Posts Tagged With: Sir Terry Pratchett

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 31 Capt. Coast 0008 (May 10, 2019)

 
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“War is for defending ideals, not exercising them.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel). Orbit.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
This morning I woke up and bleary-eyed looked into the mirror. I was surprised by what I saw there — something I haven’t seen for about five months. There on my upper lip hair was growing. I felt mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, now that my Chemotherapy has ended, this bit of fuzz on my upper lip signified my hair might be growing back and that is good. On the other hand, it means that I will have to begin shaving again and getting haircuts — Or, I could just let everything grow out. More decisions.

After the Barr testimony before the Senate a day or two ago, I get the impression that the White House is under siege again. The question I have is, why is He Who Is Not My President so frightened of having the Mueller report, his taxes, and business records released? It is difficult to imagine that his opposition to their release is simply a question of principle.

Also, is it just my imagination or does He Who Is Not My President seem to vociferously attack every potential Democratic opponent he may meet in the 2020 Presidential election except Bernie Sanders?

The weekend has arrived and so has Nikki. The weather is sunny and warm. The azaleas are still blooming. Naida busily works on volume two of her memoir. I sit here at my computer wondering what I will do today knowing full well I have ignored or forgotten things I should be doing. That is one of the aspects of arriving at the age of decrepitude, doing things are less important than having pleasant thoughts.

I drove up into the now once again Golden Hills and parked at the skatepark. Nikki met me there and we gossiped while waiting for Hayden and the scooter gang to show up. A large contingent of the gang soon arrived, including HRM, Jake, Caleb and a host of others. I imagined them all on motorcycles roaring into a tiny town in the foothills somewhere like something from a biker flick of the 60s. I shuddered and put the image out of my mind.

After a long time spent meeting and greeting all the adolescents on scooters that descended on us, HRM, Jake, Caleb and I piled into the car Nikki was driving and went off in search of a pizza. Milano’s, H and my favorite pizza place, seems to have closed permanently (sob). We found another place nearby, ordered the pizza and returned to Dick’s house. The adolescents disappeared into the basement to devour their pizza and play video games. Nikki and I retired to the back deck to sit in sun, eat ours, and continue our gossip session. After exhausting the scuttlebutt and gobbling down a few slices of pizza, I left and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

On the drive back, I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I am failing HRM and that I simply am unable to give him the counsel, guidance, security, and friendship that he needs and deserves. Of the three children I have contributed to raising, I believe that somehow my efforts to guide them to happy and successful lives were horribly inadequate. It’s just another load of guilt we add to the pack on our backs that gets heavier and heavier as we grow older. Sometimes I think it is the crushing weight of accumulated guilt and failure that kills us in the end.

The weekend brought with it relief from my fit of melancholy. Perhaps it is because I keep lengthening my walks — you know, boosting my serotonin or dopamine or whatever. Perhaps it is because Naida wrote me a lovely poem — no one has ever done that for me before. Perhaps, it is because I was amused by attending a meeting at the clubhouse to meet those running for the Nepenthe HOC board — it seemed most of the people there favored the election of “anyone but the incumbents.” Of the pressing issues discussed, everyone seemed to agree they all hated leaf blowers. Naida suggested they be banned as they had been in LA.

Last night, Naida gave me a marvelous ring. It was made by one of her uncles, a prominent leader in the Methodist church. Naida said that when he was not doing minister things he would often wander into the desert looking for gemstones that he would bring home and, in a workshop in his basement, fashion them into jewelry. He made the ring from silver that he fashioned into lacework in which he set a remarkable opal he had found somewhere in the desert. The stone itself flashes through the spectrum from brilliant turquoise to a spectacular fiery red when light shines on it. I love it.
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I have noticed, after reading the last few T&T posts, my life has become dreadfully dull. Not traveling, wrestling with a crisis, or suffering through a real or imagined emotional or physical disaster makes retelling the day to day plod of an old man’s life tedious. After all, how many ways can one describe spending his days, reading the newspaper, checking his email and watching old movies on television? On the other hand, except for these fits of boredom and impatience, I am quite content and happy with my life as a grumpy old man starring at the end of his existence. It could be worse. I could be an adolescent again or I could be working in the Trump White House.

Today I drove back into the Golden Hills, picked up HRM and Big Tall Long Haired Jake at the Skate Park and drove them to the house where I left them after imparting to them today’s words of wisdom. “Remember.” I told them, “always keep on truckin.”

The next day HRM called me and asked me to pick him and Jake up again after school. I did. This time, after a brief stop at Dick’s house, I drove them to Caleb’s house in order for Caleb to give Jake his birthday present since it was Jake’s fifteenth birthday today. I then drove them back to Dick’s house where they picked up their bicycles and pedaled off to practice with the EDH mountain bicycling team.

 

 

B. OFF AGAIN TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
Another beautiful sunny day. While Sacramento is no Paradise, here in the Enchanted Forest nestled between that city’s slurbs and a gentle curve of the picturesque American River this morning broke as close to that as can be and still not be considered a dream. Alas, we spent the morning rushing around preparing to leave for the foggy Great Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. That preparation included getting Boo-boo settled with the dog-sitter. He wasn’t happy.
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That night at Peter and Barrie’s house where we spent the night, Barrie prepared a delightful meal that featured pasta with a sauce of garlic, butter, parsley, lemon, and topped with asparagus. It was accompanied by chilled Prosecco. (It has only been in the last few years that drinkable prosecco has been imported from Italy.)

They had invited a friend to join us for dinner. He was an aspiring author and wanted to discuss with Naida his literary ambitions and get her advice on publishing. He hoped to publish several works including a play about the travails of a man named Thomas White who had homes in San Francisco, Mexico and Thailand. He was accused by several alleged victims (boys) of having who sex with them when they were underage. He was tracked down in Thailand extradited to Mexico where he was tried, convicted and jailed. After spending almost seven years in jail White learned that the attorney who represented the alleged victims and reaped several millions of dollars in payoffs, he along with his accomplice as well as one of the underaged youths were convicted in California of murdering the target of another scam. The alleged young victim also confessed to lying about sexual contact with White. With the new evidence, he was released from jail but died soon afterward.

We had an enjoyable evening listening to the discussion of things literary and the pitfalls of publication. Over dinner, we all told stories. Peter told several about the early days of the Coastal Conservancy. I could not remember much about the things that he talked about although I was a major actor in the drama or more appropriate comedy. It seems my memory lately resembles a ragged lace curtain blowing in the breeze — more holes than substance.

I told the story of the developer who had been stymied by Denise, my wife at the time, in his plans to build a large spec house in our neighborhood and who had shot and killed his two investor threatening to withdraw their financing for the development. He then, gun in hand, jumped into his car and drove up into the Twin Peaks area, presumably to do to Denise and I what he had done to his investors. At the corner down from our house, I guess he thought better of the idea or perhaps he was stricken with guilt and decided to shoot himself rather than us.

As we finished dinner, Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda showed up bringing dessert, a wonderfully light cake and strawberries dipped in chocolate.
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The next morning, we drove to the hospital for my immunotherapy treatment. The nurse explained that the immunotherapy was intended to halt reactivation of the cancerous cells that still remain in the tumor. Most of the time, however, was spent with the nurse and Naida discussing books and book clubs.

After the treatment, we drove home directly.

 

 

 

MOPEY’S MEMORIES:

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES: The depressing state of the American airline industry; two days in Orvieto; and a bunch of Giacomini’s.
June 2011

The following morning we left for LAX and our flight to Italy.

The depressing state of the American airline industry is additional evidence that the terrorists won. It was not the taking down of buildings, the killing of Americans or airplanes falling from the sky that was the goal of their attacks, but the subtle certainty of their understanding of the American psyche was their actual weapon. Their focus was to destroy the American economy by knowing precisely the reaction of America’s conservative elite’s thirst for power and profit. And we fell into the trap. Instead of making ourselves even stronger economically at home we wasted American treasure and dollars in unnecessary wars in the deserts of the middle east until we rewarded our attackers their victory, destruction of our economy. I consider the architects of our response nothing less than cynical traitors who wrapped themselves in the flag for personal benefit and power.

The American sad state of Airline travel is small but significant evidence of the extent of the terrorist success.

Anyway, following an especially uncomfortable flight, I arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport with swollen legs, aching back and a foul temper. We were met by Nikki, who had arrived from Chicago a few hours earlier.

After about two hours of trying to secure a rent-a-car for our trip to Milan during which we experienced the full fury of Italian efficiency, we set off.

Within minutes it became obvious that we were not going to make the 4 or so hour drive to Milan that evening as both SWAC and I began to complain to Nikki of our various discomforts. At my suggestion, we agreed to spend the night in Orvieto a small hilltop city not far off the Autostrada.

As we entered the town, SWAC became quite excited. She thought she recognized the town as the site of George Clooney’s escapades in the movie “The American” or some such.

We located a pleasant B&B called “Las Palmas,” dropped off our luggage and set off in search of dinner which we found at an attractive restaurant a few doors away. Following a very enjoyable meal and the downing of two liters of local red and white wines among the three of us, we stumbled back to our respective rooms and to sleep.

The next morning we checked out of the B & B and set off in search of the Duomo as well as to hunt for the locations of scenes in the film that SWAC might recall.

Orvieto’s Duomo is an interesting church with a large Romanesque interior and Italian gothic façade decorated with large Bas-reliefs, statues, and glittering mosaics. On the piers, about 30 feet high are carved a series of Bas-reliefs depicting biblical stories from the Old and New Testament that along with the view from the city walls are the towns glory.

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The Facade of the Duomo in Orvieto

 

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Orvieto

 

Orvieto like many of the hill towns in this part of Italy specialize in a type of pottery called Faience. Each town promotes in a slightly different design on the pottery and ever since Faience pottery became beloved of collectors, each town has developed its own pottery “artist.” In Orvieto, the renowned artist is the daughter of the owner of a pottery shop on the Plaza del Duomo called Giacomini.
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Giacomini’s

For those with knowledge and experience with the California Coastal Commission, yes they are the relatives of the late beloved suspender wearing, rotund, ex-Marin County Supervisor and Coastal Commissioner, Gary Giacomini sometimes also referred to as “Farmer Brown”.

Gary was an ardent environmentalist as long as it did not interfere with his and his family’s economic and political ambitions.

I spent about a half an hour swapping “Gary” stories with the family before we departed to search for the supposed locations of scenes from the movie, take photographs and return to the Autostrada to complete our journey to Milan.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 
The following was posted in T&T in 2011 before Faux News became the all-encompassing mouthpiece for the radical right it is today. It is interesting to note, however, that in eight years many of the pundits mentioned are still with us and would probably be ranked in the same categories were this poll to be taken again today. Of course, Russ Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and a few others deserve a category of their own — Deplorables will do.

2011: “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In their executive summary, the students note:

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

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

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Terry Pratchett on Top:

“Wen the Eternally Surprised.”

“Why was he eternally surprised?” And they are told: ‘Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.’”
Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 31). HarperCollins.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations
Trickle down economics is an enviable thing. It affords those who promote it the appearance of concern for the people — with no responsibility for delivering anything to them.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

Good Morning

In slow rhythm I awoke in a bundle
of comfort and peace made of arms and legs
and torsos in sync with your low-pitched
intake of breath from our air-pool, forehead
snug against cheek, and then our exhale moans
through my chest while somewhere deep
in our bundle a spark flares to another beat.

I love you tells only half what I feel
when you are the other half of me.
N.W.

 

 

D. Joey’s Mystery Novel:
My partially completed unfinished novel, Dominion, can be found at, https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/dominion-an-unfinished-and-never-published-novel/. Below is one of the draft chapters in which the main protagonist, Vince Biondi, is confronted by San Mateo County Sheriff Megs Polan.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL: “Dominion.” When Vince Meets Megs.

Chapter whatever:

Vince took into the office washroom the overnight suitcase he always kept available in his office in case he had to make a sudden short business trip or pulled an all-nighter like this one. He washed as best he could, shaved, changed his clothing and returned to his office just as Ray arrived to accompany him to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office. Ray had obviously been called by Ike and was dressed in what for him passed for business attire, pearl button earrings, a military-style camouflage jacket, matching camouflage pants and neon green Crocs on his feet.

When they arrived at the Sheriff’s office, they were immediately ushered into the office of Sheriff Megan (Megs) Polan, former beauty queen, bodybuilding champion and a rising star in local Republican politics. Vince and Ray sat in chairs across the hygienically clean desk behind which Megs sat enthroned like a medieval duchess. Her still super toned body so filled out her tan uniform that it looked painted on. She had curly auburn hair that hung down to her shoulders and the steely blue eyes of either a stone cold killer or paranoid schizophrenic. She did not rise to greet them or speak but leaned across her desk and pushed a transparent evidence bag containing a small piece of paper towards them. As she bent forward, Vince caught a glimpse of cleavage struggling to escape the casually unbuttoned shirt. He also noticed the large black pistol riding high on her hip. Vince disconcerted that he found himself turned on, covered his embarrassment by dropping his eyes to the proffered evidence bag and studying its contents.

Inside the bag was a piece of paper torn from a small spiral bound notebook and on it, written in a shaky hand, was the message, “If anything should happen to me, call Vincent Biondi,” along with Vince’s personal mobile phone number.

“So Mr. Biondi,” Megs intoned in her surprisingly whiskey edged voice, “what can you tell me about this note and what may have happened to Mrs. Stephanie Coign last night?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Or an amicable pair,” said Sam. “Sorry?” “In math, that’s what we call two numbers each of which is equal to the sum of the divisors of the other. The smallest ones, 220 and 284, were regarded by the Pythagoreans as symbols of true friendship.”
Hill, Reginald. The Stranger House (p. 191). HarperCollins.

Consider telling your bestie, “I am 220 to your 284.” How long do you think your friendship will last? The Pythagoreans were always a pretty strange group. On the other hand, closer to our time, even Albert Einstein can appear somewhat otherworldly:

“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”
Albert Einstein

Try telling that to your bestie.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joey 0003 (April 10 2014)

 

“Nil mortifi, sine lucre. Remember. No killing without payment.”
(Motto of the Assassins Guild.)
Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld) (p. 62). Harper Collins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

It is the season of the Swimming Cult. About two hundred other parents, various family members and I attended the orientation for the Sierra Sharks swim team that I signed HRM up for. It felt more like we were sending the kids to reform school than to an enjoyable athletic adventure. They seemed to have considerably more interest in what jobs the parents sign up for than in the welfare of the swimmers.

I agreed be responsible for checking the swimmers conformity to the rules as they make their lane turns during the meets. I intend to allow considerable opportunity for innovation.
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Hosts of California Poppies are blooming gold against the deep green or the hills. Mustard fields, a bright yellow ,have joined them. In the late afternoon from the rocking chair on the deck I watch hummingbirds and bees feed on the flowering trees.
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Today I saw five people walk past the house. Shocked, I stood in the driveway staring at them with my mouth open. One of them, a middle-aged man saw me and waved before continuing on out of view. They were followed by the postman in his little white truck who stopped by our post box on the side of the road and filled it with advertisements and offers of untold riches.
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I miss Thailand. Although it is not what it used to be and in a sad state of decline, it still has a certain seedy electric excitement much like the Las Vegas Strip. Now don’t get me wrong, El Dorado Hills is quite nice. Some magazine just ranked it the seventh best place in America to raise a family. But let’s face it, who wants to spend all their time someplace certified for family values. That’s like watching only G rated movies.

For example, in Bangkok each morning during the mile or so walk from my apartment to the health club I am almost guaranteed to see or experience the following: at least three offers of sexual congress, one of which will be from someone of uncertain gender; a fight between two ladies of the night complete with tearing off of clothes and pulling of hair; one person lying on the sidewalk in a coma or dead; a dozen or so rats scurrying away from my feet as I walk along; packs of soi dogs so mangy, flea ridden and rabid that should they ever chance upon a PETA meeting the participants would shoot them on sight; one or more farangs (Westerners), partly clothed and drunk, vomiting into the gutter; a rupture in the sidewalk every five feet or so that should I step on it wrong I would break an ankle or pitch into a sewer that runs underneath; several sidewalk stands purveying the latest in vibrator technology and pharmaceutical breakthroughs in male virility enhancement; other stands selling every possible mechanism for killing another human being that does not require gunpowder or dynamite; every sort of pirated good you can conceive of; food stands and sidewalk cafe’s selling almost every kind or food you would or would not want to eat; a hundred or so bars and go-go places including one specializing it BJ’s and another in anal sex; an equal number of massage parlors; a bazillion cars all stopped solid in the daily mother of all traffic jams and another bazillion motor bikes many carrying more than two passengers. Oh yeah, a lot of noise and air so thick with pollutants that it takes at least 10 minutes off your life for each breath you take. Now and then there is a political demonstration of some sort with the participants wearing either red or yellow shirts bitching about something I don’t understand. Police and soldiers heavily armed with about every weapon imaginable lounging around the side streets in great numbers as I pass by. All this backed by a huge unending series of monoliths containing hotels, office buildings and high-priced condominiums impassively reflecting in their mirrored sides the turmoil on the streets below.

In El Dorado Hills about the only things that change are the clouds.
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B. POOKIES DREAM (continued):

A great brown and grey cloud billowed at the far end of the valley through which plunged a stampede of animals. Not like the great Serengeti migration where large herbivores run the gauntlet of predators but a stampede of all sorts of animals, herbivore and predator alike. Elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, wild pigs and warthogs, even monkeys and chimpanzees plunged down the valley toward us. It looked a lot like the start of the SF Bay to Breakers race. I was so frightened I considered waking myself up. But recalling Mama’s calming words, I plopped down on the nearest rock, my heart pounding almost as loud as the the sounds of the hooves and paws plunging toward us.

The herd split into two, each half passing the rock outcropping on opposite sides. The others on the rocks with me clapped and laughed. Suddenly a large male lion all ruff and fangs detached itself from the herd and sprang up the rocks right toward me. It swerved just before it reached me, brushed by and bounded over the top or the outcropping to rejoin the stampede leaving me little worse for wear other than a slightly strained sphincter.

A rhinoceros bumped out of the pack stumbled up the rocks a few feet, fell down and struggled to get up again. A child sitting nearby leaned over and patted it on its horn. The beast chuffed, backed itself down and ran off.

After the animals passed leaving only the rumble of their passage further down the valley and swirling clouds of dust, everyone on the rocks clapped and cheered like the Forth of July crowds after the fireworks.

We then all walked off into the woods until we came to a stream. Everyone dove in to clean off the dust and dirt. Some removed their clothing and others jumped in clothes and all. I decided to explore the stream a bit and walked away until I could no longer hear their cries and laughter. I soon came to a place where the stream widened out into a small pool. Across the way the stream entered the pool in a small two-step waterfall. The upper stories of the forest were pulled back around the pool allowing the sunlight to flood down glittering the spray of the waterfalls and turning the bottom of the pool iridescent.

The trees surrounding the pool although open to the sun at their tops crowded the pool in a seemingly impenetrable wall. Sitting or hopping about on the branches of the trees were hundreds of birds of every color and shape of feather. Where they did not hide the trees behind from view, thousands of butterflies fluttered about filling up the spaces. Strangely there was no sound of birds calling to one another, only the thrumming of their wings and the shushing of the waterfall. After a while I began to think the whole thing was spooky and so I returned to the village.
(To be continued)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

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

While I agree in principle with the sentiments expressed below, their intemperance probably results from living ones life, as the author does, in a thatched roof cottage on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean encased in almost constant fog.

“The theory of democracy holds that the most wretched is rightfully equal in status to the most powerful. This is history.

This is bunk.

Democracy is political theory reaching back 5,000 years to the pyramids for inspiration, an apex dependent on a broad foundation for its very existence. It is the few bearing down on the millions, and the millions feeling proud that they have provided an unparalleled view of the universe for the few. Democracy is a blizzard of options so thick it obscures the fact that there is no choice.

The cradles of democracy, London and Philadelphia, deployed genocide as a means of social engineering, in Australia and North America respectively, a full two hundred years before Hitler and Stalin began their pissing contest in Poland.

It is no coincidence that democracy evolved in tandem with the Industrial Revolution. Democracy and capitalism are symbiotic parasites. Democracy’s truth is not one man, one vote; it is one man, one dollar. Democracy’s truth is the abrogation of the individual’s rights in favor of collective procrastination, while those running the show exercise censorious control on behalf of the nervous disposition of the collective will….

Democracy has replaced religion as the opiate du jour. Democracy is the ostrich with its head in the sand and its ass in the air, begging to be taken in traditional pirate fashion. It is the subjugation of the people, by the people, for the people. It is the inalienable right to purchase your personalized interpretation of liberalized slavery. It is the right to sell your soul to the highest bidder. It is the right to pay for the privilege of being alive….

For some reason most dictators fail to realize that the trick to democracy is to have the slaves buy and sell themselves. The trick is to incentivize slaves to invest in their slavery, to pay for their own prisons, shackle themselves to brick and mortar.

The trick to democracy is in ensuring the slaves’ capacity for self-regulation is not taken for granted. The trick is to maintain the healthy tension between democracy and capitalism, so that one does not undermine or overshadow the other. The trick is to ensure that the slaves’ investment retains the illusion of value. Failure to do so will result in the slaves questioning the worth of their dollar and/or vote. The answer to this question is delivered in blood.

Masters of the Universe, do not say you weren’t warned.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

B. More reflections on fly fishing:

I am always flattered when someone responds positively to something I wrote in T&T. The following is from Naida West. As you know, I consider Naida’s historical trilogy, The California Gold Trilogy, to contain three of the finest historical novels written about America. Unlike others who merely place their story in another era, Naida’s involves mostly actual people taken from diaries and other sources to which she adds missing thoughts, motivations and dialogue and a character or two. Her characters are not kings and queens and the like, but real ordinary (and some not so ordinary) people who populated the banks of the Cosumnes River more than 100 years ago.

“I loved your reflections of fly fishing, such as this: “(Fly fishing) is a type of meditation for those who like to be uncomfortable while doing it and are infatuated with gear.”

Here’s a reflection of my own:

My lawyer father, a delightful actor on life’s stage if one winked at his pursuit of women and booze, grew younger before my eyes as he neared his favorite trout streams. By the time we left the road and bumped violently over bushes and rocky outcroppings seeking a place to stop, he was a wide-eyed child at Barnum and Bailey’s tent door. He bounced out to retrieve his gear while I steeled myself for a day of boredom with the windows up, my only excitement murdering mosquitoes that had snuck in while the door had been open. As the sun edged across the sky I poached in my sweat, recalling the day I explored a riverbank in shorts while he fished. The angry welts all over me, overlapping even under my shirt, just about killed me or so I thought. My dad had scoffed and said I should control the effects with my mind like he did. Umm, no. He admired swamis who barefooted across glowing coals.

Yet for an hour or two, coming and going, I had my dad to myself. At the wheel he recited story-length poems by Longfellow, Gray, Coleridge, and Poe, using theatrical emphasis to convey the meaning of outdated idioms. Between poems he answered questions about the words and phrases, always in an interesting way, repeating the stanzas where they were used. I memorized some of those poems before my mother & grandmother hauled us to CA, and in the 8th grade my teacher had me go from room to room in Carmel High School reciting them to classrooms of older kids. I saw my dad only a handful of times after we left Idaho, though he lived until 1989.”
Naida

It is great to be reminded that there was a time when people quoted Longfellow, Poe and others instead of relying on street corner argot and advertising slogans to prove their intellectual integration with the greater American culture. I, myself, often sprinkle my speech with the word “fuck.” It signifies my affinity for the common idiomatic mode of discourse we Americans use to express ourselves.

Speaking of Longfellow, I always felt he got a raw deal from the critics. He was part of a movement that began with Washington Irving and continued until Whitman gave up the ghost in an orgy of pantheistic individualism. They tried to create a new song unique to America out of the diverse traditions of those living or migrating to the continent at the time. True it was mostly wrapped in Yankee sensibilities. Native American, Knickerbocker, Frontiersman, Acadian, Settler at the edge of the primeval wilderness and even the sad songs of slavery were all bundled into a single melody, recognizable even where altered. A violin differs from and oboe in its history, shape and sound. But, in a symphony by Brahms, joined together they create a song far different from what either could accomplish separately. No one criticizes old Johannes for failing  to allow each instrument its own solo. Even Jazz requires the solos to doodle around with the underlying theme. (Come to think of it, Jazz was another attempt to meld the diverse music of several cultures relying in part on the fundamentals of European folk music, African syncopation and rhythm, and Klezmer instramentalization.)

Romantic and fuzzy headed, this movement died at mid-century when the two true songs of America emerged, one indescribably evil and malicious. The other almost as bad, lacking a unifying theme other than simple revulsion.

Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, an attempt to use new interest at the time in Native American culture and legends to create a syncretic myth for the new country, has been soundly criticized. At first the criticism appeared to emanate from the trolls of that era who focused, in part, upon the poems idealization of a people whom they believed deserved their extinction. Later, because the poem relied on the study of Native American culture by a man who was one of the first to take an interest in their way of life, it was ridiculed because significant portions of that research was in error and more recent studies decades after the poem’s publication came to different conclusions. This is like criticizing the ancient Egyptians for not using reenforced concrete to construct their pyramids.

Did you know that the recitation of the Song of Hiawatha provides greater psychological and physical benefits than meditation? It’s true, try it. Find a quiet room, darkened but not devoid of light. Make yourself comfortable and slowly in a hushed voice as deep you can manage recite the poem making sure you accent it properly.

Longfellow used the trochaic meter instead of the iambic that is more comfortable for Indo-European speakers. It is a more common rhythm in Ural-Altaic languages (in this case Finnish) that Longfellow believed, rightly or wrongly, reflected the language of the First Peoples. In any event, for some English speakers it seems to produce chthonic rhythms that reverberate in the marrow of their bones like the moan of a cello.

Try it, you’ll like it. Do not begin with that portion of the poem that we learned in grade school but at the beginning with the Introduction. To get you started I include it here:

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.
I repeat them as I heard them
From the lips of Nawadaha,
The musician, the sweet singer.”

Note: Do not try this with Evangeline or any of the Acadian poems. Those rhythms can cause mild stomach upset to the inexperienced.

 

C. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

Metaphor rhymes with pinafore.
But can a pinafore become a metaphor?

I apologize for the above, regret it and am truly humiliated.
 
TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett

“Spence patted him on the shoulder and said, “Goodnight, Bogie.” Bogie turned his eyes to Spence very quietly and with a sweet smile covered Spence’s hand with his own and said, “Goodbye, Spence.” Spence’s heart stood still. He understood.”
Kathrine Hepburn describing the last time she and Spencer Tracy (another man’s man who died in much the same way) saw Humphrey Bogart.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

Map showing what those place names actually mean:
17

I was born in New Yew Tree Estate, lived a while in The Land of the Main Hill Wood, and went to college in Marsh Farm before moving to Saint Little Frank One in the Land of the Succession.

 

Categories: April through June 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 3 Joey 0003 (March 24, 2014)

“When you die, the first thing you lose is your life. The next thing is your illusions.”

Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld). Harper Collins.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The rains of the past few weeks have prompted the foothills to blush green. Every day I do pretty much the same few things at about the same time. As a result I have begun to lose track of time. I, for example, no longer know how long it has been between calls to people with whom I have previously been in regular contact. Everything seems the same day after day except for the clouds. I like the clouds here at the edge of the foothills. They are gloriously variegated from cottony white to pearlescent, sometimes grey and searing black as well as red, pink, orange and even yellow (see Today’s Photograph below).

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The “Mothers” rugby team played two games today. The first was against the team that beat them 95 to 5. This time they only lost 30 to 15. The second game however was a different story. They played the team made up of South Sea Islander kids, half of whom were girls. After less than three minutes the Mothers were down 30 to 0 so the coach halted the slaughter and requested the Islanders play with only the smallest and youngest (8 and under) members of the team. They fielded 6 members and the Mothers “loaned” them six of their worst scrubs to make up the difference. While the Mothers scrubs wandered around the playing field in semi oblivion, the remaining six Islanders continued to run up the score by another 30 points in 10 minutes before the game was called to save our team from further embarrassment. HRM was however voted by the refs as the Best Tackler of the Game, primarily for a thunderous last second tackle on an opponent running free toward the goal-line to the cheers, ohs and applause of the bloody minded parents watching the game.

*****************************

I am sick again and have been forced to lie in bed for about a week oozing bodily fluids while I wait for antibiotics and other various medicines to kill off those little buggers who have found my body an ideal place in which to vacation.

When once or twice a day I stumble out on the deck for a bit of sun and fresh air I notice that not only was this a year without winter here at the edge of the foothills but one without spring as well. We seem to have sprung directly into Summer. The grasses and trees starved for water have, in response to the feeble rains a week or so ago, panicky thrust their seeds and pollen into the air in order to propagate themselves before they brown and die as the drought regains control. Alas, the resulting hay fever and allergies have added to whatever miseries the vacationing bacteria and viruses have brought me.

******************************

The rugby season has ended with the expected thundering defeats for the Mothers at the regional tournament. Swimming season now begins. I sit at the edge of the pool, along with a group of proud mothers encouraging our charges to ever greater efforts while we fiddle with our smart phones.

 

B. POOKIE’S DREAMS:

I am what is referred to by some as a vivid dreamer. That is, my dreams are in color, I know that I am dreaming and I can alter them as they go along. I also can wake myself up if things get too stressful. Moreover, I generally remember a lot of them in their entirety. Sometimes, those dreams become as real in my memory as any other experience. Periodically I used to analyze which of my memories were real and which were dreams in order to purge those not real. I no longer do that. I now believe, if it is there it is as real as any memory.

I prefer sleep to being awake because on the whole my dreams are far more interesting and exciting than my waking life is. I guess that goes for most of us.

Perhaps a little over a score of years ago I dreamt I was flying in a plane. We passed from the ocean over the land somewhere in Africa where we landed. I then took a small jitney bus that drove directly from the airport into the desert. The desert was not the sandy dune desert of Lawrence of Arabia, but barren, dusty and rocky like parts of West Texas. After a day or two we arrived at a small city of mud-walled buildings. In the center of the city was a large dirt plaza filled with men with guns, shooting them into the air and shouting at people in cars or busses and stopping them as they tried to make their way through the plaza. The men seemed to be grouped into gangs with no one group in charge. They appeared mediterranean in complexion with large bushy mustaches. They wore dark pants and vests over their shirts. I assumed they were Muslims since most of them wore ragged turbans on their heads.

They would not allow our bus to continue, so I disembarked and walked into the city to search for some distant relatives whom I knew lived in the town. The relatives strangely were Armenian shopkeepers. I found their shop. I never learned what they sold there. The relatives lived above the shop. After I explained who I was, they welcomed me in. The father, a man of about 60, was relatively short statured, clean-shaven with a round face topped by a mostly bald head with a few long black hairs combed over. He had two grown sons, they were much taller than he, broad-shouldered and moustached. Strapped to their backs were guns of some sort. Their sister was a slender dark girl of about 14, I guess. She wore a light-colored dress imprinted with small pink flowers. The mother was thin like the daughter with more grey hair than the father. I told them I had been stopped by the gunmen in the plaza and I wanted to continue on to the jungle beyond the desert. He said that it would be difficult under the current chaotic circumstances to secure permission to travel beyond the City. He said he would have to think about it and promised to do his best. In the meantime, they prepared a dinner in my honor attended by the father’s brother and his family. After the dinner the brothers spoke with each other in a corner of the room out of my hearing. Eventually the father came over to me and told me that the leader of one of the strongest militia was a friend of his and he thought he could arrange passage for me.

Early the next morning after saying good-bye and thanking everyone I, accompanied the older son, returned to the plaza and after enduring several threats and insults from the militia leader, was put into an old Range Rover and allowed to continue on my way.

We drove on across that stoney dusty desert well into the early afternoon when the landscape began to change, first into scrub lands and then into a grassy savannah. Small copse of trees dotted the terrain here and there. Near to sunset we topped a small ridge and saw a little valley beyond. The savannah continued across the valley along with the dirt track we had been following until along the smaller ridge on the opposite side the green expanse of the forest began abruptly. Where the road disappeared into the trees, I could see a small village of conical mud-walled houses nestled in the shade of the trees stretched out along the road.

At sundown we arrived at the village. I got out of the vehicle at the edge of the village. About 10 or so adults and innumerable children assembled around the vehicle as I disembarked. One man approached. He seemed to be in his late twenties or early thirties. I guess he was Somali or other Cushite speaker, thin, light brown complexion and a straight narrow nose. He greeted me and asked what had brought me to the village. I answered that I had heard about what they had accomplished in creating their vast environmental and ethnological preserve and I wanted to see it for myself. This was the first time in the dream that I had become aware of what I was doing here.

He contemplated me for a moment then said, “Mama discourages casual visitors to the reserve.” At first I thought MAMA was an acronym for the NGO operating the place. I was soon disabused of that assumption when he glanced to a large woman standing off to the side surrounded by passel of young children.

She was a large woman, large indeed, about an inch or two taller than me and at least 50 pounds heavier. Her skin was a deep chocolate color and a thick dark tangled ring of hair floated around her head like Medusa’s snakes. She wore a deep blue tent like dress that fell from her shoulders almost all the way to the ground. Thick red stripes containing faint yellow pinstripes broke up the wall of blue.

“Perhaps I can persuade her to let me stay,” I said. “I don’t think so,” he responded quickly. “But it is too late in the day to send you back, so you can stay the night as our guest and if she is not too busy perhaps you can try to persuade her tomorrow.”

With that he led me into the town past several of the huts to one a little back from the road. “This is my house,” he said. “You can stay here for the evening. There is a cot in the back. You can leave your backpack there. I will show you where to wash up and you can join my family and others for dinner.”

The hut was nicely sized containing a single room. It seemed to be used only for sleeping. I found a small cot at the back and with both relief and trepidation dropped my backpack on it and rejoined my host.

He showed me to a surprisingly comfortable bathhouse with both hot and cold tubs and showers. It seemed to be available to both sexes.

After my bath he led me to a clearing a little way from the village. Here there were benches and a few sturdy wooden tables. Several modern grill type cookers and other tables containing copious amounts of food surrounded a large campfire around which on a variety of strange tripod like contraptions other pots and viands hung over the flames.

I met my host’s wife and their two small children. She was young and quite attractive. I am sorry to say, I no longer remember their names even though they became some of the closest friends I had even known. That’s the way it is with dreams.

The clearing filled up with what appeared to be at least a hundred adults and even more children running about. The others seemed to be a mixture of ethnicities and races, predominately African but I could see some Europeans and Asians also among the crowd.

Although I remember the food was delicious and the feeling that I enjoyed myself immensely I recall little more about the evening other than that whenever I glanced across the campfire through the flames I saw Mama on the other side staring at me with what appeared to me to be hard cold angry eyes.

After the dinner I returned to the hut, laid down on the cot and fell immediately asleep.
(to be continued)

 

C. MOPEY’S BOOK REPORTS:

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”
Logan Pearsall Smith
1. The Ripper

At Ruth’s suggestion, I read Isabel Allende’s new novel. Unlike her previous novels, this time she tries the mystery genre. Her husband William C. Gordon, an attorney in SF, writes mystery novels set in The City during the sixties. Allende’s novel, The Ripper, is also set in the City but takes place currently, more or less. Nevertheless, much of the novel revolves around a shard of the sixties that lasted to the present day – the occupants and clients of a holistic medicine clinic in North Beach several of whom I could comfortably associate with some of the denizens of the counter-culture I met during those fabled if somewhat blurred times.

Pookie says check it out.

“…no one gets rich working,”
Allende, Isabel. Ripper (p. 152). Harper Collins.

2. Steam

Sir Terry Pratchett the beloved author of the innumerable “Discworld” novels was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year or so ago. “Discworld,” for those who do not know, is a flat world on a disc resting on the backs of four huge elephants standing on the shell of an enormous tortoise slowly making its way across the galaxy. The denizens of “Discworld” are delightfully human (even the humans), and humanly delightful. “Steam” is his most recent book. Although it is not as madly surprising and bizarrely inventive as his previous works, it still overflows with Sir Terry’s special brand of humor and insight.

To Sir Terry, captains of industry, commerce and banking are inevitably criminals, hucksters and scoundrels but they seem to do as good a job as anyone would do under the circumstances. Of course it helps, if the government is run by a highly trained assassin instead of a mass murderer. Sir Terry believes that is the best of all political arrangements. He thinks magic is a good thing because it is very funny when its spells go wrong, which they inevitably do. He also believes that goblins, golems, vampires, trolls, werewolves, and various other species of sentient being, more or less, are quite amusingly human and often even more so than humans themselves once you get to know them, even McFeegles.

Pookie says check it out.

“It is now known to science that there are many more dimensions than the classical four. Scientists say that these don’t normally impinge on the world because the extra dimensions are very small and curve in on themselves, and that since reality is fractal most of it is tucked inside itself. This means either that the universe is more full of wonders than we can hope to understand or, more probably, that scientists make things up as they go along.”
Pratchett, Terry. Pyramids (Discworld) (p. 313). Harper Collins.

Note: I also read Pyramids published several years ago in which Sir Terry reveals that the greatest mathematicians in the universe are camels who, alas have found no one within that same universe they deem worthy enough to share that knowledge with.

Pookie says check that out also. In fact read all or Pratchett’s books. There are so many of them you could read them for the rest of your life and still be happy.

 

 
DAILY FACTOID:

Sometime about the middle of the century or during the latter half of it, those of us still alive will experience a day not experienced by humankind since the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries when Genghis Kahn slaughtered about 10% of humanity living at that time and the following Plague carried by fleas riding along on those sturdy Mongolian ponies offed another 10%.

On that day in the near future according to several demographic studies there will be fewer humans living on the planet then the day before. This will occur not because some new Genghis or Plague will ravage us (although that remains a real possibility), but because of the education and liberation of women, increasing living standards and urbanization will have resulted in not enough babies born to offset the death rate among oldies.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

1. The Great Gatsby Curve
slide_267889_1844551_free

For those who consider those nordic countries as small and homogenous and thereby not applicable to the situation in the USA, note that their combined population is slightly less than that of Canada and their percentage of foreign-born residents is greater than that of the USA and most other industrialized nations (Although it does beg the question of whether anything in Canada is applicable to the US). On the other hand, in terms of sheer numbers the US leads the world in foreign-born residents as it has more or less from its beginning.

2. Study by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:

A new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

“By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources ”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over ‘the last five thousand years.’”
B. A bit more Twain*:

“When I look around me, I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. To mention only a few: The Atheist, The Theosophists, The Infidel, The Swedenborgians, The Agnostic, The Shakers, The Baptist, The Millerites, The Methodist, The Mormons, The Christian Scientist, The Laurence Oliphant Harrisites, The Catholic, and the 115 Christian sects ( the Presbyterian excepted), The Grand Lama’s people, The Monarchists, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Republicans (but not the Mugwumps!), The Buddhist, The Blavatsky-Buddhist, The Mind-Curists, The Faith-Curists, The Nationalist, The Mental Scientists, The Confucian, The Spiritualist, The Allopaths, The 2000 East Indian sects, The Homeopaths, The Electropaths, The Peculiar People, The–

“But there’s no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational. This should move us to be charitable towards one another’s lunacies.”
Mark Twain, Christian Science

* we need more twains and fewer singularities.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.”
~ J. Garcia

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Always assume everyone is an idiot. This saves time.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_20140131_172058_675_3
Sunset over El Dorado Hills

 

Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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