Posts Tagged With: Rome

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. 13 Shadow 0004 (July 2, 2015)

 

Laudato Si’

“Men and women who seek to become gods must first lose their humanity.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 206). Random House Publishing Group.
July 15 is National be a Dork Day. Remember to mark your calendar.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SABINA:
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Casperia in Sabina

Back in Sabina, we spent a few days exploring Casperia, the town Jason grew up in, eating at some of the fine local restaurants and looking for a place to buy as a family retreat. Since the collapse of the economy several years ago, the prices of homes in the area have fallen substantially.
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A piazza in Casperia
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Jason by the wall
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Pookie enjoys an afternoon snack of prosciutto, Mozzarella da Buffala, a local crumbly cheese made from sheep’s milk, a delicious local salami and, of course, a glass of wine from the nearby vineyards.

One day we visited Roccantica, another hill town nearby where about 120 years ago my grandmother was born along with her 12 siblings in a small three-room home. Those 13 siblings grew up and most of them left the town, some to the US, some to Australia and some to other towns in Italy. Now only Rosina, the widow of the grandson of one of those 13, still lives in that home, alone. During the day, she sits on a plastic chair in the shade by the door, talking to neighbors across the alley a few steps away, hoping for visits from her children on the weekends and waiting to die.
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Jason, although in America often bitter and angry about the hand fate has dealt him, here in Italy his true home is almost always sensitive, compassionate and insightful.* In our short visit he brought joy and happiness to Rosina.

*Of course, not necessarily in the father-son relationship where we naturally must play endless games of Orestes at the Seashore.

B. A FEW DAYS IN ROME:
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A View of Rome

I returned to Rome intending to get only two things done in the week remaining before departing for Thailand. One was to complete some banking transactions at which I was singularly unsuccessful.

One of my minor amusements while in Rome was to plot automobile directions on my computer and watch the contortions which the application goes through to get from one point to another. In the case of the bank, it was located on the corner of the block not more that twenty-five yards away from my pensione. The map showed an image looking like a deranged snake extending about two kilometers before ending at that same corner.

My second goal was to visit Borromini’s mature masterwork, St Ivo’s in Sapienza which was supposedly open to the public on Sunday mornings and which I had longed to visit for forty-five years now. It was open and I was enthralled.
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The first thing one needs to notice in Borromini’s church architecture is the absolute absence of an anthropomorphic God. Nowhere does one find his rival Bernini and other architect’s visions of God in heaven, a sky full of rumbling noise, clouds, putties and flashing lights.
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True at times he was forced by his patrons to include symbols of their families in his designs, but rarely a hint of God. It seems the Popes and Cardinals that hired him were far more interested in honoring their families then in glorifying God.
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Borromini begins his designs with a simple mathematical or geometrical figure and allows it to become more complex as it meets with the restrictions of the site, like some Mandelbrot set cascading from the apex of the dome to the floor. To Borromini, like Steven Hawking, God exists in a mathematical equation — God as the Unified Field Theory.

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I was so thrilled with my morning, I celebrated by sitting at one of those execrable cafe’s the line Piazza Navona and drinking the worst cup of coffee I had in Italy.
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I sat at the same cafe 45 years ago where my old acting classmate Jon Voight sat nearby during the filming of a few scenes from Catch 22. He did not recognize me and I did not acknowledge him.
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An interesting take on the human statue — one floating in air.

Outside of the above, I mostly I spent my time wandering around, primarily in the Villa Borghese. I wonder why I enjoy it there so much?

Of course, I tried again to get into the Borghese Museum but it was sold out until long after I depart. So, the placid Canovas, the hyperactive Berninis, the dead and bilious eyes of the Caravaggios and the etherial Rafaelos will just have to wait for another day and I will have to content myself with a photograph of the palazzo’s exterior for this trip.
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One evening I sat listening to a trumpet player playing the blues. The clear high notes shimmering through the quaking leaves and shadows of the Roman evening seemed as appropriate as if they came out of a smokey bar in Harlem.
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Another day, I sat and listened to the accodianist play “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach, better known to all as the music the Phantom of the Opera plays when he is sitting alone at the organ. (also recorded by SKY, Deep Purple, Blondie and McFly)
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Earlier, a drone hovered above my head. It was a memorable event — my first drone. One never forgets his or her first time.
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Although central Rome is notorious for bad Italian food, I found a place just off the Via Veneto, on Via Sardegna that I recommend. Andrea’s Restaurant is a little pricey, but when you can make a simple tommelli pasta with butter and cheese and a sprinkling of pepper taste like a king’s dish, you have something good going for you. I also had a side plate of spinach that was remarkably free of the often bitter spinach taste. Since it is fig season, I finished the meal with almost perfect fresh figs.

On my last night in Italy, I returned to Andrea’s. I had a superb Gnocchi. The place must be somewhat well known. There was a Japanese couple in the restaurant with me. They had a Japanese woman with them whose job it was to stand by the table and interact with the wait staff. When she had nothing to do, she waited in the kitchen for the couple to finish dinner and then left with them.

I enjoy wandering aimlessly around cities like Rome where people spend so much of their time outside on the streets that bits and pieces of their triumphs and tragedies drop like gold coins on to the sidewalks. I walked by a hotel a few steps off the Via Veneto where a little girl was crying desolately, having lost something of great value to her on the bus to or from somewhere. Her parents, the doorman and the bus driver fluttered about trying to comfort her. But, of course, to children the pain of such loses, although at times brief, cannot be consoled.

One day there was a Ferrari rally through the streets of Rome. It was colorful and loud.
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At other times I would visit my old haunts.
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Pookie happily enjoying an eight euro cup of coffee at Cafe Greco.

Alas, moments after taking this selfie, the background music in the cafe began to play the dying CoCo San’s aria from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and I began to cry as I always do when I hear it — much to the consternation of the stone-faced waitress as she brought me my bill.

I noticed one morning as I went down to breakfast in my pensione dedicated to servicing impoverished priests and pilgrims, that I was dressed all in black — black shirt, black pants, and even those clunky rubber soled black shoes that priests like to wear so that they can sneak up on you. I wondered if my subconscious was trying to tell me something truly frightening.

The answer to my question above as to why I enjoy the Borghese Gardens so much is because it is a park with benches where old folks like me can sit for free in the shade, watch the people go by and listen to the music of the street musicians, until the biting and stinging insects drive us away.

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Rome as it is now and alas, as it will be.

C. STRANGE DREAMS:

I continue to have strange dreams. In one, I am an undercover police officer who works at night in a city like New York battling those who prey on the weak and the disabled. I dress like I am lame, hobbling along on two canes. I often go into abandoned buildings that terrorize me. I work every night seven days a week and live alone in a small room. When I pass people on the streets, no one says hello or even looks at me.

In another, I am a priest in a hospital charged with transferring deformed infants on life support to other hospitals better able to care for them or more likely, dispose of them. I am silently in love with an ebullient red-haired hospital administrator who is three months pregnant and deeply adores her husband.

D. BOOK REPORT:

Good News! Denise Mina is about to release two new mystery novels for publication. Mina is one of the few mystery writers whose heroines appear to be real women — women detectives that have a right to be as screwed-up as their male counterparts.

The first and to me the best, The GarnetHill Trilogy, features a loudmouth, alcoholic slut on the dole — Imagine Nancy Drew as a dipso welfare queen in Glasgow.

The second and my personal favorite features a young overweight newspaper reporter forced to cover women things. She wears clothing too tight and skirts too short, is the constant butt of male newsroom jokes and falls easily into bed with whichever no-good asks her.

The third, Alex Morrow, is a police detective passed over for promotion because of her sex and reviled in the station house for her coldness, competence and sharp tongue. Morrow deals bitterly and cynically with the demise of her youthful dreams and enthusiasm about her career. Somehow I get the impression this is Mina’s favorite character.

Each of these women through grit and insight solve mysteries the men who bedevil them are unable to even remotely decipher.

Pookie says try them, you’ll like them.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“ By now it is clear to most thinking people that every decision we make on major public problems simply makes matters worse.”

“We live in a cancer society in which growth has become the enemy of life. In economics this means that our economy cannot sell the consumer goods pouring out of existing factories unless we are simultaneously investing more capital and resources in new factories to make more goods or are otherwise providing more purchasing power to the market by inflationary spending on nonmarketable products such as national defense. This same characteristic feature of our society, that we cannot use what we already have for the satisfaction of our needs unless we devote increasing increments of time and resources to different future desires, now pervades all aspects of our society. Everywhere our activities now have built-in feedback loops which require investment in future technical innovations creating new activities or there will be sudden collapse of our existing activities.”

“Reductionist attitudes and methods now dominate every corner of our lives, defended by an unconscious alliance of special interests, corruption, and irrationality. These would be jeopardized by the holistic methods Ferkiss advocates. We holists are a small minority with little influence. Ferkiss believes that “science” supports his position. Holistic science, such as he and I practice, does support him, but 90% of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are reductionist technicians and would repudiate our version of what “science” is. He ls a holistic political scientist: I am a holistic historian. Each of us is a lonely voice in his own discipline, and our view would be rejected by the majority of our professional associates. Even publication is restricted for holistic views wherever manuscripts are subject to approval by “expert” referees or editorial boards of specialists.”
Carroll Quigley review of Ferkiss “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis,” 1974

I suggest reading the second paragraph twice. It describes the crisis of our times. The crisis that Laudato Si seeks to address. Sadly, the process of bringing forth a sustainable world will probably be accompanied by economic depression and suffering until it is achieved. The question is not how do we bring about a sustainable world. We already know that. But, how do we take care of people until that revolution succeeds? Because, if we fail at that, we fail with it.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservative, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.”

“We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun and we wait for popular support that never comes.”

C. Emotions people feel but cannot explain.

OPLA. The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It should be obvious by now that the right-wing fixation on repealing or defunding Obamacare is symbolic rather than substantive. It’s a political dispute that appears to be about the present and about matters of policy, but is really about the past. Most opponents of the president’s healthcare bill neither know nor care whether it contains elements of “socialism” (which it doesn’t). What’s at stake is the ability to roll back reality, as with a spell learned at Tea-Party Hogwarts. If this aspect of a hated new American reality can be undone, then so, at least in the world of right-wing magical thinking, can everything else”
Andrew O’Hehir, Solon.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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This photograph is mostly for Bill Yeates and others with a passing interest in the avian world. It is a poster that sits on the plaza that fronts Italy’s Parliament Building. It supposedly represents the birds that frequent the plaza — scavengers all — much like most legislators. In fact from my time in the legislature in California I can attach specific legislators to each species. (Pigeon – Montoya, Seagull – Denny Carpenter, Hawk – Bob Moretti and Willie Brown and those birds that flit around and do nothing, most of the rest.) Let me know how you would categorize the legislators you know.

 

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 4 Pookie 0003 (November 19, 2014)

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels. Only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

Trenz Pruca

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

While I nursed the remnants of my bronchitis, Nikki took over entertaining HRM. He left on Tuesday morning. Happily I am feeling better since my cough has, for the most part, disappeared.

The last days of autumn have come to the Golden Foothills. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn from deep red to brown. A carpet of fallen leaves covers everything not yet cleared by leaf blowers.

While on my daily walk, I observed the large Blue Heron that usually stays on the far side of the Duck Pond standing on the near side beside the path on which I was walking. As I got close it unlimbered its huge wings, took flight and slowly flapped back across the pond to its usual post. It was quite beautiful.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ITALY

1. A brief stay in Rome

I returned to Rome for two days before continuing on the Milan where I would catch the plane back to the US. I checked back in to the pensione on Via San Basilio, the place where they played Gregorian Chant at breakfast.
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Via San Basilio just off the Via Veneto

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My spartan room

During my time here with my sister a week ago, she indicated her wish to visit St Maria Maggiore Cathedral one of the four major Basilicas of Rome. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to it during our short stay, so I decided to visit it and take some photographs for her.

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The façade

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The interior

Despite its history and artistic significance, it is not my favorite of the basilicas. I prefer the Lateran Basilica for its dark and gloomy appearance and equally dark and gloomy history.
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The Lateran

The following day I took the train to Milan.
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The old walls by the train station.

2. Milano for a day

After a three-hour train ride I arrived in Milan and took a bus to Busto where Nikki lives. The next day we had lunch in Milan with Marco Gigi’s son at Gambero Rosso (The Red Shrimp) where we enjoyed a splendid risotto. After that, we went to see the restored “Last Supper,” that Nikki had never seen.

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Pookie in Milan

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The “Red Shrimp” restaurant (Gambero Rosso)
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Nikki, Marco and I at lunch

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The Church next to the refectory containing Last Supper. (Dome designed by Bramante)

The next morning after breakfast we flew off to the US.

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Our breakfast place in Busto

Traveling by plane with Nikki has its benefits. We get assistance through customs and passport control, help in making connections and better seats. The most unpleasant part of the trip was the huge delays on the Bay Bridge in SF at midnight.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that did.

England

In 1959 Britain’s Trojan Cars Ltd under license from Germany’s Heinkel Flugzuegwerke began selling the Heinkel’s bubble car as the Trojan 200. The car had three wheels and weighed a little over 1000 pounds. It had a one-cylinder four-stroke air-cooled engine that produced a grand total of 9 horse power that could push the vehicle to a top speed of a little more than 50 miles per hour over level ground. Portions of the automobile were constructed from surplus WWII airplane parts.

In 1968 I was living in London with my two and a half-year old son Jason and decided it was time to visit my relatives in Sicily. No one from my side of the family had visited there since 1928 when three of the four siblings of my maternal grandparents emigrated to America. So, one rainy and foggy London morning I, with my son and my luggage, walked to a nearby used car dealer and bought a Trojan 200. I bought it not because I thought about whether it was suitable for the trip, but because I liked the way it looked and it was cheap.
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The Trojan 200

I immediately piled my son, the one suitcase that held my worldly goods and a huge supply of disposable diapers into the vehicle and took off in what I had hoped would prove be the general direction of Sicily.

The first problem we faced was that the British drive on the right side of the road and I exited the used car lot directly into a busy one-way street in the opposite direction of traffic. There was not enough time to panic (as I am sure I would have preferred) so, I maneuvered my way through screeching tires and blaring horns until I reached a place where I could move on to the proper lane.

The second was escaping from the maze that is London in the general direction of Dover where I was reasonably confident I could find a ferry that would transport us to the continent. By keeping the River Thames on the right side of me, I was able to make my way to the edge of the city where I located signs pointing the way to the coast.

We soon found ourselves driving along a pleasant rural road heading toward our goal when suddenly the car stopped cold. I tried to suppress my worry by attending first to changing my son’s diaper and carefully depositing the used one behind a nearby bush. (In 1968 I had not yet become environmentally conscious or for that matter socially responsible.) We then went for a short walk to observe the visual pleasures of the English countryside. Upon our return, I placed my son back in the car, went to the rear of the vehicle and opened the cover to the engine. There I saw staring back at me a grimy little thing that seemed too small to propel a toy wagon much less an automobile.

My working thesis was that by staring at it long enough I would either be able to figure out what was wrong or frighten it sufficiently to scare it into operating again. After a few long minutes, it was clear the first option was not going to work, so I closed the cover, returned to the cab and turned the key to start the engine. I do not recall whether or not I was surprised but the engine started right up and we soon found ourselves back on the road to our destination.

Throughout the rest of the trip this mysterious stoppage would occur now and then. Rather than worrying, it gave my son and I the opportunity to commune together on beauties of whatever countryside we were passing through at the time.

Not too long after, we arrived at Dover or Folkestone or wherever the ferries docked. I originally wanted to take one of the hovercraft that had been newly introduced but the fare was too expensive. So, we parked in the cavernous hold of one of the regular ferries and immediately went up to the top floor and sat ourselves in front by the big glass window.

The sun had just parted the clouds leaving us in glorious sunshine. We chattered happily to each other and bounced up and down on our seats as the boat sped across the silver water towards the dark line of the continent on the horizon before us. (To be continued)

PEPE’S POTPURRI:

Arrogance and Futility in Action:

Recently I sent a series of four letters to the editor that were published in The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s premier English language newspaper. They pro-ported to advise the government on how they should draft their new Constitution. The following was the first:

“To the editor of the Bangkok Post:

Regarding the current struggle in Thailand to draft a new constitution, and having drafted and administered many laws, rules and regulations myself, I respectfully suggest the drafters consider the following policies formulated several years ago by professor Carroll Quigley of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Bill Clinton in his acceptance of the Presidential nomination said this of Professor Quigley:

‘As a teenager, I heard John Kennedy’s summons to citizenship. And then, as a student at Georgetown I heard that call clarified by a professor named Carroll Quigley, who said to us that America was the greatest nation in history because our people had always believed in two things: that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so.’

Among Professor Quigley’s fundamental requirements for any constitutional democracy are the preservation of a right to dissent and the protection of minority rights. Dissent I will take up in a later letter but as for minority rights Quigley states:

‘I define democracy as majority rule and minority rights. Of these the second is more important than the first. There are many despotisms which have majority rule. Hitler held plebiscites in which he obtained over 92 percent of the vote, and most of the people who were qualified to vote did vote. I think that in China today a majority of the people support the government, but China is certainly not a democracy.

The essential half of this definition then, is the second half, minority rights. What that means is that a minority has those rights which enable it to work within the system and to build itself up to be a majority and replace the governing majority. Moderate deviations from majority rule do not usually undermine democracy. In fact, absolute democracy does not really exist at the nation-state level. For example, a modest poll tax as a qualification for voting would be an infringement on the principle of majority rule but restrictions on the suffrage would have to go pretty far before they really abrogated democracy. On the other hand relatively slight restrictions on minority rights — the freedoms of speech, assembly, and other rights — would rapidly erode democracy.’

Thus any constitution whatever democratic variations it may take toward franchise, must provide a strong list of those rights reserved to the individual, such as freedom of expression, and assembly as well as security of their person and in their home. These and all similar individual rights should be clearly spelled out in the document.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I used to tell my students that the important thing in any election is the nomination. And when you come to the election itself, it doesn’t matter who votes, what’s important is who didn’t vote. Elections in the United States are increasingly decided by people who didn’t vote because they’re turned off for various reasons.”
Carroll Quigley

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 4 Pookie 0003 (November 16, 2014)

“A reminder to myself when I feel discouraged: ‘Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.’”
Plutarch

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SICILY:

1. Reunion with a beloved friend:

Sometimes in life if one is lucky, he or she will meet someone with whom they share a special bond of friendship — one that neither ebbs nor breaks no matter how long the friends are separated or how brief their time together. That was the relationship I had with Luigi (Gigi) Gallo.

In the late summer of 1968, following a two thousand mile trip with my two-year old son Jason from London in a nine horsepower three-wheeled automobile (Trojan), I arrived at my relative’s home in Canicatti, the first relation to return from America since three of the four children of my grandparents emigrated to America in 1928.

Needing a place to park the car for the duration of my stay, my uncle contacted Gigi who agreed to allow me to store the car in his family’s garage and it has remained more or less in Gigi’s possession ever since. (The story of the car, the trip and its amazing survival is one that I will save for another time.)

Anyway, as a result of that chance meeting, Gigi and I became inseparable friends during my stay in Sicily, my life in Rome and whenever I returned to Canicatti — until 1973 when my life changed. Then I met John Olmsted and became involved in the California coastal program. Shortly thereafter I lost contact with everyone in Sicily. Despite my sincere intention to return, for whatever reasons, I did not do so for forty years. I never forgot Gigi and longed to see him again.
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Gigi and I in 1968

On this trip I, with assistance of Antonio, Guglielmo and Giovanni. was able to locate him. He was living in Caltanissetta, a city not far from Canicatti. So, I went to visit him. When I saw him it was as though we had never been apart. As we hugged each other, both of us cried. It could have been one of the happiest times of my life.

Unfortunately, Gigi developed Parkinson’s disease some years ago and shows all the signs of the malady. He is pretty much restricted to his home now. He had married. His wife was quite proud of their thirty-five year marriage. He has a son Marco living in Milan, a practicing sports nutritionist. During his life, before his disease struck him, Gigi was a well-known road race car driver and had, if I understood correctly, won the Sicilian championships four years in a row and had raced throughout Italy and Europe wherever they held mountain road races called Colina de Piste. His son was also a champion driver.

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Gigi today with some of his many racing trophies

Later he took me into his garage where he kept some of his race cars including a Maserati and some others, as well as the three wheel Trojan and an antique car, a 1932 Balilla I think it was called.
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The Trojan

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Gigi and Wife in the Balilla

Leaving him that evening to return to Rome the next day was the saddest part of my trip.

2. Departure and Return to Rome:

The next day we left for Rome. Although the sky was full of rainbows I was depressed. It had been a special trip for me. I missed my kind relatives, Gigi and of course the food.
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From rainbows to a final selfie

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My last views of Sicily

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Following a hectic but un-notable series of flights Nikki and I returned to El Dorado Hills at about three in the morning and went straight to sleep. Sometime late the next evening Hayden, Richard, Nikki and I gathered for dinner and told stories. The next morning I went to the doctor because of a persistent cough and he told me that I had bronchitis. He said that they used to prescribe antibiotics for the malady but no longer did because the pathogens had mutated to have become resistant to the medicines. He said I would have to wait until I develop pneumonia before effective antibiotics could be prescribed. In the meantime he recommended bed rest and chicken soup. In accordance with his instruction I have remained in bed while the others have gone about whatever adventures they may find. I have, however, altered his prescription for chicken soup to minestrone.
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Nikki’s new shirt from Denio’s

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The collapse of the world economy a few years ago and the feeble attempts to save it has highlighted the role played in society by classical economics and economists. Not since the middle ages has a belief system and its episcopate so dominated secular society as classical economics and economists has these past 30 or so years. So what is wrong with that, you may ask?

Here is some of what’s wrong with it (Can you think of more?):

1. Despite every attempt to demonstrate its kinship to science there is no natural or scientific law that requires that it be set up as it has been.
2. It is a system set up by men to benefit men and based upon the evolutionary directives of their sex.
3. It assumes human behavior is deterministic and minimizes the unpleasant fact that people can and do choose and agree to live and act in ways inconsistent with its theology.
4. It was developed in an attempt to explain certain international transactions and the actions of a few men in coffee houses in sixteenth century England. It failed to establish any significant predictive value for those transactions then and it fails to do so now for contemporary transactions.
5. It has for the most part been immune to the advances of science, biology, sociology and psychology that have occurred over the past 300 years.
6. It relies on classifications of people and activities that at best are illustrative of certain past events and at worst worthless.
7. It claims, like a religion, that it can explain most significant political, commercial and mass behavioral activities while it steadfastly ignores other explanations and analyses for the same phenomena.
8. It refuses to recognize that is has a fundamental conflict of interest at its core in that its episcopate, the economists, generally are employees and agents of the system that rewards them and that they then claim they have the ability to describe and analyze without bias.
9. It has at best become neither a hard science nor a social science but a lobby for itself and its employers.
10. It has polluted the system by which we govern ourselves by claiming expertise where it is lacking.
11. It assumes that because its practitioners can articulate what may have happened in the past they are better suited to guess what will occur in the future than anyone else with access to the same information.
12. It steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that expertise in describing past transactions does not qualify one for advising on or administering anything.

In short, classical economics is treated today as a religion and its practitioners, the economists, as priests. In order to deal with the current world economic crisis we should add economists to Shakespeare’s famous quote about lawyers.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I’ll just touch on something else: secrecy in government. Secrecy in government exists for only one reason: to prevent the American people from knowing what’s going on. It is nonsense to believe that anything our government does is not known to the Russians at about the same moment it happens.
Carroll Quigley

TODAY’S CHART:
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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 17 Pepe 0003 (November 4, 2914

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

This is my last night in Thailand on this trip. No matter how much I look forward to my next stop, I still feel a bit sad to leave.

Today I went to the health club in the morning as usual, but instead of swimming I spent my time swapping stories with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver. This time he told me about when he tried to enter the body bag business in Santo Domingo. He and a few of his buddies from the bar he frequented also tried to purchase a mobile crematorium to go with the body bags. They believed, since it was relatively quite expensive in The Dominican Republic to die and be buried, a full service mobile death service would be welcome. They were not able to get the business started for some reason. I guess you can say that it died.

Following this failure, he travelled to Australia where he bought a land-rover and decided to drive to the northern most point of the continent. There were no roads for the last six hundred miles back then, but he plodded ahead anyway. One night while he was camping he was attacked by giant cane frogs. After that he slept in his car.- – – Hey, I’m not making this stuff up. That was his story and I’m sure he’ll stick by it.
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This evening after dinner I went to the pharmacy and bought the various medicines I thought I would need for the rest of my trip. I decided to take my last walk through that cesspool of corruption and model of capitalist market driven society that is Soi Nana. For some reason as I walked along, Christmas carols kept popping into my head and I began humming “O holy Night.” The ladies of the holy night graciously stepped aside and smiled as the old man with the funny hat, a protruding belly, brightly colored shirt and carrying a cudgel as a walking stick strode by singing Christmas carols.
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Me on Soi Nana
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On my last day, on my way to the barbershop, I walked through the Arab-India-Africa section of BKK with its sandal shops and restaurants. It reminded me how much more attractive and clean it was than most other parts of the city. The restaurants are better also.
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And then, that evening, off to the airport.
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

Sometimes the lack of drama is welcome. The flight from Bkk to Rome was mostly uneventful, except for  the fact that I thought I was in for a long six-hour layover in Singapore. At least that airport provide travelers with a pool, sleeping cubicles and massage machines to tide them over. I was looking forward for a swim while whiling away my time between flights — at least before they told me at the check-in in BKK that I read my ticket wrong, I was going to Shanghai instead. So rather than enjoying the capitalist excess of Singapore airport, I experienced the socialist realism of Shanghai for six long hours.
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Shanghai Airport
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Each time I return to Rome in is with a little sadness. There are a few cities I call home — New York because I grew up there, San Francisco because I’ve lived there longer than in any other place and of course Bangkok because I live there now for some of the year and have done so for five years. There is also Barcelona and Istanbul, cities I love but have never lived in. Then there is Rome where I lived for about three years and to which I have returned innumerable times. If it were not so expensive, I very well might be living here now.

My lodging during this trip is in something I found in Air BNB. It is located less than a block off of the Via Veneto in central Rome. It is hostel-like usually housing religious groups of very modest means making pilgrimages to the city. It feels a little like a cult operation although the woman who runs it is very nice. It is quire basic. My bed is only a slight upgrade from a cot.

On my first day here I took my brother-in-law George on a tour of some of the well known tourist spots and to some places very few tourists visit. In the evening we along with my sister Maryann had dinner near Piazza Navona. Here are some photographs of the first day.

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George by the Colosseum
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George in the Forum contemplating classical antiquities.
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The next morning at breakfast, Gregorian Chant filled the air from somewhere in the building. I sat there listening and thought of the liturgical reform that I was so eager to promote in 1960 and so equivalent about the results a few years later. I feel like a monk, living in a plain cell, sleeping on a cot, listening to Gregorian Chant and worrying about liturgical reforms. Perhaps I should consider that option for the next phase of my life.

After breakfast I joined my Maryanne and George for the days stroll around the eternal city.
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Maryann and George at Cafe Greco

We began with coffee at Cafe Greco, then off to the Keats-Shelly museum located in the rooms overlooking the Spanish steps where John Keats died of tuberculosis. I do not consider my trip to Rome complete without visiting here.
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Maryann standing in front of the Spanish Steps and the building housing the Keates-Shelly Museum

Then up the Spanish Steps and past my old law office into the Borghese Gardens to visit the Borghese Museum, one of the worlds great museums with their collection of paintings Caravaggio (a thug and murderer but a great artist) and the Bernini sculptures (mostly statues commissioned by various princes of the Church depicting rapes and attempted rapes by sundry gods) and Canova (who was incapable of rape). The museum was sold out so we walked to the church displaying Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (psychosomatic rape). It was closed, so we decided to eat lunch. We found a great local restaurant a few blocks away from the tourist areas. After lunch we visited the ruins Baths of Diocletian where, as his last commission, Michelangelo designed a spectacular church. Located in this church is one of the wonders of the age, the Great Sundial. It was used to calculate the accuracy of the Gregorian Calendar prior to its introduction into use.

Then, off to visit Borromini’s great architectural triumph, the church of San Carlo, after which, to Berninini’s Saint Andrea followed by the Doria Pamphili palazzo with its huge collection of paintings. Finally we visited the Church of St Ignatius, the mother church of the Jesuits with its magnificent trompe l’oeil frescos. We finished off the day with drinks, overlooking the city at night from the rooftop terrace of the Intercontinental Hotel.

The next morning I discovered a few other guests had checked into the place I was staying at. They were middle-aged men with grey hair and chalky white faces. I guessed they must be priests, because only those who take permanent vows of chastity and spend their lives in darkened churches could have skin so pallid.

C. VOYAGE TO ROCCANTICA IN SABINA

Roccantica is a small town in Sabina about an hours drive from Rome. It is the original home of my paternal grandmother. My grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters. Some emigrated to the US others to Australia and South America and some stayed in or near Roccantica. The town is noted for, in the tenth century, sheltering Pope Nicholas II, who, having been chased from Rome by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto, took refuge in a tiny tower in the town where he was defended by the men of the town, all thirteen of them, during a two-year siege until it was lifted by Robert Guiscard’s arrival with his troops. For this act of singular heroism the Pope awarded the people perpetual exemption from taxes. The citizens of the town enjoyed this benefit for 900 years, until in was revoked after the unification of Italy during the Risorgimento.
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Roccantica

One of the country’s more prominent medieval reenactments is held once a year in the town.

The town is also noted for a remarkable work of folk art efforts by the local priest for the glory of God. In addition to his fame as a folk artist this priest, who because of his short stature was referred to as the dwarf priest, was in love with my grandmother and reputed to have had an affair with her. He dedicated his life’s work to her. I am convinced that he also was insane.
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Examples of the priestly folk art that dominates the town heights around the restored church.

It addition to that bit of notoriety, one branch of the family became wealthier than the other citizens of the town when one of them, a priest, became the private secretary to Pope Pius XII. Due to that bit of good fortune, that branch of the family inherited two of the town’s churches. The dwarf priest administered the local parish church and the state I believe owns the one he restored and adorned with his brand of folk art. Because of the peculiarities of Italian tax law the family keeps their two churches closed and locked so that the tax men will not learn of the artistic treasures within. As a result they remain living in genteel poverty despite their potential wealth.
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Maryann and George in front of the house in which my grandmother was born.

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A group of photographs including lunch in one of my favorite restaurants in all of Italy located in the town and a snapshot of Mary and I with some of the remaining relatives assembled in the house where my grandmother and all dozen siblings were born.
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Via San Giuseppe, the street on which I used to live
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The street by the apartment I lived in for about a year.

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The view from that apartment.

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Looking down on Roccantica

On the way back to Rome we stopped at the nearest town to Roccantica, Casperia. My son Jason grew up here.
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The walls of Casperia

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The municipal plaza in Casperia where Jason and I used to stay at times.

And so on to Sicily———

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A responsible government is one in which the real disposition of power in the structure is the same as it is in people’s minds or as it is in law (which is an objectification of how it is subjectively in people’s minds). In such a case, when people act on the basis of the picture they have of the situation, they will be acting on the basis of the real distribution of power because the two are about the same. Thus, there can be no sudden rude awakening from the fact that the situation is, in fact, different from what it is reputed to be.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

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

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Pops 0003 (August 16, 2014

“There was only one thing emptier than having lived without love, and that was having lived without pain.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer (A Harry Hole Novel) (p. 389). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. SPANISH MOSS
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B. REPORT FROM HOME:

Ruth often asks me to write more about my grandchildren. In her comments to the last issue of T&T, my daughter in law Ann-Marie sent the following update on their activities:

“First, I love the pic of you in the hat. Yes very handsome, and no, not like a broken mirror in a garbage dump… Just antiquated a bit. People really enjoy & cherish antique things you know.

Second, I’m still giggling about the commentary on Hayden wrestling, Metallica, etc. Very cute. Be worried, very worried. Haha. Then again, Anthony & Aaron have radically changed their ideas of what they wanted to be when they grew up. Anthony wanted to be a lawyer like his papa Joe, a pro baseball player or a historian. Go figure.

Aaron wanted to be a football player, now he’s a chef with ideas of opening a bar or restaurant. Athena was going to be a ballerina and a doctor. Now she’s going to be a welder who teaches yoga, and guitar to make extra cash to support her art passion.”

Hmm… antique or antiquated? I’m not sure I feel pleased by either one.

My granddaughter Amanda, is in Japan with her mom and should be returning this week.
C. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

This morning I am happy. It is the first day of school, I have just dropped HRM off and I am sitting in Bella Bru Cafe sipping a café latte and munching on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. My emotions, I suspect, are similar those all mothers of pre-adolescent children who are not wealthy enough to afford paid help or childcare must feel this day, relief. For a short time the day is yours, at least until the school day ends. After breakfast I plan to get back into my exercise regime, catch up on some reading and enjoy an uninterrupted nap.

Funny, after writing the above, I suddenly feel at loose ends. Now that I think about it, I really do not know what to do with my time. Maybe I’ll go to the man-cave, smoke a cigar, drink lemonade and watch an old movie.

D. TRAVEL PLANS:

For those to whom this may be of interest, I plan to return to Thailand for a month at the beginning of October. I will be spending my 75th birthday there. Someones 75th birthday it seems to me to be an important milestone in life. One should spend those milestones with those with whom they had shared a portion of it, friends and family. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do so. I’m sure, however, LM will knit me a scarf. Maybe I’ll buy myself a birthday cake.

Anyway, after leaving Thailand I will return through Italy, hopefully meeting up with my sister who may attend a conference in Rome. I plan to travel with her and her husband George to Sicily for a week or so. Then to NY and perhaps DC to spend a day or two with my daughter before returning to SF.

As has been the case for five years now planning for a trip like this a month and a half ahead usually means it will not happen quite as hoped.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Red Sails in the Sunset

It was Autumn in Paris. We walked down Rue de Grenelle on the left bank, my arm around her shoulders. She wore a long checkered coat. We stopped to look into the window of a shop selling antique playing and tarot cards. I pulled her towards me. We kissed. We were very much in love. We stood there arms entwined gazing at one another. She was very very beautiful.

That was the point when, last night, I realized I had been dreaming. I could feel myself being pulled away into wakefulness. My dream me cried out. I, however, felt no tears. I lay there in bed the rest of the night unable to get back to sleep. It had been like a reverse nightmare, waking up was the horror.

The whole thing reminded me of a poem I had written many years ago when I was much younger and living in Rome. I fancied myself a poet then (more a lifestyle than a profession). I lived in a small pensione on the top floor of a building on a side street just off via Nationale across from St Paul’s within the Walls, the major American Protestant Church in Rome. In the evenings I would sit in my room by the open window and listen to the then love of my life, practice on the piano in the church rectory where she lived having been sent there by her exceedingly wealthy Danish parents (Maersk – Moller) to study music at The National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome. She was exceptionally beautiful, an accomplished musician, a doper and a bit of a groupie, especially attracted to bass fiddle jazz musicians with lots of hair. Eventually her family felt she was spending too much time with a certain Italian-American drifter and called her back from Rome to marry someone more appropriate. She is now Chairman of the Board of a major Maersk subsidiary. Sic transit gloria.
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I hung out with a group of ex-pat would be poets none of whom ever made it as poets (one became a high school teacher in Santa Rosa) and a few con-man who also to my knowledge never made whatever it was they were hoping to make. In ex-pat communities world over, there are always a lot of those on the con. How much less interesting would the world be if there were no con and no grifters to fashion them. Movies often tend to make the grifters happy-go-lucky sociopaths, sometimes even with a heart of gold. Although they smiled a lot, most of the sociopaths I knew were anything but happy go lucky and as for their hearts, it was far more likely they were lined with lead.

The poem was part of a lengthy piece most of which I no longer recall. It was lost many years ago along with all my other attempts at turning doggerel if not into gold at least into something useful like molybdenum. Pretentious imagist drivel, it went like this:

The wanderer travels not by hook
But sprawled upon the empty tides of fairy world and real
And the sham cult darkness lie that was
Yet will not be
Marks its passage on nothing
But cognition.

The entire poem ended with perhaps one of the more tragic images in all of literature, “red sails returning.”

Tristan, before embarking from Cornwall on his latest war in Ireland, promised his beloved Isolde that upon his ships’ return, if he were still alive, he would unfurl his white sails but had he died his men would put up red ones. Upon word of the ship’s approach to the harbor, Isolde sent her handmaid to the top of the tower to report what she sees. Tristan, still alive, orders his men to unfurl the white sails. Unfortunately the sun was setting at just that moment causing the sails to blaze a bright red. Upon the maid’s return from the tower Isolde asked her the color of the sails. “Red” she answered not knowing the significance of her response. So, in sorrow and despair Isolde killed herself as did Tristan when he discovered his beloved’s body.*
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I always envied Tristan. As far as I know, there have been very few people who longed for my return after I left the room.

* It should be noted, that there are several versions of the Tristan tale many of them that differ substantially from what I have described. First of all, in a lot of them Isolde waiting in the castle in Cornwall was not the beloved Isolde, but Isolde of the White Hands, T’s wife.

It seems that while T and the beloved Isolde were playing hide the salami, she was married to Mark the King who was also T’s boss. Eventually the lovers agreed T would go away because, in part, they both liked Mark the King and felt bad about what they were doing, but mostly because Mark the King was the King and if he found out what they were doing he would cut off their heads as well as other important parts of their body. So T left and married the white-handed Isolde because he liked her name and she had a castle near the water. Frankly, when T returned from his slaughter of his Irish kinsmen and found white-handed Isolde dead due to a mistaken perception, he was not too broken up about it.

There are also many versions of how T died. Some have him poisoned, probably by a jealous husband and others have him chopped to bits in the midst of one of his ethnic cleansing jobs. I, on the other hand, believe he died in a bar fight with some bikers in Pocatello Idaho.

However it was that he died, I am not particularly jealous of this version of T. He seems to just be like a lot of men – completely fucked in the head.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Testosterone Chronicles, Female Version:

Boudicca, the original Braveheart. After the death of her father the king, the Romans flogged Boudicca, raped her daughters, and, to add insult to injury, the financiers back in Rome called in their loans to the deceased monarch. This last probably really fried her bacon. Bat-shit with anger, she then led her tribe of British Celts in a bloody, and ultimately doomed, rebellion against their Roman occupiers. She took no prisoners and slaughtered all the Romans in the cities she conquered. As the town that was to become London burned, she had the breasts of the noblest women cut off and sewn into their own mouths before impaling them on spikes.
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Tomoe Gozen, one of Japan’s few known female warriors, who fought in the 12th century Genpei War. Described as a peerless swords-woman, horsewoman and archer, she had a taste for beheading her enemies.
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Mai Bhago, the 18th-Century Sikh Joan of Arc. Appalled to see Sikh men desert their Guru in the face of Mughal invaders, she shamed them into returning to battle, defeated the enemy, became the Guru’s bodyguard and later retired to devote herself to meditation.
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Maria Bochkareva, a Russian peasant who fought in World War I. She formed the terrifyingly named Women’s Battalion of Death and won several honors, only to be executed by the Bolsheviks in 1920. (Contrary to the belief of some of my commenters, she did not become a Russian mail order bride.)
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Nancy Wake, the New Zealand-born British agent commanded more than 7,000 resistance fighters during the Nazis’ occupation of France in World War II. She killed a SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid. She became the Gestapo’s most wanted person, and the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman. After the war she refused offers of decorations from Australia, saying: “The last time there was a suggestion of that I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts.”
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B. More from Eric Spang (Jimmy Buffett “Boat Drink” Lyrics):

This morning I shot six holes in my freezer.
I think I got cabin fever
Somebody sound the alarm.
I’d like to go where the pace of life’s slow.

C. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

1. Auction or flea market:

Stevie points out an error in my previous edition of T&T:

“In return for that nice birthday shout-out I will concur that the hat is a fine addition to your wardrobe but must correct you on its provenance: that ain’t no FLEA MARKET – that’s THE AUCTION.

When I was a kid livestock was auctioned from a relatively small corral across the street from where the produce, Amish baked goods, and miscellaneous new but weird items could be bought on Saturday mornings. Jimboys got its start at a mobile taco stand at THE AUCTION. Sometime in the 1960s it became DENIO’s AUCTION and you could separate the natives from the newcomers by whether they went to THE AUCTION or to DENIO’s. About the same time THE AUCTION started operating on Sunday as well as Saturday.

The DENIO’s had two daughters – one a year older than I who was a solid citizen (at least for a Roseville teenager) and the other a bit younger who was less so, proving the point by taking my renegade brother to myriad formal affairs in which he would ordinarily have had no interest. They were both hovering around 6 feet in height and Kathy was as gorgeous as Buddy was handsome, making a striking couple in those dance photos my mother loved to save. Fortunately for the young lady and her family the romance did not long flourish.

Before we hit junior high we’d go to Diamond National with my dad on Saturday mornings, and the manager would frequently hire us and our neighborhood pals to put advertising flyers on the windshields of all the cars overflowing the huge dirt and gravel parking lots surrounding THE AUCTION – a job that paid well but left us covered in dust.

In fairness, I haven’t been there in decades so it may have become a flea market, for all I know, but if it is, it’s a flea market at THE AUCTION as far as I’m concerned.”

I stand corrected and apologize to all, including the Denio family – especially tall, gorgeous Kathy. (Is she still tall, gorgeous and looking for trouble?)

2. Apology to the Good/Bad David:

David I am extremely sorry for the photograph and comments below, but I just could not resist. I hope you are still willing to talk to me.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

”The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism but the claim that no one could see it coming.
Most very wealthy individuals are scoundrels, only very few admit it and they usually do so from jail.”
Trenz Pruca

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
David 1976
This handsome devil is my friend the Good/Bad David in his coat of many colors at his graduation from university. In addition to excelling in sports, especially basketball, and spending time as a professional drummer in a band, David won that year’s Richard Pryor award for the best imitation afro by a white man from South Dakota.

Categories: July through September 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment by 3Th. November 29, 2011

“The super-rich have not paid their dues to society in recent years, and more and more of us now know it. The average personal income tax rate on the wealthy was far lower than that paid by middle-income earners. In emerging markets, capital gains and withholding tax on dividends are tax-exempt. In other words, the new breed of super-rich paid no personal tax.”
Hassan Heikal, The “super-rich” chief executive of EFG Hermes, the premier investment bank in the Middle East.(See Hassan Heikal’s Proposal, below.)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1. Fox News Viewers:

Fox News viewers are less informed than people who don’t watch any news, according to a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University. This isn’t the first study that has found that Fox News viewers more misinformed in comparison to others. Last year, a study from the University of Maryland found that Fox News viewers were more likely to believe false information about politics.

2. First Century AD:

a. Public baths were a fundamental part of Roman culture and daily life. At the end of the workday, men of all ages and social classes would convene at the local baths to converse, discuss business, and relax. The baths also provided areas to exercise and plays sports as well as buy food.

b. Despite the extreme violence, gladiator fighting was one of the most popular forms of public entertainment in first century Rome. While most gladiators were criminals, slaves, or prisoners or war, successful contestants usually achieved great fame and fortune. These men in armor who battled wild animals and other human challengers for sport were celebrated in frescoes and mosaics throughout the Roman world.

c. Like gladiator contests, chariot racing was a dangerous and bloody sport that often resulted in the death of drivers or horses. But that only made the event more popular. Almost 200,000 devoted fans would come out to watch the chariot races that took place in Circus Maximus, considered the oldest stadium in Rome.

3. Today (Who is our enemy?):

Counterfeit electronic parts, installed on military equipment manufactured by Boeing, L-3, and Raytheon, are currently in use on aircraft flying missions in Afghan combat zones.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

It is good to return to a place where the politics are real; that is simply corrupt and self-serving and the fate of the world does not hang on anything they do or not do.

Contrast this with the situation in the US where the fate of the world may really impacted by what we do or do not do. Here we have a half-crazed Australian media mogul and a few fat so-called pundits (who failed at every job they ever previously attempted), trying to persuade a large number of Americans that they would be better off if their nation were lead by the least informed criminally insane person who could be persuaded to appear on a television series that could be entitled, “I may be dumb but not as much as you.” On the other hand, the only alternative to this is represented by a group with the political acumen and moral fortitude of a dying grasshopper. Presiding over this we have a leader whose primary claim to fame is that he appears much tougher on thugs in foreign lands, than on those domestic thugs running free about a mile up Pennsylvania Avenue from where he currently resides.

Compare this with the following:

While attending a formal affair, the home of a former governmental minister was attacked by a fairly large gang, who tied-up the domestic help and robbed the of money in the ministers bedroom. They seemed to know where the money was located and took nothing else of value. The minister claimed that he had been robbed of 1.5 million dollars. When some of the thieves were arrested they were found to have on them 6 million dollars taken from the ministers house. When asked about this, the minister responded that he did not know he had so much. It was later learned that perhaps up to 30 million had been stolen. Also, the robbers had told the domestic staff as they were tying them up that they were sent by their “Boss,” to retrieve the money paid to the minister that was supposed to be used to bribe other officials but had not been so used. Later information surfaced that the minister’s associates recently had been busy buying several homes in a posh section of London.

The new government has announced that they will look into the matter. The police have announced that the arrest of the remaining thieves is imminent.

It is expected that except perhaps for the thieves themselves, no one will be prosecuted, the police will retain most of whatever funds are recovered and the whole matter will soon disappear from the news, if it has not done so already.

Now that’s politics as it should be.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have returned to Bangkok after a long uneventful flight. The movies offered were especially uninteresting and I could not sleep so I spent a lot of time prowling around the cabin, locking myself in the lavatory experimenting with the various scents and lotions they have in there while staring at myself in the mirror and sitting watching the little airplane crawl slowly across the map on the tiny television screen supplied with my seat.

After I arrived, I went to my apartment in a taxi driven by a retired police officer with a married daughter living somewhere in Sacramento. At my apartment, I napped until the Little Masseuse arrived and administered to my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

The following morning, I received a shock. The tiny restaurant that I used to spend most of my time in eating various meals and playing with my computer is no longer in operation. It has been sold to an uncommunicative Thai who removed the WiFi as well as the American menu. I went instead to the place I often eat my dinner and had breakfast. The restaurant is on the first floor of what appears to be a short-time hotel and inexpensive guest house. In the evening the small outdoor bar is tended by two attractive ladyboys. Although free wi-fi internet connection is provided, no electrical outlets are apparent in the dining room, so my internet adventures are limited to my computer’s battery life.

After breakfast, I returned to my apartment, took a nap and waited there because the Little Masseuse gets off work at 3 PM. The next day I went to the health club and swam for about an hour. I was pretty much blissfully unaware of actually swimming. It felt like I was stoned.

On my last day in SF, I left my son Jason’s house where I had been staying, hugged my granddaughter Amanda and went to have an early dinner with Peter Grennel at Coppola’s restaurant on the first floor of the building on Columbus Avenue that houses his Zoetrope Studios and drank a liter of house red wine from his vineyard in the Napa Valley, shared a pretty good anti-pasta and ate an excellent interpretation of spaghetti Carbonaro. As usual Peter and I engaged in a thoroughly delightful and humorous conversation about the various pleasures of growing old.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Something about fans and fecal matter:

Vince arrived at the building that housed the same expensive, dark restaurant that he had brought LaGrande to. He had a more that vague hope that the evening would end much as that one did. He was early and a bit nervous. He checked around the street to see if he could spot his various shadows. He could not, but he assumed they were there. Somehow tonight that comforted him.

As he rode up in the elevator he tried to piece together how he was implementing his strategy but gave up before arriving at the floor upon which the restaurant was located, admitting to himself that he hadn’t the slightest idea what he was doing. He was ok with that.

He asked the maitre’d to be seated at the table in the darkened corner of the dining room, barely visible to the other diners. Although it was a little too near the doors to the kitchen, he felt that its remoteness was more romantic. He waited fidgeting with his tie, the napkin and the utensils. He ordered a glass of 2004 Cakebread Chardonnay and waited some more, sipping the wine instead of playing with the place settings. He began to sweat.

At exactly the precise moment they agreed upon, Isabella emerged from the elevator and swept across the floor toward him. She was wearing a bias cut simmering silver mini dress. It appeared as though someone had taken a bolt of the material and draped it from one shoulder, under the other arm leaving that shoulder bare and back to where it began. The lower edge of the strip of fabric dipped to mid-thigh on the same side as the bare shoulder and swept upward passing no more than two inches bellow her crotch before continuing half way up the opposite hip then dropping down again to barely cover her rump and returning to the partially covered thigh. It was ever so slightly loose along her waist but low and tight like spandex across her mostly exposed and bulging breasts and her ample hips. She carried a smallish purse in the same fabric on a strap slung over one shoulder. Her stiletto heels were the same color of the double strand of black pearls that gleamed darkly from around her neck. She looked like nothing else that the most beautiful bar girl imaginable inhabiting the dives of Bangkok.

As she neared her table Vince got an enormous boner forcing him to rise from his seat only part way and shake her hand slightly bent over. He was embarrassed as he sat down again. She assumed the seat opposite him, a slight smile on her face but the same calm expressionless eyes as always.

As she settled in, never taking her eyes from his, she said, “Just what the fuck do you think you are doing.” (To be continued.)

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

A. The Newtster as seen through a Conservative’s eyes:

Conservative columnist George Will on Sunday roundly criticized Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as “the classic rental politician.”

“Gingrich’s is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that it embodies everything that is disagreeable about modern Washington. He’s the classic rental politician,” Will said during a roundtable discussion on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

B. The Republican candidate excluded from the flavor of the week debates because he is too sane comments on the Occupy movement:

“They look different, they smell different. The Occupy movement is a little scruffy, but I can remember scruffy kids that turned the nation around on civil rights. I can remember scruffy kids that turned America around on the Vietnam War, We ought to listen to these kids.”
Buddy Roemer. We ought to listen to Buddy also.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Strange Apocalypses:

VACUUM DECAY

If the Earth exists in a region of space known as a false vacuüm, it could collapse into a lower-energy state at any point. This collapse would grow at the speed of light and our atoms would not hold together in the ensuing wave of intense energy — everything would be torn apart.

Danger sign: There would be no signs. It could happen half way through this…

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

“It shouldn’t be surprising that the Democratic Party of even President Obama’s re=election team  would campaign against Wall Street in his cycle. However the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies – and might start running against them too.

Well known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of were OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism. Both the radical left and the radical right are channelling broader frustration about the state of the economy and share a mutual anger over TARP and other perceived bailouts. The combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this Christmas”

Memo from DC lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranfor (which has had close ties with John Boehner) written to the American Bankers Association proposing an ambitious project to monitor and undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as sympathetic politicians. (In fairness to the Bankers they rejected the proposal. However, whether they rejected the proposal because they disagree with it or because its contents were publicly revealed is not yet clear.)

Holy cow, imagine if OWS and the Tea Party realize they have same enemy, not just government but who it is that effectively controls government as well. The enemy of Wall Street is not Socialism, it is Populism.

It is interesting to note, instead of suggesting that because millions of Americans are suffering, perhaps good PR if not common sense or simple morality would argue they go light on the bonus crap, they [the authors of the proposal] decide on a holy war to sabotage populist anger. Why would they believe the Bankers would even contemplate such a proposal? How did this happen? See Moyers speech below.

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

“How did this happen?

You know the story, because it begins the very same year that you began your public advocacy and I began my public journalism. 1971 was a seminal year.

On March 29 of that year, Ralph Nader bought ads in 13 publications and sent out letters asking people if they would invest their talents, skills, and yes, their lives, in working for the public interest. The seed sprouted swiftly that spring: By the end of May over 60,000 Americans responded, and Public Citizen was born.

But something else was also happening. Five months later, on August 23, 1971, a corporate lawyer named Lewis Powell – a board member of the death-dealing tobacco giant Philip Morris and a future Justice of the United States Supreme Court – sent a confidential memorandum to his friends at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. We look back on it now as a call to arms for class war waged from the top down.

… Powell imagined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a council of war. Since business executives had “little stomach for hard-nose contest with their critics” and “little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate,” they should create new think tanks, legal foundations, and front groups of every stripe. It would take years, but these groups could, he said, be aligned into a united front (that) would only come about through “careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and united organizations.”

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

From Frank Luntz Republican Party consultant in a memorandum to Party leaders and regulars:

What this means is blame it on the lawyers, but not those lawyers who represent Wall Street or large corporations since, of course, nothing they do is “frivolous,” but only those attorney’s who take on cases of ordinary citizens suing Wall Street or large corporations because as we all know, unlike Wall Street and large corporations, anything the ordinary citizen does that may adversely affect those corporations is frivolous, probably dishonest and socialist.

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

In an analysis of the range of findings of the emotional differences between men and women in situations that could affect social decision-making (some of which I have included in precious posts), the authors opine that on the whole, women seem more empathetic and more focused on the collective good. This is broadly consistent with the suggestion by at least one of the researchers that women are more likely than men to base moral decision on a care orientation, whereas men gravitate more towards principles.

This is why I previously wrote:

“For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years every justification of those structures have been developed by men to benefit men.”Trenz Pruca’s Journal.

Would it not now be appropriate for men to just step aside and turn the whole sorry mess we have made of things over to women? I doubt very much that they could do worse than we men have.

f. Barry Goldwater, American, tells it like it is:

“I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”
~Barry Goldwater

g. Hassan Heikal’s Proposal:

“We should impose a one-off global wealth tax of ten to 20 per cent on individuals with a net worth in excess of $10m, with tax receipts going to their country of citizenship.
The aggregate wealth of those individuals — that is those with net worth in excess of $10m — is approximately $50,000bn. Paradoxically they — or I should say, “we” — represent fewer than one in 10,000 of the world’s population.

The global proceeds of what I call the “Tahrir Square tax” would be, if levied at 10 per cent, approximately $5,000bn. Europe should receive $1,500bn, more than enough to deal with the European public debt crisis. It would bring down eurozone public debt, excluding that of Germany and France, to below 50 per cent of gross domestic product.[emphasis added]”

h. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

It has been pointed out to me that recently my politically oriented comments appear to have been one-sided and that in fairness I should balance out my opinions by attacks on the other side. Now despite my experience that people who urge that are usually those who refuse to give and inch on their side of the argument and hope you will be foolish enough to do what they propose. Sadly, in the political realm, the Democrats, like Charlie Brown and the football, always seem to fall for it. Since I have been accused of being a Liberal and a slavish supporter of the Democratic Party, to appease the critics I will fall for it too.

I promise:

1. when the Democrats decide, at the behest of the media, to stage a series of debates, ostensibly to identify who is qualified to occupy the most powerful office in the world, and then the best they can do is to parade a group of ignorant clowns before the public week after week to the horror of even the most ardent but thoughtful conservative and who weekly embarrass themselves and this nation before the world, I will devote all my time to ridiculing them and not once mention the “other Party” for as long as they are at it.

2. were the Democrats as a group actually to begin to unite behind the ravings of some ideologues [as the GOP has with Norquist and the like] and hold the Country hostage [like the GOP did twice most recently as a result their anti-tax pledge], until say, a dictatorship of the proletariat was established, I promise I would be equally upset and attack them without let-up even if someone accuses me of blind partisanship.

3. should the majority of the Democrats in Congress as well as those running for the Presidency of the US believe that some religious group or groups have some God-granted right to control their votes in Congress or the actions and policies of the President, I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.” (Haven’t I heard something like this somewhere before?)

TODAY’S CHART:

Note: The Republican congressional delegation opposes the extension of the payroll tax cut on deficit grounds while at the same time stand firm in insisting on the continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Who’s working for you baby? Slight though it may be, there is a difference between the Parties, if one could call the Democrats a Party and not just a collection of non-Republicans.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Has the use of casual violence against assembly and free speech become the new norm? Some have suggested that the Occupy protestors should be thankful the violence is not as severe as that suffered by those in the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising. That is like saying at least our torture is not as bad as their torture.

TODAY’S POSTER:

BOLSHEVIK POSTER: “Bloody Sunday.” Artist unknown (1925).

That I show this poster, does it make me a Communist or worse a Bolshevik?

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 17, 2011

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

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

I swear I do not make these things up. The latest from the quickly fading GOP flavor of the week, Herman Cain:

“I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I’d throw that out,” Herman Cain said to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter while on his campaign bus on Monday, the afternoon after his interview with the paper’s editorial board. “I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president (people say) you need to have the answer. No, you don’t! No, you don’t! That’s not good decision-making.”

This weeks flavor, the much married, yacht loving Newtster said this in 1983:

“It is in the interest of the Republican Party and Ronald Reagan to invent new black Republicans, so to speak.”

Does this mean that Herman Cain was originally Newt’s Black or Reagan’s but is now Ann Coulter‘s?

Has the GOP become the ABM (Anybody But Mitt) Party?

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Facts from the first century AD:

1. With an estimated population between 800,000 and 1 million residents, Rome was the largest and most powerful city by the year 1 AD. Much of what we know about civilization in this ancient era comes from history recorded during Rome’s reign.

2. Give or take a whole bunch. It would be impossible to know anything close to the real number, but estimates have put the global population during the first century in the 200 million range. The most populated areas were the communities based around the Ganges, Tigris, Yangtze, Nile and Po rivers.

3. Jewish girls could be married as early as 12 years and a day. Though to be fair, it was more common to wait until they reached 12 and a half. In those days, marriage took place in two stages. The formal betrothal would first be agreed upon between the husband and the girl’s father. Several months to a year later, the girl would move into her new husband’s house. It wasn’t until they started living together that the marriage became official.
TODAY’S NEWS FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

I am now in Sacramento . It appears that I am the designated nanny for a few days. Hopefully this will give me a chance to visit with the Geyers and the Dalls who have consistently proven to be friends whose kindness I could never repay. In the meantime, I occupy myself by playing with Hayden and my computer.

The fall colors are out here and they are magnificent this year. Not the overwhelming lush riot of colors one experiences in western Massachusetts or eastern NY, but exceptionally dramatic nevertheless. It appears that the landscape plans for subdivisions around here were chosen to feature trees with spectacular fall colors.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Vincent Harried (cont.)

Meg, picked up her cruiser in the parking garage under Vince’s building and drove out on her way to meet Fat Al to begin coordinating with him as they had agreed during a brief telephone conversation in Vince’s office. A late-model, dark blue Toyota Corolla followed.

Vince, meanwhile, feeling satisfied he had stirred the pot enough for one day, decided to go home and get ready for dinner with Isabella. He decided that since it was a nice sunny day he would walk the few blocks to his apartment. As he walked he tried to spot the agents Russell had promised to provide for his safety; minders or watchers, he could never remember which, that LeCarre assured were what they were referred to by M-15 or 16, he could not remember that either. I wonder what we call them here, he thought as he walked along. He couldn’t spot anything or anyone minding or watching him. Probably not there, he mused. Just another shuck and jive in whatever game they were playing. He felt a little bad about what he was doing. Attorneys were trained not to be rash but to may sure they had worked out all the angles before acting or advising a client to act. Well, he never thought of himself as that good of an attorney anyway. He recalled an old girlfriend who had called him impetuous. He was not sure if he liked it then and not sure if he liked in now. But, he thought if it were just spy vs spy they all deserve the little run around he was giving them and if it were not and he were in danger, he might as well force the issue and face it now when he was somewhat prepared; if anyone could be prepared for something like this.

Nevertheless disregarding caution, he inevitably drifted into ruminating on his upcoming dinner with Isabella, fantasizing taking her to bed, plotting how to accomplish that. And so he continued on blissfully unaware of anything except his own daydreams.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Cracked News from “Not the Nation”(Thailand’s “Daily Onion”):

THAILAND/BURMA BORDER – Thailand’s Bt20-billion human trafficking industry is experiencing a major drop in production due to the flood crisis, human traffickers reported this week.
“This crisis has hit our business hard, at both the supply and distribution end,” said Thanh Huendoc, who manages a large Burmese-Thai trafficking syndicate. “We’re looking at huge losses this year.”

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

1. ” Occupy” poster:

2. From “The Economist”:

“A growing body of evidence suggests that the meritocratic ideal is in trouble in America. Income inequality is growing to levels not seen since the (first) Gilded Age. But social mobility is not increasing at anything like the same pace….Everywhere you look in modern America – in the Hollywood Hills or the canyons of Wall Street, in the Nashville recording studios or the clapboard houses of Cambridge, Massachusetts – you see elites mastering the art of perpetuating themselves. America is increasingly looking like imperial Britain, with dynastic ties proliferating, social circles interlocking, mechanisms of social exclusion strengthening, and a gap widening between the people who make decisions and shape the culture and the vast majority of working stiffs.”

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

“How could it be? How could this happen in the country whose framers spoke of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the same breath as political equality? Democracy wasn’t meant to produce a class-ridden society. When that son of French aristocracy Alexander de Tocqueville traveled through the bustling young America of the 1830s, nothing struck him with greater force than “the equality of conditions.” Tocqueville knew first-hand the vast divisions between the wealth and poverty of Europe, where kings and feudal lords took what they wanted and left peasants the crumbs. But Americans, he wrote, “seemed to be remarkably equal economically.” “Some were richer, some were poorer, but within a comparative narrow band. Moreover, individuals had opportunities to better their economic circumstances over the course of a lifetime, and just about everyone [except of course slaves and Indians] seemed to be striving for that goal.” Tocqueville looked closely, and said: “I easily perceive the enormous influence that this primary fact exercises on the workings of the society.”
d. How To Talk Like A Republican (the new American Lexicon):

From Frank Luntz Republican Party consultant in a memorandum to Party leaders and regulars:

You see we must never let them really know what we are about. God knows we would NEVER want to have to defend shipping jobs overseas and God forbid government should decide to stop the practice. As you can see by the repetitive emphasis on the Almighty that this is obviously God’s will.

Also, rhyming is important to Republicans, otherwise they could not remember what they were told to do

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

• When men watch wrongdoers getting punished, there is activation in reward centers of their brains, whereas women’s brains show activation in pain centers, suggesting that they feel empathy for suffering even when it is deserved (Tania Singer and collaborators).

Read more: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bakadesuyo/~3/bea6srN06Qs/do-women-and-men-have-different-moral-values#ixzz1dEZVO7XD

Does this mean that women are genetically predisposed to liberalism? No wonder God considers them the lesser sex.

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

I have recently been reminded that there is ugliness in politics and questioned as to whether or not good people should ignore it (the politics and the ugliness). To which I can only point to Plato who, in one of his few cogent moments, reminded us, “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” I would think Plato’s warning applies to “good people” also.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar.”
~Barry Goldwater

Imagine, if Barry were running for president today he would be considered the liberal-socialist candidate.

TODAY’S CHART:

Why would anyone want to own a piece of South Texas? Is this another one per-center plot? Does the 40% own the mineral rights? Probably not, I’m sure the one per-centers would hold on to them along with the water rights. So what it all comes down to is, 40% of the American people own nothing but a few acres of worthless property somewhere in Texas. Unfortunately, they probably voted for Rick Perry for Governor and he rewarded them by promoting a law allowing him to sell their miserable speck of land to the one per-centers using the 40%’s own money. Well, I guess, the 40% can always move to Mexico.

TODAY’S CARTOON:

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:


Another example of finding beauty and optimism amidst tragedy.

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

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Today in Science:

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

Sagittal human brain with cortical regions del...

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

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

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

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

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

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

It hardly seems worth it.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND)AMERICA:

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

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

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND (CALIFORNIA):

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

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

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

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

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

THE PARABLE OF THE THOUGHTFUL GLADIATOR

Gladiators from the Zliten mosaic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed while I feel sorry for myself.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

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

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

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

c. The Mac Attack:

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

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th November 15 2010

Laura Rees as Lavinia in Lucy Bailey's 2006 pr...

Laura Rees as Lavinia in Lucy Bailey’s 2006 production at Shakespeare’s Globe; note the ‘realistic’ effects and blood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1995: A critic with too much time on his hands while reviewing Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus determined that the play,“…has 14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, 1 rape (or 2 or 3 depending on how you count), 1 live burial, 1 case of insanity, and 1 of cannibalism—-an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, or one for every 97 lines.”

(Sounds like the typical summertime Hollywood blockbuster movie to me)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

Chao Phyra River

Chao Phyra River (Photo credit: Rodney_F)

The Thai authorities in response to the recent flooding of the capital have announced that instead of spending more money on things like sandbags, they intended to invest in constructing a series of underground viaducts to channel future flood waters from the city into the Chao Phyra river that runs trough Bangkok.

What they failed to mention was that Bangkok used to have a perfectly adequate system to channel off flood water in its canal system. The canals were filed to make roads thereby causing many of the current problems plaguing the city, not the least of which is periodic flooding.

Also they did not mention that like New Orléans, significant portions of Bangkok are below sea-level and merely directing more water into an already constrained system will do nothing to prevent flood waters from backing up from the river on to the city’s streets except perhaps to shift the areas of the city subject to flooding from where they are currently to along the densely populated riverside.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Nothing much has occurred during the past few days. I am still feeling under the weather. I occupy myself with the usual breakfast at the café, walk along the beach, swim in the pool and then rest in my apartment as I try to kick whatever it is I have.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

TOO MANY JOES (CONT.)

ELISA

I guess it is appropriate now to break into JOE’S story to say a little about his wife Elisa, my grandmother. After all she had as great an influence on my imagination as did my grandfather JOE.

Elisa Bargellini, was born in a small village called Roccantica

Roccantica RI

Roccantica RI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

located in Sabina about 60 kilometers northeast of Rome. She was one of 12 children. Which number of the 12, I do not know. I also do not know the date of her birth, perhaps around 1890 of so.

Ultimately, most of the children emigrated from the town, four went to Australia, four to America and four remained in italy.

The house that she was born in had two large rooms, a bed room with a heavy wood beamed ceiling and a kitchen-living area with a large fireplace built into the wall that separated the two rooms.

Many years later, during 1968 through 70, I was living in Rome and rented one of my relatives apartments in the town. There I would spend my weekends.

Every night, I would leave my apartment and climb the steps that served as streets in the village and visit the house in which my grandmother was born. Philomena, my grandmothers sister still lived there with her son Mauro and her daughter in law Rosanna.

Whenever I arrived, I would usually find Philomena sitting by the fire with three of her women friends, her daughter-in-law puttering around in the background. Mauro was usually at the little café he ran in the village. The only light in the room came from the fire.

I would take my accustomed seat on the floor to the right of the fire, partially inside of fireplace cavity and lean back against the warm stones.

There would also always be an empty extra chair set out.

I would sit there and listen to the old women talk about the day’s gossip but mostly about their real or imagined aches and pains, their faces glowing red in the glint of the light from the fire.

Every so often there would be a knock on the door and someone from the town would enter and take the empty chair. The visitor would be offered coffee and biscuits. Then between sips of coffee they would relate their tales of the day’s happenings.

When they had finished, each visitor would get up, politely thank the women for their hospitality and leave and the women would go back to their discussions until the next knock on the door intervened.

My favorite visitor during those nights was the village blind man who arrived every evening at about the same time. He began talking even before knocking on the door, shouting out his helloes and continuing his patter as he opened the door and walked into the room. Since the empty chair was always in the same place every night he would walk directly over to it, feel for it with his cane and sit down. He always wore dark clothing and had a great round face that hung there in the flickering firelight like a benevolent Jack-o-lantern. He was a wonderful story-teller.

Roccantica (RI), 2006

Roccantica (RI), 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He would tell, in great detail and animation, about his wanderings that day along the paths in and around the village. He would tell of the different sounds made by the small animals as they slithered away when he walked by. He described the songs of the birds and what they ment to him and how they made him feel. The touch of the wind on his face and the feel of the plants that grew along side the path as he took them into his hands would fill him with delight. Every conversation he had during the day was recalled precisely and because he was by necessity inquisitive, contained a tale of its own. Then once he was finished, he would rise from his chair and tap his way to the door and leave. After he closed the door he would shout out to us inside that he would see us all again tomorrow. Then there was silence except for the hiss of the burning logs as we all meditated on his absence until after a while the analyses of the medical symptoms that accompanies aging would begin once more.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

1. The wisdom of Miracle Max:

Miracle Max: You got any money?
Inigo Montoya: Sixty-five.
Miracle Max: I’ve never worked for so little. Except once, and that was a very noble cause.
Inigo Montoya: This is noble, sir. His wife is… crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.
Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar?
Inigo Montoya: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years.
Miracle Max: Your first story was better.
The Princess Bride

2. Yiddish for beginners (from Wikipedia):

bagel: a ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling then baking the dough.
blintz: a sweet cheese-filled crêpe.
bris: the circumcision of a male child.
boychick: boy, young man.
bubkes (also spelled “bupkis”): emphatically nothing, as in “He isn’t worth bubkes” (literally ‘goat droppings).
chutzpah: nerve, guts, daring, audacity, effrontery.
dreck: (vulgar) worthless material, especially merchandise.
dybbuk: the malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls a living body until exorcised.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

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

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