Posts Tagged With: Islam

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Shadow 0007 (July 5, 2018)

 
“Midway through our lives journey, I awoke in a dark forest to find the right path had been lost.”
Dante’s Inferno.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VERONA:

The train ride from Sacile to Verona was relatively uneventful. Traveling by train is my favorite way to go. I find train stations far more comfortable than airline terminals, don’t you? I mean, despite all the time and motion studies and the ergonomic designs that go into the building of a modern airport, an old train station with their hard wooden benches and old train station smells seem much more comfortable than any airport I have been in — except perhaps for Singapore.

I like standing around in train stations or on the platforms watching people walk about or disembark or board trains. I don’t think much about whatever I see going on around me. I never wonder, for example, where all these people are going to or coming from or why. No, I just watch hoping to see something odd or entertaining.

Come to think of it, I may be one of the oddest things around. Here I am, an old man, older than almost anyone in the crowd passing by, taller than most here in Italy, frightfully skinny like an oddly dressed cadaver, a hunched back becoming more Quasimodo like by the day, a long dour face resembling some ancient sad-faced bloodhound with jowls plunging below its jaw, dressed in a loud Hawaiian shirt, a sweat-stained straw hat on my head, ill-fitting shades and carrying a cane shaped like a shillelagh — Odd I seem, odd indeed.

Verona — As tourist destinations and cities in Italy go, Verona is an also-ran. It never amounted to much. Even during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when Italy in these parts was jumping, Verona nestled comfortably in the shadow of its wealthier and more powerful neighbors. It has, however, a few archeological and artistic treasures of note including a bitchin Roman amphitheater and some fine medieval castles and palazzos to attract the well-heeled tourist.

Most of whatever Verona has to draw the curious visitor it owes to two rather shallow young men and a rather idiotic pair of doomed lovers — all figments of the fertile imagination of a bald-headed English playwright. That’s right, people come from all over the world to Verona to see what never existed — a fiction. Even the greatest of the mad men of Madison Avenue would be hard pressed to top that.

Anyway, I booked into a hotel that billed itself as being a mere four kilometers from the old city and sporting a four-acre garden and at a price that seemed a bargain. I thought that would be great. I could enjoy the garden, take a taxi to visit the old city and save money. Unfortunately, the distance from downtown was somewhat of an under-exaggeration and a $20 taxi ride to boot.

After checking in, I had a delightful lunch in the hotel restaurant overlooking the pool. I ate an interesting pasta, a type that I had never eaten before. The noodles were tightly wrapped pieces of dough about an inch long and quite thin. It made for a very chewy noodle. I think they are called “sparrow.” The pasta was served with a tomato and eggplant sauce. It was quite good.
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Following lunch, I strolled around the gardens. Feeling good about my meal and enjoying my walk, I decided to skip Bolzano, skip visiting the old town of Verona and stay here for the next few days lounging about the pool, walking through the gardens and eating. Having reached that decision, I then returned to my room and promptly made a reservation for new lodging the next day in the heart of old town. With that all behind me, I showered, napped and later ate a dinner beginning with mussels, followed by a pasta in a white sauce with peas and asparagus and tiramisu for dessert. I also had one or more glasses of my beloved prosecco. Then, I returned to my room and went to sleep.

The following morning, just before I left for breakfast, noticed the large painting on the wall of my room that up until then I thought was some hotel commissioned impressionist paint splashing of a crooked vase — suddenly the subject matter of the painting became clear:
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I later checked into a B&B near the inner walls of the old town of Verona. While waiting for the owner of the place to show up and register me, I strolled over to the building that housed the supposed sarcophagus of poor little Juliet. Considering that her resting place remained unknown for 400 years until some enterprising Veronese came up with this one, I have my doubts. About one or two hundred years later, Dickens, after meeting the women in whose keeping the sarcophagus descended, described her as “clear-eyed.” Clear-eyed enough to spot a rube, I would imagine.

After a brief and unsuccessful attempt to connect into the “free” internet promised by the B&B, I set out to explore the town. I ate a lunch of a rather undistinguished risotto at a restaurant on the large plaza near the ruins of the bitchin old Roman Colosseum. Then I strolled around, saw Juliet’s house and searched for poor old Romeo’s home. No luck, the tourist maps were unhelpful and misleading, nevertheless, I enjoyed poking about the alleyways of the old town. I then returned to the B&B for a nap before dinner.
IIMG_4813 The Roman Amphitheater and some Thai woman in a red dress trying to avoid having her picture taken.
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The Adige River with the old Roman Theater at the base of the hill in the background.

IMG_4818                                          The famous and wellphotographed balcony with an old Roman ruin in the foreground.
After again attempting to connect with the internet and getting the same results, I left for dinner. I looked for a neighborhood away from the tourist centers and a restaurant with older pot-bellied waiters and with a clientele that spoke mostly Italian. I found one. It specialized in fish. I ordered cod in an interesting brown gravy and a side of well-made polenta and a glass of prosecco. I enjoyed myself immensely. After a tasty creme brûlée to finish off the meal, I left the restaurant for a walk before heading back to my room. For the most part, there was only me walking the streets in that part of town — just me and the silence except for the sound of my walking stick clacking on the pavement and the thrum of a motor scooter off in the distance. Now and then, I would see someone scurry across the street or cross a darkened intersection. I enjoyed myself as I walked while the gloaming passed into night.
B. BACK IN LOMBARDY — WELL NOT EXACTLY, MORE LIKE BACK AND FORTH:

The morning after breakfast, I walked to the train station and purchased a ticket to Milan. Because I had some time before my train departed, I decided to enjoy a second cup of coffee and a brioche con crema. This was to be my first mistake of many I was to make that day. You see, I misread the ticket and thought the arrival time at Milano was the departure time at Verona. I missed the train. I had to buy another ticket because my original one was for reserved seating and the express. The next train was a local, more cattle car than a train. I bought the ticket anyway.

Among the interesting things, I observed as we rode along was the young woman all smiles and enthusiasm who eagerly attempted to engage in conversation with the young man sitting opposite us. He was most likely a student, deeply engrossed in a book of mathematics. He answered her persistent queries with one-word responses or grunts until he realized what she was up to, blushed, and closed the book. The rest of the trip involved lengthy and animated conversations about train travel and railroads mostly. As the train approached her stop, the young woman announced it sadly and they both hurriedly went on about how fortunate it was to meet each other, how much they enjoyed the conversation and the hope that they would meet again. Alas, neither asked the critical question, “What is your telephone phone number.” It is because of this reticence that many a promising relationship goes unfulfilled. If only Romeo and Juliet had been this timid they could have lived, married others and populated the world with even more blushing lovers — alas. The young woman rose from her seat, stood there for a moment looking forlorn, then turned and got off the train.

Now, with that bit of theater behind me, things got more interesting, but not in the way I would have liked. You see, the person I was to meet who I have been warned not to mention and whom I shall hereafter refer to only as N, was to pick me up at the Milan train station, but on account of that prime mistake, I would now be grossly late. I attempted to call him but I discovered my phone no longer worked, only giving me back several unsatisfying machine responses to my frantic calls and messages.

I arrived at the station and of course, N was not there. Now, I am not going to list each and every one of the cascades of wrong decisions that ensued from my original mistake. You can pick them out yourselves. Anyway, I first decided on another cup of coffee to calm my nerves and to wait there in the train station cafe savoring the espresso and hoping N would decide to return one last time to see if I had arrived. After finishing my coffee, I tried reaching others on my phone in an effort to secure assistance for my plight with the same results as I had trying to contact N. That is, nothing except machine speak. I then decided to find an ATM and withdraw some money in case I had to spend the night. The damned machine merely responded “unauthorized.” I, of course, told myself I obviously was not panicking as I began trying everything I could think of including begging the damned machine for some money — all to no avail. I then thought, cleverly I believed, that I could use a pay phone to call up my bank, call N, and call my carrier and clear everything up and save the day. I asked in several shops if they could direct me to a pay phone. Ha! I learned that in our wireless world, pay phones no longer exist (at least not in Milano). I then began asking people in the station to call N on their smart-phones in the hope that he would respond, pick me up and drive me to his apartment where I could use his computer to fix my modern communication generated crisis. Unfortunately, there was no answer. I continued this every five minutes or so asking startled and suspicious travelers to call — All unsuccessful. It was then I realized with horror, in this modern age anyone without internet access is a non-person. So, here I was, In the Milano Centrale (Mussolini’s great architectural work) penniless, homeless and destitute. I found the predicament quite energizing and in its own way romantic.

After another hour or so of thought and indecision, I decided to search through all my pockets and my luggage hoping I would find enough odd coinage to pay my way back to Sacile. I did find enough, bought a ticket, hopped on the train and about seven hours later popped off at the Sacile station in the dark of night. Not being able to call Vittorio, I made my way to Hank’s house. Although it was late and Camille earlier that day had injured herself and was recuperating, he graciously let me use his internet connection and assisted me in dealing with my problems until sometime after midnight things seemed back to normal. They let me stay the night there and the next morning I again traveled across northern Italy. This made three times in two days I made that damned trip.

I thought it was obvious my phone had been hacked in Verona. (“Hacked in Verona,” a movie starring John Goodman as an aging, fat, inept, hacker hiding out in Verona because of his erroneous belief he was being hunted by the police of several nations. Frances McDormand plays the Interpol receptionist dedicated to tracking him down to let him know that, in fact, no one was looking for him. She locates him in a one-room attic apartment two doors away from the “Juliet” house. They fall in love and she moves into the apartment. The film was so successful that its two stars were contracted to appear in its sequel, “Malaise in Verona.” — OK Peter the ball is in your court.)
C. ST. MORITZ AND MORE ALPS THAN ONE CAN HANDLE:

At three the next morning N and I left to travel to Milano Centrale to catch the 6AM train to Tirano near the Swiss border in order to take the famous tourist train that climbs from there into the Alps and on to St. Moritz and beyond. The train to Tirano passed along the edge of Lake Como and into the mountains. At Tirano, we boarded the amazing train (a World Heritage something or other) that climbs the Alps summer and winter. When we arrived at St. Moritz, we had an excellent lunch at some upscale restaurant. Next to us was a table of six or seven youngish men (Anyone in their 30”s and 40’s I consider young) three of whom sported prison tats including the obvious leader (he paid the bill), a swarthy man with wavy black hair and sunglasses that he never took off. N overhearing some of their conversations said they discussed something about the clothing industry but confirmed they were those people you usually deny having seen. After lunch and a brief walk along the lake, we returned to the train and began the ride down the Alps. We arrived back at N’s apt at about 12 midnight.

I took a lot of photographs. These are some:

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The Alps

 
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St. Moritz

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More Alps

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Still more Alps with a town in the valley
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Even more Alps. This time with the World Heritage train in the foreground.

The next day, we slept late and went for a walk of about three miles from Busto to another town where we had a coffee, watched the World Cup and then walked back. Later that evening, because it was my last day before returning to Sacile, we decided to have dinner at one of the best restaurants in the area. It was Monday and the restaurant was closed as were the eight or so other restaurants we tried. We ended up eating at a fast food place located in a twenty-four-hour supermarket.

The following morning, I left at 5AM for my fourth trip across Italy in the past three days and my fifth since I arrived in the country. It must qualify for the Guinness Book of Records.

 

D. BACK IN THE VENETO:

At about 1PM, I exited the train at Sacile. After a brief stop at Lucia’s for a prosecco, I sat at a cafe in the piazza and ate a lunch of barley salad and ground meat in zucchini along with an iced white tea and cranberry. For dessert, I had a delicious chocolate ice cream drink. Hank found me there and offered to let me stay at his apartment until we leave for Croatia. I thought it was a good idea because it would relieve Vittorio and Anita of the burden of hosting me while also caring for the two women. I would miss Topo Tamai though.
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They put me up in a wonderful garret type room above their apartment with a long sloping ceiling, a large bed with old wood carved headboards and three windows with views across the orange-tiled roofs of the town and into the pre-alps off in the distance.
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The next morning following a breakfast go cappuccino and brioche at Lucia’s, Hank and I drove off towards the old American air-force base at Aviano have lunch with to have lunch with some friends. Along the way, we stopped at a local winery so that Hank could by some wine for household use. Their best wines were arrayed several large barrels. Attached to each barrel was a hose from with you could draw the wine contained their in into your own bottles at About $1.50 a liter.

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We were joined at lunch by a retired American Army officer and his wife who used to be the American military historian assigned to the base. While eating a delightful meal (I reprised the pasta I enjoyed so much in Verona) we talked of many things, where we came from, what brings us here in northern Italy, favorite books, dinner plans and so one. The historian and I discussed Naida’s trilogy. She appeared eager to read it and wrote down its name.

After lunch, Hank drove me to the two headwaters of the Livenza River, the river that flows through Sacile and into the Adriatic. A river that had been a major trade route for over 7000 years since Neolithic times. ( As a side note, perhaps twenty years or so, after reading the book “The Nine Daughters of Eve” I had my mitochondria analyzed by the geneticist author and found my penultimate mother to have been born somewhere around here about 15,000 years ago). The entire river is generated by springs under the mountain. The first source is this spectacular turquoise pool fed by water from the caves beneath the cliff. Divers have gone down up to 250 feet to find the source of the water with no success. If you look closely at the center of the photograph there is a submerged statue of the Christ facing the cave from which some of those divers never emerged.

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The second headwater emerges directly from the rocks at the bottom of the photograph below and alone creates the river you see in the picture.
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That evening Hank, Camille and I went to a restaurant in a nearby town that specialized in fish dishes. We were joined by the couple with whom we had lunch, an Italian gentleman who, as it was explained to me, was the wealthy owner of a local winery, and another couple, a retired contractor for the Defense Department and his wife a very engaging woman from Madrid. I ate a spaghetti with tiny clams and a salad and for dessert a melted ice-cream and vodka drink.

The next day was market day in Sacile. The stalls were set up along the streets throughout the central part of the town. After a cappuccino and a brioche, I set off to wander through the market and the town. I walked over bridges I had never crossed before, down streets I had never traveled before, past restaurants I had never eaten in, past town walls I had never passed before, and took photographs of views I had never seen before. I was both happy and a little sad. Happy to see all these new things and sad because at my age who knows if I shall ever pass this way again.
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Then back to Lucia’s for a prosecco and water with a little ice and lemon and then off to pack and to nap.

Tomorrow we are off to Croatia.
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E. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Besides the World Cup, the news here these past few days have been dominated by the plight of the 12 member Thai teenage soccer team and their coach that had been trapped in a cave for about 10 days. Through the efforts of an international rescue team, they were eventually found miraculously all still alive. The coverage is ongoing since the students have been determined to be too weak to move according to medical personnel with the rescue team and must remain in the cave for another week or so.

Meanwhile, the media being so preoccupied with the rescue and the World Cup completely missed the news of Trump’s appointment of Vladimir Putin as the US Secretary of State, putting him third in line for the Presidency. When queried about how Putin could ascend to the Presidency of the US given the Constitution’s requirement that the President be a natural born American citizen, the administration’s spokesperson stated that a birth certificate recently had been discovered showing Putin was born in Tennessee, the child of two Russian double agents working in the US at the time. When asked when the birth certificate would be available for review, it was explained that it was in the President’s possession and would be released when he releases his tax returns. Reports that Vice-president Pence and Speaker Ryan, the two people in line for the presidency before Putin have recently hired a team of food tasters and doubled their security detail cannot be confirmed at this time. The President, in announcing the appointment, said that he, Trump, was the greatest President and leader of a nation in all of human history and that Vladimir Putin was “a good guy,” “very trustworthy,” “a true lover of democracy” and a “friend of the United States.” Trump also said of Putin that, “All the prettiest girls in Russia love him almost as much as they do me.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

While rooting around the internet a few days ago for reasons I have now forgotten, I came across something that quite amazed me — a blog site in which the author attempts to reproduce James Joyce’s Ulysses word for word in comic book form. So far he has transcribed three sections and has a long way to go yet. That he chooses to make the attempt demonstrates a level of obsession and determination of which I am in awe, even if it leads me to question why. After all why Joyce wrote it at all, other then to bedevil the critics, is a question worth ruminating on.

The blog, in addition to the comics, also includes clever “opinion” pieces like this one about famous first lines in fiction:

“I’ve been thinking about first lines a lot lately, and I’m pretty sure I find the first line of Ulysses to be just okay. Here it is: ‘Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.’”

“Now there’s nothing wrong with the line. It’s perfectly serviceable. Joyce wonks like me are fond of pointing out that ‘Stately’ contains the novel’s final word (‘Yes’) in reverse, lending the novel a nifty quasi-palindromic quality. And the densely packed images of the bowl, the mirror, the razor, and the cross each accrete layers of symbolic meaning as the novel progresses. Still, it’s not the sort of first line which, as a line, burns into the reader’s brain in the manner of ‘Call me Ishmael’ or even ‘A screaming comes across the sky.’ The American Book Review recently compiled a list of ‘100 Best First Lines From Novels.’ All the usual suspects are there, including Ulysses, but it seems to me that certain of their selections are simply nods to great books rather than to individual lines. ‘I am an invisible man,’ for instance, from Ellison’s novel of that name. The novel’s a masterpiece, but is the line really so wonderful? I suppose, if we’re taking context out of the picture, we might have to nix Ishmael too—if we want a pure list of this kind, then I say we do it. By contrast, a line like the one that begins Michael Chabon’s ‘Werewolves in Their Youth’ is pretty darned interesting in its own right (and I’ve never even read the story): ‘I had known him as a bulldozer, as a samurai, as an android programmed to kill, as Plastic Man and Titanium Man and Matter-Eater Lad, as a Peterbilt truck, and even, for a week, as the Mackinac Bridge, but it was as a werewolf that Timothy Stokes finally went too far.’”

“And here are a few others not on the ABR list that I’m fond of for reasons both obvious and ineffable:

‘Where’s Pa going with that ax?’ (E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web)”

“Back in the time of which I am speaking, due to our Coordinators had mandated us, we had all seen that educational video of It’s Yours to Do With What You Like! in which teens like ourselves speak on the healthy benefits of getting off by oneself and doing what one feels like in terms of self-touching, which what we learned from that video was, there is nothing wrong with self-welltouching, because love is a mystery but the mechanics of love need not be, so go off alone, see what is up, with you and your relation to your own gonads, and the main thing is, just have fun, feeling no shame!’ (George Saunders, Jon)”

“‘Hellfire hallelujah and halitosis. Mike Schmidt sits to pee.’(Shawn McBride, Green Grass Grace)”

“Are these culled from great works? Does it matter?”

 

There is also a site that lists the best last lines in Fiction. And, while plump Buck Mulligan’s shaving preparation is a pretty good line, I prefer Molly Bloom’s soliloquy that brings Ulysses to its glorious end:

“I was a Flower of the mountains yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls use or should I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another…then he asked me yes would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

 

 

B. Giants of History: Peter’s responses to the previous T&T post.
On Pythonism

Interesting chronological confluence: Recently finished reading “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt. It’s about the rediscovery of Lucretius”s poem “On The Nature of Things”, after over a thousand years, by Poggio Bracciolini around 1417, who was a former pope’s secretary and enthusiast for ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts, and the poem’s contribution to and impact on Renaissance and later thinking. Lucretius was a disciple of Epicurus. the poem articulated the radical (for the late middle ages) view that the universe and all things, human and otherwise, consist solely of atoms and the void, that there is no afterlife or resurrection or heaven and hell, God doesn’t exist let alone run things, and after all the right approach to life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Find joy in what you can now, ‘cause there ain’t no heaven. Works for me. Monte Python in a Roman toga.

On coffee get-togethers in the Enchanted Forest

Sounds more intriguing than Leisure World or stumbling down Collins Avenue sidestepping doggie do. Do they wear purple hair in the Enchanted Forest? Boy toy sounds like some exotic Asian dish (just watched Anthony Bourdain in Viet Nam eating some fabulous soup in Hue); but cannibals probably wouldn’t eat geriatric boy toy.

On the contention, that beauty can bore

Interesting: Suggests that wandering is a cure for the ennui or boredom of salubrious settlement. Thus, commuting from Heaven to Purgatory to Hell and back, and onward. Or at least to New York and Sacile. Forever seeking beatitude or a good pastry. Unless, of course, one is totally absorbed in one’s obsession, whatever it is: Putin’s grabbing and disrupting others, Van Gogh’s painting and agonizing, Scrooge McDuck’s diving into his money bin….

On negative news about negative people

Years ago I read something about news, and how history shows that people always want to hear/read/see the bad news, disaster news, negative stuff. What I read referred back to news, and pamphlets. And whatever back two-three hundred years. So there’s a psychological basis to take advantage of for slanting the news.

Given US history, as shown e. g by “Fantasyland,” the US is both a testing ground for new corporate-driven forms of domination and, together with its predilection for violence and fantasy, a retrograde movement backward toward more primitive and difficult times.

On corporations and oligarchs

Ultimately, the world corporate oligarchical/dictatorial concentration and continued climate change impacts will result in continued and enhanced mass migrations and consequent population redistributions, and as a byproduct a reduction of “guns in America” as counter-productive. The beauty of the Veneto will provide an oasis in which the “ho hum, another day in paradise” ennui will be reluctantly deemed the tolerable alternative to hemlock or standing on line at the Louvre to gape at the Mona Lisa or joining a futile, isolated white armed resistance cell whose membership includes — by that time — a senile Michael Caine, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Sean Penn, Samuel L. Jackson, Benicio Del toro, Russell Crowe, and Angelina Joli.

On “the cradle of civilization”

Now, China’s new Road (whatever they call that) essentially recreates the old Silk Road by rail and highway from China to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. The Russians are already building up Kazakhstan with their space program (and even Trump was trying to get some business there!). Iran will be a key, as it was back then, in spite of the Saudi/Sunnis. The US will have a lot to learn from the Italians’ sense of history via “Catch-22”

 

Wisdom from the Kabbala

“Travels With Epicurus”. Has its benefits.

Do the swallows return to Compostello?*

Thus the wheel of Karma turns; what’s new?

How do you spell Medicare in Italian?

*Note: my spell check translated this as composted.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Clothes do not make the man, but you need the proper costume if you want to play the part.”

Rothfuss, Patrick. The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2) (p. 181). DAW.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Shadow 0007 (June 27, 2018)

“Putin covets. He wants what others have. And the taking of something from someone is the ultimate delectation.”

Matthews, Jason. Palace of Treason: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 2) (p. 110). Scribner.

 

REMEMBER, JULY 15 IS “NATIONAL BE A DORK DAY”

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIES PREPARATION FOR A VOYAGE.

In two days, I will fly off to Italy and stay there for about six weeks. On one hand, it is no big deal — you know, been there done that — although I hope to visit a few places I have not seen before. On the other hand, I have passed my do by date and the immortal stage hand’s sweaty fingers await the directors signal to draw the final curtain. — — Well, that is a little bit overdramatic. Actually, age tires most of us out. It certainly does me. Sometimes, watching the sunrise and the sunset seems to be a pretty cool experience and quite enough for me for that day and if I want to laugh or cry, a smartphone can do wonders for connecting with relatives and friends who live far away,

Just before I began writing this, I noticed an article entitled the Meaning of Life saved on my desktop for some long forgotten reason. It gives a brief discussion of what each major religion or philosophical school believes that meaning to be. I thought about what I had read and tried to figure out what it means to me. The best I could come up with is: if I feel good, then life is good and if I don’t feel so good, then it’s not so good.

I think that makes me an epicurean or a Monte Pythonian. The latter postulated the “Meaning of Life” that it is:

“Well, it’s nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

Hmm, I think I like that — the answer to any inquiry about what or who you are — “I am a Monty Pythonian.” Works for me.

The Saturday before departure, Naida and I attended the morning coffee held every Saturday by our section of the Enchanted Forest HOA. One of the women who seemed in charge announced the birthdays of those in attendance at the coffee and the deaths of those who were not. Another woman, several years older than I named Winnifred (Winnie), engaged me in conversation. I later learned she found me “interesting.” Perhaps, I can become a geriatric boy toy. I also had a spirited discussion with Naida, another woman and a retired teacher regarding the persecution of Native Americans, a subject the retired teacher will be lecturing on at something called The Renaissance Society, an adult education organization at the nearby university. Could I be becoming acculturated to the senior community of the Enchanted Forest? I can envision myself eventually becoming like some elderly elve strolling among the trees with the other ancient elves talking of shoes, ships, candlewax and whatever.

 

B. ACROSS THE LAND AND OVER THE SEA.
Travel may be annoying at times but almost always interesting. For example, while loading for my flight from NY to Milano, a little old lady (younger than me I think) struggled to put her exceedingly heavy suitcase in the overhead bin across the aisle from me. I jumped up and helped her stow it. She then went into the restroom. A young man wearing a NY Police Department tee shirt then came along and tried to get his luggage into the same bin in which the old lady had put her suitcase (there were plenty of other empty bins). He could not fit it in. Frustrated, he ripped the woman’s suitcase out of the bin and threw it on the floor. “Hey,” I said, “What the fuck do you think you are doing?” ( just so you will not confuse my action for senseless chivalry: One, I was still p.o.’d from the unpleasant twelve hours I had sat in the airport’s departure lounge and Two, it takes me only a few hours of being in NY to acculturate myself to its mores and manner of interpersonal colloquy). “I’m sitting here,” he said in Italian pointing to the seat directly under the bin. “The bin is mine. It has the same number,” he added this time indicating the row number. As we faced off, LOL emerged from the toilet, eyed her suitcase on the floor, quickly took in the prancing bulls locking horns and with an annoyed snort, hauled the suitcase off the floor, slammed it into an empty bin and took her seat next to mine. The young man and I glanced at one another and sheepishly returned to our seats never to look at one another again during the entire flight.

I arrived early morning in New York’s Kennedy Airport. I was listed standby for the flight to Milano. Unfortunately, the plane was overbooked so I had to wait twelve hours to be admitted into the departure area. During that time, I mostly sat and stared. I tried to eat a hot dog while I waited for my Mac and iPhone to recharge. As with the last two times, I tried to eat a hotdog, a piece lodged in my throat and I ended up spitting bits of the dog across the table. Instead of wondering whether I was going to die as I usually do, I wondered how embarrassed I was going to be. Not much as it turned out. I was back home in NY after all.

 
C. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN LOMBARDY OR MORE ACCURATELY THE LACK THEREOF.

I landed in Milano. Nikki met me there and immediately announced he was leaving the following morning for Thailand despite the fact that he urged me to travel early so that we could spend some time together. I said, “Tell me, Nikki, isn’t it true that as soon as SWAC heard we were going to spend some time together she told you to leave immediately because she needed you to deliver some cheese and salami to her bar in Thailand.” After a short period of prevaricating, he agreed that was pretty much what happened. As Vitorio pointed out a few days later when I told him the story, “Nikki’s mind turns to mush whenever he talks to the SWAC.” Despite this minor flaw, he remains one of my dearest friends and can make the dreariest of days delightful.

The next morning, following some delicious pastry at a local cafe bakery, I left for Sacile by train. I was not particularly unhappy. As I said, it is the annoyances that make travel interesting. On the other hand, I could just as well have stayed home and fallen down the stairs and get to enjoy the same experience without having to fly half-way around the world.

 

D.TAMAI AND SACILE — IN THE HEART OF THE VENETO.
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Tamai and Sacile sit on the fertile flat plains of the Veneto that lie just beneath the rise of the pre-Alps jutting into the sky

 
After a good night’s sleep and a breakfast of coffee and toast, I walked the half-mile or so into Tamai the small village that sits in the middle of the farm country it serves — Its church bell tower rising higher than anything else. The bell tower used to provide the farmworkers in the fields with the time, now it serves as the romantic focal point for this scenic northern Italian town in the Veneto.
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I walked past well-tended houses on their half an acre to acre lots, fruit trees and vegetable gardens co-existing with clipped lawns and florid flower gardens. Behind the houses stretched the farmland all a deep green with vineyards, corn, and alfalfa fields. The latter two secondary crops are grown to feed the meat and dairy products industry somewhere else in the Veneto.

It used to be that these farmlands were owned and worked on by those who lived in those nice well-maintained houses. With the aging of the farmers and changes in the industry, the fields were leased out or sold by the owners of those houses and are now farmed by industrial conglomerates whose offices are located in the big city financial centers. In the well-tended houses, many of the aging farmers still live. Their children, however, have gone to seek employment in those same financial centers. When I look around me I think of how well these communities would serve as ideal senior communities — but then again they already are.

I had coffee and a delicious pastry at the New Life Cafe one of the two cafes in the town. After an hour or so, I left and walked to the other cafe, the Central Tamai Bar, and had another coffee and pastry and then walked back to the farmhouse and took a nap. As I was falling asleep, I contemplated the benefits of traveling four days from where I can enjoy a comfortable nap any time I want, to someplace else where I do the same thing. I decided, it is much sweeter as a reward.

IMG_4718Pookie at the New Life Cafe in Tamai
That evening, Vittorio, Anita and I went to a cafe we often visit when I am in town. It is a place where musicians frequently congregate although there was no music that night as everyone was watching Croatia defeat the heavily favored team from Argentina in their World Cup match.
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Anita and Vittorio at the cafe.

A few days went by until Professor Hank (Hank Schwartz — “Black Henry” in English) and his wife, Camille, the couple I would be traveling with to Croatia and Calabria, arrived and met us at Lucia’s Le Petit Cafe (the happiest place on earth) for several morning glasses of Prosecco. Hank who is an economics professor at some college in New Jersey and staunch, if gentle, Republican and I had a lighthearted discussion of current American and Italian politics. Italy is going through a similar collapse of the body politic as the US (although they are more used to it). The North has succumbed to the argument of the radical right that they are being invaded by hoards of black people landing on their beaches (alas, building a wall would be impractical). They also have accepted the canard that the south of Italy receives an unfair amount of government handouts and its people are lazy and corrupt (corrupt perhaps, but lazy, no. Good corruption requires significant effort). I asked one man who was making this point how he would feel if the situation was reversed and the Veneto was destitute as it had been at times in the past. He said he was all for one part of the country assisting the other during a time of need, but in this case, it was too much.
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Camille, Lucia, Black Henry and Past Primetime Pookie.

That night we gathered at Teacher Brian’s house. There were four couples and me — Hank and his wife Camille, Vitorio and Anita, a pilot for Air Italy named Alessio and his girlfriend, and Brian and his wife who he met in Korea when he taught at the American Embassy there. We had a good time. For the first time in two years, I was able to drink too much (Prosecco, Grappa, a Japanese Grappa like drink, etc.)

The next day I strolled around Sacile, one of my favorite places on earth. They were having their once a month Flea market in the Town Square. I enjoyed rummaging around in Italian garbage as a change from rummaging through American garbage as I do at Denio’s in Roseville. Italians seem to like to throw out a lot of old coins and old letters. At Denio’s, the refuse is predominately toys, clothing and old tools.

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A view of Sacile

Later I went to professor Hank’s apartment where we planned our trip. First to Croatia for two days, then the long drive through Italy to Matera stopping two nights along the way. At one of the stops, we reserved rooms in a nice hotel high on a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples. Then off to Maratea on the Calabrian coast and spending the night at the Altamonte hotel where according to Hank they serve “the best Calabrian food in the world.” Then, the next morning, off to Cosenza where I stay the night before boarding the train for Sicily.
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A View of Sacile from Professor Hank’s apartment.

Today I learned I have a mouse that shares my room with me. I am staying in the family room in the basement of Vitorio’s house in Tamai. I sleep on a temporary cot that sits low to the floor. At eye level, to my left, as I lie on my bed is a bench. Periodically, the mouse scampers along the bench, stops to check on me, then satisfied that I am ok scurries back to wherever he came from.

During my morning walk today into Tamai and back, I took a path through the town I had not taken before. Although the town has no more than six or eight streets, I found it contained a surprisingly modern and well-equipped sports stadium. Following my morning coffee in the New Life Cafe and a prosecco at the Central, I returned to Vitorio’s for lunch where for the first time in my life I tasted fried chicken blood. It was not as bad as it sounds.

This morning, I awoke much earlier than I should. I laid in bed waiting for my friend the mouse to check up on me. I have named him Topo Tamai, the Mouse of Tamai. By the way, in case you are interested, Tamai refers to the containers or barns in which you store cow dung until it can be used as fertilizer. I guess you could call the town “Compost.” At least that is not as bad as Booger Hole, West Virginia or Toad Suck, Arkansas.

Vittorio and Anita provide care for his 94-year-old mother and his 83-year-old mentally retarded diabetic aunt. Both women are confined to wheelchairs but eat all meals with us. Every morning at about 7:30 Vitorio’s two sisters arrive like the Marines at Iwo Jima. They burst through the door, wash, dress and strap the two woman into their respective wheelchairs. Then they strip the beds, clean the rooms, deposit the women at the table for breakfast and are out of the house by 8 o’clock. I am impressed by their synchronized efficiency.

Tomorrow I leave for Verona and perhaps Bolzano before returning to Milano for four days. Then I come back here and set off for Croatia.

I left the house at about 9:30 this morning. It was beautiful outside — the temperature almost perfect, the mountains glistening like silver ingots lying on blue silk, the few clouds fleecy and pure white floated around the peaks, the fields a deep dark green and flowers everywhere. It was that beauty that makes you believe that if you had the choice of all the places in the world to be at that moment, you would choose here — for a few minutes at least, perhaps an hour or so. Pure beauty if held for more than a few minutes is a form of death or at least ennui.

I walked into Tamai. I stopped at the New Life this morning for coffee and a brioche. Instead of my morning prosecco at Central, I strolled along a different road, one that led out of town to the east. I soon came across a bridge over a pretty little stream. I walked along the banks of the stream through a copse of trees much larger than I had seen in the area before. Eventually, I came to another road and followed it back to Vitorio’s for lunch.
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Then, off to Verona.

 

E. A LITTLE BIT OF SNARK.
Verona the city of Romeo and Juliet, two dimwitted self-absorbed children living in a completely insane society. They should have been kept under lock and key instead of allowed to hang out under balconies looking for sex or prowling about at night getting into switchblade fights or rifling the medicine cabinet for drugs. Rather than “But soft, what light through younger window breaks,” Romeo could just as well have recited Hamlet’s palaver with old Yorick’s skull — “to die to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream.” Wasn’t that really the choice these pre-adolescent half-wits were given — to die or to sleep, to be or not to be?

 

F. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

As we all know, there has been a lot of public discussion about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In 2013, Jason Matthews, a recently retired CIA agent began publishing an international espionage thriller trilogy. Mathews was an officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate. Over a thirty-three-year career, he served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in the clandestine collection of national security intelligence, specializing in denied-area operations (e.g., Russia). Matthews conducted double agent recruitment operations against Soviet-East European, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean targets. As Chief in various CIA Stations, he collaborated with foreign partners in counterproliferation and counterterrorism operations.

His first book, Red Sparrow, was made into a recently released movie that caught the flavor of the book even if it did not quite follow its specific plot. One of the aspects of the book that the movie does not cover is Matthews’ deep analysis of and antipathy for Vladimir Putin, his goals and the government that he set up — a government Mathews considers not significantly different from what existed in Stalin’s time except that the Soviet Commissars have been replaced by the capitalist oligarchs. In the novel, one of Mathews’ characters states:

“The Rodina, sacred Motherland of black earth and endless sky, would have to endure a while longer, as the chain-wrapped corpse of the Soviet was exhumed, hauled dripping out of the swamp, and its heart was started again, and the old prisons were filled anew with men who did not see it their way.”

Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1) (p. 27). Scribner.

In 2015, still before the 2016 US election, Mathews published his second Novel Palace of Treason in which he further dissects the character and motivation of the autocrat that now runs the Kremlin. After the thwarting of a Putin initiative in Iran, Mathews explores the Russian leader’s popularity, motivations, and goals:

“Kakaya raznitsa, who cares,” thought Putin, flipping the folder closed and tossing it into an outbox of white Koelga marble. He didn’t give a shit; global imbalance, confusion, and chaos suited him and Russia just fine. Maybe this fire was the work of the Americans or the Israelis, or maybe those Persian babuiny, baboons, didn’t know how to handle uranium. Well, he had long since received the money from Tehran for the shipment, and “investors’ deposits” had been made—Govormarenko had already divvied up the euros. Never mind; when the Iranians were ready to rebuild, Russia would step up with equipment and expertise to assist. At à la carte prices.”

“And let them try to rile up the Caucasus—no chance, he had his domestic audience well in hand. Ninety-six percent of Russians approved of his recent military initiatives in Ukraine; ninety-five percent of them believed that America was goading fractious Kiev to persecute ethnic Russians in that country. Ninety-two percent believed—no, knew—that the same situation existed in Russian enclaves in the Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. Opportunities would present themselves. They always did.”

“He would keep an eye on the oligarchs. They were rumbling about their money troubles in the face of Western banking sanctions. Nothing a few corruption trials and prison sentences wouldn’t smooth out. Massive gas and oil deals with China, India, and Japan would take the teeth out of the sanctions soon enough. And he would continue to defame and stress the NATO weak-sister coalition. Conditions were right to shatter the Euro-Atlantic alliance once and for all, which would be redress for the dissolution of the USSR. With NATO razed to the ground, the Czech-Polish missile shield proposal would no longer be a worry.”

Matthews, Jason. Palace of Treason: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 2) (p. 468). Scribner.

It seems that with Putin’s success in affecting the US election and the suborning the American president he helped elect, the shattering the Euro-Atlantic alliance depicted in the novel as his obsession is exactly what Putin has accomplished in reality now three years later. Given his position in the CIA and the fact that the novels were reviewed and approved for publication by that agency, I suspect Mathews intended them to be more factual and cautionary than fictional and prescient. In other words, a warning that sadly went unheeded. Russia remains our enemy.

 

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

Recently, in discussions with several of my better educated conservative friends, I was told that there existed a Harvard conducted study that found that Faux News was the least biased of the mainstream media purveyors of news. I told them I found it hard to believe and if true it was an outlier to otherwise consistent findings of the exact opposite in almost all other studies. I suggested it should be treated as such an outlier and ignored. They did not agree.

Upon returning home, I decided to research this anomaly in my understanding (an indication that I lack things of any significance with which to occupy my time). I found the only outlets to reference such a study were a few conservative blogs (“conservative” being a charitable description on my part). So, I decided to go and read the source of the inference, the study itself. The study was conducted under the auspices of the Harvard Kennedy School and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy by a Professor Thomas E. Patterson. It certainly did not conclude what the conservative blogs said it did. .

What it did find was that since 1963 with the move of broadcast television to longer newscasts and moving picture based news, reporting of negative events (negative news) by media outlets increased. This is why, for example, automobile accidents (random acts of violence but good pictures) receive more press attention than random acts of kindness (no matter how hard the station may try to balance the coverage). The author of the report specifically warns against considering negative news as either biased or fake. The automobile accident in the example happened. It was not fake news. The reporting of it was not biased. The Trump stories themselves are not biased.

The report further points out that by far the greatest imbalance of negative over positive news occurred during Clinton’s presidency — greater than any other in modern history, although Trump is well on his way to exceeding that record. They do point out, however, that the media reported far more positive stories about Trump during the nomination process than it did about his competitors.

While Clinton complained bitterly that the press rarely included his administration’s defense of its actions and policies in the negative stories, that is not the case with Trump. In 65% of negative news stories about him, Trump himself was the featured speaker. Also, Republicans within and outside of the administration accounted for an unprecedented 80% of what newsmakers said about Trump’s presidency. Democrats had only 6% of the sound bites with protestors garnering a meager 3% more.

In general, Trump and his administration have had a much greater opportunity to tell his side of the story than most. For purposes of comparison, the study points out that unlike Trump and his supporters who accounted for the above 80% of the commentary, Muslims provided only 6% of the commentary on issues relating to Islam.

Faux News, clearly an outlier in terms of negative news about the president, reported more positive stories about Trump than the other outlets. It made up for its discrepancy in negative stories by finding very few good things to say about the public and Judicial response to Trump’s actions.

Still, the sheer volume of negative stories is approaching and undoubtedly will surpass that of Clinton. So what accounts for that? Perhaps the answer is contained In the words of the author of the report, “The early days of his presidency have been marked by far more missteps and miss-hits, often self-inflicted, than any presidency in memory, perhaps ever.”

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

I) There is a company, Dopamine Labs that provides tools to App developers to make any App more addictive or to reduce the desire to continue a behavior that is undesirable.
2)  According to the historian Strabo, within a few years of the (Roman Empire) occupation of Egypt, 120 Roman boats were sailing for India each year from the port of Myos Hormos on the Red Sea.
Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (pp. 15-16). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.  

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. The Most Significant Post You Will Never Read:
In his blog, Charlie Stross reproduces the keynote speech he gave at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress. The speech is, as he says,”polemical, intended to highlight the existence of a problem and spark a discussion, rather than a canned solution. After all, if the problem was easy to solve it wouldn’t be a problem, would it?”
Stross has some interesting insights into a few of the fundamental issues of our time such as what is AI and what is its role in the future of humanity. His oblique look at many of the issues raised from those questions alone is worth the read. For example, the following rumination about what he calls “very slow AIs,” modern corporations:
Corporations are cannibals; they consume one another. They are also hive superorganisms, like bees or ants. For their first century and a half, they relied entirely on human employees for their internal operation, although they are automating their business processes increasingly rapidly this century. Each human is only retained so long as they can perform their assigned tasks, and can be replaced with another human, much as the cells in our own bodies are functionally interchangeable (and a group of cells can, in extremis, often be replaced by a prosthesis). To some extent, corporations can be trained to service the personal desires of their chief executives, but even CEOs can be dispensed with if their activities damage the corporation, as Harvey Weinstein found out a couple of months ago.”
“Finally, our legal environment today has been tailored for the convenience of corporate persons, rather than human persons, to the point where our governments now mimic corporations in many of their internal structures.”
“The problem with corporations is that despite their overt goals—whether they make electric vehicles or beer or sell life insurance policies—they are all subject to instrumental convergence insofar as they all have a common implicit paperclip-maximizer goal: to generate revenue. If they don’t make money, they are eaten by a bigger predator or they go bust. Making money is an instrumental goal—it’s as vital to them as breathing is for us mammals, and without pursuing it they will fail to achieve their final goal, whatever it may be. Corporations generally pursue their instrumental goals—notably maximizing revenue—as a side-effect of the pursuit of their overt goal. But sometimes they try instead to manipulate the regulatory environment they operate in, to ensure that money flows towards them regardless.”
In his discussion, he maintains that regulation is the only tool available to prevent the instrumental convergence of corporations (the need for profit) and other, swifter AIs from behaving uncontrollably and running amok. Unfortunately, this same need will also impel them to seek to manipulate the regulatory agencies for advantage instead of competing within the system. To me, this implies the need for regulation that absolutely prohibits and prevents AIs whether slow moving or fast, from influencing the rulemaking that affects them — fat chance that.
Some time ago, in Trenz Pruca’s Journal, I published a brief post on Decentralized Autonomous Corporations (DAC) https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/the-inheritors/. DAC’s are corporations run “without any human involvement, under control of an incorruptible set of business rules.”
Like most corporations, they generally cannot be terminated except by the investors, often have more rights than ordinary citizens and cannot be imprisoned if they break the law. Their investors, shielded by law, are responsible only to the extent of their monetary investment for the actions of their creation. If therefore, Stross is correct that the AIs, whether fast or slow, are subject to uncontrollable instrumental convergence* what happens to us?
* Instrumental convergence — the act of implacably moving toward uniformity to the exclusion of or the consuming of all else. e.g., in the case of making a profit, ultimately to the exclusion of all conflicting goals. A form of institutional autism.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
The cradle of civilization lies not on the banks of any river or ocean but on the banks of the ancient so-called Silk Routes. For over two millennia the Silk Routes crossed the central Asian expanse along which flowed the worlds riches and nourished the great centers of civilization. The maritime trade routes across the Mediterranean were a lusty but modest imitation. Europe was an economic, political and technological backwater. Then suddenly in the Fifteenth Century along the east and west coasts of the vast Eurasian landmass, the beginnings of a vast nautical revolution was born. The nations of the East ultimately turned their back on its promise but in the West, vast oceanic trade routes grew to create new great commercial centers. The efficiency of oceangoing trade was so much greater than the land-based Silk Routes that the magnificent cities and civilizations that had grown up along it shriveled up and died.
C. Today’s Poem:

Medicate You

Resist your temptation to lie
By speaking of separation from God,

Otherwise,
We might have to medicate
You.

In the ocean
A lot goes on beneath your eyes.

Listen,
They have clinics there too
For the insane
Who persist in saying things like:

“I am independent from the
Sea,

God is not always around

Gently
Pressing against
My body.”

HAFIZ

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“If there is a Darwinian lesson to be extracted from the history of the 20th century, it is probably that the poor require constant protection from the ideologies of the overwealthy and underpigmented.”
Jonathan Marks, Anthropomics (http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/ )

 

 

 

TODAY’S PAINTING:

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Nude in Red by Roger Smith.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Keep on Truckin…

 

 

 

Categories: April through June 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 30 Jojo 0007 (June 16, 2018)

 

 

“Prison always has been a good place for writers, killing, as it does, the twin demons of mobility and diversion.”

Simmons, Dan. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 1) Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

 

Remember:
Ramadan ends on June 15 (Eid al-Fitr).
Father’s Day falls on June 17.
July 4 is Independence Day.
July 15 has been designated as “National be a Dork Day.”

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Off to Mendocino for the Mendocino Film Festival — great weather the whole weekend. The two directors of one of the film entries (Meow Wolf) were staying in my sister’s Tower House.

We saw four movies. On the night we arrived, we attended the screening of“The Florida Project” an engaging film about a young girl of about six years old growing up in a low-income community near Disney World.

The following morning, N and I walked along the bluffs of Fort Bragg’s magnificent oceanfront park.
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Pookie looking exhausted.

 

That evening, we saw“Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story” which follows the lives of five women trying to make a living as performers in the “New Burlesque” movement. They made it clear this was not the “Old Burlesque.” Primarily, I surmised, that was because it was women of a not so-called ideal shape who twirled their tassels and shook their gluteus maximi. They also were quite clear they were not “strippers” even though they also took off most of their clothes. I guess they were not “strippers” because they seem to be not as serious as most of the strippers I have seen perform. The movie was followed by a live and lively burlesque show, all boobs, butts and adolescent humor.

On Sunday, we saw “RBG,” a documentary as good as it gets. Watching how one small elderly woman who rarely smiles and speaks agonizingly slowly can dominate every scene in which she appears is alone worth the price of admission. There should be an Oscar for “most impressive individual to appear in a documentary.”

Finally, we attended the showing of the film, “Meow Wolf,” directed by the two women staying in the Tower House. It tells about a struggling art collective in Santa Fe that created an interactive artwork in an abandoned bowling alley that became so popular the collective now stands on the verge of becoming a multi-million dollar entertainment empire with interactive art venues soon to be opened in Denver, Los Vegas and I am sure in an abandoned bowling alley or warehouse near to wherever you live.

After the showing, the two directors joined us back at my sister’s house for wines and cheeses and olives and mixed nuts and other things one eats with their hands. We talked a lot, laughed a lot, exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and promised to “keep in touch.”

The next morning, we set out to return to Sacramento. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as it turned out, somewhere a little past Clear Lake I took the wrong turn and found myself traveling through what appeared to be one of the least populated areas of the state — a place of large ranches, burned over forests and memories of Lily Langtry. After a stop for coffee in Middletown a small town destroyed by fire a few years ago, I asked Siri how to find my way home. As it turned out, Siri sent us on the road that ran along the very path that Grizzly Hair took on his trek from the banks of the Cosumnes River to Fort Ross to seek the aid of the Russians in the Indian’s war against the Mexicans that was described in Naida West’s great historical novel “River of Red Gold.” Unfortunately, he failed in his mission because when he finally arrived at the fort he found the Russians were preparing to leave California and had sold northern California to the Mexicans for a few salted almonds. Grizzly Hair did manage, however, to while away much of his time on the coast with a Pomo woman he met which may have made all that trekking almost worthwhile.

 

B. BACK IN THE HEART OF THE GREAT VALLEY:

 

Back in Sacramento, I slept most of the day, went for an evening walk along the river and finished the day watching “42nd Street,” and “The Gold Diggers of 1932” with Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Bebe Danials, Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, and about half the female musical comedy stars of the time in the chorus. Obviously, I have got a lot of time on my hands. Did I mention Busby Berkeley? Does my watching of these films mean we are about to face an imminent revival of the musical cinema? Perhaps, a return of “Hellzapoppin,” a musical about a historical figure like what was done in “Hamilton” but about He Who Is Not My President instead — a burlesque musical for a burlesque presidency.

The next day, I returned to the Golden Hills. The Enchanted Forest is lovely, but as soon as one leaves its sylvan bounds one enters that overdeveloped suburban mish-mash that only an automobile could love. It was comfortably warm. I walked around the lakes, finishing off with an Iced-tea lemonade at a table in front of the far-too-expensive tea shop in Town Center. I thought about life’s descending curtain for a while then dismissed it as it was too nice a day to ponder the imponderables. I will leave that to dead philosophers and live talk show hosts.

The following day, after my walk, I had a root-beer float at Zia’s a far-too-expensive coffee house a few doors down from the far-too-expensive tea shop. I think I am having an existential crisis. Perhaps I can sleep it off.

We went to a going away party for a next door neighbor who is moving to Normandy for some reason. I may have been the youngest person there. I met a retired dentist from NY who had an office in Rockefeller Center at the same time that I had a law office there — small world or interesting coincidence? Who knows, but it did lead to amusing reminisces. I somehow think I am struggling for meaning here. Perhaps I will try again tomorrow.

It was Saturday and although I am no rabbi, I slept late. (For those who get the reference, think a nice thought about yourself.) I watched a newscast of He Who is Not My President blowing up the G-7 talks in Canada then I took a nap. Sometimes that is all you can do.

The way I see it, without the US leadership, the democratic nations of the West are ill-equipped to confront the Autocracies of Corruption now arrayed against them. Without America, these democracies do not have the military might or the unified covert political infrastructure to compete with what is becoming clear are, if not the co-ordinated then the concurrent, political attacks by the major autocracies like Russia and China. The actions of He Who Is Not My President might not be treasonous per se in that he is not strictly conspiring to surrender political control to a foreign entity but it is a chaotic revolution of sorts by which our operating democracy slowly is becoming replaced by a tyranny while still retaining the trappings of a republic. Sort of like what happened in Rome. Augustus Cesar did not change the structure of the Roman Republic. He merely appointed himself and his family members to all the government jobs that really mattered. It took about 70 years for the family to be ousted by the military and by then even the trappings of the Republic had been all but abandoned.

What this all means is that one should never nap after watching He Who Is Not Our Commander In Chief on television doing anything other than his Levee (although there are those that believe that is all he does do).

Following my post-nap rumination, I took the dog for a walk. We walked along the American River levee, singing and dancing to old show tunes until the sky turned from red gold to deep purple and we returned home.

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Dusk on the American River Levee.

By Sunday afternoon, I felt I was going a bit stir crazy. It is not the need for doing something but the need for seeing someone else doing something even if that something is ordering a cup of coffee and carrying it to a table. Hanging around a house with little more than television and my iPhone eventually makes me even more loopy than usual. So, we got into the car and drove up Route 16 to historic Sloughhouse to deliver some books. Then over to Jackson to a bookstore there to deliver some more books. Above the bookstore is a place called Baker Street West. An entire floor of the building is a shrine devoted to the great but fictional detective. They even had a room fixed up like his quarters on Baker Street complete with calabash pipe (which by the way Holmes never smoked in any of his stories. He preferred a clay pipe.) and magnifying glass thrown askew on his desk (I could see no evidence of Holmes’ opium stash (Holmes denied he mixed cocaine with his opium — as well he should.))

After the tour, we drove to the town of Sutter’s Creek for dinner. I ordered spaghetti and meatballs. For those who cook Italian food professionally or for one’s own pleasure please remember, IT IS THE SAUCE AND NOT THE NOODLES THAT MATTER. Whether it is a tomato sauce, meat sauce, Alfredo, even agile olio, spend your time on the sauce — making sure that it has a flavor to die for by tasting it while you cook. The noodles need only to be the right shape to hold the sauce and be cooked properly al dente with salt and a touch of olive oil (no, the olive oil is not used to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Like the salt, it should subtly add to the taste). Finally, please do not pile the plate with noodles at the expense of the sauce — it is the sauce that makes the dish. Also, good tomato sauce needs to be reduced. Simmering for several hours and saving it overnight is good. Those who make tomato sauce in a frying pan in 15 minutes or so should have their procreation organs cut off.

Also, when cooking pasta always make sure you drink some wine while you do — otherwise where is the fun. I have always been disgusted by cooking shows. They either simply end with a shot of the finished product or someone tasting it and rolling their eyes to let you know how good it is. Bullshit! It is the eating of the entire meal that matters — that should take at least as much time and preparation as it’s cooking. Otherwise, why waste your time cooking? You may as well go out and eat fast food. How you set your table, your water, the bread, the wine, the comfort of the chair, the slow savoring of the various tastes and aromas, that is what makes the meal. Talking while eating borders on the barbaric. Between courses, it is fine.

Obviously, you can tell from this rant that I did not enjoy my meal at that restaurant very much. Chatty waiters add little to the culinary experience.

Then we drove home and went to sleep — another a deposit in the Bank of Memories Past.

Today I swam in one of the pools in the Enchanted Forrest. Each HOA in the Forest (10 in all) has a main pool and clubhouse as well as one or two smaller pools and clubhouses. The development as a whole also has a main clubhouse and pool. That is a lot of clubhouses and pools. Anyway, the pool I swam in was surrounded on the south and west side with tall redwood trees shading the pool on summer afternoons. A seven-year-old boy challenged me to a race. He beat me three out of four times. While I was swimming laps, I noticed the greasy black smoke of a nearby fire curling up behind the trees. A fire department helicopter circled overhead and the sound of sirens cut through the silence of the Forest. Such is the excitement of my world now.

In a few days, I am off to Italy. Although I will spend about a week to ten days traveling through Croatia to Calabria and five days in Sicily, except for a few days with Nikki in Milan very little else has been planned. I may travel into the mountains behind Naples to Pratola near Avellino, the heartland of the Camorra. That is where the Petrillo clan comes from. Few who leave there ever go back, even for a visit. An uncle advised me to never go there. “If they do not kill you, they will rob you,” he said. An Aunt cautioned, “They will only ask you to give them money.” I assume times have changed since my Aunt and Uncle visited.

“Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few.”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

Today, the news was all about He who is not my President’s trip to North Korea where he once again demonstrated that there is no dictator, no matter heinous, that he cannot love and no ally, no matter how staunch their support, that he would not stab in the back if it suited him. That he has turned the United States into a country without honor seems to not faze him one bit.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

Muhammad’s Seventh Wife Zaynab bint Jahsh.

An early convert to Islam, Zaynab was the wife of Muhammad’s adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah. She was also the Prophet’s biological cousin. When Muhammad became infatuated with Zaynab, Zayd was pressured to divorce her. To justify marrying her, Muhammad announced new revelations that (1) an adopted son did not count as a real son, so Zaynab was not his daughter-in-law, and (2) as a prophet, he was allowed more than the standard four wives. Zaynab excelled at leather-crafts.

One that Got Away — Fakhita (Umm Hani) bint Abi Talib.

Muhammad proposed to his cousin Fakhita, but her father married her off to a wealthy Makhzumite poet instead.

Nearly forty years later, after Muhammad conquered Mecca, Fakhita’s husband fled rather than converting to Islam, causing an automatic divorce. Muhammad proposed to Fakhita again, but she refused, saying she could not be equally fair to a new husband and her young children.

Later still, Fakhita came to Muhammad, saying her children had grown up and she was finally ready to marry him; but he said she was too late.

(JP — What intrigues me most about this entry is contemplating what it was that was going through my mind that caused me to research the wives of Muhammed. One of the few minor benefits of aging is the slow replacement of memory with mystery. (e.g., Asking yourself how your eyeglasses got where you found them after looking for them for the past two days or why the wives of Muhammed so obsessed you that you just had to tell those who might read this about two of them.))

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

I especially like this blog because the author seems to believe (as do I) that intemperate invective is a legitimate method of scholarly criticisms. For example, in one of his blog postings reviewing a book written by another anthropologist, he opines:

“You know what? Fuck him. Fuck his ancestors too. What some inbred twit thinks the about the evolution of human society is about as relevant as what a raccoon thinks. The reason this kind of pervy-Darwinistic thought was repudiated many decades ago is that it was recognized as the vulgar self-interested bio-politics of the rich and powerful. If there is a Darwinian lesson to be extracted from the history of the 20th century, it is probably that the poor require constant protection from the ideologies of the overwealthy and underpigmented.”

Anyway, this week’s blog post appears in  Anthropomics (http:anthropomics2.blogspot.com/ ), a blog by well-known geneticist and evolutionary anthropologist Jonathan Marks who describes himself as “faux geneticist, now a faux historian, all the while an evolutionary anthropologist.”

In an article in that blog entitled “Who wants Charles Murray to speak, and why,” he examines the recent revival on the university lecture circuit of the well known racist Charles Murray (remember The Bell Curve), and takes special aim at those arguing that “all ideas deserve a hearing.”

 

“The Bell Curve cited literature from The Mankind Quarterly, which no mainstream scholar cites, because it is an unscholarly racist journal, supported by the Pioneer Fund, that wacko right-wing philanthropy that has thrown money at wacko eugenicists, racists, segregationists, and hereditarians of all stripes, since its inception in 1937 under the aegis of the wacko eugenicist Harry Laughlin. The Bell Curve also cited the work of that racist wacko psychologist Philippe Rushton – who believed that the mean IQ of Africans is genetically set at 70 and that Africans had been r-selected for high reproductive rate and low intelligence — and then pre-emptively defended his wacko racist ideas in an appendix. Even the wacko evolutionary psychologists distanced themselves from Rushton, appreciating the toxicity of his ideas: “Bad science and virulent racial prejudice drip like pus from nearly every page of this despicable book,” wrote David Barash in the journal Animal Behavior.”

 

And further on:

“And now the alt-right has gained political ascendancy, and Charles Murray is on a speaking tour.”

 

And goes on:

“The Bell Curve capitalized on the popularity of the Human Genome Project in putting forth its thesis about the genetic stupidity of poor people in the 1990s. Some geneticists repudiated it, but others recognized, as the geneticists of the 1920s did, that it was good for the business of genetics. When Science reviewed Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race – a classic of American racist thought, which was read in defense of Karl Brandt at the Nuremberg trials to show that the Germans had simply been doing what the Americans were advocating — it concluded with a sobering thought: “This is a book that will … help to disseminate the ever-growing conviction among scientific men of the supreme importance of heredity.” Sure, the genetic theory in question might be insane, might be evil, and it might be false, but it definitely is good for business. More recently, the Human Genome Project was backed up with all sorts of purple prose about how your DNA sequence was the most important thing about you: The Code of Codes, The Book of Man, and the like. They knew it was bullshit then, and that’s why there is such interest in epigenetics now.

“These geneticists are reprehensible because they provide the hereditarian soil for scientific racism. The geneticists may not themselves be racists, but their idiotic statements about what they think their knowledge applies to have indeed sometimes crossed over. James D. Watson, who knows more about DNA than you do, caused a stir a decade ago when he said that different groups of people have different “powers of reason”. The rest of the genetics community disagreed, and challenged his own powers of reason.

 

And continues:

“We should not be debating the innate intelligence of black people, or of the poor, on college campuses or anywhere. It is a morally corrupt pseudoscientific proposition

“Its like inviting a creationist or an inventor of a perpetual motion machine. The university should not be a censor, but it sure as hell is a gatekeeper. At this point, sometimes they go all radical epistemological relativist and say that all ideas deserve a hearing. But all ideas don’t deserve a hearing. The universe of things that do get discussed and debated on college campuses is rather small in proportion to the ideas that people have debated over the years. Should we stone witches? No. Might the speed of light be 140,000 miles per second, rather than 186,000? No. Might the universe just be made up of earth, air, water, and fire? No. Might Africans just be genetically stupid? Might people who want to debate this point have their fundamental civic morality called into question instead?”

“This also raises bigger problems. Geneticists that mislead the public about what human genetics explains. College faculty that can’t identify pseudoscience. There were, after all, any number of serious refutations of every aspect of The Bell Curve. “
http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/2017/04/who-wants-charles-murray-to-speak-and.html

 

So, there you have it. He, basically, argues that modern geneticists, in their interest to promote their trade as relevant, risk becoming the camel with its nose under the tent of right-wing racist fantasists. I agree, fuck them and fuck the genes they rode in on.

 

(JP- I realize everyone probably knows a racist or two but is anyone aware of any radical epistemological relativists stalking your neighborhood recently?)

 

B. Today’s Poem:

Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Performer Billie Holliday
Songwriter: Lewis Allan

 

 

C. Giants of History:

SAINT ROCCO

Now Saint Rocco may not be anyone’s idea of a giant of history, but he is the patron saint of dogs (as well as, bachelors, diseased cattle, falsely accused people, invalids, Istanbul, surgeons, tile-makers, gravediggers, second-hand dealers, pilgrims, and apothecaries). He is also very popular among Italians for some reason (The nickname Rocky comes from the common Italian name Rocco). There was a statue of St. Rocco above the altar of The Assumption Church in Tuckahoe NY, the church I attended when I was a child. He was my favorite saint. His statue showed him leaning on his staff, a large bloody slash on his thigh and the little dog that saved him by his side. There is a St Rocco feast for the last 129 years every August along Mulberry Street in Greenwich Village NYC.

For reasons that now have passed beyond my memory, I looked up Saint Rocco on the internet and found that on August 10-12 in Aliquippa PA, St. Titus Church is conducting a procession and festa in honor of the beloved saint. To my surprise and with my rant regarding spaghetti sauce in POOKIE”S Adventures above freshly on my mind, I learned that there would be a Spaghetti Sauce Tasting competition at the festa. So, for those who heed my advice on how to prepare superior spaghetti sauce you may want to enter the competition — but first, you would have to beat Mary Petrella and Zachary Patterson who won last year’s contest. If you think you can, call Charlene up right away and enter. Unfortunately, you would have to visit Aliquippa to compete.

 

SPAGHETTI SAUCE TASTING!
Do you have, or does someone you know have, a spaghetti sauce that is said to be the best??

Put it to the test against others at the annual San Rocco Spaghetti Sauce Tasting!
Winner receives bragging rights for the year!

To enter, need to provide 4 quarts of sauce (2 quarts are used per night labeled with your name).

Please let Charlene know if you would like to participate by Monday August 6th.
Sauce will need to be dropped off by Thursday August 9th.
Call Charlene Costanza before August 9th for drop off information – 724-728-9777

 

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Panorama of Aliquippa PA.

(JP — I cannot decide if there is stark beauty in this photograph or indescribable horror and despair. The factory has been closed for over a decade. It looks like something from a dystopian science fiction movie — a Mad Max sequel perhaps. The photo I think is supposed to entice you to want to visit Aliquippa.)

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“[He] did not believe in religion, for they were unwieldy things, designed to fill gaps in human understanding with nonsensical explanations, allowing people to sleep well at night, granting them a false sense of comfort and control and preventing them from stretching further for true understanding,”

Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (p. 568). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S MAP:

 
Pasted Graphic
California’s Great Valley 1873

(JP — The great Tulare Lake, several times larger than Lake Tahoe, is now gone as are the vast tule marshes [in grey] that still existed in 1873. They were the victims of the vast expanse of agriculture in the 20th Century and the unquenchable thirst for water by the Cities in the Southern California desert.)

 

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Pops 0006. (August 29, 2017)

 

 

 

 

“Jefferson warned that without economic democracy there can be no political democracy”.
Fred Harris

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

 

A. Traveling from Bangkok to El Dorado Hills.

I do not know why it is but I usually find the most unpleasant trips the most interesting. It was that way on my trip back from Thailand. We left the apartment at about 7PM in order to get to the airport early enough for me to get a good seat. Suvarnabhumi Airport was more crowded and disorganized than I had ever seen it. After a difficult time securing my ticket, I was told the flight was delayed until 6:30 in the morning.

I arrived in Shanghai just as my connecting flight to the US was leaving. I had forgotten how the Chinese bureaucratic system differs from that in the US. In the US, probably for reasons of cost, people relating to the public are trained, for better or worse, to handle a number of somewhat discretionary activities. The Chinese it seems are not. Each functionary there appears to have been assigned only a single, not particularly discretionary, action.

As I exited the plane, I saw a young man with a sign that announced, “Transfer Passenger Assistance” and showed him my ticket. He looked confused. Walked away to speak to someone, returned and pointed vaguely toward a corridor leading from the hall. After passing through several hallways, I entered a large room containing several counters. Above one was a sign in English that read, “24-hour transit passengers.” I guessed that was the counter I was looking for. There was a long line and only one clerk. When I got to her and showed her my ticket she responded, “Transit Hotel.” I asked “Where?” She handed me a paper with my name on it and pointed to another traveler and said, “Follow that woman.”

“That woman” proved to be another lost and confused American who missed the same connecting flight as I. We passed through another warren of hallways until we came to a room even larger than the previous one with a lot of counters around the walls in front of which were crowds of clamoring travelers. We noticed a group of people in the center of the room who we recognized from our plane and asked them if they knew what was happening. One said, “I think we are supposed to wait here until someone comes for us.”

I noticed a counter over which was a sign that read something like “Transit Supervisor.” I approached him and asked what it is we should do. He pointed at a bunch of chairs against one wall and said, “Sit there, someone will come for you.”

So, we sat there for a long time and to our relief eventually, someone came and ordered us to follow him. We asked where we were going but received no answer. He marched us to a bus, too small to sit all of us and our luggage so many had to stand in the aisle amid the piled suitcases.

After a long long ride that ultimately brought us back to an airport hotel across the street from where we began, we disembarked and entered the hotel and milled around the lobby until one of us thought it would be a good idea to approach the reception desk. We did and at first, they did not seem to understand what we were all doing there. Then one of the women behind the desk motioned to us and began assigning rooms. When I approached and asked for a single room she said brusquely, “Two to a room” and assigned an elderly Japanese man to room with me. At first, I was offended that I had to share a room and with another, an old man no less, but I then realized he was no older than me. He spoke barely any English and I no Japanese but I soon discovered him to be one of the nicest and kindest people I had ever met.

I then asked about dinner and there ensued a several hour hullabaloo where I turned into the ugly American. I thoroughly enjoyed it, shouting away and laughing until everyone turned their back on me except for the servers who laughed with me (or at me, who knows).

The next morning at the airport the lines and confusion were staggering until a guard asked if I was on the plane to SF. When I answered in the affirmative he whisked me through everything and off I flew.

Having slept well the night before, I could not fall asleep during the flight so I watched all three episodes of Lord of the Rings. I found Frodo’s bulging eyes disconcerting and wondered why everyone had blue eyes.

It took five hours or so to get from SF airport to Hobbitown in the Golden Hills.

 

B. Back in El Dorado Hills.

Now some might wonder how I could equate EDH with the Shire. Easy, they both have a certain picturesque attractiveness; they both are set among rolling hills; they both are self-indulgent inward looking societies; they both see the outside world as full of orcs, goblins, sorcerers, violence and malevolence and; the citizens of both have hairy feet and do not wear shoes. Well, actually, the citizens of EDH do wear shoes.

I have resumed my life here as before; wake in the morning; drive HRM to school; Bella Bru for cafe latte and cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese; walk about three miles around the lake; return home and read a book; nap; have dinner and; retire to my room for my daily dose of existential anguish.

On Wednesday, I leave to spend a week at my sister’s home in Mendocino. She is hosting an engagement party for her son Brendan and his intended Ashley. She expects about 60 people to spend the weekend in and around the house. The Paella Lady and her huge paella pan will be there. Also, lots of Italian and Philippine food to eat and I expect a lot of music too.

On Sunday we plan to attend Paul Bunyan Day in Fort Bragg.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

When he was about 5 or 6, I used to tell HRM stories every evening. The following is one of them:

“So, last night, at bedtime, I continued telling the series of stories to Hayden that I had begun about two years ago. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit Bill and Naida’s ranch).”

“Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of ‘The Old Man Under the Mountain.’ With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego cuddly toy shares my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse. In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not so Powerful a Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.””

“They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.”

“The knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named ‘Heimlich.’ Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called Pruneberry the King of the Castle (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother Natasha Dewlap married Heimlich’s uncle, Julius Caesar (we both thought that was a very funny name).”

“Anyway, Heimlich and his friend [who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well be something as ridiculous and Guildenstern or Rosencrantz or even Miracle Max] one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go the cemetery to visit the site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way, they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.”

“Anyway, Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.”

“When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, ‘Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.’”

“At this point, Hayden asked me ‘How can a ghost speak after he died?’”

“‘A keen observation,’ I acknowledged. ‘That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.’”

“The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.”

“And so, the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, ‘Say Natty does this look familiar to you?’ At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passers-by.”

“Hayden then asked me, ‘What are rutabagas?’ I said, ‘I did not know.”’

“Heimlich, thereafter spent every day alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named ‘Snowy,’ looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabagas to passers-by, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party.”

“The End.”

“I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale that I would tell him about tomorrow [I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear]. But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.”

“I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story now because he needed to get a good night’s sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the ‘Deep Dark Wood’ to visit his mom.”

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

“Perhaps the greatest challenge of the algorithm revolution is that as machines and the algorithms that drive them have become ever-more complex, we are rapidly losing our ability to understand how they work and anticipate unexpected behaviors and weaknesses. From just 145,000 lines of code to place humans on the moon in 1969 to more than 2 billion lines of code to run Google in 2015, today’s systems are labyrinths of interconnected systems.”
Kalev Leetaru, Forbes Magazine.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Levinson on Top:

 

1948 — 1973 a golden age like no other.

“The second half of the 20th century divides neatly in two. The divide did not come with the rise of Ronald Reagan or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is not discernible in a particular event, but rather in a shift in the world economy, and the change continues to shape politics and society in much of the world today.”

“The shift came at the end of 1973. The quarter-century before then, starting around 1948, saw the most remarkable period of economic growth in human history. In the Golden Age between the end of the Second World War and 1973, people in what was then known as the ‘industrialized world’ – Western Europe, North America, and Japan – saw their living standards improve year after year. They looked forward to even greater prosperity for their children. Culturally, the first half of the Golden Age was a time of conformity, dominated by hard work to recover from the disaster of the war. The second half of the age was culturally very different, marked by protest and artistic and political experimentation. Behind that fermentation lay the confidence of people raised in a white-hot economy: if their adventures turned out badly, they knew, they could still find a job.”

“The year 1973 changed everything. High unemployment and a deep recession made experimentation and protest much riskier, effectively putting an end to much of it. A far more conservative age came with the economic changes, shaped by fears of failing and concerns that one’s children might have it worse, not better. Across the industrialized world, politics moved to the Right – a turn that did not avert wage stagnation, the loss of social benefits such as employer-sponsored pensions and health insurance, and the secure, stable employment that had proved instrumental to the rise of a new middle class and which workers had come to take for granted. At the time, an oil crisis took the blame for what seemed to be a sharp but temporary downturn. Only gradually did it become clear that the underlying cause was not costly oil but rather lagging productivity growth — a problem that would defeat a wide variety of government policies put forth to correct it.”

“The great boom began in the aftermath of the Second World War. The peace treaties of 1945 did not bring prosperity; on the contrary, the post-war world was an economic basket case. Tens of millions of people had been killed, and in some countries, a large proportion of productive capacity had been laid to waste. Across Europe and Asia, tens of millions of refugees wandered the roads. Many countries lacked the foreign currency to import food and fuel to keep people alive, much less to buy equipment and raw material for reconstruction. Railroads barely ran; farm tractors stood still for want of fuel. Everywhere, producing enough coal to provide heat through the winter was a challenge. As shoppers mobbed stores seeking basic foodstuffs, much less luxuries such as coffee and cotton underwear, prices soared. Inflation set off waves of strikes in the United States and Canada as workers demanded higher pay to keep up with rising prices. The world’s economic outlook seemed dim. It did not look like the beginning of a golden age.”

“As late as 1948, incomes per person in much of Europe and Asia were lower than they had been 10 or even 20 years earlier. But 1948 brought a change for the better. In January, the US military government in Japan announced it would seek to rebuild the economy rather than exacting reparations from a country on the verge of starvation. In April, the US Congress approved the economic aid program that would be known as the Marshall Plan, providing Western Europe with desperately needed dollars to import machinery, transport equipment, fertilizer, and food. In June, the three occupying powers – France, the United Kingdom, and the US – rolled out the Deutsche mark, a new currency for the western zones of Germany. A new central bank committed to keeping inflation low and the exchange rate steady would oversee the Deutsche mark.”

“Postwar chaos gave way to stability, and the war-torn economies began to grow. In many countries, they grew so fast for so long that people began to speak of the ‘economic miracle’ (West Germany), the ‘era of high economic growth’ (Japan) and the 30 glorious years (France). In the English-speaking world, this extraordinary period became known as the Golden Age.”
Marc Levinson, End of a golden age, Aeon

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

We would not expect someone to have the talent to pitch for the New York Yankees simply because he is wealthy, so why would we give to the wealthy, solely because they have been successful in making money, the right to tell us how we live, how our money invested in government is to be spent and a host of other things of common interest. After all, their expertise is limited to making money, usually in a very narrow field of endeavor. Why would we not expect their advice to be biased to favor them making more money?

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation”.
~Howard Scott

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

 

5996022514000020002c3580 2

 

At 7, I could not speak a second language and except for a passing acquaintance with Italian, I still cannot.
At 18, my mind concentrated on baser pleasures than the quality of its processing.
At 22, I could not remember anyone’s name. I still cannot.
At 23, I was in law school. It was not compatible with life satisfaction.
At 25, I was as weak as a baby. Still am.
At 26, I was married — the first of many.
At 28, I had not yet run a marathon. I still have not.
At 30, I do not know about bone mass but my adipose mass was clearly increasing.
At 31, it had been 10 years since I had last played a game of chess.
At 32, I could remember faces. I still can. There are some I wish I could forget.
At 39, whatever peaked was not applicable to me.
At 40, I had not won a Noble Prize — still, haven’t. I have never been nominated either.
At 48, I had not reached my peak income. That occurred 15 years later. I lost it all a few years after that. Is there a peak year for losing your money?
At 50, I could not balance my checkbook — still cannot.
At 51, I did not understand peoples emotions — never could, never will.
At 69, I was dissatisfied and moved to Thailand.
At 71, I began to use more profanity whenever I spoke with anyone.
At 74, you have got to be kidding.
At 82, I sure hope my psychological well-being will peak— nothing else will.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Pasted Graphic 2
Richard K. Diran. Danae and the Shower of Gold.

“The King of Argos had only one child, a daughter named Danae. Although beautiful, the king wanted a son and went to the Delphic oracle to ask if there was any hope of having a son. The oracle said, ‘no’ and worse that Danae would have a son who would kill him. The king could not put his innocent daughter to death so he built a room sunk underground but with part of the roof open to the sky so that light and air could come through. “

“As she lay there a mysterious thing happened. A shower of gold fell from the sky, it was Zeus in this form who impregnated her and she would bear the son who would kill her father the king.”

 

 

 

Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    13 Capt. Coast 0006 (May 2, 2017)

 

“Time erodes events into stories, stories into recollections, recollections into impressions, impressions into vague sensations that eventually dim altogether.”
Pike, J. Zachary. Orconomics: A Satire (The Dark Profit Saga Book 1) (p. 76). Gnomish Press LLC.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The sun is out today. Dick and HRM have left for a few days in San Diego. Dick, who is a graduate of the University of San Diego and worked with its administration on several projects over the years, will introduce HRM to some of his friends in the university administration and tour the campus. They also will spend some time with the people developing drone technology there. It sounds like a great trip.

I, on the other hand, remain back in EDH on fish feeding duty. The fish in question, an extremely large goldfish named Sharky, requires special handling and becomes upset when absent human companionship for more than one day.

When not attending to my duties as fish feeder-in-chief and if it is sunny, I wander around EDH town center and sit on the benches overlooking the lake. I look and feel a lot like some old homeless person. Come to think of it, maybe that is exactly what I am.

A couple of weeks have gone by since I wrote the above. The sun is out the weather is warm and I am for the most part feeling better. I have turned my attention to summer plans. I originally intended to drive south of Rome to Puglia and stay in a Trulli house. Then on to Matera and to Sicily to spend a few days at Antonio’s. However, for the first time in my life, I felt that traveling that long alone was beyond me. So, I probably will terminate my Italy portion of the trip at Rome and Sabina. That is unless someone wants to join me and share the costs and the driving.

Pasted Graphic 1

In the meantime, I have continued reading book after book waiting for my body to recover from the medical assault on it. I rarely read a book more than once. Most of what I read is not worth it — trash is trash — no need for second helpings. Nevertheless, I decided to reread Stephen King’s magnum opus (It is obviously an opus, but I doubt it is magnum unless that word simply means long.) a seven-volume novel called The Dark Tower (soon to be a major motion picture starring Matt McConaughey and Idris Elba). I decided to read it again because I had first read the 5000-page novel about 10 years ago and was tired of what I had been reading these last few months. Not that it was any less trash than I had been reading, even King who appears as himself in the novel admits that as a writer he is a hack — a very successful hack but a hack none the less. I heard he had penned a new edition so, since I had now and then thought about the novel over the years, I wanted to see what was new.

The most surprising thing was how little of the new edition I recalled from my reading of it so long ago. In fact, it had little in it that I remembered. Either he completely revised it or I did in my imagination.

My mom is rapidly approaching the end of her life. She mostly sleeps now only now and then waking briefly. Still, she remains feisty, fighting off the orderlies when they try to feed her and still trying to get out of bed and get a job. She will be 100 years old in June if she lives that long. My sister disagrees with me about her age. Maryann insists she will be only 99.

TO YOU ALL, LONG DAYS AND PLEASANT NIGHTS.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

I was going to continue my favorite eras of history with something about the present. How you may ask, can the present be history? Well, since we humans, at least, are post hoc rationalizing creatures, everything is in the past when we perceive it. Quantum theory suggests that it may not even exist until we perceive it. But, science and philosophy aside, the present has become too bizarre and distasteful for me so I will leave it to lie and fester and jump directly into the far future — but not today, that is for another post.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

I wrote the following about 5 years ago. Since then my obsession has diminished but not my admiration.

Rumination on an Ashkenazi Theme

Everyone should know a little Yiddish:

Now, why you might ask would it be important for we goyim to learn a few words of Yiddish? Well, besides the fact that many of these words are already common and well-integrated into English, there is another reason as well. You see, some languages have many words that essentially describe what a non-speaker would imagine being the same thing. For example, 200 words or so for snow or a hundred and fifty words for a camel’s hoof. Yiddish enriches English because it contains hundreds of words to describe human foibles. Even when it ostensibly refers to a thing like a knickknack, the Yiddish word “tchotchke” seems to say more about the observer and the owner than about the object itself.

Many people have the mistaken notion that Yiddish is a Jewish language like Hebrew. True it was spoken primarily by Jews. However unlike Hebrew which until the establishment of the state of Israel served as the “religious” or “intellectual” language of most Jews; much like Latin was used in western Europe until the last century, Yiddish generally was spoken by only one of the major branches of the Jewish Diaspora. That branch, known as the Ashkenazi were those Jews who lived primarily in eastern Europe and originally included Northern France until various pogroms forced them further east. Like the Kurds of today, they were a nation without a land of their own. Until the 19th century, most Jews spoke a pastiche of Aramaic, Hebrew and the indigenous language of the place they were living at the time. The roots of Yiddish are primarily German with Aramaic and Hebrew influences. It also includes words and expressions from several Slavic languages in varying degrees depending upon where the speakers lived. There are several different “Yiddish dialects” including that spoken as the official language in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Russian far east near Vladivostok. Its capital is Birobidzhan. The First Birobidzhan International Summer Program for Yiddish Language and Culture was launched in 2007.

Ashkenazi Dreams:

Yiddish developed among the Ashkenazi, one of the three main branches of Judaism. The other two being the Sephardim (primarily originating on the Iberian peninsula) and the Mizrahim comprising most of the others. The Sephardim and the Mizraim, if they spoke it at all, did not speak Yiddish as their mother tongue as did many of the Ashkenazi before emigrating to the US.

They all more or less can trace their patrimonial heritage through the male Y chromosome to a single individual living somewhere in the middle east about 5000 years ago, about the time when Abraham was reputed to have lived. A recent study of the Cohen, the traditional priestly class descended from Aaron, Moses’ brother, using DNA from males with that surname worldwide, indicates that most of them are descended from a middle eastern male alive about 3000 years ago; about the time the Bible indicates that Moses and Aaron lived. Given that several hundred years of the most intensive archeological investigation in the world, while turning up scads of evidence of the other Peoples and nations mentioned in the Bible, failed to turn up much evidence at all of Jewish history older than somewhere between 200 and 600 BC, it is remarkable that modern genetics has been able to confirm at least this part of the story. (Not that it proves that Abraham, Moses, and Arron actually existed, but it does confirm that during those times there was in all likelihood some horny goat-herd in the Near East busy shtupping a shikse or two thereby giving birth not only to the great Jewish nation but, in all likelihood, a significant portion of the population of the entire Mediterranean basin. I guess it could fairly be observed that Arron wielded a mighty rod.)
The Ashkenazi male line descends primarily through southern Italian and Sicilian Jews who migrated into Northern Europe about 400-600 AD to escape persecution by the newly dominant Christians. Genetically Southern Italians and Sicilians and the Ashkenazi appear to be closer related to each other than to most of the rest of trans-mountain Europe. Unlike the other branches of Judaism, the Ashkenazi seem to have picked up a small but strong Central-Asian component primarily from the Caucuses and the area around the Caspian Sea, the ancestral home of the Khazar’s, the almost legendary medieval Jewish empire.

On the matrilineal side DNA testing shows that although there is strong evidence of middle eastern origins among the women, there is significantly more evidence of non-middle eastern origins than among the men (Again with the shikses.)

Among the Ashkenazi, there is a high incidence of Tay-Sachs an inherited and inevitably fatal disease. The Sephardim and the Mizrahim seem to have no greater incidence of the disease than the general population, an indication that the effects of natural selection and genetic drift happen quite rapidly and do not require the eons that mutations take to be reflected in a population. The Tay-Sachs’ discovery may have revealed another startling fact, that the genes causing Tay-Sachs may be related to those controlling for intelligence. * Based on standard IQ testing as much as 20% of the Ashkenazi score 120 or higher, scoring higher in verbal and mathematical elements and lower in spatial than the general population (in other words, great scientists, and writers but lousy athletes). In the general population, the average is about 4-5% including for the Sephardim and Mizrahim. It is not so hard to guess why that is the case. The Christian pogroms and prohibitions against land owning for the Jews and against charging interest for the Christians coupled with high literate demands of the rabbinate made those excelling in abstract thought high-quality breeders so to speak.

On the other hand, among the Christian West, strangely enough, those who were most literate were prohibited from breeding. From the fall or the Roman empire until the success of the Protestant revolt, for the most part, the most literate of the Western Christians were forced into the clergy where, unless they were Popes or Cardinals, they were strongly discouraged from breeding.

Instead, we placed our genetic basket on the shoulders of homicidal maniacs whose claim to fame was their preternatural ability to take someone else’s technology and turn it into a more highly efficient means of slaughter.

As luck would have it, due to the plague almost wiping us out, and our short-term tendency to compensate by breeding like rabbits, coupled with our forced procreation of prescient psychopaths equipped with proficient killing machines and a resistance to disease, we in the West were able to conquer the world. Hooray for us.

*Note: Contrary evidence for the genetic connection between Tay-Sachs and a certain type of intelligence is provided by the fact that the Irish appear also to be prone to the disease. On the other hand, perhaps the Hibernians were one of the lost tribes of Israel like the American Indians and just about everyone else, except for the Mormons, who never get lost.

So what’s it to me?

Some of you have inquired about my fascination with Judaism given that I am goyim and all that. Actually is in not Judaism that fascinates me but the Ashkenazi. The Ashkenazi used to be a sizable stateless nation in eastern Europe that barely escaped annihilation. It now has a state of its own in the Near East that exists under the extreme stress of annihilation. Many of the surviving descendants of the original Ashkenazi not living in the Near East now live in the US.

I used to think that my fascination was because my great great grandmother was Jewish (and given mathematics of human generation, whose wasn’t somewhere along the line). Her family (named Tau) was from somewhere in Austria. In the early 1800s, they left Austria, probably under the pressure of one pogrom or another and could not afford the ticket to the US, and settled in a tiny Italian hill town named Roccantica in the then Papal States. Go figure.

More recently, however, as I read about the newest advances in genetic analysis of population migration over time, I was fascinated to learn that the modern Ashkenazi, at least on the male side, were primarily descended from Sicilian and Southern Italian Jews who migrated to Northern Europe to escape the emerging dominance of Christianity during the latter stages of the Roman Empire.

I recall looking at a photograph of my maternal Sicilian grandparents. In the photograph, both my grandfather and grandmother were photographed separately. He, with his tightly curled blond hair, long narrow nose and wispy blond mustache, appeared to be one of those Sicilians descended from either the Normans or later French settlers who bequeathed their blond hair and surnames to their descendants (Cigna and Gallo common Sicilian surnames and my mother’s name Corsello appear to be examples). However, my grandmother, a DeFalco, was different. Her photograph always fascinated me. Dark where my grandfather was pale, long black hair and eyes coal black, not haunted nor haunting but quietly alive as though they saw more and deeper than the rest of us. DeFalco seems to be an old Sicilian name. Several Castelo Falconaras, that may or may not relate to them, dot the Sicilian landscape. Could they be the remnants of that gene line left somehow behind when the rest of them set off for El Norte and became Ashkenazi? Who the hell knows.

When I was a little kid my first playmate other than cousins, was a boy named Ian who lived down the block. I would now and then have what passed for a play date then with him. I liked going over his house. He had a sand box in his back yard. I did not. I only had a grape arbor. We would play and after a while, if he got frustrated, he would punch me. I did not know why he did that.

At the other end of the block, beyond the large black rock that jutted onto the sidewalk, lived an older boy. He was about seven (I was only four or five years old). I was afraid of him because he was big and he would punch me also. Nevertheless, it was always an adventure to walk down the block all the way to the flat rock and sit there. I would not go further because I then could no longer see my house.

At that time we lived on the one street in the lower part of Tuckahoe where no other Italians (or for that matter any blacks) lived. My grandfather built the house when he had gotten rich from his construction company. Unfortunately, he lost it all in the depression, so we divided up the house among the family and still lived there. My father, mother, baby brother and I lived upstairs. The floor had been converted to an apartment. My Grandparents lived in an apartment on the ground floor and my Aunt had a room made out of the old sun deck. We all shared the living room. The rest of the neighborhood was mostly peopled by what became referred to as WASPs, but I knew them then as Americans. There were three Jewish families that I was aware of on Dante Avenue as the block was named, two of them belonged to the boys who would punch me.

Even though I was afraid of him, I soon found out that all the bigger boy wanted was just someone to talk to. I did not understand that at the time. In any event, we would sit on the rock and talk about those things of interest to little boys, like pirates and the like. I later learned that they were both being bullied horribly by the older boys, in part because they were Jewish.

I never understood bullying. I learned to live with the name calling, but when it moved beyond that I always had to step in. I was able to get away with it, not because I was strong or brave, but because I realized that the object of bullying was to take advantage of the ease of dominating someone weaker than you. However, when someone interposes himself then the object of the exercise becomes muddled. To pass through someone who puts up even slight resistance to get at the weak is simply not worth the effort. Besides, most bullies were that way because someone else was bullying them. It was always a risk for them when someone fought back. I would find myself stepping in to stop bullying about once a week. No one ever decided to fight with me about it even though I was small and weak at the time. That puzzled me for a while because I otherwise fought almost every day with someone who I thought was trying to bully me. I wondered why. Eventually, I came up with a theory. But that is for another time.

I did not know what Jewish, or Christian, or Italian, African-American and so on meant then. They were simply words to me. Of course, sometimes those words indicated a difference I could see, for example, “colored” kids as we called African-Americans back then, were often, but not always, darker than Italian kids and American kids were pinker with blue veins. I couldn’t see much difference in most of the others. Later I learned what people meant when they used those words to describe themselves or other people. Most of the time when they were not describing themselves, they used those words because they were a little afraid of the others.

The woman many considered my second mother, was a member of the third Jewish family. They lived next door. I called her Anna Banana, probably because I could not pronounce her last name. She was married and childless. She had a narrow face and freckles. She also had carrot-colored hair that seemed to be all wiry and would fly about her head at odd angles whenever she moved around, which she did a lot. I spent almost every day all day with her at her house. She never seemed to mind. She taught me how to pick and eat scallions and play the piano. Nights, I would spend sitting on my grandmother’s lap before the fireplace that my grandfather built with big rocks that he had carried himself from somewhere. I would repeat from memory all the nursery rhymes I had learned from my mom and Anna Banana, sing songs and recite poems in English and Italian that my grandmother taught me. I felt very and happy with Anna Banana and my grandmother.

Then my father decided to sell the only asset we had, the house, in order to open up a business, a bar, and restaurant. Six months later we were homeless and living on the streets. But that is another story.

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income, and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?

 

B. Today’s Poem:

Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still ‘Fie, foh, and fum
I smell the blood of a British man.
Shakespeare— King Lear, Act 3, scene 4

(In the play, Gloucester’s son, Edgar, disguised as Tom o’ Bedlam speaks these words and others in an effort to mislead Lear. Later Browning used the first line in his epic poem “Childe Roland.”)

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Pasted Graphic

Fornax by Beth Moon

 

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joseph 0004 (January 9, 2015)

“…people who make the most productive contributions, the ones who make lasers or transistors, or the inventor of the computer, DNA researchers — none of these are the top wealthiest people in the country. So if you look at the people who contributed the most, and the people who are there at the top, they’re not the same.”
Joseph Stiglitz

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Since the last week in September I have been either traveling, ill or overwhelmed by holidays. As a result, outside of posting a few photographs in T&T and reading a lot I have been unable to do much else.
______________________________________________

Yesterday, January 2 (13 Joseph 2004) I was finally able to get back to editing Quigley’s “Weapons Systems and Political Stability.” I am about at page 700 on my first edit and have about another 700 pages more to go. The first edit is intended only to familiarize myself with the material and catch the most egregious errors (there are a lot). My next edit will be to polish it up, add some headings for clarity and write a new introduction.

Because Quigley died before finishing his book, it ends at about 1500 AD. The previous edition includes Quigley’s article on the French Revolution in an effort to fill in the gap. I think that is inadequate. I probably will cross reference his major published work, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, or add an edited version of the post-1500 portion of that book.

I have begun editing the rise of Islam and the Arab conquests section of Weapons. It is interesting to note that the Arab political dominance of Islam lasted only 300 years or so, thereafter the Islāmic world was ruled mostly by non-Arab Muslims (Turks, Kurds [Saladin], Moors and the like) until at the end of WWI (1918) when the allies created the system of Arab-controlled states at the expense of those Islāmic tribes and nations that commanded the Near and Middle East for the previous 1000 years.

Also, the Arabs like the Hebrews were Semite language speakers from tribes that migrated out of grasslands south of the Fertile Crescent during dry periods. Thus, ironically, not only do they share the same language family, original culture and genetics but also the same religion in some respects. Islam can somewhat be looked at as a heretical form of ancient Judaism since the Koran acknowledges the Hebrew bible as among its founding documents and Gabriel himself supposedly directed the Prophet to begin his vocation as a prophet instead of going into his family business selling souvenirs to pilgrims visiting Mecca. (This abandoning of the family business continues a long tradition among religious leaders. After all, Buddha could not stand being a prince, Jesus was bored by carpentry, Paul saw no future in tax collection and Joseph Smith needed the money.)

Similarly, Christianity can be seen as a heretical form of Judaism. Christ, as a Jewish heretic, preached a different form of Judaism much as the Pharisees (another heretical group) did in creating a good deal of modern Judaism. Christ urged his followers to, “forget the forms and rules, how you behave and treat others is more important.” The rabbis (at least after Hillel) seemed to say, “the rules and prescriptions should not be taken too literally, but they are a good thing to contemplate and discuss in order to determine how to behave.”

Paul the Arch-Heretic, on the other hand, demanded his supporters, “forget the Hebrews and what Jesus had to say, think, do and behave as I tell you.”
__________________________________________

On Sunday I drove to the Bay Area where I had a very pleasant lunch with Kathleen who now heads the AG’s antitrust division. Later I visited my mom who was quite spry and alert. She believed that the place where she had lived for the past 10 years or so was a hospital that she had just entered a few days ago because she had suddenly taken ill. Earlier in the day she felt better so she began to change into her street clothes so that she could leave the hospital and find a job.
IMG_20141220_135747_738
Mom and her girls
___________________________________________

I have just about finished my revisions to the first half of Red Storm my still uncompleted stab at a novel. If anyone would like to review it and give me your thoughts and suggestions I will very much appreciate it.
___________________________________________

Well, I’m back under doctor’s care. A recent unusual shortness of breath while exercising prompted my visit to my him. Following a series of tests including a CT-scan, we have eliminated a return of a pulmonary embolism and heart disease, confirmed my long-standing gall stone problem and discovered what they euphemistically call a “lung nodule.” More tests and procedures to follow.
____________________________________________

In rereading the Stieglitz quote above it strikes me that those young people sent off to war to risk their lives so that those top wealthiest people can enjoy their good fortune, or those like my daughter and her compatriots, endeavoring to protect this nation and those same rich from the horrors of plague, as well as most of those who have dedicated their lives to helping others, are not payed very well either. One would think they should be included among those who have made productive contributions as great as and probably more than many of those wealthy people.
____________________________________________

Today I said to myself the hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming. So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.

B. BOOK REPORT:

The Martian by Andrew Weir, soon to be a major motion picture starring Matt Damon (a man who will always look barely post-pubescent), is a man-boy novel without the killing and explosions. It is about science, engineering and manly pluck. I found it fascinating and enjoyable — being a man-boy myself. Dick McCarthy, however, pointed out that despite the intensive descriptions of electronic monitors, space suits, airlocks and the like, the Robinson Caruso of Mars almost never glances out the window and tells us what the planet actually looks like. It is sort of like writing about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and describing in great detail the raft’s paddles and their uses but never mentioning what you saw when, not otherwise engaged with problems and vagaries of riverine locomotion, you looked up at the variegated walls of that magnificent chasm.

Pookie says check it out…

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY —2014 SCIENCE:

2014 saw science bring humans closer to exercising the attributes of Gods. A research laboratory in the US created a synthetic chromosome raising the possibility that we may soon become able to create complex life forms. Another team of scientists has demonstrated brain to brain communications creating the potential of direct neural communications between humans. Also, a way to make matter directly from light has been postulated. Finally a new theory about how life forms out of inert matter has been proposed.

About 80 years ago the paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin (“Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.”)
theorized that as humankind increasingly populated the globe it would through evolutionary processes, produce a new type of life that he called the Noosphere, the collective consciousness of humankind. This he claimed would become one with God. Alas, life being what it is, simply the search for a more efficient method of converting energy into matter by reversing entropy, I sincerely doubt this new life form, if it actually comes into being, will be much different from the mad, irresponsible homicidal gods postulated in humankind’s historical imagination.

DAILY FACTOID:

1550: In about this year the illustrious German (Franconian) Imperial Knight, Gottfried von Berlichingen, or as he was known, “Gotz of the Iron Hand” because he went into battle with a prostheses to replace the hand he had lost in a previous war and whose major claim to fame was a preternatural ability to piss everyone off, issued his legendary challenge, ”er kann mich am Arsche lecken” (“he can lick my arse”).
goetz02
The Iron Hand of Gotz

Gotz, as can be expected, was beloved of the Nazis who memorialized him by naming several instruments of death in his honor.

(It has been rumored that Marvel’s Winter Soldier was the reincarnation of Gotz.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“…we usually think of Christianity as the great contrast to the Roman ideology, but this is to misconceive the whole civilization. Christianity as an organization was in no way incompatible with Romanism as an organized structure. The teachings of Christ were, but these teachings were so very alien and strange that no one took them very seriously and being a Christian soon meant, not belief in Christ’s teachings but belief in Christ, a totally different thing. The same thing happened in Islam where Muhammad’s teachings were soon ignored, and the requirements of Islam became a few rituals, plus monotheism, and so far as Muhammad was concerned, belief that he was the Prophet of the One God.

The Christians cut down Christ’s teachings to a minimum also, insisted only on the belief that Christ was the Son of God and some related beliefs and certain rituals, and then began to engage in violent controversy on minute details of implications of these, very remote from Christ’s teachings or attitude. On this basis, there was not much in Christianity which could not be reconciled with the Roman system, and the original enmity between the two came more from the Roman side than from the Christian.

…The willingness of the Christians to become part of the Roman system can be seen in the present survival of the Roman Catholic Church as a copy of the Roman empire, a system organized in municipalities and provinces under an absolute ruler who uses the robes, nomenclature, language, and modes of action of the late Roman empire.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

10250098_10152838593940242_5035726372689074374_n
Pookie enjoys himself at the Doria Pamphili Museum in Rome

Categories: January through March 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. October 19, 2010

Today’s factoid:

1980. The US unfortunately lost its world leadership in such things as the greatest creditor nation, of having the lowest infant mortality rates and highest standard of living and the like. Nevertheless, it proudly remains number one in the world in, assault by rifle, shotgun or larger firearm, drunk Neighbors, death by reptile, car thefts, obesity, divorce rate, marriage rate, defense budget, television viewing and, external debt (owed to other countries).

Today’s news from Thailand:

1. The worst floods in memory hit Korat and are expected to hit Bangkok soon. Meanwhile the worst tropical storm of the year (Typhoon or Hurricane) has devastated the northern Philippines.

2. The Secretary to the President of the Constitution Court was dismissed following the release of a video tape showing him meeting with a Democratic Party (the party opposed to the Red Shirts) Member of Parliament attempting to influence the Red Shirt (Puea Thai) party’s laws suit accusing the Democratic Party of misusing certain funds. Meanwhile the MP in question has recently left the country.

3. The new head of Thailand’s military has begun his purge of army officers suspected of sympathy with the Rad Shirts.

Pookie’s continuing adventures in Thailand:

NOWHERE AND BACK AGAIN

CHAPTER VII – HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN ZIGGITY-ZIG.

We spent the night at Gun Girl’s house in Chyaphum a town in Issan. It is located near another national park that lies astride the divide between Lanna and Issan that I had visited once before. The divide like the Sierra Nevada’s rises gently on one side and falls off steeply on the side facing Lanna. On the Issan facing slopes grow a remarkable purple flower that looks like lupine with somewhat larger and waxier petals. What is unusual about them is that when in bloom they grow in great profusion over the meadows and hills of the park, each on its individual stalk without leaves, containing a single group of flowers per plant and these stalks grow separately about 18 inches from one another as though some god came down and planted them for his own amusement because like most gods he was insane.

Anyway Gun Girl’s house was, along with her automobile in which we had been riding, the spoils of her recent divorce.

The next morning no one felt like moving too much so we spent the day straightening up the house, cleaning the car, walking around the neighborhood and visiting GG’s relatives. I spent most of my time traveling from my bedroom to the bathroom and then to the porch where putting up my feet on the railing, I sat and read old magazines from Australia that I assumes belonged to the now unlamented husband.

The following day we left for Korat. Korat is a relatively large city that functions as the gateway to Issan. When I was here last, almost 10 years ago, it was a center of the pottery and ceramics industry much like Gubbio and the surrounding hill towns in Italy are the centers of the Faience (Majolica) industry. In addition to the pottery and the like the artisans of Korat specialize in large bas reliefs, some twenty or thirty feet wide. There is one of an elephant on the exterior wall of the house in Chiang Mai.

All cultures everywhere have similar centers of artisans. After a society disappears, when archeologists dig around in its detritus, it is often the product of these industries that are dug up and declared great art. During the Renaissance, when many of the grey marble statues of classical civilization came to light, they became the models for the great art that began to be produced at the time. Unbeknownst or ignored by the aesthetes then and now, these classical artworks were more often than not, the by-products of the same sort of workshops that one found in Korat and not only that but they originally were all brightly painted in colors that today we would find amusing on a circus clown. Nevertheless, the paint having worn off during the centuries leaving only the bare stone and metal prompted artists down almost to today to sculpt their images in unpainted stone (except for the Della Robbia family who sculpted in clay and fired it with colored glaze).

Anyway, we went to the house of GG’s sister. The house was quite large and originally belonged to the sister’s departed (dead) husband who was a high government official of some sort. The sister had used the money she had stolen from us and from our employees that she supervised to remodel the first floor into the restaurant, According to her, her customers made up the nouveau riche of the area (She serves wine and steak as well as Thai food).

After graciously showing me around and offering me a job (that I ignored) we all left and drove almost non stop back to Paradise by the Sea where I was left off. I ran up
to my apartment, took a shower and went right to bed, “…to sleep perchance to dream…”. And dream I did, of my masseuse who was due to arrive tomorrow for my two-day massage. “Ay there’s the rub.”

Fini…

Pookie’s epistle to the Thai email list:

If you object to being offended, please do not read this attachment.

Pookie’s Epistle Number X-2

On Death, Lucifer Light Bringer, my Grandfather and Omar Khayyam

This was one of those remarkably beautiful mornings. So as I sat in the cafe sipping my cafe latte and gazing at the yellow sand beach and the stippled water reflecting the almost empty blue sky, of course my thoughts wandered off to ruminating on death and dying.

This is not such an odd juxtaposition at my age, especially when recently I began to wonder if my preference for drifting through life requires some adjustment when faced with the inevitable decline of my physical and mental faculties over the next decade or so.

On the other hand, as I so well know, the end may occur while simply standing on the sidewalk looking forward to the future. Or, as the Great Dane imagined by Sarahpalin’s literary predecessor, mused whether “..to take arms against a sea of trouble..” is really worth it.

This led me to think about my grandfather who bore the same name as I and was called, “Big Joe”, “Old Joe”, “Pepino” or just Joe as the situation required.
I turn to contemplation of the man often because of the great dark shadow cast by the him stunting the growth of all members of the Petrillo family caught in its gloom.

Big Joe approached life as something to be beaten into shape with his fists or accepted with neither emotion nor regret.

In his nineties, when he was of the age that required him to reside in an institution for the youth impaired, he developed the obsession that were he to lie down on his bed he would surely die. So, every night he sat upright in his chair facing the door to his room ready to fight death to the death so to speak. No, there was no going silently into “that dark night” for old Joe. He was prepared to beat death into submission were the caped skeleton so foolish as to walk through that door.

One night when he was 85 years old and working at directing traffic in the parking lot of one of his son’s restaurants on Cape Cod, he called me on the phone. He was worried about being arrested and thrown in jail (not for the first time in his life). When I inquired as to what it was that made him think this, he told me that evening he directed an automobile with two young men and their dates into a parking space. The young man driving ignored him and parked instead closer to the entrance to the restaurant and got out. Grandpa (as I called him) went up to the driver to remonstrate with him and ask him to move his car to the space into which he was directed.

The young man responded by saying, “Get out of the way old man,” and pushed “Big Joe” aside.

Shortly thereafter the ambulance took the young man to the hospital suffering a broken nose, the loss of a few teeth, a couple of broken ribs and various contusions and abrasions as they say in the legal trade. I was to later learn that the young man was hospitalized for two weeks.

“Don’t worry grandpa”, I laughed “If you are arrested, I will take the case, put you on the stand and ask you one question, ‘How old are you Mr. Petrillo’. Besides I suspect the young man will be too embarrassed to press charges”. I was right he did not.

Anyway, one night midway through his 98th year, a kind-hearted nurse, after giving him his medicine watched him doze off and believing that he must, at his age, be uncomfortable sleeping upright in a chair, lifted him up and into his bed. They found him dead the next morning.

That is the way it is with old man death, he may not be strong enough to wrestle you into your grave but close your eye for a moment…

It is interesting that in the iconography of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) death is most often imagined as a demon. “Lucifer Light Bringer” being the arch-demon.

Lucifer Light Bringer was a demigod (angel) who like Prometheus (another demigod) committed the universally unforgivable sin of gods everywhere of bringing knowledge to the human race. For this they were to be punished for all eternity; Prometheus by being chained to a rock and having his liver clawed out daily by an eagle; and Lucifer by having his light put out and being forced to live with that monstrous big boobed bitch Lilith while spending the rest eternity dipping the souls of the damned, head down into barrels of boiling piss.

It seems that what the gods intend us learn is that on earth as it is in heaven, no good deed goes unpunished.

This is probably why so many of our Abrahamic brethren suffer so:

The Jews with their unreasonable sense of guilt (probably for inventing the insane god that they did. But cheer up my circumcised brethren, the pagan gods were no better, except that they were able to drink wine and laugh, while roasting humanity on the rotisseries of life).

The Christians with their utter terror of their totally insane and vindictive god

Muslims with their hatred of anyone not forced to suffer like them under the not so benevolent hand of Allah.

The history of the Catholic Church and Christianity can be summed up as the battle between those who believe that god intended the spoils of life to go to those whose lives most demonstrate a willingness to do almost anything to achieve success in this life (e.g. Augustine and Jerome who believed, it is not the good you do that makes one blessed but the strength of your blind fervor.) and those who now and then actually do a good deed or two. Unfortunately, that dank cesspool referred to as the Catholic hierarchy all too often gave lip-service to the latter but idolized the former.

The Gnostics understood the truth behind the symbolism when they maintained that the Abrahamic god was the prince of evil and that Lucifer Light Bringer and Prometheus were the avatars of the God of Light destined to ultimately end the dread reign of this spawn of Loki.

Of course there are always exceptions, Maimonides, Hillel, Francis of Assisi, Rumi are some. I would like to add one of my favorites Omar Khayyam to the list. After all he did say that the primary goal of life is “…a loaf of bread, a glass of wine and thou beneath the bough…” but that is going too far I think.

By the way, what is it about Islam and alcohol (they invented the word for god’s sake)? After all, their history is filled with alcoholic poets and drunken califs and sultans.

Did you know, that there once was an Ottoman sultan so distressed that his supply of favorite wine in his cellar was running out, he allowed himself to be persuaded to begin a war to conquer the country (Cyprus) that made his beloved vintage, after the Cypriots, egged on by the Pope (of course), threatened to sell no more of their wine to the islamic heathens.

The good Christian nations, fearing that these vines would be lost to the true church should the sultan achieve his goal, united, as they had almost never been able to before in history for anything, and kicked the Sultan’s ass at the battle of Lepanto, beginning the slow steady decline of the Ottoman Empire and of Islamic civilization that continues today.

It was just about at this same time, back in old Europe, recently recovered from the plague, that a few priests, among them Luther, Calvin and Wycliffe, decided to take the lunatic god at his word. Recognizing that the fruits of life seemed to inure to those most willing to climb over the corpses of anyone who stood in their way, these divines declared that since that is what usually happens in life anyway, it therefore must be the will of God.They also maintained that such success must be some indication of favor from the Most High and therefore as long as he (and it most assuredly must be a he) took the psychotic god into his heart, he would also be first among the elect when he, to the relief of his victims, finally died.

After all, God must be displeased, as he was displeased with the children of Israel once they stopped winning, with the miserable of the earth, the poor and the southern eastern european migrants of the last century and the South American and Africans of this, since he made their lives so unbearably wretched.

Our fundamentalist brethren,( and if truth be known, the Catholic hierarchy) cheer this insight to this day.

Bonus attachment:

For those of you who decide against the above epistle, I have attached for your amusement and edification, the first chapter of Richard Burton’s (the explorer not the actor) translation of the famous medieval Persian sex handbook “The Perfumed Garden”.

You must be 18 or older to open this attachment. Anthony, having yesterday, reached his majority, is now free to do so.

Today’s quote:

“Ah well, I suppose it has come to this… such is life.”
Ned Kelly’s last words before he was hung.

_________________________________________________

Bonus Attachment:

CHAPTER 1

Concerning Praiseworthy Men

LEARN, O Vizir (God’s blessing be upon you), that there are different sorts of men and women; that amongst these are those who are worthy of praise and those who deserve reproach.

When a meritorious man finds himself near to women, his member grows, gets strong, vigorous and hard; he is not quick to discharge, and after the trembling caused by the emission of the sperm, he is soon stiff again.

Such a man is liked and appreciated by women; this is because the woman loves the man only for the sake of coition. His member should, therefore, be of ample dimensions and length. Such a man ought to be broad in the chest, and heavy in the crupper; he should know how to regulate his emission, and be ready as to erection; his member should reach to the end of the canal of the female, and completely fill the same in all its parts. Such an one will be well beloved by women, for, as the poet says:

I have seen women trying to find in young men
The durable qualities which grace the man of full power,
The beauty, the enjoyment, the reserve, the strength,
The full-formed member providing a lengthened coition,
A heavy crupper, a slowly coming emission,
A lightsome chest, as it were floating upon them;
The spermal ejaculation slow to arrive, so as
To furnish forth a long drawn-out enjoyment.
His member soon to be prone again for erection,
To ply the plane again and again and again on their vulvas,
Such is the man whose cult gives pleasure to women,
And who will ever stand high in their esteem.
Qualities Which Women Are Looking For in Men

The tale goes, that on a certain day, Abd-el-Melik ben Merouane, went to see Leilla, his mistress, and put various questions to her. Amongst other things, he asked her what were the qualities which women looked for in men.

Leilla answered him: ‘Oh, my master, they must have cheeks like ours.’ ‘And what besides?’ said Ben Merouane. She continued: ‘And hairs like ours; finally they should be like to you, O prince of believers, for, surely, if a man is not strong and rich he will obtain nothing from women.’

Various Lengths of the Virile Member

The virile member, to please women, must have at most a length of the breadth of twelve fingers, or three handbreadths, and at least six fingers, or a hand and a half breadth.

There are men with members of twelve fingers, or three hand-breadths; others of ten fingers, or two and a half hands. And others measure eight fingers, or two hands. A man whose member is of less dimensions cannot please women.

The Use of Perfumes in Coition. The History of Mo&cced;ilama

The use of perfumes, by man as well as by woman, excites to the act of copulation. The woman, inhaling the perfumes employed by the man, becomes intoxicated; and the use of scents has often proved a strong help to man, and assisted him in getting possession of a woman.

On this subject it is told of Mo&cced;ilama, the impostor, the son of Kaiss–whom God may curse!), that he pretended to have the gift of prophecy, and imitated the Prophet of God (blessings and salutations to him). For which reasons he and a great number of Arabs have incurred the ire of the Almighty.

Mo&cced;ilama, the son of Kaiss, the impostor, misconstrued likewise the Koran by his lies and impostures; and on the subject of a chapter of the Koran, which the angel Gabriel (hail be to him) had brought to the Prophet (the mercy of God and hail to him), people of bad faith had gone to see Mo&cced;ilama, who had told them, ‘To me also has the angel Gabriel brought a similar chapter.’

He derided the chapter headed ‘The Elephant,’ saying, ‘In this chapter of the Elephant I see the elephant. What is the elephant? What does it mean? What is this quadruped? It has a tail and a long trunk. Surely it is a creation of our God, the magnificent.’

The chapter of the Koran named ‘the kouter’ was also an object of controversy. He said, ‘We have given you precious stones for yourself, and preference to any other man, but take care not to be proud of them.’

Mo&cced;ilama thus perverted sundry chapters in the Koran by his lies and his impostures.

He had been at his work when he heard the Prophet (the salutation and mercy of God be with him) spoken of. He heard that after he had placed his venerable hands upon a bald head, the hair had forthwith sprung up again; that when he spat into a pit, the water came in abundantly, and that the dirty water turned at once clean and good for drinking; that when he spat into an eye that was blind or obscure, the sight was at once restored to it, and when he placed his hands upon the head of a child, saying, ‘Live for a century,’ the child lived to be a hundred years old.

When the disciples of Mo&cced;ilama saw these things or heard speak of them, they came to him and said, ‘Have you no knowledge of Mohammed and his doings?’ He replied, ‘I shall do better than that.’

Now, Mo&cced;ilama was an enemy of God, and when he put his luckless hand on the head of someone who had not much hair, the man was at once quite bald; when he spat into a well with a scanty supply of water, sweet as it was, it was turned dirty by the will of God; if he spat into a suffering eye, that eye lost its sight at once, and when he laid his hand upon the head of an infant, saying, ‘Live a hundred years,’ the infant died within an hour.

Observe. my brethren, what happens to those whose eyes remain closed to the light, and who are deprived of the assistance of the Almighty!

And thus acted that woman of the Beni-Temim, called Chedjâ el Temimia, who pretended to be a prophetess. She had heard of Mo&cced;ilama, and he likewise of her.

This woman was powerful, for the Beni-Temim form a numerous tribe. She said, ‘Prophecy cannot belong to two persons. Either he is a prophet, and then I and my disciples will follow his laws, or I am a prophetess, and then he and his disciples will follow my laws.’

This happened after the death of the Prophet (the salutation and mercy of God be with him).

Chedjâ then wrote to Mo&cced;ailama a letter, in which she told him, ‘It is not proper that two persons should at one and the same time profess prophecy; it is for one only to be a prophet. We will meet, we and our disciples, and examine each other. We shall discuss about that which has come to us from God (the Koran), and we will follow the laws of him who shall be acknowledged as the true prophet.’

She then closed her letter and gave it to a messenger, saying to him: ‘Betake yourself, with this missive, to Yamama, and give it to Mo&cced;ailama ben Kaiss. As for myself, I follow you, with the army.’

Next day the prophetess mounted horse, with her goum, and followed the spoor of her envoy. When the latter arrived at Mo&cced;ailama’s place, he greeted him and gave him the letter.

Mo&cced;ilama opened and read it, and understood its contents. He was dismayed, and began to advise with the people of his goum, one after another, but he did not see anything in their advice or in their views that could rid him of his embarrassment.

While he was in this perplexity, one of the superior men of his goum came forward and said to him: ‘Oh, Mo&cced;ilama, calm your soul and cool your eye. I will give you the advice of a father to his son.’

Mo&cced;ilama said to him: ‘Speak, and may thy words be true.’

And the other one said: ‘Tomorrow morning erect outside the city a tent of coloured brocades, provided with silk furniture of all sorts. Fill the tent afterwards with a variety of different perfumes, amber, musk, and all sorts of scents, as rose, orange flowers, jonquils, jessamine, hyacinth, carnation and other plants. This done, have them placed there several gold censers filled with green aloes, ambergris, net and so on. Then fix the hangings so that nothing of these perfumes can escape out of the tent. Then, when you find the vapour strong enough to impregnate water, sit down on your throne, and send for the prophetess to come and see you in the tent, where she will be alone with you. When you are thus together there, and she inhales the perfumes, she will delight in the same, all her bones will be released in a soft repose, and finally she will be swooning. When you see her thus far gone, ask her to grant you her favours; she will not hesitate to accord them. Having once possessed her, you will be freed of the embarrassment caused to you by her and her goum.’

Mo&cced;ilama exclaimed: ‘You have spoken well. As God lives, your advice is good and well thought out.’ And he had everything arranged accordingly.

When he saw that the perfumed vapour was dense enough to impregnate the water in the tent he sat down upon his throne and sent for the prophetess. On her arrival he gave orders to admit her into the tent; she entered and remained alone with him. He engaged her in conversation.

While Mo&cced;ilama spoke to her she lost all her presence of mind, and became embarrassed and confused.

When he saw her in that state he knew that she desired cohabitation, and he said: ‘Come, rise and let me have possession of you; this place has been prepared for that purpose. If you like you may lie on your back, or you can place yourself on an fours, or kneel as in prayer, with your brow touching the ground, and your crupper in the air, forming a tripod. Whichever position you prefer, speak, and you shall be satisfied.’

The prophetess answered, ‘I want it done in all ways. Let the revelation of God descend upon me, O Prophet of the Almighty.’

He at once precipitated himself upon her, and enjoyed her as he liked. She then said to him, ‘When I am gone from here, ask my goum to give me to you in marriage.’

When she had left the tent and met her disciples, they said to her, ‘What is the result of the conference, O prophetess of God?’ and she replied, ‘Mo&cced;ilama has shown me what has been revealed to him, and I found it to be the truth, so obey him.’

Then Mo&cced;ilama asked her in marriage from the goum, which was accorded to him. When the goum asked about the marriage-dowry of his future wife, he told them, ‘I dispense you from saying the prayer aceur (which is said at three or four o’clock). Ever from that time the Beni-Temim do not pray at that hour; and when they are asked the reason, they answer, ‘It is on account of our prophetess; she only knows the way to the truth.’ And, in fact, they recognized no other prophet.

On this subject a poet has said:

For us a female prophet has arisen;
Her laws we follow; for the rest of mankind
The prophets that appeared were always men.
The death of Mo&cced;ilama was foretold by the prophecy of Abou Beker (to whom God be good). He was, in fact, killed by Zeid ben Khettab. Other people say it was done by Ouhcha, one of his disciples. God only knows whether it was Ouhcha. He himself says on this point, ‘I have killed in my ignorance the best of men, Haman ben Abd el Mosaleb, and then I killed the worst of men, Mo&cced;ailama. I hope that God will pardon one of these actions in consideration of the other.’

The meaning of these words, ‘I have killed the best of men’, is that Ouhcha, before having yet known the prophet, had killed Haman (to whom God be good), and having afterwards embraced Islamism, he killed Mo&cced;ilama.

As regards Chedjâ el Temimia, she repented by God’s grace, and took to the Islamitic faith; she married one of the Prophet’s followers (God be good to her husband).

Thus finishes the story.

The man who deserves favours is, in the eyes of women, the one who is anxious to please them. He must be of good presence, excel in beauty those around him, be of good shape and well-formed proportions; true and sincere in his speech with women; he must likewise be generous and brave, not vainglorious, and pleasant in conversation. A slave to his promise, he must always keep his word, ever speak the truth, and do what he has said.

The man who boasts of his relations with women, of their acquaintance and good will to him, is a dastard. He will be spoken of in the next chapter.

There is a story that once there lived a King named Mamoum, who had a court fool of the name of Bahloul, who amused the princes and Vizirs.

One day this buffoon appeared before the King, who was amusing himself. The King bade him to sit down, and then asked him, turning away, ‘Way hast thou come, O son of a bad woman?’

Bahloul answered, ‘I have come to see what has come to our Lord, whom may God make victorious.’

‘And what has come to thee?’ replied the King, ‘and how art thou getting on with thy new and with thy old wife?’ For Bahloul, not content with one wife, had married a second one.

‘I am not happy,’ he answered, ‘neither with the old one, nor with the new one: and moreover poverty overpowers me.’

The King said, ‘Can you recite any verses on this subject?’

The buffoon having answered in the affirmative, Mamoum commanded him to recite those he knew, and Bahloul began as follows:

Poverty holds me in chains; misery torments me:
I am being scourged with all misfortunes;
Ill luck has cast me in trouble and peril,
And has drawn upon me the contempt of man.
God does not favour a poverty like mine;
That is opprobrious in every one’s eyes.
Misfortune and misery for a long time
Have held me tightly; and no doubt of it
My dwelling house will soon not know me more.
Mamoum said to him, ‘Where are you going to?’

He replied, ‘To God and his Prophet, O prince of the believers.’

‘That is well!’ said the King; ‘those who take refuge in God and his Prophet and then in us, will be made welcome. But can you now tell me some more verses about your two wives, and about what comes to pass with them?’

Certainly,’ said Bahloul.

‘Then let us hear what you have to say!’

Bahloul then began thus with poetical words:

By reason of my ignorance I have married two wives –
And why do you complain, O husband of two wives?
I said to myself, I shall be like a lamb between them;
I shall take my pleasure upon the bosoms of my two sheep,
And I have become like a ram between two female jackals,
Days follow upon days, and nights upon nights,
And their yoke bears me down during both days and nights.
If I am kind to one, the other gets vexed.
And so I cannot escape from these two furies.
If you want to live well and with a free heart,
And with your hands unclenched, then do not marry.
If you must wed, then marry one wife only:
One alone is enough to satisfy two armies
When Mamoum heard these words he began to laugh, till he nearly tumbled over. Then, as a proof of his kindness, he gave to Bahloul his golden robe, a most beautiful vestment.

Bahloul went in high spirits towards the dwelling of the Grand Vizir. Just then Hamdonna looked from the height of her palace in that direction, and saw him. She said to her negress, ‘By the God of the temple of Mecca! There is Bahloul dressed in a fine gold-worked robe! How can I manage to get possession of the same?’

The negress said, ‘Oh, my mistress, you would not know how to get hold of that robe.’

Hamdonna answered, ‘I have thought of a trick whereby to achieve my ends, and I shall get the robe from him.’ ‘Bahloul is a sly man,’ replied the negress. ‘People think generally that they can make fun of him; but for God, it is he who really makes fun of them. Give up the idea, mistress mine, and take care that you do not fall into the snare which you intend setting for him.’

But Hamdonna said again, ‘It must be done!’ She then sent her negress to Bahloul, to tell him that he should come to her.

He said, ‘By the blessing of God, to him who calls you, you shall make answer,’ and went to Hamdonna.

Hamdonna welcomed him and said: ‘Oh, Bahloul, I believe you come to hear me sing.’ He replied: ‘Most certainly, oh, my mistress! You have a marvellous gift for singing.’

‘I also think that after having listened to my songs, you will be pleased to take some refreshments.’

‘Yes,’ said he.

Then she began to sing admirably, so as to make people who listened die with love.

After Bahloul had heard her sing, refreshments were served; he ate, and he drank Then she said to him: ‘I do not know why, but I fancy you would gladly take off your robe, to make me a present of it.’ And Bahloul answered: ‘Oh, my mistress! I have sworn to give it to her to whom I have done as a man does to a woman.’

‘Do you know what that is, Bahloul?’ said she.

‘Do I know it?’ replied he. ‘I, who am instructing God’s creatures in that science? It is I who make them copulate in love, who initiate them in the delights a female can give, show them how one must caress a woman, and what will excite and satisfy her. Oh, my mistress, who should know the art of coition if it is not I?’

Hamdonna was the daughter of Mamoum, and the wife of the Grand Vizir. She was endowed with the most perfect beauty; of a superb figure and harmonious form. No one in her time surpassed her in grace and perfection. Heroes on seeing her became humble and submissive, and looked down to the ground for fear of temptation, so many charms and perfections had God lavished on her. Those who looked steadily at her were troubled in their mind, and oh! how many heroes imperilled themselves for her sake. For this very reason Bahloul had always avoided meeting her for fear of succumbing to the temptation; and, apprehensive for his peace of mind, had never, until then, been in her presence.

Bahloul began to converse with her. Now he looked at her and anon bent his eyes to the ground, fearful of not being able to command his passion. Hamdonna burnt with desire to have the robe, and he would not give it up without king paid for it.

‘What price do you demand,’ she asked. To which he replied, ‘Coition, O apple of my eye.’

‘You know what that is, O Bahloul?’ said she.

‘By God,’ he cried; ‘no man knows women better than I; they are the occupation of my life. No one has studied all their concerns more than I. I know what they are fond of; for learn, oh, lady mine, that men choose different occupations according to their genius and their bent. The one takes, the other gives; this one sells, the other buys. My only thought is of love and of the possession of beautiful women. I heal those that are lovesick, and carry a solace to their thirsting vaginas.’

Hamdonna was surprised at his words and the sweetness of his language. ‘Could you recite me some verses on this subject?’ she asked.

‘Certainly,’ he answered.

‘Very well, O Bahloul, let me hear what you have to say.’ Bahloul recited as follows:

Men are divided according to their affairs and doings;
Some are always in spirits and joyful, others in tears.
There are those whose life is restless and full of misery,
While, on the contrary, others are steeped in good fortune,
Always in luck’s happy way, and favoured in all things.
I alone am indifferent to all such matters.
What care I for Turkomans, Persians, and Arabs?
My whole ambition is in love and coition with women,
No doubt nor mistake about that!
If my member is without vulva, my state becomes frightful,
My heart then burns with a fire which cannot be quenched.
Look at my member erect! There it is–admire its beauty!
It calms the heat of love and quenches the hottest fires
By its movement in and out between your thighs.
Oh, my hope and my apple, oh, noble and generous lady,
If one time will not suffice to appease thy fire,
I shall do it again, so as to give satisfaction;
No one may reproach thee, for all the world does the same.
But if you choose to deny me, then send me away!
Chase me away from thy presence without any fear or remorse!
Yet bethink thee, and speak and augment not my trouble,
But, in the name of God, forgive me and do not reproach me.
While I am here let thy words be kind and forgiving.
Let them not fall upon me like sword-blades, keen and cuffing!
Let me come to you and do not repel me.
Let me come to you like one that brings drink to the thirsty;
Hasten and let my hungry eyes look at thy bosom.
Do not withhold from me love’s joys, and do not be bashful,
Give yourself up to me–I shall never cause you trouble,
Even were you to fill me with sickness from head to foot.
I shall always remain as I am, and you as you are,
Knowing that I am the servant, and you are the mistress ever.
Then shall our love be veiled? It shall be hidden for all time,
For I keep it a secret and I shall be mute and muzzled.
It is by God’s will that everything happens,
And he has filled me with love; but today my luck is ill.
While Hamdonna was listening she nearly swooned, and set herself to examine the member of Bahloul, which stood erect like a column between his thighs. Now she said to herself: ‘I shall give myself up to him,’ and now, ‘No I will not.’ During this uncertainty she felt a yearning for pleasure deep within her parts privy; and Eblis made flow from her natural parts a moisture, the forerunner of pleasure. She then no longer combated her desire to cohabit with him, and reassured herself by the thought: ‘If this Bahloul, after having had his pleasure with me, should divulge it no one will believe his words.’

She requested him to divest himself of his robe and to come into her room, but Bahloul replied: ‘I shall not undress till I have sated my desire, O apple of my eye.’

Then Hamdonna rose, trembling with excitement for what was to follow; she undid her girdle, and left the room, Bahloul following her and thinking: ‘Am I really awake or is this a dream?’ He walked after her till she had entered her boudoir. Then she threw herself on a couch of silk, which was rounded on the top like a vault, lifted her clothes up over her thighs, trembling all over, and all the beauty which God had given her was in Bahloul’s arms.

Bahloul examined the belly of Hamdonna, round like an elegant cupola’ his eyes dwelt upon a navel which was like a pearl in a golden cup; and descending lower down there was a beautiful piece of nature’s workmanship, and the whiteness and shape of her thighs surprised him.

Then he pressed Hamdonna in a passionate embrace, and soon saw the animation leave her face; she seemed almost unconscious. She had lost her head; and holding Bahloul’s member in her hands, excited and fired him more and more.

Bahloul said to her: ‘Why do I see you so troubled and beside yourself?’ And she answered: ‘Leave me, O son of a debauched woman! By God, I am like a mare in heat, and you continue to excite me still more with your words, and what words! They would set any woman on fire, if she was the purest creature in the world. You will insist in making me succumb by your talk and your verses.’

Bahloul answered: ‘Am I then not like your husband?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, but a woman gets heat on account of the man, as a mare on account of the horse, whether the man be the husband or not; with this difference, however, that the mare gets lusty only at certain periods of the year, and only then receives the stallion, while a woman can always be made rampant by words of love. Both these dispositions have met within me, and, as my husband is absent, make haste, for he will soon be back’

Bahloul replied. ‘Oh, my mistress, my loins hurt me and prevent me mounting upon you. You take the man’s position, and then take my robe and let me depart.’

Then he laid himself down in the position the woman takes in receiving a man; and his verge was standing up like a column.

Hamdonna threw herself upon Bahloul, took his member between her hands and began to look at it. She was astonished at its size, strength and firmness, and cried: ‘Here we have the ruin of all women and the cause of many troubles. O Bahloul! I never saw a more beautiful dart than yours!’ Still she continued keeping hold of it, and rubbed its bead against the lips of her vulva till the latter part seemed to say: ‘O member, come into me.’

Then Bahloul inserted his member into the vagina of the Sultan’s daughter, and she, settling down upon his engine, allowed it to penetrate entirely into her furnace till nothing more could be seen of it, not the slightest trace, and she said: ‘How lascivious has God made woman, and how indefatigable after her pleasures.’ She then gave herself up to an up-and-down dance, moving her bottom like a riddle; to the right and left, and forward and backward; never was there such a dance as this.

The Sultan’s daughter continued her ride upon Bahloul’s member till the moment of enjoyment arrived, and the attraction of the vulva seemed to pump the member as though by suction: just as an infant sucks the teat of the mother. The acme of enjoyment came to both simultaneously, and each took the pleasure with avidity.

Then Hamdonna seized the member in order to withdraw it, and slowly, slowly she made it come out, saying: ‘This is the deed of a vigorous man.’ Then she dried it and her own private parts with a silken kerchief and rose.

Bahloul also got up and prepared to depart, but she said, ‘And the robe?’

He answered, ‘Why, O mistress! You have been riding me, and still want a present?’

‘But,’ said she, ‘did you not tell me that you could not mount me on account of the pains in your loins?’

‘It matters but little,’ said Bahloul. ‘The first time it was your turn, the second will be mine, and the price for it will be the robe, and then I will go.’

Hamdonna thought to herself, ‘As he began he may now go on; afterwards he will go away.’

So she laid herself down, but Bahloul said, ‘I shall not lie with you unless you undress entirely.’

Then she undressed until she was quite naked, and Bahloul fell into an ecstasy on seeing the beauty and perfection of her form. He looked at her magnificent thighs and rebounding navel, at her belly vaulted like an arch, her plump breasts standing out like hyacinths. Her neck was like a gazelle’s, the opening of her mouth like a ring, her lips fresh and red like a gory sabre. Her teeth might have been taken for pearls and her cheeks for roses. Her eyes were black and well slit, and her eyebrows of ebony resembled the rounded flourish of the noun traced by the hand of a skilful writer. Her forehead was like the full moon in the night.

Bahloul began to embrace her, to suck her lips and to kiss her bosom; he drew her fresh saliva and bit her thighs. So he went on till she was ready to swoon, and could scarcely stammer, and her eyes became veiled. Then he kissed her vulva, and she moved neither hand nor foot. He looked lovingly upon the secret parts of Hamdonna, beautiful enough to attract all eyes with their purple centre.

Bahloul cried, ‘Oh, the temptation of man!’ and still he bit her and kissed her till her desire was roused to its full pitch. Her sighs came quicker, and grasping his member with her hand she made it disappear in her vagina

Then it was he who moved hard, and she who responded hotly, the overwhelming pleasure simultaneously calming their fervour.

Then Bahloul got off her, dried his pestle and her mortar, and prepared to retire. But Hamdonna said, ‘Where is the robe? You mock me, O Bahloul.’ He answered, ‘O my mistress, I shall only part with it for a consideration. You have had your dues and I mine. The first time was for you, the second time for me; now the third time shall be for the robe.’

This said. he took it off, folded it, and put it in Hamdonna’s hands, who, having risen, lay down again on the couch and said, ‘Do what you like!’

Forthwith Bahloul threw himself upon her, and with one push completely buried his member in her vagina; then he began to work as with a pestle, and she to move her bottom, until both again did flow over at the same time. Then he rose from her side, left his robe, and went.

The negress said to Hamdonna, ‘O my mistress, is it not as I have told you? Bahloul is a bad man, and you could not get the better of him. They consider him as a subject for mockery, but, before God, he is making fun of them. Why would you not believe me?’

Hamdonna turned to her and said, ‘Do not tire me with your remarks. It came to pass what has to come to pass, and on the opening of each vulva is inscribed the name of the man who is to enter it, right or wrong, for love or for hatred. If Bahloul’s name had not been inscribed on my vulva he would never have got into it, had he offered me the universe with all it contains.’

As they were thus talking there came a knock at the door. The negress asked who was there, and in answer the voice of Bahloul said It is I.’ Hamdonna, in doubt as to what the buffoon wanted to do, got frightened. The negress asked Bahloul what he wanted, and received the reply, ‘Bring me a little water.’ She went out of the house with a cup full of water. Bahloul drank, and then let the cup slip out of his hands, and it was broken. The negress shut the door upon Bahloul, who sat himself down on the threshold.

The buffoon being thus close to the door, the Vizir, Hamdonna’s husband, arrived, who said to him, ‘Why do I see you here, O Bahloul?’ And he answered, ‘O my lord, I was passing through the street when I was overcome by a great thirst. A negress came and brought me a cup of water. The cup slipped from my hands and got broken. Then our lady Hamdonna took my robe, which the Sultan our Master had given me, as indemnification.’

Then said the Vizir, ‘Let him have his robe.’ Hamdonna at this moment came out, and her husband asked her whether it was true that she had taken the robe in payment for the cup. Hamdonna then cried, beating her hands together, ‘What have you done, O Bahloul?’ He answered, ‘I have talked to your husband the language of my folly; talk to him, you, the language of thy wisdom.’ And she, enraptured with the cunning he had displayed, gave him back his robe, and he departed.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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