fighting, general carousing, and very little studying and going to class. We ran Pat for his first office, president of the off-campus student government. We cheated and he won (that’s a long story). I had always believed Pat, who I considered both violent and nuts, would end up in the electric chair. Imagine my surprise when a decade or so later, I was sitting in the American Embassy in Rome on election night and hearing that he was Nixon’s speechwriter (another Zelig moment). Anyway, back to Tad, I persuaded a young woman (an heiress from New Jersey) to give Tad another chance after she told him she never wanted to see him again because he had done something unconscionable which he often was wont to do. They eventually married. She regretted it bitterly until about 20 years later when she got it together enough to throw him out. Sometime later, I ran into her mom (a woman who had born 12 children and always claimed that bearing 12 kids had made her certifiably insane) somewhere in New Jersey. She blamed me for ruining her daughter’s life.

Place it all somewhere in Italy in the Fifteenth Century, add a few poisoning and a sword fight or two, and it would all be quite Shakespearean, don’t you think?)

 

January 11, 1963.

I met with the study group immediately after class today.

I wrote a return letter to Tad containing a defense to Suzi’s slander, and a few other absurdities.

The study session pissed me off today. I thought I knew enough but I often was bewildered, muddled, and wrong. I hope this does not happen during the exams.

I must get in touch with Pat and push him to promote the trip to Puerto Rico at Hunter College.

Dammit, I must make an extra effort at my studies.

Today, I learned that “Twentieth Century” is doing a program on “Winnie” Churchill (My sort of friend from College) as a “typical” Rhodes Scholar. He is anything but typical — ego-centric yes. Nevertheless, I am glad to learn that at least one of my classmates is making it.

(Winnie had been my classmate and not so friendly competitor at Fordham. I have written about him before (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/category/winnie-and-i/). He was a scion of the American side of the famous English family.

While I was attending law school, I also had a business chartering airplanes and flying college students to Bermuda and Puerto Rico for Spring Break. A few years before I had broken the IATA rule that no airplane could be chartered except by an organization whose members traveling on the proposed flight had been members for over six months prior to the retention of the charter. I broke it by simply attesting that the members had been such for six months. I then walked out of the airline office and backdated their membership cards when I sold them their tickets. This loophole in the rule eventually permitted the establishment of charter airline services with often disastrous results. In 1963, I had chartered four airplanes, two for Bermuda and two for Puerto Rico. The travel agency I was working with took the profit on the lodging and me on whatever I could make on the sale of tickets on the planes.)

 

January 12, 1963.

I met with the study group again today. It was a bore. I wonder if any of the others in the group will make it. T. Russo, A. Shifler, O. Shimshidian, G. Cantarella, N. Guarneri, J. Little, and M. Ryan. It will be interesting to watch them develop.

I got into a fight today with one of the Burns Guards.

(Tony flunked out of law school. Al graduated. I do not know what happened to him. Ora became a highly respected admiralty attorney in NY. Gino graduated. I do not know what happened to him either. Nunzio who looked a lot like Arnold Stang, graduated and became a small-town lawyer and lived in Bronxville, I think. John graduated, practiced law in JAG, and spent a lot of time acting in summer stock. Mike, I have no idea what happened to him.

I do not recall the fight with the Burns Guard or whether it was a fistfight or just an argument. Could have been either.)
January 13, 1963.

I was not going to write anything here today for lack of anything interesting to write about, but, this evening, I just finished an argument with both my mother and my father.

It all began with an argument with my mother that started when she asked me to continue teaching her how to drive. I tried to explain to her that because we are family when one of us takes up the role of teacher to another, tensions resulting in arguments often result as they had in my previous attempts to teach her how to drive. My efforts to explain this failure. I tripped over my words and became more and more frustrated.

Mom responded by claiming “no one in this family was willing to sacrifice for her.” With that dad jumped in stating that he had paid fifty dollars for her driving lessons.

I then came in on mom’s side and, of course, dad and I then became combatants. He suggested that I leave. I responded, “perhaps we both should.” I obviously botched the whole argument so I stormed off to my room. Mom and dad then went at it again at the top of their lungs. Dad threatened to leave home.

(As you can guess by now my parents argued a lot. Years later after they retired, and I brought them to California from the East Coast to live in my house. My father achieved a bit of local renown for, after some of their more passionate arguments, running out onto San Francisco’s Douglass Street, the street in front of the house, and with arms raised to the heavens screaming, “Why me God? Why Me?”)

 

January 14, 1963

Today I listened to the President’s State of the Union Address. I don’t think there has been someone who could speak lime him since Churchill. At a time as dangerous and confused by crises, he speaks with the power and conviction of the greatest orators of the past.

I wonder if the last phrase of the speech could be stricken by the Supreme Court. He said, “… with the help of almighty God we shall prevail.”

I think he is the right man at the right time. He seems to have begun to turn back the advance of communist totalitarianism and may be leading the US to victory in the Cold War.(As Churchill and Roosevelt, Lincoln, Wilson, and Washington led us in prior wars against totalitarianism.)

As far as the material content of the message is concerned, it appears to be only a general summary of the Domestic and International situation. The only new point relates to the Tax-Cuts that appear, after listening to the commentators, to not be the ones that had been expected, but Tax-cuts that were more acceptable to the public.

 

(The President referred to of course is JFK. A few years before, I worked parking cars at his marriage to Jackie. RFK left the ceremonies to personally thank each one of us for helping out. I always looked at RFK as someone special after that.)
(More in a few weeks)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

In the dark alleyways of history, a woman alone is always prey.

Dress a woman in man’s clothing and she can safely negotiate those dank streets. A man in a dress will be shocked at his own vulnerability.

A woman’s option is to either submit or band together with other women to rule over men. This means, for their own protection, women must control at least one of a society’s social mores, economic power or political leadership.

 

B. Today’s Poem:
Given the events of the recent weeks in the United States, the massacres of innocents by White Nationalists, the abandonment of the fight against climate change, shredding of protections against nuclear holocaust and the looting of the national treasury, this poem by William Butler Yeats captures the dread we in America feel at this time as well as it did one hundred years ago. Then the slouching beast crept towards Berlin. Today its claws grip the heart of our nation while the worst in our citizens march into our cities and towns, our schools and shops our churches, synagogues, and mosques full of passionate intensity and carrying assault weapons.

The Second Coming
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born
.
William Butler Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He belonged to the Protestant, Anglo-Irish minority that had controlled the economic, political, social, and cultural life of Ireland since at least the end of the 17th century. Most members of this minority considered themselves English people who happened to have been born in Ireland, but Yeats was staunch in affirming his Irish nationality. Although he lived in London for 14 years of his childhood (and kept a permanent home there during the first half of his adult life), Yeats maintained his cultural roots, featuring Irish legends and heroes in many of his poems and plays. He was equally firm in adhering to his self-image as an artist. This conviction led many to accuse him of elitism, but it also unquestionably contributed to his greatness. As fellow poet W.H. Auden noted in a 1948 Kenyon Review essay entitled “Yeats as an Example,” Yeats accepted the modern necessity of having to make a lonely and deliberate “choice of the principles and presuppositions in terms of which [made] sense of his experience.” Auden assigned Yeats the high praise of having written “some of the most beautiful poetry” of modern times.
(www.poetryfoundation.org/)

 

C. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:
1. Naida says she never told the tale of the giraffes and the acacia trees that appeared in the preview T&T post. She said it was me who told the story after reading one of my books about trees that talk to one another. Although, I apologize if in fact, it was me that made up the story. Nevertheless, I refuse to change it as written.

2. Terry, I think, also wrote that I had made a mistake about something, but I no longer remember what. So, I apologize both for the mistake and my failure to remember what it was about.

3. Over the last month or so, I have not responded to a number of e-mails from readers of T&T. I am not sure why I failed to do so. To those whose emails I have not responded I apologize and promise I will try to do better in the future.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“It was the best of crimes, it was the worst of crimes; it was born of love, it was spawned by greed; it was completely unplanned, it was coldly premeditated; it was an open-and-shut case, it was a locked-room mystery; it was the act of a guileless girl, it was the work of a scheming scoundrel; it was the end of an era, it was the start of an era; a man with the face of a laughing boy reigned in Washington, a man with the features of a lugubrious hound ruled in Westminster; an ex-Marine got a job at a Dallas book repository, an ex-Minister of War lost a job in politics; a group known as the Beatles made their first million, a group known as the Great Train Robbers made their first two million; it was the time when those who had fought to save the world began to surrender it to those they had fought to save it for; Dixon of Dock Green was giving way to Z-Cars, Bond to Smiley, the Monsignors to the Maharishis, Matt Dillon to Bob Dylan, l.s.d. to LSD, as the sunset glow of the old Golden Age imploded into the psychedelic dawn of the new Age of Glitz. It was the Year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and it is altogether fitting that this crime of which we speak should have been committed in one of Yorkshire’s great country houses, Mickledore Hall, and that its dénouement should have taken place in that most traditional of settings, the Old Library …”
Hill, Reginald. Recalled to Life . MysteriousPress.com/Open Road.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Screenshot_20190810-123722_Gallery
The Old Sailor, Deep-sea Diver, World Traveler, Pirate, Treasure Hunter, and Raconteur Getting Acupuncture.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Joe 0008 (August 6, 2009)

 

“UBUNTU”
I am because we are.”

 

“Top Tip: If you find yourself ‘speaking the hard truth’ that ‘we are all to blame,’ this a good indicator that in fact you, in particular, are to blame.”
KJ Healy

Happy Birthday Katie Dreaper

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Today, I awoke feeling chipper (an appropriate but seldom used word). After a good nights sleep, I was awakened by the bright sunlight slanting through the shutter’s slats and onto the bed. The still air of morning moderated the heat of what was destined to become a sultry scorching day. The sound of the dog barking at every squirrel and cat in the neighborhood that chanced to step within fifty feet of the house accompanied me into the kitchen. Two Thomas’ Original English Muffins lay on my plate all crispy and slathered in butter and fig preserve. The coffee hot and especially tasty made the morning complete.

I was sitting in my reclining chair enjoying the morning, happily dunking my muffins into the cup of coffee when Naida came downstairs ready to leave for a day at the Fair selling her books. She wore tight dark navy blue slacks and a very attractive navy blue blouse. She asked me how she looked.

I felt a bit of jealousy as I looked her over imagining the 70 and 80-year-old lotharios at the Fair joking with her and sweet-talking her. Now you may think that boinking and boffing among 80 year-olds is an image best avoided and that in our dotage jealousy is far from our minds — we being more mature and significantly less capable. On the contrary, even in our decrepitude, we are as randy as ever and far less constrained by social mores.

Upon first reaching the not so tender age at which I have recently arrived, this state of affairs surprised me. I thought the days of sweaty nights, and ceaseless desire was behind and if truth be known, beyond me (although I believe I remain a pretty good kisser, hugger and nibbler of ears).

A month or so ago, an elderly gentleman (younger than me, alas) moved into the empty house next to ours and immediately began energetically chatting up Naida until the man who lived in the house across the way told him to knock it off since she already had a significant other. Now, this amused me greatly. I realized we had reached that age where we became teenagers again.

In keeping with my newly revived teenager-hood, I entertained myself with thoughts of smacking him across the head with my cane. In my adolescence, I may have done so were we standing toe to toe, bathing in testosterone and shouting at each other. I would, however, never go in search of someone in order to deliver the blow, comforting myself with the fiction I would do so were we ever to meet in a dark alley. Now, in my dotage, I am certain almost nothing would prompt me to leave my recliner and certainly not on this lovely morning. Besides, Naida undoubtedly would think I had gone nuts. That is another pleasure of growing old, you can become as crazy as you want in your own mind without feeling guilty or worried about your sanity — after all the next stop on the train is childhood.

Never forget laddie, today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be. So, enjoy the day. It is never coming around again. And so, I did.

On Friday I took Hayden, Jake, and Kaleb to the State Fair. I picked up Hayden and Jake at Dick’s house. They were lazing in HRM’s teen-ager cave. A few more wall posters have been added to the decor and the small fridge is now full of soft drinks. We then picked up Kaleb at his mother’s apartment. During the drive to the Fair, I listened to teen-talk — about cars and motorcycles and what they would do once they get their driver’s license.

At the Fair, I left the three of them to wander about while I sat in air-conditioned building A eating a Cinnabon. We did visit the animal barns together. Today was sheep, longhorn cattle, and llama day. There was one section that featured attack llamas. Large vicious-looking beasts trained to protect herds of sheep from wolves and coyotes.

IMG_6520

Jake, HRM, and Kaleb at the Fair standing near the Attack Llamas pen.

 
When I got home that evening and told Naida about the attack llamas, she asked, “What could they fight with, they have no fangs and their hooves are not that hard?” “Spit,” I responded. “Wolves and coyotes are very fastidious. They do not like to be spat upon.”

We then had dinner and Naida told me the story of the two angora goats she owned when she lived with Bill on the ranch along the Cosumnes River. It was a long and fascinating story of escape, punishment, sorrow, affection, return the use of angora fleece for hair on dolls and the ability of acacia trees to repel giraffes.

I think this is a good time to insert one of my favorite Ogden Nash poems:

The one L lama, he’s a priest
The two L llama, he’s a beast
And I will bet my silk pyjama
There isn’t any three L lllama.
— O. Nash, to which a fire chief replied that occasionally his department responded to something like a “three L lllama.”

All things considered, it was a good day in spite of the heat and the national news.

The next day I left for the Bay Area for my sister’s birthday party at her daughter’s home in Oakland.

 

 

B. A BRIEF TRIP TO THE EAST BAY:
The traffic was brutal on I-80 that morning. It took almost three hours to travel the 90 miles from Sacramento to Oakland. I arrived at a rather fancy apartment complex in a newly built-up section of Oakland. Thirty-years ago during the eight years I was the director of the State Coastal Conservancy, my office was situated in downtown Oakland. Often, I visited this area at lunchtime since there were a few decent restaurants I liked that had located in the mostly empty decaying warehouses that then marked the neighborhood. About 15 years later, the younger Shorenstein and Pappadopolus teamed up to propose to the then-Mayor Jerry Brown, a massive development project in the area. It was about then that I last ventured into Oakland. Terry and I had proposed to Mayor Jerry, the rehabilitation of the old Fox theater that recently had been landmarked. The deal ultimately fell through as they almost always did whenever Terry and I teamed up.

Katie, Maryanne’s daughter, and her intended Quinn live in one of two newly constructed buildings built by the same developer. Inside, it is lavishly equipped with everything the young techies would want, a super large exercise room, swimming pool, and even a coffee and wine lounge. On the roof where the party was held, a large party terrace had been built equipped with a huge television screen, kitchen, and even a fire sculpture with real fire. Perhaps its purpose was not art but for toasting marshmallows.

IMG_6539

 

On the outside, the public amenities were less lavish. On the good side, the first level was well stocked with spaces for shops. I saw a barbershop and a tavern open with tables and chairs on the sidewalk outside. Less happy is the lack of greenery and pedestrian amenities.

I enjoyed the party. Members of Maryanne’s cooking group were there along with some of her friends from when she lived in Berkley. I had some enjoyable conversations about drugs, living in Costa Rica and food.

IMG_E6534

Maryanne, her daughter Katie and the Birthday Cake.

 
After the party, I drove to 4th Street in Berkeley to meet with Terry. I had not been to 4th street in over twenty years. I marveled at how little had changed — the same Peet’s Coffee, kitchen shop, cafe, paper shop and so on. I met Terry at Peet’s and we reminisced over our past legislative battles. Prompted by my behind the scenes story here in T&T about the passage of the Coastal Act, Terry described the background of the enactment of his legislation prohibiting LNG terminals in California. Governor Brown opposed Terry’s bill. Eventually, Terry won but at the cost of his removal as the author of the bill. I then told about my CEQUA reform bill. It was drafted in response to a court victory for CEQA but considered too environmental to pass the Senate. Nevertheless, we did pass it in that house. Unfortunately, in the Assembly, Speaker McCarthy told us that the price of approval was that, like Terry with the LNG bill, Senator Smith had to be removed as author and Assemblyman Art Agnos inserted in his place. So it goes in the hurly-burly of politics.

We then decided to get a drink at a restaurant nearby. I ordered prosecco and he a red wine from Lombardy. We sat in front of a display of shucked oysters. Suddenly, I felt a great urge to have some. I had not eaten an oyster in years. In fact, I had not eaten much of interest since my most recent illness began. So, we ordered some Kumamoto Oysters. Later, on my drive back to the Enchanted Forest, I reminisced about one of my favorite eateries, the Oyster Bar in New York’s Grand Central Station. I would stop there almost every evening after I left my office in Rockefeller Center. And even after leaving NY, I would try to stop there whenever I returned for a visit. I remember sitting there at the Oyster Bar with my son Jason. We had stopped in NY on our way back to Europe. It was the first time he had tried Oysters. His verdict, “interesting.”

 
C. ONCE MORE IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
The next day I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM, Jake, Kaleb, and Ethan. They wanted me to drive them to Costco for lunch. For some reason, they believe that Costco’s pizza is the best in the area.

Today is Tuesday. It is early afternoon. It has been about two days since the trip to Costco with the Scooter Gang. I recall nothing that may have happened since then except Naida and I had dinner at a local Indian restaurant and went shopping at Raley’s. That means, as far as I am concerned, nothing else existed for two days but for that dinner at the local Indian restaurant and shopping at Raley’s. Life is brief, but if I don’t record it here it is briefer still. I guess that is one reason for keeping a journal.

For some reason, despite shedding myself of everything at least four times in my life, two diaries I had kept way back in the early sixties remained with me. Some time ago, I decided to read one written in 1960, I think. The entire diary consisted only of a story about a torrid but doomed love affair that began in January of that year and ended appropriately in December. Despite what from the Diary appeared to be a momentous romance, I recalled nothing about it. Not even the women’s name that for some reason never appeared in the Diary. Does that mean the love affair never existed until that day I happened to pick up that Diary and read it? Then again, maybe I made it all up, but why?

Perhaps, I will copy it out and write it as a story — Poe like. The old man on a dreary night in bleak December sits alone by the fire — no no-one has a fireplace any more — by the flickering light of the computer screen. He picks up the long-forgotten diary and begins to read… Nevermore… Hmm, could her name have been Lenore? Alas, as far as I recall, there were no Raven’s in Tuckahoe, NY.

Later in the afternoon Naida and I ate at one of my favorite places in Sacramento. — Not for the quality of the food but because of the lovely outdoor garden to eat it in.

IMG_6541

Pookie in the Tower Cafe garden.

 

 
D. BACK AGAIN TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

Once again it was time to return to the Bay Area for my immunotherapy treatment. On Wednesday, Naida and I left Capitol City for Peter and Barrie’s house. After a rather uneventful drive, we arrived to find the house delightfully full of people. We were greeted not only by Peter and Barry, but also by their two granddaughters both under four years of age, Alex their father (Peter and Barrie’s son), and Peter’s brother’s son’s two teenage daughters. The granddaughters were suitably giggly and alternated shyness with jumping into your arms for a hug. The teenagers exhibited the usual reserve of teenagers observing us Vecchi as though we were not completely grown up. They did happily carry the little ones around in their arms whenever they felt the need for affection and security. Alex was fatherly stern while Peter, Barrie and we smiled happily at the turmoil.

As usual, Barrie made something tasty and interesting for dinner. She made it from a recipe given to her by a woman from India. Its main ingredients consisted of yams and pineapple-infused hot dogs. I found it delicious.

The following morning, after goodbyes and hugs all around, we left for the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor told us that the CT scans showed that the tumor had not grown (good for me). Unfortunately, it also showed what looked like a dormant clot in my lung. The doctor then scheduled a sonogram on my legs to be performed directly after the infusion. Following those two procedures, the doctors at my request removed my PICC line freeing me to swim and travel. We then returned the oncologists office and he informed me that another dormant clot had b found behind my left knee and so, in order to be on the safe side, he prescribed a very expensive anticoagulant. I am unsure whether I prefer a long painful death as cancerous cells devour my insides or sudden death from a surprise heart attack or stroke.

On the way back to the Enchanted Forest, we stopped at a senior development in Davis to see if it was someplace we would like to move to as we grow older. It was an elegant fairly high priced center with many benefits. The residents were mostly professors and other professionals. It is a highly desirable senior community with a long waiting list. It gave me the creeps. Not because of anything about the development, but because although my body may be falling apart my mind feels young and vigorous (except for memory problems). It made me feel as though I would be in prison while I waited to die. Some of the residents we talked to do not think that is the case. They still travel and enjoy themselves. I guess soon it will become time to face the fact that taking care of a house, shopping and things like that begin to steal from the time one has left.

 

 

D. AN AFTERNOON IN THE GOLDEN HILLS WITH HRM AND THE SCOOTER GANG:

 
During the morning of the next day, I received a call from HRM requesting I take the Scooter Gang to lunch. In keeping with my obligations as chauffeur and comic relief, I leaped from my recliner, grabbed my cane and hat, kissed the dog, said so-long to Naida, walked to the car and drove off into the Golden Hills.

The gang was at Kaleb’s house. HRM, Kaleb (tall and skinny) Jake (tall, long-haired) and Ethan (not so tall, not so skinny and not so long-haired) piled into the car. (Hamza, another member of the gang, was spending the summer in Morocco at the small town from which his family migrated. When asked how he liked spending summers in Morocco he usually replies “I hate it. It’s a shithole.” ) They asked to be driven to a new, fast-food fried chicken place in Folsom they wanted to try out (they all are breaking out with adolescent acne. Nevertheless, fried foods remain at the top of their teenage food pyramid.)

As I drove, I listened to the teen-age chatter. I worry about these kids. Although they live in an upscale suburb, they believe themselves poor and each one has his own set of problems. Kaleb, in addition to his difficult home life, suffers from some sort of heart trouble. At lunch after eating he vomited up everything he had eaten. The others said he does that often. Perhaps that is why he is so skinny. Jake has a steel bar through his chest to hold it up. Whether it was to remedy a birth defect or to correct a later injury, I do not know. I was told he also has a pinhole opening in his heart. Ethan seems to have no physical problems, but his mother was murdered and his father went to prison for killing the man who killed his mother. He is out of prison now but does not live with Ethan. Ethan lives with his grandmother. As they grow older and school and family provide less and less of a nurturing environment they seem slowly to becoming slackers and are gradually slipping into nihilism. I try to offer them a bit of mature companionship, some sophomoric words of wisdom, and a little encouragement but I am afraid, in the long run, it will not be enough.

 

 

E. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
On Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Clubhouse. Because Naida was busy at the Fair, we have not attended one of these for over a month. I enjoyed being there and actually talked to people rather than sitting off to the side watching.

The rest of the day, N worked on her Memoir while I reviewed the latest from the 49rs training camp, reading Herman Melville’s comic novel Pierre: The Ambiguities and playing on Facebook.

We also watched the news. There have been two assault rife massacres in the US within a week. The first at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California and now today in El Paso Texas. The assassins in both cases were young white men professing an alt-right point of view and a hatred of Latino immigrants The response from the right and the Republican politicians appear to be coalescing around characterizing these men as disturbed and focussing the remedy on identification and removal rather than on the ideology that inspires them or the weapons that enables them. This approach arms the police only with a vague and arbitrary standard that is difficult to understand and implement and easily subverted by politics or ideology. Why empower often poorly educated and trained but heavily armed police to make decisions on issues where even those who study them disagree, rather than simply requiring them to remove the means of mass mayhem and urging the media and the spokesmen for society to condemn the ideology that motivated them?
.
In the evening, we watched “A Dry White Season” with Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando a movie about the Soweto uprising. It gave both of us nightmares. Not simply because of the horrors inflicted on the repressed members of that society, but it also seems to be occurring here.

The next day it was more of the same. We awoke to the news of another mass killing. This time in Dayton Ohio. We spent the rest of the day as we usually do, in the studio working in the case of Naida and playing as generally do. Wondering whether this is another existential threat to our society and what we at 80 years of age can do about it. Vote of course, but that simply does not seem to be enough.

Take care of yourselves and remember always:

th

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

During my life, more than a few times, I have abandoned everything, taking only a suitcase and leaving all else behind — From New York, to King of Prussia Pennsylvania; from there to Rome Italy and then back to Naw York; then to Cape Cod; then across the continent to San Francisco; then to Chiang Mai Thailand, followed by Jomtien Beach and Bangkok; then back to the US to El Dorado Hills and finally to Sacramento. Through all those changes, I was rarely accompanied by more than a single suitcase.

Every time I opened that suitcase, I would find two diaries at the bottom. One from 1963 and the other from 1964. One with a brown cover and one with a red. I do not know why they were there. I never remembered packing them and rarely, if ever opened them. Instead, I would throw them into the bottom of the drawer there to remain unopened until I moved again. A few weeks ago, I opened the one from 1963 (brown cover).

I decided to post the entries here. I do not recall most of what was written there including many of the people and events mentioned and certainly not my thoughts and interpretations of them. Although I am sure the diaries were written by me (I recognize the penmanship), I do not recognize that me. I was a bit of a shit. Probably always have been. I cannot apologize for what I wrote or did. It is what it is. I was callow and shallow, sex-obsessed, and had not yet experienced the magical but alas ultimately fraudulent liberation of the Hippy Years.

I have added some commentary from myself to myself from 60 years later — sort of like a memoir with a critique of my young self by my old self. But who will critique my old self? Worms, I guess.

January 2, 1963

I drove my brother Jim to Pratt University in Brooklyn where he attends art school.

I must not waste time. I do not know why I feel the need to accomplish anything but I believe I should not aspire to accomplish nothing.

(Hmm…)

January 3, 1963

A classmate said to me today, “I do not remember you. Who are you?” It completely shattered my confidence.

Later, Tony said, “You will get a bad reputation if you continue to speak like that.” Dick then said, “Maybe that is what you want.” Perhaps it is.

Perhaps I despise myself enough to want to destroy myself by a bad reputation. After all, although a bad reputation is often pleasantly wicked, a good one, I guess, is worth living for. I try to be good and honest but trying to be while struggling to avoid hypocrisy, I often manage to bungle it and then if not to become ostracized then to be considered odd, and in this case bad.

(What the hell was that all about?)

January 4, 1963.

“To dream is to taste heaven.”

I spoke to professor O’Keefe today. He advised me to stay out of my brother’s lawsuit. O’Keefe loves to talk, like an old woman, but with a more spicy vocabulary.

Today, I felt good, because I topped several of my fellow students. Tomorrow, I’ll probably feel bad again when they top me.

My parents’ party this evening annoys me. I cannot get to sleep. Perhaps my mother is right, they are a most unusual collection of people. (Rae Fred’s mistress seems to have a roving eye. However she is 45 at least — well maybe that is not too bad.)

(Well, aren’t you the prissy little shit.)

January 5, 1963

“Passion is often the wellspring of action.”

We had an excellent study session. I need to memorize more if I am to get a good mark on the exam.

I saw Stephanie at school. She is looking better. Perhaps I will begin dating her again.

I have decided to try for the summer internship program with the Federal government.

My start in politics begins tomorrow. We will see if I can play the political game. I had better be able to.

(Ambitious little punk aren’t you? What the hell are those little sayings at the beginning supposed to mean? Why are they here?)

January 7, 1963

“Fortunes always make manners.”

On Sunday, I attended the Young Democrats of Yonkers meeting. I did well. Most of my proposals were accepted into the new constitution. Jack Tobin and Tony Russo are the men to watch. Jack is a big fellow with a strong even voice — very persuasive, articulate and ambitious. Tony is a straight politician from the old school.

I must use to my advantage the clause in the constitution requiring a Ward Leader to have ten members behind him in order to vote or have it changed.

Things are looking up for the tour business. I need to keep my fingers crossed. It all is too uncertain.

I am worried about the exams. I need to fight hard to get a high position in the class.

Today, I saw a girl with the prettiest ass I have seen in a long time.

(More naked ambition and a bit of chauvinism too.)

January 8, 1963.

It is pride that makes the blood noble.

I finally met Pat at the bus stop. We had a general conversation about this and that, then she mentioned her boyfriend. That put a crimp in my plans. She is not really pretty, but she is attractive. She lacks that dull dead-eyed look of photographers models that are supposed to be beautiful. Her eyes are alive.

I will not go to the general meeting of the Young Democrats tonight. I need to study. I feel good that today’s efforts seem to be paying off.

I hear my parents arguing over something. I need to get back to my studies.

(This is a little better except for that bit about pride at the beginning.)

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 
At its earliest, life begins at implantation, not at conception.

“There is no big bang, no ‘moment’ in conception. There are a half dozen processes that must occur before an egg is fertilized and the processes take about 24 hours. More than half of those will never become a live birth because they are not implanted in the womb. At its earliest life begins at implantation.

“And how are those zygotes, those fertilized eggs that are more sacred than a pregnant woman treated? They are flushed from the body like human waste. Neither religion nor government make any effort to give them rights or rites. No effort is made to save them or give them dignity. There are no pickets, no protests, no parades, no threats of violence, no homicides.”
American Jews Lose Religious Freedom — Robert Flynn
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/27/1874872/-American-Jews-Lose-Religious-Freedom?utm_campaign=recent

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Colavito takes on the Russians and their Space Alien allies.

 
I am growing quite fond of Colavito and his battle against the clithonic purveyors of conspiracy theories who prowl the sewers of our nation. In one of his most recent posts, he takes on the Majestic-12 documents that purport to be US government documents related to a council of scientists and military officials who in 1947 supposedly studied recovered alien spacecraft and communicated with their occupants. He also critiques an author, Nick Redfern, who believes among other things it is all a Russian plot. Colavito writes:

“Redfern’s first article discusses 47 pages of MJ-12 documents publicized by Heather Wade in 2017. These pages include a supposed 1947 interview with a space alien, who criticizes Western civilization, comparing the United States to Nazi Germany. When an American boasts about Western freedom, the alien retorts like any good Russian chauvinist, by likening Jim Crow to the Holocaust: “…tell that to the millions of Hebrews your western civilization has destroyed in the past decade, or the millions of Negro families whose sons died to stop the madman Hitler, but who do not have plumbing in their homes.”

“Aliens are rather specific in their criticisms.”

Colavito goes on:

“Redfern overstates the case for the documents being a 1980s Soviet hoax. Redfern couldn’t date the hoax, speculating that it occurred sometime between the 1980s and 2007, but we can be more specific. The hoax document makes a bizarre reference: “…in a remote part of the nation you call Yugoslavia, we visited and helped the people there to build a very advanced culture over seven thousand years ago.” This is a fairly transparent reference to the so-called Bosnian pyramids, natural formations that Semir Osmanagić has promoted since 2005 as the remains of a lost civilization known as the Illyrians, who lived in the region around 7,000 year ago. In 2017, he expanded his claim out to 34,000 years. Besides this obvious temporal signature, Redfern’s claim that the alien’s reference to Yugoslavia gives glory to communism isn’t a marker or Russian chauvinism since Yugoslavia broke with Moscow at the start of the Cold War and was at odds with much of the communist world down to the collapse of communism in 1989.

“In the second and third articles, Redfern states that two earlier batches of Majestic-12 documents are also the work of Russian propagandists, including the infamous first set from the 1980s that were investigated by the FBI and determined to be fake. The second set from the 1990s seemed to reflect Russian conspiracy theories that America had developed the AIDS virus as a bioweapon.

“Redfern doesn’t provide direct evidence that the documents were created by Russia, though he raises several important instances where the Majestic-12 documents reflect anti-American conspiracy theories. That said, while Russia may be the most likely source, there are plenty of others with anti-American views who might also have been responsible. It’s an interesting circumstantial case, and one worth reading, but I would have liked to see more direct evidence connecting the documents to Russia.”

I have always found most conspiracy theories entertaining. They resemble the fantasy novels I enjoy reading. However, the modern conspiracy theorists have ceased being the tellers of the amusing stories of fantasists but only too often the deranged gunman in the shadows firing bullets of perfidy at the heart of democracy and civilization.

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Power is a drink that always makes you thirsty for more.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Cloony The Clown by Shel Silverstein
I’ll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.

He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.

And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.

And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, “Go back to bed!”

And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.

And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, “I’ll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown.”

And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,

And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With “Hah-Hah-Hahs” and “Hee-Hee-Hees.”

They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.

The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, ‘cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.

And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.

And he said,”THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT-
I’M FUNNY JUST BY ACCIDENT.”
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.

 
D. Today’s Haikus:

 
The Indomitable Oak Haiku

 

Of all the trees here,
the indomitable oak
is my favorite.

 
Sweet is the water

 

Sweet is the water
that satisfies long held thirst
at a journey’s end

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Misogyny is easy to locate and to cite in the texts from antiquity, but biological race was not a recognized category in the ancient world.[1] As historian of slavery Omar H. Ali has stated, race is not a product of genetics or biology, but is rather a “function of power.” Ali remarks that the empowered also create definitions for society: “(those in power disproportionately determine standards of beauty, morality, comportment, and intellect), race, like all other identities, has been a constructed and shifting term in world history.” Analyzing how white men have created and imposed definitions that benefit themselves is pivotal to understanding both racism and misogyny in our current political climate.”
Book Note | Not All Dead White Men by Sarah Bond in Book Notes (https://www.ancientjewreview.com/articles/2018/10/9/book-note-not-all-dead-white-men#_ftn2)

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Joe 0008. (July 24, 2019)

“Stop, these are my people too.”
Statement by a white male directed to a group of other white males tormenting some Americans of South Asian descent with shouts of “Go back the country you came from.”
UBUNTU

 

 

Happy Birthday to my beloved sister Maryann and to her son Brendan.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

On Wednesday morning, I helped Naida take her books to the booth at the State Fair. Many other authors were there also checking in. I got to meet several of them. They were a friendly lot. They all asked me whether I had written a book. When I told them I had not, they insisted I get on with it and write one — then they tried to sell me their books. One woman had been an opera singer who had lived in Florence for a while. She writes books about tales she picked up while living there. We discussed, in Italian, things Italian.

IMG_6468

 

I left the fair and drove off to Peter and Barrie’s home in the City by the Bay.

 

 

B. A BRIEF SOJOURN IN THE CITY BY THE BAY:

 

 

Soon after my arrival at Peter and Barrie’s house and following a brief discussion with them on the state of the world and of our health, I took a nap. That evening, we went out to dinner at Bacco’s, a local upscale Italian restaurant, and enjoyed a delightful meal. I had gnocchi as I usually do when I go there. I think they prepare the best gnocchi of any restaurant I have tried in Northern California. After the meal, we spoke a while with the hostess an Asian-American woman who is co-owner of the place along with her husband, a native Italian immigrant. We shared memories of Italy and discussed good food and the high prices of everything in the Big Endive. I began eating at that restaurant when I lived in that neighborhood over forty-years-ago before the current owners bought it from the original proprietor. The quality of the food remained high over all those years, but the prices have climbed even higher.

The next morning, I said goodbye to Peter, Barrie, and Ramsey and set off to the UCSF complex on Divisadero. I had my immunotherapy infusion there. That was followed by a CT scan which, after it is analyzed, will tell me whether the immunotherapy is keeping cancer in check. If not, then it may become time to begin chanting Kaddish. I then returned to Sacramento. Usually, Naida drives most of the way, but since she was selling books at the fair, I drove myself. It was difficult to keep from nodding off and by the time I got back, I was so exhausted I went right to bed.

 

 
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The drive back and the side effects of the treatment wasted me for the next day also. After seeing Naida off to the Fair, I ate breakfast and then went back to sleep and slept dreamlessly until mid-afternoon. I then ate lunch, walked the dog, typed this, and returned to bed.

I do not recall how many days have passed since I last wrote here, one or two or maybe more. Today, Naida again is off to the State Fair and the authors’ booth selling her books. I spent most of the day in front of the television following the coverage of He Who Is Not My President’s racist attack on the “Squad,” the four first-term Congresspersons and women of color. One commentator on CNN had what to me was the most interesting observation when he pointed out the media must separate the President’s comments which were undeniably racist from the media’s tendency to concentrate on the political implications of the inevitable give and take in the responses to it.

“Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (p. 658). DAW.

More days pass. In this the time of my decrepitude, as my memory slowly shreds, I find the quiet contemplation of nothing enjoyable. In the past, I could never get into meditation or even the idea of quiet contemplation. It would irritate me. If I had nothing to do, I would prefer taking a nap, reading, throwing stones into the water, starting an argument or shouting at someone — things like that. I could not understand going so far into myself that the maelstrom of my senses, the screaming of my id or the constant preaching by that little voice within that is always with us would go silent and somehow that would make me better, happier. If there were not something out there in the world around me upsetting me or demanding my attention, I don’t think I could feel completely alive — Now, however, not so much. Now, when I sit on a bench along some path in the Enchanted Forest, the dog laying and panting at my feet, I smile, confident that whatever harangue or flight of fancy the voice within me obsess on, it soon will be forgotten. That thought cheers me up now. Perhaps your inner voice enjoys happy talk. Good for you. Mine, alas, is a complainer. Always telling me how I screwed up or how I would fail at what I planned on doing. I guess for me, I should consider it one of the few upsides to my decrepitude.

Today I felt quite chipper so Naida and I set off for the State Fair. It was not her day to man (woman) the Authors’ booth so I felt a bit bad asking her to join me. I had never been to the fairgrounds when it was open, so I was eager to see what it was like. We parked in the employee-exhibitor parking lot, crossed over the levee that separated the parking lot from the fair and entered the fairgrounds.

During the past decade the State Fair, like most of the county fairs in California, has suffered a long decline in attendance, revenue, and public interest caused in part by the decline in family farms over the past forty years, and the more recent changes in the public’s entertainment preferences.

The size of the fairgrounds surprised me — it is huge. There is a number of very large two and three-story buildings scattered helter-skelter around the site. Some are barns where the animals are kept and judged, others contain stores, various booths like the authors’ booth and indoor exhibits such as the school children’s art and the handicraft competitions. There are two separate carnival sites with rides and the like. There are several large entertainment venues, a race track, a raging waters swimming complex and much more. All of it cannot be visited in one day — seen perhaps but not enjoyed. We had a good time visiting the cattle shed, viewing the pygmy goats, browsing through the stores, spending some time at the authors’ booth, eating a lot of odd food, examining some of the arts and crafts exhibitions and watching a juggling show at one of the other outdoor theaters. Alas, our age caught up with us and by the late afternoon, exhausted, we stumbled back to the parking lot, drove home and collapsed onto our reclining chairs.

IMG_6498IMG_6480IMG_6502.jpgIMG_6474_2IMG_6510

 

I am becoming used to old age. And by old age, I do not mean that time when you first realize you are getting old and tired, and feeling creepy and irritable. Rather, I think of old age as when you can no longer see your use-by date in your rearview mirror; your diminished memory ceases to be an amusing irritant and you find hours and whole days lost from recall; and you become acutely aware that you suffer from some dread disease that may or may not soon kill you. Although most of the experience is not something you would tell to your grandchildren as bed-time stories, old-age has a surprising upside. No, the upside is not that it all may soon be over. Nor is it that strangers sometimes go out of their way to be helpful to you in your decrepitude. (I used to hate that. When some younger person would, for example, hold the door for me, I used to want to brain him with my cane. Now, I smile. Not because I admire the gallantry, but because I feel I am getting away with something.) No, I find something else pleasing about getting very old.

When we were younger the good is usually good while it lasts while the bad only too often piles up on our backs growing heavier and heavier until we either die or experience some form of psychological surgery. Youthful love is thrilling, but when it is over it often becomes merely a gossamer of a memory. A broken heart, on the other hand, often lasts forever. The tattered memories of old age, at least in my case, allow me to forget the bad, the good too, but I always have. So, I find myself, as a whole, happier.

Old Age also allows me to be garrulous. I should be embarrassed but I am not. I amuse myself knowing the person reading or listening to my endless patter does so for the same reason as the younger person who holds the door for me. On the other hand, if they don’t, I am miffed — another benefit of old age — the ability to get away with childish behavior while knowing we are no longer children.

Having read the above three paragraphs, I realize I have too much time on my hands. Rather than erasing it and saving myself from embarrassment, I think I will walk the dog and sit on the bench for a while.

I did and I feel better now, so I turned on the Rachel Maddow Show.

A few days later, Naida and I set off for the Fair to deliver some copies of her books. It was a hot day. We parked in the exhibitor parking lot, loaded a box of books on a hand-truck and set off for the Authors’ Booth about a mile away. We passed the animal barns and judging pens. I could not see which animal species were being judged that day, but I certainly could smell them and see their droppings everywhere we walked. After we dropped off the books and headed back to the car I felt faint. I had not eaten lunch. It was now four in the afternoon. Happily others appeared from somewhere to assist me whenever I seemed to stagger a bit and Naida demonstrated, once again, that women are more capable and robust than men by guiding me back to the car, providing liquid refreshment, and after we got home serving me a nice dinner while I sat like an ancient salami in my favorite chair.

I watched Fritz Lang’s “How The City Sleeps” with Dana Andrews, George Sanders, Thomas Mitchell and Howard Duff pirouetting drunkenly through the noir movie. (yes they all were, much to Lang’s distress, often dead drunk when they arrived on the set.) It was set in NY or Chicago I couldn’t tell which.

Then we went to bed. While lying there, I described to Naida an article I had read recently about Vikings.

Apparently, sometime between the ninth and eleventh centuries, an Arab traveler had, during his journey, visited a Viking tribe living in what is now northwest Russia. He wrote about his voyages especially the time he spent with the Vikings. He considered them savages. He observed that the Viking warriors were generally drunk from morning to night. He described seeing a drunken warrior die in front of him while drinking a cup of dark ale or whatever. He wrote at length about the horrid funeral rituals performed at the death of their chieftains. It was no Hollywood production featuring a craggy-faced Kirk Douglas lying on his boat with his sword clutched to his chest and fire tipped arrows arching gracefully through the blue-black evening sky while loud brassy classical music blares in the background. No, not at all. It was ten days of slaughter, rape, drunkenness, and savagery. The chieftain was buried temporarily for ten days while his burial clothing was made. The tribe divided his property — one-third to his family, one-third to the other chieftains to pay for his funeral and one-third to be cremated with him. One or more of female slaves were chosen to be raped multiple times every day by the surviving chieftains. On the tenth day, his body was exhumed, dressed and laid on his boat along with his wealth and his weapons. Dogs and horses were slaughtered, carved up and thrown onto the boat containing the chieftains cadaver. Then the slave girl was raped again multiple times by the chieftains, dragged by her hair to the boat, her throat cut, and her body thrown onto the vessel to lie there with the bodies of the chieftain, the dogs, horses, other slaughtered slaves and the chieftains wealth while it is all set ablaze. True or not, quite an image.

After I finished, Naida recited a portion of a poem by Longfellow:

“While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft
The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn
Blew the foam lightly.

“There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”
Thus the tale ended.”

A little later, she reminded me that we had not taken our evenings dose of pills. We then each took the multitude of pills and medicines that are the sad lot of the aged and downed them with water. After I finished drinking my glass of water, for no apparent reason but terminal silliness, I decided to sing:

Keep a-movin’ Dan, don’t you listen to him Dan, he’s a devil, not a man
and he spreads the burnin’ sand with water.
Dan can’t you see that big green tree where the waters runnin’ free
and it’s waiting there for me and you.
Water, cool clear water.

We sang the rest of the song together — at least those lyrics we could remember. Then we went back to bed and slept well until morning.

The following morning, Naida returned to the Fair and I spent the day wondering what I was going to do with myself. I did receive good news. The results of my most recent CT scan arrived showing no growth so far in the cancerous tumor.

Last Friday HRM messaged me that he had hurt his foot while performing some tricks on his scooter. I was not concerned, considering whatever injuries he suffered were those simple bruises that life gifts you with to warn you that you are becoming too old for some activity. Two days later upon hearing that he was still in pain, I set off to the Golden Hills to visit him and see what’s up. I found him sitting in his new bedroom fashioned out of the old family room in the basement of Dick’s house. Jake was there also and no one else. They were playing video games. He said he felt much better and could walk around now without pain.

His new room had begun to take on the aura of a teenage boy-cave. A large Bob Marley banner covered one wall. The desk against another wall by the sliding glass doors had the names of the members of what I call the Scooter Gang carved helter-skelter in the top. There were Haden and Jake of course and Kaleb, Hamza, Tyson, Ethen and a few others. Inscribed among all the other names, I was surprised to see mine there or rather my nickname, Pookie, that they all know me by. I am pleased that at 80 after a hiatus of more than 60 years, I have once again become a member of a teenage gang — well, I doubt they consider me a member, more like a mascot, I suppose.

H’s mom arrived and immediately ordered them out to get some exercise. As we left they asked me to drive them to Jake’s house where they could resume their video games and whatever else teenagers these days use to spend their time.

As with any sunset, the sunset of our lives needs a good place to sit in order to enjoy the view.

Remember to always take care of yourselves and keep on truckin.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
We should never forget, some of the guiding principles underlying fascism, Trumpism, and the religious and conservative right are:

1. “There are no facts, only ideology.”
(And, when one scrapes away the pseudo-intellectual veneer, what that ideology comes down to is “power,” how to get it, wield it, and keep it.)

2. “There is no morality only religion.”

3. “There is no compassion only transaction.”

4. “There is no love only desire.”

5. “There is no peace only order.”

6. “There is no mercy only philanthropy

7 “There is no freedom only obedience.”

8. “There is no humanity only data, assets, consumers, and laborers.”

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

This is the fourth and I hope the last post describing a critical event in the passage of the California Coastal Act over 40 years ago. The previous post ended with the Governor saying, “Well Senator what’s your problem now?”

The Senator did not answer immediately. Instead, he sat there for a moment and looked around the room as though he was searching for help. Then in response, I assume, to a signal from the undertakers, he turned back to the Governor and said, “Governor, I need some time to discuss this.”

“Take your time Senator. We’ll be right here waiting for your answer,” the Governor replied.

With that, the Senator got up out of his chair and along with the undertakers left the room. The rest of us remaining in the room broke up into small groups and the buzzing of our conversations replaced the quiet. The Governor whispered something to the Chief of staff then remained silently sitting at the table, unmoving. This struck me as a little unusual since I have always known him to be a bit of a fidgeter. I resumed conversing with our little group. We avoided talking about what had just happened neither did we speculate on what may be being discussed by the Senator and his cronies a few feet away. Instead, we passed the time in nervous small talk, about families, the weather and the like — every now and then glancing at the doors by which the conferees had left.

I no longer recall how long we stood there waiting. It could have been as much as twenty minutes to a half-hour or perhaps even more. The doors finally opened, the conferees piled back into the room, the whispering ceased and the Senator announced, “Governor, we can support the bill only with the following five non-negotiable amendments.” The Senator handed a piece of paper to the Governor.

The Governor took the paper handed to him, glanced at it briefly, turned, gave it to me, and said, “Here, can you guys live with this.”

Along with the Executive Director and the Lobbyist for the supporters of the legislation, I examined the handwritten note. As far as I could see, it appeared as though neither the Senator nor the undertakers had read the legislation through because four of the five non-negotiable demands seemed either irrelevant or covered in other parts of the bill. The fifth, however, appeared more significant. While it did not call for any material changes in regulation policies, jurisdiction or authority, it did require a significant alteration in administration, one that would need logistical changes in the operations of the agency, and, of course, more staff. Nevertheless, it was livable and in my opinion, far more detrimental to the interest groups proposing it, then to the agency forced to administer it. After reading it through at least twice, the Executive Director and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, turned back to the Governor and said more or less in unison, “We can live with this.”

At this date, I do not recall if there was a muted cheer or just a collective exhale of breath. The Governor, however, was not finished. He turned to the chief spokesman of the undertakers and said, “You heard it. Now that we have reached agreement release the rest of your votes,” and handed him the telephone.

The chief spokesman dialed the floor of the Senate which was still in session and asked to speak to a specific Senator. The Senator eventually came online. The Chief Spokesman said, “We have an agreement here. You are free to vote for the bill. You can tell the others.” The Senator responded, “Thank God” and hung up the phone. At that point, there seemed to be a release of the collective breath in the room. Handshakes and smiles broke out among almost everyone except the undertakers. The Governor did not partake in the spontaneous celebration, but following a brief word or two with the Senator and the Spokesman turned and, with the Chief of Staff in tow, strolled up the ramp and out of the room.

The Non-negotiable amendments were placed into what was referred to as a “trailer bill” and it also passed.

There you have it. After more than a decade, the efforts of thousands of people and the expenditure of millions of dollars, it all came down to a few people in a room, some lies, a bit of theater, lots of exaggeration, and a bagful of coincidence and luck. That’s often how laws are made — — like sausages, but not as sanitary.

 

 

 

TODAY’S FACTOID:

 

 
“UBUNTU” in the XHOSA culture means: “I am because we are.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 

“Usually, conspiracy theories are for losers,”
University of Miami professor Joseph Uscinski.

 

During my periodic searches through the internet for arcane and interesting (to me at least) blogs, I came across one by someone named Jason Colavito entitled interestingly ‘Jason Colavito.’ (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/). Colavito is an author and editor based in Albany NY. He specializes in the critique of authors and commentators who are crazy. At least to me, they are either crazy or dishonest. They are those people who write books or articles claiming things like, alien visitors created early human civilization, chemtrails are a deep state assault on us all, or the Illuminati conspiracy folderol is real. They use half-truths and at times outright lies in order to persuade the gullible to buy their books, alternative medicines, gold coins, computer currency, and other claptrap they may be selling.

They spring from the same fetid swamp as conspiracy theorists, patent medicine salesmen, far-right politicians, and Fox News commentators.

In a recent post entitled, “David Wilcock Claims YouTube Is Part of an Anti-Trump, Population-Reduction Plot,” he smashes into Wilcock, someone I have never heard of, like The Hulk into a building. Here is the opening paragraph of the post:

“David Wilcock hasn’t been having a very good couple of years. Only a few years ago, he was the third most prominent ancient astronaut theorist* on Ancient Aliens, behind Giorgio Tsoukalos and David Childress, and he was one of the biggest stars of the Gaia TV streaming service, which featured hundreds of hours of programming from him. He also had a lucrative line of books and DVDs and a speaking tour. But then Wilcock made the critical error of turning subtext into text. With the exception of Tsoukalos, nearly all of the Ancient Aliens crew and their colleagues are right-wingers, but they manage to keep their conservative ranting mostly confined to short asides in YouTube videos and tweets. Wilcock, on the other hand, has been outspoken in his embrace of the most extreme pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including both Pizzagate and Q-Anon, and he has proudly declared himself a recipient of Russian propaganda, which he repeats uncritically. Between this and his contentious departure from Gaia, even the brain trust behind Ancient Aliens finally cut ties with Wilcock, who has not appeared on the show since Wilcock refused to participate in their episode interviewing John Podesta, whom Wilcock considers part of an anti-Trump, child-raping alien death cult.”

 

One of the things I like about Colavito is his writing style. It is almost as bad as mine. I notice his last name, like mine, indicates an Italian heritage. As a result, like Italian prose is often written, he strings his sentences together into paragraphs of operatic magniloquence (I apologize, I could not resist). Most English speakers prefer a more leisurely and sparer style. One stretching out the story over several paragraphs — perhaps even over whole books. But I digress. Colavito continues:

As Wilcock’s platforms have collapsed around him, his claims have become more extreme as he “programs to the base” and attempts to develop a smaller but more intensely loyal audience for his self-produced products. In his latest blog post, whose six parts form a 51,000-word eBook, Wilcock has fully embraced the Q-Anon conspiracy theory, and he has extended it to the recent efforts by YouTube to clean up the video-sharing service by altering its algorithm to display fewer conspiracy theory videos. Wilcock has declared this action to be the work of the “Deep State.” “And, as we so often like and need to do,” he wrote, “this initial phase of the story will expand into a vastly more interesting mega-conspiracy as you read on.” Oh, don’t they all.

 

I like Colavito. He goes after those that hide in darkness — those conspiracy theorists, who prey on the gullible and whose success encouraged the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other purveyors of malice and hate.

More:

Over the past year or so, YouTube has come under fire from a wide range of advocacy groups and law enforcement agencies for its algorithms, which by design direct viewers to progressively more extreme content in the hope of keeping viewers watching for as long as possible. This resulted in many viewers being directed to white nationalist content, extreme conspiracy theories, and content that sexualized young children. YouTube officials took steps to reduce the prominence of this content earlier this year after a wave of negative stories in the media. They did not eliminate the content, but they made it harder to stumble across unknowingly, and they also removed advertising revenue from some videos that did not meet their decency standards.

In his massive blog post last week, Wilcock likens this action to the music industry, which he accuses of deliberately killing off rock-n-roll for nefarious reasons, leaving only … Papa Roach? “Since the 1990s, there has been little to no financing, development, promotion or exposure of new rock bands of any real prominence, other than a handful of examples like Papa Roach,” he wrote, nonsensically. I hesitate even to begin to think about what is going on inside Wilcock’s head, particularly since we know that he remains fixated on what he called his traumas and mental illness during his adolescence in the 1990s, as he chronicled in The Ascension Mysteries. This might seem like a laughably silly digression on Wilcock’s part, but one of his overarching if wrongheaded themes is that pro- and anti-alien conspiracy theorists use popular culture products to deliver secret messages to the public. He typically associates this with science fiction movies and TV shows (he believes the series finale of Game of Thrones was a psy-op conspiracy, for example), but here he extends the idea to music acts beloved by himself and his father, a onetime music critic. Music he doesn’t like becomes part of an evil conspiracy. In this case, he follows some conspiracy theories suggesting that elites purposely designed hip-hop to promote criminal behavior in order to oppress African Americans.

 

Colavito ends his post with:

 

The last third of his blog post / eBook endorses every bizarre aspect of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory and then attempts to link it to Tom DeLonge and To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which he sees as fighting a battle against the Deep State to reveal the truth about … well, not quite UFOs. Wilcock picks up on DeLonge’s embrace of the ancient astronaut theory to argue that the real truth is that space aliens are also fallen angels and that they had an outpost in Atlantis from which they meddled in human affairs, sort of like super-Russians plotting a thousand Trumps.

It’s all too much, really. The volume of his conspiracy theories is mind-numbing, but the ease with which he abandons his supposed beliefs as soon as they become inconvenient is all too typical. He believes that he has a right to have major corporations promote his belief that they are all run by child-raping demon aliens, and he is mad that the corporations have decided not to put up with him anymore.

On a sadder note, Wilcock said that he has “very few acquaintances” apart from his family, his manager, and his “creative team.” That he describes none of them as friends is perhaps sadder than realizing that there is a “creative team” behind his seemingly dada verbal diarrhea.

 

I bet you never knew something like this existed in the dark underbelly of our nation. An entire industry of deranged lunatics crawling through the sewers of America desperately hoping to infect the rest of us with their peculiar derangement.

I regret that only a few lonely difficult to read and understand commentators like Colavito confront these people in their dank dens. Respectable pundits seem to shy away from challenging them. Perhaps they dismiss them as irrelevant. Perhaps they are embarrassed to engage with those they consider absurd and dishonest. Nevertheless, we should never overlook the fact that almost every pernicious, fascist and violence provoking political movement begins with those in the shadows whispering make-believe conspiracies and specious histories to the gullible and poorly informed.

* Is third most prominent ancient astronaut theorist something one would, or should, aspire to? For that matter, is first?

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Conspiracy theories are the improper application of correlation to causation developed usually by those with pecuniary or malicious intent and designed for consumption by the ignorant, naive, and foolish.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 
This poem is very close to my heart. It is written in a poetic form called Villanelle, a rather complex rarely used poetic format. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

A villanelle, also known as villanesque, is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately at the end of each subsequent stanza until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form. The word derives from Latin, then Italian, and is related to the initial subject of the form being the pastoral.

Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” also is written in that form.

My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night
BY ANTHONY LAWRENCE

My darling turns to poetry at night.
What began as flirtation, an aside
Between abstract expression and first light

Now finds form as a silent, startled flight
Of commas on her face — a breath, a word …
My darling turns to poetry at night.

When rain inspires the night birds to create
Rhyme and formal verse, stanzas can be made
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.
My darling turns to poetry at night.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her dreams have night vision, and in her sight
Our bodies leave ghostprints on the bed.
My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

 

 

D. Mopey’s Musings:

 
Terry suggested I read an article that examined storytelling and death. I post portions of it here in order to include it in my morning contemplations about what it is I should be doing now.

“I began to wonder whether the secret to a good death wasn’t looking forward, but peering backward — whether retrospective examination might be more therapeutic than prospective preparation. I thought of how often I’d focused solely on helping patients navigate the future: how many weeks or months of life they might expect, which procedures they should or shouldn’t consider. These discussions, while important, fail to address what research has revealed about the deeper wants and needs of seriously ill patients.”

“Nearly 20 years ago, a seminal study in the Journal of the American Medical Association explored what patients and doctors feel is most important at the end of life. Many responses were predictable and consistent across groups. Both doctors and patients, for example, thought it was important to maintain dignity, control pain and other symptoms, and have one’s financial affairs in order.”

“But where physicians and patients diverged is telling — and suggests both a missed opportunity and a path to progress.”

“Patients were far more likely to express that it was important to feel that their life was complete, to be at peace with God and to help others in some way.”

“In other words, to feel that their lives mattered.”

“A growing body of work suggests that a powerful but underused method of creating this sense of mattering is storytelling — reflecting on the past and creating a narrative of one’s life, what it has meant, who you’ve become and why…”

“In a 2018 study, researchers assigned veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to engage in either five 30-minute writing sessions in which they reflected on traumatic experiences, or a rigorous 12-week program of cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a first-line treatment for PTSD. The study found that the short writing sessions were just as effective at reducing PTSD symptoms as the resource-intensive CPT program.”

“Other work suggests that the particulars of storytelling matter. Simply looking back and listing life events doesn’t seem to help. It is the constructing of a narrative — exploring linkages, formulating a plotline — that’s critical for arriving at a coherent sense of self…”

So that has been what I have been up to for the past 10 years — writing T&T and preparing to die. I guess that beats obsessing about it — although I do that too.

 
E. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:

 

I have two apologies, regrets and humiliations from my previous post:

1. In that post, I wrote that Naida’s book was titled “Girl of the West.” I was totally embarrassed when she pointed out to me that the name of the book that I had been working on with her these past few months is actually called, “Daughter of the West.” I regret the error and apologize to her and to everyone else I may have misled.

2. Also, Madelyn Glickfeld pointed out that in the story about the passage of the Coastal Act, I wrote that Mr. West’s request that “In the future, you don’t have to call, a letter or email will do,” could not be correct because email was not in use back then. She is correct. I recall West mentioning a letter and something else. Email was obviously not it. I will correct it in the final version. I apologize, regret the mistake and am, once again, humiliated.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Next time he asks, have Lisa tell him that I’m no longer human. And that is why I cannot sleep with anyone any longer. Have you ever seen statistical theory making out with Newton’s first law of motion?”
Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. Vita Nostra. Harper Voyager.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

united-states-gdp-per-capita-ppp-1

 

GDP PER CAPITA IN US SINCE 1990.

This chart demonstrates that at least from the 1980s, and probably all the way back to the 1940s or 50s, Democratic presidents replacing a Republican administration have received declining economies upon their taking office. As a result, they spend the first years or so of their presidency turning the economy around. Having successfully revived the economy, the Democratic administration then passes the now healthy economy on to their Republican successors, who promptly cut taxes for the rich, take credit for the health of the economy and then when the economy collapses again pass it on to their Democratic successors who then must concentrate on rehabilitating the economy rather than on the social programs on which they ran for election. This is no way to run a country.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Capt. Coast 0008 (April 20, 2019)

 

“[R]estraint is a sign of weakness.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Joy! Auntie Poldi has returned — finally (See Book Report below). I cannot resist posting here the magnificently exuberant and perhaps shameless bit of overwriting with which the author begins his novel:

“Although in the past few months Poldi had temporarily thwarted death thanks to solving her handyman Valentino’s murder, her romantic encounter with Vito Montana (Polizia di Stato’s chief inspector in charge of homicide cases), her friendship with her neighbours Valérie and sad Signora Cocuzza, my aunts’ efforts and, last but not least, her own love of the chase, we all know the way of the world: peace reigns for a while, the worst seems to be over, the sun breaks through the clouds, the future beckons once more, your cigarette suddenly tastes good again, the air hums with life and the whole world becomes a congenial place pervaded by whispers of great things to come. A simply wonderful, wonderful, universally familiar sensation. And then, like a bolt from the blue, pow! Not that anyone has seen it coming, but the wind changes. Fate empties a bucket of excrement over your head, chuckling as it does so, and all you can think is “Wow, now I really need a drink!” And the whole shitty process starts again from scratch. So it was no wonder my aunts became alarmed when Poldi still had no running water after two weeks and Lady was murdered. No doubt about it, the wind had changed and the ice was growing steadily thinner.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

It is Saturday morning and time for the weekly Saturday Morning Coffee Hour at the Nepenthe Club House. The Club House is nestled in a corner of the Enchanted Forest a short distance from our home. Under a bleak sky, Naida and I walked there along the meandering pathways that run beneath the flowering trees and bushes — I, leaning heavily on my fake shillelagh cane, and Naida gaily reciting some long poem by Longfellow or now and then breaking out into a few stanzas of song.

By the time we arrived, I had become so dizzy from the exertion of the walk, I plopped down on the sofa in the hope that the merry-go-round in my head would soon subside. Naida busied herself assembling coffee and various pastries.

Sitting around on a circle of chairs were the usual attendees at these weekly get-togethers: the Leader of course, the spy, Billie the cute woman, the artist, Big Bill, the short-haired lady, Good Old Dave who looks like someone named Dave should look, Silent Gordon, Jan who selflessly scuttles around making sure the place is set up and we all have our coffee and name tags, and a few others. The woman who suffers from what appears to be CP arrived a bit later and settled herself by the large fireplace.

When we all were in place with our coffee and pastry, our leader, Ginnie, rang the little bell she carries around with her and began making her announcements — where this months TGIF would be held, the date of the Take Me Out to the Ballgame Party, and various other housekeeping items. She then announced it was Jan and Good Old Dave’s birthdays. Jan brought out a cake and we all sang Happy Birthday. Then with the announcements over everyone got down to talking to one another other except for Young Silent Gordon who stared morosely at the floor and me.

I decided to slowly examine the other attendees in an effort to understand better why I am beginning to become so fond of these Saturday morning gatherings. I did not reach any conclusion on that but I did notice that Billie the Cute Woman seemed to be the most fashionably dressed, from her patent leather flats, to her tight black leather pants, to her poncho-like black and white buttonless jacket, black sweater, and large golden outline of a heart hanging from a chain around her neck. Her fingernails were colored a light gold to match her jewelry. The rest of us were dressed in sports or casual outfits except for Naida who sported a smashing tight multi-colored blouse.

Good Old Dave told us his father owned the historic hotel in Murphy’s. Naida told him about a book she had read, The Black Sun of the Miwok, a collection of six stories about the deaths of the last six Miwok in the area, one of which tales was set in the hotel. Unfortunately, the book is no longer in print after several Native-American groups objected to it because it focuses on how the miners and settlers ridiculed the death and suffering of those individuals.

Sunday — the wet weather departed for a day or two restored the sun to the sky, cleared the air and drove the annual Great Valley spring pollen assault into hiding. The flowering bushes and trees in the backyard are in full bloom.
IMG_6079 - Version 2
Backyard in Full Bloom.

 

Monday morning — it is hydration day. I sit in my comfortable reclining chair typing this while saline solution slowly drips into my arm. The sun is out. Naida hard at work on her computer prepares the version of her memoir that will be sent to the printers. The dog, freshly bathed, naps on the chair next to me. What’s not to like?

On Tuesday, my urologist informed me my plumbing showed no immediate threats to my current existence. I ate a hot dog and drank a root-beer float for lunch. After lunch, I washed the car. I apologize, but as one approaches 80 years of age, days like this are what passes for excitement. I look forward to tomorrow. I get my hearing tested.

I got my hearing tested and ordered new hearing aids this morning. This made me happy. At my age, it does not take much to make me happy. I also saw it all as a bit of adventure. For we Vecchi, little things often seem more significant than they are — sort of like a form of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AiWS). In addition to finding little things a big deal, I now often see minor events as great adventures. On the other hand, perhaps, I always did.

After my adventure with the certified audiologist, I drove into the Golden Hills, now a lovely green due to all the spring rains. The sun was out and the clouds were bunched up high on the Sierras like Miracle Whip on an ice cream Sunday. I picked up HRM and the Scooter Gang, Jake, Caleb, and Hamza at the Skatepark. After a brief stop at Dick’s house for some mysterious reason, I then dropped them off at Caleb’s — but not before urging them not to get into too much trouble although listening to them talk it seems they are well into the adolescent we versus them syndrome. Yes, I worry. Teenage alienation is not just a fact of life but also a concern for the adults involved.

This morning while I was lying in bed trying to decide if it was worth getting up, my eyes fell on a small red diary that lay among the books littering the floor at the side of my bed. I had kept this diary way back in 1960. Strangely, given the number of times in my life when I rid myself of everything I had accumulated, it is one of the two things I have retained from more than a few years ago. How it survived for almost 60 years I do not know.

The diary details an almost one-year relationship I had with a woman. Strangely, the woman’s name does not appear in the diary. I was clearly in love with her, at least as much as a callow 19-year-old can be, and perhaps she was in love with me also. Alas, like most of us at that age, I believed I knew all that I needed to know about life and love.

We met in January and our relationship ended the following December. According to the diary, much of my preoccupation that year was the conflict, in my mind at least, between my affection for her and my anguish over the fact that she had a three-year-old child and was Jewish. While in retrospect, I could berate myself for my shallowness, but this happened almost 60 years ago and I had lived my life until then within a relatively closed Catholic Italian-immigrant society and had little experience with much outside that culture. But that is not what I pondered this morning. You see, I had no recollection of that year, not her, not my name, not my anguish — not anything.

If someone does not remember something does that mean it does not exist? Does it then return to existence if one suddenly recalls it? Does everything we experience somehow exist in our subconscious or some configuration of our neurons? I spent perhaps an hour this morning contemplating those questions until the dog started barking at the garbage truck as it passed by on its rounds and I began to feel a desperate need for my morning coffee.

On Friday, I, once again drove into the Golden (Green?) Hills to pick up HRM and Jake. H told me his mom did not want him traveling with me during his spring break, We had planned a trip to Portland to visit Naida’s son who works assisting a noted sculptor, Bruce West, another Naida relative. There he was to be introduced to high-quality welding, something he was eager to learn. After that, we had planned to travel to Sun Valley Idaho so that he could get in a day or two snowboarding. Then a few days at a large cattle range in Montana with other relatives. Alas, H is now a latch key kid, forced to spend his vacation bunking with Jake at his family’s house.

Sunday came around. I do not recall what happened Saturday. Not very much I assume. Perhaps I slept most of the day. Anyway, On Sunday morning we received a call from Sarah, Naida’s daughter. She was suffering from an overabundance of Cala Lilies growing in her backyard and urged us to come over right away and take some. So, after a stop to buy a vase large enough to accommodate the flowers, we arrived at Sarah’s home and proceeded to the backyard where in addition to the Cala lilies, irises, roses and a host of other flowers were in bloom. Sarah’s husband Mark busily pushed a hand-held mechanical plow through the ground in order to begin the planting for this summer’s vegetable garden. Then we all retired to the deck and had an enjoyable lunch.
IMG_6089
The Backyard
IMG_6092
Drinks on the Deck with Sarah and Naida

 

IMG_6094
The Cala Lillies at Home

 

B. ONCE AGAIN OFF TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

Under a sunny sky, we left for SF. That evening at Peter and Barrie’s house, Judy, who lives across the street and is my most consistently responsive Facebook friend brought over two framed photographs of Peter and I sitting on the “geezer bench” in front of Bernie’s coffee shop that she made from a Facebook post of mine. Barrie again prepared a tasty meal this time featuring spaghetti with clams.

The next morning we left for my appointment at the hospital for my immunotherapy treatment. The doctor gave me the most ambiguously optimistic opinion I have received since my original oncologist opined that the swelling in my neck was nothing to be concerned about. He told us that the CT scan I had taken that morning showed some shrinkage in the tumor and he could not tell if it was now scar tissue caused by the previous radiation treatment or not but may be inactive. He also explained that chemotherapy does not cure cancer and the immunotherapy program I am starting on helps the body’s immune system to fight reactivation of cancer.

After the treatment we returned to Peter and Barrie’s home where Barrie prepared a delicious anchovy, garlic and parsley spread from a recipe of Leo’s mother.

Who is Leo?

The next morning I woke up and realized the aches, pains and general malaise caused by the side effects of chemotherapy are gone replaced by the sniffles, runny nose, itches and the normal aches and pains of life and age.

After breakfast, we left and returned to the Enchanted Forest.
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

 

We arrived back in the Enchanted Forest at about 1PM. After a brief rest, I took Boo-boo for a walk. During the three days we have been away, spring has given way to summer. The fruit trees have shed their flowers and the camellias are gone. The branches of the deciduous trees sport their new shiny green leaves. We stopped at the small community center with the tiny pool and sat in the sun. It was perhaps the first day it has been open for swimming. There were two families there, an elderly couple in swimsuits taking in the sun and a mother and her three young children playing and shouting in the pool, The dog and I sat there under a cloudless blue sky and enjoyed the doings in the pool. I felt good but a little sad that swimming was out for me for a long time.
D. BOOK REPORT: Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) by Mario Giordano.

 

I have just finished reading the second installment in the series of my current book crush, The Adventures of Auntie Poldi. Although purporting to be detective stories, I, frankly, do not recall who was killed or why in either of the two novels of the series I have read so far. Nor can I claim they are great or even good literature. So, what attracts me to these books?

Perhaps it is Auntie Poldi herself, a lusty sixty-year-old German woman who had married a Sicilian immigrant to Bavaria and who after his death retired to her husband’s ancestral town on the slopes of Mt Etna there to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.” Poldi wears a wig, dresses usually in brightly colored caftans, enthusiastically and vigorously enjoys sex, and as the daughter of a Bavarian chief of detectives is compulsively drawn to solving crimes, photographing cute policemen in uniform and bedding dusky and hunky Sicilian detectives (well one in particular). The quotation from the novel with which I began this post may give a glimpse of Poldi, herself.

On the other hand, Poldi was a woman of strong opinions as well as strong appetites. As she explained to her nephew whom she had appointed to be the Watson to her Holmes:

“I’ve never been devout,” she explained later before I could query this in surprise because I knew that Poldi harbored a fundamental aversion to the Church. “I’m spiritual but not devout, know what I mean? I’ve never had much time for the Church. The mere thought of it infuriates me. The males-only organizations, the pope, the original-sin malarkey, the inhibited cult of the Virgin Mary, the false promises of redemption, the proselytism, the misogyny, the daft words of the psalms and hymns. Mind you, I’ve always liked the tunes. I always enjoyed chanting in the ashram, you know. I screwed every hippie in the temple of that Kali sect in Nevada, I’ve meditated in Buddhist monasteries, and I believe in reincarnation and karma and all that, likewise in people’s essential goodness. I don’t know if there’s a god and if he’s got something against sex and unbelievers, but I can’t help it, I’m Catholic. It’s like malaria: once you’ve got it you never get rid of it, and sooner or later you go and make peace with it.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

On the other hand, perhaps it is the authors alter ego himself, Poldi’s 34-year-old unmarried nephew, the narrator in the books, a self-described but inept author who works at a call center in Bavaria. He has been attempting to write the great Bavarian novel for years now but seems to have only recently gotten inspired to write the first four chapters the last of which he enthusiastically describes in a blaze of overwriting:

“I was in full flow. I was the adjective ace, the metaphor magician, the sorcerer of the subordinate clause, the expresser of emotions, the master of a host of startling but entirely plausible turns of events. The whole of my fourth chapter had been completed within a week. I was a paragon of self-discipline and inspiration, the perfect symbiosis of Germany and Italy. I was a Cyclops of the keyboard. I was Barnaba. All I lacked was a nymph, but my new Sicilian styling would soon change that.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) . HMH Books.

 

He found himself periodically called to Sicily to reside in an attic room in Poldi’s house whenever the Sicilian relatives believed Poldi was skating on the thin edge of reality or Poldi herself needing someone to beguile and complain to demanded his return.

Or perhaps, it is the denizens of my beloved Sicily like the three aunts fascinated, often shocked, and at times participants in Poldi’s escapades. Or her partners in crime, so to speak, sad Carmina and the local priest. Or, Poldi’s French friend, Valerie her forlorn nephews love interest who Poldi steadfastly refuses to allow him to meet.

“For Valérie, like Poldi, happiness possessed a simple binary structure, and the whole of human existence was suspended between two relatively distant poles. Between heaven and hell, love and ignorance, responsibility and recklessness, splendour and scuzz, the essential and the dispensable. And within this dual cosmic structure there existed only two kinds of people: the deliziosi and the spaventosi, the charming and the frightful. Rule of thumb: house guests, friends and dogs are always deliziosi, the rest are spaventosi. At least until they prove otherwise.”

“‘You see,’ Poldi told me once, ‘Valérie has understood that happiness is a simple equation. Happiness equals reality minus expectation.’”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) . HMH Books.

 

Or perhaps it is just that I am a child of Sicily, have lived as well as visited many times and loved that large rocky Island whose citizens have suffered almost two thousand five hundred years of continuous occupation by a host of invaders— Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, Bourbons, Nazi’s, and even British and Americans. Where the inhabitants were considered so irrelevant by their foreign overlords their cities, unlike the rest of Europe, were built without defensive walls. Where the people are reticent with strangers but boisterous and generous with friends and family, where Bella figura reigns, the cuisine is wonderful, people speak in gestures and revel in the mores of their medieval culture and where “Being Sicilian is a question of heart, not genes” (Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2. HMH Books.)

Whatever, the reasons for my own enjoyment of the books,

Pookie says you should check them out, after all, as Auntie Poldi advises:

“Moderation is a sign of weakness.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
Another snag from Brad Delong’s Grasping Reality with Three Hands (https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/04/economics-identity-and-the-democratic-recession-talking-points.html#more), this time an outline of a paper he wrote entitled Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points. I have included here that portion of the outline dealing with Economic Populism.

I would like to draw a sharp distinction between:

On the one hand, populists: who have a coherent theory about how the market economy is rigged against ordinary people by an upper class and have practical plans for policies to fix it;
On the other hand, a different group: a group who believe that a true people, among whom some are rich and some are poor, are being deceived culturally, sociologically, and economically by internal and external enemies, and need to follow a leader or leaders who have no patience with established constitutional powers and procedures to point out to them who their internal and external enemies are.
It is this second set of movements—true people-based, leader-based, enemy-based, that has been by far the most powerful since the breaking of the real populist movement before 1900 by the hammer of racism: the discovery that a large enough chunk of the populists potential base were easily grifted by a white identity-politics assignment of the “enemy“ role to African-Americans.
Powerful both in America and—except for when under the shadow of Soviet threat—in Western Europe since the day Benito Mussolini recognized that rich Italians who liked order would not fund Benito’s socialist movement, but would gladly fund Benito’s “we are stronger together, for a bundle of sticks tied together with leather thongs is strong even though each individual stick is weak“ movement.
Today looks to me like nothing that special: Recall:

Harding and Coolidge, Taft and Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon, and Buchanan:
Harding and Coolidge’s mobilization of the revived Klan and of nativism against blacks and immigrants to geld progressivism in the 1920s.
Taft and Nixon’s mobilizing McCarthy against the communistic New Deal at the end of the 1940s.
Goldwater’s transformation of the Republican Party from the party of upward mobility and those who believe they have something to gain from economic growth and creative distraction to the party of those who believe they have something to lose if uppity Negroes and the overly educated overly clever are not kept in their place.
Richard Nixon’s idea to drag out the Vietnam war for four more years at the cost of 40,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives. Why? So that he and Pat Buchanan can break the country in half, but with him getting the bigger half—until enough Republicans plus Mark Felt of the FBI were sick of him and willing to help bring him down.
How is today different? Possibilities:
Concentration of the easily-grifted, somehow the internet, Rupert the Kingmaker, the Gingrich model, unlock:
Tyler Cowen’s observation: 20% of the population have always been crazy— easily grifted by some variant of white identity politics—but they used to be evenly divided between the two parties and now they are concentrated in one.
Somehow the internet.
Blowback from Rupert Murdoch’s insight that if you could scare the piss out of all the people you could glue their eyes to your product and then make money by selling them fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds.
Rupert the Kingmaker: In the fifteenth century the marcher Earldom of Warwick was uniquely able to mobilize those in the affinity of Earl Richard for the battlefield—and so became known as “Warwick the Kingmaker”. There are analogies here…
The Gingrich model: We now have two generations of Republican politicians who believe that technocratic policy development is for suckers, and then what do you need are:
tax cuts for the rich,
regulatory rollback,
perhaps a short victorious war or two, plus
Whatever culture war currently resonates with the base—notice that “women need to stay in the kitchen and the bedroom“ and “we need to shun homosexuals“ have passed their sell-by date, but transsexuals and anyone who fails to shout “merry Christmas” every five minutes between Halloween and New Years are still fair game.
Or perhaps we have simply been unlucky—and we had gotten used to luck running in our favor:
Otto von Bismarck, perhaps: “a special providence watches over drunkards, fools, and the United States of America”…

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Too much happiness is a precarious state, it eventually leads to anxiety.
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Considering the current fear and anguish over migration, refugees, and asylum seekers, I thought it would be interesting to see what Homer may have thought about it over three thousand years ago.

SOME SHELTER FROM THE WIND: HOMER ON OUR DEBT TO EXILES
Homer, Odyssey 6.205-210

“We live at a great distance from others amid the much-sounding sea,
Far way, and no other mortals visit us.
But this man who has wandered here, who is so ill-starred,
It is right to care for him now. For all are from Zeus,
The strangers and the beggars, and our gift is small but dear to them.
Come, handmaidens, give the stranger food and drink;
Bathe him in the river, where there is shelter from the wind.”

οἰκέομεν δ’ ἀπάνευθε πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ,
ἔσχατοι, οὐδέ τις ἄμμι βροτῶν ἐπιμίσγεται ἄλλος.
ἀλλ’ ὅδε τις δύστηνος ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ’ ἱκάνει,
τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε.
ἀλλὰ δότ’, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε,
λούσατέ τ’ ἐν ποταμῷ, ὅθ’ ἐπὶ σκέπας ἔστ’ ἀνέμοιο.”

D. Readings from the Mueller Report:

 

In a section related to episodes involving the president and possible obstruction of justice, Mueller’s team explains how it “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.” But the special counsel’s team also said it was unable to definitively conclude that Trump did not commit obstruction of justice:

“Apart from OLC’s constitutional view, we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct … The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“You have imposter syndrome,” He says, “but paradoxically, that’s often a sign of competence. Only people who understand their work well enough to be intimidated by it can be terrified by their own ignorance. It’s the opposite of Dunning-Kruger syndrome, where the miserably incompetent think they’re on top of the job because they don’t understand it.”
Stross, Charles. The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files) (Kindle Location 4514). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
6a00e551f0800388340240a44e61df200c

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Children

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Joey 0008. (April 3, 2019)

 

“Sometimes charity toward others is the only respite you get from thoughts about death.”
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 188). Simon & Schuster.

 
Happy Spring Festival Season to All: Easter, Songkran, Semana Santa, Holi, Nowruz, Passover, Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, Holla Mohalla, Cimburijada (Festival of Scrambled Eggs), Walpurgis Night, Las Fallas, and Spring Equinox in Teotihuacán.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
On Tuesday morning, Naida, Boo-boo and I left the Enchanted Forest for the Big Endive by the Bay and my meeting with the surgeon. Upon crossing the Bay Bridge, we drove directly to Peter and Barrie’s house where we unloaded and dropped off Boo-boo. We then proceeded to Mission Bay and my appointment. The night before, we had received a call informing us that the appointment time had been changed from 2:15 PM to 2 PM and insisting we be on time. We waited in the waiting area for over an hour before we were admitted into the examining room where we waited another hour before the surgeon showed up. During that second hour, we were first visited by a young woman who introduced herself as a “swallowing technician.” Yes, she did.

Interspersed between the happy talk and questioning me about the state of my swallowing, I was asked to make funny faces such as blowing out my cheeks while sticking out my tongue. I was also asked to make growling noises for some reason. Finally, a balloon was placed in my mouth and I was directed to press it with my tongue against the roof of my mouth three times. The only reason I could come up with for why I was subject to this silly but not particularly unpleasant activity was that I surmised it allowed the hospital to submit additional charges to Medicare. On the other hand, it could have been intended as entertainment in an effort to cheer me up for what was to come later.

The swallowing technician was followed by another young woman who introduced herself as the doctor’s assistant. Strangely, her first question was to ask me why I was there today. I responded, “Because I wanted to know whether I was a dead man walking or not.” She then looked up my records on the computer and informed us that there was a growth on both sides of my throat that had been there since my first CT scan way back in September. “O,” I said, “that’s interesting, no-one ever mentioned that before. Why is that?” She did not know and became confused and said she would have to ask the doctor. She then busied herself with administering a sonogram to me and left.

Eventually, the surgeon arrived and his message sounded far less encouraging than I had hoped. Basically, he said that in his opinion it would be unsafe to operate at this time, and implied that at my age it would always be dangerous because my arteries were brittle from age and the effects of my radiation treatment. After musing about altering my chemotherapy regime, he advised me that I should enjoy myself as much as possible now. I did not take that advice as a positive comment on the state of my health. He then said, “I will see you in three months.” That seemed a bit more positive. At least he seemed to expect I would still be around three months from now.

That evening we had dinner back at Peter and Barrie’s. Barrie had cooked a very nice spaghetti carbonara for us. We were joined by a delightful friend of theirs from across the street who also happens to be my most responsive Facebook friend although I had never met her until that evening. She told us she was the daughter of a wealthy family in Orange County and that she had been kicked out of every college she attended until she ended up at some college in Mexico City before migrating to San Francisco at the height of its reign as the capital of hippiedom. There she was involved with people like Chet Helms and other leaders of the movement during those brief but wonderfully bizarre times.

The following morning we returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
As I age, like many Vecchi, my short term memory seems to be…. well, a vague memory. If I do not write here every day, I often forget what has happened. It is Friday evening. We returned on Wednesday. I recall little of what occurred in between. We walked the dog several times. I visited EDH a few times and drove HRM and Jake to Dick’s house. Susan McCabe called to see how I was doing. That made me happy. So did the Good/Bad David today. He was calling from the doctor’s office. It seems he is having blood-clot problems. That did not make me happy.

Today, I picked up Hayden, Jake, Caleb, and Hamza and drove them all to Dick’s house. I asked them how they were doing in school. Jake said his marks were improving because he was studying more. Hayden said his were also. I asked H why that was. He said that Dick promised he would be allowed to move from his small bedroom to the large family room downstairs if he gets certain grades on his final report.

I left them off at the house. There would be no adult supervision there (H is a latch key kid now) because I was returning directly to the Enchanted Forest. I made them promise they would get into only a little bit of trouble. I worry about him. I know how distressing loneliness can be for an adolescent.

On Saturday, Naida and I exercised at the gym in the Nepenthe club-house. On Sunday, we sat in the studio, Naida editing her memoir in hopes of having it published before the State Fair opens in July while I passed the time writing this and trying to find something interesting enough on the internet to banish the pit of ennui into which I seem have fallen. I am not unhappy, in fact, I am as happy as I have ever been. It is just that I find this much sedentary living unsettling. Usually, whenever I have had this little to do, I take a nap. For some strange reason, I am both napping less and doing less. I will think more about this tomorrow, or the next day and perhaps understand it better.

It is now Tuesday afternoon. Tomorrow I leave for The Big Endive by the Bay and my infusion appointment. As usual, I will stay at Peter and Barrie’s house for two evenings before returning here on Friday.

 

 

C. OFF FOR TWO DAYS IN THE BIG ENDIVE WITH QUESTIONS OF MORTALITY.
So, three weeks have passed since my last Chemotherapy infusion and we are off again to San Francisco for what may be my final Chemo infusion and hopefully to find out more about my prognosis. As usual, we spent the night a Peter and Barrie’s home. My grandson Anthony arrived and joined us for dinner along with a friend of Peter and Barrie. She, suffering from incurable ovarian cancer, has lived for four years so far on immunotherapy alone. She has spent those four years happily traveling around the world. Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda joined us a little later but Amanda was suffering from a bad cold and since I was told by my doctors to avoid such contacts they left after a brief meet and greet.

Barrie prepared a great meal that featured excellent polenta. During the meal we told stories and played “small world.” You know, recalling the famous and near famous we may have run into in our long lives. Sometimes, I feel a bit like Zelig that mysterious character played by Woody Allen in the film of the same name who appears in the background of photographs of significant historical events. If I can be excused for name dropping and I can (this is my Journal after all) let me list the US president’s I have met and known — Reagan, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — and presidential candidates, Fred Harris, Mike Dukakis, and Hillary Clinton. I assume most of us as we age have brushed shoulders with the so-called great and near great and experienced at least a passing contact with significant events. I guess we are all Zeligs to some extent.

The next morning I met with my oncologist, he told us that this was to be my last chemotherapy treatment and that surgery to remove the tumor was off the table because of my age and the fragility of my cartroid artery. This opinion was devastating to me since it was essentially a death sentence. However, he also told us that the chemo has stabilized the tumor and it appears to have been effective in preventing cancer from spreading to other parts of my body. He informed us he was putting me on a two-year immunotherapy regime and advised me to enjoy life to the fullest. He appears quite confident that an early onset of death would be delayed to sometime beyond the two years and perhaps held in check long after that. This cheered me up — but only a bit.

That evening back at Peter and Barrie’s during dinner we had to break up a contretemps between Ramsey and Boo-boo over possession of a well-chewed tennis ball.
IMG_6075
Boo-boo Hiding Out at Peter and Barrie’s House after Misbehaving.

The next morning we returned to Sacramento.

 

 

D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND A BRIEF TRIP INTO THE FOOTHILLS.
After dropping Naida and Boo-boo off at our house in the Enchanted Forest, I drove up to the Golden Hills and Picked up HRM and the gang and drove them to Dick’s house. H and I discussed the possibility of making a trip to Portland, Idaho, and Montana during his spring break. I then returned home and wrote this while watching Ray Milland and Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. We then walked the dog. I feel good.

It is now Sunday. Spring seems to have slipped into the Great Valley and taken hold, bringing with it sunny days, warm weather, flowers of every color and hay fever (It’s always something —Rosanna Rosannadanna.) It being such a beautiful day, I decided to walk the dog along the meandering pathways of the enchanted forest. The new leaves of the ground cover ivy were a bright almost iridescent green in the bright sun.

On Tuesday at about 2PM, I went to bed. Not for a nap, I knew I would not get up until the following morning. The side-effects of the Chemo infusion, depression, and general fatigue had exhausted me. I woke up periodically during that afternoon and evening. During those brief periods, I would read a chapter of Elena Ferrante’s Novel, “My Brilliant Friend,” or check up on Facebook and then return to sleep.

Ferrante’s book is marvelous and its translation extraordinary. The translation often preserves the Italian language’s ability to express itself in long (at times a page or more) complex sentences encompassing vast emotions and multiple events that in English must be broken up into many separate sentences.

At some point during the evening, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to die, sooner rather than later. It is clear that an operation is infeasable and any potential chemical cure has run its course unsuccessfully. I recalled when Bill Yeates’ wife in a similar situation had had enough of the suffering from attempts to prolong her life and chose to take advantage of the new law to end it humanely. I do not believe I will choose that approach. Primarily because I am, in fact, happier than I have ever been in my life. At night, every night, I lie entwined in Naida’s arms ( sometimes so entwined we giggle over our inability to easily identify whose arms and legs belong to whom). There is a peace and happiness I never experienced before. Yes, I always had hoped I would find that, but there was always something else to do, something more to explore. Perhaps happiness needed accomplishment and experience. And, it did — but only for the stories with which to pass the time and perhaps a bit of justification for one’s life. But enough of this. I woke up on Tuesday. It is another day. When I awoke she was in my arms and that is all that matters now.

Damn, I cannot connect to the internet today. I cannot figure out how to fix the problem. Naida’s computer is connected. My smart-phone after a brief problem connected, but my computer remains— stubbornly unresponsive. What to do.What to do. Is interruption of internet service a modern form of Death? I sit in my chair typing this and feeling a strange form of fear. What happens should I not be able to re-connect here, am I doomed to trundling off to Starbucks every day to access the internet and confirm my existence? Is my life so bereft of meaning that I am reduced to depending on the friendship of people on Facebook many of whom I have never met? Is social media simply an updated version of those two-way radios long-distance truck drivers used to use to avoid the boredom and loneliness of their working lives? Have we become the physical and emotional slaves of our machines? Are we needed for anything beyond self-indulgence? Am I so bored that I need to ask these questions even in jest? Is anyone laughing? If I were connected to the internet I could find out.

Ha, one of our medical student borders just came downstairs and said her internet connection was down also. She marched over to the modem that I had fiddled with for a very frustrating hour or so, pressed a button on top and the internet connection popped right up again. I feel like an idiot. Now if she can do the same with my failed medical treatments I would call today a very good day.

This morning, Hayden called to ask me to pick him up after school. It was unusual for him to call like that, so despite not being completely over with the side-effects of the infusion, I drove into the Golden Hills. I met HRM and Caleb at the skatepark. They were planning to go to the Wednesday church youth get together. He said that his mom appears to have relaxed her opposition to him attending. She had wanted him to become a Buddhist and not a Christian. He felt Buddhism was a way of life and not a religion. “Besides,” he said, “it’s boring for teenagers.” She seemed to concede by responding “Whatever makes you happy.” So I dropped them off at Caleb’s home where they would spend the afternoon until it was time to go to the teenage get-together. I left them with my advice that they should be kind to all as much as they can but to be fair to everyone and drove back to the Enchanted Forest where I was met by a happily yapping little dog and a hug from Naida.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Etymological Origins Of Ethnic Slurs
David Tormsen November 27, 2015

Human beings like to divide themselves into different categories, a process that began with family units and tribes and eventually worked its way up to nationalities, races, ethnicities, and vaguely defined civilization groups. Another aspect of humanity is its natural tendency toward creativity. It was perhaps unavoidable that we’d spend so much time and effort coming up with nasty words to call each other.

Here Tomsen discusses the derivation of common several ethnic slurs including the following:

‘Wop’
This term, used chiefly in the United States to refer to people of Italian descent, has a number of false etymologies being bandied about on the Internet claiming that it derives from “Without Papers” or “Without Passport.” Supposedly, immigration officials at Ellis Island used stamps, chalk, or placards to designate those arrivals lacking sufficient documents as “WOP.” However, the association with immigration documents makes little sense, as the term has been recorded since 1908, while immigration papers weren’t required until 1918.

“Wop” actually derived from the Sicilian and Neapolitan slang term guappo, which means “thug” or “gangster.” Guappo may have come from the Spanish adjective guapo (“bold”) during the period of Spanish rule over Southern Italy. The Spanish term was itself derived from the Latin vappa, meaning “sour wine,” which the Romans used to describe a worthless person or loser. Southern Italian immigrants to the US used guappo among themselves, and it only acquired an offensive meaning when it was picked up by other Americans and mutated into “wop.”

By the 1890s, it was being applied to Italians in general as well as restaurants (“wop-house”), spaghetti (“wop-special”), and Italy (“Wopland”). It may have been popularized throughout the English-speaking world by early talkie films and was in wide use in English-language newspapers during World War II.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Procopius on Top:
Periodically, I like to peruse a site called, “The Fold of the Bards,” (http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/index.html) a blog dedicated primarily to translations of ancient Celtic poetry. It sometimes also contains bits of prose commentary on historical events often written by those who actually lived during the time the events occurred or shortly thereafter. The following, by Procopius, contains a brief history of the departure of the Romans from Britain in the Fifth Century written about one hundred years after the events described. It is interesting, and fascinating to me at least, in that it departs from the often laconic and unsatisfying descriptions found in most history books — namely one form or another of the statement, “The Romans left Britain in 410AD after 400 years of occupation.” It leaves so many questions, “Do you mean a few bureaucrats packed up their documents and left.” Why did the population decline so radically immediately after departure? Did they just get up and leave? Why? Was there a sudden and vast die off? From what? Did they just suddenly choose to migrate? Why,  they were not under serious military attack? And so on.

Here Procopius informs us that in the vast turmoil of the 5th century of the Roman Empire during the reign of the last Emperor of the West, Honorius, the armed bands, tribes and the like saw an opportunity for profit by taking over (plundering?) a resource-rich and valuable section of the Empire. After all, the Roman Empire had been organized and always was a profit-making enterprise for the benefit first of the Romans themselves and then of those they chose to make citizens. They acted like corporations do today. They did not know or suspect the Empire was ending. They were not prescient. Like today’s corporations, they saw short term profit and did not recognize, appreciate or care whether or not a great historical era was ending.

It seems reasonable that the “corporate” leaders of 5th Century Britain saw the apparently far more valuable lands of Brittany and Galicia free for the taking and assembled their bands and their people and set off from dismal fog-shrouded Britain to conquer them. Sort of like a modern company moving their head office, administration and production to someplace that would increase short-term returns to their management and investors.

On Britain
From Procopius’ De Bellis
c. 540ts CE

[Years 408-450] And the island of Britain revolted from the Romans, and the soldiers there chose as their king Constantinus, a man of no mean station. And he straightway gathered a fleet of ships and a formidable army and invaded both Spain and Gaul with a great force, thinking to enslave these countries. But Honorius was holding ships in readiness and waiting to see what would happen in Libya, in order that, if those sent by Attalus were repulsed, he might himself sail for Libya and keep some portion of his own kingdom, while if matters there should go against him, he might reach Theodosius and remain with him. For Arcadius had already died long before, and his son Theodosius, still a very young child, held the power of the East. But while Honorius was thus anxiously awaiting the outcome of these events and tossed amid the billows of uncertain fortune, it so chanced that some wonderful pieces of good fortune befell him. For God is accustomed to succour those who are neither clever nor able to devise anything of themselves, and to lend them assistance, if they be not wicked, when they are in the last extremity of despair ; such a thing, indeed, befell this emperor. For it was suddenly reported from Libya that the commanders of Attalus had been destroyed, and that a host of ships was at hand from Byzantium with a very great number of soldiers who had come to assist him, though he had not expected them, and that Alaric, having quarreled with Attalus, had stripped him of the emperor’s garb and was now keeping him under guard in the position of a private citizen. And afterwards Alaric died of disease, and the army of the Visigoths under the leadership of Adaulphus proceeded into Gaul, and Constantinus, defeated in [411 a.d. ] battle, died with his sons. However the Romans never succeeded in recovering Britain, but it remained from that time on under tyrants. And the Goths, after making the crossing of the Ister, at first occupied Pannonia, but afterwards, since the emperor gave them the right, they inhabited the country of Thrace. And after spending no great time there they conquered the West. But this will be told in the narrative concerning the Goths.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
The Media, whether left-leaning or right, generally dispenses its information about political proposals not by exposing the public to the specifics of the proposals themselves but by limiting its discussion to the feasibility of those proposals being accepted by the political decision makers. Media insiders call this “Tactical Framing.” The reason for this, I guess, is because the conflict over a political issue they believe is more “newsworthy” than the actual proposals themselves. This is wrong.

 

C. Today’s Poem:
As I mentioned, I periodically like to visit the Blog “The Fold of the Bards,” (http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/index.html) containing mostly the poetry, original and in translation, of the Celtic bards of antiquity. Posting of much of the poetry, epic in form, is far too long to include in T&T so I often look for shorter pieces or excerpts like the one I include below.

The poems themselves were not originally written down. In order to become a bard one had to spend as much as eighteen years memorizing the poems of the past. Most of the poems concerned battles or the doings of the various gods or other supernatural creatures of Celtic mythology. Often when the heroes of one tribe met the heroes of another in battle, the bards of the respective warrior bands would retire to a nearby valley and conduct a bardic competition. The victor’s poem in that competition often would become the record of the battle in the bardic canon no matter the actual outcome of the battle.

One epic poem I read concerned a powerful tribe in northern England who had achieved dominance over a large area of what is now Northumbria. The battle was fought and the tribe was wiped out to a man. The only record we have of the tribes and that battle is a long poem listing every warrior on that losing side, what each was known for and how they died in battle (heroically of course). As for the winners, virtually nothing appears in the bardic canon. They disappeared from history as though they did not ever exist.

Gofara Braint
The Flooding of the Braint River

LlGC 9094 (i, ii) [Robert Vaughan’s Notebook]
Peniarth 120 (iii) [Edward Lhuyd’s copy of Vaughan’s Notebook]

Handid haus genyf gerdet yn ddigynvyl
o adaw kymbry wrth ynghussyl
Can dodyw pen Edwin lys Aberffraw
a dyfod Cymru yn un andaw
Neus duc Gwynedd gorvoled i Vrython
Translation:

The Flooding of the Braint River

Ease the flood without strife
From Wales to forsake my council (?)
The head of Edwin came to the court at Aberffraw
And the Welsh came in an assembly
The lord of Gwynedd brought joy to the Britons
NOTES: This five-line fragment of what we assume was a longer poem is found in only two manuscripts, the second a copy of the first. Robert Vaughan records it, but it’s believed to be much older, at least before the 14th century, based on its orthography, and perhaps not much longer after the life of Cadwallon ap Cadfan, about whom this poem is apparently about. Cadwallon defeated King Edwin of England, who was beheaded; Bede says the head was taken to York, but this poem claims it was taken to the royal court of Aberffraw on the Isle of Anglesey.

The title is difficult to understand on its own; it’s believed that gofara should be amended to gorlifa, “flooding”, and thus evokes the image of the Braint River on Anglesey, overflowing its banks after the death of Cadwallon.

The image of the river overflowing in grief–essentially the land weeping for its fallen lord–may have its origins in the old Celtic concept of the king marrying the goddess of sovereignty. The name of the river–Braint–is derived from Brigantia, the tutelary goddess of the Brigantes, the powerful tribe of North Britain. The name Brigantia, it is argued by scholars like D.A. Binchy, gave rise to the Welsh word for king, brenin, i.e. brenin < breenhin < *brigantīnos, “consort of the goddess Brigantia”. It certainly was the origin of the word braint, meaning “privilege”, for instance privileges concerning land grants (i.e., the Braint Teilo).

This possibly points to either a general wider worship of Brigantia, or to the settlement of Gwynedd by the legendary Cunedda from the part of North Britain where Brigantia was worshipped; however, this presupposes Cunedda to have still been pagan in the fifth century, which while possible is unlikely. It’s also possible that the river was named by the Irish who settled North Wales, including Anglesey, in the fifth century; indeed the Llŷn Peninsula that stretches southeast from the area bordering Anglesey is named for the Laigin, i.e., the Leinstermen, who were likely descended of the Brigantes in Ireland (their territories overlap), and whose patron saint was, not coincidently, St. Brigit.

SOURCES: Gruffydd, R. Geraint. “Canu Cadwallon ap Cadfan”. Astudiaethau ar yr Hengerdd: Studies in Old Welsh Poetry. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 1978.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“…Had I so interfered on behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or on behalf of any of their friends… it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”
John Brown the abolitionist at his trial for the attack on Harpers Ferry in 1859.

(It seems like nothing ever changes for the one-percenters.)

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

MW-HE178_IL_Wel_20190219164706_NSTA

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Cold Tits 0008 (February 7 20190

 

“The rich ‘learn lessons.’ The poor commit crimes. ‘Mistakes’ are generally considered a mark of the middle class.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel) . Orbit.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
It is Super Bowl Sunday. Rain dribbles from a grey sky clothing the empty branches of the trees with crystalline droplets. I am feeling a bit better today than I have this past week. The side-effects of the last infusion appear to be dissipating. The good news is that my oncologist has recommended that I meet with the surgeon to reexamine the potential for surgery now that the Chemo seems to have produced some shrinkage in cancer.

We were invited to a Super Bowl party at Naida’s daughter’s house. As we walked to the car, I noticed the camellias were in bloom throughout the neighborhood — a riot of pink flowers on the trees and pink petals littering the ground.

The party was pleasant and the food exemplary. It was too bad that I still cannot taste anything. The game was boring so we left early and returned home where I worked on my suggested revisions to the US Constitution one of my never to be seen obsessions. While working away, I also watched a documentary on the “royal beds” of 17th to 19th Century England. For those who like me find these things interesting or at least amusing, in the 17th Century, the highest courtier in the palace was the something or other of the stool. He was the only courtier allowed to accompany the king to the toilet and hold his toilet paper.

A week has gone by. Following a day or two of sunshine, another storm seems on the way. Although I am feeling better, the weather and my general fatigue have restricted me to spend most of my time around the house — watching old movies and cable news, reading, writing and when the weather permits walking the dog along the paths that wind among the misty trees of the Enchanted Forest.

Strangely, I do not find myself too bored during these the dreary days — more resigned then bored. I sit in a comfortable chair in the study and read. In the last four days, I have read four books, Tahir Shah’s Beyond the Devil’s Teeth, Sanderson’s Skyward, Josiah Bancroft’s The Hod King and Andrew Mayne’s Murder Theory. In between, I am reading Hitler in Los Angeles and tomorrow I will begin on Galbraith’s (Rowling) Lethal White. All of which indicates I am desperate for excitement.

I think I mentioned that I am losing my hair as a side effect of chemotherapy. This morning, while examining the recently exposed skin on my rapidly balding head, Naida noticed a large scar leading to a depression in my skull at the back of my head. This is a mystery. I have no recollection of ever suffering an injury to my head. Could I have forgotten it? Not likely. Could I have repressed it? Possibly. But why?

On Wednesday we set off for San Francisco for my infusion treatment. The surgeon reported that the tumor is still entwined with my cartroid artery and I would need additional chemo treatments before an operation would be feasible.

As usual, we were guests of Peter and Barrie who’s hospitality and kindness the I could never repay. Hiromi and my granddaughter arrived bringing us gifts and joy.
IMG_4428
Amanda, Peter, and Pookie.

 

That night, while taking the dogs out into the backyard, Naida slipped on the wet steps and fell and injured her head, arm, and lower back. Nothing appeared broken, but she was sore and woozy for several days thereafter.

The next day, not too much to report there, I slept through most of it. My grandson Anthony arrived that evening bringing additional joy to my life.
IMG_0929
Anthony and Old Baldie

 

The next morning Jason dropped by to see us off. It made me happy to see him. Naida and I left SF at about 10:30 and drove back to Sacramento and the Enchanted Forest. Exhausted by the trip we retired to bed early.

HRM broke his wrist. It had something to do with picking up the mail and slippery steps. I drove into the Golden Hills. He was in good spirits. Several members of the Scooter Gang were keeping him company. He was most distressed that the injury would prevent him from his weekly snowboarding trips to Heavenly.

There seems to be less and less activity in my life now — mostly sitting in the chair playing with my computer, napping and watching the news or old movies on the television — no exercise to speak of — no real boredom either — just settling into somnolent eighties where one simply waits. Still, at night, lying in each other’s arms remains even more pleasant than ever. I am happy then — the creeping eternal shadow seems softer and less forbidding somehow.

Well, after a week where I could barely get out of bed, I am now feeling much better. I can walk across the room without becoming so dizzy it was all I could do to keep from falling down. Outside, pre-spring seems to have arrived in the Enchanted Forest. The Japanese Cherry trees are in bloom and the weather definitely getting warmer.

Rain continues day after dreary day. Good for the snowpack and the reservoirs. Not so good for old men who like to walk through the forest for exercise. Nevertheless, despite the gloomy weather and my maladies I am quite happy if somewhat restrained. I live with someone who I enjoy spending the day with sitting side by side silently working away on our computers and at night holding tightly to each other as though nothing else matters.

I have not seen HRM for about a week now. I miss him. I miss the word games we play and watching him experience the excitement and difficulties of adolescence.

For those who have been following the saga of the Mysterious Orb, it finally seems to have disappeared. | have searched for it around the neighborhood but it seems to have gone. I will miss it. I somehow felt more secure having that odd orb looking over us.

The days go by and the rains continue. The Russian River has overflown its banks and flooded several towns. Well, as I wrote this the sun came out for a few moments.

On Friday, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and his friends and drive them wherever. HRM told me he broke up with his girlfriend Camille. He said that he had to call her every day and other things but preferred to hang with his friends. “When I get older I can pay more attention to girls and girlfriends. Right now, I like what I am doing,” he added.

HRM, Big Jake, and Little Jake and Caleb piled into the car. I dropped little Jake off at his house and the rest of them at Dick’s place warning them not to get into too much trouble. I then went to have a hot dog and a root beer float at A&W. As I was finishing up my gourmet lunch H called me and asked me to drive them around again so I returned drove Big Jake home and HRM and Caleb to Caleb’s house where H would spend the weekend.

H told me a story on the way. At school that day, his Language Arts teacher told the class that the teachers have the right to award detention to anyone who comes even one-second late to class and then asked if there were any questions. H raised his hand and announced that he thought that would be very mean for someone to do so if the person was only a second late. She accused him of calling her a mean person. He said he was not accusing her of doing something like that but that he was only expressing his opinion that anyone who did that would be mean. While I was happy to see him stand up for what he thought was right and told him so, I was not sure how wise it was.

I am not sure what is happening as he grows older, he used to be the teacher’s pet and generally won the annual prize for deportment and behavior, suddenly he seems to be becoming the spokesman for student’s rights. That’s ok I guess.

Yesterday I learned that the ex-model Winnie who lives in the Enchanted Forest also has been diagnosed with cancer of the lung and brain. I feel very bad for her. She is a bit older than me and used to flirt with me. Either that or she thought me interesting because I was odd or somewhat more — I cannot think of the word… crude comes to mind — so maybe she thinks I am more interesting than the few other men in the subdivision.

On Saturday, we attended the weekly coffee at the Nepenthe Community Center. We haven’t taken part in this weekly event for a couple of weeks now. Many of the usual attendees were there — the two spies, the leader, the artist, the Big Guy, and a few others. Naida and the artist had a long discussion about their life among the Mormons. The artist who was born in a Mormon settlement in Wyoming told about her marriages to Mormon men one of whom had other wives or girlfriends, I couldn’t tell which. Naida mentioned the sex dances Mormon teenagers were encouraged to attend in Idaho when she lived there and her great grandparents escape from Salt Lake City.

Today I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and a couple of the Scooter Gand. SWAC had returned to Thailand yesterday and HRM was now a latch key child. He told me about school. He has become more outspoken with his teachers, questioning their rules. Expected, yes. Teenage boys quest for independence. Well, now I worry. It is his14th birthday on Thursday. Unfortunately, I will be in San Francisco. Nevertheless, I plan to hold a small party for him on Saturday after I return.
Tomorrow we leave again for San Francisco and another chemotherapy infusion

 

 

B. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

 

“You have fled before, Hodder Tom, haven’t you? You have the haunted look of a man who has bolted in every direction, a man who has fought every adversary and somehow never run out of enemies, a man who has plotted himself nameless, friendless, and nearly lifeless. You already know what happens when you run. You know you cannot panic your way to freedom; you cannot worry yourself home. You must face your fears. The only way out is inward.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel). Orbit.

While reading the third book in Bancroft’s The Books of Babel, a series I have commented on previously (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/not-a-book-report-because-i-am-going-to-take-a-ship-instead/) I came across the above paragraph. For some reason, it affected me like few statements have. Again I am not sure why.

As some know, I have a habit of posting in T&T quotes of statements I come across that I find interesting. I got this approach from Don Neuwirth who would carry a notebook with him in which he would copy down aphorisms he read or heard that impressed him. I thought that was a good habit to get into. Since I do not keep a journal, or rather T&T is my journal, I post those I like here.

The series, classified as a Steampunk Fantasy, concerns the adventures and misadventures of a schoolteacher and his wife who travel on their honeymoon to the Tower as tourists. The tower, a gigantic edifice juts far into the sky. Each level contains a kingdom. On the lower levels, the several kingdoms are dedicated to a different attraction or vice intended to captivate the tourist — most often to their ruination and despair. At the top of the tower, far in the clouds resides a strange and secretive person called the Phoenix who develops most of the machines that keep the Tower running.

I consider the series to be one of the better fantasy efforts I have come across and perhaps the best among the steampunk slice of the genre. Goodreads describes the first book in the series as follows:

The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

By the third book, our newlyweds, separated in the vast market that surrounds the entrance to the Tower, still have not gotten back together although they each have had many splendid, frightening and often painful adventures as well as few affairs.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

I am clearly upset about the state of politics in this country. The destruction of democratic societies rarely come from without. They most often are swamped by the oligarchs of wealth before they are finally done in by foreign enemies or just expire like summer flowers in autumn.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

Dick just returned from a ten day trip to Italy. I spoke to him a few days after he arrived back in EDH. Among other places, he spent a few days in Florence which he enjoyed a lot. That reminded me of one on the many times I visited that city. It was about twenty years ago and I was driving along the Lungarno on my way to The Hotel Principessa something or other where I usually stayed because of its wonderful view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Boboli Gardens that rise up behind the Pitti Palace when passing a small plaza I saw a crowd milling about in front of an elegant old hotel (I no longer remember its name). There were television cameras sent up also. I suggested to the woman I was traveling with that we stop and find out what it was all about. We got out of the car and I asked one of the cameramen what was happening. They told me that the son of the deposed King of Italy had just married some Italian heiress and they, the King himself and his court were staying at the hotel. Everyone was waiting for the happy cow-le and the King to arrive.

Now, at that time the King who lived in Spain was prohibited from visiting Italy, but the prohibition was waived for the wedding so everyone was eager to get a glimpse of him. So we decided to stay also

A few minutes later two large limousines and several other cars drove into the plaza and parked. From the back of the first car the bridegroom, (the Prince), and the bride (the heiress) exited. The Prince who was reputed to be gay scurried quickly into the hotel. His wife, the heiress, who I had learned could be quite demanding began ordering about some of the people from the other cars contains the luggage. From the front of the limousine, a tall grey-haired man wearing a blue blazer and a shirt without a tie exited and stood by us watching the activity. Believing him to be the chauffeur, we began talking with him. He spoke English quite well. I thought it would be fun for us to stay in this hotel with the royal family. It certainly would make a good story.

The old gentleman urged us to do so and volunteered to help us get a room. So, in we went and after a few whispers to the man at the desk we had a room. It was then one of the harried retainers approached our new friend and humbly said, “Your Excellency, your room is ready.” And that was when we realized that he was not the chauffeur but the King himself.

Anyway, we checked into our room, a rather large lovely old elegant room. The room was directly above the newlyweds suite. While standing on the balcony we could hear the bride shouting at someone or two for a while.

That evening we went to dinner in the hotel. The newlyweds had left for a party in their honor somewhere else. The King and his court, however, did not join them but instead sat at a large table in the center of the dining room. We were placed at a table near them. We ate a fabulous meal while the King shamelessly flirted with my date.

The next morning we left having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and with a story as well.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Logarithmic History on Top:
It is always a pleasure to drop into the blog Logarithmic History. Using a logarithmic scale mapped onto the course of one year the blog traces the History of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day. In case you are unfamiliar with logarithms and how they are applied here the author Doug Jones explains:

Other folks have proposed putting the history of the universe on a logarithmic scale; here I map that scale onto the course of one year. If you’re a bit hazy about logarithms, all you have to know is that each day of the year covers a shorter period in the history of the universe than the preceding day (5.46% shorter). January 1 begins with the Big Bang and covers a full 754 million years. January 2 covers the next 712 million years, and so on. Succeeding days cover shorter and shorter succeeding intervals in the history of the universe. At this rate, a given calendar date covers only a tenth as much time as a date 41 days earlier.

On this logarithmic scale, Earth is formed on January 20, trilobites arise toward the end of February, and dinosaurs meet their doom on April 6. The middle of the year finds Homo erectus giving way to early versions of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. October begins with King David and ends with Columbus. By December 7, we reach the year of the Beatles’ first LP (1963). December 31 covers just one year, 2017; calendar time and history-of-the-universe time finally coincide at midnight.

So, here is his entry for February. The history of the universe has progressed from the creation of the galaxies to the birth of the solar system to the early stirrings of life of earth.

(https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/between-darwin-and-saint-valentines-day/)

Between Darwin and Saint Valentine’s day

Yesterday was Darwin’s birthday (and Lincoln’s). Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Here’s a post appropriate for either day.

Imagine sex worked like this:

You’ve been feeling bad lately, getting sick a lot. You’re not at your best. You find someone who seems to be in better shape. One thing leads to another and you wind up acquiring body fluids from the other party — and picking up some new genes from them. The new genes help a lot in fighting off infection. You’re feeling better now.

Reproduction? That’s another matter, nothing directly to do with sex. When you reproduce, your offspring will carry all the genes you happen to have at the moment.

Also, I forgot to mention that you’re neither male or female — the gene exchange could have gone in the other direction if you’d both been in the mood. And your partner in the adventure above might not even have been the same species as you. (Just what counts as a species here isn’t well-defined.)

This is more or less how bacteria work out sex. (Joshua Lederberg got the Nobel Prize for figuring this out.) Eukaryotes (you’re one of them) mostly do it differently, combining sex and reproduction. It’s the story you learned in high school about passing on half your genes to a gamete (sex cell), which joins with another gamete to make a new organism.

Most eukaryotes also have two sexes. The best theory we have about why that got started goes like this: Most of the DNA in a eukaryote cell is in the nucleus. But a small fraction is in the mitochondria, little powerhouses outside the nucleus that started out as bacteria and got domesticated. Imagine that two gametes join together, and combine two sets of mitochondria. There’s a potential conflict here. Suppose your mitochondria have a mutation that lets them clobber your partner’s mitochondria. This is good (evolutionarily speaking) for the winning mitochondria, but very likely to be bad for the cell as a whole. Better for the cell as a whole is if one gamete, acting on instructions from the nucleus, preemptively clobbers all their own mitochondria, so that all the mitochondria come from just the other gamete. This is the beginning of what will eventually lead to a distinction between sperm and eggs, pollen and ovules, male and female. Which means you got all your mitochondrial DNA from your mom, something that will turn out to be important when we look later in the year at geneticists unraveling human prehistory. This is also an example of how selection at one level (within cells) can conflict with selection at another level (between cells). We’ll see such multilevel selection again and again, for example in the evolution of complex human societies.

Sex has to be highly advantageous, although we’re not sure exactly what the advantage is. The general answer is probably that an asexually reproducing organism almost never produces any offspring who have fewer harmful mutations than she has. But a sexually reproducing organism, passing on a random half of her genes to each of her offspring, can have some offspring with fewer harmful mutations, at the cost of having other offspring with more. There are various reasons (Muller’s ratchet, Kondrashov’s hatchet) why this could be evolutionarily advantageous.

In other words, with sexually reproduction, at least some of mum and dad’s kids can be less messed up than their parents; it’s asexually reproducing organisms that really embody Larkin’s dour verse …

Man hands on misery to man,

It deepens like a coastal shelf

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

… insofar as, when eukaryote species give up sex, they don’t seem to last long. Dandelions reproduce asexually: based on what we see in other organisms, they probably won’t be around for long, evolutionarily speaking. There’s one mysterious exception, tiny animals called bdelloid rotifers which have been reproducing asexually for tens of millions of years. For readers who are not bdelloid rotifers: Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow! We’ll have an appropriate evolutionary post up tomorrow.

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
It is those who stand and fight that die. Those that run and hide often live. Therefore, when confronted with danger or even a fairly serious challenge first run and hide and if that is impossible than fight as though your life depends on it.

 
C. Today’s Poem:
The poem was written by an injured afghani child in a hospital in Pakistan following the Russian retreat from Afghanistan.

My own village with green fields and high

When I see fields of wheat I remember
trees,
When I see a river I remember the rivers
Of my own province, Paghman.
When I see the mountains I remember the range
Of the Hindu Kush. I will never forget
My friends, nor how I went with them to the nearby hills,
Covered by green grass,
With hundreds of cattle grazing there;
And then we were forced to leave.

Shah, Tahir. Beyond the Devil’s Teeth: Journeys in Gondwanaland (p. 172). Secretum Mundi.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is a subculture in this country that seems to have no antecedent—a conflation of reality television, National Enquirer journalism, fundamentalist religion, militarism, and professional football. At the center is an adoration of celebrity, no matter how it is acquired or in what form it comes.”
Burke, James Lee. The New Iberia Blues: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 116). Simon & Schuster.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

 

You can make a periodic table of consonants.

phonemes

 

Across the top are the different places in the vocal tract where you block the flow of air. Along the left side are different ways of blocking the flow (stopping it completely –t-, letting it leak out –s-, etc.) The table can explain why, for example, we use in for intangible and indelicate, but switch to IM for impossible and imbalance. (The table contains sounds we don’t use in English and uses a special set of signs, the International Phonetic Alphabet, which assigns one letter per phoneme.) This is why a book title like The Atoms of Language makes sense (a good book by the way).

So sometimes the universe gets more complex because already existing stuff organizes itself into complex new patterns – clumps and swirls and stripes. But sometimes the universe gets more complex because brand new kinds of stuff appear, because a new particulate system comes online: elementary particles combine to make atoms, atoms combine to make molecules, or one set of systems (nucleotides to make genes, amino acids to make proteins) combines to make life, or another set of systems (phonemes to make words, words to make phrases and sentences) combines to make language.

(https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/)

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20150714_154344_711
HRM and Pookie

 

 

 

Categories: January through March 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    14 Mopey 0008. (January 30, 2019)

 

“The index of punditry in a society is inversely proportional to its intellectual solvency”

Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 426). Harper.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
These are gloomy days. Moody skies cover the Enchanted Forest as the winter storms pass over the Great Valley. Threatening they may look, but they leave behind only a ceaseless cold drizzle and little silver droplets on the branches of the trees — the only bright spot in the muted and silent landscape. I assume the storms reserve their wrath for the mountains depositing layers of new snow to the delight of skiers and those who fret about reservoir levels.

My mood is bleak also. There are three daggers aimed at me now. My cancer of course, but also an enhanced threat of infection and a shut down of my ability to pee threatening irreparable damage to my kidneys.

Naida had a bad cold. We walk around the house with masks on, wash our hands constantly and I try to avoid touching places she has touched as though…well, as though a dread disease lurks there — which of course it does. As Rosanna Rosannadanna says, “It’s always something.” And, at my age, that is probably truer than ever.

My daughter Jessica is in San Francisco, thanks in part to the government shutdown and to attend a funeral she is hesitant to talk about. I am very excited to see her. It has been a long time, perhaps two years, maybe more.

(Note: As I type this, I am also watching a movie about Giant carnivorous rabbits attacking a town in the western US. This has got to be the nadir of my existence.)

During the past few days, a lot of the usual annoyances of life sped by — towing my car and the rush to get it out of the pound, confusing discussions with pharmacists and medical professionals, and so on. Naida remains sick, Trump remains not my president, life continues as it usually does until it doesn’t, and I find myself unusually bored. But, tomorrow is another day (Scarlett O’Hara).

On Sunday, my daughter Jessica arrived. She drove up from San Francisco to see me. Seeing her after almost three years made me very happy. It has been too long. She looks well. She’s recovering from a series of concussions she experienced playing soccer over the years. The concussion injury to her brain caused several perception and other problems. We talked about our various maladies and other things. He Who is Not My President’s governmental shutdown has had one good result, my daughter, furloughed by the shutdown, was able to return to California and visit with me.

It is now Tuesday night. What I wanted to write here since that time has passed on from when I thought it important or at least depressed enough to think so. It appears another of my medicines had caused an allergic reaction that resulted in me wanting to simply give up. It has passed.

I don’t often give up. Not giving up has always been important to me. In the almost incessant fights I found myself in during my youth, I would not give up no matter how badly I was beaten. And, I was beaten most of the time.

During my years as a trial lawyer, I asked only to be assigned cases no one in the office would touch because they believed those cases were losers. I still managed to amass the third longest string of consecutive victories at the beginning of a career in the history of New York (while also losing my marriage because of my obsession).

I refused to be daunted by opposition from the medical profession and my own colleagues in setting up NY’s Mental Health Information Service that reformed NY’s mental health hospital system from the horror it inflicted on my mom and innumerable others. It became the model for the nation. That agency still exists today.

There was no option for me other than the approval of California’s Coastal Program as it was expected to be, and the successful establishment and financing of the innovative California Coastal Conservancy no matter the cost to me (another marriage) and to those that worked for me. That occupied 13 years of my life.

The same can be said for the law firm on whose management committee I served and obsessively fought against often unanimous opposition to alter the economic and social mores of the firm for the benefit of the workers, women attorney’s and the firm as a whole by, among other things, demonstrating that the health and profitability of the firm did not depend solely upon the efforts of those with the largest books of business who inevitably end up plundering the firm for their own benefit. The health of a firm depended as much upon the lowliest of paralegals and junior partners and that balanced practice groups are necessary in order to weather the effects of the various business cycles and that those groups adversely affected by a business cycle should not be punished by those groups benefiting from the cycle (e.g., bankruptcy and real estate often operate on opposing cycles).

As a member and later Chairman of California’s High Speed Rail Commission during a period when it appeared to be foundering, I put it back on track so to speak, by pushing through its EIR, changing its tendency for locating its stations at the edges of the cities to bringing them downtown where they would revitalize the communities, developing the concept of the HS network as a backbone transportation system for California whereby multiple regional transportation systems could connect to the downtown stations and service the entire region; and finally fighting against the rapacious efforts of the four of five large engineering firms who sought to control the process for their own benefit and who, I believe, can be blamed for much of the criticism HSR has been subject to since I was removed by Governor Schwarzenegger over the issue.

On the other hand, when I lost (most often a marriage), I usually ran away and started again and again somewhere else. From New York to Pennsylvania, to Rome Italy, to back to the US, to San Francisco, to Thailand, to The Golden Hills and now to the Enchanted Forest. In each place, often penniless, I licked my wounds, struggled with despair, indulged in excess and dreamed of renewal, a new life somehow somewhere, and ultimately I moved on. There was, however, even during these times always something I could not give up on, first Jason, then Jessica and now HRM. I may not always have been successful in their view, but I tried and they kept me more alive and happy than I am sure they believe I have benefitted them. But no more now, they are grown (perhaps not HRM) and despair now is reserved for those times when the pains and discomfort of my various maladies become too much and instead of not giving up, I sometimes long for the peace of oblivion.

Talk about depressing things, the HAC just towed our automobile again. I left them a nasty message and threatened to sue them.

 

 

B. UPDATE ON THE MYSTERIOUS ORB.

 
For those interested in the odd adventures of the Mysterious Orb, it has moved slightly from when it emerged from the bush behind which it had been hiding to show Nikki the way to our house. It has now rolled on a short way and appears to be intending to hide behind another bush to await for whatever the orb waits for next.

IMG_6025
The Mysterious Orb —Photograph Taken From Our Garage.

 

It moved from its hiding place behind the smaller bush on the right where it had hidden for a few weeks to the center of the space where Nikki saw it. The Orb has since then moved on toward the bush on the left. Whether it will choose to hide behind that bush or proceed on up the alleyway, I can only guess. I await the next episode in the adventures of the Odd and Mysterious Orb.

Today about four days after the above was written, the Orb made its decision and is now well hidden behind the bush on the left.

A few days later, during an early morning walk, I passed by the alley where the Odd Orb was hiding. I noticed one of the Turkey Gangs pecking around that part of the alley near where the Orb was hiding. It got me thinking. Do you suppose it is the Turkey Gangs that are moving the Orb around? The birds are big enough to do so. If so, why? Another mystery.

 

 
C. OFF TO THE BIG ENDIVE ON THE BAY.

 
First, we bailed the car out of impoundment. I grumbled and plotted revenge on those I believed targeted me specifically. On the drive home in response to my complaints, Naida said, “I guess we know now that there is a wicked witch in the Enchanted Forest.”

Then we spent some time on our computers doing last minute things. Finally, we and the dog set off to the Big Endive on the Bay. We arrived at Peter’s house in late afternoon. My daughter arrived soon after. We had a pleasant evening reminiscing. Jessica planned to leave on Friday to go back to Washington DC. I will be sad to see her go I do not know when I will see her again.

The next day I met with my doctor and received the first glimmer of good news in at least the past three months. He said that cancer had shrunk enough to bring the possibility of an operation to remove it before the board of surgeons. They then efficiently scheduled all tests and my infusion to occur the remainder of the day.

That night we had dinner at a local Italian Restaurant that I used to enjoy when I lived in that neighborhood years ago. It used to cost about $10 for the same meal I enjoyed that night. Now, that same meal cost me $70. Nothing had changed but the wealth of those that now live in the neighborhood.

Later, Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda arrived at Peter’s house for a visit.

IMG_4153

D. BACK TO THE ENCHANTED FOREST.

 

We returned to the Enchanted Forest on Friday. On Saturday I drove into the Golden Hills to drive the Scooter Gang around. While we were driving HRM turned to me with a big smile on his face and said, “Pookie, I have a girlfriend.” How does one respond to that? I settled on, “Good for you” and high-fived him. Now I worry.

Among the books I have read so far this month was James Lee Burke’s most recent Robicheaux and Purcell saga. The boys are getting old — and they know it. They still, however, act like adolescents while Burke places in their minds the sorrows and sadness of aging heroes approaching their end. Although, the novel takes place by Bayou Teche in Louisiana and Monument Valley Arizona, the epilogue has Dave, Clete and Dave’s adopted daughter Alifair recovering from their efforts and injuries in a motel in Bodega Bay California and traveling up and down Highway One for entertainment.

Alas, I just got word that Lucia’s bar in Sacile, a place I always considered the happiest place on earth, is no more. It has succumbed to the downsizing of the nearby American military base and the Italian economy’s multi-year depression. Lucia is now working as a barista in one of the other cafes in the town. This is all so sad.

I am losing my hair as a result of the chemo. Great gobs of hair flitter down from my head often falling into my food as I eat, making it even more unappetizing than usual. It all amuses me. If it continues I will become the first person in my direct ancestry to go bald in at least five generations. My head looks like it is covered with down.

IMG_6026

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
Let’s face it, the United States and the West, in general, lost the Fourth World War or what can be called the First Cyber War.

The Third World War between the Russian-Soviet Empire and the American Empire ended in 1989 with a victory by the American Empire and the destruction of the Soviet Empire. The war was conducted through proxy wars (Korea and Viet Nam for America and Afghanistan for the Soviet Union) and competition between the empires to amass more and more expensive and technically advanced armaments that would be rarely ever used except for a small percentage in the proxy wars. In effect, the war was an economic competition to see who could produce the most weapons of war without suffering an economic collapse.

Instead of attempting to engage the American Empire in another war of military hardware show and tell, Vladimir Putin the Russian President and chief Oligarch decided to do what he knows best to undermine the American power and resorted to cyber warfare in an effort to split the western hegemony apart.

After forays into destabilizing the European democracies by overt and subversive support for the nationalistic opposition to the more internationalist leaning parties currently leading them, he then found his metier by affecting the successful Brexit vote to split England from the European Union.

He found gold however in launching a cyber attack of the US 2016 Presidential election campaign in support of either a willing idiot or a suborned asset. His candidate won and proceeded to alter 100 years of American policy in favor of the international goals of the Russian Oligarchs.

Since then, America’s role on the international stage has shrunk considerably as we have abandoned our traditional allies and Fascist regimes steadily gobble up the world’s democracies.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

June 2011, My First Visit to Sacile and Tamai in the Veneto Region of Italy.

 
About four hours later we arrived at Nikki’s condominium in Busto a small working-class town located just outside of Milan adjacent to Malpensa Airport. We unpacked, cooked dinner and went to sleep. The following morning I was awakened by a lot of shouting and banging of things being moved about. I left my room to find SWAC in the midst of packing and shouting. It seems that her period commenced (Her statement not mine) the previous night and that according to her, it was an absolute necessity we immediately depart the messy and cramped condominium for the supposedly spacious and elegant farm of her friends located almost completely across the top of the country from Milan, somewhere near Venice.

She insisted that I accompany them, stay the night and return to Milan the next morning, leaving Hayden and her to spend two or three weeks there. I demurred, explaining that I had had enough traveling for a while. Following somewhat emotional discussions and a series of telephone calls to the so-called friends, it was agreed that I would accompany them to the Veneto and remain with Hayden lodged at the farm while she returned to Milan with Nikki and departed for Thailand to return in about two weeks.

So, four or so hours later we drove into Sacile (pronounced Sah Chili) a town about 40 kilometers north of Venice. It is also known as “Il Giardino del Serenissima,” or something like that. It translates as “The Garden of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.”

Before reaching the center of town we stopped on a side street at a coffee shop/bar operated by a friend of SWAC and Nikki, a tall slender middle-aged woman named Lucia. Outside the bar were a few tables, one of which was occupied by several locals playing the traditional Italian card games of Scopa and Bresaola. They and the other patrons were generally drinking Prosecco, not the sweet bubbly crap one gets in the US but the refreshing local, hot weather afternoon, kick back and enjoy life drink. It was very good. We had two glasses and spent about an hour in pleasant conversation with Lucia, her strange boyfriend and some of the customers.

We then walked to the main plaza of the town that has a river running through it. Apparently, during the heyday of La Serenissima, barges from Venice would travel up the river to the small falls that made further travel difficult. The barges, carrying, I guess, things like Murano glass souvenirs, porcelain Carnivale mask and things like that would be offloaded and replaced by agricultural goods from the area and other things like cuckoo clocks carried over the alpine passes from Switzerland and Austria. The town sprung up to service this barge traffic, I assume to provide food, drink, and entertainment to the lonely bargemen as they awaited their consignments.

The town is a picture postcard of what someone would imagine a Venetian town should look like. At first blush, it appears that the ancient town has reemerged from history. A closer look reveals something a bit more like one would find at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a use of post-modern architectural design flowing seamlessly into the few remaining vintage structures.

Post-modernism despite the acres of intellectual drivel generally written by those hoping to make some money off of it, is merely a form of colorful mostly straight edged Moderne (with pitched rather than flat roofs) as it existed before Walter Gropius sex crazed with Anna Mahler tarted it up into Bauhaus (Or had Gropius become a sexual deviant before the advent of Moderne, I never could remember which). Essentially it consists of a series of rectangular planar facades painted or otherwise colored in earthy reds, yellows and beiges adorned with simple architectural elements, like plain arches ( now and then festooned with architectural artifacts). It was concocted by Venturi and Graves hungry for commissions out of their impression of the reconstruction of traditional domestic and small commercial structures in post-war Italy as the local people filled in the bombed-out spaces between the surviving historical structures with simplified copies of traditional design and painted them with a brighter version of the standard stucco. It spread back to Europe and It works here in Italy since that was always the local vernacular architecture anyway.

In NY, Johnson, tired of living in glass houses and unable to diddle Anna himself, nevertheless attempted to capitalize on the post-modern craze by creating the worlds largest and perhaps ugliest misrepresentation of a piece of obsolete junk furniture as a New York skyscraper. San Francisco, ever ready to slavishly follow East Coast fashions adopted postmodernism as the design element of its planning code thereby converting something generally simple into the gross monstrosity of pink-tinged architecture that graces the City today.

Ah well, I liked Sacile a lot, even if it seemed a little bit like an urban version of Danville.

As we walked about, I noticed that this was a town populated by people with prominent noses, from fleshy cyranoesque proboscis to hawk-like aquiline appendages cleaving the air as they walked along like axe heads cleaving a log. These notable features adorned generally slender well dressed men and equally fashionable and sensuous women. Unlike the drab dark colors, I found ubiquitous in the US, here both the men and women were more colorfully attired. Although there was the usual excess of pre-stressed jeans and off the shoulder tank tops, there was nary a velour exercise outfit to be seen,

After wandering around the city for about an hour our hosts arrived and we followed their automobile to their farm on the outskirts of a village with the pleasantly sounding name of Tamai.
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-IMG_4761
A View of Sacile

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

 
Raven (Dotson ‘sa or Dotson’sa in the Koyukon/ Denaakk’e language): Raven is the creator god of the Koyukon and other Alaskan Athabaskan tribes. He is a revered and benevolent transformer figure who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Koyukon stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble. http://www.native-languages.org/&#8230;

 

 

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Melinda Cooper on Top:

 

That conservative parties’ policies redistribute wealth and power upward while distracting their mass base by focusing them on internal or external enemies has long been the point of Toryism—since before the Gordon Riots, in fact. And now Tucker Carlson is surprised that there is gambling going on, and is just asking questions? Does he want us to take him seriously?: Eric Levitz: Why Tucker Carlson Plays a Critic of Capitalism On TV: “Melinda Cooper… explains:

Writing at the end of the 1970s, the Chicago school neoliberal Gary Becker remarked that the “family in the Western world has been radically altered—some claim almost destroyed—by events of the last three decades.” … Becker believed that such dramatic changes in the structure of the family had more to do with the expansion of the welfare state in the post-war era than with feminism per se… a consequence rather than an instigator of these dynamics…. Becker’s abiding concern with the destructive effects of public spending on the family represents a key element of his microeconomics… that is consistently overlooked…

…Thus the bedrock logic of the alliance between social conservatives and reactionary capitalists was this: One valued “small government” because it (supposedly) enabled the patriarchal family (and/or racial hierarchy), while the other valued the family because it enabled “small government.” Social conservatives have paid a price for hopping into bed with the worshippers of mammon. But social conservatives were always the junior partners in the GOP coalition. And when the dual objectives of rolling back the New Deal bargain—and reviving cultural traditionalism—came into conflict, the former took priority. As a result, the logic of social conservatives’ alliance with capital has fallen apart… Thanks to a combination of global supply chains, corporate consolidation, and network effects, capital has been fleeing rural counties and concentrating in big cities—taking many conservatives’ kids along with it… Capital has paired its literal abandonment of culturally conservative areas (and concomitant undermining of family formation in such places) with more superficial slights. As upper-middle-class millennials have become an immensely valuable consumer block, corporate brands have begun advertising their “wokeness.” Television commercials now regularly sing the praises of social liberalism, feminism, and ethnic diversity…
#noted #orangehairedbaboons

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
He Who is Not My President places us squarely in that age-old bind. Is our leader an ideologue or an idiot?

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

Warm Summer Sun
BY MARK TWAIN

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night

Twain and Jonathan Swift were born on the same day. The following bit of doggerel was written to commemorate that fact.

Born today were Mark Twain and Jon Swift.
For skewering sarcasm, each had a gift.
Which of them was more profane?
You make the call. Was it Swift or Mark Twain?
http://www.chicagonow.com/&#8230;

 

 

 

D. Giants of History: Another Snag from Brad DeLong.

 
Brad DeLong (https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/01/eg-ben-alpers-_a-far-right-anti-semitic-conspiracy-theory-becomes-a-mainstream-irritable-gesturehttpss-usihorg2.html#comment-6a00e551f080038834022ad3866887200c) directly takes on the attempts to rehabilitate the anti-Semitic canard of “Cultural Marxism” by some contemporary. conservative pundits

Where did David Brooks learn to use the term “cultural Marxism”? From Alexander Zubatov and his attempt to rehabilitate it from its anti-Semitic not just connotation but denotation. How does Zubatov do this? By taking Russell Blackford out of context: Zubatov claims that Blackford’s bottom line is “in other words, [cultural Marxism] has perfectly respectable uses outside the dark, dank silos of the far right”. Blackford’s actual bottom line is that the modern

The conception of cultural Marxism is too blunt an intellectual instrument to be useful for analyzing current trends. At its worst, it mixes wild conspiracy theorizing with self-righteous moralism… Right-wing culture warriors will go on employing the expression ‘cultural Marxism’… attaching it to dubious, sometimes paranoid, theories of cultural history… Outside of historical scholarship, and discussions of the history and current state of Western Marxism, we need to be careful…. Those of us who do not accept the narrative of a grand, semi-conspiratorial movement aimed at producing moral degeneracy should probably avoid using the term ‘cultural Marxism’…

Why does Zubatov misuse Blackford? In the hope that he will pick up readers like Brooks, who will take his representations of what Blackford says to be accurate. Why does Brooks take Zubatov’s representations of what Blackford says as accurate? Because Brooks is too lazy to do his homework: Ben Alpers: A Far-Right Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory Becomes a Mainstream Irritable Gesture: “At the heart of this largely rote piece of Brooksian pablum is a claim that deserves a closer look. ‘The younger militants’, writes Brooks, ‘tend to have been influenced by the cultural Marxism that is now the lingua franca in the elite academy’. This is interesting both for what Brooks appears to be trying to say and, more immediately, how he has decided to say it… Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik… murdered sixty-nine people… William Lind… associated with both the Free Congress Foundation and Lyndon LaRouche… Lind’s conception of Cultural Marxism was explicitly anti-Semitic…. Over the course of these years, the idea of Cultural Marxism spread across the American far right… [with] a big boost from Andrew Breitbart…. Why would a columnist like David Brooks, who is himself Jewish in background (if, perhaps, no longer in faith) and who has tried to build his brand identity by peddling in respectability and civility, adopt the term?…

…Brooks… defended his use… Alexander Zubatov entitled “Just Because Anti-Semites Talk About ‘Cultural Marxism’ Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Real”… For Zubatov, it wasn’t so much the Frankfurt School, but rather György Lukács, Louis Althusser, Herbert Marcuse, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Stuart Hall, and, above all, Antonio Gramsci who are at fault… Zubatov… maintains that Cultural Marxism is “a coherent program” and accuses it of many of the same things that Lind does:

It is a short step from the Marxist and cultural Marxist premise that ideas are, at their core, expressions of power to rampant, divisive identity politics and the routine judging of people and their cultural contributions based on their race, gender, sexuality and religion… Public shaming, forced resignations and all manner of institutional and corporate policy dictated by enraged Twitter mobs, the sexual McCarthyism of #MeToo’s excesses, and the incessant, resounding, comically misdirected and increasingly hollow cries of “racist,” “sexist,” “misogynist,” “homophobe,” “Islamophobe,” “transphobe” and more that have yet to be invented to demonize all those with whom the brittle hordes partaking in such calumnies happen to disagree.

Zubatov prominently cites the English philosopher Russell Blackford… But in the very piece Zubatov cites, Blackford concludes that the phrase is so marked by its connection to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that it is, in practice, largely unusable:

In everyday contexts, those of us who do not accept the narrative of a grand, semi-conspiratorial movement aimed at producing moral degeneracy should probably avoid using the term “cultural Marxism.”… Like other controversial expressions with complex histories (“political correctness” is another that comes to mind), “cultural Marxism” is a term that needs careful unpacking.

Of course, Zubatov, much less Brooks, is not very interested in carefully unpacking anything. Zubatov and Brooks are attached to a pejorative which they’d prefer to be uncoupled from the anti-Semitism to which it has been usually attached…. “Cultural Marxism” is a toxic expression that entered our national discourse as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. It ought to be avoided on that basis alone, especially given the more general mainstreaming of anti-Semitism…

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Krugman also points out how justifications for austerity were invented on the fly, and maintained in the face of contrary evidence. In the US, this perhaps presaged a more general collapse of respect for evidence and expertise on the political right. This collapse raises questions as to whether the role of ideas in politics is undergoing a fundamental shift in the US (and perhaps UK), in which the whole idea of expertise becomes an issue of partisan contention.”
Henry Farrell and John Quiggin. Department of Political SciePaulnce and Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and School of Economics, University of Queensland

http://www.dhnexon.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ISQ-Keynesianism-and-Great-Recession-Symposium-1.pdf

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joseph 0007. (December 31, 2018)

 

“However many sorrows you drag along with you, you’ll only have walked a few steps before bumping into someone who will remind you that there’s always another person with a far worse set of cards than yours in the game of life.”
Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 193). Harper.

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

(In 1919, one hundred years ago:

WWI officially ended in June 1919.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity is tested/confirmed by Arthur Eddington’s observation of a total solar eclipse in Principe and by Andrew Crommelin in Sobral, Ceará, Brazil.
Women’s rights: The United States Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would guarantee suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.
Prohibition begins: The United States Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto.
The American-born Lady Astor is elected to the British House of Commons, becoming on December 1 the first female MP to take a seat.
Female suffrage in Germany and Luxembourg.
May 25 Madam C. J. Walker [Sarah Breedlove], African American entrepreneur (First American self-made female millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company), dies of kidney failure complications at 51.)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND THEREABOUTS:

 
The Coming of the Holidays

Sickness eventually, like most journeys, features periods of high and low adventure stitched together with periods of annoyance and joy. Then one briefly feels the excitement of reaching his or her goal. — Well, a goal if you achieve health — other options, not so much. A few days telling the stories of high excitement follow, then creeping boredom begins urging you to move on again to somewhere or someplace else. I’ve, alas, grown tired of my adventures with the dread disease. It’s been a week since my actual treatment began. Things went right, then wrong, then right once more, and so on. I thought when treatment began I would be happy and see each visit as another adventure of sorts or perhaps even experience a few descents into slap-stick. No, no such luck, they have now just become boring.

Anyway, the Holidays are rumbling on toward us. I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend my sister’s Christmas celebration this year. I will miss visiting with my Mendocino friends, Debbie, Nancy and Duncan, Maryjane and her clown, Brendan and Ashley, Katie and Quinn, Ester, and everyone else. Buon Natale to all.
img_1987
Christmas in Mendocino

I usually hate the holiday season — too much expectation, scant reward. My sister’s celebrations, however, are different, always better than anticipated.

 

More news about the Mysterious Orb.

 

Apparently, my announcement about the disappearance of the Mysterious Orb was premature. As you may recall, it appeared suddenly in the street in front of our home with a sign attached reading something like, “Take me — free.” It sulked around for a few days. Suddenly, the sign attached to the orb sprouted some more words declaring, “I am a fountain.” A day or two later, it disappeared from lurking in front of the house. I not many days after that, I dutifully reported here in “This and That” that I thought it had departed to find neighborhoods exhibiting greater empathy.

I was wrong. Naida told me today, that she has seen the Mysterious Orb skulking about in the alleyway that leads to the garages in back of the homes. She described both its demeanor and location as “slinking about.” It stayed about one week moving from one unmemorable location to another until It disappeared again a few days ago.

While writing this, I thought it would be a good idea to leash up the dog for his evening constitutional and have a look around to see if the whereabouts or fate of the Orb could be discerned. And so, Boo-boo and I departed the house and set out on our search. We explored the front lawns of the nearby houses, the street and the alleyway behind the homes. Not a trace of the Orb could be found. So, I decided to ford on off the property and into the narrow woods that covered the small hill separating Campus Commons from Howe Avenue.

Suddenly, as I brushed by some waist-high bushes, I glanced down to my right and discovered the Orb hiding behind a bush from which, I was sure, it could furtively observe the alleyways and garages. It was not more than a one or more quick steps from bustling Howe Avenue.

What to make of all this: Is it not as it declared, “A fountain?” Does it secretly travel about the neighborhood spying (Remember there are at least two human “spies” living in the subdivision.) Is someone, screwing with my mind by rolling that cement ball around — gaslighting me? Why? Who? Is Naida playing a joke on me? Is this a Christmas present from an alien presence on earth? Is the dog thinking of telling me something I should know? Too many questions, too little time.

 
I did it.

 

I mentioned in my last post that my frenetic repostings of two of my blogs on Facebook and other sites were intended as an effort to beat my annual number of views received by each. Well, by Christmas Eve I did it. I am proud of me. It makes me about as happy as learning that the Mysterious Orb still exists and is prowling about outside our door tonight. I can rest until the New Year.

 
A Christmas Story.

 

On the day before Christmas, I did not leave the house until the evening. That was OK. It was a grey day with a light drizzle and I was not feeling well. I did not sleep much during the night and the side effects of the cancer treatment played havoc with my body and emotions. I spoke with HRM on FaceTime. He had just finished a day of snowboarding at a ski-resort above Lago Maggiore. He looked well and happy.
9064540080286
HRM at Lago Maggiore

Nikki was there also. He looked pleased but seems to have put on weight. HRM is soon off to England to spend a few days with Adrian’s family after which they will all fly with Nikki to NYC to welcome in the new year among the Times Square throngs.

I rested in the afternoon. Then I prepared to attend the Christmas Eve party with Naida’s children and their families. Naida spent part of the day practicing Christmas Carols on the piano. I concluded that meant we would spend a good part of the evening caroling.

I expected the side effects of the treatment will limit my eating, drinking, and singing. I hoped it would not put a damper on anyone’s enjoyment.

I remember, one night in Sicily about 50 years ago following the local automobile races. The participants and their families gathered at a large farmhouse among the vineyards. The old grandmother, who was bedridden, insisted her bed be dragged from the bedroom and positioned in the center of the salon. She spent the evening lying there telling all who would listen that she was happy everyone was having such an enjoyable time singing and dancing and how much suffering her various maladies caused her. It was all great fun. Later my girlfriend and I slipped out of the house and walked through the vineyards until the music and the laughter drifting out from the open windows spread across the hills adding their silver sounds to the silver light of the full moon. There we spent the rest of the night until the first light of sunrise brightened the eastern skies somewhere beyond Mt. Etna.

Shortly before we were to leave for the Christmas party, I gave Naida the present I had bought her, a large brown leather purse. She was distressed that the present she had gotten for me had not arrived yet. She rushed out to the mailbox to see if there was a late night delivery.

She returned carrying a large box and happily announced, “It arrived!” She then left me to open the box, took the purse and went upstairs to prepare herself to leave for the party.

I set about cutting away through the tough cellophane tape that bound the box closed. After a while, I had severed enough of them to be able to rip open the box. In it, I found the box filled with dried flowers. Lot’s of dried flowers.

Now, I have learned in the past few months that Naida’s thought processes could be quite subtle and so I decided not to jump to any conclusions and spent the next 15 or 20 minutes attempting to unravel the conundrum of symbols and goals that this gift, one of love I was sure, represented.

I couldn’t help but recall the 0’Henry story of the down and out Babbitts of NY. She who cut off her magnificent hair to purchase a watch fob on which he could hang his grandfathers pocket watch of which he was so proud and he in turn selling that same watch in order to buy her a glorious baret to display in her hair.

Eventually, I gave up trying to rationalize my way through the puzzle and carried the box upstairs. There I found Naida in distress. “I cannot find the purse,” she exclaimed. “It just disappeared.” Now, this was not some little purse, but one of those giant ones that someone could carry everything they own in it, even a small car. We searched everywhere. No purse.

I then showed her the box of dried flowers. “No,” she said, “it’s supposed to be a Hat. The winter hat you wanted, not dried flowers.”

We eventually reasoned that the dried flowers belong to one of the medical students living with us who plans to wed in a month or so. “But,” she said, “where’s your hat?”

We drove to her daughter’s house. Along the way, I noticed Naida appeared distressed. I asked her what was that matter. “I must be losing my mind,” she replied. “First, your present to me disappears and then there is no hat.”

The party was pleasant. We sang carols. Naida and Jenifer, her daughter, played the piano. I was a little too ill to fully enjoy it all.
img_5941
Caroling in Sacramento.

After returning home, I climbed the steps to the bedroom with the dog trailing along behind. He scooted over to his bed and sat in that proud erect way dogs sometimes do. He stared a slightly arrogant stare into my eyes. “Oh ho,” I thought, “what do we have here?” I looked closer and saw a small patch of brown leather peeking up from a fold in the dog blanket. He glanced were I looked. He knew he was caught out. He tried to resume his arrogant look but could only manage shame. “The game is up.”

Apparently, while Naida was otherwise occupied, he dragged the leather purse to the dog bed — the purse being about the same size as the dog bed. He carefully tucked it in the bottom so it lay perfectly flat. He then dragged over one of his blankets and tucked that in so that the purse was well hidden.

I called Naida to come upstairs. When she arrived, I told her the story and added, “See you are not going senile at all.” She seemed dubious. “Look at it this way,” I said. “We solved not one but two mysteries. We had a good time at the party. We discovered our dog to be a master criminal and we came away with a great story. What better Christmas could one have.”

She remained dubious. “Yes,” she drawled, “but what about your hat.”

 

An old year ends

 

On Christmas night at the early hour of 6PM, I slipped into bed, sipped from my well-steeped cup of cannabis tea and opened my computer. My thought was to make some sort of plan for the remaining six days of the year. Not so much a to-do list as a muddle-about-file which I could, now and then, dip into without too much difficulty in order to pass the time while waiting for this arbitrary section of my life to dribble on to the next.

The first thing to pass through my mind was Joyce’s opening line to Ulysses: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
mulligan-portrait-color
Buck Mulligan

I haven’t the slightest idea why it did. Except perhaps, to encourage me to contemplate why I would consider ending the year pondering the opening line of Ulysses. Perhaps, having not yet consumed enough tea made such reflection worthwhile. Maybe, my subconscious was attempting to jump-start the evening’s descent into irrelevancy.

The second item to suggest itself as a subject worth ruminating on was the first thing I read on my computer after opening it. Under a heading entitled notable events on history on this day, I read: “1194 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Romans [Germany], Sicily and Jerusalem, born in Lesi, Italy.”

That was something I felt was of little more consequence. Or, at least, I generally considered that someone who in his time was referred to as “Stupor Mundi” (Wonder of the World) was someone of greater consequence than “stately plump Buck Mulligan” and his shaving utensils — Then again perhaps not. Fredrick later in life was also referred to as “The Anti-Christ.” Nevertheless, I still felt, someone who held suzerainty over most of Medieval Europe, was of more consequence than a fictional med-student with flamboyant grooming habits — Then again, perhaps not.
federico_ambasciatori-alkamil-dipinto
Nicholas II

“Stupor Mundi” was clearly not fictional, although his adventures and the stories about him rival that of any character inhabiting the world of fiction. As to why I would consider intentionally including the contemplation of one or the other or both into my remaining six day’s of 2018, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because it is a mystery requiring a solution and that always pleases one’s consciousness. Perhaps it does not. Maybe it just has something to do with the cannabis. Take chess, for example, it has always appealed to me as a worthwhile way to cut two or three hours from one’s life. On the other hand, cocaine, cannabis and a host of other things, I think would do so as well, without requiring your consciousness to leap from the chair in which it had been dozing and actually exert itself entertaining you.

 
Strange Dream.

 

Since upping my medications in order to mitigate the side effects of my treatments, my dreams at night have become even stranger than usual. Last night, I found myself, a much younger man, well-dressed wandering about my dream New York. My dream NY is not at all like the NY I remember. It is a real estate development made up of large buildings in vibrant colors and streets dark, bleak, and dank. In this dream, a young man I knew, for some reason lost to the vagaries of dream memories, had been killed by the authorities. People were organizing to protest the death. The mayor and his advisers swore to put down the disturbance with maximum force.

I put myself front and center swearing to risk body and health in protest. As the police and soldiers could be heard approaching, everyone ran away leaving me alone to confront them. Alas, the police never arrived.

I then noticed another group of protestors forming. This one, well equipped with PR people. Again I put my body at the forefront willing to risk it in the name of the right and good. Again as the military closed in, the protestor’s disappeared, leaving me alone once more. After about four more events like this, I decided, I was not going to give up body and soul in the name of the right and good or anything resembling it, so I went home to take a nap and ponder the imponderables of life.

 

The Cat in the Hat.

 

The day after Christmas my hat arrived. It is red. It has a fluffy band around the outside. It might be a women’s hat or a pimp’s. I love it.

Here I am, the cat in the red hat standing by the wreath made by Naida from detritus from the Enchanted Forest
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The Cat, The Hat, The Wreath, and The Hibiscus.

 
From Christmas to the New Year

 

The first day after Christmas I spent with Dick, exchanging presents, picking up mail, and discussing Governor-elect Newsom’s plans for California and the possibility of his running for President in 2020. Hayden left me a much needed back-scratcher shaped like a stretching cat. Dick gave me a fine elegant sweater.

The next day, George and Maryanne arrived bringing gifts. George brought me a brown winter hat and Mary a bitching shirt. Here I am, The cat in the red hat on the top of the brown hat wearing the bitching shirt.

img_2113
The Cat, the Red Hat, The Brown Hat, The Bitching Shirt and a Pair of Sunglasses.

We ate dinner together that evening a Zocalo’s a local Mexican restaurant the Naida and I have grown to like.

img_2109

 

That night I had one of my most difficult dreams. It was a large space and horrible full of screaming, anguish, and fury. I awoke in terror and was afraid to return to sleep so I sat up. Eventually, I fell asleep. The next dream was different. Somehow I was high on a mountain on the border between Russia and some other country, I do not know which. I was living with a pleasant family of one ethnic group and a few steps away across the border lived a poverty-stricken family from the ethnic group they had been at war with for generations. We opened a cantina to service travelers. The other tribe settled down opened shops and prospered. I built a house overlooking the valley.

 
Capital Park.

 
The next day, my sister, George, Naida and I traveled into downtown Sacramento to walk about one of my favorite parks, Capital Park. During the five years or so I have been living in the Sacramento area, I would try to spend at least day or so a month at that park. I usually would have my breakfast (Coffee and Bagel with cream cheese) at a restaurant called Chicory on the corner of eleventh in a building in which I had my office when I worked in Sacramento. It was a nice attractive place with a back room with a fireplace and a few comfortable armchairs. I also liked to see what new and strange tattoos the baristas had acquired that month. After breakfast, I would cross the street and spend the rest of the day walking around the park or sitting motionless staring at a particular monument or tree.

Surprisingly, of all the Vietnam War Memorials that sprung up following that regrettable conflict, I appreciate that one in Capitol Park the most. As a work of art, it is crabbed and inward looking. That is its beauty, I think. It is a monument to neither the heroism nor the misery of war but its banality, the burden of which is first borne by the troops at the front and then later by those back home who eventually wonder what it was all for. There are no necessary wars only mistakes and aggression.

img_5965

We spent a good deal of time at the Fireman’s Memorial where George could pay homage to firemen friends who he served with and who died in service. Then George and Mary left, back to Mendocino, and Naida and I returned to the Enchanted Forest. There we will wait out the end of this year.

 
More Dreams

One night, while waiting for the year to wind down, I had a dream.

Well, first let me tell you about what I think about dreams. No, I do not buy what those strangely obsessed physicians living in and around Vienna thought during the dawning years of the Twentieth Century nor their descendants. To me, a dream is simply non-quantum reality. Time and place are simply mathematical abstractions that impinge upon our neurons. In dreams, however, time and place and most of what we think we know during our waking life are not necessary for existence. They are only arbitrary elements.

Ah… well, enough — the dreams:

I first found myself on an airplane flying into an airport somewhere. We were not too far away, perhaps beginning our descent when I heard the shout. “Kill the Jews.” It came over the speaker and a few passengers jumped from their seats joining in. “The Nazis are at it again,” I thought and hunkered down hoping it was only an idiotic cowardly far-right group like the “Proud Boys” trying to stir things up and then running away. Then the killing started. Somehow, I found myself in the first class section. There were a few Jewish businessmen there. They asked me to help them escape. As we landed I led them crawling through what seemed to be the airplane’s engines into the large terminal. As we ran through the Terminal, others were running to escape the slaughter also. Those too old or weak would slip through a door opening into a side room off the endless corridors hoping their pursuers would not check those rooms. I felt, no I knew, in the dream, in my dream, they were going to die. I did not know who they were. They seem like everyone, every skin shade, and every dress type. I remember a Muslim dressed in a thobe, Bisht and kaffiyeh seeking refuge in one of those rooms. There were all sorts of people. “Why was I helping only the rich escape?” Then I awoke. I sat up and drifted back to sleep. The next four or five dreams all took place on public transportation, ships, planes, and trains. Always, the same — the screaming would start, then the killing. I would rush to the windows and break them. Then, I would help those trying to escape by pushing them through.

Then they would come. Large blood-shot eyes, slightly pointy teeth, they looked like Gollum although not as handsome. They ignored me like I was a wooden post. All they wanted was to get at their victims. I would put myself in their way as best I could in an effort to keep them away from their intended victims. I continued to push their prey through the windows. Often shards of glass would slice into their flesh as I pushed them. I never knew if any survived.

After each dream, I would sit up. Not because I feared to return to the dream but because I simply wanted to restore my strength. I did not know why I had to do what I was doing or whether it did any good or not, but I had to do it.

Then, in my last dream of the night, everything changed. No more was I the blind beast compelled to do what I thought was right but having no idea if it was or was not. In this dream interestingly enough, Goggin appeared. Like in real life whenever he appears, it was interesting — this time to my great surprise, I became rich — six million dollars rich. But as usual, it was not what I wanted, far from it. Perhaps I will tell you about it next year.

This mostly dismal year is now ending. Strangely, I think it is one of the best years of my life, even though it began in sorrow. I watched HRM grow from boy to teetering on manhood, discovered in Naida the love I always craved, laughed with joy of life with my Sister Maryanne and my Brother-in-law — no, George I consider my real brother, there is nothing In-law that I feel about him — My friends, Peter, Barrie, Dick, Ruth (my conscience) and yes Terry too and so many others who had been there for me when I most needed them and least expected them to be.

Tomorrow The New Year 2019 begins. To anyone who reads this far and to all those I send it to whether they want it of not, may next year last all year for you all.

One of the pleasures of being old is that now whatever foolish things I say, write or do are usually ascribed to senility or the wisdom of the aged.

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Doug Jones writes:

 

“On Boxing Day [December 26] 2004, a tsunami resulting from a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake killed about 250,000 people around the Indian Ocean. This was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. The Indian Ocean tsunami illustrated a major theme on this blog: the importance of catastrophe in human history, and in the history of life and the universe”

“Earthquakes are one example of a phenomenon following a power law statistical distribution. The frequency of earthquakes drops off as an exponential function of their magnitude, so that on a logarithmic scale, the magnitude-frequency relationship looks linear. This is known as the Gutenberg-Ritter relation. (The deviation from linearity in the upper left part of the chart below may reflect measurement error, with a lot of tiny earthquakes not being detected.)”
pasted graphic
“Power law distributions are found in many other contexts, for example, in the frequency of wars versus their magnitude [as measured by the number of war deaths]. A power law distribution is very different from the more familiar bell-curve Gaussian normal distribution: extreme “black swan” events that are astronomically unlikely under a normal distribution may happen at an appreciable frequency under a power law distribution. Depending on the exponent, a power law distribution may not have a well-defined variance or even a well-defined mean.”

“For a technical discussion of why small scale processes sometimes aggregate to generate normally distributed outcomes, and other times aggregate to produce power law distributions, here’s an article on The common patterns of nature. A take home lesson — not always covered in introductory treatments of statistics and probability theory — is that catastrophes and extreme outcomes can be an expectable part of the natural order.”

“Finally, Steven Pinker and Nichlas Nassim Taleb have been squabbling about the implications of all this for the probability of a peaceful future. Here’s a level-headed review. And here are a couple of blog posts from me about why the bloody early twentieth century was maybe more than just a run of bad luck.”
https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/

By the way, the competing (or, a) theory is the famous and infamous “Bell Curve.” That placing the data points on a two vector grid events tend to congregate forming a hump or hill and if repeated, a wave. In other words, predicting the future of historical events on a two-axis graph produces either an inclined plane or a bell curve. Why this is so, I have no Idea. Maybe someday, I will find out. Right now, however, I couldn’t give a fig. (Actually, there is very little I would not give for a good fig.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

The United States is now presented with the age age-old bind of politics: Is the leader an ideologue or just an idiot?

 

 

B. Today’s Poem:
All though not my favorite for here in this post, I am aware that this year’s Winter Solstice Holiday’s Season is coming rapidly to a close. So, I decided to post this evening’s poem, In A Drear-Nighted December by John Keats. Unlike many of the other poets practicing in the poetic world, Keats could have done better.

In A Drear-Nighted December

1.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

2.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

3.
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
John Keats

 

 

C. Adventures with Hayden:

 

Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is more than one heart unruled, on the walled shore and the new-caulked ships, watching the set faces on the ships grow more and more distant from the set faces upon the land, until the last sight of sails and gilded weather vanes is gone over the curve of the sea, and the day grows bright to noon.”

Saunders, Graydon. The Human Dress. Tallwoods Books.

Categories: October through December 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Pops 0007. (August 20, 2018)

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The weekend passed by quickly — mostly waiting for the biopsy on Tuesday. Not having an automobile (it is in the shop having its crumpled fender and other maladies attended too), cuts down on my activities. I had to turn down an assignment from the Scooter gang over the weekend. So, I read and went on walks through the Enchanted Forest. I get all the angst and despair I can handle from social media and television news.

Well, well, — I went for my biopsy yesterday and for the third time during my age of physical deterioration, the doctor, in this case wielding his sonogram, could find no reason for a biopsy. In other words, he could not find a mass in which a malicious deranged cell would hide. I do not know whether or not to be embarrassed after spending a month or so in gloomy speculation and endlessly disclosing my fears to all who would listen — I guess at my age I should not be embarrassed by anything I do anymore. Anyway, I know it is, at best, only a temporary reprieve.

Onward and upward as Terry always advises. Lack of a car limits my mobility and the awful air pollution from the fires restrict my walks and swimming. So, I sit at home, watch Naida work on her memoir, read as much junk as I can, and nap a lot. So goes the winter of my life. It’s not too bad. I could still be sitting around wondering about the results of my medical tests.

This evening was spent watching Janette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movies. The last movie ended with the Canadian Mountie and the Opera star in an embrace and singing:

You belong to me
I belong to you.

We then rolled up the stairs to bed singing, one with a professionally trained voice and the other with a throat ruined by radiation therapy:

When I’m calling you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ooh
If you answer too, ooh , etc.

That means that I offer my love to you
To be your own
If you refuse me, I will be blue
And waiting all alone

But, if when you hear
My love call, ringing clear, ooh, etc.
And I hear you’re
Answering a call so dear, ooh, etc.

Then I will know
That our love will be true

What could be better than that?

The next day I swam in the Nepenthe pool. It is my first time swimming in over a month. It felt good. While sitting by the pool a woman got out of her car and started banging on the gate demanding to get into the pool area. Eventually, she somehow got in. She was hugely pregnant. She took off her shoes, then jumped, fully clothed, into the pool, swam its length, got out, picked up her shoes, returned to her car and drove away. I did not realize it was that hot out. Life is wonderfully surprising even when you are doing nothing but staring at the leaves of some trees.

Today I spent the morning watching Doris Day — Gordon MacRae movies. Listening to them sing “Tea for Two” is an experience I rank somewhere between being drowned in a vat of medicinal cannabis or smothered in meringue.

Later I went to the pool and fell asleep in the shade only to be awakened by the sound of ten-year-olds doing flips into the water. I did my laps while trying to determine if I was in a good mood or bad. Gave up and went home.

My sister Maryann and her husband George dropped by on their way back to Mendocino from Nevada City where they were making arrangements for the wedding of their son Brendan to Ashley his intended. A few weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of mine from my childhood who I haven’t seen in almost seventy years, Snookie Salerno, now lives in Nevada City. I have been told he never returns calls from his old friends (Would you return a call to someone who called you Snookie?). He did not return my calls. So I left him a message inviting him to the wedding.

Anyway, I took Mary and George on a walk around the Enchanted Forest and along the banks of the river. Mary seems well recovered from her bout with breast cancer. I am well recovered from my bout of hypochondria.

I did not watch movies of any sort this evening. Instead, I went to bed at 8PM. Tomorrow the automobile comes out of the shop. I am relieved. I now can drive aimlessly about. I like that better than “tea for two.” Check that, it depends on whom I am having tea with and what kind of tea.

Picked up the car. Have not yet driven it aimlessly but have driven it between the shop and the house with great determination to avoid another crushed fender.

The days pass on — driving the scooter gang around, walking through the Enchanted Forest, swimming in the pools, singing show tunes, drinking margaritas, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, petting the dog, crying over Aretha Franklin, watching old movies, laughing at old jokes — the wheel turns on. And then there is this:

“For the past 2,700 years we have been evolving through the ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025. The end of the Yuga will inevitably be followed by cataclysmic earth changes and civilization collapses,…”
Bibhu Dev Misra

This morning when I left the house I ran into one of the TURKEY GANGS right beyond the front door. Yes, the Enchanted Forest is plagued by several TURKEY GANGS. They lounge along the pathways, mumbling threatening sounds and forcing residents to walk around them. They litter the sidewalks and don’t clean up after they leave. They terrorize small children and small dogs. They are huge, hulking, ugly creatures often four feet tall or more. Something needs to be done about them by the HOA. Perhaps once a year say in November we could have a community Thanksgiving Party and eat a few. They are so large they could each feed several families.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, isn’t that the celebration of a group of immigrants saved by the citizens of the area who in turn demonstrated their gratitude by slaughtering their rescuers and taking their land? Instead of Thanksgivings Day shouldn’t the day be called something like Ingratitude Day?
On Saturday morning, we attended then weekly Saturday Morning Coffee put on by the Nepenthe HOA in the Enchanted Forest. The usual group had assembled. I had a lively discussion with the 93-year-old architect about our various maladies. Later the woman that seems to run these things announced she was not going to run the “Sock Hop” in September (don’t ask — I think it is some attempt at replication of an ancient mating ritual that everyone believes existed and they experienced but it didn’t and they only imagined it. Ask yourself, “Did you ever attend a ‘sock Hop?’” And if you did, did you think the experience was such that you would want to replicate it in your old age?). This set off a flurry of whispers. Later I learned that there is a conflict between the Nepenthe HOA and the nine other HOAs over the running of the social events. I did not understand the politics involved but agreed with Naida who leaned over and said to me sotto voce, “It seems pretty silly to argue over who gets the right to volunteer.”

There are three Age of Declines:

The first Age of Decline is now. It is the first time in history that a majority of a generation lived to old age together, declined together and ultimately will die together. As usual for the past 80 years or so, we have, for better or worse, been the pacesetters.

The second type of Age of Decline is the end of an era. In our case, the end of the greatest Golden Age the world has ever seen.

The third version of an Age of Decline is experienced by all of us that live beyond 75 or so years. Not only do our bodies begin to undergo the inevitable physical and mental failures faced by all biologic creatures who have exceeded their use by date, but also our functions in society at large begin to dissipate. Oh yes, some of us keep on working and striving — and good for those of us who do. Others of us can sometimes pass through a brief period where we are consulted (not very seriously) or honored (weekly or monthly visits) by younger relatives or friends. But really for most of us, we ultimately gather in homes for the elderly or periodically meet with other elderly friends where we attempt to create a small replica of the society that we strode through in our past life — much like the members of the Nepenthe morning coffee, complete with its politics, petty annoyances, and amusements. Lucky are those of us who instead fall in love and experience a decline no less painful but much more blissful.

For the second time in a little over a month, I have been attacked by a Russian Bot. Three critical comments from the same person appeared on my Blog, Trenz Pruca’s Journal — https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/. This is unusual because almost no one ever comments on my blog. Two of the comments were general criticisms of my writing competence in two of my blog posts. A criticism I believe fully justified. In the third comment, this time on my blog about Vladimir Putin (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/petrillos-commentary-who-is-vladimir-putin-and-why-is-he-an-enemy-of-the-united-states/. Also, reproduced below.),

He not only objects to my writing style but included an example of how it could be improved by changing my criticism to a justification of Putin’s behavior. I am so proud to have been noticed.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
WHO IS VLADIMIR PUTIN AND WHY IS HE AN ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES:
It is important to explore the motivations of Vladimir Putin in order to understand much of the actions and policies of the Kremlin in the past few years.

First, as is true with most revolutions, the inevitable reaction reinstitute the structures of the old regime but with new titles (but often the same slogans). In Russia, the new oligarchs, like the Soviet Commissars before them, have decorated their dachas and palaces like the Tsars from whom they have taken them. The old prisons have been reopened and refilled with the enemies of the state. The so-called secret services have been restored and given new names.

The Tsar’s rentier aristocracy was replaced by the industrial Commissars. The Commissars have now been replaced by a financial/commercial oligarchy. True, the Commissars were governmental employees at the time they acquired their wealth and power and the oligarchs are not, but like the landed aristocrats they still owe their wealth to the Tsar in the Kremlin and they cross him at their peril.

Second, Putin is not only the head of the Russian government but the chief and undoubtedly the largest oligarch of them all.

Third, Putin is a Russian, a child of the Rodina, and as such the humiliation of Soviet Russia by the American commercial and military empire is a stain on its honor that any patriot would work tirelessly to remove.

Fourth, he was a low-level bureaucrat in the Soviet secret service (KGB) trained in espionage. As such, one would assume he is more comfortable with the strategies of subversion that those of military conquest.

Finally, he is extremely popular in Russia (and in many other areas of the world). Ninety-six percent of Russians approved of his military initiatives in Ukraine; ninety-five percent believed that America was goading Kiev to persecute ethnic Russians in that country. Ninety-two percent believed the same situation existed in Russian enclaves in the Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

In brief, we have in Vladimir Putin an exceedingly popular, short (he is a tiny but exceptionally athletic man), greedy, subversive nationalist with a special antipathy for the United States.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

‘’ When the long nights would come long ago, the people of this and another village would gather together every night sitting beside the fire or wherever they could find room in the house. Many a device they would resort to shorten the night. The man who had a long tale, or the man who had the shorter tales (eachtraithe), used to be telling them. At that time people used to go earning their pay working in County Limerick, County Tipperary and County Cork, and many a tale they had when they would return, everyone with his own story so that you would not notice the night passing. Often the cock would crow before you would think of going home.”
Leabhar Sheáin Í Chonaill (1948)

 

MEMORIES OF BLASKET ISLAND, IRELAND.

FieldSchoolImage2

 
40 years or so ago, I traveled to Great Blasket Island off the Western Coast of Ireland. This bleak and barren island located off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula housed between 100 to 150 souls until the 1940s when the Irish Government in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility removed the remaining twenty-two of them and resettled them in other parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the islanders objected to the relocation nor made any attempt to return.

I ferried there from mainland Ireland in one of those tar-covered little leather boats that used to be common in the western part of the country.
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Drying the boats. The village is in the background.

 

I met the ferry-man in the pub that stands on the bluff overlooking Blasket and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. For a few dollars, I persuaded him to row me there. There was no regular motor ferry to the island then but there is now.

Although the passage from the mainland to the islands is no more than a couple of miles, during much of the year when the Island was inhabited, it was too stormy and impassable for the small traditional row boats available at the time to make the crossing. As a result, the residents of Blasket were often marooned and had to live exclusively on what they could glean there on the island.

Even though the sea was relatively calm during my trip, the waves and currents in the straight threw the little boat around quite a bit causing the oarsman to strain at the oars and me to question the rationale for my visit.
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A traditional leather covered boat (a type of coracle) approaching Blasket Island. I took a boat like this on my trip.

 

We landed on a tiny bit of dressed stone surrounded on three sides by large rocks making an anchorage about ten feet or so wide. We tied up to a rusty and corroded iron ring.

I left the ferry-man there with a promise to return in an hour and a half.

In the only habitable place on the lee of the island lay a tiny village in ruins and deserted. I climbed through the ruins and into the abandoned cottage — Peig’s cottage. It was my reason for the trip — to pay homage Peig Sayers.

Peig was an old woman and seanchai (storyteller) who when approached by a representative of the Irish Folklore Commission and asked to write the story of her life on that forlorn island, did so. Much to the surprise of all, it became perhaps the greatest work of Gaelic prose literature.

The Book opens with the words:

I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge. I have experienced much ease and much hardship from the day I was born until this very day. Had I known in advance half, or even one-third, of what the future had in store for me, my heart wouldn’t have been as gay or as courageous it was in the beginning of my days.

 

In the evenings the people on the Island would gather in Peig’s cottage to listen to her stories. Seosamh Ó Dálaigh wrote the following about these sessions:

‘I wish I had the ability to describe the scene in Peig Sayers’s home in Dunquin on a winter’s night when the stage was set for the seanchaí’ ‘When the visitors arrived (for all gathered to the Sayers house when Peig was there to listen to her from supper-time till midnight) the chairs were moved back and the circle increased. News was swapped, and the news often gave the lead for the night’s subject, death, fairies, weather, crops.’ All was grist to the mill, the sayings of the dead and the doings of the living, and Peig, as she warmed to her subject, would illustrate it richly from her repertoire of verse, proverb and story…

Great artist and wise woman that she was, Peig would at once switch from gravity to gaiety, for she was a light-hearted woman, and her changes of mood and face were like the changes of running water. As she talked her hands would be working too; a little clap of the palms to cap a phrase, a flash of the thumb over the shoulder to mark a mystery, a hand hushed to mouth for mischief or whispered secrecy. ‘When the fun is at its height it is time to go,’ runs the Irish proverb; and when visitors went each night Peig would draw the ashes over the peat-embers to preserve the fire till morning, reciting her customary prayer: ‘I preserve the fire as Christ preserves all. Brigid at the two ends of the house, and Mary in the centre. The three angels and the three apostles who are highest in the Kingdom of Grace, guiding this house and its contents until day.’

 

Her home there on Blasket was now little more than rocks piled on one another for walls with more rocks added to make the roof (I understand it has been made into lodging for a small hostel now). Peig’s home contained a single room in which she spent most of her life.
IMG_20141020_192528_725
Peig in her cottage.

 

Beyond the village, exposed to the fierce winds off the Atlantic, the island was covered in a thick mat of furze, Irish gorse, and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath. When walking on it, although it supported my weight, it felt as though I was walking on a springy mattress.

There were no trees or bushes to be seen anywhere. I climbed part way down a steep incline towards the cliffs on the island’s north side where the residents would scramble down to pilfer the eggs of the shorebirds that nested there. I did not go further than perhaps 10 feet or so because the cliff quickly became much steeper. It was on those steep cliffs according to Peig that Blasket’s citizens often met their death trying to secure enough food to carry them through the winter storms.
blasket-island_1383770-fc009ff8
The North side of Blasket Island and the cliffs.

 

As hard as life was on Blasket, during the Irish persecutions and famines several mainland families settled on the island, “Because life was better there.”
Scan0011-21
A Better Life?

 

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Blasket was that Peig was not the only one from there who authored a Gaelic literary classic. Two others, Twenty Years a Growing and The Islandman, were written by Blasket natives also.

How hard was life on Blasket? Tomas O’Crohan in The Islandman wrote the following about his children:

“Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help us! The very first of them that we christened was only seven or eight years old when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they went as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to save the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me. Before long I lost him, too.”

the_great_blasket
Blasket Island Today.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

 

In his fascinating book In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, Alfred McCoy relates some facts about the collapse of the American education system that should give every American concern about what sort of a society we a leaving to our children.

In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tested 510,000 fifteen-year-olds in thirty-four developed nations, finding those in Shanghai came first in math, science, and reading, while those in Massachusetts, “A strong-performing U.S. state,” placed seventeenth in reading, twentieth in science, and twenty-seventh in math. The OECD also found that American students “have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as … interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems.” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rued these results as “a picture of educational stagnation.” The National Intelligence Council noted that the country’s educational advantage “has been cut in half in the past 30 years,” meaning that without major investments in schools Americans “will increasingly bring only mediocre skills to the workplace.”

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4973-4975). Haymarket Books.
After leading the world for decades in twenty-five-to thirty-four-year-olds with university degrees, the United States sank to twelfth place in 2012. That same year, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre forty-seventh among 144 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction. Two years later, its position slid to fifty-first.

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4978-4981). Haymarket Books.

A survey of some 150 major American universities in 2010 found that more than half of all graduate students in the sciences were foreigners: 70 percent in electrical engineering, 63 percent in computer science, and 52 percent in materials engineering.

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4982-4984).

 

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Lou Bronico on Top:

Something I received from my cousin Lou:

Letter to My Boss:

I have enjoyed working here these past several years. You have paid me very well and given me benefits beyond belief. Have 3-4 months off per year and a pension plan that will pay my salary till the day I die and then pay my estate one year salary death bonus and then continue to pay my spouse my salary with increases until he (or she) dies and a health plan that most people can only dream of having i.e. no deductible whatsoever.

Despite this, I plan to take the next 12-18 months to find a new position. During this time I will show up for work when it is convenient for me. In addition, I fully expect to draw my full salary and all the other perks associated with my current job.

Oh yes, if my search for this new job proves fruitless, I will be coming back with no loss in pay or status. Before you say anything, remember that you have no choice in this matter. I can, and I will do this.

Sincerely,

Every Senator or Congressman running for re-election

Are we stupid or what?

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

History: A few truths surrounded by a lot of little lies and one or two big ones.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“If there is one person a fanatic is predisposed to hate, it’s a moderate who is almost but not completely aligned with their program.”

Stross, Charles. Dark State: A Novel of the Merchant Princes Multiverse (Empire Games) (p. 343). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
FT_17.08.01_debt_interest_420px

 

Two interesting aspects of this chart:

1. In general, it shows that since the Reagan Administration, interest payments on the national debt as a percentage of GDP have generally risen during Republican administrations, while under the Democrats, it has usually fallen.

2. Trump has already sharply increased that percentage from what it was in the last few years of the Obama administration.
The relationship between interest payments on the federal debt and the nations GDP is perhaps the most critical relationship in the debate regarding the appropriate size of the Federal Debt. If the interest payments get too high then a nation generally has to raise taxes, reduce expenditures or modestly inflate the economy (usually by keeping interest rates low during a rising economy ) in order to retain its credit rating.

Raising taxes is problematical because those whose taxes should be raised are the same people who fund the election of those who would vote on the action.

Cutting expenditures has its problems also. There are really only three sources of governmental expenditures large enough to make a difference if cut, defense, social security, and Medicare. Cutting defense is problematical because defense funding also provides much of the income for those paying for the elections of those who would vote on the cuts while cutting the latter two would be unconscionable to anyone but elected Republicans.

Finally, moderate inflation by keeping interest rates low thereby reducing the value of the dollar also runs up against the opposition of those who fund the elections of those who would vote on any such approach. In this case, the creditor community, the banks, etc., who would oppose any approach that would make their loans less valuable in the future.

Until we find an alternative to the media-entertainment-financial control of the political system, the solution to the Republican policy of increasing the debt-payment problem while choosing the worst of the remedies will remain elusive.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Exodus #6 a Wall Sculpture by Bruce West.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Shadow 0007 (June 27, 2018)

“Putin covets. He wants what others have. And the taking of something from someone is the ultimate delectation.”

Matthews, Jason. Palace of Treason: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 2) (p. 110). Scribner.

 

REMEMBER, JULY 15 IS “NATIONAL BE A DORK DAY”

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIES PREPARATION FOR A VOYAGE.

In two days, I will fly off to Italy and stay there for about six weeks. On one hand, it is no big deal — you know, been there done that — although I hope to visit a few places I have not seen before. On the other hand, I have passed my do by date and the immortal stage hand’s sweaty fingers await the directors signal to draw the final curtain. — — Well, that is a little bit overdramatic. Actually, age tires most of us out. It certainly does me. Sometimes, watching the sunrise and the sunset seems to be a pretty cool experience and quite enough for me for that day and if I want to laugh or cry, a smartphone can do wonders for connecting with relatives and friends who live far away,

Just before I began writing this, I noticed an article entitled the Meaning of Life saved on my desktop for some long forgotten reason. It gives a brief discussion of what each major religion or philosophical school believes that meaning to be. I thought about what I had read and tried to figure out what it means to me. The best I could come up with is: if I feel good, then life is good and if I don’t feel so good, then it’s not so good.

I think that makes me an epicurean or a Monte Pythonian. The latter postulated the “Meaning of Life” that it is:

“Well, it’s nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

Hmm, I think I like that — the answer to any inquiry about what or who you are — “I am a Monty Pythonian.” Works for me.

The Saturday before departure, Naida and I attended the morning coffee held every Saturday by our section of the Enchanted Forest HOA. One of the women who seemed in charge announced the birthdays of those in attendance at the coffee and the deaths of those who were not. Another woman, several years older than I named Winnifred (Winnie), engaged me in conversation. I later learned she found me “interesting.” Perhaps, I can become a geriatric boy toy. I also had a spirited discussion with Naida, another woman and a retired teacher regarding the persecution of Native Americans, a subject the retired teacher will be lecturing on at something called The Renaissance Society, an adult education organization at the nearby university. Could I be becoming acculturated to the senior community of the Enchanted Forest? I can envision myself eventually becoming like some elderly elve strolling among the trees with the other ancient elves talking of shoes, ships, candlewax and whatever.

 

B. ACROSS THE LAND AND OVER THE SEA.
Travel may be annoying at times but almost always interesting. For example, while loading for my flight from NY to Milano, a little old lady (younger than me I think) struggled to put her exceedingly heavy suitcase in the overhead bin across the aisle from me. I jumped up and helped her stow it. She then went into the restroom. A young man wearing a NY Police Department tee shirt then came along and tried to get his luggage into the same bin in which the old lady had put her suitcase (there were plenty of other empty bins). He could not fit it in. Frustrated, he ripped the woman’s suitcase out of the bin and threw it on the floor. “Hey,” I said, “What the fuck do you think you are doing?” ( just so you will not confuse my action for senseless chivalry: One, I was still p.o.’d from the unpleasant twelve hours I had sat in the airport’s departure lounge and Two, it takes me only a few hours of being in NY to acculturate myself to its mores and manner of interpersonal colloquy). “I’m sitting here,” he said in Italian pointing to the seat directly under the bin. “The bin is mine. It has the same number,” he added this time indicating the row number. As we faced off, LOL emerged from the toilet, eyed her suitcase on the floor, quickly took in the prancing bulls locking horns and with an annoyed snort, hauled the suitcase off the floor, slammed it into an empty bin and took her seat next to mine. The young man and I glanced at one another and sheepishly returned to our seats never to look at one another again during the entire flight.

I arrived early morning in New York’s Kennedy Airport. I was listed standby for the flight to Milano. Unfortunately, the plane was overbooked so I had to wait twelve hours to be admitted into the departure area. During that time, I mostly sat and stared. I tried to eat a hot dog while I waited for my Mac and iPhone to recharge. As with the last two times, I tried to eat a hotdog, a piece lodged in my throat and I ended up spitting bits of the dog across the table. Instead of wondering whether I was going to die as I usually do, I wondered how embarrassed I was going to be. Not much as it turned out. I was back home in NY after all.

 
C. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN LOMBARDY OR MORE ACCURATELY THE LACK THEREOF.

I landed in Milano. Nikki met me there and immediately announced he was leaving the following morning for Thailand despite the fact that he urged me to travel early so that we could spend some time together. I said, “Tell me, Nikki, isn’t it true that as soon as SWAC heard we were going to spend some time together she told you to leave immediately because she needed you to deliver some cheese and salami to her bar in Thailand.” After a short period of prevaricating, he agreed that was pretty much what happened. As Vitorio pointed out a few days later when I told him the story, “Nikki’s mind turns to mush whenever he talks to the SWAC.” Despite this minor flaw, he remains one of my dearest friends and can make the dreariest of days delightful.

The next morning, following some delicious pastry at a local cafe bakery, I left for Sacile by train. I was not particularly unhappy. As I said, it is the annoyances that make travel interesting. On the other hand, I could just as well have stayed home and fallen down the stairs and get to enjoy the same experience without having to fly half-way around the world.

 

D.TAMAI AND SACILE — IN THE HEART OF THE VENETO.
IMG_4776

Tamai and Sacile sit on the fertile flat plains of the Veneto that lie just beneath the rise of the pre-Alps jutting into the sky

 
After a good night’s sleep and a breakfast of coffee and toast, I walked the half-mile or so into Tamai the small village that sits in the middle of the farm country it serves — Its church bell tower rising higher than anything else. The bell tower used to provide the farmworkers in the fields with the time, now it serves as the romantic focal point for this scenic northern Italian town in the Veneto.
IMG_4779

 

I walked past well-tended houses on their half an acre to acre lots, fruit trees and vegetable gardens co-existing with clipped lawns and florid flower gardens. Behind the houses stretched the farmland all a deep green with vineyards, corn, and alfalfa fields. The latter two secondary crops are grown to feed the meat and dairy products industry somewhere else in the Veneto.

It used to be that these farmlands were owned and worked on by those who lived in those nice well-maintained houses. With the aging of the farmers and changes in the industry, the fields were leased out or sold by the owners of those houses and are now farmed by industrial conglomerates whose offices are located in the big city financial centers. In the well-tended houses, many of the aging farmers still live. Their children, however, have gone to seek employment in those same financial centers. When I look around me I think of how well these communities would serve as ideal senior communities — but then again they already are.

I had coffee and a delicious pastry at the New Life Cafe one of the two cafes in the town. After an hour or so, I left and walked to the other cafe, the Central Tamai Bar, and had another coffee and pastry and then walked back to the farmhouse and took a nap. As I was falling asleep, I contemplated the benefits of traveling four days from where I can enjoy a comfortable nap any time I want, to someplace else where I do the same thing. I decided, it is much sweeter as a reward.

IMG_4718Pookie at the New Life Cafe in Tamai
That evening, Vittorio, Anita and I went to a cafe we often visit when I am in town. It is a place where musicians frequently congregate although there was no music that night as everyone was watching Croatia defeat the heavily favored team from Argentina in their World Cup match.
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Anita and Vittorio at the cafe.

A few days went by until Professor Hank (Hank Schwartz — “Black Henry” in English) and his wife, Camille, the couple I would be traveling with to Croatia and Calabria, arrived and met us at Lucia’s Le Petit Cafe (the happiest place on earth) for several morning glasses of Prosecco. Hank who is an economics professor at some college in New Jersey and staunch, if gentle, Republican and I had a lighthearted discussion of current American and Italian politics. Italy is going through a similar collapse of the body politic as the US (although they are more used to it). The North has succumbed to the argument of the radical right that they are being invaded by hoards of black people landing on their beaches (alas, building a wall would be impractical). They also have accepted the canard that the south of Italy receives an unfair amount of government handouts and its people are lazy and corrupt (corrupt perhaps, but lazy, no. Good corruption requires significant effort). I asked one man who was making this point how he would feel if the situation was reversed and the Veneto was destitute as it had been at times in the past. He said he was all for one part of the country assisting the other during a time of need, but in this case, it was too much.
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Camille, Lucia, Black Henry and Past Primetime Pookie.

That night we gathered at Teacher Brian’s house. There were four couples and me — Hank and his wife Camille, Vitorio and Anita, a pilot for Air Italy named Alessio and his girlfriend, and Brian and his wife who he met in Korea when he taught at the American Embassy there. We had a good time. For the first time in two years, I was able to drink too much (Prosecco, Grappa, a Japanese Grappa like drink, etc.)

The next day I strolled around Sacile, one of my favorite places on earth. They were having their once a month Flea market in the Town Square. I enjoyed rummaging around in Italian garbage as a change from rummaging through American garbage as I do at Denio’s in Roseville. Italians seem to like to throw out a lot of old coins and old letters. At Denio’s, the refuse is predominately toys, clothing and old tools.

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A view of Sacile

Later I went to professor Hank’s apartment where we planned our trip. First to Croatia for two days, then the long drive through Italy to Matera stopping two nights along the way. At one of the stops, we reserved rooms in a nice hotel high on a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples. Then off to Maratea on the Calabrian coast and spending the night at the Altamonte hotel where according to Hank they serve “the best Calabrian food in the world.” Then, the next morning, off to Cosenza where I stay the night before boarding the train for Sicily.
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A View of Sacile from Professor Hank’s apartment.

Today I learned I have a mouse that shares my room with me. I am staying in the family room in the basement of Vitorio’s house in Tamai. I sleep on a temporary cot that sits low to the floor. At eye level, to my left, as I lie on my bed is a bench. Periodically, the mouse scampers along the bench, stops to check on me, then satisfied that I am ok scurries back to wherever he came from.

During my morning walk today into Tamai and back, I took a path through the town I had not taken before. Although the town has no more than six or eight streets, I found it contained a surprisingly modern and well-equipped sports stadium. Following my morning coffee in the New Life Cafe and a prosecco at the Central, I returned to Vitorio’s for lunch where for the first time in my life I tasted fried chicken blood. It was not as bad as it sounds.

This morning, I awoke much earlier than I should. I laid in bed waiting for my friend the mouse to check up on me. I have named him Topo Tamai, the Mouse of Tamai. By the way, in case you are interested, Tamai refers to the containers or barns in which you store cow dung until it can be used as fertilizer. I guess you could call the town “Compost.” At least that is not as bad as Booger Hole, West Virginia or Toad Suck, Arkansas.

Vittorio and Anita provide care for his 94-year-old mother and his 83-year-old mentally retarded diabetic aunt. Both women are confined to wheelchairs but eat all meals with us. Every morning at about 7:30 Vitorio’s two sisters arrive like the Marines at Iwo Jima. They burst through the door, wash, dress and strap the two woman into their respective wheelchairs. Then they strip the beds, clean the rooms, deposit the women at the table for breakfast and are out of the house by 8 o’clock. I am impressed by their synchronized efficiency.

Tomorrow I leave for Verona and perhaps Bolzano before returning to Milano for four days. Then I come back here and set off for Croatia.

I left the house at about 9:30 this morning. It was beautiful outside — the temperature almost perfect, the mountains glistening like silver ingots lying on blue silk, the few clouds fleecy and pure white floated around the peaks, the fields a deep dark green and flowers everywhere. It was that beauty that makes you believe that if you had the choice of all the places in the world to be at that moment, you would choose here — for a few minutes at least, perhaps an hour or so. Pure beauty if held for more than a few minutes is a form of death or at least ennui.

I walked into Tamai. I stopped at the New Life this morning for coffee and a brioche. Instead of my morning prosecco at Central, I strolled along a different road, one that led out of town to the east. I soon came across a bridge over a pretty little stream. I walked along the banks of the stream through a copse of trees much larger than I had seen in the area before. Eventually, I came to another road and followed it back to Vitorio’s for lunch.
IMG_4784
Then, off to Verona.

 

E. A LITTLE BIT OF SNARK.
Verona the city of Romeo and Juliet, two dimwitted self-absorbed children living in a completely insane society. They should have been kept under lock and key instead of allowed to hang out under balconies looking for sex or prowling about at night getting into switchblade fights or rifling the medicine cabinet for drugs. Rather than “But soft, what light through younger window breaks,” Romeo could just as well have recited Hamlet’s palaver with old Yorick’s skull — “to die to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream.” Wasn’t that really the choice these pre-adolescent half-wits were given — to die or to sleep, to be or not to be?

 

F. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

As we all know, there has been a lot of public discussion about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In 2013, Jason Matthews, a recently retired CIA agent began publishing an international espionage thriller trilogy. Mathews was an officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate. Over a thirty-three-year career, he served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in the clandestine collection of national security intelligence, specializing in denied-area operations (e.g., Russia). Matthews conducted double agent recruitment operations against Soviet-East European, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean targets. As Chief in various CIA Stations, he collaborated with foreign partners in counterproliferation and counterterrorism operations.

His first book, Red Sparrow, was made into a recently released movie that caught the flavor of the book even if it did not quite follow its specific plot. One of the aspects of the book that the movie does not cover is Matthews’ deep analysis of and antipathy for Vladimir Putin, his goals and the government that he set up — a government Mathews considers not significantly different from what existed in Stalin’s time except that the Soviet Commissars have been replaced by the capitalist oligarchs. In the novel, one of Mathews’ characters states:

“The Rodina, sacred Motherland of black earth and endless sky, would have to endure a while longer, as the chain-wrapped corpse of the Soviet was exhumed, hauled dripping out of the swamp, and its heart was started again, and the old prisons were filled anew with men who did not see it their way.”

Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1) (p. 27). Scribner.

In 2015, still before the 2016 US election, Mathews published his second Novel Palace of Treason in which he further dissects the character and motivation of the autocrat that now runs the Kremlin. After the thwarting of a Putin initiative in Iran, Mathews explores the Russian leader’s popularity, motivations, and goals:

“Kakaya raznitsa, who cares,” thought Putin, flipping the folder closed and tossing it into an outbox of white Koelga marble. He didn’t give a shit; global imbalance, confusion, and chaos suited him and Russia just fine. Maybe this fire was the work of the Americans or the Israelis, or maybe those Persian babuiny, baboons, didn’t know how to handle uranium. Well, he had long since received the money from Tehran for the shipment, and “investors’ deposits” had been made—Govormarenko had already divvied up the euros. Never mind; when the Iranians were ready to rebuild, Russia would step up with equipment and expertise to assist. At à la carte prices.”

“And let them try to rile up the Caucasus—no chance, he had his domestic audience well in hand. Ninety-six percent of Russians approved of his recent military initiatives in Ukraine; ninety-five percent of them believed that America was goading fractious Kiev to persecute ethnic Russians in that country. Ninety-two percent believed—no, knew—that the same situation existed in Russian enclaves in the Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. Opportunities would present themselves. They always did.”

“He would keep an eye on the oligarchs. They were rumbling about their money troubles in the face of Western banking sanctions. Nothing a few corruption trials and prison sentences wouldn’t smooth out. Massive gas and oil deals with China, India, and Japan would take the teeth out of the sanctions soon enough. And he would continue to defame and stress the NATO weak-sister coalition. Conditions were right to shatter the Euro-Atlantic alliance once and for all, which would be redress for the dissolution of the USSR. With NATO razed to the ground, the Czech-Polish missile shield proposal would no longer be a worry.”

Matthews, Jason. Palace of Treason: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 2) (p. 468). Scribner.

It seems that with Putin’s success in affecting the US election and the suborning the American president he helped elect, the shattering the Euro-Atlantic alliance depicted in the novel as his obsession is exactly what Putin has accomplished in reality now three years later. Given his position in the CIA and the fact that the novels were reviewed and approved for publication by that agency, I suspect Mathews intended them to be more factual and cautionary than fictional and prescient. In other words, a warning that sadly went unheeded. Russia remains our enemy.

 

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

Recently, in discussions with several of my better educated conservative friends, I was told that there existed a Harvard conducted study that found that Faux News was the least biased of the mainstream media purveyors of news. I told them I found it hard to believe and if true it was an outlier to otherwise consistent findings of the exact opposite in almost all other studies. I suggested it should be treated as such an outlier and ignored. They did not agree.

Upon returning home, I decided to research this anomaly in my understanding (an indication that I lack things of any significance with which to occupy my time). I found the only outlets to reference such a study were a few conservative blogs (“conservative” being a charitable description on my part). So, I decided to go and read the source of the inference, the study itself. The study was conducted under the auspices of the Harvard Kennedy School and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy by a Professor Thomas E. Patterson. It certainly did not conclude what the conservative blogs said it did. .

What it did find was that since 1963 with the move of broadcast television to longer newscasts and moving picture based news, reporting of negative events (negative news) by media outlets increased. This is why, for example, automobile accidents (random acts of violence but good pictures) receive more press attention than random acts of kindness (no matter how hard the station may try to balance the coverage). The author of the report specifically warns against considering negative news as either biased or fake. The automobile accident in the example happened. It was not fake news. The reporting of it was not biased. The Trump stories themselves are not biased.

The report further points out that by far the greatest imbalance of negative over positive news occurred during Clinton’s presidency — greater than any other in modern history, although Trump is well on his way to exceeding that record. They do point out, however, that the media reported far more positive stories about Trump during the nomination process than it did about his competitors.

While Clinton complained bitterly that the press rarely included his administration’s defense of its actions and policies in the negative stories, that is not the case with Trump. In 65% of negative news stories about him, Trump himself was the featured speaker. Also, Republicans within and outside of the administration accounted for an unprecedented 80% of what newsmakers said about Trump’s presidency. Democrats had only 6% of the sound bites with protestors garnering a meager 3% more.

In general, Trump and his administration have had a much greater opportunity to tell his side of the story than most. For purposes of comparison, the study points out that unlike Trump and his supporters who accounted for the above 80% of the commentary, Muslims provided only 6% of the commentary on issues relating to Islam.

Faux News, clearly an outlier in terms of negative news about the president, reported more positive stories about Trump than the other outlets. It made up for its discrepancy in negative stories by finding very few good things to say about the public and Judicial response to Trump’s actions.

Still, the sheer volume of negative stories is approaching and undoubtedly will surpass that of Clinton. So what accounts for that? Perhaps the answer is contained In the words of the author of the report, “The early days of his presidency have been marked by far more missteps and miss-hits, often self-inflicted, than any presidency in memory, perhaps ever.”

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

I) There is a company, Dopamine Labs that provides tools to App developers to make any App more addictive or to reduce the desire to continue a behavior that is undesirable.
2)  According to the historian Strabo, within a few years of the (Roman Empire) occupation of Egypt, 120 Roman boats were sailing for India each year from the port of Myos Hormos on the Red Sea.
Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (pp. 15-16). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.  

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. The Most Significant Post You Will Never Read:
In his blog, Charlie Stross reproduces the keynote speech he gave at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress. The speech is, as he says,”polemical, intended to highlight the existence of a problem and spark a discussion, rather than a canned solution. After all, if the problem was easy to solve it wouldn’t be a problem, would it?”
Stross has some interesting insights into a few of the fundamental issues of our time such as what is AI and what is its role in the future of humanity. His oblique look at many of the issues raised from those questions alone is worth the read. For example, the following rumination about what he calls “very slow AIs,” modern corporations:
Corporations are cannibals; they consume one another. They are also hive superorganisms, like bees or ants. For their first century and a half, they relied entirely on human employees for their internal operation, although they are automating their business processes increasingly rapidly this century. Each human is only retained so long as they can perform their assigned tasks, and can be replaced with another human, much as the cells in our own bodies are functionally interchangeable (and a group of cells can, in extremis, often be replaced by a prosthesis). To some extent, corporations can be trained to service the personal desires of their chief executives, but even CEOs can be dispensed with if their activities damage the corporation, as Harvey Weinstein found out a couple of months ago.”
“Finally, our legal environment today has been tailored for the convenience of corporate persons, rather than human persons, to the point where our governments now mimic corporations in many of their internal structures.”
“The problem with corporations is that despite their overt goals—whether they make electric vehicles or beer or sell life insurance policies—they are all subject to instrumental convergence insofar as they all have a common implicit paperclip-maximizer goal: to generate revenue. If they don’t make money, they are eaten by a bigger predator or they go bust. Making money is an instrumental goal—it’s as vital to them as breathing is for us mammals, and without pursuing it they will fail to achieve their final goal, whatever it may be. Corporations generally pursue their instrumental goals—notably maximizing revenue—as a side-effect of the pursuit of their overt goal. But sometimes they try instead to manipulate the regulatory environment they operate in, to ensure that money flows towards them regardless.”
In his discussion, he maintains that regulation is the only tool available to prevent the instrumental convergence of corporations (the need for profit) and other, swifter AIs from behaving uncontrollably and running amok. Unfortunately, this same need will also impel them to seek to manipulate the regulatory agencies for advantage instead of competing within the system. To me, this implies the need for regulation that absolutely prohibits and prevents AIs whether slow moving or fast, from influencing the rulemaking that affects them — fat chance that.
Some time ago, in Trenz Pruca’s Journal, I published a brief post on Decentralized Autonomous Corporations (DAC) https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/the-inheritors/. DAC’s are corporations run “without any human involvement, under control of an incorruptible set of business rules.”
Like most corporations, they generally cannot be terminated except by the investors, often have more rights than ordinary citizens and cannot be imprisoned if they break the law. Their investors, shielded by law, are responsible only to the extent of their monetary investment for the actions of their creation. If therefore, Stross is correct that the AIs, whether fast or slow, are subject to uncontrollable instrumental convergence* what happens to us?
* Instrumental convergence — the act of implacably moving toward uniformity to the exclusion of or the consuming of all else. e.g., in the case of making a profit, ultimately to the exclusion of all conflicting goals. A form of institutional autism.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
The cradle of civilization lies not on the banks of any river or ocean but on the banks of the ancient so-called Silk Routes. For over two millennia the Silk Routes crossed the central Asian expanse along which flowed the worlds riches and nourished the great centers of civilization. The maritime trade routes across the Mediterranean were a lusty but modest imitation. Europe was an economic, political and technological backwater. Then suddenly in the Fifteenth Century along the east and west coasts of the vast Eurasian landmass, the beginnings of a vast nautical revolution was born. The nations of the East ultimately turned their back on its promise but in the West, vast oceanic trade routes grew to create new great commercial centers. The efficiency of oceangoing trade was so much greater than the land-based Silk Routes that the magnificent cities and civilizations that had grown up along it shriveled up and died.
C. Today’s Poem:

Medicate You

Resist your temptation to lie
By speaking of separation from God,

Otherwise,
We might have to medicate
You.

In the ocean
A lot goes on beneath your eyes.

Listen,
They have clinics there too
For the insane
Who persist in saying things like:

“I am independent from the
Sea,

God is not always around

Gently
Pressing against
My body.”

HAFIZ

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“If there is a Darwinian lesson to be extracted from the history of the 20th century, it is probably that the poor require constant protection from the ideologies of the overwealthy and underpigmented.”
Jonathan Marks, Anthropomics (http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/ )

 

 

 

TODAY’S PAINTING:

Pasted Graphic

Nude in Red by Roger Smith.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1202

Keep on Truckin…

 

 

 

Categories: April through June 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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