Cold | Kinman Saloon | School Jobs | Mail Stage | Trail Closure | Big Tree | Digital Future | Hay Dispenser | Hedgehog Books | Parkland Purchase | Priory Panthers | Ed Notes | Disgusted Donator | Writing Class | Art Shows | Brush Clearing | Done Good | Yesterday's Catch | Travel Ban | Self-Unload | Miss Primwood | New Tree | Cold Feet | Purdy Good | Harrison Poems | Frosty | Trumpy Troubles | Re-Application | Ukraine | Castro Kicks | Communist Manifesto | Huffing & Puffing | Fusion Energy | Future Past | Five Years | Evens Out | American Stress | London Stage | Empty Throne | Farm Snow
A FEW LIGHT RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS may occur this morning north of Cape Mendocino, otherwise dry weather with cold winter temperatures are forecast through the week. (NWS)
WEEKEND RAINFALL TOTALS: Yorkville 3.16" - Boonville 2.65"
SCHOOL JOB OPPORTUNITIES
AVUSD has an immediate need for custodial subs and cafeteria subs. There are no entrance exams for this position and it is a great way to earn money, if you have a flexible work schedule! If you are interested in learning more, please email Sara Hayward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WET WEATHER TRAIL CLOSURE BEGINS DEC. 11 ON UPPER LAKE RANGER DISTRICT
Mendocino National Forest officials have issued a wet weather trail closure for the Upper Lake Ranger District, beginning 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. Forest Order No. 08-22-09 will remain in effect there is no measurable precipitation for 48 hours at the Howard Mill rain gauge.
The restrictions prohibit the use of motor vehicles on National Forest System trails within the Upper Lake Ranger District on the Mendocino National Forest.
Temporary wet weather trail closures go into effect when two inches of rainfall occur within a 24-hour period or when the soils are saturated. Wet weather trail closures restrict the use of motor vehicles on National Forest System trails when conditions are too wet to sustain use without causing soil loss, impacting water quality, damaging trail tread and putting public safety at risk.
These limited duration closures will remain in place until no measurable precipitation is recorded within 48 consecutive hours. By issuing these closures as precipitation events occur, forest managers provide for public safety, protect natural resources during and after storms and allow time for trails to dry out prior to resuming use. The restrictions may be implemented anytime during fall and winter seasons through June 2024.
The following persons are exempt from this Order:
- Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire-fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
- Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order.
Trail users can check the precipitation data online before traveling to the forest.
When closures occur, information will be posted on the forest website and social media.
MONDAY NIGHT DISCUSSION ON HOW THE DIGITAL WORLD WILL AFFECT OUR COMMUNITY
Monday, December 12th, 5:30 upstairs at The Company Store in Fort Bragg, a short film on what a digital future looks like, the technology that’s already in place for this, and rolling out as we sleep. The following discussion in the community circle is worth being part of. Come join in, all welcome!
We are very happy with this hay feeder built by Anthony Fashauer! He, with some help from Daniel Garibay, made feeding some livestock so easy. No wasted hay too!
Anthony, a junior, has really stepped up this school year. He is our chapter Treasurer. He recently volunteered to collect brush twice for our wreath project.
Great job Anthony!
MALCOLM MACDONALD: Add Hedgehog Books in Boonville to the locations where you can pick up copies of my Mendocino History Exposed. Hedgehog Books is located in Train Car #3, across from the Redwood Drive-In, 13975 Highway 128. Check out their website at hedgehogboonville.com, give them a call at 707-621-3227, or drop in to see how many books they have stashed in a small space.
KATHY BAILEY: Wish we could do stuff like this…
Here's an example of the sort of thing we could do in Mendocino County if we had an Open Space District:
REDWOOD CLASSIC CHAMPIONS: Priory Panthers
Second Place: Stuart Hall
Third Place: Valley Christian Academy
“ON MONDAY,” promises School Supe Louise Simson, “I’m going to the regional CIF San Ramon meeting to talk about their credit card fee policies and their exorbitant gate fees. There’s an article coming out in an educational magazine on January 9 that goes to all school administrators. Let’s see if we can get some movement on that.”
AND, “You may also notice some porta-potties in front of the high school. With all this rain our leach fields are not working at the high school. We brought in the porta-potties just in case, and the contractor started marking the lines Friday, so we could open up the ground and see what we've got.”
US RUSTICS know all about septic systems and leach fields, especially those of us who live on small parcels where there's little space to create a leach field that leaches at all times of the year. The Great Mike Lucchetti of Hopland got 'er done for us, got 'er done fast, got 'er done at reasonable cost, and that sucker has flowed perfectly ever since. Typically, though, if your system is properly installed, the leach field will drain in a day or two after a big rain.
IT'S ONLY one more sign of the general collapse that genuine authority, like the genuine authority of Dr. Fauci, can be not only challenged but vilified by people who reject the basic principles of contagious diseases and the immunology that prevents them and prevents them from spreading. The Covid virus has always shape-shifted, and with each shape-shift, Fauci, for the sin of trying to keep up with the disease's morphs, found himself, and even his family, threatened and insulted by people who have no idea what they're talking about.
BRUCE McEWEN on the armed robbery Friday afternoon: “I used to shop there, and as the place was used by immigrant workers to send money home to relatives in Mexico, there were often multiple paychecks being cashed at Mi Esperanza. Great people, and I hope the thugs pay with some hard time. You know, a guy would come in and cash his check, then dole out a large amount to send home, and so they kept a lot of money on hand.”
AS OF SUNDAY MORNING, the law is pretty sure they know who did it, but given the alleged large amount of money he ran off with, he could be long gone.
LONG LOST RELATIVES. I've got twin male cousins of roughly my vintage that I knew existed, but beyond that hazy awareness I've known nothing of my reprobate uncle's children. “Uncle Bob,” as he was referred to in hushed references to him during my childhood, was a major scandal from a time when Americans could still be scandalized. When I was old enough to be filled in on the details of his disgrace, I liked what I heard. The version I got went something like this: The scion of a prominent Honolulu family whose patriarch, my grandfather, was prominent in the most boring and least forgiving of all the Christian religions — Scots Presbyterians — Uncle Bob dove into the bottle while still in high school, which was unusual enough at the time anywhere in the United States, but absolutely unheard of in pre-war Hawaii. My mortified grandfather bailed his wayward son out of one family embarrassment after another, but Uncle B finally outdid even grandad's grudging capacity for Christian redemption when he married a fetching young debutante of the Oahu aristocracy. Big society wedding in the biggest church in town, complete with newspaper photographers and society columnists to record the splendor of the event. Uncle Bob was late to his union in holy matrimony, and when he finally showed up he was so drunk he had to be held up at the altar by his best man before slurring through his I do's, slopping a flammable kiss on his shocked bride's blush-red cheek then, turning his back on her and the packed house, staggered down the aisle, past his gathering wedding reception, and out the door, disappearing into the sweet, orchid-scented Honolulu afternoon. But Uncle Bob's wedding day wasn't over. His forlorn bride returned to the marital bower to find her new husband in bed with a fetching Hawaiian lass, him perhaps blurting out the famous joke, “Who are you going to believe, my dear? Me, or your lying eyes?” Uncle Bob was said to be quite witty and, when he was sober, worked as a Hollywood script doctor on B movies. No surprise that his marriage never got out of Honolulu, but not before a truly miraculous conception produced twin sons, my phantom cousins. His dutiful wife soon remarried a man named Hutchins with whom she settled in L.A. with my uncle's two boys who were raised as Hutchins with, I assume, nary a mention of their real father, and nary so much as the faintest curiosity over all the years on either side of the genetic bridge to contact each other. So, here we are late in 2022, with genealogy research booming, when a granddaughter of one of my twin first cousins discovers she has serious blood in common with people — us Andersons — she's never heard of! I'm assuming both sides of this disinterred relationship are in for some big surprises. Uncle Bob? I met him once when he stayed briefly with his brother, my father. That would have been in 1970. Liked him immediately. He was very funny in the way that cynical old rummies can be funny, smoking Pall Mall unfiltered longs right down to the nub of his yellowed smoker's hand. (There used to be a lot of yellow hands, but they've been hounded out of existence.) He seemed to be sober at the time, but when he left a few days later my father found half-pint whiskey bottles “everywhere in the house.” The next news of Uncle Bob was that he'd been in a fight in downtown Honolulu and had fallen into enough water to drown.
Never saw my twin cousins after the day of this photo. Left to right, the twin cousins, me, my brother Ken, my youngest brother Rob held by my cousin Charlotte. How this photograph came to be, especially given the family dynamics of that time, no one knows.
TALKING ABOUT YOUR HOUSEKEEPING, CRAIG
To the Editor:
I went to Building Bridges yesterday with a box of donations I had purchased. Hygiene kits, socks and little canvas bags with the reflectors stripe. The place is disgusting. People out front smoking pot. Only one washing machine works (there are several out of order), it smells bad and there are very young people at the front desk who seem to know nothing. A cat was walking all over the desk while I’m trying to talk. They couldn’t have cared less about the bags of socks I bought. One bag was small socks and they said we can’t accept socks for kids. Are you kidding me? A lady, with the cat, says if they fit a small woman we’ll take them. Well that’s the last time I donate there. Plowshares loves my donations. I’m greeted with a smile and gratitude.
City of Ukiah wants accolades on their homeless achievements. Has anyone ever actually been there? I think actual pictures of the place should be shown.
I feel you are the only one who can share this and bring the situation to light.
TWO FIRST FRIDAY SHOW OPENINGS AT EDGEWATER GALLERY IN JAN
Event: Two First Friday Show Openings in January at Edgewater Gallery
Who: Featured Artist Karin Denson and “New Beginnings” Group Show
When: First Friday, January 6, from 5-8, and continuing through January 31
Where: Edgewater Gallery, 356 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg
About Karin Denson—in her own words:
I was born in Poland (Silesia), grew up in Germany, and moved with my family to the US in 2014. For many years I worked as a special education, Montessori, and art teacher, and only recently began devoting my time mainly to art. My appreciation for nature is deeply rooted in my upbringing and the environments in which I was raised. As a child I spent a lot of time outdoors and surrounded by animals. I find inner peace and balance on hikes and walks where I observe wildlife and collect videos as the basis for my paintings. Then I process these videos digitally with the goal of generating glitches and exposing unexpected creations and worlds that are latent in the material. In my work with glitches and their inherent temporalities, I'm seeking to express my worries, but especially my care for the instability of ecosystems,the impermanence, transience, and volatility of species, and to freeze and visualize some of these fleeting and irretrievable moments in the medium of acrylics.
Edgewater Gallery's “New Beginnings” show illuminates new directions our members are pursuing as a new year begins. Margaret Paul's new series of fine silver pendants depicting things people are passionate about makes it possible for them to wear their passion as a piece of jewelry. Two examples: a painter's palette pendant; a dog paw pendant. Ene Bender's inspired oil paintings are the result of exploring where her imagination leads her. Her recent Coastal Calla Lilies painting is an excellent example of her approach to art. For Ene, each painting is is a new beginning.
Join us on First Friday to celebrate the work of our Featured Artist Karin Denson and our group show, “New Beginnings.” Light refreshments served. Masks optional. Visit us at: www.edgewater-gallery.com
BRUSH CLEARING, DEFENSIBLE SPACE
I run a midsize excavator with a masticator attachment that grinds up brush and small trees into mulch, this machine is very effective at reducing biomass and wildfire fuels, it leaves all the ground up mulch in place to hold moisture and compost back into topsoil. There's no need for wood chippers or burn piles. I'm the owner and operator of a small family business located in the Anderson valley area.
Bushfire inc. License # 1085029
Call with any questions, Tim 707-496-7116
To the Editor
Much hearty applause at news of your PEN Lifetime Achievement Award. You deserve it and you’ve deserved it since around 1990. I’m genuinely pleased.
You might have taken a shortcut and simply joined San Fran's Chronicle about 30 years ago and started racking up prizes from the beginning. Soon you’d have needed an extra wing on your house to stash all the plaques, trophies, certificates, watches and photographs of you and various celebrities, smiling.
You would have been better off, but journalism and the world would not. Better for you to suffer and die broke than a single subscriber be deprived of a solitary guffaw at the expense of Doug Bosco, or that Mike Sweeney be able to sleep well for even one night.
(All this praise comes from a journalist who’s won prizes of his own. As recently as 1997 I was honored by the Ukiah Daily Journal and awarded the Employee of the Month parking spot.)
Bruce, ya done good, and for a long time.
Tom Hine (aka TWK)
ED NOTE: Sez the real pro who can write rings around the mythical person described above, but I'll take it since it's aimed at someone with the same name as me.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, December 11, 2022
CHRISTOPHER ASHURST, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
JORDAN BRIGHT, Ukiah. County parole violation.
LUIS GONZALEZ-AGUILAR, Calpella. Domestic abuse, suspended license for DUI.
JEWELEAH JONES, Willits. Suspended license.
$10 BILLION OUTTA HERE
The debit card for my $700 state middle-class tax refund was issued by Monetary Network Customer Service, which is based in South Dakota. Because it charged fees for each transaction, I requested a check instead. My check was issued by a bank located in Alpharetta, Georgia. California bans state-funded travel to 23 states, including South Dakota and Georgia. I think banning travel to other states for policy differences is silly and invites retaliation by states that may respond with identical foolish behavior. But why forbid state and university employees from business travel to half the nation while Sacramento pays hefty fees to financial institutions in those same states to distribute 18 million refund payments totaling about $10 billion?
Craig S. Harrison
THE AFTERLIFE, CUSTOM-TAILORED
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Miss Primwood spent more than 40 years in Ukiah schools teaching English to students ranging from the indifferent to the absent.
Hers was a no-nonsense approach, a stickler heavy on grammar and composition and with an emphasis on reading serious authors. She was always respected, never loved, occasionally mocked and much the stuff of rumors and legends.
Like the time an unfortunate sophomore used the word “Arctic” and failed to articulate the first ‘c’ in the word. Artic? Miss Primwood didn’t think so and demanded the young lady write the word “Arctic” one thousand times by tomorrow morning. She flunked her anyway.
She threw blackboard erasers at kids caught daydreaming, broke up whispering pods of inattentive students by blowing a shrill silver metal whistle that hung around her neck like a string of pearls.
Miss Primwood loved the English language and its proper usage. She lived to quote from Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, politicians, Bob Dylan, Virginia Wolff and Robert Frost.
Sloppy manners, limited vocabularies, poor enunciation, dumb phrases reflecting deteriorating cultural standards infuriated her, and when plain inquiries were met with shrugs and incoherent mumbles she’d do her best to burn holes through transgressors’ heads with long flinty glares, jaw clenched tight.
When she retired they gave her a nice cafeteria luncheon, and a few former students tried to make her seem important in their lives. She was presented with a framed certificate honoring her but replete with misspellings and punctuation errors, and everyone had a good laugh over that.
Miss Primwood managed a thin grimace which eased slightly when a second, corrected certificate was handed to her.
Less than three weeks later many of those who had attended her farewell luncheon also came to her funeral. Shocking, etc., etc., as her earthly remains were hauled away…
…Miss Primwood slowly emerged from the mist and fog and saw vague shapes ahead; she moved haltingly in their direction. Two guards stood at a pair of plain wooden doors. They seemed to be expecting her.
Both nodded, one moved toward the door on the left, opened it wide and gestured for her to enter. She approached, saw a stairway heading down, then paused to watch an elderly couple arrive and be motioned through the other door. Those steps went upward.
She cocked her head, furrowed her brow in a quizzical expression. The guard at the door shrugged and said “Ain’t none o’ my biness. Let’s git goin’ here a-fore I give ya’ the boot.”
The door closed behind her and there was no option but to descend the stairway. She heard noisy conversation, loud jeering, laughing and rowdy yelling. The intercom announced a Blue Light Special on aisle nine.
The dingy room seemed to be what disco facilities were in her imagination: strobe lights, a DJ playing Snoop Dog, L’il Wayne, The Carpenters (backwards) and all at elevated volume.
Oh my, thought a semi-panicked Miss Primwood. Oh my goodness. What in the… as she was bumped and shoved and landed on a table piled high with People magazines, National Enquirers, dozens of romance novels, grimy piles of well-thumbed pornographic publications, a stack of Rolling Stone magazines and scattered AARP periodicals.
Her head swimming, legs staggering, and suddenly a bunch of guys were hooting, pointing, shouting at her, making lewd gestures and suggesting “kinky” sport. They began chanting crude slogans in synch with a spew of Eminem lyrics she heard despite clasping her hands over her ears.
An obese teenager with “Coor’s” tattooed across her forehead offered a pipe filled with simmering fentanyl. “Ain’t gonna hurtcha none down here no more, kin it?” she leered. “Wheredja get the bling?” pointing at the shiny silver whistle around Miss Primwood’s neck. “Aintcha gonna kick down?!?”
A nearby room had a crudely printed sign inviting all to a group discussion of poetry by Alan Ginsberg and Hallmark Card authors. She felt sickened, turned to leave when a big guy said “Hey granny, the hell is a adjictive anyways?”
There must be some mistake she thought, trembling, though she knew there’d been no mistake. Now she was running, falling, colliding but continuing to move until a steely grip clutched the back of her neck. A horribly smelly old man, wrinkled yet with pimples on his face and sulfuric halitosis, grinned and in a raspy gasp hissed at Miss Primwood: “Didja think ya wuz gonna read 40 years ’bout them Charles Bukowski pomes, Beatle words and the wisdom o’ Chairman Mao? And not never quote nuthin’ from Revelations or John the Baptist? Hmmmm?
“Lady, dintcha know they take that s**t serious up there,” jerking a yellowed thumb at the ceiling. “From who didja get the miracle of life, anyhoo??”
Head pounding, mind reeling, a choking Miss Primwood fought for air.
“No, no! You mean to say ‘From whom’,” she gasped.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT COLD FEET
Cold feet (poor circulation) at night suggestions? (Coast Chatline)
I suffer from cold feet at night and have tried the obvious possible solutions. Anyone have something that works, I hope?
* * *
1. Loose fluffy old socks that the elastic has failed in, so they don't squeeze a line around your calves.
2. An old thrift-store hair dryer with a hose on it, like for a bag over your hair-do, but you don't need the bag. Put the flying-saucer-shaped hair dryer on a table next to the bed, or actually on the bed, next to you, just make sure it's not covered. Run the air hose down under the blankets. Turn it on low or medium while you brush your teeth, and by the time you get in the bed it's toasty warm everywhere and you can shut the hair dryer off. If you wake up in the night and you're cold, switch it on for a minute or two. This is perfect.
3. A new electric heating pad with a control box that automatically shuts itself off on a timer. Put the pad directly under your feet. It has to be the kind that shuts itself off, for obvious reasons.
A REMARKABLE FIRST START FOR BROCK PURDY
by Michael Lerseth
So let’s review: The last guy taken in this year’s draft made his first start and thoroughly outplayed the greatest QB in NFL history. Brock Purdy had a debut for the ages against the aging Tom Brady, rolling out a 134 rating while completing 16 of 21 passes for 185 yards and a pair of TDs (he also ran for one). Christian McCaffrey was outstanding, too, rushing for 119 yards, adding 34 yards receiving and scoring twice. It’s not all smiles, however, as the team waits for word on the severity of Deebo Samuel’s ankle injury.
Tom Brady was made to look more goat than GOAT. He threw 55 passes (completing 34) for 253 yards but had only one TD — on a deflection with the Bucs trailing by 35. Brady could have had a second TD but misfired on a fourth-down throw into the end zone. Tashaun Gipson and Dre Greenlaw had interceptions and Greenlaw was everywhere with a game-high 15 tackles. Five of Tampa Bay’s first seven drives lasted three or fewer plays.
Special teams: Good
Robbie Gould picked up a game check for getting to practice his extra points (5-for-5). Ray-Ray McCloud did a little bit of everything with 54 yards on two kick returns and 43 yards on three punt returns while also running three times for seven yards and catching a pass for 11. Mitch Wishnowsky punted just three times, averaged 44.7 yards and dropped one inside the 20.
One play Sunday made it crystal clear how much faith Kyle Shanahan has in Purdy. One snap after a poorly thrown interception was nullified by a Tampa Bay penalty, Shanahan eschewed playing it safe to set up for a field goal and instead had Purdy pump fake and throw toward the end zone where Brandon Aiyuk was all alone and went in for a TD and a 28-0 lead. Game over.
If you thought the Purdy vs. Brady hype was something, wait until Thursday’s Purdy vs. Geno Smith cage match. Just kidding! The 49ers have to be over the moon excited about the way Purdy played, but going into Seattle on short rest and likely without Samuel will make them sober up fast. A second defeat of the Seahawks would put a lock on what can fairly be called a sub-par NFC West (49ers are 9-4, the other three teams a combined 15-23).
THREE POEMS from the Late Great Jim Harrison on His Birthday
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn't die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there's no chain.
. . .
I love these raw moist dawns with
a thousand birds you hear but can't
quite see in the mist.
My old alien body is a foreigner
struggling to get into another country.
The loon call makes me shiver.
Back at the cabin I see a book
and am not quite sure what that is.
. . .
I feel my failure intensely
as if it were a vital organ
the gods grew from the side of my head.
You can't cover it with a hat and I no longer
can sleep on that side it's so tender.
I wasn't quite faithful enough
to carry this sort of weight up the mountain.
When I took my vows at nineteen
I had no idea that gods were so merciless.
Fear makes for good servants
and bravery is fraudulent. When I awoke
I wasn't awake enough.
A friend wonders if Trump is over. I'd say yes. He will continue to make as much chaos and claim as much attention as possible, but basically he's got no good future and no real route back to power. We're now at the stage when the Republicans, like scorpions in a jar, turn on each other, so make some popcorn and enjoy the schadenfreude. Murdoch on Trump, Trump on DeSantis, Ivanka pretending she was anywhere else the last six years, McCarthy unable to get real loyalty from his troops, McConnell maybe never coming back to senate leadership (thank you Rev. Warnock and Annabel), and a whole lot of them in a whole lot of trouble: Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, Manafort, Giuliani, and maybe something special coming from Georgia for Sen. Graham and General Flynn. And the most of it for DJT, who's got more kinds of trouble coming at him than he can count and lawyers who are kind of afraid to fully back him, because they know he's so shifty. Plus, I'm sure, banks thinking twice about ever lending to him again, and a brand that's turned toxic and been found criminal. And all those insurrectionists in jail, and all those Republicans blaming each other and Trump for the recent election results. Pence is an outcast, Romney is on his own, Cheney is in conflict with her party, Sarah Palin was defeated by a newcomer Democrat (the great Mary Peltola). They had their rampage and now they're paying. I mean, the war isn't over, but this is not their day.
Dahlia Lithwick wrote today about the Supreme Court case brought by NC Republicans who want to overthrow all regulation of elections: "It’s a trend. There is no disputing that election deniers and coup enthusiasts were roundly shellacked in the midterms. Vigilante violence at polling places didn’t end up happening. Polls show that for voters, protecting democracy was a huge motivator and priority. Even the most rabid voices attacking election integrity ended up conceding defeat, and the handful who refused were ignored into oblivion. It is at least plausible that the midterms, in tandem with Donald Trump’s rapidly plummeting fortunes, prove that Americans prefer that their democracy play out at the ballot box, and not — with all due respect to Ginni Thomas — in backroom deals about fake electors. Efforts to invalidate election results through vote suppression, election subversion, personal manipulation, and even, at worst, violence are not a winning program with voters, it turns out."
p.s. And the right-wingers on the Supreme Court succeeded in overturning Roe/Wade while also trashing the status of the court.
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11TH
Ukrainian authorities said the strike on the southern city of Melitopol hit a church that was being used as a base by Russian soldiers. A state-owned Russian news agency said two people were killed and 10 wounded in the attack.
The strike on Melitopol signals the importance of longer-range weapons in Ukraine’s campaign to recapture land in the south.
All of Ukraine’s thermal and hydroelectric power plants are damaged from Russian strikes, the prime minister says.
Zelensky says it will take days to restore electricity to the Odesa region.
Biden’s top hostage negotiator details Brittney Griner’s flight home.
The war in Ukraine is bringing an energy crunch, and paid protests, to Moldova.
STUDY UP, MAGAS!
What ‘The Communist Manifesto’ Means Today With China Miéville
Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast
It’s been 174 years since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote “The Communist Manifesto.” How is it still relevant today and what makes it such a vital guide to understanding present-day struggles? That’s the subject of China Mieville’s latest work, “A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto.” Miéville, a self-proclaimed Marxist and socialist, is a New York Times-bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent book offers an analysis of what arguably remains the modern world’s most influential political document. He joins WITHpod to discuss criticisms of “The Manifesto,” the precipitating factors and peculiar nature of the text, how it still profoundly influences contemporary discourse and more.…
Listen on Apple Podcasts: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/why-is-this-happening-the-chris-hayes-podcast/id1382983397?i=1000588997257
JUST IN: GOVERNMENT SCIENTISTS at a California lab have reportedly made a breakthrough in harnessing the much sought-after fusion energy power source. Using the world's largest laser, researchers coaxed fusion fuel for the first time to heat itself beyond the heat energy that was zapped into it. Fusion energy, the same reaction which powers our sun, could one day provide a limitless and cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. It offers the prospect of abundant energy without pollution, radioactive waste or greenhouse gases. Nuclear fission energy comes from splitting atoms - fusion energy comes from fusing atoms together, just like inside stars, including our sun. Although such fusion has been replicated before, it is the first time the reaction ended up producing more energy than was used to start the experiment. Michael Campbell, director of the LLE at the University of Rochester in New York, hailed the experiment as "an enormous scientific achievement."
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Somehow, people can’t get over the fact that the industrial age is/was just a tiny blip on the human historical timeline. Our species has been been here for at least a 100,000 years, and possibly well over a million years. We lived here successfully via solar power coming our way via the plant world through photosynthesis. We had no fossil fuel inputs and we were successful, possibly due entirely to wolf/dogs giving us a lot of help in hunting. Once the energy and technology runs out and fails, we’ll be back to our default position.
We will NOT be occupying this planet in the future with cars, dishwashers, central heat and air, clothes dryers, airplanes, electronic devices etc. Forget about abiotic oil. If it’s there, they’d be pumping the easy stuff instead of the very complex and expensive fracking processes and off shore drilling. The future is not going to be like we think it is.
THERE ARE MANY in this old world of ours who hold that things break about even for all of us. I have observed, for example, that we all get the same amount of ice. The rich get it in the summertime and the poor get it in the winter.
— Bat Masterson
THE AMERICAN WAY OF STRESS is comparable to Freud's “beloved symptom,” his name for the cherished neurosis that a patient cultivates like the rarest of orchids and does not want to be cured of. Stress makes Americans feel busy, important, and in demand, and simultaneously deprived, ignored, and victimized. Stress makes them feel interesting and complex instead of boring and simple, and carries an assumption of sensitivity not unlike the Old World assumption that aristocrats were high-strung. In short, stress has become a status symbol.
— Florence King (1936 - 2016)
THE DREAM OF THE ROOD: Who sits on the empty throne?
by Paul Kingsnorth
Let me tell you a story.
This story begins in a garden, at the very beginning of all things. All life can be found in this garden: every living being, every bird and animal, every tree and plant. Humans live here too, and so does the creator of all of it, the source of everything, and he is so close that he can be seen and heard and spoken to. Everything walks in the garden together. Everything is in communion. It is a picture of integration.
At the centre of this garden grows a tree, the fruit of which imparts hidden knowledge. The humans - the last creature to be formed by the creator - will be ready to eat this fruit one day, and when they do they will gain this knowledge and be able to use it wisely for the benefit of themselves and of all other things that live in the garden. But they are not ready yet. The humans are still young, and unlike the rest of creation they are only partially formed. If they ate from the tree now, the consequences would be terrible.
Do not eat that fruit, the creator tells them. Eat anything else you like, but not that.
We know the next part of the story because it is still happening to us all the time. Why should you not eat the fruit? says the voice of the tempting serpent, the voice from the undergrowth of our minds. Why should you not have the power that you are worthy of? Why should this creator keep it all for himself? Why should you listen to him? He just wants to keep you down. Eat the fruit. It's your right. You're worth it!
So we eat the fruit, and we see that we are naked and we become ashamed. Our mind is filled with questions, the gears inside it begin to whir and turn and suddenly now here is us and them, here is humanity and nature, here is people and God. A portcullis of words descends between us and the other creatures in the garden, and we can never go home again. We fall into dis-integration and we fall out of the garden forever. Armed angels are set at the gates; even if we find our way back to the garden again we cannot re-enter. The state of questless ease that was our birthright is gone. We chose knowledge over communion; we chose power over humility.
The Earth is our home now.
This Earth is a broken version of the garden; of our original integration with creator and creation. On Earth we must toil to break the soil, to plant seeds, to fight off predators. We will sicken and die. Everything is eating everything else. There is war and dominion and misery. There is beauty and love and friendship too, but all of it ends in death. These are the consequences of our pursuit of knowledge and power, but we keep pursuing them because we know no other way out. We keep building towers and cities and forgetting where we came from. Outside of the garden, we are homeless and can never be still. We forget the creator and worship ourselves. All of this happens inside us every day.
There comes a time when the creator takes pity. After so many centuries of this, after so many years of humans missing the mark, of wandering from the path, of rising and falling and warring and dying, of eating the fruit again and again, the creator stages an intervention. He comes to Earth in human form to show us the way back home. Most people don't listen, naturally, and we all know how the story ends. God himself walks on Earth and what does humanity do? We torture and kill him.
But the joke is on us, because it turns out that this was the point all along. The way of this creator is not the way of power but of humility, not of conquest but of sacrifice. When he comes to Earth he comes not as warlord, king or high priest, but as a barefoot artisan in an obscure desert province. He walks with the downtrodden and the rejected, he scorns wealth and power and through his death he conquers death itself, and releases us from our bondage. He gives us a way out; a way back home. But we have to work at it. The path back to the garden can only be found by giving up the vainglory, the search for power and the unearned knowledge which got us exiled in the first place. The path is the path of renunciation, of love and of sacrifice. To get back to the garden, we have to go through the cross.
Now imagine that a whole culture is built around this story. Imagine that this culture survives for over a thousand years, building layer upon layer of meaning, tradition, innovation and creation, however imperfectly, on these foundations.
Then imagine that this culture dies, leaving only ruins.
If you live in the West, you do not have to imagine any of this. You are living among those ruins, and you have been all your life. Many of them are still beautiful - intact cathedrals, Bach concertos - but they are ruins nonetheless. They are the remains of something called 'Christendom', a 1500-year civilisation in which this particular sacred story seeped into and formed every aspect of life, bending and changing and transforming everything in this story's image.
And it really was everything. No aspect of daily life was unaffected by the story: the organisation of the working week; the cycle of annual feast and rest days; the payment of taxes; the moral duties of individuals; the very notion of individuals, with ‘God-given’ rights and duties; the attitude to neighbours and strangers; the obligations of charity; the structure of families; and most of all, the wide picture of the universe - its structure and meaning, and our human place within it.
In my last essay I wrote about the decline of the West. What I didn’t write about was what the ‘West’ actually was. A lot of people are arguing about this at the moment, and the answer tends to differ according to the tribe posing the question. For a liberal, the West is the ‘Enlightenment’ and everything that followed - elective democracy, human rights, individualism, freedom of speech. For a conservative, it might signal a set of cultural values, such as traditional attitudes to family life and national identity, and probably broad support for free-market capitalism. And for the kind of post-modern leftist who currently dominates the culture, the West - assuming they will concede that it even exists - is largely a front for colonisation, empire, racism and all the other horrors we hear about daily through the official channels.
All of these things could be true at the same time, but each is also a fairly recent development. The West is a lot older than liberalism, leftism, conservatism or empire; by the time Hume, Marx and Baudrillard arrived at the party, it was already winding down. The West, in fact, is at the same time a simpler, more ancient and immensely more complex concoction than any of these could offer. It is the result of the binding together of people and peoples across a continent, over centuries of time, by a sacred order constructed around an interpretation of that Christian story.
In his book Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, written shortly after World War Two, the medieval historian Christopher Dawson explained it like this:
There has never been any unitary organisation of Western culture apart from that of the Christian Church, which provided an effective principle of social unity ... Behind the ever-changing pattern of Western culture there was a living faith which gave Europe a certain sense of spiritual community, in spite of all the conflicts and divisions and social schisms that marked its history.
Your personal attitude to that ‘living faith’ is beside the point here. In one sense, whether the faith is even true is beside the point as well. The point is that when a culture built around such a sacred order dies then there will be upheaval at every level of society, from the level of politics right down to the level of the soul. The very meaning of an individual life - if there is one - will shift dramatically. The family structure, the meaning of work, moral attitudes, the very existence of morals at all, notions of good and evil, sexual mores, perspectives on everything from money to rest to work to nature to kin to responsibility to duty: everything will be up for grabs.
Or as Dostoevsky has one of the Brothers Karamazov put it more pithily: ‘Without God and the future life? It means everything is permitted.’
The West, in short, was Christendom. But Christendom died. What does that make us, its descendants, living amongst its beautiful ruins? It makes ours a culture with no sacred order. And this is a dangerous place to be.
The philosopher Alasdair Macintyre argued in his classic work After Virtue that the very notion of virtue itself would eventually become inconceivable once the source it sprung from was removed. If human life is regarded as having no telos or higher meaning, he said, it will ultimately be impossible to agree on what ‘virtue’ means, or why it should mean anything. Macintyre’s favoured teacher was Aristotle, not Jesus, but his critique of the Enlightenment and prediction of its ultimate failure was based on a clearsighted understanding of the mythic vision of medieval Christendom, and of the partial, empty and over-rational humanism with which Enlightenment philosophers attempted to replace it.
Macintyre, writing four decades ago, believed that this failure was already clearly evident but that society did not see it, because the monuments to the old sacred order were still standing, like Roman statues after the Empire’s fall. To illustrate his thesis, Macintyre used the example of the taboo. This word was first recorded by Europeans in the journals of Captain Cook, in which he recorded his visits to Polynesia. Macintyre explains:
The English seamen had been astonished at what they took to be the lax sexual habits of the Polynesians and were even more astonished to discover the sharp contrast with the rigorous prohibition placed on such conduct as men and women eating together. When they enquired why men and women were prohibited from eating together, they were told that the practice was taboo. But when they enquired further what taboo meant, they could get little further information.
Further research suggested that the Polynesian islanders themselves were not really sure why these prohibitions existed either; indeed, when taboos were abolished entirely in parts of Polynesia a few decades later there were few immediately obvious consequences. So were such prohibitions meaningless all along? Macintyre suggested instead that taboo rules have a history which develops in two stages:
In the first stage they are embedded in a context which confers intelligibility upon them … Deprive the taboo rules of their original context and they at once are apt to appear as a set of arbitrary prohibitions, as indeed they characteristically do appear when the original context is lost, when those background beliefs in the light of which the taboo rules had originally been understood have not only been abandoned but forgotten.
Once a society reaches the stage where the reason for its taboos has been forgotten, one shove is all it takes to start a domino effect that will knock them all down. Macintyre believed that this stage had already been reached in the West:
A key part of my thesis has been that modern moral utterance and practice can only be understood as a series of fragmented survivals from an older past and that the insoluble problems which they have generated for modern moral theorists will remain insoluable until this is well understood.
These ‘fragmented survivals’ were a remnant of the Western sacred order; the story of Christendom. Macintyre was keen to remind his readers that this story also incorporated elements from previous ‘pagan’ value systems, as well as aspects of Greek philosophy, especially that of his lodestone, Aristotle. But whatever its precise genesis, the resulting story had built the shape of the Western mind.
The ‘original context’ of that story, especially to the millennial and post-millennial generations, is now long gone. Many of them don’t even know it in outline (even in my generation, schooled in England in the eighties, it was barely clinging on) and many more are viscerally opposed to what they imagine it represents. Now, as Macintyre predicted, the final taboos are falling like ninepins, and from all across the cultural spectrum the effects are being felt.
If you’re broadly socially conservative, for example - which in practice means that you hold views which were entirely mainstream until about about five years ago - the questions are currently coming at you in a rolling barrage. Why should a man not marry a man? Why should a man not become a woman? Why should a child not have three fathers, or be born from a female womb transplanted into a man’s body? Since the source of our old understanding of marriage, family, sexuality and perhaps even biological dimorphism was the now-problematic Christian story, these are the kinds of questions to which there is now only one officially legitimate answer.
Things are not much better, though, for those on the left who are concerned about the destructive inequalities created by the modern economy. ‘Woe to you who are rich’, said Jesus, in one of many blasts against wealth and power that we can read in the Gospels. ‘Greed is a sin against God’, wrote Thomas Aquinas, one of the giants of Western Christian theology. Not any more. Now the Machine runs on greed, and it laughs in the face of any foolish and unrealistic Romantic who rejects it. The shaky binding straps with which medieval Christendom kept the traders, the merchants and the urban bourgeoisie tied down have long since broken, leaving us with no better argument against rampant greed and inequality than against total sexual licence or the remaking of the human body itself.
This is what Nietszche knew, and what today’s liberal humanists will too often deny: if you knock out the pillars of a sacred order, the universe itself will change shape. At the primal level, such a change is experienced by people as a deep and lasting trauma - whether they know it or not. Whether you’re a Christian, a Muslim, a Heathen or an atheist, it should be obvious that no culture can just shrug off, or rationalise away, the metaphysics which underpin it and expect to remain a culture in anything but name - if that.
When such an order is broken, what replaces it? It depends on how the breakage happens. When the taboos were abolished in Polynesia, reported Macintyre, an unexpected ‘moral vacuum’ was created, which came to be filled by ‘the banalities of the New England Protestant missionaries.’ In this case, a certain colour of Christianity had stepped into the breach created by the death of a previous sacred story. The end of the taboos had not brought about some abstract ‘freedom’; rather, it had stripped the culture of its heart. That heart had, in reality, stopped beating some time before, but now that the formal architecture was gone too, there was an empty space waiting to be filled - and nature abhors a vacuum.
It seems to me that we are now at this point in the West. Since at least the 1960s our empty taboos have been crumbling away, and in just the last few years the last remaining monuments have been - often literally - torn down. Christendom expired over centuries for a complex set of reasons, but it was not killed off by an external enemy. No hostile army swept into Europe and forcibly converted us to a rival faith. Instead we dismantled our story from within. What replaced it was not a new sacred order, but a denial that such a thing existed at all.
In After Virtue, Macintyre explains what happened next. The Enlightenment project of the 18th century was an attempt to build a 'morality' (a word that had not existed in this sense before that time) loosed from theology. It was the project of constructing a wholly new human being After God, in which a new, personal moral sense - no longer eternal in nature, or accountable to any higher force - would form the basis of the culture and the individual.
Did it work? In a word: no. Post-Enlightenment ‘morality’, said Macintyre, was no subsitute for a higher purpose or meta-human sense of meaning. If the correct path for society or the individual was based on nothing more than that individual’s personal judgement, then who or what was to be the final arbiter? Ultimately, without that higher purpose to bind it - without, in other words, a sacred order - society would fall into ‘emotivism’, relativism and ultimately disintegration.
In some ways, I am a roundhead at heart. Maybe we all are. The Enlightenment may have failed, but it taught modern Western people something useful: how to interrogate power, and identify illegitimate authority. But while I learned this early, it was much later that I learned something else, dimly and slowly, through my study of history, mythology and, well, people: that every culture, whether it knows it or not, is built around a sacred order. It does not, of course, need to be a Christian order. It could be Islamic, Hindu or Daoist. It could be based around the veneration of ancestors or the worship of Odin. But there is a throne at the heart of every culture, and whoever sits on it will be the force you take your instruction from.
The modern experiment has been the act of dethroning both literal human sovereigns and the representative of the sacred order, and replacing them with purely human, and purely abstract, notions - ‘the people’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘democracy’ or ‘progress.’ I’m all for liberty, and for democracy too (the real thing, not the corporate simulacra that currently squats in its place), but the dethroning of the sovereign - Christ - who sat at the heart of the Western sacred order has not led to universal equality and justice. It has led - via a bloody shortcut through Robespierre, Stalin and Hitler - to the complete triumph of the power of money, which has splintered our culture and our souls into a million angry shards.
This has been the terrible irony of the age of reason, and of the liberal and leftist theories and revolutions which resulted from it. From 1789 to 1968, every one of them ultimately failed, but in destroying the old world and its sacred order they cleared a space for capitalism to move in and commodify the ruins. Spengler, who I wrote about last time, saw this clearly. ‘The Jacobins’, he wrote of the French revolutionaries, ‘had destroyed the old obligations of blood and so had emancipated money; now it stepped forward as lord of the land.’ Revolution, he claimed, will always play the role of handmaiden to the Machine:
There is no proletarian, not even a Communist, movement that has not operated in the interest of money, in the directions indicated by money and for the time permitted by money - and without the idealist amongst its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact.
The vacuum created by the collapse of our old taboos was filled by the poison gas of consumer capitalism. It has now infiltrated every aspect of our lives in the way that the Christian story once did, so much so that we barely even notice as it colonises everything from the way we eat to the values we teach our children. Cut loose in a post-modern present, with no centre, no truth and no direction, we have not become independent-minded, responsible, democratic citizens in a human republic. We have become slaves to the power of money, and worshippers before the monstrous idol of the Machine.
The old taboos are not coming back, and Christendom will not be returning to Europe any time soon. Neither do we need to desire it. The point is not to make an idol of an obviously imperfect past - one which regularly betrayed the teachings it was supposedly built around - but to recognise that when a culture kills its sovereign, the throne will not remain empty for long. Dethrone Christ if you like - dethrone any representative of any sacred order on Earth. But when you do, you will understand that the sovereign, however imperfect his rule, may have been the only thing standing between you and the barbarians massing outside - and inside - your gates.
What is the way out of this? Here Macintyre elides with Spengler, and also with the French philosopher René Guénon, who believed that what he called 'the Western deviation' away from the sacred order had unleashed materialist demons which 'now threaten to invade the whole world.' Writing in 1927 in his short book The Crisis of the Modern World, Guénon could presciently see that the power of materialist science, allied with the values of commerce, would cause the West to 'disappear completely' if it did not change course:
Those who unchain the brute forces of matter will perish, crushed by those same forces, of which they will no longer be masters; once having imprudently set them in motion, they cannot hope to hold their fatal course indefinitely in check. It is of little consequence whether it be the forces of nature or the forces of the human mob, or both together; in any case it is the laws of matter that are called into play and that inexorably destroy him who has aspired to dominate them ...
After Virtue famously ends with its author declaring that the task we face today is similar to that set for those living through the collapse of Rome: not to 'shore up the imperium' but to start building anew. Guénon similarly believed that the work was not political but spiritual: to rediscover the eternal truths which must be at the base of any functional culture. 'Truth is not a product of the human mind', he wrote; a notion which the Enlightenment philosophers rejected, but which we are now perhaps beginning to understand the truth of all over again.
Spengler predicted that the failure of the Enlightenment would lead to a new search for that beyond-human truth. All of the theoretical edifices constructed by modern Western intellectuals to replace their old sacred order - liberalism, leftism in its myriad forms, conservatism, nationalism - had failed. Beginning in the 21st century, the grandchildren of the revolutionaries and the rationalists, adrift in a failing materialist culture, would enter what he called a ‘second religiousness’:
The age of theory is drawing to its end. The great systems of Liberalism and Socialism all arose between about 1750 and 1850. That of Marx is already half a century old, and it has had no successor. Inwardly it means, with its materialist view of history, that Nationalism has reached its extreme logical conclusion: it is therefore an end-term … In its place is developing even now the seed of a new resigned piety, sprung from tortured conscience and spiritual hunger, whose task will be to found a new hither-side that looks for secrets instead of steel-bright concepts.
When a sacred order collapses, despair can ensue, even amongst those who would not want its return, or who are not even aware what is missing. Day by day, more people are realising that our new sovereign, the Machine, is a false god, and we have no idea how to dethrone him. But the cycle of rise and fall is an inevitable part of the human historical pattern; and a necessary one. 'The passage from one cycle to another', wrote Guénon, 'can take place only in darkness.'
We are in that passage now; we live in a darkness between worlds. Macintyre concluded that the West was waiting for 'a new - and doubtless very different - St Benedict.' That was forty years ago, and we are still waiting, but it’s not a bad way to see the challenge we face. Modernity is not at all short on ideas, arguments, insults, ideologies, strategems, conflicts, world-saving machines or clever TED talks. But it is very short on saints; and how we need their love, wisdom, discipline and stillness amidst the roaring of the Machine. Maybe we had better start looking at how to embody a little of it ourselves.