Posts Tagged With: The Onion

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joseph 0007 (January 9, 2018)

 

 

 

“Everything that happens, stays happened.”

Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 145). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The old year thankfully has passed away. It was not a good year for me nor was it, I imagine, good for the nation or the world for that matter. Alas, there is little that I or anyone else, can do about that other than to get on with it — our lives or whatever else it may be. Oh, I guess we can also vote — early and often as they say.

The cold white sun glares through the silver overcast sky throwing its shadowless light across the path I walk on during today’s morning stroll around the lakes in Town Center. The leaves from the now mostly denuded trees crackle as I step on them while I amble by. My mind rumbles on inside me while I walk along, preaching about years past and possible futures. It annoys me a lot — like I am in the grip of a malevolent being making me plod, head down, walking faster and faster as it feeds my obsessions. Then, having circled the lake the required number of times, I finally rest. The dark voice dissipates, replaced with simple questions like, “Shall I have coffee now or should I continue on to the health club?”

This Morning, I noticed that Bistro 33, the restaurant overlooking the lake, had closed. I enjoyed eating lunch there, outside near the water, often with Norbert, Stevie, and HRM. In the evenings, the local divorcees would gather around the circular bar inside hunting and being hunted in turn. The food was good. I will miss it.

While doing some research on Julian of Norwich (see below), I came across a blog entitled, Ragged Robin’s Nature Notes written by someone living in Warwickshire, England somewhere near where the good Julian spent her days during the far Middle Ages. It seems the blogger, in proper British countryside tradition, spends most of her time in her garden photographing things and posting them in her blog. There, she happily but unnecessarily describes to all that which clearly appears in the photograph. I found her delightfully odd but serious about her preoccupation so I decided to follow her. Besides, how could you not love someone who gives herself the nick-name Ragged Robin and is infatuated with alliteration?

Speaking of the posting of inane photographs of local interest, here is one taken today on my afternoon walk around the lakes in Town Center. I have no idea what kind of trees those are, so don’t ask.
IMG_3924

Recently Ragged Robin posted the following:

THE BADGER CULL

Pasted Graphic 1
New Government e-petition from Simon King to End the Badger Cull instead of Expanding It Into New Areas. Please click on the image for a link to the petition.

Save the badgers

Note: It appears that in this part of England, the government sends out petitions for the general public to comment on pending actions and legislation. What a marvelous idea.

 

This morning on my walk around the lakes, I decided to walk the full three miles and forgo the health club because I still was not feeling right. It was another silver skyed shadowless day, a bit warmer than it had been for the past few days. About halfway through my walk, I received a call from the Good/Bad David. I gave him that name because SWAC would refer to him as either good or bad depending on how she felt about him that week. I had not heard from him in over a year. I was glad he called and took the opportunity to sit on a bench and rest while I spoke with him.

David was a well-known hedonist among the Thailand ex-pat crowd I knew. When he wasn’t carousing in Bangkok or Pattaya, he was working on contract as a supervisor of environment, safety, and security for various oil companies around the world. Because his job at times included leading armed mercenaries through a number of jungle or desert hot spots around the world, I would teasingly accuse him of being a mercenary and CIA spy, which he vigorously denied, as one would expect a proper spy to do. For this reason, I gave him the name “Spy” in the Adventures of the Geriatric Nights of The Oval Table I wrote about here a few years ago.

Anyway, with the collapse of the petroleum exploration industry, the contracts he relied upon for maintenance of his licentious and thoroughly enjoyable lifestyle ended and he was forced to return to South Dakota from whence he came and resume the life of a farmer. Now, I do not really know what a farmer does beyond getting up well before sunrise and developing a close relationship with manure, but I doubt it includes a licentious and thoroughly enjoyable lifestyle. I feel his pain.
IMG_0477IMG_0477.jpg
Spy and I in Jomtien Beach

If upon reading what I have written so far gives you the impression I now do little with my day except stroll around the Town Center Lakes, you would not be too far from the truth. It takes a bit of effort to distinguish the variety of my days this past week from my nights. Actually, the lack if nighttime diversity is not precisely true. For the past week or so, I appear to have come down with the stomach flu that everyone seems to be getting — at least I hope that is all it is. It often wakes me up in the middle of the night. So until the episode lets up, I aimlessly play on my computer — like I am doing right now at 3AM.

Overcast skies and rain this morning as I left for the first of my medical appointments this week. I left the house before 6AM leaving HRM to rouse himself, prepare breakfast and await his friend tall long haired Jake and his parents to pick him up and drive him to school. Dick is in San Diego at meetings with the University there. I was anxious about leaving HRM alone for the hour until he got picked up. While lying there at the clinic awaiting whatever radio-active substance they injected me with to permeate my body, I called HRM every ten minutes or so to see if he was OK. He was.Then, after being required to lie perfectly still for an additional twenty minutes while being trundled back and forth through the PET scan machine, I was released to continue my day. First to IHOP for breakfast and then home and back into bed to catch up on the sleep I had lost worrying about the results of this week’s tests.

If upon reading what I have written so far gives you the impression I now do little with my day except stroll around the Town Center Lakes, you would not be too far from the truth. It takes a bit of effort to distinguish the variety of my days this past week from my nights. Actually, the lack if nighttime diversity is not precisely true. For the past week or so, I appear to have come down with the stomach flu that everyone seems to be getting — at least I hope that is all it is. It often wakes me up in the middle of the night. So until the episode lets up, I aimlessly play on my computer — like I am doing right now at 3AM.

Overcast skies and rain this morning as I left for the first of my medical appointments this week. I left the house before 6AM leaving HRM to rouse himself, prepare breakfast and await his friend tall long haired Jake and his parents to pick him up and drive him to school. Dick is in San Diego at meetings with the University there. I was anxious about leaving HRM alone for the hour until he got picked up. While lying there at the clinic awaiting whatever radio-active substance they injected me with to permeate my body, I called HRM every ten minutes or so to see if he was OK. He was.Then, after being required to lie perfectly still for an additional twenty minutes while being trundled back and forth through the PET scan machine, I was released to continue my day. First to IHOP for breakfast and then home and back into bed to catch up on the sleep I had lost worrying about the results of this week’s tests.

 

B. THE UGLY MAN SITS IN THE GARDEN:

Well, what a pleasant surprise I received today after waking from my post PET scan nap. In the mailbox, I found a package from Peter. It contained a book entitled, The Ugly Man Sits in the Garden by someone named Andy Weinberger. Andy (I am sure he won’t mind me calling him by his first name) lives in Sonoma and his book resembles a polished and much better-written version of T&T — a humorous gentle recording of Andy’s adventures and musing as he goes about owning a bookstore in Sonoma and doing Sonoma type things.

Maybe if I had a loving long-suffering wife willing to type up my musings and edit them while I putter around my bookstore schmoozing with friends like Andy does T&T could be immeasurably improved. Although several of my wives may have been long-suffering, none, I am sure, would ever have considered sitting around editing and typing up my meanderings.

I think the blurbs on the back of the book capture the book’s essence best. Here are two:

I’m sorry I didn’t get to see this book for myself, but a person can only live so long, and then God takes him away to a better place. Vat can one do? Still it’s a great accomplishment, and of course, I am proud of him. All those fancy schmancy words.
Tillie Seigal, Andy’s grandmother. (JP — Note: Andy’s grandma died many years before the book was written, but not even God can hold back a loving grandma when she wants to praise a favored grandson.)

Who knew then someday Andy Weinberger would turn out to run a famous bookstore in California and write a book? Not me. In fact, after he left Long Island I never laid eyes on him again. But even as a toddler, I could tell he had talent. He could really throw a snowball back then. That’s what I remember.
Garry Gullicksen, Andy’s childhood friend, Huntington, NY

From what appears in his book, Andy seems to be a jovial easy-going guy interested in other people. I do not see myself being like Andy at all. Talent aside, I believe my attitude more resembles Proust, self-important and indulgent, solitary and cynical. Nevertheless, Andy might be right. On the whole, life is good. There is really not that much to complain about — well…no there really is a lot to complain about, but maybe Andy’s sunny amused disposition helps in dealing with it. It can’t hurt.

I may from now on add a section to Pepe’s Potpourri called, Andy’s Musings and upgrade things a little. It can’t hurt.

 

C. EDH ANCORA:

Still raining. No walks around the lakes today. Nevertheless, for the first time in a long while, I enjoyed myself exercising at the Health Club. Spoke with Naida. She seems to be getting on with her life. Still cleaning up the old but I am pretty sure she will soon be getting on with the new. HRH after two days of rain seems to be coming down with a bit of cabin fever. He is eager to get back to blowing off his excess pre-adolescent energy at the skate park, Tomorrow comes the biopsy — the joy of having one’s neck stuck with needles.

You all have a good day now.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

On Bitching:

The new year has begun. The quote by the ever-delightful satirist Terry Pratchett that begins this post might lead one to conclude that bitching about the past changes nothing. Nevertheless, true or not, I like to bitch. It is my default setting. I always found it made me feel better. Admittedly, it usually made everyone else feel worse. Still, I believe bitching is a good thing. Even if I had nothing to bitch about, I would still bitch about that.

On the other hand, way back in the Middle Ages, Julian of Norwich who wrote the first theological book written in English by a woman opined, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” These are words to live by — to ponder. They are after all ponderous indeed.

One could argue that not only would accepting Julian’s view of things (and even often reciting her words now and then instead of, “Ohm,” “Wow,” “Oops” or the like) be a good way to start off a new year, it would seem to represent the exact opposite of or an antidote to bitching as a means of handling the stresses of life. In other words, a yin to my yang. Or is it a yang to my yin?
Pasted Graphic
In case you are curious about the difference.

Julian was an Anchoress (a special kind of female anchorite — you wouldn’t think there would be rules about having yourself bricked up in a cave, but there are). At an early age, she was bricked up into a small cell where she spent the rest of her life accessible to the outside world only through two small holes, one to allow food to be inserted and refuse removed and another to allow seekers of wisdom and penitents to receive her advice and counsel.
Pasted Graphic_1
Julian’s window on the world.

Julian could have bitched about her circumstances. I would have. She certainly appeared to have a lot to bitch about. But, she didn’t. On the other hand, maybe, she was nuts. Wouldn’t you be, bricked up in a tiny dark cell like that for most of your life?

Anyway, Julian’s lifestyle choices aside, to bitch or not to bitch that is the question (I could not resist). Since, as Pratchett assures us, neither bitching nor enduring can change the past, can either change the future? I maintain that in at least 8 out of 10 cases bitching will prompt change where grim acceptance would not.

So, for the new year, be happy and bitch, bitch and bitch.

And, more importantly, make sure you do not forget to vote.

pew-pew-pew-thats-the-sound-of-me-blocking-your-4054975
Julian Before She Became an Anchoress.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“According to a 2014 Pew survey, the Americans who most frequently ‘feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe’ are agnostics.”

Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 440). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blogs of the Week:

 

1. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-01-04/systems-suck-less/

An interesting article that promotes Syndicalism (worker ownership of individual businesses) as an alternative to the current debate between Capitalism and Socialism about control of the means of production. I am not too sympathetic to the author’s arguments. They fail, I think, in part because they avoid the inescapable political problems raised by the inevitable centralization, over time, of power in ever larger more successful entities (by business in the case of Syndicalism and liberal Capitalism and bureaucrats in the case of Communism and Socialism). Power not only corrupts it metastasizes. Also, the inevitable conflict between the self-interest of individual entities and the public good,— e.g., the ability to effectively deal with things like Climate Change, welfare, migrations and so on — seems to be no better handled than the current systems that govern us today. The hope that these current problems and the controversies they engender will somehow be handled better by one or another of these isms, seem to me to be almost like mysticism. I get the feeling that when one peels back the layers of all these isms, one discovers wriggling at the center of it all, that irrepressible maggot our old friend, the Invisible Hand in one form or another. It seems as though the advocates for these isms are not too far removed from the promoters of most religions, “Believe what we tell you and believe only us. The rest is in God’s hands.”

Ideology, like religion, is not science. Science is something on which we can rely without resorting to Invisible Hands or mysterious beings. Unfortunately for us, science is still far from knowing all the secrets of the human heart. So, like it or not, we’re still all fucked.

 

2. https://mises.org/blog/could-banks-become-public-utilities

This post discusses with approval the possible conversion of the banking sector of the economy into a public utility, a proposal I am in general sympathy with. What is especially interesting about this article is that it appears in a blog devoted to the opinions of free-market conservative economists. I assume from the article that the authors separate personal banking (which would become the public utility) from commercial banking.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Sooner or later, we humans always manage to find ourselves balanced on the edge of sustainability and little more than one step from starvation.

Trenz Pruca (Malthus by way of Sanderson)

 

C. Giants of History:

Donald Trump will go down in history as the most despicable leader of a democracy to sell out his country to its adversaries since Alcibiades sold out Athenian democracy to Sparta.

 

D. Andy’s Musings:

Andy writes that his mother would often take foreign language courses in Pasadena Community College just so that if she met someone from a country that spoke the language she had studied she could then say, “how are you” in their language. That did not always work Andy admits.

“I remember her saying that the hardest course she ever took was Arabic, from which she only could retain one exasperating sentence: The ugly man sits in the garden.”
E. Today’s Poem:

The King of the Seas – Poem by Stephen Crane

The Ocean said to me once,
‘Look!
Yonder on the shore
Is a woman, weeping.
I have watched her.
Go you and tell her this-
Her lover I have laid
In cool green hall.
There is wealth of golden sand
And pillars, coral-red;
Two white fish stand guard at his bier.

Tell her this
And more-
That the king of the seas
Weeps too, old, helpless man.
The bustling Fates
Heap his hands with corpses
Until he stands like a child
With surplus of toys.’

 

F. Excerpts from Comments on the Previous Post:
Neal

Will you send my regards and condolences to Naida. Bill was a great friend and mentor to me in the early years after you sent me up to Sacramento. He and Naida were both very kind to me when I had nothing to offer back I always wished I knew what he knew. I was also so impressed that Bill would just walk around the Capitol in his street clothes (no tie or suit). He had been around so long that he didn’t need to play the game anymore. He had complete confidence in his understanding of the political world that he worked in. I’m sad for his loss.

 

Fede.

Hi, Joe and Happy new year!!!
I’m sorry for your friends… this year hasn’t started well for you 😌
Sending you a kiss and I hope to see you soon!
Ps.
On Feb 24th I’m going to Thailand with some friends, but only for a week 🤷🏼‍♀️

 

Peter.

Condolences on Bill’s passing. I know you were very close. I am glad to see that, even at the end, he retained his sense of humor.

Hope you are on the mend; you sounded like a foghorn reject on the phone the other day.

More Peter.

It’s Oy Vay. [Technical Note: I had to type this twice because the code-writers, who want to be So Helpful, made the unilateral decision to make this machine show Oy Way (and right here just now, it tried Oy Bay!). This helpful intention results in inefficiency and irritation. Of course, the code-writers are all goyem. (Get this: it just typed “gooey” instead of goyem.) Start a movement: More Yiddish-fluent code writers needed. Fill the Washington DC Mall with hundreds of thousands chanting and waving banners emblazoned with “Oy Vay! All The Way!” (it just tried Oy Bay again).

My response.

Thank you for the book. I love it. I bet Andy Weinberger does not have trouble with auto-correct. He probably writes in longhand on a  yellow pad and his long-suffering wife has to type it up. Recently when I typed the word — edit — the auto-correct printed — toe dit. I tried to work that into what I was writing but it was beyond me. Now with — toe did — I could probably work something out, but the Gods of computer-talk are never so helpful.

Take care. I will try to deliver the cane to you this weekend if you are around.

Still more Peter.

Glad you liked Andy’s musings. Thought you would. I haven’t seen him/them in several years. They’re back in Sonoma running the bookstore; his brother John and wife live nearby. John was our neighbor in New Delhi in 1972-4. That’s where I met Howard, convalescing from dysentery acquired in Nepal.

I’ll be around next weekend, except for a Saturday night gig in Kensington (North Berkeley). Alex’s girls will be up then; looks like we’ll take them to the Discovery Museum at Fort Baker (Sausalito) at some point. Anyway, if you are in town, we can hook up somehow.

I am in the middle of “Fantasyland”- fascinating book, compliments of our local library branch. Makes stuff seem even more amazing and hopeless. Thanks for the tip in previous TAT.

 

Terry.

So sorry to hear about Bill. How is Naida doing? Let me know if there is a memorial service.

Bill was one of the funniest people I ever met. Sometimes without meaning to be funny. But often just being so understated in such a high-stress profession. It was quite humorous to watch him interact with agitated people in a very calm manner and seemingly always get his way with them. Like your Denny Carpenter story. God Bless him!

I’m on my way to Dunsmuir and my new apt. If you want a break from the EDH, come on up. I have not been out your way lately but as soon as I am, I’ll give you a ring.

Don’t get too depressed about losing friends. THEY REALLY ARE NEVER GONE. Most of my old friends are still alive to me in my dreams and rambling thoughts. They are not gone, just on a lengthy vacation. And having been “gone” myself and brought back by a great paramedic, I can tell you the other side appeared very blissful and relaxing. So don’t worry. And our friends will be there in whatever form “The Great One” allows. We are the chosen survivors. And that’s not so bad!

More from Terry.

As I said, modern medicine creates miracles. Throat cancer does not seem to be a large part of cancer fatalities. Of course one never knows, but I’m optimistic about your prognosis. And the stats don’t lie.

Here’s a story from The New York Times that I thought you’d find interesting:

More than two million patients have been saved by advances in diagnosis and treatment since 1991, according to new data.

Ruth.

I’m sorry to hear about Bill Geyer’s passing. I’m finding with respect to Moe, as I know you are with respect to Bill, that knowing it was coming does very little to cushion the blow. I barely knew Bill, but I’ve heard you talk about him for years and I know he meant a lot to you.

Let us hope that 2018 is an improvement over its predecessor!

 

Ann.

I am so sorry to hear of your friends passing. May he rest in peace.
I wish you Blessings in the new year, with good health and happiness.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“As long as there are fools and rascals, there will be religions. [And Christianity] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd…religion which has ever infected this world.”

Voltaire (1767)

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_3912
Trouble…

 

 

 

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Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

1. How deep are your political beliefs mommy?

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

2. Recent twitter post from “The Onion”:

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

3. Buddy Roemer, Populist Republican Candidate for President:

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

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. 2011:

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

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

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

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

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

2. November 30, 1941:

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

Lest we forget

3. How to live longer, get a cat.

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

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND AND AMERICA:

1. America: a public dialogue.

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

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


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

3. Thailand and Yingluck’s boots:

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

4. Parking in Thailand:

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

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOPEY JOE’S MEMOIRS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RED STAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She shook her head, “No in yours.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Strange Apocalypses:

END of TIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S QUOTE:

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

TODAY’S CHART:

TODAY’S CARTOON:


TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:


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

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

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