Posts Tagged With: Niccolò Machiavelli

Thia and that from re Thai r ment, bt 3Th. July 12, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

English: First Battle of Bull Run, chromolitho...

First Battle of Bull Run, chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison 

TODAY’S FACTOID:

July 21, 1861. The First Battle of Bull Run, a victory of the Confederate army under Johnston over the forces of the United States under McDowell.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

I have returned to Thailand and am still struggling with the ravages of jet lag. I have not read a Thai newspaper yet so I have nothing pithy to report. It is, however, somewhat refreshing to return to a society where the populace knows their politics are corrupt and seek general advantage wherever possible and leave one where the populace denies their politics are corrupt but all seek individual advantage.

Since I wrote the above I have had a chance to glance at the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s major english language newspaper.

For the first time since his removal from office by a military coup, a photograph of the smiling former prime minister Thaksin appears in full color on the front page above the fold. I assume he is smiling because, although he remains in exile in Abu Dubai having been convicted in absentia, his party (the party of the so-called Red Shirts) led by his youngest sister had just won an absolute majority in the Thai legislature.

The accompanying article was appropriate ubiquitous as befitting the editorial staff of a newspaper whose publisher was an opponent of the previously fallen prime minister. So, this is how reconciliation begins.

In a column on the editorial page of the same newspaper, the apparent lone dissenting voice points out that the election should not be considered a win for Thaksin’s party because they expected to win 300 out of the 500 seats in the legislature instead of the 265 they did win.

He then goes on to anoint the real winner in the election, a porn and massage parlor operator who headed up his own party and was expected to win only one seat actually won 4. He, according to the columnist, is anticipated to be a major voice in opposition in the new legislature.

I resist the urge to compare and comment on the anti-pornography pledge being circulated in the current US campaign.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Nothing to report from here yet except long periods of restless sleep followed by equally long periods of fatigue. Vittorio, Anita and Vittorio’s aunt arrive in Thailand on about the 22 of July to visit with Anita’s relatives. They then travel to Paradise by the Sea for two weeks were I shall join them.

This morning I left my apartment to spend my first day at the health club since I left about three months ago. After walking a bit, I realized I had left my hat back in the apartment. I experienced a sudden attack of anxiety, fearing that without it I would not be recognized.

At the club after a lengthy negotiation over membership rates, I went for a swim in the pool. I am completely out of shape and could only complete three laps.

One last item about Italy: one Sunday our hosts held a BBQ party at the farm for about 50 or so of their closest friends. There was a lot of meat eaten and wine drunk. I spent the evening in delightful conversation with an economics teacher at the local American AF base who tried mightily but gently to temper my opinions.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

The McWilliams Building is a remnant of those buildings dotting the City that survived the great earthquake and fire. Steuart Street is a short block long string of these buildings. Like the others, the McWilliams Building has undergone substantial renovation and like the others contains a high price restaurant on its ground floor.

It is six stories, clad in brick and cross braced with the latest technology on earthquake safety construction techniques. On the top floor on what was the roof of the historic building is a glass enclosed space containing Big Bill’s glass and steel decorated personal office with its magnificent view of San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena and treasure Islands, the now elegant freeway free Embarcadero and the East Bay cities and hills. The Site also contains Bill’s private conference room also with the same splendid view.

Bill’s long-suffering but still attractive secretary’s desk sits before the glass enclosed door and wall to Bill’s office. Although the magnificent view is also available to her through the glass wall and over Bill’s glass desk and various expensive sculptures with little merit other than cost, her chair and desk face to other way and view only a refurbished brick wall and a Chagall print. The suite contains a personal bathroom for Bills use,(His secretary uses the lavatory in the offices on the floor below) a small kitchen and store-room and brick windowless room occupied by Bill’s go-fer and part-time chauffeur.

The floor below connected by a spiral staircase contains the company offices. The two floors below that are occupied by the law firm of Marcus and Perry, a firm with extensive contacts with city and state governments that has housed several local political notables, before and after their time in office. The firm provides Bill with most of his legal (and political) assistance. One of the things Bill likes about the firm besides its proximity and dependence is also has flourishing sport law practice. It always stroked Bill’s not insubstantial ego to have notable local sports figures drop by for a chat and some advice which Bill was always ready to give. They also were even more gullible investors in Bill’s schemes then doctors.

Below the law offices Bill rented out the least desirable floor at a discount to a group of non profits, selected by Bill to represent as full a range of interest groups that in other circumstances could conceivably oppose one of Bill’s projects, an art group, a LGBT group, and small environmental group concerned with endangered plants, a homeless lobby, and so on.

Bill strode into his office, stood before the magnificent view but did not look at it. Bill was worried. Later today, in the early afternoon he was scheduled to appear at the Federal Building in the local office of the Department of Justice as a “Person of Interest” in questions about his activities in Red Star.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Gödel, Escher, Bach

Gödel, Escher, Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a. Eponymous laws:

Hofstadter’s law“It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” It was created by Douglas Hofstadter in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach.

I bet you thought you would have finished reading this by now.

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

“A Market is something that one goes into to buy groceries and usually has a prefix affixed to it like “super”. Everything else is a casino.

c. You must be a Republican ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/), if you believe that:

The earned income tax credit that rewards the lowest wage earners in the nation is an unwarranted redistribution of income, but lowering the capital gains credit on unearned investment income is not.

d. Testosterone Chronicles:

In one study, researchers found that men with increased testosterone “were 27% less generous towards strangers with money they controlled.” Men with lower levels of testosterone were significantly more generous than men with more testosterone.
Source: Plus One

(This explains it, conservatives are testosterone poisoned.)

e. The Mac Attack:

“All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate (and history is full of examples to support them) that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself; but time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.”
Niccolo Machiavelli – Discourses of the first 10 books of Titus Livius – Chapter 111.

(What, no invisible hand to make everything turn out right in the end? )

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

To Greg: While I borrowed part of your name and profession, the character is my own invention.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“You can’t have everything… where would you put it?”
~Steven Wright

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

Preparing for the BBQ:

Nona on her tractor:

So long Tamai:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. May 26, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Today in Science:

a. Researchers have found that most people are daydreaming 46% of the time( http://www.businessinsider.com/daydreaming-makes-2011-5#ixzz1N6ZiFBiw)

Sagittal human brain with cortical regions del...

Sagittal human brain with cortical regions delineated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They have also found most people don’t use their Prefrontal Cortex for 98% of the day (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219577#ixzz1N6cGlgdP).

(Think about that as you are driving along the freeway past your local nuclear power plant on your way to the airport. On second thought don’t until you park your car.)

b. Left-Handed People Are More Easily Frightened Than Right-Handed People( http://www.businessinsider.com/left-handed-frightened-2011-5#ixzz1N6amkyet).

I’m left-handed and I am frightened all the time [See a. above].

c. Researchers in England calculated the exact value of a smile. But sadly it’s not a quick route to riches: a smile is worth exactly one-third of a penny sterling, or $0.43.(http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/grin-the-money-research-calculates-exact-value-of-a-smile-134863-May2011/?utm_source=shortlink#ixzz1N6aMYEXa).

It hardly seems worth it.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND)AMERICA:

For those of you living in a state of panic that Mexican’s will reclaim the land we took from them 150 years ago, relax, they already have. If you are still panicked, move to Maine.

Remember, the race goes not to the swift or the strong or even to the most intelligent. It goes to those who choose to breed.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND (CALIFORNIA):

Two days ago I attended my grandson Anthony’s graduation from high-school. What made this graduation different from most other high-school graduation ceremonies was that these were all students who had experienced problems at one time or another with the juvenile authorities and were considered at risk. Congratulations to you all.

Yesterday I had my initial meeting with the doctor. It appears that my schedule will have to be changed. I had hoped to be able to accompany Hayden to Italy on 10 June. One of his friends from Chiang Mai will be traveling through Italy at that time and I thought both would enjoy seeing each other again. Unfortunately, I will be in the middle of my procedure and recuperation.

My intake exam did not go as well as expected. It seems that things have progresses further than I had thought. Now there is a chance that I could be looking at, while not among the top three, probably somewhere in the top ten of things happening to my body I could do without.

Anyway, after experiencing a rather unpleasant temporary out-patient procedure, I am resting uncomfortably at Annemarie’s house. On the positive side, I am about three and one-half pounds lighter today than I was yesterday morning.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

THE PARABLE OF THE THOUGHTFUL GLADIATOR

Gladiators from the Zliten mosaic.

Gladiators from the Zliten mosaic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day, long ago, a group of gladiators were getting ready to enter the arena to fight each other to the death until just one remained. He, the winner, would receive a laurel crown from the Emperor followed by a good dinner in his honor attended everyone who was someone in the Empire. Each of the gladiators believed that he was sure to be the winner and looked forward to the fame it would bring and to that dinner. Each, of course, also shared a little fear that he would not win but would die that day instead.

One of them, the oldest, wisest and among the weakest of them, realizing his chances of surviving were pretty thin, spoke up. “Wait a minute, this is all pretty silly, here we are getting ready to go out into the arena and fight to the death until only one of us is left standing. All this so that the winner gets to wear some weeds and eat a good meal. And what is really sad about that is that whichever one of us is the winner, tomorrow he will be out of a job because all the rest of us are dead. That’s pretty stupid, if you ask me.”

The others thought about what he had said and after a while agreed that it was not very sensible. “But what can we do about it,” they asked?

“Well,” said the thoughtful gladiator, “we can all agree amongst ourselves to fight just as hard as we can in the arena, but when one of us goes down, the victor will make it look like he dealt a fatal stroke to the loser and then the loser will put on a good show and act as though he actually is dying. This will go on until only one of us is left standing. He will get the laurel crown and eat the meal and we all will get to do it again tomorrow and who knows, maybe a different one of us will win that day. And maybe each of us will learn over time how to fight a little bit better and how to die a little more realistically and the Emperor may be so entertained that he will give something more than some damned weeds and a ham bone.”

All the gladiators saw the right in what the thoughtful gladiator said and they all agreed to what he proposed and they all prospered.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed while I feel sorry for myself.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Sturgeon’s revelation“90 percent of everything is crap.”

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

“Those who manage the transactions ultimately make all the money.”

c. The Mac Attack:

“… republics should make it one of their aims to watch that none of their citizens should be allowed to do harm on pretense of doing good, and that no one should acquire an influence that would injure instead of promoting liberty; “
Niccolo Machiavelli

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If anyone should wish to know the truth with respect to you Christians, he will find your impiety to be made up partly of the Jewish audacity, and partly of the indifference and confusion of the Gentiles, and that you have put together not the best, but the worst characteristics of them both.
– Emperor/philosopher Julian (361-363)[Referred to in Christian History as “The Apostate”].

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) CALIFORNIA:

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

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

THE PARABLE OF THE LION AND THE GAZELLE

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

Lion - Washington DC National Zoo

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

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

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

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

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

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

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

“While I was still here?”

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

“How do you know about this?”

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

“So did you join?”

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

How so?”

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

“Anything more

“No, not really.”

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

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

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

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

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

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

c. The Mac Attack:

Niccolo Machiavelli 1 u

Niccolo Machiavelli 1 u (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

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

This and that from re Thai r mrnt, by 3Th. May 19, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2011: “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In their executive summary, the students note:

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

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

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

Hooray for us! We win.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) CALIFORNIA:

After leaving Bill and Naida’s ranch, I spent two days with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Norbert is busy trying to write the definitive history or California’s coastal protection legislation. The amount of research he has done amazed me as did his memory of people, places and events during those times( over 30 years ago). I believe that Norbert and Stevie are probably along with Peter Douglass and perhaps Bill Geyer and Ruth Galanter the people with the longest continuous involvement with the coastal protection movement in California. In Ruth and Bill’s cases, however, for the past decade or so they have become much less involved.

As for Peter Douglass, but for the last 20 years or so controversial years as Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, his impact on the course of things coastal has been mostly in his own mind. Peter was, by far, the earliest of all of those who have spent at least a portion of their careers in coastal protection. He worked as an aid to Senator Siroty during the failed attempts in the late 60’s and early 70’s to push coastal protection legislation through the legislature. He later attempted to take un-justified credit for drafting the initiative, known as Proposition 20 that was successfully passed by the California voters in 1972 and set up an agency to plan the future land use of the coast and regulate development so as not to impede implementation of the plan. During the period of Proposition 20, while I served as Chief Counsel for the Commission, as far as I could tell Peter’s involvement in either the planning or the ongoing regulation was almost nonexistent.

Following  completion of the Coastal Plan in 1975 and the submittal of the proposed implementation legislation to the legislature, most of us active at that time were determined to keep Peter as far away from any decision-making and participation as possible. Nearly all of us believed that not only was he incapable of understanding the complexities of the Plan, the legislation and the political strategy that was developed, but he had shown a distressing tendency to urge weakening of the protections whenever opposition presented itself. I had assigned on of the Commission’s staff members to sit with him every day and make sure he did nothing more that edit the legislation.

After the passage of the entire Coastal Program, Peter again disappeared from any involvement and for a while busied himself in an unsuccessful attempt to find work in the private sector. Ultimately he took a job as a not so respected member of the reconstituted Coastal Commission staff. Finding himself ignored, he resumed his search for other work when a series of unfortunate events, including resignation of the existing executive director, he, to the dismay of many in the environmental community, was chosen to succeed the departing director.

Over several years of ineffective management, his removal many on all sides of the development process urged his removal. Fortunately for Peter, the development community, through the inept handling of the move to remove him by the then Republican Governor, pushed the most radical members of the environmental community to rally around him and defeat the putsch, and Peter the Wishy-Washy seeing which side of his bread was buttered was reborn as an anti-development crusader.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Vince felt ager boil up within him as David burst through the door. But since David appeared highly agitated, he suppressed his urge to throw him out.

“What’s the matter, David,” he inquired as calmly as he could?

“This attorney, Seamus Cohen, that you want to hire. I think it is a very bad idea.”

“Why is that,” Vince said placidly while signaling Foster, who looked embarrassed and like he was ready to leave, to stay seated.

“I checked with some of my contacts, they say that while at the DOJ he was a loose cannon.”

“What does that mean in his case.”

“He was a laughing-stock. Both you and the firm will be also if you retain him.”

“I’m sorry David, I have already retained him and the executive committee voted to approve it.” Vince lied slightly. “Perhaps if you could be more specific, we would reconsider it.”

Kitchen looked a little startled, and sat in the other uncomfortable wooden chair, ignoring Foster’s presence.

“Ah well, of course my contacts did not give specifics, but they were adamant that he would embarrass you and the whole firm as well. He also has angered some of our most important clients with his shenanigans at DOJ and since.”

“Hmm… I see where that could be a concern. But he comes highly recommended to me. I will need a little more information before I reverse our decision. Perhaps you could have your contacts and concerned clients call me and give me the facts directly.”

“Dammit Vince, why are you so eager to hire this guy? Couldn’t you wait a few days until we vetted him?”

“Look David,” said Vince his voice getting a little higher. “I do not understand the issue here. He is my lawyer and suits my needs. You have provided me with no specific facts other that concerns expressed by your contacts that are inconsistent with mine.” Then for no reason that he could think of other than to throw our something to force Kitchen on the defensive. “Does this have something to do with that Yeung woman or the Brotherhood or Red Star? Do you know that I sent someone to fly up there to find Charlie and all he found it that Charlie is missing.”

Kitchen’s face darkened, whether from anger or embarrassment Vince could not make out.

“I thought we brought you back to manage the firm through its difficulties,” Kitchen drawled. “Why are you involving yourself in these matters Vince? They are a waste of everyone’s time.”

“That’s just it,” Vince responded his anger cooling slightly. “I am trying to get back to addressing the firm’s needs, That is what I am doing here with Foster, which you interrupted and why I intend to hire Cohen to handle these other things. It seems like every time I try to settle in and work on firm matters, you, Ms. Young, or Stephanie come along hinting at something mysterious about Red Star, the Brotherhood or whatever it is or even Sam’s death.”

“OK, ok, I get your point. I will get you something more specific about Cohen. I think you should avoid both Stephanie and that Yeung bitch. They both are time-wasters'”

“Probably, I have a meeting tomorrow with Stephanie. She says she has a lot to tell me. Maybe I’ll just blow her off.”

“That would be a good idea. I have to get back to work.” With that Kitchen left the office as abruptly as he came in.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Shermer’s Last Law — A corollary of Clarke’s three laws, it states that, “Any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence is indistinguishable from God.”
b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“It is interesting to note how much easier it is today for a government to abandon its promises to its people but not to its creditors.”

c. The Mac Attack:

“Men act right only upon compulsion; but from the moment that they have the option and liberty to commit wrong with impunity, then they never fail to carry confusion and disorder everywhere. It is this that has caused it to be said that poverty and hunger make men industrious, and that the law makes men good; and if fortunate circumstances cause good to be done without constraint, the law may be dispensed with. But when such happy influence is lacking, then the law immediately becomes necessary.”
Machiavelli.

In other words, there is neither God, nor the mythical “Invisible Hand” of the self-correcting market to right things. It is up to us to create the laws that assure our society is what we wish it to be.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“He who has bathed in Christ, does not need a second bath.”

Saint Jerome.

Jerome, you stinker, you.

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

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

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still awaiting either inspiration, perspiration or a desperate request.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

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

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. 8300 BC – 1700 – Today

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

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

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Where have you gone cowboy?

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

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

And if your preference is history then how about:

TODAY’S QUOTES:

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

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

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

TODAY’S CHART:

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

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 23. 2011

English: Map of Pitcairn Islands (rough), Paci...

Map of Pitcairn Islands (rough), Pacific Ocean, own work composed from various mapreferences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2011: According to UN estimates Pitcairn Islands is the worlds smallest country in terms of population containing just about 50 citizens.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Coup rumblings or show of force:

Military exercises by about 1000 élite troops are being held in Bangkok ostensibly so that the troops can show their support of the monarchy. In his speech to these troops the commander of the 1st Infantry Division (the troops that put down the Red Shirt protest last year) proclaimed, “All from the 1st Infantry Regiment are the Kings soldiers. Hence, you must be ready to act on commands of your superiors.” He then went on to urge them to have faith in their commanders and strictly obey their orders, and insisted that all soldiers should share the army chief’s stance.

Huh…what about the Kings stance or that of the democratically elected government?

b. Who runs the country:

It should be noted that although the current military high command apparently dominates the existing civilian government in power the opposition United Front for Democracy (UDD) is led by a general. The UDD has just severed its ties with the main opposition party, the Puea Thai (Thaksin and Red Shirt backed party).

Is this an attempt by the General to secure himself a position in the next government whether formed by coup or election?

c. Although it may only be proposed as electioneering propaganda the current ruling party proposes an interesting approach to taxes:

The ruling Democrats have proposed higher consumption taxes as a means of lowering the income gap. Now consumption taxes always have been criticized as a means for the very rich to transfer whatever burden of support for the government they may be asked to bear themselves to the poor, working and middle classes through progressive income taxes, not otherwise avoided by tax reductions on the rich by means of a flattened tax role or simple non progressive roll back of rates. Simply, the wealthiest people in a society spend relatively less of their income on consumable than the rest of us and apply more of it to savings and accumulation of capital. In an effort to defuse this criticism or disguise its impact by arguing that the wealthy would pay more for luxury goods that the rest of the population cannot afford and thereby contribute more funds to the public treasury that they now avoid through deductions applicable mostly to them, like deductions for investments into long-term mutual funds (by the way, providing a greater benefit to the operators of the mutual funds than to the investors who reap the benefits of this largess through fees).* There is however a history of progressive application of consumption fees in Thailand through escalating tax rates for increased electricity use, more costly luxury cars and some environmental pollution fees.

* ( If the mutual funds actually provided a greater rate of return on investment than competing investments then investors would so invest as classical economic market theory predicts. By pushing for this redistribution of tax burden, the financial industry that promoted it actually encourages less competition and efficiency than classical economic market theory demands. It is instructive to note how silent most classical economists in the US, who are primarily paid by the financial industry, remain when faced by violations of their theories in situations like this and in cases of other supply side subsidies, while on the other hand their voices tremble with indignation any proposed rise in the minimum wage.)

d. OK it is about the US and not Thailand, but nevertheless:

Standard and Poor rating agency which along with Moody’s generally considered co-conspirator in the world-wide financial collapse of 2008 for setting their ratings for the benefit of their clients and who went unpunished, have recently threatened to downgrade the US credit rating because of the stalemate in congress over the means to reduce the national debt. Who do you suppose is paying them for their action now?

By the way wouldn’t such a threat to the welfare of the country be classified as treason. If you recall only a short while ago [and perhaps even now] those who advocated a change in the country’s economic system were branded traitors.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am back in Paradise by the Sea for a few days packing up the apartment in preparation for my trip to the US. I regret having to give up the place, but economic considerations of maintaining an extra residence here during my stay in the US argue against keeping it. I am sure I can find a similar place upon my return.

English: Red shirt in Bangkok.

Red shirt in Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The little masseuse, a committed and determined red shirt supporter, spends much of her time watching the political debates on television. She attends all the Red Shirt rallies in Bangkok and some times attends the Yellow Shirt ones as well. When I ask her why she attends opposition events and listens so intently to their speeches on television, she says, “I want to understand exactly what they are saying so that I am better prepared.” I feel a little ashamed, I cannot stand watching Faux News.

I offered to take Hayden with me to spend a few days at the sea-shore and save her the burden of arranging for his care. Originally she agreed, then the day that we were to depart, SWAC claimed Hayden had a rash and needed to remain in Bangkok accessible to medical treatment in an emergency, so he could not come with me. The morning following my arrival here, I received a hysterical call from her demanding my return as soon as possible claiming she could not cope with the child and all the other things she had to do. Since I was going to return tomorrow anyway, I promised I would cut short my trip and return tomorrow to help relieve her anxiety.

I have not finalized my arrangements for my trip to the US yet, in part because I still do not know where I will be staying while I am in San Francisco attending to my medical issues.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed because this current issue of “This and that…” has become too damned long.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. The Mac Attack:

“Men act right only upon compulsion; but from the moment that they have the option and liberty to commit wrong with impunity, then they never fail to carry confusion and disorder everywhere. It is this that has caused it to be said that poverty and hunger make men industrious, and that the law makes men good; and if fortunate circumstances cause good to be done without constraint, the law may be dispensed with. But when such happy influence is lacking, then the law immediately becomes necessary.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the first 10 Books of Titus Livius, chap.111

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

“Competition in a 100 yard dash lasts about 10 seconds. Competition in the market lasts about the same length of time before someone “tries to game it.

c. Today’s chart (we all are one or at least L3 and 3 mostly):

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Without waiting for Pino’s answer, he slipped into one of those midget high-rises that were not more than twelve stories high, having been built around the same time as the chemical works and having just as quickly fallen into ruin, when not abandoned altogether. For someone approaching from the sea, Vigata rose up like a parody of Manhattan, on a reduced scale.”
Andrea Camilleri, The Shape of Water.

Camilieri’s Vigata is actually Porto Empedocle, a town on the southern shore of Sicily a few miles south-west of Agrigento [Montelusa in Camilleri’s novels.] When I lived in Sicily in the late 1960s, Porto Empedocle had not yet sprouted the high rises or industries referenced in the novels. At that time, the town was home to some of the best sea-food restaurants in the southern part of the island, however.

TODAY’S PHOTOS:

Contemporary Porto Empedocle :

Porto Empedocle

Porto Empedocle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, bt 3Th. April 13, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2004. The Journal of the American Psychological Society published a study that found that “Women prefer both the scent of symmetrical men and masculine male faces more during the fertile (late follicular and ovulatory) phases of their menstrual cycles than during their infertile (e.g., luteal) phases. Men’s behavioral displays in social settings may convey signals that affect women’s attraction to men even more strongly.” The Study also found that women preferred men who “displayed social presence and direct intrasexual competitiveness increased on (the woman’s) high-fertility days relative to low-fertility days, but only in a short-term, not a long-term, mating context.”

In other words, during certain periods of the month, when a woman is feeling like she would like some sex, good-looking confident guys have a better chance of a one night stand with her than guys not so good-looking and confident. Who would have thought.

The study also found that during the other times of the month women would consider long-term relationships with the not so good-looking guys as long as they were rich. Wow! Isn’t science grand?

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. What does it all mean:

Recently the General in charge of the war against the islamic separatists in the three southernmost districts of the country has proposed combining the three districts into a single semi-autonomous state headed by a strong governor (himself of course) who he maintains would be better able to bring the warring parties together and end the insurgency.

One has to understand that the Thai Army general staff considers the indigenous Red Shirts a greater threat to Thailand than the separatist (often foreign) insurgents in the south. Therefore, they have begun the process of separating that part of the country from the rest, so that they could better concentrate their attention (and forces) on the political threat to the particular military faction currently in ascendency.

b. Context:

To better understand what is occurring now in Thailand I thought it would be helpful to quote from an article in the Bangkok Post written on September 19, 2010, almost 7 months ago:

“The Cost of the 2006 Coup

Since Sept 19, 2006, the military’s budget has almost doubled — going from 85 billion baht at that time to 154 billion baht this year. That number is set to jump to 170 billion next year. There are some 1,100 generals in the army.

‘There has not been such a consolidation of power by a single class of army graduates since the rise of Class 5 led by another coup-maker Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon, in 1991’ (Surachat Bamrungsuk, political science professor, Chulalongkorn U).

Among our neighbors, military power has only reached this level in Burma.

The increased role of the military overtook the space for a civilian government. In fact, the army has actually taken on a new role as political manager.”

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

English: The roads along the old moat of Chian...

 

This is the week of the Songkran Festival in Thailand where roving bands of happy Thais and vicious farangs spray anyone foolish enough to be out on the streets with water in an effort to encourage, apparently by sympathetic magic, the timely arrival of the Monsoon rains. Given the floods that have recently devastated the country, one would think that they would reconsider the goal of the festival, at least for this year,

Despite my dislike of the festival and the repeated drenching I will experience, I intend to depart for Paradise by the Sea tomorrow and run the gauntlet of the mostly crazed and drunken revelers that will line my route from downtown Pattaya to my condominium.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter 17.

The Vince Biondi character called a hastily arranged meeting of all the characters of the novel, “Red Star,” in the firm’s still mostly under-described conference room. As they began to crowd into the room he noticed that there were even some characters that had not yet been introduced into the book. Since they had not yet been developed they for the most part appeared undefined and ghost like. Nevertheless, in some cases he could make out the type of character they would become. One, standing behind him too close for comfort, he was sure was destined to become a standard issue contract killer.

He decided to begin before everyone had settled into their places.

“I have just spoken to the author,” he said loudly enough to be heard over the din. The room quieted markedly but not completely as some late arrivers were still moving about.

“He wanted me to inform you all of the results of his request to his reviewers and readers as to their interest in  continuation of the novel.” He paused briefly for dramatic effect. “No one, not one of the 40 or so queried indicated any interest in the work. In fact, not even one responded to his inquiry at all”

In the enclosed space of the conference room the noise from collective intake of breath, cries of ‘Oh no’ and the like, the whisperings, and movement of bodies and chairs combined into a roar that Vince knew he could not talk over so he raised his hand for quiet and waited until things settled down enough for him to be heard. “The author wanted me to read to you the following message from him.”

Vince looked down on the piece of paper lying flat on the conference table in front of him, cleared his throat and read:

“As most of you know although it was my fervent desire to complete the novel upon which you have all been engaged (It is my first after all), I am quite resigned to moving on to other things. Although I was eager to get to some of the planned but unwritten expository chapters, I have not the slightest idea how to end the mystery story.

Nevertheless, I am quite aware of the sacrifices that you have made to give me this opportunity to write my first novel. So, before you begin your search for other employment…”

Here Vince hesitated slight;y at  mention of other employment. He knew and the others in the room knew that for most of them, there was no other employment, this was the end of the line, after this there was only oblivion as their characters were thrown back into the character pool and broken up into their constituent parts until reassembled as new characters in a new literary work.

“…I would like to let you know that I remain open to suggestions from you as to how I may be able to mitigate this burden on you all”

Here the message ended and Vince looked up into faces in various stages of definition that looked back at him. He never thought the author was particularly talented. Now he knew he was an asshole also.

He waited….

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
a. 30,000 year development of the art of painting:
1. 30,000 years ago:

2. Contemporary:

b. Insults for every day use that are sure to incite retaliation:

WHEN DID YOU STOP SLEEPING WITH YOUR MOTHER?

c. Yiddish for the beginner (from Wikipedia) (cont.):

fleishig: made with meat.
ganef or gonif: thief, scoundrel.
gelt: money; chocolate coins eaten on Hanukkah.
glitch: a minor malfunction.
golem: a man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster.
goy: a Gentile, someone not of the Jewish faith or people.
haimish (also heimish): home-like, friendly, folksy.
huck; sometimes “hock,” “huk,” “hak”. Etc.: to bother incessantly, to break, or nag.
kibitz: to offer unwanted advice, e.g., to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer.
klutz: clumsy person.
kosher: conforming to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate.
kvell: to feel delighted and proud to the point of tears.
kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe; as a noun, a person who always complains.

d. The Mac attack:

“Men have imagined republics and principalities that never really existed at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is, for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation; for a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Another one of my favorites I felt worthy of repeating:

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago.
We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes,
it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Hit it.”
Blues Brothers

The Very Best of The Blues Brothers

The Very Best of The Blues Brothers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 2, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

70,000 BCE: At least 25,000 years before fully anatomically humans appeared on earth, a giant stone in the African Kalahari desert resembling a python was constructed, containing a hidden chamber and surrounded by broken spear heads. It has been suggested that it is possibly the site of ritual offerings and snake worship.

(or an early dope stash)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Second hand submarines:

The Thai newspapers today have followed up the story regarding the purchase of defective Ukrainian tanks by the Thai military by reporting the planed purchase of six secondhand submarines from Germany. The vessels are 30 years old and slated for decommissioning. They have an estimated life of at most an additional 10 years.

The Thai military announced that the needed the subs for national defense because nearby countries like Indonesia have some submarines. Unfortunately, conventional submarines, especially outmoded ones are designed for anti-shipping activities, the defense against which are not other submarines but air and surface vessel with anti submarine equipment.

An accompanying story revealed the real reason for the purchase. The military will have to create an additional command structure for the submarine force (More officer level appointments) and this plan for a Thai submarine fleet has existed for over 60 years and was developed during the Japanese domination of the country during WWII. Also, the military has obtained a greatly increased defense budget over which they, the military command, sets its own priorities. As I mentioned in my comments almost a year ago, this was part of the deal for military support of the current government and for suppression of the Thaksin and his Red Shirts.

(Bad ideas in the military apparently neither die nor fade away. If you give a general enough money he will bring back swords, horse cavalry and anti-ballistic missile defense. )

b. In addition to the recent earthquakes:

The weather in Thailand has become more extreme recently. There have been unusual flooding in many parts of the country, most recently in the south coupled with massive storms creating unheard of 15 to 25 foot waves in the Gulf of Thailand. The north and northeast of the country is suffering through its third year of drought.

Although attempting to generalize anything regarding climate from one season or a few months weather in a small area of the globe is unrealistic. It is interesting to note that local weather patterns experienced recently in Southeast Asia reflect precisely those predicted for the area on long-term world-wide climate models.

c. Catastrophe model:

A recent article in the Bangkok Post business section included a chart showing the yearly increase in the number of catastrophic events in the world since about 1970 as well as the annual insurance reimbursement for the damages. By far the majority of catastrophic events have been weather related, but the chart includes other natural phenomena such as earthquakes as well as man-made catastrophes.

The chart indicates the that the number of catastrophic events per year have increased almost 10 fold since 1970, while the amount of the damages covered by insurance has only grown by a factor of two or three.

Of course, a forty-year trend in world events is too brief a time period to draw general conclusions as to its cause or duration, however I can infer the following:

1. The weather and climatic trends described in the chart mirror the predictions of most climate models.
2. The increased disparity between the damages caused by these catastrophes and the amount covered by private insurance indicates either government is making up the difference through tax revenue or borrowing or more and more of the damage is going unrestored or compensated resulting in a decrease in actual sunk capital of a region or nation.

Also, in this article they describe the results that a well-known economist has drawn from this information. The economist, notes that the rate of return demanded by capital markets on debt and investments currently are higher than warranted by the apparent risks involved. This he maintains is the result of the market accounting for the unreimbursed costs and risks on the ever-increasing damage caused by the escalating number of large catastrophes.

Now if we discount for a moment my own questions about the validity of the assumptions used for this kind of economic analysis and its supposition’s reliability and assume that it more or less accurately describes the situation, then I think that one could vnture the following conclusions:

1. Inflation is just about as likely from the supply side as from the demand and monetary policy is probably inadequate a remedy.
2. Commodity prices (e.g., food and raw materials) should increase at a greater rate than justified by the temporary scarcity of the natural resources caused by the catastrophic events.
3. World capital availability will be diminished at an ever-increasing rate due to both this surcharge on capital and by the resulting inflation.
4. In an attempt to preserve their capital, those that have accumulated great amounts of it will seek its preservation by strategies that in one way or another impoverish production rather than using the capital to increase it, for as Adam Smith observed: “…all… men, love to reap where they never sowed….”

d. Sex Lottery:

The recent appearance of “Sex Lotteries” in and around the old capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya have been reported in the press. For about $1 (30 baht) one can buy a lottery ticket entitling the winner within three days or so of the announcement of the drawing to have sex with the woman of his choice, chosen from a book of photographs provided by the organizers.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am still drifting about trying to decide what to do during the next month or three. Since Hayden’s termination of his school semester and his departure to the US entail three to four weeks absent school, friends (who will be in school) or diversion, SWAC has indicated that she would be amenable to allowing him to join up with his friend Leo during the few days vacation Leo has between  completing his course in his current school and beginning his matriculation at his new school.

I suspect that she is agreeable to contemplate this option because of my unwillingness to remain in Bangkok during Hayden’s temporary forced retirement from schooling.

I also must decide if I will travel with them back to the US in early May. Right now I do not see a great problem with that since after arrival, initially I will be heading to SF and they to Sacramento.

On the other hand with SWAC all things are ephemeral at best.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed to increase suspense.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Machiavelli’s observations (The Mac. Attack?):

“In every republic there are two parties, that of the nobles (read here rich and the powerful individuals and institutions, [JP]) and that of the people; and all the laws that are favorable to liberty result from the opposition of these parties to each other.”
Discourses on the first 10 books of Titus Livius, chap IV.

Mac. was wrong. Although as Keynes observed, “In the long run we all are dead”, in the long run the “nobles” generally will prevail long before the rest of us depart.

b. Pookie’s epistle:

“Christianity was the first creed in history to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love.”
(Anonyomous)

Now I mention this not to point out any deficiency in Christianity, After all for as long as humanity has existed it has always sought comfortable metaphors to justify its penchant to slaughter its own kind. No, I only mention it as an especially apt example of humanity’s facility in the use of euphemisms to justify the murder and mayhem of members of its own species.

When humankind first dropped down from the trees like rotting fruit and stood upright to see above the grasslands of North-central Africa, it immediately set off seeking things to kill. Now some people argue that the first steps on the road to civilization was humanity’s discovery of the use of tools (technology) or symbols (language). I do not agree.

I believe that it was its dawning awareness, that unlike most other species, it could with impunity kill members of its own species, take their land, expropriate their reproduction machines and as a side benefit reduce the number of excess testosterone producers (and potential competitors). It was this awareness that made the creature we call human beings.

As we know, this was God’s way, as He, Himself, tells us in the sacred writings of the Peoples of the Book. For example in Joshua 10:40:

“Thus Joshua struck the whole country. He left not one survivor, as Yahweh, god of Israel had commanded. “

And also in Numbers 31,17.18:

“Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

Humanity, a symbol using animal, required ever more highfalutin words to encourage this unique behavior since plunder, loot and sex grew tiresome, especially as individuals aged and because about half of the species, females specifically, never completely bought into the idea. Eventually, this kill and conquer idea began to be seen by some as a scam to benefit a few members of one boy’s club or another. Even killing for “God” loses his savior faire after a while. So it became necessary for humanity periodically to come up with new words like honor, pride, patriotism, national defense, racial purity and the like to inspire enough people to go out and slaughter their neighbors to make it worthwhile. And although these words were pretty good at getting people up into a killing frenzy, it seemed the boys needed a never ending supply of  new words and phrases  to keep the, happy. No one had thought of killing people for love before the Christians came along. It worked very well for a while.

About one hundred years ago, that group of people currently occupying Northwestern Europe and North America realized that, in general, people seemed  get a little tired of killing one another for love, (or patriotism which briefly supplanted love) so they came up with and even better one word rational for slaying their adversaries, “Freedom”. Now we could happily kill people to make them free. (it should be noted that killing in the name of god appears to be a Middle-Eastern invention while killing for love Central-Mediterranean. )

Unfortunately, about a score of years ago or so, some people (another boys club most likely) realized that killing people to take their land and their reproductive machines while reducing the excess capacity of testosterone production was only a by-product of another even greater need; the need to periodically destroy the weapons and technology of destruction so that new ones can be made, thereby keeping people at work and happy and the owners of the organizations responsible for producing the ever more expensive killing machines rich and powerful.

Now it is true that the same effect could be had by tossing all the weapons and war material into a large bonfire every three years or so. But since the money to fuel the bonfire comes from the pockets of individuals, and while they may be happy to do so for a while for love, patriotism or freedom or whatever, they recognized, that the people paying for the bonfire may eventually decide to want to use their money to pay for other things than weapons to throw on to the fire. In fact, in the United States of America, there arose a debate on whether the collective funds (taxes or other exactions) should be used for things besides armaments, like roads or health care. This was ok as long as there was enough money. However, when the people paying decided that they did not want to pay more, or even as much as they had been, into the collective pot, it became incumbent upon those whose livelihood depended upon the bonfire to throw their overwhelming financial and political support to those opposed to the expenditure of their contribution of collective funds to benefit any other interest than that necessary to assuage their own fear. And as usual, in the eternal battle to control the hearts and minds of humanity, those with the most to gain win.

As Machiavelli observed 500 years ago:

“Those who counsel a prince have to fear lest he should have someone near him who in time of peace desires war, because he cannot gain his living without it.”

And for those who believe that eventually humanity (often referred to as “The People”) will recognize this and rise up and throw out those who have the wherewithal to understand and use humanity’s genetic blindness for their own benefit, it is not going to happen, never has, never will. Liberalism has never prevailed by revolution or by evolution. What we experience as periods of increasing liberality and freedom are usually merely temporary. Enjoy it while it lasts.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.”

~John Adams

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 8, 2010

Looking down Filbert Street in North Beach, Sa...

Looking down Filbert Street in North Beach, San Francisco. Saints Peter and Paul Church towers over the neighborhood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PAPA JOE’S TALES AND FABLES:

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BABA GIUFA

Baba Giufa and the Irritating Young Man.

On day Baba Giufa and two of his female Dharmanoids were sitting at a sidewalk café in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Baba Giufa had become successful enough that he had replaced his bus-boys jacket with a resplendent white designer blazer. His pants were no longer string tied and off-white in color, but bright white slacks from the same designer. He had abandoned the pink flip-flops for the latest fashionable pair of trainers and although on his head he still wore a Panama hat with its black band and its brim cut off, it was no longer the old beat up one that he had previously sported.

His two Dharmanoids were dressed in scarlet gospel singer robes. He originally had them dress in white robes but when the laundry bill got too high for his tastes, he changed the color to that of the local football team of which he was an ardent fan. He called his female Dharmanoids his Befanas because they brought him presents.

Now it came to pass that on this day a group of about three young men passed by and seeing them sitting there drinking their espresso began to laugh and point at them. The leader of that particular group being, as leaders often are, also the most aggressive, came up to the table where Baba Giufa and his Dharmanoids sat.

“You three look ridiculous”, he shouted loud enough so that his friends could hear.

Baba Giufa ignored him.

“What’s your name weirdo,” the youth challenged?

Baba Giufa now looked directly into the young man’s eyes and after a moment or two responded calmly, “They call me Baba Giufa.”

“Bullshit,” cried the young man. ” Whats your real name?”

“My real name is unpronounceable,” said Baba Giufa in a soft voice.

“More bullshit, “ said the young man becoming redder in the face. “Everything is pronounceable, asshole.”

“So you think you can pronounce my real name then?” asked Baba Giufa.

“Ha, of course,” said the boy.

“I will tell you what” said Baba Giufa, “If you can pronounce my name, I will buy you and your friends each an espresso, and if you cannot then you and your mates will move along and leave us alone. Does that seem fair?”

“Stupid, but sure, ok” he responded turning and grinning at his friends, “Go ahead.”

And with this agreement in place Baba Giufa leaned forward slightly and simply stared even more intently into the boy’s face.

Finally after a while the young man became uncomfortable and said “Well? Say Something.”

To which Baba Giufa responded, “Ah, so you admit you cannot pronounce my real name?”

“What?” the young man exploded, “You haven’t said anything yet.”

“And that’,” responded Baba Giufa, “is why I am called Baba Giufa.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

The Princess Bride (film)

The Princess Bride (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a. Wisdom of the Princess Bride:

Westley: “Hear this now: I will always come for you.”
Buttercup: “But how can you be sure?”
Westley: “This is true love – you think this happens every day?”

b. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Trait ascription bias – the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as much more predictable.

c. From God’s mouth to your ears:

“He that is wounded in the stones or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”Deuteronomy 23.1.

Say what? So it is God that we must blame for man’s peculiar preoccupation. If we are so afflicted He says we cannot go to church. I always thought it had to do with something else. But God never liked that either.)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Expenditures engender exactions, and exactions produce complaints.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesmen.

BONUS QUOTE:

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

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

In 1950, there were 83 cities with populations exceeding one million; by 2007, this number had risen to 468.

Hmmm…. that is more than a five-fold rise. During this same period the total number of people on the earth only tripled. If things keep going at this rate, we will soon have more cities of over one million than we have people.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

During my weekly massage, my masseuse likes to watch the Thai soap operas on television while she administers the various pains and pleasures of her therapy.

Now, as I am sure we all know, soaps are a window into the dark, twisted soul of a society, so it is with Thai soap operas.

To me they all appear to tell the same stories and contain the same characters. There is the beautiful innocent heroine and the equally beautiful though not so innocent young woman. You can usually tell them apart by their eyebrows. The innocent heroine’s eyebrows are somewhat rounded, while her evil counterpart’s are straighter. They are accompanied by two equally attractive young men, one good and the other not so good. These four then are supported by a cast of actors and actresses of varying ages often playing family members of the protagonists. There are also one or two comic characters, usually played by ladyboys.

Although the stories are generally all the same, their location varies. I have seen Thai soaps set in the homes of the rich, and others in the homes of the poor living beside a klong somewhere. I have also seen them set in grocery stores, health clubs and farms. Some occur in modern times others in old Siam and still others are set in times of magic or in some guerilla campaign somewhere.

Anyway, this particular day the masseuse was watching a soap in which the straight browed beauty dressed all in black, carried a sword and had just done unspeakable things to a group of poor people locked in cages.

Viewing this through my western acclimated eyes that sees everything as a conflict between good and evil, no matter the atrocities performed by either side, I commented, “She must be the bad girl.”

To which my masseuse responded, “Good or bad, it makes no difference. She is beautiful and everyone cares about her and what she does. If she were not so beautiful no one would give a damn at all about her or anything she does.”

PAPA JOE’S TALES AND FABLES:

FURTHER TALES OF BABA GIUFA

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now Baba Giufa’s guru business prospered and he eventually moved into a large house near Dolores Park in San Francisco where he lived with his acolytes whom he called his Dharmanoids. Now the Dharmanoids consisted of eight young women, the skinny, bearded long-haired inquisitive young man named Babu Beardo who handled the business side of the operation and a heavy-set silent man named Edgar.

The largest room of the house had brightly polished dark wood floors and a great number of cushions strewn about on which the Dharmanoids, visitors and worshipers sat. The only furniture in the room was a large comfortable overstuffed chair in which only Baba Giufa sat. He sat on the chair because he hated sitting on the floor. He considered it very uncomfortable.

Here he sat, smoking his chillum, listening to music from india or by Bob Dylan and enjoying the smell of incense. Here he also greeted visitors and instructed the Dharmanoids and worshipers. He called this room his Shamrock.

One day one of the worshippers asked Baba Giufa, “Since most other religious leaders call their places of worship their ashram, temple or church, why do you call yours ‘Shamrock'”?

To which Baba Giufa responded, “The Shamrock is a plant with three equally sized and shaped leaves.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is to marry Humperdink in little less then half an hour so all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape, after I kill count Rugen.”
Westley: “That doesn’t leave much time for dilly-dally.”

b. Today’s Featured Cognitive Bias:

Authority bias – the tendency to value an ambiguous stimulus (e.g., an art performance) according to the opinion of someone who is seen as an authority on the topic.

c. Yiddish for the beginner (from Wikipedia) (cont.):

fleishig: made with meat.
ganef or gonif: thief, scoundrel.
gelt: money; chocolate coins eaten on Hanukkah.
glitch: a minor malfunction.
golem: a man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster.
goy: a Gentile, someone not of the Jewish faith or people.
haimish (also heimish): home-like, friendly, folksy.
huck; sometimes “hock”, “huk”, “hak”. etc.: to bother incessantly, to break, or nag.
kibitz: to offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer.
klutz: clumsy person.
kosher: conforming to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate.
kvell: to feel delighted and proud to the point of tears.
kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe; as a noun, a person who always complains.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The people are rich when the money does not go out of their country, when they are content with what their country produces, and when money is constantly brought into their country by those who want the products of their industry, which they supply to foreign countries.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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