Bowling for Bowling

August 29th, 2015

~ Life is made up of the school of hard knocks.

August 29, 2015 ∩ 18:30 UTC

In the beginning there was bowling, the knocking down of objects, later of pins.  Bowling is a lot like billiards, like ‘pocket’ billiards (pool), where one uses a ball to put other balls in motion.  In bowling, it is a larger ball that puts pins in motion, large pins, not the really small pins made mostly of metal.

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In American bowling the ball is very large too.  One gets more ‘bang for the buck’ with the large ball, than with the small ball of ‘duck pin’; small ball, smaller pins.

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So, it is clear why, in time, televised ‘Championship Bowling’ became a nationally televised game show – Bowling for Dollars.  The exact date, even the exact year, of the first broadcast of Bowling for Dollars has been lost to history, at least lost on Google, and on the web.  I remember seeing it by about 1965.  I was a bowler back then, and a bowler before (then).

bowling-alley

KTVU was a popular TV station serving Oakland, reaching Stockton and San Jose (all in California).  They carried a program, Dialing for Dollars.  It was probably the program that inspired the Bowling for Dollars gig.  Although I would have said (wrongly) that it was the other way around.

Fifties television was like that; always promoting the idea of money coming out of thin air.  There was the Millionaire program, about how a worthy person gets a knock on the door and a check for one million smack-a-roo’s for nothing more than a smile and a handshake.

Queen for a Day was my grandmother’s favorite.  It featured very sad and even seemingly very pathetic everyday housewives that were lifted momentarily out of their daily drudgery with small gifts, a cape, and a crown.  Real royals they were not.

The (very rigged) $64,000 (USD) Question was based on the premise that being smart and educated would bring one fortune and fame.  It did more for putting people in college than a thousand ‘GI Bills’ that promoted ‘higher’ education.  But even the GI Bill was all about free money.

It’s clear that the real American Dream, and much of American exceptionalism is less about the rewards of hard work and more about free money, E-Z money, EZ big money, and just ‘money, money, money‘ as Hollywood would say; as those in Hollywood always say.

It was an oft repeated Old Testament idea that “God favored his favorites by bestowing them with money.”  It is this notion on which the religion of money is founded.  The Catholic Church promotes the idea, most of the Jewish culture and religion, almost all of the Protestant ‘fundies’.  The idea represents the transportation of American wealth and power across politics, religion, cultural divides, and the right and the left.

Janis Joplin knew this.  She felt this reality to the core of her soul.  This was the last song she recorded, just before the time of her death (10-4 on 10/4/1970):  

Oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

Oh lord won’t you buy me a color TV.
Dialing for dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until 3.
So oh lord won’t you buy me a color TV.

Oh lord won’t you buy me a night on the town.
I’m counting on you lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round.
Oh lord won’t you buy me a night on the town.
Everybody….
Oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.

There is another side of life.  There is ‘bowling for bowling, not bowling for dollars’.  There may not be dial telephones anymore, but there are keypads for reaching in and reaching out and not just keypadding for dollars.  There are ‘business calls’, sure.  But, the real business about many or most calls involve getting the low down on how low the money crafters and the power mongers go, or have gone.

It’s the last chance day at the last chance saloon or the last day cafe.  To coin a metaphor – if you’re lookin’ for planes to know the fate of the towers you haven’t studied the basement too much lately.  Ground zero started at ground zero; it should be obvious by now.  One event is earth shaking, the other is just an air blast.  Smoke and mirrors; one makes you look up when you really should look down.  There’s always a reflection from the still and deep waters.

Fourteen years ago, just before, or about on this day, I wrote a word document on Works on my new Sony Visio desktop computer.  I still have the computer and I still have the file.  The title of the post (but it was never put up, or put out there) was Beware the East Gate.  I thought it was about genealogy at the time, about my grandmother and her parents maybe.  It wasn’t.  Or it was and it wasn’t; it’s complicated, or it is very simple.

I wrote of the visage of a man with a long beard, mid-eastern.  Behind him were diamonds.  The East Gate, of course was New York; that (to me) was clear at the time.  Much of the rest of the writing was a mystery.  I had written the words, but the words, while very compelling, seemed to have so little understandable meaning (at the time).  That all changed in little more than 11 days.

Castle Garden is just 2,700 feet (less than ½ mile) away from the Twin Trade Towers site.  Castle Garden in Battery Park, is now Castle Clinton.  It was the first entry point, “gate”, for immigrants entering America and New York.  It was where my Swedish great-grandparents came in, landed, came ashore, registered to make it all legal.  Ellis Island is there too, close by but not near by, both in space and in time.  It is more than twice as far away (physically) as Castle Garden.  And Ellis is another island, not on Manhattan Island, which is a big island – more like the mainland.

My great-grandparents did not come to America looking for money.  They came over to look for land, the good land, good black backland like the fertile black forest land like that that the fortunate few enjoyed back in Sweden.

It’s been feeling a lot lately like that late August day just fourteen years away.  The closer to September it gets, the stronger the feeling.  So much of life seems so cyclical, the “cyseans” I guess; the movement from late summer to fall.  It’s the divergence between the ‘school’ summer, the ‘summer work’ summer and the ‘axis tilt’ summer that changes on the equinox sometime in September (September 23, 2015 @ 04:21 a.m. EST this year).

Monday September 7, 2015 is Labor Day in the United States of America this year.  It’s a holiday of course, the last day of summer; very near when most young people in American begin to go back to school.  School calendars vary of course, but Tuesday, September 8th, is often certainly a date to notice, or to take notice of.  Three days later is 9/11.  Two weeks later is September 22nd, easy to remember because of the 22 stars on the seal of Homeland Security (DHS).  So those are the 15 days between 9/7 and 9/23 in the year 2015.  They are the last days of summer, or the first days of fall, depending upon your perspective or persuasion.

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Anyway, the odds are that this September will be like any other September, for whatever that means.  The difference this year is that, because of the web, one can project the dates onto a map (timeline) of the future.  One month from now we’ll all know what happened.  Would knowing early really make any difference at all?  Ten pins.  How many up or down determines the game.

9/11 Revisited, on the down slope of history.

August 17th, 2015

~ Most see history as a ‘tabula rasa’, a flat plain, not a ‘flat plane’.

August 17, 2015 ∩ 22:15 UTC

There is yet another new video that’s out about 9/11, the 9-1-1 emergency.  The root of emergency is emergence, like a new born baby crying; sometimes there seems to be a lot of noise.

‘Noise’, ‘chatter’ are words that are often used to “get the ship confused (@ 1:10)” in popular parlance.  The old trick to seeing the truth about TV was to turn off the volume.  It works with soap operas and quiz shows, it also works with the news.

What real planes look like at quite a distance.

What real planes look like at quite a distance.

The camera work of the cameras and cameramen (and persons) is usually not good enough to tell its own story.  That’s where dialogue, voice-overs, sound-tracks, musical scores, sound effects, and jet sounds (“the sound of freedom”) come in; and expletives, did I forget the effective use of expletives in creating a very dramatic “heart felt” news story?

So now I guess you get the drift of this post.  This post goes beyond what is posited as a possibility in the new video tape link, linked above.  Turn that sound off too, it might really help.

If you maybe weren’t alive, or conscious, the day the real 9-1-1 happened there are a lot of ‘continuous coverage’ video tapes up on the web.  One can literally review the history, with the sound-off this time.

Everyone in America, if not in the world, knows the script.  The “the plane,” “a plane,” “another plane,” and “planes” were the words of the day.  Most often ‘the planes’ were not there unless you heard them from the lips of a witness or announcer; meaning heard about them.    Sometimes you could read about the planes on fairly instantly created captions.  Actually seeing good clear pictures of real planes is quite a different matter.

Let’s think about this for a moment.  There were three film sites on 9/11.  The LAX shots, the Emma E. Booker school shots, other shots at other locations were just a distraction.  They really were not a part of the story.

Working backwards (maybe), the FIRST film site was in the area at or near Shanksburg (PA).  It’s simple, there is not one shot of the plane, neither live, video-taped, nor still.  It’s like the Roswell crash site, “where is the photographic evidence?”

The SECOND film site is the Pentagon.  Flight 77 is said to have slammed into the west wall.  There is no live picture, no video-tape, no still shot of a plane.  There is very grainy video that seems to show something flying, and very fast.  The two video-tapes that exist were ‘produced’ 56 months after the actual event, just sayin’.  The ‘plane’ is just one frame (@ 1:45) on the tape, and only a very small half-plane at that.  It’s like the Roswell crash site event, “we wait five years and there is not even a balloon.”

The THIRD film site is the 9/11 trifecta event; the three trade towers that virtually disappeared on September 11, 2001.  Look at the date, three ones, three sites, three towers; it’s 111 x 2; rather easy to remember don’t you think?

Two Tower debris field with the Third Tower shown.

Two Tower debris field with the Third Tower shown.

So everyone can agree that the film footage for the plane destruction of WTC Building #7 went missing.  Blame it on a union grievance, a very late lunch, a vary bad day at the office; meaning the film office perhaps.  The world was waiting for the 1,2,3 punch on New York and only the first two plane punches (putsches) ever came.  Maybe it was the wiring, maybe the demolition team just wasn’t ready.  Maybe the video effects team just couldn’t get all the camera angles just right.

The theory here is that the plane image dispatch on WTC 7 was scrubbed, but the building still had to be scrubbed because it had been totally wired.  It would have been the smoking gun as to how it was done, meaning how the ²/³ of the trifecta had nothing to do with planes, but only with wired towers.  Anyway, there was an agenda on why even Building 7 had to be taken out.  So it was, and the film footage documents that there was plenty of warning.

The most universal feeling as the day, as the ‘events’, unraveled and unfolded was that it was like watching a movie, that it was, “just unreal.”   And maybe it was.  And it was a very challenging ‘movie’ to make – no doubt about it.

Hollywood is famous for movies and making movies.  Sometimes just one scene takes 15 or 20 ‘takes’ to get it just right.  In New York there are ‘stage shows’; always less forgiving.  When the action (on stage) in New York is live, the rule of thumb and the rule of success is to get it right the first time, and every time.  The audience won’t ever come back if you mess it up badly.

It was a conceptual challenge really; making this live action, historically revisionist, modified ‘Mockumentary.”  Why rewrite history after the fact when you can present the distortion in real-time, live; it’s so much more efficient that way, so much more satisfying?

Every real movie made always begins with the wires, the cables, the connections that connect the generators to the lamps, to the camera booms and the lights on the actors.  ‘Lighting up’ a scene takes a lot of preparation, expense, and just good old hard work.  The ‘cable guys’ are often well paid, but always stay out of the limelight.

The only real live action part of this movie was the buildings blowing up, or apart, or whatever; and of course even that was totally scripted.  The demolition scenes involved a cast of thousands.  It was New York, lots of people, live theatre, a wonderful opportunity for crowd scenes, live action panic, people running like in every Hollywood Sci-fi spectacle ever made, but no cheesy image of saucers or giant spiders.

In every Hollywood production that ever went bad it was because of 1.) a totally bad script, or 2.) special effects that turned out to be not all that special.

Over acting: the waving of hands, an excess of pointing, a smirk when there should be a frown, too much emotion, can all be forgiven, and will be forgiven and forgotten by the average audience.  This, every director knows, that’s why they hire ‘extras’, and not just actors to appear in every and all scenes.  Who wouldn’t want a ‘cameo appearance’ in the greatest screen play ever made?  It’s not just the big bucks that motivate; sometimes it is fear, and sometimes it is fame.

There is a good, deep, rich color to every live explosion.  Booms and blasts are effective.  They bring color and pathos to an otherwise dull movie.  This movie was not to be a ‘blood & guts’ thriller, no up front faces of bodies on sidewalks, of splat marks on the sidewalk 96 stories down.  The graphic gore of the Boston Massacre (Boston Marathon bombing) could wait to come later.  This event was PG rated, a fit for the whole family, a preliminary mockumentary on why they grope you just to fly.

The demolition crew was probably told that they were just pre-wiring the buildings for a distant future destruction.  When the buildings went down they knew that they were all instant felons if anyone spoke up, or was ever caught.  The electric chair would be likely – the irony.

The directors knew where every explosive was placed.  It was easy to plan camera angles and to pre-position cameras.  Tests were made using filters and just the right lens and lenses.  Great detail in high resolution would capture the flames, the dust, the explosions.  It would be in high contrast to the special effects involved with the planes.

Every movie has a story board, which is always made first.  9/11 was no exception.  All the ‘live feeds’ were carefully planned.  The stakes involved a more than $10 Trillion dollar production, nothing less than the entire command and control of America was at stake.  Spending a billion dollars or two on this, at most, 10 hour live event was a lot like making a block-buster movie and four simple sequels.  The block-buster part was actually busting apart America’s most expensive block, the WTC site with America’s two tallest office towers.

It would be an amazing 10 hour ‘America under Attack’ and the President of the United States would only get a 10 minute cameo appearance out of the 600 minutes shown.  Such a deal.

The special effects, the “plane scenes,” were kept very plain and simple.  There was plane one, plane two, plane three, (the best airplane filmed footage) was scrubbed.  The plan was bad, better, best.  The first plane was not much more than a charcoal image, the second plane had no markings, but some detail.  The third plane, the Shanksville jet, would come in low and slow, so everyone could clearly see all the markings, the ‘press’ that is; as the area had been mostly cleared (said the script).

So, look at the maybe sixteen seconds (total) of plane scenes.  There really aren’t many.  Most were shown literally 40 times per hour, 400 or more times on that day.  There were five or six scenes, times 400 = 2000 video tape reminders of “the planes” on that day.  Most people have not seen their own baby pictures, or wedding pictures, that many times.

Human awareness is closing in.  We’re on the down slope of history right now.  Things are converging.  The truth is really out there, like Fox Mulder once said.  “It’s a bird, it’s a plane; no, it’s just men messing with steel.”  The real 9/11.  Number 9, it’s soon to be over.

“Retaliation gone bad”

August 17th, 2015

~ ‘Retaliation gone bad’ raises the question of what is ‘retaliation that is good’.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The backstory is a story from Albuquerque about the recent arrest of a shooter, in a less recent drive-by, that is the son of a noteworthy politician, a woman in New Mexico that has attained a position in the halls of power.

The notable quote in the story is the summary of the situation, “a retaliation gone bad.”  The point apparently being that since the shooter did not shoot-up his intended victim, the ‘retaliation’ for the perceived previous wrongs had not been ‘righted’ in the right way.

May 23, 1934 lesson in retaliation.

May 23, 1934 lesson in retaliation.

All this of course caused me to immediately consider the question of what is ‘retaliation that is good’, and what does that mean, and where do we get this stuff, and finally – why should we care?

My first image of course was the Twin Towers, 9/11, the attack on the Pentagon and on Building 7.  Forgiveness back then was of course not an option.  It may have been an option with me, but I was not in a position in the halls of power.  The word of the day was revenge, retaliation, pay-back at whatever the cost.  In retrospect, the cost has been very, very, and even extremely, high.

Very high too was the cost of ‘right retaliation’ in the case of Pearl Harbor, that ‘day of infamy’ event that ushered the U.S. into the second World War, and made a simple war in Europe an almost world-wide calamity.  Retaliation is code-word for escalation and escalation is always the key to increasing the violence and not ending it.

At Pearl Harbor the Japanese military orchestrated the death of approximately 2,400 members of the American military.  On August 6 and 9, 45 months later, in 1945, the American military orchestrated the deaths of approximately 240,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, with just two bombs, dropped on two days.  This single event in the war was a 100 to 1 retaliation; need I say more?  And this was the ‘good war’ with ‘good retaliation’?

There is probably nothing more (or else) that is as firmly embedded in the American psyche as the theory and importance of retaliation.  Retaliation is what made the murder and massacre of Bonnie and Clyde, without charges or trial, so palatable and acceptable.  Retaliation is the keystone to the American prison system, a ‘correctional’ system characterized by rape, degradation, and numerous forms of officially sanctioned and tolerated human depravity.

American style corporate capitalism is perhaps the hallmark of the retaliatory system.  The system begins by severely punishing the employees that made the mistake of believing in the system in the first place.  The corporate world turns 80% of its workers into ‘bottom feeders’ that often are not paid enough to get by, or to only get by very poorly. 

The system leeches off the government by refusing to pay the costs of job preparation (training), which is the ‘public education’ factor.  The system then goes on to leech the system by being dependent upon free government food, often housing, and subsidized medical care to keep the underpaid workers afloat.

The workers are further punished (retaliated against) by being made to feel that they are ‘slackers’ that they are not ‘wealth creators’ and therefore are contributing next to nothing to the system.

Most ‘mid-level’ managers do not fare much better.  By the end of the typical corporate career they are left imbued with a belief in a life-style that they can little afford.  Their greatest memories are often a few years in public education, or of military service.  They are left in the trash-heap of history with the feeling that until retirement, life just passed them by.  In most cases that ‘retirement’ would not ever have been possible without the government ‘dole’ of military pensions or Social Security, or in so many cases, both.

The truth about the American system is that it is not the world that is out to get you, it is the system itself that is out to get nearly everyone, and so often it does.  And too, sometimes it misses someone, or so it is said.

The premise of the system is that everyone should always be looking out for someone ‘out there’ that is always ready to do someone wrong.  The ‘rape of Belgium’, the ‘persecution of the Jews’, the ‘poor sailors on the good ship Arizona’; all are examples of wrongs that must be ‘righted’ by the infliction of violence and the destruction of most everything once regarded as sacred.

The ensuing violence is always an orgy, a ritual, a ‘learning experience’ in which the event is never complete until the orgy spills over into the inevitable ‘slaughter of innocents’, which is the only thing that really gives the whole ordeal its proper (really improper) meaning.

9/11 is perhaps the perfect example.  At least 1.5 million people world-wide have died in retaliation for the ‘3,000’ that were killed in the eastern U.S., mostly in New York.  It is a 500 to 1 retaliation affair.

But, it doesn’t stop, and hasn’t stopped, there.  We are now in the ‘slaughter of innocents’ phase.  Our terrorist drones search out and destroy whole families, family members, friends and neighbors, often of ‘friendlies’.  There are just not enough real enemy combatants to feed the machine of war and retaliation.  The blood lust has no end as long as the mantra is ‘never again’.

As everyone knows by now the Japanese military had a 1.2 million man army in Manchuria (Manchukuo) on August 6th and 9th.  They were just sitting there mostly, ‘ripe for the killing’, just waiting to be bombed with an atom bomb or two, directed against the military, and a traditional military target, troop concentrations.

Not the point?  No, the point of retaliation is to inflict pain, to punish the perpetrator by saying, “look, look at the damage and destruction that you made me cause.”  Like in Albuquerque, ‘retaliation gone wrong’ is really always ‘retaliation done right’.  It’s the name of the game, it’s understanding the game that is the only thing that is important.  My advice; don’t play.

Sylvester Churchill & the Kearny Conspiracy

August 10th, 2015

~ Abbreviations, abbreviated history, and the personal connections in the quest for the past.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear Donald,

This is presented in the ubiquitous ‘letters to oneself’ format (literally) or perspective (that somehow has to do with “the Donald”, but is not this Donald, but then maybe in some ways it is).

Anyway, ‘this Donald’ first attended his first school in first grade in (or at) Fremont School, a new school then, in its first year.  It was in Carson City, in 1954.  This Donald was just six.

And so it begins, or so it began.  As anyone who has ever gone to school probably already knows, school, each school year, begins with orientation.  It’s the map thing, ‘orient’ being east, orientation is figuring out where ‘you’ are.  It was teachers then who figured out where you are, where you were, where perhaps you were going.

I was going to Fremont School, Fremont Elementary School, named for (or after) John C. Frémont, short for John Charles Frémont, and the accent really is, or was, important.  In Carson City the accent was not deemed to be important, it was not taught, it was my introduction to a modified and abbreviated history.


Kit Carson on a mule at the Carson City capitol in Nevada.

The chicken and egg question in Carson City was which, or who, came first – Fremont or Carson?  For me ‘Carson’ came first, or at least I came first to Carson City, before Fremont Elementary was even ever built.  Carson, the person that the City was named after, or for, referred to ‘Kit’ Carson, the trapper, the explorer, the ‘Indian fighter’, the Scout; or so I was taught, or so I was told.  I was also told that ‘Scout’ did not mean that Kit Carson was a Boy Scout, or a Cub Scout, but was a real scout that gave, by example, the zeal and zest that scouting (Cub and Boy) really stood for, like being outdoors and always learning new things.

I guess everybody, meaning every adult of, or at, the time, knew that the only reason why Kit Carson was anywhere near Carson City was that he was in the company of Fremont (Frémont).  So, Fremont (Frémont) was in (or near) Carson City too.  The fact was that (though) nobody really seemed to know where, how close, or really exactly which route either of them, or both of them, actually took, or would take as they passed through, or passed by, Carson City or Eagle Valley or where ever ‘we’, meaning ‘they’ were back then, before there were names on things and places to orient us all.


New Spain in 1819, before Texas and after the Louisiana acquisition.

That was the point of the Frémont Expedition, to map things and to locate things on the maps.  He was a surveyor, a cartographer, an explorer of sorts.  Frémont was a botanist, a biologist, an observer of life, the ultimate outdoorsman.   He was also a husband, a hunter, a family man, a military man, an illegitimate son, a rising star, a national hero, a revolutionary, an abolitionist, and also a spy.  He was not above the occasional massacre or murder, but perhaps all that was done in the ‘national interest’, so added to the list might be ‘American sniper’.

None of the information in the preceding paragraph was imparted to me as I entered Fremont School   “Fremont was an explorer,” it was said, “he discovered the west.”  Fremont Elementary School was basically elementary, it was not complex, not comprehensive, not broad.  It did not offer a particularly broad education.  If it had been in Oregon it would have credited Lewis & Clark with ‘discovering’ the west, but then again it would have been named the Lewis and Clark School.   In Santa Fe (New Mexico) I might have been taught that Onate and Coronado discovered the west, in Taos I would have been taught that the west had always been there, the Taos and Taos Pueblo thing.

If there is one thing that I have learned in my fairly long life it is that every history is often just a matter of place and a matter of perspective.  It is very hard to do what Frémont tried to do, and that is map out everything as a cohesive whole.   There just isn’t a chart big enough, there isn’t enough paper or ink, there is never enough detail, clarity, or color.  So, enter the web.

The web is probably aptly named.  the term ‘tangled web’ would probably be redundant.  What the web really represents is the tangled, complex, diverse and divergent, often confused and discordant, reflection of history.  It is a reflection of that which makes it up: documents, editorials, writings, reminisces, reports; reports about what has ever happened, where it happened, what went right and more often what really went wrong.  And most importantly, the web is the record of people; it is after all, like life itself, a very personal thing.

Fort Churchill is Nevada’s oldest fort, it is 20 miles north and east of Carson City.  I have relatives buried there.  The fort looms rather large in close and early family history, and too, in the larger history of things.

Fort Churchill is named for (or after) Sylvester Churchill.  And Sylvester Churchill is somehow related through the far past to the other Churchill, better known, with the first name of Winston.  One strand of every web always connects with another.

Not too much is known about the life of Sylvester Churchill, that is, without a fair amount of digging.  Dig deep enough and eventually it is probably mostly, or all, there.  One thing that is not there are words about the trial; and that is strange, or not strange, depending on how one is inclined to view history and inclined to see and organize the facts.

As with any person, there were of course a lot of trials in Sylvester Churchill’s life.  He was a military man, hence his name on the fort.  Military men engage in acts of violence, are often victims of violence, often do violent and untoward things, and do so often without the benefit or use of conventional weapons.  In Churchill’s case, in the case of the rather special trial I’m referencing here, the previous statement may or may not be the case.

The ‘case’ in this case was the Court Martial of John C. Frémont, a court martial is the bringing of charges, then comes the trial.  Sylvester Churchill was a trial judge at the court martial trial of Frémont.  To be clear, he was the ranking judge on a panel of judges, or so it appears, or so it seems.  The issue of rank can be so confusing.

Actually, it was an issue of rank that led to the charges.  Stephen Watts Kearny arrived in California about the time that most all of the fighting, and squabbling, and competition and contesting for power and the control of California (Alta California back then) was virtually over.  The Russians were out, the Spanish were out, the British were out, the Mexican government had been out a very long time, and when Kearny arrived even the Californios had been pretty much defeated.  One battle, and one march more, and the war was over on the western front.  It should have been quite quiet in California.


Mexico 1838, click to enlarge.

The Mexican War, the War with Mexico, the Mexican-American War are all names that can be so misleading.  There is some truth in it (the names) of course.  Empires die slowly and names often continue after their death.  New nations, new states, arise in the old states ashes.  In California the new state was the California Republic, or the American Republic, one or the other, no one was really sure.  Think, “fog of battle.”

There was never really ‘war’ in California.  Every skirmish was really quite half-hearted.  Most strategic points and places fell, gave up, rolled over, or surrendered without a fight, or much of fight.  Alta California was not Mexico, in the east, state-side, this was never really understood.

Frémont organized the peace, he signed the agreement.  He made promises that only he could ever keep.  Kearny never understood any of this.  When Frémont became (military) governor Kearny decided he wanted to be governor too, or instead, or something or another.  It was complicated.  ‘Rank’ was said to be the issue.  In peace there became war.  It was a war between California and customs; between California practices and military customs (not orders per se).  It was a war pitting east vs. west before the discovery of gold would change both regions forever.

Frémont was very much a national hero, Kearny was famous for horses (cavalry), but otherwise almost a nobody.  Frémont was “supported” by his father-in-law Senator Benton, a very big man of the time, Manifest Destiny and all, more of an effort to take a continent than just California.  The quote has a meaning.  It was complicated then, it’s still complicated now.

After several changes of venue, and after a fair amount of delay, proceedings began in November in Washington City, in the District of Columbia, at a location so very different then than it is now.  Schools change.  The lessons learned then are not necessarily the lessons learned now.

The evidence then, and the evidence now, remains now, as it was then, muddled.  If I lived on Kearny Mesa I might see it all differently.  I don’t, so I don’t.  I’ll stay true to my school.  The Kearny conspiracy was an injustice, a counter-revolution, a deep thorn in the side of very carefully made plans.  The fate of nations were at stake, even the world.  How much of the truth can ever be uncovered and told is still rather unknown.  But I’m working on it.  I’m mapping it.  Like Frémont, I’m researching and exploring all the possibilities.

Sincerely yours,
Donald

The politics of ‘Taking’

August 3rd, 2015

~ “There are no political solutions.”

The above quote is from the Profile on my Twitter page, @CityofNikko.  After a lifetime participating in, witnessing, and pondering politics that is my honest conclusion.  Politics and virtually all politicians just haven’t gotten us anywhere; at least not anywhere particularly good.

There is no ‘politics of inclusion’; politics is mostly about exclusion, separation, the ‘we’ versus the ‘they’.  Politics is polarizing, it is multi-polar.  Politics postulates that every voter is a member of the downtrodden, the threatened, the wise that if they only just had a little more power could actually ‘win’.  Billionaires, peasants, undocumented immigrants, border guards (or just guards) for the rich, it’s all and always the same – the threatened and downtrodden seeking salvation through the power of the vote; the power of the political party.

Did I mention the theory that this endless, timeless, struggle is between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’?  On one side the idea is to have the ‘haves’ protected in their endless pursuit of taking, ‘just taking’, without the justice, as in ‘just take it’.  On the other side is the endless clamor for wealth redistribution, a new deal, a fair deal, a ‘better deal’ perhaps.  It’s like the pursuit in buying another new or used car; it’s supposed to be just transportation, but pretty soon it becomes ones’ whole, entire life.


If it’s an orchard, is there shortage?  At what age should one work?

‘Taking’ has become America’s most watched spectator sport.  Every one is tracking it, keeping score, paying attention to tax brackets, incomes, bonuses, salaries and very often net worth.  Forbes produces an annual list of ‘winners and losers’; if you’re not on the Forbes list you are a loser, or so the meme goes.

The Horatio Alger version, according to most millionaires and billionaires, is that there is always enough money to go around.  The extreme version is that the planet could have 7 billion billionaires; all consuming resources as aggressively as most billionaires do.  The planet would be fine with 10 billion airplanes, 21 billion cars, 49 billion 7 bedroom houses, and 20 billion private gardeners, butlers, chauffeurs, cooks, and maids.  But then, that is where the question of whether all those service people can all be billionaires too enters in.

Most Americans never get that far.  A billion, even a million or two is too much to expect, or ask for.  Most Americans are inclined to settle for an increase in minimum wage, a larger social security check, a bigger annual tax write-off on the business, or a bigger government contract as a part of big (or bigger) business.  If one is unemployed, all they want out of government might be a job.  If one has a government job, one just wants benefits and a better retirement.  If one is retired it’s probably interest they are after, or a government interest in the ‘health’ of the market.

The theory of accounting suggests that in the end there is a ledger.  The ledger suggests that it is a zero sum game; what goes into one pocket comes out of another, “your loss is my gain.”  The gain is the ‘taking’, the ‘take’.  In an unjust system there is never a profit, just the ‘take’, gotten by ‘whatever it takes’.

The idea of politics is that by political debate and persuasion a politician can get one party or another to give up what they have, or a portion of what they have, willingly.  The idea is to appeal to the ‘common good’, to ‘patriotic spirit’, to a sympathy for the rich or a sympathy for the poor, with the idea that if one makes a “sacrifice” (now) the quality of life will be better (for them) in the long run.  Politics is not about altruism, it is defined as the pursuit of self interest.  In the end the rich do not really want a revolution, and in the end the poor really do know that life would be far more satisfactory without the rich even existing.  It’s not ‘give and take’, it’s a quandary.

The campaign slogan for Barry Goldwater was, “in you heart you know he’s right.”  It was a pun of sorts, ‘Barry’ was the right-wing politician, Rockefeller, his primary opponent, was further left.  ‘Bernie’ Sanders might run as, “the only one left to vote for.”  It’s the same idea, a political pun, for the run.

But, Barry was right.  It’s the ‘heart’ thing.  Every American in their heart knows that the rich are never going to give up one single dime as a result of political pressure.  Patriotism just will not go that far, nor fear of a revolution, nor common good, nor some moral saw about ‘doing the right thing’.  It’s not 1964 anymore, even Kansas isn’t Kansas anymore.

So the idea that politics as usual has a chance of solving or sorting out anything is totally bogus.  The change must come from somewhere far deeper.  It’s not apple pie and the American way anymore, that train left the station.


Back of the train politics, or is it just being ‘railroaded’?

To coin a phrase, stop the whistlestop speeches, enough is enough.

K through 12

August 1st, 2015

~ The American educational system explained, or maybe there’s no explanation.

I’ve been working on updates to the Bernie Sanders (Bernard Sanders) timeline (Teppline) that I started (HERE).  It’s fairly slow going, trying to sort out Bernie’s educational history when there is really so little history available.  This is revealing.

Bernie never claimed to be a particularly good student.  He was more into sports and politics, he didn’t seem to care much about or use libraries.  Carnegie, I guess, never made an impression on him.

What did make an impression on Bernie Sanders was the New York City school known as P.S. #197.  Apparently (and I’m still not really sure), PS 197 was a K-8 school, one name, one big building, one address.  After this “elementary school” experience Bernie moved on to attend James Madison High School in New York City, borough of Brooklyn.  JMHS was the typical grade 9-12 (‘Freshman through Senior’) high school experience, or more accurately, ‘configuration’.  When Bernie graduated from High School in June of 1960, he had completed his K – 12 American compulsory education experience.  A ‘college education’ was not, and is not, compulsory in America.  That could change.


View of San Diego college (looking east, not north) from the air as seen on page 5 of Del Sudoeste1932 (now San Diego State University).

Having grown up in California and Nevada (in the west) where things are not necessarily done as they are in Brooklyn and much of the east, I kept looking to find which ‘Junior High School’ Bernard Sanders attended.  In the west, traditionally, one first goes to Elementary School, then attends Junior High School, then graduates and moves on to High School.  Often the 8th grade graduation from Junior High was a very big thing.

The idea behind the Junior High School concept was based on the easily observable fact that it was not a good idea to have first and second graders on the same campus (in the same school) as 7th and 8th graders.  It was along the same lines of thinking that suggested that girl and boy scouts should not share quarters with frat houses and sororities.  You get the idea.  ‘Different ages, different sizes; one size doesn’t really fit all.’

Originally, in America, High School was like a College education is today.  Not that many students attended a high school ‘back then’ (say circa 1912).  And far fewer attended college, unless it was a “teachers college.”  High Schools in the 1930’s were like colleges (today).  They had fraternities and sororities active on campus, fashion was often important, parties and clubs, even club life, were always de rigueur.

The whole process of socialization, or job training, depending upon one’s perspective, began in Kindergarten.  Kindergarten was conceived as either a free ‘day care’ program so that working parents could work (two parents, both working outside the house) or as a ‘transition’ experience to get very young children used to a life away from the home, i.e. to get the child used to ‘society wide’ values and socially dictated accepted behavior.

Even in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in America, Kindergarten was usually only half day.  American Exceptionalism still often maintained a standard of living (or lifestyle expectations) where only one parent needed to work to support a family.  As America became less exceptional the need for the ‘free day care’ aspect of Kindergarten increased, so today in America there is not only full day Kindergarten, but also ‘Pre-K’ programs that even feed, clothe, and ‘daycare’ the very young all-American child, all at public expense.

In Bernard Sanders day Kindergarten was probably not compulsory.  Bernie’s mother did not (apparently) work outside the home.   She probably stayed home and cared for, trained, socialized, Bernie at home, teaching and training the traditional Jewish working-class religious and cultural values; often including Marx, Freud, Einstein, Stalin, and the often obvious others.

Compulsory education in America, in most states, is now K – 12, with a few minor exceptions.  Provision for ‘home-schools’ and ‘home-schooling’ has always been allowed.  Usually there is a requirement for testing.  Bernie Sanders was apparently never home-schooled, per se.

There are, and always have been, variations on the ‘middle school’, ‘intermediate school’, Junior High School, configuration and experience.  Often middle school lasts for three years, 6th through 8th grade, or 7th through 9th.  The last possibility creates the 3 year High School program (configuration), which was the plan at the high school I went to, Reno High.


Reno High School (RHS), in Reno, Nevada, before it first opened in September 1951.


Front entrance to Reno High School (RHS), still standing, many years later.

Bernie Sanders plan is to effectively integrate American colleges into the ‘free public education’ plan that characterizes the present ‘free K -12’ system, a ‘free K – 16’ educational system, with ‘college included’.  It would take a lot of preparation and planning to do this.  It might even include a necessary and proper clarification of what the national education agenda really looks like, where it is going, and who is it designed to really serve.  What is clear to me, is that the current ‘student loan‘ system does not serve any agenda but free (subsidized) job training for the large corporations, and big money for the banks.