TODAY FROM THAILAND:
“Never under any circumstances interrupt a story!”
Bruen, Ken. Green Hell (Jack Taylor). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
After a long, tiring and mostly uneventful trip back from Thailand, I met my sister in San Francisco and she drove us to Mendocino where I slept my jet lag away.
The next day Annmarie and her husband Dean, my grandson Anthony and Irene a relative from Sabina spending a few weeks in the US arrived. Anthony is having a difficult time. Arrested again for operating his marijuana business, he is in a lot of trouble.
Later that night my other grandson Aaron arrived. On the way up he crashed his car into the back of another car that had that had stopped in the middle of the road having struck and killed a large deer. Aside from that, he seemed in good spirits and happy about his burgeoning career as a chef.
The next day we visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. While walking along the path someone going the other called out to me, “How’re you doing Pops?” I was not amused.
Later we attended the Art and Wine show at the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were a Coastal Conservancy project during my time as director. It was in danger of closing down. So, since it was considered a significant coastal resource for the area, we developed a plan for its preservation enabling it to redesign and reconstruct its physical plant and exhibits and to purchase a large parcel extending to the coast.
There also was music to go with the art and wine.
On Sunday, we went canoeing on Big River. It tired me out so I skipped lunch and took a nap.
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Finally, I returned to the Golden Hills and things ground to a halt.
My sister dropped me off at the Trans-bay Terminal and after a riding a bus, a train, the light rail and another bus I arrived at EDH Town Center three hours later. The house was still over 2 miles away and there was no way for me to get there except by walking and dragging my luggage (Mr. Suitcase) behind me.
I looked like a homeless old man searching for a place to sleep. I hoped that that image would so horrify the citizens of EDH that they would call the police who would arrest me and then, after I convinced them I belonged there, would drive me home in an air-conditioned police car. No such luck, so I struggled for another hour and a half walking with Mr. Suitcase, trudging from one bit of shade to another until I arrived home. I then took a nap.
The next day Dick and HRM arrived from Thailand. Since then I’ve returned to my usual routine — Drive H to school, eat breakfast at Bella Bru, go swimming, return home and play with the computer, pick up H from school, eat dinner and go to bed.
Today I met an old retired man from India. I was enjoying a cafe latte in the Starbuck’s at Target while waiting for H to shop for school supplies. The man sat down at the table where I sat. He was waiting for his family to finish shopping. He told me he spent half the year in New Delhi and the other half in the Golden Hills. He said that he used to be a sociologist and, although he now was retired, he sometimes still is called on to lecture about the differences between US and Indian culture. He said he often seeks out Americans to talk to in order to learn more about our culture. Then he said, in words to the effect, “Being old in America sucks. I have to hang out in this Starbuck’s in order to find someone to talk to.”
I have a new phone, an iPhone 6. It frightens me.
I went to the pool early this morning. Alas, the pool I usually swim in was occupied by an exercise class, so I sat on a beach chair to watch and wait until they finished and cleared out of the pool. One of the first things I noticed was the enormous size of the boobs that I observed. Not simply on women but on the men with their distended bellies and their man-boobs sparkling in the sun. Now I admit I had hoped to sit there and enjoy a visually erotic experience since at my age visually erotic is the only type of erotic granted me. Alas, it was anything but erotic. I then I looked down at my own body and realized I fit right in with the water exercise crew. Finally, the music accompanying the happy and vigorous workout eventually drove me to the much colder lap pool for my own usual morning workout.
This week the trees with the red flowers were in bloom throughout the subdivision. As I have mentioned before, the landscape architect for the various subdivisions did a marvelous job in siting trees that bloom in different colors throughout the year delighting those with little going on in their lives and annoying many others who suffer from pollen allergies.
HRM report: Back in school in fifth grade. Currently, he is focused on his Youtube activities, “The Haystack Show.” He is the Chairman of the Board, Director and Star, his friend Jake is the CEO, Producer, and Editor.
HRM, Pookie and Tyson HRM’s friend but not the CEO of “The Haystack Show.”
I find that spending my time with 10-year-olds is a rewarding and enjoyable as traveling around the world.
Alas, the pump that pushes the house’s wastewater up to the sewer that runs along the street broke requiring HRM and me to spend the nights until it is repaired in the Holiday in Town Center and eating in some of HRM’s favorite restaurants, MacDonald’s, Taco Bell and Panda’s.
I cannot believe I am reduced to writing about broken sewer pumps and Taco Bell.
Since I have returned to EDH my cuisine choices have been limited to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Panda and the snack bar at Target.
Sometimes we go fishing at the Duck Pond. Where I lie on the grass and stare at the sky until I fall asleep but usually I do nothing.
I guess I can report that the drought resistant spiders are back and have covered with webs the landscaping for the houses on the street prompting the migration of itinerant pest control experts knocking on our doors and promising to remove the pests in the most environmentally safe manner possible. I assume if that were true, they intend to pick up each spider individually and crush it between their thumb and forefingers.
C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
Earlier this month when a bomb blew up in Bangkok near a much-revered shrine killing almost 20 people and injuring almost 100 more, the unelected Prime Minister and leader of the country’s most recent coup said that it was an attempt to injure Thailand’s tourism industry, while completely omitting any expression of sympathy for those killed or injured.
A. Quigley on Top:
“We usually think of Christianity as the great contrast to the Roman ideology, but this is to misconceive the whole civilization. Christianity as an organization was in no way incompatible with Romanism as an organized structure. The teachings of Christ were, but these teachings were so very alien and strange that no one took them very seriously and being a Christian soon meant, not belief in Christ’s teachings but belief in Christ, a totally different thing. The same thing happened in Islam where Muhammad’s teachings were soon ignored, and the requirements of Islam became a few rituals, plus monotheism, and so far as Muhammad was concerned, belief that he was the Prophet of the One God.
The Christians cut down Christ’s teachings to a minimum also, insisted only on the belief that Christ was the Son of God and some related beliefs and certain rituals, and then began to engage in violent controversy on minute details of implications of these, very remote from Christ’s teachings or attitude. On this basis, there was not much in Christianity which could not be reconciled with the Roman system, and the original enmity between the two came more from the Roman side than from the Christian.
…The willingness of the Christians to become part of the Roman system can be seen in the present survival of the Roman Catholic Church as a copy of the Roman empire, a system organized in municipalities and provinces under an absolute ruler who uses the robes, nomenclature, language, and modes of action of the late Roman empire.”
B. Xander’s Perceptions:
“When I won my Best Screenplay award several years ago, I had the great pleasure to see a number of films. One short film in particular caught my eye. It was a musical comedy called “West Bank Story,” and . . . you guessed it — it was a take on “West Side Story,” but set on the West Bank in Israel. I laughed so hard, I triggered muscle spasms in my back, and I had to go home and lay on a hot moist heating pad. It didn’t win, which I considered an enormous injustice, but I kept in touch with the film maker, a tremendously talented guy named Ari Sandel.
I saw it was nominated for an Oscar in the live action short film category, and I called Ari and arrogantly proclaimed that he would get an Oscar before Martin Scorsese would, and he DID . . . by about 2 hours! The Live-Action Short Film award was announced very early in the broadcast, with the major categories, like best actors, director, and picture of course saved for the end.
Now I see that Ari is dating actress Julianne Hough. Some guys have ALL the luck! Hey, Juli — for once, what about dating SCREENWRITERS, huh???
“West Bank Story, just shy of 20 minutes, is uploaded here:|
But if you purchase it, Ari is donating all proceeds to a nonprofit in the Near East that benefits victims of the violence — Israelis AND Palestinians.”
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I think this animal rights thing may have gone too far. I mean, what’s wrong about a tiger living in a zoo in a place made to look like the jungle it’s never seen and free from scratches and annoyances of the wild, where someone else catches, slaughters and cuts up his food into bite-sized bits while people pay good money to watch him lie around and yawn? Wouldn’t this make him a Kardashian?
After all, humans in their natural state were made to huddle around the entrance of a cave and be periodically culled by Saber Tooth Cats and Cave Bears — not working 80 hours a week in order to afford to live in a fake greek revival house far too large to ever be fully used with a new Ferrari parked in the driveway that inevitably his doped up kids will drive into a tree.
D. Today’s Poem:
The frost has known,
From scattered conclave by the few winds blown,
That the lone genius in my roots,
Bare down there in a jungle of fruits,
Has planted a green year, for praise, in the heart of my upgrowing days.
Dylan Thomas wrote this when he was fourteen-years-old. He remained blindly arrogant and mostly drunk for the rest of his life.
E. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
n. Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.
“Republicans continue to refuse to extend [unemployment insurance]. You know what, I am beginning to think that they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.”
“You will never be the world. Other people will do as they will do and you will have to determine what you will do about that. That is your business.”
Cherryh, C. J. Tracker: A Foreigner Novel (Foreigner series) (p. 206). DAW.
A. A NIGHT IN AMMAN JORDAN:
I decided to fly to Bangkok on Royal Jordanian Airlines with a long stop-over in Amman because of the frisson of excitement in flying near a war zone, the price and the long layover that I thought would allow me to spend a few hours in the city, having dinner and viewing some of the sights. When I arrived the complications of finding my way through the airport, customs and transportation forced me to give up that plan. However, behind transfer desk a man informed told me that the airline allowed me to spend the layover at the local Marriott for free including a meal. “No tips,” he added. I surmised that that was an invitation for baksheesh discussions.
The hotel was about three or four miles from the airport and stood alone in the desert. The sun was still shining and I could see what I thought was the outskirts of Amman on the horizon. Everything else was low sand dunes traversed by a couple of roads. The desert had a slight floral scent that differed from the woody scent of the deserts in the American southwest. I had a first class room, a good meal a shower and a welcome sleep. I even enjoyed the baksheesh negotiations.
I took no photographs, alas. However knowing that some of you prefer the pictures to the writing, I have included a photo of Dubai from the air. Dubai was my alternative layover to Amman. I’m happy with my choice.
Perhaps on my next trip, I will spend an extra day or two in Amman and visit Petra — another bucket list item.
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
My last few posts were more or less a travelogue in two to three sentence bites. No matter how I tried to alter the chronology or slip in irrelevant stories, the travel through a place or between places remained foremost.
Bangkok, however, is my home (at least one of them for the time being), and no matter how exotic it may or may not be, the place becomes mere background to my daily experiences. I eat, sleep, exercise and so on. Every now and then as I go about my day something I see or experience interests me, but rarely temples, art or ceremonies.
For example, I took HRM to the Aquarium in the basement of the Paragon Shopping Center.
Another day we went to a snow park.
A few days ago I met at Donut World with the old sailor and his friend an economist for coffee, donuts, and talk. The economist had just had his prostate removed. We, despite the camaraderie, looked at each other through the frightened hollow eyes of those who finally realize the last roundup is near to hand.
The old sailor has been a professional deep sea diver, a sailor, a treasure hunter and perhaps a pirate. He keeps two dead bodies in his locker at the health club (at least their ashes which he, at the deceased’s request, spreads in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute around the world). HRM spent a pleasant morning looking at photographs of the old sailors career.
I have two new shirts now. One primarily white I consider my day and formal summer outfit. The other, a Tommy Bahama design given to me by Nikki who bought it in China, is my night and formal winter attire.
I live by one of Bangkok’s major tourist attractions, Nana Plaza. At lot of things go on there that the government denies
This is a photograph of Soi Nana. I live at the other end of the street. Nana Plaza is on the left.
Looking in the opposite direction across Sukhumvit Road is Arab Town.
It looks a lot like Soi Nana until you get close. A lot of Bangkok is like that.
Sometimes I vary my walk to the Health Club by going down an alley.
The health club has a new manager. He comes from Australia. He promises to make the place one of the premier health clubs in the city. In the meantime for the past three weeks, he cannot make up his mind as to whether members are to be allotted one or two towels per day.
On most days, I have breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Foodland and then walk through the dark little alley to the health club. The alley now has a bar catering to Africans. It is loud and cramped. Not to be outdone the Burmese bar next door has turned up the volume of the music. Everyone is dancing as I try to squeeze through the gyrating bodies and grasping hands.
When one is living in a place and retired like me, almost anything that breaks the routine I can find interesting. Today we spent five hours at a local university dental school mostly observing the wonderfully bizarre procedures that needed to be completed before I could have my teeth cleaned. After that, we had a foot massage. I then went back to the apartment and took a nap.
At the university pointing at something.
Tomorrow I go to Paradise by the Sea one mile from the Outskirts of Hell for a reunion of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table at a place called Heaven or maybe not since Heaven was busted by the Thai cops a few weeks ago.
We stayed where we usually stay at a small hotel called “Bamboo” because of the bamboo plants in front of the place that have overgrown their planter pots. It was started a few years ago by a German Gay couple and seems to be the best-maintained hotel on the block. The Little Masseuse (now retired) managed to negotiate the price down from $30 a night to 20 by pleading that I was not a rich old American, but a poor sick old man. As proof, she argued that I must be poor for hanging out with an unattractive sixty plus year old lady like her instead of a beautiful 30-year-old. She still thought it was too much to pay for a room and urged my to stay at a place $8 cheaper where you had to sleep on the floor. I told her my current penury is not such that I must descend to that level of discomfort. She believes paying more than $1.50 for dinner is irresponsible.
That night the Good/Bad David, Bill G., a young attorney from Bill’s firm who had never visited Thailand before, Dennis and I strolled along the Walking Street in the Outskirts of Hell where we ran into HRM, his mom, her latest financier, and their driver. I took HRM to the Muay Thai fights a little way along the street where one of his favorite fighters was performing.
HRM scores a punch and a kick on the champion.
After seeing off HRM and his entourage, Bill and his crew and I visited one of his GoGo bars on Soi Six. I left early leaving the others enjoying themselves. I felt too depressed at my age and circumstances to get into the swing of things and was embarrassed. I need to up my dosage of happy pills.
During the mornings at daybreak, we walk along the beach for exercise and to observe all the dead things and sodden plastic flotsam that littered the beach before the beach chair concessionaires swept the detritus back into the gulf. Many young Thais frolicked along the shore taking pictures of one another or jumping fully clothed into the waves. Thais prefer the beach before or after the sun makes it only suitable for western tourists to be out.
Later we toured some of the competitors to Dennis and Bill’s clubs — not very exciting. If you are in the Pattaya-Jomtien Beach area, however, I urge you to visit “Heaven” at Soi 11 Kasetsin, Cosy Beach Pratamnak. Tell Tina who will greet you, that I sent you. The other place you may want to visit is Winchester. It is owned by Bill and Dennis.
One evening David, LM (now retired) and I had a pretty good pizza and cannelloni at an Italian restaurant in the Jomtien Complex that is also the gay area of Jomtien Beach. It is called “Da Nicola.” The owners were from the area of Sicily my family comes from. When they learned my family comes from Canicatti, they promptly declared that the best wine in Sicily comes from there.
Upon returning to Bangkok and resuming my life there, I saw that the dark alley containing the bars that I walk through after breakfast on my way to the Health Club has been mostly torn down. It was explained to me that it was done to make it better. I could not help but notice the section removed was the portion containing the bars catering to Africans and Burmese.
One day the Thais celebrated the Prince’s birthday. Over the years, the much married royal seemed to be universally loathed. Rumors of the murder of his many mistresses and overall behavior abounded among the population of the country. But with the impending death of the much beloved King, the Prince’s birthday was a useful moment to rehabilitate him with a televised ceremony fit for a god which he did not attend but instead was represented by a 10 story photograph before which the great and near-great of the country sung his praises and lit an immense number of candles. In my apartment LM (now retired) lit a cantle and stood in front of the television reverently holding it in her hands for the entire hour-long ceremony.
Dick arrived and HRM and I accompanied him to visit the aviary in the hotel that also encompasses the health club.
And so my trip slowly cam to an end. A movie with HRM and LM (now retired), a delightful lunch with Gary, swimming almost every day, lots of naps and finally the struggle to pack and get to the airport.
C. WHAT I THINK ABOUT WHEN I AM BORED:
I am a great supporter of gay marriage or marriage between members of the same sex even if they are not gay. I believe it is superior to so-called traditional marriage. Think about it. A woman and a man get married often because after a few days of passion they believe their affection will last forever and that this qualifies them to have and raise the next generation. What usually happens in short order, however, is they begin arguing over just about everything including how to raise the kids, while the kids usually have no idea why they are squabbling since most kids find their ordinary days just fine. In about 50% of the cases the loving parents divorce (or even worse not) and the kid grows fucked up anyway.
In my case, my parents argued all the time. I never could figure out why most of the time. After they argued, my father would get drunk for a while and my mom would find a reason to hit me with a wooden spoon (I was Italian-American after all). I think that is the cause of my problems with women. I always looked for a woman who could cook like my mother, wash and clean and now and then beat me with a wooden spoon. I could manage to connect with women quite willing to beat me with a symbolic wooden spoon, but they usually balked at the cooking and cleaning.
But I digress. Gay marriages need not run into this problem as much as traditional marriages do. After all, what’s marriage but a contract that sets out the economic rights and duties of the parties. This is important especially for those rich enough to afford a prenup but too stupid to get one.
Some believe marriage is necessary to procreate and raise children. In this age of rent a womb and the purchase of the hot semen of the body type and mental acuity of choice, procreation seems more a question of cost than who one procreates with.
I’ve always been wary of designer progeny. For example, imagine a bright guy with a lot of money but lacking in physical prowess and comely features. In the hopes that his children will be beautiful, athletic and bright, he searches for a zaftig beautiful woman athlete empty headed enough to marry him. But, it is probably just as likely the kids will be a scrawny idiot as anything else. It would be the same with the brilliant woman captain of industry who beds the ripped pool boy only to find that his mind was also ripped with muscle instead of neurons.
But I digress again. You see, men and women living together can never understand each other. They are like a separate species who in the long run irritate each other to the detriment of their children. That’s probably why so many of us are fucked-up.
Assume two guys, they do not even have to be gay but they are best buds, like the Thunder Buddies, Ted and John. They like to hang out together on the sofa watching football drinking beer, farting, and scratching their crotch. One day they decide to get married to each other in order to take advantage of retirement or death benefits and also raise some kids produced through some rent a womb internet site. They probably happily live together farting and scratching, rarely fighting while teaching their kids to joyfully fart, scratch and watch football. Or, on the gay queen end of the spectrum, the couple could raise their kids gleefully painting their toenails and applying perfect mascara or whatever else it is they are into.
As for two women marrying, even Thelma and Louise when they drove off that cliff could have benefited by a marriage license should one of them have survived the fall. Two women who marry could rent a stud and raise their children to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara or whatever. Or on the bull dike end of the spectrum teach them to fart, scratch their crotch and watch football on television. They all probably will be content and so will the kids.
Of course, then we will be raising two types of people, those who like to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara and those who like to fart and scratch their crotch. Unfortunately, I fear soon someone will start a new religion, or go on Fox News and argue it is bad for the nation that one group of happy tykes likes mascara and painted toenails and another farting and scratching and that marriage should be limited to one parent who likes one and another who likes the other so that the children can receive the full experience of being human.
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
The recent drought in Thailand has wrought havoc with the nations rice crop prompting the country’s Prime Minister to suggest the distressed farmers rely less on water-dependent crops like rice and plant more profitable crops that use less water, like a herb that he heard promotes male virility.
I few weeks later, this same worthy announced farmers were to be cut off from government controlled water supplies in favor of urban uses. He also announced the drought will end next month and the farmers who are not growing male virility herbs can again begin growing food for the nation. He later recommended that those who have water voluntarily share it with those who do not. He almost sounds like he is running for the US Republican Presidential nomination. I should be more careful, statements like the last one could get me arrested here.
Recently Wikileaks reported that Thailand was among the countries who purchased eavesdropping equipment allowing it to spy on its citizens. This same unelected but self-described democratically popular leader denied the report but added, that the nation’s citizens and others have nothing to fear if they are not doing something illegal. Something illegal includes criticism of the nations leaders or their actions.
The proposed new Thai Constitution would make it illegal and unconstitutional for legislators and the public to object to any project included in any five-year development plan established and adopted by a commission of non-elected political appointees.
Frank Capra, the famous Italian-American movie director, during WWII, directed a number of propaganda films for the United States Military under the general title of “Why we Fight.” Shortly after the war, he directed, on behalf of the US Signal Corps a short movie entitled, “Your Job in Germany,” in which he cautions American Servicemen about fraternization with the German populace in violation of international agreements among the victorious allies.
Now, I am not here to apologize for Capra’s rampant misguided conservatism or the “bitter and angry” anti-German tenor of the film, but given the recent events regarding the German government’s aggressive and implacable attitude on behalf of the German banking establishment against the ordinary people of Greece, even to the point of violating the fundamental doctrine of neo-liberal economics that both sides of a commercial agreement should bear the risks without governmental interference, perhaps another look at the film is warranted.
Capra, in the film, reminds us of Germany’s repeated aggressions — first in 1870 under “Otto von Bismarck,” then in 1914 under “Kaiser Wilhelm II,” and finally in 1939 under “Adolf Hitler.” Each time before the aggression commenced he points out through extensive flashbacks and newsreels the German people were portrayed as industrious, fun-loving, dancing and singing and full of good cheer. Well, once again the German people are happy and perhaps are singing and dancing also.
Capra was clearly wrong in attributing to the people as a whole responsibility for repeatedly following the siren call of their ruling classes, whether Junker, Nazi or modern Banker. Clearly those ruling classes appear to have learned by now that the road to lebensraum may not lie through the barrel of a gun but perhaps more effectively through one-sided agreements, enforced by non-elected international bureaucrats where the non-German, the non-Banker and the poor bear all the risks flowing from the failure of a commercial contract.
Arguments have been made that in the previous cases had the other great powers (or even one other) resisted the slide into a shooting war much pain and suffering could have been avoided. Alas, once again the shortsightedness of big power politics (for example, the US worry about Russia requires it to weigh allowing Germany free rein in Europe against the risk of losing their support for US policies confronting supposed Russia aggression) may only make things worse — until it is too late.
A. Quigley on Top:
“I define democracy as majority rule and minority rights. Of these the second is more important than the first. There are many despotisms which have majority rule. Hitler held plebiscites in which he obtained over 92 percent of the vote, and most of the people who were qualified to vote did vote. I think that in China today a majority of the people support the government, but China is certainly not a democracy.”
THE MYTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Carroll Quigley presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on August 17, 1972.
B. Xander’s Perceptions:
“It sickens and infuriates me to see the cynical hypocrisy of conservatives. And yesterday I heard that Social Security Disability payments could be cut 19% by the GOP-controlled Congress. The funding will run out next year, and there is an impasse between Democrats and the GOP. Obama has been all too willing to cave in on such negotiations, but if the 10.9 million people who will lose on average $190 a month — this, for people like me who HAVE no other income, no means of other support, and no ability to do so — if this happens right before the 2016 elections, the GOP could end up like the Whig Party . . . in the political graveyard with other assholes, like the Know Nothings (which the GOP should be called!).”
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
1. Government protection of investors.
“Government shielding of investors wealth from full liability for the actions of a corporation violates a fundamental tenet of neo-liberal economic theory and makes almost everything it rationalizes invalid. Until investors in commercial enterprises are forced to protect their wealth through the purchase of insurance as they did before the government created the state enterprises we call corporations, neo-liberal economic analysis is substantially flawed.”
2. Political Correctness.
“I think political correctness has gone too far. After all. what could be offensive about calling Jesus Christ a gay fish monger?”
D. Today’s Poem:
Endless daze, sweaty nights
Long night until morning,
Dream breasted, shadow stalked.
Arid lips salt sweated.
Laughter dreams and horror
Dawn faded long ago.
Dreamless sleep’s dark nightmare
Now haunts our withered days.
POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
2011: Asia accounts for over 60% of the world population with almost 3.8 billion people. China and India together have about 40 percent.
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
1. The Adventures of Thaksin the Terrible: Recently during his trip to Japan that has caused a major political row, the exiled fugitive ex Prime Minister of Thailand and brother of the newly elected Prime Minister announced that he had no immediate plans to return to Thailand. “I want to relax and enjoy my life,” he said. Of his involvement in his sister’s new administration he did however acknowledge, “If they need any advice, they just call me.”
2. Division of Labor in Thailand: If it does not require a uniform or operation of heavy machinery, it is woman’s work.
3. The New Government Takes Over: Under Thai law a newly elected government cannot officially take over until it has presented its plan for governing to the legislature. Usually this plan is little more than the warmed over platitudes and its presentation as uncontroversial as raising the debt limit has been in the United States. But perhaps taking a page from the Republican Party’s political book that nothing is so inconsequential as to become and opportunity to hold the nation at ransom in an effort to bring down the opposition party, the opposition Democrats used the presentation to turn the initial act of the new government into turmoil. However, unlike the supine Democratic Party in the United States, newly installed Pheu Thai Party, fought back and ultimately terminated debate when things appeared to be getting out of hand. The press was upset.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
Upon leaving my apartment and the cul-de-sac on which it sits and continuing my daily morning walk to and from the health club, I often pass by local residents going about their business. Today’s Photograph below shows a group of local children playing, as they do the world over, in the mostly traffic free streets of cul-de-sacs. Ok I admit it is more a dead-end street than the refined little stub streets ending in circles that grace the traditional American subdivision to which the marketing departments of the development industry has given it its Frenchified name, so sue me.
Anyway, the photograph shows a very ornate gate shielding one of the few private homes that still exist in Bangkok’s built up urban areas. To the left of the gate and behind the wall shielding the building are two aviaries containing several large raucous birds. Thais seem to prefer birds as pets to the cats and dogs we so famously coddle in the West.
The cinder-block wall with the green plastic sheet on top at the extreme right of the photograph, shields a dozen or so corrugated metal two-story windowless shacks in which, I guess, live the Cambodian and Burmese workers on construction of the high-rise condominiums steadily marching down the sois from Sukhumvit. I assume the shacks do not have running water because I noticed that in the compound there are two large cement containers separate from the shacks into which water runs and at which I have seen residents bathing and washing clothing.
In the evening some of the residents stand on the steps to the second floor of the shacks smoking, talking or just looking off into the distance. The little masseuse has warned me not to stare at them as I walk by because it could elicit a challenge.
I always wondered about that when I was growing up in my own US East Coast version of a slum. To look someone in the eyes as you passed usually got you a, “Who you looking at?” challenge forcing you either to apologize, run away or accept the challenge. Why the hell couldn’t you look at someone? I thought looking someone in the eye communicated trustworthiness, honesty or blatant fraud. As Naida describes in her wonderful books the Native Americans of California believed it impolite to look directly at someone when speaking to them, which got a lot of them killed. I guess a lot of cultures, especially among the poor have that taboo.
Anyway when as a young boy or teenager when challenged that way I was always too frightened to simply say something clever in response, concerned it would cause the confrontation to escalate. Apology was out of the question since it usually only encouraged them to become more aggressive. I could not run away for fear of embarrassment and that I would be too slow to make a successful escape. And just standing there seemed stupid. So I usually moved toward my challenger preferring to take my thrashing sooner rather than later. To my surprise more often than not that would cause my antagonist to begin talking and my fear if immediate doom would dissipate. But not always, sometimes I would get my ass kicked.
See, this is what I mean when I said in my previous “This and that…” simply the mundane of ones every day surroundings can lead to splendid voyages of the imagination or pitiful reminisces. Here, I just travelled back in time to the terrors of my youth in the slums of New York and I had not even reached the end of the cul-de-sac or the dead-end, whatever.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
This post has gotten too long so I decided to skip this issue of “Red Star”.
a. Eponymous laws:
Wike’s law of low odd primes — “If the number of experimental treatments is a low odd prime number, then the experimental design is unbalanced and partially confounded.” (Wike, 1973, pp. 192-193).
Wow! That’s good to know. Thank you.
b. From God‘s Mouth to your ears:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS:
There were three sets of commandments that God supposedly gave to Moses:
A) The first time Moses came down from Mount Sinai with commandments, he merely recited a list (Exodus 20:2-17), which is the version most churches today erroneously call the “Ten Commandments,” although they were not engraved on stone tablets and not called “the ten commandments.”
B) The first set of stone tablets was given to Moses at a subsequent trip up the mountain (Exodus 31:18). In this story, Moses petulantly destroyed those tablets when he saw the people worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32:19).
C) So he went back for a replacement. God told Moses: “Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” (Exodus 34:1) Here is what was on the replacement tablets (from Exodus 34:14-26):
1) Thou shalt worship no other God.
2) Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3) The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
4) Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
5) Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
6) Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the Lord God.
7) Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
8) Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.
9) The first of the firstfruits of thy land shalt thou bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
10) Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
Keep this in mind next time you are tempted to boil a goat. This list differs, obviously, from the one in Exodus 20 (was God’s memory faulty?), but it is only this list that is called the “Ten Commandments”: “And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)
c. Testosterone Chronicles:
Recent psychological studies have shown that threats to ones manhood causes significant anxiety in men. On the other hand these same studies indicate that women couldn’t care less if their gender is threatened.
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
– Nassim Taleb
“It’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
It now costs the US $694,000 to keep each service member in Afghanistan, up from $667,000 in 2009. In Iraq, the cost has gone from $512,000 in 2007 to $802,000 this year.
George Bush could be considered the American version of Leonid Brezhnev, in that he attempted to fight a war without asking the country’s power élite to share in its costs and ignored evidence of unbridled war profiteering. About a decade after its misadventure in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union collapsed. Could it happen here?
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND :
1. The Decline of the Dollar. The precipitous decline of the dollar against the Thai Baht continues. It has affected me personally in that my income has diminished between 15 to 20 percent since I first arrived here to begin my retirement 18 months ago. Where I previously used to be able to save enough to travel, I can no longer do so. As a result, alas, I have been compelled to explore income augmentation strategies (in other words, god forbid, a job or some facsimile thereof).
2. Grounds for another Coup: The government has vowed to press ahead with its plan to amend the coup-sponsored Constitution, raising concerns about possible renewed political confrontation since the existing Constitution was imposed by the military following the coup that remover the current Prime Minister’s brother from power.
3. Gold: High gold prices have prompted many Burmese migrant workers in Thailand to sell gold they brought with them from their home country, hoping for a handsome profit, but the gold shops here say the Burmese gold is of low purity.
4. Farangs: There are over 100,000 resident Westerners in Thailand, according to research by Robert Howard from the University of New South Wales. They come mainly from Britain, Germany, the US, the Netherlands, France, Canada and Australia. Most live in areas with large numbers of expats, such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and other tourist centers such as Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Hua Hin.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
We who grew up in western culture often consider concentration and focus as more of less synonymous. To others they are not so. Meditation, for example, can be considered an exercise to separate concentration from focus. In the jungle, surrounded by the cacophony of green and brown shapes, light and shadow that presses chaotically on ones senses, indigenous hunters learn to unfocus their eyes so that the visual chaos is replaced with a sensitivity to non rhythmic movement in the foliage that generally signifies the passage of thigh energy protein.
On the other hand, navigating the chaos of the urban jungle tends to tightly focus us on what we expect to see, for example, the sidewalk checking for imperfections that may trip us or in Bangkok for holes that may drop us into the fetid canals that run beneath. Or,we look for signs or symbols that tell us that things are available that we may or may not be interested in acquiring. The separation between the edge of the sidewalk tells us to be aware and alter our focus so that we can avoid those things that move fast enough to harm us.
Other things, we either miss or ignore.
When I look at a photograph of the street, movement that would have occupied my attention as I walk along, ceases, replaced by the visual complexity that I usually ignore as I pass by.
With all that nonsense out-of-the-way, let me begin a description of my typical day as I search for meaning or at least entertainment.
After rising and in some cases eating breakfast in my room, I pick up the shoulder bag containing my exercise clothing and what ever and leave my apartment making sure I attach the various security devices to the door knob. I take the elevator down to the ground floor and exit the building on to the cul-de-sac. I have attached a photograph below looking back at my cul-de-sac. My building is on the right. I know it is not much to look at, but it is my neighborhood and I have a certain affection for it even if I have never spoken to anyone I have seen around there, nor have any idea who they are or what they do.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Horace Jerome, sat sipping his espresso at a corner table of a restaurant at the edge of San Francisco’s North Beach. The place was created by a well known Hollywood director in order to push the slightly better than mediocre wines produced from the Napa Valley vineyard he had bought with the proceeds of his more successful films.
Harry as he preferred to be called contemplated the note he had been reading from that began, ” We need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. “The wages of sin is death,” as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures.”
a. Eponymous laws:
Aaronson’s distinction or Do waterfalls play chess? and other stories:
“After a brief introduction to complexity theory (Section 2), Aaronson turns his attention to one of the main cornerstones of this field, which is also one the points that are usually criticized: the relevance of polynomial time, as opposed to exponential time. Here he argues that this distinction is at least as interesting as the distinction between computable and uncomputable. Section 3.3 contains an interesting question that can be answered using a complexity-theoretic argument: why would we call 243112609 − 1 (together with a proof of its primality) a “known” prime, while “the first prime large than 243112609 − 1” feels somehow “unknown”?”
Why indeed? I also agree that the distinction is at least as interesting, perhaps even more so. What do you think? What is it that this could be a “main cornerstone” of? I love math even more than I love science.
b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):
“In Science, a physical theory that is logically consistent may be considered truth only until falsified. In Economics, a sociological theory that is logically inconsistent is often considered true even when falsified.”
c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:
Reverend Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association’s Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy and host of its flagship radio show Focal Point and a Rick Perry insider:
held gays responsible for the Holocaust and likened them to domestic terrorists and Nazis who are intent on committing “virtual genocide” against the military, and asserts that “homosexuals should be disqualified from public office”; said “we have feminized the Medal of Honor” by awarding it to a soldier who saved his fellow combatants rather than killing enemies; demanded all immigrants “convert to Christianity” and renounce their religions; asserted that Muslims have “no fundamental First Amendment claims” and should be banned from building mosques and deported from the US, adding that Muslims are inherently stupid as a result of inbreeding;
claimed African-American women “rut like rabbits” due to welfare and that Native Americans are “morally disqualified” from living in America because they didn’t convert to Christianity and were consequently cursed by God with alcoholism and poverty; said that the anti-Muslim manifesto of the right-wing Christian terrorist who killed dozens in Norway was “accurate.”
d. Profiles in Presidential Courage:
“To balance our budget in 1933 or 1934 or 1935 would have been a crime against the American people. To do so we should either have had to make a capital levy that would have been confiscatory, or we should have had to set our face against human suffering with callous indifference. When Americans suffered, we refused to pass by on the other side. Humanity came first.
No one lightly lays a burden on the income of a Nation. But this vicious tightening circle of our declining national income simply had to be broken. The bankers and the industrialists of the Nation cried aloud that private business was powerless to break it. They turned, as they had a right to turn, to the Government. We accepted the final responsibility of Government, after all else had failed, to spend money when no one else had money left to spend.
I adopted, therefore, the other alternative. I cast aside a do nothing or a wait-and-see policy.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1936
f. Testosterone Chronicles:
Recent psychological studies indicate that to men manhood is a precarious social status, both an elusive and tenuous social milestone, difficult to achieve, and once earned, easily lost.
In one empirical test where participants were asked about the degree to which the transitions from boyhood to manhood and girlhood to womanhood were the result of social or biological milestones, women indicated no significant differences among the attributions to the transition to womanhood, but male participants were significantly more likely to attribute transition from boyhood to manhood to social causes than to biological causes.
In other words, women took a look at themselves and were reasonably certain they were women, men were not so sure until someone told them so.
“Three wise men — are you serious? “
CLASSIC BONUS QUOTE:
“The world is a ball of dung and we are the worms that live in it and eat each other. The one who eats all the others wins — but he is still the last living worm in a lump of shit.”
Tad Williams, Shadowrise.
It is interesting to note that whenever a graphed curve on a chart used to reflect a complex biological or social system achieves a slope rising almost straight up, it usually signals an imminent collapse.