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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021

Rain | 24 New Cases | Yorkville Market | BOLO Blackbear | Fiscal Obfuscation | Fair Shots | Vaccine Efficacy | Past Fairs | Essential Tremor | Little Tremor | Hopkins Meeting | Editor Pugh | Chauncey Gardiner | Water Heroes | Asset Management | Freaky Fruit | Not Okay | Ed Notes | Arson Plea | MCN Scam | Yesterday's Catch | Misery Profit | Headshapes | Hirschman Memorial | Midair Revelation | Prices | Sherman Wrap | Park Degradation | No Unicycles | American Divide | T-Baller | Let's Go | Feel Useless | Game Changers | JFK 1960 | Remember Me

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BENEFICIAL RAINFALL will spread into the area today, with lingering showers into Sunday morning. Roads may become very slick from a buildup of oils on the roads over the dry summer months. Rainfall totals will be highest for higher elevations of Del Norte and northern Humboldt counties. Temperatures will rebound early next week as high pressure builds back into the area and dry weather returns. (NWS)

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24 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.

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A RATHER STARTLING permit application has arrived at the Anderson Valley Community Services District, which asks that the Yorkville Market be converted to a "cannabis manufacturing facility." The applicant is the Walsh family, Lisa Walsh, her mom Mary Lou and dad, Dennis Walsh. Lisa Walsh, the charming proprietress who has managed to keep the store going in a difficult time while raising a pair of active toddlers, explains her situation and plans:

Thank you for checking in. There has been rampant gossip and assumptions flying around for the last few weeks, and very, very few people have thought to ask for clarification “from the horse's mouth” as it were.

To preface, the last year+ has been incredibly difficult with the effects of COVID - not only has there been significantly reduced business, it has been almost impossible to find suitable employees, and the cost of products has increased while availability has gone down. These are the main difficulties, but there have been other challenges as well. Although running the Market for the last (almost) 7 years has been a true joy, there has also been a lot of blood, sweat and tears trying to keep it going, mostly on a very narrow margin. With this in mind, I have been trying to think of the best way to move forward considering COVID is not going away, business has not picked up, and I believe we are heading into a recession. While considering my options, I was approached by two different parties who expressed an interest in purchasing my building if I was able to acquire the appropriate Cannabis permits for manufacturing and processing. This would be a closed business, not open to the public, following all of the county and state requirements for such facilities. I have also had a few other people express interest in investing in such a business. Since it appears there is more money in the cannabis industry, and a need for such a venue in this area, I started the application process with the county a few months ago. Approval is a long process, and I have just completed the first of several phases. Although I would love to keep the Market open, and intend to for as long as I possibly can, I believe there is a point in the future where it will no longer be viable, and at that time I will need an exit plan. This license is intended to give me more options when that day comes so that I can continue to take care of my family.

Unfortunately the ship is sinking, and I do not want to go down with it.

As a side note, I have put it out to the community that if there is any group or individual that would like to purchase the Market I would happily consider other options.

I would be happy to discuss this further with you if you are interested and I appreciate you reaching out directly to me for information.

Hope you are well and look forward to seeing you soon.

Best,

Lisa Walsh, Yorkville Market

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BOLO BLACKBEAR

Blackbear-Lincoln

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CEO: STILL REFUSING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

by Mark Scaramella

Last Tuesday, Supervisor Ted Williams asked about getting departmental revenue and expense reports in the monthly CEO report to the five supervisors because all the CEO report said about the budget was: 

“CEO Fiscal Team Update — The Executive Office Fiscal Team has held two trainings, so far, in August and early September. The second training, held on September 2, 2021, was intended for County staff with two years, or less, experience working with budget review in the County’s enterprise resource planning system, Munis. An entry level training was given on how to produce basic reports that can be easily used, every month, to monitor the health of a department’s budget. Both new and veteran staff attended both trainings, over Zoom. As everyone has continued to adapt to the online trainings, attendees have demonstrated an increased willingness to interact, whether by asking questions or networking out and answering a colleague’s questions.”

And: “Budget Report Update: The County of Mendocino Auditor-Controller Office is still working diligently on closing out the prior 2020-21 Fiscal Year. [which ended June 30, 2021, almost three months ago]. The deadline for final accruals has passed and Fiscal Year 2020-21 is expected to close soon.”

CEO Angelo replied to Williams: “We are waiting for the auditor’s office to close the books. They are short staffed at this point and that’s why you don’t have those numbers. The general public doesn’t understand that any numbers we present are dependent on numbers from the auditor’s office. So once we have that information we will be able to have that information to present before the Board.”

Williams replied: “There’s always a reason why we can’t… There’s got to be a feature in the County’s software where you just hit a button and it generates a report with revenue and expenses to date. It’s a snapshot, it would give the board and the public and probably the department heads something to go on. Right now you could ask me about how much the DOT (Transportation department) has spent this year. I would have no idea. Maybe Howard [Dashiell, DOT Director] knows. It should be as easy as hitting a keystroke to generate this report. I know the CEO doesn’t have access to this report. Can the Board ask the Auditor to start providing it?” 

Angelo: “Of course you can ask the Auditor to provide that information. We could ask the Auditor’s office to include that in the CEO report each month. There’s no issue on this one. Thank you.”

All the Board members agreed that asking the Auditor was a good idea. CEO Angelo then asked who was supposed to contact the Auditor. 

Board Chair Dan Gjerde replied: “Let’s speak about that after the meeting.”

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It doesn't require a close textual analysis to see how wrong this message from the CEO is.

Most readers have probably forgotten that the CEO and her staff have been doing “budget training” as far back as August of 2018 (and probably earlier):

“Budget Update, CEO Report, August 2018 — Although the Board of Supervisors passed a balanced budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 on June 19, 2018, the budget team is ramping up their efforts to improve the budget process for FY 2019-20 and ensuring good financial stewardship in FY 2018-19 by implementing the following departmental budget administration and management practices and reporting methodologies. Budget Management trainings will be held once per month for department budget staff. Topics will include; Budget Management 101, Budget Metrics, Monitoring 1000 series, Budget development practices, Quarterly Reporting, just to name a few.”

Obviously, newly promoted Assistant CEO Darcie Antle, who is in charge of the CEO’s “fiscal team,” has failied at budget training, much less “ensuring good financial stewardship” or even “quarterly reporting” because none of those “training topics” from way back in 2018 have produced a single report to the Board. No management, no metrics, no “development practices,” no quarterly reporting of budget versus actual, nor whatever else they implied they were working on.

Yet here they are more than three years later still using “training” as the excuse for denying budget info to the Board, which the Board has asked for time and time and time again to no avail.

Then we have the CEO saying that the Auditor’s office is “short staffed at this point.”

Which is not true.

According to the vacancy list in the same September 14 CEO report, the Auditor’s office: “AUDITOR-CONTROLLER: Funded positions: 13. Vacancies: 2. Employees in Ukiah: 12.” 

So they have 12 employees in Ukiah and one or two vacancies which does not sound particularly “short staffed.”

Then we have the CEO’s claim that “any numbers we present are dependent on numbers from the auditor’s office.”

Also untrue. Only the revenue numbers come from the Auditor’s office. The CEO’s fiscal team already has budgeted revenues by department which do not require new data; only the actual revenues against the budgeted revenue require input from the Auditor and there’s no reasons for them to be delayed for months and months.

On the expense side, the Supervisors already have the budgeted expenses by department (as they demonstrated in last May’s CEO report without input from the Auditor) and the expenses to date by department should indeed be a matter of a push of a button.

We have no idea why Supervisor Williams would say, “I know the CEO doesn’t have access to this report,” because the CEO has access to all the reports, and certainly has the expenses to date by department.

CEO Angelo has promised monthly and/or quarterly budget versus actual (depending on who’s asking and when) info for years and never provided it, and the Supervisors let her skate and avoid and obfuscate year after year after year. Mendocino County remains the only government agency in all of Mendocino County which steadfastly refuses to produce ordinary monthly budget reports.

Now CEO Angelo has successfully dodged the responsibility again by pretending that the problem is the Auditor who, if the Board ever really gets around to asking (which we doubt), will probably explain that they only have the revenue data, not the expenses. Then CEO Angelo will try to use this answer from the Auditor as another reason to complain about Acting Auditor Chamise Cubbison when the CEO’s own “fiscal team” is where the problem clearly lies. At no time in the past has the CEO ever said that reporting budget versus actual expenses requires anything from the Auditor.

CEO Angelo and Chair Gjerde already know this, of course, and that’s why Gjerde didn’t want to get into who would ask the Auditor for the data or when she would be asked, and deferred the question to “after the meeting.”

Last month Supervisor Mulheren posted on her facebook page: “CEO report will include a monthly financial report after the close of this fiscal year.” 

Which could mean sometime after July of 2022, if then. (Unless Supervisor Mulheren has her fiscal years confused — maybe she meant June 30 of 2021? Who knows? — which would make it even worse.) 

Last Tuesday, Ms. Mulheren did not comment on the CEO’s latest pathetic excuse, and did not ask how the CEO has avoided this basic budget question again and again or whether “monthly financial reports” should have already begun for this fiscal year.

As former Plumas County Supervisor (and former Mendocino Supervisorial candidate) Jon Kennedy said in July: “The Supervisors, if they knew enough about all the Sheriff's budget units, (they don't) they could spend the required time to ‘audit’ the budget(s) themselves. As they should with every department's budget. Doing this not only makes them more knowledgeable about each budget, but it forces open conversations with the department heads, that doesn't necessarily have to turn into a public spectacle. As a former County Supervisor who did JUST THAT in regard to making it a priority to learn each department's budget better than most department heads knew thier own, I can attest to the importance of spending those extra hours understanding each budget. The assumption that internal audits are performed each year for all departments is not an accurate description of what really happens at the Auditor's office. Even the external audits that are done by professional third party auditors (legal mandate) aren't the same as face to face discussions of priorities of each department. Not even close. These audits are completed with only one thing in mind, and that's to make sure funds are managed in a legally compliant manner, with a goal of having zero to minimal audit exceptions. These audits don't include real talk about serving the public.”

The extent of dereliction of this fundamental duty of Mendocino County management is beyond understanding. We have no choice but to conclude that CEO Angelo is hiding something. And by accepting the CEO’s blatantly wrong, misleading or procrastinating answers means that the Board just can’t bring themselves (or doesn’t want) to fix it.

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BIG GAP BETWEEN PFIZER, MODERNA VACCINES SEEN for preventing COVID hospitalizations

Data collected from 18 states between March and August suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19 by 91% in the first four months after receiving the second dose. Beyond 120 days, however, that vaccine efficacy drops to 77%. Meanwhile, Moderna's vaccine was 93% effective at reducing the short-term risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and remained 92% effective after 120 days.

latimes.com/science/story/2021-09-17/study-finds-big-gap-between-pfizer-moderna-vaccines-at-preventing-covid-hospitalizations

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THE GREAT BOONVILLE FAIRS OF YESTERDAY

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A READER WRITES: “I caught Alan Alda on Colbert the other night and he had Essential Tremor pretty bad —but he's plenty functional and cheerful and as intelligent as ever. Making educational podcasts. The band played "Suicide is painless." His father, Robert Alda played Sky Masterson, the high roller who falls for a salvation Army lass, in the original Broadway Guys and Dolls. Unlike Brando, who had the part in the movie, Robert Alda could really sing. A friend who plays the mandolin has ET. Says it has improved his tremolo.”

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BOARD OF SUPERVISORS SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA, SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

Community Partners, Colleagues, and Interested Parties:

The Board of Supervisors Special Meeting Agenda for the Tuesday, September 21, 2021, meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx

Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.

Thank you,

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Executive Office

501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010

Phone: (707) 463-4441


Agenda:

Item 3a: Discussion and Possible Action Including Adoption of Resolution Ratifying the Declaration of a Local Emergency Related to the Hopkins Fire as Proclaimed by the Chief Executive Officer/Director of Emergency Services and Ratifying the Existence of a Local Health Emergency as Proclaimed by the Health Officer (Sponsors: Executive Office and Public Health)

Item 3b: Discussion and Possible Adoption of Urgency Ordinance Authorizing an Administrative Permit Program for the Temporary Use and Occupancy of Trailer Coaches For Use as a Shelter Following the Hopkins Fire for Affected Properties within the Footprint Area of the Hopkins Fire (Sponsor: Planning and Building Services)

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HELLO FROM THE NEW FORT BRAGG ADVOCATE EDITOR

Hello, 

My name is Chris Pugh, and I’m the new editor of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and the Mendocino Beacon. I previously worked as the Chief Photographer at the Ukiah Daily Journal and am a Mendocino County native born in Ukiah in the early 1970s.

Before my career in journalism began, I had had many exciting jobs. In the 1990s, I worked as a meat cutter at the Redwood Valley Market and then moved to San Jose to work in the tech industry at an internet startup. I moved back to Mendocino County in the early 2000s and began working for Tom Segar doing web development and e-commerce for his online bookselling business, Soda Creek Press. Later I worked at New Dimensions Foundation for Michael and Justine Toms, helping to produce their ongoing radio series, New Dimensions.

A few years back, I co-founded a local photography club and served as president until 2018, and in July of this year, I helped open an art gallery in Ukiah with the idea that artists shouldn’t have to pay fees to show their work. Community is important to me.

While working at the Ukiah Daily Journal, I covered large and small stories and often told people that my job included everything from farmer’s markets to wildfires. I’m excited to be back working in the news industry and getting to know the people of Fort Bragg and Mendocino.

You may have also noticed that Debbie Holmer has retired, and this week’s edition is her last. I want to wish her all the best in her retirement and thank her for the many years of dedicated service to the newspapers — They wouldn’t be what they are today without her.

Please feel free to reach out to me at chrispugh@advocate-news.com.

Chris Pugh

Ukiah

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HOPKINS FIRE HEROES

To the Editor:

We would like to bring attention to some private citizens who, on their own, at their own expense, filled their water trucks and rushed to the aid of the residents in the “Hopkins” fire on Sept. 12. The firefighters, law enforcement, water truck owners and neighbors were amazing. Due to their fast, efficient response many homes were saved.

Thanks again to you generous, community minded water truck owners and neighbors who jumped in this fire fight. You are appreciated beyond words.

Mark, Stasi and Rob, Mark Davis Insurance Agency, Inc.

Ukiah

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JUST IN from Enchanted Meadow:

Mendocino Redwood Company security at Enchanted Meadow "Below McDonald" THP (yes, Malcolm's place), protecting loggers from possible protestors of old redwood logging along Albion River, 9/15/2021.

The security company is Lear Asset Management: learasset.com/security.html

Notice the keffiyeh, traditional Arab head dress, appropriated and worn by Lear Asset goons.

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A READER WRITES:

You should have told me that you were running a little piece on freaky fruits. I have just the pictures to go with the story! The freaky fruits contest will be ridden with malformed penises, the most common abnormality of the garden. 

The organizers will rethink doing the contest in the future, the uptight will be apoplectic, and the majority of fairgoers will snicker with delight! It ought to be a fun time, take your camera.

Also is the time-honored picture of Charles Manson Cheese.

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A READER WONDERS: "Sherwood Oaks Health Center in Fort Bragg houses some of the most vulnerable of us who must, by circumstance, live out their days warehoused. Now a resident has tested positive, after three staff in the last two weeks have brought it into the house. And apparently No Mandate for vaccination?? And all the stringent precautions they have been careful to take for the last 19 months? As one who cares deeply for this population, I am worried and not a little angry. I'm told that to ask if one has been immunized is Not OK. Huh? This is after the deaths from an earlier outbreak? Excuse me for being a little confused. Does ANYONE really care about our frail elders and the others who must reside in that environment? IS ANYBODY WATCHING?"

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ED NOTES

Stone

KEEPING UP WITH MR. STONE, the Black Bart Trail Burglar. 

Joan Vivaldo reports: “The Preliminary Examination for Douglas Stone had been set for 9/15/2021 at 10am for several months. The 9/14/2021 online calendar confirmed the setting. I drove to Ukiah from San Francisco, arriving at Courtroom H at 9:55 am. Not seeing the prosecutor Ms. Larsen, or Mr. Stone or his attorney, Mr. Runfola, I suspected there had been a change. Indeed, at 10:06, the matter came up. Mr. Stone and Mr. Runfola attended by ZOOM, which provided voice but not picture until the last 30 seconds. The People, via Ms. Larsen, had filed a Motion to Continue until 10/12/2021 at 10am so all witnesses could be present. The continuance was granted. The witnesses consist of many police officers, all of whom can attend on 10/12/2021. It is expected to be an all day affair, and Mr. Runfola expects it to spill over to the next day. Mr. Stone appears much older than he did in his booking photo, and is now living in Arizona."

Background: "The Unlikely Burglar of Black Bart Trail"

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COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT of Schools, Michelle Hutchins, called to flesh out Tommy Wayne Kramer's vivid criticism of a MCOE-sponsored weekend at the Little River Inn. Kramer wrote:

"SERVING THE PUBLIC: Among the many places that are too expensive for you to visit, let alone spend several days eating and sleeping and loafing around, is the Little River Inn over on the coast. Luckily you can do the next best thing, and foot the bill for some of the wealthiest people in the county and state to visit there to eat, sleep and go to seminars and conferences. And that’s just what the Mendocino County Office of Education recently did, and then bragged about in a press release the Daily Journal ran a week or so back. These administrative parasites that have burrowed into the public education system get phenomenal salaries, retirement packages that would bring many tears to your eyes, and then flaunt their expense accounts on what Michelle Hutchins, Superintendent of Mendocino Schools, called a ‘high quality experience with comfortable accommodations and excellent service.’ Why can’t desk bound administrators Zoom a conference, like they made our kids take classes all year?” 

OUCH!

SUPERINTENDENT HUTCHINS called to say that the gathering includes school administrators from all over NorCal supplemented with guests from urban districts. The event was started by Paul Tichinin during his long reign as county schools chief. Ms. Hutchins pointed out that food was purchased at a variety of Coast restaurants and that all-in-all, apart from the educational benefits of information exchanges with area administrators in a difficult time, the conclave was of clear benefit to Coast businesses, with many attendees returning to the Coast for private vacations.

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WILLIAM EVERS, AKA RED BEARD, our famous fugitive, has been in the County at least since December of 2020 when he burglarized retired judge Dave Nelson's cabin five miles west of Ukiah. Judge Nelson said Red Beard had apparently been squatting at a property within view of Nelson's place for some time prior to “trashing my cabin,” as the judge described Red Beard's burglary. “He took all the liquor and even cooking condiments and left a terrible mess,” Nelson said. “A group of property owners was able to confront him one day but he outran everyone. That first photo of him was taken near my property.”

AFTER that initial sighting five miles west of Ukiah, Red Beard next turned up on some surveillance footage, in February, carrying a rifle stolen from a Philo home.

IN MAY he was spotted on Cameron Road near Elk, meaning he was by then somewhere in the densely forested, precipitously steep hillsides between Greenwood Road and the Navarro River. On an encounter with deputies on Cameron Road, Red Beard shot at his pursuers who shot back at him, both sides of the gunfire unsuccessful.

HE HAS RETURNED a couple of times to Cameron Road to burglarize homes and, two weeks ago, was nearly caught by deputies as he rifled a house on Navarro Ridge Road, meaning he was now, or was then, on the north side of the Navarro in the Salmon Creek Drainage, which includes the area from Navarro Ridge Road through heavily populated Albion.

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STILL ANOTHER FIRE STARTER MOVING ON TO STATE PRISON.

With his jury trial scheduled to commence this coming Monday, defendant Alfredo Orduno Hopper, age 36, generally of Ukiah, chose to forego a trial and, instead, plead no contest to the charge of felony arson of property, said crime occurring on Old River Road in the vicinity of Ruddick Cunningham Road in May of this year. 

Orduno-Hopper

The defendant intentionally and maliciously set fire to property last May around 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the Talmage area. A passing motorist saw the defendant feeding a fire already underway and called 9-1-1 for help. 

To resolve his case short of trial, the defendant was required to stipulate to a state prison sentence of 36 months, the maximum sentence allowed for this particular fire crime under current California law.

The defendant’s case was referred to the Adult Probation Department for preparation of an information and background packet to accompany the defendant to state prison. 

The stipulated state prison sentence will be imposed on October 19, 2021 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department A at Ukiah's downtown courthouse.

Upon his eventual release from prison on parole, the defendant will be required to register annually as an arson offender with local law enforcement for life in the city or county where he eventually resides.

Those interested in this defendant or the state prison sentence to be imposed are welcome to attend the sentencing hearing. Be aware that masks are still required in and around the courthouse.

The law enforcement agency that developed the evidence supporting today’s conviction was the California Highway Patrol. Fire personnel from the Hopland Fire Department, the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, and Cal Fire also responded to the scene. 

The attorney who is handling the prosecution of this particular fire-starting defendant is Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman accepted the defendant’s change of plea Thursday afternoon. Judge Keith Faulder will be the sentencing judge on October 19th.

(DA Presser)

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THE FIRST DEDICATED INTERNET CONNECTION IN THE MENDOCINO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

(repost with link to our expose of the MCN scam)

On this site, in the summer of 1993, the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) became home to one of the first dedicated internet connections established in a school district in the united states. MUSD was selected to pioneer this historic, technological innovation because of its decades-long commitment to equipping its teachers and schools with the training and resources to create experiential, project-based learning opportunities for all students. The district’s partners in this groundbreaking endeavor were the Autodesk Foundation and the National Aeronautics And Space Administration’s K-12 National Research And Education Network (NREN) Initiative. 

With the internet connection in place, musd staff and their partners developed nationally acclaimed, internet-infused curriculum, participated in dozens of projects and partnerships related to the use of the internet in the classroom, created life-long learning opportunities for their students and the broader community, and inspired thousands of learners of all ages worldwide. 

In 1994, educators in the district created the Mendocino Community Network – which established the school district as the first internet provider for the coastal community’s homes and businesses. 

An inscribed plaque at Mendocino High School is also a typical example of local historical re-write. Using free student labor, and enjoying free rent on the school campus, the school's alleged techno-learning center was quickly privatized for the benefit of private individuals who sold internet services which less blessed local internet start-ups did not enjoy.

Funding for the original 56 kbps dedicated tcp/ip frame-relay circuit was provided by the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 and was administered by nasa’s nren educational and technical teams at the ames research center at moffett field. 

This plaque celebrates the tireless and dedicated efforts of the educators and students who participated in this unique endeavor, their partners at the autodesk foundation and nasa, and the broader community that so enthusiastically supported this effort. May their work inspire the audacious dreams of future educators and students of The Mendocino Unified School District.

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MCN’s “plaque” is revisionism. Our expose of this scam: "The MCN Report"

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 17, 2021

Bernal, Coatney, Gilman

OSCAR BERNAL, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.

STEPHANIE COATNEY-MILLER, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

JACOB GILMAN, Windsor/Ukiah. Vandalism.

Gutierrez, Jones, Martinez

JUAN GUTIERREZ-MORENO, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

SHANE JONES, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-intoxication with drugs and alcohol, paraphernalia, contempt of court.

ANTONIO MARTINEZ-ANEAS, Willits. DUI.

Morris, Nielsen, Wellbaum

GARY MORRIS, Clearlake Oaks/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

MARK NIELSEN, Nice/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

CURTIS WELLBAUM, Fort Bragg. Failure to register, probation revocation.

* * *

UNTIL LIBERALS UNDERSTAND that vaccination politics has an economic as well as political dimension, we’ll never bring the pandemic under control, assuming it can be brought under control. As hard as it may be to believe most of the unvaccinated don’t listen to Tucker Carlson’s nightly exploitations of COVID for political advantage and ratings. Most of the unvaccinated are the working poor, who have little experience in dealing with the American medico-pharma-insurance complex and the encounters they’ve had have been miserable, expensive and unsatisfying. Covid should have propelled National Health Care to the forefront of the political agenda. Instead, the Biden administration has chosen to empower the very system that has failed to provide basic health care to Americans for the past century. No wonder the poor are skeptical. It’s convenient to blame Murdoch, Trump, and the GOP for these failings, but the rot goes much deeper and closer to home than that. Take the profit out of human misery and you’ll get much closer to “healing” the country.

— Jeffrey St. Clair

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Headshapes Book, 1902

* * *

REMEMBERING JACK HIRSCHMAN

Jack Hirschman Memorial

What: A celebration of life of San Francisco Poet Laureate Emeritus Jack Hirschman (1937-2021), a long-time resident of North Beach brought many international poets to the City and became one of the most beloved poets of our times. The celebration will start at Spec’s. In the New Orleans tradition of the Second Line, a procession will wind its way from Columbus and Broadway, up Grant Avenue, stopping at Café Triste before heading to Washington Square Park for an international line-up of poets and musicians from 2-4PM.

Where: In North Beach, starting at Spec’s 12 Alder/William Saroyan Place, proceeding to Café Triste, Vallejo and Grant Avenue, then Live Worms Gallery 1345 Grant Avenue, and ending up at Washington Square Park (Columbus and Filbert) for the program

When: Saturday October 2, 2021. 12-4pm.

Why: Jack Hirschman lived the better part of his productive life as a poet, painter, translator and organizer in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, functioning as the poetic engine of the City, and supporting poets from the novice to the celebrated, from the local to the internationally known. He was admired in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. His three-volume major work, The Arcanes, constitute the most prolific output by an American poet since Pablo Neruda. He served as the Fourth San Francisco Poet Laureate and was the creator of the International Poetry Festival, bringing poets from around the world and helping to make San Francisco the City of Poets.

Admission: The event is free and open to the public. People are invited to contribute items to an altar at Spec’s, and to join the Second Line to the Café Triste, and finish at the stage in Washington Square Park, on Filbert Avenue and Columbus Avenue.

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

I run a small auto glass replacement shop, and the prices of parts and materials have been trending skyward, if you can get stuff at all. Our main sealant, urethane, has gone up nearly 20% in price in the last month, after being at a stable price for years. Parts? Sorry, that’s on backorder ’til whenever. Trash pickup has doubled in the last five years, and the service is getting unreliable, because the trash service is short of help, and they can’t keep their trucks running for lack of parts. I just got a notice from AmerenMO that our utility bill is going to be raised anywhere from 8% to 13% next year. I could go on, and on…

* * *

WRAPPING THE WORLD'S LARGEST TREE

Firefighters on the KNP Complex at Sequoia Kings Canyon NPS used structure wrap to protect the historic Sequoia National Park entrance sign and the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest tree. Friday, the fire started to sweep into some of the Sequoia groves.

* * *

POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE CAPITULATES TO RANCHERS

by George Wuerthner

The final Record of (ROD) on livestock operations management at Point Reyes National Seashore was released this week. Unfortunately, and as feared, it not only maintains the ongoing degradation of this national park unit by privately owned domestic livestock, but it expands the opportunities for a handful of ranchers to do even more damage to the public’s landscape with additional lands opened for grazing, as well as the planting of row crops.

Tule elk are a rare subspecies of the animal only found in California, and Point Reyes is the only park that holds Tule elk. Photo George Wuerthner.

As in the draft document, the final management plan proposes to kill the native Tule elk if their populations grow beyond what the ranchers believe (as the NPS jumps to) is undesirable. The public submitted some 50,000 comments opposed to continued ranching and the killing of rare native Tule elk. Point Reyes Seashore is the only national park where Tule elk exist.

Among the impacts caused by the ongoing livestock operations is the pollution of the park’s waterways, increased soil erosion, the spread of exotic weeds, the transfer of park vegetation from wildlife use to consumption by domestic livestock, the use of public facilities j(the ranch buildings, etc. are all owned by the U.S. citizens but are used just as if they were private property, hindering public access to its lands.

Indeed, one stream in the park has some of the highest coliform bacteria counts found along the entire California coast. For instance, a recent survey found E. coli bacteria concentrations up to 40 times higher than state health standards. Likewise, enterococci bacteria were up to 300 times the state health standard at Kehoe Lagoon.

About one-third of the 71,000-acre national Seashore is designated a “pastoral zone,” where 15 ranch operations graze approximately 5700 cattle (more than ten times the number of Tule elk) on 28,000 acres of parkland as well as 10,000 acres in the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A total of 24 ranches operate on these public lands.

Proponents of continued ranching/farming in the National Seashore argue that ongoing livestock operations maintain a “cultural” and “historic” landscape. Imagine if we applied these same criteria to other national park units. Domestic sheep once heavily grazed Yosemite. Redwood National Park’s old-growth forests were once logged. Fur trapping was once a prevalent occupation in Grand Teton National Park. Oil and gas exploration and operating wells were historically common in Glacier National Park. And, of course, the killing of wolves occurred in Denali and other park units. Gold mining was common in Yukon-Charley National Preserve. Should we permit these “cultural” and “historic” traditions to occur in these parks?

It should be pointed out that there are numerous opportunities outside of a national park unit to produce beef and dairy. For example, more than 5 million cattle (dairy and beef) graze California private lands where ongoing livestock operations are permitted. Therefore, we don’t need to compromise a national park unit to produce something available elsewhere.

Is this kind of damage from private livestock the kind of impact the National Park Service should permit? Photo George Wuerthner.

International Ecological Significance

In the 1950s, seven NPS studies concluded that a national park unit in the Point Reyes peninsula would provide the vulnerable landscape from future development. Point Reyes is a spectacular landscape of open prairies and patches of woodlands home to 460 species, 876 plants, and many different marine and terrestrial mammals. In addition, the Seashore harbors a hundred listed rare, threatened, and endangered species, an incredible diversity given the Seashore’s relatively small size.

This biological diversity prompted UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program to designate Point Reyes as an international biosphere reserve. California also gives the marine environment special recognization through its designations of the Point Reyes State Marine Reserve & Point Reyes State Marine Conservation Area, Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve & Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area, and Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area.

In 1962 when Point Reyes National Seashore was established, the federal government purchased the ranches found on the peninsula at fair market value. As a result, ranch owners received hundreds of millions of dollars. Some used the money to buy property in other parts of California so they could continue to farm. But some of the ranchers lobbied for and got a generous 25-year extension to operate using the publicly owned property. After that time, they were supposed to leave the park.

However, when the allotted time for vacating the public’s land, they balked and managed to get another extension. This lease extension has been repeated several times for nearly 60 years, and again the NPS is bucking to political pressure to extend the leases for another couple of decades.

This plan is in direct violation of the law creating the national Seashore. The legislation requires that Point Reyes National Seashore “shall be administered by the Secretary without impairment of its natural values, in a manner which provides for such recreational, educational, historic preservation, interpretation, and scientific research opportunities as are consistent with, based upon, and supportive of the maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment within the area.” Therefore, permitting continued livestock operations in the park unit is not consistent with the stated legislative goals.

For more details on this arrangement, see my previous commentaries.

What Is Behind The NPS Capitulation?

I am extremely disappointed in the National Park Service for this decision and that the Biden administration upholds it. I can only assume that there is an underlying political motivation. If we can’t maintain a national park unit as a sanctuary for wild nature, where can we?

One idea suggested to me is that Governor Gavin Newsom up for a recall vote put pressure on the administration to maintain the current dairy and livestock operations to avoid greater controversy for Democrats in general. Of course, I am not privy to any insider’s knowledge, but certainly endorsing private businesses and environmental destruction of public property for private financial gain is not the usual NPS management philosophy.

Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, and Resource Renewal Institute have previously sued to get the NPS to consider all the ecological values that are impaired and to follow the law. Let’s hope that a court will agree that the NPS is not following the legislative mandate to protect the park’s natural values and vacates this plan that is demeaning to the public and the reputation of the National Park Service.

(George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)

* * *

* * *

DOES AMERICA HATE THE ‘POORLY EDUCATED’?

Michael Sandel's "The Tyranny of Merit" doesn't say so, but the pandemic has become the ultimate expression of upper-class America's obsession with meritocracy

by Matt Taibbi

It was impossible to mistake the tone of Joe Biden’s announcement of a vaccine mandate last week. It was an angry speech, which started by explaining that “many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated,” and went on to announce that “our patience is wearing thin,” and “your refusal has cost all of us.” Biden, not normally one for oratorial effects, even conveyed a sense of barely contained rage by muttering, “Get vaccinated!” as he walked off the stage.

“Enjoying the angry Dad vibes from this Biden speech,” came the cheerful comment of former Justice Department spokesman and MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller:

Matthew Miller: Enjoying the angry dad vibes from this Biden speech. He is turning the damn car around.

Who’d attracted Biden’s anger — the unvaccinated — was clear. The why was more confusing. The president decried how “the unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals… leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,” a legitimate enough point. But after reassuring those who’d “done their part” that just “one out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized” this summer, Biden nonetheless explained that “a distinct minority of Americans” is “causing unvaccinated people to die.” He added: “We’re going to protect the vaccinated from unvaccinated co-workers.” 

As many noted, the statements were contradictory. If the vaccine really is that effective, the overwhelming consequences of of any failure to get vaccinated will be borne by the unvaccinated themselves. But Biden’s speech was as much about directing anger as policy. The mandate was an extraordinary step, but Biden’s unique — and uniquely strange — rhetorical setup, which framed the decision as a way to stop “them” from doing “damage” and killing “us,” was just as big a story. 

The arrival of Covid-19 has exacerbated a troubling divide that’s been growing in America for decades, and is elucidated at length in Michael Sandel’s recent The Tyranny of Merit. The book tells a politically unsettling story about meritocracy in America, one that runs counter to prevailing narratives on both the left and the right. Though mention of Covid-19 is limited to a few paragraphs in a new prologue, the pandemic in many ways has become the ultimate test case of Sandel’s thesis: that we Americans have been so conditioned to believe that winners deserve to win that we’ve found ways to hate losers of any kind as moral failures, even when life is at stake, and especially when lack of education is seen as a factor.

It’s not remotely the same kind of book, but The Tyranny of Merit does follow up on themes in Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. Lasch’s late seventies premise described American society devolved into a ceaseless all-against-all competition on all fronts, from the professional to the physical to the social and sexual and beyond. Moreover, Lasch wrote, if the original “American dream” was imbued with at least some vague ideas that success should be tied to virtues like thrift, discipline, and wisdom, by the disco age “the pursuit of wealth lost the few shreds of moral meaning.”

In the time since Lasch’s iconic treatise, though, relentless messaging campaigns emanating from both sides of the political aisle re-emphasized the idea that material success was tied to moral character. Ronald Reagan evangelized the idea that poverty was mostly a deserved state, and government at most owed those who weren’t to blame for their own problems. When Bill Clinton came along, he took Reagan’s finger-wagging moralizing and re-cast it in the cheery new technocratic language of global capitalism. “We must do what America does best,” Clinton said at his inauguration. “Offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all.”

Clinton’s formula was really Yin to Reagan’s Yang: in a world that offered more “opportunity,” there was now even less excuse for failure. We forget, because the pre-9/11 world seems so long ago, but Clinton-era editorialists spent much of the late nineties hyping the opportunity gospel. We were told a combination of the Internet and an increasingly integrated international economy created vast new worlds of material possibility, for those willing to “fill the unforgiving minute” and run the race. “If globalization were a sport,” wrote an exultant Thomas Friedman in 1999, “it would be the 100-yard dash, over and over and over. And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day.”

Onetime labor parties paradoxically were the biggest boosters of the new hyper-competitive global economy, whose central feature was forcing Western workers to face off against masses of laborers in China, South Asia, Mexico, and other places where political rights were, shall we say, less of a priority. As the stress on former blue-collar workers intensified, politicians often sold the public on the idea that higher learning was their Golden Ticket out of the miseries of debt, higher medical costs, and especially social immobility. 

By the time Barack Obama came along, it was axiomatic among the cosmopolitan set that anyone with enough ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy should be able to get ahead. Sandel amusingly points out that Obama often culled from a Sly and the Family Stone song in describing his vision of modern American capitalism, using the phrase “You can make it if you try” 140 times during his presidency.

The explosive and uncomfortable message at the heart of The Tyranny of Meritocracy is the idea that the resulting political divide is now less about ideology than education. Sandel deserves credit for taking on a subject that almost no one in high society wants to hear about, let alone those in the academic world. Forget red versus blue: he shows the real gulf is between those who have diplomas, and those who don’t. The subtext is that people with the right degrees deserve to be rich, and have health insurance, and good schooling for their kids, and dignified work, while those who threw away their books after high school deserve failure, in the same way smokers deserve lung disease — especially if they make unsanctioned political choices. 

From the 1940s through the 1970s, those without university backgrounds reliably voted Democratic, but center-left parties here and in Europe have since become more upper-class in their orientation, while those without diplomas overwhelmingly back right-wing or nationalist parties. Sandel notes that the “most conspicuous casualties” of recent populist uprisings around the world have been “liberal and center-left political parties,” which makes sense given the flipped demographics.

The statistics in America on this score are incredible. In the 1992 presidential race, the thirty districts with the highest percentage of diploma-holding voters split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. By the 2018 midterms, all but three of them voted Democratic. In 2016, Hillary Clinton did better than Barack Obama in 48 of the 50 districts with the highest percentage of college graduates, but did worse than Obama in 47 of the 50 districts with the lowest percentage.

Moreover, university graduates now dominate positions of influence in a way not seen for generations. If even in the early 1960s a fourth of all members of congress lacked a college degree, by the 2000s, 100% of all Senators and 95% of House members had one. Also, as Sandel notes, almost no one in a position of power in today’s United States knows what it means to have ever had a working class job. 

“In the U.S., about half of the labor force is employed in working class jobs, defined as manual labor, service industry, and clerical jobs,” he writes. “But fewer than 2 percent of the members of congress had such jobs before election.” 

Meanwhile, despite the fact that universities are more diverse with regard to race and gender than ever, from a class perspective they remain symbols of iron exclusivity. “At Harvard and other Ivy League colleges,” Sandel writes, “there are more students from families in the top 1 percent… than there are in the bottom half of the income distribution combined.” He notes that two-thirds of the students at Harvard and Stanford come from the top fifth of the income scale, while “despite generous financial aid packages, fewer than 4 percent of Ivy League students come from the bottom fifth.” 

Sandel starts his book talking about the great college admissions scandal of 2019, which engulfed thirty-three parents (including actress Felicity Huffman) in an all-time revolting scheme to bribe a path for kids into prestige schools. One parent paid $1.2 million to get his daughter into Yale on a soccer scholarship, despite the fact that she didn’t play soccer. 

That scandal was about more than a small group of parents wanting to spare their kids what Sandel calls “the precarity of middle-class life.” Most of the offenders could afford to simply buy affluent futures for their kids, via trust funds if need be. More significantly, they were trying to buy the “borrowed luster of merit.” Why was that so important? Because increasingly in the last decades, lacking the right credentials began to be seen as an acute moral failing.

Sandel calls it the “last acceptable prejudice”: credentialism, i.e. looking down on people without certificates and degrees attesting to expertise, status, accomplishment. The author, who teaches Political Philosophy at Harvard, put it this way (emphasis mine):

“At a time when racism and sexism are out of favor (discredited though not eliminated), credentialism is the last acceptable prejudice…

“In a series of surveys… a team of social psychologists found that college-educated respondents have more bias against less-educated people than they do against other disfavored groups. The researchers surveyed the attitudes of well-educated Europeans toward a range of people who are typically victims of discrimination—Muslims, people of Turkish descent living in Western Europe, people who are poor, obese, blind, and less educated. They found that the poorly educated were disliked most of all.”

Similar studies in America also showed respondents had the most negative feelings of all about the less-educated. Unfortunately, “smart” in the last decades also began to mean different things to different sectors of American society. 

To politicians of the pre-Trump era, Wall Streeters were whip-smart experts. To the rest of America, they were depraved amoral scum who’d robbed the country and whose walls full of degrees only added to the insult. The swindlers at Enron were the “smartest guys in the room,” and Goldman, Sachs bankers were the “smartest guys on Wall Street,” but this smartness didn’t count for much among the people wiped out after 2008. The public seethed even more to see that the supposedly genius-level intellects of bank executives mostly got used to ask pals in government to bail out their sociopathic, and often comically stupid, investment decisions. 

All over, “smart” lost its luster. “Smart” bombs turned out mainly to be efficient machines for creating civilian casualties, “intelligence” became a synonym for grotesque security oversights and mass law-breaking, and commercial media especially became a place where the ordinary person could see the almost total moral uselessness of advanced degrees. In one of Sandel’s most interesting passages, he talks about the conclusions the average person drew from watching the increasing vapidity of “what passes for political argument” in public discourse:

“Citizens across the political spectrum find this empty public discourse frustrating and disempowering. They rightly sense that the absence of robust public debate does not mean that no policies are being decided. It simply means they are being decided elsewhere, out of public view…”

In other words, audiences correctly grasped that the stupidity of political debates on TV did not mean America’s actual politics were stupid. They just surmised the more substantive debates were being hidden from them, with the assent of the news media. This only increased their fury toward all of these groups.

After the election of Donald Trump, upper-class America began to look down at the uneducated not just for the implied offense of not working harder to get ahead, but for their political choices, now seen as ignorant, bigoted and protective of unearned privilege. Article after article appeared after 2016 claiming that fear of “loss of status,” not economics, explained the rage emanating from the heartland. 

Some of these analyses played out like extensions of nineties-era Tom Friedman-style opportunity rhetoric, which suggested that only those who resisted “integration” with the rest of the planet, or relied on their governments “to protect them from… creative destruction,” would fall behind in the dynamic digital economy. Post-Trump, the twist was that those without degrees in flyover country were rebelling not just against having to compete with educated Chinese and Indians abroad for jobs, but against increased opportunities for women and minorities at home. Like white ballplayers after Jackie Robinson, they were bitter about losing undeserved status, and banded together behind bigots like Trump, who promised to shut borders and restore ancient hierarchies.

According to Sandel, years of meritocratic messaging turbo-charged this political controversy with a miserable trick of basic psychology:

“Protest against injustice looks outward; it complains that the system is rigged, that the winners have cheated or manipulated their way to the top. Protest against humiliation is psychologically more freighted. It combines resentment of the winners with nagging self-doubt: perhaps the rich are rich because they are more deserving than the poor; maybe the losers are complicit in their misfortune after all.”

As Sandel notes, Trump was wired into these politics of humiliation and never invoked the word “opportunity,” which both Obama and Hillary Clinton made central, instead talking bluntly of “winners” and “losers.” (Interestingly, Bernie Sanders also stayed away from opportunity-talk, focusing on inequities of wealth). Trump understood that huge numbers of voters were tired of being told “You can make it if you try” by a generation of politicians that had not only “not governed well,” as Sandel puts it, but increasingly used public office as their own route to mega-wealth, via $400,000 speeches to banks, seats on corporate boards, or the hilariously auspicious, somehow not-illegal stock trading that launched more than one member of congress directly into the modern aristocracy.

The Tyranny of Meritocracy describes the clash of these two different visions of American society. One valorizes the concept of social mobility, congratulating the wealthy for having made it and doling out attaboys for their passion in wolfing down society’s rewards, while also claiming to make reversing gender and racial inequities a central priority. The other group sees class mobility as entirely or mostly a fiction, rages at being stuck sucking eggs in what they see as a rigged game, and has begun to disbelieve every message sent down at them from the credentialed experts above, even about things like vaccines.

The eternal squeamishness Americans feel about class will prevent this topic from getting the attention it deserves, but the insane witches’ brew of rage, mendacity, and mutual mistrust Sandel describes at the heart of American culture is no longer a back-burner problem. Tension over who deserves what part of society’s rewards, and whether higher education is a token of genuine accomplishment or an exclusive social rite, has become real hatred in short order. In the pandemic age, Americans on either side of the educational divide have moved past rooting for each other to fail. They’re all but rooting for each other to die now, and that isn’t a sentiment either side is likely to forget.

* * *

* * *

LET'S GO

I love 

descending 

each western slope into 

vine valleys,

. . .

From the ocean and mist

Like a terrible fog

Of praise and admiration

. . .

Into agriculteur territory

Where hard lives are

Imagined romantic and leisurely

. . .

And praise is not understood

As a complement easy

Whereby the city matters

. . .

I visited South to the city,

To lose my way back to this

way of the North Valley

These heathens, these people

. . .

All by themselves speaking

differently amongst themselves

In an uninterrupted but

Intelligent dialect.

. . .

What reminds me of people

Head West when it matters

And has to be from

Arkansas, Oklahoma;

Where promised destiny

didn’t become

. . .

Mexico in short

But America in long

Lines like everywhere

We can see the border

. . .

From here

— Quincy Steele

* * *

* * *

THIS MORNING on the way into work, they played a recording from the CEO of Exxon-Mobil taken under cover by a journalist posing as a business development professional. The CEO admits to a whole bunch of really ugly facts, that of course he and his competitors have been investing in public disinformation, pouring a simply mind numbing amount of money into gutting climate change legislation, and giving lip service to the environment as they push full steam ahead. He says he was protecting his profits and the investments of his shareholders as is his legal obligation (and those big fat bonuses go without saying.) He then mentions it's a fraction of a degree per year, who's going to notice that? That's the real bottom line. Multiple CEOs will be testifying before Congress on the role they've played in perpetuating and exacerbating climate change. It will be interesting to see who defends what's been happening and who holds these men and their businesses to account.

Perhaps the one bright spot not mentioned in the video was the part that can and almost certainly will be played by nanotechnology. Building an industrial plant to suck carbon out of the air, as mentioned in the video, is not likely to be a feasible solution any time in the foreseeable future. The cost and scale are simply too great. There's a thought experiment regarding the incredible power of self replicating nanotechnology... that is, a molecular machine that can make a copy of itself... Nature already provides us with examples, viruses and bacteria are precisely such machines. So a human engineered machine that does a job, say grab free floating carbon from the air, then binds it to a long carbon chain for eventual harvest, and also replicates itself every so often, can have an exponential impact with little or no additional cost.

That thought experiment discusses a theoretical machine that grabs two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom and makes a single water molecule every second. Now it would take most of the current age of the universe for a single one of these machines to fill a glass with water. But let's say this machine makes a copy of itself every 10 seconds while it's making single water molecules. Well now this new machine and its descendants can fill a glass in just 4 days, but here's the kicker... they can fill all the oceans on the planet in just 6 days... such is the power of exponential growth. So a self replicating machine that harvests and precipitates a usable form of solid carbon could easily solve this problem without serious environmental perturbation over a period of say 10 years. Moreover, we're perhaps 10 years from prototypes of self replicating machines made of... wait for it... Carbon. Because carbon is unique as a building material. We could solve this problem by the end of the century... but such technology poses its own existential concerns... The famous grey goo scenario comes to mind. Every new technological leap comes with new problems demanding an ever greater technological leap to resolve. Such is the conundrum of exponentially accelerating technology.

All that aside. As I've said a number of times... when discovering yourself at the bottom of a deep hole. Stop digging. Time to put the Fossil Fuel Industry to bed. Let's drop a ton of tax incentives to get out of that business and into safe/cheap nuclear, hydrogen fuel cells, and latest greatest renewables...

Oh, Mike, just saw a killer video on Perovskite Solar Cells and recent breakthroughs in that technology, then did a little more research... They promise to soon be producing power at between 5 and 10 cents a watt, cost a microscopic fraction to produce that current silicon solar cells cost, use environmentally safe and plentiful materials to build, and since they don't require the high temp needed to purify silicon, cut the energy required for production by nearly 2 orders of magnitude. From a purely economic point of view, they are 7 - 15 times more economic than fossil fuels, even at the limitation of a nominal 35% duty cycle given daylight, climate, and time of year. The show stopper to date has been short life expectancy, and quick loss of efficiency, but there have been some impressive recent breakthroughs and we should expect to see China and Europe dropping these new cells on the market by next year. Oh, and because they're thin film, they can be used as window tinting and heat reduction, tiles on roofs, surface covers on existing building and city infrastructure, effectively turn an entire city into a power source, and they can be stacked with each layer optimizes to a different wavelength from deep infrared, to hard Ultraviolet and everything in between, thus allowing these new cell to shoot far past the theoretical limit of ~30% for silicon. These new cells could be a total game changer.

The answers exist... the technology grows incredibly fast... the only question is, as it has always been, will we allow the will of a greedy, short-sighted few, call the future for all of us, and life on the planet as we know it. We must demonstrate the will, to make a better future, to live in that future." 

— Marie Tobias

* * *

JFK campaigning in West Virginia, 1960

* * *

NOTE TO AVA SUBSCRIBERS: The "remember me" function has inexplicably returned to our login process. Check the little box when you login, and you will be remembered next time you return (this lasts for awhile, before having to occasionally repeat the process).


THE TRAPEZE SWINGER

Please, remember me
Happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin
The time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill
And up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range,
A piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention
But

Please, remember me
Fondly
I heard from someone you’re still pretty
And then
They went on to say
That the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like ‘We’ll meet again’
And ‘Fuck the man’
And ‘Tell my mother not to worry’
And angels with their gray
Handshakes
Were always done in such a hurry
And

Please, remember me
At Halloween
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white
By midnight
We’d forgotten one another
And when the morning came
I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world
And then returned
And now you’re lit up by the city
So

Please, remember me
Mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower call
Then pass us by
But much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Leave and resonate
Just like the gates
Around the holy kingdom
With words like ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Don’t Look Down’
And ‘Someone Save Temptation’
And

Please, remember me
As in the dream
We had as rug-burned babies
Among the fallen trees
And fast asleep
Aside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like
And even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see
A trapeze
Swing as high as any savior
But

Please, remember me
My misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain
And chasing trains
The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well
And where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter’s
So bright with cinder gray
And spray paint
‘Who the hell can see forever?’
And

Please, remember me
Seldomly
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees
You turn from me
And said ‘The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last’
The clown that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs
The parking lot
Had an element of danger
So

Please, remember me
Finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear
But if I make
The pearly gates
Do my best to make a drawing
Of God and Lucifer
A boy and girl
An angel kissing on a sinner
A monkey and a man
A marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swingers

— Sam Beam

14 Comments

  1. Marmon September 18, 2021

    RE: BYE-BYE BIDEN.

    It’s clear that Biden does not like Haitians, but anyone else can cross the border unbothered.

    Report: Admin, Under Fire, Will Fly ‘Massive’ Number of Haitians to Haiti

    “The Biden administration plans on “massive movements” of Haitian migrants in a small Texas border city on flights to Haiti starting Sunday, an official said Friday, representing a swift and dramatic response to thousands who suddenly assembled under and around a bridge.”

    https://www.newsmax.com/politics/border-migrant-camp/2021/09/17/id/1036953/

    Marmon

    • Marmon September 18, 2021

      RE: BIDEN’S NEXT MESS.

      Something tells me this Haitian’s are not going to go easily. They have nothing to go back to. If nothing else, the will request asylum, something they haven’t done yet due to Biden returning to Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy.

      Marmon (aka the Prophet)

    • Harvey Reading September 18, 2021

      The US governing asses have hated Haiti and interfered negatively in its affairs ever since Haitians kicked out the French rulers. Our incompetent rulers also considered, and consider, themselves the real rulers of every country south of the US border and feel free to interfere in their affairs whenever they choose to do so. “Exceptional indispensables” are a vicious and arrogant bunch of dumb monkeys, who have their heads permanently stuck up their butts. The orange hog is just of many examples of their kind.

  2. Marco McClean September 18, 2021

    The Trapeze Swinger sung by Iron & Wine:

    My favorite song sung by Iron & Wine: Waiting For Superman.

    • k h September 18, 2021

      Love this band so much. The Trapeze Swinger reminds me of swimming in Blue Lakes, dripping wet on the slippery aluminum dock, driving out Scotts Valley Rd, the air full of that summer melancholy as the full moon rises.

  3. Marmon September 18, 2021

    The “Justice for J6” rally is about to begin in Washington DC with a small crowd in attendance. Former President Trump has called the rally a “setup.”

    Marmon

  4. Marshall Newman September 18, 2021

    Love the Yorkville Market and will be sad to see it close.

    • Rye N Flint September 20, 2021

      Yeah, I was pretty bummed when I first learned about this. Sign of the times I guess.

    • Marmon September 18, 2021

      Biden got ahead of his skies and bought up a whole bunch of vaccine doses that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do with now. The FDA voted down his 3rd. jab for everyone. Now he’a bought up the Monoclonal Infusion Supply and is withholding it from Red States. This is a problem when you have Government Medicine, they can control who gets treatment.

      Marmon

    • Harvey Reading September 18, 2021

      Hey, now, Ivermectin once a month protects my dog from heartworms, so it must be good for everything else. Why else would people be buying it here in the land of indispensable exceptionals?

      • Rye N Flint September 20, 2021

        I looked up the results of Ivermectin effectiveness trials for Covid-19, since none of the Joe Rogan cult followers actually look into their own beliefs, they leave the burden of proof on the non-believers.

        Bottom line, Ivermectin is statistically the same as a placebo. (Surprise surprise). Ivermectin did seem to help 2% more people than sugar pills, but that might be because they had parasites, and the ivermectin may have helped boost their immune system by getting rid of them.

        “According to the results presented, 86 patients in the ivermectin group required extended emergency room observation or hospitalization versus 95 in the placebo group. Both the differences in relative risk and mortality relative risk between the two groups were not statistically significant. These results have not been peer-reviewed yet. ”

        “Boulware, who provides advice for two large, ongoing clinical trials in the U.S., told us hearing these results changed his opinion on ivermectin.

        “Whereas before I was kind of very open-minded, now I’m sort of the proof is really, is starting to generate that there may not be much of an effect at all,” he said in a phone interview.”

        With multiple conflicting international studies, The Jury is Still out on this though. None of the studies have shown that it is more effective than the vaccines.

        https://www.factcheck.org/2021/09/scicheck-ongoing-clinical-trials-will-decide-whether-or-not-ivermectin-is-safe-effective-for-covid-19/

  5. Rye N Flint September 20, 2021

    RE: Last Tuesday, Supervisor Ted Williams asked about getting departmental revenue and expense reports in the monthly CEO report to the five supervisors because all the CEO report said about the budget was…”

    WTF? Isn’t there someone at the State Level that can help?

  6. Rye N Flint September 20, 2021

    RE: “Time to put the Fossil Fuel Industry to bed. Let’s drop a ton of tax incentives to get out of that business and into safe/cheap nuclear, hydrogen fuel cells, and latest greatest renewables…”

    Here here! Amen! Hallelujah!

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