Posts Tagged With: Environment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Pookie 23 0005 (December 6, 2016)

 

“Err on the side of messiness. Sorting something that you will never search is a complete waste; searching something you never sorted is merely inefficient.”
Christian, Brian; Griffiths, Tom. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions. Henry Holt and Co.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SON JASON.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Article from KOZT Calendar of Community Events Mendocino:

“Death Cafe Ukiah

“Join with other community members at the Ukiah Community Center over tea and refreshments to talk about a subject that many find awkward or uncomfortable: Death and Dying. Adults and teens alike are invited to the comfy, confidential setting. The Death Cafe meets on the first Saturday of each month. Donations requested to cover expenses only.”

On Tuesday, they removed five teeth from my mouth, loaded me up with Hydrocodone and urged me to refrain from driving for a few days. The next morning, I drove to my sister’s house in Mendocino. The weather at the coast was cool and overcast with light sprinkles of rain falling now and then. I happily ensconced myself on the sofa by the large floor to ceiling windows through which I could see the gray and white ocean pulsing beyond the trees. I was as happy sitting there all day as I could possibly conceive of being anywhere.

On Thanksgiving, Maryann and George had another couple over for dinner. I was reduced to eating only soft mushy things in order to avoid the risk or reopening the wounds in my mouth — mashed sweet potatoes, yogurt, pumpkin soup and the soft stuffing. I prattled on with stories about New York teenage gangs of the 50s, mobsters I have known, and family oddities until even I was bored and so I excused myself and went to bed.

Saturday the rains stopped briefly and a wonderful rainbow appeared. I read two books that day while sitting on my favorite sofa.
IMG_2533

In the evening, I would watch episodes of Game of Thrones on HBO and marvel at the high production values and consistency despite the number of different directors it took to film the series. Of course, as the series successfully progressed more money was available for lighting, lavish sets and the like but the style and values remained high. I did notice the costumes changed from traditional replicas of medieval garments to more fashionable designs, like Prince Oberon’s (The Red Viper) flowered yellow Chesterfield, Jamie Lannister’s bitching leather jacket with offset lapels and Daenerys Targaryen’s skin tight white culottes under a flimsy split front blue dress.

Then it was time to leave. On Monday as I drove home, I stopped and strolled through Hendy State Park, an unlogged redwood grove about a half a mile off route 128 in Philo. For those who have never walked through a redwood grove, the first thing you are aware of is the silence, The sounds of wind, or cries of birds, or rustle of animals seems as though they have been swallowed up into the stillness. Then, you notice the massive tree trunks standing among the sorrel and ferns, the only undergrowth surrounding them. Your eyes are drawn upward until, through the gloom, the branches high above spread their greenery to catch the sun. Redwood groves are often described as nature’s cathedrals and like cathedrals, you first notice the silence and emptiness before the glories of the sculpted columns and the chromatic splashes of sunlight from the windows suddenly spring to life — like that first moment of stillness before the organist crashes his opening chord.
IMG_2554

 

B. BACK AMONG THE GOLDEN HILLS:

Attending to the administrative details of my treatment and bouts of depression have driven me to mope around the house. The second of our two dog’s, Pepe, has had to be put down. I feel very bad for Dick. Although I bought Pepe as a gift, 15 years ago, Dick has cared for it for most of the time since then. Nevertheless, even at his advanced age, tending to Pepe while Dick was away at work was a pleasant way to break the monotony of life in EDH. Looking after HRM, my other happy diversion has diminished somewhat since he entered middle school and begun his long transition from family dependency to peer group politics. As a result, I have found myself alone and bored. My sister suggests I join the local senior center and take up Pickle Ball. I would prefer to find a dark seedy bar in which to spend my evenings. Alas, this is EDH, seediness in not allowed — at least in public. So maybe it is Pickle Ball by default.

 

C. GOOD NEWS — BAD NEWS:

Good news: My cancer has not spread to other parts of my body. Bad News: I have cancer.
Good News: It is a type with a high rate of cure. Bad News: Donald Trump is going to be President.

 

D. SAD NEWS:

My sister’s son Brendan Dreaper and his friend Ashley Valdez planned to attend the concert at the site of the “Ghost Ship Fire” with a number of friends, including the members of the band Introflirt that Brendan was managing. Instead, they opted to spend the weekend with my sister in Mendocino. At least 5 of their friends died in that horrendous fire including members of the band. There is little one can do but mourn and remember those that died. For those, like Brendan and Ashley, left behind to grieve the loss of their friends my heart goes out to them.

In a Facebook Post, Brendan wrote in memory of his friends:

We are overwhelmed with deep sadness. The Oakland Ghost Ship fire claimed many beautiful lives. Among them were our friends, colleagues, and artists; Travis Hough of Ghost of Lightning and Nicole “Denalda” Renae and Ben Runnels of Introflirt.

Mixtape Artist Management welcomed Travis into our family in the summer of 2016. Always a pleasure to work with, Travis’ spirit and creativity brought light into every interaction.

By day, Travis was an expressive arts therapist, dedicating his time and energy to helping children in the East Bay community. Travis created his musical project, Ghost of Lighting as a means of exploring and understanding his own psyche. He believed that healing through music is not only possible, but also necessary, and shared that belief with others in everything that he did.

Introflirt also joined the Mixtape family in the summer of 2016. They dubbed their sound “croonwave” and made it their mission to create a “soundtrack for the insecure.” The band believed in creating spaces where being an outsider actually meant being an insider, where insecurities were transformed into strengths. Their songs invited listeners to celebrate their individuality and both Ben and Nicole exhibited fierce individuality and creativity both on and off the stage.

We will miss Travis, Nicole, and Ben terribly and know that there are so many people that they touched, both personally and through their music, who will miss them as well.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Because my rendition of my favorite era’s of history (especially the First Centuries) has gotten exceptionally long and idiosyncratic (boring), I have moved it to the end of the post.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“The world’s most difficult word to translate has been identified as ‘Ilunga,’ from the Tshiluba language spoken in south-eastern DR Congo.… Ilunga means ‘a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.’”
—BBC NEWS

I hereby promise everyone hereinafter I will Ilunga them. … Somehow that does not sound right.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Dialogue on Top:

An imaginary dialogue between a young person with ambition and an older person with experience:

Young Person asks— “Do you have any pointers you can give me?”

Experience Person responds — “Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.”

YP — “Please explain.”

EP — “You’re young you still have that sparkle in your eye that drive to go out and save the day and let the rest sort itself out. But when you think like that, people can take advantage. Employers want your services. Agents want a cut of your pay. Companies want you to sell their products. If you’re not careful, you give yourself away for less than you’re worth. You trust people who you shouldn’t. You play with fire, and you get burned.”

“That’s my advice to you, ‘Don’t get burned.’”

YP —I was more looking for things like keys to advancement.”

EP — “Oh … that. Just survive. Live through enough experiences, and you’ll advance. For an intelligent and smart person with your kind of background, that’s the easy part. But if you do that long enough, eventually you learn that your job isn’t about being self-sufficient or doing the right thing. Really, we just do what we do for money. And when that finally starts to sink in, you face the hard part of professional life: the big questions.”

YP —“The big questions?”

EP —“Yeah. Is there more to life than just advancement and looting? Are we more than just numbers in some accountants ledger, statistics written on our resume? And the big one, the one that haunts you every night on the job: Why are we doing this anyway?”

( Adapted from Orconomics: A Satire [The Dark Profit Saga Book 1] by J. Zachary Pike. Gnomish Press LLC.)

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

All stories have at their heart either a great truth or a great lie. The better the story the less we can tell which one lies at its heart.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Ends
On worried wings
he softly sings
of dreams of fire
and ghostly things
with deep desire.

He cries in vain
though woes remain
beneath the sun
he feels the pain.

Without desire
for those things
he banks his fire.
Burned wood sings
through smokey wings.

Without such pain
beneath the sun
the coals remain.
He cries in vain.

 

C. Some Comments on Previous T&T Post.

Peter.

This T&T is brilliant. Perhaps the diagnoses, prognosis, and specialists’ joy in rambling on with their shoptalk, coupled with the political horror and, lastly, the unnerving implications of oral sex, resulted in unanticipated flashes of insight, eloquence, and dreariness, leavened only by med-promises of endless joyful pharmaceuticals.

Finished The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Thanks for the tip. Marvelous! Vivid enough to spur memories of sights, smells, and the incredible human comedy that is India. Shah certainly traveled rough. I recall my first trip when I traveled third class when I wasn’t hitchhiking. Anyway would be, and was an experience, but he really appears to be an intrepid adventurer. After your description of the Peru trip, I really wonder about this guy. Gotta read that book and see the film.

Just heard the following via Barrie from Facebook:

A plane encountered trouble and was going to crash. There were four passengers and only three parachutes. The first passenger was Stephen Curry of the Warriors, who identified himself and said his team needed him, and he took the first parachute and jumped out. The second passenger was Donald Trump, who said he was the new president and the smartest president and the people needed him, and he took the second parachute and jumped. The third passenger was the Pope, who said to the fourth passenger, a 15-year-old boy, that he was old and had little time left, and told the boy he should take the remaining parachute. The boy replied, “There’s a parachute for you, too. Trump took my school bag.”

As to what Aristotle said, such is karma and definition of neurosis or insanity.

Yes, those First Centuries are fascinating. I remember taking a class in college in my senior year (by that time I was a philosophy major, a fitting end after engineering, physics, history and pre-med), from a guest professor from OSU about that period. Your listing of the Judean factions and their scab-picking and worse animosities highlights the risks and limitations of ancient high-density village-level living. We didn’t have that sort of problem in our 13-story Manhattan apartment house (it said 14 because they were afraid to call the top floor 13 – pitiful), though; people left each other alone; like walking down the street and avoiding eye contact, a standard NYC street-smarts item to dodge the loonies and aggressive.

Don’t forget the Manichaeans and the Gnostics. I don’t think we had any Manicheans or Gnostics in my building; we were too busy running down the stairs racing the elevator to the ground floor to be concerned about competing belief systems. A Gnostic or two would have been fun- this, the insight of decades of reading, travel, and exposure to really good comedians.

Today we are preparing for a non-turkey repast with a former colleague/friend and spouse who live on a boat in South San Francisco. I thought they might want to stretch their legs a bit.

Regards to Maryann and George from us.

As Bob and Ray would perhaps have said if they were with us today, “Write if you get work, hang by your thumbs, and make sure those medicos fork over the drugs.”

My Response.
Hi,
I do not know if I responded yet. I’ve been bouncing between false euphoria and dark depression as I deal with doctors, administrators and insurance companies. I’ve gotten five teeth pulled and a load of drugs but no treatment yet.

Check Tahir Shah’s family. Talk about high performers. A famous Sufi scholar Idres Shah was his father, one sister is a filmmaker and the other a journalist.

I forgot to mention, probably the only people who receive T&T old enough to know who Bob and Ray were are you, Ruth and me.

Peter Again.

False euphoria beats a blank.

So, B&R might close with “write if you get more good drugs and don’t chew on your tongue while you search for lost teeth.” As for Mary Backstage Noble Wife, instead of hailing from a little mining town out west, perhaps she really hailed from a broom closet behind the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier, in constant hiding from being dragooned into attending interminable Coastal Commission hearings while dreaming of finally meeting up with Henry Morgan and fleeing to Wrigley’s Catalina mansion for salubrious joy to the tune of endless Bobby Darrin songs.

So the Shah family is a bunch of over-achievers. I’m exhausted considering the possibilities. Question: Do Sufi twirlers ever get dizzy?

MY RESPONSE.

Oh, by the way, I was also a fan of Helen Trent — “Can a successful and accomplished business woman over the age of 35 find love and happiness?” Alas, she never did —perhaps if she hung out at the Santa Monica pier she would have.

And for all those who expresses their concern and best wishes for my health, thank you.
 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_2548
THE FOUR GENERATIONS: my father Jack, grandfather Joe, son Jason and I.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

This is a continuation of the First Centuries saga, 300 BC to 300 AD, I began many issues of T&T ago.

JESUS

Of all founders of great religions in history, Jesus may be the least significant to the system of belief created in his name.

The reason for this is not because some historians question his existence since there is no independent corroboration of it in contemporary sources who were not members of his sect. This lack of independent historical corroboration is not unusual for supposed founders of religion. There is none for Moses, Abraham or David and supposed creators of other great religions that exist today. Perhaps the one we have the most independent corroboration about before modern times is Mohamed. Among the facts that support this conclusion is that although we have independent knowledge of people who were his contemporaries that the New Testament claimed he knew, like John the Baptist and James the Just these sources do not mention Jesus. Also, Galilee was known for its “miracle workers” some of whom were named in independent texts and Jesus was not.

On the other hand, besides the similarity with other religious founders and that his ministry was relatively brief we do have some documents from which his existence can be inferred, although it is, as I have written, quite unimportant from a historical perspective whether he lived or not.

Within 10 to 15 years after his supposed death on the cross and before the first written biography, the Gospel of Mark, one list of the documents written about him include:

30-60 Passion Narrative
40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
50-60 1 Thessalonians
50-60 Philippians
50-60 Galatians
50-60 1 Corinthians
50-60 2 Corinthians
50-60 Romans
50-60 Philemon
50-80 Colossians
50-90 Signs Gospel
50-95 Book of Hebrews
50-120 Didache
50-140 Gospel of Thomas
50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
50-150 Apocalypse of Adam
50-150 Eugnostos the Blessed
50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
65-80 Gospel of Mark
70-100 Epistle of James

This list shows a lot was written about Jesus within the first two to three decades of his supposed death, not all of which made it into the Bible, and that they were authored as far away from Jerusalem as Egypt, Macedonia, and Rome. The first three entries on the list, if their order and early dates are accurate indicate: that within a few years of the event someone named Jesus died on a cross between two thieves; that he proclaimed a number of sayings that appear later in the Gospels, and; within a decade or two of his supposed death a significant —gathering of the cult existed as far away as Macedonia. While this certainly is not proof, it is enough to continue this discussion as though he did exist although, as I said, it is not very important. Another noticeable thing about the list is the number of documents written by Paul, which is important and which I will get to soon.

One of the most consequential things to remember about Jesus, whether he existed as a person or an idea, is that he came from Galilee and not Jerusalem.
(to be continued)

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3rd. 25 Papa Joe 0005 (October 14, 2016)

 

“Since large-scale human cooperation is based on myths, the way people cooperate can be altered by changing the myths — by telling different stories.”

Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Cloudless deep blue skies arch above the Golden Hills bringing autumn crisp temperatures in the mornings. I love swimming in water warmer than the air.

Since my return, I have not seen the Moonstone Peckerhead Turkey Gang strutting up the street. Perhaps, they are hiding out because it is getting close to Thanksgiving. Do Turkey’s migrate? If so, they cannot fly very far. They would have to walk or hitchhike. Or maybe they just do not go far away. Perhaps, they do not get much farther south than Ione or Merced.

One day while walking the dog, I saw four large deer standing on the verge across the street from me. They simply stared at us for quite a while, then scampered off up the hill.

Neither the deer nor the turkeys would survive long in Bangkok. Now that I think about it, the people there eat insects. Why don’t they eat the pigeons? Maybe that is what I am eating when I order chicken fried rice at the sidewalk food stands. I wonder what the pork fried rice is made from?

I cannot deny the gated communities that make up El Dorado Hills and its parks are beautifully landscaped and laid out. I assume the empty streets behind those gates, more than the gates themselves give a sense of security to those that live. Interesting things may be happening within the McMansions but not on the streets. That is the difference between rich and poor communities. The poor live more of their live’s in public, on the streets. The boredom also gives a sense of security, I guess — if nothing is happening then nothing is happening to me.

Recently, however, something has happened. Evan of EvanTube has moved into one of the mansions on the ridge that I can see across the valley from Dick’s deck. Evan, as a five-year-old, managed to make over a million dollars on YouTube opening up packages of toys and increased that take substantially every year until now at 9 or 10 he was able to move his family from Modesto or someplace like that so that he can attend the far above average schools here in the Golden Hills. This has excited those like HRM who have followed his spectacular career. According to HRM, everyone likes the young millionaire.

This shows the difference between today’s schools and those in my day and neighborhood. Then, someone with a rep would be immediately challenged in the schoolyard. You make your rep there or nowhere.

Speaking of young hoodlums in training. Because so many of the stately homes of the golden hills are rented out for one reason or another, not all the kids in the schools are from middle and upper-class families. In HRM’s class, there is a boy named Raul. Both his parents are in jail. Some of his classmates warned HRM to stay away from Raul. They say he vapes on the bus on the way to school and if you try to speak to him he will slap you. HRM wanted to find out if Raul really would slap him if he said hello, so he went up to him and said, “Hi, they call me Haystack. How are you doing?” Instead of slapping him, Raul gave HRM a high five.

 
B. TWO UPSIDE DOWN NOSES — 77:

Today is my 77th birthday. To me, that means, I have seen the beginning of many more things that never existed before then I will see in the time remaining to me. Although I was born into a world on the verge of the greatest slaughter of human lives in history, WWII, the Holocaust, The Great Leap Forward, I lived through what undoubtedly was the greatest Golden Age of Humanity. That’s not too bad when you realize that all you really have to show for your time here are your experiences —even if those experiences are merely watching it all unfold.

 

C. BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS:

Below are the California ballot recommendations for the coming election that Ruth and others developed. I found them very helpful even where I disagree.

BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NOVEMBER 2016

These are my recommendations for the state measures, informed by discussion among a dedicated group of Venice residents who undertake to share researching the propositions and try to arrive at either consensus or a clear statement of our disagreements. If you have questions, I will try to answer them.

I will send recommendations for the County measures, including judges, and the City of LA measures in a separate email.

FEDERAL OFFICES:

President: Hillary Clinton
US Senator: Kamala Harris
(Loretta Sanchez would not be bad, but our consensus was Kamala Harris would be better)
STATE PROPOSITIONS:

The biggest challenge is figuring out how many taxes/bonds you are willing to swallow for various good causes and then prioritizing the numerous relevant propositions. In addition to the state measures, LA County has two—one a bond and one a sales tax increase–, and LA City has at least two bond issues.

51: School bonds
School population is going down, but school buildings are aging. Many have no air conditioning. Some opponents think it’s better to have local school districts bond-fund rather than the state. Supporters of 55 think relying on locals doing it themselves puts an unfair burden on the poorer school districts.

52: Hospital fee program
Yes

53: Revenue bond issues over $2 billion must go to a vote of the people.
No!
If this passes, there has to be an election (and associated campaign) every time the state wants to engage in a massive infrastructure project. This proposition is aimed at stopping the Delta tunnel and the bullet train, both projects adopted by the elected officials. Campaigns are expensive and time-consuming, and the winds of public sentiment can change many times during the period it takes to complete a major project. It’s not only Rome that wasn’t built in a day. (We did split on this one—it turns out to depend on whom you trust least: elected officials or uninformed voters.

54: Legislation and proceedings.
No.
This is being promoted as increasing transparency in government by requiring that every change in every bill be publicly noticed and on the internet for 72 hours before any action. It sounds great, but it will make negotiating and compromise well nigh impossible. It would probably also prevent getting a budget out on time.

55: Extending an existing tax that was originally approved as “temporary.”
Yes.
It is a tax on incomes of $250,000 and up, funds schools and healthcare, and has been in effect without disrupting the economy.

56: Increase the tax on cigarettes.
Yes.
The tax hasn’t been increased in many years. This proposition also includes taxing e-cigarettes and funding programs to discourage those as well as the old-fashioned ones.

57: various changes to sentencing and parole.
Yes.

58: Multi-lingual education.
Yes.
This proposition undoes the English-only law adopted early 20 years ago in recognition that students learn subject matter best in the language most familiar even while learning a new language.

59: Advisory vote urging repeal of Citizens United.
Yes.
Although the vote has no practical effect, it has important symbolism.

60: Require performers in porn films to use condoms.
No.
There are all sorts of obligations to test and treat already in place, this proposition would create a whole new structure to police (probably ineffectively) the porn industry, and the industry which alas employs a whole lot of people could easily just leave the state. This is the brainchild of the same guy who is behind a totally different City proposition coming in March that would limit private real estate development.

61: Drug prices.
No.
(Surprise!) This would require that the state pay no more than the VA pays for drugs. The VA negotiates prices with the drug companies. Our fear is that adopting this proposition would mean the VA would get a worse deal. (Apply here Ruth’s Rule of Legislation: if it takes less than 30 minutes to figure out how to abuse the proposed law, just vote against it.) Bernie Sanders is doing major ads in favor of this. He must not have applied Ruth’s Rule.

62 and 66: Death Penalty
62 abolishes the death penalty; 66 is the prosecutors’ response to 62 and leaves it in place but shortens the long, expensive, and mandatory appeal procedures.
If you favor abolition, vote yes on 62 and no on 66. If you want to keep the death penalty, vote no on 62 and yes on 66.

63: Ammunition sales
Yes. (Do we really need to discuss this?)

64: Marijuana
We did not have consensus on this one but leaned yes.

65 and 67: Plastic bags
67 is a statewide ban on those flimsy plastic bags you used to get in grocery stores. 65 is the bag manufacturers’ bait-and-switch antidote to 67. 65 takes the fees grocery stores now charge for your paper bag away from the stores and puts them into a new environmental fund (which someone has to administer). The manufacturers’ argument is that the stores shouldn’t get to “make a profit” from the bags. Since the stores have to buy the bags anyway, it’s a safe bet that if they can’t charge for them, they’ll have to raise prices on the products that go into the bags in order to fund having to buy them.
I vote no on everything to do with banning “single use” bags because I don’t believe they are single use. Everyone I know uses them for household garbage or cleaning up after pets. What the ban proponents want you to do is buy genuinely single-use bags: you buy them for the sole and specific purpose of putting something in them to put in the landfill.
Everyone else at the discussion recommends no on 65 and yes on 67, the statewide ban.
Whatever you do, don’t vote yes on both of them because whichever gets more total votes is the one that will prevail. Thus if create-the-fund gets more votes than the ban, the ban does not take effect.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

The following is the continuation of something I began in a prior post a long time ago:

The First Centuries: Herod continued…

Certainly about the time of the Maccabees, the Judeans and the related people who followed the Septuagint and associated writings sought to remain in contact with one another. In addition to Judea, there were significant communities in Galilee, Egypt, Southern Mesopotamia, and the Syrian saddle and the Southcentral Turkish highlands from Aleppo to Tarsus. Many of these people had little of no relationship with Judea or Jerusalem. At first, contact probably occurred through itinerant traders but eventually, a more formal system developed which included instruction in the Law for the outlying areas and transfer of money for the operation in Jerusalem.

Herod being the consummate businessman and needing money for construction of the Second Temple and other things regularized the system, giving to members of the Judean nobility specific areas in which to operate and amounts to be returned to the Royal and Temple treasuries. While this does not have much to do with our story here, it does so not long after Herod’s death. And die he did, a rather gruesome death.

After his death, his kingdom was divided by the Romans among his three surviving sons and his sister. One son Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea. Another, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. the third son became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan, and Salome I was given a toparchy including the cities of Jabneh, Ashdod, and Phasaelis. What an ethnarch, tetrarch, toparchy are, I have no idea.

Shortly after the dividing up of Herod’s kingdom, the shit hit the fan.
(to be continued)

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Among my Cracked Histories, Tomyris and the Massegetae is one of my favorites. A version appears in the book listed below at the end of the piece. It can also be found in my blog Trenz Pruca’s Journal (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/every-now-and-then-we-should-stop-what-we-are-doing-and-consider-tomyris-and-the-massengetae/)

“Every now and then we should stop what we are doing and consider Tomyris and the Massegetae.

I believe, it is worthwhile to occasionally contemplate Tomyris and the Massegetae, if not for its impact on history then for its elucidation of the ability of a determined woman to lead her country in a time of crisis.

Tomyris Queen of the Massegetae reigned over a semi-nomadic nation in South-central Asia at the time Cyrus the Great Emperor of Persia and ruler of just about every other place anyone had heard of, ravaged that part of the world. (This was about four or five hundred years before Jesus walked the earth preaching peace and unleashing, often in his name, 2000 years of bloodshed far beyond that which the world had experienced for the previous 4000 years.)

“One day, Cyrus marched his armies into the land of the Massegetae, an area he noticed he had forgotten to conquer. He exclaimed to his comrades in arms, “Hey here’s a place where I haven’t killed many people yet. Let’s have some fun.”

Tomyris’ son and about a third of the Massegetae troops rode out to meet Cyrus and his marauders. They were quickly defeated and Tomyris’ son (clearly not a chip off his mom’s block) taken prisoner. This was familiar stuff to Cyrus who, whenever he wanted to kill some people, usually was confronted by their young sons who shouted at him that they would fight back if he tries to kill them. He would kill them anyway and make the rest slaves. It was good being Cyrus.

So Cyrus walked or rode or however conquerers traveled back then, up to what passed for a wall surrounding what passed for a city to the nomadic Massegetae. With Tomyris son in tow, he strutted back and forth in front of those walls and shouted to Tomyris that she should surrender her town and country, such that it was.

Tomyris, that tough old bird, climbed to the top of those walls, hiked up her skirt, stared down at the strutting Cyrus, and shouted back:

“Now listen to me and I will advise you for your good: give me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over one-third of the Massegetae. If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.”

Thus, Tomyris Warrior Queen of the Massegetae responded to Cyrus the Great, Emperor of Persia, conqueror of the greatest empire of the ancient world and leader of the largest and most technologically advanced army of the time.

Cyrus refused Tomyris’ advice. So, she personally led the charge of her forces and destroyed his army. After her victory, she searched the battlefield herself until she found Cyrus’ body, then she cut off his head and made his skull into her favorite goblet.

This leads me to conclude that one should never mess with a woman named Tomyris, or for that matter, a Massegetae who some ancient historians believe became the Huns. (I heard that there is a biker gang in South Dakota named the Massegetae whose leader is a six-foot-six-inch transsexual named Tomyris.)

For those interested in learning more about the Massegetae, this is what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus had to say about them:

“In their dress and mode of living, the Massegetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for headgear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.”

“The following are some of their customs; – Each man has but one wife[…]“yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massegetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Jaxartes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”

I have a few concerns and questions about the Massegetae life-style:
1. How does one have one wife held in common?
2. How old do you have to be before they come for you and boil you up with a cow or two?
3. How pissed off with your lot in life would you be if you were forced to live on beef, fish, sour milk and a grandfather or grandmother now and then? Enough to want to go and beat the shit out of someone, I would imagine.”

Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo. “Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” iBooks. ”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

All stories have at their heart either a great truth or a great lie. The better the story the less we can tell which one it is.
B. Today’s Poem:

My revision to the opening stanza of Taliesin:

I have been many things,
before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow many colored sword.
I have been a tear in the air.
I have lived as the faintest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
a book among words.

 

C. Correspondence with Peter:

From Peter

Your story suggests a possible sequel for Omar, a la Rocky II, III, etc.: Something about Omar and O.Henry attend the conversion of Charles Martel to Islam in the White Horse Tavern – the latter because the Alhambra was being rehabbed to condos; and of course Dylan Thomas sitting at the bar, raging about not going gently into the good night, and Omar, O. Henry, the now-beatific Martel, Baby Ruth and Mr. Goodbar come over to Thomas and say “Sadducee ya so glum, chum, let’s off to Soi Cowboy and find you a Comely Princess to take your mind off your troubles until you can wax poetic again.” Etc., etc.

So, back in EDH. That must be rather surrealistic after BKK, let alone Beijing airport. How about Trump Tower West to jazz it up a bit? Bankrupt in three. Windup Girl wins the Laguna Beach Pageant, settles in the EDH West Tower Suite as Trumpette #4, and, as biblical flood waters rise, floats away on her pet monitor lizard Saladin.

Sorry to hear about your mom’s fall and fracture; elderly broken hips are not happy.

Blast from the past: I stopped in to Ye Olde SCC for a brief chat with Sam Schuchat. Talk about weird. First time since 1994. They will move into the Oakland State building by the end of the year. Terminal dreariness…..

Band played for the recent SF Alzheimers Walk fundraiser. Biggest crowd ever, if only each for 30 seconds as they passed by, cheering. Next week we’re at the annual Oakland Plant Exchange again: people bring their plants to exchange for other people’s plants. Think of the angles. We’re adding to our collection of odd venues.

Speaking of Naga headhunters, my bandmate told of one of his island trips years ago, this one to Fiji. The fijians were cannibals up until not long ago. They witnessed a folk dance that was quite vigorous and militaristic – probably led to the cooking cauldron in times past. Which made me think of old man Seabrook, who traveled to west Africa during the 1920s, including visiting with some cannibals. He decided ‘when in Rome’, and tried the fare as offered by the villagers. Didn’t say it tasted like chicken. Later, he got up to Timbuktu, as did Geoffrey Moorehouse, who wrote of his trek across the Sahara in 1970 and had to leave after four days because of all the tourists. Now it’s islamic crazies burning books. Back in Rhinebeck, NY, Seabrook used to chain his wife up naked on a long chain out in the spacious yard, according to Barrie, who stayed there with her family — near where Seabrook’s place was — one summer many years ago when her father was doing summer theater up there. No ocelots, though.

Happy birthday, Joe, in advance, in case I forget while my hearing aids’ batteries die.
My response:

Thanks,

My mom seems ok. They fixed the hip but she seems unwilling to wake up. The doctors think they may have overdosed her with morphine. I hope she enjoys the trip.

EDH is so quiet after BKK that I keep thinking my hearing loss has gotten worse.

I wish it would have been possible for Seabrook and the Gemologist to meet each other — cannibals, headhunters, zombies, clouded leopards, jewels and women in chains — oh my.
Peter responds:

Sounds like they would have had a great time exchanging yarns. Oh my indeed.

Reminds me of that movie, I think it was The Once And Future King, with Michael Caine and Shawn Connery (??).

As to the quiet of EDH, why not open a combination Zen sasheen zendo (for the cognoscenti), health farm, spiritual energy alignment center, “happy ending” massage parlor, and Harbin Hot Springs operation? With a small track similar to the paseo that Mexican young people do around the zocalo but bigger to enable the Lamborghini/Ferrari/Jaguar/Henry J crowd to cruise around. Noise police would cruise the center with THX1137-somber looming menace in appropriate Armani/Versace garb. Housing values would soar, major eateries would flock, throngs would zoom to EDH to see and be seen, and Kardashian and other fabulous jewelry would be heisted weekly to provide a smidgen of zest for the otherwise somnolent, would be-narcisisst post-Trump crowd. Lots of material for HDH’s video show, which would broadcast continuously on screens in all the Best establishments. Periodic events such as the Basso Profundo contest to determine the best performers of “Ommmm”; or the Gossamer Wings Ephemeral Fly-By contest to choose the “Maxwell Parish would have chosen you” Floating Nymph award. Don’t know how all this would affect your hearing loss.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Lest there be any well-intentioned persons who do not perceive the difference … between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and the meanest affairs of life, to the extraordinary confusion of ignorant minds, let them understand that it is always the latter, and never the former, which is satirized here. Further, that the latter is here satirized as being, according to all experience, inconsistent with the former, impossible of union with it, and one of the most evil and mischievous falsehoods existent in society…. It may appear unnecessary to offer a word of observation on so plain a head. But it is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip, and idle in the heart; or against the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who, in the words of SWIFT, have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another.”
Preface to the Charles Dickens Edition, THE PICKWICK PAPERS (1868).

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
nam_30
The Namibia Superstar, a photograph by Richard K. Diran. (http://www.diranart.com/web/index.php?option=com_expose&Itemid=28 )

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.
Iimg_2040
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.
img_20150625_112608_795
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.
imgres
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.    3 Pepe 0005 (August 17, 2016)

 

“Existence, it seems, is chiefly maintenance.”
Kelly, Kevin. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (p. 9). Penguin Publishing Group.
Happy Birthday, Irene.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
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white foam strikes the cliffs,
retreats, thinks, then surging forth,
smacks the cliffs again.

My sickness slowly passed. Evenings were spent at pleasant dinners with friends of Mary and George and at other times watching Detective Montalbano detect on TV. During the days, I walked along the headlands or sat on the sofa, my computer on my lap, typing away or reading, sometimes staring at the ocean wondering how best to pass the time — to be busy at something or simply do nothing. On the other hand, the quote at the head of this post states that existence is mostly maintenance — maintaining our bodies, our families and so on. I guess most of the rest of the time when not maintaining ourselves we spend entertaining ourselves. I wonder how much time we spend helping others maintain themselves? Not much I would guess if my own life were any indication.

I wrote the above while watching the woman next door for the past hour scurry around her yard busily doing things to plants, bushes, and shrubs I could not guess at. I wonder if I would be happier doing something rather than watching it getting done? I do not think so. Besides, I have no interest in finding out.

A few days later, feeling better, I decided to visit 10 Mile Dunes the site of the Selkie story I wrote about in my last post. The parking lot was a bit of a hike from the dunes and the beach, but I managed to shamble along the path and across the dunes to the kelp littered beach. I walked along the beach searching for a tussock on which to sit. I did not find one. But I did find some suitable rocks beside a spooky sculpture someone made out of a kelp stalk.

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The mist was not quite so pearlescent as in my story, the ocean not so placid and dark. Nevertheless, I sat there on the rock stared out at the waves and waited. I waited to see if a seal would appear dancing in the waves. I know, silly — but being silly is a prerogative of the very old and the very young.

After about a half an hour, I got bored. As I slowly rose from my rock, I noticed something light brown twisting among the waves. “Oh my, God,” I thought. “I don’t believe this sort of shit.” I tottered toward the water. My heart beating so hard it was almost painful. Alas, when I looked again, it was gone — probably just a piece of kelp torn from its mooring and tossed about by the waves. As I slowly walked back along the beach, I stopped for a moment, looked out at the ocean, and shouted, “Selkie” — not too loud because I would be too embarrassed if anyone heard me — Also, I felt stupid. But after, I shouted I felt a lot better. I don’t know why.

Back in the car, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if people who lived adventuresome lives could live one last adventure when they get old — this time with the supernatural.” They could, of course, always make it up. That would be almost as good, I think.

The next few days my sister became quite ill with a viral infection of some sort. She was taken to the hospital so I hung around the house to help out where I could. Alas, as usual, I was about as helpful as a pimple on the nose of a supermodel at a photo shoot. I did walk the dog, however.

On Sunday, I left Mendocino. I first stopped at the Hospital in Ft. Bragg to see my sister. She looks a lot better but I am still worried about her.

I took a different route that usual to return to the Golden Hills. Rather than passing through the beautiful Anderson Valley, I took route 20 from Ft Bragg to Willits. I continued past Willits along Route 20 to Lake County.
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Lake Mendocino

I entered a town called Nice which I never heard before. I looked for a place to eat in Nice just so I could write I had a Nice lunch. (Actually, it is pronounced Neece — but that doesn’t fit the story so humor me. )Unfortunately, I could not find a restaurant in Nice, nice or not, which I thought was not nice at all and proceeded on.
img_2144
Clear Lake at Lucerne

The next town was called Lucerne and bills itself as the Switzerland of California. I’ve been to Switzerland and Lucerne is not Geneva or even Zurich but it seemed to be rather Nice so I looked for a restaurant there. The only one I could find was a Foster’s Freeze. It was packed, standing room only as if it had just been awarded its third Michelin star. After waiting about 45 minutes for my hamburger and chocolate malt, I returned to my car and continued on past the forest fire with its billowing gray and yellow smoke that tomorrow would burn down the town of Lower Lake sending 5000 people fleeing for safety.

I crossed the mountains into the Great Valley. On maps, it is called the Central Valley, but it really is the Great Valley. Almost 500 miles long and 60 miles wide, it contains some of the most productive farmland in the world. For the last 50 years since the building of the California Water Project, it has supplied America with much of its vegetables, grapes, fruit, and nuts. In about another 50 years, due to the unimaginable amount of water brought into the valley by that same water project leeching chemical fertilizer and other chemicals from deep in the soil, it is destined to become one of the world’s great salt deserts. Hooray for us.

Then home and after a troubled night, I drove myself to the hospital.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

About 1800 BC waves of Semitic-speaking people migrated into the Nile Delta area of Egypt. They came from the area of the MiddleEast now made up Israel, Lebanon and Syria ( in ancient times Canaan or now the Levant, more or less). They were led by warriors and soon became the rulers making up the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt. By about 1500 BC they were expelled by the Pharaohs of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties from Thebes somewhere up river. Other than making for a great confusion of biblical stories, this is not important for our purposes. What is, is that these people, taking the ideographic writings of their neighbors, began the introduction of the writing system whereby symbols were used to express specific spoken sounds. Through the Phoenicians, it became the alphabet we use. It is also important that although many of these Semitic rulers retreated back to Canaan and formed their own kingdoms, many remained in Egypt. Trade in goods and ideas between the two regions flourished.

About 1000 years later an Eastern Semitic king named Nebuchadnezzar the Second of that Name, conquered most of the Semitic peoples in the Middle East. As sound policy of the time dictated, he transported most of the ruling, intellectual and religious classes of the conquered people to his capital at Babylon where he could keep an eye on them. A little over 100 years later an Indo-European adventurer from the Persian Highlands called Cyrus conquered most of the Semitic kingdoms in the Middle-East and everything else he set eyes on and so he was endowed with the title, “The Great.”

For reasons of policy, and because he did not live there, having moved his capital out of Babylon to Pasargadae which was a long way away, Cyrus encouraged those people brought there by his predecessor to return to the homes most of them had ever seen. Of course, it was also good for Cyrus that Babylon was drained of many of its best people and could never challenge again for supremacy, but also, at least in the case of the Levant, he thought it would be a good thing to have supportive people on his border with Egypt while he set about conquering Central Asia. So as the Semitic people set off from Babylon to Canaan which they had never seen and which the local inhabitants probably saw as a mixed blessing at best, Cyrus set off to conquer Central Asia where he encountered Tomyris Queen of the Massegetae. Tomyris met the, until then, undefeated Cyrus in battle, defeated him, cut off his head, and used his skull as her favorite drinking cup.

But this was not all that important for our story. What was important was that those Semites brought a lot of legends and stories from Babylon and places like that with them to Canaan. Stories and legends which they incorporated onto their mythical history and were retold and written down in their alphabet in various scrolls and what have you which were, over time, recopied and retold to suit the needs and wishes of the elite of the time and which only led additional to confusion and disagreement.

This now brings us to the First Centuries themselves.
(To be continued in the next post)

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

During my early years as executive officer of the State Coastal Conservancy in the mid to late 1970s, I noticed signage to coastal accessways, views and sites of interest were almost none existent. Knowing that creating a program to remedy this would take years, I, along with my then wife, at my own expense, designed a model sign for coastal access and views. The Conservancy paid for the signs to be manufactured and delivered them to Caltrans and the Department of Parks and Rec. along with a list of the sites. You can still see them 40 years later as you drive along Pacific Coast Highway. They are the ones with the two bare feet logo.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

California was named after a mythical Island ruled by a black woman named Queen Calafia (or Khalif). The story originated in a Sixteenth Century novel by the Spaniard Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. Montalvo wrote;

“Know that, on the right hand of the Indies was an island called California, very near to the region of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was populated by black women, without there being any men among them, that almost like the Amazons was their style of living. They were of vigorous bodies and strong and ardent hearts and of great strength; the island itself the strongest in steep rocks and cliff boulders that is found in the world; their arms were all of gold, and also the harnesses of the wild beasts, on which, after having tamed them, they rode; that in all the island there was no other metal whatsoever… On this island, called California there were many griffins … and in the time that they had young these women would — take them to their caves, and there raise them. And … they fattened them on those men and the boys that they had born… Any male that entered the island was killed and eaten by them … There ruled on that island of California, a queen great of body, very beautiful for her race, at a flourishing age, desirous in her thoughts of achieving great things, valiant in strength, cunning in her brave heart, more than any other who had ruled that kingdom before her … Queen Calafia.”
pasted-graphic
Mural of Queen Calafia and her Amazons in the Room of the Dons at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco, California. (Wikimedia Commons.)

 

`
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“Sovereignty has eight aspects:

DEFENSE;
JUDICIAL, i.e., settling disputes;
ADMINISTRATIVE, i.e., discretionary actions for the public need; TAXATION, i.e., mobilizing resources: this is one of the powers the French government didn’t have in 1770;
LEGISLATION. i.e., the finding of rules and the establishment of rules through promulgation and statute;
EXECUTIVE, i.e., the enforcement of laws and judicial decisions.

Then there are two which are of absolute paramount importance today:
MONETARY, the creation, and control of money and credit — if that is not an aspect of the public sovereignty, then the state is far less than fully sovereign; and lastly the eighth one,
THE INCORPORATING POWER, the right to say that an association of people is a fictitious person with the right to hold property and to sue in the courts.

Notice: the federal government of the United States today does not have the seventh and eighth…”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I think of myself as mostly an ordinary man who at times tried to do good and now and then succeeded only to find those successes often were ephemeral in significance and ambiguous in result
.

C. Today’s Poem:

THE FACEBOOK SONNET
By Sherman Alexie

Welcome to the endless high-school
Reunion. Welcome to past friends
And lovers, however, kind or cruel.
Let’s undervalue and unmend

The present. Why can’t we pretend
Every stage of life is the same?
Let’s exhume, resume, and extend
Childhood. Let’s all play the games

That occupy the young. Let fame
And shame intertwine. Let one’s search
For God become public domain.
Let church.com become our church.

Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess
Here at the altar of loneliness.

D. Comments on my Previous Post:

1. Peter:

Seems to me that having to deal with that continuing nasty infliction doesn’t quite balance the joy of writing weird stories in a state of heightened post-illness clarity. But then, maybe it does. Don’t know: haven’t had that experience yet; just the continuing creaky slide toward decrepitude and senility. Anyway, sorry for your condition; sounds dreary, depressing, and vastly irritating; condolences. At least you have Maryann and George and the Mendocino coast and Pacific Star.

Sorry to have missed you passing through on the way to Maryann’s; next time.

Didn’t realize SWAC was in/or to be in El Dorado Hills. Must be perversely surrealistic.

Speaking of Ruth, she and Jeffrey were in SF for a day recently. He sent to the redone modern art museum; Ruth and I hung out by the ferry building and talked of This and that. She was in good spirits and health.

Meanwhile, the band plays on. We’re busy, 5-10 gigs a month, with several monthly regulars including Cheers, at which you were during a previous visit, and the still-odd Green Tortoise hostel in north beach where we were last night. Try this: on Aug. 20 we will play on the Old Vine Express (the Sacramento wine train) that noodles between West Sacto and Woodland and back— three hours of wine tasting, Yolo heat, dancing (so we’re told), some probable sloshed behavior, and us. At least they’ll pay us. We continue our leaning toward odd venues. Perhaps we could find a dank cellar somewhere (maybe under downtown Mendocino!), call it the Amontillado Grotto, charge vast prices, and have Uber deliver hordes of curious tourists and changelings for a one-way trip to Blind Lemon Pledge-land.

Just finished a book called “The Templars”, written a few yeas ago. Relatively scholarly, interesting history about Jerusalem during those centuries before and after that you just referred to in your post. Also, I didn’t realize that Henry the Navigator and other notable Portuguese explorers were members of the re-constituted Templars and that Templar money financed a lot of their explorations. The book consigns Holy Blood Holy Grail to the realm of grand storytelling and make-believe. Has a sizable section on Templar-related fiction, non-fiction, movies, TV, bands, and websites. Need to see George Sanders in the original “Ivanhoe” movie as the evil Templar. Sir Walter and others did a nasty.

2. Fede.

I read and understood ! I’m happy for that 🙂
Your life was so full — bad and good things — and I’m still thinking you are great!!!
I hope your infection will do better after the surgery/or whatever you are going to do!
Please let me know and if You’re not able to write, I will ask your sister!
We say, “In bocca al lupo” to say “good luck”!

3. Bill

I do so enjoy finding the time to read your “This and that . . .” musings. I am sorry that your health has been up and down lately; I appreciate how and why that is on your mind. This has been a beastly hot summer — somedays I just don’t even want to go out, especially when the temperature is 70 degrees at 6 AM. It is wonderful that you have your sister’s place in Mendocino to retreat to. She is a wonderful sister who obviously loves you and puts up with you. My hands are too full right now being Carol’s primary care provider; otherwise, I would have enjoyed retreating to Mendocino with you. Returning to Monterey during triple digit heat waves was how Carol and I coped with summer in Sacratomatoes. That has all changed this summer.

Carol is doing remarkably well under the circumstances. Her positive and cheerful attitude makes it easier on the rest of us. Although I am grateful for the time that we have been given to be together after her last cancer surgery, I am having difficulty coming to terms with the future change in my life. Fortunately, Carol’s Hospice Care also provides me with a counselor to help me deal with some of the issues I don’t necessarily want to think about or talk about. So like you, despite being in fine health, I do think about things I did in the past, what is happening in the present, and things that even though in hindsight I regret, I would not change.

Your latest “This & that” reminded me of the doors you opened for me when Senator Smith’s office sent me over to your Select Committee office in the 11th & L Building with my McGeorge Law Journal write up of the ’76 Coastal Act seeking a work-study internship. I remember you calling out to Lois Jones after you quickly glanced over my article proclaiming with amazement that someone actually understood how the recently enacted legislation was going to change the coastal program. You reached behind your chair and gave me a stack of draft regulations the Commission staff was drafting and asked me to review “this stuff” and see if it makes any sense. So I went back to my apartment and stayed up all night reading the stack of regulations and came back the next afternoon with a notepad full of comments, grammatical changes, and suggestions. You were surprised to see me and my notes, but at that time late in the afternoon you were more concerned about the fact that Bill Geyer (who I did not know then) was arriving with a client to talk about the CCC; and, you had other plans. So you ducked out and told me meet with this “lobbyist” and get his take on the changes needed at the CCC. (To say Geyer was a bit brought down when he and his client were told by Lois that you were unavailable, but that I was, would be a grand understatement.)

Anyway Joe, from that work study experience you opened the door for a summer job with the CCC. I was greeted warmly by the “pirates” who ran the permit staff (and the former Prop 20 Commission) because for no other reason I had been your “gofer.” I had a great summer. No question that summer launched my post-law school career. My life continued to have many twists and turns and ups and downs after that summer; but, I am most grateful for the opportunity you gave me; and, your friendship.

Take care of yourself. I hope we can find the time to get together sooner than later.

During this difficult time for Bill and Carol, please keep them in your thoughts and for those that pray, in your prayers. They have contributed much to California and to all of us. They are good people going through hard times.

Bill’s amusement and cynicism at my antics those many years ago were a comfort to me. They kept me from falling into the trap of believing I knew what was going on. Well, perhaps not completely but at least he reminded me now and then. One day, we were walking through Point Reyes. Bill was pointing out one bird or another while I was exhibiting my ignorance. Suddenly he stopped and turned to me and observed, “You don’t know anything about the environment.” It was true. I’m from New York. To me, the natural environment was what one saw through a fence or the tomatoes and zucchini growing in the little strip of dirt next to the driveway alongside my house. I was doing this because John Olmstead asked me to help him save the Pygmy Forest. If the rest of the coast had to come along, so be it.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I never thought the liberty of man consists in doing what he wishes, but rather in not doing that which he does not wish.”
Rousseau, Reverie.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Mendocino Wedding

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 Joe 0005 (August 10, 2016)

 

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
Muriel Rukeyser
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Stevie Dall.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
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Over a week of temperatures above 100 degrees baked the parched golden hills and drove me indoors for most of each day. HRM and Richard leave for a week in Hawaii and SWAC has invited friends to join her watching the sprinklers turn on and off. So, I decided to leave for my sister’s house in Mendocino.

I first drove to SF for lunch with Terry during which we opined on the frailties of growing old and life’s regrets. For me, while many things I have done or experienced have saddened and humiliated me and harmed others, I cannot conceive or even wish that they never happened because then I would no longer be me sitting here and typing this. I would be someone else. Would I be willing to surrender all the memories, good and bad, accumulated from the point that the distressing event occurred? I do not think so.

On a cold New Year’s morning in our house in Yorktown Heights, New York, I was awakened by my wife’s scream, “My baby is dead.” Later as we drove away from the cemetery, I recall glancing back the burial site on that cold forgotten hilltop. Does it sadden me still? Yes. But, had it not happened, I would not a few months later have left for Europe, my life in a shambles and begun the rest of my life. Would I surrender all my life’s memories, the good and the bad, since then for her life? Then, yes. Now over 50 years later would I surrender my life since then, my memories, all loves, joys, and sorrows? I am not so sure. Would she have been happy? I do not know. In my experience most of us simply endure, taking happiness when we can. Our musings as we pass from old to aged raise more questions than we dreamed existed when we were younger.

After lunch, I drove over to Bernie’s Coffee Shop in Noe Valley in hope of meeting up with Peter and Barrie, but they were not around. I then called my son, who I planned to have dinner with, but he was still working and I, fearful of driving long distances at night, decided to leave for Mendocino.

B. MENDOCINO ON MY MIND:

Where the weather in the Golden Hills is blazing hot, here at the edge of the continent it is winter cold, socked in with fog and strong wind. My morning walks steer clear of the bluff edge and winds its way from coffee shop to bookstore searching for warmth, coffee and the latest mystery thriller with which to pass the time.

One morning, I drove along the Navarro and Albion Ridge Roads a few miles south of Mendocino to search for the house of Michael Moore. Michael was a dear friend during the seventies. He was a Monterey County Supervisor when I first met him. Later, he built a house here in Mendocino on one of the two ridges — I do not remember which. Still later, when he was in his late forties, he accepted a fellowship to pursue an economics doctorate at Cambridge in England. One night, while standing on a bridge over the river contemplating reasons to go on living, a little man in a wheelchair, the great Steven Hawking, scooted out of the darkness, rolled up to him and asked, “Are you all right. Is there anything I can do to help?” A few days later on a call to me, Michael remarked, “Can you imagine Steven Hawking, confined to a wheelchair most of his life by a horrible degenerative disease asks if he could help me?” That was the last time Michael and I spoke.

A few days later, I was stricken again by the infection that had driven me twice before to the emergency room. With George and Mary’s help, we got some antibiotics from my doctor and following three days of shakes, chills, confusion and what have you, I began sweating heavily, my fever broke and I was able to think clearly again. It is strange that whenever that happens, for a few days, my mind seems better able to focus. The last time, I wrote in my mind a number of short stories. One, if you can believe it, was an update of Poe’s A Cask of Amontillado. This one takes place in the Berkley Hills where a not so happily married upper-middle-class retiree decides to kill someone. He chooses a man he hates simply because of a slight he received many years ago. He entombs his victim live in a mausoleum at a cemetery located in the hills along with a bottle of Amontillado purchased just for the occasion. The next day, he resumes his unremarkable life and joins his wife at the Opera where they have had season tickets for the past 35 years. He hates opera.

This time, I decided to concentrate on myself as the hero here in Mendocino. I went through stories of earthquakes, murder mysteries, secret tunnels under the town, but the one I liked the best was the Selkie. Here is a synopsis of some of it.

Feeling a little better, I drove to Ft. Bragg and went for a walk along Ten Mile Dunes. Being tired, I sat on a grass tussock with my walking stick propped on my knees. The fog had moved in shrouding the place in pearlescent mist, the ocean placid and dark. I noticed a seal or sea lion playing in the water. It seemed almost like it was performing a dance of some sort. I smiled. It stopped its play for a moment and stared at me with a liquid dark eye. Then, I saw a shadow and a fin of what I thought was a shark rippling through the waters heading toward the seal. I jumped up, ran across the sand and shouted, “Look out! Get away!” I even threw my beloved walking stick at the shadow in the hope it would drive it away. The exertion of getting so quickly to my feet brought back the fainting spells I had been suffering recently. The world started to go black. I began to spasm as I tried to fight the sudden loss of muscle control. I felt awful that I could not help save the seal. I settled back on my haunches onto the wet sand and passed out.

I do not know how long I sat there hunched over, but the next thing I became aware of was a hand on my arm pulling me up and someone saying, “Are you OK mister.” The darkness receded. I looked for the seal in the water or for blood but saw neither. I then noticed the person holding my arm, She was a slight young woman, short not slender having that soft layer of fatty tissue that can make a woman round everywhere. I guess she was beautiful in her own way. She looked slightly Asian or Amerindian, perhaps Intuit. She seemed to be about 30 years old and was wearing what appeared to be an animal skin inside out. Her hair was thick dark brown that hung down in wet strings below her shoulders.

She took my hand and a sudden warmth flowed through me. I felt much better. Better than I had felt for quite some time now. She said, “Thank you for what you tried to do,” and handed me my walking stick back.

She accompanied me back to my car. Holding my arm to help my balance should I become dizzy again. We saw each other every day thereafter. I eventually learned she was a Selkie.

She explained that many years ago the Selkies, recognizing the threat from the far more populous and aggressive Humans, like many of the spirit creatures, decided to hide among us rather than fleeing deeper into nature. Although Selkies were extremely long-lived, they still could be killed. So, they tried to live wherever they could avoid becoming the objects of violence. She, for example, lived in an isolated house on the banks of the Navarro River where she could secretly slip into the water whenever she wanted and change into her Selkie self.

They, however, at the very beginning, presciently established an investment program that over the past 400 years made the few Selkies remaining quite wealthy, despite their modest living arrangements.

There are many things I could tell about those first few days after we met and thereafter, but that is for another time. I should mention, however, that one day I asked her why she, a young woman, was so interested in a friendship with me, an old man. After mentioning her gratitude for my actions on the beach when we first met, she added that she also saw I was one of the spirit ones.

It seems, many years ago, in the Apennines of Italy and especially near Mt Vergine there lived a group of mountain and forest spirits. When not in their human shape, they cavorted among the peaks as large black bears. With the movement into the mountains by men, they knew their times were ending. So they bred with humans when they could and their sons and daughters lived among them eventually forgetting what they were.

After a lengthy process, she enabled me to reassume my identity, Unfortunately, in my human form I would always be an old man. Nonetheless, I began traveling to the tundra of Alaska where I built a tiny remote cabin. There I would change into my bear form. I loved standing up on my hind legs, feet planted in the muck front paws flapping at my sides and roaring my head off at the other bears in the area. I had to be careful, though. I could mix it up all right, but one of the massive paws of those big boys and girls could tear your head off. I also liked getting drunk on the spring berries and rolling around in the mud. Sometimes, I would spend most of the day standing ankle deep in a crashing stream batting salmon onto the banks. That was fun.

I hated hunters, though. Not all hunters. I ignored the other hermits living in the wilderness hunting for food. Trophy hunters, however, would enrage me. Sometimes I would bring a rifle with me. If I discover hunters lurking about, I would resume my human shape, hunt them in turn, and kill them. Now and then, in my human shape I would join up with the hunters and just when they would get ready to shoot a bear or an elk, I would turn back into a bear grab them and throw them off a cliff or something like that. I liked to see the fear in their eyes. Once, I came upon hunters who had just killed a magnificent elk. I grabbed them, one in each arm. I called a herd of elk over and allowed some of the bigger and stronger bucks to drive their antlers into them and carry them off screaming and bloody into the woods.

I also hated that in my bear shape I was addicted to honey. I despised sitting there with a silly grin on my mouth stoned on honey, all sticky with honey covering my paws, snout, and fur while angry bees crawled all over me. I’d then fall asleep and wake up all groggy and promise myself I would never do it again.

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

This is a continuation of my ramble through my favorite eras of history that I began in my previous post.

The First Centuries:

The first centuries here means the first centuries on either side of the BC-AD (or in more modern terms BCE-CE) dividing line. Why is this period important? Well, for a lot of reasons known to many but for me, it marks the point in time when religion changed from adaptive to exclusive.

You see, it used to be that when one tribe with their gods marched in to conquer someplace with different gods, whoever won would often either install their gods on the top of the losers gods or adopt those gods if it appeared advantageous. Over the years, with the priests and minstrels telling the tales, things got pretty mashed up and no one could really remember what was what and what actually happened when and to whom. And, when you think about it, for the average citizen what difference did it make whose god was on top as long for their day to day needs they had their local god to take care of them? It made no more difference to them than whether the king came from this side of the river or the other side.

Then, in about 1300 BC or so in Egypt, the Egyptian King (Pharaoh) named Amenhotep IV had a bright idea. “Why not have just one God?” he enquired. He thought his idea was so clever he changed his name to Anknahten after the god he invented. When they heard about his plan, Pharaoh’s advisors tried to explain to him the political problems with his proposal. For example, what about the cost of making sure ordinary people were not secretly praying to their old gods? What do we do about the unemployed priests of all the other gods? More importantly, when an ambassador from another country comes to town or our hired foreign troops come to town whom do they worship? Wouldn’t it make it more difficult to conquer another country if they knew they had to give up their gods? And so on.

Pharaoh like most kings who think they have a bright idea did not listen to his advisors and his kingdom fell into the toilet in no time. It was so bad that shortly after his death they tried to erase his memory from history.

But alas, bad ideas have a way of popping up when you least expect it or certainly when you least need them to.
(to be continued in the next post)

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”
TechCrunch

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Pookie on Top:

Perhaps, the most important thing in deciding which candidates to vote for in an election is whether you believe you can persuade them to support your position on an issue after the election not necessarily whether or not they agree with them before it. Few politicians will pick up the heavy load on a policy unless forced into it by the pressure of the citizenry or by the parasite community (lobbyists, etc.). Frankly, irrespective of what most of the electorate hopes for when they mark their ballots, the heavy lifting on changes in policy still demands the commitment, time, and money of the citizens in order to come to pass. The Constitution was drafted, in part, to make major changes in policy extremely difficult without massive support of the citizenry.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I wonder if even the most obsessive supporter of Donald Trump for President believes he would make an appropriate CEO for say Morgan Stanley, or Google, or a major Hospital and Medical Center in a large urban center, or a General commanding our troops on a battlefield? Probably not. Why then would they consider him qualified to run the nation’s largest financial institution, research operation, medical delivery system, the nation’s military establishment and much much more all rolled into one?
C. Today’s Poem:

“I think a friend’s a man of thought
Who’ll always hold out his decent hand,
To give as true friends surely ought.
He’ll take away not a grain of my sand,
Nor any blade of my greenest grass,
Nor a leaf from any of my apple trees.
He lets all slights and insults pass,
And he says to his friend, ‘You are me.’”

Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 197). HarperCollins.

D. Some Comments on my Previous Post:

1. Naida.

I love your haikus and the astutely sorted-out summary of human origins/migrations. So sorry about the catharsis. Would that we could damn old age and walk away from it with our heads high!

I’m done with the State Fair. Another year gone, 20 yrs since I drafted that contract (renewed each year). Next year I’ll have my memoir to sell. If I can endure another 18 straight 12- hr days of engaged effort, forced smiles, and a din like none other — followed by a 45-min drive home in the flashing headlights and dark and difficult road. Here’s a pic by a booth visitor.

nswfaor2015

2. The Deep Sea Diver.

Hi there joe. …Eric here …..
Still here….in the same shithouse……with the same problems….only a bit bigger….
But. Interesting…..hope to see you after your Operation……
Can I do anything for you……….please let me know………
Your Friend. Eric

3. Ruth.

You may not remember this quite as vividly as I do, but it was one of those budget sessions that triggered my contract with the Conservancy. I do not remember what I was doing in Sacramento, but I met you on the lawn at the Capitol and you were smiling, so I asked why and you said, “the Legislature just doubled my budget.” At that point, I clutched your arm and you said, “oh, you want a job.” Statement, not question. “Yes.” “I can’t give you a job; I’ll make you a consultant.” And the rest is history, or herstory.

3. Fede.

Hi Joe, how are you feeling?

You are great! I like to read what you send me every time!

Even if I don’t understand every single word, I understand 🙂
Hope you enjoy your sister’s birthday!

Hugs from Italy
Fede 🙂
Thank you and love you all.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…the hierarchy of rich and poor – which mandates that rich people live in separate and more luxurious neighborhoods, study in separate and more prestigious schools, and receive medical treatment in separate and better-equipped facilities — seems perfectly sensible to many Americans and Europeans. Yet it’s a proven fact that most rich people are rich for the simple reason that they were born into a rich family, while most poor people will remain poor throughout their lives simply because they were born into a poor family.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 136). HarperCollins.
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Categories: July through September 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 8 Joe 0005 (July 26, 2016)

“Catharsis is not a plan.”
Eugene Robinson

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful sister Maryann.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

When sickness passes,
Like storms above the mountains,
My heart blooms again.

I spent a week in the hospital, taken there by ambulance that broke down along the way. I contracted a severe urinary infection more than likely caused by the repeated changes of the catheter into my bladder. By the time I was discharged the bladder bag had been joined by a second pinned to my kidney through my back. Call me Pookie the Bagman now.

Despite my discomfort, I have begun mild exercising again as I await re-admittance into the hospital for the minor operation that I have been assured will cure my current ills. A little hiking around the lakes, various not so strenuous exercises, and some minor weight work lighten my attitude. Later in the afternoons, I sit out on the deck, eating chocolate, drinking cranberry juice and watching the hummingbirds chase each other around the feeder.

The hummingbirds flit,
Shimmering across the sky,
Bright Iridescent.

HRM returned from Europe. Noise and laughter returned to my life. My son Jason and my granddaughter Athena drove up from the Bay Area today to visit me. It made me very happy. Meanwhile, I still wait for the doctor to schedule my operation so that I can return to a normal life-style.

The heat from the Great Valley has boiled up into the Golden Foothills bringing afternoons huddled by the air-conditioner. I urge myself to get into the car and drive somewhere cooler, up into the mountains or down to the coast, but it all seems too great and effort to just find comfort. So, I turn over and doze the afternoon away until dusk. At my age, those are precious hours to waste. But waste them I do without much regret.

MOPEY’S MEMORIES:

When I was Executive Director of the State Coastal Conservancy every year at budget time the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst Office would recommend that the Legislature zero out the Conservancy’s budget. Every year I would fight against this and the Legislature would approve a Conservancy budget containing even more money than we had originally asked for.

After about five years of this, representatives of the two entities in question came up to me and said, “Every year we try to teach you a lesson, but you never give up.”

“That’s not true,” I responded. “I often give up, just never to the likes of you.”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

History, alas,
Ignored her story too long,
But, at last, no more.

I consider history my primary preoccupation other than dreaming. Although it was my college major, I was never trained or accomplished enough to explore musty original sources and the other obsessions of the academic. It, nevertheless, has been my escape. During grammar school, I always sat by the bookcase containing the class history books. There, instead of participating in school activities, I would spend my time huddled with Julius Caesar, Squanto, Ivan the Terrible, Robbispeare, Lincoln, Hypatia, J. Pierpoint Morgan and whoever else turned up that day. After school, I usually spent at least an hour sitting by myself in the Principal’s office paying for my incorrigible behavior.

Over the years, my history infatuation eventually focused on a few areas and eras. They are:

I. Breakout

About 70,000 years ago give or take 10,000 years a group of hominid’s, estimated as between a few hundred to a few thousand, crossed out of Africa and into Eurasia somewhere at the southern extremities of what is now the Red Sea. From this tiny band, almost all humans living outside Africa descend.

This group of humans met with a host of other humans who had left Africa in waves over the previous two million years. The humans our intrepid band met, many years later were given various names by wise men who study and opine on these things. Based on slight differences in bones, and DNA the wise men named these groups of humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans, Erectus, Physically modern humans (picture us but supposedly dumber) and others. Our merry band bred with their predecessors accepting those genes beneficial to them. Those who managed a gene here and there that was not beneficial died out before they could do too much damage to the gene pool. Eventually, these new humans spread throughout the world in what appeared to be lightning quickness supplanting all the diverse humans who had freely roamed the world for millions of years before they arrived.

Why?

Some say they were smarter. Others say it was because they knew how to talk better. And some even believe, it is because they got religion. But, I do not think so.

So again, why did they prevail over all the other humans roaming around?

Fish. They ate fish. No, that is not a joke. Of all the humans in the world at that time, this group that left Africa 70,000 years ago and their cousins they left behind were, as far as we know, the only humans who ate fish. Whether it was something genetic like lactose tolerance that separated them from the others or a sudden urge to experience the delight of an oyster sliding down one’s throat, I do not know — but it happened and everything changed.

This Ichthycultural revolution was every bit as transformational as the Agricultural revolution that occurred 60 or 70 thousand years later.

For about two million years, the ocean shore was a desert for Hominids and other Great Apes. The salt water was undrinkable and except for shorebirds and their eggs and coconuts, there was precious little food. The estuaries were saline, undrinkable and dangerous. The larger rivers and fresh-water lakes, at least in Africa were killing grounds, haunts of crocodiles, hippos, and apex predators. It is no wonder the hominids, like the great apes, restricted themselves to the uplands and for the humans the forest edges and the grassland where they could scavenge, kill now and then and with their more upright posture see danger and escape.

I suspect that for the most part those humans in South-east Africa that first discovered the wonders of the seashore travelled back and forth between the shore and the upland like the California coastal Native Americans did many thousands of years later— moving to the upland during migrations of the vast herds of ruminants or the flowering of favorite fruit trees. There they probably met other humans and bred with them.

Unlike the upland nomads, the fish eaters tended to spend far more time in relatively the same place. Greater food resources and stability allowed the development of many of the traits that allowed these people to survive and prevail. They tended to be healthier. The stable food sources encouraged them to remain in the same area longer and their tribal or family populations increased to units larger than the small bands of the upland nomads. Stability allowed more children to survive than those forced to travel more often and whose food sources were more uncertain. This, in turn, resulted in longer nursing and greater social interaction producing more complex language abilities. Even religion changed, I suspect. Early hominids unable to fully distinguish their consciousness from the word around them projected consciousness onto their environment assumed each thing, trees, animals, rocks and so on had its own consciousness (spirit). They also were fascinated with birth and death which they did not fully understand. Our fish eaters, due to their more stable residence, began to distinguish those spirits close by from those further away and to assign those nearer a less malevolent aspect.

Of course, perhaps the most significant difference between the fish eaters and the other hominids was their emerging sense of place and ownership. To the nomadic humans, who travelled in very small bands, conflict over a carcass may have caused demonstrations of dominance and aggression but rarely killing. We have little evidence these humans engaged in systematic violence and some evidence that they even shared habitations in the same caves.

For the fish eaters, however, mussel beds and tide pools were stationary and merely scaring off another band for the night was insufficient and more formal violent behaviors developed.

As the fish eaters developed their society along the South-Eastern African coast about 100,000 years ago, a seminal event was occurring far to the North — the ice age began. As the ocean water began to be trapped in the great glaciers, the oceans receded opening more mussel beds and tide-pools for the fish eaters to exploit and a coastal highway for them to migrate along when their local food sources played out or their tribes grew too large and had to split up and migrate. Eventually, they crossed out of Africa somewhere at the southern edge of the Red Sea which at that time was a series of large salt lakes and brackish streams.

After that, they moved with startling quickness along the edge of the Indian Ocean reaching Australia within 15000 years. Along the way, they travelled along the estuaries and streams and mated with the upland tribes that they met especially the so-called fully modern humans (upland Nomads that did not eat fish) sharing their genes for good or ill.

Meanwhile, the upland humans were not faring so well. Living in small bands, often too small to permit out breeding, they often suffered genetic maladies. Also, as the glaciers expanded diminishing their habitat, they were more and more forced up against the habitats of the far more numerous fish eaters and their progeny many of whom had intermarried and returned to their nomadic migratory ways until, as far as we know, the last remaining group of Neanderthals ended up living by the sea in a cave somewhere in Portugal, trying unsuccessfully to survive on seal meat.
(Next: The first centuries.)

DAILY FACTOID:

“Finance holds a disproportionate amount of power in sheer economic terms. (It represents about 7 percent of our economy but takes around 25 percent of all corporate profits, while creating only 4 percent of all jobs.
Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“When someone campaigns for the Presidency on a platform of Law and Order, he means that he will intensify the external controls upon behavior of which people do not approve. That is executive power.”
Carroll Quigley.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Donald Trump is ironic — like a Ringling Bros. clown is ironic.”
C. Today’s Poem:

From The Wayfarer

“The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk.”
Patrick Pearse.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees, and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations, and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 8 Shadow 0005 (June 28, 2016)

 

Human society is not a deterministic system but a collective learning process”.
Victor Ferkiss

 
I HOPE YOU HAD A HAPPY WORLD GIRAFFE DAY ON JUNE 21.
REMEMBER JULY 15 IS NATIONAL BE A DORK DAY.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. ANDERSON VALLEY:

My route of choice from Highway 101 to Mendocino, Route 128, passes through Anderson Valley. I have seen many wonderful landscapes during my travels around the world. Anderson Valley is one of my favorites. It is more restful than exciting, more welcoming than beautiful. Years ago, when I had much more money than I have now, I considered buying a place here for my retirement. Instead, I found many other ways to throw away my money.

Do I regret it? No, that would change my experiences and memories. Without them, I would not be who I am but someone else. The loss of one’s past is a form of death.

Passing over the oak-forested hills west of Cloverdale, Route 128, enters a long valley with a few tiny towns, golden hills, orchards and vineyards speckled along it for about forty miles before burrowing through dark redwood groves and finally opening on to the coast at the mouth of the Navarro River.

In the center of the valley sits the town of Booneville, noted primarily for its residents having created a made-up language, like Esperanto, called Boont. Alas, like many indigenous languages under pressure from wealthier immigrants, (the wine revolution brought in a hoard of English speakers who refused to learn Boont) only a few old-timers are left who still remember the language.

This weekend Booneville hosted the Sierra-Nevada Music Festival, featuring an odd amalgam of folk music and reggae bands. The tickets, at almost $100 each, were too expensive for me so I spent a few minutes observing the crowd of concert goers. It was interesting how certain fashion styles persevere a long after their era has passed. Tie dye clothing and granny dresses predominated even among the young. There was even a glassy-eyed young man, stoned beyond redemption and covered head to toe in tie-dyed garments, walking down the middle of the street with a goat on a rope trudging along behind him.
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Orchards

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Golden Fields and Hills

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Vineyards
IMG_1972
The Redwood Forest.

IMG_1982
The Ocean and the Navarro River.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

My first morning in Mendocino, I had coffee with Maryann and George on their new deck.
IMG_1985 - Version 3
Later that day, we attended the Comptche Voluntary Fire Department’s Father’s Day Chicken BBQ. To call Comptche a small one-store town in the woods would risk prompting visions of grandeur among the residents.

IMG_1999
Here are Maryann and George enjoying their barbecue chicken and local beer.

IMG_2003
Barbecuing the chickens.
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There are places in the world where it appears time has stopped. In coastal Mendocino ,it seems to have gotten stuck in about In 1969. In the photograph below, the same ladies who I am sure danced on the local beaches during the height of the counter-culture dance to the music of the local ragtime jazz and be-bop rock bands that performed at the event. A strong whiff of smoldering cannabis mingled with the pungent fumes from the barbecue.
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Then I returned home to the Golden Hills where I spent my days in bed bemoaning my inability to think of any other appropriate way but swimming (which you recall was especially difficult and embarrassing trailing my catheter and urine bag behind) during the recent blistering heat wave. The temperature reached 104 to 106 degrees ( 40-41 degrees Celsius for those that figure these things that way) or more here in the Golden Hills beside the Great Valley. So I spent my time thinking great thoughts, like why 0 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale is where it is, sort of hanging out there on nothing except that you are pretty damn cold, unlike the Celsius or Kelvin scale where 0 is set at the freezing point of water or absolute zero. Well, for your information, 0 degrees on the temperature scale was based upon Mr. Fahrenheit’s (for whom the scale was named) measurement of when a solution of one-half water and one-half salt freezes. I have no idea why he thought that was so important.

So, now you know why and I’ll bet a thimble full of my bellybutton lint you’ve pondered that way more often than you’ve pondered why do fools fall in love. The reason one would not think about Why Do Fools Fall In Love is that it was a song sung by that great 13-year-old rock sensation Frankie Lymon in 1956 and is probably remembered only by people my age.

Anyway, I remember attending a concert at the Apollo Theater in Brooklyn headlined by Frankie and his group The Teenagers. After the show, while Frankie was leaving the theater, he was met by a group of toughs who asked him the age old question, “ You think you’re so great, don’t you?” To which Frankie unwisely responded, ‘Yes I do,” and for which he was soundly trashed while his home boys the Teenagers ran away. Frankie’s career never recovered.

If you have never heard the tune, I recommend you do so. I promise it will never again leave your mind. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sAHiR0rkJg) Here are the lyrics;

Ooooo wah, oooooo wah, ooooo wah, oooooo wah,
ooooo wah, oooooo wah, Why do fools fall in love

Why do birds sing so gay
And lovers await the break of day?
Why do they fall in love?
Why does the rain fall from up above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?

Love is a losing game,
Love can be a shame I
know of a fool, you see,
For that fool is me!
Tell me why, tell me why?

Why do birds sing so gay
And lovers await the break of day?
Why do they fall in love?
Why does the rain fall from up above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?

Why does my heart skip a crazy beat?
For I know it will reach defeat!
Tell me why, tell me why?
Why do fools fall in love?

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

FREE SPEECH: if money is free speech, what is it saying?

The United States Supreme Court declared money spent to influence opinion protected under the Constitution’s First Amendments right of free speech. This released a lot of financial free speech into the political process. Much of that financial free speech has been expressed in secret. Many of those using financial free speech have demanded this secrecy. My question is, how can secret communications be considered free speech? What right is being protected here? One’s free speech right is the right of individuals to express themselves in the marketplace of ideas. Certainly, it is not to shield someone from the free speech right of others to disagree?

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

During my return from Mendocino, I stopped at Booneville’s bakery and coffee shop for a breakfast. I ordered a coffee and a scone. As I sat down at a table by the window, I noticed a copy of the local newspaper that someone had left behind. I picked it up started reading as I ate my breakfast.

The newspaper’s masthead identified it as the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Its motto Fanning the Flames of Discontent sounded to me more like a call to scratch an itch than to a revolution. The paper also claimed that it is the Last Newspaper in California. I had no idea what that means.

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On the front page, there appeared a lengthy article entitled, The Courtroom As Porn Parlor. I surmised it would prove diverting and began to read. It reported on a trial recently concluded in Ukiah, the Mendocino County seat.

It seems that a 15-year-old girl from the coastal hamlet of Point Arena was, as has been common with teenagers forever, unhappy with the behavioral restrictions imposed on her by her mother, a single mother, who worked nights and whose husband, the girl’s father, lived in another state. The mom, in the running for mother of the year, responded to her daughter’s complaints by threatening her wayward daughter with being sent to live with her father, “And all his rules.”

The daughter, as teenagers will, sought solace elsewhere. In this case, on the internet, and in social media, especially rap sites and chat rooms. Eventually, and as expected, her pleas and complaints elicited a sympathetic response from a seeming sympathetic 25-year-old young man, Thessalonian Love. Rap Star Love as he came to be known in the article, resided at the time in the less than picturesque city of San Bernardino. One of Rap Stars earliest and perhaps most effective messages intended, I assume, to soothe emotional turmoil experienced by the troubled young lady from Point Arena declared:

“Yeah, I’m a guy, so show me them titties, bitch, and send me a ass shot!”

Responding eagerly to such endearments our ingenue and Thessalonian eventually agreed that he would travel to Mendocino, take her away from her drab existence in Point Arena and introduce her to the excitement of life in downtown San Bernardino.

Somehow, Mom got wind of this and when Love the Lothario presented himself at the girl’s school he was met not by the object of his affections but by the Sheriff who promptly arrested him on various charges of attempting to corrupt a minor and human trafficking.

The trial of Thessalonian Love aka Rap Star Love commenced with his lawyer’s opening statement to the jury that began:

“I don’t think 15-year-old girls still call it a pee-pee anymore,”

and continued;

“As for oral copulation, we’ve had President Clinton discussing it on TV long before this little girl was even born. And if any of you have listened to rap music, like most 15-year-olds have, you know it’s not unusual, or foreign and, frankly, these girls not only call their vagina a pussy, they refer to themselves — their gender collectively, despite the progressive achievements of the feminist movement — by the same terminology.”

And further on;

“We don’t know what this girl and her friends had to say about this ‘rap star’ coming to see her, but we can imagine they were pretty excited.”

Indeed.

The trial lasted ten days mostly made up of reading into the record or listening to the communications between the young lovers. I would like to imagine the jurors hearing the rap exchanges saw the young lovers as modern versions of Romeo and Juliet’s, but I doubt it.

However, as fascinating and entertaining as this may have been, it was not the most interesting thing that happened during the trial. No, not by a long shot.

The defendant took the stand. Unusual though it may have been, it, in itself, was not particularly interesting. What was, was that after a day on the stand attempting to explain himself, Thessalonian, began to lose hope, so after court was closed for the day, as he was being returned to the jail by the bailiff, Rap Star Love escaped.

The entire police force of Ukiah, including its four-person SWAT team and its K-9 Corps, was called out to search for him. They searched for him all night to no avail. This was odd because as cities go Ukiah is distinctly modest. In fact, even as towns go, Ukiah would still not shed its modesty.
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The next morning a bailiff on the way to the court spotted our Thessalonian standing motionless in front of the town’s Walgreen’s, took him into custody and after feeding him breakfast promptly returned him to the courtroom to resume his testimony — which the Rap Star did. Except that, not having slept all night, he would periodically nod off during questioning.

Later during the trial, after Love complained to his attorney bitterly and loudly (out of the hearing of the Jury of course) that he was not receiving the quality of defense for which he was not paying, his attorney was overheard responding:

“You haven’t listened to a single thing I’ve said, and now you are in so deep there’s hardly anything I can do to save you from even the weakest charges they have against you. So, please be quiet for a minute, and let me think how best to salvage this mess.”

Thessalonian Love was quickly convicted by the jury on all counts and now awaits trial for escaping while in custody before sentencing.

All I could think of as I finished reading the article was, “Who knew things like this happened among Mendocino’s rolling hill and vineyards.”

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

‘Fishing villages might have appeared on the coasts of Indonesian Islands as early as 45,000 years ago.’
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 48). HarperCollins.

NOTE: This is 35,000 years before settled agricultural villages first appeared in the Middle-east.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Makers and Takers:

“What happens when you give a bunch of financiers easy money and zero interest rates is that they go out and try to make more money. That’s what they are wired to do,” says Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets for Morgan Stanley Investment Management and chief of macroeconomics for the bank. (He is just one of many experts who worry about the market-distorting effects of the Fed’s unprecedented program of asset buying and low-interest rates, which reached an apex in the wake of the 2008 crisis.) “Easy money monetary policy is the best reward in the world for Wall Street. After all, it’s mainly the rich who benefit from a rising stock market.”

Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The Tragedy of Progressivism

“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 Poem:

From Childhood’s Hour

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then – in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view

E.A. Poe

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I confess to an uneasy Physiocratic suspicion… that we are throwing more and more of our resources, including the cream of our youth, into financial activities remote from the production of goods and services, into activities that generate high private rewards disproportionate to their social productivity,”

“I suspect that the immense power of the computer is being harnessed to this ‘paper economy,’ not to do the same transactions more economically but to balloon the quantity and variety of financial exchanges. For this reason, perhaps, high technology has so far yielded disappointing results in economy-wide productivity”.
James Tobin, a former member of Kennedy’s Council of Economic advisors 1984

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:
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HRM in Italy as the young DiCaprio

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Captain Nicola Reffo of the newly reestablished Serbian Airlines.

 

Categories: April through June 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Cold tits 0005 (February 17, 2016)

 

“A man with no memory is a man with no foresight.”
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize) (p. 260). Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Some mornings, instead of walking along the bluffs, I stroll along the beach beneath them where the Big River empties into the ocean.
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In the late 1960s and early 70’s when the hippie phenomenon was morphing into the counter culture this vast expanse of sand used to be the site of a hippie encampment. Makeshift tents and driftwood shelters sprung up overnight and disappeared just as suddenly. Music filled the air along with the smoke of campfires and weed. People danced naked and clothed. The air smelled of iodine, marijuana and patchouli. And the colors — tie-dye shirts, beads of many hues, macrame headbands, long flower print dresses, and real flowers everywhere, all dimming in memory.
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A flower someone left in the sand.

 

The sea has reclaimed much of the beach. The sea caves and coves where those too shy to copulate on the open sand retreated for privacy and where later more permanent encampments sprung up are gone now beneath the waves.

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Thereafter, I walk under the Highway 1 bridge and along the sandy beach that runs up the river a short way.
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Once, I saw a woman swimming in the river with her dog
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I then usually amble up the old logging road that rises onto the bluffs above the river through shady redwood groves and sunny outlooks on the cliffs above the river.
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When I get tired, I retrace my steps until I reach a bench where I rest a while staring at the river, marshes and now and then boaters with their oars splashing until my reverie ends usually by another hiker walking by who insists on greeting me. I then walk back through the town to my sister’s house and take a nap.
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One of the things I notice on my walks is the evolution of the graphics on informational signs. During the early days of the Coastal Conservancy, I noticed the absence of anything other than bureaucratese in simple block letters. “Who would stop and read these,” I thought? “Would they take anything away from this?” So, I proposed creating informational signs designed by creative artists (not graphic designers) to be placed on our projects. No one agreed. Encouraged by this support I went ahead anyway, hired an artist who created a group of wonderfully attractive signs highlighting the flora and fauna that the sign described.
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Fort Bragg this week announced the competition for local artists to design the informational signs at Noyo Headlands Park and even the decorations on the bathrooms. On my walk through the Big River SMCA, I saw some well-designed informational signs containing interesting artwork. It pleased me to see that the idea has caught on.
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One slightly overcast day I walked along the Fort Bragg bluffs from the railroad bridge to the beginning of the Mekerricer State Park Dunes. A strong breeze blew in from offshore roiling the surf and creating waves almost 20 feet high.
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I rested for a few moments at the dunes by the Snowy Plover nesting area before returning.
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Snowy Plovers?

 

One day, I drove inland to walk a trail through the Pygmy Forest where my involvement with coastal protection began. But that is another story — for the next issue of T&T perhaps.
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With all those signs I encounter warning me of the danger from mountain lions as I walk along dark forest trails, I have to add another pathological fear to that of bears and bikers. Perhaps, I need Bill Yeates to explain why a frail elderly person on the verge of senility as he walks alone through the gloom of the woods, should not be afraid of those supposedly shy and gentle animals.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently, a physicist at MIT, Jeremy England, theorized that “…the more likely evolutionary outcomes are going to be the ones that absorbed and dissipated more energy from the environment’s external drives on the way to getting there.” England reasons from this that creation of large molecules necessary for life occur whenever certain conditions are met, that self-replication and greater structural organization are mechanisms by which a system could dissipate more energy. In other words, life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and the more evolved we are the more chaos we create in the universe.

Now, of course, this is merely a theory and I have no way of knowing if it has been peer reviewed or replicated. But let’s assume that it is correct. Then of course, once these molecules are formed, the rules of evolution (what ever they may be ( adaptation, mutation or thermodynamic exchanges) apply. Among the things this may mean, two stand out to me. The first is that life is simply the extension of the mathematical model of the universe with at least a phase of ever greater complexity. This may give some comfort to those who believe in an eschatological universe that I will touch on later. Another option, however, is that life is little more than a quantum parasite.

The second point, if the study is true, implies that life must be capable of developing and evolving in a similar response in many environments, certainly within the Goldilocks Zone and perhaps elsewhere. So given the number of years the universe has been in existence, the fact that many star systems and galaxies are far older than ours and that there are over 120 billion galaxies each containing more than 300 billion star systems, where is everyone?

Sure we’ve listened conscientiously for energy waves from the cosmos containing some alien civilizations version of “Green Acres,” and sent out into the void our own tiny spaceships with pictures of naked men and women bearing a message somewhat like, “hey, how’re ya doin,” with no success in eliciting a response from what probably is a trillion civilizations out there. Why? Could it be they know what we are like and want nothing to do with us? Or, maybe no one is there and we really are alone.

 

 

PAPA JOE’S TALES:

 

Trenz Pruca and the return of the Naked Mole Rat.

I have mentioned that my friend Trenz Pruca, who provides me with his many observations some of which I pass on to you, was a six-foot-three-inch white rat. I was wrong. I had assumed he was a white rat from the few times we met because of his rodent-like denture and my youthful conjecture that, unlike me and my swarthy Mediterranean neighbors who were not, those individuals with slightly pink skin were white. Nevertheless, I noticed no tail emerging from his long almost floor length dark coat and the strange un-rat-like bluntness of his snout. He was, in fact, a naked Mole Rat, one of those hardy, courageous and gentle creatures so beloved of scientists and odd individuals everywhere. He finally admitted to it when I pressed him during one of our visits. The long dark coat and cap protected his sensitive skin from the sun and also hid his nakedness as modesty demanded. He required the thick dark glasses held together by adhesive tape because his vision was poor and light disturbed his eyes.

 

“Why?” I asked one day, “do you live here and not with your own kind?” He stared at me silently for a while, a long while as he often did. Then finally when I just thought he would not, he responded in a soft voice, “I assume you noticed I am quite large.” “Yes,” I acknowledged. “But why with humans?” Again a very long silence. Then, “True, you humans are rather untrustworthy, barbaric and not very bright, and you spend all too much time talking foolishly about yourselves.” More silence, finally: “But I decided sitting in a dark coffee house with you humans was slightly preferable to living in a cave somewhere with a bear or similar creature, eating raw meat and grunting and growling and scratching myself — only slightly better, you understand.”

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
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During my several visits to Costa Rica, I met an artist named Miguel. He was well known in the country for his heroic actions during the Costa Rican War of Independence and for establishing many of that nation’s wonderful ecological reserves. He was in his mid-eighties then. He told me he used only his current nine girlfriends as models. They all would gather at his home most days to cook and take care of him and watch him paint.

I liked his painted images very much. He painted primarily in a pointillist style — applying small points of color rather than brush strokes to build up the images. I took photographs of several of his paintings, cut out those images that I liked and applied them to my canvas replacing the pointillism with brush strokes. I eliminated Miguel’s more colorful backgrounds, exchanging them for solid black as in this photograph.

I created about 15 or so paintings this way, including a triptych that hung in my bedroom. The lower quarter of the center panel contained a woman lying with her back to the viewer. Only that portion from her hip to just below her shoulder appeared, producing an elongated S-curve between it and the blackness. The panel on the right contained the same woman’s back but above it, I included Miguel’s image of a forest fire, all reds, blacks, and yellows.

The left panel had the same S curve but in the space above were painted three women I called the graces. This panel was a disaster so I never hung it hoping to try again sometime later but instead, I gave up painting.

The painting here contains images from two separate works of Miguel’s that I joined together. The elongated shoulder of the woman on the right occurred because I had photographed Miguel’s painting at an angle. When I projected the image onto the canvas I noticed it but left it that way because I thought it looked cool.

I was never happy with the black backgrounds. They looked empty. I wanted them to appear full the way Rothko’s do in his paintings, but that was far beyond my ability.

Now that I think about it, I could have just let the black brushstrokes feather off towards the edge of the painting leaving it with the color of the canvas showing through — sort of like someone painting the side of a barn and walking off with it unfinished.

I got a similar effect by using the matting control on the photograph.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the fifth in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY.

The elements of Power

“In our own tradition, the power which resolves conflicts of wills is generally made up of three elements. These are force, wealth, and ideology. In a sense, we might say that we resolve conflicts of wills by threatening or using physical force to destroy capacity to resist; or we use wealth to buy or bribe consent; or we persuade an opponent to yield by arguments based on beliefs. We are so convinced that these three make up power that we use them even in situations where different communities with quite different traditions of the nature of power are resisting. And as a result, we often mistake what is going on in such a clash of communities with quite different traditions of power. For example, in recent centuries, our Western culture has had numerous clashes with communities of Asiatic or African traditions whose understanding of power is quite different from our own, since it is based on religious and social considerations rather than on military, economic, or ideological, as ours is.”

“The social element in political power rests on the human need to be a member of a group and on the individual’s readiness to make sacrifices of his own desires in order to remain a member of such a group. It is largely a matter of reciprocity, that individuals mutually restrain their individual wills in order to remain members of a group, which is necessary to satisfy man’s gregarious needs. It is similar to the fact that individuals accept the rules of a game in order to participate in the game itself. This was always the most important aspect of power in Chinese and other societies, especially in Africa, but it has been relatively weak in others, such as our Western society or in Arabic culture of the Near East. The religious element was once very important in our own culture, but has become less so over the past five centuries until today it is of little influence in political power, although it is still very important in forming the framework of power in other areas, most notably in traditional Tibet, and in many cultures of Asia and Africa.”

“The inability of persons from one culture to see what is happening in another culture, even when it occurs before their eyes, is most frequent in matters of this kind, concerned with power. Early English visitors to Africa found it quite impossible to understand an African war, even when they were present at a “battle.” In such an encounter, two tribes lined up in two opposing lines, each warrior attired in a fantastic display of fur, feathers, and paint. The two armies danced, sang, shouted, exchanged insults, and gradually worked themselves up into a state in which they began to hurl their spears at each other. A few individuals were hit and fell to the ground, at which point one side broke and ran away, to the great disgust of the observing English. The latter, who hardly can get themselves to a fighting pitch until after they have suffered casualties or lost a battle or two, considered the natives to be cowardly when they left the field in flight after a few casualties. What they did not realize was that the event which they saw was not really a battle in the sense of a clash of force at all, but was rather an opportunity for a symbolic determination of how the spiritual forces of the world viewed the dispute and indicated their disfavor by allowing casualties on the side upholding the wrong view. The whole incident was much more like a European medieval judicial trial by ordeal, which also permitted the deity to signify which side of a dispute was wrong, than it was to a modern European battle.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“In any large organization there is no greater action that can be taken to improve its performance than cutting its upper management personnel by at least 50%.”

 

C. Today’s Poem:

“Where I’m From”
by Brendan Dreaper

I am from backyards,
from grass and sprinklers.
I am from the wood,
of the benches and deck I remember.
Worn thin by many feet.
Long kitchen counters,
smooth as marble.
Cookie dough sticking,
to the cold stone.

I am from snow forts,
hard packed snow in gloved hands.
I’m from warm fires,
and hot chocolate
warming on the stove.
I’m from books,
fantasy and mystery
that enlighten my mind.

I am from one story,
to two stories,
bedrooms are shared,
and then broken apart.
I’m from family,
unbroken unchanged.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“People can ask questions, but where there is no money, there are no answers.”
Sanderson, Brandon. The Bands of Mourning: A Mistborn Novel (p. 168). Tom Doherty Associates

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Mopey 0005 (February 10, 2016)

 

“When lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday, cash me out.”
~Frank Sinatra

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA
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TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

A few sunny days on the Mendocino coast allows me to sip my morning coffee and enjoy the view:
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One day, I drove into Fort Bragg to have my tire repaired. Waiting for the repairs allowed me to do what I love doing best, wandering aimlessly. Among my wanderings, I visited the Noyo Headlands Park that the Agency I created and headed, the California Coastal Conservancy, helped to bring about. The Park represents to me an ideal use of an urban waterfront — an environmentally sensitive open park along the shorefront. I believe it will soon be considered one of the nation’s premier oceanfront park and restoration areas. Now if we can only get the City of Fort Bragg to post proper signage along PCH so that people can find it, it will be a boon to the City’s economic health and to the environment.
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I urge you to visit it and see if you agree with me.

The overcast skies and rain have returned. Still the walks along the bluffs are exhilarating — the churning surf battering the black cliffs below. Now and then I notice a tiny bit of color among the bushes as I walk by.
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One morning, the sun was out. My walk along the bluffs took me to an area that, despite my almost 50 years of visiting here, I had not gone before. I felt a little like Kirk and Spock visiting a new world — except here there were no large breasted aliens with skin tight costumes, colorful body paint, and prominent dark eyebrows. What there was, however, were white crested waves pounding the bluffs and curling onto the black sand beaches hidden among the cliffs.
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Later, as the sun dropped toward the horizon, we strolled along the bluffs again.
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All this dramatic natural beauty began to irritate me. I longed for a sidewalk, curb and a gutter blocked up with urban refuse. So, after my morning walk, I fled north to Fort Bragg in the hope that I could find a dingy bar filled with out of work loggers or a cafe with the paint peeling off the walls where I could drink weak American coffee.

As I approached the town and circled the round-a-bout, I took the road that said, “No exit,” or something like that, since it agreed with what I was feeling. I drove up what John Olmstead called the Mendocino Ecological Staircase in hopes that I would find a forgotten tavern among the Redwoods. The homes, more shacks than homes, became shackier as I drove, the fences more home made and the “No Trespassing” signs more prevalent. I realized I was entering the zone that 20 or 30 years ago harbored the areas high-value cash crops. I soon came to the end of the road and retraced my steps down the Staircase.

At the edge of the city, another road stretched off to the East. This road promised to cross the mountains to Willits on Highway one. I suspected, since this was a numbered road, a roadhouse would exist somewhere along it. So, I drove again up the staircase until I reached a sign that announced a curvy road for the next 25 miles. I knew that roadhouses only existed on straight-a-ways and I decided to forgo the possibility of encountering the ghost of Patrick Swayze and returned to Highway 1.

After passing through the harbor in hope I would find a fisherman’s dive with no luck, I drove into the back streets of Fort Bragg.
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I had just about given up when I spotted a place on a woebegone corner of the city that seemed to have some promise.
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I parked, went in and found what I was looking for. The twelve stools at the bar were filled with men and women, most of whom were my age or older. Nearly all of the men wore baseball caps and a few were dressed in work clothes. A woman with blond hair, who now would be referred to a naturally proportioned, presided behind the bar. Although I intended to order ginger ale, I decided to order the bar’s special amber ale instead. I felt it would be more appropriate. Much of the discussion around me involved the bar’s multiple Super Bowl pools whose mathematical basis was far beyond my comprehension.

A man sitting next to me knew Duke Snyder when they both lived in Compton. They would meet walking their dogs and discuss baseball and life while their dogs humped each other.

In the corner sat a man with dark skin and a magnificent beaked schnozz, I thought he was either Native American or Mediterranean based upon the size of his proboscis. I know schnozzes — we Italians revel in the potatoes or hatchets grafted onto the front of our faces. We believe it makes us look distinguished. I learned that during the 1950s, the beaked one pitched triple A ball for a team in South Carolina before his arm gave out. I was in heaven. Next to him sat a small dark woman with many tattoos who kept bouncing up and down running off to talk excitedly with someone else sitting at the bar.

Feeling happy, I ordered a second ale.

Later, more people showed up including a younger woman who seemed to be over six feet tall. She had long braided blond hair. She slammed down the drinks like she was born to it. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and appeared happy to be there or at least happier than being where they were before they got there.

I left after I finished my second ale because I wanted to be able to drive home and I had begun to feel the buzz. When I die, I want my ashes sprinkled on the floor of the place.

Later that night, we all returned to Fort Bragg because in was “First Friday” when all the galleries stay open until late at night. I bought an old used book that contained some interesting illustrations. We then had dinner at a Mayan Fusion restaurant in the harbor. It was quite good.

The next morning we hiked along the bluffs of Spring Ranch just south of the town of Mendocino. Spring Ranch is a Coastal Reserve created by California State Parks and the California Coastal Conservancy.
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It is an example of the type of project I had in mind when I wrote the Conservancy Concept into California’s Coastal Plan, shepherded the legislation through the legislature and administered the agency during its formative years. It not only removes the land from the vagaries of regulatory conflicts but begins to push back the impacts of prior land uses, ranching and the like, through restoration. At the time the Conservancy was proposed, restoration of environmental resources was not a high priority of the State and in the case of wetlands opposed by many in the environmental community as well.
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The Reserve is long and relatively narrow, stretching from PCH to the ocean for several miles. This type of public acquisition, small narrow units, along with the purchase undeveloped subdivisions along the coast were frowned upon by the State because of management and cost issues. Yet, we believed they were necessary if critical coastal resources were to be preserved and the goals of the Coastal Plan achieved. I am pleased to see that, in part through the efforts of the Conservancy, up and down the coast these objectives are now accepted.
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Although the several entrances are a little difficult to see, once you do, you can stroll down across the coastal terrace, along the bluffs, and through a magnificently restored cypress grove. There are a few benches along the way where you can sit and watch the tumultuous surf crash of the rocks, and if the season is right, see whales migrating and seal pods roaming the waters and hauling themselves onto the rocks to sunbathe.
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The Reserve is an excellent counterpoint to the more urban Noyo Headlands Park a few miles north. You should visit both if you are in the area, and don’t forget to stop at Point Cabrillo lighthouse and park and the Mendocino Botanical Gardens also, another Conservancy project in the area I am proud of. And, of course, end your trip sipping the wines at Pacific Star Winery while sitting on Dad’s Bench watching the sun dip into the ocean.

That afternoon, as I suggested above, we had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery.
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I bought a new hat there also.

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The next day was Superbowl Sunday. I wasn’t feeling very well so after breakfast I returned to bed for most of the day. The following day the temperature reached 80 degrees. It is not natural for it to be so warm in February. After my walk, I napped to avoid the heat of the day as though I was still in Thailand.

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
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This is a photograph of my painting of a view in Cinque Terre. The painting itself was from a photograph I had taken of the place. The painting was then photographed and that photograph was photographed to present here. The colors and tints of the painting and the current photograph are not quite the same.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the fourth in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY.

The importance of organization.

“The importance of organization in satisfying the human need for security is obvious. No individual can be secure alone, simply from the fact that a man must sleep, and a single man asleep in the jungle is not secure. While some men sleep, others must watch. In the days of the cavemen, some slept while others kept up the fire which guarded the mouth of the cave. Such an arrangement for sleeping in turns is a basic pattern of organization in group life, by which a number of men co-operate to increase their joint security. But such an organization also requires that each must, to some degree, subordinate his will as an individual to the common advantage of the group. This means that there must be some way in which conflicts of wills within the group may be resolved without disrupting the ability of their common organization to provide security against any threat from outside.”

“These two things—the settlement of disputes involving clashes of wills within the group and the defense of the group against outside threats—are the essential parts of the provision of security through group life. They form the opposite sides of all political life and provide the most fundamental areas in which power operates in any group or community. Both are concerned with clashes of 8 wills, the one with such clashes between individuals or lesser groups within the community and the other with clashes between the wills of different communities regarded as entities. Thus, clashes of wills are the chief problems of political life, and the methods by which these clashes are resolved depend on power, which is the very substance of political action.”

“All of this is very elementary, but contemporary life is now so complicated and each individual is now so deeply involved in his own special activities that the elementary facts of life are frequently lost, even by those who are assumed to be most expert in that topic. This particular elementary fact may be stated thus: politics is concerned with the resolution of conflicts of wills, both within and between communities, a process which takes place by the exercise of power.”

“This simple sentence covers some of the most complex of human relationships, and some of the most misunderstood. Any adequate explanation of it would require many volumes of words and, what is even more important, several lifetimes of varied experience. The experience would have to be diverse because the way in which power operates is so different from one community to another that it is often impossible for an individual in one community and familiar with his own community’s processes for the exercise of power to understand, or even to see, the processes which are operating in another community. Much of the most fundamental differences are in the minds and neurological systems of the persons themselves, including their value systems which they acquired as they grew up in their own communities. Such a value system establishes priorities of needs and limits of acceptance which are often quite inexplicable to members of a different community brought up in a different tradition. Since human beings can be brought up to believe almost anything or to put up with almost anything, the possible ways in which the political life of any community can be organized are almost limitless.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Trenz Pruca’s First Rule of Management:

If most people agree with what you plan to do, don’t do it.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

He came home. Said nothing.
It was clear, though, that something had gone wrong.
He lay down fully dressed.
Pulled the blanket over his head.
Tucked up his knees.
He’s nearly forty, but not at the moment.
He exists just as he did inside his mother’s womb,
clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness.
Tomorrow he’ll give a lecture
on homeostasis in metagalactic cosmonautics.
For now, though, he has curled up and gone to sleep.
Wislawa Szymborska

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.”
Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
FullSizeRender_1
Canicatti Sicily, 1968

 

Categories: April through June 2014, January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Mopey 0005 (February 2, 2016)

 

“One of the more dangerous pleasures of great wealth is that you never have to hear anyone tell you that you are completely wrong.”
David Frum, Atlantic Monthly (1/1/16)
In Memory of Concepcion Picciotto: Peace at last.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Sun has hit the Golden Hills after over a week of rain and overcast skies. On the East Coast, people are digging out following the Blizzard of 2016. One of the reasons I migrated to California from New York so many years ago was to feel joy in the sun after a little rain rather than the pain in my lower back and frozen fingers as I dug out from snowdrifts and slush.

So, the sun came out again for a few days and I resumed my swimming at the health club. My chest still hurt so my usual exercise regime was greatly limited. Nevertheless, it was good to get out of the house for a while. Only a few more days remain before SWAC arrives with her newest ATM and I head off to Mendocino.

Rooting around in a forgotten briefcase, I found a few old photographs of some paintings I completed during my “painter phase.” Here are two:
IMG_0937

IMG_0944

I started the painting enterprise because I was fed up with the drudgery of law work and thought I could begin a new more exciting career as a twenty-first Century Peter Paul Rubens or perhaps even a Thomas Kinkade and support myself thereby. You know, in it for the money like Kinkade and like Peter Paul barely touching a brush while his assistants did all the work.

I eventually found it cost more to produce the paintings than I could ever sell them for. It also was boring (As some of you know, after 3 or 5 years of doing anything, I either self-destruct or go into hibernation or both). So, I gave up the enterprise. Actually, if you were to ask me, the paintings look better as photographs than they did as paintings. They were not art, even ordinary art. Here below is a very pedestrian painting, but the painter is a professional, not a hack like me (or T. Kinkade):
Pasted Graphic
Emile Albert Gruppe

The paintings are all gone now. My son has about six, a few are in Thailand somewhere and my daughter has one. Where the rest ended up, I have no idea. Many were sold at the grand garage sale seven years ago where I disposed of eight containers full of my stuff including 6000 books, several $4000 Brioni suits, my snow globe collection, a player piano and lots and lots of other things.

Today we purchased the Bearded Dragon Lizard for which HRM has been agitating for a while now. At our urging, he gave it the very uninspired name of Puff the Bearded Dragon.
IMG_0675

On Sunday, before leaving to spend a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister, Dick, HRM and I went to have breakfast at one of our favorite spots, The Purple Place, a few blocks from our house. There we learned that the tornado of a few weeks ago that I had thought touched down in the next town apparently struck here as well. According to the vet Dick takes his dogs to, the tornado bounced along the center of the road, hopped over the vet’s office skidded across the road and took off the roof of the building next to the Purple Place before jumping up to Cameron Park, the next town east, where it lifted a few more roofs. The damaged building was still wrapped in plastic.

Before heading up to Mendocino, I drove to San Jose for lunch with the original Bill Gates, not that pale imitation that happens to be the world’s richest person but the genuine original. It was the week before the Super Bowl and the city was all atwitter. The cameras were out awaiting the arrival of the teams while music blared from the displays in the park nearby. The official SB souvenirs shop had just opened for business and so we, of course, went in. I bought a couple of “official” coffee mugs and a Tee-shirt for HRM.
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Then it was off to Mendocino to spend a cold and rainy February at the edge of the Pacific. I arrived after dark, happy that I avoided any accidents like the last time I drove here.

The following day it was sunny, so I walked into town for a cafe latte and a cheese danish. I then strolled along the bluffs the taking photographs that of scenes I had taken many times before. I did find a view that I had not photographed before. Here it is.
IMG_0958

When I got back to my sister’s house, I noticed my car had a flat tire. I decided to take a nap and not think about it for a while.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Why does ISIL remain so difficult to defeat and why does it appear to be a reoccurring phenomenon?

It seems to me that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and even Boko Haram are all manifestations of the same thing. They are an ideology and not organizations as we tend to think of them. That is why the Chechen fighters who battled Russia seeking independence can move comfortably from there, to Afghanistan, to Iraq and now to Syria and believe they are fighting for the same goal. This is not too different from the State-Socialist Bolshevik ideology that fired up the wars for colonial independence 80 years or so ago. They usually achieved independence and quickly morphed into military dictatorships or dropped their strident socialism as soon as they got a taste of the beguiling delights of consumerism.

Contrary to prior policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we occupied the land, at least temporarily, while we installed a governing organization that we called democratic but many others referred to as a puppet regime, we are no longer seeking to either hold land or impose a specific regime. Also, the US now concentrates on targeting the insurgencies leaders and not merely on killing its soldiers. That is a change from Viet Nam where we racked up the kills of soldiers and civilians to no avail.

ISIL and the others remain ideologies [Islam is mostly the cover] opposed to the organizations that are the dominant economic powers of the day and not an organization like those we are used to dealing with. Killing its leaders, like killing its followers will not work. New leaders and new followers are easy to find. Occupying the land and imposing a regime we know now does not work either.

So what works? I do not know, but we have had great success battling competing ideologies with massive economic development. Young men inflamed with the possibility of becoming rich usually do not have time to pick up a gun.

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

2010: Republican businesswoman Meg Whitman spent $177 million on the race for Governor of California and lost. Jerry Brown spent $37 million and won.

2016: The New York City Police Force is the seventh largest army in the world.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the third in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY that I began in previous posts.

“Any community of persons consists of the land on which they are, the people who make it up, the artifacts which they have made to help them in satisfying their needs, and, above all, the patterns of actions, feelings, and thoughts which exist among them in relationships among persons and between persons and artifacts. These patterns may be regarded as the organization of the people and the artifacts on the terrain. The organization, with the artifacts but without the people as physical beings, is often called the “culture” of the community. Thus, we might express it in this way:

1. Community = people + artifacts + patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions
2. Community = people + culture
3. Community = people + artifacts + organization.

The significance of these relationships will appear later, but one very important one closely related to the major purpose of this book may be mentioned here. When two communities are in conflict, each trying to impose its will on the other, this can be achieved if the organization of one can be destroyed so that it is no longer able to resist the will of the other. That means that the purpose of their conflict will be to destroy the organization but leave the people and artifacts remaining, except to the degree that these are destroyed incidentally in the process of disrupting their organization in order to reduce their capacity to resist.

In European history, with its industrialized cities, complex division of labor, and dense population, the efforts to disrupt organization have led to weapons systems of mass destruction of people and artifacts, which could, in fact, so disrupt European industrial society, that the will to resist is eventually destroyed. But these same weapons, applied to a different geographical and social context, such as the jungles of southeast Asia, may not disrupt their patterns sufficiently to lower their wills to resist to the point where the people are willing to submit their wills to those of Western communities; rather they may be 7 forced to abandon forms of organization which are susceptible to disruption by Western weapons for quite different and dispersed forms of organization on which Western weapons are relatively ineffective.

This is what seems to have happened in Vietnam, where the Viet Cong organizational patterns were so unfamiliar to American experience that we had great difficulty in recognizing their effectiveness or even their existence, except as the resistance of individual people. As a result, we killed these people as individuals, without disrupting their Viet Cong organization, which we ignored because it was not similar to what we recognized as an organization of political life in Western eyes, and, for years, we deceived ourselves that we were defeating the Viet Cong organization because we were killing people and increasing our count of dead bodies (the majority of whom certainly formed no part of the Viet Cong organization which was resisting our will).”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“There are two great evils in the world, punishing yourself and harming others. There are only two goods, forgiving yourself and aiding others. Everything else is either fantasy or entertainment.”

C. Email from Naida West:

“I truly enjoyed your most recent blog. Especially the historical statistics on U.S. debt, which contradict so much of R vs D political debate: Muse from the DMV waiting room; Your mom and the benefits of “functional irascibility” — makes me feel better about my irascibility; And Quigley on the human need for cooperation with others.

The latter reminded me of the final line written by Chris McCandlas (sp?) — the college grad who left home, girlfriend, and society, experienced life on the road as an engaging & intelligent bum, hitchhiked to the Alaskan wild seeking happiness in nature, and died of dehydration and starvation after eating a toxic root that looked like an edible root depicted in his book on Alaskan plants. He survived the long painful bout of vomiting and diarrhea and wrote in his diary: “I made it!!!!” (4 exclamation points his ) However, he found himself to be too weak to go down the rocky, sloping embankment to the raging river to re-fill his plastic gallon jug or go hunting for an animal to kill. So, becoming ever weaker, he wrote his last words: “Happiness is not real unless it is shared.” I watched the movie Sunday night on Pivot TV, ending at 3 a.m. and couldn’t sleep until the sky was light.”

D.Today’s Poem:

Proud Mary

Left a good job in the city
Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
Pumped a lot of pane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
‘Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have [if you got] no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
John Fogerty

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
male-heights-from-skeletons-in-europe-1-2000-clark-645x403.0

Damn, now we are going to have to worry we are getting too tall. By the end of the century, we may all be 7’2” tall — too big for our houses, cars or burial plots.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
on-approaching-life-after-death
The Happiest Photograph of the Year.

 

Categories: January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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