- Phil Baldwin
- Kary Mullis
- Pet Clinic
- Boonville Lodge
- Bazaar Thanks
- Fire Recovery
- Confession Killer
- Paramedic Program
- Transient Death
- Quake Risk
- Marijuana Conviction
- B Circles
- Candidate Keady
- Ed Notes
- Holiday Spoons
- Burt Williams
- Yesterday's Catch
- Poll Numbers
- Ohm Resistance
- Awful Pete
- Radio Fans
- PG&E Plan
- Election Results
- Computer Trends
- Snowden's Journey
- Golden Cocoon
- Homeless Deaths
- Found Object
WEAK SHOWER ACTIVITY will persist today and may continue into tonight. Dry weather is expected on Monday and Tuesday before showers return around mid week. (National Weather Service)
PHIL BALDWIN HAS DIED
A former Ukiah city councilman, Baldwin, noted for his liberal stands on a range of inland issues, was a retired teacher who worked for years at Potter Valley High School. Prior to his years as a resident of Ukiah, the affable Baldwin had been a member of the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors.
Baldwin was first elected to the Ukiah City Council in 1998 and was reelected in 2002, 2006 and 2010. He served on the city council until 2014. He worked on a variety of issues, including securing Ukiah’s groundwater supply, protecting farmland, and supporting environmental sustainability.
PINE MOUNTAIN LOOKOUT
Kary Mullis, quirky Nobel laureate whose DNA discovery changed the science world, dies
by Dorany Pineda
Kary Mullis was an LSD-dropping, climate-change-denying, astrology-believing, board surfing, Nobel Prize-winning chemist who was both widely respected and equally criticized for his controversial views.
Deemed an “untamed genius” by fellow researchers, Mullis shared a 1993 Nobel for developing a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, that allowed scientists to create millions of copies of a single DNA molecule.
It was hailed as one of the most important scientific inventions of the 20th century; a discovery that — among countless other applications and research — gave scientists the ability to study DNA from a 40,000-year-old frozen mammoth and helped investigators take tiny amounts of DNA to identify or exonerate crime suspects. It’s the technique that Hollywood used to revive dinosaurs from fossilized DNA in the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park.”
Mullis died Aug. 7 in his Newport Beach, Calif., home from heart and respiratory failure, said his wife Nancy Cosgrove Mullis. He was 74.
An offbeat, chatty, restless and unconventional chemist, Mullis defied the stereotype of the Nobel Prize winner. He was drunk the morning he won the prestigious prize, he once admitted, and in response to the news, went surfing near his La Jolla apartment.
Acclaimed as his technique was, Mullis was highly criticized for other theories, notably his suggestion that HIV did not cause AIDS, which he once wrote was “one hell of a mistake.” It was a notion that cost him some credibility among his scientific peers, as did his conviction that global warming was a hoax and that ozone damage was an illusion.
“He’s a freewheeling thinker,” Kirston Koths, a former colleague, told the San Jose Mercury News in 1999. “Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had in my life have been with Kary over a gin and tonic. He has an ability to make unusual connections.”
Mullis was born Dec. 28, 1944 in Lenoir, N.C., to Cecil Banks Mullis, a furniture salesman, and Bernice Alberta Fredericks, a Realtor. The family moved to Columbia, S.C., when Mullis was a child.
He showed a keen interest in science and exploration at a young age. Once, in high school, he designed a rocket propelled by sugar and potassium that launched a frog 7,000 feet into the blue. The amphibian, attached to a parachute, returned to Earth unscathed.
“In another, we inadvertently frightened an airline pilot, who was preparing to land a DC-3 at Columbia airport. Our mistake,” he said in his Nobel speech.
As an undergraduate chemistry student at Georgia Tech, Mullis put his quirky, creative mind to work; he invented an electronic device that could control a light switch with brain waves and created a laboratory for producing explosives and poisons. After graduating in 1966, he attended UC Berkeley for his PhD in biochemistry.
It was there that Mullis’ interest in hallucinogens blossomed. One LSD trip once inspired a paper on time travel. It was later published by the science journal Nature.
And it was the same psychedelic drug that may have kept Mullis from testifying on DNA evidence in defense of O.J. Simpson in 1995. Mullis’ lifestyle was a point of controversy during the case, with prosecutors attacking his “credibility, competency, and sobriety.”
Soon after completing his PhD in 1973, he took an unusual path: he dropped out of the science world to pursue fiction writing and later, for about two years, worked at a bakery.
He launched back into the science world doing research projects in universities before joining Cetus Corp., a now-defunct biotechnology firm in San Francisco, where he was working when he devised PCR in 1983.
He left Cetus in 1986 to work at the biotechnology company Xytronyx in San Diego and worked as a freelance consultant thereafter.
For his PCR discovery, Mullis was also awarded the $385,000 Japan Prize from the Science and Technology Foundation. Together with his Nobel Prize money, Mullis found financial stability and intellectual freedom. “I’m done. I’m fixed. I’m a free agent and it is the most wonderful thing,” he told Spin magazine in 1995. “I can say exactly what I feel about any issue, and I’m going to do that.”
“Kary was not narrow in his field,” his wife said. “He was constantly looking at everything and putting it all together… He was self-reliant and just wanted to figure out how to do everything himself.”
His 1998 autobiography “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field” detailed his eccentric ideas and life adventures, further magnifying his reputation as a remarkably strange and creative thinker who defended astrology and described an alien encounter.
Reflecting on his success years later, Mullis told Parade magazine: “I think really good science doesn’t come from hard work. The striking advances come from people on the fringes, being playful.”
Mullis divorced three times before marrying Nancy, his wife of 22 years. He is survived by children Christopher, Jeremy and Louise; two grandchildren; and two brothers.
(Courtesy, the LA Times)
THE LEGENDARY Boonville Lodge, destroyed by the recent fire, is now just a memory, and what a memory! It's been called "a bucket of blood," and for sure it had a well-deserved reputation as a fightin' bar, but the older old timers will tell you that the reference to The Lodge as a "bucket of blood" really began with the bar's first years in the 1930s when deer hunters suspended their prey near the door to bleed out into buckets as they knocked back triumphant shots.
Back a ways there were lots of wild people around — interesting wild people whose humor ran a little heavy but there was nothing like it. Down at the Boonville Lodge, a squat, brick bunker perhaps unconsciously designed to confine the mayhem common to it within its walls, there were Saturday night headbutting contests, among the common hijinks. No brain, no pain, as the saying goes but a truly memorable spectator sport. One guy would position himself at the post office just across the road from the Lodge. Another one would paw the floor in the bar. At the shout “Go!” the Lodge guy would sprint out the door and into the middle of Highway 128, ramming skulls with the post office guy, before one of them conked out.
Strangers entered the Lodge at their own risk, especially long-haired strangers. One night in the 70s a hippie stopped by for a six-pack to go. The boys at the bar were sitting around naked that night except for their cowboy and baseball hats, just for the heck of it and with not so much as a hint of homoerotic content. While the hippy waited for Amy the bartender to bring him his beer, a naked man deftly hooked up the hippy's VW bus to his pick-up and, the hippy back at the wheel, commenced to drag it around Boonville for an hour, the terrified hippy screaming to get out. The Lodge gang laughed so hard they were leaning on each other.
When the NPR listeners took over, Boonville’s wild people were basically priced out of here. The area, if you're given to literary before and afters, went from Flannery O'Conner to the Updike of his New Yorker domestic drama stories
THANK YOU ONE & ALL
The AV Unity Club would like to thank everyone for another wonderful Bazaar. We would like to thank all of the businesses and individuals who donated items for our raffle. We thank A.V. Brewing Co., The Apple Farm, Bewildered Pigs, Bloomz Salon, Boont Berry Farm, Brutocao Cellars, Donald and Sharon Gowan, Hedgehog Books, Farmhouse Mercantile, Fathers and Daughters Cellars, Foursight Wines, Gowan's Oak Tree, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Jack's Valley Store, Lauren's Restaurant, Meyer Family Cellars, Penny Royal Farm, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Shear Elegance, The Puzzle People, Toulouse Vineyards, Wally Hopkins, Beverly Dutra, Susan Robinson, Stella Wells, Judy Nelson and Rainbow Hill.
FIRE RECOVERY (Mendocino National Forest, 2019)
‘THE CONFESSION KILLER’ — the local angle: Boonville resident and star video editor Len Feinstein was lead editor on the new Netflix five-part true-crime documentary series “The Confession Killer” which debuted on December 6th. Directed mainly by Robert Kenner of Food, Inc. fame, the series is already getting rave reviews. “I spent 14 months grappling with thousands of hours of archival and original materials and interviews,” said Feinstein. “It was one of the toughest projects of my career. But it’s currently one of Netflix’s top 10 most watched shows. Great reviews — 100 on Rotten Tomatoes.”
More info on the series/subject and the trailer: netflix.com/title/80213588
MENDO COLLEGE THINKING ABOUT A PARAMEDIC PROGRAM
Ted Williams wrote: The lack of paramedics has been one element of the local ambulance crisis. A number of us have urged Mendocino College to consider opening a local paramedic program. Robert Pinoli heard the request and swiftly captured a status update:
Ted – I hope this finds you doing well.
I want you to know that I’ve heard the call for Mendocino College to reinstitute its program given the severe shortage. As president of the board, I asked staff on Wednesday evening to follow-up with me on this matter.
Both Debra Polak, VP of Academic Affairs and Eileen Cichocki, Interim Superintendent are working on this. This is what I received from them -
We feel the most efficient and quickest way to address the paramedic training issue may be to partner with a neighboring college that has an accredited program.
The accreditation process for a Paramedics program would not be a quick one. However, our neighboring districts to the north (College of the Redwoods) and to the south (Santa Rosa Junior College) each have Paramedics program. I am going to work with Dennis to see if there is a way we can collaborate with one of those colleges to offer a Paramedics program in our District.
These conversations will likely begin after the holidays, but I wanted to let you know we are thinking about this and want to support our communities to help solve the problem.
Please let me know if there is anything else I / we can do.
Robert Jason Pinoli, Trustee & President of the Board
Mendo-Lake Community College District
BODY FOUND IN CREEK - NO FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED
A man was found dead under a bridge in Gibson Creek on Friday, the Ukiah Police Department reported.
The body was reported around 1:10 p.m. by someone walking by the bridge under Highway 101, located behind the parking lot near Big Lots on South Orchard Avenue. When the person found the man unresponsive, they called 911.
“There are no signs of foul play,” said UPD Officer Kevin Murray, describing the man as an elderly transient who may have died of natural causes. When asked whether the cause may have been due to the weather, Murray said he could not speak to that, only that his death did not seem suspicious.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to retrieve the body and determine a cause of death.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
USGS RELEASES NEW EARTHQUAKE risk map — Northern California in the red
WOMAN CONVICTED OF FURNISHING MARIJUANA TO MINOR
Defendant Janine Louise Estep, age 40, of Ukiah, was convicted by guilty plea of furnishing marijuana to a minor, a misdemeanor, entered in the Mendocino County Superior Court Thursday afternoon.
The defendant had originally demanded a jury trial and her trial was to commence this coming Monday.
After the guilty plea was entered into the record, the defendant was placed on 36 months court probation. Terms of that probation include ten days in the county jail, a 4th Amendment waiver, submit to testing for use of drugs, no marijuana (medical or recreational), and parenting classes. Finally, included in all probations is an omnibus "obey all laws" term.
LOOK OUT CAMILLE, HERE COME THE ADVENTISTS
by Mark Scaramella
It’s been two years since Measure B passed to fund an array of mental health facilities and services in Mendocino County.
But until Supervisor Ted Williams came on the scene, the County had never actually looked at how the whole thing would work or what kinds of new services the Measure B funding would cover.
Last Tuesday Williams put an item on the Board’s agenda suggesting that Mendo “Perform an Operational Feasibility [study] of Proposed Measure B Funded Facilities.”
When Williams placed this seemingly innocuous suggestion on last Tuesday’s agenda, Official Mendo privately balked because doing such an obvious thing as a feasibility study for Measure B funding and services might upset a number of apple carts plodding ineffectively towards nebulous ends.
Among them are the recently semi-approved $3.3 million contract with the toney Sacramento-based architectural firm, not to mention Camille Schrader’s $20 million mental health contract and the County’s plans to increase her company’s grip on local mental health programs, whatever they are and whoever they serve.
Measure B has been moving frustratingly slowly for over two years now because, as CEO Carmel Angelo noted on Tuesday, the County’s discussion of anything related to Measure B has become “circular” with each involved entity — The Board, the Oversight Committee, the County CEO and her staff, the Behavioral Health Board, etc. — each waiting for the other to take the initiative.
And now another large local entity has entered the Measure B picture: Adventist Health.
Supervisor Williams introduced his suggestion about the “operational feasibility” study without pointing out the embarrassing fact that such a suggestion should have been raised two years ago.
Nevertheless, by the end of the discussion on Tuesday the entire Board and staff — including Measure B’s lead advocate, Sheriff Tom Allman — all agreed with Williams that it would be nice to know if Mendo could afford to operate the facilities they apparently plan to build with Measure B funds.
But, as always seems to happen, just before the unanimous vote to do the study, the Board and the CEO again raised the need to first get an opinion on the subject from the Measure B committee.
The Board has already asked the Measure B committee to approve the huge — and now mostly unnecessary, not to say premature — $3.3 million feasibility study and architectural project a few weeks ago. On Tuesday they complicated that question further by throwing in the Adventists’ informal offer to operate a Psychiatric Health Facility in Ukiah and Fort Bragg out of their existing hospital facilities.
If history is any guide, the Measure B oversight committee — which meets this Wednesday, December 18 — will be overwhelmed by such grand policy and budget assignments and will be unable to do anything, including rubberstamping the $3.3 million architectural contract.
On Tuesday, the Board made it worse by admitting that the $3.3 million contract would be mostly unnecessary if they turn over a large chunk of the Measure B funding to the Adventists.
And there’s yet another new piece of the puzzle: The County has just hired a Measure B Project Manager: Ms. Isabel Gonzalez. The County has not issued a press release on this important new hire and we can’t find anything about her background or qualifications on the internet. But CEO Angelo said that it will be several months before the new hire is up to speed on the Measure B project.
On its face, the Adventists’ apparent proposal — so far only in the form of a letter to Supervisor Williams from the Adventist’s Mendo honcho Jason Wells — is a no brainer. They already have space in their old emergency room in Ukiah and probably would love to take the County’s money for some kind of service in existing facilities in Willits and/or at Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg when they take over operations there next year.
In addition, the Adventists already have the ancillary hospital services and staff to accompany their existing emergency rooms where many mental health patients are first seen after being brought in by law enforcement.
And the Adventists could probably be ready to start providing services much sooner than any of the other options under consideration for Measure B funds.
Ms. Angelo’s “circular” Measure B process, although still intact, now seems to have been seriously twisted — into a Mobius strip? — by Supervisor Williams’ belated but long overdue feasibility study. However, instead of delaying things further, this twist may well end up providing mental health services in more places and much sooner than the old Measure B circle has been dithering about for the past two years.
CLOUDY thoughts on a cool, clear Saturday afternoon, beginning with the SMART train's celebration of not quite reaching the ferry terminals at Larkspur Landing, leaving train travelers slightly more than half-a-mile from a convenient onward journey to San Francisco by water. The halt and the lame will somehow have to get themselves from the train station to the ferry. There is belated talk of buses. This Not Quite Train, a much larger money trap than, say, the Mendocino Transit Authority, will also require heavy subsidies for the foreseeable future because ridership is wildly insufficient to support it. The only people riding the line regularly are tourists — well, not the only people, but it has proved useless to regular commuters between Santa Rosa and San Rafael because its stations are inconveniently sited at both ends of the track. The original early 20th century rail line from Tiburon and Sausalito to Eureka, with connections up and down what is now 101 and, at Willits a daily connection with Fort Bragg's Skunk train, meant people from a huge swathe of the Northcoast's Sonoma, Mendo and Humboldt counties could get to The City inexpensively and comfortably by train.
SONOMA COUNTY'S northern tier is paying for the SMART TRAIN but the line still hasn't gotten to Windsor, nevermind Cloverdale whose town's leaders many years ago erected a spiffy station in premature anticipation of the reintroduction of train travel. It stands isolated and unused on the old Northwestern track remote from central Cloverdale.
Mendo's old train stop in Ukiah has, with its surrounding acreage, been set aside for another boondoggle, a new County Courthouse wanted by no one other than the grandees of the Mendocino County Superior Court, and even they are afraid to say they want it in public because the project is so unpopular.
PRE-INTERNET lone nuts were alone, the tiresome monomaniacs were even excluded from the heavily edited letter pages of his local paper where overt lunacy was not permitted. (Or confined to the paper's editorials.) But with cyber-communications, here they come, the racists, the anti-Semites, the anti-vaxxers, the Grassy Knoll conspiracy legions, the much more numerous porn pervs. Thanks to the internet, these loons now have whole communities of each other, but aren't content to talk to each other so they try to clog up, ahem, wholesome sites like the ava's. A tiresome race baiter and anti-Semite named Kittle keeps popping up on our comment line who we've had to put on our watch list to exclude altogether if he keeps it up. The only reason we've tolerated him as long as we have is because he shares a surname with the great George Kittle, 49er tight end whose last minute catch and ferocious run against New Orleans last week was so absolutely thrilling.
THAT FIRE last Thursday at the Vista Ranch between Boonville and Philo destroyed the home occupied by the Cornejo family. Like the fire a week earlier that devastated central Boonville, no cause has been determined. The Cornejo fire, however, prompted wild rumors of shooting but was merely gun cartridges exploding in the heat of the blaze.
IF WORDS still had meaning, references to the liberal wing of the obviously conservative Democratic Party as “radical Left Democrats” and “the party of socialism” would have been laughed at. As if single payer health insurance is, as Biden has described it, “crazy socialism.” One third of GoFundMe requests arise from some desperate family trying to raise money to save a loved one. If I hear one more everyday working person say something like I've already heard, something like this, I'm going to start drinking again: "I wish we had single payer. Hell, I could use it myself. I'm totally screwed if I get sick but we can't afford it." We? You're barely scraping by and you're talking like you're Bloomberg? The Brits just voted against their own true interests and here we go in the USA where millions who ought to be all the way behind Bernie will vote against their true interests. Chalk another one up for a lying mass media, with CNN and MSNBC as bad as Fox on the "socialism" issue.
THE DEMOCRAT'S top secret Get Trump whistleblower, as we and many other media except the mainstem media have identified for more than a month now, is a young (in his 30's) CIA agent name Eric Ciaramella with ties to Biden. In other words, not credible. Meanwhile, the true whistleblowers — Snowden, Manning, Assange — are written off by Trumpers and Schiffters as "traitors" for documenting that our government has lied to us about darn near everything (I guess this fact surprises some people) and also spies on us in our Alexa and home computer fastnesses!
FROM Saturday's Press Democrat obituary for the famous wine mogul, Burt Williams: "…In his final venture, Burt Williams bought a vineyard in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, named the Morning Dew Ranch, where he grew pinot noir grapes. Williams Selyem made a vineyard designate from his grapes, called Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch, until he sold the vineyard in 2015…."
The following story from the AVA archive has nothing to do with Williams but lots to do with his ruthless successors: "When a Winery Kills" (April 19, 2000).
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 14, 2019
TRAVIS ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JEANNIE BIOLETTO, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, probation revocation.
SEAN CAHILL, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
HEATHER CHANEY, Fort Bragg. Trespassing-refusing to leave, resisting, probation revocation.
CARRIE CORDOVA-DALSON, Covelo. Obtaining person ID without authorization, disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation.
ELIZABETH DOCKINS, Ukiah. DUI, paraphernalia, contempt of court.
SAVANNAH ELDER, Hopland. Domestic abuse.
JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ROBERTO LOPEZ Y OCANA GUADARRAMA, DUI, Controlled substance.
CHERI MARTIN, Ukiah. Battery, parole violation.
HAROLD MIZNER JR., Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
DAVID SMITH, Ukiah. Contempt of court, probation revocation.
RICHARD SOLLID, Willits. Domestic battery.
WILLIAM VANTREESE, Eureka/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CAMERON WHITLOCK, Ukiah. Unspecified misdemeanor.
NEW QUINNIPIAC NATIONAL POLL on 2020 general election shows every prospective Democratic nominee beating Trump:
- Biden 51%, Trump 42%
- Sanders 51%, Trump 43%
- Warren 50%, Trump 43%
- Bloomberg 48%, Trump 42%
- Buttigieg 48%, Trump 43%
- Klobuchar 47%, Trump 43%
So, naturally, the Democratic elite are panicking that someone other than a candidate indebted to them and their centrist policies might prevail and are doing everything they can to sabotage their chances.
More evidence from the new Quinnipiac poll that the future looks very Left-leaning. Democratic primary voters under 35 years old : (Sanders + Warren + Yang + Gabbard = 78%)
- Sanders 52%
- Warren 17%
- Biden 11%
- Yang 7%
- Gabbard 3%
- Buttigieg 2%
- Bloomberg 2%
- Everyone else 1% or less
(Jeffrey St. Clair)
FOR CRAIG STEHR...
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG IS EVEN WORSE THAN HE SEEMS
There are three things Pete Buttigieg wants you to know: He’s smarter than you. He’s allergic to any hint of a progressive agenda. And he’s smarter than you.
LOS ANGELES FOOTBALL FANS gather to listen to the USC/Notre Dame game, November 16, 1929.
The match was played at Chicago's Soldier Field to a record crowd of over 112,000. The Irish won 13-12, and would win their final two games to cap off a 9-0 National Championship season. (Photo by Dick Whittington.)
GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM REJECTS PG&E BANKRUPTCY PLAN, DEMANDS ‘RADICALLY RESTRUCTURED’ CALIFORNIA UTILITY
“The resolution of this bankruptcy must yield a radically restructured and transformed utility that is responsible and accountable,” he wrote. Among other things, he demanded an entirely new slate of directors who are subject to state approval, and a structure that would allow PG&E’s operating license to be transferred “to the state or a third-party when circumstances warrant.” He also took issue with its financing plan, saying it relied too heavily on borrowed money and would hinder its ability “to make billions of dollars in safety investments.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The mental disorders sweeping the US polity apparently know no borders, one of these derangements being the utter refusal to acknowledge a simple election victory as we’ve seen this past three years in the US.
And so we see this also in the UK after BoJo’s win, Leftist demonstrators proclaiming that Boris isn’t their prime minister. Sorry but living with election results you don’t like is one of those things that grownups do because after all there will be another election in due course.
Not abiding by the results of the Brexit referendum is another prime example, with a Remainer prime minister doing the Brexit negotiations with the EU delivering up Brexit without exit. Yes, yes, I heard the reasons, the Russians bought and paid for the result, yes, I know, I’ve heard it, Brexit voters were lied to, and yes, I know, they’re idiots anyway, and racists and Islamophobes and uneducated and older and fearful and just not with this wonderful new modern world of precarious minimum wage, multiple job employment, massively expensive housing, and just not jiggy with multitudes of desperate newcomers coming across the borders and, to get to the point, unfit and fascist and generally disreputable and shouldn’t be allowed the vote.
But note how similar these rationalizations are to those given in the US for not recognizing the validity of the November 2016 election.
Here’s a suggestion, if – cough – “progressives” want to win an election stop fucking insulting people, stop fucking lying, try offering up worthy candidates, try instituting financial and economic and trade policies that don’t screw whole swathes of the populace.
EDWARD SNOWDEN'S PERMANENT RECORD
by Fred Gardner
When Edward Snowden was a tyke in North Carolina, his father, an engineer in the Coast Guard, got a Commodore 64. One night little Ed saw him playing a rudimentary game in the den and he was instantly enthralled by computers. After the family moved to the Beltway, his father got a Compaq Presario 425. "From the moment it appeared, the computer and I were inseparable. If previously I'd been loath to go outside and kick around a ball, now the very idea seemed ludicrous."
In his early teens he started playing MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role-playing games). He got into hacking. He acquired an education by pursuing subjects that interested him on the internet instead of going to high school —a risky strategy that works out well for some. Ed Snowden certainly learned Civics — and how to write.
Permanent Record is unputdownable. I had no idea until page 198 that he has epilepsy. He was 28 when he began experiencing brief space-outs that he didn't recognize as petit mal seizures; then he had a grand-mal collapse. It was 2011 and he had just comprehended the extent of the US government's mass surveillance program.
"I consulted with as many epilepsy specialists as I could find —the best part of working for Dell was the insurance: I had CT scans, MRIs, the works." Snowden's friend Lindsay Mills (“my stalwart angel”) drove him to appointments and did research online. "She Googled both allopathic and homeopathic treatments so intensely that basically all her Gmail ads were for epilepsy pharmaceuticals… The latter half of 2011 passed in a succession of seizures, and in countless doctors' offices and hospitals. I was imaged, tested, and prescribed medications that stabilized my body but clouded my mind, turning me depressed, lethargic, and unable to focus."
Snowden is fortunate in that he senses an aura when a seizure is coming on and can protect himself somewhat. One in four epilepsy patients have no such forewarnings.
As the top technologist for Dell's CIA account, Snowden could work from home; but he couldn't drive to meetings, so he took a disability leave. Homebound and watching TV, he followed news of the Arab Spring and calculated what the US had wrought since September 2001 (which had motivated him to work for the National Security Agency). "The previous 10 years had been a cavalcade of American-made tragedy: the forever war in Afghanistan, catastrophic regime change in Iraq, indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary renditions, torture, targeted killings of civilians —even of American civilians via drone strikes. Domestically there was the Homeland Securitization of everything… and from the Patriot Act on, the steady erosion of civil liberties, the very liberties we were allegedly fighting to protect." He was still not thinking about blowing the whistle.
Advised by doctors that "the climate and more relaxed lifestyle in Hawaii might be beneficial for my epilepsy," he took a step down on the career ladder in 2012 to work for the NSA in Oahu on a Dell Contract as "the sole employee of the aptly named Office of Information Sharing." It was not till that summer, on his 29th birthday, that he knew he was going to act — but not how, exactly. His first step was to track down and read the documents showing exactly how the US was conducting mass surveillance on its citizens. "I had to understand exactly how the system worked before I could decide what, if anything, to do about it." What he decided was to copy the relevant documents for sharing with journalists who would share them with the American people.
Permanent Record is the autobiography of a rational thinker. Each decision Snowden makes is informed by a thought process that he explains to his readers. He doesn't trust the New York Times to publicize his findings because of the paper's "earlier conduct involving an important article on the government's warrantless wiretapping program by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen." The article had already been fact-checked and edited when executive editor Bill Keller showed it to the government. Snowden writes, "The Administration told Keller and the paper's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, without providing any evidence, that the Times would be emboldening America's enemies and enabling terror if it went public with the information that the government was wiretapping American citizens without a warrant." And so the piece was spiked.
Snowden reasoned, "If the Times… took my revelations, reported on them, submitted the reporting for review, and then suppressed its publication, I'd be sunk. Given the likelihood of my identification as the source, it would be tantamount to turning me in before any revelations were brought to the public."
He contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald, enclosing a few items to establish the credibility of his claims. He chose Hong Kong as the place for their meeting after a process of elimination. "In geopolitical terms, it was the closest I could get to no-man's-land, but with a vibrant media and protest culture, not to mention largely unfiltered internet."
Snowden looks like who he is — clear-eyed, totally straight, a man who never used illicit drugs, who tells the truth without deviation. Back when Stephen Colbert was funny he said, as the screen showed a close-up of Snowden, "The face of eeevilll!"
The next-to-last chapter of Permanent Record is "From the Diary of Lindsay Mills," recounting what happened from her POV when Snowden left Hawaii in late May 2013. He had not told her that he was not coming back. He had not told her that he had discovered and could prove that the US government records and saves its own citizens' every action and thought via their phones and computers. He had not told her that he was about to blow the whistle. Ed Snowden is so straight that he had never shared with the woman he loved any aspect of his intelligence work that he had been instructed to keep secret. She knew that he had been under serious stress for the past year — it showed — but she didn't know the cause. She loved him.
He loved her. He knew exactly what he would be putting her through by fulfilling his responsibilities as a citizen: "the FBI interrogations, the surveillance, the press attention, the online harassment, the confusion and pain, the anger and sadness." He urged his mother to take time off from her government job near DC and come for a visit to Oahu. He flew off to Hong Kong before she arrived (taking a brief medical leave from The Office). He figured Lindsay and his mother would support one another as it became evident, with each passing day, that he was not on an ordinary, work-related trip.
"Stopped in at K-Mart to get a lei," Lindsay Mills writes in her diary. "Trying to welcome Wendy [Ed's mom] with proper aloha spirit, but I'm pissed. Ed's been planning his mother's visit for weeks. He's the one who invited her. I was hoping he'd be there when I woke up this morning…"
Two days later Mills writes : "She's worried that he had another seizure, and then she started crying, and then I started crying. I just realized that I'm worried too. But instead of epilepsy, I'm thinking, What if he's off having an affair? Who is she? Just try and get through this visit…"
At this point Snowden had just checked into the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong and notified Poitras and Greenwald that he'd made it. Poitras was keen to meet right away, but: "She was busy trying to get Glenn Greenwald to commit, trying to get him to buy a new laptop that he wouldn't put online. Trying to get him to install encryption programs so we could better communicate. And there I was, in Hong Kong, watching the clock tick away the hours, watching the calendar tick off the days, beseeching, begging: please come before the NSA realizes I've been gone from work too long."
It would be 10 days before they arrived. Ewan MacAskill of the Guardian joined them the next day, and from June 3-9 Snowden guided them through the digital archives exposing the NSA's mass surveillance program.
Lindsay Mills found out on June 9 when a friend called to ask if she was okay. A video of Ed being interviewed by Glenn Greenwald, shot in the hotel room by Laura Poitras, was ricocheting around the internet. Lindsay went online: "I calmly waited for the 12-minute YouTube video to load. And then there he was. Real. Alive. I was shocked. He looked thin, but he sounded like his old self. The old Ed, confident and strong. Like how he was before this last tough year. This was the man I loved."
On June 13 Edward Snowden was charged with violating the Espionage Act by the US government. The State Department pulled his passport leaving him stranded in Russia, which he thought would be a stopover after leaving Hong Kong. Lindsay joined him there in 2016 and they were married in 2017. They live in Moscow. Their residency permit will have to be renewed in 2020.
Permanent Record must be a little confusing to Democrats preoccupied with impeaching Donald Trump. They have lionized the Intelligence Community and its honchos such as James Clapper, whose lying to Congress in early 2013 describes matter-of-factly.
"James Clapper, then the Director of National Intelligence, testified under oath to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA did not engage in bulk collection of the communications of American citizens. To the question, 'Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?' Klopper replied, 'No sir,' and then added, 'There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.' That was a witting, bald-faced lie, of course, not just to Congress but to the American people."
It would soon be exposed by the greatest hack of all time.
I HAD A STRONG IDENTIFICATION WITH BUKOWSKI from the first time I read his stuff as a young man. The perrenial outsider. The product of a terrible home-life. Hit with the worst case of acne as a young man that permanently scarred and disfigured him. Seething with rage. And yet this weird soulfulness. And this inexplicable gift of artistic self-expression. Bukowski.
And he liked cats, too.
GIUSEPPE TOMASI DI LAMPEDUSA: THE GOLD OF MEMORY
by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
In Palermo, entire neighborhoods still exist which retain intact the damage from the bombings of World War II. With the passage of time, that destruction, augmented by administrative negligence, has created, in part, the aesthetic of the city. A gentleman in a Borsalino hat, and a dark coat buttoned up to the neck, used to walk along the sidewalk among these moderns ruins assisted by a knotted walking stick with a handle of silver, from his broken down house on the Via Butera to the Pasticceria Massimo on Via Rugero Settimo, where he breakfasted with "café manchado" and read the newspaper every morning.
The waiters knew that this sallow, corpulent gentleman, who was somewhat awkward and unsociable, was a prince. His name was Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. On his way through the center of Palermo, he used to pass by the old palace of his family, which was destroyed by a bomb in 1943 during the landing of North American troops in Sicily. Since then, it had remained uninhabited. In the summer, swallows flew in and out of the house through the broken windows and during the winter, hibernating bats hung in clusters from broken ceilings with frescos filled with gods and goddesses. In that palace, in the middle of the nineteenth century, had lived his great grandfather, Giulio IV di Lampedusa, an aristocratic astronomer, and in its halls there had been great balls and soirées. One day in 1954, the golden dust of memory, seized control of this 60 year old broken down vagabond and in the Café Mazzara, before the arrival of friends with whom he participated in a tertulia at teatime, he ordered a negroni with green olives, opened a notebook, and began to write a story which began with these words: Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae… Amén. (Now and at the hour of our death…) He had finished the Prayer of the Holy Rosary. The character who had been remembering the glorious and distressing mysteries was the Prince of Salina, an avatar of the figure of his great grandfather. In the Café Mazzura, this furtive writer, who had written nothing with the exception of some short stories and a study of Stenhal, put a title on the cover of the notebook: Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), and he put it away in the pocket of his overcoat when he saw his cousin enter the establishment–the poet Lucio Piccolode Capo d'Orlando, one of his fellow members of the tertulia.
It was the beginning of a story that this Sicilian aristocrat would be writing secretly during two years, in subsequent bars and hotels, in the Catfish Café, on the terrace of the Villa Igiea, in the marble tart of the Ristorante Charleston, in the Pasticceria de Massimo—writing in his spare time, like a caterpillar which is spinning a golden cocoon. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was born in Palermo on December 23, 1896, the only child of Prince Giulio Maria Fabrizio and Beatrice Mastrogiovani Tasca Filangieri. Up to this moment, this gentleman had not done anything more than read behind a curtain in the enormous family library beneath the dust hovering in the air which was illuminated by the light of the stained glass windows, and beneath the perfume exhaled by the antique furniture. Even though he was inducted during the Great War of 1914 and he ran away from the front across all of Italy until he got home, his only real achievement since he was a child was the solitude dedicated to reading all the English, French, and Russian novels of the nineteenth century. During one of his trips to London, he met the woman whom he would marry in 1932, Alexandra Wolf-Stomersee, a Latvian aristocrat and a psychoanalyst. During the rise of fascism in Italy, he was tempted by its aesthetics merely by the aspect of this movement that challenged the bourgeoisie, the class that had ruined the dreams of the aristocracy in past times. At a time when Italian literature was captured by Neorealism, this Sicilian gentleman was writing merely to placate the ghosts in his own memory concerning a vanishing world that didn't interest anyone else; thus, his notebook was overflowing with palaces, gardens, loves, adulteries, bayonets, discharges of royal rifles, all described with ostentatious adjectives, overflowing with southern carnality, and adhering to feelings as wet lichens adhered to the marble statues that adorned the stairways of his palace: a literature carved out by Stendhal.
It was the story of the unification of Italy, the landing of Garibaldi in Sicily, the passion of his cousin Tancredi for Angélica; the decadence of the aristocracy; Prince Fabrizio di Salina, the aged exponent of that rustic knighthood; the ascension of the bourgeois in the figure of Don Calógero; the ecclesiastical visage of Father Pirrone, vacillating between the two groups; a world that would rot like the cadaver of the soldier from the Fifth Battalion of "Hunters" under the lemon tree, amidst the perfume of roses, covered with ants. The story of Il Gatopardo has entered the popular imagination through the movie of Visconti, a decadent confection which no longer withstands the test of time; however, the true hero of this story is Lampedusa himself, who with one book has passed into posterity without having managed to share in the book's success: a literary and personal adventure that is not without its own poignant beauty. The manuscript of Il Gatopardo was treated contemptuously by the editors at the Mondadori and Visconti publishing houses—a shame which the people who rejected the book would never live down. While the heads of these publishing houses refused to publish the book, Lampedusa would die of lung cancer in Rome on July 23, 1957. Neither the writer Vitorini, who was born in Syracuse, nor Leonardo Sciascia, also from Sicily, both Marxist educated, both considered gatekeepers for the dominant culture of the time in Italy, understood where Lampedusa's story was going. They thought they saw an exaggerated parody of the aristocratic past of the author when in reality, it was the profound story of the passage of time, which adheres to the human soul through impenetrable veils and continuously rots it and renews it; but the human soul always remains the same.
Giorgio Bassani, the author of Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini, understood this and had Lampedusa's book published at his expense by the Feltrinelli publishing house in 1958. From that moment on, Il gatopardo, that rampaging feline which adorned the shield, the seal, and the crockery of Prince Salina, pounced into the shop windows of all the book stores. To write but one novel, to move on to the other world without having it published, to avoid the worry about book sales, and to have your soul and your book together be passed on to posterity — this is true glory without impure additives. During a visit to Palermo, I tried to follow the tracks of Lampedusa. Villa Salina was a ruin full of weeds behind an ochre colored wall in Mondello. The palace, the cafés where he used to write, the places he visited have disappeared. From this too has Lampedusa been spared. En Palermo, his memory alone is gold.
ANOTHER HOMELESS MAN FOUND DEAD
Goddamn it. This is the Christmas season. And yet…
Another homeless man was found dead in Ukiah, this time on Friday afternoon in the creek bed behind the parking lot near Big Lots on South Orchard Avenue.
Charles Hensley was found at Home Depot on North Orchard Avenue. He died of exposure on Thanksgiving night.
WHAT I AM DEMANDING
During public comment for non-agendized items at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, December 16, I will be demanding that the Board of Supervisors order an audit of Mendocino County's contracted mental health provider, Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC).
Where does the $30 million that RQMC gets from us go?
Where, if not to help the homeless, the chronically mentally ill, and those dually diagnosed with drug and alcohol addictions?
Specifically, RQMC needs to have the following audited: RQMC's Unexpended Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds and Health Savings Account (HSA) funds -- together known as "flex funds" -- that sweep into RQMC's Unexpended IBC account, that finally sweep into RQMC's Retirement Accounts and Bonus Pool.
RQMC executives are not getting rich on their generous salaries, per se, but on their more-than-generously-funded retirement accounts and bonus pools.
To do an audit, you have to ask the right questions.
PLEASE JOIN ME
Please join me at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, December 16, in demanding a true audit of RQMC and in commemorating December 21, as National Homeless Persons Memorial Day.
Let's meet at 9 am, at Board Chambers, Room 1070, County Administration Center.
I don't know about you, but I'm madder than hell. What are we getting for the $30 million that the County just hands over to RQMC?
Privatizing county mental health was a union-busting move. Plain and simple. Fewer county jobs. Less oversight.
The $30 million gift was political favoritism. Pure and simple.
John Sakowicz, Candidate, Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor
HENSLEY ALWAYS TURNED DOWN HELP
J. Holden of Ukiah Writes (on the Coast Listserve where Sakowicz also posted his original complaint):
Oh Mr. Sakowicz,
Yet another of your amazingly misguided self-aggrandizings and blame-castings.
Did you ever actually meet the homeless man Charlie Hensley whose sad death you use to advance your political candidacy? Well, I did. Do you have any idea of the abundant array of help he’s been offered over the years by the very human service agencies that you condemn in your self-righteous anger? Well, I do.
From personal knowledge I can assure you that severely alcoholic Charlie was offered a lifetime of free support services by our local social service agencies — including free income, housing, employment, transportation, drug and alcohol rehab, and physical and mental health care. But except for his many involuntary trips to jail, all of these offers of help have been Charlie's choice to use or not. Get it straight Mr. Sakowicz: Charlie chose not to accept them.
Yet somehow you manage to blame his death on the very agencies who offered these services to him. And you want to be our County Supervisor? No, thank you.
If you actually care enough to get a more accurate picture of Charlie, I suggest that you review the 4/11/18 Anderson Valley Advertiser feature article on him, which includes these quotes:
"Aside from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and his third wife Sadie, he blamed no one for his misfortunes”.
"When I asked how many times he’s been in jail he looked away into the distance for a long time before replying “about twelve,” a number others I spoke with called (way) low."
"Charlie’s surrogate mother Melinda told me Charlie has only one daughter who lives near her in Clearlake. “She knows that Charlie is her father but don’t want nothing to do with him,” she said. ‘He couldn’t stay away from it,’ she said, meaning whiskey. ‘He’d urinate on my couch in his sleep when he was staying here. I’d help him a lot more if he’d quit drinking.’ She added that Charlie gets into fights when he’s loaded with Jack, and is a mean and combative drunk."
"Charlie’s chances of healing all the damage he’s done to himself are statistically slim. Though he says he’s not afraid to die, Melinda says she worries a lot about that. ‘He gets in lots of fights when he drinks,’ she said. ‘He’s got a few friends who come by to tell me he’s OK, because I’m always afraid that he will be dead.”
And now as you point out, Charlie is dead, voluntarily homeless, in the middle of a cold night, dead drunk in a creek bed. A shame, yes. But not as shameful as your attempt to blame our dedicated mental health providers for his death and baselessly accuse them of fraud and corruption. Now you “DEMAND” an already existing audit, having no idea that they already submit monthly financial, quality assurance, and compliance documents in addition to four full audits a year on the services provided. I suggest that you review those audits before further advocating to waste our taxpayer money on your quixotic reinvention of the wheel.
As I’ve asked you before, Mr. Sakowicz, please get your facts straight before you make more of your wild and slanderous accusations. “Goddamn it” (to use your words) I hope you don’t get elected Supervisor.
J. Holden, PhD