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MCT: Monday, October 14, 2019

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MILD AND DRY conditions will continue Monday and Tuesday, with patchy frost expected in interior valleys and early morning marine clouds along parts of the coast. Widespread light rain is expected Wednesday, with cool and occasionally showery conditions expected for the remainder of the week. (National Weather Service)

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QUAKE WATCH: 2.0 quake at 5:34am this morning 2.8 miles east of Boonville off Highway 253.

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Delightful, elegant, attractive and appealing—Apple is a lover! She’s easy to leash up and walk. During her photo shoot, she was friendly and a real charmer. And talk about cute! Apple’s currently spending time at a great foster home where she lives with 6 other dogs. She was initially shy, but has made good progress. Apple is crate trained, housebroken, knows “sit,” and is working on other obedience skills, and she has good indoor skills.

Apple is a 2 year old, spayed female, mixed breed dog who currently weighs 55 svelte pounds.There's lots lots more on Apple's webpage:

The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah. Our dog and cat kennel hours have changed. Please visit our website for the new hours, and information about our guests, services, programs and events

For more information about adoptions call 707-467-6453.

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ART IN THE HILLS. The last time I was in the Signal Ridge neighborhood I was looking for "the world's smallest cow," which was said to be a bi-product of a small herd at a Hindu temple at the end of the incongruously-named Panorama Drive. I say 'incongruous' because you're bouncing up a dirt road deep in the hills west of Philo with nary a road sign to be seen and suddenly there's a suburban metal job that could just as well read, "Golf Course Lane" but proclaims Panorama Drive. I found the cow that day. It was small alright, but the hari-hari krishna architecture and grounds, derived from ancient Indian designs, and incongruously placed in the rural hills of the vast Anderson Valley, was and is worth the trip up from the Valley floor, as was Sunday's journey to Nancy Macleod's and Bill Allen's art house, a straw bale house built by its owners with a little help from their friends and finished with stucco mud from their hillside property.

IT REALLY is an art house in the literal sense, from the straw bale bones of the home itself to the colorful objects d'art placed throughout its two stories, most of them the talented Nancy's work, with each room its own gallery. I've never seen anything like it, and daresay there isn't anything like it, at least in Mendocino County even with its large population of artists. If you couldn't make it during their open house, wrangle yourself an invitation. You won't be disappointed. (895-3134 /

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"LIVING UNDOCUMENTED" is a Netflix production that tells the stories of eight undocumented families whose lives are either destroyed or otherwise made precarious by the cruelly arbitrary policies of the INS and ICE. Prior to Orange Man, deportation efforts were pretty much confined to criminals. Now, even persons who've lived here so long they know no other country are subject to peremptory removal. Watching this painful series I thought, "Yeah, there are a lot of mean, stupid bastards among my fellow citizens, but when did we start putting them in charge?" Well, from the beginning, actually, but these ICE people are a true gestapo-like bureaucracy. You'd have to be a nazi-oriented individual to jerk the husbands and wives out of their long-time American homes, leaving their families to fend for themselves. The film is certainly pertinent to Mendocino County where several thousand undocumented persons do the grunt work of this self-certified progressive jurisdiction. Here in Anderson Valley, over the recent past, rumors that ICE was about to raid us meant children kept out of school and people forced into hiding until the scare passed, not that it ever does, especially under the present regime.

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‘My Front Fence’
‘My Back Yard’

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Re: Can Mendo Salvage its Failed Pot Permit Program?

"[Ted] Williams’s motion passed 4-1, with Hascak dissenting.”

This is supervisor Ted Williams’ first, big, political mistake: satellite, pot surveillance for Mendocino County. Even though I’m not growing dope, I don’t want county employee voyeurs, the sheriff’s department, or McCowen and Williams snooping in my backyard without a warrant from a judge while I’m walking about swilling beer in the buff with a bevy of tarts. Warrantless searches are NOT standard American legal practice. What’s next? Unmanned drone suppression—Williams and McCowen at the video screen and joystick firing rockets at my chicken coup?

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Mendocino County residents displayed calm and resilience last week during a multi-day power shut down by PG&E. By the end of the second full day, we had seen no major incidents and people seemed to be taking the whole thing in stride.

Of course having the power on in the city of Ukiah helped a lot. People were able to go to work in the most populous inland area and most schools were able to stay open. People living outside the city in outage areas were able to go into the city and shop, eat, or just hang out in lighted areas. The community resources center set up by PG&E was a good idea but it turns out very few people seemed to need it.

While PG&E initially implied that the outage would be over by Thursday, it wasn’t. Only the “weather event” was over by then and residents had to suffer through more power outage as PG&E inspected lines before turning them back on. A two-day outage is something almost anyone can weather without too much trouble. Frozen goods will stay frozen, refrigerated goods can survive with a little ice. A three or four-day event is something else. As of this writing Friday evening, 69% of Mendocino County households had power back on but PG&E was still saying a four-day shut down will be reality for some. Even at three days anyone with a freezer full of food could lose it all. At four days it’s likely. Add to the frustration the fact that few areas actually experienced the winds PG&E was basing its power event upon.

We feel sorry for the local businesses which went several days without power and refrigeration. They will suffer losses that will not be easy to take, especially for the smallest of them. We think the State of California, which has given PG&E a huge pass in the wake of the fires its equipment caused in the past should have a program to reimburse local businesses. After all, while residents can cut down on food storage when an outage is announced, restaurants and stores that carry perishables cannot always do that. They shouldn’t have to take it on the chin.

We also think that instead of this shut-it-down policy, PG&E should be required to spend the money to upgrade all its equipment, even in the remotest rural areas, to automatic shutoff at the transformer if winds blow a line down. That would eliminate the need for these “preventative” power shutdowns. The technology is there and it’s just a matter of using it. PG&E won’t do it because they would rather the money went to their shareholders. PG&E’s notoriously unmaintained power line system is why thousands of people in California lost millions of dollars of food and business this week. Don’t let their “we’re just doing this for your safety” line fool you. It’s still all about them.

However, let’s all remember that the line workers, the folks in the blue trucks roaming your neighborhoods and back roads are not at fault here. They are just doing their jobs. If you want to complain, write your state representatives and the Governor. They’re the ones who have allowed PG&E to skate away from the liability over the wildfires caused by their equipment and frankly we are beginning to think that for-profit utilities are no longer a good idea. Clearly serving the public is not their first priority.

(K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

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by Jim Shields

Have no doubts about the real cause of PG&Es so-called Public Safety Power Shutoff program that has left over half-million Californians without electricity this past week.

The reason has nothing to do with global warming, climate change, or a new norm of monstrous wildfires, as PG&E officials like to claim.

Theres only one reason and a single culprit to blame.

As I’ve written here before, the evidence is clear and unambiguous that the utility giant spent nearly a decade in stonewalling the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on its maintenance program.

For the better part of a decade, all three of California’s monopoly-utilities PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric colluded to stall the states effort to map where their power lines present the highest risk for wildfires, an initiative that critics say could have forced PG&E to strengthen power poles and bolster maintenance efforts well before the last three years of conflagrations that resulted in hundreds of deaths and record-setting destruction of property and natural resources.

Twelve years ago, state officials began working to tighten regulations on the utilities and create the detailed maps after wind-toppled electrical lines ignited catastrophic fires in the San Diego area. But a whole decade later, the state Public Utilities Commission which initiated the process still hadn’t finished the maps, let alone adopted strict new regulations. All of those statutes and regulations have been coming on the books after-the-fact in the wake of the historically horrific wildfires of 2017 and 2018.

A review of the mapping project by the Bay Area News Group showed that utilities had repeatedly asked to slow down the effort and argued as recently as 2017 literally just a few days prior to the Wine Country Fires that, as PG&E put it, certain proposed regulations would add unnecessary costs to construction and maintenance projects in rural areas.

For unfathomable reasons, in October of 2017, two CPUC administrative law judges assigned to oversee the mapping-maintenance project, granted yet another delay at the request of PG&E and other utilities.

Clearly, the public watchdog that the CPUC is supposed to be, instead enabled PG&E to continue to thumb its nose at its statutory obligations to the public safety and weve all seen whats occurred in the past two years with seemingly the whole state engulfed in fires from one end to the other.

Now PG&E is in U.S. Bankruptcy Court arguing that it is fighting for its corporate life. This past Wednesday, in the midst of a power blackout for 500,000 PG&E customers, Judge Dennis Montali issued a surprise order that left PG&E wide open for a hostile takeover by strange bedfellows: a Wall Street hedge fund group that has partnered up with fire victims of the 2017 Wine Country fires and the 2018 Camp Fire.

According to a Sacramento Bee report, Until now, PG&E had the exclusive right until the end of November to forge ahead with its reorganization plan. But Montali was persuaded by the bondholders recent alliance with lawyers for tens of thousands of Northern California wildfire victims.

The bondholders have offered victims of the 2017 wine country fires and last Novembers Camp Fire about $14.5 billion for damages not covered by insurance. That’s about $6 billion more than PG&E offered the fire victims. Both sides have agreed to pay insurance companies $11 billion for the settlements they’ve made with policyholders.

The partnership with the fire victims, who are sympathetic players in the PG&E drama, gives the bondholders a major advantage.

Montali, at a lengthy hearing Monday, seemed reluctant to allow the bondholders to move ahead with their plan, saying the fight could lead to extensive litigation that could delay payments to fire victims. But he decided ultimately that he wouldn’t second-guess the informed decision of the bondholders and fire victims lawyers to team up.

The company had argued that it couldn’t match the bondholders offer to fire victims without solid evidence of the size of the damages. It added that, under bankruptcy law, it couldn’t risk over-paying the fire victims at the expense of another group of creditors: its own shareholders. It also accused the bondholders, led by hedge fund Elliott Management, of trying to grab the company on the cheap.

The bondholders and fire victims, however, said PG&E was simply trying to protect its shareholders at all costs. If the bondholders succeed, they would control the company and wipe out the investments of current shareholders.

Ironic isn’t it, that these fire victims may finally find some justice where their interests will outweigh the interests of PG&E and its shareholders.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observers editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program This and That every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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Certainly the inconvenience of a power outage is better than a wildfire, but an unnecessary power outage is really inexcusable.

The reason cited was high fire danger due to high winds, but the outage started with essentially no wind at all and none predicted for another 24 hours or more, if then. So, for no valid reason, businesses could not do business, traffic lights were out and traffic was snarled, schools were closed, people with medical problems who depend on electrical equipment needed to make other plans, and depending on the length of the outage, people may have incurred expensive food spoilages.

It would seem that with current technology PG&E should be able to monitor wind conditions by the minute and by locale. It should have the ability to make selective outages with much more “surgical precision” and save a lot of preventable hardship. The current approach is somewhat like giving chemotherapy prior to getting cancer.

I hope PG&E receives enough negative feedback to be more considerate in the future, since more of these events are predicted.

Leland Davis

Santa Rosa

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“…The Intercept has identified even more money spent by PG&E on lobbyists and image-makers, including previously unreported filings made public through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings that began in January. Hill & Knowlton Strategies, a major public relations firm, billed PG&E for work conducted last year that cost $43,395 for services provided that November. The invoice sent to the firm notes that Hill & Knowlton executives Joe Householder, a former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton, and Ron Hutcheson, a former reporter, were billed at a rate of $750 an hour. The invoice notes that the public relations work was done in connection with legal services provided by Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a law firm that represents PG&E.…” … “Earlier this year, I reported that Teneo Strategy, a public relations firm, was also providing services to PG&E in the aftermath of the Camp Fire wildfires. The company, founded by Doug Band, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, had billed PG&E for $550,000 after the fires. Teneo is no longer providing services to the company. … PG&E’s political sway is legendary in California. The company has enlisted top lobbyists and retained a veritable who’s who of influential former lawmakers and politicians on its payroll, including former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. During the gubernatorial race last year, the company donated over $200,000 to the campaign of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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A SUNDAY PRESS DEMOCRAT EDITORIAL has called for Sonoma County to adopt whistleblower protection rules. Among the reasons cited by the PD, “The state auditor releases an annual report of whistleblower investigations. In just the first half of 2018, the state auditor received nearly 1,100 calls or inquiries from whistleblowers. Thanks to such reports, investigators identified $427,000 in inappropriate expenditures.”

$427,000 divided by 1100 is less than $400 per “inappropriate expenditure.”

The PD said that the whistles were blown on “improper hiring and promotions” and “several state employees who routinely used state vehicles for personal trips.”

THE PD's whistles are silent on its own derelictions and doesn't even bother to report whistleblower episodes north of the Sonoma County line including, for instance, former Mendo Supervisor Kendall Smith's more than $3,000 in “inappropriate expenditures” for personal travel that she never traveled, as uncovered by the County Grand Jury. Nor of the Grand Jury’s repeated finding that former Supervisor David Colfax was paid for personal travel that he couldn’t justify as County business, but the Grand Jury was unable to quantify the amount.

THESE THEFTS of public money were defended by Official Mendocino County in the face of four (4!) successive Grand Jury reports. Nothing was done about Smith’s (or Colfax's) “inappropriate expenditure” until DA David Eyster threatened to prosecute her.

THE PD might offer a whistleblower award to any of its employees who can explain how the paper managed to "lose" a key piece of local history in the famous Lord's Avenger Letter, which took credit for the car bombing of enviro activist, Judi Bari in 1990. The PD worked hand-in-slimy-hand with the FBI during the Bari interlude. And the paper didn't protect its own whistleblowing reporting by Mike Geniella when it removed him from the Northcoast timber beat, probably at the behest of Harry Merlo, the late boss at Louisiana-Pacific. And it'll be a cold day in Haiti when the Press Democrat or, for that matter, says Word One in defense of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Ms. Manning.

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DURING A MEET THE PRESS interview on Sunday, Senator Rand Paul said that a group of Democratic senators needed to be investigated over a letter they sent to Ukraine in 2018 asking questions about Mueller-related investigations. "Both sides seem to be doing the same thing. If you condemn Trump, you need to condemn the Democratic senators,” Paul said. “Everybody is going after President Trump. Someone needs to actually, in an objective way, evaluate a letter from four Democrats that said to Ukraine, if you don’t keep investigating Trump, we will reconsider our bipartisan support for aid. That’s a threat and that’s the same kind of stuff they’re accusing Trump of.”

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THE HAPPY OWLS (1963) Celestino Piatti

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THE MCN CHAT LINE is normally a tedious slog through miles of insults and inane remarks. But once in a while you stumble on something smart and pertinent, such as this little gem from Carol Mattessich:

"To be clear, I wasn’t advocating for anarcho-capitalism, merely pointing out the similarities between capitalist freedom and one definition of anarchy. In my experience, Mendocino is lousy with anarcho-capitalists (aka libertarians) who hate big brother government and the nanny state and revere the “sovereign" individual who is both free and responsible for creating his own reality. It fits neatly with Neoliberalism and Thatcher’s famous “There is no society, only individuals.”

Add to that the worship of the free market which determines all value and has no obstacles as to where and how it operates. The only obligation is to make a profit. The market separates winners from losers, determines who rules and who obeys, turns everything and everyone into commodities, buys governments and uses them as piggy banks, and uses armies to expand its territories and resources, and destroys the environment.

And there you have the capitalist utopia where poverty and inequality are “natural”; and aren’t “we” who can pay the price lucky?

How many times have I heard that government is incompetent and that everything is done better by private enterprise? Apparently, the one task of government free marketers approve is “law and order.” What they mean by that is protection of the propertied from the propertyless. I agree with Daney Dawson’s purpose for government below in our present context; so apparently did Adam Smith. However, it is only the beginning. We can do better.

Marx said the individual may be free but never under conditions of his own making. In other words, there is always society, and no individual is ever free of it, even if he lives in a cave. The human is shaped by a society whether she defines herself in opposition to it or goes along to get along. If the individual is to be truly free, everyone must be truly free. There are no private solutions to political problems.

Anarcho-communism, on the other hand, has a long history with many successes and many failures. The Paris Commune, for example, was a resounding success until the French army shot each and every communard. Whose failure was that? They did not destroy the idea. Because it is commonsense, and the need for it is becoming irrefutable, the new society will be based on cooperation and mutual aid, not competition: “From each according to ability to each according to need.” In other words, people will produce for need, not for profit. Every individual will recognize her “self" interest in the common good.

Another piece of propaganda perpetrated by pseudo science is that the way we are constituted by capitalism is natural, rooted in our dna. Ain’t necessarily so."

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MILDRED ANNE BUTLER Shades of Evening [1904]

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by Malcolm Macdonald

A young attorney, who had hung his shingle in Mendocino's county seat, proved to be the first witness in the history of the courts of the United States to testify while under hypnosis. The same case marked the initial instance in California jurisprudence in which the defense based its case on the accused having been in a hypnotic or somnambulistic state at the time a crime was committed.

The figure at the center of this true tale, along with two of his siblings, attained prominence in Northern California journalistic circles in the final decades of the 19th century. Their lives and careers demonstrate the proximity between triumph and tragedy as well as the power of perseverance.

Generations of the Livernoche family resided in the Pointe-du-Lac region of Quebec throughout the eighteenth century. No documentation exists to suggest a strain of mental illness, no record of somnambulism gone haywire. The apparent predilection toward epilepsy in the family remained unnoticed in the public annals.

What can be noted through census and other data was the name Jean in each generation up until the early 1800s. That changed with the birth of John Livernoche in 1808. The Livernoches subsequently ventured into Wisconsin then New York state, and Vermont. There, a son named John Henry entered the world in 1836. The surname then Anglicized to Livernash.

John Henry Livernash pushed westward to California. He married Margaret Hearen, a native of Ireland and a dozen years his junior. Perhaps the Irish carried the mystical genetics that would play out in the next generation. Witnesses asserted that Margaret Hearen Livernash, by her middle years, behaved in an unsettling manner.

John Henry and Margaret's first child arrived on Valentine's Day, 1866. They named the boy Edward James Livernash. The boy's birth occurred in Calaveras County, but by the time he'd turned twelve the family had moved to San Francisco then Cloverdale and several siblings had entered the fray. Within a couple of years the Livernashes resided in Ukiah with the senior Livernash running a furniture store, much the same business he operated in Cloverdale.

Edward Livernash proved a precocious lad. At fifteen he gained employment as a printer. At sixteen he commenced work, almost single-handed, on his own newspaper in Cloverdale. The editor at the cross-county Sonoma Democrat noted, “The first number of the Pacific Sentinel, a new Democratic paper published in Cloverdale by Edward J. Livernash came to us this week. The editor, although yet a youth, has been one of the Democrat’s most valued correspondents, and from our knowledge of his capabilities we were not surprised to find his paper a breezy eightcolumn, full of news, and gotten up very attractively. The first issue is exceedingly creditable, and we wish for his paper the success that the youthful editor’s pluck and energy deserves.”

The young newspaperman also stumped for national Democratic Party candidates, but seemingly could accept defeat with good cheer if not a unique sense of humor. When his party suffered defeat in a crucial Ohio election, eighteen year old Edward Livernash paraded a hearse through downtown Cloverdale with banners acknowledging the loss.

Apparently the upstart journalist incurred the wrath of some of his competitors. After he left Cloverdale to edit the Sonoma Tribune, the proprietor of the Cloverdale Reveille was anything but sad when the Tribune failed in November 1884. “The Sonoma Tribune, edited by Ed. Livernash, has busted, for the want of support or proper management we know not which… We understand the editor, that was, is now going to study to be a 'President' of this country. The chances are that he will bust at that too, and then go back to his old profession, janitor in a country school house.”

What Edward studied in his spare time often did lead to the political world. He matriculated toward a degree from the Hastings School of Law. In the meantime he had become prominent in the fast-growing Young Men's Institute, a Catholic organization founded in 1883 at St. Joseph's Parish Hall, San Francisco. Its motto: “Pro Deo, Pro Patria,” (For God, For Country). To promote the Young Men's Institute, Livernash began publishing a sixteen page weekly, The Saturday Gazette.

After passing examination, he received his attorney's license on his twenty-first birthday. He also continued campaigning for Democratic candidates. He made speeches in big communities and small, visiting Mendocino City more than once. As soon as he gained admittance to the bar, Edward practiced law in Ukiah, where he also authored several editorials.

Next, he took over publishing and editing the Livermore Herald with assistance from his younger brother, John J. Livernash. In his spare time, Edward served his legal clients in Bay Area courts.

In 1889, five days short of Edward's twenty-third birthday, his father, John Henry Livernash, died at Ukiah. Edward married Jessie Overton two years later. Her father was a wealthy former judge in Santa Rosa. Jessie, a few months Livernash's senior, had previously joined a convent, but her father's protestations convinced her to leave the nunnery. She found Edward Livernash shortly after and their wedding occurred early in 1891. In mid-September of that year, fire destroyed most of the Livermore Herald's office building. The young editor continued publishing out of an Oakland locale.

Scarcely a week after the fire, Edward Livernash was arrested at the ferry terminal by a police sergeant. At the time of apprehension, a Saturday evening, Edward was dressed in women's clothing with his face blackened by cork. At trial in the first days of October, the defendant claimed he'd chosen said gussying up as part of a practical joke he wanted to play on his wife then averred that the outfit played a part in a masquerade ball. In addition, Dr. John W. Robertson testified that Livernash was subject to strange hypnotic conditions.

The Sonoma Democrat, previously friendly to the young journalist, reported the court hearing this way: “E. J. Livernash, who was arrested for masquerading in female attire… was found guilty by Judge Joachimsen, Tuesday, and ordered to appear Wednesday morning for sentence. His honor held that the hypnotic idea was not tenable. That Mr. Livernash, a lawyer and journalist, should array himself in female attire at a hotel and then glide out on the street, take a street car, go to the ferries and purchase a ticket for Livermore… under the pretext that he was going to play a joke on his wife, who lived on California street in this city, was an improbable story. His honor had never been hypnotized save by Prosecuting Attorney Martin Stevens or Attorney J. H. Long, and then he thought that 'paralyzed' would have been the proper word. Therefore be did not believe in such bosh: hence the order. Detective James Rogers recovered a wig worth $4O which Livernash had hired from Goldstein & Cohen on the pretext of using it for a masked ball.”

A writer in the Sacramento Daily Union took a more thorough look at the case in a September 30, 1891 article. “The case of Livernash at San Francisco is a peculiar one, and it is thought will greatly interest scientists. 'He is,' said the doctor, 'one of the most pronounced instances of hypnotism that ever came under my observation. Hypnotism is a thing generally misunderstood. It is a condition of trance, which may be induced by a mesmerist, or be induced by the patient himself, without even the intention of so doing. Sometimes the subject is partially conscious, and sometimes absolutely unconscious as long as the hypnotic trance lasts.'

“The doctor continued, giving a history of Livernash's case since the young man had been under his treatment. When asked if he considered that the prisoner was morally responsible when he dressed himself in woman's clothes on Saturday, the physician replied that, in his professional opinion, Livernash would never have done such a thing if he had been in complete possession of his faculties. He added later that he had never known a man of such peculiar hypnotic temperament as Livernash, although the latter's brother presents a case full of interest to experts. 'The brother,' said the physician, 'was taken with an epileptic fit not long ago, and it required six men to hold him. He acted vindictively toward all six of the men, but when he came out of the fit he had no recollection of what had happened. The next time he had an epileptic fit, however, be remembered perfectly all that happened on the previous occasion, and all his former vindictiveness against the men who had held him was revived. He put a pistol in his pocket and started for this city from Healdsburg with the intention of shooting one of the men who had held him during the former attack. Fortunately he came out of the trance before he found the man. Yet if he had shot him while in that hypnotic trance he would not have been morally responsible.'”

To place this article in historical context, keep in mind that in 1891 Freud had only been specializing his practice in what he called “nervous disorders” for five years. Just seven years before Livernash's case, neuropathologist Theodor Meynert, Freud's teacher, wrote on the title page of his Clinical Treatise on Diseases of the Forebrain, “The historical term for psychiatry, i.e., 'treatment of the soul,' implies more than we can accomplish, and transcends the bounds of accurate scientific investigation."

The Daily Union writer continued, “This is a wholly new view of hypnotism: one that will not be generally accepted by scientists, and that needs better verification than that of one physician. Yet there may be truth in his theory, and it is possible that men may in a trance-like state, self-induced, act in a manner not creditable to the sane. But until there is more light cast upon the Livernash case, the young man must be regarded as subject to fits of insanity. He himself says that he has been the victim of insomnia and somnambulism for a long time, and that he has freely used chloroform to induce sleep and reduce nervousness.”

Sympathy from the Daily Union ended there. Near the conclusion of the article the author stated, “If the theory of Livernash's physician is correct, and he is the victim of self-induced hypnotic states, in which he is at the mercy of his whims, then such a condition is a state of insanity, calling for restraint and treatment, as likewise is that of the brother…”

Livernash was released after paying a fine. His sister, Lizzie, and one of his brothers, John, took it upon themselves to accompany Edward in his travels. On Tuesday, October 29, they staged from Healdsburg to Cloverdale, their old stomping grounds. They arrived in the evening and put up at the United States Hotel.

Not long after all three Livernash siblings had secured separate rooms, Edward left his, strode across the street and made a beeline to the home of Darius Ethridge. A well-to-do man of commerce about seventy years old, Ethridge had done business with Ed Livernash before, so he was not surprised to find him knocking at his door. Livernash arrived with a bottle in one hand and news that he had secured a buyer for Mr. Ethridge's livery stable. The younger man offered a drink from the bottle as a sort of toast, but Ethridge declined. Livernash left the bottle then departed, saying he'd return later with papers to complete the livery stable transaction.

Around 1:30 a.m., Edward arose from his bed, left the hotel again, and walked directly to Ethridge's house. Livernash knocked continually at the front door until Mr. Ethridge eventually roused and let him in. The youthful newspaperman said he wanted to make a cash payment to complete the deal for the livery stable. He pulled $150 from a pocket and counted it out on a table. Next, he produced a contract and asked Ethridge to sign to seal the deal. No sooner had Ethridge signed and looked up, Livernash pulled out two revolvers, pointing them at the older man's face. At the same time he demanded Ethridge make out a will, leaving all his property to Livernash.

Ethridge swiped a hand toward the guns and Livernash fired four times in rapid succession then grabbed the $150 and the contract before running out the door into the night. One bullet passed through the flesh beneath Ethridge's chin, another grazed the edge of his mouth, a third took off a tiny tip of his nose, the fourth apparently missed. Otherwise, he remained healthy enough to walk himself to a nearby doctor's residence to have the wounds dressed.

The doctor telephoned the city marshal, who set out on an immediate manhunt. He didn't have to search far. Half an hour later, the lawman found Livernash locked in his room at the United States Hotel. When arrested he still possessed the two revolvers, one of which had blood splattered on it. The young lawyer and journalist declared, “I am the King of Siam,” to the marshal. “You have no authority over me.”

The Livernash trials and tribulations continue next time.

(More tales of unique yesteryears at

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Abshire, Dungan, Hanover, Lincoln

CHRISTOPHER ABSHIRE, Redwood Valley. Under influence, suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.

PAULINE DUNGAN, Willlits. Burglary, vandalism, criminal threats, resisting.

THOMAS HANOVER JR., Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent. (Frequent Flyer)

EUGENE WINTERHAWK LINCOLN, Covelo. County parole violation.

Lustig, Merrida, Mora, Peters

GOPALA LUSTIG, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance.

TRAVIS MERRIDA, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Paraphernalia.

FRANCISCO MORA, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

ARYLIS PETERS JR., Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, probation revocation.

Ruiz, Sanchez, Smith

BARQUEL RUIZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, community supervistion violation.

ALEXANDER SANCHEZ, Talmage. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

LORRAINE SMITH, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

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While most attention is understandably drawn to the human effects of exposure to glyphosate, the most widely used agriculture chemical in the world today, independent scientists are beginning to look at another alarming effect of the agrochemical — its effect on essential soil nutrients. In a study of the health of soils in the EU, the online journal found that the effects of spraying of glyphosate on the major crops in European agriculture is having disastrous consequences on soil health in addition to killing weeds.

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* * *


One of our illustrious commenters, one that apparently supports the untenable status quo, one that seemingly respects authority such as it is, asks, “In as few words as possible, answer the question, why do I think I’m smarter than 95% of the world’s scientists?”

Speaking for myself, the answer is straight-forward; because I am.

That’s as few words as I can muster. Why this unseemly expression of self-confidence? Because I’m not subject to the scientific community’s particular brand of “group-think”, and I’m not in thrall to campus politics, and a big-money funder hasn’t got me by the balls. And because I’ve accomplished enough in life and in a demanding line of work. Pride goes before the fall? Maybe, but I’ve seen enough howling misjudgments by people that ought to have known better such that I’ve concluded that I can’t do worse.

Don’t underestimate the common sense of the common man. If people draw themselves to a great height and talk down to you, tell them to go fuck themselves. Facility in some brand of logic or knowledge doesn’t confer facility in all of them and it doesn’t preclude blindness to the blindingly obvious.

Take responsibility. Have confidence in yourself. Trust your own eye-balls. Especially trust your own common sense. If something looks crazy, it is. And don’t let some perfesser tell you otherwise.

* * *

* * *


by Frank Bardacke

Thanks to Ken Korach, Kara Tsuboi, Vince Cotroneo, Ray Fosse, Glen Kuiper, and Dallas Braden.

My brother calls in late August. The Oakland As have gone 5-2 on their homestand, and are in a race with the Clevelands and the Tampa Bays for a playoff spot. He wants to know what I think. He is mostly an Astros fan these days because Alex Bregman’s parents are friends of his and he watched Alex play in High School.

“If it weren’t for Trout," I say, “He could be the MVP.”

“His numbers are as good as Trout’s,” he responds, and then proceeds to tick off their comparative batting averages, Home Runs, and RBIs.

After he has proved his point, I ask him if he remembers going to San Diego Padres games with Eddie Erraut when we were kids.

Erraut had been a major league pitcher with the Reds and the Cardinals in the late 40s and early 50s (going 12 and 23), but when he took us to the games in 1954 his major league career was over and he was on the way down, although hoping a good season would earn him a call back up.

In those days, baseball players were not rich celebrities—popular heroes certainly—but paid like skilled construction workers, and often had to work in the off-season, typically selling cars or insurance, as those were ways they could cash in on their status and fame.

Erraut lived around the corner from us in Lemon Grove, a rural, mostly Mexican town that was transitioning to its new life as a suburb of San Diego.

I was 13 and playing Pony League and my brother was 10 and in Little League. We were already big fans.

My father had arranged it. We walked over to Mr. Errauut’s house after breakfast on a weekend day, and sat in the back seat of his car as he drove to the downtown ball park. He ushered us in for free, and we watched batting and infield practice, which I would still like to do, but they rarely open the gates in time any more.

We went twice. Both times he pitched. The first game he was knocked out early, but in an okay mood afterwards. The second game he pitched well, but lost. He also was robbed of a home run with men on base by a reach-over-the-fence catch. He had hit the ball well to no effect.

On the way home, he said, "What is it about you two, are you jinxing me?”

That was it. He never took us again. Baseball players are the most superstitious athletes, as luck is such a big part of the game. You can hit the ball well, for an out, and hit it poorly for a base hit.

The players will tell you, "It all evens out," trying to believe it themselves but they employ all kinds of talismans and go through careful rituals to charm lady luck (she is always feminine; never masculine). Some players won't wash their clothes during a winning streak. Some don't even wash themselves. Jim Palmer ate pancakes before every game; Wade Boggs ate the same dinner at the same time for twenty years. Stan Musial ate two eggs for breakfast, a pancake, and then another egg always in that order. Richie Ashburn slept with his bat. Jason Giambi wore a gold thong (rather than a jock strap) to break out of a slump.

Luck is so crucial to their lives that some players never will say the word just as some Jews will never say the name God. They never count themselves "lucky"; they are merely "fortunate."

On the phone with my brother talking baseball I finally can't resist. "Did I ever tell you about Ted William's eyes?"

"No, Bro, not for the last few weeks anyway".

I ignore that.

"Well, he had great eyesight. That's why the Marines made him a fighter pilot. And he took care of his eyes. Never going to the movies nor reading during a season. Well, there is one thing he did read. If he was sitting in the dugout and someone in the stands was reading a newspaper, he read the visible part of the newspaper to his teammates. Not just the headline, but the whole article. As good as his eyes were, his batting eye was better. He never swung at a bad pitch. One time a rookie pitcher was facing him, and he threw a pitch the umpire called a ball. The pitcher angrily snatched it on the throw back from the catcher, showing his displeasure with the call. When the umpire called the next pitch a ball, the rookie shouted at him. The umpire took off his mask, walked to the front of the batter's box, turned his rump to the mound, and slowly dusted off the plate. Then he turned back to the pitcher, 'Hey Rook, Mister Williams will let you know when it is a strike’.”

The Ted Williams folklore, a well that never goes dry. As Ring Lardner says of one of his ballplayers: “You could talk about him for a week, and not tell the half of it.” Even more remarkable than his eyes was his memory. Which rivaled that of international chess champions. Supposedly, he could tell you the weather, the count, the pitcher, and the pitch of every one of his 512 home runs.

The A's were about to go on a road trip: three games in Houston and three in Arlington against the Texas Rangers and then three in Kansas City. As I recall, they were two behind Cleveland in the "all important" loss column (too complicated to explain) and one behind the Tampa Bay Rays. This is not really a race for the pennant. Houston is way ahead, probably the best team in baseball and going to win the pennant. This is a race for the Wild Card. A race for the best record among second place teams, and if you win it, you get into the playoffs, and a shot at the World Serious (as a Lardner called it), but not so "Serious" anymore as they play it at night so it is no longer a semi-national holiday when people at work and at school listen to the games on the radio.

Pennant races are mythic events. The Dodgers and the Giants in 1951: The Giants thirteen games behind in mid-August, catching the Dodgers and then winning with Bobby Thompson's “shot heard round the world,” and Russ Hodges’ "Pafko to the wall…” The big baseball novels feature them: Lardner's You Know Me Al; Mark Harris’s Bang the Drum Slowly; Roth's The Great American Novel; Malamud's The Natural, which ends with the last pitch of the last game of the season.

But baseball is not really about single games. It is about the season, a game every day, through a slow Summer, a season of ups and downs, slumps and streaks, wins and losses, What's different about a pennant race is that at the end of the season every game and every pitch seems more important (although the players will tell you that games in April count just as much as in September, it doesn’t seem that way, either to them or to us). As I am writing notes at the kitchen table in late September I just heard Ken Kourach say, "So much is riding on every pitch," with such emotion that Julie and I chuckled in appreciation. The long season (now coming to a conclusion) has made the pressure at the end overwhelming, exquisite.

I am an A's fan. Not because of Billy Bean or Michael Lewis, but despite them. Money Ball is an ignorant, disrespectful book and a disservice to Bill James and analytics. James never denigrated old baseball wisdom; working away in the basement of his house on a early home computer, unpaid, unknown, and unrecognized, he discovered new statistical patterns that he added to what baseball people already knew. He never made fun of scouts, people who could see something special in the boy behind the plow, or from watching one at bat. But Michael Lewis presents James to the world as a mathematical genius who proved everybody else wrong. That's not James, that's Lewis (for whom the lone genius who defies conventional wisdom has become his standard trope). And perhaps it is Billy Bean who seems to have conned Lewis the way LaRusso conned George Will, nearly 20 years ago.

But I don’t dislike Bean so much that I refuse to give him credit for the season we had this year. He got us two good starting pitchers (Bailey and Roark) without giving up much, and after the all star game he brought up four rookies (Murphy, Neuse, Puk and Lazaro) from a farm system that he had stacked over the years through some very good trades and signings.

No it wasn’t Moneyball that made me a fan, I was an A's fan when I lived in Berkeley and they were the home team and they are still the home team for me now that I live in Watsonville.

I fill my brother in on the current A's melodrama.

Blake Treinan: last year he was perhaps the best closer in the league. This season he has been inconsistent. He has lost his "command", the sportscasters say. When I was a kid, the word was "control" which meant that the pitcher couldn't throw the ball where he wanted to. “Command,” I believe, adds the idea of dominance to the idea of accuracy. But whatever it is, he seems to have "lost it" and has given up too many leads at the ends of games.

Watching on TV, listing to the radio, talking to friend Jerry Cohen or my kids, I have developed two other theories. One, he is worn out. Last year he pitched in 68 games and 80 often stressful innings, and it was too much. He is tired and he has been nagged by minor injuries all this year. Secondly, I think the hitters have learned to lay off his best pitch, a seeming fast ball that darts down and out of the strike zone at the last moment. When the hitters don’t swing, Blake gets behind and has to deliver a fat pitch or give up a walk. After too many fat pitches or walks in the late innings, the manager, Bob Melvin (always careful of his players’ emotional lives) has slowly replaced Blake with Liam Hendricks, using Treinan earlier in games in less important situations.

Treinan's problems put more pressure on the other relief pitchers, all of whom seem worn out and not as effective as last year. And in this baseball era (with the starters going only six or seven innings) we aren't going to win without good relief pitching.

Khris Davis: he led the league in home runs the last two years and was off to a great start this year. Then in May in an inter-league game in Pittsburg where he was playing left field, he ran down a foul fly, caught it, but banged his right hip in the fence in the process. He sat out the next game, tried to play the next week, and then was put on the injured list, not returning until early June. When he did come back, he couldn't hit. Davis is an unusual power hitter. Most of them generate a lot of their power from their lower bodies, coming out of a slight crouch and pivoting their hips as they swing, getting considerable leverage from their legs up. But Davis doesn't crouch at all, nor turn his hips. He stands straight up at the plate and generates all his power from his arm, wrists, and upper body. But now, starting in June, he has lost his touch. Melvin even said to the press that he didn't seem to be swinging as hard, leading to speculation that he had sprained the muscle above his hip, the oblique, and that he was more hurt than anyone let on.

Whatever the case, his at bats were painful to watch. He lost his sense of the strike zone, swinging at bad pitches, and when he leaned to reach pitches on the outside corner, pitchers threw inside fast balls that he could not react to. He is stoic after his many strike outs. He doesn't complain to the umpires, he doesn't throw his helmet, or break his bat over his knee. He simply turns and walks slope shouldered back to the dugout, where he avoids eye contact with his team mates, quietly takes off his batting gloves, puts them in his helmet, puts his bat and helmet away, and sits down on the bench.

It is a cliche to say that baseball hitters have to learn to live with failure (after all if you fail two out of three times, you still go to the Hall of Fame). But this is ridiculous. Davis is a picture of dejection, day after day, plate after plate appearance, head down, walking back to the dug out, the reigning home run champion, in a devastating slump. The worst moment was in Chicago on August 10th. He comes up with the bases loaded in a tied game with two outs. I am watching on TV in Sacramento. Seth goes into the other room to change his son's diaper, and when he comes out asks what happened.

"Davis struck out on a pitch two feet outside.”

"Oh, the poor guy, he wants it so bad.”

Jurickson Profar: the A's new switch hitting second baseman gets off to a terrible start. Seeming to swing as hard as he can on every pitch, he can't get his average over 200. But even worse, he is inconsistent in the field. He has an erratic arm, and often throws badly to the shortstop on an attempted double play, and on occasion, even throwing badly to the first baseman on a routine grounder. Like Steve Sax of the Dodgers in the 1980's, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with his arm, rather he has what the ball players call, "the yips.” That is, the problem is in his head and he is unable to make a simple play. Like Davis, he is stoic about his failures, rarely demonstratively angry, and has a wonderful grin whenever he makes a good play, a grin so lovely I replay it, not to see the play but to see the light flash across his face.

In the midst of his troubles, the A's bring up Franklin Barretto, and give him the second base job for a while. The A's would like Barretto to succeed as they got him in the John Donaldson trade (Billy Bean's worst) and they have given him a few opportunities over the years. He is a power hitting middle infielder (rare enough) who can turn the double play and doesn't have any current head problems, but he doesn't seem to have a good sense of the strike zone, and in all of his previous chances has been unable to hit major league pitching. He does well for a while, but them flames out and Profar gets his position back. But every time he has to make a throw, my stomach tightens.

Despite these difficulties, the A's have been a pleasure to watch this year. Their shortstop, Marcus Semien, who was born in San Francisco, grew up in Oakland, and went to UC Berkeley, had a great year at bat and in the field. The third baseman, Chapman, and the first baseman, Olson, are wonderful defensive players, delivering one thrill after another.

Chapman, as good as any third baseman I have ever seen going to his left and reminiscent of Brooks Robinson going to his right, has a signature play which might be beyond my powers of description. He takes a grounder off to his left side, puts his glove hand with the ball in it down to the ground to steady himself, pivots on his left foot, spinning completely around, plants his right foot and then throws to the first baseman, Olson. It is the move of a Tai Chi master or a ballet dancer and like all great athletes, he makes it look easy.

Olson has his own signature play. On a pop fly over his head, sometimes fair sometimes foul, he runs with his back to the infield, tracking the ball perfectly so that he and the ball arrive at the same spot at the same time, and then he casually sticks his glove out and catches the ball over his shoulder, much the way Willie Mays caught that ball in the 1954 World Series. Mays’ catch is probably the most famous in baseball history. But what I remember best about it is what he said to the NY sports writer when the scribe asked him to compare the catch to his other great ones. "I don't compare ‘em," Mays answered, "I just catch ‘em.”

The road trip goes well. Davis starts to hit a little. Profar has success throwing the ball to first base on a hop (he even completes a double play with a one hop throw) and Treinan pitches a couple of good clutch innings. We win two out of three in Houston (Davis hits two home runs in one of the games, and is eleven for his last thirty), and then we sweep Texas and Kansas City. When we get home the standings look like this:

A's 90 60

Rays 89 62

Indians 87 63

The road trip also features the return of Ramon Laureano, out since mid August with what is called a sprained lower leg. When the A's put him on the injured list, they said they were being careful because if he continued to play the sprain might develop into a stress-fracture, which could endanger what looks like a promising career. Speed is a big part of Ramon's game, although he also hits for average and power, and has a wonderful throwing arm, one opposing player saying "it comes out of a fairy tale.”

Laureano was born in Santo Domingo and is part of the Dominican diaspora in the US, four hundred of whom played major league baseball.

He doesn't look like a typical speedster. They are often lithe, willowy creatures, whose feet seem to touch the ground only briefly as they glide around the bases. Ramon is powerfully built with thick thighs and large haunches, and he pushes his feet hard into the ground as he runs. It is as if a Clydesdale were as fast as a thoroughbred race horse.

As well as fast, he is an audacious base runner. What I like best is when he hits what ordinarily would be a single to the left or the right of the center fielder, but he is thinking double from the moment he leaves the batter's box, runs hard to first base, rounds first with his head up, checks how close the center fielder is to the ball, and if he is not close enough, continues on to second where he makes a pop up slide, looking to third having already turned a single into a double. The only other player I remember doing that is Pete Rose. But Rose did it arrogantly and truculently and may even have had money on hitting a double that day. Laureano is neither truculent nor arrogant. Underneath his light beard he has a baby face with doleful eyes which seem to ask forgiveness for his audacity.

When the A's activate him, they play him in right field, not his regular position in center field. Melvin explains that in right field he will have more opportunities to use his arm, which is not entirely true (the center fielder has just as many) and to Oakland fans who have just lived through Kevin Durant's ruptured Achillies and Clay Thompson's torn ACL, both of which may have happened because they played when they shouldn't have, the decision to put Ramon in right is ominous. Perhaps they put him there because they don't want him to run too much and risk injuring himself. But if running is dangerous, he shouldn't be playing at all.

A few days after his return the shin gets tested. He is on second base in a one run game with Canha up and Khris Davis on deck. Canha hits a foul pop fly down the first base line, the Ranger’s second baseman, the wonderfully named Venezuelan, Rougned Roberto Odor, runs to the edge of the stands and makes the catch moving away from the infield. If Laureano can tag up and get to third base, he would be there with Davis up and less than two outs, giving the A's a good chance to score the go-ahead run. He breaks for third as Odor sets himself to throw. To my eye, Ramon is laboring, although it may be that I just am paying special attention to the heavy-legged way he runs. In any case, an image of him rolling on the ground holding his leg in pain, the way that Clay did, lingers in my mind for the whole sprint between second and third, and when he makes it safely I fall back onto the couch and breathe deeply. Davis then hits a home run so Laureano didn't have to get to third anyway.

I go to one of the games on the homestand. It is the first game against Texas, Mike Fiers bobble head night. It will be only the second night game I’ve gone to in the last fifty years.

We are coming to the end of this saga, only seven games left, and I will spare you my whole screed against night baseball. Leave it at this: baseball was invented at mid-day picnics by New England farm boys; it is meant to be slow and relaxed, with brief moments of action, kind of like a small town rodeo, not played in a hurry under lights. Only top baseball brass and some TV executives want the game to be shorter, the rest of us are singing the baseball anthem in the seventh inning with particular emphasis on the lyric, “I don’t care if I ever get back.”

Jaime and I are eating dinner before the game, and she asks me if I am concerned about Mike Fiers who will be making his first start since coming out of a game in Houston with “Forearm tightness.” No, I say, he was being hit hard and that’s why they took him out, and I don’t believe the A’s would pitch him with a sore arm, even in a pennant race.

When we arrive at the parking lot next to the Bart station, accross the railroad tracks from the stadium, Jaime asks me, “So you really are not worried about fires?”

“Sure, I‘m worried about fires; The Amazon is burning. India is burning; California has been burning for a few years. I don’t think we are on the edge of extinction, but it is conceivable that capitalism will eat up the world, and make it uninhabitable. I wish I were doing more about it. There are a couple of good environmental organizations in Watsonville, one of them protects the wetlands and the other organized the student strikes against climate change at our two high schools. I suppose I should be working with one of them, but I haven’t gotten around to it.”

Jaime waits out my confession, and then says, “I wasn’t asking about fires. I was asking about Mike F-I-E-R–S, tonight’s pitcher.”

As it turns out, Fiers pitches a two hit shutout, and Hendricks gets an efficient save.

Thanks to Jamie’s friend, Kara, we watch the game in great seats, ten rows up between home and first. We sit with Jaime’s friends Zach and Arie and their two boys, age 12 and 10. Zach is a hero to me, not because of his ability to turn the double play, but because he has taught for twenty-five years in a San Leandro Middle School, were he also coaches the boys’ basketball team.

Soon after we sit down he says, “I’m asking everyone: who do you start in the playoff game, Manaea or Fiers?"

“I don’t know.”

When Kara comes by to visit, he asks her the same question.

She answers, “I think Homer Bailey is in the conversation.”

That conversation will go on for at least the next ten days, and May go on for years more, although it probably won’t rival the question of why Clem Labine was still in the bullpen when Bobby Thompson came to the plate and hit Branca’s pitch so far that Pafko ran out of room in left field.

I enjoyed the game, the conversation with Zach and Arie and the mother and daughter from Modesto sitting in front of us, who knew Kara as a TV personality. It occurs to me, however, that it must take a hell of a lot of energy to make the field so light at night. Well, that is something to add to my argument against night baseball.

When Arie took the boys to get hot dogs, Zach leaned over and stage whispered, “Arie has a crush on Matt Olson."

“That figures," the Modesto mother in front of us says, “He’s been hot lately.”

(On the road trip Matt hit in 15 straight games with four homers and nine RBis.)

When Cleveland loses a double header, the race for one of the two wild card spots is pretty much over. Now the only question is who will get to play the wild card game on their home field, that advantage going to the wild card team with the best record.

The season will finish with three games in Seattle, and when Tampa Bay loses, we have to win only one of those games to get home field. We lose the first one Friday night when Hendricks blows a save, so we still need to win one of the next two.

On Saturday I watch the game in Sacramento with Seth. Lureano hits a home run in the second, Olson throws out a runner at the plate on an attempted safety squeeze, Roark goes five shut out innings, Petite throws two more, and Lazaro (thanks, Billy Bean) pitches the eighth and the ninth, giving up nothing. The As win, 1-0.

We’ve got home field. Seth and I are delighted, but not as happy as Julie because this means we won’t listen to the game on the radio on Sunday on the way home. My obsession with the pennant race and the incessant sound of the radio has over tried her patience.

Seth starts talking about the starter for the playoff game. He doubts that Bailey is in the conversation. It is either Fiers or Manaea. Seth wants Fiers. We passed him up last year, and the Yankees beat us. They won’t pass him up two years in a row.

But they did. Manaea started and gave up four home runs, two in the first inning. When the A’s failed to score in the bottom of the first after getting the bases loaded, the game seemed over, and I started getting used to the idea of the end of the season. The actual ending was abrupt, final, leaving a void in my life that novels, nostalgia, and gardening will not be able to fill.

Maybe I should check out one of those local environmental groups.

* * *



  1. Kathy October 14, 2019

    “PG&E, the state’s largest utility, maintains approximately 81,000 miles of overhead distribution lines and approximately 26,000 miles of underground distribution lines. It also has about 18,000 miles of larger transmission lines, the majority of which are overhead lines.

    At a cost of $3 million per mile, undergrounding 81,000 miles of distribution lines would cost $243 billion. PG&E has 16 million customers; distributing that expense equally would amount to a bill of more than $15,000 per account. 

    It’s very expensive,” said Constance Gordon, a public information officer with the California Public Utilities Commission. “The utilities don’t want to pay for it out of their pockets, so ratepayers would have to pitch in, and people don’t want to pay for that.”
    PG&E is not flush with cash: The investor-owned utility filed for bankruptcy in January, facing $11 billion in liabilities related to wildfires. This week, the company’s shares tumbled after a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that the utility no longer had the sole right to shape the terms of its reorganization.

    Underground costs can vary depending on trenching and paving. If gas and telephone utilities share costs with electric companies, conversion costs can come down, but it all comes out of the customer’s pocket eventually.
    A report prepared by the Edison Electric Institute, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind, An Updated Study on the Undergrounding of Overhead Power Lines,” found that while most new commercial and residential developments across the United States tuck electrical facilities underground,burying existing above-ground electric distribution systems can cost up to $5 million a mile in urban areas.

    • Harvey Reading October 14, 2019

      Has the PG&E estimate for cost per mile been verified by anyone who is credible? Or is the PUC, as usual, acting as an apologist for the monopoly power provider, whose service was already very hit-or-miss during my final years in California? The “Edison Electric Institute” represents private utilities and is hardly an independent player.

    • James Marmon October 14, 2019

      Get rid of just half the regulations required for under-grounding power lines and the job could be done at a reasonable price.


      P.S. Happy Columbus Day all you Flat Earthers .

      • Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

        You’d fit right in with the Clearcut Triangle dope growing crowd, James. They always whine about regulations, too. Meanwhile, dope consumers buy elsewhere. There’s plenty of dope for them and will be even when the Clearcut Triangle dope growers all go under as a result their stupidity.

        By the way, James, don’t you feel at least a little stupid for supporting a private utility monopoly?

    • Mark Scaramella October 14, 2019

      Why put out obviously ridiculous numbers as grounds for not undergrounding? I don’t know anyone who proposes undergrounding everything, just the areas where it’s a serious hazard. Piece by piece. Second by section. Hasn’t someone figured out what areas are priorities already? If not, why not? Yeah, it’s costly on a per mile basis, but let’s see the analysis and cost for the high priority areas only before we start talking about the cost of undergrounding everything. A real “public” utility would have done this decades ago. A real “public” utility commission would have required it decades ago. Real old-school management at PG&E would have done it on its own decades ago. Years ago I wrote a sophisticated logistics analysis database management program that looked at the value of each spare part for a failure prone system in comparison with the cost versus reliability improvement for each part. With my program you specified a budget or an operational target and the program ranked the recommended spare parts until the budget or target was reached. Surely a similar program could be (has been?) written for PG&E’s grid system.

  2. Lazarus October 14, 2019


    “Too cool for school”

    As always,

  3. Harvey Reading October 14, 2019


    Scum rises to the top.

  4. Harvey Reading October 14, 2019



    Libertarians revere their freedom only, at the expense of the freedom of others. Biggest phonies on the planet.

  5. Harvey Reading October 14, 2019


    And, don’t over-estimate the common sense of the common man either. It could prove very costly in many ways.

  6. Harvey Reading October 14, 2019

    Know what’s really great? I can find no mention whatever of Christopher Columbus in MCT today. Yippee!

    • Harvey Reading October 14, 2019

      Columbus was a murderous, scheming, wealth-seeking scoundrel. His only intent was to become wealthy at the expense of natives in the so-called new world. Nothing about him was “transformative”. He simply carried on in the usual horrid human “tradition” of those who preceded him, from the very beginning of humans as a species.

      • Louis Bedrock October 14, 2019

        And he paved the way for the infection of the Americas with Christianity.

        • Bruce McEwen October 14, 2019

          By the thrice-beshitted bedsheets of your incontinent ancestors, Louis, you and your lapdog Harvey are as guilty as all the rest; you the more-so, as a retired teacher, still profiting for propagating that felicitous equine feces (read ‘happy horse hockey’, Harvey), and not only collecting but squandering, the remuneration to this very day in your lavish retirement benefits, you shameless hypocrite.

          • Harvey Reading October 14, 2019

            Hi there, Sad Sack. Go to bed. You don’t even make sense. Maybe, if you’d stuck with anything over time, you might have a modest retirement, too, you jealous lout. Oh, but I forgot, poor, poor Sad Sack never, ever go a break. Poor, poor Sad Sack. I pity you but have no sympathy at all for a self-made little jealous drunken man such as you.

            • Harvey Reading October 14, 2019

              By the way, Sad Sack, 18th and 19th Century writing styles went out of fashion long ago.

              • Bruce McEwen October 15, 2019

                Style never goes out of fashion.
                — Grandpa McEwen

              • Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

                F**k Grandpa McEwen.

          • Louis Bedrock October 15, 2019

            What does this incoherent, muddled puddle of McUrination have to do with Columbus?

            What does it have to do with anything?

  7. Stephen Rosenthal October 14, 2019

    FOUND OBJECT: Like father, like son.

  8. Stephen Rosenthal October 14, 2019

    ONLINE COMMENT OF THE DAY: Couldn’t agree more.

  9. Louis Bedrock October 14, 2019

    CONSORTIUM on Obama:

    What absolute nonsense!

    “Neither Obama nor his party are spineless betrayers—they’re partisans of capital who sometimes have to pretend otherwise for electoral reasons. But that won’t stop loyalists from scratching their heads and wondering why the Dems are the way they are—only to stop and reassure you that the Republicans are much worse.”

    —Doug Henwood

  10. Stephen Rosenthal October 14, 2019

    Great baseball story. Thanks. Btw, Khris Davis was pulling off the ball for the last three months of the season. It’s amazing to me that he wasn’t able to correct it. If I could see it, what the hell do they pay hitting coaches for?

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