Abercrombie, Joe. The Trouble with Peace: 2 (The Age of Madness) (p. 15). Orbit.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
THE INTERREGNUM CONTINUES.
Trump seems to have used up most of his challenges to the results of the vote but refuses to concede or give up. Mr. Incompetent, Rudy Giuliani, continues to embarrass himself before the public and in the courts.
We had a pandemic appropriate socially distant thanksgiving dinner. A few days before the holiday, Naida and her two daughters agreed we would have dinner together using Zoom. They divided up who would bring what food to the feast. We were assigned the deserts and bought pumpkin, Cranberry-walnut, and Pecan pies. On Thanksgiving Day we made some whipped cream using a hand egg-beater, divided everything up into three shares and delivered two of them to the homes of each daughter, left them before the door, rang the bell, scurried back to our car, and drove back home were we found the daughters had left the rest of our dinner on our doorstep.
At about four o’clock we turned on Zoom, ate our meal together and talked about schizophrenia, murder hornets, and families. It was all good fun. More family holidays should be spent this way. It saves on clean up our homes and the effect of suffering an entire day in the presence of slightly inebriated relatives.
The Day Before.
Early in the morning on the day before Thanksgiving we drove into the City for my infusion appointment. I always enjoy traveling long distances in a car with Naida. She keeps up a running monologue of stories, memories, observations, comments, warnings of imminent death as a result of my poor driving and much more. I need neither radio commentators or music to occupy my mind on long trips like that.
At the hospital, my usual oncologist was off to his home in Korea for the next few months. He was replaced by a doctor who had conducted some of the original studies on keytruda, the immunological wonder drug that has changed the way cancer is treated. He told me when I first came began my treatment, almost two years ago, I was given less than 10 months to lived. I then asked him what he thought my life expectancy would be now. “Oh,” he said, “perhaps as much as 10 more months or even 10 years or more.” Apparently, much, but not all, of the tumor has crystalized.
After we left the hospital, we met up with Peter and Barrie and had a marvelous dinner together at Bacco’s new restaurant in Noe Valley.
The Day After.
The day after Thanksgiving, I picked up Hayden and Kaleb and drove into Fair Oaks to pick up the bass guitar I had bought him for Christmas. We had dinner at BurgerKing. I spent most of Saturday at the Toyota dealership waiting for them to replace the airbags that had been recalled.
And So On.
The weekend went by as fleeting as a whisper in a rainstorm. By Tuesday evening we were watching Crossing Delancey (the Jewish version of Moonlight). My reading, social media surfing and movie watching allows me to assimilate othes experience in an ongoing epistemological osmosis. The story of my life, all I know, I gleaned from what others told me they had learned. And, if I have learned anything myself, it is that most of it was a lie or at least an exaggeration. I thought I could see the past and the present and the future all at once, as though time were not sequential in nature but took place without a beginning or an end, like a flash of green light rippling outward from the center of creation. Now that I think about it, the fundamental truth of ones experience is that everything that happens, every bit of knowledge that you obtain, matters only in terms of what you can learn from it going forward. In other words, “Tomorrow is another day,” and, “it’s always something” no less and probably no more.
It is now Wednesday, Trump appears to be planning to hold a farewell party at the White House at the same time as Biden’s inauguration. The inept litigation over the counts continue. Rumors of pardons for Trump and family abound and the rats continue to dribble out from the sinking ship. A Georgia Republican official fed up with the President’s attacks and the threatened violence by his mindless supporters made the best speech of the interregnum when he said:
“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia.” You have the right to go to the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do — and you need to step up and say this — is: stop inspiring people to commit acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt; someone’s going to get shot; someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right.”
“Joe DiGenova today asked for Chris Krebs — a patriot who ran CISA — to be shot, A twenty-something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches from an EMS to a county computer so he could read it.”
“The straw that broke the camel’s back today is this 20-year-old contractor for a voting system company just trying to do his job… I talked to Dominion today, and they said he’s one of the better ones they got. His family is getting harassed now. There’s a noose out there with his name on it. It’s just not right,” Sterling said. “I’ve got police protection outside my house. Fine. I took a higher profile job. The secretary ran for office, his wife knew that too. [But] this kid? He took a job. He just took a job, and it’s just wrong. I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this, and every American, every Georgian — Republican and Democrat alike — should have that same level of anger.
“I’m talking about Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, two people whom I still support. But they need to step up.”
“This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you could take a position of leadership, show some. This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. Fight for every single vote. Go through your due process. We encourage that! Use your First Amendment — That’s fine. Death threats? Physical threats? Intimidation? It’s too much, it’s not right. They’ve lost the moral high ground to claim that it is.”
Naida and I continue our days of self-quarantine as we usually do while we await the coming of the vaccine like those souls imprisoned in the concentration camps awaited the arrival of the allied forces.
Thursday brought another trip to The Big Endive By The Bay. This time for some CT scans. We took Boo-boo the Barking Dog with us. Naida drove all the way to San Francisco. She was too busy driving to tell me stories and chatter like she usually does on long trips so I slept most of the way. After the scans were completed we had lunch sitting on a bench in front of a delightful little sandwich shop at the corner of Castro and 24th street where Bud’s Ice Cream shop used to be. We then spent an hour sitting in chairs in front of Peter and Barrie’s house and laughing a lot with them.
After that I drove to my son Jason’s house for another sidewalk meeting, this time to exchange Christmas presents.
Then I drove us home. It was Naida’s time to sleep. After we got hime we watched Waterworld and laughed.
It has been a lovely autumn so far this year. The weather warm, in the mid-sixties. The autumn colors, a bit subdued but here and there were glorious. The lawns and walkways in the Enchanted Forest covered in leaf-fall that crackled like gun shots as you walk through them. On the East coast we had amazing leaf falls because of the great preponderance of deciduous trees. Here the west-coast evergreen usually predominate, except here in the Enchanted Forest where trees from around the world have been planted like in some giant arboretum. Their autumn leaf fall rivals the East. In the East the leaves on the ground do not crackle like they do here because the weekly rains often leaves them limp and soggy.
On Saturday, Naida and I sat in our chairs in the studio until well into the late afternoon. She read the third volume of her friend Persia Woolley’s masterful trilogy about Queen Guenivire King Arthur’s wife. I read the 19th or so novel of Jim Butcher’s not so great series about a sex starved wizard who lives in Chicago. Naida periodically would read me interesting passages from Persia’s book. I refused to read to her anything from Butcher’s. I simply could not consider a skinny six-foot seven-inch wizard killing a demon along Lakeshore Drive would be of interest to anyone but me. Especially, when that someone had just read me Persia’s retelling of the tale about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Sunday, I traveled into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and drive him to Roseville in order to fix the amplifier for his guitar. That do we had lunch at a Hawaiian BBQ place. During the drive he told me that he had never realized until recently how lucky he had been to travel as much as he had and live and experience so many diverse cultures.
While reading Tana French’s most recent novel The Searcher, I ran across a short scene in which the main character, a hulking ex-cop from Chicago now living in the Wicklow Mountains in rural Ireland, tries to explain to the thirteen-year-old Irish girl his approach to living. I found it intriguing. He attempts to distinguish between morals, manners, etiquette and code.
“Etiquette is the stuff you gotta do just ’cause that’s how everyone does it. Like holding your fork in your left hand, or saying ‘Bless you’ if someone sneezes.”
“Manners is treating people with respect. The thing is that many of their most passionate moral stances, as far as Cal can see, have to do with what words you should and shouldn’t use for people, based on what problems they have, what race they are, or who they like to sleep with. While Cal agrees that you should call people whatever they prefer to be called, he considers this to be a question of basic manners, not of morals.”
“Morals involve something more than terminology. “Morals…is the stuff that doesn’t change. The stuff you do no matter what other people do. Like, if someone’s an asshole to you, you might not be mannerly to him; you might tell him to go fuck himself, or even punch him in the face. But if you see him trapped in a burning car, you’re still gonna open the door and pull him out. However much of an asshole he is. That’s your morals.”
“My Code is I just try to do right by people.You gotta come up with your own code.”
What struck me was not the character’s advice to the young girl, but the author’s simplistic attempt to divide conscious behavior into these four words. Of course even if I agree with them and to some extent I do, just a little analysis will show we have something like Plato’s cave here where the words and the sentiments may appear real, but the in actuality one just ends up with a shadow world of shifting meanings. As Whitehead and Russell pointed out a hundred years ago words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. Goedel a few years later proved even mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. I guess, it is all Just another way of describing Plato’s metaphor. And, as I point out below perhaps even those shadows may not be real in this quantum universe of ours.
Nevertheless, philosophy aside, to divide up our conscious behavior into a hierarchy of the four categories Etiquette, Manners, Morals and Code seems practical. At least it gives a simple standard that allows one to distinguish between just pissing other people off and embarrassing oneself, and what may be important to your conscience.
I wonder if I have a code or if I just drift through life and respond to things based just on long forgotten experiences and how I am feeling at the time? I would think long and hard about this if I were a lot younger. At my age etiquette, manners, morals and code are simply a matter if comfort.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES: THE HEARTBREAK OF MAN BOOBS.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND, MAY 19, 2012.
It rained again today in Bangkok. The Little Masseuse equipped me with one of those umbrellas that cleverly fold up every which way until they are small enough carry in your pocket. When opened it becomes a tiny umbrella, not that much larger than a paper parasol in a Mai Tai. It is just about large enough to keep the rain off of my already hat protected head, but too small to prevent the rest of me from becoming drenched.
I have lost over 25 pounds as a result of my diet and exercise regime as well as about two and one half inches from my waist. I have even begun to see little bumps emerge from my body’s subcutaneous fat that I assume are muscles. Either that or I am sicker than I imagined. Nevertheless, when I look into the mirror to observe the changes, my eyes are inevitably drawn to that persistent bane of the aging male, my man boobs. They stare back at me. Those pendulous D-cup protrusions seeming even bigger than ever.
When I searched the internet for exercises that promise to eliminate drooping man boobs like there are for sagging bellies and those draperies of flesh that dangle beneath your upper arm, I was disappointed to find that there are none.
Is this then the way it is with most men; no matter what we do we will still die with, sagging man boobs? At least with older women those derelict appendages arguably had a purpose (perhaps several purposes) at one time, but what have my boobs ever done for me?
OBJECTIVE REALITY DOES NOT EXIST.
On September 20, 2019, Massimiliano Proietti and his associates published the results of quantum experiments that demonstrated that Objective Reality does not exist. By experiment they proved that two observers of a quantum interaction can observe two different realities, which are both equally real and correct simultaneously, even if they contradict each other. The implication of this assertion is that in quantum physics there is no objective reality; that reality itself is observer-dependent.
The scientific method relies on facts, established through repeated measurements and agreed upon universally, independently of who observed them. In quantum mechanics the objectivity of observations is not so clear, most markedly exposed in Wigner’s eponymous thought experiment where two observers can experience seemingly different realities. The question whether the observers’ narratives can be reconciled has only recently been made accessible to empirical investigation, through recent no-go theorems that construct an extended Wigner’s friend scenario with four observers. In a state-of-the-art six-photon experiment, we realize this extended Wigner’s friend scenario, experimentally violating the associated Bell-type inequality by five standard deviations. If one holds fast to the assumptions of locality and free choice, this result implies that quantum theory should be interpreted in an observer-dependent way.”
But, of course, we all knew that. Hell, anyone who has dropped a psychedelic has experienced it.
It should be pointed out Lindgren and Liukkonen from Finland
in a recent article disagree:
“The results suggest that there is no logical reason for the results to be dependent on the person conducting the measurement. According to our study, there is nothing that suggests that the consciousness of the person would disturb the results or create a certain result or reality,”
“The dust is settling, the King is Dead, the Republic stands and a legislative journeyman is in charge.”
“I don’t think the media really quite understands what happened this week. The old order just died. In the space of three days: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the President Elect took the bipartisan moderate Senators’( all six of them) $906B stimulus package, told Pelosi and Schumer to back it( they really didn’t want too) and presto , Biden has a working majority of at least 51 in the Senate and 230 or so in the House ( counting the bipartisan “ Problem Solvers caucus”). Not too bad for an old veteran.“
“But it’s just the opening play for a foxy legislator like Biden. I’ve seen this movie before: Willie Brown ran CA. when he was the minority leader in the mid 80s, Deukmajian was Governor, and he matched his minority with 5 Republican Assembly members, and effectively controlled the legislature. Now it’s not the same in 2021 Washington, but the maneuver is the same: create a bipartisan working majority on the big legislative proposals and the rest will take care of itself. While the Senate still has the filibuster requirement of 60 votes, the real problem has been getting reasonable legislation to the floor for a vote. In the last 10 years McConnell, for various reasons, has been able to obstruct normal legislative action on the floor. In this new era of a Biden Presidency, that apparently will no longer be possible.”
“In the last three days McConnell has been put in a corner. At least three members of his own caucus have said enough is enough, they want to legislate and move bills to the floor for a vote. McConnell doesn’t have the horsepower to stop that now that Trump is a lame duck and Biden is the new power player in Washington. And Biden is an old fox with lots of tricks.”
“My prediction: a nice warm stimulus package will pass in December. And it’s just the start of a new era of bipartisan legislating. It’s the Biden Congressional majority in the making.”
The free market system favors psychopaths like basketball favors the tall.
C. Today’s Poem:
During this time of self-quarantine, I wrote a poem… or, more accurately, I plagiarized most of it. I had been reading a 2004 mystery novel set in post Cultural-Revolution China written by an Asian-American writer named Qui about Yin, a translator, and her lover, a poet, named Yang. About half-way through the novel, I came across a poem supposedly written by Yang. It was unremarkable as I read it, but it stayed in my head as I read on. I then went back to the poem and reviewed it again and again. There was something about it that grabbed me like an anchor grabs the seabed in a storm. Finally I rearranged and rewrote it and published it in My Poetic Side as follows:
You don’t have to be a snowman
to stand in the snow
to the howling wind,
in the view
at your carrot nose.
Yin and Yang, interestingly, can be translated into English as moon and sun, or together, everything. Qui can also be translated as, all or everything, nothing at all, or as the relative pronoun, who. I named the poem “A Homage To Yin, Yang and Qui.”
D. Sicilian Mores and Tales: Nonverbal Communication.
“Conquered by so many peoples over so many centuries, this island has developed a unique culture of nonverbal communication. I don’t mean random gesticulations, but a genuine language capable of attracting someone’s attention or warning them, affirming something or denying it, flattering, flirting or insulting—and all at a safe distance. There are age-old gestures that have become so ingrained in Sicilians as to be practically innate. Gestures also keep up with the times, and children’s can often differ from those of their parents. The best known is, of course, the “little crown,” in which the thumb and all the fingers are brought together and the hand or hands loosely or violently shaken in front of the body. This is a gesture of general activation with which to lend one’s words emphasis or convey that the other person is talking utter poppycock. If you want to persuade someone or beg them to do something, you fold your hands loosely in front of your chest and shake them up and down. To signal to a friend that it’s time to go or tell someone else to push off, you slap the back of one hand with the palm of the other. The sign for a hoodlum is a thumb drawn across the cheek like a knife. The gesture meaning “fear” is the little crown rapidly opening and closing. Thumb and index finger splayed and shaken signifies “Nothing to be done.” Both index fingers extended close together and moving to and fro a little means “They’re a couple, let’s talk about them behind their back.” If you quickly brush the underside of your chin with the back of your hand, it means “No, no way, never, forget it!” As children, my cousins and I had a gesture meaning “I’ll kill you.” This was two extended fingers rapidly applied to the lips. Nowadays children extend a hand and tap the clenched fist with the thumb as if operating a game controller. There are hundreds of gestures. They fill the whole of Palermo like a strange flock of birds excitedly fluttering along with its inhabitants and never coming to rest.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Handsome Antonio (An Auntie Poldi Adventure) (p. 154). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.
E. Giants of History: The Rabbi from Nazareth.
In the US we have a problem regarding the good gay messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Many people say they love Him very much.
The problem is Jesus went on and on about things like helping the unfortunate, forgiveness, healing the sick and things like that. He liked women and hung out with them a lot. He did not think they should be punished if they happened to have done things other people did not like, even if it had to do with sex. He even often had a handsome man around him who he called his beloved and they would lay their heads on each others breast. He also said that unbelievers could be better in God’s eyes than believers if they behave kindly toward others. Jesus hated those who used religion to benefit themselves financially. He preached that it is the good things you do, not what you believe that matters to God.
Unfortunately, many of those who claim they love Jesus a lot, also believe that those who like what Jesus said they should do like oh, feed the poor, actually hate Jesus.
This seems to be a common situation among men to claim to love someone for no discernible reason but despise what the object of their adoration tells them to do whenever it benefits someone other than myself.
Yes, this sounds like another screed about conservatives. And yes conservatives tend to behave like this in Thailand, back in Jesus time and even in the US and elsewhere today. And yes, their leaders are often the society’s rich and powerful.
But liberals have their own problems. Liberals seem to often fall in love with a messiah whose words they agree with. If Jesus were alive today liberals probably would urge Him to run for office. And if He succeeded in getting elected, they would all go home and happily wait for their Messiah to perform His miracles and make everything like they think it should be. When that does not happen, they will become disappointed and would probably go to Him and complain. He would point out that He said that the miracles could happen only if they all changed their ways together and worked at it along with Him. The liberals would not like that and go home. This then would allow those who loved Jesus but not what He told them they should be doing to come in and toss Him into the garbage or worse.
In fact, that was what happened during Jesus time. The liberals, known then as the Apostles and Disciples, urged him to run for King, then when the shit hit the fan they all ran and hid. They only came out again after things quieted down.
Note: Everything written above applies to Men only. Remember, the women did not run and hide. They bravely appeared at the crucifixion and at the tomb despite the danger [and, if I recall correctly, so did the beloved disciple].
“A pirate walks into a bar. He’s got a steering wheel sticking out of his fly. Bartender says, ‘That looks uncomfortable’ and the pirate says, ‘Yarrgh, it’s driving me nuts!’”
Wong, David. Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick (Zoey Ashe) . St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.
Symmetry is a beautiful thing.” Baba Giufa
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES ON THE ROAD TO PERHAPS THE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL ELECTION OF OUR TIME.
It is six days until the presidential election:
I am hopeful but still frightened that the worst may happen with the coming election. Naida and I, like most of America, are entering our ninth month of self-quarantine. Strangely, just this past month, I have begun to feel more comfortable with my socially-distancing lifestyle. Naida and I seem to have started to relish our time together just sitting in front of the television watching cable news or old movies and talking to it or to each other about something or another we want the television commentators or each other to admire. At other times we just rattle on to one another or to the dog or into the aether like institutionalized Alzheimer patients. Then, in the evening, we retreat upstairs to bed, lie in each other’s arms and recap the high points of the day.
Four more days until the election:
The painting by my cousin, the Australian artist Alexandra Leti, has been returned from the framer and hung on our the wall in our hall.
I drove into the Golden Hills today and picked up HRM and two of his besties at the skatepark. While driving them home, I received a call from the good/bad David in South Dakota. Haden and David being old friends, had a long conversation. David told me the farmers in South Dakota had a bad year this year because the soil was waterlogged from excessive rain last winter.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, we watched a horror movie of sorts starring David Niven and Deborah Kerr in which Niven plays a nobleman somewhere in France in the 1950s and Kerr is his wife. They are involved in a ritual requiring Niven, the heir to an ancient castle, to die in order to save the local grape crop. The castle is suitably creepy and the black and white photography properly dramatic. Unfortunately, the plot was ridiculous. Niven dies, the wife and children drive off promising never to return while the evil townspeople stand silently in the rain watching them go. I do not know if it helped the grape harvest. I hope it did otherwise it’s a lot tsuris going to waste.
I hate horror movies. They frightened me as a child and gave me nightmares. Apparently, TCM has been having a horror movie festival in honor of Halloween. I do not know why I am watching horror movies now. One would think 2020 has contained enough horror for anyone. Anyway, we also watched The Wicker Man and then went to bed. I did not have any nightmares that I remember.
Three days before the election:
Biden and Obama campaigned in Michigan. In the morning, we watched The Picture of Dorian Gray on the television. By the end, we had had enough of Dorian Gray, the horror movie festival, or sitting for hours in the dark so, we fled the house. We had lunch outdoors under the plane trees at Piatti’s, a pleasant little place near the Enchanted Forest, where we ate rigatoni bolognese (me) and fettuccine carbonara (Naida) and talked mostly about noses, their variety and people we had known with interesting schnozes. After lunch, I felt much better about life and somewhat more optimistic about the future. We returned home and I decided to celebrate my new-found attitude by taking a nap.
Of course, I also read a lot and write a bit to go along with the television watching, internet surfing and napping. It is something to do while waiting. When someone passes the age of 80 it is all mostly waiting — waiting for the election, waiting for the next illness, waiting for the sun to rise or set. It is humorous really, this waiting. It is not like being in a room waiting to be called into your job interview. It is more like waiting in that room and not knowing what if anything is behind that door. You walk about, sit, or stand. Perhaps you pick up a magazine, riff through the pages and start reading something. It’s not that you want to read whatever it is that you spend those few moments reading, it’s just something you do while waiting.
Then, of course, there is always something, something unexpected, humorous or odd that occurs while you are waiting. It is often ephemeral or fleeting so you have to be vigilant or you may miss it. For example, while typing this, Naida handed me two tiny ice-cream cone tips filled with chocolate that, for a few days, she had been saving for me. It seems the vanilla ice-cream cones we buy at the supermarket for some reason have chocolate stuffed in the bottom of the cone. Naida does not like chocolate, but I do, so she saves the tips for me. That, during this time of waiting, is certainly something worth waiting for.
Two days before election day:
This morning I was woken up by something bumping into my back. At first thought it was Naida in the midst of a bad dream. But, when I reached over to comfort her, I was greeted with a tongue licking my face. It was Boo-boo the Barking Dog thanking me for sharing the bed with him. This, I thought, was an auspicious morning.
Alas, the day turned out to be anything but auspicious. The morning was spent watching Billy Rose’s Jumbo with Doris Day, Jimmy Durante and Martha Rae. It could very well have been considered a continuation of TCM’s horror movie festival. I liked the elephant though. Everybody likes elephants.
We did have a delicious lunch of petrale sole. In the evening, we went to an Indian restaurant in downtown Sacramento. I guess the best that can be said of today is that it was forgettable. Tuesday, I imagine, will not be forgettable — depressing perhaps — but not forgettable.
Back home we watched a silent movie made in 1922. In included scenes of a man’s wife being gang-raped by a German U-boat crew. The husband, the captain of an American warship, sinks the U-boat. He saves the U-boat captain, takes him to his cabin, gets him drunk and persuades him to tell what happened to his wife after which he ties him up and skins him alive. This movie was obviously made pre-code.
The day before election day:
The way I see it, if Biden wins all the states where he is polling five or more points ahead, and if he wins Arizona and North Carolina, he wins the election even if he loses Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas.
I see from the news, the Trump Thugs have already taken to the highways in what appears to be an attempt to discourage minority voters from voting and, at least according to one observer, training for a post election putsch should Trump lose. Meanwhile, the White House is beginning to look even more like a fortress under siege with the emergency construction of an “unclimbable” fence surrounding it.
Anyway, I got up early this morning, before Naida or the dog. Had my usual breakfast checked with the news then decided I would prefer to skip the entire day. So, I returned to bed. At about 3 PM, Naida woke me up and said, “It is a beautiful autumn day. Let’s go for a walk.” So, I did and we did. It was a wonderful walk along the river.
Naida left early in the morning to play tennis with her two daughters. The dog and I lazed away in bed for an hour or so. He napping, and I tapping away on my smartphone searching for early election news. I then drove into the Golden Hills for lunch with HRM. Upon my return, I glued myself to the TV to watch the returns. By 7:30 I was deeply distressed. It seemed obvious the Democrats will not take back the Senate, and Biden’s many roads to election had been reduced to one.
8:30, it looks even worse. The one road is crumbling and the night getting darker.
At 9:30 things looked no better, so I went to bed and cried for our country. Could not sleep. Continued reading Joe Abercrombie’s latest book. At about midnight, Naida brought up hot chocolate drinks and cheese danish. I took two full doses of THC(tetrahydrocannabinol). We continued reading until about 3AM when the dope and the hour tricked me into sleeping.
The day after:
I woke up at about noon. I remained devastated and listless. Ate breakfast of coffee and various pastries. Resumed reading. Naida informed me that Biden appeared to have rebounded and if he secures Arizona and Nevada he will have obtained the 270 electoral votes required for election. But, at this time, it looks like he will only have acquired at most the bare minimum 270 electoral votes. Then comes the interregnum beginning with the announcement of the vote this week and continuing, through the meeting of the electors in December and on to January 20. This period, undoubtedly will also feature an attempt at a presidential putsch — he most likely will attempt to use the Supreme Court and the Republican legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin to overturn the vote or the choice of electors.
By the time we retired to bed, there was still no call for Nevada or Arizona.
Day two post election:
I spent most of the day in bed, getting up now and then to eat or read. Not much has changed in the election results except Biden seems to be catching up to Trump in the late returns from Georgia and Pennsylvania and maintaining it in Arizona and Nevada.
I finished reading Joe Abercrombie’s latest novel “The Trouble with Peace” which continues the “First Law” series that began about seven novels ago. He is classed as a “Young Adults” fantasy novelist, a class of literature I have always been happy to wallow in.
Finishing with Abercrombie, I have turned to the third in the Auntie Poldi series by Mario Giordano, also a favorite of mine. Auntie Poldi is the oversexed, hard drinking, wig topped, caftan wearing 60 year old daughter of a German policeman who settles in Sicily in a tiny village on the slopes of Mount Etna that was the ancestral home of her deceased husband. She settled there “in order to drink herself to death with a view of the ocean.” She, along with her in laws, a few towns people, her nephew and Watson, and the handsome Sicilian detective she beds, sets about solving crimes. She lives her life with few limits, or as she says:
“Moderation is a sign of weakness. If you’ve got something to say, raise your voice!” Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Handsome Antonio (An A untie Poldi Adventure) (p. 46). HMH Books.
Or as Giordano explains:
“She wanted to … avoid doing anything stupid and be a good girl. The only trouble was, my Auntie Poldi simply wasn’t made that way. There were few stupidities she hadn’t committed in her life. She’d always had her secrets, and she’d never, as one can imagine, wanted to be a good girl.” Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Handsome Antonio (An Auntie Poldi Adventure) (p. 60). HMH Books.
Post election day three:
Well, it appears that Biden will win the election. I have mixed emotions about the results. Yes, the most important result is Biden’s victory but, the failure of the Democrats to take the Senate probably means any structural changes (e.g.,filibuster, taxes, corporate reform) will either not succeed or be significantly watered down. Most troubling, are the losses in the House that will probably allow the ever fractious House Democrats (especially from the “Blue Dogs”) to jeopardize reform with internecine conflicts (it has already begun) .
Now, we enter the interregnum during which lawsuits challenging the election will be brought and disposed of; the the electors will vote for the new president, or not; the pardons, the new Congress will be seated in early January, the Georgia Senate elections deciding control of the Senate will be held and finally perhaps we will see the inauguration of a new president. Have fun…
The beat poet Gregory Corso, one of my favorites, way back 60 years or so now, wrote the following:
O this political air so heavy with the bells and motors of a slow night, and no place to rest but rain to walk—How it rings the Washington streets! The umbrella’d congressmen; the rapping tires of big black cars, the shoulders of lobbyists caught under canopies and in doorways, and it rains, it will not let up, and meanwhile lame futurists weep into Spengler’s prophecy, will the world be over before the races blend color? All color must be one or let the world be done—
About the same time Corso was writing this, I was president of the Catholic Interracial Council. The Council, back then was one of the largest civil rights groups in the nation along with the NAACP. The Urban League had just been formed. The freedom riders, Selma, SNICC, and the Civil Rights Act were all in the future.
I convened one of the largest gatherings of civil rights leaders at the time for a conference of several days duration to discuss what we needed to do next to in order to reverse this shameful blot on our nation. As the convener and chairman, I was the introductory speaker at the conference. While preparing my notes for that speech and reviewing the prepared talks by other speakers at the conference, I was offended by the lengths they went to to assure everyone that interracial love and marriage were off the table. So, at the end of my talk to the 2500 attendees at the general session, I concluded with the message that we cannot hope to close the racial divide that so sickens our nation if we insist that love and marriage continue to remain segregated.
We are now faced with an election that some have called perhaps the most consequential election of our times. And, if you do not believe that racism is the primary underlying factor in the election and the most important, then you are missing the point. Yes, climate change is an existential threat to humanity’s future, but it is racism and their support of racist political leaders that is being used by the natural resources industry to maintain control of the political process in order to protect their interest and especially to maintain the value of their hydrocarbon reserves.
As Peter Grenell in the introduction to his study wrote:
While it should be clear that racism has been encouraged, managed and funded by a small group of wealthy men, an equally small group of ideologues and owners of a few media companies, it has been directed primarily towards that large politically potent group of white males without a college education. Although the voting power of this group was effectively manipulated in the 2016 presidential election, the political power of this cohort of the electorate has been decreasing steadily for the past decade or two. About two years ago I wrote:
“Poorly educated white males are the first large socioeconomic group in America less educated and expected to do less well economically than their parents. I even have heard of recent studies that indicate that they will not live as long as their parents as well. Whether this last fact is a sad truth or this group is serving as the canary in the cage for society as a whole, I cannot guess.”
“I feel sad for these men; deluded by their history of ascendency over women of their class and other minorities, lied to by their political and religious leaders and misused by their employers, they have been misled to believe their ever so slight social standing was theirs by right and not earned by effort.”
“In 2016 Presidential election they marched to the polls and elected someone who promised them he would tear down every government program that they believed encouraged those who threatened their tenuous social standing. In return, they, perhaps unknowingly, agreed to cede control of the nation and the economy to those who would abandon them at the slightest evidence it would be to their advantage. In return for these meager benefits and support for the psychological comfort of meaningless symbols and rituals such and flags and songs that they cling to as evidence of some misbegotten reality, they were willing to give up much of their freedom. True, they now would be free from the competition of those they believed their inferiors who were being given unfair advantages. In return, they seem to accept enslavement by those they were sure were their betters.” (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/poorly-educated-white-men-the-death-of-an-american-original/)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
– A murder most foul. (2013)
“For the past week or so, the discovery of sensational murder and the political speculation surrounding it has gripped the media here in Thailand.”
“A billionaire (Thai baht) Thai businessman was reported to have disappeared. The man had been convicted of and served time for fraud and for promoting ponzi-like schemes. He also was a vocal critic of another convicted felon, the ex-Prime Minister of Thailand who I have referred to in the past as Thaksin the Terrible. Thaksin the Terrible moreover is a fugitive, living in exile and also the brother of the current Prime Minister, Princess LuckyGirl.”
“Within a day of the billionaire scumbag’s reported disappearance, his driver was arrested. The driver immediately confessed that he murdered the tycoon in order to steal $150,000 that the victim had just withdrawn from his account. In Thai fashion, a massive media event was held starring the confessed killer surrounded by what looked like a thousand cops. The suspect led the hoards of police and trailing reporters and cameramen to the spot where the body was buried. There along with several other men he implicated, he re-enacted the gruesome crime for all the world to see.”
“As could be expected, the political party out of power led by the military coup installed previous prime minister Abhisit the Unready (and some think the Incapable), members of his party, and the attorney for the deceased scumbag all have suggested that somehow, Thaksin the Terrible, was behind the murder.
“Now normally allegations of conspiracy like this I find as believable as Rambo movies. However, there may be more here than meets the eye or perhaps even less. The confessed murderer, obviously someone so dumb as to believe that as the last person to have seen the deceased before he went missing the police somehow would not immediately suspect him, nevertheless had the presence of mind to remove and destroy all the disks in the security cameras. In addition, he carefully arranged for co-conspirators to wait in the car to help him carry the body out of the house and bury it many miles away. Also, how the driver, a slender young man was able to single-handedly subdue and strangle a seemingly fit sixty year old has not been clearly explained. The re-enactment in front of the press was notably unconvincing. Finally, the deceased withdrew the $150,000 from his account only a few hours before he disappeared. No one seems to know why.”
October 5, 1789,The Women’s March on Versailles begins the French Revolution.
“The Women’s March on Versailles, …was one of the earliest and most significant events of the French Revolution. The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who… were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries, who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France. The market women and their various allies grew into a mob of thousands. Encouraged by revolutionary agitators, they ransacked the city armory for weapons and marched to the Palace of Versailles. The crowd besieged the palace, and in a dramatic and violent confrontation, they successfully pressed their demands upon King Louis XVI. The next day, the crowd compelled the king, his family, and most of the French Assembly to return with them to Paris.”
“These events ended the king’s independence and signified the change of power and reforms about to overtake France. The march symbolized a new balance of power that displaced the ancient privileged orders of the French nobility and favored the nation’s common people, collectively termed the Third Estate. Bringing together people representing sources of the Revolution in their largest numbers yet, the march on Versailles proved to be a defining moment of that Revolution.” (Wikipedia)
If we are to survive as a species, women must lead us into the future.
A. Terry on Top: Before the Election.
This post by Terry was written about five days before election. I included it here at that time (10/29) and now await the results of the election to see if his confidence was justified.
“Well, it’s time to look past Election Day. I have no doubt that Biden will win. The only question is, will it be 270 electoral votes or 345 +electoral votes.The reason: the rust belt of Michigan , Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, (the so called Blue Wall that Trump broke in 2016). Biden’s leads in all but Pennsylvania are over 5 points. Even with the margin of error, that lead in two of the three states is pretty much a lock. Even if Biden loses Pennsylvania, (at this point highly unlikely) he still has many options to 270. And with his national lead at 7%-8% , those many options will, in all probability, break his way, at least enough to get to 270. With no toss ups, Real Clear Politics, predicts Biden will win 345 electoral votes.”
It may take several weeks to “count all the votes,” but the end result will be the same: Biden will be the President-Elect. And by a big enough margin to avoid a Court challenge or a tie in the electoral college. It’s possible, of course, that I am wrong, but then , anything is possible, including drawing a royal flush in poker (650,000 to 1), which many pundits refer to as the current odds of Trump winning.
Of course, you may say, what about the Supreme Court halting the vote count in the states after Election Day . While possible, because anything is possible, that is also highly unlikely. Legal analysts note that in the 5 election cases brought to SCOTUS this election cycle, 3 have gone the Democrats way and 2 the Republicans way. The uniting theory of these cases is that the courts , including state courts , should not reverse legislative statues because of Covid, nor for any other reason.
There are no cases or opinions to indicate that SCOTUS would stop the counting of votes after Election Day, so long as those counts are currently authorized by state statute. So rest easy .SCOTUS is not on a suicide mission to destroy its credibility as an independent branch of government.
The Roberts Court, with even the addition of Justice Barrett, will not ignite a firestorm by stopping the counting of votes after Election Day. Here is why: Roberts has the clout within the Court to stop that constitutional stupidity (SCOTUS has no plausible constitutional power to do such a thing, despite Bush v Gore). Robert’s knows that and has no intention to bring on constitutional warfare between Congress and the Court, which, history shows, the Court would lose. Biden is not Gore and he would not put up with it and neither would Pelosi nor Schumer. It’s 2020 not 2000. Congress would ignore the Court and swear in Biden, as the winner certified by the Governors of States, and accepted as such by the vast majority of the country.
And that’s where the article below comes in. Biden is not the polarizing figure Hillary was. He is already moving to unite the country, dismissing the cultural wars, and focusing on solving the pandemic and the economic disruption that has followed it. As David Brooks says below, never in our lifetime has a Presidential Candidate avoided wedge issues like Biden. And it’s working. He is pulling back traditional labor Democrats, alienated by Democratic elite snobbery and arrogance that they believe has led to uncontrolled economic globalization and the destruction of much of the American manufacturing base, among other things. And to be honest, they are right. And Biden and Elizabeth Warren propose to fix that.
But that’s another story. Suffice to say, five days from the election, Mr Biden has done well, far better that most realize , to begin the healing and the uniting of the county that has been culturally divided since 1968; the Nixon Presidency, and the so-called “silent majority”. Thank you Mr. Biden, Mr. President Elect.
Two days before the election he posted the following:
“This is a very good summary and analysis of all of the final polls before Election Day. In addition 538 , the gamblers election tracker, predicts a Biden win as a 90% probability.”
“The weakspot for Biden: Pennsylvania. He’s up by 4% on average , much higher in some polls, not so much in others. If he losses Penn, he must take either NC or AZ; in both of which he leads by 4% or so. FL is effectively a toss up.”
“But the point is: If he loses Penn, it’s not 90% , it’s 50-50. So that’s why Biden is spending the next two days in Penn. I’m confident about Penn. But Biden is not. He’s probably right.”
And on the morning of Election day, ever the optimist he posted:
“HAPPY ELECTION DAY! And I’m revising everything. “
“Something has happened in the last few days. The turnout in Democratic strongholds in GA TX and NC is off the charts. The polls can’t reflect historic turnouts by one party . So they will be off by several percentage points . That means the red wall across the South will likely fail, for the first time since 1968 and Richard Nixon.”
“NC, GA and TX will likely vote for Biden. The national race is not even going to be close. And that’s important , because we need to not just beat Trump, but crush the Republican stranglehold on the South. It now looks quite probable that that will happen. Solely because of an historic turnout, north of 150M.maybe 180M. 2016 was about 135M.”
“And of course there is the Senate. The highly probable pickup of 4 seats, AZ, COL, ME and NC will be offset by losing AL. That’s a net of 3 to get to 50 senate seats. And that’s enough for minimum control of the Senate. But now it appears that a proverbial and historic landslide could happen. If it does Democrats would also pick up one seat in GA(1) and MT, TX, IO, and SC. And a third tier could also fall: KS, Alaska, and GA(2). That’s a net gain of 11 or 58 Senate seats.”
“Now that’s far from certain; however, never since 1964 has such a possibility even been considered.”
“So buckle up political junkies. Something different and historic is happening! I’m sure of it. The polls don’t predict accurately when turnout is this high. So all the states on the bubble with large turnouts could flip Democratic. That’s a landslide in the making.”
I always admired Terry’s unabashed optimism. Alas, optimism, unfortunately, does not win elections, wars, or football games.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
What is our job in life but to kill and eat as much as we can and leave progeny who then kill, eat, and metastasize in their turn? Everything else that does not contribute to those goals, as much as we deny it, is vanity, just there to pass the time in between the killing, eating and fornication.
C. Today’s Poem:
I am more than you think me to be. I am more than you see before you.
I am my past and my future, my dreams and nightmares, my hopes and my fears, my loves and my hates, my thoughts and my doubts.
I am the air I breath, the water I drink, the food I eat, my piss, my shit, my tears.
I am the sun caressing my skin, the breeze, the grit, the hot, the cold.
I am the books I read, the music I hear, the songs I sing, the whispers and the shouts, the noise and the silence.
But, I am more,
I am my organs, my cells, molecules, and protons, electrons, bosons, and quarks within me. I am here there, everywhere, and nowhere.
I am a mote in time, a speck in the biosphere. I am energy I am information. I am a concept
I am a universe unto myself.
By Trenz Pruca.
D. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
About a year ago, Brad DeLong in his blog Grasping Reality with Two Hands, one of my favorite blogs, posted the opening paragraphs of what I assumed he intended to become a book entitled Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century, 1870-2016. It begins with and overview of that century ending in 2016 and provides a glimpse of the significance of that last year for humanity future. No matter the results of the coming election this world of ours will no longer be the same. While Trump is not the sole cause for this substantial change, he is its poster boy.
DeLongs description of the political and social instability brought to America, England and the world as a result of the political events around 2016 is worth the read.
“The Long 20th Century began around 1870 and ended in 2016.”
Before 1870 humanity was poor, and life was typically nasty, brutish, and short. Before 1870, over and over again, technology lost its race with human fecundity, and greater numbers coupled with resource scarcity to produce a humanity where most people most of the time could not be confident that they and their families would have their 2000 calories, plus essential nutrients, plus a roof over their head in a year. Before 1870 those on the make overwhelmingly focused on how to take from others or keep what they had while maintaining order, rather on how to make more for everyone. It is true that between 1800 and 1870 technology and organization gained a step or two in their race with fecundity. But only a step. Any post-1870 slackening of the pace of technological or organizational progress, or any major redivision of society’s dividends devoting less to the sinews of peace and more to the sinews of war, and “nasty, brutish, and short” would reassert itself.
But starting in 1870 all that changed. Science reached critical mass and gave birth to engineering. A liberal political order gave birth to a market economy. Engineering and the market produced an explosion of economic growth: these days one single year sees as much proportional technological and organizational advance and change in the human economy as a typical fifty years did back before 1800.
The consequences have been enormous: Today less than 9% of humanity lives at or below the roughly $2-a-day living standard we think of as “extreme poverty,” down from 70%—and even those 9% have access to public-health and mobile phone-communications technologies of vast worth and power. Today the rich economies of the world stand at levels of per-capita prosperity at least twenty (and possibly much more) times those of 1870 and at least twenty-five (and possibly much more) times those of 1800, with every expectation of further doublings in the centuries to come. Today the center-of-gravity of those economies unlucky and in the “Global South” is not at the $2-3 a day living standard of those economies in 1800 or 1870, but $15 a day (and more).
Tell any of those in previous centuries about the wealth, productivity, technology level, and sophisticated productive organizations of the world today, and they would say that with such power and wealth in our collective hands we must have built a utopia.
And yet the politics of 2016 and what that year brought—the stepping-back of the United States from its role of good-guy world leader and of Britain from its role as a key piece of Europe, the return to politics in North America and Europe of a movement that rejects democratic representative consensus normal politics in favor of allegiance to a leader whose principal qualification is a desire to strike at external enemies and at internal enemies who are not properly full members of the ethno-nationalist community, a movement that Madeleine Albright dares to call “fascist” (and who am I to tell her she is wrong?), the conspicuous failure over the previous decade of the stewards of the global economy to either maintain or to rapidly return to full employment—show us that we have no business being overly triumphant. Yes, over 1870-2016, technology and organization lapped fecundity. Yes, then the psychology of a newly richer humanity in which girls learned to read and acquired social power permanently scotched Malthusian forces from their role as the fetters of humanity. But material prosperity is grossly unevenly—criminally—distributed around the globe. And material wealth does not make people happy in a world where politicians and others prosper mightily from finding new ways to make and keep people unhappy.
“It was a rare fine night for a stroll down by the docks, the moon plump as a new pillow in an old-fashioned hotel and the undertow in the turning tide swushing its ripples silvery-green and a bird you’ve never heard before chirring its homesick tale of a place you might once have known and most likely now will never see, mid-June and almost midnight and balmy yet, the kind of evening built for a long walk with a woman who likes to take long walks and not say very much, and that little in a murmur you have to strain to catch, her laughter low and throaty, her humour dry and favouring lewd, eyes like smoky mirrors of the vast night sky and in them twinkles that might be stars reflecting or the first sparks of intentions that you’d better fan with soft words and a gentle touch in just the right place or spend the rest of your life and maybe forever wondering what might have been, all for the want of a soft word and a touch gentle and true.”
This single 183 word long sentence opens the novel Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke. It has nothing at all to do with anything else that follows in the novel. It is much like the opening paragraphs of every chapter in his namesake James Lee Burke’s novels about the two male-bonded goodfellows of Iberia Parish in Louisiana that also have nothing to do with whatever follows in the chapter. But, they are all marvelous expressions of natural beauty and mood
“Most sane, rational human beings learn quite early on that you feel just as certain even when you’re wrong: the strength of your belief is not a valid measure of its relation to reality.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 251). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
Happy Birthdays to my grandchildren Athena, Aaron and Anthony.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES: The Pandemic continues; some air quality relief arrives; and the destruction of American democracy looms ever closer.
Today, we did something that I am sure many others have done during this time of self-distancing. Naida wrote a noteto our new neighbors (they moved in over a year ago, but at our age that passes as new) inviting them to a socially distant meet and greet on the lawn in front of our homes. They accepted and we all took out our folding chairs placed them in the shade of a tree and had a pleasant conversation for about an hour or so. They are both retired Sacramento State professors — he in chemistry and she in literature and poetry. It was a pleasant diversion.
That evening we had a Zoom wake for Tom Hargadon. I had received an email message from Don Neuwirth earlier in the day informing me that Tom had died and that he and his daughter Becca would be hosting the wake. I was both saddened and surprised at his passing. Hargadon was one of those rare people you meet that you cannot conceive of ever getting ill or dying. Like the leprechaun that he resembled, he seemed destined to go on forever seeking that pot of gold.
I first met Tom way back in the early seventies when Don Neuwirth introduced him to me as someone recently arrived from Boston where he owned a pub and was looking to do the same here in San Francisco. Tom looked every bit the archetype of the Boston Irish — round face, braces(suspenders) and an ability to talk and tell stories endlessly. He spoke so fast at times that it often was difficult to understand him. I shall miss him. I, unfortunately, am at that sad period of my life where “goodbyes” are much more common than “I’ll see you arounds”
We continue to watch the news surrounding the election. It Bostonis as entertaining as a nightmare — you do not want to be there but you have no way to get out. You hope you will wake up some day and it will all go away and then you read something like the comments by Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D):
“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in suing Trump and his administration dozens of times, it’s that when he threatens to cross democratic boundaries and constitutional norms, he usually does — and when he denies it, it often turns out he was actually doing it all along,”
And you then realize it is not a dream.
The weather in and around the Enchanted Forest has gotten better though. The air is clearer and cleaner, and the temperature a bit cooler. We are in those few brief weeks between the debilitating heat of the summer when one can still wear summer clothes and before having to put on long sleeved shirts and sweaters and preparing for winter.
I am running out of my old poems to post in the poetry blog I have been posting in recently. Well, they are really not poetry, more doggerel then poems. Anyway, I have begun writing new ones to post. Here is one:
Homage to Stephen Crane
I announced to the universe one day:
To which the universe replied:
“That means no more to me
then thou art not.”
“Homage” means I stole it.
Some people do crossword puzzles to pass away the time. I post things on the internet. I then get annoyed when people comment that what I wrote was crap.
It’s a living — or a life. It, at least, allows me to avoid being left with only watching television while waiting to be released from self-quarantine. I’ve taken to scratching the days of my confinement on the wall by my chair. We are beginning the eighth month. Some of my marriages were shorter.
Yesterday, Naida was depressed enough by the continuing erosion of the political situation here in America that she was almost comatose. Today, she is better. The political situation is not.
Today, it is I who am depressed enough to spend almost the entire day in bed. I have no doubt we are sliding into a crisis of which the progressive and rational forces demonstrate every day that they are ill equipped to prevent. The leaders of the Democratic Party and the anti-Trump Republicans are placing all their bets on a clear victory in the November election and the coming together of the instruments of society to support it. It is becoming obvious that on election night the results will not be clear and the Anti-Trumpites and the Biden campaign promise little more than a few squads of attorneys to contest the resulting confusion in courts stacked with judges unsympathetic to them. There will be no rising of the military to right things. There will only be police and armed thugs running amok in the streets putting down those few who place their bodies on the line in protest. Oh well, maybe tomorrow I will feel better about things.
On Sunday, for some unknown reason, I felt very good so I drove up to EDH to spend a few hours with Hayden. While there, Natalie mentioned that she was planning to return to Thailand for an operation on her broken nose. Because of the restrictions imposed on travel as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, this will require her to spend two weeks in isolation in Thailand before she can begin treatment. I promised to spend more time looking after HRM. H and I then drove to Town center in order to put the Mitsubishi in for servicing. We enjoyed a pizza for lunch while we waited for the servicing of the car to finish. He is doing well but seems a bit unhappy that the unending quarantine limits his recreational options. In other words, life is less fun than he would like.
Along with a lot of the nation, Naida and I caught the presidential debate last night. I suspect most of those who saw it were as appalled as we were. It was an embarrassment and painful to watch. That was not a president on that stage. It was not an adult. It was an unruly child. I do not think I will watch the future debates unless they make some changes. I did like some of Biden’s comments, especially:
“I’m not here to call him a liar. Everyone already knows he’s a liar.”
Drove into the Golden Hills to visit HRM. He seems to be doing as well as can be hoped. Due to the epidemic and social-distancing, he is losing his fifteenth year. I guess that is ok. If I remember correctly, my own fifteenth year was eminently forgettable.
I used to measure my life in years, now I measure it in months. It does not much change what I do, only its meaning. Tomorrow is just another dream and yesterday a smokey wraith. Today, however, is mine alone. Our lives are made up of short stories. They are not novels. When one story ends another begins — until we reach the night that never ends.
Well, today Trump was diagnosed with COVID and was transferred to Walter Reed for treatment. It is difficult for me to show any sympathy for him. That makes me feel a little guilty. But, unfortunately, it is what it is.
For several years now, Barrie has been sending me postcards with fascinating pictures on the front and interesting tidbits about her life and times on the back. I have kept them all and now have a wonderful collection of several hundred. The photograph below contains a few of them:
My sister Maryann and her husband George arrived from Mendocino to spend a night with us before proceeding into the Sierras for few day in order to celebrate their anniversary at the old Sorenson resort. I gave her and George their combination birthday, anniversary, and Christmas present — an original painting by our Australian cousin Alexandra Leti of the garages in our ancestral home, Roccantica in Sabina Italy.
The following morning, before Maryann and George set off for the Sierras we had a pleasant breakfast of raisin bagels with lox and cream cheese along with Starbuck’s cafe latte.
It is October now. Perhaps autumn will begin soon. It is warm still and the air gauzed with smoke from the fires. It difficult to tell but lately when I go out or late at night, I feel a clammy heaviness in the air, a subtle chill when the sun is gone that slips through my skin and muscle like a fish knife. I am never cold, that comes later in the year. I am only uncomfortable as though an unwelcome premonition is scratching at my skin. My bag of tomorrows used to be full and although heavy on my back, I was young enough to bear them easily. Now that bag is almost empty but it feels heavier than it ever has been.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Christmas Night 2018.
On Christmas night at the early hour of 6PM, I slipped into bed, sipped from my well-steeped cup of cannabis tea and opened my computer. My thought was to make some sort of plan for the remaining six days of the year. Not so much a to-do list as a muddle-about file into which I could, now and then, dip without too much difficulty in order to pass the time while waiting for this arbitrary portion of my life to dribble on into the next.
The first thing to pass through my mind was Joyce’s opening line to Ulysses: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
I haven’t the slightest idea why it did. Except perhaps, to encourage me to contemplate why I would consider ending the year pondering the opening line of Ulysses. Perhaps, having not yet consumed enough tea made such reflection worthwhile. Maybe, my subconscious was attempting to jump-start the evening’s descent into irrelevancy.
The second item to suggest itself as a subject worth ruminating on was the first thing I read on my computer after opening it. Under a heading entitled notable events on history on this day, I read: “1194 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Romans [Germany], Sicily and Jerusalem, born in Lesi, Italy.”
That was something I felt was of little more consequence. Or, at least, I generally considered that someone who in his time was referred to as “Stupor Mundi” (Wonder of the World) was someone of greater consequence than “stately plump Buck Mulligan” and his shaving utensils — Then again perhaps not. Frederick later in life was also referred to as “The Anti-Christ.” Nevertheless, I still felt, someone who held suzerainty over most of Medieval Europe, was of more consequence than a fictional med-student with flamboyant grooming habits — Then again, perhaps not.
“Stupor Mundi” was clearly not fictional, although his adventures and the stories about him rival that of any character inhabiting the world of fiction. As to why I would consider intentionally including the contemplation of one or the other or both into my remaining six days of 2018, I have no idea. Perhaps, it is because it is a mystery requiring a solution and that always pleases one’s consciousness. Perhaps it does not. Maybe, it just has something to do with the cannabis. Take chess, for example, it has always appealed to me as a worthwhile way to cut two or three hours from one’s life. On the other hand, cocaine, cannabis and a host of other things, I think, would do so as well without requiring your consciousness to leap from the chair in which it had been dozing and actually exert itself entertaining you.
A Strange Dream.
Since upping my medications in order to mitigate the side effects of my treatments, my dreams at night have become even stranger than usual. Last night, I found myself, a much younger man, well-dressed wandering about my dream New York. My dream NY is not at all like the NY I remember. It is a real estate development made up of large buildings in vibrant colors and streets dark, bleak, and dank. In this dream, a young man I knew, for some reason lost to the vagaries of dream memories, had been killed by the authorities. People were organizing to protest the death. The mayor and his advisers swore to put down the disturbance with maximum force.
I put myself front and center swearing to risk body and health in protest. As the police and soldiers could be heard approaching, everyone ran away leaving me alone to confront them. Alas, the police never arrived.
I then noticed another group of protestors forming. This one, well equipped with PR people. Again I put my body at the forefront willing to risk it in the name of the right and good. Again as the military closed in, the protestor’s disappeared, leaving me alone once more. After about four more events like this, I decided, I was not going to give up body and soul in the name of the right and good or anything resembling it, so I went home to take a nap and ponder the imponderables of life.
Jews in Sicily Through 1500:
During the reign of Pope Gregory I, born in 540 in Rome who protected the Jews, there was an active settlement of Jews in Sicily in the 6th century. ” Gregory wrote of limiting the Jews from exceeding the rights granted to them under imperial law – particularly in relation to the ownership of Christian slaves.” Pope Gregory was going against many of the positions towards Jews taken at the 1st Constantine Conference.
“In Epistle 1.14, Pope Gregory expressly disapproved of the compulsory baptism of Jews. June 591 : “Censure of Virgil, bishop of Arles, and Theodore, bishop of Marseille, for having baptized Jews by force. They are to desist. “For it is necessary to gather those who are at odds with the Christian religion the unity of faith by meekness, by kindness, by admonishing, by persuading, lest these…should be repelled by threats and terrors. They ought, therefore, to come together to hear from you the Word of God in a kindly frame of mind, rather than stricken with dread, result of a harshness that goes beyond due limits.”
Mohammad had died in 632 and his proselytizers quickly moved across land to spread Islam. In the 9th century they conquered Sicily. The jewish settlement continued during the Arab occupation period from the 9th to the 11th centuries. The Arabs left a profound impression on the language and culture of Sicilian Jewry.
The Jews’ high point of their prosperity occurred under the Norman rulers. In the later Middle Ages, Jews were thickly settled throughout Sicily, and numbered about 40,000. In the 13th century, the head of the Jews was the Dienchelele, appointed by the king.
From 1282, the island was ruled by the House of Aragon and closely influenced by Spanish ideas and events. By 1391, there was a devastating wave of massacres, and another in 1474. The Spanish Inquisition was introduced in Sicily in 1479. As part of the Aragonese territories, Sicily was included in the edict of expulsion from the Spanish dominions in 1492. (In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue). “When the decree of banishment, dated March 31, 1492, reached Sicily, there were over 100,000 Jews living in the island in 52 different places.” Most of the Jews exiled found their way to the Italian mainland and the Levant area of the Middle East that includes Palestine. (http://jewishbubba.blogspot.com/2017/03/jews-of-sicily.html)
A. Terry on Top:
More commentary from Terry about the current political situation in the US.
So the media commentariat is all ablaze with pants on Fire statements : “ There is no umpire, if the electoral ballots are disputed ,” the “ Trump stacked SCOTUS will vote on who the next President is.”
This is all very nutty and a complete misunderstanding of what the Constitution says (THERE IS NO ROLE FOR SCOTUS, ONLY THE CONGRESS IN JOINT SESSION) and who the ultimate enforcer is: The Military Establishment, as you know derided by a Trump. Because the President is The Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces under the Constitution, then who they recognize as the Commander in Chief is dispositive of the issue, as it has been since 1775. And they are sworn to defend the Constitution, and they read the newspapers. As a practical, and perhaps primitive matter, they are a very serious bunch and I can attest they take their sacred oath very seriously. Whoever receives the most legitimate electoral votes as they determine it, in December, they will salute a request orders from their Commander in Chief. Game over. That’s why this entire discussion is as silly and unfortunate as Trumps last four years. For details see below. I wrote this earlier to a friend of mine.
My Earlier Essay:
Re the Trumpian plan to overthrow the Republic. That is what it is by the way, with legislatures controlled by Republicans in four swing states: PA, MICH. WISCONSIN And AZ, sending in Trump electoral votes, irrespective of their state vote for Biden, is nothing short of treasonous.
If both Houses of Congress are Democratic, then a united Congress rejects the bogus Trump electors votes, counts Biden’s electors votes, and declares Biden elected, game over. If the Houses of Congress are split, that’s an impasse politically. That happened only once, in 1876, and was NOT RESOLVED BY SCOTUS (because the politicians paid no attention to the Court). In fact the Court has no power in this situation if either of the political parties in Congress simply ignore its ruling, which is easy to do since it has been stacked by Trump with his appointees. Why: because the Constitution gives SCOTUS no role. And, importantly, no power to enforce its ruling, one way or the other.
If, in 2000, Gore had refused to concede and demanded the count continue in Florida and if that was rejected, then the battle would have been in Congress and the outcome may well have been different. But Gore conceded to preserve the Republic. So 2000 is no precedent for anything, least of all as a precedent for 2020.
So we are left with this hypothetical: Biden wins in closely contested states sufficient to have 270 + electoral votes, but double electoral votes are submitted by four states, one set for each candidate. The Houses split, which even Mitch McConnell says won’t happen if his “friend Biden” actually wins those states’ popular votes. What happens: it goes to ancestral political power: the US Military establishment, sworn to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC. Knowing the Military Establishment well, they will, probably behind the scenes be the umpire of last resort. They will simply tell the squabbling politicians the obvious fact, that Trump’s actions are treasonous and they will report to the President who won the votes in the contested states. If the behind the scenes negotiating fails, which is highly unlikely in this factual situation, they will simple arrest Trump after January 20, pursuant to President Biden’s order. That’s how it will inevitably end. Mc Connell knows it and will concede way before that happens. He’s not stupid. And if McConnell concedes the election to Biden, Trump can rant, rave and his militias will be suppressed and eliminated by the most powerful Army in the world. And he could be tried for Treason.
But Biden would eventually pardon him and send him into exile in Moscow, penniless. I’m just kidding.
Believe me, this I know, because I trained and educated Cadets. They are all retired now. But those on active duty have been trained the same way. And that’s what will happen when push comes to shove. Biden just has to actually win, as the AP certifies , in enough states to have an electoral majority. If so, he will be saluted by the military leadership and defended, because that is their sworn duty.
The principle of West Point, and the other academies is DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY. And Trump, if he loses fair and square, as recognized by AP and other media, is not staying around. If he does, he will be escorted by armed soldiers to his exile wherever he chooses. His fantasy is as much a lie as the other 20,000 lies he’s told.
Bart Gellman writing in the Atlantic magazine, however, does not see things so cut and dried as Terry does. He warns:
“Our Constitution does not secure the peaceful transition of power, but rather presupposes it,” the legal scholar Lawrence Douglas wrote in a recent book titled simply Will He Go? The Interregnum we are about to enter will be accompanied by what Douglas, who teaches at Amherst, calls a “perfect storm” of adverse conditions. We cannot turn away from that storm. On November 3 we sail toward its center mass. If we emerge without trauma, it will not be an unbreakable ship that has saved us.
Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
Trump’s invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Hey man, I’m damned old now. I want time to move as slow as I walk, Slower even. I’d like to see time bedridden.
C. Today’s Poem:
Moses was a strange man
Moses was a strange man He lost his way in the desert for forty years. He told his people they were better off in the desert for forty years than in Egypt where they had running water and food.
There was no food in the desert. Moses did not know how to farm so, God had to feed his people.
Moses told his people, he would, lead them out of the desert to a land where people had milk and honey. He said they should kill those people, take their land, drink their milk eat their honey.
When some of his people thought another God might get them out of the desert sooner, he killed them.
Moses brought God’s law to his people. One law said “Thou shalt not kill” .TP
D. Neal the Fish Man Recommends:
1. Family Affair and Comments.
Neal, troubled about the effect on the election of the rioting and vandalism accompanying BLM and similar protests, posted his concerns on Facebook as follows:
“Revenge is a dish best served cold” the saying goes. Cold revenge on Trump for his lies and cruelty, and his intent to not honor the election results should come in the form of darkly quiet streets leading to election day. There should be no demonstrations, no outdoor or mass events that could lead to clashes between Trumps’ goons and young demonstrators. No looting, no confrontations asking people to say someones’ name, no rallies where people waiting in line might be harassed leading to violence. Trump needs to disrupt the country so that he can claim we did it and try to frighten suburban voters. His goons will be out looking for trouble, looking to start trouble. We all know it. He knows we know it. Doesn’t matter. He will be dropping bait all over the land to get someone to jump at it and then he can bring down the hammer and blame us for his own brutality. What kind of bait? Cops will be more aggressive coming into the election, seeking confrontation. Courts and prosecutors will side with the cops. The supreme court selection and process will be bait. Federal marshals showing up in cities for no reason will be bait.” Neal Fishman
He then continues exhorting his readers to pause in their protests until after the election.
His daughter, of all people, disagreed in a well reasoned comment to his post. She states in part:
“While I agree with some of this I don’t think it will work. Trump will just take credit for bringing peace and order to the nation. People who were on the fence will believe him. At least right now we can say THIS is Trump’s America. This division is what happens when you have a president that doesn’t speak for all American’s. This is what happens when you have a white supremacist/authoritarian in power.” “You want to give a message to young people, tell them to vote, tell them to volunteer, tell them to get involved, not to be silent.” “Love you dad, but I respectfully disagree.” Jessica Fishman
Neal, ever the proud father, gently explains his position.
“Jess, you know that I don’t want the BLM movement to end. I want it to have results. I’m only talking tactics here. Will a five week hiatus which is publicized as such kill the movement? Won’t it actually work toward a tight relationship with the new Biden administration, leading to results in law and policy during his term? This doesn’t kill the movement, it positions it for success. Love you too.”
In fairness to Neal, recent polling appears to show that concern over the looting and violence surrounding the peaceful protests may be the major reason why those undecided about who to vote for in the coming election hesitate to back Biden.
I then posted their disagreement in Daily Kos and asked the readers where they come down on this family dispute. Here are a few of their comments:
VClib —“Many have suggested to end the protests at sunset and have all the “peaceful protesters” leave at that time. That would make it easier to identify and arrest those who are there to riot, cause mayhem, property destruction and arson, not to protest. I think that’s a good middle ground. Be active, protest, but leave at sunset. ‘
penultimate galactic master— “I believe that electoral victories (at all levels) are the way to effect real change. If a person can find a candidate or ballot measure, at any level, that they believe in and want to support, that’s probably the best way to spend the next five weeks compared to a few more weeks of street protests. In fact, I would say that five weeks of street protests is five weeks you missed out on working on electoral campaigns that could have real immediate effects. Especially in 2020, even in Portland OR / Multnomah County.”
“As far as how the national media portrays the Portland protests — Fishman senior is probably closer to the truth. While polling on Trump’s law-and-order messaging is mixed, which means it’s probably a better issue for him than covid-19 and the courts, and anything that takes the emphasis away from those helps Trump.
“I would recommend that your direct action minded friend volunteer to be a poll worker or election observer — best way to prevent a coup that I know of — but Oregon votes by mail. But Pennsylvania could use some! And Miami-Dade County!”
“there’s tons of stuff like this out there if you look…
I have looked up the Balloon Juice site as he suggests. It is great. Everyone should take a look at it.
Pirran—“Support for protests has declined from a high of 54% in June to 39% now [abcnews.go.com/…]. This was always the way it was going to go, the way it went in 2016 and, hell, the way it went in 1968. The time to get out was when the going was still good, but no, no one had the guts or sense to call it. Instead we will sit here talking about how it’s not our fault and the media is stupid blah blah blah. But if we knew it was coming, who is stupid? The damage is almost certainly done, we deal with it.”
2. The Starhawk Letter.
“Neal Fishman · This is a great letter that is being sent around. It is worth the read.·
I’ve been supporting Joe Biden, but last night, watching the debate—if you can call it that—I came to deeply admire him. Here’s why: I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship with someone who argues like Trump. I have. If you haven’t—lucky you!—you can’t imagine how excruciatingly difficult it is to hold your own when someone is coming at you with a barrage of lies and accusations, interrupting constantly, refusing to allow you space to respond. If you have been, you know how your brain tends to go to mush, every thought process shuts down, and it becomes hard to formulate a coherent sentence. (And should you currently be in such a relationship, I urge you—Get out! If someone in your life has a personal style that reminds you of Trump, get them out of your life! Whether it’s a partner, a boss, a family member—nothing is worth it And if you can’t get out—get help!) On top of this, Biden has a life-long stutter he has struggled with. Imagine the pressure—he can’t just walk off stage and say ‘this farce is over,’ or it will look like Trump has driven him off the field. He can’t afford to fumble his words or stumble or look old and feeble. And he can’t respond to every outrageous lie and attack. But Joe held his own. Time after time, he pulled back from the temptation to just attack back, or froth at the mouth and scream, and landed his punches. He made it clear—when Trump didn’t do so himself—that the current occupant of the White House is a desperate, out-of-control failure, that he has no plan and no capacity to govern. He did, just once, tell him flatly to shut up. Some of us would have been happy to see him land a solid punch in the face—but that probably wouldn’t have helped him, as satisfying as it might have been to watch. And it would have broken Covid-19 protocol. At times, you could see Biden was struggling with strong emotion, as when Trump attacked his sons, sneered at Beau’s service in Iraq. If Trump is trying to dispel the stories of how he has called soldiers ‘losers’, he didn’t help himself in that moment. Biden had to almost physically pull himself back from the temptation to retaliate and go after Trump’s corrupt brood of offspring, but he did it, and went back to talking about all of our families and the policies that could make life better. The strain showed—and I like that! I like that he has human feelings, and that he doesn’t hide them, but nonetheless exerts self-control. What a change that would be, to have someone like that in the White House! Biden isn’t the great showman. He’s not superstar handsome. He’s not Mr. Charisma. Good! We’ve had four years of a psychopathic showman—can we please have an ordinary, decent human being who will get the job done? Biden didn’t get much chance to talk about his policies, but he is running on the most progressive platform of any major party candidate, ever. He will listen to the science on Covid, and get us on track to weather the pandemic and re-open safely. He will expand health care and get us closer to the universal coverage many of us advocate. He will get us back in the Paris accords, and his plan to address climate change is a good one that Bernie Sanders helped to form. He isn’t the Great Progressive Champion many of us would have liked—but we don’t need him to be that. We need to be that! And a big win for Biden/Harris, coupled with wins in the Senate, will boost every issue we care about. Trump’s despicable performance won’t convince anyone undecided to vote for him. But that’s not his aim. His goal is to make us all so disgusted with the whole process that we throw up our hands and say, “I’m not going to bother to vote, I’m just going to stay home and vomit.” In that, he could succeed. So don’t let him! Get us all out of this abusive relationship! Registration deadlines are approaching—early voting has already begun. Too many times, of late, the election has come down to a few votes here, a few votes there. This is the time to make sure you are counted on the right side of history. Register. Vote. People’s lives depend on it. Maybe even yours. (Starhawk)
E. Giants of History: Baruch Spinoza.
Recently in Facebook, I came across a post by someone named Derrick Vocelka that impressed me. I have read some things by Spinoza, usually a difficult read, but never this. I thought I would repost it here.
Vocelka began his post with a little story about Albert Einstein.
When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was: “Do you believe in God?” And he always answered: “I believe in the God of Spinoza.”
Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.
Vocelka then quotes something Spinoza wrote about that God of his.
God would say: Stop praying. What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve made for you. Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That’s where I live and there I express my love for you. Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don’t blame me for everything they made you believe. Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can’t read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son’s eyes… you will find me in no book! Stop asking me “will you tell me how to do my job?” Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or bothered. I am pure love. Stop asking for forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive. If I made you… I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies… free will. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I’m the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that? Respect your peers and don’t do what you don’t want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that alertness is your guide. My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now and it is all you need. I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record. You are absolutely free to create in your life. Heaven or hell. I can’t tell you if there’s anything after this life but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is not. As if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist. So, if there’s nothing after, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won’t ask if you behaved right or wrong, I’ll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?… Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea. Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am? I’m bored being praised. I’m tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me. Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you’ve been taught about me. What do you need more miracles for? So many explanations? The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.
F. Tales From The Little Masseuse:
Often, while I was living in Thailand, the Little Masseuse would tell me stories and tales about her life. One was about a poor old man she knew while she was growing in her small village in Issan in the northeast portion of the country.
Every day the old man spent the daylight hours rummaging through garbage cans for food and other necessities. He especially searched for bits of electrical wire. In the evenings, through well past midnight, he melted down the bits of the wire he found that day, burning off any coating. Every month, he produced about a one-kilogram lump of copper that he sold for about $20. He used this money to augment whatever else he found his dumpster diving. In this way, he worked hard every day and survived. In this way, he was reasonably content with this meager lifestyle. When asked about this he said:
“I have no worries. People always throw away more than even I can ever use, so I get to choose only the best.”
The Bible Speaks On Environmental Protection.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)
“Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:17-18)
“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24)
“You must keep my decrees and my laws…. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:26, 28)
“You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33-34)
“If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)
“I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.” (Jeremiah 2:7)
It is interesting how easy it is to use or misuse the bible to justify or condemn just about anything. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why our founding fathers were so adamant about separating church from state.
“A good funeral was one where the main player was very old.”
Pratchett, Terry. I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld Book 38) (p. 293). HarperCollins.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE PANDEMIC.
Days and Daze. As the time of our self-quarantine lengthens (it is now in its seventh month with no end in sight) my attitude and behavior are changing. In the past month or so I have been industriously posting in Daily Kos and in a poetry blog entitled, “My Poetic Side.” The former, Daily Kos, is a fairly well known progressive blog in which I post my ruminations on politics and poetry. I have been posting there on and off for ten years but recently have begin posting almost every day. Alas, my posts generally receive, at best, a lukewarm reception.
The poetry blog is one where amateur poets of little talent but with sufficient desire for any shred of recognition can submit their poems and receive encouragement from other posters on the site. One time I received a comment which said, “I liked your poem very much. Please don’t forget to comment on mine.” Most of the poetry is of the personal anguish type. You know, “I really suffer about something.” In one poem a women thanked her parents for making her the mess she is now. Most of the stuff I post are things that I wrote fifty years ago or so. They remind me that I have no idea who that person was who wrote them.
Anyway, now that I am doing this, I treat it as a job and spend most of my waking hours at it. Sort of like a junior Herman Melville. Melville was considered by his friends and relatives to be mentally unhinged for spending his whole day producing reams of novels, letters, poetry, and more, most of which was trash. Upon his death his relatives, out of embarrassment, burned everything. Of course, out of this avalanche of words came two or three great works of literature. Sort of like those monkeys that spent enough time at a typewriter they produced Shakespeare’s plays. Of course, if you read some of Melville’s published works not considered great works of English literature, you would be convinced the monkeys were still at it.
I have become so obsessed with my newest pseudo-career, that I am afraid it has begun to affect Naida. I sit, stare, silent but for grunts and curses hour after hour. I want to stop and apologize but there are always a few more words to be written or some research left undone. I even shout at the dog when his barking breaks my concentration. Of course, when it is a day like today with the sun not too hot and air not too filled with smoke, I think I will take the dog and go for a walk through the Enchanted Forest. And later take Naida out for dinner and forget it all.
The next morning, or perhaps a few mornings thereafter, we watched, Greta Garbo day on TCM (Camille, Conquest, Grand Hotel, and Ninotchka.)
More days and daze pass — more movies, more books, more wondering what comes next, more sadness about the future of the world, the country, my loved ones, me. A simple silly poem, I wrote perhaps 50 years ago:
Watching blue mold on bread grow,
Spring rains, Summer’s glow,
Autumn leaves go floating by,
How many days before I die?
Some reap and others sow,
Some the whole world’s knowledge know,
I instead just sit and sigh.
How many days before I die?
No,I am not depressed, nor was I depressed when I wrote this poem (well, maybe back then). I am a committed cynic. A cynic knows that on sunny days storms will eventually come. That all life ends in death. He is more amused than sad, more annoyed than despondent, more angry than desperate. Or as Jim LeBrecht has written:
“Time is a stupid concept that gives us a false sense of control. It’s like a handful of worms. It’s there, but not for long and it doesn’t smell so good and there’s no rhyme or reason to all of it.”
I visited with Hayden. He was a bit sad that the mechanic advised that the Mitsubishi would be too expensive to put back into good running order and pass a California smog test.
Boredom is not the same as depression. True, they both produce brain-freeze — a state in which people so inflicted usually ignore those things that could relieve their predicament. In both states, one can stare aimlessly at nothing for a long time, but the bored are not particularly unhappy — annoyed probably, but not unhappy. Alas, we have pills for depression, but not for boredom.
I am not depressed during these weeks of self-quarantine and creeping asphyxiation. I am just bored. That’s what I tell myself. It’s probably what half the world tells itself. What the other half thinks is a mystery to me.
So, Naida and I watch more television, read more books, write more things and stare at the yellow sky. Do others do this? Probably, but some have to run from the fires. Others have jobs to do. To be honest, I have no idea what anyone else does during these troubling times. As for the future, my time is relatively short. I will probably not be here when the tipping point on climate change comes. I will most likely be here when Trump becomes the supreme autocrat of our nation or not. If he succeeds, I might not be around to experience the full effect of that dolorous eventuality. Even if he fails, it is problematical that I will be here to know for sure that we have really exterminated from a nation that appears all to ready to submit to tyranny those forces driving it.
And what about those who will be left here, what about them? What I, and people my age do about it, if we are able to do anything, will not be for our own benefit but only for those who follow us. Alas, even if there is a will, due to the infirmities of age, there is often not a way.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Paradise by the Sea (June 30, 2012):
A few days ago, I decided to spend some time back at Jomtien Beach (Paradise by the Sea.) The Little Masseuse and I set off by bus intending to spend two days there. Upon our arrival, I decided to buy a new pair of prescription glasses. I did so, purchasing a pair with thick black plastic frames. It seems, this grossly ugly fashion in eyeglasses has returned. The glasses cost $100 US.
We then checked into a guest house about 50 yards from the beach on a pleasant little alley called Soi 3. After lunch went for a walk along the beach that during previous stays here I named “Siberia by the Sea.” It being summer in Siberia, there were few of those huge white bodies lolling about on the sand. I assumed they were all back in sunny Siberia swatting mosquitoes or whatever it is they do there, when not huddling around a fire attempting to protect themselves from violence of the Arctic ice storms of the Siberian winter.
I walked barefoot in the sand about two miles until I came to the area where I used to live. Walking on the sand is good exercise for an old person like me. It strengthens the small muscles in the ankle and the foot that aid in balance and usually do not get exercised in the gym. Generally the large muscle groups get exercised and strengthened with normal gym equipment. This is especially true for exercise machines that, from my perspective, are only good for lifting as much weight as you can as often as you are able until you are panting and gasping for breath and then moving on to the next machine. At least it makes one strong, healthy or dead. While exercising, I rarely see the difference among the three.
After a brief nap, we set off by songtheuw, the small open sided busses common in Thailand, and travelled to “The Outskirts of Hell” as I refer to Pattaya and walked along the walking street and out on to the Long Pier. We ate a dinner of truly horrible fish and chips while I watched the bar-girls and go-go dancers (and their ladyboy counterparts) pass by on their way to work perched on the back of motor bikes and motor scooters their already short skirts hiked up almost to their waist or mincing along on 6 inch spiked heels.
That night, I woke up and found myself is a state or total despair. It was as if a succubus crawled in through the window and sucked all life out of me. By this time in my life, I accepted that, no matter the event triggering the episode’ it is chemical and not philosophic or psychological in nature. Nevertheless, my life during the next few hours ceased to have meaning and I writhed in terror until I fell off to sleep, having consumed a handful of Tylenol in the interim.
The next morning after coffee, we set off for another multi mile walk along the beach. I walked on ahead in some semblance of a power walk while LM hung back exploring the morning’s detritus that littered the beach deposited by the night’s waves.
I walked to the jetty and sat on the rocks contemplating my evening’s despair. Peter’s observation, “The Seventh Seal artfully balances a beach ball on his nose,” rattling around in my brain screaming above the noise of the surf.
After all, what is our job in life but to kill and eat as much as we can and leave progeny who then kill, eat and metastasize in their turn? Everything else that does not contribute to those goals, as much as we deny it, is vanity, just there to pass the time in between the killing, eating and fornication.
It is men’s ego (I am sure women would not had thought of it this way) that insists on referring to ourselves as “predators” — the “greatest” of the predators no less. We are not. We are “parasites.” Parasites live off the living until they and their hosts die. As a species, it survives by seeking new hosts until none are left. Only most plants, that make their food from the sun water and the dead bodies of their predecessors and carrion eaters like vultures and hyenas avoid the trap of horror and uselessness.
Having worked myself back into a state of despair and wondering if I threw myself off the jetty would I sink or swim, I noticed LM far down the beach and decided that finding out what she had been up to seemed more rewarding and interesting than anything I was doing where I was. So, I got up and walked to her.
I discovered her and a male gleaner arguing over possession of the carcass of a two foot long squid they found floating in the surf. In between competing claims of ownership, they were also sharing recipes on how best to prepare the cadaver for eating. I decided it better if I just walked on by.
I returned to that portion of the beach adjacent to the soi on which the guest house was located. LM arrived a few minutes later. Apparently she had lost the argument. She then demonstrated for me how well she had learned the many different uses of that handy and flexible english word, “Shit.”
LM has great difficulty learning english. I believe part of the reason is that like most people learning english (and probably other languages as well) she thinks that the more words she memorizes the better she can speak the language. Others, often those who teach english for a living seem to emphasize grammar. Now grammar may be great for learning Latin or ancient Greek, languages that are no longer spoken, but I frankly fail to see what it has to do with modern english much less to teaching it to a non-native speaker.
English seems founded upon basic sentence structure. Words have little meaning in english apart from where they appear in a sentence and grammar is often secondary to position in english comprehension. Some have suggested that one need only to learn 500 or so basic words to have a working knowledge of the language. I think one needs only to learn even fewer basic english sentence structures to do so. I would guess that there are only three or four basic sentences that need to be mastered: identity (Tautological, “I am a man” or positional, “That is a tree”), objective (“John walks to the loo”) or non-objective (John walks). Most english is built out of these sentence types, unlike fully inflected and many other languages, get the words out of order and you have gibberish.
After LM vented for a while we checked out of the room, ate lunch and returned to Bangkok. I remained depressed having learned that Hayden will be leaving next week and prefers to spend his remaining weekend playing with children his own age rather that with a morose old man.
That night I dreamt I was a dead squid.
1. January 29, 1943:
Nazis order all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination.
2. December 10, 1902:
Vito Marcantonio (US congressman from New York City elected on the Republican – CP – ALP fusion ticket) was born on this day in New York City.
“You only live once and it is best to live one’s life with one’s conscience rather than to temporize or accept with silence those things one believes to be against the interests of one’s people and one’s nation.”
Vito Marcantonio in Congress June 27, 1950, was the only Congressional voice opposed to US intervention in the Korean War.
Vito Marcantonio was the most consequential radical politician in the United States in the twentieth century. Elected to Congress from New York’s ethnically Italian and Puerto Rican East Harlem slums, Marcantonio, in his time, held office longer than any other third-party radical, serving seven terms from 1934 to 1950. Colorful and controversial, Marcantonio captured national prominence as a powerful orator and brilliant parliamentarian. Often allied with the US Communist Party (CP), he was an advocate of civil rights, civil liberties, labor unions, and Puerto Rican independence. He supported social security and unemployment legislation for what later was called a “living wage” standard. And he annually introduced anti-lynching and anti–poll tax bills a decade before it became respectable. He also opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee, red-baiting, and antisemitism, and fought for the rights of the foreign-born. He was a bold outspoken opponent of US imperialism.
“If it be radicalism to believe that our natural resources should be used for the benefit of all of the American people and not for the purpose of enriching just a few…then, Ladies and Gentlemen of this House I accept the charge. I plead guilty to the charge; I am a radical and I am willing to fight it out…until hell freezes over.” Vito Marcantonio
“I have stood by the fundamental principles which I have always advocated. I have not trimmed. I have not retreated. I do not apologize, and I am not compromising.” Vito Marcantonio, in his last speech to Congress
On the morning of August 9, 1954, Vito Marcantonio, only fifty-one-years-old, dropped dead of a heart attack in the rain on lower Broadway near City Hall.
Claim: More homicides in the US are committed with baseball bats than with firearms. * FALSE. … Information gathered by the FBI does not support this claim [about Bats being the more deadly]. The Uniform Crime Reports made available on the “Crime in the US” section of the FBI’s web site includes homicide data that breaks down killings by the types of weapons used. In 2011, the percentages for weapon types used in homicides throughout the US were as follows:
Firearms: 67.8% Knives or other cutting instruments: 13.4% Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.): 5.7% Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.): 3.9% Other dangerous weapons: 9.2%
This lie about the unregulated lethality of baseball bats has been making the rounds on the internet. If you receive something like this please remember, “Liberals exaggerate, conservatives lie”…always.
A. Mark Twain on Top:
A bit more Twain*:
“When I look around me, I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. To mention only a few: The Atheist, The Theosophists, The Infidel, The Swedenborgians, The Agnostic, The Shakers, The Baptist, The Millerites, The Methodist, The Mormons, The Christian Scientist, The Laurence Oliphant Harrisites, The Catholic, and the 115 Christian sects ( the Presbyterian excepted), The Grand Lama’s people, The Monarchists, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Republicans (but not the Mugwumps!), The Buddhist, The Blavatsky-Buddhist, The Mind-Curists, The Faith-Curists, The Nationalist, The Mental Scientists, The Confucian, The Spiritualist, The Allopaths, The 2000 East Indian sects, The Homeopaths, The Electropaths, The Peculiar People, The–
“But there’s no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational. This should move us to be charitable towards one another’s lunacies.”
Mark Twain, Christian Science.
* We need more Twains and fewer singularities.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Ennui and indolence go together like macaroni and cheese.
(Trenz, I think you are growing a bit batty.)
C. Today’s Poem: The Battle of Argoed Llwyfain, by Taliesin.
The story goes that he was born around the year 534 AD, possibly in the mid-Welsh region of Powys, and it seems that he was found as a baby, Moses-like, floating in a river in a basket. He was found by a man named Elphin while on a fishing expedition for salmon. Elphin noted the “whiteness of the boy’s forehead”. A “radiant forehead” translates in Welsh as taliesin, hence the child’s adopted name.
As he grew up his fame and renown meant that he was popular at the royal courts and some have called him Taliesin Ben Beirdd, which means “Chief of Bards”. Even into the Middle Ages his reputation was still shining brightly and many romantic legends were attributed to him. The Book of Taliesin is difficult to date as some have said that it first appeared in the 13th century while others have it as late as the 15th century. It contains some 56 poems, the contents being primarily celebrations of Celtic kings such as King Urien of Rheged and King Brochfael Ysgithrog of Powys. Naturally great victories won in battle were eulogized by the Bards of the day and Taliesin included many of these.
Well, it is not exactly a blog nor a weekly but, while I was hot on the trail of Mr. Natural through the internet, I came across an article in the Village Voice, that mouthpiece of a village in a city, that caught my attention. The article reminds the reader that at one time the newspaper published the cartoons of that odd cartoonist and idol of hippiedom, R. Crumb, and the cartoon character of his declining years, my personal favorite, Mr. Natural.
“It was the Bicentennial year. What could be more appropriate than to give an avatar of the counterculture free rein across the pages of the Village Voice? The country was still floundering after Watergate and almost two years of bumbling from the appointed caretaker in the Oval Office, Jerry Ford. Many years later, speaking to an interviewer about a collected edition of the Voice’s Mr. Natural strips, Crumb said, ‘Well, by the mid-Seventies I was feeling kind of lost. The hippie thing was falling apart. The whole optimism of the Sixties was getting ground down.”’Then he added, matter-of-factly, ‘I was looking for some kind of secure gig at the time, I needed to make a living, and then the Village Voice offered me this regular, weekly strip. So I thought, ‘Wow, $200 bucks a week,’ which was OK money at the time. Back then, I was living on a fucking shoestring. It was around that time that the whole IRS tax nightmare came up, and I was feeling disillusioned and disgusted with America. They were just forging ahead with the same old shit. They just bulldozed over the whole hippie idealist optimism, the idea of a leftist revolution just evaporated. And the corporations and the banks and the conservative politicians and the developers, they were all back on track and back in force.’”
“Crumb can never be accused of viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, and the backgrounds behind Mr. Natural’s ruminations are chockablock with junked cars, smokestacks, discarded tires, and other blots on the American Arcadia. We get classic Mr. Natural: Sage or crackpot or charlatan? Along with overzealous fanboys, pontificating atheists, gibbering demons, “Bruce Sharpsteen,” and Mr. Natural’s old pal Flakey Foont, there’s a trip to the nuthouse, which engenders an investigation from none other than that crusading weekly tabloid the Village Voice. Or are the Voice reporters nothing more than yellow journalists seeking sensationalist gossip? Come week 39 — the strip has disappeared! Outraged letters to the editor question both the paper’s and the cartoonist’s motives. Will Crumb return?”
So for those fans of Crumb enjoy. What do you have to lose?
E. Giants of History:
Terry takes them on again.
Terry, ever the optimist, in response to He Who Is Not My President’s boast at a rally in South Carolina that with the appointment of a new Associate Supreme Court Justice to replace Ruth Ginsberg, “Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later or two weeks later,” writes:
“Trump, as usual , has not read the constitution . SCOTUS has absolutely no power to declare an election winner. That role is exclusively reserved to the STATES, the electors appointed by the states pursuant to their state laws and THE ELECTORS casting their votes and delivering them TO THE NEWLY ELECTED CONGRESS.”
“Who then counts them and, in joint session announces the winner? Should the Court try to stop such a process, the Congress could just ignore SCOTUS and declare the winner. It didn’t happen in 2000 because Gore conceded. 2020 will be different . And this could provoke a different kind of crisis, that we have never seen before. Two Presidents, one supported and elected by the Electoral College as announced by the US Congress and One declared to be President by SCOTUS.”
“Should the Court be do foolish as to get into the middle of that tumult, it will lose. Why: because the military will recognize the US Congress designated President and that will be that. As Andrew Jackson once said of the SCOTUS, Chief Justice John Marshall “has said it, let him enforce it. I have the bayonets”.
Since then, no SCOTUS has ever challenged the President when he has the public behind him. And CJ Roberts is no fool. Neither, I would guess, are the rest of the justices .
“To try to control the lives of other people is a form of arrogance. The only form of behavior that is more arrogant is to claim that we know the will of God.” Burke, James Lee.The Glass Rainbow: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 60). Simon & Schuster.
Happy Birthday to Uncle Mask and to Ann Vita.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE GREAT PANDEMIC OF 2020.
Naida remained in the hospital for the second day now. She seems in good spirits. They are promising additional tests but have not yet delivered any information about what, when and where. The day grew hotter. I fed the dog. Watched the television screen awhile. It was not on but I found staring at the black screen restful. I went upstairs and took a nap. The dog had not barked much during the day and seemed to cower silently and sad-eyed in his dog bed. After waking from my nap, I fiddled around with my computer, checking all the usual sites. At about five o’clock Naida called me to pick her up. The process of getting her discharged took another few hours. Later at home I read the brief After Visit Summary. It opined that she did not have a heart attack but dramatically elevated blood pressure due to stress, possibly from PTSD. Now, I could not figure out what would cause her PTSD other than living with me. It has not been unknown in my life for wives, lovers, friends, children and my employees to accuse me of causing them similar maladies. Naida, however, believes that reliving in her mind those horrid events in her life that she was attempting to recapture in volume two on her memoir was the cause. So, she now is considering terminating her work on it. I wondered if, when you get to our age, it is not the destruction of our bodies but the crushing weight of our memories that exhausts and ultimately kills us. Then again, it’s always something.
The next day the temperature reached 111 degrees in the Enchanted Forest. Our new air purifier arrived. That made the both of us happy and I thought that was enough for me to mark the day down as a good one. Along about evening, Naida was standing in the driveway waiting for her daughter and her husband Marc who had been spending a few days at the seashore enjoying the sand a spume and buying oysters that Marc likes to prepare and offer to friends he gathers for an evening with wine and laughter, but perhaps not now because of the pandemic, so I guess they will just go home and eat the oysters and drink the wine, just the two of them. Naida was standing there waiting for them to pass by because they had written and wanted to see how she looked after her hospitalization but did not want to come into the house because of social distancing. While waiting she checked the mailbox and found a package from my sister Maryann addressed to me and brought it in the house to me then returned to continue her vigil.
I opened the package. It held a copy of the New York Times Magazine containing excerpts from Elena Ferrante’s new novel. Before reading Ferrante”s great trilogy “My Brilliant Friend” set in Naples I was hesitant to take on the read because, I admit, I suspected it was more “chic lit.” After I began reading it, I was enthralled just like most other readers of the novels become. The first paragraph of her new novel, “The Lying Life of Adults” began:
“Two years before leaving home my father told my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents, newly married, bought at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri, in Rione Alto. Everything — the spaces of Naples, the blue night of a frigid February, those words — remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really brought to completion: Only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering without redemption.”
That evening we watched a documentary on Bob Dylan directed by Martin Scorsese. While watching it, I realized for the first time Dylan was not much of a musician or singer but a masterful poet. He wrote poems that even he did not understand. The Nobel Prize for Literature electors seemed to have known what they were doing.
Another day passes with temperatures in the 100s and the view outside our window is cast in sickly yellow. We spend the day indoors, huddled by our new air-purifier and reading mostly, Naida the first volume of her memoir (Daughter of the West) and I my most recent fantasy adventure novel — this one part of a series about a wealthy and beautiful vampire who along with her consort, an angel, and assisted by a teen warlock and his werewolf girlfriend, a magical bear and a computer that controls the earth’s cybernetics save the world from demons and rapacious aliens from out of space. We have hardly watched the TV today other than to catch up on the political news on CNN and MSNBC. How much longer can this go on? How much longer before I begin seeing demons, angels, Vampires and werewolf gamboling in the putrid sky outside my window?
When Naida returned from walking the dog, she insisted I go with her outside. There to the west the red-orange sun hovered before setting in a hazy sky. To the north, however, clouds of grey-black smoke from the nearby fires as it crawled through the trees of the Enchanted Forest.
While eating dinner and riffing through back issues of T&T looking for something else, I came across a conversation I had with HRM when he was about seven years old or so:
H. “Am I special?” P. “To me you’re special.” H. “I know I am special to Pookie, but what about everyone else?” P. “Everyone is special in his or her own way.” H. “Yes, but am I special to Nikki, Mommy and Uncle Mask?” P. “Well, I am sure you are.” H. “Does that mean they will get me an x-box for my birthday?”
The next day broke red and dark over San Francisco and sickly yellow in the Enchanted Forest. We were surprised by the news that the Bob Woodward book disclosed that he had tapes revealing that in February He who is not my president knew the Coronavirus was deadly and later in March admitted that he was playing the threat down. Naida and I then turned on Fox and spent a pleasant half-hour shouting and laughing at Neal Cavuto.
Well, finally the doctor called Naida to give her his analysis of the test taken during her hospitalization about a week ago. He informed her that there has been no permanent damage to her heart muscles and that the pains in her arms and chest and her nausea were probably caused by stress. The doctor seemed to agree that the stress episodes could have been caused by recalling unresolved memories during the writing of her memoir.
The next day a package sent by Alexandra Leti from Australia arrived. It contained Alexandra’s watercolor painting of Australian eucalyptus flower that she had painted. I intend to give it to my daughter for Christmas. I also had ordered two more of Alexandra’s paintings which I expect to arrive in a week or two. Alexandra and her cousin Bruno and two fairly well-known Australian artists. They are also cousins of mine who came to Australia from my Grandmother’s home in Roccantica. My grandmother had 12 siblings, three emigrated to the United States, one to Australia and the remainder stayed in Italy.
Today was the worst air-day. The fires are everywhere in the west. We briefly went grocery shopping and banking. By the time we returned I was having trouble seeing and breathing. There are about 55 million people living in the three westernmost continental states. Of that amount, I expect there are about 20 elderly and other hypersensitive people to whom this baleful air will cause near and long term health impacts that when added to fire damage and the direct deaths caused therefrom will make this tragedy an truly historic tale of sorrow. We live in interesting times, unfortunately.
Today the air quality was even worse than yesterday. I pity those with pulmonary problems. Thousands are being driven from their homes. An exasperated Gov. Newsom railed against our inaction on climate change. On the spur of the moment, we decided to fly off to Santa Fe for a few days and hopefully escape the smoke. Of course, it increases the chances that we will contract coronavirus. But, what the hell, desperation always prompts risky action. After making all our reservations, we discovered New Mexico had a 14 day quarantine for visitors from California. We attempted to arrange for a quickie COVID test which would eliminate the need for the quarantine, but could not arrange to have it done in time.So we set about cancelling our reservations. What a pain. There were cancellation fees too. I feel stupid. I hate 2020.
Before I fall asleep, And after I awake. The existential malaise, Is difficult to fake.
To those that never felt, The night that never ends Bearing fast down on them Like an angry train It is hard to explain What that fear portends.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES: POOKIE HAS A NIGHT OUT IN BANGKOK (2014).
“Pookie has a night out:
Having had it spending my afternoons and evenings in my apartment because of the curfew and the skies threatening rain that rarely comes, I decided to treat myself to a night out on the town. For me a night of the town has become simply finding a place to nurse a beer and watch the goings on. So one night I put on a clean shirt and stepped out from my building into the steaming hot air of BKK.
I ate dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, an open front place that takes up the bottom floor of a cheap rooming house on Soi Nana. There I ordered my usual sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice and a coke from the six-foot tall ladyboy who looked like an NFL linebacker with boobs and a cute pink bow in his hair. I watched an American movie on the overhead TV while I ate.
After dinner I walked up Soi Nana searching for a bar in which I could enjoy my beer. Now for those who have not been there, bars along Soi Nana are for the most part open front affairs with young women outside calling out to you to join them just like the sirens called out to Ulysses. But this old sea dog ignored them because he had his sights set on the bright lights of Nana Plaza.
Nana Plaza bills itself as the World’s Largest Adult Playground. It is situated only a few blocks from my apartment. Although for reasons of age, fear of STD and a general aversion to the hard sell I do not avail myself of the services offered at many of the establishments, nevertheless now and then I like to sit at one of the bars with my beer and watch.
Nana Plaza itself is a three-story or so U-shaped building with a large open space in the center. The building houses a number of Go-Go bars, Lady Boy bars and Beauty Salons to service the performers. In the center open area sits a few regular bars exposed to the sky.
I sat in one of them, bought a beer, and paid the hostess to not sit with me and try to cage drinks. The sounds of the music coming from the venues and the exuberance of the neon lights makes everyone feel a bit jittery, like they just snorted some cocaine. I sat there nursed my beer and observed.
The women and barkers standing outside the venues desperately attempted to entice each passersby to enter their place. The Ladyboys being men despite the makeup and potential genetic quirks, were more physically aggressive, sometimes surrounding the tourist like a pack of wolves. In one case even demonstrating specifically what she had to offer.
After I finished my beer, I walked home feeling had accomplished something.
1788: Patrick Henry, he of “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” fame, during the debate in the Virginia Legislature on ratification of the proposed new Constitution of the United States had this to say about liberty for a majority of the residents of his State:
“In this state,” there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States . . . . May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free.”
“…[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission… And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defense and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?
“…This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it.”
“…This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.”
This speech prompted what was eventually to become the Second Amendment to the US Constitution: assurance that the state militias, which in the southern states were organized for the most part to protect against slave rebellions, could not be disbanded by the proposed Federal Government. The potential of such rebellions struck mortal fear into the heart of just about every brave white southerner at the time. Thus in one speech this icon of liberty argued for the permanent enslavement of a majority the residents of his state and the military means to assure it; all thinly disguised under the rubric of “States Rights.”
In one way or another the rhetoric of racism by politicians from the South has remained consistent for 225 years.
A. Terry on Top:
Terry remains and astute observer of the Federal political scene.
1. The benefits of governing from the center:
So the news media is “shocked” , “shocked “ that Biden is trying to be all things to all people so as to keep a broad based coalition together to get power and to govern as a centrist. Well ,my , my. And the media now predicts great infighting in a Biden administration over whose policies get pushed into legislation and whose don’t.
Well, gang , I hate to tell you that FDR ran the US of A just like that. A famous contemporary biography of FDR published after his death was entitled : “The Lion and the Fox”. It was required reading in one of my seminars at Georgetown. And foxy FDR truly was. And there is nothing wrong with that model. It got us through the depression and the worst War in history.
FDR would send up trial balloons, if they were shot down, he would send up different ones. People came out of meetings with him believing he was “Fully in line with your very thoughtful thinking,” whatever that was supposed to mean. And they were astonished when later he did exactly the opposite of “their line of thinking”.FDR
But FDR always has his eye on the goal, and how to drag the country alongside with him. And I believe that is exactly what Biden is doing. As a contemporary of Joe Biden, he strikes me as having read “The Lion and the Fox”. Assigned reading in his classes as well. It seems he remembers the lessons well.
On the 12th of September, a few days after he sent the above, I received the following:
2. It’s been a good week for Biden:
It’s been a good week for Biden:
This is a very reputable poll. And it’s key, because it comes out after the dust has settled from the conventions and after Trump’s new law and order attack has run for a week or so. Trumps strategy is not working! Why?
As this poll indicates, no matter what he says 53% to 55% OF THESE SWING STATE VOTERS intensely dislike him. A small slice of those voters are on the bubble because Biden, while he has denounced the violence, has not indicated what he will do about it. So Biden only needs to make a small adjustment mid campaign to meet those concerns. But even if that small slice goes back to Trump, it’s still not enough for him to carry these swing states. Biden remains 5% to 9% ahead now; he has votes he could lose and still win these states. However, this is no time for complacency and voter‘s must have determination to have their vote count by voting early. But Biden is in the driver seat, unlike Clinton in 2016, who ignored her falling margins in the swing states and paid the price. Biden and the Democrats won’t let that happen again.
Trump is running out of room to maneuver . He has very limited options to get pluralities in enough states to win the electoral college. And his window is getting smaller. Biden’s window of options, meanwhile , is getting larger. He could win AZ, GA, IA, FL and, unlikely TX. But his odds in those states are improving. Winning one or two of those would be important to insure that the election can’t be contested in Federal Court. 2000 isn’t in the cards as long as his electoral vote is around 300+. A win with just 270 votes will definitely be contested and we don’t want that. So Biden must win decisively in the electoral college and that means taking at least the four states in this poll or , if one is lost, pick up a substitute, most likely AZ.
There is no certainty that those who bind together to oppose autocratic oppression will operate for the good of its members because the same merchants of greed and corruption will always work untiringly for its downfall.
C. Today’s Poem:
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll By Bob Dylan
William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll, With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’, And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him As they rode him in custody down to the station, And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder.
But you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all fears, Take the rag away from your face, now ain’t the time for your tears.
William Zanzinger, who at twenty-four years, Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him, And high office relations in the politics of Maryland, Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders, And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling, In a matter of minutes on bail was out walking.
But you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all fears, Take the rag away from your face, now ain’t the time for your tears.
Hattie Carroll was a maid of the kitchen. She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage, And never sat once at the head of the table And didn’t even talk to the people at the table, Who just cleaned up all the food from the table, And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level, Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane That sailed through the air and came down through the room, Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle. And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger.
But you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all fears, Take the rag away from your face, now ain’t the time for your tears.
In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel, To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded, And that even the nobles get properly handled Once that the cops have chased after and caught ’em, And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom, Stared at the person who killed for no reason, Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’. And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished,
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance, William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence.
Oh, but you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all fears, Bury the rag deep in your face, for now’s the time for your tears.
D. Giants of History: More From The Fish Man.
Neal Fishman continues to inform and entertain through his posts on Facebook.
1. I grew up loving cops:
I grew up loving the cops. Part of white privilege, but they always let us off the hook. Caught driving utterly drunk after a friends wedding in my early twenties; they called my dad to pick me up. No ticket, no DWI. I wonder how many times that happens in black neighborhoods, with white cops? It probably does, but we never hear of it. It should happen more. Black kids especially have a hard time staying straight because of the lack of wealth in the black community. Every game that can be played, will be played when people are desperate. This entraps black kids who have the same intelligence and drive that other kids do but whose roll models show a different path to and definition of success. Cops have a great opportunity to change the direction kids are going in. It should be their mission and what every cop thinks about everyday as he or she gets ready for the day. Cops need to be heroes. We entrust them with deadly force and the ability to arrest us. They need to take that power and turn Santayana on his head. Instead of being corrupted by the power, we need our cops to gain more humanity as they rise in power over us. This is what should be taught at the police academy, if it is not already. Cops are entrusted with the awesome and awful responsibility to use power. They must use it well and strategically to make a better community.
2. The indomitable Mr. Penry:
Every now and then I walk up to Penry Park in Petaluma. Did so this morning. It was named after Richard Penry who won the medal of honor during Vietnam. I knew Mr. Penry through a mutual friend. The presidential citation for his actions is written on a plaque and its some story. I didn’t go to Vietnam, though I’m the right age. I didn’t support the war and wouldn’t have gone if I had been called, but an injury at work messed up my foot and they didn’t want me anyway. I only say this so that no one thinks I think of myself as having any of the qualities Mr. Penry showed the day for which he was honored. His platoon was pinned down and most were wounded. Very briefly , he fought off about 30 attackers, brought ammo and aid to wounded men, exposed himself to fire many times to retrieve radios and bring men into safer positions. I didn’t believe in the cause for which he fought. But I appreciate his bravery, quick thinking, and dedication to others. He was certainly not a “loser” even though in coming home he fell into addiction and died young. He left a mark and a lesson about honor, duty, courage, and caring. President Trump understands none of this.
The following, a drum roll of words about the sudden realization of mortality, was written by the unsurpassed magician of lush exposition James Lee Burke:
“YOU KNOW HOW it is when you’ve kicked around the globe too long and scorched your grits too many times with four fingers of Jack in a mug and a beer back, or with any other kind of flak juice that was handy. And if that wasn’t enough, maybe doubling down in the morning with a half-dozen tall glasses of crushed ice and cherries and sliced oranges and vodka to drive the snakes and the spiders back into the basement. Wow, what a gas. Who thought we’d ever die? But why get into all that jazz? I’ll tell you why. I’m talking about those moments when you strip your gears, whether you’re chemically loaded or not, and get lost inside the immensity of creation and see too deeply into our ephemerality and our penchant for greed and war and willingness to destroy the Big Blue Marble, and for a brief moment you scare yourself so badly you wonder why you didn’t park your porridge on the ceiling a long time ago. That kind of moment came to me once when I was standing on a Texas dock in the sunset while the waves rolled below me and thudded as hard as lead against the pilings, an incandescent spray blowing as cool as refrigeration on my clothes and skin, a green-gold light as bright as an acetylene torch in the clouds, the amusement pier ringing with calliope music and the popping of shooting galleries. It was one of the moments when you hang between life and death and ache to hold on to the earth and eternity at the same time, regretting all those days and nights you pitched over the gunwales while you deconstructed your life. I’m talking about the acknowledgment of mortality, and not the kind that slips up on you in a hospice or on a battlefield filled with the cawing of carrion birds or by way of a drunk driver bouncing over a curb into a playground. I’m talking about seeing the Seventh Seal at work and a string of medieval serfs and liege lords and virginal maidens wending their way across a hilltop to a valley dark as oil, their silhouettes blowing like pieces of carbon in the wind. The people who have these moments of metaphysical clarity are what I call members of the Three Percent Club, because in my opinion that’s approximately the percentage of people who fry a couple of their lobes and are able to talk about it later. You can pay your dues in lots of ways: on a night trail sprinkled with Chinese toe-poppers and booby-trapped 105 duds; or stacking time on the hard road; or kneeling on a hard floor in a convent with a rosary twisted around your knuckles; or listening to voices in your head that are as loud as megaphones. The surroundings don’t matter. You’re in a black box for the duration, Jason. You literally sweat blood, bud. To say it’s a motherfucker doesn’t come close. After you’re through with the long night of the soul, or after it’s through with you, you’re never the same. Earthly fears disappear like a great weight removed from a scale. You have no inclination to argue or hold grudges; reticence becomes a way of life; it’s hard to stay awake during an average conversation. The downside is you’re on your own, the only occupant in a cathedral in which you can hear your heartbeat echoing off the walls. What does all this have to do with Johnny Shondell? I’ll tell you. He was out of another era, even though he was more symbolic of it than part of it, an era we always want to resurrect, whether we admit it or not. Jesus talked about people who are made different in the womb. I’ll take that a step further. Maybe some people were never in the womb. They arrive inside a golden bubble and somehow become the icon for the rest of us. At least that’s how I thought of Johnny and Isolde. Call it a scam or a sham or the stupidity of the herd, who cares? The only reality you have is the one you believe in. I say eighty-six the rest of it. Back in that other era, America was still America, for good or bad. Men such as Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were president; we didn’t have the daily arrival of the clown car. People can say that’s just nostalgia talking. They’re wrong. For us in Louisiana it was a time of music and drive-in movies and starry skies and two-lane roads that meandered for miles through meadows and oak trees hung with Spanish moss. If you don’t believe me, ask my friend Clete Purcel. He’ll tell you all about it. I can almost hear him now: “It was deeply copacetic, noble mon. You can take that to the shack, Jack. I wouldn’t give you the slide, Clyde.” Burke, James Lee. The Glass Rainbow: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 434). Simon & Schuster.
“One way to predict the future is to cheat. This method has many advantages. It works. You can test it, so that makes it scientific. Lots of people will believe the evidence of their own eyes, unaware that eyes tell lies and you’ll never catch a competent charlatan in the act of cheating.” Pratchett, Terry.The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES WHILE SLOGGING THROUGH THE GREAT PANDEMIC OF 2020.
It was a balmy night in the Enchanted Forest. Naida and I sat in our respective recliners facing the TV. I was naked but for the swim trunks I had worn all day and Naida was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. We were attempting to find something to watch until it was time to sleep. In other words, to sleep with our eyes open before having to close them. We decided on something called Night Club Scandal a 1937 movie starring John Barrymore. Its opening scene showed Barrymore standing over the body of his wife whom he had just killed. Naida soon fell asleep in her chair and I went back to reading my latest novel leaving the movie flickering in the background and the 1930s patter rumbling in my ears. John Barrymore was caught in the end, I think.
That night, I suffered the second of the horrid dreams that kept me awake and moaning most of the night, the first of which I wrote about here a few weeks ago. Throughout my life I always fought back, sometimes effectively and sometimes not, against the threats posed in the nightmares but not during these last two. Two weeks ago it was stark terror and fear that immobilized me. Last night it was absolute helplessness first at the destruction of my home and happiness and then to fight off the creeping hands searching my body as I began to try to restore my life.
In the morning, I tried to figure out what was happening with these dreams. It seemed appropriate to set my mind to it, after all I had little enough to do otherwise. My first thought, as one might imagine, was that these dreams were harbingers of the inevitable arrival of death. In the past, when confronted with these night time stories, I could fight against them because tomorrow was another day and my fears could be confronted. But, at my age, Mister Death no longer seems satisfied to leave too many more tomorrows for me to wrestle with my fears. At first this bit of infantile self psychoanalysis seemed to fit the bill. Then, I remembered that I had taken a swig of NyQuil before going to bed on each of the evenings.
Dextromethorphan (DMX), one of NyQuil’s three active ingredients, has mind-altering effects. Lot’s of kids use it to get high and drug-stores often prohibit people from purchasing too much of it at a time. So, perhaps, that may be the cause and not that silly existential pseudo-psychiatric stuff. But, I seem to recall taking NyQuil on other nights without similar effects. Then again, my previous nightmare occurred on the first day of the last Central Valley heatwave and yesterday the most recent one began. Could my overheated imagination merely have been a response to my overheated body? As I have written often whenever I have rambled off into some adolescent level philosophical speculation, who cares? Anyway, although the cause of the dreams may remain a mystery, trying to solve that mystery at least allowed me to spend my time writing this and avoid watching The Great Escape for the umpteenth time.
Speaking of heat waves, it was in the mid-90s at 10 AM this morning when I left the house to swim in the pool. The swim was enjoyable and after which, I went for a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. In New York where I grew up, temperatures in the 90s were often accompanied also by humidity in the 90s. To anyone walking along the City’s sidewalk death appeared imminent before one could walk from one telephone pole to the next. Here in the Great Valley the air is bone dry. Walking in the Enchanted Forest shaded by the giant trees felt like I was covered in a warm blanket on a cool evening. It was delightful. There was a slight breeze. I decided to sit for a while on one of the benches along the path in order to enjoy the comforting warmth of the air and the beauty of the forest.
(Naida wanted me to make sure I point out that my hair is not white. It is actually quite dark. Its blond hue is only an effect of the sunlight. As one can tell I wear my hair in a popular Age of Quarantine style called the Albert Einstein Do.)
That evening, we watched a Nina Foch festival on TCM — yes, Nina Foch. At about 10:30 the temperature outside had dropped to 95 degrees. Cool enough to take the dog for his evening walk.
The next day, it was over 100 degrees outside when I woke up at about 10:30 in the morning. I had missed my slotted pool time so I spent another hour or so lying in my bed playing with my iPhone until the dog came upstairs started barking at me to let me know that I should stop lazing around and begin my day — a day that promised even less interest than usual.
Apparently, the SF Bay area had an East-Coast type of lightning storm that drove its citizens out into the night with their smart-phones to photograph, post on social media and record for all time the singular event of the lightning displays. We East-Coasters were somewhat blasé about night time spectacles of lightning and thunder having experienced them on almost a weekly basis every summer. I loved them — the crashes of thunder so loud it would shake the house and the tingling on your skin as the flash of lightning tears through the sky. All the sounds and lights of a war among the gods without the slaughter. The next morning in the silence, as you read the morning newspaper, there was the inevitable story about some guy trying to get a last round of golf in before the storm broke getting fried on the fairway by a bolt of lightning. Ah, those were the days.
(It looks to me a bit like a skeleton with a sword confronting a dragon)
The lightning storm passed over the Enchanted Forest last night, the dog crept under the bed and shook in fear, and Naida, unable to sleep with the noise and flashes of lightning laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. I slept through it all. Too bad, I would have liked to have experienced it. A welcome break to six months of social distancing — even the end of the world would be a welcome break.
The next day was even warmer with a lightly overcast sky. Naida accompanied me to swim. Then I left to visit with HRM in the Golden Hills. He cooked me a lunch of pasta and meat sauce. That night, we watched the opening night of the Democratic Convention and cheered Michelle Obama. Let us hope this pandemic inspired unconventional convention marks the beginning of a new way to hold political conventions.
Two days have gone by. The temperature remains in the 100s. Today, the air quality was worsened by the annual burning of California. We have watched two more days of the Democratic Convention. The fear that our democratic republic is at risk was palpable. After the convention ended and the commentators and pundits signed off, we turned to TCH with was featuring the movies of Delores Del Rio. I skipped it and went to bed.
The next day air quality was worse (AQI 253. Hazardous). Now and then I would look up from my computer screen and stare out through the sliding glass doors of the studio at the sickly yellow aspect of scene outside. I skipped swimming again due to effect on my throat and lungs of the air now polluted with the smoke and ash particles from the nearby fires.
A few well forgotten days later, the Air Quality Index appeared low enough for Naida and I to go outside and chance an early morning swim in the pool. It was delightful. Along with my session in the massage chair, shower, lounging around in bed and a brief nap, it was 3:30 before I returned downstairs for lunch. That, I consider, is an ideal way to spend a morning.
Well, that about does it for this post. Not too much excitement to mark these days of our quarantine. That’s most likely the reason why I spent most of my time these past few weeks writing and obsessively adding those lengthy portions of this post below. We, all of us I imagine, are destined to sit here in our homes watching with horror and disgust on electronic media the passing of perhaps the most consequential, challenging and dangerous time in the history of our species. And, for most of us, we feel helpless to do anything about it except to vote for people we do not really know in the hope that they somehow may be able to draw us back from the precipice.
Nevertheless, no matter how grim or not our future may appear remember always to enjoy your days. We have few other options.
We are seeing something new, the final victory of the streaming society over American politics, the end of political conventions as we knew them. Good. That method of demonstrating the will of the party served its purpose. That purpose was to reward the party faithful and to promote the fiction that the candidate was chosen by the will of the rank and file of the party. In fact, the candidate was chosen during the primaries. The convention is not an election but coronation of that candidate who has raised the most money and has the cleverest media experts. In the future, instead of a trip to some far off city somewhere, the reward to the party faithful will be an appearance in a political music video.
That aside on June 26, 2020, I posted the following in Daily Kos:
“I am not so sanguine about the military or Trump’s quiescence should he lose in November. So far, we have received many public comments from retired members of the military General Staff objecting to one or another action of He Who Believes He is the American Dear Leader as well as one or two current members of the General Staff and perhaps from a few lower officers on loan to the administration that have publicly protested specific actions of the administration. I seem to recall, however, that someone once pointed out that it is not the Generals that lead the coups, but the colonels leading elite fighting units. Be that as it may, I would expect Trump would rely more on his irregular troops, the KKK, Boogaloo Boys, and the like. But, of course, I am exaggerating. But, again, if in November 2016 someone said that by 2020 we would have become the laughing stock of the world, seen tens of thousands of our citizens die from administrative incompetence, and millions of Americans out of work, they would have been criticized for exaggerating also. Didn’t Maya Angelou or was it Disraeli say something like, ‘Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.’”
On July 9 while commenting on the Supreme Court’s decisions reaffirming the right of both States and Congress to investigate potential malfeasance of a sitting President, I wrote in Daily Kos:
“I suspect that since the decisions seem to clearly indicate that in the long term Trump is facing the destruction of his business empire and possible jail time for himself and members of his family, he will eventually recognize that he has no other option than to attempt to cling to his power by any means possible leading to a looming constitutional crisis should the coming election not go his way.”
Still later on July 26, I stated in the same venue:
“History is rife with countries and their militaries’ commitment and loyalty to a specific organizing principle only to have that commitment and more importantly their understanding of the organizing principle to be confused as a result of disagreement over its meanings. Today, the politics in America is only too often a disagreement over the meaning of provisions in the document.”
On the very next day, in commenting on the shocking report from the Transition Integrity Project I opined:
“There are those who have recommended taking to the streets to attempt to forestall the looming catastrophe others believe the opposite. This may be the greatest public crisis any of us my experience in our lives. Is sitting back and seeing how it all turns out an option? What do you think the individual should or can do now? What will you do?”
A significant number of comments and responses to all these posts seemed to run the gamut from “It could not happen here” to confidence that he would leave or the military would evict him. Since then, Trump claimed that he reserves to himself the right to decide if the election results are valid, has sent unidentified military troops into cities to put down constitutionally protected protests, has built a wall around the White House, and suborned the US Post Office to take steps to limit the effectiveness of mail in votes in Democratic and people of color voting areas. Each of those actions were met with surprise by the media and the leaders of the Democratic Party. Given the numbers of people opposed to the ambitions this dictator wannabe and who love this country isn’t there someone with enough insight to not be taken by surprise by his all too predicable initiatives to retain power and who is able to propose actions for the rest of us to take beyond just get out and vote?
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
From Chiang Mai Thailand — March 2010
“This and that from re Thai r ment. March 17, 2010
For the past three or four days the burning of the rice stubble and out of control grass fires in the area have left me with a sore throat and burning eyes. The sky is a hazy grey and the sun baleful…Of course it is not baleful at all. The particulate matter in the air just interferes with the blue portion of the light spectrum leaving the sun to appear a hazy red. I guess baleful is more poetic.
It seems Poets and those who make money off them (does anyone make money off of poetry? Did they ever? Is Rap poetry?) often claim poetry is some form of truth-telling. Baloney (or bologna or even salami) poets, like the adjectives they use, are accomplished liars. Think about it, poetry began as some sycophants telling lies to flatter the proto-biker gangs that ruled the cave with terror and rape. Did you ever notice most legends about heroes or even about the Volk are glorification of rape, slaughter robbery, lying and corruption by the worthless and unproductive of the peaceful and productive. I have never heard of a poem or legend glorifying a guy who grows a great zucchini or who invented the vibrator. The only positive legend I can think of is the one about the guy bringing fire to the people. But he was really only a sneak thief and liar and probably deserved to be chained to a rock and have birds tear out his liver for all eternity.
Hmmm..you are probably wondering if I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or if there is trouble in paradise. Well, neither really, a slight cold and a rampant allergic reaction to the air pollution has diminished my normal sunny disposition and after all think about what one could say about paradise if one did not exaggerate the annoying minutiae of existence. “Today I sat on a cloud, played my harp and was happy,” “Today I sat on a cloud, played my harp and was happy” and so on. Not only would that be intolerably boring but insufferably smug. On the other hand, “Today, I sat on a cloud, played my harp and was happy until a god-dammed fly started buzzing around my head and landed on my nose”. Now I can sit back and say to myself, “It serves you right you smug bastard” (I like the word “smug”).
Now where am I going with this? I intended to write that my illness and allergies have restricted me to spending most of my time in my bedroom which has air-conditioning.
Mac’s (I have settled on Mac as his name) father has taken over the day-to-day chore of entertaining both children. As a result little of interest to me and I assume you has occurred since I last wrote. I don’t even have a new photograph of insufferably cute children to annoy you with. But I did locate the attached advertisement that may amuse you.
And here I thought crack was just a cheap high.
FROM MY JOURNAL LEADING UP TO POST:
MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010 9AM
Took Hayden and Mac/Max to school, gassed up car, had coffee with Mac/Max father. Yesterday went to Night Safari, Hayden running around from exhibit to exhibit not remaining before any for more than a second or two, Mac/Max cried throughout the visit, I believe because he was frightened by a peacock on the path, father quiet and withdrawn as usual and me truly dying from the heat.
Did some research on Braudel yesterday. His view on capitalism is similar but far better developed than mine. What surprised me, although it shouldn’t be so, was the resistance by traditional economists to his conclusions. Basically, he separates “Capitalism” and “Capitalists” from “Free Markets” and “Competition.” His claim is that, “Capitalism” is a social phenomena that predates the rise of the “Free Market” in 14-15 century Italy. “Capitalism” as he defines it is the search for the highest rates of returns and is not connected to or based upon a particular means of production. And usually the highest returns are produced by monopoly (or price-fixing). Capitalists will resist competition to the last penny.
My aphorisms written to Gates and Schatzman in recent emails:
“You can lead a horse to honey but you must account for the bees” and;
“It is easier to get Mc Donald‘s to sell more Chicken McNuggets then to get a power company to close down a single coal-fired power plant”
In part, attempt to address a practical response to this phenomena. (although more accurately is addresses the problem of vested interests).
_____________________________________________ COMMENTS ON POST:
roses are red violets are blue what a remarkable guy for the zucchini he grew.
he sautéed it in butter gave some to the poor remarkable fellow but really a fool.
Ok, try one about the vibrator.
she stuck it inside then licked it with glee, i only wish that it could have been me.
WHAT DONALD TRUMP’S SISTER, MARYANNE TRUMP BARRY, SAYS ABOUT HIM IN PRIVATE:
1. “He’s a clown,” Maryanne is quoted saying, according to a copy of the book reviewed by VICE News. Maryanne dismisses his then-burgeoning presidential campaign in 2015 as preposterous, saying: “This will never happen.” (Vice)
2.“He’s using your father’s memory for political purposes,” Maryanne is quoted as telling her niece Mary Trump. “And that’s a sin.” (Vice)
3.“We talked about how his reputation as a faded reality star and failed businessman would doom his run,” Mary writes about one private conversation with her aunt. “‘Does anybody even believe the bullshit that he’s a self-made man? What has he even accomplished on his own?’ I asked.” “‘Well,’ Maryanne said, as dry as the Sahara, ‘he has five bankruptcies.’” (Vice)
4.“White evangelicals started endorsing him,” Mary Trump writes. “Maryanne, a devout Catholic ever since her conversion five decades earlier, was incensed. ‘What the fuck is wrong with them?’ she said. ‘The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there. He has no principles. None!” (Vice)
5.Maryanne Trump Barry was serving as a federal judge when she heard her brother, President Trump, suggest on Fox News, “Maybe I’ll have to put her at the border” amid a wave of refugees entering the United States. At the time, children were being separated from their parents and put in cramped quarters while court hearings dragged on.
“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said in a conversation secretly recorded by her niece, Mary L. Trump. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.”
Barry, 83, was aghast at how her 74-year-old brother operated as president. “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God,” she said. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”
Lamenting “what they’re doing with kids at the border,” she guessed her brother “hasn’t read my immigration opinions” in court cases. In one case, she berated a judge for failing to treat an asylum applicant respectfully.
“What has he read?” Mary Trump asked her aunt.
“No. He doesn’t read,” Barry responded. (Washington Post)
A. Peter on Top:
Peter Grenell has just published a book entitled, THE GREAT EXPERIMENT: Freedom, Greed, and Racism in America. It can be obtained from Amazon Books. If you wish to understand what greed and racism have been doing to our nation read this book. It combines history with the insights of some of the worlds greatest minds in a well written easy to read story.
Peter writes in his introduction:
“Racism and economic inequality have been embedded in our, and are intimately linked society from America’s beginnings and are intimately linked. America’s political, economic and social structures have been profoundly influenced by an insatiable urge to obtain wealth, from early settlers to the present. Together with an ultra-individualism and a predilection for beliefs not based on facts that Kurt Anderson has called ‘Fantasyland,’ and enhanced most recently under the regime pathologically narcissistic, authoritarian, psychopathic and racist president, racism and inequality are directly responsible for today’s perilous conditions.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“ If I were a purveyor of conspiracy theories like Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Russia, and the Committees to re-elect Trump, I could say that Trump created and released the virus in order to decimate the minority groups who oppose him and eventually declare a state of emergency so that he could eliminate the 2020 election and rule by martial law. Of course, I would not do that.”
C. Today’s Poem:
Carrizo BY CRISOSTO APACHE For Edgar
The submarine’s inside was dim. — Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, tr. by Will Petersen
in my youth, I hitched a ride to San Diego, across chirping desert and distant night, I gazed upon a slow-moving dark, encasing a convex cerulean cavity
each night, I stood beneath the sky for hours mesmerized at the perplex reformatory, twinkling lights of broken glass fragments spreading against a glistening sunset
a faceless man behind a lost reflection of glass at a drive-up window informs me, too bad, you know nothing of your own past
how far will I walk against the night? conforming to a captivity I had never realized
some years later, under the kitchen table, they all huddle, as the rampage continues toward the back of the house, a clash of debris from the other room recoils and broken sounds escape the barricade of doors
I remember I returned in 1970, all they remember is me sitting at the edge of my bed, with the war still in my hands
Crisosto Apache is originally from Mescalero, New Mexico, on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. He is Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné (Navajo) of the ‘Áshįįhí (Salt Clan] born for the Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House Clan). He earned an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
D. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE.
There are some blog sites I bookmark intending to come back to them now and then especially when I tire of my diet of fantasy and history novel. Alas, although some of them I return to often, others not so much. Sadly, SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE (https://sententiaeantiquae.com/about/) is one of the latter. Sadly, I say not only because I do not refer to it often, but also because, as a blog posted by lovers of classical literature, there are few who are interested in the subject at all. Perhaps, it is due to the loss of those who can read the tales in the original Latin and Greek. Whatever the reason, I for one, even though I cannot read in the original languages, enjoy now and then dipping into classical as well as ancient Irish and other Celtic literature. In the post below Aeneas describes the sorrowful state of Polyphemus following his run in with Ulysses. The author of the blog describes Virgil’s Aeneid as, “The world’s finest piece of propaganda literature,” because it was written specifically to give the upstart Romans an ancestry linked to the glories of ancient Greek culture described by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Humanizing a Monster: The Saddest Scene in Latin Literature
As a high-school Latin teacher, I am tasked with guiding young minds through the world’s finest piece of propaganda literature, Vergil’s Aeneid. We read through substantial portions of the text in preparation for the AP Latin exam, but this reading is largely dictated by a syllabus of readings which do not include the part of the poem which I regard as the most emotionally affecting scene in all of Latin literature. This is the scene in which Aeneas describes his first glimpse of the cyclops Polyphemus:
“Hardly had he spoken, when we saw the pastor Polyphemus moving himself in a great mass among his flocks and seeking the well-known beach — a horrible monster, deformed, huge, whose eye had been taken. A broken pine guided his hand and firmed his step, while his woolly sheep kept him company; that was his one pleasure, the one solace in his suffering.” (Aeneid 3.655-661)
To be sure, Polyphemus is described as an object of horror, but lines 660-1 (ea sola voluptas solamenque mali) turn Polyphemus into an object of pity rather than revulsion. [Indeed, I think that this is intentional; throughout the poem, Ulysses is portrayed as an unequivocal villain, and Polyphemus can be read as one of his many victims here.] I made sure to include this scene on my class syllabus (though not required for the course), because I think that it is an excellent example of subtle psychological complexity on Vergil’s part. Yet, as I was discussing the scene with my students, it occurred to me that this complexity was not Vergil’s invention it all – Homer had already built this into the character of Polyphemus! In Odyssey Book IX, Odysseus is attempting to escape from Polyphemus’ cave by hiding on the underside of a ram, which is moving slowly in response to the burden. Polyphemus then addresses the ram:
“Oh gentle ram, why do you come from the cave behind the rest of the flock? You never before tarried behind the other sheep, but striding far before the others you snatched the mild blossoms, you came first to the banks of the rivers, and you ever desired first to return home in the evening. But now you are last by far. Are you worried about my eye, which that rotten bastard Noone and his awful friends took from me after wrecking my mind with wine – I do not say that he has escaped death. Would that you could be of one mind with me, and could tell me where that man has fled from my wrath. Once slain, his brain would drip through my cave here and there to the ground, and it would ease my heart from those troubles which that worthless bastard Noone gave me.” (Odyssey 9.446-460)
As horrifying as his earlier behavior had been, and as menacing as his threats to repaint his walls with Odysseus’ blood may sound, this speech is nevertheless given in the context of a much more deeply humanizing emotion: Polyphemus’ solicitous concern for his ram. He knows these animals, and evinces a tender regard for their well-being even in the midst of his own suffering. Indeed, this affectionate concern for his ram serves as a stark counterpoint to the actions of Odysseus, who throughout the poem shows no apparent serious regard for his companions. At no point in the poem does Odysseus show any outward emotional attachment to his men, and it is notable that even in his own tale of his sufferings, the loss of his men is primarily framed as something which happened to him. Polyphemus is thus portrayed as being, despite his monstrous qualities, a more compassionate figure than Odysseus.
Yet, putting Odyssean knavery aside, I think that the lines in the Aeneid reflect a very close reading of the Odyssey. Polyphemus tells his ram that murdering Odysseus would alleviate the sufferings in his heart (κὰδ δέ κ᾽ ἐμὸν κῆρ λωφήσειε κακῶν), but once the ram has left the cave, he is deprived of his chance at attaining this relief. Consequently, it is literally true that his flocks are now his only comfort. So, while it may appear that the phrase “that was his one pleasure, his one solace in his suffering” (ea sola voluptas solamenque mali) is included simply to heighten the pathos of the scene and underscore the humanity of even a monster like Polyphemus, it turns out that this brilliant psychological conceit is deeply rooted in a few lines of Homer. (https://sententiaeantiquae.com/2017/03/05/humanizing-a-monster-the-saddest-scene-in-latin-literature/)
Note: The original Greek and Latin versions of quoted sections of the Aeneid and the Odyssey that appear in the original post have been omitted.
E. Giants of History: Burma Richard at the Kyaik-Tyo Pagoda:
More adventures of my friend Richard Diran. This time he visits Kyaik-Tyo Pagoda in Myanmar. There are about 2 million Mon in Burma, now renamed Myanmar. Promised by the British who the Mon assisted in their war against the invading Japanese, the Mon were betrayed. The prime minister of new state of Burma U Nu stated that no separate national rights should be contemplated which launched a war between the Mon and the Burmese government continues today.
Thursday, December 30, 2010 Kyaik-Tyo Pagoda
Happy New Year Everyone. We just returned from Kyaik-Tyo Pagoda in the Mon Sate of Burma. Years ago I made the trek over the 33 hills to the base of the rock. At that time there were no foreigners as it was located in an insurgent area. The walk at that time was about 6 hours. One had to have special permission to visit. As you can see it is a huge boulder covered entirely in gold leaf many inches thick. This time my English friend and I had young muscular porters carry us pasha style in canvas slings which were attached to long thick bamboo poles up the mountain. Since it was the cold season there were at least 25 different varieties of moth including Saturnidae, Luna moths and some which were as metalic as silver. Nobody else stayed at our lodge so we had them set up a table for our dinner next to our rooms. At sunset a storm blew in and black clouds tumbled out of the sky above the red of the setting sun. Posted by RICHARD K. DIRAN at 8:16 PM
F. Tales From 2010 — A Conversation with HRM
Once in 2010 when we lived in Chiang Mai Thailand Hayden told me some very interesting and disturbing things while we were eating dinner. He may have been making it all up as he often does but I will pass it on anyway.
He asked me how many daddies does he have. I responded “Why do you ask?” He said, “I used to have two and now I have three”. I asked “How was that?” He said, “You used to be one of my two daddies and now you are my grandfather. My third daddy has no hair”. I asked Haden if he knew the name of this daddy. He said, “Yes, Hazim”. I asked him if he knew where he lived, “Washington DC” Hayden answered. Then he said, “No South America”. Then he said, “He lives in Phattalung” and put his hand over his mouth like he said something he was not supposed to.
I pried a little more by asking if he visited Hazim in Phattalung. Hayden said he had. He also said that Hazim has a 5 year old girl living there also. He said that he sometimes rides on the motorcycle with Hazim when he is in Phattalung. I asked him if he liked Hazim. He said yes and that when he is six he is going to live with Hazim in Phattalung. “But you can come to visit,” he added.
1.Stross, Charles.The Delirium Brief: A Laundry Files Novel (p. 196). Tom Doherty Associates
“It’s insane, but no more insane than Japan shutting down its entire nuclear reactor fleet in the middle of a heat wave because an extreme tsunami washed over one plant, or the USA invading a noninvolved Middle Eastern nation because a gang of crazies from somewhere else knocked down two skyscrapers. In a sufficiently large crisis, sane and measured responses go out the window.”
2. Kristian Urquiza. Speech at the Democratic National Convention regarding her Trump supporting father who died from coronavirus.
“My fathers preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump.”
3. Letter from Ada Lovelace to mathematician Augustus De Morgan, 27 November 1840
“I am often reminded of certain spirits & fairies one reads of, who are at one’s elbow in one shape now, & the next minute in a form most dissimilar; and uncommonly deceptive, troublesome & tantalizing are the mathematical sprites & fairies sometimes; like the types I have found for them in the world of Fiction.”
“A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.” ~Alfred E. Wiggam
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN HEAT OF THE GREAT VALLEY:
One day the afternoon had been quite hot, so we waited until dusk to take the dog on his walk. As we walked through the Enchanted Forest, Naida mentioned a woman who she had met on her walk a few days ago. The woman had been a singer with the Sacramento Opera and also, much to the amusement of her neighbors liked to periodically dress up a statue of a duck that stood next to the path. As chance would have it, as we passed the duck, now festooned with bright yellow flowers, we were hailed by someone in a nearby house. It was the woman. So, while carefully keeping social distance, we visited with her and learned that she had been a lead singer in the Opera; was a close friend of Bing Crosby who had fostered her career, worked as a US Marshall and was assigned to be the Marshall in charge of Squeaky Fromm; and was buddies with Naida’s friends, the Van Vleck’s who owned the massive cattle ranches along the Cosumnes River. Another bit of evidence that there are really only 400 people in the world or that those who dress up stone ducks have all the fun.
Days have gone by. I lost everything that I had written here except for the above paragraph. It is a shame really, What is lost from memory or some other means of preservation, at least as far as I am concerned, might very well not have happened. On the other hand, most of us carry memories and beliefs in our consciousness that never really existed, at least not as we remember them. I guess that makes us some sort of hybrid creature, half memory, and half fantasy. Humans are centaurs of consciousness, half real, half bullshit. That sounds about right.
The temperature outside for the past few days has topped 100 degrees. We wait until dusk before walking the dog. It is still hot and stuffy but the shadows and the lamplight adds a bit of mystery to our stroll through the Enchanted Forests. Some paths take us within a few feet of a house and the shock of a light from a window — at other times we see the houses, windows glowing softly, cluster under the trees across a meadow.
This evening we went for our usual walk. The jasmine were in bloom and their delightful aroma accompanied us as we strolled around. Upon our return to the house, we watched on CNN the burning of Minneapolis a city I always enjoyed visiting. TCM’s Edward G. Robinson festival continued for the third day.
Today I did not get out of bed until noon. Naida recognizing my commitment to lazing in bed that morning brought me my breakfast. After finishing breakfast, a little hanky-panky, and a romp with the dog, I got down to lying there with my smartphone searching the internet for the latest news of interest to me.
The first thing I came across was He Who Is Not My President’s heroic retreat to a bunker beneath the White House while those Americans who were not being felled by a pandemic were being endangered by rioting to protest police brutality. I thought back to the actions taken by the great Presidents of our history during times of crisis. This is not one of them. The current incumbent in the White House seems to be little more than an evil corrosive clown.
This evening, the Corrosive Clown in Chief had peaceful protesters attacked beaten and tear-gassed so that he could stroll across the street for a photo-op of him holding up a book he has never read while standing on property to which he was not invited. He now threatens to call out the military to attack the legitimate protestors and looters alike. And, I and most of the rest of us sit here and watch it all in shock and horror and wonder deep in our consciousness whether the spectator is really not much better than an accomplice. And then, I think again and tell myself am too old to be involved.
We have entered another spate of days where the temperature has exceeded 100 degrees. We sit indoors with the A/C turned on high, watching TV or in Naida’s case working on her memoir while I content myself with frequent naps, contemplating boredom, death, and strategies to keep Boo-Boo the Barking Dog from barking.
One morning, several days after I wrote the above paragraph, as I struggled to open my sleep encrusted eyes, across the room Naida sang and danced and the dog barked. All seemed well with my corner of the world.
B. AN OLD MAN’S MUSINGS:
“Under certain conditions … merely living from one moment to the next can take forever. There’s a kind of immortality in that, albeit a temporary one. It’s bound to end badly,” Hartman, Bruce. The Philosophical Detective (p. 98). Swallow Tail Press.
Life it has been said is a river of memory and imagination. Like most old men, I guess, I spend more time worrying about losing my memory than about the dwindling of my imagination. It is as though by remembering things or writing them down in T&T and now and then rereading them I am somehow prolonging my life and confirming my existence. Silly perhaps, but I think that one of the principal fears we old-timers have of dementia is that that the forgetting of what we have done is a form of death, and with it comes the shock of realization that we are really the just sum of our memories. Once they are gone we are little more than what we are at that moment — someone without a past And so, we become like children again, but, alas, children with no future.
On the other hand, perhaps, as I write here in this journal or reread past entries or recall things from the shreds of my memory, it will reveal some secret, some shimmering jewel of knowledge that… that what? That will keep us alive, make it all meaningful? I am afraid not. Consciousness is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to manipulate the world around us while forcing us to recognize that we are being dragged screaming and shaking to our ultimate destiny. Along the way, about all we can do is laugh about it all. I guess that is what makes clowns so frightening. We are all just Emmett Kellys sweeping up the last bit of light before the tent goes dark.
Chuang Tzu the ancient Chinese sage tells the story of one day falling asleep and dreaming he was a butterfly. When he woke up, he wondered if he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu. I think what the sage was talking about here was probably the insubstantiality of memory and imagination, or perhaps that memory and imagination are one. I do not know. It is all beyond me. I do know that we are here and then we are gone — sic transit Gloria Mundi.
“Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.” Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.
C. CHRISTO DIES:
This week the artist known as Christo died. He was best known for wrapping buildings or other large objects in fabric or draping it across the landscape.
I had got to know him and his wife during the installation of the Running Fence in Marin County in the early 1970s.
I was Chief Counsel at the California Coastal Commission at the time and managed the permit appeals section of the agency. The permit for his proposal to construct the piece had been appealed to the Commission and the analyst in charge of the appeal rushed into my office to tell me about the great and lasting damage to the coastal environment that would occur should the project be built. I was not so convinced, but he being the analyst involved had more specific information so I allowed him to proceed with the direction that he be extremely careful and attentive to everything. Well, the long and short of it is, the fence was built without the permit and taken down before any litigation could be completed.
Several years later, when I was in private practice, I met Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude again. This time to assist them in obtaining the approvals to cover a significant portion on the Southern Central Valley in large umbrellas. The installation was a success except for the wind taking an umbrella into flight and killing an onlooker when it returned to earth.
I liked the Christos. Christo himself a sort of a happy go lucky kind of guy obsessed with the process of his art and Jeanne-Claude much more serious and goal oriented. Several people including the Christos told me bits and pieces of the story of their lives. I do not know nor can I verify the accuracy of what I learned, but a story is the story — Here is what I remember (perhaps I will check Wikipedia later):
Christo born and educated in Bulgaria fled the Iron Curtin and continued art studies in Austria. He, according to my informants, began selling his art of the streets (some indicated in Italy, Trieste perhaps, others in Austria or Hungary). Among the art items he sold were wine bottles and paint cans wrapped in decorative paper or fabric. He was not very successful. He eventually moved to Paris where he lived above a service station or car wash of some sort. One day the owner came by and told the workers he would like to have a portrait of his wife painted and asked if they knew any artists. They mentioned Christo. The owner hired Christo and invited him to live at the house and paint the portrait. While there, Christo hit on Jeanne-Claude’s younger half sister. She rejected him so he hit on Jeanne-Claude. She was engaged to be married at the time but just before the wedding she discovered she was pregnant by Christo. She went through with the marriage anyway but soon after ran away with Christo — sort of like the closing scenes of “The Graduate.” The family disinherited them. They were destitute. That’s when Jeanne-Claude came up with the idea of monetizing Christo’s work — everything, the materials, the legal documents and so on. Usually, artists paint or whatever and then sell their work in a gallery or on the street. She came up with the concept of selling people shares in a Christo proposal before beginning the work and promising the investors a piece of the work such as a bit of the fabric in an attractive frame after it was disassembled. She sold them on the idea that everything the artist does as well as the reactions to his activities were also a part of his art product. This required works that would attract publicity and controversy. And so the art of wrapping buildings was born.
So, was it art or was it a money making scheme? All art is a money making scheme. Artists have to eat like anyone else. Sometimes the artist makes the money and sometime others do. But is it art? Who’s to say. Those who saw the installation liked it or didn’t. Those individuals and museums who received the bits and pieces of the disassembled project probably did. Critics, writers and academics may even make careers out of it. You and I? Who cares? Art makes us happy or sad, perhaps even better. Someone has to do it.
Which reminds me, when I had the resources I collected the art works done by people in prison. The dominant theme of the artists was Jesus bleeding on the cross. Was it art? I paid for it as art and I hoped the artists got some of the price I paid. Are garden gnomes art if I collected them?
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND — March 2011:
I have retreated to the solitude and solace of Paradise by the Sea to try to deal with the fact that I seem unable to deal with the facts. If these decisions were of the significance of say life or death, I would understand my difficulty in making them. But alas, I must admit they are more about whether to have a second cafe latte or leave for the US on April 29th or May 5th or whether I should wear my camouflage shorts today or a solid color pair. Heaven must be where one goes to avoid all responsibility. God upon greeting you probably says, “Congratulations you made it. You don’t have to give a shit anymore. Just wear a white shift and spend all day stoned on glory and a sense of superiority that no you longer have to figure out how to survive as you or for that matter even be nice to anyone.”
(Damn, I finally found a reason to want to go to heaven.)
For the past few weeks the weather has been mostly overcast and a bit dreary here in Thailand. Obviously we are going into some seasonal change. Some people I have spoken with have said that this weather is quite unusual for the season. Others blame it on global warming.
Annual fluctuation in weather is mostly meaningless. Any process of climate change — both natural and man-made — unfolds erratically over time (a lot like the stock market). Long term all peer-reviewed studies have shown that, regardless of the cause, we are locked into some degree of warming; but by the end of this century, the actions taken now whether to try to curb it or to ignore it and deal with a host of other problems will matter enormously. To a greater or lesser degree, the worlds desert belt (Sahara, Middle East and Southwest North America will expand north and south (probably including Northern India and Southeast Asia and Central China) while the east and west coasts of the northern continents will experience more precipitation as rain and snow.
The Chinese have a curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Alas, our children and their children certainly shall.
DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:
Pope John XII (deposed by Conclave) was said to have turned the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano into a brothel and was accused of adultery, fornication, and incest (Source: Patrologia Latina). The monk chronicler Benedict of Soracte noted in his volume XXXVII that he “liked to have a collection of women”. According to Liutprand of Cremona in his Antapodosis, “They testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father’s concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse.” According to The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, John XII was “a Christian Caligula whose crimes were rendered particularly horrific by the office he held”. He was killed by a jealous husband while in the act of committing adultery with the man’s wife. (See also Saeculum obscurum)
(Not only that but he was infallible…At least that’s what he told all the girls. Ah, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, we hardly knew ye.)
A. The old sailor, deep sea driver, pirate, adventurer, etc., on Top:
1. On Elon Musk’s recent SpaceX launch:
.On duty ..++for one hr..it is 1am ==++#@worked with a RETIRED..((40 years))……………….ground-crew ……NASA ..(((we-we working frxing a pimp))).>>>@ HE SAID THIS ..GUY -“” ELON’MUSK- “” DOESN’T PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO SAFETY ..=SO THE LIFTOFF TOMORROW ………AFTERNOON SHOULD B ON TIME..
2. Following the failure to launch:
Yea …this space-lift-off ..was very popular.-(TRY again Saturday)
@there were cars,,((from many states)) everywhere……the
hotel and business
loved it …perhaps for you ,,perhaps not. .
=I am just caught-up-in It
3. Flying to Columbia:
YES …..I WAS TAKING FLYING LESSONS..
++THE INSTRUCTOR –WE WERE FRIENDS ….
@@ SOME DRUG “”DREAMER “”
RENTED A CESNA 180 …FLEW – DOWN TO COLOMBIA..TO BUY DRIGS …CHANGED HIS MIND…..AND LEFT THE PLANE. DOWN THERE….
>>>☆COLOMBIA GOVERNMENT..SAID COME AND GET YOUR PLANE…
++++@ I WAS INVITED TO GO ALONG.++ WENT FROM Barranquilla….to Panama….to Manahua .-.Nicaragua(((Howard Hughes…was there)))……>>>from there To COZUMEL -MEXICO…—+++= THERE TO KEY WEST……………….FAR OUT ………REGARDS RUBBER MAN
4. Flying with an ocelot:
We Had a ocelot..on the airplane…flying back from a trip to Colombia…The wanker GETS out the baby ocelot..
> THE FUCKING THING GETS BEHIND THE INSTRMINTENT *PANEL…UP IN THE WIRING..HE HAS THE -THING BY THE TAIL =IT IS MAKING MORE – NOISE- NOISE …THAN THE ENGINE.–( ( *LOCATION))-@13 thousand ft….—By the coast of Cuba =
> +++THAT WAS FAR OUT
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Information is not the same as meaning although why that is remains a mystery.
(I fear poor old Trenz has found himself some old books on eastern philosophy and a pound of hash. It must be difficult being a six-foot-two naked mole rat and living in Daly City.)
C. Today’s Poem:
Suddenly awareness spread in the corner by the bed. Cascading from the dressers lip it fell silently upon the carpet consigning all to naked rage that had not fled beyond its gaze. Trenz Pruca
D. Giants of History: Burma Richard —So Near And Yet So Far.
I have written here in T&T often about my beloved friend Richard Diran (also known as Burma Richard), perhaps one of the last true adventurers. He is also an accomplished gemologist, explorer, ethnologist, artist, poet, raconteur, and all-around good guy. I urge you all to learn more about him and examine some of his works. You can do so at the following sites (http://www.burma-richard.org/) and (http://www.diranart.com/). The following is Part I of a post of his that can be found in diran art. It describes his exciting and exhausting attempt to visit Lake Nawng Hkeo the sacred lake of the headhunting Wa people.
So Near And Yet So Far— Part I. In September 2000, Andrew Marshall a scotsman and I set out from Kunming China, traveling to the Wa autonomous region near the border with Burma in search of a fabled lake called Nawng Hkeo on the Burmese side of the border. This lake had not been seen by any foreigners since V.C Pitchford, a British surveyor set out in 1937 to find the lake which did not appear on any maps. It was believed by the Wa people, former headhunters, and now the world’s biggest producers of opium, to be their birthplace where they struggled as tadpoles to become the wild Wa.
Andrew contacted me through my publisher in London because he knew, that like him, I was an avid reader of sir George Scott, a forgotten Victorian writer and photographer who traipsed through unexplored areas of Burma compiling the “Gazetteer Of Upper Burma and the Shan states,” a five volume series more than a century before. Scott’s massive ethnographic study became my bible, the rock of arcane knowledge which I later based my book, “The Vanishing Tribes Of Burma”. I held Scott to be a hero and so did Andrew. Andrew planned to do a book retracing Scott’s footsteps and he couldn’t find anybody to go with him, until he talked to me.
Our trip lasted more than three grueling weeks, and became one of the most arduous trips I had ever undertaken. Andrew and I had a tacit agreement that if either one of us were to die out there, it would be impossible for the survivor to carry out the body of the other. Although we were only hours from our goal, and could see it shrouded in the misty distance, we failed. Weeks later Andrew set out again, this time with a missionary named David. Armed with the knowledge of our prior mistakes, Andrew and David reached the fog covered lake which is recounted in Andrew’s book, “The Trouser People”. Published by Viking, and Imprint of Penguin Books, London 2002.
Sometimes failure is as important as success. Perhaps in the end it is not the goal that matters, but only the journey. The following is the story of our attempt.
The flight from Kunming in Yunnan province to Simao is only 30 minutes by air, or 20 hours by road. During the 1920s, Simao or Szw Mao’s basin was a thriving trade center with 70,000 people. Then it was struck with the bubonic plague followed by malaria. By the time the people’s liberation army of china entered in the 1950s, there were only 3,000 desperate people living in rotting houses with a 90% incidence of malaria. From Simao we drove to Jinghong home of the “quiet relish fleshpot” whose name is self explanatory, stayed over night and then drove 7 hours to Lancang. The road was dotted with small brick buildings with old ceramic roof tiles and tea plantations cut concentric rings into the mountains with a thundering brown river below.
The stone cobbled road from Lancang to Ximeng, head of the Wa autonomous region snaked thru lush green mountains which rose straight up through the fog with jagged sawtooth stones protruding out from the sides, tearing at the clouds just like the old Chinese ink brush paintings. After about 4 hours on those hand laid cobble stones we reached Ximeng, a distinctly hostile town where it was difficult to raise a smile from anybody’s lips. Ximeng had hastily built ugly square Chinese cement buildings strewn about the saddlebacks of mountains which raise to 7,800 feet.
Medicine men prowl the streets in groups with heavy strings of beads around their necks, some wearing animal fur hats of orange and white with long tails like the old raccoon hats of my childhood. The faces here are very dark, and the jawbones are very heavy. One medicine man invited us into his room which he shared with a half dozen others of the same ilk, who had barking deer penises tied and knotted at the open window drying. One of these medicinal quacks rubbed my face with a deer penis. They had a tiger paw with claws and orange and black fur still attached to a foreleg of bone.
The fog of Ximeng is very thick and the people on the roads move as vague silhouettes. Burma to the west is very close. Small curtained three wheel vehicles which are modified two stroke motorcycles take passengers up and down the steep slopes upon which Ximeng is built. Night life offers some karaoke places with bored girls and horrible singers. Drunken men smash glasses on the tables and floor. I nearly got into a fight twice. Nobody seems friendly. There is also gambling with three oversized dice painted with various animals held up on an incline and released at the tug of a string. Crowds swell around the tables and bets are placed on the tumbling dice.
The fog grew so thick that you can’t tell the time, except that it is day or night. Then the rains began. I haven’t thought of shaving since I got to China and have quite a stubble growing. I’ve been wearing the same three layers of clothing for days as it is too cold for bathing. Ximeng has many Chinese soldiers and people still wearing chairman Mao caps, long forgotten in the larger cities.
For days now I have had pink eye, connectivities and a large sty growing on my eyelid. Although I use eyedrops, in the mornings my eyes can’t be opened without removing a thick layer of crust. Smoke from the woodfire below our bedroom drifts up through my window as I look out over ancient tiled roofs covered in thick green moss. The toilet stinks and the seat which is disattached , must be put over the bowl when needed. This hotel, the Ximenggxianwashan hotel has a directory of services, but inside all of the pages are blank. (To be continued)
E. Terry Takes Them On:
Terry as many of you know served in the military, including a stint as Professor of Military History at West Point. He was also co-author of a test book on US military history. Distressed by the concerns expresses by some of a possible military coup my the current president wrote a letter to the NY Times expressing his belief that based on their history, the military itself will resist such misuse.
A MILITARY COUP TO KEEP TRUMP IN OFFICE? ITS HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL NONSENSE
Paul Krugman recently lamented in the New York Times : “The United States could follow the path of Hungary into an authoritarian one party state”; “Today’s Republican Party” would cheer on a “Trumpian power grab even if it amounted to a military coup”. And that as a result we are in “dire political straits”.
This may make hearts flutter but it is really historical and political nonsense. The United States is not now, nor has it ever been, with one possible exception at the end of the Revolutionary War, in danger of a military coup. And certainly not to maintain a defeated President in office beyond his elected term, as a number of leading politicians fear.
The key to understanding the successful American experiment starts with a victorious General: George Washington . At the end of the Revolutionary War, the victorious Continental Army, the progenitor of the United States Army, (US Army flags proudly carry the battle ribbons of the Revolutionary War), had no future. It also had not been paid for months, going on years. The highly educated, for its time, officer corps also had not been paid. These intelligent, powerful, young men had won a war and were dead broke, with families in economic distress, if not facing starvation. These men were in charge of the only organized institution in the former thirteen colonies that represented the entire United States. It was a lethal and effective instrument of national power.
The elected government of the United States, the Continental Congress, had no Chief Executive, was without funds because it had no taxing authority and existed only at the sufferance of the thirteen State legislatures. States reluctantly sent it money to pay for the war. The War was won, the States had their own problems and The Congress and the Army were on their own.
The problem for the country was that the Army was the country’s only disciplined , armed force and was armed to the teeth, with thousands of men in artillery, infantry and cavalry regiments. The only other armed forces were part time soldiers organized in state militias that had neither the training nor the experience to stand up to a disciplined and trained professional army such as the Continentals had become. And the Continentals were very unhappy.
They were loyal to one man: their victorious General, George Washington, who had organized and led them through great hardships to victory. He had begged the powers that be for their food, clothing , arms and shelter. He had succored them in defeat and celebrated them in victory. And now they demanded that he take over the country and govern as an undisputed Prince or King. Under similar circumstances Napoleon Bonaparte twenty years later would become Emperor of the French.
But George Washington not only refused, but lost his famous temper and castigated his troops for being disloyal to the American Democracy that they had fought and died for. He told them that his loyalty was to The Congress that had given him his commission as Commander in Chief of the Army and that he would return his Commission to The Congress within a matter of weeks. He told his officers and men to return to their families, their farms and their shops and enjoy the liberty that they won with their comrades blood. And in the most important Initial act that occurred in the history of the United States, he voluntarily resigned his commission as Commander in Chief in person to The Congress. The moment is captured in a large scale painting by John Trumbull and hangs today in the US Capital rotunda.
Why is this story so important: Because it is taught with great reverence and firmness to all of the succeeding generations of West Point cadets, Annapolis midshipmen and Air Force cadets at all of our military academies. It is the foundation of the Country’s trust in our Armed Forces. It binds the generations of military professionals who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. And that means the Constitutional provisions to elect a President every four years and install and honor the President-Elect in his new office. If necessary that will be enforced, if required, by the Armed Forces. And there is plenty of historical precedent for such action.
In 1861 when the coming of Civil War threatened the inauguration of President Elect Abraham Lincoln , General Winfield Scott, a Southerner from Virginia, victor of the Mexican War and Commander in Chief of the United States Army, mobilized regiments of infantry and artillery in Washington to insure the peaceful inauguration of Lincoln. In 1876, out going President Ulysses S. Grant mobilized the troops to insure that the duly elected President, Rutherford B. Hays, who had been elected by the House of Representatives by the slimiest of margins, be sworn in as President. There are numerous other examples in American history of the military honoring the requirements of the Constitution and obeying the law, not a particular man.
The recent reaction of the military professionals, both active duty and retired, to President Donald Trump’s threat to impose martial law by invoking , illegally and unconstitutionally, the Insurrection Act of 1807 to restore “law and order” to suppress peaceful protests, demonstrates the profound abhorrence of the military leadership and ranks to a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Americans to peacefully assemble and protest their government. This abhorrence underscores the obvious: the United States Military serve the constitutionally elected leaders of the country only in their legal roles. Not in actions that may be manifestly contrary to the Constitution.
A President Elect in January 2021, whoever it may be, will command the Military’s loyalty and devotion. If directed, they will install and defend the duly elected President “against all enemies, foreign or domestic”. And that includes an outgoing President Trump.
I hope the Times prints this letter in its editorial page. The military’s historic loyalty to the Constitution needs to be revealed to all Americans, but also to the Military itself to remind them of their over two hundred year loyalty, not to an individual or a political philosophy but to the Constitution. However, I cannot remain sanguine that his argument that the history of the US military’s defense of the Constitution is adequate to withstand the possible coming constitutional storm. History is rife with countries and their military’s commitment and loyalty to a specific organizing principle only to have that commitment and more important their understanding of the organizing principe to be confused as a result of disagreement over its interpretation. Today, the politics in America is only too often a disagreement over the meaning of provisions in the document. For example, Attorney General Barr’s interpretation of the Constitution as granting almost unlimited Constitutional power to the President. A position that appears a majority of the current Supreme Court seem sympathetic to. How can we expect the military’s loyalty to a Constitution that the people of the country disagree as to its meaning?
Also, it seems this administration is relying primarily on para-military forces to rally to their defense. Militarized boarder security forces, AFT, Secret Service and the like appear to have been called upon by this administration to execute its orders and put down protestors. Now we also have lurking in the background, disgruntled local police forces who over the years have been armed with military weapons as well as the well-armed right-wing militias to worry about. We eventually may be looking for military intervention to keep this energized para-military under control. Will they be available, or will the colonels not trained at West Point join with the paramilitary forces already acting of the Crazed Clown’s behalf? Probably not, but neither should its possibility be overlooked.
“Interior decorating: ’t’s a fact known throughout the universes that no matter how carefully the colors are chosen, institutional decor ends up as either vomit green, unmentionable brown, nicotine yellow, or surgical appliance pink. By some little-understood process of sympathetic resonance, corridors painted in those colors always smell slightly of boiled cabbage even if no cabbage is ever cooked in the vicinity.’” Terry Pratchett. (Equal Rites).
“Whenever I hear people talk about white superiority, I have to pause and think back on some of the white people I’ve known. It’s a depressing moment.” Burke, James Lee.Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 183). Simon & Schuster.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE GREAT PANDEMIC OF 2020:
Of course, during confinement, adventures are hard to come by. Unless, they are in our dreams, or in books and media or whatever people can make up to keep themselves sane — or not. Actually, the “not” sounds more adventuresome. One can always, however, find adventure vicariously in someone else’s life or works.
For the last few weeks or so, I found myself rattling around in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. A pleasant enough pastime to avoid spending my time talking to myself. Of course, I talk to Naida and yes, I talk to the dog also — sometimes fairly lengthy conversations. True, it is mostly me doing the talking, but he does look at me with those wet and very understanding eyes, especially when it is getting close to dinner or walk time.
About a week ago, I plunged back into the blogs written by my dear friend Richard Diran or as he is sometimes referred to, Burma Richard. I found things there I had not noticed before. So, for the next week or two, I expect I will become somewhat fixated on him and his works.
The weather in the Great Valley has cooled considerably in the last few days — from the sweltering mid-90s to the brisk sixties. One day, a little after one o’clock, tiring of staring at the cloudy sky, and having little to do but finish a bowl of leftover pesto gnocchi for lunch, I decided to check my Facebook posts. In response to a collage of photographs of Trumpsters haunting the White House bearing the title “When he goes, they go too” that I had shared, Neal the Fish-Man replied:
“I’d like to see Eric locked up with that guy who beat up Jeffrey Epstein in prison the day before he killed himself. Miller should be burned at the stake. The rest of them should just be thrown off cliffs.”
That made my day.
This morning I had a Zoom conference with another doctor at UCSF about the potentially cancerous nodule discovered a few weeks ago in my lung. He confirmed the opinion of my oncologist that, although it may well be cancerous, it is too small and poorly placed to be biopsied. He did add that, in his opinion, it was of the slow-growing kind and would review it again after my next CT scan in three months. Meanwhile, he said he will confer with the surgeons about the viability of an operation to remove it.
Today Naida and I spent some time in the yard examining bugs. Actually one bug in particular. Naida discovered it crawling among the roses and wanted to know if it was a good bug or a bad bug. After some research on the internet, we decided it was a good bug and so she allowed it to live. So goes another exciting day in this age of self-quarantine.
So, the days wander by, I do not remember how many. I am tired of writing about the nothing during this season of our self-quarantine. I decided to go back to reading all day. I have collected a bunch of the silliest books I could find and nestled down to read them. Outside of that, I do not remember what we did, so as far as I am concerned whatever it was it does not exist.
Ok — I will break from my self-imposed silence to mention that last night while preparing for bed a tune was going through my mind but the only words that rattled through my head were “strawberry jam,” “Casey,” and a band playing. I asked Naida, who is a walking encyclopedia of music, what the actual lyrics were. She immediately sang out:
Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde And the band played on. He’d glide ‘cross the floor with the girl he adored And the band played on. But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded; The poor girl would shake with alarm. He’d ne’er leave the girl with the strawberry curls And the band played on.
When she finished, I asked, “Was that before or after the game or did he strike out with the strawberry blond?” (For those under 70, this no doubt means nothing to you. For those over 70 it probably leaves you with an upset stomach.)
Speaking of upset stomachs more or less, the next morning both Naida and I woke up with massive attacks of diarrhea. I reasoned that there could be three causes for this — first embarrassment over our colloquy of the previous evening; second the onset of coronavirus; and third, the most likely, the effects of the fresh elderberry pancakes we ate that evening made from the elderberry flowers we picked on our walk along the American River yesterday. I also seem to have lost my smart-phone. All in all, I am having a thoroughly horrible morning and that’s not even including the dreadful dreams that kept me awake most of the night. Sharks — they were about sharks — everywhere. Why sharks? There are no sharks in the Enchanted Forest. Perhaps elderberry flowers beside their laxative powers were also hallucinogenic. Sharks — they were all over the place — coming through the windows, up the pipes, through the new floor — ugh…
The Elderberry Flowers
Today, a few days after I wrote the previous paragraph, my telephone showed up. I had searched for it using a find-your-phone app. The app indicated the phone was in a house a few doors away from ours. After two days of leaving notes and banging on doors with no response, I decided to explore the possibility that the app had identified the wrong house. So, guessing that the phone may be located in the same area of our house as the neighbor’s, I searched that area again — first in our downstairs with great vigor — to no avail. I went upstairs to the bedroom where the app showed that the phone lay on our bed about where the dog places his nose whenever he crawls under the covers at night. We had torn the bed apart previously but apparently not this tiny spot and sure enough there it was. I decided to forgo wrestling with the many questions and recriminations that passed through my mind and be happy in a melancholy sort of way.
Today, Naida discovered a spider that eats the bug that eats the mites that eat her roses. Somewhere there is a nursery rhyme in this. In was also the morning the garbage trucks and the leaf blowers came around the neighborhood. Boo-boo the Barking Dog doing what he does best — barked.
I drove into the Golden Hills to check up on HRM and the Scooter Gang. Tyson one of the original members is moving to Roseville. Kaleb, the youngest and most troubled is much happier because his older brother who bullied him has moved out. Of course HRM and Jake seem to float about happily in their automobile obsessions. I am pleased.
Today begins the Memorial Day weekend. We have no plans. I know I will take a lot of naps. I will walk the dog several times, watch the news and several movies on TV, read at least two novels, visit HRM once, look up something odd on the internet, and fall asleep on the chair in the garden one sunny afternoon. Life is full of surprises. Like this evening. We watched cartoon fairy tales.
That night in bed, N and I hugged and sang a bit of “Yes Sir! That’s My Baby” to each other and then fell asleep.
Take care. Keep on social distancing. And don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
I was living in Chiang Mai Thailand during the early part of 2010 when I wrote the following:
This and that from re Thai r ment. March 6, 2010
It is hot. Chiang Mai has shared in the heatwave that has struck Southeast Asia for the last week or two. Although the mornings and evenings continue to enjoy wonderful spring-like temperatures, mid-day temperatures approach 100 degrees. Ordinarily, that temperature would drive me indoors, however, the Sala that I sit in writing this remains very pleasant. Other parts of Southeast Asia are hitting temperatures of 110 degrees or more. It all appears to reflect the regional differentiation in climate produced by the general global warming. The decade just past has been the warmest and driest on record, consistent with the temperature reports for the globe as a whole. The climate models I have reviewed predict that this trend of warmer and drier weather for Southeast Asia will continue into the foreseeable future. We have already seen the climate of the Northeast portion of Thailand, the country’s poorest, change from semi-tropical to semi-arid during the past decade or so. Given that the ASEAN nations of Southeast Asia contain a population of 600 million almost twice that of Europe and their lack of modern infrastructure, I expect we will see significant population movements regionally in the next decade.
For the past week, I have been forced to forgo my normal writing schedule (emails, novels, journals) and succumb to pressure to complete a number of children’s stories by next week when Hayden returns from Bangkok. I got started on this because I ran out of children’s books to read to Hayden at bedtime. When my daughter Jessica was a child, at bedtime I would make up stories to tell her. Unfortunately, long before the story was finished, much to her dismay and amusement. I would fall asleep. In order to avoid inflicting that trauma on another child, I decided to write down the stories so that we can read them together. I chose to use Google Images to illustrate the stories with cartoons and photographs to add interest. Once it got out that I was doing this I began to receive demands and deadlines to produce new stories, not from Hayden or other children who couldn’t care less, but from their parents. I am under the gun to finish one of the stories by Thursday of this week for parental review.
One group of stories is a series of detective tales staring Hayden and his stuffed animal friends “Snaky the Snake”, “Buddy the Bear,” “Whitey the White Tiger” and other creatures of his bedroom menagerie. Also appearing in the stories are some of the creatures living in the gardens and empty lots around the house. They include “Feral Kitty (one of the feral cat pack that lives in the lot next door), “Boo-blue bird”, “Francis the Fraidy Frog”, “Clarence the Cross-eyed” the king of the cobra’s living in the lot next door (yes, we have cobras as neighbors in the lot that I have dubbed the “Wild-lands”) and in Bangkok “Ratty the Great, King of the Rats, the 10347th of his Line” and others. The humans in the story include me “Pookie the Old,” Nikki the Pilot” and “Pi Nuan.” Pi Nuan is the name of the maid and is usually the heroine of the adventures while Nikki and Pookie prove to be pompous and mostly useless. In addition to the Prologue, the first three tales are, “The Case of the Missing Breakfast,” “The case of the Monster of the Wild-lands” and the Case of Close Encounters of the Rat Kind”. The latter I have to finish by Thursday or suffer the consequences.
Apparently, I wrote an entire book of fairy tales. I do not remember this. Some of the titles I recognize, but I cannot recall any of the stories. This makes me sad.
1805. A Viennese man, Johann George Lehner, invents the Frankfurter.
(That’s funny, I always thought his name was Nathan and he lived on Coney Island.)
A. Terry on Top:
On May 11, Terry sent the following email:
THE END IS COMING! The poll numbers are terrible. Trump’s campaign manager is going to be sued by Trump because he bought a Ferrari with what he made off the campaign and the rats are leaving the ship. Nobody is waiting for November, they are finding horses to ride in 2024. And the Senators have panicked! The question is what exit do they run for if the ship is half sunk.
“Trump’s Feeling Is, ‘Why Are We Losing Everywhere?’”: With Advisers Feuding and Numbers Plummeting, Trump Eyes Campaign Shake-up. Brad Parscale (and his Ferrari) is in the hot seat. Kushner is pushing for Nick Ayers, and against a Corey Lewandowski return. But whose fault are the disastrous swing state numbers? Vanity Fair
A few hours later he followed it up with:
Yes, it is. But it’s a long way to November and a lot more people are going to die, the economy is not going to recover until there is a vaccine, even if Biden takes over. It’s going to be a long five years. It took FDR 8 years and a world war to get out of the depression. Perhaps a liberal majority in Congress will act faster than FDR’s Congress that was limited by the Southern Democrats. They no longer exist. They are red state republicans right now. Same right-wing philosophy.
But it will take getting rid of the filibuster and adding two justices to the SCOTUS to get the real Second New Deal. And that’s the only thing that will work. Something profound has happened. The country has been set back and brought to its knees. Blame is a waste of energy. Read Schlesinger’s Age of Roosevelt (Three Volumes) to see how we did it before. It was messy but effective. Roosevelt said when he came to office: “ If I don’t succeed I’ll be the last President of the US”. A left-wing dictator is not out of the question. Think AOC. And she ( or someone with similar Populist charisma could pull it off in 4-8 years). So we Democrat’s better do it right, no hold barred.
While I agree with most of what Terry writes here, I still cannot ignore my suspicion that the Trump administration is actively planning to find a way to avoid the election or, if it is held and goes against him, invalidate it. This would not be the first time in history that great empires have crumbled seemingly overnight nor would it be the first time that the light of democracy has been put out by a wealthy psychopath.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
One should not confuse a mistaken belief with general incredulity.
(I cannot figure out what this means. Either old Trenz has gone a bit batty or he has recently been reading the works of some obscure Nineteenth-Century German philosopher.)
C. Today’s Poem:
An Untitled Poem As you watch the sand of your life sift through the funnel of fate, will you turn to your mirror and ask “Is there time still, or am I too late?”
Have I done all the things that I love, or only those things that I hate? Do I know the value of life, or only the hourly rate?
Could the money I traded for time compensate for what I had lost? Oh, if only I’d known then, what I know now: the sunshine not only the frost.
The rich and the poor share one fact when the time of your life unfulfilled, falls through the funnel to black. Not one grain can be sucked through time’s hole, not one grain can ever come back. Burma Richard (Richard Diran)
D. Peter Responds:
In the previous issue of T&T I wrote:
“I discovered the following quote in Wikipedia while looking for something else. It is one of life’s great conundrums that whenever you look for something, you inevitably discover something else more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking. Anyway, I have posted what I found here in the hope that Peter, who studied and received advanced degrees in philosophy from one of the world’s great Universities, and sometimes reads my postings, could unravel the meaning and significance of it as well as the conundrum I mention above.”
To which Peter kindly responded:
“It seems You found the following quote ‘more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking.’ So, two things of concern: (a) re: unraveling the meaning and significance of the quote, and (b) unraveling the meaning and significance of the conundrum. Regarding (a), epistemic refers to knowledge; epistemology concerns how we know what we know. An ontic state “is precisely the way it is,” describes reality without reference to epistemic knowledge. Hume showed that causality can’t be proven–stuck it in his desk drawer and went on with life, but reality remains nonetheless—unless you consider that the Buddhist precept that everything is imaginary, under the veil of Maya, in which case the whole thing is moot and there’s nothing left but to say “Om” and chant the Diamond Sutra under the bodhi tree until you achieve moksha in a blaze of enlightenment; and then face (b) the conundrum: shall I become a bodhisattva and return to the world of epistemic and ontic in service to struggling humanity, or remain in the eternal boredom and humorlessness of nirvana? Of course, bodhisattva uber alles, certainly more attractive because it’s where the action is, if less useful than wallowing in the eternal salubrious idleness of moksha.
“The above stuff is why my philosophy dept. chairperson, the esteemed George Geiger, a former student of John Dewey and distinguished humanist, reluctantly acquiesced in allowing me to get my 30 credits so I could graduate, especially after I submitted my senior thesis entitled ‘The Mythological Basis of Swedenborg’s Cosmology.’”
Thank you, Peter, for clearing things up and to all you Swedenborgians out there Om… to you too.
E. Giants of History: More Burma Richard.
In addition to his ethnographic activities, gem trading, and other adventures, Burma Richard also visited some of the more spectacular sites in Myramar and recording them in his blog (Here). The following tells of his visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The Shwe Dagon Pagoda Objects that have been donated for centuries fill one room. Jewel encrusted scabbards, solid gold Buddha’s, silver Buddha’s set with rubies, and lacquered gold prayer books. In an adjoining room where racks of women’s hair hang, some are four or five feet in length and still glisten. I was told that those too poor to give anything of worldly value, had their hair cut off as a sign of deep faith and humility. I held the hair in my hands and the consistency differed from thick to thin, and the color from brownish to deep black. Some hair was straight, some wavy, but it was very eerie, fingering the hair of the dead.
As I walked along speechless at the enormity of it all, I noticed small cubicles dedicated to the day of the week with worshipers burning incense. If you ask someone from the west when they were born, they will answer you such and such a day in that month in the year of our lord. If you ask a Burman when they were born, they will reply, Monday or Friday or whatever day of the week that they came into the world. The Burmese week has eight days, Wednesday being divided in half, each day represented by a different animal. Wednesday morning is an elephant with tusks and Wednesday evening is an elephant without tusks. My birthday is Thursday which is represented by a rat. Burma Richard (Richard Diran)
(For those who wish to know, I was born on Sunday. In the Burmese Zodiac, my animal is Garuda (mythical bird, Hindu/Buddhist bird deity)
Ruling Planet: Sun Ruling Direction: Northeast Personality/Attributes of the Garuda: Kind, generous Overly gracious Challenge willing taker The tougher the obstacle the more motivated you are Energetic, optimistic, motivative to others)
F. Tales From the Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, Pirate, Treasure Hunter, and Many Other Things:
Every so often I receive communications through various channels from my dear friend, The Old Sailor, etc. Those communications include fascinating collections of oddities including photos, videos, items from the black net, natural remedies for maladies you never thought you had, and many other things. Among them are short bits of writing that I sometimes pass on through T&T. I am not sure how to characterize the following that he recently sent me — tales, poetry, ravings, hallucinogenic dreams, confessions, mini-memoirs, or transmission from another dimension — nevertheless, here they are…
I. Am. A. Burned
Graveyard .. titudvilla
He was from “”Malta…””
…I was in the Carousel bar When Crazy Carl ..showed Me his (( Deportation Papers ))
…While we were there the Marshall-s came to get him For Deportation to -Malta .
== for trying to sell a Machine gun to an F.B.I
. ** the stories never end….around 1970 s .
CARL was also busted on sailboat
.@…on-aboard was 6Tons of
the Judge..that he
was on —
WAS SO MUCH
DOPE COULD NOT
GOT 2 YEARS…
one time we had
stolen a tug boat
from the Miami
was already stolen
night then we stole
Dirty Roy said i can
have the DEAD
FRENCH guys 30 ft
boat ((.in French
,,,…throw the dead
guy over the
side. ..>>>the boat
is mine >>>>must
do soon he is getting
There are lessons to
be learned from a
Fuck up work is
*ERK = BKK.
HERE @.NOW IM
u up in Orlando))
“WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SOURCE OF DANGER for any organism? Predators? Natural disasters? Fellow organisms of the same species, who constitute the most direct competition for everything? Sibling rivals, who compete even in the same family, the same nest? No. The biggest danger is the future. If you’ve survived until now, then your past and present offer no dangers, or at least no new dangers.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
“By the logic of the free-market theorists, shouldn’t religious exemptions from U.S. taxes—state subsidy by other means—breed complacency and laziness among the leaders of every American church?” Andersen, Kurt.Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 292). Random House Publishing Group.
Happy Birthday, George.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE PANDEMIC:
I returned from my one-day trip to UCSF in the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. As soon I entered the house from the garage and placed my hat in the closet, the front door opened and Naida entered with the dog in tow. They obviously were returning from a walk. She was holding in one hand something that looked like weeds —sprays of tiny white flowers radiating from a pale green stalk. “Welcome back,” she exclaimed. “Guess what I have?”
“It looks like hemlock.”
“No,” she laughed. “They are elderberry flowers. I picked them from the bushes by the river. The early California pioneers used to dip them in pancake batter and fry them. It is supposed to be very good.” And so, she flounced off into the kitchen and whipped up two elderberry pancakes. They were very tasty.
Two of three days after I wrote the entry above and not related to it, I felt sick. I checked for coronavirus symptoms — no fever, cough, or difficulty breathing but slight chills, headache, upset stomach, and fairly intense fatigue. I spent most of the day in bed. It could be simply a more severe than usual reaction to my immunotherapy infusion due to the doubling of the dosage at my last appointment. Or, it could be just another episode of my hypochondria. Time will tell.
I got up in the late afternoon still feeling terrible — sat in my recliner, ate a lunch of bread pudding with raisins (I’m not kidding), and instead of returning to bed, I watched “Singing in the Rain” for the umpteenth time. Still great.
I was still feeling bad, so I prepared to go back up to bed. The next movie on TCM, however, was Francis the Talking Mule starring Donald O’Connor. So, I decided to stay up and see it. Wouldn’t you?
After the movie, I was feeling a bit better but I felt as though I had a fever. I asked Naida to find the thermometer from where she left it so that I could take my temperature. She found it. Unfortunately, we had no alcohol with which to clean it so she took the bottle of Limoncello I had just purchased and plunged the thermometer into it. I had not known how pleasant taking one’s temperature could be (Of course, it was under my tongue.) Finding myself happier after sucking on a Limoncello flavored thermometer, I stayed up and watched “Fallen Angel” a noir film from 1945 directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and Alice Faye. Good movie.
The next morning, I woke up feeling much better (the Limoncello?) I decided to visit HRM, But before I go, a few words about hypochondria.
B. A FEW WORDS ABOUT HYPOCHONDRIA:
I often make fun of my relatively slight case of hypochondria, but for many, it may be a rather serious mental health disorder. Being a hypochondriac and experiencing health anxiety can be debilitating. It can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it. “A person with health anxiety often may have gone through a serious illness and fear that their bad experience may be repeated. They may be going through major life stress or have had a serious illness during childhood.” (As a child, I had repeated hospitalizations for pneumonia — virtually every winter from when I was about 7 until I was 14).
To those suffering severe episodes of this disorder, I apologize for making light of it. Nevertheless, according to the literature hypochondriac symptoms may include:
· Regularly checking oneself for any sign of illness.
(I do this, especially at night when I am trying to get to sleep.)
· Fearing that anything from a runny nose to a gurgle in their gut is the sign of a serious illness.
(Me too — a gurgling gut also keeps me awake. Doesn’t it do that to you too?)
· Making frequent visits to their doctor.
(I do. I love going to the doctor. Lots of shiny things to look at and also they, the doctors and nurses, really do try to make you believe they care.)
· Conversely, avoiding the doctor due to fear that the doctor will find they have a dreaded disease or serious illness.
(Not me. As I said, I love doctor visits.)
· Talking excessively about my health.
(Just read my previous T&T posts — I manage to mention the state of my health in just about every post.)
· Spending a lot of time online, researching their symptoms.
(I do this. Where else would I find the statements in italics I have included here?)
· May focus on just one thing: a certain disease (example: cancer) or a certain body part (example: the lungs if they cough). Or, they may fear any disease or might become focused on a trending disease (example: during flu season, they may be convinced that a sniffle means they’re coming down with the flu).
(My focus over the years may change, but I generally concentrate on one imagined disease at a time — I am not an Omni-hypochondriac).
· Are unconvinced that their negative medical tests are correct, then worry that they have something undiagnosed and that no one will be able to find it and cure them.
(All the time. Just today I read in the report of my most recent CT scan:
Redemonstration of tubular low density 10 mm structure in the right lower lobe tracks along the bronchovascular bundle unchanged over multiple prior studies. Previously seen groundglass nodule in the left lower lobe measuring 5 mm now appears to be entirely solid rather than groundglass (series 2, image 196).
If groundglass in your lung doesn’t concern you, nothing will. What frightens me most, however, is that I cannot understand what they are talking about. I mean, solid rather than goundglass should be a good thing, no?)
· Avoiding people or places they fear may cause them to get sick.
(I do. I even cross the street when walking past a hospital.)
On the other hand, the opposite of hypochondria is anosognosia a symptom of severe mental illness experienced by some that impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness. Now that is serious. Don’t be an anosogniac.
C. OFF TO THE GOLDEN HILLS:
Anyway, I drove off into the Golden Hills in the Mitsubishi to visit HRM. He and Jake washed the car and then, as teenage boys do, put their heads under the hood and practiced car-talk for a while.
HRM and I also stopped by the little lake where I used to watch HRM fishing when he was younger. We reminisced about this and other things as we strolled around the ponds. I one point he said, “You know something? I never caught anything.”
We also watched some geese and ducks shepherd their goslings and ducklings on the grass by the water.
Back at HRM’s house, while the teens were occupied with the Mitsubishi, I took the time to examine the new landscaping they were all busily installing this last week or two.
D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Another view of the Enchanted Forest.
After my return to the house in the Enchanted Forest, Naida spent much of the evening entertaining me with stories about the two goats she owned when she and Bill lived on the ranch by the Cosumnes River. Her original intention was to have the goats eat the unwanted invasive vegetation in the horse pastures. In fact, they named them Black and Decker because they were supposed to remove the weeds. Although it did not work out quite as she planned, and, if her stories are to be believed, they were more trouble than helpful, she nevertheless loved the goats until they passed away leaving her sad but with a lot of funny stories. One of them has her chasing the escaped Decker across the golf course fairways that bordered the ranch and urging the surprised golfers to join her in the pursuit.
Naida with Black — Decker hides in the shadows.
A day or so later, Naida and I decided to take the dog and spend the afternoon on the banks of the American River. The river is separated from the Enchanted Forest where we live by a fifty-foot high levee. In the bottomland between the levee and the river, bike and hiking trails snake through cottonwood, black oak, and elderberry woodlands. Arriving at the edge of the river, we put down a yoga mat to sit on, watched some people fishing from boats, and eventually fell asleep.
This week seems longer than most. In addition to my frequent naps, and watching the political punditry and old movies on TV, I spend the afternoons dozing in my chair in the garden, like an old man waiting for sundown. Perhaps tomorrow I will do something odd and unusual, perhaps even a new adventure, but right now I wonder why I would want to. At my age, naps and afternoons dozing in the sun seems to be as good as it gets.
I almost forgot, we still have our evening walks through the Enchanted Forest. They are nice too.
Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog on one of the paths near our home in the Enchanted Forest.
Today the sameness of the day was broken with a FaceTime call with Peter and Barrie. There was a lot of talk about dogs, music, food (marzipan), and toilet paper.
One day. I dove back into the Golden Hills to do a little shopping. I also picked up some medicines and visited HRM. The crew at Dick’s house remains in their landscaping frenzy. SWAC has Dick, Adrian, Bob the Handyman and HRM working every day for the past week or so buying plants and trees (hundreds) at the nursery, hauling them home, planting them, installing the drip irrigation, transporting rocks and masonry and building the paths, terraces, and rock gardens. It all seems a bit mad.
Hayden by one of the several new rock gardens.
I do not recall much of the past few days because I have felt, ill, listless, and irritable in the 90-degree heat and have taken to spending much of my time in bed — what else is new.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
I began writing, “This and that…” 10 years ago when I moved from the US to Thailand. It was not called “This and that from re Thai r ment” then. That happened almost a year later when my good friend Irwin Schatzman suggested I name it that. Irwin also suggested “3Th,” but I no longer remember what that means. About eight years ago, my beloved “cuzin” died, a victim of cancer.
I moved into a house in Chiang Mai I built but no longer owned in order to take care of Hayden who was four at the time.
My original purpose in writing what became T&T was to make it more efficient to keep in touch with my friends and relatives back in the US by writing a single email rather than separate ones to each. I also wanted to begin keeping a journal about my exile. I had tried to keep a diary many times in my past but would soon lose my resolve and abandon it. For a while, I kept the journal separate from my letter but I thought by combining my journal with that letter I would feel obligated to keep on writing it and it also would be more efficient and less work for me.
Here is my first post from Chiang Mai and the associated journal:
My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.
This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito-infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.
PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house and of Hayden and I clowning around. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, circumscribe my life here.
My home in Chiang Mai Thailand. Haden and I horsing around. ——————————————————————-
FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010
Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed-choked and mosquito-infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).
A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.
At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.
The school contains the main building and several small attractive adobe like outbuildings.
The entrance to “Sunshine Kindergarten.”
After seeing him off, I searched for the cafe in order to have a latte. At first, I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.
I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot living in the subdivision. I left and slowly walked home.
A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Some Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement (continued) Part IV.
ENTROPY, THERMODYNAMICS, AND THE UNIVERSE.
There is another puzzle associated with entropy in our universe.
Astronomical observations do not fit well with the Second Law. On cosmological scales, our universe seems to have become more complex with the passage of time, not less complex. The matter in the universe started out in the Big Bang with a very smooth distribution and has become more and more clumpy – more and more complex – with the passage of time. The entropy of the universe seems to have decreased considerably, not increased. Matter is now segregated on a huge range of scales: into rocks, asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies, galactic clusters, galactic superclusters, and so on. Using the same metaphor as in thermodynamics, the distribution of matter in the universe seems to be maturing increasingly ordered. This is puzzling since the Second Law tells us that a thermodynamic system should become increasingly disordered.
The cause of this clumping seems to be well established: it is gravity. A second time-reversibility paradox now rears its head. Einstein’s field equations for gravitational systems are time-reversible. This means that if any solution of Einstein’s field equations is time-reversed, it becomes an equally valid solution. Our own universe, run backward in this manner, becomes a gravitational system that gets less and less clumpy as time passes – so getting less clumpy is just as valid, physically, as getting more clumpy. Our universe, though, does only one of these things: more clumpy.
Paul Davies’s view here is that ‘as with all arrows of time, there is a puzzle about where the asymmetry comes in … The asymmetry must, therefore, be traced to initial conditions’. What he means here is that even with time-reversible laws, you can get different behavior by starting the system in a different way. If you start with an egg and stir it with a fork, then it scrambles. If you start with the scrambled egg and very very carefully give each tiny particle of egg exactly the right push along precisely the opposite trajectory, then it will unscramble. The difference lies entirely in the initial state, not in the laws. Notice that ‘stir with a fork’ is a very general kind of initial condition: lots of different ways to stir will scramble the egg. In contrast, the initial condition for unscrambling an egg is extremely delicate and special.
In a way, this is an attractive option. Our clumping universe is like an unscrambling egg: its increasing complexity is a consequence of very special initial conditions. Most ‘ordinary’ initial conditions would lead to a universe that isn’t clumped – just as any reasonable kind of stirring leads to a scrambled egg. And observations strongly suggest that the universe’s initial conditions at the time of the Big Bang were extremely smooth, whereas any ‘ordinary’ state of a gravitational system presumably should be clumped. So, in agreement with the suggestion just outlined, it seems that the initial conditions of the universe must have been very special – an attractive proposition for those who believe that our universe is highly unusual, and ditto for our place within it.
From the Second Law to God in one easy step. Roger Penrose has even quantified how special this initial state is, by comparing the thermodynamic entropy of the initial state with that of a hypothetical but plausible final state in which the universe has become a system of Black Holes. This final state shows an extreme degree of clumpiness – though not the ultimate degree, which would be a single giant Black Hole.
The result is that the entropy of the initial state is about 10-30 times that of the hypothetical final state, making it extremely special. So special, in fact, that Penrose was led to introduce a new time-asymmetric law that forces the early universe to be exceptionally smooth.
Oh, how our stories mislead us … There is another, much more reasonable, explanation. The key point is simple: gravitation is very different from thermodynamics. In a gas of buzzing molecules, the uniform state – equal density everywhere – is stable. Confine all the gas into one small part of a room, let it go, and within a split second, it’s back to a uniform state. Gravity is exactly the opposite: uniform systems of gravitating bodies are unstable. Differences smaller than any specific level of coarse-graining not only can ‘bubble up’ into macroscopic differences as time passes, but do.
Here lies the big difference between gravity and thermodynamics. The thermodynamic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences dissipate by disappearing below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The gravitic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences amplify by bubbling up from below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The relation of these two scientific domains to coarse-graining is exactly opposite when the same arrow of time is used for both.
We can now give a completely different, and far more reasonable, explanation for the ‘entropy gap’ between the early and late universes, as observed by Penrose and credited by him to astonishingly unlikely initial conditions.
It is actually an artifact of coarse-graining.
Gravitational clumping bubbles up from a level of coarse-graining to which thermodynamic entropy is, by definition, insensitive. Therefore virtually any initial distribution of matter in the universe would lead to clumping. There’s no need for something extraordinarily special.
The physical differences between gravitating systems and thermodynamic ones are straightforward: gravity is a long-range attractive force, whereas elastic collisions are short-range and repulsive. With such different force laws, it is hardly surprising that the behavior should be so different. As an extreme case, imagine systems where ‘gravity’ is so short range that it has no effect unless particles collide, but then they stick together forever. Increasing clumpiness is obvious for such a force law. The real universe is both gravitational and thermodynamic. In some contexts, the thermodynamic model is more appropriate and thermodynamics provides a good model. In other contexts, a gravitational model is more appropriate. There are yet other contexts: molecular chemistry involves different types of forces again. It is a mistake to shoehorn all natural phenomena into the thermodynamic approximation or the gravitic approximation. It is especially dubious to expect both thermodynamic and gravitic approximations to work in the same context when the way they respond to coarse-graining is diametrically opposite.
See? It’s simple. Not magical at all …
Perhaps it’s a good idea to sum up our thinking here.
The ‘laws’ of thermodynamics, especially the celebrated Second Law, are statistically valid models of nature in a particular set of contexts. They are not universally valid truths about the universe, as the clumping of gravity demonstrates. It even seems plausible that a suitable measure of gravitational complexity, like thermodynamic entropy but different, might one day be defined – call it ‘gravtropy’, say. Then we might be able to deduce, mathematically, a ‘second law of gravitics’, stating that the gravtropy of a gravitic system increases with time. For example, gravtropy might perhaps be the fractal dimension (‘degree of intricacy’) of the system.
Even though coarse-graining works in opposite ways for these two types of systems, both ‘second laws’ – thermodynamic and gravitic – would correspond rather well to our own universe. The reason is that both laws are formulated to correspond to what we actually observe in our own universe. Nevertheless, despite this apparent concurrence, the two laws would apply to drastically different physical systems: one to gases, the other to systems of particles moving under gravity.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Liberals have principles, Conservatives ideology.
C. Today’s Poem:
Untitled — Anonymous Australian Aboriginal Poem. The white man dropped from the sun bright sky,
For he envied the blackfellow’s land,
With greed and revenge in his restless eye,
And disease and death in his hand.
And he grasped the forest, and he seized the strand,
And claimed the blue mountains high;
And he scours the bush with a ruthless band,
’Till its denizens trembling fly —
And his pigs and his cattle pollute the land
’Till it stinks, and the blackfellows die.
— Anonymous (source language unnamed), “Untitled,” Bendigo Advertiser (Victoria), September 26, 1855, page 4.
D. Pookie’s Musings:
I discovered the following quote on Wikipedia while looking for something else. It is one of life’s great conundrums that whenever you look for something, you inevitably discover something else more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking. Anyway, I have posted what I found here in the hope that Peter, who studied and received advanced degrees in philosophy from one of the world’s great Universities and sometimes reads my postings, could unravel the meaning and significance of it as well as the conundrum I mention above.
In the philosophy of science, the distinction of knowledge versus reality is termed epistemic versus ontic. A general law is a regularity of outcomes (epistemic), whereas a causal mechanism may regulate the outcomes (ontic). A phenomenon can receive interpretation either ontic or epistemic. For instance, indeterminism may be attributed to limitations of human observation and perception (epistemic), or may be explained as a real existing maybe encoded in the universe (ontic).
After reading the above, I concluded it has one of two meanings. The first has something to do with universal fecundity. After all, of what use is one’s epistemic without an ontic? On the other hand, perhaps it all has to do with the effect of self-quarantine on my mind. Could it all be attributed to its limitations on my observation and perception — a hallucination perhaps? Or, could it be explained as something real, existing, and perhaps encoded in the universe? Is whether anyone cares an epistemic surmise or an ontic reality?
The Mayfly and the Great Trout.
“[A]n old mayfly is telling some youngsters about this god, as they hover just above the surface of a stream:
‘… you were telling us about the Great Trout.’ ‘Ah. Yes. Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you’ve been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly—’ ‘—taking heed of your elders and betters—’
‘— yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout—’ Clop. Clop. ‘Yes?’ said one of the younger mayflies. There was no reply.
‘The Great Trout what?’ said another mayfly, nervously. They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water. ‘The holy sign!’ said a mayfly. ‘I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!’ Pratchett, Terry.The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
“Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.” Will Rogers (He made this comment about 90 years ago. Sometimes nothing changes)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SELF-QUARANTINE:
Today is the fortieth day of our self-quarantine. It began like most of my days do now, quarantine or not, with my usual breakfast followed by sitting in the reclining chair to watch the mornings news. What differed now was the recognition that, more or less, it also would be what the rest of our day would be like. We are beginning to run out of novel ways to entertain ourselves. I suppose by now that has become common for most of us stuck waiting for this pandemic to end. I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness.
Having read the prior paragraph and checked back through previous posts, I noticed that I often begin these issues of T&T with either over-melodramatic tales of woe or irrational joy. Why not? After all, I am 80 years old and just woke up. Who the hell knows what I may feel like on any given morning.
Easter Sunday, same old, same old. Last night, I did not sleep well. My mind tossed about reviewing lengthy examples of what I would write here when I woke up. As expected, they are all gone now. Anyway, it is Easter.
For we Catholics (fallen away, apostate or believer), despite the vast number of feasts and holy days on the liturgical calendar, Christmas (Originally Saturnalia) and Easter ( Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan sex goddess) stand out as the most revered (Renewal and redemption — the renewal of the sun and the start of planting. Yes, redemption for what you did during the winter can be redeemed by a good spring plowing.) Although one would think all children would prefer Christmas and the presents they received, I liked Easter better. For me, Christmas always was filled with disappointment and family strife. Easter, on the other hand, required only dressing up in new clothes you probably did not like, suffering through an over-long mass (loved the music and the smell of incense though) and no-one cared what you did thereafter.
B. Naida, Pookie, and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog Break Quarantine.
Anyway, on Easter Sunday we broke confinement. We were pretty stir-crazed, so, instead of church, we decided to drive into the country — to the Cosumnes River near the ranch where Naida used to live — the history of which was included in her remarkable books, The California Gold Trilogy (email@example.com). It took only about fifteen minutes to get to the turn off onto the unpaved portion of Latrobe Road. Naida told me it was the main road from the train station at Latrobe (a town that no longer exists) to Sacramento. Along the road, several buildings and structures from the middle of the 19th Century that she mentioned in her books still existed.
Naida and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog standing in front of a typical Oak Woodland.
We expected the road to be empty but instead, there were a few motorbikes churning up dust and some cars with couples looking for someplace to park. The dirt road wound through a few enormous cattle ranches. Eventually, we also parked and got out of our car for a walk. The ranches have preserved the landscape as it more or less had been since the Native Americans roamed the area unmolested. The famous Oak Woodlands of California remain much as they did then. The grasslands, on which the woodlands stood, were cropped clean by the vast herds of Elk and other ruminants until they resembled manicured golf courses. They also do today trimmed by the grazing herds of cattle.
Almost everywhere along the road and in the meadows spring wildflowers bloomed — California poppies, dwarf and standard lupin, fiddle necks, and others.
We then drove through another large ranch that contained the remnant of the Gold Rush town of Michigan Bar. The miners in that town during the Gold Rush slaughtered the Native-Americans that lived on Naida and Bill’s old ranch located about a mile downstream on the Cosumnes River. Naida recalls the event in her novel, River of Red Gold. The novel also tells of the miners from Michigan Bar fighting a water war with the local ranches and killing Jared Sheldon a leader of the ranchers who were attempted to dam the river downstream to irrigate crops at Naida’s ranch site.
A View Across the Cosumnes River to the Remnant of the Old Gold Rush Town of Michigan Bar.
The Old Hotel at Michigan Bar.
While driving through the town two odd things happened. The first occurred when we parked to photograph a remaining tiny log cottage in which the miners lived (those that did not live in a tent or sleep in the open). When later I looked at the photo, I saw this:
I do not know what caused this but I love the result so I included it here.
The second strange event began while I was taking the above picture. Not too far from us, an old car was parked with what looked like one person sitting in the front seat enjoying the river view. The car appeared to be an old Hudson or Mercury, you know, all black with tiny windows resembling the Bat-mobile. Suddenly he jumped out of the car and walked off a few steps at stood there as we drove away.
We drove on to the edge of town and stopped to photograph some wildflowers exposing their passionate spring colors along the side of the road. Suddenly, I noticed the black car speeding down the road toward us. It passed, went up the road away, turned around, and stopped by our car. There was a young man and a young woman in the front seat. The young man rolled down his window and said, “Can you take our picture?”
Forgetting all about social distancing, I agreed. Then remembering and being embarrassed to now refuse, I grabbed some lens-wipes l had brought along to clean my glasses hoping they would somehow protect me. I got out of our car, took hold of his camera trying but failing to grasp it with the lens-wipes, and prepared to take their photograph.
The young man was skinny, with a bleached white complexion, scrawny brown beard and a few odd small blue poorly executed tattoos, The woman, who seemed annoyed about something, had a little more heft to her dark hair and brown skin. I guessed her to be a Latina or perhaps of Native American extraction. They insisted on being photographed sitting on the car bumper and showing the car behind them rather than the beautiful landscape all around.
After taking the photographs, I returned to the car convinced that I had broken all the rules of social distancing and that within the next two weeks I would surely die.
Following that bit of misadventure, we drove onto the massive 15,000 acre Van Vleck Ranch. The Van Vleck’s were friends of Naida and Bill. I was in state government when Gordon Van Vleck was Secretary of Resources. He was a pleasant man who tried to do the right thing in a Republican administration. Both Gordon and his older brother Stan had died while piloting his small plane over the ranch. Stan’s wife, Lynn, who inherited the ranch, shortly after his death had married a sheep rancher from Texas whose ranch was even larger than the Van Vleck’s. Naida wanted to visit them in order to see how her friend Lynn was doing because she had not been able to contact her for a while because she had misplaced her phone number. Lynn was at home and we, observing the proper social distancing protocols, had a delightful conversation.
Naida and Lynn observe social distancing across the fence.
The Van Vleck Ranch Center at dusk.
Following our visit, we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.
C. Back in the Enchanted Forest.
The next morning we woke up to discover that our portion of the subdivision was without water. We think that is because the HOC is installing a new water metering system. So, we spent the day just like we always do except today without water.
I think self-confinement is beginning to get to Naida. She has begun shouting at her smart-phone. It is not so much that she did not do it in the past. We all do now and then. I suspect that in the future will recognize a new health hazard — smart-phone fury syndrome. Anyway, it is now happening more often. Like my own rage at sitting here reading Facebook posts and watching endless news programs on why we are confined and our President’s whining about how it is not his fault. We could go for another ride somewhere. It will be good for both of us. Instead, we decided to spend today watching crime shows like “Forensic Files.” They did not improve our mood.
At about 5PM having grown tired of learning about the several gruesome ways of committing murder, noticing the sun was shining brightly and recognizing the meaning of the dog’s whining we decided to once again break containment and take a walk. This time we walked to the levee along the American River. The azaleas bloomed everywhere. There were a lot of people, mostly from nearby Sac State walking, running, bike riding, and generally enjoying this pleasant warm evening. We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.
Azalea Madness in the Enchanted Forest.
D. OFF TO THE SANDHILL CRANE PRESERVE:
The following day we decided death by plague to be a superior method of meeting one’s maker than death by cable-news. So, we set off for the Sandhill Crane Reserve at some restored wetlands in the Delta near Gault. The sandhill cranes had long departed the wetlands and had returned to Canada for the summer. Nevertheless, I was eager to visit the restored wetland having a hand in promoting and developing early wetland restoration techniques over 40 years ago.
We took care this time to pack masks, food, drink, and rubber gloves. The wetland restoration was as well done as any I have seen and the wildlife surprisingly varied. We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.
That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves. And, above all, remember to always keep on truckin…
DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:
A Few More 5000 Year Old Zany Aphorisms From Sumer.
The fox, having urinated into the sea, said: “The depths of the sea are my urine!”
For a donkey there is no stench. For a donkey there is no washing with soap.
For his pleasure he got married. On his thinking it over he got divorced
To serve beer with unwashed hands, to spit without trampling upon it, to sneeze without covering it with dust, to kiss with the tongue at midday without providing shade, are abominations to Utu.
He came, he stayed a while; he finished, he did not stay put.
All day long, oh penis, you ejaculate as if you have blood inside you, and then you hang like a damp reed.
To appreciate the earth is for the gods; I am merely covered in dust.
Bitterness afflicted the anus; but it entered by way of the mouth.
The dog gnawing on a bone says to his anus: “This is going to hurt you!
Not only were the ancient Sumerians the creators of Civilization but they also seem to be the originators of slapstick comedy. That sounds reasonable. A civilization without humor cannot be considered civilized. Or, as Groucho said, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” Or, even more appropriately, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you too.
A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement.
INFORMATION, A NUMBER — Biology and Physics. Most people, scientists in particular, are happiest with a concept when they can put a number to it. Anything else, they feel, is too vague to be useful. ‘Information’ is a number, so that comfortable feeling of precision slips in without anyone noticing that it might be spurious.
Two sciences that have gone a long way down this slippery path are biology and physics. The discovery of the ‘linear’ molecular structure of DNA has given evolutionary biology a seductive metaphor for the complexity of organisms and how they evolve, namely: the genome of an organism represents the information that is required to construct it. The origin of this metaphor is Francis Crick and James Watson’s epic discovery that an organism’s DNA consists of ‘code words’ in the four molecular molecular ‘letters’ A C T G, which, you’ll recall, are the initials of the four possible ‘bases’. This description led to the inevitable metaphor that the genome contains information about the corresponding organism. Indeed, the genome is widely described as ‘containing the information needed to produce’ an organism.
The easy target here is the word ‘the’. There are innumerable reasons why a developing organism’s DNA does not determine the organism. These non-genomic influences on development are collectively known as ‘epigenetics’, and they range from subtle chemical tagging of DNA to the investment of parental care. The hard target is ‘information’. Certainly, the genome includes information in some sense: currently, an enormous international effort is being devoted to listing that information for the human genome, and also for other organisms such as rice, yeast, and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. But notice how easily we slip into cavalier attitudes, for here the word ‘information’ refers to the human mind as receiver, not to the developing organism. organism. The Human Genome Project informs us, not organisms.
This flawed metaphor leads to the equally flawed conclusion that the genome explains the complexity of an organism in terms of the amount of information in its DNA code.
Humans are complicated because they have a long genome that carries a lot of information; nematodes are less complicated because their genome is shorter. However, this seductive idea can’t be true. For example, the Shannon information content of the human genome is smaller by several orders of magnitude than the quantity of information needed to describe the wiring of the neurons in the human brain. How can we be more complex than the information that describes us? And some amoebas have much longer genomes than ours, which takes us down several pegs as well as casting even more doubt on DNA as information.
Underlying the widespread belief that DNA complexity explains organism complexity (even though it clearly doesn’t) are two assumptions, two scientific stories that we tell ourselves. The first story is DNA as Blueprint, in which the genome is represented not just as an important source of control and guidance over biological development, but as the information needed to determine an organism. The second is DNA as Message, the ‘Book of Life’ metaphor.
Both stories oversimplify a beautifully complex interactive system. DNA as Blueprint says that the genome is a molecular ‘map’ of an organism. DNA as Message says that an organism can pass that map to the next generation by ‘sending’ the appropriate information.
Both of these are wrong, although they’re quite good science fiction — or, at least, interestingly bad science fiction with good special effects.
If there is a ‘receiver’ for the DNA ‘message’ it is not the next generation of the organism, which does not even exist at the time the ‘message’ is being ‘sent,’ but the ribosome, which is the molecular machine that turns DNA sequences (in a protein-coding gene) into protein. The ribosome is an essential part of the coding system; it functions as an ‘adapter,’ changing the sequence information along the DNA into an amino acid sequence in proteins. Every cell contains many ribosomes: we say ‘the’ because they are all identical. The metaphor of DNA as information has become almost universal, yet virtually nobody has suggested that the ribosome must be a vast repository of information. The structure of the ribosome is now known in high detail, and there is no sign of obvious ‘information-bearing’ structure like that in DNA. The ribosome seems to be a fixed ‘machine’. So where has the information gone? Nowhere. That’s the wrong question.
The root of these misunderstandings lies in a lack of attention to context. Science is very strong on content, but it has a habit of ignoring ‘external’ constraints on the systems being studied. Context is an important but neglected feature of information. It is so easy to focus on the combinatorial clarity of the message and to ignore the messy, complicated processes carried out by the receiver when it decodes the message. Context is crucial to the interpretation of messages: to their meaning. In his book The User Illusion Tor Nørretranders introduced the term exformation to capture the role of the context, and Douglas Hofstadter made the same general point in Gödel, Escher, Bach. Observe how, in the next chapter, the otherwise incomprehensible message ‘THEOSTRY’ becomes obvious when context is taken into account.
Instead of thinking about a DNA ‘blueprint’ encoding an organism, it’s easier to think of a CD encoding music. Biological development is like a CD that contains instructions for building a new CD-player. You can’t ‘read’ those instructions without already having one. If meaning does not depend upon context, then the code on the CD should have an invariant meaning, one that is independent of the player. Does it, though?
Compare two extremes: a ‘standard’ player that maps the digital code on the CD to music in the manner intended by the design engineers, and a jukebox. With a normal jukebox, the only message that you send is some money and a button-push; yet in the context of the jukebox these are interpreted as a specific several minutes’ worth of music. In principle, any numerical code can ‘mean’ any piece of music you wish; it just depends on how the jukebox is set up, that is, on the exformation associated with the jukebox’s design. Now consider a jukebox that reacts to a CD not by playing the tune that’s encoded on it, as a series of bits, but by interpreting that code as a number, and then playing some other CD to which that number has been assigned. For instance, suppose that a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony starts, in digital form, with 11001. That’s the number 25 in binary. So the jukebox reads the CD as ‘25,’ and looks for CD number 25, which we’ll assume is a recording of Charlie Parker playing jazz.
On the other hand, elsewhere in the jukebox is CD number 973, which actually is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Then a CD of Beethoven’s Fifth can be ‘read’ in two totally different ways: as a ‘pointer’ to Charlie Parker, or as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony itself (triggered by whichever CDs start with 973 in binary). Two contexts, two interpretations, two meanings, two results. Whether something is a message depends upon context, too: sender and receiver must agree upon a protocol for turning meanings into symbols and back again. Without this protocol a semaphore is just a few bits of wood that flap about.
Tree branches are bits of wood that flap about, too, but no one ever tries to decode the message being transmitted by a tree. Tree rings — the growth rings that appear when you saw through the trunk, one ring per year — are a different matter. We have learned to ‘decode’ their ‘message,’ about climate in the year 1066 and the like. A thick ring indicates a good year with lots of growth on the tree, probably warm and wet; a thin ring indicates a poor year, probably cold and dry. But the sequence of tree rings only became a message, only conveyed information, when we figured out the rules that link climate to tree growth. The tree didn’t send its message to us.
In biological development the protocol that gives meaning to the DNA message is the laws of physics and chemistry. That is where the exformation resides. However, it is unlikely that exformation can be quantified.
An organism’s complexity is not determined by the number of bases in its DNA sequence, but by the complexity of the actions initiated by those bases within the context of biological development. That is, by the meaning of the DNA ‘message’ when it is received by a finely tuned, up-and-running biochemical machine. This is where we gain an edge over those amoebas. Starting with an embryo that develops little flaps, and making a baby with those exquisite little hands, involves a series of processes that produce skeleton, muscles, skin, and so on. Each stage depends on the current state of the others, and all of them depend on contextual physical, biological, chemical and cultural processes. Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I have come to accept that here on our earth there are no heroes only different degrees of villainy.
C. Today’s Poem:
The poem below is an excerpt from a much longer one written by Renee Verona that I discovered while wandering through the internet. The poem appears to be based, in part, on Dante’s Paradisio. Verona, a self-published poet, has an internet site (https://rarityofparadise.com/). In it, he periodically publishes his poems and requests donations to enable him to continue his work.
It is not unusual for poets to try to find novel means of publishing their work. Whitman used to wander through the bars of NY (as did Blake in London) selling handwritten copies of his poems, and Shelly often stood on busy street corners and tossed bundles of his poems into the carriages of the noble and wealthy as they drove by.
What attracted me to Verona was, admittedly, less his poems than his audacity and some of the artwork that accompanies the poetry.
From “Obsidian and Alabaster.”
Through the reflection of my obsidian blade, I saw a jester drowning in the sorrows belonging to his hopeless witticism
Scarlet to cover the tulips that laid foolish, herald a cut-throat… forsaken in this storm praying for thunderbolts to alleviate me,
Sharp lighting to scream, and there, bury me within an unholy divinity as devilish is my creed,
Yet this clown that smirks comforts thee
Thine eyes have witnessed much suffering, men art, but demons chasing eternity, misguided by prophecy… and he dares to laugh
The reckless Montague a saint unto I… to empathize…to seize, realize a moment of freedom when all is cursed by hypocrisy
(…To despise… To visualize )
God favors the trickster, giving unto him a horrible truth that he bears with a grin ( a glimpse at how the world primarily sins)
Watch as they abandon themselves all for epicurean philosophies,
Drink a bit more the red wine, corrupt your soul a little more to hold a few pieces of sol …More the greed…this obsidian grow thirsty
Unsated…hungry… the blood moon calls, onward towards the twilight where hellhounds roam free, festering, and feasting
I will be an angel unto thee, unto you that bards hysterically… a sad epigram life has become ( everlasting is the hologram)
Forever is nevermore, soon we will have our reckoning…upon the sun we horde, shadows epithetical to the moon
The forgotten, the vigilant defacing the vox populi, simple mercenaries that seek only to bloom, the evening to forbore…
D. Giants of History: The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, World Traveler, ex-Pirate, and So On.
It is always a pleasure to receive communication from my old and dear friend. He used to live in Thailand but I think he may have returned to his beloved Virgin Islands. Here are his two most recent messages.
1. Am now at Walmart…”titusville” “old people struggling..to get inside…going to buy wine.”
2. Jerry _____ ..he was staying with pat. About the time when marcelle got pregnant…..dot and I were living in the slave quarters…..
Jerry would leave leave everyday “cleaned up” ..by 9 or so to work ..at the end of the day ..he would be back and we would meet upstairs .for drinks with Candeed. …he…would always COMPLAIN he could not get paid ..he would half to chase people to get paid….every day the same working hard and having trouble getting paid …this went on for months ..
…Guess what his job was
HE was selling Coke at FAT CITY
…..Dot and I moving to FRENCHTOWN>
Life in the Caribbean must very exciting.
E. Useful Simile of the Week:
“…like some mad weaving machine or a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
“The most important role of the tribal Make-a-Human kit is to provide the tribe with its own collective identity, making it possible for it to act as a unit. Tradition is good for such purposes; sense is optional. All religions are strong on tradition, but many are weak on sense, at least if you take their stories literally. Nevertheless, religion is absolutely central to most cultures’ Make-a-Human kit.”
“The growth of human civilization is a story of the assembly of ever-larger units, knitted together by some version of that Make-a-Human kit. At first, children were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the family group. Then they were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the tribe. (Believing apparently ridiculous things was a very effective test: the naïve outsider would all too readily betray a lack of belief, or would simply have no idea what the appropriate belief was. Is it permitted to pluck a chicken before dark on Wednesday? The tribe knew, the outsider did not, and since any reasonable person would guess ‘yes’, the tribal priesthood could go a long way by making the accepted answer ‘no’.) After that, the same kind of thing happened for the local baron’s serfs, for the village, the town, the city and the nation. We spread the net of True Human Beings.” Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.