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Off the Record (November 9, 2023)


Oaky Joe’s letter, “Hyper Regulation Coming Soon to Mendo,” captures the current zeitgeist quite well! I’m proud to have met Oaky. His personal story, cannabis saving his life from alcohol, is priceless! 

SPOTTED AN INTERESTING ad for the North Cliff Hotel, promising “elegance in Fort Bragg.” What's refreshing about Fort Bragg is its absence of  faux elegance. The Coast reader who sent along the ad also wondered how the compact 14x16 North Cliff rooms could accommodate “in-room hot tubs and an in-room fireplace,” which is handier than a campfire on the open-air hallway, certainly. Maybe the fireplace heats the hot tub which also serves as the hot water heater which also serves as the jacuzzi who might be an old Italian guy blowing bubbles up through the floor to give the old works old world authenticity.

I KNOW that language is more flexible than ever these days, but a motel, as I recall, is the kind of place where you park in front of your room, walk into an office where one of five million Patels takes your money and gives you the key to… you never know what, perhaps next door to fat bikers with no teeth and skinny blonde women with no teeth named Krystal and Tonya are cooking crank, which happened to me once in Garberville. At a hotel, by contrast, this entire process is indoors and the people next door are snorting cocaine, not processing it.

SPEAKING OF MOTELS, my friend Joe Paff told me that an old beatnik he knew always refused to sleep in motels because the idea of lying on a bed whose thousands of previous occupants had left their thousands of various dreams behind kept him awake. 

DIRECTLY below the ad for the North Cliff Hotel and its hot tubs, is a smaller and more sedate pitch for “The Stanford Inn By The Sea,” a much larger Coast motel but owned by liberals, which accounts for it having “extraordinary ocean views” instead of the “views of the ocean” offered by the North Cliff.

THE NORTH CLIFF does offer unimpeded ocean vistas, but if you can see the Pacific from a room at the Stanford Inn you must be agile enough to climb up on the roof to see the ocean from anywhere on the premises. 

THE STANFORD also offers “vegetarian dining” for $40. “Vegetarian meals” at the less pretentious Coast venues gets you a foot-high platter of lettuce and bean sprouts for ten bucks. At the Stanford you also get “full breakfasts, cooked to order,” which seems to mean if you order the Denver omelet you won’t get a cheeseburger. 

WHILE THE NORTH CLIFF promises “elegance in Fort Bragg,” a self-cancelling and undesirable promise, The Stanford Inn By The Sea (a half mile from the sea as the gull flies) guarantees a lot more than a cot and a hot. “For those who wish to experience the quintessence of luxury on the Mendocino Coast,” the ad says. Even without the qualifier “Mendocino Coast,” which narrows the competition to exactly one establishment between downtown San Francisco and downtown Portland — the Heritage House — it can nevertheless be said that for a hundred bucks (and way up) you can get yourself a nice room at a whole lot of Fort Bragg motels and nice meals at a whole bunch of Coast eating places where you're unlikely to meet the kind of people looking for quintessences.

SLO LEARNER. Early this summer, I made a mistake identical to one I’d made in May of 1990; I tried to drive the big empty space from Willits to Fort Bragg on the Sherwood Road or, as the Gradgrinds who name things for the County call it, Road 311. No cautionary signs were posted at either end of the 30-mile road warning the unwary and the imprudent that the Fort Bragg end of the road is impassable to all but 4-wheel drives. 

I GOT ALL the way to the Fort Bragg end when mud bogs and five-foot ruts caused me to turn back for Willits. Attempting to turn around, I managed to get my vehicle stuck. Ten years ago I got my truck stuck in a huge rut, probably the same one, That time I hiked into Fort Bragg, borrowed a hundred bucks from my reluctant sister-in-law, found a kid with a winch on the front of his pick-up lounging in front of the Tip Top, and persuaded him to haul me out for the cash. 

THIS SECOND TIME I hiked out of the Sherwood wilderness at about 3pm, and I can report that the vast clearcuts are mostly overgrown with blue blossom or ceonothus. “Good for the soil,” an enviro friend assured me. I reached the paved Sherwood in about an hour. The three cars that passed me waved merrily but did not stop to ask me if I wanted a lift into town. One, containing two middle-aged women, seemed to recognize me, accounting for their instant acceleration. 

THE FOURTH vehicle I flagged down stopped. The kid at the wheel said, “We’ve been following you for miles. I can’t believe you’re this far down already.” Flattered, and not caring if the four young persons stuffed in the battered, big wheel Toyota were bandits or cannibals or both, I heaved my sweaty bulk into the back seat, clumsily shoving the two young guys over to make room for myself but apologizing for my unintended aggression. 

I IDENTIFIED MYSELF. “You aren’t one of those corporate asshole newspaper guys are you?” I took another look at the kid driving. A media sophisticate? No, I assured him. I own the little paper in Boonville. “Boonville has a paper?” His passengers took no more notice of me than they would any other object, animate or otherwise, occupying the confined space with them. 

THE DRIVER dropped his passengers off at a jolly little house in Fort Bragg where cases of beer and groceries were being carried onto the premises by young women. He said he’d pull me out for “a consideration,” which I thought was the most discreet remark I’d ever heard in all my years in Mendocino County. The driver told another kid to get in the truck. The driver didn’t tell the kid who I was or what we were doing but the kid hopped right in. We roared back up Sherwood Road. 

THE DRIVER popped a tape into the vehicle's theater-quality sound system. After several rap stanzas having to do with murdering people, the driver turned to me, a huge grin on his face, and said. “It’s about the LA riots. I was there. It was great. The cops were scared shitless.” We careened on. Where the pavement ends and the impassable ruts begin, the driver told me, “Buckle up and hold on.” 

NO EXAGGERATION, he roared through the ruts at an average 40 mph. My head bounced off the ceiling of the truck a half-dozen times. I was astounded. I had no idea certain vehicles could negotiate terrain like this. “You should do commercials for Toyota,” I yelled. “This is amazing. Do you always drive like this?” He looked at me, as if hearing the dumbest question ever. In no time at all we were at my marooned vehicle.

THE DRIVER ordered the kid to climb under my truck (and into the mud) with a piece of chain. The kid obeyed immediately, practically diving into the muck. In 30 seconds I was out. The driver told me how to take an alternate route in the backroad maze of inner Sherwood and soon I was in Fort Bragg via the little beauty spot called Glen Blair. Just before Glen Blair another old beatnik came driving up in a Subaru. My rescuer told him that “for a consideration” he’d lead him to an alternative route and the security of a paved path to Fort Bragg. He obviously made a nice side income pulling the unwary off Sherwood Road.

JEFF BLANKFORT: Beginning next August 15 in Chicago, the morally bankrupt Democrat Party will be holding its quadrennial presidential convention in which it plans to re-nominate for a second term the world's leading war monger and the bankroller of Israel's genocidal war against the people of Palestine, Loathsome Joe Biden.

It is essential that people supporting justice for Palestine be in the streets of Chicago that week as I and others were in 1968 to prevent the morally bankrupt convention delegates from again foisting Biden on a world that deserves better. This is the time to begin talking up a week of mass protests in Chicago's streets that will mark a return to justice that has long been missing from the political charades that pass as "democracy" in the United States.


George Dorner Writes: “I’m sure I’m not the only reader who has lost track of the wrongful termination suits against the county. How about a “scorecard” article giving brief coverage of all those suits pending against the county? Maybe even a list of links to previous cases.”

MS REPLIES: There are four wrongful termination cases pending against Mendocino County at the moment, as far as I know. Former Ag Commissioner Harindar Grewal, Former Public Health Director Barbara Howe, former Probation Officer Amanda Carley and a former Board Clerk whose name escapes me at the moment. Last we heard Grewal’s case is still pending. He is no longer represented by Duncan James/Doug Losak and has gone pro per, and his trial date has been pushed further and further out as settlement conferences come and go. We have lost track of the Barbara Howe case because it went into federal court where it’s hard to find even minimal info. The Amanda Carley case, where she says she was wrongly put on the Brady List and subsequently couldn’t carry a gun as part of her Probation Officer job, and then was forced to resign from Probation is still pending as well. The Board clerk’s (discrimination?) case went to federal court as well. As far as we know all these cases are being handled on the Mendo side by outside law firms, not in-house County attorneys. We do not have the time or resources to research the detailed status. It would be nice if those involved or their attorneys would keep us informed, but in general these lawyers don’t make many public statements and they advise their clients to keep mum. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions have been spent by Mendo on outside attorneys in these cases which, we gather, is covered by the County’s general liability insurance. Eventually the rates will go up, of course. But that typically takes years and is also hard to follow.

THE LATE JUDY PRUDEN was the second to last person who cared about Ukiah enough to actively oppose the town's worst architectural impulses. Tommy Wayne Kramer survives and cares enough to complain about our county seat's most egregious offenses. Ukiah city manager, Seldom Seen Sage Sangiacomo, — he's in when he's out, out when he's in — makes ten times the prevailing pauper wage of Mendocino County with little evidence Ukiah is in fact managed. I remember when the redoubtable Ms. Pruden, under the auspices of the County Museum, led a series of historical walking tours of Ukiah. Tour #1 bore the optimistic title “Developing Downtown,” from the railroad depot west into downtown. Pruden promised “a full hour of entertaining insights on Ukiah’s economic and social development.” No one like her since. 

AN ACQUAINTANCE told me recently that the problem of the very poor in the world is unsolvable because there are too many poor people and “there are limits to our resources.” “There’s plenty of money in the world,” I replied, “it’s just badly distributed.” “What do you mean?” she asked. I remembered that a US News & World Report article said that the equivalent of the US Gross National Product was exchanged in world financial markets every three days — completely unregulated — adding, “All we’d have to do is skim a little of that off.” “How much?” she asked. I didn’t know. Meanwhile a UN report was released which said that everyone in the world living below the poverty line (according to local standards of poverty) could be brought up to the poverty line (minimum housing, food, clothes) for about $50 billion a year. Since the US annual Gross National Product is around $8.1 trillion, that would be $1 quadrillion per year. Therefore, $50 billion per year would be only about .005% of the world’s annual financial transactions. Who’d be against a .005% transaction tax on global finance? 

AN OLDER OLD TIMER wrote in to say that the persecution of Chamise Cubbison by the Mendo supervisors acting on behalf of a vengeful DA whose dubious reimbursement claims the scrupulous Ms. Cubbison had challenged, reminded him of the famous War of the Warrants involving the late, great, Oscar Klee. 

KLEE was an aggressive populist whose tenure on the board of supervisors and as judge of the Ten Mile Court was stormy, to say the least. A logger handy with his fists in his youth, Klee was one fisted after a logging accident severed one of his arms. An autodidact, Klee studied law on his own and became a justice court judge. He was eventually imprisoned for tax evasion, which really wasn't evasion because Klee had fought the IRS up front on what he considered principle, and lost. And then there was the famous War of the Warrants, circa 1960, during which Klee and his Ukiah-based adversaries attempted to arrest one another.

A FEW YEARS later, Klee commenced a full-on deadbeat assault as the first hippies arrived and began gaming the welfare system.

A 1963 CASE that outraged then-supervisor Klee featured a pair of female chiropractors named Mary Jane Reed and Ella W. Rocks, who'd moved to Fort Bragg from Oakland and almost immediately applied for welfare because they said they couldn't find work. The County quickly agreed to pay their rent, utilities and threw in ten bucks a week for groceries but soon discovered the ladies had considerable resources, enough anyway to buy a lot and qualify for a loan to build a house, which they said they intended as a care home of some kind. The back and forth on the matter is delicious. Welfare director Kussow said in defense of the chiro-paupers, "They have no money." Supervisor Klee thundered back, "Neither do I. If such a policy is continued we'll soon have 100,000 people in Mendocino County." I couldn't find the outcome of the case, and if anybody out there happens to remember it, please write in.

BACK IN 1996 the late Fifth District Supervisor Joe Scaramella remembered the War of the Warrants this way:

“The worst political blunder that I ever pulled, among many I must say, was making a martyr of Oscar Klee. That was a blunder of the first magnitude. That’s what ended up being called “the "war of the warrants." The history of that to the extent that I am aware… Of course there were a lot of undercurrents. But what happened basically was that Oscar thought that he was a lawyer. And here again is that admonition that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. He made a budget request for his own set of sanitation codes and it was piddling, $198 or something, and he put it in the budget. Hell, he didn't need a bunch of those sanitation codes. All he really needed was a copy of the penal code; you could get the others from the departments. Anyway, Harold Bainbridge, Oscar’s political opponent in the Fourth District, figured he shouldn't have those code books, and I figured he shouldn't have them. So that story assumed national notoriety by the fact that the books were not approved in the budget. We allowed him some books, but not as much as he wanted. So he exercised his judicial powers and ordered the rest of the books anyhow. Then he asked the county to pay for them. And it was legally technically permissible. Even now a superior court judge could do that. Hell, they're a law unto themselves. So they did it. They got the books. Well, that made me damn mad. It made the rest of the board mad. So we said, ‘OK, we'll fix that really quick. You want the books? You'll pay for them.’ So we reduced his salary to pay for the books. And that started the war of the warrants. There was a flurry of warrants back and forth in the courts. The warrants came up because of things that were being done regarding those code books. There was a man in Anderson Valley, a prominent man, his name was Judge Maurice Tyndall. He was Oscar's associate. Between the two of them, they'd always dream up something. The ‘war of the warrants’ involved the District Attorney. The board wasn't involved at that point. The damn District Attorney was a man by the name of Frank Peterson who had been a superior court judge in Del Norte County. That's where the ‘war of the warrants’ came on. There was this big talk of ‘comitatus’ something or other. That was bad. It was horrible. Oscar Klee could have been such a potent force for good in Mendocino County, but he blew it. He blew it! He wound up going to federal prison. I don't recall what that was for. Taxes, maybe. The problem with Oscar was his inherent laziness. That would result in his not being able to perform. When you accused him of being lazy he'd get violent and angry and fire back and try to justify his own neglect. It was just... really nothing. Christ! He had the skill and the ability. He could have been right at the top. He could have done it. I know he could have done it.”

WORDS OF WISDOM from Shari Prange of Bonny Doon: “Any biologist can tell you that the human animal evolved to be an omnivore — it’s natural for us. Vegetarianism isn’t. In fact, when small children are placed on vegan diets, they run a real danger of getting full and stopping eating before they can consume enough vegetable matter to provide sufficient calcium for their growing bones. If anyone else wants to be a vegetarian, they’re welcome to do so. But as for me, I didn’t claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat tofu.” 

A SOUTH BAY READER sends along this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Unrighteous war is a hideous evil; but I am not at all sure that it is a worse evil than business unrighteousness.”

 “ISRAEL must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians,” the Secretary of State said. “It means food, medicine and water and other assistance must flow into Gaza and to the areas people need them. It means civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way. It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes.” Secretary of State Blinken of the Biden administration whose green light to the Israelis has created what amounts to an all-out attack on all the people of Gaza. Of all the repellent, shocking events of recent years this one takes the grand prize for crimes against humanity. Yes, yes, Hamas started it, but retaliation on a whole nation of people is a proportionate response?

DAN WALTERS, CALMATTERS: “A year after his budget surplus boasting, Newsom presented a 2023-24 budget that dealt with a projected $31.5 billion deficit. Since its passage in June, revenues have continued to fall below estimates, which means a continuing gap between income and outgo. Budget mavens in the governor’s Department of Finance and the Legislature are now anxiously awaiting revenue totals from this year’s much-delayed income tax filings to see whether the deficit will continue to grow. Personal and corporate income taxes account for more than 75% of the state’s general fund revenues. … The cascade of money from Washington D.C. played a major role in generating the brief surge in income and income taxes that was mistakenly extrapolated into a longer-term expansion. It also, incidentally, was a significant factor in the living cost inflation that followed.”

MARSHALL NEWMAN WRITES: Regarding the Ed Note, Israel. When Hamas invaded Israel, killed its citizens, committed atrocities and took Israelis hostage on October 7, it lost all rights to dictate the terms of the consequent battle.

Indeed, civilian casualties in Gaza were an element in the calculus Hamas considered before launching its invasion of Israel. Hamas knew Israel would immediately respond, and it counted on death and destruction in Gaza to rally world support. It probably did not expect the level of death, destruction and suffering Gaza is now experiencing, but the blame is theirs to own.

Yes, Gazans deserve a better fate. But having given Hamas free rein to govern since 2006, they bear significant responsibility for their situation. Israel can be a partner in peace, as seen in the negotiated agreements between it and Egypt and between it and Jordan. But Israel is an implacable foe in war. Hamas knew this and chose war.

I AGREE PARTLY, MARSHALL, but as it's turned out, and continues to turn out, Israel, in return for the savage attack on its civilian population, is bombing, round-the-clock, 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in an area roughly the size of the Anderson Valley. It isn't right, and it's wildly disproportionate to Hamas's atrocities of October 7th. Frantz Fanon said it all. “The colonized person is a persecuted person who constantly dreams of becoming the persecutor. Good is what hurts the enemy the most.” That's where we are vis a vis Israel and the Palestinians. I don't get the impression that many Americans appreciate how this widening war imperils the rest of the world, but there's no sign that a cease fire, or even a brief pause in the fighting to establish humanitarian supply lines to the Palestinians, as Hezbollah, a much more formidable army than anything Hamas can muster, begins its assaults on Israel from the north.

VINNIE was the first name of a postal distribution specialist in the East Bay who was trying to figure out why there are some unexplained delays in the delivery of AVAs addressed to that area a few years ago. He had called to get the details about how the papers were dispatched out of Boonville. Vinnie asked for the correct spelling of my name for future follow-up. “Scaramella…” Vinnie paused, thinking out loud to himself. “Scaramella?… Didn’t Molieré base the character Valére in his play ‘Tartuffe the Imposter’ on a 17th century Italian named Scaramella?” 

“I don’t know,” I replied, utterly mystified. (How the hell would I know?) “Sounds like a research project,” I replied. 

“Oh, well,” continued Vinnie. “Just something I seem to remember. I’m getting old.” 

The AVA’s resident literary historian, The Editor, correctly identified Moliere as the writer of Tartuffe but immediately declared, with unnecessary haughtiness it seemed to me, that “Scaramouche was as close as the Scaramellas had gotten to world lit so far as I know.” 

A quick internet search indicates that Molieré did indeed adapt Italian plays for the French theater when he first started writing plays in French. But how would you go about researching Vinnie’s casual mention any further? Any ideas out there? Vinnie just may be the most literate postal employee in the country and by gum he deserves some research help here! Or does the whole thing have something to do with the “imposter” part of the title of the play? Could the delivery delays have something to do with Vinnie’s extensive reading? Hmmm…?

(Mark Scaramella)

THE CHRON ran an unusually silly piece a couple of weeks ago about how coyotes have been spotted in Marin County parks, greatly alarming the dog people. The story was illustrated by a large photo of a matronly anthropomorph throwing a stick into a stream-fed pond for her medium-size dog to retrieve. A clear-thinking man named Christopher Panton wrote in to complain: “A dog owner throwing sticks into a stream for her blundering dog is just the kind of beneficial stimulus that our precious wildlife habitats need. The scene epitomizes the fact that ‘urban park’ is a classic oxymoron. There is no way we can encourage this type of irresponsible behavior and expect wildlife to thrive. As for the coyotes, if they can pick off free-running dogs in these so-called natural areas, then more power to them. And if coyotes can also take down the occasional mountain biker, then statues celebrating this resourceful canine should be erected all over the state!”

FROM “A Boy’s Life” by JoAnn Wypijewski. 

It’s about a lot more than the beating death of Matthew Shepard by a pair of Wyoming homophobes,” it gets right to the insane heart of male hetero American culture. As Wypijewski puts it, “It’s just possible that Matthew Shepard didn’t die because he was gay; he died because Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson are straight.” The author quotes an anonymous friend of McKinney she calls Brent Jones:

“If you’re telling your feelings, you’re kind of a wuss.” Brent Jones, a heterosexual who went to high school with McKinney and Henderson, was guiding me through the psychic terrain of a boy’s life.

“So what do you do when things hurt?”

“That’s why God created whiskey, don’t you think? You get drunker than a pig and hope it drains away — or you go home and cry.”

“Is that true for most guys, do you think?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“So secretly you’re all wusses, and you know you’re wusses, but you can’t let anyone know, even though you all know you know.”

“You could say that.”

“Can you talk to girls about this stuff?”

“Unless you know this is the one — like, you’re going to get married, and then you’re in so deep you can’t help yourself — but if not, if you think she might break up with you, then no, because she might tell someone, and then it gets around, and then everyone thinks you’re a wuss. And you don’t want people to think you’re a wuss, unless you are a wuss, and then you know you’re a wuss, and then it doesn’t matter.”

RECOMMENDED READING: A fine essay by Francine Prose on the substitution of pop psychology and social probs (with multicultural chasers) for literature in high school curricula is called, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read.” The nut of her case is that the platitudinous prose of the Alice Walker, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou type has replaced the more complicated, or as they say in academe, “nuanced,” stories of Mark Twain or, say, James Baldwin. Prose calls the Walker-Angelou oeuvre “manipulative melodramas.” She had a hard time even finding out what passes for literature classes these days in the high schools because of what she describes as the “paranoia” with which her requests were met by the public school apparatus. But when she’d gathered up the data about what was being taught and not taught in the national English department, Ms. Prose discovered that literature was basically a sub-division of Multi-Culture Inc., with Angelou’s weepy simplemindedness dominating the reading list and Mark Twain, in those school districts where the old boy still makes the cut, is regarded as your basic retro White Man beyond all hope of rehabilitation from the “racist” state he’s fallen into. (Huckleberry Finn is banned by quite a number of school districts because of its “racism.” And the Kansas school declared that evolution is no longer a mandatory part of the jayhawk curricula because evolutionary processes are not visible and thus unverifiable. By that standard Kansas may as well toss history too; after all, who ever saw Plato? The idea that some literature is better than other literature, and the difference is both in the telling and the integrity of the tale, has been tossed in favor of talk-show morality tales of the To Kill A Mockingbird type.

I REMEMBER when a lit critic named Vince Passaro said that Hemingway was dumb and witless and that Rick Moody, Denis Johnson, David Foster Wallace, and Lorrie Moore were smart and witty. “His anti-intellectualism,” Passaro said about Hemingway, “perfectly American and perfectly tuned to the needs of an ever-less-educated reading public, meshed well with his own marked lack of intelligence.”

RICK MOODY is unreadable, Denis Johnson, who lived in Boonville for a short time, has his moments, David Foster Wallace's fiction is unreadable, his essays very good, and Lorrie Moore really is smart and funny. That these writers are even mentioned in the same breath as Hemingway, though, is blasphemous. Anybody who can read ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ and say that the guy who wrote it is stupid, is, well, stupid. 


[1] Global depopulation is indeed multifaceted and modern warfare is the most effective method of depop. You’ve got the explosions and gun-fire itself and then a deluge of trickle-down effects like disease and localized anarchy. The Four Horsemen have finished their breakfast.

[2] I conduct my life on the assumption that there is an immaterial world from which we came and to which we return, and that there are higher powers to which we’re ultimately answerable.

I don’t think we’re meant to solve these seemingly impossible and unsolvable situations. We’re meant to try to live in a cruel and unfair world in as honest, useful, kind and honorable way as we’re able. It’s, as my mother used to say, not a game you can win but, rather, a test of character.

Perhaps my perception is entirely wrong (though obviously I don’t think so), but it works well as a template for the effort to lead a moral life.

[3] No one is going to change a person’s mind as to the goings-on in the Middle East. If you are anti-Israel, you will still be anti-Israel after this is over, one way or the other. If you are pro-Israel, you will remain pro-Israel. Therefore, I will not waste any more of my remaining limited time on Earth getting involved in these types of discussions unless someone really, really irks me a lot. Even then, maybe not.

All I can do in my own little world is to try to set things up to protect myself and my loved ones as best I can against the coming conflict in America.

Just fyi, if you don’t already know, I am pro-Israel, but as long as it doesn’t affect my quotidian life I will remain out of it.

[4] Yesterday I had a sneezing fit. I blamed the leaf mold in the air from all the dead and decaying leaves on the ground around here. My wife disagreed and said she saw a jet flying over in the morning spraying chemicals. the plane was kinda low, about 25,000 feet I guessed. I do live near an airport but it does seem mighty suspicious. I wish they would stop flying over my house.

[5] I’ve read that Hamas has installed 300 miles of tunnels under the Gaza Strip. Some as deep as 200 feet. Amazing. My state built 2-3 miles of tunnels under Boston and it cost 22 billion dollars and took 25 years from design to completion. After completion the leaks and falling ceiling have been a problem. Good ol’ USA grift and huge cost overuns. Those Hamas guys must be the best civil engineers on Earth. Israel says the only way to dislodge the terrorists is to bomb the living shit out of the place.

[6] The root of the problem is standard time. Like all things regulated and standardized, it’s a system meant to serve all and in the end serving all poorly. Prior to the railroads and the telegraph, local time prevailed.

Wherever you were, when the sun reached its zenith, that was noon.

For the railroads, this presented an insurmountable data handling problem. Not just train arrivals and departures had to be constantly adjusted, but the schedules for throwing switches along the lines had to be meticulously maintained lest Casey Jones find himself barreling towards another train, “on the wrong track and headed for you.” The Brits solved the problem by putting their entire country on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). The U.S. followed in 1881, establishing the four standard time zones we use today.

Since the standard time zones correspond (with variations for, uh, political reasons) to longitude, each time zone begins on an even multiple of 15 degrees West of Greenwich. If you happen to live on the Eastern edge of a given time zone, the sun rises a full hour earlier for you than for someone living on the same zone’s Western edge.

Along came the human tragedy we called The Great War. The need for shifting resource usage from civilian to military in order to feed the great slaughter led first Germany, and then the other combatants to adopt an idea that had been bouncing around but failing to gain traction: DST (Daylight Savings Time). The underlying theory of DST is that by making a seasonal adjustment to the time, the amount of fuel used by an urban population of factory workers is reduced.

Eliminating DST is a start to addressing “Sunshine and happiness”. Of course how much or little that helps depends on where you happen to live inside your time zone. Given the amount of data handling technology available today, a better idea might be to return to local time.

[7] Used to be that both coaches joined with their players in a group prayer before the game: “Keep us safe, O Lord, and give us victory!” Poor God, He’s gonna have to piss off half his supporters no matter what decision he reaches.

[8] You can’t keep relentlessly adding to populations and expect everyone to remain peaceful. It begins to go against instincts to self-preservation. It dilutes the “rights” of all until nothing substantial’s left and the scraps are contested. “We should all be able to just get along” is just going to ring hollower and hollower from here on out, as bills of twentieth/early-twenty-first-century extravagance come due, peak industrial “quality of life” is passed and decay sets in.

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