Posts Tagged With: Hayden

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 30 Jo Jo 0002 (June 14,2013)

 

 

What Shakespeare should have written:

“First let’s kill all the bankers, the lawyers will then die of starvation.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Hayden arrived from Italy on Sunday, we spent the next two days together. We stayed at the Federal Hotel on Soi 11 so he could be nearer to SWAC and her mother and sister while we decided whether or not we would travel south to Phattalung in order to stay a week at our home there. Unfortunately all the flights and train accommodations were full for the next week so the trip was cancelled. Hayden has spent the last few nights with his old nanny at her house.

**********

I have spent the entire week wrestling with exhaustion and depression, perhaps for no other reason than a lingering cold or some other malady. Whatever it is, I feel like I am transitioning from the world of the merely aging to that of the truly aged.

**********

A few days ago Hayden and I ran into Gary and Pui and their son Gary II too. Gary is a Canadian and Pui is Tai. I have known Pui for almost as long as I have known SWAC. Pui lived with us briefly in SF. I no longer remember if she and Gary met in SF or in Thailand. They own a spa here that provides massage, nail and other cosmetic services. Gary tells me that there are Hockey leagues in Thailand and he plays in a senior league.

***********

This issue of T&T seems to me to be obscenely long and made up mostly of my rants. As usual, most of them range somewhere between bullshit and barely interesting. As I look it over again, the only thing I can recommend as worth reading, beside the amusing story of American family lost in my neighborhood here, is the note containing the long Jared Diamond quote.

I am quite fond of Diamond, the scientist and birder turned historian. Back when I was getting my degree in History we only studied the history of politics and male blood lust. Few if anyone then recognized that Darwin was perhaps a greater historian than scientist. My classmate, that fortunate child Winston Churchill, mentioned that physics, his major, was, after one learned some rudimentary mathematics, only history.

Perhaps that was why I rejected my scholarship advisors pleas that I major in physics also. I wonder what my life would have been like If I were now a 73-year-old ex-physicist living on social security rather than an aged un-employed attorney? But life is like that. First you scream in terror of the light and then you end cringing in fear of the darkness.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Soi Arab in Bangkok, between the Sukhumvit 3 a...

Soi Arab in Bangkok, between the Sukhumvit 3 and 5 roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Tourist Family Safely Returned To Thailand After Harrowing Night On Soi 3 — 4 Jun 2013

NANA – An American family of visiting tourists has been safely brought back to Thai soil after being lost for four hours in the lower Sukhumvit area, police reported yesterday.

The Waldens, comprising James, 43, his wife Meredith, 41, and their children Didi, 13, and Zachary, 9, were reported in healthy condition at Bumrungrad Hospital after an examination following their escape from the international territory known colloquially as “soi Arab.”

“It was the most frightening experience of our lives,” said a visibly shaken James. “One minute we’re in Thailand, enjoying our vacation, and then suddenly we’re in some other country full of Middle Eastern people, West Africans, and Indians. It was like something out of a bad science fiction movie.”

According to police, the Waldens accidental departure from Thailand began when they left their hotel, the Landmark, at 8pm to look for what they had been told was a good place for wood-fired pizza. Mistaking soi Loet Sin 2 for what they thought was soi 11, the family walked deep into a dark neighborhood of construction sites.

“Jim insisted we were on the right street but I knew something was wrong right away when we turned the corner and saw all those Indian restaurants,” said Meredith. “It just felt wrong.”

The family then wandered down soi 5 and attempted to enter Gullivers Pub, only to be pushed out by a brawl that was erupting between a drunken pack of British football fans and a hostile group of Israeli backpackers.

“I didn’t see any Thai people, anywhere,” noted Didi.

The Waldens then fled into the Nailert Foodland Plaza, where they became disoriented trying to find their way out again. Exiting a fire escape onto an alleyway, they then worked their way deeper into the warren of sub-sois that led to soi 3/1.

“Everyone around us was African,” said James. “We might as well have been in Africa. And I’ve never seen so many sandal shops in my life.”

After attempting in vain to find anyone who spoke either English or Thai, the Waldens spent 20 minutes working their way through a maze of leather stores, travel agencies, and sheesha pipe exporters, only to emerge on soi 3/1, where they were confronted by a bazaar of Middle Eastern and South Asian restaurants, women in burkhas, and men in robes and turbans.

“Poor Zach was so shocked that he just started shouting out ‘Terrorists! Terrorists!’” said Meredith. “We had to cover his mouth. It was embarrassing. Actually it was scary. People were staring at us, so I just grabbed the kids and went down the nearest alleyway.”

Emerging onto soi 3, the Waldens encountered “about 300” prostitutes of Middle Eastern and Russian origin, whose “huge asses” made it impossible to walk on the pavement towards Sukhumvit. Forced to go the other way, the family tried to ask for directions from one of the Thai vendors selling sex toys on the streetside.

“There were, like, a million vibrators and dildos,” recalled Didi. “That was like all they sold. It was gross.”

Unfortunately, every Thai vendor they encountered turned out to be deaf, and only gestured at the family using hand signs and large Casio calculators. Now completely terrified, the Waldens cut through an Ethiopian restaurant and fled into what appeared to be a large international hotel, the Grace.

“That was the worst place in the world,” said Meredith. “Like a nightmare, like a Twilight Zone episode. Every time we asked for directions it felt like we were interrupting an arms deal.”

The Waldens spent the next 90 minutes lost in the various areas within the Grace, including the bowling alley (“The balls weren’t even round”), the basement coffee shop (“The pit of hell”), and the mirrored casbah disco (“Men dancing with other men, but they were too ugly to be gay.”)

Around midnight the Waldens were finally rescued by a sympathetic transvestite named Pinki, who took them to the street, hailed a taxi, and instructed the driver how to get back to their hotel in Thailand. Once there, the hotel concierge noted their agitated state and called the hospital and the police.

The Waldens are expected to be released today, and have expressed optimism that they can complete their Thai holiday without incident. However, they have been warned to avoid the Nana area, as well as instructed not to enter the Thonglor area without first learning some basic Japanese.

(Thanks to Gary [Pattaya Gary, not Canadian Gary] for this bit of humor.

Alas, this is the pretty much the neighborhood in which I choose live while here in Thailand. Every morning I wander through it on my way to the health club on Soi 11. I eat breakfast at Foodland, check out the newest vibrator models in the sidewalk stands nearby, window shop for the latest designs in rhinestone encrusted sandals and get my haircut at the barbershop in the Grace Hotel. Although it has been years since I have observed the running of the bulls at Gulliver’s, I still find myself at times forced off the sidewalk by the generously hipped ladies of the night making one last morning troll before retiring. And, I’m sure Pinki is the name of that pretty ladyboy who always invites me to enjoy the best massage in Bangkok whenever I walk by.)

2. A Report from the Front Line in the Battle Against Global Warming:

In an effort slow the escalating release into the earths atmosphere of the serious sunlight absorbing gas, methane, in 2003 the government of New Zealand proposed a flatulence tax. It was not adopted because of public protest.

3. Educational innovation:

The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s major english language newspaper, featured an article regarding the pride that the Thai education agencies take in their elementary school program to teach students the proper way to use western style toilets.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

6. Problems and insights.

After attending the morning intake meetings a few times, I recognized two problems that I would have to deal with. The first was that something seemed wrong with the whole psychiatric process and the second was that no one liked a representative of the MHIS being there.

a. the psychiatric process. From the beginning of the development of psychoanalytical theory at the end of the 19th Century with its a priori categorizations of mental processes, an elementary concern hovered over the profession. As one of the more distinguished doctors in the hospital put it, “Essentially, we cannot determine whether we psychiatrists helped the patients at all or whether they got better on their own.”

Only a few years before this, a discovery was made that fundamentally changed how mental illness was to be treated. The administration of certain drugs (among the first was lithium) seemed to miraculously relieve some of the worst manifestations of mental illness, conditions that up until then often were considered incurable.

The use of this therapy was slow to be adopted because no one at that time really knew how the drugs worked. In addition, they often seemed to replace the illness with drug induced torpor. It also was difficult to maintain the pharmaceutical regime with patients who tended to forget or refuse to take their medicines once beyond the control of the hospital. And perhaps most significantly, it shredded the fundamental assumptions of the psychiatric practice without replacing it with alternatives. As for the latter, in essence, pharmacological psychiatry was a serious threat to the growth of the psychiatric treatment industry. Many highly trained individuals felt threatened.

At the intake meetings in a major urban psychiatric hospital this basic problem with psychiatry appeared evident to me, if not in terms of technically understanding it, then at least in terms experiencing elementary discomfort with what I saw.

!n 1965 as it had been for the past 100 years, severe mental illness was most often seen as a disease of the mind expressed in a bewildering array of categories and concepts over which psychiatrists of various schools could endlessly fight, much like economists do today. At least that was an improvement over the claims of demonic possession and moral turpitude that had been the common belief before then.

What was beginning to become clear by the early fifties however was that what was referred to as mental illness was most likely a defect of some sort in the brain and not in the mind, which had always been imagined as something like a soul hovering somewhere between physical reality and somewhere else.

We all know now, for example, that when we see the color red, what we actually see is photons or waves of different frequencies that strike a few nerve endings (usually of three distinct types) then flash through a few nerves connecting the eye to the brain. There the brain integrates all this into a cohesive image we call Red. If something upsets the eye (cataracts), nerve endings (genetic predisposition to color-blindness) or the brain itself (trauma, genetic issues or chemicals and drugs) we may not see red at all. In fact, as certain hallucinogenic drugs have shown, one may “see” almost anything from melting colors and shapes to ghosts and even as has been reported hearing colors as well. Some people are frightened when the brain fails to integrate the signals from the eye, like those experiencing a bad trip on LSD. Others like Monet or El Greco translate it into great art.

In 1965, even before the host of drug therapies became widespread, it was beginning to become clear that in most cases, certainly in the most severe cases of mental illness requiring hospitalization, the brain itself had suffered some trauma, genetic, physical, chemical, or whatever that was causing these symptoms. Environmental or social experiences then mediated how they were expressed or whether they were even expressed at all. In other words, just like with colors, the brains function to integrate the information into a sense of regularity and consistency failed.

Patients vacuumed up off the streets the night before the intake meeting because they appeared incapable of caring for themselves were brought to the hospital’s emergency room. Only the most severely distressed of them were admitted into the hospital wards where the next morning they were brought before the intake panel. After dividing out the elderly and those suffering chemical caused dementia, almost all of those remaining had one thing in common, terror. Some shutdown, others screamed and still others lashed out, but they all were tormented by something beyond their ability to handle it.

Imagine, if you will, walking down the street on the sidewalk and everything disappears into a black pit. Well, that is akin to what the patients experienced. The brain is supposed to provide a person the sense the world is reasonably regular and reliable at least as to the things we normally experience every day. Although we may intellectually know for example that the sidewalk beneath out feet is mostly empty space, our brain integrates our senses and memories and assures us we will not fall through. For whatever reason the patients brains are not presenting them with the underlying experiences of the physical world that we all assume are reliable and they panic.

Of course, with the prevalence of psychopharmacology today we rarely see this occur anymore even in the emergency rooms of major urban hospitals today. If the slightest evidence of this pathology is suspected, even if it manifests itself in early childhood, appropriate drugs are prescribed to correct whatever imbalances exist allowing in many cases healing to occur so that eventually the drugs are no longer needed. Even as it was then with hospitalization as the only therapy, the sooner following evidence of the pathology the patient is treated, the briefer was the time needed for recovery.

In 1965, however, there were more potential patients then there were beds available even with the huge mental hospital complexes that existed in the State of New York.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: So you’re a private detective. I didn’t know they existed, except in books, or else they were greasy little men snooping around hotel corridors. My, you’re a mess, aren’t you?
Philip Marlowe: I’m not very tall either. Next time I’ll come on stilts wear a white tie and carry a tennis racket.
Vivian: I doubt if even that will help.

Chapter: 18

I was awakened by the screeching doorbell. I had hoped it was Mavis bringing me café latte, donuts and some after dinner sweets. It was not. It was Joe Vu.

“Hiya Boss. You’re gonna be late. You look like hell. Nice place you got here,” he added as he walked by me into the loft.

“Did you bring the coffee and donuts? I can do without the sweets.”

“Huh”

“Never mind.”

Joe puttered around the house while I showered and dressed. We left and got into the car. It was a big black Lincoln.

“We’re downscale today,” I commented.

“Martin is using the Lexus.”

“How many cars does he have?”

“Lots, he collects them.”

“I saw the movie,” he added as we drove away from the curb.

“Movie?”

“Yeah, The Big Sleep, with Bogart and Bacall that you told me to watch. I don’t know about that Bacall, skinny bitch, no tits or ass.”

“They liked them like that then. Skinny ment rich and elegant. Today we still do skinny, but we add the tits and the butts, often fake ones, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Zaftig is out in the modern world.”

“I couldn’t figure anything out. Who killed the chauffeur and Rogan? And why was everything so dark? I liked the car though.

” Yeah, it was a sweet Plymouth. Nobody knows who killed the chauffeur or Rogan, not the guy that wrote the story, not the director of the movie and certainly not the actors. Life is like that and so is the private investigation business. Sometimes, hell most times, you simply do not know what happened and never will. And, just like in the movie, it probably doesn’t matter.

As for the dark and the shadows, in films and books that’s called noir. It’s French for dark. Dark shadows, dark thoughts and dark deeds. It’s not like real life at all. Everyone likes light in their life. If it gets too dark they go to sleep. Even bad things are usually done in the light, behind closed doors and in secret perhaps, but the lights are usually on.”

“So, I guess it was like the last one you had me watch, there’s nothing in the movie to learn about bring a private eye?”

“No, in this one there is a lot to learn and remember. For example, you’re never hired by people who have to choose between food and you. It’s always someone who has a some spare cash around. They can spend it on you or a new piece of matched luggage. It’s all the same to them. So make sure you get paid. Up front if you can.

The movie also tells you, don’t work at night. Its dangerous. Sometimes you have to work at night. Like when you’re sitting in your car with your camera watching, hoping to catch client’s husband disappearing into the motel. Still, in the world of private detecting or in life itself, nooners are safer or right after work. Late night trysts interfere with your sleep and should be avoided. Always try to charge more for night work.

Also, if your client has a good-looking daughter, sleeping with her makes the job more interesting. And if he has two, and you have to choose, choose the skinny one.

And finally never, ever have dealings with someone named Eddie Mars.”

“You’re very sick, boss. Why the skinny one?”

“I don’t know. It is one of life’s mysteries.”

We arrived at the IHOP at Fisherman’s Wharf where I was to meet Martin Vihn. We spent a good 15 minutes or so looking for a parking space. We found one half way to North Beach. We walked down the boring part of Columbus to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was chilly as it normally is in the mornings near the water. The swimmers from the Dolphin Club, their little shower caps peeking above the frigid waters near Hyde Pier had already completed most of their laps. The tourists, still drowsy, were beginning to arrive hoping to be amazed. The tee-shirt shops and souvenir stands were open and ready. As we turned toward the IHOP, a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge lit up by the morning sunlight gleamed over my left shoulder. There may often be fog in San Francisco, and like everywhere else people die here in mysterious circumstances, but to me noir was only something the City wore to a masquerade.

DAILY FACTOID:

A Golden Age?

montgomery-ward-1

(We who lived through the last half of the 20th Century undoubtedly have experienced one of the world’s greatest golden ages. However, the significance of the productivity multiples listed on the chart above needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The only productivity gains that really matter are in those related to food, energy [energy productivity gains are missing — how much more or less does it cost to travel a mile today than in 1900?] and health services. The food productivity increases are notably less robust than those experienced in the reproduction of Horatio Alger books. Also, almost all the significant gains in all categories listed in the chart occurred after WWII and based upon statistics for the first 14 years of the 21st Century those rates of growth in many areas are diminishing. In the case of food for example, the so called Productivity Multiple since 2000 actually has been decreasing.

Even in health services, despite the great advances in treatment during the past 50 or so years, their costs for similarly effective treatments has increased dramatically in the past few years so that in all too many cases the time-to-earn number is growing. Also with the emergence of antibiotic resistant diseases and a spate of new environmentally based maladies it is still up in the air as to whether the advances in health sciences will continue at the same pace and whether they will be affordable if they do.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

screen shot 2013-04-22 at 3.38.42 am

(Contrary to popular belief, at least since the Korean War US Federal Government spending [including welfare and Social Security], like budget deficits and the national debt, generally increased during Republican Administrations [except during the Eisenhower Administration] and usually fell during Democratic ones. The reasons for this vary and are often highly political. For example, during their periods in power Republicans generally lower certain taxes [most often on the wealthy and for rent seeking activities], while increasing governmental expenditures [usually by large increases in defense spending or in expanding direct transfers of federal revenue to states]. This produces a temporary appearance of prosperity, but over the long run the lowering of revenue and the maintenance or increase in expenditures leads inevitably to larger deficits and debts especially during those periods of prosperity when debts and deficits should be reduced.

Democrats, however, inheriting these increased deficits and debts, as well as criticism from the Party that created them that the promised expenditures upon which the Democrats ran for office would further increase those debt obligations, generally begin their administrations attempting to increase revenue [usually from those who benefitted from the other Party’s largess] or by cutting programs, usually those favored by the other Party [like Defense]. Proving once again that Democrats are wusses.

In any event, that’s not the problem. There is plenty of tax money received by the federal government to pay for the ever shrinking share of governmental revenues dedicated to things like defense and other discretionary expenses that the politicians like to fight over. It is the growth of transfer payments and not the shrinking share of revenue dedicated to general federal government operations, that appears at first to be a potentially serious problem.

Three of the largest components of the transfer payment or non-discretionary portion of the federal budget are, Social Security disbursements, transfers to state and local governments and various costs associated with health care.

Since 1970, US real GDP has grown a little more than three times more than it was then. Social Security payments, perhaps the largest component of transfer payments during this same time have increased more or less by the same amount [meaning its percentage of GDP has remained relatively stable].

Transfers to state and local governments on the other hand have exploded from almost nothing in 1965 to become, next to SS and Defense, the largest component of federal spending not included in the discretionary portion of the budget [The red, blue and green lines].

A major source of this huge growth occurred when the Nixon and Reagan Administration packaged many existing federal programs [such as housing and many welfare programs] into automatic transfers of tax revenues back to the states and local governments [this is partially why the poorly run State governments, primarily in the South, receive so much more federal revenue than they contribute in taxes]. This effectively put that money outside of the budget cutting debate, because no elected official likes to cut money received by his state; entitlements, if you will, that allow the state to balance its budget without raising taxes. [That Democrats went along with this dodge to fund state governments from federal revenue, further cements their reputation as the wuss party.]

The last major component of the non-discretionary spending that has grown significantly has been in health care. Independent of the issue of who is covered to receive health care and who is not, it is to try to control these costs that comprise a major goal of Obamacare. It is these cost control provisions and not the coverage provisions that those who can afford to directly oppose the program really most object to. Recall that the medicare drug program passed by the Bush administration was a direct redistribution of taxpayer funds to the drug industry without any cost controls. Obamacare thanks to the efforts of both Republican and Democratic legislators ended some of the most egregious aspects of that legislation.

Republicans are especially hesitant to curtail or eliminate transfer payments to their states [after all this was a tremendous victory for political expediency over policy]. Democrats feel the same way about Social Security. They both, until Obamacare came along, have been reluctant to take on the Health Services industry.)

B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

For those who pay attention to such things, in the last chapter of Enter The Dragon, Dragon had told Joe Vu to watch To Have and To Have Not. I made a mistake I ment The Big Sleep. Sorry.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Historically, Populism like most mass movements scours up both the worst and the best in a society as it scrapes across its depths. It is prompted by a deep mistrust of a community’s most powerful individuals and institutions who, its adherents believe, have misused and mishandled the trust they had been granted, violated the social contract if you will. As the indefatigable realist Machiavelli pointed out; ‘on the broad areas of public policy the general populace is almost always more reliable than the elite.'”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY’S CHART:

Chart_on_the_97.5_

(It never ceases to amaze me that I still am inundated by communications from those who, I suspect, decided to disbelieve the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change and search for something, anything, that agrees with their bias usually written by someone with the title of Dr. or Professor before his or her name. I surmise that before distributing the propaganda they never bothered to check to find out if the person is actually an expert in the field or if anyone who is, agrees with him.

One of the most recent missives refers to someone, whose name preceded by Dr. [area of expertise undetermined], who promotes the long discredited claim that vulcanism is responsible for all or most of the elevated carbon found in the earth’s atmosphere today.

The slightest bit of research would reveal that the carbon emitted by every eruption since records have been kept are included in most of the models developed by the scientists upon which the evidence for global warming are based. Did those people who blindly passed on the report without thinking about it actually believe that all the scientists who produced the 50,000 or so peer-reviewed articles confirming climate change just happened to overlook a major carbon source such as volcanos in their calculations?

Now in fairness to all the parties involved in the climate change controversy, I must admit that I have my own conspiracy theory on the matter to promote.

Since the beginning of the 19th Century when accurate meteorological records began to be kept, world population has grown to be more than six times larger than it was then. Today there are six billion more people alive than there were then. Yet the PPM concentration of carbon in the atmosphere [the claimed major factor in global warming.] has increased only by about 50%. Does this mean that had we maintained the population levels of 200 years ago, despite industrialization, the amount of green house gasses in the atmosphere would have remain static and perhaps even decreased? And, if so isn’t birth control the solution now?

If my speculation is accurate, then the mystery is why isn’t the birth control solution at the top of everyone’s agenda? I expect for the environmental community it is because to do so it would threaten to diminish their obsessive focus on industrial regulation. For conservatives it would mean accepting and promoting what to them is morally hateful; birth control, abortion and woman’s liberation. For the business community it means refocusing from supplying existing products to an expanding customer base, to the much more difficult task of creating new wants among existing buyers.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a quote by the economist Brad DeLong that I included in T&T a few weeks ago:

“Only with the coming of female literacy and artificial means of birth control can a society maintain both a slowly-growing or stable population and a substantial edge in median standard of living over subsistence.” *

And, it is equally appropriate for me to urge once more something I have advocated time and time again here in many T&T posts and in a number of blogs that the sooner the instruments of power in society world-wide are turned over to women, the more likely it is that we can avoid the Armageddon that may be rushing towards us.

* Note: Recent archeological evidence seems to indicate that it is overpopulation within certain pockets of hunter gatherers that led to the discovery of farming and that the resulting agricultural communities suffered a substantial decline in their caloric intake and general health as compared to the hunter gatherers that remained in the area.

According to Jared Diamond:

“There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early farmers obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops… Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed. Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease…

Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing élite set itself above the disease-ridden masses…

Farming could support many more people than hunting, albeit with a poorer quality of life. (Population densities of hunter-gatherers are rarely over on person per ten square miles, while farmers average 100 times that.) Partly, this is because a field planted entirely in edible crops lets one feed far more mouths than a forest with scattered edible plants. Partly, too, it’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it’s old enough to keep up with the adults. Because farm women don’t have that burden, they can and often do bear a child every two years…”)

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1350

Waiting for the bus.

 

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Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Cold Tits 0002 (February 20,2013)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

A. Update:

I wish to thank all of you who have inquired and expressed concern about my health these past few weeks. I appreciate it very much.

Some of you have asked me to update the status of my health. While I am happy to make an amusing story out of it, reporting on it makes me uncomfortable. To no little extent that discomfort is because I know that some of those reading this have suffered through much worse than I have. It is sufficient to report that today I feel better than I did yesterday and that I expect, at least for tomorrow, I will feel better than I do today. After that who knows.

On the other hand, I have no qualms about inflicting on you my rumination about what I see when I now look at myself in the mirror. I have never fully understood why, despite my militant self-centeredness, I have never liked looking at myself in the mirror. Perhaps it was because what I saw reminded me what little I had to be self-centered about.

A few days ago I happened to glance into the mirror and saw an old man looking back at me. Not the aging white male I saw a few weeks ago who struggled to slow the inevitable dimming of his mental and physical abilities, who hoped to see how whatever it was that interested him turned out and, who eagerly looked forward to doing something more, even if whatever it was was still hidden. Instead this old man looking back at me knew that the inevitable was already happening and all that can be done is to make it less uncomfortable, that whatever he wanted to see turn out, he probably would not, even if he lived for another 30 years. And, the urge to do something had been replaced with the all-encompassing satisfaction that comes from sitting on a park bench with his eyes closed and feeling the warm sun on his face.

B. A mysterious box:

Despite the lingering effects of the bad cold I had been experiencing, Hayden and I traveled with Stevie and Norbert to spend President’s day weekend in Mendocino with my sister MaryAnn and her husband George. Hayden and I stayed in the converted water tower on their property that we called “The Castle.”

Every morning he and I would get up earlier that the others and walk along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean watching the dawn sunlight march across the fields. On the second morning while walking through a wind-twisted mass of cypress trees that we called the “Hobbit Forest,” Hayden, as seven-year old boys often do, suddenly thrust his hand deeply on to a hollow log adjacent to the path upon which we were walking. Picturing poisonous spiders and snakes poised to chomp on his fingers, I demanded he get his hand out right away. As with most seven-year old boys, he ignored me and continued to root around until he pulled out a plastic box. Assuming it was part of a load of garbage someone had stashed in the tree, I told him to put it back before he become infected with whatever germs the refuse harbored. Instead he showed the box to me. Since it was translucent, I could see a written piece of paper mentioning an internet site called “Letterboxes North America.” The box, in addition to the note, contained a stamp with the word “live” on it, a small ink pad, a pen and a notebook with several pages of stamps and various messages. Believing it to be a clever example of guerrilla marketing for a craftsmen in nearby Fort Brag, I had him return the box to where he found it.

On the way back from our walk H. insisted we retrieve the box and take it back to the house; which we did and woke up Maryann and George to show them our treasure. Ultimately, through the wonders of the internet, we learned that we had stumbled on a cache placed there by a member of a loose association of people world-wide who hide these boxes so that other people can find them.

Apparently this all started 160 years ago in Dartmoor England where a gentleman hiking the moors thereabouts finished a bottle of whatever he was drinking and rather than simply discarding it, put a message in it and hid it in a tree. Other people who found the bottle and the message began to put their own messages in the bottle, including self-addressed post cards. Other bottles began appearing in various places around the moor and then ultimately world-wide. There is now even a web-site for the US.

We spent the next two days delightedly joining in, naming ourselves Team Haystack in honor of Hayden and searching out another box hidden by someone named, “Casper Ukulele” who had hidden a box under the stairs at the Casper Community Center.

DSCN0792

Hayden finds the letterbox.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s breath:

“Yes,’ Spade growled. ‘And when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it.’ He released Cairo’s wrist and with a thick open hand struck the side of his face three times savagely.
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

Chapter 4:

I slunk down into the back seat of the taxi, my computer clutched to my chest as though it contained my soul. All I could see out the windows were the tops of the buildings going by and a glimpse now and then of the sky.

I was conflicted. On the one hand I made my monthly nut, and was now sitting here in the taxi with $1350 more than I had about an hour or so ago. On the other-hand, I was still shaking and in pain from my injured jaw. The money seemed inadequate recompense to being slapped around and threatened with death.

As usual when I am conflicted, frightened or riding in the back of a taxi trying to hide in the car’s transmission, I resort to bathing my consciousness in the soothing balm of fantasy: In this case Sam Spade fantasy, since I had thought about him briefly just before entering the building where I got my ass kicked. The Bogart Spade, not the little shit Segal who played Spade’s son in “The Black Bird.”

I admit I also liked Ricardo Cortez who played Sam in the first film. I especially liked the pre-code scene of the naked blond Bebe Daniels splashing about in the bath-tub while Sam tried to get rid of Iva Archer his murdered partner’s wife who he was also doing on the side.

I think Bebe Daniels as Bridget O’Shaughnessey was a lot better looking than Mary Astor. On the other hand, as a result of the censors, the pre-code exposed nipples of the boy-breasts favored by the stars of the depression era were replaced in the forties and fifties by inflated melons pressing against the straining fabric hiding their nips. This provided a whole generation of adolescent males with guilt-ridden bathroom diversions until in the sixties when Playboy showed us we could have both exposed nipples and bazungas with which to occupy our prime fantasy time.

Bogart-Spade would never let himself be slapped around like I was. Once he graduated from bad-guy supporting roles where I recall him at one time being slapped around by Edward G. Robinson, to leading man, I do not think Bogart ever got slapped around again. Usually he was doing the slapping. Which was a good trick for a skinny smart-mouth to pull off.

I’m sure Bogart would never shit his pants either. I could see that idiot Segal doing so. I pictured Bogart on the can wearing a white sleeveless undershirt, a fedora perched on his head, a cigarette hanging from his lip, one eye closed from the smoke, reading the San Francisco Chronicle. His pressed white cotton boxers riding on his knees, not dropped to bunch-up around his ankles and drag on the floor. Another thing, I am sure Bogart was never constipated. He would sit there as smooth and untroubled as can be, as though he had just swallowed a bottle of mineral oil.

Bogart was a man’s man. While filming “The African Queen” while all the other cast members suffered from dysentery, Bogart remained more or less healthy because he only drank whiskey. Like many men’s men, Bogart’s drinking and smoking resulted in him dying of cancer at the relatively young age of 57. That’s how you can tell a man’s man. After they breed, they kill themselves with booze, tobacco, guns or STD. You can always tell if you are in man’s country. If there are a lot of old men around, you know the whole society has gone pussy. Alas, I only smoke weed, am afraid of guns, use a condom and I throw-up if I am forced to drink Chardonnay. I believe I am doomed to spend the rest of my life hiding out on the floor of a taxi. I feel a lot more like Joel Cairo than Sam Spade.

Now that little dick Segal, he definitely was not a man’s man. He is still alive at 79. He always looked constipated, especially in that dud of a movie, The Black Bird. I pictured him leaning forward grunting; his face red with effort, crumpled blue boxers bunched around his sagging black socks and scuffed dark oxfords. He wasn’t even wearing an undershirt. UGH!

My reverie drifted away as it began to dawn on me that, in my terror and shame, I spent the last ten minutes of my life hiding from my panic and humiliation among images of grown men taking a shit. As the black hole of depression yawned wide below me into which should I fall I was convinced I would never emerge, I heard a voice calling me back from the brink.

“We’re here pal.”

It was the pal part that got to me. I realized for the first time that the driver of the taxi was white. My sense of reality was shredded completely. I threw him some money and ran into the building hoping the comfort of home would offer some protection from my impending physical and moral dissolution.

About twenty years ago, it an effort to gentrify SOMA, some enterprising developers bought up a few abandoned warehouses, turned them into lofts and sold them mostly to downtown businessmen for hideaways. I bought into the whole idea. It was great for a while.

As I opened the door, my cell phone vibrated against my hip. It had the same effect on me that the sounds flowing from the towers of Notre Dame had on the citizens of Paris when Quasimodo swung from the bells to taunt them.

DAILY FACTOID:

Recently:

“Max Planck comes up with an equation that works. In order to do so he has to make a “purely formal assumption.” And it is only half a decade later that Einstein realizes that the little h that appears in Max Planck’s equation is not a formal assumption or an “artifact” but instead tells us what is perhaps the most important thing about the guts of the universe.

For half a decade the first equation of quantum theory was there. But nobody knew how to read it.

It is this “what if we took this equation seriously?” factor that is, to my mind at least, the spookiest thing about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics. Take the h in Max Planck’s equation seriously, and you have the quantum principle–something that was not in Planck’s brain when he wrote the equation down. Take seriously the symmetry in Maxwell’s equations between the force generated when you move a magnet near a wire and the force and the force generated when you move a wire near a magnet, and you have Special Relativity–something that was not in Maxwell’s brain when he wrote down the equation. Take Newton’s gravitational force law’s equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass seriously and you have General Relativity–something never in Newton’s mind. And take the mathematical pathology at r = 2M in the Schwarzchild metric for the space-time metric around a point mass seriously, and you have black holes and event horizons.”
Brad De Long

One of the clearer expositions of how the “mathematics” of science actually works in practice. In other words, sometimes mathematicians and physicists have no idea what their equations really mean at the time they formulate them. That is what is truly freaky about mathematics when applied to physical phenomena. It works even when we do not know it.

Another example is that of Kepler when he proposed the three laws of motion among heavenly bodies that began modern mathematical physics. He believed he was “proving” God created harmonic relations among heavenly bodies. It was Newton years later who realized what Kepler actually proved was how and why things moved in nature. Go figure.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

state_tax_by_income_level

State taxes are usually regressive. The poor and the middle class pay substantially more than the rich. That is part of the reason why, even if we include the more progressive federal income tax, the rich often pay less in taxes overall as a share of total income than the poor. That is also why, no matter what the so-called “proper” role of government may be or how small we make government, the rich still pay less of their income and substantially less of their wealth to support those expenditures than do the poor and middle classes [the 99%].

A point about income and wealth with reference to rich and poor or what we now call the “middle class.” In fact today in America it can be said that if you are not rich you are poor. The differences among those poor is between those that suffer from want and those that do not. Politics in the US in the early part of the Twenty-first Century can be described as based upon how many of those poor who do not suffer want [the middle class] can be persuaded that they are better off taking from those poor in want than from the rich [it certainly is easier].

Taxes, in the US at least, fall almost exclusively on income. The disparity between the rich and those not so rich is significantly greater in terms of wealth than in income, yet on this they are taxed hardly at all. In fact even a minor flat tax on wealth would rapidly eliminate any deficit concerns one may have no matter ones feelings regarding the “proper” size of government [It would also force the wealthy to convert, non productive wealth to productive income producing assets]. In fact, not only is wealth generally not taxed in the US but income from wealth [e.g. dividends and capital gains] are generally taxed at a significantly lesser rate than income from labor or work. The effect of this is to increase the value of wealth and lower the value of labor.

The only major taxes that can be considered to apply to wealth are “property” taxes and “excise” taxes on luxury purchases. As for property taxes, in many jurisdictions they do not exist or are at best nominal. In California thanks to Proposition 13 they are rigged to favor large landowners [generally the wealthy].

Keep in mind, even if we were to all agree that the proper role of government was restricted to just defense and public safety, the current tax system is destined to inevitably lead to you losing your job and becoming poorer and a few [along with those they deem necessary for their happiness] having it all. These few fortunate people used to be called “royalty.” Today as a result of political semantic shell games they may be called something like “job creators.” Soon enough, one’s ability to enter the world of this economic élite will be as rare as a Thirteenth Century serf becoming the Duke of Gloucester.

B. Republican Chronicles:

1. What Republicans used to think about Labor Day:

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Before the Republican Party went insane.

2. What Republicans think about their own Party:

“When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”
Barry Goldwater

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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Burger was a conservative Republican.

TODAY’S CHART:

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I know most of you have wondered about this. Although no animal can run at the top speed indicated for more that a few minutes (if that much), only humans can run at as much as 1/3 top speed almost indefinitely. In other words, almost every land based animal on earth can, in the long run, be run down by humans.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

A. Portrait of a painting:

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B. Portrait of my sister:

photo

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Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. September 28, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

48 percent of Congress members are millionaires while only 1 percent of all Americans are millionaires.
55 members of Congress have an average wealth of $10 million and 8 members have an average wealth of $100+ million.
During the worst part of the recession 2008-2009, the median wealth of a congressional member rose $125K.
The median wealth of a House member is $700,000+, while the median wealth for a senator was over $2 million.
5 of the 6 Republican members of the new Super Committee for the Budget are millionaires.

Most of these congressional millionaires are opposed to Obama’s millionaire’s tax proposal. Who still believes we elect our legislators to represent us?

TODAY’S NEWS FROM AMERICA:

Times are Hard: One of the law firms that I had been associated with puts out a newsletter for its in-house attorneys and alumni. Its latest edition listed 72 job listings for attorney’s around the country.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Recently, I had dinner with my friend Peter Grennel at Bacco’s an Italian restaurant in Noe Valley, a SF neighborhood in which I used to live and in which Peter still does. We spent much of the dinner discussing the pleasure we received from reading Naida West’s California trilogy. He also sadly informed me of the demise of the Noe Valley Mystery Book Store, a neighborhood institution. It, alas, lost its lease due to rising rents.

I travelled to Sacramento to a few days with Hayden. He seemed in good spirits and not as jumpy. That may be due somewhat to SWAC’s medications. She seemed much less frenzied than usual. She did not once express to me a need immediately to move to somewhere else or to complain about her incompatibility with her son. Nevertheless, upon my arrival she immediately departed for obviously more interesting environment than that afforded by a six-year-old.

I took Hayden to play in his first basketball game. He joined a team of six-year olds called the Warriors that play in a local community league. He had no concept of the sport. Before beginning the game, his coach told him to keep his hands in the air while guarding his man. He spent most of the game running back and forth up and down the court with his hands over his head. It appeared his favorite part of the game was falling on the floor and wrestling for a loose ball. I later found out the game was televised on the local public access system. The Warriors tied their opponents, a team of seven-year olds. Go Warriors!

Hayden and I also had dinner with my friends Norbert and Stevie and got the latest news about things coastal and California State politics. I learned that Peter Douglas has resigned as Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission for health reasons. My liberal conscience and my chthonic emotions are warring over the nature of any comments I may have, so I will make none.

After spending about 5 days in Sacramento, I returned to SF. I travelled by train from Sacramento to Emeryville where I caught a bus to take me across the Bay Bridge into The City. It was a pleasant trip.

San Francisco was enjoying that agreeable sunny weather that seems to exist only in The City, in which one could wear either a t-shirt without feeling cold or an over-coat without breaking into a sweat.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter wherever we left off last:

Vince stared into Isabella’s eyes reflected in the make-up mirror.

“So,” he said slowly, “even if I were to agree with your dramatic conclusion, which I don’t, what could we do about it? It is the authors story after all.”

“We can try to change it,” she responded.

Vince broke out laughing with a laugh that was somewhere between mirth and nervousness.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said after finishing his show of feigned amusement. “It is the author’s story. The characters can do nothing about it. They only can play their part.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” she replied seriously. “Characters often make the story and the author respond to where the logic of his character leads. Even this author said that he was disappointed in his character Ike. He expected more of him.”

“I do not think that he ment quite what you think he ment, but,” he added thoughtfully, “I admit that I am intrigued somewhat by your suggestion. How do you propose we do this probably impossible thing.”

“Well, I do not really know for sure,” she said, “but we can start by after each scene you and I going over it to try to figure out what the hell is really is going on or what’s actually in the author’s mind, or even if he doesn’t know himself we can try to understand what could happen. We would be sort of like helping the Author along if you will…for our own benefit of course.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I didn’t know that:

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach on to the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or “The Upper Crust”.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ”Holding a Wake”.

b. The Difference Between a Traditional Conservative and a Modern Conservative:

A traditional conservative accepts that religious beliefs have no place in American government but morality does. The modern conservative insists that religious beliefs control governmental policies, but morality is optional.

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”
Song of Solomon 2:3

Solomon you rascal!

d. What Adam Smith (considered by some as the “father” of Capitalism) Really Said:

“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations [Book V, Chapter II, Part II, Article 1, pp. 906-07 ]

My god! Was Adam Smith actually a socialist?

e. Profiles in Presidential Courage:

“I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.”
John F Kennedy

It is truly tragic that in the two decades after President Kennedy’s assassination the political approach to carry out these uplifting sentiments were altered by his own party to no longer indicate a commitment to society’s progress toward rough economic justice and fairness for all the nation’s citizens, but instead to require a restricted focus on identity politics directed to benefit only those who rightly or wrongly claimed to have not shared in the nation’s largesse. It became an approach directed at pitting the poor and the disadvantaged against the poor and disadvantaged along racial, ethnic, and gender lines while the privileged and secure sat by, clucking their tongues at brutish intransigence of those who had the most to lose.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“[T]he Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.”
~ Obi-Wan Kenobe

“[W]e’re living in a Dark Age of macroeconomics.”
~ Paul Krugman

If Paul Krugman is Obi-wan Kenobi then Milton Friedman is Darth Vader. If then one considers Barak Obama as Luke Skywalker, then Milton Friedman would be Barak Obama’s father. That explains everything.

TODAY’S CHART:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 2, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

70,000 BCE: At least 25,000 years before fully anatomically humans appeared on earth, a giant stone in the African Kalahari desert resembling a python was constructed, containing a hidden chamber and surrounded by broken spear heads. It has been suggested that it is possibly the site of ritual offerings and snake worship.

(or an early dope stash)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Second hand submarines:

The Thai newspapers today have followed up the story regarding the purchase of defective Ukrainian tanks by the Thai military by reporting the planed purchase of six secondhand submarines from Germany. The vessels are 30 years old and slated for decommissioning. They have an estimated life of at most an additional 10 years.

The Thai military announced that the needed the subs for national defense because nearby countries like Indonesia have some submarines. Unfortunately, conventional submarines, especially outmoded ones are designed for anti-shipping activities, the defense against which are not other submarines but air and surface vessel with anti submarine equipment.

An accompanying story revealed the real reason for the purchase. The military will have to create an additional command structure for the submarine force (More officer level appointments) and this plan for a Thai submarine fleet has existed for over 60 years and was developed during the Japanese domination of the country during WWII. Also, the military has obtained a greatly increased defense budget over which they, the military command, sets its own priorities. As I mentioned in my comments almost a year ago, this was part of the deal for military support of the current government and for suppression of the Thaksin and his Red Shirts.

(Bad ideas in the military apparently neither die nor fade away. If you give a general enough money he will bring back swords, horse cavalry and anti-ballistic missile defense. )

b. In addition to the recent earthquakes:

The weather in Thailand has become more extreme recently. There have been unusual flooding in many parts of the country, most recently in the south coupled with massive storms creating unheard of 15 to 25 foot waves in the Gulf of Thailand. The north and northeast of the country is suffering through its third year of drought.

Although attempting to generalize anything regarding climate from one season or a few months weather in a small area of the globe is unrealistic. It is interesting to note that local weather patterns experienced recently in Southeast Asia reflect precisely those predicted for the area on long-term world-wide climate models.

c. Catastrophe model:

A recent article in the Bangkok Post business section included a chart showing the yearly increase in the number of catastrophic events in the world since about 1970 as well as the annual insurance reimbursement for the damages. By far the majority of catastrophic events have been weather related, but the chart includes other natural phenomena such as earthquakes as well as man-made catastrophes.

The chart indicates the that the number of catastrophic events per year have increased almost 10 fold since 1970, while the amount of the damages covered by insurance has only grown by a factor of two or three.

Of course, a forty-year trend in world events is too brief a time period to draw general conclusions as to its cause or duration, however I can infer the following:

1. The weather and climatic trends described in the chart mirror the predictions of most climate models.
2. The increased disparity between the damages caused by these catastrophes and the amount covered by private insurance indicates either government is making up the difference through tax revenue or borrowing or more and more of the damage is going unrestored or compensated resulting in a decrease in actual sunk capital of a region or nation.

Also, in this article they describe the results that a well-known economist has drawn from this information. The economist, notes that the rate of return demanded by capital markets on debt and investments currently are higher than warranted by the apparent risks involved. This he maintains is the result of the market accounting for the unreimbursed costs and risks on the ever-increasing damage caused by the escalating number of large catastrophes.

Now if we discount for a moment my own questions about the validity of the assumptions used for this kind of economic analysis and its supposition’s reliability and assume that it more or less accurately describes the situation, then I think that one could vnture the following conclusions:

1. Inflation is just about as likely from the supply side as from the demand and monetary policy is probably inadequate a remedy.
2. Commodity prices (e.g., food and raw materials) should increase at a greater rate than justified by the temporary scarcity of the natural resources caused by the catastrophic events.
3. World capital availability will be diminished at an ever-increasing rate due to both this surcharge on capital and by the resulting inflation.
4. In an attempt to preserve their capital, those that have accumulated great amounts of it will seek its preservation by strategies that in one way or another impoverish production rather than using the capital to increase it, for as Adam Smith observed: “…all… men, love to reap where they never sowed….”

d. Sex Lottery:

The recent appearance of “Sex Lotteries” in and around the old capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya have been reported in the press. For about $1 (30 baht) one can buy a lottery ticket entitling the winner within three days or so of the announcement of the drawing to have sex with the woman of his choice, chosen from a book of photographs provided by the organizers.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am still drifting about trying to decide what to do during the next month or three. Since Hayden’s termination of his school semester and his departure to the US entail three to four weeks absent school, friends (who will be in school) or diversion, SWAC has indicated that she would be amenable to allowing him to join up with his friend Leo during the few days vacation Leo has between  completing his course in his current school and beginning his matriculation at his new school.

I suspect that she is agreeable to contemplate this option because of my unwillingness to remain in Bangkok during Hayden’s temporary forced retirement from schooling.

I also must decide if I will travel with them back to the US in early May. Right now I do not see a great problem with that since after arrival, initially I will be heading to SF and they to Sacramento.

On the other hand with SWAC all things are ephemeral at best.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed to increase suspense.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Machiavelli’s observations (The Mac. Attack?):

“In every republic there are two parties, that of the nobles (read here rich and the powerful individuals and institutions, [JP]) and that of the people; and all the laws that are favorable to liberty result from the opposition of these parties to each other.”
Discourses on the first 10 books of Titus Livius, chap IV.

Mac. was wrong. Although as Keynes observed, “In the long run we all are dead”, in the long run the “nobles” generally will prevail long before the rest of us depart.

b. Pookie’s epistle:

“Christianity was the first creed in history to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love.”
(Anonyomous)

Now I mention this not to point out any deficiency in Christianity, After all for as long as humanity has existed it has always sought comfortable metaphors to justify its penchant to slaughter its own kind. No, I only mention it as an especially apt example of humanity’s facility in the use of euphemisms to justify the murder and mayhem of members of its own species.

When humankind first dropped down from the trees like rotting fruit and stood upright to see above the grasslands of North-central Africa, it immediately set off seeking things to kill. Now some people argue that the first steps on the road to civilization was humanity’s discovery of the use of tools (technology) or symbols (language). I do not agree.

I believe that it was its dawning awareness, that unlike most other species, it could with impunity kill members of its own species, take their land, expropriate their reproduction machines and as a side benefit reduce the number of excess testosterone producers (and potential competitors). It was this awareness that made the creature we call human beings.

As we know, this was God’s way, as He, Himself, tells us in the sacred writings of the Peoples of the Book. For example in Joshua 10:40:

“Thus Joshua struck the whole country. He left not one survivor, as Yahweh, god of Israel had commanded. “

And also in Numbers 31,17.18:

“Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

Humanity, a symbol using animal, required ever more highfalutin words to encourage this unique behavior since plunder, loot and sex grew tiresome, especially as individuals aged and because about half of the species, females specifically, never completely bought into the idea. Eventually, this kill and conquer idea began to be seen by some as a scam to benefit a few members of one boy’s club or another. Even killing for “God” loses his savior faire after a while. So it became necessary for humanity periodically to come up with new words like honor, pride, patriotism, national defense, racial purity and the like to inspire enough people to go out and slaughter their neighbors to make it worthwhile. And although these words were pretty good at getting people up into a killing frenzy, it seemed the boys needed a never ending supply of  new words and phrases  to keep the, happy. No one had thought of killing people for love before the Christians came along. It worked very well for a while.

About one hundred years ago, that group of people currently occupying Northwestern Europe and North America realized that, in general, people seemed  get a little tired of killing one another for love, (or patriotism which briefly supplanted love) so they came up with and even better one word rational for slaying their adversaries, “Freedom”. Now we could happily kill people to make them free. (it should be noted that killing in the name of god appears to be a Middle-Eastern invention while killing for love Central-Mediterranean. )

Unfortunately, about a score of years ago or so, some people (another boys club most likely) realized that killing people to take their land and their reproductive machines while reducing the excess capacity of testosterone production was only a by-product of another even greater need; the need to periodically destroy the weapons and technology of destruction so that new ones can be made, thereby keeping people at work and happy and the owners of the organizations responsible for producing the ever more expensive killing machines rich and powerful.

Now it is true that the same effect could be had by tossing all the weapons and war material into a large bonfire every three years or so. But since the money to fuel the bonfire comes from the pockets of individuals, and while they may be happy to do so for a while for love, patriotism or freedom or whatever, they recognized, that the people paying for the bonfire may eventually decide to want to use their money to pay for other things than weapons to throw on to the fire. In fact, in the United States of America, there arose a debate on whether the collective funds (taxes or other exactions) should be used for things besides armaments, like roads or health care. This was ok as long as there was enough money. However, when the people paying decided that they did not want to pay more, or even as much as they had been, into the collective pot, it became incumbent upon those whose livelihood depended upon the bonfire to throw their overwhelming financial and political support to those opposed to the expenditure of their contribution of collective funds to benefit any other interest than that necessary to assuage their own fear. And as usual, in the eternal battle to control the hearts and minds of humanity, those with the most to gain win.

As Machiavelli observed 500 years ago:

“Those who counsel a prince have to fear lest he should have someone near him who in time of peace desires war, because he cannot gain his living without it.”

And for those who believe that eventually humanity (often referred to as “The People”) will recognize this and rise up and throw out those who have the wherewithal to understand and use humanity’s genetic blindness for their own benefit, it is not going to happen, never has, never will. Liberalism has never prevailed by revolution or by evolution. What we experience as periods of increasing liberality and freedom are usually merely temporary. Enjoy it while it lasts.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.”

~John Adams

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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