“[I]f folk memory extends to sub-sub-sub-sub-atomic particle level,… it was indeed all done by somebody with a beard.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 1). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. .
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
Well, with the reality show that was the SOTU, the tragic comedy of the Senate Republican’s acquittal of He Who is Not My President and the unending melodrama of the Iowa caucus behind me, I decided I had enough entertainment overload for a while and set off to the Big Endive by the Bay and the peace of my immunotherapy infusion.
We travelled by train and arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in late afternoon. We spent a delightful evening together. Barrie cooked her usual wonderful meal after which we spent hours telling stories. Most of the stories that evening were about travel — Peter and Barrie’s time in India and my experiences in Israel. I told about the wonders of the old city of Jerusalem, of my friendship with the Bethlehem muslim antiquities dealer who had purchased the original Dead Sea Scrolls from the Arab tribesmen that discovered them. I also spoke about the mysteries of Masada, Qumran and the Negev. We also swapped tales of Paris (We’ll always have Paris) with a side trip to Bordeaux, and Rome ( The Eternal City) and its environs.
The next day Peter drove Naida and I to UCSF for my immunotherapy infusion. After the appointment, we went to the Mission Rock Cafe for lunch. Mission Rock, located on the shore of the Bay a few blocks from the hospital at Mission Bay, was a favorite dive during Counter Culture times. It has now been converted to a somewhat upscale restaurant. After a reasonably good meal, we left and returned by train to the Enchanted Forest.
Naida at Mission Rock Resort Pondering the Menu.
B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
The next day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM from school and to fetched this months medicines from the pharmacy. The sun was shining and the weather pleasant, in the upper-sixties. Hayden and I had lunch at Subway’s and he once again impressed me with how rapidly he is becoming an adult.
I am distressed at the state of my memory. Throughout the day, my mind is bubbling with ideas about what I would like to write here in T&T, but when I sit a my computer to actually write, nada, nothing. We did watch “The Irishman” on Netflix last night — vintage Scorsese. It was a story about a two bygone eras. The first described the power and decline of the Italian Mafia. The second seemed to me to celebrate the end of the Actor’s Studio’s influence on movies and theater as DeNiro, Pacino, Scorsese, Kietel and Pesci (Pesci was not Actors Studio trained, but may as well have been) flaunting their ancient acting chops across the big screen. We will not see their like again.
Today, Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee once again. We met a woman who taught photography in Sacramento and Florence,Italy. Earlier in her life she attended a two week photographic safari in Montana. She volunteered to cook because the existing cook’s cooking was despised by the campers who had paid good money for the trip. She worked for the company for many years. Later, in Italy, she opened a bread bakery of some sort in Spoleto. We spoke about photography for a while. I gave her my view of aesthetics and art, “You do the best with whatever you got, unless you have got to make a living out of it. Then you do whatever sells.”
Later I took H, Jake and Ethan out for lunch at the Relish House in the Golden Hills. We ate hamburgers with complex toppings and talked about things of interest to teenagers, cars mostly.
Ethan, Hayden and Jake
Still later, back in the Enchanted Forest, Naida collected some camellias. Some were placed in a shallow bowl to float on the water. Others were used for adornment.
Naida of the Camellias.
On Tuesday, we were visited by Lillian Valee a friend of Naida’s, a fellow author, a poet and a renown translator of things Polish. She had been the student assistant to Czeslaw Milosz,a polish writer, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for literature (Poetry). She had assisted Milosz in translating his book Bells of Winter and other writings into English. Her book, Rivers of Birds, Forests of Tule is a marvelous collection of her columns written for the local museum publication describing the history of the flora and fauna of the Central Valley around the Mukouleme River and Modesto.
We walked the few steps from the Enchanted Forest to the banks of the American River. There we sat on a log for a while and watched evening drift down upon us. Naida and Lillian spoke of things literary while I threw stones into the water and petted Boo-boo the Barking Dog who lay dozing at my feet dreaming dog things.
The American River at Winter’s End.
Naida West(http://www.bridgehousebooks.com/) and Lillian Vallee sitting on the banks of the American River discussing things literary while Boo-boo the Barking Dog enjoys the late afternoon sun.
The next day we had a pleasant breakfast and discussed, Modesto, Eugene O’Neal, cooking, family, things Polish, Naida’s early life, native Americans, and a lot more. I eventually left Naida and Lillian to their chitchat at the breakfast table and with Boo-boo the Barking Dog in tow retreated to the study where I wrote this while Boo-boo napped. For some reason, I felt ill, chilled. I put myself to bed and slept for a few hours. When I had awakened, Lillian had already left to return to her home in Modesto.
Tomorrow, people will be coming to put in new flooring for the house. While moving some things around in preparation, Naida opened and old chest. In it was some of the clothing her great great grandmother had worn when she arrived in America in the 1840s almost 180 years ago. She decided to do dress up.
Naida as the well-dressed Scottish immigrant of the 1840s.
After watching a silly movie featuring a classical pianist, a singer and an all harmonica band, we went to bed. Not a bad day at all. I have had far worse.
Today the workers arrived at 8AM and immediately began tearing up the floors in the house in order to put in new floors and carpet. The racket and confusion of activity drove the three of us from the house like refugees from a war — homeless and looking for refuge. We ended at Naida’s daughter’s house, sat on the back porch, drank some tea and talked, and talked. The dogs, (Sarah’s two and our one) played frenetically throughout the yard and up on the tool shed. Eventually, we all left except for Sarah’s two dogs, Sarah back to work and Naida, Boo-boo the Barking dog and I, returned home, navigated the noise, mess and apologies and ran upstairs to change for this afternoon’s Happy Hour with the members of the Saturday Mornings Coffee Group at someplace called Clubhouse 56 because it happens to be located on 56th Street in Sacramento. We drank a few Margarita’s. I ate a Hot Dog. We talked with a lot of people but I remember nothing about what we may have talked about. I did talk with Winnie. We compared maladies as we usually do when we meet. Her’s seemed much more distressing than mine.
We returned home after the workers left, made our way through the detritus and materials left behind pending the workers return tomorrow and up to the bedroom on the second floor. The floor installers had not yet attacked that floor. We crawled into bed.
Oh, I remember one other thing about the day. The Good/Bad David called from South Dakota to tell me that the temperature there reached one degree Fahrenheit today. I mentioned it was about 70 here in the Enchanted Forest. I invited him down to enjoy some California weather. He said he would think about it as soon as he finishes doing something or other with the cows or something like that.
It is Valentine’s Day. The house is in shambles as various teams of workmen continue tearing up the floor and hammering down new flooring. Naida and I have fled to the studio room to escape the noise of the tools and the Serbian, Chinese and Mexican shouts of the workers as they lay down the floor. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.
On Saturday the clattering of the workmen as they put down the carpets upstairs continued. Naida sentenced me to the big recliner in the living room while she cleaned out the studio before they began working in there. In rejecting my assistance, Naida said that there were a lot of personal papers and things lying around she wanted to go through. So Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I happily dozed in the recliner while everyone else worked.
Sunday, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake and bring them to The Enchanted Forest to help me move some furniture around the house. After completing that chore we went for lunch at a small family owned Arabic restaurant. The food was surprisingly good.
After a few days of which I remember very little, Naida and I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog to the dogpark. While there, some dog pissed on my cane.
It is now Wednesday evening, Naida and I are watching the Democratic Presidential Nomination debate on MSNBC. We sit here talking to the TV set like we were watching a football game. I hate the moderators. They seem more interested in pushing their personal agenda and gotcha games than in encouraging a debate. How about a question like how do you propose to defeat Trump? Or how is your position on ______ different from that of the present administration? Nevertheless, there is a lot of shouting, self justification and a few apologies. Overall it is enjoyable, like watching a street fight.
It is now Friday evening, things have happened in the past two days have disappeared through the holes in my memory. Tomorrow is another day.
Another Saturday morning at the coffee in the Nepenthe Club House. Winnie’s husband Paul and I have a long talk together. He had been an accomplished architect in Los Angeles until he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Wanting to spend the last few years in an idillic setting, he along with Winnie moved to Salmon Idaho. Their house, designed by Paul, sat in a pretty little valley a few miles north of the town. A portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail crossed their property. Close by the Middle Fork of the Salmon River rushes by their home. It is the location of the book Murder On The North Fork written by Naida’s uncle who used to be the Methodist minister in the town. Naida had helped her uncle to write the book, edited and published it. The book told the true story of a murder that occurred in the area about 100 years ago.
Sunday was a day of rest and rest we did.
Tomorrow I leave for the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy treatment. Today, during our walk around the Enchanted Forest, I noticed the ornamental fruit trees were in bloom — the Japanese cherry trees a brazen pink and the white and reds of the others bursting out here and there along with the camellias adding the blush of color to the lingering shades of winter. I expect, by the time I return from the Big Endive, our back yard with be a riot of spring colors.
Until then, take care of yourselves.
Does it really matter?
It struck me after the debates, the early primaries, and the pundit world commentaries on them both that perhaps we need to cool down a bit and reflect. Elizabeth Warren in the last debate said something like, “I will take whatever I can get and then come back again and again.” In effect suggesting that the moderates in developing their policies seemingly based upon what can feasibly be passed into law by Congress are just being timid.They should propose what is morally right and then “take what they can get and come back again and again.”
In thinking about this and the hysteria by the moderates caused by the early primary successes of Bernie Sanders, I have a different take on what is happening. Could anyone have any confidence that say Bernie’s Medicare for all will be approved by Congress during his administration. Even if the Democrats take the Senate by one or two votes they will not have the votes to overcome a filibuster. Warren correctly opined that even her proposals would require the abolishment of the filibuster rule to have any hope of seeing the light of day in the form that she proposed. Also, there are enough so-called moderate or conservative Democrats in Congress that even the end of the filibuster would probably not result in passage of a single payer program. It is more likely and perhaps a certainty that any health care bill would be merely a correction of the problems with Obamacare and a public option. So it will be with just about every policy proposal. In effect, even a Democratic Congress will give the Democratic President at best more or less what the “moderates” propose.
The Big Corporations, Wall Street and Carbon Mafia and the like can rest easy and forgo the hysteria over a Sanders or Warren presidency because without a strong majority in the Senate it will be a typical Democratic Administration no matter which of the 5 or so top Democratic candidates competing for the nomination is elected. The Trump executive actions will be reversed entirely whichever of the leading Democratic candidates is elected. Similarly, a moderate revision to the immigration laws will probably be passed and signed into law. The Corporate tax rate and high income tax rates will return to those existing at the end of the Obama administration (provided we are not it a recession). The fights in Congress will be over a wealth tax and raising the unearned income tax.
The administration itself will be staffed with similar personnel, the moderates choosing somewhat less radical but more experienced administrators.
I agree with Warren, however, it is a cop out, even if it is politically more expedient to propose programs or policies most likely to pass, to not support the “best.” There is always the possibility by choosing a lesser goal one will achieve it, declare victory and not “come back again and again.”
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Wednesday, March 27,1963.
I am recovering from two weeks of depression. Things appear ordered again
Valerie left for Europe yesterday on the Queen Elizabeth. I went to see her off. Ed and I were the only ones to see her off. I felt very sad that she had to leave without any of her friends seeing her off. Leaving when one is alone is not a parting. It is an end.
Thursday, April 4, 1963.
Now that my depression has faded my studies are going better. Things are picking up.
I wrote Tad a letter today but I don’t thing I will send it. It’s all bullshit.
Kevin did not call today about the travel business issues. I do not understand people who seem unable to live up to their obligations.
Friday, April 26, 1963.
Val wrote a letter to Maria:
“Joe was there with flowers. He more than anything else made me sad in leaving America. He personifies all that was good and fun and enjoyable in America”
That is quite a comment. I am humbled.
Tuesday, May 14, 1963.
I am embarrassed I haven’t written here for several weeks now. I imagine my innate laziness has raised its ugly head again.
News of the day: Major Cooper’s orbital flight was cancelled today because of some difficulty with the Bermuda Tracking Station. They have had difficulty with that station before. I wonder why, considering the enormous expense of a postponement they do not have duplicate or auxiliary machinery.
Thursday, May 16, 1963.
Major Cooper landed safely today.
I met with Kevin today. He seems very distressed by my lawsuit. I feel sorry for him. He was obviously angry but never voiced it to me. I probably will never be a leader of people or organizations. I am too soft. I don’t seem to be ruthless enough. I think I will probably drop the suit eventually. I just cannot harm someone who was a friend although I know he will never think of me as one again.
I think I did poorly in my Real Property exam. My mind simply could not penetrate the complexity of the questions.
Stephanie and I spent the short half-hour we had with each other in total non-communication. It is strange, we both try so hard to communicate but instead we seem to fear to closeness or to touch as though if we did it would plunge immediately into some libidinous trap. It annoys and frustrates me. Ah, but like my life in general, I may never succeed in achieving my goals, but I cannot run away.
Friday, May 17, 1963.
It seems strange to me that there appear few today in the intellectual community courageous enough to stand up and object to some of those clearly erroneous claims and lack of intellectual discipline that come out of that community.
Why is it today the only voices raised against these errors are voices usually associated with reaction whose councils are usually dismissed as superstitious, unscientific or medieval?
It is time modern preconceptions be re-examined. Terms like scientific, intellectual freedom, reality and the like should be looked at and clarified in the cool light of reason, science and above all experience.
Error is an oppressive religion. Failure to understand is the gateway to superstition.
(I haven’t the slightest idea what my 23 year old self was going on about here.)
While sitting around, paying bills and watching CNN pundits travel opining on the upcoming Democratic primary in New Hampshire, I grew bored and my mind wandered to contemplate those things that had changed in the US in the 80 years between 1939 when I was born and now. So, I fiddled a bit on the internet, and reviewed an old birthday card. I discovered the following:
The average cost of a new home had increased 100 times from $3800 to $380,000.
Average income from $1800 to $46,000, 25 times.
A new car from $700 to about 32,000, about 45 times.
Gasoline from $ .10 per gallon to $2.50 a 25 fold increase.
As far as I can tell from these few statistics, our parents had better relative income and prices for major purchases, but not better technology or health care. Since I am mostly technologically illiterate and my health is shot, I guess I get the burnt ends of either year.
Batman is 80 years old, having been introduced to us all in 1939.
If Batman is 80 and his mind is like mine, I wonder if he knows he is Batman or does he just wonder why he is wearing tights and jumping off buildings in the dark? For that matter I wonder if he knows he is actually in a fictional Chicago?
Three Little Fishes, Beer Barrel Polka, Jeepers Creepers and Scatterbrain were some of the favorite tunes of 1939.
In 2019, according to some, Cheap Thrills and This Is What You Came For (neither of which I have ever listened to) seems to be the fan favorites. While I cannot opine which songs are better, I bet, if forced to choose. I would go with a 1939 fan favorite like Three Little Fishes.
Italy invaded Albania in 1939.
In 2019, the USA and Russia seem to be bent on their continued invasions of a whole bunch of places.
England and France declared war on Germany.
In 2019, neither Russia nor the USA declared war on anyone but their troops maintained a physical presence in and occupying much of the world.
Food Stamps begin in1939 under the Roosevelt administration.
Food Stamps, in 2019, face the beginning of the end under the administration of DJT.
The New York Yankees won the 1939 World Series fair and square.
In 2019, the Huston Astros cheated their way to World Series victory.
The Vice President of the US in 1939 was John Garner.
In 2019, it was Mike Pence. No-one cared in either case.
In 2019 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, one of our greatest Presidents. He changed our Nation and ushered in what was perhaps the greatest Golden Age in human history.
In 2019 we have a President who was elected with substantially fewer votes than his rival, doesn’t read, cannot write, is the most corrupt President in our history and who we have not yet even mentioned the really the evil things he is capable of and has done. He may well be ushering in the end times.
A. Terry on Top:
I just received the following from Terry and thought is was interesting enough to send on:
So on all the Sunday shows today the various guests claim that anybody but Sanders would do much better against Trump. So the Party must unite to stop him.
My view is : that is just not true; not true at all.
Rahm Emanuel, the Clinton and Obama political guru and former Chicago Mayor , said today that Sanders is following a strategy never tried by a winning Democrat since 1992: ignoring the centrist path to the White House in favor of populist liberalism. And that is indeed risky . But if that is true, why is it not showing up in the polls??
There are universally no polls that substantiate that. In fact a look at Real Clear Politics on 2/23/20 shows that Sanders beats Trump by an average of 3%-4% nationwide and in the battleground state of Michigan by 7%. All of the other candidates do worse in the same polls, in some cases much worse. Some even tie or lose to Trump. This holds true in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Something is going on that has not happened before. The old winning strategy of Dems is just not working. Otherwise Sanders would be loosing to Trump big time in the polls. And the other Democrats would be winning big time. And it’s not that the public doesn’t know Sanders is a “democratic socialist”. His name ID is 95%.
Attacking Sanders as too extreme, and a socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union doesn’t seem to have any impact in the polls. He still beats Trump by higher margins now than any other candidate, including Biden. That is frankly amazing. Again, all the experts appear to be wrong!
All I can say at this point is that a tectonic shift appears to be taking place, not just in the Democratic Party but in the rust belt states of Penn. Mich. and Wisconsin. Why is Sanders doing as well or better against Trump than Biden and company in those key states and much better than them nationwide?
My educated guess is that a very diverse part of America actually “like him”. He has the undefinable “it”.
It’s an old saw in politics: all things being equal, “THE MOST LIKABLE CANDIDATE WINS”.
For example: FDR, HST, JFK, RR, WJC, GWB, BHO, and Trump. Hillary, while competent, was not as likable.
That quality is more important than ideology, looks, wealth , brilliance , etc. And Sanders is definitely becoming more likable. Since his heart attack he has mellowed a lot. He is much warmer since he became a real winner, no longer the underdog but the top dog.
So watch what happens over the next two weeks: will Sanders become LOVABLE to the never Trumpers in the Democratic Party? He will if he keeps winning the primaries and also the national and regional polls against Trump. Nothing succeeds like success and that’s winning in politics (polls included).
Average percentage of their fortunes that the twenty richest Americans gave to charity in 2018: 0.8
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Our successes may be enjoyable but our failures are far more interesting.
C. Today’s Poem:
I Have Learned So Much
So much from God
That I can no longer
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
a Buddhist, a Jew.
The Truth has shared so much of Itself
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even a pure
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.
From: ‘The Gift’ by Haifiz
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky
D. Giants of History: More From Burma Richard.
Richard Diran, also known as “Burma Richard” became a dear friend of mine during my sojourn in Thailand. Richard a gemologist, ethnologist, artist, photographer, smuggler, man of action, restraunteur, and soldier of fortune, is a real adventurer who goes on real adventures. The following post from his blog “Burma Richard” (http://www.burma-richard.org/) briefly tells about one of his visits to Burma in search of a tribe of headhunters.
Who hasn’t opened an old issue of National Geographic when they were a kid and looking with utter fascination, disgust and wide eyed amazement at the shrunken heads taken by such tribes as the Jivaro of the South American Amazon? What kid hasn’t wanted one of those creepy heads for themselves?
You kidding? Where can I get one?
Replicas were so popular that hobby shops sold shrunken rubber heads with stitched lips and eyelids.
In former times, perhaps as little as one generation ago, two very different ethnic groups chose to
hunt human heads in Burma. One group are the Naga tribes of Burma’s north west whose settlements straddle the border of India. Particularly the Konyak Naga were feared for taking heads in combat as a way to display their fierce courage. Arrows were driven through the eye sockets to prevent the spirits from finding their way back home.
That is one impressive set of trophies on your wall, Buddy.
Beats the hell out of bowling.
The other group of headhunters are the Wild Wa from northern Burma bordering China’s Yunnan Province whose autonomous region boasted of whole villages whose walkways held human heads in various degrees of decomposition in stone lanterns. One such village was said to have an avenue of 300 such heads. Was it still there? Was it possible to visit? Of course I had to find out if it was possible to find them.
Years ago in 1984, I was invited to a meeting by Abel Tweed the Foreign Minister of the Karenni Tribe deep into the jungle close to where the Moei River meets the mighty Salween River. Four hours in an 8 wheeled truck led to a river bank, the last outpost before we needed to take a long tailed boat maned by armed camouflaged soldiers up the turbulent river.
Karen children ran on the banks amidst fluttering butterflies with lengths of yarn hanging out of their earlobes.
Arriving at the camp, I was told that every one of the rebel leaders was here at this meeting of the National Democratic Front. General Bo Mya of the Karen, Brang Seng leader of the Kachin Independence Army and Ma Ha San the Prince of Vinghun, the leader of the Wa.
I wanted to meet him and to ask him to write me a letter of introduction so I could take photos of the Wild Wa.
I was told who to contact.
Every member was there.
“And he is here?”.
“If you want to meet him now you can go along, he is staying in the house of my brother”.
Walking over to a bamboo hut raised on wooden stilts, I walked up the stairs and entered a room silhouetted with figures sitting cross legged around a small fire drinking tea. I sat down with my interpreter and was offered a cup.
Turning on my Sony Professional recorder I asked permission to record. What followed was a remarkable interview with Ma Ha San, President of the Wa, one of the last living headhunters.
For those of you who have my book “The Vanishing Tribes of Burma,” a new interactive edition has been published in Apple iBook. Utilizing the latest technology, we were able to combine 70 photos of more than 35 diverse Burmese tribal groups along with explanatory text from the Exhibition Edition which was launched by Nobel laureate Aung San Su Kyi in Rangoon and combine that with short audio clips of tribal music including the 11 minute interview with a headhunter as relayed above. Also the iBook has video clips of Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech, and my speech at the opening of the exhibition as well as a video of me visiting the source of the Worlds Finest Gemstones, Mogok Burma in March 2014
“…the abuse of evolution has a long and embarrassing history. The central problem that Tattersall and DeSalle highlight is the difficulty in reconciling binary Mendelian alleles (wrinkled/round, green/yellow, tall/short) to the quantitative and developmentally sensitive human organism, much less to its context-specific behaviors.”
“This problem has existed since the dawn of Mendelian genetics. In the early 20th century, America’s leading geneticists generally adhered to the proposition that people came in two Mendelian flavors, smart and “feebleminded”. Their arguments helped pass legislation to restrict the immigration of Italians and Jews into the US (1924) and to sterilize the poor involuntarily (1927), before the Germans even got the idea. Today’s abusers of Mendel are only slightly less crude, with genes “for” homosexuality, schizophrenia, aggression, or religiosity regularly touted, although with remarkably short scientific shelf-lives.”
Sent to me by Richard Diran (Burma Richard) with the following message:
“My friend Tooten the photographer printed this for me of the young Goddess the Kumari at her palace in Kathmandu Nepal with her pet rabbit.”
(Tooten is almost as interesting a rogue and a scholar as Burma Richard —look him up.)