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RAIN WILL CONTINUE TODAY with heaviest rain and wind expected later this morning. There is a slight chance of isolated thunder this afternoon. Minor river and urban flooding is possible. Showers are expected to slowly taper off tomorrow with some cooler and drier weather early next week. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL (past 30 hours): Yorkville 3.00" - Boonville 2.33"
NAVARRO AND GARCIA RIVERS TO FLOOD SATURDAY AFTERNOON
The Navarro River is forecast to flood Saturday with a crest at 25.9 ft at 6 PM. This would put part of Hwy. 128 under about 3 ft. of water, so travel is not advised. It will pass the 23 ft. flood stage about noon, and the highway probably will be closed before that. It looks like the river level will drop enough for 128 to be reopened Sunday by noon. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=nvrc1
The Garcia River is also likely to flood sometime Saturday and close Hwy. 1 between Manchester and Point Arena. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=grcc1
Caltrans highway info site: https://roads.dot.ca.gov
We expect gusty wind and rain to start about 4 AM Saturday and continue windy past midnight.
Good time to stay home, not roam, if possible.
Nick Wilson [MCN-Announce]
CALTRANS, BOONVILLE: Our Boonville Maintenance staff received a special visit from some Hopland Elementary School students this morning. On their way to school, they dropped off donuts in appreciation for keeping State Highways in Mendocino County safe during all the storms. This is certainly a great way to start our Friday and we want to say thank you!
Due to the increase in wet weather after three years of drought, the Mendocino County Maintained Road system will be experiencing increases in the appearance of potholes on County Roads. County Road Crews will work to address these potholes, in a systematic manner but there may be delays.
Road Crews are busy with the re-opening of roads blocked by trees & slides due to the severe weather conditions and must prioritize public safety first. As weather conditions improve, crews will systematically move through areas patching all potholes prioritizing the main collector roads in the county. While we encourage reporting of potholes, we ask the public to understand that response for “location calls” for potholes is not efficient, so responses will be delayed until the area is visited.
Please be aware that as the heavy rain continues, wet patched fixes often wash back out. This is common across many county roads. Therefore, residents and visitors should expect more potholes as rain comes from now until April.
Remember to adjust your speed for conditions (slow down on rough roads) and stay in your lane of travel. Potholes are not a justification to depart your lane of travel and conditions may require planning trips with a longer travel time.
To report dangerous road conditions or a major pothole, please contact the Mendocino County Department of Transportation at 707-463-4363.
(County Transpo Dept. Presser)
Beloved Mendocino Middle School Teacher and principal David Gross died shortly before Christmas. A Wake and a celebration of his life is this Saturday Jan. 14 at Crown Hall in Mendocino from 1-3 p.m. Former students and friends are invited to share their favorite stories about him and smile with warm memories.
AV UNIFIED UPDATE With Date Correction
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
It was great to have your students back at both sites!
The Junior and Senior High students have been most understanding relating to the porta potty situation. We moved the units out of the parking lot to underneath the gym canopy due to the rain. The contract for the pipe replacement has been signed and materials are about 15 days out on delivery. We also have the challenge of the ground being too wet right now for digging, as the crews are hitting ground water at 3 feet. We need about five days of dry weather before the contractor can start. In the meantime, our septic vault is being pumped every single day at an extraordinary cost. Your patience as we work through this is appreciated. The elementary patch has been working well so far. I am working with the state to try and get some of the cost reimbursed. One of the unexpected consequences of the porta potty’s is that we are having students remain in class longer. My theory has always been that kids avoid work by going to the bathroom, and especially with cell phones, spend too much time checking their messages before they go back to class. At our staff meeting, it just came up that students were far more on task. That might also be they just had a break, but it generated a discussion about cell phone usage on our campus. We will continue that discussion. I just finished reading a book that one of our retired teachers shared with me. One of the interesting claims in the book was that the inventors of technology such as Steve Jobs and other tech innovators did not let their own children have devices because they felt they were unhealthy and distracting. I think that says quite a bit about how addictive and distracting the innovators of this technology knew would be a negative byproduct despite all the benefits of thee devices.
We invite you to reschedule the ELAC/Site Council/CTE community dinner. We would like to hear some feedback from our parents at both sites about how to improve our school district. We will have translation available. The date is Thursday, February 16 at 5:30 at the high school cafeteria. In order for us to ensure we have enough food, please call the school office at the high school at 707-895-3496 to place a reservation. We will have activities for the children, while the adults visit. I hope to start doing these two or three times a year.
So far, our properties have had limited storm damage. I am grateful that the roof repairs we did last year are holding. In other news, I would like to thank our negotiating teams for their work this week. We have really shifted the culture in the district from positional/oppositional negotiation to collaborative/interest based negotiation. We don’t always agreed but we certainly agree to listen and try to problem solve together. I am grateful to the negotiating teams. It is a great deal of work to serve on those panels.
Please remember there is no school on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King‘s birthday. I hope your family remains safe and dry.
Louise Simson. Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
WE ARE EXCITED TO SHARE THAT THE SOUTH BOAT RAMP is now open to the public! Please be advised there is a substantial amount of debris throughout the lake and hazards can be difficult to see.
Project staff will continue to work as weather conditions permit to open the North Boat Ramp but there is currently no projected date to open.
Stay safe and don't forget to wear your life jacket!
(Ukiah-Army Corps of Engineers)
STACEY ROSE’S TRIAL DIDN’T WORK OUT FOR HIM.
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations late on Wednesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged … plus some.
Defendant Stacey Eugene Rose, age 52, generally of the Ukiah area, was originally charged with one felony count of criminal threats and three misdemeanor counts, to wit, brandishing a replica firearm, resisting or delaying a peace officer, and vehicle tampering.
At the conclusion of the People’s case-in-chief, the prosecutor asked for leave of court to amend the charging document to conform to the People's proof that had been presented to the jury.
That motion was granted, meaning that two additional and separate misdemeanor counts of vehicle tampering were added to the list of charges the jury would eventually be asked to decide.
Accordingly, having started the trial looking at four criminal charges, the defendant ended the trial facing six criminal counts, with the jury finding the defendant guilty of all six.
After the jury was excused, the defendant and his case were referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department for a background study and sentencing recommendation.
The defendant was ordered back to court on Wednesday, February 15th at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department B of the Ukiah courthouse for consideration of the probation report and recommendation, and for formal sentencing.
The law enforcement agencies that investigated the defendant’s crimes and assisted the prosecutor in preparing the case for trial were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury and argued for the verdicts that were returned was Deputy District Attorney Jamie Pearl.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan presided over the three-day trial and will be the sentencing judge on February 15th.
So we all take a day off, on the off chance we have a job to take off from, to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday and ponder the meaning of his life. The in-school discussion, if there is one about King, will emphasize his commitment to non-violence as a tactic to achieve full citizenship for black Americans at a time when black Americans, and poor people generally, are being violently squeezed by a social-economic system that no longer needs them.
Memorial editorials will leave out King’s commitment to economic justice as he's portrayed as a real nice guy who always turned the other cheek.
King, when he was alive, was routinely denounced in the mainstream media as a Com-dupe, a libel fed the media by the FBI, these days rehabbed by the Democrats as an heroic, a-political police agency who will slay the Orange Monster and his cult-brained followers.
King was murdered just as he became outspokenly critical of the War on Vietnam, American imperialism generally, and the multi-ethnic, color-blind class structure of poverty. The way King is remembered these days is as the guy who made Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell possible.
I was there, a foot soldier on the integrationist Bay Area left when King was besieged from all directions, denounced practically on a daily basis in the media of the 1960s, and written off by much of the left for his non-violent strategies and ridiculed for his Christianity. But King was among the very bravest figures of those low times, beginning every day without police protection for himself and his family, not knowing if he or his wife and children would survive the day.
The day after King was finally murdered, I was leafletting on Market Street for a protest lamenting King's assassination when a young guy walked up and started screaming vile insults at me and about how happy he was that King was dead. I thought I was going to have to fight the great white knight before he walked away. That guy was the only negative on the whole day. Everyone else who took a leaflet or stopped to talk was sympathetic and shocked at King's murder. But I still remember that one encounter as emblematic of '68, and hadn't experienced anything like it since until these Tiki Torch clowns, emboldened by the Trump election, started popping up around the country.
San Francisco back in the day was not at all the liberal bastion it has since become. Sort of. The City was strictly, militantly segregated up through the 1970s, and the cops routinely busted gay bars just for the hell of it.
I have vivid memories of King's assassination. My daughter had just been born at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco. Her delivery doctor was barefoot and wore a flower behind his ear. I remember feeling that I should probably check his credentials. I was driving a cab, writing bad poetry and working to overthrow the government for all the reasons King himself perfectly articulated — the insane war on Vietnam at the expense of home front spending.
My brother had just gotten out of the federal penitentiary at Lompoc for refusing to register for the draft. He was the first guy in the state to refuse to register and had been packed off in '64. Just as he was leaving prison, my cousin, sentenced out of Arizona, was arriving at Lompoc on the same charges that had locked up my brother. Cousin Jim was the first guy in Arizona ever to get prison time for refusing to register. In fact, the judge tacked on a year in the AZ nuthouse to cuz's three-year sentence because the judge thought cuz's opposition to the War on Vietnam was crazy. Years later, as a public defender here in Mendo, DA Massini always referred to James Roland Esq as “The Felon.” (He'd received one of those Jimmy Carter blanket pardons setting aside his felony conviction.
I was watching the news when the announcements that King had been shot began. Later that night, Yellow Cab Dispatch warned us to stay out of Hunter's Point and the Fillmore District because men were shooting at cab top lights. I tried to find confirmation that this was true but never did. No driver I knew had had it happen to him.
But it was a bad time generally in San Francisco with lots of violent street crime and hard drugs mowing down acres of flower children, hastening the “back-to-the-land” movement that would form the Mendocino County we see around us today.
I had a wife and two small children and no money. But cab driving, in the San Francisco of 1968, could pay the bills out of the cash it generated, and I “managed” the slum apartment building we lived in at 925 Sacramento at the mouth of the Stockton Tunnel, perhaps the noisiest residential address in the world, with horns honking and idiot shrieks emanating from the tunnel's echo chamber round-the-clock.
I got a free apartment in return for my management, which consisted of doing absolutely nothing because rents were mailed directly to Coldwell Banker. The Nude Girl On A Swing was our immediate neighbor. She sailed out of the ceiling naked every night over a sea of upturned male faces at a North Beach nightclub. Her act was a big draw, and more evidence that the male species is beyond pathetic. She was also a junkie whose dopehead boyfriend threatened to kill me one night when I stopped him from beating her up. The next morning they smiled and waved at me as if nothing had happened the night before.
We headed north, too, soon after, but not “back to the land,” just to get the hell outta the city and, purely by accident, landed in Boonville.
Here's an excerpt from the MLK speech that probably got him killed, the last straw for the guardians of a corrupt system. You’re unlikely to hear it repeated at the occasions memorializing him:
I should make it clear that while I have tried to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor. Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours. There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy — and laymen — concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.— Martin Luther King Jr., April 1967
(The best bio of King is Marshall Frady’s Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life, Penguin edition.)
LOOKING FOR AN ARK
by Jim Shields
Quick Weather Report
OK, think fast, I’m gonna throw some numbers at you.
Two weeks ago on Dec. 27, our season rain total stood at 16.95 inches which was 9 inches below the historical average for that date.
A fortnight later, on Tuesday, Jan. 11 as I write this column, our season-to-date total is 36.20 inches, which is 5.07 inches above the historical norm 31.13 inches. Our annual historical rainfall is nearly 67 inches.
Well, it’s rained 14 out of the last 15 days, registering 19.25 inches of precipitation.
To put this in perspective, 2 years ago during the worst drought in California’s history, Laytonville received only 29 inches of rain. Amazingly, even with that record low, our Long Valley aquifer recharged itself. And already here we are in early January, and we’ve already surpassed that measly 29 inches by 7 inches. From November through March, historically each month averages 10-plus inches of rain. Our rain year runs from July 1 to June 30.
I’d say we’re in pretty good shape compared to recent times.
By the way, I just read a CapRadio report that pointed out it’s been years since California has seen a series of storms like those hitting the state now. They’ve caused evacuations, power outages and flooding, all of which are a hazard to people in impacted areas.
“In terms of overall flood risk, one atmospheric river is typically not enough in order to drive severe concerns,” said Paul Ullrich, a professor of Regional and Global Climate Modeling at UC Davis.
But multiple storms in a row is a different story, he said.
“When you have these sequential atmospheric river events, then you really have to be worried about reservoirs overtopping, soil saturation and other drivers of widespread flood damage,” Ullrich said.
This dump of precipitation might also have positive impacts on California’s water supply. Ullrich said he remembers a series of atmospheric river events that hit California in 2016 and 2017 and helped “pull us out of that major drought that we had at the time.”
“Probably, we’re going to see that again this year,” he said.
But although this rash of storms could help the state’s water supply ahead of the summer, researchers say it also reveals weaknesses in the state’s flood-prevention infrastructure and points to more severe weather to come.
During the fall of 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicted California would have a relatively dry winter — a prediction that now, of course, has proven incorrect.
However, in my annual Fall forecast I predicted that this winter we would most likely experience something closer to historical weather and rainfall patterns.
Why was my forecast more accurate than NOAA’s?
Purely a combination of luck and my reliance on decades of local weather records. Local weather data is, I believe, critical to understanding what may be in store for us from Madre Nature.
Mendocino County has over 300 micro climates, all with distinguishing weather patterns.
For example, as the crow flies it is 8 miles from Laytonville to Branscomb in southwest direction and 13 miles over the road. Yet, on average Branscomb’s precipitation exceeds Laytonville’s by approximately 20 inches, annually.
We have micro climates separated by less than a mile in Mendocino County, each with its own unique meteorological conditions.
Ullrich said California’s winters are notoriously hard to predict because of the state’s extreme and variable weather.
However, Ullrich added that the difference between a “dry” and “wet” winter can be very slight in California.
“California is very unique in that so much of its precipitation for the year comes on so few days,” he said. “As a consequence, if you take some of those days away, if you turn them from wet days to dry days, suddenly it changes the whole total annual precipitation received by the state.”
Ullrich said the level of precipitation coming from this storm isn’t unprecedented, for the most part. Overall levels of annual precipitation in Northern California have stayed fairly consistent.
But a warming climate has encouraged more extreme weather events, he said. Warmer temperatures mean the capacity for more water vapor held in the air, which can lead to more precipitation all at once.
“What we are generally seeing is that some of the more extreme events are becoming more common,” he said. “What used to be a 1-in-100 year event is now becoming a 1-in-20 year event, or even more frequent than that.”
Trump CFO Gets Wrist Slapped With Feather
According to Courthouse News, the Trump Organization's longtime chief financial officer was handed a prison sentence Tuesday, Jan. 10, five months after he pleaded guilty in a bid to play off pervasive payroll fraud within the namesake company of former President Donald Trump as a side effect of only his own individual greed.
Allen Weisselberg, 75, negotiated the deal carrying a five-month sentence in exchange for his agreement to testify against his former employer. He also faces five years of probation and must repay nearly $2 million in taxes.
Anticipating his immediate remand to the Rikers Island jail complex New York City, Weisselberg attended his. sentencing hearing at Manhattan Supreme Court in casual street attire: a gray North Face zip-up fleece, white T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.
Nicholas Gravante, an attorney for Weisselberg, has said he anticipates Weisselberg will serve just 100 days of his sentence after a reduction for good behavior.
Begrudgingly ordering the agreed-upon sentence of five months, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan noted: "I’m not going to deviate although I believe that a stiffer sentence would appropriate given the evidence."
Merchan appeared irritated when Gravante pushed him to impose an even lighter sentence or for the second term of Weisselberg's incarceration to be served under house arrest.
"Having presided over the trial [of the Trump Organization], and having heard the testimony and seen the evidence," Judge Merchan concluded that "the entire case was driven by greed."
Merchan took specific ire with one act of the fraud in which Weisselberg directed the Trump Organization's controller, Jeffrey McConney, set his wife up with a onetime $6,000 payroll check for a no-show job at the company so she could qualify for Social Security benefits.
“It was driven purely by greed. Pure and simple," Judge Merchan said, finding the no-show job especially loathsome "at a time when so many Americans work so hard so they may one day be able to benefit from Social Security."
All well and good, Judge, but you had the power to sentence this crook to a much stiffer sentence, so why didn’t you do it?
Instead of using a feather, why didn’t you at least slap his wrist with a yardstick like my kindergarten teacher mother would do when my brother and I would break her laws. She actually whacked us on the butts with her yardstick, but you know what I mean.
Down On The Farm
Here’s this week’s report from the California Farm Bureau.
Storms, snowpack spur optimism for ample water supply for farmers
A year ago, California’s first snowpack survey of the year revealed deep snow measuring 160% of average. Then came the driest January, February and March in more than 100 years. This year the snowpack measured 174% of average on Jan. 3—and ensuing storms dumped another 10 feet of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada. At last, that may presage a healthy water year for agriculture. A state climatologist says the string of atmospheric storms signals that California may be moving from a dry La Niña pattern to a wet ElNiño phenomenon.
Agricultural groups say “Waters of U.S.” law creates confusion, burdens farmers
Farm groups say they fear the Environmental Protection Agency’s new “Waters of the United States” rule will create confusion and cause disruptions to routine agricultural activities. The rule expands the federal government’s reach, allowing regulation of most any low spot on a farmer’s field where water stands or channels. Critics say that may expose farmers to unknowing violations of the law and require permits for ordinary activities such as plowing, planting or fence building. Agricultural groups say the law could result in costly legal fees for farmers.
Farmers, ranchers challenged by rule banning older trucks
Large trucks and buses made before 2010 are now prohibited from operating in California, under a California Air Resources Board rule that took effect Jan. 1. Until this year, an agricultural exemption had allowed pre-2010 big rigs to run up to 10,000 miles a year. Now farmers and ranchers with non-compliant vehicles must abide by a 1,000-mile limit. The market is already saturated with older vehicles retaining little value, and many business owners face steep financial costs to replace them.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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)
REDWOOD VALLEY EARLY WARNING SIRENS PROJECT
by Carole Brodsky
Charles Clugston, president of CTC Mass Notification Systems, will be speaking to the public and providing demonstrations of a proposed early warning siren project for the greater Redwood Valley community. The meeting takes place on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Redwood Valley/Calpella Fire Station. There will be a formal presentation along with opportunities to speak directly with Clugston.
Billed as a community outreach and education meeting hosted by the County of Mendocino and the Redwood Valley Fire Department, Clugston and his industry partner Brad Cox — both electrical engineers — will be in the neighborhood for several days prior to the event, testing equipment, doing “sound studies” and gathering logistical information.
According to a county press release, County CEO Darcie Antle will provide opening remarks, followed by 1st District Supervisor Glenn McGourty and Redwood Valley Fire Chief Kerry Robinson.
The Redwood Valley Early Warning Sirens Project will be funded through PG&E settlement funds from the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire, as allocated by the Board of Supervisors.
Clugston has been in business since 1993, with a primary office located in Liberty Lake, Washington. His business is considered one of the premier emergency siren installers for many western states, including Alaska, Montana, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Nevada and Washington.
Clugston started out as an electrical contractor.
“I ran bucket trucks, did quite a bit of work at industrial plants and dams, and had a friend involved in sirens. He’s not in this area, so he referred me out. I got involved with this work and took a liking to it. I love when you fix something, and people are happy. The reason I’ve gotten to love sirens is I know I’m saving lives every day,” he continues.
Both Mechanical and Electrical engineer as well as a master electrician, Clugston notes that California holds a special spot in his heart.
“My wife is from California. We have family here. I come from the timber industry, so I understand what’s happened here, and feel very sad about it. We want to design the best fire system we can.”
The company provides a variety of warning systems for military bases, power companies, refineries and many more industries and community projects. “We just completed work with the City of Elko, Nevada. We work on everything from huge industrial projects to Tribal Projects, mitigating everything from tsunamis to mudslides.”
Clugston is the project manager for the Redwood Valley project and, as such, has already visited the area and had an opportunity to survey the landscape and assess the challenges and determine what he thinks would be the best system for the community.
“We’ve been here, met with the chief, installed what we call a ‘Ten-Cell’ and fired it off.” He emphasized that the project’s success relies on input from the public and an integrated coordination with emergency services personnel.
The choice of the proper system, complete with tied-in phone alerts, will be discussed in detail at Saturday’s meeting.
“When you’re driving down the road with the music on, all of a sudden you hear a police siren. Even though it’s faint, you pull over. That’s what happens with a siren. FEMA has specific decibel requirements, and they definitely save lives. We’ve seen them work on everything from dams to military bases.”
“FEMA says to be adequately notified, you have to have the ‘DBs’ above ambient sound. We’re bringing sound testing equipment, four data loggers and six hand-held devices. We put them in the most critical places, and they are able to pick up .1-second ambient intervals. We look at all the areas — look at provable tests. From there, we’re able to say if people are adequately notified.”
“To reach a sound threshold,” Clugston continues, “we do ‘envelopes.’ We have data logging getting the ambience in four critical locations. It’s real-time sound pressure readings. High school fire alarms are generally one siren — one hallway making noise. The trick, and what you’ve hired me for, is setting amplifying sirens — firing off mobile sirens in multiple conditions. We want you to tell us where to put the sirens for the best bang for your buck. We’re bringing a mobile siren with us, so everyone can feel it, touch it and get real familiar with it.”
One of the advantages of the Ten-Cell Siren system, which is one option Clugston recommends, is that it can be remotely activated.
“You can set that siren off from anywhere. No one has to be at the fire station. We can set them up with zones, different area codes.”
Generally, communities select a “tone,” one that is different from the “high-low” sound of police sirens. “Blue is used for police. What we usually use is amber, red and white. In this community, we’ll ask that you pick a tone, and that’s what we’ll stay with, and we certainly don’t want it to be the noon whistle,” Clugston smiles.
“Afterwards, we can build a digital voice — saying something to the effect of, ‘Evacuate this way,’ or, ‘Tune into this.’ It’s not good to have too many evacuation notices.”
“We want input from the community to help set tone and digital message. Everything is on a SIM card in a cabinet. It costs $175 for a digital message, forever. They’re simply MP3 recordings created in a sound room. Once they’re purchased, they belong to the community. Those messages can tell someone to evacuate to a particular location or go to high ground.” The project “selects a tone, then a brief, concise digital tone, then the message, then the tone again.”
Based on prior studies, Clugston guesses that a perimeter of sirens is what will be most effective for Redwood Valley residents.
“When we shot the siren off, we were five miles uphill. Because of the dense foliage, the sound couldn’t go down. We need to amplify them in particular ways. You have to build a perimeter of sirens, and the sound moves to the middle. With one siren, you don’t get the sound propagation you need — this is called constructive interference. Multiple sirens start oscillating and gain magnitude. Once that’s decided, we pick our tone, do the sound study, set the sirens and complete the studies to prove where we want them.”
Clugston notes that local residents may hear sirens for a few days prior to and following the public meeting.
“The most important thing is getting a good system. We’ll be sounding on the 14th, on the 15th and doing a lot of testing throughout the valley. We’ll have the mobile siren and sound off the big one to see how it propagates,” he concludes.
For more information from Mendocino County regarding the project, phone (707) 234-6303 or email email@example.com
(courtesy the Ukiah Daily Journal)
MORE FREE WATER FOR GRAPES!
Ukiah Receives Major State Grant For Expansion Of Its Water Recycling Project
The California State Water Resources Control Board has awarded the City of Ukiah $53.7 million for expansion of its Water Recycling Project. The grant will allow the City to increase capacity of the recycled water project from 1,000 acre-feet per year to 1,500 acre-feet per year. The City utilizes recycled water to support parks, sports fields, and schools, as well as for agricultural and industrial uses. The increasing reliance on recycled water means reduced demand on the Russian River and Lake Mendocino and groundwater resources.
In 2019 the City built Phases 1-3 of the recycled water system. This included approximately 8 miles of recycled water pipeline, a 66-million-gallon reservoir, a contact basin, and pumping facility. This was possible due to $34 million in funding from the State Water Resources Control Board, including $9 million in grants and a low interest loan.
Since then, the City moved forward with design and planning for Phase 4 expansion so that the project would be ready for construction when additional grant funding became available. Phase 4 is more costly as it includes street work to extend the water infrastructure through the city and improvements to the wastewater treatment plant to ensure there is enough wastewater ready to be recycled for use.
Last year the City applied for additional grant funds made available through the state budget, and on January 10, 2023 Ukiah executed a grant agreement with the State for $53,770,000. This grant funding makes Phase 4 possible, without requiring the City to incur additional debt.
In total, the City uses about 3,000 acre-feet per year of water. When Phase 4 is complete, the recycled water project will be providing about 1,500 acre-feet per year. That represents about a 50 percent conservation offset, and dramatically reduces the need for potable water.
“We are committed to using our water resources responsibly and strategically,” said Sean White, Director of Water and Sewer for the City of Ukiah. “Our recycled water project creates a more diversified and drought-resilient water supply. That’s not only good for the parks, and schools, and businesses that directly utilize the recycled water, but it’s also good for the rest of the region as Ukiah reduces its demand for potable water.”
In recent drought years, the region has experienced water curtailments and reduced supplies available from Lake Mendocino. For many of the farmers connected to the City of Ukiah’s Recycled Water Project, recycled water was their only source of reliable water in 2021. Additionally, during the drought Ukiah began delivering water supplies by truck to help several cities on the coast meet their minimum human health and safety needs. That was possible because Ukiah was able to carefully meet its own needs through recycled water, groundwater, and conservation measures, and was therefore able to help neighboring areas that were in crisis.
Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2023, and the Phase 4 expansion project is expected to be operational by Fall 2024. It will expand recycled water delivery to Vinewood Park, Frank Zeek School, Pomolita School, soccer fields, Ukiah High School, the Ukiah Cemetery, Anton Stadium, Giorno Park, Todd Grove Park, and the Ukiah Valley Golf Course, in addition to the currently served areas of Ukiah Softball Complex, Oak Manor Elementary School, Riverside Park, the Ukiah Transfer Station & Recycling Center, and 700 acres of agriculture.
(Ukiah City Presser)
Don't know why
There's no sun up in the sky
Since my gal and I ain't together
Keeps raining all the time
Life is bare
Gloom and misery everywhere
Just can't get my poor old self together
I'm weary all the time
So weary all of the time
When she went away
The blues walked in and then they met me
If she stays away
That old rocking chair's bound to get me
All I do is pray
The lord above will let me
Just walk in that sun again
Can't go on
Everything I had is gone
Since my gal and I ain't together
Keeps raining all the time
Keeps raining all of the time
— Harold Arlen
ANNOUNCING THE 2023 LEGENDARY BOONVILLE BEER FESTIVAL THEME: “THE NINETIES”
First, before we get into it, let’s just put down the rumors that are floating around: no, Brandi Chastain won’t be leading the cast of Friends in the Macarena at this year’s Boonville Beerfest. But we can confirm that in its 25th year, the 2023 edition of the Boonville Beerfest continues to be the world’s foremost celebration of beer led by our local half bear-half deer, bar none.
With that out of the way, Barkley is pleased to announce that we’re throwing it back to the 90’s for the 2023 Legendary Boonville Beer Festival. This year’s theme celebrates a decade that smelled like Teen Spirit and tasted like Hot Pockets, that asked us to wear oversized flannel and track suits, that crowned a Fresh Prince and blasted Pearl Jam through Walkman headphones. We. Can’t. Freaking. Wait.
And neither should you, to purchase your tickets that is. Early Bird tickets are on-sale now, so dial up your AOL and buy ‘em before prices increase. Best of all, know you’re doing it for a good cause, with proceeds from this (and every) Boonville Beerfest going to benefit local charities.
See you in Boonville (with Hyper Color on).
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, January 13, 2023
GABRIEL AHUMADA, Antioch/Ukiah. Domestic battery, damaging communications device.
CHRISTOPHER AVELINO, Ukiah. Vandalism.
ELIZABETH DOCKINS, Ukiah. Vandalism.
OCTAVIO GASPAR-LOPEZ, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, no license.
TRAVIS HAWK, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
IRAN HOAGLEN III, Ukiah. Parole violation.
ALDEN LARVIE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
TRINIDAD MAGDALENO-PULIDO, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
JAIME MARIN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
YUPIN PARSONS, Ukiah. DUI-causing bodily injury.
CLIFTON PHILLIPS, Covelo. Domestic battery.
JUSTIN QUINLIVEN, Willits. Domestic battery, child endangerment, protective order violation.
KELLY ROGERS, Ukiah. Stolen property, shoplifting, conspiracy.
ANTHONY TOLBERT, Ukiah. Disoderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Holy crap. In Wisconsin, I’ve lived through a lot of -45°F weather in 6 decades, but only once did I go through -60°F. That was so cold, tire rubber froze solid, retaining a flat spot, so if you were lucky enough to get your car started, it still drove like a broken Tinkertoy.
THE HIDDEN ATTRIBUTE
by Marshall Newman
Lately my thoughts have turned to attributes; those inherent elements of our being that make us worthy individuals. Some, like beauty, physical strength, intelligence, creativity and talent, are lauded – in some cases over lauded – in the press, on television and radio, and especially online. Others, like empathy and strength of will, reveal themselves quietly and consequently receive less attention. But one attribute receives almost no attention despite being perhaps the rarest of them all: courage.
The person responsible for my recent reflections on courage is my Uncle Lee. We Newman siblings always called him Uncle Lee, even though we were not related. Rabbi Lee Levinger was my father’s close friend and my godfather. We saw him frequently when we lived in the Bay Area and occasionally after we moved to Philo in 1959. Following the move, my father stayed with Uncle Lee during his overnight business trips to the Bay Area.
Uncle Lee was a senior citizen in my growing up years. He wore old-fashioned wire rimmed glasses and had a “lazy” eye that wandered outward. He was of medium height, but slightly stooped. He was a reserved individual; affable but not gregarious. I knew he and his wife Elma Levinger (who died in 1958) wrote books primarily on Jewish history and culture. They also traveled extensively and he always brought back little souvenirs for my siblings and me.
He was a gentle presence in my childhood and teen years. While he was my godfather, I don’t remember him offering spiritual guidance. Nevertheless, his version of “The Good Shepherd” – which I learned at a young age - remains an element of my evening prayers to this day. Rabbi Lee Levinger died in 1966 at age 76: I was 17-years-old-when he passed.
In short, in demeanor and personality, Uncle Lee would not be the person we envisage when we think of courage. So I was surprised to discover how courage shaped his life.
After becoming a rabbi, getting married, and fathering a son and then twins, Lee Levinger - on his own volition - joined the United States Army as a member of the newly established Jewish Chaplain Corps. Commissioned as a First Lieutenant, he was soon sent to France with the American Expeditionary Forces to minister to Jewish troops serving in the trenches during World War I. He spent nearly a year in France, including time on the front lines.
He recounted his service in World War I in his first book, A Jewish Chaplain in France, published in 1921. On the front lines with the 27th Infantry Division during the last months of the war, he visited most of the infantry units along the Hindenburg Line and in Second Battle of the Somme, ministering to Jewish and non-Jewish troops alike.
He also worked with the medical corps at first aid posts close to the front lines, carrying stretchers, binding wounds, helping those blinded by mustard gas, and ministering to the wounded, frequently under artillery fire. In one instance, a shell hit 20 feet away while he was helping load ambulances: he was unhurt, but shell fragments killed troops nearby. He wrote of guarding captured German troops brought back to one such post, his authority backed by a recently captured Luger pistol which – as a non-combatant – he had unloaded as soon as he received it.
Before leaving the front, he also helped lead the funeral service for the last U.S. troops to be buried at the St. Souplet Cemetery.
After the Armistice, Rabbi Lee Levinger would remain in France for another six months, first at a rest area in the north of France and later at the American Embarkation Center near the Riviera. During those months, he received news that one of his twin babies – the boy – had died from influenza. He returned to the United States and was discharged from the Army in May of 1919.
It is clear his chaplain experience in World War I influenced the rest of his life. Within a few years of returning stateside, he gave up work as a congregation rabbi. He became a national chaplain for the American Legion. He served as Director of the Hillel Foundation at Ohio State University from 1925 to 1935 and joined the faculty of the school as a philosophy lecturer from 1928 to 1940 (where he met, befriended and mentored a young Irving Newman, my father). He worked as a field representative for the National Jewish Welfare Board from 1942 to 1947. In 1948 he became chaplain at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, a post he held for more than 15 years.
And he wrote. Books mostly, either solo or with his wife, but articles, too. His most significant books are The Story of the Jew for Young People, published in 1929, History of the Jews in the United States, published in 1930, and the prescient Antisemitism Yesterday and Tomorrow, published in 1936.
Why some people demonstrate courage and others do not is a question with no clear answer. Is it nature, nurture, or something else? Circumstance clearly plays a role, as courage is demonstrated (or forsaken) both in split-second choices and carefully considered decisions.
Another question is whether people with courage know the potential price of their courage. On this question, there is a hint in Rabbi Lee Levinger’s family’s subsequent history. His eldest son, Samuel Levinger, then 20-years-old, went to Spain as a volunteer member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to fight the Fascists. He was killed in action there in 1937. He wrote a letter to be passed on to his family in the event of his death. Within the letter are two telling sentences. “If I were alive again I think I would join in the battle again at this critical place. There is an extremely important job to do over here and I am one of the men who decided to do it.”
A single example does not a meaningful sample make. But in its way, it speaks volumes. Yes, the courageous often know the potential price. Yet they do the difficult things they do despite the risks. That is the reason courage is rare, and also the reason it deserves more visibility and appreciation.
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show all night Friday night!
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 7pm. If you miss that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm, KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other even more terrific shows.
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put the recording of tonight's show there. And besides all that, there you'll find a vast trove of valuable esoterica to slalom through in your knee scooter until showtime, or any time, such as:
Tomorrow always comes. In the future the miracle-fabric underslips have fancy faggoting that leading corsetieres, experts in corsetology, favor, so you can throw away those pins with confidence, and leave the duct tape and all your worries in the screwdriver drawer.
"We're freshly married. We'd like a suite, please." "Bridal?" "No, I think I'll just hang onto his ears until I get used to it."
And the Clarinet Polka on hammered dulcimer.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
MITCH CLOGG: My sister Sandra Clogg Mitchell (we pronounced the “a” like the au in “laundry”), age 88, died of kidney failure at a Maryland hospice yesterday morning. Her two kids, Kimberleigh and Mitch, were with her. (Nobody ever called my nephew by his given name “Walter”; it was always “Mitch”.)
If dogs and cats were so disposed, there would be a great lament. Sandra dedicated much of her life to animal welfare and worked for years at a nearby no-kill animal shelter.
Sandra was smart as hell and had a barbed wit. You didn’t mess with her if you were easily intimidated. She could be outrageous fun. She and her “Irish twin” sister Judy (both born in the same year) had an apparently oppositional relation (often faked) that was polished over the years and hilarious to watch.
Sandra’s middle name was “Belle,” and gave rise, when she was young and hot looking, to “Slinky Belle.” Her looks, wiles and personality netted her the catch of the year when she married Walt Mitchell, the six-foot-four star of the Johns Hopkins University lacrosse team, the world’s best. They had just married when four members of the Clogg family drowned. Sandra never wept. She was a tough customer, her father’s daughter.
Sandra, Judy and I were the first wave of Clogg kids. Then there was a six-year interval before the second wave appeared with my brother Judsan and kid sister, Chanel. Sandra, Judy and I discovered a dead lightning bug—or firefly, if you prefer. Though dead, its light still glowed. It seemed to us a brave and sad little bug. Everybody likes lightning bugs. We decided to give it a funeral. We said solemn words (me, say, three or four, Judy five or six, Sandra seven or eight). We prepared a grave. It was all tongue in cheek, we thought. Humor, irony, satire and all the qualities of mockery and teasing were inbred in us. In my house they were survival mechanisms, because somebody was always on your case.
Thing was, we tripped ourselves up. The piteous things we said in mock praise and sorrow over the glowy corpse stirred genuine sadness, and we three grieved the lightning bug. Tears, blubbering? I can’t remember. For sure there was the tightening of throats and the constricted voices of grief, impossible to hide when you’re little.
I wish I could remember more. The Cloggs were not demonstrative (to a fault!). How we three absorbed and dispersed that tragedy I wish I could remember. We must have been a little sheepish, embarrassed and awkward. Real sorrow was the last thing we had in mind.
As for not being demonstrative, the word “love” was taboo in our house except in regard to inanimate objects. We loved Ocean City, summer vacation and Hershey bars. We didn’t love each other. We didn’t hug. We three were wartime babies, each of us born before World War Two. Soft sentiments were sidelined “for the duration.” Eleanor observed a meeting of Sandra and me after ten or more years of not seeing each other. We said hello, standing facing each other, arms at our sides. At that time I had been in California long enough to have somewhat got over this resistance, to have learned to accept and even return the “cheap California hug,” as it is sometimes called when people hug despite the lack of any genuine fondness.
Sandra stayed tough. She had two kids, Mitch and Kimberleigh, who were not as steely as she. Her husband, Walt, was a person of more normal feelings and expression. When I joined the army, Walt drove me to the induction center at Fort Holabird, Maryland. He felt bad for me, regret and sympathy quite evident in his voice. It seemed slightly odd to me, since I had volunteered, but I enjoyed the humanity of his feelings. I was not used to them. Poor Walt! I wonder what it took to get a rise out of Sandra.
Sandra’s friends felt honored. She didn’t extend her regard readily. People felt privileged to know her. She wasn’t cold, but you had to know what passed for friendship and warmth with her. It always involved laughter. Her sense of humor abided.
I never heard Sandra utter a lie.
None of this applies to her relation with animals. She was kind, responsible, self-sacrificing and affectionate with them.
I have never known another person who resembled Sandra Belle Clogg Mitchell in the slightest.
SKY RIVER CASINO
by William J. Hughes
In the casinos, Indian casinos. Is that an oxymoron? I guess I wish it was an oxymoron. But what do I know about Indian affairs, the affairs of Indians?
The Sky River Indian Casino on Highway 99 South in Elk Grove just south of Sacramento. Got a friend who has to play roulette. I can do without any of it, but my friend and I had just come from almost 3,000 miles together through Nevada, Idaho, Montana and North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah, without incident, with my friend's required stop in the Indian casino on the Wind River Reservation in Lander, Wyoming (Shoshone and Arapaho and Sacajawea). So I can't and won't object to a day trip to the Sky River Indian casino for roulette.
Ever been on a reservation, on the rez? Not so good. I've been on the Pine Ridge (Wounded Knee), Mikasoukee in Florida and the Wind River Reservation. All rough around the edges and centers, meaning we are both wondering where and what all the casino money actually goes to. But I am a white man trying to fathom the native world.
The Sky River Casino has replaced a failed shopping mall. I guess some suburbian Elk Grove just didn't explode fast enough. I would pass that abandoned mall on my way south to Los Angeles.
Wilton Rancheria tribe. Long way from the pre-gold rush world of the California natives.
The old and the crippled stand out. Asians, Mexicans, rednecks, hacky sackers, makeup, sporty hombres. Vast is the first impression, parking lots like airports. Sterile is the second impression, just some shopping mall cement blocks turned casino. It's a Tuesday afternoon and the parking lot quadrant we are in is filling up.
Vast interior, oases of bars and televised sports — what's it like on the weekends, plenty of folks on a Tuesday afternoon, all types of casino employees prowling the gaming floor, checking on things, lots of Asian/Americans staffing the tables. Why do I mention that? Is there an actual cliche reality to Asians and gambling? Young ladies with trays of drinks, red carpeted gauche, seen one, seen them all. Vegas of course. Just more bells and whistles. Not a native in sight.
Losers, throwing their money away in hopes of the big payday. I feel ashamed for the tribes and the human race. No separation in here from the blaring slots and the pool table green blackjack and roulette tables, some dignity, some James Bondy flavor here — should be a separate room at least. My friend seated at the roulette table. I have no idea how it works, but he's a man of numbers and gadgets and is intent on beating the house. I sit and twiddle my indifferent indignation, groups of gamblers doing selfie photos of each other. They can smoke. I kind of like that, gives the plush carpeted place some sense of atmospheric history.
There is no mystery. My friend lost $165 of his $200 grub stake. Of course, there are steaks and prime rib and the like, like dining in an airline terminal. I guess there is the requisite buffet, but we ain't stickin' around long enough to find out. Out into the better hair.
Epilogue: Propositions 26 and 27 were on last November's statewide ballot: legalizing sports betting. Should we break some of the tribes' monopoly on legal sports betting or divide up the spoils among other tribes? No and no on both — no legal sports betting period? Surprising. How we have come to natives and betting on sports is anyone's guess. Certainly not mine.
GRANDPA'S WEATHER GAGE
Hard for some to comprehend it’s just weather, ain’t it?
Grandpa's Weather Station Instructions:
Stick yer head out the door
Iffen yer hair gits messed up, it’s windy
Iffen yer hair gits wet, it’s rainin’
Iffen yer head gits hot, it’s sunny
Iffen yer head don’t feel nuffin’, it’s cloudy
Iffen yer head gits cold ‘n feels like grit is peltin’ ya, its hailin’
If sumfin’ warm and wet hits yer head, a bird probably backed one out on ya
Iffen sumfin’ cold ‘n wet hits yer head it’s snowin’
If ya kin see yer shadow, it’s daytime or a full moon or yer granny left the porch light on
If ya cain’t see yer shadow, it’s night time or there’s onadem ‘clipses
FARMER AFTER A SHOPPING TRIP, RETURNING TO SKYLINE FARMS
Skyline Farms was one of almost a hundred experimental communities established by New Deal agencies. The chosen homesteaders at Skyline were unemployed with deep roots in northeastern Alabama. They were men between 30 and 45 with farm experience, an accommodating family of “appropriate size…” (seven on average), “…and of good stamina.” Eighty percent of the adults were illiterate.
The 200 selected families each cleared 40-60 acres and helped construct community facilities as well as their own homes, using local wood and stone. Each home included a barn and hen house, a well, and a smokehouse. On the 4th of July 1936, a regional New Deal official addressed a large picnic celebration at the site. He was quoted as saying, “… on this mountain, you have an opportunity to make a living, …to educate your children and to improve your own education, …to develop a new community whose future lies in the hands of you and your children, a special and privileged opportunity in the marketplace.”
IF TRANSWOMEN ARE WOMEN, WHAT IS A WOMAN?
by Sophie Allen
We are often asked to believe that transwomen are women. Many people are happy to accept this claim but those who disagree are treated to ridicule or abuse until most dare not speak up. As a philosopher, this worries me. We should be able to question the truth of any claim without causing offence, but I cannot imagine that I will get away lightly from doing so here.
In this piece, I argue that those who think that it is true that transwomen are women do not have a coherent, unequivocal definition of ‘woman’, and thus whatever they do understand by the term should not form the basis of legislation. In brief, if we say that being a woman has nothing to do with having female biology, as is required by accepting that transwomen are women, then there are three unattractive options: (1) being a woman is essentially tied to traditional social stereotypes of what being a woman involves; (2) there is no difference between women or men, or a large number of people are both or neither; or, (3) it is impossible to tell whether someone is a woman or not. None of these three options is a workable definition of ‘woman’ and yet, if we remove external checks on which male-bodied people are permitted to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate and thereby legally become women under a new version of the UK Gender Recognition Act, the law will be committed to at least one of these three options. As a philosopher, I find it profoundly worrying that the law could be based on such an incoherent definition; at the very least, the application process for a Gender Recognition Certificate should retain the requirement for medical and/or legal approval to lend some credence to the process, although there are problems even with this option.
These definitional difficulties disappear if we admit biological sex as a determining factor of whether someone is a woman. This may still permit some transexuals with severe dysphoria to count as women (if there turns out to be a biological basis for their condition which could be verified), and it is still consistent with insisting that people who regard themselves as transgender should be able to live their lives free of discrimination and abuse.
I would like to emphasise that I have repeatedly asked trans activists who are in favour of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act to provide me with a definition of ‘woman’, or an account of what a woman is, which does not fall foul of my criticisms below. But I have yet to be given any except ones which fall under the unacceptable options (1), (2) and (3).
What’s the problem with transactivism’s understanding(s) of ‘woman’?
(For simplicity, I will mainly use ‘woman’ as my example. But the argument would equally apply to what counts as a man.)
First, it is important to make clear the distinction between biological sex and gender. Part of the acrimony of the debate about the GRA arises because there are different views about what sex and gender are, but currently the law respects this distinction (Gender Recognition Act 2004, Equality Act 2010), so let us start from there. With this in mind, we can use ‘female’/ ‘male’ to pick out the sex of individuals and ‘woman’/‘man’ to classify their gender. It is claimed (by transgender people and those who support them) that the gender to which transgender people belong does not match the biological sex to which they belong, or (in more extreme versions of the theory) that biological sex does not in fact exist or that sex is non-biological and determined by gender. In all these cases, a person’s gender is independent of their biological sex: being female is irrelevant to being a woman. But, once one divorces gender from biological sex like this, it is very difficult to see what the gender categories man and woman are. Either being a woman is associated with gender roles, social roles and behaviour which women typically perform, or it is based on something internal to a person, the feeling of being a woman, perhaps.
1) If we accept the former account of womanhood which considers performing certain womanly gender roles as determining who is a woman, this makes being a woman depend upon a stereotype of femininity such as wearing dresses and make-up, nurturing, rearing children, being emotional and so on. This version of womanhood is regressive, since it is based on a stereotype which females have fought against for centuries now, and would often regard as being imposed upon them rather than being intrinsic to their nature.
It is also deeply implausible: engaging in stereotypically feminine behaviour cannot be sufficient to count as a woman, since this would imply that females who break with feminine stereotypes and engage in stereotypically manly behaviour are not women but men. A definition of ‘woman’ which makes many females transgender regardless of how they feel about it themselves is clearly untenable.
2) If we broaden the account of womanhood based on gender roles to say that the categories woman and man are not anchored to the traditional, mutually-exclusive stereotypical roles, then the distinction between women and men disappears. This broader view ditches the traditional restrictive stereotypes and allows that men and women can do anything the other does; but then one can legitimately ask where the difference between them lies. If a woman and a man can engage in exactly the same roles and types of behaviour, and yet performance of that role is what determines the difference between them, then there is no difference between them. (Remember: biology can’t be used here if one thinks that people can be transgender at all.)
3) Given that outward manifestations of behaviour or the performance of social roles does not determine what a woman is, we now turn to accounts which assert that gender is based upon something internal to the individual; a deeply held feeling or conviction that one is ‘in the wrong body’ or that one is a woman (although male-bodied). This version of the definition invites philosophical questions about what this ‘feeling’ is and how we can accurately determine whether it is present.
The biological basis for this feeling is extremely controversial: there are no notable differences between male brains and female brains except size, for instance; and the equivocal evidence which indicates apparent differences between trans women and non-trans males is only seen in those with gender dysphoria severe enough to seek hormone treatment and full surgery, people who are already covered by the GRA 2004. We could allow that it is possible that there is a biological basis for feelings of being transgender in such people, and thus will exclude them from the discussion. But these pre-and post-op transexuals are now a minority in the transgender community, which leaves a large number of transgender people who are not dysphoric with no biological basis for their condition. This presents some serious problems: What is this feeling based upon if it is not biological? Why do people seem to lack this feeling if they are not transgender? How is it different to being convinced one is a dog, or had a past life, or is younger than one’s true age?
(The belief that one is an animal is not particularly uncommon among children, but we do not affirm that they are a different species.)
It is extremely unwise to accept any and every individual’s affirmation that they are transgender without further evidence. First, there are good philosophical reasons based in the work of Wittgenstein to think that the criteria for kind membership must be public to be meaningful: ‘woman’ has no meaning if it can mean different things to different individuals in virtue of private, subjective feelings when no-one has a way to ascertain whether the feelings reported by different people are of the same type. Second, as I have shown in research on human kinds, an individual’s affirmation that he or she belongs to a certain kind, or has a certain condition, is unreliable: some individuals say this to deliberately mislead, while others hold a genuine belief about being of a certain kind when they are not of that kind. Social pressures, the environment, and the attitudes of peers and others can influence someone to accidentally self-identify as a group to which they do not belong. People may sincerely believe that they are of that kind, and if accepted into the group, their conviction may strengthen as other people treat them as belonging; in the case of gender identity, they may sincerely believe that they are women and this believe will gain credence if others confirm it, even if they are not. (The fairytale of The Emperor’s New Clothes is relevant here.) Furthermore, other male-bodied people may deliberately self-identify as women in order to gain access to women-only spaces.
This situation presents difficulties both legally and philosophically: eligibility for a GRC should not be made available to everyone who claims to have a subjective feeling that they are a woman. On this account, anyone who says they are a woman would count as a woman, and that seems both dangerous to females and absurd. To avoid these consequences, it is important to retain some gate-keeping procedure which determines whether someone is eligible to change gender or not.
However, even this medical or legal gate-keeping is problematic. In the case of people who believe themselves to have diseases or psychiatric disorders, it is possible to observe and diagnose fairly reliably on the basis of symptoms, and to rule out those who are mistakenly affirming that they have a particular condition. But as we have seen above it is impossible to characterise what a woman is on the basis of gender roles and how an individual acts without relying upon out-dated stereotypes of woman which many women would reject. Thus, unlike in the case of other kinds which humans belong to, there is no external, observable evidence that a male-bodied person is really a woman.
None of the available options (1), (2), (3), or combinations of these, gives a workable account of what a woman is which is not tied to traditional gender stereotypes. There is no feminist way to understand what a woman is in such as a way that it could be true that transwomen are women.
Which alternatives remain at this point? We either need to bring biology back into the picture, so that being a woman depends upon being female (crucially, this does not amount to the gender essentialist thesis that being female determines that one follows traditional feminine stereotypes, but amounts to accepting that womanhood is a version of (2) plus female biology), or we need to be done with gender entirely and say that ‘woman’ picks out neither a natural nor a socially constructed kind. But if we accept this latter view, females still need the protections afforded them in the Equality Act 2010: in the absence of any definition of ‘woman’, women-only spaces would have to become female-only spaces in order to provide the present protection for female adults and children.
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 13TH JANUARY
There have been conflicting reports for days about who controls the small eastern town of Soledar, which has taken on outsize attention as Moscow seeks a victory.
A Russian victory in Soledar would be a symbolic win but have limited strategic value, analysts say.
The show goes on at Kyiv’s National Opera and Ballet Theater, but with some wartime changes.
A worldwide recession might be averted, the I.M.F. chief says, but the war in Ukraine is a caveat.
The Pentagon says ‘systemic problems’ in the Russian Army led to its military shake-up.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that its troops had captured the eastern salt-mining town of Soledar, a claim quickly rejected by Ukraine’s military, which said that its soldiers were hanging on.
After a string of setbacks for Russia, capturing Soledar would represent the biggest success for Moscow’s forces in months, though military analysts have cautioned that the small town is of limited strategic value.
The battle has put into sharp relief Russia’s costly and grinding offensive in eastern Ukraine as it attempts to take the nearby city of Bakhmut, part of its goal of controlling the entire Donbas region. Although seizing Soledar is not expected to quickly change the battle in the east, it would give Moscow’s forces new locations to place artillery, with the potential to partially encircle Bakhmut from the north, and it could put pressure on Ukrainian supply lines that run toward the city.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday that its troops had “completed” their capture of the town overnight. But Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukrainian troops in the east, denied that Soledar had been captured, saying that Russia was “dispersing information noise.”
“This is not true,” Mr. Cherevaty said in remarks to Ukrainian news outlets on Friday afternoon. “The fighting is ongoing.”
Russian forces in the area far outnumber the Ukrainian forces who remain, according to people familiar with the matter on the Ukrainian side in the Donbas region. They said the fighting was fierce and that resupply efforts were hindered by heavy Russian tank fire.
Over the past several days there have been conflicting reports about who controls Soledar, where hundreds of civilians are trapped in a town that has largely been reduced to rubble. This week, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, which is fighting for Russia in Ukraine, claimed that his fighters had seized control of the town. Ukraine denied the reports, and the Kremlin walked back the assertion at the time.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in its statement on Friday that Soledar was “of great importance for continuing successful offensive operations” in the Donbas region.
Military analysts say that even if Soledar were to fall, it would not necessarily mean that Bakhmut — or the whole of the Donbas — is next.
THE SAVAGE RESERVATION
by Paul Kingsnorth
…Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World was published in 1931, almost a century ago. Along with Orwell’s 1984, it is the most famous English dystopia of the 20th century. Both books envisage an oppressive future of big government, high-tech surveillance and the intimate management and control of mass populations, but the difference between the way they are managed explains why Orwell’s dystopia now looks antiquated and Huxley’s looks at least partly prophetic. The author explained the difference himself in his 1958 non-fiction sequel Brave New World Revisited:
The society described in 1984 is a society controlled almost exclusively by punishment and the fear of punishment. In the imaginary world of my own fable punishment is infrequent and generally mild. The nearly perfect control exercised by the government is achieved by systematic reinforcement of desirable behaviour, by many kinds of nearly non-violent manipulation, both physical and psychological, and by genetic standardisation.
To read Brave New World in 2023 is an interesting experience. In one sense the book is very much of its time, in its technological descriptions, its social tapestry and its political concerns: overpopulation, eugenics, Soviet-style dictatorships. But its broad prophecy was eerily incisive in two particular areas: the intrusive power of technology, and the promotion of pleasure as a means of social control.
In Orwell’s 1984, sex for pleasure is forbidden: the book’s protagonist, Winston Smith, precipitates his downfall by illicitly sleeping with a woman. In Brave New World, by contrast, sex is openly promoted as a public good. ‘As political and economic freedom diminishes’, notes Huxley prophetically in the novel’s 1946 foreword, ‘sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase.’ In the Brave New World children of seven are trained in ‘erotic play’, and marriage and family life are not so much forbidden as mostly just forgotten: notions of lifelong intimate relationships or of home life are demonised from birth by state propaganda. Instead ‘everyone belongs to everyone’: sex is a distraction and a sedative, alongside the official drug soma, taken willingly by everyone everywhere as a means of preventing loneliness, discontent or any thought of sedition.
Advanced technology – or what was thought of as advanced technology in 1931 – makes all of this possible. In the Brave New World people ‘love their servitude and will never dream of revolution’, precisely because they don’t see it as servitude. They are trained through pleasure to adjust to a world to which, by rights, no human should be adjusted. In the author’s words:
These millions of normally abnormal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they are fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish ‘the illusion of individuality’, but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualised. Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity.
Orwell’s vision of the future was ‘a boot stamping on a human face forever’, but Huxley recognised that this kind of brute tyranny never lasts. If people know they are being brutalised and terrorised by their rulers they will, in the end, rise up somehow. Oppressive regimes are as old as civilisation. ‘Over-organised’ technological societies, on the other hand, governed by a state/corporate elite interested in ‘total efficiency’, guided by science and with the means of streaming mass messaging into many brains at once (through a fun, absorbing and endlessly distracting networked technology like, say, the Internet) have potentially limitless power. ‘There seems to be no good reason’, wrote Huxley, ‘why a thoroughly scientific dictatorship should ever be overthrown.’
Are we living, today, in a ‘thoroughly scientific dictatorship’, characterised by ruthless efficiency and total control? Well, no. We are controlled mostly by clumsy nation-states led by visionless corporate drones who can barely ensure that the hospitals or the roads stay open. But I don’t think this should distract us from the direction of travel. Huxley’s fear of an all-powerful state apparatus, Soviet or fascist-style, may seem very 1930s, but his overall vision is as contemporary as could be:
Meanwhile impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organisations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulating, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.
Sound familiar? The 2020s are giving us a foretaste of a near future in which, again in Huxley’s words, ‘permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government.’ The intimate links between government, the few tech companies which now control much of our information flow, globalist actors like the WEF, EU, IMF and endless ‘NGOs’ funded by unaccountable billionaires, and vast transnational corporations has created an unprecedented locus of global power. Meanwhile, the rapid onrush of technologies which interfere with our understanding of reality itself, from deepfakes to AI chatbots, is creating a new sensory world. This is what I have been calling The Machine, and it is heading towards the kind of globalised Total System that Huxley envisaged nearly a hundred years ago.
This Total System is evolving to deal with the ‘permanent crisis’ created by Machine modernity, whether that crisis manifests as a globalised virus, a changing climate or social or ecological breakdown. Whatever the crisis, the deepening of the Total System will be the answer, and any dissenters - conspiracy theorists endangering public safety – will receive little sympathy, either from the authorities or from the masses who have been whipped up into fearful, blame-seeking online mobs. We can already see the framework emerging that is making this possible: we saw it tested worldwide during the pandemic. Ever-tightening restrictions on certain kinds of speech and assembly; smartphone-enabled ‘health passports’ and ‘track-and-trace’ apps; state-issued digital currencies; cash-free economies; widespread surveillance by facial recognition camera; access points controlled by eyeball or fingerprint scan; Artificial Intelligence accelerating in capacity and use. Daily the net is being drawn tighter.
What, then, can you do? If you wanted to act on this knowledge – on this century-old prophecy – how would you go about it? Huxley, asking this question in Brave New World Revisited six decades ago, went right for the jugular:
At this point we find ourselves confronted by a very disquieting question: Do we really wish to act upon our knowledge? Does a majority of the population think it worth while to take a good deal of trouble, in order to halt and, if possible, reverse the current drift toward totalitarian control of everything?
I think we know the answer. No, most of us do not wish to act, whether we have the knowledge or not, at least partly because of the very premise that Huxley himself wove into the core of his novel: that control disguised as leisure doesn’t look like control. Your Amazon Alexa might be recording your private conversations, your smartphone might be tracking all your movements, that company that traced your family ancestry might now have your childrens’ genetic code in their databanks forever, that convenient card purchase might be walking you towards a social credit system, that fun session with ChatGPT might be giving rise to a sentient algorithm – but, well, whatever. It’s fun or easy or I’m busy and what’s all the fuss about? Everyone else is doing it. It’s good. It’s progress. Think of the potential. There’s no stopping it anyway. You should probably calm down. You’re starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.
No, we are not going to change the direction of travel through some kind of ‘movement’ or through concerted mass action, and if ever that is tried it will likely end up in the abyss to which all such movements have previously led. The Total System cannot be overthrown because, like the Hydra, it has no head, no heart and no centre, and because we feed it daily and - whisper it - we like it. Setting yourself up against it directly would be like standing before a tank: it would roll over you without even noticing.
This is not to say that it will last forever: nothing does. What will do for it in the end will be nature itself. The Machine is an extractive monster, and hungry: it needs vast amounts of metals, energy, oil and more just to keep humming, and despite what some might fondly pretend to believe, these things are limited and the Earth has its own life and sentience. The Machine will, in the end, break down because it has set itself up against reality itself. It will fail because it is built on a lie.
But until it does, it is here and accelerating. And as our culture’s attempt to save Progress from its own inbuilt contradictions becomes more desperate, so we can expect the Total System to clamp down more brutally; so we can expect human freedom to become harder and harder to obtain. ‘There was a choice,’ one character tells his audience in Brave New World, explaining how the World State came about, ‘between World Control and destruction.’ There are a lot of people who think this way now. When the choice is presented to us in this way, there is in reality no choice at all.
What, then, are we to do?
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked this question over the years. If an obsession with the world’s problems led inevitably to an ability to solve them, I’d have solved them all by now. Instead, I have come to think that the question is misguided. In the face of the Total System, the question ‘what can we do?’ seems beside the point. A question I like better is: where is the escape hatch?
In Brave New World, the counterpoint to the World System is the Savage Reservation. Inspired by his friend D. H. Lawrence to visit New Mexico, Huxley drew on what he saw there to paint a picture of an as-yet-free area of humans living outside the controlled and monitored pleasure dome of the World System. Here people still breed, still marry, still get sick and die. Interestingly, the section of Brave New World which describes the Savage Reservation is where the writing really comes alive. Much of the rest of the book reads like journalism or philosophical debate, but the New Mexico chapters sing with blood and thunder. Perhaps this is because Huxley is writing about imperfection. The Savage Reservation is not romanticised: there is sickness there, and early death, there is racism and exile and mob punishment and sacrifices to strange gods. But there is also love and wild nature and companionship and ritual and starlight in the wild places at night under heaven’s inexplicable dome. Everything that the World State cannot allow.
But all of it is fenced in.
‘To touch the fence is instant death,’ pronounced the Warden solemnly. ‘There is no escape from a Savage Reservation.’
The World State cannot contain anything unpredictable, which is why its denizens must be correctly bred and trained. Outside still exists – the wild places and wild people – but the fence between the two must be zealously guarded; and heavily electrified. At one point in the novel, the Controller, one of ten who keep the World State running, explains that there was once a rebellion against it. People worked out that the system required endless consumption in order to function, so they decided to subvert it by refusing to consume.
Conscientious objection on an enormous scale. Anything not to consume. Back to nature.
The World State dealt with the protesters by shooting them down: this was before it had really perfected control-through-pleasure. A movement which refused consumption and embraced limits, explained the Controller, presented an existential danger. ‘Industrial civilisation is only possible when there’s no self-denial’, he explains. It must pursue ‘self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics.’ It must also ensure that peoples’ time is taken up with so much leisure that they have no interest in pursuing anything more meaningful, and for the same reason. ‘Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning’, he says. ‘Truth and beauty can’t.’ As for old obsessions like religion: that is left to the Savages. There is probably a God, thinks the Controller, but the system cannot allow people to think about it. The disruption, the instability, would be too great.
God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice.
But if Brave New World points us towards the emerging Total System, it also points us towards the alternative. The alternative has always been the same, for millennia, across the world. The alternative is self-denial. It is living within limits, refusing to consume for the Machine, refusing to give the Total System what it wants. It is planting your feet on the ground, living modestly, refusing technology that will enslave you in the name of freedom. It is building a life in which you can see the stars and taste the air. It is to live on the margins, in your home or in your heart: to scatter the pattern. It is to speak truth and try to live it, to set your boundaries and refuse to step over them. It is to be a conscientious objector to the Machine.
You will never do this perfectly, and you should never try. This is not a puritan endeavour. It is a rebellion: a mode of existence-as-resistance. It is hard and messy and ongoing and to even begin it is a victory. To do it alone is a deep achievement; to do it with others, to build a community around it if you can, may help. To understand the nature of the Total System, and then to do what you can in your own life to resist it, and refuse to feed it: this is the work. See it as a crusade to ‘save the world’ and you are doomed; nothing so bombastic can ever be within our power. But see it as an escape hatch and maybe you can begin to reclaim some measure of human freedom.
Enter the Savage Reservation. Climb the fence, and enter it in your heart and in your life. Walk away; refuse; reclaim the power to say no. Find or build or plant a nature reserve so full of thickets that no camera can penetrate. Retreat to resist. You will not stop the turning of the wheels. You cannot prevent what is in motion. But you can retain your humanity. What matters more?
Nature always wins. God is not mocked. You are on the right side.
In Brave New World, the one Savage who escapes the Reservation and enters the System comes face to face with the World Controller, Mustapha Mond. A cultured and empathic man, Mond maintains the system because he sees no alternative if widespread suffering is to be prevented. The Savage, though, can spot the open trap. He can see that without suffering - without limits - there can be no humanity at all. He can see that the only alternative to the World System – to an eternal slavery built on the fear of the well-intentioned - is to refuse the Machine, and embrace the mess of being human again.
‘But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.’
In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you're claiming the right to be unhappy.’
‘All right then,’ said the Savage defiantly, ‘I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.’
‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.’ There was a long silence.
‘I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last.
Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. ‘You're welcome,’ he said.