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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    10 Shadow 0006 (June 30, 2017)


Please note on your calendars that July 15 is NATIONAL BE A DORK DAY. 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:
I arrived in Bangkok, the city of the “Sidewalks of Death.” Should one stroll about the town one might: find the sidewalk beneath of him suddenly open up, plunging him into the fetid miasmatic water below and carrying him off to the equally pestilential waters of some ancient canal, there to drown —  trip on a crack in the pavement sending him tumbling into the street where he is maimed or killed by hoards of crazed bikers trying to beat the traffic light — be attacked by rabid soi dogs and sewer rats who gnaw off his ankles — be abducted by an evil tuk-tuk driver and disappear forever — be set upon by a group of manic ladyboys pouring out of an alley who either ravish his body or beat him senseless and steal his money. I love this city.
The flight from Rome to Bangkok was uneventful except during the leg from Kuwait to Bangkok where the young man sitting next to me, who appeared to be a religious of some sort, insisted that I listen to a recording of incessant chanting by some Iman or something. That was OK because there is nothing I prefer to sleep through than chanting.
Bangkok is hot (but not as hot as is parts of California right now). It rains every afternoon and evening— often big grumbling thunder showers. So, I go about whatever I go about these days in the mornings and lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling or tap away at my computer in the afternoon and evenings.
Thailand is billed by the Thai Visitors Bureau as the “Land of Smiles.” Thais have at least 15 types of smile, none of which means I’m pleased to see you — except for of shopkeepers, grifters and bar girls who unfortunately see you only as an ATM machine.
In the morning, as I walk from my apartment to the health club, I check to see which of the denizens of the street I have come to recognize over the years are missing since the last time I visited. The massive homeless young man often seen sprawled in a stupor on the sidewalks of Soi Nana or wandering in a daze down the street seems to be gone. The one legged “king of the beggars” as I named him because of his handsome features, meticulous trimmed hair and beard who I now and then see entering for lunch some of the better restaurants on Soi 11, has resumed his post on the sunny corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 5.
My part of Bangkok continues to change and disappear. The old buildings with the cheap restaurants, go-go bars, and nightclubs get torn down, replaced with gleaming silver towers boasting that they contain the greatest award winning condominiums, or offices, or the finest of the three or four other luxury hotels with the same name in the city. The people who lived worked or played there move out and new people move in — the ongoing migration of a vibrant urban area. The extent of pain and dislocation caused by it is usually a function of how rapidly it occurs.
One of Thailand’s major preoccupations is with massage. It is ingrained in the religious and cultural subconscious of the country. The Thais even developed their own brand of massage that is taught in the most prestigious temples throughout the nation. It consists of vigorous application of the hands, elbows, forearms, and feet by the masseuse to various points on the customer’s body accompanied by periodic sudden stretching or wrenching of his joints. Although a Thai massage can make you feel great after it is over, many people find the process too painful. As a result foreigners often, after a brief flirtation with “the real thing,” eventually turn to more traditional massage with its vigorous rubbing of the body with oil, with or without a happy ending. Many “legitimate” massage establishments do not provide happy endings (it is, in fact, illegal).
Speaking of legitimate massage in Bangkok, I would like to make a pitch to those who may visit the city to try Silk Spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13. It is rated by several travel magazines as one of the best massage parlors in Bangkok. My old friends, Gary and Pui, own the place. Gary is Canadian. He plays ice hockey in the Thai ice hockey league. The Spa is located on Soi 13 about 50 yards off Sukhumvit. Inside, it is a little gem of a place. Gary spends many days designing and building the interior. The evidence of his craftsmanship is everywhere, from the handsome gray slate floor and attractively painted walls of the massage rooms to the marvelous two person sauna with its shining blond wood. I go there three or four times a week after I finish my mornings at the health club.
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Although I like Bangkok a lot, there is one thing I despise. That is when I am riding the bus or the Skytrain and hanging onto the strap because it is crowded and I see someone, who I am convinced is older and more decrepit than I, get up out of his or her seat and offer it to me. I usually reject the offer somewhat coldly, unless of course, I am very tired. Then, I take the seat and sit there mortified (a word not often used anymore) on the one hand and relieved on the other. It is these internal conflicts that…Hmm, I think I’ve gone on about this long enough.
I spent a couple of delightful hours with my friend the Old Sailor. He is a kind man who has lived a fascinating life as a sailor, commercial deep sea diver, treasure hunter, and the like. He lived most of his life in places by the sea in south Florida (Key West), the Virgin Islands, Easter Island and French Polynesia (Bora Bora). He now resides in a second rate hotel in Bangkok. The walls of his room are covered with photographs organized by year. When I asked him about that, he said that he was beginning to have trouble remembering things. He had, he went on, an interesting life and he did not want to forget any of it before the inevitable dimming of the light.
One day, at a nearby Italian restaurant, in the course of our rambling conversation, he began a sentence with the words, “I sailed the Windward Passage three times.”  It seemed to be an interesting story was in the offing and I was right.
One time, he either worked for or partnered with the Captain of a boat docked somewhere in South Florida. The Captain was having a dispute with someone over money or ownership or something like that. So, in the middle of the night, he and the Captain took the boat, leaving with no money between them and almost no gas to power the engines. So, they broke into a nearby refueling dock during the dark of night, refueled, and set off for wherever. Needing money, they stopped in the Virgin Islands and found a gig towing a large sailboat through the Windward Passage south of Cuba to Jamaica.
Somewhere near Cuba, a storm came upon them. At that most inopportune moment, their engine decided to quit and the boat slowed down. Unfortunately, the large sailboat did not and it smashed into their stern grabbing onto it like a shark grabbing onto a seal. Even more, unfortunately, the bowsprit of sailboat broke off and began thrashing back and forth across the deck making it impossible for the two adventures to get to it and untangle the lines and separate the boats. So, they spent the night hoping they would live to see the sunrise. The tale stopped there. Obviously, at least the Old Sailor survived. I do not know what became of the boats or the Captain or whether whatever he was fleeing from eventually caught up to him. I see in this a potential Hemingwayesque novella, “Captains Not So Very Courageous.”
A few years ago, some travel magazine commissioned a poll in which people from many countries of the world were asked if they thought it was ok to cheat foreigners out of their money. The citizens of no country responded with acceptance of such callous amoral behavior anywhere near 50% except for the Thais, over 80% of whom could see no problem in that conduct.
On Wednesday, I had lunch with the Gemologist. He is also a well-known ethnologist (The Vanishing Tribes of Burma), artist (sculpture and painting), adventurer, writer, businessman, raconteur, and man about town. I have written about him before. He has recently returned from several trips into the hill country of Burma where he photographed one of the hill tribes in their traditional dress and re-established his trading connections with the Gurkha miners and gem merchants working there. He has resumed trading high-value rubies and sapphires and showed me photographs of several beautiful examples (in the one million dollars and up each range).
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A Million Dollar Flawless Sapphire Recently Sold
It is always a pleasure spending an afternoon with him. We spoke of many things, mostly our disappointment with the political situation in America and the rigors of getting old.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
In California.
. Naida’s heart surgery has been successful and she is back home recovering. Unfortunately, Bill continues to suffer increasingly debilitating effects from his diabetes.
. Peter’s hip replacement surgery has been put off for a month. Although he continues to experience ever increasing pain, he still performs several times a week with other geriatric musicians at his various euphonic gigs.
In Spain.
The intrepid pilgrims, Vittorio and Teacher Brian have reached Burgos the historic capital of the Kingdom of Castile on their 30-day trek to Santiago de Compostela.
In Bangkok
. In Bangkok this week, five people died after falling into a sewer pipe.
. The Thai Prime Minister recently banned the police from continuing the practice of parading suspects before the press and re-enacting their crimes for the benefit of the cameras.
. The Thai Prime Minister, previously a general who headed the nation’s military, denied that the main purpose of the upcoming meeting in Washington with Donald Trump was to negotiate the sale of military hardware for the Thai armed forces. He seemed to indicate that since they are already getting military hardware from China and other countries, procurement of armaments from the US is not even on the agenda.
The day after the above statement was issued the Thai English language newspapers reported that the US has agreed to sell five Blackhawk helicopter gunships to the Thai military.
. TheThai Labour Ministry plans to improve the professional standards of massage therapists and promises those interested in becoming certified therapists a guaranteed standard wage ranging from 440 baht (about $14) to 815 ($27) baht per day.
“It’s important to standardize the practice of Thai massage, which is not only good for relieving muscle pain but also promotes good health,” said Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul who described it as the art of health care and healing with a simple touch of the hands.(The Bangkok Post)
I assume, “Happy endings” remain negotiable.
. Also from the Bangkok Post:
PATTAYA: A 33-year-old man (A western tourist most likely) has learned a painful and embarrassing lesson after an experiment with penis rings went terribly wrong.
Identified only as Moss, the man had to seek help after the two rings he had attached caused the organ to swell painfully and he was unable to remove them himself.
He went to Pattaya City Hospital to see if the staff there could handle the consequences of his bold decision. Doctors tried in vain to remove the rings and finally had to call rescue workers from the Sawang Boriboon Foundation to handle the delicate procedure.
The rescue experts used a small metal sheet to shield the organ and very carefully applied a cutting tool to break the rings open.
The relieved patient thanked his rescuers for their help and went away in considerably less pain than when he arrived. He did not tell them why he had put the rings on.
So goes a day in Bangkok, “The Place of Olive Plums.”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

It is true, as Donald Trump claims, that he has accomplished more in the first 150 days of his presidency than any other president during their entire term. At least in foreign policy that is so. And, no, it is not because he manages to become the laughing stock of the entire world. While that is certainly an accomplishment of some sorts and no other president can touch his level of success in that endeavor, I am thinking of something else.
In a few short months, he has managed to destroy the world order that has been in place since the beginning of WWII. It was a world order led by the US and supported by a community of nations more or less democratic and more or less prosperous, to resist those nations both large and small they saw as less democratic or wedded to an economic dogma inconsistent with their own.
It was a world order more or less agreed upon by the two major political parties in the United States. The Democrats tended to exercise American leadership more through International economic development and assistance to both friend and foe who were not bound to our perceived adversaries. The Republicans preferred strong military development and reduced economic aid. They were generally less concerned with commitments to democracy and economic improvement than in a commitment to oppose those adversaries and a willingness to engage in the vigorous development of joint defense arrangements.
In practice, it was often difficult to see the policy differences between the two parties. In fact, there often were not any differences that those we were allied with and supported could perceive in the actual programs that carried out those policies. It is also true that for the most part, those programs were far more beneficial to our own interests than to those of our allies.
It was a world order despised by both extremes of American political thought, the extreme right, and the extreme left. The extreme left often saw this as merely a cover for the exportation of regressive American economic and social policy, the support of fascist dictatorships and opposition to legitimate desire of the people of a country to change a political system they saw as repressive. The far right saw this policy as a creeping commitment to Internationalism and reduction of our national independence. They both were right in some ways.
Nevertheless, despite the cynicism and self-interest (as there is in any significant socio-political initiative), there was the glimmer of an ideal upon which the people of the world and their governments could rely. That ideal was that a great power, rather than subjugating the lesser states, would commit their wealth and power, at least in part (and often grudgingly), in alliance with like minded nations to make things better and assume the burdens of leadership in their mutual defense from those they saw as a threat to their way of life. That underlying confidence had remarkable historical consequences. Political systems changed, most for the better, international cooperation blossomed, economies flourished, and the arts and sciences advanced. This order produced a golden age like none other in history with more people than ever enjoying its benefits.
In a scant 150 days, Donald Trump has managed to utterly destroy that world order and it shall not rise again in the foreseeable future. Why did he do it? I doubt even he knows for sure. Why will it not arise again after he is gone? Because no government and no people can ever again rely upon America to exercise trustworthy leadership. It is the old confidence issue. How can any level of confidence be regained by a government or its people when that trust has so rapidly been shattered in the past?
I do not know whether it may or may not be a good thing that, as a result of this, the smaller nations of the world combine into blocks to try to effectively deal with the two remaining active super-powers and far off the United States should it ever again attempt to engage its historical allies in any manner other than as an adversary.
I do know, however, that although Donald Trump has failed to “make the US great again” in his first 150 days, in international relations he certainly has made us mostly irrelevant.

DAILY FACTOID:

The English form of  Bangkok’s actual name ( In Thai: Krung thep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahinthara ayuthaya mahadilok phop noppharat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amon piman awatan sathit sakkathattiya witsanukam prasit.  Alternative forms include Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīrāmasya utamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi, Krungthep mahanakhon amonrattanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilokphop noppharatratchathani burirom-udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonphiman awatansathit sakkathattiya witsanu kamprasit,  Krungthep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathattiya visnukamprasit) is “The City of Angels, the Great City, the Eternal Jewel City, the Impregnable City of God Indra, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City, Abounding in an Enormous Royal Palace that Resembles the Heavenly Abode where Reigns the Reincarnated God, a City Given by Indra and Built by Vishnukam.”
The word Bangkok means, “The Place of Olive Plums.”
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TODAY’S CHART:

 

Correlation or Coincidence?
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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A Thai Fishing Boat Gets Ready for a Day at Sea.
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    Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

     

     

     

     

    TODAY FROM ITALY:

     

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN TRANSIT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    B. TAMIL AND SACILE:

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

     

     

    PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

     

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

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

     

     

    MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    CRACKED FACTOID:

     

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

     

     

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

     

    Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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

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    The Young Trenz Pruca

     

     

     

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

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

     

     

     

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

     

     

     

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

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Jo-Jo 0001 (May 23, 2012)

    TODAY FROM THAILAND:

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    After almost two weeks of trying I managed to get through to Hayden by phone. He seems to be doing well. On the other hand, the news is not so good from my children, grand children, siblings, parents, their past present and future significant others as well as their friends and mine.

    The young children silently suffer holes blown in their vulnerable expectation of security, by those who, whether through inadvertence, negligence or intention, are responsible for their well-being and safety.

    The teenagers, experiencing the horrid hurricane of adolescence roaring through those same holes stumble through their lives on the verge of self-destruction.

    As for the adults, our successes or failures are not as much all our own fault as we often believe, the success or failures of our care givers, the sometimes unseen and often violent changing tides of society, those who bear us ill will, or intentionally or inadvertently cause us harm, all bear a share.

    Yet, whether we succeed or fail depends, I believe, on how well we observe the proscriptions of, in my mind, America’s two greatest philosophers. Rosanna Rosanna Dana sagely opined, “It’s always something.” And, indeed it is. And, Scarlett O’Hara, sadly watching the manly back of the probably gay Rhett Butler disappear into the distance past the newly freed ex-slaves singing happily while plucking the sticky cotton balls from the resisting bushes, correctly observed, “Tomorrow is another day.” It certainly will be. The chances are better than even that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the afternoon.
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    I am closing in on re-publishing these “This and that…” posts into my blog of the same name (Here) along with the appropriate entries from my journal and email correspondence. I am beginning to be as pleased the with the results as I am embarrassed by what they reveal about me; but I have mentioned that before.

    I look at it as one of those things people devote extensive time and energy to for their own amusement; sort of like my father with his slide photographs, or Simon Rodia with his Watts towers or millions of other people. It is not so much a hobby as an avocation.

    When I re-read the entries I am struck as much by what I have avoided as by what I have included. While, as expected of someone my age, I often go on about memories of childhood, but I make only slight mention of my time living in Italy or my hippy years in San Francisco; a lot about college but almost nothing about law school although that can be expected since I found law school to be a time of intellectual death.

    B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

    1. Justice pays:

    In the Philippines the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court whose salary is about $900 per month and who has no other known sources of income was impeached after it was discovered that he had secreted approximately 29 million dollars in various bank accounts over the past decade. The Justice claims that the number is grossly inflated. (Thank you Gary)

    2. On the other hand sometimes Justice cannot be bought when it ought to be:

    In Thailand the Constitutional Court has disqualified a legislator from serving in the legislature for violating the law requiring a legislator to vote in the election in which he is running, even though the legislator was in jail at the time and the court rejected his request that he be allowed to vote.

    The Court defended its decision by pointing out, “The Law is the Law. He did not vote, so he could not serve.”

    3.Legal Fees

    The Legislature of South Africa is debating legislation that would lower legal fees in an attempt to make legal services more affordable.

    They simply do not understand lawyers. Our stock in trade is figuring out how to make our fees without regard to law, morality or the interests of our clients.

    4. Censorship must die:

    The censorship on a character smoking a cigare...

    The censorship on a character smoking a cigarette from One Piece in Thai TV. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Recently the Thai censors banned a movie retelling of Macbeth called Shakespeare Must Die on the grounds that it was offensive since its subject matter was regicide. This prompted a columnist in The Bangkok Post, Roger Crutchley to point out that among the many attempts of censorship in Thailand that had gone awry, in 2003 the Thai ministry of culture decided to ban 18 songs on the grounds they were offensive. The ban including one song entitled Big Flabby Buttocks and another that had been around for about twenty years. The result of the ban was that the sales of all 18 songs including Big Flabby Buttocks skyrocketed.

    My sense of having failed in life has been immeasurably increased by never having listened to a rendition of “Big Flabby Buttocks.” Perhaps I can find it on iTunes.

    PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

    See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

    TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

    A. 2012:

    According to a new study by Fairleigh Dickinson University, Fox viewers are the least knowledgeable audience of any outlet, and they know even less about politics and current events than people who watch no news at all.

    B. 2012:

    Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record.
    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

    But look at this chart closely; The Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary and Poland all have socialized medicine and their costs for medical care are significantly less than in the US. They go to the doctor more than we do. Yet, they still have a lower life expectancy than we do. That proves America has the best health care system in the world.

    Also, in those dens of rampant socialism, the UK and Canada, some people have to wait in the doctor’s office for a while before the doctor sees them. I know that is true. I saw it on Fox News.

    Also, in Mexico, that paragon of free enterprise, not only do they have the lowest costs for medical care but their life expectancy, despite the best efforts of the local drug lords, is increasing. The Mexican experience also indicates  superiority of the US medical delivery system since, according to some of my email correspondents, at least 98% percent of the Mexican population is in the process of illegally swimming across the Rio Grande so that they can pay up to 10 times more for health care in the US and will still pay more than they do in Mexico even if, as they all inevitably do, they fraudulently work their way on to the American welfare rolls.

    B. E.L. Doctorow: “Primer on Unexceptionalism.”

    PHASE FOUR

    If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, decide that the police of any and all cities and towns and villages have the absolute authority to strip-search any person whom they, for whatever reason, put under arrest.

    With this ruling, the reduction of America to unexceptionalism is complete.

    Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksban...

    Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2008 at a press conference at the Swedish Academy of Science in Stockholm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    C. Paul Krugman regarding the failure of Economics as a valid social science and of economists as advisors on public policy:

    “Economics in the Crisis: The best you can say about economic policy in this slump is that we have for the most part avoided a full repeat of the Great Depression…. [A]ll of that, I think, can be attributed to the financial rescue of 2008-2009 and automatic stabilizers…. And I blame economists, who were incoherent in our hour of need. Far from contributing useful guidance, many members of my profession threw up dust, fostered confusion, and actually degraded the quality of the discussion. And this mattered. The political scientist Henry Farrell has carefully studied policy responses in the crisis, and has found that the near-consensus of economists that the banks must be rescued, and the semi-consensus in favor of stimulus in the initial months (mainly because the freshwater economists were caught by surprise, and took time to mobilize) was crucial in driving initial policy. The profession’s descent into uninformed quarreling undid all that, and left us where we are today.

    And this is a terrible thing for those who want to think of economics as useful…. It’s in times of crisis, when practical experience suddenly proves useless and events are beyond anyone’s normal experience, that we need professors with their models to light the path forward. And when the moment came, we failed…”

    Finally even Krugman acknowledges what I and many others have been suggesting:

    On Economics as a Science:

    In Science. a physical theory that is logically consistent may be considered truth only until falsified. In Economics, a sociological theory that is logically inconsistent is often considered true even when falsified.

    On Supply and Demand:

    There is no such things and supply and demand because they are both infinitely manipulatable.

    Wherever you have supply meeting a demand you will have someone trying to make a profit by making it not so.

    On Markets:

    There is no such thing as a free market. There is always a transaction cost.

    Those who manage the transactions ultimately make all the money.

    A market is something that one goes into to buy groceries and usually has a prefix affixed to it like “super”. Everything else is a casino.

    On Free Enterprise:

    The goal of every business enterprise is not to maximize profit but to separate risk from reward.

    The most important goal for any democratic government should be to avoid removing risk from enterprise. Yet it currently appears that the only function of government is to shield enterprise from risk.

    On Scoundrels:

    The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism but the claim that no one could see it coming.

    Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels, only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.

    D. The Sky is Falling:

    “It is not a good thing. The immigrants do not share American values, so it is a good bet that they will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers.

    The NY Times liberals seek to destroy the American family of the 1950s, as symbolized by Ozzie and Harriet. The TV characters were happy, self-sufficient, autonomous, law-abiding, honorable, patriotic, hard-working, and otherwise embodied qualities that made America great. In other words, the show promoted values that NY Times liberals despise.

    Instead, the USA is being transformed by immigrants who do not share those values, and who have high rates of illiteracy, illegitimacy, and gang crime, and they will vote Democrat when the Democrats promise them more food stamps.”
    The Eagle Forum Blog…

    This was written in response to the New York Times report that for the first time births from non-european ancestry parents have exceeded those whose ancestry is european. Although I am concerned about the implicit racism of a news organization like the “Times” dividing up American children by the color of their skin and the absurdity of using the government’s classification system that among other things considers a spanish surname as a race, the far right never ceases to amaze me for the level of their sheer mendacity and ignorance.

    Repeat after me: We are all descended from Immigrants. Children Born in this Country are not Immigrants, they are Citizens.

    E. There is Something about a Penis:

    I do not know why but recently there have been a spate of penis focused news stories. Perhaps it is a side effect of Global Warming or caused by the Republican Party’s obsession with it (I guess you can call it a fixation on the their Member’s members.) Anyway, here are three:

    1. When writing about dicks one usually begins with the French:

    There is a great bit of levity among Arab television news readers because the new French Prime Minister Ayrault’s name when pronounced sounds the same as the Arab word for penis.

    I do not understand why Arabs consider this funny, after all President Nixon was quite proud to be a dick and most Americans did not find that a laughing matter.

    2. No matter how slight, it is no laughing matter:

    In Thailand a worker killed a worker with a machete after being taunted for having a small penis.

    I think is was Darwin who pointed out that ones chances of surviving to breed are greatly diminished by disparaging the size of someone junk when that other person is carrying a machete.

    3. And certainly dangerous to argue over:

    In Sri Lanka, a man arguingwith his wife over whether or not she would give him money to buy booze had his penis bitten off by her.

    I have a lot of questions about this item; among which is what sort of argument could it be where one of the parties has the other’s dick in his or her mouth? Or, how stupid do you have to be to allow someone during an argument to get his or her sharp teeth close to your member. I believe Darwin commented on this also.

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    Pookie has had more wives than Newt but less that Mitt’s grandpa. Does this mean Pookie should quit the race now, or is it OK if he makes it up after he gets elected?

    Pookie promises that he will be the first president to marry several times while living in the White House. Perhaps he could marry someone new every week. That would demonstrate his deep commitment to the institution of marriage.

    Pookie says, if having one family is a good thing, obviously more is better.

    Elect Pookie, he promises to have as many families as he can. He promises not to discriminate. His mates will include men, women and even Rick Santorum’s dog. The White House is the people’s house and also where the President lives. A good president should have as many Americans living there as possible.

    Note: During the nomination proceedings, I have refrained from commenting much on Mitt Romney, instead I focused on the clowns and crazies that ran against him. In my opinion Mitt is not that bad; mendacious perhaps and often clueless, but he was not too bad a governor of Massachusetts. I do, however, believe that he has provided no evidence that he has the strength to resist the gathering storm of intolerance on the Republican right in an unholy alliance with the anti-democratic forces that have become increasingly prominent on Wall Street and in the natural resource industries, that will inevitably overwhelm the Party and drown out even the nation’s most conservative voices of reason.

    TODAY’S QUOTES:

    “THERE’S NO EXAMPLE IN EUROPE, YET, WHERE THE BOND MARKET HAS REWARDED AUSTERITY”
    JOE WIESENTHAL

    “When the effect somebody has is destructive enough the cause becomes a theoretical curiosity.
    Edward St.Aubyn, “Bad News”

    TODAY’S CHART:

    Ironically, I suspect most likely it will be the insurance industry that leads the charge against Climate Change denial. Conservative economists will then probably claim this as proof that free enterprise works, overlooking that the insurance companies will probably be looking to government to relieve them of the burdens and risks of underwriting catastrophic insurance. The private market will then lobby for a government take over, claiming that whatever market they are in will collapse unless they can acquire the appropriate insurance at what to them is an affordable [read government subsidized] cost.

    The Republican Party will suddenly support a national insurance program to reduce corporate financial risk. Faux News will denounce as Un-American those liberals who object to taxpayer funds subsidizing corporations instead of insurance reform to provide the average citizen with health care. What will the Supreme Court do then? Scalia and Roberts will probably put forth the argument that only corporations are individuals for purposes of the Constitution and that the Commerce Clause was meant to help corporations and not to provide for regulation of commerce that benefits the now non-individual individuals.

    TODAY’S SNARK:

    So that is what went on in Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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

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