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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022

Wind Rain | Trepidation | Rainfall Totals | Sanhedrin | New Year | Snow Road | Omicron Different | Equestrian | Millsite Cleanup | Ponds Map | Coast Hospital | Water Year | 150 Smiles | Resolution | Solar Reset | Noyo Boaters | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Solar Policy | Rockport Mill | Professional Wrestling | Hell Weather | Mediocrity | Big River | Geopolitics | Bodyguard | Unwanted Children | Foxfires | PUC+PGE | Barn | Congresswoman Greene | Dry Dock | Call Andy | Picnicking | Marco Radio | Happy Looting

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CLOUDS AND SOUTHERLY WINDS are on the increase ahead of a strong winter storm. Periods of strong southerly winds, locally heavy rainfall, and high elevation snow will persist this afternoon through Tuesday. (NWS)

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RAINFALL TOTALS
Monthly figures for the 2021-22 rain season (Oct-Oct) thus far:

Boonville (22.12" total)
2021
10.67" Oct
1.99" Nov
9.49" Dec

Yorkville (29.28" total)
2021
13.40" Oct
3.4" Nov
12.49" Dec

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Mount Sanhedrin

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BOONVILLE’S NEW YEAR was eerily unenthusiastic this new year, perhaps in the spirit of the ennui that has engulfed the Country along with rolling, accumulating bad news. Not only were the festivities minimal, but they were noticeably tardy. About ten minutes after midnight there were a few pop-gun gunshots spaced over about five minutes coming from the north end of Boonville; then about an hour later there was one good boom as though from a shotgun to the south. That was it. Not much to celebrate, so not much of a celebration.

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Road to Sanhedrin

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PEOPLE INFECTED WITH OMICRON were about half as likely to be hospitalized as those with the Delta variant, according to a report from British health officials, and they were only one-third as likely to need emergency care.

A laboratory study from South African scientists suggested that people who have recovered from an Omicron infection might be able to repel infections from the Delta variant.

Several studies have offered a possible explanation for Omicron’s milder effects: It often concentrates in the nose, throat and windpipe rather than damaging the lungs, as previous variants did.

(NYT)

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DID GEORGIA PACIFIC (KOCH) Manipulate Mendocino Railway And Its Overlords (Skunks) Into Filing An Unprecedented Eminent Domain Suit To Relieve Them Of The Persistent Toxic Liability At The Mill Site? Or Were The Skunks Complicit?

Whether you believe the Skunks will do great things in our town or you believe they are just con men feeding us their own brand of green-wash with promises of clean trash alchemy that converts the nations over abundance of un-recyclable waste into a better form of petro-chemical fuel, there is one thing in Robert Pinoli’s talking points that stands out and should make anyone with a modicum of common sense either giggle or cry, depending on ones perspective.

Mr. Pinoli states regularly that they, meaning the Skunks, are willing and able to take on the approximate $3.5 million in cleanup costs of the mill site. He speaks of it as if it is a large amount of money and they, as good stewards of the land are willing to take it on.

Just hearing that minuscule token number should cause anyone with a knowledge of what has transpired with regards to negotiation on the cleanup of the mill site over the last 18 years to cringe with disbelief at either the lack of knowledge of the situation by Mr. Pinoli or his seeming arrogant defiance of reality. Maybe it’s a combination of both. But either way, if there was a thoughtful process that brought them to that number, it wasn’t based on anything that actually occurred at the mill site for decades and decades.

Just the collapsing mill pond in the cover image is a multi million dollar dirty bomb that is slowly going off right now. That pond and the adjacent one in the upper left of the image were the “anything and everything” dump sites for longer than most people still living who worked there can remember. From used oil to old pesticides to leaky utility transformers to dead equipment. The list is endless and the pollution runs deep underground. We all know it, we’re just afraid to talk about it.

When I say that it is a dirty bomb that is going off right now, I mean that it can be seen in the lower right side of the image of the cloudy water caused by the runoff of rainwater from the streams that used to dump into the ponds but now just seep under the collapsing sea barrier. And by collapsing, I mean that the barrier wall at the beach that was a straight line on top in 2006. It is undercut more and more every year. And sadly, there has been no remediation whatsoever at this location. Only stalling tactics by GP and now probably the Skunks as 3.5 million wouldn’t even scratch the surface of this FUBAR let alone deal with the other portions of the site that remain untouched by any form of remediation.

Knowing that GP (Koch) offered less property to the City of Fort Bragg for $50,000,000.00, (it didn’t include the properties along Pudding Creek, a 70 acre bonus for the Skunks), because the City wanted GP to fulfill their responsibilities and finish cleaning up the mill site this puts a bit of ridiculousness and clarity on the Eminent Domain Judgment that the Skunks obtained over GP (Koch). Yes I know that Mr. Pinoli downplays the Eminent Domain process as one that GP acquiesced to, but the only way for GP to end its responsibility for cleanup at the site was for a government agency (railroad?) to claim the property under Eminent Domain. At that point the property is condemned in the process and the entity taking on the property takes on the responsibility of the cleanup. This makes one wonder if the Skunks were guided into this process by GP for GP’s own benefit with token objections along the way so as to not look too obvious. It certainly looks that way. And if the filer of the Eminent Domain suit possibly doesn’t look too deep into the actual cleanup that’s really needed, a sweetheart deal could be reached between the two. Must have been love at first sight that was worthy of Pepe Le Pew.

As for the Skunks being good stewards of the property they have/are acquiring, one only has to look at their current holdings to get a clear view of their vision of the future of Fort Bragg.

The second image shows a trash pile that has been a breeding ground for rodents (rats) and releasing them into our neighborhood for the last eight years.

The third image is of a rusting and leaky 5000 gallon diesel tank that stores fuel for the locomotive and hasn’t had any inspections done on it in recent history.

The fourth image is of the falling down dilapidated train house where employees are made to work year round, rain or shine to maintain rail equipment as well as build and repair the highly prized (patented?) rail bikes that take tourists on rides over Public Utility rails for $500.00 a pop.

Is this the future we want for Fort Bragg?

Is this the organization we want to influence our community?

Do you think they really care about us?

I think we can and do deserve better. Don’t you?

Happy New Year,

— Bruce Broderick

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IF YOU BUILD IT…

by Malcolm Macdonald

The Mendocino Coast is facing a crossroads decision about healthcare. That decision will be greatly impacted by fiscal realities and the input of people who read articles like this and let their opinions be known to those in positions to make the ultimate calls.

As of July 1, 2020, Adventist Health took over day to day operations of the hospital in Fort Bragg, calling it Adventist Health Mendocino Coast (AHMC). This was accomplished through a thirty year lease with the Mendocino Coast Health Care District (MCHCD). The MCHCD is comprised of the taxpayers and voters from Westport to the south coast of the county, approximately one-quarter of the county's population. We are represented by a five person board of directors (BOD) elected to four year terms of office. The BOD makes the important decisions such as the affiliation agreement with Adventist Health (AH).

That thirty year lease agreement with AH is a bit like a contract with a superstar in major league baseball. In such contracts, at the surface the deal may be for a decade or more in duration, but the player, being a superstar, often includes an opt-out clause. Adventist Health has an opt-out clause after the third year of its thirty year lease with we the citizens of the Mendocino Coast. If AH doesn't like how things are going they can say, “See ya,” on June 30, 2023. If AH likes what they see, presumably based on finances, they will re-up for the long term.

Thrown into the mix of how you as individuals or AH as a corporate supplier of healthcare see the impacts of Covid-19 on the economics of hospitals, there is another benchmark year hovering in the not too distant future. By 2030 all California hospitals are required to meet seismic retrofit standards or close their doors. The hospital facility in Fort Bragg is split into seven distinct buildings for seismic regulation purposes. Only one of those buildings meets the requirements needed to operate beyond January 1, 2030. The current seismic retrofit law would close the other six, including the main hospital building and all aspects of the emergency room (ER). To upgrade the coast hospital buildings to meet the legal standards set by the state of California could cost nearly $30 million. That amount would be borne by the taxpayers of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District (MCHCD). 

Another option is building an entirely new facility. If one visits the mchcdorg.com website used by the healthcare district board of directors, you can click on “Retrofit Current Hospital or Build a New One.” Therein, one finds a plan devised by the Devenney Group for a potential ten bed new hospital broken down into costs per square feet, arriving at an estimate of $32 million.

Whether or not those dollar figures hold up remains to be seen, but those are some of the basic questions confronting anyone who lives on the Mendocino Coast. How much can we put Adventist Health's feet to the fire to commit to staying beyond the three year opt out? $32 million for a new ten bed hospital vs. nearly that much to retrofit a fifty-year-old existing facility appears a much easier question. Yet, things are not so simple in healthcare.

A much more difficult and long ranging question amounts to, should we be going down the path to expending thirty million dollars toward a new hospital? Let's leave aside the problem of wringing $30 million or more from the taxpayers, though that is in a sense already underway through current taxation. To fully understand how we got to this momentous decision-making point, we have to employ some of our history skills. In 1946 Congress passed the Hill-Burton Act that provided federal funding to build relatively small hospitals in rural America. Think of it as the GI bill for healthcare to provide access for all to hospitals 

In 1997, the onset of the critical access hospital (CAH) program provided more favorable government payments to rural hospitals, again under the precept of greater access to hospitals. Critical Access Hospitals have twenty-five or fewer acute care inpatient beds, are thirty-five or more miles from another hospital, maintain an average length of stay for acute patients of ninety-six or less hours, and provide 24/7 ER service. The coast hospital is a CAH.

Reimbursement from Medicare was set at cost plus 1% for CAHs in the early 2000s. However, in 2011, along came the Budget Control Act. Through the process known as sequestration, Medicare reduced its payments to hospitals by 2% as part of a goal to achieve $1.2 trillion in savings over a ten year period. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (That is the title!) extended the sequestration beyond its original end date of 2021 through to 2023. Further legislation has pushed the effects of sequestration into fiscal year 2028. The total reduction/loss of Medicare payments to hospitals over this period is estimated at slightly more than $73 billion. So, paying for a new hospital and opening it in 2029 or 2030 is not going to be happening in the time of financial windfalls in healthcare.

We are now living in a healthcare system in which Amazon and CVS offer customers tele-medicine. In the Zoom and Facetime world we are getting accustomed to during the Covid pandemic seeing your medical provider through a computer screen isn't as bizarre as it might have seemed two years. With or without Covid, the tele-med world was already coming. The coast hospital no longer has an abundance of specialists as it did a generation ago. Coast residents who need a specialist most often go over the hill (AH hopes it is to their Ukiah facility) or just as often to the plethora of specialists in Santa Rosa. Some travel to UCSF or Stanford. The point being, for the most part a patient is not seeing a specialist at the coast hospital at present. 

I recently asked one of the people I rely on for outside objective views on the healthcare system in this county for an opinion on the current situation here on the coast. A key part of the response was, “the new paradigm is underway and I predict it will be very prevalent in 5 years or less. I call it 'The Healthcare Consolidation (THC).' [No, not cannabis] 

“By its very definition, this consolidation will make 'access to healthcare' stronger and more solid via the grouping of technology & the highly skilled human resource staffing into concentrated delivery sites. Because the technology needs (property, plant & equipment) and the highly skilled human resources are finite resources, they can be maximized and effectively provided by consolidation. Furthermore, another driving force underway is the aging population and the demand for healthcare is increasing. This consolidation is the best delivery model to balance the demand with the supply of available finite resource. 'Access to healthcare' can be maintained and actually improved during the next 5 years of this transformation. Probably the biggest challenge as usual is people do need to understand what is happening and why.”

What is happening? Finite resources, meaning money and people to staff medical provider positions, is already a strain on healthcare facilities. Find a link to almost any hospital's job openings and you will find a large number of positions available. This is painfully true at AHMC, but it is an across the board reality throughout the United States. There exists an acute need for skilled nurses. The other crucial words and phrases in the quote are “concentrated delivery” and “consolidation.” Essentially, they lead to the same thing. Hospitals will inevitably consolidate. The legislation that brought on the CAHs program came as a reaction to the closing of more than four hundred rural hospitals in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2005 almost two hundred more have closed their doors. The future is hospital centers in urban settings, not small hospitals in rural settings.

So the question may not be how to fund a $32 million new hospital, but why would we spend $30 million or more on a hospital that will not get that much use and thus not be financially sustainable. A further question arises considering the current shortage in medical providers. Before constructing a new hospital are we realistically prepared to staff it?

A short time before I most recently contacted the person who provided the quote about consolidation and concentrated delivery, I texted this to them, “When I really drill down to Mendocino coastal reality, I think folks here need to realize that in the near future healthcare is going to be much more of a tele-med proposition and what we think of as traditional hospitals will be urban-centric facilities like UCSF or UC Davis only. Coast residents can still have their particular service providers like dentists, optometrists, physical therapist, and others, but the days of going to a full fledged local hospital after you sprain a finger playing soccer are nearly over. It would be better for the coast public to spend some sort of healthcare tax money on a larger fleet of ambulances and vehicles to comfortably shuttle folks to appointments in Ukiah, Santa Rosa, or San Francisco. People here need to face up to the fact that we are living in a remote, tourism-centric place. A traditional hospital here in the future may be only slightly more unrealistic than finding one on the John Muir Trail or in the middle of Death Valley National Park.”

The person I quoted earlier responded to that with, “You are right on with the strategy...” 

It may feel a trifle more hopeful to recall the tone of that earlier quote about healthcare consolidation. The speaker/writer said, “By its very definition, this consolidation will make 'access to healthcare' stronger...” Also, “This consolidation is the best delivery model to balance the demand with the supply of available finite resources.”

In short, many people hereabouts are already practicing this consolidation with trips to Santa Rosa or San Francisco for medical care. Your dentist, your physical therapist, your massage therapist are not likely to go away. The two big decisions are: How much of something resembling a hospital are you willing to pay to build? How much are you willing to pay each year to subsidize any potential financial losses from operations of that investment?

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TABLE FOR 150 PLEASE

by Bob Dempel

Yes, I asked for a table for 150, actually for lunch. I was part of a group doing the serving. Let me explain. I belong to the Boosters group for the Elsie Allen High School that annually serves lunch to all of the students who are enrolled in the agriculture classes at the school. The booster group have been doing this for some 25 years. The Booster group gets together a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving week and divides up which food each of us should bring to the lunch. The items are ham, turkey, pumpkin pie, bottled water, rolls, potato salad, green beans, and some scalloped potatoes. Each person donates the food they bring. Shirley and I donate the potato salad. We bring some serving bowls and serving spoons from home. It is asked to be at the school by 11:30. The lunch period is promptly at noon and the students only get 35 minutes to eat. Now you can see why we need to be set up and ready to feed 150 students a holiday meal in such a short time. 

The lunch is served in the shop area, kind of outside. Picnic tables are lined up and covered with white paper. At the specific time a bell rings and 150 students pour in for lunch. We set up two serving lines. As the students get their food every one of them says “Thank You.” And in just a few minutes it is over. Then the group members can serve themselves and sit down. I have never belonged to a more dedicated group of adults. 

Next, it is time to clean up. But with 10 or so people the area soon is cleaned up. The group all thanks each other and looks forward to next year. The Ag teachers thank us. We all know that this may be the only holiday meal that some of the students will get. I look forward to doing this every year. My holiday season starts with 150 smiles. Shirley had to help me this year. A sign of old age.

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SOLAR ROBS THE POOR 

by KC Meadows

Rooftop solar has a role to play in fighting climate change. But placing solar panels on every rooftop is an inefficient way to meet the state’s clean energy goals and reduce our astronomical electricity rates. The California Public Utilities Commission made a compelling case last week when it said the costs of the state’s rooftop solar incentive program — known as Net Energy Metering — substantially exceed its benefits. The program is also inequitable. California’s rooftop solar program is a classic case of Robin Hood in reverse — it primarily benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. The PUC on Jan. 27 should approve its proposal that would revise the rooftop solar incentive program and better balance the needs of the electric grid, the environment and consumers. In 2006, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Million Solar Roofs Initiative into law, setting a goal of building 1 million solar energy systems throughout the state. California achieved that goal in 2019. Solar now provides more than 20% of the state’s electrical supply, reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. But the current sweetheart deal benefits wealthy homeowners at the expense of low-income neighborhoods. California won’t serve as a model to the world on how to best reduce emissions if it does so in a costly, unfair manner. Solar rooftop homeowners benefit from selling any excess power generated by their systems. Currently, the state pays solar homeowners an average of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour when it can buy power from solar farms for only 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. Owners of rooftop solar also don’t pay the fixed costs to utilities for maintaining the state’s electrical grid, distributing power, mitigating wildfires’ impact and investing in new technologies. That burden falls to the rest of the electricity consumers. Renters and people of color living in poorer areas pay an estimated $200 a year more per household in their electrical bills to cover the cost of the benefits enjoyed by rooftop solar homeowners. The PUC proposal would dial back the incentive program, creating a more equitable law. It would: 

• Require new solar customers to participate in helping cover the costs of maintaining the grid. 

• Lower the rate paid to solar rooftop owners for the excess power generated by their systems from roughly 25 cents to about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. 

• Establish a $600 million equity fund to help low-income neighborhoods gain greater access to green energy. 

• Extend the break-even point — commonly called the “the payback period” — to offset the costs of new customers installing rooftop solar from the current five years to about 10 years. The rooftop solar industry is lobbying the CPUC, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to retain the current system. But if we’re going to subsidize solar to meet our climate goals, we should be doing it in a cost-efficient and equitable way. The current system fails that test.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Boaters, Noyo, 1890

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ED NOTES

THESE DAYS everyone's a police tactics expert, but if the cops didn't do dumb stuff on camera this particular “expert” wouldn't have the pretext to comment on the Ukiah PD's fumbling restraint of the nude tweaker, Mr. Gerardo Magdaleno. I was surprised that the Ukiah cops aren't more adept at dealing with aberrant behavior, especially if they know they're going to be critiqued on video. The guy is large, meth-maxed, nude, and totally nutted up, perhaps combative. Why repeatedly yell at him so many times to get on the ground that we now have two nuts on-scene, and thus torquing upward the true nut's anxiety? Why not “engage” him as, I believe, most cops are trained to do. “Hello, Mr. Magdaleno. Good to see you again. Bit nippy out for no clothes, wouldn't you say? Let me get you a blanket and we can sit down and talk for a while.” Instead, in this case, the cops get all excited, taze the guy several times and finally bull rush him into subjection, getting in a few ineffective “compliance” punches as they go.

AND HERE COME the lawyers. Gerardo Magdaleno's family claims their scion was brutalized. The City of Ukiah, taking an expensive page from the County of Mendocino, has hired outside lawyers to defend its police. Seldom Seen San, city manager Sage Sangiacomo, sends his assistant out to announce legal developments and, as always, all of it is paid for by the taxpayers, not the people involved, which is why heavily indemnified public entities are always getting sued. If Seldom Seen San and the Ukiah cops involved had to sacrifice their pay unto injured party satisfaction maybe dumb stuff wouldn't happen so often.

A WORRISOME local trend, apart from irresponsible public officials like we suffer here in Mendo in Ukiah and at the Board of Supervisors, is the phenomena of the homeless setting retaliatory fires when they are rousted. Ukiah and Fort Bragg have large populations of people beyond, wayyyyy beyond, the capacities of our helping professionals. This many non-reimbursables, as the helping pros call them when the compassion cameras are off, are gnawing away at what's left of democratic practices. Fires are only one civic prob presented by the floating population of tweakers, drunks and free range psychos, the overall negative effect is on civic morale, the feeling of most people that things are out of control (which they are) but which is leading fast to Trumpian fascism. 

MIGHT as well post a few more end-of-the-year awards honoring the most egregious offenders like state senator McGuire's never-will-be Great Redwood Trail which, and you read it here first, is a Northcoast Democratic Party scam to cash out former congressman Bosco for the rail right of way which, thanks to the Northcoast Democrats, Bosco somehow owns.

BIGGEST SAPS OF THE YEAR: Anybody who thought a Coal Train running from Santa Rosa to Eureka through the impassable Eel River Canyon was at all likely. Friends of the Eel and most Northcoast media bought it whole.

MOST OBVIOUS beneficiary of public funds for no work has got to be Dr. Noemi Doohan who got $100k in February to do nothing for Mendo for the rest of the year. Apparently her contract ended in December of 2021 and there’s no indication that CEO Angelo wants to renew it, but if Angelo wanted to toss Doohan another hundred thou for no work what's to stop her? The Supervisors?

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR. Mark Scaramella for singlehandedly preventing (or at least postponing) the totally unwarranted $79k (including benefits) pay raise for County Counsel Christian Curtis.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 1, 2022

Britton, Cates, Contreras

CHRISTINA BRITTON, Stolen vehicle, stolen property.

TARA CATES, Fort Bragg. DUI.

ARTURO CONTRERAS, Ukiah. DUI.

Daniels, Frease, Gonzalez, Gravier

COLLEEN DANIELS, Willits. DUI.

LAWRENCE FREASE, Covelo. Stolen vehicle, stolen property.

SANTOS GONZALEZ, Boonville. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

KEVIN GRAVIER, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Hoaglen, Martinez, Quilter

MERCEDEZ HOAGLEN-LOCKHART, Covelo. Domestic battery.

FERNANDO MARTINEZ-ORTIZ, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JAMES QUILTER, Willits. DUI.

Romero, Sawdey, Velarde

DANIELLE ROMERO, Willits. DUI. 

ALYSSA SAWDEY, Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy. 

FEDERICO VELARDE-OSUNA, Gualala. Domestic battery.

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DON’T DISCOURAGE SOLAR

Editor: 

With climate change on the forefront, we need to take a stand against PG&E’s campaign to make it harder and more expensive for people to put solar panels on their roofs. PG&E and its allies are proposing to charge people who install solar panels new monthly fees. That makes no sense. We should be helping middle- and working-class people put solar panels on their roofs and batteries in their garages and basements. This is one of the best ways to control energy bills, avoid blackouts and help the environment.

PG&E has a track record of putting profits over people. Now it is putting profits over clean energy and fighting climate change.

Now is the time to encourage renewable energies, and not discourage solar. Say no to PG&E. Hasn’t PG&E done enough damage?

Lynne Morin

Santa Rosa

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Rockport Mill

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PRO WRESTLING

What distinguishes wrestling is its commitment to spectacle, in the fullest sense of that word, and ultimately, to the spectacle of violence. Part of this is simply its approximation of reality: these bodies are genuinely being picked up and thrown around, after all, and a kick in the chin looks and sounds awfully like a kick in the chin. But it can be more dramatic. Someone being hit over the head with a folding chair, for example, or, less commonly, dropped onto a mass of shiny thumbtacks, fifty of them sticking in the skin. If you were a wrestling fan in 1998 you knew about the moment, even if you hadn’t seen it, when The Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of a sixteen-foot cage, sending him smashing through a plywood table below. I’ve just watched it again on YouTube, and it’s still frightening. (‘They’ve killed him!’ shouts the commentator, Jim Ross, who hadn’t been given advance notice. He means the management.) What always thrilled me most, though, was the blood. Wrestlers are fantastic bleeders. A match attained an immediate grandeur if one of the combatants was pouring with blood, his face covered with it, thick, dripping, coming off on the body of his opponent, smearing the ring. It was hideous. It was Homeric.

You could usually tell when a wrestler was about to start bleeding. The trick was to roll away from your opponent, your hands under your head – the camera would helpfully pan away at this point – and then slip out the razor you had concealed in the tape on your wrists, and slice into your forehead. The blood was real. Often there seemed to be alarming amounts of it; stitches might be needed afterwards. Knowing how it was done was a big part of the appeal, and not only in this respect. I was interested in why certain wrestlers were picked by “backstage” for what was called a “push” (and conversely, why others were never given the opportunity) and in the way they were packaged; in who was a face and who was a heel, and the moments when someone was switched from one identity to the other; in the development of new feuds or “storylines,” and the way they were carefully developed in advance of a showdown, or through a succession of matches over many months; in the way the matches themselves worked to embody the emotions they had been invested with. My commitment to watching wrestling of the past was an extension of this, like X-raying a painting to see how they made them back in the day.

— Tom Crewe (London Review of Books)

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THE MEDIOCRE ALONE have the prospect of continuing on and propagating themselves — they are the men of the future, the sole survivors; “be like them! be mediocre!” is henceforth the only morality that has any meaning left, that still finds ears to hear it. But it is difficult to preach, this morality of mediocrity! — for it can never admit what it is and what it wants! It has to speak of moderation and dignity and duty and love of one’s neighbor. It will scarcely be able to conceal its irony!

— Nietzsche, ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ (1886)

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Big River, 1900

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GEOPOLITICS

Gawd, who knows…? The Russians are sorely pissed because thirty years ago after the Soviet system clocked out, and eventually Vlad Putin tried to paste some kind of functioning nation back together out of the debris, we promised them in plain talk to not expand NATO, and then, year after year, we proceeded to add more countries to NATO including former Soviet Republics hedging right up to Russia’s border. Then, the US under Mr. Obama ran the “color revolution” in Ukraine, attempting to strong-arm that pathetic punching bag of a state to come over to our side… and having done that, we’re now threatening to bring them into NATO, meaning we would like to station rockets and perhaps troops and all kinds of other military stuff on what has been the doormat for every attempted invasion of Russia in modern history. Are you surprised that Russia has drawn a line in the sand there?

One can’t have a whole lot of confidence in Anthony Blinken’s State Department or in General Milley’s Woked-up, transsexual army that calling Russia’s bluff on this might work out well for the USA. Considering how economically weak we are now, how tragically disunited we are, how pussified and squishy we’ve become, maybe starting a war over Ukraine isn’t such a hot idea. One can only hope.

On the other side is China, Uncle Xi’s re-born Middle Kingdom, with gleaming skyscrapers, dazzling new airports and highways, the fabulous social credit system for controlling her huge population Orwell-style. China has a lot going for her, but what’s going against her isn’t so obvious, starting with the fact that she’s hurting for long-term fossil fuel supplies. China just doesn’t have that much oil or natgas, and she’s using ever-lower quality coal to drive her industry. Her oil imports have to travel through two global choke-points, the Straits of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca. In short, despite China’s great strides moving from the twelfth century into dazzling modernity, she might stumble on the energy quandary — like all the other “advanced” nations.

It’s no secret that under the ambitious Marxist emperor Xi Jinping, China wants to occupy the World Hegemon role that America is struggling not to abandon. Hegemon-ship usually requires geographical expansion. We’re certainly concerned about a takeover of Taiwan, which is, effectively, America’s offshore microchip facility. China could conceivably gain control over Taiwan by a thousand tiny steps without firing a shot — as the CCP has infiltrated US politics, media, and education — or by force, if only to make a theatrical point, but why invite the possibility of a nuclear exchange?

China has been adventuring in many remote parts of the world for years without drawing much international attention, buying farmland and mining sites throughout East Africa, and now she is eyeing openings in several resource-rich South American nations that recently elected friendly socialist presidents. China was awarded contracts to operate ports at both ends of the strategically important Panama Canal over twenty years ago, and Panama signed a memorandum of agreement to join China’s Belt-and-Road initiative in 2017. That got the attention of the Trump administration, which was meeting China’s expansionism with tariffs and sanctions. Mr. Trump caused several Chinese infrastructure projects for bridges, high-speed rail, and port improvements in the Canal Zone to be suspended. “Joe Biden,” a major Chinese client, is now looking the other way.

Can China actually control the unruly lands of Central Asia vital to her Belt-and-Road ambitions. For instance, Afghanistan, where China looks to establish giant mining operations, but has yet to tangle with the feisty Taliban. Let’s predict that China in 2022 is stymied in expansion and hamstrung by her energy problems. And add to that trouble in her export markets of the USA and Europe, as they begin to implode financially and the demand for Chinese manufactured goods declines.

Then there is China’s banking morass, bazillions of loans gone bad, giant businesses wobbling, and collateral in the form of a thousand skyscrapers built out of cement so inferior that it’s a miracle the buildings still stand up. How will China’s fragile banking system contend with contagion from the financial problems of the US and Europe? Let’s predict that China finds herself in enough economic difficulty that domestic disorder breaks out, the government over-reacts to it, and she becomes too paralyzed with internal political problems to make any mischief beyond her border for now.

Finally, Europe. Oh, lovely Europe, the tourist theme-park of my lifetime with its beautiful cities, tidy landscapes, its cafes, cathedrals, girls on motorbikes, its fabulous deep culture. Looks like the whole shebang is going down the chute now, with intimations of a return to 20th century political upheaval. Somehow, Covid-19 has provoked Austria and Germany to return to behavior that smells a little bit like what went on in the Hitler years. Hard to believe, I know, but look at them! Police state tactics! Forced vaccinations! Lockdowns! Harsh punishments for those who resist. It’s sickening, and looks like it’s getting entrenched.

Euroland’s economy is a mess. Its energy problems are worse than China’s. Except for Norway, with its dwindling North Sea oil fields, and some played-out coal mines, Europe has next to nothing for fossil fuels. Germany’s feckless “green” wind-and-solar project hasn’t worked out. She is more and more dependent on Russian oil and gas, and Germany’s position in NATO subjects her to the machinations of the USA against Russia, which has stymied the opening of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea. They may end up freezing this winter, and starving the following winter. The European banking system is a laughable fraud, since the EU has no control of the fiscal decisions made by member governments that issue increasingly worthless bonds. It’s going to be a rough year there with governments coming and going — stumbling as they go. Perhaps France gets a little lucky. The maverick journalist Éric Zemmour wins the election as president and spurs a revival of French national spirit. He’s still stuck with the rot in financials, but at least he bolsters the country’s morale. And unlike the Germans, France did not choose to close down its nuclear power industry, so the lights stay on there.

There you have it, ye denizens of Clusterfuck Nation. I can do no more with this. I wish you all fortitude in the twelve months ahead, and courage, and kindness, and all the good things that we are capable of. We’ll need that. There is still a lot to cherish about this country of ours, the good old USA, and I believe we’ll rediscover that in Double-deuce, along with some ability to tell ourselves the truth about things that matter and act consistently with it! Excelsior, brave hearts!

— James Kunstler

* * *

* * *

THE RIGHT-TO-LIFE PEOPLE talk about bringing all the unwanted babies into the world. Then they go home after their protests, scheduled for their convenience. Police officers are left to deal with the aftermath of their righteous cause. I’d like to see all the unwanted babies brought to the homes of the right-to-life people. We’ll bring you 1200 babies on Monday. You can feed and nourish them and send them to college. The next week we will bring you 1200 more. That is the reality of the right-to-life equation. Nobody wants to think about it, but it is the way things are in this world. Unwanted children suffer. 

— Detective-lieutenant Joe Kenda

* * *

"New Year's Eve Foxfires at the Nettle Tree in Oji" by Utagawa Hiroshige

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SUBSIDY?

Editor,

Dan Walters pointed out that the California Public Utilities Commission wants to impose a monthly fee on owners of rooftop solar systems that feed back into the grid. Did I miss something?

For the past few decades, the state, the feds, environmental groups and power companies have been saying “go solar.” So a lot of us have. Now they want us to pay a monthly fee.

Let me quote part of Walters’ column: “They argue that since rooftop solar arrays are mostly owned by upper-income Californians, the current policy, in effect, gives them a subsidy, of as much as $3.4 billion a year, from the pockets of less affluent rate payers.” What a crock. I had to refinance to be able to get solar.

The CPUC seems to always side with big corporations, and in California one of the biggest is PG&E. Case in point: PG&E failed to maintain its equipment, burned a lot of land, pleaded guilty in court, got fined, and what does the CPUC do? Grant them a rate increase.

Is it only me, or does this look a little one-sided?

Don Henderson

Healdsburg

* * *

Mendocino Barn

* * *

‘MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE IS GROSS’

Editor,

“Yes our foundation is infested with freedom killing termites, our agencies are running a regime change on their own soil like they’ve done in foreign countries for decades, and the all powerful propaganda machine is serving the regime…but their lies and tyranny are failing them.” — Republican Congresscritter from the North Georgia backwoods Marjorie Taylor Greene (December 29, 2021)

Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene Whose marital infidelities are legendary, Now says she wants to break up America! Greene says she wants “a national divorce”. This advice comes from a whore, of course. Instead of trying to lose a Second Civil War, How about you tell YOUR husband it’s over? She cheats on him like you’ve never seen, And it’s all been documented thoroughly! If a Democrat fools around, it’s top news. Republicans will blame “Space Laser Jews” Or anyone else at all when they’re caught. And GOP corporate media being bought Means her voters are ignorant of her life, Like the fact that Marjorie just ain’t right! Crazy as can be with non-stop infidelities, A marriage counselor she definitely isn’t. So shut up already about America, tramp. It’s you, Marjorie, your husband can’t stand. Give that poor man “a national divorce” vow. He’ll be the happiest man in the world now. Would you want to be married to a lunatic? Mrs. Marjorie Traitor Greene makes me sick! Keep sleeping with your CrossFit customers You skanky ho. Because Russia fails and America always prevails, don’t you know? The evil Republican Party betrayed America, Just like Greene betrays her husband daily. Marjorie, you are an idiot! Time to go away. You’ll open a CrossFit in Moscow someday. And bang away with Russians all night & day.

Sincerely,

Jake Pickering

Arcata

* * *

Fort Bragg Wharf, 1900

* * *

SUGGESTIONS ANYONE?

Call Us, Team Up with Me, Happy New Year

Warmest spiritual greetings, You are invited to call Andy Caffrey at The Earth First! Media Center at (213) 842-3082 for an update on the Earth First! historical video archive digitization, which is now stored in the cloud. 

Secondly, I'd like to move on from Garberville, CA, having been fully supportive of Andy's efforts here. I've got $2,000 in the bank, health is excellent, am wiser. What would you like to do?? I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. 

Craig Louis Stehr, craiglouisstehr@gmail.com

* * *

Picnic, Albion River, 1889

* * *

A VERY SWEARY NEW YEAR. FRESH HELL DAILY. SEE FLYER FOR SPECIALS.

"There are scents that dogs can smell and we cannot. There are wavelengths of light we cannot see. Why should the remark, 'Perhaps there are thoughts we cannot think,' surprise you?" -Richard Hamming

Here's the recording of last night's (new year's eve, 2021) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0469

Thanks heaps to Hank Sims of Lost Coast Outpost. And thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided almost an hour of the above eight-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return, and to Kevin MacLeod, who composed and provided Sleazy Weasel, MOTA's official intro and outro theme; they've made a documentary about his life and work, and it's finally out. It's called /Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod/.

Email me your writing on any subject and I'll read it on the radio this coming Friday night on the very next MOTA show. If it's more than plain text, please provide a link to the media you want me to see or hear, rather than attach it.

FURTHERMORE, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering that show together. Such as:

Betty White was going to be a hundred years old soon, but she died a couple of days ago, after eight decades of radio and teevee and show biz in general. She had a smart mouth; she swore like a sailor, and everyone loved her.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jadecardichon/betty-white-photos

Betty White, high-rez, 1954, sparkling in thought, word, deed and eyes.

https://www.shorpy.com/node/26415?size=_original#caption

Speaking of sparkling, /this/ page shows the progress, in real time, of the James Webb telescope on its way to the L2 point. Congratulations! Your item [fabulous infrared space telescope] has been shipped. Estimated arrival date, January 23. Please contact our customer service representatives if you have any questions. (From the FAQ: Yes, James Webb was a racist. Also that was a long time ago when everyone was racist, and he truly never had sex with that woman, who was in her thirties not her teens and fully consented to all contact, plus he's dead.) (It's too late to cancel your order.)

https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/whereIsWebb.html

And here's a compelling case for self-driving cars. Give this a minute and you'll give it another four, then you'll watch the whole rest of it. Once upon a time every elevator employed a driver. There was a point where people stopped feeling weird about an elevator driving itself. The robot car driver can see in all directions all the time, even in the dark; it has 29 cameras and LIDAR; it knows to the inch where objects and pets and people and other vehicles are, and what direction they're all going, and how fast. Whenever one robot driver learns a new danger or trick or technique, and they're all learning all the time, soon all robot drivers know that too. Most of the huge amount of death and damage and tragedy on the roads up to now comes from a very short list of common human driver errors that robot drivers already can never make.

https://nagonthelake.blogspot.com/2021/12/self-driving-cars-yay-or-nay.html

— Marco McClean, memo@mcn.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com

* * *

25 Comments

  1. Stephen Dunlap January 2, 2022

    Jake Pickering, & I thought Mrs. Greene was merely a nut ? I had not heard of that before ?

  2. Marmon January 2, 2022

    Communist America should be happy this morning. Today, Twitter anounched that they have permanently suspended the personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over the social media platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy. Twitter is almost getting almost as bad as the AVA when it comes to anything Covid, Covid, Covid related. Don’t anyone think outside the box, the Fauci box that is.

    Marmon

    • Kirk Vodopals January 2, 2022

      Here’s some “outside the box” thinking for you Mr. Marmon: getting banned from left-wing social media outlets is now a merit badge of the wanna-be libertarian right wing ding dongs. I personally think that the silicon valley woke police should rethink their policies, but, in the meantime, Greene is just another hack in the long line of first world victimhood

    • George Hollister January 2, 2022

      James, did you read Matt Taibbi’s piece yesterday? If you haven’t, you should.

    • Bruce Anderson January 2, 2022

      ‘Communist’ America? There’s barely a liberal America.

      Viva, Fauci!

      • Harvey Reading January 2, 2022

        There never has been a liberal “America”. Closest we came was the Depression, but even then Roosevelt sold us out by trying to save kaputalism, and then doing just that by joining a war that made the wealthy even wealthier. Afterwards, we were treated to HUAC/McCarthy fascism and everlasting wars, all based on lies. Now, we get republo-fascism, under lyin’ Biden, following the orange hog’s lead. Aint we effen grand!

        Meantime, we keep on plundering as if there is no tomorrow…which pretty damned quick will be exactly the case. Electromobiles? Solar power? LOL! Whadda gullible bunch of ignorant fools.

    • chuck dunbar January 2, 2022

      Don’t know about “Communist America,” but for the ordinary, sensible and patriotic American–me for example–it’s great to see Marjorie’s platform taken away permanently. She still has freedom of speech–she can email folks, give interviews, use the phone to call others, write letters–but she loses her larger audience on that site. Why? Because she’s a damn idiot, of poor intelligence and not much sense, and she lies about factual matters, just like others in her league.

      • Marmon January 2, 2022

        Twitter has become the public square. Lawsuits are coming. A former president and current congresswoman are denied access. The First Amendment will prevail.

        Marmon

        • chuck dunbar January 2, 2022

          The First Amendment is patently about the U.S. government–Congress– making laws that inhibit speech, not organizations like Twitter, even if they are wide-ranging. The former president and the current congresswoman may still speak up in and on numerous forums, ridiculous and untruthful as their speech may be.

          • chuck dunbar January 2, 2022

            Make that Twitter and Facebook.

        • Debra Dale January 2, 2022

          You are gross Marmon.

  3. Kirk Vodopals January 2, 2022

    Ah Kunstler, build your bunker. The world has to come to a flaming end when the likes of Kunstler leave this mortal coil. We’ll never survive without them. I might have to switch back to a paper subscription to the AVA. God forbid

  4. benjamin graham January 2, 2022

    Thanks, Malcolm for your excellent article on the future of healthcare here on the Coast. While it is unclear how many–if any–acute care hospital beds we need, everyone agrees we have to have an Emergency Room. What about a freestanding ER- not connected to an acute care hospital? Allowed in some states, but not California. So in order to have an ER, we need a hospital. What does that entail?
    According to Title 22:”General acute care hospital means a hospital, licensed by the Department, having a duly constituted governing body with overall administrative and professional responsibility and an organized medical staff which provides 24-hour inpatient care, including the following basic services: medical, nursing, surgical, anesthesia, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy, and dietary services.”
    Buz Graham, MD

  5. Rye N Flint January 2, 2022

    RE: Sold out to PG$E

    Wow, my heart is broken today. KC Meadows has sold out to PG&E…

    “The PUC proposal would dial back the incentive program, creating a more equitable law”

    So… Incentivizing solar power is bad? We should make customers pay for line maintenance, when PG&E can’t bury their lines underground? Let solar producers pay for energy companies old technologies? No mention of battery backups for fire survivors? Why hasn’t PG&E changed out our tree hanger connection to the tranformer? seriously, Our main power line is tied directly to an old oak tree. Thank KC, for making my new solar array completely worthless. I’m sure PG&E needs the money more than I do.

    Shame shame, I know your name.

  6. Marmon January 2, 2022

    People who think the Jan. 6 protests were mostly violent are the same people who think the BLM/ANTIFA riots were mostly peaceful. Go figure?

    Marmon

    • Harvey Reading January 2, 2022

      Wow, I wish I had such an imagination as yours…you worship a lying SOS who hasn’t made a substantiated claim in his life, and you blame others for your career problems. Enjoy your dream world…while it lasts.

  7. Stephen Rosenthal January 2, 2022

    Okay AVA Poobahs, I see what you’ve been doing, putting Kunstler’s byline at the end of his article instead of the normal age-old practice at the top. Well, you can’t trick an old coot into reading his drivel. I recognize a Kunstlerian idiocy after reading the first sentence. And after reading that first sentence I immediately scroll to the end, et voila!, James Kunstler. I stopped reading him when he went all gaga over Trump about three or so years ago and no amount of subterfuge will get me to read more than one sentence of his ever again. You can fool most of the people most of the time, but you can’t fool me.

    Wishing the ever-dwindling number of creatures – human, animal and plant – I care about a healthy MMXXII.

  8. chuck dunbar January 2, 2022

    EDITORIAL TRICKERY

    “Well, you can’t trick an old coot into reading his drivel.”
    That’s it, fits for me, probably many others also. Thank for this post, Stephen.

  9. Marmon January 2, 2022

    RE: PSYCHO LIVES MATTER AND DEFUND THE POLICE MOVEMENT.

    I totally expect to see Lauren Sinnott paint a mural of Magdaleno on some city wall resemblant of the George Floyd mural in Minnesota. That is if she can find a blank wall that hasn’t already been covered up with some of her other Hippie Graffiti.

    Marmon

    • Bruce Anderson January 2, 2022

      I think Ms. Sinnott’s mural is very nicely done and a true representation of this place at this time. If ever a place needed some public art, Jimbo, it’s your Clearlake.

    • Professor Cosmos January 2, 2022

      Anytime you trash something it becomes in the eyes of the majority locally a something that is beautiful, to be acclaimed.

  10. Marmon January 2, 2022

    Bruce Broderick is going to screw around and tie up any movement on the mill site for another 20 years. I’m sure that there are developers and investors that will be more than happy to clean up that millsite and build. Broderick is representative of most coastal stupidity that tends to never give an inch, even if they can gain a mile.

    Marmon

    • Rye N Flint January 3, 2022

      At least someone cares about the environment and other people. Who are you supporting Marmon? Business as usual? Old school “Create jobs” B.S.? More environmental destruction and coverup so the rich a$$holes can get richer?

      So lame

  11. Eli Maddock January 2, 2022

    Surely these so called “investors” will clean up the mill site and it would become as beautiful as the Clear Lake Keys are today.
    Don’t get me wrong, but “investors” generally have only their own best interest in mind. ie: get $$ & asap!! Then moon walk away as the public is left scratching their heads.
    Kinda like bureaucrats… and… well we’ve come full circle

    • Marmon January 3, 2022

      Look, that mill site is going to have to be cleaned up at a small piece at a time over a long period of time. The City’s “all or nothing” mentality is what got in the way with dealing with GP. I don’t blame GP for telling the City to go to hell. That mill made that City in the first place. Generations of Fort Bragg folks made a good living because of that mill. Furthermore, GP wasn’t the only owner of that mill, so why should they have got stuck with all the clean-up ?

      Marmon

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