Posts Tagged With: Islam

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 4 Jo-Jo 0008 (May 19, 2019)

 

“I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted.”
Mae West

 
Happy Birthday to my Daughter Jessica.

 

 

To those that celebrate the end of Ramadan, have an enjoyable Eid al Fitr.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

Argh! This morning after I had written a substantial portion of this post, somehow I managed to erase it all. I spent much of the day trying various Apps and searching the net for help retrieving it. Eventually, I gave up and tried to recreate it from memory — with only partial success. Some things are gone forever from the computer and others just from my memory but gone nonetheless.

It seems that at my age, adventures are more medical than physical, more psychological than hazardous and more fantasy than reality. Nevertheless, they remain as idiosyncratic and as personal as ever. Unfortunately, for me and for anyone who chooses to read or listen to them they become more garrulous and tedious the older I get. Forgive me my trespasses O. Lord for I am rounding the far turn and on my way home.

The early summer heat has settled on the Great Valley. The breezes of springtime have begun to slow and the sun’s warmth lightly caresses the morning. It is a fine day.

Today, I received a message from Hayden insisting I pick him up at the skatepark after school. I was worried. He rarely demands my assistance. So, I drove off into the Golden Hills. I stopped for lunch at an upscale Italian restaurant near Town Center. I had wanted to try it out for some time now. Its interior reeked of suburban elegance. It’s menu limited but expensive. The wine list, however, was extensive but overpriced. I ordered gnocchi in a squash and butter cream sauce along with a glass of prosecco. The meal was tasty but too heavy for my liking.

After lunch, I picked up Hayden along with Jake and Caleb. As he was getting into the car, I asked him what was so urgent. He said, “I want to buy a hat for my trip this summer to Cozumel with Jake and his family. I picked one out at Tilly’s in Folsom.” So, off we drove to Tilly’s in Folsom to buy the hat following which I drove them back to Dick’s house where, after warning them not to get into too much trouble, I drove out of the foothills and back to the Enchanted Forest.

On Saturday morning, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. Winnie, the ex-model was there. She had not attended the Coffee for several months. She told me she is suffering from inoperable brain and lung cancer and is now on immunotherapy. Her prognosis is bleak and she began to cry as she told me this. She said she now spends her days walking her dog through the neighborhood enjoying the trees and flowers. She said that she had hoped to live into her nineties but now she would be fortunate to live until year’s end. After she left, I sat there for a while trying to asses how I felt after talking to her. Sad for her yes but in general puzzled about the lack of depth of my feelings as though a barrier had been thrown up to mask my own fear.

On Mothers’ Day we had Naida’s daughter, Sarah, and husband, Mark, and their son, Charlie over for lunch and had an enjoyable discussion about our respective travel adventures in Europe. We toasted all our moms. There were a lot of flowers also — mostly roses.
IMG_6142IMG_6145

 

In the evening we watched the movie “I Remember Mama” on television. Although it all could be considered a pleasant Mother’s Day, still my mom wasn’t there. I miss her. Mother’s Day seems like just any other day without her around.
IMG_2792.JPG

 

As a counterpoint to the day, that evening I watched Episode 5, Season 8 of The Game of Thrones in which the mother from hell, Cersei Lannister gets buried alive along with Jamie Lannister her lover, father of her children and twin brother (all one person) while Daenerys Storm-born of the house Targaryen, first of her name, the unburnt, queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the first men, queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the great grass sea, protector of the realm, lady regnant of the seven kingdoms, breaker of chains and mother of dragons from the back of her fire breathing dragon, Drogon, goes bat-shit crazy and destroys Kings Landing as well as burning to a crisp thousands of innocent woman and children who lived there. Sleep well tonight Pookie.

I did nothing the next day except sit in my chair, play on my computer and doze. That evening, Naida and I watched the Orson Wells directed movie, Mr. Arkadin. The movie featured Wells fondness for sometimes fascinating and at other times annoying camera angles and idiosyncratic plotting. In fact, when the movie was over, I realized I did not understand it at all, so the next morning I tried to find a synopsis of the plot. The first thing I discovered was that the critics understood what they saw as little as I did. Eventually, I found an adequate summary, but it still left me confused, not about what occurred on the screen but why and who cares. Wells never finished editing the film before the producers forced its release. Some critics have called it one of the greatest movies ever made. Wells considered it a “disaster.” Oh, before I forget, there were a lot of close-ups of Wells’ face all bearded and goggle-eyed.

For the past eight months or so, I have published my various blog posts on Facebook in order to increase the “hits” on my blogs — not because I cared who or if anyone read them but to “beat my yearly hits record,” a game on which I spent not a little of my time. Now I believe Facebook has completely cut off my postings of the blog articles. Perhaps, they think I am a Russian bot.

Last night, Naida described how that morning she marveled at the many odd angles I had contorted my limbs into while I slept. We agreed on a new nick-name for me, Pythagorean Pookie. I like it.

On Tuesday, Maryann and George arrived. Maryann had to attend a training session regarding Federal Economic Development regulations in preparation for an exam she was to take on Monday that would if she passes, authorize her to administer ED grants. George had recently had his hip replaced needed someone to keep him company — just another decrepit old man with a cane like me. After they arrived, we had dinner in a local Mexican restaurant. The next day, Mary trundled off to her conference and George and I headed out for breakfast. Following breakfast, we drove to EDH to pick up HRM from school and drive him home. In mid-afternoon, after finishing her review course, Mary picked up George at our house and drove off to far Mendocino.

The next day, Suzie arrived in Sacramento for a meeting with a State Agency. After her meeting, Naida and I picked her up and drove to a local Japanese sushi restaurant for lunch. It was great to see her again. It has been too long. Naida and Suzie discussed growing up in Carmel. And we all told mostly funny stories about our experiences in coastal protection and politics as well as a few always interesting and often amusing tales featuring Terry and his many imbroglios.

The weekend arrived not as a lion nor for that matter as a welcome respite from the boredom or irritations of the week but unobtrusively sliding in like an introvert slipping into to a raucous party. The weather was meh, neither warm nor cold, nor sunny or stormy. I had no expectations or plans but an abiding curiosity to see what if anything may meander past my window.

On Friday, I picked up HRM and as I dropped him off told him the following: “Let me know if you need transportation this weekend. I say this not because I am eager to be your chauffeur, but because seniors like me approaching decrepitude just like adolescents often find themselves bored and for similar reasons. We need each other.” He seemed to grunt an assent as he exited the car.

Saturday brought the Saturday Morning Coffee. Winnie was there. She seemed better this week. Back at the house, I watched, The Men from Laramie with Jimmie Stewart then took a nap. Followed that with The Manchurian Candidate, and Cabin in the Sky. Then I looked out the window to see if there were any meanderers passing by. It was raining, no meanderers out and about yet.

Waking up Sunday morning in Naida’s arms was delightful. The weather, however, was not. It broke grey and drizzly, The needles on the Deodar Cedars drooping by our window glistened with tiny droplets of water. But for the ashen skies, it might have added a sparkling beauty to the morning. Later, while standing before the mirror, I noticed my neck appeared a bit swollen in the area around my tumor. It felt so too. Naida also examined it and said, “I really feel no difference — but then my opinion may be affected by my not wanting to find any change and yours colored by your fear that there may be.” Perhaps next Saturday I can challenge Winnie to a race to the finish line. In any event, tomorrow is another day, a new week begins, additional adventures loom. As Rosanna Rosannadanna sagely observed, “It’s always something.”

Pookie says, “Be cool and stay well.”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

Several Posts ago, in an effort to entertain myself, I wrote here in my commentary an admittedly somewhat garbled proposal for reforming the structure of the US Senate as it appears in the Constitution in order to make it more amenable to the election of each of its members by an equal number of voters. After, thinking it over and convincing myself that, in addition to the unlikely possibility of it being enacted, it was not all that much an improvement over what we have now.

Recently I came up with an alternative that while still unlikely to be enacted pleased me more. I thought that instead of changing how Senators are elected a change in the nature of their authority would be worth considering.

The reasons for assigning two Senators to each State in the Constitution appear to me have become obsolete over time, but at least one reason still has some validity. That is, there may be issues of State interest and not necessarily individual interest that is not detailed in the Constitution. So I thought the following might be appropriate:

The US Senate as currently elected would remain. It would retain its authority over things that appear to be of interest to the states including:
—Approval of treaties with foreign governments (including Trade agreements).
—Advice and consent of Presidential executive and judicial branch appointments.
—Oversight of the Executive and Judicial branch activities.
—Declaration of war
—Trying impeachments

These authorizations would be exclusive to the Senate.

It would also be provided the opportunity to advise and comment on legislation approved by the House of Representative.

The House of Representatives would have the exclusive right to initiate and approve any legislation and the Federal budget as well as any other constitutional rights it may currently enjoy. It would retain its role to impeach members of the executive and Judicial branches.

In addition, the Senate could be granted an enhanced role in supervising foreign affairs and foreign military activities and intelligence.

Appointments to the Supreme Court would require a majority vote of both houses of Congress except that the Senate will initiate the process and the House would be limited to only and up or down vote of the nominee approved by the Senate.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

While looking unsuccessfully for my deleted version of this T&T, I came across the following. It records my musings while riding the train from Sacramento to San Francisco several years ago.

I took the train from Sacramento to San Francisco. The tracks ran through Susuin Marsh. I recall a time in my life when I would have moved Heaven and Hell to prevent even one acre of a wetland from falling beneath the blade of a bulldozer. Of course, I fully understand and agree with the intellectual, economic and ethical reasons for their preservation. At times when great flocks of birds fly screeching above the vegetation or mucking about in the shallows or at certain times of the year when they are bathed in the colors of spring or autumn, one can almost breathe in the tendrils of poetic inspiration rising from their fetid depths.

On the other hand at times like this, when the skies are overcast and grey, the vegetation a sickly yellow-brown and the waters a dingy black, I can understand a man coming upon them and thinking, “What a waste.” He would, I suspect, be likely to aspire to kill it in order to create something that would profit him more than basking in the glow someone else’s idea of aesthetic pleasure.

I would like to think most women coming upon the same marsh would dream instead about how the marsh itself could benefit them and their families without killing it first.

Being male, today those same marshes look like shit to me. I would not mind seeing them disappear beneath the antiseptic familiarity of a few Starbucks or MacDonald’s or the like. By the time we left the marshes behind and chugged into Richmond, however, I changed my mind and decided that, if I were not the one making the money from the deal, I would prefer leaving the wetlands pretty much as they are.

At night at my sister’s house in Berkeley, I began reading Sheldon’s newest novel “The Terrorist Next Door.” Its main character is a cop who, I suspect, to the disappointment of his Jewish parents, failed to become a doctor, lawyer or famous writer of mystery novels and ended up a Chicago homicide detective. He is teamed up with a black partner in a relationship reminiscent of that between Danny Glover and that famous anti-semite Mel Gibson in the “Lethal Weapon” series of movies.

There are three things I noticed and appreciated about the novel. First, it is an incomparable travelogue about Chicago (one should read the book with a map of the city nearby). Second is what one learns about Michelle Obama, a girl from the neighborhood. Third, Sheldon, in his own good-hearted and upbeat way, puts his finger upon the essential flaw in the American character and gives you a glimpse of how good things can be without it and how truly and horribly destructive it really is.

For those of you familiar with and aficionados of the Siegel cannon, he began his writing career trying to write a novel about a young Jewish attorney wrongfully accused of the murder of one of his partners, a fictional stand-in for a partner of ours at the time whose removal both Sheldon and I agreed probably would immeasurably benefit humanity. Alas, in his writing of the initial drafts, this character was overwhelmed by a fast-talking Irish criminal lawyer and his estranged Chicana attorney wife. This resulted in the beloved character’s prominence being eclipsed. He disappeared entirely by the third novel in the series; even his name is now lost to memory.

My experience is similar to Sheldon’s. I attempted to write a mystery (“Dominium”) here in T&T. The main character, a stand-in for yours truly, managed to come across as a boring jerk. He was ultimately replaced in interest and importance by a musclebound bisexual female deputy sheriff from San Mateo County.

Detective David Gold is made of stronger stuff. I see and hope for Gold’s career to be at least as long and as distinguished as Kaminsky’s Abe Lieberman, also a Chicago detective and also a disappointment to his parents.

I suspect Sheldon always wanted to write a novel with Chicago, the city he grew up in, as a setting.

I have visited Chicago only a few times. Nevertheless, for me given my ethnic heritage, it has always been one of the sacred places; like Umberto’s Clam House in New York’s Little Italy. For over a decade the stain remained on the sidewalk where, having staggered out of the restaurant after being shot, Joey Gallo fell down and bled to death. Every year, I would make an annual pilgrimage there until time and the City’s acid-laced rains erased every vestige of the epic event.

Chicago was the home of the sainted Scarface Al. Alas, I have never visited any of the pilgrimage sites there; such as Murphy’s Garage. I sometimes wonder whatever happened to the relics of my legendary ethnic heroes. Are they in a museum somewhere? Where now, for example, are the artifacts such as Anastasia’s barber chair, Mo Green’s massage table, St. Frank’s used condoms, Deano’s shot glass, and Mario Puzo’s typewriter? And, while I am at it, where have you really gone Joe DiMaggio? And, why did Tony Benedetto, (nee Bennet), a New Yorker who chose to live in LA, decide to leave his heart in SF?

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 
By some estimates, there are more than 50 billion planets in our galaxy alone (there are 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the universe). With all these planets potentially capable of supporting life, Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, famously remarked, “Well, where are they.” Where he questioned, are the inevitable alien civilizations that must exist, given this vast number of planets capable of supporting life. For the past 50 years, scientists have been vigorously looking for evidence of life somewhere else in our galaxy, to no avail.

Many options have been proposed for why these efforts evidence of life or contacts with alien civilization have not succeeded including we are unique (highly improbable); Star Trek’s First Law of Contact, “Do nothing” (perhaps); and, advanced cultures kill themselves off before contact (possible).

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 
As some of you may know, I have a fondness for rummaging through the internet for blogs that feature obsessions with odd and arcane history. Several years ago I saved to my bookmarks a blog entitled Realm of History (https://www.realmofhistory.com/) that featured unusual articles like 10 Facial Reconstructions from History You Should Know About, or Anubis: History and Mythology of the Ancient Egyptian Jackal God. Recently, I returned to peruse the site and discovered a newly published article entitled 8 Of The Oldest Known Songs, You Should Listen To (https://www.realmofhistory.com/2019/04/25/oldest-songs-in-history/). It contains recordings of musicians playing these songs of replicas of the instruments of the time. The songs range from The Oldest Known Song In The World-Hurrian Song to Nikkal (circa 1450 – 1200 BC) through to Earliest Surviving Secular English Song –
Mirie it is while sumer ilast (circa 1225 AD).

Since I cannot reproduce the actual recordings her, I recommend that one go to the site to hear them. I have however included here the background text accompanying the article about an ancient Greek tune entitled Oldest Known Complete Song – Song of Seikilos, from the Seikilos epitaph (circa 1st century AD):

From the historical perspective, many scholars believe that music played an integral role in the lives of ordinary ancient Greeks, given its role in most social occasions — ranging from religious rites, funerals to the theater and public recitation of ballads and epic-poetry. Both archaeological and literary pieces of evidence rather bolster such a theory that points to the crucial nature of music in ancient Greece.

In fact, the Greeks attributed the ‘creativity’ of musical compositions to divine entities, and as such etymologically the very word ‘music’ is derived from ‘Muses‘, the personifications of knowledge and art who were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Interestingly, Mnemosyne herself was the personification of memory and was also one of the Titans, the children of Uranus the Sky and Gaia the Earth.

As for the historical side of affairs, scholars came across the world’s oldest (known) complete song — and this musical piece (in its entirety) was etched on the Seikilos epitaph. Judging by the ancient Greek characters on the inscription, the song is Hellenistic Ionic in origin, and the etching was probably made sometime in the 1st century AD. The vocalized recreation presented above was made by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE). And in case one is interested, the lyrics roughly translated to English, excluding the musical notation, goes like this –

While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.

The discovery of the epitaph was made way back in 1883 by Sir W. M. Ramsay in Tralleis, a small town near Aydin (Turkey). The epitaph, according to some stories, was lost again, to finally reemerge after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, due to its rediscovery in Smyrna in 1923. And interestingly, the region of Aydin has had a long tryst with human civilization in its flowering form, so much so that Aydin in itself translates to ‘lettered, educated, intellectual’. Consequently, the archaeological site in Tralleis boasts many cultural artifacts from human history, including theatrical masks that were symbolically arrayed alongside human burials.

Furthermore, when it came to the ancient Greek musical instruments, the musicians had a penchant for lyres (and kithara), aulos pipes and syrinx, and even the hydraulis — a setup that was the precursor to the modern organ. And with the aid of the flurry of archaeological and literary pieces of evidence of vocal notations and musical ratios, combined with the identification of these instruments, researchers have been able to recreate precise renditions of ancient Greek music.

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
“Humans are simply bipolar apes.”

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 
While rummaging through the internet one day, I found a site produced by my old university, Fordham, intended for use by historian’s and students (https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/india/indiasbook.asp). In the site, I found the following poem, a portion of the Rig Vedas. Along with the poem, an interesting introduction was written by someone identified only as Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Autumn of 1996. Enjoy.

 

Introduction

There is a certain amount of controversy surrounding the exact history of the Veda, the most ancient of Hindu scripture, which was first translated into European languages in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At this time, it was the contention of the expanding scientific, philosophical and religious doctrines of western European culture, that these writings simply could not be more ancient than the classical roots of European civilization. Whereas this hypothesis was strongly held by the expanding western educational regime, in recent times there has been cause to re-examine its claims.

In any event, although further references to this controversy are presented at the conclusion of this document, there is no doubt that these ancient Hindu scriptures are older than 1000BC. The word “Veda” is a Sanskrit word which means “knowledge” or “wisdom”. There are in fact four Vedas: the Rig Veda” or “Veda of Hymns”, the Samah-Veda or the “Veda of Chants”, the Yajur-Veda or the “Veda of sacrifice” and the Atharva-Veda, which is later in date than the earlier three.

Although the Vedas are the earliest of the Hindu scriptures, they are by no means the only body of writings to have originated from the ancient sub-continent of India. The Katha Upanishad is part of a large set of literature known as the Upanishads, and in the presentation of this, you will find some interesting mappings between the science of the east and that of the west.

The reference work which I have used in the presentation of the following selection of verses from the Rig Veda is one from the “Everyman’s Library” and entitled “The Hindu Scriptures”. It is translated and edited by R.C. Zaehner as recently as 1966.

For a more in-depth research concerning the Rig Veda, I would recommend reviewing Hymns to the Mystic Fire, an extensive publication in 1946 by Sri Aurobindo – in particular, the introductory sections in which he outlines the Doctrine of the Mystics.

I wish all research students the optimum of courage and determination concerning the pursuance of their common goals and have pleasure in presenting the following texts from the Rig Veda.

Peace,

 

The Sacrifice of Primal Man

[1] A thousand heads had [primal] Man,
A thousand eyes, a thousand feet:
Encompassing the earth on every side,
He exceeded it by ten fingers’ [breadth].

[2] [That] Man is this whole universe, –
What was and what is yet to be,
The Lord of immortality
Which he outgrows by [eating] food.

[3] This is the measure of his greatness,
But greater yet is [primal] Man:
All beings form a quarter of him,
Three-quarters are the immortal in heaven.

[4] With three-quarters Man rose up on high,
A quarter of him came to be again [down] here:
From this he spread in all directions,
Into all that eats and does not eat.

[5] From him was Viraj born,
From Viraj Man again:
Once born, — behind, before,
He reached beyond the earth.

[6] When with Man as their oblation
The gods performed their sacrifice,
Spring was the melted butter,
Summer the fuel, and the autumn the oblation.

[7] Him they besprinkled on the sacrificial strew, –
[Primeval] Man, born in the beginning:
With him [their victim], gods, Sadhyas, seers
Performed the sacrifice.

[8] From this sacrifice completely offered
The clotted ghee was gathered up:
From this he fashioned beasts and birds,
Creatures of the woods and creatures of the village.

[9] From this sacrifice completely offered
Were born the Rig- and Sama-Vedas;
From this were born the metres,
From this was the Yajur-Veda born.

[10] From this were horses born, all creatures
That have teeth in either jaw;
From this were cattle born,
From this sprang goats and sheep.

[11] When they divided [primal] Man,
Into how many parts did they divide him?
What was his mouth? What his arms?
What are his thighs called? What his feet?

[12] The Brahman was his moth,
The arms were made the Prince,
His thighs the common people,
And from his feet the serf was born.

[13] From his mind the moon was born,
And from his eye the sun,
And from his mouth Indra and the fire,
From his breath the wind was born.

[14] From his navel arose the atmosphere,
From his head the sky evolved,
From his feet the earth, and from his ear
The cardinal points of the compass:
So did they fashion forth these worlds.

[15] Seven were his enclosing sticks
Thrice seven were made his fuel sticks,
When the gods, performing sacrifice,
Bound Man, [their sacrificial] beast.

[16] With the sacrifice the gods
Made sacrifice to sacrifice:
These were the first religious rites (Dharma),
To the firmament these powers went up
Where dwelt the ancient Sadhya gods.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH

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Wilt Chamberlin and Andre the Giant on the set of the movie Conan the Barbarian. Arnold Schwarzenegger stands in the middle. Arnold is a short man but here he looks Tyrion Lannister short. Arnold in real life is not as short as Tyrion, however, as an effective Governor, Arnold was no Tyrion Lannister.

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday — the wet weather departed for a day or two restored the sun to the sky, cleared the air and drove the annual Great Valley spring pollen assault into hiding. The flowering bushes and trees in the backyard are in full bloom.
IMG_6079 - Version 2
Backyard in Full Bloom.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday came around. I do not recall what happened Saturday. Not very much I assume. Perhaps I slept most of the day. Anyway, On Sunday morning we received a call from Sarah, Naida’s daughter. She was suffering from an overabundance of Cala Lilies growing in her backyard and urged us to come over right away and take some. So, after a stop to buy a vase large enough to accommodate the flowers, we arrived at Sarah’s home and proceeded to the backyard where in addition to the Cala lilies, irises, roses and a host of other flowers were in bloom. Sarah’s husband Mark busily pushed a hand-held mechanical plow through the ground in order to begin the planting for this summer’s vegetable garden. Then we all retired to the deck and had an enjoyable lunch.
IMG_6089
The Backyard
IMG_6092
Drinks on the Deck with Sarah and Naida

 

IMG_6094
The Cala Lillies at Home

 

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

 

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

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

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

Who is Leo?

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

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

I would like to draw a sharp distinction between:

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

D. Readings from the Mueller Report:

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

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

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
6a00e551f0800388340240a44e61df200c

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Children

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Joey 0008. (April 3, 2019)

 

“Sometimes charity toward others is the only respite you get from thoughts about death.”
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 188). Simon & Schuster.

 
Happy Spring Festival Season to All: Easter, Songkran, Semana Santa, Holi, Nowruz, Passover, Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, Holla Mohalla, Cimburijada (Festival of Scrambled Eggs), Walpurgis Night, Las Fallas, and Spring Equinox in Teotihuacán.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
On Tuesday morning, Naida, Boo-boo and I left the Enchanted Forest for the Big Endive by the Bay and my meeting with the surgeon. Upon crossing the Bay Bridge, we drove directly to Peter and Barrie’s house where we unloaded and dropped off Boo-boo. We then proceeded to Mission Bay and my appointment. The night before, we had received a call informing us that the appointment time had been changed from 2:15 PM to 2 PM and insisting we be on time. We waited in the waiting area for over an hour before we were admitted into the examining room where we waited another hour before the surgeon showed up. During that second hour, we were first visited by a young woman who introduced herself as a “swallowing technician.” Yes, she did.

Interspersed between the happy talk and questioning me about the state of my swallowing, I was asked to make funny faces such as blowing out my cheeks while sticking out my tongue. I was also asked to make growling noises for some reason. Finally, a balloon was placed in my mouth and I was directed to press it with my tongue against the roof of my mouth three times. The only reason I could come up with for why I was subject to this silly but not particularly unpleasant activity was that I surmised it allowed the hospital to submit additional charges to Medicare. On the other hand, it could have been intended as entertainment in an effort to cheer me up for what was to come later.

The swallowing technician was followed by another young woman who introduced herself as the doctor’s assistant. Strangely, her first question was to ask me why I was there today. I responded, “Because I wanted to know whether I was a dead man walking or not.” She then looked up my records on the computer and informed us that there was a growth on both sides of my throat that had been there since my first CT scan way back in September. “O,” I said, “that’s interesting, no-one ever mentioned that before. Why is that?” She did not know and became confused and said she would have to ask the doctor. She then busied herself with administering a sonogram to me and left.

Eventually, the surgeon arrived and his message sounded far less encouraging than I had hoped. Basically, he said that in his opinion it would be unsafe to operate at this time, and implied that at my age it would always be dangerous because my arteries were brittle from age and the effects of my radiation treatment. After musing about altering my chemotherapy regime, he advised me that I should enjoy myself as much as possible now. I did not take that advice as a positive comment on the state of my health. He then said, “I will see you in three months.” That seemed a bit more positive. At least he seemed to expect I would still be around three months from now.

That evening we had dinner back at Peter and Barrie’s. Barrie had cooked a very nice spaghetti carbonara for us. We were joined by a delightful friend of theirs from across the street who also happens to be my most responsive Facebook friend although I had never met her until that evening. She told us she was the daughter of a wealthy family in Orange County and that she had been kicked out of every college she attended until she ended up at some college in Mexico City before migrating to San Francisco at the height of its reign as the capital of hippiedom. There she was involved with people like Chet Helms and other leaders of the movement during those brief but wonderfully bizarre times.

The following morning we returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
As I age, like many Vecchi, my short term memory seems to be…. well, a vague memory. If I do not write here every day, I often forget what has happened. It is Friday evening. We returned on Wednesday. I recall little of what occurred in between. We walked the dog several times. I visited EDH a few times and drove HRM and Jake to Dick’s house. Susan McCabe called to see how I was doing. That made me happy. So did the Good/Bad David today. He was calling from the doctor’s office. It seems he is having blood-clot problems. That did not make me happy.

Today, I picked up Hayden, Jake, Caleb, and Hamza and drove them all to Dick’s house. I asked them how they were doing in school. Jake said his marks were improving because he was studying more. Hayden said his were also. I asked H why that was. He said that Dick promised he would be allowed to move from his small bedroom to the large family room downstairs if he gets certain grades on his final report.

I left them off at the house. There would be no adult supervision there (H is a latch key kid now) because I was returning directly to the Enchanted Forest. I made them promise they would get into only a little bit of trouble. I worry about him. I know how distressing loneliness can be for an adolescent.

On Saturday, Naida and I exercised at the gym in the Nepenthe club-house. On Sunday, we sat in the studio, Naida editing her memoir in hopes of having it published before the State Fair opens in July while I passed the time writing this and trying to find something interesting enough on the internet to banish the pit of ennui into which I seem have fallen. I am not unhappy, in fact, I am as happy as I have ever been. It is just that I find this much sedentary living unsettling. Usually, whenever I have had this little to do, I take a nap. For some strange reason, I am both napping less and doing less. I will think more about this tomorrow, or the next day and perhaps understand it better.

It is now Tuesday afternoon. Tomorrow I leave for The Big Endive by the Bay and my infusion appointment. As usual, I will stay at Peter and Barrie’s house for two evenings before returning here on Friday.

 

 

C. OFF FOR TWO DAYS IN THE BIG ENDIVE WITH QUESTIONS OF MORTALITY.
So, three weeks have passed since my last Chemotherapy infusion and we are off again to San Francisco for what may be my final Chemo infusion and hopefully to find out more about my prognosis. As usual, we spent the night a Peter and Barrie’s home. My grandson Anthony arrived and joined us for dinner along with a friend of Peter and Barrie. She, suffering from incurable ovarian cancer, has lived for four years so far on immunotherapy alone. She has spent those four years happily traveling around the world. Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda joined us a little later but Amanda was suffering from a bad cold and since I was told by my doctors to avoid such contacts they left after a brief meet and greet.

Barrie prepared a great meal that featured excellent polenta. During the meal we told stories and played “small world.” You know, recalling the famous and near famous we may have run into in our long lives. Sometimes, I feel a bit like Zelig that mysterious character played by Woody Allen in the film of the same name who appears in the background of photographs of significant historical events. If I can be excused for name dropping and I can (this is my Journal after all) let me list the US president’s I have met and known — Reagan, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — and presidential candidates, Fred Harris, Mike Dukakis, and Hillary Clinton. I assume most of us as we age have brushed shoulders with the so-called great and near great and experienced at least a passing contact with significant events. I guess we are all Zeligs to some extent.

The next morning I met with my oncologist, he told us that this was to be my last chemotherapy treatment and that surgery to remove the tumor was off the table because of my age and the fragility of my cartroid artery. This opinion was devastating to me since it was essentially a death sentence. However, he also told us that the chemo has stabilized the tumor and it appears to have been effective in preventing cancer from spreading to other parts of my body. He informed us he was putting me on a two-year immunotherapy regime and advised me to enjoy life to the fullest. He appears quite confident that an early onset of death would be delayed to sometime beyond the two years and perhaps held in check long after that. This cheered me up — but only a bit.

That evening back at Peter and Barrie’s during dinner we had to break up a contretemps between Ramsey and Boo-boo over possession of a well-chewed tennis ball.
IMG_6075
Boo-boo Hiding Out at Peter and Barrie’s House after Misbehaving.

The next morning we returned to Sacramento.

 

 

D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND A BRIEF TRIP INTO THE FOOTHILLS.
After dropping Naida and Boo-boo off at our house in the Enchanted Forest, I drove up to the Golden Hills and Picked up HRM and the gang and drove them to Dick’s house. H and I discussed the possibility of making a trip to Portland, Idaho, and Montana during his spring break. I then returned home and wrote this while watching Ray Milland and Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. We then walked the dog. I feel good.

It is now Sunday. Spring seems to have slipped into the Great Valley and taken hold, bringing with it sunny days, warm weather, flowers of every color and hay fever (It’s always something —Rosanna Rosannadanna.) It being such a beautiful day, I decided to walk the dog along the meandering pathways of the enchanted forest. The new leaves of the ground cover ivy were a bright almost iridescent green in the bright sun.

On Tuesday at about 2PM, I went to bed. Not for a nap, I knew I would not get up until the following morning. The side-effects of the Chemo infusion, depression, and general fatigue had exhausted me. I woke up periodically during that afternoon and evening. During those brief periods, I would read a chapter of Elena Ferrante’s Novel, “My Brilliant Friend,” or check up on Facebook and then return to sleep.

Ferrante’s book is marvelous and its translation extraordinary. The translation often preserves the Italian language’s ability to express itself in long (at times a page or more) complex sentences encompassing vast emotions and multiple events that in English must be broken up into many separate sentences.

At some point during the evening, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to die, sooner rather than later. It is clear that an operation is infeasable and any potential chemical cure has run its course unsuccessfully. I recalled when Bill Yeates’ wife in a similar situation had had enough of the suffering from attempts to prolong her life and chose to take advantage of the new law to end it humanely. I do not believe I will choose that approach. Primarily because I am, in fact, happier than I have ever been in my life. At night, every night, I lie entwined in Naida’s arms ( sometimes so entwined we giggle over our inability to easily identify whose arms and legs belong to whom). There is a peace and happiness I never experienced before. Yes, I always had hoped I would find that, but there was always something else to do, something more to explore. Perhaps happiness needed accomplishment and experience. And, it did — but only for the stories with which to pass the time and perhaps a bit of justification for one’s life. But enough of this. I woke up on Tuesday. It is another day. When I awoke she was in my arms and that is all that matters now.

Damn, I cannot connect to the internet today. I cannot figure out how to fix the problem. Naida’s computer is connected. My smart-phone after a brief problem connected, but my computer remains— stubbornly unresponsive. What to do.What to do. Is interruption of internet service a modern form of Death? I sit in my chair typing this and feeling a strange form of fear. What happens should I not be able to re-connect here, am I doomed to trundling off to Starbucks every day to access the internet and confirm my existence? Is my life so bereft of meaning that I am reduced to depending on the friendship of people on Facebook many of whom I have never met? Is social media simply an updated version of those two-way radios long-distance truck drivers used to use to avoid the boredom and loneliness of their working lives? Have we become the physical and emotional slaves of our machines? Are we needed for anything beyond self-indulgence? Am I so bored that I need to ask these questions even in jest? Is anyone laughing? If I were connected to the internet I could find out.

Ha, one of our medical student borders just came downstairs and said her internet connection was down also. She marched over to the modem that I had fiddled with for a very frustrating hour or so, pressed a button on top and the internet connection popped right up again. I feel like an idiot. Now if she can do the same with my failed medical treatments I would call today a very good day.

This morning, Hayden called to ask me to pick him up after school. It was unusual for him to call like that, so despite not being completely over with the side-effects of the infusion, I drove into the Golden Hills. I met HRM and Caleb at the skatepark. They were planning to go to the Wednesday church youth get together. He said that his mom appears to have relaxed her opposition to him attending. She had wanted him to become a Buddhist and not a Christian. He felt Buddhism was a way of life and not a religion. “Besides,” he said, “it’s boring for teenagers.” She seemed to concede by responding “Whatever makes you happy.” So I dropped them off at Caleb’s home where they would spend the afternoon until it was time to go to the teenage get-together. I left them with my advice that they should be kind to all as much as they can but to be fair to everyone and drove back to the Enchanted Forest where I was met by a happily yapping little dog and a hug from Naida.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Etymological Origins Of Ethnic Slurs
David Tormsen November 27, 2015

Human beings like to divide themselves into different categories, a process that began with family units and tribes and eventually worked its way up to nationalities, races, ethnicities, and vaguely defined civilization groups. Another aspect of humanity is its natural tendency toward creativity. It was perhaps unavoidable that we’d spend so much time and effort coming up with nasty words to call each other.

Here Tomsen discusses the derivation of common several ethnic slurs including the following:

‘Wop’
This term, used chiefly in the United States to refer to people of Italian descent, has a number of false etymologies being bandied about on the Internet claiming that it derives from “Without Papers” or “Without Passport.” Supposedly, immigration officials at Ellis Island used stamps, chalk, or placards to designate those arrivals lacking sufficient documents as “WOP.” However, the association with immigration documents makes little sense, as the term has been recorded since 1908, while immigration papers weren’t required until 1918.

“Wop” actually derived from the Sicilian and Neapolitan slang term guappo, which means “thug” or “gangster.” Guappo may have come from the Spanish adjective guapo (“bold”) during the period of Spanish rule over Southern Italy. The Spanish term was itself derived from the Latin vappa, meaning “sour wine,” which the Romans used to describe a worthless person or loser. Southern Italian immigrants to the US used guappo among themselves, and it only acquired an offensive meaning when it was picked up by other Americans and mutated into “wop.”

By the 1890s, it was being applied to Italians in general as well as restaurants (“wop-house”), spaghetti (“wop-special”), and Italy (“Wopland”). It may have been popularized throughout the English-speaking world by early talkie films and was in wide use in English-language newspapers during World War II.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Procopius on Top:
Periodically, I like to peruse a site called, “The Fold of the Bards,” (http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/index.html) a blog dedicated primarily to translations of ancient Celtic poetry. It sometimes also contains bits of prose commentary on historical events often written by those who actually lived during the time the events occurred or shortly thereafter. The following, by Procopius, contains a brief history of the departure of the Romans from Britain in the Fifth Century written about one hundred years after the events described. It is interesting, and fascinating to me at least, in that it departs from the often laconic and unsatisfying descriptions found in most history books — namely one form or another of the statement, “The Romans left Britain in 410AD after 400 years of occupation.” It leaves so many questions, “Do you mean a few bureaucrats packed up their documents and left.” Why did the population decline so radically immediately after departure? Did they just get up and leave? Why? Was there a sudden and vast die off? From what? Did they just suddenly choose to migrate? Why,  they were not under serious military attack? And so on.

Here Procopius informs us that in the vast turmoil of the 5th century of the Roman Empire during the reign of the last Emperor of the West, Honorius, the armed bands, tribes and the like saw an opportunity for profit by taking over (plundering?) a resource-rich and valuable section of the Empire. After all, the Roman Empire had been organized and always was a profit-making enterprise for the benefit first of the Romans themselves and then of those they chose to make citizens. They acted like corporations do today. They did not know or suspect the Empire was ending. They were not prescient. Like today’s corporations, they saw short term profit and did not recognize, appreciate or care whether or not a great historical era was ending.

It seems reasonable that the “corporate” leaders of 5th Century Britain saw the apparently far more valuable lands of Brittany and Galicia free for the taking and assembled their bands and their people and set off from dismal fog-shrouded Britain to conquer them. Sort of like a modern company moving their head office, administration and production to someplace that would increase short-term returns to their management and investors.

On Britain
From Procopius’ De Bellis
c. 540ts CE

[Years 408-450] And the island of Britain revolted from the Romans, and the soldiers there chose as their king Constantinus, a man of no mean station. And he straightway gathered a fleet of ships and a formidable army and invaded both Spain and Gaul with a great force, thinking to enslave these countries. But Honorius was holding ships in readiness and waiting to see what would happen in Libya, in order that, if those sent by Attalus were repulsed, he might himself sail for Libya and keep some portion of his own kingdom, while if matters there should go against him, he might reach Theodosius and remain with him. For Arcadius had already died long before, and his son Theodosius, still a very young child, held the power of the East. But while Honorius was thus anxiously awaiting the outcome of these events and tossed amid the billows of uncertain fortune, it so chanced that some wonderful pieces of good fortune befell him. For God is accustomed to succour those who are neither clever nor able to devise anything of themselves, and to lend them assistance, if they be not wicked, when they are in the last extremity of despair ; such a thing, indeed, befell this emperor. For it was suddenly reported from Libya that the commanders of Attalus had been destroyed, and that a host of ships was at hand from Byzantium with a very great number of soldiers who had come to assist him, though he had not expected them, and that Alaric, having quarreled with Attalus, had stripped him of the emperor’s garb and was now keeping him under guard in the position of a private citizen. And afterwards Alaric died of disease, and the army of the Visigoths under the leadership of Adaulphus proceeded into Gaul, and Constantinus, defeated in [411 a.d. ] battle, died with his sons. However the Romans never succeeded in recovering Britain, but it remained from that time on under tyrants. And the Goths, after making the crossing of the Ister, at first occupied Pannonia, but afterwards, since the emperor gave them the right, they inhabited the country of Thrace. And after spending no great time there they conquered the West. But this will be told in the narrative concerning the Goths.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
The Media, whether left-leaning or right, generally dispenses its information about political proposals not by exposing the public to the specifics of the proposals themselves but by limiting its discussion to the feasibility of those proposals being accepted by the political decision makers. Media insiders call this “Tactical Framing.” The reason for this, I guess, is because the conflict over a political issue they believe is more “newsworthy” than the actual proposals themselves. This is wrong.

 

C. Today’s Poem:
As I mentioned, I periodically like to visit the Blog “The Fold of the Bards,” (http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/index.html) containing mostly the poetry, original and in translation, of the Celtic bards of antiquity. Posting of much of the poetry, epic in form, is far too long to include in T&T so I often look for shorter pieces or excerpts like the one I include below.

The poems themselves were not originally written down. In order to become a bard one had to spend as much as eighteen years memorizing the poems of the past. Most of the poems concerned battles or the doings of the various gods or other supernatural creatures of Celtic mythology. Often when the heroes of one tribe met the heroes of another in battle, the bards of the respective warrior bands would retire to a nearby valley and conduct a bardic competition. The victor’s poem in that competition often would become the record of the battle in the bardic canon no matter the actual outcome of the battle.

One epic poem I read concerned a powerful tribe in northern England who had achieved dominance over a large area of what is now Northumbria. The battle was fought and the tribe was wiped out to a man. The only record we have of the tribes and that battle is a long poem listing every warrior on that losing side, what each was known for and how they died in battle (heroically of course). As for the winners, virtually nothing appears in the bardic canon. They disappeared from history as though they did not ever exist.

Gofara Braint
The Flooding of the Braint River

LlGC 9094 (i, ii) [Robert Vaughan’s Notebook]
Peniarth 120 (iii) [Edward Lhuyd’s copy of Vaughan’s Notebook]

Handid haus genyf gerdet yn ddigynvyl
o adaw kymbry wrth ynghussyl
Can dodyw pen Edwin lys Aberffraw
a dyfod Cymru yn un andaw
Neus duc Gwynedd gorvoled i Vrython
Translation:

The Flooding of the Braint River

Ease the flood without strife
From Wales to forsake my council (?)
The head of Edwin came to the court at Aberffraw
And the Welsh came in an assembly
The lord of Gwynedd brought joy to the Britons
NOTES: This five-line fragment of what we assume was a longer poem is found in only two manuscripts, the second a copy of the first. Robert Vaughan records it, but it’s believed to be much older, at least before the 14th century, based on its orthography, and perhaps not much longer after the life of Cadwallon ap Cadfan, about whom this poem is apparently about. Cadwallon defeated King Edwin of England, who was beheaded; Bede says the head was taken to York, but this poem claims it was taken to the royal court of Aberffraw on the Isle of Anglesey.

The title is difficult to understand on its own; it’s believed that gofara should be amended to gorlifa, “flooding”, and thus evokes the image of the Braint River on Anglesey, overflowing its banks after the death of Cadwallon.

The image of the river overflowing in grief–essentially the land weeping for its fallen lord–may have its origins in the old Celtic concept of the king marrying the goddess of sovereignty. The name of the river–Braint–is derived from Brigantia, the tutelary goddess of the Brigantes, the powerful tribe of North Britain. The name Brigantia, it is argued by scholars like D.A. Binchy, gave rise to the Welsh word for king, brenin, i.e. brenin < breenhin < *brigantīnos, “consort of the goddess Brigantia”. It certainly was the origin of the word braint, meaning “privilege”, for instance privileges concerning land grants (i.e., the Braint Teilo).

This possibly points to either a general wider worship of Brigantia, or to the settlement of Gwynedd by the legendary Cunedda from the part of North Britain where Brigantia was worshipped; however, this presupposes Cunedda to have still been pagan in the fifth century, which while possible is unlikely. It’s also possible that the river was named by the Irish who settled North Wales, including Anglesey, in the fifth century; indeed the Llŷn Peninsula that stretches southeast from the area bordering Anglesey is named for the Laigin, i.e., the Leinstermen, who were likely descended of the Brigantes in Ireland (their territories overlap), and whose patron saint was, not coincidently, St. Brigit.

SOURCES: Gruffydd, R. Geraint. “Canu Cadwallon ap Cadfan”. Astudiaethau ar yr Hengerdd: Studies in Old Welsh Poetry. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 1978.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“…Had I so interfered on behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or on behalf of any of their friends… it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”
John Brown the abolitionist at his trial for the attack on Harpers Ferry in 1859.

(It seems like nothing ever changes for the one-percenters.)

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

MW-HE178_IL_Wel_20190219164706_NSTA

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    14 Mopey 0008. (January 30, 2019)

 

“The index of punditry in a society is inversely proportional to its intellectual solvency”

Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 426). Harper.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
These are gloomy days. Moody skies cover the Enchanted Forest as the winter storms pass over the Great Valley. Threatening they may look, but they leave behind only a ceaseless cold drizzle and little silver droplets on the branches of the trees — the only bright spot in the muted and silent landscape. I assume the storms reserve their wrath for the mountains depositing layers of new snow to the delight of skiers and those who fret about reservoir levels.

My mood is bleak also. There are three daggers aimed at me now. My cancer of course, but also an enhanced threat of infection and a shut down of my ability to pee threatening irreparable damage to my kidneys.

Naida had a bad cold. We walk around the house with masks on, wash our hands constantly and I try to avoid touching places she has touched as though…well, as though a dread disease lurks there — which of course it does. As Rosanna Rosannadanna says, “It’s always something.” And, at my age, that is probably truer than ever.

My daughter Jessica is in San Francisco, thanks in part to the government shutdown and to attend a funeral she is hesitant to talk about. I am very excited to see her. It has been a long time, perhaps two years, maybe more.

(Note: As I type this, I am also watching a movie about Giant carnivorous rabbits attacking a town in the western US. This has got to be the nadir of my existence.)

During the past few days, a lot of the usual annoyances of life sped by — towing my car and the rush to get it out of the pound, confusing discussions with pharmacists and medical professionals, and so on. Naida remains sick, Trump remains not my president, life continues as it usually does until it doesn’t, and I find myself unusually bored. But, tomorrow is another day (Scarlett O’Hara).

On Sunday, my daughter Jessica arrived. She drove up from San Francisco to see me. Seeing her after almost three years made me very happy. It has been too long. She looks well. She’s recovering from a series of concussions she experienced playing soccer over the years. The concussion injury to her brain caused several perception and other problems. We talked about our various maladies and other things. He Who is Not My President’s governmental shutdown has had one good result, my daughter, furloughed by the shutdown, was able to return to California and visit with me.

It is now Tuesday night. What I wanted to write here since that time has passed on from when I thought it important or at least depressed enough to think so. It appears another of my medicines had caused an allergic reaction that resulted in me wanting to simply give up. It has passed.

I don’t often give up. Not giving up has always been important to me. In the almost incessant fights I found myself in during my youth, I would not give up no matter how badly I was beaten. And, I was beaten most of the time.

During my years as a trial lawyer, I asked only to be assigned cases no one in the office would touch because they believed those cases were losers. I still managed to amass the third longest string of consecutive victories at the beginning of a career in the history of New York (while also losing my marriage because of my obsession).

I refused to be daunted by opposition from the medical profession and my own colleagues in setting up NY’s Mental Health Information Service that reformed NY’s mental health hospital system from the horror it inflicted on my mom and innumerable others. It became the model for the nation. That agency still exists today.

There was no option for me other than the approval of California’s Coastal Program as it was expected to be, and the successful establishment and financing of the innovative California Coastal Conservancy no matter the cost to me (another marriage) and to those that worked for me. That occupied 13 years of my life.

The same can be said for the law firm on whose management committee I served and obsessively fought against often unanimous opposition to alter the economic and social mores of the firm for the benefit of the workers, women attorney’s and the firm as a whole by, among other things, demonstrating that the health and profitability of the firm did not depend solely upon the efforts of those with the largest books of business who inevitably end up plundering the firm for their own benefit. The health of a firm depended as much upon the lowliest of paralegals and junior partners and that balanced practice groups are necessary in order to weather the effects of the various business cycles and that those groups adversely affected by a business cycle should not be punished by those groups benefiting from the cycle (e.g., bankruptcy and real estate often operate on opposing cycles).

As a member and later Chairman of California’s High Speed Rail Commission during a period when it appeared to be foundering, I put it back on track so to speak, by pushing through its EIR, changing its tendency for locating its stations at the edges of the cities to bringing them downtown where they would revitalize the communities, developing the concept of the HS network as a backbone transportation system for California whereby multiple regional transportation systems could connect to the downtown stations and service the entire region; and finally fighting against the rapacious efforts of the four of five large engineering firms who sought to control the process for their own benefit and who, I believe, can be blamed for much of the criticism HSR has been subject to since I was removed by Governor Schwarzenegger over the issue.

On the other hand, when I lost (most often a marriage), I usually ran away and started again and again somewhere else. From New York to Pennsylvania, to Rome Italy, to back to the US, to San Francisco, to Thailand, to The Golden Hills and now to the Enchanted Forest. In each place, often penniless, I licked my wounds, struggled with despair, indulged in excess and dreamed of renewal, a new life somehow somewhere, and ultimately I moved on. There was, however, even during these times always something I could not give up on, first Jason, then Jessica and now HRM. I may not always have been successful in their view, but I tried and they kept me more alive and happy than I am sure they believe I have benefitted them. But no more now, they are grown (perhaps not HRM) and despair now is reserved for those times when the pains and discomfort of my various maladies become too much and instead of not giving up, I sometimes long for the peace of oblivion.

Talk about depressing things, the HAC just towed our automobile again. I left them a nasty message and threatened to sue them.

 

 

B. UPDATE ON THE MYSTERIOUS ORB.

 
For those interested in the odd adventures of the Mysterious Orb, it has moved slightly from when it emerged from the bush behind which it had been hiding to show Nikki the way to our house. It has now rolled on a short way and appears to be intending to hide behind another bush to await for whatever the orb waits for next.

IMG_6025
The Mysterious Orb —Photograph Taken From Our Garage.

 

It moved from its hiding place behind the smaller bush on the right where it had hidden for a few weeks to the center of the space where Nikki saw it. The Orb has since then moved on toward the bush on the left. Whether it will choose to hide behind that bush or proceed on up the alleyway, I can only guess. I await the next episode in the adventures of the Odd and Mysterious Orb.

Today about four days after the above was written, the Orb made its decision and is now well hidden behind the bush on the left.

A few days later, during an early morning walk, I passed by the alley where the Odd Orb was hiding. I noticed one of the Turkey Gangs pecking around that part of the alley near where the Orb was hiding. It got me thinking. Do you suppose it is the Turkey Gangs that are moving the Orb around? The birds are big enough to do so. If so, why? Another mystery.

 

 
C. OFF TO THE BIG ENDIVE ON THE BAY.

 
First, we bailed the car out of impoundment. I grumbled and plotted revenge on those I believed targeted me specifically. On the drive home in response to my complaints, Naida said, “I guess we know now that there is a wicked witch in the Enchanted Forest.”

Then we spent some time on our computers doing last minute things. Finally, we and the dog set off to the Big Endive on the Bay. We arrived at Peter’s house in late afternoon. My daughter arrived soon after. We had a pleasant evening reminiscing. Jessica planned to leave on Friday to go back to Washington DC. I will be sad to see her go I do not know when I will see her again.

The next day I met with my doctor and received the first glimmer of good news in at least the past three months. He said that cancer had shrunk enough to bring the possibility of an operation to remove it before the board of surgeons. They then efficiently scheduled all tests and my infusion to occur the remainder of the day.

That night we had dinner at a local Italian Restaurant that I used to enjoy when I lived in that neighborhood years ago. It used to cost about $10 for the same meal I enjoyed that night. Now, that same meal cost me $70. Nothing had changed but the wealth of those that now live in the neighborhood.

Later, Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda arrived at Peter’s house for a visit.

IMG_4153

D. BACK TO THE ENCHANTED FOREST.

 

We returned to the Enchanted Forest on Friday. On Saturday I drove into the Golden Hills to drive the Scooter Gang around. While we were driving HRM turned to me with a big smile on his face and said, “Pookie, I have a girlfriend.” How does one respond to that? I settled on, “Good for you” and high-fived him. Now I worry.

Among the books I have read so far this month was James Lee Burke’s most recent Robicheaux and Purcell saga. The boys are getting old — and they know it. They still, however, act like adolescents while Burke places in their minds the sorrows and sadness of aging heroes approaching their end. Although, the novel takes place by Bayou Teche in Louisiana and Monument Valley Arizona, the epilogue has Dave, Clete and Dave’s adopted daughter Alifair recovering from their efforts and injuries in a motel in Bodega Bay California and traveling up and down Highway One for entertainment.

Alas, I just got word that Lucia’s bar in Sacile, a place I always considered the happiest place on earth, is no more. It has succumbed to the downsizing of the nearby American military base and the Italian economy’s multi-year depression. Lucia is now working as a barista in one of the other cafes in the town. This is all so sad.

I am losing my hair as a result of the chemo. Great gobs of hair flitter down from my head often falling into my food as I eat, making it even more unappetizing than usual. It all amuses me. If it continues I will become the first person in my direct ancestry to go bald in at least five generations. My head looks like it is covered with down.

IMG_6026

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
Let’s face it, the United States and the West, in general, lost the Fourth World War or what can be called the First Cyber War.

The Third World War between the Russian-Soviet Empire and the American Empire ended in 1989 with a victory by the American Empire and the destruction of the Soviet Empire. The war was conducted through proxy wars (Korea and Viet Nam for America and Afghanistan for the Soviet Union) and competition between the empires to amass more and more expensive and technically advanced armaments that would be rarely ever used except for a small percentage in the proxy wars. In effect, the war was an economic competition to see who could produce the most weapons of war without suffering an economic collapse.

Instead of attempting to engage the American Empire in another war of military hardware show and tell, Vladimir Putin the Russian President and chief Oligarch decided to do what he knows best to undermine the American power and resorted to cyber warfare in an effort to split the western hegemony apart.

After forays into destabilizing the European democracies by overt and subversive support for the nationalistic opposition to the more internationalist leaning parties currently leading them, he then found his metier by affecting the successful Brexit vote to split England from the European Union.

He found gold however in launching a cyber attack of the US 2016 Presidential election campaign in support of either a willing idiot or a suborned asset. His candidate won and proceeded to alter 100 years of American policy in favor of the international goals of the Russian Oligarchs.

Since then, America’s role on the international stage has shrunk considerably as we have abandoned our traditional allies and Fascist regimes steadily gobble up the world’s democracies.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

June 2011, My First Visit to Sacile and Tamai in the Veneto Region of Italy.

 
About four hours later we arrived at Nikki’s condominium in Busto a small working-class town located just outside of Milan adjacent to Malpensa Airport. We unpacked, cooked dinner and went to sleep. The following morning I was awakened by a lot of shouting and banging of things being moved about. I left my room to find SWAC in the midst of packing and shouting. It seems that her period commenced (Her statement not mine) the previous night and that according to her, it was an absolute necessity we immediately depart the messy and cramped condominium for the supposedly spacious and elegant farm of her friends located almost completely across the top of the country from Milan, somewhere near Venice.

She insisted that I accompany them, stay the night and return to Milan the next morning, leaving Hayden and her to spend two or three weeks there. I demurred, explaining that I had had enough traveling for a while. Following somewhat emotional discussions and a series of telephone calls to the so-called friends, it was agreed that I would accompany them to the Veneto and remain with Hayden lodged at the farm while she returned to Milan with Nikki and departed for Thailand to return in about two weeks.

So, four or so hours later we drove into Sacile (pronounced Sah Chili) a town about 40 kilometers north of Venice. It is also known as “Il Giardino del Serenissima,” or something like that. It translates as “The Garden of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.”

Before reaching the center of town we stopped on a side street at a coffee shop/bar operated by a friend of SWAC and Nikki, a tall slender middle-aged woman named Lucia. Outside the bar were a few tables, one of which was occupied by several locals playing the traditional Italian card games of Scopa and Bresaola. They and the other patrons were generally drinking Prosecco, not the sweet bubbly crap one gets in the US but the refreshing local, hot weather afternoon, kick back and enjoy life drink. It was very good. We had two glasses and spent about an hour in pleasant conversation with Lucia, her strange boyfriend and some of the customers.

We then walked to the main plaza of the town that has a river running through it. Apparently, during the heyday of La Serenissima, barges from Venice would travel up the river to the small falls that made further travel difficult. The barges, carrying, I guess, things like Murano glass souvenirs, porcelain Carnivale mask and things like that would be offloaded and replaced by agricultural goods from the area and other things like cuckoo clocks carried over the alpine passes from Switzerland and Austria. The town sprung up to service this barge traffic, I assume to provide food, drink, and entertainment to the lonely bargemen as they awaited their consignments.

The town is a picture postcard of what someone would imagine a Venetian town should look like. At first blush, it appears that the ancient town has reemerged from history. A closer look reveals something a bit more like one would find at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a use of post-modern architectural design flowing seamlessly into the few remaining vintage structures.

Post-modernism despite the acres of intellectual drivel generally written by those hoping to make some money off of it, is merely a form of colorful mostly straight edged Moderne (with pitched rather than flat roofs) as it existed before Walter Gropius sex crazed with Anna Mahler tarted it up into Bauhaus (Or had Gropius become a sexual deviant before the advent of Moderne, I never could remember which). Essentially it consists of a series of rectangular planar facades painted or otherwise colored in earthy reds, yellows and beiges adorned with simple architectural elements, like plain arches ( now and then festooned with architectural artifacts). It was concocted by Venturi and Graves hungry for commissions out of their impression of the reconstruction of traditional domestic and small commercial structures in post-war Italy as the local people filled in the bombed-out spaces between the surviving historical structures with simplified copies of traditional design and painted them with a brighter version of the standard stucco. It spread back to Europe and It works here in Italy since that was always the local vernacular architecture anyway.

In NY, Johnson, tired of living in glass houses and unable to diddle Anna himself, nevertheless attempted to capitalize on the post-modern craze by creating the worlds largest and perhaps ugliest misrepresentation of a piece of obsolete junk furniture as a New York skyscraper. San Francisco, ever ready to slavishly follow East Coast fashions adopted postmodernism as the design element of its planning code thereby converting something generally simple into the gross monstrosity of pink-tinged architecture that graces the City today.

Ah well, I liked Sacile a lot, even if it seemed a little bit like an urban version of Danville.

As we walked about, I noticed that this was a town populated by people with prominent noses, from fleshy cyranoesque proboscis to hawk-like aquiline appendages cleaving the air as they walked along like axe heads cleaving a log. These notable features adorned generally slender well dressed men and equally fashionable and sensuous women. Unlike the drab dark colors, I found ubiquitous in the US, here both the men and women were more colorfully attired. Although there was the usual excess of pre-stressed jeans and off the shoulder tank tops, there was nary a velour exercise outfit to be seen,

After wandering around the city for about an hour our hosts arrived and we followed their automobile to their farm on the outskirts of a village with the pleasantly sounding name of Tamai.
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-IMG_4761
A View of Sacile

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

 
Raven (Dotson ‘sa or Dotson’sa in the Koyukon/ Denaakk’e language): Raven is the creator god of the Koyukon and other Alaskan Athabaskan tribes. He is a revered and benevolent transformer figure who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Koyukon stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble. http://www.native-languages.org/&#8230;

 

 

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Melinda Cooper on Top:

 

That conservative parties’ policies redistribute wealth and power upward while distracting their mass base by focusing them on internal or external enemies has long been the point of Toryism—since before the Gordon Riots, in fact. And now Tucker Carlson is surprised that there is gambling going on, and is just asking questions? Does he want us to take him seriously?: Eric Levitz: Why Tucker Carlson Plays a Critic of Capitalism On TV: “Melinda Cooper… explains:

Writing at the end of the 1970s, the Chicago school neoliberal Gary Becker remarked that the “family in the Western world has been radically altered—some claim almost destroyed—by events of the last three decades.” … Becker believed that such dramatic changes in the structure of the family had more to do with the expansion of the welfare state in the post-war era than with feminism per se… a consequence rather than an instigator of these dynamics…. Becker’s abiding concern with the destructive effects of public spending on the family represents a key element of his microeconomics… that is consistently overlooked…

…Thus the bedrock logic of the alliance between social conservatives and reactionary capitalists was this: One valued “small government” because it (supposedly) enabled the patriarchal family (and/or racial hierarchy), while the other valued the family because it enabled “small government.” Social conservatives have paid a price for hopping into bed with the worshippers of mammon. But social conservatives were always the junior partners in the GOP coalition. And when the dual objectives of rolling back the New Deal bargain—and reviving cultural traditionalism—came into conflict, the former took priority. As a result, the logic of social conservatives’ alliance with capital has fallen apart… Thanks to a combination of global supply chains, corporate consolidation, and network effects, capital has been fleeing rural counties and concentrating in big cities—taking many conservatives’ kids along with it… Capital has paired its literal abandonment of culturally conservative areas (and concomitant undermining of family formation in such places) with more superficial slights. As upper-middle-class millennials have become an immensely valuable consumer block, corporate brands have begun advertising their “wokeness.” Television commercials now regularly sing the praises of social liberalism, feminism, and ethnic diversity…
#noted #orangehairedbaboons

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
He Who is Not My President places us squarely in that age-old bind. Is our leader an ideologue or an idiot?

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

Warm Summer Sun
BY MARK TWAIN

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night

Twain and Jonathan Swift were born on the same day. The following bit of doggerel was written to commemorate that fact.

Born today were Mark Twain and Jon Swift.
For skewering sarcasm, each had a gift.
Which of them was more profane?
You make the call. Was it Swift or Mark Twain?
http://www.chicagonow.com/&#8230;

 

 

 

D. Giants of History: Another Snag from Brad DeLong.

 
Brad DeLong (https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/01/eg-ben-alpers-_a-far-right-anti-semitic-conspiracy-theory-becomes-a-mainstream-irritable-gesturehttpss-usihorg2.html#comment-6a00e551f080038834022ad3866887200c) directly takes on the attempts to rehabilitate the anti-Semitic canard of “Cultural Marxism” by some contemporary. conservative pundits

Where did David Brooks learn to use the term “cultural Marxism”? From Alexander Zubatov and his attempt to rehabilitate it from its anti-Semitic not just connotation but denotation. How does Zubatov do this? By taking Russell Blackford out of context: Zubatov claims that Blackford’s bottom line is “in other words, [cultural Marxism] has perfectly respectable uses outside the dark, dank silos of the far right”. Blackford’s actual bottom line is that the modern

The conception of cultural Marxism is too blunt an intellectual instrument to be useful for analyzing current trends. At its worst, it mixes wild conspiracy theorizing with self-righteous moralism… Right-wing culture warriors will go on employing the expression ‘cultural Marxism’… attaching it to dubious, sometimes paranoid, theories of cultural history… Outside of historical scholarship, and discussions of the history and current state of Western Marxism, we need to be careful…. Those of us who do not accept the narrative of a grand, semi-conspiratorial movement aimed at producing moral degeneracy should probably avoid using the term ‘cultural Marxism’…

Why does Zubatov misuse Blackford? In the hope that he will pick up readers like Brooks, who will take his representations of what Blackford says to be accurate. Why does Brooks take Zubatov’s representations of what Blackford says as accurate? Because Brooks is too lazy to do his homework: Ben Alpers: A Far-Right Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory Becomes a Mainstream Irritable Gesture: “At the heart of this largely rote piece of Brooksian pablum is a claim that deserves a closer look. ‘The younger militants’, writes Brooks, ‘tend to have been influenced by the cultural Marxism that is now the lingua franca in the elite academy’. This is interesting both for what Brooks appears to be trying to say and, more immediately, how he has decided to say it… Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik… murdered sixty-nine people… William Lind… associated with both the Free Congress Foundation and Lyndon LaRouche… Lind’s conception of Cultural Marxism was explicitly anti-Semitic…. Over the course of these years, the idea of Cultural Marxism spread across the American far right… [with] a big boost from Andrew Breitbart…. Why would a columnist like David Brooks, who is himself Jewish in background (if, perhaps, no longer in faith) and who has tried to build his brand identity by peddling in respectability and civility, adopt the term?…

…Brooks… defended his use… Alexander Zubatov entitled “Just Because Anti-Semites Talk About ‘Cultural Marxism’ Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Real”… For Zubatov, it wasn’t so much the Frankfurt School, but rather György Lukács, Louis Althusser, Herbert Marcuse, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Stuart Hall, and, above all, Antonio Gramsci who are at fault… Zubatov… maintains that Cultural Marxism is “a coherent program” and accuses it of many of the same things that Lind does:

It is a short step from the Marxist and cultural Marxist premise that ideas are, at their core, expressions of power to rampant, divisive identity politics and the routine judging of people and their cultural contributions based on their race, gender, sexuality and religion… Public shaming, forced resignations and all manner of institutional and corporate policy dictated by enraged Twitter mobs, the sexual McCarthyism of #MeToo’s excesses, and the incessant, resounding, comically misdirected and increasingly hollow cries of “racist,” “sexist,” “misogynist,” “homophobe,” “Islamophobe,” “transphobe” and more that have yet to be invented to demonize all those with whom the brittle hordes partaking in such calumnies happen to disagree.

Zubatov prominently cites the English philosopher Russell Blackford… But in the very piece Zubatov cites, Blackford concludes that the phrase is so marked by its connection to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that it is, in practice, largely unusable:

In everyday contexts, those of us who do not accept the narrative of a grand, semi-conspiratorial movement aimed at producing moral degeneracy should probably avoid using the term “cultural Marxism.”… Like other controversial expressions with complex histories (“political correctness” is another that comes to mind), “cultural Marxism” is a term that needs careful unpacking.

Of course, Zubatov, much less Brooks, is not very interested in carefully unpacking anything. Zubatov and Brooks are attached to a pejorative which they’d prefer to be uncoupled from the anti-Semitism to which it has been usually attached…. “Cultural Marxism” is a toxic expression that entered our national discourse as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. It ought to be avoided on that basis alone, especially given the more general mainstreaming of anti-Semitism…

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Krugman also points out how justifications for austerity were invented on the fly, and maintained in the face of contrary evidence. In the US, this perhaps presaged a more general collapse of respect for evidence and expertise on the political right. This collapse raises questions as to whether the role of ideas in politics is undergoing a fundamental shift in the US (and perhaps UK), in which the whole idea of expertise becomes an issue of partisan contention.”
Henry Farrell and John Quiggin. Department of Political SciePaulnce and Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and School of Economics, University of Queensland

http://www.dhnexon.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ISQ-Keynesianism-and-Great-Recession-Symposium-1.pdf

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joseph 0007. (December 31, 2018)

 

“However many sorrows you drag along with you, you’ll only have walked a few steps before bumping into someone who will remind you that there’s always another person with a far worse set of cards than yours in the game of life.”
Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 193). Harper.

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

(In 1919, one hundred years ago:

WWI officially ended in June 1919.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity is tested/confirmed by Arthur Eddington’s observation of a total solar eclipse in Principe and by Andrew Crommelin in Sobral, Ceará, Brazil.
Women’s rights: The United States Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would guarantee suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.
Prohibition begins: The United States Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto.
The American-born Lady Astor is elected to the British House of Commons, becoming on December 1 the first female MP to take a seat.
Female suffrage in Germany and Luxembourg.
May 25 Madam C. J. Walker [Sarah Breedlove], African American entrepreneur (First American self-made female millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company), dies of kidney failure complications at 51.)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND THEREABOUTS:

 
The Coming of the Holidays

Sickness eventually, like most journeys, features periods of high and low adventure stitched together with periods of annoyance and joy. Then one briefly feels the excitement of reaching his or her goal. — Well, a goal if you achieve health — other options, not so much. A few days telling the stories of high excitement follow, then creeping boredom begins urging you to move on again to somewhere or someplace else. I’ve, alas, grown tired of my adventures with the dread disease. It’s been a week since my actual treatment began. Things went right, then wrong, then right once more, and so on. I thought when treatment began I would be happy and see each visit as another adventure of sorts or perhaps even experience a few descents into slap-stick. No, no such luck, they have now just become boring.

Anyway, the Holidays are rumbling on toward us. I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend my sister’s Christmas celebration this year. I will miss visiting with my Mendocino friends, Debbie, Nancy and Duncan, Maryjane and her clown, Brendan and Ashley, Katie and Quinn, Ester, and everyone else. Buon Natale to all.
img_1987
Christmas in Mendocino

I usually hate the holiday season — too much expectation, scant reward. My sister’s celebrations, however, are different, always better than anticipated.

 

More news about the Mysterious Orb.

 

Apparently, my announcement about the disappearance of the Mysterious Orb was premature. As you may recall, it appeared suddenly in the street in front of our home with a sign attached reading something like, “Take me — free.” It sulked around for a few days. Suddenly, the sign attached to the orb sprouted some more words declaring, “I am a fountain.” A day or two later, it disappeared from lurking in front of the house. I not many days after that, I dutifully reported here in “This and That” that I thought it had departed to find neighborhoods exhibiting greater empathy.

I was wrong. Naida told me today, that she has seen the Mysterious Orb skulking about in the alleyway that leads to the garages in back of the homes. She described both its demeanor and location as “slinking about.” It stayed about one week moving from one unmemorable location to another until It disappeared again a few days ago.

While writing this, I thought it would be a good idea to leash up the dog for his evening constitutional and have a look around to see if the whereabouts or fate of the Orb could be discerned. And so, Boo-boo and I departed the house and set out on our search. We explored the front lawns of the nearby houses, the street and the alleyway behind the homes. Not a trace of the Orb could be found. So, I decided to ford on off the property and into the narrow woods that covered the small hill separating Campus Commons from Howe Avenue.

Suddenly, as I brushed by some waist-high bushes, I glanced down to my right and discovered the Orb hiding behind a bush from which, I was sure, it could furtively observe the alleyways and garages. It was not more than a one or more quick steps from bustling Howe Avenue.

What to make of all this: Is it not as it declared, “A fountain?” Does it secretly travel about the neighborhood spying (Remember there are at least two human “spies” living in the subdivision.) Is someone, screwing with my mind by rolling that cement ball around — gaslighting me? Why? Who? Is Naida playing a joke on me? Is this a Christmas present from an alien presence on earth? Is the dog thinking of telling me something I should know? Too many questions, too little time.

 
I did it.

 

I mentioned in my last post that my frenetic repostings of two of my blogs on Facebook and other sites were intended as an effort to beat my annual number of views received by each. Well, by Christmas Eve I did it. I am proud of me. It makes me about as happy as learning that the Mysterious Orb still exists and is prowling about outside our door tonight. I can rest until the New Year.

 
A Christmas Story.

 

On the day before Christmas, I did not leave the house until the evening. That was OK. It was a grey day with a light drizzle and I was not feeling well. I did not sleep much during the night and the side effects of the cancer treatment played havoc with my body and emotions. I spoke with HRM on FaceTime. He had just finished a day of snowboarding at a ski-resort above Lago Maggiore. He looked well and happy.
9064540080286
HRM at Lago Maggiore

Nikki was there also. He looked pleased but seems to have put on weight. HRM is soon off to England to spend a few days with Adrian’s family after which they will all fly with Nikki to NYC to welcome in the new year among the Times Square throngs.

I rested in the afternoon. Then I prepared to attend the Christmas Eve party with Naida’s children and their families. Naida spent part of the day practicing Christmas Carols on the piano. I concluded that meant we would spend a good part of the evening caroling.

I expected the side effects of the treatment will limit my eating, drinking, and singing. I hoped it would not put a damper on anyone’s enjoyment.

I remember, one night in Sicily about 50 years ago following the local automobile races. The participants and their families gathered at a large farmhouse among the vineyards. The old grandmother, who was bedridden, insisted her bed be dragged from the bedroom and positioned in the center of the salon. She spent the evening lying there telling all who would listen that she was happy everyone was having such an enjoyable time singing and dancing and how much suffering her various maladies caused her. It was all great fun. Later my girlfriend and I slipped out of the house and walked through the vineyards until the music and the laughter drifting out from the open windows spread across the hills adding their silver sounds to the silver light of the full moon. There we spent the rest of the night until the first light of sunrise brightened the eastern skies somewhere beyond Mt. Etna.

Shortly before we were to leave for the Christmas party, I gave Naida the present I had bought her, a large brown leather purse. She was distressed that the present she had gotten for me had not arrived yet. She rushed out to the mailbox to see if there was a late night delivery.

She returned carrying a large box and happily announced, “It arrived!” She then left me to open the box, took the purse and went upstairs to prepare herself to leave for the party.

I set about cutting away through the tough cellophane tape that bound the box closed. After a while, I had severed enough of them to be able to rip open the box. In it, I found the box filled with dried flowers. Lot’s of dried flowers.

Now, I have learned in the past few months that Naida’s thought processes could be quite subtle and so I decided not to jump to any conclusions and spent the next 15 or 20 minutes attempting to unravel the conundrum of symbols and goals that this gift, one of love I was sure, represented.

I couldn’t help but recall the 0’Henry story of the down and out Babbitts of NY. She who cut off her magnificent hair to purchase a watch fob on which he could hang his grandfathers pocket watch of which he was so proud and he in turn selling that same watch in order to buy her a glorious baret to display in her hair.

Eventually, I gave up trying to rationalize my way through the puzzle and carried the box upstairs. There I found Naida in distress. “I cannot find the purse,” she exclaimed. “It just disappeared.” Now, this was not some little purse, but one of those giant ones that someone could carry everything they own in it, even a small car. We searched everywhere. No purse.

I then showed her the box of dried flowers. “No,” she said, “it’s supposed to be a Hat. The winter hat you wanted, not dried flowers.”

We eventually reasoned that the dried flowers belong to one of the medical students living with us who plans to wed in a month or so. “But,” she said, “where’s your hat?”

We drove to her daughter’s house. Along the way, I noticed Naida appeared distressed. I asked her what was that matter. “I must be losing my mind,” she replied. “First, your present to me disappears and then there is no hat.”

The party was pleasant. We sang carols. Naida and Jenifer, her daughter, played the piano. I was a little too ill to fully enjoy it all.
img_5941
Caroling in Sacramento.

After returning home, I climbed the steps to the bedroom with the dog trailing along behind. He scooted over to his bed and sat in that proud erect way dogs sometimes do. He stared a slightly arrogant stare into my eyes. “Oh ho,” I thought, “what do we have here?” I looked closer and saw a small patch of brown leather peeking up from a fold in the dog blanket. He glanced were I looked. He knew he was caught out. He tried to resume his arrogant look but could only manage shame. “The game is up.”

Apparently, while Naida was otherwise occupied, he dragged the leather purse to the dog bed — the purse being about the same size as the dog bed. He carefully tucked it in the bottom so it lay perfectly flat. He then dragged over one of his blankets and tucked that in so that the purse was well hidden.

I called Naida to come upstairs. When she arrived, I told her the story and added, “See you are not going senile at all.” She seemed dubious. “Look at it this way,” I said. “We solved not one but two mysteries. We had a good time at the party. We discovered our dog to be a master criminal and we came away with a great story. What better Christmas could one have.”

She remained dubious. “Yes,” she drawled, “but what about your hat.”

 

An old year ends

 

On Christmas night at the early hour of 6PM, I slipped into bed, sipped from my well-steeped cup of cannabis tea and opened my computer. My thought was to make some sort of plan for the remaining six days of the year. Not so much a to-do list as a muddle-about-file which I could, now and then, dip into without too much difficulty in order to pass the time while waiting for this arbitrary section of my life to dribble on to the next.

The first thing to pass through my mind was Joyce’s opening line to Ulysses: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
mulligan-portrait-color
Buck Mulligan

I haven’t the slightest idea why it did. Except perhaps, to encourage me to contemplate why I would consider ending the year pondering the opening line of Ulysses. Perhaps, having not yet consumed enough tea made such reflection worthwhile. Maybe, my subconscious was attempting to jump-start the evening’s descent into irrelevancy.

The second item to suggest itself as a subject worth ruminating on was the first thing I read on my computer after opening it. Under a heading entitled notable events on history on this day, I read: “1194 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Romans [Germany], Sicily and Jerusalem, born in Lesi, Italy.”

That was something I felt was of little more consequence. Or, at least, I generally considered that someone who in his time was referred to as “Stupor Mundi” (Wonder of the World) was someone of greater consequence than “stately plump Buck Mulligan” and his shaving utensils — Then again perhaps not. Fredrick later in life was also referred to as “The Anti-Christ.” Nevertheless, I still felt, someone who held suzerainty over most of Medieval Europe, was of more consequence than a fictional med-student with flamboyant grooming habits — Then again, perhaps not.
federico_ambasciatori-alkamil-dipinto
Nicholas II

“Stupor Mundi” was clearly not fictional, although his adventures and the stories about him rival that of any character inhabiting the world of fiction. As to why I would consider intentionally including the contemplation of one or the other or both into my remaining six day’s of 2018, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because it is a mystery requiring a solution and that always pleases one’s consciousness. Perhaps it does not. Maybe it just has something to do with the cannabis. Take chess, for example, it has always appealed to me as a worthwhile way to cut two or three hours from one’s life. On the other hand, cocaine, cannabis and a host of other things, I think would do so as well, without requiring your consciousness to leap from the chair in which it had been dozing and actually exert itself entertaining you.

 
Strange Dream.

 

Since upping my medications in order to mitigate the side effects of my treatments, my dreams at night have become even stranger than usual. Last night, I found myself, a much younger man, well-dressed wandering about my dream New York. My dream NY is not at all like the NY I remember. It is a real estate development made up of large buildings in vibrant colors and streets dark, bleak, and dank. In this dream, a young man I knew, for some reason lost to the vagaries of dream memories, had been killed by the authorities. People were organizing to protest the death. The mayor and his advisers swore to put down the disturbance with maximum force.

I put myself front and center swearing to risk body and health in protest. As the police and soldiers could be heard approaching, everyone ran away leaving me alone to confront them. Alas, the police never arrived.

I then noticed another group of protestors forming. This one, well equipped with PR people. Again I put my body at the forefront willing to risk it in the name of the right and good. Again as the military closed in, the protestor’s disappeared, leaving me alone once more. After about four more events like this, I decided, I was not going to give up body and soul in the name of the right and good or anything resembling it, so I went home to take a nap and ponder the imponderables of life.

 

The Cat in the Hat.

 

The day after Christmas my hat arrived. It is red. It has a fluffy band around the outside. It might be a women’s hat or a pimp’s. I love it.

Here I am, the cat in the red hat standing by the wreath made by Naida from detritus from the Enchanted Forest
img_5960
The Cat, The Hat, The Wreath, and The Hibiscus.

 
From Christmas to the New Year

 

The first day after Christmas I spent with Dick, exchanging presents, picking up mail, and discussing Governor-elect Newsom’s plans for California and the possibility of his running for President in 2020. Hayden left me a much needed back-scratcher shaped like a stretching cat. Dick gave me a fine elegant sweater.

The next day, George and Maryanne arrived bringing gifts. George brought me a brown winter hat and Mary a bitching shirt. Here I am, The cat in the red hat on the top of the brown hat wearing the bitching shirt.

img_2113
The Cat, the Red Hat, The Brown Hat, The Bitching Shirt and a Pair of Sunglasses.

We ate dinner together that evening a Zocalo’s a local Mexican restaurant the Naida and I have grown to like.

img_2109

 

That night I had one of my most difficult dreams. It was a large space and horrible full of screaming, anguish, and fury. I awoke in terror and was afraid to return to sleep so I sat up. Eventually, I fell asleep. The next dream was different. Somehow I was high on a mountain on the border between Russia and some other country, I do not know which. I was living with a pleasant family of one ethnic group and a few steps away across the border lived a poverty-stricken family from the ethnic group they had been at war with for generations. We opened a cantina to service travelers. The other tribe settled down opened shops and prospered. I built a house overlooking the valley.

 
Capital Park.

 
The next day, my sister, George, Naida and I traveled into downtown Sacramento to walk about one of my favorite parks, Capital Park. During the five years or so I have been living in the Sacramento area, I would try to spend at least day or so a month at that park. I usually would have my breakfast (Coffee and Bagel with cream cheese) at a restaurant called Chicory on the corner of eleventh in a building in which I had my office when I worked in Sacramento. It was a nice attractive place with a back room with a fireplace and a few comfortable armchairs. I also liked to see what new and strange tattoos the baristas had acquired that month. After breakfast, I would cross the street and spend the rest of the day walking around the park or sitting motionless staring at a particular monument or tree.

Surprisingly, of all the Vietnam War Memorials that sprung up following that regrettable conflict, I appreciate that one in Capitol Park the most. As a work of art, it is crabbed and inward looking. That is its beauty, I think. It is a monument to neither the heroism nor the misery of war but its banality, the burden of which is first borne by the troops at the front and then later by those back home who eventually wonder what it was all for. There are no necessary wars only mistakes and aggression.

img_5965

We spent a good deal of time at the Fireman’s Memorial where George could pay homage to firemen friends who he served with and who died in service. Then George and Mary left, back to Mendocino, and Naida and I returned to the Enchanted Forest. There we will wait out the end of this year.

 
More Dreams

One night, while waiting for the year to wind down, I had a dream.

Well, first let me tell you about what I think about dreams. No, I do not buy what those strangely obsessed physicians living in and around Vienna thought during the dawning years of the Twentieth Century nor their descendants. To me, a dream is simply non-quantum reality. Time and place are simply mathematical abstractions that impinge upon our neurons. In dreams, however, time and place and most of what we think we know during our waking life are not necessary for existence. They are only arbitrary elements.

Ah… well, enough — the dreams:

I first found myself on an airplane flying into an airport somewhere. We were not too far away, perhaps beginning our descent when I heard the shout. “Kill the Jews.” It came over the speaker and a few passengers jumped from their seats joining in. “The Nazis are at it again,” I thought and hunkered down hoping it was only an idiotic cowardly far-right group like the “Proud Boys” trying to stir things up and then running away. Then the killing started. Somehow, I found myself in the first class section. There were a few Jewish businessmen there. They asked me to help them escape. As we landed I led them crawling through what seemed to be the airplane’s engines into the large terminal. As we ran through the Terminal, others were running to escape the slaughter also. Those too old or weak would slip through a door opening into a side room off the endless corridors hoping their pursuers would not check those rooms. I felt, no I knew, in the dream, in my dream, they were going to die. I did not know who they were. They seem like everyone, every skin shade, and every dress type. I remember a Muslim dressed in a thobe, Bisht and kaffiyeh seeking refuge in one of those rooms. There were all sorts of people. “Why was I helping only the rich escape?” Then I awoke. I sat up and drifted back to sleep. The next four or five dreams all took place on public transportation, ships, planes, and trains. Always, the same — the screaming would start, then the killing. I would rush to the windows and break them. Then, I would help those trying to escape by pushing them through.

Then they would come. Large blood-shot eyes, slightly pointy teeth, they looked like Gollum although not as handsome. They ignored me like I was a wooden post. All they wanted was to get at their victims. I would put myself in their way as best I could in an effort to keep them away from their intended victims. I continued to push their prey through the windows. Often shards of glass would slice into their flesh as I pushed them. I never knew if any survived.

After each dream, I would sit up. Not because I feared to return to the dream but because I simply wanted to restore my strength. I did not know why I had to do what I was doing or whether it did any good or not, but I had to do it.

Then, in my last dream of the night, everything changed. No more was I the blind beast compelled to do what I thought was right but having no idea if it was or was not. In this dream interestingly enough, Goggin appeared. Like in real life whenever he appears, it was interesting — this time to my great surprise, I became rich — six million dollars rich. But as usual, it was not what I wanted, far from it. Perhaps I will tell you about it next year.

This mostly dismal year is now ending. Strangely, I think it is one of the best years of my life, even though it began in sorrow. I watched HRM grow from boy to teetering on manhood, discovered in Naida the love I always craved, laughed with joy of life with my Sister Maryanne and my Brother-in-law — no, George I consider my real brother, there is nothing In-law that I feel about him — My friends, Peter, Barrie, Dick, Ruth (my conscience) and yes Terry too and so many others who had been there for me when I most needed them and least expected them to be.

Tomorrow The New Year 2019 begins. To anyone who reads this far and to all those I send it to whether they want it of not, may next year last all year for you all.

One of the pleasures of being old is that now whatever foolish things I say, write or do are usually ascribed to senility or the wisdom of the aged.

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Doug Jones writes:

 

“On Boxing Day [December 26] 2004, a tsunami resulting from a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake killed about 250,000 people around the Indian Ocean. This was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. The Indian Ocean tsunami illustrated a major theme on this blog: the importance of catastrophe in human history, and in the history of life and the universe”

“Earthquakes are one example of a phenomenon following a power law statistical distribution. The frequency of earthquakes drops off as an exponential function of their magnitude, so that on a logarithmic scale, the magnitude-frequency relationship looks linear. This is known as the Gutenberg-Ritter relation. (The deviation from linearity in the upper left part of the chart below may reflect measurement error, with a lot of tiny earthquakes not being detected.)”
pasted graphic
“Power law distributions are found in many other contexts, for example, in the frequency of wars versus their magnitude [as measured by the number of war deaths]. A power law distribution is very different from the more familiar bell-curve Gaussian normal distribution: extreme “black swan” events that are astronomically unlikely under a normal distribution may happen at an appreciable frequency under a power law distribution. Depending on the exponent, a power law distribution may not have a well-defined variance or even a well-defined mean.”

“For a technical discussion of why small scale processes sometimes aggregate to generate normally distributed outcomes, and other times aggregate to produce power law distributions, here’s an article on The common patterns of nature. A take home lesson — not always covered in introductory treatments of statistics and probability theory — is that catastrophes and extreme outcomes can be an expectable part of the natural order.”

“Finally, Steven Pinker and Nichlas Nassim Taleb have been squabbling about the implications of all this for the probability of a peaceful future. Here’s a level-headed review. And here are a couple of blog posts from me about why the bloody early twentieth century was maybe more than just a run of bad luck.”
https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/

By the way, the competing (or, a) theory is the famous and infamous “Bell Curve.” That placing the data points on a two vector grid events tend to congregate forming a hump or hill and if repeated, a wave. In other words, predicting the future of historical events on a two-axis graph produces either an inclined plane or a bell curve. Why this is so, I have no Idea. Maybe someday, I will find out. Right now, however, I couldn’t give a fig. (Actually, there is very little I would not give for a good fig.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

The United States is now presented with the age age-old bind of politics: Is the leader an ideologue or just an idiot?

 

 

B. Today’s Poem:
All though not my favorite for here in this post, I am aware that this year’s Winter Solstice Holiday’s Season is coming rapidly to a close. So, I decided to post this evening’s poem, In A Drear-Nighted December by John Keats. Unlike many of the other poets practicing in the poetic world, Keats could have done better.

In A Drear-Nighted December

1.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

2.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

3.
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
John Keats

 

 

C. Adventures with Hayden:

 

Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is more than one heart unruled, on the walled shore and the new-caulked ships, watching the set faces on the ships grow more and more distant from the set faces upon the land, until the last sight of sails and gilded weather vanes is gone over the curve of the sea, and the day grows bright to noon.”

Saunders, Graydon. The Human Dress. Tallwoods Books.

Categories: October through December 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pepe 0007 (October 28, 2018)

 

“I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0.”
Sophia Loren

 
Thank you, Barrie, for the postcards.

Does anyone out there know Miss Spelling’s mommy?

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

 

On Friday we left for Mendocino and the celebration of my sister Maryann and George’s 40th wedding anniversary. Despite my illness, the drive from Sacramento to Mendocino was pleasant enough. It was made more tolerable by listening to an audio disk of a book. A book that I had read before and perhaps have even written about here.

It was the first novel in the Arthurian Trilogy by Bernard Cornwall called, The Winter King. Listening to the narrator drone on helped the time pass rapidly. The trilogy is set in the latter part of the Fifth Century about 80 years or so after the Romans had departed Britain and the indigenous inhabitants had begun their devolution into rural barbarism. During this time, raiders from the area around Denmark eyeing the land now made empty by the Roman retreat arrived and settled in the East. They were, at the time of the novel’s setting, driving the Britons before them off the fertile lands and into the mountains. History records a British warlord named Artur active then. Also, there is evidence of a series of battles at about this time between the Saxon invaders and the British won by the Britons that halted the Saxon advance for about 40 years — a fairly long time by the standards of history. The author places the medieval legends back at this time but provides the shining heroic characters with a more gritty and less exalted story than the Medieval bards did.

Anyway, we arrived in Fort Bragg in good order checked into a motel, settled the dog comfortably and left for the Anniversary dinner.

The dinner was held at the Noyo Harbor Inn an attractive fairly newly remodeled hotel overlooking Noyo Harbor.
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In addition to members of the family friends of Maryann and George from the East Coast were there also.

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Fred and Ellen

 

George and Mary made speeches about the happiness of their marriage and George gave Mary a new ring.

IMG_5767

 

The following day Naida, I and Boo-Boo went for a walk along the beach and the bluffs.
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We then set off to Mary and George’s home for a Barbecue. When we arrived, I was amazed at the additions to their house that had been completed since the last time we were there. They had constructed an all-new patio and garden enclosure at the front of the house. It seemed to bring the house into the garden or the garden into the house I could not tell which.
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The Barbecue featured meat and a lovely salmon prepared by Quinn, Katie’s intended.
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Several of our friends from Mendocino joined us — Nancy and Duncan, Ester and her husband and a few others who despite the relatively few times were have visited each other, I feel have become as close friends as I have ever enjoyed. There was even a hedgehog who joined us that night. I never really met him in person (in hedgehog?) before.
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The next day we returned to The Enchanted Forest. I decided to try driving down Highway 101 and up 80 since on paper it is the quickest drive. Alas, as I feared, the traffic, especially as we approached Petaluma was horrendous.

 

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

Monday was my birthday. My daughter sent me three interesting books. Hayden surprised me with a nice gift. Many friends sent me their best wishes through email and social media. Even my grandson Aaron texted me. Naida took me out for one of my favorite things, a root beer float. We went to Mel’s. They even put a candle on it.
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Happy Birthday Pookie

Some additional notable events that occurred on my birthday, October 15, during the 16th and 17th Centuries:

1552 Khanate of Kazan is conquered by troops of Ivan Grozny.
1581 Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet “Ballet Comique de la Reine” is staged in Paris
1582 Many Catholic countries switch to the Gregorian calendar, skip 10 days
1598 Spanish general strategist Bernardino de Mendoza occupies fort Rhine
1641 Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve claims Montreal
1654 Prince Willem III appointed viceroy of Overijssel
1655 Jews of Lublin are massacred
1660 Asser Levy granted butcher’s license (kosher meat) in New Amsterdam
1674 Torsåker witch trials begin, largest witch trials in Sweden, 71 beheaded and burned

All and all, except for Asser’s butcher’s license, those were not very good or notable days.

Note also, on the day I was born in 1939:

1939 LaGuardia Airport opened in NYC
1939 Yeshiva of Mir closed after 124 years

So on my next birthday raise a glass to LaGuardia (The mayor and the airport) and shed a tear for the Yeshiva of Mir.

For those of you over 70 and well into the great decline, you probably already experience this. Even as my body weakens, the voice in my head that talks to me all the time seem always to be as young as it was when I was a teenager. Oh, a bit more cynical perhaps, but every bit as vigorous as ever when I feel I have done something that rises to the level of the barely adequate, letting me know how foolish I really am. One would think that at this age that voice would give up and feebly warble, “I no longer give a damn. Do what you want. Who cares?”

The remainder of the week drifted off to same old, same old. Sitting at home playing with the computer, watching old movies on TCM (not much to write about there) and reading the novels Jessica sent me (One was by JK Rowling using her nom de plume, Robert Galbraith. It was a mystery and quite good). I also went to a few pre-op examinations. And, of course, attended to the needs of Hayden and The Scooter Gang.

Speaking of H, he recently acquired a new mountain bicycle to replace his other mountain bike that he said was inadequate. (He was insistent that I understood that the old bike was an “off-road bike” and not a “mountain bike” — Whatever.) It was quite something — complex hydraulics on the seat and well as the front and back wheels. He recently joined the school mountain bike team along with several other Scooter Gang members.
IMG_5832
Hayden and his Mountain Bike.

On Tuesday, I had a stress test in preparation for my operation. A stress test for those who have never had one is where you fast for a day and dive to the lab where they the load you full of radioactive substances, lie you on a cot under great machines that make odd humming and clicking noises and then tell you to relax for the next hour or so. I was stressed out.

And so the week played itself out. Finally, after many phone calls, I managed to arrange an appointment with my surgeons. The growth in my neck seems larger and more uncomfortable. The Scooter Gang has begun to evidence teenage bravado and male aggressiveness. So it goes. Most days I sit in the studio with the Mac on my lap watching Naida tap away on her computer editing her memoirs.

The weekend also passed by quietly. On Sunday N decided to bake a pumpkin pie the way the Native Americans taught the illegal immigrants coming ashore a Plymouth or Jamestown — baking the pie in the pumpkin.
IMG_5842_2

 

It did not turn out that well because, while emptying the pumpkin of its seeds, we inadvertently punctured a hole in the bottom and much of the custard filling drained through during the baking. It tasted pretty good nevertheless. I wonder if the colonists faced that problem.

On Tuesday, I meet with the surgeons.

Have fun. Be cool. Keep warm. Stay hot.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

1647 First woman barrister in the colonies, Margaret Brent of Maryland, seeks and is denied the right to vote in the assembly.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Hayden on Top:

 

I decided to post some of the more amusing stories that Hayden and I shared during our travels together through life.

Today while driving HRM to school he told me that it was Star Wars Day. “May the Fourth be with You.” May 4, 2016
When she was not too much older than Hayden, my daughter Jessica suffered fears of the night and of sleeping similar to his, and for similar reasons. So, every night at bedtime, I used to tell her long involved tales within a never-ending story. To her great annoyance often the stories would put me to sleep well before they did her.

With Hayden, I make up separate shorter stories every night in an effort to avoid nodding off during the telling. Last night’s story was a tale in a series about Danny, a boy of about Hayden’s age, and his pony Acorn. Danny had ridden Acorn to school where the Good Princess Zoe (the same name as Hayden’s teacher) sent him on a quest to the Mountains of the East to free the Prince of Words from the evil witch Miss Spelling and prevent her from turning the world into a dark place of unreadable books and a babble of unintelligible speech. Danny had to spell his way to dispatch Miss Spelling, free the prince and save the world. When I finished, I asked him what he thought of the story.

“Who is Miss Spelling’s mommy?” he responded.

I could not answer him but promised to reveal it to him in a later story. I could use your help. Does anyone out there know Miss Spelling’s mommy? February 14, 2011

DSCN1076

Amanda and Hayden

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

If when I was five years old and shook the hand and listened to the stories of someone who was the age that I am now, he would have been born during the Civil War. If he in turn, when he was five, shook the hand of another old man and listened to his stories, he might have learned that that man when he was young had shaken the hand of someone who knew Shakespeare at the height of his theatrical career. Two handshakes between old men represent a chain of history from Donald Trump to William Shakespeare.

Hmm——This may evidence that, as a species, we may have been devolving faster than we realize.

C. Today’s Poem:

 

I think over again my small adventures,
My fears,
Those small ones that seemed so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach;
And yet there is only one great thing,
The only thing,
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.

Anonymous (Inuit, 19th century)

D. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Brad Delong’s blog (https://www.bradford-delong.com/),

While perusing the indefatigable economist Brad Delong’s blog (https://www.bradford-delong.com/), I came across a post by someone named John Bell. Delong, like me, is both fascinated and amused by modern physics. Many economists believe economics is or can be a science like physics. DeLong, himself, seems to revels\ whenever he discovers great physicists disagreeing over fundamental issues. But physicists, when they disagree, seem generally satisfied to grumble and return to their chalkboard and await the results of many arcane and expensive experiments to prove it one way or another. Economists who disagree on macroeconomics, however, generally stand gleefully by when their favored theory is adopted by some gullible government and millions die or are reduced to penury. DeLong, it stands to reason, also likes Science fiction novels.

Anyway, Bell, in the following post attempts to describe the nature of the disagreement between Einstein and Lorentz. The one finding no meaning to anything but things moving around — In other words if you are still you do not exist — like ghosts. I guess. Lorentz on the other hands seems to believe “aether” exists — in other words, ghosts exist. I can’t wait to see the results of the experiments.

I have also included the comments to Bell’s analysis by someone who goes by the nom de plume of “dilbert dogbert” and someone’s who calls himself “Graydon.”

John Bell: Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics:

“Einstein declares the notions ‘really resting’ and ‘really moving’ as meaningless. For him only the relative motion of two or more uniformly moving objects is real. Lorentz, on the other hand, preferred the view that there is indeed a state of real rest, defined by the ‘aether’, even though the laws of physics conspire to prevent us identifying it experimentally. The facts of physics do not oblige us to accept one philosophy rather than the other. And we need not accept Lorentz’s philosophy to accept a Lorentzian pedagogy…

“…Its special merit is to drive home the lesson that the laws of physics in any one reference frame account for all physical phenomena, including the observations of moving observers. And it is often simpler to work in a single frame, rather than to hurry after each moving object in turn. The difference of style is that instead of inferring the experience of moving observers from known and conjectured laws of physics, Einstein starts from the hypothesis that the laws will look the same to all observers in uniform motion. This permits a very concise and elegant formulation of the theory, as often happens when one big assumption can be made to cover several less big ones. There is no intention here to make any reservation whatever about the power and precision of Einstein’s approach. But in my opinion there is also something to be said for taking students along the road made by Fitzgerald, Larmor, Lorentz and Poincaré. The longer road sometimes gives more familiarity with the country…”

Comments

dilbert dogbert said:

Sitting here reading this blah blah blah while eating a couple of slices of pizza and drinking coffee and pondering ‘aether’.
Obviously ‘aether’ is just the mind of God. He hides his mind from mere mortals. Maybe someday a human touched by divine craziness will find the ‘aether’.
Graydon said in reply to dilbert dogbert:

Dark matter turns out to have a whole lot in common with aether as a concept.

I don’t think it’s going to give a fixed reference frame, and I’m highly agnostic about the direct detection of dark matter, but I do find the whole thing kinda funny.

Do I hear church bells and sniff the scent of incense?

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“When we think of War and her atrocities, we imagine that the unforgivable is prosecuted on the battlefield, in the heat and fire. It is not. Atrocity is writ by quiet men in council chambers over crystal glasses of cool water. Strange little men with ashes in their hearts. Sans passion, sans hope . . . sans everything. Everything but fear. For themselves, for their own lives, for some imagined future. And in the name of safety, security, piety, they labor to found future heaven on present horror. But their kingdom of heaven is in the mind, in the future that will never be, and their present horrors are real.”
Ruocchio, Christopher. Empire of Silence (Sun Eater) (p. 511). DAW. Kindle Edition.

Categories: October through December 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Pops 0007. (September 9, 2018)

 

“The U.S. has tended to see tanks-in-the-street military parades as tastelessly authoritarian, preferring instead to promote ritual deference to militarism and its trappings diffusely in society via sports, TV, film, air travel, and policing.”
Kieran Healy‏ @kjhealy

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

Yesterday, or perhaps the day before, I watched a Stewart Granger retrospective on TV — King Solomon’s Mines, Prisoner of Zenda, and Scaramouche. Granger was one of my favorite “action” heros of my youth. I always thought there was something strange about him, however. I did not know what gay or homosexual meant back then, but he always appeared to me to be uncomfortable around women — not like Gary Cooper or Rock Hudson who clearly were men’s men and comfortable around women. Well, after having my mind washed out about jumping to conclusions regarding sexual orientation, I learned that Granger was not gay, merely a flaming asshole despised by his female co-stars. I guess that’s the price of maturity — all the heroes or heroines of our youth turn out to be dickheads. I suspect, a goodly number of He who is Not My President’s admirers will wake up some day and realize they’re no longer pre-adolescents.

Anyway, Scaramouche, in my opinion, contained the greatest sword fight in cinema. Some of it even realistic as well. No, not the jumping around or fighting up and down stairs — that would produce instant death in a real sword fight — it was when they were fighting from the en garde position that the parries and thrusts were almost real. In fact, Granger actually suffered some serious wounds while filming the sequence. Not that anyone cried over his suffering apparently.

Well, well, I may have been premature in announcing my clean bill of health. During my visit to my oncologist yesterday he said that one of the reasons they could find no potential cancer cells was because the sonogram could not see through the scar tissue that had grown up around the mass, so I need to have a PET scan in order to complete any definitive diagnosis. So it goes. As Rosanna Rosannadanna warns, “It’s always something.”

Last night I watched a Dana Andrews retrospective. Yes old square jaw himself. I also learned that these movies I have been viewing for the past couple of weeks are part of TCM August programming focusing on a different star each evening. So far I have seen, La Dietrich, Nelson Eddy and Janette McDonald, Doris Day, Stewart Granger, and now Dana Andrews. TCM had nights that featured brighter stars, but I guess, I have only caught the more campy ones.

One night, however, I saw the 1935 production of Midsummers Night Dream with the young Mickey Rooney as Puck (it may have been Mickey Rooney night), the young James Cagney as Bottom, the young Dick Powell as Lysander and the young Olivia de Havilland in her screen debut and Hermia. It was great fun.

I don’t usually watch television except for some news or sports, but until yesterday (the convictions of Manafort and Cohen) the news has been so depressing that a little cinematic fantasy was a welcome respite.

Carol Baker, Baby Doll herself, was last evenings featured star. Two days later it was Anthony Quinn night but I only watched Viva Zapata.

One evening, we attended the monthly Jazz Night at the Pool put on by the HOC. They had a local group — a singer, pianist, guitarist and bass player — that played some standard jazz tunes including my favorite The Girl from Ipanema. I do not know why, but ever since I moved here in the Enchanted Forest, I find myself hanging out with people my age — The i Vecchi as we are referred to in Italy. More then I recall having done before. Perhaps, it is inevitable.

Anyway, we sat next to a woman our age or older who I had been told was an artist of some repute. She was dressed in “aging artist,” — all flowing fabrics encircling her body — and carried a handsome cane. After Naida explained to her our relationship, she quipped, “That’s nice for you. It seems that all of my recent affairs have been with parking-lot attendants.”
B. A FEW DAYS IN CARMEL AND BIG SUR:

 

The following week we traveled to Carmel and Big Sur. Naida had attended high school there and had many good memories of that time in her life. We intended to try and contact a few of her old BFFs.

I used to visit this section of California’s coast almost every week from when I first arrived here in California in !973, until about 15 years ago — at first as a wannabe hippy frequenting Ventana and other haunts and sometimes hiking off into the mountains for a week or two of camping usually by myself then later, during the period when I was active on coastal resource protection matters. I would go there often on one site visit or another.

That evening we strolled along Carmel beach and through the town visiting the art galleries and stopping for dinner at a place that had properly prepared Neapolitan pizza.
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Pookie on Carmel beach.

Next morning we visited one of Naida’s high school classmates at an assisted living facility in Carmel Valley. She was a woman who lived what appeared to be a fascinating life. She had been a major fundraiser for many charities and traveled the world, from Borneo to Africa and South America tending to peoples needs. She now suffers from advanced Parkinson’s and is confined to a wheel-chair.

Later that day, we left for Big Sur. It was fascinating for me to see now, so many years removed, the amazing results of our efforts to preserve that shoreline from development — Including, the purchase of most of the still vacant land on the north entrance to Big Sur in an effort to halt creeping development from the already built-up areas (The Parks Department opposed it because it did not have high recreational value as did the Coastal Commission on the erroneous belief that they could retain it in open-space through regulation — why would a rational person want to repeatedly fight that battle anyway?) — and the 5000 acre Hill Ranch that surrounds Point Sur Lighthouse.
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Pookie in Big Sur.

 

We ate lunch at Nepenthe, where I had eaten many times over the years.
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Lunch at Nepenthe.

I then visited their curio’s store and marveled how little had changed over the 40 or so years I had been visiting there — the same curios, the same wind chimes, the same flowing, colorful, and expensive hippy fashions.

The next day we returned to the Enchanted Forest.
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Sunset at Carmel beach.

 
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

Days pass, another PET scan, more swimming and dog walking, now and then driving the Scooter Gang here and there, endless Kavanaugh hearings and ravings by he who was not elected president, good and bad dreams, decent food, all and all an ok week.

One day, I was walking around the lakes in Town Center and saw the Scooter Gang coming the opposite way. There were two girls about the same age as the boy’s age walking with them. HRM scootered over to me and said, “There are two girls with us. They just forced their way in.” I thought, “That’s one way it all begins.”

A few days later we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the clubhouses. I was chosen as the bartender for the Sock Hop next Friday. I did not volunteer. I do not know how to bartend. I assume it will just require passing out beer and pouring the wine. We old folks enjoy volunteering for things. The Sock Hop is a party where mostly geriatric cases dress up as they did when they were teenagers and dance the Hokey Pokey. I can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

For the last several years, I have argued that, for public policy and historical reasons, large American corporations that engage in interstate commerce should be required to obtain a federal charter (Articles of Incorporation). Recently to my surprise, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation entitled the Accountable Capitalism Act which provided just for that. As Matthew Yglesias describes it:

“As much as Warren’s proposal is about ending inequality, it’s also about saving capitalism…. The conceit tying together Warren’s ideas is that if corporations are going to have the legal rights of persons, they should be expected to act like decent citizens who uphold their fair share of the social contract and not act like sociopaths…. Require any corporation with revenue over $1 billion… to obtain a federal charter of corporate citizenship. The charter tells company directors to consider the interests of all relevant stakeholders — shareholders, but also customers, employees, and the communities in which the company operates — when making decisions…”
Matthew Yglesias, Elizabeth Warren has a plan to save capitalism.

The following lists and briefly explains all the provisions of Warren’s proposed legislation:

Requires very large American corporations to obtain a federal charter as a “United States corporation,” which obligates company directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders: American corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue must obtain a federal charter from a newly formed Office of United States Corporations at the Department of Commerce. The new federal charter obligates company directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders – including employees, customers, shareholders, and the communities in which the company operates. This approach is derived from the thriving benefit corporation model that 33 states and the District of Columbia have adopted and that companies like Patagonia, Danone North America, and Kickstarter have embraced with strong results.

Empowers workers at United States corporations to elect at least 40% of Board members: Borrowing from the successful approach in Germany and other developed economies, a United States corporation must ensure that no fewer than 40% of its directors are selected by the corporation’s employees.

Restricts the sales of company shares by the directors and officers of United States corporations: Top corporate executives are now compensated mostly in company equity, which gives them huge financial incentives to focus exclusively on shareholder returns. To ensure that they are focused on the long-term interests of all corporate stakeholders, the bill prohibits directors and officers of United States corporations from selling company shares within five years of receiving them or within three years of a company stock buyback.

Prohibits United States corporations from making any political expenditures without the approval of 75% of its directors and shareholders: Drawing on a proposal from John Bogle, the founder of the investment company Vanguard, United States corporations must receive the approval of at least 75% of their shareholders and 75% of their directors before engaging in political expenditures. This ensures any political expenditures benefit all corporate stakeholders.

Permits the federal government to revoke the charter of a United States corporation if the company has engaged in repeated and egregious illegal conduct: State Attorneys General are authorized to submit petitions to the Office of United States Corporations to revoke a United States corporation’s charter. If the Director of the Office finds that the corporation has a history of egregious and repeated illegal conduct and has failed to take meaningful steps to address its problems, she may grant the petition. The company’s charter would then be revoked a year later – giving the company time before its charter is revoked to make the case to Congress that it should retain its charter in the same or in a modified form.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Yglesias on Top:

 

[University of Massachusetts economist William] “ economist William Lazonick of the University of Massachusetts puts the thesis very squarely, arguing that “from the end of World War II until the late 1970s, a retain-and-reinvest approach to resource allocation prevailed at major U.S. corporations.” But since the Reagan era, business has followed “a downsize-and-distribute regime of reducing costs and then distributing the freed-up cash to financial interests, particularly shareholders…”

…Lazonick’s basic observation that “since the mid-1980s net equity issues for non- financial corporations have been generally negative, and since the mid-2000s massively negative.” In the modern era of shareholder supremacy, in other words, owners take more money out of the corporate sector in the form of buybacks and dividends than they put in via new investments.
Matthew Yglesias, Elizabeth Warren has a plan to save capitalism.

 

B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Paul Krugman on Parasites in Public Policy.

 

Paul Krugman in a recent opinion piece in the New York Times where he speculates whether direct-marketing scams that exploit and reinforce political partisanship, largely on the right, basically to sell merchandise is a parasitic infestation causing much the current political sickness that infects America today. He refers to a speech by Charlie Stross that I discussed in a previous post (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/the-most-significant-post-you-will-never-read/). In that speech, Stross warned that very large corporations are like hive super-organisms poised to gobble us all up.

“And some of the most influential voices on the right haven’t just sold advertising space to purveyors of snake oil, they’ve gotten directly into the snake-oil business themselves.

Thus:

Glenn Beck in his heyday juiced up his viewers by telling them that Obama was going to unleash hyperinflation any day now; he personally cashed in by hawking overpriced gold coins.

Alex Jones makes a splash by claiming that school massacres are fake news, and the victims are really actors. But he makes his money by selling diet supplements.

Ben Shapiro writes critiques of liberal academics that conservatives consider erudite (remember Ezra Klein’s line about a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like?), but makes his money the same way Alex Jones does.

Why should marketing scams be linked to political extremism? It’s all about affinity fraud: once you establish a persona that appeals to angry, aging white guys, you can sell them stuff that will supposedly protect their virility, their waistline, and their wealth.

And at a grander level, isn’t that what Fox News is really about? Consider it not as an ideological organization per se but as a business: it offers cheap programming (because there isn’t much reporting) that appeals to the prejudices of angry old white guys who like to sit on the couch and rant at their TV, and uses its viewership to help advertisers selling weight-loss plans.

Now, normally we think of individuals’ views and interests as the forces driving politics, including the ugly polarization increasingly dominating the scene. The commercial exploitation of that polarization, if we mention it at all, is treated as a sort of surface phenomenon that feeds off the fundamental dynamic.

But are we sure that’s right? The Alex Joneses, Ben Shapiros, and Fox Newses of the world couldn’t profit from extremism unless there were some underlying predisposition of angry old white guys to listen to this stuff. But maybe the commercial exploitation of political anger is what has concentrated and weaponized that anger. In other words, going back to where I started this essay, maybe the reason we’re in a political nightmare is that our political behavior has, in effect, been parasitized by marketing algorithms.

I know I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Charlie Stross argues that “paperclip maximizers” – not people, but social systems and algorithms that try to maximize profits, market share, or whatever – have increasingly been directing the direction of society, in ways that hurt humanity. He’s mostly focused on corporate influence over policy, as opposed to mobilization of angry people in the service of direct-order scams, but both could be operating.

Anyway, I think it’s really important to realize the extent to which peddling political snake oil, whether it’s about the economy, race, the effects of immigration, or whatever, is to an important extent a way to peddle actual snake oil: magic pills that will let you lose weight without ever feeling hungry and restore your youthful manhood.

Paul Krugman

C. Today’s Poem:

 

I snagged the following in Brad Delong’s blog,

Note to Self: The Song of Everlasting Sorrow and Historical Patriarchy: I was reading, as one does—I do not remember why I was reading this, however—an English translation_ of poet, landlord, scholar, bureaucrat, drunkard Bai Juyi’s Song of Everlasting Sorrow. And I was struck by four short lines:

遂令天下父母心,
不重生男重生女。
驪宮高處入青雲,
仙樂風飄處處聞。
緩歌慢舞凝絲竹,
盡日君王看不足。
漁陽鼙鼓動地來,
驚破霓裳羽衣曲
All her sisters and brothers had royal demesnes granted.
Imperial but pitiful glory on the Yang family was bestowed.
。 On the mindset of all parents her success was a strong influence.
Baby girls instead of baby boys became the popular

The overturning of the natural order as a consequence of the love of Emperor Xuanzong for Lady Yang Guifei was so great that all across the empire parents wished for girl- rather than boy-children…

This struck me as having obvious bearing on my [“Historical Patriarchy”][] lecture…

Continue reading “Note to Self: “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow” and Historical Patriarchy…” » http://www.musicated.com/syh/TangPoems/EverlastingRegret.

 

This remarkable poem ends with the following lines:

臨別殷勤重寄詞,
詞中有誓兩心知,
七月七日長生殿,
夜半無人私語時。
在天願作比翼鳥,
在地願為連理枝。
天長地久有時盡,
此恨綿綿無絕期

“Let our pledge be as strong as the inlaid and the gold.”
“We will reunite, if not in heaven, in the mortal world.”
。 She asked the messenger to bring back a verse with a clue.
There was a vow in the verse only the two of them knew.
On a Valentine’s Day in Longevity Hall away from the crowd,
At midnight when no one else was around, they vowed.
“Let’s be two birds in the sky flying side by side.”
“Let’s be two branches on the earth inseparably tied.”
The sky and the earth will not be eternal, however.
Only this regret remains and lasts for ever and ever.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“Power concentrates until chance intervenes. The wealthy get wealthier, the ruling class becomes more and more entrenched. But all of them worry most about their short lives and self-interest.”
Conroe, John. Summer Reign: A novel of the Demon Accords.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

CBO_tax_expenditures_panel_v1

As near as I can make it out from these graphs, merely by putting caps of the amount that can be deducted for health insurance and pensions (the gold-plated pension plans that seem to benefit the wealthy more than the rest of us and therefore are unfair) and a modest increase in the unearned income tax rates (capital gains rates are exclusively a subsidy for the wealthy with little or no economic justification — what would people who must pay a little more tax on certain investment income do with their money, bury it in the sand?) would substantially reduce the deficit or provide funds for governmental programs such as education or infrastructure maintenance and development. I figure this would produce an increase in revenues of somewhere between $100 -$200 billion per year.

Note: Additional reasonable changes to the 2017 tax bill, including returning the income taxes on the top income brackets to what it had been prior to 2017 could also substantially increase revenues.

Categories: July through September 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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:

IMG_4893_2
The Alps

 
IMG_4916_2

St. Moritz

IMG_4934_2

More Alps

IMG_4882_2
Still more Alps with a town in the valley
IMG_4924

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.
IMG_5008
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.
IMG_5018

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.

IMG_5023

 

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.

IMG_5027

 

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.
IMG_5030

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.
IMG_5062

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.
.

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.

Categories: July through September 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.
IMG_4776

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.
IMG_4779

 

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.
IMG_4728
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.

IMG_4761

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.
IMG_4784
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:

Pasted Graphic

Nude in Red by Roger Smith.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN1202

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:

 
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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.)

 

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

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