Posts Tagged With: Popes

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Pookie 0004 (December 7, 2015)


“People don’t do things for big ideas. They do it for personal reasons, then justify their actions with moral arguments.”
Hertling, William. The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) (p. 120). liquididea press.





Back in Bangkok the monsoons seem to be ending, the skies are clearing and the temperature relatively moderate. I had dinner with Gary, Pui and their irrepressible four-year-old GJ in a pretty good restaurant on Soi 8 named Bek5.

GJ with an unnamed young lady.

On most days, after mornings at the health club followed by a massage at Gary’s Silk Spa on Soi 13, I have lunch at a tiny restaurant near my apartment followed by a brief walk until the heat gets to me.
The restaurant on Soi Nana

Soi Nana a short distance from my apartment.

A nearby Klong (canal).

I then return to my apartment and nap the afternoon away while LM works on the knitted wool hats that she sells to tourists on the downtown sidewalks (or, more often than not, to me).

Sometimes she wakes me up to model them.

Nikki arrived in Bangkok for a two-day stay. He suggested dinner at a restaurant on the Chao Phraya River across from the Temple of Dawn. We took a taxi there with a driver who assured us he knew the way. After circling the Royal precincts, at least, four times and asking innumerable other taxi drivers and pedestrians, we figured out that he was hopelessly lost. We exited the taxi near the palace grounds, found our way to a hotel and asked for directions. The restaurant was just a few steps away down an alley we had passed several times. At least, we got to see the Palace and Wat Po lit up at night and the elaborate light displays in celebration of the Kings birthday.
A street scene near the Palace parade grounds.

Wat Po at night.

The restaurants were on a dock first used by the palace to receive construction materials and later by the British for their Imperial commercial ventures. There were two restaurants one slightly more upscale than the other. We chose the more modest establishment and were delighted with the view of the temple, the river, and the brightly lit dinner cruise boats drifting by.
Nikki modeling his new knitted cap with the designer watching.

A pink dinner cruise ship passing the Temple of Dawn.
Near our apartment there runs an elevated bicycle, motorbike and walking trail that extends from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center near Asoke, along a fetid canal and through the remnants of one of Bangkok’s legendary slums to peter out somewhere near Wireless Road not far from the American embassy. I like to walk along there early in the evening when it is cooler and sit by the lake at the convention center to watch the bikers or joggers pass by or walk above the ramshackle neighborhood observing the street life below.
Homes along the Klong.

Bicyclists in the park
The lake at the Convention Center park.

A view of Klong Toey slums.

Another view.
Then, with my suitcase filled with this year’s consignment of knitted caps for Christmas gifts, I left Bangkok.

The plane ride was not too bad. I slept through most of the 22-hour trip, ate woeful food and watched a couple of movies. As was my tradition, I did not speak to my seat-mate.

After arriving at SFO, I had lunch with Peter at a very nice place in Noe Valley followed a few hours later with a 50th birthday celebration for my son at another good restaurant in West Portal.

After the party, we returned to Jason’s apartment where he insisted on filling me with vitamins, minerals, and other substances that he assured me would cure me of any sicknesses I may acquire, sharpen my mind, end athletes foot, lengthen my life and teach me how to play the piano. Convinced all it would do is kill me, I nevertheless swallowed it all confident that I was playing my assigned role in the eternal drama of parents giving up their lives for the happiness of their progeny. After this, my son and I discussed the mistakes we had made in our lives, offenses given and taken, whether libertarianism is superior to liberalism, the mastery of Stephan Curry and the plight of the 49rs. I awoke the next day at 3:20 in the afternoon to an empty apartment surprised that I was still alive or terrified that in life after death I was condemned to be confined eternally alone in the last place I had seen before expiring.

I quickly packed up my things and trundled off to the train that would take me back to the golden hills of El Dorado. On the train, I cried. Whether it was because I was terminally exhausted, tired of life or suffering through withdrawal, I did not know but soon decided I did not care because they all seemed the same.


One morning as I lay on a lounge chair by the pool, the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver and perhaps Pirate stopped by to chat. He takes Aikido lessons at the health club and enjoys steam baths. He keeps the ashes of two friends in cigar boxes in his locker. Periodically, as they requested, he scatters their ashes in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute throughout South East Asia.

He reminisced about his life as a deep sea salvage driver and treasure hunter in the American Virgin Islands during the sixties and seventies.

Inspired by the movie Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he left his life of petty crime in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a government program to train underwater salvage and construction specialists.

After a few years, he found himself living in the Virgin Islands and along with about four or five others, made up an itinerant band of underwater salvage and construction workers — sort of a wet monkey-wrench gang without the social consciousness. He worked on the underwater construction of the St Thomas Airport, and also pipelines, gas lines, petroleum structures, in-situ aquariums and the like.

With his VW bus loaded with ten Scuba air containers, ten truck tire inner-tubes and a two-way radio, he prowled the island on behalf of the coast guard or various insurance companies lifting sunken boats using the inflated inner tubes or searching for saleable salvage.

At one time he and his friends competed with Mel Fischer to locate the Atocha. They searched around Marathon Island and Fischer between Key West and Tortuga. They found cannons and anchors, bottles and bones, but Fischer found the gold.

For a while, they supported themselves by every morning securing the hawsers over the bollards when the cruise ships arrived in port and releasing them when they sailed in the evening. They also searched the bottom of the sea for salvage, mostly anchors that they sold to boat owners and bottles they sold through consignment shops (blue bottles from the 19th Century and earlier were destined for apothecaries and usually held poisons).

At times, he also worked as a sailor, boat builder and sail maker. For two years, he crewed the Colgate heirs family yacht, a 150-200 ft three-masted schooner named the Lorelei Lee. But mostly, he caroused until he decided to travel around the Pacific (Including a stint in the merchant marine delivering supplies to the American troops in Viet Nam), often living the delightful life of a beach bum and eventually ending up in Bangkok in a single room of a downtrodden hotel where his walls are covered with wonderful photographs of his life and where he keeps a running list of friends who have died.



A. Quigley on Top:

“It might be stated as a general rule that any organization functions only with and against those who accept its basic principles of organization and values.”
Carroll Quigley

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that it’s citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?”

C. Today’s Poem:

Night of the Succubus — Rhyming Couplets

It took me with its mouth and tongue.
It took me as though I were young.
It took me in the night.
It took me in my fright.
It took me till dawn was spread.
It took me till I was dead.



“The Church had created the concept of the university and had established the first of them in the twelfth century. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk, was arguably the greatest mathematician of the thirteenth-century*. Bishop Robert Grosseteste was the first man to write down the necessary steps for performing a scientific experiment. Jesuits had built the first reflecting telescopes, microscopes, barometers, were first to calculate the constant of gravity, the first to measure the height of the mountains on the moon, the first to develop an accurate method of calculating a planet’s orbit, the first to devise and publish a coherent description of atomic theory.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (pp. 56-57). Random House Publishing Group.

*Gerbert, later Pope Sylvester II, was the greatest mathematician of the 10th Century.

Alas, shortly after this period of vibrant scientific exploration, the Church, in an effort to out intolerant the new religions of Europe’s north, shut down scientific inquiry for the next 400 years.



A surprising image perched atop a bar near my apartment.


Categories: October through December 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. March 16, 2011


Did tax cuts for the rich create the Great Divergence?

Income tax rates have changed dramatically during the past 30 years. During the Reagan administration (1981-89), the top marginal rate dropped from 70 percent to 58 percent, and eventually to 28 percent. Under subsequent presidents it has hovered between 30 percent and 40 percent. But effective tax rates—what people actually pay—didn’t change nearly as much. For incomes in the top 1 percent, the effective tax rate went from 37 percent in 1979 to 29.5 percent today, with a big drop and subsequent rise during the 1980s. For incomes in the bottom 20 percent, the percentage change in the effective tax rate was much more dramatic—it was halved, from 8 percent in 1979 to 4 percent in 2007. But to contribute to the Great Divergence, the bottom quintile’s effective tax rate would have to have increased.

Tax cuts for the rich certainly contributed to the Great Divergence. But it would be hard to argue, based on this data, they were the major factor.

(The question remains, if the top 1% have seen their Federal taxes reduced by almost 1/3 and the lowest 20% by half, who has been paying for this huge increase in government spending we have been hearing about*? Actually, it has been paid for through borrowing by the Republican administrations and by various forms of bracket creep on the middle class occurring during every administration.
* Only entitlements and defense spending have been increasing, discretionary spending has become an ever shrinking portion of the Federal budget. Many civilizations and empires have collapsed under those budgetary circumstances).


a. Letter to Bangkok Post regarding vote-buying:

“In our home village in SaKet… Voters are paid upfront for their vote. Their identity cards are taken and a list made of all individuals, along with how much each is paid. The villagers do not even consider taking money from a politician and voting for someone else. The tally must match. If there are 60 votes that are bought and paid for, then there must be 60 votes cast for the vote buyer.”

b. The tragedy in Japan continues to dominate the Thai news media. The drama at the disabled nuclear power plant forcing even Gaddafi of the front page.

This reminds me of when we were first struggling with the question of Nuclear Energy during the early years of the coastal planning process in California prior to the completion of the California Coastal Plan. Sure there were serious environmental issues raised, some over-blown, like the impact of heated waste water on the marine environment and others, like the disposal of the radioactive waste, real and unresolved to this day. There were also safety concerns again some real and some not so. But interestingly, what concerned several of us who were responsible for the land use regulation and planning for the coast were the economic and political implications of the then planned nuclearization of American electrical energy.

You see each nuclear power plant was a giant financial capital sink, each plant costing more and requiring more sunk capital (Investment money not returned if the plant did not ultimately come on-line for its full economic life) than most other individual construction projects. In addition, were all the planned units to come on-line within the times proposed, they could have absorbed most of not all the capital resources available at the time potentially squeezing out other needed capital projects and increasing the cost of money.

In addition, because the sunk capital costs were so high the only way they could be financed required reducing risks to almost zero. This necessitated ever more governmental assistance in terms of subsidies, guarantees, regulatory exemptions, limits on liability and the like. In effect the taxpayer was paying for or guaranteeing these plants while others were reaping the profits and leaving the environmental costs to future generations of Americans.

So, what else is new? This is the way things work, how things get done right? Most of us looking into it agreed, but some asked the question, why and was there another way.

We were told even back then that this was necessary for the nation to reduce its dependency of foreign oil. Fair enough, but there were alternatives as feasible as these over engineered, frightfully expensive, dangerous and risky projects. For example, although none of us thought is was practical, every home and business in the US could have been fitted with photovoltaic cells for less than the cost of the nuclearization plan with lower demands on the capital market and fewer environmental and social impacts. True the cost of electricity would rise since the photovoltaic cells are less efficient in electricity production than power plants(a problem certainly as subject to future solution as the disposal of radioactive wastes). Nevertheless, even though it can be acknowledged that increasing per unit electricity costs would certainly be a political problem, the fact remained that technically options to nuclearization appeared available.

So what was going on then?

A commitment to nuclearization of the energy grid ment a commitment to a small group of engineering, supply and energy companies and the three or four financial companies large enough to finance such projects. Almost all other potential energy sources do not require such centralizing financing and engineering. The potential profits that could be made by those few large companies from the engineering, construction and above all financing fees, not to mention the potential monopolization of a segment of the energy market made it worthwhile to encourage a consistent public and political relations campaign to benefit themselves.

What they could not tolerate however was risk since the sunk costs were so large. The complexity of the legal and regulatory process in the US supplied such unacceptable risk and coupled with flattening demand and the continuing low price of oil the nuclear electrical generating industry ultimately failed in the United States. In other countries however a powerful cartel of less than a dozen state-owned or state guided firms have spearheaded the growth of the industries in those countries.

Unfortunately, the capital project financial industry in the US could not see smaller decentralized capital projects as worth their efforts (although they continue to search and lobby for large capital-intensive energy projects such as wind farms and huge solar arrays). The less capital-intensive energy options have fallen to the much smaller investment financing market.

An unintended consequence of the failure of the nuclearization of energy production was its impact on a generation of engineers and engineering schools dependent and expectant on continued growth in the demand for super large capital projects like nuclear power plants. The high-tech boom failed to provide an adequate alternative to employ this excess engineering capacity resulting in civil engineering becoming almost a lost art in the US to be replaced by a demand for and explosive growth of business and financial schools. Unfortunately, as Henry Ford observed, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”


This morning as I walked Hayden to school we were faced with something new in my Bangkok experience. It was cold, forcing us to return to the apartment to change into warmer clothing.

I have recently been reading a book by Dan Simmons an author I occasionally like to read. As many of you know ever since I was three or four years old I have read to pass the time waiting for something interesting to happen in life. I have never been particularly much of an adventurer. I preferred waiting for the train to arrive rather than wandering the tracks looking to meet it. When it arrived I would hop on and ride it to wherever until I fell off or more often than not was pushed off. I would then sit by the tracks again and read until the next train came along.

It has never been particularly important what I read (although I have my preferences), fiction, non fiction, cereal boxes, bus schedules they were all the same, doorways into adventure. Reading the content list on a soup can could leave me traveling in my mind to the sources of the natural and not so natural ingredients occupying hours while waiting for something to happen.

Anyway Simmons is generally classified as a writer of speculative fiction although rarely of the “science” or “fantasy” kinds. Recently he wrote a novel called “Drood” that imagined the circumstances surrounding the writing of Dickens’ novel of the same name. The current book “Black Hills” recounts the life of a Sioux holy man from the Battle of Little Big Horn through the sculpting of Mount Rushmore. He previously wrote a novel retelling the Iliad. What marks Simmons’ novels are that they are inevitably long (I like that) and he has never met a fact in his background research that he has not found a place for in his novel (I like that too). His failure is that his stories are always about motivation (Why was Wilkie Collins so jealous of Charles Dickens as to contemplate his murder; Why did Paha Sapa plot the distraction of the Mount Rushmore monument?). Unfortunately, the motivation given rarely appears to me to justify the action contemplated and so ultimately his novels are not completely satisfying.


Red Star, Chapter 14.

Vince turned toward Jerome who prefers to be called Horace mostly because it was difficult not to look at since he had no real form but appeared to be composed of shadows and looked somehow unfinished. “What do you think,” he asked?

“Look at me,” he said. “I have appeared in several things the author has written. He always promises to write a story just about me and flesh me out so to speak but he never does. Now he appears to have completely lost interest, probably because none of his readers cared”.

Nina looks up from her knitting. “Shadow-boy and the doxy have a point,” she says. “It really does not matter whether we are the dregs or not our choice is whether to do something or not and perhaps bringing more action into the story will help. It’s worth a try.”

“But how do we do that,” Vince enquired? “The next real action sequence is not scheduled for about six chapters.”

“Flashbacks, authors often use that to make sure interesting things are always happening.”


a. Book World from Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next or one thereafter:

“… Clark’s Second Law of Egodynamics: ‘For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.'”

b. Moral leadership through the ages (or do as I say not as I do):

John XII (955-964). Born from an incestuous relationship between Pope Sergio III and his 13-year-old daughter Marozie, John, in turn, took his mother as his own mistress. Pope at 18, he turned the Lateran into a brothel. He was accused by a synod of “sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery and incest” and was temporarily deposed. He took his revenge on opponents by hacking off their limbs. Fittingly, he was murdered by an enraged husband who caught him having sex with his wife.


The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?
~John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 20 June 1815

Categories: January 2011 through March 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. January 10 2011



Pope John XII (deposed by Conclave) was said to have turned the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano into a brothel and was accused of adultery, fornication, and incest (Source: Patrologia Latina). The monk chronicler Benedict of Soracte noted in his volume XXXVII that he “liked to have a collection of women”. According to Liutprand of Cremona in his Antapodosis, “They testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father’s concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse.” According to The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, John XII was “a Christian Caligula whose crimes were rendered particularly horrific by the office he held”. He was killed by a jealous husband while in the act of committing adultery with the man’s wife. (See also Saeculum obscurum)

(Not only that but he was infallible…At least that’s what he told all the girls. Ah, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, we hardly knew ya.)


I have just returned to Thailand from my trip to California. In San Francisco, after ten days of overcast skies and rain the sun finally appeared and then promptly disappeared two day’s later. I am now sitting in a Starbucks located in a huge shopping center in Bangkok called Siam Paragon (Assume something twice the size of the entire San Francisco Center and Westfield Mall site in San Francisco). It has all the shops recognizable in any American Mall (The lines at the Crispy Creame shop across the way extends down the aisle and all the way out the door to the mall) and more.

Given my short time back I did not believe I would have anything to report in this section. However I have just finished reading my first issue of The Bangkok Post since returning and learned:

1. A Thai Member of Parliament allied with an organization called, Thai Patriot Network (The Thai version of the Tea Party) has been shown on U-Tube to have crossed the disputed border into Cambodia and along with 6 other people has been arrested by the Cambodian authorities. Despite this being an obvious provocation, the Thai government has threatened war if the Cambodian authorities do not return the miscreants immediately. While as a whole the Thai military shies away from anything that could put their expensive equipment at risk, this disputed area is adjacent to the area controlled by the Thai elite forces that put down the Red Shirt protest. There is nothing like a little jingoism and military action to shore up an increasingly weakened administration.

2. The Government announced an interesting economic program to attempt to stem the continuing deterioration of the economic plight of the lower social and economic classes in Thailand. It consists of extending Social Security to the 24 million workers in the so called “informal” sector. That is the street venders and taxi drivers and the like that provide the safety net for the unemployed. Also, $250 maximum low interest loan program for these same people and free electricity for low use households. While these mostly benefit the ruling parties urban base, the program also includes a restructuring of the “egg” marked to increase revenue to poultry raisers and reduce the price of eggs. In addition a Community Courts system is proposed, free education to the disabled and increase funds for vocational education.

3. In speaking with a friend regarding the rumor mill, he told me that the rumor is that should the current king die, the crown prince is slated to be assassinated and replaced by his sister. Apparently the crown prince is not well liked by the populace because he lacks charisma and has not engaged in the kind of do good activities as his sisters. He is also accused of spending too much time with his political and military cronies. In fact, his real disability seems to be his flirtation with Taksin as well as his support and friendship with that faction of the military hierarchy replaced by the current ascendency. Although having a female monarch is unprecedented in Thailand,the belief is that his sister would reign in an apolitical manner like Queen Elizabeth. The assassination of a monarch has precedent in Thailand. The Current king came to power after his older brother was assassinated. In that case, shortly following the end of WW II the then King was considered sympathetic to the civilian government that replaced the pro-japanese military government. The Democrats were blamed for the assassination by their opponents in the military resulting in the previous anti-monarchial, pro japanese administration being returned to power and beginning a period of military rule in the in the country lasting more that a quarter of a century. It is interesting to note that the previously anti-monarchy military government immediately switched to becoming stridently pro monarchist’s and instituted the “Le Majeste” laws and reverence for the monarchy that marks Thailand today.

4. The Pattaya area of Thailand now receives 100,000 Russian tourists per month. Most of them are from Siberia. They rarely smile.


I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.

Some of my Impressions of America after a one year absence:

Following the adjustment of my system to the shock of the relatively cool and dismal weather, my initial impression was distress at the dark, drab, shapelessness of the clothing that everyone seems to prefer wearing. It was interesting to me that when I commented to others about my perception they readily agreed that the fashion was indeed dark and perhaps drab, but they denied it was shapeless. One person even went so far as to hold up a dark grey T-shirt as evidence that some people (himself in particular) did not wear shapeless clothing. And indeed I could discern that it had the classic shape of a T-shirt.

Although the Bay Area looked mostly the same wherever I go, the latinization of the Mission district in San Francisco continues unabated, extending at least another 5 to 10 blocks in either direction along that thoroughfare and the neighborhoods surrounding it. On the other hand the Sinoization of North Beach appears to have slowed in favor of the Sunset.

The Holidays were as usual a mixed bag and the serious illnesses and suffering several of my friends made almost everything appear listless. Nevertheless, my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my daughter and seeing my son and his family along with my sisters family and my grand children cheered me up.

During my stay, I connected with many friends, Maurice Trad and his daughter Molly, Bill Gates, his daughter and his friend Tiffany, Peter and Barry Grenell, Sheldon Siegel, Terry Goggin and Bob and Charlotte Uram. Unfortunately I was only able to contact others by phone.

In Sacramento, I spent three lovely days with Bill Geyer and Naida West on their ranch and a day with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Surprisingly, I was asked to take Hayden with me during this time so that his mother could go off to the coast (Pismo Beach) with “friends”. He had just returned the prior evening from spending 5 weeks with a family he hardly knew in Seattle while his mother travelled to Thailand to have what appeared to me to be a face lift. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his company and was quite sad when I had to leave him and return to San Francisco.

I will have more about my trip and my impressions in later emails.

Since I have returned, I mostly have spent the time shaking off the effect of jet lag by massages and sleep.


Attached is chapter three in which the plot begins to unfold. The hook is planted and therefore, instead of ending things here, the story goes on. (Alas chapter three has gone missing)

It is one of the chapters that I am toying with changing the point of view in a later revision. Would it help the reader to get Kitchen’s view of Vinnie (or Vince, I have to settle on one I think) rather than Vinnie’s self indulgent view of things? For example beginning the chapter with something like, “David Kitchen watched Vince, shambling slightly, head down as though in a fog cross the street and climb the steps to the cathedral avoiding as much as possible acknowledging anyone with little more that a nod of his head. A slight smile creased his face as he though how much Vinnie always appeared to him to be…”

My friend Naida West, an excellent novelist in her own right who I visited with during my stay in California, has reviewed the first two chapters and has given me a number of excellent suggestions. I look forward to revising those chapters soon.


a. From the Princess Bride:

Grandpa: She doesn’t get eaten by the eels at this time
The Grandson: What?
Grandpa: The eel doesn’t get her. I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.
The Grandson: I wasn’t nervous. Maybe I was a little bit “concerned” but that’s not the same thing.

b. The Wisdom of Baba Giufa:

Seeker: Baba Giufa tell me about racism in the United States of America.

Baba Giufa:There are only three black men in America. The holy trinity is Morgan Freeman, Samuel Jackson and Denzell Washington. All black sports stars and politicians are emanations from Samuel Jackson and all black singers and actors, people in the arts and all others are emanations of Denzel Washington. Morgan Freeman is God, but only in a supporting role and he is pissed.

There are a lot of black women, however. They are all descended from Ethel Waters. Butterfly McQueen did not exist.

Seeker: But,,but Baba doesn’t what you just said seem…er… seem maybe a little racist? Maybe not… oh, I do not know.

Baba Giufa: There are no races, my lad, only racists and we are all racists otherwise why would we invent the concept of race.

c. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Endowment effect — “the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it”.


The world is a ball of dung and we are the worms that live in it and eat each other. The one who eats all the others wins — but he is still the last living worm in a lump of shit.
Tad Williams, Shadowrise.

Categories: January 2011 through March 2011 | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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