Posts Tagged With: Food

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Capt. Coast 0009. (May 9, 2020)

 

“By the logic of the free-market theorists, shouldn’t religious exemptions from U.S. taxes—state subsidy by other means—breed complacency and laziness among the leaders of every American church?”
Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 292). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, George.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE PANDEMIC:

 

 

I returned from my one-day trip to UCSF in the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. As soon I entered the house from the garage and placed my hat in the closet, the front door opened and Naida entered with the dog in tow. They obviously were returning from a walk. She was holding in one hand something that looked like weeds —sprays of tiny white flowers radiating from a pale green stalk. “Welcome back,” she exclaimed. “Guess what I have?”

“It looks like hemlock.”

“No,” she laughed. “They are elderberry flowers. I picked them from the bushes by the river. The early California pioneers used to dip them in pancake batter and fry them. It is supposed to be very good.” And so, she flounced off into the kitchen and whipped up two elderberry pancakes. They were very tasty.

Two of three days after I wrote the entry above and not related to it, I felt sick. I checked for coronavirus symptoms — no fever, cough, or difficulty breathing but slight chills, headache, upset stomach, and fairly intense fatigue. I spent most of the day in bed. It could be simply a more severe than usual reaction to my immunotherapy infusion due to the doubling of the dosage at my last appointment. Or, it could be just another episode of my hypochondria. Time will tell.

I got up in the late afternoon still feeling terrible — sat in my recliner, ate a lunch of bread pudding with raisins (I’m not kidding), and instead of returning to bed, I watched “Singing in the Rain” for the umpteenth time. Still great.

I was still feeling bad, so I prepared to go back up to bed. The next movie on TCM, however, was Francis the Talking Mule starring Donald O’Connor. So, I decided to stay up and see it. Wouldn’t you?

After the movie, I was feeling a bit better but I felt as though I had a fever. I asked Naida to find the thermometer from where she left it so that I could take my temperature. She found it. Unfortunately, we had no alcohol with which to clean it so she took the bottle of Limoncello I had just purchased and plunged the thermometer into it. I had not known how pleasant taking one’s temperature could be (Of course, it was under my tongue.) Finding myself happier after sucking on a Limoncello flavored thermometer, I stayed up and watched “Fallen Angel” a noir film from 1945 directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and Alice Faye. Good movie.

The next morning, I woke up feeling much better (the Limoncello?) I decided to visit HRM, But before I go, a few words about hypochondria.

 

B. A FEW WORDS ABOUT HYPOCHONDRIA:

 

 

I often make fun of my relatively slight case of hypochondria, but for many, it may be a rather serious mental health disorder. Being a hypochondriac and experiencing health anxiety can be debilitating. It can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it. “A person with health anxiety often may have gone through a serious illness and fear that their bad experience may be repeated. They may be going through major life stress or have had a serious illness during childhood.” (As a child, I had repeated hospitalizations for pneumonia — virtually every winter from when I was about 7 until I was 14).

To those suffering severe episodes of this disorder, I apologize for making light of it. Nevertheless, according to the literature hypochondriac symptoms may include:

· Regularly checking oneself for any sign of illness.

(I do this, especially at night when I am trying to get to sleep.)

· Fearing that anything from a runny nose to a gurgle in their gut is the sign of a serious illness.

(Me too — a gurgling gut also keeps me awake. Doesn’t it do that to you too?)

· Making frequent visits to their doctor.

(I do. I love going to the doctor. Lots of shiny things to look at and also they, the doctors and nurses, really do try to make you believe they care.)

· Conversely, avoiding the doctor due to fear that the doctor will find they have a dreaded disease or serious illness.

(Not me. As I said, I love doctor visits.)

· Talking excessively about my health.

(Just read my previous T&T posts — I manage to mention the state of my health in just about every post.)

· Spending a lot of time online, researching their symptoms.

(I do this. Where else would I find the statements in italics I have included here?)

· May focus on just one thing: a certain disease (example: cancer) or a certain body part (example: the lungs if they cough). Or, they may fear any disease or might become focused on a trending disease (example: during flu season, they may be convinced that a sniffle means they’re coming down with the flu).

(My focus over the years may change, but I generally concentrate on one imagined disease at a time — I am not an Omni-hypochondriac).

· Are unconvinced that their negative medical tests are correct, then worry that they have something undiagnosed and that no one will be able to find it and cure them.

(All the time. Just today I read in the report of my most recent CT scan:

Redemonstration of tubular low density 10 mm structure in the right lower lobe tracks along the bronchovascular bundle unchanged over multiple prior studies. Previously seen groundglass nodule in the left lower lobe measuring 5 mm now appears to be entirely solid rather than groundglass (series 2, image 196).

 

If groundglass in your lung doesn’t concern you, nothing will. What frightens me most, however, is that I cannot understand what they are talking about. I mean, solid rather than goundglass should be a good thing, no?)

· Avoiding people or places they fear may cause them to get sick.

(I do. I even cross the street when walking past a hospital.)

On the other hand, the opposite of hypochondria is anosognosia a symptom of severe mental illness experienced by some that impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness. Now that is serious. Don’t be an anosogniac.

 

 

C. OFF TO THE GOLDEN HILLS:

 

 

 

Anyway, I drove off into the Golden Hills in the Mitsubishi to visit HRM. He and Jake washed the car and then, as teenage boys do, put their heads under the hood and practiced car-talk for a while.
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HRM and I also stopped by the little lake where I used to watch HRM fishing when he was younger. We reminisced about this and other things as we strolled around the ponds. I one point he said, “You know something? I never caught anything.”

We also watched some geese and ducks shepherd their goslings and ducklings on the grass by the water.
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Back at HRM’s house, while the teens were occupied with the Mitsubishi, I took the time to examine the new landscaping they were all busily installing this last week or two.

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D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

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Another view of the Enchanted Forest.

 
After my return to the house in the Enchanted Forest, Naida spent much of the evening entertaining me with stories about the two goats she owned when she and Bill lived on the ranch by the Cosumnes River. Her original intention was to have the goats eat the unwanted invasive vegetation in the horse pastures. In fact, they named them Black and Decker because they were supposed to remove the weeds. Although it did not work out quite as she planned, and, if her stories are to be believed, they were more trouble than helpful, she nevertheless loved the goats until they passed away leaving her sad but with a lot of funny stories. One of them has her chasing the escaped Decker across the golf course fairways that bordered the ranch and urging the surprised golfers to join her in the pursuit.

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Naida with Black — Decker hides in the shadows.

 

 
A day or so later, Naida and I decided to take the dog and spend the afternoon on the banks of the American River. The river is separated from the Enchanted Forest where we live by a fifty-foot high levee. In the bottomland between the levee and the river, bike and hiking trails snake through cottonwood, black oak, and elderberry woodlands. Arriving at the edge of the river, we put down a yoga mat to sit on, watched some people fishing from boats, and eventually fell asleep.
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This week seems longer than most. In addition to my frequent naps, and watching the political punditry and old movies on TV, I spend the afternoons dozing in my chair in the garden, like an old man waiting for sundown. Perhaps tomorrow I will do something odd and unusual, perhaps even a new adventure, but right now I wonder why I would want to. At my age, naps and afternoons dozing in the sun seems to be as good as it gets.

I almost forgot, we still have our evening walks through the Enchanted Forest. They are nice too.

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Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog on one of the paths near our home in the Enchanted Forest.

 

 
Today the sameness of the day was broken with a FaceTime call with Peter and Barrie. There was a lot of talk about dogs, music, food (marzipan), and toilet paper.

One day. I dove back into the Golden Hills to do a little shopping. I also picked up some medicines and visited HRM. The crew at Dick’s house remains in their landscaping frenzy. SWAC has Dick, Adrian, Bob the Handyman and HRM working every day for the past week or so buying plants and trees (hundreds) at the nursery, hauling them home, planting them, installing the drip irrigation, transporting rocks and masonry and building the paths, terraces, and rock gardens. It all seems a bit mad.
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Hayden by one of the several new rock gardens.

 
I do not recall much of the past few days because I have felt, ill, listless, and irritable in the 90-degree heat and have taken to spending much of my time in bed — what else is new.

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MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 
I began writing, “This and that…” 10 years ago when I moved from the US to Thailand. It was not called “This and that from re Thai r ment” then. That happened almost a year later when my good friend Irwin Schatzman suggested I name it that. Irwin also suggested “3Th,” but I no longer remember what that means. About eight years ago, my beloved “cuzin” died, a victim of cancer.

I moved into a house in Chiang Mai I built but no longer owned in order to take care of Hayden who was four at the time.

My original purpose in writing what became T&T was to make it more efficient to keep in touch with my friends and relatives back in the US by writing a single email rather than separate ones to each. I also wanted to begin keeping a journal about my exile. I had tried to keep a diary many times in my past but would soon lose my resolve and abandon it. For a while, I kept the journal separate from my letter but I thought by combining my journal with that letter I would feel obligated to keep on writing it and it also would be more efficient and less work for me.

Here is my first post from Chiang Mai and the associated journal:

My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.

This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito-infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.

Joe…

PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house and of Hayden and I clowning around. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, circumscribe my life here.

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My home in Chiang Mai Thailand.
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Haden and I horsing around.
——————————————————————-

FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010

Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed-choked and mosquito-infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).

A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.

At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.

The school contains the main building and several small attractive adobe like outbuildings.

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The entrance to “Sunshine Kindergarten.”

 
After seeing him off, I searched for the cafe in order to have a latte. At first, I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.

I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot living in the subdivision. I left and slowly walked home.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Some Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement (continued) Part IV.

 

 

Part IV

 

ENTROPY, THERMODYNAMICS, AND THE UNIVERSE.

 

There is another puzzle associated with entropy in our universe.

Astronomical observations do not fit well with the Second Law. On cosmological scales, our universe seems to have become more complex with the passage of time, not less complex. The matter in the universe started out in the Big Bang with a very smooth distribution and has become more and more clumpy – more and more complex – with the passage of time. The entropy of the universe seems to have decreased considerably, not increased. Matter is now segregated on a huge range of scales: into rocks, asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies, galactic clusters, galactic superclusters, and so on. Using the same metaphor as in thermodynamics, the distribution of matter in the universe seems to be maturing increasingly ordered. This is puzzling since the Second Law tells us that a thermodynamic system should become increasingly disordered.

The cause of this clumping seems to be well established: it is gravity. A second time-reversibility paradox now rears its head. Einstein’s field equations for gravitational systems are time-reversible. This means that if any solution of Einstein’s field equations is time-reversed, it becomes an equally valid solution. Our own universe, run backward in this manner, becomes a gravitational system that gets less and less clumpy as time passes – so getting less clumpy is just as valid, physically, as getting more clumpy. Our universe, though, does only one of these things: more clumpy.

Paul Davies’s view here is that ‘as with all arrows of time, there is a puzzle about where the asymmetry comes in … The asymmetry must, therefore, be traced to initial conditions’. What he means here is that even with time-reversible laws, you can get different behavior by starting the system in a different way. If you start with an egg and stir it with a fork, then it scrambles. If you start with the scrambled egg and very very carefully give each tiny particle of egg exactly the right push along precisely the opposite trajectory, then it will unscramble. The difference lies entirely in the initial state, not in the laws. Notice that ‘stir with a fork’ is a very general kind of initial condition: lots of different ways to stir will scramble the egg. In contrast, the initial condition for unscrambling an egg is extremely delicate and special.

In a way, this is an attractive option. Our clumping universe is like an unscrambling egg: its increasing complexity is a consequence of very special initial conditions. Most ‘ordinary’ initial conditions would lead to a universe that isn’t clumped – just as any reasonable kind of stirring leads to a scrambled egg. And observations strongly suggest that the universe’s initial conditions at the time of the Big Bang were extremely smooth, whereas any ‘ordinary’ state of a gravitational system presumably should be clumped. So, in agreement with the suggestion just outlined, it seems that the initial conditions of the universe must have been very special – an attractive proposition for those who believe that our universe is highly unusual, and ditto for our place within it.

From the Second Law to God in one easy step. Roger Penrose has even quantified how special this initial state is, by comparing the thermodynamic entropy of the initial state with that of a hypothetical but plausible final state in which the universe has become a system of Black Holes. This final state shows an extreme degree of clumpiness – though not the ultimate degree, which would be a single giant Black Hole.

The result is that the entropy of the initial state is about 10-30 times that of the hypothetical final state, making it extremely special. So special, in fact, that Penrose was led to introduce a new time-asymmetric law that forces the early universe to be exceptionally smooth.

Oh, how our stories mislead us … There is another, much more reasonable, explanation. The key point is simple: gravitation is very different from thermodynamics. In a gas of buzzing molecules, the uniform state – equal density everywhere – is stable. Confine all the gas into one small part of a room, let it go, and within a split second, it’s back to a uniform state. Gravity is exactly the opposite: uniform systems of gravitating bodies are unstable. Differences smaller than any specific level of coarse-graining not only can ‘bubble up’ into macroscopic differences as time passes, but do.

Here lies the big difference between gravity and thermodynamics. The thermodynamic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences dissipate by disappearing below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The gravitic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences amplify by bubbling up from below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The relation of these two scientific domains to coarse-graining is exactly opposite when the same arrow of time is used for both.

We can now give a completely different, and far more reasonable, explanation for the ‘entropy gap’ between the early and late universes, as observed by Penrose and credited by him to astonishingly unlikely initial conditions.

It is actually an artifact of coarse-graining.

Gravitational clumping bubbles up from a level of coarse-graining to which thermodynamic entropy is, by definition, insensitive. Therefore virtually any initial distribution of matter in the universe would lead to clumping. There’s no need for something extraordinarily special.

The physical differences between gravitating systems and thermodynamic ones are straightforward: gravity is a long-range attractive force, whereas elastic collisions are short-range and repulsive. With such different force laws, it is hardly surprising that the behavior should be so different. As an extreme case, imagine systems where ‘gravity’ is so short range that it has no effect unless particles collide, but then they stick together forever. Increasing clumpiness is obvious for such a force law.
The real universe is both gravitational and thermodynamic. In some contexts, the thermodynamic model is more appropriate and thermodynamics provides a good model. In other contexts, a gravitational model is more appropriate. There are yet other contexts: molecular chemistry involves different types of forces again. It is a mistake to shoehorn all natural phenomena into the thermodynamic approximation or the gravitic approximation. It is especially dubious to expect both thermodynamic and gravitic approximations to work in the same context when the way they respond to coarse-graining is diametrically opposite.

See? It’s simple. Not magical at all …

Perhaps it’s a good idea to sum up our thinking here.

The ‘laws’ of thermodynamics, especially the celebrated Second Law, are statistically valid models of nature in a particular set of contexts. They are not universally valid truths about the universe, as the clumping of gravity demonstrates. It even seems plausible that a suitable measure of gravitational complexity, like thermodynamic entropy but different, might one day be defined – call it ‘gravtropy’, say. Then we might be able to deduce, mathematically, a ‘second law of gravitics’, stating that the gravtropy of a gravitic system increases with time. For example, gravtropy might perhaps be the fractal dimension (‘degree of intricacy’) of the system.

Even though coarse-graining works in opposite ways for these two types of systems, both ‘second laws’ – thermodynamic and gravitic – would correspond rather well to our own universe. The reason is that both laws are formulated to correspond to what we actually observe in our own universe. Nevertheless, despite this apparent concurrence, the two laws would apply to drastically different physical systems: one to gases, the other to systems of particles moving under gravity.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Liberals have principles, Conservatives ideology.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

Untitled — Anonymous Australian Aboriginal Poem.
The white man dropped from the sun bright sky,

For he envied the blackfellow’s land,

With greed and revenge in his restless eye,

And disease and death in his hand.

And he grasped the forest, and he seized the strand,

And claimed the blue mountains high;

And he scours the bush with a ruthless band,

’Till its denizens trembling fly —

And his pigs and his cattle pollute the land

’Till it stinks, and the blackfellows die.

Anonymous (source language unnamed), “Untitled,” Bendigo Advertiser (Victoria), September 26, 1855, page 4.

 

 

D. Pookie’s Musings:

 

 
I discovered the following quote on Wikipedia while looking for something else. It is one of life’s great conundrums that whenever you look for something, you inevitably discover something else more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking. Anyway, I have posted what I found here in the hope that Peter, who studied and received advanced degrees in philosophy from one of the world’s great Universities and sometimes reads my postings, could unravel the meaning and significance of it as well as the conundrum I mention above.

In the philosophy of science, the distinction of knowledge versus reality is termed epistemic versus ontic. A general law is a regularity of outcomes (epistemic), whereas a causal mechanism may regulate the outcomes (ontic). A phenomenon can receive interpretation either ontic or epistemic. For instance, indeterminism may be attributed to limitations of human observation and perception (epistemic), or may be explained as a real existing maybe encoded in the universe (ontic).

After reading the above, I concluded it has one of two meanings. The first has something to do with universal fecundity. After all, of what use is one’s epistemic without an ontic? On the other hand, perhaps it all has to do with the effect of self-quarantine on my mind. Could it all be attributed to its limitations on my observation and perception — a hallucination perhaps? Or, could it be explained as something real, existing, and perhaps encoded in the universe? Is whether anyone cares an epistemic surmise or an ontic reality?

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

The Mayfly and the Great Trout.

“[A]n old mayfly is telling some youngsters about this god, as they hover just above the surface of a stream:

‘… you were telling us about the Great Trout.’ ‘Ah. Yes. Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you’ve been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly—’ ‘—taking heed of your elders and betters—’

‘— yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout—’ Clop. Clop. ‘Yes?’ said one of the younger mayflies. There was no reply.

‘The Great Trout what?’ said another mayfly, nervously. They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water. ‘The holy sign!’ said a mayfly. ‘I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!’
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 
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The view from my window at night

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Capt. Coast 0009. (April 28, 2020)

 

“Any system can be corrupted as long as people will pretend it’s not their problem.”
Mayne, Andrew. Dark Pattern (The Naturalist) (p. 78).

 

Happy Birthday — Naida, Nikki, and George.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE GREAT EPIDEMIC OF 2020:

 
The weather was warm and sunny today, the temperature reaching into the 80s. We decided to go out wander along the edge of the nearby American River. Although we were breaking confinement, we were sure we would not violate social distancing guidelines because usually there were not too many people wandering around there. We walked to our favorite spot on the riverbank. Along the way, Naida, as usual, instructed me on the local flora.

We sat on some dry grass and watched people on the opposite bank launch a boat and the birds taking off and landing on the water. Naida recited a part of a love poem that featured rabid cormorants. She also, for some reason, sung an old Sam Cooke tune:

Every day, along about evening
When the sunlight’s beginning to pale
I ride through the slumbering shadows
Along the Navajo Trail

 

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The American River by the Enchanted Forest.

 

Before she became an accomplished novelist, Naida obtained a Ph.D. in sociology. Her 1978 thesis, entitled Leadership, and Gender: A Comparative Analysis of Male and Female Leadership in Business, Politics, and Government, She had previously published a book on the early results of her study, Leadership With A Feminine Cast. She interviewed such people as Ivy Baker Priest US Treasurer in the Eisenhower Administration who famously quipped, “I’m often wrong, but never in Doubt”; Ruth Handler of Mattel fame; Jess Unruh the powerful leader of California’s Assembly and over 70 other well known civic and business leaders.

We spent much of the day reading sections from the thesis. It was fascinating for me to learn that an overwhelming majority of these leaders, most of whom were and still are household names, were the children of immigrants or, in the case of African Americans, had migrated from the South. Another consistent element in almost all of their lives was the presence of a strong mother. One female leader commented:

“My grandmother never wanted to come to the United States. She made my grandfather unhappy some of the time. For instance, she wanted to see the Panama Canal. So she left to see it. She said. “If all these kids can’t take care of him, something is wrong (fourteen children) My grandmother went off to more places than you can imagine in those days when traveling was difficult.”

 

What seemed to differ in the lives of the women leaders from the men, other than the resistance of the latter to the aspirations of the former, was that women generally worked harder to get where they were. As for management and leadership skills, the men mostly learned and honed their skills in the military and tended to manage their institutions in a hierarchical top-down manner. The women, on the other hand, generally tried to encourage a feeling of family in their organizations with her as the matriarch. In fact, the woman leaders overwhelmingly reveled in being considered different in how they dressed, behaved, and led. (Note — because women leaders overwhelmingly were the children of immigrants Naida specifically choose male children of immigrant parents to balance it out. She said, in either case, women or children of immigrants [including people of color] had a more difficult time of it than white males [and they were aware of it])

Days have rolled on by with little to comment on other than that the days of our confinement have increased. We have begun losing track of the days of the week, We have been in self-quarantine for about 50 days now — almost 15% of the year.

Interesting — the retirement village not too far from the Enchanted Forest that has been actively promoting us to choose them when we inevitably divide it is time to ender an assisted living facility, called today and offered us a free dinner from the local restaurant of our choice delivered to our home this evening. We chose Zinfandel a somewhat expensive Italian-American restaurant that we enjoy eating at.

I drove up into the Golden Hills to see Hayden. I arrived just as he returned with SWAC from buying flowers for planting around the house. I put on my mask and rubber gloves and keeping my social distance when with him as he showed me what they had been planting these past few days. In the side yard, they had planted about eight trees — a Japanese Maple, an orange tree, a lemon tree, apricot and peach trees, pomegranate, and some Thai fruit trees. I do not know how well some of these trees will do in that environment.

The front yard, actually a slope from the garage up to the road, has been planted with many flowers and an olive tree. On a bare area between two massive redwood trees next to the driveway had been used for burying pets — Pepe and Pesca the two Bichons, a crayfish, a couple of lizards, a tiny snake and a large goldfish named Sharky. A few clumps of flowers have now been planted on that hallowed ground.

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I then returned home. Shortly after my arrival, our free dinner that I had been eagerly anticipating arrived. It was a hamburger for me and chicken tacos for Naida. I was disappointed and pissed. What’s worse, the meat looked and tasted like it came in a can.

This afternoon we took Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. It was sunny and warm, in the upper 70s. We tried to find paths we had never walked before and we did. At one point we found ourselves by the lake and sat there awhile enjoying the view.
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Land Park is a large park in Sacramento. The Sacramento Zoo is located there. According to Naida, the developer of the area created it as an amenity for his development. He went on to be elected mayor of the city. We decided to visit it today, taking all the care necessary to avoid breaching social-distancing guidelines. Equipped with masks and rubber gloves we walked around a lake and through the rock garden.

The story about the rock garden: In the late 1930s a woman began planting the garden in the public park. The city did nothing to stop her. They even gave her an award. After she died, the garden she worked so hard on was taken over by the city. I do not know if any of this is true, but history is story and if the story is good enough then it is good enough. As Pratchett writes, “We make up our world according to the stories that we tell ourselves, and each other, about it.” (Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.)

For the next few days, the weather hovered in the mid-80s. Sunny with a slight breeze. I placed a folding camp chair in a spot of shade in the back yard and spent much of the afternoon dozing with the dog lying at my feet and now and then typing things like I am doing now. I wonder why lazing away outdoors in sunny weather is so pleasant and not boring at all, while sitting indoors often feels tedious and uncomfortable. Perhaps Peter knows. He understands things like this. I consider him a master keeper of obscure and unconventional notions.

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I think I will go up to bed. Napping also is neither boring nor unpleasant.

That night after I got up, we watched The Sunshine Boys for perhaps the fifth or sixth time in the last month. I did not want to. I thought of going back to bed. I couldn’t. I love that movie. One could say I liked it because of the timing between the actors, the directing, Neil Simon’s script, seeing Gorge Burn’s again on the screen, or Matthau tearing up the scenery. No, I liked it because it was about old guys. Also, because once, at a Coastal Commission meeting, I was mistaken by the press for Walter Matthau. I would have preferred being mistaken for Rock Hudson.

Last night, I had a dream. No not a dream about freedom from four centuries of oppression. Instead, I was riding a bus. I do not know where that bus was or where it was going, but something about it made me think it was somewhere in San Francisco. I was sitting as usual in one of the reserved for seniors and handicapped seats that are generally filled by 20 somethings or the mentally ill. Anyway, the bus was full of men — stuffed full. They started hassling and ultimately punching me. Eventually, I fought back, swinging my cane and discovered they were all ghosts because when struck they each disappeared in a puff of smoke — except for four big heavyset men. They were real and, hopeless as it may have seemed, I waded in, punching them with all my might only to wake up and discover I was punching Naida. Having experienced this before, she knew enough to avoid my punches and calm me down until I fell back to sleep.

The next morning I felt physically, mentally and emotionally like dog shit so after breakfast and a bit of news about our Commander in Chief recommending we shoot up with Clorox to cure us of the plague and stop us from criticizing him, I drove into the Golden Hills to visit HRM in hope that it would cheer me up. Donning my mask and gloves, I met him and Jake in front of the house and accompanied them on a walk through their most recent plantings at the back. Haden now has a bedroom on the bottom floor with a large deck extending into the backyard. He has festooned his deck with flowering plants everywhere, hanging from the rafters, on the floor, and in the backyard. He has included a large wisteria bush that he plans to train to extend onto the deck.

The next day or perhaps the day after, we packed some soft drinks, a box of Fig Newtons, some coffee and Boo-boo the Barking Dog into the car, and set off for a ghost town on the banks of the Mokelumne River Naida had visited a few years ago. We drove through the Gold Country on Route 49, until we came to the turnoff to the town. Alas, the road was closed. “Let’s walk” I suggested. “How far can it be?”

So we parked the car and set off. The walk started out delightfully. The route ran along the banks of the river that snaked through the foothills of the Sierra’s. California Poppies, Lupine, and many other spring wildflowers covered the hills. A blue oak and Digger pine forest grew along the banks of the river.

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IMG_8195      IMG_8205

 

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The Mokelumne River through arches of blue oak.

 

 

The town we were heading to was originally built to house the workers building a hydroelectric project on the river. Now and then small groups of hikers passed us along the road some of them looked like they had been bathing in the river. As the walk lengthened, I began to grow tired. I asked a group of young men coming down the path how far it was. “Not far,” they responded. Of course, “Not far,” for some 20-year-olds and “Not far,” for an eighty-year-old are two entirely different concepts.
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My plan was to walk as far as I could. Not too far (80-year-old far) from where we passed the young men, I had reached my limit and sat, exhausted, in some shade at the side of the road. I realized my plan to only walk as far as I could was flawed. I still had to walk back.

Naida, being healthier and more athletic than I, felt no such fatigue. Nonetheless, She agreed we should head back. And so we did. I walked from shadow to shadow and collapsed at just about everyone we came to. At one point I considered keeling over and forcing Naida to call for an ambulance.
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Naida discovered an unusual poppy along the way.

 

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She also found some bush lupine growing by the road.

 

 

Once we left the path to walk a few steps to the river so the dog could get a drink. (Did I fail to mention that despite bringing copious amounts of water and juice and Fig Newtons along, we left them all back in the car) While the dog was drinking his fill, a big black snake with golden stripes slithered out from under some detritus just after they passed. I thought it might be the California version of the east-coast deadly coral snake except 10 times larger. Not being much of a woodsman, I did the only thing I could think of. I screamed. “What’s the matter?” Naida responded. “A big snake,” said I. “What color?” she inquired. The snake had disappeared into the grass by now. “Yellow with black stripes,” I said. “Oh, no problem, they eat baby rattlesnakes” she explained. Not knowing if that made me feel any better, we slowly and for me agonizingly made our way back to the car without further mishap except for me almost stepping on an evil-looking thing that Naida said was an alligator lizard that she said grew much larger than the specimen I almost stepped on.
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Just after taking this photo, the snake appeared from beneath some fallen piece of bark at the foot of the tree.

 

 

(In case you wonder about my relationship with the natural environment, I am a city boy. As Neuwirth said, “We get nose bleeds if our feet are not touching cement.” We may love the wonders of nature but still prefer to sleep in our beds at night. We like the wonder better than the feeling of nature on our skin. That is why for some of us, our knowledge may be deficient but the wonder never dies. Sort of like, believing in God is a lot more pleasant than actually meeting the bearded old bastard.)

Back at the car, we drank copious amounts of water. Naida drove us back while I dozed and recovered. Back home we discovered the Fig Newtons were missing. We had not eaten any. We suspected the culprit was Boo-boo the Barking Dog, but we could find no evidence. (He is a very sloppy eater.) Perhaps if was the alligator lizard.

The next day, fully recovered from my adventure, I set off for SF for some CT scans. Traffic was so light, I was able to get back by early afternoon in time for lunch. After lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting and dozing on a chair in the back yard. I one point, Naida woke me from my reverie to inform me that she had just discovered a nest of black widow spiders in a cranny in the wall near where I had been resting.

That evening we watched every episode of Ricky Gervais’ network series After Life. It was great. One of the best things I have seen in a long long while. It was about a man with deep unrelieved depression and a group of extremely odd but often engaging characters with which he was involved. It resonated with me. It seemed to say a life of pathological depression is livable and amusing. See it you’ll like it.

Finally, this morning I awoke, the room was dark, Naida’s body was pressed against my back. “It must be early,” I thought. Boo-boo the Barking Dog had not yet barked his wake up bark. I turned over to give Naida a hug and as I did so I heard a low growl. It was the dog in my arms. I looked up at the clock it was almost noon and the shutters on the window were still closed.

Later the doctor called about the results of the CT scan he said the cancer in my neck has not grown but a nodule in my chest had thickened and he will be speaking with the surgeon about removing it.
That was how my day began today. I wonder how the rest of it will play out…

And, that was my past week or two of self-confinement. How was yours?

Take care.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Some Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement (continued).

 

 

Part III

INFORMATION, ENTROPY, AND THERMODYNAMICS
A central concept in Shannon’s information theory is something that he called entropy, which in this context is a measure of how statistical patterns in a source of messages affect the amount of information that the messages can convey. If certain patterns of bits are more likely than others, then their presence conveys less information, because the uncertainty is reduced by a smaller amount. In English, for example, the letter ‘E’ is much more common than the letter ‘Q’. So receiving an ‘E’ tells you less than receiving a ‘Q’. Given a choice between ‘E’ and ‘Q’, your best bet is that you’re going to receive an ‘E’. And you learn the most when your expectations are proved wrong. Shannon’s entropy smooths out these statistical biases and provides a ‘fair’ measure of information content.

In retrospect, it was a pity that he used the name ‘entropy’, because there is a longstanding concept in physics with the same name, normally interpreted as ‘disorder’. Its opposite, ‘order’, is usually identified with complexity.

The context here is the branch of physics known as thermodynamics, which is a specific simplified model of a gas. In thermodynamics, the molecules of a gas are modelled as ‘hard spheres’, tiny billiard balls. Occasionally balls collide, and when they do, they bounce off each other as if they are perfectly elastic. The Laws of Thermodynamics state that a large collection of such spheres will obey certain statistical regularities. In such a system, there are two forms of energy: mechanical energy and heat energy. The First Law states that the total energy of the system never changes. Heat energy can be transformed into mechanical energy, as it is in, say, a steam engine; conversely, mechanical energy can be transformed into heat. But the sum of the two is always the same. The Second Law states, in more precise terms (which we explain in a moment), that heat cannot be transferred from a cool body to a hotter one. And the Third Law states that there is a specific temperature below which the gas cannot go — ‘absolute zero’, which is around-273 degrees Celsius.

The most difficult — and the most interesting — of these laws is the Second. In more detail, it involves a quantity that is again called ‘entropy’, which is usually interpreted as ‘disorder’. If the gas in a room is concentrated in one corner, for instance, this is a more ordered (that is, less disordered!) state than one in which it is distributed uniformly throughout the room. So when the gas is uniformly distributed, its entropy is higher than when it is all in one corner. One formulation of the Second Law is that the amount of entropy in the universe always increases as time passes. Another way to say this is that the universe always becomes less ordered, or equivalently less complex, as time passes. According to this interpretation, the highly complex world of living creatures will inevitably become less complex, until the universe eventually runs out of steam and turns into a thin, lukewarm soup.

This property gives rise to one explanation for the ‘arrow of time’, the curious fact that it is easy to scramble an egg but impossible to unscramble one. Time flows in the direction of increasing entropy. So scrambling an egg makes the egg more disordered — that is, increases its entropy — which is in accordance with the Second Law. Unscrambling the egg makes it less disordered, and decreases energy, which conflicts with the Second Law. An egg is not a gas, mind you, but thermodynamics can be extended to solids and liquids, too.

At this point we encounter one of the big paradoxes of physics, a source of considerable confusion for a century or so. A different set of physical laws, Newton’s laws of motion, predicts that scrambling an egg and unscrambling it are equally plausible physical events. More precisely, if any dynamic behaviour that is consistent with Newton’s laws is run backwards in time, then the result is also consistent with Newton’s laws. In short, Newton’s laws are ‘time-reversible’.

However, a thermodynamic gas is really just a mechanical system built from lots of tiny spheres. In this model, heat energy is just a special type of mechanical energy, in which the spheres vibrate but do not move en masse. So we can compare Newton’s laws with the laws of thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics is simply a restatement of energy conservation in Newtonian mechanics, so the First Law does not contradict Newton’s laws. Neither does the Third Law: absolute zero is just the temperature at which the spheres cease vibrating. The amount of vibration can never be less than zero.

Unfortunately, the Second Law of Thermodynamics behaves very differently. It contradicts Newton’s laws. Specifically, it contradicts the property of time-reversibility. Our universe has a definite direction for its ‘arrow of time’, but a universe obeying Newton’s laws has two distinct arrows of time, one the opposite of the other. In our universe, scrambling eggs is easy and unscrambling them seems impossible.

Therefore, according to Newton’s laws, in a time-reversal of our universe, unscrambling eggs is easy but scrambling them is impossible. But Newton’s laws are the same in both universes, so they cannot prescribe a definite arrow of time.

Many suggestions have been made to resolve this discrepancy. The best mathematical one is that thermodynamics is an approximation, involving a ‘coarse-graining’ of the universe in which details on very fine scales are smeared out and ignored. In effect, the universe is divided into tiny boxes, each containing (say) several thousand gas molecules. The detailed motion inside such a box is ignored, and only the average state of its molecules is considered. It’s a bit like a picture on a computer screen. If you look at it from a distance, you can see cows and trees and all kinds of structure. But if you look sufficiently closely at a tree, all you see is one uniformly green square, or pixel. A real tree would still have detailed structure at this scale — leaves and twigs, say — but in the picture all this detail is smeared out into the same shade of green.

In this approximation, once ‘order’ has disappeared below the level of the coarse-graining, it can never come back. Once a pixel has been smeared, you can’t unsmear it. In the real universe, though, it sometimes can, because in the real universe the detailed motion inside the boxes is still going on, and a smeared-out average ignores that detail. So the model and the reality are different. Moreover, this modelling assumption treats forward and backward time asymmetrically. In forward time, once a molecule goes into a box, it can’t escape. In contrast, in a time-reversal of this model it can escape from a box but it can never get in if it wasn’t already inside that box to begin with.

This explanation makes it clear that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a genuine property of the universe, but merely a property of an approximate mathematical description. Whether the approximation is helpful or not thus depends on the context in which it is invoked, not on the content of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. And the approximation involved destroys any relation with Newton’s laws, which are inextricably linked to that fine detail.

Now, as we said, Shannon used the same word ‘entropy’ for his measure of the structure introduced by statistical patterns in an information source. He did so because the mathematical formula for Shannon’s entropy looks exactly the same as the formula for the thermodynamic concept. Except for a minus sign. So thermodynamic entropy looks like negative Shannon entropy: that is, thermodynamic entropy can be interpreted as ‘missing information’. Many papers and books have been written exploiting this relationship — attributing the arrow of time to a gradual loss of information from the universe, for instance. After all, when you replace all that fine detail inside a box by a smeared-out average, you lose information about the fine detail. And once it’s lost, you can’t get it back. Bingo: time flows in the direction of information-loss.

However, the proposed relationship here is bogus. Yes, the formulas look the same … but they apply in very different, unrelated, contexts. In Einstein’s famous formula relating mass and energy, the symbol c represents the speed of light. In Pythagoras’s Theorem, the same letter represents one side of a right triangle. The letters are the same, but nobody expects to get sensible conclusions by identifying one side of a right triangle with the speed of light. The alleged relationship between thermodynamic entropy and negative information isn’t quite that silly, of course. Not quite.

As we’ve said, science is not a fixed body of ‘facts’, and there are disagreements. The relation between Shannon’s entropy and thermodynamic entropy is one of them. Whether it is meaningful to view thermodynamic entropy as negative information has been a controversial issue for many years. The scientific disagreements rumble on, even today, and published, peer-reviewed papers by competent scientists flatly contradict each other.

What seems to have happened here is a confusion between a formal mathematical setting in which ‘laws’ of information and entropy can be stated, a series of physical intuitions about heuristic interpretations of those concepts, and a failure to understand the role of context. Much is made of the resemblance between the formulas for entropy in information theory and thermodynamics, but little attention is paid to the context in which those formulas apply. This habit has led to some very sloppy thinking about some important issues in physics.

One important difference is that in thermodynamics, entropy is a quantity associated with a state of the gas, whereas in information theory it is defined for an information source: a system that generates entire collections of states (‘messages’). Roughly speaking, a source is a phase space for successive bits of a message, and a message is a trajectory, a path, in that phase space. In contrast, a thermodynamic configuration of molecules is a point in phase space. A specific configuration of gas molecules has a thermodynamic entropy, but a specific message does not have a Shannon entropy. This fact alone should serve as a warning. And even in information theory, the information ‘in’ a message is not negative information-theoretic entropy. Indeed the entropy of the source remains unchanged, no matter how many messages it generates.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

 
The internet provides the opportunity to create a world-wide society or culture with its own stories, customs, and biases. The question is whether or not it will be any better than what we have now.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

Along the Navaho Trail
Every day, along about evening
When the sunlight’s beginning to pale
I ride through the slumbering shadows
Along the Navajo Trail

When it’s night and crickets are callin’
And coyotes are makin’ a wail
I dream by a smoldering fire
Along the Navajo Trail

I love to lie and listen to the music
When the wind is strummin’ a sagebrush guitar
When over yonder hill the moon is climbin’
It always finds me wishin’ on a star

Well what a ya know, it’s mornin’ already
There’s the dawnin’, so silver and pale
It’s time to climb into my saddle
And ride the Navajo Trail

I love to lie and listen to the music
When the wind is strummin’ a sagebrush guitar
When…
Sam Cooke

 

D. Pookie’s Musings: Something somewhat more that risqué but a smidgen less than pornographic.

 

 

While reading The Science of Discworld II with which you should all know by now I am somewhat obsessed, I came across the following sentence by the author in the midst of his attempt to explain quantum theory or evolution or something like that:

“The Hedgehog Song, a Discworld ditty in the general tradition of Eskimo Nell, first made its appearance in Wyrd Sisters with its haunting refrain ‘The hedgehog can never be buggered at all’.”

The reference to The Hedgehog Song apparently referred to the author’s contention that:

“Stories have power because we have minds, and we have minds because stories have power.”

 

Which makes sense in a quantum world.

Having been intrigued by the reference to “the general tradition of Eskimo Nell” and its possible importance to a possible unified theory of everything, I looked up Eskimo Nell in Wikipedia. There I found a poem, The Ballad of Eskimo Nell, the last stanza of which, if not a unified theory, nevertheless expressed the almost universal status of males of my age. I guess that is a unified theory of sorts

When a man grows old, and his balls grow cold,
And the tip of his prick turns blue,
And the hole in the middle refuses to piddle,
I’d say he was fucked, wouldn’t you?
The Ballad of Eskimo Nell

 

What was even more amazing to me was that two movies have been made about that apparently fascinating young woman.

 

 

 

E. Giants of History: Peter on the benefits of Sloth during times of crisis.

 

 

To my paragraph ending with, “I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness” Peter responded with:

I remember, many years ago when we were living in Boston, a friend moved up to northern Vermont to live. Never mind why. Anyway, we met a couple of his new friends; I recall one was living solitarily. He was very talkative; I imagined that living alone in semi-wilderness might engender an inclination to volubility when one infrequently is in contact with other humans.

As for me, the daily routine of arising, ablutions, dressing, breakfast — first big decision of the day: eat minimally or have more — reading the newspaper and e-news, and — ta-da! morning is half or mostly gone already. Barrie back from walking Ramsey, lately at MacClaren Park – mostly empty and beautiful. Today, though, I went out to pick up one of my various prescriptions at Walgreens. Wore a mask during the pick-up. Staff was fully garbed and covered. Stood the requisite six feet behind the person in front of me in line. Another periodic routine.

A vague memory of early 1972, playing tennis and sightseeing and learning the city and hanging out stoned after having moved to SF. Different times.

 

I wrote about breaking quarantine and gamboling in the Oak woodlands with Naida. That take ended with, “Following our visit we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.” Peter responded:

 

 

We, on the other hand, have transformed sloth into fine art. However, still, several big steps removed from solitary crypto-holiness meditation with endless recitations of the Diamond Sutra and slurping gruel. Although, this week, in a sudden paroxysm of activity, Barrie decided to clean up her office. She is now about 90% done; prodigious effort, but apparently very satisfying. My “office”, however, needs no such treatment. Anyway, it would interfere with my reading of the portion of Robert Caro’s tome about Lyndon Johnson about his election to the Senate in 1948. Talk about Texas!

Meanwhile, I got notified that our next periodic teleconference of the CMIB board (the CA Maritime Infrastructure Bank, of which I am a member — still!) is canceled for lack of a quorum, due to the virus disruptions. We’ll wait a couple of months +/-. Put the file back in the drawer…..

 
After describing another escapade of flight from incarceration I wrote, “We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.” Peter wrote:

We get to walk around the block; practically no one out except a dog walker or two, or some Latina pushing a baby carriage with some gringa’s kids inside.

Although, the New Neighborhood Thing!: two houses down live a couple who moved in a few years ago, relatively recently. Affluent. He’s on the phone all day. Turns out she owns a winery business. With this house arrest fiddle, she has now set up a children’s lemonade stand in front of their house, except it’s her wine selling table. $20/bottle, red, white, rose. Fairly decent stuff, in fact. 3-6pm daily, more on weekends. I’ve purchased a couple of bottles, and hung out and gossiped with her. Quite pleasant, and my kind of practically effortless productive activity. Proper distance, masks, wash hands, all medically kosher. The Ernest Winery. right here on 25th St. Careful not to make it a habit.

 

Having a had jaunty run through some amusing and risqué aphorisms of the ancient Sumerians that ended, “That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you to too,” Peter added:

Interestingly, you refer to the Sumerians. I was recently looking at various maps, which I enjoy, these were of ancient civilizations, in particular those of the Levant and the Middle East, including, of course, the Sumerians! There were entries about the “collapse of civilizations” around 5,000-3000 years ago. Perhaps you picked up on the very recent article in the Atlantic about the United States as a failed state. The author nailed it perfectly. It’s really horrifying, infuriating, and frightening. I can imagine what the Europeans are thinking and saying. The outlook for our children and grandchildren is grim. I don’t like to think about it.

 
At one point during my description of our trip to the Sandhill Crane refuge, I commented, “We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.” Peter interjected:

 

Sounds delightful, all this outdoorsy touring. It’s too built up where we are, even with very little traffic, but parking lots are all closed, and anyway, we are too slothful.

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Peter

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

1. The importance of “our group”. When times are hard, our group is primary. When times are disastrous, group loyalty disintegrates. When famine strikes, one will even eat one’s children. Nothing has changed. Perhaps, someday, they will really engineer human genetic make-up. Then the degrees of villainy will Really shine.
Peter Grenell

 

 

2. Hollywood is a potential gold mine for anthropologists because it’s the only culture in the world where educated and rich and powerful people have the mind-set and manners of Southern white trash.
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 95). Simon & Schuster.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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BOO-BOO the BARKING DOG and POOKIE spend a pleasant Sunday morning in bed.

Categories: April through June 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.   24 Joey 0009. (April 15,2020)

“Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.”
          Will Rogers (He made this comment about 90 years ago. Sometimes nothing changes)

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SELF-QUARANTINE:

Today is the fortieth day of our self-quarantine. It began like most of my days do now, quarantine or not, with my usual breakfast followed by sitting in the reclining chair to watch the mornings news. What differed now was the recognition that, more or less, it also would be what the rest of our day would be like. We are beginning to run out of novel ways to entertain ourselves. I suppose by now that has become common for most of us stuck waiting for this pandemic to end. I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness.

Having read the prior paragraph and checked back through previous posts, I noticed that I often begin these issues of T&T with either over-melodramatic tales of woe or irrational joy. Why not? After all, I am 80 years old and just woke up. Who the hell knows what I may feel like on any given morning.

Easter Sunday, same old, same old. Last night, I did not sleep well. My mind tossed about reviewing lengthy examples of what I would write here when I woke up. As expected, they are all gone now. Anyway, it is Easter.

For we Catholics (fallen away, apostate or believer), despite the vast number of feasts and holy days on the liturgical calendar, Christmas (Originally Saturnalia) and Easter ( Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan sex goddess) stand out as the most revered (Renewal and redemption — the renewal of the sun and the start of planting. Yes, redemption for what you did during the winter can be redeemed by a good spring plowing.) Although one would think all children would prefer Christmas and the presents they received, I liked Easter better. For me, Christmas always was filled with disappointment and family strife. Easter, on the other hand, required only dressing up in new clothes you probably did not like, suffering through an over-long mass (loved the music and the smell of incense though) and no-one cared what you did thereafter.

 

B. Naida, Pookie, and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog Break Quarantine.

 

Anyway, on Easter Sunday we broke confinement. We were pretty stir-crazed, so, instead of church, we decided to drive into the country — to the Cosumnes River near the ranch where Naida used to live — the history of which was included in her remarkable books, The California Gold Trilogy (bridgehousebooks@gmail.com). It took only about fifteen minutes to get to the turn off onto the unpaved portion of Latrobe Road. Naida told me it was the main road from the train station at Latrobe (a town that no longer exists) to Sacramento. Along the road, several buildings and structures from the middle of the 19th Century that she mentioned in her books still existed.

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Naida and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog standing in front of a typical Oak Woodland.

 

We expected the road to be empty but instead, there were a few motorbikes churning up dust and some cars with couples looking for someplace to park. The dirt road wound through a few enormous cattle ranches. Eventually, we also parked and got out of our car for a walk. The ranches have preserved the landscape as it more or less had been since the Native Americans roamed the area unmolested. The famous Oak Woodlands of California remain much as they did then. The grasslands, on which the woodlands stood, were cropped clean by the vast herds of Elk and other ruminants until they resembled manicured golf courses. They also do today trimmed by the grazing herds of cattle.

Almost everywhere along the road and in the meadows spring wildflowers bloomed — California poppies, dwarf and standard lupin, fiddle necks, and others.

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We then drove through another large ranch that contained the remnant of the Gold Rush town of Michigan Bar. The miners in that town during the Gold Rush slaughtered the Native-Americans that lived on Naida and Bill’s old ranch located about a mile downstream on the Cosumnes River. Naida recalls the event in her novel, River of Red Gold. The novel also tells of the miners from Michigan Bar fighting a water war with the local ranches and killing Jared Sheldon a leader of the ranchers who were attempted to dam the river downstream to irrigate crops at Naida’s ranch site.
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A View Across the Cosumnes River to the Remnant of the Old Gold Rush Town of Michigan Bar.

 

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The Old Hotel at Michigan Bar.

 

While driving through the town two odd things happened. The first occurred when we parked to photograph a remaining tiny log cottage in which the miners lived (those that did not live in a tent or sleep in the open). When later I looked at the photo, I saw this:
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I do not know what caused this but I love the result so I included it here.

The second strange event began while I was taking the above picture. Not too far from us, an old car was parked with what looked like one person sitting in the front seat enjoying the river view. The car appeared to be an old Hudson or Mercury, you know, all black with tiny windows resembling the Bat-mobile. Suddenly he jumped out of the car and walked off a few steps at stood there as we drove away.

We drove on to the edge of town and stopped to photograph some wildflowers exposing their passionate spring colors along the side of the road. Suddenly, I noticed the black car speeding down the road toward us. It passed, went up the road away, turned around, and stopped by our car. There was a young man and a young woman in the front seat. The young man rolled down his window and said, “Can you take our picture?”

Forgetting all about social distancing, I agreed. Then remembering and being embarrassed to now refuse, I grabbed some lens-wipes l had brought along to clean my glasses hoping they would somehow protect me. I got out of our car, took hold of his camera trying but failing to grasp it with the lens-wipes, and prepared to take their photograph.

The young man was skinny, with a bleached white complexion, scrawny brown beard and a few odd small blue poorly executed tattoos, The woman, who seemed annoyed about something, had a little more heft to her dark hair and brown skin. I guessed her to be a Latina or perhaps of Native American extraction. They insisted on being photographed sitting on the car bumper and showing the car behind them rather than the beautiful landscape all around.

After taking the photographs, I returned to the car convinced that I had broken all the rules of social distancing and that within the next two weeks I would surely die.

Following that bit of misadventure, we drove onto the massive 15,000 acre Van Vleck Ranch. The Van Vleck’s were friends of Naida and Bill. I was in state government when Gordon Van Vleck was Secretary of Resources. He was a pleasant man who tried to do the right thing in a Republican administration. Both Gordon and his older brother Stan had died while piloting his small plane over the ranch. Stan’s wife, Lynn, who inherited the ranch, shortly after his death had married a sheep rancher from Texas whose ranch was even larger than the Van Vleck’s. Naida wanted to visit them in order to see how her friend Lynn was doing because she had not been able to contact her for a while because she had misplaced her phone number. Lynn was at home and we, observing the proper social distancing protocols, had a delightful conversation.

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Naida and Lynn observe social distancing across the fence.
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The Van Vleck Ranch Center at dusk.
Following our visit, we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.

 

C. Back in the Enchanted Forest.

 

The next morning we woke up to discover that our portion of the subdivision was without water. We think that is because the HOC is installing a new water metering system. So, we spent the day just like we always do except today without water.

I think self-confinement is beginning to get to Naida. She has begun shouting at her smart-phone. It is not so much that she did not do it in the past. We all do now and then. I suspect that in the future will recognize a new health hazard — smart-phone fury syndrome. Anyway, it is now happening more often. Like my own rage at sitting here reading Facebook posts and watching endless news programs on why we are confined and our President’s whining about how it is not his fault. We could go for another ride somewhere. It will be good for both of us. Instead, we decided to spend today watching crime shows like “Forensic Files.” They did not improve our mood.

At about 5PM having grown tired of learning about the several gruesome ways of committing murder, noticing the sun was shining brightly and recognizing the meaning of the dog’s whining we decided to once again break containment and take a walk. This time we walked to the levee along the American River. The azaleas bloomed everywhere. There were a lot of people, mostly from nearby Sac State walking, running, bike riding, and generally enjoying this pleasant warm evening. We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.
IMG_8133_2
Azalea Madness in the Enchanted Forest.

 

D. OFF TO THE SANDHILL CRANE PRESERVE:

The following day we decided death by plague to be a superior method of meeting one’s maker than death by cable-news. So, we set off for the Sandhill Crane Reserve at some restored wetlands in the Delta near Gault. The sandhill cranes had long departed the wetlands and had returned to Canada for the summer. Nevertheless, I was eager to visit the restored wetland having a hand in promoting and developing early wetland restoration techniques over 40 years ago.

We took care this time to pack masks, food, drink, and rubber gloves. The wetland restoration was as well done as any I have seen and the wildlife surprisingly varied. We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.

IMG_E8141

IMG_E8145

IMG_E8143

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That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves. And, above all, remember to always keep on truckin…

th-1

 

 

 

DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:

 

 

A Few More 5000 Year Old Zany Aphorisms From Sumer.

The fox, having urinated into the sea, said: “The depths of the sea are my urine!”

For a donkey there is no stench. For a donkey there is no washing with soap.

For his pleasure he got married. On his thinking it over he got divorced

To serve beer with unwashed hands, to spit without trampling upon it, to sneeze without covering it with dust, to kiss with the tongue at midday without providing shade, are abominations to Utu.

He came, he stayed a while; he finished, he did not stay put.

All day long, oh penis, you ejaculate as if you have blood inside you, and then you hang like a damp reed.

To appreciate the earth is for the gods; I am merely covered in dust.

Bitterness afflicted the anus; but it entered by way of the mouth.

The dog gnawing on a bone says to his anus: “This is going to hurt you!

Not only were the ancient Sumerians the creators of Civilization but they also seem to be the originators of slapstick comedy. That sounds reasonable. A civilization without humor cannot be considered civilized. Or, as Groucho said, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” Or, even more appropriately, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you too.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement.

 

Part II

INFORMATION, A NUMBER — Biology and Physics.
Most people, scientists in particular, are happiest with a concept when they can put a number to it. Anything else, they feel, is too vague to be useful. ‘Information’ is a number, so that comfortable feeling of precision slips in without anyone noticing that it might be spurious.

Two sciences that have gone a long way down this slippery path are biology and physics. The discovery of the ‘linear’ molecular structure of DNA has given evolutionary biology a seductive metaphor for the complexity of organisms and how they evolve, namely: the genome of an organism represents the information that is required to construct it. The origin of this metaphor is Francis Crick and James Watson’s epic discovery that an organism’s DNA consists of ‘code words’ in the four molecular molecular ‘letters’ A C T G, which, you’ll recall, are the initials of the four possible ‘bases’. This description led to the inevitable metaphor that the genome contains information about the corresponding organism. Indeed, the genome is widely described as ‘containing the information needed to produce’ an organism.

The easy target here is the word ‘the’. There are innumerable reasons why a developing organism’s DNA does not determine the organism. These non-genomic influences on development are collectively known as ‘epigenetics’, and they range from subtle chemical tagging of DNA to the investment of parental care. The hard target is ‘information’. Certainly, the genome includes information in some sense: currently, an enormous international effort is being devoted to listing that information for the human genome, and also for other organisms such as rice, yeast, and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. But notice how easily we slip into cavalier attitudes, for here the word ‘information’ refers to the human mind as receiver, not to the developing organism. organism. The Human Genome Project informs us, not organisms.

This flawed metaphor leads to the equally flawed conclusion that the genome explains the complexity of an organism in terms of the amount of information in its DNA code.

Humans are complicated because they have a long genome that carries a lot of information; nematodes are less complicated because their genome is shorter. However, this seductive idea can’t be true. For example, the Shannon information content of the human genome is smaller by several orders of magnitude than the quantity of information needed to describe the wiring of the neurons in the human brain. How can we be more complex than the information that describes us? And some amoebas have much longer genomes than ours, which takes us down several pegs as well as casting even more doubt on DNA as information.

Underlying the widespread belief that DNA complexity explains organism complexity (even though it clearly doesn’t) are two assumptions, two scientific stories that we tell ourselves. The first story is DNA as Blueprint, in which the genome is represented not just as an important source of control and guidance over biological development, but as the information needed to determine an organism. The second is DNA as Message, the ‘Book of Life’ metaphor.

Both stories oversimplify a beautifully complex interactive system. DNA as Blueprint says that the genome is a molecular ‘map’ of an organism. DNA as Message says that an organism can pass that map to the next generation by ‘sending’ the appropriate information.

Both of these are wrong, although they’re quite good science fiction — or, at least, interestingly bad science fiction with good special effects.

If there is a ‘receiver’ for the DNA ‘message’ it is not the next generation of the organism, which does not even exist at the time the ‘message’ is being ‘sent,’ but the ribosome, which is the molecular machine that turns DNA sequences (in a protein-coding gene) into protein. The ribosome is an essential part of the coding system; it functions as an ‘adapter,’ changing the sequence information along the DNA into an amino acid sequence in proteins. Every cell contains many ribosomes: we say ‘the’ because they are all identical. The metaphor of DNA as information has become almost universal, yet virtually nobody has suggested that the ribosome must be a vast repository of information. The structure of the ribosome is now known in high detail, and there is no sign of obvious ‘information-bearing’ structure like that in DNA. The ribosome seems to be a fixed ‘machine’. So where has the information gone? Nowhere. That’s the wrong question.

The root of these misunderstandings lies in a lack of attention to context. Science is very strong on content, but it has a habit of ignoring ‘external’ constraints on the systems being studied. Context is an important but neglected feature of information. It is so easy to focus on the combinatorial clarity of the message and to ignore the messy, complicated processes carried out by the receiver when it decodes the message. Context is crucial to the interpretation of messages: to their meaning. In his book The User Illusion Tor Nørretranders introduced the term exformation to capture the role of the context, and Douglas Hofstadter made the same general point in Gödel, Escher, Bach. Observe how, in the next chapter, the otherwise incomprehensible message ‘THEOSTRY’ becomes obvious when context is taken into account.

Instead of thinking about a DNA ‘blueprint’ encoding an organism, it’s easier to think of a CD encoding music. Biological development is like a CD that contains instructions for building a new CD-player. You can’t ‘read’ those instructions without already having one. If meaning does not depend upon context, then the code on the CD should have an invariant meaning, one that is independent of the player. Does it, though?

Compare two extremes: a ‘standard’ player that maps the digital code on the CD to music in the manner intended by the design engineers, and a jukebox. With a normal jukebox, the only message that you send is some money and a button-push; yet in the context of the jukebox these are interpreted as a specific several minutes’ worth of music. In principle, any numerical code can ‘mean’ any piece of music you wish; it just depends on how the jukebox is set up, that is, on the exformation associated with the jukebox’s design. Now consider a jukebox that reacts to a CD not by playing the tune that’s encoded on it, as a series of bits, but by interpreting that code as a number, and then playing some other CD to which that number has been assigned. For instance, suppose that a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony starts, in digital form, with 11001. That’s the number 25 in binary. So the jukebox reads the CD as ‘25,’ and looks for CD number 25, which we’ll assume is a recording of Charlie Parker playing jazz.

On the other hand, elsewhere in the jukebox is CD number 973, which actually is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Then a CD of Beethoven’s Fifth can be ‘read’ in two totally different ways: as a ‘pointer’ to Charlie Parker, or as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony itself (triggered by whichever CDs start with 973 in binary). Two contexts, two interpretations, two meanings, two results. Whether something is a message depends upon context, too: sender and receiver must agree upon a protocol for turning meanings into symbols and back again. Without this protocol a semaphore is just a few bits of wood that flap about.

Tree branches are bits of wood that flap about, too, but no one ever tries to decode the message being transmitted by a tree. Tree rings — the growth rings that appear when you saw through the trunk, one ring per year — are a different matter. We have learned to ‘decode’ their ‘message,’ about climate in the year 1066 and the like. A thick ring indicates a good year with lots of growth on the tree, probably warm and wet; a thin ring indicates a poor year, probably cold and dry. But the sequence of tree rings only became a message, only conveyed information, when we figured out the rules that link climate to tree growth. The tree didn’t send its message to us.

In biological development the protocol that gives meaning to the DNA message is the laws of physics and chemistry. That is where the exformation resides. However, it is unlikely that exformation can be quantified.

An organism’s complexity is not determined by the number of bases in its DNA sequence, but by the complexity of the actions initiated by those bases within the context of biological development. That is, by the meaning of the DNA ‘message’ when it is received by a finely tuned, up-and-running biochemical machine. This is where we gain an edge over those amoebas. Starting with an embryo that develops little flaps, and making a baby with those exquisite little hands, involves a series of processes that produce skeleton, muscles, skin, and so on. Each stage depends on the current state of the others, and all of them depend on contextual physical, biological, chemical and cultural processes.
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I have come to accept that here on our earth there are no heroes only different degrees of villainy.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

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The poem below is an excerpt from a much longer one written by Renee Verona that I discovered while wandering through the internet. The poem appears to be based, in part, on Dante’s Paradisio. Verona, a self-published poet, has an internet site (https://rarityofparadise.com/). In it, he periodically publishes his poems and requests donations to enable him to continue his work.

It is not unusual for poets to try to find novel means of publishing their work. Whitman used to wander through the bars of NY (as did Blake in London) selling handwritten copies of his poems, and Shelly often stood on busy street corners and tossed bundles of his poems into the carriages of the noble and wealthy as they drove by.

What attracted me to Verona was, admittedly, less his poems than his audacity and some of the artwork that accompanies the poetry.

 

From “Obsidian and Alabaster.”

 

Through the reflection of my obsidian blade, I saw a jester drowning in the sorrows belonging to his hopeless witticism

Scarlet to cover the tulips that laid foolish, herald a cut-throat… forsaken in this storm praying for thunderbolts to alleviate me,

Sharp lighting to scream, and there, bury me within an unholy divinity as devilish is my creed,

Yet this clown that smirks comforts thee

Thine eyes have witnessed much suffering, men art, but demons chasing eternity, misguided by prophecy… and he dares to laugh

The reckless Montague a saint unto I… to empathize…to seize, realize a moment of freedom when all is cursed by hypocrisy

(…To despise… To visualize )

God favors the trickster, giving unto him a horrible truth that he bears with a grin ( a glimpse at how the world primarily sins)

Watch as they abandon themselves all for epicurean philosophies,

Drink a bit more the red wine, corrupt your soul a little more to hold a few pieces of sol …More the greed…this obsidian grow thirsty

Unsated…hungry… the blood moon calls, onward towards the twilight where hellhounds roam free, festering, and feasting

Fair Jester,

I will be an angel unto thee, unto you that bards hysterically… a sad epigram life has become ( everlasting is the hologram)

Forever is nevermore, soon we will have our reckoning…upon the sun we horde, shadows epithetical to the moon

The forgotten, the vigilant defacing the vox populi, simple mercenaries that seek only to bloom, the evening to forbore…

 

D. Giants of History: The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, World Traveler, ex-Pirate, and So On.

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It is always a pleasure to receive communication from my old and dear friend. He used to live in Thailand but I think he may have returned to his beloved Virgin Islands. Here are his two most recent messages.

 

1. Am now at Walmart…”titusville” “old people struggling..to get inside…going to buy wine.”

2. Jerry _____ ..he was staying with pat. About the time when marcelle got pregnant…..dot and I were living in the slave quarters…..
Jerry would leave leave everyday “cleaned up” ..by 9 or so to work ..at the end of the day ..he would be back and we would meet upstairs .for drinks with Candeed. …he…would always COMPLAIN he could not get paid ..he would half to chase people to get paid….every day the same working hard and having trouble getting paid …this went on for months ..
…Guess what his job was

HE was selling Coke at FAT CITY
…..Dot and I moving to FRENCHTOWN>

 

Life in the Caribbean must very exciting.

 

 

E. Useful Simile of the Week:

“…like some mad weaving machine or a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble.”

          Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The most important role of the tribal Make-a-Human kit is to provide the tribe with its own collective identity, making it possible for it to act as a unit. Tradition is good for such purposes; sense is optional. All religions are strong on tradition, but many are weak on sense, at least if you take their stories literally. Nevertheless, religion is absolutely central to most cultures’ Make-a-Human kit.”

“The growth of human civilization is a story of the assembly of ever-larger units, knitted together by some version of that Make-a-Human kit. At first, children were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the family group. Then they were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the tribe. (Believing apparently ridiculous things was a very effective test: the naïve outsider would all too readily betray a lack of belief, or would simply have no idea what the appropriate belief was. Is it permitted to pluck a chicken before dark on Wednesday? The tribe knew, the outsider did not, and since any reasonable person would guess ‘yes’, the tribal priesthood could go a long way by making the accepted answer ‘no’.) After that, the same kind of thing happened for the local baron’s serfs, for the village, the town, the city and the nation. We spread the net of True Human Beings.”
          Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Categories: April through June 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Joey 0009. (April 15, 2020)

 

“Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.”
          Will Rogers (He made this comment about 90 years ago. Sometimes nothing changes)

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SELF-QUARANTINE:

 
Today is the fortieth day of our self-quarantine. It began like most of my days do now, quarantine or not, with my usual breakfast and then sitting in the reclining chair to watch the mornings news. What differed today was my recognition that, more or less, it also would be what the rest of our day would be like. We are beginning to run out of novel ways to entertain ourselves. I suppose by now that has become common for most of us stuck waiting for this pandemic to end. I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness.

Having read the prior paragraph and checked back through previous posts, I noticed that I often begin these issues of T&T with either over-melodramatic tales of woe or irrational joy. Why not? After all, I 80 years old and just woke up. Who the hell knows what I may feel like on any given morning.

Easter Sunday, same old, same old. Last night, I did not sleep well. My mind tossed about reviewing lengthy examples of what I would write here when I woke up. As expected, they are all gone now. Anyway, it is Easter.

For we Catholics (fallen away, apostate or believer), despite the vast number of feasts and holy days on the liturgical calendar, Christmas (Originally Saturnalia) and Easter ( Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan sex goddess) stand out as the most revered (Renewal and redemption — the renewal of the sun and the start of planting. Yes, redemption for what you did during the winter can be satisfied by a good spring plowing.) Although one would think all children would prefer Christmas and the presents they received, I liked Easter better. For me, Christmas always was filled with disappointment and family strife. Easter, on the other hand, required only dressing up in the new clothes you probably did not like, suffering through an over-long mass (loved the music and the smell of incense though) and no-one cared what you did thereafter.

 

B. Naida, Pookie, and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog Break Quarantine.

 

Anyway, on Easter Sunday we broke confinement. We were pretty stir-crazed, so, instead of church, we decided to drive into the country — to the Cosumnes River near the ranch where Naida used to live — the history of which was included in her remarkable books, The California Gold Trilogy (bridgehousebooks@gmail.com). It took only about fifteen minutes to get to the turn-off onto the unpaved portion of Latrobe Road. Naida told me it was the main road from the train station at Latrobe (a town that no longer exists) to Sacramento in the mid-1900s. Along the road, several buildings and structures still existed from the middle of the 19th Century that she mentioned in her books.

We expected the road to be empty but instead, there were a few motorbikes churning up dust and some cars with couples looking for someplace to park. The dirt road wound through a few enormous cattle ranches. Eventually, we also parked and got out of our car for a walk. The ranches have preserved the landscape as it more or less had been since the Native Americans roamed the area unmolested. The famous Oak Woodlands of California remain much as they did then. The grasslands, on which the woodlands stood, were cropped clean by the vast herds of Elk and other ruminants and resembled manicured golf courses. They also do so today except now they are trimmed by the grazing herds of cattle.

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Naida and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog standing in front of a typical Oak Woodland.

 

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Almost everywhere along the road and in the meadows spring wildflowers bloomed — California poppies, dwarf and standard lupin, fiddle necks, and others.
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We then drove through another large ranch that contained the remnant of the Gold Rush town of Michigan Bar. The miners in that town during the Gold Rush slaughtered the Native-Americans that lived on Naida and Bill’s old ranch located about a mile downstream on the Cosumnes River. Naida recalls the event in her novel, River of Red Gold. The novel also tells of the miners from Michigan Bar fighting a water war with the local ranches and killing Jared Sheldon a leader of the ranchers who were attempted to dam the river downstream to irrigate crops at Naida’s ranch site.
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A View Across the Cosumnes River to the Remnant of the Old Gold Rush Town of Michigan Bar.

 

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The old hotel in Michigan Bar.

 

While driving through the town two odd things happened. The first occurred when we parked to photograph a remaining tiny log cottage in which the miners lived (those that did not live in a tent or sleep in the open). When later I looked at the photo, I saw this:

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I do not know what caused this but I love the result so I included it here.

The second strange event began while I was taking the above picture. Not too far from us, an old car was parked with what looked like one person sitting in the front seat enjoying the river view. The car appeared to be an old Hudson or Mercury, you know, all black with tiny windows resembling the Bat-mobile. Suddenly he jumped out of the car and walked off a few steps at stood there as we drove away.

We drove on to the edge of town and stopped to photograph some wildflowers exposing their passionate spring colors along the side of the road. Suddenly, I noticed the black car speeding down the road toward us. It passed, went up the road away, turned around, and stopped by our car. There was a young man and a young woman in the front seat. The young man rolled down his window and said, “Can you take our picture?”

Forgetting all about social distancing, I agreed. Then remembering and being embarrassed to now refuse, I grabbed some lens-wipes l had brought along to clean my glasses hoping they would somehow protect me. I got out of our car, took hold of his camera trying but failing to grasp it with the lens-wipes, and prepared to take their photograph.

The young man was skinny, with a bleached white complexion, scrawny brown beard and a few odd small blue poorly executed tattoos, The woman, who seemed annoyed about something, had a little more heft to her, dark hair, and brown skin. I guessed her to be a Latina or perhaps of Native American extraction. They insisted on being photographed sitting on the car bumper and showing the car behind then rather than the beautiful landscape all around.

After taking the photographs, I returned to the car convinced that I had broken all the rules of social distancing and that within the next two weeks I would surely die.

Following that bit of misadventure, we drove onto the massive 15,000 acres Van Vleck Ranch. The Van Vleck’s were friends of Naida and Bill. I was in state government when Gordon Van Vleck was Secretary of Resources. He was a pleasant man who tried to do the right thing in a Republican administration. Both Gordon and his older brother Stan had die Stan while piloting his small plane over the ranch. Stan’s wife, Lynn, who inherited the ranch, shortly after his death had married a sheep rancher from Texas whose ranch was even larger than the Van Vleck’s. Naida wanted to visit them in order to see how her friend Lynn was doing because she had not been able to contact her for a while because she had misplaced her phone number. Lynn was at home and we, observing the proper social distancing protocols, had a delightful conversation.
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Naida and Lynn observe social distancing across the fence.

 
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The Van Vleck Ranch Center at dusk.

 
Following our visit, we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.

 

C. Back in the Enchanted Forest.

 

The next morning we woke up to discover that our portion of the subdivision was without water. We think that is because the HOC is installing a new water metering system. So, we spent the day just like we always do except today without water.

I think self-confinement is beginning to get to Naida. She has begun shouting at her smart-phone. It is not so much that she did not do it in the past. We all do now and then. I suspect that in the future we will recognize a new health hazard — smart-phone fury syndrome. Anyway, it is now happening more often. Like my own rage at sitting here reading Facebook posts and watching endless news programs on why we are confined and our President’s whining about how it is not his fault. We could go for another ride somewhere. It will be good for both of us. Instead, we decided to spend today watching crime shows like “Forensic Files.” They did not improve our mood.

At about 5PM having grown tired of learning about the several gruesome ways of committing murder, noticing the sun was shining brightly, and recognizing the meaning of the dog’s whining we decided to once again break containment and take a walk. This time we walked to the levee along the American River. The azaleas bloomed everywhere. There were a lot of people, mostly from nearby Sac State walking, running, bike riding, and generally enjoying this pleasant warm evening. We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.
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Azalea Madness in the Enchanted Forest.

 

D. OFF TO THE SANDHILL CRANE PRESERVE:

 

 

The following day we decided death by plague to be a superior method of meeting one’s maker than death by cable-news. So, we set off for the Sandhill Crane Preserve at some restored wetlands in the Delta near Gault. The sandhill cranes had long departed the wetlands and had returned to Canada for the summer. Nevertheless, I was eager to visit the restored wetland having a hand in promoting and developing early wetland restoration techniques over 40 years ago.

We took care this time to pack masks, food, drink, and rubber gloves. The wetland restoration was as well done as any I have seen and the wildlife surprisingly varied. We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.
IMG_E8141

 

IMG_E8143

 

IMG_E8145

 
That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves. And, above all, remember to always keep on truckin…
th

 

 

 

 

DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:

 

 
A Few More 5000 Year Old Zany Aphorisms From Sumer.

The fox, having urinated into the sea, said: “The depths of the sea are my urine!”

For a donkey there is no stench. For a donkey there is no washing with soap.

For his pleasure he got married. On his thinking it over he got divSumerorced

To serve beer with unwashed hands, to spit without trampling upon it, to sneeze without covering it with dust, to kiss with the tongue at midday without providing shade, are abominations to Utu.

He came, he stayed a while; he finished, he did not stay put.

All-day long, oh penis, you ejaculate as if you have blood inside you, and then you hang like a damp reed.

To appreciate the earth is for the gods; I am merely covered in dust.

Bitterness afflicted the anus, but it entered by way of the mouth.

The dog gnawing on a bone says to his anus: “This is going to hurt you!”

 

 

Not only were the ancient Sumerians the creators of Civilization but they also seem to be the originators of slapstick comedy. That sounds reasonable. A civilization without humor cannot be considered civilized. Or, as Groucho said, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” Or, even more appropriately, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you too.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement.

 

Part II

 

INFORMATION, A NUMBER — Biology and Physics.
Most people, scientists in particular, are happiest with a concept when they can put a number to it. Anything else, they feel, is too vague to be useful. ‘Information’ is a number, so that comfortable feeling of precision slips in without anyone noticing that it might be spurious.

Two sciences that have gone a long way down this slippery path are biology and physics. The discovery of the ‘linear’ molecular structure of DNA has given evolutionary biology a seductive metaphor for the complexity of organisms and how they evolve, namely: the genome of an organism represents the information that is required to construct it. The origin of this metaphor is Francis Crick and James Watson’s epic discovery that an organism’s DNA consists of ‘code words’ in the four molecular molecular ‘letters’ A C T G, which, you’ll recall, are the initials of the four possible ‘bases’. This description led to the inevitable metaphor that the genome contains information about the corresponding organism. Indeed, the genome is widely described as ‘containing the information needed to produce’ an organism.

The easy target here is the word ‘the’. There are innumerable reasons why a developing organism’s DNA does not determine the organism. These non-genomic influences on development are collectively known as ‘epigenetics’, and they range from subtle chemical tagging of DNA to the investment of parental care. The hard target is ‘information’. Certainly, the genome includes information in some sense: currently an enormous international effort is being devoted to listing that information for the human genome, and also for other organisms such as rice, yeast, and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. But notice how easily we slip into cavalier attitudes, for here the word ‘information’ refers to the human mind as receiver, not to the developing organism. organism. The Human Genome Project informs us, not organisms.

This flawed metaphor leads to the equally flawed conclusion that the genome explains the complexity of an organism in terms of the amount of information in its DNA code.

Humans are complicated because they have a long genome that carries a lot of information; nematodes are less complicated because their genome is shorter. However, this seductive idea can’t be true. For example, the Shannon information content of the human genome is smaller by several orders of magnitude than the quantity of information needed to describe the wiring of the neurons in the human brain. How can we be more complex than the information that describes us? And some amoebas have much longer genomes than ours, which takes us down several pegs as well as casting even more doubt on DNA as information.

Underlying the widespread belief that DNA complexity explains organism complexity (even though it clearly doesn’t) are two assumptions, two scientific stories that we tell ourselves. The first story is DNA as Blueprint, in which the genome is represented not just as an important source of control and guidance over biological development, but as the information needed to determine an organism. The second is DNA as Message, the ‘Book of Life’ metaphor.

Both stories oversimplify a beautifully complex interactive system. DNA as Blueprint says that the genome is a molecular ‘map’ of an organism. DNA as Message says that an organism can pass that map to the next generation by ‘sending’ the appropriate information.

Both of these are wrong, although they’re quite good science fiction — or, at least, interestingly bad science fiction with good special effects.

If there is a ‘receiver’ for the DNA ‘message’ it is not the next generation of the organism, which does not even exist at the time the ‘message’ is being ‘sent,’ but the ribosome, which is the molecular machine that turns DNA sequences (in a protein-coding gene) into protein. The ribosome is an essential part of the coding system; it functions as an ‘adapter,’ changing the sequence information along the DNA into an amino acid sequence in proteins. Every cell contains many ribosomes: we say ‘the’ because they are all identical. The metaphor of DNA as information has become almost universal, yet virtually nobody has suggested that the ribosome must be a vast repository of information. The structure of the ribosome is now known in high detail, and there is no sign of obvious ‘information-bearing’ structure like that in DNA. The ribosome seems to be a fixed ‘machine’. So where has the information gone? Nowhere. That’s the wrong question.

The root of these misunderstandings lies in a lack of attention to context. Science is very strong on content, but it has a habit of ignoring ‘external’ constraints on the systems being studied. Context is an important but neglected feature of information. It is so easy to focus on the combinatorial clarity of the message and to ignore the messy, complicated processes carried out by the receiver when it decodes the message. Context is crucial to the interpretation of messages: to their meaning. In his book The User Illusion Tor Nørretranders introduced the term exformation to capture the role of the context, and Douglas Hofstadter made the same general point in Gödel, Escher, Bach. Observe how, in the next chapter, the otherwise incomprehensible message ‘THEOSTRY’ becomes obvious when context is taken into account.

Instead of thinking about a DNA ‘blueprint’ encoding an organism, it’s easier to think of a CD encoding music. Biological development is like a CD that contains instructions for building a new CD-player. You can’t ‘read’ those instructions without already having one. If meaning does not depend upon context, then the code on the CD should have an invariant meaning, one that is independent of the player. Does it, though?

Compare two extremes: a ‘standard’ player that maps the digital code on the CD to music in the manner intended by the design engineers, and a jukebox. With a normal jukebox, the only message that you send is some money and a button-push; yet in the context of the jukebox these are interpreted as a specific several minutes’ worth of music. In principle, any numerical code can ‘mean’ any piece of music you wish; it just depends on how the jukebox is set up, that is, on the exformation associated with the jukebox’s design. Now consider a jukebox that reacts to a CD not by playing the tune that’s encoded on it, as a series of bits, but by interpreting that code as a number, and then playing some other CD to which that number has been assigned. For instance, suppose that a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony starts, in digital form, with 11001. That’s the number 25 in binary. So the jukebox reads the CD as ‘25,’ and looks for CD number 25, which we’ll assume is a recording of Charlie Parker playing jazz.

On the other hand, elsewhere in the jukebox is CD number 973, which actually is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Then a CD of Beethoven’s Fifth can be ‘read’ in two totally different ways: as a ‘pointer’ to Charlie Parker, or as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony itself (triggered by whichever CDs start with 973 in binary). Two contexts, two interpretations, two meanings, two results. Whether something is a message depends upon context, too: sender and receiver must agree upon a protocol for turning meanings into symbols and back again. Without this protocol a semaphore is just a few bits of wood that flap about.

Tree branches are bits of wood that flap about, too, but no one ever tries to decode the message being transmitted by a tree. Tree rings — the growth rings that appear when you saw through the trunk, one ring per year — are a different matter. We have learned to ‘decode’ their ‘message,’ about climate in the year 1066 and the like. A thick ring indicates a good year with lots of growth on the tree, probably warm and wet; a thin ring indicates a poor year, probably cold and dry. But the sequence of tree rings only became a message, only conveyed information, when we figured out the rules that link climate to tree growth. The tree didn’t send its message to us.

In biological development the protocol that gives meaning to the DNA message is the laws of physics and chemistry. That is where the exformation resides. However, it is unlikely that exformation can be quantified.

An organism’s complexity is not determined by the number of bases in its DNA sequence, but by the complexity of the actions initiated by those bases within the context of biological development. That is, by the meaning of the DNA ‘message’ when it is received by a finely tuned, up-and-running biochemical machine. This is where we gain an edge over those amoebas. Starting with an embryo that develops little flaps, and making a baby with those exquisite little hands, involves a series of processes that produce skeleton, muscles, skin, and so on. Each stage depends on the current state of the others, and all of them depend on contextual physical, biological, chemical and cultural processes.
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

I have come to accept that here on our earth there are no heroes only different degrees of villainy.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:
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The poem below is an excerpt from a much longer one written by Renee Verona that I discovered while wandering through the internet. The poem appears to be based, in part, on Dante’s Paradisio. Verona, a self-published poet, has an internet site (https://rarityofparadise.com/). In it, he periodically publishes his poems and requests donations to enable him to continue his work.

It is not unusual for poets to try to find novel means of publishing their work. Whitman used to wander through the bars of NY (as did Blake in London) selling handwritten copies of his poems, and Shelly often stood on busy street corners and tossed bundles of his poems into the carriages of the noble and wealthy as they drove by.

What attracted me to Verona was, admittedly, less his poems than his audacity and some of the artwork that accompanies the poetry.

From “Obsidian and Alabaster.”

Through the reflection of my obsidian blade, I saw a jester drowning in the sorrows belonging to his hopeless witticism

Scarlet to cover the tulips that laid foolish, herald a cut-throat… forsaken in this storm praying for thunderbolts to alleviate me,

Sharp lighting to scream, and there, bury me within an unholy divinity as devilish is my creed,

Yet this clown that smirks comforts thee

Thine eyes have witnessed much suffering, men art, but demons chasing eternity, misguided by prophecy… and he dares to laugh

The reckless Montague a saint unto I… to empathize…to seize, realize a moment of freedom when all is cursed by hypocrisy

(…To despise… To visualize )

God favors the trickster, giving unto him a horrible truth that he bears with a grin ( a glimpse at how the world primarily sins)

Watch as they abandon themselves all for epicurean philosophies,

Drink a bit more the red wine, corrupt your soul a little more to hold a few pieces of sol …More the greed…this obsidian grow thirsty

Unsated…hungry… the blood moon calls, onward towards the twilight where hellhounds roam free, festering, and feasting

Fair Jester,

I will be an angel unto thee, unto you that bards hysterically… a sad epigram life has become ( everlasting is the hologram)

Forever is nevermore, soon we will have our reckoning…upon the sun we horde, shadows epithetical to the moon

The forgotten, the vigilant defacing the vox populi, simple mercenaries that seek only to bloom, the evening to forbore…

 

D. Giants of History: The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, World Traveler, ex-Pirate, and So On.
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It is always a pleasure to receive communication from my old and dear friend. He used to live in Thailand but I think he may have returned to his beloved Virgin Islands. Here are his two most recent messages

1. Am now at Walmart…”titusville” “old people struggling..to get inside…going to buy wine.”

2. Jerry _____ ..he was staying with pat. About the time when marcelle got pregnant…..dot and I were living in the slave quarters…..
Jerry would leave leave everyday “cleaned up” ..by 9 or so to work ..at the end of the day ..he would be back and we would meet upstairs .for drinks with Candeed. …he…would always COMPLAIN he could not get paid ..he would half to chase people to get paid….every day the same working hard and having trouble getting paid …this went on for months ..
…Guess what his job was

HE was selling Coke at FAT CITY
…..Dot and I moving to FRENCHTOWN>

Life in the Caribbean must very exciting.

 

E. Useful Simile of the Week:

 

“…like some mad weaving machine or a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble.”

Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“The most important role of the tribal Make-a-Human kit is to provide the tribe with its own collective identity, making it possible for it to act as a unit. Tradition is good for such purposes; sense is optional. All religions are strong on tradition, but many are weak on sense, at least if you take their stories literally. Nevertheless, religion is absolutely central to most cultures’ Make-a-Human kit.”

“The growth of human civilization is a story of the assembly of ever-larger units, knitted together by some version of that Make-a-Human kit. At first, children were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the family group. Then they were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the tribe. (Believing apparently ridiculous things was a very effective test: the naïve outsider would all too readily betray a lack of belief, or would simply have no idea what the appropriate belief was. Is it permitted to pluck a chicken before dark on Wednesday? The tribe knew, the outsider did not, and since any reasonable person would guess ‘yes’, the tribal priesthood could go a long way by making the accepted answer ‘no’.) After that, the same kind of thing happened for the local baron’s serfs, for the village, the town, the city and the nation. We spread the net of True Human Beings.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Joey 0009 (April 11, 2020)

 

“Trump is… a gang boss, born and bred. Brought up to screw civil society all ways up, not be part of it.”
          le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 222). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE PLAGUE:

 

 

I read somewhere that there is no reality only story — no matter, no energy, no universe, no love, no sorrow, no up or down — only stories. So, what is my story? This is especially pertinent now as I sit here during the great self-confinement of 2020. Who knows? Who cares? I only want to get back to a different story. One I used to know, with people I know. With goals other than simply waiting it all out. Does this make me a delusional bundle of narrative? You know, between you me and the storyteller? I don’t really care. I want out.

This morning I woke up earlier than I have for the past week or so. It was sunny outside following a couple of days of rain. That lifted my spirits. That and the fact that I had finally slept well after a few nights of disturbing dreams.

After screwing around on my smartphone a while (you know checking messages, reviewing the weather reports, sport stories, Facebook posts and a porn site or two) I got up, did significantly less than half of the exercises prescribed for by the physical therapist, I took my pills (Those that I have left) brushed my teeth, patted down my hair and dressed. I then set off downstairs for breakfast.

Naida, as usual, had arisen much earlier than I in response to Boo-boo the Barking Dogs barking. She went downstairs with him to let him out into our backyard to do his thing. I have come to believe this is more convenient and neighborly than putting the dog on a leash and taking him out to do his thing on the neighbor’s property.

After that, as usual, she, still in her housecoat, made her coffee and sat in her recliner to watch the morning news.

I strolled down the stairs slammed open the doors to the study where she was quietly sitting at peace enjoying her coffee with the dog on her lap and I belted out:

Hello my baby, hello my honey
Hello my ragtime gal
Send me a kiss by wire,
Baby, my heart’s on fire,

I do this routine at least four times a week (sometimes, but not often, I change the tune). I do not really know how this goes off with Naida. She always smiles and gives me a kiss when I bend my head down to receive one. Boo-boo the Barking Dog on the other hand generally scampers off her lap and hides under the desk. There are critics everywhere.

 

It rained for a day or two, I do not recall for how long. I have a vague recollection of writing in here about the minutia of our lives, but, if I had, it clearly has disappeared, most likely caused by the imps of the computer, those arbiters and critics of our life nowadays.

Anyway, today the seventh day of April the sun came out. The washing away of the pollen and civilizations grit (with an assist from social distancing) allowed nature to shamefully but happily expose itself with sparkling clarity. The tree on my back yard whose colors, the vibrancy of which, I rely upon to tell me that the glory of the day was worth experiencing gleamed in splendor.
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Frank called from Florida shortly after I had settled into my recliner with my usual breakfast of coffee and toasted English muffins slathered in butter and marmalade. He, like the rest of us, has settled into self-imprisonment comfortably having had the pleasure of experiencing its, joys, sorrows, and tedium in a far different circumstance a number of years ago. Like me and you and most of the world, he spends a lot of his time before the television viewing movies like a movie critic on steroids. He suggested I see “The Godfather of Harlem” a series of which about 10 episodes have been shown. It stars Forest Whitaker as the Godfather. He said it portrays many of the Italian Mafiosi I have met (Like Frank Costello) in actual historical events. He also recommended “Machine Gun Preacher,” a movie described as “The true story of Pennsylvanian [USA] biker Sam Childers, who overcame a life of drugs and violence to embrace Christianity and wage a 13-year war to free enslaved child in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, Africa.”

After exchanging stories of our current confinement, I hung up and looking out of the into at the splendor outside (a good name for a television movie), I suggested to Naida that we break out of our socially imposed confinement, leash up Boo-boo the Barking Dog, jump in the car and drive to Discovery Park. And we did.

Discovery Park lies on a low bluff at the confluence of the Sacramento and American River. The Native Americans called the area Mo’mol, (pronounced mok mal) The Big Drink.

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Someone Fishing at the Confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. (The clear waters American River coming from the right meets the muddy waters of the Sacramento. The buildings of downtown Sacramento loom in the distance.)

 

The Maidu group of Native-Americans inhabited the area of Sacramento around the Park prior to the arrival of the Spanish. According to Naida, this area in effect could be considered a Native-American town because of the number of villages supported by the enormous fecundity of the immediate area.

The park area itself during this period, according to Naida, was park-like, a meadow with huge trees of Black Walnut, Cottonwoods, Valley Oaks, and Sycamores growing around.

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Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog resting by the Massive Trunk of a Cottonwood.

 

Large trees still dot the landscape.
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The Native-Americans from the villages would often gather on the meadow for festivals and other get-togethers. Naida said that when the first Spanish explorers arrived at the confluence of the rivers and noticed its park-like visage and grazing elk one of them exclaimed that it was so beautiful it was like a sacrament of God. Hence the name Sacramento was born.IMG_8076

 

Today the park is a bit unkempt. Still, there were hikers, bicycle riders, and a few people just lounging around, all social distancing and enjoying the day. Many of Sacramento’s homeless were there also. They too were social distancing from one another and everyone else.

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That evening after returning home, I was exhausted and irritable. Trying to figure out what is going on after going through the usual, I suddenly remembered that I had run out of my happy pills several days ago. I had started taking them about 12 years or more ago because I was fed up with my inability to control myself when I was under stress or fatigued and convinced my psychoanalyst at the time that pills were quicker and less expensive than he was. Naida told me that Bill had been taking similar medicine to deal with some of the physical and psychological effects of his last months and she still had some. So I will be taking some tonight if we can find them.

The next day, I arranged for my original prescriptions to be filled. I was still feeling bad so Naida drove me to the Walgreens in El Dorado Hills to pick up those prescriptions and after that, we collected our groceries at the pickup spot at the Raley’s near our home.

On Thursday I drove into SF for my immunotherapy appointment. After parking, I put on my face mask. As I entered the Hospital everyone else was also wearing a mask and it was strangely quiet. After the treatment Drove to Peter’s house where Peter, Barrie, and I had a brief social distancing discussion through the car window. Then I drove home.

Friday was a day for naps.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

 

 

A. Gravity:

 

 

The gravitational attraction exerted by a single doctor at a distance of 6 inches is roughly twice that of Jupiter at its closest point to the Earth.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

B. Burning Wood:

 

 

Burning wood gains weight.
(This occurs because the oxygen added is heavier than the heat released. That is also why the bucket of ash the morning after feels so heavy as you take it out to the trash.)

 

 

C. Race, Racism, Thomas Jefferson, and Sally Hemmings:

 

 

“Race exists, of course, but its reality is not primarily biological. The reality of race is in the domain of the symbolic. Race is most real in the sense that, as is well-known, Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his black slave, Sally Hemings. Yet according to the only extant descriptions of her, Sally Hemings had light skin and long, straight dark hair. Why? Because only one of her four grandparents was African. She was a slave because of her symbolic ancestry, not because of her biological ancestry or her appearance.”
(http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/2019/12/i-coined-phrase-human-biodiversity.html)

 

 

D. Eternal Truths From Sumer.

 

 

Within a collection of proverbs written in ancient Sumer in about 2300 BCE, the following was discovered:

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband’s embrace.”

“To be sick is acceptable; to be pregnant is painful; but to be pregnant and sick is just too much.”

“In respect of both expenditures and capital goods, the anus is well supplied.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement. PART I

 

 

Introduction:

During this period of self-confinement as we begin to discover electronic entertainment remains inadequate to fill our thirst for distraction, I thought it may be interesting to some to learn of developments in modern science written in a simple, entertaining, and understandable way. To that I turn to the beloved Sir Terry Pratchett, the recently deceased O.B.E. and author of the many, many volume Discworld series who with his able coconspirators, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, produced a four-volume work entitled “The Science of Discworld” in which they attempt to explain and compare the science of Discworld (none only magic) and our earth, Roundworld, (no magic only science) and the universe in which it sits.

Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the bestselling Discworld series. He has been appointed OBE and a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to literature. Ian Stewart is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, and the author of numerous books on math and popular science, as well as science fiction novels coauthored with Jack Cohen. Jack Cohen is a professor of biology and honorary professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick.
The odd chapters of the four novels relate the adventures of the Wizards of the Unseen University located on Discworld in the center of that world’s largest, most dense, and least desirable place to live Ankh Morepark. They created the Roundworld universe which is contained within a small glass globe at Unseen University either in the offices of the Archchancellor of Unseen University Mustrum Ridcully, or in the subterranean offices next to or behind the boiler that provides heat and other things to the university occupied by the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography, Rincewind, or in the library presided over by the librarian. a 300-pound Orangutang named Ook because that was the only recognizable word he spoke. These Wizards and others periodically travel to their creation, Roundworld, attempting to right whatever they think has gone wrong and usually failing at it.

The even chapters, written for the most part by Stewart and Cohen, attempt to describe, quite successfully I believe, the mysterious science of Roundworld.

Although the four books explore a huge variety of things odd and mundane, this post entitled Part I contains excerpts only from chapter 18 of the second book in the Science of Discworld entitled, The Globe.

 

 

                                                    PART I.

 

Is information a concept, or a number? Is it meaning or message or is the medium the message?

 

 

INFORMATION IS A CONCEPT —

 

Information Technology.
Information is not a thing, but a concept. However, the human tendency to reify concepts into things has led many scientists to treat information as if it is genuinely real. And some physicists are starting to wonder whether the universe, too, might be made from information. How did this viewpoint come about, and how sensible is it?

Humanity acquired the ability to quantify information in 1948, when the mathematician-turned-engineer Claude Shannon found a way to define how much information is contained in a message — he preferred the term signal — sent from a transmitter to a receiver using some kind of code. By a signal, Shannon meant a series of binary digits (‘bits’, 0 and 1) of the kind that is ubiquitous in modern computers and communication devices… By a code, he meant a specific procedure that transforms an original signal into another one. The simplest code is the trivial ‘leave it alone’; more sophisticated codes can be used to detect or even correct transmission errors. In the engineering applications, codes are a central issue, but for our purposes here we can ignore them and assume the message is sent ‘in plain’.

Shannon’s information measure puts a number to the extent to which our uncertainty about the bits that make up a signal is reduced by what we receive. In the simplest case, where the message is a string of 0s and 1s and every choice is equally likely, the amount of information in a message is entirely straightforward: it is the total number of binary digits. Each digit that we receive reduces our uncertainty about that particular digit (is it 0 or 1?) to certainty (‘it’s a 1’, say) but tells us nothing about the others, so we have received one bit of information. Do this a thousand times and we have received a thousand bits of information. Easy. The point of view here is that of a communications engineer, and the unstated assumption is that we are interested in the bit-by-bit content of the signal, not in its meaning.

So the message 111111111111111 contains 15 bits of information, and so does the message 111001101101011. But Shannon’s concept of information is not the only possible one. More recently, Gregory Chaitin has pointed out that you can quantify the extent to which a signal contains patterns. The way to do this is to focus not on the size of the message, but on the size of a computer program, or algorithm, that can generate it. For instance, the first of the above messages can be created by the algorithm ‘every digit is a 1’. But there is no simple way to describe the second message, other than to write it down bit by bit. So these two messages have the same Shannon information content, but from Chaitin’s point of view the second contains far more ‘algorithmic information’ than the first.

Another way to say this is that Chaitin’s concept focuses on the extent to which the message is ‘compressible’. If a short program can generate a long message, then we can transmit the program instead of the message and save time and money. Such a program ‘compresses’ the message. When your computer takes a big graphics file — a photograph, say — and turns it into a much smaller file in JPEG format, it has used a standard algorithm to compress the information in the original file. This is possible because photographs contain numerous patterns: lots of repetitions of blue pixels for the sky, for instance. The more incompressible a signal is, the more information in Chaitin’s sense it contains. And the way to compress a signal is to describe the patterns that make it up. This implies that incompressible signals are random, have no pattern, yet contain the most information. In one way this is reasonable: when each successive bit is maximally unpredictable, you learn more from knowing what it is. If the signal reads 111111111111111 then there is no great surprise if the next bit turns out to be 1; but if the signal reads 111001101101011 (which we obtained by tossing a coin 15 times) then there is no obvious guess for the next bit.

Both measures of information are useful in the design of electronic technology. Shannon information governs the time it takes to transmit a signal somewhere else; Chaitin information tells you whether there’s a clever way to compress the signal first, and transmit something smaller. At least, it would do if you could calculate it, but one of the features of Chaitin’s theory is that it is impossible to calculate the amount of algorithmic information in a message — and he can prove it. The wizards would approve of this twist.

‘Information’ is therefore a useful concept, but it is curious that ‘To be or not to be’ contains the same Shannon information as, and less Chaitin information than, ‘xyQGRlfryu&d%sk0wc’. The reason for this disparity is that information is not the same thing as meaning. That’s fascinating. What really matters to people is the meaning of a message, not its bit-count, but mathematicians have been unable to quantify meaning. So far.

And that brings us back to stories, which are messages that convey meaning. The moral is that we should not confuse a story with ‘information’.
           Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

I have recently realized that I don’t leap to conclusions, I plunge headlong toward them.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

School of Truth

O fool, do something, so you won’t just stand there looking dumb.
If you are not traveling and on the road, how can you call yourself a guide?

In the School of Truth, one sits at the feet of the Master of Love.
So listen, son, so that one day you may be an old father, too!

All this eating and sleeping has made you ignorant and fat;
By denying yourself food and sleep, you may still have a chance.

Know this: If God should shine His lovelight on your heart,
I promise you’ll shine brighter than a dozen suns.

And I say: wash the tarnished copper of your life from your hands;
To be Love’s alchemist, you should be working with gold.

Don’t sit there thinking; go out and immerse yourself in God’s sea.
Having only one hair wet with water will not put knowledge in that head.

For those who see only God, their vision
Is pure, and not a doubt remains.

Even if our world is turned upside down and blown over by the wind,
If you are doubtless, you won’t lose a thing.

O Hafiz, if it is union with the Beloved that you seek,
Be the dust at the Wise One’s door, and speak!

HAFIZ. From: ‘Drunk On the Wind of the Beloved’ Translated by Thomas Rain Crowe

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“‘The Lords and Ladies,’ she said. ‘Who’re they?’ Nanny looked around. But, after all, this was a forge … It wasn’t just a place of iron, it was a place where iron died and was reborn. If you couldn’t speak the words here, you couldn’t speak ’em anywhere. Even so, she’d rather not. ‘You know,’ she said. ‘The Fair Folk. The Gentry. The Shining Ones. The Star People. You know.’‘What?’ Nanny put her hand on the anvil, just in case, and said the word. Jason’s frown very gently cleared, at about the same speed as a sunrise. ‘Them?’ he said. ‘But aren’t they nice and—’ ‘See?’ said Nanny. ‘I told you you’d get it wrong!’ You said: The Shining Ones. You said: The Fair Folk. And you spat, and touched iron. But generations later, you forgot about the spitting and the iron, and you forgot why you used those names for them, and you remembered only that they were beautiful … We’re stupid, and the memory plays tricks, and we remember the elves for their beauty and the way they move, and we forget what they were. We’re like mice saying, ‘Say what you like, cats have got real style.’

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder. Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels. Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies. Elves are glamorous. They project glamour. Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment. Elves are terrific. They beget terror. The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning. No-one ever said elves are nice.

Elves are bad.

          Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

80629191_10215651568511330_4741218224870260736_n

Categories: April through June 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joey 0009 — the twenty-eighth day of our confinement. (April 5, 2020)

 

“One thing about Republican presidents: They never went in much for plans. They only had one plan. It says, ‘Boys, my head is turned. Just get it while you can.'”
          Will Rogers

 
HAVE A HAPPY SOCIAL DISTANCING.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. AFTER TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF CONFINEMENT:

IMG_8046

Would you believe that six months ago I was bald?

 

 

B.POOKIE’S FURTHER ADVENTURES IN SOCIAL DISTANCE LAND:

 
Today is my 28th day in self-quarantine. It has begun to feel like years. I never thought that by becoming a recluse I would be seen as being socially conscious. On the other hand, in my case and a few others, I can think of that may be true.

This evening in keeping with the national social distancing policies during the coronavirus epidemic, Naida, Peter, Barrie, and I had a virtual dinner party. Naida and I were in our house in the Enchanted Forest here in Sacramento and Peter and Barrie were nestled in their home in Noe Valley in the Big Endive by the Bay. We were connected to each other by FaceTime. Naida and I enjoyed fettuccini arrabbiata with a side of raw cabbage and washed it all down with cran-raspberry juice. Peter and Barrie were dieting and refrained from dinner. We had a good time. We discussed these days of social distancing and the impact of the current plague on coffee and comfort.

I wonder when this epidemic is over if we will not find ourselves in a totally different world. People are discovering new ways to entertain themselves by devising different means of enjoying social interactions with others through the internet. And, what is more important, we are now beginning to find them enjoyable. Shopping has changed. Corporations may find that passing on the cost of real-estate to work at home employees is beneficial to their bottom line. I guess what I am saying is that we won’t go back to the way we lived before the plague nor how we worked. Whatever the trends and possibilities of the so-called connected society that may have been coming will be greatly accelerated by this damned plague.

On this same subject, while prowling through the internet, I came across the following in Daily Kos:

Here are some of the things that are going to fundamentally change.
A big return of Keynesian economics. Almost overnight, Republicans ditched their austerity mantra and quickly voted for a $2 trillion stimulus. There was no talk of “we need to balance the budget;” instead there was talk about keeping people whole.
A return to government expertise. Watching Dr. Fauci and other experts during this crisis has been very comforting because they tell the truth (which stands in stark contrast to Trump). Polls show that the public trusts them. Once this is over, expect the public to become a lot more comfortable with expertise.
A rise of teleworking: Modern technology allows people to work remotely. I’ve observed there’s a clear generational divide regarding this idea: old people dislike it, younger people are all over it. Once this is over, expect this idea to become part of the modern workforce
A huge rise in automation. One of the big problems with manufacturing in the current crisis is that large groups of people have to be in close proximity, which prevents social distancing. Expect factories to adopt automation at a faster pace to ramp-up production as this thing comes to an end. And this will lead to …
A future discussion and eventual adoption of Universal Basic Income: I’m behind in understanding the specifics of this concept, but I understand the basic idea, which is pure Keynesian in concept. Expect this to become a commonly expressed idea.
A complete rethinking of the US health care system. Watching this disaster unfold one thing has become very clear: the healthcare system has to change in a big way. I have no idea what it will look like. But it’s going to change. (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/29/1932324/-Accept-That-Everything-You-Understand-About-the-World-Will-Fundamentally-Change?utm_campaign=trending)

 

I am not so sure about some of these but clearly, times are changing.

This morning Naida awoke with severe pain in her right shoulder. She believes it is a return of something that occurred several years ago that was alleviated by a trip to a chiropractor. I am not so sure. Tonight we watched Fiddler on the Roof for the umpteenth time. Before that we saw Sterling Hayden in a great Noir feature whose name I forgot, and before that one with Cary Grant playing a doctor and before that…well, you get the picture. All the movies were very good, unlike some of those we see on other nights.

I usually work on my computer, read or eat during the movies. I, also, sometimes just sit there daydreaming — not so much fantasy or mulling over regrets but debating with myself about things like:

Is sufficiently advanced magic practically indistinguishable from technology? Or, can we hear the thoughts of thunderstorms or the conversations of dogs? And, for something to be true, does it have to be expressed in numbers? If so, does nature care whether humans can do sums? Also, if God were separate from the material universe, would then there be an entity greater than God, namely, the entire universe plus God? Even, which of the King’s sons win the hand of the fair princess? Perhaps, does feminism address the same questions as male-oriented models? Also, why is it the three Rs and not two Rs and an A? In addition, are homo sapiens not ‘wise men’ but apes that got what they wanted or were they simply apes who gave up trying? And finally, what really is ‘the magic word’?
(Note: Thanks to T. Pratchett’s The Science Of Discworld II, for much of the foregoing paragraph.)

I am getting sick of movies. Today they were all about baseball.

Today, a day or two after the baseball movies, I decided to move into the living room from the studio in order to get away from the tv while reading. I was immediately rewarded with a bit of a new and erotic interpretation of fairy tales like Cinderella. Most fairy tales, as that old lecher Freud pointed out some with a fairly racy interpretation and so does cinder girl’s glass slipper. It seems in the old German version of the tale, the young women of the kingdom gave the lusty young prince their “fur slipper” to try on for size. When the story arrived in France and was translated in that language ‘verre.’ Verre can be translated as either ‘glass’ or ‘fur’. The Grimm brothers went for the hygienic alternative, saving parents the danger of embarrassing explanations.

As long as I am going on about the real story behind the fairy tales of our youth, here is another one from the irrepressible Terry Pratchett.

Rumpelstiltskin was an interestingly sexual parable, too, a tale to program the idea that female masturbation leads to sterility. Remember the tale? The miller’s daughter, put in the barn to ‘spin straw into gold’, virginally sits on a little stick that becomes a little man … The dénouement has the little man, when his name is finally identified, jumping in to ‘plug’ the lady very intimately, and the assembled soldiers can’t pull him out. In the modern bowdlerized version, this survives vestigially as the little man pushing his foot through the floor and not being able to pull it out, a total non sequitur. So none of those concerned, king, miller or queen, can procreate (the stolen first child has been killed by the soldiers), and it all ends in tears. If you doubt this interpretation, enjoy the indirection: ‘What is his name? What is his name?’ recurs in the story. What is his name? What is a stilt with a rumpled skin? Whoops. The name has an equivalent derivation in many languages, too.
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I much prefer my fairy tales explained to me by Terry Pratchett than Joseph Campbell, don’t you?

Several days have gone by mostly sitting here in my recliner with the television rumbling on and Naida dozing off on the recliner next to me with the dog asleep on her lap. Sometimes I dip into Pratchett’s four volumes of The Science of Discworld and extract one phrase or another to paste in here for lack of anything else to write about.

Naida just woke up and told me that it is time to walk the dog. I used to think it was some obligation that life forced upon those with dogs in their house. Now I respond like the dog, excitedly running around the house tongue hanging out and looking for the leash.

Last night I thought, no believed, I had caught the dread coronavirus and was going to die before morning. A tickle in my throat, an upset stomach, a feeling of general malaise, and a few other things I no longer remember had me terrified. Naida said it was just a springtime allergy and gave me our last Loratadine pill. I was dubious and remained convinced of my imminent death. This morning I woke up feeling great. Later in the day, she discovered Loratadine pills she had purchased for the dog containing enough pills for all three of us to get through the next few weeks.

Today, whatever day this is, Naida scheduled a video conference call with her daughters, Sarah and Jennifer. She spent a few hours excitedly preparing for it — changing clothes, straightening her hair, reviewing the directions for operating the application. Boo-boo the Barking Dog slept and I happily banging away on the computer keys here recording the event. Thinking about it all, I could have been more up to date by recording everything on my smart-phone, but instead, I attempt to record it in words on paper— oops, on my screen. Damn, I wrote the word “paper” in the last sentence, and spellcheck changed it to “tape.” I give up, even the machines know what’s coming.

Alas, Naida’s conference call sadly was canceled in part because of technical difficulties.

Today I woke up at noon after a night of horrid dreams. It is raining outside and bit dreary but the tree at the back of the yard, at the height of its spring colors, cheers me up.

IMG_8048

 

That’s all. Keep on social distancing. Remember to say hello to yourself in the mirror every morning. You are always there for you.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

For every species, their main competition is members of the same species. They’re the ones that want exactly the same resources that the others of your species do. This goes for humans too. We compete with each other for resources. Collections of humans, whether tribes, states, empires, or whatever also compete for resources with other tribes, states, and empires.

This is the problem with human-caused climate change either local or global (we do have many examples of other species causing local climate change [recently at times with human assistance] and one or two examples of global climate change).

For this reason, global human-induced climate change cannot be dealt with unless humanity sees itself as one single society.

Even so, Malthus is correct in that without some means of controlling population or securing off-world resources ultimately we will destroy ourselves. Hope is the myrrh of disappointment.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 
This continues my posting of the entries in a diary I kept in 1963, 57 years ago. The diary and another one from 1964 for some unknown reason have accompanied me all these years through all my different life experiences. They are the only things that have, given my tendency to abandon or give away everything I have including wives every 10 years or so. The only other things that have remained with me consistently throughout the years are my children and a few dear friends. That is not too bad a deal I think.
May 18, 1963, Saturday.

I feel terrible about the exam. I must have done very poorly. I will do better on my next one.

President Kennedy has decided to visit the pope during his tour of Italy because, he says, of the Pope’s failing health. When John XXIII the world will lose a great man. Few men have done more for humanity and the human spirit in this quarter-century than Pope John. What makes his accomplishments more impressive is that he has done it all not through the use of power or dialectic but only through the greatness of and compassion in his soul.

(I cannot believe I used “myrrh” in a sentence. I was a little over-wrought about Pope John, but I was a practicing Catholic back then. I am a non-practicing Catholic. agnostic. or atheist now depending on the day you ask me.)

 

May 20, 1963, Monday.

It is raining today. It is on of those pleasant warm weather showers that I have always found enjoyable. It is like a dark curtain that drops over one separating him from the heat and dust of the day. It cleans the air as it cleans the mind.

We had a study session today in which we went over the previous contract exams. I found myself opposing every answer to the questions that were advanced by the other members of the practice group. Two of them left in disgust.

I hope I will do better on the next exam. I am sure I will.

 

May 22, 1963, Wednesday.

With every examination, I feel like I did poorly. I find myself faced with two choices, either I should drive myself harder so that I do better or should I allow the haunting question of whether what I am doing is worthwhile at all.

Perhaps deep analysis would solve the dilemma. Analysis in-depth, however, is not something accomplished in a single day. Sometimes it takes a whole life.

My social position is not one that lends itself to the dedication of one’s life to analyzing primary human problems even if those problems are our own. A choice of goals must be made but without some faith, it is probably impossible. Unfortunately in our society today that faith seems to have been driven from the hierarchy of human values.

(For the life of me, I do not know what I was talking about here. I clearly was having a bad day.)

 

May 23, 1963, Thursday.

Today, regretfully, I have not studied. Instead, I began reading a new book, Sea Venture. It is partly a historical tale based on the shipwreck of Ad. G. Sommers (?) on Bermuda Island. I wish I could read books with the cold analysis of a dispassionate reader. Instead, I always seem to find myself entering the story as a participant. The words disappear. I discover myself on the deck of that ill-fated vessel. With my modern prejudices and fears, I find myself deposited back in that exciting if cruel time. It is my hands running along the barmaid’s thighs as I prepare to rape her. It is my face feeling the spray of the water as we enter Portsmouth Harbor, my nose smells the stench of the ships hold, my stomach destroyed by years of bad diet and my heart longing for a new start in the New World.

Perhaps entertainment is better than self-improvement. It certainly is much more enjoyable.

(Maybe that is all I have ever wanted in my life — to sit and read. In that way I could live thousands of lives, travel everywhere even into worlds of fantasy, experience things I could never have experienced in my mundane life. I guess those more modern than I hooked into their smart-phones or computers experience even more that I did by reading. But alas, who brings the food. Perhaps that is the future, machines produce the food and delivered it to us sitting before our screens traveling through dreamland.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 
Today, I decided to drop into one of my favorite blog sites Logarithmic History (https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/). It is a blog that traces the history of the universe throughout the year beginning on January 1 with the Big Bang and ending on December 31 with today. The years progress, however, day by day on a logarithmic scale. The author explains:

“If you’re a bit hazy about logarithms, all you have to know is that each day of the year covers a shorter period in the history of the universe than the preceding day (5.46% shorter). January 1 begins with the Big Bang and covers a full 754 million years. January 2 covers the next 712 million years, and so on. Succeeding days cover shorter and shorter succeeding intervals in the history of the universe. At this rate, a given calendar date covers only a tenth as much time as a date 41 days earlier.”

“On this logarithmic scale, Earth is formed on January 20, trilobites arise toward the end of February, and dinosaurs meet their doom on April 6. The middle of the year finds Homo erectus giving way to early versions of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. October begins with King David and ends with Columbus. By December 7, we reach the year of the Beatles’ first LP (1963). December 31 covers just one year, 2017; calendar time and history-of-the-universe time finally coincide at midnight.”

 

Here is his entry for today March 28th, he discusses the rise of social insects.

“Certainly the statistics on social insects today are impressive.”

‘The twenty-thousand known species of eusocial insects, mostly ants, bees, wasps and termites, account for only 2 percent of the approximately one million known species of insects. Yet this tiny minority of species dominate the rest of the insects in their numbers, their weight, and their impact on the environment. As humans are to vertebrate animals, the eusocial insects are to the far vaster world of invertebrate animals. … In one Amazon site, two German researchers … found that ants and termites together compose almost two-thirds of the weight of all the insects. Eusocial bees and wasps added another tenth. Ants alone weighed four times more than all the terrestrial vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined.” E. O. Wilson pp 110-113”

“E. O. Wilson, world’s foremost authority on ants, and one of the founders of sociobiology, thinks that the origin of insect eusociality might have lessons for another major evolutionary transition, the origin of humans (and of human language, technology, culture, and complex social organization). In his book The Social Conquest of Earth he argues that a key step in both sets of transitions was the development of a valuable and defensible home — in the case of humans, a hearth site. Wilson returns to this argument in his book Genesis: The Deep Origin of Human Societies, just published, which I’ll get around to saying more about here eventually. On the same topic, Mark Moffett’s book The Human Swarm: How Human Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall, asks how it is that we somehow rival the social insects in our scale of organization.”

“One trait found in both ants and humans is large-scale warfare. Wilson gives an idea of the nature of ant warfare in fictional form in his novel Anthill. It’s an interesting experiment, but also disorienting. Because individual recognition is not important for ants, his story of the destruction of an ant colony reads like the Iliad with all the personal names taken out. But Homer’s heroes fought for “aphthiton kleos,” undying fame (and got some measure of it in Homer’s poem). The moral economy of reputation puts human cooperation in war and peace on a very different footing from insect eusociality. (Here’s my take on “ethnic group selection,” which depends on social enforcement, perhaps via reputation.)”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

 

People are not only people. They are people surrounded by things and circumstances. Human beings are their history. There is no such thing as an individual. We are each the sum of our history and the circumstances that enfold us.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

At a certain age
We wanted to confess our sins but there were no takers.
White clouds refused to accept them, and the wind
Was too busy visiting sea after sea.
We did not succeed in interesting the animals.
Dogs, disappointed, expected an order,
A cat, as always immoral, was falling asleep.
A person seemingly very close
Did not care to hear of things long past.
Conversations with friends over vodka or coffee
Ought not be prolonged beyond the first sign of boredom.
It would be humiliating to pay by the hour
A man with a diploma, just for listening.
Churches. Perhaps churches. But to confess there what?
That we used to see ourselves as handsome and noble
Yet later in our place an ugly toad
Half-opens its thick eyelid
And one sees clearly: “That’s me.”
     Czeslaw Milosz

 

D. Apologies, Regrets, Humiliations, and Comments:

 
Some comments on my previous post. I have omitted the names of the commenters because in the past some people objected to being identified.

1. This is an excellent and very funny blog. It cheered me up in the time of the Plague; or Corvid19. Or whatever this fucking thing is.

2. So, is it true that the Decameron is the product of the stories Boccaccio and his friends told each other while isolating themselves up on Bellosguardo hill while the plague raged below in Firenze?

Should we take some meaning from it? Or at least start looking for some equivalent enterprise?

3. Stay safe Al-Azeem!

4. In response to the entry that ends with “Naritivium essentially replaces magic in a universe without it”:

Sentence one takes me back to my days as a philosophy major. Epistemology- how do we know what we know? Etc. Are you sure phlogiston isn’t really real? And causality and David Hume: Prove it! — you can’t. But you can stick it in your desk drawer, as he did, and carry on. And of course, the Buddhists, for whom it’s all Maya and illusion, so go sit under a bodhi tree and seek apotheosis, OR: go wallow in social distancing and house arrest and hope your TV doesn’t conk out.

5. In response to “Speaking of ability, it has been said, or I have read it somewhere that most sane, rational human beings learn quite early on that you feel just as certain even when you’re wrong. For this reason, the strength of your belief is usually not a valid measure of its relation to reality”:

This, of course, is the root of much domestic strife and sitcom comedy. Imagine if everyone Didn’t do that. Probably if all were like that, it would describe the terminal boredom of heaven.

6. I have been thinking of you. Lots of time to think, as you mentioned. How are you planning to get your treatments in SF? It is even possible to get the treatments? Is it safe to go for them? I presume the overnight at Peter’s is not going to happen. I know that you will figure it out, because that is what you are good at, figuring hard things out. Better than most. You are also good at getting hard stuff done when you want to.

To which I responded, “I don’t know about getting hard things done. It is usually those who remain strong and give support that allows others to get the hard things done.”

7. Thank you for your email. Due to the Coronavirus, our office is closed until April 7, 2020.
8. This is a system-generated message to inform you that your email could not be delivered to one or more recipients.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Nowadays only cosmologists and particle physicists are allowed to invent new kinds of matter when they want to explain why their theories totally fail to match observed reality.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S MYSTERY:

cinema_volta

DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS?

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S ART ODYSSEY:

Zoe Lacchei 5

 

ZOE LACCHEI

Categories: April through June 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    1 Joey 0009. (March 26, 2020)

 

“Progress just means bad things happen faster.”
Abercrombie, Joe. A Little Hatred: 1 (The Age of Madness) (p. 152). Orbit.

 

I hope you all remain properly socially distant while enjoying, Palm Sunday, Passover, April Fool’s Day, Good Friday and Easter and those who don’t (except for medical personnel, pharmacists, farmers, grocers and the like) may you be forced to spend the next six months locked on the oval office with He Who Is Non Our President.

 

 

 
,

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING:

 
We have hunkered down at home in the Enchanted Forest to wait out the coronavirus emergency. This is not as difficult for us as for some since our lives have become quite sedentary as of late. Given the number of times we have received the same information about the epidemic on the media, we are almost saturated enough to return to watching TCM and old movies.

The mismanagement of the crisis by the federal government, unfortunately, probably will result in more deaths than would have occurred with even a little bit of competence. I suspect these deaths will pale in comparison to those that will happen as a result of the economic impacts from the mishandling of this crisis.

In the evening, at about dusk, we took the dog for a walk. We figured it was OK to leave the house since the only thing we would be touching would be dog poo and even then our hands would be protected by some plastic.

Recently, I have taken to replacing the forlorn turkey feathers that I find around the paths in the Enchanted Forest and place in the bands of my hats with fallen seasonal flowers that I locate the same way — currently camellias. At eighty years of age who cares how silly you look. It’s the pleasure that counts.
IMG_7974
Camellia Joe.

 
Speaking of fallen Camellias, Naida has taken to plucking up those in the yard that fall from the bushes and creating a centerpiece for our table.
IMG_7971
A Bowl of Camellias.

 

IMG_7884 - Version 2A Smiling Lady of the Camellias. 

 

As long as we are on the subject of Camellias or at least of flowers fallen or not, here is a photograph of Naida taken at a restaurant a few days ago before we decided on seclusion from the depredations of the coronavirus. She is in the midst of telling me one of her fascinating stories or pointing at some interesting birds or something else.
IMG_7961
Not a Camellia.

 
We briefly went out to shop for provisions to sustain us during our self-quarantine. When we arrived at the Safeway nearby, it seemed like everyone else had the same idea. While most things appeared well-stocked, toilet paper and hand wipes were all gone. While I understand the run on hand wipes, I fail to comprehend the toilet paper mania. After all, how many times does one shit during a 14 day period? Two or three rolls per person seem more than adequate to me. If someone needs much more than that, I think they should have seen a doctor long before now.

Of course, my hypochondria is in high gear. Every fifteen minutes or so, I become convinced I have caught the disease and am sure I am about to die. I must be driving Naida mad.

While sitting around in my recliner watching CNN ramble on endlessly about coronavirus, I played on the computer and looked up Pookie. I discovered there was someone in San Angelo Texas named Pookie who forced a woman into prostitution for drugs. I bet he doesn’t wear hats festooned with flowers. On second thought maybe he does.

Another day of self-quarantine. It is raining and dreary outside. Same same.

One day I spoke to Nikki by phone. He is quarantined on the top floor of an apartment building in Busto a small town near Malpensa airport a few miles from Milan. He is alone and spends most of his day doing what we all are doing, watching television finding busy work, talking on phones, and taking long naps. Sometimes, he goes out onto his balcony and sings along with others imprisoned in high-rises nearby. At other times he goes out on to the balcony and dances.

Nikki is a senior pilot for Al Italia. He is on call to fly his plane to pick up some of the 10,000 Italians stranded in foreign countries. He is scheduled to fly to South Africa to pick up some of them this week.

While I am bored and a little concerned during my isolation, I do have Naida with me and of course, the dog who barks a bit less now that fewer people and vehicles pass by the house. I also try to ruminate on the good things this junior plague may bring. We are forced to briefly halt whatever things we believed we had to do and now have time to consider its value to us. Everyone has the opportunity to do this at the same time. Almost the entirety of the people of the world is being forced to stop and take stock of what is really important in our lives. That could be a good thing.

For a brief moment in, we are also forced to halt our collective assault on our environment, giving that environment a brief respite from our onslaught upon it.

The saddest thing for me is my awareness that many of those who were led to believe it was all a hoax, just another common cold, still believe it.

Yesterday was my onomastica, my name day. I did not celebrate it. I would celebrate it if I could find somewhere that makes fresh Zeppole. Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day. We probably will not celebrate that either.

It is now 4:30 PM. I awoke at 11AM this morning and spent most of the day writing the above 10 or so lines. So it goes in these our days of confinement. I think it is about that time for Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog, and I to break away from our computers and sing and dance for a while.

Saint Patrick’s Day, we went for a walk along the river. On the way, we passed the dog park. It was empty. People seemed to be walking their dogs along the levee and keeping their distance. I have begun coughing. I do not know whether I am simply clearing my throat or if it is an artifact of my hypochondria or something else. The Hospital called and put off my immunotherapy appointment for three weeks.

Have you noticed, that recently the world seems full of omens? The good thing is you get to choose those you like.

You know we shouldn’t be so hard on the Donald for his constant lying. It may just be that he thinks the truth is so precious that it shouldn’t be waved around too much.

It is now a week or more into the local version of social distancing huddled in our houses while the coronavirus prowls outside. In addition, to boredom, it also gives one time to think and reflect — two very dangerous activities especially when one is 80 years old.

Try as we like, during our lives we still will have words we think we should have spoken left over in the end.

Everyone is good at something. Sometimes, alas, you don’t find out until too late. And, unfortunately, even if you do find out in time, it may very well be of no use or value to anyone even yourself. For example, you may be good at picking your nose and that may very well please you immensely, but it is hard to imagine that talent has any benefit to anyone. I do not know what I am good at, but there are times when picking my nose pleases me a lot. And while I take pains to hide my ability from view, I still take a bit of pride in it.

Speaking of ability, it has been said, or I have read it somewhere that most sane, rational human beings learn quite early on that you feel just as certain even when you’re wrong. For this reason, the strength of your belief is usually not a valid measure of its relation to reality. I believe a lot of things. For example, I often believe that whenever I get a sniffle or a slight headache, it means I will surely die before morning. Well, it hasn’t happened yet. But I haven’t given up hope. I also believe I am as knowledgeable and smart as the next guy or gal. I never really found that to be the case, but I still believe that to be true despite the amount of evidence to the contrary.

It is now Friday at about 1 PM. We are sitting here watching Belmondo in Breathless on TCM. Boo-boo the Barking Dog lies half asleep on the chair. I read an email from Peter. He writes, “Vaccine is 18 months off; meanwhile should be interesting. Universal voting by mail? The Hyatt Regency Hospital? Or is it the Homeless Repository? Will Batman close the Bat Cave and move to the Hyatt Regency Homeless Repository?”

To which I responded, “Speaking of Superman, do you have any idea where he changes into his tights now that there are no more phone booths.”

Peter replied, “Now, about Superman, that’s a great question! more great possibilities: A knock on the door, you open it in the Enchanted Forest, and there stands this mild-mannered, bespectacled, besuited fellow, who asks politely: “Excuse me, but may I enter so I can change clothes? There are a bank robbery and kidnapping happening down the street I need to attend to.” Alternatively, he could use the old red phone booth our sister-in-law (Barrie’s brother’s wife) Migiwa used in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in front of the Tasty Freeze that was one of her artistic creations. Of course, he’d have to transport this to Gotham City or wherever. I haven’t been present where he actually does his changes, so I have no idea.”

So that’s what Peter and I do during this era of social distancing. What do you do?

This evening Naida played the piano and I danced. She played a hot rendition of Malagueña. I strutted around the room clicking my heels on the new wood floors.

For the past two days, I have spent most of my time in bed overcome with fatigue. I do not know what caused it, the only other symptom was a thickening of mucus. Of course, I thought I was sure to die in a day or two. I didn’t. Today, however, I am up and about. Up and about for me means sitting in front of the television and watching the news about the pandemic.

It has been two weeks now of our confinement. Like others throughout the world, we are getting a bit of a taste of what imprisonment is all about. At least many of those actually in prison know when it is they will get out. Everyone, I guess, has their own way of coping. For me right now it is staring out into the back yard at one of our trees that has just begun to bloom.
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OMG! —— I never thought I would see myself use that acronym but I cannot conceive of a worse disaster during this time of plague. Our television has broken down. True we have another set but we cannot get it to work. We have tried and failed to find a repairman. Anyway, who would want to allow a potential carrier of the plague into the house? What to do? What to do? We need help quickly before we fall into entertaining ourselves, or God forgive, reading. When, if the future, they write the history of this time of the plague I am sure they will have a chapter on the horror experienced by those poor souls forced to rely on their own imagination. The horror.

I finally hooked up the other TV, but for some reason we only get TCM. It could be worse. We could have been stuck with Fox News or the Weather Channel.

It is a day or two later and we fixed the TV. That is not much of an improvement since all that is on is stories about Coronavirus and He Who Is Not My President talking about it or old black and white movies and Technicolor musicals. It could be worse. Someday in the future, if there is a future, children will ask their parents what they did during the great plague.

Of course, everything we talk about or write about is not really real. It is just energy screwing around doing its thing here in this infinitesimally small and remote portion of the Universe. What we write or tell each other about it is a narrative imperative — a story or Naritivium as Terry Pratchett calls it. We make it up and tell each other about it and feel good or bad about it as the Naritivium dictates. Naritivium essentially replaces magic in a universe without it.

“The curious thing about the human belief in narrativium is that once humans evolved on the planet, their beliefs started to be true. We have, in a way, created our own narrativium. It exists in our minds, and there it is a process, not a thing. On the level of the material universe, it’s just one more pattern of buzzing electrons. But on the level of what it feels like to be a mind, it operates just like narrativium. Not only that: it operates on the material world, not just the mental one: its effects are just like those of narrativium.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

In other words, in my case, and I suspect also with most of you out there, we just make shit up.

 

 

B. NAIDA, POOKIE, AND BOO-BOO THE BARKING DOG BREAK OUT OF CONFINEMENT.

 
One day while I was complaining about creeping cabin fever Naida, for no reason that I can identify, suddenly said, “We need to get a new key for the Mitsubishi.” We had either lost or misplaced the keys several weeks before. I had decided not to get them replaced until the current emergency ends. Despite this, and again for no reason, I immediately called the key-smith thinking he would tell me they were closed until the crisis ends. To my surprise, he said instead, “Someone will be right over. He’ll meet you at the car.” So we gathered up the dog and walked to where the car was parked and waited. The key-smith arrived. We had no way of knowing how many coronavirus carriers he had come into contact with. We passed over our information standing closer to each other than six feet. He then crawled all over the car setting about doing whatever key-smiths do leaving behind, I am sure, whatever bugs he was carrying around.

While watching him work another car pulled up. It was the dog walker and her daughter. They exited the car, came over to us, and stood well within the six-foot barrier. She was carrying two packages of Thomas’ English Muffins which she thrust into our hands saying, “I knew you were running out. I found a store that still has a few packages and bought them for you.” Out of a misplaced sense of politeness or gratitude, we could not refuse the offer even if it might be another potential plague vector. So, I held the tip of the plastic bag they come in between my fingers and thanked them for their consideration. They then returned to their car and left.

The key-smith handed me the new keys. I passed over my credit card and took it back. He drove off and we deciding, “In for a dime in for a dollar” got in the now, I was sure, thoroughly contaminated vehicle and drove around Sacramento for about an hour.

We returned home, put the keys in a drawer, placed the muffins on a shelf, and washed our hands. I then sat in my recliner and pondered mortality. After two weeks of stringent social distancing, I am now convinced that death is crawling through the Enchanted Forest headed to our door.

 

 

C. RETURN TO CONFINEMENT.

 
So following that adventure into stupidity, we returned to enjoy the pleasures of social distancing. Naida discovered a container of three-year-old Lysol wipes that were dried up. In the hope of rejuvenating them, she pored Clorox into the container and set about wiping down whatever she could find. I went back to watching CNN drone on about coronavirus. They broke off their symphony of woe to tune into He Who Is Not My President’s daily publicity sessions at which he bloviated on about how he was going to make our impending deaths especially meaningless.

At about six PM today Naida discovered the missing key. The one we felt so important that we broke containment to replace and risked death by the Trump virus. I assume either “It’s always something,” or “Tomorrow is another day” is appropriate here.

And with that, I think I have gone on enough in this post. So I think I will end it here.

Take care of yourselves. Don’t lose your car keys. Stay socially distant. Don’t take anything too seriously. And above all:

th

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Humanity/life = >7.65 MeV and/or 30 fundamental constants (+ or – )? I do not know what this means but some scientists believe it represents the basis of the existence of the biosphere and, in the case of the fundamental constants, existence itself, here there or perhaps anywhere. Other scientists, not so much. What do you think?

“An atheist is not someone who believes that God doesn’t exist. It is someone who doesn’t believe that God does exist. If you think those are the same, ponder this statement by the comedian Penn Jillette: ‘Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.’
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 324). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
“The writer and comedian Ricky Gervais made a similar point more pithily in 2010:
‘The dictionary definition of God is ‘a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe’. Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3,700 supernatural beings, of which 2,870 can be considered deities. So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say ‘Oh, which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra…?’ If they say, ‘Just God. I only believe in the one God,’ I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.’”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 322). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

Comedians and clowns, I believe, are the physicists of the soul

“We have been around for a few million years at most, perhaps only 200,000 if you restrict attention to ‘modern’ humans; the universe is about 13.5 billion years old. We occupy one world orbiting one of 200 billion stars in one galaxy, which itself is one of 200 billion galaxies. Isn’t it just a tiny bit arrogant to insist that the entire universe is merely a by-product of a process whose true purpose was to bring us into existence?
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 302). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

I do not know if I completely buy this last point. I mean, if you are so irrelevant in the scheme of things why would you even bother to get up in the morning?

 

.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
The Nobel Prize in Economics was established in 1966 by bankers who fund it and is not one of the prizes that Alfred Nobel established in his will in 1895. It is not technically a Nobel Prize.

 

B. Today’s Poem:

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A Double Standard
BY FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER

Do you blame me that I loved him?
If when standing all alone
I cried for bread a careless world
Pressed to my lips a stone.

Do you blame me that I loved him,
That my heart beat glad and free,
When he told me in the sweetest tones
He loved but only me?

Can you blame me that I did not see
Beneath his burning kiss
The serpent’s wiles, nor even hear
The deadly adder hiss?

Can you blame me that my heart grew cold
That the tempted, tempter turned;
When he was feted and caressed
And I was coldly spurned?

Would you blame him, when you draw from me
Your dainty robes aside,
If he with gilded baits should claim
Your fairest as his bride?

Would you blame the world if it should press
On him a civic crown;
And see me struggling in the depth
Then harshly press me down?

Crime has no sex and yet to-day
I wear the brand of shame;
Whilst he amid the gay and proud
Still bears an honored name.

Can you blame me if I’ve learned to think
Your hate of vice a sham,
When you so coldly crushed me down
And then excused the man?

Would you blame me if to-morrow
The coroner should say,
A wretched girl, outcast, forlorn,
Has thrown her life away?

Yes, blame me for my downward course,
But oh! remember well,
Within your homes, you press the hand
That led me down to hell.

I’m glad God’s ways are not our ways,
He does not see as man,
Within His love I know there’s room
For those whom others ban.

I think before His great white throne,
His throne of spotless light,
That whited sepulchers shall wear
The hue of endless night.

That I who fell, and he who sinned,
Shall reap as we have sown;
That each the burden of his loss
Must bear and bear alone.

No golden weights can turn the scale
Of justice in His sight;
And what is wrong in woman’s life
In man’s cannot be right.

 

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 – February 22, 1911) was an abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer, one of the first African American women to be published in the United States.

Born free in Baltimore, Maryland, she had a long and prolific career, publishing her first book of poetry at the age of 20. At 67, she published her novel Iola Leroy (1892), which was widely praised.

As a young woman in 1850, she taught sewing at Union Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, a school affiliated with the AME Church.[1] In 1851, alongside William Still, chairman of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, she helped refugee slaves make their way along the Underground Railroad on their way to Canada. In 1853 she began her career as a public speaker and political activist after joining the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Her collection Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854) became her biggest commercial success. Her short story “Two Offers” was published in the Anglo-African in 1859, making literary history as the first short story published by a black woman.

Harper founded, supported, and held high office in several national progressive organizations. In 1883 she became superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1894 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president. Harper died aged 85 on February 22, 1911, nine years before women gained the right to vote. (Wikipedia)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. But the smell! You know — that gasoline smell… the whole hill! Smelled like… victory. (Pause) Some day this war is going to end…”
Apocalypse Now. Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Kilgore.

 

 

OLD PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DAY:

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That is me asleep on the couch many years ago. Bobby, Ruth’s dog, is my partner in lethargy.

 

 

 

TODAY’S ART ODYSSEY:

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Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Cold Tits 0009. (March 11, 2020)

 

“Mutual expressions of love are seldom impressive to anyone not taking part in them.”
le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 218). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

 

Naida dropped me off at the train station Wednesday morning. I boarded the train to San Francisco to spend the night at Peter and Barrie’s house. Tomorrow I am scheduled, as I am every three weeks, to go to UCSF in Mission Bay for my immunotherapy treatment.

After arriving in downtown SF, I took MUNI to Noe Valley where I met Peter for coffee at Bernie’s. It was unusually warm for the City by the Bay, in the mid seventies, so we sat outside on the Geezers bench. We had a long and interesting conversation, nothing of which I remember.

Later, Jason, Hiromi and Amanda joined us at the house for another one of Barrie’s great dinners. It had been Amanda’s fifteenth birthday last week and I had bought her three designer silk scarves as a present. Anthony then arrived. We talked and ate and took photographs until they all left after which Peter and Barrie retired and I spent a few minutes on the computer before I also went to bed.
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Amanda trying on her new scarves.

 

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Jason, Pookie, Amanda and Peter.

 

 

The next day, Peter dropped me off at the hospital in Mission Bay where I was scheduled for my immunotherapy infusion. The treatment went off without a hitch. After, I boarded the train back to Sacramento and had a good night’s sleep.
IMG_7944Susuin Marsh from the train.

 

 

B. OFF TO THE GOLDEN HILLS FOR LUNCH WITH HRM.

 
The following day, I drove into the golden hills and picked up HRM at the skatepark after school. We drove into Folsom to have lunch at KFC/A&W. Hayden wanted to try the new fried chicken with donuts he had heard about somewhere. It seems odd to me that the youth of today follow the developments in the fast food industry with all the passion that people of another age (mine) followed the awarding of Michelin stars to restaurants. I had a hotdog and a rootbeer float and he ordered the fried chicken with glazed donuts

After lunch we drove to the nearby T-mobile store where they fixed my phone problems. I dropped H at Dicks house and returned home to the Enchanted Forest. Naida and I watched East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. They have not aged well.

 

 

C. HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN JIGITY JIG:

 
I spent Saturday avoiding things.  Specifically not doing anything about registering the Mitsubishi. I think if I procrastinate enough it will resolve itself.

While doodling around between watching The Graduate for the umpteenth time, following the results of the SC primary and surfing the internet, I came across an interesting site, Art Odyssey. It’s a site containing works of hundreds of interesting artists world wide. After spending an hour or two rummaging through the site, I decided to add a new section to T&T to be called unsurprisingly Art Odyssey (see below).

The next two days passed by like a whisper in a thunderstorm.

This evening Naida and I went to Zocalo’s for dinner. After dinner we walked a few stores down from the restaurant to shop for the week’s groceries. On the way there Naida suddenly became weak and faint. I suggested taking her to the emergency room but she refused. She insisted on sitting in the car to rest while I did the shopping. When I returned, she had the seat-back down and was barely conscious. She still refused my insistence that we go to the hospital. When we got home she was hardly able to stand up. I helped her out of the car and up the stairs and put her to bed. I now sit here typing this and being very worried about her.

At about 10:30 Naida returned downstairs to the studio apparently having weathered whatever ailed her and feeling much better. I am relieved.

Today is election day and for some reason I woke up on the positive side of deliriously happy. I felt like a character in those 1940-50 screwball comedies full of happiness without reason. Like despair, irrational joy is a form of short term mental illness. In my advance age, I have learned that if I just wait awhile feelings of either happiness and despair will pass to be replaced by the usual boredom and minor physical ailments that existence imposes on us. It could be worse. Imagine being inflicted with ceaseless giddiness or eternal gloominess.

Although I had already voted by mail, Naida had not, so along with Boo-boo the Barking Dog, we set off walking through the Enchanted Forest to the community center where the HOC had set up a polling station.

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Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I on our way to the voting place in the Enchanted Forest.

 
The weather was warm, and the trees in bloom. Naida voted, Boo-boo barked, and I shuffled along.
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The trees in bloom on the street where we live.

 
That night we watched the returns from the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. It seems that Biden has done surprisingly well and Sanders not so much. Warren, who was my choice, did not do well at all. Oh well, like after the recent Super Bowl, I will put myself to bed and sleep off my disappointment. After all, tomorrow is another day and with it another round of grief and joy to mitigate the barren stretches of life.

What happened during the rest of the week? Time passes too quickly for the aged and the decrepit to fully enjoy the leisure that society imposes on us. I commit to do more next week, meanwhile, I get back to TCM and pass the remainder of the day with the Academy Award films of the 1960s and 70s.

Saturday, the rains came in meager drops and mist. We attended the Saturday Morning Coffee as we usually do. Nothing to report there except that during the get together Frank called from Florida to let me know he expects to be in California in April. After the Coffee we took off with Boo-boo the Barking Dog and drove into the Golden Hills to bring Hayden his birthday presents. We arrived at the house and proceeded down into the teenager cave where Hayden, Jake, Kaleb and Ethan were assembled for their usual Saturday gathering of the gang. After opening the birthday presents we brought him, we all piled into the car and drove to McDonald’s for lunch. Following lunch, we dropped the boys off at Kaleb’s home and returned home. That evening we watched among other movies an excellent noir mystery called The Pink Pony staring Robert Montgomery followed by a Miss Marple movie entitled Murder She Said.

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A photograph of the early spring flowers in our backyard with the dog pooping on the lawn.

 
Sunday passed with little to say for itself. Monday arrived.  Naida and I set off for the DMV in order to finally register the Mitsubishi. After four hours, we were successful and went on to the Tower Restaurant to celebrate. Later, after returning home, we walked with Boo-boo the Barking Dog to where the Mitsubishi was parked, placed the sticker on the license plate and went for a celebratory drive through the Enchanted Forest. Now that the car is legal, Naida would like to sell it. So, if you or someone you know wants to buy a 1991 Mitsubishi sport car please let us know.
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Late last night, somewhere in the Enchanted Forest, two 80 years olds stark naked and in love danced.

The Azaleas in front of our home are blooming now. The time of the Camellias is passing. So has the time of this post. It seems to be going on far too long.

Take care.

 

 

 

D. BOOK REPORT: TERRY PRATCHETT.

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Terry Pratchett.

 
For those who have never read anything written by Terry Pratchett the creator of Discworld, I feel very sorry for you, for you have missed one of life and literature’s great joys. For those who had read all or most of Pratchett’s works, “Crivens” you are among the elect and qualified for admission into the Unseen University if you are a man or into Granny Wetherwax’s kitchen if you are a woman.

Pratchett is your guide to Discworld through the 41 novels in the series (almost all of which I have read).
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Discworld.

 

I won’t bore you with a summary of the Discworld oeuvre. The above graphics will have to do. I have, however, these past two weeks or so, read Darwin’s Crown, Judgment Day, and The Shepards Crown. The first two are the final books in The Science of Discworld series Pratchett co-authored with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, two practicing scientists. The Science of Discworld is a creative, mind-bending mash-up of fiction and fact, that offers a wizard’s-eye view of our world that will forever change how you look at the universe. The chapters alternate between the story that takes place both on Discworld and our earth and non-fiction science topics.

In the course of an exciting experiment, the wizards of Discworld have accidentally created a new universe. Within this universe is a planet that they name Roundworld. Roundworld is, of course, Earth, and the universe is our own. The universe is kept in a jar on the desk of the Chancellor of The Unseen University, the esteemed wizard Mustrum Ridcully.

One of the themes of the novels centers on the concept that most scientific explanations are in reality a good deal more complicated than most of us realize (It is explained that this is so because teachers of science use the Lies-To-Children method of science education or, in Ponder Stibbons’ case [the most rational of the wizards], Lies-To-Wizards) hence the alternating science chapters. These enlightening chapters are delightful essays that clearly explain various science topics. Among them are:

Squash Court Science: Nuclear energy.
Science and Magic: What is science and how it works.
Beginnings and Becomings: The origin and nature of the Universe.
We are Stardust: Atoms. The periodic table.
The Shape of Things: The shape of the Universe; the Theory of Relativity.
Where do Rules Come From?: Is a “Theory of Everything” possible?; Quantum Mechanics.
Disc Words. The Solar System.
Earth and Fire. Geology: the structure of planet Earth.
Air and Water. The atmosphere, the oceans, the surface of the planet.
Things that aren’t: things that are defined by being opposites, normally with only one of them being measurable and not both (light, heat, etc.).
Despite which…: The origin of life.
Unnatural Selection: Evolution.
The Descent of Darwin: Evolution.
The Iceberg Cometh: Ice Ages.
Universals and Parochials: Evolution.
Don’t Look Up: Meteors and other things that might cause another global extinction.
Nine Times out of Ten: Statistics and biases.
Running from Dinosaurs: dinosaurs.
The Death of Dinosaurs.
Mammals on the Make: the expansion of mammals.
Anthill Inside: The origin of hominids.
Extel Outside: Culture.

 

What I found amazing about it all is that these novels contain some of the most easily understandable explanations of the sciences I have ever read — even quantum theory was intelligible — almost. Everyone should read these books.

The third book, The Shepherd’s Crown, features the young witch Tiffany Aching who, upon the death of Granny Weatherwax, becomes the head witch and must repel the invasion of Discworld by evil elves intent on inflicting mischief and mayhem. She is aided by the Feegles, a race of seven inch tall extremely warlike men and women. This was Pratchett’s last book and published four years after his death.

Some quotes from the books:

Shouting at the monkeys in the next tree. That’s what brains evolved to do. Not mathematics and physics.
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 223). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

When he was Vice-Chancellor at Warwick University, the biologist Sir Brian Follett remarked: ‘I don’t like scientists on my committees. You don’t know where they’ll stand on any issue. Give them some more data, and they change their minds!’ He understood the joke: most politicians wouldn’t even realize it was a joke.
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 299). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

“So what have we learned? That the shape of our universe is intimately related to the laws of nature, and its study sheds some light – and a lot more darkness – on possible ways to unify relativity and quantum theory. Mathematical models like Torusland and the Escherverse have opened up new possibilities by showing that some common assumptions are wrong. But despite all of these fascinating developments, we don’t know what shape our universe is. We don’t know whether it is finite or infinite. We don’t even know for sure what dimension it is, or even whether its dimension can be pinned down uniquely.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 228). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

“The past was another country, but the future is an alien world.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 325). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

“Belief is a very odd word, and it is used in several ways. ‘Belief that’ differs greatly from ‘belief in’, which is again different from ‘belief about’. Our belief about science, for example, is that it’s simply our best defence against believing (in) what we want to. But we may also have, to some extent, a belief in science, as distinct from belief in a religion or a cult: we believe that science can find ways out of humankind’s present difficulties, ways that are not available to politics, philosophy or religion.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 252). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

The appearance of design is the most dramatic element in both systems (Technological design and organic evolution). Although its provenance is different in the two cases , we are no longer surprised by it. We have realized that the universe is not doomed by increasing entropy to an eventual ‘heat death’, a traditional but somewhat misleading term which actually means that the universe will end up as a structureless lukewarm soup. Instead, the universe ‘makes it up as it goes along’, and what it makes up are designs. In that sense, at least, the appearance of new design in both technical and organic systems can be considered comparable. But it’s important not to stretch the metaphor too far.
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 188). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

“Until fairly recently, almost all people were religious believers. The majority still are, but the proportions depend on culture in a dramatic way. In the United Kingdom, about 40% say they have no religion, 30% align themselves with one but do not consider themselves in any way religious, and only 30% say they have significant religious beliefs. An even smaller proportion attends some kind of place of worship regularly. In the United States, over 80% identify with a specific religious denomination, 40% say they attend services weekly, and 58% say that they pray most weeks. It’s an intriguing difference between cultures that have such a lot in common.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (pp. 256-257). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Vito Marcantonio on Top:

 

“If it be radicalism to believe that our natural resources should be used for the benefit of all of the American people and not for the purpose of enriching just a few…then, Ladies and Gentlemen of this House I accept the charge. I plead guilty to the charge; I am a radical and I am willing to fight it out…until hell freezes over.”
Vito Marcantonio

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
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The young Trenz Pruca.

 

We all are simply organized bits of data, not humans, not flesh and blood, not atoms and not even Einstein’s waves. We are merely structured concepts. Someday, we will be replaced by other structured concepts better able to use the energy of the universe in order to more efficiently delay the forces of entropy. Life, after all, is simply the forlorn and ultimately unsuccessful effort by a few bits of the universe to avoid the boredom of eternal tranquility.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

The history of my stupidity

The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
Would have tended nevertheless toward the candle’s flame.

Others would deal with ways to silence anxiety,
The little whisper which, though it is a warning, is ignored.

I would deal separately with satisfaction and pride,
The time when I was among their adherents
Who strut victoriously, unsuspecting.

But all of them would have one subject, desire,
If only my own — but no, not at all; alas,
I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.

The history of my stupidity will not be written.
For one thing, it’s late. And the truth is laborious.
     Czeslaw Milosz, Berkeley, 1980.
Trans. Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky

 

E. Giants of History: Burma Richard.

 
My friend Burma Richard, gemologist, ethologist, restraunteur, artist and all around good guy recently sent me the following message:

“I hope your health is sterling and life superb.
I was fishing through some shots the other day and came across these of a lovely young girl from The North Country. 🇰🇵 North Korea specifically.
There used to be several North Korean Restaurants in Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and China staffed by fetching young girls who were part of the elite and trained in schools of the arts since childhood. They were selected like lovely chocolates.
The food was just ok but all the girls worked their talents as waitresses, songstresses and dancing musicians between serving dishes.
Accordions and tubas, flutes and mandolins, and warbly romantic songs.
Most all of the money went back to Kim Jung Un, but they seemed to be reasonably well compensated.
However they were not allowed to stroll around their prospective cities and stayed together upstairs in their establishments under a strict watch.
A few years ago a dozen of these lasses were either tricked and spirited way to South Korea or defected depending on whose propaganda one believes.
That along with U.S sanctions shut all the establishments down. All of them.
There were signs posted throughout the restaurants “No Photos” and they meant it.
We had eaten in the Rangoon branch several times and I told her, as she had asked my nationality, that I was an American. Perhaps because she began to realize I was not a white demon seeking to indoctrinate her into the evil ways of capitalism or to boil her baby sister for stew, she relented at my persistence finally and allowed me these very rare photographs.”

IMG_1996

 

 

D. Comments:

 
Ruth Lansford, commenting on the memory problems affecting my ability to recall my brilliant thoughts and ideas for items to write about here in T&T, suggested I carry a pencil and note pad and write down those brilliant thoughts and bon mots as they occur to me. Encouraged by her advice, I asked Haden to instruct me on how to use the voice activated note taking ability on my smart phone. He did and now, as I drive along and am struck by some ingenious notions, I immediately record them on my phone so that later, at my leisure, I can play them back and hear how truly stupid and inane those attempted flights into brilliance really are. Thank you Ruth….

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

 

“Lungfishes and some salamanders, even some amoebas, have more than fifty times as much DNA as we mammals do. What does this say about how complex these creatures are, compared to us? Absolutely nothing. Tricks like HSP90, and strategies like warm-bloodedness and keeping development inside the mother, mean that bean-counting of DNA ‘information’ is beside the point. What counts is what the DNA means, not how big it is. And meaning depends on context, as well as content: you can’t regulate the temperature of a uterus unless your context (that is, mother) provides one.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 270). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S ART ODYSSEY:

Alfonso Arana (9)

Alfonso Arana (1927-2005)

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Cold Tits 0009. (February 26, 2020)

 

“[I]f folk memory extends to sub-sub-sub-sub-atomic particle level,… it was indeed all done by somebody with a beard.”
          Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 1). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. .

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

 

Well, with the reality show that was the SOTU, the tragic comedy of the Senate Republican’s acquittal of He Who is Not My President and the unending melodrama of the Iowa caucus behind me, I decided I had enough entertainment overload for a while and set off to the Big Endive by the Bay and the peace of my immunotherapy infusion.

We travelled by train and arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in late afternoon. We spent a delightful evening together. Barrie cooked her usual wonderful meal after which we spent hours telling stories. Most of the stories that evening were about travel — Peter and Barrie’s time in India and my experiences in Israel. I told about the wonders of the old city of Jerusalem, of my friendship with the Bethlehem muslim antiquities dealer who had purchased the original Dead Sea Scrolls from the Arab tribesmen that discovered them. I also spoke about the mysteries of Masada, Qumran and the Negev. We also swapped tales of Paris (We’ll always have Paris) with a side trip to Bordeaux, and Rome ( The Eternal City) and its environs.

The next day Peter drove Naida and I to UCSF for my immunotherapy infusion. After the appointment, we went to the Mission Rock Cafe for lunch. Mission Rock, located on the shore of the Bay a few blocks from the hospital at Mission Bay, was a favorite dive during Counter Culture times. It has now been converted to a somewhat upscale restaurant. After a reasonably good meal, we left and returned by train to the Enchanted Forest.

IMG_7881

Naida at Mission Rock Resort Pondering the Menu.

 

 

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

The next day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM from school and to fetched this months medicines from the pharmacy. The sun was shining and the weather pleasant, in the upper-sixties. Hayden and I had lunch at Subway’s and he once again impressed me with how rapidly he is becoming an adult.

I am distressed at the state of my memory. Throughout the day, my mind is bubbling with ideas about what I would like to write here in T&T, but when I sit a my computer to actually write, nada, nothing. We did watch “The Irishman” on Netflix last night — vintage Scorsese. It was a story about a two bygone eras. The first described the power and decline of the Italian Mafia. The second seemed to me to celebrate the end of the Actor’s Studio’s influence on movies and theater as DeNiro, Pacino, Scorsese, Kietel and Pesci (Pesci was not Actors Studio trained, but may as well have been) flaunting their ancient acting chops across the big screen. We will not see their like again.
.
Today, Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee once again. We met a woman who taught photography in Sacramento and Florence,Italy. Earlier in her life she attended a two week photographic safari in Montana. She volunteered to cook because the existing cook’s cooking was despised by the campers who had paid good money for the trip. She worked for the company for many years. Later, in Italy, she opened a bread bakery of some sort in Spoleto. We spoke about photography for a while. I gave her my view of aesthetics and art, “You do the best with whatever you got, unless you have got to make a living out of it. Then you do whatever sells.”

Later I took H, Jake and Ethan out for lunch at the Relish House in the Golden Hills. We ate hamburgers with complex toppings and talked about things of interest to teenagers, cars mostly.

IMG_7886

Ethan, Hayden and Jake
Still later, back in the Enchanted Forest, Naida collected some camellias. Some were placed in a shallow bowl to float on the water. Others were used for adornment.
IMG_7884 - Version 2
Naida of the Camellias.

 

On Tuesday, we were visited by Lillian Valee a friend of Naida’s, a fellow author, a poet and a renown translator of things Polish. She had been the student assistant to Czeslaw Milosz,a polish writer, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for literature (Poetry). She had assisted Milosz in translating his book Bells of Winter and other writings into English. Her book, Rivers of Birds, Forests of Tule is a marvelous collection of her columns written for the local museum publication describing the history of the flora and fauna of the Central Valley around the Mukouleme River and Modesto.

We walked the few steps from the Enchanted Forest to the banks of the American River. There we sat on a log for a while and watched evening drift down upon us. Naida and Lillian spoke of things literary while I threw stones into the water and petted Boo-boo the Barking Dog who lay dozing at my feet dreaming dog things.

IMG_7888

The American River at Winter’s End.

 

 

IMG_7905IMG
Naida West(http://www.bridgehousebooks.com/) and Lillian Vallee sitting on the banks of the American River discussing things literary while Boo-boo the Barking Dog enjoys the late afternoon sun.
The next day we had a pleasant breakfast and discussed, Modesto, Eugene O’Neal, cooking, family, things Polish, Naida’s early life, native Americans, and a lot more. I eventually left Naida and Lillian to their chitchat at the breakfast table and with Boo-boo the Barking Dog in tow retreated to the study where I wrote this while Boo-boo napped. For some reason, I felt ill, chilled. I put myself to bed and slept for a few hours. When I had awakened, Lillian had already left to return to her home in Modesto.

Tomorrow, people will be coming to put in new flooring for the house. While moving some things around in preparation, Naida opened and old chest. In it was some of the clothing her great great grandmother had worn when she arrived in America in the 1840s almost 180 years ago. She decided to do dress up.

IMG_7914

Naida as the well-dressed Scottish immigrant of the 1840s.
After watching a silly movie featuring a classical pianist, a singer and an all harmonica band, we went to bed. Not a bad day at all. I have had far worse.

Today the workers arrived at 8AM and immediately began tearing up the floors in the house in order to put in new floors and carpet. The racket and confusion of activity drove the three of us from the house like refugees from a war — homeless and looking for refuge. We ended at Naida’s daughter’s house, sat on the back porch, drank some tea and talked, and talked. The dogs, (Sarah’s two and our one) played frenetically throughout the yard and up on the tool shed. Eventually, we all left except for Sarah’s two dogs, Sarah back to work and Naida, Boo-boo the Barking dog and I, returned home, navigated the noise, mess and apologies and ran upstairs to change for this afternoon’s Happy Hour with the members of the Saturday Mornings Coffee Group at someplace called Clubhouse 56 because it happens to be located on 56th Street in Sacramento. We drank a few Margarita’s. I ate a Hot Dog. We talked with a lot of people but I remember nothing about what we may have talked about. I did talk with Winnie. We compared maladies as we usually do when we meet. Her’s seemed much more distressing than mine.

We returned home after the workers left, made our way through the detritus and materials left behind pending the workers return tomorrow and up to the bedroom on the second floor. The floor installers had not yet attacked that floor. We crawled into bed.

Oh, I remember one other thing about the day. The Good/Bad David called from South Dakota to tell me that the temperature there reached one degree Fahrenheit today. I mentioned it was about 70 here in the Enchanted Forest. I invited him down to enjoy some California weather. He said he would think about it as soon as he finishes doing something or other with the cows or something like that.

It is Valentine’s Day. The house is in shambles as various teams of workmen continue tearing up the floor and hammering down new flooring. Naida and I have fled to the studio room to escape the noise of the tools and the Serbian, Chinese and Mexican shouts of the workers as they lay down the floor. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.

On Saturday the clattering of the workmen as they put down the carpets upstairs continued. Naida sentenced me to the big recliner in the living room while she cleaned out the studio before they began working in there. In rejecting my assistance, Naida said that there were a lot of personal papers and things lying around she wanted to go through. So Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I happily dozed in the recliner while everyone else worked.

Sunday, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake and bring them to The Enchanted Forest to help me move some furniture around the house. After completing that chore we went for lunch at a small family owned Arabic restaurant. The food was surprisingly good.

After a few days of which I remember very little, Naida and I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog to the dogpark. While there, some dog pissed on my cane.

It is now Wednesday evening, Naida and I are watching the Democratic Presidential Nomination debate on MSNBC. We sit here talking to the TV set like we were watching a football game. I hate the moderators. They seem more interested in pushing their personal agenda and gotcha games than in encouraging a debate. How about a question like how do you propose to defeat Trump? Or how is your position on ______ different from that of the present administration? Nevertheless, there is a lot of shouting, self justification and a few apologies. Overall it is enjoyable, like watching a street fight.

It is now Friday evening, things have happened in the past two days have disappeared through the holes in my memory. Tomorrow is another day.

Another Saturday morning at the coffee in the Nepenthe Club House. Winnie’s husband Paul and I have a long talk together. He had been an accomplished architect in Los Angeles until he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Wanting to spend the last few years in an idillic setting, he along with Winnie moved to Salmon Idaho. Their house, designed by Paul, sat in a pretty little valley a few miles north of the town. A portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail crossed their property. Close by the Middle Fork of the Salmon River rushes by their home. It is the location of the book Murder On The North Fork written by Naida’s uncle who used to be the Methodist minister in the town. Naida had helped her uncle to write the book, edited and published it. The book told the true story of a murder that occurred in the area about 100 years ago.

Sunday was a day of rest and rest we did.
Tomorrow I leave for the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy treatment. Today, during our walk around the Enchanted Forest, I noticed the ornamental fruit trees were in bloom — the Japanese cherry trees a brazen pink and the white and reds of the others bursting out here and there along with the camellias adding the blush of color to the lingering shades of winter. I expect, by the time I return from the Big Endive, our back yard with be a riot of spring colors.

Until then, take care of yourselves.
“Crivens”

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
Does it really matter?

 

It struck me after the debates, the early primaries, and the pundit world commentaries on them both that perhaps we need to cool down a bit and reflect. Elizabeth Warren in the last debate said something like, “I will take whatever I can get and then come back again and again.” In effect suggesting that the moderates in developing their policies seemingly based upon what can feasibly be passed into law by Congress are just being timid.They should propose what is morally right and then “take what they can get and come back again and again.”

In thinking about this and the hysteria by the moderates caused by the early primary successes of Bernie Sanders, I have a different take on what is happening. Could anyone have any confidence that say Bernie’s Medicare for all will be approved by Congress during his administration. Even if the Democrats take the Senate by one or two votes they will not have the votes to overcome a filibuster. Warren correctly opined that even her proposals would require the abolishment of the filibuster rule to have any hope of seeing the light of day in the form that she proposed. Also, there are enough so-called moderate or conservative Democrats in Congress that even the end of the filibuster would probably not result in passage of a single payer program. It is more likely and perhaps a certainty that any health care bill would be merely a correction of the problems with Obamacare and a public option. So it will be with just about every policy proposal. In effect, even a Democratic Congress will give the Democratic President at best more or less what the “moderates” propose.

The Big Corporations, Wall Street and Carbon Mafia and the like can rest easy and forgo the hysteria over a Sanders or Warren presidency because without a strong majority in the Senate it will be a typical Democratic Administration no matter which of the 5 or so top Democratic candidates competing for the nomination is elected. The Trump executive actions will be reversed entirely whichever of the leading Democratic candidates is elected. Similarly, a moderate revision to the immigration laws will probably be passed and signed into law. The Corporate tax rate and high income tax rates will return to those existing at the end of the Obama administration (provided we are not it a recession). The fights in Congress will be over a wealth tax and raising the unearned income tax.

The administration itself will be staffed with similar personnel, the moderates choosing somewhat less radical but more experienced administrators.

I agree with Warren, however, it is a cop out, even if it is politically more expedient to propose programs or policies most likely to pass, to not support the “best.” There is always the possibility by choosing a lesser goal one will achieve it, declare victory and not “come back again and again.”

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 
Wednesday, March 27,1963.

I am recovering from two weeks of depression. Things appear ordered again

Valerie left for Europe yesterday on the Queen Elizabeth. I went to see her off. Ed and I were the only ones to see her off. I felt very sad that she had to leave without any of her friends seeing her off. Leaving when one is alone is not a parting. It is an end.

 
Thursday, April 4, 1963.

 

 

Now that my depression has faded my studies are going better. Things are picking up.

I wrote Tad a letter today but I don’t thing I will send it. It’s all bullshit.

Kevin did not call today about the travel business issues. I do not understand people who seem unable to live up to their obligations.

 

 
Friday, April 26, 1963.

 

 

Val wrote a letter to Maria:

“Joe was there with flowers. He more than anything else made me sad in leaving America. He personifies all that was good and fun and enjoyable in America”

That is quite a comment. I am humbled.

 

 
Tuesday, May 14, 1963.

 

 

I am embarrassed I haven’t written here for several weeks now. I imagine my innate laziness has raised its ugly head again.

News of the day: Major Cooper’s orbital flight was cancelled today because of some difficulty with the Bermuda Tracking Station. They have had difficulty with that station before. I wonder why, considering the enormous expense of a postponement they do not have duplicate or auxiliary machinery.

 
Thursday, May 16, 1963.

 

 

Major Cooper landed safely today.

I met with Kevin today. He seems very distressed by my lawsuit. I feel sorry for him. He was obviously angry but never voiced it to me. I probably will never be a leader of people or organizations. I am too soft. I don’t seem to be ruthless enough. I think I will probably drop the suit eventually. I just cannot harm someone who was a friend although I know he will never think of me as one again.

I think I did poorly in my Real Property exam. My mind simply could not penetrate the complexity of the questions.

Stephanie and I spent the short half-hour we had with each other in total non-communication. It is strange, we both try so hard to communicate but instead we seem to fear to closeness or to touch as though if we did it would plunge immediately into some libidinous trap. It annoys and frustrates me. Ah, but like my life in general, I may never succeed in achieving my goals, but I cannot run away.

 
Friday, May 17, 1963.

 

 

It seems strange to me that there appear few today in the intellectual community courageous enough to stand up and object to some of those clearly erroneous claims and lack of intellectual discipline that come out of that community.

Why is it today the only voices raised against these errors are voices usually associated with reaction whose councils are usually dismissed as superstitious, unscientific or medieval?

It is time modern preconceptions be re-examined. Terms like scientific, intellectual freedom, reality and the like should be looked at and clarified in the cool light of reason, science and above all experience.

Error is an oppressive religion. Failure to understand is the gateway to superstition.

 

(I haven’t the slightest idea what my 23 year old self was going on about here.)

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 
While sitting around, paying bills and watching CNN pundits travel opining on the upcoming Democratic primary in New Hampshire, I grew bored and my mind wandered to contemplate those things that had changed in the US in the 80 years between 1939 when I was born and now. So, I fiddled a bit on the internet, and reviewed an old birthday card. I discovered the following:

The average cost of a new home had increased 100 times from $3800 to $380,000.
Average income from $1800 to $46,000, 25 times.
A new car from $700 to about 32,000, about 45 times.
Gasoline from $ .10 per gallon to $2.50 a 25 fold increase.

As far as I can tell from these few statistics, our parents had better relative income and prices for major purchases, but not better technology or health care. Since I am mostly technologically illiterate and my health is shot, I guess I get the burnt ends of either year.

Batman is 80 years old, having been introduced to us all in 1939.

If Batman is 80 and his mind is like mine, I wonder if he knows he is Batman or does he just wonder why he is wearing tights and jumping off buildings in the dark? For that matter I wonder if he knows he is actually in a fictional Chicago?

Three Little Fishes, Beer Barrel Polka, Jeepers Creepers and Scatterbrain were some of the favorite tunes of 1939.

In 2019, according to some, Cheap Thrills and This Is What You Came For (neither of which I have ever listened to) seems to be the fan favorites. While I cannot opine which songs are better, I bet, if forced to choose. I would go with a 1939 fan favorite like Three Little Fishes.

Italy invaded Albania in 1939.

In 2019, the USA and Russia seem to be bent on their continued invasions of a whole bunch of places.

England and France declared war on Germany.

In 2019, neither Russia nor the USA declared war on anyone but their troops maintained a physical presence in and occupying much of the world.

Food Stamps begin in1939 under the Roosevelt administration.

Food Stamps, in 2019, face the beginning of the end under the administration of DJT.

The New York Yankees won the 1939 World Series fair and square.

In 2019, the Huston Astros cheated their way to World Series victory.

The Vice President of the US in 1939 was John Garner.

In 2019, it was Mike Pence. No-one cared in either case.

In 2019 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, one of our greatest Presidents. He changed our Nation and ushered in what was perhaps the greatest Golden Age in human history.

In 2019 we have a President who was elected with substantially fewer votes than his rival, doesn’t read, cannot write, is the most corrupt President in our history and who we have not yet even mentioned the really the evil things he is capable of and has done. He may well be ushering in the end times.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Terry on Top:

 

I just received the following from Terry and thought is was interesting enough to send on:

So on all the Sunday shows today the various guests claim that anybody but Sanders would do much better against Trump. So the Party must unite to stop him.

My view is : that is just not true; not true at all.

Rahm Emanuel, the Clinton and Obama political guru and former Chicago Mayor , said today that Sanders is following a strategy never tried by a winning Democrat since 1992: ignoring the centrist path to the White House in favor of populist liberalism. And that is indeed risky . But if that is true, why is it not showing up in the polls??

There are universally no polls that substantiate that. In fact a look at Real Clear Politics on 2/23/20 shows that Sanders beats Trump by an average of 3%-4% nationwide and in the battleground state of Michigan by 7%. All of the other candidates do worse in the same polls, in some cases much worse. Some even tie or lose to Trump. This holds true in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Something is going on that has not happened before. The old winning strategy of Dems is just not working. Otherwise Sanders would be loosing to Trump big time in the polls. And the other Democrats would be winning big time. And it’s not that the public doesn’t know Sanders is a “democratic socialist”. His name ID is 95%.

Attacking Sanders as too extreme, and a socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union doesn’t seem to have any impact in the polls. He still beats Trump by higher margins now than any other candidate, including Biden. That is frankly amazing. Again, all the experts appear to be wrong!

All I can say at this point is that a tectonic shift appears to be taking place, not just in the Democratic Party but in the rust belt states of Penn. Mich. and Wisconsin. Why is Sanders doing as well or better against Trump than Biden and company in those key states and much better than them nationwide?

My educated guess is that a very diverse part of America actually “like him”. He has the undefinable “it”.

It’s an old saw in politics: all things being equal, “THE MOST LIKABLE CANDIDATE WINS”.
For example: FDR, HST, JFK, RR, WJC, GWB, BHO, and Trump. Hillary, while competent, was not as likable.

That quality is more important than ideology, looks, wealth , brilliance , etc. And Sanders is definitely becoming more likable. Since his heart attack he has mellowed a lot. He is much warmer since he became a real winner, no longer the underdog but the top dog.

So watch what happens over the next two weeks: will Sanders become LOVABLE to the never Trumpers in the Democratic Party? He will if he keeps winning the primaries and also the national and regional polls against Trump. Nothing succeeds like success and that’s winning in politics (polls included).

Average percentage of their fortunes that the twenty richest Americans gave to charity in 2018: 0.8

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

 

Our successes may be enjoyable but our failures are far more interesting.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

I Have Learned So Much

I
Have
Learned
So much from God
That I can no longer
Call
Myself

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me

That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even a pure
Soul.

Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed
Me

Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.
From: ‘The Gift’ by Haifiz
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

 

 

 

D. Giants of History: More From Burma Richard.

Richard Diran, also known as “Burma Richard” became a dear friend of mine during my sojourn in Thailand. Richard a gemologist, ethnologist, artist, photographer, smuggler, man of action, restraunteur, and soldier of fortune, is a real adventurer who goes on real adventures. The following post from his blog “Burma Richard” (http://www.burma-richard.org/) briefly tells about one of his visits to Burma in search of a tribe of headhunters.

naga_human_trophy1_007

 

 

Who hasn’t opened an old issue of National Geographic when they were a kid and looking with utter fascination, disgust and wide eyed amazement at the shrunken heads taken by such tribes as the Jivaro of the South American Amazon? What kid hasn’t wanted one of those creepy heads for themselves?
You kidding? Where can I get one?

Replicas were so popular that hobby shops sold shrunken rubber heads with stitched lips and eyelids.

In former times, perhaps as little as one generation ago, two very different ethnic groups chose to
hunt human heads in Burma. One group are the Naga tribes of Burma’s north west whose settlements straddle the border of India. Particularly the Konyak Naga were feared for taking heads in combat as a way to display their fierce courage. Arrows were driven through the eye sockets to prevent the spirits from finding their way back home.
That is one impressive set of trophies on your wall, Buddy.
Beats the hell out of bowling.
The other group of headhunters are the Wild Wa from northern Burma bordering China’s Yunnan Province whose autonomous region boasted of whole villages whose walkways held human heads in various degrees of decomposition in stone lanterns. One such village was said to have an avenue of 300 such heads. Was it still there? Was it possible to visit? Of course I had to find out if it was possible to find them.

Years ago in 1984, I was invited to a meeting by Abel Tweed the Foreign Minister of the Karenni Tribe deep into the jungle close to where the Moei River meets the mighty Salween River. Four hours in an 8 wheeled truck led to a river bank, the last outpost before we needed to take a long tailed boat maned by armed camouflaged soldiers up the turbulent river.

Karen children ran on the banks amidst fluttering butterflies with lengths of yarn hanging out of their earlobes.

Arriving at the camp, I was told that every one of the rebel leaders was here at this meeting of the National Democratic Front. General Bo Mya of the Karen, Brang Seng leader of the Kachin Independence Army and Ma Ha San the Prince of Vinghun, the leader of the Wa.
I wanted to meet him and to ask him to write me a letter of introduction so I could take photos of the Wild Wa.
I was told who to contact.
Every member was there.
“And he is here?”.
“Yes, really”.
“If you want to meet him now you can go along, he is staying in the house of my brother”.

Walking over to a bamboo hut raised on wooden stilts, I walked up the stairs and entered a room silhouetted with figures sitting cross legged around a small fire drinking tea. I sat down with my interpreter and was offered a cup.

Turning on my Sony Professional recorder I asked permission to record. What followed was a remarkable interview with Ma Ha San, President of the Wa, one of the last living headhunters.

For those of you who have my book “The Vanishing Tribes of Burma,” a new interactive edition has been published in Apple iBook. Utilizing the latest technology, we were able to combine 70 photos of more than 35 diverse Burmese tribal groups along with explanatory text from the Exhibition Edition which was launched by Nobel laureate Aung San Su Kyi in Rangoon and combine that with short audio clips of tribal music including the 11 minute interview with a headhunter as relayed above. Also the iBook has video clips of Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech, and my speech at the opening of the exhibition as well as a video of me visiting the source of the Worlds Finest Gemstones, Mogok Burma in March 2014

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“…the abuse of evolution has a long and embarrassing history. The central problem that Tattersall and DeSalle highlight is the difficulty in reconciling binary Mendelian alleles (wrinkled/round, green/yellow, tall/short) to the quantitative and developmentally sensitive human organism, much less to its context-specific behaviors.”

“This problem has existed since the dawn of Mendelian genetics. In the early 20th century, America’s leading geneticists generally adhered to the proposition that people came in two Mendelian flavors, smart and “feebleminded”. Their arguments helped pass legislation to restrict the immigration of Italians and Jews into the US (1924) and to sterilize the poor involuntarily (1927), before the Germans even got the idea. Today’s abusers of Mendel are only slightly less crude, with genes “for” homosexuality, schizophrenia, aggression, or religiosity regularly touted, although with remarkably short scientific shelf-lives.”
http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 

 

IMG_1825

Sent to me by Richard Diran (Burma Richard) with the following message:

 

“My friend Tooten the photographer printed this for me of the young Goddess the Kumari at her palace in Kathmandu Nepal with her pet rabbit.”

 

(Tooten is almost as interesting a rogue and a scholar as Burma Richard —look him up.)

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Mopey 0009. (February 4, 2020)

 
Treat The Earth Well, It Was Not Given To You By Your Parents, it Was Loaned To You By Your Children.”
Ancient Native-American proverb

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. A PRELIMINARY COMMENT ABOUT RECENT COMMENTS:

Someone commenting on my previous T&T post wrote, “It was amusing but not particularly funny.” I’ll have you know Mr. Commentator it was neither amusing nor funny. It was ridiculous. If you want funny how about this:

Q. What was Harpo Marx’s favorite joke?
A. “ “.

You didn’t get it? Didn’t think it was funny? Don’t know who Harpo is? Well, Mr. Critic as Groucho says, “If you want to see a comic strip you should see me in a shower.” That not good enough? Then “Those are my principles, if you don’t like them I have others.”

 

 

B. POOKIE’S DAZE:

 

January and February are dreary months. Grey skies, naked trees whose spindly branches scrape the heavens, slick damp ground, chilling breezes creep through every crack and the silence. In the mornings when I look out through the sliding glass doors to the back yard, I see only the bleakness of the season — a forlorn flower or two, naked trees and gray skies.
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Naida and I spent the past few days watching the impeachment hearings. They fit the season. Dreary and dismal best describes the level of misery to which this nation has fallen. Again and again, the trial managers presented the facts and law that under the rule of law led ineluctably to the verdict they call for. Sadly, it appears the rule of law in our society has been shredded beyond retrieval.

The weekend arrived and I was getting restless. Not energetic mind you, just antsy like there is something I should be doing, exercising perhaps, or singing, maybe even taking a long hot bath. Instead on Saturday, we went to the coffee at Nepenthe Club House. That evening we watched “The Two Popes” on Netflix — great acting to go along with splendid shots of the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo. On Sunday while Naida was off visiting some old friends, I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. I am always amazed that no matter how many times I have walked through those woods over the almost two years I have lived here, I still find paths I had never walked on before and groves of majestic trees I had never seen.

I returned home to discover that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. Perhaps, as far as history goes, his death is of little importance in light of the real possibility that our nation and even our world is poised on the brink of dissolution if not outright destruction. Nevertheless, the death of someone whose life, exploits and youthful enthusiasm have been cut short must sadden us all. Like a feather brushing up against my consciousness, it makes me wonder if it presents an analogy for our age, nation and indeed us all — the hero’s dreams and his enthusiasm for his future come crashing down in an uncontrolled helicopter. Good-by Kobe, I hope you find whatever it was that you devoted your life to.

I then took a nap, my usual remedy for depression. Later we watched a Nordic silent movie, Swedish I believe, in which a woman throws her three-year-old daughter over a cliff and then she and her lover die frozen to death in a snowstorm. It is interesting how it can be that even when you do little of anything to make you sad, it still can be a miserable day. But then again “tomorrow is another day.” (Scarlett O’Hara)

A few days later, the weather became warm for this time in the year — not balmy but lacking the cold wet chill of the winter months. In the early evening, Naida and I decided to take Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk along the banks of the American River. It was a pleasant evening. There was a slight pink blaze in the sky to the Southwest. The naked trees painted dark stripes across our view of the river. We stopped for a bit at some benches along the path then continued our walk up to the Guy West bridge where we turned away from the river and meandered back home through the Enchanted Forest.
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The pastel colors of the evening.

 

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Naida and I rest for a moment during our walk.

 
A few days later the surprisingly balmy days continued so I drove into the Golden Hills. I picked up HRM after school at the Skatepark and took him to Nugget Market in Town Center for a healthy lunch of pepperoni pizza and soda. We had a great talk. I enjoy believing that I am the older wiser person guiding the callow youth past the rocky shoals of adolescence — an affectation, I know. He on the other hand, given his sweet temperament, probably considers it as spending a little time indulging a garrulous and lonely old man.

The next day, I returned to the Golden Hills for my physical therapy appointment. Before the appointment, I picked HRM and Jake from school and drove them to a nearby restaurant called the Relish House that served pretty good hamburgers. They chatted away about cars. H was excited that he had spent a day or two “detailing” Dick’s Mom’s automobile, a 30-year-old Honda. The car became Dick’s after his mom died and he promised it to H when he becomes old enough to drive in a year or so. H’s Mom objected and upset him very much.

It is mushrooms and camellias season in the Enchanted Forest. We had little or no winter this year — perhaps half a shiver’s worth. Now we seem to have slid into early spring without a cry of protest or a whisper of regret. Climate change will beguile us all for a moment or two before we may need to chant Kaddish. Perhaps this is the rapture, a moment of delight followed by eternal darkness.
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Today we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. We walked from our house to the clubhouse in the balmy morning. There were a few announcements today, The Super Bowl Party tomorrow, Happy Hour next Wednesday and a few more things. Then we got down to small conversations. Winnie and I exchanged treatment stories and our distress over the impeachment hearings. A man whose name I have forgotten and I discussed vests and Bangkok. After browsing through the clubhouse library and finding nothing trashy enough to attract me, we left to return home.

Later that day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills. HRM and Jake wanted to “detail” it — basically a car wash on steroids. So, gathered at Dick’s house were the two boys, Dick, Jake’s father and me — a gathering of the guys discussing cars. I know nothing about cars. I barely know how to drive them. So, my role in the discussions was to nod knowingly at what I had hoped were appropriate moments and at other times to look suitably serious.

Later this week, I have my immunotherapy infusion appointment. The past few days were days of disappointment. Disappointment in the results of the Impeachment, the Super Bowl, the pizza I devoured recently, and the movies on television I watched during the past few days, but as my favorite philosopher has observed, “It’s always something (Rosanna Rosannadanna)”

Then, of course, there was the Iowa Democratic Caucus to add a bit of levity to the week.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
Can Impeaching Trump help Republicans to hold on to the Presidency and the Senate and Save the Republican Party?
There may be several ways to argue that if the Republicans in the Senate were to join with the Democrats to remove Trump from office, it may benefit the Republican party. It may also assist them in holding on to the Presidency and the Senate Majority.

For example, if after hearing from witnesses and reviewing whatever documents are produced, 20 or so Republicans join with the Democrats and vote to remove him from office, what happens next?

Pence becomes President and perhaps installs a somewhat more competent and arguably less controversial administration. He and his administration urge us, the nation, to come together again and reject the partisan political warfare that has so divided us. They then can go on to continue the pro-business, anti-immigrant and other policies of the current administration but with a more humane face. They could, for example, in order to show their good intentions, dial back on some of the more inhuman policies imposed on those seeking asylum on our Southern Border, and/or reverse the rhetoric regarding climate change, probably without taking effective action.

The at-risk Republican Senators can be buffered somewhat by voting against removal or by some other strategy. There would be plenty of time to repair the damage between the trial and the election.

One of the so-called moderate and well-known Republicans like Romney could then become the nominee. I suspect, as a result, Democratic enthusiasm for activism generated by Trump’s behavior would abate with a resulting fall-off in Democratic voters at the polls. Meanwhile, the 10% or so of Republicans who have left the party may flock back to support the more respectable business-oriented moderate. The older Trumpites can be relied upon to continue to vote and vote Republican because they always do so. They are also easily frightened by Socialism and open border Democratic candidates. The Trumpite radical activists, always a small percentage of the voting population, becomes the wild card. They would be somewhat like the more radical Democrats have been in several past Presidential elections.

I suspect there are other ways this can happen, but we should not assume there are not clever political operatives on the Republican already gaming options like this.

We should remember the 30 or so Senators not up for reelection in 2020 and at least 10 of those who are up for reelection have little fear of the blowback from Trump voters. Also, some of the 30 we know have Presidential aspirations. Removal of Trump may and probably is viewed by many of them as a positive.

Just ask yourself, if Trump is removed and a more “respectable” candidate replaces him, would you still vote for the Democratic candidate for President if the one we nominate is someone you abhor? Would you vote for a third-party candidate or stay home from the polls? Will the independent voters who may be troubled by Trump’s behavior stay home or vote for the moderate candidate?

Like most politicians, Republicans seek by whatever means possible to preserve their power and position. Neither courage nor martyrdom should be expected of our elected officials even though we may honor those few who do. Political calculations are rarely what they appear to be on the surface.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

P
This is a continuation of several posts from a diary I had written more than 55 years ago.

More than a few times during my life, I have abandoned everything, taking with me only a suitcase and leaving everything else behind — From New York, to King of Prussia Pennsylvania; from there to Rome Italy and then back to Naw York; then to Cape Cod; then across the continent to San Francisco; then to Chiang Mai Thailand, followed by Jomtien Beach and Bangkok; then back to the US to El Dorado Hills and finally to Sacramento. Through all those changes, I was rarely accompanied by more than a single suitcase.

Every time I opened that suitcase upon arriving at my new home, I would find two diaries at the bottom. One from 1963 and the other from 1964. One with a brown cover and one with a red. I do not know why they were there. I never remembered packing them and rarely, if ever opened them. Instead, I would throw them into the bottom of a drawer there to remain unopened until I moved again. A few weeks ago, I opened the one from 1963 (brown cover).

I decided to post the entries here. I do not recall most of what was written there including many of the people and events mentioned and certainly not my thoughts and interpretations of them. Although I am sure the diaries were written by me (I recognize the penmanship), I do not recognize the me that appeared there. I was a bit of a shit. Probably always have been. I cannot apologize for what I wrote or did then. It is what it is. I was callow and shallow, sex-obsessed, and had not yet experienced the magical but alas ultimately fraudulent liberation of the Hippy Years.

I have added some commentary from myself to myself 60 years before — sort of like a memoir with a critique of my young self by my old self. But who will critique my old self? Worms, I guess.

 
Monday, February 18, 1963

 

I am beginning to get adjusted to studying again. My marks have not arrived yet.

I wore my double-breasted suit to school today. I received a few compliments. I think I will wear it to the party on Saturday.

Muriel McDowell is my date Saturday. Perhaps we will not end up living with each other but I hope we will at least enjoy the time we spend with each other.

I am beginning to lose interest in my “business deals.” They seem to be childish fantasies that I suspect will never be realized. I wish only to be a lawyer.

 
Thursday, February 21, 1963.

I received my marks yesterday, two Bs and a C. The C was in Domestic Relations. My cumulative average was a B, however. These marks are mediocre. I despise them. I need to do better next term.

I feel I am thinking clearly again. I am experiencing that part melancholy part happy feeling that usually results in things coming out well.

Someone said that anyone who writes should write as though they were writing the great American novel. I am not so sure about that but I guess I should try to be less sloppy in the future.

 

Friday, February 22, 1963

 

I did not meet with the men who took today’s 25-mile walk. I tried to. I hope they do not misunderstand. I will be hard-pressed to explain.

Mom and dad had another argument. This one raged for several days now. Mom told me she was thinking of getting a separation. I suggested they try marriage counseling.

I think she will take my recommendation although my opinion of marriage counselors is not very high. I think, however, just talking it out could be helpful. Mon was very distraught. She was crying today.

It is dad’s fault I believe. He seems to have great guilt feelings about his many business failures and insists on bragging about how hard he works. Any comment about either his failures or his workload no matter how innocuous enrages him because he sees it as an attack on him.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 1963.

 

I wrote to Tad tonight. Did not review my pleading notes.

Luis Maiello returned from Hollywood. He has become a beatnik. We went to a bar Sunday night and had a deep conversation. He is full of childish notions. They seem to consist mostly of themes from stage plays, movies, and his arty set. I was amazed, however, how knowledgeable and perhaps brighter he seems to be now than I had assumed him to be in the past. Although I thought his perceptions and ideas a bit infantile and unrealistic, he presented them with such vigor and enthusiasm I was hard-pressed to disagree.

We met a few European domestics. One and Irish girl with a nice ass seemed to have an eye for me but my poor financial situation prevented me from taking advantage of it.

 

Monday, March 11,1963.

 

A short summary of things that have happened since I last wrote here:

1. I have not studied. I am infected with second-semester malaise again.
2. I had dated Stephanie again. I must watch my step.
3. I am having difficulty dating Muriel. I called twice but she was dating someone else.
4. Received a letter from Tad. He is coming to NY on March 16. I will be happy to see him.
5. Completed the brief with Dick Perles.
6. I have stopped talking to several members of my class until I can pay them back for what they did or until they make it up somehow. My anger with Gio, I think, will last forever.
7. I need to find out why I feel so lethargic all the time. If I could only act more vigorously I would succeed.

 
Wednesday, March 13, 1963.

 

Once again, I have not kept to my study schedule.

Laziness, I am afraid will become the major cause of failure in my life.

I called Stephanie today. I shouldn’t have. I think I am pressing her too hard, I know I have many years yet. I should focus more on sex and less on virtue and fidelity.

Cassius Clay beat Doug Jones by decision, not in the four rounds he predicted.

 
Sunday, March 17, 1963.

 

I have never had such a miserable weekend. It is not that I have been defeated, I have never entered the fray in the first place. I walked through the halls of the hotel like the poor lost soul. Perhaps that is who I am.

I met a lovely blond girl with an Irish name. We were supposed to meet. She was late. I left the meeting place to search for her. When I returned, having not found her, I caught a glimpse of her disappearing into the elevator followed by a pack of drooling suitors.

Perhaps now I can get back to some serious school work and refrain from silly activities like this or at least stop writing about them.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 

 

Here in T&T, I write about my so-called “adventures.” I call them adventures even if they often are no more than sitting in my recliner watching Ethel Waters sing “His Eyes on the Sparrow” in the movie Member of the Wedding. Unlike my own ersatz adventures, my friend, Richard Diran, who goes by the name of Burma Richard, gemologist, ethnologist, artist, photographer, smuggler, a man of action, restauranteur, and soldier of fortune, is a real adventurer who goes on real adventures. The following post from his blog “Burma Richard” (http://www.burma-richard.org/2014/02/winter-in-japan.html) briefly tells about his visit to Japan a few years ago.

Winter in Japan

Over the New Year celebration, my wife and I went to Japan. Deep in the mountains of the Japanese Alps is a very ancient town called Hida Takayama. Some of my wife’s family lives there and some of her school friends.

Neolithic stone implements can be found there proving that it has been inhabited for thousands of years. During the Heian Period, two powerful clans, the Genji warrior clan, and the Heike who were a more of an aristocratic clan fought a war that saw the Genji defeat, Heike, in 1185 AD. Many of the Heike fled from Kyoto, their former seat of power to the Hida Takayama area and continued their artistic culture.

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The town has many beautiful and original buildings from the Edo Period from 1600 to 1868.

Close to Takayama is Shirakawago which is a world heritage site, a very mountainous and cold region. Until very recently Shirakawago was extremely remote but tunnels were bored through the mountains making access to that region easy.

There is a Japanese style inn run by an eccentric old man with a wispy white beard who owns the mountain where bear still roam. He brews his own sake. He sprays water on the trees creating a crystal ice forest one frozen layer at a time. If the temperature is sub-zero, he will step outside and make soap bubbles that freeze instantly and float through the forest like glowing orbs. At minus 10 degrees Centigrade, the large flowing bubbles crystallize as dancing glass spheres reflecting the colored lights hidden in the ice.

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End.

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Always carry a flashlight in case there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 
Along with being an amateur folklorist and musician, Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a lawyer practicing in rural North Carolina during the 1920s.[1] At the time, the manufacturing of beverage alcohol for non-medicinal purposes was illegal in the United States due to prohibition, but North Carolina residents nevertheless continued their longstanding tradition of making a form of illegal whiskey called moonshine. Lunsford frequently defended local clients that were accused of the practice,[2] and the original lyrics and banjo accompaniment to “Good Old Mountain Dew” were written during the course of one of these cases. In 1928, Lunsford recorded the song for Brunswick Records.

Scotty Wiseman, of the duo Lulu Belle and Scotty, was a friend of Lunsford’s. When Lulu Belle and Scotty needed one more song to finish a 1935 record for Vocalion Records,[3] Wiseman suggested using the song his friend had written. To make the piece appeal to more people, Wiseman added the modern chorus and replaced verses about a man appearing in court with verses about making moonshine. Two years later, at the National Folk Festival in Chicago, Wiseman showed his version to Lunsford.
(Wikipedia)

Mountain Dew

There’s a big hollow tree down the road here from me
Where you lay down a dollar or two
You stroll ’round the bend and you come back again
There’s a jug full of good old mountain dew

They call it that mountain dew
And them that refuse it are few
I’ll hush up my mug if you fill up my jug
With that good old mountain dew

My uncle Mort, he’s sawed off and short
He measures about four foot two
But he thinks he’s a giant when you give him a pint
Of that good old mountain dew

Well, my old aunt June bought some brand new perfume
If had such a sweet smelling pew
But to her surprise when she had it analyzed
It was nothing but good old mountain dew

Well, my brother Bill’s got a still on the hill
Where he runs off a gallon or two
The buzzards in the sky get so drunk they can’t fly
From smelling that good old mountain dew
By Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Scotty Wiseman.

 

 

E. Giants of History: Smedley Butler.

Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881, – June 21, 1940) a United States Marine Corps major-general obtained the Corps’ highest rank authorized at that time. At the time of his death, he was the most decorated Marine in US history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. He also won two Congressional Medals of Honor.

Butler is well-known for having later become an outspoken critic of US wars and their consequences. He also exposed the Business Plot, a purported plan to overthrow the US government and assassinate Franklin Roosevelt. After retirement from the military, he ran for Senate as a Republican but was defeated. In 1932 he supported the military bonus marchers at their encampment in Washington DC and was there when Gen. Douglas MacArthur led the attack on them killing several veterans. He later became a spokesman for the “American League Against Fascism.”

War Is A Racket
By Major General Smedley Butler

 

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

 

 

D. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:

 
My friend the Old Sailor, responded to my last post with the following comment:

“Hairspray Tom would swim over to Hassle Island for $100 he’d have to crawl across the waterfront stopping traffic but when he rolled into the water he was like a fucking sea otter. Monte was always betting on him.”
The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, Pirate Treasure Hunter and Good Friend of Mine.

I am not sure what it says about my post, but Hairspray Tom must be quite a man. I’d bet on him. Maybe I will start a Hairspray Tom fan club.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

 

“In the absence of any gods to do the creating of life, life has managed, against the odds, to create itself. Yet the humans who have evolved on the planet believe in their hearts that there are such things as gods, magic, cosmic purpose and million-million-to-one chances that crop up nine times out of ten. They seek stories in the world which the world, regrettably, is not equipped to tell.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 2). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:

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Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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