“If you leave crap on people’s carpets, you’ve got to expect a bit of persecution.”
Hill, Reginald. Bones and Silence (The Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries Book 11) (p. 241). MysteriousPress.com/Open Road.
Happy Birthdays to My Wonderful Sister MaryAnne and to Her Children Brendan and Katie All of Whom Have Their Birthdays Within the Next Few Weeks.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SOCIAL DISTANCING:
It is now the beginning of our fifth month of social distancing. It all began as an amusing novelty, then drifted into annoying boredom and now is becoming a way of life. True in my case, at my age, normality means slowly slipping into senescence, sitting in the dark before the television and eating fast food. On the other hand, last night I watched three Charlie Chaplin movies in a row.
It has now been about a week since I have last written here. I am not sure there was much I wanted to remember about that week. John Lewis died, an additional two hundred thousand Americans have become infected with coronavirus, Be a Dork Day came and went unnoticed, he who is not my president remains living in White House, HRM cut his hair short, Naida continues writing book two of her memoirs and I press on in my exploration of the variety and vagaries of hypochondria. Oh, I also upgraded my operating system and may have lost all the information stored on my remote disc. Now that is serious. People over 70 should not be forced to upgrade anything. It is a danger to themselves and to others.
B. POOKIE’S MORNING:
I thought I would record my morning today. I woke up at 7:30 AM with Naida nudging me because my alarm was going off and I, as usual, did not hear it. The dog began barking. I sat up grabbed my phone off the end table and turned off the alarm. I then sleepily began going through the news headlines on the phone followed by the emails that may have arrived overnight. Then, I checked the weather to find out what the temperature would be at 9AM this morning when I go swimming — 66 degrees, colder than I would like. I looked up the latest world coronavirus statistics after which I checked 49rs Webzone for the latest news about the Niners. I then reviewed Facebook. Completing that, I put the iPhone aside, put on my swimming trunks, peed, put on a white bathrobe, and then combed my hair and brushed my teeth. While brushing my teeth, I looked down into the basin and wondered why my basin is always so much dirtier than Naida’s and why my drain clogs up quicker than hers. Deciding that that is one of life’s great mysteries, I head downstairs proceeded by Boo-boo the Barking Dog announcing my descent.
Naida is sitting in the recliner watching CNN. I sing a little bit of Hello! Ma Baby, kiss her on the top of her head and then go into the kitchen and make some coffee. I returned to the studio sit in my recliner and open up the computer. I checked Niner’s Nation for more niner’s news, Huffpost, Daily Kos, Facebook (again) and my two blogs in that order. By about then, I realized it is nine o’clock and I will be late for my assigned pool time. I leaped from the recliner, put on my sun glasses, picked up my faux shillelagh cane and rushed to the pool.
At the pool, I lean my cane against a railing, insert earplugs in my ear, remove my robe and contemplate whether the water is too cold and if I should just give up and return home. I put my foot into the water. It felt warm. I decided to go in. I went in up to my waist and thought about how cold the water will feel once I submerge myself. Again the option of returning passed through my mind. I dive in.
My usual routine is five laps swimming, then ten laps running across the low end of the pool, then four swimming laps and nine runs, followed by three and eight and finally four and seven. Some may think I suffer some form of obsessive compulsive personality disorder which I most probably do have, but in this case, I simply like to count — I count my steps, sometimes my breaths and so on. Unfortunately or fortunately, the sparkling of the sunlight on the water, the movement of the branches of the trees as they wave back and forth in the breeze, the undulations of the flowers that have fallen into the pools, and the hellos and waves from the people as they walk by the pool make me forget where I may be in my count. Anyway, after about thirty to forty minutes, I finish, get out of the pool, pull on my robe, remove the ear plugs, put on my glasses, grab my cane and leave the pool.
I do not go straight back home after swimming. I usually, and did so this day, go on a walk through the Enchanted Forest. No-one but me wears a white robe and Crocs. This embarrasses me. I mean, everyone else is dressed normally or whatever it is that is considered normal. So, I wear my mask and persuade myself I am unrecognizable. I passed a group of workman digging a trench across the sidewalk. They seem to always be doing things like that in the Enchanted Forest, digging this and that, blowing leaves into the street, climbing up and down roofs, cutting branches of trees. It all drives the dog crazy. Me too. Anyway, as I passed by, a woman dressed in a hard hat and brightly colored vest accompanied me around the activity. I do not know why, but I thanked her anyway. I walked past the Nepenthe Club House always trying to walk in the sun and avoid the shade in order dry off. As a result, I weave a rather crooked path through the Forest as though I am drunk or stoned. I guess with my white robe, cane, Crocs, wild hair, and wandering walk I must appear quite odd. I am reminded of the goddess Athena’s 3000 year-old pun on Odysseus’s name — “Odd I see
Arriving back at the house to the yapping joy of the dog and after a warm hello to Naida, I go upstairs to the bedroom, take off my swim trunks and throw them onto the rug to dry. I then get into the massage chair for a restful 10 minute or so massage after which I hang up my robe to dry, take a warm shower, swallow my morning pills, shave, and brush my teeth again. I then choose the Hawaiian shirt of the day, put on my pants, insert my hearing aides into my ears and, with the barking dog leading, return downstairs.
Downstairs, I usually prepare my regular breakfast of toasted Thomas’s Original Muffins slathered in butter and jam, but today I had biscotti instead. Taking the biscotti and my second cup of coffee, I returned to the study where I sat in the recliner, opened my computer and trolled again through my latest emails, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Facebook, and my blogs, after which I resumed reading my most recent novel. This one written by someone who calls himself Howard of Warwick. It is a comic historical novel set immediately after the Battle of Hastings, where the victor, William the Conqueror sends three of his Norman knights and one Saxon north from Hastings and the Vikings beyond Lincoln in the North send three Vikings and a Saxon south because neither knew if King Harold had died during the battle. William wanted him killed if he was alive and whether he was alive or not wanted to find his treasure. The Vikings wanted Harold if he was alive to ally with the Vikings from the north of England to drive William from the Island and, of course, whether he was alive or not find his treasure. Then the fun began.
After reading for a while, it was time for lunch and/or a nap.
And that was my morning, an adventure that more or less I repeat like a recurring dream or nightmare just about every day of this our era of social distancing.
C. TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY AND AGAIN:
On Thursday morning at about 6AM, Naida and I left Sacramento and drove to San Francisco for my infusion. Traffic was heavier than it had been on my previous trips so we arrived a bit late for my CT scans. Then it began, CT scans, blood tests, Dr. Appointment, and finishing with my immunotherapy infusion. While this was all going on, Naida returned to the car parked in hospital lot and fell asleep. She woke up with a start and thinking she had left me waiting and rushed back into the hospital only to arrive back at almost the same moment my infusion finished. It all took about four hours. We left UCSF Mission Bay and drove to Noe Valley for lunch. I ate a lamb gyro washed down with ginger beer. Naida made a delightful and refreshing drink by combining her Arnold Palmer with a bit of my ginger beer.
After lunch we drove to Peter and Barrie’s home on 25th St. Peter brought out some chairs and we spent pleasant hour or so sitting in the sun in their front patio talking about those ephemeral things friends talk about when they get together. Peter showed me a copy of my friend Richard Diran’s great book, The Vanishing Tribes of Burma. I had never seen a complete copy before. It was magnificent. Peter got his copy of the book from https://www.thriftbooks.com/. Peter ordered a copy for me also.
After leaving Peter’s house we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and the Richmond Bridge and returned home, and greeted an over-excited dog.
The next day I drove into the Golden Hills to have lunch with HRM. After lunch Hayden, Jake, and Jordan decided to wash the Mitsubishi which had gotten covered with bird poo after I had parked it for a few days under a large tree in the Enchanted Forest.
That’s all. Take care. Wear you mask. And, never forget to,
A. Good News — Perhaps.
One morning while perusing the “recent stories” section of Daily Kos as I often do, I came across and interesting comment about future population growth. The author mentions that:
“Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100.” (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53409521) If accurate, this may mean that humanity, if it manages to avoid some of the other threats to its continued existence, may survive the coming environmental apocalypse.
It is population growth that makes human technological advancement so deadly. As the author points out, one learns in Biology about the Bacterial Growth Curve. A single bacterium in a growth medium grows exponentially as the population doubles and redoubles until the bacteria begin to exhaust critical nutrients and toxic waste products build up, producing mortality increases. Finally the number of bacteria decreases. Unless nutrients are replenished or deadly waste removed extinction becomes probable. The implications of this are clear. As the author of the article states:
“Unthinking growth is always fatal, as is unthinking. Natural laws know no pity, neither for bacteria nor humans.
He then explains that the current drop in the global fertility rate,
…has nothing to do with sperm counts or the usual things that come to mind when discussing fertility. Instead it is being driven by more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, leading to women choosing to have fewer children. In many ways, falling fertility rates are a success story.
Once again it appears that it is women who will save us.
B. Could It Happen Here?
To restate the old Santayana meme, “Those who do not prepare for the worst, are doomed to experience it.” During the past few weeks, He Who Is Not My President has:
1. Moved federal troops into Portland Oregon ostensibly to protect Federal property from Black Lives Matter protestors. Neither the governor of the State nor the Mayor of the city requested any Federal assistance in controlling the protestors The troops are unidentified and are arresting and removing protestors often far from Federal properties.
2. Threatened to also send troops to Chicago and other Democratic-controlled cities.
3. Announced he may or may not accept the results of the election should he lose.
Now we all must not forget that this is a man who kept a copy of Mein Kampf on the nightstand by his bed. He does not read much, if anything at all, but he did read this book, at least part of it. The part that pertains to the steps to be used in order to seize power. If I were a modern conspiracy theorist and this was being done by say Obama or Biden or Hillary, I would allege this was done in preparation for a coup should they lose the election. Now, I may or may not qualify as a conspiracy theorist but not taking these hints seriously is foolish and not preparing deadly.
What happens if on November 3 or sometime shortly thereafter he declares the election invalid and his “irregulars” like the Boogaloo Boys, KKK, and others riot in the streets? Or more likely riot in the streets after he declares the election invalid. He then claims a state of emergency and releases military forces to patrol the streets. It is not a question of what will you do then, but what do we need to do now? We have only about 100 days.
Some knowledgeable people have told me that my worry is misplaced, the nation’s General Staff has been well trained to handle situations like this. But, coups are often led not by the Generals but the Colonels.
One thing I think would be for the Governors of the states affected to call out the state’s police force and National Guard troops in order to protect from Federal suppression those exercising their First Amendment rights. After all, wasn’t one of the purposes of the Second Amendment to provide states with a means of protecting themselves from oppression by the Federal government.
What do you plan to do now?
”History repeats itself” some say. About 160 years ago, Governor Leland Stanford, the man for which Stanford University was named (Stevie Dall tells me he named it after his son, junior), and one of the prime movers in the creation of California’s Republican Party demonstrated that the racism and hypocrisy of the Republican Party is nothing new.
In a message to the legislature in January 1862, Governor Stanford said:
‘To my mind it is clear, that the settlement among us of an inferior race is to be discouraged by every legitimate means. Asia, with her numberless millions, sends to our shores the dregs of her population. Large numbers of this class are already here; and, unless we do something early to check their immigration, the question, which of the two tides of immigration, meeting upon the shores of the Pacific, shall be turned back, will be forced upon our consideration, when far more difficult than now of disposal. There can be no doubt but that the presence among us of numbers of degraded and distinct people must exercise a deleterious influence upon the superior race, and to a certain extent, repel desirable immigration.’
Stanford was initially acclaimed for his frank statements, but later lost support when it was revealed that his Central Pacific Railroad was also importing Chinese workers to construct the railroad.”
Wikipedia, Leland Stanford.
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Grasping Reality With Both Hands — An Empire Crumbles.
Given the potential crumbling of the American Republic under the mismanagement and pursuit of authoritarian power by its incumbent Head of State, Brad DeLong in his blog Grasping Reality With Both Hands (https://delong.typepad.com/) takes us back to the time when the Roman Republic died and was replaced by the authoritarian regimes of the Caesar’s and their successors. I have included here the crucial portion of the blog where the faction opposed to Caesar rejects the compromise he offered
“The Optimate Faction Rejects Caesar’s Compromise: Liveblogging the Fall of the Roman Republic
“A strongly unconventional high politician facing the expiration of his term of office. He knows that there is a very high probability that, because of his actions in office, his adversaries will try and convict him of crimes after he lays down his power.
“Caesar narrates the reasons that the leaders of the Optimate faction—Cato, Lentulus, Scipio, and Pompey—worked hard to set the stage for war, and how the majority of Senators in the timorous middle were robbed of the power to decide freely, and driven reluctantly to vote for Scipio’s motion to rob Caesar of his protections against arrest and trial:
“Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War: ‘[The Optimate faction Consul] Lucius Lentulus took up all the speakers and routed them with a withering reply. He refused point blank to put Calidius’s motion, and his strictures cowed Marcellus, so that he too gave up his motion. And so the majority, under pressure from the consul’s tirades together with fear at the proximity of the army and the menaces of Pompey’s friends, were driven reluctantly to support Scipio’s motion. The terms of this were that Caesar should disband his army before a date to be fixed; if he failed to comply, he would be deemed to be meditating treason against the State…
“…Mark Antony and Quintus Cassius, tribunes of the people, then interposed their veto. There was a hurried debate on this veto and harsh measures were advocated; and the more savage and vindictive the speaker, the more he was applauded by Caesar’s enemies.’
‘When the Senate was dismissed towards evening, all its members were summoned out of the city by Pompey. Those who were prompt to obey he praised and encouraged to continue so; the less quick he reproved and urged to do better. Many veterans from Pompey’s old armies were called out from their homes by the prospect of rewards and advancement, and many troops were summoned from the two legions handed over by Caesar.
‘The city, the approach to the Capitol and the comitium [election square] were full of tribunes, centurions and recalled veterans. All the friends of the consuls, all the adherents of Pompey and of those with old grudges against Caesar were mustered in the Senate. Their numbers and the uproar they made intimidated the timorous, made up the minds of the waverers and robbed the majority of the power to decide freely.
‘Censor Lucius Piso and Praetor Lucius Roscius undertook to go and inform Caesar of these events, and asked for a period of six days to fulfill their mission. Some speakers further suggested that a deputation should be sent to Caesar to acquaint him with the feelings of the Senate. All these suggestions were opposed in speeches by the consul, by Scipio and by Cato, each for his own reasons.
‘Cato was an old enemy of Caesar’s and, besides, he was stung by his defeat at the elections.
‘Lentulus was actuated by the size of his debts, and by the prospect of a military command and a province and bribes from native rulers for the recognition of their titles. He boasted among his friends that he would be a second Sulla and hold supreme command in the State.
‘Scipio had the same hopes of a province, and of military command, for he expected to share the armies with Pompey as a relative [father-in-law] of his by marriage. Besides, he had a dread of the law courts and was susceptible to the flattery of certain persons of great influence in politics and in the courts at the time, as well as being swayed by his own and their love of display.
‘Pompey, for his part, was reluctant to let anyone stand on the same pinnacle of prestige as himself. For this reason, and also because he had been listening to Caesar’s enemies, he had completely severed his friendly connexions with Caesar. He had become reconciled with their common enemies―most of whom he had himself inflicted on Caesar at the time when he contracted a marriage alliance with him. Moreover, he was perturbed by the discredit attaching to his behavior over the two legions, which he had diverted from the expedition to Asia and Syria, in order to advance his own power and supremacy. Pompey, therefore, was anxious to force a decision by war. Accordingly, haste and confusion characterized every transaction…’”
As we know Caesar was assassinated, but his family and their supporters defeated the conspirators and took over republic and replaced it with an authoritarian empire. One should note, however, that the Republic had grown so corrupt after the death of the Gracchi brothers and their reforms that this seemed almost inevitable.
By 133 BC the economic imbalance in the republic was too acute to ignore, but the wealthy patricians and old families in the Senate had a vested interest in preserving the status quo. The imbalance then was similar to the imbalance in the United States today. The wealthy minority, as a result of Roman military success, sucked up the nations wealth in the form of land, while the poor in the cities survived on inconsistent handouts engineered by the wealthy to maintain their power.
“Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, tried to introduce land reform to redistribute ‘publicly held land’ to the now landless returning soldiers. He proposed the enforcement of a Roman law, which had mostly been ignored, which limited the use of public lands. While ‘public lands’ were technically state owned, such land was often used by wealthy landholders, many of them Senators. Under the enforcement of this law many of them would lose property.
“As it seemed unlikely that the Senate would agree to enforce the law, Tiberius bypassed the Senate entirely, and tried to pass his reform through the Plebeian Assembly as a plebiscite, using the legal principle of Lex Hortensia. While technically legal, this was a violation of political custom, and outraged many patricians. The Senate blocked Tiberius by bribing his fellow tribune to veto the bill. Tiberius then passed a bill to depose his colleague from office, violating the principle of collegiality. With the veto withdrawn, the land reform passed. An incensed Senate refused to fund the land commission. Tiberius used the plebeian assembly to divert funds from the income of Pergamon to fund the commission, challenging Senate control of state finances and foreign policy. When it became clear that Tiberius did not have enough time to finish his land reforms, even with political and economic backing, he announced that he would run again for the tribunate, violating annuality. This was the last straw for the patricians, who, fearing that Tiberius was setting himself up as a tyrant, responded by slaughtering Tiberius and 300 of his followers in the streets of Rome.”
Ten years later his brother, Gaius Gracchus, was also slaughtered when he attempted to institute similar reforms.
“Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus attempted land reform. They confiscated land from the wealthy classes and distributed it among the proletarii. They were both assassinated. This was the first bloodshed in Roman domestic politics.” (https://studentreader.com/1UD16/gracchi-reforms/)
It all sounds somewhat like what is happening in the United States today. Should we be pleased we may be experiencing something similar today?
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
We learn the most when our expectations are proved wrong and the least from our successes.
C. Today’s Poem:
Borges has been called a “surrealist” poet. That means his poems are often odd, difficult to comprehend, at times amusing and at other times dreadfully boring. In the poem below, he plays with the idea that we wear our persona like we wear clothing. They both hide what is behind them. We can take them off or change them whenever we want. Neither our clothing or the persona we present to the world is us. Or, as Bruce Hartman wrote:
“We’re all impostors…” “We spend our lives impersonating selves we don’t really have.”
The Philosophical Detective (p. 202). Swallow Tail Press.
Borges and I
The other one, Borges, is the one to whom things happen. I wander through Buenos Aires, and pause, perhaps mechanically nowadays, to gaze at an entrance archway and its metal gate; I hear about Borges via the mail, and read his name on a list of professors or in some biographical dictionary. I enjoy hourglasses, maps, eighteenth century typography, etymology, the savour of coffee and Stevenson’s prose: the other shares my preferences but in a vain way that transforms them to an actor’s props. It would be an exaggeration to say that our relationship is hostile; I live, I keep on living, so that Borges can weave his literature, and that literature justifies me. It’s no pain to confess that certain of his pages are valid, but those pages can’t save me, perhaps because good writing belongs to no one, not even the other, but only to language and tradition. For the rest, I am destined to vanish, definitively, and only some aspect of me can survive in the other. Little by little, I will yield all to him, even though his perverse habit of falsifying and exaggerating is clear to me. Spinoza understood that all things want to go on being themselves; the stone eternally wishes to be stone, and the tiger a tiger. I am forced to survive as Borges, not myself (if I am a self), yet I recognize myself less in his books than in many others, less too than in the studious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him, and passed from suburban mythologies to games of time and infinity, but now those are Borges’ games and I will have to think of something new. Thus my life is a flight and I will lose all and all will belong to oblivion, or to that other.
I do not know which of us is writing this page.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986).
All is subterfuge.
“We insist, it seems, on living. Then again, indifference descends. The roar of the traffic, the passage of undifferentiated faces, this way and that way, drugs me into dreams: rubs features from faces. People might walk through me … We are only lightly covered with buttoned cloth; and beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence.”
VIRGINIA WOOLF, The Waves.