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CONDITIONS WILL GRADUALLY WARM AND DRY through the week with interior valleys returning to the upper 80s by Friday. Drizzle will lift away from the coast today with marine stratus becoming more diurnally driven late in the week. (NWS)
ALBION-LITTLE RIVER FIRE DEPARTMENT BBQ
The Albion-Little River Fire Department and Fire Department Auxiliary cordially invite you to celebrate the return of our annual fundraiser BBQ on Saturday, July 9, from Noon to 5 PM at ALRFPD Station 812, 43100 Little River Airport Rd., Little River. Please be aware that pending public health orders, the BBQ has a potential to be cancelled if COVID cases go up.
Support our firefighters while munching down on tasty BBQ’d chicken, tri tip, vegan entree, chili beans, corn-on-the-cob, garlic bread and desserts. We will have a wine auction as well as an auction for other items (i.e., fine dining, jewelry, hotel stays, art, furniture, etc.), live music, a children’s area, ALR Fire Department t-shirts for sale, dessert booth and bar.
Tickets are available at the door and are $25 for adults, $12 for 7-12 year olds, and free for children under 7 accompanied by a paying adult.
Volunteers are needed to help the day before for preparation, to help at the event, and to provide desserts for our dessert booth. In addition, donations for our auction are welcome. Please contact me, Carolyn Latkin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Susy Kitahara at email@example.com as soon as possible.
We’re looking forward to seeing every one of you! Thanks for your support.
THE QUIZ IS BACK and it’s time to titillate your grey matter once more… Yes, the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz returns this week after an absence of almost two and a half years!
We shall be exercising your brain cells on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, resuming at Laurens at The Buckhorn on Thursday, 7th July, with the first round of questions beginning at 7pm.
It’s the return of the banter, mind games, lovely food, fine wine, delicious beer, prizes, and a new, money-winning ‘game’ during the half-time break.
Hope to see you there,
Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster...
SUMMER SCHOOL, Superintendent Simson reports:
Watching young people evolve and grow through observational science opportunities is one of THE BEST things about being an educator and facilitator. Hats off to Estela Espinoza and her second grade, as they celebrated their butterfly release that they had fostered from Larva to Butterfly.
All our kids, under the wing of Charlotte Triplett at Anderson Valley Elementary's summer program, are taking flight with the love and care of the staff.
WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
A READER WRITES: Pee yew! If you’ve noticed a funky smell south of Fort Bragg — you’re not alone.
Over the last year, a new treatment system at the city’s wastewater facility has proved to be far more efficient in the removal of solids from the waste stream than was expected. Ultimately, the new treatment system improves the reliability and quality of treated water released into the ocean, but it means there’s a lot more stuff to dry out.
This is the source of the odor that many have experienced near the treatment plant facility and around the south of town. The wastewater facility is located on the Coastal Trail, so you may notice a stronger odor out on the bluffs.
A new dryer is expected to be delivered to the wastewater facility Oct. 1. In the meantime, the city has continued treating the biosolids to reduce the volume and combat the odor.
The city began the search for equipment to reduce the biosolids volume in September. In March, city staff found a biosolids dryer unit that would fit within the treatment facility at a reasonable price. The City Council approved the purchase of the biosolids dryer at the May 10 meeting.
For now we wait — and hold our noses.
ATTENTION DSL CUSTOMERS:
If you were a customer of Sonic’s or MCN’s DSL service, this last weekend has no doubt been a frustrating one. Sonic discontinued their DSL service, and since MCN just resold Sonic’s both went down when Sonic pulled the plug last Friday. The Comptche Broadband Committee has learned that AT&T has been approved to offer their DSL Extreme service to you. Their contact page is dslextreme.com/support/contact and their sales phone number is (866) 243-8638.
If they give you any guff, drop us a line and we’ll run interference.
Jim Gagnon, Comptche Broadband Committee, http://comptchebits.org/
VERY QUIET in Boonville on the 4th, not so much as a firecracker was heard. Used to be, when we still had a large population of the untamed, the wild ones brought out their entire arsenals to celebrate the freedom to make alotta noise. We also used to have a chaste 4th event at the Boonville Fairgrounds, a no-alcohol, child-centered event, apparently killed by covid.
IN OTHER AREAS of the country there was the usual mayhem of mass shootings and general disorder now common in the land.
DO YOU WANT OUT? A friend said he’d listened to a Bay Area talk show as serial callers said they would like to emigrate. I say, “Here’s your hat and what’s your hurry?” Couldn’t get me outta here with dynamite. Leave the greatest show on earth? For where? The frozen north? And depart without a fight? I’m hoping to remain agile enough to at least volunteer as a sandbag on the barricades when the fascisti make their move in ‘24.
SPEAKING of the fascists, their “intellectuals” — Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson etc. — are flocking to Hungary where another fat guy, this one with brains, Viktor Orban, is giving lessons on how to take over America like he took over Hungary. Read all about it in the current New Yorker as our Trumpers, inspired by Orban, move to capture our public institutions, everything from school boards to city and county election offices.
HISTORICALLY, the European fascists have always made their moves in chaotic times like these, promising to restore order. And now that we’ve got plenty of chaos, and millions of fascist-minded dupes here in Liberty Land…
AT THOSE SPIFFY new gas pumps on deep South State Street, Ukiah, a guy was filling up when a bedraggled woman walked up and demanded, “Are you the bastard who stole my kid? A guy’s driving around town grabbing kids and throwing them in the trunk of his car.” The accosted fuel customer calmly replied, “As you can see, ma’am, I don’t have a trunk on my pick-up.” At which a clerk emerged from the adjacent store and shooed her away, explaining, “She’s always around here. We keep chasing her off, but she always comes back.”
SO OFTEN do we encounter disturbed persons these days, that many of us, of necessity because there are so many of them out there, have become adept at therapeutic calming strategies. You don’t have to be an old timer to remember a time when aberrant behavior of the public type wasn’t permitted. Of course, we had a functioning state hospital system where the deranged were humanely housed and cared for, some of them even regaining themselves.
HEADQUARTERED IN UKIAH, the County of Mendo harbors what the helping professionals grandly describe as a “Continuum of Care” through whose 30-plus agencies enormous sums of public money are annually sluiced, while average citizens wonder, “Well, gosh, with all these highly trained, professionally compassionate people offering a continuum of care, how come so many of the obviously uncared for are wandering up and down State Street at all hours?”
HELP WANTED, Videographer...
I need some help with a project, I wish to start a youtube channel for children - it will be called “Mr. Skyhawk’s nest.” It will be a combination of things, I will tell stories and accompany the stories with topical educational interviews with people that are related to the story subject: the overall idea is to have a safe creative online space for children and the adults that love them. I had videographer Steve Ritchie lined up to help me, but he is very busy with paying work in Hollywood, we have recorded 2 episodes and with my twin daughters we recorded a very nice theme song at Peter Temple Studio. I need a videographer who is excited to help with the project, at least initially it will be a volunteer gig, but I will link to a Patreon page, so its possible some funds might become available. The only thing I can guarantee is the joy of laboring for children and community. If this strikes a curiosity in you, or someone you might know please email me or call 707-409-4789.
KIM MERCIER NAMED CEO OF BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF UKIAH
Boys & Girls Clubs of Ukiah is very pleased and excited to announce the appointment of Kim Mercier as their new Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Mercier is a proven leader who is known for her compassion, vision, and significant accomplishments. Kim brings BGCU a wealth of skills and expertise gained over the course of 20 years in an exemplary career with nonprofit management, as well as a decade of working in the judicial system as a former Magistrate for the State of Maryland and a Juvenile Officer and Court Referee for the state of Michigan.
Motivated by a deep commitment, based on her personal youth experience growing up in the Upper Peninsula part of Michigan as an impoverished immigrant from Vietnam, Kim has built her career around helping others. Kim speaks openly and passionately about her commitment to empower youth in systematically disadvantaged communities. Mercier’s role in leading BGCU is grounded in the belief that everyone has unique potential, and our call is to help one another find it. Kim appreciates that this work of inspiring and igniting young people to step into their fullest potential is best served by challenging herself and the staff to do the same.
Kim earned a Master’s degree from Northern Michigan University in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.
“I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to serve as CEO for this incredible organization,” says Mercier. “I am humbled to step into this role and look forward to working with the board, staff, and our community to grow upon the impact we can make amongst our youth in Ukiah - As the world is quickly changing, I see a greater need to embark on a growth phase to keep pace with the increased demands of services to advance our efforts and positively impact lives.”
As CEO, Kim’s responsibilities include leading the organization’s strategic direction, oversight of organizational operations, financials, programming, brand reputation, talent recruitment, resource development, and stakeholder relationships. The CEO also serves as the organization’s primary ambassador and lead communicator.
Ms. Mercier has had strong success in developing campaigns that helped to grow planned gifts and donor support in her previous positions working with non-profits and tribal communities. “Fund raising and corporate support is critical to the health of Boys & Girls Club in every market” commented Mercier. “I am thrilled to now be CEO in Ukiah where corporate giving and community pride have always been such a cornerstone of the area. The generosity of the business community is remarkable. I fully expect Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah will continue to thrive and serve the youth and families that need us most.”
Since 1994 BGCU has provided our youth with a safe, fun, and supervised environment in which to participate in positive activities each day after school and most holidays. Every day we strive to improve each child's life by instilling self-esteem, courage, and positive values through our many educational programs. Our members gain confidence and develop a sense of usefulness and belonging. Our mission is to inspire and enable all our members to reach their full potential and to become caring and responsible adults.
For more information on how you can partner with BGCU, contact Kim Mercier at 707-467-4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BILL KIMBERLIN: This is Brock Farm. They are my neighbors and where I am lucky enough to shop when I'm in Anderson Valley. I hope these photos can tell their story better than I can. It is the story of the best of America. Sadly, Mike Brock has recently passed, yet what he and his wife and children started lives on.
TEMPERED STEEL, I TELL YA
A Supreme Court ruled in my favor -- an illegal conviction. The general opinion was might case should have been dismissed at arraignment. I should never have taken the deal. I can only deal with so much stress. So to all the “judges” who handled my case and violation like a hot potato so they wouldn’t be liable for all the shady crap they did: They aren’t worth the dog shit on the bottom of my boot. Being humble, I held my silence and sat there as you all lied and created a fantasy narrative because the truth was so obvious a blind man could see it. Enjoy your kickback money from the California Department of Corrections. They went around, bent and twisted two dozen laws and case statutes just to send me to prison. There is no justice. The courts are chaos. Nothing is set in stone when cops and professional liars are in power. Have you ever heard of the “Kids for Cash scandal”? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In my violation hearing I liked the lie about the glass jar. According to Maresh, Eyster and Faulder, I turned to face Maresh “aggressively” and she threw the jar like a boomerang, defying physics and it hit me in the back of the head and the cops mysteriously lost the photo of the lump on my head. The allegedly “small” jar was a 32-ounce Mason jar that left a huge pile of glass and condiments.
In a prison riot, defending myself, I hit a big guy once shattering his jaw, cheekbone and orbital bone and giving him a stroke. Yet allegedly I hit Maresh two or four times and left not a mark. Truly amazing. She changed her story a dozen times. But Faulder said people who change their story are telling the truth. Especially against Mr. France.
The law only protects the powerful and corrupt. Not once have any basic rights been protected by the scum who broke our system. I should have taken the stand but I thought it was too obvious that I was innocent and it wasn’t necessary. The judges knew I’m innocent and they still covered up the perjury against me and sold me out. So if you think those people at the courthouse are going to do the right thing, you are wrong. Maresh even stated her vindictive motive plain as day and Faulder ignored it. My girl Sadie told the truth. Sadie’s story never changed because the truth never changes. Faulder made a lame excuse about that too.
I never got a chance to tell my story. Here’s the truth. My word is solid gold. I own my actions. I was raised like hand forged tempered steel. I had no parents growing up so I have no patience for BS. I will be resentenced and released soon. I lost everything. I have to rebuild. You are your own best lawyer. Innocent or guilty you have to defend yourself because nobody else will.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 5, 2022
JAVIER CARRILLO, Ukiah. Protective order violation, failure to appear, probation revocation.
DAVID FITCH, Fort Bragg. Burglary.
NICHOLAS HALVORSEN, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
CHRISTOPHER HEANEY, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
CHESHIRE MAIAVA, Fort Bragg. Burglary, controlled substance.
KYLE RICHARDS, Oakland/Ukiah. DUI.
RUSSELL VILLALPANDO, Fort Bragg. Disoderly conduct-alcohol, concentrated cannabis.
SCOTTY WILLIS, Ukiah. Camping in Ukiah, trespassing. (Frequent flyer.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I had just finished watching George M. Cohan’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and switched over to the news. Six dead, 24 injured in a parade shooting near Chicago. With all due respect to Mr. Cohan, it’s not “over there” but over here, the continuing decay and dissolution of a once great America. The fireworks apparently came from the barrel of a rifle, and the bullets shattered and splattered bodies into a flood of red blood as American flags waved, with their red stripes now representing America’s flowing rivers of corpse-filled crimson.
IF DEMOCRATS DIDN’T SUCK
by David Swanson
If Democrats threw out the filibuster today and rapidly passed legislation over the next 8 months as if they gave a damn — as if they were, oh, I don’t know, the Supreme Court — and if they put just what they’re increasing the military budget by into their Build Back Better bill, if they put through with majority votes just those items they were elected on that are favored by significant majorities in the country, they’d have done enough by 6 months from now to not lose those elections. And if they kept going, they’d need never lose an election again. The whole premise of keeping the filibuster around to restrain the Republicans is the plan to go on sucking badly for 6 more months in order to lose — combined with the delusion that Republicans are going to be restrained by something that THEY can and will choose to throw out. The Republicans will certainly plan on never losing an election again. Any elections they can’t win or rig, they can ask the Supreme Court to fix up for them — and hire Al Gore to explain to us that we should sit back and take it.
If the Democrats were not fundamentally committed to sucking, here’s what they might do:
1) abolish Congressional vacations for the next 8 months
2) abolish the filibuster
3) abolish student debt
4) make college free
5) tax billionaires
6) tax quasi-billionaires
7) tax corporations
8) de-fund nuclear weapons
9) pass a major Green New Deal
10) close foreign military bases
11) create enhanced and public Medicare for All
12) restore the minimum wage
13) strip the Supreme Court of major powers assumed by it
14) expand the Supreme Court and fill it with ideal justices just out of law school
15) ban war weapons from individuals
16) ban war weapons from police
17) legislate a universal right to 18th century muskets for members of the National Guard, with no further gun rights for anyone
18) legislate abortion rights
19) ban school prayer
20) ban school sports prayer
21) ban Congressional prayer
22) legislate card-check organizing and ban “right to work” laws
23) legislate paid sick and family leave
24) legislate the inalienable right to vote for all U.S. residents over 16
25) create universal preschool
26) create a decent system of trains
27) create public financing of election campaigns
28) make the test for citizenship possession of a pulse
29) rip down borders
30) abolish weapons sales to foreign governments
31) quadruple non-strings non-military actual humanitarian foreign aid
32) create a department of unarmed nonviolent civil defense
33) ban fracking
34) give back Oklahoma again
35) tax offshoring
36) remove the cap on Social Security taxes and expand Social Security
37) abolish the federal death penalty
38) Decriminalize marijuana nationally
39) Eliminate cash bail and mandatory minimums
40) Ban armed drones, mass surveillance, telemarketing, and Congress Members owning stock
41) Break up high-tech monopolies
42) Make DC and Puerto Rico states
43) Convene hearings at which to hear and learn from nations that handled COVID well
44) Announce a schedule of impeachments of horrendous abusers of power currently and formerly holding high offices in government, including in Congress and on the Supreme Court
45) End the war on Yemen
Do one of those a day for the next 45 days and you’re at mid-August. Then keep going. Make clear that you intend to keep going. Make clear that you’ve decided to copy from Republicans their willingness to act rather than their funders and policies. And then explain to me how the Democrats are doomed to lose the next elections and so had better keep the filibuster in place and rely on Joe Biden vetoes to save the world, as if Biden ever saw something horrible he would veto, as if Biden wouldn’t make a key bipartisan principle out of not vetoing, as if the world could survive simply by slowing the destruction rather than implementing the radical changes required, even if Biden would lift a finger to slow it.
(David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)
GUNS, ABORTION, AND THE CLASHES YET TO COME
by Richard A. Epstein
Last week, the Supreme Court delivered two blockbuster opinions. The first, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, struck down a New York state law provision that required any person who wished to carry a concealed handgun in public to first demonstrate to a public official that they had “proper cause” to do so for self-defense. In practice, this meant that applicants had to show that they faced a special risk above and beyond the ordinary risks that everyone runs in society. The second, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, put an end to the forty-nine-year period in which Roe v. Wade (1973) guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion.
The response to both these decisions was strong and emphatic—from both sides. However, because the six conservative justices stuck together for both decisions, the left howled far louder than the right. Sadly, advocates on both sides treated their positions as self-evident truths, ignoring difficult conceptual and administrative challenges. Thus, in Dobbs, there was no middle ground. Forces on the right took great pleasure in concluding that Dobbs is a “triumph of democracy, constitutionalism, and courage,” and that the court rightly rejected living constitutionalism and returned the question of abortion rights to the people. The liberal dissenters asked not whether the people had the right to regulate abortion but rather whether each woman had the right to decide for herself whether to have a baby. By throwing the issue back into the hands of legislatures, the Supreme Court gave only modest comfort to many states, such as Illinois, that decided to protect Roe, while others—like Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Iowa—sought to reinstate restrictions that could turn the clock back beyond the bad old days before Roe.
Bruen reversed those roles: progressives thought legislative discretion should control, while conservatives took the view that the Second Amendment gives the right to bear firearms strong constitutional protection.
Sadly, in these cases neither side thinks hard about how individual rights relate to legislative power under our Constitution, which provides ample place for both personal autonomy and popular self-government.
An Overbroad Gun Law
In sorting out this mess, start with the evident tension in Bruen between the conservative position on strong individual gun rights and the constitutional text, which reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The easiest way to integrate the two clauses of the Second Amendment is to observe that the first one states the reason for the protection of the people’s right. That, in turn, requires looking back to Article I, Section 8, clauses 15 and 16, which provide for the division of authority over the militia between the states and federal government. On this view, it is a mistake to treat the first clause as surplusage, because it operates as a backstop so that heavy-handed federal regulation of guns does not prevent the state from organizing its own internal affairs. But if this is right, then District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) must be wrong, because no federalism issue arises in regulating what happens in the District of Columbia. McDonald v. Chicago (2010) has to be wrong as well, for if the Second Amendment is intended to protect state autonomy, how can it be read to hamper internal state activities?
Heller and McDonald now stand unchallenged, so the Amendment’s second clause cannot create an absolute right for all places at all times. The key question is, how strong must the justifications be for limiting gun use for such limitations to stand? Justice Breyer, writing in dissent, has the worst of the argument when he says that the matter is so complex that local governments should have virtual carte blanche to regulate gun use while taking into account local variations, such as those between urban and rural areas. But Heller required some higher scrutiny, most likely a form of intermediate scrutiny, which examines both the means and ends of a given statute.
The New York law fails under this strain of scrutiny. The Second Amendment guarantees more than the right to bear arms in one’s kitchen or to keep them in a locked safe. The ordinary meaning of the constitutional text is that you can bear them anywhere. So, where is the threat that makes concealed carriage dangerous enough to justify restriction? New York could have insisted that anyone who bears a gun in public must take prior training in its proper use, but the individual applicants in Bruen had done that. It could have imposed minimum age requirements, like those imposed for driving and for drinking. But the applicants in Bruen were above age. Given these alternatives, the burden should be on New York to show how, in light of the carriage of concealed weapons by trained personnel in other states, that practice presents a threat to the people of New York. However, not a hint of those risks appears in the record. Instead, the dissent only makes a reference to the grisly May 14 supermarket massacre in Buffalo, which did not involve the use of a concealed weapon. So, under the current version of the Second Amendment, the law should have been struck down as overbroad.
On Tailoring Abortion Access
Roe presents the opposite picture. Here, the case for a strong constitutional right to an abortion does not address any variations in local conditions or community norms that might sustain a criminal statute. In 1973, Roe referred neither to an explicit constitutional text nor to a well-established practice when it overturned the democratic judgment in every state of the Union with an opinion that I regarded as unsound then, and which has not aged well, as even the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged.
So why the intellectual shift? On the liberal side, the arguments boil down to two points: first, the individual autonomy of a woman—my body, my choice—with respect to some of the most important decisions of her life; and second, the disproportionate impact that Dobbs would exert on poor women, especially of color. If such poor women of color find themselves in a conservative state, they will find it both more costly and more dangerous to seek an abortion than before Dobbs.
It would be foolish to deny that these are weighty considerations. However, the ultimate question is whether they have constitutional heft or whether they are considerations better left to legislative judgments. I think that a split verdict is warranted. On the first point, it is critical to give an accurate assessment of the asserted autonomy right of women in the abortion context, which stems from the women’s right to decide whether or not to enter into sexual relations. No one can force her to have a child, which is why the law of rape lies at the core of the criminal law. Messy interim cases exist, but if a woman voluntarily chooses to have sexual relationships and subsequently becomes pregnant, she is a guardian of her unborn child who must balance its interest against her own. The close interdependence between mother and child raises painful issues in cases of danger to the life or health of the mother, cases of rape or incest, or cases of children with serious or perhaps lethal birth defects. But none of these complications justifies abortion at will at any time during the pregnancy. Even Roe recognized this point in a backhanded fashion because it limited the right to abortion in the third trimester.
At this point, we must face Chief Justice Roberts’s question in his partial concurrence: how much further back does that fiduciary relationship go, given that the Mississippi statute allows abortions up to fifteen weeks? At that gestational age, one website reports: “At fifteen weeks pregnant . . . your baby is starting to see light.” A sonagram reveals the identical picture to an eagerly expectant mother that it does to a woman intent upon abortion. Can it be said that the fetus is not a baby solely because the mother doesn’t want to carry it to term? Indeed, the pro-life side asks Justice Roberts why legal protection should not extend before fifteen weeks. Moral arguments aside, abortion raises legal questions to which a generalized plea to individual autonomy does not offer a satisfactory answer.
The disparate social impact of abortion also does not seem to carry constitutional weight. If some think that legislatures should be able to take variable circumstances into account with guns, why not with abortions? Legislatures could offer state support for abortions or for newborn babies. Private foundations or charities could also fund abortions or child care. These rights might be tailored to a subset of the population, much like housing or school vouchers. This nagging question about the distribution of public funds and permissions looks wholly free form, something appropriate for legislative attention but not amenable to constitutional protection.
I understand the disappointment on the political left about both these decisions, but what I cannot understand is the outrage and defiance that frame their responses. Is it really helpful to attack organizations that supply pregnancy services but not abortion services? Is it really accurate to state that “shall issue” laws for concealed weapons mark the end of civic peace? We need to tamp down the rhetoric on both guns and abortions in order for the legislative and judicial process to work on both issues.
Wednesday, July 4, 1934 famous Polish-French physicist & chemist Marie Skłodowska Curie, Ph.D (1867-1934), better-known as Madame Curie, met her earthly demise at the age of 66 when she died at Sancellemoz Sanatorium in the town of Passy, France from the effects of aplastic anæmia believed to have been contracted from long-term exposure to ionizing radiation.
Requiéscat In Pace, Madame Curie.
Dr. Marie Curie, is famous for conducting pioneering research on radioactivity along with her husband, famous French physicist Pierre Curie, Ph.D. (1859-1906). She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person & the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, & the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields. She was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, & in 1995 she became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.
The damaging effects of ionizing radiation were not known at the time of her work, which had been carried out without the safety measures later developed. She had carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket, & she stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the faint light that the substances gave off in the dark. Curie was also exposed to X-rays from unshielded equipment whilst serving as a radiologist in field hospitals during World War I. Although her many decades of exposure to radiation caused chronic illnesses, including near-blindness on account of cataracts, & ultimately her death, she never really acknowledged the health risks of radiation exposure.
She was interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre. Sixty years later, in 1995, in honor of their achievements, the remains of both were transferred to the Panthéon, Paris. Their remains were sealed in a lead lining because of the radioactivity.
Because of their levels of radioactive contamination, her papers from the 1890s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. Her papers are kept in lead-lined boxes, & those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing. In her last year, she worked on a book, “Radioactivity,” which was published posthumously in 1935.
The undated photograph depicts Madame Curie in her Paris laboratory.
THE WAY OF THE TYPEWRITER RIBBON
The day before my birthday I drove into the Adirondacks in a 16-year-old Scandinavian craft with a candy apple red exterior. It had been assembled by workers who earned a fair wage in their snowy socialist country, a year or so before GPS became ubiquitous and everyone agreed to have all of their movements tracked because they suddenly became too lazy to read a roadmap. It does everything a reasonable person would expect a car to do, no surprises, no anomalies. The red exterior: I was not at first fond of it. But I come around. I figure it is the color most likely to register in the hypothalamuses of the meatball minds of other drivers. In the trunk: Ginger snaps, a buck knife, a ground tarp, an old sleeping bag, a New York State roadmap, ‘My Antonia’ by Willa Cather (praised in 1919 the rascally and currently politically incorrect H.L. Mencken), a cinnamon jar half full of the ashes of my parents, a toothbrush, and a lot of cash.
A smallish red car. I do not have insecurities about my masculinity, not the sorts for which a motor vehicle could be expected to compensate. I do not need to climb into a steroidal shell in order to feel I’m a master of the roads. I am never subject to a confusion of disorientation that would lead me to believe that a camping trip into the Adirondacks is a dangerous sortie through enemy lines that requires an impregnable combat vehicle.
I’m not qualified to analyze the current state of automobile design, much of it baffles me. I saw a new Lincoln in the parking lot of Price Chopper last week that looked like a Toyota or a Hyundai — they all look the same now. What justifies the price differences? What could you possibly be getting for $50,000 or $60,000? If it’s anything other than a vehicle that is guaranteed to last 100 years, I’d say it’s overpriced.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to buy gasoline in 100 years, or even 50. It might even be illegal, as heroin is now, and to buy a gallon of unleaded you’ll have to ride your bike into the ghetto and take your chances.
If it’s not illegal it will simply be an obsolete item as typewriter ribbons or cassette tapes are now, certainly not on offer through regular channels, not in person nor through the Internet which will not exist in 50 years, or even 20.
Unfortunately, for almost all of us there is no such thing as “easing” into a post-abundance economy or society. If people weren’t so addicted to their current standards and “lifestyles,” mostly the result of their mammalian love of hibernation and mental stolidity, the poverty of imagination, etc., then the coming era very well could be a glorious renaissance of human creativity, a period of soaring self-confidence. We currently exist in an environment comprised mostly of devices and systems the workings of which are an inscrutable mystery to us; largely, we relegate our sense of helplessness to the subconscious level, but we anyway carry around with us a sneaking suspicion of our impotence should complicated arrangements — our devices, tools, and supply lines, electrical power, etc. — begin to break down. It need not be that way.
I don’t know if Neil Young has the answer — I don’t know how I feel about retro-fitting a 55 Buick Century to run on french fry grease. Doesn’t that mean that there has to be a whole lot of french fry grease in our future? Maybe the Cubans are jealously guarding a secret: after all, one often sees photos of huge American cars from the 50s still going strong in the streets of Havana. Where do the parts come from to keep them going? The gasoline? We’ve been told that their economy is all screwed up.
I played my hunches and found a campsite at night; it had a landing or a launch for my canoe which I had not brought along. It was a good spot to sit Indian style and read ‘My Antonia’ as the breeze off the lake kept the biting insects away. The novel has about it a beautiful ache and the feel and texture of molasses and one learns or is reminded that human beings used to live in holes in the ground in Nebraska and not so very long ago.
That night there was a new moon, which means no moon, and the sky was clear and spangled with what were obviously other suns, small because very far away. Why couldn’t the ancients figure it out? They had a story that everything revolved around the earth, and they stuck to it even when their own observations suggested something was awry. The planets (from the Greek “planetae,” or wandering stars) did not seem to orbit the Earth crisply as did the sun and the moon. Sometimes they shifted a little in the “wrong” direction, then moved back in the “right” direction. Therefore, it was proposed that while the planets were orbiting the Earth, they were also engaged in a tighter orbit around… nothing. These were called “epicycles.” But just why would planets be tightly orbiting … nothing … while orbiting in a wide circle around the Earth? The obvious answer then as well as now is that they’re not doing any such thing, you’re just stubbornly cleaving to nonsense.
The next day on my birthday I climbed Ampersand Mountain. It rises 1,774 feet in the last mile and a half of the trail. One is mostly climbing over boulders that have cascaded down the side of the mountain and it was wet and what was not a boulder was mostly muddy. I found myself alone at the top and I discovered pools of rainwater in depressions in the rock and tadpoles in the pool. That is where I put some of the ashes of my parents, in one of those pools, then I ate gingersnaps and started down. I’ve sometimes wondered about the people who go into wild places and make their way through forests and mountains that have escaped man’s improvements, places without guard rails or safety nets or services that will give way to rapidly inflating cushions upon impact. And although I don’t believe we can assume they adhere to one sort of politics rather than another, I bet they all share a dislike for those who seek to foolproof the world.
Rome, New York
LOST HILLS sits on an upslope. This is the closest to hills it becomes. Main Street is Highway 46 which slices through the middle of town. At the east end where the highway meets Interstate 5 the traveler gets a choice: Day’s Inn or Motel 6. Carl’s Jr., Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Love’s or Arby’s. None of the sales taxes go to City Hall because Lost Hills isn’t a city. It’s known as a census designated place, a fancy way of saying that Kern County has every reason to neglect it. Highway 46 shoots past Resnick almonds and takes you straight into town, population 1,938. The tumbleweeds on open ground give you a peek into what Lost Hills looked like before the aqueduct made a river here.
A sign pokes out of the tumbleweeds. “Is growing food a waste of water?” it asks. The question is a rejoinder to a budding movement in San Francisco and Los Angeles that seeks to decide which crops deserve water and which crops do not. Almonds, at least for the moment, stand in the bull’s-eye of this movement. It takes one gallon of water to grow a single almond and because half the crop is being exported to other countries we might conclude that we are exporting a good bit of our water too. But what about the 106 gallons it takes to produce an ounce of steak or the 72 gallons it takes to grow an ounce of lentils?, the almond growers shoot back. If we start treating water like carbon, will the vegan’s footprint be any smaller than the carnivores?
The July sun is a scorcher and I fussed with the dial on the AC long enough to blow past the town’s one stoplight and the aqueduct too. I’m in another land, an expanse of hard, ugly, cratered out earth the color of sand. Hundreds of giant praying mantises standing on platforms of concrete are pulling oil from a Chevron field. This is the west end of Lost Hills, the extraction end. The wind kicks up dirt from the reap of oil and almonds and the dust cloud carries it back into town, raining down on the elementary school first.
I park the car and walk in the direction of a scattering of buildings slapped together with stucco and corrugated tin. A meat store, an auto repair, a pool hall and arcade pass for a commercial strip. No one is out and about. They are either working in the heat or hiding from the heat or maybe dodging the white dude who looks like that heat. Three dogs, part pitbull, the menacing part, have given up on the shade and lie on the open road. Their tongues loll to their knees. A half-block up, the buildings start to meet code.
I walk into the town’s one supermarket, El Toro Loco, the Crazy Bull, and ask the clerk for the owner. He directs me to the back office where a tobacco chewing Yemeni named Anthony Hussein is sitting beneath a photograph of an uncle in his U.S. Army uniform. The uncle died at age 22 fighting in Afghanistan so he hardly seems like an uncle anymore. “Talk to me,” Hussein says, draining a can of Rockstar, caffeine and electrolytes in one slug. “What do you need to know, sir?”
“What’s it been like here during the drought?”
“Drought, no drought, makes no difference. The aqueduct was built with tax money, yes? The aqueduct brings the water, yes? So everybody should have it, right? But this is water for Mr. Resnick. Not the people. When it doesn’t come he finds a way to make it come.” He spits tobacco juice into the empty can of Rockstar. “The checks the workers bring in here from Mr. Resnick are the same checks they bring in for years. I cash them the same. Nothing changes. Big fish eat the small fish here. Anything else I can help you with?”
Hussein seems in a hurry. He guides me back into the main store, with its fine displays of fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, cold cuts and baked goods. The shelves spill pinatas, gloves, hats, pruning shears and loads of white Bimbo bread. The wall of Pacifico and 16 ounce cans of Bud is rebuilt daily. Vicente Fernandez, the legend of ranchera music, croons to no one, but it won’t be this way in 30 minutes, Hussein tells me. Today is ‘quincena’ day, the twice a month payday, and he needs me to scram because the workers coming in to cash their checks and wire 25% back across the border to their families in Guanajuato and Guerrero will wonder if I’m with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If that happens, they will go down the highway and he will lose the dollar he takes out of every $100 worth of their checks. “It’s a bad day,” he says, shooing me out. “You look like Border Patrol undercover.”
Mark Arax, “The Dreamt Land”
ON SUNDAY, September 30, 2007, in the late afternoon, four men met in an airy, book-lined apartment in Washington DC and had a two-hour discussion around the marble table. The subject, it seemed, was the misguidedness, stupidity and sometimes dangerousness of religious belief. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens: over the previous few years each had published a best-selling book condemning religion and they were all rather pleased with themselves. Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ alone with its compelling argument that God is the ultimate Boeing 747 was on its way toward selling 3 million copies and they had all made a great deal of money and had a great deal of fun on tours and at festivals getting abuse from pastors and priests and hurling it righteously back. (It’s not clear they always remembered that it wasn’t actually their antagonists who had started the fight.)
The apartment belonged to Hitchens and his wife Carol Blue and it had regularly hosted movie stars and politicians — a notable after-party hangout following Vanity Fair dos and Washington Correspondents Dinners. But now it was just for men with urgent issues on their mind. This was the first time they had gathered together. They talked about big things — evidence, faith, Bach, cathedrals, jihad, the Trinity, Fermat’s Last Theroem — but to me at least it seems that what they really have on their mind is the significance of the occasion.
— Daniel Soar, London Review of Books, March 21, 2019
SLIM PICKENS explains how he got into the rodeo business: Well, there was this big, lanky, 15-year-old California ranch kid, and he went into the rodeo manager's office and said, "Mister, I want to sign up for the calf-roping but my paw says I ain't allowed to. So I can't use my right name." And the manager said, "Son, no matter what name you use, it'll be slim pickin's out there today." So the boy said, "That's as good a name as any, I reckon - put me down as Slim Pickins." The manager spelled it "Pickens" and the boy won $400 that afternoon.
MISTER NICE GUY
by Herb Caen
If there is one thing you can say about me without risking a libel suit, it’s that I have terrific manners. As Bill Saroyan wrote one time in the California Pelican, “He drives you crazy, he’s so polite, jumping up and down every minute, shaking everybody’s hand, saying, ‘Gladda knowya,’ ‘Nice tuv metcha,’ and ‘Thanxamillion,’ and so on.”
All true. It’s my Sacramento upbringing. Manners were very large in Sacramento when I was a kid and my old German mother, the sweet singer of the Saar, was a strict disciplinarian and straightforward: “Look, you’re not handsome and you don’t have much talent so you better be polite.” “Thank you, Mama,” I would say, getting back to duck. Along with being straightforward she had a mean and effective left hook. Also a mezzo-soprano that rattled windows for blocks around the old neighborhood of 26th and Q streets.
Today she could do Memorex commercials. A wonderful mother, wife, musician, cook and belter.
I’ll tell you how polite I am. After I dial “POPCORN” and get the time, I say, “Thank you.” When I get the recorded announcement that “The number you have reached is not in service at this time,” I say, “Gosh, sorry.” I have never sent a bottle of wine back for fear of hurting the feelings of someone with purple feet. When I order a hamburger rare and it comes well done and the waiter says, “Howzzit?” I say, “Well done.” At table I keep my left hand in my lap or somebody’s.
I always jump to my feet when a lady enters the room, usually knocking over the drinks. I jump to my feet when women enter the room too, and also transvestites. Well, not all transvestites. Only those wearing women’s clothes. The other kind are women who wear their vests inside out.
I’m everything a real nonsexist person shouldn’t be these days: a chair pusher, an elbow holder, a door opener. The last time I grabbed the elbow of a liberated woman attempting to help her up the stairs, she turned on me like a vixen, flashing her fangs and snapping. “You some kinda queer?” “You got an elbow fetish or something?” “I’m not a cripple.” If it weren’t for my being so polite and all she would have become one right then.
In elevators I always remove my hat even if I’m the only passenger. If I’m not wearing a hat I remove my head and hold it under my arm. And to expedite egress I let those who are going out first, a sentence that may boggle you at first. I was first boggled by it during World War II when I saw this this sign over a cafeteria door: “Kindly let those who are going out first,” a difficult sentence to punctuate.
There are many rewards for being polite, most of them in heaven. As I walked into Livingston’s department store the other day, which is like stepping back 30 years, I held the door open for a dear elderly person wearing hat and gloves who beamed in motherly fashion and said, “Thank God there are still a few gentlemen left in the world.” This so embarrassed me that I let go of the door and it hit her square in the rump, knocking her into Notions and Sundries. Of course I was also slightly embarrassed that she was wearing only hat and gloves. Quite well set up for her age, by the way.
As you may have noticed, this is not the golden age of good manners. Here we have these $900 museum quality trash containers on Market Street and people keep throwing their debris on the streets or around those dear Sycamore trees fighting for life. “Pigs! Pigs! Pigs!” I want to shout at these palpable Pigs, but I’m too polite. Also chicken. Some of these pigs are large and probably mean.
Pedestrians bump into you without so much as a “Parmee.” Shaggy kids say, “Any spare change?” And when you give them some do they say, “Thanks”? Of course not. Even though they have yet to pay their dues, like the old winos, they take it for granted. Full marks for honesty at least to the young mendicant on Powell who was flashing and Ashleigh Brilliant card showing an outstretched hand and the inscription, “Give me some money to help support my fight against materialism.”
On crowded buses equality among the sexes has been achieved: it has been years since I’ve seen anybody besides me arise to give a seat to a person of the female persuasion. At the Powell cable turntable, the clawing and kicking for a seat grew so fierce that now we all have them stand in line. The motorists of course are the worst — a red-eyed crisis at every intersection, blood boiling, gorges rising, fists flailing.
It’s all so unnecessary, he said in his calm, well modulated voice. What gaineth a man if he jumps a red light and clobbers a pedestrian? It is no way to make friends. In the old days yellow cabs had this message on the windshield facing the driver: “Wave them through and watch them smile!” — something I haven’t seen a cab driver do in years. It’s worth a try though, if you’ll pardon the rude suggestion.