Posts Tagged With: Xenophon

This and that from re Thai r ment by 3Th. September 29, 2010

Today’s factoid: THE TRUE STORY OF MOCK DUCK

1900. Mock Duck leader of the Four Brothers and Hip Sing Tongs begins a gang war with Tom Lee’s much larger On Leong Tong over Mock Duck’s demand for 30% of Tom Lee’s gambling revenue in New York’s Chinatown.

1904 November 4 – Hip Sing Tong leader Mock Duck is wounded in a gunfight by three On Leong hatchet men near his Pell Street home.

(Apparently Mock Duck, when in a gunfight would squat down, close his eyes and fire off his two guns until he ran out of ammunition.)

1908 August 15 – The Tong war becomes even more violent after Low Hee Tong, a member of the Four Brothers Tong, purchases a rival Tong slave girl Bow Kum who is later murdered.

(you may want to click on Bow Kum above and read about her tragic story).

December 30 – Ah Hoon, a comedian

(apparently to his regret, the chinese version of Don Rickles)

and member of the On Leong Tong, is killed in his home by rival Hip Song members.

1912. Mock Duck is convicted of running a policy game and sentenced to imprisonment at Sing Sing Prison.

1913. A peace agreement is signed, with the exception of the Four Brothers, ending the gang war between the On Leongs, Hip Sings, and the Kim Lan Wui Saw Tongs.

1918. Tong leader Mock Duck, upon his release from Sing Sing Prison retires from crime.

1924. The gang war between the On Leong and Hip Sing Tongs begins again after several members of the On Leongs defect to the Hip Sings with a large amount of money.

1941. Mock Duck dies in bed of natural causes.

Today’s quote:

“And as to sexual desire, my body’s need is satisfied by what comes first to hand.”
Antisthenes, from The Economist by Xenophon.

Today’s news from Thailand:

The Bangkok Post reports that a pregnant Thai women went into a Thai hospital, where the baby was successfully delivered. Unfortunately, about 5 days after the delivery it was discovered that a nurse mistakenly stitched up the woman’s anus. The stitches were then removed, the woman relieved and an investigation begun.

Today’s medical chart:

I am not sure if this chart was intended to be posted on the examination room wall or used as a reference for some psychologist.

In reading it over I realized that I have succeeded in accomplishing everything listed on the chart often multiple times, except for Jail Term (unless nights in the drunk tank count) and Pregnancy for which I am unqualified. I wonder if one adds up the score from this chart and it totals more than 1000 will he or she win something, like two weeks in the rest home of your choice or a years supply of Valium?

Pookie’s continuing adventures in Thailand:

I spoke with Hayden for only the second time since he arrived in Sacramento. He sounded in good spirits. He was quite excited that, “Uncle Mask,” the owner of the house that he is living in, broke his ankle while walking the dogs. He also told me that he spends a lot of time picking his nose, but he hasn’t found any treasure yet.

The monsoon rains are still with us. They have honored us with their presence for the last three days, forcing me back into my apartment to watch reruns of old Simone Signoret movies on the french channel.

Today’s attachment:

So far the responses to my request for advice on which work in progress I should begin with to send you as an attachment have been all over the lot. The irrepressible and always reliable eight ball in the corner pocket Shotz Man replied:

the petrillo email survey
Please mark by coloring red (BOLD) the selection(s) of which of the below you wish to be in effect

0 keep me on the list so that I may receive a copy of all of the petrillo emails.

0 keep me on the list so that I may receive all of the petrillo emails except the one’s asking for money.

0 keep me on the list for emails that contains only the tales of pookie;and maybe petey.

0 keep me off the list that contains gross descriptions of politicians, thai food, the man on the street, and fat german female tourists, fully closed or (worse) semi-nude.

0 keep me on the list for anything pornographic involving animals.

0 keep me on the list for anything about petrillo being arrested for being an american friend of the red shirts, or for that matter, shorts.

0 keep me off the list for anything that mentions “cuz I”, “irwin”, “schatzman”, or, “the master of written disguise”.

0 keep me off the list that contains an email from Nigeria asking for money.

Nevertheless, surprisingly I received strong support for beginning these attachments with excerpts from my political blog posts. My first attachment, therefore, is a discussion entitled “Populism and Fred Harris.” I originally published it back in April of this year. I thought it was the most polished and least controversial thing I could begin with.

I will follow that in my next email with some of the initial chapters of my mystery novel work in progress.

Ciao.
__________________________________________________

Populism and Fred Harris
by trenzpruca

This is my first attempt to write a diary for this venue. While I have made a living writing on behalf of my clients or for publication, it is normal for one to be timid and uncertain when attempting to enter a new arena and so it has been for me. After drafting and discarding several attempts to write what would appear to me to be a fitting and informative discussion, I turned to divert myself from escalating frustration by straightening out the papers that had accumulated over the years in various boxes and drawers. While doing so I discovered, The Fred Harris Campaign Handbook. It is probably the only remaining copy in existence.

For those not as old as me and for those who may have forgotten or missed it completely, Fred Harris briefly ran for President of the United States during the primaries of 1972 and 1976. In 1976, Jim Hightower was his national campaign manager and I was a volunteer on the California campaign tasked with preparing a handbook for his efforts in the California primary. The handbook was a collection of selections from the writings and speeches of Fred Harris arranged by topic so that campaign workers could respond to inquires about the candidate in his own words.

After rereading the contents of that long ago document from a now forgotten campaign, I realized how much of what Fred had to say remained relevant now despite the subsequent destruction of the historical American political consensus by the Californian and Texan presidential administrations. So I thought I would begin my diaries by examining some of the issues we face today in the light of what Fred Harris had to say about them 34 years ago.

But first a little about Fred Harris. Fred had been an US Senator from Oklahoma when that state still had a strong progressive populist tradition. Although he started out as a classic liberal, he eventually classified himself, and was in turn identified by the media, as a populist.

Populism deserves a diary of its own. It is a word often used in political discourse, but lacking a clear referent, is more a space filler than informative. For the purpose of this diary I believe it is probably sufficient to view Populism as a response by the populace of that time to specific perceived threats to their liberty and economic well-being.  Beyond dealing with those threats populism has little more to say.

What differentiates populism from the more ideological based political philosophies such as liberal, conservative, progressive, reactionary and libertarian is just that, ideology. Populism usually focuses on the current threats and has no ideology beyond dealing with them. It freely borrows responses to those threats from the proscriptions suggested by the more ideological political movements without acknowledgment of their philosophical underpinnings.

There are I believe at least two main types of Populist that I shall call Liberal/Progressive Populists and Conservative/ Libertarian Populists. Liberal/Progressive Populists tend to see the immediate threats to be from government as well as other large organizations, usually corporations or financial institutions. They often believe that government shorn of its threatening aspects can and should control the ravenous appetites of the other institutions.The Conservative/Libertarian Populist sees the current threat emanating primarily from government alone and may be relieved by the elimination of those specific governmental activities they object to. Fred clearly was the former and not the latter.
Let’s turn then to what Fred had to say in 1976 regarding an issue recently front and center of the political debate, health care.

“If you step north of the Canadian border, you have free medical care. No deductibles or co-insurance, no limits on hospital stays or how many times you see your doctor. When that system went into effect twelve years ago, there were those who said the hospitals would be hopelessly overcrowded. Not so, as people are getting preventive care, and as they’re entitled to care without having to be sick enough to go to the hospital.

If you step back across that boundary to the south, you find in this country-the richest country in the world the best medical care in the world for rich people, and awfully sorry medical care for a lot of people. We rank seventeenth among nations in infant mortality, which is a euphemism that means, ‘Your baby’s dead’. We don’t have to put up with that.

We ought to have a universal health care system, paid for out of the federal treasury, rather than an insurance system that might be regressive. There should be much more emphasis on group medical practice and preventive care. And a great more emphasis on paramedical personnel.”

(Fred Harris Campaign Handbook)

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.” (citation unnecessary). It has been 34 years since Fred’s proposal and although we have gotten a pretty good start on health insurance reform, we are still awaiting health care reform.

Fred goes on, in the continuation of the above quote, to address the baleful influence of doctor dominated institutions on attempts to make fairer and more effective the delivery of health care in the United States. In 1976 health care, for good or ill, was controlled primarily by doctors or doctor dominated institutions. It was those institutions such as the AMA that successfully resisted health care reform at the time.

In 1976, the Reagan and Bush fire sale of American institutions to Wall Street, insurance companies, energy corporations and the defense industries had not yet begun but once started, it effectively wrested the United States health care system from the hands of doctors and other medical delivery personnel and placed it in the willing hands of accountants, investment advisors and bankers.
It is interesting to note that Obama’s strategy of allying with the doctor and medical community was probably a major factor in achieving the level of reform that was obtained with the passage of the recent health reform legislation.

My next post shall examine Fred’s positions on Wall Street, a subject that makes the blood of all true populists quicken.

(This article first appeared in Daily Kos April 24 2010)

Categories: July 2010 through September 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. September 25, 2010

Todays factoid:

1589 The woman credited with introducing haute cuisine to France, Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henry II of France dies. When she arrived in France from Italy she brought with her ice cream, the fork and had a strong influence on the development of sophisticated dining in France.

(She also had a fondness for roasted Huguenots)

Today’s quote:

“Want prompts a thousand crimes, you must admit. Why do men steal? why break burglariously into houses? why hold men and women captive and make slaves of them? Is it not from want? Nay, there are monarchs who at one fell swoop destroy whole houses, make wholesale massacre, and oftentimes reduce entire states to slavery, and all for the sake of wealth. These I must needs pity for the cruel malady which plagues them. Their condition, to my mind, resembles that poor creature’s who, in spite of all he has and all he eats, can never stay the wolf that gnaws his vitals.”
Socrates in “The Economist” by Xenophon.

Today’s news from Thailand:

The Bangkok Post recently reported that the chairman of commission to revise the Thai constitution announced that the new document will not deal with either Political or Military reform.

Although in my opinion this should result in a very short document, the chairman estimated that the commission will take at least three years to produce the first draft.

Petrillo responds:

Some of you have enquired whether or not the dog in the photograph a few emails back was mine.

No, the dog I believe is Petey, the canine star in the “Our Gang” movies of the 1930-50’s who, following his illustrious career in cinema, retired to Thailand where at night he sits on the beach and stares at the surf.

Other’s of you have wondered why, in my most recent emails, I have wandered away from describing my wondrous adventures here in Thailand, writing fanciful tales instead.

The answer is that for the last few days I have suffered from an attack of ennui, a condition that makes one uninterested in doing anything different today than he did yesterday.

Yes, I know that is the normal condition of most people. But, I have always conducted my life like it was a rudderless boat blown about by any chance wind that may come about. Sometimes I land on a strange shore where I root about a bit until I foul my nest and move on. Other times I just drift aimlessly. Sometimes I feel as though I am floating through some great garbage dump in the ocean where the residue of past lives can be seen bobbing about.

It is interesting to compare the Great Pacific Garbage Dump with the Bermuda Triangle. In the Bermuda Triangle things go to disappear, it the Great Pacific Garbage Dump the past just floats up all around you.

For the past few weeks I have been bereft of even the hint of a breeze to fill my sails.

Pookie’s further adventures in Paradise:

Most day’s after breakfast I spend the mornings walking the 1000 paces that I read somewhere one should do as part of ones daily exercise. It seemed easy enough, so that is why I do it.

I usually try to walk barefoot in the sand on the beach. True, the gritty feel of the sand on my bare feet sets my teeth on edge and I am terrorized that I will inadvertently step on some sharp-edged detritus that will puncture my foot and cause pain, sickness and even death. Nevertheless, I believe walking on the sand allows me to exercise those small muscles in the foot and ankle upon which our ability to balance ourselves depends. Shoes, even those preceded by the word “athletic,” immobilize these muscles. So, I feel that if I am going to exercise anyway I should not ignore them.

This morning while on my way to the pharmacy to pick up my months supply of pills that prevent my prostate from expanding like a weather balloon, I passed by the skinny woman I wrote about in a previous email.

Although it is against my above mentioned philosophy to initiate contact of any kind, I had sort of hoped she would acknowledge me with a look or a nod that might be interpreted as that slight breeze in my sails, so to speak. But she took no notice of me.

On the way back I passed her again sitting on the sand. I was afraid that she might think I was stalking her and start screeching and embarrass me, but again I was ignored.

Today is my regular massage day so I happily avoided contemplating the winds of chance and settled for doing what I generally do on Fridays.

Yesterday I read Sheldon’s new novel “Perfect Alibi” in one sitting. For a story that has little of the kind of action one often sees in thrillers, (there are no shoot outs, no wild car chases, no terror and the like), Sheldon keeps the reader riveted to each page.

Today’s medical chart:

I have no idea what the medical specialty may be of the doctor displaying the attached chart in his examining room. If you do, please let me know.

Ciao

Categories: July 2010 through September 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. July 11 2010

Daily Factoid:408 AD Rome is attacked by the Visigoths who demand as part of their ransom 3000 pounds of black pepper.

Today the Bangkok Post reported that a number of Red Shirt men have been found dead or injured under mysterious circumstances.

Little of note here. Today I am off to Chiang Mai.

Recently I decided to reduce my happy pill dosage from one pill a day to two pills every three days. As a result, last night I could not sleep. I struggled with memories of choices made, paths not taken and failures perceived. I realized that I really always wanted to be a theater director. While in high school and college and for a while thereafter I did a bit of acting (I went to an all boy’s high school and I was not a good enough athlete to attract neighborhood girls but in the schools theater arts program the female roles were performed by girls from a nearby girls school. That appeared to be a better way of meeting them than God forbid actually going up and striking up a conversation ). In fact I received, along with my classmate Jon Voigt, (He was not a complete asshole then, only about 75% of the way.) a scholarship for acting, which I rejected because I thought being a stage actor was too sissy and motion picture performances at that time I thought, as did the studio heads and film directors, performing in films was not really acting. It wasn’t until after I went on to other things that the Actor’s Studio, Brando and the rest brought what then was considered acting to American movies.

Anyway after graduating from law school I was not convinced that I wanted to be a lawyer or that I was any good at it. In fact, law school was the only academic venue in which up until that time I had difficulty (I felt law school was destroying my mind). As long as I avoided subjects that required work, like mathematics (Another subject for which I rejected a scholarship – too much work), my reading habits enabled me to generally do well at exam time even if I failed to attend classes and turn in assignments.

Anyway, following law school I took a three-day aptitude assessment at NYU that indicated what I really wanted to be and what I seemed to have the aptitude for was an orchestra conductor. Since but for a few years studying the accordion I had no musical training, that career choice appeared to be beyond reach for me. The avocation that tested a distant second was for me to become an attorney in a social service agency (or a welfare case worker). In fact the only time I felt comfortable as a practicing attorney was my time spent at legal aid, the NY Mental Health Information Service and California’s Coastal Program. Had I intuited at that time and not last night 50 years later, that being an orchestra conductor and a theater director were in fact the same, my whole life might have been different.

Anyway during my thespian interlude I very much wanted to stage Elizabethan theater productions. Not Shakespeare which everyone was doing at the time but the other dramatists like Kyd, Marlowe, Johnson, Beaumont and Fletcher and so on.

Shakespeare’s stagecraft, at least in his historical dramas, I always thought was pedestrian. For example in Beaumont and Fletcher’s “The Night of the Burning Pestle”, begins as a standard war epic when suddenly from the audience a family of butchers and a few others begin heckling the actors and eventually take over the stage and redo the play as they would like it to be with their son as the hero. We did not do that type of thing in western theater until Pirandello.

Shakespeare’s comedies and so-called minor works were another matter. His inventiveness it them was astounding. I would however had considered producing his comedies and things like Coriolanus, Timeon,Cymbeline and Titus. If you have not seen Titus performed you should (a television movie was made of it a decade or so ago). Titus makes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre appear like a grammar school Christmas pageant.

Until I saw Branagh’s movies I always felt that the production of Shakespeare’s works contained too much movement to carry the impact of the words. Had I directed them at the time, I would have considered having the actors on stage dressed in street clothes standing by lecterns and reciting the lines with minimal movement when necessary for emphasis and plot clarification. They would however be allowed props (daggers, vials of poison and the like).

If anyone is wondering about where I stand on who wrote Shakespeare’s works, I always felt that it was a collaborative effort between Shakespeare and at least two others. The sheer volume of the works and the differences in stagecraft argue to me to be the work of several people.

It was during this time that I tried to write an Elizabethan style play based upon Xenophon and the 10,0000. For those unaware of this story, Alexander the Great got the idea that he could kick the shit out of the Persians from the experiences of Xenophon and his troops a generation earlier. It seems that after getting pasted by the Greeks during the Persian wars in places like Thermopylae, Marathon and the rest, the Persians realized Greek military technology was superior to theirs. The Greek Square formations and Hoplite soldiers armed with spears and short swords could not be penetrated by the Persian cavalry or human wave assaults. So they did what all good empires do, since they could not defeat them, they hired them. That is why Xenophon and his mercenaries marched off to Persia to fight on behalf of their recent enemy.

After some astonishing success the Emperor became frightened that his mercenary troops upon recognizing their true power would do what they often do, turn on him. So after one particularly significant success the Emperor invited the Greek generals over for a celebratory banquet with the intention of course of killing them. Xenophon, who said he had seen this movie before, refused to go but the other generals did and were…well you know. So Xenophon the following morning rallied the troops and spent the next 10 years kicking Persian ass as they struggled to return to their Attica home. They succeeded and Xenophon wrote a best seller that Alexander read and the rest is history as told by the victor as we have grown to know and love it.

Anyway my play was to be about that fateful night of the party. It was written in blank verse. Unfortunately I did not realize at the time that it would have been much better to use someone more modern like Whitman instead of the Elizabethans as my poetic model. It did not matter, because after I had written about half the play I became so ashamed of my amateurish and pedestrian effort that I threw it out as I have felt ashamed and thrown out science projects, novels, poetry, love affairs, friends, careers, wealth and so on throughout my life.

Then I realized I am too old to feel embarrassed any more, and with that I fell asleep.

Ciao

Categories: July 2010 through September 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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