Posts Tagged With: El Dorado Hills

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 JoJo 0006 (May 28, 2017)

 

“Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.”
Horowitz, Anthony. The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (p. 54). Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY’S TO MY BELOVED DAUGHTER JESSICA, MY FABULOUS BROTHER IN LAW GEORGE DREAPER, NIKKI REFFO, AND NEAL FISHMAN.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO TOM AND KATHLEEN ON THEIR UPCOMING WEDDING.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:
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A. FUNERAL

On May 18, we held my mom’s funeral at St. Ann’s Home in San Francisco. Although a sad occasion, I felt uplifted and a sense of closure due primarily to my sister and George’s efforts. They made the event a celebration of her life with a display of memorabilia, photographs, my mom’s artworks and with their eulogies — especially Maryann’s (see below).

I drove to SF the day before the funeral and spent the night at Peter and Barrie’s house. Because El Dorado Hills is such a silent place, I had an excess of words bundled up inside of me which, in an unbroken monolog of stories, observations, comments, and opinions that I spread across the floors of the house until I emptied myself. Then, exhausted and slightly embarrassed I trundled off to bed.

At the funeral the next day, I was pleasantly surprised by who showed up. Of course, my sister, her family, and a few of their friends were there including one of whom traveled all the way down from Mendocino. My son Jason and his family, Annmarie and the grandchildren were there also. Peter and Barrie attended along with Kathleen Foote (outside of family members, Kathleen and Ruth Galanter are the women I have known the longest), and Bob Uram, my partner at Shepard Mullen and one of the nation’s best environmental lawyers. In a welcome surprise, Don Neuwirth who I had not seen for over 20 years also dropped by.

The funeral brochure included a beautiful poem written by Ruth:

Teresa Petrillo departed this earth
Leaving grief and relief among those she gave birth.

To watch someone aging is hard while you do it;
In some ways as hard as yourself going through it.

So much as you’ll miss her, remember she’s free
And keep all her stories in your memory.

Teresa was tough, as her tough life required
To raise her three children. She should be admired!

And so as she passes from this life to next
Let’s think of her life in its broader context:

An immigrant child when few folks had phones,
She lived to see spying conducted by drones!

She had strong opinions, as all of you know,
And it’s likely that she chose the time she would go.

And so as she passes, remember her strength,
Tell others her story, but not at great length,

Be glad that you knew her because there’s no other
Relationship quite like a child with its mother.

Be sure as she’s watching from heaven above
That she sees you with pride and, above all, with love.

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My mother as a young woman.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

After a brief reception at Annmarie’s, I returned to EDH. The next day, too exhausted to move much, I stayed in the house and rested.

The sun has begun its annual baking of the Golden Hills transforming them from spring green to summer gold. The skies, now and then dotted with cottony clouds, have turned deep blue.
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Clouds over the health club pool.

My doctors seem to think I am doing well and continue to try to persuade me that my complaints of various pains and physical difficulties are simply signs that I am recovering. In fact, I do feel a bit better and have begun to eat and exercise more. In addition to swimming, my exercise consists primarily of seemingly endless walks around the lakes in City Center. To avoid collapsing and expiring from ennui in the middle of the path during those walks, I have taken to talking to and arguing with myself. This I suspect is a sign of terminal mental breakdown.

Along the walkways, wild grape vines have taken over the landscape like kudzu vines take over a forest. Depending on how I feel that day, I am either happy to be strolling between those lush green walls or terrified that the twisted tendrils reaching out will grab me and swallow me up. I think I am becoming delusional. Perhaps, I have been so for a while now.
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C. MENDOCINO:

Having had enough of the excitement of the golden hills, I set off to spend the Memorial Day weekend with my sister and George. I took a different route than usual. I traveled along Route 5 up the Central Valley and then along State Route 20 to Ft. Bragg. Although this route was slightly longer in miles and did not avail itself of as much freeway n my usual way, once past Sacramento I avoided the traffic slowdowns at the Yolo Causeway, Davis, Route 37, Petaluma and Santa Rosa cutting my actual driving time by two hours — even with stopping for a pleasant walk along the shores of Clear Lake.
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Since arriving in Mendocino, I have gone for walks along the coast, eaten well, napped a lot, and talked at length with Mary and George. Some friends of their son Brendan arrived to scout out sites for a music video. I suggested a few likely places that I was aware of and thought might fit their needs and they trundled off to look at them. The next day they left leaving Mary, George, and I to face the weekend.

 

D. JERRY SMITH:

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On May 7, 2017, Jerry Smith passed away. He had been my boss and a great friend. Jerry had been a California State Senator. He carried the California Coastal Act of 1976 to passage. I was his committee consultant responsible for shepherding the bill drafting and negotiating with the various interest involved. Together, we also passed a major revision of CEQA, Victims of Crime rights, and several other significant pieces of legislation.

Following eight years in the Senate, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Appellate Court. Upon his retirement from the court, Jerry became a consultant to countries seeking to reform their judicial systems.

Later, he became a well-known local sculptor whose work appears in many public places in Santa Clara Valley. In the photograph below, Jerry stands near his bronze sculpture of St. Cardinal Bellarmine at Santa Clara University. I think of everything, he loved being an artist best.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Mary Anne on Top:

 

1. The Entrepreneurial Mindset and Women’s Empowerment.

My sister wrote an interesting article in a local Mendocino publication about entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment the first two paragraphs of which I especially liked.

 

CELEBRATING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET
By Mary Anne Petrillo, Executive Director West Company

The youngest daughter of the first born son of a patriarchal New York Italian family generally does not stray far from home. But somehow a crack occurred in the continuum of the universe and at the age of 16, my father gave me his blessing to travel to California to visit my oldest brother. The year was 1974. What I and my family did not know at that time, was that my brother was bushwhacking his way up and down the California coast using his legal chops to save the coast from development. Shortly after my arrival he put me on a Greyhound bus and said go to Mendocino it’s like nothing you have ever seen, it will change your life. Arriving at midnight, it was not until morning light broke when I walked outside to see the Pacific Ocean in all its glory for the first time. The experience did change my life because I knew, as only one does when they feel a physical transformation that I would one day live here. Two years later I was in California. Thirty years later Mendocino became my home.

But the journey from then to now was more than just a location swap. When I arrived in California it was the 80’s and anybody with a little bit of knowledge, some office space, and a telephone could open up shop and start a business. I jumped in and joined the fray. Business was booming. There were no PC’s no internet and no social media. Cold calling was king. Big shoulder pads, a briefcase, and a business card was all the armor you needed. I ran my own business, hired staff, and fired staff, balanced checkbooks, and embraced the technology vortex as it radically transformed the work environment and dramatically transformed how we communicated. While I was trying to build my reputation as a woman entrepreneur little did I know there was another woman with a mission laying the groundwork for women empowerment in my future home.
http://realestatemendocino.com/images/REM%20697.pdf

 

 
2. My Sister Mary Anne’s Eulogy for our Mom:

 

For Mom

She was the youngest daughter, born to the oldest son, of a patriarchal Sicilian family
By rights, her place in life should have been secured, as the youngest girl it should have been the life of a princess, but

By age 7, she was an orphan
By 10 she was an indentured servant living in a foreign country, gripped by hunger
By 15 she had found true love and began to believe there was a future
By 16, she lost this love to a tragic death (her next true love would not come for another 63 years)
At 19, she married a man who adored her but was plagued by his own demons and insecurities
Throughout her 20’s and 30’s, she struggled to raise her two sons while fighting off cancer, epilepsy, leukemia, anemia, colitis, ulcers and depression.
At 40, as her middle child lay in a hospital bed struggling to live after a severe car accident, she gave birth to her last child, a daughter
At 50 she learned to drive and received her first paycheck … as a waitress
At 70 she celebrated 50 years of an unhappy marriage
At 80 she found the community of St. Anne’s that brought her the peace of mind and heart she never knew
At 82 she met her second true love and at 84 she lost him
At 85 she picked up a paintbrush for the first time and astounded everyone with her capacity for creativity
At 90 as her mental state precariously rocked between a woman who was for so long was my best friend and cheerleader and a contrarian who sadly saw the glass … half empty

This was the life of Teresa Corsello known to everyone as Terry Petrillo and known to me as mom.

I was the recipient of all she learned of a life that brought endless challenges and also quiet joys. It falls upon me today to speak about my mother to many of you who knew her during only one phase of her life.

Throughout her long life, my mother was many things. She was an incredible cook who always seemed to produce endless amounts of comfort food no matter what time of day you dropped by unannounced. Once during college, I came to her house with a group of friends unexpected and within what seems like minutes there was 10 roasted chickens, 3 green vegetables and 2 yellow vegetables and spaghetti and meatballs followed by cheesecake!

She was what we today might call a fashionista. In her late 50’s she held a sales job at Niemen Marcus. They loved her and she was like a sponge absorbing the latest fashion trends. Her sense of style carried on well into her elder years as she always knew how to put together an outfit. Whether the clothes were bought at the thrift shop or Sak’s Fifth Avenue she intuitively understood color and style.

Long after her children were grown she became a creative force. Brief as this time was in her life she surprised us all with her capacity for creativity. Who knew! Learning first to be hula dancer and then picking up a paint brush at 85 to become an extraordinary painter. Had she lived I have no doubt she would have tried her hand at music and gone on tour with her grandson!

She was a grandmother of the first degree. Loving her grandchildren with abandon. There was no bowl of sugar cereal too big and no ice cream cone too large for her grandkids. As a child, I couldn’t always see the unconditional love my mother gave me but observing her with my children I witnessed a love so profound and so pure that now when I see how confidently my children walk through this world I know it is because of her unbridled love for them.

She, of course, was a mother and wore that role with pride. But she suffered from the Mother’s conundrum which is to raise your children to be fiercely independent so that they stand on their own but then keenly feel the loss of your children once they were gone. There are no recipes to be the perfect mom. And she had few role models to pull from so she relied on the belief that you can never love too much. And love her children she did.

And finally most of all she was a friend. If I close my eyes today and think back on what I witnessed most during my childhood it was the multitude of friends that walked through our tiny apartment. My mother was a confidant. She was the type of person you could tell your troubles to and she never criticized or diminished your need to tell your story. Today we live in an age where so many things vie for our attention. What made my mother unique and why she was such a good friend is because when she was with you she was with you 100% you always felt that you were the most important person there was and she was listening just to you.

She knew when, as a child, I had no friends so she became my best friend. She knew that I loved art but had no role models, so she took me to museums. She didn’t pretend to know art she just took me to the place where it existed. When I had no boyfriends like most teenage girls were supposed to have she never once stopped believing that I would one day find my true love and she knew he would be a good man. And when I made her wait an incredible 10 years before having grandchildren she never chided, guilted or pressured me. She believed in every single one of my choices and never held back in expressing that belief.

She fastened me with wings so that I never once believed there was a situation I could not rise above. The wings she gave me were made of steel, honed by the endless stories of her childhood, her fears, and her failures. Without the benefit of lofty analysis or intellectual pursuits, she took what life lessons she acquired as an immigrant with no family of her own and she spoke her stories to me in the hope that they would somehow protect and prepare me for life.

They have and they will forever more…..

 

 
B. Peter’s Comments on the Previous Issue of T&T:

I galumphed through two gigs yesterday: The first, with the old Beardos, was at the Lilienthal School’s annual Mayfair. Our respective children went there, and one year Barrie was in charge of entertainment for the Fair, which is held in the school yard (fun and fundraising). She said to me: “You’re playing at the Mayfair.” At that time I hadn’t been doing any of that for some time. I replied negatively. Then, of course, she and three other wives/mothers caballed and the four husbands/fathers became the Beardos; this after we actually played at the Fair where no one threw tomatoes and we discovered we had a good time. Followup: the Beardos stayed together and played for eight years; and, we have played at the Mayfair each year for 25 years; yesterday was the silver anniversary. We noticed that the children and most of the adults weren’t around when we first played what became our ‘greatest hits’. Time passes. My morning pain pill and the stool I now sit on to play got me through that one.

Later on, I went over to Emeryville to join the Blind Lemon Pledge folks to celebrate the release of James’s and BLP’s new album, Backwoods Glance. The event was at a place called Strings, a performance venue (an auditorium-like room, with living room feelings, created by an old hippy named Joey). Prior to a downed another pill. I’m now almost out and the doc needs to refill the prescription; he assumed one a day would do; it doesn’t. Limping toward Bethlehem…..

I chose to have the hip surgery in late June because for May and June I have 22 gigs between the two bands. Not a matter of getting it up: rather more, one of getting up in the morning. Fortunately, the recurring necessity of what my grandmother (in a triumph of her pseudo-victorian pretensions) used to call “voiding” drives me to the loo. Down the primrose path to senility…..

Peter’s response to my statement that I am a wuss and complain too much about my infirmities:

Actually not. I noticed the other day that I’m kvetching a bit too much about my current ‘infirmity’; people notice my limp and that sets off the grumble. However, I do not blog. As to others, probably many men are caught in the stiff upper sphincter approach to maintaining their external manliness presentation and remain silent about their various imperfections. Another take on it: On TV, 5-6 pm is prime time for pharmaceutical ads during the news programs. Weird as this may seem, I recently counted 29 different drugs advertised during this one hourly period, such as Eliquis, Premarin, Repatha, Claritin, Flonase, Humira, Xeljanz, etc. Why grumble when you can scarf down an endless chain of pills and be part of Making America Great Again.
I also thank everyone who, in response to the previous issue of T&T, expressed their condolences upon learning of my mother’s passing.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“Whoever would make a name (i.e. glory) loses the name; he who increases not [his knowledge] decreases; whoever learns not [in Ab. R. N. xii.: “who does not serve the wise and learn”] is worthy of death; whoever exploits for his own use the crown (of Torah) perishes” (Avot. 1:13).
Rabbi Hillel

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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From the mid-1950’s. Me and my bud’s from Tuckahoe NY, Charles (“Charlie”) DeVito and Peter (“Sir Rince”) Cirrincione. I am the dork on the far left — Shades of “The Lords of Flatbush,”

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005 ( August 25, 2016)

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005

“Fair is a body pigment, that’s all it is.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 495). Harper Collins.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Because there was no one available to drive me, I drove myself to the hospital. After passing through admitting, I found myself lying on a bed in the pre-op ward. The people involved in the surgery each came by to chat, the nurse, the doctor who wrote all over my body with indelible ink so he would not forget what he was supposed to be doing in the operating room — and the anesthesiologist. I told the latter, “Look, I don’t do pain well. I do not want to see anything, hear anything or feel anything. And, when I wake up, I want to be happy.” “ Happy,” he said, “I understand.”

As they were rolling the bed toward the operating room, anesthesiologist sidled up to us like a schoolyard dope dealer. He was carrying a large hypodermic in one hand. When I asked what it contained, he garbled two polysyllabic words I did not understand, and added, “ Also something I am not allowed to mention.” He then plunged the hypodermic into my IV line and ran off chuckling.

They wheeled me into the operating room and placed the bed next to the wall where I would wait for everything to be made ready. I closed my eyes, after a few moments I became annoyed it was taking so long, so I opened my eyes and said to the nurse, “What’s taking so long?” She said, “The operation’s over, you’re in the recovery room now.” I was very happy. I remained happy the entire evening. I even enjoyed the hospital food. I remained happy three days later as I write this.

I was scheduled to leave the hospital the day after the operation but they would not let me leave unless someone came to drive me home. I tried find someone to do so, but no one was available. I thought I would just sneak out, get in my car and drive home. But, they refused to remove the IV before whoever was driving me showed up. I thought of just ripping it out and making a break for it, but like I said I don’t do pain well. So, I suggested they call a taxi. They did so. The nurse removed the IV to allow me to dress and left to deal with her other patients. I quickly dressed, walked out of the ward and the hospital, got into my car, and drove myself home. When I arrived home, I received a call from the nearly hysterical nurse asking where I had gotten to. I told her that since I saw no one on the ward to accompany me after I dressed, I decided to walk to the reception area to wait for the taxi. There I met some people I knew that kindly drove me home. I suggested she call the taxi company and cancel the ride. Although I was still happy, I was sad about the stress I caused the nice kindly nurse. On the other hand, I was home and I was pleased I did not have to go back to pick up my car.

My euphoria extended to my desires. Things that had been reduced to smokey memory exploded in blazing promise. I guess that makes me now a dirty old goat. There is nothing more reviled than a dirty old goat — no, make that everyone reviles a dirty old goat other than the dirty old goat himself. He knows the condition is ephemeral and temporary like puberty. He knows that to anyone who lived for over 75 years one, two, or three years of anything is just a drop in the bucket of one’s life and the next best thing to meaningless.

After my post op meeting with my doctor next week, I plan to travel to Thailand for a month.

In the meantime, I spend the mornings walking around the lake in Town Center and the afternoons escaping the heat by resting in the house with blinds drawn.
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Town Center Lake

During my morning drive to his new Middle School, HRM makes sure I laugh during the entire trip so that I am diverted from droning on with grandfatherly advice.

There has been a massive earthquake in Italy yesterday. Its epicenter was about 20 miles from my familiy’s towns in Sabina. My son Jason is there now on vacation. I called him. He was ok but they were still feeling the aftershocks. There appeared to be little damage in Casperia or Roccantica where most of the relatives live.
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Casperia

B. WARREN HINCKLE, RIP:

Warren Hinckle died today. Although he gave voice to the political aspirations of the counter-culture of the 1960s, most people from San Francisco would recognize him as the eye-patch wearing journalist-political gadfly who a few weeks before election day would publish a political broadsheet happily skewering most of the candidates.

While I could never say we were friends, over the years we would occasionally meet up and spend a delightful time together drinking heavily and talking deeply. Many of those meetings occurred at an annual Christmas/New Year’s party in a well-known Greek restaurant attended by many of the City’s great, near great and those who thought themselves as great. Hinckle and I would retire to a booth and enjoy a pleasant boozy few hours swapping political tales and scandals. Another time, we sat in the stands together at a Superbowl in Miami when the Niners demolished San Diego and spent much of the second half when the game was far out of reach for SD, gossiping about the peccadilloes’ of the high and the mighty.

While no one would refer to him as kind and gentle, he took such joy in his occupation and his one eye would twinkle so gaily that, even if you were the object of his diatribes, you would sooner rather than later forgive him.

Although I will miss him, the City of San Francisco will miss him more. He undoubtedly will be enshrined in the pantheon of the City’s greatest characters along with The Emperor Norton, Dashiell Hammett, and Carol Doda.
From his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“‘Warren was the godfather of California — and you could say, national —progressive journalism,’ said David Talbot, whose book ‘Season of the Witch’ details the tumultuous history of San Francisco from the 1960s to the early ’80s. ‘As a newsman, he just loved the ’60s as a story, with all its weirdness, from the Black Panthers to hippies in the Haight to the Kennedy assassination. No publication caught it better than Ramparts — it led directly to publications like Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and Salon,’ the web magazine Talbot co-founded in 1995.’”
“One of the milestone moments for Mr. Hinckle came when he assigned Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby in 1970 for Scanlan’s Monthly. The resultant rollicking article, ‘The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,’ not only launched the over-the-top, personalized journalism that came to be known as gonzo, it began a lifelong friendship between Mr. Hinckle and Thompson.”

“‘In the beginning, we all believed,’ Mr. Hinckle wrote on the first page of the book (His autobiography, ‘When you have a Lemon, make Lemonade’). ‘We believed in many things, but mostly in America. If the decade must be summarized, it could be said that the youth of America, who had so recently studied it in civics classes, tested the system — and it flunked.’”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The First Centuries: (continued from last post)

Around 300 BC everything changed — at least in the part of the world we are interested in. About then, The Boy King of Macedonia, Alexander, soon to be granted the title, The Really Great, graduated from middle school and decided he wanted to see the world before continuing his education. So, along with about 40,000 of his closest friends he set off and along the way conquered much of the known world (at least the world known to him and his friends) and a lot of the world they never knew about — until about 10 years later they found themselves camped on the edge of a river in India. One evening, most of his friends came up to The Really Great and said, “Look Alex, it’s been 10 years now, it’s really been fun but we really have to get back to our education and jobs. So, tomorrow we are heading back. You can come along or not.”

Alex cried. He knew they had to get back, but he really had his heart set on spending a few weeks on a beach on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, kicking back and drinking Mai Tais with little pink umbrellas.

So, the next day they set off back to where they came from and where some of his closest friends, his bros, poisoned Alex and split up his empire among themselves. Now although this is important, it is not what interests us here. What does interest us here is that Alex and his Hellenes (what they were called instead or Greeks) would plant whole cities filled with Hellenes every place they went, like rabbit droppings. It seems for some reason, a whole lot of Hellenes wanted to live anywhere but Greece.
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Hellenes — apotheosis?

Even near Galilee in Canaan they built 10 cities for these Hellenes to live in called the Decapolis (“ten cities” in greek).

Another thing about these Hellenes was that they were way cool. They loved sex with everyone of any age and any sex. They partied late into the night drinking strong wine and talking about triangles, walking into walls, and smokey shadows in caves. They liked dressing up like the KKK and going into caverns late at night, bringing in blindfolded people who wanted to join their club and making them believe they were going to die or eat ca-ca. Then they would then take off the blindfolds and discover they were eating dolmas and not ca-ca and everyone would slap them on their back and they would become very happy knowing they could now do this to others.

Also, many of the Hellenes could write, not just the scribes, accountants, and priests in the temple and what they wrote about was marvelous, like the meaning of putting your toe in a fast flowing stream or the meaning of words you always thought you knew what they meant, really mean something you never thought about. They seemed to be curious about everything.

About 100 years after they arrived on the scene, some of the more curious of these Hellenes would encourage a few Semitic speakers to write down in Greek the collected stories of some of their people. They copied these tales into a book, or scroll more likely, called the Septuagint for reasons too long to tell here. What is interesting about this book is that it was not written in Canaan but in Egypt where the fantasies of Anknahten still floated around the elite and educated class and where the Hellenes living in and around Alexandria in Egypt were also into some crazy mystical shit and crystals.

Back in Canaan and just about everywhere these Hellenes settled, many Nabateans, Arameans, Samaritans, Judeans and other Semitic speaking people moved into the cities with the Hellenes to enjoy the good life. Many Hellenes also moved into local cities like Jerusalem where they continued their antics — A lot like the Hippies flooding into SF in the sixties.

Alas, many of the people living in the hills, dells, and hamlets of Canaan did not like the Hellenes ideas and behavior and saw them as irresponsible and dangerous, and a threat to their way of life. Sort of like in the sixties when most of the country saw the Hippies with their sex, drugs, rock and roll and enlightened consciousness as a threat to their way of life. It seems there are always those who believe being happy and enjoying oneself is irresponsible and evil, but being angry, miserable and oppressed as they were was nature’s way. So it was also in Canaan at the time and, like the satisfaction many Americans felt after Altamont, a lot of people went about searching for a reckoning of sorts.
(to be continued in the next post)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Of all the honors I have received, the one of which I am most fond was when the secretaries of the California Office of Planning and Research voted me “Telephone Asshole of the Year.”

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Globally, the value of all outstanding derivatives contracts (including credit default swaps, interest rate derivatives, foreign exchange rate derivatives, commodities-linked derivatives, and so on) was $630 trillion at the beginning of 2015, while the gross market value of those contracts was $21 trillion.”
Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. On Top: Ecological Causes of the war in the Middle-East.

In an insightful analysis Gianluca Serra, examines the Civil War in Syria. He points out that it is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes — a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a ‘rural intifada’ of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

“A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.
Back in 2009, I dared to forecast that if the rampant desertification process gripping the Syrian steppe was not halted soon, it could eventually become a trigger for social turmoil and even for a civil war.

I was being interviewed by the journalist and scholar Francesca de Chatel- and was feeling deeply disillusioned about Syrian government’s failure to heed my advice that the steppe, which covers over half of the country’s land mass, was in desperate need of recuperation.

I had just spent a decade (four years of which serving a UN-FAO project aimed at rehabilitating the steppe) trying to advocate that livestock over-grazing of the steppe rangelands was the key cause of its ecological degradation.

However, for the Syrian government’s staff, it was far too easy to identify and blame prolonged droughts (a natural feature of this kind of semi-arid environment) or climate change (which was already becoming a popular buzzword in those years). These external causes served well as a way to escape from any responsibility — and to justify their inaction.

In an article on The Ecologist, Alex Kirby writes that the severe 2006-2010 drought in Syria may have contributed to the civil war. Indeed it may — but this is to disregard the immediate cause — the disastrous over-exploitation of the fragile steppe ecosystem.

Before my time in Syria, as early as the 1970s, international aid organizations such as the UN-FAO had also flagged the dire need to not apply profit-maximization principles and to therefore not over-exploit the fragile ecosystem of the Syrian steppe.

Denial versus the power of an image

Finally, tired of repeating the same words all the time, I resorted to showing the government staff a self-explanatory picture taken in March 2008, a year of intense and dramatic drought. An image speaks more than a million words, I thought.

The picture [ not included] portrayed a fence separating a steppe terrain in two parts: the area on the left was open to sheep grazing; the area on the right had been instead protected for at least 10 years. The image revealed a lunar rocky landscape on the left, and a blossoming pasture on the right.

The image simply evidences, without need for any words, that the Syrian steppe ecosystem is perfectly adapted to cope with droughts — yes, even with extreme droughts exacerbated by climate change. However, this landscape can succumb easily to human irrationality and indifference. In front of that image, even the most verbose governmental staff would come to a pause — the jaw dropped for a moment.

In 2014, three years after social unrest first and then a brutal civil war erupted in the country, Francesca de Chatel published an interesting essay arguing that the inability of the Syrian government to tackle the rampant steppe’s ecological crisis, steadily unfolded over the course of 50 years of sustained mismanagement, has been one of the key triggers of the armed conflict in the country.

She mentions as other critical triggers the too fast economic liberalization plan, high rates of unemployment and corruption, and, sure enough, a long-term and suffocating lack of freedom.

Over-exploitation of an ecosystem

The Syrian steppe covers 55% of the country’s territory. This vast steppe land, together with portions from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has been grazed sustainably by nomadic indigenous pastoralists (Bedouins) for centuries (if not more). Each tribe and clan was linked to certain seasonal pastures and this ensured the sustainability of the grazing — a practice finely calibrated on the need of plant regeneration.

These pastoralists of Arabia are known to have been pioneers in establishing ‘protected areas’ (hema): certain pastures were relieved from grazing, permanently or temporary, in order to allow keeping the whole ecosystem healthy and functional.

The beginning of the ecological degradation and destruction came with the modern state, so keen to uncritically import ideas of maximization of agricultural yields from the Soviet Union: in particular the central government decided to nationalize the steppe in 1958, establishing de facto an open access system — a well-known recipe for ecological disaster.

Through this arrangement the customary link between the natural resource and its user was interrupted — abruptly disowning the traditional ecological knowledge of this ancient people. The pastures, not managed and protected anymore by the tribes, started to be over-grazed by free-ranging pastoralists.

A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

A similar sort of story of gross mismanagement took place in the eastern part of the Syria’s steppe land, the territory east to the Euphrates, allocated to intensive agriculture via irrigation through underground water.

Water has been pumped from limited underground reserves without much control for decades — so that wells had to be dug every year deeper and deeper with increasing consumption of fuel.

Year by year, desertification sets in

The alternation of wet and dry periods (sometimes lasting up to 5-7 years) is a key structural and natural feature of this kind of environment. The relentless ecological degradation of this semi-arid fragile ecosystem produced a gradual and steady decrease of its resilience in the face of cycles of droughts made increasingly more severe and frequent by a long-term regional drying pattern linked to the greenhouse effects.

Note that increasing the resilience of ecosystems is actually one of the key natural solutions as adaptation to climate change, as it is currently referred to within the circles of climate change international aid work.

While in the past the steppe was able to recover even following intense periods of droughts, during the past decade pastoralists and farmers have started to complain about a sharp and ineluctable reduction in soil fertility and an increase of frequency of fierce dust storms due to erosion.

An evident desertification process has been on display across the steppe land for quite some time. Recommendations to reduce the ecological pressure on this fragile environment — from myself and others — went unheard.

Ecological crisis fans the flames of rebellion

Following a recent cycle of intense drought during 2006-2010, the agriculture system eventually collapsed in eastern Syria greatly facilitated by an abrupt halt of government subsidies and consequent soaring prices of fuel for wells.

At the same time, the ecological impoverishment of the rangelands reached unheard-of levels. “The drought only brought to light a man-made disaster,” said a local journalist from eastern Syria to the International Crisis Group in 2009.

This combined ecological crisis of croplands and rangelands created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the rural areas of the country, followed by massive internal displacements, that the government clearly failed to tackle and manage.

For the first time ever Syria, known to be proudly autonomous in terms of food production (and actually even exporting food), had to rely on a massive international emergency food aid in 2008.

It is therefore not a coincidence that the uprising in 2011 started in provincial towns rather than in the major urban centres of Damascus and Aleppo, Francesca De Chatel argues, aptly defining the rebellion as a “rural Intifada” — one in which Bedouin tribes of steppe origin played a key role.

The same sort of conclusions were reached in analyzing the triggers of the Darfur war that took place from 2003 to 2010 not far from Syria. Darfur suffered from precisely the same sort of over-exploited semi-arid ecosystem, while once again rural and indigenous people were the victims, including nomadic pastoralists.

Life-enabling ecological conditions first

Only in recent times has the key role of ecological conditions in shaping the socio-economy of human populations and civilizations been fully acknowledged and understood. Thanks to a solid western ‘modern’ cultural legacy, until a short time ago, there had been quite strong resistance preventing an appreciation of the link.

Still, in our current consumerist society’s mainstream (sub)culture, nature is perceived as nothing else than a commodity or an ornament for National Geographic covers. But certainly our lifestyle and economy is still completely dependent on available natural resources and on functional ecosystem services.

The good news seems to be that eventually and increasingly these days, the link between ecology and economy (and socio-politics) is analyzed, elaborated and underlined. After all, ecology and economy have the same suffix ‘eco,’ derived from the Greek oikos (home), not by coincidence.

Mismanagement of earth’s resources

Climate change is a major threat to the whole human civilization in the short and medium term — as it is already emerging in the eastern Mediterranean and Syria, and other parts of the world. This ultimate challenge is like the last call for humanity to start reforming deeply an anti-life economic system, as well argued by Naomi Klein in her last book This Changes Everything.

Hopefully, this new awareness will be the basis for a new era in which the economy is deeply reformed in line with the principles of ecology. The time has come to wisely adapt the ‘norms and rules of the house’ (= Economy in Greek) to the foundation principles of the house (Ecology= ‘knowledge of the house’ in Greek) — and not the other way round, as we have thought and done during the past 200 years.

Otherwise, we will simply re-enact once again the same kind of drama that seemingly has already occurred innumerable times on the planet in the course of the human civilization parable. Civilizations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they did not change.”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while, all too often, all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.

C. Today’s Poems:

Love is not splendid

Love is not splendid
At best
it is
a blister on your foot
or an empty room.
I live on borrowed things

I live on borrowed things
On stories and songs
On breath and brawn

Borrowed then left
When I move on.
THE BIG STORM

They say,
it is coming,
THE BIG STORM.
They say,
it will knock down bridges,
with its howling wind,
flood valleys,
scrape the earth from the hills
and end the drought.
They say,
it will do all of that and more.

I stare
through the window
at the grey black sky
and wonder
if I will be disappointed.

 

D. Comments on my previous post:

1. Ann Marie.

I was glad to hear you were feeling better. Hope MaryAnne is as well.

You said you drove yourself to the hospital, and I didn’t see any follow-up on that. Everything ok?

As always it’s fun to read your stories. Hope you’re doing ok.

2. Peter.
Ozymandias and the old creeping the petty pace till the last syllable of recorded time (or, now, until the next commercial).

I’m reading a fascinating book called “Brazillionaires” by Alex Quadros. About this group of people who have $2-$30 BILLION! EACH. He suggests that it may be partially genetic, but however, they have a tremendous drive to achieve – what he finally concludes is – power. After awhile the goodies that immense riches can provide recede into the routine. The energy, the entrepreneurial urge, the incessant work — one of the richest married a gorgeous carnaval queen and Playboy centerfold who eventually left him because he worked all the time — guess some have it, some don’t. I don’t. Although I rule my ant farm with an iron fist.

Look, it’s clearly the Age of Kali. The drought, the fires, the floods, the poisoning of the land and water, the spreading hordes of too many people, the Trumpians whose outpatient privileges should have been revoked long ago — Scandinavia is too small, too white, too lacking in Rosso buco and Lenny Bruce — chanting, chanting, …..

Ok, so the Semites kept going back and forth between Egypt and Babylon, over hundreds of years. Now the so-called modern humans migrated in dribs and drabs out of Africa over a long period, crossing into Mesopotamia and on to China, the islands, and Australia, while others turned north and west into Europe. But eventually the Semites could’t sit still and did their little migratory dance, creating myths and legends to eventually justify booting out whoever was occupying their next stopover. Here’s the goofy part: And people Believed this stuff! Accepted it as “gospel”. No one learned anything — except he who wins writes the history.

As I said, he who wins writes the history. Viva the alphabet, though. After all, the oral tradition lasts roughly two hundred years or so. Even with eventual evolution to practical telepathy, that can’t last longer. And while the Internet Archive folks are valiantly trying to save everything on the internet before it, too, vanishes, in the end will still be the alphabet. Presumably.

Oh yes! I remember the evening in your house where we reviewed the draft sign logo and discussed at length whether the feet should look more “realistic” and less stylized. And lo, there they are.

My response.

Thanks for the comments. Some will go into next t&t. After my operation, I am well enough to travel. I plan to leave for Thailand on Sept. 2. Return Oct 2 or thereabouts. Maybe I’ll see you then.

Never forget, although old Ozy’s head in the clouds soon disappeared, his Birkenstock shod feet remained forever in the sand. What this means, as you get older you realize that the health of your feet is more important than the health of your head.

The tragedy of bazillionairs it that they can no longer truly experience the pleasures of poverty although carnival queens and playboy centerfolds may help to ameliorate that loss.

I suspect the age of Kali begins for each of us at birth. And ends when all we have left is our feet in the sand.

Please give Sherry my best.

I will see you soon — hopefully before Ozy and Kali get up to dance to Blind Lemon Pledge.

Peter again.

Glad to hear you up and around. How’s Maryann doing?

Indeed, healthy feet rule. My father lost a foot to diabetes in his later years; real drag. I hope I avoid that. As to “health of head,” my brother told me once, after he had made one of his regular visits to his then mother-in-law who had ended in a home and was more or less physically ok [he was an RN] and I inquired about her, said: “She’s happy as a clam.” Wasn’t much going on, though.

Re: brazillionaires, yes, they are monomaniac about work, many are little short guys, don’t eat much, don’t do much else. I recall my father, who knew John D. MacArthur a little, said about him, that even in his very late years he awoke early and went to the office every day, miming old dog old tricks. Seems none of them had a money bin to dive into like Scrooge McDuck. No joy.

Pettiness is Not next to godliness: The letter “b” key on my laptop is not working properly, so I often have to back up [just did] to make sure it prints. I’m postponing the inevitable trip to the apple store to get it fixed (and argue against buying a new machine because of the IMMENSE HASSLE of transferring everything. Meanwhile, having finished “Originals” and “Brazillionaires, I’ve started reading the next book, “Chaos Monkeys”; this, from a guy who worked at Goldman Sachs and then went to Silicon Valley, ending up at Facebook. All sounds awful. Money fixation causes really pathological behavior – but we knew that.

Kali Mata ki jai!! and bon voyage. I assume you’ll leave all of your yellow and red T-shirts at EDH. See you after your return, apparently on Gandhi’s birthday.

3. Aline.

OK. You can’t leave it hanging like that. Why did you drive yourself to the hospital? Are you okay?

My response.

I had a minor overnight procedure scheduled. No one was available to drive me to and from the Hospital. The operation was a success and I am back home now.

I enjoyed your photographs from your trip to Sicily. It seemed like you had a great time.

Aline again.

One cannot have a bad time in Sicily. The only bad thing was the trip was too short. I rode in a Fiat down cobble stairs through narrow streets scaring people and cats. I saw the best war memorial museum I have ever experienced. It was very realistic. There were pictures of Catania before the bombing, an air raid signal went off and we all ran into a bunker, the lights went off and we heard bombs going off and the bunker shook. After a time, the all clear was sounded and we left the bunker to view pictures of Catania after the bombing. Chilling. Then a complete shock – coming out of the museum, Comican was going on with many people dressed in their favorite anima characters. I also met with Anthony Provenzano, son of Tony Provenzano who ran the Mafia for years.

4. Bill.

You “outed” me. I did not expect to re-read my email to you in the latest “This and that . . .”. Carol would be a bit brought down about me discussing her health. Although I am touched by your thoughtfulness in sharing your thoughts about what we are going through. Anyway, I am glad these folks know the opportunity you provided me and that you are to blame for what I did or did not do well thereafter. I do recall that hike at Pt Reyes. The hike and my birding were getting in the way of your desire to get to Bolinas for some ice cream. One of my favorite trips that summer was an all day trip to Napa/Sonoma and finding an out-of-the-way vintner who named an especially drinkable jug red wine after his grandfather JD Martin. I think the vintner’s name was Tom Johnson (he is probably a very wealthy vintner now). When Tom told you why they named the wine JD Martin Red Table Wine – because they combined some varietals that just did not quite make the grade on their own, but when mixed together made the kind of red wine his wife’s grandfather loved to drink — you and I bought 4 cases of the jug wine. The end of that trip was challenging when you burned up your VW’s engine, because you ignored the red light on your dash that had you looked in the owner’s manual would have told you your catalytic converter was overheating. I ended up pushing that VW for a few hundred feet up the Golden Gate Bridge (that bridge is not flat!) until a Golden Gate Bridge tow truck pushed us the rest of the way and then towed you to some gas station. I think Don Neuwirth was with us. I remember Don sharing your aversion to the natural environment.

Be well my friend and mentor.

My response.

I apologize. As usual I acted without thinking.

When I started writing T&T eight years ago, I began to include comments and correspondence at the bottom of my blog when I repost it. I found however that it could go for many months before anyone acknowledged they had read it. So, I began including them in the body of T&T so I would not forget them. Recently for some reason, I have received more comments than usual and my excitement overcame me.

I hope I did not upset Carol. Please give her my apologies also.

Unless you object, I will strike out anything that could be construed as referring to her.

As for you comment. On that day we hiked Point Reyes, I recall a bird flew by in front of me from a bush on the side of the trail to one on the other. You did not see it, but when I exclaimed, you identified it merely from the sound it made as it flew by. To me that was magic.

Thanks for reminding me of that memorable trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.

My operation appears to have been a success, so I am leaving for Thailand next week. I will return in October. I hope I will be able to visit with you then.

Bill again.

Great news about your operation. Enjoy your trip to Thailand.

No need to strike anything from This & that. No worries.

Yes, I hope we can get together upon your return to the Golden Hills and State.

I hope your sister is feeling better.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S TEST:

The following is the test HRM was given on his first day of middle school. I bet you cannot pass it.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Papa Joe 0004 (September 30. 2015)

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“Like most people raised on American movies, I have poor access to my emotions but can banter like a motherfucker.”
—Josh Bazell, Wild Thing

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

We had a small party at the house for Dick’s (Uncle Mask) birthday before he, SWAC and a few others went out to dinner to celebrate.
IMG_0233
The boy in the yellow shirt is Jake, co-producer of “The Haystack Show.”

This week I have my cataract operation on my right eye. I look forward to it — not just because it will help me see better but also because it is something to do — taking the medicines, following the rules, arranging for the appointments — like a short-time job.

Boredom is not the same as depression. True, they both produce brain-freeze — a state in which people so inflicted usually ignore those things that could relieve their predicament. In both states, one can stare aimlessly at nothing for a long time, but the bored are not particularly unhappy — annoyed probably, but not unhappy. Alas, we have pills for depression, but not for boredom.

I have taken to leaving the house often while it is being prowled by the malicious spirit. At those times, I take refuge in coffee houses where I drink various caffeinated beverages, play with my computer or read bad novels until my mind shuts down. I then usually go swimming. There I paddle back and forth in the pool while endorphins or whatever drives consciousness from my mind until I snap back after slamming my head against the edge of the pool. Thereafter, I go home and take a nap. I seem to be spending a good portion of my days in varying degrees of unconscious. I could try dope, but I guess this is healthier.

On the weekend, we attended the Reptile Show in Sacramento. It was more interesting than I expected. They even had a petting zoo for the children complete with a full sized live alligator and a Komodo Dragon.

While HRM created a video for his YouTube program, “The Haystack Show,” I spent most of my time wandering around and wondering why many of the women in the booths displaying the various snakes and lizards for sale were heavily tattooed while the men were not.
IMG_0239_2
That is a live lizard above Uncle Mask’s head.

The operation on my right eye was uneventful. I found the anesthetic wonderful and asked the doctor if I could take some home with me. He said I also would have to take the nurse along in order to administer it. Although I agreed to the suggestion, the nurse demurred saying, “Honey, you couldn’t afford me.” She’s probably right. Anyway, I can now see clearly out of that eye without glasses.

One evening, we drove to the top of the hill to view the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. A few clouds obscured most of it. That was a shame since I probably will not be here in 2033 when the next one comes around.
IMG_0242
The sky above the Golden Hills just before the rise of the Blood Moon.

Marcel Proust observed that ”Experiences are less real when you have them than when you either remember them or imagine them” — alas, the story of my life.

Proust is one of my heroes. He spent most of his adult life lying in bed writing his great book “Remembrance of Things Past.” I too spend a lot of my life in bed. Regrettably, I rarely write. Instead, I lament over things past, read bad novels and peruse Facebook posts by my so-called friends. Other times, I sleep and dream.

Proust was prodigiously self-absorbed. He wrote thirty pages about how he moves about in bed. Try as I might, I could never match his preoccupation with himself. My goal nonetheless, is someday to lie in my bed so captivated with myself, I fall into a coma.

Proust had many opinions about sex, but quite limited actual knowledge. He used to hire young boys to come into his room to stand at the foot of his bed and masturbate. If he found the experience arousing enough, he would join in. I, on the other hand, am not into sex with little boys, or grown men for that matter — unless, I guess, in the case of adults that have tits (as that great observer of life, “Ted,” opined, “there are no chicks with dicks only guys with tits.”) This probably makes me a social recidivist. How wonderful that future world will be when we get to boink without shame with whomever agrees to boink with us.

Anyway, unlike Proust whose mom left him a lot of money, a house, and her bed for him sleep in, I cannot afford to hire anyone to stand at the foot of my bed for any reason. So, I have to content myself with production value deficient porn videos that inevitably leave my computer rife with malware — remembrance of things past indeed.
B. BOOK REPORT:

Suggestions for Books about Bangkok:

Like New York and a few other cities, Bangkok has been a treasure trove fo stories about the city’s teeming underside. Even the city’s most fashionable hotel, The Oriental, has a wing dedicated to some of the world’s greatest novelists who resided there and wrote about Southeast Asia and the City astride the Chao Phraya River that sits at its center. Writers like Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Joseph Conrad and others all have suites in the hotel named for them.

That tradition remains alive today through such well-known authors as John Burdett, Stephen Leather, Timothy Hallinan, Colin Cotterill, Jake Needham, Colin Piprell and James Eckhardt.

Books by several Thai authors who also have deeply explored life in Thailand as well as Bangkok’s urban jungle have been translated into other languages. These include, “Mad Dog and Co.” by Chart Korbjitti (translated into English by Marcel Barang, himself an author of a novel set in Bangkok as well as the non-fiction, “Twenty Best Novels of Thailand”); “The Tin Mine” by Archin Panchapan; “Sightseeing” by Rattawut Laparoensap; and “Jasmine Nights” by SP Somtow.

A best seller and a good read is “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel that delves into Bangkok’s current and future problems with flooding. It was named one of the 10 best novels of 2009

But, by far my favorite Bangkok author is Christopher G. Moore. The protagonist in a good many of his most popular books is Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish half Italian ex-lawyer who for some mysterious reason gave up practicing law in New York to become a private eye in Bangkok.

Among his many books about Bangkok and the Thai urban scene, I like best “Waiting For the Lady.” Unlike most of his other novels, it is set not in Bangkok but in Burma.

Moore’s story swirls around the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chin people of Burma and a young scholar specializing in the art of the mountain tribes of Southeast Asia who along with his two longtime artist friends living in Bangkok search for a hidden hoard of Ming china.The description of the day the country’s military government released Aung San Suu Kyi after 20 years of house arrest is worth the price of the book.
C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Morality Tale:
Recently, a young American venture capitalist named Martin Shkreli purchased the patent rights for a much used HIV drug and promptly raised the price from about $15 a dose to either $700 or $5000 (I’ve seen both numbers in the press.) The young man seemed to explain his decision to trade on the lives of HIV sufferers by asserting he could make a lot of money by doing so.

Among the almost universal opprobrium that this action engendered, Steven Thrasher wrote:

“It’s easy to be angry at Shkrelli, his smug smile and his greedy choices that may well equal the deaths of those priced out from the malaria, Aids and cancer medicine they need. But Shkrelli is just a tool. He lives in a world where disaster capitalism will reward him. He now says he will make the drug “more affordable,” but the richest nation on earth can’t stop him from deciding what “affordable” will mean. He may repulse us, but he represents our American way of disastrous living. Disaster capitalism no longer just reacts to chaos for profit, or even creates chaos for profit. It creates the conditions by which the spectre of social, spiritual and biological death hang over our heads on a daily basis so oppressively, the crises become seamless.”

2. Qualifications for Leadership:
Pope Francis has all the qualifications for leadership of the Church or for US President. — He has a Masters in Chemistry, is a metalhead, rode a Harley, worked as a bouncer in a nightclub and now wears a yarmulke and a dress. Can any candidate for the US presidency today claim to be as qualified for the Presidency as Francis is to be Pope? Carly wears dresses (Hillary seems to be about the only candidate who rightfully wears pants) and Bernie has the Yarmulke, and while it is possible one or another of the candidates were metalheads and even rode a Harley now and then, could any of those running have survived even one night as a night-club bouncer?

3. SF Chronicle Headlines:

Africanized Killer Bees Reach Bay Area.
Tech Industry Panics, Flees to Vancouver.
Mountain View a Ghost Town.
San Francisco Housing Prices become Affordable Again.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

For those of a scriptural bent: In the interpretation of the Gospels, Pope Francis represents the ascendancy of the Epistle of James (the brother of Jesus and Chief Priest of the Temple) over the epistles of Paul (the tax collecting, egomaniacal suppressor of the Jesus Church). When James and the other Apostles agreed to admit non-Jews into the Church they had no idea it would open the door to the rest of Paul’s theology. In response, James wrote his Epistle in order to refute Paul.

Basically. James and Jesus maintained you are not getting into Heaven by faith alone but by good works, whether or not you have “The Faith.”

If you want to put it into religious terms, politics in the US today to a great extent reflects the conflict between those who believe in faith alone whether in God or Country without concern about the fate of others and those who believe their God or Country demands a commitment to the welfare of all.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“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.”
Quigley— Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

I’ve done boycotts of products almost all of my life (starting when my mom marched w/ Cesar Chavez to boycott grapes, then lettuce.) As I got older, I boycotted cereals owned by cigarette companies (and NO, buying more cereal doesn’t mean they’d eventually phase cigarettes out; it just subsidizes tobacco and keeps the SOB in the black).

My favorite corporate asshole is Stanley, maker of tools like tape measures, screwdrivers, etc. Well, they sure put the screws to the American taxpayers — they “moved” their “corporate headquarters” into a Post Office Box in the Bahamas or Cayman Islands . . . I don’t remember which. “60 Minutes” did a segment a number of years ago . . . and I am STILL waiting for The Obama Administration or SOMEONE to nail those bastards. I know Bernie Sanders might do that on his first day in the Oval Office. I’ll see if I can get a pledge from him to do so in his first week . . . or hours, as President.

This tax-dodging bullshit makes the United States look like the most corrupt, the most inept, and the most morally bankrupt nation in the world. And who am I to argue against that, when the evidence is piled up higher than their ill-gotten corporate tax-free profits?

 

C. 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.”

D. Today’s Poem:

Rhyming Ennui

Watching blue mold on bread grow,
Spring rains, Summer’s glow,
Autumn leaves go floating by,
How many days before I die?

Some reap and others sow,
Some the whole world’s knowledge know,
I instead just sit and sigh.
How many days before I die?

E. From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:
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TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It’s also true that people who make the most productive contributions, the ones who make lasers or transistors, or the inventor of the computer, DNA researchers — none of these are the top wealthiest people in the country. So if you look at the people who contributed the most, and the people who are there at the top, they’re not the same.”
Joseph Stieglitz

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_0158
Summertime among the Golden Hills

 

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Papa Joe 0004 (September 20, 2015)

 

“Greed is a powerful tool for making bad things invisible”
Mather, Matthew. Darknet (p. 251).

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

55de117114000077002e4174
Photograph of some rice paddies in China. It was taken in the morning or evening, I do not know which and published by non-profit National Geographic, soon to be the for profit “Fair and Balanced” National Geographic.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The skies are a clear deep blue above the Golden Hills. The days are very warm. A slight breeze makes them tolerable. All in all, it seems like paradise. But, the leaves curling at their edges, the yellow lawns, and the silence tells us all is not well. Ants rush around desperate for moisture while we humans complain that we have less water to waste.

One day I went into Sacramento to wait for the car to be serviced. I had coffee at Chicory, the coffee house with the tattooed baristas that I like so much. After, I walked across the street to Capital Park. I felt a bit down for some reason. Passing by the Weeping Lawson and Mourning cypress trees did nothing to raise my spirits. They perked up, however, while I sat on a bench under a Magnolia tree in the center of the park contemplating whatevers. I love this park. It is a tree museum.

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Another day I drove down to Vallejo to deal with my grandson’s legal problems. We interviewed a highly regarded criminal law specialist. He was an impressive older man. Unfortunately, his firm represented the other defendants, so he had a conflict. Nevertheless, he spent about a half hour with us giving some background on the judge, DA and other criminal law attorneys.

While listening to him drift off into stories and insights, I began to feel I had taken a wrong road in life. When I began law school, I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. I could not see any other purpose in being a lawyer. Throughout law school, I interned with legal aid at 125th St and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. I was there for the great Harlem riots of the early 60s.

During the riots, I traveled back and forth between Harlem and Rikers Island arranging bail and interviewing detainees. It was then I first learned the great difference between the riots, demonstrations, and crises reported by the media and its reality.

At times, during the riots, I stood on the corner of 125 and Lenox along with some of the denizens of the area, drinking coffee or something stronger. Every once in a while, a young man would detach himself from the group of young men who were shouting and chanting in the middle of the street and throw a rock at the line of cops just waiting for something like that. They would rush forward and our rock thrower would run back to the safety of his compatriots. Sometimes the rock thrower would slip and fall or be too slow and the cops would catch him beat him a few times with their billies and haul him off to the paddy wagon for the trip to Rikers. The locals on the corner with me would cheer or hoot as the case may be and then go about their business. Now and then, a garbage can would be set on fire. In the evening, the looters would come out and break the windows of a few stores. Tear-gas canisters are shot off. Often it seemed that there was more media personnel on the scene than cops or protestors. On TV that night, it would appear as though the entire area was devoured by fire and smoke with hoards of dark beings struggling with each other in the foreground. Meanwhile, away from the corner of 125th and Lenox, life continued more or less normally.

Anyway, after law school, for some reason I felt that legal aid would not be the best place for beginning my criminal law career. I also rejected the DA’s office. Instead, I joined an insurance defense firm, the lowest of the low, in order to get the maximum trial experience possible. I amassed a record of consecutive victories among the three best in NY history at the time, thereby denying justice to many people who had been injured through no fault of their own. Then things happened and my dream died. But that is a story for another time…

Back in EDH, one morning the sun came up red like blood. I later learned that there was a massive fire down near Jackson about thirty miles away southeast of us. For the next few days, the skies hung heavy with black smoke —the air filled with grit making breathing difficult. The fire is still raging as I write this but the smoke and grit has lessened.

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This is a photograph, posted on Facebook, of one of the fires devouring the State. It sort of resembles the end times, doesn’t it?

Then to make matters worse, SWAC arrived like the evil one herself, breathing fire and self-pity. I think it’s time to get out of town.

On Sundays, we have breakfast at The Train Stop in Roseville. After breakfast, we usually go to Denio’s where I look for walking sticks (with little success) and $2 Hawaiian shirts (more success here). Then we search out newly open malls or stores. Last week, we went to the new Bass Pro Shop in Rocklin. The huge store is dedicated to the sale of things usable in the type of outdoor recreation that generally involves killing, like guns, bows or fishing gear. With the disappearance from the environment of large animals and things like that, I wonder what they can use those things to kill now. It has been estimated that in about 70 years from now the human population will reach over 11 billion that is 4 billion more than we have now or more than the current population of China, India, and the US combined. Maybe everyone is just preparing for a new kind of outdoor sport…well, maybe not so new.

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Bass Pro Shop
My Kindle for Mac stopped working. Back to paper books? — Pookie the recidivist.

The sun has emerged again from the curtain of smoke. All is well again in the Golden Hills. The victims of the fires are not fortunate. The emergence of the sun does not brighten the aguish of losing ones home. I would suggest praying for them, but I believe praying usually only benefits the prayer. It helps alleviate the guilt of not doing more. On the other hand, I guess if you tell the victims that you prayed for them, it may make them feel better. Food, clothing and health services would probably make them feel even better.

Ha, I fixed my Kindle — Pookie the computer expert. Now I can help make Jeff Bezos even richer and bury myself in ebooks so that I can avoid doing anything for the victims of disasters and instead insist that government handle it — but not raise my taxes to do so. Hmm, that is a lie. I do not pay taxes so I probably will not care if they raise someone else’s.

Sometimes, in the evening, I just sit in the park.

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B. ANNOUNCEMENT — Pookie runs again.

I have decided once again to run as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination for President. Since I abhor working hard, I decided to reissue my posts from the last time I ran, four years ago. Not much has changed except the names so I could not see any downside to repeating myself. I have republished my announcement on Facebook.

I thought I would entertain those who patiently have read this far with the campaign post that set out what I believe may be the most important issue facing the nation today:

IRONY

“Back when this great nation of ours was founded our four fathers were drinking tea, freedom’s drink, when they heard the bells and decided to leave the tea party meeting there in Boston, Massachusetts and march down to the docks to tell the British that were around there that they were not going to pay their taxes anymore.

“So all four of our founding fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, everyone a good Republican, marched right down there to those docks and wharfs. When they got there, they found the British were preparing to unload crates, disguised as tea bags but secretly containing irony to impose on the American people.

“So they jumped on those ships and dumped all that irony into the bay and saved our freedom because irony is not American since it would replace our guns as it has done in socialistic places around the world. As a result, we Americans remained free. Unfortunately, all that irony polluting their bay is one of the reasons those poor people in Boston remain socialist to this day, but the rest of America was saved except for San Francisco and maybe Oregon and New York City.

“You may ask how our four fathers knew those crates that were all marked with the word “Tea” stenciled on the outside actually contained irony. Well, they realized that “Tea” spelled backward is “Aet” which sounds like ate, which, if you think about it, is very ironic.”

Note: Sarcasm, however, is as American as [add your own analogy]

Note ii: Donald Trump, however, is ironic — like a Ringling Bros. clown is ironic. Jeb Bush is not ironic. He, unfortunately for him, is a tragedy.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Contrary to Stephen Hawking and others, the creation of Artificial intelligence is not the thing we should fear most. It is the proliferation of Decentralized Autonomous Corporations (DACs). They already exist and their numbers are growing.

Matthew Mather describes a Decentralized Autonomous Corporation (DAC) as a network of artificial intelligence agents which divides its labor into two parts: (1) tasks it pays or incentivizes humans to do, and (2) tasks which it performs itself.

It can be thought of as an organization run without any human involvement, under the control of an incorruptible set of business rules.

Like most corporations, it generally cannot be terminated except by the investors, often has more rights than ordinary citizens and cannot be imprisoned if it breaks the law. Moreover, its investors are shielded by law — responsible only to the extent of their monetary investment for the actions of their creation.

Recently, a group of large banks announced that they will begin exploration of DAC’s for integrated banking services. At first look it may appear beneficial since, among other things, transactions will be more transparent and access for customers simpler. The banking transactions, however, will have no human control. Whether that will be good or not in the long run, I cannot guess. But, at a minimum, the owners, and their descendants, having done no work other than hiring the technicians to set up the system, could nevertheless receive fees forever, ultimately draining off huge amounts of money from the users. Someday, in the not too distant future, they may inherit the earth — or what’s left of it.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“To me, the most ominous flaw in our constitutional set-up is the fact that the federal government does not have control over of money and credit and does not have control of corporations. It is therefore not really sovereign. And it is not really responsible because it is now controlled by these two groups, corporations, and those who control the flows of money. The new public financing of the Presidential elections is arranged so that they can spend as much as they want: voluntary contributions, not authorized by the candidate, are legal.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Income inequality and the overwhelming influence of wealth on our political process will resist any long term resolution without reform of the basic elements of the corporation: immortality, limited liability, and personhood.

C. Today’s Poem:

On Seeing Weather Beaten Trees

Is it as plainly in our living shown,

By slant and twist, which way the wind has blown?
Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“One of the great attributes of discretion is that it can mask ignorance of all the most common and lowly varieties”
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize) (p. 397). Little, Brown and Company.

TODAY’S CARTOON:
Pasted GraphicPast
Secret Worlds, https://xkcd.com/52/

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 P0PS 0004 (August 31, 2015)

 

“Never under any circumstances interrupt a story!”
Bruen, Ken. Green Hell (Jack Taylor). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

After a long, tiring and mostly uneventful trip back from Thailand, I met my sister in San Francisco and she drove us to Mendocino where I slept my jet lag away.

The next day Annmarie and her husband Dean, my grandson Anthony and Irene a relative from Sabina spending a few weeks in the US arrived. Anthony is having a difficult time. Arrested again for operating his marijuana business, he is in a lot of trouble.

Later that night my other grandson Aaron arrived. On the way up he crashed his car into the back of another car that had that had stopped in the middle of the road having struck and killed a large deer. Aside from that, he seemed in good spirits and happy about his burgeoning career as a chef.

The next day we visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. While walking along the path someone going the other called out to me, “How’re you doing Pops?” I was not amused.
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Later we attended the Art and Wine show at the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were a Coastal Conservancy project during my time as director. It was in danger of closing down. So, since it was considered a significant coastal resource for the area, we developed a plan for its preservation enabling it to redesign and reconstruct its physical plant and exhibits and to purchase a large parcel extending to the coast.
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There also was music to go with the art and wine.
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On Sunday, we went canoeing on Big River. It tired me out so I skipped lunch and took a nap.
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Finally, I returned to the Golden Hills and things ground to a halt.

My sister dropped me off at the Trans-bay Terminal and after a riding a bus, a train, the light rail and another bus I arrived at EDH Town Center three hours later. The house was still over 2 miles away and there was no way for me to get there except by walking and dragging my luggage (Mr. Suitcase) behind me.
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I looked like a homeless old man searching for a place to sleep. I hoped that that image would so horrify the citizens of EDH that they would call the police who would arrest me and then, after I convinced them I belonged there, would drive me home in an air-conditioned police car. No such luck, so I struggled for another hour and a half walking with Mr. Suitcase, trudging from one bit of shade to another until I arrived home. I then took a nap.

The next day Dick and HRM arrived from Thailand. Since then I’ve returned to my usual routine — Drive H to school, eat breakfast at Bella Bru, go swimming, return home and play with the computer, pick up H from school, eat dinner and go to bed.

Today I met an old retired man from India. I was enjoying a cafe latte in the Starbuck’s at Target while waiting for H to shop for school supplies. The man sat down at the table where I sat. He was waiting for his family to finish shopping. He told me he spent half the year in New Delhi and the other half in the Golden Hills. He said that he used to be a sociologist and, although he now was retired, he sometimes still is called on to lecture about the differences between US and Indian culture. He said he often seeks out Americans to talk to in order to learn more about our culture. Then he said, in words to the effect, “Being old in America sucks. I have to hang out in this Starbuck’s in order to find someone to talk to.”

I have a new phone, an iPhone 6. It frightens me.

I went to the pool early this morning. Alas, the pool I usually swim in was occupied by an exercise class, so I sat on a beach chair to watch and wait until they finished and cleared out of the pool. One of the first things I noticed was the enormous size of the boobs that I observed. Not simply on women but on the men with their distended bellies and their man-boobs sparkling in the sun. Now I admit I had hoped to sit there and enjoy a visually erotic experience since at my age visually erotic is the only type of erotic granted me. Alas, it was anything but erotic. I then I looked down at my own body and realized I fit right in with the water exercise crew. Finally, the music accompanying the happy and vigorous workout eventually drove me to the much colder lap pool for my own usual morning workout.
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This week the trees with the red flowers were in bloom throughout the subdivision. As I have mentioned before, the landscape architect for the various subdivisions did a marvelous job in siting trees that bloom in different colors throughout the year delighting those with little going on in their lives and annoying many others who suffer from pollen allergies.

HRM report: Back in school in fifth grade. Currently, he is focused on his Youtube activities, “The Haystack Show.” He is the Chairman of the Board, Director and Star, his friend Jake is the CEO, Producer, and Editor.
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HRM, Pookie and Tyson HRM’s friend but not the CEO of “The Haystack Show.”

 

I find that spending my time with 10-year-olds is a rewarding and enjoyable as traveling around the world.

Alas, the pump that pushes the house’s wastewater up to the sewer that runs along the street broke requiring HRM and me to spend the nights until it is repaired in the Holiday in Town Center and eating in some of HRM’s favorite restaurants, MacDonald’s, Taco Bell and Panda’s.

I cannot believe I am reduced to writing about broken sewer pumps and Taco Bell.

Since I have returned to EDH my cuisine choices have been limited to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Panda and the snack bar at Target.
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Sometimes we go fishing at the Duck Pond. Where I lie on the grass and stare at the sky until I fall asleep but usually I do nothing.
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I guess I can report that the drought resistant spiders are back and have covered with webs the landscaping for the houses on the street prompting the migration of itinerant pest control experts knocking on our doors and promising to remove the pests in the most environmentally safe manner possible. I assume if that were true, they intend to pick up each spider individually and crush it between their thumb and forefingers.

C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Earlier this month when a bomb blew up in Bangkok near a much-revered shrine killing almost 20 people and injuring almost 100 more, the unelected Prime Minister and leader of the country’s most recent coup said that it was an attempt to injure Thailand’s tourism industry, while completely omitting any expression of sympathy for those killed or injured.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“We usually think of Christianity as the great contrast to the Roman ideology, but this is to misconceive the whole civilization. Christianity as an organization was in no way incompatible with Romanism as an organized structure. The teachings of Christ were, but these teachings were so very alien and strange that no one took them very seriously and being a Christian soon meant, not belief in Christ’s teachings but belief in Christ, a totally different thing. The same thing happened in Islam where Muhammad’s teachings were soon ignored, and the requirements of Islam became a few rituals, plus monotheism, and so far as Muhammad was concerned, belief that he was the Prophet of the One God.

The Christians cut down Christ’s teachings to a minimum also, insisted only on the belief that Christ was the Son of God and some related beliefs and certain rituals, and then began to engage in violent controversy on minute details of implications of these, very remote from Christ’s teachings or attitude. On this basis, there was not much in Christianity which could not be reconciled with the Roman system, and the original enmity between the two came more from the Roman side than from the Christian.

…The willingness of the Christians to become part of the Roman system can be seen in the present survival of the Roman Catholic Church as a copy of the Roman empire, a system organized in municipalities and provinces under an absolute ruler who uses the robes, nomenclature, language, and modes of action of the late Roman empire.”
Carroll Quigley

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“When I won my Best Screenplay award several years ago, I had the great pleasure to see a number of films. One short film in particular caught my eye. It was a musical comedy called “West Bank Story,” and . . . you guessed it — it was a take on “West Side Story,” but set on the West Bank in Israel. I laughed so hard, I triggered muscle spasms in my back, and I had to go home and lay on a hot moist heating pad. It didn’t win, which I considered an enormous injustice, but I kept in touch with the film maker, a tremendously talented guy named Ari Sandel.

I saw it was nominated for an Oscar in the live action short film category, and I called Ari and arrogantly proclaimed that he would get an Oscar before Martin Scorsese would, and he DID . . . by about 2 hours! The Live-Action Short Film award was announced very early in the broadcast, with the major categories, like best actors, director, and picture of course saved for the end.

Now I see that Ari is dating actress Julianne Hough. Some guys have ALL the luck! Hey, Juli — for once, what about dating SCREENWRITERS, huh???

“West Bank Story, just shy of 20 minutes, is uploaded here:|

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgQfCUNf0no

But if you purchase it, Ari is donating all proceeds to a nonprofit in the Near East that benefits victims of the violence — Israelis AND Palestinians.”

 

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I think this animal rights thing may have gone too far. I mean, what’s wrong about a tiger living in a zoo in a place made to look like the jungle it’s never seen and free from scratches and annoyances of the wild, where someone else catches, slaughters and cuts up his food into bite-sized bits while people pay good money to watch him lie around and yawn? Wouldn’t this make him a Kardashian?

After all, humans in their natural state were made to huddle around the entrance of a cave and be periodically culled by Saber Tooth Cats and Cave Bears — not working 80 hours a week in order to afford to live in a fake greek revival house far too large to ever be fully used with a new Ferrari parked in the driveway that inevitably his doped up kids will drive into a tree.

 

D. Today’s Poem:

The frost has known,
From scattered conclave by the few winds blown,
That the lone genius in my roots,
Bare down there in a jungle of fruits,
Has planted a green year, for praise, in the heart of my upgrowing days.
Dylan Thomas wrote this when he was fourteen-years-old. He remained blindly arrogant and mostly drunk for the rest of his life.

 

E. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Altschmerz

n. Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Republicans continue to refuse to extend [unemployment insurance]. You know what, I am beginning to think that they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.”
Barack Obama

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Mopey 0004 (January 26, 2015)

 

Happy Birthday Ruth

“Never get out of the boat.”
Apocalypse Now

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ELDORADO HILLS:

The weather in the Golden Hills has been delightful for the last few days — the temperatures brisk but pleasant, the skies blue and the clouds vague and wispy at their edges. This morning, although the skies were mostly clear by the house, at the health club a mile or so away, fog and mist covered the pool in a ghostly gray.
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Evening Sky Over a Golden Hills Athletic Field

While sitting in the health club jacuzzi, I noticed a woman happily moving in an odd way in front of one of the water nozzles. I surreptitiously tried the same moves and was shocked. While the move probably was not as agreeable for a man as for a woman, it did make me realize that there is more going on behind the locked gates of the golden hills, than manicured lawns suggest.
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Today I visited the first of the two medical specialists to whom I had been referred, the neurologist. The only thing that was confirmed was my hypochondria…
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My daughter gifted me a trip to visit her in Washington DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival in early April. I have been trying to decide on what side trips to make while I am there. She gave me some books for Christmas showing some of the sights and Civil War sites in and around DC. Dick suggested I visit the FBI museum which sounds like a good idea. I also would like to visit Baltimore to see what had changed since I last visited there as a consultant over 20 years ago.
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I read a book today that was described as Science Fiction and Adventure. Although it took place on another world, I had gotten almost all the way through it before to my horror it dawned on me that it was, in fact, a Romance Novel complete with bare-chested men with huge bulging muscles and women falling into pools, or lakes or caught in the rain so that their drenched clothing would cling to their bodies revealing what lay beneath, especially their blushing breasts and stiffening nipples. I waded through page after page of these same shirtless men with biceps like cantaloupes and well-soaked women with heaving breasts like ripe melons in unrelieved sexual arousal as though they had never learned about masturbation or how to make fruit salad. Alas, I enjoyed the book. I am thoroughly embarrassed and have promised myself never to do it again.

B. BOOK REPORT:

As readers of T&T know, I have a weak spot for Swords and Sorcery and Fantasy genre in fiction. I also acknowledge that on any ranking of literary genres it falls somewhere near the bottom. Be that as it may, I still while away many pleasant hours with Mages and Druids, Knights and Damsels and all the other creatures that usually inhabit these novels. Recently I completed reading the four books in the Trysmoon series by Brian K. Fuller. Unlike most series of this type, the four books really make up a single long novel — no single book stands alone. Like most of these novels the transcendental hero or heroine saves the world/king /nation, etc., by magic, sword or pluck. What makes this work different, at least to me, is that the three main characters seem more interesting than most.

The hero, a man without soul created out of mud by the evil one in order to destroy the world, saves it instead, with the help of many others including two women, a mother and daughter, who are the most beautiful and powerful women in the land. He sleeps with both of them and marries each in turn, saves the world, destroys the evil one and thereafter settles down with the mother in a tiny cottage in a god-forsaken village where they make a nuisance of themselves by, among other things, attending house parties that they were not invited to and copulating with each other wherever and whenever they had a mind to do so, which was often.

Pookie says check it out…

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

Looking at a relief map of the Near-east (It is the Near-east not the Middle-east) one notices that on the North lies the highlands of Anatolia in Turkey, a non-Arab strongly governed Muslim State. On the East rises the highlands of Persia, modern day Iran, a strong state with a significant non-Arab population. To the South sits the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula littoral along which exist several strong and wealthy states and two poorer troubled states, Yemen and to some extent Oman (more on this below). At the South-eastern corner lies the deserts of the Negev (Israel) and Sinai (Egypt) backed by the populous Nile River Valley and the immense and hostile Sahara Desert. This area is controlled by Egypt a traditionally stable (at least in area) state with a huge non-Muslim population. The Mediterranean and its littoral states (Israel and Lebanon) containing significant non-Muslim (Lebanon) and non-Arab (Israel with its Ashkenazi Eastern-European culture) populations. In Israel’s case, it is a currently strong state.

In the center lies the rapidly desertifying central Fertile Crescent area (Primarily Syria and Iraq). This area is overwhelmingly Muslim Arab. By 650AD or so it became the center of Arab-Muslim culture governed by Arab warlords extracting tribute from mostly non-Muslim populations and in turn paying an ever decreasing amount of tribute to whichever Caliph held nominal authority over the area. This continued until about 1000AD when governance over the whole of the near east effectively passed from the hands of the Arabs to non-Arab Muslims who created relatively strong and stable states. This remained the situation until the West (Britain and France primarily) returned the non-mountainous areas back mostly to the Arabs who immediately created warlord States until the petroleum reserves passed into the hands of at least some of the states around the Arabian Peninsular Littoral, leaving Iraq and Syria in the hands of Arab warlords representing a minority religious community in each nation. This was done intentionally because the Imperial nations recognized the Arab tendency toward internecine warfare among its family groups and their traditional inability to create (or have any interest in creating) an integrated state. They believed a ruling military based minority would assure stability out of fear of possible majority power.

There is a reason why the Arabs traditionally have had difficulty creating a stable State and it has little to do with character or things like that, other than the usual difficulty of nomadic people to transition into governing the areas they conquer. The reason lies in part with Mohammed himself and the politics of his time. (to be continued)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wants to avoid the following:

“One additional element in this situation, which links the ruling minority and the alienated masses together, was the steady increase in the inequality in distribution of incomes, something which was supported, defended, and intensified by the power structure. This surplus in incomes at the top, used for non-productive purposes, kept the demand for luxury goods high for centuries after the curve of production in necessities had turned downward. The crisis in the production of necessities came in the third century, but the production of, or at least the demand for, luxuries was still as high as ever in AD 600. Moreover, during that period of almost four centuries, the growing corruption and violence excluded honest and hardworking people from access to the ruling system or even from the state, including access to justice or to public office. Both of these were increasingly expensive to a degree that honest, hardworking men could not pay. Both justice and public office required higher and higher costs of access (bribery or sale, if you will) from the fact that these two, plus access to the higher levels of the military system, became access to the affluence of the ruling minority and escape from the grinding poverty of the ruled majority.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability. (1975)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Do not withdraw from the unreality of perception, revel in it instead.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Athena.

 

TODAY FROM AMERiCA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I received a call one night from my brother-in-law George informing me that my 95-year-old mom had been rushed to the hospital. The following morning I travelled to SF to see her. By then, my mom had been diagnosed with a urinary infection, shot up with antibiotics and returned to the nursing home. George and I visited her there. At first she was crying and complaining of the pain. As she began directing her usual insults at me, something that she has done for as long as I can remember, she seemed to perk-up enough so that when the nurse came into the room and told her the people in the nursing home lunch-room were asking about her she inquired if any of them were men. George and I then went to the cafeteria for lunch composed mostly of white and grey colored food. I offered a dish of vanilla ice cream to the woman in a wheel chair sitting opposite me. She declined saying her butt was too big already and then inviting me to take a look if I’d like. We returned to my mom’s room and, after settling her in for a nap, departed.

We then went to Bernie’s café in Noe Valley where we met Peter. We ordered coffee and then sat in the sun on the benches in front of Bernie’s and reminisced. Peter and George worked out the plot for the next mystery novel I would write and not finish. It concerned concentric circles and a well-known but very dead Scientologist who, through the internet, rented for the night Dragon’s apartment in BKK that looks a lot like mine and who expired in the arms of an equally dead Thai ladyboy. Dragon and a team of second-rate ex-pat novelists living in Thailand investigate.

Later I had dinner at my sister’s house with George and my nephew Brendan. Brendan plays in the band, “Not Sure, Not Yet,” whose next gig is somewhere in LA. My sister was in NYC as a panelist at a UN conference on social welfare organizations. Immediately following this she planed to attend the Bill Clinton conference at which my old partner Christine Lagarde current head at IMY is one of the keynote speakers. It has been over 20 years since I last spoke with either Clinton or Lagarde. They each have a different form of charisma. Clinton is like the warming sun after a cool night, while Lagarde in more like the electric turquoise shimmer of a glacier just before it tumbles into the ocean.

I waited for Nikki to arrive from Milan and when he did, he and I drove back to El Dorado Hills.

**********************************
Almost a week has gone by during which three grown and more of less aging men have spent most of their time responding to the whims of an 8 year old boy and enjoying it. I have alternated between furious bouts of black depression and gentle amusement punctuated by one night of boisterous drinking on the deck followed by a day of pain and suffering.

Recently I have been informed that a number of people I know consider me something between a tragic failure and an insufferable moocher. Now normally this would disturb me, being somewhat oblivious to my peculiar behavior and shocked when it is pointed out to me that it is looked at as both odd and undesirable. I can see where some may think that. God knows, at times I think it myself. But even if it were true, when I consider that one of those who has said that is the person who has repeatedly abandoned her child, I really don’t care too much. Nevertheless, I feel I have accomplished what I have set out to do, the boy is no longer teetering on the edge psychological and physical desolation so perhaps it is time for me to move on anyway.

I have begun to deal with my periodic bouts of boredom and depression by seriously exploring publishing options other than screeds in left-wing blogs read primarily by those who prefer spending most of their lives in dark rooms venting their spleen about things they will never have the ability to affect. I realize my stuff is not particularly good or especially interesting, but from what I have observed of what is out there that would place me somewhere in the middle. It, like life in general, is a lot like running in a marathon, you may never finish in the top 10, but just finishing itself can be considered a worthy accomplishment.

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

Nikki left and later that day I spent some time with my old friend Lina. She was just passing through the Sacramento area on her way back to her home in Southern California. She seemed happy to remind me of the many failures of my personal life. The next day I went to the doctor for a check up. He prescribed a lot of pills. That made me happy.

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

A lengthy digression on traveling and old Greeks:

I think here I should interrupt my usual narrative and share with you (well to be honest, impose upon you) my recent musings about traveling.

My approach to traveling is somewhat like my approach to life; it is not arriving at your destination that is important but what happened along the way. I call it Pookieism.

For example, assume that I depart from San Francisco intending to travel to, say Rome to visit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. If that is what I efficiently did and returned home equally efficiently, I for one would be unsatisfied indeed.

If on the other hand I were to depart on that same voyage and along the way be diverted by circumstances outside of my control or through my stupidity and thereby facing perhaps danger, or passion, beauty or tedium and return home without ever getting to see Michelangelo’s frescos (the chapel would probably be closed anyway, for repairs or for some obscure holiday), I would consider my trip a success.

I guess, one could consider Pookieism something like Buddhism, but from somewhat the opposite viewpoint. Where Buddhism urges one to withdraw from the unreality of perception, Pookieism suggests you revel in it.

When I look back into my life, anytime I single-mindedly pursued a goal and overcame many obstacles to achieve it, I almost always came away dissatisfied, became depressed and soon decided to spend my time doing something else. On the other hand whenever I was diverted from my path, or failed in achieving my goal or found myself hopelessly lost, I often was overjoyed. Why, because there was so much experience, so much pathos and so much joy. And, oh the stories…

Yes, of course there were things that to this day I wish never happened and if I could I would want not to have occurred, but they did and the exquisite if odious memories of the experience accompanies me like tattoos on the skins of generation Xers.

For those males of a certain age, some of you may recall that time when you were a kid and in your imagination played the announcer of your life. “The great slugger stands at the plate. Here comes the pitch. He swings. He misses….” Or, “Here is the world-famous runner running through the woods. Will he break the record? Oh no! He trips. He falls. Will he be able to get up, finish the race and break the record? Stay tuned.”

Well, I still do that. “Here is the aging hero walking along the side of the road recalling past loves, triumphs and failures. Out of the corner of his eye he spies a small yellow flower, stops and contemplates its beauty for a moment and then walks on, crosses the street, the freshly painted striping glowing so whitely in the sun it hurts his eyes. Suddenly he remembers he forgot to buy that bottle of milk. Should he return to the store or proceed on toward home? He stands there at the edge of the road, like the brave Ulysses on the beach contemplating whether to return home to the aging but loyal Penelope or spend another night in the arms of the beautiful Calypso?”

Speaking of Ulysses, Homer’s account is not quite how it happened.

One night the short, bandy-legged, scraggly bearded young man named Ulysses, who lived in a subdivision on a small island in the Adriatic, left the home on a cull-de-sac he shared with his wife, young son, various hangers-on, and a pack of dogs, telling everyone he was going to the store to buy a carton of milk, or an amphora of wine or new sandals or whatever. Now twenty years later he stood on the corner of the block down from his old home, broke, hungry and older. He contemplated the excuses he would tell his wife for his long absence. He concocted stories about ships and strange wars, jealous gods, wooden horses, one-eyed monsters and to cover up the long periods of time he spent living with a succession of comely young women, he fell back on the tried and true excuse of philandering husbands of the time, bewitchment.

On the other hand, the also aging but still zaftig and supposedly loyal Penelope wanted no part of the smelly midget bastard’s return. She had happily spent the past 20 years screwing the Theban pool boy and every young stud in town. The assholes return would only mean she would have to give up the good life and return to working on that goddamn loom. Besides, she needed an excuse of her own to explain why for the last 20 years the same old piece of cloth hung on that machine with no further work done on it since he left. She told all her boyfriends that she would choose one of them to settle down with when she finished weaving the cloth. They were so stupefied with the thought of getting into her toga whenever she lifted its hem for them they forgot all about the status of that rotting rag.

She believed however that she would need something better to convince the crafty asshole of her unbelievable 20 years of fidelity. She decided to elaborate on the story and planned to tell her returning husband, if unfortunately he should ever return, that she weaved at the loom all day and every night she tore out what she had done during the day. If the simple and unbelievable story had worked on her lovers why wouldn’t this expanded version work on that scheming lying bastard Ulysses?

Nevertheless, she still was surprised when the testosterone poisoned dwarf suddenly and unexpectedly showed up at her door and started killing all of her boyfriends and the Theban pool boy as well.

Sadly, Penelope was forced back to working all day at the goddamn loom and at night diddling herself while the drunken scumbag lay snoring among his dogs after buggering some prepubescent boy-chick.

As Holden Caulfield would say, “Crummy.”

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 29:

“So,” I said to the smiling Vietnamese killing machine sitting next to me. “Did you have a good time last night.” Although I was determined not to show any jealousy, I failed by asking the question.

He looked at me, his ever-present smile dimmed slightly. “Mavis insisted we stop at Rabat for a drink.”

Rabat is one of those 20 somethings hangouts that over the past few years have sprung up south of the City’s Market Street in the old warehouse district first abandoned by the industries that they were built to house and then by the dot-com inundation that collapsed as suddenly as it began. Now it is a place filled with hook-up bars on the verge of decline as the newest generation begins to realize they can achieve the same results with their smart phones for less money.

“After one or two drinks she said she did not want you getting hurt. I asked why she thought that you might be harmed. She said she had spoken with Mark Holland that morning and he seemed angry, maybe drunk or stoned and was making threats. She would not say anything more. I tried to get her to talk to Martin but she refused. I offered to take her home but she wanted to be alone. So I left.”

There was no reason to ask him if he then spoke to Martin and told him about his conversation, so I took out my phone and called Mavis.

She answered on the second ring with a flat, hello.

“It’s me Dragon. You OK?

“Yeah. What do you want?”

“I have to see you right away.”

“I’m busy right now.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Make time.”

I hung up and turned toward Vu.He had tensed up and was staring at the street. The limo had passed again and stopped halfway down the block. One of the Tons of Fun got out of the passenger side and started walking toward us. The Limo took off again down Columbus toward downtown.

As he approached he lifted his hands up in a gesture of peace and said “relax, I’ve just come to talk.” He pulled out a chair and sat down his bulk overwhelming it.

“OK Brett whats up?”

He looked at Joe for a moment and said, “I just thought I’d drop by and find out how you’re doing on my little assignment.”

Anna came by. He ordered an espresso and a Tirimisu. I said to Anna. “Make sure you get paid when you bring the stuff. I’ve had too many people leaving me with the check recently.” He chuckled.

“I had gotten the impression I was fired.”

“Nah, just a failure to communicate. So have you found out anything about Holland yet?”

“No, I think he’s long gone from here.”

The coffee and Tirimisu arrived. He downed the coffee in a single gulp and the Tirimisu in about three forkfuls. Pushed back from the table.

“I’m pretty sure he’s around here somewhere.”

“How do you know?”

“A hunch.”

“I sure would like to know who ever it is that is whispering your hunches into your ears.”

He laughed and strode off. By the time he disappeared around the corner, I realized he had not paid for his snack.

I looked at Joe he was still tensely staring after the Fat Man. “Relax,” I said. “What did you expect a gun battle right here in Downtown San Francisco?”

He stared at the traffic passing on the street in front of us and said. “Guns are useful only at a distance and to scare the inexperienced. If you use a gun and don’t hit your target you are either crazy, stupid or incompetent. If it happens with a lot of people around probably someone not involved will be hurt. I assume if someone wants to kill me he will do it by surprise or from someplace hidden. If I am lucky and he misses, I need to find someplace to hide. The first bullet in my gun is a blank set up to be very loud and produce a lot of smoke. I hope it will cause my attacker to duck or close his eyes momentarily giving me time to get away. I also will not kill an innocent bystander in my panic to return fire. You Americans think guns protect you. They do not. Your brain protects you. Guns are a very limited tool, more dangerous to you than to anyone else.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019aff58a4e0970c

B. Chronicles of the Parasites:

According to Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein in their article, The Growth of Modern Finance:

“The U.S. financial services industry grew from 4.9% of GDP in 1980 to 7.9% of GDP in 2007. A sizable portion of the growth can be explained by rising asset management fees…. Another important factor was growth in fees associated with an expansion in household credit, particularly fees associated with residential mortgages. This expansion was itself fueled by the development of non-bank credit intermediation (or “shadow banking”). We offer a preliminary assessment of whether the growth of active asset management, household credit, and shadow banking–the main areas of growth in the financial sector–has been socially beneficial….”

Several times here in T&T and in some of my blog posts I argued that the modern financial system that first developed in the US and the north atlantic countries and has now spread throughout the world since 1980 has in fact limited the growth of world wealth rather than grown it as some of its supporters, such as Milton Friedman, predicted.

Brad DeLong has recently commented on the fact that in 1950 finance and insurance in the US accounted for less than 3% of GDP, but by 2011 accounts for almost 6% of GDP without measurable evidence that it has boosted growth by expected amounts.

Delong also pointed our a fundamental truth about the current financial system:

“There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money…”

He adds:

“Over the past year and a half, in the wake of Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff’s estimate that 2% of U.S. GDP was wasted in the pointless hypertrophy of the financial sector, evidence that our modern financial system is less a device for efficiently sharing risk and more a device for separating rich people from their money–a Las Vegas without the glitz–has mounted.”

Recently in revisiting this problem Delong wrote:

“…the events and economic research of the past years have demonstrated three things. First, modern finance is simply too powerful in its lobbying before legislatures and regulators for it to be possible to restrain its ability to create systemic macroeconomic risk while preserving its ability to entice customers with promises of safe, sophisticated money management. Second, the growth-financial deepening correlations on which I relied do indeed vanish when countries move beyond simple possession of a banking system, EFT, and a bond market into more sophisticated financial instruments. And, third, the social returns to the U.S.’s and the North Atlantic’s investment in finance as the industry of the future over the past generation has, largely, crapped out. A back-of-the-envelope calculation I did in 2007 suggested that in mergers and acquisitions the world paid finance roughly $800 billion/year for about $170 billion/year of real economic value–a rather low benefit-cost ratio–and that appears to be not the exception but the rule.”

In other words, as I never tire of repeating, in one form or another the depredations of the parasite community impoverishes us all.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

 

TODAY’S CHART:
6a00e551f080038834019aff576401970c

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130924_064710_707_2
Rosy Fingered Dawn in El Dorado Hills

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pops 0002

Dum spiro, spero

“Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it”
Anon

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Despite my fatigue with Thailand and my eagerness to leave, as my departure date inched closer I grew sadder. I have grown fond of the Old Man’s Caucus at the Health Club, the ministrations of my new masseuse, watching Thai soaps and applying my interpretation to the bizarre events that appear on the screen (and the stunningly bad acting), the few days every few months I spend conversing with David, the incomprehensible discussions with LM and more. Eventually, the time arrived and I sadly watched LM disappear from view as I passed through airport customs.

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

I remained for two days at my sister’s house in Berkeley. We spent most of that brief visit reminiscing about family. This time we focused on our Sicilian relatives with brief side-trips to memories and stories about those who came to the US from Sabina. My sister and brother-in-law and their two children Brendan and Katie spent most of Saturday conducting a garage sale in preparation for selling the Berkeley house in the next few months and relocating to their home in Mendocino. Some of the stuff I recognized from our homes back in NY over forty years ago including a slightly menacing ceramic clown that for some reason our father was obsessed with.IMG_20130824_133226_974

Even Bingo the dog was up for sale.

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

Ruth sent some emails regarding travels we had done together that I only dimly remembered. One was a trip to tour Area 51 of UFO fame. Dick had been invited on one of the earliest tours of the site allowing civilians. He asked me to join him and I in turn invited Ruth suggesting that after the tour we spend some time together in Las Vegas. Since she was traveling from LA and I from SF, I proposed we meet at the site. For some reason I did not show up. Ruth mentioned that she expressed her dismay at my behavior to another person on the tour who apparently knew me. According to Ruth he urged her not to take it personally and added that I, “did that sort of thing to people all the time.”

I eventually did show up in Vegas for the rest of the weekend.

It saddened me that those wonderful trips we took together, to Italy, the Columbia River Valley, the LA end of the Millennium Party had begun to drift so far from memory.
00002030
Ruth and I uncomfortable at a 60s revival costume party in the 90s somewhere in Culver City.

I always believed that life was lived for the variety of its experiences, the good and the bad, success and the failures. Alas, I now recognize that it all inevitably disappears from memory and except for the Butterfly Effect, it may just as well never have happened.

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

I am now in El Dorado Hills, recovered from jet lag and wondering how to fill my time. Yesterday I sat on the deck and marveled about the deep blue skies here that I love so much, until the 95 degree heat drove me inside again.
IMG_20130826_182839_516
Dick prepares a snack for us on the deck

HHH has just begun to enter that phase of childhood where young boys transition from an excited interest in everything to long periods of staring at nothing in particular. I visited with Norbert and Stevie on the way here.

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

As HHH and I virtually were entering the car to begin out trip to Mendocino for the Labor Day weekend when we received a call from she who at her insistence must not be mentioned deciding against his going on the trip. Alas I was so furious I took it out on HHH. I felt like a schmuck. I cancelled my trip so that Dick would not be unnecessarily burdened. He was great. He planned enough activities for the holidays to bring me out of my funk. Triple H and I went fishing in the lake by the library, spent two enjoyable days swimming at the community pool, attended the local high school football game (The home team was leading 35-0 by half time when we left), spent a morning at the huge flea market in Roseville, had a pleasant dinner with Stevie and Norbert and went to watch Triple H drive in a go-cart race.
IMG_20130901_095845_206
Fishing…

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

 

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Your story didn’t sound quite right.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, that’s too bad. You got a better one?
Eddie Mars: Maybe I can find one.
Chapter 26

I called out to Vihn when I was a few feet away. He turned and with that slight smile he affected, stared at me.

“I found something you need to see,” I said.

“I’ll join you after I see Ms. Reilly.”

“No, this is something you need to see right now.”

He hesitated a moment, shrugged and followed me across the yard.

When we got to the door of the cottage, I said, “Chang should stay here and make sure we are not disturbed.”

Vihn nodded to Chang and followed me into the house.

“Don’t touch anything,” I warned. “No sense in making it easier for anyone.”

We walked directly to the office in the back and stood by the door.

“I’ve found your furniture. At least some of it.”

We entered the room. Vihn crouched down and examined the pieces of furniture. I pointed to the waste basket. He looked in and nodded slightly.

“You’ve now involved me in a crime. Tell me again how this was just some household furnishings import deal.”

He look-up at me, said, “I should have known, but I didn’t”

“Did you kill him?”

“No. What makes you think it was murder.”

“Nothing, but there are only two condoms probably used to transport drugs and an awful lot more places to hide them. I’d ask whoever built the furniture and was involved in the shipment in Thailand what they know about it.” I hesitated a moment, “Why do you suppose he opened just the two condoms if there were more hidden?” Then I added, “I assume you don’t intend to tell the police about this?” He did not answer.

Said, “Well you know where to find me.” and with that I turned and left, collected Mavis from her gaggle of friends and departed the Reilly compound.

Outside Joe was standing with another of Vihn’s minions, whose name I had forgotten, eyeing Fat Bart. I motioned to him that it was time to leave. As he turned, I noticed a slight bump in his back at his waist. “You went to get your gun? Were you contemplating the Shootout in Marin?”

He chuckled. “No only you white guys would think of standing face to face with someone and shooting off guns at each other to prove who had the biggest dick. That just results in a good chance of your own willy being shot off. Did you know that at the OK Corral the stupid fuckers were only about 20 feet apart when they started firing at each other and most of the bullets missed? No, the only purpose of a gun is that if someone starts shooting at you and misses you can make enough noise to make him hesitate long enough for you to run away and hide. Then if he is as bad a marksman as he has already proven himself to be and dumb enough to try to find your hiding place then, you bet, he’s soon dead from my gun.”

We then walked back to the car in silence. During the drive back I again sat in the back seat and stewed over wise-ass Joe’s rejoinder and decided that I would be happy to be rid of him now that the investigation is over. But I wasn’t and the investigation wasn’t over either. Where was Holland? He probably would know what actually happened to Reilly and the shipment. As we approached my loft building I tried to tell myself that I did not care about finding Holland. But I was not convincing. So I told Mavis that I had a headache and wanted to be alone tonight.

I stood on he sidewalk and watched them drive off fully expecting the two of them to be balling the night away somewhere and that I probably would not see either of them again. I got very very depressed. I was jealous also.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

February 14th, 1884: Theodore Roosevelt watched his mother die from typhoid fever then went upstairs in his home to watch his wife die from child-birth an hour later. This all happened on Valentine’s Day and was Theo’s 2 year anniversary of getting engaged to his wife. He was 25. In his diary that day, he wrote simply that “The light has gone out of my life.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/surprising-pieces-of-trivia-2013-8#ixzz2dH8SSojP

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Since 2001 we’ve seen total wages rise 40% while:
Total rents are up 60%
Health care is up 100%
College is up 120%
Energy costs are up 80%
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=lVR

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is. Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.”
David Frum, Republican Consultant.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

o-RELIGION-MAP-570

 
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130901_192801_872
It looks a lot like sunset in Tuscany…

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 8 Pepe 0001 (October 26, 2012)

TODAY FROM THAILAND AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Thankfully my travels are over for a while, along with it my Travelogue. I hate Travelogues. I have found only two travel books that I have consider to be worth reading. The first is Tahir Shah‘s Sorcerer’s Apprentice in which Shah sets off to India, where he had never been before, in search of a magician of ill repute he had heard about as well as initiation into the brotherhood of Indian godmen. The second is A Short Walk Through the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby in which a pair of doofuses set off to go where no westerner had gone for almost one hundred years and lived to tell about it.

I have returned to El Dorado Hills where sameness rules and where excitement is generated by realizing ones gas gauge shows the tank is only 1/4 filled.

El Dorado Hills, The Hills of Gold, an apt name for the virtually worthless mounds of dirt that proved to be a goldmine for the developers and a place of unrelenting servitude to those who chose to live here; as tied to the mortgages on the land and houses on which they live as any serf was bound to the lord of the manor a few centuries ago

My mornings here in El Dorado Hills, are spent at Bella Bru Coffee Shop in a nearby shopping center, eating a bagel and café latte breakfast while huddled next to the only electrical outlet available to customers into which I can plug in my new Macbook Air computer. Around me, at the nearby tables, aging white men mumble about evils inflicted on the country by that black man in the White House while studiously avoiding mentioning his Mormon challenger.

I intend to stay here for about one month and leave to return to Thailand in mid November.

We won the custody suit. The petitioner, the Federal Policeman sworn to uphold the law, argued to the amusement of all in the courtroom at the time, that a law more than 20 years old should not be enforced.

With the victory, SWAC was free to fly away; which she did a few days later. And so, I returned to my nanny duties for the month. She has promised to return in time for my departure for Thailand. In the meantime Hayden’s four or so putative step-fathers seem to be coping ok.

Winter is coming. After perhaps the longest summer in my memory, with temperatures in the high 80’s and 90’s lasting through the third week in October, winter descended on El Dorado Hills with the suddenness of the explosion of a land mine. Amidst tornado warnings and intermittent rain squalls, dark black clouds banished the blue skies of summer to search for somewhere else to spread their cheer.

My daughter Jessica signed me up for Kindle and bought me two books. As with most new Kindle readers, I approached it feeling that I was a traitor to the world of printed books. I feared someone from the Strand Bookstore would find me out; much as adolescents masturbating in the bathroom fear being caught by their parents.

The books she bought me were the first two books of a planned trilogy by Justin Cronin. They are about vampires. I have always been terrorized by vampires. As a child, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, ghosts or ghouls I could deal with with a certain level of aplomb, but Dracula terrorized me. At night I could not take the few steps from my house to the garbage cans to throw out the trash without fearing I would hear the sound of leather wings beating softly above me. I could not walk past a poster of that great Vamp, Bella Lugosi, with his cape and fake incisors without a shudder (come to think about it, I wonder if it wasn’t the lipstick and eye shadow that scared me).

The books themselves are about the end of the world as we know it, caused by a US military experiment gone awry. It is more about atmosphere and fatalism than character or plot. The author’s style is simple, almost child like. Yet, the world he paints has a depressing sense of completeness, if not believability.

As I grow older, I find that for about a half hour or so after reading something, my perceptions are subtly altered. For example, after reading A Cat in The Hat to Hayden, should I return to reading a prose description of something or another, for a while the words, in my mind fall into the cadences and rhythms of Dr. Seuss. After reading Cronin’s book, if I go outside and stand on the deck looking across the subdivision at the hill across the valley that circumscribes my view, I am depressingly convinced that the rest of the world has disappeared beneath ravening hordes of blind rapaciousness and fury. Come to think of it, perhaps that is not all that far from the truth.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

The Mystery of Tutankhamen’s penis:

According to an article in New Scientist:

When I started investigating a news story about the possible cause of King Tutankhamen‘s death, I never expected to end up on the trail of his penis.

As I’ve reported today, a letter published in JAMA this week suggests that contrary to what was said earlier this year, the boy pharaoh did not die of a combination of an inherited bone disorder and a nasty case of malaria, but of a genetic disease called sickle-cell anemia.

This letter is just one of six comments that JAMA has published on the work, carried out by Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass and colleagues. Another one suggests that Tut and his relatives may have suffered from a hormonal disorder that is similar to Antley-Bixler syndrome. In this singularly interesting syndrome, a single genetic mutation causes elongated skulls, and over-production of oestrogen. Male sufferers can have distinctive physical features, including breasts and under-developed genitalia.

Irwin Braverman of Yale Medical School and Philip Mackowiak of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, believe that a variant of this syndrome could explain why artwork from the time depicts Tut and his relatives – in particular his father Akhenatun – as having feminine bodies, with hips and breasts, and particularly long heads.

Hawass dismisses the idea, in part because Tut’s penis is, as he puts it, “well-developed”. But on closer scrutiny of his paper, I spotted a note admitting that the penis in question is no longer attached to the king’s body.

I smelled a conspiracy. Could ancient Egyptian embalmers have replaced the royal member to hide the fact that their king’s manhood was somewhat lacking?

 Can one erect a sturdy theory on such flaccid evidence? Stay tuned for further developments.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The presidential election season is drawing to a close. I have a few observations.

1. Republicans believe that facts are unnecessary; only opinion matters. Democrats on the other hand believe facts count and cannot understand why no-one else does.

2. Republicans rarely ever defend Romney or whatever policy he supports in any particular week. They however constantly attack Obama but not on the facts (see #1 above). Democrats on the other hand list ad nauseum Obama’s accomplishments as well as the factual errors in the Romney/Ryan plan of the week. No-one cares.

3. Republicans are better at voter fraud than Democrats. Democrats point to studies and reports that Republicans have taken over the leadership in that area from the Democrats of a generation or so ago. Republicans ignore the studies and insist on blaming Acorn for everything including global warming. (See #1 and #2 above.)

4. Nothing matters in the election but Ohio anyway (see #1, #2, and #3 above).

DAILY FACTOID:

DURING THE 736 DAYS BEGINNING May 9, 2010, Harper Reed walked an average of 8,513 steps, reaching a high mark of 26,141 on September 13, 2010, and a low of 110 on April 21 of this year. (His excuse: broken pedometer.) On that day, Reed, age 34.33 as of this writing, sent one tweet, 55 below his average. Reed was traveling from Chicago to Colorado, where he grew up, where he has spent 39.5 percent of his time away from home since 2002, and where, in 1990, he attended his first concert (David Bowie, McNichols Arena, row HH, seat 8). He has read 558 books in three years—roughly 1,350 pages per week at a cost of 4 cents per page. On May 11, 2011, he slept 14.8 hours before waking up at precisely 2:47 p.m. It was a personal best. (Mother Jones)

Harper Reed records everything he does. Harper Reed is one of the Obama campaign’s technical advisers. He describes his campaign role as a “force multiplier.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

“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?”
Trenz Pruca

B. Electioneering:

“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.”
~Harry S. Truman

At least the Republican’s have not changed their principles in over 70 years…on the other hand it seems like the Democrats have not either.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
Frederic Bastiat

Bastiat was a strong libertarian of his time (19th Century), not so much because he believed in the fictional invisible hand of the free market, but because he saw how the bourgeois class that was so supportive of the American and French revolutions immediately manipulated the democratic institutions they helped create for their own benefit. Socialism he believed did the same thing. He considered strong laws limiting what someone could do to someone else necessary in a free society but could not figure out how the to keep the institutions from becoming perverted. Alas he died before resolving that conundrum.

TODAY’S CHART:

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Categories: October 2012 through December 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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