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Off the Record (April 20, 2022)

ACCORDING to the Curry Coastal Pilot out of Brookings, Oregon, Gary Milliman has been elected vice president of the Oregon Municipal Judges Association.

THE POINT of this soporific info of no conceivable interest to anyone except Milliman and whatever loved ones he may have? None, really, except that Milliman, as Fort Bragg City Manager during that victimized town's criminal interlude in the late 80s and early 90s when several city councilmen were on the take and the crooks doing the taking burned the town's heart out in one night of flagrant arson they were never prosecuted for. Milliman saw nothing, heard nothing but got the hell out when it all became a little too flagrant.

THE MILLIMANS of the world always seem to land on their feet, like Milliman did when he turned up just over the California-Oregon border at the unsuspecting little seaside town of Brookings as city manager, from which perch, as sightless Lady Justice double blindfolded herself against the horror she could see without seeing, Milliman went on to become a municipal judge, presiding over muni courts along the southern Oregon coast. 

SPEAKING of the oblivious, we get this from 3rd District supervisor, John Haschak: “The board of supervisors will again be open to the public starting on April 15th. I am very happy that we can get back to in-person democracy and that the pandemic is under control. When we re-open, the meetings will be hybrid [Haschak's emphasis], meaning the chambers will be open in person and accessible by zoom. Since our county is so big, it is a real advantage to offer people the choice of attending in person or zoom in to the meeting and make public comments from the comfort of their homes.”

IN FACT, in-person attendees will be shunted into a side room where they will watch the zoomed proceedings until they're called to appear, live, before their majesties. 

ZOOMING in from “the comfort” of our homes is convenient for some, but both these innovations work against democratic procedures and have cost taxpayers many thousands of dollars in a pointless re-model commissioned by former, thank the goddess, CEO Carmel Angelo.

Welcome, Citizens!

We’ll just stick you in

The fine Marmon Room.

Please be comfy and quiet—

Watch our meeting by Zoom.

Don’t break-out in hives,

Pray, don’t worry or fret.

Sit patiently on your rears,

Then 3 minutes live you’ll get!

We want very badly

To hear your valued views.

We know you’ve got

Vital, important news.

And now we must move on

To the really critical stuff.

But—bless you, citizen—

Thanks a bunch for your guff!

— old codger citizen

INFLATION is inherent in monopoly capitalism and, like every other economic thing, works to the advantage of the wealthy. It's not primarily Biden's fault, but he, as a Democrat captive of the wealthy, wouldn’t dare enact, say, price controls or, more effectively, nationalize America's gasoline system. So, millions of Americans will struggle and suffer while the limo libs remain unaffected.

BIDEN'S FIGUREHEAD administration tried to get ahead of the dire inflation news by blaming Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which is partly true, but what is wholly true is that the invasion of Ukraine, one of the primary world bread baskets, has disrupted global food and energy markets. The escalation of energy prices has led to higher transportation costs for the shipment of goods across the economy, which, in turn, has contributed to higher prices for consumers.

THE ARMCHAIR WARRIORS are calling for NATO and US to militarily confront Putin, which would be a global gamble not experienced since the Cuban missile crisis. Would Putin got to his nukes? Would his command structure obey him, die for him? Remember the Russian sub commander who refused to launch during the Cuban showdown? Assuming there's at least residual humanity among Putin's inner circle, could Putin put the entire globe in play without a revolt of his military, his inner circle given the damage his invasion has also caused Russia?

BOONVILLE’S International Affairs Desk thinks the only feasible strategy is a negotiated settlement, which also seems impossible given the toll Putin's invasion has taken on Ukranians. Destroy millions of lives, the survivors aren't going to be in much of a mood for negotiation.

WE'VE ALL SEEN what seems to be a Sonoma County building boom, all manner of new construction from Cloverdale south through Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

THE CONTRADICTION? Everyone else is being asked to radically cut back on water usage while new hotels and suburban add-ons are going up the length of the 101 corridor. Experts estimate that each household consumes up to 50,000 gallons of water annually. In 2019, there were some 190,600 households in Sonoma County. If each used 0.15 acre-feet of water (less under strict conservation measures), that’s 30,000 acre-feet per year, or nearly 10 billion gallons. Per Sonoma Water, there are 145,413 acre-feet of water in Lake Sonoma — about 47 billion gallons. 

BUT residential water use is only about 10% of total water use when one adds agricultural and industrial usage. So in a normal year SoCo might use upwards of 100 billion gallons. Vineyards, for example use around 300-500 gallons per acre per year. SoCo has 62,000 acres of grapes, not all of them on the Russian River, but most of them. So grapes alone constitute between 15 and 30 billion gallons per year, not counting frost protection.

SO DO THE MATH. SoCo aquifers are said to be either tapped out or dropping fast while the Russian River has been tapped out for years, even before the drought when, as I recall, Cloverdale went to a moratorium on new construction.

NOT REALLY recommended viewing but kinda interesting is the new Netflix documentary on a repulsive Brit celebrity named Jimmy Saville, and why he became so big in England is beyond me, but then the French thought Jerry Lewis was absolutely the funniest guy in America and right here in Mendocino County there's a varsity old hippie who lots of humor-challenged groupies consider an icon among the idiot sectors of the 1960s. Saville was a disk jockey who became so popular via his charitable good works he was promoted by the equivalently ghastly Margaret Thatcher all the way into a knighthood. He died before the magnitude of his years of sexual predation were fully documented, but he's another of these famous people who you come away from muttering, Why? What the hell is wrong with people?

CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE, a nearby neighbor in Geyserville, is no less than a legend on harmonica, but he’s no slouch on guitar either, and he’s putting that instrument front and center on his new album, Mississippi Son.

“The first job I got was a driver for an exterminator. I drove this truck all over Chicago. I learned the whole city, and then I was seeing posters and signs in the windows of bars, and I still remember driving past Pepper’s Lounge on 43td St., and the windows with Muddy Waters and I just thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this.’ This was so exciting. I can’t tell ya. So, at night I would go back to these places and hang out, and since I was from Memphis, I already knew how to drink, so I just fit right in. And I was only 19, but they let me in. I was big for my age. They just figured I was ok. They didn’t card me or nothing.”

In Charlie’s world, music wasn’t separated into blues, rock and other genres. Before he ever left Memphis, he would buy 78 rpm records of every imaginable genre.

“They were only a nickel or a dime usually. So, it as easy to buy these things. Nobody wanted them, and I did. It was interesting. There was like Flamenco music and modern jazz. There was music from around the world that had feeling in it like blues did just singing about the same thing: “My Baby left me.” (Chuckles) It’s just about life. The ups and down of life just like in blues. My baby left me seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. So, I discovered a lot of music I wouldn’t have ordinarily ever even heard by finding these old 78s I was curious about. I took ’em home and listened to ’em and went, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’” 

(Blues Blast Magazine interview, photo Michael Weintrob)

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS ASSISTANT COACH Alyssa Nakken (92), the first female to coach on the field 

MS. NAKKEN is a welcome baseball break-through, but I'm surprised base coaches haven't been replaced by robots, as every other innovation this season seems aimed at roboticizing the grand old game.

DESIGNATED HITTERS for the National League. Unfortunate in the extreme. Thousands of exciting games have occurred because a pitcher, batting for himself, came through with unexpected heroics. 

THE REST of the “innovations” aimed at speeding up the game are for the new generations of attention-deficit disordered “fans” who can't focus their flea brains on anything beyond their telephones.

PITCH CLOCKS? No. So what if the pitcher takes a few extra seconds, or whole minutes between pitches?The game, perfect as it was before all these changes, was designed to be slow and, to the true fan, slow was savored, making the sudden bursts of on-field energy all the more exciting.

NO DEFENSIVE SHIFTS? Why accommodate non-team players who won't hit to the opposite field? Guys who refused used to be fined. Or yanked.

LARGER BASES? For the sight impaired? Alleged health and safety reform to spare players collisions, but the artful slides and the balletic shortstop and second basemen were always purely beautiful despite the occasional contact.

AUTOMATIC BALL/STRIKE ZONE? Pure blasphemy. Errant calls are part of the game, so why cater to the metric-heads and their eternal quest for perfection in all things? It's all aimed at taking as much of the human out of the game the cyber-slaves can get away with.

THE BOYS OF SUMMER will do handstands in their graves to know that every extra inning will begin with a man on second, supposedly “to preserve player health and safety.” Huh? Trained athletes can't play an extra inning or five without keeling over from exhaustion or injury? Please. 

BRANDON BELT. Yeah, what about him? After all these years of called third strikes on pitches a gnat's eyelash outside the strike zone, and just as many years blasting line drive outs at the opposing team's Brandon Belt Shift with their shortstop clear over in right field, Belt astounded me and the rest of baseball world the other day when he dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line. When my colleague, The Major, told me about it I refused to believe him until he brought up the replay. I really like Gabe Kapler, the newish manager. Previous skippers, namely Bruce Bochy, simply allowed Belt to keep on belting into the shift.

SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: “Question of the day. Can Mendocino County get out of its own way? I think it’s time that we did! There are a few out there hanging on to decades old disputes that the rest of us are ready to move on from. 

Bye crabs, Let’s go forward! Crab mentality, also known as crab theory, crabs in a bucket (also barrel, basket, or pot) mentality, or the crab-bucket effect, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you". The metaphor is derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket.”

HUH? What is the Supervisor talking about? “Decades old”? Who’s talking about County matters from more than 20 years ago/the last century? Who even remembers them? Why does it seem to bother her?

THAT COP SHOOTING in Michigan this week reminds us all of too many others like it. A guy gets pulled over for a traffic violation and, after some mutually unintelligible back and forth between him and the officer, the guy takes off running, the cop running after him, and soon both are in a death grapple, which the cop wins by shooting the guy dead. Why not let the driver run off and impound his car? When he's forced to show up to re-claim his vehicle, arrest him there. Or let him run off again and sell his car. Of course there are millions of people out there who presume the law doesn't apply to them, and there is a minority of cops who lack common sense. Because in this shooting the cop is white, the dead man black, here we go again with the whole opportunistic array of race demagogues exploiting the sad episode to the max, the lawyer-vultures making another of their own killings. 

ELDER ABUSE, prose division. From today's Press Democrat: “A Silver Alert was issued around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Alerts are issued when “an elderly, developmentally, or cognitively-impaired person has gone missing and is determined to be at-risk,” according to the California Highway Patrol. Orr is deaf and has cognitive disabilities, says the Santa Rosa Police Department. “He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and possibly a diaper.”

SLOPPY writing by the paper's Colin Atagi, suggesting the old boy was wearing a black t-shirt and a diaper, but since diapers are hardly crucial to identification, why mention the possibility? Old age is difficult enough without gratuitous, careless insult.

SPEAKING OF INSULT, how cruelly low can the Republicans go? The cretinous governor Abbott of Texas using immigrants to show how tough he is on illegals is just about the lowest. Abbott has sent two busloads of desperate people to Washington DC, media-brandishing them to make a crummy, unfounded political point. The migrants, who looked like perfectly respectable people who will likely make better citizens than a lot of native born Americans, had come from the Del Rio sector in Texas and had traveled to the U.S. border from Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

FEINSTEIN NO LONGER UP TO IT? “I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker said. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”

Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating. They said it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California... (SF Chron).

RANDOM BLIPS from a failing mind. Seriously, does it matter who controls twitter and all these social media platforms? Don't most of us auto-pilot our way through what we read, approving and rejecting according to what's stored in our hobgoblin brains, the conscientious among us taking into account our biases in our attempts to sort out truth from untruth, the cruel and the stupid abdicating all responsibility and voting Republican?

ISN'T IT OBVIOUS why millions of people in every part of the globe are on the move, these many millions born into murderous regimes presided over by thieves? Wouldn't you light out for more or less stable territory if you were a Honduran, a Somali? A Mexican? 

YOU FASCISTS out there chuckling about the Texas governor’s exploitation of immigrants  would enjoy "The Camp of the Saints" by Jean Raspal. This quote resonate with you? “The West has not yet understood that whites, in a world become too small for its inhabitants, are now a minority and that the proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, irretrievably to extinction in the century to come, if we hold fast to our present moral principles.”

RUMOR wafting over the hill from Ukiah is that wedding bells are ringing for our redoubtable District Attorney, David Eyster, presently about to celebrate his 4th term as Mendo's top cop. The lucky girl? Lisa Welsh McCurley, a nurse practitioner at Baechtol Clinic in Willits. The pair were old college sweethearts, broke up, and went their own ways. Divorces intervened, and they reconnected several years ago via the Net. Lisa moved to Ukiah from the Pacific Northwest where she maintains her own home in Ukiah, but has often pulled the night shift at the DA's house where she helps him guard his politically suspect lawn against dandelions. Ms. McCurley's professionally calming demeanor and her separate address herald a lasting relationship.

MY TV NEWS CONSUMPTION is pretty much confined to ABC — “Building a better Bay Area, moving forward, finding solutions.” This Frisco-based news show has never indicated forward motion let alone solutions, but it's often very funny in unintended ways, and the smart people paid to say silly things on television must somehow rationalize what they do for a living as harmless. Trivializing info delivery isn't harmless, but let's keep things upbeat, ok?

THE BETTER BAY AREA BUILDERS are followed by the national news with David Muir, half the source of ongoing disagreement in the ava's plush editorial suite. One side to the disagreement insists Muir is phonier than Scott Simon of NPR, the other for Simon as the phonier, bogosity in a class all by itself, emotional fakery through and through, so clear it ought to be insulting, even to the NPR demographic. Dropping his voice a couple of octaves, “Please tell me, if you will — I know it's difficult — how you felt when your goldfish died.” Muir isn't even in it; he's just another news reader, although he did show up in Poland recently in his tailored combat jacket to report on the fighting from, natch, a safe distance away. (The BBC has reporters at the front.) With Muir I don't feel like leaping through the screen for his throat, but Simon? Instant ultra-vi.

THIS MORNING I tuned in CNN hoping to catch the dependably hilarious Wolf Blitzer scooting around his “Situation Room,” pointing at maps of global catastrophes, but instead caught a jolly fat guy named Brian Stetler just as he announced a real brow-furrower, “Why doesn't Joe Biden hold more press conferences? He's only had two this year.” 

WOW! I got all excited, especially given that CNN is a Democrat front. The Democrats were finally going to talk about their nude emperor! I assumed the guest expert would be a geriatrics specialist explaining that the poor guy barely knows where he is, that's why Joe Biden doesn't have more press conferences. But no. 

ON COMES a woman named Lynn Sweet, “Washington correspondent for the Chicago Sun-Times.” (Get back!) Ms. Sweet, a babed-out blonde in her 70s dressed like she was 30 and on her way to a singles bar, agreed that Biden, “with his great charm and real feeling for the American people” ought to appear more! America misses him! 

FORTUNATELY for my shaken sense of reality, Ms. Sweet was followed by Anne Applebaum of The New Yorker, a seriously serious person with a grimly reassuring Madam Defarge affect to match her serious seriousness. No blonde wig and bright-red funnsy-wunnsy red lipstick for Anne. 

APPLEBAUM was up early to talk about “America needs a better plan to fight autocracy.” A better plan? Where and what is the first plan? Occasionally, if not Cassandra herself, how about a bold soul — Chomsky — on national tv who simply expresses what millions of US feel in our bones — that we've seen the best of it, and now, assuming Putin doesn't finish us all off in the immediate future, it's all downhill in violently unpredictable ways. Firm up your mutual aid groups, America. It's going to get rough out there.

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] I enjoyed living at the beach in SoCal in an artist community where I didn’t have to do anything other than occasionally open up my gallery to the public.

It was great living in a tourist hotspot. It was wonderful having 6 independent breweries within a 15 minute walk. I very much enjoyed having Uber & Lyft and not having to own a car. I loved that I had dozens of fancy restaurants to choose from. 

I also loved that my neighbors were the people you see on TV every day. I enjoyed dating actresses, models, dancers, news anchors, and all those tourists having their “all girl” getaway. It was paradise.

I gave every bit of that up to live in a rural area in the Rust Belt. No more Uber & Lyft. No more fancy restaurants. No models to date. Instead, I spend time with my chainsaw and wood chipper. Instead, I use my rototiller, hoe, and rake. Instead, I prep for myself and my neighbors (though they don’t know it). 

Berlin in the 1920’s was the most decadent place on Earth much like California is today. Anyone that got themselves out of Berlin by 1933 never regretted having done so.

Get out at any cost.

[2] Drought! There is no more room in the desert for anybody new. People are already moving east because of drought and wildfires. New home builders are unable to get permits because the required water is not available. Next year, Arizona is going to get hammered with large Aggie areas shutting down. A town northeast of Phoenix, Rio Verde, is losing its Scottsdale trucked in water because Scottsdale is being cut back. It started with wells, they now pump mud, then water was trucked in for a number of years. These are up to million dollar homes that will eventually be abandoned.

[3] One of the main issues of this trimming is the use of multiple contractors and the extreme lack of communication. In less than a month we had 3 different marking crews, two different cutting crews, and all with different plans on what was to be done. It became apparent I needed to be present to watch what was being done. This time the communication problem was mine because I do not understand or speak Spanish. I finally had to request the supervisor of the crew to remain on site so he could translate. Finally after 3 days they finished, but I still had to clean up brush and debris that the crew failed to come back for. Now a complete different guy with a computer tablet shows up and marks a tree they had cut around. Seems they did not trim the branches high enough so they have to come back and trim it. They need a liaison to work between PG&E, the contractors, and the public, and then make sure they are on site to make sure the agreement that was worked out with the property owners is lived up to. No communication is why they have so much confusion.

[4] If Elon succeeds in freeing Twitter, I’ll offer up all the praise that warrants, but I think people are getting into a dangerous kind of “Elon will save us” or “Here comes Daddy with a big stick” kind of mindset. Some of these very powerful people may lend a hand, or appear to do so, but anyone who is rich on that kind of scale has dirty hands and cannot be trusted. You just don’t get there without taking the ticket. We have to get over the idea that a savior is going to fix things. It’s debilitating and makes people believe they don’t need to do anything because it’s all taken care of, or will be, by someone who can do what we can’t. Elon Musk won’t save our civilization. He couldn’t even if he wanted to, and I doubt he wants to.

[5] (a) Beer prices are up — $1 to $2 per 6 pack. Even Miller, that old standby when funds are short, will cost you $7.99 for a Six. Not long ago it would be $5.99, tops (when relatives from Cannes visit, they’ll present us with a few select bottles of Champagne. I reciprocate with cold Millers, “The Champagne of Bottled Beer”) The good news is Sam Adam’s has held the line on prices. More good news: Narragansett is is once again on the shelves. “Hi neighbor, have a ‘gansett.” That’s a sign for me that things ain’t that bad.

(b) When all the dudes with F150’s see their darlings beached like whales in their driveways (due to fuel costs), AND they can’t buy beer due to costs of hops and all other grains, I predict that will be a similar situation to the psychotics not being able to get their anti-psychotic drugs (90%+ of which are made in China).

(c) Have you noticed ammo is somewhat more plentiful? The ammo drought might be over, for now. Stock up while you can. On the other hand, volumes of Chekhov’s short stories have disappeared from bookstores. When I asked the clerk about it she gave me a funny look. Has Chekhov, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy been pulled from the shelves? It bears further investigation.

[6] I’ll tell you who had style: Gangsters, dames and detectives in old Film Noir movies out of Hollywood 1941-1958. Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Widmark, James Cagney, Gene Tierney, Yvonne Decarlo (to name just a few out of hundreds of actors of the day) … dressed to the nines while holding up a bank, engaging coppers with a Tommy Gun, making a getaway in a Ford Fodor … and looking good doing it.

 [7] Nothing is inevitable. The future hasn’t happened yet. A more accurate description of our fate is to derive a probability of a particular future occurring based on many assumptions. And who is to say a given probability is accurate? Animals know this inherently – they aren’t concerned about anything except what’s happening at the moment. It’s Man who has been cursed with knowledge that a future exists. But sadly, we don’t use this knowledge to take appropriate actions.

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