Mild Day | Movie Night | Orange Alert | Boat Parade | TG Dinners | Hunting Camp | LEEP Delay | Mole Kit | Widow Help | Gutting | Unimpressed | Lost Coast | Boonquiz | Hunting Dogs | Auto Shop | Copper Still | Weaving Tule | Lookalikes | Shields Reports | Stop ODs | P Money | Yesterday's Catch | SMART Railfan | Laptop | Cold Case | Little Steph | Vets Day | Strongly Object | Give Back | Middle Earth | Birthday Thoughts | Old Coots | EV Costs | One More | Witch Burning | Assassin Portrait | Foreign Correspondence | Underpass | War Biz | News Flash | Ukraine | Country Store
ANOTHER DAY WITH MILD DAYTIME TEMPERATURES AND DRY AIR with offshore winds. High clouds are due to arrive this evening with cooler temperatures Thursday. (NWS)
SATURDAY NIGHT MOVIE AT THE PHILO GRANGE
THE GREAT ORANGE GASBAG announced Tuesday night that he is running for president in 2024, attacked Biden and “radical left” Democrats. He said the country is “being destroyed before our very lives” [sic]. “I order [sic] to make America great and glorious again, and I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States. This won't be my campaign, this will be our campaign. Just like I promised in 2016, I am your voice.” Trump filed the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission just moments before he began his announcement speech to bused-in magas stuffed into his gold-trimmed ballroom as the magas chanted, “USA.” Trump said, “America's comeback starts right now.”
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF FORT BRAGG will again be serving a free thanksgiving dinner—turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, dinner roll, pumpkin pie, and juice—for home delivery, between Westport and Albion, or curbside pickup at the church (367 S. Sanderson Way in Fort Bragg).
To reserve a meal, order online, at https://fbpchurch.org/ctd-1/, or call Eve at 707-478-7212 or the church office at 707-964-2316. You can also print out a “Meal Reservation Form” for someone who isn’t online, and mail it or drop it off at the church. Reservations are required by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 23, for both!
We’ve had a lot of volunteer signups already—thank you!—but there are many more volunteer opportunities still open throughout Thanksgiving week, for a variety of tasks. Sign up at https://fbpchurch.org/ctd-1/. (Wow—all slots for delivery drivers have been filled!)
Donations of “dessert dollars” can be made in person at Safeway, Harvest Market and Mendosa’s, and online at A Sweet Affair Patisserie’s website (www.ASweetAffairPatisserie.com). Monetary donations are, of course, welcome—click on the “Give Now” button near the bottom of the event page, and choose “Holiday Hunger”; mail your donation to the church; or drop your donation in the mail slot to the left of the church front door.
Thank you—and please spread the word!
Monica Steinisch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
POT GRANT MEETING POSTPONED
Due to circumstances beyond the Mendocino Cannabis Department's control, the Local Equity Entrepreneur Program (LEEP) meeting originally scheduled for 3:30PM on Wednesday, November 16 has been postponed to 3:30PM on Wednesday, November 30.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.
(County Pot Permit Office Presser)
THE MOLE KIT
Arcelia’s Mole Kit has all the chiles, spices, and chocolate you need to make her incredible Mole de Pollo (Chicken Mole). This recipe is a stunner and it really isn’t too hard to make! Make it a date night dinner or as the main course for New Year’s Eve!
This kit will start shipping from our farm on Monday November 28: boonvillebarn.com
ELEANOR COONEY: This is a call for help for the widow of my dear friend and erstwhile coauthor Daniel Altieri. He and I wrote three internationally bestselling novels set in T’ang China back in the late 80s and early 90s.
A little over two years ago, on September 10, 2020, Dan died, four months after radical emergency open-heart surgery. He had struggled to recover, and his wife put every ounce of her strength and will into caring for him. Alas, he went from believing he’d made it and was on the road to full health to knowing his days were down to just a few. He’d been flown by helicopter from his home in northern California to a hospital in San Francisco, where they at first thought they could perform another surgery on him and implant an L-VAD (Left Ventricular Assistance Device). But he went into kidney failure shortly after he arrived, and they deemed him too frail to undergo the procedure. He died a couple of days later. He was 74, had always been athletic and healthy, an exerciser and a non-smoker, and came from long-lived stock. His death was a shock and a tragedy, to me and to his widow.
The writer’s life can be fickle. Despite the great success of the China novels, that was a while ago, and Dan was pretty much destitute when he died. His widow gets his extremely modest Social Security benefits. She struggles to pay her rent, eat and just survive. She wants very much to work, but doesn’t drive, due to vision problems, and their home is in a rural place with no real public transportation.
Here's what your donation will be used for: To help her pay her rent, and if possible, get much-deferred and acutely needed dental work, for her health and so that she can get a job. She also wants to honor Dan’s writing and get to a point where she can organize his unpublished work and perhaps even publish some of it posthumously. She has a strong social conscience, and wants to be of service to humanity in these troubled times. Any amount would help. Every cent will go to Dan's widow, and you will have my great gratitude.
You can learn more about Dan and his work here: www.courtofthelion.com
WILLIAMS = MORE OF THE SAME
The Mendocino County water agency was dissolved not just as a cost-cutting measure. The Supervisors did not like what they were hearing from hydrologist(s) at the Water Agency. The Supervisors were told, and ignored, that water resources need to be protected from overuse and pollution. You need to protect and conserve as opposed to developing tens of thousands of acres of vineyards and other abuses of ground and surface waters.
Now the Supervisors are trying to bail themselves out of deteriorating conditions with expensive plans (paid for with your taxes) in areas of the county that will not serve the south coast at all. There is nothing in their priorities or approach that helps with water issues on the south coast.
New rainfall patterns will compel many South Coast residents on wells to find ways to capture and store water (from roof runoff or other means) in tanks. Or truck water in -- expensive!
Continued support of Ted Williams will only lead to more of the same: lack of support for the Mendocino South Coast.
Alan Levine for Coast Action Group
Santa Rosa (formerly of Gualala)
* * *
Mark Scaramella adds: There is no mention of conservation in the County’s water plans or priorities. And except for Supervisor McGourty’s idea of flooding parts of Ukiah Valley in the winter to recharge the Ukiah Valley aquifer, there’s nothing to address supply in the entire County, including the South Coast.
THE LOST COAST TRAILHEAD at Black Sands Beach in Shelter Cove.
“From Highway 1 north of Fort Bragg, I take a left turn to the off-road trail up Usal Road, stopping at the hardly known Usal Road Candelabra trees. There is no sign for them, despite being 500 feet from the road, you just park by the wooden bridge and take the trail at Usal Campground (they are AMAZING, and the only place in the U.S.A. where they grow, supposedly). From there, I go to Shelter Cove, spend the night, and do the Petrolia/Honeydew drive, and the one stretch along the coast is AMAZING, going into the town of Ferndale, which is like a movie set of a town and just like an old Victorian town. It is a really special area.”
BOONVILLE QUIZ THIS THURSDAY. Yes it’s the third Thursday (November 17) and that means the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz is all set to go this week at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn in downtown Boonville. Kick-off at 7pm. Note: In December we will be having two Quizzes as always but, instead of the first and third Thursday, they will be on the 3rd and 5th Thursdays: December 15th and 29th, which will be a Special Xmas and New Years’ event. Hope to see you on some of these occasions. Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quizmaster
MENDOCINO-LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AUTOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM IS THE GREATEST
I first became acquainted with Auto Shop Programs back in 1954-55, when I began my first teaching job as the Auto Instructor at Junipero Sera High School in Compton, CA. Although I had just graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Research Biology, I had worked as an auto mechanic to pay my way through college. When I saw the ad in the Los Angeles Times for an Auto Shop teacher, I thought this would be a great job to get me started and be able to support my young family.
Knowing I had no teaching experience, I went over to El Camino Community College to see the Auto Shop instructor and ask if I could sit in and help in his class in the evenings to gain some experience on how to teach. He was willing and most helpful.
Teaching that year to 25 high school seniors was one of the most rewarding experiences in my teaching career. I placed many of them in jobs while they were still in school and, after they graduated, helping them get started in the working world. It also started me off on a new career in teaching and eventually becoming a principal and assistant superintendent of schools in charge of the ROP program in Mendocino County.
I have continued to work on cars all my life, and still do in my retirement years. Last February (2022), I started working on my 1965 Mustang again, hoping to make it run better. A friend told me about a fuel injection system made by Holley for a straight 6 Mustang which is what I have. Looking into this, and talking to parts dealers and Ford dealers, the consensus was: “won’t work, too much trouble, too expensive, and you won’t make it”. This only made me more inquisitive and interested. I called the Holley factory and talked to them. They assured me that it does work and is being used on many cars. They gave me phone numbers of several shops installing the Holley fuel injection system in older automobiles. Their response was that they stopped installing them because it was too much work. When I called the factory again, they assured me it would work in my Mustang and they would help me, and to call tech support. I went ahead and ordered the parts, which were on back order for several months due to the pandemic. I began work on installing it little by little as the parts came in. After months of working on it, I was ready to give up. Following one of my Trustee Board meetings, I stopped by the auto shop at the college to get their opinion on what to do. The instructor, Michael Pratt said, “Ed it will work”, and offered to come by my house to take a look at what I had done. He offered for me to bring it into the shop at the college and they would take a look at it. With a little help from my wife, we had it loaded onto our car trailer, and I delivered it to the shop. Later that afternoon when I returned, they had it running. It was idling too fast, and they recommended a new high-tech distributer for it. I brought it back the next week, they installed the new distributor and it ran like a dream! It tops out at 80, and gets 22.8 mpg.
The instructors and students at Mendocino College Automotive Technology Program are the best! I would recommend any student interested in the auto industry to take these classes. The instructors are tops, the facilities and equipment are superb, and their job placement and connection with the business community in Mendocino County is excellent! The students couldn’t find a better program in the automobile industry.
Ed Nickerman, Trustee, Mendocino-Lake Community College
MARY PAT PALMER: The Alembic Copper still in which I make Hydrosols. Years ago I wrote an article, The Alchemical Allure of Herbology, that was published in the American Herbalist Guild newsletter. Here is a link to that article: https://herbalenergetics.com/writing-2
WEAVING TIME, WEAVING TULE:
Basket artists panelists explain how they preserve and renew Native culture
by Roberta Werdinger
On Saturday, Nov. 19, from 1 to 2 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum presents a panel discussion featuring four basket artists--Silver Galleto (Cloverdale Rancheria), Robin Meely (Graton Rancheria), Martina Morgan (Stewarts Point Rancheria), and Corine Pearce (Redwood Valley Rancheria). All four artists are featured in the Museum's current exhibition, /Gathering Time: Pomo Art During the Pandemic, /which includes 15 contemporary artists representing 10 Pomo tribal groups whose artwork reflects on the heartbreak of COVID and the cultural traditions that sustained them during lockdown.
For basket artist Robin Meely, creating baskets is a means of therapy, of stewardship to the land, and of creating bonds to her family and community, stretching into the past and future equally. Since basketweaving along with other Native practices fell away over the generations, it is a means of reclaiming "that culture that we lost to assimilation." For Meely, that process of reclamation is still in its early stages: "I feel that I am just scratching the surface," she notes.
Raised in Yosemite Valley, Meely began learning the art of basketmaking at age eight or nine, from her aunt, Julia Parker. Other teachers--including Silver Galleto, Corine Pearce, Martina Morgan, and Meyo Marrufo--helped her to develop and deepen her art. In her teenage years, she was taught "how to bead, to sew, how to use my hands." Of mixed Native heritage that includes Coast Miwok, she participated in "powwow style" cultural events, where an assortment of tribes met, until she was told "You have to go home to your people." Relocating to Santa Rosa, Meely became involved with the Graton Rancheria, a federally recognized tribe of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Indians. It was "one of the best things I have ever done," according to Meely, who was introduced to the plethora of plants that grow in the area-- gray willow and green willow, redbud, sedge, bulrush, and tule. Harvesting a plant is a process of exchange between two living entities; the basket-maker will offer a song, a prayer, even a strand of their hair in exchange.
Meely started working for the Graton Rancheria, which helped her in the often tricky process of accessing privately- or government-owned land from which to gather material. Then the pandemic hit. Fortunately Meely found a Facebook group called the Pomo Weavers Society, started by fellow panelist Silver Galleto. Through this technological connection, the artists were able to strengthen their bonds and continue their traditional practices, even more important during a time of illness and isolation. They also are engaged in the all-important work of passing their skills on to their children. Meely snapped a photo of her teenage daughter, Telele, while they were on their way back from a class in which Telele was weaving a cradle. Telele "holds that basket like holding a baby," Meely approvingly notes.
"It's very important to our culture to pass it down to the next generation," she continues. "The plants need us; the animals need us. Creator sent people to the earth so that they could tend the land. No matter where you come from in the world, you have a responsibility to take care of it."
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The panel is free with Museumadmission: $5 general; $12 per family; $4 for students and seniors; and always free to members, to Native Americans, and to standing military personnel. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org <http://www.gracehudsonmuseum.org/>or call (707) 467-2836.
All of the public programs tied to the /Gathering Time/ exhibition have been made possible by a generous grant from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit *www.calhum.org* Community Thanksgiving Dinner (reserve a free meal, volunteer, or donate)
WELL ORDINANCE STILL STUCK; BIG OIL FLEECING STILL UN-STUCK
by Jim Shields
Commercial Water Well Ordinance Update
Last week I told you about a draft ordinance that would regulate private sector groundwater wells whose owners sell, or plan to sell water commercially, as well as individuals or entities that transport water from these commercial groundwater wells to customers.
I explained that from September 2021 through July 2022, I served, along with approximately six other appointees, on a committee working under the auspices of the Board of Supervisors Ad Hoc Drought Committee comprised of John Haschak and Glenn McGourty.
It should be noted that the impetus for developing this ordinance occurred last year (2021) during extreme drought conditions when the local cannabis industry was in a record state of over-production, coupled also with record usage of both legal and illegal sources of water, some of which is transported by water trucks.
We all remember the public outcry surrounding those issues.
At the July 12, 2022 BOS meeting, the Board voted 4-1 to approve the draft ordinance prepared by the committee, and forward it to the Planning Commission for further review.
We discovered that the draft ordinance has been in the office of County Counsel Christian Curtis since last summer and is estimated to be forwarded to the Planning Commission in February of 2023.
I said that I found this turn of events to be surprising as well as unacceptable.
This County just renewed its declaration of a local emergency due to drought conditions and imminent threat of disaster in Mendocino County. Yet it appears that in instances such as this critical matter, there doesn’t seem to be any corresponding sense of urgency to get something done that is of the highest priority.
I asked Supes Haschak and McGourty to help in breaking the logjam at the County Counsel’s office so that the draft ordinance can be expeditiously forwarded to the Planning Commission, as was the intent, I believe, of the Board’s action at the July 12th meeting.
At this week’s BOS meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8, Haschak asked County Counsel Curtis what was the hold up with the draft ordinance.
Curtis tersely replied, “At this point, I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done to move it along. It is something that is going to require additional analysis before we go to the Planning Commission.”
That’s all he said.
No illumination of why there’s nothing “that can be done to move it along.”
No explanation or details on exactly what “additional analysis” is required “before we go to the Planning Commission.”
This is what is known as a non-response response.
“…I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done to move it along …”
The damn draft ordinance is sitting on his desk. If it was a snake, it would have fanged him by now.
We have received quite a few comments on this fiasco. Here’s a sampling:
“Jim, I have a couple questions. First, is it SOP for draft ordinances to go to COCO for review BEFORE the PC takes a stab at it? I would think rather that the ‘final’ version, after PC weighs in on it, would be something COCO looks over just to make sure it is ‘kosher.’ Maybe it's just me, but it seems like COCO is being used as an excuse to either delay (or possibly sabotage?) certain legislation or regulations that ‘unknown person(s)’ in a position of influence dislike. Approving the ordinance in July, and then maybe it goes to the PC after February? Which begs the second question: who makes these calls? Is there is some sort of ‘shadow’ government of county personnel in a position to thwart the intentions of the BOS as they see fit? And who, or what governmental position, might that be? One thing we know for certain - it's not Carmel anymore (as she has often been accused of).
As you're probably aware, holdup by COCO was a huge factor in the delay of grant awards to equity cannabis farmers. That appears to have been resolved after many months of delay and concomitant frustration. Is it, perhaps, merely a situation where County Counsel simply is suffering from the lack of manpower as, apparently, does the entire county government apparatus?” — Charles
“Hi Jim, Just watched the latest BOS meeting on water. What a debacle—they didn’t even know what Howard [Dashiell, MDOT Director, where Water Agency currently resides] had laid out and that they approved. Do your homework. Haschak seems the only one with a minimal grasp. I am concerned that tomorrow they will ignore/put off/shelve the Fish and Game Commission’s cogent request. Riparian protection is crucial for aquifer recharge, both slowing down steams and prolonging stream flow. Also reduction of impervious surfaces—e.g., parking lots that allow infiltration like Mendocino Hotel. These actions are totally within their power, their premier power over land use. Delay simply means more incremental destruction.—Anonymous
“I often wonder why the County even has a very well paid County Counsel office when we appear to hire very expensive outside counsel for everything. If we did away with it, maybe all employees could get their COLA.” —Anonymous
“Maybe if the BOS approves another exorbitant and undeserved pay raise to the County Counsel it would speed up the process. Or not.” —Stephen Rosenthal
These comments all come from some very bright people whose insights are impeccable. They don’t need any help from me trying to explain what the hell is going on. They got it all figured out.
For the past 10 days we’ve been experiencing a cold, low pressure weather system dominating the Northcoast area, resulting in scattered showers, periods of heavy rains, mountain snow and breezy, sometimes gusty winds.
In the past week in the greater Laytonville area, where approximately 3,500 people live, we received 1.99 inches of rain, raising our season total to 4.85 inches. The historical average for this time in November is 8.93 inches. November is the first of five consecutive months of double-digit precipitation numbers that average a little over 10 inches. Again historically, annual rainfall is approximately 67 inches. Our rain year runs from July 1st to June 30th.
My newspaper, the Mendocino County Observer, is an official National Weather Service station. Over the years, our weather records have been subpoenaed in court cases, used for Dept. of Environmental Health “wet winter” septic system tests, as well as by various individuals and companies for countless purposes.
I qualify, at best, as an amateur weather forecaster but I have a pretty good record with roughly 90 percent of my mid-to-long range forecasts being accurate. I normally make my initial forecast at the end of August, and then update it several times over the winter.
This August my prediction was essentially identical to last year’s because it’s clear we’re now seeing our third consecutive La Niña event, a rather rare occurrence seen only twice since 1950. A majority of meteorologists say it’s highly probable (about 75 percent) that La Niña will remain with us the entire winter.
I develop my forecast by collecting professional meteorologist’s predictions and data, and then refining that information with my local records, creating a hybrid data base I then mix, match, and contrast synthesizing it into a forecast.
Yes, there’s definitely some guessing — educated I like to think — involved in this process, but it mostly works to a fairly high degree.
La Niña is known for splitting the West Coast in half, with below the dividing line bringing dry conditions to the southern half and a wetter winter to the northern half. I’ve noted that Mendocino County historically serves as a cusp dividing wet weather events, whether they be driven by La Niña, El Niño, or “normal” winter storm events.
Anyway, I’m once again forecasting that Mendocino County will closely replicate last year’s weather patterns and precipitation totals when we rebounded from the previous year’s record-setting lows in rainfall. Most areas saw precipitation that equaled about two/thirds of historical averages.
For example, in the Laytonville area in 2020-21, year one of La Niña, only 29.41 in. of rain fell, a record low.
In the second La Niña year, 2021-22, rain gauges filled with 47.25 inches, approximately 70 percent of our historical normal of 67 inches.
So I’m fairly confident that we’ll undergo another good rain year.
Now when it comes to winter temperatures, most experts — everybody from the National Weather Service to the Weather Channel — believe it’s going to be warmer-than-average everywhere in the state, though Southern California has a slightly higher chance of a hot winter than Northern California does.
One last thought: New research suggests recurring La Niña years are growing more common due to climate change.
I’ll leave it at that.
Big Oil Continues to Fleece Californians
Consumer Watchdog, California’s premier citizens advocate organization, reports that California’s five big oil refiner third quarter profits reports show that four of the five together posted 30% higher profits per gallon from gasoline sold on the West Coast than anywhere else in the nation or world. Chevron does not report profits per gallon on a quarterly basis but will have to monthly under a new transparency law that kicks in in January.
The four big oil refiners who reported their West Coast profits — Marathon, PBF, Valero and Phillips 66 — together posted an average 73 cents per gallon profit in the 3rd quarter in the West. California oil refiners have only exceeded the 50 cent per gallon mark three times in the last twenty years. Capping windfall profits at 50 cents, the four refiners would owe Californians a rebate of $1.8 billion for their windfall profits this year, according to Consumer Watchdog’s calculation.
“These profit reports show exactly why Californians need a windfall profits cap,” said Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court. ”Oil refiners are taking advantage of Californians by making 30% more profit in the Golden State. The proof of the Golden State Gouge is in the profit reports and it’s time for the legislature to answer Governor Newsom’s call for a price gouging rebate.”
Marathon Petroleum, the last of the five big California refiners to report quarterly earnings, posted net profits of $4.5 billion, more than six times the profit of $694 million for the same quarter a year ago. Marathon made 85 cents per gallon in profits at West Coast pumps in the third quarter, the highest among its three regions. Marathon made $257 million in windfall profits for the quarter.
“That money should go back to drivers in a rebate,” said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker.
A new state law, SB 1322, will require oil refiners to post their profits per gallon from refining monthly beginning in January. This will give California the basis to monitor for price gouging in real time and, if a price gouging rebate is enacted, to give the excess profits back to drivers. Governor Newsom has called a special legislative session in December to consider a windfall profits cap and price gouging rebate for California consumers.
Oil companies report gross refining margins reflecting the difference between the cost of crude oil bought and the price of petroleum products produced and sold by the refiner. From there, Consumer Watchdog calculates cents per gallon profits by dividing the gross refining margins on a barrel of crude by 42—the number of gallons in a barrel. Marathon operates refineries in California, Washington State and Alaska.
Marathon doubled third quarter refining margins over the same quarter last year. It reported refining margins of $35.83 for the West Coast, up from $15.56 cents last year. For the Gulf Coast, the company reported $27.39, up from $13.03 last quarter. Marathon reported $31.04 for the Mid-Continent region, up from $15.44 for the third quarter last year.
Over time, refineries in California have shut down refineries and started converting others to making renewable diesel and other fuels.
Marathon is completing the conversion of its Martinez refinery (now idle) to produce 730 million gallons of renewable fuel per year by the end of 2023. That comes to two million gallons a day. According to the California Energy Commission, the facility has a refining capacity of 166,000 barrels of crude per day. At 42 gallons in a barrel that converts to a capacity of nearly 7 million gallons of gasoline a day that could have been produced.
“That will restrict the market and help drive gas prices at the pump up,” said Tucker. “It is the same story with Phillips 66. They are converting their Rodeo refinery to produce 800 million gallons a year of renewable diesel, renewable gasoline, and sustainable jet fuel beginning in 2024.” With a capacity of 78,400 barrels per day, the refinery could have produced 3.3 million gallons of fuel a day that will be lost to the market.
Where’s state Attorney General Rob Bonta on all this?
California has anti-gouging laws and there’s certainly prima facia evidence that folks — especially workers and the middle class —are getting the royal screw from Big Oil.
Here’s this week’s Farm Bureau news.
Virus Ravages Lettuce In Salinas Valley
A virus spread by insects is causing widespread damage to lettuce crops in the Salinas Valley. The impatiens necrotic spot virus, or INSV, is spread by thrips, tiny insects that reproduce rapidly and feast on vegetable crops. Salinas Valley produces more than one-half of America’s lettuce, and farmers in the region are predicting big financial losses from INSV this year. They say they expect the crop loss to be worse than in 2020, when the bug-spread virus cost growers an estimated $100 million in lost revenue.
Dairies Harnessing “Cow Power” For Fuels Production
The Golden State has become a leader in harnessing “cow power” to produce renewable fuels and other clean energy. Currently, more than 100 methane digesters are operating in California, and more than 100 others are in various stages of development. Although dairy digesters have been around for decades, their numbers have exploded in recent years, thanks to state funding aimed at helping dairy farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under Senate Bill 1383, the sector must produce 40% less methane than in 2013.
Ongoing Drought Challenges Efforts To Protect Groundwater Supplies
California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local agencies to balance aquifer supplies in different state basins by 2040 and 2042. But some farmers say severe drought and ongoing economic challenges are making that more difficult. Farmers are facing severe cutbacks in surface water supplies and rising costs of agricultural production. As California is in the process of reviewing plans to protect groundwater supplies, some farmers fear the solution is to remove more farmland from production.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
END OVERDOSE (endoverdose.net)
This new non-profit provides trainings to inform participating students about Good Samaritan laws and policies, signs and symptoms of potential drug overdoses, and the proper use and administration of Narcan and fentanyl testing strips.
FENTANYL AWARENESS VIDEO
The California Department of Public Health has also issued a “standing order” for providing naloxone, which community groups can apply to use, rather than having to turn to a healthcare provider. And its Department of Health Care Services launched its project to provide the medication for free to eligible groups.
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: Measure P results are looking strong after the initial election night tallies. I want to thank everyone that reached out to ask questions about how the tax would be used and why we needed it and voted yes. The results also clearly show me that we are going to need strong voices to make sure that the dollars are spent as indicated in the BOS Unanimous vote. When the voters trust us to make decisions based on a need it’s imparitive that we follow through with that. Thank you for your support and if you had a Measure P Sign in your yard you can recycle it in your blue bin. I will post the final results when the election is closed.
Todd Lyly: The BOS and CEO are doing such a great job of handling our finances, what could possibly go wrong with more money.
Mulheren: Did you have a question about the budget that I can answer Todd? Did you see my posts about Measure P and how those funds will be used? I’m happy to provide some clarity if you are interested.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, November 15, 2022
DEEANN MARTIN, Point Arena. Domestic battery.
JEREMIAH MCOSKER, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun. (Frequent flyer.)
JESUS MONTES-DEOCA, Ukiah. Vandalism, probation revocation.
KEVIN TOBIE, Vallejo/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent.
BILL KIMBERLIN: Took the SMART train from Larkspur Landing to Santa Rosa Railroad Square. Lots of fun seeing stuff you can't see from the highway. It will be all electric when finished and will go to Ukiah and beyond when all the Biden Billions kick in next year. Lots of knockers in Boonville and elsewhere but they don't have their facts straight. Yes, it is currently a six gear diesel engine but that was only to get it going more quickly. Absolutely smooth, stress free ride. We had a ball and this was our second trip. You can now go from the Ferry Building in San Francisco by ferry on a world class ride and then to Marin, and by train to Santa Rosa.
IF ONLY THE TREES COULD TALK: The Cold Case Of A Missing Honeydew Woman And Her Children
by Kym Kemp
(Cold cases grow cold because their stories stop being told. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office published an interactive map and timeline last year with over sixty missing and murdered people whose cases remain unsolved. We have taken on the task of writing about each and every one of those cases, to keep their stories alive and hopefully find justice for the victims and families. Remember, as Jean Racine, the French playwright once said, “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”)
When we think of people vanishing, our brains frequently impose the oft used cinematic effect of images shifting to mist. Unfortunately, the peaceful, albeit haunting imagery of the vanishing is not reality. When people go missing, in the best-case scenarios, they walk away of their own volition, two solid, earthly feet making the decision to leave everything and everyone behind–with family and friends left with only memories and questions.
Sometimes, the missing person is deceased, their passing unmarked by witnesses or evidence, their loved ones left to wonder and hope. At times, the only witness to a death may be persons that have every reason to keep their passing buried deep within; the truth as damning to their freedom as it would be liberating to those left with agonizing questions.
Mary Elizabeth Stuart, and her two daughters, Jessie Flo, and Fannie Fawn, vanished from Honeydew, a remote community in northern California, nearly 45 years ago. Despite speculation and countless hours of searching and investigation, no solid leads have emerged.
Mary lived with her husband Bryon, 29, in the rural community west of Highway 101 with their two daughters, Jessie Flo and Fannie Fawn, reddish-blonde haired toddlers just a year apart.
On December 10th, 1977, Mary packed up the girls and their car with their television set in need of repair and headed toward Fortuna and Eureka for a day of errands including laundry, grocery shopping and maybe even a stop at the optometrist’s office. Mary was reported to have $200 in cash on her when she left. Often, people that live remotely will take a single day to run errands, stocking up on supplies before heading back into the remote hills where weather, distance and convenience prevents them from making the trek more often.
Mary, Jessie and Fannie were said to have left the family’s home around 10 a.m., Bryon expecting to see them before nightfall which comes early in the late-fall season.
Three days later the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office in Eureka was notified that Mary and her girls were missing. The call did not come from a worried husband, but rather, one of Mary’s concerned friends.
While it was strange that Byron was not the one to report his family missing, investigators had no evidence that anything untoward had happened to Mary and the girls. According to a Times Standard article on December 20, 1977, Lieutenant Roy Simmons, head of the HCSO detective division, stated that of the hospitals, tv repair, and optometrists that were interviewed, no one had any recollection of Mary visiting their establishments.
With no leads or sightings, investigators had to consider the possibility that Mary had left of her own volition. The same December 20 Times Standard article titled ‘No sign of foul play found in case of Honeydew woman’ quoted Lt. Simmons as saying, “It could be that she just made up her mind to go someplace else and didn’t want to be found. It happens sometimes.”
As small communities do, one can imagine the gossip and speculation that occurred in the weeks that followed Mary’s disappearance. Surely adding to the speculation was Byron’s reputation for a quick temper.
Christmas came and went with no sign of Mary and the girls.
Three weeks after his family’s disappearance Byron was behind bars for attempted murder. The charge was not in connection to Mary, Jessie Flo or Fannie Fawn, but instead a New Year’s Eve night of revelry that ended with a barroom brawl that law enforcement responded to. After being thrown out of the Hideaway bar, Byron retreated to a nearby residence. When a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy, Dennis Dinsmore arrived, Byron allegedly fired at the deputy with a rifle. Neither Dinsmore nor his patrol vehicle were struck.
Perhaps the incident allows for insight into a man upset that his wife had left him, taking his two daughters in tow. Or perhaps Byron’s actions the night of January 1st gave insight into his potential capability of harming another. At the time of his arrest, his wife and children’s disappearance were mentioned stating Simmon’s earlier statements that no sign of foul play was found, and that Mary could have decided to leave the area without telling anyone.
The attempted murder charge against Byron was dropped in March when a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to go to trial.
Prior to the charges being dropped, the investigation into his family’s disappearance took on a different tone when Mary’s red, 1969 Opel station wagon was found by a timber surveyor on an unused logging road about one mile from her home on January 17, 1978, thirty-eight days after their disappearance. Investigators searched the vehicle for any sign of foul play, but none was found.
Inside the vehicle, Mary’s purse, money and belongings remained, along with the groceries she had went to town for, the laundry and a repaired tv indicating the 32-year-old had carried out her day as she had planned contrary to no one stating they had seen the missing woman at the time of her disappearance.
The car was found to have a broken fuel line leading to the theory that the Mary and her girls had found themselves stranded on their trip home. Search parties including the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, Marine Posse, and the Humboldt County Four-Wheel Drive Search and Rescue Team were unable to locate the missing trio. Hampered by weather, searches were often delayed but law enforcement continued to search, bringing in bloodhound dogs from Sonoma County to no avail.
It is possible that Mary’s car broke down as she made her way home late in the evening, deciding to walk the short distance home with Jessie Flo and Fannie Fawn, only to find herself turned around in the unforgiving terrain; lost to the elements, their bodies obscured by the rugged terrain.
Yet questions surround their disappearance; particularly about the location of Mary’s red Opel station wagon found 1.5 miles from the main road. On January 19, 1978, a Times Standard article stated the unused logging road would have eventually led to the Stuart residence, perhaps Mary was taking an alternate route when the car broke down. However, if that was a road used to access the home, why had no one searched it when the family first went missing? If it wasn’t a usual route, why would Mary have driven the road at all? Did Byron have anything to do with his family’s disappearance?
If Byron did have anything to do with the disappearance of his family, he took those secrets with him to the grave when he died in 1996 at the age of 48, five years after an AIDS diagnosis in 1991.
In 2009 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case of Mary, Jessie Flo, and Fannie Fawn’s disappearance. At that time, it was reported that investigators interviewed people that had not spoken to law enforcement during the initial investigation leading them to believe that Mary and her girls were the victims of murder.
A 2018 article by the North Coast Journal stated, “A neighbor, Joe Paff, told the Journal that in the week after the disappearance of his family, Stuart was behaving erratically, using drugs and saying that Mary and the children had been taken by aliens.”
Byron continued to have run-ins with the law after his family’s disappearance. On May 17, 1978, six months after his wife and daughters vanished, Bryon was involved in an altercation at a Eureka residence. Charges were filed against the Honeydew resident for assault likely to produce great bodily harm, burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of a narcotic for sale.
The Honeydew man appeared to be making positive strides by year end when he started his own business, ‘Earth Works’.
However, Byron was arrested again in September 1981 and extradited to New York for weapons and possessions charges stemming from that state.
In the years before his death, Byron was respected in his community, an activist for needle exchange programs and a Sonoma County AIDS commissioner. He won a Jeremy Bell Award for his AIDS activism.
Mary, Jessie, and Fannie could have been victims of a troubled man during tumultuous years or Byron’s tumultuous years could have been the result of the disappearance of his wife and young children, or Byron’s own troubled existence could have been completely independent of his family’s disappearance.
Byron was the prime suspect in the disappearance of Mary Elizabeth, Jessie Flo, and Fannie Fawn, though the case remains unsolved, and no charges were ever filed in their disappearance.
We may want to imagine Mary and her daughters could be living elsewhere, now 77, 47 and 46 years old, having lived full lives far from those that seek to discover their whereabouts; picturing Mary masterminding her disappearance, leaving the disabled car along the unused road, tucking her toddlers into an awaiting car, intent on a new life.
That hope is slim, though not impossible; A preferred image rather than the more likely scenario that the remains of Mary Elizabeth and her two daughters lie in an unmarked grave in the remote hills of Northern California, their stories awaiting to be unearthed and secrets unfurled if for no other reason than closure for those that knew and loved them.
Investigation efforts are focused on finding a possible burial site.
Perhaps one day soon, the trees will reveal what happened to Mary Elizabeth and her two young daughters in the remote hills of Honeydew.
(HCSO asks that if anyone has information to share about this case, “please contact our Crime Tip Line at 707-268-2539, submit information using our Online Crime Tip Form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference the case number associated with the case when reporting information.” The case number associated with the disappearance of Mary Elizabeth, Jessie Flo, and Fannie Fawn is 197711201.)
(Courtesy, Redheaded Blackbelt/kymkemp.com)
A VETERANS DAY VISIT
I was planting garlic in my front yard on Veterans Day. I had my American flag flying from the front of my house. It’s a good-size, neighbor-friendly Stars and Stripes. I fly it every national holiday. I love my country. A neighbor came by and thanked me for flying the flag. He told me he was a Vietnam veteran. He was a Marine. He asked me if I was a vet. I said yes and from Vietnam as well. Not a Marine but a “sub marine.” Not sure he heard me. He said he was glad I flew the Stars and Stripes and thanked me. He didn’t like that some people flew flags from other countries with different colors. I told him, “Well, this is America, and we are free to fly any flag we want to fly.” He is hard of hearing and didn’t respond to that. He just thanked me again as I did him.
NEIGHBORS BRING FOOD with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
WHEN I’M 64
by Marco McClean
On my birthday, Nov. 12, 2022, the population of Earth passed 8,000,000,000 people. That's exactly three times as many people as when I was five years old and JFK was assassinated, and beatniks were looking disdainfully down on early hippies who clearly weren't doing it right.
Whoever shot JFK shot JFK with one of the guns that were around then, and there were guns all over the place just like now, but generally, then, if you wanted to get shot you'd have to go somewhere special, like a war or a really bad part of town, or cross the wrong people, to get shot, where now it doesn't matter where you are; they'll shoot you right through the wall from a mile away. And they shoot from windows, like the guy who shot JFK, but they have a whole army's worth of guns in the room with them to do that now, and each one holds dozens of rounds, not any single bolt-action gun and two or three shots and stop.
Riding on a freeway is very similar, now to then, just different shapes of cars, and a different smell; the exhaust of diesel smoke and unburned gasoline was nearly overwhelming and now it's mitigated by better tuning and fuel injections and catalytic converters. Riding in trains, planes, buses, all the same experience as before, except now you have to stand in line for security for hours first, and go through metal detectors and X-ray machines, in case you might have a box cutter or a fingernail clipper or a vial of shampoo; in the old days you'd call the airport, ask when a plane would be going somewhere you wanted to go, go to the airport right then, buy a ticket, give them your bag, and walk up the rolling stairs directly into the airplane. They'd shove everyone's bags in underneath and the plane would take off. Everyone in the plane who wasn't already smoking would light a cigaret.
Everyone smoked cigarets all the time. There were ashtrays and lighters built into every surface and standing like potted plants, including delightful mechanical ashtrays in public buildings that you'd push down the knob on top of, to spin ashes or gum wrappers away down inside a stainless steel urn. Every armrest in cars had an ashtray and an electric cigaret lighter. All men smelled like Brylcreem and/or aftershave too. And all women smelled like cosmetic products; now only about a third of them do.
Music and poetry are pretty much the same, maybe murkier and mostly less engaging, but some, you know, some of it can still blow your skirts up. Teevee shows are better in some ways, not so much in others.
Water fountains and restrooms. Everywhere you went you could get a drink of clean cold water for free and use a toilet somewhere nearby. The coffee was awful, but that might be because I was five. Be honest, it's all still pretty bad unless you put enough milk and sugar and other stuff in it. Chocolate was better. Soda pop is the same. Regular staple foods are all pretty much the same, except, if you get salad anywhere other than make it yourself, they put disgusting bitter kinds of lettucy weeds in it instead of good lettuce. Nobody would have stood for that. Breakfast cereal is all the same. There are more kinds of cheese but none of it is as good as normal cheese.
Clothes are clothes. Tennis shoes are tennis shoes.
Also, as I noted not too long ago, books were a big deal. Every grocery store had an aisle with racks of new books for sale, all kinds, many of them science fiction. for a quarter or fifty cents. Comic books were about a dime, and giant fat newspapers were a dime; the Sunday paper weighed as much as half a sack of potatoes and that was a quarter, which equates to two or three dollars now, so… I was just in the gas station in Covelo a couple of weeks ago, where I noticed that the once mighty daily San Francisco Chronicle costs three dollars now, for a scrawny little sheaf of paper not much bigger than my Memo of the '90s, more the size of newspapers 200 years ago.
Phones were the same, though, 1963 and now, like the cars, just different sizes and shapes. If you needed to call someone, you were never far from a payphone, where you'd put a nickel or a dime in, dial the number, and, hmm, people then, even total strangers in a strange place, would run to where a phone was ringing to pick it up, because it might be important. Now your own phone rings in your pocket and who cares? Just text me. Or you shout at the air to whoever you're talking to. That's actually the same. There've always been people shouting at people and creatures only they could see, praying to them or bitching at them or begging them for information or mercy, or informing them that they'd be there in twenty minutes, they're on the way, as far back as we have records of ancient times.
Eight billion people, and every one of them thinks his flavor of his religion is the right one and all the other ones are wrong. Everyone lucky enough to be born in the right place gets between 1000 and 3000 calories a day, pees four to seven times a day, gets caught up in this or that thing to do and/or care about and eventually finds somebody to love, or not. Also everybody masturbates several times a week, young people much more often, of course. I just read that somewhere.
And now if you get cancer it's likely they can cure you. A dentist who would have just yanked a bad tooth out now can fix it relatively painlessly and make it last another fifteen years. Cataracts blinded everyone; now its a routine fifteen minute procedure and your eyes work again, if you can pay for that.
I do miss the way it was in the 1970s and 1980s, when if you need a car to get to work and back, you could buy a paper (for a dime), look in the classified ads and find a car for like $200 that would carry you around for six months or a year or even more and be plenty good enough, if loud and cold (or hot) and smelly, but I liked that smell. The smell of cars: hot oil vapor, plastic, cigaret ashes and stale beer, maybe hamburger wrapper smell. The exhaust was mostly left behind you. I had a couple of VWs, a station wagon and a bus, where the exhaust somehow got in, and that wasn't good, but that was the exception; it was mostly a problem for other people, and it mixed with air by the time it got to them.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Huh, it turns out the much hyped Rivian EV Truck — which is retailing at $81,000 per unit (basic model) is costing the company $244,000 per unit to manufacture.
It doesn’t pencil out, to say the least. I think within about two years this enormous EV grift (The EV Revolution!) will come crashing down, leaving millions of people carless, bankrupt, unemployed, and disappointed.
One of the promises we’ve been hearing for a few years now is “EVs will be getting cheaper as time goes on.” But just the opposite seems to be happening; prices are increasing as much as $8000 per quarter. For example, the Ford F-150 EV Lightening was initially billed as ‘Everyman’s Electric Truck’ at $40,000 — that was only a few years ago. Now the base models with no accessories carry a pricetag of $92,000. How are buyers financing these vehicles? 30 year mortgages? Long term auto loans payable until death?
WITCH BURNING WILL CONTINUE
Americans who once venerated self-reliance are building a church of conformity, whose chief means of worship is destroying heretics. Elon Musk should tell the priesthood to shove it.
by Matt Taibbi
The parochial snobbery of these people was partly responsible for their failure to convert the Indians… Very few Indians were converted, and the Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil's last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand. To the best of their knowledge the American forest was the last place on earth that was not paying homage to God.— Arthur Miller, The Crucible
We burn witches in America. When heathens won’t convert, when the crop is bad, we still burn the village freethinker.
The Federal Trade Commission last week told The Hill it was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” adding, “no CEO… is above the law,” clearly referring to the company’s despised new owner, billionaire Elon Musk.
Musk is the new bête noire of the American consensus. He is the Negative Current Thing, a role mostly played by Donald Trump since summer 2015, with occasional fill-ins (in no particular order, Vladimir Putin, Tucker Carlson, Novak Djokovic, J.K. Rowling, Jeremy Corbyn, Joe Rogan, Dave Chappelle, whatever they call Kanye West these days, and others have manned the slot). The coverage playbook for these heel-of-the-hour stories is rigid. Certain elements are always present.
Criminal investigations are instigated. Advocacy organizations issue denunciations (some combination of the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU’s Chase Strangio is found in nearly all cases). News organizations demand the person’s muffling. Unions, guilds, and associations threaten walkouts. Even if the villain leans left, he or she begins to be described as “right wing,” a term with little political meaning left, that’s just code for heresy now.
It’s different from cancel culture. Cancelations start with a transgression, or at least an accusation of one. The other story type starts with a broader offense called thinking for yourself, which triggers denouncers to work backward in search of wrongdoing. Musk is the paradigmatic example. He’s achieved round-the-clock denunciation despite total confusion as to his core offense.
It was weird enough last week when Joe Biden said it was “worth looking into” whether Musk is a “national security threat” due to his “cooperations” and “relationships” with other countries, as if it were obvious how either translates to wrongdoing. For those who believe Biden just fumbled a surprise question, the issue had long before been leaked to Bloomberg, which in late October reportedanonymous officials in the “intelligence community” were “weighing what tools, if any,” were available to stop Musk. The leakers not only seemed uncertain of what bureaucratic weaponry they could use on Musk, but what excuse they could put forward. The groping was so clumsy they claimed to be concerned about the presence of “foreign investors,” despite the fact that the previous Twitter regime had been taking money from the same foreigners.
After Biden spoke, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan — fast becoming the Madame DeFarge of the Biden administration — all but rolled his eyes when asked if he could “offer anything about why” Musk might be investigated. “You heard the president,” he chirped, not pausing his mental knitting. Public indifference to the madness of this was astonishing. We’ve had a secret grand jury system for centuries precisely to prevent this situation, i.e. the injustice of a person not charged with a crime having to live under public suspicion. Of course erstwhile progressives being indifferent to important civil liberties concerns has become routine in the Trump era.
Musk is accused of something bad, but what? The New York Times penned a basic indictment on October 26th, “How Elon Musk Became a Geopolitical Chaos Agent,” but the piece read like a parent’s deranged fantasy about the impact of a child’s friend who has a nose ring. The paper mourned Musk’s “influence and ability to cause trouble,” reporting he’s often “waded into situations even after he was advised not to” (again, was this a preschool report card?). They blasted him for “seeming to align himself with the Kremlin” via a peace plan in Ukraine, but were more quiet about Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley proposing something similar. People have complained about everything from Musk mistaking a Chris Farley sketch for a movie to firing a lot of people (including former Homeland Security advisory committee member Vijaya Gadde) to a plan to desecrate the sacred blue check mark inspired moral horror. From The Hill:
He slashed around half the workforce and rolled out a new Twitter Blue program that includes a verification check mark for $8 a month, which has led to widespread concerns over the impersonation of official accounts.
Musk voted for Barack Obama in 2012, Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Joe Biden in 2020, but he’s not being denounced as a dangerous right-wing reactionary and traitor because of his politics. The real problem is he’s a rich industrialist who has mild disagreements with Current Thing speech theology, and enough money to refuse to back down when threatened. This can’t be tolerated. A bigger worry, as Walter Kirn and I discussed, is that Musk could probably explode the Washington blob just by airing all the dirty correspondence from governments, ours included, that sent censorship and surveillance dictates to Twitter over the years.
If he is indeed holding that grenade, he should pull the pin now. He would go down in history as an American hero, remembered as the man who used his billions to buy the unmasking of a corrupt political establishment.
If the U.S. government is seriously going to dig up the corpse of McCarthy to go after Musk on national security grounds because he just voted Republican and once made Jake Sullivan sad at an Aspen Institute conference (this was part of the Times story), Musk should welcome that confrontation. No matter how much faux blue-check outrage gets drummed up, the average person will see this for what it is, an illegitimate effort to seize a private business from one extremely powerful person for the crime of disagreeing with an even more powerful people in government. The math isn’t hard: if the DHS or the NSC can do this to the world’s richest man, they can do it to anyone, making this story into a test case to see what the new censorship regime can get away with.
Twitter long ago became an endless scroll of performative virtue where everyone from Gilbert Gottfried (for joking about the Japanese Tsunami) to academic David Shor (for retweeting a study suggesting nonviolent resistance is effective, during the George Floyd protests) to Chad Shanks could be fired for writing the wrong thing. Who the hell is Chad Shanks? The until-then-unknown manager of the Houston Rockets Twitter account, who in 2015 celebrated his team’s imminent playoff victory over the Dallas Mavericks by posting horse and gun emojis over the message, “Shhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over very soon.”
Tasteless? Absolutely. Worthy of firing? Are you kidding? This is a country whose top-rated sports entertainment is watching obvious steroid users give each other incurable brain trauma in front of half-naked cheerleaders. Its second-rated sport features high-flying gland freaks whose idea of social justice is a silent collective ban on Twitter criticism of Chinese TV partners, to protect the principle of $180 million contracts for Tobias Harris. Most Twitter outrage is just this kind of hypocritical con, in which gangs of high society scolds pile on to reed-thin slights by this or that nobody to give cover to society’s larger moral obscenities.
Twitter in other words is the social media version of the 19th-century Russian aristocrats who by day deflowered servant girls and by night hissed at Anna and Vronsky for trying to see an opera while living in sin.
Musk may be from South Africa, but his reaction was perfectly in the national spirit. Most Americans are born with a profound dislike of snobs and toffs and dream of having enough money to drop a solid gold dump through the hull of the boss’s yacht. Maybe Musk bought Twitter for selfish reasons, maybe he did it because a bot annoyed him once, or maybe the story is true that he did it on impulse after the platform in another amazing display of humorlessness suspended the Babylon Bee. Whatever happened, doing the opposite of what you’re told is this country’s foundational story. That instinct is in our DNA, and it should be.
The Hitler-of-the-month treatment is being rolled out mainly to protect panicked shibboleths about unsupervised discourse. The upper class fantasy now is absent strictest policing, all platforms will become, as the ADL put it, “hotbeds of radicalism and hate.” This is what drove teary ex-New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz to squat in a Clubhouse room with entrepreneur Marc Andreesson last year, so she could catch him saying the word “retarded” (“just openly using the r-slur” was her gasp-like construction). Today it’s the “r-slur,” tomorrow the eighth Reich: this is how elite America thinks.
It’s also exactly what Arthur Miller warned about in The Crucible, when he talked about the Puritans’ terror of what lay beyond the trees. The natives’ refusal to convert could mean only that the “virgin forest” was the “Devil’s last preserve,” an endless wickedness. All the lowest moments in our history are marked by Salem-like panics in which torch-bearing moralists rooted out heretics, from the Alien and Sedition Acts to the immigrant hunts after the 1886 Haymarket bombing (the Chicago Times calling for whipping “these Slavic wolves back to the European dens from which they issue”) to the Palmer raids to Japanese internment to the Red Scare, and so on.
There’s a scene in The Crucible in which John Proctor, the protagonist farmer who sees through the farce of the trials, confronts Reverend Parris, the busybody who leads the purge, and John Putnam, another of the accusers. Parris invokes the fear of hell for about the fiftieth time and Proctor loses it, saying, “Can we speak for one minute without we land in hell again?” This sends Parris over the edge, reminding Proctor they’re not Quakers, i.e. they’re not decadent heathens who allow non-hierarchical worship:
Parris, in a fury: What, are we Quakers? We are not Quakers here yet, Mr. Proctor. And you may tell that to your followers!
Proctor: My followers!
Parris—now he’s out with it: There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party.
Proctor: Against you?
Putnam: Against him and all authority!
Proctor: Why, then I must find it and join it.
This is the same pattern of the last six or seven years of American politics. When you invent deranged fantasies about treasonous factions, you mostly end up creating them. Does anyone seriously think Tulsi Gabbard was a “Russian asset”? No, but she’s sure as hell not a loyal Democrat anymore. There’s a finite number of times you can throw people out of the village gates. Eventually you get a neighboring town packed with seething exiles.
Watch Miller’s own explanation below. When there was “internal decay” inside the Salem community, even though this was due to a lot of different causes, “they began seizing on the idea that this was all being stirred up by secret forces.” The problems couldn’t be the town’s fault, because its leaders were so obviously faultless and “devoted to God and righteousness.” Thus the hunt for the external threat begins, and that process only ends one way. Sound familiar?
America in calmer moments revered free-thinkers. Thoreau and Frost didn’t fear the woods and found self-reliance there. Emerson wrote about the danger of failing to question the ideas of others. “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide,” he said, adding, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Fealty to that “iron string” is what historically made Americans a strong people with incredible instincts for invention and creativity, but in the panic of the Trump era we’re being told to collapse our sense of self, because “freethinking” is just a synonym for bigotry. The next Twain or Prince isn’t hiding in our individual personalities, just masses of neurons dying to say “retarded” out loud.
As Jeet Heer put it years ago in the once-readable New Republic, people who claim to be freethinkers are mostly “just ignorant right-wing trolls.” He cited Kanye West, whose then-wife Kim Kardashian pulled the Oh I’m sorry, I thought this was America routine in response to some dumb thing he said and tweeted, “He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed?” Heer, who would surely call me a right-winger for saying conformity is bad or free speech is good, was arguing with a straight face that because someone like Kanye West claims to be a free thinker, people who claim to be free thinkers are basically all Kanye West. It’s an un-ironic take on Woody Allen’s slapstick syllogism: “Socrates is a man; all men are mortal; therefore, all men are Socrates.”
This new breed of intellectual imagines there can be such a thing as creativity or genius without the freedom to make mistakes. Such thinking is what the writer Isaac Babel was bravely lampooning when he spoke at a Soviet Writers’ Congress in 1934, saying Stalin had taken away but one right, “the right to write badly.” (With time to think, Stalin eventually had Babel shot for his insolence). As one stand-up comic I know puts it, “If you can’t fuck up, can’t cross lines, you can’t be funny.”
The censors know this, but they figure art, music, literature, and comedy are acceptable casualties in the war against “fascists,” by which they increasingly mean anyone who disagrees. This is why they’re suddenly willing to embrace ideas that would have been unthinkable in The New Republic even ten years ago, like welcoming government-directed speech standards on Twitter. “Censorship cartels crave a monopoly,” is how First Amendment Attorney Sarah Rogers puts it. “Like other monopolists, they’ll capture and collude with the state, if they can, to maintain their grip.”
If you think the occasional offensive tweet is scarier than the government being able to seize any business on arbitrary national security grounds, you’ve been online too long. Donald Trump makes it difficult-to-impossible to speak out when politicians and journalists break rules to oppose him. But Elon Musk, national security threat? That really is a witch hunt. It’s as absurd as calling someone like Russell Brand right-wing because he’s insufficiently exorcised at the existence of people who think differently. The Musk version of a radical idea is allowing “all legal speech.” If that turns out to be enough to trigger a successful national security review, what chance does someone without $200 billion have?
THE PERILS OF BEING A FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT DURING ELECTION-TIME
by Patrick Cockburn
Appointment as a foreign correspondent in Washington is considered a plum job among journalists, but it is a tougher assignment than it sounds. The work is hard because the main product of Washington is news, which may be true, untrue or irrelevant, but still has to be reported and at speed.
I was thinking sympathetically about these pressures on my colleagues in Washington this week as they had to give definitive opinions about the outcome of the midterm elections while the most important races were still in the balance.
I used to get some silent amusement when I was in Washington as a correspondent on hearing distinguished incoming colleagues from Europe tell me grandly how their editor back home had told them to avoid getting bogged down by day-to-day news coverage and take a longer view about what was going on in America. But Washington does not do “long term”, and I suspected that within weeks my friend would most likely be calling me up to cancel our lunch at the last minute because his or her editors were demanding a quick 1,000 words on the latest twist in the Monica Lewinsky affair or some other Washington melodrama.
Another mild irritation for your foreign correspondent in Washington is that politically engaged people back home in Europe are usually convinced that they know far more about American politics than is in fact the case. It is always far more complicated and multi-faceted in that vast country than they imagine, with important trends pointing confusingly in all directions. Yet second guessing of the reporter on the spot is habitual and unconventional views on what is really happening are regarded with some suspicion.
I had a happier time in Washington than most because I was working for The Independent with my late friend Rupert Cornwell. We would take turns to spend alternate weeks in the capital, with one of us covering the run-of-the-mill news, while the other roamed the country looking for stories. They were not hard to find. Before travelling, I would scan local state papers and invariably discover astonishing news that had somehow failed to enter the national news agenda.
Why for instance had a senior judge in Rhode Island been a pall bearer at the funeral of a mafia boss for New England? Why indeed did the mafia in New England had their headquarters in Rhode Island rather than Boston? And why was Rhode Island rated at that time as the most corrupt state in the US aside from Louisiana?
I visited the Civil War battlefields in northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley because they are nearby, interesting in themselves, and the bloodiest battles took place in some of the prettiest countryside in America. My visits were productive also because they reminded me of the degree to which American politics have been shaped by fierce confrontations – of which the Civil War was only the most violent outbreak.
Europeans tend to be simultaneously over-awed and ill-informed about America and often regard it with with a largish dollop of schadenfreude. An American friend visiting Britain told me irritably last month that she was fed up with people telling her with some relish that “American politics are all about race and British politics all about class.”
There is some truth in this, but both countries are a lot more complex and interesting than that. Moreover, the European view of what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic is often tainted by wishful thinking and naivety, seeing the likes of Bill Clinton as a sort of American version of a European social democrat rather than the affable opportunistic rogue he undoubtedly is. Barack Obama’s eloquent speeches were often taken at face value outside America, though his rhetoric was mostly about as good as it ever got during his years in the White House.
Beneath the Radar
FTX, which includes the US crypto exchange has filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, after a flood of customer withdrawals led to the imploding of Sam Bankman-Fried’s $32bn empire. I could never understand how the cryptocurrency phenomenon differed from any other get-rich-quick scheme since the South Sea Bubble. Like any bubble, it is self-feeding so long as the expectation of the investor is that prices will go higher, and the enterprise will crash off a cliff as soon as confidence evaporates – as it now appears to have done.
As with all enterprises that resist regulation there is usually a good reason why those in charge do not want anybody to have too close a look at the books. Another sure sign of somebody intending to take investors to the cleaners is a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo concealing the simple Ponzi-like nature of what is going on. Of course, investors don’t have to be taken in by this hokum; they just need to believe that they can sell to somebody else at a higher price.
Here is one of many accounts of the latest crypto debacle. Cynics may also like to look at this IMF report into the Albanian pyramid scheme that collapsed in 1997, provoking a civil war in which 2,000 people were killed.
THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX WINS AGAIN!
by William Astore
With Veterans Day in mind, I was asked as a retired U.S. military officer for a comment on the 2022 election results, which produced this:
When both political parties pose as pro-military, when both are pro-war, when both are enablers of record-high Pentagon spending, when both act as if a new cold war with China and Russia is inevitable, do election results even matter? No matter which party claims victory, the true victor remains the military-industrial-Congressional complex.
To paraphrase Joe Biden, nothing fundamentally changed in the 2022 elections when it comes to colossal military spending, incessant wars and preparations for the same, and non-stop imperialism around the globe. There is no new vision for lower Pentagon spending, for fewer wars and weapons exports, and for a smaller, less domineering, imperial mission.
As General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in 1961, the military-industrial-Congressional complex represents a disastrous rise of misplaced power that is profoundly anti-democratic. Collectively, we’ve failed to heed Ike’s warning. The result has been one unnecessary and disastrous war after another, even as democracy in America withers. The Vietnam War—disaster. The Iraq War—disaster. The Afghan War—disaster. The War on Terror—disaster. Even the war America ostensibly won, the Cold War against the USSR, is now apparently about to be refought.
I suppose we need to refight the Cold War we “won” thirty years ago so we can lose that one too.
With the Democrats doing somewhat better than expected at the polls, war business should continue to grow in Washington, D.C. Most political commentators seem to think this is a good thing, when they think about it at all. Few seem to recall Ike’s warning that a military establishment of vast proportions is antithetical to democracy.
In this election cycle, I’ve heard nothing about peace. I’ve heard nothing about strengthening and preserving democracy by downsizing our military and imperial presence around the globe. Not from Democrats and Republicans.
So the winner in 2022 is the same winner as always: the military-industrial-Congressional complex. It’s a sad result to contemplate with Veterans Day looming.
Ltc. (ret.) William J. Astore served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, retiring in 2005.
UKRAINE, TUESDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER
Polish government convenes emergency meeting after deadly explosion near border with Ukraine
by Erik Ortiz & Corky Siemaszko
The Polish government convened an emergency security and defense meeting Tuesday and agreed to increase its military readiness, government spokesman Piotr Mueller said, after an explosion killed two people near the border with Ukraine.
It was not clear what caused the explosion in the southeastern town of Hrubieszów, Mueller said after the emergency meeting was convened.
"A moment ago it was decided to increase the readiness of some military units in Poland and other uniformed services," he told reporters.
Unconfirmed news reports that the blasts were caused by Russian rockets hitting a town a few miles from Ukraine — whether intentional or by mistake — raised fears of an escalation in President Vladimir Putin’s war.
“We’ve seen these reports out of Poland and are working with the Polish government to gather more information,” the spokesperson for the National Security Council said in a statement. “We cannot confirm the reports or any of the details at this time. We will determine what happened and what the appropriate next steps would be.”
Russia pushed back on the allegations soon after the reports emerged.
“The statements of the Polish media and officials about the alleged fall of ‘Russian’ missiles in the area of the settlement of Przewodow, is a deliberate provocation in order to escalate the situation,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Telegram, referring to the village widely reported to have been hit.
The increasingly urgent situation comes as Russia launched an intense wave of airstrikes on cities across Ukraine on Tuesday, forcing widespread blackouts and hitting residential buildings in the capital, Kyiv.
The barrage targeted key cities from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the northeast, pounding energy infrastructure and knocking out power to vast areas in one of the largest coordinated attacks of the war.
“It is only a matter of time before Russian terror goes further. The longer Russia feels impunity, the more threats there will be to anyone within reach of Russian missiles,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. “This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a very significant escalation. We must act.”
The prospect of Russian missiles possibly hitting Poland, a member of NATO, triggered fears that the war in Ukraine could intensify sharply.