Posts Tagged With: Diskworld

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. October 24, 2011




Comments on the flooding from my friend, the well-known ex-pat mystery writer Christopher Moore:

“News reports of cracks in flood walls, high tide on Monday, an unstoppable wall of water moving from the North and West into Bangkok, possible evacuation of FROC to Chon Buri. This is a long weekend in Thailand. Many have gone to Hua Hin or Pattaya. There is a nervous edge as people brace for a water world with food and water shortages, power blackouts, shutting down of transport and banking. It may be outside the power of government to prevent the flooding of Bangkok. No one can predict the amount of damage or the length of time before things resume to normal or what will emerge on the other side of this drama.”


Christine Lagarde, a partner of mine during my time at Baker and McKenzie

Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and now head of IMF, has recently announced that the IMF would no longer be willing to pick up a third of the total bill for rescuing Greece unless European banks were prepared to write off 50 per cent of Greek debt.

At last someone in power is willing to start the only sensible strategy for ending the debt crisis, default. The banks need to assume some responsibility and suffer significant losses instead of imposing them solely on the general public alone.


After lunch, my friend Pino who owns the restaurant in Belden Alley (along with four others) that Mike and I sat at, joined us and treated us to an ungodly number of rounds of grappa while we discussed Pino’s ongoing conflict with the Shorenstein Company,” that owns the adjacent parcel and intends to build a hotel complex using Belden Alley as the entrance to the garage.

Mike and I walked back toward his office where we parted and I headed to the tram to return home. Being befogged as I was from the grappa, I found myself in the midst of the “Occupy” protest in front of the Federal Reserve building in downtown San Francisco where I made several unrequested speeches on their behalf before hopping on the trolley.

The Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries o...

The Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries on the San Francisco Bay and an upscale shopping center located on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. The Bay Bridge can be seen in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next day I had lunch with another colleague, Bob Uram, at “the Slanted Door a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in the restored Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Bob is one of the better attorney’s that I know. His ability to deal in the nether world between the law and the ambiguity of administrative agencies is almost mystical. We sat outside at a table overlooking the Bay and the arriving and departing ferry boats and talked about things past.

On Friday morning I left SF to travel again to Sacramento, this time to go camping with Hayden, Joey the male maid and his adopted children James and John. Upon arriving in Sacramento, Norbert and Stevie met me at the train station with a sleeping bag they were loaning me for my adventure into the woods. They kindly drove me from Sacramento to El Dorado hills where I met my companions in the escapade, Joey (the new male maid), James (6 years old) and John (11) his adopted children and Hayden.

We roared off in Joey’s large extended cab late-model pick up heading toward the Sierras, stopping briefly in Placerville to hook up a large camper trailer to the truck. After about an hour or two we had climbed to about 5000 feet, deep into the land of the giant ponderosa and sugar pines, incense cedar and sequoia. We discovered that all the public campgrounds were closed for budgetary reasons, so we settled into an old private campground named Ice House Camp. Like most old private campgrounds in the Sierra it was best described as a slum in the forest. Its guano caked picnic tables more resembled kindling than something to eat at. The BBQ’s and fire pits were rusting back into the ground. On the other hand the trees that were no higher than shrubs when the campground was created on a part of the forest that had at that time been recently clear-cut, had now grown to cathedral-like splendor.

After downing a spaghetti dinner prepared by Joey on the stove in the trailer, we ineffectually attempted to start a fire in the fire pit that only succeeded when I donated my supply of newspapers and tissue paper to the attempt. We then sat around the flames toasting marshmallows. Surprising for me was the discovery that the new style marshmallows were not those one rounded square inch or so of congealed sugar, but have now ballooned into bricks of more that two inches on a side. Instead of biting through the bitter burned outer layer os sugar to get at the sweet warm mass at the center, these new super-sized marshmallows required consuming the burned outer layers and returning the unmelted and unheated layers to the fire to be toasted again.

The boys made s’mores. For those unfamiliar with s’mores, as I understand it northern California takes credit for their invention. They consist of pressing between two Grahame Crackers the freshly melted Marshmallow and a piece chocolate.

While staring at Hayden across the fire I was saddened by the realization that our relationship was soon to change. As his personality and approach to life are becoming set, my feeble attempts to aid him are becoming irrelevant and so things change and I must get on with my life. I washed all this, the bitter thoughts and the taste of burned marshmallow, down with an entire bottle of Amador Zinfandel.
Following devouring those gourmet desserts, at a request of the boys for a ghost story, I told one about the Sierra Creeper who snuck into the world from the darkness when Coyote opened up a slit in the darkness to allow the first people into the world. Then we went to bed in the trailer.

The next morning while Joey prepared a breakfast of scrambled eggs and chorizo, the children went fishing and my nose froze because the temperature had sunk down to the high thirties.

After breakfast, we drove to a relatively secluded spot where Hayden changed into his cameo outfit and Joey and the boys unlimbered their BB-guns and Pellet gun and took target practice at some tin cans and then marched off into the forest ostensibly to hunt some inoffensive tiny creäture or birds. Fortunately the innocent creatures seemed much more clever than the pseudo-hunters.

I remained behind leaning against a rock taking in the sun with my eyes closed. It all felt so manly that I soon trudged off into the woods to shit and wipe myself with pine needles (having burned all the tissue last night)

Below is a photographs of the crew at target practice. Given my feelings about guns, warfare and killing, I find it difficult even looking at the picture. It frightens me. I see no heroism in it, only the death of loved ones, yours or someone else’s.



Chapter: Fat Al’s Fantasy:

Fat Al wondered how best to acquire the background information about Red Star and the rest that Vince asked for. His musings were interrupted with visions of Isabella Yeung. Although happily married for 28 years, he was neither above nor beyond fantasizing. And, Isabella was something around which many fantasies could be built. She had challenged him, following the debacle that accompanied the last time he tried to tail her, to call her if he wanted to know her whereabouts, instead of engaging in a version of spy vs spy satire. So, taking her invitation as an excuse, he decided to call her before calling his other contacts.

She answered the first ring and in her deep throaty voice asked “What can I do for you Mr. Pischotti?”

A brief frission of excitement accompanied his surprise at her recognition of his number.

“Yes, how are you Ms Yeung,” he said lamely? “I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. I thought your request that I contact you included some information as well as your whereabouts.”

“Well, it didn’t,” she said. “But, what is it you want to know. If I know the answer I might tell it to you.”

“Thank you. I am trying to find out all I can about a company named ‘Red Star.'”

“Are you asking this on behalf of Vincent Biondi,” she enquired.

“Yes I am.”

Forty-five minutes later Fat Al closed the connection, leaned back in his chair and let out a sound somewhere between a sigh and groan.

He then began dialing up his friends and informers in the public safety and security agencies to try to verify the troubling information he had just received.


a. I didn’t know that:

Q: Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?
A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

b. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

God is still vacationing in Pattaya.

c. News from Diskworld:

1. The Wit, Wisdom and Sometimes Discomfort of Sir Samuel Vimes.

“A Blackboard Monitor: One who can erase the writings, somebody who can rub out what is there.”

2. Snippets from ‘Unggue Theology,’ by Pastor Oats.

“…in reality, most goblins observe the Unggue Had – what one might term the common and lax form of Unggue – which encompasses earwax, finger and toenail clippings, and snot. Water, generally speaking, is reckoned as not unggue, but something which goes through the body without ever being part of it: they reason that there is no apparent difference in the water before or after, as it were (which sadly shines a light on the freshness of the water they encounter in their underground lairs). Similarly feces are considered to be food that has merely undergone a change of state. Surprisingly, teeth are of no interest to the goblins, who look upon them as a type of fungus, and they appear to attach no importance to hair, of which, it has to be said they seldom have very much.”

3. Aphorisms from the Oblong Office:

“In short, a certain amount of harmless banditry amongst the lower classes is to be smiled upon if not actively encouraged, for the health of the city, but what should we do when the highborn and wealthy take to crime? Indeed if a poor man will spend a year in prison for stealing out of hunger, how high would the gallows need to be to hang the rich man who breaks the law out of greed?”
Lord Vetinari

d. Testosterone Chronicles:

“Sicarius… celebrated the feast of the Nativity… with Austrighiselus and the other neighbors…. The priest… sent a boy to invite some of the men to come to his house for a drink. When the boy got there, one of the men he invited drew his sword and did not refrain from striking him. He fell down and was dead…. Sicarius… took his arms and went to the church to wait for Austrighiselus. The latter heard about this and armed himself…. [B]oth parties suffered harm…. Sicarius got away unnoticed… made for his homestead… leaving behind… his silver, his clothes, and four of his servants who had been wounded. After he had fled, Austrighiselus broke into the building, killed the servants, and took away with him the gold, the silver, and the other things. When they appeared later before the people’s court, the sentence was that Austrighiselus was to pay the legal penalty for manslaughter…. Sicarius, forgetting about these arrangements… broke the peace… invaded the home, killed father, brother, and son, and having done away with the servants took all their belongings and their cattle. When we heard this, we grew greatly perturbed…”
Gregory, Bishop of Tours.

“Perturbed?” Freaked out is more likely I would think.

e. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

In my previous e-mail I mentioned that the author Furst was a classmate of Ruth’s. Actually he went to a nearby school but they had gone to camp together. My apologies to all concerned.




Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. October 18, 2011


Please see the blog:

Another example why the Republican candidates for President are so difficult to parody.

“Look at the political base of the Democratic Party: it is single mothers who run a household. Why? Because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two parent families, you eliminate that desire for government.”
Candidate Rick Santorum.

A few weeks back, I was thinking about writing a campaign piece on abortion where I suggest that the Republicans may wish to reconsider their position since the well off [mostly Republicans] have always been able to secure an abortion when they wanted one, but the poor [mostly Democrats] would be forced to birth new voters for that reviled party. I did not do so because I did not think it was credible. I may reëxamine that.


–The US has 5% of the world’s population — but almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure.
–The Pentagon budget consumes 80% of individual income tax revenue.
–America’s defense spending doubled in the same period that its economy shrunk from 32 to 23 percent of global output.
–Defense spending is higher today than at any time since the height of World War II.
–The total known land area occupied by US bases and facilities is 15,654 square miles — bigger than DC, Massachusetts, and New Jersey combined.
–America spends more on its military than THE NEXT 15 COUNTRIES COMBINED.

Debt reduction begins here.


Thailand: Heavy rains in Thailand during September and October have led to extreme flooding that has killed 283 people and caused that nation’s most expensive natural disaster in history. On Tuesday, Thailand’s finance minister put the damage from the floods at $3.9 billion. This makes the floods of 2011 the most expensive disaster in Thai history, surpassing the $1.3 billion price tag of the November 27, 1993, flood. (See photograph below.)

English: Protesters at the Occupy Wall Street ...

 Protesters at the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Occupy”: The protests not only have gone global, they even have begun to penetrate into small US cities like Santa Rosa California*. Still, the press coverage remains more meager than it would be for a 10 person Tea Party gathering in Youngstown.

When they are forced to cover an “Occupy” event the press reports inevitably focus on either the reporters supposed confusion about “what do they want,”** or on the dress of the protestors, as though dressing in comfortably old clothing for sitting on sidewalks or marching is somehow weirder then dressing up in an Uncle Sam costume.

* Other cities in California with “Occupy,” protests include: Arcata, Berkeley, Chico, Coachella, Costa Mesa, El Centro, Eureka, Fresno, Hollister, Irvine, Long Beach, Los Angeles , Merced, Modesto, Napa, Oakland, Redding, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Diego,San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Ukiah, Ventura and Walnut Creek.

**For those more interested in discovering what the occupiers want rather than reveling in smugly regurgitating a Fox News meme, a recent NY Times editorial is a good place to start —


“At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity.

The jobless rate for college graduates under age 25 has averaged 9.6 percent over the past year; for young high school graduates, the average is 21.6 percent. Those figures do not reflect graduates who are working but in low-paying jobs that do not even require diplomas. Such poor prospects in the early years of a career portend a lifetime of diminished prospects and lower earnings — the very definition of downward mobility.

The protests, though, are more than a youth uprising. The protesters’ own problems are only one illustration of the ways in which the economy is not working for most Americans. They are exactly right when they say that the financial sector, with regulators and elected officials in collusion, inflated and profited from a credit bubble that burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, incomes, savings and home equity. As the bad times have endured, Americans have also lost their belief in redress and recovery.

The initial outrage has been compounded by bailouts and by elected officials’ hunger for campaign cash from Wall Street, a toxic combination that has reaffirmed the economic and political power of banks and bankers, while ordinary Americans suffer.

Extreme inequality is the hallmark of a dysfunctional economy, dominated by a financial sector that is driven as much by speculation, gouging and government backing as by productive investment.

When the protesters say they represent 99 percent of Americans, they are referring to the concentration of income in today’s deeply unequal society. Before the recession, the share of income held by those in the top 1 percent of households was 23.5 percent, the highest since 1928 and more than double the 10 percent level of the late 1970s.

That share declined slightly as financial markets tanked in 2008, and updated data is not yet available, but inequality has almost certainly resurged. In the last few years, for instance, corporate profits (which flow largely to the wealthy) have reached their highest level as a share of the economy since 1950, while worker pay as a share of the economy is at its lowest point since the mid-1950s.

Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its aftermath have only accelerated the decline.

Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills, including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans.

No wonder then that Occupy Wall Street has become a magnet for discontent. There are plenty of policy goals to address the grievances of the protesters — including lasting foreclosure relief, a financial transactions tax, greater legal protection for workers’ rights, and more progressive taxation. The country needs a shift in the emphasis of public policy from protecting the banks to fostering full employment, including public spending for job creation and development of a strong, long-term strategy to increase domestic manufacturing.

It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.”


To make it all even more simple, the “Occupy” movement seeks to remind the nation and the world of the age-old demand of Economic Populism, that it is the power and duty of the government to intervene to protect the economic security of ordinary citizens where through forces beyond their control they are unable to do so individually.

We should never forget that the Constitution directs the government to defend its citizens from its enemies both foreign and domestic. Who can be conceived of as a greater domestic enemy than someone who seeks to deny his fellow citizen of the bare minimum of a job that pay’s a living wage?


This morning before breakfast, I went on a long walk with Norbert while towing his grandchildren Madeline and Henry in a wagon behind us. After breakfast, spent mostly watching the grandparents popping up out of their chairs to retrieve one or another of the children from climbing over, under, around and upon something, I listened along with the children to Stevie’s vigorous reading of “Green Eggs and Ham,” one of my very all time favorites.

In the evening Norbert, Stevie and I drove to El Dorado Hills to see Hayden’s basketball game. It seemed to me that the other players on his team avoided passing the ball to him, I suspect because he spent much of the game falling on the floor, dancing and running up and down the floor with his shirt over his head. Nevertheless obviously frustrated with his teammates failure to understand the subtlety of his behavior, he grabbed the throw-in intended for another member of the team, dribbled the length of the court, threw the ball up toward the basket and scored just as the buzzer sounded.

Following a pleasant day beginning with the Niners 25 to 17 victory over the previously undefeated Detroit Lions and through to a delightful dinner with the Dalls, as I prepared for bed,I received the news that my mom suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. I am writing this as I sit on the train returning me to the Bay Area.





Chapter: Vincent Furioso (cont.)

Shortly after getting off of the phone with Isabella as he was just getting into the detritus of paper work littering his desk, Dave Kitchen burst into his office shouting, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Vince?”

“Well, hello to you too, David,” said Vince. “I think I am trying to get some work done. What’s up with you?”

It was just about all Vince could do with what little self-control he had to avoid laughing at the sight of his partner. David looked to him like someone had jammed a tire pump up his ass and he was about to pop.

“We already have a management committee, in case you forgot. What right do you think you have to simply ignore us?”

“The right you gave me when you and every other member of the committee signed my employment contract when I was hired.”

David stood there in front of the of Vince’s old dented grey metal desk, blinked a few times than said, “We never intended to authorize this type of action. Had we known, I am sure we never would have agreed. If you continue with this you will have a revolt of the partners on your hands.”

“Let’s let the partners decide, shall we? It is a partnership after all.” He responded. “And besides I fully intend to appoint at least one member of the previous committee to the interim committee. I thought perhaps that you would be the most likely. In that way you could keep an eye on things.” “And I can keep an eye on you,” he thought.

Following some veiled threats and incoherent arguments that almost led Vince into the kind of shouting match that to his shame and embarrassment he felt most comfortable in, David left in the proverbial huff. Vince returned to the paperwork, emails and telephone calls regarding the minutia that characterizes the fundamental work of management of any organization. The dreams anyone may have of taking bold and innovative actions as they climb higher up the administrative ladder inevitably gets buried under mounds of trivia. But is usually pays more, in compensation for collapsing ones dreams under the dross of reality.

Vince worked through lunch and into the early afternoon when suddenly Nina burst into his office. “Great news, Charlie Bowman has been found. He had been lost n the woods, but found a hunter’s cabin where he stayed until he could figure out how to find his way out. He is flying back to the City this afternoon.

Vince wondered if this was good news at all.


a. I didn’t know that:

Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch or clink the host’s glass with his own.

b. Human “Fingerprints” on Recent Climate Change:

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

“These are behaviors that can be made illegal, and should be made illegal: those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral — that means it’s perfectly appropriate to have laws against what the law calls fornication, absolutely appropriate to make that illegal; men who practice homosexuality, perfectly permissible — in fact, we’re directed, we’re told in the Scriptures that it’s a good idea, this is the purpose of the law, it’s for the lawless and disobedient to engage in homosexuality — it’s perfectly appropriate for that kind of behavior to be against the law.”
Bryan Fischer, fundamentalist religious leader and strong supporter of the Republican Party.

Again, parody escapes me.

d. News from Diskworld:

1. The Wit, Wisdom and Sometimes Discomfort of Sir Samuel Vimes.

“Where there are policemen there’s crime…”

2. Snippets from ‘Unggue Theology,’ by Pastor Oats.

“The goblin experience of the world is the cult or perhaps religion of Unggue. It is a remarkably complex resurrection-based religion founded on the sanctity of bodily fluids. Its central tenet runs as follows: everything that is expelled from a goblin’s body was clearly once part of them and should, therefore, be treated with reverence and stored properly so that it can be entombed with its owner in the fullness of time, In the meantime the material is stored in unggue pots, remarkable creations…”

3. Aphorisms from the Oblong Office.

“…the lion may lie down with the lamb, even if only the lion is likely to get up again, but the lion will not lay down with the rat.”
Lord Vetinari

e. Lest we forget:

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

I refuse to apologize for anything today. Tomorrow, well, I may reconsider.


“There is absolutely no reason — well, no good reason — why the United States should continue to keep pumping its money, its heart’s blood, into the lifeless corpse that the financial industry has become. These zombie banks have already acknowledged that they need the government to keep bailing them out in order to continue doing business. When someone has so screwed up their company that it can no longer exist without continuous, massive government subsidies, then – I’m sorry — there’s no longer a place for that company in America. (It’s not me, Mr. Bankster . . . it’s the free market. I’m just enforcing the rules.)”
swellsman, To Hell With the 1% – The Case for Debt Forgiveness



Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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