Posts Tagged With: Ireland

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Pepe 0005 (November 4, 2016)

 
“I see great things in baseball.”
― Walt Whitman

 

 

My condolences to Bill Yeates and his family for their great loss.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO:

One Sunday, I traveled to San Francisco to visit my mom, my son Jason and his family, and to have coffee with Peter. While sitting outside Bernie’s coffee shop in Noe Valley, I realized that something about the Golden Hills and my life there has been lacking, Laughter. Laughter seems in short supply in El Dorado Hills. Smiles, there are plenty. Why wouldn’t there be smiles? It is as close to being an ideal place to live as one can imagine. Nevertheless, I rarely hear the sound of laughter, real deep booming out of control laughter. Without laughter is one truly alive — or even healthy? When I am with HRM, I often laugh, but otherwise nada. I need to either find someone up there in the Golden Hills like Peter who can make me laugh or perhaps, I should start rewatching my favorite comedy movies or maybe old Groucho, You Bet Your Life, reruns. Laugh more — you won’t regret it.

As for my mom, she has recovered nicely from her broken hip. She even played an enjoyable game of tossing the ball around with my granddaughter and me. She would throw the ball at me when I wasn’t looking, bounce it off my head and then break out laughing. It annoyed the hell out of me.
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While sitting outside of Bernie’s drinking our coffee, Peter started a story about a trip he took many years ago. A little way into it, he stopped and said that he could not remember if what he was saying was true or if he was just making it up. I urged him to continue in any event because it seemed like a good story. So he did — and it was — something about Frank Lloyd Wright, a burning automobile, and an old lady sitting and looking out her window someplace in Nebraska.

About a week later, I returned to SF to show my cousin Frederica around the city. She had just arrived from Italy and had never seen the City before. While there, I received a call from my doctor with the most distressing news possible. Nevertheless, we continued our tour of the most impressive sights in the city and ended up for coffee with Peter at Bernie’s in Noe Valley. (Peter can be considered one of the city’s more impressive sights.) Frederica was indignant that instead of a spoon to stir the sugar into her espresso she was given one of those disposable wood stirring sticks. After a crazy time maneuvering through rush hour traffic in downtown, she took the train back to Menlo Park where she is staying with some friends and I proceeded on back to the Golden Hills.
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Frederica and I

 

B. BOOK REPORT: THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE by Tahir Shah.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu
While conversing with Peter in front of Bernie’s coffee shop, for some reason, we got into a discussion about India where Peter and Barrie spent many years and where I have, for a long time, longed to go. I mentioned a book about India I read several years ago of which I was quite fond. I could not remember its name but promised Peter I would search for it and let him know. After three days of searching on my computer, I located the book and sent the information to Peter. I also decided to buy the book on Amazon and reread it on my Kindle to see if it was as enjoyable as I remembered.

After reading a few pages, I recalled that the book was also one of the reasons I had put off traveling to India. You see, when I travel, I prefer traveling alone and although I enjoy the “Great Sights” like anyone, I especially like searching for the odd and a little dangerous — like the night I found myself in a knife fight in a rural town in Turkey that eventually prompted the leader of the Turkish mafia to demand I persuade him why he should not have me killed. I knew India for me would never be merely a visit to the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort and the like, but a lifetime commitment.

“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you. You can stay at home and read of others’ experiences, but it’s not the same as getting out of trouble yourself.”
Shah, Tahir. The Complete Collection of Travel Literature: In Search of King Solomon’s Mines, Beyond the Devil’s Teeth, House of the Tiger King, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Travels With Myself, Trail of Feathers. Secretum Mundi.
Anyway, I guess the book can be considered a travelogue. There are many great travel books, like “A Short Walk Through the Hindu Kush,” and several by Krakauer that read like great novels. Tahir Shah’s book is one also — where the travel leaves off and the novel begins, however, is difficult to discern.

The book begins with Tahir Shah as a young boy in England visited by Hafiz Jan, the hereditary Afghan guard of the tomb of his ancestor the great Muslim general Jan Fishan Kahn (a nom de Guerre that translates to, “He that Scatters Souls.”) He traveled to England because he had a vision of young Tahir, the last of his line, falling into a culvert and dying. He believed it was his duty to prevent it. Hafiz Jon is welcomed by Tahir’s father and takes up residence in Tahir’s home where he sleeps on the floor in front of his bedroom door. The Afghan guard had also spent some time before assuming his hereditary duties guarding the tomb as an apprentice to a great magician in India. The magic we are talking about here is not magic but illusion — the illusion of Houdini and the Indian god-men and sadhus for thousands of years. He began teaching the eager young Tahir the secrets of illusion. The training went well until one day, during an exhibition of Tahir’s magic educational accomplishments, a mishap occurred that almost set his parents on fire. Soon after, Hafiz Jan was sent back to India to resume his hereditary duties.

Years later, Tahir, as a young man, traveled to India found the guard, apprenticed himself to the guard’s teacher, a rather overbearing sort and after a mostly unpleasant education sets off at the request of his teacher to travel throughout India searching for “insider information.” What one learns along with Tahir are the tricks of the trade of the god-men, sadhus and the like that have enthralled millions of poor and gullible Indians and attracted hundreds of westerners to journey there to sit at the feet of holy mystics absorbing their wisdom — for a price.

“Because,” he called out, “we were on a quest . . .” “A quest for what?” “For a third eye. You see, in the seventies, India was Disneyland … it was the Disneyland of the soul.”… “[W]e had all been to India in search of the third eye, but had left with nothing but diarrhea.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

Among these Godmen, Tahir and his sidekick, a 13-year-old thief and con-artist named Balu, spent some time at a luxurious mostly pink ashram of a well known Guru and in addition to describing at length the oddness of the entire set up, recounts some of his more private weirdness:

“When it came to divine eccentricity, Sri Gobind was no exception. His followers took great pride in the tales of their teacher’s irregularities. Every so often, gripped by an insatiable desire, the guru would jump naked from his bed. Running into the heart-shaped gardens, he would relieve himself in the bushes. Or, in the middle of an address, he had been known to rip off all his clothes and anoint his flabby belly with buffalo milk butter. Each morning, his fans averred, the holy man would douse himself in a bath of potassium permanganate. The immersion gave his skin its exotic purply-brown tinge. He would dress his hair with a pomade of seasoned egg whites,-dab his earlobes with witch hazel; and spray his nether regions with his own blend of catnip cologne.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

Along the way, Tahir explores the economic and social life of India through stories about the people he meets such as the cadaver collectors and their business of providing the bones for the skeletons in most medical school classrooms of the world, and the women who rent cows after the owners milk them in the morning then stand on the street corners during the day selling the pleasure of feeding the cow to passers-by and in the evenings selling the cow patties to brick makers and so on. The reason why India with its incredibly concentrated population is not sitting on a pile of garbage and human refuse is that that very garbage and refuse is the resource that supports much of the population.

“Real travel is not about the highlights with which you dazzle your friends once you’re home. It’s about the loneliness, the solitude, the evenings spent by yourself, pining to be somewhere else. Those are the moments of true value. You feel half proud of them and half ashamed and you hold them to your heart”
Tahir Shah

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

PS: Amazon had a special on where one could buy all of Tahir Shah’s travel books for the price of one, so I bought them all. I am now enjoying his story about finding a fake map of the mythical King Solomon’s mines in a curio shop in Jerusalem and setting off to Ethiopia where he believes the mines described in the fake map might have been located — if they were real. There he hires a taxi driver as an interpreter, travels by some of the most uncomfortable and dangerous modes of transportation imaginable, explores an illegal gold mine where children are sent into the narrow tunnels and many of them die, spends several nights in an Ethiopian jail, just misses a dinner with Idi Amin, is befriended by the manager of a government gold mine who wants to emigrate to America, travels to a land where the men, instead of head hunting for a hobby, cut off the testicles of their enemies and carry them in sacks around their necks and so on and on. Alas, despite the danger and discomfort he finds nothing but adventure.

“Most journeys have a clear beginning, but on some, the ending is less well-defined. The question is, at what point do you bite your lip and head for home?”
Tahir Shah

(It sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?)

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

1. For every human on Earth, there are 1.6 million ants. The total weight of all those ants, however, is about the same as all the humans.

(Hmm, this would mean a single human would weigh the same as 1.6 million ants. Those must be very small ants.)

2. Ten percent of all the photos ever taken were taken in the last 12 months.

(I bet more than half of them are of cats or dogs and posted on Facebook.)

3. Shakespeare made up the name “Jessica” for his play Merchant of Venice.

(Why?)

4. Your chances of being killed by a vending machine are actually twice as large as your chance of being bitten by a shark.

(How does a vending machine kill?)

5. Nowhere in the Humpty Dumpty Nursery Rhyme does it say that Humpty Dumpty is an egg.

(Another of life’s verities shattered.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. DeLong on Top:

“The authors say the US went off the rails in the 1980s, when government suddenly became the problem, and hundreds of years of institutions were torn down and simply not replaced. The result is a flabby, bloated economy that is bland and non-productive. Moves in the 80s have resulted in a “negative sum healthcare system” that is entirely about processing claims, with providers hiring armies of clerks to do battle with clerks of the insurers and government over codes and reimbursement. Totally nonproductive, consuming hundreds of billions of dollars every year. There is also the financial sector, producing literally nothing, except massive amounts of new money out of thin air, or rather from computer entries in accounts. Cash issued by governments now accounts for just 6% of the money supply, as central banks have been bypassed completely. The nonproductive financial sector siphons the brightest minds and has more than doubled its share of the economy, without producing, improving or exporting anything. Quite the opposite, as wealth is concentrating to the detriment of the vast majority, including to the detriment of governments that enabled it all. Healthcare and finance account for a quarter of the American economy.”
Review by David Wineberg of, Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy by Stephen S. Cohen, and J. Bradford DeLong.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Life is one-half lies — lies you tell yourself or tell others, and one-half truth — truth that batters your beliefs or demands your acceptance. Without both, there are no stories. Without stories, what is there to life?”

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

The Mystery

This poem is ascribed to Amergin, a Milesian prince or druid who settled in Ireland hundreds of years before Christ. It is taken from the Leabhar Gabhala, or Book of Invasions and translated by Douglas Hyde (see note below).

I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am the beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am the wild boar in valour,
I am a salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a word of science,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who created in the head the fire.
Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?
(If not I)

Note: ”The three short pieces of verse ascribed to Amergin are certainly very ancient and very strange. But as the whole story of the Milesian Invasion is wrapped in mystery and is quite possibly a rationalized account of early Irish mythology no faith can be placed in the alleged date or genuineness of Amergin’s verses. They are of interest, because as Irish tradition has them as being the first verses made in Ireland, so it may very well be they actually do present the oldest surviving lines of any vernacular tongue in Europe except Greece.”
Douglas Hyde, The Story of Early Gaelic Literature.

 

C. What’s wrong with professional football today?

Professional football viewership has begun to decrease sharply. There have been many theories proposed to account for this. I believe the real reason is evident by simply looking at the sidelines during a game. It used to be that the coaches who prowled along the sidelines had that lean and hungry look, like Bill Walsh and Tom Landry. Now when one looks at those same sidelines it seems as though the coaches are auditioning for the role of Santa Claus in a Christmas pageant. If in an activity where the participants are expected to maintain a regime of rigorous self-improvement, how can one expect from them high performance when their mentors are advertisements for self-indulgence?

 

D. Comments on my prior post:

From Naida:

Hi Joe
Thanks for Ruth’s ballot advice— enlightening and entertaining. I hope she keeps sending that summation in election years. Every time I’m in the voting booth looking at the propositions I feel angry. People are elected and paid to decide those issues, yet I must do that work! — an old lady out here with many other things to do, putting off those pesky propositions until it’s too late and then hoping I know enough, usually skipping most of them and fearing that hoards of people more ignorant than I, are randomly stabbing at yes or no and collectively making wrong decisions. Hiram Johnson meant well, and the Initiative was good for a several decades, but no longer. IMO

Re turkeys:
In their brown-feathered, genetically-unaltered state turkeys are good travelers, following the waterways and making good time. They coast for long distances between wing flaps. The rivers are not barriers (Suisun Strait would be). But they can’t travel during hatching time. The moms form babysitting co-ops, 3-4 per group, about 12 pullets per mom. Those flightless fuzzy balls on long legs observe their aunties and moms pecking and scratching for seeds, bugs and more. The moms relieve each other as sentries, hopping to a high boulder. Round and round she turns, slowly. Intently watching for potential enemies. If she sees anything suspect, she emits a loud piew-piew-pieu, and they all vanish into the brush.

Someday I should publish my article on the dispersal of turkeys in CA, escapees from missions Carmel and San Jose. The State Dept of F & W tells everyone that turkeys were first introduced to CA in 1906. Actually they were re-introduced after being exterminated along with 100s of other bird species during the gold rush. Brown turkeys are smart. I’ve seen them dive-bomb our horse in coordinated attacks, circling and taking turns. They like to see him buck and kick out. They sleep in oak trees. In the early morning the leader floats down and stands there long enough to know the place is safe. Then, on signal, they all go down to breakfast.

 

From Barrie:

My family lived in the Seabrook house in Rhinebeck in 1953, the summer my dad was an actor at the Hyde Park Playhouse. There was a death mask of Wm Seabrook at the top of the stairs. He committed suicide. It was a wonderful summer and we went to tea at Valkill, Elinor Roosevelt’s home. My mother had introduced herself when Mrs. Roosevelt came to see Pygmalion in which my dad was Col Pickering.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005 ( August 25, 2016)

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005

“Fair is a body pigment, that’s all it is.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 495). Harper Collins.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Because there was no one available to drive me, I drove myself to the hospital. After passing through admitting, I found myself lying on a bed in the pre-op ward. The people involved in the surgery each came by to chat, the nurse, the doctor who wrote all over my body with indelible ink so he would not forget what he was supposed to be doing in the operating room — and the anesthesiologist. I told the latter, “Look, I don’t do pain well. I do not want to see anything, hear anything or feel anything. And, when I wake up, I want to be happy.” “ Happy,” he said, “I understand.”

As they were rolling the bed toward the operating room, anesthesiologist sidled up to us like a schoolyard dope dealer. He was carrying a large hypodermic in one hand. When I asked what it contained, he garbled two polysyllabic words I did not understand, and added, “ Also something I am not allowed to mention.” He then plunged the hypodermic into my IV line and ran off chuckling.

They wheeled me into the operating room and placed the bed next to the wall where I would wait for everything to be made ready. I closed my eyes, after a few moments I became annoyed it was taking so long, so I opened my eyes and said to the nurse, “What’s taking so long?” She said, “The operation’s over, you’re in the recovery room now.” I was very happy. I remained happy the entire evening. I even enjoyed the hospital food. I remained happy three days later as I write this.

I was scheduled to leave the hospital the day after the operation but they would not let me leave unless someone came to drive me home. I tried find someone to do so, but no one was available. I thought I would just sneak out, get in my car and drive home. But, they refused to remove the IV before whoever was driving me showed up. I thought of just ripping it out and making a break for it, but like I said I don’t do pain well. So, I suggested they call a taxi. They did so. The nurse removed the IV to allow me to dress and left to deal with her other patients. I quickly dressed, walked out of the ward and the hospital, got into my car, and drove myself home. When I arrived home, I received a call from the nearly hysterical nurse asking where I had gotten to. I told her that since I saw no one on the ward to accompany me after I dressed, I decided to walk to the reception area to wait for the taxi. There I met some people I knew that kindly drove me home. I suggested she call the taxi company and cancel the ride. Although I was still happy, I was sad about the stress I caused the nice kindly nurse. On the other hand, I was home and I was pleased I did not have to go back to pick up my car.

My euphoria extended to my desires. Things that had been reduced to smokey memory exploded in blazing promise. I guess that makes me now a dirty old goat. There is nothing more reviled than a dirty old goat — no, make that everyone reviles a dirty old goat other than the dirty old goat himself. He knows the condition is ephemeral and temporary like puberty. He knows that to anyone who lived for over 75 years one, two, or three years of anything is just a drop in the bucket of one’s life and the next best thing to meaningless.

After my post op meeting with my doctor next week, I plan to travel to Thailand for a month.

In the meantime, I spend the mornings walking around the lake in Town Center and the afternoons escaping the heat by resting in the house with blinds drawn.
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Town Center Lake

During my morning drive to his new Middle School, HRM makes sure I laugh during the entire trip so that I am diverted from droning on with grandfatherly advice.

There has been a massive earthquake in Italy yesterday. Its epicenter was about 20 miles from my familiy’s towns in Sabina. My son Jason is there now on vacation. I called him. He was ok but they were still feeling the aftershocks. There appeared to be little damage in Casperia or Roccantica where most of the relatives live.
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Casperia

B. WARREN HINCKLE, RIP:

Warren Hinckle died today. Although he gave voice to the political aspirations of the counter-culture of the 1960s, most people from San Francisco would recognize him as the eye-patch wearing journalist-political gadfly who a few weeks before election day would publish a political broadsheet happily skewering most of the candidates.

While I could never say we were friends, over the years we would occasionally meet up and spend a delightful time together drinking heavily and talking deeply. Many of those meetings occurred at an annual Christmas/New Year’s party in a well-known Greek restaurant attended by many of the City’s great, near great and those who thought themselves as great. Hinckle and I would retire to a booth and enjoy a pleasant boozy few hours swapping political tales and scandals. Another time, we sat in the stands together at a Superbowl in Miami when the Niners demolished San Diego and spent much of the second half when the game was far out of reach for SD, gossiping about the peccadilloes’ of the high and the mighty.

While no one would refer to him as kind and gentle, he took such joy in his occupation and his one eye would twinkle so gaily that, even if you were the object of his diatribes, you would sooner rather than later forgive him.

Although I will miss him, the City of San Francisco will miss him more. He undoubtedly will be enshrined in the pantheon of the City’s greatest characters along with The Emperor Norton, Dashiell Hammett, and Carol Doda.
From his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“‘Warren was the godfather of California — and you could say, national —progressive journalism,’ said David Talbot, whose book ‘Season of the Witch’ details the tumultuous history of San Francisco from the 1960s to the early ’80s. ‘As a newsman, he just loved the ’60s as a story, with all its weirdness, from the Black Panthers to hippies in the Haight to the Kennedy assassination. No publication caught it better than Ramparts — it led directly to publications like Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and Salon,’ the web magazine Talbot co-founded in 1995.’”
“One of the milestone moments for Mr. Hinckle came when he assigned Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby in 1970 for Scanlan’s Monthly. The resultant rollicking article, ‘The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,’ not only launched the over-the-top, personalized journalism that came to be known as gonzo, it began a lifelong friendship between Mr. Hinckle and Thompson.”

“‘In the beginning, we all believed,’ Mr. Hinckle wrote on the first page of the book (His autobiography, ‘When you have a Lemon, make Lemonade’). ‘We believed in many things, but mostly in America. If the decade must be summarized, it could be said that the youth of America, who had so recently studied it in civics classes, tested the system — and it flunked.’”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The First Centuries: (continued from last post)

Around 300 BC everything changed — at least in the part of the world we are interested in. About then, The Boy King of Macedonia, Alexander, soon to be granted the title, The Really Great, graduated from middle school and decided he wanted to see the world before continuing his education. So, along with about 40,000 of his closest friends he set off and along the way conquered much of the known world (at least the world known to him and his friends) and a lot of the world they never knew about — until about 10 years later they found themselves camped on the edge of a river in India. One evening, most of his friends came up to The Really Great and said, “Look Alex, it’s been 10 years now, it’s really been fun but we really have to get back to our education and jobs. So, tomorrow we are heading back. You can come along or not.”

Alex cried. He knew they had to get back, but he really had his heart set on spending a few weeks on a beach on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, kicking back and drinking Mai Tais with little pink umbrellas.

So, the next day they set off back to where they came from and where some of his closest friends, his bros, poisoned Alex and split up his empire among themselves. Now although this is important, it is not what interests us here. What does interest us here is that Alex and his Hellenes (what they were called instead or Greeks) would plant whole cities filled with Hellenes every place they went, like rabbit droppings. It seems for some reason, a whole lot of Hellenes wanted to live anywhere but Greece.
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Hellenes — apotheosis?

Even near Galilee in Canaan they built 10 cities for these Hellenes to live in called the Decapolis (“ten cities” in greek).

Another thing about these Hellenes was that they were way cool. They loved sex with everyone of any age and any sex. They partied late into the night drinking strong wine and talking about triangles, walking into walls, and smokey shadows in caves. They liked dressing up like the KKK and going into caverns late at night, bringing in blindfolded people who wanted to join their club and making them believe they were going to die or eat ca-ca. Then they would then take off the blindfolds and discover they were eating dolmas and not ca-ca and everyone would slap them on their back and they would become very happy knowing they could now do this to others.

Also, many of the Hellenes could write, not just the scribes, accountants, and priests in the temple and what they wrote about was marvelous, like the meaning of putting your toe in a fast flowing stream or the meaning of words you always thought you knew what they meant, really mean something you never thought about. They seemed to be curious about everything.

About 100 years after they arrived on the scene, some of the more curious of these Hellenes would encourage a few Semitic speakers to write down in Greek the collected stories of some of their people. They copied these tales into a book, or scroll more likely, called the Septuagint for reasons too long to tell here. What is interesting about this book is that it was not written in Canaan but in Egypt where the fantasies of Anknahten still floated around the elite and educated class and where the Hellenes living in and around Alexandria in Egypt were also into some crazy mystical shit and crystals.

Back in Canaan and just about everywhere these Hellenes settled, many Nabateans, Arameans, Samaritans, Judeans and other Semitic speaking people moved into the cities with the Hellenes to enjoy the good life. Many Hellenes also moved into local cities like Jerusalem where they continued their antics — A lot like the Hippies flooding into SF in the sixties.

Alas, many of the people living in the hills, dells, and hamlets of Canaan did not like the Hellenes ideas and behavior and saw them as irresponsible and dangerous, and a threat to their way of life. Sort of like in the sixties when most of the country saw the Hippies with their sex, drugs, rock and roll and enlightened consciousness as a threat to their way of life. It seems there are always those who believe being happy and enjoying oneself is irresponsible and evil, but being angry, miserable and oppressed as they were was nature’s way. So it was also in Canaan at the time and, like the satisfaction many Americans felt after Altamont, a lot of people went about searching for a reckoning of sorts.
(to be continued in the next post)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Of all the honors I have received, the one of which I am most fond was when the secretaries of the California Office of Planning and Research voted me “Telephone Asshole of the Year.”

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Globally, the value of all outstanding derivatives contracts (including credit default swaps, interest rate derivatives, foreign exchange rate derivatives, commodities-linked derivatives, and so on) was $630 trillion at the beginning of 2015, while the gross market value of those contracts was $21 trillion.”
Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. On Top: Ecological Causes of the war in the Middle-East.

In an insightful analysis Gianluca Serra, examines the Civil War in Syria. He points out that it is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes — a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a ‘rural intifada’ of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

“A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.
Back in 2009, I dared to forecast that if the rampant desertification process gripping the Syrian steppe was not halted soon, it could eventually become a trigger for social turmoil and even for a civil war.

I was being interviewed by the journalist and scholar Francesca de Chatel- and was feeling deeply disillusioned about Syrian government’s failure to heed my advice that the steppe, which covers over half of the country’s land mass, was in desperate need of recuperation.

I had just spent a decade (four years of which serving a UN-FAO project aimed at rehabilitating the steppe) trying to advocate that livestock over-grazing of the steppe rangelands was the key cause of its ecological degradation.

However, for the Syrian government’s staff, it was far too easy to identify and blame prolonged droughts (a natural feature of this kind of semi-arid environment) or climate change (which was already becoming a popular buzzword in those years). These external causes served well as a way to escape from any responsibility — and to justify their inaction.

In an article on The Ecologist, Alex Kirby writes that the severe 2006-2010 drought in Syria may have contributed to the civil war. Indeed it may — but this is to disregard the immediate cause — the disastrous over-exploitation of the fragile steppe ecosystem.

Before my time in Syria, as early as the 1970s, international aid organizations such as the UN-FAO had also flagged the dire need to not apply profit-maximization principles and to therefore not over-exploit the fragile ecosystem of the Syrian steppe.

Denial versus the power of an image

Finally, tired of repeating the same words all the time, I resorted to showing the government staff a self-explanatory picture taken in March 2008, a year of intense and dramatic drought. An image speaks more than a million words, I thought.

The picture [ not included] portrayed a fence separating a steppe terrain in two parts: the area on the left was open to sheep grazing; the area on the right had been instead protected for at least 10 years. The image revealed a lunar rocky landscape on the left, and a blossoming pasture on the right.

The image simply evidences, without need for any words, that the Syrian steppe ecosystem is perfectly adapted to cope with droughts — yes, even with extreme droughts exacerbated by climate change. However, this landscape can succumb easily to human irrationality and indifference. In front of that image, even the most verbose governmental staff would come to a pause — the jaw dropped for a moment.

In 2014, three years after social unrest first and then a brutal civil war erupted in the country, Francesca de Chatel published an interesting essay arguing that the inability of the Syrian government to tackle the rampant steppe’s ecological crisis, steadily unfolded over the course of 50 years of sustained mismanagement, has been one of the key triggers of the armed conflict in the country.

She mentions as other critical triggers the too fast economic liberalization plan, high rates of unemployment and corruption, and, sure enough, a long-term and suffocating lack of freedom.

Over-exploitation of an ecosystem

The Syrian steppe covers 55% of the country’s territory. This vast steppe land, together with portions from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has been grazed sustainably by nomadic indigenous pastoralists (Bedouins) for centuries (if not more). Each tribe and clan was linked to certain seasonal pastures and this ensured the sustainability of the grazing — a practice finely calibrated on the need of plant regeneration.

These pastoralists of Arabia are known to have been pioneers in establishing ‘protected areas’ (hema): certain pastures were relieved from grazing, permanently or temporary, in order to allow keeping the whole ecosystem healthy and functional.

The beginning of the ecological degradation and destruction came with the modern state, so keen to uncritically import ideas of maximization of agricultural yields from the Soviet Union: in particular the central government decided to nationalize the steppe in 1958, establishing de facto an open access system — a well-known recipe for ecological disaster.

Through this arrangement the customary link between the natural resource and its user was interrupted — abruptly disowning the traditional ecological knowledge of this ancient people. The pastures, not managed and protected anymore by the tribes, started to be over-grazed by free-ranging pastoralists.

A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

A similar sort of story of gross mismanagement took place in the eastern part of the Syria’s steppe land, the territory east to the Euphrates, allocated to intensive agriculture via irrigation through underground water.

Water has been pumped from limited underground reserves without much control for decades — so that wells had to be dug every year deeper and deeper with increasing consumption of fuel.

Year by year, desertification sets in

The alternation of wet and dry periods (sometimes lasting up to 5-7 years) is a key structural and natural feature of this kind of environment. The relentless ecological degradation of this semi-arid fragile ecosystem produced a gradual and steady decrease of its resilience in the face of cycles of droughts made increasingly more severe and frequent by a long-term regional drying pattern linked to the greenhouse effects.

Note that increasing the resilience of ecosystems is actually one of the key natural solutions as adaptation to climate change, as it is currently referred to within the circles of climate change international aid work.

While in the past the steppe was able to recover even following intense periods of droughts, during the past decade pastoralists and farmers have started to complain about a sharp and ineluctable reduction in soil fertility and an increase of frequency of fierce dust storms due to erosion.

An evident desertification process has been on display across the steppe land for quite some time. Recommendations to reduce the ecological pressure on this fragile environment — from myself and others — went unheard.

Ecological crisis fans the flames of rebellion

Following a recent cycle of intense drought during 2006-2010, the agriculture system eventually collapsed in eastern Syria greatly facilitated by an abrupt halt of government subsidies and consequent soaring prices of fuel for wells.

At the same time, the ecological impoverishment of the rangelands reached unheard-of levels. “The drought only brought to light a man-made disaster,” said a local journalist from eastern Syria to the International Crisis Group in 2009.

This combined ecological crisis of croplands and rangelands created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the rural areas of the country, followed by massive internal displacements, that the government clearly failed to tackle and manage.

For the first time ever Syria, known to be proudly autonomous in terms of food production (and actually even exporting food), had to rely on a massive international emergency food aid in 2008.

It is therefore not a coincidence that the uprising in 2011 started in provincial towns rather than in the major urban centres of Damascus and Aleppo, Francesca De Chatel argues, aptly defining the rebellion as a “rural Intifada” — one in which Bedouin tribes of steppe origin played a key role.

The same sort of conclusions were reached in analyzing the triggers of the Darfur war that took place from 2003 to 2010 not far from Syria. Darfur suffered from precisely the same sort of over-exploited semi-arid ecosystem, while once again rural and indigenous people were the victims, including nomadic pastoralists.

Life-enabling ecological conditions first

Only in recent times has the key role of ecological conditions in shaping the socio-economy of human populations and civilizations been fully acknowledged and understood. Thanks to a solid western ‘modern’ cultural legacy, until a short time ago, there had been quite strong resistance preventing an appreciation of the link.

Still, in our current consumerist society’s mainstream (sub)culture, nature is perceived as nothing else than a commodity or an ornament for National Geographic covers. But certainly our lifestyle and economy is still completely dependent on available natural resources and on functional ecosystem services.

The good news seems to be that eventually and increasingly these days, the link between ecology and economy (and socio-politics) is analyzed, elaborated and underlined. After all, ecology and economy have the same suffix ‘eco,’ derived from the Greek oikos (home), not by coincidence.

Mismanagement of earth’s resources

Climate change is a major threat to the whole human civilization in the short and medium term — as it is already emerging in the eastern Mediterranean and Syria, and other parts of the world. This ultimate challenge is like the last call for humanity to start reforming deeply an anti-life economic system, as well argued by Naomi Klein in her last book This Changes Everything.

Hopefully, this new awareness will be the basis for a new era in which the economy is deeply reformed in line with the principles of ecology. The time has come to wisely adapt the ‘norms and rules of the house’ (= Economy in Greek) to the foundation principles of the house (Ecology= ‘knowledge of the house’ in Greek) — and not the other way round, as we have thought and done during the past 200 years.

Otherwise, we will simply re-enact once again the same kind of drama that seemingly has already occurred innumerable times on the planet in the course of the human civilization parable. Civilizations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they did not change.”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while, all too often, all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.

C. Today’s Poems:

Love is not splendid

Love is not splendid
At best
it is
a blister on your foot
or an empty room.
I live on borrowed things

I live on borrowed things
On stories and songs
On breath and brawn

Borrowed then left
When I move on.
THE BIG STORM

They say,
it is coming,
THE BIG STORM.
They say,
it will knock down bridges,
with its howling wind,
flood valleys,
scrape the earth from the hills
and end the drought.
They say,
it will do all of that and more.

I stare
through the window
at the grey black sky
and wonder
if I will be disappointed.

 

D. Comments on my previous post:

1. Ann Marie.

I was glad to hear you were feeling better. Hope MaryAnne is as well.

You said you drove yourself to the hospital, and I didn’t see any follow-up on that. Everything ok?

As always it’s fun to read your stories. Hope you’re doing ok.

2. Peter.
Ozymandias and the old creeping the petty pace till the last syllable of recorded time (or, now, until the next commercial).

I’m reading a fascinating book called “Brazillionaires” by Alex Quadros. About this group of people who have $2-$30 BILLION! EACH. He suggests that it may be partially genetic, but however, they have a tremendous drive to achieve – what he finally concludes is – power. After awhile the goodies that immense riches can provide recede into the routine. The energy, the entrepreneurial urge, the incessant work — one of the richest married a gorgeous carnaval queen and Playboy centerfold who eventually left him because he worked all the time — guess some have it, some don’t. I don’t. Although I rule my ant farm with an iron fist.

Look, it’s clearly the Age of Kali. The drought, the fires, the floods, the poisoning of the land and water, the spreading hordes of too many people, the Trumpians whose outpatient privileges should have been revoked long ago — Scandinavia is too small, too white, too lacking in Rosso buco and Lenny Bruce — chanting, chanting, …..

Ok, so the Semites kept going back and forth between Egypt and Babylon, over hundreds of years. Now the so-called modern humans migrated in dribs and drabs out of Africa over a long period, crossing into Mesopotamia and on to China, the islands, and Australia, while others turned north and west into Europe. But eventually the Semites could’t sit still and did their little migratory dance, creating myths and legends to eventually justify booting out whoever was occupying their next stopover. Here’s the goofy part: And people Believed this stuff! Accepted it as “gospel”. No one learned anything — except he who wins writes the history.

As I said, he who wins writes the history. Viva the alphabet, though. After all, the oral tradition lasts roughly two hundred years or so. Even with eventual evolution to practical telepathy, that can’t last longer. And while the Internet Archive folks are valiantly trying to save everything on the internet before it, too, vanishes, in the end will still be the alphabet. Presumably.

Oh yes! I remember the evening in your house where we reviewed the draft sign logo and discussed at length whether the feet should look more “realistic” and less stylized. And lo, there they are.

My response.

Thanks for the comments. Some will go into next t&t. After my operation, I am well enough to travel. I plan to leave for Thailand on Sept. 2. Return Oct 2 or thereabouts. Maybe I’ll see you then.

Never forget, although old Ozy’s head in the clouds soon disappeared, his Birkenstock shod feet remained forever in the sand. What this means, as you get older you realize that the health of your feet is more important than the health of your head.

The tragedy of bazillionairs it that they can no longer truly experience the pleasures of poverty although carnival queens and playboy centerfolds may help to ameliorate that loss.

I suspect the age of Kali begins for each of us at birth. And ends when all we have left is our feet in the sand.

Please give Sherry my best.

I will see you soon — hopefully before Ozy and Kali get up to dance to Blind Lemon Pledge.

Peter again.

Glad to hear you up and around. How’s Maryann doing?

Indeed, healthy feet rule. My father lost a foot to diabetes in his later years; real drag. I hope I avoid that. As to “health of head,” my brother told me once, after he had made one of his regular visits to his then mother-in-law who had ended in a home and was more or less physically ok [he was an RN] and I inquired about her, said: “She’s happy as a clam.” Wasn’t much going on, though.

Re: brazillionaires, yes, they are monomaniac about work, many are little short guys, don’t eat much, don’t do much else. I recall my father, who knew John D. MacArthur a little, said about him, that even in his very late years he awoke early and went to the office every day, miming old dog old tricks. Seems none of them had a money bin to dive into like Scrooge McDuck. No joy.

Pettiness is Not next to godliness: The letter “b” key on my laptop is not working properly, so I often have to back up [just did] to make sure it prints. I’m postponing the inevitable trip to the apple store to get it fixed (and argue against buying a new machine because of the IMMENSE HASSLE of transferring everything. Meanwhile, having finished “Originals” and “Brazillionaires, I’ve started reading the next book, “Chaos Monkeys”; this, from a guy who worked at Goldman Sachs and then went to Silicon Valley, ending up at Facebook. All sounds awful. Money fixation causes really pathological behavior – but we knew that.

Kali Mata ki jai!! and bon voyage. I assume you’ll leave all of your yellow and red T-shirts at EDH. See you after your return, apparently on Gandhi’s birthday.

3. Aline.

OK. You can’t leave it hanging like that. Why did you drive yourself to the hospital? Are you okay?

My response.

I had a minor overnight procedure scheduled. No one was available to drive me to and from the Hospital. The operation was a success and I am back home now.

I enjoyed your photographs from your trip to Sicily. It seemed like you had a great time.

Aline again.

One cannot have a bad time in Sicily. The only bad thing was the trip was too short. I rode in a Fiat down cobble stairs through narrow streets scaring people and cats. I saw the best war memorial museum I have ever experienced. It was very realistic. There were pictures of Catania before the bombing, an air raid signal went off and we all ran into a bunker, the lights went off and we heard bombs going off and the bunker shook. After a time, the all clear was sounded and we left the bunker to view pictures of Catania after the bombing. Chilling. Then a complete shock – coming out of the museum, Comican was going on with many people dressed in their favorite anima characters. I also met with Anthony Provenzano, son of Tony Provenzano who ran the Mafia for years.

4. Bill.

You “outed” me. I did not expect to re-read my email to you in the latest “This and that . . .”. Carol would be a bit brought down about me discussing her health. Although I am touched by your thoughtfulness in sharing your thoughts about what we are going through. Anyway, I am glad these folks know the opportunity you provided me and that you are to blame for what I did or did not do well thereafter. I do recall that hike at Pt Reyes. The hike and my birding were getting in the way of your desire to get to Bolinas for some ice cream. One of my favorite trips that summer was an all day trip to Napa/Sonoma and finding an out-of-the-way vintner who named an especially drinkable jug red wine after his grandfather JD Martin. I think the vintner’s name was Tom Johnson (he is probably a very wealthy vintner now). When Tom told you why they named the wine JD Martin Red Table Wine – because they combined some varietals that just did not quite make the grade on their own, but when mixed together made the kind of red wine his wife’s grandfather loved to drink — you and I bought 4 cases of the jug wine. The end of that trip was challenging when you burned up your VW’s engine, because you ignored the red light on your dash that had you looked in the owner’s manual would have told you your catalytic converter was overheating. I ended up pushing that VW for a few hundred feet up the Golden Gate Bridge (that bridge is not flat!) until a Golden Gate Bridge tow truck pushed us the rest of the way and then towed you to some gas station. I think Don Neuwirth was with us. I remember Don sharing your aversion to the natural environment.

Be well my friend and mentor.

My response.

I apologize. As usual I acted without thinking.

When I started writing T&T eight years ago, I began to include comments and correspondence at the bottom of my blog when I repost it. I found however that it could go for many months before anyone acknowledged they had read it. So, I began including them in the body of T&T so I would not forget them. Recently for some reason, I have received more comments than usual and my excitement overcame me.

I hope I did not upset Carol. Please give her my apologies also.

Unless you object, I will strike out anything that could be construed as referring to her.

As for you comment. On that day we hiked Point Reyes, I recall a bird flew by in front of me from a bush on the side of the trail to one on the other. You did not see it, but when I exclaimed, you identified it merely from the sound it made as it flew by. To me that was magic.

Thanks for reminding me of that memorable trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.

My operation appears to have been a success, so I am leaving for Thailand next week. I will return in October. I hope I will be able to visit with you then.

Bill again.

Great news about your operation. Enjoy your trip to Thailand.

No need to strike anything from This & that. No worries.

Yes, I hope we can get together upon your return to the Golden Hills and State.

I hope your sister is feeling better.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S TEST:

The following is the test HRM was given on his first day of middle school. I bet you cannot pass it.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joe 0003 (August 7 2014)

“The long lived know how to love long.”
Not an old Norse proverb.

Happy Birthday Stevie Dall and Katie Dreaper

Birthday remembrance: Smedley Butler the man who saved the US from Fascism – He would have been 133 on July 31.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. THE BOYS IN FRONT OF RIZZO AND DAUGHTER NEW YORK CIRCA 1910:
xl_american_odyssey_058-059 - Version 2

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The heat continues along with drought and ennui. I look forward to the hour or so each day spent at the archery range. HRM has been pleasantly well-behaved for a week. He says he is doing so in order to persuade us to buy him a pet Tortoise.

In a recent call, my daughter Jessica, who works in the US State Department assisting in coordinating the US response to international micro-biologic threats to the nation such as the recent Ebola virus outbreak and the like, bemoaned the attacks she gets from conservative relatives and friends for working for the government, obviously squandering the tax money they struggle mightily to not pay. I suspect they believe she should be working in some corporate lab somewhere improving the cosmetic uses of Botox. On a positive note she told me that she did not think the Ebola virus has mutated yet to become more contagious than it has been and therefore remains containable. These outbreaks are periodic and localized provided reasonable quarantine steps can be taken. The real fear would be if it mutates to become an air-borne pathogen.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

I am always surprised, although I should not be, whenever I come upon examples of the hatred in America directed at those servicing the needs of others like, teachers, social workers, first responders, scientists and the like. My own experience indicates that this hatred comes all too often from men who have failed to achieve their dreams of dominating others physically or economically (some of the same men who believe that the only legitimate activities of government are to kill foreigners and regulate vaginas). These men seem also to be becoming less educated while women on the whole are becoming more so.

For these and other reasons, I believe that the modern world is both too dangerous and too fragile to be entrusted almost exclusively to men. Sooner rather than later, leadership of our major institutions needs to be changed from the 95% dominated by men to 95% managed by women. After all, why should political and economic power be overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of a gender whose only genetic basis for it is their ability to stand at the entrance to the cave and fend off attacks of saber tooth tigers while the real work of human survival is performed by the women within.

Then again, who the hell cares what I believe?

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

I have roamed through Ireland several times on extended trips of three weeks or more. In about 1980 or 81, I travelled with a group that took part in traditional Irish folk dancing in pubs throughout the country. Irish folk dancing or ceilthe consists of jigs, reels, quadrilles and the like set to traditional Irish tunes such as “The Walls of Limerick”, “The Waves of Tory” and “Antrim Reel.” On Saturday evenings in the remote villages when they stop serving alcohol in the pubs, they clear away all the tables and chairs, the musicians come in and the people of the village dance until the early hours of the morning.

One Afternoon, while on this particular trip, the group stopped at a pub in a little village in County Clare. There we met Junior Crehan one of Ireland’s greatest fiddlers and storytellers. Sitting with him was the Irish singer and composer Tommy Lenihan* and a representative of the Department of Irish Folklore, Tom Munnelly. Crehan and Lenihan were relatively elderly, in their late seventies or early eighties. We spent the afternoon and evening with them, buying them beer and listening to their music and stories.
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Junior Crehan

Most of the stories described what it was like in the early days when they played their music at remote crossroads before the authorities and the priests found out and chased them away. At one point, however, after playing a tune, Crehan put down his fiddle, took a long swig of his beer, leaned back and said, “There was the time Diarmuid met the Queen of the West Indies.” (Diarmuid Ua Duibhne was a warrior of the Fianna and lover of Fionn mac Cumhaill’s [Finn MacCool in English] betrothed, Gráinne). He proceeded then to relate an elaborate tale about when Diarmuid and Fionn leader of the Fianna travelled to the West Indies and how Diarmuid tricked Fionn, bedded the beautiful but terrifying queen and got away with it. The telling, in obvious poetic rhythms, was mesmerizing and took the better part of an hour. Later Tom Munnelly told me that he had been following Junior around for ten years recording his music and hundreds of stories of the old Irish heroes and legends and had never heard that one before. The story also does not appear in the traditional canon of Irish myths and legends.
IMG_20150120_104850_296
Diarmuid (Note: Diarmuid had a “love spot,” a mole on his back that when fondled made him irresistible.)

Lenihan, who was a farmer, had just come from working at his farm nearby. When he was not farming he composed songs and sung them in the fields as he worked and at the local pubs. He had composed about seven hundred songs and recorded many of them. He sang a few of them for us. One of those songs was called The American Wake, a beautiful and melancholy tale about a father during the time of the famine seeing off to the US his daughter on one of the immigration ships knowing he would probably never see her again.
IMG_20150121_173641_740
Tommy Lenihan, Tom Munnelly and Junior Crehan as they appeared that day at the Pub in Miltown Malbay

A few days later we traveled to Spiddal a Gaeltacht (Gaelic Speaking) village on the shore of Galway Bay a few miles northwest of Galway city. There we met with Mary Bergin and her husband at their Gaelic musical instrument shop. Mary Bergin is perhaps the foremost penny whistle virtuoso in Ireland. The penny whistle became an instrument of choice for Irish musicians because it was easily hidden. That was a necessity during the several centuries of English occupation when after failing in their attempts to kill all the Irish so that the land could be settled by the English they resorted to the interesting tactic of making the playing of music a capital offense. They did succeed in killing all the Irish Harpers. It was during this time that the Irish bagpipes (uilleann pipes) were developed so that the musician could sit down in a cottage and play pipes that were not as loud as Scottish bagpipes and hopefully could not be heard by a passing solider. The pipers escaped the fate of the Harpers because the Ascendancy (Irish Protestant aristocrats) brought some of them into their homes as in-house musicians. Also, at this time Irish step dancing acquired that strange rigid arm at the sides form it is now noted for. It allowed dancing in the tiny cramped cottages where flinging ones arms about would be difficult.

We spent the day talking with Mary and listening to her and her husband play music. Her husband was a well-known craftsman of flutes and an excellent flautist in his own right.
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Mary Bergin

That evening we went to a local pub where we sat with a man who was introduced to us a Ireland’s premier Gaelic tenor. I do not recall his name and although he was relatively young by the standards of Junior Crehan, he only spoke and sang in Gaelic. Although we could not understands the words, it appeared clear that many of the songs were of unrequited love of some sort or another and suitably heart rendering.

*Tom and Margaret Lenihan lived in a farmhouse in Knockbrack, a few miles outside Miltown Malbay. He was a farmer and also the local butcher as well as a well-known Irish traditional singer. His most popular album is entitled Paddy’s Panacea. The American Wake has been recorded by Irish musicians and singers several times since then but I do not know if they are renditions of Tommy’s original or separate creations. Perhaps someday I may get around to listening to them.
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The Lenihan farmhouse

DAILY FACTOIDS:

1931: Barbara Cartland, the British author best known for penning many — some say too many — romance novels, helped develop a technique of towing gliders long-distance. It was used to deliver airmail and later transport troops.

1870: Victoria Woodhull, American stockbroker. Along with her sister Tennessee, she set up Wall Street’s first female-owned brokerage company that year and made a fortune on the New York Stock Exchange. She was also the first woman to run for US president. We all know how that turned out, but hopefully we will soon see a different result.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Lowering Testosterone benefits everyone.

“According to Duke University researchers, creating art and complex tools became widespread among modern humans approximately 50,000 years ago.

New research reveals that human skulls transformed in ways that suggest a decrease in testosterone levels at about the same time that culture was flourishing.

‘The modern human behaviors of technological innovation, making art and rapid cultural exchange probably came at the same time that we developed a more cooperative temperament,’ explained lead author Robert Cieri, a biology graduate student at the University of Utah.

The research advances the argument that human society progressed when people began being kinder to each other, which requires that a smaller amount of testosterone be in action.”
Read more: http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/low-testosterone-levels-led-to-less-head-clubbing-and-more-art-technology/#ixzz39I088P6Q”

B. The ‘Night Witches,’ Russian WWII fighter pilots

“It was their enemies, the Nazis, who gave these women their nickname. Officially, they were the members of the Soviet Air Forces’ 588th Night Bomber Regiment. To the German pilots they fought, however, they were tormentors, harpies with seemingly supernatural powers of night vision and stealth. Shooting down one of their planes would automatically earn any German soldier the Iron Cross.

The legendary 588th was one of three all-female Soviet squadrons formed on Oct. 8, 1941, by order of Josef Stalin. The few hundred women who belonged to them — picked from thousands of volunteers — were the first of any modern military to carry out dedicated combat missions, rather than simply provide support.

The 80-odd Night Witches had arguably the toughest task of all. Flying entirely in the dark, and in plywood planes better suited to dusting crops than withstanding enemy fire, the pilots developed a technique of switching off their engine and gliding toward the target to enable them to drop their bombs in near-silence; they also flew in threes to take turns drawing enemy fire while one pilot released her charges. It was, quite frankly, awesome — as even their enemies had to admit. ‘We simply couldn’t grasp that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact women,’ one top German commander wrote in 1942. ‘These women feared nothing.’”
Salon
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Night Witch pilots and their planes

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In the past, the United States has sometimes, kind of sardonically, been described as
a one-party state: the business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That’s no longer true. It’s still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is moderate Republicans, who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic [sic] Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.”
Noam Chomsky

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
xl_american_odyssey_062-063

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Capt. Coast 0002 (May 12, 2014)

“In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.”
Terry Pratchett

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE DREAPER

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE VISITS THE STATE CAPITOL:

1. A walk in the park:

A few days ago the car needed to be serviced. After dropping off the automobile, Dick drove me to Sacramento where I waited for the repair shop to complete the repairs.

He left me by the Capitol. After some coffee at a café with tattooed lady baristas, I walked into Capitol Park located directly behind the Capitol building. I love Capitol Park. It is one of my favorite urban parks. Although smaller than Central Park or Golden Gate Park, I find that I enjoy my time there as much as I do in those larger parks. Basically it is a large arboretum with hundreds of fully mature trees from all over the world. I wandered around for an hour or so contemplating each tree and reading the little information plaque identifying its species and common name. It is a little known fact that there are three or so redwood trees in the park that were grown from seedlings that traveled to the moon on one of the Apollo missions. They are referred to as the “Moon Trees.” For years their location was a secret in order to forestall eager collectors from removing the trees until they got big enough to fend for themselves.

Another thing I enjoy there is visiting the small memorials to various wars and other things nestled among the trees. They’re a lot more humble than the garish marble mausoleums demanding our worship that abound Washington DC.

2. BT and me:

While walking I came upon a plaque dedicated to BT Collins embedded in the concrete in front of a bench. I sat down on that bench to reminisce.

For those who did not know him, BT lost an arm and a leg leading a Guerrilla team in the early days of the Viet Nam War when we were still assisting the South Vietnamese government defend itself before deciding to take over the entire war. He returned, was fitted with prothesis’ attended Santa Clara Law School and was working in the first Jerry Brown administration in the Governor’s office when I met him. Ultimately he served in many capacities in State government most often as the person who actually got things done. He was outrageous in word and deed. While Director of the State’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the controversy over aerial spraying of pesticides to combat a fruit fly invasion, in order to prove its safety he famously drank a glass of the pesticide in front of reporters.

One day while sitting in a bar with BT and getting seriously drunk, we, as drunks often do, became sloppily nostalgic about our past lives. We traced our paths from those adjacent bar stools back to NY, to Westchester County, to Stepinac High School and into the same classroom. Until that point neither of us and recognized the other as having known each other previously. He sat in the back of that classroom at one side among the Irish toughs and I sat on the other side of the back row among the Italian thugs.

Every year while I was working in Sacramento he and I would collaborate on a bill to reform portions of the Civil Service law. We would appear together before the appropriate legislative committee each year and never receive a single vote in favor of our proposal.

A life-long Republican, he could teach many so-called liberals about compassion for the underdog.

Rock on BT….

3. I know a Reuben when I see one:

At about lunch time I sat at some outdoor tables on L Street directly across from an entrance to the Capitol. I thought that as the people in the Capitol left for lunch I would recognize some and perhaps have lunch with them and talk of old times. I recognized no one and no one recognized me.

I then tried to guess which of the people walking by was a legislator. I identified one by the sneer he wore on his face when he thought no one was looking at him.

I ordered a Reuben sandwich for lunch that turned out to be fried chicken.

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A Selfie of Pookie at the Capitol

4. On monuments and things:

In the afternoon I resumed my walk through Capitol Park. I sat for a while at one of my favorite monuments dedicated to those that served in WWII. The monument itself is an elongated pyramid with a broken top and a crack down the middle. Its smooth facades are imprinted with actual photographs of scenes from the war that appear like ghosts emerging from the mists of time.

World War II I consider one of this nation’s three “good” wars.The other two were the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. For whatever other objectives one can also ascribe to these wars, a major purpose of each was to establish a transcendental ideal of freedom.

The Revolutionary War was fought to free the nation from government by hereditary wealth and power by those who controlled the nations resources. The sons and daughters of the homicidal maniacs who established the dynasties managed one of the greatest PR coups of all time by persuading everyone to refer to them as “Nobles.”

The Civil War engaged in an effort to end that pernicious institutional representation of the concept that human beings were merely economic objects that could be bought and sold at will.

In World War II the allied nations took up arms against the ideology that humanity can be divided into classes in which some enjoy the full rights of citizenship and respect and others were not quite human and so forfeited their rights even to their own lives solely because of the accident of their birth or the nature of their beliefs.

Of course these wars against those three curses of humanity: Government by inherited wealth; Monetizing a person’s value and; Classification of groups of people where some groups enjoy fewer rights, including the right to live (racism is but one aspect of this) did not end those scourges. They only addressed the clear and present danger presented by those institutions that promoted or represented them. The scourges are always with us only their names change over time. They always change their names.

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The World War II Memorial in Capitol Park

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS (Continued):

I called someone over to run and find one of the paramedics that worked in the village. We bundled the injured child into an old Land Rover and drove him to the hospital.

The hospital located about 10 miles away on the other side of the valley was quite new and surrounded by a small town. I assumed the town was peopled by medical personnel who worked at the hospital and those who worked in the preserve but were unwilling to live the spartan lifestyle enforced by Mama in the village.

Tre, Yu and I sat outside the emergency room waiting. Mama arrived a few minutes later and waited silently with us.

The child, all bandaged up and still unconscious was placed in a hospital room after emerging from the emergency ward. There we spent the night. Tre, Yu and I alternately napping and talking quietly among ourselves. Mama sat in a chair rigid and silent, never moving her eyes from the child as though she was willing him to recover. Recover he did and we all returned to our various duties.

Following this I learned that the preserve had been under political, economic and physical assault for many months. Terrorists, resource extraction organizations and the like all hungered for access to the reserve and its resources.

It was a though having fouled every place else (their own nests so to speak) they now ravenously looked at this unspoiled place like the rapist observing his next victim.

Many preserve workers had been injured and some killed. On one of my visits another child had been attacked and Mama and I spent another sleepless night at the hospital.

I noticed on each of my visits the stress on her exacted a greater and greater physical toll. Then on day when I returned to the village I learned that she had been taken to the hospital. I rushed there and into her room. She was lying in bed. He body was horribly shriveled. Her skin had lost its luster and appeared dry and brittle like a piece of cardboard.

I stayed there with her day and night. She still ran the preserve from her bed. She continued to decline. Finally I told her that I had some experience it managing organizations like the Preserve and I would be happy to do so until she got better. She said, “No, this is my life, my world. Your life is somewhere else.” I woke up back in my bed. I knew she had died.

I returned to the village two more times after that to visit with my friends. But, the colors of the place seemed washed out and I had trouble holding on to the dream for more than a few moments. Eventually I stopped going there.

Since then every once in a while in that period between sleep and wakefulness the image of us in the hut, or on the rock outcropping or even in the hospital hovers for a while before disappearing. It comforts me knowing that this is not a dream but a memory. END.

C. ABOUT PEIG, A BOOK REPORT:

“I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge. I have experienced much ease and much hardship from the day I was born until this very day. Had I known in advance half, or even one-third, of what the future had in store for me, my heart wouldn’t have been as gay or as courageous it was in the beginning of my days.”
Peig Sayers, Peig,

Peig Sayers’, Peig, is considered one of the classics of Gaelic literature as well as all literature. She lived much of her life on Great Blasket Island off the Western Coast of Ireland. The island at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula is bleak and barren. It housed between 100 to 150 souls until in the 1940’s the Irish Government in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility removed the remaining twenty-two of them and resettled them in other parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the islanders objected to the relocation.

Peig was an old woman when approached by a representative of the Irish Folklore Commission and asked to write the story of her life on that forlorn island.
IMG_20141020_192528_725
Peig in her cottage

40 years ago I travelled to Blasket. I was ferried there from the mainland in one of those tar covered little leather boats that used to be common in the western part of the country.
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Drying the boats

I met the ferry-man in the pub that stands on the bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and persuaded him (for a few dollars) to row me there. There is a regular motor ferry now.

Although the passage between the islands is no more than a couple of miles wide, it was too stormy and impassable during much of the year for the small traditional row boats available at the time the island was inhabited. So, the residents of Blasket were often marooned and had to live exclusively on what they could glean on the island.

The tiny village on the lee of the island lay in ruins and deserted. I climbed through the ruins and into Peig’s cottage. It was little more than rocks piled on one another for walls with more rocks to make the roof (I understand it has been made into lodging for a small hostel now). Peig’s home contained a single room in which she spent most of her life.
IMG_20141020_192628_845
Peig’s cottage today

Beyond the village exposed to the fierce winds off the Atlantic the rest of the island was covered in a thick mat of furze, Irish gorse and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath much of it. When I walked on it it supported my weight. It felt as though I was walking on a springy mattress. There were no trees or bushes. I climbed part way down the cliffs on the island’s north side where the residents would scramble down to pilfer the eggs of the shore birds that nested there. I did not go further than perhaps 10 feet or so because the cliff quickly became much steeper. It was on those steep cliffs according to Peig that several of Blasket’s citizens met their death trying to secure enough food to carry them through the winter storms.

As hard as life was on Blasket, during the Irish persecutions and famines several mainland families settled on the island, “Because life was better there.”

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Blasket was that Peig was not the only one from there who wrote a Gaelic literary classic. Two others, Twenty Years a Growing and The Islandman, were written by Blasket natives also.

How hard was life on Blasket? Tomas O’Crohan in The Islandman wrote the following about his children:

“Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help us! The very first of them that we christened was only seven or eight years old when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they went as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to save the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me. Before long I lost him, too.”

images-1
Blasket Village ruins. Ireland in the distance.

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: During this year 146 American children were given the name Khaleesi at birth. Khaleesi is the word for “Queen” in a made up language found in the “Game of Thrones.” Before 2013 no one in real life had ever borne that name.

In about that same year a Restaurant named Khaleesi’s was opened in Mission Texas featuring pizza.

Pizza was the favorite food of the Targaryan nobility. They cooked the pizza in dragon fire.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
MilitarySpendingSince1947

It is often said that generals (and countries) fight new wars using the strategies and tactics of the last. Unfortunately for the generals and many politicians alike, it appears that the real wars of today among the major powers are economic and not military.
B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

Re: The NEW YORKER

As you know I like to post some of the well written and interesting comments I receive about things I have written in T&T. This from Stevie:

“Over half a century ago as an 11-year-old growing up in a California railroad town that, for all I know, still doesn’t have a book store, I had the good fortune to make friends with a recent transplant from New York whose mother subscribed to The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, The Saturday Review AND (always my favorite) , The New Yorker.

This was definitely a horizon widener over the Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Boys Life (my brother’s), True Magazine (my father’s — and mine), True Story Magazine (my mother’s), Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek (mine) that we received at my house, and my grandparents’ Life, Look, and Reader’s Digest, all of which I read from cover to cover.

The one thing they (almost) all had in common were cartoons, and I attacked every new issue from the back thumbing through quickly to read every one of the cartoons as quickly as I could. In The New Yorker, though, I would again go through, once more starting from the back, to read the poetry, followed by the book and movie review.

Only then would I turn to the fiction (there were frequently multiple stories, as I recall, at that point) to savor it the way I do the last morsel of lobster or abalone, leaving everything else to be read (of course I read everything else — there were just so many books one could carry back and forth to the library on a bike!) haphazardly, in no particular order.

That’s still the way I read The New Yorker. I did attempt reading the electronic version on my iPad but gave it up when I couldn’t even muster the interest to make it through the cartoons, which don’t seem to read as well from front to back…

This past issue had a Shirley Jackson story — almost 50 years posthumous — but I keep hoping something new and exciting will come along, and I’ll read it in The New Yorker :o)”

The Huffington Post reports:

“The New Yorker led the pack Thursday night at the annual National Magazine Awards, winning four prizes…

Love the magazine as I do I still find its Poetry inept, the articles too long and at times insipid and the cartoons, amusing but not funny. I suggested to Stevie that some rap lyrics could greatly improve things.

big_mac_rap_lyrics_by_nicoletheawesomehog-d5m59xv

According to Matt Daniels (http://rappers.mdaniels.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com) a designer, coder and data scientist at something called Undercurrent in New York City, after analyzing the percentage of unique words used by various rap artists with Shakespeare, fifteen rappers use of unique words exceeded The Bard’s for roughly equivalent sets. Aesop Rock came in first by a mile followed by Wu-Tang Clan, Kool Keith and Cunnlynguists.

So, no apologies this time.

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such abominable business.”
Albert Einstein

“Once guns were made, who would unmake them?”
Hough Howey. Wool Omnibus Edition (p. 319). Broad Reach Publishing.
TODAY’S CARTOON:
20110504_113932_15263

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Newgrange from air

Newgrange from air (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

3100 – 2900 BCE. Newgrange, Ireland the 250,000 ton passage tomb aligned to the winter solstice, is built. This is a larger stone structure than the early pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England and predates them both by 500 years.

It is a remarkable edifice. I have been there and sat at its center. It is constructed so that no natural light reaches the chamber located precisely at the center of the massive circular structure except briefly at noon on December 21 when it is suddenly bathed in light. [Early stoner nirvana.]

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. Appointed democracy:

Thai law, passed shortly following the overthrow of the Thaksin administration, provides for 73 “Appointed Senators,” intended I imagine to eliminate the possibility that the general electorate of the country would ever be so mislead that they would elect a party unacceptable to the existing powers. As I understand it, several groups of apparent respectability (Academics, State Agencies, NGO’s, Professional Groups and Other) nominate people and from those nominated, a smaller group of generally appointed government officials (Constitution Court, Election Commission, National Anti-Corruption Commission, Supreme Court, Ombudsman and Supreme Administrative Court) selects the appointees.

The appointments have just been announced. Of course the political party most expecting to challenge the current administration would be unhappy if they thought the appointees were stacked against them. And so they are.

2. Of course we will be objective:

A large number of the newly appointed senators, it now turns out are relatives of members of the military general staff and the current administration. In Thailand this is not considered nepotism but common sense. Even that so-called great populist Thaksin has proposed his daughter to be the leader of his Red Shirt party and the next prime minister should they prevail at the polls. Although lacking and prior experience in government, he lauded her as the most qualified.

Several of the new senators, responding to criticism about their appointment, have stated that they are eager to begin work and prove their appointments were not the result of family or political connections. How they intend to do so is unclear.

Resignation would be pretty dramatic proof I would think.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I arrived back at Paradise by the Sea having avoided a drenching by the ravening mobs of Songkran revelers by the simple expedient of having spent a few more baht to hire a taxi to take me door to door.

Now for those of you who have not experienced the joys of Songkran, the Thai spring water festival, the object of the festivities is to drench one another with water in the name of bringing good luck in the new year to the drenchee.

Songkran

Songkran (Photo credit: Lim CK)

Over the years that I have had the opportunity to observe the festival, I have noticed a definite escalation in weaponry. Gone are the simple water pistols of fond memory, replaced by the participants stalking the streets carrying a dizzying display of AK 47 inspired water machine gun assault weapons. Some so fearsome looking, I am sure they could frighten even the Taliban. Recently, I have noticed, these fearsome weapons are often accompanied by and connected to back packs containing additional canisters of water so that if one ever finds oneself someplace totally lacking in water, say like in a desert, one will not have to fear running out of ammunition.

Now to be fair, most Thais celebrate by good naturally dousing passers-by with water thrown from plastic cup and other containers. Not so with the non-Thai generally western tourist community. They patrol the streets, heavily armed, as though engaged in the grim job of urban warfare.

In addition to the AK 47 replica machine guns, the weapon of choice (and a major escalation in the water arms race) of these dour warriors is a weapon made up of a very large plastic tube, about the size of the largest mailing tube imaginable, with a long plunger at one end. When fully loaded and operated by a relatively strong man, these weapons, in a single shot, can expel enough water with the velocity of a fire hose to sink a small rowboat or knock over a grown man.

Before leaving Bangkok Hayden, aware of the danger I would be exposed to, gave me a water pistol to defend myself. Now dressed in my “Clete Purcell” outfit, Tilly on my head, shorts, sandals, flowered shirt and with my “gun” tucked into my belt, I venture out of my condo briefly to eat at the local café. A photograph of me fully attired is attached below.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

The brief silence that followed Vince’s reading of the authors note was broken by one of the grossly ill-defined characters standing at the back of the room who Vince was sure would also eventually become a hired killer should the novel continue, who shouted, “What the hell does that mean?”

The ensuing wall of noise from everyone talking over one another was pierced by Nina’s calm voice as she looked up from her knitting, “Why don’t we just ask him to keep writing for a while?”

“What do you mean?” said Vince over the gradual quieting of the noise as the others in the room strained to hear their conversation.

“Why not simply ask him to keep writing for a while in order to give those of us who can time to find other employment? After all, since no one is reading it anyway it makes no difference to the reader. “

“Why would he do that? What’s in it for him? You really don’t believe that crap about his wanting to do something for us, do you?'” interjected a suddenly energized David Kitchen.

” Well, we could tell him that we had heard that there were responses to his query, but they somehow got lost on the ether. It happens all the time,” she replied calmly, returning to her knitting.

” But during that time characters will be disappearing as they find work elsewhere,” Vince queried.

“This is a mystery novel,” Nina responded calmly while concentrating on her latest stitch, “People get murdered or go missing all the time. After all, even the author admits he doesn’t know how it ends, so the logic of their disappearance to the plot or its resolution makes no difference. Not that it ever does in the mystery novel genre” she added softly.

Everyone in the room stared at Vince in anticipation of his response. Vince in turn look over to the unusually subdued Isabella. She was dressed in her Goth get up and metal piercings but still wore her curly long-haired wig. Her head was bowed as she stared fixedly at the conference table. She did not look up. “Well, no help there,” thought Vince.

After a moment or two hesitation he said, “OK, I will give it a try.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I told you so:

About 30 years ago in a speech I was giving to some political group or another, I predicted that the United States would not elect a black person President until the country was bankrupt. They then could blame it all on him.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims.

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that all mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Another golden oldie:

“To truly understand Mankind,
you must first break down
the words that make up his name:
Mank and Ind.
What do they mean?
It’s a mystery.
And so is Mankind.”
Mick Foley

Français : Mick Foley "Mankind". Cet...

Français : Mick Foley “Mankind”. 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Pookie dressed as Clete Purcell, water pistol in one hand guarding one of the entrances to my apartment, armed, dangerous and looking for trouble.

In my left hand I have my genuine teak back-scratcher given to me by Hayden. I believe it is a necessary accessory to anyone over 70 and overweight. Sort of like a geriatric swagger stick.

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and That from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. (19 Joseph 0001) January 8, 2012

THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES:
(See: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/2002/3/nakedmolerats.cfm for more
about H. Glaber.
“And so it begins, a historic departure, the Voyage of the HMS Bagel, in search of further documentation of this next evolutionary tour de force.”
Peter G.

–1. Chronicles: The Queen:

Unlike most of the societies created by the Naked Apes ( us), that of H. Glaber is matriarchal. The tall, crazed Queen stalks the well-built tunnels in which the community lives, rapes one more males and drives almost all testosterone but her own out of the community leaving it happily free of sexual competition and any compulsion to watch reruns of Jersey Shore. With her consorts, she rules her domain like a fussy but iron fisted dowager, constantly checking to see if things are in order, tunnels in good repair, food sources properly tended, nursery staffed, soldiers on duty, workers working, attackers repulsed and competitors crushed. Satisfied that all is shipshape (or more appropriately tunnel-shape), she returns to her quarters, nibbles on some tubers and if she feels up to it, rapes one or another of her consorts again. It is good to be Queen of the Glabers.

–2. Heterocephalus G awards: Awarded to the person who most contributes to paving the way for the rise of The Naked Mole Rat.

To David Barton of Focus on the Family who in opposing proposed laws to protect infants from mercury poisoning said:

“According to the EEN, one of every six American babies is born with harmful blood mercury levels, “which causes permanent brain damage in the unborn and infants.”
Therefore, the 12 federal legislators EEN is thanking with radio, TV and billboard ads for supporting the EPA restrictions are “pro-life.” In truth, only one in every 1,000 American babies is exposed to harmful doses of mercury, and the slight delays in cognitive development it may cause generally disappear by age 7, says Beisner. Moreover, all 12 of the federal legislators EEN is supporting are among the most pro-abortion Congress has to offer.”

(Way to go Dave, congratulations.)

–3. H. Glaber fellow travelers:

Listen to the music of the punk rock band appropriately named, The Naked Mole Rats. http:// http://www.nakedmoleratsband.com/

–4. Correspondences:

Peter reports the following headline: Naked Mole Rat scat found in Kern County. Zoologists camped out waiting to see if they will come to snack.

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

–1. 9th-10th Century, The Vikings in Ireland

838, a large Viking fleet under the Norwegian sea-king Turgeis (Thorgils) entered the River Liffey and
established a land base for their operations.
840, the Vikings were spending the winter on the island and establishing permanent bases along the coasts.
840, Turgeis established a Hiberno-Norse Kingdom at Dublin. He not only imposed order on the Norse settlers, but he also arranged marriages and alliances with the Irish rulers. However, a large Danish fleet arrived in Ireland and there was conflict between the Danes and Norwegians regarding who should have the rights to plunder Ireland.
851, the Danes, with the aid of Irish allies, defeated the Norwegians at the naval battle of Carlingford Lough.

852, a large Norwegian fleet under Olaf the White arrived in Ireland. Olaf defeated the Danes and sealed an alliance with the Irish royal family of Meath. Olaf and his brother Ivar consolidated an effective Scandinavian kingdom in Dublin. This ew kingdom was focused primarily on sea trade and did not expand inland. At this time the primary exports from Ireland were hides, salted meat, and slaves.
902, the Irish successfully drove the Norse out of Ireland. However, the Vikings returned with a large fleet
914-915, They defeated the Irish and retook Dublin.
967, Irish warriors sacked Limerick and began a military campaign against the Vikings.
999, the Viking king of Dublin, Sitric Silkenbeard, surrendered to Brian Boru.
1014, High King Brian Boru of Munster defeated the allied army of the Vikings and the King of Leinster at Clontarf. Thus ends Irelandʼs Viking Era.


BRIAN BORU

–2. Your Brain:

“A lesion in one spot leaves you unable to tell a Jack Russell from a badger (not that there is much difference), and with damage in another spot, the toaster is unrecognizable. There are even people with certain brain lesions who specifically cannot recognize fruit. Harvard researchers Alfonso Caramazza and Jennifer Shelton claim that the brain has specific knowledge systems (modules) for animate and inanimate categories that have distinct neural mechanisms. These domain-specific knowledge systems arenʼt actually the knowledge itself, but systems that make you pay attention to particular aspects of situations, and by doing so, increase your survival chances. For example, there may be quite specific detectors for certain classes of predatory animals such as snakes and big cats…”

Michael S. Gazzaniga: “Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain*

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

–1. Army Chief appears to back off opposition to Lese majesté provision constitutional change:

Additional evidence of my speculation that there has been some political accommodation between the General Staff and the administration of Prime Minister Princess Lucky Girl is provided in the reports that the Military Chief of Staff, less that a week after stating that it was a prime function of the military to protect the honor of the Royal Family and asserting his firm opposition to any proposed change to that section of the Constitution, announced that changes in the constitution were not important, since the military alone could not effectively police disrespect of the Royal Institution without the public willingness to socially shun those who insult their Majesties. He also mentioned the King own criticisms of the laws supposedly designed to protect his honor.

–2. More Floods:

Southern Thailand is suffering a repeat of the floods that wracked the North and Central parts of the country last month, but instead of damage caused by relatively slowly rising water inundating the flood plain following storms in the mountains overwhelming normal drainage infrastructure, the damage here is relatively worse due to the greater velocity of the rushing waters flowing directly from storm run off.

–3. Constitutional Benefits:

Recent reports regarding the drafting, by governmental employees of constitutional changes have expressed concern that they seem to be being written for the ease and benefit of existing governmental agencies.

(While employed as Chief Council of the California Coastal Commission, I was in charge of drafting the commissions regulations. As that time I observed that regulations drafted by an entity of any sort, inevitably are drafted for the benefit and ease of the employees of that entity and not for its customers, applicants or the public in general. That observation was followed by the one that assures that the drafters will steadfastly deny that it is so).

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Occasionally, during my morning walks along Soi Nana to the health club, I am accosted by a number of smiling (it is Thailand after all) individuals importuning me to buy something. When I am in one of my bad moods, I generally respond by ignoring them and walking on in silence, or by either growling or uttering, soto voce, go screw yourself or its functional equivalent.

When I am in one of my manic moods, however, I sometimes stop and respond with a polite “no thank you.” Once however, to a taxi hustler selling rides from BKK to Pattaya, I responded:
“Yes, I agree that that is a handsome taxi and its color is stunning, but no thank you, I am not in the mood for a trip to Pattaya today.”

Another time, when one of the delightful, smiling ladies, who I am certain all work for a single mega corporation called “Massages Are Us,” invited “Papa” to enjoy a special massage, I replied:
“Ah, you are quite beautiful and undoubtedly your fingers can work magic. I am sure the multitude of ways you have to drive me to ecstasy, are more varied and less expensive than anywhere else in Thailand, but I think that today I will spend the next few hours drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.”

I found, in both cases, my little attempts at humor were received with silence and a cold stare, but since this is Thailand happily the smiles with which they approached me remained frozen in place.

I have received a slightly better response from the male touts hustling me for tuk-tuk rides or trips to the massage parlor of my dreams, who approach with their hand extended, inviting a good old American handshake. I, holding back my hand, say, “30 baht.” They stop perplexed and ask, “What mean 30 baht.” I answer, “30 baht to shake my hand.” Most of them do not think that is funny either, but now and then one laughs and indulges me with a snide comment in Thai that I am sure means something like “asshole.”

PETRILLOʼS COMMENTARY:

It has been suggested at times by those of you that actually read this thing, that reminisces about my professional and personal experiences may be more interesting than things like the factoids I pluck off the internet.

While, it may be so to the reader, to me I have always found voyages of the mind to be every bit as fascinating and exciting as physical or professional journeys.

Take Brian Boru’s expulsion of the Vikings from Ireland. It reminded me that the Irish, like the Armenians, Basques, Jews and others who for thousands of years inhabited a land, suffered pogroms and persecutions and diaspora and yet survived with their culture intact. The Jews, however, driven from their homeland, scattered throughout the world, survived by faithfully holding on to their cultural and religious inheritance and an abiding longing for their lost homeland. Stateless nations like The Nestorian and the Gypsies, on the other hand, during their almost thousand-year or more diaspora, like the Jews, thrived also due to a unified religious and cultural ethos, but absent any sense of a real or idealized lost homeland. The Nestorian lacking little more that their religion, eventually succumbed and disappeared from the pages of history. The Gypsies, on the other hand although bereft of a longed for homeland and suffering comparable and at times even more extreme persecution than almost any other group, still have managed to retain their culture mostly intact.

The Irish, endured 500 years of occupation, brutal oppression and continuous attempts by their overlords to extirpate them physically and drive their culture into extinction. Remember, it was Cromwell that drove the Irish onto the bleak moors of Connaught to exterminate them so that the Island could be repopulated by an English ascendency. It was only that ascendency’s need for serfs and slaves to work the land that saved the Irish from destruction. Despite this and the unrelieved assaults on their cultural heritage, the Irish, unlike the Scots, Bretons, and the Gauls and Galicians before them, preserved their cultural heritage virtually intact.

The Sicilians on the other hand are neither an ethnic group, religion, nation or race but after twenty-five hundred years of brutal foreign oppression they emerged with neither nation, culture nor homeland but, for a few generations at least, with a single unifying idea: “The Law is simply oppression by another means.” In other words, whoever believes that fewer people have been slaughtered under the rule of law than have been slaughtered during the rule of lawlessness is a fool.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

MOPEY JOEʼS MEMORIES:

Several of you who have urged me to write more about those things that only I have knowledge of, such as the early days of the development of California’s Coastal Program. In response, I have decided to add new subsections to my periodic reminisces (Alas, the last refuge of old men). The one about the Coastal Program will be called something like, On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.

However, in my many, varied and, more often than not, lackluster professional careers there have been many things that no one else could write about, and so, if there is any interest, or even it there is not, I may now and then add additional sections such as:

From Freedom to Homelessness: Stories of the NY Mental Health Information Service and the changes in the treatment of the severely mentally ill in the 1960s that went awry.

So you Think You Know the Facts: Insights, tales and secrets about amassing one of the longest consecutive jury trial victory streaks in NYC history. (What always surprised me was that I could almost never win before a judge alone, even the simplest of contested motions, but I usually won before a jury. It amused me when after a trial inquiring of members of a jury about what it was that I said that persuaded them to vote for my client, they would inevitably tell me that they believed nothing that I said or did, but that it was obvious that the facts were on my clients side.)

Why you Should not do Business in a Foreign Country: Confessions of an attorney in an American law firm in Rome.

From Bucky to Bat-shit: Anecdotes regarding the almost successful Buckminster Fuller World Games Workshop in San Francisco and the rise and subsequent deflation of the counter-culture.

Turning Tricks for the Trade: Adventures in developing educational systems from learning a foreign language to geometry for slow learners. (Hint on teaching a foreign language; diction. No one speaks his own language well enough to teach it. When we speak our language, we depend upon the listeners brain to assemble meaning from syntactical and other vocal cues. As a result we, even the best actors, slur our words and drop their endings. The brain acts, in spoken speech the same as it does in those examples of paragraphs written with every word misspelled except to the first and last letter that we native speakers understand and comprehend almost as well as if spelled correctly. Yet to a non native speaking person, even if he or she is a student of the language, it is incomprehensible.)

An Ecological Staircase to Anywhere: The story of the preservation of a natural resource that only a mother could love.

On the edge: See above

To Conserve and Forget: The saga of how to create a successful innovative and effective agency and how that success and innovation made it irrelevant. (I wrote a book on how to do Conservancy projects and gave the draft to Peter for his comments. He lost it. I now try to make copies of everything.)

From Blind Greed to Greed with Corrective Lenses: How a smallish middle-sized law firm teetering on the edge of dissolution grew stronger, larger and more successful.

From Plenty to Penury: How a relatively successful professional man went from spending every dime he made as quickly as he could to living below the poverty line and liking it.

And, much much more.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Escape (continued):

Arm and arm, Vince and Isabella rushed from the car across the sidewalk, past the casually saluting doorman and into the buildings. Another police vehicle soon followed by an ambulance, their lights and sirens blaring raced past the building toward the sirens and flickering lights in the distance.

They quickly crossed the lobby. Got into an empty elevator. Isabella produced from somewhere a plastic key card and swiped it past a flashing red light. The elevator rose, stopped and its doors opened onto a small lobby with four doors ranged along the wall opposite. There was a small round table in the center of the lobby supporting a large vase containing freshly cut flowers. On the wall a large oval mirror hung in the center between the doors and on each of the side walls was hung above two small low dark wood cabinets a large abstract painting in red, black and yellow.

Just to the right of the oval table stood a man and a woman, both casually dressed in jeans and tee shirts and both armed with small pistols in holsters hung at their waist.

“Carlos,” said Isabella upon exiting the elevator, “check downstairs.”

The man nodded, picked a jacket off a coat tree standing next to the door on the right and walked into the elevator.

To the woman, Isabella said as she continued toward the door to the farthest left, “Lina, please something warm. Your relaxing drink will do.” “ Stronger for him,” she added with a smile, nodding over her shoulder at Vince who was following her across the lobby.

She again swiped the card and opened the door. They passed through a small vestibule with doors one each side and then through a short hallway into a large room with floor to ceiling glass along one wall. The furniture, in balloon like plump modern was mostly a few dashes of grey and brown less than blazing white.

The windows faced east across downtown towards the Bay. Even at this height the flashing lights of the prowl cars and emergency vehicles could be seen far below.

Isabella threw herself down on one of the overstuffed sofaʼs, kicked off her shoes, observed for a moment Vince standing there clearly undecided and uncomfortable and said, “OK you can take off those clothes now.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

–1. You may be smarter than you think you are:

The new five-year study of more than 2,200 adults claims to have found a link between obesity and the decline in a person’s cognitive function. The research, conducted by French scientists, involved men and women aged between 32 and 62 taking four mental ability tests that were then repeated five years later.

The researchers found that people with a Body Mass Index – a measure of body fat — of 20 or less could recall 56 per cent of words in a vocabulary test, while those who were obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher, could remember only 44 per cent.

“The fatter subjects also showed a higher rate of cognitive decline when they were retested five years later: their recall dropped to 37.5 per cent, whereas those with a healthy weight retained their level of recall.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/signs-you-are-smart-2011-12#youre-skinny-20#ixzz1huUhNO11

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

a. Government should encourage domestic investment.

“This recession is marked by a massive investment drought in the U.S., which will have long-term negative consequences. The proof: In the latest quarter, net domestic investment was only 3.3% of net national product, compared to 8.0% in 2007. There’s been a rebound in investment since 2009, but it’s been very mild–far less than the country needs.”
—Michael Mandel, chief economist, Progressive Policy Institute

b. Increases in average wages should bear some equivalent relationship with rises in productivity.

(While productivity has risen significantly, most Americans have seen their wages stagnate, at best. If the median household income had kept up with economic growth since 1970, Mother Jones magazine calculates it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.)

3. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

In my most recent post, I mentioned, the 10-16 degree rise in temperature 300 million years ago that killed of 75% of all living things on earth, and that most peer-reviewed estimates of the extent of worldwide temperature rise by the end of this century predict a rise of about 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit. I was wrong. The International Energy Agency, in November 2011 predicted as much as 11 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise. I apologize for the error. On the other hand their estimate may simply be an outlier and my statement would then stand as correct.
“POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT”:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

1. The state of political discourse in the US:

“Barack Hussein Obama, our president, is a traitor. Finally, his hatred for our nation and his plan to destroy it are crystal clear. He must be forced from office — legally — before our entire country goes down the drain for the final count!
Much has gone on in the last three years to show Obamaʼs true colors, sympathetic not to Judeo-Christian values and culture, but Islam and its surrogate-controlled states.”

Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and the current head of Freedom Watch.

2. Made in America:

The International House of Prayerʼs (IHOP) Mike Bickle, who emceed Rick Perryʼs prayer rally The Response, claims that Christians who are gay are opening themselves up to attacks from Satan. Bickle, who is best known for claiming that Oprah Winfrey is the harbinger of the Antichrist and arguing that the “gay marriage agenda” is “rooted in the depths of Hell,” recently said in an interview about homosexuality that gays and lesbians must “declare war” against their sexual orientation or will face “flaming missiles of the Evil One.” He warned that gays and lesbians, along with heterosexuals who have sex before marriage, who “give up and give in” will ultimately begin “denying the faith,” which “opens the door to the demonic realm to touch them.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Most of us 99-percenters couldnʼt even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. Itʼs called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just donʼt do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldnʼt take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the lifeʼs savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities. But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals. Nobody with real skin in the game, who had any kind of stake in our collective future, would do any of those things. Or, if a person did do those things, youʼd at least expect him to have enough shame not to whine to a Bloomberg reporter when the rest of us complained about it.”

Matt Taibii Rolling Stone

TODAY’S CHART:

TODAY’S CARTOON”

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Categories: January 2012 through March 2012, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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