Posts Tagged With: Climate Change

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

 

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

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Back in Bangkok the monsoons seem to be ending, the skies are clearing and the temperature relatively moderate. I had dinner with Gary, Pui and their irrepressible four-year-old GJ in a pretty good restaurant on Soi 8 named Bek5.
IMG_0607_2

IMG_0610
GJ with an unnamed young lady.

On most days, after mornings at the health club followed by a massage at Gary’s Silk Spa on Soi 13, I have lunch at a tiny restaurant near my apartment followed by a brief walk until the heat gets to me.
IMG_0602
The restaurant on Soi Nana

IMG_0605
Soi Nana a short distance from my apartment.

IMG_0604
A nearby Klong (canal).

I then return to my apartment and nap the afternoon away while LM works on the knitted wool hats that she sells to tourists on the downtown sidewalks (or, more often than not, to me).
IMG_0611

Sometimes she wakes me up to model them.
IMG_0615

Nikki arrived in Bangkok for a two-day stay. He suggested dinner at a restaurant on the Chao Phraya River across from the Temple of Dawn. We took a taxi there with a driver who assured us he knew the way. After circling the Royal precincts, at least, four times and asking innumerable other taxi drivers and pedestrians, we figured out that he was hopelessly lost. We exited the taxi near the palace grounds, found our way to a hotel and asked for directions. The restaurant was just a few steps away down an alley we had passed several times. At least, we got to see the Palace and Wat Po lit up at night and the elaborate light displays in celebration of the Kings birthday.
IMG_0680
A street scene near the Palace parade grounds.

IMG_0720
Wat Po at night.

The restaurants were on a dock first used by the palace to receive construction materials and later by the British for their Imperial commercial ventures. There were two restaurants one slightly more upscale than the other. We chose the more modest establishment and were delighted with the view of the temple, the river, and the brightly lit dinner cruise boats drifting by.
IMG_0700
Nikki modeling his new knitted cap with the designer watching.

IMG_0702
A pink dinner cruise ship passing the Temple of Dawn.
Near our apartment there runs an elevated bicycle, motorbike and walking trail that extends from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center near Asoke, along a fetid canal and through the remnants of one of Bangkok’s legendary slums to peter out somewhere near Wireless Road not far from the American embassy. I like to walk along there early in the evening when it is cooler and sit by the lake at the convention center to watch the bikers or joggers pass by or walk above the ramshackle neighborhood observing the street life below.
IMG_0618
Homes along the Klong.

IMG_0623_5
Bicyclists in the park
IMG_0629
The lake at the Convention Center park.

IMG_0651
A view of Klong Toey slums.

IMG_0659
Another view.
Then, with my suitcase filled with this year’s consignment of knitted caps for Christmas gifts, I left Bangkok.

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

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

IMG_0743
After the party, we returned to Jason’s apartment where he insisted on filling me with vitamins, minerals, and other substances that he assured me would cure me of any sicknesses I may acquire, sharpen my mind, end athletes foot, lengthen my life and teach me how to play the piano. Convinced all it would do is kill me, I nevertheless swallowed it all confident that I was playing my assigned role in the eternal drama of parents giving up their lives for the happiness of their progeny. After this, my son and I discussed the mistakes we had made in our lives, offenses given and taken, whether libertarianism is superior to liberalism, the mastery of Stephan Curry and the plight of the 49rs. I awoke the next day at 3:20 in the afternoon to an empty apartment surprised that I was still alive or terrified that in life after death I was condemned to be confined eternally alone in the last place I had seen before expiring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

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

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

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

C. Today’s Poem:

Night of the Succubus — Rhyming Couplets

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

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

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

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

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_0554
A surprising image perched atop a bar near my apartment.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Pepe 0004 (October 24, 2015)

 

“Were traditions rational, they’d be procedures.”
Butcher, Jim. The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass. Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On my actual birthday, Dick and Hayden had a party for me featuring a chocolate birthday cake Hayden baked alEll by himself. It was delicious.
IMG_0361

The turkey gangs still stalk the neighborhood streets looking for trouble.
IMG_0365

Following our visit to the Reptile Show a few weeks back, HRM has been lobbying us to buy a Bearded Dragon lizard he intends to name “Puff.” So far, we have resisted his entreaties by requiring him to achieve behavioral standards we are confident he could never meet. And, if he does meet them, sharing the house with Puff the Bearded Dragon would be a small price to pay.

This is my favorite time of the year to swim in the health club’s pool. The air is as cool or cooler than the water. Much quicker than at other times, I move beyond consciousness into an endorphin high. (Endorphin High is a place for deprograming annoyingly happy people.)

I plan to depart for Bangkok on the 12th of November and return the 2nd week in December.

On the weekend, there was a book sale at the local library. In the free bin was a 1944 edition of the Tales of Edgar Allen Poe illustrated with those black and white woodcut prints that I used to hate so much as a kid but which I now love. I look forward to reading some of his lesser known tales like Mellonta Tauta, The Imp of the Perverse and The Unparalleled Adventures of Hans Pfaall.
IMG_0383_2
Woodcut from Ligela

My planning blog Urban Edginess ( https://planningimplementation.wordpress.com/) is now being followed by someone self-identifying as MASTER NECRO MEGA-DAMAGE RAPEFACE. In his blog, he pushes a book entitled “Behead All Satans” that I assume he has written. He describes it as “…a modern-day Mein Kampf, only funnier.” I am pleased I am finally getting noticed. Eddie Poe, eat your heart out.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Nomination Follies:

a. The Donald threatened to boycott the presidential debates hosted by CNBC because he did not want to make an opening statement explaining why he is running for President or stand on his feet insulting everyone for as long as he did for Fox News. CNBC capitulated, not wanting to lose the debates biggest comedy star.

Grim Carly insisted that The Donald and the Brain Surgeon, who also threatened not to appear, were not real candidates since real candidates like her will suffer any sort of humiliation in order to win. One wag opined that if Grim Carly really wanted to destroy Planned Parenthood she should get herself appointed CEO.

b. The Brain Surgeon raised the second highest haul of money among the candidates. Almost 75% of that haul went to pay for the cost of obtaining the money. After securing the loot, he promptly decided to leave campaigning for awhile and go on a book tour to sell his book explaining how he will run the country if he is elected. He promised to deal with our tax dollars with the same efficiency that he treats his campaign fundraising and the Federal Government with the same commitment that Caribou Barbie showed to the Government of Alaska. Most recently he told the nation that he no longer goes around stabbing people or beating them with a baseball bat. He refused, however, to agree not to do so if he becomes President.

The Brain Surgeon, according to one poll, is now leading the Republican field in Iowa. I understand he has secretly offered free lobotomies for anyone willing to vote for him. Most of those who were offered the deal responded that they did not need them.

c. Meanwhile on the Democrat side: The Green Mountain Socialist explained why we should be more like Denmark — that is, we should be a country of six million tall blond people with free college tuition and health care and a fondness for cheese, light beer and vacationing near the Mediterranean. Many people agree. On SNL Larry David gave an impression of Bernie that was so good that I am tempted to vote for David as a write-in candidate.

Joe “Smiler” Biden, who had not been running, decided not to run. He did, however, leave open the option to run for something somewhere at a time and place to be decided later.

Hillary, the Blond Dreadnaught, promised that she will not use a gun in her hunt for sound bites. She then, after suffering through an 11-hour hearing, shot the Republican members of the Benghazi Committee dead with a 45 she had hidden in her brassiere. The Republican National Committee accused her of not being truthful with the nation. She responded, she opposes the NRA but supports 2nd Amendment rights for hunting, especially for those hunting Republican elected officials. The remaining Republican members of the House decided that investigating Planned Parenthood would be safer.

Among the also-rans, Lincoln (Mr. Bean) Chafee assured the press that in the first few weeks of the presidency he will do whatever a lot of people seem to want him to do. About two weeks later Mr. Bean dropped out of the race because all 10 people who supported his candidacy were too embarrassed to show their faces in public. He said he wanted to concentrate on World Peace instead. Deadeye Jim Webb after shooting a terrorist at his fund-raiser shouted, “I bet that will get their attention.” When it didn’t, he dropped out of the Democratic primary to run as an Independent, or maybe a Whig or a Mugwump. Meanwhile, Martin (the Man) O’Malley took off his shirt to flex his muscles for the cameras. Later he played the guitar and sang a Taylor Swift tune on the View. None of them could explain why they were running in the first place, although The Man O’Malley said that now that the other two have dropped out, he will be better able to get out his message — whatever it is.

d. Among the Republican still running for some reason, the Lesser of the Lesser Bushes pointed out that 9/11 was a shining example of keeping America safe. His big brother M, in an attempt to help his struggling sibling out, announced he never liked The Munster. Meanwhile The Munster, plotting to end something or other, hides out somewhere in Alabama while Marco “Water Boy” Rubio told his wealthy contributors that he may or may not be for or against whatever. Finally, ex-Governor of New York Pataki — who unbeknownst to most of the world is also running for the Republican nomination — indicated that although in his opinion neither the Donald nor The Brain Surgeon were qualified to be president, if either of them win the nomination, he would probably vote for them rather than The Blond Dreadnaught despite her obvious qualification.

2. The Real Immigration Problem.

The real immigration problem facing the US is not the legal or illegal movement of humans across our borders (which by the way is decreasing). It is the invasion by viruses, bacteria, and disease-carrying parasites from the tropical and warmer sections of the globe to the more temperate areas, including the US. This migration is brought about by human-induced global warming (or if you do not believe humans are causing climate change, then the historical variation in climate caused by volcanos, sunspots and/or God). Whether it is dengue fever creeping into areas previously free of the disease or sand flea-born organisms causing human physical deformation, or insects, mold, and parasites that threaten our agriculture and forests or something else, they represent perhaps today’s greatest threat to our society. An economic and social threat to our nation that both the Defense Department and the CIA believes may be as great as, or even greater than, that posed by terrorists or armed invasion. Unfortunately, neither political party has addressed this menace.

Simply stopping further global warming is not sufficient. Global temperatures have already climbed enough to allow these organisms to relocate across our borders or to travel beyond their previous boundaries. Even if we take all the necessary steps to halt climate change right now, the best estimates have the global temperature rising another degree or two Celsius. These organisms have begun their migrations and its magnitude is sure to increase. The clock is ticking.

C. BOOK REPORT:

Peter and Barrie Grenell gave me a number of books for my birthday. One of which, 50 Shades of Grey, I explained that although I appreciated the thought behind the gift, I would not read — not because I am averse to deviant sex or even enslaving your sex partner but since the male protagonist is a billionaire, I felt I could not relate. The perverse fantasies of a retiree on Social Security are far less grandiose and focus more on the capacity to function than the ability to compel.

I have however read two of the other books so far.

The first was a fantasy novel by a first-time author Bill O’Malley entitled Rook. It concerns a secret British governmental agency dedicated to countering supernatural threats to the Country. Since it deals with the activities of a governmental agency, a lot of the book has to do with the foibles of bureaucracy. Its chief protagonist is an engaging and highly competent bureaucrat. Unfortunately, she no longer exists. Her body is inhabited by a woman with no memory who must operate on notes left to her by her body’s prior occupant. Like many first novels, its inventiveness is not entirely matched by its style or cohesion.
The second book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, is a more conventional fantasy based on traditional Polish fairy tales. It features a damsel in a tower. But, imagine instead of Rapunzel, the Beauty and the Beast are locked therein except that the Beast is a handsome asexual wizard with a Pygmalion complex. It is a delightful book for those who enjoy reading novels directed at post-pubescent adolescent girls. It is wonderfully well written as one would expect of an experienced novelist based in Manhattan who could just as well have written for The New Yorker. I loved it immensely.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“Many people assume that dissent and the demand for reform are the first step toward revolution. They are mistaken. My study of history shows pretty generally that revolutions do not come from dissent. They come from a failure to reform, which leads to breakdown. It is quite true that misguided reforms which fail to attack real problems may also result in breakdown. But dissent, and reform responding to dissent do not lead to revolution. They lead away from it.”
Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

C. Today’s Poem:

Where is the world we roved, Ned Bunn?
Hollows thereof lay rich in shade
By voyagers old inviolate thrown
Ere Paul Pry cruised with Pelf and Trade.
To us old lads some thoughts come home
Who roamed a world young lads no more shall
roam.
Herman Melville, excerpt from To Ned.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The very wealthy have little need for state-provided education or health care; they have every reason to support cuts in Medicare and to fight any increase in taxes. They have even less reason to support health insurance for everyone, or to worry about the low quality of public schools that plagues much of the country. They will oppose any regulation of banks that restricts profits, even if it helps those who cannot cover their mortgages or protects the public against predatory lending, deceptive advertising, or even a repetition of the financial crash.

To worry about these consequences of extreme inequality has nothing to do with being envious of the rich and everything to do with the fear that rapidly growing top incomes are a threat to the wellbeing of everyone else.”
Angus Deaton, winner Nobel Prize for Economics 2015.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

9e4bef_4675ed058d7e432eb49cef286cd23de1.jpg_srb_p_745_419_75_22_0.50_1.20_0
This woman is a completely computer generated image. Virtual reality indistinguishable from real life is imminent.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 JoJo 0004 (June 9, 2015)

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

Happy Birthday Good/Bad David

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VENETO:

Back in Sacile and Tamai:

Following my return from Venice, I awaited news whether HRM would be joining me here. On June 2 he arrived in Milan. I was very disappointed when I heard that he would not be coming to Sacile before I left for Rome. So, I moved my departure date up to June 5. Sadly I realized I probably would not see him again this summer.

On the other hand, my son Jason, through the formidable efforts of his wife Hiromi, finally notified me that he will be able to join me on this trip. That made me happy.

In the meantime, I spent my days roaming around the farm or walking in the mornings to Tamai about two miles away for coffee and a brioche.
IMG_20150601_091724_779
Vittorio plows his fields

IMG_20150601_092449_862
The farm. Barely visible in the haze, Mt. Cavallo rises in the background about 6000 feet above the flood plain, hiding the Dolomite and the Alps from view. From its slopes on clear days, one can see Venice and Trieste.

Some barnyard humor: Hens lay eggs. Roosters become dinner.

Vittorio once told me that Tamai was named after the sheds in which the local farmers dumped their cow feces to be reused as fertilizer. You may amuse yourself, as I have, thinking up ways to translate Tamai into English. My favorite, Cowpattyton.
IMG_20150601_105844_260
The cafe at which I enjoy my espresso and brioche and the Tamai clock tower in the background, tall enough for all the farmers in the area to see the time from their fields or hear the bells.

In the evenings, I joined Vittorio and his family for dinner. I have forgotten what daily meals in extended families were like; full of talk and noise, lots of arguments, some laughter and bits of unintentional cruelty. The food was always enjoyable and hardy and the wine mellow. I missed the presence of Vittorio’s father who died about a year ago. He would not consider the meal ended without a healthy dose of grappa.

Often I sat on the porch dozing or watching the intellectually challenged sister endlessly sweep the tile pathways that Vittorio laboriously installed the last time I was here.
IMG_20150530_101840_871

One evening I joined Vittorio for band practice in the nearby Town of Porcia. He plays Tuba in the Porcia Symphonic Marching Band (not its real name). I enjoyed myself immensely.
IMG_20150601_211301_693

Another evening we traveled to Pordenone, a somewhat larger city and the administrative center of the area. Vittorio disgustedly told me that the town of about 60,000 has over 400 lawyers. They were having a town wide antique sale that evening with booths lining the streets in the center of town. As we walked from booth to booth, I stopped at one specializing in antique sword canes. I used to collect walking sticks. I picked up some of the more interesting ones to examine more closely, then regretfully put them back down because I no longer could afford such extravagances.

On June 2 the holiday celebrating the foundation of the Italian Republic, Vittorio, dressed in his band uniform, invited me to join him in Pordenone to listen to the political speeches and occasional band music. I declined and instead spent the day wandering about Sacile taking photographs of things I have photographed before and a few I haven’t.
IMG_20150602_150616_894
One scene I had not photographed before.

IMG_20150602_101128_840
And one that I have.

IMG_20150602_143648_973
Where I had pizza and of course, prosecco.

While sitting outdoors in one of the cafe’s in the piazza, a cheeky pigeon landed on my table and boldly stared me in the eye. It then arrogantly strutted, as only a pigeon can, across the table. After looking into my eye once more as if challenging me to stop it, it dipped its beak into my espresso and flew off. I sat there staring at the cup wondering if I were enough of an environmentalist to view this as an opportunity to mystically bond with one of nature’s creatures and drink the rest of the coffee. I decided, in agreement with Bill Yeates, that I was not and left to continue my exploration of the city.
IMG_20150602_101236_043
The piazza with the cafe on the near left where my espresso was attacked by the pigeon.

One blissful evening while wandering through Sacile, I happened on a concert in the piazza. The Trieste Percussion Group, led by composer-director Fabian Perez Tedesco, performed a number of interesting pieces. They were fine musicians. One piece, performed by three drummers got everyone’s blood racing.
IMG_20150604_210527_850

Thursdays were market days in Sacile. The streets of the town were covered in stalls selling just about everything. I would linger by those selling flowers, cheese, fruit or leather enjoying the color and aroma.

IMG_20150528_090202_877IMG_20150528_090420_088_2IMG_20150605_113118_103

After shopping and completing our tour of the stalls, we would visit our favorite bar/cafes for coffee, prosecco and whatever before returning home to Tamai.

There are three bar/cafe’s in Sacile that I along with Vittorio and Anita frequent; Lucia’s with the happy Prosecco; Nadia’s near the piazza where the young man with the Elephant Boy’s disease can sometimes be found. Despite his facial deformity, it seems to me that when he speaks his voice is magnificently beautiful and angelic. He sounds so compassionate and humble that people gather around for the sheer pleasure of listening to him. He also owns the most spectacular tricked out Moto Guzzi I have ever seen. I did not see him this trip and Vittorio indicated that he had not seen him around in a while.

The third cafe is Maria’s. It is always open. From daybreak to about midnight every day, Maria is there behind the bar. That day, when I asked her if she served lunch, she brought me some wonderful chicken croquettes and local wild mushrooms that she had prepared for her family and which I washed down with two glasses of prosecco. She did not charge me for the meal. One evening I was at the cafe drinking some pear juice when Maria confided how much she likes the music of Queen.
IMG_20150530_111327_317
Vittorio, some of the regulars and I sit and smile in front of Maria’s cafe.

Another afternoon Vittorio pointed to a man who drops by Maria’s every day and sits in the bench by the window drinking wine and reading the newspaper. Vittorio said he was 99 years old and has been following this routine for many years now. He does not even wear glasses.

Like most of the bars and cafes, Maria’s has an electronic slot machine at which some of the local pensioners spend all their money within the first few days after receiving their checks and spend the rest of the month cadging drinks from their friends. Vittorio told me that when he asked a few why they did this when their pension money would allow them to live well in a low-cost jurisdiction like Thailand, they usually respond with something like, “Ah yes, I know, but this is home and this is what I choose to do and where I want to stay.”

In addition to Professor Hank, another of my American friends here is Brian the Teacher. He is the science teacher for the high school students and the American army base. He grew up in South Dakota somewhere near the Good/Bad David.

I love the towns, Vittorio and his family and the people I meet at the three cafes.

Across the street from Maria’s, behind a hedge of sweet smelling honeysuckle, there is a large palazzo originally owned by a man, now passed away, who most likely made his money manipulating the government (he may have started as a plumber or perhaps a farmer or a plastic fabricator). His wife I understand, now old and leaning toward infirm, lives there alone. Sometimes when I sit at the small table outside of Maria’s and look up at the palazzo I speculate whether or not she ever stands at the window looking down at us with our glasses of wine in hand laughing and talking and wonders if that life she had convinced herself was so much superior to that of her childhood friends, really was.
IMG_20150602_133820_356

And suddenly it was time to leave.

B. Book Report:

Although I am traveling, I still manage to put in time reading novels. Recently I read Arturo Perez-Reverte’s latest. Perez-Reverte whose taut but lush adventure and mystery novels generally take place in Spain during its long sad decline from world empire until the old order was finally snuffed out by the armies of Napoleon. His series of books, featuring the melancholy but indomitable soldier and peerless swordsman Captain Alatriste, are classics.

The Siege, as its name implies, takes place during the interminable multi-year siege of Cadiz where the armies of Napoleon and his brother Joseph, the imposed King of Spain, had chased the government of the tattered empire and its inconsistent allies, the English. Cadiz, however still had access to the sea and many of its merchants, smugglers and privateers flourished even while the bombs daily rained down on parts of the city. The plot revolves around the attempts by the brutal and corrupt Chief of Police to solve a series of exceedingly vicious murders.

Unfortunately, Perez-Reverte introduces a sub-plot, a bodice ripper straight out of Danielle Steele — A romance between the dashing but crude and dangerous, curly haired, handsome and muscular captain of a privateer, Pepe Lupo (Joe Wolf) and his employer, the refined, learned, capable, aristocratic, accomplished and almost beautiful owner of one of the city’s premier shipping companies, Lolita Palma. Lolita, virginal from to tip of her leather boots to the top of her lace mantilla, unfortunately is 32 years old and unmarried. In the Cadiz of that time, at 32 she hovered between the twilight of fuckable and the onset spinsterhood. Perez-Reverte, damn him, shamelessly introduces a scene where Joe confronts Lolita at an elegant ball, causing her to snap open her fan and rapidly cool down the rising warmth of a blush.

“At least,” I thought, “he does not have the poor woman wet her drawers.” Alas, not more than a couple of dozen pages later, as Joe Wolf’s cutter heads off on another venture in legalized piracy, the still virginal Lolita, standing behind the crenellations of the tower above her Palacio and staring at the corsair’s ship as it disappears over the horizon, does just that. Arturo Perez-Reverte, you should be ashamed of yourself

Nevertheless,
Pookie says, “check it out.”

“…all things have their allotted time in the suicidal order of things— in life, and in its inexorable outcome, death.”
Perez-Reverte, Arturo. The Siege: A Novel (p. 358). Random House Publishing Group.

Note: Reading this book makes me wonder if getting involved in the shithole that was Spain at that time was not as great a mistake for Napoleon as his march into Russia. It is usually the inability of empires to know their bounds that bring them to ruin. I wonder if that was the genius of Augustus Caesar; to recognize there were limits to expansion of empire beyond the need to establish secure boundaries. It probably enabled the Roman Empire to survive for another 1000 years until the thugs of the Fourth Crusade finally put it out of its misery.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Will history repeat itself?

“In the west with which we are concerned here, there was a climate change after A.D. 200, marked, it would seem, by a retreat of the polar icecap and the polar area of high pressures; this allowed the prevailing westerly winds and rains to move northward so that they passed over the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia, with great growth of forest in all northern Europe, and with greatly reduced rainfall in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and east of the Caspian Sea.

In the same period, war and disease resulted in a decrease of population of up to 60 per cent in Europe or in the Roman empire from about 200 to after 800, that is to say over six hundred or more years. Careful studies of the population of the Roman empire seem to indicate that its population fell from about 70 million persons at the time of Christ to about 50 million in 300. The wars, migrations, spread of plagues, and abandonment of much family life, including the spread of chastity for religious reasons and of sexual perversions for other reasons, all contributed to this decrease. This had a very adverse influence on economic production as well as on defense, especially when it was combined, after 200, by a flight from the cities to the rural areas, and a movement of economic activities toward self-sufficiency.

One of the chief characteristics of an economic depression is a reduction in roundabout modes of production by a decrease in investment, although not necessarily in savings, along with a reduction in the specialization of production and exchange of products. The links in any chain of activity from the original producer to the final consumer are reduced in number; individuals retreat from very specialized activities to more general ones; the use of exchange and of money decreases.

All of these changes are to be found in weapons systems and in defense, where we find a similar tendency to fall back on the simpler, less complex, and more general forms of weapons, tactics, and organizational arrangements, including, for example, the belief that the same man should produce food and fight (peasant militia) or a reduction of defense to a single weapon or only two. We may not notice these military consequences when the depression is brief, as the world depression of 1929-1940, but these effects do appear when such an economic collapse continues for centuries, in a dark age.

The effects of such a change are also important on the non-material aspects of the society, where we find a tendency for people to turn toward a more personal and existential life, with emphasis on day-to-day interpersonal activities, decreasing emphasis on planning for the future in this secular world, and a decrease in abstract thinking and generalizations, but instead, a great emotional and intellectual emphasis on a few symbols and words. Life tends to polarize into almost total absorption in momentary empirical activity, with intellectual life reduced to a few large symbols.”
From Weapons Systems and Political Stability (1976) by Carroll Quigley.

It appears that many of these things are occurring again today except for the population reductions, although in Western Europe and English-speaking North America immigration is all that is keeping those areas from experiencing a precipitous population decline.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Crises like climate change, food sufficiency and water availability probably cannot be resolved if human population continues to increase. Hydrocarbon emissions, food consumption and water use are not increasing on a per capita basis anywhere near rate of growth in the total use of those resources. The direct approach to dealing with population growth has been to provide greater access to birth control. This is a good thing and should be continued. Still, despite decades of trying, the growth of human population continues out of control. The only successful population control other than war, famine and plague has been the liberation and education of women. Wherever women are free and informed, rates of population growth decline.”
Trenz Pruca

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

Some people are like Slinkies … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

*Paraprosdokian was not the name of a Governor of California.

D. Today’s Poem:

Watching blue mold of bread grow,
Birds fly, cocks crow,
Autumn leaves come falling by,
How many days before I die?

(As one wag said after reading this poem, “The sooner, the better.”)

E. A Skype message from The Old Sailor in Bangkok

“I have been drunk now for over two weeks
Passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I’ve got to stop wishin’, got to go fishin’
I’m down to rock bottom again.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Capt. Coast 0004 (April 24. 2015)

 
“There’s nothing more dangerous than to give an American hope.”
Caldwell, Ian. The Fifth Gospel: A Novel (p. 103). Simon & Schuster.
In Memory of the Armenian Genocide — 1915:
Pasted Graphic 6
Armenian Women Crucified During the Genocide*

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S SLIGHTLY MEMORABLE OVERNIGHT ADVENTURE:

On Wednesday, I left the golden hills for the Bay Area to meet with the trustee of some coastal property in order to advise him about options available to the trust. We met for lunch in a building that survived the ’06 earthquake. The building was the home of a men’s club established in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.
IMG_20150415_151648_137
Club membership includes the captains of industry and commerce in the area. About 50 years ago many doctors and dentists were also allowed to join, as well as some Italian-Americans. I recall that when I was growing up the emphasis was exclusively on the word before the hyphen. Then, through the efforts of some of the least ethical and most dourly aggressive and greedy members of our community, some of us gained enough wealth that American began to gain prominence in our minds and in the minds of many of those exclusively pale hyphenated Americans whose ancestry did not include the word Native.

I remember when the darkness was bleached from my soul and I simply could call myself an American and look down in sadness at the dark souls of members of other hyphenated communities who had not yet received the miracle of the Blessed Bleach. I remember fondly that day when I noticed that my skin had gotten two shades lighter than it was the day before

In all likelihood, there are only one or two members of the club that are Democrats. On the other hand, most of the staff are.

I learned that many of the members also belong to an organization called the Greco-Roman Dentists’ Fishing Society (truly, it was organized by the Greek and Italian dentist in the club). They gather once a year somewhere in the northeastern part of the state for a weekend of fishing and other things.

Since I was to sleep that night in one of the club’s guest rooms, I ate dinner there and met a few of members. One guy was referred to at the “Corn King,” another owned a string of radio stations. He was forced to sell because Rush Limbaugh was not pulling in the listeners like he used to. I had a pleasant conversation with a man whose parents came from Genoa. Like many of the club members, he had a few vacation homes. One was on the beach in the Italian Riviera.

I met the manager of the club. He used to manage the well-known men’s club in Sacramento. When I worked in that city, I received some minor notoriety by refusing to attend meetings and conferences there because of their policy on women members. Of course, I would periodically slip in there for lunch. My moral standards permit minor acts of hypocrisy and one or two large ones now and then.

All the governors that I was familiar with had been members and used the clubs facilities extensively — except Jerry Brown who refused to step foot into the place. Apparently, Governor Arnold used to impress the club members by carrying a large marble chess table from room to room. The members were not so thrilled when the same immigrant governor placed armed guards at the elevator and prevented the members from using the floors where he lounged about — relaxing, I assume, between feats of strength. The members told the muscled one that, if he ever did that again, he would be publicly thrown out of the club.

That night after dinner we played poker. I also thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the recent diagnosis clearing me of lung cancer by smoking a cigar. At the table with me were the Corn King, the Media Lord, a dentist, a retired gynecologist and a few others whose professions I did not know.

Now, as a rule, I do not like gambling and avoid it whenever possible. It was one of my father’s most appalling vices. However, when I do play poker, I have a few rules:

1. It is always preferable for the other players to believe you do not know what you are doing.
2. Fold early and fold often. Unless by the first bet you know you have the best hand on the table, fold. Hoping to improve your hand is as worthless as drawing to an inside straight.
3. Never raise someone else’s bet.
4. If the game chosen by the dealer allows wild cards, quietly fold before the first bet.
5. Never forget that it is not how much you win that counts but how little you lose.

The retired gynecologist was the big winner followed by the Corn King. I was the only other winner.

That night I spent in the club’s guest room. For some reason, I was unable to sleep well and woke up muzzy. After breakfast, I headed back to the golden hills. Because I was so out of it, I kept taking the wrong turns and ended up in Stockton by way of the Delta. Normally I would enjoy a ride through the Delta, but not today. I was lost. This being California I knew that as long as you do not drive around in circles you will eventually cross a freeway. And so I did, except the on-ramp was closed for construction. So I continued east and eventually found another freeway and wound my way home, where I immediately went to bed and slept the rest of the day.

The weather is warm enough now in EDH to begin wearing the $2 shirts of many colors that I bought at the flea market. It makes me happy. I enjoy looking in the mirror at myself dressed in my new shirts.
IMG_20150416_195004_283
Another weekend slid by — breakfast in Roseville, a trip to Denio’s, a flag football game, one or two books, a lot of naps and, of course, a lot of time to feel sorry for myself — then it was Monday. Two days gone from the 3000 or so the actuaries say that an average man of my age has left to live.

The pool at the health-club was closed this weekend for annual maintenance. Perhaps that explains the depression gnawing at the edges of my consciousness.
__________________________________________
During the past few days the weather has cooled and I have come down with a cold so I spend most of my day in bed. This more likely explains the malaise I mistook for depression.

The photograph at the top of this page shames me. Given the nature and extent of the suffering going on in the world, here I sit (SOS) complaining about feeling bad because I have a runny nose or the pool is closed.
__________________________________________
The weather continues cool and the skies overcast. While I wait for my cold to pass, I spend most of my days puttering around the house. I have even taken to watching television to pass the time. I watched Rambo III. In it the honest and brave Americans befriend the engaging, non-Muslim, soon to be Taliban, noble natives in Afghanistan and slaughter the gross and evil Russians who for no apparent reason have been torturing and killing the peace loving Afghanis especially their non-combatant women and children. A few years later in the movie of life, it is the Americans who get to portray the Russians in the sequel and slaughter their erstwhile allies, the murderous, suddenly Muslim Taliban. The question, I asked myself was who got to play John Rambo?
_________________________________________
Speaking of glorious wars and martial memories, EDH is planning to build a large memorial park to celebrate, not those who have given their lives but the military as a whole. In it will be large memorials to, the Viet Nam War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Cold War, the War on Terror (but not the War on Drugs or Christmas) with seemingly smaller memorials commemorating WWI and WWII. No mention or memory is made of The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, or the Civil War or the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War or any other American imperialist military victories. I guess the good citizens of EDH are secret Anti-America radicals ironically seeking to celebrate wars we lost rather than those we won. I assume, however, if I complain vigorously enough I could get them to include memorials to the wars against Grenada or Panama.
_____________________________________________
As long as I’ve begun to rant I may as well get this off my chest. No matter what you may think of Hillary Clinton — the Devil’s Handmaid or the patron Saint of Feminism (there does not seem to be a middle ground) — don’t you think it odd that the speculation, even if true, that she somehow gave special consideration to the rich in order to take their money to give to the poor is somehow worse than the fact that almost every political critic of her alleged actions including those currently running for the presidency has also taken money from the rich, bragged about it, given them special consideration, but kept the money for themselves.

Also as to the Russian uranium deal in specific, besides it having to have been approved by many independent governmental entities other than the State Department, isn’t it odd that those in Congress complaining about this sale of American uranium assets to Russia never publicly objected to it at the time, even though they presumably knew or should have known all about it.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

A few months ago I wrote a series of posts here in T&T in which I pointed out that the current turmoil in the Near-East is, in many ways, a replication of events 1400 years ago when, following the drying up of the grasslands, some Arab pastoralists adopted an ideology (Islam) encouraging them to invade lands of the more productive societies nearby, take over their wealth and overthrow the ideologies and governments that controlled those lands.

According to Scientific American’s article regarding the Defense Department’s 2014 review of the effect of climate change on the area:

“Drying and drought in Syria from 2006 to 2011–the worst on record there–destroyed agricCulture, causing many farm families to migrate to cities. The influx added to social stresses already created by refugees pouring in from the war in Iraq, explains Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who co-authored the study. The drought also pushed up food prices, aggravating poverty. “We’re not saying the drought caused the war,” Seager said. “We’re saying that added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict. And a drought of that severity was made much more likely by the ongoing human-driven drying of that region.”

Arable land in the area has been drastically reduced over the past 20 years and expected to continue to decrease. Population, on the other hand, has exploded and estimated to double over the next two decades.

It appears more and more apparent that the immediate goals of the modern Arab insurgents (ISIS, Al Qaeda and so on) is, as it was in the Seventh Century, to capture the wealth of the richer societies that control the littoral areas of the Near-East (Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Israel, Yemen and the like) and replace the ideologies of those countries with their own.

It is no Arab Spring but it well may be the beginning of an Arab Winter.

Yemen, a country much in the news recently, is a key in the insurgents strategy. It has the second largest population on the Arabian Peninsula, dominates the southern entrance to the Red Sea and if controlled by the insurgents, forces the oil sheikdoms to face threats on two fronts.

The insurgents in Yemen have toppled the government and appear to be on their way to subduing the entire country. The Saudis responded with air strikes but shied away from commitment of troops. Without troops on the ground, they may impede but not halt the insurgency. Unfortunately, heavily militarized societies that spend a lot on military hardware have only too often proven incapable of successfully engaging in armed combat with a highly motivated adversary. American or other Western nations’ involvement with “boots on the ground” may defeat the insurgents but not the insurgency. I suspect some of the oil sheikdoms now are considering payment of “protection” in the form economic support for ISIS activities in Syria/Iraq in return for temporary relief from attack. This is the same strategy used 1400 years ago. It did not work then and it will not work now. Eventual adoption of the ideology, however, did preserve their wealth and power.

Of the three major non-Arab or non-Sunni regimes on the periphery, Turkey, Iran and Israel, none of them sees ISIS as a significant threat to its physical integrity. All of them see political and economic gains in the prolongation of the conflict and all three would be pleased if the oil sheikdoms find themselves preoccupied and under stress.

(It should be pointed out, the particular form of Islamic terrorism and ideology practiced by ISIS and others appears to be lacking [or at least, weak] in most non-Arab Muslim countries except perhaps Iran.)

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

A few years ago I traveled to New York City for some reason. I arrived in NY on the A train. After a few days, I left it by taking the A train again to Far Rockaway. “Far Rockaway.” It sounds exotic. One could almost imagine emerging from the subway onto a sandy beach by clear blue waters — perhaps there is a boatload of buccaneers waiting offshore to attack. One does not usually associate NY with broad sandy beaches. Actually, it is one of those few major cities with large beaches within its city limits, like Rio. True Rockaway Beach, Jones Beach and Coney Island do not quite conger up the same images in one’s mind as Copacabana or Ipanema, (or even Venice Beach in LA) but they do have their own quirky and gritty charm. In the summer, those beaches were packed with beach-goers and sunbathers like subway cars during rush hour.

When the train emerged from the tunnel and into the sunlight over a section of outer Brooklyn or Queens (I never could remember which it was out here near JFK) we rode above the rows of brick attached homes and trees, lots of them, and passed Aqueduct Raceway. I left the A train at Howard Beach and boarded the AirTrain, taking it the last mile or so to the terminal at JFK.

Boarding the car with me were two New Yorkers dressed in SF Forty-niners shirts on their way to SF to see the Niners play the Giants. One of them was a large pear-shaped man with a pencil thin mustache and wearing a Joe Montana shirt. He announced to everyone in a very loud voice that he was a Niner and Montana fan for all his life no matter what his friends and coworkers thought about it. In an accent that could only be from Brooklyn, he told several of the other passengers that he was a scraper, someone who scraps the paint off bridges in preparation for repainting and that this was only the second air flight he had ever taken.

So while listening to the two of them express their excitement and their plans about what they wanted to see when they get to SF (Fisherman’s Wharf and the Crookedest Street), I pleasantly passed the time until we arrived at the terminal where I boarded the plane and left NYC behind.

The Niners lost that game.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“Reich, a 42-year-old professor of law at Yale, is concerned with the mutual interpenetration of public and private power which constitutes the American way of life today and determines, within constantly narrowing limits, how resources are used, how we live, and what we hear, eat, wear, believe, or do. This nexus of anonymous and irresponsible power, which Galbraith called “the New Industrial State” is called by Reich “the Corporate State,” both unfortunate terms because the chief feature of this monstrous system, emphasized by both writers, is not public authority but a fusion of public and private power in which the private portion is by far the more significant part. The combination brainwashes all of us, influencing our outlook on the world by mobilizing social pressures and organizational structures to coerce our behavior and responses in directions which are increasingly destructive.”
Carroll Quigley. Review of Greening of America by Charles A. Reich.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“Whenever my kids made disparaging remarks about labor unions, I politely informed them that hundreds and hundreds of people DIED for the rights they take for granted today — child labor laws, minimum wage laws, mine safety regs [which are roundly ignored even today, since the fines are a pittance], job safety regs and laws, and on and on.

Millennials ought to study the goddamned history of this country and see just what “rights” they enjoy today came at a horrific price over many many years of suffering. The early 1900s were an especially violent time, when union organizers and strikers were clubbed by thugs hired by corporate owners, whether it was UMW miners, or Teamsters being beaten and killed, or UFWA grape pickers working for slave wages in horrendous living and working conditions, the short-handled hoe and pesticides just being two of the many horrors.

When the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged, “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” they were committing treason for which they could have been hanged.

Could you imagine wealthy white men in America today, pledging THEIR fortunes for the benefit of common people and for doing the right thing?”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“In America today. you can make more money inventing a new conspiracy theory than you can by curing cancer.”

D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

(Paraprosdokians are found in the darkest places of the mind right next to the root cellar where puns are kept.)

E. Today’s Poem:

From childhood’s hour
I have not been
As others were;
I have not seen
As others saw;
I could not bring
My passions from
A common spring.

From the same source
I have not taken
My sorrow;
I could not awaken
My heart to joy
At the same tone;
And all I loved,
I loved alone.
—EDGAR ALLAN POE, “ALONE.” (excerpt)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A little mixing of genes never hurt the species.”
Naida West

In the late 1950s when I was President of the Catholic Interracial Council, all sides rushed to assure that equality did not include sexual relations or marriage between the races. At a conference of the major civil rights organizations at the time sponsored by CIC, I gave the welcoming address in which I said:

“We can never achieve true equality, if one of the central features of what it means to be human, the love between two people, forever remains segregated. Racial harmony would reign in America if everyone had a spouse of a different color and a Jewish mother.”

 

TODAY’S CHART:
TeachersNugget

As usual, with graphs of this type, it confuses more than it explains. It would be more informative if it also included student performance by country. According to the OCED, the top performing students come from Korea, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand and Austria. Among the poorer performing students are those from USA, Mexico, Greece, and Spain. Those countries not listed above include Canada, China and Poland among the best and among the worst Brazil and Russia.

Based upon the above, neither teacher hours worked nor relative pay appear to be very determinative of student performance.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
blind-painter-john-bramblitt-3-L
Painting by the Blind Artist John Bramblitt.

 

*Note: Regarding the photographs of the crucified Armenian women that begins this post, it is important to mention that a few compassionate Turkish Muslims managed to save some of those women by taking down from their crosses those women that had not dies before their crucifiers had left.

It should also be noted that Hitler acknowledged his debt to the Turkish approach to ridding themselves of their hated Armenian and Greek compatriots for many of the ideas he used to rid himself of the Jews, Gypsies, non-Nazi homosexuals and Slavs living on land slated for German Lebensraum (In the US it was called Manifest Destiny**).

By the way,it seems to me, for some Turks to justify the Genocide as they do by claiming it to have been caused by some Arminians who vigorously opposed governmental policy and sought international assistance would be like Americans justifying lynching all African-Americans because the protests in Ferguson against police brutality caused foreign press to express sympathy with their plight.

** In Manifest Destiny, because the US was somewhat more democratic, we allowed citizens to kill or enslave the non-white, non-protestant inhabitants living in the lands conquered, with the government stepping in only when the native reaction was too strong or effective for the good white citizens to handle.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

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

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

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

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

A few days ago I read that some scientists suspect the perception of the color blue is a recent innovation for humanity. They were put on to this theory by the fact that Homer never mentioned the color blue in his works (nor did most ancient texts such as the Bible). Homer’s description of the Aegean as the “wine dark sea,” a sea that to us today is decidedly blue, led them to conclude, either the sea was a different color then (wine is not blue even at its darkest) or something was different in the color perceptions of the ancients. They then discovered that people in societies today that have no word for blue, when asked the color of the sky, most often respond that it was colorless. A modern tribe that has no word for blue but several for green can see differences in green not perceived by the rest of us. So given that colors are merely reflections of certain frequencies of light, what is going on? This freaks me out. When I look at the deep blue skies over the golden foothills what, if anything, am I seeing?
IMG_20150227_113411_601_2

Alas, still no rain. Paradise before the fall?
_____________________________________________________

So, I have now completed a PET and a CT (CAT) scan. I guess my next one will be a RAT, BAT or perhaps even a VET scan.
________________________________________________
Nikki arrived. He plans to stay for about a week. This means that a lot more noise and a bit more laughter it the house. H has been fitted with braces and is unhappily suffering through the irritation of getting used to them.
IMG_20150309_123120_218

With Nikki attending to H, I spend even more of my time in my room trying to find something interesting to read other than Facebook and trashy novels. Recently I even have begun to look forward to my medical appointments.
_____________________________________________

While having coffee with Reed a few days ago, he mentioned that the Coastal Conservancy staff said that they did not know what a coastal restoration project is, despite the fact that their implementing legislation specifically directs the agency to do them.
______________________________________________

During breakfast with Nikki, he asked what would I do if I was no longer living in EDH. I said that I would probably still do much of what I do now. I would divide my time between; California, probably as much as possible with my sister and brother in law in Mendocino; Italy, at Nikki’s home at Saliceto in the Alpine foothills or Sabina or Sicily; and Thailand, although I would prefer moving out of BKK and back to the beach. Winters at the beach in Thailand, Spring and Fall somewhere along the California coast and Summers in the Alps it seems would not be such a bad life.

DSCN0765
Mendocino, California

3-frazione-molino-di-cravagliana

Saliceto, Italy
IMG_20141101_104712_181
Roccantica in Sabina

IMG_20141103_093456_350

Sicily

DSCN1871
Jomtien Beach, Thailand
_______________________________________

My visit to the orthodontist with H was a revelation. The waiting area was more playroom than office with its jungle motif, separate play areas and massage chairs for parents. The staff of about 20 or so seemed to have overdosed on ebullience as though they had hit the nitrous-oxide on the way to work. The staff was all women except for the man himself, the orthodontist, the chief giggler himself — the lord of the manor — the Caliph. I used to wonder who lived in those super large homes that line the ridges of EDH. I now imagine they are all inhabited by happy-talking orthodontists.
________________________________________

El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life.
_________________________________

Well, I can put my hypochondria back in its box for a while. The PET scan came back negative for any evidence of migration by big C into other parts of my body. Now, if the biopsy shows signs of it in the nodule itself, the doctor believes it can be safely removed without resort to either radiation or chemo.
__________________________________

My very dear friend from Sicily, Luigi (Gigi) Gallo, who suffers from Parkinson’s, recently slipped, fell and broke his leg. He appears to be recovering. I hope all goes well with him. Last year, after an over 40-year hiatus, I visited Sicily and had a wonderful time with him, catching each other up on our lives over the last 40 years and reminiscing about our time together in Sicily and Rome.
10645283_1083588428334620_6101652990223116928_n

B. BOOK REPORT:

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

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. Zander’s Perceptions

“Lentil Soup and Lent

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

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

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

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

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

Do I have any volunteers?
Pete Xander

D. Granddaughter’s Painting:
11027521_10206628585290334_4684130309468744632_n
Athena Petrillo

E. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

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

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1509791_831341913593953_2784365678405538780_n

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

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

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

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

305005_457125660999207_450779982_n
Point Cabrillo Light House, Mendocino

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Cold Tits 0004 (March 8, 2015)

 

“There is irrefutable evidence that the past existed, but everything else about the past is hearsay.”
Belateche, Irving. Einstein’s Secret (p. 5). Laurel Canyon Press.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The golden foothills remain somnolently golden under the mostly blue skies.
15302800846_b20cb9905c_z
The Golden Foothills awaiting a crop of new subdivisions.

A few days ago, while walking the dogs, I was surprised by a neighbor who actually spoke to me. He was an elderly chap (probably younger than I) standing in front of his house. He startled me because this was the first time someone on this street had spoken more than a somewhat stifled hello to me in the five years I have lived here. He said, “Those people burned garbage in their fireplace yesterday and the smoke came directly into my house.” He pointed to a house about six or seven houses down the block from where we were standing. “Those people,” were a Filipino family that host a pre-school in their home every weekday morning.

(Note: I have never seen anyone living at many of those intervening houses. HRM says they are inhabited by VOPs [very old people] who never go out and have everything they need delivered to them. HRN also says I am not a VOP. We often argue about that.)
______________________________

The Pulmonary Nodule committee (The Death Panel), has approved all the tests that have been prescribed and added one that will show wherever the big C, if it exists at all, has spread. Another problem they are looking into is COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). That is one of the reasons for the lung capacity tests I am scheduled to take this month. The more I look into this stuff, the more it toggles my hypochondria switch. I need to do less internet searches and spend more time contemplating the blue skies, golden hills and secretive neighbors of EDH.
____________________________________

On the 24th of this month I plan to leave for Washington DC. The trip is a gift from my daughter. I hope to be able to visit some of the Civil War battle sites in the area that I have not yet seen. I also would like to get up to Baltimore to see the effects of redevelopment of the waterfront that I commented on years ago. As part of the downtown rehabilitation in the 70s and 80s, the city offered to sell, for $1 each, to those who agreed to restore them, the wonderful brick homes in the area that it acquired. The program was well on its way the last time I visited Baltimore.
__________________________________

I received a pleasant surprise this week. Reed Holderman called. He was going to be driving by EDH so we agreed to meet today at Zia’s coffee shop in Town Center.

It was great to see him again. He has been executive director of the Sempervirens Fund for many years now and is due to retire in April. Reed and I worked together at the Coastal Conservancy a long time ago. There are people in everyone’s life whose generosity of spirit remains a warm spot in one’s memory forever. Reed in one of those people for me. He ordered a cappuccino and I a root beer float. I learned that Zia makes her floats with olive oil ice cream. They were out of it today, so I had them make it with cranberry and yogurt ice cream.

We reminisced together about old times and old friends and discussed plans and benefits of retirement.
__________________________________

On Saturday, we held HRM’s 10th birthday party at Kalithea Park in El Dorado Hills a beautiful park overlooking Folsom Lake.
IMG_20150307_124302_135IMG_20150307_124321_551

It was one of the more pleasant birthday celebrations I have experienced in my life. Before the party we painted the rock.
IMG_20150307_070617_711

Then we decorated the area and the party began.

IMG_20150307_140437_287IMG_20150307_130914_228IMG_20150307_131155_901IMG_20150307_143025_056IMG_20150307_133655_708

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Being smart aint everything:

Television personality and former stripper Rick Rosner is one of the smartest living men in the world with IQ scores ranging from 140 to 250 by different measures.

Born in 1946, Marilyn Vos Savant has earned IQ scores ranging from 157 to 228. Since 1986, she has written an “Ask Marilyn” column in Parade magazine, where she was famous for solving the Monty Hall problem.

With an IQ reported between 174 and 210, Christopher Langan was dubbed the smartest man in America by Esquire Magazine. At 6’1″ and 275 pounds, Langan is an avid weightlifter and recovering agoraphobic who pays the bills doing temp work as a bartender, nightclub bouncer, and personal trainer.

Born in Chicago in 1904, Nathan Leopold was a child prodigy with an IQ of 210 who spoke his first words at 4 months old. He was also a murderer who, along with his friend Richard Loeb, killed a 14-year-old boy while trying to commit “the perfect crime” in 1924. The crime inspired the Alfred Hitchcock film “Rope.” Brilliant yet socially inept, Leopold latched on to Loeb, who was good looking and popular, according to Biography.com. Leopold was convicted of murder and spent 33 years in prison. He died in Puerto Rico in 1971 at the age of 67.

A college graduate at the age of 11, Adragon De Mello has a projected IQ of 400. As of 2003, Adragon was working for the Home Depot after training to be an estimator for a commercial painting company.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Climate Change:

Over a year ago, in T&T, I suggested that the minor slowdown in the rate of increase of global air temperatures over the past decade was caused by the oceans absorbing that missing increase. I also thought that, beginning with this years el Nino, that excess heat will start to radiate back into the atmosphere thereby accelerating global warming for the next decade or so. Scientists from the UK Met Office’s Hadley Center led by Dr. Chris Roberts of the Oceans and Cryosphere Group predict in a new paper in Nature that such a warming phase is about to begin.

I also have written that perhaps the predominant cause of the current turmoil in the Near East, exacerbated by the political incompetence of all involved, is the current climate change induced drought similar to the drought that generated the rise of Islam 1400 years ago (but much more rapid and severe today). The following graph seems to confirm it.
kelley-et-al-2015-syria-PNAS-638x302

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“…since any organizational structure requires its members to subordinate their own wills and whims, their own pleasures and material needs, to some less immediate goals, so no organizational structure can continue to function in a society where the people involved in it become increasingly selfish, self-indulgent, materialistic, and atomistically individualistic.”
Carroll Quigley. Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

C. Xander’s Perceptions:

One to Beam Up

“Yesterday marked the passing of one of the most recognized and beloved actors, Leonard Nimoy. He was 83 and had been struggling with and lost his battle to COPD (take a hint, smokers — STOP).

It’s a truism that in science fiction, no one ever dies, but that wasn’t the case of the man known to hundreds of millions as Mr. Spock of the hit TV program from the 60s, “Star Trek.” When Gene Roddenberry was pitching the concept to television networks, he finally hooked up with NBC. And what was it that got the job done? He came up with one of the truly great log lines of all time: ” ‘Wagon Train’ in outer space.” [“Wagon Train” was a TV show from the 50s and 60s that had several defined characters and story lines that allowed for independent episodic shows that were not dependent on a continuing story line]

At that time, “Star Trek” was the most expensive television program. It suffered from a huge monkey on its back, thanks to the show being put in the 10:00 slot on Friday nights. Welllllll, anyone 18 to 45 who were fans of the show were usually out partying. The show’s remaining fans were kids my age — young teens who dug that kind of stuff (and still do).

NBC tried to cancel it after the first season but was inundated with a landslide of protest letters — over a million, if I recall correctly. Season 2 went on the cheap, and Season 3 had the cheeseist backgrounds with virtually all episodes that year were laughable shows filmed on NBC’s set and further depended on cartoonish special effects (with the exception of “The Trouble With Tribbles”). This time, NBC followed through and canceled the show.

“Star Trek” was innovative and was years — or Star Dates — ahead of society. The tightened budget, however, forced writers to be creative without being dependent on special effects. The show had terrific writers like D. C. Fontana, who went with the initials because she was a she; women just did not get hired in those days. “Star Trek” also featured the first inter-racial kiss but headed off any potential bursts of outrage by having their actions controlled by highly evolved aliens who used them as living chess pieces.

One look at the diversity of the cast members was innovative as well: The cast involved a Scot; a Japanese-American; an African-American woman who was a competent and accomplished officer; an alien half-breed who suppressed his human half to be an emotionless Vulcan; and a grumpy southerner who engaged Spock at every opportunity. When the Soviet Union griped that there was no Russian among the 23rd Century officers on the bridge, Roddenberry created Anton Chekov. The show, therefore, advanced such concepts as equal opportunity for women, various minorities, and people from around the world and galaxy; inter-racial relationships wherein Captain Kirk was a rutting equal opportunity horn-dog who’d get it on, regardless of race, creed, or planetary origin; and anti-war, anti-prejudice (the most notable one being a battle between two aliens who were half-black, half-white, but with the colors being mirror opposites.

After cancellation of the show, Leonard Nimoy felt so constrained by the character he brought to life that he wrote a book: “I Am Not Spock.” But as the years went by and as he did branch out to acting on the stage (notable “Equus”) and directing — remember “Three Men and a Baby?” — he mellowed and gradually accepted the fact that his role on “Star Trek” exhibited his sharply refined talent . . . and was compelled to write another book: “I Am Spock.” He was an incredible human being and maintained his friendships with his fellow actors all the way through to his passing.

His death brings to the surface the reality that we are mortal, despite our attempts to deny it. It reflects the fact that I am sliding toward that reality. Back in the 1980s, when friends and I were hitting our thirties, I’d remarked that when famous people from our era — like a Simon and Garfunkel, a Paul McCartney, or an Elizabeth Montgomery, who died far too soon — began passing away — we would truly know that we were aging and were far closer to death than we were to being born.

Leonard Nimoy will remain a remarkable actor and human being who will truly “live long and prosper” in our minds and hearts.”

Pete Xander

D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

E. Tales of Inhumanity:

100 years ago this month, the Ottomans caused the deaths of one-third of the entire population of Lebanon.

“We have destroyed Armenians by the sword, we shall destroy the Lebanese through starvation”. Enver Pasha on intended genocide of innocents.

Lebanon, before its current borders, had a booming silk industry (run mainly by women). Lebanon depended upon this industry to stimulate its economy and keep its population fed and healthy.

Djamal Pasha ran Lebanon at the time for the Ottoman Empire. He put a blockade on the Mediterranean coast, not allowing anything in or out.

The industry died in Lebanon as jobs dried up. People became poor and destitute.Famine spread and, with it, disease spread too.To make things worse, a swarm of locusts came down and devastated what little crops were being tended to by ailing Lebanese.Some resorted to cannibalism to keep from dying. Jesuit priests’ records show that many came to confess having eaten their own children.Extreme hunger and desolation caused madness among people.The roads were lined with the skeletal bodies of Lebanese.By the end of the whole ordeal, 200,000 Lebanese died of starvation and sickness caused by the Ottomans. That’s one-third of the population.It was no coincidence that, at the time, Lebanon’s population was about 87% Christian.”
Syrian News

1497815_915742845143571_763027066171016854_n11000592_915742965143559_6916015998163132977_n

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It is not the man who denies the gods worshiped by the multitude, who is impious, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them.”
Epicurus

 

TODAY’S CHART:
HockeyStick
The standard “hockey stick” graph for showing world temperature rise over the last 1000 years.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
66785002
A lone oak tree in El Dorado Hills.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Mopey 0004 (February 4, 2015)

 

“… the origin of Hells Kitchen? Before Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, there was Indigestion on Ninth.”
Peter Grenell, July 1, 2012 (11 Shadow, 0001)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

For the past week or so the weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny here behind the locked gates of the city on the Golden Hills. Spring flowers on some trees have already begun to bloom.

Very little breaks the monotony of life within the security walls and landscaped medians except swimming and sleeping. Swimming because I can zone out in almost drug like bliss until my head strikes the cement edge of the pool. Sleeping because my dreams take me far away to places, if not happier then, at least, more interesting.
___________________________

Today I decided to skip work. Work to me now is writing love letters to myself on the computer and emailing them to my close friends and to those not so close, reading unbelievably trashy novels and taking long naps. Instead, after breakfast and swimming, I ate a pretty good pastrami sandwich at the local Italian deli, went for a long (for me) walk around the lake and finished off digging through a chocolate, yogurt and cranberry gelato. I think I am going to cry.
_____________________________

It is somewhat unsettling to have January days at this latitude of the Sierra Foothills where families bring their children to swim and sunbathe at the community pool. It is also disturbing, if enjoyable, for there to have been not a drop of rain during that same month. Such circumstances in the short run are vagaries in weather and usually not determinative of changes in climate. Their immediate origin appears to be caused by a massive distortion of the North-American jet stream bringing cold wet weather to the eastern half of the continent and warm dry weather to the western half. But if, here in California, they persist for a decade or so, I do not think any Peripheral Canal or other geoengineering proposal will be able to ameliorate the consequences.
_____________________________________________

Recently I read and article in some medical journal that vivid (lucid) dreamers have larger occipital lobes in their brain and that because of their size sort of fold over on each other — in other words, the brains of vivid dreamers are deformed. The article also maintained that those afflicted with this problem experience a similar state while awake. No, they do not go around believing that their lives are just a dream and that the hope they will soon wake up, although, God knows, I cannot count the times I had hoped it was so. According to the article, like in their dreams where they know they are dreaming and can manipulate them when they are awake and thinking, they know they are thinking. Alas, I have no idea what they are talking about here. Doesn’t everyone have an ongoing conversation with themselves about what they are thinking and why they are spending their time doing so? The few times I do something that can be referred to as thinking and not emoting, I find most of what I think about rather silly. Often I then write about it in T&T and send it out wondering if it annoys some of you as much as it does me.

B. BOOK REPORT:

Mystery novels and thrillers written by lawyers or ex-lawyers have become almost a sub-genre in themselves. Of course, what impels them to give up the emotionally rewarding vocation of an Attorney for insecurity of a literary life remains a mystery in itself (Snark alert).

Except for novels by my friends Sheldon Seigel and Chris Moore, I try to avoid books written by fallen members of that class parasites who often see themselves as counselors to society, or at least to that segment of society who can afford their fees. Alas, so many are now writing books it is difficult to avoid them completely.

The Big Kahuna of this group of authors is John Grisham. For some reason every now and then I pick up one of his works to read. He appears more stylistically accomplished than many of his brethren and quite clever in his plotting and story telling. But, what distinguishes him most is that he may be this generations muckraker in chief. The majority of his stories the often about a lonely and dangerous fight by an individual attorney with little power against representatives of formidable economic interests. Much of his books are devoted to describing the industry and the means by which it exercises its will to the detriment of society. His latest, Gray Mountain takes on big coal in Appalachia.

Pookie says, “Check it out…”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

A. Climate Change:

I do not know if others have noticed, but there seems to be a shift in position among climate change deniers. Many of them no longer deny the reality of climate change and its associated global warming. Climate change is real they agree but now maintain that it is either not caused by humans or really all that serious. As for it not being human caused, I suspect that this only will be a short term political objection. Once one accepts that climate is changing and world temperatures are escalating there are very few “natural” causes to blame that can stand up to scientific scrutiny —Vulcanism? Variable solar output? — These have already been dismissed as untenable except by the most deranged deniers. That leaves the argument that it is not very bad and may even be a good thing, so we should just lie back and enjoy it. Be prepared for an avalanche of articles, blogs and television punditry cherry picking obscure and usually non-peer reviewed data that they claim “prove” that the seas will rise only a little bit and would never top your sea-wall; that the minuscule temperature rises promise a world of eternal springtime, and that the hoards of people fleeing the desertification of their homelands are simply too lazy to scratch the soil a little harder and use more pesticides and fertilizer, preferring instead to travel many often dangerous miles and suffer extreme prejudice in order to live on the largess of the welfare state.

B. Musings on Events in the Near east (continued from last issue of T&T):

Mohamed, born into a wealthy urbanized Arab clan in Mecca, suffered a dysfunctional childhood as a result of the deaths of his parents and his fostering by some poorer relatives in the clan. He grew into a not so prosperous businessman until in his 30’s he lead a trading caravan funded by a wealthy older woman who eventually became the first of his eleven (I believe) wives. At about the age when most unsuccessful and many successful men begin to wonder what it is all about, Mohammed began spending more and more time alone in the desert, ultimately developing a syncretic monotheistic religion composed of Jewish, Christian and pagan elements. The religion, fatalistic in tone as was the Arab society from which in sprung, required only a few distinct rituals for its adherents and absolute obedience to God’s Prophet Mohammed. Like Jesus before him, Muhammed’s religious mandates originally were exclusively directed only to his ethnic group.

Mohammed, having little success in Mecca, left that city for Medina twice. The Arab and to some extent Jewish clans in Medina, a commercial rival of Mecca, encouraged Mohammed hoping the growth of his religion would increase business. Mecca was a major pilgrimage destination that Muhammed’s family benefited from.

After his first sojourn in Medina, Mohammed encouraged by the local clans returned to Mecca to preach his new religion. This enraged the Meccans for among other things Mohammad condemned the worship of the Kaaba, the pilgrimage site that was the source wealth for several clans including his own. An attempt to kill him led by his own family prompted Mohammed to flee back to Medina. There he implored the Midianites to fund his return to Mecca in order to subdue it. They refused. So Mohammed, probably noticing the excess of young males with limited opportunities in the area, proposed to them that if they were to agree to become raiders for Islam for free they could keep the loot — provided they give Muhammed 1/5 of it. He also exiled one of the Jewish clans in the city and took their property as starter capital. This worked very well and after a period of pure brigandage, they wiped out the other Hebrew clans, expropriated their wealth and went on to conquer, in short order, most of the Near East.

Thus, two institutions arose in Arab culture, the military that conquered but had no idea about how to govern and the teacher/ministry who had no interest in doing so. As a result, government as we know it eventually fell into the hands of non-Arabic Muslims or existing non-Muslim populations in the conquered lands. This inability to create or manage a state ultimately resulted in the non-Arabic Muslim converts taking over management of the states and eventually supplanting their Arab masters. (to be continued)

DAILY FACTOID:

2015: Aging. Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a procedure for slowing or stopping aging in cells by restoring the Telomeres in chromosomes. Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies. This internal “clock” makes it difficult to keep most cells growing in a laboratory for more than a few cell doublings. The new procedure permits cells to divide up to 40 or more times.

2015: The Tattooed Iceman. The 5300-year-old well-preserved cadaver discovered in the Alps and nicknamed the Iceman has been found to have 61 tattoos on his body corresponding to the skin acupuncture lines developed in Asia thousands of years later.
tattoos

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Should Cities be more Resilient?

In April of last year, San Francisco appointed the world’s first Chief Resilience Officer as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. The appointment comes with a two year $100,000 per year grant from the foundation to develop a city’s ability to recover from acute shocks and chronic stresses or, as the initial appointee explained, keeping track of everything that could test the city, from resource scarcity to social inequality. He seems to believe that, after discovering who does what in the City bureaucracy, the position entails encouraging those other city emergency, response and recovery entities and personnel to feel good about their jobs.
B. Musings on Heaven:

Have you ever wondered about why the Judeo-Christian heaven so resembles North Korea with its endless chanting and adoration of its blessed leader? At least for those Muslim men who die in battle, they get to eat and fornicate forever. For Muslim women, however — well, they are just screwed here on earth and in Heaven.

Statistically and historically, the number of those “humans” with immortal souls (as maintained by most Christians) who have died in the womb through miscarriages, death of the mother or during childbirth is somewhere between ten and twenty times the number of live births. These soul-endowed humans not having the opportunity to do anything prohibited by God, supposedly end up in Heaven. So, when the elect pass on to their just rewards, they will find a Heaven overwhelmingly filled with fetuses. Catholic theology deals with this horrifying image by segregating that mass of helpless individuals into “Limbo” so that the saved can avoid the shock.

In Heaven one spends all eternity chanting hymns and staring at the Great One in adoration, much like watching endless reruns of Seinfeld. Or, in the case of Islam endlessly fornicating with the same 72 virgins who of course after the first couple of weeks would no longer be so. Wouldn’t, in very short order, one want to get out of town so to speak? Is there a difference between Heaven and Hell? Are we all simply being punished for existing? Have we been tricked?

Is it true that those who die with the most money win? If so, what do they win? Many non-Catholic and Orthodox Christian sects believe that those with the most toys get better seats in Heaven’s arena. I could see where that would have some appeal in a fetus-filled stadium. But, even so, what could possibly be the appeal of spending all eternity in a private suite overlooking an endless Superbowl. Imagine automobile, insurance and fast food commercials without end. Jean-Paul Sartre would love it.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Rising prices benefit debtors and injure creditors, while falling prices do the opposite. A debtor called upon to pay a debt at a time when prices are higher than when he contracted the debt must yield up less goods and services than he obtained at the earlier date, on a lower price level, when he borrowed the money. A creditor, such as a bank, which has lent money— equivalent to a certain quantity of goods and services— on one price level, gets back the same amount of money— but a smaller quantity of goods and services— when repayment comes at a higher price level, because the money repaid is then less valuable. This is why bankers, as creditors in money terms, have been obsessed with maintaining the value of money, although the reason they have traditionally given for this obsession— that ‘sound money’ maintains ‘business confidence’— has been propagandist rather than accurate.”
Quigley, Carroll.

TODAY’S CHART:

biblemarriage
Examples of marriage options approved in the Bible

Marriage is and always has been a means of establishing a socio-economic organization focused on child rearing obligations, financial responsibilities and allocations among the parties and inheritance rights. Love never had anything to do with it except to make the lovers routinely oblivious to the economic implications of their liaison and the often unexpected burdens of parenthood requiring the state to step in. Today, most of the legal rules that inure to the marital ceremony determine the economic relationships between the parties not otherwise affected by a contract between them and defines those obligations and rights society determines cannot be signed away. Theoretically, any arrangement of people choosing to share living, economic and parental arrangements should be able to choose this option.

TODAY’S CARTOON:
403833_452167268137623_53805153_n

Today’s Photograph:
10155104_10152838669020242_6799419858627281396_nRoccantica, my grandmother’s birthplace

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Mopey 0004 (January 19, 2015)

 

“…the brave are merely the stupid who live through their poor decisions.”
Fuller, Brian. Trysmoon Book 4: Sacrifice (The Trysmoon Saga).
_______________________________________________________
TYSON UNDERWOOD rest in peace. We will miss your ever-present smile.
_______________________________________________________
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

After resting a day, swimming was a pleasure. A half an hour without becoming tired is better than the exhausted feeling that follows Exercycle or weight training — perhaps because they both are so boring. Completing a lap seems like successfully meeting a challenge — completing a set, not so much.
__________________________________

Research and some analysis indicate that it is probably better to tackle the nodule question aggressively. Even if the Dr. proposes a test, wait and see approach, people over retirement age are not likely to get any stronger therefore, even if there is any ambiguity as to diagnosis and prognosis, it would be preferable to get it over now and take the risk rather than waiting to be absolutely certain that radical steps need to be taken later. Beyond 70, the chances of even currently benign nodules turning cancerous increases substantially over time. Let’s see what the doctor has to say Monday.
___________________________________

Tyson Underwood has died after a long battle with cancer. Kathleen’s ex-husband, an artist and a long time director of annual art festivals in Marin, was one of the most upbeat and unreservedly optimistic persons I have ever known.
________________________________

It is uncomfortable to swim late in the afternoon while the sun goes down behind the clubhouse casting a shadow over the pool and you are the last person still in the pool. Ending the planned laps a bit early and getting into to the hot tub that still had three people in it, even if no one talks to anyone else makes one feel less alone and vulnerable.

A woman of indeterminate age wearing a white-billed cap and one-piece bathing suit with a tiny flower pattern sat in the hot-tub reading a book about Paris. Another older somewhat rotund woman, who had been swimming laps previously, seemed an athletic type since she continued to flex her arms and shoulders while she sat in the hot water. Our fourth companion in the tub was a middle-aged man with blond hair going gray who mumbled to himself as he sat in front of a water jet.
________________________________________

On Monday, the doctor was thoroughly engaged in reviewing the various test results in an unsuccessful effort to determine what was causing my low blood pressure. He ignored the CT scan Pulmonary Nodule discovery. “Oh that,” he exclaimed. “They usually are not a problem.” After additional in office tests on the low blood pressure, he concluded, by a process of elimination, they probably were neurological and referred me to a neurologist. When pushed again on the nodule, he explained that he would first need to see whether it appeared in prior chest x-rays and the like to determine whether or not it existed before or was something new. A few days later he secured a copy of the tests performed two years ago during my hospitalization for a pulmonary embolism. They showed a nodule in the same place. That is a good sign. He recommended a pulmonary specialist and arranged an appointment.

The two-year-old hospital report on the pulmonary embolism indicated that all the arteries into the lungs were blocked and that only a small part of the upper right lobe worked to keep my body alive until the other passages could be cleared. That’s a little like falling out of a plane without a parachute and surviving. Come to think of it, it was a long plane ride that probably caused the embolism. Could falling out of the plane been a better option than remaining seated in the middle seat in coach class for 12 hours and then rushing to the hospital a few days later in order to save ones life?
_____________________________________________

One of the delights of retirement is that you get to enjoy the pleasure of standing freezing on the sidelines for and hour or so as the child you are responsible for plays football or some other organized activity. The activity is generally designed by other adults in order to extract money from those legally responsible for the child’s welfare who agree to pay the con so that they can avoid self-reproach for their inability to otherwise get the child out of the house to play.
__________________________________________________

IMG_20141127_163530_566
A selfie
B. BOOK REPORT:

Sometime in the late 60’s and continuing for a decade the Swedish husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö embarked on an ambitious scheme to write one mystery book a rear for ten years. The books were to be interconnected in a series called “The Story of Crime.”

Ruth turned me on to the series. Where most modern mystery stories over the past forty years generally feature a brilliant if somewhat odd sleuth who solves the mystery usually by either cleaver deduction or by the impact of his or her particular psychosis (for example by beating people up or getting drunk), these are stories about Swedish police detectives who solve cases using the routine that are the lot of most public employees. They get bored, sick with colds and have bad marriages. The criminals more often than not are sympathetic, driven to murder by social circumstances they cannot control and now and then they even get away with it.

Despite being over 40 years old, the novels grapple with issues pertinent today such as the militarization of policing, the social desperation that drives people to crime and the impact of replacing personal interaction between the police and the public with impersonal violence that begets even more violence resulting in the collapse of the morale of both.

“More and more often one was obliged to initiate an investigation by trying to sort out what the police had been up to. Not infrequently this proved harder than clearing up the actual case.”
Sjowall, Maj; Wahloo.The Locked Room: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (8).

My two favorite books in the series are The Laughing Policeman and The Abominable man.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

What is occurring in the Near-East right now I believe is misunderstood. It is not a religious conflict, but religious conflicts certainly exist. It is not a clash among incompatible ideologies and economic interests, but ideological and economic strife are rampant.

What is happening now has happened before at least twice and perhaps more. In both of those previous situations, a drying of the climate had reduced the grassland on either side of the more urbanized and productive fertile crescent that had supported the way of life of the grassland inhabitants. With this climate crisis, populations began to migrate from the grasslands to the more fertile and settled regions. Along with this came the functional equivalent of biker gangs. Under employed young men with weapons with nothing more productive to do attempting to acquire the surplus production of their more settled neighbors usually under the unifying impetus of an ideology to which they gave real or feigned allegiance.

Today the rural economy of the middle east is in shambles as the area desertifies and the population increases beyond sustainability for the area. (to be Continued)
DAILY FACTOID:
300px-Normans_possessions_12century_es

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Mendacity:

Republicans, in general, neo-liberal and supply-side economists reject the Keynesian prescription that during times of insufficient demand (recession and depression) expenditures of public funds even if it results in a governmental deficit is needed to restore the economy to health. Democrats, progressives and Keynesian economists disagree. On the other hand, Republicans, etc., appear quite happy to steadily increase the expenditure on military procurement and benefits and tax benefits for hydrocarbon-based energy production. This has been described as Weaponized Keynesianism and Carbonized Keynesianism.

If there was a third hand, Democrats et al., seem quite happy, during times of insufficient demand to decrease military expenditures and petrochemical public benefits and apply the funds thus saved to governmental welfare schemes.

While I personally prefer the latter, it appears there is an element of hypocrisy on both sides.

We may disagree about whether or not a military dollar gives a greater bang for the buck than a welfare dollar but to some extent we still are agreeing on a Keynesian solution to insufficient demand. The difference seems to be that the Repubs, etc., believe the emergency expenditure should be generally supply side in nature usually including tax relief for equity.

The Dems et al., however, usually propose road, bridge and infrastructure improvements as part of their recession recovery packages (along with middle-class tax relief) and these are also definitely trickle down.

So, it seems to me that it all comes down to a question of politics and not economics. Unless, of course, you consider who ends up with the money is a question of personal destiny and not of social choice.

B. Some past effects of a change in climate :

“In the west with which we are concerned here, there was a climate change after A.D. 200, marked, it would seem, by a retreat of the polar icecap and the polar area of high pressures; this allowed the prevailing westerly winds and rains to move northward so that they passed over the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia, with great growth of forest in all northern Europe, and with greatly reduced rainfall in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and east of the Caspian Sea. In the same period, war and disease resulted in a decrease of population of up to 60 per cent in Europe or in the Roman empire from about 200 to after 800, that is to say over six hundred or more years. Careful studies of the population of the Roman empire seem to indicate that its population fell from about 70 million persons at the time of Christ to about 50 million in 300. The wars, migrations, spread of plagues, and abandonment of much family life, including the spread of chastity for religious reasons and of sexual perversions for other reasons, all contributed to this decrease. This had a very adverse influence on economic production as well as on defense, especially when it was combined, after 200, by a flight from the cities to the rural areas, and a movement of economic activities toward self-sufficiency. One of the chief characteristics of an economic depression is a reduction in roundabout modes of production by a decrease in investment, although not necessarily in savings, along with a reduction in the specialization of production and exchange of products. The links in any chain of activity from the original producer to the final consumer are reduced in number; individuals retreat from very specialized activities to more general ones; the use of exchange and of money decreases. All of these changes are to be found in weapons systems and in defense, where we find a similar tendency to fall back on the simpler, less complex, and more general forms of weapons, tactics, and organizational arrangements, including, for example, the belief that the same man should produce food and fight (peasant militia) or a reduction of defense to a single weapon or only two. We may not notice these military consequences when the depression is brief, as the world depression of 1929-1940, but these effects do appear when such an economic collapse continues for centuries, in a dark age.

The effects of such a change are also important on the non-material aspects of the society, where we find a tendency for people to turn toward a more personal and existential life, with emphasis on day-to-day interpersonal activities, decreasing emphasis on planning for the future in this secular world, and a decrease in abstract thinking and generalizations, but instead, a great emotional and intellectual emphasis on a few symbols and words. Life tends to polarize into almost total absorption in momentary empirical activity, with intellectual life reduced to a few large symbols.
Carroll Quigley. Weapons systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
12072249714_48a80ff8b0_z
Interior — St John Lateran, Rome

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 PaPa Joe 0003 (October 15, 2014)

“Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.”

(Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human)

“Those periods in history when government disappears in favor of private organizations are usually called, ‘Dark Ages.’”
Trenz Pruca

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. CONTEMPLATING MY 75TH BIRTHDAY:

Today is my 75th birthday, at least here in BKK. It will not be so in NY where I was born until sometime tonight.

I spent the morning during my walk to breakfast, at breakfast, while swimming and at lunch, running through my mind various self-justifying stories about what the day means to me. I was going to write them down here because I thought some of them were pretty good. But, I’ll save you that pleasure. What really interests me today is Samuel Beckett. You know André the Giant’s friend who was so obsessed with cricket, – that Sam Beckett. (See Factoids below)

Well, Sam wrote a lot of books and plays when he was not driving André around or watching cricket matches. One novel in particular always fascinated me. It was about someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along until he bumps into something. This was all that the novel was about, all three hundred or so pages of it. I do not remember the name of the book. You can look it up.

Now, I know Beckett intended his story to explore solipsism (you can look that up too), a philosophy or view of life that fascinated him. But he was a storyteller and as I have pointed out previously one can never trust a storyteller, they always lie. The lies aside, what always interested me was that he was also wrong.

You see, even someone deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something is still a blood sack with a bunch of electrons floating around between neurons that have gathered from the environment various electrical and other forces, formed them into an image and then tells the blood sack what it is he is experiencing. Now, the deaf, dumb and blind someone without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along has no idea whether what he is being told is the truth or not. He may, actually, be floating through the air above a beautiful verdant landscape for all he knows. Something may be amiss among the neurons or they may just be playing with him. In fact, if he believes he is deaf, dumb and blind, without arms and legs lying face down in a puddle of mud slowly slithering along when he bumps into something, something is probably very wrong with his neurological machinery. Even if, in fact, he is deaf dumb and blind and slithering face down through a puddle of mud he may either panic and despair or laugh at the absurdity of it all. And, if the latter, he could then utter Reilly’s famous observation, “what a revolting development this is.”

Which brings me back to my 75th birthday. If you know who Reilly is, than you are probably at least as old as I am, and you know, as I do, that our “Use by” date is rapidly approaching.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have spent most of my recent spare time (spare time for me is time not spent in eating, exercising, walking about, sleeping and staring off into the distance) editing Quigley’s book “Weapons Systems and Political Stability” and preparing “Red Dawn” for publication. On the Quigley book, I have edited 500 out of some 1300 pages. After I complete the edits, mostly typo’s, paragraphing and some revising where the text has been garbled, I will then re-review it, put in some additional headings, decide how to handle the missing ending and write my forward. On “Red Dawn” I need to go back over it for continuity and write-up the final chapters.

I just went back over “Red Dawn” and found all my edits and formatting somehow disappeared. I don’t know why. Ugh..five weeks work wasted.

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

Today was one of BKK’s hot stifling days.

I walked by the migrant worker housing site next to my apartment. It houses migrants from Cambodia or Burma, I do not know which. The homes are made of corrugated metal. There are two floors of flats with a person or family sharing a room, There is electricity to the rooms but no water.
IMG_20140619_122211_703
In the morning and the evening the residents gather beside two large rectangular concrete cisterns filled by a garden hose from somewhere. Here they bath in that wonderful way that they do, soaping, washing and drying themselves all the while wrapped in large colorful cloths and never showing their nakedness. Most of them are in their late teens or twenties, the men all boyishly handsome and the women slender and darkly beautiful. There are a lot of smiles but very little laughter.

It always strikes me as a beautiful and poignant scene as I walk by. I would like to take a photograph, but the Thais tell me it would be impolite and I am too shy to ask permission.

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

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

We often hear the slogan “The War on Women,” bandied about by those, on one side or the other, seeking political advantage. In fact, this war on women has been going on for over at least 5000 years. What we have now in politics in the United States and going on in the Near and Middle East is not so much a “War On Women” but a “War About Women.” Like it or not, those that continue to oppose the march of women to equality and more are faced with resisting one of the great turning points of human history.

About 10,000 years or so ago the Neolithic agricultural revolution got under-weigh. This new culture was unusual because it was centered on women. Women tilled the crops while men engaged in perfunctory hunting and caring for the few domestic animals available. The economic system, social system and the intellectual system for production of crops and production of children (workers) were considered under women’s control. This culture as far as we know was relatively peaceful. Derived from Mesolithic gatherers, it lacked the tradition of masculine violence and the need for war. These societies lasted for about 6000 years.

Eventually new technologies (e.g., the plow and animal husbandry) reduced the economic and social dominance of women and more warlike masculine hunting cultures ultimately moved in. Finally by about 3000 B.C, they had reduced women to the status of more or less chattel. A status that has lasted almost until the dawn of this century.

During the 1950’s or so, due to their greater longevity, wealth (not income) fell into the hands of women such that by some measures women held a greater overall percentage of the nation’s wealth than men. This did not help women much because that wealth was usually managed by men. Only a very few women had been able secure income and social status independent of male largesse.

Since then, technology, ideology and society have changed so that women have been able challenge dominance of men and begin to amass their own power and wealth as well as develop their own ideology. For example: in the conduct of war, because of computerization of many weapons systems, women have become as good as men in the science of killing and often better. In Kobane for example, the co-commander of the Kurdish forces defending the town from the forces of ISIL is a woman. Should they succeed in defeating the besiegers they may change the face of Near and Middle East society forever.

Also, in schools women are excelling and graduating in ever larger majorities. Even in such occupations that revel in male aggressiveness like derivative fund management, studies have shown that women run derivative funds substantially outperformed male run ones. To describe women as more risk averse than men as some studies do is unfair. It would be more accurate to say that they are simply less prone to periods insane irresponsibility than men.

Thus, about two decades ago after steady advancement of women since the 1940’s, the War About Women began in earnest. For example, I believe women’s excelling in school and scholarship encouraged, in part, the attack on schooling by the male dominated traditional religious denominations and conservative organizations.

In the Near and Middle East, it was not simply replacement of burka’s with Western dress, but the realization that these free and educated women inevitably would move into positions of economic independence and ultimately seek political power that they began to assume in the West that drove the reactionary mullah’s into a frenzy.

What is happening in the US and in the Near and Middle East is all about women and their destiny. Women stand at the threshold of real power, economic, social and intellectual and many men are afraid.

In the US the 2012 election was to a great extent about the future of lower middle and lower class white male privilege. 2014 is the first American election in which the issue is all about the attempts to halt and reverse the emerging and inevitable power of women.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

A. Samuel Beckett Used to Drive André the Giant to School. All They Talked About Was Cricket.

B. 2013: During all of 2013 there were 9,137 scientific peer-reviewed articles published regarding anthropogenic climate change (human caused global warming). Of those 9,137 articles only one denied it exists. That lone scientist lives in Russia. Almost 50% of Americans and Congressional Republicans as well as Fox News passionately believes that one Russian scientist is correct. All the rest of the scientists they are convinced are part of a massive conspiracy by the solar power industry and the Muslim Brotherhood to weaken America.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…the three basic foundations of political democracy. These three bases are (1) that men are relatively equal in factual power; (2) that men have relatively equal access to the information needed to make a government’s decisions; and (3) that men have a psychological readiness to accept majority rule in return for those civil rights which will allow any minority to work to build itself up to become a majority.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Unless these three criteria are met, voting, even where the franchise is broad, does not mean a Democracy exists. And, without #3 voting is no more than a symbolic exercise.

TODAY’S CHART:
140926_cbox_freemanmap.png.crop.original-original
I find this map fascinating for some reason.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
76433071f02042be00ec61e837b6c43e_8
Women at work. 1930.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Papa Joe 0003 (September 11, 2014)

“Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all– the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

Mayor Richard J Daley 1968

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. THE COSMOS,
slide_219532_853900_free
as envisioned by a Pakistani teenager
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EI DORADO HILLS:

I was feeling a bit out of sorts so I thought a visit to the Man Cave before picking up HRM at school would help. The Man Cave looks like a large dark living room; sofas, easy chairs and ottomans. There were five or six men there lounging about, smoking cigars and watching Sons of Anarchy on the big screen TV.

I had never seen the show before. It seems to be about the trials and tribulations of being a biker gang member. The actors and actresses stared solemnly at each other and spoke in tones so low that I could hardly make out what they were talking about but assumed it was very important to them because they never smiled.

No one seemed to work much. Now, I know dealing dope is not as vigorous work as digging ditches, but usually one has to do something – like meeting customers and suppliers, collecting money, distributing profits and the like – but these people did not do any of that. Maybe because they were not particularly good at anything but auditions. They seemed to fight a lot too. Maybe they were good at that also.

Anyway the visit did not cheer me up much. I have been feeling irritable and dissatisfied recently and unable to either understand or meet HRM’s needs. We argue every day and it makes me sad.

I look forward to my upcoming trip, at least the Sicilian part of it. I have not seen my Sicilian relatives and friends in about 35 years. I will try to take the Camilleri – Montalbano tour. There are two. One through Agrigento (Montelusa) and Porto Empedocle (Vigata) where the books are set and one in Ragusa where the TV series was shot. In Porto Empedocle there is a statue of Montalbano.

Montalbano-1b

When I lived in Canicatti, Sicily for a few months about 40 years ago, my favorite sea food restaurant was in Porto Empedocle.
***************************************************

Here in The Golden Hills of suburban comfort, swimming season slowly bleeds into cross-country season. The hummingbirds have begun their long trek to the shores of the Caribbean. I sit here every morning in the Bella Bru Cafe watching through the window as flocks of young mothers, having dropped off their children at school, descend upon the outdoor tables that surround the fountain.

In Italy and even at times Thailand when sitting like this in some café, I usually have the feeling that everyone is talking to me even when they are not. Here each group seems encased in a bubble from which a low rumble of conversation escapes. Maybe it is not like that at all and I am simply eager to leave on my trip. On the other hand, perhaps it is just the increasing attacks of agita as I grow older that makes me more gloomy.
*****************************************************

Today at breakfast a woman walked into the cafe with her pre-school daughter in tow. She was wearing an American flag twisted around her neck as a scarf — I assume in remembrance of the twin towers attack. I recall 40 years or so ago displaying the flag like that would be considered an insult to it. It is interesting how malleable emotionally charged symbols can really be. Then again fashion rules all.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Quigley on top.

On the importance to society of dissent and the unimportance of ideology or labels:

Carroll Quigley believed that social arrangements, including governments, although they may begin by pursuing valid social goals, gradually become institutions serving their own purposes and needs. Without constant reform, those institutions eventually disintegrate.

In a prior post, I mentioned Quigley’s conviction that protection of minority rights may be even more important to a society than suffrage because suffrage not only is often less than universal but, even where it is broad and inclusive, groups other than the majority of the voters routinely wield the actual power. It is, he argued, minorities seeking their place in society that ultimately engender change and reform in a society.

In 1970 during the height of the chaos of the counter-culture movement and the terrors of cold war, Quigley was invited by a concerned Department of Defense to lecture at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy) on the nature and impact of dissent.

As shown in the quotes below, in that lecture he demonstrates the necessity of dissent to an organized society if that society is to remain capable of reforming itself to meet the challenges of the ever-changing and evolving environment which it must constantly confront and adapt to if it is to survive.

He also argues that ideology or labels are not significant determinants of the nature of the dissent but convenient tools for its expression (fashions if you will). As an example, the US Communist Party, first funded by Wall Street and then by the US government for their own purposes nevertheless still functioned as a mechanism of dissent, even against their paymasters.

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

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

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

“The Communist Party in this country was destroyed… It is extremely likely that by 1960 one of the chief sources of funds for the Communist Party in this country was the FBI spies who had joined it. And, the chief financial support of the Communists from about 1920 to about 1950 was Wall Street. Why? I do not know. If you’re interested, look up the story of The Institute of Pacific Relations; it was financed by Lee Higginson & Company of Boston, Frederick Vanderbilt Field of New York, and other big money interests.

When these people cut off this money, about 1949, the Communists were pretty much finished. Their only other source of money was Moscow, and Moscow has never been generous with funds for local Communist Parties, which they believe should support themselves. According to an FBI estimate, I believe, the Communists in this country are down to about 15,000 members. Take Angela Davis. She is emotionally alienated from our society, and for good reasons, but this has little to do with communism, even if she is a member of the Party. This is why I say ideology is not really important in dissent. People become Communists not because they like the ideology, but because they wish to demonstrate their opposition…”
Ibid.

Quigley maintained that the preservation of minority rights and dissent are two of the principle elements that make up “inclusive diversity,” perhaps the foundation on which our society is based and which he fears was being eroded and will over time lead to the shattering of our society*.

*NOTE: In this lecture over 40 years ago, Quigley predicts the potential rise of a movement in the United States from the disaffected and frightened lower middle class, (much like the Tea Party) that “…holds the key to the future. I think probably they will win out. If they do, they will resolutely defend our organizational structures and artifacts. They will cling to the automobile, for instance; they will not permit us to adopt more efficient methods of moving people around. They will defend the system very much as it is and, if necessary, they will use all the force they can command. Eventually they will stop dissent altogether, whether from the intellectuals, the religious, the poor, the people who run the foundations, the Ivy League colleges, all the rest.

It can be inferred from his comments that allegiance to what he calls the symbols, artifacts and organization of a society are more pronounced among those who have both a “future preference,” that is, are willing to make current sacrifices for future benefit and most threatened by the possibility those benefits will not exist when needed.

That group does not include the truly working poor who for the most part see little possibility of future preference or risk of falling further economically. What this group fears more is those whose social status may be even lower than theirs, blacks, Mexicans, poor immigrants surpassing them. (I was once told by a someone making less than a living wage for his family but more than the minimum wage that he supported the raising of the minimum wage as long as it was not raised as high as what he was earning.)

These latter, the working poor, are often male, bitter, despise the other classes, often racist and bear scant allegiance to society’s organizations or artifacts and only slightly more to its symbols. If they do join the disaffected lower middle class in something like the Tea Party, it can be fairly certain they will be the ones bringing the guns.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

A. Italian travels:

Ruth points out that our travels to Italy occurred in 1997 and that there were only two children along. The third, Athena, had not yet been born. I apologize for the error. It still was a happy time.

AnnMarie recalls that the photo was taken in Spoleto and that day may have been one of the highlights of our trip.

B. Quigley:

Terry Goggin reminded me that he too was a student of Carroll Quigley in the late 1950s and found his courses “terrific.” I regret the oversight.

He also pointed out Obama’s demand that the EEC nations commit as much of their GDP to the defense of Europe (NATO) as the USA and Estonia do could have the effect of rebuilding the Atlantic Alliance as Quigley would probably urge rather than the US bearing all the burdens while receiving a scant share of the benefits.

C. Complaints:

Several readers mentioned that I seem to complain a lot in T&T. I am sorry that it comes across like that.

Actually, I see it more as my tendency toward irony, cynicism (cynicism is irony of steroids) and sarcasm (sarcasm is cynicism on cocaine), my bemusement at life’s oddities, and a long standing discomfort with sharing any positive feelings I may have. As for the latter, for example, were I to see a beautiful sunrise, I might also picture in my mind the image of the sun as a melted piece of processed cheddar cheese on an english muffin and write down the image instead of the feeling of pleasure – or hunger. Somewhere in my early childhood I was persuaded that expressions of joy left one vulnerable but expressions of disgust or melancholy were ok.

I apologize and will try to be more positive. I will probably fail.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The U.S. still names] military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice.”
“Propaganda and the Public Mind: Conversations With Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian”

TODAY’S CARTOON:
fergusoncops720

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: