Thursday, June 28, 2018

Living Beyond Binary and South Coast New

Avila Beach, Ca
    Some 45 minutes south of us the central coast offers scenes reminiscent of Southern California. 
     It's hard not to smile or feel good when seeing a symphony of blue stretch the horizon and lap onto warm sand. Enjoy the vibe because we've got a brain bruiser for you below, but we begin with nice.
     Avila is bright, fresh and shiny. It was essentially rebuilt after a 1998 settlement where in Unocal took years taking the town apart, removing tons of earth, moving homes back into place or clearing property. It was all part of the mitigation of a tank farm leak.
     Long timers say before the leak and the tear down Avila was "low rent" and a not so appealing beach town. We were there during the remediation and now it is clear time, money and real estate development changes things.
         It has become a tourist and play beach, complete with resort, golf courses, hiking, biking trails, restaurants, bistros, pubs and recreation.

      A group of north coasters, from San Simeon and Cambria follow their tummies to a spot sired by a beloved chef.
      We've always enjoyed outings in Avila, though there is slight feeling of being at Disney Beach Town or maybe on the set of the Truman Show. There is a history here, but it's lost in the designer new. Great place to visit, but.....

back on the ridge
Pasta making training continues. This is the critical extrusion phase.

    Kids can lift the spirit. There is an innocence and joy that infuses. But it's not as simple as it used to be

boys and girls and transitions and identity
       At coffee the other day one of the guys asked if women's sports was going to be killed by the affect of trans athletes whose male DNA makes them of a particular muscle and bone structure that provides strength, speed and power to the extent of being an advantage over their female competitors.
     It's a question I'd never considered, but it is vexing isn't it?
Personal identity is more complicated when people identifying and living as a woman may have a penis or when a man keeps his vagina because he would like to bear a child. Imagine how mind boggling that sentence would have been to your parents or grand parents.
     We may identify by way of a choice, though biological functions might even be an irony of sorts. Sexual reassignment surgery is a path for some, but not for everyone. It is no longer a binary matter. 
    Living with how we are different as men or women or in search or undecided or transition brings a need for a new protocol as well as cultural cues. These are new times.
     We are all human and under it all, we are the same. Until we meld with technology and synthetic life, but that is for another day.

     the cringe factor

      Does it happen to you? You communicate with friends who are citizens of places other than the US and you cringe as you explain something the occupant of the White House tweets or says. As a case in point the recent boneheaded tantrum over Harley Davidson. It somehow diminishes us all.
       In fact he diminishes everything? Has our integrity and intelligence fallen so low that we actually deserve him? Who needs the zombie apocalypse? The brain dead rules already.      
      And now there is a new justice to choose. 
      Did I just detect another cringe?

      See you down the trail


Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Good Thing trumps Trump

orchid cactus bloom
something beautiful from something not so
dedicated to volunteers

   Lana and I have joined other volunteers in thumbing our noses at the Trump budget cuts and the Republican tax break for the wealthy that puts poor kids at risk. We are delivering summer lunches to kids who might not eat otherwise. It is happening in communities across the nation.
    Devastating budget cuts eliminated federal support to the supplemental nutrition assistance program. This put many  children at risk especially those who rely on school lunches as their primary meal of the day.
     We are working with Cambria Connection, a support and facilitation group that stepped up to make the summer lunch program work here.
         Cambria Connection raised the funds and put the pieces together. A high percentage of north coast San Luis Obispo County children live at or near poverty levels.
        Volunteers meet at Cambria Connection offices to pick up shipment coolers.

         Coast Union Campus
    The kids qualify for meal programs at school and social workers say it is the only reliable source of nutrition. The Coast Union High School Cafeteria was contracted to provide the food and lunch preparation during the summer recess.
           Crates of milk and boxes of sack lunches are readied.
       Some of you may be wondering why is there such a cluster of children in poverty in an area of retirees, vacation land, vineyards and ranches? They are the children of those who work in the hospitality industry-motel cleaners, gardeners, cooks, wait staff, repairmen, contractors, builders. 
        A poverty agency social worker says most of the parents work multiple jobs, sometimes as many as 3 apiece. She said these are people who could afford reasonable rent but they may not have social security numbers or credit cards  so they pay more for less in places where they must cluster together in one room, in an old motel, trying to cook on a hot plate or microwave. She said she has to be careful about how hard to push because it could make things worse.
        They've been here for years, have great worth ethic, are family people who are trying to make a better life, they contribute to the community, pay taxes, but they are between a rock and hard place. This administration's immigration tantrums has made life even more challenging and frightening especially for the kids. 
         Our Safe Harbor Presbyterian church like others have pitched in to help with funding and do the delivery of food to these children who are in need.
         Volunteers check random samples for temperature and record it in a journal.

   Great care is taken. This is an effort of love and service. 

     Up to one hundred sack lunches, prepared by Coast Union cafeteria, are loaded into coolers.

         Once the coolers are loaded and checked volunteers drive to the distribution points.
            The primary destination is an apartment complex in San Simeon, in the shadow of the famous Hearst Castle. At this location 60 meals are left in the refrigerator in the community room. There are other delivery points as well.
        This method allows families and children to collect the food privately. Since the administration has stepped up ICE enforcement, many have been reluctant to participate in large gatherings.
           The Cambria Connection staff monitors the distribution point. In the first lunch distribution all but 10 of the meals were taken the first day. By mid-day the second day they were gone. Boxes of produce are delivered and used. 
       Our little villages Cambria and San Simeon are small players in the overall scope of things, but each of the meals, delivered twice a week this summer is nothing small or insignificant to children who are hungry
         In communities around the US, organizations like Cambria Connection and local churches are stepping up efforts.
           Despite the tone of the current administration, programs like the summer lunch emergency assistance demonstrates that millions of US citizens adhere to a different set of values. As the Cambria Connection statement says, "Everyone Matters."

something else that is lovely

   Finally, finally, the bougainvillea seems to have decided to grow up this post.
   Lana's grandmother's orchid cactus is having an sensational season of blooms.  Look at those in cue.

    See you down the trail.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Paying Attention

natural remedies
    Offering a few seasonal scenes from Cambria as an antidote to the rumbling madness that angers and depresses.
         This post is dedicated to responsible fathers, especially Karl W. Cochrun. A WWII veteran with a life long interest in politics and public policy. He often invoked the famous quote "I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."
       A pretty scene and a few deep breaths before we rally our senses and better angels.

maybe we should leave angels out of this
      Jeff Sessions may wish he never pushed his luck by invoking the words of Paul in defending the evil of taking children from their parents.
       Others have also mistakenly appropriated those words; those who defended slavery, advocates of segregation, proponents of apartheid in South Africa, supporters of Nazism, and those who would deny church and communion to people who are LGBTQ. It is counterfeit Christianity and in the past few days more complete reading and interpretation  of what Paul said about love, hospitality and the fulfillment of law from those with Ph.Ds and Th.Ds. and years of pastoring negate the preposterous attempt to defend US barbarism. It  exposed Session's malevolent intent. 
        I don't mean to invoke a theological debate as this nation, like this readership, has divergent views, but weaponizing words of faith is the work of bigots, judgmental zealots and tyrants. Trying to explain an awful policy in the context of the will of God is just one more warning sign.

we are seeing shadows of history

      Republican Senator Bob Corker said it is becoming a "cultish thing."
        Author Dana Milbank made it more pointed saying it isn't religion but a perversion. He adds "It is not the creed of a democratic government or a political party but an authoritarian cult."
        As I write this I see the faces of people I know and friends, who out of desperation or hope for a change, anger, or contempt for other candidates, cast votes for Trump. They are "my surrogate" for the minority of Americans who voted for him and who still support him. They are the blood line of Trumpism.
        I can't imagine any of them expected this sort of thing. As example, in the week their president staged a photo op non substantial "summit" paying homage to one of the world's despots, getting nothing in return, his attorney general tried to justify unAmerican behavior misquoting the Bible. Let me check something, the North Koreans issued a statement they have issued several times since the 90's and did promise to return remains of Americans killed in the Korean War. But even here, the Trumpism stain is evident. 
      Trump said that during the campaign many parents of GI's killed in Korea asked him to get their sons returned. It's another instance of this delusional man's lies. Those parents, if their GI kids were 18, and they were 18 when they gave birth, would be 104 now. Of course most of the Korean vets were older, and so would be their parents.
it is bad health to ignore warning signs

      Trump is a serial liar who will get away with it for as long as those who voted for him continue to ignore the warning signs.
       It is no wonder aids and staff are quitting. 51% of those who have worked for him have resigned. That is a warning sign. 
       Almost every respected conservative thinker, writer and analyst is reviled by the damage he is doing. Some of his own party call him a traitor, a Russian stooge, a corrupt grifter getting rich off the Presidency. You would expect his supporters to ignore such charges from Democrats or liberals, but not from people like George Will, Charles Krauthamer, and others.
       Some of you were quite critical when I wrote there are similarities between Trump and Trumpism and dictators and their followers including Hitler. Nothing has dissuaded me. This man who former Republican Presidents, cabinet officers, military leaders and intelligence chiefs said was "unfit and unqualified" is getting worse, abusing the American way and our sense of justice. It is frightening so many are blind to what is taking place. 

the cultish thing

      Consider what Milbank wrote
       But a cult, by definition, is not about mainstream theology. I looked up characteristics of cults in the sociological literature to see how Trump’s stacks up. 
□ “Presents a distinct alternative to dominant patterns within the society in fundamental areas of religious life.” Grab ’em by the p---y!
□ “Possessing strong authoritarian and charismatic leadership.” I alone can fix it!
□ “Oriented toward ‘inducing powerful subjective experiences.’ ” Alternative facts. Fake news!
□ “Requiring a high degree of conformity.” See: Flake, Jeff and Sanford, Mark. 
□ A tendency “to see itself as legitimated by a long tradition of wisdom or practice.” It is very biblical to enforce the law. 
Check, check, check, check and check.
           And members of the Cult of Trump, formerly known as the GOP, follow him over the cliff and onto the spaceship. They swallowed their heretofore pro-life, pro-family and pro-faith views to embrace Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries (“Such blatant religious discrimination is repugnant,” said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) and applaud him tossing paper towels at Puerto Ricans as they died by the thousands because they didn’t get adequate hurricane relief. 
        They’ve joined his efforts to shred food, income and health programs that help the least among us while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest. They’ve accepted his abandonment of human rights abroad. They’ve joined his attempt to end family-based immigration and to threaten deportation of “dreamers,” immigrants brought here as children.
It appeared, briefly, that things might be different this time. House Republicans drafted legislation allowing children to be detained with their parents. But Trump on Friday signaled that he would veto the bill, and, as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said this week, the “last thing I want to do is bring a bill out of here that I know the president won’t support.” This is the way of the cult. 
          Will the vivid cruelty of taking babies from parents, coupled with the obscene use of Scripture to justify it, finally lead some Trump supporters to abandon the compound? God knows.

       Isn't there a breaking point somewhere? I would hope those who thought Trump was sane, honest, committed to  hearing and helping them will wake up and realize he is out only for himself, as he has always been. He lied to you to get your vote.
see something, say something

     He may well be the low point in Presidential history and he may have damaged two centuries of nationhood. I think that as a man he is scum. As a leader he is at best a divider. At worst he acts like a traitor, a tyrant, a Russian stooge and an narcissistic bully who trusts only himself ignoring even his own appointed advisors. Please remember one of the smartest men he appointed called the president a "fucking moron!"  When, for heavens sake, will people wake up?
    We often wondered how in the world German people could permit the rise of their great evil cult of Nazism. I fear we are seeing history repeat itself. People refuse to believe the truth or they make excuses, the most common being he's just shaking up things or the media is out to get him.      
     Taking babies from parents and saying it is the will of God is only the latest warning sign that those specters from the past are looming over our future. Trumpism is anti American.
      Traditional Republicans need to rise up, and Democrats need to be much better. Some where, some way between them we need to regain our senses and stop the perversion of America and destroy "this cultish thing" of Trumpism.
      Sorry to bore you with more of this, or to beat this maybe dead horse, but I hope it helps to open eyes. And I want my daughters and grand children to know that we all have a voice and if we want our voices to remain free and be a part of a chorus in this democratic republic we have to take it seriously and to be diligent. This gang is bad for the US and its bad for the world. 
     How much difference is there between Trumpism and Nazism? Both seek to silence critics and undermine the credibility of science, intellectual study, journalism. They would not defend the right of someone who disagrees. My father would be ready for a fight, not unlike the one he gave years of his life to, to stop Nazism that was left unchecked by German citizens.

     See you down the road.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Confessions of a Radical?

 Brothers John and Jim
your blogger circa '66
what to do about the establishment
   Surely many of you heard or took part in debates about "trusting or changing the establishment." Establishment was the cultural shorthand for the power elite, especially what later generations of politicians came to call "Washington and Wall Street," Eisenhower's "military industrial complex" or even more recently the swamp. It was also about how we lived, loved, thought, and behaved. 
    Change it from with in or by revolution? My brothers, pictured above, were inclined to revolutionary change. As their older brother I was already invested in journalism, observing and reporting and had been since high school.
    We had lively debates often joined by our parents both of whom were political veterans, studied people in addition to being WW II participants. There was no "generation gap" as such with unfixable fissures, but our family had a diversity of opinion.
    John, on the left, two years my junior was of the SDS/Weather Underground mind set. Jim was simply the brightest of the three and a poet philosopher, free spirit and gentle soul who broke with convention in almost every way. I guess I was a pragmatist, relying on reason.

the evolution of a "radical"

       My involvement in campus politics (that candidate for class senator on the far right is a baby version of your blogger) combined with my professional work as a street and police beat reporter in Muncie edged me in my own direction.
       I would sometimes ride with cops on a Saturday night as they rounded up drunks and broke up fights, which in blue collar Muncie was a full deployment. The way some of the detainees were beaten with night sticks seemed at odds with the sociology courses I took.
      It was the mid '60s and the Klan still marched, and blacks were denied access in some establishments. I covered sit ins and marches and got tossed down stairs by a Klan leader.
      All of this was a vastly different world than my beautiful campus and the vibe in the fraternity house. I began to cogitate. Academia would not, nor should it, insulate. Like the world, our campus was changing. 
     I raised issues of equality and civil liberties in Student Senate where I served my freshman and sophomore years.
    I got behind a Professor's declaration of Human Rights-ground breaking and long before feminism and LGBTQ entered the public mind. It was at a time when blacks were treated as less than full citizens in housing, banking and access.
     The writing seems a bit leaden and ponderous but it was 50 years ago and I was a kid.
the radical box
     I became an advocate for the abolition of dorm hours-that moved me onto the "radical" list. 
      Colleagues in the long and complex battle to eliminate women's hours were Jeff Lewis, Jon Hughes, and Jim Davis.
      Jeff went on to a vibrant career in public policy, marketing and later in opinion research. 
     Jon became a noted photographer, writer and professor who drove the establishment of a journalism school at the University of Cincinnati. 
     Jim Davis is the creator of Garfield the cat and presides over the Paws empire. 
      Butting heads with a University administration and government was a tall order but we were eventually successful. That changed the campus landscape and culture.
     I ran for the University Judicial Board (Supreme Court) my Junior year. I felt restrained by the traditional campus parties  and sensed the world was changing more rapidly than we were responding. The Judicial Board in my senior year would be a way to move ideas.
     The 1968 political campaign loomed and there were explosive issues of war and peace, civil rights and change that stirred me.

      Brother John shaved most his beard and cut his hair to 
"get clean with Gene", Senator Eugene McCarthy, the anti war democrat. John worked for McCarthy and above is seen serving as a body guard and beer drinking pal of actor Paul Newman who campaigned for McCarthy.
      I suffered my first campus election defeat that year as our  party was swept by a vigorous opponent.

progressive arises
       I came back my senior year with different ideas. I had been studying the emerging intellectual political movements of Dadaism, Herbert Marcuse, the Provos of Amsterdam, the Diggers of San Francisco, intellectual anarchism, Rudi Dutschke, Daniel Cohn-Bendit and others. All of that was a far stretch for a state university in the mid west.
   A ready ally was a fraternity brother who may be the deepest thinking and most intelligent person I know. People still marvel at how he ate through Philosophy classes and professors. He went on to a fine career serving as an attorney, prosecutor, Judge and just maybe the Rolling Stone's greatest fan. He's traveled the world to see them. 
   Ed was always up for a good joke and we thought we'd try to introduce a few "new ideas" to what we saw as the moribund political culture on campus. We created PUP-the Progressive University Party.
    We got pilloried by the campus newspaper.
    In the cartoon below-Ed is portrayed as speaking to the reporter. I am the pup.
   The editorial was more precise than the cartoon.

Fine Arts Building, Ball State University
Photo by Encyclopedia Brittanica 
   We had in fact accomplished something. We were able to "unite" a divergent group with a unified objective.
    The historic arts building displayed a giant US flag on a main hallway. The flag was old, dirty and even a bit frayed. PUP was able to get cooperation from the conservative Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), the Young Peoples Socialist League (YPSL), Young Republicans, Young Democrats, the fraternity council IFC, sorority council Panhellenic, the Newman Society and others, that the issue of the flag should be addressed and something needed to be done. The flag had been there for decades. Ed and I took delight in thinking we were able to bring all of the extremes and different groups together. We though PUP would be politics with a sense of humor.

   These are notes from one of our brainstorming sessions as we began to articulate what would become our manifesto.
    We would not have signed off on all of these-in fact the fight over what to select would be interesting, but this demonstrates the range of thought in our "thought group."
     Abolition of Hours, one quarter housing fees, pass fail in general education courses, faculty evaluation, equal student representation, discussing changes in tenure and department  chairman reports hold up as solid ideas.
     But life intervened. The day after our "flag union" I was involved in a serious auto accident. I was riding in the front seat, in an era before seat belts were the norm. I was thrown through the windshield, was jerked back through, and tossed from the car. I suffered a compound skull fracture, breaking 
everybone in my face and would have bled to death had it not been for fraternity brothers and a Muncie police officer who was also a Ball State student. I was in a coma for a while and when I came back to campus I struggled to graduate, work and get healthy.
      My days of "radical" politics were over. After that I spent almost 5 decades in journalism and broadcasting and left the politics to others.
      I came across these papers in an old file as I have been working to organize some of my archives for the Indiana Historical Society that has curated some of my early journalism and investigative reporting.
      A few of us from that era were together recently and we concluded the late 60's were without precedent and peer.
      From here it all seems so playful and hopeful. 

celebrating the fava

  Lana's green ways delivered us another bountiful year of our beloved fava beans.

for your amusement
a dancing chair


        See you down the trail.