“Nothing convinces a fool to believe in a scam better than turning him into a scammer too.”
Liu, Ken. The Wall of Storms (The Dandelion Dynasty Book 2). Saga Press.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE GOLDEN HILLS:
Today, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM after school and drive him home. It was the first day in about a week neither overcast nor raining. Instead, big giant battleships of cottony white clouds, floating on a cerulean sea, filled the sky. It was warm — not the warmth of late spring, light with a promise of warmer weather to come, but more like the autumn warmth, sharp-edged to resist the march of winter cold.
As he entered the car he told me he had ordered a new hat and was waiting for it to arrive.
“I thought you bought a hat when I drove to Tilly’s last week,” I said.
“I did,” he responded, “but I wanted another one also.”
When we arrived at the house we saw a package leaning against the front door. Hayden eagerly tore open the box and pulled out his new hat. Here it is:
Hayden Haystack the Hombre in the Hat.
Being a hat guy myself, I like it.
As I ponder over H’s emerging fondness for Hats, I recall that several years ago when he was five or six years old, I had promised him that we would write a short comic book together entitled “Hayden Without a Hat.” Each evening thereafter, he asked me if I was ready to write the story with him and each night I gave some excuse for not doing so. Finally, being tired of my evasions and convinced I would never get around to it, he decided to write the story in his notebook by himself. One evening, instead of asking me again he handed it to me. The notebook contained the following (everything is as he wrote it including the punctuation, except for the quotation marks which I added). I promised him I would “publish” it. So here it is:
“Story for little boys, girls!
Hayden Without a Hat
Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Hayden Without a Hat.
“Oh, no!” says Grandpa Pooky. “Oh no!!!” Grandpa Pooky says “You need a hat.”
“A hat…” says Hayden, “a hat.” “Let me think. Hmmm, ok” Hayden says. “I do need a hat!!!! “Hey, we can go to the hat store.”
So Hayden picked out his favorite hat. It was just like Grandpa Pooky’s hat.
Remember kids always have a hat!!! And mom’s and dad’s.”
Later, after reviewing my mail and happily downing a dozen mint flavored Oreo cookies dunked in milk, I went to HRM’s room to tell Jake and him that I was leaving to return to the Enchanted Forest and to leave behind some crumbs of “Pookie’s Wisdom for Adolescents.”
B. POOKIE’S LIFE IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
(I have temporarily changed the heading here from the usual “Pookie’s Adventures…” to, “Pookie’s Life…” because I understand that many people believe adventure and life to be very different things. I do not, unfortunately. Still, my life here in TEF would be considered an adventure only if the novelty of being happy and content in one’s life could be termed an adventure. I guess, given my history, being happy and content may very well be an adventure — it is certainly novel.)
At the end of the month, we are planning to leave for Mendocino to visit Maryann and George and to see some of the films being shown at the film festival that weekend. I look at it as a vacation, although what it is that we are vacationing from I can’t imagine. I guess a change of scene would be a more appropriate description.
While driving into the Golden Hills a few days ago, I thought of something that seemed to be very insightful and that I should include here in T&T so that I don’t forget it. Of course, I forgot whatever it was before I got back to my computer. It went wherever those brilliant ideas go that one gets while driving, on drugs, or during the muzzy confusion of waking up in the morning.
This morning, while watching on MSNBC the latest outrage by he who is not my president, I disgustedly turned to Facebook on my computer. To my surprise I discovered the following photograph posted there:
That is me on the left, Peter Cirrincione in the middle and Freddy Greco on the right. The photograph was posted by Peter’s wife Loretta also a dear friend of mine. We were at Playland by the Beach in Rye New York sometime during the 1950s when this picture was taken. Although I was a bit skinny back then, I agree with the comments to the post that I read — we indeed were handsome devils. Alas, no longer.
My cousin Lou to whom, among others, I sent a copy of the photograph wrote back that he had a similar photograph taken at the same place with two of his friends also from Tuckahoe. I recall that my father and uncles also had taken a similar picture in the same setting years before I did.
And, after seeing the photograph, Peter Grenell opined:
“Those were the days! Pretty spiffy. Could do a retake at the Geezers Bench with canes, walker, Prosecco, and family size bottles of pharmaceuticals — and hats. Or not….”
Here is the photograph Peter mentioned of him and me on the Geezers’ Bench, more than sixty years after the photograph at Sloppy Joe’s Bar had been taken.
One day, I think it was Memorial Day, I spent several hours reading a Ph.D. dissertation by Eric Jones about the Iroquois Population History and Settlement Ecology, AD 1500-1700 (https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/files/final_submissions/1734). I came across this while I was researching the background to a poem that was reputed to be the opening lines to the Iroquois Constitution, The Great Law of Peace. While I failed to confirm the provenance of the poem, I found the treatise fascinating. It attempted to determine if evidence existed that proved there had been significant decline in the nations population post contact with European settlers (there had been, but it took over a decade before manifesting — just prior to contact (1634) the entire population of the Iroquois nation totaled 20,000 people and by 1660 it had decreased to about 7000). The author also tried to discover what, if any, were the factors that prompted the locations of the over 50 settlements that made up the Confederacy (distance to trails and well-drained farmland).
While searching the internet for information about the number of European settlers who populated NY in the 1660s, I came across a very lengthy letter by an Episcopal minister John Miller to the Bishop of London that after railing on at length about the general immorality of the colonists detailed his suggestions for the conquest of Canada and the conversion of the Indians. When it comes to conquest, murder, and destruction of indigenous societies the dolorous activities in the name of religion by men of the cloth never changes.
The great, most proper, & as I conceive effectual means to remedy and prevent all the disorders I have already mentioned & promote the settlement & improvement of Religion & Unity both among the English subjects that are already Christians & the Indians Supposed to be made so is That his Majesty will graciously please to send over a Bishop to the Province of New York who if duly qualified empowered & settled may with the Assistance of a small force for the Subduing of Canada by God’s grace & blessing be Author of great happiness not only to New York in particular but to all the English plantations [colonies] on that part of the continent of American in general. . . .
When I speak of converting the Indians ⎯ by Indians I mean principally those five Nations which lie between Albany & Canada & are called 1) Mohawks or Maquaes, 2) Oneidas, 3) Chiugas, 4) Onundagas & 5) Senecas, of whom though most of the Mohawks are converted to Christianity by Dr. Dellius & Some of the Oneidas by the Jesuit Millet, yet the first not being yet established in any good order at all & the last being converted to Popery, I look upon the work as yet wholly to be done & if what has been already done is not a disadvantage to it, yet that little advantage is gained thereby except a demonstration of the inclination of the Indians to embrace the Christian religion. . . .
1. The first thing then to be done in order to the conquest of Canada is to pitch upon a General for the conducting & carrying it on. The General then is to be but one to come & all forces both by Sea & land that are sent or appointed for this purpose: for long Experience has taught us that equal & divided commands have ruined many noble Undertakings & great Armies. . . .
2. The Second thing to be provided for is forces & warlike Provisions Sufficient for Such a design & those to be either sent for England or prepared in America. . . . (http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/becomingamer/growth/text1/newyorkmiller.pdf)
Miller then continues his letter with extensive and detailed plans for the invasion of Canada and its settlement by English colonists.
And this is how I spent Memorial Day instead of exercising, feasting, listening to music and enjoying whatever other amusements would make my declining years more pleasant.
Ugh! I just found out that, unlike my chemotherapy appointments which were scheduled automatically, my immunotherapy appointments are not and therefore I will not be going to SF this week. I still plan to travel to Mendocino this weekend, however.
It was a good morning today lazing away in bed. Naida brought me a cup of coffee that we sipped together while we told each other stories, played a little geriatric hanky-panky and discussed our plans for the weekend. It was all very pleasant until I tipped over the coffee cup and flooded the bed causing a great deal of mutual hysteria to erupt.
I know that I often complain here about my more sedentary life now that I am well into my declining years, but with the state of my rapidly deteriorating memory, I wonder if it is more likely that I still am quite active but when I sit here at my computer intending to write about it in T&T, I forget whatever it was that I did.
C. OFF ONCE MORE TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
On Thursday we set off for Peter and Barrie’s house. The usually boring drive seemed to pass more quickly and pleasantly than usual. We listened to the music of Leon Redbone whose death was reported that day. Redbone never recorded a song that one could not sing along with or dance to. So we passed our time on the drive listening to that deep voice of his singing funky jazzy renditions of such tunes as Shine on Harvest Moon, Ain’t Misbehaving, Please Don’t Talk about Me When I’m Gone, and Moonlight Bay and singing along with old Leon.
After we arrived, Peter and I went to Bernie’s in Noe Valley, ordered coffee and sat on the Geezer Bench (See Photo above). We were joined by Don Neuwirth and spent some time catching up on our lives and various maladies as well as reminiscing about people and events during our time when we all worked together protecting California’s coast. A friend of Peter’s walked by, he was a drummer in some of the band’s that Peter also played in. He told odd and interesting stories about his life that began in the Riverdale section of New York City, and attending high school with Ruth Galanter, continued with traveling around the US holding odd jobs and engaging in radical politics. He ended up becoming a drummer in a few geezer bands and rabble-rouser here in the City By The Bay. An admirable life.
C. MENDOCINO DREAMING, MOVIES, FLOWERS, AND MARYJANE:
Following my morning immunotherapy treatment at UCSF, Naida, Boo-boo the dog, and I left for Mendocino. Although it was a foggy morning in SF, the weather during the drive remained sunny and warmth until once again we reached the coast. We stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant in overcrowded Healdsburg. Healdsburg used to be a pretty, little, laid-back town. Now it is a booming gourmet ghetto with too much traffic and too little parking to go along with the rapidly escalating prices for a slightly better than average meal.
That evening at Maryann and George’s house overlooking the ocean in Mendocino, we enjoyed a nice meal featuring mama Petrillo’s secret recipe ditalini. Following dinner, Mary and George left to see one of the films in the movies competing in the film festival, a film entitled A Tuba to Cuba about members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the son of that group’s founder who was also the director of the film. His father had played the tuba and loved Cuban music, hence the name of the movie. Meanwhile back at the house, Naida and I watched four episodes of the HBO’s series, My Brilliant Friend based on Elena Ferrante series of novels about two women growing up in Naples. It was fantastic.
The next morning, after breakfast, my sister, Naida, and I went for a stroll through the town. It was warm and sunny. The marine fog had not yet arrived on shore. Flowers bloomed everywhere. I decided flowers to be the theme of the trip.
We stopped at Maryjane’s shop, one of my favorites. There, we shopped for a long time. After buying some very attractive clothing for Naida and listening to a few of Maryjane’s stories and jokes, we left.
Naida and Maryjane in the dress shop,
By then the marine fog layer had arrived on shore turning the air chilly and misty so, we hurried on home.
That evening, we saw two of the films featured at the festival. The first, directed by the woman who was staying in Maryann and George’s tower house during the festival, was called “Guardians”. It depicted people in British Columbia Canada who count salmon for a living and who are now being phased out by the conservative government. It was marvelously photographed and directed. The second movie, called “Amazing Grace,” a filming of the recording session back in the 1970s that produced Aretha Franklin’s great Gospel LP, the largest selling LP featuring Gospel music ever. Because of technical difficulties, the film was never released and had been thought lost. Recently rediscovered and along with advances in sound technology allowing it to be remastered, it was able to be released. Wall to wall Gospel music, it presented Aretha at her most magnificent.
The next morning we saw Ron Howard’s Pavarotti. It may be one of the most magnificent movies I have ever seen. How he was able to get the shots, assemble the story, use the music as part of the story while also being entertaining I could not fathom since Howard admitted he knows nothing about opera. At one point, shortly after Pavarotti learns he is dying of pancreatic cancer, Howard has a lone violin playing in the background playing the Neapolitan song O Sole Mio when the orchestra swells into the music of Pagliacci and Pavarotti appears in clown costume and makeup to sing Canio’s great bitter and tragic aria Vesti la Giubba. Pookie says, “Whatever else you do in the next few years no matter whether you love or hate opera, see this movie.”
Following the movie, we went to the newly opened wood-fired oven outdoor Pizza place linked to The Beaujolais restaurant in Mendocino. We were joined my Maryjane and her husband Johan. Maryjane, in that low expressionless voice she effects, told us a number of jokes. One of them was, “Why did the shark not eat the clown? ——— “Because he thought it would taste funny.” I am thinking about creating a new section in T&T, “Maryjane’s Joke of the Week.” OK, here is another one, “Three Irishmen walked out of a bar. ——— That’s it. That’s the Joke.” After downing some of the best pizza I have eaten in years, we returned to Maryann’s house and I took a nap.
Naida, Johan, Maryjane, George, Maryann and the Pizza.
The following morning we arose early, packed and left for home. We stopped for breakfast in Ft Bragg then set off to cross the coastal range on the way to Sacramento. We had gone a little way up into the mountains when Naida noticed she had forgotten her phone. We retraced our drive, picked up her phone and set off again. By then it was noon. We stopped at Lakeport, walked the dog and enjoyed the view of Clear Lake for a while.
Old Baldy at Lakeside
We arrived home at about 5PM and went to bed almost immediately.
Travel is exhausting for oldies like us.
12.3-11.7 million years ago
Ramapithecus (Rama’s ape) is no more. Another Hindu god has taken over the franchise; Ramapithecus is now subsumed under Sivapithecus, an earlier discovery, and is no longer a valid taxon name.
The story is interesting from a history-of-science point of view. Ramapithecus used to be presented as the very first ape on the human line, postdating the split between humans and great apes, maybe even a biped. This was given in textbooks not so long ago as established fact. Then geneticists (Sarich and Wilson) came along and declared that the genetic divergence between chimps and humans is so low that the split had to be way later than Ramapithecus. There was a lot of fuss over this. Paleoanthropologists didn’t like geneticists telling them their job. Eventually, though, the paleoanthropologists found some new fossils. These showed in particular that the line of Ramapithecus‘s jaw was not arch-shaped, like a human’s, but more U-shaped, like a non-human ape’s. So after thinking it over a while, paleoanthropologists decided that Ramapithecus (now part of Sivapithecus) looked more like an orangutan re(lative: likely ancestor of a great radiation of orangutan kin that left just one genus, Pongo, in the present.
So now you know.
One wonders why someone like me would collect what is obviously useless information. I used to collect things, lots of things and store them in my home as well as in eight large shipping containers. Is this what I do with bits of arcane information, pack them away in T&T? Why? They still exist on the internet and are easily retrievable. Compulsive collecting is a form of mental illness, like the fear of heights, claustrophobia or hypochondria all of which I suffer from. If truth be known (and it rarely is) I am afflicted with just about every phobia to which they have affixed a Latin or Greek name and a few that the namers have not gotten around to yet. Maybe, I just compulsively collect phobias.
Anyway, about ten years ago, I abandoned the house and everything in it as well as the eight shipping containers and fled to Thailand. Will I, a few years from now, erase everything from my computer and flee again to somewhere odd but sensual? Hmm, probably not.
Anyway, what interests me most in this off the wall factoid is that Siva (also written Shiva) replaced Rama among the early apes — that and the amount of smug pleasure experts in one field of study appear to get in pissing on the favorite theories of their colleagues in another.
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
Another snag from the blog Logarithmic History (https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/bikers-and-hippies-and-apes/). The post entitled, Bikers and Hippies and Apes, begins with a Tajik proverb:
Maimoun angushti shayton ast.
“A monkey is the Devil’s fingers.”
It continues on to discuss the fascinating differences and surprising similarities between our closest cousins in the animal community, chimpanzees and bonobos.
[I]t may be informative to consider our closest relatives, chimpanzees, and bonobos. The two species are closely related, having diverged only about 2 million years ago. They remain physically quite similar, and people didn’t even figure out that bonobos are a separate species until the twentieth century. There are some broad similarities in their social organization. Both species have fission-fusion societies, in which subgroups form and reform within a larger, more stable community. Both species have male philopatry: males spend their lives in the community they were born in, while females transfer out of their natal community to a new community when they reach sexual maturity. In both species, females commonly mate with many males over the course of an estrus cycle. But there are some important differences.
Jane Goodall began studying chimpanzees in the wild at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, in the 1960s. The early reports from Gombe captivated the world with stories of chimpanzee social life, tool use, and interactions with human observers. It was the 1960s, and chimpanzees — hairy, sexually promiscuous, grooving in the jungle -looked familiar: they were hippies.
The picture darkened a lot in the 1970s when the community at Gombe split in two. Between 1974 and 1978, the two daughter communities were effectively in a state of war. Males from the larger of the two communities carried out a series of raids against the smaller, with raiding parties opportunistically picking off and killing isolated individuals, eventually eliminating all the males and some of the females. Subsequent studies of other chimpanzee populations have made it clear that this was not an isolated incident: intergroup warfare and group extinction are general features of chimpanzee life. Chimpanzees are still hairy, still sexually promiscuous, but they now look less like hippies and more like bikers. Really scary bikers.
Bonobos look like the real hippies. They are more peaceable. They show less violence between groups, with members of neighboring groups sometimes even feeding peacefully in proximity to one another, something unthinkable for chimps. There is also less within-community male-male violence among bonobos. Bonobo females play a major role in regulating and intervening in male-male competition, and may even be dominant to males. There are tensions within bonobo communities but these are often resolved by (non-reproductive) sexual activity. For example, females, who are generally not related to one another because they were born elsewhere, might be expected to find themselves fighting over food. Instead, they settle potential feeding conflicts peaceably by “g-g (genital-genital) rubbing,” rubbing their sexual swellings together until they reach orgasm. Or do a pretty convincing job of faking it: “I’ll have what she’s having.”
However recent DNA tests have revealed an unexpected twist to the chimpanzee/bonobo comparison. In spite of the more peaceable nature of male bonobos compared to male chimps, it turns out that there is actually greater reproductive inequality among male bonobos and a stronger relationship between dominance rank and reproductive success! Dominant male bonobos are more successful than dominant male chimps in monopolizing reproduction. If bonobos still look like hippies, then they are the kind of hippies where a lot of free loving is going on, but the whole happening is run by and for the leader (backed up by his mom) and his groupies.
B. Today’s Poem:
This poem is a translation of one of the opening paragraphs of the Great Binding Law, Gayanshagowa of the Hauduonasee (Iroquois) nation that was given to that nation by Dekanawidah and written down by Hiawatha. The poem here was written by someone (I do not know whom) who put the words of Dekanawidah into a somewhat western-looking poetic format.
“From the Iroquois Constitution”
“The Tree of Great Peace”
Roots have spread out
One to the north,
One to the east,
One to the south,
One to the west.
The name of these roots
Is the Great White Roots
And their nature
C. Pookie’s Musings:
Musings on a Peter Grenell comment about something in the previous issue of T&T.
In response to my remark:
Last night, Naida described how that morning she marveled at the many odd angles I had contorted my limbs into while I slept. We agreed on a new nick-name for me, Pythagorean Pookie. I like it.
Now, the alliteration is cool, but “Hypotenuse” is fewer syllables simpler and elegant. And lends itself to the nickname “Hypo”.
If I should choose this nickname, perhaps it might qualify me to become a Marx brother. Then there would be six Marx brothers, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo and Hypo. Alas, that would make me the last of the Marx brothers still living.
It saddens me to think of a world without the Marx brothers. Hayden and his cohorts probably have no idea who they were or their importance to civilization. Groucho and Harpo were, in my opinion, two of the greatest philosophers humankind has ever produced. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and all the others may have been admirable and brilliant men but could any one of them demonstrate the heights of the ideal contemplative life as did the mute Harpo playing the harp. Could anyone of those worthies of the past match the succinct reasoning regarding the mysteries of existence as did Groucho when he declaimed:
“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”
“What have future generations ever done for us?”
Yes, it is a far less interesting and amusing world now that they have left us. Sob!
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1954): Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower:
“The Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything–even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid…
Alas, it may have taken over 60 years but they finally assembled enough stupid people to take over the Republican Party and elect a President even more stupid than they are. Perhaps, a corollary quote could be:
“Never underestimate the ability of a few stupid rich men in a democracy to persuade over time a lot of even more stupid but much poorer people to agree with them and take over the government.”