Posts Tagged With: President

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    10 Shadow 0006 (June 30, 2017)


Please note on your calendars that July 15 is NATIONAL BE A DORK DAY. 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK:
I arrived in Bangkok, the city of the “Sidewalks of Death.” Should one stroll about the town one might: find the sidewalk beneath of him suddenly open up, plunging him into the fetid miasmatic water below and carrying him off to the equally pestilential waters of some ancient canal, there to drown —  trip on a crack in the pavement sending him tumbling into the street where he is maimed or killed by hoards of crazed bikers trying to beat the traffic light — be attacked by rabid soi dogs and sewer rats who gnaw off his ankles — be abducted by an evil tuk-tuk driver and disappear forever — be set upon by a group of manic ladyboys pouring out of an alley who either ravish his body or beat him senseless and steal his money. I love this city.
The flight from Rome to Bangkok was uneventful except during the leg from Kuwait to Bangkok where the young man sitting next to me, who appeared to be a religious of some sort, insisted that I listen to a recording of incessant chanting by some Iman or something. That was OK because there is nothing I prefer to sleep through than chanting.
Bangkok is hot (but not as hot as is parts of California right now). It rains every afternoon and evening— often big grumbling thunder showers. So, I go about whatever I go about these days in the mornings and lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling or tap away at my computer in the afternoon and evenings.
Thailand is billed by the Thai Visitors Bureau as the “Land of Smiles.” Thais have at least 15 types of smile, none of which means I’m pleased to see you — except for of shopkeepers, grifters and bar girls who unfortunately see you only as an ATM machine.
In the morning, as I walk from my apartment to the health club, I check to see which of the denizens of the street I have come to recognize over the years are missing since the last time I visited. The massive homeless young man often seen sprawled in a stupor on the sidewalks of Soi Nana or wandering in a daze down the street seems to be gone. The one legged “king of the beggars” as I named him because of his handsome features, meticulous trimmed hair and beard who I now and then see entering for lunch some of the better restaurants on Soi 11, has resumed his post on the sunny corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 5.
My part of Bangkok continues to change and disappear. The old buildings with the cheap restaurants, go-go bars, and nightclubs get torn down, replaced with gleaming silver towers boasting that they contain the greatest award winning condominiums, or offices, or the finest of the three or four other luxury hotels with the same name in the city. The people who lived worked or played there move out and new people move in — the ongoing migration of a vibrant urban area. The extent of pain and dislocation caused by it is usually a function of how rapidly it occurs.
One of Thailand’s major preoccupations is with massage. It is ingrained in the religious and cultural subconscious of the country. The Thais even developed their own brand of massage that is taught in the most prestigious temples throughout the nation. It consists of vigorous application of the hands, elbows, forearms, and feet by the masseuse to various points on the customer’s body accompanied by periodic sudden stretching or wrenching of his joints. Although a Thai massage can make you feel great after it is over, many people find the process too painful. As a result foreigners often, after a brief flirtation with “the real thing,” eventually turn to more traditional massage with its vigorous rubbing of the body with oil, with or without a happy ending. Many “legitimate” massage establishments do not provide happy endings (it is, in fact, illegal).
Speaking of legitimate massage in Bangkok, I would like to make a pitch to those who may visit the city to try Silk Spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13. It is rated by several travel magazines as one of the best massage parlors in Bangkok. My old friends, Gary and Pui, own the place. Gary is Canadian. He plays ice hockey in the Thai ice hockey league. The Spa is located on Soi 13 about 50 yards off Sukhumvit. Inside, it is a little gem of a place. Gary spends many days designing and building the interior. The evidence of his craftsmanship is everywhere, from the handsome gray slate floor and attractively painted walls of the massage rooms to the marvelous two person sauna with its shining blond wood. I go there three or four times a week after I finish my mornings at the health club.
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Although I like Bangkok a lot, there is one thing I despise. That is when I am riding the bus or the Skytrain and hanging onto the strap because it is crowded and I see someone, who I am convinced is older and more decrepit than I, get up out of his or her seat and offer it to me. I usually reject the offer somewhat coldly, unless of course, I am very tired. Then, I take the seat and sit there mortified (a word not often used anymore) on the one hand and relieved on the other. It is these internal conflicts that…Hmm, I think I’ve gone on about this long enough.
I spent a couple of delightful hours with my friend the Old Sailor. He is a kind man who has lived a fascinating life as a sailor, commercial deep sea diver, treasure hunter, and the like. He lived most of his life in places by the sea in south Florida (Key West), the Virgin Islands, Easter Island and French Polynesia (Bora Bora). He now resides in a second rate hotel in Bangkok. The walls of his room are covered with photographs organized by year. When I asked him about that, he said that he was beginning to have trouble remembering things. He had, he went on, an interesting life and he did not want to forget any of it before the inevitable dimming of the light.
One day, at a nearby Italian restaurant, in the course of our rambling conversation, he began a sentence with the words, “I sailed the Windward Passage three times.”  It seemed to be an interesting story was in the offing and I was right.
One time, he either worked for or partnered with the Captain of a boat docked somewhere in South Florida. The Captain was having a dispute with someone over money or ownership or something like that. So, in the middle of the night, he and the Captain took the boat, leaving with no money between them and almost no gas to power the engines. So, they broke into a nearby refueling dock during the dark of night, refueled, and set off for wherever. Needing money, they stopped in the Virgin Islands and found a gig towing a large sailboat through the Windward Passage south of Cuba to Jamaica.
Somewhere near Cuba, a storm came upon them. At that most inopportune moment, their engine decided to quit and the boat slowed down. Unfortunately, the large sailboat did not and it smashed into their stern grabbing onto it like a shark grabbing onto a seal. Even more, unfortunately, the bowsprit of sailboat broke off and began thrashing back and forth across the deck making it impossible for the two adventures to get to it and untangle the lines and separate the boats. So, they spent the night hoping they would live to see the sunrise. The tale stopped there. Obviously, at least the Old Sailor survived. I do not know what became of the boats or the Captain or whether whatever he was fleeing from eventually caught up to him. I see in this a potential Hemingwayesque novella, “Captains Not So Very Courageous.”
A few years ago, some travel magazine commissioned a poll in which people from many countries of the world were asked if they thought it was ok to cheat foreigners out of their money. The citizens of no country responded with acceptance of such callous amoral behavior anywhere near 50% except for the Thais, over 80% of whom could see no problem in that conduct.
On Wednesday, I had lunch with the Gemologist. He is also a well-known ethnologist (The Vanishing Tribes of Burma), artist (sculpture and painting), adventurer, writer, businessman, raconteur, and man about town. I have written about him before. He has recently returned from several trips into the hill country of Burma where he photographed one of the hill tribes in their traditional dress and re-established his trading connections with the Gurkha miners and gem merchants working there. He has resumed trading high-value rubies and sapphires and showed me photographs of several beautiful examples (in the one million dollars and up each range).
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A Million Dollar Flawless Sapphire Recently Sold
It is always a pleasure spending an afternoon with him. We spoke of many things, mostly our disappointment with the political situation in America and the rigors of getting old.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
In California.
. Naida’s heart surgery has been successful and she is back home recovering. Unfortunately, Bill continues to suffer increasingly debilitating effects from his diabetes.
. Peter’s hip replacement surgery has been put off for a month. Although he continues to experience ever increasing pain, he still performs several times a week with other geriatric musicians at his various euphonic gigs.
In Spain.
The intrepid pilgrims, Vittorio and Teacher Brian have reached Burgos the historic capital of the Kingdom of Castile on their 30-day trek to Santiago de Compostela.
In Bangkok
. In Bangkok this week, five people died after falling into a sewer pipe.
. The Thai Prime Minister recently banned the police from continuing the practice of parading suspects before the press and re-enacting their crimes for the benefit of the cameras.
. The Thai Prime Minister, previously a general who headed the nation’s military, denied that the main purpose of the upcoming meeting in Washington with Donald Trump was to negotiate the sale of military hardware for the Thai armed forces. He seemed to indicate that since they are already getting military hardware from China and other countries, procurement of armaments from the US is not even on the agenda.
The day after the above statement was issued the Thai English language newspapers reported that the US has agreed to sell five Blackhawk helicopter gunships to the Thai military.
. TheThai Labour Ministry plans to improve the professional standards of massage therapists and promises those interested in becoming certified therapists a guaranteed standard wage ranging from 440 baht (about $14) to 815 ($27) baht per day.
“It’s important to standardize the practice of Thai massage, which is not only good for relieving muscle pain but also promotes good health,” said Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul who described it as the art of health care and healing with a simple touch of the hands.(The Bangkok Post)
I assume, “Happy endings” remain negotiable.
. Also from the Bangkok Post:
PATTAYA: A 33-year-old man (A western tourist most likely) has learned a painful and embarrassing lesson after an experiment with penis rings went terribly wrong.
Identified only as Moss, the man had to seek help after the two rings he had attached caused the organ to swell painfully and he was unable to remove them himself.
He went to Pattaya City Hospital to see if the staff there could handle the consequences of his bold decision. Doctors tried in vain to remove the rings and finally had to call rescue workers from the Sawang Boriboon Foundation to handle the delicate procedure.
The rescue experts used a small metal sheet to shield the organ and very carefully applied a cutting tool to break the rings open.
The relieved patient thanked his rescuers for their help and went away in considerably less pain than when he arrived. He did not tell them why he had put the rings on.
So goes a day in Bangkok, “The Place of Olive Plums.”

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

It is true, as Donald Trump claims, that he has accomplished more in the first 150 days of his presidency than any other president during their entire term. At least in foreign policy that is so. And, no, it is not because he manages to become the laughing stock of the entire world. While that is certainly an accomplishment of some sorts and no other president can touch his level of success in that endeavor, I am thinking of something else.
In a few short months, he has managed to destroy the world order that has been in place since the beginning of WWII. It was a world order led by the US and supported by a community of nations more or less democratic and more or less prosperous, to resist those nations both large and small they saw as less democratic or wedded to an economic dogma inconsistent with their own.
It was a world order more or less agreed upon by the two major political parties in the United States. The Democrats tended to exercise American leadership more through International economic development and assistance to both friend and foe who were not bound to our perceived adversaries. The Republicans preferred strong military development and reduced economic aid. They were generally less concerned with commitments to democracy and economic improvement than in a commitment to oppose those adversaries and a willingness to engage in the vigorous development of joint defense arrangements.
In practice, it was often difficult to see the policy differences between the two parties. In fact, there often were not any differences that those we were allied with and supported could perceive in the actual programs that carried out those policies. It is also true that for the most part, those programs were far more beneficial to our own interests than to those of our allies.
It was a world order despised by both extremes of American political thought, the extreme right, and the extreme left. The extreme left often saw this as merely a cover for the exportation of regressive American economic and social policy, the support of fascist dictatorships and opposition to legitimate desire of the people of a country to change a political system they saw as repressive. The far right saw this policy as a creeping commitment to Internationalism and reduction of our national independence. They both were right in some ways.
Nevertheless, despite the cynicism and self-interest (as there is in any significant socio-political initiative), there was the glimmer of an ideal upon which the people of the world and their governments could rely. That ideal was that a great power, rather than subjugating the lesser states, would commit their wealth and power, at least in part (and often grudgingly), in alliance with like minded nations to make things better and assume the burdens of leadership in their mutual defense from those they saw as a threat to their way of life. That underlying confidence had remarkable historical consequences. Political systems changed, most for the better, international cooperation blossomed, economies flourished, and the arts and sciences advanced. This order produced a golden age like none other in history with more people than ever enjoying its benefits.
In a scant 150 days, Donald Trump has managed to utterly destroy that world order and it shall not rise again in the foreseeable future. Why did he do it? I doubt even he knows for sure. Why will it not arise again after he is gone? Because no government and no people can ever again rely upon America to exercise trustworthy leadership. It is the old confidence issue. How can any level of confidence be regained by a government or its people when that trust has so rapidly been shattered in the past?
I do not know whether it may or may not be a good thing that, as a result of this, the smaller nations of the world combine into blocks to try to effectively deal with the two remaining active super-powers and far off the United States should it ever again attempt to engage its historical allies in any manner other than as an adversary.
I do know, however, that although Donald Trump has failed to “make the US great again” in his first 150 days, in international relations he certainly has made us mostly irrelevant.

DAILY FACTOID:

The English form of  Bangkok’s actual name ( In Thai: Krung thep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahinthara ayuthaya mahadilok phop noppharat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amon piman awatan sathit sakkathattiya witsanukam prasit.  Alternative forms include Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīrāmasya utamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi, Krungthep mahanakhon amonrattanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilokphop noppharatratchathani burirom-udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonphiman awatansathit sakkathattiya witsanu kamprasit,  Krungthep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathattiya visnukamprasit) is “The City of Angels, the Great City, the Eternal Jewel City, the Impregnable City of God Indra, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City, Abounding in an Enormous Royal Palace that Resembles the Heavenly Abode where Reigns the Reincarnated God, a City Given by Indra and Built by Vishnukam.”
The word Bangkok means, “The Place of Olive Plums.”
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TODAY’S CHART:

 

Correlation or Coincidence?
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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A Thai Fishing Boat Gets Ready for a Day at Sea.
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    Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Shadow 0006 (June 22, 2017)

     

     

    “Almost everyone would be rich if great wealth came to people from hard work.”
    (Someone, I do not know who)

     

     

     

     

    TODAY FROM ITALY:

     

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SACILE, TAMAI, AND VENICE:

     

    Sacile and Tamai

    On Saturday, Vittorio and Teacher Brian intend to go off on a 30 hiking pilgrimage from France, through the Pyrenees Mountains, and across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela a journey of about 500 miles. Their friend Marco decided to hold a bon-voyage party for them at his house.

    Both Vittorio and Brian are accomplished hikers. Vittorio hikes 20 kilometers several mornings a week. Brian, an American originally from South Dakota, who now teaches physics and other sciences to high school students at the nearby American military base (hence the nickname Teacher), has an interesting back story about his commitment to hiking. When he was a young man serving in the military he was diagnosed with a large growth in his lower spine. After its surgical removal, it was feared he could never walk again. But he did and now hikes regularly through the Veneto plain and the pre-alps.

    Anyway, we gathered at Marco’s for the party. I was pleased to see Professor Hank and his wife there. He is a professor (hence the nickname) of economics at a college in New Jersey and used to teach the same at the military base. Like Teacher Brian, he and his wife have a home in Sacile and spend summers there.

    The dinner, in good Italian style, lasted from 7:30 when we arrived and until 1 AM when we left. It began with Prosecco, moved through Thai main courses (Vitorio’s wife and several other people there are Thai) and finished off with Italian pastry, sweets, liqueurs and cherries marinated in grappa. It was a truly multi-cultural meal.
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    Professor Hank, a thoughtful gentle man whose company I find extremely enjoyable. As usual, when he and I get together, we talked about many things including the possibility next summer of he and I traveling together to visit his friend who lives in Marshall Tito’s old villa on the Ischia coast of Croatia. Thereafter we would take the ferry to Bari and tour Calabria, his wife’s birthplace. After that, I could go on by train to Sicily and visit Antonio and my family before setting off to Thailand. This excited me because I had hoped to take a similar trip this year but had to cancel it because I had not yet fully recovered from my treatment.

     

    Venice

    On Monday I set off to Venice. I wanted to see how the Biennale exhibits had changed since I visited there almost two years ago.

    Although I visit it often, Venice is not my favorite city. Perhaps, it is because of having read Thomas Mann or seen the movie made from his book. Perhaps, I am terrorized by people who creep about at night in masks and garish costumes. Perhaps, it is the signage for the route back to the train station that always seems to lead me through a section of the city I had never visited before, usually, one that I never even knew existed, and lose me there (this visit was no different). But mostly I think, it is because I have never eaten a good meal in that city. Despite whatever it is that puts me off, I still find myself returning again and again and happy I did so.
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    Back in Sacile and Tamai

    The rest of the week included trips to the markets, mornings and evenings in the cafe’s talking with Hank, Lucia and others. I marvel at how these few people, Vittorio and Anita, Lucia, Professor Hank and Teacher Brian have become such close and important friends of mine despite having first met them only a few years ago and having visited with them only briefly since. I consider them as close and as dear friends as any I have made in my life.

    On my last full day there like my first, I accompanied Vittorio to a nearby town where he marched with his band in a religious procession. Although growing up in Tuckahoe where religious processions were common, I have rarely seen them since then. Along with the procession, the town held a soccer tournament and hosted a dinner beneath a grand tent where I watched some men play “scopa” (a popular Italian card game) well into the evening.

     

    B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

    On Friday, Vittorio drove me to the train station for my five hour trip to Rome. The train ride was uneventful other than when somewhere in the middle, I noticed my suitcase was not where I had left it. After some frantic searching, I found it at the opposite end of the car. The car itself was full of American college students on their way from Venice to Rome so I guessed it had been moved to make room for their mountains of luggage and backpacks. I otherwise dozed, read, or watched the hill town pass by my window. Sometimes, I tried to guess their names and recall if I had ever visited them.

    Having lived in Rome for three years back in the late sixties and early seventies, I consider it my home. There are four cities I think of as home; Rome (and Sabina), New York City (and Tuckahoe), San Francisco, and Bangkok. I have lived for a considerable length of time in all of these cities. Whenever I return to any of them, I find myself just as happy sitting quietly or strolling around as I would in some more energetic or social activity; so it was with this trip. I am still too weak and ill for anything more than the briefest of walks. Nevertheless, on Saturday morning I ambled to my beloved Borghese Gardens and sat on a bench near the magnificent Borghese Museum that as usual had sold out its tickets for admission about a week in advance.

    I sat where I usually do, on a bench near the accordionist. I have been coming here for about 10 years now and sitting on that bench listening to him play. He bills himself as “The Ukrainian Organist,” but I suspect he is just an ordinary Slavic accordion player. He plays light classical music which I always felt had been written specifically for sunny days in a park with breezes rustling the leaves of the trees, filtering the sunlight and dappling the ground in shadow or destined to be stolen by some modern musical comedy composer caught in a momentary lack of inspiration. Today alas, he, the musician, seemed distracted. He’d play only a few bars of a piece before jumping on to another. Even his piece de resistance the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach(what the phantom of the opera plays in his grotto under the Opera House whenever he has agita) seemed forlorn and discordant — at least, more so than it usually sounds.

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    The “Ukrainian Organist” at the Borghese Gardens

    On Sunday my delightful cousin, Federica picked me up at my accommodation in the Castro Pretoria section of Rome. She first drove us to the “Quartiere Coppede a fantastical mix of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Mannerist, Medieval, and, overall, Art Nouveau mixture created by the mostly forgotten architect Coppedè in 1919.
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    Fede and Pookie Footloose in Rome.

    After that, we drove out to Sabina where we had a great lunch with her parents and another cousin Andrea.

    Lunch was the typical 3 or more hour affair. It began with kisses and hugs all around followed by the antipasto. I do not recall all the ingredients included in the antipasto but I remember fried zucchini and potatoes, tomato and peppers (or perhaps just red peppers) and olive oil on a lightly baked breaded cracker of some sort, I think. Small mozzarella balls, mixed vegetables, and cantaloupe with Parma ham. The pasta course contained cold Ziti (?) mixed with vegetables. Then we had turkey involtini and a salad. A fruit compote followed by ice cream cake (chocolate) made up the dessert —followed, of course, by coffee. This was all accompanied by interesting conversation and a very good chilled white wine that I, unfortunately, was unable to drink more than a sip.

    We also spent some time looking at old family photographs and watching the finals of LeMans on television. (Andrea is service manager for Ferrari and had a professional interest)
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    The Cousins and me

    After the lunch, Fede drove me back to Rome and the next day I set off for Thailand.

     

     

     

    PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

    Recently my daughter, who is a scientist herself, expressed her concern about the anti-science mania rampant in our body politic. For example, there is distrust of the findings of almost every scientist who has produced a peer reviewed article regarding climate change. Not only is this response unscientific it is irrational as well. What is the down side to moving to renewables and lowering our carbon footprint? Even if all these scientists were ultimately proved wrong we still would have a better world.

    The issue is financial and political, the understandable reluctance of those few individuals and institutions who believe they own the wealth of hydrocarbons yet untapped to surrender their prospective fortunes. But who owns the billions of years of accumulated sunlight trapped in the ground— certainly not those few. At best, they have a revocable contract to invest their funds in extracting those resources in exchange for a reasonable return on their investment. It is not a scientific issue.

    There is a similar negative and unscientific reaction also to things like GM crops. GM is merely a more efficient and safer method of improving crops than the radiation method we have been using for the last 100 years. Yes, there is probably not a single bite of food that you eat today that has not been genetically modified. Almost anything conceivable produced by GM can be produced by other means, but probably not as efficiently at this time.

    The problem is not a question science or safety, but of adequate regulation and those who would subvert that regulation. Nevertheless, there remains those who are fearful of putting their safety in the hands of others and try instead to stop or deny the science. Although, I for one having been intimately involved in difficult regulation from all vantage points, am sympathetic with their concern, nevertheless, I believe the worst of all options is to try to halt the growth of knowledge through Luddite over-reaction.

     

     

     

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    “Remember,” he said to the two beloved faces crowding the carriage window. “No drinking out of wet glasses. No betting on slow horses. No—” The jokes died in his throat. “Oh, Jesus God Christ, what am I going to do without the two of you?” He turned away, bleak with loss.
    Delaney, Frank (2009-10-13). Ireland: A Novel (p. 226). HarperCollins.

     

     

     

    TODAY’S CHART:
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    The interesting thing to note about this chart is that almost all the non-stressful careers are in engineering and are relatively highly paid, while most of the highly stressful jobs are dangerous or low paying or both. So, one would think, if you are young and looking for a career you should head off to engineering school.

     

    Alas, here in America over the last score or so of years, we have been closing our engineering schools or being forced to fill them with students from other countries. Yes, the continued health of our modern technological society depends on the despised immigrants. Apparently modern white American males shun the hard work required to earn an engineering degree. And yes again, engineering in America has been often seen as a male only profession. Perhaps, it is the time that American woman should be encouraged to flood the remaining engineering schools and begin taking over this sector of our economy. Obviously, the men find it too difficult. Maybe, that well-represented tee-shirt slogan should be amended to read: “A woman’s place is in the House, Senate and in engineering school.”

     

     

     

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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    The Mormons believe Native-Americans are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Anthropologists argue over whether they are descended from East-Asian immigrants to the continent, or Central-Asian or even European. Some Native-American religions believe they are descended from those who migrated through a hollow log or a long deep cave. I believe, however, that by studying the noble noses of some these dignified and proud people one can only conclude that they are Italian.

     

     

     

    Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Pepe 0004 (November 1, 2015)

     

    “Stories tell you all you need to know.”
    Belateche, Irving, The Origin of Dracula (p. 156). Laurel Canyon Press.

     

     

    TODAY FROM AMERICA:

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

    El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life.

    Today, the caesious skies above the Golden Hills filled up with rolling clouds promising cooling temperatures and a bit of rain. Too cold for swimming, I contented myself with a little Poe, some apples and a glass of cranberry juice. Later, after a nap, I pondered if I could do more to entertain myself. Unable to think of anything, I left Hans Pfaall in his balloon somewhere over the North Pole and waded into the problems of Morgaine the qujalan and Vanye her ilin, pursued by Thiye of Hjemur the Immortal Lord of Rahjemur, as they fled across Andur-Kursh in a desperate effort to close the Gates at Ivrel.

    Later, HRM and I giggled and shouted our way to the orthodontist. Returning home feeling I had a satisfactory day so far, I took a second nap after which we enjoyed a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs accompanied by a bottle of Lone Buffalo Zinfandel given to us by Stevie and Norbert. I then puttered about on T&T, posted a few articles in my blogs and went to bed believing that I had accomplished more this day than I started out to do.

    Unfortunately, my dreams raised a symbolic re-creation of something that I failed at in my past. I was only able to rescue part of it in my dream. After a brief period of dissatisfaction, I persuaded myself that I had done better in my dream than I had done in real life, so I woke up the next day in a good mood.

    My life feels like I am swimming through a vat of maple syrup. It tastes good and the smell is delightful, but the going is slow and the blueberry pancakes are missing.

    B. MORE NOMINATION FOLLIES:

    1. The Blond Dreadnaught proceeds in stately procession swamping her rivals, leaving them a glimpse pant-suited confidence marching off toward the Nomination. The nation’s press, gnashing their teeth at the loss of their story lines, beg the Republicans to conjure up another scandal out of thin air.

    The Blond Dreadnaught’s campaign for the nomination, freed from the need to distinguish herself from her rivals, will now drop any pretense of policy and concentrate exclusively on promoting her love of everyone, especially women and children, but not the NRA and Republicans (unless of course they are women or children).

    The Green Mountain Socialist continues to fly around the country performing his wickedly accurate impression of Larry David. In an effort to burnish his green credentials, he proposed the legalization of Marijuana.

    Martin the Man it seems got his start in politics playing Irish Music in Boston bars. He claims a good dose of Irish music and a few pints of Guinness can solve any national problem. I tend to agree with him.

    2. On the Republican side, the Brain Surgeon has leapt into the lead in some polls. A few pundits have opined his popularity rests of on such national unifying themes as preventing college professors and students from disagreeing with him or equating those he does not like with Hitler. Other commentators suggest that the reason for his surprising rise in popularity is that at his public appearances he appears either drugged or dead, which they claim is a quality a segment of the American public wants to see in their President. The liberal and conservative press are beside themselves in anguish. They dread the expected collapse of their ratings in a presidential campaign between a scandal-less Clinton and a Zombie.

    3. The Donald, having seen The Brain Surgeon rise in the polls and displace him as leader of the pack, claimed it is obvious that unless the polls show him leading they are not scientific. At his campaign rallies, The Donald’s supporters have adopted the old American custom of beating up those who disagree with them. The Donald promised his supporters that he would introduce that tradition into the White House as soon as he is elected.

    4. While tending bar before the second Republican debate, The South Carolina Nonpareil briefly peeked out of his closet to announce that he would consider marrying Grim Carly for her money. (As I have said, sometimes you cannot make this stuff up.) Meanwhile, Kasich of the Longface wondered what had become of his party — something many of us have been wondering also.

    5. The Republicans candidates for their Party’s nomination completed the third of their scheduled 10 debates. They primarily attacked the moderators as being part of the liberal media for asking questions they did not want to answer. The Donald tweeted during the debate that he was embarrassed being there. So were most of those watching, I suspect. Everyone criticizes CSMB for not keeping control over the debate. In fairness to the moderators, it should be pointed out that they are news readers and not kindergarten teachers. Anyway, most commentators believe Water Boy won the debate by responding to The Lesser of the Lesser Bushes’ claim he has missed the most votes among all Senators because he keeps “French Hours,” that he is not lazy because other Senators miss votes too. (I cannot wait for the SNL version.) Others thought Cruz the Munster won because he was best at refusing to answer the questions. Nevertheless, the consensus among the common folk was that The Donald won because he was… well, The Donald.

     

     

    PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

    While there may be several claimants for responsibility for the current crisis in the Middle East, I believe the following article describes the most likely culprit. Although Climate Change may have exacerbated the situation, as the article demonstrates, not all contributing factors are direct causes. It is simply the Tragedy of the Commons played out on a larger scale.

    How Russia and Western Style Capitalism Set the Stage for the Horror that is Syria Today — and no it is not about oil.

    “Over-exploitation of an ecosystem

    The Syrian steppe covers 55% of the country’s territory. This vast steppe land, together with portions from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has been grazed sustainably by nomadic indigenous pastoralists (Bedouins) for centuries (if not more). Each tribe and clan was linked to certain seasonal pastures and this ensured the sustainability of the grazing — a practice finely calibrated on the need of plant regeneration.

    These pastoralists of Arabia are known to have been pioneers in establishing ‘protected areas’ (hema): certain pastures were relieved from grazing, permanently or temporary, in order to allow keeping the whole ecosystem healthy and functional.

    The beginning of the ecological degradation and destruction came with the modern state, so keen to uncritically import ideas of maximization of agricultural yields from the Soviet Union: in particular the central government decided to nationalize the steppe in 1958, establishing de facto an open access system — a well known recipe for ecological disaster.

    Through this arrangement the customary link between the natural resource and its user was interrupted — abruptly disowning the traditional ecological knowledge of this ancient people. The pastures, not managed and protected anymore by the tribes, started to be over-grazed by free-ranging pastoralists.

    A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

    A similar sort of story of gross mismanagement took place in the eastern part of the Syria’s steppe land, the territory east to the Euphrates, allocated to intensive agriculture via irrigation through underground water.

    Water has been pumped from limited underground reserves without much control for decades — so that wells had to be dug every year deeper and deeper with increasing consumption of fuel.

    Year by year, desertification sets in.

    The alternation of wet and dry periods (sometimes lasting up to 5-7 years) is a key structural and natural feature of this kind of environment. The relentless ecological degradation of this semi-arid fragile ecosystem produced a gradual and steady decrease of its resilience in the face of cycles of droughts made increasingly more severe and frequent by a long-term regional drying pattern linked to the greenhouse effects.

    Note that increasing the resilience of ecosystems is actually one of the key natural solutions as adaptation to climate change, as it is currently referred to within the circles of climate change international aid work.

    While in the past the steppe was able to recover even following intense periods of droughts, during the past decade pastoralists and farmers have started to complain about a sharp and ineluctable reduction in soil fertility and an increase of frequency of fierce dust storms due to erosion.

    An evident desertification process has been on display across the steppe land for quite some time. Recommendations to reduce the ecological pressure on this fragile environment — from myself and others — went unheard.

    Ecological crisis fans the flames of rebellion

    Following a recent cycle of intense drought during 2006-2010, the agriculture system eventually collapsed in eastern Syria greatly facilitated by an abrupt halt of government subsidies and consequent soaring prices of fuel for wells.

    At the same time, the ecological impoverishment of the rangelands reached unheard-of levels. “The drought only brought to light a man-made disaster,” said a local journalist from eastern Syria to the International Crisis Group in 2009.

    This combined ecological crisis of croplands and rangelands created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the rural areas of the country, followed by massive internal displacements, that the government clearly failed to tackle and manage.

    For the first time ever Syria, known to be proudly autonomous in terms of food production (and actually even exporting food), had to rely on a massive international emergency food aid in 2008.

    It is therefore not a coincidence that the uprising in 2011 started in provincial towns rather than in the major urban centres of Damascus and Aleppo, Francesca De Chatel argues, aptly defining the rebellion as a “rural Intifada” — one in which Bedouin tribes of steppe origin played a key role.

    The same sort of conclusions were reached in analyzing the triggers of the Darfur war that that took place from 2003 to 2010 not far from Syria. Darfur suffered from precisely the same sort of over-exploited semi-arid ecosystem, while one again rural and indigenous people were the victims, including nomadic pastoralists.
    Gianlucca Serra, UN — FAO.

     

     

     

    MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

    “One Punch” Sammy Santoro was one of the terrors of my youth as well as one of its dark heroes. (He beat the shit out of Richie Santaliquito twice and he and his gang was about to do the same to me and a friend for knowing Richie until “Chickie” Muscalino interceded on our behalf.) I have written about him in T&T before. The last I had heard of him, he had an operation going using a “little person” to break into homes. I always wondered what had happened to him. For some reason, I thought he had died in the electric chair. Recently by chance, I found the following in a 1972 appellate brief in New York.

    “The indictment charged that Santoro and Tortora, along with Joseph Chiaverini, Gene Genaro and Nicholas Rattenni, lent money to Joseph Formiglia although they had reasonable grounds to believe that the money would be used by Formiglia to make extortionate loans. It further charged that they had used extortionate means to collect the money loaned to Formiglia.”

    “The scheme began in November 1969 when Formiglia, a jeweler, borrowed $400 from Santoro, promising to pay $40 a week interest until the $400 principal was repaid. Shortly after this first loan was made Formiglia wanted additional money, but did not want to borrow it under his own name. Thus he conceived the idea of borrowing from Santoro on the pretext that he himself was relending the money at usurious rates. Beginning in early December 1969, Santoro made additional loans to Formiglia, amounting to approximately $11,000 by the middle of February 1970. Tortora frequently was present when these loans were made. Rattenni was present at two of the transactions.”

    “By late February 1970, Santoro suspected that Formiglia was not actually relending the money. Chiaverini was delegated to go with Formiglia on his next collection date to visit his “customers.” When Formiglia protested that his customers might not like this arrangement, Santoro said, ‘We’ll go around and collect the f____’ money or we’ll break their heads if they don’t pay us.’”

    “Formiglia feigned sickness on the collection date, but this merely confirmed Santoro’s suspicions that Formiglia’s customers were nonexistent and that the “loans” were only a pretense to cover Formiglia’s own borrowing. Santoro met with Formiglia and threatened to split Formiglia’s tongue or put a ‘bullet through [his] head’ unless the money was repaid.”

    “A few days later Tortora went to the jewelry store where Formiglia worked and told him, ‘My man, you are in a lot of trouble . . . what are you going to do about these f______ loans.’ No arrangements for repayment were made, however. Later that day Santoro telephoned Formiglia, who said that he was going out of town, whereupon Santoro replied, ‘Have a good time because it’s your last trip.’ The next week Tortora went to Formiglia’s store and told him to show up at a meeting at Genaro’s fish market regarding repayment of the loans or Tortora would ‘drag [him] up by [his] head.’”

    “Frightened by these threats, Formiglia called the Yonkers Sheriff’s office and was instructed to telephone Tortora and delay the meeting one day. The Sheriff’s office then recorded the conversation.”

    “Wearing a hidden tape recorder supplied by the Sheriff’s office, Formiglia met with Tortora the following day at the fish market. Tortora accused Formiglia of juggling the loans and suggested that to repay the loans Formiglia might have to rob a store. Tortora then telephoned Santoro and put Formiglia on the line. Santoro said that if Formiglia did not pay he would break Formiglia’s wife’s head and burn down his house. Tortora then told Formiglia that he better work out a deal to repay the money.”

    “The next day Formiglia arranged to go to Santoro’s house, ostensibly to repay the loans. He brought with him money supplied by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. After Formiglia had been in the house a short while, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office entered and arrested Santoro with his hands on the money. Tortora was later arrested by the FBI.”

    Sammy skipped out on the trial and disappeared. I could find no further record of him.

    Note: Nicholas Rattenni or as he was also known, “Cockeyed Nick” was the head of the mob in Westchester County and a Capo in the Genovese family. He owned a garbage company and controlled refuse collection in the County as well as the construction trades. I used to caddy for him and some of his button men at a local golf club. (They tipped well, so carrying their golf bags became a highly competitive and political competition among the caddies.) A few of the button men were friends of my family. Most of the button men I knew had fled to Florida and other places before the events described in the opinion took place.

     

     

    DAILY FACTOID:

    May 20th 2009. In Manhattan, Brian McLaughlin president of the city’s Central Labor Council was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing $95,000 from a Little League fund for the Electchester Athletic Association in Flushing, Queens – cash raised through donor letters that promised, “A Child in Sports Stays Out of the Courts.”

     

     

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

    A. Quigley on Top:

    Professor Carroll Quigley on how the Western Great Powers subdued the rest of the world from the 16th through the 20th Centuries:

    “In many cases this military superiority was so great that it did not have to be applied in battle. The native rulers yielded and allowed their own communities to be destroyed by the non-military weapons of Europe, such as its disease, commercial practices, and legal rules. From this arose the curious result that the English-speaking peoples were able to persuade themselves that they had not needed their military power at all. They spoke of “peaceful economic penetration of colonial areas” even when natives were dying by millions, as in China, from the innovations they had brought in. By “peaceful” they came to mean, not that weapons had not been used because European military power was so overwhelming, but that weapons had had nothing to do with it. The perfect example of this is the opening of Japan to Western commerce by Perry over a century ago. Only to Americans did this appear as peaceful economic action; the Japanese knew then, as we know now,
    that it was a conflict of power even if that did not become overt.”
    Weapons Systems and Political Stability (1976).

     

     

    B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

    “The so-called neoliberal economics born at the at the University of Chicago is little more than an operating manual for sociopaths.”

     

     

     

    C. Today’s Poem:

    Street Cries

    When dawn’s first cymbals beat upon the sky,
    Rousing the world to labour’s various cry,
    To tend the flock, to bind the mellowing grain,
    From ardent toil to forge a little gain,
    And fasting men go forth on hurrying feet,
    BUY BREAD, BUY BREAD, rings down the eager street.

    When the earth falters and the waters swoon
    With the implacable radiance of noon,
    And in dim shelters koils hush their notes,
    And the faint, thirsting blood in languid throats
    Craves liquid succour from the cruel heat,
    BUY FRUIT, BUY FRUIT, steals down the panting street.

    When twilight twinkling o’er the gay bazaars,
    Unfurls a sudden canopy of stars,
    When lutes are strung and fragrant torches lit
    On white roof-terraces where lovers sit
    Drinking together of life’s poignant sweet,
    BUY FLOWERS, BUY FLOWERS, floats down the singing street.

    – Sarojini Naidu

     

     

     

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    ”Consciousness is an accidental by-product, a feedback loop to conserve resources.”
    Mather, Matthew. Darknet (p. 249).

     

     

    TODAY’S CHART:
    10439452_760606390670968_8876326529500381094_n

     

     

     

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
    12065963_1044968782200932_7050844327068940490_n

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

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Papa Joe 0003 (October 4, 2014)

    “Today the absence of government simply means government by corporations.”
    Trenz Pruca

    Happy Birthdays to Athena, Aaron and Anthony

    TODAY FROM THAILAND:

    A. TWO MOTT STREET BOYS ON A CART, CIRCA 1900
    xl_american_odyssey_058-059

    B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

    SWAC arrived this evening to assume my nanny duties. I continue preparations to leave. For some reason, I am more anxious about this trip than my previous ones. I have always believed that it is the surprises of travel, good or bad, that make it worthwhile. Too much planing raises expectations that are almost never met. Still, this time I worry whether I planned enough as I pack and unpack my little suitcase to make sure I have included everything I should.
    *************************************

    Well, today it rained slightly on the Golden Hills. Not much, just enough to smudge the dirt on the car’s windshield. Very little moisture made it to the ground but it seemed to have cleared the air of today’s load of ash and smoke.
    **************************************

    Early Sunday morning, I grabbed my two suitcases (mine, the light one, SWAC’s, the heavy one to be delivered to her brother in BKK) and my computer and set off for the train station. Dick drove me to the Sacramento. terminal. There I boarded the early train to SF.
    Usually, the cars are mostly empty and finding a seat easy. This morning, however, I caught the 49ers game-day train and almost every seat was filled with maroon-shirted fans happily on the way to this afternoon’s game, many of whom were getting a strong start on the train version of a tailgate party. When we got to Emeryville and I had to change to a bus to cross the bay into San Francisco. It was filled with orange-shirted SF Giant baseball fans.
    ***************************************

    B. Pookies Adventures in San Francisco

    In SF I had lunch with my daughter-in-law Annemarie, grandsons Anthony and Aaron and the new grandparents Peter and Barrie Grenell at a Savor on 24th Street. Later we visited with my granddaughter Athena who was painting a mural at the Mission Street Fair.
    2014-09-28 13.34.49
    Peter, Anthony,Barrie, Aaron, me
    image
    Amanda, Jason

    For those interested, Anthony has just moved to Vallejo. Aaron has started two businesses, a catering business and a landscape business. Ann tells me he is depressed because at twenty-years-old, his life is not turning out how he expected. Athena wants to become an artist among other things. She also often participates in feminist rallies and hopes to attend one in Texas.
    2014-09-28 14.04.48
    Athena the muralist

    2014-09-28 14.04.21

    Pookie the muralist

    Peter, besides his role as grandpa, now plays in four different bands and is looking forward to retiring from the harbor district next year.
    ***************************************

    In the evening I had dinner with my son Jason, his wife Heromi and my granddaughter Amanda. Then it was off to the airport.

    C. ALONG THE WAY

    I had a long uncomfortable plane ride to BKK. As I was getting in my seat and checking things one last time, I realized that I had either lost or left at home the small bag holding my tooth-brush, shaving equipment and all my medicines. While trying to convince myself that I was not senile, terminally stupid or going to die a horrible death during on the flight, I spent the next twenty-seven hours, worrying, sleeping fitfully, eating far too much airplane food to be healthy and watching movies,

    One of the movies was John Turturro’s wonderfully touching and comic Fading Gigolo starring Woody Allen as Murray an aging owner of a failed bookshop turned part-time pimp who is living with a black woman with four children one of whom has head lice. Murray persuades Fioravante (Turturro), a flower store employee, to service his beautiful, wealthy and married dermatologist and other lonely middle-aged women. The movie’s central story is a a semi-sweet but ill-fated and unconsummated love affair between the gigolo and the widow of the Rabbi of a highly orthodox community in Brooklyn beloved by a shomrin (look it up) named Devi.

    I liked the movie since it reminded me of my singularly unsuccessful attempt, in Rome many years ago, to experience life as a gigolo. My only so-called success in that doomed attempt was due to the sympathy of an exceptionally kind woman named Mona. I think I may write a short story or a novella based on the escapade.
    zev72dan_medium
    Mona

    D. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    After twenty-seven hours of traveling including stops in Hong Kong and Singapore (where I spent the wait-over encased in a mechanical foot massage machine provided free by the airport for foot weary travelers), I arrived in BKK. The Little Masseuse who unfortunately had gotten the time of my arrival wrong, had come and gone from the airport. Surprisingly, I was spotted by my friend from the health club the old sailor and deep-sea diver who had just seen a friend off. We shared a two-hour taxi ride from the airport. When I arrived at my apartment I went immediately to sleep and did not leave my bed all of the next day and night.

    On the third day I tried to leave but was still not feeling well so I remained in the apartment. By the fourth day I had located a supply to replace my missing medicines so I ventured forth to breakfast followed by a haircut, shave, facial scrub manicure and pedicure before lunch and then returned to the apartment for a nap.

    First photo’s from Thailand:

    IMG_20141002_093456_878

    Me strutting along Soi Nana

    IMG_20141002_091232_460

    LM at breakfast in Foodland.

    E. CONTEMPLATION OF DEATH AND DYING

    Having lost my bag containing my medicines as I mentioned, the next day during one of my brief periods of fretful wakefulness, I realized that it would be several days before I could reach my Doctor, get the names of my medicines, and buy them at a local pharmacy. This fact confirmed my belief that my imminent death was highly likely. So, in my quasi-somnolent state, I contemplated what a good death in Bangkok would be for me. In no particular order:

    Lying on a massage table, my face in the hole drool dripping from the corner of my mouth. The masseuse has just finished massaging my feet and lower legs and is spreading oil on the inside of my thighs.

    Swimming in the health club’s outdoor pool, I have just taken a breath, and glimpse, floating on the water, the multi-colored fabrics of the indian woman who had entered the pool, as they do, fully clothed. As I dip my head under the water and exhale, silver bubbles flow behind me. Through the crystalline turquoise water I make out the sun dappled bottom of the pool.

    Walking near my apartment, the sun shining, I fall through the sidewalk into the foetid canal and sewer that runs beneath BKK’s streets and as the slimy grey green ooze reaches my neck, I happily expire.

    At the supermarket in the basement of Robinson’s I lean over a display of freshly opened Durian. The King of Fruit’s aroma reminds me of unwashed 1000 year old feet. I take a deep breath.

    In Terminal 21 on the fifth floor, I sit at a booth at Baskin and Robins’. What passes for a root beer float in the area now that A&W can no longer be found, stands on the table in front of me. I press the vanilla ice cream deep into the soda and watch the foam fill the glass almost to overflowing. I suck deeply on the straw to see if I can forestall the foam from sliding down the glass and on to the table.

    I am sitting in my room watching a Thai soap opera on the television. LM sits on the floor eating fish heads and munching on some foul-smelling Thai vegetable. The beautiful but dense ingénue in love with the handsome, quite stupid but rich leading man had just come from being physically and verbally abused by her rival for affection of said stupid, handsome but rich young man, now confronts a production value deficient ghost and stands mostly mute and unmoving through two sets of commercials. I expire, probably more from terminal boredom than the lack of medicines. My head leans gently against the wall where I remain until a little after midnight when the late night slapstick comedy shows end and LM shuts off the TV and realizes I had not collapsed on to my rock hard bed and covered my head with a pillow as I usually do.

    At a sidewalk restaurant I sit and observe the the hazy street life in front of me while I chew on the first bite of my lunch. Two ladies of the evening on their way for an early start pass by, one dressed in a tight tan mini-dress that barely reaches the tops of her thighs and the other in a similar red dress. I topple forward and my face plunges into my one dollar plate of pork fried rice.

    Standing on the Sukhumvit Road overpass, by Soi Nana observing the stopped traffic below I glance to my right and spy the King of Beggars sitting at his usual post on the sidewalk his leg, amputated above the knee, extended before him. I call him the King of Beggars because he always sits at the prime street corner in the area, is well dressed with a north African style skull-cap on his head and, unlike the other beggars, he always eats his lunch at one of the regular restaurants near by. His face is dark tan, his hair white. Above his well-trimmed white mustache his eyes grey as storm clouds meet mine.

    Of course, I could always be run over by a speeding motorbike taxi, but that is just as likely if I am fully medicated as not, perhaps even more so.

    Note: for those who have read this far and found the above entertaining the rest of this note is not for you. For those concerned about the state of my health (mental or physical) please know most of the missing medicines are various prescribed vitamins. Pretty much the only concern was with the loss of my doctor prescribed happy pills. True, sudden termination of the pills can produce withdrawal symptoms that are pretty awful. Also, should I decide to replace the drug with something like opium, LSD or Oxycontin it could be more than simply life threatening. Nevertheless, the withdrawal, jet-lag and exhaustion did make me feel as though death would be a welcome improvement.

    I eventually manage to score the appropriate drugs from the pharmacy in Foodland. Everything else is the lies I tell myself. Lying to oneself is necessary for survival. If not, how would anyone make it through puberty? The ability to lie to oneself is natures compensation to those she has cursed with consciousness.
    F. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

    On the television news today it was reported that the country is experiencing an infestation of rabid ants who invade houses at night, climb into the beds of those who had been eating in the bed and not cleaning up before falling asleep and attacking every orifice of that person’s body in a crazed search for food.

    LM assures me that she knows of a friend of hers who was so attacked and had to be hospitalized. I did not get much sleep again last night.

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

    From Pookie’s 2012 write-in campaign for President:

    While reviewing old issues of T&T, I came across the following plank from my aborted write in campaign for President in 2012. I thought it remains valid today (the savings may be larger today).

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    Pookie’s platform includes a minimum of $600 billion over the next 4 years in budgetary savings by immediately ending the following welfare programs:

    1. Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies.

    There appears to be no conceivable impact on the nation’s oil and gas supply by removing these subsidies. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $80 billion.

    2. Deferment of Taxes on Income of US controlled Corporations Abroad.

    This subsidy seems to have little public benefit and only encourages offshoring of American jobs. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $200 billion.

    3. Accelerated Depreciation on Equipment:

    This is most often used by companies to avoid taxation entirely. It should only be allowed (as it was originally) as part of temporary stimulus legislation to encourage companies to buy equipment during recessions. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $140 billion.

    4. Deduction for Domestic Manufacturing:

    This deduction is simply a direct subsidy to companies. It is welfare pure and simple and has no place in the tax code. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.

    5. LIFO (Last in First Out) Accounting:

    This is simply a method to hide true profits. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion

    6. Agribusiness Welfare:

    Another unnecessary welfare program. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion.

    7. Allow Government to Negotiate Prices for Medicare:

    A direct subsidy to providers. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.

    8. Annual tax break for drug companies direct to consumer advertising:

    Why should we pay for drug company marketing to us? Estimated savings over next 4 years: $20 billion.

    I would require the resulting savings of about $125 billion per year to be set aside and used to reduce the National Debt in any year where the GNP (or another suitable measure of the economy and society) exceeds 2.5% in growth (minus inflation) for the year or used for non-tax reduction stimulus funding (e.g. public works), or safety net expenditures (e.g. extending unemployment benefits) when it falls below 2.5%.

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    “…another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility, and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
    Carroll Quigley, Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”

    Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 16 Pepe 0001 (November 2, 2012)

    TODAY FROM THAILAND AMERICA:

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND CALIFORNIA:

    So after lunch with my mom, sister and her husband at the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park, I returned to El Dorado Hills.

    I was wrong about the arrival of winter last week. The weather in Sacramento has turned balmy again.

    Since I have returned to California I have noticed a substantial change in Hayden. He appears happier and his insecurity and fear diminished; replaced by a certain degree of confidence and assertiveness I had not noticed before.

    I on the other hand have experienced a sudden decline in almost everything; vision and hearing, strength and endurance. Perhaps it is temporary and will pass. In the past during my bouts with depression and its physical effects, I have always been able to convince myself they would soon be gone. Now I feel like a specter or ghost watching life go on around me through an ever darkening scrim, unable to do anything about it until I eventually disappear into the wherever or whatever; something like the ineffectual angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I wonder if I will get my wings after it is all over. (This last is an allusion understandable only by those over 70 years old.)

    After finishing Sheldon’s book and being in the mood to read more in the Jewish policeman genre, I began Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.” It is a novel of dazzling style and inventiveness but lacking a soul. I much prefer Sheldon’s relentless humane optimism to Chabon’s unrelieved cynicism.

    I like William Kotzwinkle however. He is an incurable optimist like Sheldon. He wrote “ET.” I do not think he was all that proud of it. But hell, it’s a living.

    Like Chabon he could unleash the literary pyrotechnics. In one book, he was able to fill an entire chapter with the single word, “dorky.” Dorky repeated 400 times a page for the 10 pages of the chapter, 4000 dorkys (or is it dorkies?) in all. And this was while everyone was still using word processors.

    Chabon, were he the one writing the same chapter after about the first hundred or so dorkys would probably write something like, “Shit, if I have to write dorky one more time, I going to plunge a zhmenye of cyanide up my tokhes” or something like that. Like I said Chabon is a real stylist.

    To Kotzwinkle’s character, however, Dorky Day was the day he looked forward to. It was the day he said nothing except dorky. It was his favorite day, better even that Christmas or Passover or even Presidents day.

    Speaking of President’s Day, what’s that all about? Why did we change from honoring two of our greatest presidents, one who wore wooden false teeth and liked riding his horses almost as well as sleeping with his slaves and the other who had a glandular dysfunction and was always hearing voices in his head, to honoring them all, even the non-entities and borderline loonys? Do we really want to honor, Chester A. Arthur, George Bush or James Buchanan at the same time as we honor Washington and Lincoln?

    Buchanan by the way was our first openly gay president. He was called “Miss Nancy” by his political enemies and affectionately “Aunt Fancy” by his friends.

    Miss Nancy was born on April 23rd. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for that to be the day to celebrate gay freedom, or better yet marriage equality day? April 23 is celebrated in England as Shakespeare’s Day. It is also the feast day of St. Adalbert of Prague, National Book Day in Canada and English Language Day in the UN. Unfortunately, I do not know the actual date of Dorky Day, but April 23 would be as good as any.

    While I am at it and since I have little to do for most of the day except sit around the coffee-house and fool with my computer writing messages to myself like this,… why do the self-proclaimed serious literary critics appear to so often look down on “genre” fiction? Why do we so often consider the literary pyrotechnics of the borderline depressive, even a humorous one, serious literature while gentle optimism is dismissed as superficial? I am sure Ruth knows. She seems to understand these things.

    Is it simply the strictures of plot required of genre fiction somehow make it more artificial than the meanderings through the minutia of life of much of modern “serious” fiction, even if that minutia is outside anyone’s experience, or beggars credulity? I mean, have you read “War in Peace?” Do your really give a shit about Pierre or Prince Andrei? As for other characters in the serious literary pantheon, most were despicable. Roskolnikov, Ahab and even Achilles were assholes. You can add Heathcliff to that list and don’t even mention Dorian Grey. OK, I admit Jane Eyre has something to recommend her, but talk about missing the obvious…. Did the reprobates that peopled Faulkner or Williams’ novels really do anything for you. The characters dreamed up by Elmo Leonard or Carl Hiaasan probably appear just as real, perhaps even more so, to most of us.

    If one reads at all, by all means, one should read the classics and as much so-called serious fiction as he or she can digest but not too much. It can give one gas.

    Nevertheless one should also read those authors not cursed with seriousness. Authors like Leonard, Hiaasion, Siegel, Weber (the Honor Harrington books the rest of his books suck), Terry Pratchett, Nora Roberts and on and on; even Danielle Steel (well maybe not her). There are thousands and thousands of people out there writing fiction. Even if they have little to say, they say something.

    IMG_20150202_102913_390

    Elmo Leonard’s tips on writing fiction.

    Alas, in the age of u-tube and instant communication among perfect strangers, most of whom appear quite willing to spew out the most intimate and often embarrassing details of their lives, who needs fiction anymore? Maybe we are all becoming ghosts, viewing life through a LED display in a darkened room or an internet café somewhere.

    Even that may be a passing fad. Given the amount of time we spend on our computers or smart phones socializing and collaborating or whatever, who has the time any more to take a video of oneself trying to jump off a roof into a tea-cup? Will future generations feature prehensile pinkies and double jointed thumbs?

    Stay tuned to life, it always surprises.

    B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

    8142736926_04b385f598

    (It should also be noted that the armed forces of a country are also part of government, a very big part.)

    PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

    The following is a revised portion of my post in the internet publication sponsored by “Smart + Connected Communities Institute. It is entitled “From the Bard to the Sun King: It’s Always Something.”

    My friend Peter Grenell is director of the San Mateo Harbor District and a keen observer of history as well as an accomplished raconteur. He also is a musician who plays in several bands made up of mostly quite aged music makers. Sometimes he even sings. My favorite is when he sings, “The Old Hippie.” Ain’t it the truth.

    In a discussion I had with him recently* about the speed and scope of change in the world today, he reminded me to:

    “Never forget It was just 35 years more or less from Shakespeare to Louis XIV ; From the French and Indian War to the Louisiana Purchase ; From ‘Et Tu., Brute’ to the kid in the manger; From Fred Allen to Laugh-In.”

    We tend to look back into history and see social change as a slow process when we view it through the prism of technological transformation or the speed in which the changes are disseminated. But as Peter so sagely observed, those born into the frugal world of the Bard died in the extravagant age of the Sun King. Many of those that heard the cheers or jeers that accompanied the imperial pretensions of Julius Caesar, ended their days hearing the whispers of a new king born in the East. Social change is generational. What makes it appear more rapid at one time then another when we look back on it, is its scope and reach. It is the scope and reach of social change that are often dictated by the technologies of the time. For the serf in the field at the time, it made little difference that the world changed from idolizeng an ink-stained wretch in tights to obsession with a bewigged sex maniac whose idea of a good time was having a bunch of people watch him take a shit every morning.

    Social change is also reflexive. The reaction to the changes also changes things, often in ways that cannot be predicted. That is why even the most perceptive among us are constantly surprised by the effects of these changes. This is also why your financial advisor is always wrong.

    Tomorrow’s urban areas, that are being impacted by modern communications technology, will not be the same as the urban areas of today. The Cities of our fathers or grandparents that were the smoky chaotic centers of industry and trade were not the same as the urban areas of our time. Today they are uncertain places, slowly decaying as motorized transportation takes people, industry and commerce away to less stressful environments. The Cities of the future, fashioned in part by the effects of the communications technologies being used today will be different still, probably in ways we cannot imagine. These new cities will be neither as bleak as feared or as paradisiacal as hoped. In my opinion, the experience of those changes and how we accommodate them are much of what life is all about. As it has always been, it will be both frightening and exhilarating. Unfortunately, more often than not, it will be as boring as it always has been.

    * This is not true. It was in an email he sent me. When we get together to talk it us usually about sex for the aged, the variety of ways to achieve apotheosis and Gene Autry singing “Happy Trails to You.”

    In contemplating the world of the future Peter also surmised:

    “…in the 19th century west of the Mississippi, people lived on the frontier. Space migrants will be an obvious new variant. But these App-People — call them App-Licants, perhaps are a new breed. Maybe just Apps. Do Apps do laundry? Do Apps have solar implants that get recharged when they take their morning constitutionals? End of electricity issue. Meanwhile, is a new sub-species agglomerating, consisting of those who power, run, life with/in the underground key facilities, like the Visa Central in Virginia, bank/computer complexes hidden wherever, NSA Maryland, USAF Colorado Springs, CERN/Switzerland, the secret central Greek kitchen serving all Greek restaurants everywhere, etc.”

    (Note: Except for Peter’s quote many of those portions in italics above as well as in the * did not appear in the original post.)

    DAILY FACTOID:

    1960’s: The the true and tragic case of the Singing Nun.

    Sister Luc Gabriel (Jeanine Deckers) was best known as the Singing Nun. Her song Dominque became such a hit that it knocked Elvis Presley off the charts! Overnight, the Dominican nun was an international celebrity with the stage name of Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile). She gave concerts and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Her fame went to her head and she eventually left the convent to spend more time on her musical career.

    At the same time she shacked up with her lesbian lover and released a song “Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill” singing the praises of the contraceptive pill. After her first album none of her music was very successful. In 1982, she and her girlfriend committed suicide together by taking sleeping tablets with alcohol. (from Listverse)

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

    A. Readings from the Bible:

    Why women should think twice before trying the break up a fight between men.

    “When two men are fighting and the wife of one of them intervenes to drag her husband clear of his opponent, if she puts out her hand and catches hold of the man by his privates, you must cut off her hand and show her no mercy.”
    12. Deut. 25:11

    B. Electioneering:

    “Federal disaster relief is ‘immoral.'”
    Mitt Romney at a GOP debate during the primaries.

    “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how than can skewer a person. I do not see that in men. The whole time I worked, I’d much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them.”
    Janis Lane, Central Mississippi Tea Party President, A Mississippi Tea Party Chat, June 14, 2012.

    I assume Janis is aware of the biblical stricture:

    “And he said ‘Hagar, Sarai’s slave girl, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She answered, ‘I’m running away from Sarai, my mistress.” The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to ill treatment at her hands.’”
    14. Genesis 16:8

    Janis may not like them, but according to God, a boss is a boss no matter his or her gender. As a good Republican, I would hope she would agree.

    “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
    Sinclair Lewis

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    “Wonder is the desire for knowledge.”
    Thomas Aquinas

    TODAY’S CHART:

    311274_492482457439437_655804275_n

    The perfect storm also approaches the golden mean. Fibonacci (1170–1250) mentioned the numerical series now named after him in his Liber Abaci; the ratio of sequential elements of the Fibonacci sequence approaches the golden ratio asymptotically. Therefore it can be said that Sandy approached New Jersey asymptotically [Being asymptotic actually is illegal in New Jersey. On the other hand, Governor Christie certainly appears to be asymptotic.].

    TODAy’S CARTOON:

    559659_10151119615046850_650672241_n

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

    416803_503476913004527_273101652_n

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

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Joe 0001 (July 18,2012)

     

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    Today I am announcing  termination of my candidacy for President of the United States. This section of “This and that…” will also end.

    I am ending my campaign because the candidacies of the truly insane have, well,… gone into the toilet, leaving me the difficult task of thinking up parodies rather than simply reproducing the candidates own public statements.

    Also, as I have mentioned previously, I am one of the few people who actually likes, Mendacious Mitt. For someone completely lacking a public personality, he has managed to become the medias dream candidate by basically refusing to do things. Some pundits have criticized his refusals as bad strategy, but I, on the other hand, suspect that it may be brilliant.

    Imagine if during his acceptance speech after garnering the nomination at the Republican convention he refuses to run for president. The free press coverage would dwarf what he could buy no matter how large the campaign contributions made by those 10 wealthy men into his independent expenditure funds.

    This section will be hereafter replaced by:

    POOKIE’S PUERILE EPIGRAMS:

    1. Consciousness is nothing more than post hoc rationalization.

    2. Humans are not rational animals, but rationalizing ones.

    3. Consciousness is what one tells oneself to keep away the darkness.

    TODAY FROM THAILAND:

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    This weekend I returned to “Paradise by the Sea” (Jomtien Beach) to visit with Bill who was spending a few days in “The Outskirts of Hell” (Pattaya) about two miles from “Paradise by the Sea.” He had just returned from a brief trip to Malaysia scoping out business opportunities there and unwinding somewhere between the gates of paradise and the portals of hell from the rigors of Muslim Puritanism.

    I met him and Ray at the “Oval Table” where about a year ago the Geriatric Knights set off on their adventures. Three of the original five Knights were there, Density, Harvey and Giufa. Horace who prefers to be called Jerome we would met up with that evening. Spy was off knight erranting somewhere south of Outremer searching for the Grail or a stray yoni or two which were hard to find where he was at.

    We decided to dub Ray into the club (The Rub a Dub Club?). We could not decide on a suitable heraldic name for him. We were stuck between “Omar the Tent Maker” and “Sinbad the Sailor.” I decided to compromise on “Sinbad the Tent Maker.”

    Alas, Angelina-Tai, Selma-moo, Princess Oy and the other houri had long ago departed for other caravansaries, and soon so did we.

    I checked into the guest house on Jomtien Beach Road Soi 3 where I stayed the last time I was there, napped and waited for LM.

    That evening we met Bill, Mike and Ray for dinner at a restaurant on the Walking Street. After dinner we went to a nearby go-go bar where Ray was to meet with the ex-owner to discuss business opportunities in Pattaya. The ex-owners claim to fame was that he managed to sell his failing go-go bar to someone else and now passes himself off as an expert in doing business in Thailand.

    The tiny club consisted of a row of booths surrounding a small stage upon which about 10 poles reaching to the ceiling were set. A selection of slightly overweight women, naked from the waist up, one hand on a pole, moved their bodies in a desultory fashion to some over loud 20-year-old rock music while staring boredly at themselves in the mirrors that covered the walls behind the booths. We were the only customers.

    We then went to a place called the Windmill a few steps away from the go-go place. Here the joint was packed. It featured various fully naked women performing simulated sex acts and others, equally naked, jumping in and out of Jacuzzis, while various old over-weight men with wallets out were peeling off notes from wads of Thai money and handing it to other naked women whose bodies were pressed against them.

    For those who picture the Outskirt’s of Hell as a simply an aging white male sexist paradise you could not be further from the truth. Unlike God, who seems to prefer well muscled male mesomorphs, Lucifer is nothing if not an equal opportunity corrupter. Within the Outskirts of Hell there are alley’s devoted to transsexual (Be all that you can be) clubs, lesbian sex clubs and the standard run of the mill gay bars.

    You can also shop for souvenirs and buy the sex enhancement medication of your choice at the many establishments specializing in selling those products. And of course restaurants by the ton located on the land or on boat anchored offshore. Food, sexual indulgence and gross corruption are never too far apart.

    After a few minutes of observation, LM and I excused ourselves and returned to the hotel.

    The next morning LM and I took the ferry to Koh Larn one of the several islands in the Bay of Thailand located off Pattaya and Jomtien Beach. It contains a small village and several tiny beaches adjacent to which one can enjoy lunch for about twice the price of similar fare on the mainland and stare at the high-rises lining the shore across the straight.

    We ate lunch at a tiny place by a beach of strange maroon and lemon yellow stones. We were the only customers. After lunch we returned to Pattaya and continued on back to BKK and our apartment.

    B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

    “House Republicans have now voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 33 times. Every time they take this vote, it’s time they could be spending on other issues. Other issues like, for instance, what they would do instead of the Affordable Care Act. But though they’ve found the time to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on 33 separate occasions, they have voted to replace the Affordable Care Act exactly … never.”
    (Ezra Klein)

    What is it that one calls those who perform the same futile act over and over again?

    Ha, I got you there. The correct answer is Republicans.

    C. OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THAILAND:

    1. A Thai comments on his society:

    Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most respected english daily newspaper recently wrote:

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

    2. Thai Beauty:

    The most beautiful women in Thailand are men.

    TODAY’S FACTOID:

    What the hell happened in 1980 to cause this sudden horrendous orgy of incarcerating Americans?

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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


    As free spending “liberals,” “Occupy” backers should support the Republican approach to Federal financing over the Democratic.

    B. Fun with the Mormons:

    Baptism for the dead, vicarious baptism or proxy baptism is a religious practice of baptizing a living person on behalf of an individual who is dead; the living person is acting as the deceased person’s proxy. It has been practiced since 1840 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where it is also called temple baptism because it is performed only in dedicated temples.

    In the practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a living person, acting as proxy, is baptized by immersion on behalf of a deceased person of the same gender. The baptism ritual is as follows: after calling the living proxy by name, the person performing the baptism says, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and on behalf of [full name of deceased person], who is dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The proxy is then immersed briefly in the water. Baptism for the dead is a distinctive ordinance of the church and is based on the belief that baptism is a required ordinance for entry into the Kingdom of God.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vicariously baptizes people regardless of race, sex, or creed. This includes both victims and perpetrators of genocide. Some Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their supporters have objected to this practice.

    This means that black people and gays can become Mormons after they die. Oh, happy day.

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    TODAY’S CHART:


    Not only is this chart graphically confusing, but misleading. Republicans have never maintained that they are about jobs. They have always maintained they were about economic growth and smaller government. The fact that similar charts on the economic growth and the size of the Federal government would show that during Democratic administrations the economy grew faster and the size of government smaller then during Republican administrations is irrelevant.

    What this chart and others like it do show however, is that during the administration of that “Great Satan” to both Republicans and Liberal Democrats, Bill Clinton, by whatever measure of success one chooses, we seem to have done better than under any other President in recent memory, Republican or Democratic .

    Let’s bring back “The Big Gut,” (not a typo). Politics was more interesting and fun then. The problem with the current presidential campaign is that neither candidate can be referred to as a, “Happy Warrior.”

    TODAY’S CARTOON:

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

     

    Categories: July through September 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Shadow 0001 (July 13, 2012)

    TODAY FROM THAILAND:

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    Bill Gates and Ray arrived from Pattaya where they had spent the past week scoping out business opportunities. We spent a few hours rummaging through Bangkok’s riotous Chinatown markets, looking for things that could be resold in the US. Some, like decorative mobile phone covers, apparently have a mark-up value ten times greater than the Thai purchase price. Bee, one of the first employees at AVA when Bill, Dick and I opened it some 13 years ago, accompanied us and served as an interpreter.

    After leaving AVA Bee married a man from the piedmont region of North Carolina who had a string of carts selling inexpensive jewelry in several shopping centers in North and South Carolina. She had worked for her husband as a buyer in Thailand for a while. She was here in Bangkok visiting family and seeing her daughter off to college in BKK.

    Later that evening, Bill, Bee, LM and I had dinner at the “Fish Market” restaurant that we always liked so much. We reminisced.

    LM and I went to the movies to see “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.” We shouldn’t have.

    After a short trip to Malaysia, Bill and Ray returned to Pattaya. I hope to join them for a day or two.

    Resurrection:

    Today, while walking back to my apartment I discovered the “dead man” I commented on at length a few post ago, lying comatose and spread-eagled at the base of the steps to the Nana Skytrain station, thus reducing my guilt ridden ethical quandary to another example of simple self-indulgence. Had I found the cop I was looking for at the time, while I am sure he would not have laughed in my face, I expect he would have smiled the way Thais do, assured me he would do something about it and after I left, utterly ignored it.

    Unless it is some student art project using an embalmed cadaver, obviously he had not died where last I had seem him, although he could actually be dead now, but I think not. As I thought about my inert friend, I suspected that he must be able to raise some money, enough to feed himself and to support his evident alcohol (coconut milk beer?) or drug habit. He probably was not a trust fund baby and I was relatively certain he did not beg. So he must work at something. If so, that raises him from the realm of what some consider pure parasites (trust fund babies and those needing the assistance of others). I reasoned that he probably, stole, defrauded tourists or gleaned from garbage cans, thereby raising enough money to be able to lie insensate in the sun, sort of like the Wall Street barons lying on the beach or by the pools of their estates, equally comatose on the more expensive drugs of their choice; alcohol, cocaine, tranquilizers and steroids.

    But wait you say, you cannot compare what they, the Wall Street barons, do with someone who defraud tourists, steals and makes a living off the refuse of others? If you believe that they are not comparable, then I suggest that you plan a stop at your local moral service station and have your ethical dip-stick checked. You are probably running low on your ethical conscience level.

    Travel:

    My travel Schedule firmed up a bit. I depart BKK for LA July 30. I will be staying with Monty and hopefully spending some time with Ruth, Ben and Greg. I leave LA by train to San José on the 5th of August and see Gates. On the 6th I will arrive in SF and visit with my son and grandchildren as well as my sister and her family. I leave on the 10th with Grenell for some Ragout and Charbono with Sally in the Benioff Zone returning to SF by mid week. After that I hope visit with friends in SF and spend some time with Hayden, the Dalls and Geyers in Sacto. Toward the end of September, I plan to depart for Florida, Washington, New York and Maine, before returning to Thailand by way of Italy.

    B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

    1. Trumped:

    I recently read where Donald Trump attended my alma mater, Fordham University, but he received no degree. So did “Captain Kangaroo,” but he graduated. I take from this that, “Captain Kangaroo” was smarter than Trump. But everyone already knew that.

    2. Do your trust these men:

    In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.

    Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.
    (Huffington Post-Reuters Report)

    3. Non-partisan Congressional Budget Office report on Taxes:

    Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, due in part to tax cuts obtained by President Obama to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

    However the Wall Street Journal points out that the average tax rate for the top 1%—those with average incomes of about $1.2 million—rose to 28.9% from 28.1% a year earlier…

    Wow, a whole .2% increase in taxes. How they must be suffering. That explains why they will spend a billion dollars to defeat the man. Clearly the rest of us do not understand the unfairness of it all.

    C. OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THAILAND.

    1. Perhaps the most amazing talent of the Thais is the ability of Thai women to maneuver flawlessly along the despicably decrepit sidewalks of Bangkok in spiked heels.

    2. If it is overcast and rainy, Thais consider it a good day.

    TODAY’S FACTOID:

    Chinese Taoism, cunnilingus is revered as a spiritually fulfilling practice that is believed to enhance longevity

    Once again the East gets it right. The older I get… no I am not going there.

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

    Does anyone have any idea what this chart is about?

    B. God; one of the guys:

    “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.”
    Leviticus 25:44

    Leviticus also seems to say that if guys get it on with guys, they should be put to death. Why would God consider it ok for gay guys to have slaves but not sleep with another guy? I wonder if God thought it was acceptable for guys to sleep with the slaves of either sex, but not with a non-slave of the same sex. I am pretty sure some of the slave-owning patriarchs did, didn’t everyone? Perhaps it was not necessary for slaves to “increase and multiply.”

    By the way, did you notice that the sly old God did not prohibit women sleeping with women? Perhaps like most guys He liked to watch.

    C. Fun with the Mormons:

    The temple garment (or the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, or informally, the garment or garments) in some denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, is a set of sacred underclothing worn by adult adherents who have taken part in a ritual ceremony known as washing and anointing ordinance, usually in a temple as part of the Endowment ceremony. Anti-Mormon activists have publicly displayed or defaced temple garments to show their opposition to the LDS Church.

    According to generally accepted Mormon doctrine, the marks in the garments are sacred symbols (Buerger 2002, p. 58). One proposed element of the symbolism, according to early Mormon leaders, was a link to the “Compass and the Square,” the symbols of freemasonry (Morgan 1827, pp. 22-23), to which Joseph Smith (creator of Mormonism) had been initiated about seven weeks before his introduction of the Endowment ceremony.

    Adherents of this practice consider them to be sacred and may be offended by public discussion of the garments.(Listverse)

    I agree. I would not want someone making fun of my underwear.

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    This is a cheap shot. People with wealthy parents are not necessarily parasites. He could have lived off his inheritance, instead Mitt chose to increase the “talents” given to him by making sure others had none. That was a cheap shot too. I apologize. I actually am one of the few on either side of the political spectrum who actually likes Mitt. I like the fact that he can continue to smile no matter what he is saying. He reminds me of a polished used car salesman. There I go again. I really am sorry.

    Actually neither of men running for the highest office in the land impresses me as strong enough to resist the gathering storm rising up against us and eventually against them. The fabric of an American consensus has been ripped apart on every issue. We no longer (if we ever did) differ on emphasis or direction, but contest every issue raised as if there is no common understanding between us.

    Left to their own devices, and not pushed by the needs of politics, from a policy standpoint they, Obama and Romney, probably are not hugely dissimilar (1960s liberal Republicans). However, I suspect that by inclination and by commitment and frankly by choice of party, Obama will prove to be more steadfast.

    We are, after all, faced not with a single crisis or even a succession of crises.

    We are faced instead with a series of system collapses each making the others more severe. Yet, the resolution of one requires the resolution of the others.

    The liquidity crises reflects the collapse of demand and thus in turn eroding the value of the all too abundant liquid assets. Currently the plan is to move the unused assets around from one ginned up speculation to another until something happens that will remove the threat to their value.

    The employment crisis represents in part a collapse of resource growth that will not be corrected merely by rebuilding outdated infrastructure. Helpful though that may be, it does not appreciably improve productivity. It only slows its deterioration. It probably cannot be improved anyway, at least not by any options available to us that we know of. Shipping jobs overseas is at best a short term solution.

    A war will not be among the answers to the current economic crisis. It will only make it more grievous.

    The environment is collapsing in that it no longer is an esthetic/conservation issue corrected by preservation. Nor is it making us sick in ways that can be remedied simply by removing the source danger. Today the environment has begun to turn deadly to individuals, humanity and most life forms. It cannot be resolved by more production furnishing surplus resources that enable us to preserve what is important. Nor is it adequate to remedy the specific activity that makes us sick. These solutions only make it worse.

    World comity, which had been steadily increasing since WWII also is in danger of collapse and nations and their internal politics demand that they turn inward and protect themselves from the economic, social and environmental maelström that threatens to engulf them. But while that may be good internal politics it is probably disastrous policy (Germany is a good example. While Merkle’s policies may be good for her re-election, they are disasters for Germany in the long run).

    The impacts of coming migrations caused by global warming can at best be delayed in hopes that a long-term solution evolves. But from where is this miracle to come? In almost none of these integrated world wide collapses is there a concerted effort to deal with either the specific collapse or the effects of them upon each other.

    On the economy, the approach appears to be to hold on and reduce our efforts and expectations, whether short or long term, and hope something happens like it did once or twice in the past.

    On the social level, while a huge number of efforts are underweigh, they are a drop in the bucket from what is required and anyway they tend to address results and not causes.

    Dealing with the rapidly evolving homicidal environment is left not to a concerted effort to combat it as though we were in a war but to vague hopes that something will happen at some point in the future that will save us.

    If Roosevelt and Churchill listened to those who preached a similar religion then, we all will be speaking German or Japanese today (Except for Jews, Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals and a host of others (most likely Russians and blacks) who would all be dead).

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    1. Charles Bukowski

    2. Peter Grenell, July 1 2012 (11 Shadow, 0001)

    “… the origin of Hells Kitchen? Before Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, there was Indigestion on Ninth.”

    TODAY’S CHART:

    What I do not understand about this chart, is that all 100,000 people must die eventually, so what is it that the remaining 999,400 die of? And, If only 600 out of 100,000 die each year then some people must live forever. [Actually what it tells us is simply that at some point in the future there will be a massive die off of the old]

    TODAY’S CARTOON:

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

    Categories: July through September 2012, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 31 Jo-Jo 0001 (June 15, 2012)

    TODAY FROM THAILAND:

    A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    1. Waiting for the Queen

    Last week Thailand celebrated the Buddha’s enlightenment (or perhaps it was the King’s birthday or Buddha’s, I never did catch which). In addition to celebrations scheduled throughout the country, a ceremony was planned for the large park area in front of the palace compound in BKK. LM persuaded me to accompany her to watch it.

    After the almost one hour ride on the inexpensive but non-air-conditioned number 2 bus, we arrived at the site with thousand’s of others. We found a place alongside a large open area surrounded by temporary pavilions where we thought we would have a good view of the proceedings. In the center of the enclosed open space in front of us, a large stepped pyramid structure, all red and gold, had been constructed. LM said we were waiting for the Queen.

    Facing the pyramid was a gold throne that I assumed was there for the Queen to sit in during the usually interminably long official buddhist ceremonies. Although the various pavilions had chairs in them, there were no others in the enclosure. Neither were there chairs for the spectators. Most people kneeled or sat on the ground. I don’t do kneeling or sitting on the ground, so I stood at the back of the crowd in front of one of the pavilions. The general public was not allowed into the pavilions.

    Although there were a few people in suits and uniforms with mobile phones pressed to their ears scurrying around within the enclosure, the first organized group to arrive were a few dozen or so military or police, all spiffy in their brown starched and pressed uniforms. Each had hand guns by their side. They took up positions around the periphery of the open space facing the crowd. They soon were followed by a lot of people in white uniforms, many of which sported gold braid. These people milled about aimlessly, now and then bowing and weiing to each other. Then the band arrived, they had white uniforms also, only the conductor had braid, however. It was red. They marched around a bit but did not play music. Their instruments were all silver, unlike American bands that often mix gold and silver-colored ones.

    Next to arrive was a squad of soldiers dressed in white wearing white metal helmets with gold spikes rising out of the top. They carried rifles. You know that it is a serious ceremony when guys with gold spikes rising from the tops or their head arrive carrying guns. Their job seemed to require them to be placed by their officers around the grounds in teams of two and to remain standing there without moving a muscle no matter what happens. Their fortitude was demonstrated when one or another of their officers would march up close behind each trooper and goose him. The statue soldiers did not flinch. I watched this in amazement for a while, until I realized that they were not goosing them but grasping the bottom of the troopers jacket and pulling it down to remove wrinkles.

    I never understood why many of the worlds militaries maintain squads of similar types of statute soldiers. If anything happens are they still required to stand immobile? Why not use real statues?

    After this, every few minutes or so, a limousine would drive up and disgorge a white uniformed person with lots and lots of gold braid. From among them, Princess LuckyGirl the current Prime Minister and sister to the deposed, exiled, fugitive Prime Minister Thaksin the Terrible, with her entourage emerged to a smattering of applause. She also had a white uniform, but I did not see any gold braid. She is not really a Princess and her name is not LuckyGirl. I just call her Princess because she is the sister of the man who actually runs the country from exile. Her real name is Yingluck. Ying in Thai refers to a young person, usually female and luck is well,…luck, and after all, she could be considered very lucky being born rich and then elected Prime Minister without ever holding a real job before.

    She appears to be a tall woman towering over most of the men clustered around her. Either that or she just likes to be surrounded by short men. Better to see what is going on; probably a good idea for a Prime Minister, especially in Thailand.

    After about 10 limousines let out their passengers, we stood waiting for the Queen and watched as thunderstorms moved across Bangkok toward where we were assembled. The thunderstorms arrived before the Queen and pelted us with their fury. Many spectators wisely brought umbrellas. I had not. Along with several other of the unprepared, I sought refuge beneath the banner attached to the side of the nearest pavilion.

    When the rains let up a bit, the Queen arrived in a large gold limousine that seemed to be a cross between a sedan and a SUV. Following her vehicle were about 10 bright red limos. I do not know why they followed her, who was in them or why they were all red. Since the rain prompted the removal of the outdoor chair or throne, they ignored the pyramid and drove directly to a pavilion at the back of the enclosure and stopped. There then seemed to be a lot of rushing about and bowing and more weiing. Apparently, the Queen, unseen to me and most of the other spectators, disappeared into the pavilion and out of the rain.

    I signaled to LM that it was time to go. Since the ceremony would be hidden from view, I believed there was no more to see and besides I was wet and tired. We made our way through the throng to the exit only to find it gated and guarded by some of the sidearm wielding, brown shirted soldiers who told us we could not leave until after the Queen does.

    This upset me very much. Here I was drenched, 72 years old, exhausted from standing with nowhere to rest and trapped like a member of the band on the deck of the Titanic. I began to panic. LM recognizing my distress, dragged me back to where we had spent the last hour in the rain and tried to calm me down by suggesting that I sit on the sopping wet ground until I felt better. Meanwhile a very short Thai woman sidled up to me and attempted to pick my pocket and one of the brown shirts insisted that I remove my hat out of respect to the Queen who I could not see and now was convinced had never arrived. (To be continued, perhaps)

    2. Hayden

    SWAC said that Hayden arrives in Thailand for summer holidays on June 12. After that I am not sure about the schedule except that at the end of July or early August I am planning to accompany Hayden to Italy and then back to the US. I hope to be able to stop off on the East Coast for a few days to see my daughter and go for a ride on Terry’s sailboat.

    Since I wrote the above paragraph, Hayden arrived in BKK and I reprised my nanny duties. After one day, despite the apparent success of my exercise regime in restoring some sense of vigor to my aging body, I was exhausted. SWAC agreed to relieve me and keep him with her for the evening at AVA. I am sure it will be more interesting for him, music, noise, pretty, sweet-smelling young women hugging him whenever he walks by. It could be worse.

    My current travel schedule is to depart for Italy about July 15 and remain there for two weeks. SWAC and LM if she decides to travel with me will go to Sacile and Tamil just north of Venice at stay at the farm where Hayden and I spent a month together. Nikki, Hayden and I plan to travel to Naples and then by boat to Sicily for a week; I to visit relatives in Cannicatti outside of Agrigento and Nikki friends in Catania. None of this will probably happen but I like to write about it anyway.

    B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

    1. Gaga over Rolex:

    During her stay in Thailand for a performance, Lady Gaga tweeted that she, “Might buy a fake Rolex.” The Thai agency in charge of dealing with counterfeit goods, demanded an apology and threatened to launch a campaign against her appearance for insulting Thailand and interfering with their effectiveness in their fight against piracy. They also logged an official complaint with the US government.

    When faced with almost universal ridicule based on the common knowledge that fake Rolex’s and just about any other brand of anything are blatantly sold by Thai’s on every main street in BKK, the agency proved that their effectiveness battling the illicit trade by promptly and publicly busting a dealer who openly sold fake watches for over 5 years. As expected, the dealer was a foreigner. The thousands of Thai purveyors in counterfeit products continue on without fear of official interference.

    2. Your morning coffee:

    In Singapore, a maid mixed her menstrual blood into her employers morning coffee in hopes that it would make him treat her better. When the employer discovered this, he had the maid arrested for assault.

    (I do not see what he is complaining about, all that extra iron I am sure made him feel better. It was free too.)

    3. So Gay:

    Also in Singapore a man named Gay was accused of sexually harassing a woman.

    This passes for news in Singapore.

    4. It may or may not be difficult to comprehend:

    In Thailand applicants for an entry-level job with the police department paying all of $250 per month, paid up to$10,000 each to a gang to provide them with the answers on the entrance exam.

    According to the news reports, the exam takers received the answers relayed from gang members to radio receivers hidden “deep” within their private parts.

    I still do not understand either why or how. Perhaps the East is even more inscrutable than we ever imagined.

    TODAY’S FACTOID:

    Every once in a while I believe it is worth returning to contemplate Tomyris and the Massegetae.

    “Now listen to me and I will advise you for your good: give me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over one-third of the Massagetae. If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.”

    This was Tomyris Warrior Queen of the Massegetae’s response to Cyrus the Great, Emperor of Persia, conqueror of the greatest empire of the ancient world and leader of the largest and most technologically advanced army of the time, after he demanded that Tomyris and the Massegetae surrender to him. Cyrus refused Tomyris’ advice. So, she personally led the charge of her forces that destroyed his army. After her victory, she searched the battlefield herself until she found Cyrus’ body, then she cut off his head and made his skull into her favorite goblet.

    This leads me to conclude that one should never mess with a woman named Tomyris, or for that matter a Massegetae who some ancient historians believe became the Huns. I heard that there is a biker gang in South Dakota named the Massegetae whose leader is a six-foot six-inch transsexual named Tomyris. One is well advised to avoid visiting Mt. Rushmore.

    For those interested in learning more about the Massegetae, this is what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus had to say about them:

    “In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for head-gear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.”

    “The following are some of their customs; – Each man has but one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Jaxartes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”

    I have a few concerns and questions about the Massegetae life-style:
    1. How does one have one wife held in common? Does it mean that you can only sleep with one woman each night?
    2. How old do you have to be before they come for you and boil you up with a cow or two? Brisket of Pookie?
    3. How pissed off with your lot in life would you be if you were forced to live on beef, fish, sour milk and a grandfather or grandmother now and then? Enough to want to go and beat the shit out of someone, I would imagine. 

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

    Graphic unavailable at this time.

     

    After almost 100 years of fighting against the will of the people, the wealthy near their goal. Only Obama stands in their way. I doubt whether that will prove to be much of a barrier.

    B. Terry Petrillo on her 94th birthday:

    Terry accompanied by her daughter MaryAnn.

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    Your elected representatives at work for you:

    For this you elect them and pay them too.

    By the way, who started the rumor that Republicans opposed big government? Republicans seem mostly to want to get government out of the corporate board room and into the bedroom [not yours of course, I am sure you would never do anything to require them to go there].

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    “Free government cannot long endure if property is largely in a few hands and large masses of people are unable to earn homes, education, and a support in old age.”
    Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States.

    Hayes, a Nineteenth Century gentleman and Republican President of the United States, would be called a socialist today by FauxNews, Tea Party advocates and members of the current Republican Party. I guess you can include Hayes along with Reagan, Eisenhower, T. R. , and Lincoln as Republican Presidents that would be shocked at how far their Party has fallen from the path they believed they had set for it.

    TODAY’S CHART:

     

    Q. What do woman want? A. How about being listened to once in a while.

    TODAY’S CARTOON:

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

    Photograph of the Amazon the “Lungs of the Planet,” provided by Phillip who, bless his heart, has an eye for beauty despite his fervent belief that private enterprise has the inherent right to inflict black lung disease on the earth’s respiratory organs.
    Note: look closely at the upper right side of the photograph. Is that a shadow or is a jaguar sitting on the rock?

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

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 18, 2011

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    1. For those concerned for my supposed one-sided posting of Republican failures and follies while ignoring Obama’s, I discovered the following:

    See, libs do criticize libs

    2. Why parody is impossible:

    “If the Soviet empire still existed, I’d be terrified. The fact is, we can afford a fairly ignorant presidency now.”
    ~Newt Gingrich, saying that it’s okay for the President to be “fairly” ignorant.
    3. Let’s give the American people a chance to hear Buddy Roemer in the Republican nomination for President debates:

    Romney’s better [than Gingrich], but he’s bought. I saw Mitt Romney when he was running for the United States Senate …. He talked about PACs, about special interest money, and about how he was different from Ted Kennedy. Bullshit. With three [presidential] Super PACs, he already has received four $1-million checks.”

    “These [Republicans] are decent people, They can play a role in turning America around. I would ask them to lead. I would ask them to stand up. Stop what they’re doing …. Tell their party, my party: Let’s stop being the party of big checks.”
    Buddy Roemer

    TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

    A. 2011 Food costs:

    I do not know what this chart signifies other than good news for restaurants.

    B. 2011 Black Friday:

    On a recent front page of USA Today, the main headline read “Guns were a big seller on Black Friday.” According to the article, sales of firearms hit record numbers on the day after Thanksgiving, with a surge in FBI background checks by 129,166 new buyers — “smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32 percent, according to bureau records.”

    Unfortunately, there are many in the US who are more proud of this than they would be about reports of any general upturn economic activity or jobs.

    TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

    1. Teflon Prime Minister:

    Recently when questioned by the press whether her planned reorganization of the military could lead to a military coup similar to that that toppled her brother Thaksin the Terrible when he attempted a similar reorganization, Prime Minister Princess Lucky Girl responded with her standard answer to questions regarding the impact of her policies: “I am confident I am working my best for the people who trust me and I will do my best for Thailand. I believe that I have this intention. I must seek fair treatment from everyone.”

    When asked what her intentions actually were she replied that she did not want to discuss the issue for the time being as she was focusing on working with all parties to relieve the people’s hardships.

    2. The benefits of Teflon:

    Only a day or two after the above appeared in the newspapers Prime Minister Princess Lucky Girl that the senior General and head of the Army would retain his position until retirement. I assume this agreement covers the other members of his military school class. Any “reorganization” appears limited to the lower ranks replacing those now scheduled to accede to the senior positions by those who support the Thaksin the Terrible/Princess Lucky Girl administration.

    Prior to the election, I wrote in these posts that I suspected that Thaksin the Terrible would make a deal of this type. After all, the prior coup was instituted following the failed attempt to cashier these same officers and replace them with members of Thaksin the Terrible‘s military class. Right after the election I guessed that the opposition party’s suspicions that such a deal was in the making, launched a series of almost hysterical media and political attacks on the incoming government that appeared more geared to influence the military general staff than the populace as a whole. Apparently, with this most recent announcement my speculation appears to have been correct. What this means is, barring a string of absolutely stupid political actions, the current government will sit in power for a while and Thaksin the Terrible will return from exile in triumph. Given the overweening size of his ego and the impact of his success on it, I would guess he goes back into government. It would be a foolish thing for him to do.

    POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    Alas, I have been struck down by illness and have remained in my bed for the past few days trying to treat it with antibiotics, throat lozenges, liquids and sleep. I still feel miserable.

    While so engaged in self medication and self-pity, I received phone calls from SWAC and from Nikki urging me to fly off to Italy for the holidays at Vittorio’s farm and then return to the US to resume my nanny duties until Hayden is once again abandoned to his fate. While, health permitting, I am leaning toward going, much depends on whether I can make all the arrangement within the next few days.

    As I lie here in bed, I am watching on television an amazing fireworks display that is taking place in Pattaya (the outskirts of hell) in honor of the kings birthday. There are about 15 separate countries participating in a competition. It has been explained to me that each country contributed to the fireworks demonstrations accompanied by music. There were three presentations that I saw each lasting about 15-20 minutes. The Japanese presentation, an US led display and one more. About 20 years ago, my daughter and I attended the fireworks exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of  erection of the Statue of Liberty in NY harbor. That was by far the most impressive show of pyrotechnics I have ever seen until this one. I think the American led display won first prize.

    PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

    Recently I read a short opinion piece by Naomi Wolf in the Bangkok Post in which she mentioned that she had noticed a trend by some young adults for the most part, to choose to live a lower impact lifestyle. This was not the quasi-religious back to nature life styles movement favored by the Hippies, nor was it the life of hopeless desperation that gripped much of the Nation in the 1930s. It seems that here a number of the modern descendants of those prior movements are simply deciding on a simpler way of life because the alternative, even if accessible, is no longer as desirable. An ideal life based almost exclusively upon greed is being found wanting.

    The impact of this change in goals, as she pointed out could be momentous. It does not take many people to decide, for example, that they do not need a second car for its reverberations for good or ill  felt throughout society. In that example, the failure of the automotive industry to grow at a rate equivalent to population growth, replacement and a little more, would have severe consequences to the economy that cannot be remedied by lower prices or financing.

    What Ms Wolf did not mention that some of those entering their most economically productive years are the members of the social network, mobile entertainment and information generation. Their life style choices could exacerbate the economic and social impacts of the trend she writes about.

    For example, our transportation, fashion, entertainment, adult and a host of other choices often require our traveling somewhere, frequently with the hope to impress those we meet along the way with our abilities, success or whatever else is important to our sense of self-worth. Conspicuous consumption of even some of the wealthiest among us may become less a function of acquisition of physical things then it is now. (Why two Ferraris when you do not need to alter your location for most of your social or business needs?) Some of us for instance may decide that public transportation, although longer in trip duration and often lacking in comfort is mitigated by the fact that your mobile, work, entertainment and social needs must be somewhat curtailed during your drive should you choose to do so.

    It would not require more than a few of us to make these choices for it to rock the economy in ways that standard financial theory is unable to manage, based as it is on production and finance, causing the economy to contract and perhaps collapse.

    Strange as it may seem, it may be that this social change more than technological invention or energy conservation that delay’s the impact of the hydrocarbon threat.

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

    a. Strange Apocalypses:

    RUNAWAY BLACK HOLE

    Black holes are the most powerful gravitational objects in the universe, capable of tearing Earth into its constituent atoms. Even within a billion miles, a black hole could knock Earth out of the solar system, leaving our planet wandering through deep space without a source of energy.

    Danger sign: Increased asteroid activity; the seasons get really extreme.

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

    1. Limit the finance industry’s ability to funnel money from the masses to the ultra rich, through hedge funds which dominate all of the financial markets.
    “What are hedge funds? They are funds that have a 1-5 million deposit minimum, cater to the mega-rich, and can invest in anything without regulatory restrictions, use leverage to pump up their exposure by 15x, and pretty much eat up a vast majority of the industry’s profits.”
    Statement by a Wall Street Broker.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/’#ixzz1gUodSGWq

    2. End the growing disparity in income gains between the very rich and everyone else.

    3. Begin the reversal of the wealth disparities between and very wealthy and everyone else in American Society.


    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/’#ixzz1gJc79fcs

    c. Excerpts from Bill Moyer’s speech to Citizens United:

    “Jefferson and Madison didn’t live to see reactionary justices fulfill their worst fears. In 1886 a conservative court conferred the divine gift of life on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Never mind that the Fourteenth Amendment declaring that no person should be deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process of law” was enacted to protect the rights of freed slaves. The Court decided to give the same rights of “personhood” to corporations that possessed neither a body to be kicked nor a soul to be damned. For over half a century the Court acted to protect the privileged. It gutted the Sherman Antitrust Act by finding a loophole for a sugar trust. It killed a New York State law limiting working hours. Likewise a ban against child labor. It wiped out a law that set minimum wages for women. And so on: one decision after another aimed at laws promoting the general welfare. The Roberts Court has picked up the mantle: Moneyed interests first, the public interest second, if at all.

    The ink was hardly dry on the Citizens United decision when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce organized a covertly funded front and rained drones packed with cash into the 2010 campaigns. According to the Sunlight Foundation, corporate front groups spent $126 million in the fall of 2010 while hiding the identities of the donors. Another corporate cover group — the American Action Network – spent over $26 million of undisclosed corporate money in just six Senate races and 26 House elections. And Karl Rove’s groups – American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS – seized on Citizens United to raise and spend at least $38 million that NBC News said came from “a small circle of extremely wealthy Wall Street hedge fund and private equity moguls” — all determined to water down financial reforms designed to prevent another collapse of the financial system. Jim Hightower has said it well: Today’s proponents of corporate plutocracy “have simply elevated money itself above votes, establishing cold, hard cash as the real coin of political power.”

    d. The chart that explains a lot:

    I think that with the shrinkage of “safe” assets, those sitting on cash as a result of the bailouts and those pulling it out of the previously safe havens and looking for another refuge to park the funds will begin to overwhelm the remaining safe havens. All this money floating around has little demand for production of goods and services into which to put it to work. Unless someone starts putting money into less safe assets like those investments that increase production and jobs (on the come so to speak)), these safe havens may not be as safe in the long run as they appear today. It seems to confirm that the “Confidence Fairies” and “Bond Vigilantes” are wrong again. Until there is good old governmental pump priming and a moderate loosening of inflation goals, much more wealth will have to be wiped out or there is a belief that the safe havens are not a safe as for example productive assets, before things begin looking better, if ever they do.

    It all can be thought of a borrowing from labor and from production in order to maintain the rental value of money, until labor and production recover. It cannot work. Labor, production and consumption create the rental value of profits and natural asset rents.

    e. Profile in Presidential courage:

    f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

    My sincerest apologies for posting this, but I could not resist:

    TODAY’S QUOTE:

    TODAY’S CHART:

    This chart is highly misleading since it fails to show the fall in the growth of government during those prior administrations committed to slowing its growth and therefore I suspected it was prepared by a liberal front group. Unfortunately, I checked on the growth figures for the prior administrations and they all showed an ongoing increase in the number of governmental employees.

    TODAY’S CARTOON:

    Actually Jesus is a liberal Democrat and not a socialist. He fed the multitude by creating the food out of nothing. If he were a Socialist he would have used the money he took from the money changers in the temple to pay for the food. If he were a Republican he would have created the food out of nothing, given it to the money changers, and told the multitude that they should ask the money changers for jobs instead of sitting there on the grass looking for handouts.

    TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

    Because there is more to be frightened by today.

    Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 12, 2011

    POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

    1. Political leaders then and now:

    Then:

    “It’s time America realized that there is no gay exemption in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence.”
    ~Barry Goldwater

    Now:

    “The problem is that sexual activity with people who you are in close quarters with who happen to be of the same sex is different than being open about your sexuality … They’re in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people.”
    Rick Santorum

    2. Democrat behaves badly:

    In the past few days John Corzine ex-Democratic Senator and former Democratic Governor of New Jersey in testimony before an US Senate committee investigating his conduct as CEO of a company involved in perhaps the largest bankruptcy in the US since ENRON, claimed he ” did not know” what was happening in the company.

    For those accusing me of one-sidedness, I pledge that should Corzine eventually run for the presidency of the US, I shall ridicule him with the same vigor as I did the candidate that said he did not need to know anything about foreign policy to be president because he will have people to do that sort of thing, and the candidate who, at the time he announced his candidacy, when questioned about immoral and corrupt personal and professional life, promised that he “learned his lesson” and would not do it again.

    No, not good enough? What you really want is for me to criticize President Obama and Nancy Pelosi directly? Ok here goes—-Both of them have demonstrated the same fortitude and courage in opposing the thugs in the leadership of the opposing party as Neville Chamberlin did with the thugs at Munich.*

    Happy now?

    * For those of you who do not know who Chamberlin is and what happened in Munich, I suggest reading the Wikipedia account at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement.

    By the way, this item confirms the validity of Godwin’s Law

    3. Another Republican decides something is very wrong with his Party’s leadership:

    “Basically we’re still stuck in the situation we were three years ago and we haven’t made any progress at all except that our problems are much worse because of political reasons, because we now have a crazy party in charge of one of the Houses of our Congress and they won’t allow anything to happen because it’s in their vested interest to make things worse,” Bartlett explained in his typically exasperated way. “Plus they have a theory that is completely nuts…. I’m very depressed. […] The most we can hope for is that a complete crazy person like Newt Gingrich gets the Republican nomination, the Republicans lose so badly that they lose control of the House and don’t get control of the Senate and then maybe in a year we can finally talk about doing something rational. […]”
    Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett

    Is it unfair and one-sided to quote a Republican leader who criticizes his party in language no Democrat elected official could or would dare use? Do I also have to find a Democrat critical of his own Party to be fair? Or a Republican who blindly loves his Party? Would the possibility that the Democrat I chose could be more radical than the main-stream Democratic Party be considered fair? Is fairness really what is wanted here? Remember, the Faux News, network logo “Fair and Balanced” is not just a marketing slogan asserting that their news reporting meets that standard, but also implies the claim that all other news networks are both unfair and unbalanced. That means for example, if they (Faux) for some reason have an objection to the assertion that the world is round, they could consider it to be fair and balanced for them to maintain that in fact the world is flat.

    TODAY’S FACTOID:

    1. Education matters:

    Even in the lowest paying industry, “Hospitality and Tourism,” the average difference in average yearly earnings between someone with only a high school diploma and someone with an advanced degree is almost double and over a 30 year career can total about $800,000 or more.

    And, if there is a question about finding employment during hard times, employment opportunities increase significantly with education.

    Even if a person is underemployed relative to his or her educational attainments, studies have shown that he or she will still earn more on average than those with less education.

    TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND AND AMERICA:

    1. American are not as wealthy as they think:

    Figures from Credit Suisse’s World Wealth Report show that the typical American is a lot poorer than generally believed. In the US the mean average wealth is only $53,000. Compared to the typical Japanese or European, the typical American is only half as rich. Half the people in the US have less than $53,000 net worth. You can imagine what the bottom 20% have.

    The reason for this is that although their raw average individual wealth is higher (but less than Britain’s) it is skewed by the very very wealthy. The mean average wealth, the wealth of the average American is much much lower (it drops from about $250,000 to around $50,00).

    What this means is that for the average American, they are quite poor compared to other developed nations and the country is no longer the land of opportunity.

    This is a devastating and grim insight. It explains why so much of America seems, well, so poor. Because it is poor. People don’t have any money. They dress poorly. Eat poorly. Live poorly.

    Compared to Britain and Europe, much of the difference can be explained by the housing bubble, and subsequent housing crash in America. If we remember correctly, the US housing stock was valued at about $20 trillion in ’07. It lost 33% of its value, putting a quarter of mortgaged houses underwater and wiping out about $7 trillion of “wealth.”

    It should also be noted that the US Federal Government, through the Federal Reserve and TARP paid out over twice the amount homeowners lost in wealth to the banking industry ($15 Trillion) to save the banks from collapse. Is anyone asking why we did not give the Homeowners $7 trillion instead to buy down their mortgages and bail out both for one half the cost?

    2. Thailand, Cracked News from “Not the Nation”(the Thai version of “The Onion”):

    Prosecutor Offers ‘Uncle SMS’ Reduced Sentence In Exchange For Acting More Evil

    3 Dec 2011 BANGKOK – Following the high-profile conviction of Ampon Tangnoppakul for allegedly sending lèse-majesté texts last year, government prosecutors have offered the 61-year old grandfather a new deal. Under the proposed agreement, Ampon’s sentence will be reduced from 20 to only 5 years if he agrees to act more evil between now and his incarceration.

    “We are experiencing a lot of negative press coverage for this case,” explained a spokesperson for the DSI. “By acting like such a sympathetic character, Mr Ampon is doing irreparable harm to the entire system. We would like to therefore ask his co-operation in being less sympathetic, for which we are willing to reduce his sentence.”

    POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

    Yesterday was the last day of the week-long celebration of Kings birthday and the little masseuse and I went to the palace grounds for the evening. Unlike his birthday itself when there were almost a million people in attendance and the evening was occupied mostly with pomp and speeches, there were fewer people yesterday and the emphasis was on entertainment. The absence of the overwhelming masses allowed us to visit the several pavilions at the site that mostly contained photographs about the king’s reign and Thai history.

    The entertainment began with a big band orchestra made up of either high school or college students and a number of singers, two of whom appeared  professionals and the rest students.

    While most of the singers sang pop tunes in Thai, a young man, who clearly appeared terrorized to be performing, sang a pretty good blues tune. Its minor cords seemed to require a lot of effort from him. He later sang a fine rendition of “My Way” in english but he blew the last note and seemed to die right there on the stage. I felt like crying for him. He did not come our for the finale.

    A group of musicians followed playing traditional Thai instruments mostly hooked up to amplifiers and included two heroic drummers who banged on their drums with what seemed like every part of their body except their penis, and I am not so sure about that. They were followed by a team of traditional Thai dancers equally divided between young women in traditional costumes and tall thin young men dressed in attire that looked like it came out of the late middle ages in Italy. Although they appeared to be tall thin young men, in Thailand you can never tell. This was followed with a dance that looked like a Thai boxing match between monkeys (they had furry tails) and young men. There was a lot of jumping about and pushing each other. Finally, just before we left, we watched a dance with the long sticks (I am sure many of you have seen a version of it) where some of the dancers rhythmically strike two long sticks together and the other dancers jump in and out of without getting their ankles broken.

    MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

    Old man memories; Donald Lundy:

    Sometime between about second grade and junior high school, I lived in a village in New York, called Tuckahoe. The village  nestled in a wide spot in the valley carved by the Bronx River. In the village resided a collection of poor people, mostly italians and blacks along with a few middle class jews. We lived there because the high income towns that surrounded us restricted individuals of those three ethnic groups from living there. A number of Tuckahoe residents however worked in those other towns as gardeners, domestics and the like. Others worked in the industrial plants in nearby Yonkers while the remainder mostly occupied themselves with the shops and business that serviced the residents of the village.

    Like most low-income areas of that time, the village had an industrial past. The vast marble quarries that attracted the italian immigrants had by the late forties and early fifties played out leaving the village a relatively impoverished residential enclave surrounded by great wealth.

    Immediately after school we kids ,would run and play in the streets until dinner time and then again after dinner until bedtime. My parents insisted I return home before dark and go to bed shortly thereafter where I jealously listened to the other children, playing in the streets near my home well into the night.

    Several of the village boys in my age group,including me, as boys tend to do, began to spend most of our play time together and began to envision ourselves as a gang much like that in the “Our Gang” comedies that were popular short features shown with the double features that on Saturday mornings we watched in the local movie house referred to as The Itch.

    As we grew older, we modeled our gang on Leo Gorcey and the Dead End Kids. In fact the leader of our group, Peter Cirrincione, referred to as “sir rinse” even adopted Gorcey’s walk. I guess I would have been the good-looking skinny sullen guy in the movies who was always somewhat alienated from the group. Unlike some of the other characters like Huntz Hall, the actor who played my part often changed during the decade or so that their movies were popular.

    Like that character, I was always a bit moody, aloof and estranged. I could never simply follow whatever “sir rinse” wanted to do and so would go off on my own a lot. At that time I was quite small for my age, quick to take offense and so I fought a lot. Also because I preferred to spend my time reading, I appeared arrogant often correcting things the others would say. In other words, I was a bit of an asshole. (To be continued.)

    JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

    RED STAR

    Chapter: Something about the fan and feces (cont.)

    She grimaced and pulled the purse closer to her as though she feared that Vince would pick it up and play with it.

    “Damn it Isabella, did you expect me to stand idly by and do nothing?” he said.

    No,” she responded curtly, “but I expected you would think about the others you may have put in danger'”

    That silenced him. He really hadn’t thought of anyone else. Now he wondered if Ike or Fat Al were at risk; or anyone else. Still he was not convinced that this was much more than government security paranoia.

    Nevertheless, he blurted out, “I apologize, I did not think about that. It was inconceivable to me that my office would be bugged.”

    “What else didn’t you think of,” she said sarcastically?

    “I did not think I would find myself as attracted to you as I am,” he let slip and immediately regretted it.

    Her eyes widened and she gazed at him until the door to the kitchen opened disgorging a waiter pushing a small food cart and her eyes slid over to study him.

    PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

    a. Strange Apocalypses:

    GEOMAGNETIC REVERSAL

    The Earth’s magnetic field provides a shield against harmful radiation from our sun that could rip through DNA and overload the world’s electrical systems. Every so often, Earth’s north and south poles switch positions and, during the transition, the magnetic field will weaken or disappear for many years. The last known transition happened almost 780,000 years ago and it is likely to happen again.

    Danger sign: Electronics stop working.

    b. Profiles in Presidential courage:
    “A few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance fell to around 40%. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the middle class.

    It’s heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That’s inexcusable. It’s wrong. It flies in the face of everything we stand for…”
    Barack Obama in Ossawatomie, Kansas.

    Recently someone told me that Obama doesn’t really believe this but is just saying it to get votes and that when he proposes laws and programs to address poverty, unemployment and inequality he is also doing it to be re-elected. Hmmm, I think I can live with that kind of hypocrisy, don’t you?

    c. Excerpts from Bill Moyer’s speech to Citizens United:

    “But if you want to see the story pulled together in one compelling narrative, read this — perhaps the best book on politics of the last two years: Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Two accomplished political scientists wrote it: Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson – the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of political science, who wanted to know how America had turned into a society starkly divided into winners and losers.

    Mystified by what happened to the notion of “shared prosperity” that marked the years after World War II; puzzled that over the last generation more and more wealth has gone to the rich and superrich, while middle-class and working people are left barely hanging on; vexed that hedge-fund managers pulling down billions can pay a lower tax rate than their pedicurists, manicurists, cleaning ladies and chauffeurs; curious as to why politicians keep slashing taxes on the very rich even as they grow richer, and how corporations keep being handed huge tax breaks and subsidies even as they fire hundreds of thousands of workers; troubled that the heart of the American Dream – upward mobility — seems to have stopped beating; astounded that the United States now leads in the competition for the gold medal for inequality; and dumbfounded that all this could happen in a democracy whose politicians are supposed to serve the greatest good for the greatest number, and must regularly face the judgment of citizens at the polls if they haven’t done so;

    Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson wanted to find out “how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class.” They wanted to know: “Who dunnit?”

    They found the culprit: “It’s the politics, stupid!” Tracing the clues back to that, “unseen revolution” of the 1970s — the revolt triggered by Lewis Powell, fired up by William Simon, and fueled by rich corporations and wealthy individuals — they found that, ‘Step by step and debate by debate America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many.”

    There you have it: they bought off the gatekeepers, got inside, and gamed the system. And when the fix was in, they let loose the animal spirits, turning our economy into a feast for predators. And they won — as the rich and powerful got richer and more powerful — they not only bought the government, they “saddled Americans with greater debt, tore new holes in the safety net, and imposed broad financial risks on workers, investors, and taxpayers.” Until – write Hacker and Pierson – “The United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by.”

    d. How To Talk Like A Republican (the new American Lexicon):

    I assume we all remember how effectively, “the right to choose” was used during the debate on Obamacare. I also assume those of us who used that phrase thought we used it because it was factually accurate and not cynical political manipulation. But then, I guess both sides resorted to “cynical political manipulation.” They did didn’t they, or does someone cynically want us to believe that?

    e. The difference between Americans and Europeans :

    Americans are more likely to believe in unilateral military intervention.

    f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
    “This and that…” is written for my own enjoyment. I send it on hoping that those of you who actually read it enjoy it also. If not you are free to erase or avoid reading those sections that you find objectionable.

    Not too long ago, one of you objected that a graphic sex scene in my mystery novel since might be read by the teenagers who are on my mailing list and requested that if I could not refrain from that in the future, I at least warn her so she can do whatever she thinks appropriate on her end. I am ok with that and will try to honor the request. (By the way, in the next few chapters of the so called Mystery Novel, there will be a considerable amount of gratuitous violence, obscene language and a little kinky sex. You may want to be prepared.)

    More recently, in response to my increased coverage of Republicans during their debates and the news coming out of the Occupy protest, I find myself accused of a one sided hatred of Republicans. I am embarrassed that I actually responded to that. I am even more ashamed that I unknowingly had been subjected to what I call “Faux News Think,” and fell into the trap.

    “Faux News Think,” as I should have realized, is a method of political discourse that anyone who had taken Rhetoric 101 would recognize. It is a gussied up version of school yard debate techniques, that demands that one side explain themselves while the other never has to do so. The genius of it is that Faux News and those that developed it, whether knowingly or unknowingly, managed to inculcate it into enough of the population that some believe they thought it up themselves and it is reasonable and natural.

    I am thinking of writing an article about it. In my next Post I will explain what it is in some detail.

    TODAY’S CHART:


    TODAY’S CARTOON:

    Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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