Posts Tagged With: Italy

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIES PREPARATION FOR A VOYAGE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A view of Sacile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

F. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

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

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

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

Medicate You

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

Otherwise,
We might have to medicate
You.

In the ocean
A lot goes on beneath your eyes.

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

“I am independent from the
Sea,

God is not always around

Gently
Pressing against
My body.”

HAFIZ

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

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

 

 

 

TODAY’S PAINTING:

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Nude in Red by Roger Smith.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Keep on Truckin…

 

 

 

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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.)

 

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 17 Jo-Jo 0007 (May 31, 2018)

“In life, as in breakfast cereal, it is always best to read the instructions on the box,”

Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 405). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SACRAMENTO:

Days go by like a Cole Porter tune, smooth and easy with the hint of a Latin beat. The weather has been sunny. A slight breeze cools the air forestalling the blistering heat of the coming summer for a few more days. Every day, I drive from the Enchanted Forest into the Golden Hills for breakfast, exercise and my chauffeur duties with the Scooter Gang. HRM leaves for Thailand this weekend so my usual schedule will change somewhat. I plan to depart for Italy on the 17th of June. Professor Hank, who I will be traveling with from Venice to Croatia and on to Calabria, tells me we will be stopping for a few days in Puglia (where I have never been) to attend a party. I look forward to it.

Today it rained. I sat in the house, watched television and listened to Naida play “Sorrento” on the piano. Last evening it was Jerome Kern tunes. I also looked at old photographs of my family.

Memorial Day weekend arrived. The summer season begins. HRM left for Thailand. I am very sad. Two medical students at UC Davis moved into the empty bedrooms of the house in the Enchanted Forest. The women spent Saturday cleaning the two bedrooms to apparent ICU specifications and moved most of their belongings in on Sunday. I also watched innumerable old movies on the Turner Channel as I audited the move in. This seems more like ordinary old age than any adventure. Well, I guess old age is an adventure in itself. Isn’t everything?

In order to avoid terminal boredom, I decided to take the dog on a long walk to explore some of those parts of the Enchanted Forest I had not yet seen. It was mid-afternoon and hot. We soon got lost on the endless pathways. One thing I discovered during the walk was that children lived here. I had thought they were prohibited by the HOA like many other things such as cats, parking cars on the street, and altering the outside of your house. I was surprised, however, to find one of the 10 community pools awash with splashing kidlings. Anyway, we made our way back tired, exhausted (aren’t they the same?) and thirsty. We drank a lot of water and napped. Adventure indeed.

Recently Madelyn asked me where is home for me now. It reminded me of Josiah Bancroft’s observation, “‘Home’ is an exaggeration made true by distance.” In that case, my home may still be in Thailand, or the Golden Hills or the Enchanted Forest or Mendocino. Perhaps, it is the Gypsy in my soul or, I am a Tinker and my home is wherever I can sharpen edges or, perhaps where my heart is or perhaps hearth. Ha, my hearth has been lost to me for many years now (do we even allow hearths today?). I used to carry around with me a little metal statue of a Boar (why a wild pig?) that I had found somewhere when I was a child. I used to tell myself, “Home was where the pig was.” Alas, I lost that too a few years ago. I carry a tent and a sleeping bag in the back of the car. I consider that home also. I guess, a home could be where you keep your stuff out of the rain. You know “stuff” the accumulated detritus of your working life. I used to keep a lot of my stuff in several storage containers. I gave it all away almost 10 years ago now. Home used to be more or less your mailing address. Now it is your internet address — no-place but wherever you happen to be when the router finds you .

I guess the fact is for me now home is where those I love reside. That will do — even when I’m not there — I’m not homeless but multi-homed. Where do I sleep? Now that is a different story.

Today, I drove back into the golden hills. Pookie’s adventures, other than in my mind or with my body, recently seem to be limited to sitting drinking caffe latte in a Starbucks somewhere and then eagerly driving to another Starbucks. In between, I walk around a lake or through some woods for exercise. Nights, however, are quite pleasant — adventures of their own. I’m not complaining. At a certain age, one must take excitement how and where one finds it otherwise it becomes a chore. Even television has its moments. Recently I saw La Dietrich again — in a western this time. She was teamed up with a young John Wayne with Randolph Scott as the villain. I forget its title. Lots of people were shot.

While sitting at Bella Bru this morning I could not find my Smartphone. I suddenly felt as though I did not exist. Well, that’s not quite right. I exist, mostly. I felt more like my cell phone was my home and I was homeless. Perhaps I was lost. So, I returned to the Enchanted Forest and found my phone. Now I was no longer homeless or lost but I was left with a greater existential problem — why would something good for only upsetting me with fake news on Facebook and finding a cheap plumber be considered home? I have to remember to discuss this with Peter. He is very good with existential crises in the Age of Kali.

This evening the air was comfortably warm. We went for a walk along the American River.
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The American River

We found a spot on the bank that was not too damp and sat there watching the geese struggle against the current to get to the island they seemed to be nesting on. Across the way, a large group of adults and children were spending their Memorial Day afternoon splashing in the water or having picnics on the banks under brightly colored umbrellas. In the middle of the river, an old man was gracefully fly casting. We sat there until dusk then returned home.
IMG_4597

A few days later, I visited with my chemo-oncologist. He looked into my mouth for a moment, felt around my neck and declared me still in remission. Good for me. It was the first day that the air was so hot that it was unpleasant to be out and about. Summer’s arrived, I guess. Instead of exercising, I headed off to Starbucks for air-conditioning, coffee, and a breakfast of egg McMuffin with sausage. I stayed there for a few hours, reading my latest novel on Kindle (Red Sparrow) and going through Facebook posts.

On my way back to the Enchanted Forest, I decided to stop for a root-beer float. While ordering, I got an urge for a hot dog and ordered one. Half-way through the dog, a large piece of it got stuck in my throat. I began to spit and spew food and my root-beer all over the booth and the floor, gagging. “Oh my God,” I thought (or something like that), “I’m going to be embarrassed or maybe even die.” I tried to drink more of my root-beer float in hope that it would help. It did not. It just ended up all over the table as brown gunk. I looked around to see if anyone would come to my rescue. Fat chance. Everyone looked away. “Well,” I thought, “thankfully the hospital was nearby.” “But, if I can’t breathe I will be dead before I could get there” I realized. So I tried to breathe. I could. Hooray! “It’s stuck in my throat and not in my esophagus” I rationalized, “therefore I was not going to die right away of anything but terminal embarrassment.” I tried to swallow again — great pain. Suddenly, I felt a lump in my throat move. My throat was clear again. I sat there amidst the dripping bits and pieces of my hot dog spread all over the table and calmly resumed nibbling on what was left of my hot dog and finishing sipping my float. Then, I cleaned up the table and myself the best that I could, got up and walked out of the place with as much dignity as I could muster. Adventure is where you find it. I mean, choking on a hot dog and living is almost a good an adventure as being attacked by a lion and escaping, but is much easier to carry out. Instead of packing for a safari and traveling god knows how far to get to the place where I escape death, I only have to pull into a local fast food joint.

That night I watched an old “Boston Blackie” movie on the TV and then went to bed feeling it had been a day well lived.

The weekend approaches and I am off the Mendocino and the film festival.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

The Sermon on the Mount: The Christian Torah.

I have always wondered why evangelical and fundamentalist Christians or the Religious Right seem so fixated on the Old Testament, causing them to do annoying things like insisting the Ten Commandments be displayed in public buildings or choosing some provision in Leviticus to justify support or opposition to someone’s behavior that they do not agree with. After all, they claim to be Christians, and as Christians the Sermon on the Mount sets out the Law and rules of behavior for Christians much like the Torah does for our Jewish Brethren. Christ himself states he had come to perfect the Law not to abolish it and that the perfected law was contained primarily in the Sermon on the Mount. Therefore shouldn’t a good Christian insist the Beatitudes and not the Ten Commandments be posted at the base of the courthouse steps?

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:2-12

Of course, it would be unconstitutional. But, wouldn’t it be a good thing to see Christians start behaving like their savior asked them to?

And, shouldn’t those Christian ministers and priests, Rather than telling their parishioners what they must do, ask them instead to discuss among themselves something like:

If, a family, escaping war, famine or poverty washes up on your country’s shores without sustenance, what would Jesus do and why would you not do the same?

Alas, I have sadly come to believe that all too many American Christians are hypocrites. Dante, as I recall places hypocrites in one of the lowest circles of Hell.

The longest single episode of the Inferno, launched when Virgil confidently believes the promise of the devils guarding the fifth ditch, concludes when the travelers make a narrow escape into the sixth ditch and Virgil learns from a hypocrite that he has been duped (Inf. 23.133-48). Dante adorns the hypocrites in religious garb–hooded cloaks similar to the elegant ones worn by the Benedictine monks at Cluny (in France)–in accordance with the biblical condemnation of false piety: just as Jesus compares hypocritical scribes and Pharisees to tombs that appear clean and beautiful on the outside while containing bones of the dead (Matthew 23:27), so the bright golden cloaks of Dante’s hypocrites conceal heavy lead on the inside (Inf. 23.64-6).

I like that image of the Religious Right — all “heavy lead” on the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Among my favorite movies, a list that includes “The Princess Bride,” “The Iron Crown,” “Diva,“Fabulous Fabiola,” “Blazing Saddles,” and “The Godfather” is a little known and hard to obtain Scifi film entitled “Radioactive Dreams.” The protagonist heroes, two 19-year-olds named Phillip and Marlowe (Philip Chandler and Marlowe Hammer), had grown up in a fallout shelter after the world’s entire nuclear arsenal, except for one missile, had been unleashed. They had only 1950s detective fiction to read and swing music to listen to. They grew up wanting to become private eyes — “dancing dicks” as they put it. After leaving the cave they had lived in for 15 years and driving a 1950s muscle car convertible, they meet up with Miles Archer (a villainess played by Lisa Blount) and later with Rusty Mars (Michelle Little – a villainess who turns heroine). The movie could be described as one long music video featuring the clashing beats and rhythms of Swing/Early Rock and New Wave. It is also a detective story of sorts. Below is an interesting description of the film written by a crazed gamer.

Radioactive Dreams begins with two little boys getting whisked away by their fathers to an underground shelter right as the bombs go off. They stay there avoiding the nuclear war for 15 years with a nice supply of water and food until their fathers abandon them to the surface. After never hearing back from them they assume they’ve perished, so the now-19-year-olds dig to the surface and make their own way into nightmarish version of 2010. They are not prepared.

The Wasteland
The film opens in black and white with a 4:3 aspect ratio, until the kids open the door to their vault and color seeps into the film as the frame widens, much like a post-apocalyptic Wizard of Oz. As they drive through the desert wasteland everything is a rusted brown and orange color, one very flat — everyone knows the post-apocalypse will not be pretty.

The Pip-Boy
In Radioactive Dreams, the very first person they meet on the outside is wearing a Pip-Boy, of sorts. What better way to listen to old music than with some giant slab of metal and wires on your wrist, after all? It’s just strange that it doesn’t work as a communicator — she has the boys stop at a still-working pay phone (?) to place a call. But everyone knows that it’s the vault dwellers that come equipped with Pip-Boys, anyway.

An Amazing, Ironic Soundtrack
Our heroes Philip and Marlowe read Raymond Chandler novels (ahem) and listen to swing music to keep busy, which makes them grow up wanting to become “dancing dicks.” Thankfully they also have the period-appropriate 1940s suits to go with it. But after listening to all those old records in their shelter they aren’t prepared for the New Wave that’s sunken into the land deeper than the radiation from the bombs. It may not be “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” by the Ink Spots, but you have Lisa Lee’s “Eat You Alive” during a scene with cannibals and Jill Jaxx’s “Nightmare” kicking things off.

Radioactive Dreams also features what’s perhaps the best music video in cinematic history, and it comes out of absolutely nowhere fifty minutes in. Just imagine a normal film unfolding before Sue Saad suddenly jumps into frame and starts belting out “Guilty Pleasures.” It’s wonderful.

Mutants & Cannibals
What’s a wasteland without rad-crazed individuals roaming it, looking for victims? Pretty much everyone Philip and Marlowe run across wants to kill them, eat them, steal from them or all three, and their innocence from living a literally sheltered life soon gets shattered. Guns and axes get brandished pretty much right away and they are thrust into violence before they’re ready for it.

The Tunnel Snakes
Everyone knows the Tunnel Snakes from Vault 101. That’s them, and they rule. When our Radioactive Dreams heroes get to their first settlement they run afoul of some real greaser rockabilly types blasting rock’n’roll, particularly a mean guy who dresses in leather and has plenty of hair gel. You half-expect him to be a part of this gang.

Giant Mutated Rats
It’s quite a bit bigger than the mole rats we see everywhere in the Fallout wastelands, but everyone knows the effect radiation has on the local wildlife. It’s too bad that this guy’s appearance is so brief because it’s certainly a showstopper.

VATS
The end of Radioactive Dreams, which sees our heroes fighting with all of the above and more, is punctuated by a slow-motion gunfight. No limbs are targeted but multiple enemies get blasted out of windows, so clearly some turn-based aiming was happening.

About the only thing from Radioactive Dreams that isn’t in Fallout is a big dance number for an ending scene, but hey, there’s always room for DLC, right Bethesda?

A film that’s equal parts absurd and entertaining and features about six genres crammed into it, perhaps the worst thing about Radioactive Dreams is that it’s almost completely unavailable on home video. Released on VHS by Vestron Video, the film has still never seen the light of day on DVD or Blu-ray, which is criminal. Until some wonderful company re-releases it with the love it deserves (hey, it’s the 30th anniversary!), you can find a VHS at the below link. You owe it to yourself to hunt down Radioactive Dreams any way you can.
ALEX RIVIELLO https://birthmoviesdeath.com/2015/11/10/radioactive-dreams-the-fallout-movie-you-didnt-know-existed

Here is a cite to a poorly reproduced a cut version of the film. Unfortunately, the last — and in my opinion the best — scene in the movie is severely truncated. After the mystery was solved, Phillip turns to Marlowe and asks “Well Marlowe what do we do now.” Marlowe answers, “Now we Dance.” Then for the next 10 minutes, they demonstrate Marlowe’s tap-inspired “post-nuke shuffle” to the crowds of the city. It is unfortunately cut to a scant two minutes.
https://www.onemovieboxd.pro/stream-radioactive-dreams-full-movie-watch-online-v1-47342

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

1. Harriet Tubman:
2017_30_47_001_ht-postcard

Harriet Tubman, in addition to organizing the Underground Railroad, served with the US Army as a scout, spy, nurse, and soldier during the Civil War, leading a raid with the African-American 2nd South Carolina regiment that freed over 700 slaves.-

 
2. Cherokee Women:

Pasted Graphic

 

Cherokee women were very powerful. They owned all the houses and fields, and they could marry and divorce as they pleased. Kinship was determined through the mother’s line. Clan mothers administered justice in many matters.

Beloved women were very special women chosen for their outstanding qualities. As in other aspects of Cherokee culture, there was a balance of power between men and women. Although they had different roles, they both were valued.
http://dailynativenews.site/2018/05/8-truths-about-cherokee-everyone-should-know

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth blog ( http://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/inventor-america-exposure/ ) reproduces an interesting study entitled Who becomes an inventor in America? The importance of exposure to innovation. In it, the authors examined over 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records. They found:

First, children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families. There are similarly large gaps by race and gender. Data on test scores in early childhood suggest that differences in innate ability explain relatively little of these gaps.

Second, exposure to innovation during childhood has significant causal effects on children’s propensities to become inventors. Growing up in a neighborhood or family with a high innovation rate in a specific technology class leads to a higher probability of patenting in exactly the same technology class. These exposure effects are gender-specific: girls are more likely to become inventors in a particular technology class if they grow up in an area with more female inventors in that technology class.

Third, the financial returns to inventions are extremely skewed and highly correlated with their scientific impact, as measured by citations. Consistent with the importance of exposure effects and contrary to standard models of career selection, women and disadvantaged youth are as under-represented among high-impact inventors as they are among inventors as a whole.

We develop a simple model of inventors’ careers that match these empirical results. The model implies that increasing exposure to innovation in childhood may have larger impacts on innovation than increasing the financial incentives to innovate, for instance by reducing tax rates. In particular, there are many “lost Einsteins” — individuals who would have had highly impactful inventions had they been exposed to innovation.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Almost all the Peoples of the Book (except apparently for evangelical and fundamentalist sects) appear to agree on the theological foundations of charity: Catholic Social Teaching, The Social Gospel (Protestant), Tikkun Olam (Jewish), and Zakat (Muslim). So, I wonder why this is not the basis upon which ecumenism should be founded rather than upon resolving arcane theological disputes and ancient jurisdictional disagreements? It certainly would appear to be a better use of everyone’s time and probably much more important.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

Night and Day.

Like the beat, beat, beat of the tom tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick, tick, tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall
Like the drip, drip drip of the rain drops
When the summer showers through
A voice within me keeps repeating
You, you, you

Night and day you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me or far it’s no matter darling
Where you are
I think of you
Day and night, night and day
Why is it so that this longing for you
Follows where ever I go
In the roaring traffics boom, in the silence of my lonely room
I think of you
Night and day, day and night
Under the hide of me, theres an oh such a hungry yearning
Inside of me
And this torment wont be through
Till you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day.
Songwriter: COLE PORTER
Night And Day lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“I know of no country where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men,” Tocqueville observed. “Love of money is either the chief or secondary motive in everything Americans do.”

Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 85). Random House Publishing Co.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 Capt. Coast 0007 (May 10, 2018)

“Fiction is the art of telling entertaining lies for money”
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5). Penguin Publishing Group.
Happy Birthday George Dreaper and Niccolo Reffo. Happy Mother’s Day to all. Have a pleasant Ramadan. 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. MENDOCINO ON MY MIND:
On Tuesday morning, I emptied my room and packed up the car. I drove HRM to school. It was a sad parting for both of us. I have no idea when or if I will return to my part-time job as dedicated Uber driver for the Scooter Gang. He said that in my absence he would do his best to arrange transportation for himself and his cohort to the various skateboard parks and fast food restaurants, but I knew he was worried. I said, “I know you can do it kid.”
He stood for a moment on the sidewalk in front of the school, put the decal laden crash helmet on his head and hopped on to his tricked out scooter. I watched for a moment as he one-legged the scooter up the path to the school and then, I drove off.
I stopped in Sacramento for breakfast and stories with Naida after which I set off on the long exhausting drive to my sister’s house in Mendocino.
After a great dinner of tuna-burger covered in pickled cucumbers and ginger, I went to bed and slept fitfully. The next morning, I sat with my coffee and exhausted myself staring out at the yellow-flowered lawn and the sea and so, went back to bed and took a nap.
IMG_4330          The Morning View from the House on the Mendocino Headlands, 
 
         
But for some walks along the bluffs and through the town and eating, I spent the next few days mostly asleep. Tomorrow, I pledge myself to either hike through the hills above Big River or visit the Rhododendron exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.
So, off I went for my stroll along the bluffs above the Big River Estuary. I walked further than I planned. I kept walking along a path that appeared to climb constantly upwards. I thought I would walk to the top of the hill hoping I would have a great view of the river from there. But, I never got there. I walked and walked and still, the path climbed upwards, Finally, I gave up.  I turned around to head back and noticed the path behind me also curved upwards. How could that be I asked myself? I then realized the upward slope was an optical illusion. All the way back, I would trudge up the hill and after struggling for about a hundred yards or so, I would turn around and see the path behind me also climbing upwards and I would start giggling. And so, I made my way back exhausted but in high spirits (It takes very little to amuse me now).
IMG_4401
Pookie at the Big River
On Friday, I rushed back to Sacramento. A close relative of Naida’s had died in Oregon. I expected to either accompany her to the memorial service or to dog-sit her dog, Boo-Boo. For reason too complex to relate here, neither occurred and so, I spent Saturday in Sacramento. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I have entered it on my calendar as Joey’s Happy Day so that now I will remember and celebrate April 21 for as long as I live.
On Sunday, I returned to Mendocino. On that same evening, we had some friends of Maryann and George over for dinner. I enjoyed it very much. We ate Harissa chicken and talked a lot, told stories, laughed, discussed Mendocino art, politics, and gardens, the benefits, and evils of economic development on rural lifestyles, books we liked and politicians we didn’t, and reviewed the obsessions of our youth.
IMG_4405
George, Maryann, Marilyn, Bill, Nancy, and Duncan.
In many ways, coastal Mendocino County, by virtue of the coastal range making transportation difficult and separating it from the rest of the State, is as remote a community as a village on the Asian steppes. It has developed its own interests and obsessions, cultural identity and way of life. As a result, it resists change to that way of life, its environment, and its beliefs. I have seen this before in other communities and have found that often change is something best done slowly.
The next day I strolled through the town, shopped, took pictures had lunch at the Good Life Cafe with George and Bingo the dog and generally lazed around for most of the day.
B. SACRAMENTO AND SAN FRANCISCO ODYSSEY:
An Odyssey is generally considered a voyage or the travelogue that accompanies it— usually including some extraordinary adventure. There is also an odyssey of the mind where the mundane waxes magical like in Joyce’s Ulysses in which the humdrum became enchanting. Then, of course, there is the made-up odyssey, like the one I wrote about in a past issue of T&T where bandy-legged freak Ulysses has to explain to Penelope why he disappeared for twenty years and killed all her boyfriends on his return. As the goddess, Athena said of that short, sly, hirsute Greek, “He is odd I see.” (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/a-lengthy-digression-on-traveling-and-old-greeks/)
Anyway, I intend to approach the next few days as a mini-me-odyssey. Whether, it will be adventure filled, mundane or simply made-up, I am oddly eager to see.  (If you cannot see that I had fun writing the above two paragraphs, please skip them.)
On Wednesday morning, I set off for Sacramento. After a brief stop for cheap gas at the Pomo Pumps at the Robinson Rancheria near Clear Lake, I turned onto Route 16 through Cache Creek Canyon (Scylla and Charybdis?) a two-lane road to Woodland that I had never taken before. The road passes through a narrow valley running parallel to California’s great valley. Cache Creek, a pretty little stream, and the canyon it runs through, although not as dramatic as some in the Sierras is pleasantly attractive. The road passes through several tiny towns ( Ramsey, Guinda, Cadenasso, Capay, Esparto) — a few random buildings that would not qualify as a hamlet anywhere else (actually they are officially called, “Census-designated communities” whatever that means).
IMG_4441
Cache Creek
At its lower reaches, the canyon broadens into a small valley about a mile or two wide. There amidst the bucolic landscape of farms and ranches looms the monstrous visage of Cache Creek Casino an edifice that would not be out of place in Las Vegas (Cave of Cyclops?). I quickly passed by the giant structure not brave enough to explore the riches that may exist within.
IMG_4457
Cache Creek Resort
I arrived in Sacramento, strolled along the river, listened to some Cole Porter, enjoyed a sleepless night of contentment and delight (Circe?) and left the following morning for El Dorado Hills (The Land of the Lotus Eaters — or is that San Francisco?).  After a thoroughly frustrating morning and an afternoon shuttling the Scooter Gang around, I set off for San Francisco and Peter’s house where shortly after my arrival I went to bed.
The next day, Barrie, Peter and I joined my sister and George at the French Restaurant at which Peter and I usually have lunch when I’m in town. My sister had just received news that her cancer had not spread so we celebrated a bit.
Then back to Sacramento, a trip that took more than four hours.
A week of bliss passed — as could be expected memories of those times melt together into an indistinct mass. Joy is a timeless blur, anguish a distinct pulsing image.
After receiving a positive doctor’s report on my cancer recovery, I slipped back into the Golden Hills later in the week to resume my chauffeur and parenting duties, stealing off now and then to assist Naida in the production of her memoir.
The school year is coming to its end and the Scooter Gang members are busily planning their summer vacations as am I.
On Saturday, I attended the Cinco de Mayo party at Campus Commons. I  did not speak with the ex-spies who were there, but I did have an interesting conversation with a retired executive of Blue Diamond and managed to down two Margaritas without burning my throat.
One day, I strolled through Capitol Park with Naida. I love it there. We sat on the bench dedicated to B.T. Collins, a friend I had known since we were classmates together at Stepinac HS in White Plains NY. As a Green Beret in Viet Nam, he lost an arm and a leg. Returning to the US, he became Governor Jerry Brown’s chief of staff. He eventually was elected to the legislature. He was a lifelong Republican that every Democrat could support. While we sat there some tourists asked me what had he done to warrant a memorial in Capitol Park. I told them.
Time passes, I do not recall how long or what events transpired other than I have been deliriously happy. This morning the air was delightfully warm as I walked around the lakes at Town Center. It was that time of year where the flowers were the brightest and the leaves of the trees viridescent. It is the time just before the hills turn golden and the heat of the day rises from the ground forcing one to seek the shade of an oak or magnolia tree or an air-conditioned coffee house.
IMG_4465Morning at Town Center Lakes

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

I do not know whether or not the spate of Terrorism, sectarian violence and ethnic and racial bloodshed of the last decade is greater then it was in the past. I suspect modern communications make it appear more immediate and wide-spread than it actually is.
  Two questions arise in my mind. One is how much support and these individual terrorists getting from organizations who claim or endorse their actions? And the second is why do these individuals seem to buy into the particular ideology they seem to espouse?
As for the first, terrorists are mostly self-funded or have limited access to significant funds. Other than for travel, equipment, and rudimentary training, ISIL rarely funds those that shoot up a group of people in the name of Islam in some country remote from their main military bases. Similarly, the right wing and nativist killers here in the US and other countries who blow up government buildings, assassinate children in camps or schools, or gun down people at prayer usually have armed themselves even if pledged to some group or ideology.
So why do they do it? In fact, ideology is not particularly important in dissent, even when it escalates to mayhem. People pledge themselves to radical groups when they become, often for good reason, emotionally alienated from the society in which they live. People join radical groups because they wish to demonstrate their alienation. Sort of like teenagers who choose dress styles to mark their difference from the fashions and mores of their parents’ society.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

As I have mentioned in the past, one lives several lives: the day to day slog through your personal timeline; the life one tells oneself in the running comments in one’s mind while passing through that slog; one’s dreams; and for those who read a lot of fiction, the life of those tales as, over time, they meld into their own narrative. I read a lot of fantasy fiction so my narrative is often more like a steampunk fairyland than mundane life as we know it. I do not need to play VR games to experience that life. It has become part of me. For example:
October 15th— It has been ninety-three days since I last saw Marya vanish into the underwear bazaar, and forty days since I shook hands with Goll. The burn on my hand has healed, though it looks like a splot of candle wax dried upon my palm. It is strange to look at, strange to think that I will always have this mark with me now. When I consider the scars my friends have accrued, Edith’s malicious branding, Tarrou’s carved scalp, and Adam’s undone eye, I feel fortunate. Now, the port and weigh station tick along like two clocks. The station house is tidy as a library, and the autowagons run as regularly as the tides. I have Goll fairly convinced that I am Port Master Tom Senlin, a reliable man who is satisfied with his salary and his lot. He believes that I have forgotten my old crusade. 
A ship arrived today with a miraculous cargo. The captain himself escorted to the station the four waterlogged crates. He opened one, and showed me layers of straw packed about a crust of ice—ice!—which he had harvested himself, from the horn of a mountain, before flying to a port, not a sky port, but an honest oceanic port, where he took on his precious cargo: five hundred oysters. He pulled one of the horned shells from the ice pack to prove the oysters were still tightly closed and redolent of the sea. He deftly cracked it open with a pick and offered me the shimmering morsel to sample. What had always seemed peasant’s food to me before now was a capsule of a lost home and an old life … I have never tasted anything so wonderful. 
That captain walked away from the port with a king’s purse, which the port coffers quickly recouped and doubled after selling the treasures to a private cantina. But more importantly, that unpolished, unremarkable captain left me with the clear revelation that a man with a ship is capable of all sorts of miracles. If five hundred oysters, those most perishable of creatures, can be plucked from the sea and carried to the heart of a continent, unspoiled, is anything impossible with the advantage of a ship? What good is money? It can be skimmed and extorted, taxed and burgled! Tickets will strand you. Customs will rob you. I do not need money to buy passage upon a ship. I need a ship entire and my own. Let Goll think I have lost my resolve! I am determined. I will find her. 
I am going to take a ship.
Bancroft, Josiah. Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel) (pp. 242-244). Orbit.  

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
This is a blog about Olive Oil. Everything you would want to know and some things you would not think you would ever want to know. For example:
There’s something so thrilling about the Olympics that it’s hard not to be a huge fan. I’ve attended several Olympics in LA, Barcelona, and London.  While extensive media coverage dominates the airwaves, I don’t recall any of the reporters mentioning the importance of olive oil to the Olympics and the athletes.  Olive oil and the Olympics is a fascinating story with a deep history dating back to the beginning of the first games in Greece. In fact, the Olympic flame is still ignited using a mirror and olive oil.
Quick olive oil facts of the early Olympic games:  
Athletes competed naked.
Wrestlers used olive oil on their skin to reduce their opponent’s grip.
Runners were often massaged with olive oil before their race in the belief that the wisdom, power, and strength of the Goddess Athena would be bestowed upon them. 
 
While women could not participate nor attend, it was the duty of the priestesses to light the oil lamps in the temple of Zeus with olive oil.
Victorious athletes were crowned with wreaths of olive branches and were given an amphora filled with the finest precious and expensive olive oil
While athletes today strive for a gold medal, early Olympians competed for victory and “liquid gold
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Western Europe during the Middle Ages was the only society in history to prohibit their brightest minds from reproducing by forcing them into celibate religious orders if they evidenced the slightest curiosity or passion for knowledge, while at the same time encouraging the most sociopathic and violent to rule and breed at will.
It was this, along with cold weather, coal and an indifferent attitude toward personal hygiene, and not any pretense to superior intelligence that enabled their descendants to terrorize most of the rest of the world for the next 500 years.
C. Today’s Poem:
This poem by Ossian the Bard, written (and sung) during the High Middle Ages (about 1200 AD,) tells of the poet’s grief upon growing old.
The author of this is Ossian:
Long are the clouds this night above me;
The last was a long night to me.
This day, although I find it long,
Yesterday was longer still
Each day that comes is long to me,
Such indeed was not my wont.
Now is no fight, or battle-field,
No learning noble feats of arms
Without maiden, song, or harp;
No crushing bones or warlike deeds,
No studious learning any more,
No hospitable heart or board,
No soft wooing, and no chase,
In both of which I took delight.
Without the battle-march or fight,
Alas! how sorrowful life’s close;
No hunting of the hind or stag,
How different from my heart’s desire!
No trappings for our hounds, no hounds.
Long are the clouds this night above me.
No rising up to noble feats,
No mirthful sport as we would wish,
No swimming heroes in our lakes.
Long are the clouds this night above me;
In this great world none is like me,
So sad, how sad my case!
A poor old man now dragging stones.
Long are the clouds this night above me,
The last man of the Feine am I,
The great Ossian, the son of Finn,
Listening to the sound of bells.
Long are the clouds this night above me.
Find, O Patrick, from thy God
What our eternal state shall be.
Freed may we ever be from ill.
Long are the clouds this night above me.
D. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy:
The five stages of bureaucratic grieving are: denial, anger, committee meetings, scapegoating, and cover-up.”
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5) (p. 159). Penguin Publishing Group.
E. Giants of History: News from the Old Sailor.
I received the following from my friend Eric the Old Sailor/Pirate. I assume it is an email from a friend of Eric’s reminiscing about the old days when they were young and could bring down mountains:
Hey doc-tor    I downloaded Skype  just for you,  you part man part sea creature MOFO.  I’ve been telling Adoracion  about some of the outrageous things you’ve done like fixing the bottom of cruise ship in port or placing eleven ton jacks to inter lock  — I mean I watched that mountain come down.  I would sit on the deck of a friends house on the side of the other mountain across from all the work  Had good binocs.  Without them those trucks looked like toys going back and forth but get up close to them and the tires would be twice my height maybe more. The chant among our gang was  “What’s Eric do???”  and every one’s answer was  “I don’t know” 
I know a little about you and family having had dinner with your cousins in Bermuda   I asked them  “What does Eric do” and they said,”I don’t know.”  I think we agreed  Eric was a Pirate.
We are going on vacation May 4th.  Atlanta, Knoxville  Las Vegas  Home   Adoracion  has a filipina friends so if it’s sitting in the kitchen listening  to the ladies yaking away in tagalog, I’ll have to figure out how to take a short trip.   Bobby’s gone, Louisa can hardly talk and there’s no one else there.  SST same way, Sylvia is busy with her boyfriend. I don’t feel comfortable driving on the highways,  I can drive around the neighborhood, go to the store etc., but uneasy on busy highway.
We are alright.  carry on roller bag and  small back pack. that’s it, I told A,  “We ain’t tourist honey —  travelers, buy there or mail it back.”
I’m not as excited as I’d like to be.  I alway’s got excited about going anywhere.  Pretty nice here.  but I think once you get on the road it get’s interesting.  We are visiting a friend in Tennessee with a ranch and flys his plane off the back forty    
So it just dawned on me that Sukavit sits on water so it’s like you’re on a very big boat.  Just the once I was there it rained hard and I saw big fish swimming in the street. So Amigo, it’s time to have a cookie,   YEAH  YEAH! 
F. Xander’s Ruminations:
The scar I have with the best story is…actually two scarring episodes — first, two tiny scars from my awful vasectomy, done without waiting for anesthesia to take effect (OW!) and three days after which I spent days hiking for miles through Idaho Great Basin desert, doing bio/archaeo. surveys for testing a nuclear-powered rocket engine (!!) icing myself every chance I got; and the other, collecting rocks.
I was out in the Mojave Desert, miles away from even roads, when while whacking on a boulder to free a chunk of opal, I had a piece fly off and hit my left leg. After telling myself I was stupid, I kept on harvesting the opal when my leg began tickling. I looked down, and my sock was soaked in blood, as was my leg just below my knee, on my left calf.
Hobbling over to my car, I got out my first aid kit, only to find over a dozen empty Band Aid wrappers, thanks to my kids having played doctor with toy animals. The only thing usable was a needle and some black thread for making emergency repairs to my tent. Didn’t think I’d have to use it for emergency repairs to ME.
I held the cut together and stitched a lock-stitch at one end, tied off the knot, and did a second one at the other end. As I was doing the third, in the middle, it really began hurting like hell, and as for the other two stitches I was going to do, I said to hell with THAT, and left it at three. You can still see where that middle stitch broke a week later, when horseback riding with my kids at Rosarito Beach in Baja. But I survived. Actually a really nice scar and a pretty good job of sewing myself up.
You think that was easy? YOU try sewing yourself back together . . . and KNOWING you had to!

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

 

 

“As one of the people very much involved in the economic policy debates that followed the global financial crisis, I can vouch that Farrell and Quiggin’s description of the interactions between policymakers and economists rings true. As they say, policymakers often feel the need to find high-profile economists to defend their choices, even if they’re using these economists as a drunkard uses a lamppost: for  support, not illumination. Meanwhile, the prestige that comes from having policymakers who appear to be taking one’s advice is an important motivator for economists, and can tilt their (our) judgments toward telling people with influence what  they want to hear.”
Paul Krugman
Categories: April through June 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    32 Cold Tits 0007 (March 16, 2018)

“[I]nstinct was a word lazy people had come up with to make guessing sound like something more impressive.”
McDonnell, Caimh. Last Orders (The Dublin Trilogy Book 4) (p. 169). McFori Ink.  
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
It is Wednesday, March 7, HRM’s 13th birthday. On our drive to school this morning, he turned to me and said, “Yesterday I was a child and today I am a teenager. I liked being a child.”
The weather was mixed. I spent much of the morning trying to persuade myself not to exercise. I lost the argument and after a lot of grumbling, I managed to walk three miles around the lakes in Town Center. After that, I felt so good that I jumped into the pool for a 30-minute swim.
On my drive with HRM that morning, I sang and acted silly. I asked H whether he preferred me silly or grumpy. He answered, “It doesn’t matter. You’re silly whether you are grumpy or not.”
Before getting into the car this morning, H announced he wanted to put off his birthday party until Saturday when he was scheduled to go to the scooter camp in the Sierras. I learned then that I was to accompany H, several of his friends, and the other three fathers into the mountains to drop the new teenagers off at the camp until its was time to gather up birthday boy and his cohorts and retreat back down the mountain. Dick told me that later that evening, all four fathers were supposed to go to a western themed  Karaoke Bar. There we were expected to drink and sing.  I was told we would all dress in cowboy outfits also. I assumed they were joking.
IMG_4069.jpg
Hayden (in the hat) with his book if western poetry. Tall Jake holds the dancing chicken birthday card.
Days passed, things happened. When the weekend arrived, H and two of his friends had a campout in the redwood trees alongside the house. Dick was away at some earthquake preparedness conference and Nikki, Adrian and I spent time grumbling about life, but not too deeply.
IMG_4080_2
Tall long haired Jake in the top Hammock, Hayden in the middle and Graham in the bottom,
    My strategy to let things slide regarding travel plans for March and April worked. I still do not know what will happen but whatever I thought might occur will not and a few things actually resolved themselves. So, no lengthy travel plans are in the offing for the next few weeks. Hooray.
Yrrggh! —Everything from here on that I had written during the past four days suddenly disappeared from my computer for some reason. I am furious. How could that happen? I now have to recreate it from memory — something of which I am in short supply —
Let’s see — what happened next:
The weather cleared up for a day or so. Nikki and I went to the health club one morning. On Saturday or Sunday, we had dinner at Wanni’s restaurant, Thai Basil in Roseville.
IMG_4085_2
Adrian, Richard, Hayden, and Nikki in Thai Basil.
Nikki, Dick, and Wanni went on to the Western Karaoke Bar deep in the wilds of Loomis. I went home. Nikki had dressed in a leather jacket, a black cowboy shirt with elaborately embroidered designs in black thread and black buttons that sparkled like rhinestones in the light. I got it on good authority that at the Karaoke bar he performed a magnificent rendition of “That’s Amore.” Microphone in hand, he passed from the stage and into the audience. While crooning like Dean Martin, he stared into the eyes of several of the startled but appreciative aging matrons. No, he was not thrown out or beaten into sausage by the ex-hippies turned redneck husbands and boyfriends of the bemused ladies.
The next day, we went to Denio’s Auction (flea market) to play our usual game of “see who could buy the most useless object.” Often Nikki and I would compete over who would return with the most outrageous shirt. He preferred Mexican and I was more into Hawaiian. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to go to see “The Shape of Water” and thereby conceded the contests to the others.
As for Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” although I enjoyed it, I preferred the acting and directing in “Lady Bird” more. As typical in Del Toro’s movies, there was a short period of stomach-turning violence. Tarantino movies have a lot of violence also, blood and death everywhere but it is cartoonish with little regard to actual pain and suffering.  Del Toro’s violence on the other hand although briefer makes up for it by focussing in on the agony and anguish. I was surprised at how closely the story of this movie matched that of Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” — In a world of pain and despair, a damaged but innocent young woman enters into a complex relationship with an alien creature, dies violently but is resurrected into a far better universe — all very Catholic.
By Monday, Nikki and Adrian had left to return to wherever they go after they leave here. Following my morning exercises, I called the good/bad David. He lives in South Dakota now — in a little town called Andover. We commiserated about him sitting in his house staring at the snow while I sat on the porch in the golden hills enjoying the 70-degree sunshine. Later, I got on Google and David took me on a tour of the highlights of Andover — there were not many of them — the Lutheran church, the threshing barns, a post office, the railroad tracks and lots and lots of flat grassland with a few grazing cows.
I had an interesting dream last night. I seemed to be watching a movie and did not participate in the action. I recognized the main protagonist, a minor television actor whose name I could not remember. I seem to have come in during the middle of the story. The main protagonist was a pirate of sorts but had not always been so. He was preparing his band and some poorly equipped villagers to defend themselves from the expected attack. Although they were confident they could prevail in the conflict when their enemy showed up it became clear they would be overwhelmed. They agreed to a meeting with the opposition commander who proved to be an old friend of the hero (from an earlier scene in the movie that I had missed). The two friends agreed that the hero and his motley but competent crew would undertake a difficult and somewhat questionable assignment to lead a sneak attack on the commander’s enemy. I then woke up. It was raining again and after dropping HRM off at school and eating breakfast, I put myself back to bed and slept until the afternoon when it was time to pick up HRM again. And, so it goes in the waning years of my life.
The weather turned miserable again. I feel better, however.
News on the adolescent front: HRM’s march beyond childhood accelerates. He may have just graduated from the scooter gangs to the bicycle maniacs all in one day, putting him further removed from his past and mine. Our influence over his environment diminishes with each additional mile he can now place between us. I currently drive him to the skate park the outer limit of his universe.  In two weeks he will be riding his bike far beyond that.
The weekend approaches. Yesterday morning I listened to the heart-rending memories of a dear friend. Life has been described as a vale of sorrows. It is that for most of us — even living through the greatest Golden Age in the history of humankind and consider ourselves fortunate we have not had to experience sufferings like our predecessors in the past, most of us sooner or later experience unimaginable pain. Some handle it better than others and some worse. Some are able to smile through it all and some complain bitterly (I am of the latter group). Like it or not we are all riding together it the same Looney-Tunes cable car careening through the mountains, some cringing in fear, others filling themselves with hate over who they suspect caused them to be in this place, some laughing deliriously, some crying and some just stare at the sky, fist outstretched middle finger extended — but one thing cannot be denied, for most tomorrow  will be another day — And for me, the weekend begins and I intend to make it a happy one…
B. BOOK REPORT: STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT.
If you continue to read beyond this, you will notice (if I am able to reconstruct them from wherever this evil machine hid them) an excess of items of and about Sicily. The reason for this is because I have just completed reading a mystery novel entitled “Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions” by Mario Giordano. Surprisingly, the author is not Sicilian. He is German. A descendant of a Sicilian laborer who had left the Island seeking work and a better life in the Colossus of the North. The novel itself is no classic work of literature. In fact, it barely makes it as light summer reading. I liked it, however, because of the kind-hearted way it plunges into the history, landscape, and foibles of the people and places that I have grown to love.
The main conceit of the novel lies in the author’s alter ego, a young struggling writer recording, at the behest of his Auntie Poldi, her adventures, and misadventures in Sicily. Auntie Poldi a dipsomaniac, over-sexed, bi-polar, caftan-wearing, overweight, sixty year old widow from Bavaria who, after the death of her Sicilian born husband, buys a home in a small coastal village in Sicily in the shadow of Mt Etna where she intends to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.” Unfortunately for everyone, Auntie Poldi is also loud, pushy, nosy and her father was chief of detectives in some city in Germany. As a result, when she discovers, on the beach, the dead body of her part-time handyman, the handsome young Valentino, she drafts her dead husband’s three sisters and goes on a hunt for the murderer. Along the way, she also shags the handsome but mature local detective with the improbable name of Vito Montana.
Pookie says, “Check it out”
[T]he worst thing that can happen to any Italian male, especially a Sicilian. Economic crises, volcanic eruptions, corrupt politicians, emigration, the Mafia, uncollected rubbish and overfishing of the Mediterranean—he can endure anything with fatalism and a bella figura. The main thing is never to present a brutta figura, a figuraccia. Bella figura is the Italian credo. The basic equipment for this includes a well-groomed, unostentatiously fashionable appearance, a pair of good shoes and the right make of sunglasses. Above all, though, bella figura means always looking good, never foolish. For an Italian this is a must, not an option, and quite indispensable. It also means you don’t embarrass your fellow men. Impatience is unacceptable and direct confrontations are taboo. You share restaurant bills with your friends, don’t put your foot in it, never receive guests in a dirty or untidy home, ask no intimate questions, address anyone with a university degree as dottore, bring some dessert with you when invited to dinner and—even at the risk of rupturing your abdomen—finish everything on your plate. You put your faith in beauty and proportionality and try to make the world a better place. Sometimes you even succeed.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  
DAILY FACTOID:
The Sicilian language has no future tense.
(JP— It is scary to think about a culture that lacks the ability to express the future. It does have a special tense to express the remote past that has ended. Sicilians use it a lot in their conversations — Everything is in the present or the far past and there is no future.)
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A.  On Top —The Quotes of Steven Wright:
1 – I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 – Borrow money from pessimists-they don’t expect it back.
3 – Half the people you know are below average.
4 – 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 – 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 – A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 – A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 – If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 – All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.
10 – The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 – I almost had a psychic girlfriend, ….. But she left me before we met.
12 – OK, so what’s the speed of dark?
13 – How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?
14 – If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
15 – Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 – When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
17 – Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 – Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
19 – I intend to live forever … So far, so good.
20 – If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 – Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
22 – What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 – My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
24 – Why do psychics have to ask you for your name
25 – If at first, you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 – A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 – Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
28 – The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
29 – To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
30 – The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 – The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
32 – The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
33 – Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don’t have film.
34 – If at first, you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
35 – If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?
 
B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
While doing some research on things Sicilian, I came across the blog, “The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife,” (https://siciliangodmother.com/2013/02/12/sicilian-women-are-scrubbers/) It contains some amusing stories about the life of a foreigner (in this case a British woman married to a Sicilian man) in Sicily, especially regarding her relationship with her Mother-in-law whom she refers to as “The Godmother.”
One day, The Godmother came round to my house when I had just swept and mopped all the floors. She was wearing her black skirt and black blouse, which is what Sicilian housewives put on when they really mean business. She gave me a pitying, or perhaps critical, look and said,
“Oh, you poor thing! You must be so worn out with all this unpacking and organizing that you haven’t had time to clean the floor.”
“Erm, yes,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” she said, her nose already in the cleaning products cupboard she had given me as a housewarming present. “I’ll take care of it.”
She extracted a thing which looked like a broom with no bristles and then wrapped it in a cloth which she dipped in something that smelled pungent enough to make my nose run and proceeded to rub it all over the floor with so much verve I thought she might actually erode the glaze off the tiles. “That’s just given it a quick removal of the main dirt,” she said, as she got on her knees and proceeded to pull the plinth away from the fitted cupboards under and around the kitchen sink.
She put the steel strips on the balcony and then proceeded to remove the entire underside of the island unit as well. Not satisfied with this, she then prised all the knobs off the hob, did something that looked downright painful to remove the oven door and then turned the extractor fan over the cooker into no less than eighteen separate, yet almost identical-looking, pieces of plastic grille.
Whilst I was profoundly shocked to see her calmly pull my kitchen to pieces, I was also flabbergasted that she was actually able to. For my whole life, up to that point, I had believed you needed men with exposed bum cleavages to do that type of thing.
While I was still searching for appropriate words, she filled the sink with several potent products, which foamed and gave off a greenish hallucinogenic vapour, and put all the small components of my ex-kitchen in it. While I sat down to regain some breath, she filled a bucket with whatever the Mafia use to dissolve dead bodies away to nothing except a few gold fillings, and started rubbing it into the pieces of stainless steel plinth she had yanked off the cupboards. I had chosen a matt finish but she kept working away at each piece of metal until she had made it look like a mirror.
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I Heard It Through The Grapevine:
During 2016 Presidential nominating campaign there were two candidates who:
Declined to support sensible gun control regulation;
Received support from the Russians and;
Refused to release their tax returns.
D. Today’s Poem:
ISULA
Isula nascivu, isula vogghiu moriri.
Isula comu mi fici lu Signuri
cu li turmenti e li dulura
ma sempri abbrazzata a lu mari
e figghia pridiletta di lu suli.
Bedda tra li beddi sugnu
‘nghirlannata stati e mmernu di ciuri.
Curtigghiara, baggiana, ciaurusa
mi vestu di milli culura
e cu sta peddi di meli e di rosi
attiru lapuna d’ogni razza e paisi.
ISLAND
Born an island, I want to die an island.
An island, the way the Lord made me
with all its torments and pains
but always embraced by the sea
a favored daughter of the sun.
I’m a beauty among beauties
garlanded in summer and winter.
Plebeian, proud, fragrant
I dress in thousands of colors
and with this blanket of honey and roses
I attract drones from every race and place.
–by Lina La Mattina –translated by Arthur Dieli
E. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy II:
The iron law of bureaucracy dictates that most of the people in any large organization will, after a time, be more preoccupied with preserving their own jobs than with fulfilling the mission statement of the agency.”
Stross, Charles. Empire Games: A Tale of the Merchant Princes Universe (p. 322). Tom Doherty Associates.
TODAY’S QUOTE:
Sicilian men (of which I am one) prefer to discuss the minutia of history and almost anything else rather than answer a personal question and risk making a brute figura of himself. Here is an example taken from a novel I am reading:
“Uncle Martino talked at me without a break. He pontificated on Sicilian history, the source of the best pistachio nuts, Lord Nelson and the Brontë siblings, life in the Middle Ages, Frederick II, Palermo’s Vucciria market, tuna shoals, overfishing by Japanese trawlers and the mosaics of Monreale. He commented on Radio Radicale’s live broadcasts of debates in the Italian parliament. He lectured me on the Cyclops, the Greeks, the Normans, General Patton, Lucky Luciano and yellow silk scarves. On the only acceptable way of making a granita. On angels, demons, the trinacria, the truth about Kafka and communism and the relationship between physical stature and criminality in the male population of Sicily. His rule of thumb: the shorter the man, the more threatening and the more likely to be a Mafioso. That I scarcely understood a word didn’t bother him. My Italian was appalling—in fact it was practically nonexistent apart from one or two helpful swear words and che schifo, allucinante, birra, con panna, boh, beh and mah, which constituted an adolescent’s vocabulary on the beach.”
Giordano, Mario.Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
(JP- For those interested:
Che Schifo — how disgusting.
Allucinante — hallucinating, stoned
Birra — beer
Con panna — with whipped cream
Boh — I don’t know
Beh — I don’t care
Mah — maybe yes, maybe no
Facility with these few words will allow you to communicate adequately anywhere in Southern Italy and Sicily, but only if you also know how to gesture properly with your hands [see below]).
TODAY’S CHART:
Pasted Graphic
These are only a few of the gestures used in Southern Italy and Sicily. As with any language, it takes a while and a lot of repetition to learn. Failure to learn a language properly can lead to confusion and embarrassment. For example, after examining the chart, I realized that during my sojourns in Sicily I never quite understood the difference between What, where, why and you shitted your pants eh — much to my embarrassment in the cases where I have misused them and much to my annoyance is now realizing that I had failed to recognize when someone who I thought was asking a question was, in fact, commenting on my ignorance or worse.
Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    17 Papa Joe 0006

 

 

“True peace requires the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.”
Jemisin, N. K. The Dreamblood Duology. Orbit.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Today, September 21, It was cool enough for me to wear a long-sleeved shirt. Summer is officially over. I still don a Hawaiian shirt over my long-sleeved T-shirt to maintain a touch of color. In a few more weeks it will be jacket time again.

A few days ago, while walking around the lakes at EDH Town Center, a woman stopped me to comment on my wooden walking stick. I told her I was somewhat obsessed with walking sticks and used to have a fairly large collection before I gave them all away when I retired. She said her husband, who had joined us by then sporting a handsome hand-crafted walking stick, made walking sticks when they lived in Sedona. She said he made the one he was carrying out of Sedona hardwood. We discussed walking sticks and the beauty of Sedona for a while and then went our separate ways.
IMG_3417
On My Walk Through Town Center.

We had a small but raucous birthday party for Dick (Uncle Mask) on Thursday night.
IMG_3434

After the blowing out of the candles and the opening of presents, the evening ended in a long discussion about SWAC’s murderous brother-in-law who, along with another 6000 convicts, will be released from prison next month due to the Kings clemency in celebration of his ascension to the Throne of Thailand. The brother-in-law, who was also the mayor of the village before his murder conviction, has promised revenge upon SWAC’s family. Among the 8 or so killings for which he was suspected were the murder of his wife (SWAC’s sister) and SWAC’s brother a local cop. He blames her family for his imprisonment. Once, I arrived in that town a day after the Mayor’s opponent in the election was killed in front of the house I was to stay at.

Two days ago, I received my new hearing aids. While I am sure others have had similar experiences, I marvel at mine so far. I hear things I have not heard for 15 or 20 years — the rustle of some small critter in the brush as I walk by; the constant screech of birds unseen in the trees; the annoying clack of my walking stick as it strikes the pavement; the rumble of automobiles off in the distance. The soundscape fills my consciousness just like my visual environment does. As I take my morning walk, I sometimes just stand on the path swinging my head about trying to catch whatever made the most recent sound to capture my attention. I know the novelty will cease as soon as I get comfortable with my new ears, but it is all a pretty cool experience while it lasts.

 

B. A BRIEF TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO

On Saturday, I decided for my mental health to split from the golden hills and spend the weekend in SF.

I stopped in Folsom to have breakfast at IHOP. After breakfast, as I was walking back to my car, I was surprised by HRM tapping me on the shoulder. He told me that he, Dick, and HRM’s friend Jake had just arrived for breakfast. So, I returned to the restaurant for some coffee and conversation.

After they finished eating we left and I resumed my trip. It took me four hours of driving to cover the 120 miles from Folsom to Peter’s house in San Francisco.

At Peter’s, I had some more coffee and conversation with him and Barrie. She then left to monitor the Swim to Alcatraz event at her swim club on the Bay. Peter and I drove to a relatively new French restaurant in the overly gentrified Noe Valley for a late lunch and more coffee and conversation.
IMG_3435_2
Peter and I at Lunch

The next day, Peter and I left early and drove to Bernie’s. We met Don there and sat on the Old Men’s Bench in front of Bernie’s for coffee and conversation. Three old men in straw hats sitting on a bench reminiscing and telling stories. Then it was time to go. I left them to walk back home along 24th Street and got into my car for my drive back to EDH. It took only two and a half hours to drive back. That pleased me.

Coffee and Conversation — the glue that holds society together.

 

C. BACK IN THE GOLDEN HILLS:

I returned and resumed my daily swim in the health club pool, one half of my usual 30 or 40 minutes swimming laps and the other half running back and forth across the pool.
IMG_3430
The Blue Bullet-Head at the Pool

I have begun to get used to my hearing aids. The rustling of the bushes, clack of the birds and rumble of traffic now simply background noise. It’s a shame really. But, like traveling to some transcendentally beautiful spot on your bucket list and dreaming about living there, if you did live there, the beauty of the place would disappear from your awareness soon enough. Most likely, you’ll stop to enjoy the view less often than you look at television and certainly much less than you look at your smartphone. Sooner or later, you’d probably start dreaming about being someplace else.

When I take my hour-long morning walk around the lakes in Town Center, I always walk widdershins. Some of the other walkers I meet regularly walk widdershins also, while others walk clockwise. I noticed that, like me, those that walk widdershins always do so as do those walking clockwise. I assume there is a generalization that can be drawn from these observations. I also assume any such generalization would not be significant. Nevertheless, since I do not have earphones pumping loud music or the sound of someone reading a breathlessly suspenseful novel into my ears, I ponder things like this as I walk along. I am sure whatever the generalization is, it is more significant than “people are creatures of habit” and less significant than the fact that the rotation of the earth causes the water to swirl clockwise in the northern hemisphere when you flush your toilet.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

There was a time in my life when my daughter Jessica and I used to fly every year during the autumn to London for the theatrical season. We would also attend the New York theater season as well. Nevertheless, the sheer breadth of the offerings in London and the excellence of the acting were incomparable.

We attended the opening of Le Miserables and were left teary-eyed and at a loss for words. Of course, at the time, a number of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals were always running. We saw the opening of Starlight Express there.

Cats and the Phantom of the Opera we saw in New York. In New York, we usually got the box over the stage. During the performance of Cats,( Jessica was about eight years old at the time), we were surprised by a panel opening in the wall behind us. An actress dressed as a cat emerged, slinking out and crawling along the rim of the box. The cat meowed and encouraged Jessica to pet her. Jessica was thrilled.

In London, two shows stand out in my memory. One, Pirandello’s Henry IV with that aging Enfant terrible Richard Harris in a stunning performance left us breathless. The other memorable production was the musical Return to the Forbidden Planet. It was a musical spoof on the movie Forbidden Planet that starred Leslie Nielsen during his early years as an action hero before he discovered he could make more money as a goof-ball.

The musical featured a host of 1950 and 1960 Rock and Roll tunes including “Mr. Spaceman,” ”Monster Mash,” “Great Balls of Fire”. “Johnny B. Goode,” “Telstar,” “Good Vibrations,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Who’s Sorry Now?”, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Only the Lonely,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and many others. By the end, everyone in the theater, including us, were dancing in the aisles and some even had climbed onto the stage to dance with the actors.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

100,000 BP (Before Present):

As the last Ice Age impacts the world lowering sea level and leaving vast areas that were submerged now accessible, the diet of Homo sapiens began to include fish and seafood. Some scientists theorize that fish oil was key to the growth of the brain of Homo sapiens. Evidence suggests that no other hominids such as Neanderthals, who had been well established in Europe since at least 500,000 years before present, ate fish. (See Broadhurst, 2001.)

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Peter on Top:

Peter’s observations on Bill’s comments regarding my tendency to rant when under stress:

Five minutes and a candy bar would take care of the rants — except for the recently arrived young man who, after ten days at the old SCC sadly admitted that although the work and situation and your leadership were exciting, he just couldn’t put up with the Rants, notwithstanding your inevitable rapid return to calm and humor and no recriminations within minutes. Dennis and the rest of us knew better.

My response:

The rants were my way of releasing anxiety. To Southern Italian-Americans from NY, this was a fairly normal reaction to stress. It got the fear out of our systems before we did something really foolish.

Eventually, I realized I had to do something about the pain I was causing innocent people like the young man. So, after several profitable, if not especially rewarding years with various law firms, I got my analyst to prescribe happy pills for me. They made me more mellow but absolutely worthless. I was then faced with the choice between stopping the pills and remaining a raving but successful asshole or continuing with them and becoming a benign parasite. I chose the latter. I feel much better for the choice.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

One wonders if pursuant to Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang is simply consciousness observing The Singularity.

And, if like me, you question the existence of God or a supreme consciousness, then do you wonder if our understanding of consciousness or observation is faulty?
C. Today’s Poem:

In the desert, I saw a creature, naked, bestial, who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it. I said, “Is it good, friend?” “It is bitter—bitter,” he answered; “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.”

Stephen Crane, The Black Riders, and Other Line

 

D. Aftermath:

The following is an email from a friend of the Old Sailor describing life on St. Johns after the hurricane.

the whole island is a Catastrophic mess…
it is really hard to believe…
Just trying to save things for now… there are 5 of us living together…eating well & sharing laughs…
Putting on different meaning on what’s important in life…definitely roughing it…taking one day at a time…will move back to town once they get power…& need a roofing on 2 cottages…
Will stay in touch the best I can..

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

From my daughter Dr. Jessica E. Petrillo Ph.D.

I am a Ph.D. virologist. I was always interested in why things work; the opportunities I had through school enriched my love of science. I pursued a Ph.D. in Virology not to study one aspect of one virus — but to gain the skills and understanding to help make real what science is: for the people, by the people. I have had the amazing good fortune to do just that. For the past eight years, I have used my scientific knowledge and training in critical thinking, strategic planning, and communication to promote global health security in unique and innovative ways. This is my investment in the future — for all people. My hope is that today folks take a moment to embrace science as one of the many facets (creativity, annoyance, beauty, work) that makes us… us, and that makes life… life. From star wars to soap bubbles, baking to basketball we are scientists at heart.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Sunrise over the Foothills

 

 

 

 

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Papa Joe 0006 (September 21, 2017)

 

 

Pee Wee Herman is the metaphor for our generation — a happy life in a children’s playhouse exposed in the dark theater of history.

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RICHARD McCARTHY AND ANN VITA.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I have settled back into life in the golden hills — Drive HRM to school, have Breakfast at Bella Bru Cafe, a three-mile walk around the lakes in Town Center, and an hour or two exercising and swimming at the health club. After lunch, I return to the house and secrete myself in my room reading or what-have-you until it is time to pick up HRM again. Evenings are the most difficult times.

The doctor has given me some additional medicines to bolster my happy pills and to assist me in gaining back some of the weight I have lost. I think it is too strong because it makes me tired all the time and even more dizzy when I stand up suddenly.

Things at the house in EDH have descended into a series of grimaces, silences and feigned ignoring of one another’s presence. Meanwhile, I continue to plan for whatever comes next while HRM slowly descends back into the emotional vortex from which Richard and I thought we had rescued him. On the other hand, he is on the brink of teenager-hood.

One day, on a Sunday, I believe, Stevie and Norbert came by to take me to lunch and to accompany them to Lone Buffalo Winery near Auburn to pick up their wine club wines. I had been feeling a little down and it was good to see them and do something other than hanging around the house of the health club.

We had lunch at an outside table at the Bistro, a slightly upscale restaurant in Town Center. Perhaps the lethargy I felt for the past week was due to a new medicine my doctor prescribed. Anyway, I was not much of a lunch companion. After lunch, we traveled to the winery and picked up the wine. They returned me to The house in EDH where I ate a dinner of leftovers with HRM while the adults sat down for a formal dinner. It was sort of a Dickensonian experience.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Red Sails in the Sunset

It was autumn in Paris. We walked down Rue de Grenelle on the left bank, my arm around her shoulders. She wore a long checkered coat. We stopped to look into the window of a shop selling antique playing and tarot cards. I pulled her towards me. We kissed. We were very much in love. We stood there arms entwined gazing at one another. She was very beautiful.

That was the point when, last night, I realized I had been dreaming. I could feel myself being pulled away into wakefulness. My dream me cried out. I, however, felt no tears. I lay there in bed the rest of the night unable to get back to sleep. It had been like a reverse nightmare, waking up was the horror.

The whole thing reminded me of a poem I had written many years ago when I was much younger and living in Rome. I fancied myself a poet then (more a lifestyle than a profession). I lived in a small pensione on the top floor of a building on a side street just off via Nationale across from St Paul’s within the Walls, the major American Protestant Church in Rome. In the evenings, I would sit in my room by the open window and listen to the then love of my life, practice on the piano in the church rectory where she lived having been sent there by her exceedingly wealthy Danish parents to study music at The National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome. She was exceptionally beautiful, an accomplished musician, a doper and a bit of a groupie, especially attracted to bass fiddle jazz musicians with lots of hair.

Eventually, her family felt she was spending too much time with a certain Italian-American drifter and called her back from Rome to marry someone more appropriate. She is now Chairman of the Board of a major subsidiary of the family’s shipping empire. Sic transit Gloria.
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Anne Moller

In Rome during the late 60s, I hung out with a group of ex-pat would be poets none of whom ever made it as poets (one became a high school teacher in Santa Rosa) and a few con-man who also to my knowledge never made whatever it was they were hoping to make. In ex-pat communities world over, there are always a lot of those on the con. How much less interesting would the world be if there were no cons and no grifters to fashion them.

Movies often tend to make the grifters happy-go-lucky sociopaths, sometimes even with a heart of gold. Although they smiled a lot, most of the sociopaths I knew were anything but happy go lucky and as for their hearts, it was far more likely they were lined with lead.

The poem itself was part of a lengthy piece most of which I no longer recall. It was lost many years ago along with all my other attempts at turning doggerel if not into gold at least into something useful like molybdenum. Pretentious Imagist drivel, it went like this:

The wanderer travels not by hook
But sprawled upon the empty tides
Of fairy world and real
And the sham cult darkness lie that was
Yet will not be
Marks its passage on nothing
But cognition.

The entire poem ended with perhaps one of the more tragic images in all of literature, “Red sails returning.” The image comes from the story of Tristan of Lyoness and Iseult (Isolde) an Irish princess.
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Tristan, before embarking from Cornwall on his latest war in Ireland, promised his beloved Isolde (Iseult), that upon his ships’ return, if he were still alive, he would unfurl his white sails but, had he died, his men would put up red ones.

Upon word of the ship’s approach to the harbor, Isolde sent her handmaid to the top of the tower to report what she sees. Tristan, still alive, orders his men to unfurl the white sails. Unfortunately, the sun was setting at just that moment causing the sails to blaze a bright red.

When the maid returned from the tower, Isolde asked her the color of the sails. “Red” she answered not knowing the significance of her response. So, in sorrow and despair, Isolde killed herself as did Tristan when he discovered his beloved’s body.

I always have envied Tristan in part because, as far as I know, there have been very few people who longed for my return even when I just only left the room.

It should be noted, there are several versions of the Tristan tale many of them that differ substantially from what I have described. In some, it is Tristan who dies after mistaking the color of the sails on Isolde’s returning boat. In a few, the colors of the sails were white and black. In others, the Isolde waiting in the castle in Cornwall was not the beloved Isolde, but Isolde of the White Hands, T’s wife who was waiting for him in Brittany. It seems that while T and the beloved Isolde were playing hide the salami, she was married to Mark the King who was also T’s boss. Eventually, the lovers agreed T would go away because, in part, they both liked Mark the King and felt bad about what they were doing, but mostly because Mark the King was the King and if he found out what they were doing he would cut off their heads as well as other important parts of their body. So T left and married the white-handed Isolde because he liked her name and she had a castle near the water.

Frankly, when T returned from his slaughter of his Irish kinsmen and found white-handed Isolde dead due to a mistaken perception, he really was not too broken up about it.

There are also many versions of how T died. Some have him poisoned, probably by a jealous husband, and others have him chopped to bits in the midst of one of his ethnic cleansing jobs. I, on the other hand, believe he died in a bar fight with some lesbian bikers in Pocatello Idaho.
Pasted Graphic 8

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Remarkably, you can take this information—which describes the order of the bonds of guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine to a sugar and phosphate group—and plug it into a machine that will recreate the DNA by dripping nucleobases one by one into a solution.”

“Researchers have e-mailed text files across the Internet, uploaded them to DNA replicators, and then dropped the DNA copy into “blank” cells, which have then started up and become identical versions of the original organism.”
Mayne, Andrew. The Naturalist (The Naturalist Series Book 1) (p. 72). Thomas & Mercer.

(Can this be true?)

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

A corporate CEO can best be described as a person exhibiting dynamic and imperious behavior set in an imaginary universe.

 

B. Today’s Poem:

Centre of the Universe

Every dawn as you open your eyes
objects
are awake
this lamp
this book
this flask of tea
this desk and pencil and matchbox
these are the center of the universe
gathered in a house that doesn’t belong to you
Iraj Ziayi — born in 1949 in Rasht, north of Iran. His family moved to Talesh, a small town on the Caspian Sea when he was 4 and Iraj spent his childhood in a beautiful environment surrounded by forest, mountain, and sea. His family later moved to Isfahan where Iraj went to high school and joined ‘Jong-e Isfahan’ circle, a group of influential writers and poets.

 

C. Comments on past issues of T&T:

 

1. From Bill.

Wow, Joe, you have really mellowed. I started reading your screed about the coastal program expecting a good Petrilloish rant. There was not even a four-letter word. I am most grateful to you that you thought, based on my law school journal summary of the ’76 Coastal Act, that I might know “what the fuck the Coastal Commission was supposed to do” after the passage of the ’76 Act. You downplay your immense contribution to the protection of California’s coast at that critical transition from the Prop 20 coastal program to the ’76 Coastal Act in your brief summary. You were the perfect creative personality to ramp up the Coastal Conservancy. You were bold and aggressive when taking risks were essential to launching a conservancy program. There are several places on this coast that under your leadership the Conservancy helped restore and enhance — not to mention some of the ill-advised, short-sighted development proposals that the Conservancy purchased and reconfigured and somehow got approval from the Coastal Commission that you helped to transform. (Not that you were always pleasant to deal with at that time in your career or life.) I am most grateful for the start you gave me and the trust you had in my abilities as you helped me get my foot in the door at the Coastal Commission. Despite your impatience with those of us who did not get your brilliance at times, you are one of the most creative individuals I have ever known or worked with. You are also one of a handful of individuals that made the difference during that transitioning era. It was a good run. Thank you.
My Response.

Thank you. I need to point out, however, that your lifetime commitment to the environment and the success of your endeavors put my meager contributions in their shadow.

3. From Harvey.

Had to take time from this once in a lifetime experience to say: “There will never be another ‘Knights’ tale that comes close to the original! The ‘Heaven’ gathering was a sham, the names unimaginative, the events uninspiring & nothing more than a sequel- and they all turn out the same!”. And it’s old news!
Back to the important stuff.

 

3. From Ruth:

Was that really your last trip to Thailand? Hard for me to imagine. I remember your anticipation of your first trip and what a thrill it turned out to be. How will you amuse yourself instead? And what about the people there?–which reminds me that I never found out the actual name of the woman you refer to as “the little masseuse.” She’s a person, Joe, not an object–at least I hope she’s not just an object to you. She must have a name.

 

My Response.

It is an old Sicilian tradition to give people “nicknames.” We think it personalizes the person more than the name of the particular saint they were burdened with at baptism. Most of the nicknames were not necessarily demeaning (e.g., Nicholas [cockeyed Nick] Rattini, a mob boss of my youth). In Thailand, almost no one uses their given name, often adopting different names depending on circumstances. Anyway, her given name is Kesorn. An attractive name, but one that tells nothing about her.

 

4. From Peter.

Glad you survived the trip back from Thailand. Clearly, your vividly descriptive saga is publishable via this era’s document replacing The Lost Planet. Try to get it out there: “The Blog of Nightmare Travel” or sumpin like that. I expect it will generate much uproar in the travel world, even invitations to go on Weekend Update. I can almost feel the combined exhaustion, fury, frustration, and yet the perverse “anthropologist’s fascination,” re the latter, especially the phenomenon of someone, in each of the successive dreary situations unfolding, suddenly materializing amidst the confusion and escorting you precisely to your desired but to you invisible next point in the journey — hotel, plane. Could be a take-off on The Odyssey: Odysseus Petrillo making his way past the sirens, cyclops, and all those other chapters/stanzas — can’t remember them, I’m 78 – after much Sturm und Drang, back to, not Athens, but EDH!

 

More Peter.

These days I do my own version of walking: As I did several years ago first time recovering from hip surgery, walking up and down the hall every hour. Today, for the first time since the surgery on Aug. 8, I ventured out, making it to Bernie’s and back home without mishap, not really needing the cane but having in case. Thus, the wonders of the “anterior approach” to hip replacement, which avoids slicing and dicing the muscle groups thus resulting in a quicker surgical procedure, out of the hospital in a day, and recovery expected in 4-6 weeks instead of 12 weeks. This approach was in use in Paris, France 60 years ago, and is only now in regular use here within the past few years. Guess the wonder years of America’s Golden Age are long past.

 

D. From the Old Sailor on the Death of his Friend Augie.

to be part of his journey has been an adventure…
to be part of his life has been a priceless gift…
there is no perfect life…
but we fill in with perfect moments…
death leaves a heartache
no one can heal;
love leaves a memory
no one can steal.
saying goodbye to a loved one is
surely one of life’s most difficult
tasks. there are no words powerful
enough, no music soothing enough,
to ease the pain at a time like this.

I shall miss my dear friend Augie, from whom I’ve learned so much. But I
know his life could not have been fuller, and I draw comfort knowing he died on his
own terms with courage, grace, and dignity. None of us could ask for more.
Good life, good death through control and choice.
I loved Augie not because of who he was, but because of who I was when I was with
him…to the world he may be only one person, but to me, he was the world…
maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one,
so that when we finally meet the person, we will know how to be grateful.

I don’t want to cry because it is over, let me smile because it happened…~Sylvia

born May 15th, 1930 transition on January 20th, 2016

Great guy. Friend. Of. Hari. Donut. ,, Hawaii

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
—T. E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Taken by the Original Bill Gates on His Bucket List Trip to Africa this Month.

 

 

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Shadow 0006 (June 22, 2017)

 

 

“Almost everyone would be rich if great wealth came to people from hard work.”
(Someone, I do not know who)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SACILE, TAMAI, AND VENICE:

 

Sacile and Tamai

On Saturday, Vittorio and Teacher Brian intend to go off on a 30 hiking pilgrimage from France, through the Pyrenees Mountains, and across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela a journey of about 500 miles. Their friend Marco decided to hold a bon-voyage party for them at his house.

Both Vittorio and Brian are accomplished hikers. Vittorio hikes 20 kilometers several mornings a week. Brian, an American originally from South Dakota, who now teaches physics and other sciences to high school students at the nearby American military base (hence the nickname Teacher), has an interesting back story about his commitment to hiking. When he was a young man serving in the military he was diagnosed with a large growth in his lower spine. After its surgical removal, it was feared he could never walk again. But he did and now hikes regularly through the Veneto plain and the pre-alps.

Anyway, we gathered at Marco’s for the party. I was pleased to see Professor Hank and his wife there. He is a professor (hence the nickname) of economics at a college in New Jersey and used to teach the same at the military base. Like Teacher Brian, he and his wife have a home in Sacile and spend summers there.

The dinner, in good Italian style, lasted from 7:30 when we arrived and until 1 AM when we left. It began with Prosecco, moved through Thai main courses (Vitorio’s wife and several other people there are Thai) and finished off with Italian pastry, sweets, liqueurs and cherries marinated in grappa. It was a truly multi-cultural meal.
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Professor Hank, a thoughtful gentle man whose company I find extremely enjoyable. As usual, when he and I get together, we talked about many things including the possibility next summer of he and I traveling together to visit his friend who lives in Marshall Tito’s old villa on the Ischia coast of Croatia. Thereafter we would take the ferry to Bari and tour Calabria, his wife’s birthplace. After that, I could go on by train to Sicily and visit Antonio and my family before setting off to Thailand. This excited me because I had hoped to take a similar trip this year but had to cancel it because I had not yet fully recovered from my treatment.

 

Venice

On Monday I set off to Venice. I wanted to see how the Biennale exhibits had changed since I visited there almost two years ago.

Although I visit it often, Venice is not my favorite city. Perhaps, it is because of having read Thomas Mann or seen the movie made from his book. Perhaps, I am terrorized by people who creep about at night in masks and garish costumes. Perhaps, it is the signage for the route back to the train station that always seems to lead me through a section of the city I had never visited before, usually, one that I never even knew existed, and lose me there (this visit was no different). But mostly I think, it is because I have never eaten a good meal in that city. Despite whatever it is that puts me off, I still find myself returning again and again and happy I did so.
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Back in Sacile and Tamai

The rest of the week included trips to the markets, mornings and evenings in the cafe’s talking with Hank, Lucia and others. I marvel at how these few people, Vittorio and Anita, Lucia, Professor Hank and Teacher Brian have become such close and important friends of mine despite having first met them only a few years ago and having visited with them only briefly since. I consider them as close and as dear friends as any I have made in my life.

On my last full day there like my first, I accompanied Vittorio to a nearby town where he marched with his band in a religious procession. Although growing up in Tuckahoe where religious processions were common, I have rarely seen them since then. Along with the procession, the town held a soccer tournament and hosted a dinner beneath a grand tent where I watched some men play “scopa” (a popular Italian card game) well into the evening.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

On Friday, Vittorio drove me to the train station for my five hour trip to Rome. The train ride was uneventful other than when somewhere in the middle, I noticed my suitcase was not where I had left it. After some frantic searching, I found it at the opposite end of the car. The car itself was full of American college students on their way from Venice to Rome so I guessed it had been moved to make room for their mountains of luggage and backpacks. I otherwise dozed, read, or watched the hill town pass by my window. Sometimes, I tried to guess their names and recall if I had ever visited them.

Having lived in Rome for three years back in the late sixties and early seventies, I consider it my home. There are four cities I think of as home; Rome (and Sabina), New York City (and Tuckahoe), San Francisco, and Bangkok. I have lived for a considerable length of time in all of these cities. Whenever I return to any of them, I find myself just as happy sitting quietly or strolling around as I would in some more energetic or social activity; so it was with this trip. I am still too weak and ill for anything more than the briefest of walks. Nevertheless, on Saturday morning I ambled to my beloved Borghese Gardens and sat on a bench near the magnificent Borghese Museum that as usual had sold out its tickets for admission about a week in advance.

I sat where I usually do, on a bench near the accordionist. I have been coming here for about 10 years now and sitting on that bench listening to him play. He bills himself as “The Ukrainian Organist,” but I suspect he is just an ordinary Slavic accordion player. He plays light classical music which I always felt had been written specifically for sunny days in a park with breezes rustling the leaves of the trees, filtering the sunlight and dappling the ground in shadow or destined to be stolen by some modern musical comedy composer caught in a momentary lack of inspiration. Today alas, he, the musician, seemed distracted. He’d play only a few bars of a piece before jumping on to another. Even his piece de resistance the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach(what the phantom of the opera plays in his grotto under the Opera House whenever he has agita) seemed forlorn and discordant — at least, more so than it usually sounds.

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The “Ukrainian Organist” at the Borghese Gardens

On Sunday my delightful cousin, Federica picked me up at my accommodation in the Castro Pretoria section of Rome. She first drove us to the “Quartiere Coppede a fantastical mix of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Mannerist, Medieval, and, overall, Art Nouveau mixture created by the mostly forgotten architect Coppedè in 1919.
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Fede and Pookie Footloose in Rome.

After that, we drove out to Sabina where we had a great lunch with her parents and another cousin Andrea.

Lunch was the typical 3 or more hour affair. It began with kisses and hugs all around followed by the antipasto. I do not recall all the ingredients included in the antipasto but I remember fried zucchini and potatoes, tomato and peppers (or perhaps just red peppers) and olive oil on a lightly baked breaded cracker of some sort, I think. Small mozzarella balls, mixed vegetables, and cantaloupe with Parma ham. The pasta course contained cold Ziti (?) mixed with vegetables. Then we had turkey involtini and a salad. A fruit compote followed by ice cream cake (chocolate) made up the dessert —followed, of course, by coffee. This was all accompanied by interesting conversation and a very good chilled white wine that I, unfortunately, was unable to drink more than a sip.

We also spent some time looking at old family photographs and watching the finals of LeMans on television. (Andrea is service manager for Ferrari and had a professional interest)
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The Cousins and me

After the lunch, Fede drove me back to Rome and the next day I set off for Thailand.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently my daughter, who is a scientist herself, expressed her concern about the anti-science mania rampant in our body politic. For example, there is distrust of the findings of almost every scientist who has produced a peer reviewed article regarding climate change. Not only is this response unscientific it is irrational as well. What is the down side to moving to renewables and lowering our carbon footprint? Even if all these scientists were ultimately proved wrong we still would have a better world.

The issue is financial and political, the understandable reluctance of those few individuals and institutions who believe they own the wealth of hydrocarbons yet untapped to surrender their prospective fortunes. But who owns the billions of years of accumulated sunlight trapped in the ground— certainly not those few. At best, they have a revocable contract to invest their funds in extracting those resources in exchange for a reasonable return on their investment. It is not a scientific issue.

There is a similar negative and unscientific reaction also to things like GM crops. GM is merely a more efficient and safer method of improving crops than the radiation method we have been using for the last 100 years. Yes, there is probably not a single bite of food that you eat today that has not been genetically modified. Almost anything conceivable produced by GM can be produced by other means, but probably not as efficiently at this time.

The problem is not a question science or safety, but of adequate regulation and those who would subvert that regulation. Nevertheless, there remains those who are fearful of putting their safety in the hands of others and try instead to stop or deny the science. Although, I for one having been intimately involved in difficult regulation from all vantage points, am sympathetic with their concern, nevertheless, I believe the worst of all options is to try to halt the growth of knowledge through Luddite over-reaction.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Remember,” he said to the two beloved faces crowding the carriage window. “No drinking out of wet glasses. No betting on slow horses. No—” The jokes died in his throat. “Oh, Jesus God Christ, what am I going to do without the two of you?” He turned away, bleak with loss.
Delaney, Frank (2009-10-13). Ireland: A Novel (p. 226). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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The interesting thing to note about this chart is that almost all the non-stressful careers are in engineering and are relatively highly paid, while most of the highly stressful jobs are dangerous or low paying or both. So, one would think, if you are young and looking for a career you should head off to engineering school.

 

Alas, here in America over the last score or so of years, we have been closing our engineering schools or being forced to fill them with students from other countries. Yes, the continued health of our modern technological society depends on the despised immigrants. Apparently modern white American males shun the hard work required to earn an engineering degree. And yes again, engineering in America has been often seen as a male only profession. Perhaps, it is the time that American woman should be encouraged to flood the remaining engineering schools and begin taking over this sector of our economy. Obviously, the men find it too difficult. Maybe, that well-represented tee-shirt slogan should be amended to read: “A woman’s place is in the House, Senate and in engineering school.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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The Mormons believe Native-Americans are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Anthropologists argue over whether they are descended from East-Asian immigrants to the continent, or Central-Asian or even European. Some Native-American religions believe they are descended from those who migrated through a hollow log or a long deep cave. I believe, however, that by studying the noble noses of some these dignified and proud people one can only conclude that they are Italian.

 

 

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 30 JoJo 0006 (June 16, 2017)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN TRANSIT:

The last few days before leaving on a trip are usually part of the voyage itself, even if, like me, you just fuss and fume about not doing anything to prepare. A few days before departure, I did manage to throw some clothes and medicines into a suitcase.

Usually, I have no anxiety about going on a trip — no matter how long and arduous it may be. This time, however, I was apprehensive. Perhaps, it is because of the state of my health or maybe it is my age. In any event, whenever I think about my travels this summer an indefinite shadow of concern rattles around the back of my mind.

On Wednesday evening, Dick drove me to Sacramento Airport for my overnight flight to New York. After saying goodbye to him and to HRM, I walked into the airport. I decided to act the part of a bent and befuddled and creepy old man. An easy task since I am, in fact, a bent and befuddled and creepy old man. So, leaning heavily on my imitation black thorn shillelagh cane, I stumbled around and forced everyone to repeat whatever they tell me twice. I did this because I thought it would help me get assigned better seating and boarding preference (it did), and also because many, many years ago when introduced to “method” acting one of the exercises was to stumble around like an old man. Now that I am an old man, I thought it would be interesting to see how accurate we had been. It was great fun.

In New York, I managed to spend a bleary-eyed day at Kennedy Airport waiting for my flight to Milan. It doesn’t matter how old, bent and befuddled you may be, in New York they will still tell you to “go fuck yourself” or the like if your responses are too slow.

No matter how tiring and uncomfortable traveling may be, especially by airplane, there is usually something interesting to watch. That is probably because unlike passing strangers on a street or in a restaurant, on a plane or waiting around an airport boarding area you are involved in a short term community and with people with similar goals— to survive the trip.

While waiting in New York’s Kennedy Airport at what I thought was the correct gate, I noticed that the boarding area across from me was fitted out with tables and chairs decorated as though a party was going to be held soon. Waiters spread out among the other gates in the area offering everyone free fruit juice. Soon strangely dressed people began to drift in outfitted in various odd costumes usually including a strong dose of sequins. It all began to resemble a Fellini film. Then the star of the show arrived. At least I think it was the star since almost everyone in sequins and some without would come over to her, smile and then kiss and hug her. She was about six feet two inches tall with one of those tight skinned expressionless faces like Trump’s wife’s that are the frightening wonders of modern cosmetic surgery (you wonder how and why). Her breasts were out of a porno comic, her butt something that would make JayLo’s appear malnourished and her dress easier described by what it did not cover than what it did.

Anyway, eventually they all gathered at the tables and after about 20 minutes or so of partying and picture taking, they all got up, including the super-star, and marched through the gate marked “Vienna.” So, if you read or hear about anything unusual happening in Austria during the second week in June, I’d love to hear about it

Shortly after the carnival departed, I learned I that I had been waiting at the wrong gate. So, I rushed across the airport to the correct one where I was met by Frank Cozza, an Alitalia employee, who Nikki arranged to take me through security and generally ease my transit. He told me that he had paged me for an hour or more. But, I guess, with my diminished hearing and all the partying, I did not hear it. Frank arranged for me to decompress for a half hour in the first class lounge.

The most interesting thing about the flight was that sitting a few rows from me was about five deaf Italian women who had been visiting the US and were now returning to Italy. Although I cannot read sign, I could understand them easily since I am proficient in Italian facial expressions and hand gestures. In the US and most other places, I guess, signing carries the message with facial and hand gestures used for emphasis. In Italy, or at least among these women, facial expressions and hand gestures carried the message while the signs seemed to be used only for emphasis.

They were loud also. At the luggage carousel, everyone’s eyes were drawn to them as they talked or argued in sign over the various pieces of luggage that trundled by.

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B. TAMIL AND SACILE:

The following day, I arrived in Italy, the land of expressive hands and dramatic noses. Nikki met me as I exited the plane at Malpensa near Milan. He was scheduled to fly a plane to Tokyo in a few hours. We had lunch. I ate spaghetti and lobster. I actually could taste the lobster. Perhaps my taste is returning. Or, perhaps I can only taste things that come packed in their own slime.

Then it was off across northern Italy by train to Sacile where I was met by Vittorio who promptly drove me to a cafe where the two women owners implored me to assist them with drafting their proposal for developing a techie way of assuring artist profits in the face of discount sales. I agreed. At a little after one AM, I finally got to bed following well over two days of traveling with little sleep.
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Sacile

 

At 8 AM the next morning, Vittorio and I drove across the Veneto farmlands toward another town where he was to play in a marching band during a commemoration ceremony for the town’s Alpine troops who died in the two world wars. As we drove, on our right the pre-alps rose above the fertile plain like a Roman shield wall before an assault by the Gauls. It was a lovely day.

Vittorio plays tuba in a number of bands and orchestras in the area. Like with Peter Grenell, who I often follow along to his various gigs, I happily follow Vittorio along to his whenever I am here. I guess I can be viewed as a “geriatric groupie.”
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Vittorio and His Tuba

Vittorio’s band mates and the Alpini veterans all wore their distinctive hats with one stiff erect eagle feather jutting above each. I learned that the dark feathers ment the person had been an enlisted man and the lighter stiff erect eagle feather signified an officer. I could not help noticing that the stiff erect feather of the officers was, on the whole, distinctly smaller than those of the enlisted men’s except for one or two of the officers whose stiff erect feathers were larger than everyone else’s. You may make whatever sociological conclusions from that you want.

Upon our return, we stopped in Sacile for Prosecco at Lucia’s “Le Petite Cafe.” Disney-world is not the happiest place on earth, Lucia’s “Le Petite Cafe” is.
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Lucia and Vittorio at “Le Petite Cafe” in Sacile.

 

Following an afternoon nap, we set off for a bon voyage dinner in honor of Vittorio and Teacher Brian’s impending 30-day walking pilgrimage to Compostela in Spain. But, that is for my next post.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

There is a proposal to privatize the Nation’s air traffic controller system. Air traffic controllers are responsible for airline safety in take offs and landings at the Nation’s airports and the skies around them. In other words, like traffic cops except with more authority and responsibility.

I guess, the first question that comes to mind is how comfortable will passengers be knowing their safety rests in the hands of the lowest bidder on the contract. Will we find ourselves sooner or later hearing a corporate executive of the traffic controllers private company paraphrase that infamous pharmaceutical exec and claim his job is not to assure the safety of the passengers but the profits of the shareholders?

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

The Secret of Thai Soap Operas as Revealed by the Little Masseuse:

 

During my weekly massage, my masseuse likes to watch Thai soap operas on television while she administers the various pains and pleasures of her therapy.

Now, as I am sure we all know, soaps are a window into the dark, twisted soul of a society, so it is with Thai soap operas.

To me, all Thai soaps appear to tell the same story and contain the same characters. There is usually the beautiful innocent heroine and another equally beautiful though not so innocent young woman. You can usually tell them apart by their eyebrows. The innocent heroine’s eyebrows are somewhat rounded, while her evil counterparts appear straighter. They are accompanied by two equally attractive young men, one good and the other not so good. Both men are clearly in charge although in general, they are often remarkably oblivious and at times stupid. These four then are supported by a cast of actors and actresses of varying ages often playing family members of the protagonists. There are also one or two comic characters, usually played by ladyboys.

Although the stories are, generally, all the same, their location varies. I have seen Thai soaps set in the homes of the rich, and others in the homes of the poor living beside a klong somewhere. I have also seen them set in grocery stores, health clubs, and farms. Some occur in modern times others in old Siam and still, others are set in times of magic or in some guerrilla campaign somewhere. One, although clearly set in Thailand, had everyone dressed in American cowboy clothing. There was even a western saloon with swinging doors. Ghosts are popular but production values are low.

Anyway, this particular day, the masseuse was watching a soap in which the straight-browed beauty dressed all in black and carried a sword had just done unspeakable things to a group of poor people locked in cages.

Viewing this through my western acclimated eyes that see everything as a conflict between good and evil no matter the atrocities performed by either side, I commented, “She must be the bad girl.”

To which my masseuse responded, “Good or bad, it makes no difference. She is beautiful and everyone cares about her and what she does. If she were not so beautiful no one would give a damn at all about her or anything she does.”
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The Little Masseuse

 

 

CRACKED FACTOID:

 

According to David Wong, who is definitely not an authority on anything, monsters come in two types — those that breed and those that do not. Frankenstein is one of the latter. Once he is dead everyone can go back about their business. The breeders, however, are another matter. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves are breeders. That means, if you come across one of them, you can be reasonably sure there are more of them out there.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Life is a maximum security prison in which all the inmates live on Death Row.

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The Young Trenz Pruca

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The English language needs a word for that feeling you get when you badly need help, but there is no one who you can call because you’re not popular enough to have friends, not rich enough to have employees, and not powerful enough to have lackeys. It’s a very distinct cocktail of impotence, loneliness and a sudden stark assessment of your non-worth to society.”
Wong, David. This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (John Dies at the End 2) (p. 23). St. Martin’s Press.

English does have a word for it dude. It’s the second word in the phrase “you’re fucked.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Pookie in Tamai, a Child of the Corn.

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TO YOU ALL, LONG DAYS AND PLEASANT NIGHTS.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

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

Rumination on an Ashkenazi Theme

Everyone should know a little Yiddish:

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

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

Ashkenazi Dreams:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s it to me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

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

 

B. Today’s Poem:

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

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

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Fornax by Beth Moon

 

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

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