Posts Tagged With: United State

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Pops 0007. (August 20, 2018)

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The weekend passed by quickly — mostly waiting for the biopsy on Tuesday. Not having an automobile (it is in the shop having its crumpled fender and other maladies attended too), cuts down on my activities. I had to turn down an assignment from the Scooter gang over the weekend. So, I read and went on walks through the Enchanted Forest. I get all the angst and despair I can handle from social media and television news.

Well, well, — I went for my biopsy yesterday and for the third time during my age of physical deterioration, the doctor, in this case wielding his sonogram, could find no reason for a biopsy. In other words, he could not find a mass in which a malicious deranged cell would hide. I do not know whether or not to be embarrassed after spending a month or so in gloomy speculation and endlessly disclosing my fears to all who would listen — I guess at my age I should not be embarrassed by anything I do anymore. Anyway, I know it is, at best, only a temporary reprieve.

Onward and upward as Terry always advises. Lack of a car limits my mobility and the awful air pollution from the fires restrict my walks and swimming. So, I sit at home, watch Naida work on her memoir, read as much junk as I can, and nap a lot. So goes the winter of my life. It’s not too bad. I could still be sitting around wondering about the results of my medical tests.

This evening was spent watching Janette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movies. The last movie ended with the Canadian Mountie and the Opera star in an embrace and singing:

You belong to me
I belong to you.

We then rolled up the stairs to bed singing, one with a professionally trained voice and the other with a throat ruined by radiation therapy:

When I’m calling you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ooh
If you answer too, ooh , etc.

That means that I offer my love to you
To be your own
If you refuse me, I will be blue
And waiting all alone

But, if when you hear
My love call, ringing clear, ooh, etc.
And I hear you’re
Answering a call so dear, ooh, etc.

Then I will know
That our love will be true

What could be better than that?

The next day I swam in the Nepenthe pool. It is my first time swimming in over a month. It felt good. While sitting by the pool a woman got out of her car and started banging on the gate demanding to get into the pool area. Eventually, she somehow got in. She was hugely pregnant. She took off her shoes, then jumped, fully clothed, into the pool, swam its length, got out, picked up her shoes, returned to her car and drove away. I did not realize it was that hot out. Life is wonderfully surprising even when you are doing nothing but staring at the leaves of some trees.

Today I spent the morning watching Doris Day — Gordon MacRae movies. Listening to them sing “Tea for Two” is an experience I rank somewhere between being drowned in a vat of medicinal cannabis or smothered in meringue.

Later I went to the pool and fell asleep in the shade only to be awakened by the sound of ten-year-olds doing flips into the water. I did my laps while trying to determine if I was in a good mood or bad. Gave up and went home.

My sister Maryann and her husband George dropped by on their way back to Mendocino from Nevada City where they were making arrangements for the wedding of their son Brendan to Ashley his intended. A few weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of mine from my childhood who I haven’t seen in almost seventy years, Snookie Salerno, now lives in Nevada City. I have been told he never returns calls from his old friends (Would you return a call to someone who called you Snookie?). He did not return my calls. So I left him a message inviting him to the wedding.

Anyway, I took Mary and George on a walk around the Enchanted Forest and along the banks of the river. Mary seems well recovered from her bout with breast cancer. I am well recovered from my bout of hypochondria.

I did not watch movies of any sort this evening. Instead, I went to bed at 8PM. Tomorrow the automobile comes out of the shop. I am relieved. I now can drive aimlessly about. I like that better than “tea for two.” Check that, it depends on whom I am having tea with and what kind of tea.

Picked up the car. Have not yet driven it aimlessly but have driven it between the shop and the house with great determination to avoid another crushed fender.

The days pass on — driving the scooter gang around, walking through the Enchanted Forest, swimming in the pools, singing show tunes, drinking margaritas, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, petting the dog, crying over Aretha Franklin, watching old movies, laughing at old jokes — the wheel turns on. And then there is this:

“For the past 2,700 years we have been evolving through the ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025. The end of the Yuga will inevitably be followed by cataclysmic earth changes and civilization collapses,…”
Bibhu Dev Misra

This morning when I left the house I ran into one of the TURKEY GANGS right beyond the front door. Yes, the Enchanted Forest is plagued by several TURKEY GANGS. They lounge along the pathways, mumbling threatening sounds and forcing residents to walk around them. They litter the sidewalks and don’t clean up after they leave. They terrorize small children and small dogs. They are huge, hulking, ugly creatures often four feet tall or more. Something needs to be done about them by the HOA. Perhaps once a year say in November we could have a community Thanksgiving Party and eat a few. They are so large they could each feed several families.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, isn’t that the celebration of a group of immigrants saved by the citizens of the area who in turn demonstrated their gratitude by slaughtering their rescuers and taking their land? Instead of Thanksgivings Day shouldn’t the day be called something like Ingratitude Day?
On Saturday morning, we attended then weekly Saturday Morning Coffee put on by the Nepenthe HOA in the Enchanted Forest. The usual group had assembled. I had a lively discussion with the 93-year-old architect about our various maladies. Later the woman that seems to run these things announced she was not going to run the “Sock Hop” in September (don’t ask — I think it is some attempt at replication of an ancient mating ritual that everyone believes existed and they experienced but it didn’t and they only imagined it. Ask yourself, “Did you ever attend a ‘sock Hop?’” And if you did, did you think the experience was such that you would want to replicate it in your old age?). This set off a flurry of whispers. Later I learned that there is a conflict between the Nepenthe HOA and the nine other HOAs over the running of the social events. I did not understand the politics involved but agreed with Naida who leaned over and said to me sotto voce, “It seems pretty silly to argue over who gets the right to volunteer.”

There are three Age of Declines:

The first Age of Decline is now. It is the first time in history that a majority of a generation lived to old age together, declined together and ultimately will die together. As usual for the past 80 years or so, we have, for better or worse, been the pacesetters.

The second type of Age of Decline is the end of an era. In our case, the end of the greatest Golden Age the world has ever seen.

The third version of an Age of Decline is experienced by all of us that live beyond 75 or so years. Not only do our bodies begin to undergo the inevitable physical and mental failures faced by all biologic creatures who have exceeded their use by date, but also our functions in society at large begin to dissipate. Oh yes, some of us keep on working and striving — and good for those of us who do. Others of us can sometimes pass through a brief period where we are consulted (not very seriously) or honored (weekly or monthly visits) by younger relatives or friends. But really for most of us, we ultimately gather in homes for the elderly or periodically meet with other elderly friends where we attempt to create a small replica of the society that we strode through in our past life — much like the members of the Nepenthe morning coffee, complete with its politics, petty annoyances, and amusements. Lucky are those of us who instead fall in love and experience a decline no less painful but much more blissful.

For the second time in a little over a month, I have been attacked by a Russian Bot. Three critical comments from the same person appeared on my Blog, Trenz Pruca’s Journal — https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/. This is unusual because almost no one ever comments on my blog. Two of the comments were general criticisms of my writing competence in two of my blog posts. A criticism I believe fully justified. In the third comment, this time on my blog about Vladimir Putin (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/petrillos-commentary-who-is-vladimir-putin-and-why-is-he-an-enemy-of-the-united-states/. Also, reproduced below.),

He not only objects to my writing style but included an example of how it could be improved by changing my criticism to a justification of Putin’s behavior. I am so proud to have been noticed.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
WHO IS VLADIMIR PUTIN AND WHY IS HE AN ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES:
It is important to explore the motivations of Vladimir Putin in order to understand much of the actions and policies of the Kremlin in the past few years.

First, as is true with most revolutions, the inevitable reaction reinstitute the structures of the old regime but with new titles (but often the same slogans). In Russia, the new oligarchs, like the Soviet Commissars before them, have decorated their dachas and palaces like the Tsars from whom they have taken them. The old prisons have been reopened and refilled with the enemies of the state. The so-called secret services have been restored and given new names.

The Tsar’s rentier aristocracy was replaced by the industrial Commissars. The Commissars have now been replaced by a financial/commercial oligarchy. True, the Commissars were governmental employees at the time they acquired their wealth and power and the oligarchs are not, but like the landed aristocrats they still owe their wealth to the Tsar in the Kremlin and they cross him at their peril.

Second, Putin is not only the head of the Russian government but the chief and undoubtedly the largest oligarch of them all.

Third, Putin is a Russian, a child of the Rodina, and as such the humiliation of Soviet Russia by the American commercial and military empire is a stain on its honor that any patriot would work tirelessly to remove.

Fourth, he was a low-level bureaucrat in the Soviet secret service (KGB) trained in espionage. As such, one would assume he is more comfortable with the strategies of subversion that those of military conquest.

Finally, he is extremely popular in Russia (and in many other areas of the world). Ninety-six percent of Russians approved of his military initiatives in Ukraine; ninety-five percent believed that America was goading Kiev to persecute ethnic Russians in that country. Ninety-two percent believed the same situation existed in Russian enclaves in the Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

In brief, we have in Vladimir Putin an exceedingly popular, short (he is a tiny but exceptionally athletic man), greedy, subversive nationalist with a special antipathy for the United States.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

‘’ When the long nights would come long ago, the people of this and another village would gather together every night sitting beside the fire or wherever they could find room in the house. Many a device they would resort to shorten the night. The man who had a long tale, or the man who had the shorter tales (eachtraithe), used to be telling them. At that time people used to go earning their pay working in County Limerick, County Tipperary and County Cork, and many a tale they had when they would return, everyone with his own story so that you would not notice the night passing. Often the cock would crow before you would think of going home.”
Leabhar Sheáin Í Chonaill (1948)

 

MEMORIES OF BLASKET ISLAND, IRELAND.

FieldSchoolImage2

 
40 years or so ago, I traveled to Great Blasket Island off the Western Coast of Ireland. This bleak and barren island located off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula housed between 100 to 150 souls until the 1940s when the Irish Government in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility removed the remaining twenty-two of them and resettled them in other parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the islanders objected to the relocation nor made any attempt to return.

I ferried there from mainland Ireland in one of those tar-covered little leather boats that used to be common in the western part of the country.
IMG_20141020_192600_608
Drying the boats. The village is in the background.

 

I met the ferry-man in the pub that stands on the bluff overlooking Blasket and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. For a few dollars, I persuaded him to row me there. There was no regular motor ferry to the island then but there is now.

Although the passage from the mainland to the islands is no more than a couple of miles, during much of the year when the Island was inhabited, it was too stormy and impassable for the small traditional row boats available at the time to make the crossing. As a result, the residents of Blasket were often marooned and had to live exclusively on what they could glean there on the island.

Even though the sea was relatively calm during my trip, the waves and currents in the straight threw the little boat around quite a bit causing the oarsman to strain at the oars and me to question the rationale for my visit.
Scan0008-31
A traditional leather covered boat (a type of coracle) approaching Blasket Island. I took a boat like this on my trip.

 

We landed on a tiny bit of dressed stone surrounded on three sides by large rocks making an anchorage about ten feet or so wide. We tied up to a rusty and corroded iron ring.

I left the ferry-man there with a promise to return in an hour and a half.

In the only habitable place on the lee of the island lay a tiny village in ruins and deserted. I climbed through the ruins and into the abandoned cottage — Peig’s cottage. It was my reason for the trip — to pay homage Peig Sayers.

Peig was an old woman and seanchai (storyteller) who when approached by a representative of the Irish Folklore Commission and asked to write the story of her life on that forlorn island, did so. Much to the surprise of all, it became perhaps the greatest work of Gaelic prose literature.

The Book opens with the words:

I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge. I have experienced much ease and much hardship from the day I was born until this very day. Had I known in advance half, or even one-third, of what the future had in store for me, my heart wouldn’t have been as gay or as courageous it was in the beginning of my days.

 

In the evenings the people on the Island would gather in Peig’s cottage to listen to her stories. Seosamh Ó Dálaigh wrote the following about these sessions:

‘I wish I had the ability to describe the scene in Peig Sayers’s home in Dunquin on a winter’s night when the stage was set for the seanchaí’ ‘When the visitors arrived (for all gathered to the Sayers house when Peig was there to listen to her from supper-time till midnight) the chairs were moved back and the circle increased. News was swapped, and the news often gave the lead for the night’s subject, death, fairies, weather, crops.’ All was grist to the mill, the sayings of the dead and the doings of the living, and Peig, as she warmed to her subject, would illustrate it richly from her repertoire of verse, proverb and story…

Great artist and wise woman that she was, Peig would at once switch from gravity to gaiety, for she was a light-hearted woman, and her changes of mood and face were like the changes of running water. As she talked her hands would be working too; a little clap of the palms to cap a phrase, a flash of the thumb over the shoulder to mark a mystery, a hand hushed to mouth for mischief or whispered secrecy. ‘When the fun is at its height it is time to go,’ runs the Irish proverb; and when visitors went each night Peig would draw the ashes over the peat-embers to preserve the fire till morning, reciting her customary prayer: ‘I preserve the fire as Christ preserves all. Brigid at the two ends of the house, and Mary in the centre. The three angels and the three apostles who are highest in the Kingdom of Grace, guiding this house and its contents until day.’

 

Her home there on Blasket was now little more than rocks piled on one another for walls with more rocks added to make the roof (I understand it has been made into lodging for a small hostel now). Peig’s home contained a single room in which she spent most of her life.
IMG_20141020_192528_725
Peig in her cottage.

 

Beyond the village, exposed to the fierce winds off the Atlantic, the island was covered in a thick mat of furze, Irish gorse, and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath. When walking on it, although it supported my weight, it felt as though I was walking on a springy mattress.

There were no trees or bushes to be seen anywhere. I climbed part way down a steep incline towards the cliffs on the island’s north side where the residents would scramble down to pilfer the eggs of the shorebirds that nested there. I did not go further than perhaps 10 feet or so because the cliff quickly became much steeper. It was on those steep cliffs according to Peig that Blasket’s citizens often met their death trying to secure enough food to carry them through the winter storms.
blasket-island_1383770-fc009ff8
The North side of Blasket Island and the cliffs.

 

As hard as life was on Blasket, during the Irish persecutions and famines several mainland families settled on the island, “Because life was better there.”
Scan0011-21
A Better Life?

 

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Blasket was that Peig was not the only one from there who authored a Gaelic literary classic. Two others, Twenty Years a Growing and The Islandman, were written by Blasket natives also.

How hard was life on Blasket? Tomas O’Crohan in The Islandman wrote the following about his children:

“Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help us! The very first of them that we christened was only seven or eight years old when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they went as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to save the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me. Before long I lost him, too.”

the_great_blasket
Blasket Island Today.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

 

In his fascinating book In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, Alfred McCoy relates some facts about the collapse of the American education system that should give every American concern about what sort of a society we a leaving to our children.

In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tested 510,000 fifteen-year-olds in thirty-four developed nations, finding those in Shanghai came first in math, science, and reading, while those in Massachusetts, “A strong-performing U.S. state,” placed seventeenth in reading, twentieth in science, and twenty-seventh in math. The OECD also found that American students “have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as … interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems.” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rued these results as “a picture of educational stagnation.” The National Intelligence Council noted that the country’s educational advantage “has been cut in half in the past 30 years,” meaning that without major investments in schools Americans “will increasingly bring only mediocre skills to the workplace.”

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4973-4975). Haymarket Books.
After leading the world for decades in twenty-five-to thirty-four-year-olds with university degrees, the United States sank to twelfth place in 2012. That same year, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre forty-seventh among 144 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction. Two years later, its position slid to fifty-first.

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4978-4981). Haymarket Books.

A survey of some 150 major American universities in 2010 found that more than half of all graduate students in the sciences were foreigners: 70 percent in electrical engineering, 63 percent in computer science, and 52 percent in materials engineering.

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4982-4984).

 

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Lou Bronico on Top:

Something I received from my cousin Lou:

Letter to My Boss:

I have enjoyed working here these past several years. You have paid me very well and given me benefits beyond belief. Have 3-4 months off per year and a pension plan that will pay my salary till the day I die and then pay my estate one year salary death bonus and then continue to pay my spouse my salary with increases until he (or she) dies and a health plan that most people can only dream of having i.e. no deductible whatsoever.

Despite this, I plan to take the next 12-18 months to find a new position. During this time I will show up for work when it is convenient for me. In addition, I fully expect to draw my full salary and all the other perks associated with my current job.

Oh yes, if my search for this new job proves fruitless, I will be coming back with no loss in pay or status. Before you say anything, remember that you have no choice in this matter. I can, and I will do this.

Sincerely,

Every Senator or Congressman running for re-election

Are we stupid or what?

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

History: A few truths surrounded by a lot of little lies and one or two big ones.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“If there is one person a fanatic is predisposed to hate, it’s a moderate who is almost but not completely aligned with their program.”

Stross, Charles. Dark State: A Novel of the Merchant Princes Multiverse (Empire Games) (p. 343). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
FT_17.08.01_debt_interest_420px

 

Two interesting aspects of this chart:

1. In general, it shows that since the Reagan Administration, interest payments on the national debt as a percentage of GDP have generally risen during Republican administrations, while under the Democrats, it has usually fallen.

2. Trump has already sharply increased that percentage from what it was in the last few years of the Obama administration.
The relationship between interest payments on the federal debt and the nations GDP is perhaps the most critical relationship in the debate regarding the appropriate size of the Federal Debt. If the interest payments get too high then a nation generally has to raise taxes, reduce expenditures or modestly inflate the economy (usually by keeping interest rates low during a rising economy ) in order to retain its credit rating.

Raising taxes is problematical because those whose taxes should be raised are the same people who fund the election of those who would vote on the action.

Cutting expenditures has its problems also. There are really only three sources of governmental expenditures large enough to make a difference if cut, defense, social security, and Medicare. Cutting defense is problematical because defense funding also provides much of the income for those paying for the elections of those who would vote on the cuts while cutting the latter two would be unconscionable to anyone but elected Republicans.

Finally, moderate inflation by keeping interest rates low thereby reducing the value of the dollar also runs up against the opposition of those who fund the elections of those who would vote on any such approach. In this case, the creditor community, the banks, etc., who would oppose any approach that would make their loans less valuable in the future.

Until we find an alternative to the media-entertainment-financial control of the political system, the solution to the Republican policy of increasing the debt-payment problem while choosing the worst of the remedies will remain elusive.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Exodus #6 a Wall Sculpture by Bruce West.

Categories: July through September 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. September 17, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:

1. Small Not Only Is Not Beautiful, It May Be Illegal: The Australian Classification Board has banned several adult films from distribution because, in their opinion, although the actress’ were all over 18 years old their smaller breasts made them appear to be under 18.

2. Outsourcing For Dummies: The Project On Government Oversight found that the federal government pays private contractors on average 1.83 times more than it pays its own employees for the same work, according to the group’s study released yesterday.

Do you think the workers get the difference? Do defense industry and homeland security contractors argue for smaller government?

3. Honor Your Ancestors: If you are non-African, 1-6% of your genome is Neanderthal.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. Fair and Balanced: A few days ago, the english language newspaper The Bangkok Post did something I had not seen it do during my entire time in visiting Thailand, irrespective or coup or calamity. It devoted its entire first page to an editorial. Of course anything deserving of such coverage would prompt someone like me who searches the news for bits of humor to read the entire editorial closely.

The editorial appeared intended to warn the nation that the administration of the newly elected government of Prime Minister Princess LuckyGirl, that has been in power for all of two weeks or so, is leading the nation to perdition because its summary removal of the existing chief of police is a harbinger of how this government intends to operate.

Now, it was not questions of accuracy or significance that gave me pause after reading the editorial, but why now launch such a furious attack?

It could be, as proven by the Republican Party in the US, immediate and constant challenge to the newly elected party is good politics.

I, however, wondered if it was not something else. In examining the few actions of the newly elected government it is clear that in most cases they intend to act with dispatch in implementing certain policies (including allowing the fugitive ex-prime minister and Princess LuckyGirl‘s elder brother Thaksin the Terrible (3T) to return to Thailand) and replacing many of the prior governments holdovers with their own retainers. The sole exception appears to be the military, the army in particular. It was 3T‘s attempt to replace the existing command with his supporters that prompted the coup that ultimately removed him from office. This time it appears to be the policy to avoid any threat to the Army General Staff’s prerogatives until at least they retire in a year or two. As a result there has been very little grumbling heard from Army headquarters about the new administration.

Could the opposition, sensing reticence from the institution that brought them to power several times in the past few decades, be attempting to somehow strengthen the resolve of the Generals to oppose their old enemy, 3T by persuading them that strong public opposition to the new administration is building? Stay tuned. We should know where the Army stands as soon as it appears 3T may be granted amnesty. I cannot believe that 3T, before proceeding as vigorously as he has for amnesty in the near future, has not made some accommodation with the only institution that can bring him down. It would not be the first time in recent Thai history that the military has changed sides to protect their interests.

2. See You Later Crocodile: Due to the recent flooding, dozens of Crocodiles have escaped the Crocodile Farm near Pattaya, Thailand.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have come down with the dreaded summer cold that has laid me up for a few days. As a result except for a dinner with the Bad David, I have remained generally close to home. This has forced me to watch the Star Movie Channel, (the only english language channel I have), another Murdoch venture, that shows some of worst movies made. The last few days they appear to holding a Steven Seagal festival. Seagal has put on a lot of weight since his early movies featuring him killing everything in sight. He still kills everything in sight, but now he has become a fat man to go with his fat head.

My Italian grandmother used to tell me that she thought heroes in American cinema were not heroes at all but psychotic serial killers. I responded that they were not, they were just Republicans. (OK, not all Republicans. Nevertheless you have to admit that most male cinema action heroes are proudly and publicly Republican. Democrat action heroes tend to be restricted to women and Matt Damon.)

Did you ever wonder why it is that in America a sex worker is not considered a good role model while the actors in these glorification of mayhem are looked upon as models of moral rectitude and suitable for elected office?

My grandma wondered about that also.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLE:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

“Who are we,” the Isabella character exclaimed? “Or more accurately, why are we?”

“Huh,” the Vince character responded. “What are you talking about?”

“What are we doing in this story? It’s not about us at all.”

“Of course it is about us. We are the main protagonists.”

“Look at it this way. The story is about a business deal gone bad, not your or my emotional or physical reaction to it or even our involvement. We appear to be minor characters observing and not a party to whatever is going on.

“You mean like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet?”

“Sort of…and you know what happened to them?”

“They died.”

“That’s just it. I have the feeling we are being set up by the author, to be… well, removed.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. I Didn’t Know That:

Houses in Europe during the Middle Ages had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. The roof was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slide and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

b. What Adam Smith Really Said:

Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”
[Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations,Book I, Chapter IX, p. 113]

Actually what the merchant’s and master-manufacturers did do was to fund into being an entire profession called Economics to persuade you that their gains and profits are for your benefit.

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

Some of the milder and saner statements by Ministers featured in Rick Perry’s recent prayer extravaganza:

Democratic Party is controlled by a ‘demonic structure.'”

“Violent overthrow of the US government must remain ‘on the table.'”

“God is punishing the African-American community for supporting gay rights, reproductive freedom and the Democratic Party.”

Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol” and that homosexuality is “a plot cooked up by the Illuminati to control the world’s population.”
d. Profiles in Presidential Courage:

Eisenhower Republican Administration before the Party went looney-toons:

From a Life Magazine article from 1954 where President Eisenhower’s top economists discussed their plans for a slowing economy. Here’s how they were thinking about dealing with it:

“Anti-depression planning by the Administration includes plenty of stop-gap measures just in case the experts prove wrong and the expected moderate decline turns into full-scale recession. On the shelf are $15 billion of public-works projects [that’s about $100 billion today] already blueprinted and approved by Congress, which can quickly be set in motion. Plans have been made to speed up state and local public-works projects, if need be by buying up their bond issues. The “tight money” policy, which has already been liberalized, would quickly be switched to fast expansion of credit by decreasing Federal Reserve margins, resuming the price-pegging of government bonds, and stimulating installment buying. Taxes would be cut still more, the building industry would get special inducements to expand. The Republicans say they will spend money faster than the New Deal if they have to.”

Do you mean the Obama stimulus program was really a Republican idea? Is Obama in fact an Eisenhower Republican in disguise?

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

“However, if acutely raised steroids were to persist for several weeks or even increase as volatility rises, they might have cognitive and behavioral consequences, specifically by shifting risk preferences or disturbing the neural basis for rational choice. Research into how this may happen is in its infancy, but recent work in neuroscience and economics has shown how various brain regions, such as the amygdala, the anterior insula, and the nucleus accumbens, encode decisions and behaviors that deviate from rational choice. It has been suggested that, if these brain regions are over-activated, then investors will display the irrational behavior often observed in real markets.”
“Endogenous Steroids and Financial Risk Taking on a London Trading Floor,”

Will this mean that neoclassical economists will now consent to replace the now discredited “rational market” theory with the “Testosterone Market” theory?

f. The Trolley Test I:

There is a standard experiment in psychological literature to test ones moral principles and it goes like this:

Assume you are a conductor of a trolley and you see five people on the track ahead of you but you know you will be unable to stop in time to avoid striking and killing them. Assume also that you can switch on to another track and avoid hitting them. Unfortunately, in this latter case you will strike and kill a single person.
1. What will you do?
2. Will your answer be the same if:
a. The individual on the track switched to is a women,
b. A child, or
c. Someone you know?
3. Did you really think you would be able to make this decision within the clearly short time you have to make it or will you be so paralyzed by this moral dilemma that you will be unable to decide, thus killing five people by your indecision.
4. Which decision would make you feel least guilty afterwards?

Note: I have varied the questions a bit from the standard experiment.

TODAY’S CHART:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3 Th. August 6,2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

As I previously pointed out, one of the most difficult part of the parody of running for office is that no matter how outrageous the parody of the far right, it is almost impossible to come up with something that someone would not mistake for the real thing. A case in point, I was contemplating a statement on abortion pointing out that the right may need to reconsider their approach since a prohibition on abortion falls essentially on the non-white poor, because wealthy and middle class whites can always find an abortionist as they always have been able to in the past. This I also pointed out could result in further decline of the population of the white ruling class versus an increase in the darker skinned, ethnic, Democratic voting poor. Ridiculous, no? Well, in his new book, my youthful partner in crime, Pat Buchanan writes in, Chapter 5, “Demographic Winter”:

Pat Buchanan being interviewed in Manchester, NH

“The reason the West is dying is simple: children are no longer so desirable. The child-centered society has been succeeded by the self-centered society. … [H]aving one child … means a more rapid death and disappearance of Western man.”

Perhaps Pat would support a tax credit for child support for any children over two born to families earning more than $200,000 per year. Hmm, I think I will propose it.

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1. 4004 B.C.,“October 23, at nine o’clock in the morning man was created according to John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.

On that day this year, at nine o’clock in the morning, mankind will be 6015 years old. Women are about 15 to 20 minutes younger. Don’t forget to celebrate. Do not worry, I will remind you on the 22nd.

2. 1 Million BC. DNA evidence in 2008 suggested that the black rat originated in South-East Asia about this time and then split into 6 lines, one of which colonized India and the Middle East and then spread to Europe (spreading plague and fear as it travelled).

Several descendants lived in the walls of my home while I was growing up. It is ironic that in my declining years I get to live in the region in which the rat originated. I dream that somehow I can haunt its sleep as it once haunted mine.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

Yingluck Shinawatra - World Economic Forum on ...

Yingluck Shinawatra – World Economic Forum on East Asia 2012 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

1. Ms. Prime Minister: The first female Prime Minister in Thai history, Yingluck, has been elected by the legislature. Political news has been marked mostly by rumor as the transition to the new government takes place. In one of her first statements the new prime minister designate has indicated, in a bid to demonstrate her commitment to national reconciliation, that the leaders of the “Red Shirt” protests who make up a sizable minority of her party would not be awarded posts in her first cabinet.

2. The General speaks: Meanwhile, the commanding general of the armed forces continues to make a distinction between the “government” and the “armed forces,” clearly signaling that he considers them separate and equal national institutions, with the army of course being the guardian of the Royal Family and of the nations liberty.

3. Prison frolics: The Bangkok Post disclosed a spate of reports of inmates smuggling cell phones into prison by secreting them in their anus in order to have a means of communicating with their drug suppliers. Recently one turned up when it started ringing while still hidden up the inmates———-/

4. Cultural Diversity: On the subject of cultural diversity, how does one tell if a Thai is lying to you?

Simply ask him or her whether they cheat farang’s (foreigners). If they answer no, they are lying. And they will always answer no because cheating a farang to them is really not cheating.

Statue titled, Monument to Multiculturalism by...

5. Multiculturalism: As long as I am on a multi-cultural riff, what is it about the right-wing conservatives and multiculturalism? What are they afraid of?

Ultimately what anyone who has intimate connection with another culture really learns is that they have as little regard for your cultural shibboleths as you have for theirs. Maybe that’s it, no one likes to know they are insignificant to someone else’s consciousness.

On the other hand, I am not particularly turned on by some liberals rejection of their culture or obsession with its perceived faults. It reminds me of some insecure neurotic going around focused on his or her own inadequacies.

And why do some many people who should know better gush over another cultures obsessions? Hell, no one goes around loving everybody. There are a lot of people I can’t stand and believe that the world, or at least my little piece of it would have been better off had their mother gotten an abortion. And that includes my old college mate Pat Buchanan.

Similarly there are a lot of cultures or cultural adaptations I can’t stand. The goose stepping aspect of German culture for example, and a lot of elements of some Arab cultures.

That goes for my own slice of pizza with pepperoni Italian-American culture as well. For example, I find Jersey Shore revolting, but the Godfather somehow ennobling. Perhaps it is because I could more picture myself like Michael shooting someone in the head, than spending my days in the gym working on my six-pack like the Situation. Also, although I hate to admit it, I find myself more turned on by that bag of nuts played by Diane Keaton, than by the big busted bimbo that shares my nick-name, Pookie. So sue me.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

There seems to be a slight let up in the rains that brought flooding to the north of Thailand. The past few days have been sunny and hot allowing me to swim in the health club pool again.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

“Perhaps I should try to explain things,” volunteered the old man.

“Yes, please try,” responded Vince sarcastically.

“As you probably know,” he began. “People like me in government service are hired to keep an eye on threats to the nation.”

“Spy on us you mean.”

“Yes, if you must describe it that way. We are required to analyze and report to the civilian authorities threats to the nation.”

“Who decides these threats? And what does this have to do with me,” said Vincent Biondi, now becoming more agitated and beginning to pace back and forth,

“Ah yes, who decides? That is always the question, isn’t it. Well, we generally try to discern if there is possible violence associated with the perceived threat, foreign influence or fraud. I am sorry but that aspect of the business is not scientific and unfortunately subject to ones political or psychological biases, and that often leads to problems.”

“That’s for sure,” interjected Vince. “So where is this leading us? I have a law firm to run and should get back to doing it instead of speculating on moral abilities of the spy business,”

“Well, we will get to your role in a minute. Some of us in the ah, “business,” see a threat not from foreign enemies but from within our country.”

“Like Communists?”

“Well, sort of, but in this case certain home-grown radical religious groups that appear to have adopted some of the rhetoric and policies of previous enemies of the country for which we fought World War Two.”

“So what? You know, free speech and all of that, even if it is crazy.”

“Yes, it could be a grey area, but we have reason to believe that this one in particular has engaged in violence and other illegal activities to further its cause and that you wittingly or unknowingly have stepped into the middle of their program right up to your neck.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Sowa’s law of standards“Whenever a major organization develops a new system as an official standard for X, the primary result is the widespread adoption of some simpler system as a de facto standard for X.”


(Hooray for common sense.)

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels, only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

Some esoteric Jewish traditions hold that God is hermaphroditic in nature, and that Adam was originally a hermaphrodite. This is based on a reading of Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This theme is developed with great detail in the Kabbalah; For instance see this passage from the Kabbalah Unveiled. Rabbi Samuel-bar-Nachman is quoted by Carpenter as saying, “Adam, when God created him, was a man-woman (androgyne)”. Maimonides (ibid.) is quoted likewise: “Adam and Eve were created together, conjoined by their backs.”

Sounds reasonable to me. But does God still have a beard? If not what do we do with all those pictures and statues?


d. You must be a Republican ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/) if you believe that:

“Torture is necessary for the defense of American freedom but the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures is not.”

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

A study conducted in Sweden gave women testosterone boosts in order to foster more risky behavior in them but… nothing.
The study gave rise to a theory that women should perhaps be in more control of global stock markets than men in order to make markets safer.
Source: Nature

What’s wrong with putting them in charge of everything and making the whole world safer?

TODAY’S QUOTE:

We, the free indigenous peoples of Europe, hereby declare a pre-emptive war on all cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites of Western Europe. … We know who you are, where you live and we are coming for you,…We are in the process of flagging every single multiculturalist traitor in Western Europe. You will be punished for your treasonous acts against Europe and Europeans.
Anders Behring Breivik.

My old college acquaintance Pat Buchanan says this is a good thing. Have you hugged a white man today? Have you recently struck a blow against the non-European hordes? We’re watching.

But, but we all came out of Africa by way of the near east…does this mean that…that they might be the actual “indigenous peoples of Europe?” Oh my god!

TODAY’S CHART:


And guess what? The recently announced Debt Ceiling/Debt Reduction deal does none of this. I love democracy.

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. July 14, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

Most recent post: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/pookies-platform-slowing-the-growth-of-government-and-reducing-the-national-debt/

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1000 BC. The Giant hutia ( Elasmodontomys oblique) a giant rat weighing as much 500 lb., or more and native to Puerto Rico, goes extinct.

However, I have it on good authority that he emigrated to New York City to open up a chop shop to sell repainted stolen automobiles into Spanish Harlem. —Are there still such things as chop shops? Is there still a Spanish Harlem in NYC?

Recently Terry Goggin told me he is considering opening up a new restaurant in the Williamsburg section. I remember when you only went to Williamsburg to get mugged. People go there to eat now? What’s next, this generation of yuppies or whatever they are now called moving into Bed-Sty?

Have things changed so much? Or, am I still living on Mott Street in Little Italy in the 60s? Is there still a Little Italy?

This must be how the world ends, we lose even our memories. Or to paraphrase Elliot, we go whimpering off into the Spanish Harlems and Little Italies of our dreams.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. The assault on the newly elected government’s campaign proposal to raise the minimum wage for Thai workers to $10 per day has begun even before the new government has been certified to assume office. Economic collapse is predicted by the business community.

2. The Nation, a Thai english language tabloid’s headline screams that the incoming government is “Rattled” by the failure of the Thai Election Commission to “endorse” the presumed incoming head of the newly elected government. Later on in the article, we learn that it always has been the policy of the Election Commission to delay endorsement of any candidate against whom a complaint has been lodged until the allegations have been resolved. The article also points out that the leader of the opposition party’s election endorsement has similarly been delayed.

3. No word yet in the english language newspapers regarding any moves by the military. They may be simply awaiting clarification by Yingluck the incoming prime minister of the new government’s initial actions affecting the military leaderships interests. Or, it could signify that an accommodation has already been made between Yingluck and her brother, the exiled former prime minister Thaksin and the military to preserve the status quo in the current command.

Certain members of the army leadership led the coup against Thaksin while he was Prime Minister five years ago, in significant part because he had moved to install his own people, Thaksin, from his exile in Abu Dhabi has said that he had learned his lesson and now is promoting “national reconciliation” as a primary policy goal of the new administration.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I have settled back into the usual routine of my life in Bangkok Thailand, a morning walk to the gym for exercise and a swim, lunch at the tiny restaurant near my apartment where I play at my computer for a few hours, then back home for a nap, dinner, additional computer time and then to sleep.

My apartment is located on a sort of a cul-de-sac just off of Soi Nana near to where I used to live with Hayden before my recent trip to the US and Italy. It is on the fourth floor of one of two six or so story buildings that bracket the cul-de-sac.

The buildings generally house young women, often two or so to a room who work in the nearby bars and clubs on Soi Nana and a diverse collection of farangs seeking low cost accommodations close to the same young women, bars and clubs.

I have a single air conditioned room, toilet and small balcony that overlooks the local expressway. As is usual with many apartments in Thailand, there is no hot water. One usually purchases a small electrical device that attaches to the pipes and heats the water but I have chosen not to, preferring instead to take my showers in the afternoon when the tropical sun warms the water pipes enough to provide adequately for my needs (my contribution to energy conservation I guess).

The room comes with a bed containing a Thai mattress; that is, a mattress so hard that even the little masseuse choses to sleep on the floor. She claims the floor is cooler and softer.

I am comfortable here, it is centrally located and familiar. Nevertheless, I hope soon to resume my more pleasant accommodations again at Paradise by the Sea.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Author’s notes:

a. I have written about 18,000 words of this first draft of the novel so far. That works out to about 36 pages at 500 words per page. Given that a typical American mystery novel is usually about 200 or so pages long, I have a long way to go yet. Of course, when I go back over what I have written so far for my first revision I can always add those descriptive passages and stray bits of information that authors like to add to their novels to fill it out. For example, if one were to remove all the florid descriptive passages of the Louisiana Bayous that make James Lee Burkes novels so wonderful, you could end up with something like this:

Dave Robechaux got up and went out of his house where he saw someone putting the make on his adopted daughter Alfair (or whatever). He immediately punched the guy out, breaking his jaw. Clete drove up, threw the guy in the trunk of his car intending to dump him into a Bayou after stopping to buy some beer. Dave fed his adopted daughter’s three legged raccoon. While the raccoon was eating, Dave saw the ghosts of Confederate soldiers marching through Bayou Teche and thought it was time for him to go back to bed.

b. I have been writing this thing for about six months now. At this rate, it could take me almost 5 years to reach 200 pages, that is probably longer than it took to paint the Sistine Ceiling. What with running for President, operations, world travels, lethargy, various blogs, ennui and depression, walks on the beach, baby sitting, BBQs and the like, delays probably can be expected. I shall try to speed thing up in the future. Then again I may not.

c. I have introduced about 12 characters so far. Unless they are Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens of Lewis Carroll most authors are satisfied with about 10. I probably will introduce about 10 more before eliminating at least that many in the next revision. So far, I am somewhat disappointed in my characters. David, who I originally thought would be the villain of the piece, is turning into a sniveling, frightened gofer. Our hero Vince is anything but anyone’s idea of a hero. The other chief protagonist, Isabella, resembled those stuffed witches in Haunted House carnival rides always popping out at odd times, shouting boo and then jumping back to wherever she came from. I had high hopes for Ike, him being a Nero Wolfe type character and all, but he seems to be unable to gain any traction. Recently, I introduced “Big Bill” who by popular demand is now to be known as Florian “Big Flo” McWerter. It appears that Big Flo has big problems. Probably bigger than either he or I can deal with. I may have to have him killed off to unravel things.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions besides give it up?

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Muphry’s law — states that, “if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written”. The name is a deliberate misspelling of “Murphy’s law.”


I never critisize.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“One of the most important goal for any democratic government should be to avoid removing risk from enterprise. Yet, it currently appears that the only function of government is to shield enterprise from risk.”

c. Testosterone Chronicles:

Researchers tested over 500 MBA students and they found that testosterone levels, together with risk aversion, could predict long-term career choices and financial decisions. Those who had high levels of testosterone and weren’t very risk averse, “were more likely to choose risky careers in finance.”
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A and the Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society

I take it from this, that those “Masters of the Universe” directing the financial well being of the nation have similar testosterone profiles to Kamikaze pilots)

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Home is heaven and orgies are vile,
But I like an orgy, once in a while.”
~Ogden Nash, Home, 99 44/100% Sweet Home

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thia and that from re Thai r ment, bt 3Th. July 12, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

English: First Battle of Bull Run, chromolitho...

First Battle of Bull Run, chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison 

TODAY’S FACTOID:

July 21, 1861. The First Battle of Bull Run, a victory of the Confederate army under Johnston over the forces of the United States under McDowell.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

I have returned to Thailand and am still struggling with the ravages of jet lag. I have not read a Thai newspaper yet so I have nothing pithy to report. It is, however, somewhat refreshing to return to a society where the populace knows their politics are corrupt and seek general advantage wherever possible and leave one where the populace denies their politics are corrupt but all seek individual advantage.

Since I wrote the above I have had a chance to glance at the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s major english language newspaper.

For the first time since his removal from office by a military coup, a photograph of the smiling former prime minister Thaksin appears in full color on the front page above the fold. I assume he is smiling because, although he remains in exile in Abu Dubai having been convicted in absentia, his party (the party of the so-called Red Shirts) led by his youngest sister had just won an absolute majority in the Thai legislature.

The accompanying article was appropriate ubiquitous as befitting the editorial staff of a newspaper whose publisher was an opponent of the previously fallen prime minister. So, this is how reconciliation begins.

In a column on the editorial page of the same newspaper, the apparent lone dissenting voice points out that the election should not be considered a win for Thaksin’s party because they expected to win 300 out of the 500 seats in the legislature instead of the 265 they did win.

He then goes on to anoint the real winner in the election, a porn and massage parlor operator who headed up his own party and was expected to win only one seat actually won 4. He, according to the columnist, is anticipated to be a major voice in opposition in the new legislature.

I resist the urge to compare and comment on the anti-pornography pledge being circulated in the current US campaign.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Nothing to report from here yet except long periods of restless sleep followed by equally long periods of fatigue. Vittorio, Anita and Vittorio’s aunt arrive in Thailand on about the 22 of July to visit with Anita’s relatives. They then travel to Paradise by the Sea for two weeks were I shall join them.

This morning I left my apartment to spend my first day at the health club since I left about three months ago. After walking a bit, I realized I had left my hat back in the apartment. I experienced a sudden attack of anxiety, fearing that without it I would not be recognized.

At the club after a lengthy negotiation over membership rates, I went for a swim in the pool. I am completely out of shape and could only complete three laps.

One last item about Italy: one Sunday our hosts held a BBQ party at the farm for about 50 or so of their closest friends. There was a lot of meat eaten and wine drunk. I spent the evening in delightful conversation with an economics teacher at the local American AF base who tried mightily but gently to temper my opinions.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

The McWilliams Building is a remnant of those buildings dotting the City that survived the great earthquake and fire. Steuart Street is a short block long string of these buildings. Like the others, the McWilliams Building has undergone substantial renovation and like the others contains a high price restaurant on its ground floor.

It is six stories, clad in brick and cross braced with the latest technology on earthquake safety construction techniques. On the top floor on what was the roof of the historic building is a glass enclosed space containing Big Bill’s glass and steel decorated personal office with its magnificent view of San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena and treasure Islands, the now elegant freeway free Embarcadero and the East Bay cities and hills. The Site also contains Bill’s private conference room also with the same splendid view.

Bill’s long-suffering but still attractive secretary’s desk sits before the glass enclosed door and wall to Bill’s office. Although the magnificent view is also available to her through the glass wall and over Bill’s glass desk and various expensive sculptures with little merit other than cost, her chair and desk face to other way and view only a refurbished brick wall and a Chagall print. The suite contains a personal bathroom for Bills use,(His secretary uses the lavatory in the offices on the floor below) a small kitchen and store-room and brick windowless room occupied by Bill’s go-fer and part-time chauffeur.

The floor below connected by a spiral staircase contains the company offices. The two floors below that are occupied by the law firm of Marcus and Perry, a firm with extensive contacts with city and state governments that has housed several local political notables, before and after their time in office. The firm provides Bill with most of his legal (and political) assistance. One of the things Bill likes about the firm besides its proximity and dependence is also has flourishing sport law practice. It always stroked Bill’s not insubstantial ego to have notable local sports figures drop by for a chat and some advice which Bill was always ready to give. They also were even more gullible investors in Bill’s schemes then doctors.

Below the law offices Bill rented out the least desirable floor at a discount to a group of non profits, selected by Bill to represent as full a range of interest groups that in other circumstances could conceivably oppose one of Bill’s projects, an art group, a LGBT group, and small environmental group concerned with endangered plants, a homeless lobby, and so on.

Bill strode into his office, stood before the magnificent view but did not look at it. Bill was worried. Later today, in the early afternoon he was scheduled to appear at the Federal Building in the local office of the Department of Justice as a “Person of Interest” in questions about his activities in Red Star.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

Gödel, Escher, Bach

Gödel, Escher, Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a. Eponymous laws:

Hofstadter’s law“It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” It was created by Douglas Hofstadter in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach.

I bet you thought you would have finished reading this by now.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“A Market is something that one goes into to buy groceries and usually has a prefix affixed to it like “super”. Everything else is a casino.

c. You must be a Republican ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/), if you believe that:

The earned income tax credit that rewards the lowest wage earners in the nation is an unwarranted redistribution of income, but lowering the capital gains credit on unearned investment income is not.

d. Testosterone Chronicles:

In one study, researchers found that men with increased testosterone “were 27% less generous towards strangers with money they controlled.” Men with lower levels of testosterone were significantly more generous than men with more testosterone.
Source: Plus One

(This explains it, conservatives are testosterone poisoned.)

e. The Mac Attack:

“All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate (and history is full of examples to support them) that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself; but time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.”
Niccolo Machiavelli – Discourses of the first 10 books of Titus Livius – Chapter 111.

(What, no invisible hand to make everything turn out right in the end? )

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

To Greg: While I borrowed part of your name and profession, the character is my own invention.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“You can’t have everything… where would you put it?”
~Steven Wright

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

Preparing for the BBQ:

Nona on her tractor:

So long Tamai:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. July 9 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2011: The State of the US Airline industry:

— The peak of US airline employment was in 2000, with more than 650,000 Americans working for an airline. Since then, based on government statistics, US airlines have cut nearly 150,000 employees.

— More than 30 percent of US airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during the 2000-2010 decade (i.e., 30 percent of airline shareholders were wiped out).

— Many new jobs for pilots will be with “state-owned airlines”; it is forecasted that, “by 2029, 68 percent of air traffic volume will be from the emerging economies in such countries and regions as Asia, Brazil, India, and the Middle East.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.

As I mentioned in a previous e-mail, the state of the US airline industry is evidence that the 9/11 terrorists may have achieved their goal to wreck the American economy by banking on the American political establishment’s overreaction to their attack, driving the American economy into the gutter. The death of Bin-Laden does not alter that, nor does it change the fact that as regrettable and horrid as it is, his strategy seems to be working. American conservative leadership (Republican and Democratic alike) will continue to blame it on the unions, food stamps, illegal immigrants, the civil service, or almost anyone else other than themselves.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

English: In January 2009, President of the Uni...

 In January 2009, President of the United States of America, George W. Bush invited then President-Elect Barack Obama and former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter for a Meeting and Lunch at The White House. Photo taken in the Oval Office at The White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The liberal wing of the Democratic Party continuing their tradition, extending back about 50 years, of turning on the person they helped elect President because he failed to deliver on their favorite single issue, thereby more often than not assuring his defeat, have turned on Obama. Despite shepherding through a balky Congress the most progressive agenda since Lyndon Johnson, the liberal élite are furious at learning that Obama actually is the liberal leaning centrist he said he was during election and not the fire-breathing leftist ideologue they imagined him to be in their mad rush to defeat a representative of the previous administration that they helped elect and then abandoned for committing the unforgivable sin of political realism.

On the right, on the other hand the Republicans seem to almost always forgive their leaders for recognizing political reality or, god forbid, actually doing something right among the stream of disastrous policies that so please their rank and file (e.g., Nixon on the Environmental Quality Act, Reagan surprisingly on Social Security). Only George W. Bush seemed bereft of a single socially positive domestic policy initiative and yet despite the almost universal recognition among even those on the right that his policies were a disaster for the nation and his Party, virtually no significant criticism of either him or his policies emerged from the conservative press.

The liberal journalist icon , Frank Rich in the NY Times recently has written:

The president’s failure to demand a reckoning from the moneyed interests who brought the economy down has cursed his first term, and could prevent a second.”

Never has a conservative journalist so blithely abandoned their leader because of a failure of ideology or policy. If that were not so, George W. Bush would never had won a second term.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND)ITALY:

Vittorio and I continued on to Barcis, a picturesque little town by a lake nestled in the mountains at the edge of the Dolomite. We walked about a bit then returned home.

On Sunday, we returned with Hayden. Vittorio’s band, “The Tamai Friends of Music” was featured at the festivities accompanying rowing races on the lake at Barcis. I had bought Hayden a tin whistle in Venice that he happily and forcefully played along with the band until the conductor asked him either to stop or get up on the stage and join them.

A few days earlier, Nikki arrived at the farm. He had a couple of days off between flights. We took the train to Venice specifically to see the model boats exhibited at the naval museum at the Arsenale. Of course, when we arrived it was closed. Otherwise Venice was, well Venice; the food was awful and the people obnoxious but the City looked wonderful.

We had lunch (actually just snacks and wine) at the only place I found where the proprietor appeared to welcome us. As could be expected she was not Venetian but was a Brazilian immigrant married to an Italian. I drank too much wine and struck up a lively conversation with two English spinsters sitting at the next table. (To those feminists among us, there lacks a more suitable description to this throwback to those fiercely independent Victorian woman, usually from England, who strode the world in pursuit of social justice, striking fear into any malefactors of moral impropriety.) One had recently moved to Treviso and the other was visiting her from her home in London. They both were committed socialists, but agreed to support my candidacy for President. Upon leaving the café a little tipsy, I walked into the easel that held the osteria’s menu sign and broke it to bits.

If you would chance to be in Venice in the future, the name of the place is Osteria alla Ciurma at S. Paulo 406 Rialto, calle della Galeazza just far enough from the Rialto to allow its food to be edible. Do not mention that you know me. However, if the spinsters are there (it is their favorite place in Venice) say hello to them for me.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

On the way back to the office Vince asked Ray how he knew what to do about the photographer and about the note.

“Before I became a legal sec… er administrative assistant, I worked for a private eye.”

“No kidding, who did you work for?”

“Al Pischotti.”

“Fat Al! You worked for Fat Al? How come I did not know about it and why didn’t you tell me when I asked you to assist him?”

“I thought you knew. It was on my resume. I guess you did not have a chance to look at it.”

When they arrived back at the office Nina was waiting with a grim smile playing at her lips. “The Great One arrives tonight. She wants to meet with you tomorrow after finishing some meetings with clients. She suggested dinner at “TWO”.”

Of course, “TWO” was one of the most expensive restaurants in town, lighting too dark to see across the table and portions so small one had to stop and get a hamburger on the way home or risk starving before morning.

The Great One is how most people in the firm referred to the managing partner of the Brussels office. Arabella Le Grande is her actual name. A few that know her well call her Arrogant Bella.

“Also,” she continued not giving him time to groan, “David is in your office waiting for you to return. It’s terrible about Mrs. Coign everyone is very upset. First Mr. Coign then his wife. What a shame.”

___________________________________________

William “Big Bill” McWilliams had just exited his chauffeur driven Bentley and started across to sidewalk towards his office building on Steuart Street in San Francisco when he was blindsided by another pedestrian who obviously was not paying attention to where she was going.

“Dammit, why don’t you…” he began before noticing that his assailant was a most beautiful young woman almost as tall as he was, wearing a very short skirt, large hoop earrings, and a scoop necked blouse exposing the promise of large soft rounded breasts below. Seamlessly he lowered his voice almost one octave to produce that sonorous sound that earned him the additional sobriquet among some as “Golden Throat”. “…ah, excuse me miss, it was all my fault, I should have been more careful. Let me make up for my clumsiness by buying you a cup of coffee”.

“No,no” she said in her deep throaty sexy voice, “It was all my fault. I was in too much of a hurry for my meeting. I wasn’t looking where I was going. I am in a bit of a hurry right now.” She looked at him for a moment with her calm eyes, glanced at the Bentley that had driven off and now was awaiting the change of signals at the stop light on the corner, smiled a broad sparkling smile and added, “But I would take a rain check on that coffee.”

Big Bill, ego aflame, reached into the left hand pocket of his suit jacket where he always kept a few of his overwrought business cards containing besides his name and his office number clear evidence that he was the owner of several businesses, plucked one out and handed it to her, “Here is my number. Please call. I will look forward to it.”

She took the card, smiled, saluted him with it and walked off.

He watched her for a moment, then turning off his smile, walked into the small elegant lobby of the “McWilliams Building.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Philosophical ruminations:

One evening before going to sleep I asked Hayden if there was any questions he wanted answered. He said, “Yes, I know I come from my mommy and she came from her mommy and her from her mommy (Apparently his mother left him with the impression that males have no role in the procreation process, being restricted only to working and providing money.), but,” he continued, “I don’t understand where it all ends.”

So I launched into a lengthy explanation of evolution and modern scientific thought on cosmology.

When I finished he said, “I think I understand. But, what I really want to know is if this was before or after God died?”
b. Testosterone Chronicles:

Young male CEOs appear to be combative… [as] a result of testosterone levels that are higher in young males. Testosterone… has been shown to influence prospects for a cooperative outcome of the ultimatum game. Specifically, high-testosterone responders tend to reject low offers even though this is against their interest.”
Source: Social Science Research Network

(Combative or bags of nuts?)

c. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

(1) I guess I have to apologize for something. So, I apologize for my continued political harangues. Unfortunately, whenever I hear those bells of Boston ringing, I just want to run and warn the British that the Colonists are coming to shoot them for trying to take away our guns. Thankfully, our four fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and the good Roosevelt) worked tirelessly to eliminate slavery at the founding of our country. Ah, I just cannot help myself.

(2) According to Wikipedia, the town referred to in the previous post as Veneto later changed to Vittorio Veneto in honor of the Italian victory there in WW I was actually named Vittorio with the Veneto added to commemorate the victory.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Law enforcement on Obama’s watch rounded up 393,000 illegal immigrants last year and zero bankers.”
Matt Taibbi.

The question for the 2012 election is could any candidate running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency do as well for the right-wing of their party on either issue as the incumbent?

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

Hayden, flute-less in Barcis, watching “The Tamai Friends of Music”:

The boat races on the lake at Barcis:

Pookie in Venice:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. July 4, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

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

TODAY’S FACTOID:

8th Century: Ivar the Boneless, a Danish leader began his conquest and colonization of England.

Remember not every conqueror requires a name that strikes fear in the enemy some succeed by having their opponents die laughing.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) ITALY:

As long as I am in Italy, I thought I would skip the charts I have normally posted here demonstrating, over and over again, the dire straights the US (and the world) has found itself in and write something about the country in which presently I am idling away my time,

Since I have not kept up on Italian current events, I thought I would venture into some history of the area around the farm on which I temporarily reside, the Veneto and Friuli area of Northeastern Italy. Specifically the battles of WW I that brought this area into the then Kingdom of Italy

Following the disastrous defeat and collapse of the Italian Army at Caporetto a year before that I mentioned in the previous “Today’s Factoid” the supreme commander of the Italian military forces was cashiered and a new general staff put in place.

Battle of the Piave River

Battle of the Piave River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Italian army was reconstituted with troops and officers from other parts of Italy and rushed north to the River Piave, a few miles from Venice, to form a defensive line about 140 kilometers west of Caporetto. The Piave was a river on a semi-arid outwash plain and drained the Dolomites, and the foothills to the Alps. Rejecting advice that the Italian forces retreat even further south, the new Italian general in charge, named Armando Diaz, believed that the Austro-Hungarian troops were exhausted from their rapid advance from Caporetto. Their supply lines he reasoned were stretched so thin that along with the effects of the Allied blockade of Germany’s ports, they effectively limited the supply of men and material to the army of the Central Powers in the quantity necessary for a prolonged campaign. In addition, the Piave River bed was generally a wide stoney generally empty expanse providing clear sight lines and with the river bisecting it, it seemed to him a relatively strong position to defend.

The war on the Western front (essentially France and Belgium) for the past few years had degenerated into a contest between the homicidal maniacs on the Allied side (France, Britain and recently the US) and their counterparts from the Central Powers (Primarily Germany) to see how many of their troops they could slaughter by pitting flesh against machine guns in a futile attempt to gain a few yard of militarily worthless ground, a strategy a grammar school child could soon recognize as silly. While both Britain, France and Germany were gradually exhausting themselves by the horrendous loss of manpower and material, the interjection by the US of the almost unlimited supply of cannon fodder and war material, although not actually altering the war on the ground, prompted the German High Command, which in general was smarter than their counterparts among the allies, to realize that they will exhaust their men and material sooner than their opponents.

Map of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, in which...

Map of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, in which the Italian Army decisively defeated the Austro-Hungarian invader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The southern flank of the war was fought basically by Italy on behalf of the Allies and the Austro-Hungarian Empire on behalf of the Central Powers. It was somewhat more mobile, but no less wasteful of men and material and if it were at all possible conducted by general staffs even more homicidal and less competent that their Western and Germanic allies. (To be continued…)

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) ITALY:

Having introduced ourselves to this family of strangers and having completed a pleasant tour of the farm we settled down to dinner with SWAC assisting in the cooking. Our hosts make their own wine from their vineyards and manufacture their own pressed meats such as pancetta, sopressa and salami. While the region is noted by gourmets for its cheeses (Parmigiano) the local variety of which is even more piccante, pressed meats (prosciutto) and wines, its basic cuisine is much less distinguished than that further south or west, consisting mostly of overcooked meats, bland pasta and beans.

We slept that night in various rooms vacated for our use. The next morning Nikki left to return to Milan. That evening SWAC cooked a portion of the meal. The following day, I guess tiring of domestic activities SWAC skipped lunch for an exercise session at the local health club, then meeting a male patron of the club, she also excused herself from joining us at dinner preferring to spend that time with her new friend rather than at the farm. The next day she departed for Milan and then on to Thailand leaving Hayden and I in the company of these strangers, albeit pleasant and enjoyable ones. She promised to return by the end of the month or so.

We enrolled Hayden in a local sport camp run by Vittorio’s sister and her husband, italy’s judo team coach. Every morning I drop him off at the camp and then spend the remainder of the morning sitting in a café in Tamai searching for stray wi-fi signals, drinking coffee and sipping prosecco.

One evening Vittorio invited me out for a night on the town and to accompany him to the rehearsal of one of his ensembles.

We traveled to Sacile and stopped first at Lucia’s bar where I met an American named Brian, originally from South Dakota, married to a Korean woman and living in Sacile. He worked as a chemistry teacher in the school at the local US air force base. While we conversed, Vittorio and Lucia’s boyfriend, who I was informed was a local architect and who always wore a dark suit, white shirt unbuttoned at the top and at the sleeves, a three days growth of a dark beard and stringy hair, argued over how best to free up the bar’s security gate that had jumped its tracks.

Later, after the gate was repaired and Lucia closed up her place, Vittorio, Brian and I strolled to another café operated by an extremely short stocky woman in a jeans jacket. One of the regular patrons of the bar was a man suffering from the same disfiguring disease as the “Elephant Boy.” He had a deep melodious voice and upbeat manner. I still found it difficult to look at him without staring. He also had a bitching, pimped out gigantic silver and chrome motor scooter that appeared larger than a Harley and probably producing more horsepower .

After drinking a few more glasses of wine, we accompanied Brian home to his condo building. It had originally been a centuries old villa on to which was grafted seamlessly a modern extension. He showed us the building’s modern garage equipped with elevators upon which to stack the cars and then gleefully demonstrated its use.

Vittorio and I then went to the rehearsal Hall where Vittorio’s ensemble practiced. The town, small as it is, had a building dedicated exclusively to music.

Vittorio’s group was called the Sacile Symphonia.

Actually, it consisted of about eight saxophone players one of whom also played the alto and bass sax, and two tuba players one of whom doubled on the trombone. It also had a trio of trumpet players, the oldest of which, a man who appeared to be in his mid eighties, was the soloist. A somewhat overweight young woman played the drums and other percussion instruments with gusto. Sometimes she would get carried away on a riff driving the rest of the ensemble into silence until she finished and sheepishly apologized. An elderly man with white hair and dressed in a dark suit and tie looking more like a professor than a musician played the flute. Next to him sat a very thin middle-aged woman whose role I could not determine as she appeared to play no instrument what so ever. Rounding out the players was a young man strumming on an electric guitar.

The conductor, appropriately alternatively dictatorial and put upon, managed the session with vigor.

They played a lively version of Glen Miller’s “In the Mood,” a couple of American show tunes and several marches before calling it a night.

After practice Vittorio and I returned to the farm. (To be continued…)

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

My sincerest apologies to my devoted readers who wait anxiously for the latest installment of the trials and tribulations of Vince and Isabella that alas once again I must ask their forbearance in another delay. Unfortunately, my garrulous investment in other sections of this post, I fear will leave the reader too exhausted to wade through another red herring.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

I think here I should interrupt my usual narrative and share with you (well to be honest, impose upon you) my recent musings about traveling.

My approach to traveling is somewhat like my approach to life; it is not arriving at your destination that is important but what happened along the way.

For example, assume that I depart from San Francisco intending to travel to, say Rome to visit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. If that is what I efficiently did and returned home equally efficiently, I for one would be unsatisfied indeed.

If on the other hand I were to depart on that same voyage and along the way be diverted by circumstances outside of my control or through my stupidity and thereby facing perhaps danger, or passion, beauty or tedium and return home without ever getting to see Michelangelo’s frescos (the chapel would probably be closed anyway, for repairs or for some obscure holiday), I would consider my trip a success.

I guess, one could consider it something like Buddhism, but from somewhat the opposite viewpoint. Where Buddhism urges one to withdraw from the unreality of perception, Pookieism suggests you revel in it.

When I look back into my own life, anytime I single-mindedly pursued a goal and overcame many obstacles to achieve it, I almost always came away dissatisfied, became depressed and soon decided to spend my time doing something else. On the other hand whenever I was diverted from my path, or failed in achieving my goal or found myself hopelessly lost, I often was overjoyed. Why, because there was so much experience, so much pathos and so much joy. And, oh the stories…

Yes, of course there were things that to this day I wish never happened and if I could, I would want not to have occurred, but they did and the exquisite, if odious, memories of the experience accompanies me like tattoos on the skins of generation Xers.

For those males of a certain age, some of you may recall that time when you were a kid and in you imagination played the announcer of your life. “The great slugger stands at the plate. Here comes the pitch. He swings. He misses….” Or, “Here is the world famous runner running through the woods. Will he break the record? Oh no! He trips. He falls. Will he be able to get up, finish the race and break the record? Stay tuned.”

Well, I still do that. “Here is the aging hero walking along the side of the road recalling past loves, triumphs and failures. Out of the corner of his eye he spies a small yellow flower, stops and contemplates its beauty for a moment and then walks on, crosses the street, the freshly painted striping glowing so whitely in the sun it hurts his eyes. Suddenly he remembers he forgot to buy that bottle of milk. Should he return to the store or proceed on toward home? He stands there at the edge of the road, like the brave Ulysses on the beach contemplating whether to return home to the aging but loyal Penelope or spend another night in the arms of the beautiful Calypso?”

Speaking of Ulysses, Homer’s account is not quite how it happened.

One night the short, bandy-legged, scraggly bearded young man named Ulysses, who lived in a subdivision on a small island in the Adriatic, left the home on a cull-de-sac he shared with his wife, young son, various hangers-on, and a pack of dogs, telling everyone he was going to the store to buy a carton of milk, or an amphora of wine or new sandals or whatever. Now twenty years later he stood on the corner of the block down from his old home, broke, hungry and older. He contemplated the excuses he would tell his wife for his long absence. He concocted stories about ships and strange wars, jealous gods, wooden horses, one-eyed monsters and to cover up the long periods of time he spent living with a succession of comely young women, he fell back on the tried and true excuse of philandering husbands of the time, bewitchment.

On the other hand, the also aging but still zaftig and supposedly loyal Penelope wanted no part of the smelly midget bastard’s return. She had happily spent the past 20 years screwing the Mexican pool boy and every young stud in town. The assholes return would only mean she would have to give up the good life and return to working on that Goddamn loom. Besides, she needed an excuse of her own to explain why for the last 20 years the same old piece of cloth hung on that machine with no further work done on it since he left. She told all her boyfriends that she would choose one of them to settle down with when she finished weaving the cloth. They were so stupefied with the thought of getting into her toga whenever she lifted her skirt for them they forgot all about the status of that rotting rag.

She believed however that she would need something better to convince the crafty asshole of her unbelievable 20 years of fidelity. She decided to elaborate on the story and planned to tell her returning husband, if unfortunately he should ever return, that she weaved at the loom all day and every night she tore out what she had done during the day. If the simple and unbelievable story had worked on her lovers why wouldn’t this expanded version work on that scheming lying bastard Ulysses?

Nevertheless, she still was surprised when the testosterone poisoned dwarf suddenly and unexpectedly showed up at her door and started killing all of her boyfriends and the Mexican pool boy as well.

Sadly, Penelope was forced back to working all day at the Goddamn loom and at night diddling herself while the drunken scumbag lay snoring among his dogs after buggering some prepubescent boy-chick.

As Holden Caulfield would say, “Crummy.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

If you cannot answer a man’s argument, all it not lost; you can still call him vile names.
~Elbert Hubbard

One of the most important rules for living a good life.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

Sacile Symphonia in rehearsal

Lucia with a mysterious young man.

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. April 9 2011

“Any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence is indistinguishable from God.”
Shermer’s Last Law

Could god actually be a gelatinous mass with six eyes?

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1934. Fascist plot to overthrow the US government bared.

American General Butler revealed a ‘Fascist Plot’ to seize government by force. He claimed a bond salesman, as representative of Wall St. group, asked him to lead an army of 500,000 in a March on Capital. In addition, Veterans of Foreign Wars commander James E. Van Zandt stated to the press that, “Less than two months” after General Butler warned him about the plot, “he had been approached by ‘agents of Wall Street’ to lead a Fascist dictatorship in the United States under the guise of a ‘Veterans Organization’ .”

Those bond salesmen, still did all-right. Not only did they eventually make trillions of dollars, but about 70 years after their initial inept attempt, they took over the US government anyway without firing a shot.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. Gender wars (more reasons to love science):

Although not strictly news about Thailand, a recent article in the Bangkok Post referenced a study conducted at Harvard or Oxford or someplace prestigious like that, where men and women’s brains were Cat scanned while they were looking at cartoons. The study concluded that women do not expect amusedment but receive great pleasure from it when they are. Men on the other hand expect the cartoons to be funny and are very disappointed when they are not.

This explains to me the reactions of the participants in the scenario where the husband on his way to shower passes the bed in which his wife is calmly enjoying reading a novel, drops his towel and sings out “Ta da” and proceeds on happily to the shower laughing to himself. The wife looks up briefly and unamused returns to her book feeling somewhat annoyed, wondering why she bothered marrying him in the first place.

Imagine, however, if at the moment of exposure, the wife looks up and calmly says, “Not now, I do not have my microscope with me.” The man would experience sudden and complete depression, if not deflation, and stomp off to the shower with thoughts of committing spousal abuse dancing in his head. On the other hand the wife would most likely smile and chuckling to herself return to reading her book. She may even feel a bit of guilty fondness and sympathy for the jerk.

The question remains, why do we even bother trying to live together?

b. Possible Military Coup in Thailand:

As a follow-up to my previous item regarding rumors of a possible military coup and the attempt by the Supreme Commander of the Thai armed forces to warn off any potential military plotters, the newspapers today point out that this general, although nominally the head of all the Thai armed forces, has virtually no control over the Army. The Army was the wellspring of the most recent coups and is now, since the put down of the Red Shirt protests firmly in control of the hard-line members of the military represented by the graduates of a particular class of the Thai main military school. The Supreme Commander on the other hand is not considered a hardliner, is a member of the competing military class and is due to retire soon.

It all sounds ominous.

By the way, perhaps the planned purchase of the submarines is intended to restore some balance among the branches of the armed forces, or compensation for the Army’s purchase of tanks whose only purpose could conceivably be a coup, or a payoff to the navy by the army to remain neutral in any internal unrest.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Delayed because:
a. The rest of this email is already too long
b. I have in fact spent most of my time recently writing this, reading, sleeping and see c. below.
c. I am currently in Jomtien Beach sitting in the immigration office becoming terminally bored waiting for the issuance of my re-entry permit for my impending trip the US (I am number 183 they currently are servicing number 106. I arrived here at 8:30 AM it is now 11 AM. I will be here a while more I fear.)

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed pending evidence that anyone cares.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. The problem with economics today:

The physical theory that the creators of neoclassical economics used as a template was conceived in response to the inability of Newtonian physics to account for the phenomena of heat, light and electricity. In 1847 German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz formulated the conservation of energy principle and postulated the existence of a field of conserved energy that fills all space and unifies these phenomena. Later in the century James Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann and other physicists devised better explanations for electromagnetism and thermodynamics, but in the meantime, the economists had borrowed and altered Helmholtz’s equations.

The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd—they substituted economic variables for physical ones. Utility (a measure of economic well-being) took the place of energy; the sum of utility and expenditure replaced potential and kinetic energy. A number of well-known mathematicians and physicists told the economists that there was absolutely no basis for making these substitutions. But the economists ignored such criticisms and proceeded to claim that they had transformed their field of study into a rigorously mathematical scientific discipline.

Strangely enough, the origins of neoclassical economics in mid-19th century physics were forgotten. Subsequent generations of mainstream economists accepted the claim that this theory is scientific.
Scientific American Magazine » April 2008 The Economist Has no Clothes, by Robert Nadeau.

b. Today’s book report:

I am currently reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book “Blood Rights” in which she postulates the source of the human lust for war is not, as has previously been believed, its prehistoric experience with hunting (too male-centered) but with humanity’s status as prey of the fearsome predators that hunted our predecessors soon after they first dropped down from the trees. I tend to agree with her that the great hunter myth is wrong, before we hunted we were prey. We scavenged and we ran away. As a result we, humanity, developed those human traits that we know so well, anxiety, suspicion and a pathological fear of the unknown or the different. It could perhaps be argued that the function of art, education and knowledge is to reduce the number of unknown things to be fearful of, replacing them with what we really should be fearful of, not what is out there but what is in us.

She goes on to suggest that actual warfare began in about 12,000 BC when with the world-wide disappearance of large mammalian herbivores and predators rendered the male hunter-defenders under employed. As a result they took to drinking, fighting, stealing from their neighbors and beating their wives. While I agree with the timing of disappearance of the large mammals, and the resulting anguish, it is just as likely that the urge to war was generated by the realization that taking your weaker neighbor’s food and resources was easier than the now extreme rigors and insecurity of the hunt. As a rule, humans always have been fairly easy prey. We just replaced the tooth and the claw of the great hunters of the jungle with human gangs with better weapons.

Unfortunately she seems to stray from her thesis a bit when she attempts to argue that her observations somehow justifies the erroneous contention of many feminists that women are just littler men who bear children.

She pictures the prehistoric women strapping their baby on to her back, throwing he dugs over her shoulder and leaping upon the menacing saber toothed tiger with equal if not greater ferocity then her male companions who, it might be added, are unburdened by either child or breasts. Mother Courage in animal skins.

Really now, do we need that image to prove that male chauvinism, is as muddle-headed as most males themselves.

While I am sure women joined in protecting the tribe as they tramped through the predator infested grasslands of north central Africa, in fact, given the short life span of these proto-humans and their omni-temporal sexual proclivities, most mature women of the tribe would be either pregnant or lactating. It would be foolish and unnecessary for them to be on the front line of danger except in the most dire of circumstances.

I think it is sufficient to recognize that from a species perspective woman are much more valuable than men. A tribe of 100 men and one woman will soon go extinct. A tribe of 100 woman and one man will probably survive. (This is not to deny the nigh probability that the sole representative of his or her sex in the suggested examples would soon die of exhaustion.)

In the battle for survival of the tribe from predation men are expendable, women are not. it could be argued that women are expendable in childbirth [just ask the Catholic Church and the Pentecostal mafia].Talk about giving up ones life for society, childbirth has taken a greater toll on women than all the wars of history have taken on men . If we are able to draw any genetic predisposition from the situation it is that men are conditioned to die often for no real reason while women are conditioned to survive and take care of themselves (that is why they are generally smarter than men). Until recently women had no choice but to give up her life for the benefit of the species in childbirth. Men have always had the choice of giving up their life in war even though most of them were too dumb or testosterone poisoned to realize it.

She also argues from the historical evidence of  existence of a number of ferocious goddesses, such as Kali, Artemis, the Gorgon and so on, that it somehow indicates in pre-historic times men acknowledged women could be as blood thirsty as they. While that is undoubtably true as history and the “Badass of the Week” website will attest, the conclusion that women are just like men or that they can and should do what men do does not follow. (If they want to do it, that’s another thing, foolish as that may be.) In her eagerness to right the wrongs imposed on women by male mythmaking, she is selling her gender too cheaply.

At one point where she dismisses the female goddesses of agriculture and fecundity as male constructs. She argues that the prehistoric figurines found throughout the much of the Eurasian continent that have been interpreted as fertility representations in fact merely reflected that women of the time were generally fat. She then wonders why depictions of men in cave paintings showing them a small and skinny with big penises are not considered fertility symbols also.

Nevertheless, the divisive intellectual conflict between feminism and male chauvinism aside, it seems to me the central problem with her theory of the genesis of war is the basic mistake that she and most other commentators (male or female) make when theorizing about the fundamental causes of armed conflict. They fail to differentiate between the psychological, social and genetic makeup of those who go off to fight in wars and those that send them there.

To me, humanity’s predisposition to warfare is explained not by simply whether they were originally predator or prey but by the fact that when they first dropped from those protective trees and trembling stood upright so that they were able see above the grasses of the veldt, they looked about for four things, predators, prey, sex and someone to do the dirty work or to take the fall.

Imagine if you will, a small band of proto-humans are set upon by a ravenous saber-toothed tiger. One of the men guarding the tribe turns to the one next to him and says, “Quick Smith run over there and punch that thing in the nose.”

Smith in his manly exuberance does so.

“Oh-oh” says the first man. “Too bad for Smith, brave of him though. Well, lets push on while the cat is busy with him.” He turns to the rest of the tribe as they prepare to run away and shouts, “We shall remember Smith’s sacrifice for all eternity.”

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” 
~H.L. Mencken

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

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