Posts Tagged With: Southeast Asia

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Pookie 0001 (December 9, 2012)

“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use,  from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.” 

Thomas Aquinas

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. An author speaks:

I read an interesting article in one of the local english language newspapers recently.

A fairly well-known British author on a speaking tour of Southeast Asia was asked how he got into writing. He explained that after university he was working as a geologist in South Asia when he read a travel book written by another well-known writer, John Morris, about his experiences accompanying an expedition to climb Mt. Everest. Impressed, he decided he wanted to become a writer also and promptly wrote to Mr. Morris for advice. Mr Morris wrote back that, if he wanted to become a writer, he should first get a job as a newspaper reporter.

The author returned to England and got a job as a reporter for a newspaper in a small english town. He then wrote back to Morris asking what he should do now. Morris advised him to gather up a suitable number of articles he had written, and send them to him for his review and comment. The author did and after an exchange of letters asked permission to visit Morris in his home. It was granted and a few weeks later the author found himself in front of the door to Morris’ home. Upon entering he saw someone with long hair kneeling in the vestibule. Assuming it was Mrs. Morris he enquired, “Mrs. Morris?” To which the person responded, “no, she is upstairs and will be down in a moment,” and left.

Mrs. Morris and her daughter did indeed come down and after a pleasant chat invited the author to spend the night in the guest room.

That night before retiring he noticed a note on the bed addressed to him. The note explained that the person who met him at the door was John Morris and that he had always believed he was a woman in a man’s body and was leaving in a few weeks for an operation that would rectify the situation. The note added that if the author was not offended by this and still wanted to be the writers friend, they could meet again in the morning. He did and they did. The operation went on as planned and the now Jan Morris has been the authors best friend since then.

2. A passing:

Today while at the health club the Little Masseuse told me that her ex-husband had died suddenly yesterday. Her eyes were glistening through her blurred mascara as she explained the he was found slumped in his seat on the bus he was riding. No one knew he was dead until the bus had gotten to its last stop. The other passengers thought he was just another old man sleeping off the day’s exhaustion.
He had been living with their son after the relationship he had left LM for broke up. Before that he was a member of the Thai Coast-Guard.

LM asked me for 1000 baht (about $30) to defray funeral and burial costs. I agreed.

Last night or perhaps the night before, I could not get to sleep, terrorized by the fear I would pass through my declining years alone; perhaps still here in my little room in BKK. Estranged is an odd word and yet I wonder why it feels so appropriate to me. My choice I suppose.

LM must be suffering now. Although it was long past their time together, it was still a big part of her life for as long as it lasted. Now permanently severed. Scary.

I know I am a little more than a mobile ATM. Could there be a mutual dependency there? Of course there could.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Ladies only parking

In Bangkok, several parking structures have a “ladies only” parking floor equipped with female guards to enforce the mandate. The walls and columns of these exclusive domains usually are highlighted in pink.

Pink, as everyone knows, is the color more adored by women than any other. As opposed to grey which men prefer because they are all color blind.

It is unknown at this time if Chazz Bono will be allowed to park on these floors.

2. Choose your ring tone

An international cell phone company recently announced that they are developing a magnetic tattoo ink that would cause a person’s skin to vibrate whenever he or she has an incoming call.

Where would you choose to place your vibrating tattoo?

3. Dangerous occupation.

Today the Bangkok english language press reported the death of two rubber tappers working on separate rubber plantations in Thailand. One involved a woman who, while engaged in tapping the rubber trees to collect the latex, was killed by a herd of stampeding wild elephants. On another plantation a woman engaged in the same activity was eaten by a tiger.

Do not allow your children to grow up and become rubber tappers.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

I ran across an interesting commentary by the ever insightful Brad Delong regarding Nick Eberstadt’s Book, A Nation of Takers. I thought I would share it with you.

“It is a curious and remarkable thing. Go to Nick Eberstadt’s A Nation of Takers and you discover him writing about:

‘The breathtaking growth of [personal] entitlement payments…. In 1960, U.S. government transfers to individuals from all programs totaled $24 billion. By 2010, the outlay for entitlements was almost 100 times more… the nominal growth in entitlement payments… was rising by an explosive average of 9.5% per annum for fifty straight years…’

But of that 9.5%, 6.9% simply matches the growth of potential nominal GDP from inflation, labor-force growth, and productivity growth.

That leaves excess entitlement spending growth of 2.6%/year.

That excess has three causes. First, 38% of federal transfer programs are health programs. Few indeed drop out of work today and become moochers because they want to qualify for Medicaid, or they look forward to Medicare. A government that pays doctors for treating sick people does not a nation of takers make.

Second, an aging population since 1960 is responsible for 1/10 of today’s non-health transfers. And the depressed economy is responsible for another 1/7: more old people, families that don’t normally qualify for food stamps qualifying for them because of unemployment, and workers who paid into the unemployment insurance system using it for what it was intended for. This is not a shift in the generosity of our safety net.

Subtract off these, and you are left with the third cause: our non-health safety net has become more generous over the past two generations.

By how much?

The non-health aging- and cyclically-adjusted transfer spending of the federal government has grown since 1960 relative to potential GDP at a rate of 0.9%/year.

That is less than one-tenth of Eberstadt’s headline number.

It is that less than 1%/year growth rate is supposed to have turned us from a self-reliant entrepreneurial people in 1960 into ‘a nation of takers’, an ‘an incoherent amalgam of interest groups … vying for benefits … at the expense of other Americans’ today?

That dog won’t hunt. That fish won’t swim. That bird won’t fly.

The systemic crisis in right-of-center use of arithmetic runs far deeper than just polling.”

Recently, I have received a number of e-mails and and have come across several other references to articles, graphs and the like that in one way or another attempt to make the same point that Eberstadt tries to make, prompting me to share this response. All of DeLong’s assertions are easily verifiable from standard reference sources.

DAILY FACTOID:

us-oil-production-has-now-hit-its-highest-level-since-1994

The US in the past four years has gone from an also ran in the petroleum production sweepstakes to being on the verge of becoming the worlds largest producer. Yet, the price of gasoline has not gone down. It may also help to understand what is going on to know that the per person fossil fuel use in the US has been decreasing irrespective of its per unit price.

Hmmm… increasing energy production leading to energy independence; stable, if high, fuel prices and a declining use of climate changing fossil fuels….something here must be Obama’s fault.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

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

Model of Money Management or why Wall Street is untrustworthy.

According to a study by Gennaioli, Shleifer, and Vishny:

“Trust in the money manager reduces an investor’s perception of the riskiness of a given investment, and allows managers to charge higher fees to investors who trust them more.

Money managers compete for investor funds by setting their fees, but because of trust the fees do not fall to costs.

Managers consistently underperform the market net of fees, but investors still prefer to delegate money management to taking risk on their own.

Fees involve sharing of expected returns between managers and investors, with higher fees in riskier products.

Managers pander to investors when investors exhibit biases in their beliefs, and do not correct misperceptions.

Despite long run benefits from better performance, the profits from pandering to trusting investors discourage managers from pursuing contrarian strategies relative to the case with no trust.”

Or, as John Maynard Keynes wrote: “in banking it is often better to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally”.

Or, you give them your money – they give you nothing in return, but you feel good about it.

Does this mean we should fire our financial advisors and brokers or that we should just not believe anything they say?

Did we really need a scholarly study to tell us that brokers rip us off?

 

B. Yiddish words everyone should know:

nu
A general word that calls for a reply. It can mean, “So?” “Huh?” “Well?” “What’s up?” or “Hello?”
oy vey
Exclamation of dismay, grief, or exasperation. The phrase “oy vey iz mir” means “Oh, woe is me.” “Oy gevalt!” is like oy vey, but expresses fear, shock or amazement. When you realize you’re about to be hit by a car, this expression would be appropriate.
plotz
Or plats. Literally, to explode, as in aggravation. “Well, don’t plotz!” is similar to “Don’t have a stroke!” or “Don’t have a cow!” Also used in expressions such as, “Oy, am I tired; I just ran the four-minute mile. I could just plotz.” That is, collapse.
shalom
It means “deep peace,” and isn’t that a more meaningful greeting than “Hi, how are ya?”
shlep
To drag, traditionally something you don’t really need; to carry unwillingly. When people “shlep around,” they are dragging themselves, perhaps slouchingly. On vacation, when I’m the one who ends up carrying the heavy suitcase I begged my wife to leave at home, I shlep it.
shlemiel
A clumsy, inept person, similar to a klutz (also a Yiddish word). The kind of person who always spills his soup.
schlock
Cheap, shoddy, or inferior, as in, “I don’t know why I bought this schlocky souvenir.”
shlimazel
Someone with constant bad luck. When the shlemiel spills his soup, he probably spills it on the shlimazel. Fans of the TV sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” remember these two words from the Yiddish-American hopscotch chant that opened each show.
shmendrik
A jerk, a stupid person, popularized in The Last Unicorn and Welcome Back Kotter.
shmaltzy
Excessively sentimental, gushing, flattering, over-the-top, corny. This word describes some of Hollywood’s most famous films. From shmaltz, which means chicken fat or grease.
shmooze
Chat, make small talk, converse about nothing in particular. But at Hollywood parties, guests often schmooze with people they want to impress.

Yiddish developed among the Ashkenazi, one of the three main branches of Judaism. The other two being the Sephardim (primarily originating on the Iberian peninsula) and the Mizrahim comprising most of the others. The Sephardim and the Mizraham, if they spoke it at all, did not speak yiddish as their mother tongue as did many of the Ashkenazi before emigrating to the US.

They all more or less can trace their patrimonial heritage through the male Y chromosome to a single individual living somewhere in the middle east about 5000 years ago, about the time when Abraham was reputed to have lived. A recent study of the Cohen, the traditional priestly class descended from Aaron, Moses’ brother, using DNA from males with that surname world-wide, indicates that most of them are descended from a middle eastern male alive about 3000 years ago; about the time the Bible indicates that Moses and Aaron lived. Given that several hundred years of the most intensive archeological investigation in the world, while turning up scads of evidence of the other Peoples and nations mentioned in the Bible, failed to turn up much evidence at all of Jewish history older than somewhere between 200 and 600 BC, it is remarkable that modern genetics has been able to confirm at least this part of the story. (Not that it proves that Abraham, Moses and Arron actually existed, but it does confirm that during those times there was in all likelihood some horny goat-herd in the Near East busy shtupping a shikse or two thereby giving birth not only to the great Jewish nation but, in all likelihood, a significant portion of the population of the entire Mediterranean basin. I guess it could fairly be observed that Arron wielded a mighty rod.)

The Ashkenazi male line descends primarily through southern Italian and Sicilian Jews who migrated into Northern Europe about 400-600 AD to escape persecution by the newly dominant Christians. Genetically Southern Italians and Sicilians and the Ashkenazi appear to be closer related to each other than to most of the rest of trans-montain Europe. Unlike the other branches of Judaism, the Ashkenazi seem to have picked up a small but strong Central-Asian component primarily from the Caucuses and the area around the Caspian Sea, the ancestral home of the Khazar’s, the almost legendary medieval Jewish empire.

On the matrilineal side DNA testing shows that although there is strong evidence of middle eastern origins among the women, there is significantly more evidence of non-middle eastern origins then among the men (Again with the Shikses.)

Among the Ashkenazi there is a high incidence of Tay Sachs an inherited and inevitably fatal disease. The Sephardim and the Mizrahim seem to have no greater incidence of the disease than the general population, an indication that the effects of natural selection and genetic drift happen quite rapidly and do not require the eons that mutations take to be reflected in a population. The Tay Sachs’ discovery may have revealed another startling fact, that the genes causing Tay Sachs may be related to those controlling for intelligence.* Based on standard IQ testing as much as 20% of the Ashkenazi score 120 or higher, scoring higher in verbal and mathematical elements and lower in spatial than the general population (in other words, great scientists and writers but lousy athletes). In the general population the average is about 4-5% including for the Sephardim and Mizrahim. It is not so hard to guess why that is the case. The Christian pogroms and prohibitions against land owning for the Jews and against charging interest for the Christians coupled with high literate demands of the rabbinate made those excelling in abstract thought high quality breeders so to speak.

On the other hand, among the Christian West, strangely enough, those who were most literate were prohibited from breeding. From the fall or the Roman empire until the success of the Protestant revolt, for the most part, the most literate of the Western Christians were forced into the clergy who, unless they were Popes or Cardinals, were strongly discouraged from breeding.

Instead we placed our genetic basket on the shoulders of homicidal maniacs whose claim to fame was their preternatural ability to take someone else’s technology and turn it into a more highly efficient means of slaughter.

As luck would have it, due to the plague almost wiping us out, and our short-term tendency to compensate by breeding like rabbits, coupled with our forced procreation of prescient psychopaths equipped with proficient killing machines and a resistance to disease, we in the West were able to conquer the world. Hooray for us.

*Note: Contrary evidence for the genetic connection between Tay Sachs and a certain type of intelligence is provided by the fact that the Irish appear also to be prone to the disease. On the other hand, perhaps the Hibernians were one of the lost tribes of Israel like the American Indians and just about everyone else, except for the Mormons, who never get lost.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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TODAY’S CHART:

23945_463686023672848_1239777113_n
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

248204_507424759278540_1896979507_n

Turritopsis nutricula is an immortal jellyfish. Some people believe it may hold the secret of immortality for humans.

After reaching sexual maturity, this jellyfish is able to reverse its aging process and become a polyp again. The ability to reverse the life cycle is probably unique in the animal kingdom, and allows the jellyfish to bypass death, rendering the Turritopsis nutricula biologically immortal. Lab tests showed that 100% of specimens reverted to the polyp stage.
I fucking love science.

But, do I want to be a polyp – even an immortal one?

 

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 5, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

1. How deep are your political beliefs mommy?

Republicans could be hurting their general election chances by calling for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and vowing not to reform the system until the border is secured, a pollster and a Republican strategist said on Tuesday and advised them to abandon those proposals.

2. Recent twitter post from “The Onion”:

Rumors Of Extramarital Affair End Campaign Of Presidential Candidate Who Didn’t Know China Has Nuclear Weapons.

3. Buddy Roemer, Populist Republican Candidate for President:

According to Roemer, The Dodd-Frank financial reform law is “a disgrace” because it formalizes the concept that mega banks like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are “too big to fail,” regardless of whether they pursue reckless or unscrupulous practices. “The taxpayers will not support any more bailouts,” he says. “That’s [the view of] Occupy Wall Street. That’s the Tea Party. That’s Buddy Roemer. It’s America, and if the bank is too big to fail, then the bank ought to be disbanded.”

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. 2011:

According to the WMO in its annual report on climate trends and extreme weather events, unveiled at UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, this year caps a decade that ties the record as the hottest ever measured.

“Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement, adding that policy-makers should take note of the findings.

“Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs and are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2 to 2.4 Celsius rise in average global temperatures.”

Scientists believe that any rise above the 2.0 threshold could trigger far-reaching and irreversible changes on Earth over land and in the seas.

The 2002-2011 period equals 2001-2010 as the warmest decade since 1850, the report said.

2. November 30, 1941:

Einsatzgruppen shoots 10,000 Jews from Riga in the Rumbola Forest.

Lest we forget

3. How to live longer, get a cat.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute in Minneapolis found that cats, by nature, alleviate stress and anxiety, potentially reducing the risk of heart attack in humans by 30%. It’s not just the felines’ unconditional love that helps cat owners stave off stress-related cardiovascular diseases. A cat’s purr actually produces vibrations at frequencies that have been known to help with pain relief, bone and muscle growth, and wound healing.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND AND AMERICA:

1. America: a public dialogue.

“You don’t own me. I pay your salary. I work for the private sector and you work for the taxpayer.”
Historian Dr. Douglas Brinkley to Representative Don Young (R. Alaska) at a congressional committee hearing in response to Congressman Young telling Brinkley, “I’ll call you anything I want to call you when you sit in that chair… You just be quiet,” when Brinkley attempted to correct the honorable Congressman’s pronunciation of his name: ”

2. America: From the HP Psychometer (Bat-shit Crazy).


Every year we hope it’ll be the last we hear of Black Friday shoppers trampling one another to death over cheap electronics, but sadly 2011 was no different from previous years. Not only did Target shoppers haphazardly step over a 61-year-old man who had collapsed and later died, but one Wal-Mart shopper thought it appropriate to pepper spray nearly 20 people in the face, while another group of shoppers fought like animals over $2 waffle makers and yet another group stampeded an Urban Outfitters. We’re sure there are more we could share, but our faith in humanity is already at dangerous new lows.

3. Thailand and Yingluck’s boots:

After failure of a no confidence motion for her government’s handling of the flooding in Thailand and the release of a poll showing that Prime Minister Young and Lucky‘s popularity actually increased, the press has begun to suggest that the mud does not cling to her boots. Like Ronald Reagan she seems to be another Teflon political leader whose popularity rises no matter what happens in their countries or what mistakes their administrations make.

4. Parking in Thailand:

“He parked in my driveway,”
Statement by a retired Thai Army Major General explaining why he shot, kicked and stomped on a Bangkok Post news photographer.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The epic floods are slowly dissipating and all over the country cadres of people are out with brooms signaling the beginning the massive cleanup. Business leaders are busy telling everyone how optimistic they are about making money from the reconstruction. The Travel industry has rushed to market the concept that the floods never happened. Various so-called visionaries have proposed a host of generally impractical remedies for minimizing future flooding while the construction and engineering industry and a few large landowners are pushing several super public works projects including a 200 mile long canal along the eastern part of Bangkok to divert water around the city and into the Gulf. Meanwhile the politicians have begun squabbling over fault.

Two things have struck me when I consider the floods and their aftermath. Well, many things actually, but two I feel like mentioning.

The first is that at the beginning or the monsoon season, I mentioned in these posts that while watching the evening weather shows here in Thailand I noticed a series of stationary low pressure areas remaining motionless north of the Mekong River. I assumed at the time that the stationary lows were a normal pattern of the monsoons season since they obviously sucked the warm moist air from the high pressure ridges in the Indian ocean. This warm moist air would pass over the highlands of South and Southeast Asia where, as it rose above the mountains, it would lose its ability to hold as much moisture which would then fall as rain eventually ending as run off in the Mekong River or in the tributaries to the Chao Phraya.

After the first two or so storms, I noticed that the line of lows had, in South East Asia at least, moved south of the Mekong and now sat right on top of the highlands. I did not think much about it at the time, but after reading about the blame game, I realized that Thailand has two major drainages, the Mekong draining toward the Pacific ocean and the Chao Phraya drainage through Bangkok to the Gulf of Thailand. Once the lows moved south that ment that instead of being carried away by two drainages, now the entire rainfall from the remaining 3 or 4 major monsoon storms had to drain through central Thailand. I would think someone should have noticed that at the time and warned the authorities.

The second thing of note is that the King, who for all extent and purpose is the primary water policy expert in Thailand, in the 1990s warned the country that the lowlands around eastern Bangkok was the essential flood plain and had to be kept clear so that flood waters could flow to the sea without damaging the existing built up areas. Ignoring the King’s warning the business and political establishment saw eastern Bangkok as a growth area and proceeded to eliminate the flood plain with massive industrial estates and the new international airport. As a result the water denied free movement through the flood plain spread out into the City.

Now they want to tax the people of Thailand to build a massive canal so that even more of the flood plain can be developed. And you know what? Thailand may not have a choice, as usual.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMOIRS:

There was a time, twenty years or so ago that I frequently found myself in New Orleans. I often attended conferences there or otherwise occupied myself on things coastal; consulting and so forth. I liked the City and southern Louisiana a lot and would often extend my stay or return for vacations alone or with my family. I was particularly fond of the misty romantic bayou area in Cajun Country; the Bayou Teche of James Lee Burke and the “Evangeline” area. I used to wander around the Bayous, staring at the water and the Spanish moss encrusted trees and watching the alligators stalk the nutrias. Sometimes I would stop in a local restaurants and devour cajun cuisine or search for places to listen to the music, Zydeco and Jazz.

In New Orleans, through our mutual involvement in environmental issues, I became friends with a someone who lived in a large deteriorating mansion in the Garden District. He was a descendant of a man who, just prior to the Civil War, “cornered” the cotton market for two days and thereby made enough money so that at least 5 generations of his heirs could avoid real work. I do not know what cornering a market actually means, but it appeared to be the “hedge fund” equivalent of the time. I do know that like the derivatives of our time, cornering a market has little if any socially redeeming purpose. In this case it produced no jobs, no products and no wealth for anyone but him and his descendants and can probably be considered just slightly above outright theft on almost any moral scale. Anyway, my friend shared with me a capsule history, from the point of view of each generation’s education, of his family and most of the anglos descended from those that inhabited the district before the Civil War.

The initial settlers in the Garden District were generally uneducated but had become wealthy the good old fashion American way, they stole from someone else. They sent their children to Oxford and Cambridge. They in turn sent their children to Harvard and Yale. The third generation went to Tulane and the fourth to LSU. As the trust funds ran out, the most recent generation, if they attended any institution of higher learning at all, attended New Orleans Junior College.

My friend’s tale got me to thinking about whether other American groups experienced a similar progression through the generations as did the citizens of New Orleans Garden District.

It immediately struck me that the American experience was truly unique in the world and it usually cycled more or less over three generations.

The first generation were most often immigrants who usually migrated from poverty into very slightly less poverty. By poverty I mean the deadly combination of the absence of material resources and constant fear due to the precariousness of their existence. These immigrants were rarely educated, but, sometimes as a result of hard work, luck or simple persistence, some became wealthy, a few fabulously so while others managed to make do and provide their families with an upper lower class or middle class living that they could not aspire to in their previous homeland. Others, perhaps even the majority failed miserably and passed on their poverty to their children.

The children of this first generation who had succeeded in moving out of meanest poverty, often sought to enter the artistic or mandarin class, doctors, lawyers, accountants business managers, investment advisers, academics, teachers, government workers.

By the third generation some found themselves comfortable simply maintaining their middle class status while others unfortunately seemed to fall back into the ranks of the poor but with a difference; a marked reduction in fear and helplessness. By this time they are acclimated to their society and so have become more confident in their survival as well as their acceptance. These latter descended to lower paid positions, such as in social service and the arts. Finally a few simply became, well bums and by bums I mean those who accept the meanest absence of resources while also remaining free of the fear and desperation that marks true poverty.

Now of course, the reason for the above tortured analysis was to lead back to me and my own story or worse, to a rationalization of some of the circumstances in my life.

My grandfather Joe was the archetype for the first generation. Leaving the dire poverty of the mountains above Naples, he found in America a precarious existence admittedly better to some degree than what he left behind. Through, hard work, luck, a bit of thuggery and a lot sharp dealing he achieved great wealth, beyond his wildest dreams. Alas, all that came crashing down when he lost everything in the Great Depression.

My father, during my grandfathers years of prosperity, hoped to enter the Mandarin class as an attorney until the economic hard times threw him back into the lowest class where he spent his life as an untrained laborer as though he not his father were the immigrant. His children in turn now became the second generation desiring careers in the arts (my sister and brother) or the Mandarin class (me). But if truth be known, I always secretly yearned to represent my grandfathers third generation and revert to living fearlessly poor, to become a bum. I have achieved that blessed state twice in my life. First when I relocated from the East Coast to SF and became a committed hippy and now, living a poor but happy life in Thailand.

There, aren’t you glad you read through all this, including the questionable analysis, and blatant self-indulgence and finally arrived here at the end. I am.
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Something about fans and fecal matter (cont.):

Vince’s smile evaporated. “What do you mean?” he responded, beginning to feel the anger rising within him from her challenge as well as the almost certain knowledge that he knew the answer?

“Agreeing to talk to the US Attorney for one thing.”

“Why should that bother you? They’re your people and both you and Russell know I do not know anything significant.”

“Don’t be coy,” she responded moving her eyes from his and toward the waiter approaching the table. “You wanted to stir things up.”

“You do not know what you’re doing,” she added just before the waiter arrived and asked her if she would like something to drink.
.
She declined. He asked if they were ready to order. She stared at him for a surprisingly long time before answering him and responding for both of them that they were not. She continued staring at his back as he receded into the kitchen then turned back to Vince and continued, “And if I know about it, so does everyone else.”

“Ha,” he exclaimed smugly, “you think there is a leak in the US Attorney’s Office?”

She shook her head, “No in yours.”

Bullshit, unless they were listening in on my telephone call there couldn’t be. Not about this. I don’t think Ike would say anything.”

“There is little that goes on in your office that we do not know about, and if we do then someone else can also. Your office has been bugged and not only by the US government at least not the agencies that we are aware of. Now let’s look at our menu and order before the waiter get’s even more nervous than he is already, shall we?”

“You bugged my office? What right do you have to do that,” he demanded as he glanced through the menu of only two pages with limited expensive options descried more like one would describe a piece of art rather than food?

“Someone else did too? How do you know,” he asked trying not to plead?

“More than one we guess,” she responded putting down the Menu.

The waiter suddenly appeared at the table. Vince wondered for a moment how he knew so quickly they were ready to order .

They ordered. She asked for some sparkling mineral water to accompany her meal. He chose a glass of Kendal-Jackson Cabernet that he always liked that he noticed they were serving by the glass. As the waiter turned to return to the kitchen with their order Isabella noted her place setting was missing her salad fork and asked him to bring her a replacement.

After he left, Vince feeling uncomfortable with how the conversation was going decided to lighten things up and asked, “If you are my body guard where is your gun? You look great, but it doesn’t look like you can hide a gun somewhere under that outfit and the purse looks to small.”

“The purse is a gun,” she responded glancing down at it shimmering on the table by he right hand.

“Oh, a James Bond thing,” he tried to joke. It sounded lame even to him. (to be continued)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Strange Apocalypses:

END of TIME

What if time itself somehow came to a finish because of the laws of physics? In 2007, Spanish scientists proposed an alternative explanation for the mysterious dark energy that accounts for 75% of the mass of the universe and acts as a sort of anti-gravity, pushing galaxies apart. They proposed that the effects we observe are due to time slowing down as it leaked away from our universe.

Danger sign: It could be happening right now. We would never know.

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

1. A society that cares for the well being of their children.

2. End government redistribution of national income growth to the wealthiest few families.

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

“By then his document (Lewis Powell’s memorandum to the corporate elites mentioned in my previous post in which he called upon them to mount a campaign to distort the national economic consensus in order to benefit themselves) had circulated widely in corporate suites. Within two years the board of the US Chamber of Commerce formed a task force of 40 business executives — from US Steel, GE, GM, Phillips Petroleum, 3M, Amway, and ABC and CBS (two media companies, we should note). Their assignment was to coordinate the crusade, put Powell’s recommendations into effect, and push the corporate agenda. Powell had set in motion a revolt of the rich. As the historian Kim Phillips-Fein subsequently wrote, “Many who read the memo cited it afterward as inspiration for their political choices.”

Those choices came soon. The National Association of Manufacturers announced it was moving its main offices from New York to Washington. In 1971, only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in the capital; by 1982, nearly twenty-five hundred did. Corporate PACs increased from under 300 in 1976 to over twelve hundred by the middle of the l980s. From Powell’s impetus came the Business Roundtable, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy (precursor to what we now know as Americans for Prosperity) and other organizations united in pushing back against political equality and shared prosperity.* They triggered an economic transformation that would in time touch every aspect of our lives.

Powell’s memo was delivered to the US Chamber of Commerce at its headquarters across from the White House on land that was formerly the home of Daniel Webster. That couldn’t have been more appropriate. History was coming full circle at 1615 H Street. Webster is remembered largely as the most eloquent orator in America during his years as Senator from Massachusetts and Secretary of State under three presidents in the years leading up to the Civil War. He was also the leading spokesman for banking and industry nabobs who funded his extravagant tastes in wine, boats, and mistresses. Some of them came to his relief when he couldn’t cover his debts wholly from bribes or the sale of diplomatic posts for personal gain. Webster apparently regarded the merchants and bankers of Boston’s State Street Corporation – one of the country’s first financial holding companies — very much as George W. Bush regarded the high rollers he called “my base.” The great orator even sent a famous letter to financiers requesting retainers from them that he might better serve them. The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wondered how the American people could follow Webster “through hell or high water when he would not lead unless someone made up a purse for him.”

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

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

Luntz is now advising Republicans to refrain from using the word “Capitalism” because it is in bad repute. For more of his advice to Republicans on how to mislead the populace about what they are really up to see:http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/01/380121/luntz-gop-occupy-wall-street-capitalism-is-immoral/

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“This book is about the second half of that story, the demarche, and the political ideas—variously called conservative, reactionary, revanchist, counterrevolutionary—that grow out of and give rise to it. These ideas, which occupy the right side of the political spectrum, are forged in battle. They always have been, at least since they first emerged as formal ideologies during the French Revolution, battles between social groups rather than nations; roughly speaking, between those with more power and those with less…”
–Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind : Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

TODAY’S CHART:

TODAY’S CARTOON:


TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:


Remember, Goldman Sachs and these guys not only brought you the economic crisis they profited from it. Now they have been chosen to get us out of it, and I guess make a profit off it, whether or not they succeed. Trusting these guys with the economy is like trusting Tony Soprano with your wallet.

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

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

70,000 BCE: At least 25,000 years before fully anatomically humans appeared on earth, a giant stone in the African Kalahari desert resembling a python was constructed, containing a hidden chamber and surrounded by broken spear heads. It has been suggested that it is possibly the site of ritual offerings and snake worship.

(or an early dope stash)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Second hand submarines:

The Thai newspapers today have followed up the story regarding the purchase of defective Ukrainian tanks by the Thai military by reporting the planed purchase of six secondhand submarines from Germany. The vessels are 30 years old and slated for decommissioning. They have an estimated life of at most an additional 10 years.

The Thai military announced that the needed the subs for national defense because nearby countries like Indonesia have some submarines. Unfortunately, conventional submarines, especially outmoded ones are designed for anti-shipping activities, the defense against which are not other submarines but air and surface vessel with anti submarine equipment.

An accompanying story revealed the real reason for the purchase. The military will have to create an additional command structure for the submarine force (More officer level appointments) and this plan for a Thai submarine fleet has existed for over 60 years and was developed during the Japanese domination of the country during WWII. Also, the military has obtained a greatly increased defense budget over which they, the military command, sets its own priorities. As I mentioned in my comments almost a year ago, this was part of the deal for military support of the current government and for suppression of the Thaksin and his Red Shirts.

(Bad ideas in the military apparently neither die nor fade away. If you give a general enough money he will bring back swords, horse cavalry and anti-ballistic missile defense. )

b. In addition to the recent earthquakes:

The weather in Thailand has become more extreme recently. There have been unusual flooding in many parts of the country, most recently in the south coupled with massive storms creating unheard of 15 to 25 foot waves in the Gulf of Thailand. The north and northeast of the country is suffering through its third year of drought.

Although attempting to generalize anything regarding climate from one season or a few months weather in a small area of the globe is unrealistic. It is interesting to note that local weather patterns experienced recently in Southeast Asia reflect precisely those predicted for the area on long-term world-wide climate models.

c. Catastrophe model:

A recent article in the Bangkok Post business section included a chart showing the yearly increase in the number of catastrophic events in the world since about 1970 as well as the annual insurance reimbursement for the damages. By far the majority of catastrophic events have been weather related, but the chart includes other natural phenomena such as earthquakes as well as man-made catastrophes.

The chart indicates the that the number of catastrophic events per year have increased almost 10 fold since 1970, while the amount of the damages covered by insurance has only grown by a factor of two or three.

Of course, a forty-year trend in world events is too brief a time period to draw general conclusions as to its cause or duration, however I can infer the following:

1. The weather and climatic trends described in the chart mirror the predictions of most climate models.
2. The increased disparity between the damages caused by these catastrophes and the amount covered by private insurance indicates either government is making up the difference through tax revenue or borrowing or more and more of the damage is going unrestored or compensated resulting in a decrease in actual sunk capital of a region or nation.

Also, in this article they describe the results that a well-known economist has drawn from this information. The economist, notes that the rate of return demanded by capital markets on debt and investments currently are higher than warranted by the apparent risks involved. This he maintains is the result of the market accounting for the unreimbursed costs and risks on the ever-increasing damage caused by the escalating number of large catastrophes.

Now if we discount for a moment my own questions about the validity of the assumptions used for this kind of economic analysis and its supposition’s reliability and assume that it more or less accurately describes the situation, then I think that one could vnture the following conclusions:

1. Inflation is just about as likely from the supply side as from the demand and monetary policy is probably inadequate a remedy.
2. Commodity prices (e.g., food and raw materials) should increase at a greater rate than justified by the temporary scarcity of the natural resources caused by the catastrophic events.
3. World capital availability will be diminished at an ever-increasing rate due to both this surcharge on capital and by the resulting inflation.
4. In an attempt to preserve their capital, those that have accumulated great amounts of it will seek its preservation by strategies that in one way or another impoverish production rather than using the capital to increase it, for as Adam Smith observed: “…all… men, love to reap where they never sowed….”

d. Sex Lottery:

The recent appearance of “Sex Lotteries” in and around the old capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya have been reported in the press. For about $1 (30 baht) one can buy a lottery ticket entitling the winner within three days or so of the announcement of the drawing to have sex with the woman of his choice, chosen from a book of photographs provided by the organizers.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am still drifting about trying to decide what to do during the next month or three. Since Hayden’s termination of his school semester and his departure to the US entail three to four weeks absent school, friends (who will be in school) or diversion, SWAC has indicated that she would be amenable to allowing him to join up with his friend Leo during the few days vacation Leo has between  completing his course in his current school and beginning his matriculation at his new school.

I suspect that she is agreeable to contemplate this option because of my unwillingness to remain in Bangkok during Hayden’s temporary forced retirement from schooling.

I also must decide if I will travel with them back to the US in early May. Right now I do not see a great problem with that since after arrival, initially I will be heading to SF and they to Sacramento.

On the other hand with SWAC all things are ephemeral at best.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed to increase suspense.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Machiavelli’s observations (The Mac. Attack?):

“In every republic there are two parties, that of the nobles (read here rich and the powerful individuals and institutions, [JP]) and that of the people; and all the laws that are favorable to liberty result from the opposition of these parties to each other.”
Discourses on the first 10 books of Titus Livius, chap IV.

Mac. was wrong. Although as Keynes observed, “In the long run we all are dead”, in the long run the “nobles” generally will prevail long before the rest of us depart.

b. Pookie’s epistle:

“Christianity was the first creed in history to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love.”
(Anonyomous)

Now I mention this not to point out any deficiency in Christianity, After all for as long as humanity has existed it has always sought comfortable metaphors to justify its penchant to slaughter its own kind. No, I only mention it as an especially apt example of humanity’s facility in the use of euphemisms to justify the murder and mayhem of members of its own species.

When humankind first dropped down from the trees like rotting fruit and stood upright to see above the grasslands of North-central Africa, it immediately set off seeking things to kill. Now some people argue that the first steps on the road to civilization was humanity’s discovery of the use of tools (technology) or symbols (language). I do not agree.

I believe that it was its dawning awareness, that unlike most other species, it could with impunity kill members of its own species, take their land, expropriate their reproduction machines and as a side benefit reduce the number of excess testosterone producers (and potential competitors). It was this awareness that made the creature we call human beings.

As we know, this was God’s way, as He, Himself, tells us in the sacred writings of the Peoples of the Book. For example in Joshua 10:40:

“Thus Joshua struck the whole country. He left not one survivor, as Yahweh, god of Israel had commanded. “

And also in Numbers 31,17.18:

“Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

Humanity, a symbol using animal, required ever more highfalutin words to encourage this unique behavior since plunder, loot and sex grew tiresome, especially as individuals aged and because about half of the species, females specifically, never completely bought into the idea. Eventually, this kill and conquer idea began to be seen by some as a scam to benefit a few members of one boy’s club or another. Even killing for “God” loses his savior faire after a while. So it became necessary for humanity periodically to come up with new words like honor, pride, patriotism, national defense, racial purity and the like to inspire enough people to go out and slaughter their neighbors to make it worthwhile. And although these words were pretty good at getting people up into a killing frenzy, it seemed the boys needed a never ending supply of  new words and phrases  to keep the, happy. No one had thought of killing people for love before the Christians came along. It worked very well for a while.

About one hundred years ago, that group of people currently occupying Northwestern Europe and North America realized that, in general, people seemed  get a little tired of killing one another for love, (or patriotism which briefly supplanted love) so they came up with and even better one word rational for slaying their adversaries, “Freedom”. Now we could happily kill people to make them free. (it should be noted that killing in the name of god appears to be a Middle-Eastern invention while killing for love Central-Mediterranean. )

Unfortunately, about a score of years ago or so, some people (another boys club most likely) realized that killing people to take their land and their reproductive machines while reducing the excess capacity of testosterone production was only a by-product of another even greater need; the need to periodically destroy the weapons and technology of destruction so that new ones can be made, thereby keeping people at work and happy and the owners of the organizations responsible for producing the ever more expensive killing machines rich and powerful.

Now it is true that the same effect could be had by tossing all the weapons and war material into a large bonfire every three years or so. But since the money to fuel the bonfire comes from the pockets of individuals, and while they may be happy to do so for a while for love, patriotism or freedom or whatever, they recognized, that the people paying for the bonfire may eventually decide to want to use their money to pay for other things than weapons to throw on to the fire. In fact, in the United States of America, there arose a debate on whether the collective funds (taxes or other exactions) should be used for things besides armaments, like roads or health care. This was ok as long as there was enough money. However, when the people paying decided that they did not want to pay more, or even as much as they had been, into the collective pot, it became incumbent upon those whose livelihood depended upon the bonfire to throw their overwhelming financial and political support to those opposed to the expenditure of their contribution of collective funds to benefit any other interest than that necessary to assuage their own fear. And as usual, in the eternal battle to control the hearts and minds of humanity, those with the most to gain win.

As Machiavelli observed 500 years ago:

“Those who counsel a prince have to fear lest he should have someone near him who in time of peace desires war, because he cannot gain his living without it.”

And for those who believe that eventually humanity (often referred to as “The People”) will recognize this and rise up and throw out those who have the wherewithal to understand and use humanity’s genetic blindness for their own benefit, it is not going to happen, never has, never will. Liberalism has never prevailed by revolution or by evolution. What we experience as periods of increasing liberality and freedom are usually merely temporary. Enjoy it while it lasts.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.”

~John Adams

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

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