Letters (Nov. 9, 2016)
by AVA News Service, November 9, 2016
THANKS AV ARTS SUPPORTERS!
Dear AVA Editor:
The members of Anderson Valley Arts (AVArts) want to express our gratitude and appreciation to everyone who helped make the October 23rd It’s About Time! fundraiser such a fun and tremendously successful event. With the participation of everyone who attended, and especially those who generously bid on our wonderful donated art auction items, AVArts raised over $10,000 to support our Arts in the Schools and Arts Scholarship programs. Thank you all for your most generous support of AVArts!
Special thanks to the always lovely & entertaining Patty Liddy for her remarkable time-inspired songs; hard-working bartenders Lauren Keating & Steve Sparks; local artists Chris Bing, Doug Browe, Steve Derwinski, Paula Gray, Susan Gross, Sony Hatcher, Charlie Hochberg, Wally Hopkins, Via Keller, Cathleen Micheaels, Jaye Moscariello, Judy Nelson, Helen Papke, Terry Ryder, Sandra Rubin, Steve Rubin, Marvin Schenck, Colleen Schenck, Jacob Troester, Jan Wax & Jody Williams along with the family & friends of Cynthia Thomas and Deanna Apfel, Karen Altaras & the former Rookie-To Gallery; local wineries Balo Vineyards, Bink Wines, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Lula Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Roederer Estate, Scharffenberger Cellars, and Signal Ridge Vineyard; Erika McKenzie-Chapter & Pennyroyal Farm for the generous donation of farmstead cheeses; Lauren Keating & Natalie Matson of Lauren’s restaurant for generously hosting the event; Burt Cohen & Boont Berry Farm for catering the event; and Mike Crutcher & Bella for loaning us the magnificent Time Machine.
AVArts is a 501(c)3 non-profit made up of volunteer members dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts in Anderson Valley. We generate our funding primarily through volunteer events and depend on community participation and support to continue helping to bring diverse, quality supplemental arts programs to Anderson Valley schools that would otherwise not be possible and provide scholarship support to students who attend arts-related classes, workshops and events and to graduating students pursuing further education in the arts. We welcome donations, ideas and involvement from the community.
Most gratefully, Anderson Valley Arts Members
Karen Altaras, Peggy Dart, Cathy Evans, Paula Gray, Dennis Hudson, Glynnis Jones, Xenia King, Cathleen Micheaels, Terry Ryder, Jody Williams & AVHS student member Julia Brock
PS. More information about AVArts can be found at www.av-arts.org, https://avartsblog.wordpress.com or by contacting us at P. O. Box 20, Yorkville, CA 95494. If you are interested in AVArts, please consider joining us at one of our monthly meetings which are usually from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on the third Friday of the month at Lauren’s restaurant in Boonville. (Glynis Jones, Boonville)
NO CRYSTAL BALLS
Letter to the Editor
Reading James Kunstler’s fatalistic economic forecast in Wounded Elephant (10/12/16) reminded me of the lecture I got when I was a boy and my dad was using a deck of cards to teach me about odds and percentages and how they inform the wise person’s decision-making. When it comes to predicting the future, my dad guaranteed me, nobody on earth can successfully call the rank and suit of a card getting flipped off an unmarked and properly shuffled poker deck. Since the odds of you correctly “picking a card, any card” are 51 to 1 against you and no matter how many times you try, it’s a sucker bet.
Since there are only two possible outcomes, no kind of prediction is easier than calling the flip of a coin. Since it’s a 50/50 shot no matter how long you play, or how much money you bet, you’ll never get ahead or behind except by a whisker. Which doesn’t mean that one fine day you won’t flip heads ten or even twenty times in row. It means you’ll be betting tails half the time.
But imagine that, when you win, you earn 110% of your bet and, when you lose, you only lose 90% of your bet. Under that arrangement, say you flip coins eight hours a day, six days a week. Thirty flips per minute over an eight hour work shift produces 7,300 winners per day. If there’s no time or betting limit, and if you parlay your winnings, real quick you’re gonna own about the whole damned. . . well, do the math.
No matter how sophisticated your statistical analysis, or powerful your clairvoyance, scholarship, Crystal Ball or Extraterrestrial Perception, nobody beats the odds and nobody defeats the house percentage—the cut the house takes for providing you with the drinks, ashtrays, electricity and entertainment.
The best prognosticators on the planet are actuaries working for the life insurance companies that deal exclusively with members our obsolete Aristocracy. Next comes the actuaries for the rest of us, then the handicappers at racetracks and the handful of number-crunchers who produce the daily betting lines for the Las Vegas and Atlantic City Books. Like all “professions” in a dog-eat-puppy society so cynical, fearful, superstitious, mean-spirited, greedy and “far from God,” prognosticating and prophesizing draw their share of amateurs and impostors. The “tout sheets” sold at the gates of racetracks and travelling preachers preaching either Hellfire or Everlasting Bliss is coming for you are just two examples of the grand larceny that’s the beating heart of junkyard Capitalism Unchained. If you’re weak-minded enough, it’s too damned easy to convince you that all you’ve gotta do to buy your way into paradise is drop some paper money in the hat before passing it on. When a TV Superhero promises to mail you a Miracle Cure with free shipping and a money back guarantee, why wouldn’t you pick up the phone to claim your prize?
Last spring Trump warned that a huge recession was coming late summer. Last summer Trump predicted the stock market was going to crash right before the election—“watch out, folks; you’ve gotta watch out if Crooked Hillary is winning.” But Trump is a one trick demagogue who takes great pleasure in telling Hitlerian Lies to pale-hearted senior citizens (and their trusting and benighted offspring) he knows to be scared shitless, needy and radically misinformed.
So let’s keep our chins up. About all anybody can say with a fair degree of certainty about the future of the US economy is that it ain’t gonna collapse any time soon. As Trump and his Dark Money locker room boys prove beyond all reasonable doubt, not all debts come due, not all loans get repaid, and not all crimes get punished. It’s only the poor and the stupid who pay taxes or pay back their creditors—or pay the outrageous bills left by their greedy Mexican landscapers—and the best way to rob a bank, or a casino, is to own one. Up in Paradise, some are more equal than others.
Then I guess I should mention that while such boldly obstinate positions have their place in the fair and honest political discourse we’ve come to expect in these pages, the idea that there’ s a “moral equivalence” between Hillary and Herr Trump isn’t meant to be taken literally. Getting the crabs ain’t the same as getting syphilis and there’s no profit in arguing otherwise. As we all know in our hearts, we the people sometimes hafta vote for the lesser of two evils hoping to get less evil and, if we’re properly informed, we win a lot more than we lose.
Anyway, I voted like I’m a newborn, black-skinned baby girl discovering the ceiling lights of the nursery in the hospital where my mom and dad, my big sister and me were born: Cook County General, Chicago, Illinois. I voted like I just got off the boat.
IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE
Eighty years ago, Sinclair Lewis wrote what may be the most prescient political statement of the 20th Century, It Can’t Happen Here. Thank you, Mr. Lewis! For those who do not know the work, or whose memory of it has faded, this is the time to find a copy and read it before November 8th. Why? Because, God Forbid, it could happen here in 2016.
It Can’t Happen Here is a dystopian political novel in which one Berzelius Windrip, self-styled populist succeeds in gaining the nomination in 1936, displacing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and ultimately winning the presidency by a majority vote. Never mind that he made wild promises to, in Donald Trump’s words, Make America Great Again. Never mind that he developed a cadre of silver shirts patterned after the Nazi Black Shirts and Mussolini brown shirts. Never mind that his promises to give every one free money (think tax breaks) and sweep the establishment out of Washington (think “Drain the Swamp”). Dictators always have a way of gathering about them sexist, racist, anti-semite, frustrated with the status quo, Fortress America types.
Of course, violence becomes rampant, concentration camps spring up, citizen is pitted against citizen. A popular tune emerges early on to express the will of the people, “Bring out the old-time musket.” Does the reader in 2016 remember hearing this from a Trump supporter?
Bring out the old-time musket,
Rouse up the old-time fire!
See, all the world is crumbling,
Dreadful and dark and dire.
America! Rise and conquer
The world to our heart’s desire! (p.54)
And don’t think for a moment that Berzelius Windrip has forgotten the press. From Zero Hour, his manifesto, Windrip says, “I know the Press only too well. Almost all editors hide away in spider dens….plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions and fill their greedy pockets,… It is not too much of a stretch to note that our present (2016) media has obsessed with the likes of Trump (ala Windrip updated)? They are obsessed with ratings, profit, their big salaries as so-called journalists who do little to dig beneath the bombast of Trump to provide real analysis.
“Buzz and buzz and hail the chief,
And his five-pointed star,
The U.S. ne’er can come to grief
With us prepared for war.” (153)
Eighty years ago, Sinclair Lewis saw the storm of tyranny about to engulf the world in a World War. And, he was prophetic in that what was unfolding in Hitler and Mussolini’s Europe was, could, in time just might hit the shores of America in the guise of a savior, a populist who would promise a gullible public to Make America Great Again. Heady stuff for the millions who felt left out of the American dream in the midst of a depression. America in 2016 may not be in a depression, but tell that to millions who feel (justly or unjustly) that they have been given the short end of the stick and you can see why a bombastic liar, cheat, smiley-faced would-be autocrat just might succeed in winning, legitimately, the presidency. Ah, but it can’t happen here!
ANSWERING MR. PRITCHARD
Anyone who reads this newspaper and my letters knows I've taken full responsibility for my actions and stated, "I've made my bed and now I will sleep in it." Over the last few years I've stated facts but never talked shit, and being who I am I won't start now. If you knew the case or me on any level you would know why I surrendered. I never wanted to or intended on killing anyone. I understand he's your buddy but does his mom call you son? Has she ever visited you in prison? Does his son call you uncle? Does he call you his brother? He was my closest friend and here is a cold hard fact for you: He was busted three days before I was. They had no idea who was in the car or who the shooter was until he told them. I regret my decision to pull the trigger, not just for the time I got, but because my wife, three kids, and large family, brothers, sisters, dad, mom who do this time with me.
My point is, I sure didn't need his help. I really don't even care that he told on me. Him and I have talked about it. I only wish he'd have told the truth.
It's a small world, Mr. Pritchard, but I've asked around and the funny thing is not only have we never met nor do I even know of you, no one I know has heard of you either. Go figure.
It's nice to see that you have some loyalty to Mr. Skaggs, but when the rubber meets the road and the bullets fly he will show no loyalty to you.
If there is something about your letter I didn't respond to, it is because it was too stupid to honor with a response. Take care and you already know.
Walter ‘Kris’ Miller
PS. The 13 years he got has nothing to do with this case. All charges were dismissed.
When Copernicus realized what he was looking at, that the Sun is the actual center of the system of planets arrayed around it, he waited until he was near death to publish it, to avoid being burned at the stake, with his hands cut off and his tongue cut out to demonstrate the power to silence anyone who might want to consider his findings. Galileo would prove him right, but even then, 100 years further on, he was forced to deny it all. He was old and frightened and he capitulated. All told, it has been around 475 years and even in our time a Saudi fatwa (decree) gives the order: "the earth is fixed, held down by mountains so it cannot move, orbited by the sun, by the will of God and scientific fact." That is the power of Wahhabism, even without all the psychotic ISIS stuff. When slavery was abolished by many countries after the American Civil War, Islamic states agreed to it with the exception of Saudi Arabia, considered the holy land and beyond human changes in the laws. Slavery decreased but didn't end anyway. White slavery increased in the United States.
The Bible and the Quran include a lot of slavery. The Bible goes back and forth about it. Taking over after Mohammed, Uthman the Great had all the existing Qurans burned and published his own. The emperor of Rome, Constantine, 300 years before Mohammed, ordered the Christians to submit to one doctrine, to stop their constant infighting, and published the Bible to establish one religion for the full empire. Moses, Constantine and Mohammed all had the same basic motive: to unify divided factions and tribes. It was not so much a matter of seeking the truth as it was deciding what it is, hit or miss, right or wrong, and it shows. They all wanted no corrections, no arguments, for all time, and as it turned out, no new information. How any worthwhile ideation ever got into it is a mystery, especially the urging to seek the truth, since that would change it, but there are always a few reasonable people around.
Enter the Universe, completely out of reach, more undeniable with every look through those big beautiful lenses. Vast throngs and streams of galaxies, with ourselves out in one arm of one of them, and Jim Updegraff (AVA, October 19) asks, "Where does religion fit in?" Well, religion has been modified so many times, rooted in polytheism, moving gods up in power, eliminating others, dividing and uniting through centuries of alliances and wars, but I think now it depends on whether you call it a serious question or an arbitrary answer, the latter having more power than its qualified for. I saw a pastor saying that if the Scriptures said that two plus two is five, he would believe it.
It's not just a religious problem. When they found a set of hominid bones way out of line from the established pattern for prehistoric migrations, one scientist grumbled: "They should have put them back in the ground."
ATHLETES STILL NEED HELP
To the Editor:
The unfortunate situation with the Mendocino College athletes has come to my attention and deserves the attention of others. The 17 students, mostly African-American, are now living in a building adjacent to the Assembly of God Church at 395 N. Barnes St. in Ukiah. They now have hot running water in two small bathrooms, with no tub or shower. A refrigerator has been donated for their use, along with a stove for cooking. Since they have very little opportunity for washing dishes, they are using disposable dishes and dinnerware, and need more. Pots and pans are washed in the two tiny bathrooms. They are sleeping on borrowed and purchased mattresses. Small patio chairs are needed for seating, as well as a couple of tables. This living arrangement will end on Nov. 4, when the church has indicated they will need to find other living quarters. Many of the students will be staying on as students at Mendocino College after football season is over, which is a testament to the value they have placed on the quality of education at the college. Anyone can arrange to sign up to provide meals through the following web site: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/409094aabad2dabfb6-mealgrocery . Several meals have already been signed up for but there are many that are still open. The list runs through Dec. 13. It appears that there were no firm commitments by Mendocino College to feed and house these young men, but they have landed on our doorstep and need help. The students have indicated they will be looking for jobs to help them with food and lodging this next semester. We should look at this as an opportunity to show Ukiah as a safe place for young people. If my child went to a small town far away, I would be assured of their safety and general welfare if I knew that the community cared about them. Many thanks to Victoria Golden for the information, and Berry Salinas for establishing the food sign-up portal.