Posts Tagged With: Military

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 JoJo 0006 (June 4, 2017)

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
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Why are these people smiling?

 

So, I spent the Memorial Day weekend at my sister’s house in Mendocino. The sky was overcast and the ocean calm and gray. It was abalone hunting season. Parked cars filled the side of the road along the bluff disgorging their black-rubber suited occupants and their tire irons. The divers lined up and marched down the sinuous steep paths that snaked along the bluff face to the water below. From the top of the bluff, they looked like a dark ant army covering the rocks and invading the kelp beds. A lot of them were Asian, Japanese and Chinese tourists I guess, flown over here for the abalone hunting season. I suspect, if they were Muslim the current administration in Washington would suddenly become abalone conservationists.

Most of the time, Mary, George and I sat in the house by the large windows overlooking the ocean talking and laughing among ourselves or buried in some book or reading the NY Times.

On Sunday, we went to the Casper Community Breakfast and Flea Market. Mary and George set up a few tables in the grassy area at the side of the Casper Community Center. On the tables, we placed a few things they had lying around their garage to be sold at the market.
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I headed off for the community breakfast leaving them to their commercial endeavors. The community volunteer waitpersons sat me in a middle seat at a rectangular table seating six. I did not know anyone else at the table. Having as a result of my therapy an upset stomach, lost most of my hearing and taste, and blurry eyesight, I had little expectation of enjoying either the food or the company. Suddenly across the room, I saw a nose — Not just any nose but a magnificent nose. The nose was appended to the face of one of the woman volunteers waiting on the tables. As noses go, it was extremely well shaped. It was also huge as though insisting we all acknowledge its magnificence. It moved through the dining room like an icebreaker through the Arctic. I was enthralled.

As many of you know, I abhor the cult of small noses and people who have them. It is insulting to those individuals proud of their prominent noses to know that others are encouraged to cut theirs off so they may become fashionable. Why are tiny-tot noses so fashionable anyway? What are they hiding behind those tiny nostrils? How do they enjoy the full aromas of life around them? Where is the facial drama — the character — the pride?

 

1indians420
Now that is a Nose to Remember.

 
B. BACK TO THE GOLDEN HILLS:

 

On Monday, Memorial Day, I drove back to EDH. It was a long but relatively pleasant drive— past Lake Mendocino, Lucerne (The Switzerland of California), Clear Lake, through the wildfire ravished forests of blackened trees, the folded hills and out into the green expanse of Great Valley and into the Golden Hills. Since returning, I have resumed exercising — walking around the lakes in Town Center and swimming in the pool at the health club.

One day, I took HRM to the orthodontist to have his braces removed. I was startled when, following the removal, I was invited to watch everyone, including the orthodontist himself, sing, dance and throw around balloons to celebrate HRM’s relief from two years of discomfort.

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That is the orthodontist on the right showing off his dance routine.

 

When I was a kid I never heard of dancing dentists. I still think it is odd. Lampedusa in his novel Il Gattopardo has his main character, the aging Prince, after observing the antics of the younger nobility at the great ball of the Sicilian nobility, comment, “Just look at them. In another generation, they will be climbing back into the trees.”

My departure next week for Italy and Southeast Asia has me a bit anxious. A few months ago I spent two days planning the trip knowing I will still be suffering the side effects of my treatments. I researched and listed in a notebook all the things I absolutely should bring along with me and how they should be packed. I planned out meticulous itineraries and identified all the pertinent phone numbers and contacts I would need. Finally, I prepared a detailed budget. Then as I always do, I promptly ignored everything finding it all too complicated and deciding instead to wait for my departure date, grab whatever is near at hand and take off hoping for the best.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

For eight years I have sent out This and that from re Thai r ment to my best and closest eighty or so friends.(I have also published them in a blog https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/ ) I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:

 

January 17, 2010: From Thailand.

“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.

Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:

‘The Bastards’: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.

“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.

“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.

Some coming of age French flick with the usual, but much more intelligent, teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.

Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/this-and-that-january-17-2010/

 

January 11, 2011: From Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-january-10-2011/

 

January 1, 2012: From Thailand.

“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-12-joseph-0001-january-1-2012/

 

January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.

“I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course, if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or someplace like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they cannot move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla, and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes, that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.

Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog, ‘A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?’”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-16-joseph-0002-january-4-2013/

 

January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.

“I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and I am too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-27-joseph-0003-january-16-2014/

 

January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.

“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-20-joseph-0004-january-9-2015/

 

January 14, 2016: From El Dorado Hills.

“On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.

My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments of inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.

Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-25-joseph-0005-january-14-2016/

 

January 1, 2017: From El Dorado Hills.

Treatment has begun to take on the feeling of a deadly boring job. Get up, off to work, come home and prepare for the next day, catch a few social interactions and some entertainment where one can.

HRM has settled happily into the Christmas dither, shopping for presents and planning the cake he intends to bake for us. I asked him what he would like for a present. He said, “A toy I can play with for a day and then forget.”

Magic Mouthwash:

The week that began with great promise as to the course of my treatment came to a close with me feeling more like road kill. So, I complained to the hoards of technicians attending me at the hospital that I was beginning to question the value of experiencing the pain and that I considered balancing that against possibly living five more years or so. They gave me a prescription that I was to pick up the next morning at a pharmacy near the hospital.

The next morning, I arrived at the pharmacy and was given a bottle filled with a pink liquid. The medicine was labeled, “Magic Mouthwash.”

Now, I am of that generation where referring to something as Magic this or that was usually not medicine and certainly not approved by the FDA. In addition, this particular medicine did not come accompanied by those inserts containing, in small and unreadable print, descriptions and warnings about your purchase. Instead, it contained a one-page notice that read in part:

Uses: Consult your pharmacist.
How to Use: Consult your pharmacist.
Precautions: Consult your pharmacist.
Drug Interactions: Consult your pharmacist.
Side effects: Consult your pharmacist.
Overdose: Call 911 or local poison control center.

So, I asked the pharmacist. He took me into a corner and, sotto voce, rattled off several long GrecoRoman words representing the contents of the medicine. I gleaned there were a least two antibiotics and a pain control substance. The other two or three ingredients escaped me.

Anyway, I took the magic mouthwash with me to the hospital parking lot where, in my car, I poured the amount of liquid the pharmacist recommended into a small plastic cup and swished it around my mouth.

Suddenly pain shot through my entire body and everything went white. Sort of like what happens when one takes those magic potions that appear so prominently in the cheap fantasy novels I am so fond of reading. When my eyes cleared, I fully expected to see a few pixies tossing gold dust dancing in the car in front of me, a unicorn in the parking space beside me and Marley’s ghost. Instead, I found myself free of pain and washed in a warm comfortable glow.

So, I left the car, skipped through the rain and into the hospital to find the chief nurse of the Radiation Oncology Department.

She was in her office dressed in fuzzy antlers and Santa Claus cap and a dark green tunic covered in Christmas ornaments. “What do you know about “Magic Mouthwash,” I enquired?

The nurse is from England and speaks with a Cockney accent so thick that, at best, I could understand only every other word. She also refers to me as “my darling” instead of Joe, or Mr. Petrillo or even Pookie. “Oh that,” she responded. “That’s your doctor, Dr. Jones’, favorite potion.(yes she used that word).” “He and the pharmacist cooked it up for when the patients are experiencing too much pain.” She then listed the ingredients like the pharmacist did. This time I caught that one of them was a steroid. That, I thought, explained the skipping through the rain.

“Oh,” I said. “Uh, what about the FDA?”

“Don’t worry my darling, all the ingredients have been approved. They only mixed them together. The patients seem to like it a lot.”

“I can well understand that,” I responded.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Iroquois on Top:

“Who were the Haudenosaunee? (Pronounced Ho-deh-no-shaw-nee.) We know them as the Iroquois, a league of six nations of the Northeastern Indian tribes, consisting of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas (the original Five) and later the Tuscaroras. Their confederacy stretched across most of New York State to Lake Erie, south to the Adirondack chain, west to the Ohio Valley, and north into Ontario. Iroqu (meaning rattlesnake) was the name given to them by their enemies the Algonquins. The French added the suffix “ois,” as an insult, thus the name Iroquois. They preferred to be called the Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House).”

“Dekanawidah, born in Ontario, founded the Iroquois and bound the original five nations together into a Confederacy, establishing the Gayanashagowa – The Great Binding Law – which ensured a lasting peace among these independent tribes. They were bound together with this formal “constitution.” To this day the Iroquois are the oldest, continuous participatory democracy on Earth! The Ha do no sau nee, living in peace under one common law. They have practiced this representative form of government for centuries. In the Iroquois’ Book of the Great Law, there are striking parallels with our country’s Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches. It is well acknowledged by historians that the democratic principles of the Six Nations influenced and shaped the Constitution of the United States.”

“Apart from this remarkable fact is an even more astounding item. The clan mothers (or Gantowisas) were female officials who enjoyed political, economic, religious and social powers unprecedented and unparalleled in any civilization! These ladies owned the land and homes, and all the children. They had the right to adoption, to determine life and death. They declared and ended wars. They conferred or retracted citizenship. They had the exclusive right to raise up or depose Chiefs. They had to be represented in all councils. They made or abrogated treaties. They also held trusteeship of tribal property. The tribes relied on their opinion and ability to make wise decisions. These women were the political and social backbone of all the Confederacy.”
Gregory Christiano

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I have always craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments of inconsequential obsessions.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Excerpt from Lyrics to “The Crickets Have Arthritis,” by Shane Koyczan.

 

It doesn’t matter why I was there, where the air is sterile and the sheets sting.
it doesn’t matter that I was hooked up to this thing that buzzed and beeped every time my heart leaped, like a man whose faith tells him:
God’s hands are big enough to catch an airplane

or a world,

doesn’t matter that I was curled up like a fist protesting death,
or that every breath was either hard labor or hard time,
or that I’m either always too hot or too cold
it doesn’t matter because my hospital roommate wears star wars pajamas,
and he’s nine years old

His name is Louis

and I don’t have to ask what he’s got, the bald head with the skin and bones frame speaks volumes.
The Gameboy and feather pillow booms like, they’re trying to make him feel at home ‘cause he’s gonna be here a while

I manage a smile the first time I see him and it feels like the biggest lie I’ve ever told.
so I hold my breath
cause I’m thinking any minute now he’s gonna call me on it
I hold my breath
cause I’m scared of a fifty-seven-pound boy hooked to a machine, because he’s been watching me, and maybe I’ve got him pegged all wrong, like

maybe he’s bionic or some shit.
so I look away…
 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“They say Los Angeles is like The Wizard of Oz. One minute it’s small-town monochrome neighborhoods and then boom— all of a sudden you’re in a sprawling Technicolor freak show, dense with midgets.”
Wong, David. John Dies at the End (p. 23). St. Martin’s Press.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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The Second Most Embarrassing Photograph Ever Taken of Me.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 10 Pookie 0005 (NOVEMBER 24, 2016)

 

“We are what we repeatedly do.”
Aristotle
HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

First, I learn that my body has turned against me. Then, my country went insane. It was not a good beginning to the week. So, I overdosed on valium and crawled into bed hoping I could escape into my fantasy world. No such luck. I could not sleep. For the remainder of the week, I refused to read a newspaper, open either my computer or cell phone or look at television. I did sober up one day and slip out of my room to see a movie, Dr. Strange. I thought it was appropriate.

The next week, I was forced to leave the house and begin the rounds of the specialists who poked and prodded me, stuck needles in several different parts of my body and rammed hoses down my nose and my throat while they rambled on with happy talk punctuated with brief descriptions of the pain I would suffer from the treatment they were so eager to provide me.

I tried to get my mind around why, at my age, I would want to submit myself to all that for the sole purpose of living a few extra years reading second-rate novels while I slowly lose my hearing, sight and mind anyway. I mean, it is not as though I am looking forward to the glories of a Trump presidency or watching the Bay rise to cover the Embarcadero or even the possibility of a 49r Super Bowl.

But they, the doctors, the specialists, five so far, whose separate offices are spread across the Great Valley, all seem to be excited about the coming battle. I think the cure may be more important to them than it is to me. They happily croon of the high probability of success and boost my morale by pointing out that the treatment I will go through is far less painful and demeaning than experienced by others with much more severe malignancies. I respond, that I am a hypochondriac, a coward, have an unbelievably low threshold of pain and begin whimpering when I drive by a hospital. I also pointed out I am a depressive held together with massive amounts of happy pills. They counter with promises of an unlimited supply of drugs of my choice to keep me pain-free and happy.

Amusingly, I guess, my problems with my throat and tongue they tell me are caused by HPV. It seems women relatively often develop cervical cancer from this form of STD. “But,” I told the doctor, “I haven’t gone down there in many years.” He explained that it can take 30 years or so for the tongue and throat cancer to develop. I thought this was a rather sad fact to contemplate. Even pleasure can be deadly. In my last T&T, I pointed out that shark bite causes fewer deaths than vending machines. Now I discover that oral sex is even more deadly than those predatory machines. Sometimes I read SciFi novels about humans who land on another world only to find the flora and fauna there to be deadly to humans. It seems as though we do not have to travel to distant planets to find that danger. Here on earth, it appears that just about anything can kill you, especially members of your own species and the machines they create supposedly for your convenience.

On a lighter note, after dropping HRM off at school in the mornings as I drive to Bella Bru for breakfast, I top a rise in the landscape that exposes a magnificent view of a huge stretch of the Great Valley (the Central Valley). For some quirky reason, much of human development disappears from view and I imagine it appears as it did to the indigenous peoples of the area or the first invaders from the East, vast and empty. I often wonder what those invaders from the East, the American so-called settlers thought when they saw what appeared to be that vast emptiness spread out below them. Certainly not simply a potential homestead and the romance of a new life, but also, and more likely, given the reasons for their migration, something that can be cheaply exploited, like a lion topping a hill and seeing what appears to be unlimited herds of gazelles grazing on the grass below.

The cold weather and rains have moved into the Golden Hills ending my swimming for the year and forcing us to spend more time in the house. It is Thanksgiving week vacation for HRM and he remains bubbly and bored spending more time on his computer than is probably good for him. Dick is occupied with caring for the dog, Pepe, who clearly has only a few days or weeks to live. It will be hard for him when the dog dies. I think he has been closer to it than to any person in his life. I, on the other hand, content myself with reading and drifting off to sleep and my dream life. I plan to spend the holidays in Mendocino with my sister. Nikki flies in to entertain HRM and Dick, I suppose, will get on with his grieving.
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Twilight in the Golden Hills

B. MORE FROM TAHIR SHAH:

Pasted Graphic
Paititi

In previous issues of T&T, I have discussed a few of the books by travel writer Tahir Shah. They generally discuss Mr. Shah’s low cost, somewhat bumbling and humorous expeditions to locate non-existing or mythical places or people — King Solomon’s Mine’s, the Gonds of Gondwana Land, Indian magicians and most recently the last refuge of the Inca’s, Piatiti in the Madre de Deus cloud forest of Peru. I thought his inept explorations, often relying on the stories of odd individuals he meets along the way, were literary devices intended to make his obviously humorous travelogues more interesting. However, in doing some background research on the most recent of his works I am reading, The House of the Tiger King, I am no longer so sure about that.

In the book, Tahir is accompanied by a Swedish father and son team of documentary filmmakers, their backer, a mysterious Ukrainian banker named Yuri, and a Bulgarian film student named Boris. They prove to be even more incompetent at filmmaking than Tahir is at exploring, losing much of their film along the way. Nevertheless, they produced a full-length documentary of the expedition whose production values are abysmal even for an art form known for low productions standards. Nevertheless, having located the documentary on YouTube, I found it a fascinating accompaniment to the book.

For security, the expedition hires an American ex-Vietnam veteran living in Peru on a diet consisting primarily of psychedelics. He quits halfway through the voyage and steals most of the exposed film and all of the expeditions morphine. Also accompanying them is the Seventh-day-Adventist leader of a small Peruvian village in the area who insists that the fabled city of Piatiti exists and had been found by a headhunter living in another village in which the residents supposedly still hunts heads. The head-hunter, when they locate him, denies he found the city but later recants and agrees to join them if they agree that after the expedition they will take him to Cusco to visit a whore house and a disco. The Seventh-day Adventist also warns them that the evil spirits that guard the city will require a dead body in payment for letting them through. This prompts a trip across Peru and a midnight raid of a 4000-year-old cemetery containing thousands of ancient mummies in order to secure the required dead body — no, I am not kidding you. I will not tell you how it all turns out other than to let you know that in the end of both the story and the film the head-hunter gets his trip to Cusco.

The documentary film can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNEvq6bQ4-A. For maximum amusement, I suggest reading a portion of the book, then watching the corresponding part of the film before going on to the next portion of the book.

I can assure you that after watching the film and reading the book you will be left with that most perplexing of all questions bedeviling humanity — Why?

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The following continues a review of those eras of human history about which I have developed a fondness. In this case, it is the era I call the First Centuries, from 300 BC to 300 AD.

After the death of Herod the Great and the division of his Kingdom among his four heirs, the seething dissatisfactions among groups and polities along the Western shore of the Middle East began to boil over. Let us begin by listing some of the contending factions, many of whom disliked each other.

There were the various ethnic groups, the Nabateans, the Judeans, the Galileans, the Arameans, the Phoenicians, and the Egyptians including the ethnic Hebrews who resided there for about 500 years and the Theraputea. To the North in what is now Syria and Central Turkey groups of Hellenized Hebrews lived among the various tribes as did those Hebrews that lived in southern Mesopotamia. Then there were the Hellenes who were everywhere and of course the Romans who ruled them all. Among the Hebrews, few if any had ever even visited Judea and their ethnic cousins and co-religionists that lived there. It can be imagined that until the missionaries from Judea after the Maccabean revolution and Herod’s missionary management reforms armed with the Septuagint these peoples had little understanding of the various accretions to the laws and legends that had occurred over the hundreds of years of separation.

In was in Judea itself, however, that the most significant sectarian factionalism occurred. There we had:

The Sadducees, the minders of the temple and the Judean nobility who managed and profited from the sacrifices in the temple (Judaism was a sacrificial based religion like that of all the other Semitic tribes in the Middle East at the time.) They had been reorganized by Herod when he built the temple.

The Pharisees, I guess you could call them the canon lawyers. They focused on explaining and interpreting the various rules found in the sacred writings.

The Essenes, they can best be analogized to the Albigensians of the Middle Ages, semi-monastic communities. But. where the Albigensians frowned on sex, the Essenes were obsessed with bathing, the parentage of the chief priest of the temple, and the pettifogging way of the Pharisees.

The Baptists, begun by John as a merger of Hellenic cynicism (rejection of civilization and a return to the wild) and the bathing obsession of the Essenes, raising it to the level of a requirement for joining the group perhaps equal to circumcision.

The Zealots (the Sicarii faction of which were the ISIL of the time) dedicated to overthrowing Roman domination and Hellenic moral relativism.

None of these groups liked each other very much but they all hated the Romans although it is uncertain whether they hated them more than they hated each other.

There were probably also other groups active at the time in Jerusalem politics including a bit later the Jesus Church or faction. I guess we should now take a slight detour to discuss the phenomenon of Jesus who although is less important to our story than Paul and the Pharisees (Rabbis) was a necessary transition.
To be continued.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

When lecturing before the of Defense Institute in the 1970’s Professor Quigley was asked, how much support did he believe the dissenters in this country were getting from the Communists?

Quigley replied:

I’m sure the Communists are supporting the dissenters. But the Communists are of no importance. The Communist Party in this country was destroyed. Read Shannon’s history. It is extremely likely that by 1960 one of the chief sources of funds for the Communist Party in this country was the FBI spies who had joined it. And the chief financial support of the Communists from about 1920 to about 1950 was Wall Street. Why? I do not know. If you’re interested, look up the story of The Institute of Pacific Relations; it was financed by Lee Higginson & Company of Boston, Frederick Vanderbilt Field of New York, and other big money interests.

When these people cut off this money, about 1949, the Communists were pretty much finished. Their only other source of money was Moscow, and Moscow has never been generous with funds for local Communist Parties, which they believe should support themselves. According to an FBI estimate, I believe, the Communists in this country are down to about 15,000 members. Take Angela Davis. She is emotionally alienated from our society, and for good reasons, but this has little to do with communism, even if she is a member of the Party. This is why I say ideology is not really important in dissent. People become Communists not because they like the ideology, but because they wish to demonstrate their opposition, just as young people let their hair grow and won’t polish their shoes or wear neckties.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

It is not how you make your life that matters, but what you believe your life to be.
C. Today’s Poem

Dropping the Bow, by Andrew Schelling provides a selection from King Hala’s Gaha-kosa(“Book of Songs”), the original of which consists of 700 poems (approximately 200 BCE to 200 CE) Despite being penned by hundreds of different poets, the poems are all of the same meter, and contain approximately thirty-two syllables. Most of them deal with love. As selected and translated by Schelling, they are brief, usually erotic, and often emotionally charged, as this one by Hala himself:

Mother
with the blink of an eye
his love vanished
A trinket gets
dangled
into your world
you reach out and it’s gone

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The object explained a great deal. The man was an Aghori sadhu. My interest in the trophy heads of the Naga headhunters had led me to the Aghoris. Their beliefs are close to those of traditional shamans. The Aghoris said to have the power to overcome evil spirits, were traditionally confirmed cannibals. Their libations, which once included human blood, are drunk from the bowl of a human skull. But to an Aghori, the skull is far more than a simple drinking vessel. It contains the spirit of the deceased. The soul remains the Aghori’s prisoner until the skull is cremated. Such jinns, spirits, are tamed and put to work by the sadhu in his world of shadows.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3rd. 25 Papa Joe 0005 (October 14, 2016)

 

“Since large-scale human cooperation is based on myths, the way people cooperate can be altered by changing the myths — by telling different stories.”

Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 32). HarperCollins.

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTHONY AND AARON

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Cloudless deep blue skies arch above the Golden Hills bringing autumn crisp temperatures in the mornings. I love swimming in water warmer than the air.

Since my return, I have not seen the Moonstone Peckerhead Turkey Gang strutting up the street. Perhaps, they are hiding out because it is getting close to Thanksgiving. Do Turkey’s migrate? If so, they cannot fly very far. They would have to walk or hitchhike. Or maybe they just do not go far away. Perhaps, they do not get much farther south than Ione or Merced.

One day while walking the dog, I saw four large deer standing on the verge across the street from me. They simply stared at us for quite a while, then scampered off up the hill.

Neither the deer nor the turkeys would survive long in Bangkok. Now that I think about it, the people there eat insects. Why don’t they eat the pigeons? Maybe that is what I am eating when I order chicken fried rice at the sidewalk food stands. I wonder what the pork fried rice is made from?

I cannot deny the gated communities that make up El Dorado Hills and its parks are beautifully landscaped and laid out. I assume the empty streets behind those gates, more than the gates themselves give a sense of security to those that live. Interesting things may be happening within the McMansions but not on the streets. That is the difference between rich and poor communities. The poor live more of their live’s in public, on the streets. The boredom also gives a sense of security, I guess — if nothing is happening then nothing is happening to me.

Recently, however, something has happened. Evan of EvanTube has moved into one of the mansions on the ridge that I can see across the valley from Dick’s deck. Evan, as a five-year-old, managed to make over a million dollars on YouTube opening up packages of toys and increased that take substantially every year until now at 9 or 10 he was able to move his family from Modesto or someplace like that so that he can attend the far above average schools here in the Golden Hills. This has excited those like HRM who have followed his spectacular career. According to HRM, everyone likes the young millionaire.

This shows the difference between today’s schools and those in my day and neighborhood. Then, someone with a rep would be immediately challenged in the schoolyard. You make your rep there or nowhere.

Speaking of young hoodlums in training. Because so many of the stately homes of the golden hills are rented out for one reason or another, not all the kids in the schools are from middle and upper-class families. In HRM’s class, there is a boy named Raul. Both his parents are in jail. Some of his classmates warned HRM to stay away from Raul. They say he vapes on the bus on the way to school and if you try to speak to him he will slap you. HRM wanted to find out if Raul really would slap him if he said hello, so he went up to him and said, “Hi, they call me Haystack. How are you doing?” Instead of slapping him, Raul gave HRM a high five.

 
B. TWO UPSIDE DOWN NOSES — 77:

Today is my 77th birthday. To me, that means, I have seen the beginning of many more things that never existed before then I will see in the time remaining to me. Although I was born into a world on the verge of the greatest slaughter of human lives in history, WWII, the Holocaust, The Great Leap Forward, I lived through what undoubtedly was the greatest Golden Age of Humanity. That’s not too bad when you realize that all you really have to show for your time here are your experiences —even if those experiences are merely watching it all unfold.

 

C. BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS:

Below are the California ballot recommendations for the coming election that Ruth and others developed. I found them very helpful even where I disagree.

BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NOVEMBER 2016

These are my recommendations for the state measures, informed by discussion among a dedicated group of Venice residents who undertake to share researching the propositions and try to arrive at either consensus or a clear statement of our disagreements. If you have questions, I will try to answer them.

I will send recommendations for the County measures, including judges, and the City of LA measures in a separate email.

FEDERAL OFFICES:

President: Hillary Clinton
US Senator: Kamala Harris
(Loretta Sanchez would not be bad, but our consensus was Kamala Harris would be better)
STATE PROPOSITIONS:

The biggest challenge is figuring out how many taxes/bonds you are willing to swallow for various good causes and then prioritizing the numerous relevant propositions. In addition to the state measures, LA County has two—one a bond and one a sales tax increase–, and LA City has at least two bond issues.

51: School bonds
School population is going down, but school buildings are aging. Many have no air conditioning. Some opponents think it’s better to have local school districts bond-fund rather than the state. Supporters of 55 think relying on locals doing it themselves puts an unfair burden on the poorer school districts.

52: Hospital fee program
Yes

53: Revenue bond issues over $2 billion must go to a vote of the people.
No!
If this passes, there has to be an election (and associated campaign) every time the state wants to engage in a massive infrastructure project. This proposition is aimed at stopping the Delta tunnel and the bullet train, both projects adopted by the elected officials. Campaigns are expensive and time-consuming, and the winds of public sentiment can change many times during the period it takes to complete a major project. It’s not only Rome that wasn’t built in a day. (We did split on this one—it turns out to depend on whom you trust least: elected officials or uninformed voters.

54: Legislation and proceedings.
No.
This is being promoted as increasing transparency in government by requiring that every change in every bill be publicly noticed and on the internet for 72 hours before any action. It sounds great, but it will make negotiating and compromise well nigh impossible. It would probably also prevent getting a budget out on time.

55: Extending an existing tax that was originally approved as “temporary.”
Yes.
It is a tax on incomes of $250,000 and up, funds schools and healthcare, and has been in effect without disrupting the economy.

56: Increase the tax on cigarettes.
Yes.
The tax hasn’t been increased in many years. This proposition also includes taxing e-cigarettes and funding programs to discourage those as well as the old-fashioned ones.

57: various changes to sentencing and parole.
Yes.

58: Multi-lingual education.
Yes.
This proposition undoes the English-only law adopted early 20 years ago in recognition that students learn subject matter best in the language most familiar even while learning a new language.

59: Advisory vote urging repeal of Citizens United.
Yes.
Although the vote has no practical effect, it has important symbolism.

60: Require performers in porn films to use condoms.
No.
There are all sorts of obligations to test and treat already in place, this proposition would create a whole new structure to police (probably ineffectively) the porn industry, and the industry which alas employs a whole lot of people could easily just leave the state. This is the brainchild of the same guy who is behind a totally different City proposition coming in March that would limit private real estate development.

61: Drug prices.
No.
(Surprise!) This would require that the state pay no more than the VA pays for drugs. The VA negotiates prices with the drug companies. Our fear is that adopting this proposition would mean the VA would get a worse deal. (Apply here Ruth’s Rule of Legislation: if it takes less than 30 minutes to figure out how to abuse the proposed law, just vote against it.) Bernie Sanders is doing major ads in favor of this. He must not have applied Ruth’s Rule.

62 and 66: Death Penalty
62 abolishes the death penalty; 66 is the prosecutors’ response to 62 and leaves it in place but shortens the long, expensive, and mandatory appeal procedures.
If you favor abolition, vote yes on 62 and no on 66. If you want to keep the death penalty, vote no on 62 and yes on 66.

63: Ammunition sales
Yes. (Do we really need to discuss this?)

64: Marijuana
We did not have consensus on this one but leaned yes.

65 and 67: Plastic bags
67 is a statewide ban on those flimsy plastic bags you used to get in grocery stores. 65 is the bag manufacturers’ bait-and-switch antidote to 67. 65 takes the fees grocery stores now charge for your paper bag away from the stores and puts them into a new environmental fund (which someone has to administer). The manufacturers’ argument is that the stores shouldn’t get to “make a profit” from the bags. Since the stores have to buy the bags anyway, it’s a safe bet that if they can’t charge for them, they’ll have to raise prices on the products that go into the bags in order to fund having to buy them.
I vote no on everything to do with banning “single use” bags because I don’t believe they are single use. Everyone I know uses them for household garbage or cleaning up after pets. What the ban proponents want you to do is buy genuinely single-use bags: you buy them for the sole and specific purpose of putting something in them to put in the landfill.
Everyone else at the discussion recommends no on 65 and yes on 67, the statewide ban.
Whatever you do, don’t vote yes on both of them because whichever gets more total votes is the one that will prevail. Thus if create-the-fund gets more votes than the ban, the ban does not take effect.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

The following is the continuation of something I began in a prior post a long time ago:

The First Centuries: Herod continued…

Certainly about the time of the Maccabees, the Judeans and the related people who followed the Septuagint and associated writings sought to remain in contact with one another. In addition to Judea, there were significant communities in Galilee, Egypt, Southern Mesopotamia, and the Syrian saddle and the Southcentral Turkish highlands from Aleppo to Tarsus. Many of these people had little of no relationship with Judea or Jerusalem. At first, contact probably occurred through itinerant traders but eventually, a more formal system developed which included instruction in the Law for the outlying areas and transfer of money for the operation in Jerusalem.

Herod being the consummate businessman and needing money for construction of the Second Temple and other things regularized the system, giving to members of the Judean nobility specific areas in which to operate and amounts to be returned to the Royal and Temple treasuries. While this does not have much to do with our story here, it does so not long after Herod’s death. And die he did, a rather gruesome death.

After his death, his kingdom was divided by the Romans among his three surviving sons and his sister. One son Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea. Another, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. the third son became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan, and Salome I was given a toparchy including the cities of Jabneh, Ashdod, and Phasaelis. What an ethnarch, tetrarch, toparchy are, I have no idea.

Shortly after the dividing up of Herod’s kingdom, the shit hit the fan.
(to be continued)

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Among my Cracked Histories, Tomyris and the Massegetae is one of my favorites. A version appears in the book listed below at the end of the piece. It can also be found in my blog Trenz Pruca’s Journal (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/every-now-and-then-we-should-stop-what-we-are-doing-and-consider-tomyris-and-the-massengetae/)

“Every now and then we should stop what we are doing and consider Tomyris and the Massegetae.

I believe, it is worthwhile to occasionally contemplate Tomyris and the Massegetae, if not for its impact on history then for its elucidation of the ability of a determined woman to lead her country in a time of crisis.

Tomyris Queen of the Massegetae reigned over a semi-nomadic nation in South-central Asia at the time Cyrus the Great Emperor of Persia and ruler of just about every other place anyone had heard of, ravaged that part of the world. (This was about four or five hundred years before Jesus walked the earth preaching peace and unleashing, often in his name, 2000 years of bloodshed far beyond that which the world had experienced for the previous 4000 years.)

“One day, Cyrus marched his armies into the land of the Massegetae, an area he noticed he had forgotten to conquer. He exclaimed to his comrades in arms, “Hey here’s a place where I haven’t killed many people yet. Let’s have some fun.”

Tomyris’ son and about a third of the Massegetae troops rode out to meet Cyrus and his marauders. They were quickly defeated and Tomyris’ son (clearly not a chip off his mom’s block) taken prisoner. This was familiar stuff to Cyrus who, whenever he wanted to kill some people, usually was confronted by their young sons who shouted at him that they would fight back if he tries to kill them. He would kill them anyway and make the rest slaves. It was good being Cyrus.

So Cyrus walked or rode or however conquerers traveled back then, up to what passed for a wall surrounding what passed for a city to the nomadic Massegetae. With Tomyris son in tow, he strutted back and forth in front of those walls and shouted to Tomyris that she should surrender her town and country, such that it was.

Tomyris, that tough old bird, climbed to the top of those walls, hiked up her skirt, stared down at the strutting Cyrus, and shouted back:

“Now listen to me and I will advise you for your good: give me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over one-third of the Massegetae. If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.”

Thus, Tomyris Warrior Queen of the Massegetae responded to Cyrus the Great, Emperor of Persia, conqueror of the greatest empire of the ancient world and leader of the largest and most technologically advanced army of the time.

Cyrus refused Tomyris’ advice. So, she personally led the charge of her forces and destroyed his army. After her victory, she searched the battlefield herself until she found Cyrus’ body, then she cut off his head and made his skull into her favorite goblet.

This leads me to conclude that one should never mess with a woman named Tomyris, or for that matter, a Massegetae who some ancient historians believe became the Huns. (I heard that there is a biker gang in South Dakota named the Massegetae whose leader is a six-foot-six-inch transsexual named Tomyris.)

For those interested in learning more about the Massegetae, this is what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus had to say about them:

“In their dress and mode of living, the Massegetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for headgear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.”

“The following are some of their customs; – Each man has but one wife[…]“yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massegetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Jaxartes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”

I have a few concerns and questions about the Massegetae life-style:
1. How does one have one wife held in common?
2. How old do you have to be before they come for you and boil you up with a cow or two?
3. How pissed off with your lot in life would you be if you were forced to live on beef, fish, sour milk and a grandfather or grandmother now and then? Enough to want to go and beat the shit out of someone, I would imagine.”

Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo. “Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” iBooks. ”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

All stories have at their heart either a great truth or a great lie. The better the story the less we can tell which one it is.
B. Today’s Poem:

My revision to the opening stanza of Taliesin:

I have been many things,
before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow many colored sword.
I have been a tear in the air.
I have lived as the faintest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
a book among words.

 

C. Correspondence with Peter:

From Peter

Your story suggests a possible sequel for Omar, a la Rocky II, III, etc.: Something about Omar and O.Henry attend the conversion of Charles Martel to Islam in the White Horse Tavern – the latter because the Alhambra was being rehabbed to condos; and of course Dylan Thomas sitting at the bar, raging about not going gently into the good night, and Omar, O. Henry, the now-beatific Martel, Baby Ruth and Mr. Goodbar come over to Thomas and say “Sadducee ya so glum, chum, let’s off to Soi Cowboy and find you a Comely Princess to take your mind off your troubles until you can wax poetic again.” Etc., etc.

So, back in EDH. That must be rather surrealistic after BKK, let alone Beijing airport. How about Trump Tower West to jazz it up a bit? Bankrupt in three. Windup Girl wins the Laguna Beach Pageant, settles in the EDH West Tower Suite as Trumpette #4, and, as biblical flood waters rise, floats away on her pet monitor lizard Saladin.

Sorry to hear about your mom’s fall and fracture; elderly broken hips are not happy.

Blast from the past: I stopped in to Ye Olde SCC for a brief chat with Sam Schuchat. Talk about weird. First time since 1994. They will move into the Oakland State building by the end of the year. Terminal dreariness…..

Band played for the recent SF Alzheimers Walk fundraiser. Biggest crowd ever, if only each for 30 seconds as they passed by, cheering. Next week we’re at the annual Oakland Plant Exchange again: people bring their plants to exchange for other people’s plants. Think of the angles. We’re adding to our collection of odd venues.

Speaking of Naga headhunters, my bandmate told of one of his island trips years ago, this one to Fiji. The fijians were cannibals up until not long ago. They witnessed a folk dance that was quite vigorous and militaristic – probably led to the cooking cauldron in times past. Which made me think of old man Seabrook, who traveled to west Africa during the 1920s, including visiting with some cannibals. He decided ‘when in Rome’, and tried the fare as offered by the villagers. Didn’t say it tasted like chicken. Later, he got up to Timbuktu, as did Geoffrey Moorehouse, who wrote of his trek across the Sahara in 1970 and had to leave after four days because of all the tourists. Now it’s islamic crazies burning books. Back in Rhinebeck, NY, Seabrook used to chain his wife up naked on a long chain out in the spacious yard, according to Barrie, who stayed there with her family — near where Seabrook’s place was — one summer many years ago when her father was doing summer theater up there. No ocelots, though.

Happy birthday, Joe, in advance, in case I forget while my hearing aids’ batteries die.
My response:

Thanks,

My mom seems ok. They fixed the hip but she seems unwilling to wake up. The doctors think they may have overdosed her with morphine. I hope she enjoys the trip.

EDH is so quiet after BKK that I keep thinking my hearing loss has gotten worse.

I wish it would have been possible for Seabrook and the Gemologist to meet each other — cannibals, headhunters, zombies, clouded leopards, jewels and women in chains — oh my.
Peter responds:

Sounds like they would have had a great time exchanging yarns. Oh my indeed.

Reminds me of that movie, I think it was The Once And Future King, with Michael Caine and Shawn Connery (??).

As to the quiet of EDH, why not open a combination Zen sasheen zendo (for the cognoscenti), health farm, spiritual energy alignment center, “happy ending” massage parlor, and Harbin Hot Springs operation? With a small track similar to the paseo that Mexican young people do around the zocalo but bigger to enable the Lamborghini/Ferrari/Jaguar/Henry J crowd to cruise around. Noise police would cruise the center with THX1137-somber looming menace in appropriate Armani/Versace garb. Housing values would soar, major eateries would flock, throngs would zoom to EDH to see and be seen, and Kardashian and other fabulous jewelry would be heisted weekly to provide a smidgen of zest for the otherwise somnolent, would be-narcisisst post-Trump crowd. Lots of material for HDH’s video show, which would broadcast continuously on screens in all the Best establishments. Periodic events such as the Basso Profundo contest to determine the best performers of “Ommmm”; or the Gossamer Wings Ephemeral Fly-By contest to choose the “Maxwell Parish would have chosen you” Floating Nymph award. Don’t know how all this would affect your hearing loss.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Lest there be any well-intentioned persons who do not perceive the difference … between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and the meanest affairs of life, to the extraordinary confusion of ignorant minds, let them understand that it is always the latter, and never the former, which is satirized here. Further, that the latter is here satirized as being, according to all experience, inconsistent with the former, impossible of union with it, and one of the most evil and mischievous falsehoods existent in society…. It may appear unnecessary to offer a word of observation on so plain a head. But it is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip, and idle in the heart; or against the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who, in the words of SWIFT, have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another.”
Preface to the Charles Dickens Edition, THE PICKWICK PAPERS (1868).

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
nam_30
The Namibia Superstar, a photograph by Richard K. Diran. (http://www.diranart.com/web/index.php?option=com_expose&Itemid=28 )

 

Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Mopey 0004 (February 4, 2015)

 

“… the origin of Hells Kitchen? Before Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, there was Indigestion on Ninth.”
Peter Grenell, July 1, 2012 (11 Shadow, 0001)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

For the past week or so the weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny here behind the locked gates of the city on the Golden Hills. Spring flowers on some trees have already begun to bloom.

Very little breaks the monotony of life within the security walls and landscaped medians except swimming and sleeping. Swimming because I can zone out in almost drug like bliss until my head strikes the cement edge of the pool. Sleeping because my dreams take me far away to places, if not happier then, at least, more interesting.
___________________________

Today I decided to skip work. Work to me now is writing love letters to myself on the computer and emailing them to my close friends and to those not so close, reading unbelievably trashy novels and taking long naps. Instead, after breakfast and swimming, I ate a pretty good pastrami sandwich at the local Italian deli, went for a long (for me) walk around the lake and finished off digging through a chocolate, yogurt and cranberry gelato. I think I am going to cry.
_____________________________

It is somewhat unsettling to have January days at this latitude of the Sierra Foothills where families bring their children to swim and sunbathe at the community pool. It is also disturbing, if enjoyable, for there to have been not a drop of rain during that same month. Such circumstances in the short run are vagaries in weather and usually not determinative of changes in climate. Their immediate origin appears to be caused by a massive distortion of the North-American jet stream bringing cold wet weather to the eastern half of the continent and warm dry weather to the western half. But if, here in California, they persist for a decade or so, I do not think any Peripheral Canal or other geoengineering proposal will be able to ameliorate the consequences.
_____________________________________________

Recently I read and article in some medical journal that vivid (lucid) dreamers have larger occipital lobes in their brain and that because of their size sort of fold over on each other — in other words, the brains of vivid dreamers are deformed. The article also maintained that those afflicted with this problem experience a similar state while awake. No, they do not go around believing that their lives are just a dream and that the hope they will soon wake up, although, God knows, I cannot count the times I had hoped it was so. According to the article, like in their dreams where they know they are dreaming and can manipulate them when they are awake and thinking, they know they are thinking. Alas, I have no idea what they are talking about here. Doesn’t everyone have an ongoing conversation with themselves about what they are thinking and why they are spending their time doing so? The few times I do something that can be referred to as thinking and not emoting, I find most of what I think about rather silly. Often I then write about it in T&T and send it out wondering if it annoys some of you as much as it does me.

B. BOOK REPORT:

Mystery novels and thrillers written by lawyers or ex-lawyers have become almost a sub-genre in themselves. Of course, what impels them to give up the emotionally rewarding vocation of an Attorney for insecurity of a literary life remains a mystery in itself (Snark alert).

Except for novels by my friends Sheldon Seigel and Chris Moore, I try to avoid books written by fallen members of that class parasites who often see themselves as counselors to society, or at least to that segment of society who can afford their fees. Alas, so many are now writing books it is difficult to avoid them completely.

The Big Kahuna of this group of authors is John Grisham. For some reason every now and then I pick up one of his works to read. He appears more stylistically accomplished than many of his brethren and quite clever in his plotting and story telling. But, what distinguishes him most is that he may be this generations muckraker in chief. The majority of his stories the often about a lonely and dangerous fight by an individual attorney with little power against representatives of formidable economic interests. Much of his books are devoted to describing the industry and the means by which it exercises its will to the detriment of society. His latest, Gray Mountain takes on big coal in Appalachia.

Pookie says, “Check it out…”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

A. Climate Change:

I do not know if others have noticed, but there seems to be a shift in position among climate change deniers. Many of them no longer deny the reality of climate change and its associated global warming. Climate change is real they agree but now maintain that it is either not caused by humans or really all that serious. As for it not being human caused, I suspect that this only will be a short term political objection. Once one accepts that climate is changing and world temperatures are escalating there are very few “natural” causes to blame that can stand up to scientific scrutiny —Vulcanism? Variable solar output? — These have already been dismissed as untenable except by the most deranged deniers. That leaves the argument that it is not very bad and may even be a good thing, so we should just lie back and enjoy it. Be prepared for an avalanche of articles, blogs and television punditry cherry picking obscure and usually non-peer reviewed data that they claim “prove” that the seas will rise only a little bit and would never top your sea-wall; that the minuscule temperature rises promise a world of eternal springtime, and that the hoards of people fleeing the desertification of their homelands are simply too lazy to scratch the soil a little harder and use more pesticides and fertilizer, preferring instead to travel many often dangerous miles and suffer extreme prejudice in order to live on the largess of the welfare state.

B. Musings on Events in the Near east (continued from last issue of T&T):

Mohamed, born into a wealthy urbanized Arab clan in Mecca, suffered a dysfunctional childhood as a result of the deaths of his parents and his fostering by some poorer relatives in the clan. He grew into a not so prosperous businessman until in his 30’s he lead a trading caravan funded by a wealthy older woman who eventually became the first of his eleven (I believe) wives. At about the age when most unsuccessful and many successful men begin to wonder what it is all about, Mohammed began spending more and more time alone in the desert, ultimately developing a syncretic monotheistic religion composed of Jewish, Christian and pagan elements. The religion, fatalistic in tone as was the Arab society from which in sprung, required only a few distinct rituals for its adherents and absolute obedience to God’s Prophet Mohammed. Like Jesus before him, Muhammed’s religious mandates originally were exclusively directed only to his ethnic group.

Mohammed, having little success in Mecca, left that city for Medina twice. The Arab and to some extent Jewish clans in Medina, a commercial rival of Mecca, encouraged Mohammed hoping the growth of his religion would increase business. Mecca was a major pilgrimage destination that Muhammed’s family benefited from.

After his first sojourn in Medina, Mohammed encouraged by the local clans returned to Mecca to preach his new religion. This enraged the Meccans for among other things Mohammad condemned the worship of the Kaaba, the pilgrimage site that was the source wealth for several clans including his own. An attempt to kill him led by his own family prompted Mohammed to flee back to Medina. There he implored the Midianites to fund his return to Mecca in order to subdue it. They refused. So Mohammed, probably noticing the excess of young males with limited opportunities in the area, proposed to them that if they were to agree to become raiders for Islam for free they could keep the loot — provided they give Muhammed 1/5 of it. He also exiled one of the Jewish clans in the city and took their property as starter capital. This worked very well and after a period of pure brigandage, they wiped out the other Hebrew clans, expropriated their wealth and went on to conquer, in short order, most of the Near East.

Thus, two institutions arose in Arab culture, the military that conquered but had no idea about how to govern and the teacher/ministry who had no interest in doing so. As a result, government as we know it eventually fell into the hands of non-Arabic Muslims or existing non-Muslim populations in the conquered lands. This inability to create or manage a state ultimately resulted in the non-Arabic Muslim converts taking over management of the states and eventually supplanting their Arab masters. (to be continued)

DAILY FACTOID:

2015: Aging. Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a procedure for slowing or stopping aging in cells by restoring the Telomeres in chromosomes. Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies. This internal “clock” makes it difficult to keep most cells growing in a laboratory for more than a few cell doublings. The new procedure permits cells to divide up to 40 or more times.

2015: The Tattooed Iceman. The 5300-year-old well-preserved cadaver discovered in the Alps and nicknamed the Iceman has been found to have 61 tattoos on his body corresponding to the skin acupuncture lines developed in Asia thousands of years later.
tattoos

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Should Cities be more Resilient?

In April of last year, San Francisco appointed the world’s first Chief Resilience Officer as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. The appointment comes with a two year $100,000 per year grant from the foundation to develop a city’s ability to recover from acute shocks and chronic stresses or, as the initial appointee explained, keeping track of everything that could test the city, from resource scarcity to social inequality. He seems to believe that, after discovering who does what in the City bureaucracy, the position entails encouraging those other city emergency, response and recovery entities and personnel to feel good about their jobs.
B. Musings on Heaven:

Have you ever wondered about why the Judeo-Christian heaven so resembles North Korea with its endless chanting and adoration of its blessed leader? At least for those Muslim men who die in battle, they get to eat and fornicate forever. For Muslim women, however — well, they are just screwed here on earth and in Heaven.

Statistically and historically, the number of those “humans” with immortal souls (as maintained by most Christians) who have died in the womb through miscarriages, death of the mother or during childbirth is somewhere between ten and twenty times the number of live births. These soul-endowed humans not having the opportunity to do anything prohibited by God, supposedly end up in Heaven. So, when the elect pass on to their just rewards, they will find a Heaven overwhelmingly filled with fetuses. Catholic theology deals with this horrifying image by segregating that mass of helpless individuals into “Limbo” so that the saved can avoid the shock.

In Heaven one spends all eternity chanting hymns and staring at the Great One in adoration, much like watching endless reruns of Seinfeld. Or, in the case of Islam endlessly fornicating with the same 72 virgins who of course after the first couple of weeks would no longer be so. Wouldn’t, in very short order, one want to get out of town so to speak? Is there a difference between Heaven and Hell? Are we all simply being punished for existing? Have we been tricked?

Is it true that those who die with the most money win? If so, what do they win? Many non-Catholic and Orthodox Christian sects believe that those with the most toys get better seats in Heaven’s arena. I could see where that would have some appeal in a fetus-filled stadium. But, even so, what could possibly be the appeal of spending all eternity in a private suite overlooking an endless Superbowl. Imagine automobile, insurance and fast food commercials without end. Jean-Paul Sartre would love it.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Rising prices benefit debtors and injure creditors, while falling prices do the opposite. A debtor called upon to pay a debt at a time when prices are higher than when he contracted the debt must yield up less goods and services than he obtained at the earlier date, on a lower price level, when he borrowed the money. A creditor, such as a bank, which has lent money— equivalent to a certain quantity of goods and services— on one price level, gets back the same amount of money— but a smaller quantity of goods and services— when repayment comes at a higher price level, because the money repaid is then less valuable. This is why bankers, as creditors in money terms, have been obsessed with maintaining the value of money, although the reason they have traditionally given for this obsession— that ‘sound money’ maintains ‘business confidence’— has been propagandist rather than accurate.”
Quigley, Carroll.

TODAY’S CHART:

biblemarriage
Examples of marriage options approved in the Bible

Marriage is and always has been a means of establishing a socio-economic organization focused on child rearing obligations, financial responsibilities and allocations among the parties and inheritance rights. Love never had anything to do with it except to make the lovers routinely oblivious to the economic implications of their liaison and the often unexpected burdens of parenthood requiring the state to step in. Today, most of the legal rules that inure to the marital ceremony determine the economic relationships between the parties not otherwise affected by a contract between them and defines those obligations and rights society determines cannot be signed away. Theoretically, any arrangement of people choosing to share living, economic and parental arrangements should be able to choose this option.

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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Today’s Photograph:
10155104_10152838669020242_6799419858627281396_nRoccantica, my grandmother’s birthplace

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Mopey 0004 (January 19, 2015)

 

“…the brave are merely the stupid who live through their poor decisions.”
Fuller, Brian. Trysmoon Book 4: Sacrifice (The Trysmoon Saga).
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TYSON UNDERWOOD rest in peace. We will miss your ever-present smile.
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TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

After resting a day, swimming was a pleasure. A half an hour without becoming tired is better than the exhausted feeling that follows Exercycle or weight training — perhaps because they both are so boring. Completing a lap seems like successfully meeting a challenge — completing a set, not so much.
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Research and some analysis indicate that it is probably better to tackle the nodule question aggressively. Even if the Dr. proposes a test, wait and see approach, people over retirement age are not likely to get any stronger therefore, even if there is any ambiguity as to diagnosis and prognosis, it would be preferable to get it over now and take the risk rather than waiting to be absolutely certain that radical steps need to be taken later. Beyond 70, the chances of even currently benign nodules turning cancerous increases substantially over time. Let’s see what the doctor has to say Monday.
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Tyson Underwood has died after a long battle with cancer. Kathleen’s ex-husband, an artist and a long time director of annual art festivals in Marin, was one of the most upbeat and unreservedly optimistic persons I have ever known.
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It is uncomfortable to swim late in the afternoon while the sun goes down behind the clubhouse casting a shadow over the pool and you are the last person still in the pool. Ending the planned laps a bit early and getting into to the hot tub that still had three people in it, even if no one talks to anyone else makes one feel less alone and vulnerable.

A woman of indeterminate age wearing a white-billed cap and one-piece bathing suit with a tiny flower pattern sat in the hot-tub reading a book about Paris. Another older somewhat rotund woman, who had been swimming laps previously, seemed an athletic type since she continued to flex her arms and shoulders while she sat in the hot water. Our fourth companion in the tub was a middle-aged man with blond hair going gray who mumbled to himself as he sat in front of a water jet.
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On Monday, the doctor was thoroughly engaged in reviewing the various test results in an unsuccessful effort to determine what was causing my low blood pressure. He ignored the CT scan Pulmonary Nodule discovery. “Oh that,” he exclaimed. “They usually are not a problem.” After additional in office tests on the low blood pressure, he concluded, by a process of elimination, they probably were neurological and referred me to a neurologist. When pushed again on the nodule, he explained that he would first need to see whether it appeared in prior chest x-rays and the like to determine whether or not it existed before or was something new. A few days later he secured a copy of the tests performed two years ago during my hospitalization for a pulmonary embolism. They showed a nodule in the same place. That is a good sign. He recommended a pulmonary specialist and arranged an appointment.

The two-year-old hospital report on the pulmonary embolism indicated that all the arteries into the lungs were blocked and that only a small part of the upper right lobe worked to keep my body alive until the other passages could be cleared. That’s a little like falling out of a plane without a parachute and surviving. Come to think of it, it was a long plane ride that probably caused the embolism. Could falling out of the plane been a better option than remaining seated in the middle seat in coach class for 12 hours and then rushing to the hospital a few days later in order to save ones life?
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One of the delights of retirement is that you get to enjoy the pleasure of standing freezing on the sidelines for and hour or so as the child you are responsible for plays football or some other organized activity. The activity is generally designed by other adults in order to extract money from those legally responsible for the child’s welfare who agree to pay the con so that they can avoid self-reproach for their inability to otherwise get the child out of the house to play.
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A selfie
B. BOOK REPORT:

Sometime in the late 60’s and continuing for a decade the Swedish husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö embarked on an ambitious scheme to write one mystery book a rear for ten years. The books were to be interconnected in a series called “The Story of Crime.”

Ruth turned me on to the series. Where most modern mystery stories over the past forty years generally feature a brilliant if somewhat odd sleuth who solves the mystery usually by either cleaver deduction or by the impact of his or her particular psychosis (for example by beating people up or getting drunk), these are stories about Swedish police detectives who solve cases using the routine that are the lot of most public employees. They get bored, sick with colds and have bad marriages. The criminals more often than not are sympathetic, driven to murder by social circumstances they cannot control and now and then they even get away with it.

Despite being over 40 years old, the novels grapple with issues pertinent today such as the militarization of policing, the social desperation that drives people to crime and the impact of replacing personal interaction between the police and the public with impersonal violence that begets even more violence resulting in the collapse of the morale of both.

“More and more often one was obliged to initiate an investigation by trying to sort out what the police had been up to. Not infrequently this proved harder than clearing up the actual case.”
Sjowall, Maj; Wahloo.The Locked Room: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (8).

My two favorite books in the series are The Laughing Policeman and The Abominable man.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

What is occurring in the Near-East right now I believe is misunderstood. It is not a religious conflict, but religious conflicts certainly exist. It is not a clash among incompatible ideologies and economic interests, but ideological and economic strife are rampant.

What is happening now has happened before at least twice and perhaps more. In both of those previous situations, a drying of the climate had reduced the grassland on either side of the more urbanized and productive fertile crescent that had supported the way of life of the grassland inhabitants. With this climate crisis, populations began to migrate from the grasslands to the more fertile and settled regions. Along with this came the functional equivalent of biker gangs. Under employed young men with weapons with nothing more productive to do attempting to acquire the surplus production of their more settled neighbors usually under the unifying impetus of an ideology to which they gave real or feigned allegiance.

Today the rural economy of the middle east is in shambles as the area desertifies and the population increases beyond sustainability for the area. (to be Continued)
DAILY FACTOID:
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Mendacity:

Republicans, in general, neo-liberal and supply-side economists reject the Keynesian prescription that during times of insufficient demand (recession and depression) expenditures of public funds even if it results in a governmental deficit is needed to restore the economy to health. Democrats, progressives and Keynesian economists disagree. On the other hand, Republicans, etc., appear quite happy to steadily increase the expenditure on military procurement and benefits and tax benefits for hydrocarbon-based energy production. This has been described as Weaponized Keynesianism and Carbonized Keynesianism.

If there was a third hand, Democrats et al., seem quite happy, during times of insufficient demand to decrease military expenditures and petrochemical public benefits and apply the funds thus saved to governmental welfare schemes.

While I personally prefer the latter, it appears there is an element of hypocrisy on both sides.

We may disagree about whether or not a military dollar gives a greater bang for the buck than a welfare dollar but to some extent we still are agreeing on a Keynesian solution to insufficient demand. The difference seems to be that the Repubs, etc., believe the emergency expenditure should be generally supply side in nature usually including tax relief for equity.

The Dems et al., however, usually propose road, bridge and infrastructure improvements as part of their recession recovery packages (along with middle-class tax relief) and these are also definitely trickle down.

So, it seems to me that it all comes down to a question of politics and not economics. Unless, of course, you consider who ends up with the money is a question of personal destiny and not of social choice.

B. Some past effects of a change in climate :

“In the west with which we are concerned here, there was a climate change after A.D. 200, marked, it would seem, by a retreat of the polar icecap and the polar area of high pressures; this allowed the prevailing westerly winds and rains to move northward so that they passed over the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia, with great growth of forest in all northern Europe, and with greatly reduced rainfall in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and east of the Caspian Sea. In the same period, war and disease resulted in a decrease of population of up to 60 per cent in Europe or in the Roman empire from about 200 to after 800, that is to say over six hundred or more years. Careful studies of the population of the Roman empire seem to indicate that its population fell from about 70 million persons at the time of Christ to about 50 million in 300. The wars, migrations, spread of plagues, and abandonment of much family life, including the spread of chastity for religious reasons and of sexual perversions for other reasons, all contributed to this decrease. This had a very adverse influence on economic production as well as on defense, especially when it was combined, after 200, by a flight from the cities to the rural areas, and a movement of economic activities toward self-sufficiency. One of the chief characteristics of an economic depression is a reduction in roundabout modes of production by a decrease in investment, although not necessarily in savings, along with a reduction in the specialization of production and exchange of products. The links in any chain of activity from the original producer to the final consumer are reduced in number; individuals retreat from very specialized activities to more general ones; the use of exchange and of money decreases. All of these changes are to be found in weapons systems and in defense, where we find a similar tendency to fall back on the simpler, less complex, and more general forms of weapons, tactics, and organizational arrangements, including, for example, the belief that the same man should produce food and fight (peasant militia) or a reduction of defense to a single weapon or only two. We may not notice these military consequences when the depression is brief, as the world depression of 1929-1940, but these effects do appear when such an economic collapse continues for centuries, in a dark age.

The effects of such a change are also important on the non-material aspects of the society, where we find a tendency for people to turn toward a more personal and existential life, with emphasis on day-to-day interpersonal activities, decreasing emphasis on planning for the future in this secular world, and a decrease in abstract thinking and generalizations, but instead, a great emotional and intellectual emphasis on a few symbols and words. Life tends to polarize into almost total absorption in momentary empirical activity, with intellectual life reduced to a few large symbols.
Carroll Quigley. Weapons systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Interior — St John Lateran, Rome

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 JoJo 0003 (June 1, 2014)

 

“It takes two people to make a deal: a desperate man and a winner.”
Wight, Will. City of Light (The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy: Book #3). Hidden Gnome Publishing.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. One day like many others

The curfew remains in effect (10 PM to 6 AM I think). Still no sign in my neighborhood of military or effects of the coup. In the morning I walk past Nana Plaza and through the Arab neighborhood to Foodland my favorite breakfast place (two eggs, 1 strip of bacon, coffee, toast and juice for $2) and then to the health club for my morning swim. I have a new exercise regime. Instead of doing just one more like the personal trainers used to urge that I hated and eventually caused me to quit exercising, I now do one less. I feel much better and happier.
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Himself at lunch

After exercise and my massage, I sometimes eat lunch and then go home and lie on the rock hard bed until dinner which I usually eat in my room. Then, about when the curfew starts, I go to sleep.
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2. Someplace for old men

I have resumed my morning meetings with the old men (farang’s) at the health club. We sit around on flea infested chairs, read the two local english language newspapers and lie about our past lives.

Today one of the “alters” who lived in Oakland and used to have a tax preparation business in the Bay Area mentioned that he did not think that climate change was caused by humans. “After all,” he added, “think about all the money those scientists are making from government grants to find that humans caused global warming when in fact for the last decade the temperature has remained stable.” When I suggested that one would think that the hydrocarbon industry would have a larger economic interest than these scientists, he responded, “Not true, they are happy to supply natural gas if Obama would only allow the Keystone pipeline to go through.” He was surprised when I told him I thought Keystone was an oil shale pipeline and not a gas line. We agreed not to talk about climate change any more and turned our conversation to other significant political issues of interest to him like why Nancy Pelosi has had so many face lifts and why Joe Biden is so dumb.
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3. The most dangerous thing in Bangkok

Bangkok, also known as the City of Angeles, can be a dangerous place, with the occasional military coup, rampant STD, suffocating air pollution, sporadic food poisoning, rats and cobras, corrupt cops and things like that. But by far the greatest danger is its sidewalks and what lies beneath them. Cracked and broken sidewalks that can fracture an ankle of the unwary cover the ancient canals which now serve as the City’s sewers. Often the sidewalk gives way and someone falls into foetid sludge below.

About a month before I arrived an elderly farang (western man) who lived in my apartment block went for a walk. Just outside the apartment the sidewalk collapsed beneath him and he fell through into the muck below. He was taken to the hospital and has not been seen since.

A few days ago a squad of Cambodian and Burmese migrants showed up to clean out those same sewers. They had to jump in to the rat and snake infested water, drag out the mud and mire with their bare hands and deposit it in plastic containers. Since then those containers have been standing lined up at the side or the road waiting for someone to do something with them.

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Barrels of muck

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New cover over hole through which the old man fell
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4. I hate growing old (version #1273)

For the first time that I can remember, I had a panic attack that lasted throughout the night, robbed me of sleep and, as I lay there alone in by bed, convinced me that my numbered days had ben reduced to single digits. The next day I felt so awful that I could barely make it to breakfast and decided to skip my exercise and return home. I intended to write here how I detested my steadily eroding capabilities due to age.

Alas, when I arrived back at my apartment, I realized that for the last three days or so I had forgotten to take the dozens of pills my doctors require me to take every day and actually was going through various forms of withdrawal the most serious of which was withdrawal from my happy pills.
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I don’t always sleep alone. (The monkey is named Douglas. I call the Gorilla, Gorilla)
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B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

Malibu in my mind (continued)

Some background is needed in order to understand the initial story line of the dream. As most of you know there is a sort of a space race by private enterprise to design a reusable space vehicle that would allow very rich people to fly off into the edge of space and return just like those not yet rich people called astronauts. The astronauts are trained and paid by the government (you and I) and perform scientific experiments that may benefit humankind. The rich people of course are unqualified to do anything of the sort except pay for the experience. So they will hire these currently highly trained governmental employees to become space taxi drivers and to forget about benefits for humanity so they, the rich, can have the same experience as the experts with none of the burden of actually doing anything.

Nevertheless, the market being what it is, some entrepreneurs will seek, in the spirit of competition, to offer a somewhat lower cost alternative even if it is something of marginal public benefit. That is where the dream begins. One of these low-cost operations, lets call it Rocket Blue or SouthWest Space Flights decided on an unusual publicity stunt to launch their service. They managed to find 10 people from the Midwest who had never been out of the Midwest or to the coast of California where the launch was to take place. These 10 people were given a free flight on the maiden voyage of the vehicle. They would be accompanied by two real Californians who also knew something about the coast, presumably so they could point out points of interest as the rocket roared off into space.

That is where I come in, I was one of these two even though I am not a real Californian. The other one was none other than Joe Edmiston. I assume that our employers believed Joe and I added a certain cachet to the venture. This is a dream after all.

Anyway the vehicle itself was clearly low-cost, looking less like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than the inside of a leaky wooden boat.

We discovered, as we were settling into our seats, that these 10 accidental tourists were an obnoxious and argumentative lot. Considering that Joe and I are masters of the art of being querulous and unpleasant, the trip began with less than happy camaraderie.

Anyway, off we went into the edge of space. To me the final frontier was somewhat of a disappointment, basic black with stars that did not twinkle but stared malevolently at you like the unthinkingly eyes of a million wolves reflected in the light of the campfire just before they attack. The disk of the earth below all blue, white brown and green has been seen so often in photographs, logos, SF movies and the like that it was hard to work up some element of surprise or awe at the sight.

In any event, we thankfully soon began our descent.

Now as I have repeatedly pointed out, this is a low-cost spaceship operation. As such, instead of designing the vehicle to land on an airport runway upon its return from space as the high price enterprises do, in our case the vehicle deployed a large parachute to hopefully gently deposit us on the ground where several cars and trucks could meet us and return us to where we took off.

This approach is much like that used in those hot air balloon rides. You know, where you get up god-awfully early in the morning while it is still too chilly to be out and about. You are then stuffed into a basket with too many people you do not know while the fire device that inflates the balloon shatters the silence (as well as your eardrums). You take off and float a few hundred feet over supposedly beautiful scenery that you pay little attention to because you are dealing with one or more of: agoraphobia, claustrophobia or vertigo and praying that you do not vomit or fart. You fly for an hour or so and eventually land with a bounce or two in someones back yard or if you’re lucky a park where your transportation is waiting to take you back to where you parked your car, and to warmth.

In our case, we had taken off from Vandenberg and were supposed to land somewhere near the Pismo-Nippomo Dunes. Unfortunately, a strong gust of wind blew us in the opposite direction and we landed in the ocean off Point Dume. Kerplunk! (To be continued)

C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:

For those who are fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden adventure series, his latest Skin Game, the 15th book in the series, is out. In this adventure, Harry, Chicago’s only professional wizard and now the Winter Knight is sent by Queen Mab to steal the Holy Grail from Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve done without a hitch since the last time I saw you, Dresden. You walk through the door and everything goes to hell.”
“That’s embroidered on my towels, actually,” I said.

“What you are telling me,” she said, “is that you have never shared your life with another over the long term. The closest you have come to it is providing a home and affection for a being which is entirely your subject and in your control.”
“Well, not at bath time…”

“I know you’ve been aching to have your hands on my staff,” I said to Ascher, as Nicodemus examined the altar for himself. I held out my hand. “But I’d rather be the one fondling my tool. Wizards are weird like that.”

Pookie says, “check it out.”
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Don’t mess with Facebook

A day following the announcement by the coup leaders that a commission has been formed to look into Facebook and other social media, the Facebook internet page went down for an hour throughout the nation. The public outcry was so great that the military had to publicly declare that they had nothing to do with it. Who did is still unclear at this time.

2. In general it is the General

A little noted aspect of the current military coup is that the coup several years ago that toppled Thaksin the Terrible, the exiled fugitive prime minister (and pater familias of the recently ousted government) was precipitated by his attempt to replace the military leadership with members of his own class at the nations élite military school from which the army general staff is chosen.

In Thailand the military is effectively independent of any other governing institution in the country. Its general staff is chosen in lock step from the élite military academy. When one class retires the next one takes over.

In previous issues of T&T I warned that until the current military commander retires in September of this year a coup remains a high probability.

In fact, according to reports, the coup was well and secretly planned by the Chief of Staff and a small group of plotters including an outside attorney to occur before September when Thaksin the Terrible’s class was scheduled to take over.

It is important to note that although the coup leaders carefully detained the political leaders of both warring factions more or less equally, within the national police and the military the removals and transfers almost exclusively have been of officers sympathetic to the ousted prime minister.

As it is so often in politics, nothing is precisely as it seems.
DAILY FACTOID:

Sometime in the 1960’s: How Hillary met Bill at Yale: She got up from her desk, walked over to him, extended her hand, and said, “If you keep looking at me, and I’m going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I’m Hillary Rodham.”
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” was all about and what it really wanted:

It wanted those who make the laws to approach them the way that Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism suggested:

“To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers…The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Politics is the fight over which elites rule, not whether.”
Gooserock (Daily Kos)

“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”
William Jennings Bryan at the 1896 Democratic Convention.

Nothing changes.

TODAY’S CHART:

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I simply do not understand where they get only 475,000 people killed by humans in a year. I would think 475,000 could be done in an ordinary afternoon if we really put our minds to it.
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Unknown
This in a photo of a 1860 drawing of a member of the Camorra a Neapolitan criminal gang. In the 1970’s the fashion style sported by the gangster returned to threaten us all.

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 4 Pookie 0003 (November 19, 2014)

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels. Only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

While I nursed the remnants of my bronchitis, Nikki took over entertaining HRM. He left on Tuesday morning. Happily I am feeling better since my cough has, for the most part, disappeared.

The last days of autumn have come to the Golden Foothills. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn from deep red to brown. A carpet of fallen leaves covers everything not yet cleared by leaf blowers.

While on my daily walk, I observed the large Blue Heron that usually stays on the far side of the Duck Pond standing on the near side beside the path on which I was walking. As I got close it unlimbered its huge wings, took flight and slowly flapped back across the pond to its usual post. It was quite beautiful.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ITALY

1. A brief stay in Rome

I returned to Rome for two days before continuing on the Milan where I would catch the plane back to the US. I checked back in to the pensione on Via San Basilio, the place where they played Gregorian Chant at breakfast.
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Via San Basilio just off the Via Veneto

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My spartan room

During my time here with my sister a week ago, she indicated her wish to visit St Maria Maggiore Cathedral one of the four major Basilicas of Rome. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to it during our short stay, so I decided to visit it and take some photographs for her.

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The façade

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The interior

Despite its history and artistic significance, it is not my favorite of the basilicas. I prefer the Lateran Basilica for its dark and gloomy appearance and equally dark and gloomy history.
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The Lateran

The following day I took the train to Milan.
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The old walls by the train station.

2. Milano for a day

After a three-hour train ride I arrived in Milan and took a bus to Busto where Nikki lives. The next day we had lunch in Milan with Marco Gigi’s son at Gambero Rosso (The Red Shrimp) where we enjoyed a splendid risotto. After that, we went to see the restored “Last Supper,” that Nikki had never seen.

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Pookie in Milan

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The “Red Shrimp” restaurant (Gambero Rosso)
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Nikki, Marco and I at lunch

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The Church next to the refectory containing Last Supper. (Dome designed by Bramante)

The next morning after breakfast we flew off to the US.

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Our breakfast place in Busto

Traveling by plane with Nikki has its benefits. We get assistance through customs and passport control, help in making connections and better seats. The most unpleasant part of the trip was the huge delays on the Bay Bridge in SF at midnight.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that did.

England

In 1959 Britain’s Trojan Cars Ltd under license from Germany’s Heinkel Flugzuegwerke began selling the Heinkel’s bubble car as the Trojan 200. The car had three wheels and weighed a little over 1000 pounds. It had a one-cylinder four-stroke air-cooled engine that produced a grand total of 9 horse power that could push the vehicle to a top speed of a little more than 50 miles per hour over level ground. Portions of the automobile were constructed from surplus WWII airplane parts.

In 1968 I was living in London with my two and a half-year old son Jason and decided it was time to visit my relatives in Sicily. No one from my side of the family had visited there since 1928 when three of the four siblings of my maternal grandparents emigrated to America. So, one rainy and foggy London morning I, with my son and my luggage, walked to a nearby used car dealer and bought a Trojan 200. I bought it not because I thought about whether it was suitable for the trip, but because I liked the way it looked and it was cheap.
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The Trojan 200

I immediately piled my son, the one suitcase that held my worldly goods and a huge supply of disposable diapers into the vehicle and took off in what I had hoped would prove be the general direction of Sicily.

The first problem we faced was that the British drive on the right side of the road and I exited the used car lot directly into a busy one-way street in the opposite direction of traffic. There was not enough time to panic (as I am sure I would have preferred) so, I maneuvered my way through screeching tires and blaring horns until I reached a place where I could move on to the proper lane.

The second was escaping from the maze that is London in the general direction of Dover where I was reasonably confident I could find a ferry that would transport us to the continent. By keeping the River Thames on the right side of me, I was able to make my way to the edge of the city where I located signs pointing the way to the coast.

We soon found ourselves driving along a pleasant rural road heading toward our goal when suddenly the car stopped cold. I tried to suppress my worry by attending first to changing my son’s diaper and carefully depositing the used one behind a nearby bush. (In 1968 I had not yet become environmentally conscious or for that matter socially responsible.) We then went for a short walk to observe the visual pleasures of the English countryside. Upon our return, I placed my son back in the car, went to the rear of the vehicle and opened the cover to the engine. There I saw staring back at me a grimy little thing that seemed too small to propel a toy wagon much less an automobile.

My working thesis was that by staring at it long enough I would either be able to figure out what was wrong or frighten it sufficiently to scare it into operating again. After a few long minutes, it was clear the first option was not going to work, so I closed the cover, returned to the cab and turned the key to start the engine. I do not recall whether or not I was surprised but the engine started right up and we soon found ourselves back on the road to our destination.

Throughout the rest of the trip this mysterious stoppage would occur now and then. Rather than worrying, it gave my son and I the opportunity to commune together on beauties of whatever countryside we were passing through at the time.

Not too long after, we arrived at Dover or Folkestone or wherever the ferries docked. I originally wanted to take one of the hovercraft that had been newly introduced but the fare was too expensive. So, we parked in the cavernous hold of one of the regular ferries and immediately went up to the top floor and sat ourselves in front by the big glass window.

The sun had just parted the clouds leaving us in glorious sunshine. We chattered happily to each other and bounced up and down on our seats as the boat sped across the silver water towards the dark line of the continent on the horizon before us. (To be continued)

PEPE’S POTPURRI:

Arrogance and Futility in Action:

Recently I sent a series of four letters to the editor that were published in The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s premier English language newspaper. They pro-ported to advise the government on how they should draft their new Constitution. The following was the first:

“To the editor of the Bangkok Post:

Regarding the current struggle in Thailand to draft a new constitution, and having drafted and administered many laws, rules and regulations myself, I respectfully suggest the drafters consider the following policies formulated several years ago by professor Carroll Quigley of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Bill Clinton in his acceptance of the Presidential nomination said this of Professor Quigley:

‘As a teenager, I heard John Kennedy’s summons to citizenship. And then, as a student at Georgetown I heard that call clarified by a professor named Carroll Quigley, who said to us that America was the greatest nation in history because our people had always believed in two things: that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so.’

Among Professor Quigley’s fundamental requirements for any constitutional democracy are the preservation of a right to dissent and the protection of minority rights. Dissent I will take up in a later letter but as for minority rights Quigley states:

‘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 essential half of this definition then, is the second half, minority rights. What that means is that a minority has those rights which enable it to work within the system and to build itself up to be a majority and replace the governing majority. Moderate deviations from majority rule do not usually undermine democracy. In fact, absolute democracy does not really exist at the nation-state level. For example, a modest poll tax as a qualification for voting would be an infringement on the principle of majority rule but restrictions on the suffrage would have to go pretty far before they really abrogated democracy. On the other hand relatively slight restrictions on minority rights — the freedoms of speech, assembly, and other rights — would rapidly erode democracy.’

Thus any constitution whatever democratic variations it may take toward franchise, must provide a strong list of those rights reserved to the individual, such as freedom of expression, and assembly as well as security of their person and in their home. These and all similar individual rights should be clearly spelled out in the document.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I used to tell my students that the important thing in any election is the nomination. And when you come to the election itself, it doesn’t matter who votes, what’s important is who didn’t vote. Elections in the United States are increasingly decided by people who didn’t vote because they’re turned off for various reasons.”
Carroll Quigley

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Papa Joe 0003 (October 10, 2013)

“In my dealings with others, I always try to treat them better in person than I treat them in my mind.”
Trenz Pruca

Happy Birthday Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

Today was the first day I felt well since I arrived. I got up believing that things could not be better – a bad sign since by definition everything from that moment on had to be worse.

I sprang from my bed and began to exercise vigorously before the mirror. I have a theory that the more ridiculous your exercise movements appear, the better they are for you. Since I was exercising starkers that morning, they appeared ridiculous indeed. (Note: “starkers” means stark raving mad or stark naked or both.)

I left the apartment and headed off to breakfast. The sun was shining and sky was a clear blue. It was just warm enough to encourage a thin-film of sweat, not the mind numbing heat of a Bangkok afternoon.
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Street scene along the way to the health club.

As I walked along Soi Nana, I saw an ambulance pull over with – Heart Attack Emergency Response Unit – painted on its sides. It seemed that they were lost. One of the technicians leaned out of the window to ask directions from two passers-by. Each gave a different route. A lengthy discussion ensued. I listened for a while and then moved on leaving them to eventually find their way to the, I am sure, now deceased heart attack victim.

After breakfast, I went to the health club and paid the exorbitant $50 fee for one month’s membership in the decrepit facility. I complained and requested a discount. They refused but offered me free use of a locker for the month provided I supply my own lock.

After my swim, I walked with the old sailor/deep-sea diver back to his hotel which was on the way to my apartment. We talked about drugs and alcohol, their benefits and drawbacks. I found out that he had not been to the airport to see anyone off, but to meet me on my arrival. He said he knew how it was for someone to arrive alone at an airport after a long flight with no one to meet him.

I then continued on to my apartment and took a nap.

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On the fourth floor of the building in the photo is my apartment. It’s not much but I call it home. Under the small tree every evening one or two families, with infants in hammocks, roll out reed mats and have dinner together. I makes me very happy to see them.

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After breakfast at Foodland, on my way to the health club, I usually walk through a very dark alleyway I refer to as “The Tunnel.” It is about four feet wide with shops on each side and extends and entire block. Since my last visit here, several of the massage parlors, pachinko shops and the like have been converted to tiny bars. These bars are open and lively at 8 AM. Light in the alley is provided by the opening at each end, some dim fluorescence here and there and a few colored lights on the beer advertisements in the bars. As I walk through, I can barely make out the outline’s of women’s shapes and their teeth when they smile. The men, mostly westerners, eye me warily as though I may be a threat or something.

Oh, and of course there are the bodies – usually one or two – not dead I think, but sleeping or sleeping it off. They allow me to indulge in my Augustinian arrogance. You know, “There but for…”, well not Grace or God certainly. How about, “there but for the invisible hand and the vagaries of fortune go I.” That great invisible hand and luck could just as well exalt me to physical comfort and existential anguish, or drop me unconscious in the gutter. All praise the hand of the Lord.

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Most people walking past The Tunnel would think it dangerous, I imagine. But I have been walking through here for years now and the only things that have happened to me have been, now or then receiving a slap on the back by a guy inviting me for a drink or a woman emerging from the darkness, pressing her body against mine and saying “Welcome mister” or, “Hello Pa Pa.”

With a smile I politely turn them down — not because I have an ethical or moral objection to what they are offering but because underneath it all, I’m a snob.

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This is the entrance to Foodland. Inside is a supermarket, pharmacy and bank. Also, it contains a small counter service café where I eat my breakfast most days. For the price, I consider it one of BKK’s best restaurants.

As long as I am doing show and tell on my regular eating establishments, the following photo shows the sidewalk café where I often eat lunch.
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And this is where I eat dinner a lot. The waitress is a ladyboy with the body of a NFL linebacker who entwines orchids in her thick black hair and wears rhinestone encrusted platform high-heels.
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During my walks I often encounter the feral urban fauna of the City. Pigeons of course, but rarely on the street, too dangerous. I can, however, hear them cooing in the trees. Those little brown birds found in most cities flock around, wrens, starlings or something. Yeates would know. The ones in BKK look a bit greasy. The house next door to my apt has several large aviaries by the road containing Parrots that make a racket at certain times of the day.
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The mangy soi dogs don’t approach you as dogs usually do looking for a handout or a sniff of your crotch, but silently slink away if you pass too close to them. Cats, mean looking creatures, peek out at you from dark places or sun themselves on tiny unreachable ledges. Then, of course, there are the rats that scurry beneath your feet from crevice to hole as you walk by. Despite their meekness, I suspect the rats are the most sociable of the lot. They are certainly the most numerous.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

“One of the benefits of traveling to other societies is that we are free to apply our prejudices when we observe their culture.”
Trenz Pruca

1. Food exports

Today the Bangkok Post reported that Thailand has become the world’s greatest exporter of insects for food with most of it going to the US. Thailand has over 20,000 “insect” farms.

Among the many questions I have is, who is buying this food? I have not seen packages of Genuine Imported Thai Insects on the shelves of Safeway or Raley’s — Whole Foods perhaps?

Another question is why do we have to import insects? Don’t we have enough of our own? Do Thai insects taste better than American ones?

2. Tourist murder solved?

A few weeks ago two tourists were killed in Thailand. There were no suspects. About two days ago the Thai tourist industry announced that violence against tourist hurts the industry. Yesterday the Thai police continued their remarkable success in solving all high-profile crimes by announcing they apprehended the murderers of the two tourists – two Burmese immigrant teenagers who confessed to the crime.

And yes, not even the Thais believe it.

3. Hell, a Family Resort.

The newspapers today also reported that the City Fathers of Pattaya (sometimes referred to as “The Outskirts of Hell”) announced their intention to turn the City into a “family resort” notwithstanding its reputation for sex of all varieties, crime and corruption. Pattaya is owned by the Thai counterparts to the same type of organization that created Sin City in the Nevada desert and now also wants to convert it to a Family Resort. Pattaya which experiences the mostly unreported death of a westerner or tourist almost every week is mobbed up from the soles of the jack-boots of the lowest policeman to the toupee adorning the mayor’s head.

Of course I exaggerate, Pattaya cops do not wear jack-boots and I haven’t the slightest idea if the mayor even owns a toupee.

4. Eye of the beholder.

The military has set up a committee to draft a new Constitution for Thailand, a central element of which would attempt to eliminate corruption. By law the members of the committee have to disclose their wealth. To probably no ones surprise, among the wealthiest and by far the largest in number of millionaires on the committee are the generals appointed to sit on it. How you might ask does a public employee, which generals are, become millionaires while on the job?

Since, they are not required to disclose the sources of their income, one can be reasonably sure that whatever the regulations to control official corruption may be, they will not apply to the military. I am sure the generals believe that the sources of their wealth are natural, the result or operation of a gracious and beneficent invisible hand, and therefore necessary for a healthy national economy.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In most periods of human history, exploitation of natural resources to satisfy human needs could be achieved with less expenditure of energy and with less danger, even in less desirable territories. In other words, war has never been a rational solution for obtaining resources to satisfy man’s material needs. …
…But of course, men have never been rational. They are fully capable of believing anything and of adopting any kind of social organization or social goals, so that warfare became at least a minor part of life in most societies.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Me standing before the entrance to the site of the Temple of Diana in Nemi, Italy (1997). I had spent almost 30 years, on and off, searching for it and found it on this trip when Ruth pointed it out the first time we passed by. Of course, as usual in Italy, the site was closed that day and no explanation given.

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Papa Joe 0003 (September 23, 2014)

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.
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE POLICY:

The Sacramento Bee reported today that the Federal Administration just released its policies for combating Antibiotic Resistance. For many months my daughter, Dr. Jessica Petrillo, was actively involved on behalf of the State Department in developing the international portion of the national strategy and contributed to the framing of the Executive Order implementing that strategy. For her efforts she received The State Department’s Superior Honor Award.

In addition to her work on the current policies designed to protect us all from the threat of antibiotic resistant pathogens, for the past few years she also has contributed significantly to the development of actions and strategies to defend this Nation and the world from intentional biologic attack.

We all too often forget that it is not only those armed with a gun that safeguard our nation. Intelligence, commitment and dedication to the public good instead of simple pursuit of economic advantage are as important, if not more important, to our security.

Congratulations Jessica, I am very proud of you.

B. HOPI CEREMONIAL DANCERS CIRCA 1900:

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C. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ELDORADO HILLS:

There was a strange phenomenon in the skies over The Golden Hills this morning. A huge forest fire of about 100,000 acres is burning a few miles further up towards the mountains. The smoke turned the Eastern skies a yellowish-grey. Through this pall the rising sun appears a deep iridescent red. I could look directly at it for ten or twenty seconds. It all looked like a view from another world out of a science fiction movie.
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I have just learned that Peter and Barry Grenell became Grandparents a few months ago. The baby’s name is Anuhea which means fragrant breeze in Hawaiian. Congratulations to everyone involved.
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The forest fire nearby is under control. We can now breathe air again free of smoke and ash.
I have packed a tiny suitcase for my trip to Thailand and Sicily. It is still too large for carry on for the airline (Ryan Air) I have chosen to fly from Rome to Palermo. Checking in the small bag will double my flight costs.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

QUIGLEY ON TOP

Security, Power and Political Instability

Introduction

In his unpublished magnum opus Weapons Systems and Political Stability Carroll Quigley attempts to provide a cohesive analytical structure to the morass of confusion regarding concepts of security and power. He goes on at length to demonstrate how the ideas he enunciates repeat in History and how the application of those concepts can explain most historical conflicts. I will not try to summarize his historical examples here but only attempt to lay out the operative concepts he identifies. The first thing I must point out is that he is not particularly discussing security from such things and famine or disease and the like, although he makes it clear that the lack of such security is more often than not a product of the exercise of power or the lack thereof. He is, however, examining the meaning of security in a clash of power among groups the effect of which could and often does produce tragic consequences to individuals often including death.

He begins by pointing out that security and power are different notions and that security has not always been a product of a state.

“Men have experienced security and insecurity throughout all human history. In all that long period, security has been associated with power relationships and is today associated with the state only because this is the dominant form which power relationships happen to take in recent times. But even today, power relationships exist quite outside of the sphere of the state, and, as we go farther into the past, such non-state (and ultimately, non-public) power relationships become more dominant in human life.”

Definition of Security

Security Quigley defines as:

“…the settlement of disputes involving clashes of wills within the group and the defense of the group against outside threats—are the essential parts of the provision of security through group life. They form the opposite sides of all political life and provide the most fundamental areas in which power operates in any group or community. Both are concerned with clashes of wills, the one with such clashes between individuals or lesser groups within the community and the other with clashes between the wills of different communities regarded as entities. Thus clashes of wills are the chief problems of political life, and the methods by which these clashes are resolved depend on power, which is the very substance of political action.”

The nature of power

He then goes on to ask and discuss, what is the nature of power and what is the relationship between power and security.

“Power,” he maintains, “is simply the ability to obtain the acquiescence of another person’s will.”

That is to obtain full cooperation, obedience to specific orders, or simple acquiescence.

The Basis of Power

These power relationships can be obtained by the exercise of one or more of what can be described as the triple basis of power in our culture: force, wealth or persuasion.

He states:

“The first of these is the most fundamental (and becoming more so) in our society, and will be discussed at length later. The second is quite obvious, since it involves no more than the purchase or bribery of another’s acquiescence, but the third is usually misunderstood in our day.

The economic factor enters into the power nexus when a person’s will yields to some kind of economic consideration, even if this is merely one of reciprocity. When primitive tribes tacitly hunt in restricted areas which do not overlap, there is a power relationship on the lowest level of economic reciprocity.

“The ideological factor in power relationships, which I have called persuasion, operates through a process which is frequently misunderstood. It does not consist of an effort to get someone else to adopt our point of view or to believe something they had not previously believed, but rather consists of showing them that their existing beliefs require that they should do what we want.”

Finally he explains regarding the above three bases of power:

“Of course, in any power situation the most obvious element to people of our culture is force. This refers to the simple fact of physical compulsion, but it is made more complicated by the two facts that man has, throughout history, modified and increased his physical ability to compel, both by the use of tools (weapons) and by organization of numerous men to increase their physical impact. It is also confused, for many people, by the fact that such physical compulsion is usually aimed at a subjective target: the will of another person. This last point, like the role of morale already mentioned, shows again the basic unity of power and of power relationships, in spite of the fact that writers like myself may, for convenience of exposition, divide it into elements, like this division into force, wealth, and persuasion.”

Psychological nature of power relations

In addition, he argues there exists a psychological nature in power relations. He proposes two analytical rules:

“1. Conflict arises when there is no longer a consensus regarding the real power situation, and the two parties, by acting on different subjective pictures of the objective situation, come into collision.
2. The purpose of such a conflict, arising from different pictures of the facts, is to demonstrate to both parties what the real power relationship is in order to reestablish a consensus on it.”

Influence of time in power relationships

A third influence on a power relationship is the changes that time may make to the above psychological rules and thereby the nature of a particular conflict.

Also, distance or space affect power relationships. If you cannot reach someone or some nation to apply the elements of power than a power relationship does not exist and usually cannot exist. In the modern world of course, although this criteria has diminished in significance, it most certainly has not been extinguished.

Relationships in the exercise of power

And finally “most power relationships are multilateral and not dual.” “Such multilateral systems,” he argues, “explain the continued existence of smaller states whose existence could never be explained in any dual system in which they would seem to be included entirely in the power area of an adjacent great power.”

Summary

In the political arena with its enormous complexities, attempts to use power no matter how applied often cause political instability. Nevertheless Quigley writes:

“In all such crises of political instability, we can see the operations of the factors I have enumerated. These are:
(1) the dichotomy between the objective facts and subjective ideas of power situations;
(2) the nature of objective power as a synthesis of force, wealth, and ideology in our cultural tradition; and,
(3) the complication of these operations as a consequence of changes resulting from time, from distance, and from a multiplicity of power centers.”

Examples of the relationship between power and security although described in the historical record laid out in the book will have to remain for another time.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“This same characteristic feature of our society, that we cannot use what we already have for the satisfaction of our needs unless we devote increasing increments of time and resources to different future desires, now pervades all aspects of our society. Everywhere our activities now have built-in feedback loops which require investment in future technical innovations creating new activities or there will be sudden collapse of our existing activities.”
Carroll Quigley. review of Ferkiss “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis, 1974”

TODAY’S CHART:
drugs
I have no idea what the scale on top refers to. Anyway, it applies to drug use in the UK so who cares. What ever abuse they indulge in, I am sure we can do better in the USA.

Note: those interested in back issues of This and that…. they can be found at: josephpetrillo.wordpress.com

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 35 Pops 0003 (September 18, 2014)

“…[N]ilism is a male disease of the soul, because we are not bearers of life. Men do not carry hope the way women do.”
Michael Collins

Happy Birthday Uncle Mask and Ann

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. SPANISH MOSS
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The air has been so dry here at the edge of the Great Valley that Dick, HRM and I all came down with nosebleeds today. Either that or a great plague is sweeping into California. (For those who read The Earth Abides, the survivor lived in a cabin or was camping somewhere in these same foothills – if I remember correctly – when the plague wiping out most of humanity hit.)
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With reading Kautilya, the huge Quigley books and editing his “Weapons Systems and Political Stability,” as well as rewriting and finishing “Red Star,” I sometimes feel like I am back working in an office. I guess work is what we do when we’re too old to play and too young to wish that was what we were doing instead. Actually, what I am doing is really a hobby, there’s no money in it. A hobby is something we do instead of going to the movies or watching television when we have no work or are bored.
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Samuel Beckett’s writings explored the depths of solipsism. That is, talking to yourself to know you’re alive. So what is it all about? Well Alfie, it is not about the Grey Gay Dane’s quandary. It’s about Stayin’ Alive. Even if you can no longer dance, as long as you keep hearing the music you are still living.
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I talk to myself in my mind all the time. I guess we all do. I suspect some people have debates with themselves. I never debate. I only make speeches. I picture myself speaking to a small grey homunculus with large glistening eyes sitting silently in a huge chair in front of me as I go on and on. Me talking and it listening. It frightens me. I believe one day it will jump out of that chair, kick me in the balls and tell me to shut up.
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I’m not sure I really want to return here to The Golden Hills after my trip. It’s not that I am uncomfortable here. I am very comfortable. It’s just that I feel like a stranger visiting some place where I do not understand the language. Of course, I feel like a stranger everywhere but in some places, such as cities like BKK and New York, I feel many others are also and that gives me some consolation. It’s like we all know at least one thing about each other – that we come from somewhere else – and that gives us a sense of community – a community of the dispossessed.
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Summer wanes on the golden foothills at the edge of the great valley. The trees have not yet put on their fall colors but a good number nevertheless seemed to have given up. Their shriveled brown leaves drop unceremoniously to the ground to await the leaf-blowers.

I usually like the Autumn. It’s like the year, having put in its time, has gone into retirement. I will miss it this year. There is no Autumn in Thailand, just the ending or the Monsoons and the coming of the months when mid-day strolls in the sun are no longer life-threatening.
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My favorite waitress at Bella Bru Cafe where I have breakfast each morning has had a tough year. Somehow she broke her jaw and when it did not set right they had to break it again and reset it. Shortly after that she experienced severe pain in her arm that required another operation and the arm remaining in a cast for six months or more. Still, she remembers my regular order and has it ready when I walk into the place in the morning.

I do not know her name. Strangely, I know all about her medical history but find it too personal to ask her her name. I think she should be called Kate for some reason.

She probably makes minimum wage which is about one-half of what I get on Social Security. I wonder how she lives on that? I at least get free room and board while I am here. Still, when I was making about a million dollars a year, I spent more than I made and always felt I was living at the edge. Now I feel I am living better than I ever did then. Go figure.
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My daughter in law Ann Marie’s good friend Brooke has died in her sleep. I feel sorry for both of them.

Bill Yeates mother and father dies a short time ago. Bill and his wife Carol have travelled to Wyoming, a place his parents liked best, to bury them. I wish Bill and Carol well.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Kautilya, Arthashastra:

ANVIKSHAKI, the triple Védas (Trayi), Várta (agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade), and Danda-Niti (science of government) are what are called the four sciences.

Anvikshaki comprises the Philosophy of Sankhya (Metaphysics), Yoga (Concentration), and Lokayata (Logic and debate).

Righteous and unrighteous acts (Dharmadharmau) are learnt from the triple Vedas; wealth and non-wealth from Varta; the expedient and the inexpedient (Nayanayau), as well as potency and impotency (Balabale) from the science of government.
Kautilya, Arthashastra

In the West, Pythagorus and Plato developed a somewhat comparable system of education, Trivium (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric) and Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy) that was generally adopted during Medieval period. Kautilya’s system appears more practical, as it includes applied economics and politics. (Applied economics – get rich. Applied politics – kill your enemy.)

B. Book World from Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next or the one thereafter:

The ongoing story of Thursday inviting three characters into her home.

‘I opened the door to find three Dostoyevskivites staring at me from within a dense cloud of moral relativism.’

‘Allow me to introduce Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov.’
‘Actually,’ said the second man leaning over to shake my hand. ‘I’m Dmitri Razumikhin, Raskolnikov’s loyal friend.’
‘You are?’ said Raskolnikov in surprise. ‘Then what happened to Svidrigailov?’
‘He is busy chatting up your sister.’
‘My sister? That’s Pulkheria Alenandronova Raskolnikov, right?’
‘No,’ said Razumikhin in the tone of a long-suffering friend, ‘that’s your mother. Andotya Romanova Raskolnikova is your sister’
‘I always get those two mixed up. So who is Marfa Petronova Svirigailova?’
Razumikhin frowned and thought for a moment.
‘You’ve got me there.’
“‘It’s very simple,’ said the third Russian, indicating who did what on her fingers, ‘Nastasya Petronova is Raskolnikov’s landlady’s servant, Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova is your sister who threatens to marry down, Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova is the one who becomes a prostitute, and Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailova – the one you were first talking about — is Arkady Svidrigailov’s murdered first wife.’
‘I knew that’ said Raskolnikov in the manner of someone who didn’t, ‘so… who are you again?’
‘I’m Alyona Ivanovna,’ said the third Russian with a trace of annoyance, ‘the rapacious old pawnbroker whose apparent greed and wealth lead you to murder.’
‘Are you sure you’re Ivanovna?’ asked Raskolnikov in a worried tone.
‘Absolutely.’
‘And you’re still alive?’
‘So it seems.’
He stared at the bloody axe.
‘Then who did I just kill?’

‘Listen’ I said ‘I’m sure everything will come out fine in the epilogue. But for the moment, your home is my home.”’

(This drove my spell check crazy)

DAILY FACTOID:

1940:When some British Members of Parliament, led by Amery, put pressure on the government to drop bombs on German munition stores in the Black Forest, the air minister, Sir H. Kingsley Wood, rejected the suggestion with asperity, declaring: ‘Are you aware it is private property? Why, you will be asking me to bomb Essen next!’ Essen was the home of the Krupp munitions factories.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

(Did you know that one of the biggest disputes during WWII among advocates of strategic bombing was whether it was preferable to bomb industrial plants or worker housing?)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Are you an assassin? 

I am a soldier.

You’re an errand boy sent by grocery clerks to collect the bill.”
Conversation between Marlon Brando as Captain Kurtz and Martin Sheen as the soldier in Apocalypse Now.

(If the day ever comes when the common soldier realizes this, that will be the day they turn their guns on the grocery clerks.)

TODAY’S CHART:

wealth
I am not sure this chart means anything.

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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