Posts Tagged With: Nana Plaza

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Mopey 0003 (February 12, 2014)

 

Happy Birthday Amanda.

 

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Victor Hugo describing what his novel “Les Meserables” is all about.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I guess for California this can be called “The Year Without Winter.” Here it is in early part of February in the Northern Central Valley and it is too warm for me to sit out in the afternoon on the deck behind the house. While they freeze and trudge through the snow on the East Coast, I am looking for a place to go swimming. It has also been the longest number of days without rain for the area since the latter part of the 19th Century. Sometimes I go to the park that overlooks the great Folsom Reservoir. It looks more like a desert surrounding a mud flat than a lake.
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When I go to bed at night, I usually surround myself along with my stuffed animals Oscar the seal, Gorilla No-name and Douglas the Monkey along with my computer, books and magazines so that when I wake up in the middle of the night I can read myself back to sleep.
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I sometimes begin T&T with the words “Dum Spiro, Spero” which means where there is life there is hope. If this is true then it seems to me the Descartes who opined “Cogito ergo sum,” (I think therefore I am), must be wrong. Thinking, science tells us, is mostly post hoc rationalization. Perhaps it should be “Dum Spero, Spiro,” where there is hope there’s life.

On the other hand, “Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem.” (Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human) may be just as appropriate.
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I go to physical therapy two times a week for my leg. I have grown to enjoy it, the physical therapy not the pain in my leg. It is a bit like a senior citizens health club. It pleases me also because almost everyone, except for the therapists who are both younger and very much slimmer, are even fatter than I am. Say what you want about we Americans but one thing is true, we definitely are an obese lot.
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On day while driving I listened to the Sacramento classical music station; you know music by mostly white boy bands from the Beetles to Clash. It really was not my teenage music, that was more from Frankie Lyman to well, the day the music died. I guess Classic Rock was more my stoner years. Anyway, I was listening to Joplin sing “Bobby McGee.” After the song the announcer mentioned that Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin were lovers until she died. I did not know that or if I did I had forgotten. That raised my estimation of both of them greatly.

Some critics criticized Joplin’s style and voice. I never understood that. Singing to me is the art of individual voices and probably almost infinite in variety. Like most notable singers, Joplin appeared to have a unique voice that distinguished her from other singers. Some time ago I assembled on tape over 50 performances of women’s voices from Joan Sutherland to Carmen Miranda. I loved that collection and would play it constantly. Denise called it my “Tragic Hearts Tape” because of the common theme of unrequited or lost love, but some definitely were not sad. Callas’ “Cara Nome” and even Joplin’s Bobby McGee were more upbeat than sad. Anyway D borrowed the tape and lost it.

For me the music finally really died in about 1992.
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On Sunday’s I usually attend HRM’s rugby games. Two weeks ago he ran the wrong way and scored for the other team. Last Sunday while the Broncos were being shellacked in the Super Bowl, his team Motherlode Rugby (Go you mothers!) lost 95 to 5.
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Last week HMR and I attended Congressman John Garamendi’s Birthday Party/Fund Raiser/Crab Fest in Vacaville as guests of Norbert and Stevie.
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HRM at his good friend Congressman John Garamendi’s birthday crab fest. The Congressman is making a speech in the background.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
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The above photograph was sent to me from Thailand by Nikki. It shows Sukhumvit Road one of BKK’s major arteries shut down by the long running anti-government protests. Unlike in other countries where streets shut down by protesters are often crowded with gangs of young men on the verge of riot, in Thailand the vacated streets are instantly filled by sidewalk vendors.

 

 
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

T&T from February 10, 2011 three years ago today:

I have begun to settle in to my new surroundings. More or less my day goes as follows: 8:30 walk Hayden to school; 9:00 to gym to swim, exercise and take a sauna; at noon lunch in an inexpensive restaurant close to my apartment; 1 PM nap; 2-3 read or work on computer; 3 PM pick up Hayden from school and help him with his home work; 4 PM read or computer time while Hayden plays with the children downstairs; 7 PM dinner; 8:30 prepare for bed.

On weekends I go to my apartment in Paradise by the Sea and on Wednesday and Thursday I include my massage in my daily activities.

The maid has moved into the spare bedroom. I assume that now that the maid is in place to supervise Hayden, SWAC will find some pretext to encourage me to leave and return full-time to Paradise by the Sea. The apartment has maid’s quarters located off the kitchen with its own separate entry into the hall. The room is windowless and feels more like a dungeon. There is a small toilet, actually more a hole in the floor of a closet. The maid will not be relegated to these quarters but will have one of the three bedrooms for her own.

The results of my medical tests have revealed that although the CT scan of my abdomen shows my kidneys looking like road kill, my kidney functions are normal. I need to have an operation to clear up the remainder of my plumbing in the near future in order to avoid possibly living the rest of my life in dialysis. I will probably have the procedure done in the US as early as April.

The street on which we live in BKK begins (or ends if you prefer) at a gate to a huge parcel of land in the center of the city. The gate announces that beyond is “The Tobacco Monopoly if Thailand”. I have no idea what it is about. The property is filled with a great number of ramshackle low-rise wooden buildings and a few run down parks. From this gate Soi 4 travels generally north past my apartment building and a few other mid to lower class condominium building and hotels. Family restaurants and push carts line the street along this section of the road until it passes Hayden’s school where in begins to become progressively more populated with massage parlors, bars and budget hotels until it disgorges into the traffic nightmare known as Sukhumvit. Across Sukhumvit, Soi 4 becomes Soi Nana and passes through Arab(and Indian) town before going on to wherever.

On Soi 4 just before it meets Sukhumvit sits Nana Plaza, the first neighborhood one arrives at when one passes the gates into Hell. There, surrounding a small crowded plaza, rises three and four-story connected buildings where one can whatever perversions and titillation one desires from ordinary Go-Go bars, to ladyboy lounges to short time units.

Like in the US where urban private schools tend to locate in transition zones (the rent is cheaper), so it is with Hayden’s school. This morning as I walked Hayden up to the gate of the school across the street along an extended cement platform in front of some shops, a beefy fortyish bald farang, naked to the waist, reeled obviously stoned. He had scars on his head and body but was surprisingly bereft of tattoos. Accompanying him was a naked lady-boy clearly showing the major points of her conflicting sexes (known as “pre-op”) and another professional woman. It appeared that they had spent the night there and as the lady-boy put on what seemed to be the man’s shirt to cover the most conflicting parts of her, the man himself staggered across the street and tried to enter on the school grounds.

Now like most private schools and important buildings in BKK, in the morning and evening, stationed by the gate are four or so regular BKK police  to direct traffic. The School also has its own set of uniformed security. One spiffy dressed cop (all BKK cops dress spiffy) held up one hand palm vertical to the ground in the universal sign of stop and with the other made a no-nonsense gesture that the farang should return to the other-side of the street.

Now it is important to understand that at no time did the Thai cop in any way indicate he would touch the farang nor did he evidence any demonstration of anger. That would cause him to appear less than human and lose face. Imagine what people from this culture must see when they view western entertainment that shows uncontrolled fury and violence as a manly virtue. John Wayne must appear to them to be like a circus clown (come to think of it…. American football with its glorification of anger and violence probably appears to be played by water buffalo rather than humans.)

Anyway, the bald farang took the hint, returned to the other-side of the street and after a short period of slack-jawed milling about the trio ambled off in the general direction of the gates of hell.

After it was all over, I asked Hayden what he thought.

He said, “The girl was naked and the policeman had a gun”.

Just in case you may think that Hayden is too young to know the meaning of the word naked, I few nights ago while we were preparing for bed, he took off all of his clothing and put a paper bag on his head like a hat, pranced in to the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and announced, “Look at me. I’m the Naked Chef.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

A. Samuel Beckett Used to Drive André the Giant to School. All They Talked About Was Cricket

B. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the floor of most homes was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a “thresh-hold.”

By the way, this common use of dirt and thresh flooring is also the reason why we in the West, unlike in the East, customarily remain wearing shoes when entering a house.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

I don’t know what this is about:

Alliteration mumbles
Metaphor lies, and
Metonymy sounds like something you buy on the Mercantile Exchange.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“However, as we know from John A. Hobson, one of England’s best economists, imperialism is the direct and necessary outgrowth of such accumulation. Capitalists could no longer finance sufficient profit on domestic consumption alone, requiring large and bountiful export markets. Furthermore, domestic industry would no longer require capital at a rate commensurate with high profits, which would need to be invested somewhere.”
This is Ashok (Ashok Rao)

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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In about 1980 or so, when the prison population growth really took off, privatization of our prisons began and the War on Drugs commenced. What that demonstrates is that the private market really is more efficient than government and the War, if one considers incarceration a casualty, has caused more American casualties than all of our wars combined and was even less effective than the war in Iraq.

 

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Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Pops 0002

 

Dum spiro, spero.

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
–Napoleon
TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:

One morning a few days ago on my way to breakfast I had just passed Nana Plaza which bills itself as The Worlds Largest Adult Playground when I stopped to buy a newspaper from the old Thai woman at the newsstand right by the entrance.
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Morning at Nana Plaza.

Suddenly I noticed a commotion a few feet away. On the sidewalk, two ladies of the very late evening or the very early morning were fighting with each other. A crowd of Thais had quickly gathered around watching. Some were taking pictures with their smart phones. At first I thought the combatants had torn each others clothing off. but on closer look I realized that the shrink wrapped uniform usually worn by the sidewalk purveyors of passion for a price had rolled up like an old window shade into a small band of fabric around their mid-sections. They looked a lot like Sumo wrestlers with their tiny belts separating vast rolls of ponderous swinging flesh.

No one moved to intervene, including me because, in my case, I have learned from hard experience not to intervene in disputes like this unless one party is helpless and at risk or blood is being spilled. In this case each combatant had the other’s hair wrapped in a death-grip and with their free hand landing looping ineffective blows to each other’s back while at the same time trying to kick each other’s shins with their bare fee. Their greatest physical danger would occur if they lost their balance, fell and cracked their heads on the cement.

Eventually, some of the orange shirted motorcycle messengers came over and separated them. Strangely, after separated the fighters they would immediately leave them alone again. This allowed the combatants to quickly resume battling each other. It occurred at least four times until suddenly the fight just ended with each gladiator strutting around while trying to unravel their dresses in order to cover up their exposed stocks in trade. Despite the fact that a police substation stood on the corner about twenty feet away, no police showed up.

The entertainment over the crowd dispersed and I continued on across Sukhumvit through Little Arabia and into FoodLand where I ate my breakfast and read the newspaper.

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The good/bad David is back in town. We had lunch a his favorite restaurant on the 5th floor of Terminal 21. We were joined by a friend of David’s, a man named Theo. I liked him immediately for having a name like Theo. He is British and spends about half the year in Thailand. He works as an assistant director on large commercials and some movies. As such, he spent much of his career in Los Angeles where he lived not too far from Ruth. I learned from him that assistant directors are a trade somewhat separate from directors. He spent much of the lunch explaining how it was a normal career progression to go from assistant director to director under the old studio system. But with the coming of the financial industry to the making of motion pictures, directors began to be chosen for their bankability and not for their expertise or creativity. Bankers poison everything. Once again people controlling the money believed they know everything but usually behave like neophyte gamblers.

Theo like millions of others has written a movie script or two that he carries around hoping to find someone to produce it. His most interesting script is about LA in 1948 when the City’s great jazz scene blossomed with the black jazz musicians moving in after the war. A the main character (true story) wins a major motorcycle race and saves the company that produces the vehicles. Between races, he spends time in the Jazz clubs where he falls in love and eventually meets Claude Rains dressed as a french policeman. He then abandons the woman he loves at the coffee shop in Santa Barbara Airport. He and Claude walk off together into the Sonoran Desert and were never seen again.

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I set off to Paradise by the Sea for a couple of days before returning to the US. The Good/ and sometime bad David and I took off for the beach early one morning. We were driven there by two women friends of David’s who were very much in love with each other. After arriving we checked into the hotel and set off to our respective rooms for naps. That evening the women departed for The Walking Street to troll the lesbian bars. David and I walked to one of my favorite restaurants in Thailand, Cafe Des Amis. Not only is the French food excellent but it is an oasis of western civility. The place is owned by a westerner with the unusual name Blue. His wife is Thai. Her name strangely enough does not rhyme with his. They have an 18 month old son who spends his evenings at the restaurant (easy enough to do since they live in a house at the back of the property). We had dinner with Theo, my British assistant movie director friend and a woman who lives with a mysterious but wealthy english gold and jewel dealer.
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David, LM on the right and the mysterious gold dealers lady friend standing in the street outside of Cafe Des Amis..

Theo and I spent most of the evening happily discussing the golden age of film directing. We commiserated together over the passing of that art form. We also spent some time reminiscing about the a-cappella do-whop singing groups (e,g, Dion and the Belmonts and others) of the 50’s through the early 70’s.

The next morning I woke up somewhat hung over so I stayed in bed until noon when I went for a brief beach walk and then joined the two even more hung over young women for our drive back to BKK. David stayed in Pattaya.

I leave tomorrow for SF and must finish packing and preparation. Although I looked forward to my trip, I have begun to feel sad about leaving.
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LM’s recent efforts to create clothing accessories of no use in Thailand that I will carry in my luggage for disposal in the US. I am her sales rep. So let me know if you want to buy one, or would rather receive it as a gift.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

As some of you may know most of the streets of Bangkok were originally canals that were covered over for use by automobiles. The canals remain, however, a few feet below the surface of the roadway. They are dark, foetid and teaming with rats, snakes and raw sewage. Now and then they get blocked up or something goes wrong with the services that run through them. Then they must be opened and cleaned out a bit. Recently that happened along Sukhumvit, the major street near my apartment. By lifting out the heavy blocks of cement imbedded every 25 feet or so in the sidewalk that afford access the canals the grey greed sludge sluggishly flowing underneath have been exposed. Armies of blue uniformed Burmese and Cambodian immigrants are marched in like chain gang convicts in the southern US. The workers then lower themselves into the water where they stand sometime up to their necks in the foul water in order to reach down and grasp handfuls of mud that they lift up and dump into wheelbarrows stationed on the sidewalks above.

No Thai today would conceive of stooping so low as to this sort of work. These Cambodian and Burmese workers (male and female alike) work as much as 10-12 hours a day. They are considered by most Thais as stupid, lazy, prone to criminality and in Thailand only to secure the generous welfare benefits available in the country.

 

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter 26

Instead following them I made my way across the yard toward the garage. The garage was a separate structure at the far end of the property. It was probably built back when automobiles were a rarity so it looked more like a storage shed and had that same aura of disrepair the residents of the subdivision worked so hard to achieve. Behind the garage a large workshop had been built, probably at about the same time as the original garage. Clarence expanded it significantly. He explained to me one evening that he intended to convert it into a separate house so that his children would have a place of their own to stay in if they were slow to cut the strings that bound them to their parents when they grew up. In the interim he intended to use it as his home office and man cave.

I stood by the door to the building and checked around to see if anyone was looking my way. Satisfied that no one seemed to give a damn about me, I pulled out the end of my shirt and used it to protect against leaving fingerprints as I tried the door to see if it was locked. It was not and I opened it quickly and stepped inside and closed the door.

I stood in a huge room that Clarence had planned as a combined dining room, kitchen and living room. It was littered with construction materials. Parts of the paneling had been completed. In a few places the studs in the wall were still exposed. The kitchen had been mostly finished and awaited installation of the appliances. I contemplated for a moment whether I could avoid leaving foot prints in the dusty floor, decided I could not so I set off anyway across the room toward a doorway opposite that I knew led to a short hall and two bedrooms in the rear.

The door to the first bedroom had not yet been hung so I could see most of it from the hallway. The Insides of that room looked a lot like the room I had just left; bits of construction material, detritus and dust. The second bedroom’s door was in place and closed. I tried to open it but it was locked. I thought about it for a moment and decided my attempts to minimize evidence of my visit was not going to work if I wanted to know what was inside. So, I kicked hard at the area around the doorknob. The flimsy material with which the door was made split under the blow and opened revealing a workroom containing a workbench against the far wall above which a panel of holed fiberboard was fastened on which some tools had been hung. Scattered about were sections of disassembled furniture.

The furniture was made out of thick pieces of darkly stained wood common in South-East Asia. I entered the room and crouched down by what looked like the riser that connected a chair’s seat to its arms. It was round and about two inches in diameter. Into the top was drilled a hole that looked a little more than an inch wide and six deep. The best I could determine about four pieces of furniture had been disassembled. Two heavy dining room arm chairs, a table and a cushioned living room chair. The table legs were much thicker than the chair’s risers and as far as I could tell had similar but larger holes drilled into them. The cushions on the easy chair had been ripped open revealing the white latex stuffing.

I squatted there for several long moments trying to understand what I was seeing. It was not too difficult but I did not want to jump to too many conclusions. I stood up and looked in the waste basket by the workbench. Among the litter were two condoms.

My discoveries seemed to clear up a few things. At least it appeared to confirm my conviction that we were probably dealing with a dope deal gone bad. Still, while moving from a suspicion to a conviction may be considered progress, it was slight indeed. It raised a few other questions in my mind. Not the least of which was why so many hiding places and what was Clarence’s role – mastermind or dupe? And Martin, while I would not have been surprised if he were lying about not knowing what was going on, I still doubted he could be so stupid. For that matter could anyone be stupid enough to ship dope so easily discoverable. It smelled amateurish and Martin was no amateur. Clarence perhaps, but why so many hiding places for what appeared to be a lot of whatever it was? I still did not know what. I guessed it was dope. But it could have been popcorn for all I knew.

I stood there for a while feeling anxiety crawling over me. Not fear per se, but distress that I found myself even more in the middle of something I did not what to be in the middle of. My job had been to attempt to locate some missing people and merchandise. Despite my best efforts to avoid doing so, I seem to have succeeded to some extent. But now I appear to be entwined in the middle of several serious crimes. The burgeoning tendrils of panic crept through me like strangler vines in the jungle enfolding the trees that produced the wood for the furniture strewn about me..

I realized that standing there quaking was not going to enable me to come up with anything allowing me to deal with or hopefully ignore what I had found out so far. I decided it would be best if I left hoping it all either went away or circumstances would force some action or decision on my part that would extricate me from all this.

One of those possible circumstances awaited me outside. Martin had arrived with his sidekick, Chang, They were heading toward the main house. Instead of simply leaving the property and hoping that no one would realize what I had seen and that everything would go away, I felt an uncontrollable urge to stir things up a bit. So, I moved to intercept Martin before he got to the house.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1934: Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act was passed by the US Congress, effectively outlawing marijuana in the country. A few years later HENRY ANSLINGER Director of Federal Bureau of Narcotics at the time explained why he supported criminalizing the growing and use of Hemp.

“Most (users of marijuana) are Negroes, Hispanics. Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from smoking marijuana. This marijuana makes White women want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

(Damn, here I thought smoking dope only got you high, no one told me about the white women before.)

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

A system along exactly these lines [of ObamaCare] has been operating in Massachusetts since 2006, where it was introduced by a Republican governor. What was his name? Mitt Somethingorother? And no trains have been wrecked so far. The question is whether the Massachusetts success story can be replicated in other states… the answer, so far, is a clear “yes.” In California, insurers came in with bids running significantly below expectations; in New York, it appears that premiums will be cut roughly in half…. Over all, then, health reform will help millions of Americans who were previously either too sick or too poor to get the coverage they needed, and also offer a great deal of reassurance to millions more who currently have insurance but fear losing it….
And the prospect that such a plan might succeed is anathema to a party whose whole philosophy is built around doing just the opposite…. So will Republicans actually take us to the brink? If they do, it will be crucial to understand why they would do such a thing…. Republicans may be willing to risk economic and financial crisis solely in order to deny essential health care and financial security to millions of their fellow Americans. Let’s hear it for their noble cause!”
Paul Krugman: Republican Health Care Panic…

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be The Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen To Use Terror As A Weapon To Try To Shake The Conscience Of The Free World.”

George W Bush

I always thought W bore a striking resemblance to Chauncey Gardener.

“I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

Arnold understood governance about as well as he did domestic relations.

 

“Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
Bill Clinton

Bill as we all know had a few interns under him who I am sure listened to his every word.

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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It looks like if you want to be happy move to some city in California or to Vermont or convert to Mormonism. Alas, you will be wretched if you find yourself in the old south or the industrial midwest, except for Kentucky where despite having Mitch McConnell as your Senator appears slightly happier than the rest of the South. Probably because of the hope afforded them by the availability of mass suicides every other Tuesday.

South Dakota is clearly an outlier and has become even more miserable than ever since they learned that North Dakota, the only state more unpleasant to live in than theirs, had all the oil shale and its citizens will now all get rich and move to Florida or California and be happy while they have to continue to suffer through the dismal winters in their hovels on the windswept plains. [This one is for you David. I knew that sooner or later I would find something smarmy to say about your home state.]

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Jewelry from Thailand for sale cheap.

Contact my granddaughter Athena.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Joseph 0002 (January 14, 2013)

Note: Take a look at “Live Blogging from World War II: Russell Braddon on the Burma Railroad” below for an excellent first person view of his life as a grunt during WWII

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

 

The morning of my departure from Thailand, I set off from my apartment and headed to “FoodLand” for breakfast. I wound my way through the ladies and ladyboys of the morning, noon and night strolling along Soi Nana, still working. They called out to me “Hello papa.” I ignored them. Nana Plaza, the central edifice of the red light district slouched off to my right. The morning light exposing its dinginess.

 

I was mired in the deep depression I always experience just before leaving on a trip. The open front bars with their raised counters directly abutted the sidewalk. Constructed just above pedestrian head level, the counters allow the customers to look over the pedestrians and observe the neighborhood wildlife it all its variety. As I passed one of the establishments, suddenly I felt my hat fly off from my head. I assumed it had been caught on one of the roofs or umbrellas of the vendors carts sharing the sidewalk with me. I immediately spun around looking for it but I could not find it either impaled on a structure or rolling on the ground. Then I looked up at the counter and noticed one of the patrons sitting there clutching my crushed hat and smiling as though he had just won the Nobel Prize. I could not tell if at 8AM this was his first drink of the day or whether he had been rooted there the night before.

 

Irritated, I snatched my hat back.

 

“Hey,” he said, his smile broadening. “It’s only a joke.”

 

“You think its funny,” I responded? “How funny would you think it would be if I took that drink sitting there at your elbow and dumped it on your head?” “It would be pretty funny to me,” I added.

 

“Hey, hey now, no need to get angry. It was a joke.”

 

Having raised the drink dumping issue, I could feel the itching in my fingers urging me to carry out the threat, not because I was particularly angry, but because I was intrigued at its cinematography. I could visualize the you-tube video going viral. Alas, discretion prevailed and I just walked off.

 

By the time I had gone a few steps, I began to feel like crap. Why couldn’t I have just smiled and went on my way? I felt as though I had just made the world a little bit darker. It did not help lighten my mood.

 

Foodland where I had breakfast, is one of my favorite places to eat in BKK. It is a counter service restaurant in a supermarket. Not only is it the least expensive food in the neighborhood other then from the sidewalk carts, but it serves both Thai and western meals (e.g., Ham Steak, American Breakfasts and the like).

 

After breakfast, I stood outside and waited, along with the supermarket clerks, LM and a few others, for the monk who comes by every morning at about this time with his begging bowl. He eventually arrived and collected enough food to open a small grocery store. It filled two large trash bags and two standers-by were pressed in to service to help him carry it off. He sat on a stool someone had found for him and everyone but me got down on their knees. One of the woman tugged at me to kneel also. I refused. There was no way I was going to kneel on one of BKK’s dog-shit-and-god-knows-what-else covered sidewalks. I bowed my head instead. The monk chanted briefly and then waved his hand over the tiny mob of kneeling woman with a bowing farang in their midst. I assumed that was the blessing since is was a lot like what I see the Pope do on television on Easter Sunday when he blesses the throngs kneeling on the pigeon-shit-and-god-knows-whatever-else lined the pavements at the Vatican. My mood lightened after the benediction. I sort of convinced myself it was auspicious for my trip.

 

On the way back to the apartment I was sniffling a-lot. In addition to depression, I also usually come down with some malady or another when I travel. Noticing my sniffles LM said that in Thailand sniffles are impolite. Actually what happened was that she mimed sniffling and said “In Thailand, not polite.” She then demonstrated Thai style politeness in that circumstance by walking to the curb, delicately depressing one of her nostrils with a finger and blowing a luggie into the street. “That is how you do it in Thailand,” she added unnecessarily.

 

I considered entertaining a discussion on intercultural social mores, but decided against it. Went back to the apt., finished packing and left for the airport.

 

While in that semi-comatose state one often finds oneself in while waiting to board the plane, it struck me that this was probably as good a day as any to leave BANGKOK.

 

During the flight, I tried to mitigate the discomfort of a 12 hour flight in a center seat, by holding my own Woody Allan film festival gleaned from out of the airlines selection of in-flight entertainment. Although I find all off Allan’s movies delightful, I could not help but conclude that they all seem to be about wealthy people with too much time on their hands and too much Valium in their blood streams. Allen’s oeuvre could probably be entitled: “Stoned without Consequences.”

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

 

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

Creation myth update #3: Maybe we are not in Mr Rogers’ neighborhood anymore Toto, part II.

 

When observing a lion and a giraffe, it is pretty easy to tell that they are separate species, they look different and they behave different. Even when they look somewhat alike for example a lion, cheetah or a leopard one quickly notices enough behavioral differences to conclude that they were different species. Sometimes, however, it takes a long time and a lot of observation before differences between animal species are recognized, especially if they look alike. So it is with the two species of Chimpanzee (Genus: Pan), the Common Chimpanzee (Species: troglodytes) and the Bonobo (Species: paniscus). The Chimps were “discovered” by people living outside of Africa about the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, yet it was not until the middle of the Twentieth Century that those who study this sort of thing realized that troglodytes was not paniscus. It took decades of constant observation thereafter to recognize how different their behaviors really were.

 

Bonobo

Bonobo (Photo credit: Fat Steel Panda)

 

 

 

One reason for this difficulty in recognizing the chimp – bonobo difference, is that, among the “Great Apes” (e.g, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, us, and the now extinct early Hominids that we met on our travels out of Africa) although we may not look alike, we do spend most of their days pretty much alike. We all sleep, eat, pick our noses and examine what’s hanging from our finger-tip, sit and stare in the distance, belch and fart, defecate and throw our feces at each other, have sex, scratch, poke sticks into termite nests, examine what comes out attached to the stick for a while then lick it off (like licking an ice cream cone), scratch, sit and stare some more, go about our business getting something to eat, and so on: you know, same old same old.

 

Chimpanzee. Taken at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Chimpanzee. Taken at the Los Angeles Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Although, to a significant extent, we can tell the difference between many of the Great Ape species easily by how they look and things like that; arboreal or terrestrial, big or small, hairy or less so and so on, not so with chimps and bonobos. Not only do they look a lot alike but at first it was assumed they behaved the same. Then one day some scientists, who had probably spent a good part of their lives in the bush, noticed that now and then groups of male chimps would go out a kill one or two other chimps for fun or would patrol boundaries of their territory and kill any chimp from another tribe that wandered in. The scientists then tried to determine if this was an aberration or a regular behavior pattern. Finding it to be something that chimps often do, they then decided to see if bonobo’s did the same thing. Armed with the results of their studies on this and other behavioral oddities of the chimps, scientists spent decades with Bonobo’s looking for similar behavior.

 

They were surprised. Instead of killing those of their own kind they did not like, the bonobos engaged in every conceivable sexual perversion imaginable with just about anyone who came along as a means, the researchers reasoned, to avoid conflict (that it may have been smarter and a lot more fun, never seemed to enter the researchers minds.) Included among the milder examples of the bonobo’s lascivious behavior was the practice of rubbing each others genitals just to say hello. I imagine approaching someone and rubbing his or her genitals, in human society would not be considered a friendly act nor would it reduce aggression. More the worse for us.

 

So there you have it. Two species of Ape looking a lot alike and most of the time behaving a lot alike but when it came to dealing with others, responding quite differently. One aggressive and territorial and the other not so. One believing in “make love not war,” and the other in “Fuck you, its mine.” One more like us and the other more like we would like to be. Perhaps it is this conflict in self-image that has prompted the dichotomy within humans that has caused them so much pain over the ages.

 

I suspect that when our ancestors moved into Eurasia, although they more or less physically resembled the Hominids already there, they behaved differently in a lot of ways. Our ancestors may have behaved more chimp-like and those already living there more like bonobos.

 

This does not mean that the existing hominids were passive and did not engage in violence even savage violence but only that it was, in general, manifested differently. If one were to try to take the food from the mouth a bonobo, I suspect he would fight you just as savagely as a chimp would. Also, it does not mean that chimps and Homo Sap Saps spend their days killing or dreaming about killing members of their own species. It only means that they had predilections in many things, reactions to stimuli one can say, by which they conducted their lives that affected how they behaved toward each other and those they considered not members of their tribe. For example I suspect for the earlier hominids violence was limited primarily to the hunt and at direct threats while Sap Sap, like the chimps, saw territorial issues and group membership as perhaps more significant.

 

In addition there appeared to be another archeological clue that may demonstrate a fundamental social and behavioral difference between the earlier species and the newer migrating hominids. Archeological, anthropological and genetic evidence, such as found in the Denisova cave seem to show that the pre HSS hominid’s of different species would at times live together and, as indicated above, fewer remains showed intra or inter-species violence among other hominids than they showed inter-species violence among HSS. Also the inhabited caves seems to be a lack of evidence of HSS occupation at the same time as the other Hominids, before or after perhaps but rarely, as far as can be determined, at the same time.

 

Also related to this seeming aversion or clannishness among the new arrivals, it appears that the earlier hominids easily trekked back and forth through each others territory without too much of a problem. There is even evidence that some of them were able to return to Africa now and then. On the other hand, HSS almost never backtracked. It was almost 20,000 years of migration before they began to intrude into territory they had previously passed through. I suspect, one of the reasons for this reticence was that, as they knew they, their long-lost cousins would, chimp like, view them as enemies and try to drive them away or kill them.

 

Although analogy is a poor form of proof, it sometime is helpful in making things clearer although alas at other times unfortunately muddling everything up. With that caveat, consider the lion with her kill. Just as she sits down to snack on the gazelle she killed she looks up and sees a pack of jackals or hyena’s inching in. She smacks at one and they scatter. Unlike, her experience with other lions who once she establishes dominance would move off to find something else to eat that did not require a fight, these scavengers stay and stare, saliva dripping from their teeth ready to rush in and grab something if she is distracted for a moment. Often, the lion, instead of enjoying its meal, is so disturbed it abandons its kill and moves off. Scavengers and pack predators behave like that. Even if the lion remembers the event and moves off to hunt somewhere other than where she met the hyenas, she would soon find that implacably they followed her.

 

At the risk of over simplification, I believe our ancestors most likely behaved more like a mix of pack predator and committed scavenger, perhaps resembling a wolf pack of a biker gang as much as anything else. The other hominids, however, although they also most likely scavenged for a significant portion of their diet, more resembled predators like the lions, in their behavior and attitudes.

 

I imagine, those hominids to be somewhat like the gentle giants we all are familiar with. The football player who while he it doing his job during the game does it with shocking savagery but after the game is gentle as can be, avoids confrontation at all costs but if challenged or cornered reacts at though he were back playing the game. Sort of like Lenny in Of Mice and Men or Frankenstein’s Monster capable of great violence but generally avoiding it unless necessary for his job. And if a mistake occurs and someone is unintentionally killed well it is regrettable. He feels sad perhaps also feels sad for the others who have lost someone, but it has happened and cannot be undone so he is prepared, maybe even with heavy heart, to get on with his life. Imagine his uncomprehending surprise, when he is faced with a mob of weak and puny creatures with pitchforks and torches out to murder him for something that could not be changed.

 

Next: Creation myth update #3: Maybe we are not in Mr Rogers’ neighborhood anymore Toto, part III: Meet the new Neighbors.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

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

 

1. Social Security recipients do not owe the US for its largess, the US owes Social Security recipients for taking our money.

 

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What is unclear to me is why do Republicans and conservatives want to take away the money that I put into my social security account for my retirement and use it to pay off Chinese bond holders? Our social security distributions are “earned benefits,” not entitlements.

For that matter, why did Republicans and conservatives take my money from out of the Social Security Trust Fund into which I placed it in trust for my future and use it in order to fund a war instead of taxing the working public at that time and now refuse to give it back to me?

Also why is it that I, who placed my money into the trust fund for my future, am accused by Republicans and conservatives to be a “taker” while those “workforce dependent” individuals refusing to pay their share of the general obligations of society are referred to as, “job creators?”

And, why do Republicans and conservatives seem so committed to not paying me back for what they borrowed from my retirement account without my consent but appear so eager to see everyone else paid back who voluntary lent money to the government? Could it have something to do with those “unelected legislators” otherwise known as corporate lobbyists?

 

2. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem.”
Ezra Klein, Washington Post.

 

defense-spending-hills

 

“Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”
     Brad Plummer, Washington Post

 

The only government that today appears truly out of control or more accurately a poor return on “taxpayer investment” seems to be military spending. Republicans actually want to increase that spending while cutting other (as yet unspecified) portions of the budget. Does anyone believe that their position has anything to do with national defense? Would anyone really feel less safe if we reduced defense spending to what it was before the Iran/Afghanistan conflicts began now that those wars are effectively over? Does everyone understand that cutting the defense budget by $100 billion a year, leaving it still with a budget 1/3 larger than before those wars, will effectively eliminate the budget deficit?

 

B. Live Blogging from World War II: Russell Braddon on the Burma Railroad.

 

“Once again time ceased to have any significance, for almost a year no man knew what day of the week nor what week of the month nor even what month of the year it was. It was just 1943 and the Railway. If one were to survive it was essential not to acknowledge the horror that lay all around, still more not to perceive the effect it had upon oneself. It was not wise ever to look in a mirror.

 

Life accordingly evolved into a blur of continuous work, people dying, guards bellowing, heavy loads to be carried, fever which came in tides of heat and cold on alternate days, dysentery and hunger. All those became the normal. Upon them, occasionally, an event super-imposed itself with sufficient violence to be remembered. There was little scope for planning one’s way of life. To preserve my health, I vowed to wash whenever it rained, lying under the dripping edge of the hut, and to clean my teeth every day, using the tooth-brush Piddington had given me and ground-up charcoal for powder.

 

Charcoal was also useful as a medicine against dysentery. To preserve some dignity, I vowed I would shave at least once a week if only I could remember the days. To preserve my self-respect, I vowed that whenever necessary I would make the latrines or bust; and to preserve at least some mental agility, I determined to learn off by heart one page a day of Mr Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

 

As the days succeeded one another for the rest of that black year, this particular vow became increasingly difficult, but I managed never to yield to the temptation of excusing myself from my task – and in return derived a perverse pleasure from the daily assimilation of so much vile prose.”

 

C. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter five: At the airport with no place to go – Part 4):

 

“No,” I shouted, hysteria overcoming any sense of decorum and common sense I had left. “You do not understand, I am not going anywhere today.” I then explained my story once again and handed the little slip of paper to him.

 

He looked at it, nodded, got up and went over to his office mate, a slightly older uniformed man with a little more braid. They talked, looked over at me, ten leafed through my passports and talked some more. Finally, the younger man turned to me, handed back my passports and said, “Immigration, second floor.”

 

“But, but,” I spluttered. “The man at downtown immigration said airport fourth floor. See he wrote it down here.” I offered him the slip of paper.

 

He did not take it, but repeated more firmly this time, “second floor immigration.”

 

Sensing defeat, I pleaded, “How do I find it? What if they send me back up here again?”

 

“I will take you,” he responded.

 

Somewhat relieved I followed him back through the offices, past the customs officers through security and then across the building to a bank of elevators. I got in the elevator. He reached in. Pressed the button for #2 and quickly walked away as the doors closed on me.

 

The elevator did not stop at the second floor.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

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What amazes me is that were I to show this quote to todays crop of conservatives or members of the modern Republican Party or those ditto-heads who email me things from Limbaugh and other right-wing noise makers they consider clever or insightful, they would shoot back that I was merely a lock-step liberal from San Francisco.

In fact, what these people do not recognize or understand is that most of those Americans they smugly and ignorantly accuse as being liberals are basically good old traditional Republicans and conservatives. It is they, those who like Limbaugh and his cronies scream the loudest about the state of American society, who are neither conservative nor Republican. What they are are radical anarchists and haters of America.

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 

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Bangkok – River Scene

 

 

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joseph 0002 (January 7, 2013)

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Preparing for departure on a trip is a dead time in one’s life.

Cordt arrived in town last night interrupting the tedium for a few hours. He invited me to have dinner with him and Scott. Scott, originally from the Bay Area, now lives in BKK and works as an executive for the Bangkok Post the main english language newspaper in Thailand. Scott was SWAC’s first husband, but now is happily married to another Thai woman and has two daughters.

LM and I joined them for dinner at a place called Bourbon Street, a restaurant that features Cajun food. I ordered blackened catfish that although it was quite good was neither blackened nor catfish.

Bourbon Street was originally in a section of BKK called “Washington Square.” During the Vietnam war that area had been favored by the CIA and Air-America operatives. Both Scott and I knew a number of these aging spooks and soldiers of fortune who still live around there. They are slowly dying off now and taking their stories with them.

Later we went up to the top floor lounge where we had a drink and talked a lot about music. Both Scott and Cordt are accomplished musicians who had played with professional bands now and then during their past lives.

After drinks, Scott and Cordt wanted to see one of the cabaret type sex shows at Nana Plaza, the red-light entertainment district near my apartment. LM and I joined them.

The show itself was a pale copy of what could be found in any stripper joint in the US. A few simulated sex acts followed by the meat-market of go-go dancers staring at themselves in the mirror as they slithered around the poles. There were no darts puncturing balloons on the walls, ping-pong balls shot into the upper galleries, razor blades, frogs and similar things appearing from where they should not be and no Marlboro smoking vaginas. The management seemed to have chosen performers who had not yet had breast implementation surgery so they all looked like long-haired pre-adolescent boys in bathing suits. Scott and Cordt called one of the women over to sit with us. She was very pleasant and mostly naked. I wondered if it was easier or more difficult to be pleasant when one was naked. LM and I left soon thereafter and returned to the apartment where I continued on with my departure preparations before retiring for the night.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Soap Opera madness.

A new scandal in Thailand has erupted over cancellation of a popular soap opera on Thai television. The soap was about a likable, incorruptible Prime Minister and his exceptionally corrupt deputy. No one knows for sure why the show was cancelled beyond vague whisperings from the station hosting the show that there were political considerations involved in the decision. Representatives of the minority political party have alleged that the deposed fugitive prime minister living in exile, Thaksin the Terrible, was behind the cancellation. Spokespersons for the deposed fugitive ex-prime minister living in exile responded that he does not own a television that gets the soap opera where he currently resides and that he would never watch it anyway.

2. Saving the Environment.

In other news several, several officials of the Thai governmental agency responsible for forestry, resources and the environment have been reassigned to other posts after their wives complained that they were keeping mistresses, sometimes as many as three or four. When agency representatives offered to fire the errant husbands, the wives objected. It seems they did not want to lose their livelihood but only to remove their spouses from their current temptations and one would assume, extra-marital expense obligations.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Creation myth update #3: Maybe we are not in Mr Rogers’ neighborhood anymore Toto.

Before returning to the story about the genetic history of humanity described in some of the recently published books on the subject I have read during the past few months, I thought a slight detour would be appropriate.

While most people who study the subject generally agree that a small group of anatomically modern humans, probably about 20 or so, left Africa sometime between 60,000 to 45,000 years ago and populated the rest of the planet, for many years it was assumed that except for an odd Neanderthal or two, the world outside of Africa was unpopulated allowing Homo Sapiens Sapiens to walk in and take control of the vast open spaces of the earth. After all, the only creatures that walk upright, use tools and talk on earth today are we Homo Sap Saps.

Alas, recent paleontological and genetic discoveries seem to indicate that the huge landmass called Eurasia was chock full of upright walking, tool using, trash talking hominids most of whom were bigger and stronger than the puny creatures that made up that forlorn little band containing the ancestors of most of us that had left Africa about 50,000 years ago.As far as can be determined by anthropological, paleontological and genetic discoveries so far, our band of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Very very smart people) faced not only Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Denisovians who we discussed last chapter, but also Homo Erectus (upright people), Homo floresiensis (sometimes referred to as the “Hobbits”), maybe a few Homo heidelbergensis (people from Heidelberg who auditioned for “The Student Prince” and have scars on their cheeks.) and possibly others we do not know about yetThat is a lot of people whose neighborhoods H Sap Sap was about to invade. Some of them like the Neanderthals and the Denisovans had larger cranial capacity (bigger heads) than HSS and may very well have been smarter. They all could speak, use fire and appear to have developed languages. Also they all used tools similar to those used by HSS and lived in small hunter-gatherer groups. Finally, except for the Hobbits which were pygmies living in Indonesia, they all were larger and a heck of a lot stronger than Sap Sap. Here is a comparison between a Neanderthal skeleton and a fully modern human one:

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Neanderthal skeleton on the left and modern human on the right.

Neanderthals had massive, broad shoulders, about 8% larger than their modern human contemporaries. Their pec muscles were enormous, up to twice the size of today’s average human. Neanderthals had shorter, wider muscular upper arms. The bones in their forearms were actually bowed from muscles that must have powered a grip that could crush stone. Neanderthal fingers and thumbs had upwards of twice the strength of modern humans. All of this upper body musculature was anchored on a solid foundation of massive quads that specialized in explosive power and side-to-side movement. Neanderthals were probably better at throwing than their modern contemporaries (It has been suggested that some Neanderthals escaped extinction and have been recruited by professional football and rugby teams around the world).

So, given that they were bigger, stronger, perhaps even brighter than our ancestors and possessed comparable technology, how did our ancestors manage to get rid of them all and take over the world?

Some theorized we dazzled them with our technology. The problem with that is we all began with about the same technology – rocks. At some point we made our rocks a little sharper edged than they did with their rocks, which some argue shows that we were really smarter than they were. On the other hand, our ancestors initially lived by combing the beaches where they probably used shells for scraping and cutting things. The edges of shells are pretty sharp. It is just as likely that we were used to sharper tools and formed the edges of appropriate rocks to mimic them. There is no need to postulate an act of genus when most people in fact try to hold on to favored technologies as long as they can. In any event, the neanderthals adopted the new technology pretty quickly anyway. And, certainly simply wielding a sharper edged stone tool was not going to make the difference in a fight with someone who was capable of bringing down a giant mastodon armed only with a rock and who could break your bones with his bare hands.

Some others say we were physically better able to handle the extreme climate changes of the time. Unfortunately for this theory, these various hominids had been dealing successfully with even greater climate shifts for hundreds of thousands of years before they ran into HSS.

Another theory is that we out-competed them for food. This makes no sense to me because if we killed all the game we would die also.

There must have been other reasons why the last few of the Neanderthals ended up reduced to sitting in a cave in Gibraltar chewing on uncooked seal meat waiting patiently to expire as a species.

The guests are gone from the pavilion high,
In the small garden flowers are whirling around.
Along the winding path the petals lie;
To greet the setting sun, they drift up from the ground.

Heartbroken, I cannot bear to sweep them away;
From my eyes, spring soon disappears.
I pine with passing, heart’s desire lost for aye;
Nothing is left but a robe stained with tears.
     Li Shang-Yin, ninth century BCE

Consider this, although the remains of the other early hominids often show broken bones and other injuries from their incredibly hard and difficult lives, it is rare that their remains are discovered with their head crushed in with a rock, or with a spear point up its rectum or tied up, beaten with clubs and thrown into a bog like is only too often found among human remains.

I think perhaps at least part of the answer, lies in understanding the difference between our nearest non-hominid cousins the chimpanzees (pan troglodytes) and the bonobos (pan paniscus). The bonobos are a pretty peace-loving, although by even human standards a stunningly over-sexed, species. The chimpanzees, on the other hand, seem to be the only species other than HSS who kill for the hell of it.

Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground –
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.
     Minamoto Yorimasa, 1104-1180

(Part 2 of Mister Rogers Neighborhood to be included in next post.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Joe Montana could have become my friend:

I, and I assume others when they reach my age, sometime think back over our lives and speculate about what may have been or what it is we really regret. With me there are many things such as the death of loved ones or pain I have caused others that bring me sadness or fill me with remorse. But, in almost all of them, although I wish they never happened, I do not see how avoiding or reversing them would have altered my life all that much. There was, however, one event I recall that I am convinced may have made a difference.

It was during the early Nineties. I was visiting Rome Italy and it was as hot as it gets in that town towards the end of Summer. The city was mostly deserted, the Romans had left town for their annual holiday at the seashore and most tourists remained in their air-conditioned hotel rooms awaiting the cooler temperatures of evening. I was standing in line with my then wife Denise to buy tickets to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman Forum. There was only one other group ahead of us braving the burning sun; a family made up of man and a women with four strikingly blond pre-adolescent children in tow. The woman was about six feet tall, also blond and movie star attractive. The man was even taller, sandy-haired and athletic looking. Suddenly I recognized him. It was Joe Montana, the legendary American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. I guess you can say I was gobsmacked to see him there in Rome standing so close to me.

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In addition to the victories and the statistical records that most sports aficionados use to judge excellence and without which all else is almost irrelevant, what I admired most about Montana was his preternatural grace and his gamblers instincts. I recall once watching him play in one of the Superbowls, he had just thrown a pass that the receiver eventually caught for a touchdown. Nevertheless, it was not the touchdown but the fluidity with which Joe leapt into the air and threw the ball that enthralled me. He was every bit as graceful as a ballet dancer; not tutus and en pointe ballet graceful but something more masculine and forceful.

I used to attend performance of the New York City Ballet when I lived in the Big Apple. The principle male dancer at that time was, Jacques d’Amboise. When standing at rest on the stage he looked a lot like a champion body builder after he had just put down his barbels. When, however, he moved it was as smooth, graceful and beautiful as drops or water slowly dancing in the sunlight. Balanchine, the choreographer for the Company then, believed that the male ballet dancer was little more than a mobile post upon which the ballerina was displayed, exalted in all her lithe sensuous feminine glory. Nevertheless, when d’Ambiose lifted his partner up and carried her across the stage everything else on that stage disappeared except the image of his power and grace. So it was for me with Montana on that pass. I felt as though I had achieved satori. Everything else on the field dissolved from view but Joe when, as though in slow motion, he pushed off with one leg, rose into the air and in perfect synchronicity arced his arm across his body as he released the ball.

His gamblers instincts were not those of a risk-taker but of someone who knew the probabilities and above all the psychology of the game. At one time during an interview, I recall him describing a drive, probably in one or another of the Superbowls. He said something like, “I was driving them crazy, dinking and dunking (throwing short passes for 3 or 4 yards) them here and there, until they began to lean forward and inch in eager to stop what we were doing, and then I threw it over their heads for a touchdown.”

“He possessed an almost mystical calmness in the midst of chaos, especially with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. While others saw turmoil and danger after the snap, Montana saw order and opportunity. He was Joe Cool, the unflappable king of the comeback.”
     Larry Schwartz, ESPN

So there he was, in Rome, that day, standing about a foot away from me. One part of me, delirious with excitement, wanting to say something, something like “Joe! Joe Montana, what are you doing here in Rome?” while another part terrorized me into silence at the realization of how stupid that sounded and how embarrassed I would feel after saying it – especially if he ignored me.

I thought about mentioning to Denise that Joe Montana stood in the line in front of us. Denise was a woman of legendary assertiveness with a tongue as sharp as the edge of a Samurai’s sword. Although she would not have known Joe Montana from Bozo the Clown, she was much more likely than me to strike up a conversation, lacking the shyness that comes with awe and idol worship that I was feeling. Alas, I could see that she was already annoyed at how long it was taking them to buy their tickets and well on her way to flinging some insult at them as only she could. So, I hesitated saying anything fearing that she would offend them and I would lose my opportunity to meet Joe and maybe become his friend.

They eventually got their tickets and passed through the gate into the Forum. We got ours and followed. Right behind the gate we came upon them again. The children were sprawled on various broken bits of Roman History complaining bitterly, as children often do, about the heat and whining about why they had to be here and not back in the hotel at the pool. I could see that Joe Cool was at the edge of losing the legendary calmness that allowed him to bring Notre Dame from 22 points back in the fourth quarter to win in the Cotton Bowl. He snapped back at them, probably a lot like any other parent in a similar situation would when being harassed by whining children “You can’t. You have to learn about culture. There is a lot of culture here.”

I knew that I could step in and help out. Over the years I virtually haunted the Forum. I knew more about it than any guide. I knew the history, the gossip, even what was traded in the market that was set up in the swamp between the hill the future rulers of the world lived on in somewhat upgraded caves and the larger hill on which the more respectable Sabines resided and from whom their wives and daughters were reputed to have been carried away by the Romans in the dead of night and upon the fecundity of those stolen wives and daughters built an empire. I had crawled into places few are allowed to go or for that matter ever went or even would want to go. I knew which toilets were the cleanest. I knew where to find shade and the location of the coolest water. I knew I could keep the children entertained and enthralled and that Joe and his wife would like that and we might become friends.

I imagined that since I had lived in Rome for a few years and knew interesting places to go and appealing places to eat that Joe and his wife would never otherwise know about or go to, we could go out some evening and have dinner together. I knew that Denise with her bottomless reservoir of humor and behavioral oddities would amuse them and we would become friends.

But I did not do anything. I just stood there. Then Denise irritably called out, “Hurry up, its hot.” and I went on. For a while, as we made our way through the rubble of an empire, I would see them prowling through other parts of the ruins. Then they were gone.

Since that day, now and then, I think about what could have been. Even as I write this now, I am convinced that if Joe Montana had become my my friend, my life might somehow have been better, happier even. Some of my other friends might even have become jealous. I would have liked that.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Reader’s comments:

I am always pleased to transmit something interesting written or said by one of my “This and that…” correspondents. The following briefly discusses a book about Winston Churchill. On the whole, I am not as big a fan of the bigoted, overweight, cigar smoking, alcoholic, trust fund baby as are many, but even I must agree that it is doubtful that anyone else in England at that time would have been so cocky and self-assured as to be able to lead the world through those very, very dark days. The interesting thing about the piece is its take on Hitler’s potential winning hand and Churchill’s role as the little boy with his finger in the hole in the dike:

“I’m reading the third volume of “The Last Lion” “Defender of the Realm” Paul Reid’s (filling in for William Manchester) biography of Churchill 1940-1965.

Now there was a man who had absolutely no reason to win, no logical way out; but win he did. He did it by surviving just long enough to allow his enemies to make stupid mistakes: invade Russia (Hitler) attack the US (Japan) and, of all things declare unprovoked war on the US (Hitler).

The biography makes clear that had Hitler turned south (not stopping in Greece but on to Suez and Persia) in 1941, rather than east (Russia), he would have dismembered the British Empire and cut off the Home Islands from the Dominions and India, leaving Britain a ruined hulk, to which America might have had great pity, but was in no mood to go to war for.

Had he done that he could have persuaded Japan to attack, not Pearl Harbor, but Singapore and Bombay, grabbing all the resources Japan needed and avoid war with the US. It was a flat-out winning hand which Hitler’s Admirals, and Army General Staff pleaded with him to do. Why, pray tell , didn’t he do it. Because he was really only a talented huckster, with no real strategic sense and a WW I enlisted man’s brain, able to comprehend only land war against those he, in his deranged mind, saw as inferior beasts not capable of beating the great Germanic race.

The human race really lucked out, (like in the Cuban Missile Crisis) one more time.

I’m struck by the sheer luck of the draw that Churchill was there to plug the dike long enough for fate to take its course. Kennedy was there to prevent Curtis Le May from launching Armageddon. There must be a God. But if the Pope is not his vicar on earth (which he clearly isn’t), Churchill and Kennedy certainly were. I really do wonder about “The Force” in large human affairs.”

The above was sent to me by Terry Goggin. In addition to serving in the California State Legislature, Terry also was an instructor at West Point in military history and the role of politics in military affairs and has written a book on the same. He is now a restaurateur in Manhattan.

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

1. Milton Friedman is a poo-poo head.

18209_361004763995038_650580507_n

Although the above is a blatant oversimplification, grossly misleading and proof that liberals can be as superficial as conservatives, I post it here only because it allows me to bring up a rant about Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman is the economist who popularized what is sometimes referred to as conservative economics. He was trained as an actuary which perhaps explains his inability to recognize human motivation and social aspiration as a factor in economic analyses, If Friedman were alive, I suspect that, as I have seen him do in similar situations, he would insist that the impulse behind the actions of both individuals in the above graphic was the same: self-interest and greed. Gates did what he did only because it made him feel good and therefore Friedman would argue was simply another form of greed. That he was unable to recognize the difference, in my opinion, even though he clearly made significant contributions to statistical analysis in economics, it still puts Friedman right up there among the greater malefactors in human history.

2. Republicans and European Austerians are dead wrong on the economy

In the International Monetary Fund working paper entitled “Growth Forecast Errors and Fiscal Multipliers,” Messrs. Blanchard and Leigh calculate IMF and European economists underestimated the euro-for-euro effect of cutting government budgets. While economists expected that cutting a euro from the budget would cost around 50 cents in lost growth, the actual impact was more like 1.50 per euro.

What I believe this means is that by cutting government budgets so that the rate of return expectations for financial institutions like banks are preserved reduces the amount of money in the economy available for the rest of us by a factor of three to one. In other words, the only reason to cut governmental budgets in this economic environment was to preserve confidence in the financial community that they would receive 100% of their expected profits when those debts become due. The cost of that assurance required the rest of us to earn less money now by a factor of three to one in favor of the banksters’. Or to put it a third way, in return for something that produced nothing other than a feeling of confidence among bond holders a lot of the rest of us had to lose our jobs.

C. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter five: At the airport with no place to go – Part 3):

So, I followed her, ever hopeful that this time it would all work out. She led me to Airport security. After I passed through the usual minor strip-search, I looked around for the woman. She was gone leaving me confused about what I was supposed to do next. I decided approaching the two uniformed passport officers I had seen her speaking with was the most reasonable thing to do.

I walked over to the counter they sat behind. Told them my story while waving around the increasingly wrinkled, sweat stained and forlorn piece of paper. I handed them my passports. They leafed through them knowingly. Spoke to each other. Then looked over at me and spoke to each other again. Finally one of them took possession of the passports turned towards me and told me that he would handle it. I was elated.

“Give me your boarding pass,” he demanded. I plunged into depression. With my voice rising with my hysteria I said, “No, no you do not understand” and I began to tell my story again and wave the little piece of paper around, at which point a younger man in a darker uniform with a bit more ribbons and braid arrived. Spoke to the passport officer. I repeated my story again and showed him the piece of paper.

“No problem,” he said. “Come with me

I followed him through the passport review post and into an office that contained two desks behind one sat a similarly uniformed officer and behind the other he sat down. He leafed through the passports. Just to be sure, I explained everything again and showed him the piece of paper one more time. “No Problem,” he smiled and turned to fiddle a bit with his computer. My happiness level began to rise one more time.

Finally he finished whatever he was doing, satisfied he turned to me and asked, “Now where is it you are traveling to today?”

(Unfortunately, to be continued.)

D. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

His Story – Her Story:

Ruth pointed out that in the 1970’s “Herstory” was a common term in Woman’s Studies programs and the like. I explained, “Alas, the Her Story boomlet of the 1970’s, like so much of the optimism of that happy and somewhat stoned time, was crushed in the reaction of the 1980’s that, as we know, swept even some of those closest to us into darkness once again.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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TODAY’S POEM:

“The pipes of our organs are broken
Our harps have lost their strings that were tuned
That might have made the great lamentations of Ireland
Until the strong men come back across the sea
There is no help for us but bitter crying,
Screams, and beating of hands, and calling out.”
     Lament written by an Irish Priest during the “Time of Troubles.”
TODAY’S CHART:

Fig.A.lrg

The issue of wether recent climate changes have shown a marked warming trend or whether human activities have have had a significant effect on them is well settled. It is true, however, that so called “natural” influences on climate have been going on ever since the earths atmosphere was formed. Since humans have been on earth they have had at times a moderating influence of these natural variations, making their effects a little better or a little worse, usually in a particular local setting. For example, if there were a “natural” dry period causing increased desertification in a particular locality and humans overgrazed on the margins of the desert thereby increasing it, it could be said the humans made the climate induced desertification worse.

In about 1950-60 this all began to change. Human influence on the climate at least in so far as its accelerating warming trend began to dominate the changes and any “natural” influences essentially only moderating effects. It is for this reason that those who, for one reason or another, oppose any conclusion that human induced climate change exists, are able to point to periodic “natural” events that halt or even for a brief time reverse the general trend of escalating global temperatures as evidence that the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion regarding climate change is wrong.

For example, I have seen it asserted in emails from several of the usual suspects and in various anti-climate-change blogs, that from 1940 to almost 1980 world temperatures actually declined therefore global warming is a myth. Similarly, I seen it argued that from about 1980 to 1997 the rate of increase was slowing down. Alas, many people accepted those assertions at face value having nothing to go on but the naïve belief that the person making the claim would not lie to them.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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I am not generally a fan of Feinstein. I have had too many dealings with her to be so. But on this issue, banning assault weapons, she has, for almost 20 years, not only been right but consistent and forceful.

 

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Joseph 0002 (January 4, 2013)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. Pookie’s new blog?

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

Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog “A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?”

Everyone I assume is familiar with history. History is “His Story,” the songs and stories men tell to themselves, about themselves and for themselves. His Story probably began about 50,000 years or so ago when the biggest dickhead in town turned to the skinny smart guy and said,”Sing a song about me or I will push your face into the bottom of the campfire.” And so it has been ever since.

Of course women have songs and stories too, but men never seem to have gotten around to remembering very many of them or writing them down.

Did you ever wonder why, in the few cases where the His Storians got around to retelling a woman’s story or song, say like Catherine the Great or Boadicea’s, they sound a little incredulous. Like, “No shit! She did that? Wow.”

It never ceases to amaze me that we men, who happily can sit around the campfire getting drunk and stoned, contemplating raping one or more of the women in the band while recalling with pleasure killing a shitload of humans or other animals earlier in the day, rarely if ever seem to realize that some of the women simply do not get it. That is why we men are all so surprised when every hundred years or so some woman gets pissed off when she recognizes what had been done to her and wrecks havoc in retribution.

2. Travel Plans:

I plan to leave Bangkok and return to the US on January 11th. I will remain mostly in El Dorado Hills taking care of Hayden. SWAC is planning to return to Thailand the same day that I depart. I expect to remain in the US until at least March 11, a few days after Hayden’s eighth birthday.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. That explains a lot.

The Bangkok Post reported recently a study that revealed almost 40% of Thai males between the ages of 40 and 70 are impotent a lot of the time.

2. Lead.

It has been reported by Mother Jones Magazine and in several scientific journals, that one of the major reasons for the dramatic drop in US crime rates since the early 1970’s has been the removal of lead from gasoline. It seems that even slight traces of lead cause significant damage to children’s brains.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Creation myth update #2: Something new lurks in the bushes:

A few days ago, while rooting around in the bowels of the internet, I was surprised to discover that it is true that science never sleeps. After the five or so books I had read on the subject written in the past three years had been published or were in galley or proof, too late for the authors self-congratulatory words to be changed, a few new discoveries regarding the genetic history of humanity emerged that if not throwing everything into a tizzy and least has left a lot of people bemused.

During the latter portion of 2010 the genetic code of a finger bone of a female living about 40,000 years ago was unravelled and lo and behold it was discovered that some of it also appears in the genetic structure of our merry band making its way along the coast of Asia on its way to Australia.

Several things make this discovery especially surprising. The first of which was that the lady in question was not human. Well, not human human or Homo Sapiens Sapiens (so named by scientist Carl Linnaeus in a fit of fervent racial superiority, and meaning the “really smart one” as opposed to other Homo sapiens whatevers who are just “pretty smart”) but a hitherto little known group named the Denisovans after the cave in which their remains were found. (We do not know what they will be officially called yet. Perhaps, Homo Sapiens Denisovans or “the pretty smart people who lived in the Denisova cave a long time ago and where we much smarter people found their bones and figured all this out.”) Among the remains in this cave were also found those of Neanderthals and Neanderthal-Denisovan hybrids. Eventually, after the others had left, humans found their way there and for the last 20,000 years or so have kept coming back.

Denisova

Denisova cave complete with tourists

This seemingly lusty group had other surprises in store. One of which is that this love cave is in the Altai Mountains in Southeastern Russia, a long way away from the beaches of Southeast Asia where Homo Sap Sap on his way to Australia was lazing his days on the sand eating oysters and drinking Mai-tais. It is a pretty long way to go for recreational sex, if you ask me.

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Someone’s rendering of what a Denisova woman may have looked like. Actually she bears some resemblance to a few of the ladies and ladyboys that currently float around Nana Plaza.

So after a lot of study and thought, it was determined that that part of Russia was about as far as the Denisovans would travel for trysting with the Neanderthals and that they in fact spent most of their time in and around, you guessed it – Thailand, where H sap sap dallied for a while and where the Denisovians contributed their genetic material to a long line of Australians and Melanesians (about 8% of their genetic code).

Around about the same time in 2010, it was also discovered that more or less somewhere in the modern state of Israel, Neanderthals interbred with members of our H Sap Sap ancestors too. (Now I will leave for another time a discussion of whether the insane Sand-god of the Peoples of the Book was actually a Neanderthal rapist. But, I suggest you consider Michelangelo’s depiction of the Creator on the Sistine Ceiling that appears to look a lot like HSN [Homo sapiens neanderthalensis] with his beetle brow, hirsutism and broad muscled upper body.)

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Someone’s idea of what a Neanderthal looked like. Clearly he had many of the physical qualities Michelangelo liked in his men. Equip him with long white hair and beard, dress him in a toga and he could look a lot like God. (Unfortunately he also looks a lot like the photographs of some of my Sicilian relatives.)

All of us, other than Africans and Melanesians, have 1 to 4% Neanderthal genes.

So it seems wherever they went on their beach-side vacation either Mrs. or Miss HSS slipped off into the bushes to spend some quality time with a local. And, after the birth of the somewhat strange-looking offspring, it was all hushed up until it disappeared into family legend only to be eventually revealed by a bunch of nosey scientists.

Now you may think I am being sexist in telling this story. But strangely enough I am not, at least not as much as one would think. According to Professor Dr, Svante Paabo who unraveled the mystery of this ancient interspecies mating:

” So the most reasonable thing is that this was, yes, modern human women with Neanderthal men that were presumably very attractive to them.”

Also, surprisingly, it seems that only HSS females were impregnated. HSS men, if they tried, do not appear to have succeeded.

My sister is coming to me
my heart dances
and I open my arms to her.
My heart is at home
like a fish in its holding tank
O night, be mine forever,
now that my queen has come!
Ancient Egyptian poem (Cairo vase, poem A, #5)

Why did it not work with the men? No one really knows. Perhaps it was merely chance. I believe, however, that the Neanderthals and Denisovans, who were much stronger than the relatively skinny HSS and had larger cranial capacity, simply were more physically or mentally able to resist their approach. Or perhaps, even had HSS males resorted to gang rape, to which I suspect they may have been more accustomed, its sperm may simply have been too puny.

So seize the day! hold holiday!
Be unwearied, unceasing, alive
you and your own true love;
Let not the heart be troubled during your
sojourn on Earth,
but seize the day as it passes!
Ancient Egyptian poem 1160 BC

In any event, it is believed that among the benefits of HSS breeding with Neanderthals and Denisovians is that the latter gave to HSS certain genes that made them immune to a number of diseases. As Dr. Jonica Newby another member of the scientific team that unravelled the gene sequences in these early hominids observed:

“What that means is that sex with Neanderthals and Denisovans helped our ancestors colonize the world. So it looks like our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers took one for the team.”

Note: these interspecies trysts among our ancestors were not a common experience. Apparently, over a period of about 10,000 years or so, they occurred only once or twice in the Near-east and a few more times than that in Southeast Asia.

(to be continued – Next: Maybe we are not in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood anymore Toto.)

DAILY FACTOID:

September 1854: U.S. Senator David R. Atchison (D-MO) and a good Christian in letter to U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis:

“[O]ur people are resolved to go in [to Kansas] and take their niggers with them…. [Within six months we will have] the Devil to play in Kansas… We are organizing. We will be compelled to shoot, burn, and hang, but the thing will soon be over: we intend to “Mormonize” the abolitionists…. In a public speech, I advised the squatters in Kansas and the people of Missouri to give a horse thief, robber, or [murderer] a fair trial, but to hang a Negro thief or abolitionist without judge or jury. This sentiment met with almost universal applause…”

1981: Lee Atwater, one-time chair of the Republican National Committee and member of the Reagan administration:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger’. By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ – that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing [and] states’ rights. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites … obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘nigger, nigger’.”

(It appears as though all that has changed in over the past 160 years in American politics is the name of the political party and nature of their rhetoric. [I am sure you noted that “abolitionist” were the “liberals” of their day.]
I believe these two quotes could just as well open about every discussion that attempts to describe current conservative political philosophy and the positions taken by the modern Republican Party. In other words, one needs to determine if what is being said is a principle or merely a rhetorical subterfuge for a century old racial fear that is no longer politically acceptable to be expressed in its rawest form. After all, Atwater’s approach to political persuasion can be viewed as clearly an advance over Atchison’s.

In these statements, Atchison and Atwater demonstrate the undiminished power fear and hate wield in the contest for political power in the United States. Atwater establishes the efficacy of rhetoric to shield this fear and hate from scrutiny. Rhetoric, like ideas and actions, has consequences.

Those who seek to possess or preserve wealth or power through the political process can rarely gain it in a democratic society unless they can ally themselves with the fears and hates of those in the majority whose economic and social position is more tenuous than theirs.

Although, we can take just about any issue of current political significance to demonstrate how Atwater’s insight works in practice, let’s take a look at gun control:

Does anyone still really believe the gun control debate is about the Constitution, freedom or liberty?

Forget for a moment the influence of a few large gun manufacturers who in one way or another fund the lobbying and public relations activities of the NRA, does anyone believe that gun control regulations will prevent hunters from hunting?

No one, not even the NRA believes that unlimited access to firearms will protect school children from crazy white guys with assault rifles. As unrealistic as it may be, even they propose, highly trained and most likely regulated armed guards as a means to safeguard children while they attend classes.

Would anyone really feel safer if everyone on an airplane carried a gun instead of the occasional trained Air Marshall?

Does anyone believe that our armed forces will suddenly go AWOL thereby allowing a squad of Muslim Al Qaeda terrorists to invade and take over the country? Or even a part of it, like say South Dakota?

Is it believable to conceive even the possibility that the nations domestic public safety apparatus will be commandeered by Barak Obama in order to impose his brand of Bolshevism on the country?

As for protecting ones homes and businesses, there has never been a credible proposal from gun control advocates that would prohibit trained and licensed individuals from access to guns with which to protect their homes and businesses.

So, if it is not about hunting, foreign invasion and domestic revolution or protecting one’s home and business, what is it that has those who oppose any form of gun control so frightened of that they no longer trust the police to assure public safety?

Criminals?

Violent crime, has been decreasing in the US and, outside of the South, localized in most part to a few large cities. The vast majority of crimes of violence are domestic squabbles exacerbated by access to guns [especially in the South where they seem to kill and maim their spouses and relatives with shockingly more regularity than people in the rest of the country].

How about, nigger, nigger, nigger or spic, spic spic?

Freedom, liberty, anti-terrorism, public safety and protection from criminals, are they abstract enough for you?

Note: Now before those reading this consider it simply to be another rant of mine against evil Republicans and in favor of saintly Democrats let me explain something. From the later part of the 1950’s through 2003, I have been involved to a greater of lesser degree in the affairs of both political parties on the local, State and Federal levels. At times, I was a political operative of some sort, first for Republicans and then later for Democrats. At other times I represented interest groups, governmental agencies and private clients in the political process.

From the Fifties to the latter part of the eighties, I had developed close personal and professional relationships with many Republican elected officials on both coasts and in Washington. They and many of their leaders, Eisenhower, Brooks, Rockefeller, Lindsey (before his change of parties) and before them my ethnic heroes, La Guardia and Marcantonio, whatever else their foibles and moral failings may have been, to a man shared with thoughtful Democrats of the time (as did Goldwater and Reagan) a belief that society and government must assure the health, safety and education of all the nations children, assist those citizens in need, provide a living wage for its workers, assure a sound economy, guarantee the right of working men to collectively negotiate with their employers, resist any one group of citizen’s attempt to exercise undue control over others and on many other similar issues. Where they differed was often regarding the extent and cost of achieving these goals and the best means of delivering them.

They believed along with the Democrats of the time, that those who received a greater portion of the benefits of the nation and society than others had a greater civic, not just moral but civic, duty to pay significantly more than those less fortunate in order to assist those in the country in dire need, or for those like public safety and military personnel, medical workers and teachers who have chosen to accept lesser remuneration in return for their public services and to fund the education of all the nations children as well as provide for the common defense and the public infrastructure so necessary for economic development and social mobility.

These Republicans that I knew then were repulsed by many of those in the Democratic Party, who cynically used the programs that they all had agreed upon, to benefit their often corrupt and racist supporters, subverting most of it from ever reaching those to whom it was intended. This situation remained until LBJ attempted to put an end to this hypocrisy. Unfortunately, his actions allowed Nixon, Atwater and people like them to cynically use the dissatisfaction among those who believed that they were losing an advantage that buffered them from poverty and despair, in order to secure political power for themselves and their supporters.

Were I to ask those pre-Atwater moderate Republicans, and I actually did ask some of them, whether or not the Second Amendment protected in addition to firearms used for hunting, sport and defense the right of individuals to carry concealed weapons manufactured for armed forces use to hunt down and kill people, they would have been shocked that anyone would consider that it did.

One in fact responded more or less:

“Consider what it would mean for public safety officials and the ability of the police to suppress violent crimes were criminals or those intent on crime free to carry, without license or registration, concealed military armaments designed to inflict the maximum damage on an enemy. And even more, think what it would do to civic order and public safety were those who distribute these weapons of mayhem into the stream of commerce free, even if they do so negligently, to do so without responsibility if they were later to be used in a crime.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter Four: At the airport with no place to go – Part 2):

I got to door M-28 with plenty of time to spare – except there was no door. The only M-28 I found was a counter at the end of a long row of counters for various airlines. The only doors nearby were two departure gates. So I nervously stood there waiting for my assignation. Twenty minutes after the hour came and went, then thirty minutes. When forty minutes came and went, I was really concerned, so I approached a woman sitting behind counter M-28 and told her my story and waved the little piece of paper. Instead of smiling blankly or ignoring me as most Thais would do this woman unleashed an exceedingly vicious attack on me saying that she did was not interested in nor cared about my troubles and that this was an airline counter and I should not be standing there. She pointed to the boarding gate and told me to go stand there if I must stand near some doors.

Taken aback, I was speechless and stepped a few feet away from the counter to try to figure out what to do next. I decided to go to one of the gates and try there. Maybe the rude counter Nazi was right.

So I went to the gate and found a woman in uniform, explained my story and waved the piece of paper as well as my passports. She smiled took my passports, leafed through them as though she knew what she was looking for and said, “I understand. Stay right here. I will be right back.” She took my passports passed through security and went-up to two uniformed passport officers behind their counters. They talked. They all looked my way. Then she turned and came back with a large smile on her face. Like someone suffering Stockholm Syndrome my heart leapt for joy at her smile.

“It is all taken care of,” she said. “Come with me.” (To be continued)

B. What Republicans think of their party:

Norman Ornstein (Republican consultant) and Thomas Mann (Liberal commentator) in their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” :

“. . . the Republican party, has become an insurgent outlier – ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.”

TODAY’S QUOTES:

1. Herbert Hoover

“In its broad aspects, the proper feeding of children revolves around a public recognition of the interdependence of the human animal upon his cattle. The white race cannot survive without dairy products.”

There you have it. Since one of the effects of going over the fiscal cliff could have been a rise in milk prices, we have proof that Obama was out to destroy the white race. However, included in the fiscal cliff compromise, Congress agreed to legislation extending the farm bill thereby halting the potential rise in milk prices for one year. The white race has gotten a temporary reprieve.

2. An unknown Indian

“The Spanish, French and English kill each other if no one else is available.”

TODAY’S CARTOON:

2035_10151196413036275_1408173545_n

Actually they may both be liberals since they did not buy tickets but instead wanted a free look over the fence. On the other hand, they all could be Republicans since they believe they as job creators are exempt from paying for tickets like everyone else.

TODAY’S CHART:

nyt-blow-clip

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 17 Pookie 0001 (November 29.2012)

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have finally ventured beyond the café about a block from my apartment that marked the limit of my world since arriving here in BKK. I travelled all the way to the health club to resume the exercise regime that had been suspended during the almost four months I spent in the US.

I left the apartment with LM well before six am. It was still dark. As we passed Nana Plaza, the sidewalks were filled with Ladies of the Night trolling for customers. Whether they were trolling for the last trick of the evening or the first of the new day, I have no idea. Perhaps there is something about their occupation or constitutions that allows them to work around the clock without sleeping.

You can always tell the Ladyboys from the others because they were usually so much better dressed and made up. While most of the women at that time in the morning sported looks of various degrees of dishevelment, the Ladyboys paraded about without a hair out-of-place or a wrinkle on their tight tiny dresses.

Several bars were open spilling their noise and golden light into the street where it mingled with the blue-grey light of dawn and the police sirens. I do not know why they were open at that hour. The police require bars in Bangkok to close at midnight or one o’clock in the morning. Perhaps they had closed and just now were reopening. Or, maybe they were the bars owned by the cops themselves.

Bangkok is a funny place, so much to see – so much more hidden.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Cat causes chaos:

In Sidney Australia a man ran down his sister with his car after her cat urinated on his computer.

I guess he was pissed off because he couldn’t watch cute cat videos anymore.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

An old man’s memories: Donald Lundy (Cont.)

Before Don became such a big local football star, Tuckahoe produced another village football legend, Al Carapella who became the University of Miami‘s first All American. He later had a distinguished, if brief, NFL career. The town was proud of Al. He was their first All American too.They had a parade for him and dedicated some sort of monument in his honor.

We kids were not so impressed. We all snidely referred to him as “Al Carapella, All American.” One Sunday I attended mass in the Assumption Church, the parish in the town specifically set up by the Diocese for the Italians to stop us from attending the “American” Catholic church up on the hill. I was about 10 years old at the time. I was standing in the line to go to Communion and “Al Carapella, All American” stepped into the line just behind me. I was awed. We all had our heads bowed and our hands pressed together in prayer and piety. As the line moved forward, for some reason, I moved backward or perhaps I did not move fast enough, I do not know. Anyway I stepped on “Al Carapella, All American’s” foot. Without lifting his head “Al Carapella, All American” growled, “Get the fuck off a my fucking foot kid.”

As I said, no one in the gang was especially large or fast and except for Peter White showed no great natural athletic ability. Nevertheless, over the years that they played together each learned his job. Each had to figure out by himself how to do his job even if the guy in front of him was bigger, faster and more athletic. This ad-hoc accommodation to the situation was the bane of coaches. Once the coach got involved he would demand you be bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic otherwise you would not play. They usually loved to see “their boys” bang themselves silly against the opposing player.

The gang did not have this problem when they entered Tuckahoe High School. The coach was an alcoholic who reputedly spent most of his time with the school nurse locked-up together in his or her office. So, for the most part the team was left to fend for itself. The school was tiny, only about 90 boys in the whole school. Almost all the gang played on the varsity beginning with their freshman year and with Don in the backfield they won and kept on winning.

Since I went to a different high school than the rest of the gang and no longer lived in Tuckahoe, I did not attend many of their games. But I followed them in the local newspapers. The few times I did get to see their games Don was astonishing. He was like the Ghost in the Backfield. Not too tall and a bit on the skinny side so that his uniform always looked a bit to big for him, he seemed to disappear from view until he was given the ball and then something amazing happened.

Don was never a great fan of running over people or of being tackled. He did not run through his opponents, nor did he stutter step to trick potential tacklers. With a fluid grace he played “catch me if you can.” Although he was fast, he was not blistering so and he did not make his mark simply running around the ends but instead when presented with just the slightest of openings in the center of the line he would almost magically slip through and be gone. He often left the would be tackler tackling air. Like a ghost he was there and then he was not.

Because the school was so small they were forced to play other small schools in the area. But as they continued to win by ever increasing scores they eventually were paired with larger schools. But still they continued to win.

Don received a number of football scholarship offers, not as many as he would have received had he attended one of the larger schools in the county like the one I attended that had two thousand boys. To the surprise of all of us he chose a school in Idaho (Idaho State or the University of Idaho, I do not know which) (to be Continued)

227147_1017389279580_4153_n
Don looking a lot like when I knew him (a bit heavier in the photo) with his son who misses him a lot.

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

2012- The Tuckahoe Tigers Basketball Team won the State division C title after posting a perfect 25 – 0 win season. The prior year the school won the State football and baseball championships for their division. The football team played in three state championships in the past 6 years. (The school still is tiny, containing only about 250 students)

1956: Tuckahoe defeats Feildston 30-0 in Football. (More than likely Dondi scored almost all the points.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

It is the interest stupid: why bankers rule the world: Part II.

“You are not a loan.”
Occupy slogan

“If all bank loans were paid, no one would have a bank deposit, and there would not be a dollar of currency in circulation. This is a staggering thought. We are completely dependent on the commercial banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the banks create ample synthetic money, we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent monetary system. When one gets a complete grasp upon the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible-but there it is. It (the banking problem) is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it is widely understood and the defects remedied very soon.”
Robert Hemphill, for 8 years credit manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. January 24, 1939

Hemphill’s warning has not been heeded because, up until now, productivity has increased while commodity prices have fallen producing a growth in wealth greater than the inexorable ever-increasing cannibalization of that wealth by interest. What Hemphill’s insight means is that the nation or for that matter the world’s monetary system will eventually fail because debt levels must increase exponentially in order to grow the economy. A growing economy requires more money, and money is debt. Exponential debt levels are mathematically impossible after a certain point. That is simple math. And the result? KABOOM!

B. Yiddish words everyone should know:

klutz
Or better yet, klots. Literally means “a block of wood,” so it’s often used for a dense, clumsy or awkward person. See schlemiel.
kosher
Something that’s acceptable to Orthodox Jews, especially food. Other Jews may also “eat kosher” on some level but are not required to. Food that Orthodox Jews don’t eat – pork, shellfish, etc. – is called traif. An observant Jew might add, “Both pork and shellfish are doubtlessly very tasty. I simply am restricted from eating it.” In English, when you hear something that seems suspicious or shady, you might say, “That doesn’t sound kosher.”
kvetsh
In popular English, kvetch means “complain, whine or fret,” but in Yiddish, kvetsh literally means “to press or squeeze,” like a wrong-sized shoe. Reminds you of certain chronic complainers, doesn’t it? But it’s also used on Yiddish web pages for “click” (Click Here).
maven
Pronounced meyven. An expert, often used sarcastically.
Mazel Tov
Or mazltof. Literally “good luck,” (well, literally, “good constellation”) but it’s a congratulation for what just happened, not a hopeful wish for what might happen in the future. When someone gets married or has a child or graduates from college, this is what you say to them. It can also be used sarcastically to mean “it’s about time,” as in “It’s about time you finished school and stopped sponging off your parents.”
mentsh
An honorable, decent person, an authentic person, a person who helps you when you need help. Can be a man, woman or child.
mishegas
Insanity or craziness. A meshugener is a crazy man. If you want to insult someone, you can ask them, ”Does it hurt to be crazy?”
mishpocheh
Or mishpokhe or mishpucha. It means “family,” as in “Relax, you’re mishpocheh. I’ll sell it to you at wholesale.”
nosh
Or nash. To nibble; a light snack, but you won’t be light if you don’t stop noshing. Can also describe plagiarism, though not always in a bad sense; you know, picking up little pieces for yourself.

Many people have the mistaken notion that yiddish is a Jewish language like Hebrew. True it was spoken primarily by Jews. However unlike Hebrew which until the establishment of the state of Israel served as the “religious” or “intellectual” language of most Jews; much like Latin was used in western Europe until the last century, yiddish generally was spoken by only one of the major branches of the Jewish diaspora. That branch, known as the Ashkenazi were those Jews who lived primarily in eastern Europe and originally included Northern France until various pogroms forced them further east. Like the Kurds of today they were a nation without a land of their own. Until the 19th century most Jews spoke a pastiche of Aramaic, Hebrew and the indigenous language of the place they were living at the time. The roots of Yiddish is primarily German with Aramaic and Hebrew influences. It also includes words and expressions from several Slavic languages in varying degrees depending upon where the speakers lived. There are several different “yiddish dialects” including that spoken as the official language in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Russian far East near Vladivostok. Its capital is Birobidzhan. The First Birobidzhan International Summer Program for Yiddish Language and Culture was launched in 2007

TODAY’S QUOTES:

A. The Little Masseuse:

“Dog shit in the morning.”
LM warning about the sidewalks of Bangkok after the nights rain had cleared away the prior day’s refuse.

A sentiment well taken by anyone believing they cleared away the debris of their past and are about to something new.

B. Paul Krugman

“[O]n economic issues the modern Democratic party is what we would once have considered “centrist”, or even center-right. Obama’s Heritage-Foundation-inspired health care plan is to the right of Richard Nixon’s. Nobody with political influence is suggesting a return to pre-Reagan tax rates on the wealthy. Fantasies about Obama as a socialist, redistributionist hater of capitalism bear no more resemblance to reality than fantasies about his birthplace or religion.

Second, today’s Republican party is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers, plus some opportunists along for the ride — full stop…. Someday there may emerge another party with the same name standing for a quite different agenda…. But that will take a long time… Finally, it’s true that there are some Republican intellectuals and pundits who seem to be truly open-minded…. But… “seem to be”… they’re professional seemers. When it matters, they can always be counted on — after making a big show of stroking their chins and agonizing — to follow the party line, and reject anything that doesn’t go along with the preacher-plutocrat agenda…. Anyone who imagines that there is any real soul-searching going on is deluding himself or herself.”

It should be noted that beginning with the election of Franklin Roosevelt in fifty years we went from the probably worst economic calamity in our nation’s history to witnessing the greatest growth of income and widest and most equitable distribution of wealth ever achieved. During this period, both Republicans and Democrats accepted the basic concepts of what became standard economic thought.

During the thirty years following the election of Ronald Reagan on the other hand we have seen our nation tumble from that period of broad, equitable and high economic growth into the second greatest economic contraction in our history accompanied by the largest divergence of wealth between the fortunate few and the rest of us since the heyday of the Southern plantation economies. During that time, both Republican and Democratic administrations grew to accept the new economic and fiscal paradigm introduced in Reagan Administration.

What caused this change from a seemingly workable beneficent economic consensus to one so manifestly deficient? The only political event that bridges transition from one paradigm to the other that I can see that makes sense as a cause is the civil rights movement. Not that it, in itself, engendered a simple reaction by racists who then swept away 50 years of economic agreement. But it did encourage the rural white southern and working class Northern poor who for the most part benefited (and supported) the New Deal, to make a political alliance with those who hated it in an effort to roll back the threats to their precarious existence that they imagined were being generated by the civil rights movement. Many of them, the working class and the southern white voter believed it when they were told by those who stood the most to gain financially by reversing the progressive economic consensus, that that economic consensus was responsible for financing “welfare state.” That the “welfare state” allowed the civil rights and other progressive movements to threaten their precarious hold on their newly won social and economic stability.

The tragedy for those folks who joined on to the bandwagon, was that while this alliance has been very successful in rolling back the previous economic consensus, it abjectly has failed in halting the ever-expanding tide civil rights and other progressive programs. This result has thrown that wing (that we now call “social conservatives”) of the alliance into ever-increasing paroxysms of insanity even to the point of lashing out against virtually all science and their own self-interest.

The irrationality of this wing has grown so outlandish, that recently some of the more insightful of those most opposed to the old New Deal economic paradigm see in them, their allies, a greater danger to their interests, than all but the most radical wing of their traditional opponents in the Democratic Party. They, these few, seem to be beginning to see in the current Democratic Party, the Reagan economic consensus without the socio-theologic crap.

After all, they may now reason, a few years of diminished expectations is a small price to pay for fattening up the pig again.

TODAY’S CHART:

598534_500507269970289_1520061641_n

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

14153_452119101500553_356897332_n

When all or most of us work at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart for minimum age, who will do the shopping there — the owners, management?

Categories: October 2012 through December 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. (17 Joey 0001) April 7, 2012

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Following the usual interminable and uncomfortable plane ride, I arrived back in Bangkok. The sky was overcast, but the temperature was a welcome change from the weeks of cold and rain I had experienced in California. When I got to my apartment, I discovered that the Little Masseuse had also been ill. She was suffering from some form of sciatica that radiated down one of her legs leaving painful blisters. I keep hoping that somewhere I can find a place where I can revel in my own misery without discovering someone close to me who has it worse.

The next day, after sleeping off the jet lag, I went to the gym and tried to drive the crud from my lungs with a roasting in the sauna.

When not coughing and lying baking in the sauna, I continue to work on the business plan I am helping my sister prepare.

With the clearing of the skies, the “Mad Dog” days are upon us making it unfit to spend much time too far away from air conditioning. I sat by the pool today and did not go in for a swim. I reasoned I was already too wet from sweat so I took a cold shower instead.

I spoke by telephone with Hayden, he is with SWAC and they plan to drive to San Francisco for the weekend. Given her recent emotional breakdown and medication regime, I am somewhat troubled by it all.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. The Land of Smiles:  I do not know if anyone has noticed this, but I have the impression that since the Thais have gotten into remedial orthodonture procedures in a big way they smile a lot less.

2. There is something about a man in uniform: In the study of Semiotics (Umberto Eco et al.) the worthy dons waxed eloquent over the language of fashion. Recently, as I walked back to my apartment from the gym and I passed several of BKK’s finest standing on the corner, I got to thinking about the message in the way cops wear their uniforms.

In the US, the policeman’s generally slovenly outfit and arbitrary arrangement of paraphernalia about their body always signified to me the image of an overweight enraged redneck on the verge of violence. On the other hand the Thai cop is rather elegantly turned out in his starched and tailored uniform, shiny helmet without scratch or dent, shoes or boots polished to perfection while his accessories shined and arranged just so hang in a well-organized arrangement from the unblemished belt tightly binding his slim waist (as opposed to the layers of adipose that decorate their American counterpart’s mid-section). I tried to understand the semiotic message I was receiving from their particular way of wearing their uniform. As I walked on by Nana Plaza I noticed other individuals in different but also equally well turned out attire; hair shiny and perfectly laid out, de collage arranged to provide their precise message to the passers-by. Could it be these ladies and ladyboys of the day and night and our guardians of law and order were sending somewhat the same message?

On the other hand (thanks to the ever observant Gary), in Thailand female cops look like this:

Now don’t you all feel like driving safer?

3. There are no terrorists here: When I left BKK a few months ago, the Thai military, after indignantly denying terrorists could be at work in peaceful Thailand, were embarrassed by police discoveries of caches of explosives. This was followed by a series of bomb explosions over the next few months. In the south of Thailand where this sort of thing has been going on for twenty years or more, there was a succession of explosions last week that rocked the southern Thai city of Hat Yai. This city interestingly enough lies about 100 miles north of those provinces where the muslim majority has spawned a violent resistance movement. It is also a tourist center servicing primarily muslim tourists from Malaysia and residents of Singapore fleeing those more staid locales for the fleshy entrepots of Thailand.

In typical Thai style, the military announced the almost immediate arrest of the supposed miscreants. You see, in Thailand no crime goes unsolved. If a crime makes the news, within a day or two someone will be dragged before the cameras confessing his guilt and demonstrating exactly how he did the deed. In Hat Yai one of the accused terrorists was identified from a video cam showing him driving a car in traffic somewhat behind the van carrying the terrorists. In addition, a mysterious pair of pants that the accused denied were his were discovered in his house. They looked suspiciously like the pair worn by one of the terrorists (not the accused) caught on another video tape.

The General in charge announced that it is inconceivable to him that there could be additional terrorist activity in the city and that the tourists should feel comfortable and safe in returning to enjoy the sordid pleasures of that rather run down but always fascinating metropolis.

The restaurants in Hat Yai feature the regions best birds nest soup made from the nests of tiny birds who roost in the caves on some of the islands in the nearby Andaman Sea. Maybe the tourists come for the soup.

If someone enquires, I will be happy to describe the process of obtaining the nests in my next post,

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

Returning soon.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

I am not sure what this chart means, but don’t you think that is an awful lot of money spent on electing people most of us would not want deciding things on our behalf (or for that matter invite into our homes) had we really a choice? I am sure most of these people would not be spending this much money unless they hope to get something in return. What would that be? I do not think the answer is good government.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Both parties are at fault.

2. Imagine, today Reagan would be considered a liberal to his party.

3. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

a. Fashion accessories: Before leaving for the US a few months ago with my suitcase filled with wool scarves knitted by the Little Masseuse, I commented that I questioned that Thai’s would even know what to do with a wool scarf given the Thai tropical climate. Imagine my surprise when after my return when turning on the television I was presented with the image of almost every television personality sporting, you guessed it, a wool scarf. So I apologize to the fashion industry for underestimating their ability turn discomfort into a fashion statement.

b. Economists: In my last post I posted a chart and commented to the effect that economists seem to consistently get their predictions wrong or at least as often wrong as right. Alas, I was reminded that David Frum and other pundits have pointed out that Nobel Laureate in economics Paul Krugman consistently gets things right, but like Cassandra no one ever believes him. So to Professor Krugman, even though I am sure he couldn’t care less, I apologize.

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
TODAY’S QUOTE:

Not only is evil banal but it is often frighteningly realistic and practical.

TODAY’S CHART:


TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 11, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Percentage of civilian deaths among all the fatalities in recent wars:

World War I – 15%
World War II – 65%
Since World War II – 90%

With the advent of remote warfare [drones , etc.] soon only civilians will die in wars. Will we still pin medals for bravery on the uniforms of soldiers of the future? Maybe we should issue medals to surviving civilians instead.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. To coup or not to coup:

1) It has been pointed out by some commentators that since the 1934 coup that overthrew the absolute monarchy, every coup has been preceded by representatives of the military announcing there would be no coup.

2) The representative of the Elections Commission claimed that there was a plot to launch a “‘silent coup’ controlled by the military but fronted by ‘respectable figures'”. “This” he continued “would be eerily similar to the ‘holiday’ proposed by the People’s Alliance for Democracy: an appointed government without political parties.”

3) There has been a report of a secret meeting of military and civilian political leaders that decided there must be an interim national government, but they could not figure out how to overthrow the system without a military coup so the meeting was adjourned.

4) Some surmise that a military coup has already been agreed to, but a few military leaders are still searching for tactics that would mitigate international sanctions that would most likely follow a military led overthrow of the current civilian government.

5) This flurry of rumor and intrigue appears all to have been generated by a poll released a week or so ago that shows the “Red Shirts” backed by deposed prime minister Taksin could prevail in the coming election.

b. Who is really in charge here:

It looks like the military leadership has excluded any significant policy role for the government in the border dispute with Cambodia. The military refers to the conflict in the possessive, “Theirs.”

c. Cluster flak:

A BLU-3 Pineapple cluster bomblet at the Imper...

A BLU-3 Pineapple cluster bomblet at the Imperial War Museum. Photo by Max Smith (myself) and released into the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the response to the accusation of some in the international community that the Thai military used the much reviled “cluster bombs” in their border dispute with Cambodia, a Thai governmental spokesman said, “It depends on how you define the term [Cluster Bomb].”

Shades of Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am now back in Bangkok and feeling ill. I am becoming increasingly concerned about my health. Because of this I am planning my return to the US to be sooner rather than later.

Two weeks ago SWAC encouraged me to make arrangements for Hayden to visit with his Chiang Mai friend Leo. I was delighted and did so informing my friends Choti and Gerry, Leo’s parents. They in turn set about planning for our visit during Songkran, the Thai spring water festival. Two days before our departure, as I should have foreseen, SWAC changed her mind.

I now plan to return to Paradise by the Sea tomorrow in an effort to regain my health and composure.

Since school ended for Hayden last week my role here has changed. He is spending more and more time with the maid and has seemed to be developing a close bond with her. It is a shame that, like the maid in Chiang Mai, he soon will be torn from the only nurturing female figure in his life. I shudder to think of what dark psychological brew is being cooked up there deep in his sub-conscious,

It has been said that affection for a child is the only type of love that is directed toward separation. To make sure no one ever forgets this, nature invented teenagers.

Perhaps it is a function of advanced age for one whose time is getting shorter to spend a moment of that time on senseless musings on the meaning of life. One would think that the meaning would be related to procreation and continuation of the species. Nevertheless, I have the impression that for most of us individually we act as though it’s meaning and purpose is something like maturity and self actualization. God knows, I have spent most of my life failing at both. But if you think about it for 3 million years or so our species and progenitors lived just about long enough to breed before we died. Only about a century ago did any but the fortunate few live to accomplish anything but toil for our daily bread, breed and die. Perhaps genetically, mother nature never equipped us to become mature and achieve self actualization and that is why as a rule we are so bad at it.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

Further tales of the little masseuse:

Recently while leaving Paradise by the Sea to return to Bangkok the little masseuse and I took the small converted pick up truck transit vehicle called a songtheuw from the condo to the bus station to catch the Pattaya-Bangkok bus. When we arrived at the bus station my masseuse went to pay the songtheuw driver our fare. Suddenly an enormous row ensued. The drive jumped out of his vehicle, leaving the other passengers to wait while the two of them went at it, shouting at each other.

For a while I enjoyed the spectacle of the diminutive masseuse all 5 feet of her and the much larger bus driver (about my size) shred the Thai cultural requirement of Jai Yen (Maintaining a cool heart). Finally I stepped between them and the driver returned to his vehicle and drove off in a huff.

When I asked my friend what had had caused the argument, she answered:

“I tried to pay the driver the usual 10 baht (about 30 cents) per person fare, but he insisted that I pay 20 baht instead. I asked him why he is demanding twice the amount for the ride than I usually pay. He answered, ‘That was when you travelled by yourself, this time you are traveling with a farang.'”

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Announcement: Would anyone who cares about what happens next in the novel please let me know. If no one does, I will inform the characters that they can brush off their resume’s and seek employment in other novels or (shudder) advertising copy.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Religious history laid bare:

Tertullian

Tertullian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 200 AD, the great early Christian theologian and Doctor of the Church, Tertullian, argued that Jesus was a eunuch (c. 200 AD) . He wrote,“…He stands before you, if you are willing to copy him, as a voluntary spado (eunuch) in the flesh.” And elsewhere: “The Lord Himself opened the kingdom of heaven to eunuchs and He Himself lived as a eunuch. The apostle [Paul] also, following His example, made himself a eunuch…”

(Tertullian also noted the existence of a third sex (tertium sexus) among heathens: “a third race in sex… made of male and female in one.”
Tertullian, On Monogamy, 3: )

Oh my, could Jesus have been a “ladyboy.” Does this mean that in the mornings when I walk past Nana Plaza on my way to the gym, I may be seeing the reincarnations of the Christ?

Now that I think of it, it could be. Sometimes when I am approached by one or another soliciting me for early morning sex, I mumble, Jesus Christ, give me a break. It’s eight o’clock in the morning.”)

b. What is wrong with Economics today:

A few weeks ago I sent out a list of some of the problems that I saw with classical and neoclassical economic theory. A few more have been suggested by Robert Nadeau. He believes the mathematical theories relied upon by mainstream economists are predicated on the following unscientific assumptions:

The market system is a closed circular flow between production and consumption, with no inlets or outlets.
Natural resources exist in a domain that is separate and distinct from a closed market system, and the economic value of these resources can be determined only by the dynamics that operate within this system.
The costs of damage to the external natural environment by economic activities must be treated as costs that lie outside the closed market system or as costs that cannot be included in the pricing mechanisms that operate within the system.
The external resources of nature are largely inexhaustible, and those that are not can be replaced by other resources or by technologies that minimize the use of the exhaustible resources or that rely on other resources.
There are no biophysical limits to the growth of market systems.

c. Today’ chart:

TODAY’S QUOTE:

I thought it would be enjoyable to revisit one of my all-time favorites:

“God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re fucked.”
-Braveheart

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. October 11, 2010

Today’s Factoid:

Frank Lentini, born Francesco A. Lentini (1889–1966) was born in Siracusa, Sicily into a large family. He was born with three longer legs, two sets of genitals and one rudimentary foot on his third leg. His primary legs also grew into different lengths. At the age of nine, Lentini moved to the United States and entered the sideshow business.

(And he was a great success in show business. Now you know all about Frank. Aren’t you glad you asked?)

Today’s quote:

“Hence it has come to pass that most or all sentient beings have been developed in such a manner, through natural selection, that pleasurable sensations serve as their habitual guide.”
Charles Darwin.

(So now we know the real reason for rejecting evolution – unbridled licentiousness.)

Today’s News from Thailand:

Little has changed in the political situation in Thailand. The military remains engaged in a mop up battle to preserve its prerogatives.

One must remember that ever since the 1932 military coup that overthrew the absolute monarchy, with few exceptions, Thailand has been ruled by a military dictatorship of some sort or another. During that time the military has had no problems switching political sides when necessary to preserve their power.

In 1945 the military dictatorship that overthrew the absolute monarchy, was staunchly anti-royalist and supported the japanese occupation of Thailand. It was itself overthrown by an anti-japanese civilian government. Nevertheless by 1947 it returned to absolute power by the simple expedient of switching to the royalist cause.

Over the next 50 years or so the Thai military appears to have slowly learned that the direct management of the institutions of government was no longer the optimum method of preserving power. The suppression of challenges from the right or left, religious or civil political forces was too draining on domestic military resources and international good will.

I think the modern Thai military has realized that they only required a few essential things to maintain their prerogatives. They are:

Absolute control of the military budget
Control over personnel in the chain of command.
Exemption from civilian judicial oversight.
Control of so-called military secrets.
A credible gun to the head of any government who may attempt to reform this system

The military will ally itself with any political entity in opposition to any person or institution that threatens this system.

Pookie’s continuing adventures in Thailand:

In spite of the noise of the party goers and the crash of the falls, I slept soundly. In the morning, I showered and left my cabin. TBB had just began stirring. Outside Gun Girl and one of the guys were frolicking in the falls. I went down to the restaurant where I had some cold eggs and instant coffee for breakfast (One cannot have everything). I sat by the side of the river and watched the sunlight come and go as it filtered through the trees lightning up different sections of the falls while leaving others in shadow.

We left the resort at about 11AM. I went in Lek’s vehicle, her son driving. Lek and I sat in the back seat where Lek became uncomfortably intimate and began telling me about her ruined marriage and her love affair with a British man whose offer of marriage she had to turn down because she could not stand her suitor’s teenaged daughter.

It was then that I began to perceive that perhaps Lek was supposed to be my blind date during the trip. Apparently, Gun Girl and the Sullen One were lovers and had slept together in one of the beds in the party house. Lek slept in the other bed with Mata Hari. She told me that when she woke up that morning “The lady-boy was draped over me like a blanket”.

Gun Girl, who is in her mid to late 30’s, was in full Cougar mode as the Sullen One was by far the youngest of our group, barely, if at all, out of his teens. His job, beside whatever nighttime services he rendered, seemed to be to carry Gun Girl’s luggage and camera and run her errands.

Eventually, we stopped at a gas station. We all got out and Lek’s son and girlfriend drove off in Lek’s car leaving the rest of us there with only Gun Girl’s vehicle. We waited, for what I neither knew, asked or cared.

After about an hour, a pick-up truck with a covered bed arrived. I was told that I would be traveling in the truck and the others in Gun Girl’s car. I got into the truck with two men in military camouflage jackets. They moved a couple of small machetes from the front seat so I could sit there. We drove off the paved road and onto a badly rutted and muddy dirt road and went up a fairly steep hill until we arrived at a wooden Thai house were everyone got out. The house was perched on stilts leaving the space beneath in a deep gloom. I could not see any windows in the house itself.

The two men and what appeared to be the residents of the building removed everything from the back of the truck and replaced whatever it was with a cooler, a case of soda water and some pads and a rug. I stood in the middle of the muddy rutted road and watched them scurry about or alternately closely examined the small stream that flowed around the house and across the road.

They soon finished doing whatever and everyone piled into the back of the truck except for me and the driver. In addition to the two of us, there were now two other men, a woman and a 4-year-old or so boy child. We drove back down the mountain and on to the paved road and after stopping for ice, took off in the direction that I assumed the other car had gone. No one in the truck spoke any english and I spoke no Thai.

We were supposed to be going into what Lek called the “Switzerland of Thailand,” but to me at least initially It looked more like a heavily forested Dolomites except here instead of granite, the mountains appeared to be made of limestone. Probably the same formation that formed the Andaman Islands south of here.

After topping a rise, we entered into a large valley containing a huge artificial lake. The valley fittingly was named “Lake Valley”. The lake itself was quite beautiful with the cliffs at the eastern edge dropping directly into the water. Dotting the center of the lake were many fishing shacks and along the shore more substantial construction on stilts or houseboats.

Passing the lake, the road got narrower as we plunged into dense foliage. Lacking the usual multi story canopy of the jungle, it and the hills around us reminded me a bit of the thick forests of the Catskills or Adirondacks but in place of maple, pine, birch, ash and hickory, Southeast Asian tree species filled much the same niches. Large groves of a tall tree with a diameter of about 12 inches appeared. I was told they were teak. Their leaves were large, the size of a chafing-dish.

When I was a kid the cheap dish sets we ate off of usually came with something called a chafing-dish. It was usually shallow and had a cover. We did not know what it was for (or what chafing meant) so we usually used it without the cover to serve anti-pasta or to serve mashed potatoes on meat and potato day (we were trying hard to assimilate).

As we climbed higher the multi story canopy jungle began to emerge. Huge trees with trunks two feet or more in diameter rising straight up, not branching for at least 100 feet, towered over the other trees like the redwoods tower over the coastal forests of California. The lower story of the forest canopy was made up of shrubs and bamboo groves.

We were passing through some of Thailand’s most extensive National Forests and Wildlife Preserves. They are reputed to contain Tigers, Gibbons, Elephants and a whole host of other animals (I even saw an “Elephant Crossing” sign). However the only fauna I observed were the scrawny, mangy feral dogs that seem to exist everywhere in the country.

We drove on and up through the unremitting green. I began to get bored. It was like climbing from the Central Valley on the way to Tahoe. At a certain point I would always get to feel a bit like Spiro Agnew. I had seen enough Incense Cedars, Ponderosa Pines and Giant Sequoias for that particular trip. Also, I always mistrusted green.

When I was growing up in Tuckahoe NY we lived for a while in Section 8 public housing. They required all the walls in the apartments to be painted with paint supplied by the Housing Authority and that paint was always institutional green. I grew to become strongly repulsed by the color. I have found it unfortunate that the environmental community has chosen the color and the word” green” as their trademarks. Why couldn’t they have chosen blue for the sky for example or orange for the sun or even magenta for its own sake and a for the sake of a few glorious sunsets?

Thinking of magenta made me think of Crayola crayons. I loved them – not to draw or color with. I found them horrid for that purpose, just like colored pencils and those stupid little watercolor sets that they forced on kids. No wonder so many give up the graphic arts while still children. Oils would work, but where does a 6-year-old find artist oil paints (acrylics had not been invented yet, I think)?

No, I collected Crayola crayons for their names, even if I rarely used them to draw with. Woolworth’s used to sell them singly from large bins. My favorite was “Burnt Sienna.” (Some other great names included, “Atomic Tangerine,” “Beaver.” “Electric Lime,” “Jazzberry Jam,” “Macaroni and Cheese,” “Mango Tango,” “Neon Carrot,” “Radical Red” and “Wild Blue Yonder.”)

I do not even recall what “Burnt Sienna” looks like, probably some shade of orange or brown.

One color I collected but simply did not understand was “Flesh.” It was very rare and one had to look around for it. I tried it out once on a sheet of paper thinking that my stick people drawings suddenly would come alive if I applied “Flesh” color to the circle that represented their faces. To my great distress, I discovered that “Flesh” was sort of a washed out pink. That was not the color of the skin of the people I knew. Pink was the color of the people who lived in the posh suburb of Bronxville, just south of Tuckahoe. You could not live in Bronxville if you were Italian, Jewish or Black. Bronxville people were pink, with visible blue veins no less. They gave me nightmares just like Froggy and Smilin Ed.

No, real people had skin that was dusky olive, or various shades of black or brown. Even the wealthy Jews who lived on the hills just outside of Bronxville looked more like us than those strange beings living across the village boundary a few feet away.

(Eventually Crayola recognized that not all people’s’ skin was pink and changed the name of the color from “Flesh” to “Peach”.)

The blackest person I knew was my friend Philie Pinto. Most people’s skin, whether black, brown, Khaki or olive, glow when in the light, sort of like a newly waxed automobile does. Not Phillie. He appeared to have been dipped in coal dust. He just adsorbed light. Once after many years absence, I returned to Tuckahoe and went into a bar called the Carioca. My grandfather used to own it when it was a fairly well-known jazz club in the area. It had fallen on hard times now and was dark and dingy. Phillie sat at the end or the bar. He had grown up to become the town taxi driver. I knew it was him. I could see his clothes, but his face was like smoke.

Some of the black kids in the town were what I have heard African-Americans refer to as High Yellow. Unlike the big-boned, heavy muscled, wide nosed very dark west african type like the Blout family, they were tall, slender narrow nosed lighter skinned like my friend Rabbit and his brothers and sisters. I do not know what color one would have called Rabbit, but certainly not yellow, high or not. Maybe “Burnt Sienna” or “Burnt Umber” another of my favorites. But I digress (I, by the way, always considered myself a khaki colored person).

Eventually we arrived at an overlook that gave great views over the mountains and back towards the lake. A Thai motorcycle club or gang was there. In the 90 plus degree heat they were all wearing long-sleeved leather jackets with “The Killer’’ emblazoned on the back. I do not know if it referred to the name of the club, or if they all chose the same nickname or if it was the name of their favorite rock band.

Anyway, after a short rest we went on to a Thai military outpost high on a mountain top overlooking Myanmar replete with razor wire, sandbags, trenches and buried bunkers maned by one soldier who did not seem to possess any armaments whatsoever but was otherwise, I assume, prepared to resist, as the first line of defense, any onslaught by the Burmese intending to invade Thailand, rape their women and burn down their capital as they have done so often in the past.

Actually raping their women would be completely unnecessary today given the availability for military RR in Thailand of places like Nana Plaza and Pattaya. And as for burning down the capital, some have said it would be doing Thailand a favor.

After looking across the mountains into Myanmar for a while, we left the redoubt to the lone soldier and journeyed down the mountain to visit a tiny village on the border called Pritik or something like that. Gun Girl told me that the village was in Myanmar, but it was not. It was however to some extent a Karen/Burmese peopled town. There were very few adults visible. The town seemed occupied principally by children, all seeming between the ages of 3 and 7. On the whole they appeared to me to be the most beautiful children I had ever seen.

The village seemed as peaceful as peaceful could be.

We then went to the border itself and walked across into Burma. On the Thai side there was a single uniformed soldier who lifted the gate and accompanied us as we strode into Myanmar.

We had taken some of the children from the town along with us. In addition to being beautiful they seemed also innocent and beguiling,( unless the town secretly was intent on raising a generation of accomplished sociopaths). We went up a small incline past the crest of the hill and came upon the Burmese guard-house. There was no gate across the road, but along the side of the road was a fence made up of small sharpened bamboo pickets and a gate behind which there were two tumbledown stone buildings.

The children opened the gate and ran into one of the stone huts and woke up the person sleeping there. He did not have a uniform, but I was assured that he was indeed Burmese. He posed for photographs with us as we stared across Burma to the Andaman Sea in the distance.

We then headed back down the mountain and stopped for dinner at one of those ubiquitous bamboo huts that dot the edge of the roadways in Thailand. They usually have a sagging palm covered roof, no walls, contain an open kitchen and a few tables. This one had three tables. It also had a coke machine and a Karaoke set up.

It apparently was owned by the family in whose truck I had spent the better part of the day. They cooked up what they called “Food from the Mountain”. It featured Frogs, not frogs legs but whole frogs that sat there on the rice in my dish looking like nothing else other than a burned brown frog that was staring back at me. I found it to contain too many bones. Another dish I was told was made from something that lived in the trees. It was not a bird, monkey or squirrel but no one knew its name in english. The third meat dish was made from some animal no one could or would describe (it tasted like chicken always a bad sign – maybe it was one of those feral dogs. Then again, I hope not). The vegetables looked like and tasted like vines and grass. Although I tried eating it all, it was too spicy hot for me to eat much, so they made me an omelet.

Mata Hari sang a few songs on the Karaoke machine. At one point, as everyone began to feel the effects of the prodigious amounts of liquor they had been drinking all day, the conversation got around to joking about whether at my age, I was strong enough to handle a woman like Lek. When I acknowledged that I probably could not, the man who drove the truck took from out of his pocket some pills that he said was Thai herbal Viagra and would make one strong and vigorous. Several of us tried it, including me.

That night we slept at the house of another friend of Gun Girl. Shortly after retiring the Thai herbal medicine hit me like Benzedrine on steroids. I spent rest of the night walking around the room, doing push ups, jumping jacks and several other exercises to burn off the energy until at about daybreak when I fell exhausted onto the bed and slept for perhaps two hours.

Ciao…

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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