Posts Tagged With: Mystery fiction

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.
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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.
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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.
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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

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Mopey 0004 (January 26, 2015)

 

Happy Birthday Ruth

“Never get out of the boat.”
Apocalypse Now

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ELDORADO HILLS:

The weather in the Golden Hills has been delightful for the last few days — the temperatures brisk but pleasant, the skies blue and the clouds vague and wispy at their edges. This morning, although the skies were mostly clear by the house, at the health club a mile or so away, fog and mist covered the pool in a ghostly gray.
IMG_20150115_172222_324_2
Evening Sky Over a Golden Hills Athletic Field

While sitting in the health club jacuzzi, I noticed a woman happily moving in an odd way in front of one of the water nozzles. I surreptitiously tried the same moves and was shocked. While the move probably was not as agreeable for a man as for a woman, it did make me realize that there is more going on behind the locked gates of the golden hills, than manicured lawns suggest.
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Today I visited the first of the two medical specialists to whom I had been referred, the neurologist. The only thing that was confirmed was my hypochondria…
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My daughter gifted me a trip to visit her in Washington DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival in early April. I have been trying to decide on what side trips to make while I am there. She gave me some books for Christmas showing some of the sights and Civil War sites in and around DC. Dick suggested I visit the FBI museum which sounds like a good idea. I also would like to visit Baltimore to see what had changed since I last visited there as a consultant over 20 years ago.
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I read a book today that was described as Science Fiction and Adventure. Although it took place on another world, I had gotten almost all the way through it before to my horror it dawned on me that it was, in fact, a Romance Novel complete with bare-chested men with huge bulging muscles and women falling into pools, or lakes or caught in the rain so that their drenched clothing would cling to their bodies revealing what lay beneath, especially their blushing breasts and stiffening nipples. I waded through page after page of these same shirtless men with biceps like cantaloupes and well-soaked women with heaving breasts like ripe melons in unrelieved sexual arousal as though they had never learned about masturbation or how to make fruit salad. Alas, I enjoyed the book. I am thoroughly embarrassed and have promised myself never to do it again.

B. BOOK REPORT:

As readers of T&T know, I have a weak spot for Swords and Sorcery and Fantasy genre in fiction. I also acknowledge that on any ranking of literary genres it falls somewhere near the bottom. Be that as it may, I still while away many pleasant hours with Mages and Druids, Knights and Damsels and all the other creatures that usually inhabit these novels. Recently I completed reading the four books in the Trysmoon series by Brian K. Fuller. Unlike most series of this type, the four books really make up a single long novel — no single book stands alone. Like most of these novels the transcendental hero or heroine saves the world/king /nation, etc., by magic, sword or pluck. What makes this work different, at least to me, is that the three main characters seem more interesting than most.

The hero, a man without soul created out of mud by the evil one in order to destroy the world, saves it instead, with the help of many others including two women, a mother and daughter, who are the most beautiful and powerful women in the land. He sleeps with both of them and marries each in turn, saves the world, destroys the evil one and thereafter settles down with the mother in a tiny cottage in a god-forsaken village where they make a nuisance of themselves by, among other things, attending house parties that they were not invited to and copulating with each other wherever and whenever they had a mind to do so, which was often.

Pookie says check it out…

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

Looking at a relief map of the Near-east (It is the Near-east not the Middle-east) one notices that on the North lies the highlands of Anatolia in Turkey, a non-Arab strongly governed Muslim State. On the East rises the highlands of Persia, modern day Iran, a strong state with a significant non-Arab population. To the South sits the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula littoral along which exist several strong and wealthy states and two poorer troubled states, Yemen and to some extent Oman (more on this below). At the South-eastern corner lies the deserts of the Negev (Israel) and Sinai (Egypt) backed by the populous Nile River Valley and the immense and hostile Sahara Desert. This area is controlled by Egypt a traditionally stable (at least in area) state with a huge non-Muslim population. The Mediterranean and its littoral states (Israel and Lebanon) containing significant non-Muslim (Lebanon) and non-Arab (Israel with its Ashkenazi Eastern-European culture) populations. In Israel’s case, it is a currently strong state.

In the center lies the rapidly desertifying central Fertile Crescent area (Primarily Syria and Iraq). This area is overwhelmingly Muslim Arab. By 650AD or so it became the center of Arab-Muslim culture governed by Arab warlords extracting tribute from mostly non-Muslim populations and in turn paying an ever decreasing amount of tribute to whichever Caliph held nominal authority over the area. This continued until about 1000AD when governance over the whole of the near east effectively passed from the hands of the Arabs to non-Arab Muslims who created relatively strong and stable states. This remained the situation until the West (Britain and France primarily) returned the non-mountainous areas back mostly to the Arabs who immediately created warlord States until the petroleum reserves passed into the hands of at least some of the states around the Arabian Peninsular Littoral, leaving Iraq and Syria in the hands of Arab warlords representing a minority religious community in each nation. This was done intentionally because the Imperial nations recognized the Arab tendency toward internecine warfare among its family groups and their traditional inability to create (or have any interest in creating) an integrated state. They believed a ruling military based minority would assure stability out of fear of possible majority power.

There is a reason why the Arabs traditionally have had difficulty creating a stable State and it has little to do with character or things like that, other than the usual difficulty of nomadic people to transition into governing the areas they conquer. The reason lies in part with Mohammed himself and the politics of his time. (to be continued)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wants to avoid the following:

“One additional element in this situation, which links the ruling minority and the alienated masses together, was the steady increase in the inequality in distribution of incomes, something which was supported, defended, and intensified by the power structure. This surplus in incomes at the top, used for non-productive purposes, kept the demand for luxury goods high for centuries after the curve of production in necessities had turned downward. The crisis in the production of necessities came in the third century, but the production of, or at least the demand for, luxuries was still as high as ever in AD 600. Moreover, during that period of almost four centuries, the growing corruption and violence excluded honest and hardworking people from access to the ruling system or even from the state, including access to justice or to public office. Both of these were increasingly expensive to a degree that honest, hardworking men could not pay. Both justice and public office required higher and higher costs of access (bribery or sale, if you will) from the fact that these two, plus access to the higher levels of the military system, became access to the affluence of the ruling minority and escape from the grinding poverty of the ruled majority.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability. (1975)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Do not withdraw from the unreality of perception, revel in it instead.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20140426_174146_961.jpg

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Cold Tits 0002 (March 6, 2013)

“Destiny never gets there before you.
Pookie…

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

1. A conversation:

H. “Am I special?”
P. “To me you’re special.”
H. “I know I am special to Pookie, but what about everyone else?”
P. “Everyone is special in his or her own way.”
H. “Yes, but am I special to Nikki, Mommy and Uncle Mask?”
P. “Well, I am sure you are.”
H. “Does that mean they will get me an x-box for my birthday?”

2. An Update:

Spring slowly floods into the foothills.

Nikki and SWAC arrived to celebrate H’s eighth birthday with Uncle Mask and I. Tsunami-like, their arrival shattered whatever daily routine we had established. Most victims of disasters hope things can be restored to the way it was once the crises is over. I suspect that is just wistful thinking. Nothing goes back to what it was.

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Brigid O’shaughnessey: “I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.”

Chapter 6:

She looked back at me with a look of intense concentration that’s supposed to indicate truth follows.

“On the way over here I tried to think if there is anything more I have not told you when we met earlier today. I couldn’t think of anything except his, Mark’s, nervousness about the deal with Riley. Said it was big, really big. I don’t know much about that kind of stuff. I am just a small business owner and a part-time painter. He promised me a share.”

She went on, repeating most of the same stuff she told me earlier in the day except the paragraphs got longer and her eagerness to convince me of the truth of what she was telling me more apparent.

As she droned on, I began to feel sleepy. Whenever I felt a twinge of pain I thought about rolling a joint or asking her if she could score had some morphine . Didn’t. Took some more Tylenol instead.

Some people, especially those who read a lot of mystery novels, think that certain cops or detectives are pretty good at knowing when someone is lying. That’s bullshit. Nobody can tell when someone is lying to them, though a lot of people are convinced they can. Every peer-reviewed scientific study on whether someone can detect whether someone else is lying concludes that they cannot, even if like some cops or psychologists they are trained to detect lying. Except Secret Service officers. They seem to be able to do it. No-one knows why. I’m not a Secret Service officer or even a particularly good detective, so the best I could hope for is for her to say something contradicting something else she said. Even then, only very stupid people would say something inconsistent and not be able to explain it away when challenged. And as flakey as she may be, I don’t think Mavis is stupid. Sometimes one can catch a conflict between what someone says and something one knows or finds out later. But, that requires either a prodigious memory which I do not have or taking notes which I was not interested in doing since I was getting more and more drowsy and I still was not sure if by tomorrow I wasn’t going to chuck it all anyway and go away for a few days until everything blows over.

I asked if she ever ran into either of the Ton’s of Fun. She recalled that one night Mark, Lilly, and her rode to the SF ballet together in a limo driven by a tough looking big guy wearing a large silver ring with a square flat black stone embedded in the top. Said, Lilly told her one of her clients loaned her the limo. Mavis did not know the client’s name.

They had box-seat tickets for a performance of Copeland’s Rodeo choreographed by Simuin (even Copeland himself hated it). I asked if after the show they donned spurs and chaps back at her apartment. Again the bitch stare.

For about an hour or so we continued this chit-chat during which she finished gauzing and taping my jaw. While she was working on me, I slipped my hands around her hips and lightly grabbed her ass. She smiled a brief crooked smile and kept jabbering away. She responded to the pressure by leaning her hips closer until my nose almost touched her nipples. Felt my pants tighten considerably. I knew I was going to have to make a move before we both expired of exhaustion from beating around the bush. Instead I said, “look I am tired and sleepy. Let’s talk more tomorrow.”

She asked if I wanted her to make some dinner. Said, “no, too tired.”

She shrugged her shoulders put on her jacket and grabbed her helmet.

We walked towards the door. She said, “are you sure there’s nothing more I can do?” Answered, “no.”

Stopped, thought again, said, “Well, there is one thing. You can give me a blow job before you leave.”

The bitch stare, pupils shrinking to pin-pricks then disappearing all together.

I prepared my self for the slap hoping she would hit the side of my face away from the bandage.

Surprised. The bitch stare morphed into a broad evil smile like a time-lapse photo of a flower blossoming out of a bud. She dropped to her knees and I could feel her fiddling with my belt and zipper.

Thought, “It’s good to be a detective,” before giving it all up to the glorious oblivion of neuromuscular euphoria.

 
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Periodic Ruminations:

Several times in “This and that…” I have mentioned the 10,000 year subjugation of women by men. I have suggested that given the current precarious state of the world perhaps men, now that they thoroughly have screwed everything up, should tiptoe away and leave it all to woman to put back together. After all, we men already whenever screw something things up in our lives generally leave it to some women to clean up after. Of course, in that case, I suspect women often become quite pissed off.

As long as I am on the subject of pissed off women, what about this thing we call the woman’s “period?” The “Period” or similar euphemisms is that time of the month when many woman bleed profusely and feel in a lot of pain. If, as it have been described to me by a few woman whose experience is probably extreme, I try to put it terms a man might understand – it is like having your dick cut off in battle with a rusty sword. I suspect that if a man had to look forward to that once a month for most of his life, he’d be pretty out of sorts as well.

It is during this time that we men (and not a few women) believe that the woman is at a minimum irritable and at worse insane. As a result we try to tiptoe around this not quite human creäture. Or, in some ancient (and perhaps modern) cultures we tie her to a stake in something like a yurt in the woods until she comes to her senses. Or, as in my case and I am sure many other men, it allows us to dismiss anything a woman does we disagree with as an effect of her condition.

Suppose, that instead of being a period of incipient madness, that in the midst of the pain and discomfort what really happens is that a hormone is released allowing her to finally see clearly what God and man have done to her. That is what really makes her irritable and pissed off. Fortunately for us guys after the week or so of that clarity, the effect of the hormone diminishes and her mind once again becomes clouded. We then are free to continue on with our 10 millennial fraud.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

2-13-13pov-test-f8
The Budget Act of 1974 defines tax expenditures as revenue losses attributable to provisions in federal tax law that provide special benefits to particular taxpayers or groups of taxpayers. Deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits and preferential tax rates on certain forms of income all are tax expenditures.

Note: The chart contains an anomaly that may be confusing. The top 20% receives 66% of the total tax expenditures. The top 1% receives about 40% of the top 20% tax expenditures and 24% of all Tax expenditures.

What this chart means is that the top 20% of income households receive 66% of government “welfare” payments in the form of tax expenditures not generally available to the remaining 80%. Those who “cheat” on their tax returns are “welfare cheats” in the same way as those who cheat on their food stamp allocations [except the former has a far greater impact on what the rest of us pay for than the latter]. Both take for their own use tax money we pay in to general government. Much tax expenditure goes to those who do not need it. Many lobbyists are paid a lot of money to secure increased tax expenditures for their already wealthy clients [or to prevent them from being reduced]. Very few, not so well paid lobbyists, are employed to secure increased food stamp allocations.

B. Low Effort Thinking:

The Huffington Post reported in February, a study published in the journal “Psychological Science” showed that children who score low on intelligence tests gravitate toward socially conservative political views in adulthood–perhaps because conservative ideologies stress “structure and order” that make it easier to understand a complicated world. Now there’s the new study linking conservative ideologies to “low-effort” thinking. “People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response,” the study’s lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Dr. Scott Eidelman, said in a written statement released by the university. Does the finding suggest that conservatives are lazy thinkers? “Not quite,” Dr. Eidelman told The Huffington Post in an email. “Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking.”

For the study, a team of psychologists led by Dr. Eidelman asked people about their political viewpoints in a bar and in a laboratory setting. Bar patrons were asked about social issues before blowing into a Breathalyzer. As it turned out, the political viewpoints of patrons with high blood alcohol levels were more likely to be conservative than were those of patrons whose blood alcohol levels were low. But it wasn’t just the alcohol talking, according to the statement. When the researchers conducted similar interviews in the lab, they found that people who were asked to evaluate political ideas quickly or while distracted were more likely to express conservative viewpoints. “Keeping people from thinking too much…or just asking them to deliberate or consider information in a cursory manner can impact people’s political attitudes, and in a way that consistently promotes political conservatism,” Dr. Eidelman said in the email.

The study was published online in the journal “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.”

The above appeared in:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/07/conservative-politics-low-effort-thinking_n_1410448.html. I have slightly changed the wording in an effort to make it more readable.

C. Finland Schools:

Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.

They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.

The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.

There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.

All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.

Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.

30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.

66 percent of students go to college.

The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World

Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.

93 percent of Finns graduate from high school.

43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.

Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.

Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development”.

Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students.

The school system is 100% state funded.

All teachers in Finland must have a master’s degree, which is fully subsidized.

The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.

Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.

In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots

The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008

However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make.

There is no merit pay for teachers

Teachers are given the same status as doctors and lawyers

In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics.

And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic

Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.

 
TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Republicans claim to be pro market, but they are in fact pro business.”
Robert Waldman

“The sequester, many people don’t know what it is, but it sounds stupid and cruel, so they think it’s a Republican thing.”
James Carville.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

happiestsaddest

Californians appear to be a happy lot. The closer one gets to Louisiana the more miserable one becomes it seems.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. May 21, 2011

Since the world as we know it is set to end tomorrow and those of us chosen to enjoy the rapture for the next few months will be otherwise busy rapturing, I thought I would use this post to thank everyone and wish you all have a good rapture, since I have learned from my reading and analysis of Scripture that all those on my mailing list will be chosen.
TODAY’S FACTOID:

14th and 15th Centuries: According to some reports, the clergy made up about twenty percent of the clientele of private brothels and bath-houses in Dijon, France during the Fourteenth Century, and it seems the situation was similar all throughout Europe. Sixtus IV (1471–1484) was the first Pope to impose a license on brothels.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) CALIFORNIA:

Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

THE PARABLE OF THE LION AND THE GAZELLE

Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a vast savannah on which only lions, gazelles lived amongst endless grass undulating in the soft breezes that blew across the prairie. The gazelles ate the grass and the lions ate the gazelles when they could catch them.

Lion - Washington DC National Zoo

Lion – Washington DC National Zoo (Photo credit: Glyn Lowe Photoworks)

Although the lions were endowed by nature with fierce teeth, claws and strength, they were only able to catch the weak, aged, unwary or unlucky gazelles because nature, in order to maintain a balance on the savannah between predator and prey, made young healthy gazelles able to run faster than the lions and escape to eat the grasses that grew on the savannah and breed. And so, they all, lions, gazelles and grasses, thrived.

One day there was born into the pride, the biggest, the meanest, the fastest and the toughest lion of them all. One who was able to catch, kill and eat any gazelle that lived on the plain, which of course eventually he did. And the Great Lion as he was called and all the members of the pride prospered until that day the Great Lion had caught and killed all the gazelles and there was nothing left to eat.

So the Great Lion began to kill and eat all the other lions until they were all gone but one. As he was about to be dispatched by the Great Lion for the Great Lion’s last meal this next to last lion asked the Great Lion, “Why? You could have just eaten what you needed and we all could have prospered forever. Why didn’t you?” And the Great Lion looked at him with a smile and said, ” My job was only to kill and to eat. I was just following my nature. It was your job to make sure I did not run wild and destroy our grassy paradise.”

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Vince waited until the door closed behind the departing David Kitchen then turned to the visibly uncomfortable Foster Grenell and asked, “Well, what do you know about all that?”

Foster exhaled, clearly not wanting to involve himself in the disputes of his employers. “Not much, I know about the Red Star investigation of course. Uh..the Brotherhood thing began about three or four years ago.”

“While I was still here?”

“Yes, I think so, you were on the Executive Committee. It was all hush-hush. They would hold their…uh… prayer meetings at a mansion in lower Pacific Heights. A lot of important business men would come there now and then, politicians, state and federal too; not too many from San Francisco though. They would hold prayer breakfasts and then break up into smaller ‘prayer groups’.”

“How do you know about this?”

“Sam brought me there once or twice. He wanted to sponsor me. Said it would be good for my career.”

“So did you join?”

“No, it’s a Christian thing, I’m Buddhist. Besides, if you ask me it seemed a bit creepy.”

How so?”

“Well, you know, a bunch of powerful and successful men, there were no women, meeting to pray in secret. Why couldn’t they just go to church on Sunday like everyone else?”

“Anything more

“No, not really.”

“OK, why don’t you set up the meetings for you and me with the clients on the list we drew up. Lets see if we can get some additional work out of them, or at least keep them from leaving.”

After Foster had left Vince___(to be continued after the rapture)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Poe’s law (religious fundamentalism)“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“You must be a Republican if you believe that public schools are an unnecessary government expense but prisons are not.”

c. The Mac Attack:

Niccolo Machiavelli 1 u

Niccolo Machiavelli 1 u (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In every republic there are two parties, that of the nobles [‘rich’ — ed.] and that of the people [‘the rest of us’ — ed.]; and all the laws that are favorable to liberty result from the opposition of these parties to each other.”
Niccolo Machiavelli.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Rapid growth is not ours by divine right; it is not even mathematically possible over a sustained period. Our goal should be to get everyone out of abject poverty, even if it necessitates some income redistribution. Because we have way overstepped sustainable levels, the greatest challenge will be in redesigning lifestyles to emphasize quality of life while quantitatively reducing our demand levels. A lower population would help.”
Jeremy Grantham

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Capt. Coast 0001 (April 20, 2012)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The temperature in BKK over the past few days has hovered around the 100 degree mark. Even some of the Thais have begun complaining about it. I did not swim today, the water in the pool has gotten too hot, so I worked out in the air-conditioned gym. There was no one in the gym but me. Even the attendants were nowhere to be found. It was spooky. After a while I began to feel that I was a character in a movie; either a horror movie or some thriller where I find myself running for my life from a band of rogue secret service agents looking for the prostitute who ratted them out and who had taken refuge in the health club sauna. I freaked out, showered quickly and left the building only to find the streets emptier than usual. So I hurried home, turned on the AC and buried myself under the covers in the dark.

Before my exciting jaunt to the health club, I stopped at the barber shop that I like in the Arab section of the city along the route from my apartment to the health club. The barber shop charges $5 for a hair cut, $5 for a shave, $5 for a manicure, $5 for a pedicure, $5 to have the skin on your feet rubbed off and $5 to have your ears cleaned by having a bunch of sharpened metal chopsticks plunged down you ear canal and wiggled about.

The news in Thailand also seems effected by the heat. Princess Lucky Girl, the Prime Minister has left on a visit to Beijing China. It is cooler there. As for the government she left behind, little seems to be going on, as though they all are waiting for something. The only activity seems  the continuing acrimonious but desultory debate over proposals to grant amnesty to Thaksin the Terrible, deposed, fugitive, exiled ex Prime Minister and brother to Princess Lucky Girl the current Prime Minister. Thaksin the Terrible himself recently announced at a gathering of supporters held in Cambodia a few miles from the Thai border that he planned to return to Thailand for his birthday in three months or so. The debate on the matter has gone on so long that even the Thai pundit community and the opposition could barely bestir themselves to comment on it. One interesting note: during the legislative debate on the amnesty proposal, in the middle of a slide show to show something or other about the issue, a pornographic slide appeared. The speaker of the chamber promptly appointed a committee to investigate.

In good news, there has not been a bombing or a flood in a while, although there has been a flurry of earthquakes that rocked the tourist mecca of Phuket. Immediately following the earthquake swarm, the Phuket tourist bureau declared, that there will be no more earthquakes in Phuket and the tourists should feel comfortable to return.

Meanwhile Gary, who fled to Cambodia to escape Songkran, reports that the people in Cambodia seem to like aging western retirees more than the Thais do, as long as you do not tell them you are American.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY, MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES, THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Still awaiting either inspiration, perspiration or a desperate request.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. 8300 BC – 1700 – Today

Long-Run Growth: In 8300 BC there were roughly 5 million people in the world—with an average standard of living of about $500/year. In 1700 there were roughly 640 million people in the world—with an average standard of living also of about $500/year. Today there are about seven billion people in the world. Approximately 5 billion of those subsist on an annual income that averages about $500/year ($1-$3 per day). 2 billion people do better than that. In other words all the benefits of industrialization and technological progress of the last 300 years went into growing the total population ten-fold and increasing the wealth of a little less than 1/3 of that population. Or to put it another way, today there are 8 times as many people living at $500 a day than there were in 1700. On the other hand, there are many many more of us today living at more than $500 per day than there were in 1700. Hooray for us. That is progress.
2. 2012

Here is one thing we in the US have not fallen behind other nations. So I ask, why did the secret service have to travel all the way to Columbia? Buy American I say.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Where have you gone cowboy?

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

A part of a primer for social studies in our times.

And if your preference is history then how about:

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such abominable business.”
~ Albert Einstein

“Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.”
–Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince

“It used to be that crazy people were more-or-less evenly divided between the (northern) Republican Party and the (southern) Democratic Party. Now they are concentrated in the Republican Party. This matters–and is a source of great terror and dismay for the non-crazy Republicans, and for us all.”
Brad DeLong

TODAY’S CHART:

This is another of those charts that I am not sure I understand what they are getting at. It seems to imply that should we significantly cut the entitlement programs we would have a lot of old and disabled people begging on the streets or competing as best they can with existing low-income workers, driving everyone’s wages down so that younger management types have a better life. What’s wrong with that?

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

I do not know about you, but I find something unsettling about this photograph. Polar Bears are supposed to float about on pieces of ice in the middle of the ocean, not climb mountains.

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

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