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Letters to the Editor 11/18/2009


Greetings Editor:

Hash Peppermint Patty — Good grief!

“Gosh, Charlie Brown: what is hash?” Linus asks.

“A mixture of corned beef, processed potatoes, and onion extract,” the round headed kid replied. Semantics aside, hash, in my consideration, is a glandular extract derived from cannabis by either dry seiving or water — the extraction which separates the tetrahydrocannabinol oil or resin bearing gland or trichome from leaves, flowers or marijuana “trim or shake.” The tiny bulb-shaped trichome or resin gland greatly resembles a lightbulb or mushroom, a tiny, hollow, round head on a stock filled with psychoactive oils that can be detached/freed from its vegetative matrix resulting in a fine powder or resin that is by weight substantially more potent/concentrated than “regular” marijuana.

This powdery resin, depending on its purity, the skill of the hashish maker and the potency of the starting material, can be rather easily shaped by hand pressing or rolling into balls, patties or pressed into pucks, etc. About this time of year it is not uncommon to hear the shrill whine of an electric drill going continuously full bore for 45 minutes to an hour from the occasional abode. Is a big home fix-it job going on? Nope! It's very likely and industrious hashmaker whipping up some fresh ice water hashish in a plastic bucket or trashcan! The ice water-containing receptacle is lined with several nylon bags with silk screen sieve bottoms with various pore sizes. The marijuana shake, trim or ground-up flower tops are dumped into the container of ice water and an electric drill with a paint mixer attachment is lowered into the chilly mix rendering it into a frothy green ganjashake which swirls around madly for about an hour separating the tiny but tasty trichomes from the leafy green material. The resin glands are forced through the various screen bag bottoms which collect different sizes/grains of resin glands which are collected, dried and again usually pressed into convenient shapes for storage or shipping. This glandular extract, i.e., hashish, can be boiled with 99% pure alcohol or less benign solvents unfortunately (such as butane) to extract the essential elixir: a dark green or black fragrant oil known popularly in street drug jargon as “hash oil.” The dark, sticky almost petroleum thick goo can be further refined into a translucent amber oil by processing/washing the dark oil with petroleum ether and activated charcoal. The result is refined “honey” oil. It is still a fairly rare product compared to the increasingly large scale production of “raw” local domestic hash which generally in Northern California “is fresh and potent,” often with “oh boy!” high THC levels and much more available than stale, old imported hash. With local hash oil a funny curve may avail: the sticky, gooey, messy oil is, well, sticky, gooey, messy and a handy dandy cannabinoid brain receptor answer beckons: think of a pot addled “Hints From Heloise” or Martha Stewart style methodology here: take that really messy hash oil and sop it up with its own “grounds”! (Reduced in amount of course, but still redundant.) The al-kee-hol washed hash material or cruder yet, “grass oil” is butane processed pot shake or ground bud. It percolates and can be dried, ground finely and kneaded/mixed back into the oils in small amounts to make them more manageable to handle and smoke. Such oils can and are mixed into honey and other edibles. But honey oil — the real deal — predates sweets and desserts. One smokes a drop or two in a glass bubble pipe for an immediate mind rush/Crisco for the brainpan. There are myriad other non-toxic and quieter ways to produce hashish that won't auditorily torture the neighbors or their pets.

But bottom line, all involve processing the cannabis plant to create a purer more potent product. Is this illegal? (It seems dependent on who you talk to.) I've been informed that it is “illegal” (at least technically) and federal statutes prohibit possession of any amount of hashish, hash oil, or any cannabis concentrates. And the intention/act to manufacture above-mentioned cannabis concentrates is also illegal and a felony? Apparently the California state laws regarding hashish etc. differ with the federal interpretation? The “laws” which surround the marijuana/hashish issue are as cloudy as the mind of a heavy pot user and as ephemeral it seems. Perhaps some local cannabis activist/legal eagle can help bring some clarity to this issue.

J. Schultz
Sticky fingered in Willits


Dear Bruce,

Recently I came across a list of the Seven Deadly Sins. It seems to me that present day American culture suffers from all of them. To wit:

Pride: “We are the greatest country in the world.” The facts do not support that. In terms of quality of life, we are 13th in the world.

Envy: Only envy would allow the American public to allow billion of dollars to be given to the Wall Street CEOs while the unemployment rate is over 10%. They are our cultural heroes, but we envy them their riches while seemingly powerless to limit them

Gluttony: The American diet and the incidence of obesity says it all.

Lust: ” We are the most powerful nation in the world.” This lust for power and the inability to let go of it dominates our foreign policy.

Anger: We are so angry at those who are different from the majority of us that we cannot even let them have the same civil rights as the rest of us. The failure, by vote, in 31 states, to allow gay people to marry is the case in point.

Greed: This has been the dominant ethos of our time, taken to the extreme by Wall Street and the health insurance corporations.

Sloth: The first six make our inability, unlike Europe, to provide health care for all is evidenced by the lack of political will to take on any of the issues of poverty in our culture.

If you look around our culture, at any and all of our social institutions, not one of them is health and vibrant, and serving the people. We are all trapped in an obscene level of creature comfort and unable to make the break with it. These are the times that try men’s souls.

Lee Simon
Far ‘n Away Farm, Virginia


Dear Editor,

I didn't realize how valuable the AVA was to me until I failed to renew my subscription and discovered a void in my mailbox and life. At this point the annual $50 price feels like a bargain. Thanks also for the opportunity to feel superior to the French.

Don Cruser
Little River



In praise of fragging—

Careful how you read the tagline. Try it again—

FRAGGING, i.e. dictionary definition: From ‘fragor,’ wherein soldiers of one nation invading another prevents their officers from leading them into battle to be killed, trapped, slaughtered. And, accidentally or inadvertently the officers (Sergeants included) are shot in the back or blown up by grenades thrown into officer quarters. To frag = to fragment.

If we can remember the Vietnam war, those over 50 might still have memories of what caused the war to become dangerous to the American way of life; one aspect was “bring the war home” manifested in fires in urban centers before, after or during demonstrations. Arson is a dangerous activity, however it meant that the anti-war movement had moved from candle holding protest and hand waving songs — “All we are saying…” — to making chaos a part of the anti-war effort. The other concrete and militant activity not suggested by the GI coffee house movement, the hippies, the Diggers, the Yippies or the pacifists nor the militant Maoist collectives was fragging. Fragging was an activity that arose in Vietnam and probably by a group of city urban dudes who were used to being knocked about imprisoned or shot at, and who had been in Vietnam killing Vietnamese of any kind — old, young, male, female, villagers or soldiers, lesbians, gays, straight, heterosexuals, peasants, and were constantly ambushed by General Giap’s forces — who were told “fight close to their belt buckles,” meaning when the ambushed American squad called in the Air Force to bomb the enemy, they were also instant collateral damage.

The introduction of fragging — probably was an old military habit of grunts stabbing (accidentally poking) their commanders, or inadvertently twanging an arrow at the leader on horse, or for because a poorly aimed blunderbus blew a hole in the Captain’s chest just as he commanded “Attack” (Adelante, Vorward, Charge) and other linguistic terms to move the groundlings into battle to be slaughtered.

Fragging frightened the military much more then the antiwar parades, dinky antiwar plays, skits, songs, even fire bombing cars and bringing the war home. Fragging was done by military personal, anonymously and close up to the officers, so as to make it clear that the war was not going smoothly. The grunts were taking the risks, wounds and deaths, and the commanders didn’t listen to the guys on the ground, or care for them. The fraggers (Noun ob. cit. “Die Fragger; en Espanol, Uno Fraggo”) apparently didn’t want to die for the cause of freedom, democracy, capitalist dominoes or the investors in war machines.

When US soldiers go to battle in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan (and perhaps in Columbia and the Philippines and any where else they are secretly doing damage) they risk being wounded, or killed. After killing all sorts of other people not everyone can wrap the flag around their nightmares and cure themselves. It is noted that some 250,000 returned Iraq war veterans who have depleted uranium in their bloodstream are also victims and medical cases of Post Murder Stress Syndrome. It is not easy for humans, even trained boot camp personnel to kill people indiscriminately in other lands, who happen to be in the way of oil or resource interests and exorbitant military tax paid contracts. (Exxon, Nov 10, 09, just won an oil contract in Iraq. How surprising.) War is profitable except for those who have to shoot, kill, blow up the “enemy” which in the occupied sense is almost everyone who isn’t an American.

When Americans start killing Americans the whole horrific facade crackles and is made transparent. When Obama and the Democrats send more troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan to kill more people, not only suicides of US troops will increase but one could predict, that copy cat fragging will erupt and one or another demonstrators who spout the same old clichés might consider adding “bring the war home.”

Then again, the war is being brought home, by all the nightmarishly sick, wounded crazed veterans who start drinking, beating themselves up and others around them. War is awful, while occupations are horrific, and invasions merciless.

The best use of the flag during Empyreal wars is on coffins.

R.G. Davis, Ph.D.
San Francisco


Dear Editor:

Hard not to notice and admire the persistence the AVA has exhibited over the years in challenging the shortcomings of the Mendocino County Office of Education. The big question of course is, why do we even have this agency? While I would not call this ongoing pursuit a Don Quixote assault on windmills, because the issues are very real, I would say it is a case of ramming one's head into a brick wall. The AVA assault will only result in a sore head, to the assaulter.

The education system is an oligarchy that is subservient to itself first, and as Emil Rossi would probably say, is unaccountable. I don’t know how many people notice, but with most government agencies it does not matter who is elected to government leadership positions, nothing changes even when things are really screwed up. This is certainly the case for our education system. We have an oligarchy of bureaucratic elite. This is not necessarily bad, since the quality of our elected leadership is dubious (and no, it does not seem to matter how much we pay them) but when the oligarchy gets too much out of touch with society’s needs it can create a huge problem. This is what we are seeing with our education system. This is why we see parents that actually want their children to get an education often times abandoning the the system. In Mendoland we are relatively lucky. People living in the ghettos of urban areas are not. And the education oligarchy does what it can to hold on to it’s urban subjects and prevent escapees. The subjects are needed or they don't get paid.

Much as the AVA might disagree, the situation we see in education with oligarchy’s that are unaccountable is the situation that exists with socialism. It is one reason why socialism fails and fails, and fails again. The hope is always that a future strong virtuous leader will correct these things. That future leader never emerges except in the form of the notorious despot. Better to not have these agencies to begin with, except if they are really needed. And better to have them locally funded and locally run.


George A. Hollister



Historic moments are always apparent when viewed in retrospect, but they are less obvious at the time of the event, which is why one should always strive to behave in a manner that will not prove embarrassing when examined at a later date.

If I am right, and President Obama can pull it off, the direction of America’s history, and thereby much of the rest of the world, will be unalterably changed in the next few weeks, and our national course will be toward Peace, not as a slogan but a policy reality going forward. Unlike the base calculations of the past half-century, dictated by a devotion to war as a measure of national power. There is every indication that the new president is turning away from expanding our military adventurism overseas and beginning to plan for the return of our troops from the far flung battle fields of America’s neo-empire.

On November 11, Veterans Day, President Obama made the traditional visit to the “Tomb of the Unknowns” at Arlington National Cemetery, where our war dead from the Civil War forward are buried. After the ceremonial wreath laying he diverted from his posted agenda and visited section 60, far across the cemetery, where the recent dead of Iraq and Afghanistan are buried, where he spoke quietly with a few of the visiting relatives and comrades tending the graves.

Later, on returning to the executive mansion, he convened the eighth in a series of “war council” meetings on the issue of how many troops to send to reinforce our NATO efforts in Afghanistan. All the nation’s policy and military advisors were there, including TV links to our embassy in Kabul. Every segment of the meeting had prepared their own options for the troop deployment and this was to be the last meeting before the president would make his decision between the plans offered.

The meeting was short. After a brief revue of the various options Obama sent everyone packing, back to the drawing boards to develop plans focused on the rapid transfer of security duties to the Afghan police and army, and an exit strategy for the withdrawal of our forces. The president then packed for his weeklong Asian trip, giving his minions just over that time to come up with their revised strategic recommendations.

The new calculations will include the immutable fact that we cannot afford the war, much less ten more years to fight to a draw. We haven’t the money or the time to try and create a rational central government in the land of local tribes, and spending the lives of our troops to try and do so is unforgivable. If the realities of the Afghan incursion are finally beginning to penetrate the political thinking of our political class there is hope that the ship of state can be tuned from disaster. Obama has the helm hard down, and the bow is beginning to swing away from the iceberg of Afghanistan.

Travis T. Hip
Nevada City


Dear Editor,

Since the days JFK got murdered and 9/11, many thousands of books have been written and more meetings convened in attempts to promote one view, or the other, the views being on opposite sides of the issues of Who Done It?

The Attach: has a .pdf link to an article originally in The about both these issues. It is titled The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll and I won't waste my or your time attempting to explain it or to write a review.

Simply put, I think it is a must read for all and a very difficult one to refute by anyone with an open mind. The facts are there to read and see.

Carl Flach

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