Posts Tagged With: San Francisco Chronicle

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Cold Tits 0008 (February 7 20190

 

“The rich ‘learn lessons.’ The poor commit crimes. ‘Mistakes’ are generally considered a mark of the middle class.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel) . Orbit.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
It is Super Bowl Sunday. Rain dribbles from a grey sky clothing the empty branches of the trees with crystalline droplets. I am feeling a bit better today than I have this past week. The side-effects of the last infusion appear to be dissipating. The good news is that my oncologist has recommended that I meet with the surgeon to reexamine the potential for surgery now that the Chemo seems to have produced some shrinkage in cancer.

We were invited to a Super Bowl party at Naida’s daughter’s house. As we walked to the car, I noticed the camellias were in bloom throughout the neighborhood — a riot of pink flowers on the trees and pink petals littering the ground.

The party was pleasant and the food exemplary. It was too bad that I still cannot taste anything. The game was boring so we left early and returned home where I worked on my suggested revisions to the US Constitution one of my never to be seen obsessions. While working away, I also watched a documentary on the “royal beds” of 17th to 19th Century England. For those who like me find these things interesting or at least amusing, in the 17th Century, the highest courtier in the palace was the something or other of the stool. He was the only courtier allowed to accompany the king to the toilet and hold his toilet paper.

A week has gone by. Following a day or two of sunshine, another storm seems on the way. Although I am feeling better, the weather and my general fatigue have restricted me to spend most of my time around the house — watching old movies and cable news, reading, writing and when the weather permits walking the dog along the paths that wind among the misty trees of the Enchanted Forest.

Strangely, I do not find myself too bored during these the dreary days — more resigned then bored. I sit in a comfortable chair in the study and read. In the last four days, I have read four books, Tahir Shah’s Beyond the Devil’s Teeth, Sanderson’s Skyward, Josiah Bancroft’s The Hod King and Andrew Mayne’s Murder Theory. In between, I am reading Hitler in Los Angeles and tomorrow I will begin on Galbraith’s (Rowling) Lethal White. All of which indicates I am desperate for excitement.

I think I mentioned that I am losing my hair as a side effect of chemotherapy. This morning, while examining the recently exposed skin on my rapidly balding head, Naida noticed a large scar leading to a depression in my skull at the back of my head. This is a mystery. I have no recollection of ever suffering an injury to my head. Could I have forgotten it? Not likely. Could I have repressed it? Possibly. But why?

On Wednesday we set off for San Francisco for my infusion treatment. The surgeon reported that the tumor is still entwined with my cartroid artery and I would need additional chemo treatments before an operation would be feasible.

As usual, we were guests of Peter and Barrie who’s hospitality and kindness the I could never repay. Hiromi and my granddaughter arrived bringing us gifts and joy.
IMG_4428
Amanda, Peter, and Pookie.

 

That night, while taking the dogs out into the backyard, Naida slipped on the wet steps and fell and injured her head, arm, and lower back. Nothing appeared broken, but she was sore and woozy for several days thereafter.

The next day, not too much to report there, I slept through most of it. My grandson Anthony arrived that evening bringing additional joy to my life.
IMG_0929
Anthony and Old Baldie

 

The next morning Jason dropped by to see us off. It made me happy to see him. Naida and I left SF at about 10:30 and drove back to Sacramento and the Enchanted Forest. Exhausted by the trip we retired to bed early.

HRM broke his wrist. It had something to do with picking up the mail and slippery steps. I drove into the Golden Hills. He was in good spirits. Several members of the Scooter Gang were keeping him company. He was most distressed that the injury would prevent him from his weekly snowboarding trips to Heavenly.

There seems to be less and less activity in my life now — mostly sitting in the chair playing with my computer, napping and watching the news or old movies on the television — no exercise to speak of — no real boredom either — just settling into somnolent eighties where one simply waits. Still, at night, lying in each other’s arms remains even more pleasant than ever. I am happy then — the creeping eternal shadow seems softer and less forbidding somehow.

Well, after a week where I could barely get out of bed, I am now feeling much better. I can walk across the room without becoming so dizzy it was all I could do to keep from falling down. Outside, pre-spring seems to have arrived in the Enchanted Forest. The Japanese Cherry trees are in bloom and the weather definitely getting warmer.

Rain continues day after dreary day. Good for the snowpack and the reservoirs. Not so good for old men who like to walk through the forest for exercise. Nevertheless, despite the gloomy weather and my maladies I am quite happy if somewhat restrained. I live with someone who I enjoy spending the day with sitting side by side silently working away on our computers and at night holding tightly to each other as though nothing else matters.

I have not seen HRM for about a week now. I miss him. I miss the word games we play and watching him experience the excitement and difficulties of adolescence.

For those who have been following the saga of the Mysterious Orb, it finally seems to have disappeared. | have searched for it around the neighborhood but it seems to have gone. I will miss it. I somehow felt more secure having that odd orb looking over us.

The days go by and the rains continue. The Russian River has overflown its banks and flooded several towns. Well, as I wrote this the sun came out for a few moments.

On Friday, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and his friends and drive them wherever. HRM told me he broke up with his girlfriend Camille. He said that he had to call her every day and other things but preferred to hang with his friends. “When I get older I can pay more attention to girls and girlfriends. Right now, I like what I am doing,” he added.

HRM, Big Jake, and Little Jake and Caleb piled into the car. I dropped little Jake off at his house and the rest of them at Dick’s place warning them not to get into too much trouble. I then went to have a hot dog and a root beer float at A&W. As I was finishing up my gourmet lunch H called me and asked me to drive them around again so I returned drove Big Jake home and HRM and Caleb to Caleb’s house where H would spend the weekend.

H told me a story on the way. At school that day, his Language Arts teacher told the class that the teachers have the right to award detention to anyone who comes even one-second late to class and then asked if there were any questions. H raised his hand and announced that he thought that would be very mean for someone to do so if the person was only a second late. She accused him of calling her a mean person. He said he was not accusing her of doing something like that but that he was only expressing his opinion that anyone who did that would be mean. While I was happy to see him stand up for what he thought was right and told him so, I was not sure how wise it was.

I am not sure what is happening as he grows older, he used to be the teacher’s pet and generally won the annual prize for deportment and behavior, suddenly he seems to be becoming the spokesman for student’s rights. That’s ok I guess.

Yesterday I learned that the ex-model Winnie who lives in the Enchanted Forest also has been diagnosed with cancer of the lung and brain. I feel very bad for her. She is a bit older than me and used to flirt with me. Either that or she thought me interesting because I was odd or somewhat more — I cannot think of the word… crude comes to mind — so maybe she thinks I am more interesting than the few other men in the subdivision.

On Saturday, we attended the weekly coffee at the Nepenthe Community Center. We haven’t taken part in this weekly event for a couple of weeks now. Many of the usual attendees were there — the two spies, the leader, the artist, the Big Guy, and a few others. Naida and the artist had a long discussion about their life among the Mormons. The artist who was born in a Mormon settlement in Wyoming told about her marriages to Mormon men one of whom had other wives or girlfriends, I couldn’t tell which. Naida mentioned the sex dances Mormon teenagers were encouraged to attend in Idaho when she lived there and her great grandparents escape from Salt Lake City.

Today I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and a couple of the Scooter Gand. SWAC had returned to Thailand yesterday and HRM was now a latch key child. He told me about school. He has become more outspoken with his teachers, questioning their rules. Expected, yes. Teenage boys quest for independence. Well, now I worry. It is his14th birthday on Thursday. Unfortunately, I will be in San Francisco. Nevertheless, I plan to hold a small party for him on Saturday after I return.
Tomorrow we leave again for San Francisco and another chemotherapy infusion

 

 

B. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

 

“You have fled before, Hodder Tom, haven’t you? You have the haunted look of a man who has bolted in every direction, a man who has fought every adversary and somehow never run out of enemies, a man who has plotted himself nameless, friendless, and nearly lifeless. You already know what happens when you run. You know you cannot panic your way to freedom; you cannot worry yourself home. You must face your fears. The only way out is inward.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel). Orbit.

While reading the third book in Bancroft’s The Books of Babel, a series I have commented on previously (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/not-a-book-report-because-i-am-going-to-take-a-ship-instead/) I came across the above paragraph. For some reason, it affected me like few statements have. Again I am not sure why.

As some know, I have a habit of posting in T&T quotes of statements I come across that I find interesting. I got this approach from Don Neuwirth who would carry a notebook with him in which he would copy down aphorisms he read or heard that impressed him. I thought that was a good habit to get into. Since I do not keep a journal, or rather T&T is my journal, I post those I like here.

The series, classified as a Steampunk Fantasy, concerns the adventures and misadventures of a schoolteacher and his wife who travel on their honeymoon to the Tower as tourists. The tower, a gigantic edifice juts far into the sky. Each level contains a kingdom. On the lower levels, the several kingdoms are dedicated to a different attraction or vice intended to captivate the tourist — most often to their ruination and despair. At the top of the tower, far in the clouds resides a strange and secretive person called the Phoenix who develops most of the machines that keep the Tower running.

I consider the series to be one of the better fantasy efforts I have come across and perhaps the best among the steampunk slice of the genre. Goodreads describes the first book in the series as follows:

The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

By the third book, our newlyweds, separated in the vast market that surrounds the entrance to the Tower, still have not gotten back together although they each have had many splendid, frightening and often painful adventures as well as few affairs.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

I am clearly upset about the state of politics in this country. The destruction of democratic societies rarely come from without. They most often are swamped by the oligarchs of wealth before they are finally done in by foreign enemies or just expire like summer flowers in autumn.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

Dick just returned from a ten day trip to Italy. I spoke to him a few days after he arrived back in EDH. Among other places, he spent a few days in Florence which he enjoyed a lot. That reminded me of one on the many times I visited that city. It was about twenty years ago and I was driving along the Lungarno on my way to The Hotel Principessa something or other where I usually stayed because of its wonderful view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Boboli Gardens that rise up behind the Pitti Palace when passing a small plaza I saw a crowd milling about in front of an elegant old hotel (I no longer remember its name). There were television cameras sent up also. I suggested to the woman I was traveling with that we stop and find out what it was all about. We got out of the car and I asked one of the cameramen what was happening. They told me that the son of the deposed King of Italy had just married some Italian heiress and they, the King himself and his court were staying at the hotel. Everyone was waiting for the happy cow-le and the King to arrive.

Now, at that time the King who lived in Spain was prohibited from visiting Italy, but the prohibition was waived for the wedding so everyone was eager to get a glimpse of him. So we decided to stay also

A few minutes later two large limousines and several other cars drove into the plaza and parked. From the back of the first car the bridegroom, (the Prince), and the bride (the heiress) exited. The Prince who was reputed to be gay scurried quickly into the hotel. His wife, the heiress, who I had learned could be quite demanding began ordering about some of the people from the other cars contains the luggage. From the front of the limousine, a tall grey-haired man wearing a blue blazer and a shirt without a tie exited and stood by us watching the activity. Believing him to be the chauffeur, we began talking with him. He spoke English quite well. I thought it would be fun for us to stay in this hotel with the royal family. It certainly would make a good story.

The old gentleman urged us to do so and volunteered to help us get a room. So, in we went and after a few whispers to the man at the desk we had a room. It was then one of the harried retainers approached our new friend and humbly said, “Your Excellency, your room is ready.” And that was when we realized that he was not the chauffeur but the King himself.

Anyway, we checked into our room, a rather large lovely old elegant room. The room was directly above the newlyweds suite. While standing on the balcony we could hear the bride shouting at someone or two for a while.

That evening we went to dinner in the hotel. The newlyweds had left for a party in their honor somewhere else. The King and his court, however, did not join them but instead sat at a large table in the center of the dining room. We were placed at a table near them. We ate a fabulous meal while the King shamelessly flirted with my date.

The next morning we left having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and with a story as well.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Logarithmic History on Top:
It is always a pleasure to drop into the blog Logarithmic History. Using a logarithmic scale mapped onto the course of one year the blog traces the History of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day. In case you are unfamiliar with logarithms and how they are applied here the author Doug Jones explains:

Other folks have proposed putting the history of the universe on a logarithmic scale; here I map that scale onto the course of one year. If you’re a bit hazy about logarithms, all you have to know is that each day of the year covers a shorter period in the history of the universe than the preceding day (5.46% shorter). January 1 begins with the Big Bang and covers a full 754 million years. January 2 covers the next 712 million years, and so on. Succeeding days cover shorter and shorter succeeding intervals in the history of the universe. At this rate, a given calendar date covers only a tenth as much time as a date 41 days earlier.

On this logarithmic scale, Earth is formed on January 20, trilobites arise toward the end of February, and dinosaurs meet their doom on April 6. The middle of the year finds Homo erectus giving way to early versions of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. October begins with King David and ends with Columbus. By December 7, we reach the year of the Beatles’ first LP (1963). December 31 covers just one year, 2017; calendar time and history-of-the-universe time finally coincide at midnight.

So, here is his entry for February. The history of the universe has progressed from the creation of the galaxies to the birth of the solar system to the early stirrings of life of earth.

(https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/between-darwin-and-saint-valentines-day/)

Between Darwin and Saint Valentine’s day

Yesterday was Darwin’s birthday (and Lincoln’s). Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Here’s a post appropriate for either day.

Imagine sex worked like this:

You’ve been feeling bad lately, getting sick a lot. You’re not at your best. You find someone who seems to be in better shape. One thing leads to another and you wind up acquiring body fluids from the other party — and picking up some new genes from them. The new genes help a lot in fighting off infection. You’re feeling better now.

Reproduction? That’s another matter, nothing directly to do with sex. When you reproduce, your offspring will carry all the genes you happen to have at the moment.

Also, I forgot to mention that you’re neither male or female — the gene exchange could have gone in the other direction if you’d both been in the mood. And your partner in the adventure above might not even have been the same species as you. (Just what counts as a species here isn’t well-defined.)

This is more or less how bacteria work out sex. (Joshua Lederberg got the Nobel Prize for figuring this out.) Eukaryotes (you’re one of them) mostly do it differently, combining sex and reproduction. It’s the story you learned in high school about passing on half your genes to a gamete (sex cell), which joins with another gamete to make a new organism.

Most eukaryotes also have two sexes. The best theory we have about why that got started goes like this: Most of the DNA in a eukaryote cell is in the nucleus. But a small fraction is in the mitochondria, little powerhouses outside the nucleus that started out as bacteria and got domesticated. Imagine that two gametes join together, and combine two sets of mitochondria. There’s a potential conflict here. Suppose your mitochondria have a mutation that lets them clobber your partner’s mitochondria. This is good (evolutionarily speaking) for the winning mitochondria, but very likely to be bad for the cell as a whole. Better for the cell as a whole is if one gamete, acting on instructions from the nucleus, preemptively clobbers all their own mitochondria, so that all the mitochondria come from just the other gamete. This is the beginning of what will eventually lead to a distinction between sperm and eggs, pollen and ovules, male and female. Which means you got all your mitochondrial DNA from your mom, something that will turn out to be important when we look later in the year at geneticists unraveling human prehistory. This is also an example of how selection at one level (within cells) can conflict with selection at another level (between cells). We’ll see such multilevel selection again and again, for example in the evolution of complex human societies.

Sex has to be highly advantageous, although we’re not sure exactly what the advantage is. The general answer is probably that an asexually reproducing organism almost never produces any offspring who have fewer harmful mutations than she has. But a sexually reproducing organism, passing on a random half of her genes to each of her offspring, can have some offspring with fewer harmful mutations, at the cost of having other offspring with more. There are various reasons (Muller’s ratchet, Kondrashov’s hatchet) why this could be evolutionarily advantageous.

In other words, with sexually reproduction, at least some of mum and dad’s kids can be less messed up than their parents; it’s asexually reproducing organisms that really embody Larkin’s dour verse …

Man hands on misery to man,

It deepens like a coastal shelf

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

… insofar as, when eukaryote species give up sex, they don’t seem to last long. Dandelions reproduce asexually: based on what we see in other organisms, they probably won’t be around for long, evolutionarily speaking. There’s one mysterious exception, tiny animals called bdelloid rotifers which have been reproducing asexually for tens of millions of years. For readers who are not bdelloid rotifers: Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow! We’ll have an appropriate evolutionary post up tomorrow.

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
It is those who stand and fight that die. Those that run and hide often live. Therefore, when confronted with danger or even a fairly serious challenge first run and hide and if that is impossible than fight as though your life depends on it.

 
C. Today’s Poem:
The poem was written by an injured afghani child in a hospital in Pakistan following the Russian retreat from Afghanistan.

My own village with green fields and high

When I see fields of wheat I remember
trees,
When I see a river I remember the rivers
Of my own province, Paghman.
When I see the mountains I remember the range
Of the Hindu Kush. I will never forget
My friends, nor how I went with them to the nearby hills,
Covered by green grass,
With hundreds of cattle grazing there;
And then we were forced to leave.

Shah, Tahir. Beyond the Devil’s Teeth: Journeys in Gondwanaland (p. 172). Secretum Mundi.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is a subculture in this country that seems to have no antecedent—a conflation of reality television, National Enquirer journalism, fundamentalist religion, militarism, and professional football. At the center is an adoration of celebrity, no matter how it is acquired or in what form it comes.”
Burke, James Lee. The New Iberia Blues: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 116). Simon & Schuster.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

 

You can make a periodic table of consonants.

phonemes

 

Across the top are the different places in the vocal tract where you block the flow of air. Along the left side are different ways of blocking the flow (stopping it completely –t-, letting it leak out –s-, etc.) The table can explain why, for example, we use in for intangible and indelicate, but switch to IM for impossible and imbalance. (The table contains sounds we don’t use in English and uses a special set of signs, the International Phonetic Alphabet, which assigns one letter per phoneme.) This is why a book title like The Atoms of Language makes sense (a good book by the way).

So sometimes the universe gets more complex because already existing stuff organizes itself into complex new patterns – clumps and swirls and stripes. But sometimes the universe gets more complex because brand new kinds of stuff appear, because a new particulate system comes online: elementary particles combine to make atoms, atoms combine to make molecules, or one set of systems (nucleotides to make genes, amino acids to make proteins) combines to make life, or another set of systems (phonemes to make words, words to make phrases and sentences) combines to make language.

(https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/)

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20150714_154344_711
HRM and Pookie

 

 

 

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Cold Tits 0002 (February 20,2013)

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

A. Update:

I wish to thank all of you who have inquired and expressed concern about my health these past few weeks. I appreciate it very much.

Some of you have asked me to update the status of my health. While I am happy to make an amusing story out of it, reporting on it makes me uncomfortable. To no little extent that discomfort is because I know that some of those reading this have suffered through much worse than I have. It is sufficient to report that today I feel better than I did yesterday and that I expect, at least for tomorrow, I will feel better than I do today. After that who knows.

On the other hand, I have no qualms about inflicting on you my rumination about what I see when I now look at myself in the mirror. I have never fully understood why, despite my militant self-centeredness, I have never liked looking at myself in the mirror. Perhaps it was because what I saw reminded me what little I had to be self-centered about.

A few days ago I happened to glance into the mirror and saw an old man looking back at me. Not the aging white male I saw a few weeks ago who struggled to slow the inevitable dimming of his mental and physical abilities, who hoped to see how whatever it was that interested him turned out and, who eagerly looked forward to doing something more, even if whatever it was was still hidden. Instead this old man looking back at me knew that the inevitable was already happening and all that can be done is to make it less uncomfortable, that whatever he wanted to see turn out, he probably would not, even if he lived for another 30 years. And, the urge to do something had been replaced with the all-encompassing satisfaction that comes from sitting on a park bench with his eyes closed and feeling the warm sun on his face.

B. A mysterious box:

Despite the lingering effects of the bad cold I had been experiencing, Hayden and I traveled with Stevie and Norbert to spend President’s day weekend in Mendocino with my sister MaryAnn and her husband George. Hayden and I stayed in the converted water tower on their property that we called “The Castle.”

Every morning he and I would get up earlier that the others and walk along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean watching the dawn sunlight march across the fields. On the second morning while walking through a wind-twisted mass of cypress trees that we called the “Hobbit Forest,” Hayden, as seven-year old boys often do, suddenly thrust his hand deeply on to a hollow log adjacent to the path upon which we were walking. Picturing poisonous spiders and snakes poised to chomp on his fingers, I demanded he get his hand out right away. As with most seven-year old boys, he ignored me and continued to root around until he pulled out a plastic box. Assuming it was part of a load of garbage someone had stashed in the tree, I told him to put it back before he become infected with whatever germs the refuse harbored. Instead he showed the box to me. Since it was translucent, I could see a written piece of paper mentioning an internet site called “Letterboxes North America.” The box, in addition to the note, contained a stamp with the word “live” on it, a small ink pad, a pen and a notebook with several pages of stamps and various messages. Believing it to be a clever example of guerrilla marketing for a craftsmen in nearby Fort Brag, I had him return the box to where he found it.

On the way back from our walk H. insisted we retrieve the box and take it back to the house; which we did and woke up Maryann and George to show them our treasure. Ultimately, through the wonders of the internet, we learned that we had stumbled on a cache placed there by a member of a loose association of people world-wide who hide these boxes so that other people can find them.

Apparently this all started 160 years ago in Dartmoor England where a gentleman hiking the moors thereabouts finished a bottle of whatever he was drinking and rather than simply discarding it, put a message in it and hid it in a tree. Other people who found the bottle and the message began to put their own messages in the bottle, including self-addressed post cards. Other bottles began appearing in various places around the moor and then ultimately world-wide. There is now even a web-site for the US.

We spent the next two days delightedly joining in, naming ourselves Team Haystack in honor of Hayden and searching out another box hidden by someone named, “Casper Ukulele” who had hidden a box under the stairs at the Casper Community Center.

DSCN0792

Hayden finds the letterbox.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Dragon’s breath:

“Yes,’ Spade growled. ‘And when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it.’ He released Cairo’s wrist and with a thick open hand struck the side of his face three times savagely.
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

Chapter 4:

I slunk down into the back seat of the taxi, my computer clutched to my chest as though it contained my soul. All I could see out the windows were the tops of the buildings going by and a glimpse now and then of the sky.

I was conflicted. On the one hand I made my monthly nut, and was now sitting here in the taxi with $1350 more than I had about an hour or so ago. On the other-hand, I was still shaking and in pain from my injured jaw. The money seemed inadequate recompense to being slapped around and threatened with death.

As usual when I am conflicted, frightened or riding in the back of a taxi trying to hide in the car’s transmission, I resort to bathing my consciousness in the soothing balm of fantasy: In this case Sam Spade fantasy, since I had thought about him briefly just before entering the building where I got my ass kicked. The Bogart Spade, not the little shit Segal who played Spade’s son in “The Black Bird.”

I admit I also liked Ricardo Cortez who played Sam in the first film. I especially liked the pre-code scene of the naked blond Bebe Daniels splashing about in the bath-tub while Sam tried to get rid of Iva Archer his murdered partner’s wife who he was also doing on the side.

I think Bebe Daniels as Bridget O’Shaughnessey was a lot better looking than Mary Astor. On the other hand, as a result of the censors, the pre-code exposed nipples of the boy-breasts favored by the stars of the depression era were replaced in the forties and fifties by inflated melons pressing against the straining fabric hiding their nips. This provided a whole generation of adolescent males with guilt-ridden bathroom diversions until in the sixties when Playboy showed us we could have both exposed nipples and bazungas with which to occupy our prime fantasy time.

Bogart-Spade would never let himself be slapped around like I was. Once he graduated from bad-guy supporting roles where I recall him at one time being slapped around by Edward G. Robinson, to leading man, I do not think Bogart ever got slapped around again. Usually he was doing the slapping. Which was a good trick for a skinny smart-mouth to pull off.

I’m sure Bogart would never shit his pants either. I could see that idiot Segal doing so. I pictured Bogart on the can wearing a white sleeveless undershirt, a fedora perched on his head, a cigarette hanging from his lip, one eye closed from the smoke, reading the San Francisco Chronicle. His pressed white cotton boxers riding on his knees, not dropped to bunch-up around his ankles and drag on the floor. Another thing, I am sure Bogart was never constipated. He would sit there as smooth and untroubled as can be, as though he had just swallowed a bottle of mineral oil.

Bogart was a man’s man. While filming “The African Queen” while all the other cast members suffered from dysentery, Bogart remained more or less healthy because he only drank whiskey. Like many men’s men, Bogart’s drinking and smoking resulted in him dying of cancer at the relatively young age of 57. That’s how you can tell a man’s man. After they breed, they kill themselves with booze, tobacco, guns or STD. You can always tell if you are in man’s country. If there are a lot of old men around, you know the whole society has gone pussy. Alas, I only smoke weed, am afraid of guns, use a condom and I throw-up if I am forced to drink Chardonnay. I believe I am doomed to spend the rest of my life hiding out on the floor of a taxi. I feel a lot more like Joel Cairo than Sam Spade.

Now that little dick Segal, he definitely was not a man’s man. He is still alive at 79. He always looked constipated, especially in that dud of a movie, The Black Bird. I pictured him leaning forward grunting; his face red with effort, crumpled blue boxers bunched around his sagging black socks and scuffed dark oxfords. He wasn’t even wearing an undershirt. UGH!

My reverie drifted away as it began to dawn on me that, in my terror and shame, I spent the last ten minutes of my life hiding from my panic and humiliation among images of grown men taking a shit. As the black hole of depression yawned wide below me into which should I fall I was convinced I would never emerge, I heard a voice calling me back from the brink.

“We’re here pal.”

It was the pal part that got to me. I realized for the first time that the driver of the taxi was white. My sense of reality was shredded completely. I threw him some money and ran into the building hoping the comfort of home would offer some protection from my impending physical and moral dissolution.

About twenty years ago, it an effort to gentrify SOMA, some enterprising developers bought up a few abandoned warehouses, turned them into lofts and sold them mostly to downtown businessmen for hideaways. I bought into the whole idea. It was great for a while.

As I opened the door, my cell phone vibrated against my hip. It had the same effect on me that the sounds flowing from the towers of Notre Dame had on the citizens of Paris when Quasimodo swung from the bells to taunt them.

DAILY FACTOID:

Recently:

“Max Planck comes up with an equation that works. In order to do so he has to make a “purely formal assumption.” And it is only half a decade later that Einstein realizes that the little h that appears in Max Planck’s equation is not a formal assumption or an “artifact” but instead tells us what is perhaps the most important thing about the guts of the universe.

For half a decade the first equation of quantum theory was there. But nobody knew how to read it.

It is this “what if we took this equation seriously?” factor that is, to my mind at least, the spookiest thing about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics. Take the h in Max Planck’s equation seriously, and you have the quantum principle–something that was not in Planck’s brain when he wrote the equation down. Take seriously the symmetry in Maxwell’s equations between the force generated when you move a magnet near a wire and the force and the force generated when you move a wire near a magnet, and you have Special Relativity–something that was not in Maxwell’s brain when he wrote down the equation. Take Newton’s gravitational force law’s equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass seriously and you have General Relativity–something never in Newton’s mind. And take the mathematical pathology at r = 2M in the Schwarzchild metric for the space-time metric around a point mass seriously, and you have black holes and event horizons.”
Brad De Long

One of the clearer expositions of how the “mathematics” of science actually works in practice. In other words, sometimes mathematicians and physicists have no idea what their equations really mean at the time they formulate them. That is what is truly freaky about mathematics when applied to physical phenomena. It works even when we do not know it.

Another example is that of Kepler when he proposed the three laws of motion among heavenly bodies that began modern mathematical physics. He believed he was “proving” God created harmonic relations among heavenly bodies. It was Newton years later who realized what Kepler actually proved was how and why things moved in nature. Go figure.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

state_tax_by_income_level

State taxes are usually regressive. The poor and the middle class pay substantially more than the rich. That is part of the reason why, even if we include the more progressive federal income tax, the rich often pay less in taxes overall as a share of total income than the poor. That is also why, no matter what the so-called “proper” role of government may be or how small we make government, the rich still pay less of their income and substantially less of their wealth to support those expenditures than do the poor and middle classes [the 99%].

A point about income and wealth with reference to rich and poor or what we now call the “middle class.” In fact today in America it can be said that if you are not rich you are poor. The differences among those poor is between those that suffer from want and those that do not. Politics in the US in the early part of the Twenty-first Century can be described as based upon how many of those poor who do not suffer want [the middle class] can be persuaded that they are better off taking from those poor in want than from the rich [it certainly is easier].

Taxes, in the US at least, fall almost exclusively on income. The disparity between the rich and those not so rich is significantly greater in terms of wealth than in income, yet on this they are taxed hardly at all. In fact even a minor flat tax on wealth would rapidly eliminate any deficit concerns one may have no matter ones feelings regarding the “proper” size of government [It would also force the wealthy to convert, non productive wealth to productive income producing assets]. In fact, not only is wealth generally not taxed in the US but income from wealth [e.g. dividends and capital gains] are generally taxed at a significantly lesser rate than income from labor or work. The effect of this is to increase the value of wealth and lower the value of labor.

The only major taxes that can be considered to apply to wealth are “property” taxes and “excise” taxes on luxury purchases. As for property taxes, in many jurisdictions they do not exist or are at best nominal. In California thanks to Proposition 13 they are rigged to favor large landowners [generally the wealthy].

Keep in mind, even if we were to all agree that the proper role of government was restricted to just defense and public safety, the current tax system is destined to inevitably lead to you losing your job and becoming poorer and a few [along with those they deem necessary for their happiness] having it all. These few fortunate people used to be called “royalty.” Today as a result of political semantic shell games they may be called something like “job creators.” Soon enough, one’s ability to enter the world of this economic élite will be as rare as a Thirteenth Century serf becoming the Duke of Gloucester.

B. Republican Chronicles:

1. What Republicans used to think about Labor Day:

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Before the Republican Party went insane.

2. What Republicans think about their own Party:

“When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”
Barry Goldwater

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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Burger was a conservative Republican.

TODAY’S CHART:

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I know most of you have wondered about this. Although no animal can run at the top speed indicated for more that a few minutes (if that much), only humans can run at as much as 1/3 top speed almost indefinitely. In other words, almost every land based animal on earth can, in the long run, be run down by humans.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

A. Portrait of a painting:

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B. Portrait of my sister:

photo

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

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1995: At the super maximum prison in Pelican Bay California, guards boiled an inmate named Vaughn Dortch alive.

Although it could be argued that this was merely an attempt to reduce the terrible overcrowding in California’s prisons, anyone with a name like Vaughn Dortch was probably white trailer trash and deserved to die.

By the way, you all may be pleased to learn that when California in 1980s began its massive prison expansion as part of the War on Drugs (about 80% of the prison population has been incarcerated for drug related violations), it embarked on the largest prison building program in the history of the world, larger that the Gulags and larger than World War II Germany.

Hooray for us. We’re number one. Thank God they did it in time though. Think of all the criminals that now would be walking our streets today if they had not.

The construction and operation of prisons was one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing segments of governmental expenditures during the past two decades in California, and one of the major reasons for California’s fiscal crisis. Yet the Republicans in the State Legislature (and some of the Democrats) staunchly refuse to cut this massive public welfare and spending program as part of any proposal for reducing public debt through reduction of governmental expenditures. Why you ask? Public interest or public safety, perhaps? No, the Prison employee unions are some of the largest contributors of campaign funds to the Party. Republicans supporting, a public employee union? If it gets them elected, why not? On the Federal level the same approach to cutting wasteful military expenditure depends on which party receives the most campaign contributions from the defense industry.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) CALIFORNIA:

I do not know if it was because I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle this morning with its news reportage values even lower than the, Bangkok Post or my residence in a foreign country has atrophied my appreciation of the subtleties of my native culture, but I could find no news, even of a humorous kind, worth repeating. This I found disconcerting since it was Sunday and having nothing better to do, I assiduously worked through even the enormous quantity of advertising inserts. By the way, who reads the advertising inserts except the bored and hopeless and they are not going to buy anything anyway?

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) AMERICA:

I guess I should begin with my departure from the condemned building in Bangkok that was my residence for the past two months. At 8:30 AM, Hayden, the maid and I were picked up by “Uncle Ute” and taken to the airport. Uncle Ute is the policeman boyfriend of SWAC’s brother Nong. We loaded 4 large red suitcases and 4 pieces of “carry-on” bags at least one of which contained enough food to satisfy any cravings or hunger pains we may experience during our trip.

We arrived at the airport and met up with SWAC and “Uncle Scott,” a casual friend of SWAC’s. SWAC also had two carry-ons and an enormous suitcase of a powered blue color.

We were also met by a man and a woman in uniform. The woman, introduced to us as SWAC’s cousin, appeared to work for Thai customs. The man was airport security. SWAC explained that they were going to assist us through the process. SWAC was in her glory, happily demonstrating her power and connections to the maid, uncles Scott and Ute and, of course, me.

We checked in and SWAC, Hayden and I were ushered into the private confines of the VIP priority passport control station where the passport control officer pointed out the SWAC’s passport had expired. It was an amazing transformation. SWAC, who up until then maintained a regal and imperious air as though she was the member of some royal familiar another, collapsed into the bewildered helplessness of the farmer’s daughter, that she actually is, visiting the big city for the first time.

It was agreed that I would continue on with Hayden and she would follow later after resolving her passport problem.

The flight was long and uneventful, except for Hayden’s discovery of a little boy of his same age as him in the seat in front of us. They bonded, much to the discomfort of everyone sitting around us as they yelled and giggled and climbed over and under the seats.

We arrived and with two luggage trolleys piled high with the over large suitcases. As a result, we were singled out for meticulous luggage inspection by the US Customs Service that took over an hour.

After two days together in San Francisco during which Hayden and I occupied ourselves in various activities that would only appeal to very young boys and very old men, SWAC arrived. She was transported from the Airport to where Hayden and I were staying in a large white pickup truck driven by “Uncle Joe,” in order to collect Hayden and luggage mountain. (Why would anyone buy a “white” pick-up truck?)

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Vince returned to his office a little after noon and stopped by the desk of Nina, his administrative assistant as secretaries are called now, and asked her to order a BLT sandwich and a Coke as he planned to eat lunch working at his desk. Nina informed him that she had received a message from Alaska, that the bush pilot they had retained to fly into the fishing camp where Charley Bowman was vacationing radioed that when he arrived there the other patrons of the camp reported that Charley had not returned from his hike to his favorite fishing spot and that a search had been organized to try to find out what had happened to him.

Vince stared as her while he tried to control the burning sensation he was beginning to feel in his empty stomach. “Well, let me know immediately if there is any news. Also I am going to be quite busy for the next hour or so and I do not want to be disturbed by anything, unless of course it is news about Charley. Also, let Ray know I want him in my office with the files from Sam’s at 2 PM.”

He stalked into his office threw himself into his chair and muttered “shit” then dialed David’s extension. He was determined not to bear the cost of Ike’s legal fees. He told David that he wanted the Executive Committee to approve his hiring of Ike to represent him and their agreement for the firm to bear the cost. David immediately objected, but Vince was not above threatening him with his immediate resignation if he did not agree. He then telephoned each member of the Executive Committee until he had enough votes and stopped, drafted a memorandum of the minutes of the telephone meeting of the EC and asked Nina to deliver it to the EC members he had called and wait until each one signed it.

He then put in a call to the managing partner of the Washington DC office. Sam’s death and the general economic distress of the firm had prompted several of the partners in the DC office to threaten to leave for another firm. He spent about a half hour outlining his plans for turning around the firms fortunes and asking the partners in the office to allow him some time to get this all done. As expected, the DC managing partner countered with an attempt to extort the firm for a greater share of firm revenue for the DC partners. Vince promised that he would discuss it with other members of the EC and get back to him. He had no intention of doing so, for now.

He then called his office manager, Quentin Cooper and scheduled an hour meeting with him at 2:30 that afternoon to review the firms financial status and other administrative issues.

It was now two PM and t his office door swung open without a knock or any other announcement and the ambiguously dressed but ever confident Ray walked in pulling a hand truck piled high with file boxes.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Privatize this:

“What we have today with the intelligence business is something far more systemic: senior officials leaving their national security and counterterrorism jobs for positions where they are basically doing the same jobs they once held at the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies–but for double or triple the salary and for profit. It’s a privatization of the highest order, in which our collective memory and experience in intelligence–our crown jewels of spying, so to speak–are owned by corporate America.”
Tim Shorrock, Spies For Hire.

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

“Corporations would not exist if their investors had to assume the same economic risks as any other individual in a free society.”

c. Today’s Chart:

Annual Expenditure in Dollars

Basic Education for all $6 billion*


Cosmetics in the USA $8 billion

Water and sanitation for all $9 billion

Ice-cream in Europe $11 billion

Reproductive health for all women $12 billion

Perfumes in Europe and the USA $12 billion

Basic health and nutrition $13 billion


Pet Foods in Europe and the USA $ 35 billion

Business Entertainment in Japan $17 billion

Cigarettes in Europe  $ 50 billion

Alcoholic drinks in Europe $ 105 billion

Narcotic drugs in the world $ 400 billion

Military spending in the world $ 780 billion

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Every bureaucracy seeks to increase the superiority of the professionally informed by keeping their knowledge and intuitions secret. Bureaucratic administration always tends to be an administration of ‘secret sessions’, in so far as it can, it hides its actions and knowledge from criticism…The concept of the “official secret” is the specific invention of bureaucracy.”
Max Webber, Economy and Society.

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

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