Posts Tagged With: Mystery novel

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.
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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. 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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IMG_20141127_163530_566
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. 28 Pepe 0002 (November 14, 2013)

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Halloween came and went leaving behind a bag of assorted candies through which I rummage several times a day searching for a piece of chocolate that I then happily devour.

Halloween I spent at a remote subdivision in Cameron Park, a town a bit further into the foothills than El Dorado Hills. There I watched greedy little children and some adolescents rush from house to house begging for candy, oblivious to anything else. The residents of the subdivision took their Halloween seriously. They sat costumed in their driveways beside large bonfires and behind tables burdened with candies for the children and drinks for the adults. Huge automatons (e.g. a twelve-foot tall animated figure of the Headless Horseman) and sculptures, emerging from the fogs of mist making machines stood blinking and moving awkwardly on the lawns.

****************************

Fall has finally come to the foothills. The yellow-leaved trees have now come out among the red. The lawns and streets fill up with fallen brown leaves. As I walk along the breeze twists the leaves from the branches and they drift on to the lawns and streets like slow motion snow. Yellow, orange, red and brown the colors of Autumn. I guess I could describe the scientific process by which the leaves turn color or the metaphors it represents but I leave that to the reader. To me fall has never meant an ending but a fulfillment. Perhaps the drunken poet was wrong and we should go softly into that dark night. Nah, what would be the purpose of that? You might as well scream. It will be the last chance you get.

It is quite chilly on the mornings but in the afternoons it warms up enough for me to still sit on the porch in the sun and drift off to sleep.

*****************************

I spend my days now a bit like a part-time messenger, picking up or dropping off things for Dick or Hayden. I find it quite enjoyable. Traveling here and there, spending a few moments on whatever business I was directed to do and then traveling on. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, had a pretty good gig.

********************************

A few days ago I learned that, distressingly Triple H has slipped completely into the dark side. After conning me out of a few dollars on bets he could not lose, I overheard him on the telephone cadge some more money from SWAC in order to buy LEGO kits and SKYLANDER characters. Following his phone call he turned to me and said, “I am a money ninja. I do not give up until they agree just to be rid of me.” I thought it was time for some parental guidance on the subject, but I was so shocked I did not know what to say.

**********************************

My doctor just told me that I need to stop spending so much time alone and need to get out more and socialize. In the interim he increased my happy pill dosage.

***********************************

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

She stopped about 10 feet from our car. “Where are you going,” she said?

“Uh, my name is Matthew Dragoni, I’m an attorney and accompanying my client to meet with someone.”

“I know who you are. Who are you planning to meet with?

It came back to me. She was the Deputy Sheriff that had something to do with the investigation of the unpleasantness at my ex law firm a few years back. I could not remember her name and I could not read her name tag pinned to her uniform. A second uniform detached itself from the group standing by the house and began walking toward us just as the doors to the Ambulance were slammed shut and the emergency personnel jumped into the front seats.

“Uh, look here sheriff,” the name came back to me, Meg, something or other, Polan I think. “I am happy to answer your questions but I really have to know what this is all about.”

Mavis who had rolled down the rear window now shouted “Oh my God, has something happened to Mark?”

“Please get out of the car all of you,” Meg ordered. She placed her hand on her gun just as the second Deputy arrived and the Ambulance took off and headed our way, lights flashing and siren screaming.

“Ok, kids get out slowly hands where they can see them, I said to my passengers. “From here on Mavis please shut up,” I warned sotto voce.

The ambulance passed the two officers and disappeared over the rise. “Ok were getting out,” I shouted. “But I still insist in knowing what this is all about.”

As soon as we got out of the call Meg turned towards Mavis and asked, “What is your relationship to this… ah Mark.”

I quickly put my hand on Mavis’ shoulder to stop her from talking and said, “You know better than that deputy.”

After some back and forth we agreed to give statements to the police which scrupulously avoided mention of dope, suicides, Martin Vihn and furniture shipments. In return we learned that Mark Holland had been found behind the house shot. Later reports had him in a deep coma. A neighbor had heard what sounded like a shot or car backfire and a car driving rapidly away. He then left his house nearby with his dog it order to investigate and to attend to some dog business. He saw nothing except Mark lying there and then called the police on his smart phone. Among the things Meg asked in addition to whether we knew why anyone would want to harm Mark, was whether any of us knew whether Mark was dealing dope. We denied knowledge of everything. Meg did not appear to believe us. It took about four hours to finish giving our statements at the scene. On the way back to the car she took me aside.

“So you left the big firm, I heard,” she said. “Yeah,” I answered. “I wanted to associate with a better class of people.” She smiled briefly. “I can understand that.” “You know,” she added. “I don’t believe you are telling me all you know. If I find out that you are not, I’ll make sure you lose both your law license and investigators license.”

“We’ve given you accurate statements,” I said. “But I’ll call you tomorrow after I look into some things.”

“Why not tell me now and I’ll look into them too?” she responded.

“Trust me.”

“It’s your ass on the line.”

“It won’t be the first time.”

We left the scene and returned to The City mostly in silence. Mavis indicated she wanted to spend some time alone so we dropped her off at her apartment. Joe wanted to report to Martin personally and drove me to my apartment where I took a nap and then prepared for my dinner with the widow.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: “Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”
Raj Patel. Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System.

2013: According to a study of the data acquired by Nasa’s Kepler Telescope there are almost nine billion earth like planets in our galaxy capable of sustaining life including one only 14 light-years away.

So where is everyone?

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Here’s an abstract of a study by the Department of Psychology of UC Berkeley that support the conclusion: Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior:

“Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study3), take valued goods from others (study4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.”

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

From some guy named Hickman:

“When Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband’s penis, it spawned a “worldwide phenomenon,” says Hickman. “Across America, and from China to Peru, copycat cases began to occur, with Thailand becoming the epicenter: By the end of the millennium, over a hundred cases had been reported to Thai police, who admitted there were probably many more but the victims preferred to keep their loss to themselves.” Hickman reports cases of women feeding dismembered penises to farm-life and one wife in India who attached her husband’s severed member to a helium balloon.

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

“Khristya Chunyak, a forty-year-old peasant woman from the village of Krasilovka, in the Brovarsky district of the Kiev oblast, told me how Germans in Brovary were escorting a Jewish doctor, Feldman, to be executed.
This doctor, an old bachelor, had adopted two peasant orphans. The locals were very fond of him. A crowd of peasant women ran to the German commandant crying and pleading for Feldman’s life to be saved. The commandant felt obliged to give in to the women’s pleas. This was in the autumn of 1941.

Feldman continued to live in Brovary and treat the local peasants. He was executed in the spring of this year. Khristya Chunyak sobbed and finally burst into tears as she described to me how the old man was forced to dig his own grave. He had to die alone. There were no other Jews alive in the spring of 1943.
Vasily Grossman in the Ukraine with the advancing Red Army discovers what the Germans did in Kazary.

D. A Blast From the Past: Danny and the Tale of Prince Heimlich.

So, last night, at bed time, I continued telling the series of stories to Hayden that I had begun about two years ago when he was six. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit the ranch owned by our friends Bill and Naida).

Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of “The Old Man Under the Mountain.” With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego, a cuddly toy that Hayden insists share my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse.

In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not a so Powerful Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.”

They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.

The knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named “Heimlich.” Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called “Pruneberry the King of the Castle” (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother “Natasha Dewlap” married Heimlich’s uncle, “Julius Caesar” (we both thought that was a very funny name).

Anyway, Heimlich and his friend (who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well been something as ridiculous and “Guildenstern” or “Rosencrantz” or even “Miracle Max”) one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go to visit the grave site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.

Anyway Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.

When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, “Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.”

At this point Hayden asked me, “How can a ghost speak after he died?”

“A keen observation,” I acknowledged. “That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.”

The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich, thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.

And so the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, “Say Natty does this look familiar to you?” At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passers-by.

Hayden then asked me, “What are rutabagas?”

I said, “I did not know.”

Heimlich, thereafter spent every day alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named “Snowy,” looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabaga to passers-by, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party. The End.

I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale for the Three Knights that I would tell him about tomorrow (I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear). But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.

I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story because he needed to get a good nights sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the “Deep Dark Wood’” to visit his mom.

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Marriage after all was invented primarily to make sure that those with enough resources for it to matter who agree to live together know how those resources are used and who gets them if one party dies and where the eager lovers overlooked entering into whatever version of a prenuptial agreement available at the time. (Kings and Queens have always entered pre-nups of one source or another. It was included in the dowry, especially when the dowry contained say a kingdom.) Love never had anything to do with it.”
Trenz Pruca

” The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as the move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we often fail to grasp the grim realities of politics that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better funded, equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.”
Trenz Pruca

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
Enviro_Good_Map

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Pops 0002 (October 31, 2013)

 

Happy Birthday Aaron

Happy Halloween Everyone

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

So my 74th birthday came and went. My daughter sent me a number of interesting books with which to pass my time, including Neal Stephenson’s latest.

My sister held a small birthday party for me at her house in Berkeley. She gave me a wonderful present, a portrait of me painted with colored paper. Here is a photo of it.

IMG_5573 - Version 2

She also cooked up some of my favorite things from my mother’s recipes including her version of cheese cake. My mother, although she was a great cook actually hated to cook, especially to bake. As a result she concentrated on reducing her recipes to the simplest ingredients necessary to appeal to the tastes of her family. Her cheese cake recipe added the step of beating the eggs to a froth producing a cheese cake as light as sponge cake but with all the flavor of something from Lindy’s.

My ex-daughter-in-law Ann told us that my grandson Aaron apparently has become quite the story-teller. At my granddaughter Athena’s 16th birthday party held at the Art complex at Hunters Point, the teenagers left the party to go to another room in the complex to spend most of the evening listening to Aaron tell ghost stories in honor of the season.

After the party I returned to El Dorado Hills and resumed my life as nanny. I spend most of the day while Triple H is in school reading the wonderful books my daughter sent to me.

********************************

It appears as though I may not return to Thailand at the end of November. Originally my daughter scheduled a conference for Bangkok in December. I had hoped to be there with her. The last time she and I traveled around that country was about twenty years ago. The conference has tentatively been moved to January.

**********************************

Fall finally has begun here at the edge of the great Sacramento Valley. The mid-day temperature has dropped out of the 90’s and into the low 80’s and the morning temperatures are quite chilly. The trees for the past two weeks have begun their change to mostly red and brown. The brilliant yellows that have been so common in the area in past years have not yet appeared.

Speaking of the Sacramento Valley, there are places a few blocks from the house where on a clear day one can look across to valley and see the towers of downtown Sacramento on the horizon about 35 miles away.

I still have not resumed a consistent exercise program and have gained more weight than I would like. I blame my lethargy on my happy pills. While they certainly keep the screaming avatars of depression and despair from tearing through my consciousness, the rest of my body seems not to have benefited yet. Today however, I plan a long walk along the trails that snake out from the local park into what passes for wilderness among the subdivisions. Good for me.

*****************************

B. ENTER THE DRAGON:

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Your story didn’t sound quite right.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, that’s too bad. You got a better one?
Eddie Mars: Maybe I can find one.

 

Chapter 31:

While waiting to Mavis to change I received a call from the grieving widow Madame Riley.

“Did you forget about me?” She said. “We were going to talk about finding out how Clarence died.”

“No I didn’t,” I lied. “I have been clearing up a few things first,” I lied some more.

“When will you be free to talk about it?”

“How about this evening, say about 8PM at La Taverna in Belden Alley? Do you know where it is?”

She did and after passing a few more pleasantries she hung up. I had forgotten all about my discussion with her yesterday. “Well another day another thousand dollars,” I thought. I felt confident I could put together a report that would give her and her attorneys a fighting chance with the insurance company.

“Who was that” asked Mavis as she finished dressing? She looked like she was prepared for a two-week camping trip into the Sierras. She wore brown hiking boots, dun-colored cargo pants a checkered long sleeve shirt and a well-worn brown leather jacket.

“Just some business,” I replied.

We left and got in to the car. I put Mavis in the back seat this time. As I got into the passenger seat I asked Joe Vu, “do you have your gun with you? We may need it.”

“You never need a gun,” he responded. “But sometimes it can be useful.”

“Asshole,” I thought.

We traveled down the peninsula passing over Skyline Ridge to Half Moon Bay, then down PCH to the turn off to Pescadero. Pescadero was a tiny town nestled in a valley about a mile or two from the coast. It was noted for antique shops, pottery studios and a popular restaurant specializing in a cuisine focused of the many ways artichokes can be incorporated into a meal.

We passed into the low hills beyond the town and through several rural roads until as directed by Mavis we turned into a dirt driveway that seemed, given the mail boxes impaled near the turnoff, to service four properties that were hidden somewhere over a small rise. As we topped the rise we ran into a cop car blocking the road. Yellow crime scene tape connected several trees around a small clapboard house with peeling white paint and a tiny porch. Other official vehicles including an ambulance were scattered under the trees that surrounded the cottage.

“Oh shit,” I said as a group of uniformed individuals paused in their discussions and looked our way. A woman in a brown sheriff’s uniform broke away from the group and began walking in our direction. She had dark curly red hair, broad masculine shoulders and walked with the slightly waddling gait of a weight lifter.

I heard Mavis behind me say, “oh my God. Something’s happened to Mark.”

“Listen,” I said to the others in the car, “I’ll do the talking and try to find out what happened.” At first I though I’d lie and tell them that we were just taking a drive, but immediately thought better of it. If they found out later we were lying we’d come under scrutiny and scrutiny was something I hated.

As the woman came closer something about her struck me as familiar. I rolled down the window as she approached. “What’s up officer?” I said as she got within conversation range.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019affe506e7970c
B. Testosterone Chronicles:

Excerpt from Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why Do So Many Men become Incompetent Leaders.”

“In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.”

C. A Blast From The Past: Populism and Fred Harris

On April 24, 2010 I published the following as my first post in the liberal blog Daily Kos. I thought now, over three years later, it would be interesting to look at it again and see how it stands up to the test of time.

“For those not as old as me and for those who may have forgotten or missed it completely, Fred Harris briefly ran for President of the United States during the primaries of 1972 and 1976. In 1976, Jim Hightower was his national campaign manager and I was a volunteer on the California campaign tasked with preparing a handbook for his efforts in the California primary. The handbook was a collection of selections from the writings and speeches of Fred Harris arranged by topic so that campaign workers could respond to inquires about the candidate in his own words.

After rereading the contents of that long ago document from a now forgotten campaign, I realized how much of what Fred had to say remained relevant now despite the subsequent destruction of the historical American political consensus by the Californian and Texan presidential administrations. So I thought I would begin my diaries by examining some of the issues we face today in the light of what Fred Harris had to say about them 34 years ago.

But first a little about Fred Harris. Fred had been an US Senator from Oklahoma when that state still had a strong progressive populist tradition. Although he started out as a classic liberal, he eventually classified himself, and was in turn identified by the media, as a populist.

Populism deserves a diary of its own. It is a word often used in political discourse, but lacking a clear referent, is more a space filler than informative. For the purpose of this diary I believe it is probably sufficient to view Populism as a response by the populace of that time to specific perceived threats to their liberty and economic well-being. Beyond dealing with those threats populism has little more to say.

What differentiates populism from the more ideological based political philosophies such as liberal, conservative, progressive, reactionary and libertarian is just that, ideology. Populism usually focuses on the current threats and has no ideology beyond dealing with them. It freely borrows responses to those threats from the proscriptions suggested by the more ideological political movements without acknowledgment of their philosophical underpinnings.

There are I believe at least two main types of Populist that I shall call Liberal/Progressive Populists and Conservative/ Libertarian Populists. Liberal/Progressive Populists tend to see the immediate threats to be from government as well as other large organizations, usually corporations or financial institutions. They often believe that government shorn of its threatening aspects can and should control the ravenous appetites of the other institutions.The Conservative/Libertarian Populist sees the current threat emanating primarily from government alone and may be relieved by the elimination of those specific governmental activities they object to. Fred clearly was the former and not the latter.

Let’s turn then to what Fred had to say in 1976 regarding an issue recently front and center of the political debate, health care.

“If you step north of the Canadian border, you have free medical care. No deductibles or co-insurance, no limits on hospital stays or how many times you see your doctor. When that system went into effect twelve years ago, there were those who said the hospitals would be hopelessly overcrowded. Not so, as people are getting preventive care, and as they’re entitled to care without having to be sick enough to go to the hospital.

If you step back across that boundary to the south, you find in this country – the richest country in the world – the best medical care in the world for rich people, and awfully sorry medical care for a lot of people. We rank seventeenth among nations in infant mortality, which is a euphemism that means ‘Your baby’s dead. We don’t have to put up with that.

We ought to have a universal health care system, paid for out of the federal treasury, rather than an insurance system that might be regressive. There should be much more emphasis on group medical practice and preventive care. And a great more emphasis on paramedical personnel.”(Fred Harris Campaign Handbook)

‘It’s like déjà vu all over again.'(citation unnecessary). It has been 34 years since Fred’s proposal and although we have gotten a pretty good start on health insurance reform we are still awaiting health care reform.

Fred goes on to address the baleful influence of doctor dominated institutions on attempts to make fairer and more effective the delivery of health care in the United States. In 1976, doctors or doctor dominated institutions, for good or ill, controlled  health care. It was those institutions such as the AMA that successfully resisted health care reform at the time.

In 1976, the Reagan and Bush fire sale of American institutions to Wall Street, insurance companies, energy corporations and the defense industries had not yet begun but once started, it effectively wrested the United States health care system from the hands of doctors and other medical delivery personnel and placed it in the willing hands of accountants, investment advisors and bankers.

It is interesting to note that Obama’s strategy of allying with the doctor and medical community was probably a major factor in achieving the level of reform obtained by the passage of the recent health reform legislation.”

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:
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TODAY’S CHART:
Enviro_Bad_Map

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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A visit to Locke California with Triple H and Nikki

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Papa Joe 0002 – October 16 2013

 

Happy Birthday Anthony

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Since Nikki’s departure on Sunday, my days have become so regular and uneventful, I have begun to wonder if what I am experiencing is some form of death. On the other hand, in response to my concern about my increasingly frequent episodes of elation and depression, my doctor has restored my happy pills regime. As a result, I now face each insipid day with a satisfying sense of drooling pleasure.

*******************************

One of my blog posts surprisingly was picked up by Brad DeLong’s Journal. This pleased me because it never happened before and because DeLong’s blog is one of my favorites. Of course, one of the reasons they may have reprinted it may have been because my blog essentially was about how perceptive an economist I believed DeLong to be.

***********************************

Through Brad DeLong’s Journal, I recently have been introduced to a blog written by Ashok Rao that contains some of the most penetrating and insightful analysis of contemporary economic thought I have read in a long time. What is amazing, however, is not the quality of the analysis but that Mr. Rao is only 18 years old and a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes a one to two thousand word article almost every day reviewing the recent publications of some of the most eminent writers in the field. How does he find time to do his school work?

The following is one of his quotes that I liked a lot:

“We today owe our intellectual and humanitarian heritage to Franklin Roosevelt. Not because he vindicated principles of easy money or public finance. Not because he vindicated principles of modern liberalism. But – for the first time in the history of our nation and all nations – he demonstrated that government can exist for the great benefit of the many at the minor cost of the few. For almost a century both political parties have lived by this end, if disagreeing on the means.

There is an ideology that accommodates the worst of efficient markets, supply side economics, and neoliberal economists like Milton Friedman. It is called right-wing hackery, with Niall Ferguson as high priest.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

 

 

ENTER THE DRAGON:

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 30:

Mavis was in her shop when I arrived. She appeared to be cleaning the tattoo ink gun that I always thought resembled an assault weapon.

“OK,” I said. “Let’s try for the truth this time. You spoke with Holland. Were is he?”

She put down the weapon, gazed at the floor and said, “I do not know for sure.”

“But you have a pretty good idea.”

No answer for a few moments then, “Look I did not want anyone to get hurt, I only thought it might be a way to make a little money.”

“Confessions later, where’s Holland?”

“He has a friend who has a farm-house in the hills behind Pescadero. The friend travels a lot and Mark stays there now and then. I went there once. I do not know for sure if he’s there. He didn’t say. I’m just guessing.”

“Did you tell anyone besides Joe Vu about Holland’s call?”

“No..uh yes, I mentioned it to Lilly yesterday at the party..ah…wake.”

“Shit! Does she know about the farm?”

“I don’t know.”

I turned and stared out the shop window at the street and the Lexus in which Joe sat waiting. I tried to think. Did the Tons of Fun or whomever was running them know? They seemed not to. Why would they ask if I found something? Of course if they already found him, maybe they would want to know how close I was. Fuck, what am I doing here spinning out theories? I’m no fucking cop.

I turned back to her. “Let’s go over the story from the beginning.”

She haltingly began by telling how they met one day when he came into her shop for a tattoo. She eventually introduced him to Lilly. Besides buying some cocaine from him when he had some to deal she introduced him to Reilly who needed someone to help him with his remodel and Mark had been a carpenter at one time. Eventually Reilly told Mark about his dream to import furniture from Southeast Asia and sort of become another Ikea. Mark, Mavis and Lilly talked about this and Lilly mentioned Martin Vihn as a client looking for some cash investments. Eventually Mark became the go between with Clarence and Vihn. After about a month and a trip to Southeast Asia where he met with Clarence’s wife’s family things began to move along.

One day Mark came by the shop looking troubled. They went upstairs had a joint and Mark told her that someone wanted him to slip some jewelry into the shipment to be smuggled into the US. He was unsure about the risk but thought the money promised to him was enough to take the risk.

There were a few more trips back and forth to Asia one or two of which he was joined by Lilly. Then one night not long before the things were to be shipped, while they were sitting around stoned and Mavis suggested that maybe we could ship a little heroin also and they could split the sales. He did not say anything about it. The next morning she had second thoughts about it and told him so.

A few days before she hired me, Mark had told her the shipment had arrived but that more people knew about the smuggling than he thought. Mavis asked him who. He refused to answer but said that he thought their piece was secure. She began to scream at him that she had told him she did not want to be a part of it. That’s when he hit her and walked out. She had not heard from him until yesterday morning.

It was hard for me to believe anything she said but at the same time I hadn’t the slightest idea what if anything to disbelieve so I asked, “What did he say on the telephone call.”

“He said he was not far away and was in trouble and could I help him out. When I asked him what sort of trouble, he said that they may kill him. I asked who is trying to kill him, he said it was not something he wanted to tell me. He knew where the stuff was he said, ‘because I put it there.’ He said he needed money and help to get it away. I told him no, that I had hired you to find him and you had gotten hurt and I did not want anyone more to get hurt. Then he asked if you would be able to help him since there was a lot of money involved. I said I did not want you involved and asked him why he wasn’t asking Lilly or the gangster. He got himself in this mess and while I felt bad he had to get himself out of it. He threw a fit and threatened both me and you and hung up.”

“How do I get to the farm-house.”

“Why? Your not getting paid for this. Why put yourself in danger?”

“Well actually I am getting paid to find him but if I tell anyone about this I can’t promise he won’t be hurt.”

“I’m going with you. I know the way but I can’t describe it.”

Against my better judgement, I agreed.

“I have to change first.”

“Shit, Okay, I’m going to stay right here and watch. I don’t want you calling anyone.”

“Don’t you trust me?” she said with a smile.

“Not on my life.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1870 to Present : Worldwide, 1870 saw five ounces of copper mined per person in the world. Today we mine five pounds. Today there are about seven times more people alive than in 1870. That means the total amount of copper mined is about 100 times more than was mined then.

1870 saw one pound of steel produced per person in the world. Today we produce 350.That means today we produce 2450 times more steel.

(I doubt that mathematically this level of growth can continue very far into the future. If not, then what happens?)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

(What this chart really means to me is the regrettable tendency of this nation to enter foolish and unwinnable wars from the War on Drugs to the War in Iraq, that have proven to be a great drain on our treasury and which have impoverished us all. More empires and nations have vanished by engaging in improvident and fruitless wars than from just about any other cause one can think of. In fact, I cannot think of any nation, empire or civilization that has collapsed for being too generous to its ordinary citizens.)

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

According to the Harvard Business Review:

“Most of the character traits that are truly advantageous for effective leadership are predominantly found in those who fail to impress others about their talent for management. This is especially true for women. There is now compelling scientific evidence for the notion that women are more likely to adopt more effective leadership strategies than do men. Most notably, in a comprehensive review of studies, Alice Eagly and colleagues showed that female managers are more likely to elicit respect and pride from their followers, communicate their vision effectively, empower and mentor subordinates, and approach problem-solving in a more flexible and creative way (all characteristics of “transformational leadership”), as well as fairly reward direct reports. In contrast, male managers are statistically less likely to bond or connect with their subordinates, and they are relatively more inept at rewarding them for their actual performance. Although these findings may reflect a sampling bias that requires women to be more qualified and competent than men in order to be chosen as leaders, there is no way of really knowing until this bias is eliminated.”

(Harvard Business School seems to have confirmed my assertions in prior posts that perhaps after 10,000 years of male control in society, they should be replaced by female management of our dominant institutions. This does not mean that woman would not screw up as badly as men, only that their screw ups would probably be less catastrophic on species survival than that of men.

After all, bashing someones head in with a club, which seems to be something men do exceedingly well, may have had an important historical role in species survival and prosperity. Today, however, with the extent of the global interaction of humanity’s major institutions and the incredible and potentially devastating power of its technology, bashing someones skull in even with a metaphorical club does not appear to me to be a behavior conducive to either institutional or species success or for that matter survival.)

C. Tales of Inhumanity:

Vasily Grossman in the Ukraine with the advancing Red Army discovers what the Germans did in Kazary:

“There’s no one left in Kazary to complain, no one to tell, no one to cry. Silence and calm hover over the dead bodies buried under the collapsed fireplaces now overgrown by weeds. This quiet is much more frightening than tears and curses.

Old men and women are dead, as well as craftsmen and professional people: tailors, shoemakers, tinsmiths, jewellers, house painters, ironmongers, bookbinders, workers, freight handlers, carpenters, stove-makers, jokers, cabinetmakers, water carriers, millers, bakers, and cooks; also dead are physicians, prothesists, surgeons, gynaecologists, scientists — bacteriologists, biochemists, directors of university clinics — teachers of history, algebra, trigonometry.

Dead are professors, lecturers and doctors of science, engineers and architects. Dead are agronomists, field workers, accountants, clerks, shop assistants, supply agents, secretaries, nightwatchmen, dead are teachers, dead are babushkas who could knit stockings and make tasty buns, cook bouillon and make strudel with apples and nuts, dead are women who had been faithful to their husbands and frivolous women are dead, too, beautiful girls, and learned students and cheerful schoolgirls, dead are ugly and silly girls, women with hunches, dead are singers, dead are blind and deaf mutes, dead are violinists and pianists, dead are two-year—olds and three-year-olds, dead are eighty-year-old men and women with cataracts on hazy eyes, with cold and transparent fingers and hair that rustled quietly like white paper, dead are newly-born babies who had sucked their mothers’ breast greedily until their last-minute.

This was different from the death of people in war, with weapons in their hands, the deaths of people who had left behind their houses, families, fields, songs, traditions and stories. This was the murder of a great and ancient professional experience, passed from one generation to another in thousands of families of craftsmen and members of the intelligentsia.

This was the murder of everyday traditions that grandfathers had passed to their grandchildren, this was the murder of memories, of a mournful song, folk poetry, of life, happy and bitter, this was the destruction of hearths and cemeteries, this was the death of the nation which had been living side by side with Ukrainians over hundreds of years …”
(Taken from Brad Delong’s Journal)

D. Important points noted:

1. Izabella Kaminska: Dark inventory, death of a city edition:

 

“As we’ve argued before, the world is beset by a capital crisis not a debt crisis. There is too much capital and not enough productive use for it — at least not in western markets.”

2. Alvaro Vargas Llosa: Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America:
“The erosion of national boundaries—and even the idea of the nation state—is already underway as people become ever more inter-connected across borders. A jungle of myth, falsehood and misrepresentation dominates the debate over immigration. The reality is that the economic contributions of immigration far outweigh the costs.”

(I have argued these points, for good or ill, for years now.

Capital does not induce demand. In the Real world, only a very few entrepreneurs seek to develop incipient demand where there is money available in the hands of a consumer, most try to capture what is already there by manipulating desires. No-one invests money to encourage demand where the consumer has no funds to buy what is offered for sale.

As for immigration, for many reasons, we are entering a period of perhaps the greatest migrations of humanity in history. While it is true migrants seek greater security, they usually do not seek welfare. In every society welfare pays too little to make the trip worth it even where their lives depend on it. That is why so many of them take jobs no one else wants to do.

I believe one of the main reasons for opposition to immigration is not simple racism, that is just an excuse, but the real fear that immigrants will work harder than natives at jobs they compete for. Recall the largest mass lynching in American History was of a group of Italian immigrants in Louisiana essentially because the immigrant community was willing to work longer and at lower pay than the white natives.)

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
1. Provide for the national defense.
2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1000922_10151550482679071_1194049097_n
(This chart makes it appear as though either we are the most lawless nation on earth or the most oppressive. Actually, we seem to imprison more people for victimless crimes like possession of marijuana than anywhere else. This trend accelerated in the 1990s and early 2000s when we began turning over operation of our prisons to private contractors.)

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Athena.

 

TODAY FROM AMERiCA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I received a call one night from my brother-in-law George informing me that my 95-year-old mom had been rushed to the hospital. The following morning I travelled to SF to see her. By then, my mom had been diagnosed with a urinary infection, shot up with antibiotics and returned to the nursing home. George and I visited her there. At first she was crying and complaining of the pain. As she began directing her usual insults at me, something that she has done for as long as I can remember, she seemed to perk-up enough so that when the nurse came into the room and told her the people in the nursing home lunch-room were asking about her she inquired if any of them were men. George and I then went to the cafeteria for lunch composed mostly of white and grey colored food. I offered a dish of vanilla ice cream to the woman in a wheel chair sitting opposite me. She declined saying her butt was too big already and then inviting me to take a look if I’d like. We returned to my mom’s room and, after settling her in for a nap, departed.

We then went to Bernie’s café in Noe Valley where we met Peter. We ordered coffee and then sat in the sun on the benches in front of Bernie’s and reminisced. Peter and George worked out the plot for the next mystery novel I would write and not finish. It concerned concentric circles and a well-known but very dead Scientologist who, through the internet, rented for the night Dragon’s apartment in BKK that looks a lot like mine and who expired in the arms of an equally dead Thai ladyboy. Dragon and a team of second-rate ex-pat novelists living in Thailand investigate.

Later I had dinner at my sister’s house with George and my nephew Brendan. Brendan plays in the band, “Not Sure, Not Yet,” whose next gig is somewhere in LA. My sister was in NYC as a panelist at a UN conference on social welfare organizations. Immediately following this she planed to attend the Bill Clinton conference at which my old partner Christine Lagarde current head at IMY is one of the keynote speakers. It has been over 20 years since I last spoke with either Clinton or Lagarde. They each have a different form of charisma. Clinton is like the warming sun after a cool night, while Lagarde in more like the electric turquoise shimmer of a glacier just before it tumbles into the ocean.

I waited for Nikki to arrive from Milan and when he did, he and I drove back to El Dorado Hills.

**********************************
Almost a week has gone by during which three grown and more of less aging men have spent most of their time responding to the whims of an 8 year old boy and enjoying it. I have alternated between furious bouts of black depression and gentle amusement punctuated by one night of boisterous drinking on the deck followed by a day of pain and suffering.

Recently I have been informed that a number of people I know consider me something between a tragic failure and an insufferable moocher. Now normally this would disturb me, being somewhat oblivious to my peculiar behavior and shocked when it is pointed out to me that it is looked at as both odd and undesirable. I can see where some may think that. God knows, at times I think it myself. But even if it were true, when I consider that one of those who has said that is the person who has repeatedly abandoned her child, I really don’t care too much. Nevertheless, I feel I have accomplished what I have set out to do, the boy is no longer teetering on the edge psychological and physical desolation so perhaps it is time for me to move on anyway.

I have begun to deal with my periodic bouts of boredom and depression by seriously exploring publishing options other than screeds in left-wing blogs read primarily by those who prefer spending most of their lives in dark rooms venting their spleen about things they will never have the ability to affect. I realize my stuff is not particularly good or especially interesting, but from what I have observed of what is out there that would place me somewhere in the middle. It, like life in general, is a lot like running in a marathon, you may never finish in the top 10, but just finishing itself can be considered a worthy accomplishment.

**************************************

Nikki left and later that day I spent some time with my old friend Lina. She was just passing through the Sacramento area on her way back to her home in Southern California. She seemed happy to remind me of the many failures of my personal life. The next day I went to the doctor for a check up. He prescribed a lot of pills. That made me happy.

**************************************

A lengthy digression on traveling and old Greeks:

I think here I should interrupt my usual narrative and share with you (well to be honest, impose upon you) my recent musings about traveling.

My approach to traveling is somewhat like my approach to life; it is not arriving at your destination that is important but what happened along the way. I call it Pookieism.

For example, assume that I depart from San Francisco intending to travel to, say Rome to visit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. If that is what I efficiently did and returned home equally efficiently, I for one would be unsatisfied indeed.

If on the other hand I were to depart on that same voyage and along the way be diverted by circumstances outside of my control or through my stupidity and thereby facing perhaps danger, or passion, beauty or tedium and return home without ever getting to see Michelangelo’s frescos (the chapel would probably be closed anyway, for repairs or for some obscure holiday), I would consider my trip a success.

I guess, one could consider Pookieism something like Buddhism, but from somewhat the opposite viewpoint. Where Buddhism urges one to withdraw from the unreality of perception, Pookieism suggests you revel in it.

When I look back into my life, anytime I single-mindedly pursued a goal and overcame many obstacles to achieve it, I almost always came away dissatisfied, became depressed and soon decided to spend my time doing something else. On the other hand whenever I was diverted from my path, or failed in achieving my goal or found myself hopelessly lost, I often was overjoyed. Why, because there was so much experience, so much pathos and so much joy. And, oh the stories…

Yes, of course there were things that to this day I wish never happened and if I could I would want not to have occurred, but they did and the exquisite if odious memories of the experience accompanies me like tattoos on the skins of generation Xers.

For those males of a certain age, some of you may recall that time when you were a kid and in your imagination played the announcer of your life. “The great slugger stands at the plate. Here comes the pitch. He swings. He misses….” Or, “Here is the world-famous runner running through the woods. Will he break the record? Oh no! He trips. He falls. Will he be able to get up, finish the race and break the record? Stay tuned.”

Well, I still do that. “Here is the aging hero walking along the side of the road recalling past loves, triumphs and failures. Out of the corner of his eye he spies a small yellow flower, stops and contemplates its beauty for a moment and then walks on, crosses the street, the freshly painted striping glowing so whitely in the sun it hurts his eyes. Suddenly he remembers he forgot to buy that bottle of milk. Should he return to the store or proceed on toward home? He stands there at the edge of the road, like the brave Ulysses on the beach contemplating whether to return home to the aging but loyal Penelope or spend another night in the arms of the beautiful Calypso?”

Speaking of Ulysses, Homer’s account is not quite how it happened.

One night the short, bandy-legged, scraggly bearded young man named Ulysses, who lived in a subdivision on a small island in the Adriatic, left the home on a cull-de-sac he shared with his wife, young son, various hangers-on, and a pack of dogs, telling everyone he was going to the store to buy a carton of milk, or an amphora of wine or new sandals or whatever. Now twenty years later he stood on the corner of the block down from his old home, broke, hungry and older. He contemplated the excuses he would tell his wife for his long absence. He concocted stories about ships and strange wars, jealous gods, wooden horses, one-eyed monsters and to cover up the long periods of time he spent living with a succession of comely young women, he fell back on the tried and true excuse of philandering husbands of the time, bewitchment.

On the other hand, the also aging but still zaftig and supposedly loyal Penelope wanted no part of the smelly midget bastard’s return. She had happily spent the past 20 years screwing the Theban pool boy and every young stud in town. The assholes return would only mean she would have to give up the good life and return to working on that goddamn loom. Besides, she needed an excuse of her own to explain why for the last 20 years the same old piece of cloth hung on that machine with no further work done on it since he left. She told all her boyfriends that she would choose one of them to settle down with when she finished weaving the cloth. They were so stupefied with the thought of getting into her toga whenever she lifted its hem for them they forgot all about the status of that rotting rag.

She believed however that she would need something better to convince the crafty asshole of her unbelievable 20 years of fidelity. She decided to elaborate on the story and planned to tell her returning husband, if unfortunately he should ever return, that she weaved at the loom all day and every night she tore out what she had done during the day. If the simple and unbelievable story had worked on her lovers why wouldn’t this expanded version work on that scheming lying bastard Ulysses?

Nevertheless, she still was surprised when the testosterone poisoned dwarf suddenly and unexpectedly showed up at her door and started killing all of her boyfriends and the Theban pool boy as well.

Sadly, Penelope was forced back to working all day at the goddamn loom and at night diddling herself while the drunken scumbag lay snoring among his dogs after buggering some prepubescent boy-chick.

As Holden Caulfield would say, “Crummy.”

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
Chapter 29:

“So,” I said to the smiling Vietnamese killing machine sitting next to me. “Did you have a good time last night.” Although I was determined not to show any jealousy, I failed by asking the question.

He looked at me, his ever-present smile dimmed slightly. “Mavis insisted we stop at Rabat for a drink.”

Rabat is one of those 20 somethings hangouts that over the past few years have sprung up south of the City’s Market Street in the old warehouse district first abandoned by the industries that they were built to house and then by the dot-com inundation that collapsed as suddenly as it began. Now it is a place filled with hook-up bars on the verge of decline as the newest generation begins to realize they can achieve the same results with their smart phones for less money.

“After one or two drinks she said she did not want you getting hurt. I asked why she thought that you might be harmed. She said she had spoken with Mark Holland that morning and he seemed angry, maybe drunk or stoned and was making threats. She would not say anything more. I tried to get her to talk to Martin but she refused. I offered to take her home but she wanted to be alone. So I left.”

There was no reason to ask him if he then spoke to Martin and told him about his conversation, so I took out my phone and called Mavis.

She answered on the second ring with a flat, hello.

“It’s me Dragon. You OK?

“Yeah. What do you want?”

“I have to see you right away.”

“I’m busy right now.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Make time.”

I hung up and turned toward Vu.He had tensed up and was staring at the street. The limo had passed again and stopped halfway down the block. One of the Tons of Fun got out of the passenger side and started walking toward us. The Limo took off again down Columbus toward downtown.

As he approached he lifted his hands up in a gesture of peace and said “relax, I’ve just come to talk.” He pulled out a chair and sat down his bulk overwhelming it.

“OK Brett whats up?”

He looked at Joe for a moment and said, “I just thought I’d drop by and find out how you’re doing on my little assignment.”

Anna came by. He ordered an espresso and a Tirimisu. I said to Anna. “Make sure you get paid when you bring the stuff. I’ve had too many people leaving me with the check recently.” He chuckled.

“I had gotten the impression I was fired.”

“Nah, just a failure to communicate. So have you found out anything about Holland yet?”

“No, I think he’s long gone from here.”

The coffee and Tirimisu arrived. He downed the coffee in a single gulp and the Tirimisu in about three forkfuls. Pushed back from the table.

“I’m pretty sure he’s around here somewhere.”

“How do you know?”

“A hunch.”

“I sure would like to know who ever it is that is whispering your hunches into your ears.”

He laughed and strode off. By the time he disappeared around the corner, I realized he had not paid for his snack.

I looked at Joe he was still tensely staring after the Fat Man. “Relax,” I said. “What did you expect a gun battle right here in Downtown San Francisco?”

He stared at the traffic passing on the street in front of us and said. “Guns are useful only at a distance and to scare the inexperienced. If you use a gun and don’t hit your target you are either crazy, stupid or incompetent. If it happens with a lot of people around probably someone not involved will be hurt. I assume if someone wants to kill me he will do it by surprise or from someplace hidden. If I am lucky and he misses, I need to find someplace to hide. The first bullet in my gun is a blank set up to be very loud and produce a lot of smoke. I hope it will cause my attacker to duck or close his eyes momentarily giving me time to get away. I also will not kill an innocent bystander in my panic to return fire. You Americans think guns protect you. They do not. Your brain protects you. Guns are a very limited tool, more dangerous to you than to anyone else.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
6a00e551f080038834019aff58a4e0970c

B. Chronicles of the Parasites:

According to Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein in their article, The Growth of Modern Finance:

“The U.S. financial services industry grew from 4.9% of GDP in 1980 to 7.9% of GDP in 2007. A sizable portion of the growth can be explained by rising asset management fees…. Another important factor was growth in fees associated with an expansion in household credit, particularly fees associated with residential mortgages. This expansion was itself fueled by the development of non-bank credit intermediation (or “shadow banking”). We offer a preliminary assessment of whether the growth of active asset management, household credit, and shadow banking–the main areas of growth in the financial sector–has been socially beneficial….”

Several times here in T&T and in some of my blog posts I argued that the modern financial system that first developed in the US and the north atlantic countries and has now spread throughout the world since 1980 has in fact limited the growth of world wealth rather than grown it as some of its supporters, such as Milton Friedman, predicted.

Brad DeLong has recently commented on the fact that in 1950 finance and insurance in the US accounted for less than 3% of GDP, but by 2011 accounts for almost 6% of GDP without measurable evidence that it has boosted growth by expected amounts.

Delong also pointed our a fundamental truth about the current financial system:

“There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money…”

He adds:

“Over the past year and a half, in the wake of Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff’s estimate that 2% of U.S. GDP was wasted in the pointless hypertrophy of the financial sector, evidence that our modern financial system is less a device for efficiently sharing risk and more a device for separating rich people from their money–a Las Vegas without the glitz–has mounted.”

Recently in revisiting this problem Delong wrote:

“…the events and economic research of the past years have demonstrated three things. First, modern finance is simply too powerful in its lobbying before legislatures and regulators for it to be possible to restrain its ability to create systemic macroeconomic risk while preserving its ability to entice customers with promises of safe, sophisticated money management. Second, the growth-financial deepening correlations on which I relied do indeed vanish when countries move beyond simple possession of a banking system, EFT, and a bond market into more sophisticated financial instruments. And, third, the social returns to the U.S.’s and the North Atlantic’s investment in finance as the industry of the future over the past generation has, largely, crapped out. A back-of-the-envelope calculation I did in 2007 suggested that in mergers and acquisitions the world paid finance roughly $800 billion/year for about $170 billion/year of real economic value–a rather low benefit-cost ratio–and that appears to be not the exception but the rule.”

In other words, as I never tire of repeating, in one form or another the depredations of the parasite community impoverishes us all.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“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:
6a00e551f080038834019aff576401970c

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130924_064710_707_2
Rosy Fingered Dawn in El Dorado Hills

 

Categories: October through December 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Papa Joe 0002

Happy Birthday Ann Vita and Richard McCarthy.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Today after leaving the car at the automotive shop for some maintenance, Dick dropped me off at Capitol Park in Sacramento to while away the hours until it was time to pick the car up. I always liked Capitol Park. The park features a huge variety of trees with their massive trunks and twisted roots as well as plenty of benches for the old, the homeless and now and then a state bureaucrat or two to sit and contemplate the meaning of sitting in parks.
IMG_20130916_111627_025
Fra Serra among the trees.

Many years ago, when I used to work in Sacramento, I recall scurrying through the park from my apartment or office to the Capitol building for meetings with various legislators, governors, staff, consultants, lobbyists and other detritus that haunted those not so hallowed halls. I remembered a sense of pleasure in my surroundings as I rushed through the Park, but I almost never stopped to wonder why I was rushing.

The Park has sprouted a number of monuments, as parks often do, that I did not recall existed when I previously spent time there. Most of them have to do with war. It is a strange mix of wars that whoever made the choice thought was worth remembering. There was an overgrown grove of bushes dedicated to the Civil War, but nothing commemorating the American Revolution. There was no monument to WWI. A simple plinth commemorated WWII. I could find no Spanish-American War or Korean War monuments. By far the most elaborate memorial however was dedicated to the Vietnam War. I sat on a bench nearby and tried to understand why it was that, with all the successful feats of martial arms engaged in by this country, we should spend so much time and effort memorializing a war we so clearly lost. Americans died in all the wars. Perhaps it is the poignancy of them having died for so little reason that makes us feel sadder about them than those lost in other more successful efforts at organized mayhem.

I then looked around to see if I could find any monuments dedicated to peace. I found statue devoted to Junipero Serra, but none to native Americans. There was a wonderful series of sculptures in memory of the State’s firefighters who had died, but none it appeared in remembrance of Cops who also lost their lives in the line of duty. Why was that?
IMG_20130916_104823_829
California firefighters with hoses rampant.

Finally I discovered a somewhat forlorn rose garden dedicated to peace tucked away in a far corner of the park. Overgrown and reedy as rose bushes tend to get when not maintained (I do not understand the connection between roses and peace). Plaques containing poems to peace written by schoolchildren were hidden close to the ground among the thorns.

A small mall-like extension between some state office buildings had been added to the Park containing a number of tripods upon which sat small glass plaques with writing so tiny they were almost impossible to read. A sign at the entrance to the mall explained that the tripods were situated so as to represent the location of the stars on the night California was admitted into the Union. At one end of the mall was a chute like ramp that itself ended with a brass ball on a column that was supposed to be an exact replica of the brass ball on the top of the Capitol dome that could be seen in the distance. The whole thing made no sense to me.
IMG_20130916_114201_007
It still seems like a waste to me.

In the morning after Dick dropped me off, I had a cup of coffee in a coffee-house across L Street from Capitol Park. The barista was a large austere blond woman with tattoos that could be seen snaking all over the exposed portions of her skin other than on her face. She reminded me of Mavis the tattooed lady in my mystery novel serial that is included with T&T, except that where Mavis is short and thin this woman was quite large. Also while Mavis’ tattoos expressed a consistent theme, the jungle in all its fecund mystery, this woman’s body decorations seemed to revel in disconnected bouts of aesthetic rapture.

After my tour of the Park and lunch at a Moroccan restaurant with Stevie and Norbert (I enjoyed the food and welcomed the company), I returned to the coffee shop hoping to catch a glimpse of the blond woman again. She was still there standing behind the counter. I sat at a table with my coffee and surreptitiously glanced at her and once found her looking back at me. I wanted to speak with her, ask her about her tattoos, about what it is like to work in the coffee-house, her hopes and her dreams, whether she ever contemplated sex with a seventy year old man. You know same old same old. I began to feel like an incipient stalker so I left and waited for Dick outside.

That night I dreamt about her. Not some sweaty image of impossible passion, but simply a picture of her standing behind the counter with me at the table, my coffee in front of me, staring out of the window, like an Edward Hopper painting, a frozen moment of existential loneliness.

***************************************************
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Politics at its most…whatever: Given the things the opposition has called Obama, I find the following report from Thailand to be less than shocking. It appears to be just another example of boys will be boys.

“Thai PM was called a “stupid bitch” by the leader of the opposition.”

“This was not the first time Ms. Yingluck was called อีโง่ (pronounced ‘ee-ngo’, equivalent to the English vulgarity of “stupid bitch” or “dumb bitch”). This specific epithet has been used among her haters so much so that googling the word will return mostly her pictures and caricatures of her image.”

The “stupid bitch” remark is the latest in a long line of vulgar insults Ms. Yingluck has been subjected to. Among the early high-profile insults, two years ago she was compared to a prostitute by a businessman (who described all women from Northern Thailand as “uneducated,” “lazy,” “intellectually retarded,” and “fit only for” working as prostitutes, not as prime minister). In May this year she was called an “evil woman, worse than a whore” by a well-known cartoonist. In the same month, the Office of Prime Minister website was hacked and the hackers turned the official page to show Ms. Yingluck’s picture with a caption “I’m a slutty moron.”
Kaewmala

(I refrain from comment, but see Testosterone Chronicles below.)

2. Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most widely read english language daily newspaper wrote some time ago:

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

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter: 28

The limo continued on up Columbus toward the Bay. Joe and Chang sat down again and began an animated conversation and laughing. Vihn had not moved. His mouth curved up a bit more. “Did you hear what I said,” he asked?

I pulled my chair back up to the table, waited a moment for my heart to slow down and replied in a somewhat higher voice than I wanted, “Did you see that?” What the fuck’s wrong with you?” “Your boys were about to start shooting, in broad daylight, in a busy street.”

“They were only doing their job. I trust them. Now please answer my question.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I heard you. So what. So everyone you know was trying to scam you. What the fuck did you expect? You’re not exactly in the fiduciary business yourself you know. Your furniture is gone, whatever was hidden was gone. Deal with it.”

“You are the only one who I know that was not involved.”

“Well good for me. If I had the chance I would have probably joined in the cluster fuck too.”

“This has become personal for me.”

“Martin, I doubt if anything is personal for you. What do you want from me?”

Anna arrived with his coffee. Martin leaned back a bit, picked up two cubes of sugar, dropped them into his cup and stirred them around. He then put down his spoon, looked back at me and said, “I want you to find Mark Holland. I need to speak with him.”

“Look, he’s long gone by now. If not, he’s too dumb to breathe, in which case he’s probably dead.”

“I have reason to believe he is hiding near-by and is definitely not dead.” With that he got up and added, “I’ve already told Robert Wu to deposit your usual fee. You’re making a pretty good living off of me. If you find Holland it will be worth it for both of us.”

Suddenly his car turned the corner and pulled into the bus stop. Obviously there was a signal passed between Vihn and Chang or Vu that I did not notice. I was impressed as he intended.

“Wait,” I said as he turned and began to slide into the back seat. “What information about Holland’s whereabouts do you have?”

“Joe will tell you,” he said as he began to close the door.

“I’ve heard that before,” I mumbled.

He hesitated for a moment, looked at me, nodded and closed the door. Chang got into the front passenger seat and they drove off. He never even sipped his coffee. Nor did the son of a bitch pay for it.

Joe Vu slipped into the seat vacated by Vihn. Instead of Vihn’s slightly turned up corners to his mouth, Vu sported the big arrogant smile he usually does. “How ya do’in boss?”

“Before I answer that,” I said. “Are you going to pay for Vihn’s coffee?

He looked at the cup, downed the coffee, made a face and said, “Too much sugar.”

 
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

One day while we sat at our usual table in the restaurant in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, the good/bad David mused that although he almost never votes in an American election he believed that at least right now neither Party seems capable of producing anyone who was either better or could defeat Hillary in the 2016 Presidential Election. He quickly added that he, personally did not like Hillary. He then asked if I would write something about a potential third-party candidacy bid by Hillary so that those so inclined could vote for her without having to specifically vote Democratic.

I pointed out that the there is a constitutional requirement prevents voters in a Presidential election voting directly for a candidate. They vote instead for a slate of electors each State pledged to one particular candidate or another. It is extremely difficult and expensive for a candidate to qualify for third party status in all 50 states. Also, I suspect that any candidate that could secure one of the major Party’s nomination would hesitate forgoing access to the fund-raising and election workers the Party contributes to its candidate in an election. So the only option available to a candidate like Hillary would be the possibility of running both as Democratic and as an Independent. Alas, I am unsure, but sincerely doubt, that even were the electors to be the same for both the Democratic Party and the Third Party, the votes on either line would be treated as anything other than separate. What this means is that, given the fact that the votes for the Democratic electors, the Republican electors and the Third party electors would be awarded to the specific Party and not consolidated, being on two tickets would split the vote between them. Thus in the case of Hillary actually reduce her votes vis-a-vis the Republican candidate.

But let’s assume I am wrong about this and the votes can be consolidated, would this be a good idea for Hillary? That would depend if polling indicated that the money and effort spent on qualifying and promoting the Third Party would somehow produce a better national result. For example would it pull more votes away from the Republican candidate to be worth it. On the other hand would the voter disenchanted with the Republican candidate or Party be more likely to vote independent than Republican or just stay home. Both outcomes would benefit Hillary, but one would be much less costly. That is simple hard-nosed electoral politics.

There is however in America today a need for a modicum of consensus on the Country’s leadership without requiring the destruction or abandonment of ideology or social relationships and a Hillary Clinton third-party candidacy could have that effect.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

B. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, women outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviors. Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines the dark side of personality: for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women.”
Harvard Business Review.

(Additional evidence of my belief that after 10,000 years of male dominance it is time for men to step aside and let women clean up the mess they have made.)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Bradshaw was so dumb he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘t’.”
Hollywood Henderson’s famous observation about ex-Pittsburg Steelers Quarterback and well-known sports commentator Terry Bradshaw’s legendary intelligence.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1237653_619519348088927_1894089661_n

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20130903_154650_550
Granddaughter standing in front of her mural along with her mom.

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Pops 26 0002

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

–Rick Santorum, Salon, October 2006

(Shit, who knew?)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:

Very little has gone on here in Paradise in the Foothills since I arrived. I spent a few pleasant dinners with Stevie and Norbert on Dick’s deck during which we discussed the pro-ported ancient Chinese arrival in California described in the new book, “1421.” It seems N&S had clients who owned the supposed landing sits upon which some of the books arguments are based. We also looked at some maps Norbert had prepared that showed parts of the California coastline as it looked about 15,000 years ago, at about the time the first native American’s showed up. Dick and I believe the main migration route of these early immigrants was along the shoreline exposed by the ocean’s retreat due to glaciation. The maps showed long stretches of plains and small hills now buried beneath the waves that made up most of the coast at that time. The string of coastal islands now stretching for hundreds of miles off the coast were, at that time one single massive island that approached the mainland as close as four miles or less. 13-15 thousand-year old sites of human habitation have been found on the islands.

I continue my nanny duties with triple H. He seems much more reticent and stand-offish with me then I remember him being just a few months ago.

********************************************

The days go by with precious little to do; take HHH to and from school; play on my computer; worry about more than I should about what I can do little about. Excitement has consisted of backing the car into the wall around Dick’s house and a slight and hopefully profitable assignment regarding a trust that required an uncountable number of frustrating telephone calls with legions of bureaucrats at a bank.

Before one becomes aged, he or she can always try again when they fail (if they want to). You know, fall in love again, do another deal and so on. As one passes into the shadow of old age, trying again is not something that is often easy to do. In fact, the best thing I think I can do beside exercise and eat well is try to persuade myself that I am happy and attempt to find something interesting to do that is not too physically taxing. Writing T&T is one thing but I fear that I am beginning to lose my enthusiasm for entertaining myself this way. Some evenings I join Dick in drinking too much. It is enjoyable but its aftereffects are too debilitating and take a few days to disappear.

*********************************
A bit of excitement this past week, at least for lonely old men and the socially inept who spend a good part of their lives in darkened rooms or coffee houses spewing their obsessions into blogs and various social media. For the past few weeks, I have been clearing the detritus from my computer by re-posting much of it into various blogs. One of them is one of the nation’s major progressive blogs (or as my more right-wing friends refer to it, “communist” blog. Alas, if those who post there are todays version of communists, the left has fallen far indeed).

I like to post there because every once in a while I will write something mildly critical of the self-importance exhibited by many of those who declare themselves progressives, driving them to the verge of apoplexy. I say self-importance because it is very difficult to discern anything there rising to the level of a cohesive ideology. I often accuse the right-wing of suffering from irony deficiency (and of course stupidity but it is not wholly their fault that they have been persuaded that stupidity is a form of godliness.) Alas the left suffers from massive and dour fear their foibles would be seen as humorous. I often get the feeling that they believe the world would end or they fly apart should their self-importance not be treated with the seriousness that they believe it should be. While the right remains oblivious to how ridiculous they are, the left lives in mortal fear that they may be also.

Recently I wrote both a post and a comment in which I chided the left for often engaging in wishful thinking. For example, believing the tide of politics is running in their direction or that those elected officials certified as progressive will lead them into the promised land of a millennium of socialistic bliss. As for the latter point, elected politicians are at best your representatives not your leaders. They only lead if your terrorize them into it.

I wrote in my typically over-wrought style:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.”

One would have thought that with his bit of rhetoric I had plunged a knife into their collective belly. I could sense as I wrote it a moan of fury rising from those dark rooms with their smell of stale pizza and spilled beer — at least from the dozen or so people in those rooms that would actually read my post.

It was what passes for fun in my life now…

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: [impatiently] Now, let’s *talk* about the black bird.
Kasper Gutman: Let’s. Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can be got for that black bird?
Sam Spade: No.
Kasper Gutman: Well, sir, if I told you… If I told you *half*… you’d call me a liar.
Sam Spade: No, not even if I thought so.

Chapter 27:

I was back at my usual table on the sidewalk in front of Pino’s place in North Beach. I had spent the morning happily reviewing the temporarily renewed health of my bank account. I had called Vihn’s accountant earlier to make sure everything I had earned had been deposited. I was now about to dip my fork into my favorite dish, gnocchi. The food a Pino’s like most of the restaurants in the City is mediocre at best. I like eating here because I can sit on the sidewalk and watch that slice of my world that is North Beach sidled by. Anyway, you really have to work at it to screw up italian food. Alas, a lot of cooks I know work exceedingly hard to do just that.

Pino was at his usual post, leaning against the parking meter across the sidewalk from the entrance to his place. He broke from his annoying importuning of passers-by and inept attempts of flirting with any remotely attractive woman in the area within shouting range, to turn and briefly smile at me. I raised my glass of Barbera and saluted him. The only reason he was smiling and not greeting me with his usual scowl was that, with my new-found wealth, I was able to pay off my tab that morning.

“Fuck you fat face,” I thought and amused at my alliteration turned back to my bowl of gnocchi in marinara sauce. I had just popped a chewy morsel into my mouth when my phone vibrated. The screen showed it was Vihn. Still chewing happily I flipped it on.

“We need to talk,” Martin Vihn said without waiting for me to say hello.

“So talk,” I said.

“No, I would rather meet with you, face to face.”

“Why? I completed my assignments and now my office is closed for the rest of the month while I spend my hard-earned profits on a vacation somewhere.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. I could never tell with Vihn, if these long silences meant he was amused, furious or just slow. I guess, that is what frightened me most about him. I could not understand what was going on with him. Like most people I suppose I am scared shitless by what I do not understand or what I am unmotivated to find out about.

Anyway, in the eternal battle between discretion and curiosity, with me at least, curiosity always wins. So, I told him I would wait there at Pino’s for him. I finished the Gnocchi. Anna the waitress came by to clear the table and take my order for espresso with a lemon peel, no sugar. I like my coffee like my soul, bitter and black.

Anna is from the Ukraine but she is a bit darker many of the descendants of the Nordic Rus conquerors of the Slaves so she looks somewhat Italian. She attends City College and works here at Pino’s part-time. She claims she speaks italian fluently. I suspect Pino is running an immigration scam perhaps with a little white slavery of the side. But hey, she’s white, young and beautiful so who cares if her immigration status is a bit hinkey. There are a few more Eastern-European women like Anna who work the tables at Pino’s. I sometime try to hit on them. I get a lot of promises but no commitments.

I was halfway through my coffee when I spotted Joe Vu saunter around the corner. As though it was choreographed, Martin Vihn’s big silver Lexus rounded the same corner at the same time and stopped in the bus stop in front of me. He got out of the back seat. Chang exited the front. The Lexus then sped off. Chang joined Vu. They sat at an empty table next to the one adjacent to mine in which a middle-aged tourist couple picked at their Veal Parmigiano’s and stared at the North Beach traffic. I though back to what my father told me while running one of the several Italian restaurants he had opened to great reviews that promptly failed. “Never order Veal Parmigiano at a restaurant,” he said. “The cheese and the sauce ate there just to hide the cheap meat.”

Joe and Chang were dressed in their usual outfits. Black shades covered their eyes. Joe nodded at me slightly before he sat down.

Martin sat at my table, his back toward the street and stared silently as he always does before starting a conversation with me. He probably thought it made me uncomfortable and anxious. He was right.

Anna arrived to take his order. He turned toward her and ordered an espresso with sugar. I thought that may have been a good sign. Anna moved over to Joe’s table. There was some flirty banter and Anna returned inside the restaurant to put in the orders. Vihn still had not spoken. He had, however, resumed his stare.

I was trying to come up with an amusing comment on his attitude when he leaned toward me across the table. “Almost everyone but you and me, even my accountant, met with the furniture manufacturer in Chiang Rai.”

Before I could respond, I noticed both Joe and Chang spring up out of their chairs and reach behind their backs. I slammed back my chair preparing to run, wondering why they would choose to shoot me down in broad daylight. I pictured myself falling dead right in front of Pino with two bullets in my back. My murder would probably make his place famous. I hated the thought that my death could be the cause of that wimpy weasels success.

Suddenly I realized they were not looking at me but at the limousine slowly passing by on Columbus Avenue. I could see Bulbous Bart driving. His obese brother sat in the front seat alongside him. The back windows were darkly tinted but I still could make out what appeared to be someone in the back seat pressing close to the window facing us. This did not make me feel any better.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“In 1870 the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would have bought him (not her: women were paid less) about 5,000 calories worth of bread–5,000 wheat calories, about 2½ times what you need to live (if you are willing to have your teeth fall out and your nutritionist glower at you). In 1800 the daily wages would have bought him about 3,500 calories, and in 1600 2,500 calories. Karl Marx in 1850 was dumbfounded at the pace of the economic transition he saw around him. That was the transition that carried wages from 3500 calories per day-equivalent in 1800 to 5000 in 1870. Continue that for another two seventy-year periods, and we would today be at 10,000 calories per unskilled worker in the North Atlantic today per day.

Today the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would buy him or her 2,400,000 wheat calories.

Not 10,000. 2,400,000.”
Brad DeLong

(What this means is that after about 3000 to 4000 calories most of the rest of the 2.4 million excess calories go mostly to things we do not need to live. Or, as one commenter to my blogs wrote, “Its simple: it’s the shit you don’t need for the life you don’t want.” [by The Chop].)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
526520_10151632377386275_475064735_n
(While I agree with what Jason [whoever he is] says, I wonder if that is a picture of him and if so why is it included and if not, I wonder if this is actually an Abercrombie commercial about who else they refuse to sell to [nerds with thick glasses] or the kind of ties they decline to stock.)

B. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

The good/bad David urged me to speculate on the potential of Hillary Clinton running as a third-party candidate for president in the 2016 presidential election so that people like him might find it possible to vote for her. Alas, David I have put this off another week. I promise, however, to try to get it into the next issue.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A man is what he has passion about,”
Sanderson, Brandon (2008-10-14). The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn.

“the real world is driven by two types of people. Those who want power and those who want money. The first want a statue, the second enjoyment. And the currency they use when negotiating with each other to get what they want is called corruption.”
Nesbo, Jo (2012-10-02). Phantom

 

TODAY’S CHART:
original-1

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20130831_191401_049
Sunset in the Foothills

 

Categories: Julu through September 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Pops 0002

Dum spiro, spero

“Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it”
Anon

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

Despite my fatigue with Thailand and my eagerness to leave, as my departure date inched closer I grew sadder. I have grown fond of the Old Man’s Caucus at the Health Club, the ministrations of my new masseuse, watching Thai soaps and applying my interpretation to the bizarre events that appear on the screen (and the stunningly bad acting), the few days every few months I spend conversing with David, the incomprehensible discussions with LM and more. Eventually, the time arrived and I sadly watched LM disappear from view as I passed through airport customs.

*************************************

I remained for two days at my sister’s house in Berkeley. We spent most of that brief visit reminiscing about family. This time we focused on our Sicilian relatives with brief side-trips to memories and stories about those who came to the US from Sabina. My sister and brother-in-law and their two children Brendan and Katie spent most of Saturday conducting a garage sale in preparation for selling the Berkeley house in the next few months and relocating to their home in Mendocino. Some of the stuff I recognized from our homes back in NY over forty years ago including a slightly menacing ceramic clown that for some reason our father was obsessed with.IMG_20130824_133226_974

Even Bingo the dog was up for sale.

******************************************

Ruth sent some emails regarding travels we had done together that I only dimly remembered. One was a trip to tour Area 51 of UFO fame. Dick had been invited on one of the earliest tours of the site allowing civilians. He asked me to join him and I in turn invited Ruth suggesting that after the tour we spend some time together in Las Vegas. Since she was traveling from LA and I from SF, I proposed we meet at the site. For some reason I did not show up. Ruth mentioned that she expressed her dismay at my behavior to another person on the tour who apparently knew me. According to Ruth he urged her not to take it personally and added that I, “did that sort of thing to people all the time.”

I eventually did show up in Vegas for the rest of the weekend.

It saddened me that those wonderful trips we took together, to Italy, the Columbia River Valley, the LA end of the Millennium Party had begun to drift so far from memory.
00002030
Ruth and I uncomfortable at a 60s revival costume party in the 90s somewhere in Culver City.

I always believed that life was lived for the variety of its experiences, the good and the bad, success and the failures. Alas, I now recognize that it all inevitably disappears from memory and except for the Butterfly Effect, it may just as well never have happened.

**************************************

I am now in El Dorado Hills, recovered from jet lag and wondering how to fill my time. Yesterday I sat on the deck and marveled about the deep blue skies here that I love so much, until the 95 degree heat drove me inside again.
IMG_20130826_182839_516
Dick prepares a snack for us on the deck

HHH has just begun to enter that phase of childhood where young boys transition from an excited interest in everything to long periods of staring at nothing in particular. I visited with Norbert and Stevie on the way here.

******************************************

As HHH and I virtually were entering the car to begin out trip to Mendocino for the Labor Day weekend when we received a call from she who at her insistence must not be mentioned deciding against his going on the trip. Alas I was so furious I took it out on HHH. I felt like a schmuck. I cancelled my trip so that Dick would not be unnecessarily burdened. He was great. He planned enough activities for the holidays to bring me out of my funk. Triple H and I went fishing in the lake by the library, spent two enjoyable days swimming at the community pool, attended the local high school football game (The home team was leading 35-0 by half time when we left), spent a morning at the huge flea market in Roseville, had a pleasant dinner with Stevie and Norbert and went to watch Triple H drive in a go-cart race.
IMG_20130901_095845_206
Fishing…

 

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

 

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s Breath:

Eddie Mars: Your story didn’t sound quite right.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, that’s too bad. You got a better one?
Eddie Mars: Maybe I can find one.
Chapter 26

I called out to Vihn when I was a few feet away. He turned and with that slight smile he affected, stared at me.

“I found something you need to see,” I said.

“I’ll join you after I see Ms. Reilly.”

“No, this is something you need to see right now.”

He hesitated a moment, shrugged and followed me across the yard.

When we got to the door of the cottage, I said, “Chang should stay here and make sure we are not disturbed.”

Vihn nodded to Chang and followed me into the house.

“Don’t touch anything,” I warned. “No sense in making it easier for anyone.”

We walked directly to the office in the back and stood by the door.

“I’ve found your furniture. At least some of it.”

We entered the room. Vihn crouched down and examined the pieces of furniture. I pointed to the waste basket. He looked in and nodded slightly.

“You’ve now involved me in a crime. Tell me again how this was just some household furnishings import deal.”

He look-up at me, said, “I should have known, but I didn’t”

“Did you kill him?”

“No. What makes you think it was murder.”

“Nothing, but there are only two condoms probably used to transport drugs and an awful lot more places to hide them. I’d ask whoever built the furniture and was involved in the shipment in Thailand what they know about it.” I hesitated a moment, “Why do you suppose he opened just the two condoms if there were more hidden?” Then I added, “I assume you don’t intend to tell the police about this?” He did not answer.

Said, “Well you know where to find me.” and with that I turned and left, collected Mavis from her gaggle of friends and departed the Reilly compound.

Outside Joe was standing with another of Vihn’s minions, whose name I had forgotten, eyeing Fat Bart. I motioned to him that it was time to leave. As he turned, I noticed a slight bump in his back at his waist. “You went to get your gun? Were you contemplating the Shootout in Marin?”

He chuckled. “No only you white guys would think of standing face to face with someone and shooting off guns at each other to prove who had the biggest dick. That just results in a good chance of your own willy being shot off. Did you know that at the OK Corral the stupid fuckers were only about 20 feet apart when they started firing at each other and most of the bullets missed? No, the only purpose of a gun is that if someone starts shooting at you and misses you can make enough noise to make him hesitate long enough for you to run away and hide. Then if he is as bad a marksman as he has already proven himself to be and dumb enough to try to find your hiding place then, you bet, he’s soon dead from my gun.”

We then walked back to the car in silence. During the drive back I again sat in the back seat and stewed over wise-ass Joe’s rejoinder and decided that I would be happy to be rid of him now that the investigation is over. But I wasn’t and the investigation wasn’t over either. Where was Holland? He probably would know what actually happened to Reilly and the shipment. As we approached my loft building I tried to tell myself that I did not care about finding Holland. But I was not convincing. So I told Mavis that I had a headache and wanted to be alone tonight.

I stood on he sidewalk and watched them drive off fully expecting the two of them to be balling the night away somewhere and that I probably would not see either of them again. I got very very depressed. I was jealous also.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

February 14th, 1884: Theodore Roosevelt watched his mother die from typhoid fever then went upstairs in his home to watch his wife die from child-birth an hour later. This all happened on Valentine’s Day and was Theo’s 2 year anniversary of getting engaged to his wife. He was 25. In his diary that day, he wrote simply that “The light has gone out of my life.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/surprising-pieces-of-trivia-2013-8#ixzz2dH8SSojP

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Since 2001 we’ve seen total wages rise 40% while:
Total rents are up 60%
Health care is up 100%
College is up 120%
Energy costs are up 80%
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=lVR

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is. Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.”
David Frum, Republican Consultant.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

o-RELIGION-MAP-570

 
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20130901_192801_872
It looks a lot like sunset in Tuscany…

 

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

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