Posts Tagged With: Greece

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Pepe 0008 (August 21, 2019)

“Time narrows as it passes.”
Saying on a Tarot card my brother Jim gave to Peter Grenell many years ago.
To my friend Eric, the old sailor, deep-sea diver, and pirate — Keep on Truckin.
To my beloved sister, Maryann, best wishes for a successful “Startup Mendocino” on August 25 in Ukiah.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Today I went swimming for the first time since last October. I walked to the Nepenthe pool here in the Enchanted Forest and sat on one of the reclining beach chairs in the shade of some redwood trees until I felt ready to swim. It was not much of a swim. I couldn’t complete even one lap, but I paddled around a bit and did some walking back and forth across the shallower end of the pool. It’s a start.

That evening after we went to bed, I remembered that I had not driven the car from the overnight no-parking tow-away zone in front of our house to where I normally park it during the night. I jumped out of bed, threw on Bill’s red velvet robe and ran out the door to attend to the problem. Now Bill was a big man, much bigger than I am, five or six inches taller and about 100 pounds heavier so his red velvet robe hung down to the tips of my crocs and draped loosely around my body. It appeared more like a paint tarp thrown loosely over an armchair than a robe. I looked like a disheveled dissolute medieval Cardinal newly returned from the grave running around at night searching for heretics to burn at the stake. I got into the car and drove it to the proper parking area and then walked back home through the paths and streets of the Enchanted Forest like a crimson specter carrying a Shillelagh. I suspect I will be brought before the HOC to explain why I had chosen to haunt the neighborhood.

As Frank tells us, “Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few.” The last precious few days have not only dwindled down to smokey memory but most of those memories have disappeared.

I swam again a few days later — more vigorously this time. That evening, we watched Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remmick, George C. Scott, and Ben Gazzara. The Gazzara family (Ben’s relatives) owned the shop, a grocery store, in Canicatti, Sicily next door to my family’s “Tabacci.” How is that for a remote and inconsequential factoid? (Another inconsequential factoid is that the presence of Zs in the last name of southern Italians signifies that they are descended from the Arab and Moorish settlers during their more than 300 years (Ninth to the Eleventh Centuries) occupation of the Island and the southern mainland. OK one more: Jews were the only ones to migrate to Sicily instead of invading it. In 1492, the same year that Columbus arrived in the Americas beginning the conquest, genocide (ethnic cleansing), and repopulation of those two continents, the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, recent conquerors of Sicily and sponsors of Columbus’ expedition, expelled those Jews, many of whom resettled in those parts Germany beyond the reach of the Christian crusaders and thus became a major component of the stateless Jewish nation of the Ashkenazim.)

This morning, I took a shower. I know that’s nothing momentous, but while my PICC line was in, I could neither shower nor swim. I thought to myself as I stood there for a long, long time with the water crashing down on me, how wonderful it was to shower again after eight months of sponge baths. That, in turn, reminded me of when I was a kid, in the second grade. We lived in a storefront with a soaped-up window. We had only a toilet and cold water, so every evening my mom would heat up water in a kettle on the stove and pour it into a galvanized tub in which she bathed my brother and I. Yes, it has been a long time from May to September.

Later, Naida and I discussed something amusing and interesting that I wanted to write about here but I forgot what it was. Only the sense that it was amusing and interesting remains. That’s good enough for me.

On Thursday night, we went to the B-street Theater housing Sacramento’s premier live theater group. We saw The Last Match, a one-act play about a tennis match at the US Open between the aging US champion on the verge of retirement and the young upstart Russian challenger, and their wives. It was a well-staged fascinating comedy-drama. The only problem with the show was that even with my hearing-aid turned up, I could only make out about a quarter of the words spoken by the actors. I blamed it on the failure of modern acting schools to focus on projection and diction and not on any deficiency in me or my auditory equipment.

The next day I planned to spend the morning swimming. Instead, I occupied the entire day extending well into the evening watching old Red Skelton movies. I know, I should be shot and put out of my misery. Who watches Red Skelton movies today? Whoever watched Red Skelton movies? I didn’t when I was a kid —not even Saturday mornings at the Tuckahoe Itch where for 25 cents we watched a double feature, a bunch of cartoons and Movietone News of the Week. OK, I admit, I enjoyed watching them this week, especially “The Whisperer” series — truly an adventure in silliness.)

hayden… teenage forgetting — grandparents v parents — Bella bru — sunglasses — lake — zumba pool — condo — rose garden — bookstore — Hamilton quote — epstein

I wrote the above as a mnemonic device so I could come back after a few days and hopefully recall what happened. It is now a few days later. Let us see how well it worked.

Hayden — I recall leaving home at 8AM and driving into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake in order to drive to a large skatepark camp near Tahoe. I stopped in the Bela Bru parking lot and called H because I suspected he would have changed his mind and forgotten to call and tell me.

Teenage forgetting — He answered the phone and said they changed their mind and had forgotten to call and tell me.

Grandparents v parents — I have no idea why I added this except perhaps grandparents and the very old (alter cocker?) tend to be more forgiving of the foibles of the young than parents because, I guess, but for a vague sense of one more disappointment among many, they have little enough to do anyway so there was usually nothing else they had to give up.

Bella Bru — so, having little else to do, I entered Bella Bru ordered my favorite breakfast of Cafe Latte and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with Cream cheese.

Sunglasses — for the rest of the day, I believed I had lost my favorite sunglasses. I tore the car apart and searched the house for them. That evening, as I sat in the recliner, I looked down and found the glasses had been hanging from one of my shirt buttons all day.

Lake — After breakfast, I went for a walk around the lakes at Town Center.

Zumba pool — I walked past the morning Zumba dancing class exercising in the health club pool.

Condo — and past the construction of the new and controversial 200 unit condominium project. It was not the best planned and designed concept. I would have preferred a walking street through the site with additional commercial on the ground floor. In any event, I support adding residential units to large shopping centers like Town Center so it had my silent approval for however much it is worth.

Rose Garden — After my walk around the lakes, I sat there and enjoyed myself contemplating something I no longer remember.

Book store — After meditating or whatever in the rose garden I walked to the bookstore, A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books. I seem to recall there were a few books that interested me. I no longer remember the titles of any of them.

Hamilton quote — I have no idea what this relates to or to what quote I was referring to unless it was this one I had read a few days ago:

Pasted Graphic
Epstein — Given the current news surrounding everything about this man, this could refer to almost anything.
A strange and mysterious thing came flying over the back fence today — a small box. In that box nestled a coffee cup filled with candy. It is sitting on a cabinet next to where I am typing this. I wonder about it. Perhaps it is a magic cup. Maybe if I rub it three times, a coffee genie will pop out and offer me three wishes. This requires some deep thought.

On Monday, I drove again into the Golden Hills. It was HRM’s first day of high school. I stopped again at Bella Bru, this time for lunch. As I was ordering, to my surprise N, Hayden’s mom, called to me. She was there with Jake’s mom. I joined them and we spent most of the lunch discussing the problems of teenagers. I then picked up H and Jake at the skatepark. They were very excited and happy about their first day of high school. I dropped them off at D’s house and returned to the EF.

A few more days have passed by. I assume I must have done something of at least moderate interest. Yesterday, I felt sick and spent most of the day in bed. Today, I felt better. That interests me even if it does no one else.

Well, today is Wednesday. Last night Naida could not find her wallet. We tried to remember when she used her credit card last. One of the places we considered she may have left it was at the Theater. In our attempts to recall the day we attended the play, I was convinced it was Saturday. She was not sure and thought we went there on Friday. Today at the theater we discovered it was Thursday (as I had written above but had not checked). My memory failures are going beyond simply humorous stories about the foibles of aging.

How about that, It is Friday evening already. It is Irene Dunne day on TCM.

We attended the Saturday Morning Coffee. I am beginning to enjoy talking to the people there rather than just sitting in the corner observing them and writing about it here. Perhaps I am growing up. Winnie, who is on immunotherapy, seems to be doing well. She was distraught when she first was diagnosed with brain cancer. Now that it seems to have been halted, at least for a while, she tries hard to enjoy every day as much as possible. Good for her. I also had a lengthy conversation with another woman, She worked in the legislative bill room while the Coastal Act was going through the process. Later, while working for a workman’s comp. company, she retained one of the attorneys from my firm for some legal work. This is another example of the “small world” aspect of coincidence. She also told me that one of Senator Henry Mello’s sons often attends the coffee but was not there today.

After that, I left again for the Golden Hills and picked up HRM, Jake, and Kaleb and drove to Placerville where we had lunch before I dropped them off at “Joe’s Skate Park.” While they were skating the cement hills of the park, I nosed around through some of Placerville’s shops. Later on the way back to EDH, the chattered on about their excitement over starting high school. I tried to leave them with Pookie’s Ten Cent Words of Wisdom for Adolescents by explaining that their high school years would be among the most memorable of their lives, but they should understand that because this is the time in one’s life most open to deep feelings and emotions inevitably they would find some things as bad as they had ever experienced before but they needed to know and remember that they will pass. Pretty mundane if you ask me.

The next day, was Ice Cream by the Pool Day where many of those who attend the Saturday Morning Coffee sat around the pool, ate ice cream and talked. Naida and I had an enjoyable conversation with Winnie about life and loves past. On the way back to the house we ran into the new neighbor who had worked for Lehman Brothers and now sells memberships in some sort of a travel club. He told us the man who had moved into the other side of us (The one who tried to chat up Naida) used to be an immigration lawyer in the Bronx. Small world indeed.

On Monday, I picked up HRM and Jake after school and took them to lunch. Alas, they wanted to go to Chick’a’fil which I am trying to boycott because of their support of Trump and their stance on LGBT. I decided to remain silent about political issues and went with them.

This morning, Naida and I woke-up and began chatting to each other about our dreams. We had both dreamt about summing up our lives, our successes, and failures. She on the difficulties, successes, and failures of being a woman trying to make her way in the world and me about the places I have been and the things that I have seen and the places and things I would never see and experience.

So, now it is time to travel again to the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion.

Take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

In an effort to keep my mind from obsessing on the state of the world which I am convinced is rapidly approaching the end of times and away from trashy novels and old movies, I sometimes like to dwell for a bit on why things are like they are. No, not why did Trump get elected or why is the environment in a terminal tailspin, but the bigger picture like, is there a general rule explaining the why? Sort of like a thought experiment. Not because I expect to come up with any general principles of use to anyone, but only to amuse myself and then forget.

Let’s take agar in a Petri Dish. Place something in it like cells, bacteria or whatever and if properly prepared and some outside source of energy, such as light, is added, they grow and grow until either an external event occurs to halt the growth or they consume the agar and die. Life on earth is a bit like life in a Petri Dish, just add some light and the life grows until it consumes all that it feeds on and dies. But life on earth has lasted for billions of years and hasn’t consumed the resources that sustained it. Well, perhaps once or twice it consumed one or more of the resources necessary for its survival and it died in one or more of the five or six mass extinctions earth experienced. So what?

In Harvard, a young physicist/mathematician postulated that life is a mathematical formula and can (will) occur always and everywhere. It is probably true for the organic compounds necessary for life as we conceive it, but others who have studied this seem to believe that to go from organic compounds to bacteria or to eukaryotes requires a very unique environment such as certain deep ocean thermal vents with a complex composition. This is all well and good, but we need some generalization as to “what is life” to help make things clearer.

Schrodinger back in 1944 postulated that life is something small in size and permanent in time (crystals he believed at the time). Watson and Crick proved this up except instead of a crystal they discovered it was a complex molecule (DNA). In order to maintain that life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, Schrodinger seems to argue that the biosphere is not an isolated system because the cost of this order is the release of heat into the environment and the capture of free energy mostly from the sun.

This I found interesting and helpful. When coupled with the fact that many believe the biosphere extends as a band from somewhere below the surface of the lithosphere (ground) up until it dissipates somewhere near the stratosphere, it helps me to explore a possible concept on which I believed I could replace my uninformed uncertainty with dogmatic bias.
(to be continued if I feel up to it)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

The following continues the reproduction of the entries in my diary from 1963 that I had begun in the previous T&T post. It also includes my current comments and clarifications on the entries.
January 9, 1963

Today started well. I saw some of the prettiest women on the subway this morning. Fatigue, however, from lack of sleep dulled my whole afternoon. I even cut class so that I could come home early and rest.

I am falling behind in my studies. I do not think I will finish Introduction to Law by exam time.

(All this worry about the exams turned out to be just my usual flight into hysteria. In fact, when the exam results came out, I placed second in the class. This convinced me law school was a snap, so I began cutting class and ignoring my studies. I even arrived drunk to my spring partnership exam. As a result after the spring exams, I almost flunked out. From then on I tried to get back on top but, at best, my marks were undistinguished. I went on to be a very mediocre attorney, but a better than average advocate.)

 

January 10, 1963

I received a letter from Tad. He really is in the Army. All along, I thought he was pulling one of his frauds again. His vocabulary has gone Army.

He wrote about meeting Suzi, Kevin’s old girlfriend, in Washington on New Year’s. She told him that I was “harmless.” Maybe I am. Nevertheless, no man should take such a blow to his devoutly cultivated reputation lying down. I need to get of a few defamations about her and her girlfriends. I need to write back to Tad soon.

On a brighter note, I got nine more girls to sign up for the trip to Bermuda.

My studies are still going poorly and I am concerned.

My parents had another argument tonight. They tried to use me as a mediator. I refused hoping to avoid trouble. No such luck, I ended up in trouble anyway for refusing.

(Tad was one of those Georgetown boys (like Justice Kavanaugh), a trouble maker and carouser with a strange, to me at least, sense of morality (more a doctrinaire commitment to ritual than a sophisticated understanding of ethics). He was also a close friend. He was one of a group of students I hung with including Pat Buchanan and the entire Buchanan clan as well as David Hearne, one of the Irish ambassador’s sons who a decade later made headlines by running over an elderly pedestrian with his car and claiming diplomatic immunity to avoid liability. The oldest of the ambassador’s sons, Maury, was a compulsive gambler. Bob, my roommate at the time (and later manager of Prince, The Lovin Spoonful, and Earth, Wind, and Fire among others) and I used to make some extra change indulging Maury’s passion by fleecing him at a crooked card game in our rooms. He knew it was crooked but didn’t seem to mind. Later, Maury died by shooting himself while practicing quickdraws with a loaded pistol from a shoulder holster.

We all spent a lot of time together drinking, fighting, general carousing, and very little studying and going to class. We ran Pat for his first office, president of the off-campus student government. We cheated and he won (that’s a long story). I had always believed Pat, who I considered both violent and nuts, would end up in the electric chair. Imagine my surprise when a decade or so later, I was sitting in the American Embassy in Rome on election night and hearing that he was Nixon’s speechwriter (another Zelig moment). Anyway, back to Tad, I persuaded a young woman (an heiress from New Jersey) to give Tad another chance after she told him she never wanted to see him again because he had done something unconscionable which he often was wont to do. They eventually married. She regretted it bitterly until about 20 years later when she got it together enough to throw him out. Sometime later, I ran into her mom (a woman who had born 12 children and always claimed that bearing 12 kids had made her certifiably insane) somewhere in New Jersey. She blamed me for ruining her daughter’s life.

Place it all somewhere in Italy in the Fifteenth Century, add a few poisoning and a sword fight or two, and it would all be quite Shakespearean, don’t you think?)

 

January 11, 1963.

I met with the study group immediately after class today.

I wrote a return letter to Tad containing a defense to Suzi’s slander, and a few other absurdities.

The study session pissed me off today. I thought I knew enough but I often was bewildered, muddled, and wrong. I hope this does not happen during the exams.

I must get in touch with Pat and push him to promote the trip to Puerto Rico at Hunter College.

Dammit, I must make an extra effort at my studies.

Today, I learned that “Twentieth Century” is doing a program on “Winnie” Churchill (My sort of friend from College) as a “typical” Rhodes Scholar. He is anything but typical — ego-centric yes. Nevertheless, I am glad to learn that at least one of my classmates is making it.

(Winnie had been my classmate and not so friendly competitor at Fordham. I have written about him before (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/category/winnie-and-i/). He was a scion of the American side of the famous English family.

While I was attending law school, I also had a business chartering airplanes and flying college students to Bermuda and Puerto Rico for Spring Break. A few years before I had broken the IATA rule that no airplane could be chartered except by an organization whose members traveling on the proposed flight had been members for over six months prior to the retention of the charter. I broke it by simply attesting that the members had been such for six months. I then walked out of the airline office and backdated their membership cards when I sold them their tickets. This loophole in the rule eventually permitted the establishment of charter airline services with often disastrous results. In 1963, I had chartered four airplanes, two for Bermuda and two for Puerto Rico. The travel agency I was working with took the profit on the lodging and me on whatever I could make on the sale of tickets on the planes.)

 

January 12, 1963.

I met with the study group again today. It was a bore. I wonder if any of the others in the group will make it. T. Russo, A. Shifler, O. Shimshidian, G. Cantarella, N. Guarneri, J. Little, and M. Ryan. It will be interesting to watch them develop.

I got into a fight today with one of the Burns Guards.

(Tony flunked out of law school. Al graduated. I do not know what happened to him. Ora became a highly respected admiralty attorney in NY. Gino graduated. I do not know what happened to him either. Nunzio who looked a lot like Arnold Stang, graduated and became a small-town lawyer and lived in Bronxville, I think. John graduated, practiced law in JAG, and spent a lot of time acting in summer stock. Mike, I have no idea what happened to him.

I do not recall the fight with the Burns Guard or whether it was a fistfight or just an argument. Could have been either.)
January 13, 1963.

I was not going to write anything here today for lack of anything interesting to write about, but, this evening, I just finished an argument with both my mother and my father.

It all began with an argument with my mother that started when she asked me to continue teaching her how to drive. I tried to explain to her that because we are family when one of us takes up the role of teacher to another, tensions resulting in arguments often result as they had in my previous attempts to teach her how to drive. My efforts to explain this failure. I tripped over my words and became more and more frustrated.

Mom responded by claiming “no one in this family was willing to sacrifice for her.” With that dad jumped in stating that he had paid fifty dollars for her driving lessons.

I then came in on mom’s side and, of course, dad and I then became combatants. He suggested that I leave. I responded, “perhaps we both should.” I obviously botched the whole argument so I stormed off to my room. Mom and dad then went at it again at the top of their lungs. Dad threatened to leave home.

(As you can guess by now my parents argued a lot. Years later after they retired, and I brought them to California from the East Coast to live in my house. My father achieved a bit of local renown for, after some of their more passionate arguments, running out onto San Francisco’s Douglass Street, the street in front of the house, and with arms raised to the heavens screaming, “Why me God? Why Me?”)

 

January 14, 1963

Today I listened to the President’s State of the Union Address. I don’t think there has been someone who could speak lime him since Churchill. At a time as dangerous and confused by crises, he speaks with the power and conviction of the greatest orators of the past.

I wonder if the last phrase of the speech could be stricken by the Supreme Court. He said, “… with the help of almighty God we shall prevail.”

I think he is the right man at the right time. He seems to have begun to turn back the advance of communist totalitarianism and may be leading the US to victory in the Cold War.(As Churchill and Roosevelt, Lincoln, Wilson, and Washington led us in prior wars against totalitarianism.)

As far as the material content of the message is concerned, it appears to be only a general summary of the Domestic and International situation. The only new point relates to the Tax-Cuts that appear, after listening to the commentators, to not be the ones that had been expected, but Tax-cuts that were more acceptable to the public.

 

(The President referred to of course is JFK. A few years before, I worked parking cars at his marriage to Jackie. RFK left the ceremonies to personally thank each one of us for helping out. I always looked at RFK as someone special after that.)
(More in a few weeks)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

In the dark alleyways of history, a woman alone is always prey.

Dress a woman in man’s clothing and she can safely negotiate those dank streets. A man in a dress will be shocked at his own vulnerability.

A woman’s option is to either submit or band together with other women to rule over men. This means, for their own protection, women must control at least one of a society’s social mores, economic power or political leadership.

 

B. Today’s Poem:
Given the events of the recent weeks in the United States, the massacres of innocents by White Nationalists, the abandonment of the fight against climate change, shredding of protections against nuclear holocaust and the looting of the national treasury, this poem by William Butler Yeats captures the dread we in America feel at this time as well as it did one hundred years ago. Then the slouching beast crept towards Berlin. Today its claws grip the heart of our nation while the worst in our citizens march into our cities and towns, our schools and shops our churches, synagogues, and mosques full of passionate intensity and carrying assault weapons.

The Second Coming
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born
.
William Butler Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He belonged to the Protestant, Anglo-Irish minority that had controlled the economic, political, social, and cultural life of Ireland since at least the end of the 17th century. Most members of this minority considered themselves English people who happened to have been born in Ireland, but Yeats was staunch in affirming his Irish nationality. Although he lived in London for 14 years of his childhood (and kept a permanent home there during the first half of his adult life), Yeats maintained his cultural roots, featuring Irish legends and heroes in many of his poems and plays. He was equally firm in adhering to his self-image as an artist. This conviction led many to accuse him of elitism, but it also unquestionably contributed to his greatness. As fellow poet W.H. Auden noted in a 1948 Kenyon Review essay entitled “Yeats as an Example,” Yeats accepted the modern necessity of having to make a lonely and deliberate “choice of the principles and presuppositions in terms of which [made] sense of his experience.” Auden assigned Yeats the high praise of having written “some of the most beautiful poetry” of modern times.
(www.poetryfoundation.org/)

 

C. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:
1. Naida says she never told the tale of the giraffes and the acacia trees that appeared in the preview T&T post. She said it was me who told the story after reading one of my books about trees that talk to one another. Although, I apologize if in fact, it was me that made up the story. Nevertheless, I refuse to change it as written.

2. Terry, I think, also wrote that I had made a mistake about something, but I no longer remember what. So, I apologize both for the mistake and my failure to remember what it was about.

3. Over the last month or so, I have not responded to a number of e-mails from readers of T&T. I am not sure why I failed to do so. To those whose emails I have not responded I apologize and promise I will try to do better in the future.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“It was the best of crimes, it was the worst of crimes; it was born of love, it was spawned by greed; it was completely unplanned, it was coldly premeditated; it was an open-and-shut case, it was a locked-room mystery; it was the act of a guileless girl, it was the work of a scheming scoundrel; it was the end of an era, it was the start of an era; a man with the face of a laughing boy reigned in Washington, a man with the features of a lugubrious hound ruled in Westminster; an ex-Marine got a job at a Dallas book repository, an ex-Minister of War lost a job in politics; a group known as the Beatles made their first million, a group known as the Great Train Robbers made their first two million; it was the time when those who had fought to save the world began to surrender it to those they had fought to save it for; Dixon of Dock Green was giving way to Z-Cars, Bond to Smiley, the Monsignors to the Maharishis, Matt Dillon to Bob Dylan, l.s.d. to LSD, as the sunset glow of the old Golden Age imploded into the psychedelic dawn of the new Age of Glitz. It was the Year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and it is altogether fitting that this crime of which we speak should have been committed in one of Yorkshire’s great country houses, Mickledore Hall, and that its dénouement should have taken place in that most traditional of settings, the Old Library …”
Hill, Reginald. Recalled to Life . MysteriousPress.com/Open Road.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Screenshot_20190810-123722_Gallery
The Old Sailor, Deep-sea Diver, World Traveler, Pirate, Treasure Hunter, and Raconteur Getting Acupuncture.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Joe 0008. (July 24, 2019)

“Stop, these are my people too.”
Statement by a white male directed to a group of other white males tormenting some Americans of South Asian descent with shouts of “Go back the country you came from.”
UBUNTU

 

 

Happy Birthday to my beloved sister Maryann and to her son Brendan.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

On Wednesday morning, I helped Naida take her books to the booth at the State Fair. Many other authors were there also checking in. I got to meet several of them. They were a friendly lot. They all asked me whether I had written a book. When I told them I had not, they insisted I get on with it and write one — then they tried to sell me their books. One woman had been an opera singer who had lived in Florence for a while. She writes books about tales she picked up while living there. We discussed, in Italian, things Italian.

IMG_6468

 

I left the fair and drove off to Peter and Barrie’s home in the City by the Bay.

 

 

B. A BRIEF SOJOURN IN THE CITY BY THE BAY:

 

 

Soon after my arrival at Peter and Barrie’s house and following a brief discussion with them on the state of the world and of our health, I took a nap. That evening, we went out to dinner at Bacco’s, a local upscale Italian restaurant, and enjoyed a delightful meal. I had gnocchi as I usually do when I go there. I think they prepare the best gnocchi of any restaurant I have tried in Northern California. After the meal, we spoke a while with the hostess an Asian-American woman who is co-owner of the place along with her husband, a native Italian immigrant. We shared memories of Italy and discussed good food and the high prices of everything in the Big Endive. I began eating at that restaurant when I lived in that neighborhood over forty-years-ago before the current owners bought it from the original proprietor. The quality of the food remained high over all those years, but the prices have climbed even higher.

The next morning, I said goodbye to Peter, Barrie, and Ramsey and set off to the UCSF complex on Divisadero. I had my immunotherapy infusion there. That was followed by a CT scan which, after it is analyzed, will tell me whether the immunotherapy is keeping cancer in check. If not, then it may become time to begin chanting Kaddish. I then returned to Sacramento. Usually, Naida drives most of the way, but since she was selling books at the fair, I drove myself. It was difficult to keep from nodding off and by the time I got back, I was so exhausted I went right to bed.

 

 
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The drive back and the side effects of the treatment wasted me for the next day also. After seeing Naida off to the Fair, I ate breakfast and then went back to sleep and slept dreamlessly until mid-afternoon. I then ate lunch, walked the dog, typed this, and returned to bed.

I do not recall how many days have passed since I last wrote here, one or two or maybe more. Today, Naida again is off to the State Fair and the authors’ booth selling her books. I spent most of the day in front of the television following the coverage of He Who Is Not My President’s racist attack on the “Squad,” the four first-term Congresspersons and women of color. One commentator on CNN had what to me was the most interesting observation when he pointed out the media must separate the President’s comments which were undeniably racist from the media’s tendency to concentrate on the political implications of the inevitable give and take in the responses to it.

“Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (p. 658). DAW.

More days pass. In this the time of my decrepitude, as my memory slowly shreds, I find the quiet contemplation of nothing enjoyable. In the past, I could never get into meditation or even the idea of quiet contemplation. It would irritate me. If I had nothing to do, I would prefer taking a nap, reading, throwing stones into the water, starting an argument or shouting at someone — things like that. I could not understand going so far into myself that the maelstrom of my senses, the screaming of my id or the constant preaching by that little voice within that is always with us would go silent and somehow that would make me better, happier. If there were not something out there in the world around me upsetting me or demanding my attention, I don’t think I could feel completely alive — Now, however, not so much. Now, when I sit on a bench along some path in the Enchanted Forest, the dog laying and panting at my feet, I smile, confident that whatever harangue or flight of fancy the voice within me obsess on, it soon will be forgotten. That thought cheers me up now. Perhaps your inner voice enjoys happy talk. Good for you. Mine, alas, is a complainer. Always telling me how I screwed up or how I would fail at what I planned on doing. I guess for me, I should consider it one of the few upsides to my decrepitude.

Today I felt quite chipper so Naida and I set off for the State Fair. It was not her day to man (woman) the Authors’ booth so I felt a bit bad asking her to join me. I had never been to the fairgrounds when it was open, so I was eager to see what it was like. We parked in the employee-exhibitor parking lot, crossed over the levee that separated the parking lot from the fair and entered the fairgrounds.

During the past decade the State Fair, like most of the county fairs in California, has suffered a long decline in attendance, revenue, and public interest caused in part by the decline in family farms over the past forty years, and the more recent changes in the public’s entertainment preferences.

The size of the fairgrounds surprised me — it is huge. There is a number of very large two and three-story buildings scattered helter-skelter around the site. Some are barns where the animals are kept and judged, others contain stores, various booths like the authors’ booth and indoor exhibits such as the school children’s art and the handicraft competitions. There are two separate carnival sites with rides and the like. There are several large entertainment venues, a race track, a raging waters swimming complex and much more. All of it cannot be visited in one day — seen perhaps but not enjoyed. We had a good time visiting the cattle shed, viewing the pygmy goats, browsing through the stores, spending some time at the authors’ booth, eating a lot of odd food, examining some of the arts and crafts exhibitions and watching a juggling show at one of the other outdoor theaters. Alas, our age caught up with us and by the late afternoon, exhausted, we stumbled back to the parking lot, drove home and collapsed onto our reclining chairs.

IMG_6498IMG_6480IMG_6502.jpgIMG_6474_2IMG_6510

 

I am becoming used to old age. And by old age, I do not mean that time when you first realize you are getting old and tired, and feeling creepy and irritable. Rather, I think of old age as when you can no longer see your use-by date in your rearview mirror; your diminished memory ceases to be an amusing irritant and you find hours and whole days lost from recall; and you become acutely aware that you suffer from some dread disease that may or may not soon kill you. Although most of the experience is not something you would tell to your grandchildren as bed-time stories, old-age has a surprising upside. No, the upside is not that it all may soon be over. Nor is it that strangers sometimes go out of their way to be helpful to you in your decrepitude. (I used to hate that. When some younger person would, for example, hold the door for me, I used to want to brain him with my cane. Now, I smile. Not because I admire the gallantry, but because I feel I am getting away with something.) No, I find something else pleasing about getting very old.

When we were younger the good is usually good while it lasts while the bad only too often piles up on our backs growing heavier and heavier until we either die or experience some form of psychological surgery. Youthful love is thrilling, but when it is over it often becomes merely a gossamer of a memory. A broken heart, on the other hand, often lasts forever. The tattered memories of old age, at least in my case, allow me to forget the bad, the good too, but I always have. So, I find myself, as a whole, happier.

Old Age also allows me to be garrulous. I should be embarrassed but I am not. I amuse myself knowing the person reading or listening to my endless patter does so for the same reason as the younger person who holds the door for me. On the other hand, if they don’t, I am miffed — another benefit of old age — the ability to get away with childish behavior while knowing we are no longer children.

Having read the above three paragraphs, I realize I have too much time on my hands. Rather than erasing it and saving myself from embarrassment, I think I will walk the dog and sit on the bench for a while.

I did and I feel better now, so I turned on the Rachel Maddow Show.

A few days later, Naida and I set off for the Fair to deliver some copies of her books. It was a hot day. We parked in the exhibitor parking lot, loaded a box of books on a hand-truck and set off for the Authors’ Booth about a mile away. We passed the animal barns and judging pens. I could not see which animal species were being judged that day, but I certainly could smell them and see their droppings everywhere we walked. After we dropped off the books and headed back to the car I felt faint. I had not eaten lunch. It was now four in the afternoon. Happily others appeared from somewhere to assist me whenever I seemed to stagger a bit and Naida demonstrated, once again, that women are more capable and robust than men by guiding me back to the car, providing liquid refreshment, and after we got home serving me a nice dinner while I sat like an ancient salami in my favorite chair.

I watched Fritz Lang’s “How The City Sleeps” with Dana Andrews, George Sanders, Thomas Mitchell and Howard Duff pirouetting drunkenly through the noir movie. (yes they all were, much to Lang’s distress, often dead drunk when they arrived on the set.) It was set in NY or Chicago I couldn’t tell which.

Then we went to bed. While lying there, I described to Naida an article I had read recently about Vikings.

Apparently, sometime between the ninth and eleventh centuries, an Arab traveler had, during his journey, visited a Viking tribe living in what is now northwest Russia. He wrote about his voyages especially the time he spent with the Vikings. He considered them savages. He observed that the Viking warriors were generally drunk from morning to night. He described seeing a drunken warrior die in front of him while drinking a cup of dark ale or whatever. He wrote at length about the horrid funeral rituals performed at the death of their chieftains. It was no Hollywood production featuring a craggy-faced Kirk Douglas lying on his boat with his sword clutched to his chest and fire tipped arrows arching gracefully through the blue-black evening sky while loud brassy classical music blares in the background. No, not at all. It was ten days of slaughter, rape, drunkenness, and savagery. The chieftain was buried temporarily for ten days while his burial clothing was made. The tribe divided his property — one-third to his family, one-third to the other chieftains to pay for his funeral and one-third to be cremated with him. One or more of female slaves were chosen to be raped multiple times every day by the surviving chieftains. On the tenth day, his body was exhumed, dressed and laid on his boat along with his wealth and his weapons. Dogs and horses were slaughtered, carved up and thrown onto the boat containing the chieftains cadaver. Then the slave girl was raped again multiple times by the chieftains, dragged by her hair to the boat, her throat cut, and her body thrown onto the vessel to lie there with the bodies of the chieftain, the dogs, horses, other slaughtered slaves and the chieftains wealth while it is all set ablaze. True or not, quite an image.

After I finished, Naida recited a portion of a poem by Longfellow:

“While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft
The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn
Blew the foam lightly.

“There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”
Thus the tale ended.”

A little later, she reminded me that we had not taken our evenings dose of pills. We then each took the multitude of pills and medicines that are the sad lot of the aged and downed them with water. After I finished drinking my glass of water, for no apparent reason but terminal silliness, I decided to sing:

Keep a-movin’ Dan, don’t you listen to him Dan, he’s a devil, not a man
and he spreads the burnin’ sand with water.
Dan can’t you see that big green tree where the waters runnin’ free
and it’s waiting there for me and you.
Water, cool clear water.

We sang the rest of the song together — at least those lyrics we could remember. Then we went back to bed and slept well until morning.

The following morning, Naida returned to the Fair and I spent the day wondering what I was going to do with myself. I did receive good news. The results of my most recent CT scan arrived showing no growth so far in the cancerous tumor.

Last Friday HRM messaged me that he had hurt his foot while performing some tricks on his scooter. I was not concerned, considering whatever injuries he suffered were those simple bruises that life gifts you with to warn you that you are becoming too old for some activity. Two days later upon hearing that he was still in pain, I set off to the Golden Hills to visit him and see what’s up. I found him sitting in his new bedroom fashioned out of the old family room in the basement of Dick’s house. Jake was there also and no one else. They were playing video games. He said he felt much better and could walk around now without pain.

His new room had begun to take on the aura of a teenage boy-cave. A large Bob Marley banner covered one wall. The desk against another wall by the sliding glass doors had the names of the members of what I call the Scooter Gang carved helter-skelter in the top. There were Haden and Jake of course and Kaleb, Hamza, Tyson, Ethen and a few others. Inscribed among all the other names, I was surprised to see mine there or rather my nickname, Pookie, that they all know me by. I am pleased that at 80 after a hiatus of more than 60 years, I have once again become a member of a teenage gang — well, I doubt they consider me a member, more like a mascot, I suppose.

H’s mom arrived and immediately ordered them out to get some exercise. As we left they asked me to drive them to Jake’s house where they could resume their video games and whatever else teenagers these days use to spend their time.

As with any sunset, the sunset of our lives needs a good place to sit in order to enjoy the view.

Remember to always take care of yourselves and keep on truckin.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
We should never forget, some of the guiding principles underlying fascism, Trumpism, and the religious and conservative right are:

1. “There are no facts, only ideology.”
(And, when one scrapes away the pseudo-intellectual veneer, what that ideology comes down to is “power,” how to get it, wield it, and keep it.)

2. “There is no morality only religion.”

3. “There is no compassion only transaction.”

4. “There is no love only desire.”

5. “There is no peace only order.”

6. “There is no mercy only philanthropy

7 “There is no freedom only obedience.”

8. “There is no humanity only data, assets, consumers, and laborers.”

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

This is the fourth and I hope the last post describing a critical event in the passage of the California Coastal Act over 40 years ago. The previous post ended with the Governor saying, “Well Senator what’s your problem now?”

The Senator did not answer immediately. Instead, he sat there for a moment and looked around the room as though he was searching for help. Then in response, I assume, to a signal from the undertakers, he turned back to the Governor and said, “Governor, I need some time to discuss this.”

“Take your time Senator. We’ll be right here waiting for your answer,” the Governor replied.

With that, the Senator got up out of his chair and along with the undertakers left the room. The rest of us remaining in the room broke up into small groups and the buzzing of our conversations replaced the quiet. The Governor whispered something to the Chief of staff then remained silently sitting at the table, unmoving. This struck me as a little unusual since I have always known him to be a bit of a fidgeter. I resumed conversing with our little group. We avoided talking about what had just happened neither did we speculate on what may be being discussed by the Senator and his cronies a few feet away. Instead, we passed the time in nervous small talk, about families, the weather and the like — every now and then glancing at the doors by which the conferees had left.

I no longer recall how long we stood there waiting. It could have been as much as twenty minutes to a half-hour or perhaps even more. The doors finally opened, the conferees piled back into the room, the whispering ceased and the Senator announced, “Governor, we can support the bill only with the following five non-negotiable amendments.” The Senator handed a piece of paper to the Governor.

The Governor took the paper handed to him, glanced at it briefly, turned, gave it to me, and said, “Here, can you guys live with this.”

Along with the Executive Director and the Lobbyist for the supporters of the legislation, I examined the handwritten note. As far as I could see, it appeared as though neither the Senator nor the undertakers had read the legislation through because four of the five non-negotiable demands seemed either irrelevant or covered in other parts of the bill. The fifth, however, appeared more significant. While it did not call for any material changes in regulation policies, jurisdiction or authority, it did require a significant alteration in administration, one that would need logistical changes in the operations of the agency, and, of course, more staff. Nevertheless, it was livable and in my opinion, far more detrimental to the interest groups proposing it, then to the agency forced to administer it. After reading it through at least twice, the Executive Director and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, turned back to the Governor and said more or less in unison, “We can live with this.”

At this date, I do not recall if there was a muted cheer or just a collective exhale of breath. The Governor, however, was not finished. He turned to the chief spokesman of the undertakers and said, “You heard it. Now that we have reached agreement release the rest of your votes,” and handed him the telephone.

The chief spokesman dialed the floor of the Senate which was still in session and asked to speak to a specific Senator. The Senator eventually came online. The Chief Spokesman said, “We have an agreement here. You are free to vote for the bill. You can tell the others.” The Senator responded, “Thank God” and hung up the phone. At that point, there seemed to be a release of the collective breath in the room. Handshakes and smiles broke out among almost everyone except the undertakers. The Governor did not partake in the spontaneous celebration, but following a brief word or two with the Senator and the Spokesman turned and, with the Chief of Staff in tow, strolled up the ramp and out of the room.

The Non-negotiable amendments were placed into what was referred to as a “trailer bill” and it also passed.

There you have it. After more than a decade, the efforts of thousands of people and the expenditure of millions of dollars, it all came down to a few people in a room, some lies, a bit of theater, lots of exaggeration, and a bagful of coincidence and luck. That’s often how laws are made — — like sausages, but not as sanitary.

 

 

 

TODAY’S FACTOID:

 

 
“UBUNTU” in the XHOSA culture means: “I am because we are.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 

“Usually, conspiracy theories are for losers,”
University of Miami professor Joseph Uscinski.

 

During my periodic searches through the internet for arcane and interesting (to me at least) blogs, I came across one by someone named Jason Colavito entitled interestingly ‘Jason Colavito.’ (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/). Colavito is an author and editor based in Albany NY. He specializes in the critique of authors and commentators who are crazy. At least to me, they are either crazy or dishonest. They are those people who write books or articles claiming things like, alien visitors created early human civilization, chemtrails are a deep state assault on us all, or the Illuminati conspiracy folderol is real. They use half-truths and at times outright lies in order to persuade the gullible to buy their books, alternative medicines, gold coins, computer currency, and other claptrap they may be selling.

They spring from the same fetid swamp as conspiracy theorists, patent medicine salesmen, far-right politicians, and Fox News commentators.

In a recent post entitled, “David Wilcock Claims YouTube Is Part of an Anti-Trump, Population-Reduction Plot,” he smashes into Wilcock, someone I have never heard of, like The Hulk into a building. Here is the opening paragraph of the post:

“David Wilcock hasn’t been having a very good couple of years. Only a few years ago, he was the third most prominent ancient astronaut theorist* on Ancient Aliens, behind Giorgio Tsoukalos and David Childress, and he was one of the biggest stars of the Gaia TV streaming service, which featured hundreds of hours of programming from him. He also had a lucrative line of books and DVDs and a speaking tour. But then Wilcock made the critical error of turning subtext into text. With the exception of Tsoukalos, nearly all of the Ancient Aliens crew and their colleagues are right-wingers, but they manage to keep their conservative ranting mostly confined to short asides in YouTube videos and tweets. Wilcock, on the other hand, has been outspoken in his embrace of the most extreme pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including both Pizzagate and Q-Anon, and he has proudly declared himself a recipient of Russian propaganda, which he repeats uncritically. Between this and his contentious departure from Gaia, even the brain trust behind Ancient Aliens finally cut ties with Wilcock, who has not appeared on the show since Wilcock refused to participate in their episode interviewing John Podesta, whom Wilcock considers part of an anti-Trump, child-raping alien death cult.”

 

One of the things I like about Colavito is his writing style. It is almost as bad as mine. I notice his last name, like mine, indicates an Italian heritage. As a result, like Italian prose is often written, he strings his sentences together into paragraphs of operatic magniloquence (I apologize, I could not resist). Most English speakers prefer a more leisurely and sparer style. One stretching out the story over several paragraphs — perhaps even over whole books. But I digress. Colavito continues:

As Wilcock’s platforms have collapsed around him, his claims have become more extreme as he “programs to the base” and attempts to develop a smaller but more intensely loyal audience for his self-produced products. In his latest blog post, whose six parts form a 51,000-word eBook, Wilcock has fully embraced the Q-Anon conspiracy theory, and he has extended it to the recent efforts by YouTube to clean up the video-sharing service by altering its algorithm to display fewer conspiracy theory videos. Wilcock has declared this action to be the work of the “Deep State.” “And, as we so often like and need to do,” he wrote, “this initial phase of the story will expand into a vastly more interesting mega-conspiracy as you read on.” Oh, don’t they all.

 

I like Colavito. He goes after those that hide in darkness — those conspiracy theorists, who prey on the gullible and whose success encouraged the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other purveyors of malice and hate.

More:

Over the past year or so, YouTube has come under fire from a wide range of advocacy groups and law enforcement agencies for its algorithms, which by design direct viewers to progressively more extreme content in the hope of keeping viewers watching for as long as possible. This resulted in many viewers being directed to white nationalist content, extreme conspiracy theories, and content that sexualized young children. YouTube officials took steps to reduce the prominence of this content earlier this year after a wave of negative stories in the media. They did not eliminate the content, but they made it harder to stumble across unknowingly, and they also removed advertising revenue from some videos that did not meet their decency standards.

In his massive blog post last week, Wilcock likens this action to the music industry, which he accuses of deliberately killing off rock-n-roll for nefarious reasons, leaving only … Papa Roach? “Since the 1990s, there has been little to no financing, development, promotion or exposure of new rock bands of any real prominence, other than a handful of examples like Papa Roach,” he wrote, nonsensically. I hesitate even to begin to think about what is going on inside Wilcock’s head, particularly since we know that he remains fixated on what he called his traumas and mental illness during his adolescence in the 1990s, as he chronicled in The Ascension Mysteries. This might seem like a laughably silly digression on Wilcock’s part, but one of his overarching if wrongheaded themes is that pro- and anti-alien conspiracy theorists use popular culture products to deliver secret messages to the public. He typically associates this with science fiction movies and TV shows (he believes the series finale of Game of Thrones was a psy-op conspiracy, for example), but here he extends the idea to music acts beloved by himself and his father, a onetime music critic. Music he doesn’t like becomes part of an evil conspiracy. In this case, he follows some conspiracy theories suggesting that elites purposely designed hip-hop to promote criminal behavior in order to oppress African Americans.

 

Colavito ends his post with:

 

The last third of his blog post / eBook endorses every bizarre aspect of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory and then attempts to link it to Tom DeLonge and To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which he sees as fighting a battle against the Deep State to reveal the truth about … well, not quite UFOs. Wilcock picks up on DeLonge’s embrace of the ancient astronaut theory to argue that the real truth is that space aliens are also fallen angels and that they had an outpost in Atlantis from which they meddled in human affairs, sort of like super-Russians plotting a thousand Trumps.

It’s all too much, really. The volume of his conspiracy theories is mind-numbing, but the ease with which he abandons his supposed beliefs as soon as they become inconvenient is all too typical. He believes that he has a right to have major corporations promote his belief that they are all run by child-raping demon aliens, and he is mad that the corporations have decided not to put up with him anymore.

On a sadder note, Wilcock said that he has “very few acquaintances” apart from his family, his manager, and his “creative team.” That he describes none of them as friends is perhaps sadder than realizing that there is a “creative team” behind his seemingly dada verbal diarrhea.

 

I bet you never knew something like this existed in the dark underbelly of our nation. An entire industry of deranged lunatics crawling through the sewers of America desperately hoping to infect the rest of us with their peculiar derangement.

I regret that only a few lonely difficult to read and understand commentators like Colavito confront these people in their dank dens. Respectable pundits seem to shy away from challenging them. Perhaps they dismiss them as irrelevant. Perhaps they are embarrassed to engage with those they consider absurd and dishonest. Nevertheless, we should never overlook the fact that almost every pernicious, fascist and violence provoking political movement begins with those in the shadows whispering make-believe conspiracies and specious histories to the gullible and poorly informed.

* Is third most prominent ancient astronaut theorist something one would, or should, aspire to? For that matter, is first?

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Conspiracy theories are the improper application of correlation to causation developed usually by those with pecuniary or malicious intent and designed for consumption by the ignorant, naive, and foolish.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 
This poem is very close to my heart. It is written in a poetic form called Villanelle, a rather complex rarely used poetic format. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

A villanelle, also known as villanesque, is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately at the end of each subsequent stanza until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form. The word derives from Latin, then Italian, and is related to the initial subject of the form being the pastoral.

Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” also is written in that form.

My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night
BY ANTHONY LAWRENCE

My darling turns to poetry at night.
What began as flirtation, an aside
Between abstract expression and first light

Now finds form as a silent, startled flight
Of commas on her face — a breath, a word …
My darling turns to poetry at night.

When rain inspires the night birds to create
Rhyme and formal verse, stanzas can be made
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.
My darling turns to poetry at night.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her dreams have night vision, and in her sight
Our bodies leave ghostprints on the bed.
My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

 

 

D. Mopey’s Musings:

 
Terry suggested I read an article that examined storytelling and death. I post portions of it here in order to include it in my morning contemplations about what it is I should be doing now.

“I began to wonder whether the secret to a good death wasn’t looking forward, but peering backward — whether retrospective examination might be more therapeutic than prospective preparation. I thought of how often I’d focused solely on helping patients navigate the future: how many weeks or months of life they might expect, which procedures they should or shouldn’t consider. These discussions, while important, fail to address what research has revealed about the deeper wants and needs of seriously ill patients.”

“Nearly 20 years ago, a seminal study in the Journal of the American Medical Association explored what patients and doctors feel is most important at the end of life. Many responses were predictable and consistent across groups. Both doctors and patients, for example, thought it was important to maintain dignity, control pain and other symptoms, and have one’s financial affairs in order.”

“But where physicians and patients diverged is telling — and suggests both a missed opportunity and a path to progress.”

“Patients were far more likely to express that it was important to feel that their life was complete, to be at peace with God and to help others in some way.”

“In other words, to feel that their lives mattered.”

“A growing body of work suggests that a powerful but underused method of creating this sense of mattering is storytelling — reflecting on the past and creating a narrative of one’s life, what it has meant, who you’ve become and why…”

“In a 2018 study, researchers assigned veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to engage in either five 30-minute writing sessions in which they reflected on traumatic experiences, or a rigorous 12-week program of cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a first-line treatment for PTSD. The study found that the short writing sessions were just as effective at reducing PTSD symptoms as the resource-intensive CPT program.”

“Other work suggests that the particulars of storytelling matter. Simply looking back and listing life events doesn’t seem to help. It is the constructing of a narrative — exploring linkages, formulating a plotline — that’s critical for arriving at a coherent sense of self…”

So that has been what I have been up to for the past 10 years — writing T&T and preparing to die. I guess that beats obsessing about it — although I do that too.

 
E. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:

 

I have two apologies, regrets and humiliations from my previous post:

1. In that post, I wrote that Naida’s book was titled “Girl of the West.” I was totally embarrassed when she pointed out to me that the name of the book that I had been working on with her these past few months is actually called, “Daughter of the West.” I regret the error and apologize to her and to everyone else I may have misled.

2. Also, Madelyn Glickfeld pointed out that in the story about the passage of the Coastal Act, I wrote that Mr. West’s request that “In the future, you don’t have to call, a letter or email will do,” could not be correct because email was not in use back then. She is correct. I recall West mentioning a letter and something else. Email was obviously not it. I will correct it in the final version. I apologize, regret the mistake and am, once again, humiliated.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Next time he asks, have Lisa tell him that I’m no longer human. And that is why I cannot sleep with anyone any longer. Have you ever seen statistical theory making out with Newton’s first law of motion?”
Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. Vita Nostra. Harper Voyager.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

united-states-gdp-per-capita-ppp-1

 

GDP PER CAPITA IN US SINCE 1990.

This chart demonstrates that at least from the 1980s, and probably all the way back to the 1940s or 50s, Democratic presidents replacing a Republican administration have received declining economies upon their taking office. As a result, they spend the first years or so of their presidency turning the economy around. Having successfully revived the economy, the Democratic administration then passes the now healthy economy on to their Republican successors, who promptly cut taxes for the rich, take credit for the health of the economy and then when the economy collapses again pass it on to their Democratic successors who then must concentrate on rehabilitating the economy rather than on the social programs on which they ran for election. This is no way to run a country.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Capt. Coast 0008 (April 20, 2019)

 

“[R]estraint is a sign of weakness.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Joy! Auntie Poldi has returned — finally (See Book Report below). I cannot resist posting here the magnificently exuberant and perhaps shameless bit of overwriting with which the author begins his novel:

“Although in the past few months Poldi had temporarily thwarted death thanks to solving her handyman Valentino’s murder, her romantic encounter with Vito Montana (Polizia di Stato’s chief inspector in charge of homicide cases), her friendship with her neighbours Valérie and sad Signora Cocuzza, my aunts’ efforts and, last but not least, her own love of the chase, we all know the way of the world: peace reigns for a while, the worst seems to be over, the sun breaks through the clouds, the future beckons once more, your cigarette suddenly tastes good again, the air hums with life and the whole world becomes a congenial place pervaded by whispers of great things to come. A simply wonderful, wonderful, universally familiar sensation. And then, like a bolt from the blue, pow! Not that anyone has seen it coming, but the wind changes. Fate empties a bucket of excrement over your head, chuckling as it does so, and all you can think is “Wow, now I really need a drink!” And the whole shitty process starts again from scratch. So it was no wonder my aunts became alarmed when Poldi still had no running water after two weeks and Lady was murdered. No doubt about it, the wind had changed and the ice was growing steadily thinner.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

It is Saturday morning and time for the weekly Saturday Morning Coffee Hour at the Nepenthe Club House. The Club House is nestled in a corner of the Enchanted Forest a short distance from our home. Under a bleak sky, Naida and I walked there along the meandering pathways that run beneath the flowering trees and bushes — I, leaning heavily on my fake shillelagh cane, and Naida gaily reciting some long poem by Longfellow or now and then breaking out into a few stanzas of song.

By the time we arrived, I had become so dizzy from the exertion of the walk, I plopped down on the sofa in the hope that the merry-go-round in my head would soon subside. Naida busied herself assembling coffee and various pastries.

Sitting around on a circle of chairs were the usual attendees at these weekly get-togethers: the Leader of course, the spy, Billie the cute woman, the artist, Big Bill, the short-haired lady, Good Old Dave who looks like someone named Dave should look, Silent Gordon, Jan who selflessly scuttles around making sure the place is set up and we all have our coffee and name tags, and a few others. The woman who suffers from what appears to be CP arrived a bit later and settled herself by the large fireplace.

When we all were in place with our coffee and pastry, our leader, Ginnie, rang the little bell she carries around with her and began making her announcements — where this months TGIF would be held, the date of the Take Me Out to the Ballgame Party, and various other housekeeping items. She then announced it was Jan and Good Old Dave’s birthdays. Jan brought out a cake and we all sang Happy Birthday. Then with the announcements over everyone got down to talking to one another other except for Young Silent Gordon who stared morosely at the floor and me.

I decided to slowly examine the other attendees in an effort to understand better why I am beginning to become so fond of these Saturday morning gatherings. I did not reach any conclusion on that but I did notice that Billie the Cute Woman seemed to be the most fashionably dressed, from her patent leather flats, to her tight black leather pants, to her poncho-like black and white buttonless jacket, black sweater, and large golden outline of a heart hanging from a chain around her neck. Her fingernails were colored a light gold to match her jewelry. The rest of us were dressed in sports or casual outfits except for Naida who sported a smashing tight multi-colored blouse.

Good Old Dave told us his father owned the historic hotel in Murphy’s. Naida told him about a book she had read, The Black Sun of the Miwok, a collection of six stories about the deaths of the last six Miwok in the area, one of which tales was set in the hotel. Unfortunately, the book is no longer in print after several Native-American groups objected to it because it focuses on how the miners and settlers ridiculed the death and suffering of those individuals.

Sunday — the wet weather departed for a day or two restored the sun to the sky, cleared the air and drove the annual Great Valley spring pollen assault into hiding. The flowering bushes and trees in the backyard are in full bloom.
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Backyard in Full Bloom.

 

Monday morning — it is hydration day. I sit in my comfortable reclining chair typing this while saline solution slowly drips into my arm. The sun is out. Naida hard at work on her computer prepares the version of her memoir that will be sent to the printers. The dog, freshly bathed, naps on the chair next to me. What’s not to like?

On Tuesday, my urologist informed me my plumbing showed no immediate threats to my current existence. I ate a hot dog and drank a root-beer float for lunch. After lunch, I washed the car. I apologize, but as one approaches 80 years of age, days like this are what passes for excitement. I look forward to tomorrow. I get my hearing tested.

I got my hearing tested and ordered new hearing aids this morning. This made me happy. At my age, it does not take much to make me happy. I also saw it all as a bit of adventure. For we Vecchi, little things often seem more significant than they are — sort of like a form of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AiWS). In addition to finding little things a big deal, I now often see minor events as great adventures. On the other hand, perhaps, I always did.

After my adventure with the certified audiologist, I drove into the Golden Hills, now a lovely green due to all the spring rains. The sun was out and the clouds were bunched up high on the Sierras like Miracle Whip on an ice cream Sunday. I picked up HRM and the Scooter Gang, Jake, Caleb, and Hamza at the Skatepark. After a brief stop at Dick’s house for some mysterious reason, I then dropped them off at Caleb’s — but not before urging them not to get into too much trouble although listening to them talk it seems they are well into the adolescent we versus them syndrome. Yes, I worry. Teenage alienation is not just a fact of life but also a concern for the adults involved.

This morning while I was lying in bed trying to decide if it was worth getting up, my eyes fell on a small red diary that lay among the books littering the floor at the side of my bed. I had kept this diary way back in 1960. Strangely, given the number of times in my life when I rid myself of everything I had accumulated, it is one of the two things I have retained from more than a few years ago. How it survived for almost 60 years I do not know.

The diary details an almost one-year relationship I had with a woman. Strangely, the woman’s name does not appear in the diary. I was clearly in love with her, at least as much as a callow 19-year-old can be, and perhaps she was in love with me also. Alas, like most of us at that age, I believed I knew all that I needed to know about life and love.

We met in January and our relationship ended the following December. According to the diary, much of my preoccupation that year was the conflict, in my mind at least, between my affection for her and my anguish over the fact that she had a three-year-old child and was Jewish. While in retrospect, I could berate myself for my shallowness, but this happened almost 60 years ago and I had lived my life until then within a relatively closed Catholic Italian-immigrant society and had little experience with much outside that culture. But that is not what I pondered this morning. You see, I had no recollection of that year, not her, not my name, not my anguish — not anything.

If someone does not remember something does that mean it does not exist? Does it then return to existence if one suddenly recalls it? Does everything we experience somehow exist in our subconscious or some configuration of our neurons? I spent perhaps an hour this morning contemplating those questions until the dog started barking at the garbage truck as it passed by on its rounds and I began to feel a desperate need for my morning coffee.

On Friday, I, once again drove into the Golden (Green?) Hills to pick up HRM and Jake. H told me his mom did not want him traveling with me during his spring break, We had planned a trip to Portland to visit Naida’s son who works assisting a noted sculptor, Bruce West, another Naida relative. There he was to be introduced to high-quality welding, something he was eager to learn. After that, we had planned to travel to Sun Valley Idaho so that he could get in a day or two snowboarding. Then a few days at a large cattle range in Montana with other relatives. Alas, H is now a latch key kid, forced to spend his vacation bunking with Jake at his family’s house.

Sunday came around. I do not recall what happened Saturday. Not very much I assume. Perhaps I slept most of the day. Anyway, On Sunday morning we received a call from Sarah, Naida’s daughter. She was suffering from an overabundance of Cala Lilies growing in her backyard and urged us to come over right away and take some. So, after a stop to buy a vase large enough to accommodate the flowers, we arrived at Sarah’s home and proceeded to the backyard where in addition to the Cala lilies, irises, roses and a host of other flowers were in bloom. Sarah’s husband Mark busily pushed a hand-held mechanical plow through the ground in order to begin the planting for this summer’s vegetable garden. Then we all retired to the deck and had an enjoyable lunch.
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The Backyard
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Drinks on the Deck with Sarah and Naida

 

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The Cala Lillies at Home

 

B. ONCE AGAIN OFF TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

Under a sunny sky, we left for SF. That evening at Peter and Barrie’s house, Judy, who lives across the street and is my most consistently responsive Facebook friend brought over two framed photographs of Peter and I sitting on the “geezer bench” in front of Bernie’s coffee shop that she made from a Facebook post of mine. Barrie again prepared a tasty meal this time featuring spaghetti with clams.

The next morning we left for my appointment at the hospital for my immunotherapy treatment. The doctor gave me the most ambiguously optimistic opinion I have received since my original oncologist opined that the swelling in my neck was nothing to be concerned about. He told us that the CT scan I had taken that morning showed some shrinkage in the tumor and he could not tell if it was now scar tissue caused by the previous radiation treatment or not but may be inactive. He also explained that chemotherapy does not cure cancer and the immunotherapy program I am starting on helps the body’s immune system to fight reactivation of cancer.

After the treatment we returned to Peter and Barrie’s home where Barrie prepared a delicious anchovy, garlic and parsley spread from a recipe of Leo’s mother.

Who is Leo?

The next morning I woke up and realized the aches, pains and general malaise caused by the side effects of chemotherapy are gone replaced by the sniffles, runny nose, itches and the normal aches and pains of life and age.

After breakfast, we left and returned to the Enchanted Forest.
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

 

We arrived back in the Enchanted Forest at about 1PM. After a brief rest, I took Boo-boo for a walk. During the three days we have been away, spring has given way to summer. The fruit trees have shed their flowers and the camellias are gone. The branches of the deciduous trees sport their new shiny green leaves. We stopped at the small community center with the tiny pool and sat in the sun. It was perhaps the first day it has been open for swimming. There were two families there, an elderly couple in swimsuits taking in the sun and a mother and her three young children playing and shouting in the pool, The dog and I sat there under a cloudless blue sky and enjoyed the doings in the pool. I felt good but a little sad that swimming was out for me for a long time.
D. BOOK REPORT: Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) by Mario Giordano.

 

I have just finished reading the second installment in the series of my current book crush, The Adventures of Auntie Poldi. Although purporting to be detective stories, I, frankly, do not recall who was killed or why in either of the two novels of the series I have read so far. Nor can I claim they are great or even good literature. So, what attracts me to these books?

Perhaps it is Auntie Poldi herself, a lusty sixty-year-old German woman who had married a Sicilian immigrant to Bavaria and who after his death retired to her husband’s ancestral town on the slopes of Mt Etna there to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.” Poldi wears a wig, dresses usually in brightly colored caftans, enthusiastically and vigorously enjoys sex, and as the daughter of a Bavarian chief of detectives is compulsively drawn to solving crimes, photographing cute policemen in uniform and bedding dusky and hunky Sicilian detectives (well one in particular). The quotation from the novel with which I began this post may give a glimpse of Poldi, herself.

On the other hand, Poldi was a woman of strong opinions as well as strong appetites. As she explained to her nephew whom she had appointed to be the Watson to her Holmes:

“I’ve never been devout,” she explained later before I could query this in surprise because I knew that Poldi harbored a fundamental aversion to the Church. “I’m spiritual but not devout, know what I mean? I’ve never had much time for the Church. The mere thought of it infuriates me. The males-only organizations, the pope, the original-sin malarkey, the inhibited cult of the Virgin Mary, the false promises of redemption, the proselytism, the misogyny, the daft words of the psalms and hymns. Mind you, I’ve always liked the tunes. I always enjoyed chanting in the ashram, you know. I screwed every hippie in the temple of that Kali sect in Nevada, I’ve meditated in Buddhist monasteries, and I believe in reincarnation and karma and all that, likewise in people’s essential goodness. I don’t know if there’s a god and if he’s got something against sex and unbelievers, but I can’t help it, I’m Catholic. It’s like malaria: once you’ve got it you never get rid of it, and sooner or later you go and make peace with it.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

On the other hand, perhaps it is the authors alter ego himself, Poldi’s 34-year-old unmarried nephew, the narrator in the books, a self-described but inept author who works at a call center in Bavaria. He has been attempting to write the great Bavarian novel for years now but seems to have only recently gotten inspired to write the first four chapters the last of which he enthusiastically describes in a blaze of overwriting:

“I was in full flow. I was the adjective ace, the metaphor magician, the sorcerer of the subordinate clause, the expresser of emotions, the master of a host of startling but entirely plausible turns of events. The whole of my fourth chapter had been completed within a week. I was a paragon of self-discipline and inspiration, the perfect symbiosis of Germany and Italy. I was a Cyclops of the keyboard. I was Barnaba. All I lacked was a nymph, but my new Sicilian styling would soon change that.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) . HMH Books.

 

He found himself periodically called to Sicily to reside in an attic room in Poldi’s house whenever the Sicilian relatives believed Poldi was skating on the thin edge of reality or Poldi herself needing someone to beguile and complain to demanded his return.

Or perhaps, it is the denizens of my beloved Sicily like the three aunts fascinated, often shocked, and at times participants in Poldi’s escapades. Or her partners in crime, so to speak, sad Carmina and the local priest. Or, Poldi’s French friend, Valerie her forlorn nephews love interest who Poldi steadfastly refuses to allow him to meet.

“For Valérie, like Poldi, happiness possessed a simple binary structure, and the whole of human existence was suspended between two relatively distant poles. Between heaven and hell, love and ignorance, responsibility and recklessness, splendour and scuzz, the essential and the dispensable. And within this dual cosmic structure there existed only two kinds of people: the deliziosi and the spaventosi, the charming and the frightful. Rule of thumb: house guests, friends and dogs are always deliziosi, the rest are spaventosi. At least until they prove otherwise.”

“‘You see,’ Poldi told me once, ‘Valérie has understood that happiness is a simple equation. Happiness equals reality minus expectation.’”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) . HMH Books.

 

Or perhaps it is just that I am a child of Sicily, have lived as well as visited many times and loved that large rocky Island whose citizens have suffered almost two thousand five hundred years of continuous occupation by a host of invaders— Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, Bourbons, Nazi’s, and even British and Americans. Where the inhabitants were considered so irrelevant by their foreign overlords their cities, unlike the rest of Europe, were built without defensive walls. Where the people are reticent with strangers but boisterous and generous with friends and family, where Bella figura reigns, the cuisine is wonderful, people speak in gestures and revel in the mores of their medieval culture and where “Being Sicilian is a question of heart, not genes” (Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2. HMH Books.)

Whatever, the reasons for my own enjoyment of the books,

Pookie says you should check them out, after all, as Auntie Poldi advises:

“Moderation is a sign of weakness.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
Another snag from Brad Delong’s Grasping Reality with Three Hands (https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/04/economics-identity-and-the-democratic-recession-talking-points.html#more), this time an outline of a paper he wrote entitled Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points. I have included here that portion of the outline dealing with Economic Populism.

I would like to draw a sharp distinction between:

On the one hand, populists: who have a coherent theory about how the market economy is rigged against ordinary people by an upper class and have practical plans for policies to fix it;
On the other hand, a different group: a group who believe that a true people, among whom some are rich and some are poor, are being deceived culturally, sociologically, and economically by internal and external enemies, and need to follow a leader or leaders who have no patience with established constitutional powers and procedures to point out to them who their internal and external enemies are.
It is this second set of movements—true people-based, leader-based, enemy-based, that has been by far the most powerful since the breaking of the real populist movement before 1900 by the hammer of racism: the discovery that a large enough chunk of the populists potential base were easily grifted by a white identity-politics assignment of the “enemy“ role to African-Americans.
Powerful both in America and—except for when under the shadow of Soviet threat—in Western Europe since the day Benito Mussolini recognized that rich Italians who liked order would not fund Benito’s socialist movement, but would gladly fund Benito’s “we are stronger together, for a bundle of sticks tied together with leather thongs is strong even though each individual stick is weak“ movement.
Today looks to me like nothing that special: Recall:

Harding and Coolidge, Taft and Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon, and Buchanan:
Harding and Coolidge’s mobilization of the revived Klan and of nativism against blacks and immigrants to geld progressivism in the 1920s.
Taft and Nixon’s mobilizing McCarthy against the communistic New Deal at the end of the 1940s.
Goldwater’s transformation of the Republican Party from the party of upward mobility and those who believe they have something to gain from economic growth and creative distraction to the party of those who believe they have something to lose if uppity Negroes and the overly educated overly clever are not kept in their place.
Richard Nixon’s idea to drag out the Vietnam war for four more years at the cost of 40,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives. Why? So that he and Pat Buchanan can break the country in half, but with him getting the bigger half—until enough Republicans plus Mark Felt of the FBI were sick of him and willing to help bring him down.
How is today different? Possibilities:
Concentration of the easily-grifted, somehow the internet, Rupert the Kingmaker, the Gingrich model, unlock:
Tyler Cowen’s observation: 20% of the population have always been crazy— easily grifted by some variant of white identity politics—but they used to be evenly divided between the two parties and now they are concentrated in one.
Somehow the internet.
Blowback from Rupert Murdoch’s insight that if you could scare the piss out of all the people you could glue their eyes to your product and then make money by selling them fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds.
Rupert the Kingmaker: In the fifteenth century the marcher Earldom of Warwick was uniquely able to mobilize those in the affinity of Earl Richard for the battlefield—and so became known as “Warwick the Kingmaker”. There are analogies here…
The Gingrich model: We now have two generations of Republican politicians who believe that technocratic policy development is for suckers, and then what do you need are:
tax cuts for the rich,
regulatory rollback,
perhaps a short victorious war or two, plus
Whatever culture war currently resonates with the base—notice that “women need to stay in the kitchen and the bedroom“ and “we need to shun homosexuals“ have passed their sell-by date, but transsexuals and anyone who fails to shout “merry Christmas” every five minutes between Halloween and New Years are still fair game.
Or perhaps we have simply been unlucky—and we had gotten used to luck running in our favor:
Otto von Bismarck, perhaps: “a special providence watches over drunkards, fools, and the United States of America”…

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Too much happiness is a precarious state, it eventually leads to anxiety.
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Considering the current fear and anguish over migration, refugees, and asylum seekers, I thought it would be interesting to see what Homer may have thought about it over three thousand years ago.

SOME SHELTER FROM THE WIND: HOMER ON OUR DEBT TO EXILES
Homer, Odyssey 6.205-210

“We live at a great distance from others amid the much-sounding sea,
Far way, and no other mortals visit us.
But this man who has wandered here, who is so ill-starred,
It is right to care for him now. For all are from Zeus,
The strangers and the beggars, and our gift is small but dear to them.
Come, handmaidens, give the stranger food and drink;
Bathe him in the river, where there is shelter from the wind.”

οἰκέομεν δ’ ἀπάνευθε πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ,
ἔσχατοι, οὐδέ τις ἄμμι βροτῶν ἐπιμίσγεται ἄλλος.
ἀλλ’ ὅδε τις δύστηνος ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ’ ἱκάνει,
τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε.
ἀλλὰ δότ’, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε,
λούσατέ τ’ ἐν ποταμῷ, ὅθ’ ἐπὶ σκέπας ἔστ’ ἀνέμοιο.”

D. Readings from the Mueller Report:

 

In a section related to episodes involving the president and possible obstruction of justice, Mueller’s team explains how it “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.” But the special counsel’s team also said it was unable to definitively conclude that Trump did not commit obstruction of justice:

“Apart from OLC’s constitutional view, we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct … The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“You have imposter syndrome,” He says, “but paradoxically, that’s often a sign of competence. Only people who understand their work well enough to be intimidated by it can be terrified by their own ignorance. It’s the opposite of Dunning-Kruger syndrome, where the miserably incompetent think they’re on top of the job because they don’t understand it.”
Stross, Charles. The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files) (Kindle Location 4514). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Children

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    32 Cold Tits 0007 (March 16, 2018)

“[I]nstinct was a word lazy people had come up with to make guessing sound like something more impressive.”
McDonnell, Caimh. Last Orders (The Dublin Trilogy Book 4) (p. 169). McFori Ink.  
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
It is Wednesday, March 7, HRM’s 13th birthday. On our drive to school this morning, he turned to me and said, “Yesterday I was a child and today I am a teenager. I liked being a child.”
The weather was mixed. I spent much of the morning trying to persuade myself not to exercise. I lost the argument and after a lot of grumbling, I managed to walk three miles around the lakes in Town Center. After that, I felt so good that I jumped into the pool for a 30-minute swim.
On my drive with HRM that morning, I sang and acted silly. I asked H whether he preferred me silly or grumpy. He answered, “It doesn’t matter. You’re silly whether you are grumpy or not.”
Before getting into the car this morning, H announced he wanted to put off his birthday party until Saturday when he was scheduled to go to the scooter camp in the Sierras. I learned then that I was to accompany H, several of his friends, and the other three fathers into the mountains to drop the new teenagers off at the camp until its was time to gather up birthday boy and his cohorts and retreat back down the mountain. Dick told me that later that evening, all four fathers were supposed to go to a western themed  Karaoke Bar. There we were expected to drink and sing.  I was told we would all dress in cowboy outfits also. I assumed they were joking.
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Hayden (in the hat) with his book if western poetry. Tall Jake holds the dancing chicken birthday card.
Days passed, things happened. When the weekend arrived, H and two of his friends had a campout in the redwood trees alongside the house. Dick was away at some earthquake preparedness conference and Nikki, Adrian and I spent time grumbling about life, but not too deeply.
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Tall long haired Jake in the top Hammock, Hayden in the middle and Graham in the bottom,
    My strategy to let things slide regarding travel plans for March and April worked. I still do not know what will happen but whatever I thought might occur will not and a few things actually resolved themselves. So, no lengthy travel plans are in the offing for the next few weeks. Hooray.
Yrrggh! —Everything from here on that I had written during the past four days suddenly disappeared from my computer for some reason. I am furious. How could that happen? I now have to recreate it from memory — something of which I am in short supply —
Let’s see — what happened next:
The weather cleared up for a day or so. Nikki and I went to the health club one morning. On Saturday or Sunday, we had dinner at Wanni’s restaurant, Thai Basil in Roseville.
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Adrian, Richard, Hayden, and Nikki in Thai Basil.
Nikki, Dick, and Wanni went on to the Western Karaoke Bar deep in the wilds of Loomis. I went home. Nikki had dressed in a leather jacket, a black cowboy shirt with elaborately embroidered designs in black thread and black buttons that sparkled like rhinestones in the light. I got it on good authority that at the Karaoke bar he performed a magnificent rendition of “That’s Amore.” Microphone in hand, he passed from the stage and into the audience. While crooning like Dean Martin, he stared into the eyes of several of the startled but appreciative aging matrons. No, he was not thrown out or beaten into sausage by the ex-hippies turned redneck husbands and boyfriends of the bemused ladies.
The next day, we went to Denio’s Auction (flea market) to play our usual game of “see who could buy the most useless object.” Often Nikki and I would compete over who would return with the most outrageous shirt. He preferred Mexican and I was more into Hawaiian. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to go to see “The Shape of Water” and thereby conceded the contests to the others.
As for Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” although I enjoyed it, I preferred the acting and directing in “Lady Bird” more. As typical in Del Toro’s movies, there was a short period of stomach-turning violence. Tarantino movies have a lot of violence also, blood and death everywhere but it is cartoonish with little regard to actual pain and suffering.  Del Toro’s violence on the other hand although briefer makes up for it by focussing in on the agony and anguish. I was surprised at how closely the story of this movie matched that of Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” — In a world of pain and despair, a damaged but innocent young woman enters into a complex relationship with an alien creature, dies violently but is resurrected into a far better universe — all very Catholic.
By Monday, Nikki and Adrian had left to return to wherever they go after they leave here. Following my morning exercises, I called the good/bad David. He lives in South Dakota now — in a little town called Andover. We commiserated about him sitting in his house staring at the snow while I sat on the porch in the golden hills enjoying the 70-degree sunshine. Later, I got on Google and David took me on a tour of the highlights of Andover — there were not many of them — the Lutheran church, the threshing barns, a post office, the railroad tracks and lots and lots of flat grassland with a few grazing cows.
I had an interesting dream last night. I seemed to be watching a movie and did not participate in the action. I recognized the main protagonist, a minor television actor whose name I could not remember. I seem to have come in during the middle of the story. The main protagonist was a pirate of sorts but had not always been so. He was preparing his band and some poorly equipped villagers to defend themselves from the expected attack. Although they were confident they could prevail in the conflict when their enemy showed up it became clear they would be overwhelmed. They agreed to a meeting with the opposition commander who proved to be an old friend of the hero (from an earlier scene in the movie that I had missed). The two friends agreed that the hero and his motley but competent crew would undertake a difficult and somewhat questionable assignment to lead a sneak attack on the commander’s enemy. I then woke up. It was raining again and after dropping HRM off at school and eating breakfast, I put myself back to bed and slept until the afternoon when it was time to pick up HRM again. And, so it goes in the waning years of my life.
The weather turned miserable again. I feel better, however.
News on the adolescent front: HRM’s march beyond childhood accelerates. He may have just graduated from the scooter gangs to the bicycle maniacs all in one day, putting him further removed from his past and mine. Our influence over his environment diminishes with each additional mile he can now place between us. I currently drive him to the skate park the outer limit of his universe.  In two weeks he will be riding his bike far beyond that.
The weekend approaches. Yesterday morning I listened to the heart-rending memories of a dear friend. Life has been described as a vale of sorrows. It is that for most of us — even living through the greatest Golden Age in the history of humankind and consider ourselves fortunate we have not had to experience sufferings like our predecessors in the past, most of us sooner or later experience unimaginable pain. Some handle it better than others and some worse. Some are able to smile through it all and some complain bitterly (I am of the latter group). Like it or not we are all riding together it the same Looney-Tunes cable car careening through the mountains, some cringing in fear, others filling themselves with hate over who they suspect caused them to be in this place, some laughing deliriously, some crying and some just stare at the sky, fist outstretched middle finger extended — but one thing cannot be denied, for most tomorrow  will be another day — And for me, the weekend begins and I intend to make it a happy one…
B. BOOK REPORT: STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT.
If you continue to read beyond this, you will notice (if I am able to reconstruct them from wherever this evil machine hid them) an excess of items of and about Sicily. The reason for this is because I have just completed reading a mystery novel entitled “Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions” by Mario Giordano. Surprisingly, the author is not Sicilian. He is German. A descendant of a Sicilian laborer who had left the Island seeking work and a better life in the Colossus of the North. The novel itself is no classic work of literature. In fact, it barely makes it as light summer reading. I liked it, however, because of the kind-hearted way it plunges into the history, landscape, and foibles of the people and places that I have grown to love.
The main conceit of the novel lies in the author’s alter ego, a young struggling writer recording, at the behest of his Auntie Poldi, her adventures, and misadventures in Sicily. Auntie Poldi a dipsomaniac, over-sexed, bi-polar, caftan-wearing, overweight, sixty year old widow from Bavaria who, after the death of her Sicilian born husband, buys a home in a small coastal village in Sicily in the shadow of Mt Etna where she intends to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.” Unfortunately for everyone, Auntie Poldi is also loud, pushy, nosy and her father was chief of detectives in some city in Germany. As a result, when she discovers, on the beach, the dead body of her part-time handyman, the handsome young Valentino, she drafts her dead husband’s three sisters and goes on a hunt for the murderer. Along the way, she also shags the handsome but mature local detective with the improbable name of Vito Montana.
Pookie says, “Check it out”
[T]he worst thing that can happen to any Italian male, especially a Sicilian. Economic crises, volcanic eruptions, corrupt politicians, emigration, the Mafia, uncollected rubbish and overfishing of the Mediterranean—he can endure anything with fatalism and a bella figura. The main thing is never to present a brutta figura, a figuraccia. Bella figura is the Italian credo. The basic equipment for this includes a well-groomed, unostentatiously fashionable appearance, a pair of good shoes and the right make of sunglasses. Above all, though, bella figura means always looking good, never foolish. For an Italian this is a must, not an option, and quite indispensable. It also means you don’t embarrass your fellow men. Impatience is unacceptable and direct confrontations are taboo. You share restaurant bills with your friends, don’t put your foot in it, never receive guests in a dirty or untidy home, ask no intimate questions, address anyone with a university degree as dottore, bring some dessert with you when invited to dinner and—even at the risk of rupturing your abdomen—finish everything on your plate. You put your faith in beauty and proportionality and try to make the world a better place. Sometimes you even succeed.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  
DAILY FACTOID:
The Sicilian language has no future tense.
(JP— It is scary to think about a culture that lacks the ability to express the future. It does have a special tense to express the remote past that has ended. Sicilians use it a lot in their conversations — Everything is in the present or the far past and there is no future.)
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A.  On Top —The Quotes of Steven Wright:
1 – I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 – Borrow money from pessimists-they don’t expect it back.
3 – Half the people you know are below average.
4 – 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 – 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 – A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 – A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 – If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 – All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.
10 – The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 – I almost had a psychic girlfriend, ….. But she left me before we met.
12 – OK, so what’s the speed of dark?
13 – How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?
14 – If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
15 – Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 – When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
17 – Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 – Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
19 – I intend to live forever … So far, so good.
20 – If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 – Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
22 – What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 – My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
24 – Why do psychics have to ask you for your name
25 – If at first, you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 – A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 – Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
28 – The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
29 – To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
30 – The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 – The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
32 – The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
33 – Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don’t have film.
34 – If at first, you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
35 – If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?
 
B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
While doing some research on things Sicilian, I came across the blog, “The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife,” (https://siciliangodmother.com/2013/02/12/sicilian-women-are-scrubbers/) It contains some amusing stories about the life of a foreigner (in this case a British woman married to a Sicilian man) in Sicily, especially regarding her relationship with her Mother-in-law whom she refers to as “The Godmother.”
One day, The Godmother came round to my house when I had just swept and mopped all the floors. She was wearing her black skirt and black blouse, which is what Sicilian housewives put on when they really mean business. She gave me a pitying, or perhaps critical, look and said,
“Oh, you poor thing! You must be so worn out with all this unpacking and organizing that you haven’t had time to clean the floor.”
“Erm, yes,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” she said, her nose already in the cleaning products cupboard she had given me as a housewarming present. “I’ll take care of it.”
She extracted a thing which looked like a broom with no bristles and then wrapped it in a cloth which she dipped in something that smelled pungent enough to make my nose run and proceeded to rub it all over the floor with so much verve I thought she might actually erode the glaze off the tiles. “That’s just given it a quick removal of the main dirt,” she said, as she got on her knees and proceeded to pull the plinth away from the fitted cupboards under and around the kitchen sink.
She put the steel strips on the balcony and then proceeded to remove the entire underside of the island unit as well. Not satisfied with this, she then prised all the knobs off the hob, did something that looked downright painful to remove the oven door and then turned the extractor fan over the cooker into no less than eighteen separate, yet almost identical-looking, pieces of plastic grille.
Whilst I was profoundly shocked to see her calmly pull my kitchen to pieces, I was also flabbergasted that she was actually able to. For my whole life, up to that point, I had believed you needed men with exposed bum cleavages to do that type of thing.
While I was still searching for appropriate words, she filled the sink with several potent products, which foamed and gave off a greenish hallucinogenic vapour, and put all the small components of my ex-kitchen in it. While I sat down to regain some breath, she filled a bucket with whatever the Mafia use to dissolve dead bodies away to nothing except a few gold fillings, and started rubbing it into the pieces of stainless steel plinth she had yanked off the cupboards. I had chosen a matt finish but she kept working away at each piece of metal until she had made it look like a mirror.
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I Heard It Through The Grapevine:
During 2016 Presidential nominating campaign there were two candidates who:
Declined to support sensible gun control regulation;
Received support from the Russians and;
Refused to release their tax returns.
D. Today’s Poem:
ISULA
Isula nascivu, isula vogghiu moriri.
Isula comu mi fici lu Signuri
cu li turmenti e li dulura
ma sempri abbrazzata a lu mari
e figghia pridiletta di lu suli.
Bedda tra li beddi sugnu
‘nghirlannata stati e mmernu di ciuri.
Curtigghiara, baggiana, ciaurusa
mi vestu di milli culura
e cu sta peddi di meli e di rosi
attiru lapuna d’ogni razza e paisi.
ISLAND
Born an island, I want to die an island.
An island, the way the Lord made me
with all its torments and pains
but always embraced by the sea
a favored daughter of the sun.
I’m a beauty among beauties
garlanded in summer and winter.
Plebeian, proud, fragrant
I dress in thousands of colors
and with this blanket of honey and roses
I attract drones from every race and place.
–by Lina La Mattina –translated by Arthur Dieli
E. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy II:
The iron law of bureaucracy dictates that most of the people in any large organization will, after a time, be more preoccupied with preserving their own jobs than with fulfilling the mission statement of the agency.”
Stross, Charles. Empire Games: A Tale of the Merchant Princes Universe (p. 322). Tom Doherty Associates.
TODAY’S QUOTE:
Sicilian men (of which I am one) prefer to discuss the minutia of history and almost anything else rather than answer a personal question and risk making a brute figura of himself. Here is an example taken from a novel I am reading:
“Uncle Martino talked at me without a break. He pontificated on Sicilian history, the source of the best pistachio nuts, Lord Nelson and the Brontë siblings, life in the Middle Ages, Frederick II, Palermo’s Vucciria market, tuna shoals, overfishing by Japanese trawlers and the mosaics of Monreale. He commented on Radio Radicale’s live broadcasts of debates in the Italian parliament. He lectured me on the Cyclops, the Greeks, the Normans, General Patton, Lucky Luciano and yellow silk scarves. On the only acceptable way of making a granita. On angels, demons, the trinacria, the truth about Kafka and communism and the relationship between physical stature and criminality in the male population of Sicily. His rule of thumb: the shorter the man, the more threatening and the more likely to be a Mafioso. That I scarcely understood a word didn’t bother him. My Italian was appalling—in fact it was practically nonexistent apart from one or two helpful swear words and che schifo, allucinante, birra, con panna, boh, beh and mah, which constituted an adolescent’s vocabulary on the beach.”
Giordano, Mario.Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
(JP- For those interested:
Che Schifo — how disgusting.
Allucinante — hallucinating, stoned
Birra — beer
Con panna — with whipped cream
Boh — I don’t know
Beh — I don’t care
Mah — maybe yes, maybe no
Facility with these few words will allow you to communicate adequately anywhere in Southern Italy and Sicily, but only if you also know how to gesture properly with your hands [see below]).
TODAY’S CHART:
Pasted Graphic
These are only a few of the gestures used in Southern Italy and Sicily. As with any language, it takes a while and a lot of repetition to learn. Failure to learn a language properly can lead to confusion and embarrassment. For example, after examining the chart, I realized that during my sojourns in Sicily I never quite understood the difference between What, where, why and you shitted your pants eh — much to my embarrassment in the cases where I have misused them and much to my annoyance is now realizing that I had failed to recognize when someone who I thought was asking a question was, in fact, commenting on my ignorance or worse.
Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 15, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

1. In my continuing effort to demonstrate fairness by incorporating comments from both sides of the political divide, I have included the following regarding Larry Klayman one of the nations leading conservative bloggers and founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch:

In his latest column, Larry Klayman predicted that people will increasingly stock up on firearms because President Obama’s “dishonest, non-responsive and incompetent government” is “invading our individual and family rights and taking away our liberties,” and are just waiting “for the revolution to come.”

The founder of Judicial Watch went on to argue that Americans see “no one on the horizon who can lead this nation back from Armageddon” and worries they will eventually turn to violence: “Let us pray that violent revolt will not break out before all other options are exhausted, but our Founding Fathers, faced with a similar dilemma, were forced to eventually choose this path by risking, and in many cases sacrificing, their fortunes and lives”

To those liberals out there, when I discover a main stream liberal blogger or political leader suggesting the violent overthrow of the government, I promise, in all fairness, to post it.

2. Why Parody is impossible:

“The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.”
~Newt Gingrich, arguing that it’s okay for politicians to be bought and paid for.

Should I find any other politician, Republican or Democrat, who says something even remotely like this, I promise I will post it.

3. Buddy Roemer candidate for the Republican nomination for President, a candidate we should all get the chance to hear. Why does Faux News exclude him from the debates?

“Here I am, running for president, and I’m different, No big checks, no PAC money. That’s my issue. I’m successful at what I do, a successful businessman, the only congressman and governor running who had both experiences, and I can’t qualify [for the debates] because I can’t get a poll number, and I can’t get a poll number because I can’t get on the debates. How about that for shutting a man down?”
Roemer in a wide-ranging interview with The Fiscal Times

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. 2011: Education Matters:


2. 1941: DECEMBER 12, WORLD WAR II, JOSEF GOEBBELS RATIONALIZES THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE HOLOCAUST:

“Regarding the Jewish question, the Führer is determined to clear the table. He warned the Jews [back in January 1939] that if they were to cause another world war, it would lead to their own destruction. Those were not empty words. Now the world war has come. The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. This question is to be regarded without sentimentalism. We are not here to have sympathy with the Jews, but rather with our German people. If the German people have sacrificed 160,000 dead in the eastern campaign, so the authors of this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives.”

And we still have not learned that no rationalization no matter how convincing justifies either murder or discrimination for what people are; their race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background, or gender identity.

3. Sixth Century BC: Discussion between Demaratus and King Xerxes prior to the latter’s march upon Greece:

“Xerxes sent for Demaratus the son of Ariston, who had accompanied him in his march upon Greece, and said to him:

“‘Demaratus, I would like you to tell me something. As I hear, you are a Greek and a native of a powerful city. Tell me, will the Greeks really fight against us? I think that even if all the Greeks and all the barbarians of the West were gathered together in one place, they would not be able to stop me, since they are so disunited. But I would like to know what you think about this.’

“Demaratus replied to Xerxes’ question: ‘O king! Do you really want me to give a true answer, or would you rather that I make you feel good about all this?’
“The king commanded him to speak the plain truth, and promised that he would not on that account hold him in less favour than before.

“When he heard this promise, Demaratus spoke as follows: ‘O king! Since you command me to speak the truth, I will not say what will one day prove me a liar. Difficulties have at all times been present in our land, while Courage is an ally whom we have gained through wisdom and strict laws. Her aid enables us to solve problems and escape being conquered. All Greeks are brave, but what I am about to say does not concern all, but only the Spartans.

“‘First then, no matter what, the Spartans will never accept your terms. This would reduce Greece to slavery. They are sure to join battle with you even if all the rest of the Greeks surrendered to you. As for Spartan numbers, do not ask how many or few they are, hoping for them to surrender. For if a thousand of them should take the field, they will meet you in battle, and so will any other number, whether it is less than this, or more.’

“When Xerxes heard this answer of Demaratus, he laughed and answered: ‘What wild words, Demaratus! A thousand men join battle with such an army as mine! Come then, will you — who were once, as you say, their king — fight alone right now against ten men? I think not. And yet, if your fellow-citizens really are as you say, then according to your laws as their king, you should be twice as tough and take on twenty all by yourself!

“‘But, if you Greeks, who think so hightly of yourselves, are simply the size and kind of men as those I have seen at my court, or as yourself, Demaratus, then your bragging is weak. Use common sense: how could a thousand men, or ten thousand, or even fifty thousand — particularly if they are all free, and not under one lord — how could such a force stand against a united army like mine? Even if the Greeks have larger numbers than our highest estimate, we still would outnumber them 100 to 1.

“‘If they had a single master as our troops have, their obedience to him might make them courageous beyond their own desire, or they might be pushed onward by the whip against an enemy which far outnumbered them. But left to their own free choice, they will surely act differently. For my part, I believe that if the Greeks had to contend with the Persians only, and the numbers were equal on both sides, the Greeks would still find it hard to stand their ground. We too have men among us as tough as those you described — not many perhaps, but enough. For instance, some of my bodyguard would willing engage singly with three Greeks. But this you did not know; and so you talked foolishly.’

“Demaratus answered him- ‘I knew, O king, that if I told you the truth, I would displease you. But since you wanted the truth, I am telling you what the Spartans will do. I am not speaking out of any love that I have for Sparta — you know better than anyone how I feel about those who robbed me of my rank, of my ancestral honours, and made me a homeless exile…. Look, I am no match for ten men or even two, and given the choice, I would rather not fight at all. But if necessary, I would rather go against those who boast that they are a match for any three Greeks.

“‘The same goes for the Spartans. One-against-one, they are as good as anyone in the world. But when they fight in a body, they are the best of all. For though they are free men, they are not entirely free. They accept Law as their master. And they respect this master more than your subjects respect you. Whatever he commands, they do. And his command never changes: It forbids them to flee in battle, whatever the number of their foes. He requires them to stand firm — to conquer or die. O king, if I seem to speak foolishly, I am content from this time forward to remain silent. I only spoke now because you commanded me to. I do hope that everything turns out according to your wishes.'”

“This was the answer of Demaratus, and Xerxes was not angry with him at all, but only laughed, and sent him away with words of kindness.

–Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Histories

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND AND AMERICA:

1. Thailand: Cracked News from “Not the Nation”( the Thai “Onion”):

PM Declares Inner Bangkok Safe As Giant, ‘Croc-zilla’ Terrorizes Pathum Thani

4 Dec 2011, Pathum Thani – As tens of thousands of Thais still trapped by flood waters in Pathum Thani fended off a giant, mutant “croc-zilla,” Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today assured residents and businesses in inner Bangkok that they would not be impacted.

Pathum Thani residents who have survived croc-zilla’s attacks say the amphibious beast is 72 meters tall, walks on two legs, has the jaw and tail of a crocodile, breathes fire and has a Medusa-like mane of poisonous green mamba snakes.

“Croc-zilla,” as dubbed by the Thai media, is believed to have destroyed at least 600 homes and torn 300 people to pieces in the last 48 hours. The beast is also said to have ambushed several Red Cross deliveries yesterday and started its own horde of Mama noodles and sanitary napkins.

2. America: Are the Hyenas turning on each other?

ST PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 12, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ — Bill Keller, the world’s leading Internet Evangelist and the founder of LivePrayer.com, with over 2.4 million subscribers worldwide reading the daily devotional he has written every morning for 12 years on the issues of the day from a Biblical worldview, is warning Christians that entertainer Glenn Beck is Satan, “masquerading as an angel of light,” and using Christians to further his agenda and advance the satanically inspired cult he belongs to.

Firstly, this is not a liberal media attack on Beck, but statements by a denizen of the religious right that up to now generally sympathized with Beck. Secondly, on the specifics of this allegation, I stand with Beck. He is not Satan. He is not painted red and he lacks horns.

3. Thailand: The Thai way:

The Bangkok Post, the nations leading english language newspaper, lists an email address for submitting Letters to the Editor that does not work.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I continue to spend my days exercising in the mornings and on the internet in the afternoons. Now and then I take in a movie or watch a DVD before going to bed. I had gained over 12 pounds during my US trip and lost whatever benefits I gained from my Thai fitness regime.

It is the high tourist season in Thailand, in the mornings the temperature is equivalent to that of late spring afternoons in a temperate climate, and the afternoons although hot are not uncomfortable as long as one avoids the direct ray’s of the sun.

I have begun to feel the effects of Bangkok air pollution with the return of my Bangkok cough.

I received a telephone call from Hayden and Nikki during their stop over in NYC on their way to Italy for the Christmas Holidays. Hayden told me he had gotten me a flashlight for Christmas because he knows I do not see so well and he thought it would help.

Nikki told me that Hayden had developed a serious eye tic that he did not have when I left a few weeks ago. His mother, SWAC, indicated that she was considering giving the child up to another man (one of the several SWAC hinted may be the child’s father). SWAC would return to Thailand to live and the child would be raised in this man’s household in Washington State. He has a daughter about Hayden’s age. I understand his prior marriages devolve amidst accusations of violence and he lost custody of his children from those marriages. He also is the one who recently “spread the word” about SWAC to her friends in Sacto.

We shall see if these rumors are true or if the child finds himself trapped in another cycle of insecurity.

Sad as I may feel, I have begun to realize that my efforts may have only increased the boy’s rejection fears since, for whatever reason, I like almost everyone else comes in and out of his life and often am not there when he needs stability the most. I fear I may be exacerbating, his situation. Perhaps it is time we both get on with our lives, such as they are.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMOIRS:

Old man memories, Don Lundy (Cont.):

Most of us, born into the Italian tradition had nicknames. In addition to “sir rinse,” our gang included, “Soupy,” Frank Supa, “Louie,” Louis DeLago, “Chazz,” Charles DeVito, “Whitey,” Peter White (Whitey, was non ethnic originally from Saugertes NY and considered a “hick.” He was the groups best all around sports athlete. (He had a sister who was not 100% and who the older boys had their way with.)), and “Neddy,”Ned Callaghan, a small Irish kid who was my rival in non-sport athletics such as climbing trees and buildings.

I used to like to climb tall trees in the neighborhood until I reached the tallest and thinest branch that inevitably would break under my weight sending me tumbling through the lower branches as I tried to slow my fall before striking the ground. At that time school buildings often were made of red brick with marble cornices about 1/2 thick marking the separate floors. Ned and I used to like to climb up the brick facing by squeezing our fingers and toes into the slight indentions made by the mortar until we reached the cornice and then we would inch along the cornice until we had encircled the building and then climb to the next floor and repeat circumnavigation of the building.

There was me of course. Every now and then someone in the group would call me “Mopey Joe.” I hated that name and so often a fight would ensue. I was given that name by one of the Blount brothers, (the Blounts were older and not members of our group), because I usually walked slowly, at a steady pace with my head down. The reason I did so was that I suffered constant pain from flat feet forcing me to generally gingerly walk more on my heels while tipping my upper body forward for balance. Anyway the Blounts were black, part of the vast migration north of rural southern blacks that began during the war. The black community in town was split between those immigrants and those free blacks who could trace their residence in the village back to the Civil War and before. They, this latter group, actually made up most of the village’s middle class.

Nick-names were part of italian culture, mostly prosaic and based either on some rearrangement of ones name, something peculiar about the person (I knew a guy call “Beefsteak” because of his fondness for that food) or insulting like “Gimp.” Blacks however tended to bestow nicknames whether from affection or insult more playfully and seemed to revel in the poetry. Mopey Joe had a certain ring to it, don’t you think? At that time, I was ashamed of it and hated it. It was only when I decided to start using it in this section of “This and that…” that I got to like it. I now have several nicknames some of which would normally be considered a bit insulting; “Pookie” and “Mopey Joe,” being two of them. Pookie I have grown to love and refer to myself that way. It was given to me by a small child out of love and trust and how could one be ashamed of that? If I were to rank the various names that people referred to me by, Pookie would be first, then followed by Papa Joe, Mopey Joe, Joe, Joey, Asshole, Bastard and Motherfucker.

There were a few other members of the gang whose names I have forgotten. Then there was Donald Lundy, “Don” or “Dondi.” My recollection of whom prompted this post.

Dondi was a black kid or “colored” as people of that time referred to what we have today agreed to refer to as black or African-American. In my experience no-one used the N word not even blacks with blacks as became fashionable later. The only people that used the N word were southerners we were told, classless white guys and crazy angry and often drunk people. I assumed, since my black friends at the time informed me, we were, in private, referred to in turn as Dagos, Wops or Guineas. Typically the complexities of racial and ethnic profiling and insults escaped the understanding of the children in my peer group in that village.

Anyway, Don’s family was of the older black settler group. I wanted to be his friend and we spent a lot of time together apart from the gang, playing and talking about those things of interest to little boys. We never fought as I did often with other friends. Dondi was too good-natured for that. We often ate at each others houses. Dondi used to like to come over to my house because at that time Italian Cuisine was still considered exotic and spicy. Dondi developed a taste for it. (To be continued.)

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Something about a fan and feces (cont.):

She returned to look at him again.

“You do not know what you’re, talking about.”

“I know what I felt since the first time you walked into my office,” he responded.

“No, it is impossible,” she said while lowering her eyes and gripping her purse.

“Why, is there someone else? Is it because you are supposed to be my body-guard or we are on opposite sides,” he said raising his voice slightly in exasperation?

“No” she said in almost a whisper.

The waiter and cart arrived by their table and she turned to watch the waiter approach with the salad fork in his hand. Vince ignored the server and stared at her trying to think of a follow-up to his question.

The waiter placed the salad fork down on the table at the top of Isabella’s plate opposite her and turned, took a few steps over to the serving cart and bent down to retrieve something. Isabella stared at the fork for a moment then picked it up. (To be continued)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Strange Apocalypses:

GAMMA RAYS FROM SPACE

When a supermassive star is in its dying moments, it shoots out two beams of high-energy gamma rays into space. If these were to hit Earth, the immense energy would tear apart the atmosphere’s air molecules and disintegrate the protective ozone layer.

Danger sign: The sky turns brown and all life on the surface slowly dies.

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

1. A greater percentage of our tax dollars should be spent on education our future requires it and our present employment crises demands it.

2. End the lie that debt from public spending is the reason for the financial crisis.


3. Tell the truth about the costs of private heath insurance:


Medicare actually does a better job of controlling costs than private insurers — not remotely good enough, but better…

If Medicare costs had risen as fast as private insurance premiums, it would cost around 40 percent more than it does. If private insurers had done as well as Medicare at controlling costs, insurance would be a lot cheaper.

c. Excerpts from Bill Moyer’s speech to Citizens United:

“The revolt of the plutocrats has now been ratified by the Supreme Court in its notorious Citizens United decision last year. Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five pro-corporate conservative justices gave “artificial entities” the same rights of “free speech” as living, breathing human beings, they told our corporate sovereigns “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to their pouring money into political campaigns. The Roberts Court embodies the legacy of pro-corporate bias in justices determined to prevent democracy from acting as a brake on excessive greed and power in the private sector. Wealth acquired under capitalism is in and of itself no enemy of democracy, but wealth armed with political power — power to shake off opportunities for others to rise — is a proven danger. Thomas Jefferson had hoped that, “we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and [to] bid defiance to the laws of our country.” James Madison feared that the “spirit of speculation” would lead to “a government operating by corrupt influence, substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty.”

d. Profiles in Presidential courage:
“In name we had the Declaration of Independence in 1776; but we gave the lie by our acts to the words of the Declaration of Independence until 1865; and words count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts. This is true everywhere; but, O my friends, it should be truest of all in political life. A broken promise is bad enough in private life. It is worse in the field of politics. No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life. I care for the great deeds of the past chiefly as spurs to drive us onward in the present. I speak of the men of the past partly that they may be honored by our praise of them, but more that they may serve as examples for the future…”
Teddy Roosevelt:
e. The difference between Americans and Europeans:

Americans are more pro-religion and anti-homosexuality.

Image unavailable at this time.

I guess I will have to stop eating French Fries again.

f. Testosterone Chronicles:
“…The Paccius letter having been answered, let me tell you the rest of my news. A letter from my brother contains some quite extraordinary things about Caesar’s warm feelings towards me, and is corroborated by a very copious letter from Caesar himself. The result of the war against Britain is eagerly awaited, for the approaches to the island are known to be ‘warded with wondrous massy walls’. It is also now ascertained that there isn’t a grain of silver on the island nor any prospect of booty apart from captives, and I fancy you won’t expect any of them to be highly qualified in literature or music!”
Marcus Tullius Cicero to Titus Pomponius Atticus: 89 (iv. 16): Rome, about 1 July 54 BC.

What no silver, no booty! Oh well, I guess slaves will do. Another tale of “The Biker Gangs Conquer the World.” Did you think that Caesar conquered Britain just to bring the benefits of Roman Civilization to the barbarians?

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If you want to be rich, you must first build roads.”
Old Chinese proverb.
TODAY’S MAP:

It is interesting how this map’s information and ranking, like so many others, roughly correlates with latitude.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Because the young Uma Thurman looks like a nymphet from outer space. There is no doubt in my mind that, given the chance, she would kill Bill.

BONUS PHOTOGRAPH:


A REUNION OF OLD FRIENDS.

Monty, Pookie, David and Frank

Between the 4 of us in our lives so far, we have collectively made and lost somewhere between $50 and 100 million and perhaps more. Today we are all old and broke except Frank who is not old. Congratulations to us, we have managed to amass many more stories than toys.

Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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