Posts Tagged With: Energy

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Pops 0006. (August 29, 2017)

 

 

 

 

“Jefferson warned that without economic democracy there can be no political democracy”.
Fred Harris

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

 

A. Traveling from Bangkok to El Dorado Hills.

I do not know why it is but I usually find the most unpleasant trips the most interesting. It was that way on my trip back from Thailand. We left the apartment at about 7PM in order to get to the airport early enough for me to get a good seat. Suvarnabhumi Airport was more crowded and disorganized than I had ever seen it. After a difficult time securing my ticket, I was told the flight was delayed until 6:30 in the morning.

I arrived in Shanghai just as my connecting flight to the US was leaving. I had forgotten how the Chinese bureaucratic system differs from that in the US. In the US, probably for reasons of cost, people relating to the public are trained, for better or worse, to handle a number of somewhat discretionary activities. The Chinese it seems are not. Each functionary there appears to have been assigned only a single, not particularly discretionary, action.

As I exited the plane, I saw a young man with a sign that announced, “Transfer Passenger Assistance” and showed him my ticket. He looked confused. Walked away to speak to someone, returned and pointed vaguely toward a corridor leading from the hall. After passing through several hallways, I entered a large room containing several counters. Above one was a sign in English that read, “24-hour transit passengers.” I guessed that was the counter I was looking for. There was a long line and only one clerk. When I got to her and showed her my ticket she responded, “Transit Hotel.” I asked “Where?” She handed me a paper with my name on it and pointed to another traveler and said, “Follow that woman.”

“That woman” proved to be another lost and confused American who missed the same connecting flight as I. We passed through another warren of hallways until we came to a room even larger than the previous one with a lot of counters around the walls in front of which were crowds of clamoring travelers. We noticed a group of people in the center of the room who we recognized from our plane and asked them if they knew what was happening. One said, “I think we are supposed to wait here until someone comes for us.”

I noticed a counter over which was a sign that read something like “Transit Supervisor.” I approached him and asked what it is we should do. He pointed at a bunch of chairs against one wall and said, “Sit there, someone will come for you.”

So, we sat there for a long time and to our relief eventually, someone came and ordered us to follow him. We asked where we were going but received no answer. He marched us to a bus, too small to sit all of us and our luggage so many had to stand in the aisle amid the piled suitcases.

After a long long ride that ultimately brought us back to an airport hotel across the street from where we began, we disembarked and entered the hotel and milled around the lobby until one of us thought it would be a good idea to approach the reception desk. We did and at first, they did not seem to understand what we were all doing there. Then one of the women behind the desk motioned to us and began assigning rooms. When I approached and asked for a single room she said brusquely, “Two to a room” and assigned an elderly Japanese man to room with me. At first, I was offended that I had to share a room and with another, an old man no less, but I then realized he was no older than me. He spoke barely any English and I no Japanese but I soon discovered him to be one of the nicest and kindest people I had ever met.

I then asked about dinner and there ensued a several hour hullabaloo where I turned into the ugly American. I thoroughly enjoyed it, shouting away and laughing until everyone turned their back on me except for the servers who laughed with me (or at me, who knows).

The next morning at the airport the lines and confusion were staggering until a guard asked if I was on the plane to SF. When I answered in the affirmative he whisked me through everything and off I flew.

Having slept well the night before, I could not fall asleep during the flight so I watched all three episodes of Lord of the Rings. I found Frodo’s bulging eyes disconcerting and wondered why everyone had blue eyes.

It took five hours or so to get from SF airport to Hobbitown in the Golden Hills.

 

B. Back in El Dorado Hills.

Now some might wonder how I could equate EDH with the Shire. Easy, they both have a certain picturesque attractiveness; they both are set among rolling hills; they both are self-indulgent inward looking societies; they both see the outside world as full of orcs, goblins, sorcerers, violence and malevolence and; the citizens of both have hairy feet and do not wear shoes. Well, actually, the citizens of EDH do wear shoes.

I have resumed my life here as before; wake in the morning; drive HRM to school; Bella Bru for cafe latte and cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese; walk about three miles around the lake; return home and read a book; nap; have dinner and; retire to my room for my daily dose of existential anguish.

On Wednesday, I leave to spend a week at my sister’s home in Mendocino. She is hosting an engagement party for her son Brendan and his intended Ashley. She expects about 60 people to spend the weekend in and around the house. The Paella Lady and her huge paella pan will be there. Also, lots of Italian and Philippine food to eat and I expect a lot of music too.

On Sunday we plan to attend Paul Bunyan Day in Fort Bragg.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

When he was about 5 or 6, I used to tell HRM stories every evening. The following is one of them:

“So, last night, at bedtime, I continued telling the series of stories to Hayden that I had begun about two years ago. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit Bill and Naida’s ranch).”

“Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of ‘The Old Man Under the Mountain.’ With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego cuddly toy shares my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse. In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not so Powerful a Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.””

“They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.”

“The knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named ‘Heimlich.’ Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called Pruneberry the King of the Castle (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother Natasha Dewlap married Heimlich’s uncle, Julius Caesar (we both thought that was a very funny name).”

“Anyway, Heimlich and his friend [who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well be something as ridiculous and Guildenstern or Rosencrantz or even Miracle Max] one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go the cemetery to visit the site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way, they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.”

“Anyway, Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.”

“When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, ‘Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.’”

“At this point, Hayden asked me ‘How can a ghost speak after he died?’”

“‘A keen observation,’ I acknowledged. ‘That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.’”

“The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.”

“And so, the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, ‘Say Natty does this look familiar to you?’ At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passers-by.”

“Hayden then asked me, ‘What are rutabagas?’ I said, ‘I did not know.”’

“Heimlich, thereafter spent every day alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named ‘Snowy,’ looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabagas to passers-by, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party.”

“The End.”

“I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale that I would tell him about tomorrow [I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear]. But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.”

“I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story now because he needed to get a good night’s sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the ‘Deep Dark Wood’ to visit his mom.”

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

“Perhaps the greatest challenge of the algorithm revolution is that as machines and the algorithms that drive them have become ever-more complex, we are rapidly losing our ability to understand how they work and anticipate unexpected behaviors and weaknesses. From just 145,000 lines of code to place humans on the moon in 1969 to more than 2 billion lines of code to run Google in 2015, today’s systems are labyrinths of interconnected systems.”
Kalev Leetaru, Forbes Magazine.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Levinson on Top:

 

1948 — 1973 a golden age like no other.

“The second half of the 20th century divides neatly in two. The divide did not come with the rise of Ronald Reagan or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is not discernible in a particular event, but rather in a shift in the world economy, and the change continues to shape politics and society in much of the world today.”

“The shift came at the end of 1973. The quarter-century before then, starting around 1948, saw the most remarkable period of economic growth in human history. In the Golden Age between the end of the Second World War and 1973, people in what was then known as the ‘industrialized world’ – Western Europe, North America, and Japan – saw their living standards improve year after year. They looked forward to even greater prosperity for their children. Culturally, the first half of the Golden Age was a time of conformity, dominated by hard work to recover from the disaster of the war. The second half of the age was culturally very different, marked by protest and artistic and political experimentation. Behind that fermentation lay the confidence of people raised in a white-hot economy: if their adventures turned out badly, they knew, they could still find a job.”

“The year 1973 changed everything. High unemployment and a deep recession made experimentation and protest much riskier, effectively putting an end to much of it. A far more conservative age came with the economic changes, shaped by fears of failing and concerns that one’s children might have it worse, not better. Across the industrialized world, politics moved to the Right – a turn that did not avert wage stagnation, the loss of social benefits such as employer-sponsored pensions and health insurance, and the secure, stable employment that had proved instrumental to the rise of a new middle class and which workers had come to take for granted. At the time, an oil crisis took the blame for what seemed to be a sharp but temporary downturn. Only gradually did it become clear that the underlying cause was not costly oil but rather lagging productivity growth — a problem that would defeat a wide variety of government policies put forth to correct it.”

“The great boom began in the aftermath of the Second World War. The peace treaties of 1945 did not bring prosperity; on the contrary, the post-war world was an economic basket case. Tens of millions of people had been killed, and in some countries, a large proportion of productive capacity had been laid to waste. Across Europe and Asia, tens of millions of refugees wandered the roads. Many countries lacked the foreign currency to import food and fuel to keep people alive, much less to buy equipment and raw material for reconstruction. Railroads barely ran; farm tractors stood still for want of fuel. Everywhere, producing enough coal to provide heat through the winter was a challenge. As shoppers mobbed stores seeking basic foodstuffs, much less luxuries such as coffee and cotton underwear, prices soared. Inflation set off waves of strikes in the United States and Canada as workers demanded higher pay to keep up with rising prices. The world’s economic outlook seemed dim. It did not look like the beginning of a golden age.”

“As late as 1948, incomes per person in much of Europe and Asia were lower than they had been 10 or even 20 years earlier. But 1948 brought a change for the better. In January, the US military government in Japan announced it would seek to rebuild the economy rather than exacting reparations from a country on the verge of starvation. In April, the US Congress approved the economic aid program that would be known as the Marshall Plan, providing Western Europe with desperately needed dollars to import machinery, transport equipment, fertilizer, and food. In June, the three occupying powers – France, the United Kingdom, and the US – rolled out the Deutsche mark, a new currency for the western zones of Germany. A new central bank committed to keeping inflation low and the exchange rate steady would oversee the Deutsche mark.”

“Postwar chaos gave way to stability, and the war-torn economies began to grow. In many countries, they grew so fast for so long that people began to speak of the ‘economic miracle’ (West Germany), the ‘era of high economic growth’ (Japan) and the 30 glorious years (France). In the English-speaking world, this extraordinary period became known as the Golden Age.”
Marc Levinson, End of a golden age, Aeon

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

We would not expect someone to have the talent to pitch for the New York Yankees simply because he is wealthy, so why would we give to the wealthy, solely because they have been successful in making money, the right to tell us how we live, how our money invested in government is to be spent and a host of other things of common interest. After all, their expertise is limited to making money, usually in a very narrow field of endeavor. Why would we not expect their advice to be biased to favor them making more money?

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation”.
~Howard Scott

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

 

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At 7, I could not speak a second language and except for a passing acquaintance with Italian, I still cannot.
At 18, my mind concentrated on baser pleasures than the quality of its processing.
At 22, I could not remember anyone’s name. I still cannot.
At 23, I was in law school. It was not compatible with life satisfaction.
At 25, I was as weak as a baby. Still am.
At 26, I was married — the first of many.
At 28, I had not yet run a marathon. I still have not.
At 30, I do not know about bone mass but my adipose mass was clearly increasing.
At 31, it had been 10 years since I had last played a game of chess.
At 32, I could remember faces. I still can. There are some I wish I could forget.
At 39, whatever peaked was not applicable to me.
At 40, I had not won a Noble Prize — still, haven’t. I have never been nominated either.
At 48, I had not reached my peak income. That occurred 15 years later. I lost it all a few years after that. Is there a peak year for losing your money?
At 50, I could not balance my checkbook — still cannot.
At 51, I did not understand peoples emotions — never could, never will.
At 69, I was dissatisfied and moved to Thailand.
At 71, I began to use more profanity whenever I spoke with anyone.
At 74, you have got to be kidding.
At 82, I sure hope my psychological well-being will peak— nothing else will.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Richard K. Diran. Danae and the Shower of Gold.

“The King of Argos had only one child, a daughter named Danae. Although beautiful, the king wanted a son and went to the Delphic oracle to ask if there was any hope of having a son. The oracle said, ‘no’ and worse that Danae would have a son who would kill him. The king could not put his innocent daughter to death so he built a room sunk underground but with part of the roof open to the sky so that light and air could come through. “

“As she lay there a mysterious thing happened. A shower of gold fell from the sky, it was Zeus in this form who impregnated her and she would bear the son who would kill her father the king.”

 

 

 

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Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    10 Shadow 0006 (June 30, 2017)


Please note on your calendars that July 15 is NATIONAL BE A DORK DAY. 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:
I arrived in Bangkok, the city of the “Sidewalks of Death.” Should one stroll about the town one might: find the sidewalk beneath of him suddenly open up, plunging him into the fetid miasmatic water below and carrying him off to the equally pestilential waters of some ancient canal, there to drown —  trip on a crack in the pavement sending him tumbling into the street where he is maimed or killed by hoards of crazed bikers trying to beat the traffic light — be attacked by rabid soi dogs and sewer rats who gnaw off his ankles — be abducted by an evil tuk-tuk driver and disappear forever — be set upon by a group of manic ladyboys pouring out of an alley who either ravish his body or beat him senseless and steal his money. I love this city.
The flight from Rome to Bangkok was uneventful except during the leg from Kuwait to Bangkok where the young man sitting next to me, who appeared to be a religious of some sort, insisted that I listen to a recording of incessant chanting by some Iman or something. That was OK because there is nothing I prefer to sleep through than chanting.
Bangkok is hot (but not as hot as is parts of California right now). It rains every afternoon and evening— often big grumbling thunder showers. So, I go about whatever I go about these days in the mornings and lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling or tap away at my computer in the afternoon and evenings.
Thailand is billed by the Thai Visitors Bureau as the “Land of Smiles.” Thais have at least 15 types of smile, none of which means I’m pleased to see you — except for of shopkeepers, grifters and bar girls who unfortunately see you only as an ATM machine.
In the morning, as I walk from my apartment to the health club, I check to see which of the denizens of the street I have come to recognize over the years are missing since the last time I visited. The massive homeless young man often seen sprawled in a stupor on the sidewalks of Soi Nana or wandering in a daze down the street seems to be gone. The one legged “king of the beggars” as I named him because of his handsome features, meticulous trimmed hair and beard who I now and then see entering for lunch some of the better restaurants on Soi 11, has resumed his post on the sunny corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 5.
My part of Bangkok continues to change and disappear. The old buildings with the cheap restaurants, go-go bars, and nightclubs get torn down, replaced with gleaming silver towers boasting that they contain the greatest award winning condominiums, or offices, or the finest of the three or four other luxury hotels with the same name in the city. The people who lived worked or played there move out and new people move in — the ongoing migration of a vibrant urban area. The extent of pain and dislocation caused by it is usually a function of how rapidly it occurs.
One of Thailand’s major preoccupations is with massage. It is ingrained in the religious and cultural subconscious of the country. The Thais even developed their own brand of massage that is taught in the most prestigious temples throughout the nation. It consists of vigorous application of the hands, elbows, forearms, and feet by the masseuse to various points on the customer’s body accompanied by periodic sudden stretching or wrenching of his joints. Although a Thai massage can make you feel great after it is over, many people find the process too painful. As a result foreigners often, after a brief flirtation with “the real thing,” eventually turn to more traditional massage with its vigorous rubbing of the body with oil, with or without a happy ending. Many “legitimate” massage establishments do not provide happy endings (it is, in fact, illegal).
Speaking of legitimate massage in Bangkok, I would like to make a pitch to those who may visit the city to try Silk Spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13. It is rated by several travel magazines as one of the best massage parlors in Bangkok. My old friends, Gary and Pui, own the place. Gary is Canadian. He plays ice hockey in the Thai ice hockey league. The Spa is located on Soi 13 about 50 yards off Sukhumvit. Inside, it is a little gem of a place. Gary spends many days designing and building the interior. The evidence of his craftsmanship is everywhere, from the handsome gray slate floor and attractively painted walls of the massage rooms to the marvelous two person sauna with its shining blond wood. I go there three or four times a week after I finish my mornings at the health club.
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Although I like Bangkok a lot, there is one thing I despise. That is when I am riding the bus or the Skytrain and hanging onto the strap because it is crowded and I see someone, who I am convinced is older and more decrepit than I, get up out of his or her seat and offer it to me. I usually reject the offer somewhat coldly, unless of course, I am very tired. Then, I take the seat and sit there mortified (a word not often used anymore) on the one hand and relieved on the other. It is these internal conflicts that…Hmm, I think I’ve gone on about this long enough.
I spent a couple of delightful hours with my friend the Old Sailor. He is a kind man who has lived a fascinating life as a sailor, commercial deep sea diver, treasure hunter, and the like. He lived most of his life in places by the sea in south Florida (Key West), the Virgin Islands, Easter Island and French Polynesia (Bora Bora). He now resides in a second rate hotel in Bangkok. The walls of his room are covered with photographs organized by year. When I asked him about that, he said that he was beginning to have trouble remembering things. He had, he went on, an interesting life and he did not want to forget any of it before the inevitable dimming of the light.
One day, at a nearby Italian restaurant, in the course of our rambling conversation, he began a sentence with the words, “I sailed the Windward Passage three times.”  It seemed to be an interesting story was in the offing and I was right.
One time, he either worked for or partnered with the Captain of a boat docked somewhere in South Florida. The Captain was having a dispute with someone over money or ownership or something like that. So, in the middle of the night, he and the Captain took the boat, leaving with no money between them and almost no gas to power the engines. So, they broke into a nearby refueling dock during the dark of night, refueled, and set off for wherever. Needing money, they stopped in the Virgin Islands and found a gig towing a large sailboat through the Windward Passage south of Cuba to Jamaica.
Somewhere near Cuba, a storm came upon them. At that most inopportune moment, their engine decided to quit and the boat slowed down. Unfortunately, the large sailboat did not and it smashed into their stern grabbing onto it like a shark grabbing onto a seal. Even more, unfortunately, the bowsprit of sailboat broke off and began thrashing back and forth across the deck making it impossible for the two adventures to get to it and untangle the lines and separate the boats. So, they spent the night hoping they would live to see the sunrise. The tale stopped there. Obviously, at least the Old Sailor survived. I do not know what became of the boats or the Captain or whether whatever he was fleeing from eventually caught up to him. I see in this a potential Hemingwayesque novella, “Captains Not So Very Courageous.”
A few years ago, some travel magazine commissioned a poll in which people from many countries of the world were asked if they thought it was ok to cheat foreigners out of their money. The citizens of no country responded with acceptance of such callous amoral behavior anywhere near 50% except for the Thais, over 80% of whom could see no problem in that conduct.
On Wednesday, I had lunch with the Gemologist. He is also a well-known ethnologist (The Vanishing Tribes of Burma), artist (sculpture and painting), adventurer, writer, businessman, raconteur, and man about town. I have written about him before. He has recently returned from several trips into the hill country of Burma where he photographed one of the hill tribes in their traditional dress and re-established his trading connections with the Gurkha miners and gem merchants working there. He has resumed trading high-value rubies and sapphires and showed me photographs of several beautiful examples (in the one million dollars and up each range).
IMG_1181
A Million Dollar Flawless Sapphire Recently Sold
It is always a pleasure spending an afternoon with him. We spoke of many things, mostly our disappointment with the political situation in America and the rigors of getting old.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
In California.
. Naida’s heart surgery has been successful and she is back home recovering. Unfortunately, Bill continues to suffer increasingly debilitating effects from his diabetes.
. Peter’s hip replacement surgery has been put off for a month. Although he continues to experience ever increasing pain, he still performs several times a week with other geriatric musicians at his various euphonic gigs.
In Spain.
The intrepid pilgrims, Vittorio and Teacher Brian have reached Burgos the historic capital of the Kingdom of Castile on their 30-day trek to Santiago de Compostela.
In Bangkok
. In Bangkok this week, five people died after falling into a sewer pipe.
. The Thai Prime Minister recently banned the police from continuing the practice of parading suspects before the press and re-enacting their crimes for the benefit of the cameras.
. The Thai Prime Minister, previously a general who headed the nation’s military, denied that the main purpose of the upcoming meeting in Washington with Donald Trump was to negotiate the sale of military hardware for the Thai armed forces. He seemed to indicate that since they are already getting military hardware from China and other countries, procurement of armaments from the US is not even on the agenda.
The day after the above statement was issued the Thai English language newspapers reported that the US has agreed to sell five Blackhawk helicopter gunships to the Thai military.
. TheThai Labour Ministry plans to improve the professional standards of massage therapists and promises those interested in becoming certified therapists a guaranteed standard wage ranging from 440 baht (about $14) to 815 ($27) baht per day.
“It’s important to standardize the practice of Thai massage, which is not only good for relieving muscle pain but also promotes good health,” said Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul who described it as the art of health care and healing with a simple touch of the hands.(The Bangkok Post)
I assume, “Happy endings” remain negotiable.
. Also from the Bangkok Post:
PATTAYA: A 33-year-old man (A western tourist most likely) has learned a painful and embarrassing lesson after an experiment with penis rings went terribly wrong.
Identified only as Moss, the man had to seek help after the two rings he had attached caused the organ to swell painfully and he was unable to remove them himself.
He went to Pattaya City Hospital to see if the staff there could handle the consequences of his bold decision. Doctors tried in vain to remove the rings and finally had to call rescue workers from the Sawang Boriboon Foundation to handle the delicate procedure.
The rescue experts used a small metal sheet to shield the organ and very carefully applied a cutting tool to break the rings open.
The relieved patient thanked his rescuers for their help and went away in considerably less pain than when he arrived. He did not tell them why he had put the rings on.
So goes a day in Bangkok, “The Place of Olive Plums.”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

It is true, as Donald Trump claims, that he has accomplished more in the first 150 days of his presidency than any other president during their entire term. At least in foreign policy that is so. And, no, it is not because he manages to become the laughing stock of the entire world. While that is certainly an accomplishment of some sorts and no other president can touch his level of success in that endeavor, I am thinking of something else.
In a few short months, he has managed to destroy the world order that has been in place since the beginning of WWII. It was a world order led by the US and supported by a community of nations more or less democratic and more or less prosperous, to resist those nations both large and small they saw as less democratic or wedded to an economic dogma inconsistent with their own.
It was a world order more or less agreed upon by the two major political parties in the United States. The Democrats tended to exercise American leadership more through International economic development and assistance to both friend and foe who were not bound to our perceived adversaries. The Republicans preferred strong military development and reduced economic aid. They were generally less concerned with commitments to democracy and economic improvement than in a commitment to oppose those adversaries and a willingness to engage in the vigorous development of joint defense arrangements.
In practice, it was often difficult to see the policy differences between the two parties. In fact, there often were not any differences that those we were allied with and supported could perceive in the actual programs that carried out those policies. It is also true that for the most part, those programs were far more beneficial to our own interests than to those of our allies.
It was a world order despised by both extremes of American political thought, the extreme right, and the extreme left. The extreme left often saw this as merely a cover for the exportation of regressive American economic and social policy, the support of fascist dictatorships and opposition to legitimate desire of the people of a country to change a political system they saw as repressive. The far right saw this policy as a creeping commitment to Internationalism and reduction of our national independence. They both were right in some ways.
Nevertheless, despite the cynicism and self-interest (as there is in any significant socio-political initiative), there was the glimmer of an ideal upon which the people of the world and their governments could rely. That ideal was that a great power, rather than subjugating the lesser states, would commit their wealth and power, at least in part (and often grudgingly), in alliance with like minded nations to make things better and assume the burdens of leadership in their mutual defense from those they saw as a threat to their way of life. That underlying confidence had remarkable historical consequences. Political systems changed, most for the better, international cooperation blossomed, economies flourished, and the arts and sciences advanced. This order produced a golden age like none other in history with more people than ever enjoying its benefits.
In a scant 150 days, Donald Trump has managed to utterly destroy that world order and it shall not rise again in the foreseeable future. Why did he do it? I doubt even he knows for sure. Why will it not arise again after he is gone? Because no government and no people can ever again rely upon America to exercise trustworthy leadership. It is the old confidence issue. How can any level of confidence be regained by a government or its people when that trust has so rapidly been shattered in the past?
I do not know whether it may or may not be a good thing that, as a result of this, the smaller nations of the world combine into blocks to try to effectively deal with the two remaining active super-powers and far off the United States should it ever again attempt to engage its historical allies in any manner other than as an adversary.
I do know, however, that although Donald Trump has failed to “make the US great again” in his first 150 days, in international relations he certainly has made us mostly irrelevant.

DAILY FACTOID:

The English form of  Bangkok’s actual name ( In Thai: Krung thep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahinthara ayuthaya mahadilok phop noppharat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amon piman awatan sathit sakkathattiya witsanukam prasit.  Alternative forms include Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīrāmasya utamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi, Krungthep mahanakhon amonrattanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilokphop noppharatratchathani burirom-udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonphiman awatansathit sakkathattiya witsanu kamprasit,  Krungthep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathattiya visnukamprasit) is “The City of Angels, the Great City, the Eternal Jewel City, the Impregnable City of God Indra, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City, Abounding in an Enormous Royal Palace that Resembles the Heavenly Abode where Reigns the Reincarnated God, a City Given by Indra and Built by Vishnukam.”
The word Bangkok means, “The Place of Olive Plums.”
 .
 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

Correlation or Coincidence?
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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A Thai Fishing Boat Gets Ready for a Day at Sea.
  • Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. ( 6 Mopey 0001) January 22 2012

    TODAY FROM THAILAND:

    A. Pookie’s Adventures in Thailand:

    Last night unable to fall asleep, I looked around for things that would help me do so. I decided to calculate, with the help of the word counter program on one of my applications, the number of words I had written over the past two years. It turned out I had written about one million words.

    Now what’s that all about? One Million words. That seems like a lot of words.

    Why would anyone in their right mind write so much and not get paid for it? It’s like standing in a closed room and talking to yourself; that’s the definition of nuts.

    One million words. That would be like writing 10 slim books or 5 longer boring ones.

    And why was I awake at night adding up all this stuff about words I have written? Who cares?

    That’s like figuring out how much I shit over the past two years. Since I shit about a little over pound a day, after two years I would have shit about 800 pounds. That is four times my weight.

    So after two years, what I have to show for it all is one million words and 800 pounds of shit.

    At least you can do something positive with the shit, spread in on some farm land and grow things. But, what does one do with used words.

    What happens to all these words anyway? When you press the send button on your computer or whatever it is that you do, where do they go or where are they before or after someone reads them? Somebody once told me they are in a server someplace. Does that mean somewhere there is a server with a little electronic compartment called “Joey’s words?” Someone else said they just float around in the ether. Wouldn’t these trillions and trillions of words floating around overhead eventually become too heavy and come crashing down burying us all under tons of broken letters?

    Frightening, no?

    If I wrote all one million words on pieces of paper instead of into a computer, besides a bad case of writers cramp, I would have about 5000 pieces of note paper covered in scribbled words lying around my room.

    That doesn’t seem so bad.

    My little bookcase with my thirty or so books have more than that. My personal libraries over the years probably consisted of about 15,000 books containing over a billion words.

    Why do we need so many words? Why would anyone read a billion words?

    Think about it, every day probably 100 billion words are written and that’s just those written down. There must be a million times more words than that spoken. Why?

    Maybe we are all made up of just words.

    You know, if you ask a physicist what the universe is made of he will tell you “energy.” What the hell is that, “energy?” Well, the physicist probably will explain, it is like sunlight or electricity all waves or pulses. What the hell does that mean? Nothing.

    Why not words? After all the Bible says in the beginning there was the Word. Maybe way back in the beginning all was silent. Maybe there was a prior universe and in that universe they said everything that could be said and so there was nothing more to talk or write about and everything became very quiet . The universe was sort of like a big deathly silent library.

    Then, all of a sudden, someone said something like, “Oh shit, I dropped my fucking pencil,” and then everyone started talking a once.

    “Boom” the “Big Bang,” words spreading out at the speed of light creating word galaxies, stars and solar systems.

    And what about the “dark energy” the physicists tell us makes up most of our universe? Could it actually be “Dark Words?” Could they be those words floating around in people’s minds that no-one ever hears or sees?

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    So what about my 1 million words? Don’t I have something better to do with my time?

    The Little Masseuse spends much of her time knitting wool scarves. She does it while watching television, riding on a bus or at work. After all, there is not that much to do at a health club but hand out towels and give a massage now and then.

    But wool scarves? This is Thailand for God’s sake. What would a Thai know about wool scarves? It never gets cold here. If they actually wore them, they would probably die of heat prostration. They probably saw them in some old western movie about rich people at some expensive resort in the Alps and thought they were fashion accessories beloved by westerners. It had to be old movies. Nowadays, when one goes skiing, one wears a sleek brightly colored outfit made of plastic that makes one look like an idiot robot or a cartoon character.

    Anyway, sometimes she sells them to westerners at the health club.

    What’s that all about?

    Why would someone come all the way to Thailand and buy a woolen scarf instead of one of those fake traditional Thai handicrafts sold on the sidewalks along most of the streets in Bangkok? Or, one of those carved wooden penises that the Thai’s seem to like so much and carry around in their pockets or attached to a key chain or dangling from a string tied around their necks?

    And, what is all that about penises being good luck? Come on guys when has your penis actually brought good luck; a little fun perhaps, but good luck, probably not. More than likely, the damn thing brings you a lot of bad luck if you ask me,

    Anyway, there are wool scarves stuffed everywhere throughout my apartment. I bought a bunch of them from her just to bring them to the US to get rid of them.

    No, I am not going to take up knitting instead of senselessly spewing out words to pass my time.

    Perhaps I can go and play checkers in a bar somewhere every day.

    Does anyone play checkers anymore? Probably not, they now most likely play video games on their iPhones complete with sound effects.

    I could grow tomatoes. That’s what old Italian men do. My father did it and his father before him. They were not farmers, they grew the tomatoes in their back yards or along the side of the driveway.

    My father loved his tomatoes, obsessed over them. At times I thought he loved his tomatoes more than his family. Between my father and my grandfather they must have grown a million tomatoes. That’s a lot of tomatoes.

    It’s frightening really what people chose to do with their lives.

    B. News, Straight or Slightly Bent:

    Today I had my first piece published in anything other that my own blog or some other blog that accepts everything submitted. True, it was only in the letters to the editor section of one of the two national english language newspapers in Thailand, The Nation. Nevertheless, my letter completely filled all the space allocated for the section (in other words it was long, very long). I will send a copy in my next post along with what I am sure will be outrage at my comments since I claimed, in that pseudo intellectual language that I affect and like so much, that the Thai national flood control plan is crap and doomed to fail.

    MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

    On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.

    A. Chapter 1. In the Beginning: an oft told story (continued).

    The next morning John took us on a tour of the “Ecological Staircase.” In some ways that hike changed my life as much as anything has. Never before had I experienced anyone that seemed to have such a passionate love of nature, or of anything really; musicians or those sexually bewitched maybe. Perhaps those who met John Muir or explored the marshes with Mrs. Terwilliger (“Spend the day at home and you’ll never remember it. Spend the day outdoors with me, and you’ll never forget it.”) may have been equally affected as I was during this walk. For me it seemed both revealing and somewhat disquieting.

    I grew up on the East Coast in and around New York City. I could be included among those who that passionate cynic Don Neuwirth said get nose bleeds when the soles of their feet are not in contact with cement. To us the “Woods,” as we called it, was somewhat forbidding and dangerous, a place approached with care and where possible avoided.

    As we walked along, John pointed things out like a tour guide in the Sistine Chapel. He would stop, dip his hands into the mulch of the forest floor breathing in its earthy smell then urging us to do so also. At times he tenderly touched this or that shy plant explaining its particular remarkable attributes. I soon realized I was experiencing someone who appeared to be speaking about his beloved.

    To John nature was nothing less that a symphony of renewal. I on the other hand could not go quite that far, the smell of the earth although pleasant still possessed the faint odor of decay. Where he saw in a green shoot pushing up through the browned fallen leaves as the miracle of regeneration, I saw only the catabolism of the dead.

    And yet, and yet, I could not resist his infective enthusiasm and hoped, no wanted it all to be true.

    Or, I suddenly thought, was this in fact just another example of something I once read, of, “…our peculiar American phenomenon of seeking guidance or redemption within nature.” From what could John be seeking redemption? Not being “The Olmsted?” Something that happened during recess in grammar school? A secret life perhaps?

    Among the stunted trees John explained how the nitrogen depleted soil encouraged the plants in the area to evolve to trap insects from which to obtain that chemical so necessary for life.

    As we trudged along we passed through the towering redwood forests that grew where the hard-pan had been broken at what could be called the staircase’s risers, crushed by the incessant geological forces as they thrust one step above the other.

    As we walked in the silent spaces between the giant trees, John referred to it, as many do, as a cathedral. Like a cathedral’s columns, the massive trunks climbed up to where far above sunlight filtered through the branches as it does through a cathedral’s stained glass clerestory windows. Far below, in shadow the ground revels in silence.

    But, in reality, even I knew the trees grew that high in order to expropriate the sun’s energy at the expense of everything below, just like, I assume, the builders of the great cathedrals sought to expropriate the grace of God, leaving the few worshippers scurrying about in the gloom and quiet below. Whenever I visited one of those churches, enjoying the brief respite from the vicissitudes of existence offered by the silence, I, nevertheless, soon found myself longing for the excitement and distraction of life’s bazaar outside.

    As we turned to go back to the cabin for lunch, I was a bit relieved; fatigued from scrambling across the wild terrain and somewhat overwhelmed by my sudden imersion into the intricate mysteries of nature. Mostly, I guess, because although we usually simply absorb our momentary experiences with Mother Nature in unthinking contemplation, wandering about with John, however, was more like a post-graduate course in ecological transcendentalism. It was made even more exhausting by exposure to a lovers passion that you, the observer, could not really share.

    Still, unless one is simply hateful or irredeemably cynical one usually hopes the lover succeeds and perhaps thereby you gain some vicarious empathic connection to what you could never experience directly.

    Watching them plod on ahead of me, Jeanne determined to wring all that could be wrung from her experience and John, in the lead, shinning like Gandalf the White, I felt a chill and I thought again about redemption.

    We all seek redemption for something. For me, perhaps it was absolution for that morning long ago, hearing my wife screaming over and over again, “My baby, my baby is dead” while I tried to breathe life back into that tiny purple and red splotched body and failed, or later, feeling nothing but anger at the stares of the mourners and the somber burial on some forgotten hilltop?

    Could an innocent excitement about the future and a lovers enchantment redeem anything?

    I followed them back to the cabin.

    B. Postscript: Monty.

    Undaunted by this tragedy and the collapse of his hopes and dreams at that time Monty applied the personal skills that made him successful as a prize-fighter to go on to other careers including a stint as a radio sportscaster. Eventually like so many during that time, he found himself in California and like many of those who eschewed the burgeoning and disruptive hippy sub-culture went into Real Estate and development, primarily shopping centers. He became quite successful, married had two children and a large estate in Rancho Palos Verde overlooking the ocean. Then things began going bad.

    Someone, suggested Monty consider buying some property in San Luis Obispo County; eighteen hundred acres right by the water. Monty went to see the property. It was an old cattle ranch astride Pacific Coast Highway. It had been heavily overgrazed and denuded of most flora and fauna except for the stunted grass. Yet, the gently rolling golden landscape was attractive in a desolate sort of way as it rose up into some low hills that on one side flowed seamlessly back toward the grazing lands and on the other fell precipitously onto the rocks and breakers of the Pacific Ocean. Standing there on the top of one of the hills, Monty fell in love in a way he had not experienced for many years. To some, falling in love means redemption or peace, to others it is the gateway to destruction. Alas, for Monty although he had hoped it was the former, it unfortunately turned out to be the latter.

    PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

    See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

    THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES:

    1. Chronicles: Unfortunately, I believe we have had enough dark tales for one post, so I guess we will have to wait a few more days to hear Old George’s Tales of the Dark Times.

    2. H. Glaber fellow travelers:

    The “Urban Dictionary” which defined the phrase Naked Mole Rat as someone looking particularly unattractive, usually early in the morning or late at night. Characteristics include squinty eyes, hair pressed flat against head, puffy features. Usually the result of poor or no sleep and/or way too late/early to be up and moving around.

    “She washed her face and brushed her hair, but a naked mole rat still stared back at her in the mirror.”

    “After playing video games all night he was more naked mole rat than human.”

    “That’s not a baby! That’s a naked mole rat!”

    JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

    RED STAR: Chapter, Don’t Piss Off Meg (continued):

    Meg climbed the cliff face toward the road above while the wreck below still blazed. For a moment she wondered if killing a potential witness would make finding Stephanie’s killer more difficult. She dismissed that figuring he would have been dead anyway before he could be questioned and the automobile probably was a rental so it most likely had nothing helpful in it. Whatever there is to be gotten, she was confident the technical people will be able to extract it even from the burned scraps. Besides she thought, whoever killed Steph and tried to kill her made a big mistake, they got her pissed her off.

    As she passed the emergency rescue team on the way down, she told them she was unable to get the driver out of the vehicle before it exploded and thought he was probably dead. She said she would send a technical investigation team down to sift through the wreckage.

    Arriving at the top, she saw that no one from the Sheriff’s office had arrived yet. She recognized, Mike Williams of the Pacifica PD who seemed to be in charge. She told him the same story she told the emergency rescue team and added that she believed that the automobile and driver may have been connected to a previous incident being investigated by the sheriff’s office that would send a technical investigation team to assist the Pacifica group. She promised to call Mike tomorrow and coordinate the investigation. As they walked back to her cruiser, Mike joked about the crushed bumper when he saw it.

    “Yeah,” she said laconically, “got to get that fixed.” She then got into the car radioed her office to bring them up to date and get things rolling. Picking up her cell phone she called Ray.

    She told him everything that happened including with the lighter. He remained silent.

    She then said, “Ray, I want to talk to everyone on your list starting with that fucking minister in Blackhawk. About 10 AM OK with you? Can you get it started?”

    Ray agreed but insisted he come along on the interviews. She assented. Then following some discussion about coordination she put down the phone, started the car and drove to her home in Half Moon Bay.

    She did not go directly into her house but walked the block or so to the beach, sat on a driftwood log watching the foam of waves shimmer in the moonlight and allowing the roar of the breakers drown out all thought. After a while she got up, took a deep breath, returned to her home, went in and slept deeply and unperturbed.

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

    TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

    1. 2012: Giant Rats Trained to Unearth Dangerous Landmines.

    Buddhist monk and Ashoka Fellow Bart Weetjens has trained sub-Saharan African giant pouched rats to detect land mines. Last year alone, in Gaza Mozambique 36 HeroRATs and 14 locally trained handlers cleared nearly 800,000 square meters of land, safely destroying 861 land-mines, 373 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO), 6,216 small arms and ammunitions (SAA), and one cluster bomb RBK-250-275. By the end of this year, APOPO hopes to clear an additional two million square meters of land.

    In 2010, the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) asked APOPO to conduct land release surveys along its Cambodian border, in partnership with the Thai NGO Peace Road Organization (PRO). Ten weeks of sweeps uncovered 165 anti-personnel mines and 17 anti-tank mines. APOPO will maintain a presence in Thailand to assist the country’s compliance with the 2018 AP Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) deadline.

    2. The good old days:

    Does anyone long for the “good old days” when Lysol was marketed as a feminine hygiene product with ads like these:

    3. Olive oil:

    70% of “extra virgin olive oil” is probably a fraud.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/fake-olive-oil-2012-1#70-of-extra-virgin-olive-oil-is-probably-a-fraud-17#ixzz1k3KyOYG2

    “POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT”

    Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

    What passes for political discourse in today’s United States of America:

    In a letter to his colleagues, Kansas Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal ® regarding President Barak Obama called for his death writing:

    “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!

    Let his days be few; and let another take his office

    May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

    May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

    May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

    May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.”

    As far as I know, not a single Republican or conservative political leader or commentator objected to this. Had a politician of this rank called for the death of a Republican president, Faux news and the entire right-wing amen choir would have accused him of treason and screamed for his removal from office.

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    “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. Are we sure that most of the growth in finance stems from a rising share of financial professionals who undertake the former rather than the latter?”
    Brad De Long

    TODAY’S CHART:

    TODAY’S CARTOON”

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

    The mouse-sized naked mole rat is the longest-lived rodent known, surviving up to 31 years in captivity. Scientists are studying its longevity, including its ability to maintain good health and reproductive potential well into its third decade. (Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies/The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio)

    Categories: January 2012 through March 2012, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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