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A COLD UPPER LEVEL TROUGH progressing into the Pacific Northwest will generate showers and isolated thunderstorms today through tonight. The shower activity will come to an end by midday Thursday as high pressure builds into the area. Drier and cooler weather is expected to last through Saturday. Another trough will bring a chance of rain Sunday into early next week. (NWS)
21 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Tuesday bringing the total to 1332.
19-YEAR-OLD WASHINGTON STATE WOMAN MISSING, LAST KNOWN IN CRESCENT CITY ON SUNDAY
19-year-old Keara Wingate is missing. According to social media posts, she is from Westport, Washington and was traveling down the coast by herself. She reportedly last spoke with her mother on Sunday the 15th saying she was in the Walmart parking lot in Crescent City and would sleep in her car there. She hasn’t been heard from since.
According to the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office, Keara Arndt-Wingate is 5′ 4″, 135 lbs, with blond hair and hazel eyes. She is believed to be wearing black leggings, a sweatshirt, and a tan beanie. She was driving a red 2009 Honda Element with Washington plate #777ZJO.
The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Department stated that she was possibly on her way to “a Redwood State Park, unknown which one, or traveling north up the coast. If you have any information, please contact DNSO 707-464-4191.”
DO WE SEE A PATTERN HERE?
(Two parts. Part 1 is a Letter to the Fort Bragg City Council from Anna Shaw two years ago…)
To the Fort Bragg City Council,
November 25th 2018 — I write in reference to the Limited Term Use Permit, which is on the City Council agenda for 11/26/18 for the Extreme Weather Shelter (EWS) to be run by Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC).
I cannot attend the City Council meeting on 11/26/18. I request that this letter be added to the Public Record, and be read out at the meeting.
I was the Executive Director of MCHC for almost eight years until April 2018. In that time I added the EWS to MCHC’s services, as well as Transitional Housing, the Wellness Center, clinical mental health services, and indeed all the services and properties over and above the Hospitality House. I have more than thirty years of experience in managing social and healthcare and housing/homeless services; I trained professionally as a social worker and have a degree in Public Administration and an advanced degree in Care, Policy and Management.
Much as I am dismayed when I see the changes at Hospitality Center over the last seven months, with the homeless regularly sleeping in doorways, lying drunk in the bays by the windows, and leaving shopping carts trashed out front, all with no redress or amends made by staff, I have wanted to stay out of these issues. But I am so concerned by the plan to stage the EWS at Hospitality Center that I am submitting this letter. The Board wants to help our homeless neighbors but do not have the professional experience and training to know how to handle people with serious mental illness or homeless services. The majority of the Board do not live in Fort Bragg and have no relevant professional background; therefore they do not prioritize the local neighbors, and they do not know how best to run the services for the clients. A year ago the Board wanted to cease the EWS “for business reasons”, whatever that means, and now they wish to run it in the mental health center! From one extreme impractical decision to another extreme impractical decision at the polar opposite of the spectrum of options; both of these choices were born of political expediency. When MCHC acquired the “Old Coast Hotel” MCHC promised not to open a homeless shelter there, yet now the Board wishes to bring the most desperately needy and intoxicated homeless clients to check into shelter at the very same location.
I object strongly to the “staging” (i.e. gathering of clients) of the EWS at the Hospitality Center, and to the reduction of supervisory staff night from two to one if there are fewer than twelve guests. As of one year ago, the MCHC staff at that time told me that they objected to this idea too. This is for two reasons:
1. Safe Neighborhood. The EWS clients are intoxicated and disruptive. They are often angry, understandably angry because life has dealt them a rough hand of cards at this time. They are cold, hungry, intoxicated and angry. I ran the EWS at the previous nonprofit operator in 2009/2010 and then at MCHC every consecutive year since then; I know. They desperately need and deserve to be sheltered, but do not bring these clients in a mass group to the center of downtown Fort Bragg! Let’s shelter them at the recently vacated 900 N. Franklin Street. Let’s "stage” the EWS at the Food Bank. Let’s bring common sense as well as professional care to these decisions as to where to locate shelter. Their behavior at Hospitality House when the staging was there in the winters of 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 was so damaging to the local community that it drove the complaints that led to the EWS being disallowed from the Hospitality House Use Permit. Why would we as a community try again to have a group of intoxicated and disruptive people gathered in our downtown again, after the community had the EWS removed via the changes to the Hospitality House Use Permit from another downtown location? This is the worst of scenarios both for the homeless and for the neighbors. The EWS clients simply will not stay within the confines of the courtyard, that much is known from the Hospitality House staging experience, where the same commitments were given as to managing the clients onsite.
2. Care for Mental Health Clients. The Hospitality Center is funded by Mental Health Service Act dollars to provide wellness services to the mentally ill. Some but not all of those are homeless. Located at Hospitality Center is additional funding and staffing for homeless case management and vocational services for homeless clients who have the ability to participate. Fragile mentally ill folk are at serious risk of predatory behavior by the EWS clients, who are bound to gather and stay on the property, while the mentally ill folk are on the property still seeking services. The Hospitality Clinic abuts the shared courtyard and those seriously mentally ill clients will also be at risk. If the EWS clients are allowed to gather in the courtyard before the Center and Clinic close for business, they will negatively affect those with clients attending for mental health services. If the EWS clients are not allowed to gather in the courtyard before the Center and Clinic close for business, they will be very disruptive indeed to the local neighborhood. The Transitional Housing clients (who are clean and sober) living on the second floor all have serious mental illness and go to the courtyard to smoke and to take respite, all of which will be unavailable while the intoxicated EWS clients gather in courtyard. There is no way to “manage” the staging of the EWS at the Hospitality Center.
3. Safe Staffing. The challenging nature of the EWS clients makes it unsafe to have one lone supervisor when there are fewer than twelve guests. I made regular reports to the MCHC Board as to the almost daily threats to supervisory staff over the winters of 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 and the Board eventually made a decision only to open when the staffing level would comprise two for safety reasons and not to go below that. Threats made to staff included “I will break your jaw”; I will beat you; “I will hunt you down on the street and attack you”. Some years ago there was a young man who hung himself in the county jail, after attacking two of our police officers in Bainbridge Park: this is the kind of client who is sheltered in the EWS. It is irresponsible to revert to sending one lone staff members to supervise EWS clients, who are intoxicated and volatile. Having two supervisors allows for safe control and supervision of guests along with support and back up when incidents occurs. With two supervisors at night, the EWS of 2017/2018 was safe and calm.
Thanking you for your consideration, Anna Shaw
Part 2: On-line Comment on Tuesday by Carla Harris, former Executive Director of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC), based in the old Coast Hotel in downtown Fort Bragg:
WE DON'T NEED AN EXPLANATION
by Mark Scaramella
Outgoing Supervisor John McCowen has been effectively neutered by CEO Carmel Angelo. She continues to keep the Board, especially McCowen, at arm’s length since Supervisors Haschak, Brown and Gjerde are firmly in her corner, deferring to the CEO in every question that arises where the CEO weighs in.
Supervisor Ted Williams agrees with McCowen from time to time, but Williams hasn’t been snubbed by his colleagues as much as McCowen has, probably because Williams is going to be around for a while.
McCowen, whose last meeting will be next month, may have been dealt a final blow Tuesday when he tried again, and again unsuccessfully, to get his colleagues to support a letter to the state asking about the science and data around the state’s dubious “one size fits all” covid tier system, which imposes blanket restrictions on entire counties when in many cases, including Mendo, covid cases are predominantly concentrated in one area.
At present the large majority of Mendo’s cases are Mexicans (“Latinx” in PC talk) in Ukiah. The rest of the County isn’t experiencing anywhere near the numbers of Mexican-Americans in Ukiah, yet the newly re-imposed “purple tier” restrictions apply to the entire county, leaving small businesses, which themselves are not high on the list of covid causes, struggling if not already closed because of the new tighter restrictions which have just this week been ratcheted up again as covid numbers increase around the state.
When McCowen asked his colleagues to support his volunteering to draft a letter to the state suggesting more autonomy be given to counties in applying covid restrictions and asking about the rationale behind the tier system, McCowen was first told by the CEO that she had recently asked the state health officer, Dr. Ghaly, how they arrived at their threshholds and was told that Dr. Ghaly was “surprised” by the question and said he’d “consider it.”
Supervisor Williams thought it would be good to at least ask about the tier system rationale simply so Mendo could make better decisions about how to get back to fewer restrictions.
But Angelo, Health Officer Andy Coren, and Supervisors Haschak, Gjerde and Brown all thought not, saying that the state is working very hard and doing their best and that such a letter would be pointless. Gjerde even went so far as to say that such a letter would “make Mendocino County look silly.” (As “silly” as Governor Newsom who blithely imposes state wide-scale lockdowns while dining with a large group of friends at the French Laundry?)
McCowen has tried hard for twelve years to take County matters seriously, often too seriously, but now suffers the final insult from an ordinarily silent colleague.
McCowen made a last ditch attempt to justify the importance of writing the letter but was unceremoniously cut off by Chair Haschak who simply and firmly declared, “We’re moving on,” not even calling for a motion, let alone the formality of a vote.
ALL CENTRAL COAST COUNTIES PLACED IN PURPLE TIER As Newsom Pulls 'Emergency Brake'
Newsom said that more tier announcements will be made as necessary. He said the state is "not waiting the extra day or extra week." California is also strengthening its face covering guidance to require people to wear a mask whenever outside their home, with limited exceptions. The state is also weighing the possibility of a curfew.
EMMY LOU PACKARD: EXCLUSIVE SALE OF ORIGINAL WORKS
Online Fundraising Exhibition, Mendocino Art Center
November 17, 2020 – January 4, 2021
The Mendocino Art Center presents “Emmy Lou Packard: Exclusive Sale of Original Works,” an online fundraising exhibition featuring 35 of the Mendocino legacy artist’s works. For this limited time, November 17 through January 4, all Packard artwork is priced 10% off with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Mendocino Art Center. Help us reach our $10,000 goal!
View the exhibition & sale: mendocinoartcenter.org/exhibitions/emmy-lou-packard
The Mendocino Art Center remains open online for art classes, monthly exhibitions, events and the gallery store, but will be closed to in-person experiences through the end of the calendar year.
EMMY LOU PACKARD (1914-1998), born in El Centro, Imperial Valley, California, was one of the most famous American fresco artists and printmaking pioneers of the 20th century. Packard's visual expression and courageous voice earned her international recognition as an artist and activist for peace. Marked by an early encounter with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, her trajectory evolved from assisting Rivera with mural painting, to her own painting and print exhibitions and fresco projects. This revolutionary influence allowed for her vocal and uncompromising disapproval of several issues, including human rights violations, WWII and the American-Soviet "Cold" and Vietnam wars.
Before her formal art education, Packard studied under Rivera in Mexico, from 1927-1928. She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1936, and went on to study at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1940 she assisted Rivera in creating the 1,650 square foot fresco at the Golden Gate International Expo, and returned with him to Mexico City where she was a guest of Rivera and Frida Kahlo. During WWII she worked for a Richmond newspaper as a writer and illustrator in California; during this time she also took on roles in human rights activism, fighting for the rights of women and children, and steadfastly supporting the leadership of Cesar Chavez.
In 1959 Emmy Lou married fellow artist Byron Randall and joined the movement of artists leaving the Bay Area and moved to Mendocino, where she lived for a decade. Packard's studies of the Mendocino Headlands for her artwork eventually inspired her to become a key promoter in the establishment of the headlands as a state park.
AN OBITUARY for a prominent Willits man, Richard White, concluded, “For those who don't know the White Family history in Mendocino County, Richard's father, Bill White, was a police officer in Willits in the early 40s, later transferring to the Sheriff's Department in Ukiah. He became an Under-Sheriff and, in May 1950, when Richard was 10, he was shot and killed by a meat runner (poacher) outside of Ukiah.”
NEVER before heard the term “meat runner” as a synonym for poacher, but it makes sense. Poachers poach and run. Losing a parent at age ten is especially awful for a child. Mr. White's family story needs some fleshing out, meaning a trip to the Held-Poage Library in Ukiah to see what happened to the meat runner, assuming he was caught and prosecuted.
AMAZON is eating the planet. The ravenous corporation announced today that they've launched an online pharmacy for delivering prescription medications throughout the United States, increasing competition with drug retailers such as Walgreen’s, CVS and Walmart. Called Amazon Pharmacy, the new store lets customers price-compare as they buy drugs on the company's website or app. Shoppers can toggle at checkout between their co-pay and a non-insurance option, heavily discounted for members of its loyalty club Prime. Prime subscribers get up to 80 percent off generic and up to 40 percent off brand drugs when they pay without insurance, as well as two-day delivery.
AND NO SOONER had I absorbed the news of Amazon's latest conquest, I got a robo-call from a chipper-voiced young woman who said, “Hi, my name is Laura. I see that your company is not listed as available on Alexa…” Hmmm. I like it. Alexa! Play AVA!
PANIC BUYING has broken out across the United States. Toilet paper, disinfectants and groceries are disappearing from the shelves of city and suburban mega markets in anticipation of another round of strict coronavirus lockdowns as plague cases surge. It is the second time this year that an hysterical minority of consumers panic-purchased. The first hoarding rush was in March. But experts say the run is likely to be less severe this time as stores and shoppers are more prepared. Subodha Kumar, a supply chain expert at Temple University, told The Daily Beast: “People have already hoarded a lot of this stuff in their basements.” A new flurry of lockdown measures came as 40 states reported record daily increases in COVID-19 cases this month, while 20 states have registered all-time highs in daily coronavirus-related deaths and 26 reported new peaks in hospitalizations, according to the Reuters tally. The U.S. as a whole has averaged more than 148,000 new cases a day, and 1,120 daily deaths, over the past week. Coronavirus is blamed for more than 246,000 deaths and over 11 million confirmed infections in the U.S. Thanksgiving was on the minds of leaders nationwide as they enacted tougher restrictions amid fears that the holiday will lead to more infections.
AN ON-LINE COMMENT: “All of you who are panic buying make sure you stock up on condoms so you don't breed any more bleeping idiots.”
FROM THE BOONVILLE HOTEL:
Because we all need bits of joy.... Perry is making FRIED CHICKEN take out dinners on Thursdays for the foreseeable future (whoop whoop). We have take out menus for Thursday & Sundays evenings. Orders are placed online, just go to https://boonville-hotel-restaurant.square.site.
This week's to go menu is...
BUTTERMILK and HERB FRIED CHICKEN with PERSIMMON CHUTNEY - Served with a cabbage parsnip slaw, something sweet! $36/person.
and then later in the week…
SUNDAY TO GO - LIBERTY FARM DUCK LEG CONFIT roasted apples, white beans, orange zest, rosemary - served with a simple salad - and of course a little something sweet. $36/person
Mendocino Coast Clinics Welcomes Medical Provider Stefanie Forrester
Fort Bragg, CA — Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is pleased to announce the arrival of physician assistant Stefanie Forrester, a medical provider with more than 20 years of experience who relocated from Sand Point, Alaska, a rural community even smaller than Fort Bragg.
Forrester chose MCC for personal and professional reasons: she was looking for a rural coastal community and she wanted to find a health center where she could provide patients with excellent and comprehensive care. MCC fit the bill on both accounts.
She said, “I was very impressed with the structure and the staff at Mendocino Coast Clinics and continue to be very happy with the organization’s professionalism. I have seen that working here allows me to work to the top of my license, and I look forward to being in an environment with multiple providers so that we may share in our knowledge and learn from each other.”
She describes her approach to medicine as collaborative with the goal of developing strong relationships with her patients. For her, she says, this starts with listening. “Often, patients will tell you what is wrong with them if you listen and give them the time to talk, and then we, as a provider and patient team, can work together to find the most appropriate treatment plan. Working together improves patient compliance and satisfaction.”
Forrester was always drawn to medicine. “Growing up, I wanted to be an emergency room physician. I worked as an emergency room technician during college and for a few years after graduating while I worked on my pre-requisites for medical school. Ultimately, I decided to pursue PA school so that I could have a good work/life balance. That’s when I became very interested in family medicine and internal medicine.” She said she enjoys spending time getting to know patients and their families and she likes the challenge of having to be proficient in all types of medicine to best care for her patients and/or get them to the appropriate specialist.
Forrester’s reasons for choosing a small coastal community are deeply personal. She said, “I have been living and working in rural Alaska and have become accustomed to seeing and hearing the ocean every day. I find it very calming for me. I lost my father at an early age to cancer and we scattered his ashes in the ocean beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Whenever I am near the ocean, I feel his presence and take comfort in knowing that he is still with me in another form. Fort Bragg is a beautiful little ocean town that will allow me to breathe in the ocean smells every day.”
The fact that Fort Bragg was a small rural fishing town was an added bonus, since Forrester had such a positive experience in Alaska in a similar environment. Of small towns in general, she said, “I enjoy living in a small community. I feel it helps me get to know my patients better. It’s nice to be in a place that’s small enough to run into patients or co-workers in the stores or on the walking trails on the weekends.” She is also looking forward to exploring the local art and music culture, as her significant other is both an artist and musician. “I feel that we will be happy to put roots down in this community,” she said.
When Forrester is not working, she spends plenty of time with her four-year-old German Shepherd and her Siberian Husky puppy. She also loves to dance and plans to take an adult tap or ballet class when time allows. Finally, she says she adores horses and would welcome the opportunity to help out at a horse ranch, cleaning stalls in exchange for riding. “It’s great exercise and great for the soul. I hope to find a horse ranch to spend weekends on once I’m further established here in Fort Bragg,” she said.
MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said she is already impressed with Forrester’s attention to patients and her clear desire to provide top-quality care.
MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County. www.mendocinocoastclinics.org.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 17, 2020
SCOTT CHAPMAN, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
THOMAS COOK, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JOSE ESCAMILLA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, contempt of court, failure to appear.
HARVEY MCCARTY, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SAMANTHA MENDEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, disobeying cuort order, contempt of court, probation revocation.
ERYCKA SMITH, Willits. DUI causing bodily injury, taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen vehicle, under influence.
DOUGLAS WHIPPLE, Redwood Valley. Use of tear gas for other than self-defense, unlawful possession of tear gas as weapon by ex-felon, controlled substance, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
BIDEN’S FIRST CLIMATE APPOINTMENT Is A Fossil Fuel Industry Flack [but at least he’s black]
Following a campaign promising bold climate action, president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team named one of the Democratic Party’s top recipients of fossil fuel industry money to a high-profile White House position focusing in part on climate issues.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that Biden is appointing U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., to lead the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he is “expected to serve as a liaison with the business community and climate change activists.” … Richmond has repeatedly broken with his party on major climate and environmental votes. During the climate crisis that has battered his home state of Louisiana, Richmond has joined with Republicans to vote to increase fossil fuel exports and promote pipeline development. He also voted against Democratic legislation to place pollution limits on fracking — and he voted for GOP legislation to limit the Obama administration’s authority to more stringently regulate the practice.
RURAL AMERICA COULD STAND REMEMBERING
by Ian Frazier
In 2017 I went to Washington to see the inauguration. I wandered around with no purpose and did not get very close to the Capitol steps, where the swearing-in ceremony appeared as a tiny cluster of people among a larger crowd. Fewer onlookers gathered in the vicinity of the Reflecting Pool, where the regiments of portable johns shoulder to shoulder outnumbered the humans, and a lone hawk watched from atop a tree. I was standing by a loudspeaker when I heard the phrase “American carnage.” In that relatively abandoned area, it came out of the loudspeaker during Trump’s speech and seemed to hang in the air in 3D.
Millions of words have been written about the phrase since then, but I feel as if I met it in person before it became famous, when it was still as unusual and as worthy of being looked at as the hawk in the tree. I thought it was a weird thing to say, overstated and inept, but not completely disconnected from reality. I write reporting pieces that take me all over the country. I imagined that Trump’s “American carnage” might have been referring to the many unhappy rural places I had seen. (Now I understand that it didn’t really refer to them, or to anything, except the usual invented and chimerical horrors he loves.)
When I’m on the National Mall I sometimes have a sense that I’m in all fifty states at once. Hearing the phrase “American carnage,” I thought about small towns in Ohio, near where I’m from, that used to be flourishing and now are half-deserted and boarded up. The Rand McNally Road Atlas, that founding document of American optimism, includes who knows how many small towns across the country that exist today in name only. If you’re expecting to find, say, a gas station in any particular town that’s marked as such by a small dot on the thin line of road, you might be disappointed. It might be only a former town. Or—more often—it will have a gas station–convenience store and nothing else, and you’re grateful for even that. Today the emblematic image of the former small town is a pillar that once held an oval-shaped plastic sign for some local business like a muffler shop or a feed store, and the plastic is mostly broken and gone, and just the frame of the sign is still there.
Once-busy downtowns are vacant or occupied by thrift stores and studios that teach martial arts. Sometimes you find a historical society museum that’s open by appointment, and if you call the number on the door a jovial elderly resident will come from a house nearby and tell you about all the businesses that the town used to have, usually including two movie theaters. The town’s school is closed, and the few school-age kids who remain take a long bus ride to a consolidated school elsewhere.
In Nebraska I walked the main street of a former town district where the street and the curbs and the lines for angle parking were still there, but the rest of the place was just foundations and neatly tended grass. In western Kansas I drove through a boarded-up town with a sign along the highway asking passersby to pray for the town. Every county has a county seat. In those towns you used to be able to depend on finding at least one functioning motel. Nowadays you’d better be ready to drive on, because the one motel may be closed, with its signboard saying something like, “For Sale Make Offer Perfect Business Opportunity for Retired Couple.”
When you do drive on, the road is terrible. It's been flooded, and the pavement has buckled, and you are going past still flooded fields with wheeled irrigation pipes up to their spokes in standing water. Or the road is apparently okay, but after a few miles you realize that it's crumbling at the seams between the blocks of pavement, and every 40 feet you hit a seam that makes a bump and the road bumps beneath you like that for hours as you cross some out-of-the-way part of the state. The billboards advertise injury lawyers or warn of the dangers of crystal meth, with photos of addicts with purple teeth. The radio is filled with grievance -- Rush Limbaugh is the best known of the right wing angry guys on the airwaves, but there are also lesser-known regional ones. Confederate flags, no longer flying at statehouses and NASCAR races, proliferate along some of the less traveled roads in the backcountry.
Out on the Great Plains where towns are even farther apart and farmhouses stand more alone, rows of old, wind bent trees sometimes follow the fence lines for miles or protect the houses on the windy side. Some of the trees are probably survivors from the Shelterbelt program of the 1930s when the federal government promoted the planting of tens of thousands of trees to keep the fields from blowing away. Alongside gravel roads that run to the horizon, sometimes you see rows of telephone poles with just a few lines on them. The installation may date back to the early days of the Rural Electrification Administration which began in 1935 as a nationwide effort to bring electric power to the farthest flung places. These New Deal era programs helped keep rural communities alive.
Our system was designed to make it difficult to win a national election by winning only the cities. Rather than complaining about the unfairness of the Electoral College, and how it gives preference to states with few people, the Democrats could acknowledge that it's here for at least the time being. They could start to pay more attention, FDR style, to the less populated places. Who knows? Someday that attention might even bring in an electoral vote or three. The country once did a better job of looking after rural America. Judging by what anybody driving around can observe, much of it is hurting right now.
(New York Review of Books)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Again, all the clowns with cerakoted AR’s and molon labe patches are going to do squat.
They’re going to LARP around in molle gear, wave snake flags, and ready their bug-out bags.
We are a country of LARPing posers. Pretenders.
Reduced to slapping one another in free-zones, marches, and protests. And these civil militiamen, at least those at the tip of the spear, they all have fat military and/or government pensions and/or retirements that they will not risk.
They don’t need to take your guns.
Not when they can yank-off your security blanket.
They won’t risk it.
Clown nation under gawd.
TRUMPIEST AND MOST ANTI-TRUMP COUNTIES IN CALIFORNIA
November’s election results showed that most of California’s Democratic counties moved further away from President Donald Trump — and the bulk of its Republican counties did too.
IN THE YEAR 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find-
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, and say
Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you
In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine's doing that for you
In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your sons, pick your daughters too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
In the year 7510
If God's a coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He'll look around Himself and say
Guess it's time for the judgment day
In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down, and start again
In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing
Now it's been ten thousand years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what, he never knew, now man's reign is through
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday
— Rick Evans (1968)
LINED PAPER ONLY
To the Editor:
Mendocino County Jail has a policy regarding incoming inmate mail that has no basis and is likely to cause undue burden on the family and friends of inmates, not to mention undue expense from postage and time.
The policy: All letters received must be on lined notebook paper.
For the elderly and the less literate family members who wish to type (and don’t have lined notebook paper) this means a trip to the store during a pandemic.
This lined notebook paper policy has already cost me two valuable letters from my wife and is unnecessary. For others, this has reduced family ties, reduced community ties and has the effect of ripping inmates even further out of their families making their reintegration into the community more difficult.
Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah
THEY’RE MADE OUT OF MEAT
by Terry Bisson (1991)
"They are made out of meat."
"Meat. They're made out of meat."
"There's no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."
"That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars."
"They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. These signals come from machines."
"So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."
"They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."
"That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat?"
"I'm not asking you. I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they're made out of meat."
"Maybe they're Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage."
"Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their lifespans which didn't take too long. Do you have any idea the lifespan of meat?"
"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like a Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."
"Nope. We thought of that since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They are meat all the way through."
"Oh, there is a brain all right. It's just the brain is made out of meat!"
"So, what does the thinking?"
"You're not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat."
"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"
"Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?"
"Oh my God. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."
"Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost 100 of their years."
"So what does the meat have in mind?"
"First, it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the universe, contact others ideas, swap ideas and information. The usual."
"We're supposed to talk to meat?"
"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. ‘Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?’ That sort of thing."
"They actually do talk, then? They use words, ideas, concepts?"
"Oh yes. Except they do it with meat."
"I thought you just told me they use radio."
"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."
"Oh my god. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. What do you advise?"
"Officially or unofficially?"
"Officially we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all sentient races or multi-beings in the quadrant without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."
"I was hoping you would say that."
"It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"
"I agree 100%. What is there to say? ‘Hello, me. How's it going?’ But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"
"Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C-Space which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact."
"So we just pretend there's no one home in the universe."
"Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you have probed? You're sure they won't remember?"
"They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them."
"A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate that we should be meat’s dream."
"And we can mark this sector unoccupied."
"Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?"
"Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in the G445 zone. Was in contact to galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again."
"They always come around."
"And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unalterably cold the universe would be if one were all alone."
by Paul Spike
In the United States, when catastrophes happen, one of the first public reactions is to blame the schools. A recent headline in Mother Jones typifies this: “Why Teaching Civics in America’s Classrooms Must Be a Trump-Era Priority.” Surely, the logic goes, if civics had been properly taught to them, more than 70 million Americans would not have just voted for a delusional sociopath determined to replace centuries of constitutional democracy with a corrupt dictatorship.
It is true that since 1960 the teaching of civics in American schools has been largely obliterated by funding cuts and “core exam” strategies. By 2011, all federal support for the teaching of social studies and civics in schools had ended. Survey after survey has discovered just how ignorant Americans have become about their nation. For example, two-thirds of them can’t even name the three different branches of the US government. Or, presumably, spot the difference between the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and Trump’s repeated claim that the news media are “enemies of the People.”
So is the solution to the Trumpian abomination to be found in a great renaissance of social studies education? Perhaps but my own American educational experience tells me to be very careful here.
I was introduced to civics in my first year of junior high school. It was called Citizenship and it was 1958. I was 12 years old and living in a middle class suburb of New York City.
My Citizenship teacher was Mrs. Netts, a stout woman in her late 50s with a high-pitched cajoling voice, a rigid bouffant hairdo, and many pastel-coloured crepe dresses. In retrospect, she seems almost a comic figure, a kind of American Dame Edna. At the time, however, Mrs Netts terrified me.
A bit of historical context is needed here. A year earlier, in October 1957, the Soviet Union had launched its Sputnik satellite into orbit around the Earth. This both shocked and shamed America. The Russians had beaten us into space! How could this have happened? Who was to blame? Quickly, the finger was pointed at me and my fellow students and at America’s “failing” schools. Clearly, our educational system was inferior to the ruthless Soviet academic gulag. We had all heard about Russia’s advanced brainwashing techniques. Clearly, after Sputnik, we knew they worked a treat.
I think 1958 was an extraordinary time to be a pubescent American child, a member of the first post-nuclear generation. Mine was not just a generation; it was an explosion of hope and fear, all mixed together in what was literally called a Boom. In fact, under the leadership of war hero President Dwight D. Eisenhower, I was a child soldier in the great Cold War that America was fighting against communist Russia.
In January, America had managed to rush aloft its own anticlimactic answer to Sputnik. However, during those early days of the “space race”, many of our missiles were dramatically less successful, exploding prematurely above Cape Canaveral’s Florida launch pad. Each exploded rocket brought more critical press coverage and the nation’s self-doubt increased accordingly. The nation’s hysterical paranoia about a “missile gap” with Russia would finally reach its crescendo a few years later with the Cuban crisis.
(Receiving far less press attention in 1958 was an incident when a US Air Force B-47 bomber accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb on the small town of Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Fortunately, a catastrophic nuclear chain reaction failed to occur. Did our weapons actually work? Nobody thought to ask. But the conventional explosives in the nuke’s trigger did ignite and inflicted a substantial amount of damage on the small town. It was a disheartening Cold War set back, but largely hushed up. Besides the American press had gotten stuck into another more patriotic story: Elvis had been drafted into the Army.)
“Do you know why you are so lucky to be Americans?” Mrs. Netts asked my class on our very first morning. “Because, if you lived in Russia, the only thing they would give you in school would be propaganda. Russian children are stuffed like chickens full of communist propaganda. They never hear the truth! They don’t know the difference between a fact and a communist lie. Lucky for you, we don’t have propaganda here in America. Boys and girls, count your blessings. And think about how lucky you are.”
We did think about it. I was only 12 years old and my linguistic sophistication was definitely limited. Still, it was clear to me that Mrs. Netts was not joking. She sincerely believed every word she uttered. I could see that Mrs. Netts was stuffing us chickens full of anti-Russian propaganda without the slightest self-awareness about what she was doing.
She couldn’t see it, but I saw it. And some of my schoolmates did too. We would make jokes about communist propaganda and Mrs Netts during lunch in the cafeteria. But nobody dared to raise their hand in class and say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Netts, but isn’t what you are telling us exactly the same as what the Russians tell their children? Isn’t it all propaganda?”
Mrs. Netts had warned us about the consequences of classroom insubordination. She had made it painfully clear.
“This, boys and girls, is your Permanent Record.” She was holding up an empty cardboard file folder. “One day this will be as thick as a telephone book. It will have your name on the outside. Inside will be all of your years at school, from now in the seventh grade until your senior year of high school. All of your grades, every teacher’s report, your attendance records, any episode of misbehaviour, and a complete list of your extracurricular activities. Many other things that you won’t ever know about because your permanent record is highly confidential. When you are in the 12th grade, and applying to college, we will write a recommendation letter for you. It will cover everything in this folder. It will be the single most important factor in determining where…and IF…you go to college.”
A shudder filled the classroom. Even at our age, we knew that our happiness – and our parents’ happiness – was based on a university future. Ideally at an Ivy League college like Harvard or Columbia, but any university would be better than none. We lived in an affluent post-WWII society with a huge network of public and private universities. College in post-war America was now financially possible for the masses. If we behaved ourselves, if our permanent folders held no nasty surprises, if our grades were high, if we joined enough school clubs, then our administrators would write glowing letters of recommendation to the colleges of our choice.
On the other hand, Mrs. Netts said, this was not a given. If our files were full of negative teachers’ reports, low grades, complaints about our wise-ass backtalk and our “poor attitude”, we could put aside dreams of college. Our school guidance counsellors would suggest that we look into the county’s “excellent” vocational training facilities. Forget becoming doctors or teachers. We could pursue careers in automobile repair or hairdressing.
Most of us were first-generation, white middle class kids; many of our parents had not been to university. Many parents had grown up working class, the children of Italian or Jewish or Greek immigrants from the Bronx or the Lower East Side. They had worked their way from urban tenement neighborhoods out to this comfortable green-leafed suburb.
Of course it was a segregated all-white suburb. In 1958, if you lived in a white suburb in the North, the Civil Rights movement was at best a distant murmur, something about Negroes boycotting local Alabama buses. Our parents now owned houses and had lawns to mow. Looking back, one suspicious aspect of the Cold War was how effectively it distracted white Americans from the realities of their society’s profound injustice and dreadful inequality, but in 1958 these realities were still boiling under the surface.
In our parents’ dreams, their children were definitely going to a good college. The anxiety insinuated by Mrs. Netts into our pubescent 12 year old brains was a kind of living nightmare.
“Now boys and girls let me tell you about our very first Citizenship project. You’re going to write your life stories. During class – because you won’t be allowed to take these home – you’ll be writing all about your homes, your families and your memories. Good and bad memories. Tell us about your lives. Are your parents happy or sad? Who did they vote for? Who would you vote for if you could vote? Because this is America, you will be writing only true facts. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have lots of time. And guess what? I will not be giving you grades on your work. You will each get an A for your life story, if they are complete and not just a few paragraphs. These will be the first important things to go into your permanent record.”
It is not difficult to imagine Mrs. Netts at a Trump rally today, wearing a red baseball cap. I’ve watched many television interviews with her contemporary lookalikes these past months
“Of course I’m voting for Trump,” they say. “Just look at everything he’s done for America. He tells it like it is.”
I suspect some of them in their red hats would be more than happy to teach young people about fake news, voter fraud and the black lives matter “riots”, and to call that Citizenship. In sad but important ways, I think, perhaps not much has changed since America was great.
(Paul Spike lives in London. His book Photographs of My Father about the murder of his father, civil rights leader Robert Spike, first published in 1973, remains in print.)