Posts Tagged With: Jomtien Beach

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 POOKIE 0004 (November 26, 2015)

 

“Wealth is power, and power is the only thing about which culture cares.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd ThomKoontz, Dean.as Novel (pp. 46-47). Random House Publishing Group.
HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY JASON.
CONGRATULATIONS BILL YEATES ON YOUR SUCCESS AT THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON.

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My granddaughter Amanda dressed for Halloween and posing with my 98-year-old mom.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

On November 11, I left the Golden Hills on the first leg of my return to Thailand. The light rail clawed its way into Sacramento where, after too long a wait, I boarded the train and scrabbled across the Great Valley toward San Francisco.

I spent the evening at Peter and Barrie’s. At a local restaurant, we had an excellent dinner accompanied by a good Sicilian Nero d’Avola wine. The next morning, Peter dropped me off at the airport and after about a day of varying levels of discomfort, I arrived in Bangkok at about 2AM. I do not recall having traveled through the City at this time in the morning before. Not that I haven’t. I may have. It’s just that I do not remember. The bars were mostly closed but the “street vender” bars were in full riot. Nana Plaza was eerily lightless, but the ladies and ladyboys of the night mingled with their patrons in a black seething mass that slopped out into the street.

I slept most of the next day. The few times I was awake the Little Masseuse would tell me stories. One was about an older man who lives in the country.

The old man’s story:

Every day the old man spends the daylight hours rummaging through garbage cans for food and other necessities. He especially searches for bits of electrical wire. In the evenings, through well past midnight, he melts down the bits of wire and burning off any coating. Every month, he produces a one-kilogram lump of copper that he sells for about $20, on which he augments his dumpster diving.

I try to swim every day at pool in the health club located in the Ambassador Hotel on Soi 11. The health club now includes a Muay Thai training facility to go with the pool, gym, racquetball courts, yoga rooms, Karate lessons and Chinese fan dancing instruction.
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Some parrots in the Ambassador Hotel’s extensive aviaries.

After swimming, I usually have a massage at my friend Gary’s spa (The Silk Spa) on Sukhumvit Soi 13. If you are in Bangkok give it a try. Especially experience the new two-person sauna that Gary built himself. Gary is Canadian, plays in an Ice Hockey League in Thailand and is often followed around by a precocious four-year-old named GJ.
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On Wednesdays, the Little Masseuse and I go to Terminal 21 to see a movie (Wednesday tickets are only $3 each.) Each floor of Terminal 21 is dedicated to a different city. The photograph below is part of the San Francisco display.

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After a week, we took a van to Jomtien Beach to spend a few days by the seashore. The ride was longer than usual. We seemed to go a different way than we usually do. We passed an attractive small lake and through the town of Sri Racha, neither of which I had seen before.

The small hotel we usually stay at was full so we found an even less expensive one for $17 per night.
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In the evenings, we walked along the beach.
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We also ambled along the seashore in the early mornings.
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On our walks along the beach, we were often accompanied by a small pack of beach dwelling Soi Dogs.
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Soi Dogs are the indigenous feral dogs of Thailand. They rarely bark or growl and skitter away if you come too close to them. The King of Thailand claims they are the country’s native dog and seeks AKC recognition for them.

One morning we came across a group of ladyboys overacting on the beach and frolicking topless in the water.
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The Good/Bad David joined us for lunch one day at a pretty good Mexican restaurant in the gay quarter of Jomtien Beach.
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The gay quarter is located in a lovely complex just off the main road to the beach. While the gay community still lived in shadow and in Thailand was the object of ridicule, the complex deteriorated. But now, acceptance of their life-style has rejuvenated the area. At night, it is quite joyful, if a bit startling when the rent boys call out and comment on your physical endowments as you walk by.
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For about three hours over margaritas, we exchanged stories. David kept us enthralled with tales about his life as a safety expert in the Jungles of Borneo and Nigeria and on the sands of Arabia in the employ of the plunderers of world’s billion-year solar energy reserve of hydrocarbons — stories about armed men and boats equipped with 50 cal machine guns — of sudden deadly explosions — of giant crocodiles and poisonous snakes — of days and nights living, under a sentence of death, in a fortified encampment. When not engaged in derring-do, he lives in Thailand where he relaxes in his own special way. If there were a Nobel Prize for hedonism, David would be a repeat winner.

Along with his other stories, David related the recent travails of Tina, a friend of us both and of whom we are fond.

Tina’s story:

Tina is a sex worker struggling to raise two children alone. Her daughter is now nine-years-old and her son twelve. In the past, she usually worked during the day and rushed home to greet them when they returned from school and to spend the evenings with them whenever she could. She now has reached that age where her appeal as a sex worker has diminished. At first, she toiled as a manager of a cocktail lounge called Heaven, when that did not work out, she opened a small bar of her own that failed. Now she walks the streets of Pattaya, her son watching over his sister in their small apartment until she comes home.
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Tina at Heaven.
After leaving David we passed an interesting place that contained an artists studio and gallery, bar, night club, restaurant and foot massage facility.
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We decided to enjoy a foot massage. The Masseur told us his story
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The Masseur’s Story:

It seems that a few years ago he found his dream job working as a Massage Therapist and rent boy at the Happy Massage parlor across the street. He enjoyed working there and was popular with the customers. Alas, over the years he put on weight and soon the customers no longer sought his services. So, he now has been relegated to working the sidewalk foot massage station across the street. He is very distressed by his current situation. Nevertheless, he gives a great foot massage.

One evening, we went for dinner at an Italian Restaurant we like in the gay quarter. Da Nicola is owned by a father and son from a town (Licata) in Sicily quite near that of my mother’s town (Canicatti). The father considers the wines from Canicatti the best in Sicily. He should know, the house wine in the restaurant, although from Australia, is excellent even though served a little too chilled. The food there is as good Italian food and pizza as you will find in the Pattaya area.
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David laughing at something while the Little Masseuse ignores him.
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The Owner of the Restaurant, LM with the pizza oven in the background.
A few days after returning from Jomtien Beach, my favorite Thai holiday, Loi Krathong, the festival of the lights with which the Thais welcome in the new year, was celebrated. Tiny boats made of flowers and festooned with lit candles are set afloat on the nearby waterways.
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We went to a lake near my apartment where thousands had gathered, bought our Krathongs and found a place by the lake to launch them.
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As we tried to light the candles, a strong wind suddenly struck making them impossible to light. The wind was quickly followed by a torrential downpour causing a panic among the thousands since most had not brought umbrellas. Everyone fled to try to squeeze into the various inadequate public transportation options (No one in their right mind would try to drive in Bangkok to something like this). All in all, the Festival of the Lights came to a dismal end.
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On Thanksgiving, I dined on a plate of pork fried rice garnished with cucumbers and onion shoots.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Only Sicilians Sit at the Table:

“Through the other window could be seen an empty table, apparently reserved for the sit-down. At the back, there was an espresso machine in the middle of the room, where the players occasionally refilled their little cups. Shortly before 9 p.m., Gross’s team arrived. Bayonne Joe Zicarelli left his companions to chat quietly with Nicky and Hicky. Gross nodded stiffly to the innkeepers. While they all were waiting, Hicky, the more serious hood, kept staring at Gross, who interpreted the glare as attempted intimidation. Then, the evening’s judge came walking slowly down the sidewalk, dignified looking, but overdressed for such warm weather in a heavy dark suit. His fedora looked much like Bayonne Joe’s, but the brim was snapped up, not down like Joe’s in gangster-movie style. The judge was Peter Crocciata, then in his 70s, known to police as a consiglieri or elder statesman in the Bonano crime family. As Crocciata approached, Nicky, Hicky, and Bayonne Joe moved quickly toward him. Each embraced him and kissed him on the cheek. Their haste made it seem as if more points would go to the hood who hugged him first. Judge and greeters went into the club, leaving the others outside. Marino and Vogedes stood by themselves, away from Gross and his allies, DiGilio, and Sinatra. They all could see the sit-down through the window, but they couldn’t hear what was being said. Gross quietly asked Sinatra why the principals weren’t inside–didn’t the judge want to get the story from the horse’s mouth? “Only Sicilians sit at the table,” Sinatra replied. “That’s how it’s done.””
Gangsters inc. http://z14.invisionfree.com/GangstersInc/index.php?showtopic=1097

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

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One of my favorite people, the legendary stripper Carol Doda, has died. Before there were Kardashians there was Carol Doda — except Carol had talent. She could sing and dance. She had brains and heart and she was the first to open carry her forty-fours. She was the first topless stripper in San Francisco’s North Beach, a notorious scandal at the time. I got to know her long after her stripping career ended. She never stopped performing, singing now and then at clubs around town. I met her one evening when she was having dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, The Columbus Restaurant in North Beach. We had dinner there that night and many times thereafter. She was bluff, outspoken and canny, a joyful and entertaining dinner companion.

In her later years she opened up a tiny lingerie shop down a small alley off Union Street. I stopped by the lingerie shop every time I happened to be in the Union Street area in order to spend a few minutes chatting with her that inevitably turned into an hour or so. My daughter-in-law Annmarie indicated that she would send customers from her bridal store to Carol’s shop because she sold a special type of bra there. Everything about Ms. Doda was special. I hope she did not die alone. Rest in peace Carol.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“To get back to sovereignty and the structure of the state, another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial- managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The quickest way to lose power is to use it and not succeed.”

C. Today’s Poem:

We know this much
Death is an evil;
we have the gods’
word for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing
Sappho

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“My own decision to deal with man’s civilized history as a sequence of separate civilizations was based, in part, on a conviction that organizational and intellectual factors were at least as important as technological and economic forces in determining the history of any civilization, and that the ability of such a civilization to utilize the technical knowledge available to it, either from its own invention or from diffusion from other cultures, depends, to a great extent, on non-materialist factors, especially those associated with accepted outlook and organizational patterns.”
Ribeiro,The Civilizational Process.

 

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Joe 0004 (July 31, 2015)

 

“You will never be the world. Other people will do as they will do and you will have to determine what you will do about that. That is your business.”
Cherryh, C. J. Tracker: A Foreigner Novel (Foreigner series) (p. 206). DAW.

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. A NIGHT IN AMMAN JORDAN:

I decided to fly to Bangkok on Royal Jordanian Airlines with a long stop-over in Amman because of the frisson of excitement in flying near a war zone, the price and the long layover that I thought would allow me to spend a few hours in the city, having dinner and viewing some of the sights. When I arrived the complications of finding my way through the airport, customs and transportation forced me to give up that plan. However, behind transfer desk a man informed told me that the airline allowed me to spend the layover at the local Marriott for free including a meal. “No tips,” he added. I surmised that that was an invitation for baksheesh discussions.

The hotel was about three or four miles from the airport and stood alone in the desert. The sun was still shining and I could see what I thought was the outskirts of Amman on the horizon. Everything else was low sand dunes traversed by a couple of roads. The desert had a slight floral scent that differed from the woody scent of the deserts in the American southwest. I had a first class room, a good meal a shower and a welcome sleep. I even enjoyed the baksheesh negotiations.

I took no photographs, alas. However knowing that some of you prefer the pictures to the writing, I have included a photo of Dubai from the air. Dubai was my alternative layover to Amman. I’m happy with my choice.
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Perhaps on my next trip, I will spend an extra day or two in Amman and visit Petra — another bucket list item.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

My last few posts were more or less a travelogue in two to three sentence bites. No matter how I tried to alter the chronology or slip in irrelevant stories, the travel through a place or between places remained foremost.

Bangkok, however, is my home (at least one of them for the time being), and no matter how exotic it may or may not be, the place becomes mere background to my daily experiences. I eat, sleep, exercise and so on. Every now and then as I go about my day something I see or experience interests me, but rarely temples, art or ceremonies.
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For example, I took HRM to the Aquarium in the basement of the Paragon Shopping Center.
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Another day we went to a snow park.
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A few days ago I met at Donut World with the old sailor and his friend an economist for coffee, donuts, and talk. The economist had just had his prostate removed. We, despite the camaraderie, looked at each other through the frightened hollow eyes of those who finally realize the last roundup is near to hand.

The old sailor has been a professional deep sea diver, a sailor, a treasure hunter and perhaps a pirate. He keeps two dead bodies in his locker at the health club (at least their ashes which he, at the deceased’s request, spreads in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute around the world). HRM spent a pleasant morning looking at photographs of the old sailors career.

I have two new shirts now. One primarily white I consider my day and formal summer outfit. The other, a Tommy Bahama design given to me by Nikki who bought it in China, is my night and formal winter attire.
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I live by one of Bangkok’s major tourist attractions, Nana Plaza. At lot of things go on there that the government denies
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This is a photograph of Soi Nana. I live at the other end of the street. Nana Plaza is on the left.
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Looking in the opposite direction across Sukhumvit Road is Arab Town.
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It looks a lot like Soi Nana until you get close. A lot of Bangkok is like that.
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Sometimes I vary my walk to the Health Club by going down an alley.
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The health club has a new manager. He comes from Australia. He promises to make the place one of the premier health clubs in the city. In the meantime for the past three weeks, he cannot make up his mind as to whether members are to be allotted one or two towels per day.

On most days, I have breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Foodland and then walk through the dark little alley to the health club. The alley now has a bar catering to Africans. It is loud and cramped. Not to be outdone the Burmese bar next door has turned up the volume of the music. Everyone is dancing as I try to squeeze through the gyrating bodies and grasping hands.
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When one is living in a place and retired like me, almost anything that breaks the routine I can find interesting. Today we spent five hours at a local university dental school mostly observing the wonderfully bizarre procedures that needed to be completed before I could have my teeth cleaned. After that, we had a foot massage. I then went back to the apartment and took a nap.
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At the university pointing at something.

Tomorrow I go to Paradise by the Sea one mile from the Outskirts of Hell for a reunion of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table at a place called Heaven or maybe not since Heaven was busted by the Thai cops a few weeks ago.

We stayed where we usually stay at a small hotel called “Bamboo” because of the bamboo plants in front of the place that have overgrown their planter pots. It was started a few years ago by a German Gay couple and seems to be the best-maintained hotel on the block. The Little Masseuse (now retired) managed to negotiate the price down from $30 a night to 20 by pleading that I was not a rich old American, but a poor sick old man. As proof, she argued that I must be poor for hanging out with an unattractive sixty plus year old lady like her instead of a beautiful 30-year-old. She still thought it was too much to pay for a room and urged my to stay at a place $8 cheaper where you had to sleep on the floor. I told her my current penury is not such that I must descend to that level of discomfort. She believes paying more than $1.50 for dinner is irresponsible.
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That night the Good/Bad David, Bill G., a young attorney from Bill’s firm who had never visited Thailand before, Dennis and I strolled along the Walking Street in the Outskirts of Hell where we ran into HRM, his mom, her latest financier, and their driver. I took HRM to the Muay Thai fights a little way along the street where one of his favorite fighters was performing.
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HRM scores a punch and a kick on the champion.

After seeing off HRM and his entourage, Bill and his crew and I visited one of his GoGo bars on Soi Six. I left early leaving the others enjoying themselves. I felt too depressed at my age and circumstances to get into the swing of things and was embarrassed. I need to up my dosage of happy pills.
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During the mornings at daybreak, we walk along the beach for exercise and to observe all the dead things and sodden plastic flotsam that littered the beach before the beach chair concessionaires swept the detritus back into the gulf. Many young Thais frolicked along the shore taking pictures of one another or jumping fully clothed into the waves. Thais prefer the beach before or after the sun makes it only suitable for western tourists to be out.
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Later we toured some of the competitors to Dennis and Bill’s clubs — not very exciting. If you are in the Pattaya-Jomtien Beach area, however, I urge you to visit “Heaven” at Soi 11 Kasetsin, Cosy Beach Pratamnak. Tell Tina who will greet you, that I sent you. The other place you may want to visit is Winchester. It is owned by Bill and Dennis.

One evening David, LM (now retired) and I had a pretty good pizza and cannelloni at an Italian restaurant in the Jomtien Complex that is also the gay area of Jomtien Beach. It is called “Da Nicola.” The owners were from the area of Sicily my family comes from. When they learned my family comes from Canicatti, they promptly declared that the best wine in Sicily comes from there.

Upon returning to Bangkok and resuming my life there, I saw that the dark alley containing the bars that I walk through after breakfast on my way to the Health Club has been mostly torn down. It was explained to me that it was done to make it better. I could not help but notice the section removed was the portion containing the bars catering to Africans and Burmese.
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One day the Thais celebrated the Prince’s birthday. Over the years, the much married royal seemed to be universally loathed. Rumors of the murder of his many mistresses and overall behavior abounded among the population of the country. But with the impending death of the much beloved King, the Prince’s birthday was a useful moment to rehabilitate him with a televised ceremony fit for a god which he did not attend but instead was represented by a 10 story photograph before which the great and near-great of the country sung his praises and lit an immense number of candles. In my apartment LM (now retired) lit a cantle and stood in front of the television reverently holding it in her hands for the entire hour-long ceremony.
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Dick arrived and HRM and I accompanied him to visit the aviary in the hotel that also encompasses the health club.
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And so my trip slowly cam to an end. A movie with HRM and LM (now retired), a delightful lunch with Gary, swimming almost every day, lots of naps and finally the struggle to pack and get to the airport.
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C. WHAT I THINK ABOUT WHEN I AM BORED:

I am a great supporter of gay marriage or marriage between members of the same sex even if they are not gay. I believe it is superior to so-called traditional marriage. Think about it. A woman and a man get married often because after a few days of passion they believe their affection will last forever and that this qualifies them to have and raise the next generation. What usually happens in short order, however, is they begin arguing over just about everything including how to raise the kids, while the kids usually have no idea why they are squabbling since most kids find their ordinary days just fine. In about 50% of the cases the loving parents divorce (or even worse not) and the kid grows fucked up anyway.

In my case, my parents argued all the time. I never could figure out why most of the time. After they argued, my father would get drunk for a while and my mom would find a reason to hit me with a wooden spoon (I was Italian-American after all). I think that is the cause of my problems with women. I always looked for a woman who could cook like my mother, wash and clean and now and then beat me with a wooden spoon. I could manage to connect with women quite willing to beat me with a symbolic wooden spoon, but they usually balked at the cooking and cleaning.

But I digress. Gay marriages need not run into this problem as much as traditional marriages do. After all, what’s marriage but a contract that sets out the economic rights and duties of the parties. This is important especially for those rich enough to afford a prenup but too stupid to get one.

Some believe marriage is necessary to procreate and raise children. In this age of rent a womb and the purchase of the hot semen of the body type and mental acuity of choice, procreation seems more a question of cost than who one procreates with.

I’ve always been wary of designer progeny. For example, imagine a bright guy with a lot of money but lacking in physical prowess and comely features. In the hopes that his children will be beautiful, athletic and bright, he searches for a zaftig beautiful woman athlete empty headed enough to marry him. But, it is probably just as likely the kids will be a scrawny idiot as anything else. It would be the same with the brilliant woman captain of industry who beds the ripped pool boy only to find that his mind was also ripped with muscle instead of neurons.

But I digress again. You see, men and women living together can never understand each other. They are like a separate species who in the long run irritate each other to the detriment of their children. That’s probably why so many of us are fucked-up.

Assume two guys, they do not even have to be gay but they are best buds, like the Thunder Buddies, Ted and John. They like to hang out together on the sofa watching football drinking beer, farting, and scratching their crotch. One day they decide to get married to each other in order to take advantage of retirement or death benefits and also raise some kids produced through some rent a womb internet site. They probably happily live together farting and scratching, rarely fighting while teaching their kids to joyfully fart, scratch and watch football. Or, on the gay queen end of the spectrum, the couple could raise their kids gleefully painting their toenails and applying perfect mascara or whatever else it is they are into.

As for two women marrying, even Thelma and Louise when they drove off that cliff could have benefited by a marriage license should one of them have survived the fall. Two women who marry could rent a stud and raise their children to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara or whatever. Or on the bull dike end of the spectrum teach them to fart, scratch their crotch and watch football on television. They all probably will be content and so will the kids.

Of course, then we will be raising two types of people, those who like to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara and those who like to fart and scratch their crotch. Unfortunately, I fear soon someone will start a new religion, or go on Fox News and argue it is bad for the nation that one group of happy tykes likes mascara and painted toenails and another farting and scratching and that marriage should be limited to one parent who likes one and another who likes the other so that the children can receive the full experience of being human.
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

The recent drought in Thailand has wrought havoc with the nations rice crop prompting the country’s Prime Minister to suggest the distressed farmers rely less on water-dependent crops like rice and plant more profitable crops that use less water, like a herb that he heard promotes male virility.

I few weeks later, this same worthy announced farmers were to be cut off from government controlled water supplies in favor of urban uses. He also announced the drought will end next month and the farmers who are not growing male virility herbs can again begin growing food for the nation. He later recommended that those who have water voluntarily share it with those who do not. He almost sounds like he is running for the US Republican Presidential nomination. I should be more careful, statements like the last one could get me arrested here.

Recently Wikileaks reported that Thailand was among the countries who purchased eavesdropping equipment allowing it to spy on its citizens. This same unelected but self-described democratically popular leader denied the report but added, that the nation’s citizens and others have nothing to fear if they are not doing something illegal. Something illegal includes criticism of the nations leaders or their actions.

The proposed new Thai Constitution would make it illegal and unconstitutional for legislators and the public to object to any project included in any five-year development plan established and adopted by a commission of non-elected political appointees.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Frank Capra, the famous Italian-American movie director, during WWII, directed a number of propaganda films for the United States Military under the general title of “Why we Fight.” Shortly after the war, he directed, on behalf of the US Signal Corps a short movie entitled, “Your Job in Germany,” in which he cautions American Servicemen about fraternization with the German populace in violation of international agreements among the victorious allies.

Now, I am not here to apologize for Capra’s rampant misguided conservatism or the “bitter and angry” anti-German tenor of the film, but given the recent events regarding the German government’s aggressive and implacable attitude on behalf of the German banking establishment against the ordinary people of Greece, even to the point of violating the fundamental doctrine of neo-liberal economics that both sides of a commercial agreement should bear the risks without governmental interference, perhaps another look at the film is warranted.

Capra, in the film, reminds us of Germany’s repeated aggressions — first in 1870 under “Otto von Bismarck,” then in 1914 under “Kaiser Wilhelm II,” and finally in 1939 under “Adolf Hitler.” Each time before the aggression commenced he points out through extensive flashbacks and newsreels the German people were portrayed as industrious, fun-loving, dancing and singing and full of good cheer. Well, once again the German people are happy and perhaps are singing and dancing also.

Capra was clearly wrong in attributing to the people as a whole responsibility for repeatedly following the siren call of their ruling classes, whether Junker, Nazi or modern Banker. Clearly those ruling classes appear to have learned by now that the road to lebensraum may not lie through the barrel of a gun but perhaps more effectively through one-sided agreements, enforced by non-elected international bureaucrats where the non-German, the non-Banker and the poor bear all the risks flowing from the failure of a commercial contract.

Arguments have been made that in the previous cases had the other great powers (or even one other) resisted the slide into a shooting war much pain and suffering could have been avoided. Alas, once again the shortsightedness of big power politics (for example, the US worry about Russia requires it to weigh allowing Germany free rein in Europe against the risk of losing their support for US policies confronting supposed Russia aggression) may only make things worse — until it is too late.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“I define democracy as majority rule and minority rights. Of these the second is more important than the first. There are many despotisms which have majority rule. Hitler held plebiscites in which he obtained over 92 percent of the vote, and most of the people who were qualified to vote did vote. I think that in China today a majority of the people support the government, but China is certainly not a democracy.”
THE MYTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Carroll Quigley presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on August 17, 1972.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“It sickens and infuriates me to see the cynical hypocrisy of conservatives. And yesterday I heard that Social Security Disability payments could be cut 19% by the GOP-controlled Congress. The funding will run out next year, and there is an impasse between Democrats and the GOP. Obama has been all too willing to cave in on such negotiations, but if the 10.9 million people who will lose on average $190 a month — this, for people like me who HAVE no other income, no means of other support, and no ability to do so — if this happens right before the 2016 elections, the GOP could end up like the Whig Party . . . in the political graveyard with other assholes, like the Know Nothings (which the GOP should be called!).”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

1. Government protection of investors.

“Government shielding of investors wealth from full liability for the actions of a corporation violates a fundamental tenet of neo-liberal economic theory and makes almost everything it rationalizes invalid. Until investors in commercial enterprises are forced to protect their wealth through the purchase of insurance as they did before the government created the state enterprises we call corporations, neo-liberal economic analysis is substantially flawed.”

2. Political Correctness.

“I think political correctness has gone too far. After all. what could be offensive about calling Jesus Christ a gay fish monger?”

D. Today’s Poem:

Endless daze, sweaty nights

Long night until morning,
Dream breasted, shadow stalked.
Arid lips salt sweated.
Laughter dreams and horror
Dawn faded long ago.
Dreamless sleep’s dark nightmare
Now haunts our withered days.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Cold Tits 0004 (March 14, 2015)

 

“A man is never too young to kill, never too wise, never too strong, but he can damn well be too rich.”
Brown, Pierce. Golden Son (The Red Rising Trilogy, Book 2 (p. 41). Random House Publishing Group.

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett. Discworld will live forever.
Pratchett, the inverse of Spock, turned logic on its head and found truth. May they enjoy each other’s company wherever they are.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The weather in EDH has gone from pleasant to marvelous, the afternoons in the mid-seventies. The sky a deep blue, now and then dappled with clouds.

A few days ago I read that some scientists suspect the perception of the color blue is a recent innovation for humanity. They were put on to this theory by the fact that Homer never mentioned the color blue in his works (nor did most ancient texts such as the Bible). Homer’s description of the Aegean as the “wine dark sea,” a sea that to us today is decidedly blue, led them to conclude, either the sea was a different color then (wine is not blue even at its darkest) or something was different in the color perceptions of the ancients. They then discovered that people in societies today that have no word for blue, when asked the color of the sky, most often respond that it was colorless. A modern tribe that has no word for blue but several for green can see differences in green not perceived by the rest of us. So given that colors are merely reflections of certain frequencies of light, what is going on? This freaks me out. When I look at the deep blue skies over the golden foothills what, if anything, am I seeing?
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Alas, still no rain. Paradise before the fall?
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So, I have now completed a PET and a CT (CAT) scan. I guess my next one will be a RAT, BAT or perhaps even a VET scan.
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Nikki arrived. He plans to stay for about a week. This means that a lot more noise and a bit more laughter it the house. H has been fitted with braces and is unhappily suffering through the irritation of getting used to them.
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With Nikki attending to H, I spend even more of my time in my room trying to find something interesting to read other than Facebook and trashy novels. Recently I even have begun to look forward to my medical appointments.
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While having coffee with Reed a few days ago, he mentioned that the Coastal Conservancy staff said that they did not know what a coastal restoration project is, despite the fact that their implementing legislation specifically directs the agency to do them.
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During breakfast with Nikki, he asked what would I do if I was no longer living in EDH. I said that I would probably still do much of what I do now. I would divide my time between; California, probably as much as possible with my sister and brother in law in Mendocino; Italy, at Nikki’s home at Saliceto in the Alpine foothills or Sabina or Sicily; and Thailand, although I would prefer moving out of BKK and back to the beach. Winters at the beach in Thailand, Spring and Fall somewhere along the California coast and Summers in the Alps it seems would not be such a bad life.

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Mendocino, California

3-frazione-molino-di-cravagliana

Saliceto, Italy
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Roccantica in Sabina

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Sicily

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Jomtien Beach, Thailand
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My visit to the orthodontist with H was a revelation. The waiting area was more playroom than office with its jungle motif, separate play areas and massage chairs for parents. The staff of about 20 or so seemed to have overdosed on ebullience as though they had hit the nitrous-oxide on the way to work. The staff was all women except for the man himself, the orthodontist, the chief giggler himself — the lord of the manor — the Caliph. I used to wonder who lived in those super large homes that line the ridges of EDH. I now imagine they are all inhabited by happy-talking orthodontists.
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El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life.
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Well, I can put my hypochondria back in its box for a while. The PET scan came back negative for any evidence of migration by big C into other parts of my body. Now, if the biopsy shows signs of it in the nodule itself, the doctor believes it can be safely removed without resort to either radiation or chemo.
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My very dear friend from Sicily, Luigi (Gigi) Gallo, who suffers from Parkinson’s, recently slipped, fell and broke his leg. He appears to be recovering. I hope all goes well with him. Last year, after an over 40-year hiatus, I visited Sicily and had a wonderful time with him, catching each other up on our lives over the last 40 years and reminiscing about our time together in Sicily and Rome.
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B. BOOK REPORT:

I read “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins. It is an interesting book in spite of it being a best seller. All ten or so characters in the novel are reprehensible. It is difficult to care about which ones deserve to die (they all deserve to do so). Yet, their very insensitivity to their own irresponsibility despite their intense and constant preoccupation with it that gives the story whatever appeal it has.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

As for one of the primary organizational elements of Western society, capitalism, in its constantly changing form over its 1000 year existence, Quigley has the following to say about its role:

“…capitalism, because it seeks profits as its primary goal, is never primarily seeking to achieve prosperity, high production, high consumption, political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Any of these may be achieved under capitalism, and any (or all) of them may be sacrificed and lost under capitalism, depending on this relationship to the primary goal of capitalist activity— the pursuit of profits. During the nine-hundred-year history of capitalism, it has, at various times, contributed both to the achievement and to the destruction of these other social goals.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Although Quigley refers to it in this other works of his, the above quote does not mention the impact on society of Debt and the Merchants of Debt, Creditors, even though they are many thousands of years older than Capitalism and Capitalists. If one were to rewrite Quigley’s quote with debt in mind, it might go something like this:

“Debt and Creditors, the Merchants of Debt, because they seek repayment of the loan and the interest due thereon as their primary goal, never seek prosperity, high production, high consumption, direct political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Instead they seek to assure that the value of the principle and interest remain constant or increase by encouraging depression of the economy to eliminate the potential for that prosperity, high production and high consumption to encourage inflation and reduce the value of their future returns. Interest in political power is limited to issues of so called “sound money” politics. Over their 4000 year history, the Merchants of Debt have rarely, if ever, contributed anything to a society’s patriotic improvement or moral uplift other than to assist in their destruction now and then.”

It is important to understand that banking and capitalism, although they more often than not work together, they are not the same thing nor do they have the same institutional goals or the same impacts on society. Capitalism is as subject to the demands of the Merchants of Debt as is the rest of society. Because of the overwhelming impact of debt on society, the Old Testament of the Bible and most civilizations until the 10th Century AD in Europe encouraged periodic forgiveness of debts. It could be argued that the Lord’s Prayer New Testament plea to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” refers to the Old Testament practice as well as, if not more than, it does to other moral transgressions.

There exists and inherent conflict between Capitalists and the Merchants of Debt. The former risk their wealth on investments in enterprise, the latter abhor risk of any sort.
B. Molly’s Poem:

A New Years Poem
I have a desperate attraction to new beginnings
Sometimes the numbers on the calendar look so beautiful
I think
Today’s the day I drink less and run more
No smoking, all veggies
Honesty, integrity, self-reliance, perseverance, creativity,
No fear, live large,
Dream big, be bright, believe in love and believe in yourself!
And I do
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Sometimes I just feel it, on a Tuesday
Today’s the day I keep doing yoga
I don’t back down when I’m right
I go to bed at a reasonable hour, pay my bills on time
Clean out the toe jam, learn all those languages
All the little steps start here and I’m climbing
I can feel it now, right now, and I won’t look back
This is it!
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Then I find myself making the same mistakes
Who manufactured the grooves in my record?
How would it feel if the DJ scratched me across the turntable?
The dissonant rip, like a zipper coming undone
A cut away from the 4/4 time that I was trying so hard to hold
But this is why the crowd came to the club
To hear the sound of the universe tearing into a new song
The maligned has become music
We throw our hands up and we dance
I am scratched across the turntable and the crowd is screaming
We are scratched and screaming
And the dj takes it back, and the song plays
All of it is beautiful
Every moment new
Every moment auspicious
Every moment beginning
Molly Trad

C. Zander’s Perceptions

“Lentil Soup and Lent

Yesterday I made a pot of lentil soup as well as a loaf of bread, since the weather demands it. I realized that while my back was screwing with me last week, I missed out on Mardi Gras on Tuesday. I have not been a practicing Catholic for . . . yikes. That would be over a half a century. I do dig McDonald’s having cheap Filet o Fish sandwiches (YEEE-Hah!!) during Lent, so naturally I will take advantage of that for the next 5 weeks.

But here’s the thing. Stay with me on this: When the kids were still in elementary school and their mom was on the dating scene, which I called the “Boyfriend of the Month Club,” I decided not to date. One parent dating like a rat in heat and dragging impressionable young kids to these men’s homes was bad enough; it didn’t need to be repeated by me.

I knew that the dating cycle was about 5 weeks is because that is how often I’d be asked for my recipe for scaloppine alla Marsala, the dinner she’d prepared for those guys. And I wouldn’t date.

It got to the point, though, that those years were adding up. Because I did the celibate parent thing voluntarily, I believe I should be allowed to give it up for Lent. Got it now?

So in Rome, we’ve got Il Papa, Pope Francis, who reflects virtually political and social position I have. I’m going to throw myself at his mercy and see if there is a special dispensation in his heart to allow me to give up celibacy for Lent. I’m guessing that he’d go for it. Hell — he can even live vicariously through me, if he wants. So I am confident.

Do I have any volunteers?
Pete Xander

D. Granddaughter’s Painting:
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Athena Petrillo

E. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
Epicurean Paradox

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Sometimes I wonder if the American South is really another country or whether most Southerners are actually illegal aliens residing in the US. Surely a people who are so poorly educated, in such ill health, so superstitious and immoral and so unambitious cannot be real American citizens. Should we require them to go back to where they came from? Who would have them?

These people seem to insist on remaining poor, illiterate, diseased, religion obsessed and immoral. Shouldn’t we allow them to endure that state? Perhaps laws like, unemployment, social security, Obama care and the like should not apply to the South?

We do not have a poverty problem or a racial problem or a health problem or a moral problem or an immigration problem in the United States. We have a Southern problem. We have always had a Southern problem.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Point Cabrillo Light House, Mendocino

 

Categories: January through March 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Shadow 0003 (June 22, 2014)

 

“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.

Symmetry is a beautiful thing.”
Giufa

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOAN JACKSON

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

1. Last days at Paradise by the Sea:

On the border between “Paradise by the Sea” and “The Outskirts of Hell” there stood an isolated building among some empty lots. On the side of the building there was a sign affixed that read, “Heaven.” It was the day before I was to leave Paradise by the Sea and return to Bangkok. The Good/Bad David had brought me there. The entrance to Heaven wound through a dark passageway containing large vases with slightly wilting flowers. Gold drapes hung on the wall. It looked like the entrance to a mortuary. I guess that could be considered fitting.

Once inside the place was much more plush. It appeared a lot like a 1960’s piano bar in Las Vegas. I liked it. It was a vast improvement over my image of what Heaven would be like.

We were led by the hostess to a small dark room at back of the building in the center of which stood a solid black oval table.

Now some of you may recall that a few years ago I published, for your enjoyment, a few stories supposedly written by Giufa that sad-faced reprobate and chronicler of the “Forlorn Order of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table” (FOGNOT). The stories focused on the adventures of five Geriatric Knights who assembled in a place called The Kennel (where old dogs go to die) around another oval table, that one made of faux marble and gilt . I will not describe here what occurred that afternoon in Heaven around the coal-black oval table. I leave that job instead to the cynical, licentious and wholly untrustworthy Giufa, should he ever get around to it.
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Baba Giufa as a child.

I shall only add that about six hours later the Good/Bad David, Peter a man who I had been told dealt in precious metals and I left Heaven. The three of us climbed into a tricked-out, four door, short bed, pick-up truck. They drove me back to my hotel where I immediately fell asleep. The next day after a pleasant lunch with David and his friends, I boarded a bus and returned to Bangkok.

2. Back in Bangkok:

a. Monsoons:

The monsoon season in South Asia officially began on June 1. Since then angry clouds have filled the Bangkok skies. Very little rain has fallen in the city, generally only enough to make the already dangerous sidewalks slimy and slippery. With the blooming of el Nino in the Pacific this summer, chances are South Asia and Southeast Asia will experience a relatively dry year. On the other hand, Southern California should be wetter than it has been these last few years. Oh, the price of anchovies and sardines probably will rise also.

b. Pookie has a night out:

Having had it spending my afternoons and evenings in my apartment because of the curfew and the skies threatening rain that rarely comes, I decided to treat myself to a night out on the town. For me a night of the town has become simply finding a place to nurse a beer and watch the goings on. So one night I put on a clean shirt and stepped out from my building into the steaming hot air of BKK.

I ate dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, an open front place that takes up the bottom floor of a cheap rooming house on Soi Nana. There I ordered my usual sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice and a coke from the six-foot tall ladyboy who looked like an NFL linebacker with boobs and a cute pink bow in his hair. I watched an American movie on the overhead TV while I ate.

After dinner I walked up Soi Nana searching for a bar in which I could enjoy my beer. Now for those who have not been there, bars along Soi Nana are for the most part open front affairs with young women outside calling out to you to join them just like the sirens called out to Ulysses. But this old sea dog ignored them because he had his sights set on the bright lights of Nana Plaza.

Nana Plaza bills itself as the World’s Largest Adult Playground. It is situated only a few blocks from my apartment. Although for reasons of age, fear of STD and a general aversion to the hard sell I do not avail myself of the services offered at many of the establishments, nevertheless now and then I like to sit at one of the bars with my beer and watch.

Nana Plaza itself is a three-story or so U-shaped building with a large open space in the center. The building houses a number of Go-Go bars, Lady Boy bars and Beauty Salons to service the performers. In the center open area are a number of regular bars open to the sky.

I sat in one of them bought a beer and paid the hostess to not sit with me and try to cage drinks. The sounds of the music coming from the venues and the exuberance of the neon lights makes everyone feel a bit jittery, like they just snorted some cocaine. I sat there nursed my beer and observed.

The women and barkers standing outside the venues desperately attempted to entice each passersby to enter their place. The Ladyboys being men despite the makeup and potential genetic quirks, were more physically aggressive, sometimes surrounding the tourist like a pack of wolves. In one case even demonstrating specifically what she had to offer.

After I finished my beer, I walked home feeling had accomplished something.
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Nana Plaza at night
C. Massage:

A few days ago the Little Masseuse invited me to join her in getting a foot massage at a place she liked.

Contrary to what some may believe not every massage parlor in Thailand is a front for prostitution. Massage is a national pastime in Thailand. I have been in small villages in the country where it seemed like everyone was massaging everyone else, sort of like a band of simians removing lice from one another’s fur.

Thai massage itself is based on pressure points and a little rapid stretching of certain muscles and tendons. For the most part it was developed in the county’s temples, especially Wat Po adjacent to the Royal Palace. Students still go there for instruction.

Most legitimate massage establishments offer Thai massage, a deep tissue rubbing massage, foot massages (reflexology) and a few specialties like facial massages and the like. Often the place will offer only Thai massage or only foot massages.

Most of the illegal (prostitution is illegal in Thailand in order to augment police salaries) sexual oriented massage parlors are located around the various tourist areas of larger cities or at resort areas.

One can figure out if it is a legitimate if:

1. it is located outside of a tourist area,
2. It looks down scale
3. the posted prices are cheaper
4. the women and men offering the massages are older and do not look like fashion models between gigs.

If you are still uncertain, ask a Thai woman you can trust (one that is not receiving a kickback from the massage parlor). For most of the women I know, the massage is the thing. Anything else is purely incidental. If you ask a man however, it’s all in the incidentals.

One of the best massages I ever experienced was in Hat Yai. The King of Thailand had set up a program for blind people to learn massage. At the place in Hat Yai, both men had been blinded in acid attacks. A sighted women in the shop acted as cashier and assisted the masseur in locating the supplies they needed. It was obvious that the masseur had studied more that simple Thai massage, perhaps even formal anatomy. He played the muscles in my body like Ray Charles played the piano.

The massage parlor the Little Masseuse and I were going to was located just off Soi 19 behind Terminal 21. It was situated above a place called Mama’s Pizza just across the street from Mama’s Taqueria. (I do not know if there is a Mama’s Pad Thai, or Schnitzel or Borscht in Bangkok, but I have not been everywhere yet. Come to think of it, a fast food place called Mama’s Pad Thai, Schnitzel and Borscht would probably cause quite a stir in the culinary world).

Anyway we climbed up three flights on a rickety outdoor stairway to the small shop. It provided only foot massages at $4 an hour, a price considerably cheaper than most other places in the area. There were about 15 or so young men and a few women masseuses and 10 overstuffed chairs and ottomans. The massages were very good.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Human trafficking:

The english language newspapers in Bangkok were all aflutter over the report that the US had ranked Thailand among the worst countries for human trafficking. The responses from Thai government spokesmen ranged from outright denial that the problem exists to shock that the US would criticize an ally.

Human trafficking may actually be the worlds oldest profession. A recent study maintained that humans (usually children) were used as one of the systems of account for debt before the invention of coinage. Failure to timely repay the loan would force the pledged child into bondage.

Two personal stories:

How it was in Issan

When she was about 13 years old a woman doctor showed up at the home of the Little Masseuse in rural Thailand. The doctor purchased her from her parents to work in the Doctor’s infirmary in BKK cleaning the instruments and the office. She was given a bed in a tiny room to sleep in. After about two years the inevitable happened. LM was asleep in her room when she was awakened by someone rubbing her body. The Doctor’s husband had crawled into the bed with her. She screamed and cried and woke up everyone in the house. The next morning the Doctor told her that the would have to leave that day and return to her family in Issan.

How it was in Sicily

When she was 7 years old my mother’s father died leaving her and her three older siblings orphans and a significant estate. The oldest child was only 16 and a woman so it was felt that it was not appropriate for her to manage the estate. Her bachelor uncle stepped forward and agreed to marry her promising to take care of the three younger children. On almost the day after the wedding the uncle placed the three children on a boat to America having sold them to three families in the US to work as domestic help. My mother spent the next few years chained to her bed at night so she could not run away until her older brother reached eighteen left his keeper and took my mom and her sister to live with him.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Around 600 BC: The scribes assembling the Hebrew Bible included the Law of Jubilee in Leviticus. The law stipulated that all debts would be automatically cancelled “in the Sabbath year” (that is, after seven years had passed), and that all who languished in bondage owing to such debts would be released.

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.”
Leviticus 25:8-13

I think forgiving all debts every seven years is a great idea. It is strange that there are those who claim the Leviticus’ supposed prohibition of homosexuality is the unchanging word of God, yet the forgiveness of all debts every seven years somehow is no longer applicable. Who is it that decides what God really meant and when he was only kidding?

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

They want a capitalism with the simple balance that, The Father of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Adam Smith indicated was required for it to work. For example:

“Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate… It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms….

by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”

And:

“In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest.

Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”

On regulations:

”When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

On fairness:

“The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than that proportion.”

Finally denouncing vast differences in wealth and income, Smith praised a fellow economist’s tax proposal:

“To remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.”

It has always been a wonder to me why those who praise Capitalism so highly, hate it so much.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
m-emotional
My initial feeling is that somehow the colors are reversed.

 
GOODNIGHT AGENT 355 WHOEVER YOU WERE——

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Joe 0002

“Dum  Spiro, Spero” 

     as long as you’re breathing, there’s hope.

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The rainy season has brought overcast skies but little rain to BKK. The clouds seem to trap the pollution close to the ground. It feels like someone pressing piece of dirty wet gauze over my eyes and nose. Some days I find it hard to breathe. I cough more than usual and at times feel overwhelmed with exhaustion. Later this week I plan to go to Jomtien Beach (Paradise by the Sea), the next town down coast from Pattaya, (The Outskirts of Hell). I expect cleaner air there.

The monsoon rain clouds funnel up the Bay of Thailand where they then scurry along the Chao Phraya River running through BKK on their way up into the mountains near Chiang Mai to drop most of their moisture. They generally leave the beach areas around The Outskirts of Hell and Paradise by the Sea somewhat overcast free. Sea breezes push the air at the beaches inland leaving them relatively absent of air pollution.

After giving it some thought I decided I need to get a job (suggestions invited), not so much for the money, but because one ought not spend so much time alone with himself in a darkened room.
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Not a very pretty picture.

Sometimes, however, LM comes by and dances,
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or just sits and makes wool scarves that no one in Thailand will ever use.
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Hayden asked her to make a scarf he could give to his mom as a present, even though he knew SWAC would throw it out anyway. Once she started making them, LM refused to stop. My apartment now looks like something out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with wool scarves multiplying uncontrollably. I expect that one day I will come home and find that I am unable to get into my apartment because it’s filled floor to ceiling with knitted wool scarves. (“The Scarf that Swallowed Bangkok,” soon to become a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp.)

Most nights I eat at this restaurant:
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I only eat sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice or pork fried rice. Not so much because I particularly like those dishes, but because whenever I look at the menu for something else  I find it printed in Thai with slightly out of focus photos of the dishes, making them all look the same.

After dinner and watching the Thai soaps I go to sleep with my friends Gorilla and Douglas.
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Early on a dark and rainy Wednesday morning I left for Jomtien Beach. I went by van. Vans take about the same time to get there as do taxis but are significantly less expensive. The van driver was interesting. Although it is common for most Thai drivers to insist on using the shoulder for passing, he treated it as the high-speed lane. As a result, we got to our destination quicker than usual, especially when for unknown reasons he skipped the usual pee-pee break at the rest-stop where the vans generally gas up.

The sun was out when we arrived and thankfully the air felt much cleaner than in BKK.

This trip I did not stay at the guest house of the sad-faced lady with the child with the tragic birth defects but at a place with slightly larger rooms for about the same price near by. The street, Soi 2, is quite narrow with 4 to 6 story balconied shop houses lining each side. One can watch the life of the neighborhood going on in the streets below and on the balconies. It reminded me a bit like living in the Bronx.
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In the early morning I watched and listened to the Soi awaken. It is no Catfish Row, but I imagine someone could put it to music: The snap of the cloth as the woman in the apartment across from me hangs out her washing; The high-pitched murmurings of the yings (Thai for young woman) speaking into their mobile phones as they walk to or from work; The scrape and bang of the merchants raising the security barriers as they open their shops; The throaty rumble of the motorbikes; the chopping sound made by the woman with the sidewalk food stand as she prepares the day’s Papaya Pak Pak ( better known as Som Tam). All we now need is a happy-go-lucky beggar cheerfully greeting everyone as he passes by.

Last night, for some reason unknown to me, someone in the Soi below my room set up some amplifying equipment into which two drunken yings screamed off-key songs to no one in particular until two in the morning. Now and then a western tourist would wander by and snap a photograph of the clearly deranged young women.

During the day I walked along the beach about two miles early in the morning, and again at mid-day and once more in the evening. For most of the rest of the day I sat on a rental canvas beach chair under a large blue beach umbrella, watched the vendors pass by, stared at the surf and dozed.
DSCN1871

Some tipsy young men with their Thai women friends sat on the chairs on each side of me. Two Swedes to my left and a Brit to my right. There was a lot of laughing and loud talking. The vendors seemed to congregate around them smiling and joking. I was a bit jealous. “Why” I thought, “couldn’t I be as jovial and sociable?” Eventually the Swede sitting closest to me turned to me and asked “How come these vendors always stop and gather around me yet they pass you right by?

I responded, “Because as soon as they get close enough, I close my eyes and pretend I’m asleep.” The Swede stared at me for a while in silence then exclaimed, “Wow!” A few moments later, thoroughly embarrassed, I got up and left.

Sometimes I forget why people flock to Thailand in such great numbers. After all, its beaches are ok, but there are many other places with better. It’s cities are so polluted they rival Mexico City. Its historical buildings are interesting, but far less grand than those in a lot of countries. Most of the country sits in a sweltering swamp. Their people smile a lot but they are not smiles of kindness or concern. The traffic is as awful as anywhere in the world and corruption and cheating the tourist are endemic. It’s food is good but quality examples of it at a reasonable price can rarely be found anywhere a casual tourist could locate. So what is it that recently reminded me why I and many others come here?

In India, people twist their bodies into unnatural shapes and sit for years on dung heaps until they can ignore their discomfort, call it enlightenment and convince themselves that now they are truly happy. In China and Japan some go up mountains to where the air is thin and the ground is cold and where they sit until they can think of nothing at all and assume they have found contentment. Then they believe they are happy. In the US and many countries of the West as well as other “advanced” countries, people, day and night, engage in the single-minded pursuit of stealing wealth from others so that their stoned children can ride around a lake in a yacht and they can imagine they have accomplished something and then they can declare themselves really happy.

But here in Thailand there is a temple called Wat Po on the grounds of the royal palace where there, and in similar temples throughout the country, Thais from all over the nation gather to learn the traditional Thai art of rubbing another persons body until that person experiences a sense of something approaching bliss.

Imagine, if you will, in Saint Peter’s Basilica somewhere huddled among Bernini’s’ columns there is a similar school where cowled nuns and tonsured monks upon completing their course of study then go out into the world to, at an affordable price, apply their hands to the bodies of others, both men and women, so that they can know the experience of true orgasms and be happy.

That is why, over the years, people came to Thailand and why even now in some of the country’s most expensive accommodations on some of the most exclusive beaches many people can still find happiness.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: “You gotta convince me that you know what this is all about, that you aren’t just fiddling around hoping it’ll all… come out right in the end!”
Chapter 23

Joe arrived to drive us to the wake. He still wore the same black windbreaker but had changed his white T-shirt for the black Iron Maiden one that I had seen him wearing when we first met. He had also changed his black jeans for creased pants of the same color.

Joe and Mavis got into the front and I sat alone in the back. They immediately started talking in that black, stoner, California patois, adding a few mexican words to spice it up and mixing in a liberal use of the universal modifier “Fuck” in all its varieties. It annoyed me greatly because I could not understand anything they were talking about, although, at the time, I convinced myself my annoyance was based instead upon my objection to their juvenile misuse of the english language.

I decided to sit there and pout and fume. Finding that unsatisfying and unable to hold my attention for more than a few minutes, I turned to trying to understand what I intended to accomplish at the wake and more importantly why I was even bothering to try to do anything at all. Failure certainly remained a viable option. What if I don’t find out what happened to Holland or the shipment or even how Reilly was killed? I mean, really, were either the Tons of Fun or Martin Vihn going to do something to me if in the end I tell them I don’t know what happened? At worst they would just beat the shit out of me for spite. Even that was unlikely. So, what was I doing here? Looking good for the clients? I’ve got their money. I don’t need their respect, not that I expect to ever get it.

Why was what happened to two containers of furniture so important to Martin Vihn? They certainly could not be worth much. Why was finding Holland so important to Mavis and the Fabulous Fat Boys and not Martin? Who hired the Corpulent Cronies? Do I care? My professional ethics requires me to go through the steps, not necessarily come up with anything. Do I care about professional ethics? I don’t think so.

By this time we had passed through the City and approached the Golden Gate Bridge and, as is often the case when one does and the sun is shinning, all thoughts slide from ones consciousness replaced by infatuation with the panorama of the red-orange bridge, the water below, the boats on the bay, the cliffs and the mountains. To my right the City, its towers gleaming in the sun, always made me think of it as a mystical mythical place. Few cities rise up directly from the water so they can be seen whole from a distance. Hong Kong, but it is just an endless wall of towers, gaudy but not mystical. Lower Manhattan always appears too determined to be mythical. San Francisco is not a real City, it is too happy. It’s citizens care little about what goes on beyond its borders. Perhaps the smoke from the billion or so joints smoked here since the sixties has by now bonded with the ever-present fog leaving the place forever enshrouded in cannabis enhanced bliss.

By the time I had mused through my meditations about the City we were approaching the Rainbow tunnel which always signaled to me we were leaving one reality for another. I read somewhere that Marin County had more psychiatrists per capita than anyplace else in the whole world. I had always assumed that was because its residents believed that how they felt about themselves meant something to someone other than themselves.

As we passed through the tunnel I dutifully held my breath and placed my finger against the roof of the car as I had been taught and as I taught my children. Why we did it or where it began, who knows. It’s one of those things like certain rhymes one picks up in childhood that seems to come along with the dirt and air of the place where you grew up and eventually seeps into your genes.

Mavis and Joe Vu had stopped talking, put in their ear plugs connected to their respective smart phones and stared out at the road in front of them listening to their generation’s music. Again I felt excluded. I did not understand the music either.

Once we got to the other side, I picked back up on my meditation of the disappearing furniture mystery and my role in it to no greater effect on my understanding than before. Finally we turned off the freeway and drove into a wooded neighborhood nestled in one of the nooks and crannies of the Marin County hills somewhere on the outskirts of Mill Valley.

It was one of the older neighborhoods, originally redwood shacks used as vacation cottages by San Franciscans before the bridge was built when it was still a serious trip to get here. Over the years, others of the upwardly mobile class who now lived in them and commuted over the bridge to work in the City took them over. These new residents expanded the shacks to house their hopefully perfect nuclear families, sparing no expense to maintain the ambience of the neighborhood so that now instead of appearing like a normal subdivision it resembles nothing so much as abandoned piles of redwood blow downs among the trees still standing after the storm.

We turned from the main road on to the typically narrow unmaintained washboard roads of the subdivision. The cars of the mourners were parked all along the road and beyond leaving little space for another car to pass. We threaded our way so far into the bowels of the subdivision to find a place to park that I thought we would never find our way out again. We got out of the car. The area around us looked like an abandoned lumber yard. We wound our way along the rutted road back towards Reilly’s house. Joe, a founding member of the Junior Viet Cong of America led the way with the same aplomb as his ancestors creeping through the jungles of South East Asia. As we came around the last turn, along a pile of well weathered sticks that was the fence that hid Reilly’s property from view, we saw a large black classic Lincoln parked along the side of the lane directly in front of the gate to Reilly’s domain. Leaning against the automobile and staring off into the trees like a committed birdwatcher was our old friend Fat Franny II, the one named Bart.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 Jo-Jo’s book report:

Finished reading Nesbro’s “The Leopard.” It takes place sometime after the events in “The Snowman,” (soon to be a major motion picture guaranteed to be nothing like the book and starring someone who won’t look at all like detective Hole; probably a cute bankable male movie-star about a foot shorter than the book’s main character and 100 times better looking).

As I guessed from the hints in the previous novels and from what I know of Nesbro’s frequent trips to BKK, the story begins in the Far-East with Harry Hole holed up in Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road. The place is the successor to the walled City of Kowloon’s function as the center of the city’s petite underworld. I know about it because I recall one of my Hong Kong clients, as we passed it on the street one day, pointing up to it with pride as one of his family’s premier development projects and source of much of the family’s wealth.

My emotional connection with Hole increased with Nesbro’s description of him living alone in exile in a small dingy room drunk, stoned and broke. I of course, don’t drink much nor do drugs anymore, primarily because I cannot afford it but also because of my addiction fears. So, I exercise my obsessions by reading six hours or so a day lying on the bed in my darkened room – It is pretty much the same thing as being stoned but not nearly as pleasant.

Anyway, Harry returns to Norway in order to solve a series murders, which he does six or eight times. Each time he is ultimately proven to be wrong causing unbelievable pain and suffering to all around him. Finally, by foolishly stumbling into killing a few innocent people to save the woman he is sleeping with but who is not the woman he really loves, the whole thing ends with a bang so to speak.

One thing I do not like about the books is that in the few occasions when Harry does have sex (He, however, seems to have more as the series of novels progress. I expect the final novel will be indistinguishable from ordinary porn), it is always perfect with both parties deliriously in sync and cumming at the same time. Now, I don’t know what universe Nesbro lives in, but sex can be spectacular or it can be unsatisfying, but it is never perfect; one party always has to wait for the other or ends up lying in the wet spot.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but 23% of the world’s prison population. Of the 15 States with the largest percentage of their citizens incarcerated 13 of them are from the old South. Louisiana imprisons its citizens at over twice the rate of any other state in the union. The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the hight of apartheid.

What this means is that for the last 250 years the American South has been, for millions of people, one of the most oppressive places on earth. We should not forget that if you were a white German Protestant, Germany was a pretty cool place for you to live in the 1930s. You would have thought that you enjoyed all the fruits of liberty, freedom and economic health and that those imprisoned were criminals, foreigners or threats to your security.

It also should be noted that the Civil War was about the politics of power as well as slavery. Under the Constitution at that time it was permissible to count slaves as citizens for purposes of determining the number of members to the House of Representatives allocated primarily to the South while at the same time not allowing those same “pseudo-citizens” the right to vote on who those Representatives would be.

The various political controversies over who can vote at the polls that we are experiencing today carries on this dispute. Republicans, especially in the South want the ability to restrict which citizens can vote, but continue to insist the allocation of the number of their Representatives in Congress be based on including those whom they do not allow to vote.

To be fair and balanced, I should mention that, on the other hand, Democrats would like to enable everyone to vote and be counted, even foreign international travelers as they change planes in an American airport on their way to their destination in another country.

TODAY’S QUOTE:
“I have problems with a religion that says faith in itself is enough for a ticket to heaven. In other words, that the ideal is your ability to manipulate your own common sense to accept something your intellect rejects. It’s the same model of intellectual submission that dictatorships have used throughout time, the concept of a higher reasoning without any obligation to discharge the burden of proof.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer.

“There was only one thing emptier than having lived without love, and that was having lived without pain.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
kpt5hja

Each separate color shows an area with approximately the same population as California. The smallest of which elects about 6 US Senators and the largest almost 30. California is allowed only 2. The top ten states have over 50% of the nation’s population, but only 20% of the votes in the Senate. California with over 10% of the population has 2% of the votes. The 10 States with the smallest populations have less than 2% of the nations people but controls 20% of the Senate.

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Jo Jo 0002 (May 31, 2013)

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

There has been a change at the health club where I spend most of my mornings. No, not a change in ownership or rules or even personnel. And certainly there has not been a change in the general run down nature of the place. It is as different from the chrome palaces of modern health clubs as it always has been. What’s changed has been its culture. Yes I know, unless it is some sweaty broken gym for boxers or more modern dojo’s for martial arts, most health club’s cater to a rather vanilla cross-section of young up and comers. But even there, if you look close enough and long enough at your own health club, you will soon see underneath the acres of spandex vague indications of a culture that separates your club from the one in the high-rise on the next corner.

The membership of the health club at the Ambassador Hotel in BKK of which I am a member and for which LM is employed as a masseuse, has always been made up of, in addition to guests in the hotel, mostly older men and women who preferred to pay a membership fee about one-half less than the membership fee at any of the other hotel health clubs in the area and did not mind the steady but slow deterioration in the facilities. Membership, like the facilities, has been declining for the entire three years I have been a member.

However, upon my return from the United States a few weeks ago I noticed that the membership decline has stopped and seemed to have reversed itself. The lockers in the locker rooms are now all taken and new banks of lockers have been installed. On the surface, these new members seem to be much like the existing members, older western males, local professional women and Indian and Arab men and women who are guests at the hotel.

Recently, LM has complained that the massage services that used to be supplied by 6 to 8 full-time women masseuses and a picture book of others on call has been reduced to two providers. Since the beginning of the month, there has been only one massage appointment made for either of those two. On the other hand, the number of male masseuses has increased from two to 8 or 12.

I suspect that usual massage business performed by female therapists has been undercut by the lower cost massage parlors that line the nearby streets in the neighborhood. On the other hand, no such outlets for connection and release exist for women in general, business women in particular as well as for men preferring a man’s touch but hesitant about frequenting the gay clubs nearby.

*****

This week I set off for a few days at Jomtien Beach. For those new to T&T or those that may not recall, I lived for almost a year in an apartment near the beach in this town. The building was called, Jomtien Beach Paradise Condominiums so I took to calling the area Paradise by the Sea. Since it is also about two miles from that emporium of erotic excess Pattaya, I added, Two Miles from the Outskirts of Hell to its description.

Paradise by the Sea used to be the native Thai beach resort area while Pattaya, the Outskirts of Hell, was reserved for western, mostly male tourists. Eventually the bright lights and noise of the Vietnam War enlisted mens R&R resort was overwhelmed by high rises, at first to house the ex-military who retired here hoping to maintain the dreams of that which nature is destined to erode. This was followed by ongoing attempts to convert the town to a traditional beach tourist attraction with its sin city reputation as an un-mentioned attraction. (As a beach resort minus the sex Pattaya deserves a Meh ranking at best.)

The high-rise condo and resort mania has overlapped into the adjacent city of Jomtien Beach driving the native Thais beyond its borders and replacing them first with a mixed bag of Western European and American males and more recently Russians primarily from Siberia.

I stay is a decidedly down scale guest house managed by a sad-faced woman whose teen-aged daughter immobilized by birth defects lies semi comatose on a cot in the lobby.

Two or three times a day I walk about a mile or two along the beach. I have stayed in some of the finest beach resorts in the world, but for some reason I find that I am more comfortable and at peace sitting on the balcony of my tiny room than I had been in any of those elegant establishments.

*****

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Princess LuckyGirl the prime minister of Thailand and sister of the deposed and fugitive prior Prime Minister of the country, Thaksin the Terrible, recently has travelled to other countries and has given speeches extolling the values of democracy. For some reason the opposition party led by the ex-Prime Minister whose party was never elected, Abhsit the Unready, believed it was awful for her to have done so. It seems that they believe that by speaking about the general benefits of democracy she is criticizing their time in power. — I think it is a cultural thing.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Note: the following continues my series about the four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.

A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):

3. My job interview:

The white marble Greco-Roman building housing the NY Supreme Court’s First Appellate Division contained the offices of the newly created Mental Health Information Services (MHIS). It was situated just off Madison Square Park at Madison and E. 25th street. To the east a few blocks the forbidding red brick buildings of Belview Hospital, NY’s première psychiatric hospital containing the infamous wards for the city’s criminally insane, rose above the East River. To the south sprawled Stuyvesant Town a city within the city. To the west the garment district and Chelsea ran in an arc from north to south and contained Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. Immediately to the north were the flagship emporiums of Macy’s and Gimbles. The old Penn Station and Madison Square Garden buildings are gone now but the rest remain, gentrified or like the garment district, pale shadows of their prior glory.

The newly installed executive director of the MHIS was a man rotund of belly and of face. With a mouth too large for even that face, thick eyeglasses and wispy hair on a head going prematurely bald, he looked a bit like a large frog. He wore a rumpled three-piece grey suit, white shirt and unassuming tie. His name was Simon Rosenzweig. He was a revelation to me.

Having attended what passed for a progressive Catholic High School and a Jesuit run University, I had a pretty clear idea of the Catholic Social Gospel and the mess the 2000 year criminal conspiracy represented by the Catholic hierarchy tried to make of it. I also knew what saintliness was all about. You know, washing the leper’s sores, feeding the poor and things like that.

I could never do that; never see myself off in the jungle somewhere bathing some feverous child dying of malnutrition. This always made me feel I was destined to be an incorrigible moral failure my entire life.

But here before me for the first time I recognized something or someone different. You see, that whole saintly thing was only intended to try to make the suffering lighter for those whose lives could not change. You know, “The poor are always with us.”

But in Simon here was someone who believed things could be changed so that the particular type of suffering no longer occurs. No more bathing of sores. Instead, if we change the conditions, the suffering itself can be diminished. In effect those engaged in this type of endeavor could be considered physicians to society. This, I decided, was what the Kennedy challenge was all about. I wanted to do that.

But there was a problem. You see, at that time, 1965, the US was still divided by those who went to Ivy league schools and those who did not. And to go to an ivy league school you had to be either white protestant, fabulously wealthy, or born with some preternatural intellectual, artistic of physical gifts. Also in general, unless you were a fully evolved advanced human being like Paul Robeson, you still had to be white or almost white, unless, of course, your father owned some country in Africa, South America or Asia and the assumption was that you would be going back there after you finished your education. As far as lawyers were concerned, even if you were an ivy league graduate, you often were not hired by the large Wall Street firms if you were, say, jewish, Puerto rican, italian or black unless you parents were major clients of the firm (and even then you could never aspire to becoming a partner). In those cases you went out to find jobs in industry or in government, set up your own firm or, moved to California.

At my interview Simon explained up front that the lawyer jobs in MHIS were intended to be slotted to ivy league graduates only. Nevertheless he allowed me to continue with the interview. At the end of the interview he sat there silently staring at me for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, he told me that even though I had not attended an ivy league school he was disposed to hire me because of all the young attorneys he interviewed I was the only one who spoke about the patients welfare and not the principles involved.

While I was happy to get the job, my feelings were somewhat equivocal. I was never all that good on legal principles so talking about the patients and their welfare was really all I that had going for me.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.
Kasper Gutman: Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.

Chapter 16:

I stared blankly at the phone after I disconnected from Mavis. I was pulled back from wherever I had gone off to by Joe Vu who had thrust his iPhone in front of me. I took it from him, put it to my ear and heard an angry Martin Vihn say:

“What were you trying to do with Lilly?”

Answered, “It doesn’t matter anymore. Clarence Reilly has been found.”

“What? Where?”

“Floating beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, dead.”

There was silence for a moment then, “Suicide?”

“I have no idea.”

Another momentary silence then, “I want you to find out how he died. Also what happened to the shipment.”

“Sorry, I don’t work for you anymore. My assignment was to find Reilly. I did. You want to hire me again, the terms are the same as before.”

Controlled anger flowed from the phone like waves of heat from a tenement fire.

“Who do you think you are?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know what you can have done to me. But, if you wanted to you could have done so when you first hired me. And, if you do it now you still are going to have to hire someone anyway. After all, like everything else in this case it’s all business, isn’t it?”

He chuckled. “OK. Same deal but this time I want you to find out how Clarence died and if someone killed him who. Also, what happened to the shipment of furniture.”

Following a little more negotiation and receiving the answers to some questions I had, I hung up, returned the phone to Joe and asked him to drive me home.

“To your place on Fourth not the Utah, right?” he said.

“How did you know?” I said only a bit surprised.

“I’m a detective in training.”

“Hmm. Put on some good clothing. We probably are going to a serious affair this evening. I’ll call you.”

He dropped me off. Once inside of my loft, I called Fat Al Pischotti. I met Fat Al while I was working my way through law school as an intern for Hal Lipset. Hal was a famous San Francisco detective who worked out of his home, a mansion in Pacific Heights. He was known far and wide for inventing the martini with a radio transmitter imbedded in the olive. It was useless since once and liquid was poured into the glass the transmitter no longer worked. It didn’t matter, the PR was worth it to Hal. Alas, with the coming of the computer age, the blue collar, shoe leather PI’s like Hal have been replaced by technology geeks who can acquire as much information in an hour as Hal at his best could gather in a week.

At that time Fat Al was a homicide detective for the City. After putting in his 20 years he promptly retired and opened his own detective agency. Actually Al was just the face, his wife ran the agency.

I asked Al as a favor to find out through his police contacts anything he could about Reilly’s death and to keep his ears open about the event I was sure would occur this evening.

After that, I took a shower, laid down in my bed and spent about an hour berating myself for allowing myself to get involved in all this foolishness. Just before I fell asleep, however, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had made more money this week than any other week since I started this business. Mavis was not too bad a benefit either.
DAILY FACTOID:

“[T]he net debts of Wal-Mart… have soared — up 5,760 percent since 1987. By comparison, the roughly 600 percent rise in the U.S. public debt over the same period looks restrained. Is Wal-Mart mad?”
http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/05/josh-barro-boehner-accidentally-explains-why-his-deficit-position-is-phony-bloomberg.html#more

(Although I often am in agreement with Professor DeLong, I must point out, who except the heirs of Wal-Mart’s founder cares if it collapses due to the madness of its managers, but the collapse of the US due to the madness of its political leaders is nothing to sneeze at.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tales of Inhumanity:

The Banality of Evil.

MAY 18, 1943, Report from Sturmbannfuehrer Gricksch to SS-Col. von Herff and Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler:

“The Auschwitz camp plays a special role in the resolution of the Jewish question. The most advance methods permit the execution of the Fuehrer-order in the shortest possible time and without arousing much attention.

The so-called “resettlement action” runs the following course:

The Jews arrive in special trains (freight cars) toward evening and are driven on special tracks to areas of the camp specifically set aside for this purpose.

There the Jews are unloaded and examined for their fitness to work by a team of doctors, in the presence of the camp commandant and several SS officers. At this point anyone who can somehow be incorporated into the work program is put in a special camp.

The curably ill are sent straight to a medical camp and are restored to health through a special diet. The basic principle behind everything is: conserve all manpower for work. The previous type of “resettlement action” has been thoroughly rejected, since it is too costly to destroy precious work energy on a continual basis.

The unfit go to cellars in a large house which are entered from outside. They go down five or six steps into a fairly long, well-constructed and well-ventilated cellar area, which is lined with benches to the left and right. It is brightly lit, and the benches are numbered.

The prisoners are told that they are to be cleansed and disinfected for their new assignments. They must therefore completely undress to be bathed. To avoid panic and to prevent disturbances of any kind, they are instructed to arrange their clothing neatly under their respective numbers, so that they will be able to find their things again after their bath.

Everything proceeds in a perfectly orderly fashion. Then they pass through a small corridor and enter a large cellar room which resembles a shower bath. In this room are three large pillars, into which certain materials can be lowered from outside the cellar room. When three- to four-hundred people have been herded into this room, the doors are shut, and containers filled with the substances are dropped down into the pillars.

As soon as the containers touch the base of the pillars, they release particular substances that put the people to sleep in one minute. A few minutes later, the door opens on the other side, where the elevator is located. The hair of the corpses is cut off, and their teeth are extracted (gold-filled teeth) by specialists (Jews). It has been discovered that Jews were hiding pieces of jewelry, gold, platinum etc., in hollow teeth.

Then the corpses are loaded into elevators and brought up to the first floor, where ten large crematoria are located. (Because fresh corpses burn particularly well, only 50-100 lbs. of coke are needed for the whole process.) The job itself is performed by Jewish prisoners, who never step outside this camp again.

The results of this “resettlement action” to date: 500,000 Jews. Current capacity of the “resettlement action” ovens: 10,000 in 24 hours.

(As I pointed out in an earlier post, it may be that there may have been crueler and greater genocides [e.g. the slaughter of the Native Americans], in none, however, do we have the extent of testimony by the victims themselves and obsessive record keeping by the murderers as we do in this one.

It is this testimony that should remind everyone of the horrors that can flow from hate and irrational fear. [It should be recalled that, until the attack on Pearl Harbor, a majority of Americans had no problem with the rhetoric and policies coming out of the Axis countries that ultimately led to the barbarity reported above.]

It is no defense to denying someone a job, education or medical treatment because of their racial, gender, ethnic or sexual orientation that, unlike what occurred in the 1930s and 40s, it has not yet ended in horrible death. Nevertheless, almost daily I receive emails and other communications or hear political leaders who proudly revel in their belief of the justice and equity of their fear and of their hate. They alas only too often call that hate, American values.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It was a rare fine night for a stroll down by the docks, the moon plump as a new pillow in an old-fashioned hotel and the undertow in the turning tide swushing its ripples silvery-green and a bird you’ve never heard before chirring its homesick tale of a place you might once have known and most likely now will never see, mid-June and almost midnight and balmy yet, the kind of evening built for a long walk with a woman who likes to take long walks and not say very much, and that little in a murmur you have to strain to catch, her laughter low and throaty, her humour dry and favouring lewd, eyes like smoky mirrors of the vast night sky and in them twinkles that might be stars reflecting or the first sparks of intentions that you’d better fan with soft words and a gentle touch in just the right place or spend the rest of your life and maybe forever wondering what might have been, all for the want of a soft word and a touch gentle and true.”

(This single 183 word long sentence opens the novel Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke. It has nothing at all to do with anything else that follows in the novel. That is much like the opening paragraphs of every chapter in his namesake James Lee Burke’s novels about the two male-bonded goodfellows of Iberia Parish in Louisiana that also have nothing to do with whatever follows in the chapter. But, they are beautiful.)

TODAY’S CHART:

nasa-climate-change-e1358345450589

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

972035_10151441431366275_2076552662_n

(These same sentiments, enhanced by the patina of the intellectual rhetoric of the time, were applied with equal vehemence to immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Poland, China and Japan when they first began arriving here in America in large numbers. I wonder if the descendants of those immigrants feel that they and their ancestors were so much dumber then the progeny of those previous immigrants many of whom settled in Appalachia and the deep South and who either made or believed those claims.)

 

Categories: April 1213 through June 1213 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Joseph 0002 (December 25, 2012 Christmas Day)

 

“We all (in Bangkok) celebrate the birth of a Jewish man, who’s a messenger to the Muslims, God to the Christians and another reason to get drunk for the Buddhists”
Voranai Vanijaka, The Bangkok Post.

I hope you all are enjoying your holidays

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. A brief trip to Paradise by the Sea.

To celebrate my free day, observe the ending of the world and visit Bill’s new venture the “Winchester Gun Club,” a “gentleman’s club in Jomtien Beach, I decided to travel to Paradise by the Sea and spend a few days there. After a not too unpleasant two-hour bus ride, we arrived and tried to find a room at the little guest house that we usually stay in.

Alas, it was the time of the year for the mass migration of Russians from the frozen Steppes south on to the ragged edges of the Indian Ocean. The only similar migration of which I am familiar was the sweeping of the “alters” from the frigid streets of New York and the depositing of them like dice rolled in a street corner craps game upon the burning sands surrounding Biscayne Bay, there to remain until their internment in some recently reclaimed bit of the Everglades.

Even though the area in which the little guest house was located was downscale even by Russian standards (but not so for American expats on Social Security) there were no accommodations available in any of the 50 or so small hotels in the two block area. All that was left were a few tiny windowless rooms usually reserved for short time rentals. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term “short time,” try to think of what activity requires the rental of a hotel room for three hours or less.)

The streets, hotels restaurants, bars and massage parlors in this little neighborhood teemed with Russians; Slavs with their inverted banana ski-jump noses and the denizens of the Caucuses and the Steppes with their grand potato schnozes.

Now some of you have commented on my obsession with probosci of all sort. That infatuation, however, is not engendered by a fondness for my Mediterranean ancestors spread along all sides of that remarkable inland sea who sport some of the most gargantuan and bizarre examples. You probably do not know this, but one of the first physical changes that separated us from our cousins the chimpanzees and bonobos was movement of our nostrils from within the plane of our facial plate outward, to dangle in space at the end of a slightly flexible hunk of cartilage. So when you hear the phrase, “follow your nose,” it does not mean to follow the smell since that sense had diminished greatly from the capabilities exhibited by our simian relatives when we obtained our proboscis, but to follow the ascent of the various permutations of civilization these inquisitive appendages, for better of worse, have gotten us into.

We chose a room in the place I usually stay at. The street level floor is an open shop front with a counter. The proprietor sits behind the counter. She is almost always accompanied by her child who appears stricken with severe birth defects, rendering her immobile and deformed. When not dealing with customers, the woman spends her time rubbing down the child’s limbs, feeding her or speaking or humming something softly into her ear. The woman has a look of intensely deep sorrow. It is beyond anything I have ever seen in Thailand. Everyone else in the country seems to hide their feelings behind either the ever-present smile or a blank emotionless face that leaves one often wondering if anyone is at home. I do not know why I always chose to stay at this particular guest house, but I do.

As I said our room is windowless that means if there is a fire we die. Since the world was going to end in two days anyway, I was willing to take the risk.

The next morning we got up early and went out for our walk along the beach. When we got on to the sand we were greeted by the sight of hundreds’ of exposed boobs, both male and female glistening brightly like bleached bones in the morning sun, destined to glow a bright cherry red when the sun reached it zenith and turn a dark mottled brown like burnt toast when the sun sets that evening over the gulf of Thailand. On a pure tonnage basis, including my own not unsubstantial addition, I reckon that the males have the females on that beach beaten by the proverbial country mile.

As long as I am discussing humanities difference from other simians, I should point out that at about the same time the protuberance made its appearance in the middle of our ancestors faces, perky little sprouts bloomed upon the chests of their pubescent females that contrasted greatly with the determinedly consistent flat chested aspect of our ape cousins. Another advance in the humanity’s march to dominate its environment. Another time, if asked, I will explain the role in the development of civilization of the disappearance of hair from most of our ancestors bodies and the Sophie’s Choice that it presented to the human body louse. (Speaking of Lice, did you know that Napoleon’s army was not destroyed by the Russians but by typhoid bearing lice. It was a lousy way to go)

 

I took a long walk along the water’s edge. The water was as warm as freshly spilled blood. Now and then I would leave the sand and run across the road to look at the condo sale and rental ads in the windows of several of the real-estate agent’s shops that lined Beach Road. I still hoped to return to live there some day.

After the walk, we returned to the room to rest and escape the midday heat. While dozing I dreamily watched a television news program showing a security camera tape of a child, about two years old, playing near the rear wheel of an automobile. Suddenly the car backed up running over the child. It then moved forward running her over again. Shocked, I screamed, ran into the bathroom and started retching. I could hear the television reporters describing the scene as they played the tape over and over again. When I finished retching, I returned to the room and quickly shut off the TV, threw on some clothes, left the room and ran down the steps to get some air. LM ran after me, “Wait,” she said, “Good Luck. Baby lived.” I ignored her. Outside, I walked rapidly back and forth in front of the hotel wondering what kind of culture would show such a thing on television. At least there were no hoards of reporters seeking out the child’s pre-school classmates in order to get exclusive interviews on what they thought about the situation.

I no longer felt like visiting Bill’s new place and after a brief evening walk along the beach, I went to bed and slept badly. Thankfully, my dreams were not about run over little children or even those shot with assault rifles. Instead the blackness of my dreams were filled with giant translucent jellyfish like those that wash up on the beach here in great numbers. They resembled giant oozing glowing boobs that loomed up out of the darkness. They chased me along the beach. I tried to scream when they caught up to me but I couldn’t because they began to smother me, and then of course, I woke up. Interestingly, I did not dream about noses. I probably do not fear them as much.

In the morning, another walk on the beach followed by a van ride back to Bangkok. For the first time in over a decade, I did not feel sad at leaving Paradise by the Beach. I guess that will pass, eventually.

2. Twas the night before Christmas.

It actually began the morning before Christmas. The depression that had been building for a week now crashed in on me and I could hardly move from bed. It simply may be the traditional despondency I (and probably many others) feel during holiday season. I do not know. By midday it had blossomed into full-blown despair. It was not so much that I no longer wanted to wake up in the morning, every morning for as long as could to see how things turn out, but I no longer cared if I ever got out of bed again. Desperation, hopelessness and guilt had gotten to me.

LM wanted to go to the movies. So that afternoon I dragged myself from the apartment and we went to see “Life of Pi” at the theater in the Terminal Twenty-One shopping mall. The movie managed to blow away much of the melancholy I was experiencing. It was not so much because the movie was simply another a feel good film with their usual 5 minute shot of euphoria. Rather it was because, to me, the film seemed to be saying that in life perseverance was all that mattered but even so, all you ended up with are stories. Stories, perhaps meaningful to you and perhaps not, but to others whatever it is that they see in them that makes them feel good is OK. For some reason that cheered me up.

Just before going into the theater, I received a call from Nikki. He said that the man who SWAC decided to spend the holidays with in Vancouver called him distressed by her beating Hayden. Later after I told LM what Nikki had called about, she said, “Why would she do that. Nikki sends her enough money?” I will never understand this culture. Their cupidity is moderated only by their passivity.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Street Sweeping in Bangkok.

The Bangkok Post reports the beginning of a crackdown on foreign prostitutes with the arrest of a number of Kazakstani (or Kyrgyzstani; I am unclear about which) prostitutes working the streets of Bangkok. The police spokesman said that the reason for the crackdown was that prostitution is illegal in Thailand and it posed a threat to the moral fiber of the nation. During the 20 or so years I have been coming to Thailand I have observed a number of crackdowns on “foreign” prostitutes, but never any on domestic Thai ladies and ladyboys of the morning, evening and night. I assume that is because there are no Thai prostitutes. However payment for performances of traditional Thai erotic art still appears to be permitted.

2. The law is the law.

The political party in power, unable to gain amnesty for the deposed, fugitive and exiled Prime Minister Thaksin the Terrible because of the committed opposition by the minority party (which, as far as I can tell has no other issue it really cares about.*) has decided to charge two of the leaders of the opposition party with murder and other crimes. The opposition party understandably has cried foul. Spokesmen for the party in power have said the action has nothing to do with their deposed leader. Anyway he really does not want to come back if there is anyone left who does not want him to.

(*The leader of the of the opposition party, Abhsit the Unready, in commenting on the ruling party’s plans to rewrite the Nation’s constitution said that he did not care what they wrote into the Constitution as link as they did not change that portion that prevents TTT from returning.)

3. Say what?

The Thai military that has governed the country through a succession of coups for most of the last 80 years, has announced they have no interest anymore in the government or the country but only in protecting the honor of the monarchy that they deposed 80 years ago.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

From Harper’s Index:

Percentage of Canadians who believe in global warming : 98

Of Americans who do : 70

Of Republicans : 48

Percentage of Republicans who believe in demonic possession : 68

Percentage of the population of Valencia, Spain, that is currently unemployed : 28

Price of a weeklong prostitution training course offered there since May : $127

Cost of a pair of “all-American” blue jeans designed by Glenn Beck : $129.99

The question this raises is whether someone in Valencia is possessed by demons if they buy Glen Beck’s jeans instead of learning how to get fucked or are they all really Republicans from Canada? Does anyone actually read Harper’s Magazine? How many people even know what it is?

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

205105_10151376564753487_480843197_n

The drop in income after 2005 among the 90-95% may have been caused by the collapse of the real estate industry at that time.

B. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (chapter three or four).

I got back to the Mo Chit Skytrain station without too much difficulty and took the train a few stops back to where it meets up with the elevated railway that goes to the airport. I crossed over to the Airport train station and paid my fare. I discovered that I had paid a three dollar fare for the luxury express. I did not know there was such a thing. Normally I would have chosen the lower fare train, but I guess in my hurry I was not paying attention. When the train arrived and I entered the car I was surprised. Normally the rail cars have the usual bench like plastic seats aligned along the walls facing each other. Here they were upholstered airline seats in orderly rows facing forward. As I took my seat and the train started up I was pleased despite my extravagance. I was comfortable and the trip would be much shorter than the local giving me time to get my business done at the airport and return to the Immigration Offices.

Although the existing Skytrain had been built through the center of Bangkok, touching almost all the tourist and commercial areas and had already been extended halfway to the airport, the powers that be, both financial and governmental, decided it would be in their interests to create a separate company and transit line just to service the airport. They would place their stations where the airport line intersected existing mass transit lines . The theory being, I suppose, that the people, in the tourist and commercial areas and the like who wanted to get to the airport by less expensive mass transit would be willing to lug their suitcases on to one mass transit facility, travel for quite some time to the transfer point and then lug their things over to the new line for the final trip to the airport. Everyone was surprised when it didn’t work and the expected ridership failed to occur. Since then there have been the usual marketing campaigns, promoted by marketing mavens who convinced the powers that be that poor marketing was the problem and not any defect in the concept. That has not worked either.

Anyway I took my seat and stared out of my window as we rode high above the city. In an effort to reduce costs, in addition to scrimping on the quality of the stations, the roadway and the rolling stock, a route was chosen that avoided the developed portions of the city. From a point some where not too far from the palace grounds on the river and extenuating almost all the way to the new international airport there extends a relatively undeveloped strip of land about a half a mile wide. I have no idea what urban development dynamics caused this. Through this stretch the airport rail line travelled.

As I looked out my window I could see that in this stretch of land the jungle still existed. Not the jungle one sees in documentaries with thick gnarled trees and multi-storied green terraces, but a marsh jungle of grassland, clumps of thick vegetation with wispy leaved trees and black waters peeping through from beneath it all. In the distance the shining high rises gleamed and the pressed in on the margins. Here and there a collection for shacks of what I have learned are referred to as informal communities appeared. Rusted corrugated roofing covering dwellings and shops made from a variety of urban detritus, Narrow little lanes teeming with people zigzagged through each community. The structures were either built on stilts over the black waters of the marsh, or crowding over remnant canals.

I was enjoying the view and my contemplation when the first attack occurred. Fleas began their relentless assault of stinging bites all over my body. I wanted to run from the train howling, but it was the express, so I had no choice but to sit there. When the train rolled into the airport, I left it quickly. I already had started to feel the little red welts rising all over my body. I thought I must have looked as though I had come down with a case of measles.

At least I had arrived. I consoled myself with the thought that the protagonists of Conrad, Kafka and Coppola who furnished the material for this extended and convoluted metaphor faced worse. (Next – Disgust, loathing and redemption at the Airport.)

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

“There isn’t bad weather, only wrong clothes…”
Ken Bruen
TODAY’S CHART:

397103_10151179306366275_1555960518_n

Could this mean that Americans hate other Americans more than Muslim terrorists hate Americans?

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN0538
Christmas in Thailand

 

Categories: October 2012 through December 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Pepe 0001 (October 28, 2012)

 

“Historically, Populism like most mass movements scours up both the worst and the best in a society as it scrapes across its depths. It is prompted by a deep mistrust of a community’s most powerful individuals and institutions who, its adherents believe have misused and mishandled the trust they had been granted; violated the social contract if you will. As the indefatigable realist Machiavelli pointed out, on the broad areas of public policy the general populace is almost always more reliable than the élite.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM THAILAND AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND CALIFORNIA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago was the home of the sainted Scarface Al. Alas, I have never visited any of the pilgrimage sites there; such as SMC Cartage warehouse site of the massacre that occurred on the feast day of the saint of love. I sometime wonder what ever happened to many of the relics of my legendary ethnic heroes. Are they in a museum somewhere? Where now, for example, are the artifacts such as Anastasia’s barber chair, Mo Green’s massage table, St. Frank’s used condoms,

The mausoleum of Joe DiMaggio at Holy Cross Ce...

The mausoleum of Joe DiMaggio at Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deano’s shot glass and Mario Puzo‘s typewriter? And, while I am at it, where have you really gone Joe DiMaggio? And, why did Tony Benedetto, (nee Bennet), a New Yorker who chose to live in LA, really decide to leave his heart is SF?
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Just because an outcome is determined does not necessarily make it predictable.

The motion system of three or more stars acting on each other gravitationally is generically chaotic. Similarly no activity affected by the behavior of three or more human beings is predictable in the long-term. On the other hand, as it has been pointed out time and again, in the long-term we all end up dead. But, not before someone does something so unpredictable it makes it all seem almost worthwhile.

DAILY FACTOID:

Tony Bennet (nee Benedetto) is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in NYC.

I bet you did not know something like that exists. What do the students actually learn there; the art of punching out hecklers, the aphrodisiacal benefits of Wheaties Breakfast of Champions, how to be successful singing off-key, the secret meaning of doobie doobie doo…?

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Testosterone Chronicles:

• When looking at pictures of immoral acts, women’s judgments of severity correlate with higher levels of activation in emotion centers of the brain, suggesting concern for victims, whereas men show higher activation in areas that might involve deployment of principles
(Carla Harenski and collaborators).

What this seems to me to mean, if one can generalize it to a gender based approach to public policy, is:

“For men, first punish the guilty and for women, first protect the innocent.”

 

• When men watch wrongdoers getting punished, there is activation in reward centers of their brains, whereas women’s brains show activation in pain centers, suggesting that they feel empathy for suffering even when it is deserved
(Tania Singer and collaborators).

Does this mean that women are genetically predisposed to liberalism? No wonder God considers them the lesser sex.

• Numerous studies have found that women are more likely than men to reciprocate acts of kindness.
(reviewed by Rachel Croson and Uri Gneezy).

Screw you Rachel and Uri. I will have you know that men are kinder to their guns, beer and dogs than women are. We also think we are kind to (and admittedly, at times a little frightened by) large female breasts; vaginas, not so much.

In an analysis of the range of findings of the emotional differences between men and women in situations that could affect social decision-making (some of which I have included in precious posts), the authors opine that on the whole, women seem to be more empathetic and more focused on the collective good. This is broadly consistent with the suggestion by at least one of the researchers that women are more likely than men to base moral decision on a care orientation, whereas men gravitate more towards principles.

This is why I previously wrote:

“For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures to be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years every justification of those structures have been developed by men to benefit men.”
Trenz Pruca’s Journal.

Would it not now be appropriate for men to just step aside and turn the whole sorry mess we have made of things over to women? I doubt very much that they could do worse than we men have.

B. Electioneering:

I am getting sick of receiving the same email from several of my more right wing friends about a “good friend” of theirs from Texas who threatens to close down his business if Obama is reelected.

1. He is not your “good friend.”
2. He is not from Texas.
3. He will not close down his business if Obama is reelected.

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“The Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads.”
Robert Kennedy, 1968

“Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.”
Unknown

TODAY’S CHART:

Eco-Regions-USA-Source-EPA
Map of North American Bio-regions. I am not sure about the significance of this chart except that it looks nice and whoever did it spent a lot of time at it.

 

Categories: October 2012 through December 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Joe 0001 (July 18,2012)

 

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

Today I am announcing  termination of my candidacy for President of the United States. This section of “This and that…” will also end.

I am ending my campaign because the candidacies of the truly insane have, well,… gone into the toilet, leaving me the difficult task of thinking up parodies rather than simply reproducing the candidates own public statements.

Also, as I have mentioned previously, I am one of the few people who actually likes, Mendacious Mitt. For someone completely lacking a public personality, he has managed to become the medias dream candidate by basically refusing to do things. Some pundits have criticized his refusals as bad strategy, but I, on the other hand, suspect that it may be brilliant.

Imagine if during his acceptance speech after garnering the nomination at the Republican convention he refuses to run for president. The free press coverage would dwarf what he could buy no matter how large the campaign contributions made by those 10 wealthy men into his independent expenditure funds.

This section will be hereafter replaced by:

POOKIE’S PUERILE EPIGRAMS:

1. Consciousness is nothing more than post hoc rationalization.

2. Humans are not rational animals, but rationalizing ones.

3. Consciousness is what one tells oneself to keep away the darkness.

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

This weekend I returned to “Paradise by the Sea” (Jomtien Beach) to visit with Bill who was spending a few days in “The Outskirts of Hell” (Pattaya) about two miles from “Paradise by the Sea.” He had just returned from a brief trip to Malaysia scoping out business opportunities there and unwinding somewhere between the gates of paradise and the portals of hell from the rigors of Muslim Puritanism.

I met him and Ray at the “Oval Table” where about a year ago the Geriatric Knights set off on their adventures. Three of the original five Knights were there, Density, Harvey and Giufa. Horace who prefers to be called Jerome we would met up with that evening. Spy was off knight erranting somewhere south of Outremer searching for the Grail or a stray yoni or two which were hard to find where he was at.

We decided to dub Ray into the club (The Rub a Dub Club?). We could not decide on a suitable heraldic name for him. We were stuck between “Omar the Tent Maker” and “Sinbad the Sailor.” I decided to compromise on “Sinbad the Tent Maker.”

Alas, Angelina-Tai, Selma-moo, Princess Oy and the other houri had long ago departed for other caravansaries, and soon so did we.

I checked into the guest house on Jomtien Beach Road Soi 3 where I stayed the last time I was there, napped and waited for LM.

That evening we met Bill, Mike and Ray for dinner at a restaurant on the Walking Street. After dinner we went to a nearby go-go bar where Ray was to meet with the ex-owner to discuss business opportunities in Pattaya. The ex-owners claim to fame was that he managed to sell his failing go-go bar to someone else and now passes himself off as an expert in doing business in Thailand.

The tiny club consisted of a row of booths surrounding a small stage upon which about 10 poles reaching to the ceiling were set. A selection of slightly overweight women, naked from the waist up, one hand on a pole, moved their bodies in a desultory fashion to some over loud 20-year-old rock music while staring boredly at themselves in the mirrors that covered the walls behind the booths. We were the only customers.

We then went to a place called the Windmill a few steps away from the go-go place. Here the joint was packed. It featured various fully naked women performing simulated sex acts and others, equally naked, jumping in and out of Jacuzzis, while various old over-weight men with wallets out were peeling off notes from wads of Thai money and handing it to other naked women whose bodies were pressed against them.

For those who picture the Outskirt’s of Hell as a simply an aging white male sexist paradise you could not be further from the truth. Unlike God, who seems to prefer well muscled male mesomorphs, Lucifer is nothing if not an equal opportunity corrupter. Within the Outskirts of Hell there are alley’s devoted to transsexual (Be all that you can be) clubs, lesbian sex clubs and the standard run of the mill gay bars.

You can also shop for souvenirs and buy the sex enhancement medication of your choice at the many establishments specializing in selling those products. And of course restaurants by the ton located on the land or on boat anchored offshore. Food, sexual indulgence and gross corruption are never too far apart.

After a few minutes of observation, LM and I excused ourselves and returned to the hotel.

The next morning LM and I took the ferry to Koh Larn one of the several islands in the Bay of Thailand located off Pattaya and Jomtien Beach. It contains a small village and several tiny beaches adjacent to which one can enjoy lunch for about twice the price of similar fare on the mainland and stare at the high-rises lining the shore across the straight.

We ate lunch at a tiny place by a beach of strange maroon and lemon yellow stones. We were the only customers. After lunch we returned to Pattaya and continued on back to BKK and our apartment.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

“House Republicans have now voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 33 times. Every time they take this vote, it’s time they could be spending on other issues. Other issues like, for instance, what they would do instead of the Affordable Care Act. But though they’ve found the time to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on 33 separate occasions, they have voted to replace the Affordable Care Act exactly … never.”
(Ezra Klein)

What is it that one calls those who perform the same futile act over and over again?

Ha, I got you there. The correct answer is Republicans.

C. OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THAILAND:

1. A Thai comments on his society:

Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most respected english daily newspaper recently wrote:

Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.

2. Thai Beauty:

The most beautiful women in Thailand are men.

TODAY’S FACTOID:

What the hell happened in 1980 to cause this sudden horrendous orgy of incarcerating Americans?

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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


As free spending “liberals,” “Occupy” backers should support the Republican approach to Federal financing over the Democratic.

B. Fun with the Mormons:

Baptism for the dead, vicarious baptism or proxy baptism is a religious practice of baptizing a living person on behalf of an individual who is dead; the living person is acting as the deceased person’s proxy. It has been practiced since 1840 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where it is also called temple baptism because it is performed only in dedicated temples.

In the practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a living person, acting as proxy, is baptized by immersion on behalf of a deceased person of the same gender. The baptism ritual is as follows: after calling the living proxy by name, the person performing the baptism says, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and on behalf of [full name of deceased person], who is dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The proxy is then immersed briefly in the water. Baptism for the dead is a distinctive ordinance of the church and is based on the belief that baptism is a required ordinance for entry into the Kingdom of God.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vicariously baptizes people regardless of race, sex, or creed. This includes both victims and perpetrators of genocide. Some Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their supporters have objected to this practice.

This means that black people and gays can become Mormons after they die. Oh, happy day.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

TODAY’S CHART:


Not only is this chart graphically confusing, but misleading. Republicans have never maintained that they are about jobs. They have always maintained they were about economic growth and smaller government. The fact that similar charts on the economic growth and the size of the Federal government would show that during Democratic administrations the economy grew faster and the size of government smaller then during Republican administrations is irrelevant.

What this chart and others like it do show however, is that during the administration of that “Great Satan” to both Republicans and Liberal Democrats, Bill Clinton, by whatever measure of success one chooses, we seem to have done better than under any other President in recent memory, Republican or Democratic .

Let’s bring back “The Big Gut,” (not a typo). Politics was more interesting and fun then. The problem with the current presidential campaign is that neither candidate can be referred to as a, “Happy Warrior.”

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 

Categories: July through September 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Shadow 0001 (June 30 2012)

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. Paradise by the Sea:

A few days ago, I decided to spend some time back at Jomtien Beach (Paradise by the Sea.) The Little Masseuse and I set off by bus intending to spend two days there. Upon our arrival, I decided to buy a new pair of prescription glasses. I did so, purchasing a pair with thick black plastic frames. It seems, this grossly ugly fashion in eyeglasses has returned. The glasses cost $100 US.

We then checked into a guest house about 50 yards from the beach on a pleasant little alley called Soi 3. After lunch went for a walk along the beach that during previous stays here I named “Siberia by the Sea.” It being summer in Siberia, there were few of those huge white bodies lolling about on the sand. I assumed they were all back in sunny Siberia swatting mosquitoes or whatever it is they do there, when not huddling around a fire attempting to protect themselves from violence of the Arctic ice storms of the Siberian winter.

I walked barefoot in the sand about two miles until I came to the area where I used to live. Walking on the sand is good exercise for an old person like me. It strengthens the small muscles in the ankle and the foot that aid in balance that usually do not get exercised in the gym. Except for dumb-bells generally the large muscle groups get exercised and strengthened with normal gym equipment. This is especially true for exercise machines that from my perspective, are only good for lifting as much weight as you can as often as you are able until you panting and gasping for breath and then moving on to the next machine. At least it makes one strong, healthy or dead. While exercising, I rarely see the difference among the three.

After a brief nap we set off by songtheuw, the small open sided busses common it Thailand, and travelled to “The Outskirts of Hell” as I refer to Pattaya and walked along the walking street and out on to the Long Pier. We ate a dinner of truly horrible fish and chips while I watched the bar-girls and go-go dancers (and their ladyboy counterparts) pass by on their way to work perched on the back of motor bikes and motor scooters their already short skirts hiked up almost to their waist or mincing along on 6 inch spiked heels.

That night, I woke up and found myself is a state or total despair. It was as if a succubus crawled in through the window and sucked all life out of me. By this time in my life, I accepted that no matter the event triggering the episode it is chemical and not philosophic or psychological in nature. Nevertheless, my life during the next few hours ceased to have meaning and I writhed in terror until I fell off to sleep, having consumed a handful of Tylenol in the interim.

The next morning after coffee, we set off for another multi mile walk along the beach. I walked on ahead in some semblance of a power walk while LM hung back exploring the morning’s detritus that littered the beach deposited by the night’s waves.

I walked to the jetty and sat on the rocks contemplating my evening’s despair. Peter’s observation, “The Seventh Seal artfully balances a beach ball on his nose,” rattling around in my brain screaming above the noise of the surf.

After all what is our job in life but to kill and eat as much as we can and leave progeny who then kill, eat and metastasize in their turn. Everything else that does not contribute to those goals, as much as we deny it, is vanity, just there to pass the time in between the killing, eating and fornication.

It is men’s ego (I am sure women would not had thought of it this way) that insists on referring to ourselves as “predators” the “greatest” of the predators no less. We are not. We are “parasites.” Parasites live off the living until they and their hosts die. As a species, it survives by seeking new hosts until none are left. Only most plants, that make their food from the sun water and the dead bodies of their predecessors and carrion eaters like vultures and hyenas avoid the trap of horror and uselessness.

Having worked myself back into a state of despair and wondering if I threw myself off the jetty would I sink or swim, I noticed LM far down the beach and decided that finding out what she had been up to seemed more rewarding and interesting than anything I was doing where I was. So, I got up and walked to her.

I discovered her and a male gleaner arguing over  possession of the carcass of a two foot long squid they found floating in the surf. In between competing claims of ownership, they were also sharing recipes on how best to prepare the cadaver for eating. I decided it better if I just walked on by.

I returned to that portion of the beach adjacent to the soi on which the guest house was located. LM arrived a few minutes later. Apparently she had lost the argument. She then demonstrated for me how well she had learned the many different uses of that handy and flexible english word, “Shit.”

LM has great difficulty learning english. I believe part of the reason is that like most people learning english (and probably other languages as well) she thinks that the more words she memorizes the better she can speak the language. Others, often those who teach english for a living seem to emphasize grammar. Now grammar may be great for learning Latin or ancient Greek, languages that are no longer spoken, but I frankly fail to see what it has to do with modern english much less to teaching it to a non-native speaker.

English seems founded upon basic sentence structure. Words have little meaning in english apart from where they appear in a sentence and grammar is often secondary to position in english comprehension. Some have suggested that one need only to learn 500 or so basic words to have a working knowledge of the language. I think one needs only to learn even fewer basic english sentence structures to do so. I would guess that there are only three or four basic sentences that need to be mastered: identity (Tautological, “I am a man” or positional, “That is a tree”), objective (“John walks to the loo”) or non-objective (John walks). Most english is built out of these sentence types, unlike fully inflected and many other languages, get the words out of order and you have gibberish.

After LM vented for a while we checked out of the room, ate lunch and returned to Bangkok. I remained depressed having learned that Hayden will be leaving next week and prefers to spend his remaining weekend playing with children his own age rather that with a morose old man.

That night I dreamt I was a dead squid.

2. Update:

Since I last posted “This and that…” my schedule seems to have changed once again. The custody hearing may have been postponed so that now I probably will leave in the middle of July, first to Rome, then to NY and returning to the Bay Area in early August. This will change again I am sure of it.

The “original” Bee arrived in BKK from North Carolina to visit her family and take some classes in Thai massage. She accompanied her daughter, a very together you woman, who is beginning her studies at one of the universities here. We had dinner together in one of the restaurants in Terminal21, the new shopping center I described in a previous post. We talked mostly about how unpleasant life has become for them in North Carolina. The daughter complained about how much criticism and hate she receives from her step-father for having some black friends. “I play sports,” she said. “Of course some of my friends are black. I am a straight ‘A’ student. Some of them are smarter than me and help me with my homework. What’s wrong with that?”

Joey just returned to California and David has gone back to his job on the oil rigs off of Qatar

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. We would be number one but for Rumania.

The latest edition of UNICEF’s report on child poverty in developed countries found that 30 million children in 35 of the world’s richest countries live in poverty. Among those countries, the United States ranks second on the scale of what economists call “relative child poverty” — above Latvia, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, and 29 others. Only Romania ranks higher, with 25.5 percent of its children living in poverty, compared with 23.1 percent in the US (Huffington Post)

If we try a little harder I am sure we can become number one.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The Most Important Election of our Lives (Snark Warning):

The 2012 Presidential and Congressional election are perhaps the most important election in our nations history – – for white males of certain socio-economic classes.

Of all the socio-economic classes into which one could divide the population of the United States, white males have done the most to self destruct. For example, for no other group, women, blacks, Latinos, homosexuals can it be said that without exception as a class they have failed to achieve the economic, social and educational attainments of their parents. Women continue to outperform their mothers (as well as white men). Individual Blacks, despite the horrendous impact of youth unemployment and vociferous opposition from white males continue in fits and starts to leave the lowest paying labor intensive jobs their parents were relegated to and move into the professional and managerial classes. Latinos carry on fleeing the feudal rural and demeaning service jobs they had historically been assigned. Despite the crushing burden on unemployment that has fallen hardily on them, they all still are doing marginally better than their parents.

But not white males from the middle and lower classes especially in the mid-West and the South. They persist in their decline from the economic and social backbone of our nation to become hate-filled failures in life. And, if truth be known, they chose this path to decline. They chose to refuse to educate themselves so that now they are even less equipped to survive in the modern world while women and immigrants and children of immigrants continue grow their dominance in enrollment in our colleges and universities. They are the heart and soul of the modern conservative movement.

To hear it from these white males, if based upon their internet posts and the rhetoric of their spokesmen, it is all because of the unfair advantages given over the years to these others. This is nonsense. At best these others were aided into a position where they could compete for jobs and for educational attainment. It was the job of the white males l(Like they demand of everyone else but themselves) to meet the competition by for example studying harder and getting even better grades. But instead they complained and sought the solution the uncompetitive always seek, to use government to limit the competition by denying their competitors the ability to compete (After all isn’t that what breaks and industrial subsidies are all about).

Now do not get me wrong, I find things like forced busing for integration abhorrent since its negative impact fell almost exclusively on the working classes. Similarly the pattern of distorting the labor movement by force while the nations boardrooms were left to voluntarily accommodate social change appears suspicious to me.

Nevertheless the continued decline of this class cannot be attributed to these programs. For example white women have thrived while their male counterparts have not. That certainly cannot be blamed on Title IX, abortion or availability of contraception. Or could it? Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the almost unreasonable hate shown by the Republican Party towards women.

It is advantageous to the economic and political elite to attempt to harness the dissatisfaction and fear of this previously all-powerful group in order to achieve its goals. No matter what else you may consider them to be this economic and political elite is not stupid. If they cannot win riding on the back of dissatisfaction of white males they will find another horse to ride in future elections. Most likely they will decide on appealing more to women and Latinos and the assaults on woman’s privacy and border security will cease their prominent position in the Party’s platform.

I believe it possible that Mitt Romney could be the last white male presidential candidate to be put forth by the Republican Party for a long time. I guess that should Obama win reelection, the Republicans will field a woman and latino ticket for the 2016 presidential election to face the Democratic Party’s similar gender and ethnic ticket except that one of the standard bearers will also be black.

NOTE: I am a white male. True many years ago while growing up, I was not considered really “white.” (Nor were my Jewish friends and of course Puerto Ricans flooding into NY at the time. The latter had not yet graduated from “non-white” to “Spanish surnamed.”) At that time I was subject to the jokes of the then exclusive club of whiteness and maleness similar to what Latinos are subject to today; such as the ring our oily skin left around the bathtub.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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


TODAY’S QUOTE:

“To be an austerity groupie, one has to ignore the actual behavior of people; to believe fervently in Keynes, one has to ignore the behavior of politicians.

Economics is not a science; it is not even a social science. It is an antisocial theory. It assumes behavior is rational. It cannot calculate for contradiction, culture, altruism, fear, greed, love or humanity at all.”
Suzanne Moore, The Guardian.

ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE QUOTES:

Peter Grenell sums up human existence:

“The Seventh Seal artfully balances a beach ball on his nose.”

TODAY’S CHART:

TODAY’S CARTOON:


TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

When I was a child you were either a Roy Rodgers of Gene Autry fan. I preferred Roy Rogers. I thought Roy was ok but I really liked Trigger more than Gene Autry’s horse Pal. But mostly I liked watching Dale Evans tits press against her tight starched cowboy shirt.

Later when we were a bit older the choice was between Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. This time I favored the Gene. Eventually I learned that that decision had political implications; you know, working man vs patrician. I really liked “Invitation to the Dance” which, although in was a commercial failure, remains one of my all time favorite movies. It along with “Blood Wedding” by Carlos Saura are two of the greatest dance movies of all time. Of my list of my favorite top 10 dance movies, Kelly would be in at least five of them and those directed by Saura in three more.

I liked Kelly because he reminded me of a baseball player who danced. I also preferred Leslie Carron’s thighs to Ginger Rogers. On the other hand, I never could get it up for Debbie Reynolds.

Categories: April 2012 through June 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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