- Weak Pulse
- Local Fascism
- Futcher Ashore
- Community Acupuncture
- Returned Wallet
- Funny Valentine
- KZYX v Sako
- Interview Summary
- Dysfunctional Valentine
- Conflating Isms
- CSD Agenda
- Duct Tape
- Tired Driving
- Wildlife Alliance
- Hippie Chicks
- KQED TV
- Criticizing AIPAC
- Welcome News
- Tanning Tablets
- Census Jobs
- Yesterday's Catch
- Hermit Crabs
- Spectacle Fatigue
- Pity the Nation
- Corrupt Democrats
- Conscience Declaration
- Everybody Out
- Pot Wars
- Bernie Bothered
- Impure Thoughts
- Found Object
A WEAK PULSE OF RAIN, mostly to the north of Mendocino County tonight, interrupts an otherwise cool and dry trend for the foreseeable future. (NWS)
CORPORATISM AND FASCISM: WHY MEASURE V IS NOT BEING ENFORCED
In 2016 Measure V passed in Mendocino County with 63% of the vote. Measure V requires that mature trees intentionally killed (by whatever method) be cut down within 90 days. The impetus for V was the fire danger caused by increasing the number of dead standing trees in our forests and the increased danger to firefighters from those dead trees. Why then is the law not being enforced in spite of the demonstrated public support?
After being involved in forestry/environmental issues and protests for almost 30 years in Mendocino County the answer is clear. It is because government, at all levels, sides with corporations/business interests. This is not news. But, it explains why all the hordes of well intentioned people working tirelessly year in year out are making so few gains.
The entities involved here and elsewhere are basically three: government, businesses, and the public. Government includes all levels (federal, state and local) responsible for regulatory oversight and enforcement as well as advisory support. Businesses, including corporations, have decided to make as much money in as short a time as possible for their shareholders/owners. The Public represents not only the people but the public trust resources important to the life of Mother Earth (wildlife, water, forests, climate).
In theory, government is the most powerful in resolving conflicts between the people and business interests. The democratic government that was set up in this country was designed so that the government would respond to the public and reign in business interests that were contradicting the public trust. For hundreds of years citizens of this country have fought and sacrificed for a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” as Abraham Lincoln stated so eloquently. Why then does a governement for “we the people” almost always decide in favor of business interests?
The public, the 99%, lose just about every time. Why? Because government is infused with business interests at all levels right down to water boards, county supervisors, and extension services. There is no equal playing field. There is no justice. Once in a while the governmentt tosses us a crumb and then we are so grateful! Good people keep on trying to save what's left of the forest ecosystems in Mendocino County. Most of what they might get is a nibble on the edges of gross mismanagement.
Again, democratic government in this country was designed so that the government would respond to the public and reign in business interests that were in conflict with the public trust. And imperfect as the design and implementation of this ideal, it is still worth fighting for. What we are seeing here in the county (and in the entire country) is the alignment of government and business to subvert the public interest. Mussolini said “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”
We need to fight fascism at all levels, including and starting locally. The Mendocino County Supervisors have been agonizing over how to enforce Measure V. They don’t need to squirm so much. The Mendocino County Code Section 6.04.100 states that the business license of any business “that has been operated in any manner contrary to any law, ordinance, chapter, rule or regulation shall be revoked by the Board of Supervisors.”
Under threat of shutting down their business, I’m sure that Mendocino Redwood Company and other timber companies would comply rather than sacrifce investment in the county — and this is the way it should be. The Board of Supervisors has a mandate and the power. The question is “do they have the will?”
Turtle Creek (Comptche)
Jane Futcher updates: At Sihanoukville airport headed for Kuala Lumpur and hopefully SFO one of these days.
Burton Segall, L.Ac., is now providing acupuncture in a community style setting at Anderson Valley Senior Center on Thursdays after lunch.
Community Acupuncture is set up so that several patients share one or more clinicians in the same workspace, and is an effective way for more people to be treated in less time. This allows the acupuncturist(s) to charge less per treatment, which will be provided on a sliding scale starting at $20.
There are many powerful acupuncture points that are located in the ears and on the extremities beyond the knees and elbows. A majority of the points that will be utilized in these treatments will be located in these areas.
At this point patients will be seen in the order in which they sign in, but as this clinic becomes more popular the plan is to set appointments, as well as fit in occasional drop-ins, in order to cut down on wait time.
Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful for many acute and chronic conditions, and is often used as a compliment to other therapies. Many people in good health like to get regular "tune ups" to help maintain, and because acupuncture makes them feel good.
Some issues that are often addressed effectively include:
Pain, anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia, digestive problems, allergies, addiction, stroke recovery, chemotherapy/radiation support, eye problems, kidney issues, lung issues, and shingles.
When getting acupuncture, it is necessary to have eaten at least a light meal within a couple of hours before being treated.
Renée Lee, Executive Director
Anderson Valley Senior Center
CALTRANS, CHP TO THE RESCUE
This is a simple shout-out letter to all the good folks who make up this amazing corner of the world.
Last month en route to Santa Rosa we hit the one-lane portion of Highway 1 with a long stop.
I got out to stretch and managed to lose the wallet from my pants with the short girlie-pockets. I didn’t miss it until arriving in town. Days later I returned to the scene of the drop with no sign.
A week later I began the dreaded “cancel everything” list. Then I received a phone call from Sonoma County CHP Officer Sean Laurie. It seems some angel from Caltrans found my wallet, contacted Sean, and after a lot of searching it for clues, he located me.
Owner and wallet were happily reunited complete with my lucky $100 bill intact with all else.
So to all of you who said to cancel everything right away because I would never see it again I say: Here’s to honesty and kindness!
CHET BAKER: MY FUNNY VALENTINE
SAKO GETS KZYX-ED?
OMG. My candidate interview last night (Thursday) on KZYX was a hit job! You've got to hear it to believe it!
I'm thinking about sending all 30 minutes of the interview to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and letting them decide if this is how they want our publicly-funded airwaves to be used.
The FCC should also probably receive a formal complaint.
Here's the problem.
For the first 15 minutes of a 30-minute interview, KZYX news reporter Sarah Reith didn't ask me about the issues, like the Potter Valley Water Project -- a question that was asked of every other 1st District candidate.
No, Ms. Reith made my personality and character the issue. In fact, Ms. Reith never asked me about the Potter Valley Water Project, and water is the leading issue in the 1st District because agriculture is so important.
From the very beginning of the interview, Ms. Reith was hostile. She was rude. She was accusatory.
Ms. Reith implied that attendance was a problem for me at Sanitation Board meetings (I attended most meetings, and, in any case, I was a temporary appointee to a vacant seat at the Sanitation District. Furthermore, my attendance was perfect for all 60 meetings that I attended every month for five years as a member of the County Retirement Board.)
And Ms. Reith circulated a completely unfounded rumor about why I left the Sheriff's Office. (I left because I burned out from four years of 55-hour work weeks in the Country Jail's Administrative Segregation Unit. And I left for a much better paying job at the Swiss bank, UBS.)
Last night, Ms. Reith further made an issue of my fighting a $96,000 a year patronage job in County government that was being created for Ms. Reith's present boss at KZYX -- KZYX Program Director Alicia Bales.
The patronage job was being created by Ms. Bales's landlord and friend, 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen. The Board of Supervisors agreed, and refused to fund the job.
Even the listeners made note of Ms. Reith's hostility. Several callers noted it. Please listen.
I don't know whether I should consult a lawyer or write a formal demand letter to the KZYX Board of Directors.
I'm copying the KZYX Board of Directors on this email. At the very least, I'm owed a formal apology and another interview.
John Sakowicz, Candidate, 1st District Supervisor
If Ms. Bales put Ms. Reith up for this ambush interview, then they should both be fired. And where was KZYX General Manager, Marty Durlin?
Dear KZYX Board of Directors,
Tonight, John Sakowicz was interviewed live at 6 p,m, on KZYX by Sarah Reith, news department. He was invited by Sarah to speak as a candidate for County Supervisor, First District. All District 1& 2 candidates were invited to participate with individual live interviews.
If you have not heard the interview, I would ask that you listen to it.
A bit of background.
Program Director, Alicia Bales, when President of the Mendocino Environmental Center, publicly stated in a MEC mediation meeting that she would do everything she could to hurt Mr Sakowicz’s campaign. I was present in the meeting as were about 12 other people including Naomi Wagner. This was PRIOR to Ms. Bales becoming a paid staff person at KZYX.
Last night’s so called ‘interview' was an intentional and prescribed attack by Alicia Bales who used her paid position with public radio to discredit one candidate for personal reasons. Sarah Reith, who is held out as a journalist, thought it okay to be unprofessional, without facts, and rude to a legitimate candidate to carry out Bales’ bidding.
Ms. Reith never asked about the pertinent issues such as the Potter Valley Water Project, Economic Development, and Fire Safety or Preparedness, etc. Water is certainly a high priority in District 1. Her line of questioning was against fairness and equity for all candidates to be on equal footing when appearing on a public radio station. This is a requirement and KZYX management has permitted staff to undermine this requirement.
When the public began to call in last night, Ms. Reith took a call from Naomi Wagner who was present in the MEC meeting I refer to above. Again, in this mediation meeting, Ms. Bales made her angry threat towards candidate Sakowicz about “doing anything I can to make sure you are not elected.” And it appears she tried last night using public radio air waves to do so.
Ms Bales is Donald Trump in drag sans the orange face. She used her paid position at a public radio station along with Ms. Reith's help to carry out a personal vendetta against a legitimate candidate she doesn’t like and can't control. This is against CPB guidelines. This practice must be addressed by the KZYX board immediately as we are in an election cycle.
Ms Wagner’s phone call tonight is curious. When Ms Bales as President, left the MEC broke and without an active board, Ms. Wagner left the MEC as well. Interestingly, Ms. Bales' friends continue to stack against people. They see it as feminism and activism. In this case, they went against public radio guidelines to be "feminists" against a male candidate they don't like and are personally trying to stop.
BTW, the MEC currently has no board and no money to this day. This is how Alicia Bales left it. The building is owned by John McCowen, proponent of the Climate Action Advisory Committee which he initiated to the tune of $110,000. The BOS shot down that outrageous figure and voted to earmark $7500. The veiled reference in the interview by Ms. Reith is to pals John McCowen and Alicia Bales.
Toward the end of the interview, one caller commented on how hostile Ms. Reith was to the candidate. When he tried to make his comment, Ms. Reith hung up on him.
Listen to the interview and compare it to the other six candidate interviews. Alicia Bales and Sarah Reith should be fired immediately for their scheme to hurt a legitimate candidate which goes against public radio standards, guidelines and practices. This is the stuff that causes stations to lose funding and/or a license.
Remember how the Donald behaves….if he can get away with it, he will do it again.
Ms. Durlin, I did try to warn you.
KZYX V. SAKOWICZ
We took another listen to Ms. Reith's tip-toe questions, which Mr. Sakowicz now thinks were unfair. Here’s an abbreviated summary with our paraphrasing of the exchange and some [annotations].
Reith: Do you support MCAAC (Mendo’s Climate Action Committee of volunteers)?
Sakowicz: Keep funding at $7500 only. But I support their work.
Reith: Attendance gaps at the Sanitation District Board.
Sakowicz: I may have missed a few after first being appointed. But my attendance at Pension Board was perfect and I always do my radio show, etc.
Reith: Refers to insinuations about “this person” [Bales] and their relationship with someone in leadership position [McCowen]. If someone who’s had a conflict with you that you don’t like appears before board, will you sit up there and make up an expose about that person’s character?
Sakowicz: A job was created for an insider. Cites Sarah Dukett’s sister as another insider hire.
Reith: Repeats question. Ad hominem attacks?
Sakowicz: No, once in a long time situation.
Reith: Quite a few people feel you’ve made ad hominem attacks. [Feel? Spit it out, girl! We first raised the issue in the ava, the obvious issue is that McCowen tried to create a big-pay job for Ms. Bales. Which he did, which is why it's unrefuted.]
Sakowicz: CEO feels that way too. If that’s what it takes. In case of CEO there was the wrongful termination of Barbara Howe.
Reith: Can people expect you to take their [Sako’s targets] presentations at face value and not attack them and insinuate about their relationships?
Sakowicz: Yes. On retirement board I was congenial and respectful of others. Same on Board of Supervisors.
Reith: You have been subject of ad hominem attacks relating to your separation from the Sheriff’s office. Can you set the record straight?
Sakowicz: Just haters hating. No substantiation to it. Spent four years as CO after Wall Street. All in on line facebook bio including my FINRA file. I worked in the Ad Seq unit and I burnt out and returned to financial services with UBS.
Reith: Homelessness and mental health? Conservatorships?
Sakowicz: Cites LPS guardianship policy. Etc. Not used enough for people like the late Charles Hensley. Etc.
Reith: Cost of running psych facilities?
Sakowicz: Measure B too slow. Etc.
Caller: Cannabis public private partnership?
Sako: I love cannabis farmers. I have to support small growers. Not Flow Kana. Etc. I have four pot farms in New Jersey. Etc. Etc.
Naomi Wagner calls in: Measure V enforcement?
Sakowicz: Need an MOU with MRC, fighting them in court could be costly. They could make some useful concessions.
Caller: Asphalt Plant?
Sakowicz: Intro to answer: “I’m a practicing Buddhist and this is where I find the dharma.” … It’s in court. It will play out. If it’s a fire hazard, County should reconsider.
Eric Rennert (Public Defender’s office): Position on new courthouse? It doesn’t solve the prisoner transportation problem.
Sakowicz: It’s superfluous. A vanity project for the judges.
Last Caller: The interviewer is very anti-interviewee. (Cut off, end of show)
Sakowicz: This is fine. I’m very outspoken. I’m used to hostility. I’ve taken on huge targets like the County CEO. (Gives on-line info.)
UH, we don't find anything particularly unfair here. Reith's questions were sugar-coated, the usual softballs synonymous with Public Radio, Mendo. Much ado about nothing much.
(A recording of the candidate interview is available at KZYX's jukebox webpage for Thursday at 6pm.)
DENIS ROUSE WRITES:" You got my head swimming after reading "To The Finland Station". How did socialism and communism (Marxism I guess) become conflated? Got a neighbor whose grandfather was John Howard Lawson, one of the Hollywood black listed ten. His bio seems to suggest his communism came from his immigrant family's experience with anti-semitism as well his personal travail with the government's attempts to crush his freedom of expression in the days of "Un-American" paranoia. Last night's "American Experience" segment on PBS dealt with capitalism-in-extremis during the early days of American industrial food production when various poisons were being utilized to preserve foods which led to the successful efforts of a heroic chemist (his name escapes me at the moment but he's buried at Arlington) of the Pure Food and Drug Act during Theodore Roosevelt's administration. Is that not an example of socialism in its finest hour? When I think of communism I can't help but think of the human costs of what eventuated with Mao's and Stalin's ascendancy. When I think of capitalism I think of how it seems to replicate what we know about nature, human nature of course included, and the need to control its worst aspects. Last question, professor, is there an example of a successful communist state in history's blueprint? Or should we just have another drink? "
THE GREAT HEROES of food safety, if you'll permit me to play Ask Mr. Wizard, were chemist Charles Wetherill, first appointed by Lincoln who went on to found basic food safety standards through the Teddy Roosevelt era with Harvey Wiley. (Roosevelt and his Rough Riders found their canned beef to not only be inedible but occasionally lethal.)
And, of course, there was Upton Sinclair, who shocked the world with the news of what really went into sausage via "The Jungle." Capital has always deliberately conflated socialism and communism, as it's doing now with Bernie, who, in any other context, is more of a social democrat than socialist. Even FDR, scion of the ruling class, was denounced by the old money as "a traitor to his class" and, natch, a communist. The older I get the better I understand why Diogenes spent his life on the hunt. People believe what they need to believe, facts be doomed, but America would be a much happier, less violent place if working people had the same understanding of economics which, say, the European working class has.
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE
SPECIAL MEETING of the BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ANDERSON VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT
To be held at the BOONVILLE FIREHOUSE, 14281 Highway 128
February 19, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.
CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL:
RECOGNITION OF GUESTS AND HEARING OF PUBLIC:
CHANGES OR MODIFICATION TO THIS AGENDA:
NEW BUSINESS: a. Vote on Ordinance 2020-01 (Fee Schedule)
CONCERNS OF DIRECTORS
The Community Services District has updated its Fire Department "Fee Schedule" and will be approving it in at a special meeting on Feb. 19 at 4pm. The Fee Schedule refers to charges for required public services by AV Fire Department Personnel. These services could include inspections, site plan reviews, hydrant flow testing, emergency responses, etc.
The new fee schedule will be posted on the avcsd.org web site.
McCLATCHY, basically the venerable Sacramento Bee, is now at the mercy of the hedge fund wolves. The publisher has been plagued by financial problems ever since a $4.5 billion takeover by rival Knight-Ridder in 2006, worsened by the decline of print newspaper sales. “The problem is that as of 2015, Google and Facebook make up about 75 percent of the digital ad dollar in U.S. markets,” said Penny Abernathy, a professor of journalism somewhere.
ODD to think that "journalism" began as a bunch of drunks hanging around police stations who called in their atrocity stories to a re-write desk where a literate spinster made it fit for print. 75 years later… professors! Schools of journalism! Print newspapers are dying everywhere as the whole festival of misinformation moves on-line. In my experience, there's a direct correlation between formally trained "journalists" and bad journalism, by bad I mean dumb, boring, inaccurate, tailored to the boss man out of necessity for continued employment.
Note: Years ago, when print still reigned, a friend invited me to speak to a class at the UC School of Journalism at Berkeley. The room was organized as a tv studio, and most of the students seemed to hanker after a job at Live At Five.
Note 2: Earlier, another friend of mine, the late Roy Trumbull, the chief tech guy at KRON Television, gave me a tour through the station's Frisco premises whose news office was all young people, very young people, busily typing out the day's news. "Frightening, isn't it?" he said. I agreed at the time, but thinking about it, for mainstream media, what's the diff? Anybody, any age can do it.
THIS OLD-TIMEY COLLISION occurred on September 24, 1934 in Eureka (Humboldt County) on what would later become US Highway 101 near the present-day location of the Ocean View Cemetery. The driver of the vehicle on the right dozed off and drifted into oncoming traffic before crashing into a Division of Highways truck. Don't drive tired. Pull over when and where it's safe to do so and get some rest.
(Caltrans District 1)
Imagine a cat lassoed then hoisted by the neck to dangle kicking and gasping until it is strangled to death. Imagine a dog caught by the leg in a trap, stuck twisting and turning for days while the jaws of the trap dig into its leg until it dies of dehydration and shock while trying to free itself by gnawing off its own paw.
Even those of us who don't keep pets have, I hope, sufficient empathy to shudder at dogs and cats being treated that way by someone who finds their straying into his yard annoying. There has to be a kinder, more humane way of removing unwanted pets from one's yard, right? And of course there is: we call animal control to come and humanely remove the offending animal.
Now, extend your empathy a bit further to include other critters, like raccoons and skunks. They, too, can be annoying when under your house or in your shed. So, you want them removed humanely, right?
Unfortunately, in Mendocino the County will send out a Wildlife Services trapper to kill the offending animal instead of removing it and sealing off its entryway.
That doesn't have to happen. There are well-tested alternatives and people ready to bring them to our county. To accomplish that, all you need do is tell your Supervisor to vote against renewing the county's contract with USDA Wildlife Services and in favor of working with Mendocino Non-Lethal Wildlife Alliance to implement a proven humane wildlife management program.
THE 1969 FESTIVAL, WOODSTOCK, attracted an audience of more than 400,000, most of them being so-called hippies - these are the ladies of Woodstock.
KQED TELEVISION brings us lots of interesting stuff, if you can beat back your nausea at the endless testimonials to the foundation tax dodgers bringing you the goods — "brought to you by the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Burger King" — and those terrifying ads for an upscale senior stalag called Aegis Living. Can you even imagine a worse fate than your last days spent in compulsory group sing-a-longs with the ga-ga? I'll bet I speak for a lot of the elderly when I say I'd rather dole out my last days under a freeway overpass than at Aegis Living.
LIBERAL MEDIA at its finest was KQED's fawning and constantly bleeped tribute to the great comic, Dave Chappelle, recipient of the lib's Mark Twain Award, nevermind that KQED would never ever, not even at 4am, show a Chappelle performance. So, maybe once every couple of weeks we get a Frontline or an interesting bio in between cooking shows and feeble-minded tours of foreign countries led by a chuckling fool in a purple sweater, all brought to us by this or that foundation tax evader.
McKLANLEYVILLE? That casual slur the other day re the HumCo town got a laugh outta easily amused me.
SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS:
 Partnership HealthPlan (Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan for 14 northern counties) presented a proposal for substance abuse treatment services at the HHSA Advisory meeting. They’re working on services for seven counties and will take in to account local needs. Our State’s Department of Health Services is working on a federal funding model.
I asked whether teen substance services will be included. Yes!
Requirements for participation were summarized as 1) diagnosed with an addiction, 2) wanting treatment
This is welcome news.
 When we talk about priorities, fighting poverty must be at the top of the list. Grants and subsidies are a short term bandaid. Our county needs job growth in areas with living wage potential. We’ve had county employees living in cars and working second jobs. The problem is not abnormally high housing costs, but rather widespread low wages.
CENSUS WORKERS NEEDED
Holly Ugulano is the U S Census recruiting person for the Mendocino Coast. While the number of people who have been hired has risen in the County, the areas of Comptche, Boonville, Philo are still VERY LOW. She was asking for us to get the word out again about these positions. The pay rate has increased to $18.00 per hour.
If you know of anyone who would be interested or a way to get the word out, please do so!
Please contact Holly.email@example.com for further information
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 14, 2020
CHAD CARVER, Ukaih. Failure to appear.
BRIAN CLARK, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
LESLIE DEGUZMAN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NINA GOODSON, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
PAOLA GRUBICA, Hopland. DUI.
ANDRE HARRIS JR., Sacramento/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JOSEPH HOAGLIN, Redwood Valley. Under influence, probation revocation.
SHAWN SPILLER, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
MARIA ZARATE, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapo not a gun, domestic abuse, probation revocation.
CONSIDER THE HERMIT CRAB
by Katherine Rundell
It was, perhaps, a hermit crab that ate Amelia Earhart. For five nights after Earhart disappeared from the sky in 1937, the US Navy picked up distress signals from Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the Western Pacific. When a rescue team reached the island a week later — it took time, since planes had to be loaded onto battleships — it was deserted. But researchers on the island have since discovered human bones matching Earhart’s size: another, later team discovered the shattered glass of a woman’s compact mirror and a few flakes of rouge. The bones were sent to be tested, but were lost on the way, and unless they are found we won’t ever be sure whether they belonged to the valiant, hell-for-leather aviatrix with the face of a lion.
But, if the bones were Earhart’s, only 13 were found, and the human body has 206: where were the other 193?
Crunched, perhaps, to fragments. Nikumaroro is home to a colony of coconut hermit crabs: the world’s largest land crab, so called because of its ability to crack open a coconut, maneuvering a claw into one of the nut’s three eyeholes and prying it open.
The oldest hermit crabs live to more than 100, and grow to be wider than three feet across: too large to fit in a bathtub, exactly the right size for a nightmare. In 2007, researchers decided to test the Earhart theory. The carcass of a small pig was offered to the crabs on the island, to see what they might have done to Earhart’s dead or dying body. Following their remarkable sense of smell, they found the pig and tore it apart, making off with its bones to their burrows under the roots of the trees. Their strength is monumental: their claw grip can produce up to 3300 newtons of force (the bite force of a tiger is 1500 newtons). Darwin called them “monstrous”: he meant it as a compliment.
Even monsters, though, start small. Some hermit crabs inhabit the land and others the sea, but they all begin microscopic and underwater. They’re released as eggs into the ocean, hatch as unprepossessing larvae (though what larvae are prepossessing?) and it’s only after several months that they are large enough to inhabit the smallest empty shell they can find. As they grow, they graduate from one scavenged shell to another, most frequently the delicately sworled shell of a sea snail, grasping its columella with claspers at the tip of their abdomen. They shed their exoskeletons, releasing into the sea a semi-transparent floating crab – a ghost. The coconut crab eventually outgrows all other shells, and begins to live uncovered on the land, but the majority of the 1100-odd species of hermit crabs live in borrowed homes all their lives.
Hermit crabs are not, in fact, hermitical: they’re sociable, often climbing on top of one another to sleep in great piles, and their group behavior is so intricately ordered that they make the politics of Renaissance courts look simplistic. When a crab comes across a new shell, it will climb into it and try it on for size. If the shell is of good quality but too big, it waits nearby for another crab to come and inspect it. If that crab also finds it too large, it joins the first crab, holding onto its claw until a queue develops – it can stretch to twenty crabs, arranged in order of size from smallest to largest, each holding onto the next: a hermit crab chorus line. When at last a crab arrives who can fit the vacant shell, the first crab in line claims the new crab’s former shell, and there is a flurry of crabs climbing into their neighbor’s home. The crab’s abdomen is soft and vulnerable to attack while exposed, so the whole process takes place with astonishing rapidity.
They’re not only foragers for homes: some are renovators. The anemone hermit crab is so called because it lifts anemones from the seabed and sticks them to its shell, where their stinging tentacles offer protection and disguise from predatory octopuses. The anemone, in symbiotic turn, consumes scraps of the hermit’s food as they float by. When the time comes to move to a larger shell, the crab, with some difficulty and great persistence, prises her anemones off the old shell and fixes them to the new.
(London Review of Books)
BETTER IN DOLBY
by David Yearsley
What if every week was a non-stop series of public spectacles? One big-time show after another. Every night a blockbuster.
Sunday brings us the Super Bowl.
Monday presents the undead Democratic Circus of the Iowa Caucuses, which slips past its time slot and far into the unforeseeable future.
Tuesday it’s the State of Union address pitting a tele-prompted demagogue in dark suit against a human paper-shredder in white.
Wednesday’s broadcast is an Impeachment Vote in the US Senate, a show a few viewers even find exciting. (The writers are busy: Mitt Romney will not be asked back for season two.)
Thursday there’s a televised flash mob around Trump where he rants and raves about his vindication.
On Friday the Deep State Vindman Twins get the sack. (Strangely, this latest episode of The Apprentice — “You’re Fired” — was not streamed live.)
Saturday: it’s 65° degrees in Antarctica! Puts the week’s other programs in perspective, and, on the upside, adds another continent to the list of global getaway destinations. Hey, hey, hey — Spring Break in Little America!
And before you know it another Sunday has rolled around and it’s the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony.
Most of such a week’s “content” should come with Parental Advisory notifications and/or health warnings. “Family friendly” is now a quaint relic. Even the President is a foul-mouthed psycho.
That such a density of set-piece spectacles was packed into the first full week of February seems hard to believe. Harder still to think that most of us survived it, though the strain on the psyche was considerable, more trying even than enduring Best Actress Award winner Renée Zellweger’s victory “speech” for her biopic portrayal of Judy Garland, a tight-lipped hymn to Hollywood’s new inclusivity delivered with extreme difficulty through the straight-jacket of Zellweger’s facelifts.
Early February’s succession of marquee events gives us a super-extended preview of a future in which we’ll be under 24/7 siege by propaganda masquerading as entertainment. Or is it a preview?
Once obvious and easy, the option of simply unplugging is itself barely possible any more. In the age of emergency alerts blaring over loudspeakers, civic alarms systems, drone flyovers, the solace of silence is an expensive, ever-more elusive luxury.
Many millions are plugged into their wearables, ear- and eye-fed their feeds from dawn to dusk, and through the night while snatching shards of sleep from the ether. Music, news, podcasts, information, images. At least two generations are hooked up for life — and probably death, too.
Some are still able pull the plug. It’s vaguely comforting that the latest installment of the Oscars garnered the lowest t.v. rating in its history. Yet even as the wise and wizened — along with the otherwise-occupied young — flee its fake self-mockery and pseudo-pageantry, the show provides an instructive look ahead.
For the second consecutive year the Oscars were without a host. In 2018 the Academy staged its own episode of cancel culture when comedian Kevin Hart was pulled from the role of emcee when his library of homophobic tweets was unearthed and duly published. No one else could be found to jump into the mess. The job has now disappeared forever from the “workplace.”
In place of an-stage person, a female voice — not simulated but belonging to veteran, and perennially uncredited, voice-over expert Randy Thomas — provided well-modulated narration that, god-like, moved the pawns around the Kodak Theater stage, informed us of the relevant history and backstories. Especially after a couple of drinks, it becomes difficult to tell whether the voice is coming from Hollywood or inside your own head. People are increasingly used to this from various disembodied Sirens and Amazons. Rather than the human wit — if you can call it that — of a Bob Hope or Billy Crystal, there was Siri and Alexa. And so will it be, when digital maître d’s direct you to your table through the earbud or virtual profs discourse on Plato’s Republic in the massively multiplayer university lecture halls of the not-so-distant future.
Unlike Brexit, the opening production number remained. Singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe did it as a trouser role. In a nod to the hostless approach, Monáe donned tuxedo and top hat. Her gifts and professionalism provided a provisional antidote to the slack and often listless proceedings that followed. That she learned the songs and choreography in a short time and carried them off with such precision and panache gave one slender hope that human excellence still has a fighting chance against the virtual. Some might claim that the Academy fixers chose Monáe, an African-American, to launch the evening as an affirmative action. What her performance did, however, was robustly affirm that real talent matters.
A more cynical interpretation of Monáe’s appearance would argue that her charismatic critique was mere window dressing, an view perhaps confirmed by the approval of the Hollywood courtiers arrayed in the Dolby and the boosting commentaries that followed. The supposedly barbed comments Monàe lobbed into the crowd castigating that very establishment for the lack of women and people of color among the nominees actually just provided the required lip service. While these kinds of supposedly admonitory slogans are already standard fare in liberal dramatics, they’ll become even more of a pronounced political tick in the future: shout out — sing out! — to the dispossessed and disenfranchised, while the capitalist juggernaut rolls on, the driver not even touching the brakes.
Incursions were made into the bastions of male dominance in Hollywood. The Best Soundtrack went to Hildur Gudnadottir (apologies Norsemen and Norsewomen, I can’t find the Icelandic diacriticals on my keyboard) for her score for Joker. Her heart-warming speech about girls making music seemed genuine, its sentiment lingering even as she left the Dolby stage and disappeared into Hollywood’s maw. Her score for Joker is troubled by the straining of hawsers, the thrum of electric wires, and the thump of drums like a heartbeat from within your own body. The soundtrack’s Romantic surges break on the rocks of catastrophe. I hear the natural world going under. Leave it to an Icelander cast ashore on Los Angeles’s fatal shores to compose something suitably troubled for our time, even as she seeks higher ground and will certainly be getting higher pay with the statuette on her mantel.
Gudnadottir was the first woman in a quarter century to be decorated for a movie score by the Academy. Below her in the pit, Eimear Noone, was the first female conductor ever to lead the Oscar orchestra. She’s also the composer of some of the most heard (if not exactly listened to) soundscapes on the planet — World of Warcraft and other mega-titles. Noone has led the Danish National Symphony in pedal-to-the-metal game night extravaganzas with full orchestra and chorus and lots of electronics to boot. On Sunday night she wielded her old-fashioned, non-digital baton at the Dolby for a suite of the nominated scores. In that sequence the sheer force of John Williams’s Star Wars swansong strode forth magnificently. But it was too manly, too European, too Wagnerian for these times. Noone commanded her troops with exactitude and grandeur, even while securing her own electronic battle brand, clad as she was in an embroidered golden breastplate of a mighty woman warrior.
Elton John was rewarded for a different sort of disturbed lurching than Gudnadottir’s. His Oscar-winning “Rocketman” credit-sequence song ascended inexorably by half-stop up the keyboard and into the stratosphere of his aging, but durable range. At the close of this super-charged three-minute number, I was expecting Sir Elton to hit the ejector-seat button and blast through the Dolby roof. But he had to remain on earth for his apotheosis that was soon to follow.
This was one of the few comforting truths that this evening confirms every year. Even as the stars preach, preen and perform, they can never truly escape.
In the beginning there was the word, in the end, too, though finally, when it was all over, there was just Jane Fonda, her skin also spread worryingly thin across her cheekbones, wishing all a good night. One couldn’t be sure if she was real or not. Had Barbarella uploaded her voice and consciousness and had her body 3-D printed? It wasn’t just impossible to say, it was also irrelevant.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What we’ve seen is sedition, but of the most hilariously incompetent sort, the might of American institutions bearing down on a duly elected official, going at it hammer-and-tongs, but regardless, not laying a glove on the rock-star himself, only his roadies for infractions not remotely connected to the originally alleged misdeeds.
Imagine, a lifetime spent in mobbed-up businesses like real estate and casinos and the Mueller crew couldn’t find a thing. Astounding. How can that be? Is Trump that smart? Is he that clean? Was the Mueller gang that useless?
No matter, because what all this represents is an unwillingness to abide by election results. Too bad for American democracy, this unwillingness, and also an unwillingness to ascribe legitimate interests to wide areas of the populace.
It’s not just what they’re doing to Trump, it’s what they’re doing to Bernie. This Iowa thing reeks of dirty deeds, ie another effort to hobble Bernie. If you’re looking for corruption, look to the Democrats. They are rotten with it.
MARGARET CHASE SMITH'S "DECLARATION OF CONSCIENCE"
"The Democratic administration has greatly lost the confidence of the American people by its complacency to the threat of communism and the leak of vital secrets to Russia through key officials of the Democratic administration. There are enough proved cases to make this point without diluting our criticism with unproved charges."
POT WARS, an on-line comment:
I was never busted, but the stigma of being a marijuana user will never go away.
I sincerely thought that Proposition 19 (1972) would pass, and the stupidity of prohibition would be over. Even after it failed (!) I was convinced that it would be passed in some form by 1976. I never dreamed it would take another 40 years, but here we are!
I quit using pot 10 years ago, because being high meant feeling like early dementia, and because employers do drug screens and I had to change jobs after the recession, but I often think about growing 6 plants just for the heck of it, and using the product for gifts…
We did roll up towels and block the door gap, in the dorm, in 1970, and we always drew the curtains so the narcs wouldn’t see in… Those days were a matinee of idiotic fears, but we all kept smoking… Lots of folks I knew were arrested for drugs and weed, but even though I dealt $10 bags of crappy Mexican weed, I never got jacked…
I hope the federal government finally lifts the gate, and I hope the country and world are buried in cheap, great flower. Thanks to the Humboldt growers who delivered the sinsemilla so reliably for those years 1976-2010 and beyond. I may not be able to smoke it any more, but I love the smell of Redway in the fall!
by James Kunstler
What if the Corona virus turns out to be a genuine pandemic with legs, not some punk-ass, flash-in-the-pan bug like SARS… and infects hundreds of millions around the world…? And what if it happens to go logarithmic in the USA, as in China now…? And what if takes a few months, or half a year, to do that…? And what if Americans will not get on airplanes when that happens…? Or gather together in large numbers…? Or if government imposes quarantines …? Will the parties hold their nominating conventions? Might the November election have to be postponed?
Just sayin’… since nobody else seems to be talking about it. A few months ago, nobody was thinking about a disease that would virtually lock-down China’s economy, either… and now here we are. Speaking of which, that lock-down of China’s economy is already generating serious damage to global GDP, after only a few weeks. But nothing shows our detachment from reality like the recent surge in financial market indexes while the Chinese economy was busy shutting down. In particular, one must wonder: What supports the global daisy-chain of debt obligations while all this is going on?
After all, companies doing business need a revenue stream to service their revolving debts. They have to make stuff, and move stuff, and get paid for it. What happens when there is no revenue stream? The workings of this hyper-complex financial system depend utterly on the velocity of these revenue streams. They can’t just… stop! Everybody who follows these things understands that China’s banking system is 1) a hot mess of confabulated public and private lending relationships, 2) completely opaque as regards the true workings of its operations, and 3) shot through with fraud, swindling, and Ponzis. Did China’s ruling party just put its banking system in an induced coma while Corona virus plays out? How can that possibly not affect the rest of global finance, which is plenty janky, too?
The USA gets everything from car parts to pharmaceuticals from China. How long will it take for the manufacturing lock-down to show up in American daily life? What if it continues for some months going forward? You can easily draw your own conclusions.
Here’s another interesting angle on that: Corona virus might give President Donald Trump an easy out from being the bag-holder for a stock market crash and banking train wreck. The signal weakness of Mr. Trump’s term-in-office was his taking ownership of a magical mystery stock market that climbs ever-higher day after day, defying all known rules of physics as applied to money. This longest “expansion” in US history (if that’s what it was, and I’m not so sure about it) seems to have hit a speed bump last September when something broke in the short-term “re-po” lending markets, at which time (and ever since), Jay Powell’s Federal Reserve began jamming hundreds of billions of dollars into them to smash down zooming interest rates and prevent a heart attack in the system. That creation of “liquidity” — money from thin air — appears to have stabilized the situation. But then, it is a peculiar feature of our times that a lot of things have an appearance that doesn’t sync with reality.
In short, if Corona virus and its side-effects do substantially knock down the stock markets, Mr. Trump gets off scot-free on the one thing that has been really propping him up. Not only can he blame a looming market calamity on this black swan pandemic, he can then turn around and play the Franklin Roosevelt role in attempting to rescue the nation from a depression. And then, if the election has to be postponed, we will see a for-sure discontinuity in US political history, consequences as yet unknown.
Meanwhile, schemes continue apace to overthrow Mr. Trump by-hook-or-by-crook before the election, with Sedition Release 4.0 just breaking in the Roger Stone sentencing affair and four prosecutors (three of them Mueller alumni, imagine that!) staging a phony-baloney resignation huff to stir up useful idiots like Rep. Eric Swalwell on the House Intel Committee for the next go at impeachment. Understand, this wicked business is just another ploy engineered by the same combined Deep State / Lawfare scoundrels that ran RussiaGate, MuellerGate, and UkraineGate, and the real purpose of it is to stave off efforts to prosecute a pretty broad network of those same former and current officials in the FBI, DOJ, CIA, State Department, Pentagon, Obama White House, and the Clinton Foundation for seditious conspiracy and, yes, possibly even treason. Personally, I believe that the Attorney General is honestly trying to smoke out the truth in this morass of nefarious intrigues, and that neither attempts to block him by the perps and their allies, nor a visitation of Corona virus across the land, will thwart him.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)