Posts Tagged With: Dashiell Hammett

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Cold Tits 0002 (February 26, 2013)

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

It is not yet March and the delicate blooms on the decorative fruit trees are already in flower.

We were driving through the subdivision to or from the house, I mentioned to Hayden how pleased I was that he had gotten A’s on his mathematics and spelling exams. He rolled down the window and shouted out, “Now hear this everyone, I got A’s on my mathematics and spelling exams. Pookie is proud. In your face.” Should I worry?

Hayden’s eighth birthday is in two weeks. Preparing for a child’s birthday party is as stressful as deciding whether to accept a blindfold before being shot by a firing squad.

I used to have people to handle this. Their job description was usually “wife.” They in turn generally subcontracted it all out anyway.

 
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s breath:

The Maltese Falcon (1941 film)

The Maltese Falcon (1941 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’shaughnessey, we believed your 200 dollars. I mean you paid us more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it alright. (Sam Spade)”
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

Chapter 5:

The voice on the phone said, “It’s Mavis.”

That’s as far as she got. I do not know how long I screamed into the phone nor do I recall precisely what I said. Essentially it was more or less $350 is not enough money to justify getting the shit kicked out of me. That simple idea was wrapped in many gender inappropriate words and many more that were inappropriate for any living thing with more consciousness than a virus. When I paused briefly for a breath she said, “Oh my God!” That stopped me right there. Who still says “oh my god?”

“I never thought…I’m so sorry… I’m coming right over. What’s your address?”

I gave her my address. She hung up. Thought, “What did I just do?” I never ever give anyone the address of my loft. Never since the day I came back from Cafe Americano with the blond financial-analyst intern and opened the door to find my wife standing there with the photographer. The divorce decree took everything, even the artwork on the walls and my furniture. She left me the loft. Said she was not taking it because she wanted me to remember that day every time I walked into the place.

I thought about selling it, but I knew I couldn’t. So I kept it and furnished it with things from Ikea and Goodwill.

Thought again, what if Mavis sent someone to hurt me? I couldn’t call her back and tell her to forget the address. I was fucked. When I had calmed down, I reasoned that maybe I was just horny. I guess guys get horny after getting beat up. But with Mavis? I’m not sure I found her all that attractive. Then again I my tastes in women have always been tinged with desperation.

I threw the napkin, now empty of ice into the sink. I had stopped bleeding at least. Went into the bathroom. Took off my clothes and tossed them into a corner to lie on the pile of clothing I had thrown into the same place all week. Went into the shower. Spent a long time under the hottest water I could stand. Tried to keep it from touching my wound. Failed. It burned like hell.

Got out of the shower, dried off, rooted around in the discard pile until I found a grey sweat shirt I had worn about three days ago that did not smell too bad. Found some khaki pants that were not too wrinkled and soiled. Carried them up to the sleeping platform and looked for clean underwear. Found only a maroon pair of boxer shorts with large white polka dots that were clean and a pair of white cotton briefs. Decided on the polka dots, the briefs were too embarrassing. Took some Tylenol.

I had just finished dressing when the doorbell rang. It was the same grinding sound as Ann’s door bell. I had intended to replace it but never got around to it since just about the only visitors I get now are pizza delivery people.

I buzzed open the door to the building. A few moments later I opened the door to the loft. She was dressed in black leather from the soles of her feet to her neck, a black motorcycle helmet held in one hand and a plastic bag dangling from the other. Flung both encumbered arms around me. Said, “Oh poor you.”

I tried to avoid any part of her touching my wound while hugging back as long as I could. She untangled herself, walked to the table unburdened herself of the bag and the helmet. As she removed her leather jacket and hung it over the back of a chair she said, “come here and sit down. I got some things from the drug store.”

I sat. She was wearing a loose blue sleeveless shirt. Both exposed arms were covered with jungle scenes, green foliage and various animals peeking out of the undergrowth. The jungle extended to cover her clearly visible side-boobs. A large snake seemed to be coiled around her right boob. She was bra-less. There was not that much there needing support other than the snake.

“God you look awful,” she said and she embarked on cleaning and wrapping my jaw. “I’m so sorry. I never expected something like this would happen. I don’t care about finding him. Not if it means someone is going to get hurt.”

I wanted to tell her I had enough and that I quit. Said instead, “It’s gone too far. It’s personal.” Immediately regretted saying it realizing I said it only to impress her.

Followed it up “What exactly did you expect,” as I cringed from something she had applied to the wound.

“Sorry,” she repeated. This time about the most recent pain she had caused me. “I knew he was mixed up in something. Nothing dangerous. I just was worried.”

I could feel the anger overwhelming my voyeuristic pleasure at both the view and her ministrations. “Bullshit. One doesn’t have thugs searching for one’s boyfriend and not know anything.” I grabbed her wrist before she put something else that hurt into the cut. Said, “Tell me everything or get the fuck out. I will find out on my own.” I squeezed harder on her wrist. Thought it made my words more dramatic and forceful.

She pulled away, sat down in one of the other chairs, stared at me a moment then looked off somewhere above my left shoulder.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The Guns of Chicago:

I, as I expect many of you, have been inundated with harangues this past month or so regarding the horrific firearm assault and death rate in Chicago which, it has been claimed, has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation. I assume these communications are intended to convince the reader that gun control does not work and may somehow even increase gun assaults. They also often point out that President Obama is from Chicago which I think whoever writes up these things believes proves that he intends to take away your guns and give them to black people. Strangely enough, two days ago I read a right-wing blog post that suggested just that.

Almost all peer-reviewed scientific articles on the subject indicate that the more guns in a society, the more gun violence. (Perhaps one of the best repository for these studies can be found at the Harvard School of Public Health [http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html]) As a general epistemological rule, where there is a local anomaly [high gun deaths and stringent gun control] that appears inconsistent with the general rule [fewer guns = less gun violence] one does not automatically assume either that the specific is the new generalization or that the generalization is invalid. One should first see if the specific case presented has something that distinguishes it from other situations.

In the case of Chicago it has many distinguishing factors. For example, it should be compared with other similar cities before applying any conclusions covering cities and non-cities alike. Cities often have higher raw crime numbers than rural areas because of population and proximity. While most studies show the Midwest to be significantly freer from assault threat than the South, the urban areas of both I would suspect would show higher raw numbers than the rural parts do. Among the differences between Chicago and similar urban areas is that the current escalation in violence commenced about four years ago with the breakout of a gang war. Blame it on Obama if you must, but the state of gun control laws probably has little to do with it.

Note: if as some have suggested gun control laws are a prelude to Nazism, shouldn’t the Chicago police by now have donned brown shirts and cleared the streets of the freedom loving gun carrying population shooting everyone up? Even more appropriate, shouldn’t we categorize these gang members shooting up their competitors as freedom loving people defending their Second Amendment rights?]

 
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Chart-Government-SPending

This chart shows government debt as a percentage of GDP. In general the debt ratio declines during Democratic federal administrations. It has declined the most rapidly in recent history during the Obama administration. Republicans disagree with this chart, not because it is inaccurate but primarily for the reason mentioned in TODAY’S QUOTE below.

B. Tales of inhumanity:

“The massacre lasted six or eight hours, and a good many Indians escaped. I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized. One squaw was wounded and a fellow took a hatchet to finish her, and he cut one arm off, and held the other with one hand and dashed the hatchet through her brain. One squaw with her two children were on their knees, begging for their lives of a dozen soldiers, within ten feet of them all firing — when one succeeded in hitting the squaw in the thigh, when she took a knife and cut the throats of both children and then killed herself. … They were all horribly mutilated. You would think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate human beings as they did.”

Capt. Silas Soule was at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864 the day Col. John Chivington and 700 volunteers attacked the peaceful Cheyenne-Arapahoe village on the Colorado Plains killing 150 of them. Soule refused to fight that day and wrote a letter about the massacre from which the portion quoted above was taken.

After the battle, the soldiers cut off the breasts of the women and the scrotums of the men to make into tobacco pouches that they then traded at the fort where they were stationed on their return.

Soule later testified against Chivington and was murdered soon after.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There are two types of Republicans, the rich and the stupid. The rich ones strive to keep the stupid ones stupid and the stupid ones strive to keep the rich ones rich.”
by frankzappatista

 

TODAY’S CHART:

by-2017-users-in-asia-will-collectively-consume-more-data

Perhaps one of the more significant charts of the year. It indicates an almost exponential near-term growth in mobile communications and data traffic. If mobile communication and data availability represents an increase in individual opportunity for success, we are looking for at least a short-term balancing of the current negative trends in the world’s economy.

On the other hand, if this chart is attempting to imply a shift in data growth and thereby power, it is as misleading as hell. From the chart one would assume that data growth and power is inevitably shifting towards what they describe as Asia-Pacific.

First, the chart itself except for MEA, does not indicate any significant percentage shift among the regions. The relationships seem to have more to do with population growth and market maturity than anything else.

More importantly the choices of regions identified is as bizarre as it is erroneous and misleading. Europe is as much a part of Asia as any other part of that massive continent. If the reason for excluding Europe from the rest of Asia is not geographic but for other historical and sociological reasons, then lumping the rest of Asia together makes no sense.

By whatever measures one choses to use (historical, economic, cultural of political) Eurasia more or less can be divided into the following regions:

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE- Europe east of Urals)
The Near and Middle East (NME — NME is not part of Africa)
Central Asia (CA–The “Stans” plus Siberia)
South Asia (SA– India, Bangladesh, Ceylon and the Himalayan countries.)
South East Asia (SEA)
East Asia (EA–Primarily China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.)

To estimate approximate current population distribution:

CEE–700 million +
NME–450 million +
CA–300 million + or –
SA– 1.4 billion +
SEA — 650 million + or-
EA– 1.5 billion +

Although it is a gross overgeneralization, if one were to estimate their relative rates of population growth and their rate of DTG not directly related to technological changes then I would guess we have:

CEE –Stable Population — DTG primarily due to technology.
NME– Fairly Rapid Population Growth– DTG lagging due to politics.
CA–Rapid Population Growth– DTG potential huge but lagging.
SA– Population Growth slowing– DTG still room for expansion.
SEA– Population slowly growing–DTG significant.
EA– Stable Population– DTG primarily due to technology.

With the above changes in the chart one would be better able to use it guess who is winning or losing the data game and where someone can make the most money.

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN0759

The Manneken Pis of Mendocino

 

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Cold Tits 0002 (February 20,2013)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

A. Update:

I wish to thank all of you who have inquired and expressed concern about my health these past few weeks. I appreciate it very much.

Some of you have asked me to update the status of my health. While I am happy to make an amusing story out of it, reporting on it makes me uncomfortable. To no little extent that discomfort is because I know that some of those reading this have suffered through much worse than I have. It is sufficient to report that today I feel better than I did yesterday and that I expect, at least for tomorrow, I will feel better than I do today. After that who knows.

On the other hand, I have no qualms about inflicting on you my rumination about what I see when I now look at myself in the mirror. I have never fully understood why, despite my militant self-centeredness, I have never liked looking at myself in the mirror. Perhaps it was because what I saw reminded me what little I had to be self-centered about.

A few days ago I happened to glance into the mirror and saw an old man looking back at me. Not the aging white male I saw a few weeks ago who struggled to slow the inevitable dimming of his mental and physical abilities, who hoped to see how whatever it was that interested him turned out and, who eagerly looked forward to doing something more, even if whatever it was was still hidden. Instead this old man looking back at me knew that the inevitable was already happening and all that can be done is to make it less uncomfortable, that whatever he wanted to see turn out, he probably would not, even if he lived for another 30 years. And, the urge to do something had been replaced with the all-encompassing satisfaction that comes from sitting on a park bench with his eyes closed and feeling the warm sun on his face.

B. A mysterious box:

Despite the lingering effects of the bad cold I had been experiencing, Hayden and I traveled with Stevie and Norbert to spend President’s day weekend in Mendocino with my sister MaryAnn and her husband George. Hayden and I stayed in the converted water tower on their property that we called “The Castle.”

Every morning he and I would get up earlier that the others and walk along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean watching the dawn sunlight march across the fields. On the second morning while walking through a wind-twisted mass of cypress trees that we called the “Hobbit Forest,” Hayden, as seven-year old boys often do, suddenly thrust his hand deeply on to a hollow log adjacent to the path upon which we were walking. Picturing poisonous spiders and snakes poised to chomp on his fingers, I demanded he get his hand out right away. As with most seven-year old boys, he ignored me and continued to root around until he pulled out a plastic box. Assuming it was part of a load of garbage someone had stashed in the tree, I told him to put it back before he become infected with whatever germs the refuse harbored. Instead he showed the box to me. Since it was translucent, I could see a written piece of paper mentioning an internet site called “Letterboxes North America.” The box, in addition to the note, contained a stamp with the word “live” on it, a small ink pad, a pen and a notebook with several pages of stamps and various messages. Believing it to be a clever example of guerrilla marketing for a craftsmen in nearby Fort Brag, I had him return the box to where he found it.

On the way back from our walk H. insisted we retrieve the box and take it back to the house; which we did and woke up Maryann and George to show them our treasure. Ultimately, through the wonders of the internet, we learned that we had stumbled on a cache placed there by a member of a loose association of people world-wide who hide these boxes so that other people can find them.

Apparently this all started 160 years ago in Dartmoor England where a gentleman hiking the moors thereabouts finished a bottle of whatever he was drinking and rather than simply discarding it, put a message in it and hid it in a tree. Other people who found the bottle and the message began to put their own messages in the bottle, including self-addressed post cards. Other bottles began appearing in various places around the moor and then ultimately world-wide. There is now even a web-site for the US.

We spent the next two days delightedly joining in, naming ourselves Team Haystack in honor of Hayden and searching out another box hidden by someone named, “Casper Ukulele” who had hidden a box under the stairs at the Casper Community Center.

DSCN0792

Hayden finds the letterbox.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s breath:

“Yes,’ Spade growled. ‘And when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it.’ He released Cairo’s wrist and with a thick open hand struck the side of his face three times savagely.
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

Chapter 4:

I slunk down into the back seat of the taxi, my computer clutched to my chest as though it contained my soul. All I could see out the windows were the tops of the buildings going by and a glimpse now and then of the sky.

I was conflicted. On the one hand I made my monthly nut, and was now sitting here in the taxi with $1350 more than I had about an hour or so ago. On the other-hand, I was still shaking and in pain from my injured jaw. The money seemed inadequate recompense to being slapped around and threatened with death.

As usual when I am conflicted, frightened or riding in the back of a taxi trying to hide in the car’s transmission, I resort to bathing my consciousness in the soothing balm of fantasy: In this case Sam Spade fantasy, since I had thought about him briefly just before entering the building where I got my ass kicked. The Bogart Spade, not the little shit Segal who played Spade’s son in “The Black Bird.”

I admit I also liked Ricardo Cortez who played Sam in the first film. I especially liked the pre-code scene of the naked blond Bebe Daniels splashing about in the bath-tub while Sam tried to get rid of Iva Archer his murdered partner’s wife who he was also doing on the side.

I think Bebe Daniels as Bridget O’Shaughnessey was a lot better looking than Mary Astor. On the other hand, as a result of the censors, the pre-code exposed nipples of the boy-breasts favored by the stars of the depression era were replaced in the forties and fifties by inflated melons pressing against the straining fabric hiding their nips. This provided a whole generation of adolescent males with guilt-ridden bathroom diversions until in the sixties when Playboy showed us we could have both exposed nipples and bazungas with which to occupy our prime fantasy time.

Bogart-Spade would never let himself be slapped around like I was. Once he graduated from bad-guy supporting roles where I recall him at one time being slapped around by Edward G. Robinson, to leading man, I do not think Bogart ever got slapped around again. Usually he was doing the slapping. Which was a good trick for a skinny smart-mouth to pull off.

I’m sure Bogart would never shit his pants either. I could see that idiot Segal doing so. I pictured Bogart on the can wearing a white sleeveless undershirt, a fedora perched on his head, a cigarette hanging from his lip, one eye closed from the smoke, reading the San Francisco Chronicle. His pressed white cotton boxers riding on his knees, not dropped to bunch-up around his ankles and drag on the floor. Another thing, I am sure Bogart was never constipated. He would sit there as smooth and untroubled as can be, as though he had just swallowed a bottle of mineral oil.

Bogart was a man’s man. While filming “The African Queen” while all the other cast members suffered from dysentery, Bogart remained more or less healthy because he only drank whiskey. Like many men’s men, Bogart’s drinking and smoking resulted in him dying of cancer at the relatively young age of 57. That’s how you can tell a man’s man. After they breed, they kill themselves with booze, tobacco, guns or STD. You can always tell if you are in man’s country. If there are a lot of old men around, you know the whole society has gone pussy. Alas, I only smoke weed, am afraid of guns, use a condom and I throw-up if I am forced to drink Chardonnay. I believe I am doomed to spend the rest of my life hiding out on the floor of a taxi. I feel a lot more like Joel Cairo than Sam Spade.

Now that little dick Segal, he definitely was not a man’s man. He is still alive at 79. He always looked constipated, especially in that dud of a movie, The Black Bird. I pictured him leaning forward grunting; his face red with effort, crumpled blue boxers bunched around his sagging black socks and scuffed dark oxfords. He wasn’t even wearing an undershirt. UGH!

My reverie drifted away as it began to dawn on me that, in my terror and shame, I spent the last ten minutes of my life hiding from my panic and humiliation among images of grown men taking a shit. As the black hole of depression yawned wide below me into which should I fall I was convinced I would never emerge, I heard a voice calling me back from the brink.

“We’re here pal.”

It was the pal part that got to me. I realized for the first time that the driver of the taxi was white. My sense of reality was shredded completely. I threw him some money and ran into the building hoping the comfort of home would offer some protection from my impending physical and moral dissolution.

About twenty years ago, it an effort to gentrify SOMA, some enterprising developers bought up a few abandoned warehouses, turned them into lofts and sold them mostly to downtown businessmen for hideaways. I bought into the whole idea. It was great for a while.

As I opened the door, my cell phone vibrated against my hip. It had the same effect on me that the sounds flowing from the towers of Notre Dame had on the citizens of Paris when Quasimodo swung from the bells to taunt them.

DAILY FACTOID:

Recently:

“Max Planck comes up with an equation that works. In order to do so he has to make a “purely formal assumption.” And it is only half a decade later that Einstein realizes that the little h that appears in Max Planck’s equation is not a formal assumption or an “artifact” but instead tells us what is perhaps the most important thing about the guts of the universe.

For half a decade the first equation of quantum theory was there. But nobody knew how to read it.

It is this “what if we took this equation seriously?” factor that is, to my mind at least, the spookiest thing about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics. Take the h in Max Planck’s equation seriously, and you have the quantum principle–something that was not in Planck’s brain when he wrote the equation down. Take seriously the symmetry in Maxwell’s equations between the force generated when you move a magnet near a wire and the force and the force generated when you move a wire near a magnet, and you have Special Relativity–something that was not in Maxwell’s brain when he wrote down the equation. Take Newton’s gravitational force law’s equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass seriously and you have General Relativity–something never in Newton’s mind. And take the mathematical pathology at r = 2M in the Schwarzchild metric for the space-time metric around a point mass seriously, and you have black holes and event horizons.”
Brad De Long

One of the clearer expositions of how the “mathematics” of science actually works in practice. In other words, sometimes mathematicians and physicists have no idea what their equations really mean at the time they formulate them. That is what is truly freaky about mathematics when applied to physical phenomena. It works even when we do not know it.

Another example is that of Kepler when he proposed the three laws of motion among heavenly bodies that began modern mathematical physics. He believed he was “proving” God created harmonic relations among heavenly bodies. It was Newton years later who realized what Kepler actually proved was how and why things moved in nature. Go figure.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

state_tax_by_income_level

State taxes are usually regressive. The poor and the middle class pay substantially more than the rich. That is part of the reason why, even if we include the more progressive federal income tax, the rich often pay less in taxes overall as a share of total income than the poor. That is also why, no matter what the so-called “proper” role of government may be or how small we make government, the rich still pay less of their income and substantially less of their wealth to support those expenditures than do the poor and middle classes [the 99%].

A point about income and wealth with reference to rich and poor or what we now call the “middle class.” In fact today in America it can be said that if you are not rich you are poor. The differences among those poor is between those that suffer from want and those that do not. Politics in the US in the early part of the Twenty-first Century can be described as based upon how many of those poor who do not suffer want [the middle class] can be persuaded that they are better off taking from those poor in want than from the rich [it certainly is easier].

Taxes, in the US at least, fall almost exclusively on income. The disparity between the rich and those not so rich is significantly greater in terms of wealth than in income, yet on this they are taxed hardly at all. In fact even a minor flat tax on wealth would rapidly eliminate any deficit concerns one may have no matter ones feelings regarding the “proper” size of government [It would also force the wealthy to convert, non productive wealth to productive income producing assets]. In fact, not only is wealth generally not taxed in the US but income from wealth [e.g. dividends and capital gains] are generally taxed at a significantly lesser rate than income from labor or work. The effect of this is to increase the value of wealth and lower the value of labor.

The only major taxes that can be considered to apply to wealth are “property” taxes and “excise” taxes on luxury purchases. As for property taxes, in many jurisdictions they do not exist or are at best nominal. In California thanks to Proposition 13 they are rigged to favor large landowners [generally the wealthy].

Keep in mind, even if we were to all agree that the proper role of government was restricted to just defense and public safety, the current tax system is destined to inevitably lead to you losing your job and becoming poorer and a few [along with those they deem necessary for their happiness] having it all. These few fortunate people used to be called “royalty.” Today as a result of political semantic shell games they may be called something like “job creators.” Soon enough, one’s ability to enter the world of this economic élite will be as rare as a Thirteenth Century serf becoming the Duke of Gloucester.

B. Republican Chronicles:

1. What Republicans used to think about Labor Day:

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Before the Republican Party went insane.

2. What Republicans think about their own Party:

“When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”
Barry Goldwater

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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Burger was a conservative Republican.

TODAY’S CHART:

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I know most of you have wondered about this. Although no animal can run at the top speed indicated for more that a few minutes (if that much), only humans can run at as much as 1/3 top speed almost indefinitely. In other words, almost every land based animal on earth can, in the long run, be run down by humans.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

A. Portrait of a painting:

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B. Portrait of my sister:

photo

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Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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