Posts Tagged With: Mystery novel

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Mopey 0009 (January 19, 2020)

 

“Sweet, salt, bitter, piquant – Sicilian cuisine is all-embracing and pleasurably involves all the senses in a single dish. A gelato must also be like this. Sweet as a whispered promise, the pistachio ice cream salty as sea air, the chocolate ice cream faintly bitter and a little tart like a lover’s goodbye the next morning.”
Mario Giordano, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Ruth.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

 

I have not written here in “Pookies Adventures” for about a week. Perhaps it is due to creeping ennui. I have been reflecting, however, on a few things during that time. One of those things has been the inadvertent falsehood in my conceit that I often do nothing during my day. It fact, I do a lot. I usually spend much of my day sitting here with my computer attending to things, paying bills, or exchanging messages with friends and bill collectors and the like. I also usually spend some time on T&T, if not on the “Pookies Adventures” portion then on some other section, like searching through my favorite poetry sites for “Today’s Poem.”

When I think about it, it is much like having a job. I certainly spend enough time doing these things. Of course, I don’t get paid. That’s a downer, but then I don’t have to deal with clients, co-workers and the like. Nor, do I have to care about the quality of the product. I guess that makes it a hobby. It is interesting that if it is something mostly detestable but you get paid for it, it is a job but if you enjoy it but don’t get paid, it is a hobby (or you are a failing artist). On the other hand, if you enjoy it and get paid for it, it is not a hobby, but it is a job. Someone once asked a famous writer why he writes. “For the money,” he responded. “You don’t think I do this for the sheer pleasure of it, do you? That would be insane.”

I do not know why I wrote the above two paragraphs. I could not think of what to write after the first sentence. I guess it was a sort of stream of consciousness thing — writing something without any idea where you’re going with it or even why you are doing it. Or perhaps it has something to do with the Donald Hall quote in the previous issue of T&T, “Why should the nonagenarian hold anything back?” Why indeed or better yet why give a shit?

Last night we saw the new Korean movie Parasite at the Tower Theater here in Sacramento. I had not expected what I saw on the screen. It is a marvel, an odd one for sure but a marvel nonetheless. Part comedy, part tragedy, part horror movie, part melodrama, it, nevertheless, never failed to capture and hold my attention. The direction is as good as I have seen in movies recently and the cinematography exceptional. See it, you may be surprised like I was, but I doubt you will be disappointed.

This morning, perhaps around two or three AM, I awoke. I did not go back to sleep right away, but instead, I drifted into an almost dream-like state. I had an almost overwhelming urge to paint. It was compulsive, insistent. I needed to paint. Not like the almost paint by numbers reproduction of photographs I painted for a while over 20 years ago. Real painting, whatever that was. I saw an image of myself painting at an easel. I was painting a portion of a sleeve. The fabric was Chinese silk, a dark almost iridescent blue. There were folds and mounds in the fabric as though it was filled with a slightly bent arm. Small golden parallelograms were stitched into the fabric. It was very difficult to paint them and I spent some time figuring out how I was going to do it. Then the scene changed. I was still in my studio. This time the canvas was affixed to the wall above my head. I could reach it with a long brush. I was painting long slightly wavy red lines on the canvas. As I drew the lines, a man’s face began to appear in the paint. His expression, as it emerged from the paint, was sad with an element of surprise. I then fell asleep, a deep sleep until the barking of the dog woke me in the morning.

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A Painting of Mine from 30 Years Ago.

 

Today (a day or two after I wrote the previous paragraph) Naida left for a presentation on her newest book Daughter of the West, a Memoir. I spent the morning sitting in my recliner with Boo-boo the Barking Dog drowsing on the recliner next to mine usually occupied by Naida. I had managed to exhaust my morning in desultory and aimless research, Facebook explorations and a bit of writing. Having consumed all that I could think of doing while sitting there, I struggled to come up with what to do next. It was too early for a nap. It was only noon. I could have made something to eat but I was not hungry. A walk perhaps. That sounded good. Perhaps straighten up the house. Ugh. Still, that would surprise and please Naida. A plan, I had a plan.

Well, like many plans even the simplest of them, it appeared good in concept but a failure in implementation. I began by removing the clean dishes from the dishwasher. While I was doing so, Naida returned home. She told me about her presentation. It was at a local women’s club. A somewhat mysterious one. They would not tell her what the letters that made up the club’s name stood for. They told her they did not want any more members. Naida spoke to the women about her novel River of Red Gold and not as I believed her Memoir. One of the women strenuously objected to Naida’s depiction of John Sutter in her novel. She believed it to be too negative toward the great man. Naida then read to her the footnotes and endnotes to the novel quoting other historians and contemporary accounts that Sutter, like so many so-called great men, was considerably less so and more often a monster. Sutter raped a 5-year-old girl and commandeered the wife of one of his native Hawaiian workers as his bedmate.

Sutter reminds me of a Nineteenth-Century Donald Trump. A charlatan who never pays his bills, a repeat failure in his businesses, a toady to those above him and a beast in his dealings with those beneath him. No-one should feel sorry for how Sutter ended his life as no one should shed any tears if Trump ends up as many of us hope he will.

We then ate lunch after which I went for that walk I had promised myself.

 
B. THE BIG ENDIVE AGAIN:

 
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A View of the Big Endive by the Bay Looking North.

 
So once again it was time to set off for the Big Endive by the Bay for my infusion treatment. Every three weeks, we set off for San Francisco to spend one or two days at Barrie and Peter’s house while I attend to my medical issues. This time we traveled to the City by train.
IMG_7810
A View from the Train.

 
We spent a pleasant evening eating Barrie’s wonderfully prepared food and talking about “The Good Old Days,” mainly the 1960s and 1970s.

The next day it rained. Peter drove us to the hospital. My medical reports were pleasantly positive.
IMG_7817
Naida waiting for me to finish my infusion at UDSF.

 

 

That evening after dinner Barrie, Naida and I (Peter was off on a gig with his band) went to a small bookstore on 24th St. to listen to a friend of Barrie’s flog his book, “An Old Man’s Game” about an aging Jewish detective in LA. There seems to have been a spate of Jewish Detective novels recently. Sheldon Has written one that is set in Chicago. Michael Chabon wrote one a few years back that takes place in a mythical Alaska shortly after WWII.

During his talk to us, the author, who is 72 years old and had just published his first book, told us he has written four more novels featuring this old detective awaiting publication and he planned to write many more. He said he was afraid either he or his main character will die before he finishes the series.

Morning came, Barrie and Peter were off to LA for Barrie’s sister’s memorial. They dropped us off at UCSF Parnassus for my neurological examination. It was scheduled in an effort to discover why for the past year I had been staggering as I walked. It wasn’t because I was drinking too much alcohol. It burns my throat now so at best I am able to get down one drink a week. It wasn’t about cannabis since if I do it at all it is usually only late at night to help me sleep. So, what could it be?

After several hours of tests and consultation between two doctors, they, the doctors, said they did not know what caused the problem (or if there was a problem at all) and recommended physical therapy, an MRI and a return visit four months from now. Oh, they also wished me Good Luck.

IMG_7824

 

So, lightened by an ambiguous sense of accomplishment, we left the hospital, wound our way to the train station where we boarded a surprisingly crowded train back to Sacramento. Sitting across from us during the ride was a pleasant young woman of Indian (India Indian) extraction who lives in Emeryville and was traveling to spend the weekend with some ex-classmates from UC Davis. She smiled a lot and shared her french-fries with us. Oh, the joys of traveling by train.

 

 
C. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

 

 

I am reading Donald Hall’s A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety. It is a memoir of sorts. Hall, who at one time served as US Poet Laureate, writes a series of mostly short essays in which he reminisces about his life and other people he has met especially poets. Of the poets some he liked for one reason or another and others he didn’t. For example, for an essay by the poet Allen Tate, Hall’s essay simply stat

In one of his essays of only 700 words entitled interestingly Seven Hundred Words, he wrote that he had spent a month writing it. In other essays, he claimed he sometimes revises them up to 80 times.

I thought about revising things I write 80 times. That seems like real work. I’d never do that for pleasure. When I write anything I reserve my editing only to checking-up on spell check which has a tendency to use its own judgment to revise whatever I had written with which it disagrees.

I have received comments on things I have published in one blog or another such as, “Forgive him. It is obvious that English is his second language,” or “Your writing sounds like poetry,” and “If you are so smart, how come your use of grammar is so bad.” I wonder if I revised and rewrote whatever I write 80 times it would improve  — at least enough for it to be considered English. I doubt it. Anyway, that would make it too much like work and too little like fun.

Recently, I reviewed a post I had planned to repost in another blog. As I read it, I realized it was pure gibberish. I then tried to edit it into something that resembled English and failed. The most egregiously bad sentence was:

“They proved exceptionally helpful and often assisted in increasing production but the bankers need for timely repayment is not the same as the investors wish for profit and may at times suppress production in order to satisfy the need for repayment.”
(https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/musings-on-what-is-capitalism/)

Hall ends his book with a brief essay about a large maple tree growing in the yard of his ancestral home in New Hampshire that had been blown down by a recent storm. He recalls a swing hanging from a large limb of that tree that he played on when he was a child. He then describes the gathering of relatives and friends who assisted in taking down the remnants of the tree until only a large stump remained. The essay and the book concludes with the following passage:

“One more story derives from the death of my tree [A grand maple tree]. The tree blew down in July, and of course, nobody knows when my granddaughter Allison and her husband Will will move into this old house, extending one family’s residence since 1865. They will take over here when I die, but now I was able, with the help of a windstorm, to give them a wedding present that should last awhile. When I was a boy, elms lined Route 4, but by the time Jane and I arrived, Dutch elm disease had killed them all. A few years ago, Philippa told me of newly bred elms that were immune. She and I conspired, and acting as my agent, she bought a new American elm, and after the great stump was removed a slim four-foot elm sapling took the maple’s place. Philippa and Jerry, my son-in-law planted in on a Sunday in early September while Allison and Will and I looked on. It was Tree Day, which I proclaim a family holiday. For now, the elm will require watering, three doses of three gallons a week, applied by my helpers. The sapling came with a bronze plaque inscribed to the future tenants, to be affixed to the elm’s eventual trunk. I am free to imagine another grand-child swinging from another branch of another tree.”

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

This evening I watched the most recent of the interminable Democratic presidential nomination debates. I learned something from the commercials, however. The nation seems to be suffering from an epidemic of psoriasis and other heartbreaking skin diseases forcing citizens of the nation to avoid appearing in public for fear of embarrassment. This national problem was not discussed in the debate. I think I will withhold my support for any candidate until one of them comes up with a plan to deal with this crisis.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

The following reproduces Chapter 3 of my unfinished and never to be published novel “Here Comes Dragon.”

 

Dragon’s breath:

 

“A good detective should be afraid…always.”

 

 

Chapter 3.

 

I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open slowly. I only had opened it a few inches before it was wrenched from my hand. A big guy stood there holding the door and filling all the space between the door and the door jamb. He was not too much taller than I am, but he was big, with a body poised somewhere between muscle and fat.

“What do you want,” he growled?

I stepped back. Said, “I’m looking for Mark Holland.”

“Why?”

Thought this might be a good time for a clever story. Could not think of one. Went with the truth. “I have been asked to find him.”

“Why,” again?

Still lacking clever responses, said, “I’ve been hired to find him.” Took a business card from my pocket handed it to him. He looked at it for a long time. Said, “A Detective eh. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk?”

I said, “If it is all the same to you, I feel better standing out here in the hall.”

The door opened a little wider. Another fat guy appeared. He had a phone pressed against his ear with one hand. In his other hand, he had a gun that was pointed at me. “Get in here,” fat guy number one ordered.

At that moment I noted a strange phenomenon. My clothing went instantly from dry to wet. At the same time, I felt like I shit my pants. Said, “I think my chances of being shot are greater in there than standing out here in the hall.”

I flashed on how stupid that sounded. The embarrassment of shitting in my pants began to leak into my consciousness. Did not get far with either thought as they were interrupted by an explosion to the side of my face. As I toppled toward the floor, my first thought was to protect my computer. The second was that I might be dead.

Thought I was shot. Actually, Fat Guy One suddenly had reached out with his ham sized hand and slapped me aside my head as they say. His heavy ring raked across my jaw.

Before landing on the floor, I was grabbed and dragged into the room. I looked down the hall in the vain hope that Ann had seen what happened and would call the cops. No such luck.

I was thrown onto a bean bag chair on the floor. Thought, “Who the fuck still has a bean bag chair?” Said, “Who the fuck has a bean bag chair any more?” But did not get it all out as the pain had finally hit and I realized that I had bitten my tongue and was dribbling blood down my chin. Got out “Woo fla bee or?” before giving up and grabbing my jaw. I was bleeding there too from the ring. Said, “Shiss!” Added “Blon.” My tongue was swelling up.

Fat guy one threw me a dirty dishrag. Thought I would probably die of sepsis if it touched my open wound. Spit the blood from my mouth into the rag folded it, and pressed it against the side of my face anyway.

Fats Two was talking on the phone. Whispered to Fats One. Fats One said, “Who sent you?”

Replied something that sounded like, “That’s confidential.”

Fats one raised his fist.

I quickly responded, “Gul fren.”

“Fucking Mavis,” said SF fats.

“No, na yeh” I commented. I thought I was being clever. They ignored me

Fats Two whispered to Porky One again.

Porky asked, “Find anything yet?”

“Hired hour ago. This first stop.”

More talking on the phone and whispering. Fats Prime asked, “What did Mavis tell you?”

What I answered sounded a lot like, “Not much. He’s missing. She’s worried.”

More talking on the phone and whispering.

I said more or less, “We could save a lot of time if I just talked directly to whoever is on the phone.” Although it did not come out quite like that, I actually was getting used to speaking through my swollen tongue and frozen jaw.

They ignored me. Fats One said, “What’s she paying you — tattoos or blow jobs?” Thrilled with his cleverness he let out a surprisingly high pitched giggle.

I did not answer as I struggled with a clever comeback and failed mostly out of fear of retaliation.

He said more forcefully, “What do you charge?”

“Two hundred dollars a day. One week minimum. One half paid in advance.”

Some more whisperings into the phone. There seemed to be some disagreement.

Fats Prime finally turned to me and said, “We’d like to hire you to help us find him.”

I was gobsmacked. Wanted to say, “Fuck you” or “What the fuck,” even. Said instead, “Can’t, conflict of interest.”

Prime Cut One turned red-faced and advanced on me. I quickly said, “On second thought, I can probably figure a way around it.”

He stopped, smiled reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. From it, he extracted 10 one hundred dollar bills and placed them in my hand not holding the towel. “You will get another thousand if you find him.”

Pocketed the money. Said, “Whose my client?”

Again with the whispering. “Me,” said First Lard Brother.

Asked, “What’s your name?”

“No name.” He scribbled on a piece of paper. Handed it to me. “My phone number. Call every evening at about five o’clock.”

“What can you tell me about Holland to help me along?”

Again the phone. The Fats One then said, “Ask Mavis. She knows more than she is telling you.”

They then both picked me up out of the bean bag and guided me toward the door.

“How do you know I won’t go to the police?”

“If you do we will have to kill you.” They both giggled in falsetto.

I knew that was bullshit but I was still scared shitless, literally and figuratively and I knew involvement of the cops was futile.

Once back in the hall, I ran to Ann’s door pounded on it and rang the awful buzzer. I do not know what I expected I’d do if she answered; cry in her arms perhaps. No response anyway. Pictured her standing in the middle of the room staring blank-eyed at the door.

Turned, grabbing the computer in one hand and the bloody rag in another, ran out of the building and back down the hill to Pino’s place.

When Pino saw me he said, “What the fuck happened?”

I ran by him and into the restaurant. Said as I passed. “Bathroom. Ice in a napkin quick.”

In the toilet, I threw the rag into the wastebasket. The bleeding had mostly stopped. Dropped my pants and drawers and sat. Saw that I really had shit my pants, a little not much, but enough to make me groan. My hands were shaking as was the rest of me.

When I left the toilet Pino was there with the ice in a napkin. Repeated, “What the fuck happened?”

Took the napkin with the ice, pressed it to my face, said, “Later, I need a taxi right now.” Pino went into the street flagged down a cab. I got in. Gave the driver the address of my condo on Fourth Street, waved to Pino and slunk into my seat as far down as I could go.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Naida and Pookies trip into the Northwest on Top:

 

Heading Home:

 

We left Salmon and set off through Idaho to Boise where we would take a plane back to Sacramento. Although we were driving across the entire State of Idaho as we did about 10 days ago, we were not traversing the high desert of southern Idaho as we did then. Instead, we were plunging directly into the remote alpine upland of the state and the Sawtooth Mountains.

We approached the highlands through some beautiful and scenic river valleys.
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Soon the majestic Sawtooth Mountains sprang up before us.
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We, of course, stopped for photographs before plunging into the narrow steep inclines of the passageway through the mountains.

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As we approached the far side of the uplands we noticed a number of outdoor natural mineral springs along the side of the road. The photograph below shows one of them.

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Then we were in Boise. We checked into a motel. We were too tired to partake in the Boise nightlife if any. Instead, we took a brief stroll through the mist along the pathway by the river, returned to the motel and fell exhaustedly into the bid.

The next morning, we caught out flight back home to Sacramento. It was a great trip.

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Economics — The use of numbers to justify how the rich got that way.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Geronimo’s Song
by Geronimo (Goyathlay)

“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.”
MEDICINE-SONG
Sung by Geronimo

O, ha le
O, ha le!
Awbizhaye
Shichl hadahiyago niniya
O, ha le
O, ha le
Tsago degi naleya
Ah–yu whi ye!
O, ha le
O, ha le!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

Through the air
I fly upon the air
Towards the sky, far, far, far,
O, ha le

O, ha le!
There to find the holy place,
Ah, now the change comes o’re me!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

Geronimo’s changed form is symbolized by a circle, and this is surrounded by a mystic aureole. The holy place is symbolized by the sun, which is decorated with a horned head-dress emblematic of divine power. This is the insignia of the Holy Man.
(http://indians.org/welker/gerosong.htm)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“You know what Trump is?”

“Tell me.”

“He’s Putin’s shithouse cleaner. He does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can’t do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Russian Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jews and the Saudis, and to hell with the world order. And you Brits, what do you do? You suck his dick and invite him to tea with your Queen.”
le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 141). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

fertility-rates

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Boo-boo the Barking Dog after having done something he should not have done.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 0008 (December 4, 2019)

 

“Just don’t take any course where you have to read Beowulf.”
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) to Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) in Annie Hall.

 

HAPPY NATIVE AMERICAN AND ITALIAN PRIDE DAY.

 

Happy Birthday to my son Jason, to Annmarie and to Kesorn.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

I type this while riding on the train on the way to my tri-weekly immunotherapy infusion at UCSF. Later we will spend the night at Peter and Barrie’s house. We are approaching Suisun-Fairfield. The sky is overcast, gray and dark. Next to me, Naida naps. I think I will join her.

It is now the following morning. We’re sitting around Peter and Barrie’s home eating breakfast and watching Marie Yovanovich’s testimony in the impeachment inquiry. My treatment yesterday was same old, same old. They did discover my thyroid continues to underperform so they upped the dosage of whatever magic concoction they had me on. After the treatment, we headed off to Peter and Barrie’s. I enjoyed traveling around the Big Endive by the Bay on public transportation observing the antics of my fellow riders and watching the brief melodramas of the City as we pass by.

We arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home and spent a pleasant dinner together telling stories and laughing as we often do. The following morning, after breakfast, we all set off for North Beach. None of us had been there for many years. I used to live in North Beach for a few years but had not been back in over a decade. We passed the restaurant where I used to sit at one of the outside tables and eat lunch or dinner several times a week. It is also the site where, in my unfinished and never to be finished novel the main character, Dragon, would sit and conduct business lacking an office to do so. The novel opens with Dragon sitting at one of the tables when Mavis the beautiful Tattoo artist retained him to find her missing boyfriend. Dragon leaves the restaurant to pursue his first clue only too return a few minutes later bloody and frightened having been beaten by two mysterious fat guys. And so, the novel continues on to its non-conclusion. (I will be happy to send anyone interested a copy of the uncompleted novel.)

We also passed several of the sites where Carol Doda, she of the large naked breasts and hydraulic piano, and I during her declining years would meet now and then for dinner and tell each other stories, reminisces, and lies and laugh a lot.

We stopped first in front of a restaurant I intended to have us all eat lunch owned by a man who immigrated from the same town near Avellino in Italy where my grandfather grew up and whose wife was the chef and cooked some of the best Neapolitan food in the area. Unfortunately, it was closed.

Ultimately, we chose Cafe Sport on Green Street. Fifty years ago, when I first visited it, the place was a simple cafe with a pool table in the back room. Antonio (perhaps his name was Franco. I do not remember which), the owner, began also serving some full meals and added brightly colored tables. He also began decorating the place with whatever oddities he could find. Eventually, the pool table was replaced by more tables and more odd decorations. It became one of the favorite hang-outs of the Prop-20 Coastal Commission staff. For a short period, another room was added. To get there, one had to pass through the kitchen where Antonio, a cigarette in his mouth with its long ash drooping over the large pots of sauce simmering on the stove, held court. We would joke that it was the ash that made to food taste so good. That room became an unofficial meeting place of the Coastal Staff until the Fire Department realized it lacked fire exit and closed it down.

The four of us had a good meal, talked a lot and joked with the waiter. We then piled back into Peter’s car and he drove us to the Downtown Transit Station where we boarded the bus to the Emeryville train station to catch the train to Sacramento.
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B. A DREAM BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

For the past two nights, I have been having a pleasant dream set in the dream world of my ancestral home in Sicily. It is nothing like the real place I have so often visited. In my dream life, I have several places that over the years I return to. They are nothing like the real places they are supposed to represent. For example, San Francisco in my dream world has no Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, when I look north, I see a crowded harbor filled with large ships and pleasure craft. Further north, there is a mountainous island or peninsular. I sometimes climb those mountains and stare at the endless ocean beyond.

Another dream place seems like a combination of Mendocino and Eureka. Strangely when I face north the ocean is in my left as though I am on the East coast. I spend a lot of my dream time here. On the way to the town, there is an old hotel or resort sited a short way from the ocean. It’s a bit rundown down and the owner is a mysterious dyspeptic man who alternately frightens and annoys me.

The Sicilian town of my dreams appears like it had just emerged from the middle ages or had just been bombed during WWII. Both the women and men wear dark clothing — the woman generally long dresses, the men old working men’s clothing. My friend Vittorio, Naida and I were in a tumble-down house. A middle-aged woman (perhaps the owner) acted strangely, perhaps angry at us for some reason.  Fortunately, she took a liking to Vittorio and pulled him off into the bushes. At the back of the house, there was a large shed open on three sides. The shed operated as an impromptu cafe and meeting place for the neighborhood. In the evening, parties were often held there with a lot of singing, dancing, and storytelling. We had a great time and I woke up happy.

 
C. A FEW TRIPS INTO THE GOLDEN HILLS TO MEET WITH HRM:

 
HRM and I got together several times during the past few days.  The first time we met, while sitting in Subway’s eating a meatball sandwich and discussing his schooling, he mentioned he was enjoying High School and liked all his teachers because they each keep a toy for him that he is allowed to play with in class. It seems that since he had been diagnosed with ADD and refuses to take his meds, the teachers have decided it was best to allow him to release some of his excess energy by fiddling with these during class.

A few days later, I returned for the opening of the newly remodeled skatepark. A large herd of young boys and a few girls on scooters and skateboards crammed the place. After, watching things for a while, Naida and I went to lunch in Town Center.

One day I picked him up at the skate park. On the way to lunch at Subway, I inquired about his welding class. Some time ago I had told both him and my daughter Jessica that between adolescence the onset of adulthood they should develop competence in science, art, math, sports, social science, as well as a trade. I believed given the changes we go through in our lives and the changes the society we live goes through,  flexibility is needed for our sustenance,  health, and happiness. In my daughter’s case art became photography, science virology, math (the statistical analysis necessary for her virology doctorate), sports soccer (she continued to play competitively until very recently), and for social science her minor was semantics.

H then showed me his unfinished steel cube designed to look like a die. It was quite heavy and obviously unfinished. He explained he still needed to file down the welded joints.

On Friday, we went to have lunch a Panda’s a fast-food place we favor. He showed me his finished cube. It looked great. We discussed his upcoming Thanksgiving vacation and the possibility of he and I going away somewhere for a few days.

Another time, I picked up Kaleb and him and took them to the hot dog place in City Center for lunch. They had buffalo wings and IItalian a sausage sandwich called “The Godfather.” Like teenagers everywhere they seemed at sixes and sevens about things to do, a bit bored but unwilling to give up the general comfort of home and running off into the woods or onto a ship and sailing away into an adventure.

 

 

D. ODDS AND ENDS:

 
Days pass, my short term memory slowly continues to shred. I have read a number of books these past few weeks (see E. Below). This is notable because, for about a month or so, I, for some reason, had substantially slowed my normal reading regime.

Naida and I continue our regular routine of spending most days and evenings sitting on our reclining chairs and watching either the impeachment hearings or old movies on TCM. In the early evenings, we walk Boo-Boo the Barking Dog through the Enchanted Forest or to the nearby dog park where instead of playing with the other dogs and running around with them helter-skelter he just sits and waits at our feet staring at us until we give up and take him home for his dinner. When we do go out somewhere to shop or to dinner and I get a chance to see us reflected in say a shop’s glass window I see two slightly dotty old people shuffling along on one of those mysterious errands the aged seem to enjoy.

One evening we watched the movie “Marty” on television. I had always liked it for its dialogue and portrayal of the social lives of young Italian-American men in the 1950s in the Bronx. And yes, I found Marty’s relationship with Clara endearing and appreciated the loneliness experienced by the two central characters, but I had not recognized or appreciated the fear of isolation that pervaded all the characters in the film. Angie’s anger and desperation of losing Marty’s companionship, the mother’s fear of abandonment by their sons and so on permeate the film making it less a comedy and more a caution.

It has been raining and cold for the past few days. The weather reports describe it as an atmospheric river flowing across California bringing with it the weather change. One morning when I went outside it was quite misty. The mist appeared almost solid giving in bulk what it takes away in substance.

We have spent the past few days inside, avoiding the cold and the rain. Naida works on editing portions of Volume II of her memoir while I write this or read a novel on Kindle. At other times we watch the news and political commentary on television. In the evening and at times during the day, we watch the flood of holiday movies on television. We also saw the Battle of Algiers, Giant, the silent film version of Joan of Arc and several other non-holiday fare. I am bored. If the rain and cold keep on much longer, I think I will shoot myself.

 
E. NOT REALY BOOK REPORTS:

 
As usual most of the novels I read are candy for the mind. I guess since I no longer ingest spun sugar, cotton candy for the mind will have to do as a substitute. Well, that’s not true, I have always preferred to flood my mind with fluff. I believe living in a fantasy world is every bit as rewarding as living in the real world — perhaps even more so

I am currently reading, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss the third in a series whose principal characters include Mary Jekyll the Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, Diana the daughter of Mr. Hyde, Beatrice Rappiccini the daughter of a man who raised her on a diet exclusively of poisons leaving her “as beautiful and she was poisonous,” Justine Frankenstein, a significantly over six-foot woman created by the famous doctor Frankenstein originally to wed the equally famous monster, and Cathrine Moreau a puma transformed into a woman by Dr. Moreau. They find each other during the course of the first novel and decide to live together in Mary Jekyll’s home, name themselves the Athena Club and with the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson set about solving arcane crimes. Cathrine is the Dr. Watson of these estimable ladies’ adventures. One of the many conceits in the books is to have members of the club interrupt Cathrine as she writes criticizing and commentating on her work.

Another book I just completed by one of my favorite authors, Joe Abercrombie who in “A Little Hatred” begins a new series continuing the tales set in a world living in something similar to medieval England with a dollop of magic thrown in. Abercrombie clearly intended to feature a bit more magic in his series but his main character, The Bloody Nine, was so compelling, he focused more on the Barbarians of the north of which The Bloody Nine was one and their ceaseless slaughter of one another in the Ring, a battle to the death between two heroes to determine who would be king. These are adolescent boys novels which is probably why I enjoy them so much.

“Dark Pattern” by Andrew Mayne features a mathematical biologist who gives up his post as a college professor to track down serial killers using the techniques of his academic specialty to do so. He is as obsessed with pursuing them as they are in their chosen profession of murder.

“Not my Fae” by Tom Kelly a multi-book series about a Las Vegas cop who discovered the city is really run by fairies (Fae) and demons and what is worse he learns that he is a fairy and even worse he is a son of Gaia and the King of the Fairies. Needless to say the stories deteriorate in each successive novel to such an extent that the author has to explain why in the afterward of his most recent novel.

“The Vital Question” by Nick Lane sounds like another trashy detective story, but it is not. Lane is a biologist. I think it is best that he explains what his book is all about

For me the best books in biology, ever since Darwin, have been arguments. This book aspires to follow in that tradition. I will argue that energy has constrained the evolution of life on earth; that the same forces ought to apply elsewhere in the universe; and that a synthesis of energy and evolution could be the basis for a more predictive biology, helping us understand why life is the way it is, not only on earth, but wherever it might exist in the universe.
Lane, Nick. The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life (p. 16). W. W. Norton & Company.

It is a slow read, but I think important to help clarify my thoughts about the biosphere.

 

 

F. THANKSGIVING:

 
On Thanksgiving, I picked up HRM in the Golden Hills and drove him to Naida’s daughter’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. It was very enjoyable and the food was wonderful. I had to leave a bit early to take HRM back home. Naida, later told me the family spent a few hours after dinner playing word games and singing rounds.

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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The above photograph of the San Francisco Bay Area taken from space demonstrates not only a marvel of technology but the beauty of this corner of the earth. When I look at the photograph, however, I notice the grey urban developed areas. It reminds me of mold in a scientist’s petri dish devouring the agar until it is all consumed and the mold first cannibalizes itself then dies. In fact, the photo may indicate something very much like that on a global level may be happening. Like the mold in the petri dish, the principle organism remaining the white areas of the photograph ( humans), having exhausted the resources in the area, seeks out additional resources (agar for mold and in the case of humans, a variety of other organisms and inert materials) and energy in order to convert them into substances of use (chemically and mechanically) ultimately producing waste and energy (usually in the form of heat.)

The organisms in the dead zone (us) now lacking resources and energy send out filaments (roads, railroads, electric transmission lines, etc.) to transport resources and energy back into the dead zone so that the remaining organisms living there can flourish while the resources and energy at the source are eventually used up.

Meanwhile, waste in the form of unusable garbage and energy build-up everywhere until all the living organisms gradually die. In the interim, the organisms (us) slaughter one another in competition for the resources. This may be a good thing if it reduces demand enough the resources have an opportunity to renew themselves.

A stable population, renewability, and technological advances that promote a reduction in per capita use of resources and energy is “good” technological advancement. Whether humanity, as it has evolved, is the organism that can recognize develop and implement the “good” technological advancement remains to be seen. If not, then, like the mold setting about to devour the last bit of agar in the Petri dish, it is time to be getting ready to begin chanting kaddish.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

While drifting through some old files on my computer, I came across an article I had written back in 1972. Shortly after I had helped put on the 1971 Buckminster Fuller’s World Games Workshop, I had a brief career as an education consultant, primarily for the Sonoma County Board of Education. During that time, I co-authored the following article. Only a brief portion was available through the internet. If I wanted to view it all, I had to go through some elaborate verification dance. I, to quote the members of the Scooter Gang, “Boring.” Nevertheless, I include here what wnNas immediately available.

 

 

“ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY WITH BUCKMINSTER FULLER’S GEOMETRY

MARTIN J. COHEN and JOSEPH E. PETRILLO

Cybernetics Systems Program, 125 South Seventh Street

San Jose State College, San Jose Ca. 95114

An experimental program in geodesics and Energetic and Synergetic Geometry was carried outwith third, fourth and fifth-grade students. This experiment was followed by a workshop designed to help elementary school teachers incorporate Fuller’s concepts into their teaching programs. Both programs included the building of geometric models, construction of geodesic domes, the study of basic structural patterns in the world, and the application of these patterns to environment and nature studies. In addition, the teacher’s workshop discussed methods of implementing the new studies through integration of study in mathematics, natural science, and social science. Both programs emphasized “learning through doing” — playing with, building, and experiencing physical models and structures and made extensive use of replicable media and learning aids.

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 
SET — WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

I include this simply as an aide-memoire: there are more meanings for this innocent-looking trinity of letters than there are for any other word in the English language—fully 62 columns’ worth in the complete Oxford English Dictionary, and which naturally include such obvious examples as the condition of what the sun does each evening; a major part of a game of tennis; what one does if one embarks on a journey; what one does if one puts something down on a table; a collection of a number of items of a particular kind; and a further score, or more, of other disparate and unconnected things and actions. Set is a term in bowling; it is what a dog (especially a setter, of course) does when he is dealing with game; it is a grudge; what cement does when it dries; what Jell-O does when it doesn’t dry; a form of power used by shipwrights; what a young woman does when she wants to secure a man’s affections; the direction of a current at sea; the build of a person; a kind of underdeveloped fruit; the stake that is put down at dice … need I go on? In the search for a synonym it is worth pointing out, and only half in jest, that it is quite possible that one or other meanings for set might fit the bill, exactly, and will have you all set, semantically, and quite neatly, without nearly as much effort as you supposed.
Simon Winchester

Also, Set is an Egyptian God.

Set, also known as Seth and Suetekh, was the Egyptian god of war, chaos, and storms, brother of Osiris, Isis, and Horus the Elder, uncle to Horus the Younger, and brother-husband to Nephthys. His other consort was the goddess Tawaret, a hippo-headed deity who presided over fertility and childbirth. He is one of the first five gods created by the union of Geb (earth) and Nut (sky) after the creation of the world. His name is usually translated as “instigator of confusion” and “destroyer” and he was associated with disorder, foreign lands and people, and the color red. He is sometimes depicted as a red-haired beast with a forked tail and cloven hooves or a shaggy red dog-like animal. His symbols were the griffin, hippopotamus, crocodile, and tortoise, but he was mainly associated with the serpent. Epithets for Set include “Lord of the Desert” and “Ruler of the South” as he was originally a god of Upper Egypt (the south) and the barren lands beyond Egypt’s borders.

So, let us all set ourselves down and praise the great god SET.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Pookie and Naida’s Journey through the Northwest (continued) on Top:

 

Yellowstone Park and Gardiner Montana
The next morning, we woke up and left the BHB intending to return to Yellowstone Park and visit Tower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As we left the building we were greeted with a magnificent view. A large valley spread out in front of us dotted with herds of elk and pronghorn antelope munching on the green and brown grass. On the far side of the valley, large hills rose up and beyond them, snow-capped mountains and the blue sky.
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We had a pleasant breakfast at the BNB, talking with the owners and other guests before setting off back into the Park to visit Tower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As we passed back through the town of Gardiner on our way back into the Park, we passed herds of Elk along the roads and grazing on the lawns of the town. The town itself was a mix of western picturesque and tourist ugly. After entering the Park we passed additional herds of Elk and Bison grazing the rolling grasslands accompanied by gaggles of cars parked along the roadway disgorging piles of tourists taking photographs of the herds. We also passed some of Yellowstone’s more beautiful vista’s.

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The falls and the canyon were both impressive and picturesque.
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Naida and I got separated as she misplaced her purse and walked back to find it and I ambled off along the path above the canyon. It became a bit comical when she returned and saw me ahead on the trail and tried to catch up but for one reason or another, she got close but then fell back again. Eventually, she caught up and celebrated doing so.
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We returned to Gardiner with a stop at one of the mineral springs.
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That evening we ate dinner at a pleasant restaurant with mediocre food. We enjoyed sitting before the fire listening to western music.

The following day, we set off for Yellowstone Falls. We found it, along with hundreds of other tourists, marveled at its beauty and took off for the lakes.
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Along the way, Naida told stories and entertained me identifying the plants and animals we passed by. To Naida, Yellowstone was in her backyard when she was a child. Her father would take her there often on day trips. During a stop for a quick lunch, she pointed out the bear-proof garbage cans. At one time Park garbage was piled up in large open dumps. The bear population of the Park exploded as the bears spent their time scrounging the dumps and the unsecured garbage cans. The park administration believed the bears and other animals were losing their wildness and becoming dependent upon the refuse so they stopped dumping refuse in the park resulting in a radical fall off in the bear population because they lost their ability to live in the wild.

Yellowstone Lake, a large expanse of water that fills a portion of the ancient Yellowstone crater was quite beautiful.
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We spent some time enjoying the view before retiring to the old hotel on the lakes where we bought some books and had a snack.
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It was at this hotel or perhaps at one in the Grand Teton’s National Park we visited a few days ago that Naida told me the following story:

Perhaps 70 years or so ago, Bill Geyer, Naida’s husband who passed away almost two years ago stopped at the hotel for a few weeks. He was about 11 years old at the time. He and his buddies found a small mouse inhabiting the room with them. They befriended it and even gave it the name Crunchmiller. When it became time to leave the boys became concerned that their friend Crunchmiller would be mistreated or killed by some future inhabitants of the room, not knowing he was a friendly and playful little rodent, so Bill decided to write a letter to the Hotel Manager pleading for the Crunchmiller’s life on the grounds he had become a rodent of character and discretion. The Manager becoming so impressed with the letter promptly sent it off to Reader’s Digest, the Fox News of its day where a few weeks later it appeared in print. Bill’s mother, so proud of the letter and her son’s compassion she wrote a book about it. When I enquired about what became of Crunchmiller she responded, “No one knows and no one seemed to care.”
On the way back to Gardiner we passed through the Park Headquarters at Marathon where a herd of elk grazed on the lawns including this big fella:
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That evening back at the BNB, we prepared for leaving the next morning to visit one on Naida’s relatives a cousin Julie Madison in Alder Montana. Unfortunately, she did not have her cousin’s phone number. Nevertheless, although people may no longer use phone books, Naida was able to locate her cousin’s phone number in the one-horse town of Alder Montana by calling “Chick’s Bar.” The bartender, sure enough, knew her cousin’s number and gave it to her. The next morning after saying goodbye to the BNB owners, we left to plunge into old-time Montana.
(To be continued)

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Taxes never can be set so high that they could ever discourage the wealthy from pursuing their efforts to become even richer.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl
I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl—
Life’s little duties do—precisely—

As the very least
Were infinite—to me—

.
I put new Blossoms in the Glass—
And throw the old—away—
I push a petal from my gown
That anchored there—I weigh
The time ’twill be till six o’clock
I have so much to do—
And yet—Existence—some way back—
Stopped—struck—my ticking—through—
We cannot put Ourself away
As a completed Man
Or Woman—When the Errand’s done
We came to Flesh—upon—
There may be—Miles on Miles of Nought—
Of Action—sicker far—
To simulate—is stinging work—
To cover what we are
From Science—and from Surgery—
Too Telescopic Eyes
To bear on us unshaded—
For their—sake—not for Ours—
Twould start them—
We—could tremble—
But since we got a Bomb—
And held it in our Bosom—
Nay—Hold it—it is calm—

.
Therefore—we do life’s labor—
Though life’s Reward—be done—
With scrupulous exactness—
To hold our Senses—on—
by Emily Dickinson

D. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 
Another snag from Jason Colavito (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog) in his unending battle with the lunatic fringe. Today he pursues Nephilim hunters and SkyWatch.tv.

Steve Quayle Claims Fallen Angels Will Return Soon to Kill Us All
11/13/2019

This week, Nephilim hunter and Christian bigot Steve Quayle visited the Evangelical extremist broadcaster SkyWatch.tv to discuss UFOs, cataclysms, and giants, as well as the True Legends conference he held in America’s conservative entertainment capital, Branson, Mo., a few weeks ago. The True Legends conference builds on Quayle’s True Legends brand of Christian Ancient Aliens knockoff products, which like much of the Christian entertainment market involves copying something secular, adding sanctimony and hypocrisy, and reducing the quality by 40-50%. Things got off to a great start when Quayle told viewers that he believes that we live in a holographic universe dominated by demons who have created a “hell-o-graphic” world, and that UFO disclosure is imminent because Satan is using demon-driven flying saucers to undermine belief in Nephilim giants.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. A man can make a million and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who gave up that million he got.”
WILL ROGERS

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 31 Capt. Coast 0008 (May 10, 2019)

 
.
“War is for defending ideals, not exercising them.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel). Orbit.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
This morning I woke up and bleary-eyed looked into the mirror. I was surprised by what I saw there — something I haven’t seen for about five months. There on my upper lip hair was growing. I felt mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, now that my Chemotherapy has ended, this bit of fuzz on my upper lip signified my hair might be growing back and that is good. On the other hand, it means that I will have to begin shaving again and getting haircuts — Or, I could just let everything grow out. More decisions.

After the Barr testimony before the Senate a day or two ago, I get the impression that the White House is under siege again. The question I have is, why is He Who Is Not My President so frightened of having the Mueller report, his taxes, and business records released? It is difficult to imagine that his opposition to their release is simply a question of principle.

Also, is it just my imagination or does He Who Is Not My President seem to vociferously attack every potential Democratic opponent he may meet in the 2020 Presidential election except Bernie Sanders?

The weekend has arrived and so has Nikki. The weather is sunny and warm. The azaleas are still blooming. Naida busily works on volume two of her memoir. I sit here at my computer wondering what I will do today knowing full well I have ignored or forgotten things I should be doing. That is one of the aspects of arriving at the age of decrepitude, doing things are less important than having pleasant thoughts.

I drove up into the now once again Golden Hills and parked at the skatepark. Nikki met me there and we gossiped while waiting for Hayden and the scooter gang to show up. A large contingent of the gang soon arrived, including HRM, Jake, Caleb and a host of others. I imagined them all on motorcycles roaring into a tiny town in the foothills somewhere like something from a biker flick of the 60s. I shuddered and put the image out of my mind.

After a long time spent meeting and greeting all the adolescents on scooters that descended on us, HRM, Jake, Caleb and I piled into the car Nikki was driving and went off in search of a pizza. Milano’s, H and my favorite pizza place, seems to have closed permanently (sob). We found another place nearby, ordered the pizza and returned to Dick’s house. The adolescents disappeared into the basement to devour their pizza and play video games. Nikki and I retired to the back deck to sit in sun, eat ours, and continue our gossip session. After exhausting the scuttlebutt and gobbling down a few slices of pizza, I left and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

On the drive back, I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I am failing HRM and that I simply am unable to give him the counsel, guidance, security, and friendship that he needs and deserves. Of the three children I have contributed to raising, I believe that somehow my efforts to guide them to happy and successful lives were horribly inadequate. It’s just another load of guilt we add to the pack on our backs that gets heavier and heavier as we grow older. Sometimes I think it is the crushing weight of accumulated guilt and failure that kills us in the end.

The weekend brought with it relief from my fit of melancholy. Perhaps it is because I keep lengthening my walks — you know, boosting my serotonin or dopamine or whatever. Perhaps it is because Naida wrote me a lovely poem — no one has ever done that for me before. Perhaps, it is because I was amused by attending a meeting at the clubhouse to meet those running for the Nepenthe HOC board — it seemed most of the people there favored the election of “anyone but the incumbents.” Of the pressing issues discussed, everyone seemed to agree they all hated leaf blowers. Naida suggested they be banned as they had been in LA.

Last night, Naida gave me a marvelous ring. It was made by one of her uncles, a prominent leader in the Methodist church. Naida said that when he was not doing minister things he would often wander into the desert looking for gemstones that he would bring home and, in a workshop in his basement, fashion them into jewelry. He made the ring from silver that he fashioned into lacework in which he set a remarkable opal he had found somewhere in the desert. The stone itself flashes through the spectrum from brilliant turquoise to a spectacular fiery red when light shines on it. I love it.
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I have noticed, after reading the last few T&T posts, my life has become dreadfully dull. Not traveling, wrestling with a crisis, or suffering through a real or imagined emotional or physical disaster makes retelling the day to day plod of an old man’s life tedious. After all, how many ways can one describe spending his days, reading the newspaper, checking his email and watching old movies on television? On the other hand, except for these fits of boredom and impatience, I am quite content and happy with my life as a grumpy old man starring at the end of his existence. It could be worse. I could be an adolescent again or I could be working in the Trump White House.

Today I drove back into the Golden Hills, picked up HRM and Big Tall Long Haired Jake at the Skate Park and drove them to the house where I left them after imparting to them today’s words of wisdom. “Remember.” I told them, “always keep on truckin.”

The next day HRM called me and asked me to pick him and Jake up again after school. I did. This time, after a brief stop at Dick’s house, I drove them to Caleb’s house in order for Caleb to give Jake his birthday present since it was Jake’s fifteenth birthday today. I then drove them back to Dick’s house where they picked up their bicycles and pedaled off to practice with the EDH mountain bicycling team.

 

 

B. OFF AGAIN TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
Another beautiful sunny day. While Sacramento is no Paradise, here in the Enchanted Forest nestled between that city’s slurbs and a gentle curve of the picturesque American River this morning broke as close to that as can be and still not be considered a dream. Alas, we spent the morning rushing around preparing to leave for the foggy Great Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. That preparation included getting Boo-boo settled with the dog-sitter. He wasn’t happy.
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That night at Peter and Barrie’s house where we spent the night, Barrie prepared a delightful meal that featured pasta with a sauce of garlic, butter, parsley, lemon, and topped with asparagus. It was accompanied by chilled Prosecco. (It has only been in the last few years that drinkable prosecco has been imported from Italy.)

They had invited a friend to join us for dinner. He was an aspiring author and wanted to discuss with Naida his literary ambitions and get her advice on publishing. He hoped to publish several works including a play about the travails of a man named Thomas White who had homes in San Francisco, Mexico and Thailand. He was accused by several alleged victims (boys) of having who sex with them when they were underage. He was tracked down in Thailand extradited to Mexico where he was tried, convicted and jailed. After spending almost seven years in jail White learned that the attorney who represented the alleged victims and reaped several millions of dollars in payoffs, he along with his accomplice as well as one of the underaged youths were convicted in California of murdering the target of another scam. The alleged young victim also confessed to lying about sexual contact with White. With the new evidence, he was released from jail but died soon afterward.

We had an enjoyable evening listening to the discussion of things literary and the pitfalls of publication. Over dinner, we all told stories. Peter told several about the early days of the Coastal Conservancy. I could not remember much about the things that he talked about although I was a major actor in the drama or more appropriate comedy. It seems my memory lately resembles a ragged lace curtain blowing in the breeze — more holes than substance.

I told the story of the developer who had been stymied by Denise, my wife at the time, in his plans to build a large spec house in our neighborhood and who had shot and killed his two investor threatening to withdraw their financing for the development. He then, gun in hand, jumped into his car and drove up into the Twin Peaks area, presumably to do to Denise and I what he had done to his investors. At the corner down from our house, I guess he thought better of the idea or perhaps he was stricken with guilt and decided to shoot himself rather than us.

As we finished dinner, Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda showed up bringing dessert, a wonderfully light cake and strawberries dipped in chocolate.
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The next morning, we drove to the hospital for my immunotherapy treatment. The nurse explained that the immunotherapy was intended to halt reactivation of the cancerous cells that still remain in the tumor. Most of the time, however, was spent with the nurse and Naida discussing books and book clubs.

After the treatment, we drove home directly.

 

 

 

MOPEY’S MEMORIES:

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES: The depressing state of the American airline industry; two days in Orvieto; and a bunch of Giacomini’s.
June 2011

The following morning we left for LAX and our flight to Italy.

The depressing state of the American airline industry is additional evidence that the terrorists won. It was not the taking down of buildings, the killing of Americans or airplanes falling from the sky that was the goal of their attacks, but the subtle certainty of their understanding of the American psyche was their actual weapon. Their focus was to destroy the American economy by knowing precisely the reaction of America’s conservative elite’s thirst for power and profit. And we fell into the trap. Instead of making ourselves even stronger economically at home we wasted American treasure and dollars in unnecessary wars in the deserts of the middle east until we rewarded our attackers their victory, destruction of our economy. I consider the architects of our response nothing less than cynical traitors who wrapped themselves in the flag for personal benefit and power.

The American sad state of Airline travel is small but significant evidence of the extent of the terrorist success.

Anyway, following an especially uncomfortable flight, I arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport with swollen legs, aching back and a foul temper. We were met by Nikki, who had arrived from Chicago a few hours earlier.

After about two hours of trying to secure a rent-a-car for our trip to Milan during which we experienced the full fury of Italian efficiency, we set off.

Within minutes it became obvious that we were not going to make the 4 or so hour drive to Milan that evening as both SWAC and I began to complain to Nikki of our various discomforts. At my suggestion, we agreed to spend the night in Orvieto a small hilltop city not far off the Autostrada.

As we entered the town, SWAC became quite excited. She thought she recognized the town as the site of George Clooney’s escapades in the movie “The American” or some such.

We located a pleasant B&B called “Las Palmas,” dropped off our luggage and set off in search of dinner which we found at an attractive restaurant a few doors away. Following a very enjoyable meal and the downing of two liters of local red and white wines among the three of us, we stumbled back to our respective rooms and to sleep.

The next morning we checked out of the B & B and set off in search of the Duomo as well as to hunt for the locations of scenes in the film that SWAC might recall.

Orvieto’s Duomo is an interesting church with a large Romanesque interior and Italian gothic façade decorated with large Bas-reliefs, statues, and glittering mosaics. On the piers, about 30 feet high are carved a series of Bas-reliefs depicting biblical stories from the Old and New Testament that along with the view from the city walls are the towns glory.

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The Facade of the Duomo in Orvieto

 

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Orvieto

 

Orvieto like many of the hill towns in this part of Italy specialize in a type of pottery called Faience. Each town promotes in a slightly different design on the pottery and ever since Faience pottery became beloved of collectors, each town has developed its own pottery “artist.” In Orvieto, the renowned artist is the daughter of the owner of a pottery shop on the Plaza del Duomo called Giacomini.
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Giacomini’s

For those with knowledge and experience with the California Coastal Commission, yes they are the relatives of the late beloved suspender wearing, rotund, ex-Marin County Supervisor and Coastal Commissioner, Gary Giacomini sometimes also referred to as “Farmer Brown”.

Gary was an ardent environmentalist as long as it did not interfere with his and his family’s economic and political ambitions.

I spent about a half an hour swapping “Gary” stories with the family before we departed to search for the supposed locations of scenes from the movie, take photographs and return to the Autostrada to complete our journey to Milan.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 
The following was posted in T&T in 2011 before Faux News became the all-encompassing mouthpiece for the radical right it is today. It is interesting to note, however, that in eight years many of the pundits mentioned are still with us and would probably be ranked in the same categories were this poll to be taken again today. Of course, Russ Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and a few others deserve a category of their own — Deplorables will do.

2011: “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air”:

Students at Hamilton College sampled the predictions of 26 individuals who wrote columns in major newspapers and/or appeared on the three major Sunday television news shows (Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and This Week) over a 16 month period from September 2007 to December 2008. They used a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “will not happen,” 5 being “will absolutely happen”) to rate each prediction the pundits made, and then they evaluated each prediction for whether or not it came true.

What did they find? Basically, if you want to be almost as accurate as the pundits they studied, all you have to do is a) root through the cushions of your couch, b) find a coin, and c) start flipping it. Boom! You are now pretty close to being a political genius. Only nine of the 26 pundits surveyed proved more reliable than a coin flip.

Using the students’ statistical methodology, the 26 pundits were broken down into three categories: “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Here’s how they break down:

THE GOOD: Paul Krugman, New York Times (highest scorer); Maureen Dowd, New York Times; Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania Governor; Chuck Schumer, New York Senator; Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader; Kathleen Parker, Washington Post and TownHall.com; David Brooks, New York Times; Eugene Robinson, Washington Post; Hank Paulson, former Secretary of the Treasury

THE BAD: Howard Wolfson, counselor to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor/Fox News host; Newt Gingrich, eternal Presidential candidate; John Kerry, Massachusetts Senator; Bob Herbert, New York Times; Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC; Thomas Friedman, New York Times, David Broder, Washington Post (deceased); Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune; Nicholas Kristof, New York Times; Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

THE UGLY: George Will, Washington Post/This Week; Sam Donaldson, ABC News; Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Senator; Carl Levin, Michigan Senator; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Senator; Cal Thomas, Chicago Tribune (lowest scorer)

In their executive summary, the students note:

“We discovered that a few factors impacted a prediction’s accuracy. The first is whether or not the prediction is a conditional; conditional predictions were more likely to not come true. The second was partisanship; liberals were more likely than conservatives to predict correctly. The final significant factor in a prediction’s outcome was having a law degree; lawyers predicted incorrectly more often.”

As for the factor of partisanship, it certainly didn’t help pundits if their predictions were primarily based on who they happened to be carrying a torch for in the 2008 election — Lieberman and Graham, obviously, did poorly in this regard. The students noted that “[p]artisanship had an impact on predictions even when removing political predictions about the Presidential, Vice Presidential, House, and Senate elections,” but I still imagine that this particular script may have flipped if the period of study was the sixteen-month period between September 2009 and December 2010.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Terry Pratchett on Top:

“Wen the Eternally Surprised.”

“Why was he eternally surprised?” And they are told: ‘Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.’”
Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 31). HarperCollins.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations
Trickle down economics is an enviable thing. It affords those who promote it the appearance of concern for the people — with no responsibility for delivering anything to them.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

Good Morning

In slow rhythm I awoke in a bundle
of comfort and peace made of arms and legs
and torsos in sync with your low-pitched
intake of breath from our air-pool, forehead
snug against cheek, and then our exhale moans
through my chest while somewhere deep
in our bundle a spark flares to another beat.

I love you tells only half what I feel
when you are the other half of me.
N.W.

 

 

D. Joey’s Mystery Novel:
My partially completed unfinished novel, Dominion, can be found at, https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/dominion-an-unfinished-and-never-published-novel/. Below is one of the draft chapters in which the main protagonist, Vince Biondi, is confronted by San Mateo County Sheriff Megs Polan.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL: “Dominion.” When Vince Meets Megs.

Chapter whatever:

Vince took into the office washroom the overnight suitcase he always kept available in his office in case he had to make a sudden short business trip or pulled an all-nighter like this one. He washed as best he could, shaved, changed his clothing and returned to his office just as Ray arrived to accompany him to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office. Ray had obviously been called by Ike and was dressed in what for him passed for business attire, pearl button earrings, a military-style camouflage jacket, matching camouflage pants and neon green Crocs on his feet.

When they arrived at the Sheriff’s office, they were immediately ushered into the office of Sheriff Megan (Megs) Polan, former beauty queen, bodybuilding champion and a rising star in local Republican politics. Vince and Ray sat in chairs across the hygienically clean desk behind which Megs sat enthroned like a medieval duchess. Her still super toned body so filled out her tan uniform that it looked painted on. She had curly auburn hair that hung down to her shoulders and the steely blue eyes of either a stone cold killer or paranoid schizophrenic. She did not rise to greet them or speak but leaned across her desk and pushed a transparent evidence bag containing a small piece of paper towards them. As she bent forward, Vince caught a glimpse of cleavage struggling to escape the casually unbuttoned shirt. He also noticed the large black pistol riding high on her hip. Vince disconcerted that he found himself turned on, covered his embarrassment by dropping his eyes to the proffered evidence bag and studying its contents.

Inside the bag was a piece of paper torn from a small spiral bound notebook and on it, written in a shaky hand, was the message, “If anything should happen to me, call Vincent Biondi,” along with Vince’s personal mobile phone number.

“So Mr. Biondi,” Megs intoned in her surprisingly whiskey edged voice, “what can you tell me about this note and what may have happened to Mrs. Stephanie Coign last night?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Or an amicable pair,” said Sam. “Sorry?” “In math, that’s what we call two numbers each of which is equal to the sum of the divisors of the other. The smallest ones, 220 and 284, were regarded by the Pythagoreans as symbols of true friendship.”
Hill, Reginald. The Stranger House (p. 191). HarperCollins.

Consider telling your bestie, “I am 220 to your 284.” How long do you think your friendship will last? The Pythagoreans were always a pretty strange group. On the other hand, closer to our time, even Albert Einstein can appear somewhat otherworldly:

“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”
Albert Einstein

Try telling that to your bestie.

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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:
403833_452167268137623_53805153_n

Today’s Photograph:
10155104_10152838669020242_6799419858627281396_nRoccantica, my grandmother’s birthplace

 

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

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

 

Happy Birthday Ruth

“Never get out of the boat.”
Apocalypse Now

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ELDORADO HILLS:

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

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

B. BOOK REPORT:

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

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

Pookie says check it out…

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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

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

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

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

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It wants to avoid the following:

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

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20140426_174146_961.jpg

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 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.
________________________________________

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?
_____________________________________________

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.
__________________________________________________

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:
300px-Normans_possessions_12century_es

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

 

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

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